Monthly Archives: September 2013

Home Sweet Home

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‘Home is where the heart is’

Pliny

There are so many things to be happy about at the moment. I don’t think that happiness is necessarily a fully-formed destination – it can be found in the excitement of what could be, what can be and what will be. I’m happy not just because of things that are but because of a lot of things that are going to be.

I’m moving house next month (expect a painful post about packing). Unlike the last few times I’ve moved, this is to be a home. We dreamt up what we would love to live in and, somehow, somewhere not too far from town but a world away, it appeared (pictured). It’s beyond our wildest; so much so that I fear Rumpelstiltskin may rock up to claim my firstborn. It’s a log cabin up a mountain; log fire inside and views to die for from the grounds outside, secluded by and surrounded with forest. I’m going to write my first book here. This is the place I’ll build up my business from its budding beginning and this is the place I’ll plan to publish, surrounded by the love of those I live with and a thousand trees. I’m not there yet, but I’m over the moon just thinking about it. I’m going to move mountains. And grow vegetables.

It’s a very exciting time to be a writer. I’m actually happy to be pre-published because there are so many people sharing their trials and tribulations in this new tumultuous era of publishing. Their teachings give you the opportunity to do it right and avoid the mistakes you might make if you were going it alone and unaided. I’m finding as many helpers on the path to happiness as there are trees in the wood around my home-to-be.

As much as I’ll be happy to be running a well-established, successful business and be a popular, prolific author, and as much as I’d love to be living in my dreamy cottage right now, it’s happiness to be on the road en route to all of these things. There’s excitement in the anticipation and in each and every accomplishment along the way.

You may not see your life as wholly happy and picture perfect until you’ve made it where you want to be. But is there any one thing you could change, any small step you could take, that would put you further along the exciting path to happiness? Knowing you’re going to get there is a happiness in itself.

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What If You Hate Facebook? Are You DOOMED?

A post that has caught my attention and my opinion today!

Luckily, I’ve always been a big fan of Facebook! I was at Cambridge when it first crept over to the UK and it’s been amazing to witness the explosion. A few things that have made me *love* Facebook:

1. I lost my wallet with my life inside. Someone found it and looked me up on Facebook from my ID to make contact. They returned it to me for free (not just without ransom but without postage costs).

2. I was robbed. I had just moved house, so my hard drive with every digital photo I’d ever taken backed up from my laptop was in the same case as my laptop. The case left with the robbers (who didn’t just pick my lock but kicked my door off it’s hinges). Thankfully, I’m a keen photo-album sharer and, while I lost a lot of pics and oh yes, a lot of work I’d done too, I didn’t lose one snap I valued that dated after the start of Facebook.

3. I’ve never done a ‘Facebook cull.’ And it is incredible and delightful to discover who is interested in what I’m doing, now that I’ve revealed my writer/editor alter-ego on Facebook. It’s not necessarily the people you’d expect that have been in touch with encouragement and comment since I’ve launched on social media. And through friends and friends of friends, I’ve found a wealth of valuable advice, connection and support.

It is super easy to focus on the negative aspects of Facebook and of any social media. For me and for many, the positives far outweigh the crimes. Kristen – as you talk about in your book, it’s easy for people to train themselves to ignore the white noise around the edges. Like many people, I just don’t acknowledge or engage with the ads and automated promo that’s there, however in your face it is – I don’t even see it. What I do see is the value of being able to communicate publicly and privately through words / pictures / videos / song / dance with the world – with a community. I’m not one of those people who thinks it’s not worth being ‘friends’ with people you’ve lost touch with in ‘real life’ just because you don’t see them any more. You have the gift of still being in touch with so many people *because* of Facebook. It’s amazing what these people are doing. I’m so happy there is a forum that tells me stuff about them – both that which I seek to know and that which I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Long live Facebook!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Guest Post by WANA International Facebook Expert Lisa Hall-Wilson

I’m not going to try and convince you of how awesome Facebook is – though Kristen is a happy convert. I’m not going to explain away all of the bad press about privacy issues or how addictive the site is. If you hate Facebook, that’s OK. But make sure you hate it for the right reasons.

I LOVE Facebook. I was a big fan of the platform before I thought about writing as a career. It just fit really well with my personality. I’m one of those people who isn’t afraid to share personal things, poke fun at myself, shake my fist at the sky, share my corner of the world with…the world.

But not everyone is like that. What if you’re a writer/author and every conference you attend, every blog post about building platform you read, tells you Facebook is…

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Bella, Breaking Down & Bouncing Back

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‘Hah, is that the van? No wonder it took you an age to sell…’

– Kate Litchfield

I sure have learnt a lot about motor vehicles in the year since I bought my first, a second-hand (/tenth-hand?) van we called Bella. Actually, much of what I learnt was discovered in the first month. I judged this book by its cover. Thrilled by the prospect of nesting in the roomy back area during our travels, I neglected to realise that while living in her would be a dream, getting anywhere would be a nightmare. The hole in the exhaust and oil leak were one issue and the problems with the brakes and the flange (this is a real thing) were another. Add to that the corroded spark plugs that were passed over in the basic service she received (to see if we could take her through the desert – the answer being a resounding ‘no’) and the issue with the alternator (not the battery), and we had a gas-guzzling hole in our pocket on our hands. But it was still a wonderful adventure along the coast of Oz and, from throwing a flat in the wilderness on our first day to spluttering out while a potential buyer test drove her on one of our last, Bella made it all the more adventurous.
Last week, we had some old Sydney friends to visit, who had known Bella back in the day. We took them on an impromptu road-trip to chase the last of the season’s fresh powder dumps, a few hours north. Our trusty chariot, Charlie, took us within a few hundred metres of the steep, snowy summit before simultaneously throwing off a freshly broken snow-chain and presenting us with a flat tyre. Very much stuck, we slid back out the way to watch fellow excitable snow-fans pass us, stealing our first lifts and making the fresh tracks that had had our names on them.
So, having removed one of the back tyres, using our heinous jack with a shifter in place of a handle, we put it on the front in place of the flat so we could rechain it, one of us having hitched to the top and back again to have the chain fixed. This meant the questionable spare tyre could sit on the back. Then, finally, we made it up! And the snow was everything we had hoped for.
On the way back down, the spare tyre blew. I kid you not. We spent the evening crawling on the flat along the deserted mountain road towards the nearest town, eventually managing to send one of our number ahead, hitching with the original flat tyre to drag the local mechanic out of the pub to patch it up. Then, finally, we made it home! And boy, we had a story to tell.
There are a few morals in all of this. One: what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and wiser (or at least funnier). Two: never judge a book by its cover – check under the hood. And three: there is nothing so valuable as a good attitude. We could have let Bella ruin our Ozzie east coast trip, instead, we took every knock as it came, often nervously, at the end bankruptly, but nonetheless with good humour and the ability to see a learning experience for what it was. We could have let Charlie ruin our powder day – one of the troop throwing teddies out the pram and having a tantrum at missing the first few hours in the snow could have soured the day for all of us. Instead, we pulled together and shifted, seeing the hilarious in the disastrous.
So, I ask you, what’s gone stupidly wrong lately? With obvious exceptions, does it really have to ruin your day/month/life? Or, if faced with the right attitude, down the road, could it be a lesson learned and a funny story – a shared experience you remember with a rueful smile? I hope at least that my car trouble made you chuckle. Do share your own stories so we can all offer you sympathy/smiles – a different perspective makes our problems easier to bear.

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Fishing & Wishing

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‘If wishes were fishes, there’d be no room in the river for water’

– Russian Proverb

I’m very much looking forward to the forthcoming fishing season over here. Winter is drawing to a close and the promise beckons of longer days and sunny weekends away. I’ll miss the snow and be sad to be putting aside my board and boots… But I’m happy to be picking up a rod and net in the near future. I experienced my first fishing season and took on the role of Fishing Support last summer, pattering around after my partner in brine. I enjoyed freshly-caught and campfire-cooked salmon and trout in reward for perching peacefully in spots including those pictured above, a book in one hand and a net in the other, poised for action. I found fishing surprisingly exciting and deliciously rewarding last season, I’m eager for more of the same.

And now for the metaphors. There were many days we fished away, only to come back with nothing – lost lures and broken lines the only achievements. There were other days we made the catch, only for the critter to get away. On each and every day, there was little point standing still, hoping for a nibble. It was necessary to cast and recast; wander and reposition; cast and recast. There was actually much more movement involved than I had anticipated, which meant, along the way, I discovered beautiful places I  would otherwise never have seen. And such is life. Wishes are like fishes and if we hope for a wish to come true, we need to be moving; casting and recasting; not giving up, regardless of the lost lines and the fish that got away. We won’t always come away empty-handed if we persevere.

A wish is a hope. A hope is a dream. A dream is a possibility. It’s possible because you’ve imagined it. What do you wish for? Don’t just wish for a fish – go fish for it.

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Fear & Coasting

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‘The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.’

H. P. Lovecraft

I didn’t know much about phobias until very recently. I knew that my mum has one (the Sssss-word) and I knew a couple of others of old who were/are sufferers (banana skins and balloons, respectively). I once went to a phobia-themed party, where I dressed as a spider (yes, I know, original – but I did make myself 8 legs) and discovered there were phobias I didn’t even know existed, telephonophobia among them. I’ve lately learnt a little more about phobias because a friend who used to have a phobia of spiders, to the point of passing out upon seeing one, told me the story of how she overcame it and explained to me the difference between phobias and fears.

A fear is one thing. A phobia is another. Anyone can look this up for themselves (thanks Google) and also find out how many people do not seek to conquer their condition. Some think it’s not a ‘real’ problem and aren’t that bothered by it day-to-day; some think that it’s not treatable or not worth the treatment; and others feel that it’s an embarrassment, not an ailment. Some don’t believe that conquering their phobia is possible. The same can be said about life’s fears. It is easy to coast along in life, driven by our desires and avoiding where possible our fears – letting both rule us. Where this is most damaging is where we let a fear of failure hold us back from trying, where we let a fear of falling hold us down, stopping us from scaling the dizzying heights of success that are possible if we believe they are – if we’d just try and reach for them.

I used to have a fear of freedom, while desiring it desperately at the same time. It’s so easy to coast along, avoiding the uncertainty that freedom offers. If you free yourself from your fears, however, you can take with both hands everything life has to offer. And you can really enjoy it. I overcame my fear of freedom by shedding the comfort of my constraints and embracing what is possible in the present. If you live for the happiness and the goodness of now, there’s no need to fear the future.

My friend overcame her phobia of spiders by visiting a hypnotherapist, investigating the root of her environmental fear conditioning and coming to terms with it. My questions this week (and do feel free to answer them – comment or contact me!): What do you fear? Why? No, really – why? And what can you do to conquer it? This doesn’t count for cockroaches, by the way – terrifying devil-creatures. I see one, I’m running.

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