Thursday, 27 November 2014

How to be Thankful Every Day of the Year

Being thankful is a full time challenge.  When I was building my life back up following my divorce I spent a lot of time thinking about all the things I was thankful for.  It was tough.  Those days were very dark and finding a sliver of hope needed work. 

Photo courtesy of Nurture Store

Ten years later I find it easy to be thankful every day.  Each evening my children and I sit down to dinner and we go around the table asking what our best and worst things are of that day.  This is also a wonderful way to find out what's going with your family.  I've discovered test results and arguments with friends this way (teens can be so guarded!)  They feel safe to voice their concerns as part of their 'worst' bit and we can discuss it as a family.  We then turn this into a positive by saying what our 'best' thing was.  This could be a simple as a sunny day or as monumental as an A* exam result.

Journaling is one of my favourite self-help tools, and jotting down three things you are thankful for can do so much for your well-being.  I write my list just before bed. Last night I wrote:
  1. Meeting a friend for coffee.
  2. Spending the evening snuggled up with my kids watching telly.
  3. My new patio (had landscapers in all week).
What happens if you are having a tough time though?  How can you be thankful when your life is full of pain, anxiety or debt? 

This is when writing a journal can help.  Even after the darkest of days you will be able to find something to make you smile.  The smell of a cup of coffee, your pet dog wagging his tail when you get home because he's pleased to see you.  What about a stranger holding open a door for you, or finding a five pound note in an old coat?  Don't think that you can only be thankful for the life saving brain surgery (obviously you would be!!) but instead remember the smallest of things.  Words, smiles, sunny days or friendly actions - they all count.

In my life I see my past as something that happened to another person.  I got a 'do-over' and everything that I've achieved since 2004 has been my new life.  This new person who was re-born and started fresh has created her own happiness, built on her strengths and learnt huge lessons about her weaknesses.

To be able to move forward I began setting myself goals - smaller ones to begin with.  The first goal I ever set myself was to get up, get dressed and take the kids to nursery and school.  That was an amazing day!  I began my 'be thankful' journey that same day.

What are three things you are thankful for? 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

My Great Great Grandad Was Who? Genealogy for Beginners.

Genealogy is a fascinating subject and as a beginner I can lose hours, if not days surfing the net for long lost relatives.  I’m sure there are quicker ways to get results, but I’m having so much fun on my detective mission nonetheless.

As it happens, I discovered this week that my Great-Great-Grandfather on my mother’s side was in the Royal Engineers 223rd Field Company in WW1.  Having visited the incredible memorial at Tower Bridge in London, I found the realisation that one of my ancestors was in the thick of it quite overwhelming.  Tears were shed.  God help me if I watch the Sainsbury’s advert again!

During the same session, I found out that my other set of Great-Great-Grandparents were born in Dublin and Mayo and travelled over to the UK in the 1800’s.  That must have been quite a trip.

The storyteller in me was buzzing with the; who, what, where, when and how’s of it all.  To work in this field and be able to piece together the puzzle of someone’s life must be so rewarding. 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Taking a Step from Motivational Non-Fiction to Magical Fantasy

This week I watched my non-fiction book How I Changed My Life in a Year reach the number four spot on Amazon's Best Seller list for self-help. 

I hit the 'screenshot' button so fast I nearly dislocated my finger.  Within thirty seconds I had uploaded the photo to my Facebook page to share my news with the incredible people who have supported me throughout my writing journey.

The experience of self-publishing this book has been so rewarding.  I continue to receive emails, tweets and messages from people telling me how much they enjoyed reading it and how it has helped them in their life.  Priceless.

On Thursday I hit my 50,000 word target for NaNoWriMo and I had to switch my writing brain from motivational non-fiction to young adult fantasy. 

I have always had a passion for fantasy books, films and TV shows.  During the lowest point of my life there was one young adult in particular who taught me I could survive to live another day - Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer.  She certainly knew where to shove the pointy end of a stake!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Guest Author Interview - Douglas McPherson

Today I am joined by journalist and author, Douglas McPherson.  Douglas was the man I turned to for advice on turning my Resolution Challenge blog into a book.  His response and subsequent support were a huge factor in building my confidence.  I am thrilled that he was able to join me for a chat.  Over to Douglas.
The Fun Five:
1.  What part of the world do you come from?
I grew up in South London, not far from Wimbledon Common.  I currently live out in the countryside beneath the big Norfolk skies.
2.  What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to do something creative and actually began my working life as a graphic designer.
3.  List three words to describe yourself.
Nearly always writing.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Do Something That Scares You

No matter how old I get Halloween still holds that special magic for me.  I loved bobbing for apples when I was a child and carving the pumpkins.  My children still enjoy getting dressed up (although it's more teenage zombie than fairy or cute ghost nowadays).  Going out trick-or-treating with friends and dressing the house up with giant spiders and plastic bats holds a giddy fascination.  I have been known to wear purple velour and a pointed hat on occasion!

With Halloween fresh in our minds, I thought it was the perfect time to think about the scary stuff - not headless horsemen or flesh eating gremlins - the day-to-day stuff that stops us from achieving our goals.

Many years ago I set myself a challenge to take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  A writing competition to pen 50,000 words in 30 days.  I didn't do it.  Why?  Because I was scared.  Scared of failing, scared of taking part, scared of writing drivel, scared of what people may think. 

How many times have you allowed your fears to stop you from doing something?

Last year I finally took part in NaNoWriMo, of course this was part of my Resolution Challenge, a year full of resolutions that I had to achieve whilst blogging my progress.  It was a fantastic experience and not only did I thoroughly enjoy the event, but I finished with time to spare and the first draft of my debut young adult fantasy novel, Guardians of the Dead.

What had I been so scared of?  After the event I understood how valuable the experience was and realised what I had been missing out on because of my fears.  Before we can achieve we must first face our demons.  My demon looked like me; brown hair, brown eyes, five foot ten with a slight muffin top and laughter lines (I refuse to acknowledge them as wrinkles!)

So how can we do it?  How can we do something that scares us?  During my year of challenges, I faced several demons, all of them were self-made.  Knowing that I was writing my progress here on my blog gave me the strength to get on and do it.  I found the confidence to just write and over time I stopped over-analysing myself and my work and began to enjoy it.  Once this happened I started to receive feedback from people all over the globe.  I'd faced a fear - failure - and came out on the other side unscathed. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Guest Author Interview - Stephan Myers

Today I am pleased to introduce children's author and illustrator, Stephan Myers. 

The Fun Five:
1.  What part of the world do you come from?
I was actually born in Hull.  A Yorkshire man born, but not bred.  I come from a service family and we moved on a regular basis both in the UK and Europe.
2.  What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wish I could say I had a particular ambition.  I was very much into athletics and it wasn't until later years that I chose a corporate career.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Time Management in 4 Easy Steps

Last week I delivered a course about time management to my Motivate Me workshop ladies.  The response was wonderful, and the evening was a huge success.  As I chatted to the group it became evident that we are prone to reject or forget many self-help tools.   We may see them as yet another chore rather than a way to help ourselves.  Our lives are far too busy to remember all that self-help mojo!

With the festive season screaming towards us it's the perfect time to claim some 'me time' before we all lose ourselves in mince pies and tinsel.  Managing the time we do have means we are more productive.

The term 'time management' is more often associated with the corporate world.  The business masses who fill their day and diary with copious emails, meetings, phone calls and networking events.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.  Of course, seven years ago I was one of them.  My diary was full; my social calendar was a jumble of events and the children's sports days, parents evenings and school plays filled in any blank space.