Sunday, 13 April 2014

The One Thing that Stops You...



There comes a time in life when you have to stop and ask yourself this question,

“What the hell am I doing with my life?”

Can you remember your childhood dreams, the ones you had before the brutal world of false hopes, bitter disappointment and the responsibility of adulthood fell upon you? Can you remember a time when you believed that anything was possible... Can you remember what it was like to imagine?

Imagination is a powerful life tool and mixed with a cocktail of confidence and belief – it is unstoppable. This is the elixir of life if you wish – this combination is what allowed Sir Richard Branson to create his global brand and for the Wright Brothers to make a vehicle fly in the sky. Steve Job's imagination created Apple and where would we be without our Iphones?

Belief – small word, huge consequences.



I have known people, brilliant people, talented beyond comprehension – people who are capable of achieving anything they want out of life. But they lack belief. It is a direct result of this that you don’t know the people I am talking about... but I am sure you have met your own:

The incredible singer whose voice surpassed anything you have ever heard on the radio, ‘You should be famous’ you say, when you occasional overhear her when she thinks nobody is listening.

The writer whose words will go unseen, despite their desperate need to be heard and understood, despite the readers who are desperate to feel that very connection to help them find their own place in the world.

The natural life coach who can inspire and motivate everyone around her to achieve what he or she wants from life, except of course, her own life. She believes in others but not in herself.

Perhaps you know them. Perhaps you are one of them.

There is nothing sadder, than wonderfully gifted people with a curse of self-doubt that will never allow them to step out of their comfort zone and live the life that they secretly dream of. Sound familiar?



Ask yourself:

“What have I got to lose?”

I’m not talking about becoming famous or inventing something that changes the lives of many – I’m talking about changing your own life into the life you truly desire, the life you imagine when you are staring out of a window watching the storm rage past you, wishing you could harness that power to get off the treadmill of mediocrity.  

But that power already resides within you. It is the little voice you hear in the lonely midnight hours that begs to be listened too. It’s the goose bumps on your skin when you feel inspired, it’s the storm that rages in anger and frustration in your lowest moments because it knows, that you can do whatever you dream of doing if only you will imagine it and believe in it.


Listen to that voice. Listen to that storm. Imagine, imagine, imagine...

And most importantly - Believe x










Thursday, 3 April 2014

This one's for my Lover - The Artist


The Artist

I laugh at what I thought was love -
Tiny insignificant feelings, 
Just floating dust within
The best room caught in the
Sunlight -
Pretty, yes,
But not in comparison to the
Depths of the ocean, and
Just like the hidden world
That lays in the deep blue, 
You introduced me to an entire
new world. A World where
Everything is gilded with crimson
And gold - secret feelings of passion
And hope. Exquisite pleasures.
You took me from a world that was once
As if looking through a darkened 
Window, images outlined but no 
depths. No colour.
Ah! That is the greatest gift you give,
As if you painted the rainbow
On my blank canvas with your bare 
hands, whilst you caressed my skin.
Like an Artist, 
You expertly bring flowers
To life, and create colours that never 
exist,
Compose songs within my heart that have 
Never been sung.
Ah! You may say my poetry brings
Joy to you heart, but you heart brings
Joy to my poetry. And what were once words
Are now fragments of my soul.
And this is return,
Is my gift to you. 


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Walking the Wrong Path or Are You Living Your Dreams?




That moment, you know the one? The one when you threw caution to the wind, you made a choice, a choice that was as exciting as it was fearful and would alter the course of your life forever.

Perhaps you moved town or country, perhaps you said yes or no to a marriage proposal, perhaps you gave up your job in search for adventure?

Every decision you make, every day of your life will alter the direction in which you will travel - towards your dreams, away from them perhaps. But each is your choice. There is tremendous freedom and burden in that sentiment.   

Sometimes, when the repercussions of life had seemingly handed me the shit storm of what I perceived was doom and fate - I was unaware of my responsibility within that hand. Were these not simply reactions from my own actions?  

Some are too personal and dare I say traumatic for me to wish to relay - but you know those feelings, when you have taken the wrong road and walked a path that you know, deep down, is not your own - but you walk it anyway for fear of change. This mediocrity can strangle you as if making no choice allows the thorny brambles of life to squeeze out any hope from your dreams, leaving you gasping for air (maybe the air of adventure?).  Perhaps you are still on that path. The good news is that I know a secret pathway that will get you the hell out of there.

I remember reading a quote several years ago from Stephen Covey that went:

"When you pick up one end of a stick - you pick up the other end."

Every action has a reaction. If you choose or allow a choice to be made for you, then you are part of the reaction process.

Simply - Your life, your choice.

If you are not happy, you must choose to change it. And here is the secret pathway - if you are on the wrong one -CHANGE DIRECTION!



It doesn't matter how far or for how long you have been going in the wrong way. You simply pack up your ego, pull out your courage and you MAKE A CHOICE TO CHANGE.

Oh so simple and so impossibly difficult, depending on how you see the world. Glass half empty or half full? Who cares?! What matters is what is in that god damn glass. 

Are you drinking the elixir of life or gone off milk? Perhaps you have a sour taste in your mouth of bitter disappointment and regret - I did once. But I grew from my choices and decided that I would only drink from the fountain of life - the life I wanted.

Yes, there has been sacrifices, yes, there has been fear - butt clenching fear of giving up the old and travelling towards the new. But oh how the sweet the taste of success, not on the tongue but in the heart. And success my friends, is measured not by wealth, but by happiness.    

Think for a moment, if you will - Are you travelling in the right direction towards your dreams?

Climb that hill of courage, because the view looks great from up here...




Why no take a moment to share your dreams in the comments below, and I bet you can find on step you can make to move you closer to it. With love, as always x

Looking for inspiration to start that journey? My novella The Journal will do just that x

Thursday, 20 March 2014

A Letter of Light to YOU


Dear Friend

Sometimes life becomes too much. Too much pain, too much monotony, too much fear.

Sometimes life shrinks into the tiny space that is only your mind. Like a prisoner, you feel trapped - trapped in your loneliness with no escape from your regrets, lost hopes and apathy. You think you have 'lost yourself', but darling one, you are not lost.  

The fact that you are feeling these very emotions proves that you are ALIVE. It is so easy and desperately sad to wallow in this dark hole of seclusion, keeping your thoughts locked in and your hopes locked out. But these emotions, oh they are not negative dear friend, in fact they are very positive indeed. Your wonderful, intelligent mind is telling you, maybe even screaming at you:

"I am not happy."

And that is all you need to focus on. 

I am not happy. Why? 

What Ever Situation You Are In - Only You Are Responsible For Changing It.



Shit things happen, awful things, down on your knees excruciating things happen that are not in your control. But neither are they your fault. I don't know why sometimes bad things happen to good people but the point is this - no matter what happens, you have the choice and the power to choose the next moment.

I have been there.  I have known hurt and darkness. I have been that person crying on the floor through the midnight hours, desperately clutching myself for fear of falling apart. But there comes a time when you must pick yourself up, dust yourself down and tell yourself:

"Why do I allow myself to feel like this?"

Why do you allow yourself to feel like this?

Your very clever Emotional Guidance System is informing you that you are not happy. So you have 2 choices.

1) Continue allowing yourself to feel like this
or
2) Choose to make things different.

And I know there are excuses, 'but this, but that' or 'what if' and 'it will never work' but they are excuses. In fact, they are FEAR dressed up as excuses. Do you know what fear stands for?

False
Evidence
Appearing
Real

You see, everything you want in life, EVERYTHING is on the other side of fear. You must break through those barriers, because really, they are only the barriers that you have put up yourself. They are paper thin and you can break through them so simply by saying:

"I CAN."

And you can you know. You can do anything you want in life - anything! You are alive and breathing, you have health and a beating heart. You have so much courage buried deep within you, so much happiness and light. YOU are amazing and beautiful and if you still your mind for long enough you will remember who you really are.

Please don't live with regret, for there is nothing sadder than a dream sitting on a shelf gathering dust, never to be realised. Treasure these emotions that you are feeling right now, the pain, the monotony, the fear. Cherish them, for without them you would not know that you are on the wrong path. Without them you would not know that it is time to grow.

Without them you would not know that it is time to change darling one.

And it is time to change. I know that you can feel that stirring in your stomach as you read this. Those butterflies as you imagine taking that first step, but don't confuse them with fear - those butterflies are excitement, anticipation and adventure.

Now, with no excuses, with no buts, with no worrying about the how, finish this sentence
"WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT IF I......"

And now, go do it! 

The Next Chapter

Life is not about running away from the pain,
It is about facing your fears to dance in the rain,
It’s believing in love after you have been bitten,
It’s knowing the next chapter of your life is unwritten.
So turn the page and grab a pen,
Strive to be bold and love again,
Write your new future, control your new fate,
YOU CAN LIVE OUT YOUR DREAMS, IT IS NEVER TOO LATE.



With love x x x 


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Feeling Like a Failure or My Writing Sucks


Sat in a darkened room with an empty carton of family sized ice cream beside me on the floor can only mean one thing – IT’s back.

Sometimes I can feel IT brewing, beginning in my toes with a feeling of darkness and dread, before IT slowly creeps through my veins and into my heart, pumping defeat into every cell of my body. It may take days, weeks or months before IT finally arrives completely. Other times, like today, IT simply announces itself with sudden ferociousness - no warning, staking the flag into the ground and claiming my mind as IT’s own.

I used to call it depression.

It’s been a cycle, a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I am naturally very enthusiastic, driven and full of passion, so whenever the past had seen me I retreat inwards with dark moments of apathy and seclusion, friends and family would suggest a physical and emotional burn out. I of course always believed it was something far more sinister, like a life threatening dose of involuntary self hatred, for which the only known cure was Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream, a bottle of cheap white wine and the entire series of Sex and The City.



I can’t call IT depression this time.

Why? Quite simply, because I am not depressed. I love my new life on the other side of the world, I love my new home and I love my wonderful new vibrant and charismatic friends. So why, in a place where the sun always shines, have I locked myself in the darkest room, closed the curtains and reached for the aforementioned ice cream?

The culprit is following my dreams.

Over the last few years I have been striving towards my dream of becoming a writer. In the early days I was full of enthusiasm, unaware of the long road that lay ahead of me. Then the reality of this romantic idea hit me, paralysing my mind with self doubt and fear before that inner voice would scream that same repetitive notion that I have recalled at virtually every stage of my life.

“Who the hell do you think you are? You’re a fake. You’re rubbish. You’ll never achieve success.”

I remember thinking those same thoughts as early as 10 years of age.

“I’m not good enough.”

And now IT’s back. One minute I was enjoying the sun’s reflection dancing on the ocean’s surface whilst sharing lunch and conversations, the next minute I was choking on every word, feeling myself sink deeper and deeper into my own drivel.

“I’m not good enough.”

Although IT comes at a strange time, I am writing web content for great companies, articles are getting published regularly, my novel has been completed and a collection of poetry and prose are soon to be released for publication. Several years ago I would have popped open the Champagne and danced naked down the high street for less. So why has IT reappeared now?

Because now I have done all this work, I honestly don’t feel like it is good enough. My writing stinks, my grammar... well, I struggle to talk properly, let alone write properly. Not to mention that my spelling is atrocious (don’t think that spell check didn’t pick up on that word).

I need more ice cream.




Writing this down, I can now see that this recent emergence of the ugly head happened in stages.

Stage one: The writer’s luncheon that you already know about because you read the last blog post, right? This was when I was asked after explaining that I was in fact a writer, “Can’t you get a real job or do you choose not to?”

Ouch!

Stage two: The estate agent calls to query my application for a new rental property when I had to explain... “No, I am not unemployed or out of work. I am a writer, I am awaiting my book to be published.”



No cliché there then.

Stage three: Comparing my pathetic excuse for prose with some of the top names out there in literature... in real, hardcore, serious classical literature! (Pa! No wonder I feel like my writing sucks. It does in comparison, but I am still learning my craft. The reason I am looking at my work from over the last few years and scoffing at the immaturity of the language and structure is because my writing is exactly that, immature. I didn’t go to college, I didn’t go to university, hell, I hardly went to school. But that doesn’t mean I cannot tell a story.)

Stage four: Months of proofreading, editing, marketing, social media-ing, sales pitching, Twittering, Facebooking, Blogging, query lettering and all this other writing stuff that has nothing to do with my passion of actually writing fiction and ‘MAKING STUFF UP!’

Add all those stages together and my worst fear is realised, the cliché of the unpaid, unemployed, almost out of work (not particularly good) writer with a possibility of nearly having a book published.

And there’s that word. Nearly. I’m nearly there and that last step towards your dreams is always, ALWAYS the hardest. I am nearly ready to give up, to say, ‘bollocks, I should keep this as a hobby and go back to the real world.’

But I can’t go back in the real world, for me, that’s where depression lives. I live within fairy tales and adventures, dragons and magic. I create stories, I create lives, hell, I create whole damn worlds!

So now I shall create my own reality, I’ve eaten all the ice cream so it’s time to be productive. I stand on a thin line that separates me from my dreams and my nightmares and the only way I see it is that I just have to keep going and remember those words of my mate Carrie Bradshaw... Because she's a real writer, so she should know x








Sunday, 16 March 2014

Finding Your Tribe or I Still Have My Own Teeth

             


So today, I  went in search for my tribe. Putting it bluntly, it was a disaster.

I attended the Writer's Lunch hoping to network with fellow writers, become BFF with editors and perhaps bribe a publisher or two by plying them with copious amounts of cheap wine. The writing group had great credentials, it had been founded 90 years ago. Little did I realise that all the members of this Writer's Luncheon had also signed up 90 years ago.

I think the closest thing to networking with them would be to create a seance.

It was fair to say that I was about 50 years junior to the youngest of the Not-My-Tribe that I shall now call the Retired Ladies of a Certain Age Memoir Writing Club (I would like to add that there is nothing wrong with being in that club, unless of course you are a foul mouthed 30 something year old with bad taste in humour and white wine).

I then become involved in the most ridiculous conversation ever possible at a Writer's Guild.

"So dear, are you a working girl? Did you have to take a day off to come here?" The fluffy haired, blue rinsed pensioner asked me. I assumed she wasn't politely inquiring as to whether I was a hooker, although I am sure the income could be fairly persuasive.

"Er, well, I'm a writer. I write fiction, poetry (God help me) and do some freelance copy writing." I said nervously.

"Oh!" She replied, her false teeth nearly falling out in shock, "Can't you find a real job or do you choose not to?"

To which the only possible response was:

O. M. Fucking. G
I mean, if writing isn't even considered a real job within the realms of a writing group full of floaty scarves, dangly earrings and Dane Edna Everage flamboyantly (and distastefully) decorated reading glasses, then what chance do I have of convincing people who actually live in the real world, with actual real jobs that being a writer is in fact 'An Actual Real Job'?

Thankfully there was a distraction from this question of impending doom that came in the style of an author (an actual real one) conducting a workshop for what I suspect was Not-Her-Tribe either.

I say this because the phrases she used such as 'Compulsive Psycho Babble', 'Perverted Gun Fetish', and (my personal favourite) 'Writing Wank'  went mostly under the radar by 50% of the audience (they must have had their hearing aids turned off), was considered with amused bafflement by 40 something % , congratulated with outrageous laughter by 2 seemingly childish girls (aka, moi and my real life writer friend who accompanied me) and contemplated with complete disdain by another percentage that I can't quite work out due to the fact that there were not 100 people there to make the sum easy (my maths sucks arse more than my writing) - but let's just say one person.

And lets call that one person the Snooty Stuck Up Woman in a Blue Dress.

I am assuming (with great hope) that the Snooty Stuck Up Woman in the Blue Dress does not read blogs by foul mouthed wannabe writers like my kind self, so I should be safe to unleash this little bit of childish knowledge with you. If she does however, read blogs by foul mouthed wannabe writers like myself then I'm in the shit good and proper, because I am pretty sure she taught Medusa how to pull off her killer stare.

Anyway, it was at this point that my note taking took a turn for the worse and I may or may not have written a note commenting on the Snooty Stuck Up Woman in a Blue Dress complete with an arrow pointing in her general direction (with a warning not to look in her eyes for fear of becoming a stone aged pensioner). With a nudge in the ribs, I passed it (childishly) to my (under 100 year old) writer friend sitting next to me.

Actual Childish Note Taking -Pa!


It may have been about that time that I became sucked back into my 13 year old schoolgirl self, scoffing at the private joke behind my hands, kicking my giggling friend under the table and barely being able to contain the childish laughter that was tickling the back of my throat and threatening to erupt out of my mouth with an actual LOL!

Thankfully, it was about this time that the equally foul mouthed real life author mentioned South Park's top writing tip, which went a little like this:

'"Blah Blah Blah and then Blah Blah Blah, and then Blah."'

I may have laughed far too enthusiastically than was called for with the need to release my post childish prank humour. This was only amplified by the Snooty Stuck Up Woman in a Blue Dress' reaction to the word 'South Park' - seriously, you would have thought the author had just shouted out  'Cunt'! Which she didn't say, but she may have thought it. I know I did...

Anyway, I have completely lost my trail of thought here.

Oh sod it! Basically, I didn't find my tribe, although I definitely found some misplaced humour. And now I'm sitting in a cool, trendy seaside bar, drinking cheap white wine and writing this post like a real life Hemingwayesque writer.

BUT HOLY CRAP!!!

You'll never guess who just walked into this very bar...

Snooty Stuck Up Woman in a Blue Dress is coming to get me!!


#TRUESTORY!




   

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

When Inspiration Eludes You.....



Having a creative mind is a wonderful blessing but equally, it can be your greatest curse. As a creative you are always working long after you have left your desk.

You live with, through and by imagination, inspiration and the whim of the lyrical line that can turn up in your mind, any time, anywhere. Usually appearing in the midnight hour, or whilst enjoying a blissful moment with family and friends. Sometimes it appears through an argument, either yours or overheard and you grasp hold of 'that' line in your mind, the words that clasp onto your heart and steals your emotions. In your mind a scene unfolds, a chapter, a story. Desperately you clutch onto your whimsical inspiration before it disappears - because at some stage, disappear it will. 

And that is when the loneliness that causes writers to become submerged in melancholy appears from Dante's hole of inequity. The mind becomes empty, save from the self induced thoughts of uselessness and self doubt.  Your inspiration, once your friend, once your thoughts that bombarded your every waking and sleeping hour, somehow change into a loop of repetitive, destructive and malicious cat calls.  You hear the famous quote in your eardrums,

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go at it with a club."     

But you are tired - exhausted even. You feel like you have used that club and bashed your brains out until it leaked nothing but regurgitated drivel.  You stare at the empty screen. 'They' tell to to write regardless, write crap, get into the flow and eventually the right words will appear that don't make you appear to be a totally incompetent excuse for a writer. 

You are meant to sit there and bleed, they say.

Well I am here to tell you, 'bollocks to that.'

Yes, some days we are simply uninspired or lazy and then the above advice will suffice. But you need to learn to read your body like you read your favourite book. Learn to understand it, learn to appreciate it and learn to know when it is time for action and when it is time to rest.


Ironically, I find that truly, the best place to rest is nestled between favourite and unknown books. To sit on the threadbare and body-weary chair of the book store whilst the smell of second hand books, old dreams and undiscovered memories enlighten your senses. To run your fingers through the yellowing pages, finding beautiful handwritten messages to the previous reader you will never know but yet, with whom you now share a bond.

I always leave the book store with a faint smile, as if I hold a secret close. And I do. I read their stories.  I know their dreams.

And that is what inspires me.

Very soon when your body and mind have rested, when you are strong enough for the creativity to flow through your blood with chaotic force once more, you will be spilling out with enthusiasm and passion from every pore.

Your old friend inspiration will join you and once again and you will go hand in hand down the dark alleyways of the mind during midnight hours and you'll go through your entire waking day with the inner dialogue of stories, possibilities and dreams. Enjoy them, embrace them and next time, when you lose them, you know where to find them...

Here is a beautiful hand written message I found today in the sleeve of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist:

To Emma

Xmas 1994

Follow your dreams and make them come true

Lots and lots of love

Always

Mum x x x

Be gentle with yourself. Know when it's time for passion and know when it's time for compassion and very soon, you and your inspiration will be making your creative dreams come true...