Ok so I’ve been in two minds about posting this, but seen as it’s a blog (sort of) documenting my experiences, I thought it best to record it.
On my wall is a list of projects and goals for my own work. Over the years of self-employment all I’ve done is take down the list, change the year and pin it back up! Nothing gets ticked off! It’s even become a running joke with some of my pals. Every so often I’d remind myself about doing writing or illustrating, but it’s usually a fleeting moment.
Recently I’ve felt a strange weight on me. Like my environment is full of cotton wool, or a heavy atmosphere around me. For months I’ve been unable to shake it. I’ve changed my morning routine, moved my desk around several times, change how I meditate, looked at my diet, and even the bloody coffee I drink! Nothing seemed to help. I didn’t feel present. I couldn’t focus. It was like those dreams where you try running but end up moving very slowly. I was becoming so distant.
As the focus waned more and more, my backlog of work recently began to build up. I was falling behind. Customers were complaining, money became slower at coming in, and people (and even clients) were asking if all was ok with me. I felt fine – I think. I wasn’t upset, or depressed or anything. I just wasn’t…aware. Even this morning seeing my father for lunch, I’m sure he felt I was distant and uncommunicative. I can’t explain it. Like part of me was asleep, or elsewhere.
Then only a few hours ago it happened. Sat at my desk looking at all my emails and trying to gear my mind into getting work done, I glanced up at my list of personal projects. Looking over the familiar titles of books and images there was suddenly a ‘snap’ in my mind — a crack of a whip back into lucidity. A wave of realisation hit me. And with it came a rush of happiness. Suddenly I remembered one of the main reasons I went self employed in the first place. To spend more time on my own projects. Over the years I’d faltered and let my own dreams slide whilst hammering client work more and more. Don’t get me wrong — I adore my clients and couldn’t survive without them. But I feel the part of me, the ambitious, dreaming part of my soul had gone to sleep and given up. Looking at that list awoke that part of me with a vengeance.
Immediately following this i found myself blasting through the current piece of work I was on. I wrote a new schedule to give my own projects time, renewed my affirmations, and before I knew it I felt more organised. My world suddenly feels colourful and vibrant again. I’m singing away to my music once more and my emotions feel more intense again! The weight is gone, the clouds lifted, and I can’t completely explain it. I feel unstoppable. Even my posture is more upright. I’m looking at my home with fresh love, my relationships with renewed gratitude and closeness, and my dreams with a gut-wrenching desire to be completed.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt such clarity in my life. All because I glanced at a tattered goal list on the wall. I feel it’s now time to focus hard on my life once again, bring all those dreams to fruition, and resolve myself never letting such things slide again.
Now I realise why I have such an attachment to phoenixes!
As the UK and other parts of the world continue to enjoy baking hot temperatures, lounging around on beaches and parks in the hazy glorious of the heat, it’s easy to overlook the dangers of such extreme weather.
Apart from forgetting to dab ourselves and our kids in Factor 50, the boiling sunshine can have more destructive connotations. Here in England only a few weeks ago we had grass fires dotted around the country — some of which a few firefighter friends of mine battled. But thankfully there was no loss of life (to my knowledge anyway).
In Greece though, things have taken a turn for the tragic. Several fires in the past day have caused a large loss of life as villages near Athens have burned away, with the inhabitants still present in them.
One very sad story involves a group of 26 adults and children unable to escape the blaze around them. In their last heartbreaking desperate measure, they embraced, and perished together.
It’s a stark reminder that tomorrow is never guaranteed. That today could easily be our last. Those people didn’t wake up on this final morning knowing it was the last time they’d see the sun rise. And neither will we when our time inevitably comes.
It’s true I’ve spoke about this before, but in the comings and goings of life it’s easy to forget our own fragility. We all need (including me!) reminding that each day is a blessing and that we need to make the most of every moment on this earth.
So never forget to tell people you love them. It’s the one thing you might regret one day. If you haven’t told someone you love them, or hugged your kids today, don’t put it off.
If you’ve a dream job you want to pursue, or a place you wish to visit, makes plans now accomplish it. You can’t do them from your death bed.
Give thanks everyday you wake up. As Morning Coach’s JB Glossinger would say – many people went to bed last night and didn’t wake up. Each day is truly a blessing.
Always strive for happiness. You may want riches and possessions, but ultimately it’s happiness we all desire.
Your own heart and mental well-being are paramount. Never put up with people or situations that hurt you or pull you down. Your gut feelings about things should never be ignored. React to everything in the best way you can and watch those things change.
Always have something to look forward to, and keep hope in your heart of better things to come. Ignore worries or fears.
Be kind. It is the biggest thing people remember about us.
Ultimately, we all will die one day and we want to know we’ve lived to our best potential, loved deeply, laughed loudly, enjoyed experiences, built connections, pursued goals, and pushed forward without hesitation or regret.
Life is beautiful. Truly beautiful. We just need to open our eyes to it.
Huge love to you if you’re reading this. You’re amazing. Never forget that. And I wish you an amazing today… and tomorrow. xx
Behind me, displayed proudly on a shelf amongst other books I’ve contributed to over the years, is my own novel – Spirit’s Destiny. The first of the Tapestry of Fates saga which I’m currently in the process of rediting.
Looking at it now, the artwork is a little ropey (by my own current standards) and the tale itself could do with a full re-edit. But despite it’s flaws, nothing can describe the feeling of finally getting a copy of it in my hands. As if years of blood, sweat and tears had condensed itself into a couple of hundred pages wrapped in a neat little paperback before me. It’s a truly uplifting feeling of accomplishment.
So now whenver I speak to a new author, in the process of talking through and creating their cover, and I can hear the excitedness of becoming published in their voice, it throws me back to my own feelings of getting a book on the market. The amount of times I get an email or voicemail saying “It’s feeling so real now I’m seeing the cover,” is staggering, and never fails to make my day and know I’m in the right job. I feel proud and satisfied that I can help someone pursue their dreams.
And this doesn’t just go for the Creative Covers, but for Phoenix Designs too. Whether it be a logo, branding design, or even business cards, I love listening to people talking about their new business or venture, and again giving them something visual to own and proudly display is an incredible feeling – a feeling I always wish to capture in my own goals.
With my new venture ‘Twilight Dew’ on the horizon, along with the books I’m pushing through, I hope to soon recapture that contentment I felt all those years ago with Spirit’s Destiny.
We should all strive towards our goals no matter what. Sometimes just a spark is needed, an initial push to get going. Success is always just around the corner 🙂 x
A couple of years ago, I was driving and weaving my way through the nearby city of Preston with my dad, and causually asked him why he didn’t move us here as a family.
Many years previous, just after I’d turned eleven, my father got a job at British Aerospace in Warton, with Preston being the closest city. Somehow it made sense to move us to another city and let me and my sister grow up there.
He told me that after looking around the surrounding towns and villages, he’d taken to Lytham St. Annes – a small coastal town past Warton, much quieter than the hustle and bustle of my home city of Leeds.
It was a decision of my father’s that had a huge effect on my life. and was one I remember looking on with great excitement, despite leaving all my friends and extended family behind. Had he decided on Preston, or any other town then indeed my life would have been much different. I would have never met my friends I’d grown so close to, never worked at my second home the pub that dominated my life for so long, or maybe never have took the direction of art and design as a career. I can honestly say I’m grateful my dad took us to the small coastal resort. So big of an effect it has had on my life, that even some family members back in Leeds are contemplating making the move here from across the country.
And this is what happens with each and every of us. Not only are we living our lives through the decisions we make (hopefully making sensible correct ones), but we’re also buffeted around by the constant actions of others, floating around an ocean of consequences. Some decisions enrich us, enabling bright, smooth sailing, some cause minor ripples, giving us small stresses and worries, whilst others can cause giant tsunamis, threatening to overturn and sink our entire existance.
Each day a myriad of decisions blow around us and at times it can feel like we’re at their chaotic mercy. If we’re not careful we can lose control and be buffeted around helplessly. But a ship can only be sunk if the water is allowed inside. And it’s in these difficult times that we must remember that ultimately it’s us as a person that decides how we react to such events.
If someone decides to fire you from your job one day, how do you react?
If someone breaks your heart, how do you react?
If someone does you wrong, how do you react?
If someone attacks you, how do you react?
If someone lies to you, how do you react?
If someone steals from you, how do you react?
And so on…
Without controlling our emotions, and flying off the handle, it’s easy to be swept up in toxic negativity. And more times than not, this itself will lead to even more disaster.
This is evident in the movie American History X, we see this when the imprisoned, and humiliated anger, hate-filled neo nazi Derek is confronted with a line from his former teacher – “Has anything you‘ve done made your life better?” It’s the truth Derek needed to hear to finally let go of all the rage that has dominated his life.
If we calm ourselves, think deeply about how we are to react, and come from a place of control, then not only do we calm the waters around us more rapidly, but we display a strength of character that steers our lives to a brighter outcome.
Obviously this can be hard, as we are all only human, but if we are consciously aware that we do have control, then we find the calmness comes much quicker. Fighting a storm with a storm does not improve anybody’s life. Better to silence the maelstrom, and deal with issues effectively.
The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters is an incredible book that delves way further into this.
So how to we retain control?
We’re all different, and clearly some things that work for some people won’t work for others. For me meditation helped a lot during my turbulant years after my redundancy. It helped calmed the angry voices chattering in my mind and allowed me to look at things clearly, and with a positive attitude. Also without the chatter, fresh ideas would surface and come to me, giving me clarity and affirming that things were always meant to be this way.
So if tomorrow you wake up and are hit with a big bombshell as a result of someone else’s life decisions, just take a deep breath, count to ten, punch a pillow if you have to, remain focused, and deal calmly with the issue.
As James Allen once said –
“The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.”
Today is the day I stop saying ‘One Day.’
One Day will never come.
So tonight after finally dragging myself away from my work, I found myself propping up the bar of one of my local pubs, regaling my pal Craig of all the incendents and amusing events of this particular watering hole. Drunken mishaps, large scale parties, fancy dress nights, charity events, and even (now comical) brawls. I say all of this because I had once worked at this pub, and the nightclub it rested upon for over eight years on and off.
In recent years St Annes had seen a sorrowful decline in its nightlife, with bars, restaurants, and nightclubs sadly shutting up one after another. Gone was the absolutely rammed establishment I stepped foot into on my first shift almost twenty years ago; now replaced by either a few hardcore lifers, restaurant workers who had just finished their shift, or temporary party goers – having a swift drink before venturing onwards to either Blackpool or Lytham.
My good friend, and practically brother Danny would always say ‘Make memories’, and those words indeed rang out loud in my head tonight loud and clear. Suddenly it dawned on me that I owed most of my life to this establishment. 90% of my current friends, relationships I’d had, and even relationships of my friends, had originated from me starting at that pub. I feel my mother getting me that job in 2000 was the most pivotel event in my life. How very different my life may have been without having ever worked there. And yet now it was sad to see that place so empty.
As we grow older do we reminisce more and more until our cherished memories either fade progressively, until we have distorted them beyond recognition? Or held them so dearly the time inevitably comes when we have nobody left to remember them with?
Do we attempt to replicate those memories, hopeful that the good times will never end? Or do we grow, and develop new sets of recollections? I guess this all depends on whether such memories are good or bad. Embrace or destroy them?
We can always keep photos, and indeed these helped me colour the tales I spoke of tonight (I need to remind myself to print more of these out!). Even things like Facebook bring up our comings and goings year upon year.
Reading the ‘Seth Speaks’ books, I’m forever hopeful that when we die, we can select a memory at will, as if a DVD from the shelf, and replay it exactly as it happened. Could you lose yourself though, forever looping through happy times?
Perhaps this a little too deep for the early hours of Saturday morning as I sip at my black coffee. Or maybe it’s a stark reminder that nothing lasts forever.
As meloncholy this post has become, I’m determined to end it on a positive note.
The fact we can make great memories, or even remember amazing ones, is truly a gift. We should treasure this fact, because why we may not know our true purpose on this Earth, we can at least have a great time along the way.
And if you ever find yourself in an empty bar, sadly remembering the great times you had there, find gratitude in the fact that they indeed happened.
Life is meant to be lived, and if you have great memories, rest assured you’re doing just that.