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60 Days of Vaping

Another update as I’ve now hit the two month mark since smoking my last cigarette. For the last 60 days, I’ve been happily vaping and I’m not even tempted when standing next to someone smoking tobacco.

Which is nice.

I’m still mainly on 12mg liquid, but have been starting to experiment with 6mg during the day, and it’s slowly becoming normal. At some point I’ll need to just make the switch permanently…

60 Days of Vaping Totals:

  • 900 cigarettes not smoked.
  • £450 of cigarettes not bought.
  • Total cost of vaping so far: Kit £92. Liquids and coils £100.50. Total £192.50.
  • Savings: £257.50
  • Potentially: 150 hours of life, or 6.25 days regained.
  • And I’ve also managed 280+ push-ups and 280+ squats over the last 14 days.

So I’m healthier and £250 better off after two months. I’m pretty happy with that!

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50 Vapes of Days

There are a variety of different studies and opinions which try to define how long it takes to form a new habit. From 21 days to 66 or 90, the answer varies. Probably because people do.

So I don’t know how long you’ve stuck with something before it became a natural habit. But I’d be interested to find out. Certainly I’ve found that writing regularly about progress has been helpful, as I’m not someone who finds updating a spreadsheet on daily ‘quantified self metrics’ particularly enjoyable. But weekly updates on here remind me to keep going – even if I might be starting to bore friends on Facebook and Twitter.

So 50 days of vaping today:

  • 750 cigarettes not smoked.
  • £375 of cigarettes not bought.
  • Total cost of vaping so far: Kit £92. Liquids and coils: £88.50. Total: £180.50
  • Savings: £194.50
  • Potentially 125 hours of life, or 5.2 days re-gained.
  • And coincidentally, since getting the inclination to exercise again: 160+ push-ups, and 160+ squats. I can’t be exact as I’ve set my minimum at 20 per day, and anything over that is a bonus.

The savings weren’t as big as they might have been, as I stocked up with a new pack of coils (the first tank I bought finally needed a replacement), and 2 weeks of liquid (but with half at 6mg nicotine as opposed to 12mg). Bit annoying, as my savings would have been over £200 otherwise, but I’ll hit that in the next day. And that’s not counting lighters, or the petrol for late night trips to the corner shop.

I’m still very happy with the Apsire Zelos and Nautilus tank. For reference, I’m using it for Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) vaping and generally around 13-13.5 watts depending on the thickness of the liquid.

Might need to experiment with some new flavours though. It seems that a lot of people like a sweeter taste than me, and I definitely like more fruit and citrus flavours. So any recommendations are much appreciated…

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6 Weeks of Vaping

Just a quick check in to keep tracking my vaping progress. Today is the 6 week mark, or 42 days since I last smoked a cigarette.

Which is:

  • 630 cigarettes not smoked.
  • Roughly £315 of cigarettes not bought.
  • Cost of vaping: Initial set up £92. Liquids and coils: £52. Total: £144.
  • Saving: £171.
  • Health cost of smoking averaged at 10 minutes of lifespan means 6,300 minutes more. Or 105 hours. Or 4.4 days. Likely at a higher level of health.
  • And despite my resistance to mid-life Lycra, I’ve started exercising again. Just the 20+ press-ups and squats per day, but it’s noticeably easier in terms of breathlessness than it was. Although my arms and shoulders are as weak as they were before I started the first time before Christmas.
  • Plus my circulation has noticeably improved, particularly in my feet and toes. No more ice cold feet, or waking up in the middle of the night with cramp in my feet.
  • Finally my sense of smell is now like a cross between a superpower and a Bill Hicks sketch
    “Someone is smoking a cigarette 2 miles away”
    “Has someone 3 houses away used manure on their garden?”
    “Is that a dead body?”

And from today I’m going to be trying a lower nicotine level mixture, moving from 12mg of nicotine down to 6mg during the day. Fortunately with my back up Eleaf iStick as well as my Aspire, I can play around and it’s not a big deal if it doesn’t work out yet.

Eleaf-iStick-40W

So there you go. Expect another update when I get to the 2 month mark.

 

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Will Open Source Inherit The Desktop?

The future is entirely mobile and in the cloud. That’s what every news article and analyst tells me. Desktop computers are only needed by a tiny percentage of people. And we don’t need processing power when our files are in Dropbox, our work is on Google Docs, images are edited in Adobe Creative Cloud, and all our music and video needs are covered by Spotify, Netflix and Amazon Prime. And we can run them all via superfast, completely reliable broadband allowing us to be incredibly productive at the remaining tasks not already performance by artifical intelligence.

Sounds lovely, but it’s not my reality.

The predictions do make sense. And it’s not surprising that cloud-based software-as-a-service has taken off. Why only make a profit on a single sale when you can get lifetime payments via a subscription model without pesky duplication or retail stores taking a cut?

But in my world, I have a standard broadband connection shared with other people in my house. And that passes through some TP Link Powerline adaptors due to flakey wifi. While they give me a stable connection, it’s not the fastest as it passes through 1960s era electrical wiring.

And while I love my phone, I’m either too old or too clumsy to write long passages or edit photos on it. And I’d rather keep it reasonably streamlined with the handful of apps I actually need to use, rather than loading every possible work and pleasure-related service onto it.

Which is why I not only believe Open Source will inherit the desktop, but I’m thankful for it.

Open Source Will Inherit The Desktop

So open source is not a new thing. Open Source software has been around for decades, and has many advocates and users. Examples you may be familiar with include Richard Stallman anouncing plans for GNU in 1983, Linux appearing in 1991, WordPress in 2003, Ubuntu in 2004, OpenOffice which began in 1999 and has been forked into various versions, including LibreOffice in 2010.

Plus Apache, Firefox, Android, and many, many more projects.

And in some areas, open source software is the default. But the typical consumer desktop is still generally either Windows for a PC or Mac OS.

But as the main proprietary desktop software companies increasingly move towards the cloud, that leaves a greater potential for Open Source to fill the void. For example, Microsoft has recently announced the end of MS Paint, and Windows Essentials was retired in January, 2017.

While some of those products have been replaced or integrated into Windows, Live Writer has been forked and open sourced to continue as Open Live Writer for those wishing to continue to blog via their desktop. I already mentioned LibreOffice for those needing a decent suite of office software. And I’ve personally used GIMP for image editing as an alternative to Photoshop and simpler tools – the Gimpshop version might be even easier for Photoshop users to transfer across. I’ve used Filezilla more times than I care to count – I’d be surprised if it isn’t the most used FTP software in the world by now. And VLC Media Player has coped with legally purchased official DVDs that have refused to work via the Windows DVD player for whatever reason…

Even my father appreciated Ubuntu when I installed it on his old laptop, but then again, I was replacing Windows Vista.

The thing is, some of those open source projects are a little clunkier than their proprietary counterparts. Not everything in LibreOffice, or Gimp is quite as intuitive, even thought it’s still perfectly usable when you find it. And there are occasionally driver issues with Ubuntu that you don’t tend to get as often with Windows, for example. When people make software and hardware, they’re used to catering to Windows and Mac first.

But when everything proprietary is moving to the cloud, and ‘normal’ people need desktop solutions, that means greater demand for compatability. And a bigger demand for improving the user interfaces and ease-of-use for all the main open source applications.

Which then makes it easier and more accessible for the next group of users.

Having worked on open source projects, I’ve seen the difference even small changes can make to a user base when a product becomes simpler and easier to use.

You can tell the current audience of Ubuntu by their latest news and spotlight articles, ‘Developing Ubuntu using git’, and ‘Speed up your software development lifecycle using Kubernetes’. Compare that to ‘Windows 10 helps you do great things’.

Whether or not the open source world will take advantage of this new opportunity to take over a still valuable space remains to be seen. But unless something incredibly radical happens with broadband access in the UK, the available bandwith means desktop applications which use minimal data will still be required for a long time yet.

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The Digital Generation Gap in 3 sentences…

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been talking about going to the cinema with my son and my parents. And it perfectly illustrates the digital divide between 3 generations of my family. And it can also be summed up in 3 sentences.

  • The day before we plan on going to see a film, my parents drove 20 minutes to the nearest cinema. And went inside to book tickets.
  • The hour before I planned on taking my son to see a film, I went online to check the local cinema times and available seats. And book and pay online via a credit or debit card.
  • My son expects to be able to get a seat for any film almost instantly just by announcing that’s what he wants to do.

It’s easy to mock my parents spending so much time on a relatively trivial task. Then again, they also had the time to incorporate a nice walk, scope out some local eateries, and have a spot of lunch.

My version is more efficient in terms of time. But less pleasaent. And also more susceptible to the risks of online payments. Plus I didn’t get a nice lunch or any fresh air.

Meanwhile my son currently relies on me to fulfill his demands when he’s staying with me. But given the rise of voice assistants (Siri, Alexa, etc), it won’t be long before his expectations may become normal. (And I should make it clear that he’s not ill-mannered, or doesn’t get there’s a finite supply of seats in a cinema – he’s just increasingly used to games, TV, music etc all being available on-demand in the modern era. So sometimes it takes reminding that spaces might be limited on an opening weekend).

The Digital Generation Gap in 3 sentences

The challenge for any business is to decide which age group they need to serve. Or how to cope with all three demands in the best possible way.

That may mean being able to provide in-person service, an amazing website and app, and also making everything as available on-demand via voice search.

Or it could be convincing me that it’s worth making the trip in person. And persuading my son that the experience is worth any waiting required…

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30 Days of Vapes and Hijinks

Yesterday marked 30 days since my last cigarette. And since then, I’ve gone through various stresses related to work and personal matters. And also managed to go on a couple of evenings in the pub. Yet, despite being in the company of various smokers, I haven’t been tempted…

I’m still noticing improvements to smell, taste, lung capacity and energy. I certainly seem to be able to exert myself more without being out of breath. And I’ve started feeling a strange urge to get more exercise. I’ve managed to avoid any worrying temptation to invest in lycra clothing, but I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out…

30 Days of Vapes and Hijinks

So as a smoking replacement/cessation method, vaping has been really working for me. And although it’s still not good for me, I’m happy with all the evidence of the risk reduced to around 90-95% of smoking. The more I think about what would happen if I had to stop vaping overnight, the more it seems likely I would just stop using anything than go back to smoking.

Which is why I’m looking forward to moving down nicotine strengths shortly. In the meantime, here are some quick scores:

  • Approximately 450 cigarettes not smoked.
  • Cost of 450 cigarettes roughly £210.
  • Cost of initial vaping kit, including back up tank: £92.
  • Cost of liquids and coils per month – approx £40.
  • Various estimates of the negative impact of cigarettes would say you lose between 5-14 minutes of life for each one you smoke. Obviously that’s an average based on typical lifespan etc, but taking it as 10 minutes, that’s 4,500 minutes, or 75 hours, per month. Or 37.5 days per year. By the time I’m around 60, that’s more than 2 years worth of potential extra days.
  • If I never stop vaping, and buy a new kit every year for the next 20 years, I’ll save:
    Cost of 20 years smoking: £50,400!
    Cost of 20 years vaping: £11,440.
    Saving: £38,960

Not rigorously scientific, but good encouragement to keep in mind. I’ve also decided that Peach flavour liquid works particularly well to compliment craft IPA, and without doing a side-by-side test, my one hangover appeared to be much less of a problem to deal with.

One other thing I’ve definitely benefitted from is using some of the money I’ve saved on relatively instant gratification (some much-needed new trainers and jeans). While it’s good to have a longterm goal for savings plans (which I also have), when you’re reinforcing a more positive habit, having some fairly quick rewards definitely makes a big difference.

For the record, I currently use:

  • An Aspire Zelos 50W kit with Nautilus 2 Tank.
  • Back-up Nautilus 2 Tank
  • Back-up Eleaf iStick 40W donated by a very nice friend.
  • 12mg eliquid (roughly 20-25ml per week)

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It’s Great When You Vape, Yeah

So I’ve just gone past 3 weeks since my last cigarette. And I’m still surprised at how easy it’s been. When I’m low on nicotine, my foolish brain still occasionally reverts to thinking about tobacco, but it’s only around half the time. And it goes as soon as I’ve spend a few moments vaping – which is slowly becoming what my lizard brain associates with my addiction.

The plan is to continue on 12mg vape liquid until I associate any cravings with vaping rather than smoking. At which point I’m going to switch down to 6mg during the day, which means I’ll start consuming less nicotine that I would have been smoking in the past.

And I’ve managed to cope with a couple of stressful events without going back to cigarettes. When I did have to go without vaping for a couple of hours due to user error (I thought the tank/coil was faulty as I hadn’t cleared out the excess liquid enough), I managed to get by with a couple of nicotine lozenges until I could go back to my local vape shop and get some more experienced assistance. As a result, I ended up buying a spare tank, so I’m now covered whatever happens – and having learned to mop up any excess liquid from inside the coil after every refill, I’ve had no problems since.

Quick Vaping Financial Summary:

  • 23 days of smoking would have cost me around £161.
  • 23 days of vaping has cost me £128.99. That’s £70 for the kit. £22.99 for the tank, and £36 for liquid. And I still have a few more days worth of liquid left.
  • Next month I won’t need a kit or tank. So the maximum expenditure will be around £36 for liquid and possibly £4 worth of coils. And that’s how much a month should cost me until such time as I need a new box or tank.
  • So that’s £120 saved per month in future.
  • And even in the first month, I’d have saved around £30+, if I hadn’t decided to treat myself to a new pair of trainers as a reward – to be fair, I’ve needed a pair for months…

 

Vaping and my Health?

So far I’ve been breathing a lot more easily, and feeling more energised during and after exercise. And sleeping better – I don’t seem to be suffering from sleep apnea any more. Or getting as many cases of cramp. Which should mean that my circulation has improved a fair amount – it’s hard to tell given the hot weather, but my fingers and toes certainly feel warmer…

I do get a bit of a tickly cough if I overdo a vaping session – but it’s gone pretty much straight afterwards. And I’d had a throaty cough before switching – along with a chesty cough due to all the crud in my lungs. So that’s much improved, although I may have to experiment with different liquids and settings in the future to see if I can find the perfect settings for me.

The best bit so far has actually been the health of others. I always tried to be a considerate smoker, going outside and standing away from family and friends. And I take a similar approach to vaping. But in the past, smoking definitely irritate my family – and one of my parents would constantly be coughing due to an existing lung condition. Since vaping, my parents no longer rush to close any windows to the garden, and my son has told me ‘your breath smells nice’ for the first time since he was born almost a decade ago.

It's Great When You Vape, Yeah

I never looked cool when I smoked. And I don’t look cool vaping. But I have managed to avoid sinking into the world of sub-ohm DTL DIY mod boxes and other complications. I’m sticking with convenience. Plug in the box once every 1.5 days or so to charge it. Fill it up roughly once a day. And each time, make sure I’m sticking some kitchen roll into the coil and mouthpiece to mop up any excess. I should really wipe everything down each refill, but at the moment about 1 out of every 3 refills works fine for vaping without any excess gurgling/spitting issues.

So basically my entire technical support and maintence kit is a roll of cheap kitchen tissue.

What else?

I’m finding the flavours I like (Currently Peach, Strawberry with Lime and Blueberry from the Ultimate Version 2 range). And the ones I don’t enjoy as much (Thought I’d like Rhubarb and Custard much more than I did). And by switching between them, it stops me potentially getting bored of one. But I’ll have to see what else is around sometime soon for a bit of a change.

 

The Vaping/Smoking Paradox:

There is one weird thing about vaping. For some reason, it seems to make smokers go a little defensive. I used to have the same response, dismissing it as for lightweight artisan bearded hipsters. And now just wish I’d switched years ago.

Personally, I don’t actively enjoy the smell of cigarettes anymore, but I have no problem with people smoking next to me. It’d be a bit hypocritical. Plus it’s a handy test whether I’m tempted at all (And so far, I’m not). If people want to keep smoking, then they can go right ahead…

But I have noticed smokers seem keen to pick holes in vaping. Normally saying how they can’t be bothered with all the ‘paraphenalia’ (which seems odd when I can clearly remember last minute trips in the middle of the night to the petrol station for cigarettes, or desperately searching for an old box of matches when all my lighters had run out). Or my personal favourite, which is pointing out that there isn’t any longterm data on the relative health effects of vaping.

So we know that vaping definitely is less healthy than doing nothing at all. Nicotine by itself is relatively harmless in small doses and toxic in large ones. And the other vaping ingredients (propylene glycol/vegetable glycol/glycerol) are combined with flavourings – the glycol element can cause a bit of potential throat irritation, and the flavourings are the relatively unknown quantity in how they interact with the glycol when heated).

But we also know that smoking is definitely and  100% guaranteed to raise your chances of health problems long term. And a lot of that comes from the act of combusting tobacco, and the other additives in cigarettes to make them burn nicely, etc. It’s possible to smoke for years and still be healthy, but we also know it has an effect on those around you via passive smoking, and also means everything smells of stale baccy.

So it does seem remarkably weird when people say they won’t switch from smoking because there’s a potentially small chance of a longterm effect of vaping being discovered. As opposed to sticking with the one which is proven to be potentially deadly in the short, medium and longterm.

Still, at least now I can chuckle about it without coughing up a lung…

 

 

Incidentally, if you’re wondering about the strange title…

 

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The Great eVape – One Week On

Despite the fact I’ll soon run out of terrible puns, I figured it might be worth a quick update on my vaping exploits after the first week. Since sharing on social media that I’d swapped from cigarettes, an ever-increasing number of friends have revealed they’ve been vaping for a while. And the advice and encouragement doesn’t hurt when it comes to switching from tobacco, and then reducing the nicotine levels.

 

Vaping Week One:

The first result has been financial. My starter including liquids cost me £70 (you can get a cheaper deal online, but I wanted to ask questions etc in person). At 15 cigarettes per day on average, and a packet of 20 costing £10.00, the vaping kit will have paid for itself in 9.3 days.

Since then I’ve bought some more liquid flavours, at with 3 bottles of 10ml liquid costing £12. So far, a bottle is lasting me approximately 4 days or so. So that’s 12 more days of vaping for the same cost as under 2 days of smoking. I haven’t needed to replace a coil yet, but estimates are roughly 1 every two weeks, and there’s a spare in the starter kit. So by the time I need more, at around £2 each, I’ll have saved way more than the cost of getting started, and might even invest in a spare tank to be able to swap flavours around more regularly.

The reason for that is that I’m finding various flavours I enjoy, but after 2-3 days of the same flavour, I start craving a change.

Aspire Zelos 50W Starter Kit with Nautilus 2 Tank

The Aspire Zelos start kit I’m using

Second up is my cigarette addiction. Having smoked my last ‘analogue’ cigarette last Saturday, I can honestly say I haven’t been tempted. Even when a co-worker was stood next to me puffing away. When I crave nicotine, my mind does immediately think of cigarettes – but as soon as I grab my vape, that’s replaced by the idea of vaping instead. And slowly the lack of nicotine triggers a desire to vape rather than smoke. That’s definitely a good thing, as despite various debates around the exact health benefit, vaping is certainly better than smoking. And the plan is that once I’ve been using the same liquid for a while, I’ll start reducing the nicotine content.

At the moment, I’m on a 12mg concentation per 10ml of liquid. The plan is to reduce to 6mg or even 3mg at some point.

And in terms of health? It’s still early days, but I’m certainly starting to breath a little better and more clearly. Obviously there’s 20 years of cigarettes to clear over time, but it feels a little easier than when I’ve previously quit using patches or lozenges (once successfully for a long time, and a couple of attempts lasting days). Compared to patches, I’m not missing the psychological benefits of going outside and breathing deeply. And lozenges did tend to have a negative effect on my gums (not too surprising).

I already feel like I’m starting to sleep more effectively, which was one of the main problems I had due to smoking. Aside from coughing, I’d wake up randomly during the night, which I think was probably sleep apnea. That seems to have almost stopped already, along with any smoke-related snoring.

Downsides? I had a slight cough and sore throat before switching, which hasn’t gone yet. So if it’s still a problem in  few days, it might be time for a trip to the doctor to get it checked… And that’s it.

But that’s it. So far, so good. And in addition to better finances and better health, my family and friends have noticed the difference (no passive smoking, no smell of smoke). And I spend slightly less time on a vape break than a smoking break, so I’m even getting some of my day back!

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The Vape of Good Hope…

It’s official. After mocking the artisanal hipsters imitating a smoke machine in an eighties soft rock video, I’ve finally joined them. As of today, I am now a vaper.

When it comes to my bad habits, smoking cigarettes led the way by miles. While I might procrastinate, or get caught up in videogames more than I like, my work doesn’t allow for this to get out of hand. And my family also limit my ability to timewaste in a variety of ways.

Left to my own devices, I could eat more healthily. And I could certainly get more exercise. But I do eat a reasonably balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, and also try to get out for a walk fairly regularly.

And in the positives, I rarely drink to excess any more. Work, fatherhood, and my inability to handle hangovers as I’ve got older have all meant I prioritise quality over quantity. And even then, I probably manage less than a couple of pints a week on average.

But despite occasionally quitting for short periods in the past, I’ve maintained a smoking habit for about two decades now. And the only change in that time was swapping from my original Marlboro Reds to Marlboro Golds/Lights, which is hardly a healthy choice.

And it’s not just me that’s affected. Obviously the dangers of passive smoking are well known. So despite only smoking outside, it’s something which risks the health of family, friends, and anyone else around. Plus there’s the fact that my life is being conducted in an aroma of stale smoke, and I’ve become increasingly sepia-tinted.

Vape Smoke

Meanwhile one friend who previously smoked has completed multiple marathons since switching to vaping. Another has lost weight and toned up since switching and making the gym his new addiction. And various other people have repeatedly pointed out the cost savings and potential health benefits.

Vaping is still relatively new. So there aren’t a lot of long term studies on the health implications. And the tobacco industry isn’t noted for being an impartial, benevolent source of information on health risks. But on balance, the risks of vaping in the short term appear to be significantly less than those of continuing to smoke.

There is loads of information that I would urge people to take a look at before starting vaping. But although it still means a dependence on nicotine, and there are still some health risks, the current estimates that it’s somewhere around 5% as harmful as smoking.

(Wikipedia has a decent summary, as you’d expect.)

So less harmful. And less stinky – as of today, the aroma around me is mainly strawberries and lime. Plus, it’s also a lot cheaper. With a packet of 20 cigarettes costing around £10, even one of the higher end vaping systems will have paid itself back in 1-2 weeks.

I was actually kindly donated one kit by a friend after posting some vaping questions on Facebook. But decided to invest in a backup thanks to some persuasive sales techniques when I visited one of the many local vaping stores… I’m not regretting it though, as a spare will undoubtedly come in handy at some point.

Incidentally, the vaping set-up I’ve ended up with, replacing 10-15 cigarettes per day, is the Aspire Zelos. So far it’s been easy to use, worked well, and is small and light enough to carry around.

Hopefully I’ll be updating in the future as I lower the nicotine dosage with an eye on giving up inhaling any nicotine. But I’m happy to have made a start – and I’ll be even happier as my lung capacity returns and my bank balance improves…

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An Unexpected Gift…

Just a quick post to say a public thank you to Tia at WhoAteMyCrayons. Not just for an unexpected present that arrived in the post yesterday, but also for being an awesome designer who I’m pleased to be able to work with on occasional projects and wholeheartedly recommend for others.

And also for her amazing efforts with Digital People in Peterborough.

But anyway, ignoring my terrible photography, here’s what I received…

WhoAteMyCrayonsWallplanner

Anything that helps me plan more effectively and become more organised is always appreciated. Especially when it’s personalised, as an extra incentive to use it.

Considering the common ‘January Blues’, and the fact that I’ve returned to work after Christmas both fired up to make lots of progress, and battling a cold, and it’s a very welcome boost to remind me to keep moving forwards. And to finally find a nice office space to be able to put it up in (and take better pictures…)

It’s lovely quality, looks great and makes me smile when I’m trying to sort my life out. And it turns out you can buy your own with free personalisation), from Tia’s store for just £12.95.

 

Giving More Thanks in 2017:

One thing I definitely plan to do in 2017 is give more thanks to the many, many people who have had an impact on my life and work. It’s something that’s easy to let slip, but it’s definitely going to be a big part of changing my habits in 2017. And I’m reminded that although a quick email or instant message is nice, doing something which involves a little more effort is even better.