Mutterings and utterings of a budding novelist

Personal Development

Being a Crappy Pagan

October is only a couple of hours away. And with this month brings the beloved Halloween. Or as some like myself call it – Samhain! And it’s a further reminder that I myself, am a crap Pagan!

As we move through life, it’s inevitable our beliefs and faith changes, depending on circumstances and events that unfold. Religion is always a taboo subject; something we’re taught never to bring up in conversation, in order to avoid arguments and confrontation. I however, have always been fascinated and respectful of the beliefs of others, and will often ask questions about it if the other person is open about such things. Recently, a new friend of mine told me she was Zoroastrian – a religion I’d never heard of before, and yet it’s one of the oldest, originating in Iran around 3600 years ago.

As for me, I was always told I was raised Christian. And although I’d been baptised, it wasn’t until I reached my late teens did I realise that wasn’t the case. My mother came from a highly Spiritualised family. Her side was full of talks of ghosts, spirits, sightings, reincarnation, clairvoyancy, and the love from beyond the grave. They even had a family medium. I think her name was Mrs Oxley. I can recall cassette tapes of family members sat with her and other mediums, talking about messages from the other side. It was wonderful to grow up this way, as I felt that people who had passed, weren’t really gone. They could simply be contacted through a tape recorder!

My father’s side were a bit more mysterious. I remember as a child, my father kept a metal tin made for playing cards, and inside were a pack of tarot. The Versailes pack which he had painted himself. As I grew up, I’d see more and more books and trinkets relating to witchcraft, the occult, astrology, and various other pagainstic things appear in the house. In fact, my dad even looks a bit like Aleister Crowley himself!

I never knew where he got this fascination from (in fact Dad, if you’re reading this, tell me!). His mother, my grandmother was a child of nature – a beautiful soul who would take me and my sister on long country walks through fields and forests whenever she and my grandfather babysat for us. She would know the names of every plant and flower, and of every tree. She would collect bushels of branches and flowers, and bags of blackberries on our mini expeditions, often banging into people walking by with her collections. She adored the outdoors and was akin to an elderly Snow White. Nature indeed loved her. She often remarked she felt she’d been dunked as a witch in a former life, and looking back, with her knowledge of old wives tales, and insistance of having the house decorated with all manner of flora, I can see it was probably true.

As I grew up and left school, I would read through all my dad’s books on paganism and Wicca, and I felt more in tune with those beliefs, specifically Celtic Paganism. In time my father would surround himself with a group of friends whom all followed this path, and many became a good source of information. Eventually I created my own visualisation which I ran through every night for many many years. I would wear a crow around my neck for the figure Morrigan. I was quite a timid child growing up, and this mythological being inspired courage and bravery. I think this is where my love for birds and phoenixes originated, and even now I’ll be fully aware when a crow lands nearby.

Nowadays I’m pretty crap at following the sabbats and rituals of the Wiccan ways. Of course I’ll think to myself “Oh! Today is Imbolc!” and then go on my way. I do however keep my own beliefs and principles. Most of which originate somewhat from this old religion. Some people may scoff at some of these, and I respect their opinion. I would never argue their views on them.

  • I believe the Earth is a living, sentient presence, which rhymically breathes, and is aware of what’s happening to it.
  • I believe plants and wildlife are the same, each having thoughts and emotions, and responding to their environments.
  • I belief in being respectful to all people and creatures, and having respect to their opinions and own beliefs.
  • I believe in doing what we please, as long it harms no other.
  • I believe there is a massive intelligient energy which governs absolutely everything. Something we as humans cannot fully comprehend. Some religions put a face, or many faces to this energy, and call it god, etc. I prefer to call it the Universe.
  • I believe this energy is neither good nor evil, yet can be swayed to bring about changes in our lives as desired.
  • I believe we are all responsible for our lives, and must work hard to be the best we can be.
  • I believe we are simply a mind swimming around in a mass of jumbled up energy. Our brains act as a translator, taking some of this energy and deciphering it to make it understandable to us. It adds form, colour, and other aspects we all collectively agree on. If you think about it, all we are seeing is a cinema screen at the back of our brains.
  • I believe we return here many times through many lives. And we choose what experiences we are to have before we arrive. I must admit though I sometimes struggle with this concept. As who would choose some of the suffering and pain we see in the world today.
  • I believe our soul can divide and come from a larger version of ourselves on another plane of existence (like a central hub). Thus we can be here as various animals and other people at the same time. This would account for the fact there are more people alive today, than has been in all of history. I got this concept from the Seth Speaks books and it’s always stuck with me.
  • I believe we harmonise with what we give out. Be what you want to see in the world.
  • I believe the universe speaks to us all through symbols, events, people we meet, and slight nudges we receive. The more we are open to such things, the more we are pushed towards our greatest experience.
  • I believe there is more to history than we are told. I believe there’s many civilisations that existed way beyond what we thought. I believe there’s rich knowledge lost throughout the ages and we’re only just beginning to discover these things again. I also believe this is being held back from us by certain powers.
  • I believe humanity is on the whole good, and we must not believe the world is becoming a crueler place.
  • I believe in being kind to everyone and everything we meet. We’re not here for a long time. I believe being kind and sending out love is the key to being happy.

There’s obviously more, but I think these are the main principles I go by. I will eventually write down the visualisation I followed for many years.

Looking back, I do believe the combination of Spiritualistic and Paganism growing up have made me who I am. Those close to me will say I’m an unusual person. Maybe weird? Maybe unique (a nicer way of being called weird)? But I think it’s made me stable, happy, fully confident in my own abilities, respectful, passionate, hard-working, unafraid to give myself fully to others, and able to practice kindness to everyone I meet. It may not be the most orthodox of upbringings, but it’s one I’m lucky to have, and one I’d never change.

Love to you all as always 😀 xx

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When life hits you in the face with a shovel

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It’s always the way isn’t it? The sun is shining, the world is in order, your job is secure, your relationships are solid, your wealth is growing, and you’re in great health. All the previous life worries you once endured and fought through seemed to have vanished. They just don’t enter your mind anymore. Things are bloody brilliant!

Then suddenly it feels as if life, god, the universe, or whatever sees this and thinks “Hmmm, they’re enjoying themselves way too much! Time to change this a bit!”
And before you know it, an almighty curve ball slams straight into your face!
Boom! You come into work to find out you’re being made redundant.
Boom! Your significant other decides to break up with you.
Boom! Your roof decides to fall in, uncovered by insurance and costing you way more than you can afford.
Boom! Illness hits, you and hits you hard!
Or any other of life altering situations! Where the hell did that come from?

Without warning, it can feel like this nice soft rug of life has been violently ripped out from beneath you and you spiral face first into the course, rough ground. And as you pick yourself up, just as that little rain cloud above your head starts to release even more misery around you, you’re left wondering what to do next.

Long ago, after a particularly harsh dumping by the same person for the second time, I vowed I wouldn’t mope around for months like I did the first time. I wouldn’t be a slave to this person’s actions.
I don’t mean I vowed to block out the sad emotions that came with it, as this is unhealthy and can lead to further problems down the line.
But I vowed whatever was to come, I’d accept it, and aim to move on as quickly as possible. Feel the emotions, acknowledge them, and let them go. “Begone with you!” I knew I’d be happy again in a relationship one day, so why waste time complaining on what had just transpired.

This way of thinking did help when I found myself being made redundant. Rather than kick off at the loss of my job and my apparant bad luck, I found myself becoming excited at the new opportunities before me. I remember getting my stuff on the last day, being pretty sad to be leaving my friends, but I went home, got a takeaway, had a long hot bath, and cleared my mind of any negativeness. Instead of focusing on the bad, like having to tidy up my CV, slog through job listings and go through interviews, I focused on the good. I had a sizable redundancy package to clear some debts. I finally was able to learn to drive through a crash course, and then was able to buy a car. I could now look for other jobs where I’d learn more, and meet new people. Ultimately the universe forced me down another path – working for myself. Which had always been a major goal in my life, but I always felt was a long way off. And now I’m grateful that I was kicked through that door!

I guess my own views of the Law of Attraction also helped here. I took responsibilty for everything that happened in my life. Even the really bad stuff.  And honestly, it made things easier.
Disclaimeer: please don’t get me wrong here – I’ve had friends who have gone through some serious bad times, especially with illness, and I’d never suggest they attracted those things – some shit really does just happen sometimes.

Ultimately, we all just want to be happy. And life is way too short to dwell on past events, or worry about future ones. As Chris Gardner would say – ‘Start from where you are’ (great book by the way!). Look from the outside in at your life, and at any areas that might not be working. You hold the answers to change your life. Yet always remain positive that you are being pushed towards your own desires and goals, no matter how turbulent the journey may be.

Shit happens, but it doesn’t have to persist. How you deal and process events is what really matters. Go with the emotional flow and always strive to become better. If life was 100% easy we’d never grow and get stronger; it’s here to test us and help us develop. How you react to the actions of others is also paramount. It’s easy to live in anger and bitterness, but if you never forgive, then you’re only hurting yourself. And if you can’t forgive, then release and forget. Living happily is always the best revenge anyway. And never use the actions of someone else to justify your behaviour to others. Always be kind, it’s what people remember most about us.

The truth is, we’re all going to have setbacks. But it’s up to us how far back we allow them to set us. Wouldn’t you rather hit the ground running, instead of crashing and remaining down and dormant for longer than neccessary? Life is short, and people on their death beds will tell you a multitude of regrets they have. Get back on the horse and have as few of these regrets as possible.

Live in the now, be present, give love wherever you can, treat others how you want to be treated, look for the good and the opportunites in everything that comes your way, let go of the pain, and sooner than you think – that sun will shine again, and your world will once again be in order.

Much love to you if you’ve read this far.
Keep smiling and have a wonderful day. x

 


An Awakening

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!

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Decisions – Ours and Theirs

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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 youve 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.”


One Day

I will never say ‘One Day’ again.
With each morning it becomes closer to my grasp,
Yet tomorrow pushes it one step further away.
An endless cycle, until it becomes the final day.
When my grasp falters and the journey stops.
Today is the day I realised that ‘One Day’ will never come.
Today is the day I think and begin anew.
Today is the day I forget past aches and stop them intervening my current thoughts and feelings.
Today is the day I stop worrying about the future and have faith it will all be taken care of.
Today is the day I focus on the present and live in the moment.
Today is the day I count each moment alive a blessing.
Today is the day I say no to negativity in its many forms, making sure they have no effect on my being.
Today is the day I find beauty and harmony in the world around me.
Today is the day I give thanks to every lesson life has taught me.
Today is the day I move towards making my own dreams and desires a reality.
Today is the day I make that trip I always promised myself.
Today is the day I visit that friend I said I would.
Today is the day I tell that special person how much I love them.
Today is the day I tell my children how precious they are to me.
Today is the day I build bridges with that family member that broke long ago.
Today is the day I take better care of my health and start eating well.
Today is the day I give gratitude to my own health.
Today is the day I stop fussing over my appearance and start loving myself.
Today is the day I look after my own mental well-being.
Today is the day I wish happiness and love to everyone I meet.
Today is the day I break free from whatever shackles hold me back.
Today is the day I realise I have the power and strength to make my life the best it can be.
Today is the day I believe in myself.
Today is the day I know I will never give up.

Today is the day I stop saying ‘One Day.’

One Day will never come.

Today is the day I am happy.
Today is the beginning.
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The things you think of when you’re driving across the country at 3am. 😀

 


Surviving – Year One as a Freelancer.

Every morning, without fail, my phone bleeps all manner of notifications – most annoyingly of course are the numerous alarms in place to get me out of my pit. But one particular chime is for that app ‘Timehop’ with the funny looking dinosaur. And before I get up, I usually have a quick scan through it – and it usually drags up memories of this time last year when I had just been made redundant and was frantically job searching.

And yes, that was a scary time. Applying for job after job and watching my bank balance slowly dwindle away. All my years of reinforcing my strong beliefs of Law of Attraction and Positivity was being put to the ultimate test, and my god was it a lifeline!

As I’ve said before I decided finally in February this year to give up looking for employment and employ myself. And why not! I had basically the same pc I had at my old work (modded slightly better) and people were already asking me for work.

So I threw the application forms and CVs from my sight and started putting together my own company. And Phoenix Designs was born! Named after a storyline I’d had outlined for years (19 books in total!!). I sat down and wrote out a plan for self-employment.

Year One was simple – ‘Survive.’
Somehow I knew I would be ok if I worked my ass to the bone and kept a positive outlook, and looking back now I can be proud of myself for getting this far. From working out Daily routines which constantly changed and evolved, to trying out new programs that would aid productivity, to enlisting the help of friends – old and new to get me through. There are far too many to list here who have helped me, but my family know how supportive they’ve been, and how grateful I am. My friends too – driving me around when I needed it (Kev), showing me the ropes (Dan), as well as countless others supporting me have been invaluable. Even my little flat mate Wendy has been amazing, not only for helping me out with rent on the odd occasion I wasn’t paid on time (and never complaining once!), to simply giving me the human interaction that is lacking from a job you do from home. I don’t think her or her boyfriend Steve know how much it means just to say hello to them and break the cabin fever.

Also my fantastic pal Annette – giving me personal coaching and calming my fears etc has been incredible. Reiki healing, EFT, meditation, hypnotism. as well as simply being an amazing friend has proven invaluable and I’m not sure I would have made it through the year without her help.

Those closest to me know how hard I’ve work this year, often easily putting in 20hr days across a week. But I never seem to have any problems sleeping from the second my head hits the pillow. I never seem to need much sleep which is always a bonus.

So I guess now, it’s time to figure out the journey from here for the next year. Obviously my own projects have taken a hit this year, I’ve barely written or illustrated anything. Even my reading has been completely pushed to almost nil (Sharon Van Orman! I promise I’m still on with your book!!! :D). So next year I’ll be dedicating a portion of each day to these tasks as they are still part of my dream and should be nurtured accordingly.

Could I go back to working in an office or studio? Probably not now. It used to take me two hours to get to work and another two home. Now my workplace is roughly three feet from my bed. I also love making up my own rules and systems, figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and knowing full well that I have full responsibility when it comes to customer satisfaction.

And so, what can I tell you I’ve learned? What tips can I give to help anyone else starting out this way? I guess I should be careful what I say, as some veteran designers may disagree with me. But you know what? Screw them. This is my blog and I’ll tap out these tips as I see fit.

1. Think in terms of ‘Time’ not ‘Money’.
This is something that took me quite a while to figure out. Time is now your currency. So instead of thinking you’ll charge £x for a project, think how long it will take of (uninterrupted (I’ll get to this) work to complete and charge accordingly to a set (immovable) rate of something like £15 or £20 per hour. If you work for a company who pay a set amount for a piece of work, then make sure that this also fits into the time/pay system.
One other thing to be aware of too – now you work at home, many people will assume to do jack shit all day except watch Jeremy Kyle and thus are ok to pick them up, wait for a package, relieve their boredom on their day off etc. Now I’m not saying not to do these things; after all, you’re a freelancer and can work when you please! Just be aware that doing these things cost you time, and in essence money. Give your time with care.

2. Forget your website at the start, get work first.
This may sound like a catch-22, because you need people to know who are in order to get work. But this was advice I was given when I was starting out and it was true! You can spend forever perfecting and crafting the ultimate website to draw customers, only to wait…..and wait……for nothing. Even in today’s world of online dominated culture, nothing does more for advertising than word-of-mouth. Your freelance might cough and splutter for a while whilst you get started, but once you’re rolling then you can spend time on your online presence. If you must, a quick Twitter and Facebook account at the start will be just as effective. In fact! These are probably a must as you connect them to your personal profile letting all your friends and family know what you do. There’s an awesome book for mastering social media called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook which I insist you get! 😀

3. Find your own Routine and Systems,
To date now I have had three revised daily routines stuck to the side of my pc, which I continue to change as time goes by. An 8 hour day is a short amount of time to cram in emailing, ordering, calling, messaging, invoicing, eating, financing, and of course – actually working! So getting a routine sorted is paramount in succeeding.

4. Using to-do lists and programs to aid productivity.
It took a while to find a program or combination of programs to feel right in helping to get things done. I’d say Evernote is great but I found myself barely using it. And the same story is with a lot of other programs. In the end I settled on using a combination of Asana for all my main to-do lists and Wunderlist for everything else (money owed, money earned, amends received etc). Asana is great and I have it running constantly on my laptop at the side. If a project comes in you can log it into the site and work out what day you can do it. Then when that day arrives it automatically populates the day’s tasks with the project. Simple yet awesome.

5. Exercise to maintain energy.
Again this comes as almost a paradox as how can you burn energy to get more of it? Bizarrely it’s true though. Now I’m no gym freak or anything like that, but I do have my kinect set up in the living room and do my best to do an hour’s exercise a day. I notice on days I don’t do any exercise I get lethargic a lot earlier. So get out of the chair and do a little exercise.

6. Get out.
Since my desk in my home it’s easy to be stuck in all day and not get some fresh air. I’m fortunate to live beside the sea and a lake which makes my lunchtime breaks a lot more peaceful. Of course if it’s hammering down with rain I won’t go out at all! Ha!

7. Clearing your mind.
This seems to be the biggest cause of procrastination ever, and it’s made even worse when such vast amounts of information is at our fingertips. All day your mind could be buzzing with a million thoughts – I wonder what I’ll have for tea? Who was the lead role in Flash Gordon? I wonder how Aunt Bertha’s 90th party went on. How were the pyramids built? Does Kim Kardashian’s arse have it’s own Twitter account? Before you know it, google is opened, searches are made, Facebook is delved into, 15 things you never knew about Made in Chelsea is read, leading into an endless line of humourous Youtube videos, and shit!! Four hours have passed! What the hell happened?! Even worse, you can barely remember a thing you’ve just looked at?!
Then of course you begin kicking yourself over it, promising tomorrow you’ll do better. Then the cycle repeats.
So the key is to remove this chatter from your mind so you can focus on more important things – like earning a living. But how do you do it?
Well personally I use the first hour of my day to quickly scan what I need to – get out my social network cravings before my brower locks out Facebook for the day (using a Firefox add-on called Leechblock). Then before I exercise I’ll do fifteen minutes of meditation. If you’ve never done it you’ll be surprised how just fifteen minutes of sitting in silence can calm the mind. Try to remove all distractions too. Having an xbox or tv in the room is just asking for trouble.
This is now where I’ll sound like a hypocrite! Sometimes if I’m doing a mundane piece of work, I’ll put on a film (one that I’ve either already seen, or one I don’t have to pay much attention to (so something action packed is out!) as I find the ‘moving wallpaper’ easier to work to.
Also something minimalistic to listen to works wonders too. Spotify has plenty of focus related playlists.

8. Communication.
I think this is one area I excelled at from the start. I guess in today’s society, online scamming and corporate cold-heartedness have made many customers wary. If you can talk to them as a real person and get your emails and phone calls clear and upbeat, then client’s will realise you’re an actual human being, rather than a faceless set of templated responses. I’ve realised that a informal email to a client works better than a stiff multi-syllable worded one. You’ll come across as far more trustworthy and have their interests rather than their payment as the main priority.
Obviously don’t go overboard with this as some clients will see you as a walkover. Keep a level of professionalism and dignity. It helps if you get across you’ve been doing this for years – subconsciously people believe if you’ve been around a while, you obviously know exactly what you’re doing and will be thus less likely to be played like a buffoon.

9. Get your finances in order.
It’s hard to get this right after a long time of having a set wage paid directly into your account. But you’re in the thick of it now. Invoices, chasing payments, dealing with clients who refuse to pay, working out taxes and self-assessments – it’s a complete pain in the arse, and also very rewarding. I’m no expert in this area so I can’t give out any real advice – except this. Log and note down absolutely everything. Receipts, invoices and expenditure. You’ll be glad you did in the long run.

10……….you know……screw it! Ignore everything I said.
Take what you will from what I said above, but everyone’s situation is different. I think the best advice I can give is to dive in head first and make your own systems and way of working. If it doesn’t seem to work, then change it until it does. There will be a lot of trial and error but that’s how we grow and evolve. If you’re struggling for work, hammer everywhere you can online and offline. I was doing facebook cover photos on FiveSquids and contests on Freelancer. It all helps. And if you only put out work you’d be happy using yourself – you can’t fail to have clients drawn to you.

11. Never Give Up!
This goes without saying. Some days you may be riding the highest clouds, the next you may be wondering if you’ll even make it through the day. Nobody said it’d be easy, but once you’ve made it you’ll be so happy you did. Just remember, bad times come and go. And if in that particular moment of strife you’re still alive, then you’re able to change the future. Just focus on the present, and do what you need to. Be the inspiration to others and show the haters you won’t ever back down.

And so, on that note, I’ll get back to my day’s task at hand. 😀
Here’s to 2015!
And if you’re still reading this, thank you so much. It’s very much appreciated. Have a fantastic New Year!

Much love!

 

Ken xx

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A Year Later & Life Coaching

It’s almost one year since I got that phone call on holiday telling me that I was one of several people up for redundancy for a job I’d held for ten years. Back then it came as a massive shock – especially after I’d just been made ‘Employee of the Year’ several months previously.

Initially terrified at not knowing what the hell I was gonna do (as evident from my previous posts) I can now say it was the best things that has ever happened to me. One thing I am proud about myself is that I have a sickening work ethic and unshakable self-discipline. I can quite happily work my ass for 20+ hours straight and be happy for it. So I guess if I’m gonna work as hard as possible, I might as well do it chasing my own dreams. 

One year later, and I like to think I’ve finally made a success of things. My little companies are finding their feet. When you see work piling up, whilst debts start coming down, then I like to think all the ridiculously long work days and moments of sheer “huge bill coming out tomorrow – no money in bank” panic and terror have been worth it.

I’ve always been a big believer in not sending out any work that I myself wouldn’t use, and that being friendly and informal with every client helps build rapport. Anyone that’s had an email off me with usually find it littered with smileys. I believe this has been a key in getting to where I want to be. Being friendly and kind has helped build up so many opportunities and I’m grateful for everything that has come my way.

The other key I think, is belief. Belief in my own work, my own self-worth, and belief that the client will love what I send. And I’ll admit in the past year I’ve struggled with all three. During the months following my redundancy and sending my CV and portfolio to various agencies I received a bit of feedback that actually halted my applications for a few days. One recruitment agency told me they’d sent my portfolio to one Manchester design studio, Their reply – ‘”Is this some sort of joke?” Yep, that sort of comment will batter anyone’s confidence!

Thankfully though, things have gotten better, much better since then.

I owe a massive amount of thanks to a wonderful life coach who got my beliefs back on track, whilst providing me with all sorts of helpful affirmations, exercises, visualisations and even hypnotherapy. I can say I’ve never felt so happy in myself in all my life. I’ve been doing visualisations for years, but the first time I did one with Annette my mind was actually blown. Within one week, all manner of synchronicities began occuring and I had the most profitable week of this year! And now things just keep getting better and better!

An amazing life coach and an even better person you can find her here. http://youniquetransformation.co.uk/

She’s also has book coming out very soon so keep an eye out for that. 🙂

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So if I could speak to myself a year ago I think I’d utter my favourite phrase repeatedly. 🙂

“Never Give Up” 😀

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