Tag Archives: hope

There And Back Again – Finding Direction In 2015

Sydney Harbour Bridge, midnight 31/12/14

Sydney Harbour Bridge, midnight 31/12/14

Happy new year! Here we are in 2015 and I hope it’s a wonderful one for you all! The festive road trip has finished and I’m back in Adelaide with much more movement to look forward to. And who knows where I’ll end up? I certainly don’t.

But that’s not a bad thing. A steady state has its comforts and attractions, but life has been a wonderful whirlwind since I left London three and half years ago, and the volatile roller coaster doesn’t seem about to stop. Coming to the beginning of a new year and looking back as well as forward – life has more highs than lows. Sometimes you just have to seek them out. Sometimes you need to take a shovel.

All I know is that it was a brilliant idea to end up in Sydney to see out the old year and in with the new – with the biggest of bangs. I adore fireworks and want to live my life like one – going off in all directions, popping, fizzing, delighting, colourful, crazy and illuminating. It doesn’t matter which way you’re going as long as you’re causing a ruckus on the way, filling as many lives as possible with light, laughter and love.

Many people will have so much they want to achieve this year, having achieved so much already – best of luck with it. Just don’t forget to stop, look around you, smell the roses, watch the sunsets, notice others, and leave the people you pass the happier for having known you. Strive as much as you like, but enrich those around you as well as yourself. Sing and dance, but invite others to add their voices and join the foxtrot. Put being plentiful in the soul before the pocket, and share.

Technically, ’tis the eleventh day of Christmas (who knew the twelve days start rather than end on Christmas day?!). So here’s a parting gift from my lovely friend and wonderful illustrator’s collection. As the familiar festive sights and scents fade away for another year, remember to keep the spirit of Christmas around and enjoy the whole twelve months ahead giving, loving and hoping. Everyone will have a better time for it.

What do you hope for this year? I hope it finds you.

Eleven Pipes Piping

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Looking for something new to read this year? Enter the world of The Night Butterflies and join the search for hope amidst horror…

The Night Butterflies

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Warm Bodies & Writing People Off

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‘That’s why we have memory. And the opposite of memory – hope.

So things that are gone can still matter.

So we can build off our pasts and make future’

Isaac Marion – Warm Bodies

Zombie romance – I didn’t realise that it was out there. And then I was told to watch Warm Bodies, a movie I enjoyed very much and, now that I’ve realised it’s a book, a book I’m going to read. Here’s the link to the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07s-cNFffDM

We all know that people can change. Some bemoan that people they know won’t change back to the way they were before. Others bemoan the fact that people they know refuse to change. The consensus is that change is possible. But have you ever tried to change someone’s mind? Some people embrace zombiehood and seem constantly out to get you – hang around too long and they’ll eat your brains. It’s only healthy to avoid people who are out to eat your brains, but I think it’s necessary to take into consideration that you shouldn’t write off those people. Everyone’s important. No one is a write-off. 

You’d think that turning into a zombie would be the end of the matter, but Warm Bodies explores the possibility of change. Change and hope. Zombies can have dreams too – they just need to remember how. In the movie, a bit of love brings that about. 

Is anyone out there eating your brains? Do they not understand your dreams so they’re trying to quash them? Are you banging your head against a brick wall trying to change their mind? Do you wonder if they’re dead inside?! Sometimes it takes something major to change someone… But throw some love at them, even if you have to do it from a distance. And don’t write them off, you never know – they might change.

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Pride & Projection

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‘A true friend stabs you in the front’

– Oscar Wilde

Before I say anything meaningful, I just want to shout out a couple of things: 1. I love the fact that googling images for projection lead me to discover Doug Savage and www.savagechickens.com – amazing. 2. I didn’t hit my Monday evening self-imposed deadline last night because I was feeling grumpy (it can happen however happy life is) and I didn’t want to publish any grumpiness. It’s rather against the spirit of a hopeful / happy blog :p That’s not to say we can’t talk about negative things, though. I just think it’s important to talk about negative things with a positive attitude.

I’m glad that there are so many funny things and funny friends in the world to lift you out of grump when you find yourself there. My best friend (since we were sevenish!) has always been one of them. Let’s call her Amster. She wrote me a lovely well-wishing email a while back with congrats on the blog and business and a suggestion for a potential post – and here it is!

The best friends are not necessarily the ones who agree with everything we say and do. Nor are they the ones who disagree with us, but support us blindly regardless of their opinion (though this can be nice!). The best of friends are the ones who are capable of challenging us and confronting us – the ones from whom we can take constructive criticism because it comes out of care.

Even when a comment comes out of care, however, it can be difficult to swallow. It’s so easy to put someone’s back up and push them on the defensive. That’s because you’re threatening them – who they are; what they’re doing; why they’re doing it. And sometimes it’s worth asking yourself why you have something to say about it. Why have they made you critical? Is it because they’ve made you uncomfortable?

Amster become increasingly frustrated with me after I left my life in London. I didn’t know what I wanted to do – just that I didn’t want to do what I had been doing. And so I drifted. I had a lot of fun. I travelled. I read. I wrote. But without much direction or purpose. I suffered from inertia. I didn’t want to be captured back into the life I had before, but I still needed to make a living. And I wanted to make it doing something I loved, but my pipe-dream plans were all half-formed and half-followed-through. As I pondered this, I floundered somewhat. At the same time, however, I felt like it would all come good. I’d find my calling and sort my life out. It was just too early to find out what that life would be.

This was a source of contention for my friend. Why couldn’t I just sort my life out now? Why was I floating through this inertia? Why wasn’t I just figuring it all out and fixing it? I needed the time I took, even though I didn’t know then where it was taking me. Amster was on the brink of bringing it up and harassing me about it. She was goaded by my choices to the point of being about to ‘have a go.’ It would have come out of care, but I know that I would have reacted badly. I would have gone on the defensive out of pride. This would partly be because of the truth in her frustration – I did have an underlying worry that I wasn’t doing enough to get on the right path. I was just going with it – and now I’m glad. At the time, however, I didn’t have the confidence to have endured the knock of an attack from an ally. I needed the support I was getting. It wouldn’t have gone well.

What did happen was much more interesting. Amster paused for thought and asked herself why she was so annoyed. She realised that the reason for her frustration was that my life was reflecting hers back at her. She was doing much the same thing – being inert; being unsure; not making progress. She realised that just because she was doing it from a position of relative security, it didn’t make it less of a pain. And she was about to take that pain out on me. Because of her epiphany, however, she didn’t. And we ended up with dialogue instead of diatribe.

This was a thousand times more motivating. We made a plan. We promised to keep each other up to date and cheer each other on. We pushed each other on and pulled each other up. We achieved big changes. We made great progress. We came closer to our dreams because we became more conscious of our thoughts, feelings and actions. We held each other accountable.

We still do all of these things and it’s a source of never-ending happiness for me. I am never alone. I can share my failures along with my triumphs. I can criticise and receive criticism – I know it comes out of care. I also know that it is carefully considered.

Who is annoying you right now? Who is putting you on the defensive; paining you; causing you to bite your tongue to the point that you’re coming close to biting their head off? Now pause for thought. Before you let out your frustration, ask yourself why you feel frustrated. Is it them? Or might it be you? It could be both.

I’m not saying, if you can’t say something nice – don’t say nothing at all (though that can be a good lesson, thanks Thumper). Rather, if you can’t say something nice – wonder why. And if you have some constructive criticism – deliver it in context. This is how the best friendships foster.

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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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Tea, Cake & Inspiration

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‘If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.’

Lewis Caroll – Alice in Wonderland

You are all cordially invited to a global tea party. Here in my head, as at the Hatter’s party, ‘It’s always tea time.’ I imagine that at the most monumental moments of history, someone somewhere in the world was having a cuppa. And there’s really no bad time for tea. For those of you with me from the beginning, you may remember a wee Facebook post of a picture about a month ago announcing a tea & cake launch party. The date cometh this week – the 30th August. For those of you who think it’s mighty stingy inviting someone to a launch party without putting on the refreshments, I totally agree. So, for anyone who lets me know they’re ‘coming,’ or lets me know afterwards that on the 30th day of August they did indeed drink some tea and/or eat some cake that could be construed to be in the honour of Right Ink On The Wall, I shall put some pennies in a teapot for my chosen charity, Room to Read. If you ‘post’ me a wee pic of your tea/cake, I’ll double your personal contribution.

I’d like to reflect on the last four weeks and talk about four beams of inspiration that have played parts in them. I’ve come into contact with a lot of material to encourage and inspire – I’d like to list the best of business, books, blogs and bits of ‘making the world a better place.’

Business – How often does a branding business ask you to lead from your heart rather than for your pocket? Thought Cloud does just that. Its founder, Kat Kinnie, inspired the launch of my blog as well as being the writer of the first blog I ever subscribed to (not counting Bunny). Kat is writing a book on conscious branding and I connected with her to explore the most important aspect of setting up my business – not what I was doing, but why. Before our sessions, while I was in no way treading water, I’d equate my exploration of the idea of branding with snorkelling. Perhaps, every so often in my musings, there’d be an element of free-dive. What I experienced with Kat was a deep-sea dive, discovering a colourful reef at the bedrock of the business and spotting previously hidden species of fish. Kat is an inspiration in herself, being the first British woman to set up her own business in Australia, while on a holiday working visa, and through that business gain sponsorship for herself and sponsorship status for her company in the tightest of timeframes. She asks you to imagine a world in which you make a healthy living doing what you love and doing good at the same time. She shows you it’s possible.

Book – Actually, let’s say ‘author,’ as I’ve attacked her entire back catalogue in the last wee while and don’t want to focus on just one book here. The writer is Anne Bishop – expect another blog post on the inspiration to be found in the realms of her books – there’s too much to say here!

Blog There are so many blogs I’ve come into contact with in the last month that have made me smile, laugh and learn. One entry has even made me cry – and that’s the one that tops my list. Mary Louisa Locke wrote a guest post for Joe Konrath’s amazing blog, ‘A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.’ It is a tribute to her father and to the idea that it is never too late to follow your dreams. There are always second chances. Click to read: On Second Chances and Role Models: A Tribute to my Father

Making the world a better place – I mentioned my chosen charity above, so a word about what I’m supporting. I’m supporting the hope that it’s possible to change the world, even if it’s only bit by bit, brick on brick. I’m supporting the belief that ‘world change starts with educated children.’ I’m supporting the idea that the greatest impact can be had here by focussing on literacy and gender-equality in education. Room to Read asks you to imagine a world in which every child has access to an education. This non-profit NGO was founded by John Wood, who left Microsoft to do so after a life-changing experience in Nepal. Of everything we make at Right Ink On The Wall, 10% is donated to changing the world. That’s 10% of revenue, not profit. Imagine a world in which every business does the same.

So, please join me on Friday – whether it’s my Friday, over here in NZ, or your Friday, somewhere else in the world (how weird is it that someone’s yesterday can be your tomorrow?). Raise a cup of tea and take a bite of cake and think how sweet it is that Right Ink On The Wall is in the world – encouraging you to pause for thought / sugary treats. Oh, and your question for the week – RSVP?

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How To Lose A Lasagne & The Art Of Winning

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‘If at first you don’t succeed…’

– Thomas H. Palmer

I was never much of a cook – I lacked the patience when younger to learn from my epic Chinese MasterChef of a mother and, when I was older, lacked the time to cook in and audience to cook for, except occasionally. I cook all the time these days and I like to think I’ve mastered some dishes. Lasagne’s not been one of them, though – something always goes wrong. It’s usually the cheese sauce. But, today, everything went perfectly – the sauces, the layering, the cheese top. I was pretty excited when I placed the above in the oven. I then burnt my fingers on its way in and dropped the whole thing.

It hadn’t been my favourite Monday and, having spent money and time preparing the pesky thing, I admit to getting momentarily tearful over this travesty. I had to remove my rings due to my first (/fifth) degree burns and had to scape the remnants of lasagne from the oven door. All those layers lost. Hunger, however, dictated that we patch the mess back into the dish and put it in to bake.

The above is a prime example of ‘first world problems’ and a loss of perspective. Also, a lack of learning – I’d badly burnt my hand placing a roast in a couple of weeks before. Anyway, dinner ended up tasting pretty good. One day, though, I’ll defeat lasagne – which brings me to the art of winning. At least I’m trying. That’s how you end up winning in the end.

I do feel the pinch of jealousy when someone achieves something I long for. I’ve connected with many bestselling and award-winning authors recently and I hunger for their success. You can’t win, however, if you don’t compete. You learn by doing. Sometimes, by failing. One day, I’ll write a brilliant book that you’ll all want to read and, one day, I’ll make the perfect lasagne that you’ll wish you could eat. Neither would be the same as they will be without the practice and the patience that will have gone before.

So, in summary (and a collection of cliches), you’ve got to be in it to win it; risk it to get the biscuit; start in order to finish. You might make a bit of a mess on the way, but it can still taste good, and winning will be worth it. What do you want to win? And when are you going to enter?

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