Tuesday, 23 April 2013

My last minute getaway to the Welsh mountains

Can you tell me where this year has gone already?

 2013 is the year that went by at double speed.

Just after the last 4am Project event, I realised I hadn't taken a break this year already. Maybe the odd weekend off, and I have mainly been sticking to having a day off a week, but all of a sudden I felt like I need to STOP.

And there began the rush and many hours of online searching for my the secluded countryside cottage I had in mind. I wanted to be as far away from civilisation (whilst still being civilised!) as I could comfortably get.

It did me the world of good to get away and re-charge my batteries. I slept loads, took walks up hills and down vales and got more fresh air than was probably good for me lol.

The search was worth it. I found the perfect place to unwind, slow down and come to a complete stop.

Check out my Storify for pics and vines and tweets and more! 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

My child free choice

It's Mother's Day today and I will be spending it with the luckiest mum in the world haha.

My mum is awesome. We get on great and she is so generous and kind and funny too. Check out some her videos!  She's got all the qualities of a brilliant mum! And thankfully I've got her good looks hehee.

I haven't got a maternal side like my mum though.

I'll never be a mother.

I have given thought about the pros and cons of having a child. I have weighed things up rationally. I don't have that biological clock dictating that I must reproduce. My priorities in life are different.

I've made a positive choice and I have many dreams, goals and ambitions, and none of them include a child.

Some people say 'Oh, you don't know what you will miss out on!'

I know exactly what I will miss out on:

Waking up at my leisure every day
Years and years of to-ing and fro-ing on school runs
Not being able to go out on my own without involving babysitters and notifying people
Tantrums, crying and moody teenagers
Peace and serenity
Doctor and hospital visits
The pain of giving birth
Being tied to a man forever whether I like him or not
Competitive parents
Strained relationships
Easy travel

but most importantly of all is that I will miss out on......


Freedom to travel at a moments notice
Freedom to do what I want when I want
Freedom from consulting others
Freedom to pursue my dreams
Freedom to sit quietly and read
Freedom to spend my money how I like
Freedom to daydream without interruption


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Bits you may have missed this year!

Hello! I've missed you. How have you been? I want to give you a big hug!

I had nearly completed this blog post a week ago and then, BAM!, blogger had other ideas and then deleted the whole flipping lot.

This year is going by scarily fast. I can't keep up with it! Still, it's better than being bored and boring and feeling like time is dragging.

This is a bit of a quick recap of some of highlights of 2013 so far! More to come, I hope. No, there's no 'hope' about it. There will be more highlights if I have anything to do with it.

Let's dive in!

Newsletter: I thought it high time I start a monthly newsletter; Notes on social media, photography and doing the work you love. It's something I think I should have done a long time ago really, but better late than never. There have only been two issues so far and it's been an interesting process, which I've written about here.  Also, there comes with it a little pressure (self imposed I guess) of 'Will people like it? How will I feel if they unsubscribe? Will anyone subscribe to it?'. But sure, you have to try these things and ignore any self doubts or you wouldn't do anything. And I'm so appreciative when someone subscribes! If you would like to get it too, please feel free to subscribe here!

The first and second Birmingham Social Media Cafe events of the year have gone really well with a great turn outs and a interesting mix of social media peeps from the city! 29th March will be the next event so come along if you are in/near/can get to Bham and want to mix and mingle with peeps with a shared interest in social media for work and play! 

Digital City Social Graph by Brian Simpson
I went along to the BBC's Digital News Day in January. It was a day of events aimed at people in involved or interested in digital media in the city. I blogged some hyperlocal thoughts that came from the day and the seemingly increased demand for hyperlocal news sharing.

First London EyeEm Meetup

Photo by the Wheyway
EyeEm is a Berlin based photo app and it's become a very strong rival for instagram, especially after the instagram terms and conditions debacle.

EyeEm ambassadors are getting on board in lots of cities around the world, and I was invited along to the first London EyeEm Meetup which was arranged by Dirk Singer.

Photo by Kaaren. Pay attention everyone! :) 
Check out EyeEm's blog about the chilly but fun photo walk around Greenwich and check out awesome photos from the event. 

'My' book launch!

For the first time I have contributed to a book! And not just any old book, it's the Community Lover's Guide To Birmingham!  My chapter was a about the 4am Project and creating a global project from scratch and not waiting for the right time or any one's permission. The chapters should be available to read free online sometime, so I'll give it a shout out then! Lorna Prescott has made a great Storify about the launch event!

Being Social!

One of my goals this year is to be more social. The going-out-and-seeing-people-in-person kinda social. A friend said that he thought I go out and about all the time, but really, I don't! I can be quite a hermit, lost in my own happy world of work. I know that I do need to get out more and meet up with friends more often, so with that in mind, I'm arranging Being Social Days. I'll pick a day, get in touch with friends, and schedule a whole day of meeting and chatting and catching up. So far so good! I think this is a nice addition to my generally going out and about!

There's a few of my highlights of the year so far. I am seriously scared about how fast this year is going!

And I really don't want to neglect this blog. I guess Karen Strunks Media is getting it's share of blog posts, but I do want to spread them out evenly. If in doubt, just stop by karenstrunks.com which is where I keep track of everything under one roof!

How is your year going so far? Is it going to quickly? Is it exciting enough? Do you need more excitement in it? What are you looking forward to the most?! We've still got about 10 months to fill! :)

Say Hi on twitter @karenstrunks 

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The best leek and potato soup recipe in the world!

Following on from my popular soup series (okay, just one other post), I bring you.....


This recipe makes 3 large bowls and you will need:

2 leeks
3 medium potatoes
2 medium onions
1 veggie stock cube
2 cloves of garlic
1 healthy pinch of black pepper
1 good pinch of salt

This is a rough, ready and fast soup.

Peels what needs peeling and just chop it all up as rough as you like.

Put in a pan and put in enough water so that the vegetables are just covered.

Cook for 30 mins or so.

Whizz it up!


Healthy, hearty, low cal, no fat and super duper tasty. 

Don't forget to check out my Best Butternut Squash Soup Recipe in the world too!

Say Hi on twitter! @karenstrunks

Friday, 4 January 2013

Comment on BBC WM: Do we need to preserve our urban views.

I took a call from BBC WM yesterday asking me for a comment, as a photographer, on former heritage minister John Penrose's idea that the finest urban views in our cities and towns should be protected. Here's the article in The Telegraph.

It's still available on Listen Again for the next 5 days so tune in while you can! It starts 48:20 minutes in.

I think John Penrose's idea is certainly different but I'm not sure how it could be executed successfully in cities where the landscape is always changing.

I don't think views are always ruined by redevelopment. In fact, new buildings and architecture can enhance city's aspects.

Could preserving certain urban views have a detrimental effect on industry? If a business can't build, where will the jobs go and in turn the growth of towns and cities.

What would constitute a heritage view? How would it be decided?

John Madin's Central Library is due to be demolished. I was very fortunate that the Central Library gave permission for access to the building for the 4am Project.

Ben Waddington looks over Centenary Square
Photo by Mark Wilson

The urban view from the roof top of the library is wonderful, but that particular view won't be there much longer. Though as one building goes, another will appear on the horizon and perhaps offer an even better view of an urban landscape (which of course is all down to personal taste and opinion anyway).

On my 'Being a tourist in my own city' day I took to the 25th Floor of the fairly new The Cube. I was amazed by the views! Those views may not exist if redevelopment had been halted.

Watch on youtube.

I'm all for an ever-changing urban landscape. Unless you touch my favourite building of course!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy New Year! Hello 2013

I'm trying to find some wise words to kick off my new year post.

I'm feeling my usual gung-ho-ness about a brand new year, and already it feels like 2013 is off to a flying start! I'm feeling really happy, optimistic and taking time to celebrate achievements, big and small.

In a conversation with a good friend I was reminded how we rarely pauses to enjoy the now. I know I don't. I'm always looking ahead; to the next goal, to the next adventure, to the next journey, to the next whatever. I think to myself, "I want this, that and that to happen" and "In my ideal life this and that will happen, and I'll be doing this". I keep looking ahead, always with the future in mind, and it's just dawned on me that "this, that and that" have happened, they do happen and I'm looking ahead so much I don't actually realise what I want is happening at the time!

So, this year I am going to try and be more mindful; to enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Sometimes peeps say "Oh, you are so lucky!", but I disagree. I'm not lucky at all; I don't believe in luck. I work really hard for the successes I have. I strive for more. Of course I love doing what I do and I'm grateful I have the wherewithal to make plans, set things in motion and get to my goals. I've just realised I sound a bit serious, I'm not, I'm just grateful and very appreciative, and being mindful!

So, onto this brand new year!

What are you going to do to keep being happy? What are you going to change to be even happier?! If we are not happy with something it's down to us to change our situation, or adjust our outlook and perception. 

About 15 years ago I read a book about the power of positive thinking. Unfortunately I can't remember the exact title or who it was by (it wasn't this popular book by Normal Vincent Peale though) but it had a huge effect on me and my attitude. Looking back I used to be fairly negative in my thinking; my glass was half empty. The biggest lesson I took from that book was that I could learn to be more positive. It was a very easy thing to do, much easier to do that I first anticipated; whenever a negative thought popped into my mind I would change it to a positive one, even if I didn't really believe it at the time. 

For example: 

Negative - Oh, I'm never going to be able to run a mile so what's the point in even trying. 

Positive - I can't wait to be able to run a mile! It will take some time and effort and I'm going to feel great when I am able to do it! 

Over a period of time I re-trained my brain by catching the negative self-talk as it happened and replacing it with something a lot more positive. And it worked! My outlook changed, I felt happier, I felt like I could do more and achieve more and my confidence grew. I went on to take a year long life coaching course and gained a qualification there, and also qualified as an NLP (neuro linguistic programming) practitioner. I never looked back. I got out of a job that I had done for far too long which was getting me down, went travelling around the USA, moved house and started the process of doing work that I love. 

It's important to surround yourself with positive people too! The company you keep has a huge influence on you. Spend time with people who make you feel great. Connect with people you admire. A goal for 2012 was to bannish negative people from my life, and doing that has made such a wonderful difference! I highly recommend it. 

This time last year I wanted to get my online profile in order, and I've done that. If you want to keep up to date with everything I am up to with work and play, then karenstrunks.com is the best place to be! It's my portfolio site and I update with all my blog posts from other areas. 

I also wanted to be braver and bolder, and push myself out of my comfort zone. I think I've done that to some degree but it's a work in progress and something I'm going to continue to do; saying yes, and seeking out adventures along the way. 

London! Having spent more time in the city last year I've got it in my sights and I'm very excited about new work opportunities in the Big Smoke!

Right! Time to get on and get going with 2013! :) 

Whatever you do with the brand new year, have a blast! Make it your sparkliest yet! 

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