Monthly Archives: November 2013

Why Life Is Good, Even When It’s Not

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So, a few things have inspired this post.

1. I’m facing the fact that I *am* going to win NaNoWriMo and will have written a novel in a month. Earlier this month, with big bad happening, it didn’t seem possible. I didn’t give up. I had to figure out what my plot gaps were that needed filling in my last 10k, so a post-it party happened near the dresser:

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This piece of procrastination pleased me

2. Moving into my dream house has already had its catches and I was reminded on the weekend that life isn’t always fair. We even made movements to leave Arcadia (how I love the X-files), but were convinced not to by people who reminded me that human beings can be angels in disguise – kind, considerate and caring, even if they are near strangers.

3. I had a phone call with conscious branding company Thought Cloud‘s founder, Kat Kinne, who has already done so much for me, personally and professionally.

4. I had an email from Be Free People – a ‘Truth of the Day’ that read: ‘What are you sleeping with? What feelings are you taking with you into your bed, what feelings are you waking up with? So much is still being processed in your mind while you are sleeping, be very aware of how you feel before you close your eyes. What if it was the very last time you were to close your eyes, would you be happy with what you’re closing your chapter with? If not, change it, by changing your mind about things, end every chapter of the day and start the very next chapter of your life with gratitude.’

5. I read a guest blog post from the amazing Aussa Lorens, at Black Box Warnings: This Can’t Be My Life.

Now, I’m not always in the right mood to receive a ‘truth of the day’ or a ‘moment of happiness.’ (I’m always in the mood to read anything Aussa Lorens has written). Some quotes and platitudes can come across empty and meaningless when you’re going through a bad patch. You have to be in the right place for some things to speak to you.

However, when you’re off-kilter, there are people who can bring you back into balance; bring you back into yourself.

Often, when I feel stressed, I feel sick. My mind and body are very in tune. I posted something of the sort on Facebook and as usual felt awful when people commented, offering comfort and consideration. Sometimes you can post self-serving statuses and deserve it when people remind you they care! Why did I feel bad about it, really? Because I know deep down that life is good. I shouldn’t be complaining about it.

On the worst of days, whatever’s happened, if someone stopped me still and asked, ‘But, are you happy to be alive?’ I would halt, probably feel bad (it’s a habit), and realise that yes, I am. Always.

Many would agree there are key elements to a happy life: your love life, work life, and home life. There are more things to life and variations on the themes, obviously. Not everyone needs or wants a partner, but relationships with other people, be it family, friends, or lover, are commonly a source of happiness. Not everyone cares about a career, but what is done to earn a living, and what is earned to sustain a lifestyle, can be a big focus. People disagree on the definition of home. It can be about location, or about family, or about who shares it with you. It doesn’t have to be one place, or a house, maybe just where you hang your hat. I heartbreakingly read it described today as perhaps, ‘just wherever you end up when you get too tired to run anymore.’ However, as I responded, to me, home can be anywhere, but it’s the place where you’re loved, where you’re at peace with the fact that you deserve to be loved. I felt humbled reading what I’d written, because I’m lucky enough to have it. Overall, love life, work life, and home life are all wonderful.

Bad things happen. It’s a fact of life. I’m writing a novel for NaNo in which a lot of bad things happen. And I try and put myself in my characters’ shoes. One of them, who’s been through unutterable trauma, comes to realise that she is still happy to be alive.

If I can imagine someone who’s been through so much being happy to be alive; if I can meet, as I have, people who have been through so much in real life being happy to be alive – then the least I can do is gain some perspective. I’m going to make a push to remember how happy I am to be alive, and start and end each day with gratitude.

Life is good, even when it’s not. 

Who’s going through a terrible time and feels awful? But who feels even worse with guilt when they realise other people are going through even worse times? It’s ok not to cope, but please ask yourself, despite it all, am I happy to be alive? Things can change for the better as much as they can change for the worse. Don’t give up. Be happy just to be alive.

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Why I Became An Editor – Work-Life Love Affair vs Work-Life Balance

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© 2013 NKW-Illustration. All Rights Reserved.

‘Choose a job you love,

and you will never have to work a day in your life.’

– Confucius

Who has ever had a big pile of work dumped on their desk by their manager, whether first thing in the morning or last thing at night, when they already have a list of jobs to do a mile long? Who has ever felt their heart sink as they’ve faced another week at work? Who has spent time and energy doing the best job they can do, but all the while feeling a lack of passion and excitement for the tasks at hand? Who has given up their personal time and interests in order to do all the work that their career has put on their plate?

A large piece of work landed in my inbox this morning. Instead of getting stuck right in, I took a moment and told myself that I needed to write down how I’m feeling at this moment, because I must never forget it. Instead of the sinking feeling I’ve experienced before, my heart lifted. Instead of the flutter of panic and a scrambling worry to rehash my timetable, I felt a quiver of excitement and calm confidence that is becoming a more familiar feeling since I’ve created my own business and given myself more choices, including the choice to change careers and organise my time my way. I had been given notice to expect this work, but it hadn’t weighed over me like a storm cloud as I blacked out the time it would take me to do it around the time it would arrive. Rather, I’ve spent the last while looking forward to it

All of these things tell me that, finally, I’m on the right path. I’ve chosen the right career. It was out there after all and it didn’t matter that I took a different direction at the starting line. As my own boss, I am the slave now only to my own ambitions. I create my own choices. I generate my own work. I need to be just as organised, just as thorough, just as dedicated as when I am working for someone else’s agenda, but now the dance is solely between myself and my client; making each other happy; giving each other something of value. I am doing for a living an extension of what I do for fun – playing with words; communicating meaning; telling a story.  

Life is a puzzle and sometimes you can feel boxed in by your perceived lack of choices. You can only see parts of the puzzle, only make certain pieces fit together. If you’re feeling unfulfilled in your life, you need to take a step back and see that there are more choices than you think. Think outside the box. This morning has confirmed that, while once adrift and inert in a sea of choices where only a few were visible to me, it was the right move to take out my telescope, look for more choices, and make the right one rather than remaining in a whirlpool.

I still have a part-time day job while I build up the business, but this is a glimpse of the utopia I’m headed for: an end to Sunday Evening Depression; an end to Living For The Weekend; an end to Waiting For The Next Holiday. An end to seeing money as an end, and instead beginning to see it as positive energy gained through positive energy. Call me crazy, but I think it’s possible to break free from chains and ladders, and enjoy a work-life love affair rather than striving for a work-life balance. Like in any relationship, while balance is great, possessions are nice, and progression is fulfilling – to me, it’s passion that’s most rewarding. 

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Getting Down & Getting Back Up Again

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‘It’s the climb’

– Miley Cyrus

It’s so much easier to get down than it is to get back up. It’s amazing how simple some deep philosophical truths can be. Doesn’t have quite the ring to it as some poetic quotes of endurance and encouragement, but there it is. I just finished reading Kristen Lamb’s latest post and it’s reduced me to tears because it perfectly illustrates what I was going to write about. 

The bike pictured above is my new one that partner in crime gave me yesterday for my birthday 🙂 I named her Enid and took her for a spin this morning (my first bike ride in quite a few years). Now, here is a drawing of roughly where my house is situated:

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Yes, this is why I have an illustrator

Getting down was fast. Wind in my hair, bugs in my teeth. A feeling of free-fall. A feeling of almost losing control. I had planned to cycle to a nearby lake, which also turned out to be uphill. Basically, after reaching the bottom of the road from my house, I took my bike for a walk. I didn’t make it to the lake because, after a wee climb, there were cows blocking the road round a corner. This is another deep philosophical truth. Life always throws a herd of cows in your way when you want to get somewhere. I’m scared of cows. (Ssshh, yes I am aware I have moved to the countryside. But cows are scary. Give me a break). So I turned back. I would have felt like a failure, but so much exercise after so long also meant that I felt like I was going to be sick, so it was cool to get back on the bike and coast down the way I’d come. 

That took me to the bottom of my home hill. And I had to climb back up it. Needless to say, this was nowhere near as swift as the descent. And I had to face the cars passing me, wondering if the drivers thought I was just nuts or feeble not to be riding my mountain bike up the mountain, as it was clearly designed for that purpose, unlike my body. But I trooped on up and I made it to the top. I made it back home. Sometimes, it might seem too high or too far to get where we want to be. You have to keep climbing. If you were riding, sometimes you have to pop off and walk. You can get there, eventually, and it’s worth it. I intend to do much more riding until it’s no longer as necessary to do as much walking. Maybe I’ll ride up the hill to home one day *coughs & splutters*. 

Everything has got on top of me at the moment. Two friends have died in a car crash in Oz and I’ve just been over staying with our friend’s family and attending the joint funeral. My uncle has passed away and I can’t get back to the UK to be with the family. All were taken too soon. Things that shouldn’t be stressful have become overwhelming in the wake of it all. I can’t seem to concentrate at the moment. My NaNo novel has become a bit of a nemesis. I can’t seem to work, write, or achieve any of the things that I was meant to achieve this month. 

We have to accept that it’s easier to get down than it is to get back up. It will take time. We will have to take some care of ourselves to be fit enough to do it. And we have to believe that it’s possible to be better. Who here feels the same? Who’s on a climb and could use a little lift? Who can’t stand Miley Cyrus but can’t help but love the lyrics?! (Disclaimer: I actually do like Miley Cyrus, don’t hate me). 

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Kade ‘Shenanigans’ Erasmus – A Tribute

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‘In the moooornin’… Here I aaaaam!’

-The Night Butterflies

I had a few plans for what this week’s post might be about but at the moment I can’t think of anything apart from the fact that one of my favourite friends has died suddenly in a car crash. So today would either bring a post my heart wouldn’t be in; no post at all; or a post letting you know and inviting you to mourn as well the loss of someone who is going to be so, so missed. 

I don’t want to spend this post mourning, though. I want to tell you some stories about Kade ‘Shenanigans’ Erasmus and some of the reasons that his life fit perfectly with the philosophy of Right Ink On The Wall – make the right mark. Kade was fun and full of life, full of beans, full of the joys of every season. He’d see the best in every situation, the bright side of every cloud – he was one of the crew I described in my former post about Bella, Breaking Down & Bouncing Back, one of the friends who visited us on holiday a few weeks ago and that strived to make a knockback a highlight rather than a holiday-ruining experience; someone who could help everyone see the hilarious in the disasterous. 

I can’t count the times that Kade’s antics have made me laugh, from running round the beaches together to hearing he’d accidentally drunk paint-stripper and spent Christmas Day in hospital – but he wasn’t just for giggles. I’m going to tell you about the two times he saved me. The first was when I’d moved flat in Manly, Sydney, to a pad not too far away from him. We had the same partners-in-crime, a wee family of four tearing up the Northern beaches, and we’d definitely torn it up the night before and were feeling very fragile. Despite this, though, when I saw the horrific creature lurking on my ceiling, I knew I could call on him. And like a very hungover hero, he came. Now, don’t think I’m exaggerating when I tell you that the Huntsman spider is a terrifying specimen. I don’t care that they’re not poisonous – this one was staring at me. We had a bit of a show-down, where I tried to accomplish all the normal things you want to do in your flat without my eyes leaving his. A friend was on holiday staying with me and on her way back to the pad. ‘Oh it’s fine,’ she said on the phone, ‘I’ll deal with it.’ Which was fine, she wasn’t scared of spiders – until she saw this one! So I called Kade, and he came and he fought said spider until it was safely evicted and we all were saved. Not every guy would trek over just to remove a spider from your house from the depths of hangover, I’m not entirely sure my own boyfriend would have :p 

Story number 2 is maybe a little more serious. When I was alone up the Gold Coast, living in Bella the van and off bread and butter, I was taken in by Kade and his family and looked after. I’d just lost aforementioned boyfriend to Adelaide and was left on the coast to sell this damn van. Kade was like a brother, but not the annoying kind that doesn’t want you around – he’d invite me along even when he was spending quality time with his girlfriend, and we watched a lot of Once Upon A Time. One day there was a lead and someone wanted to buy the van. They’d bring cash they said, I just needed to meet them in a servo (petrol/gas station) on the way to Brisbane and if everything looked alright, it was a done deal. By this point, I was pretty desperate. I couldn’t leave the country until I sold the van but funds were beyond dwindling, in part due to the van, so I needed to get to the next country asap to get a job. I spoke to the guy on the phone and he seemed sweet, he gave me directions to the servo. He even said if he took the van, he’d drive me home and go back to the servo for it later. It was getting dark though, so Kade insisted on coming with me. We started the trek to Brisbane and oh how Bella acted out, but we made it and found the guy. He’d parked his truck nowhere near the servo. He was round the back, away from the lights, parked in the corner hidden from the CCTV camera. He was pretty angry when he saw Kade. ‘Why have you brought him?’ Kade shook his hand and looked him in the (crazy) eye. He demanded to know who was actually selling the van and I confirmed that it was me, but that I’d brought my flatmate along. He said well he wouldn’t be able to give both of us a lift back (I looked through the window of his truck – there was more than enough room). Nothing like the man I’d spoken to on the phone, he then muttered under his breath, refused to make eye contact with either of us and spent less than two seconds looking at the van before saying no to the sale and driving off. He then called and had a go at me for bringing a friend, saying it had put him off the whole deal. I then had another 10 missed calls, which I didn’t answer, thanks so much, because by then I was pretty ecstatic that I had brought someone along. We were both a bit shaken and stirred, but after taking a moment, we headed back to base in Bella and I thanked Kade a million times over for coming along! He was equally glad that he had. 

Kade was a friend, a protector and someone I’m lucky to have met. He spoke a harsh word to me once in the whole time I knew him, and he text to apologise less than 10 minutes later. He was a big softy, who loved his family, loved his friends, and loved his dogs. He was full of fire and fun and if I’ve learnt anything from him, it’s to live in and for and enjoy the moment. I’m so glad he came over so that we could have some frolics before he left us for good. I’m just sorry that I couldn’t save him and return the favour. 

So, in terms of asking you something, I just ask you all for a little perspective. I’d lost it last month, which I dubbed Black October. How laughable. No one died in October. I had work stresses and moving stresses and all the little peskinesses that can join together and drag you down. But looking back now, I can see them for what they are – petty problems. Take a moment for the people you love; send a message to someone you’ve not had time to speak to; listen to someone who’s trying to reach you. Enjoy the moments you have with the people you love – you really can’t predict when you might lose them. And live life like Kade Erasmus – for the moment and for each other. 

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