Just one thing

I’ve been reading through my archives with the intention of cutting out any deadwood and tidying up the photo sizes. Ten minutes in I realised this is a much bigger job than I’d first anticipated and will need to be done in short bursts (so my head doesn’t explode). Twelve minutes in I read this post from August 2007:

When there’s too much to be done, I tend to do nothing.  I’ll have a to do list as long as my arm, and every evening more gets added, as tasks from the day are carried over to the next. I could provide an equally long list of things I can’t stand about myself, my lack of motivation being one of them.

As luck would have it, it’s about this time of the month when my hormones start to take over and my mood plummets, down into the cosy basket of the black dog – you could set your watch to my cycle it’s so regular. But this week I’m fighting back, this week I’m trying something new. Enough with the to do lists and procrastinating and excuses. Enough with the fear of failure.

I’ve made a deal with myself – I will do either one thing, or work for one hour, towards my dream, every day. That’s it. Just one thing or one hour. The idea is to break through the fear, push past the inertia and overwhelm, and do something, anything, that takes me one tiny step closer to what I want. The rest of the day I can lie on the sofa if I want to (which obviously I wouldn’t do) so long as I do my one thing.

I started this cunning plan at the weekend, and I’m pleased to report that so far it’s working really well. I can’t do everything; I can’t create what I want in a day. But I can do one thing (one thing which morphed into several things today before I even realised what I was doing). I’m also noting down what I do each day in my journal at night, to make the point to my subconscious that it IS possible to do things and move forward, and not slide down into the ‘I’m not good enough, so why bother’ crap that my mind spews out so easily. I’ve had thirty-four years of this fear and it hasn’t worked, so now I’m trying something new.


Back to 2012 where I am sadly no longer 34 years-old *ahem* ::

I’m sharing this post again because I realised it’s proof that if you chip away at your dream, you really can make it happen. Which sounds so bloody obvious, I know, but when you’re right at the beginning, or stuck in the quagmire of doubt, it’s hard to have any faith. So very hard to trust in the process. Back in 2007 i started chipping away at my dream and did, in fact, make some of it happen. So if that’s the case, maybe if I keep chipping away at my new dreams for London and beyond, I can make those happen too.

One thing at a time.

This is also another example of the blog-as-time-machine thing. Thirty-four year-old me wrote this message I needed to hear today. Amazing.

What one thing could you do today towards your dreams? Share it in the comments below if you’re feeling inspired!

Embracing what we ARE

I spent a few days in Italy last week attending Squamitalia. I wasn’t teaching a class so the plan was to just chill my boots and take a painting class with the very lovely Flora. I did some painting back in the day at art college, and have dabbled here and there over the years, but I had no expectations for the class other than it might be fun to mess around with paint on a hillside in Abruzzo.

Here’s what I discovered: I am not a painter.

Not that I ever thought I was, you understand, but there must have been some small assumption floating around in my sub-conscious that because I am so creative in most areas of my life the painting thing would probably come naturally to me.

Well, it didn’t.

In fact, it totally sucked.

Sure, I got some nice colour-combinations and had fun splodging paint on in a random way. But when we switched from random to doing something with a bit more intention, it suddenly became difficult. There was no ease. The paints were too dry, or not the right colours, or maybe I couldn’t figure out what the right colours were. The paper felt too big. I tried to let go and painted over bits I liked only to regret it. I felt like a monkey wearing boxing gloves. It was ungainly and awkward and not fun at all. It was frustrating and annoying and I didn’t like being a beginner.

Just as I was remembering what it was like to be a beginning blogger the other week, I was once again presented with an opportunity to start at the beginning of something I do not know how to do. And maybe I could improve if I painted twenty, thirty, forty more paintings. But here’s the coolest thing I got from the entire experience: I really don’t want to. When I finally realised this I wanted to whoop and shout and jump in the air:


I don’t have to be good at this because I’m good at other things… things that bring me a lot of joy and satisfaction and contentment. When I realised that I didn’t have to finish the painting, that I didn’t have to try to be better at it, I honestly just wanted to run to my laptop and cameras and hug them tightly. I have my own beloved tools and the love I felt for them in that moment was big and profound :)

So, once again, the teacher had to learn to be the beginner. There’s been a lot of that happening this year and it always sloughs off a few more layers. I certainly wasn’t expecting my painting to be perfect, but I hadn’t been prepared for the discomfort; it dovetailed perfectly with what’s been bubbling in my head lately, the fears around this next stage of my life and the general fatigue I’ve been dancing with these last months. There were a few tears, and friends to witness them, which was just what i needed.

Italy was sunshine-y and gorgeous and I was happy to discover I still remember a few Italian words and phrases (though considering I spent 10 years with an Italian boyfriend you would have thought I’d know more, but anyways…). The retreat was fabulous, as they always are when Elizabeth spins her magic, bringing together like-minded souls and inspiring teachers (Flora was truly amazing, holding the space for us all and sharing her process without being intimidating in the slightest — I bow down before her paint brushes!). If there’s a Squamitalia next year I highly recommend signing up if you can — you won’t regret it.

Below: my classmates — you guys rocked it! xx

Last photo by Elizabeth

On balance…

Something I’ve been pondering lately is how to balance my publically viewable life (ecourses, blogging & now a book) with my private life (everything else). How do i give as much of myself as I can — for that is what I feel called to do — while also maintaining some boundaries? At a couple of the book events last month I was asked how I felt about sharing so much of myself online and in a book, and my answer each time was this: there is actually a LOT that I don’t share. I don’t know why i feel so comfortable sharing the way i do here. I don’t mind talking about PMS or grief, or whatever I’m chewing on in that moment. I like to share the realisations i have as i really value when other people share the same, so i hope that whatever I’ve realised will be helpful to someone else experiencing a similar situation. I guess being able to write in such an open and expressive way does make it seem like i’m spilling my guts all the time, but in all honesty there’s a lot I keep to myself. I mean… of course, right? If i shared the minutiae that fills my head you’d all have switched off by now :)

I talk about setting your own personal boundaries as a creative blogger in Blogging from the Heart. I think it’s important to know what you are willing — and not willing– to share online. For example, I decided early on that I didn’t want to share details of my relationship with my love, that i wanted this blog to be a chronicle of my new life rather than a memorial to the past. When i’m in my next relationship I will no doubt have new boundaries to define, sharing my experiences in a way that respects the privacy of my new partner. It’s all down to personal choice and your own comfort levels, another reason why I love blogging so much — we set our own rules!

The other side of my online existence is my business. It still blows my mind that i even HAVE a business, because that was never my intention. In fact, I don’t really see what i do as a “business” at all. I see it as another part of me, one that’s so integrated into who I am and how I feel I find it hard to separate the two. It’s amazing that we are living in a time when people like me, someone who had no biz skills whatsoever (i’ve had to learn the hard way) can find a way to pay her rent with the power of her MIND. Because that’s what it feels like sometimes. Sharing knowledge and experience is such a time-honoured profession, and add in the internet and shazam — a whole new way of working has been born. Online biz is all the rage these days and I say hallelujah to that — so many people, women especially, are finding ways to support themselves using their talents and strengths. It’s exciting new ground, and I’ll admit I have days when i worry it will all fall away and I’ll be completely stuffed, but for now I try to trust that if I follow what feels true to me — sharing what I know, working with absolute integrity always, being of service — then I’ll continue building something that has value in the world. This is my hope and my intention.

Always wear your invisible crown

Always wear your invisible crown | SusannahConway.com
Recently a friend of mine was telling me about some stress she was having at work. Something had happened and while it wasn’t directly anything to do with her she was still getting it in the neck from her boss who’d been unprofessional and, frankly, mean to her. As I listened to her speak my overwhelming reaction was: but don’t they know who you are?! Didn’t they know how funny and talented and incredible she was? Because all I could see in front of me was my brilliant friend who inspires me to do my best and supports me when I get scared. The one who knows the fire of bereavement herself and navigates the world with such kindness and style. And I said that to her — don’t they know who you are? Don’t they know how awesome you are?

I was thinking about that moment this morning as I dried my hair and prepared to start my day. It’s so easy to see the best in our loved ones. It’s easy to criticise and judge too, don’t get me wrong, but the feeling I reach for first when I think of the person I love is… love. I feel proud of them. I see the spark, the originality, the unique-ness that is them. I know of their struggles and torments and I also know how they try to do their best. How they are wonderfully and completely human and I wouldn’t want them to be any other way.

You know what’s coming next, don’t you. Why can’t I think about myself in this way?

I have moments when I do. Fleeting ephemeral moments when I catch myself thinking “I did okay” “that wasn’t too bad” or even “go me!” but they are so few and far between. I have never thought of myself as awesome let alone said it out loud, though I believe this is a good thing as people who genuinely think they are awesome are generally extremely loud and annoying ;)

But what about the middle way? The quiet confident knowing that I am deserving of my own kindness. My own respect. My own appreciation. Not ego. Not bravado. Not self-agrandising. Just being okay with liking ourselves (woo, that’s a big one, right there. BIG.)

I’ve been chewing on this a lot recently. The imminent book publication/book tour/ promotion stuff is making me feel… well, just making me FEEL a lot. of. stuff. Not everything has to be turned into an opportunity for personal development, but geez, sometimes you can’t help yourself. A while back I found a pin on Pinterest that said: Always wear your invisible crown. It’s become bit of a mantra for me lately. Not because I want to swan around like a princess, but because it simply reminds me to stand tall and be proud of what I’m doing. For someone who grew up feeling very small, this is huge.

Always wear your invisble crown.

If I promise to wear mine, will you wear yours?