Mutterings and utterings of a budding novelist

Personal Development

A ‘Mental’ New Year Ahead

And so tonight these long nights take their strongest turn of the year and begin to recede once more in favour of warmer sunny days. This year for us Brits has been a unique one – having one of the hottest Summers on record coupled with an extrarodinary performance from our lads in the world cup (making for great pub visits!), another Prince got married, a Princess got married, wildfires spread, we celebrated 100 years since the first world scuffle ended, watched in awe as offended levels grew to extreme new heights when someone uttered the words ‘stupid woman’ in Parliament, and some bloke swam around the entire UK, all whilst that dreaded ‘B’ word hung in the distance.

shutterstock_450844792.jpg

 

Now 2018 is drawing to a close, and many of us are quietly wondering what an uncertain 2019 will bring? Will our leaving of the EU come and go without barely a whisper? Will we be sent into wrack and ruin? Or will there be a second referendum happening, and bring the whole thing to a grinding halt? Who knows?

But whether or not our government proceeds with our first uneducated answer (seriously – the day we voted to leave, a friend of mine who’s British born, but whose heritage is Pakistani was screamed at in the street by and old man “We voted to leave, now get out of our country!” Get a grip and an education you dumb old shit!) we should still be optimistic.

More and more it’s doom and gloom being shown by the media, and thus it’s no wonder mental health problems are on the rise. It’s hard to stay happy when Theresa May acts like a broken guffawing record – “The people voted to leave, so we will deliver on that vote.” In other words “You asked for this shitstorm, and whether or not it’s what you envisaged, you’re gonna deal with it!”

But there is a light! More than ever, mental health awareness is becoming bigger everyday, and the words ‘Man-up’ are becoming less prevalent than ever. And rightly so. With over 200 classified forms of mental illness, it can reveal itself in many ways. As someone who has had loved ones deal with mental issues, it’s important to know and understand the signs before it’s too late.

So going into the new year:

  • Be unwavering in your kindness to others.
  • Give love and respect to everyone, even if they mistreat you. You have absolutely no idea what they are going through. Your kindess could be just the thing they need.
  • Keep an eye on your friends and family. Notice usual changes in their behaviour, such as withdrawing from the world. Smiles can hide a soul screaming for help.
  • Always have time for others. You have no idea what five minutes, a cup of tea, and a sympathetic ear can do for a person’s well-being.
  • Recognise the beauty and colour in the world. Just because good things don’t get reported (an understatement if ever there was one!) doesn’t mean they aren’t happening all the time.
  • Remain in the now – don’t fall into always remembering the past, or worry about the future. Only the ‘now’ matters.
  • Breathe deeply and rejoice in the gift of life today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone.
  • Don’t put things off. Forgive easily. Love with an open heart. And never leave until tomorrow what can be said today. You might not get the chance.
  • Help others and give generously, even when they have no way of repaying you.
  • And no matter what, take everything within your stride. I’ve seen people with the worst luck in their lives, yet they remain happy. It’s not the circumstances which determine your happiness; it’s your reaction to them.

I’m proud of my nation. In the past we’ve stood battered and bruised in the face of a supposedly undefeatable enemy and screamed defiantly we would never ever surrender. Now that enemy has taken another form and it’s coming from within. By raising each other up, we enrich the whole country, and make us stronger and more resiliant to this threat.

So as the days begin to get brighter, and Friday the 29th March 2019 grows ever closer amid the chaotic death knells inside the Houses of Parliament, we need to realise it’s us as a people that have the strength to carry on and perservere. To keep pushing on regardless of the outcome next year. Keep the peace alive, keep the hope glowing, and let’s remember why we have the word ‘Great’ at the start of out nation’s name.

Much love to you all.

Have an amazing Christmas (or Yule, or whatever you celebrate), and a fantastic New Year!

xx

 

Footnote: This post pretty much came out of nowhere. I feel I needed to write about the worries of some of my friends and clients, as well as the impact it’s having on the mental health of people. This and the fact this unique year is growing to a close. I did initially start writing about my own experiences of this year, but felt that was a bit boring.


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 πŸ˜€ xx

shutterstock_571886551


When life hits you in the face with a shovel

shutterstock_417744379

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.Β  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 β€” 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 β€” 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!

shutterstock_358553537.jpg


Decisions – Ours and Theirs

shutterstock_526283089

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 –Β  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 – β€œHas 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 –
β€œThe 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.
shutterstock_134407094
The things you think of when you’re driving across the country at 3am. πŸ˜€

 


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 Β£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 Β£15 or Β£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! πŸ˜€

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. πŸ˜€
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

shutterstock_237801106


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.Β 

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. πŸ™‚

Final Digital Logo

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

“Never Give Up” πŸ˜€

shutterstock_72304255

Β 


Never Giving Up

So it’s now been ten weeks since I declared myself self-employed and went full freelance….and somehow…I’ve survived.

I’ll admit, it’s been hard so far, very hard in fact. Some weeks I’ve been terrified I’m not going to be able to keep up with paying my bills and avoid slipping into tremendous debt. I’ve worked every single day, almost every hour I’m awake, pouring my soul into every project that comes my way, cherishing each one with the upmost gratitude as I receive and work through it. I can honestly say I’ve loved every single moment so far. Knowing that I myself am responsible for my own work, as well as my professional ethics and reputation, and being in full control of what I earn is unbelievably satisfying. Likewise, being aware that I’m not being paid a weekly set amount is both frightening and encouraging.

I had to convince myself that getting full time employment was not secure anymore (as I found out whilst on holiday last year), and working for myself is just as risky as working for someone else. For years I took a two hour bus journey every morning to work, and used the time wisely – reading and listening to personal development. I got through so many books and audio files it was untrue. People like Tony Robbins, Bob Proctor, Zig Ziglar, Bob Doyle, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, J.B. Glossinger and countless others became my heroes. And now I can see all that time devoted to hearing them was actually preparing me to confront this change of direction.

All my life I’ve wanted to be a full time Author and Illustrator and now I feel I’m getting closer than ever to it. Of course Graphics will probably always play a part in my life as it’s my trade and couldn’t survive without it. I’ll always study it just so I’ve something to fall back on if times get hard.

Also since becoming freelance, some amazing people have entered my life and lifted me up when I needed help. Those people know who they are, and I’ll forever be grateful. Similarly, those closest to me have proven to me why I keep them so close, for without them I would have folded at the first hurdle.

I feel the end of these ten weeks is a milestone –Β  a test that proved I can do this. Yes I’ve spent it completely skint, and unable to buy anything of luxury, but I also know that these times won’t last, and that more prosperous times are heading my way.

The company that made me redundant – I will always appreciate. Because without that push I believe I would have never jumped. It’s through their actions that I learned to build my wings whilst plummeting to the ground. I think I missed the floor by mere inches.

I do not know what the next ten weeks will bring, but I know that I’ll follow the motto that stares at me every day.

I’ll never give up.

And I’ll be happy. πŸ™‚

Dreams

 


Ditch the New Year’s Resolutions!

Well, it’s that time of year! Parents of hyperactive kids are beginning to breathe a sigh of relief, santa is already flying off around the world and gorging himself on mince pies and sherry, and taxi drivers are ramping up their rates to ‘Tarif ‘WTF” for all the yuletime revellers.

But once the last piece of turkey has been chomped, and every male in every household is snoozing away to the Queen’s speech, another tradition begins to rear it’s ugly head; the dreaded New Year’s Resolution. Now if you’ve been with my blog for a while you’ll remember I grumbled about these last year, for the exact same reason I’m going to moan about them now.

They simply don’t work.

Ok, that’s a bit harsh. I’m betting quite a few escape through the net and are eventually cemented into truth by the invidual who made them. But on the whole, they fail, and they do so because they put too much pressure on the person who happily declared them. Lifestyle changes do not happen in one single night. They take persistance and determination over time, and gradually become habits. If you have a resolution to lose weight, completely changing your diet and exercise regime overnight and attempting to stick with it puts massive stress and pressure on you and eventually you return to your original way of living.

I believe by making well thought out goals, whatever time of year, you can ease into whatever you wish to accomplish. So if you want to lose weight, you should write this goal down now, think how you’re going to achieve this, and then take small steps towards it. As J.B. Glossinger always says, if you work towards a goal by just 1% a day, you can transform yourself steadily, and you’ll find the transition much, much easier. As the saying goes ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.

A lot of people are beaten down by life. They are on one knee, looking on as the rest of the world jog or sprint past them, wondering (sometimes in jealousy) how they’ve got the strength and luck to muster on. Some are even flat on their face, refusing to go on. The hard truth is, nobody can help you up and onwards, nobody can carry you in their arms and rush you forward like some knight in shining armour.

You have to do this for yourself. Only you hold the key.

Look up, look ahead. What’s in front of you? What does the finish line look like? These are your goals, and they can only be set by you. The problem is most people don’t even know what they are running towards, what their goals are in life. Most see the finish line as death, hoping they get there intact peacefully. And it’s over before they even have chance to wonder what the hell they did with their time on this Earth.

So carry on looking forward, ignore everyone else, for their goals will not match your own. Create the goals, and see them along the path. Get up – somehow, any way you can, grit your teeth, and start stepping forward. Even if it’s just a small shuffle at first. Before you know it, you’ll get momentum going, and suddenly you’ll see your legs begin to run, faster and faster, sweeping you towards a life you’ve always dreamed of.

And not the ticking of the clock, nor the changing of the year can ever halt it.

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!

FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS, AND NEVER GIVE UP!

EVER!

XX

shutterstock_156116570

 


The End of 2013, and the Future on the Flip of a Coin

Well I can honestly say it’s been a turbulant yet welcome end to the year in which big changes in my life have occured. I think now more than ever I’ve gained greater faith in my future and allowed myself to ‘let go’ of things which no longer serve me. Time to step into 2014 with my head held high and a wonderful sense of fresh hope.

But enough of that, and more about the work! I’m underway with the character designs for Bloodline Saga, with Sammy’s characters sketched and ready to be done. Also I’ve got lots more planned for Fallen Tears, with new twisted enemies and situations to throw at our determined and vengeful Dancescu twins.Β  I am even in the process of illustrating a large painting with most of the main characters on it. Once this book is finished I’ll be releasing it for free digitally aswell as print a few copies for whomever wants one.

Kens Characters 4

I’m still planning the massive amount of images for Spirit’s Pain. The book itself is just about to be edited. Because this is my most cherished piece of work I don’t want to rush it and screw it up. The last book Spirit’s Fury will be fully penned soon too, leading the way for the next three installments – The Shadoed Brethren.

Along with this, the planned nineteen books for Phoenix await my attention patiently. This could take many many years to write. I’m just glad I won’t be illustrating them ha!

So nobody can say I’ve got no work to be getting on with.

Which brings me to a great little story I was told a couple of weeks ago.

Whilst searching for design jobs, a pal of mine got me a job at her work, as a hotel porter. Obviously this means doing the usual stuff entailed with this role, carrying bags around, moving furniture around and helping guests etc. It’s a far cry from sitting at a desk calmly ploughing through design work, but the change of pace has been great. I’ve enjoyed the experience so far, and all the staff are awesome.

One of the staff, the head porter called David, who is an awesome jovial man and has been showing me the ropes, told me a story of how he came to work at the hotel, and stay in the position for over thirty-seven years. I liked it so much I thought I’d share it on my blog.

For those who know or have been to Blackpool – most will be aware that on the Southern edge of the resort, situated amongst the sand-dunes was a Pontins holiday camp (now sadly bulldozed to the ground). Many years ago David and a pal of his would venture to Blackpool from Liverpool in search of Summer work. One particular Summer landed the pair working at Pontins. Whilst checking in, David enquired where his room key was. He was politely informed that there was no need for a key, as the door was hanging off. Not a great start as you can imagine. So now David and his friend found themselves residing in the staff quarters – affectionately referred to as ‘the jungle’. Apparantly fights between the staff (mainly women David tells me!) happened constantly in the jungle, and the relentless rowdiness caused the pair to leave Pontins in search of alternative work.

As they stepped out onto the road outside Pontins they looked around, debating what to do next. The obvious choice would be to head into the bright lights of Blackpool, as the other direction seemed to be an empty road, with a quiet looking town in the distance (St. Annes! My town if you didn’t know!) But the two decided to flip a coin instead. Heads they turn right and head into Blackpool, where work is pretty much guaranteed. Or Tails, turn left and head down the long sandy road towards St. Annes (they didn’t even know its name at this point).

It was Tails.

To cut a long story short, after trekking into St. Annes David ended up working at the hotel I am now, and his friend started working at the town’s Conservative club.

As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m a great believer in quantum physics and this implies that another David landed Heads and went into Blackpool, thus taking his life in a completely different direction and changing his world as well as the lives of everyone at the hotel. I wonder if he found a job as a porter in Blackpool and stayed there for as long as he has in St. Annes.

It just shows that sometimes you need to place your destiny in the hands of fate.


Living a Synchronised Life

We’ve all heard the saying ‘Everything happens for a reason’, whenever inevitable changes or obstacles occur in our lives. It’s a saying that helps many of us push on, safe in the knowledge that the Universe (or God, or whatever term you prefer to use) is pushing us down a better path.

But what most people fail to understand is that this term has a dual meaning. ‘Everything happens for a reason’ could also signify something you did in the past that led a ’cause and effect’ situation in your life. Yes, it did happen for a reason, and that reason is because of something you did.

Anyone who has a bit of knowledge about LOA (Law Of Attraction) will understand that self-talk is a truly powerful thing. Whatever thoughts you feed your mind gear up your conscious and subconscious mind into preparing and expecting these things to happen. Tell yourself that ‘you’ll never be happy’ and your mind will find ways into making that happen. Tell yourself ‘you’ll never find a significant other’ and your mind and ego will go out of it’s way to avoid people. It’s a vicious circle, and only you can break it. As Will Smith once said ‘He who says he can, and he who says he can’t, are both usually right.’

Many will argue the effectiveness of affirmations – the repeated thinking or speaking of positive phrases in order to drag your mind away from the negative self-talk. But I can only go off my own experiences and what I’ve seen in others who use them. They really do work and they actually help you to open your eyes, and remove the dark mist that clouds your vision.

By using affirmations, you build up faith for the future, believing good things can and will happen to you, and that the Universe is actually conspiring to bring you towards the life you desire. By having faith in the future, we can let it go from our thoughts and concentrate on the present.

Speakers like Bob Proctor often tell us to live in the present, and be truly living in the here and now. They tell us to be fully aware of how we’re feeling at any given time, and experience this very moment in its entirety. By living in the now, and armed with affirmations spoken until they’ve been drilled into us, our minds – conscious and subconscious will begin to look out for for messages, clues and opportunities in order to bring us to what we want. Once you start to see these, you’ll notice synchronicities happening – remarkable coincidences that seem to amaze you.

For instance, many years ago I always dreamed of becoming an author, whilst working at a pub. A girl came to work there and we ended up chatting and later she told me her mother was a published children’s author. She introduced me to her mother who ended up helping me publish my own book. This may seem quite simple and you may say ‘well if you wanted to be a author you would have found a way eventually’ and that’s the absolute truth! Because I spoke about it often to people, and had passion in it, people hear and pick up on these things. If I didn’t have passion, didn’t believe it could happen, I would never have spoken about it, and this girl would never have mentioned her mother.

Another example – I sometimes buy a magazine about writing and in one issue was an article about the Harper Collins website called Authonomy, a site where aspiring authors put their work to be critiqued by their peers. If a book gets enough positive reviews it ends up on the desks of Harper Collins themselves for possible publishing. Thinking it would be a good idea I placed my novel ‘Fallen Tears’ (which can be read for free on this site!) on there. Immediately (as the magazine warned) many authors messaged me requesting me to review their book. Only one person reviewed mine straight away. Obviously I was inclined to review theirs in return. That person is now my good friend Sammy who I know owe a great deal for getting my Creative Covers site (www.ccovers.co.uk) set up, as it was her own publishing company that gave me the opportunity to create many book covers. She is also my future co-author for our online blog novel ‘Bloodline Saga’.

I truly believe that the more you grasp this concept, you’ll notice more parts of your life slotting together, clicking and connecting into place; cementing a web of fortune that will pull you into a life of happiness and fulfillment.

If you do start to use affirmations remember to use them in the present tense, because if you use future tenses, then your desire will always be in the future, and thus never come! So a great example is ‘I am so happy and grateful now that I…. (your desire)’. Gratitude reinforces the energies around your desire, so you should always be grateful for what you want.’

So keep smiling, keep believing, and keep telling yourself great things can and will happen to you – right now, and sooner or later you’ll notice things in your life begin to shift. Don’t resist the changes, go along with them, take whatever opportunities are placed before you and accept that great things are always possible.

Remember life is a journey, not a destination.

Good things happen to happy people, not the other way around.

So enjoy every moment as if it’s your last. πŸ™‚

shutterstock_133463087


As One Door Closes, A Thousand Open

Well, after precisely 9 years, and 11 months (could’ve rounded it off with another month guys! :D) I’ve taken voluntary redundancy from my place of employment.

Today’s journey there to pick up my stuff was actually a little surreal and even after years and years of going the same way, I was actually more aware of the passing surroundings than ever before. I’m glad I’ve had time to get used to the idea of leaving (the other members of my department had already left whilst I was away on holiday) as I wasn’t quite as emotional as I could have been. Clearing your desk and pc for the last time is a daunting experience, but strangely I feel almost excited and curious about what the future now holds.

So now, sat here at my home desk, now resembling my work’s one a little more (complete with plush Angel Kenny and digital photo frame) and after a welcome cup of coffee, I’m now ready to figure out what I need to do with this new opportunity I’ve manifested into my life. πŸ˜€

First off the bat – driving! Having stopped short of going for my test years ago I now plan on booking my theory and a quick crash course in the next few weeks, and then buying a car in order to throw away my bus pass once and for all.I guess this will allow me to travel further afield for work instead of relying on local advertising agencies.

As for the rest of what I plan to do, I think I’ll have a bath, cleanse my thoughts and mind, do a bit of meditating, and then write down my dream life in detail. I’m already still working through my ‘Project Conrad’ I talked about in another post in order to attract more fame and wealth.

I’m pretty sure I’ll have a bash at getting as much illustration and novel work out as possible in the next few months. This must be my priority now.

I know my colleagues – both that have left and those that have stayed, are going through some trying times.

My message to them is to not lose faith, accept whatever comes your way. and gratefully take whatever is placed in front of you. Everything happens for a reason, sometimes that reason is because we wanted it to happen, other times it’s because life is pushing us down a better route. Sometimes life has to be smashed to it’s foundations in order to rebuild it better than before.

Here’s a video which I’m sure will empower your thoughts and give you hope.

And another! πŸ˜€

To everyone at CNetwork, and those who have recently left – goodbye, good luck, keep on believing, and never give up.

Love you all! πŸ™‚

X

Untitled-1

 


Finding Your Calling

We’ve all seen the scenario – asking a group of young children what they would like to do when they grow up. Inevitably the usual responses crop up – Fireman, Nurse, Train Driver, Pilot. Basically the kind of professions youngsters are exposed to through kids books or children’s television.

But of course the onset of growing up causes that naive chosen job to change and then suddenly at sixteen (in England at least) when high school is over, we are all forced to make a decision on our career. Personally I feel sixteen is far too young to make such a life-altering choice. Another couple of years (like other countries) would mature the individual even more and make a more educated decision. For instance, when I left school I swore I wanted to be a Graphic Designer so naturally I went on to study it at college. But at the end of that course I decided I wanted to be an Animator. Strangely after studying that at university I decided I wanted to a writer/illustrator.

I guess it took me until my mid-twenties before I firmly made a commitment to myself to devote my life to the writing and illustrating of books. Of course I don’t regret the graphic design or animation courses, as they paved the way to where I am now. and now I am extremely grateful that I found what I want to do in life.

But I know many people who don’t have an idea of what to do with the short existence we’re afforded in this world. It can be a difficult decision, devoting yourself to one thing, hoping it makes you successful.

A long time ago I read a perfect way of deciding what to do in life.

Just ask yourself – ‘If money was no object, what would you do?’

Now immediately after asking yourself this thoughts of laying on a beach all day, endless parties, and living like royalty may flood your mind. This is only natural as this life is a fantasy very few can experience. But even so, after a certain amount of time, you WILL get bored of this lifestyle. Trust me! I’ve known very successful people who have become so wealthy they wouldn’t have to work again, yet after nine months of living in paradise, they actually returned back to work – bored.

So, the question remains – ‘Once the fantasy has been lived, and you’re laying bored on a beach, what would you do next?’

After a bit of mental digging, dormant dreams and desires surface. Ideas from long ago may return. Maybe it’s starting a business with an idea you had, writing a book, pursuing a sport, starting a band, or organising a charitable endeavour.

This is your calling, and once you’ve found it, it will envelop your life.

And if the doubts creep in such as ‘I can’t do that’, you must batter them back with a firm belief that you can. ‘I can’t write/draw/cook/play volleyball/play the guitar etc etc.’ – well of course if you’ve never tried it you can’t. Nobody is born an expert in any field. Most professionals will tell you that they only became good at something after hammering hours and hours away at it. It’s the passion that will carry you on, and drag you through the times of despair and doubt. It’s the passion that pulls you away from the TV, from the Xbox, and everything else that eats at your time, and focus on your heart’s desire. They key is to not give up, no matter what anybody says or even what you tell yourself.

Keep on affirming that you can do this, that you can succeed in whatever you choose to be. Believe in this enough and you’ll find any obstacles magically move out of your way as progress on the journey.

I guess that’s why the name it ‘The Calling’, – because it sings to you, pulling at you to keep on trying, keep on developing, and keep on improving at your game.

As the motivational speaker Wayne Dyer has said on numerous occasions – ‘Don’t die with the music still inside of you.’

What a tragedy that would be.

shutterstock_139773448

 

 


Rolling with the Punches

This morning whilst getting ready for work I watched a great new episode of the ‘Spirit Science’ series. For those who don’t know about this, it’s a wonderful animated series (the website actually has tons more to it) created by Jordan David and starring a character called Patchman, delving into all things spiritual.

The website is here. http://www.thespiritscience.net

Now today’s episode was all about waves and cycles and theorised that all things, whether natural or man made, work in cycles. It went on to explain that within out own lives good times can cycle into bad times before spurning on into more good times, and that this is a natural way etc etc. And that by pushing away and resisting the bad times we can actually harm our own natural cycle and denying further better times in the future.

This is actually quite relevant in my own life at the moment. Now rather than risk losing my job by talking about my place of employment, let’s just say a few things have changed in my day to day job, resulting in less income – quite a substantial amount.

Now rather than bitch and moan about these things, I’ve decided to embrace this downturn and turn it into something positive. Because of these changes I now have more free time on my hands. So as well as being able to get more of my own personal work completed, I’ve decided to put together a fresh list of goals which I’ve named ‘Operation Conrad’ (after Charles Conrad who wrote The Richest Man in Babylon – an awesome book everyone should read!) in order to get fresh freelance work. This includes things like signing up to many online portfolio sites, cleaning up my book cover design website, and strengthening my online presence.

I’ve got into the idea that the recent changes in my life are a well needed kick up the ass from the universe. And that like Spirit Science says – this will lead on to much better things.

I think we all go through difficult times in our lives, and that we should not only allow them into our lives, but embrace them. They help us to take a step back and assess our situation. Then by correcting the course we’re on, we can make much better progress in our lives.

The bottom line is that without bad or difficult times, we can never truly appreciate the good times. Everything happens for a reason, and we are constantly receiving symbols and messages in which direction to go – whether through the Universe, God, a higher power – whatever you want to call it.

Just keep on your feet, keep running and smash through any walls that come your way, laughing, roaring and gritting your teeth along the way.

Never give up.

Ever.

shutterstock_93842317

 


Better Than Life and Accepting Change

Can you remember that old episode of Red Dwarf called ‘Better Than Life’? The one where where the crew acquire the computer game that promises a dream interactive life? Well if you can’t, the crew get plugged into the game ‘Matrix’ style and begin experiencing a world where their deepest desires and dreams are fulfilled.

Whilst Lister and Cat go around living like kings, eating cavier-covered vindaloo, having a mermaid for a girlfriend, and playing endless golf, Rimmer uses this new experience to imagine himself a life as he’s always wanted – being a top Admiral. But then things go wrong, Rimmer’s mind cannot accept the fact he’s happy, and suddenly imagines himself in complete misery and depression, spiralling worse and worse, out of control.

Betterthanlife

Bizarrely only years later, I realise just how true to actual life that episode was! Ok maybe not the mermaid girlfriend part, but the part where we create our own misery or happiness. And like Rimmer, many people cannot accept that they can, or deserve to be happy. They sabotage their own lives and blame other people and their environment for their unhappiness. But in truth there’s no winning lucky hand to dealt at birth that will gurantee a perfect life. There are so many tales of rags to riches (and indeed riches to rags!) that show anything is possible. Whatever we want in life we can have, all it takes is a firm belief it can be ours, the acceptance that we deserve it, and the desire to chase it down no matter what. Too many people get knocked down once and stay down. But a quick look at successful people will reveal most didn’t have an easy ride. People like Richard Branson, and Steve Jobs struggled more than you’d think – but their determination won out in the end.

An awesome book on this is Napoleon Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’ – a very old book that’s pretty much the holy grail of success literature. Even better – it’s in the public domain so it can be downloaded free!

But of course, life does throw some obstacles and changes in our lives, temporarily dragging us into unhappiness. It’s inevitable and rather than make things difficult for us, it provides fresh challenges, new opportunities and experiences for us – keeping life interesting, no matter how traumatic or upsetting they may be.

Most people close in my life are aware that me and my girfriend Wendy broke up a few months ago. We simply ended up living as friends. But rather than see it as a time of drama and pain, I’m proud we were able to discuss it properly and accept that things had changed between us. We live now as flat mates, happy in each other’s company and friendship. I think people find this very strange and weird – as it’s not the norm. But if the norm is to hate each other, never speak, and create divisions in all our friendships, then I’m happy to be weird! Life’s too short to waste time creating dramas that have no positive impact on our future lives. Life is meant to be loved, so let go of anger, forgive those who hurt us (they only hurt themselves in the long run), smile, laugh, be pleased to meet everyone you come across, and roll with the punches.

Take a look at life, hold your head high, look it straight in the eye, and say with a smile, “Bring it on, whatever you throw at me, I can take it!”

 

 


A Billion of You.

The post might earn me some grief but I don’t care. Bring it on. πŸ˜€ It’s my beliefs so like it or lump it.

It’s now a decade this year since I graduated from uni and decided that animation wasn’t for me, believing that a life of writing and illustrating was. I feel that whilst I could have probably moved further in this calling by now, I’m still proud of myself for sticking with it and pushing forward. But maybe I wonder if I could have done any better.

Over the years I’ve read many, many books on personal development, philosophy, and a few on meta physics and quantum physics. Now I’m not claiming to be an expert! Far from it! But after a while you tend to read things that click into place for you and just feel right. So here’s my views.

I think the majority of us are constantly looking for way to improve our lives and live in hope of a better future, whilst being fully focused on the negative aspects we’re living through. We’re all wondering how long it will take to get to our dream life.

Yet most of us aren’t aware that our dream life already exists. And that another ‘us’ is living it. With each choice and decision we make in life, a fork in the road appears, we divide, and one of you moves down one path, and another moves down the other.

These decisions happen constantly, big and small, from deciding where in the world to live, right down to where our eyes move at any particular time. These parrallel lives move onwards almost independent of each other splitting off into further decisions each certain they are the only true one. But how does this help us create our perfect life? After all, we can’t forsee each decision and where it will take us.

Let’s make an example. We’ll call him Smithy! Now Smithy is sixteen years old. He’s finished school and is deciding where to go in life. Should he go to college? Go straight in to work? Or just become a homeless hobo? Straight away there are decisions taking place. One of these Smithys decides he wants to go to college. The life splits and this Smithy (we’ll call him Smithy 1) goes on believing he is the true Smithy. Smithy 2 who gets a job and goes straight into work believes he is the true Smithy also, as does the third hobo Smithy 3.

So life goes on and Smithy 1 goes to college, then university, gets a high paid job, eventually building his own company and living in luxury.

Smithy 2 works in low paid jobs in the rest of his life, struglling to get through each day.

Smithy 3 becomes part of the dregs of society.

But it doesn’t end there. Further decisions down each path alters the futures of each Smithy, drastically changing each. Smithy 1 at some points decides to take a huge risk, splitting off into Smithy 1.2. Smithy 1.2 loses everything and becomes on a par with Smithy 3 – living in the gutter.

Smithy 2 decides to take a job abroad, splitting into Smithy 2.2 and gets spotted by a talent scout – eventually becoming a A-star actor.

Smithy 3 takes a different route on his daily journey through the slums and divides into Smithy 3.2. He finds a discarded lottery ticket and bingo! He’s up where Smithy 1 was!

Now imagine if these decisions happen all the time, every single second, altering and dividing our lives into an unlimited amount of Smithys, split futher by the decisions of every one else on the planet. It’s truly mind-bending. But gives us hope that things can improve if we allow them to.

And we do that by be aware and living in the now. Buddha says β€œDo not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” As well as β€œAll that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

So by this thinking if we concentrate on now, and be open to a better life, then we automatically allow our subconcious to be aware of signs, opportunities and people that will help us get there. For example if you go through life believing all men (or women) are horrible, then your mind will automatically ignore the nice men (or women), making them almost invisible to you whilst attracting you to only the badboys (or bad girls). Once you start believing that things can be different, the enormous amount of changes taking place every single second will propel your life in the correct direction. Through this way you can acquire the dream parrallel life, rather than settling for a mundane one.

Being aware will also tune you into your other parallel lives, gaining knowledge of how they got to that dream life.

By this way of thinking we should also be respectful of everyone we meet, regardless of their appearance, status, or beliefs. Because you can be certain in another life you have both switched roles based on the descisions you have both made. The prince becomes the pauper.

I wonder how Animation Ken got on? He could be writing this exact post on a private beach wondering how Writer Ken got on.

One thing is certain, I won’t stop until I’m sat in the same place he is.

So keep smiling, be happy, and live in the belief that there are billion of you, experiencing life in every way possible.

You can follow any path you set your mind to. πŸ™‚

Just allow it. πŸ™‚

shutterstock_125750261


2012 & The End of New Year’s Resolutions

Well it’s certainly been a while since I updated my blog so I guess I best put in a final post before the end of the year!

Firstly, my lack of posts is not due to laziness, or forgetfulness. In fact there have been many points in my life that I’ve desired to record here during the past few months but have simply been unable to due to a lack of time. I’m not annoyed though as I welcome the work that has kept me busy.

The past year has had it’s fair share of ups and downs, sadly beginning with yet another family funeral, followed by another near the end. But they will not be forgotten by any means. x

Aside from the sad times, there has also been good ones. Not only have I become a published author twice, I’ve also made plenty of friends and contacts within the publishing world, opening up many doors and avenues into future ventures. There have been weddings, births, holidays, and good times with amazing friends. I’m happy and grateful to have spent these times with my amazing girlfriend Wendy who also works hard to pursue her own dreams.

Which brings me to the point of next year. Gratefully the world did not end on the 21st of this month, but amazing things did happen on that day. Thousands of people gathered around temples across the globe, ushering in a spiritual union that transcended individual religions. Many have spoken about this time being a positive turning point in humanity’s history, that peace and harmony will begin to wash over the minds of every single purpose on Earth. I think you can already see these changes happening. Simply by the amount of positive quotes and verses placed on social networks, and the number of people talking of joy and abundance. Of course, many will say I’m simply being ridiculous, but it’s definitely something I’ve noticed recently.

Do I believe though that mankind is entering a more positive change in it’s evolution? Maybe. But of course it wouldn’t just happen overnight. I feel people will only be happy if they want to be happy. They will only live in peace and harmony if they believe peace and harmony exists. As I’ve moaned about before, I believe soaps such as Eastenders and Coronation Street damage the perceptions of living more than anything else. Viewers subject themselves to 30min of poverty, misery, and dysfunctional relationships every evening, ramming home this belief that life is just one huge struggle, and that it is ok to treat others with contempt and selfishness. And if these programs really do do this kind of damage, imagine what kind of suffering daily viewings of Jeremy Kyle brings! So my solution to begin healing Britain is take these programs off and replace them with repeats of Father Ted and Friends. πŸ˜‰

Now as the New Year approaches, many people will begin writing out their New Year’s Resolutions. If you’ve ever made one you’ll know that they rarely work. Putting that much pressure on yourself is doomed to failure as we constantly think about them, discuss them with other people and weaken them, inevitably returning back to our comfortable way of doing things.

This is why if you want to make changes in your life, I suggest simply making them now. If you want to get in shape, go for a new profession, want to find a new relationship, find new ways to make money, or indeed write a book, then you shouldn’t wait until the start of a new year to begin these things. You should make a firm commitment to start them right now and imagine how you’ll feel when you’re fit and healthy, when you’re in your dream job, when you’re with the partner of your dreams, when you’ve got the healthy bank account you wanted, when you’re holding the hardback version of your book, and really feel it. Because it is that emotion you’ll feel that will fire you up into going for what you want. Then any objects in your way willΒ  seem to magically move out of the way. And their strength will remain if you keep them yourself.

In to sum up – it’s not the seemingly mythical turning of the calendar that will help you in changing your life for the better, not is the enticing dates mentioned by ancient civilizations on big stone tablets.

It is your own desires and beliefs that ultimately create your world.

Which leads to the two golden rules of living in happiness – no matter what pain and suffering you see in the world around you, whether in the news or in fiction, you must believe the world is inherently a good place, where beautiful things and great dreams come true, and that we all have the potential to live gloriously, without pain or misery. And of course – never ever giving up on pursuing what you want in life, no matter how many times you get knocked down. Shoot a thousand arrows at a target and one will eventually hit the bullseye.

Go for it now.

And never give up.

Ever. πŸ™‚

Chapter 5 Final Small


First Book Review

Big thanks to Antony at http://www.sfbook.com for agreeing to review Spirit’s Destiny. πŸ™‚

It’s nice to see an unbiased opinion on my work, and has been a great relief to myself that I’m not kidding myself about becoming an author.

The review can be read here.

http://sfbook.com/spirits-destiny.htm


The End Of Resolution

The emergence of the New Year springs forth a flurry of resolutions on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Lose weight, earn more money, get a new job – whatever you can think of there’s a vow upon quite a number of statuses. Now up until this year most of my resolutions revolved around getting my books finished, or driving. Neither of which materialised.

Now over the past twelve months I’ve learnt from numerous sources that New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Most people drop them pretty much in the first month of declaring them (I say most, so I don’t get an ear-bashing off anyone keeping up theirs!) This is because we’ve just spent the latter part of December building up bad, comfortable habits that usually entail drinking lots of booze and munching on far too much food. Then suddenly we tell ourselves we have to break these habits and live a more stricter life. No wonder we all get the Winter blues.

Now I simply stick to the goals in my little book (see Book of Goals post) which I religiously read back to myself everyday. Not one New Year’s resolution was added into it. And voila, no Winter doldrums! I could attribute this argument to last January’s downer, although my first traumatic viewing of Wall-E could also be a factor here.

So my plan from now on is to religiously adhere to goals I set myself over the course of the year, at times that suit me, not when society dictates.

I’ll keep this blog posted on how this works out ha!

Ok I have told one lie, my book has finally been published and Tapestry of Fates: Spirit’s Destiny will be put on Amazon in the next few days.

Here are some more website pictures for it.

Eclipse -3


Book of Goals

After watching the film ‘The Opus’ (a very similar movie to The Secret) I decided I wanted a small notebook I could keep with me at all times that I could write some life’s goals in.

Problem was that the only ones I could find in shops were quite bland and boring. I wanted something a little bit special, a notebook I would want to keep safe and hold on to for years to come.

Then I found this website: http://www.earthworksjournals.co.uk

And after a couple of emails to the very friendly owners requesting it to be personalised, here’s what I was sent.

The picture doesn't do it justice.

This awesome little book (A7) is handmade and smells wonderfully of leather.

Thanks to the owners of Earth Works Journals for this stunning product. I recommend them if you’re looking for something similar, and I shall be ordering more in the future. πŸ™‚

Now to fill this book with my dodgy, child-like handwriting. πŸ™‚


The boy who lived, and the audience that doesn’t.

Last night I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2, and I think it’s my favourite of the lot. Long gone are the kiddy charms that slowly vanished after the first and second films, and even throws a couple of shots from the first movies just to violently hammer home that the fairytale has grown up.

During that movie though, something hit me that stuck long after the credits rolled up. Usually during these film my imagination runs rampant, with me wondering what it would be like to be in these situations we see on screen but once it’s over, I forget all about it. But last night, I realised that the only escapism that people like me get close to experiencing is sitting in a comfy chair, in a darkened room with a box of popcorn, watching somebody else live out an incredible adventure.

My girfriend Wendy often says she wants an adventure, and I normally agree, but most of the time our day-to-day duties keep us rooted to the same mundane days we live day in, day out. Now I’m not saying that I want to go enroll into Hogwarts or that my life is incredibly boring; far from it, I’m grateful for my life and the relative freedom it allows me. I’m simply getting at that most people are quite happy to watch life go by on a cinema screen, after all, why get involved in all the risks and dangers when we can quite happily watch an actor or actress do it for us. We are more comfortable getting from birth to death in the safest way possible. Ok, I stole this quote from the great late Earl Nightingale, but he definitely knew what he was talking about.

Long ago, during a particularly nasty break-up, my ex complained that all I did was sit in a corner of my living room on the computer. Well, ok, that maybe true, but at the time I convinced myself that giving away a large proportion of my life to follow a dream would assure my future would be a completely amazing one, allowing me to be my own boss and grant me the opportunity to do whatever I wanted to do. Whilst my peers and people my own age would be calmly working themselves through retirement into a comfortable grave, I would be enjoying life to the max. I bear no grudges against my ex for the hurtful things she said, moreover I wish her all the best in life (being bitter is one of life’s greatest tradgedies) and actually thank her for opening my eyes with what she said. I realised afterwards that I should be out enjoying life much more than I was doing.

Nowadays I find myself saying ‘yes’ more, and making more plans. A ten day road trip to Hungary later this year is an example. I don’t even concern myself with the money – make plans and the money will find you. I don’t let circumstances determine my life, and I gladly welcome whatever comes my way.

The craziest thing is as well, since this awakening, my own work seems to have accelerated forward even more. That’s not to say I’m working any less, I just find better ways to balance out my life.

So for any fellow workaholics, don’t let life pass you by like a 90min movie. Nobody knows when our own final credits will roll. Adventure awaits all of us, we just need to fathom out where to find it. Don’t let your name, your job, your ego, or your bank account determine who you are. We all came into this world the exact same way, and we’ll exit it the same as well.

It’s what we experience in between that truly defines who we are.

Life itself should be the adventure, so let’s leave this world with some fantastic memories.


Sword of Damocles

A few years ago i was told that on the my mother’s side, around a hundred years or so ago our family was a joint owner of a well established, high-class jewellers in London. It would have been called ‘Something and Dunthorne’. And because of this the family was quite rich. Unfortunately one family member decided to play a risky poker game and lost the entire share of the business and in effect removing the family name from the title.

I’ve thought about this often and wonder what my life would have been like if he hadn’t have played that foolish game. Would i be writing a completely different blog? Or would I have always been fated to be in the situation where i am now?

This brings me to a great quote from the movie ‘American History X’ in which Edward Norton – a neo-nazi filled with racial hatred and anger, ends up going to prison for the murder of two black men. He instantly mingles in with the group of like minded ‘white-power’ extremists, but is soon turned upon by them, shattering his beliefs and is forced to turn to his old teacher for help, who ironically is a stoic and strong black man. He asks Norton ‘Has anything you’ve ever done made your life better?’ Β This in turn causes Norton to break down in despair and plead for the teacher’s help. It’s a truly powerful scene, and one that has lasted with me since I saw it.

Now, that card game obviously did nothing to help my family member’s life. In fact, it made it much much worse. This probably explains my lack of fondness for gambling.

I now try to make sure every second of my life counts towards making it better, whether that be in relationships, social circles, career or money. I imagine a sword, always hovering way above my head. A bit like the Sword of Damocles, only not hanging a horse hair, but just hovering. If I catch myself wasting time, dawdling, or just being lazy, I imagine that the sword begins to raise slowly, climbing to a height as if it was a guillotine, ultimately dropping if too much time was wasted.

Since using this thought I’ve noticed I seem to get more done than I ever did before. I just hope I can carry these thought on, especially if I ever get offered to play a game of poker.

Chapter 11 image:

Spirit's Destiny - Chapter 11

Spirit's Destiny - Chapter 11


For anyone interested in Personal Development

As a massive follower of personal development, positive thinking, and the law of attraction make sure you check out Simona Rich’s website

http://www.personal-development-coach.net/

She may only be young but she certainly knows her stuff. Her website is packed full of articles and posts with tips and affirmations to improve your life. πŸ™‚

Also check out Bob Proctor, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and Deepak Chopra for some fantastic life coaching πŸ™‚