Embrace You| A Masterclass with Jessica Creighton

I naturally have an optimistic, hopeful and ambitious perspective on life; an outlook that has driven me to want to connect, learn and share with others. Naturally when beginning my blog I knew that I wanted Natalia Talks About to be a space that encompassed this, by sharing my “thoughts on daily life” as a woman in her 20’s. Over the last year, I’ve been focusing a lot of my attention on consistency, seizing the present moment and more recently the importance of self-acceptance. This is a lesson that perhaps most of us may have struggled with since our teen years. I’ve recently found myself drawn to podcasts, blog posts, YouTube videos and discussions all focused on how each person’s journey has led them to a similar destination to self-acceptance and positivity. Whether it’s mantras, affirmations, goal-setting, being authentic or simply being unapologetically you, it’s pretty clear that we all know that there are ways to get there, but truly recognizing that we are enough can be a lot easier said than done, right? However that is not to say that it’s not worth it. What’s more, is that you will definitely reap the rewards you deserve in more ways than one when you recognize that your uniqueness is actually your biggest asset.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” Oscar Wilde

I was fortunate enough to attend a masterclass with Jessica Creighton, who candidly spoke about how she “shouldn’t” be at the level of success she is now – statistically speaking that is. Jessica opened up about her background and how despite the odds of being a woman of colour from a single-parent home, growing up in a relatively poor council estate in London. Jessica has now gone on to become a successful broadcaster at Sky Sports News, but interestingly this wasn’t always her number one dream. Growing up,she was a ta lented footballer, a skill evident by her earning a scholarship at Charlton Football Club. Yet at the age of 16 she found herself at a crossroads, where she was forced to choose between cultivating her football talent further, or pursuing higher education in preparation for a potential university degree. After much careful consideration Jessica chose to pursue further study as women’s football unfortunately did not provide a decent or sustainable living wage at the time. Instead, Jessica was determined to use her strengths in academia, in particular writing, to gain a career in broadcast journalism. With unrelenting effort, consistency, confidence and belief in herself, she has since gone on to hold a career in presenting over the last 9 years. Her passion, knowledge and love for sport also remains ingrained within her and is a testament to her success and credibility as a presenter. Throughout the talk Jessica shared some valuable tips that we each can apply in our daily lives to help to achieve our wider goals and career development.

1. Bring something to the table

Whilst trying to build relationships and find opportunities, Jessica would network and go for coffee’s with colleagues, bosses and peers. However her approach in getting them to actually accept her invite was reliant on her standing out over numerous other keen and equally talented peers. Jessica emphasized the importance of you being clear on what you can bring to the table, and to share that with others, this will assist you to build your network. So the next time you ask that Exec if they want to meet you for a coffee, don’t be afraid to write in the email what your big idea is and what you can do for them too. This will highlight that you are enthusiastic, driven and can bring something to the table.

2. Be prepared to be told no

No is perhaps one of the hardest words in the English dictionary to hear. Jessica was repeatedly told this before she was able to even get her foot through the door, and continued to do so whilst managing to break into the industry. Jessica emphasized the importance of being able to take criticism in numerous forms whilst remembering to remain motivated and similarly not saying no yourself to the smaller tasks that come your way. You never know where opportunities may be hidden!

3. Know your USP

Think about what your unique selling point is and what makes you diverse. Then use this to your advantage. What are you an expert on? Who can relate to you? What makes you, you? Whether it’s for a job interview, finding the courage or self- belief to set up your own business, going for that promotion at work or even finding self-acceptance, knowing what makes you unique will open doors, give you direction, purpose and make you memorable to whoever you meet.

I was keen to understand what Jessica’s biggest motivator was throughout her life and career, particularly as she drew upon her upbringing not being a guarantee that she would be able to secure the life or future she aspired to have. Jessica answered that despite not having a lot financially whilst she grew up, she did have a large, diverse community around her. This gave her richness in her confidence and ability to speak to anyone about anything. Growing up and realizing that women of her background were so rare in the media industry, she was determined to use her individuality and USP, to set her apart from everyone else to share the stories of others around her. In turn this has motivated her to continue to be a voice for further diversity in the industry, beyond race and culture but in thoughts and actions too. She remains motivated in the hope that her hard work can spark inspiration for others who can relate to her and see that someone like them chased their dreams. In turn she hopes that this will provide them with courage and self-belief that they too can achieve their goals, against the odds. Throughout this masterclass I was left with positivity, inspiration and reminded of Oscar Wilde’s words, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken”. It strikes me how true these words still are today and how the power of embracing you can guide you to success.

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The California Travel Diaries: Solvang to Santa Barbara

 

The California Travel Diaries | Yosemite

Waking up at 5am usually isn’t a highlight of any day of my week. But when you wake up at 5am to travel to Yosemite, well that certainly is the exception to this rule! Yosemite National Park is based in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, where many across the state vacate to for their Summer holidays. It is an iconic landscape of California and is full of breathtaking views, scenic walks and hikes of a lifetime. When it came to planning my California road trip, I knew that I would be kicking myself if I didn’t go to Yosemite. Quite honestly, I never knew how much it should be on everyone’s bucket lists until I got there.

The Basics – Accommodation
Should you wish to take the great outdoors in your stride, camping at Yosemite books up fast. I’d advise to definitely book a few months in advance! This is something that I did not take into consideration when I left booking accommodation until 8 weeks before my visit. Surprise, surprise… I didn’t manage to book a camping spot within the heart of Yosemite. If you are planning just a day trip like I was, this isn’t that big of an inconvenience. Of course you miss out on some of what the National Park has to offer such as rowing, going to their cinema and bonding with other campers. However you will most likely miss out on a bear rifling through your food (perhaps it’s not the worst thing after all!) It is also worth bearing (pun, sorry!) in mind that Yosemite is so huge that your camping spot can actually be an hour drive away from your next planned hike or activity! Nonetheless, if you are an active or outdoorsy type of person, you could easily spend a week or two in Yosemite, soaking up the sun whilst you climb, canoe in the river and enjoy some good old fashioned fresh air. However as my boyfriend and I were traveling in from Napa Valley, we planned to break up the drive by stopping off along the way for the night. Driving past romantic vineyards and acres of ranches, we arrived in Coarsegold where our next Air b’n’b was. This was located near Raymond and cost a steal of £17 per person for a lovely big double room with an en-suite and free parking! This meant that we were only a two hour drive away from Yosemite rather than the four hour drive it would have been from Napa Valley.

Travel
Plan your travel in advance as there could be a closed route depending on weather and the time of year. I believe that there is also a YARTS bus you can catch from Fresno on Highway 41, this also includes the fee to get into Yosemite.

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Me at 7am by Bridalveil Falls

Parking
Arriving at Yosemite at 7am, we luckily found parking in Curry Village; leaving early is key readers! Especially to avoid any traffic getting into Yosemite! There is also a toll charge to pay for entering Yosemite; this is valid for 7 days if I remember correctly. Remember to have cash on you for this. Parking itself is free in Yosemite and there are lots of shuttles you can catch within the Valley to take you to your next hiking destination (yes, it really is that huge!) You will have to drive to go to see Bridalveil Falls, but you can see this on your journey in depending which way you enter (see above!) There are also so many other scenic views such as Glacier Point, Mariporsa Grove and Wawona that you can visit.

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Just one of the stunning views I saw on my hike in Yosemite National Park

Day Visit Packing Checklist:

  • Water! Bring water in a Chilly’s bottle or a similar one that has the function to keep cold drinks cold for 12 hours and hot drinks hot for 12 hours too. This is very convenient, better than a plastic bottle and also great for the environment!
  • Suncream (sunscreen)
  • Hat/Cap
  • Activewear
  • A few snacks – beware of the bears! We packed sandwiches, cereal bars and fruit in advance to have for breakfast upon arrival to Yosemite.
  • Comfortable and durable trainers or walking boots (that have been broken in!)
  • A camera! Capture those memories, you won’t be sorry!
  • A basic First Aid Kit. Accidents happen!

What We Climbed:

Happy Isles (Towards Mirror Lake) – Easy
An easy 0.5 mile we warmed up with an easy flat route. This hike leads on towards Mirror Lake – a 2.5 mile walk, however as we were short on time we headed on back to our next hike, Mist Falls.

Mist Falls – Strenuous
I didn’t think that a 3 mile round trip could be strenuous, that was until I realised we would be elevated 1000ft. Why is it called mist? You literally get misted by the waterfall!

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P.S. For those adventurous hikers – This is the first leg of the trail to the very popular Half Dome which you need a permit to climb (also difficult to obtain). On the Half Dome you are suspended on a harness as you climb up a rock in the shape of a dome! Thrill seekers, beware!

Nevada Falls –  Strenuous
The 7 mile round trip includes a sighting of Vernal Falls. I’m smiling on the below left because I was happy thinking we were nearly at Nevada Falls as we could hear the waterfall. Oh and how beautiful it was of course! How wrong I was though.
On the right I am ecstatic because we actually were so close to the waterfall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mist falls

Nevada Falls from a distance

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Nevada Falls with all the colours of the rainbow!

After the hike we stopped off to rest at the local store where we bought a baguette to share, (we were worried about traveling with too much food without the appropriate bear locks!) We then had a wander around Curry Village and some local camp sites where we saw the canoes and a cinema hall!

Lower Yosemite Falls
To finish off our day we visited Lower Yosemite Falls. An easy flat 0.5 mile route that is very popular with families and young kids.

At the end of this “Pinch me, I’m dreaming” kind of day, we drove to Clovis. A nearby town to Fresno and a great mid point to Yosemite and Sequoia National Kings Park, should you wish to visit. Tip to the wise: Maybe leave a day’s rest in between hiking so your feet have recovered!

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