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It’s the end of April – what happened? This is what happened…

Since it seems I completely forgot to post a blog this month I will take a slight detour from the theme of being true to yourself, to outline a big lesson we have learnt in the last few weeks.

This whole year has been a big pile of STUCK – and not just because of Covid either! We have been dealing with a very big issue that I won’t go into here – but please look out for the bestseller! 😉. It has only been through, dogged persistence, (some might say bloody-mindedness!)  keeping going when we should have given up, together with a lot of creative ideas and out of the box thinking that we have found a way out of the situation!

This harks back briefly to the theme of being true to yourself, as we had to demonstrate absolute trust in ourselves – even when everything looked barmy and so did we! We kept going back to check in with our inner truth to check we were on track with what we were doing and not just making stuff up to suit our narrative.  This has been ultimate test in ‘trust yourself’ and we’re not out of the woods yet, but we are finding a way through them.

The interesting thing we’ve noticed as we’ve managed to forge a path out of the maze is that as we have become unstuck so have the people around us.

The thing that was key in the whole saga of these past months, has been to turn away from trying to influence external issues and people and turn inwards instead to work on ourselves – which we had been totally neglecting. Yes, I know we should have known better!

It was at the point that we started to focus on ourselves and what we needed, that everything started to change. We forget that working on self is actually a way of helping others. The people who are connected to us will start to benefit from the effects of that energetic change. We have seen the results of this only recently in our friends and family and it has given us an enormous boost (and kick up the backside for not realising it sooner!).

So, for all those busy people out there who are fighting what might seem impossible circumstances and being drained in the process, remember that in order to create (and keep) balance in your life, you need to look after yourself. Listen to what your body and your inner self are saying to you and put it first. It is very difficult when there are so many demands made on us from every angle, but if you are not in balance then you have little to give to other people anyway and everything will be a lot harder because of it.

So, take a little time to restore yourself, whether that means time out, setting boundaries or doing something therapeutic, so that you can be the beacon of light in the world that you want to be. Remember, investing in yourself is one of the best things you can ever do for others!

What is truth? What is YOUR truth? Do you embody it? Or are you embodying someone else’s?

It seems that this year’s theme is all about ‘to thine own self be true.’ This reminds me of another quote, not from Hamlet, but from ‘The Mists of Avalon’ which ends: ‘…and to every man his own truth, and the god within.’

Ever since I read that line, I resonated with it. I could feel the truth of that statement at a deep level – for me at least, since truth is about what is right for each individual.

If you want to know what is true, you have to know WHO YOU ARE – otherwise how can you know your truth?

We enter the world as our own person, but also as a blank slate and that blank slate is influenced by the people around us, by their values and beliefs. That goes not just for our upbringing but for school, college and the workplace – even friends and authority figures. All those sources will be feeding us ideas and beliefs of what is true, and it is up to us to accept or reject those concepts. We do this naturally growing up.

Unfortunately, we don’t consciously realise that is what we are doing, so when we take on someone else’s belief, perhaps because we admire them, want to be like them or want to impress, we don’t realise that it may not be in line with our inner truth. We take it on board as part of self, where we soon forget it actually came from another source.

Sometimes we hear truth that is OUR truth and we take that on in the same way. The difficulty is, separating the wheat from the chaff!

It takes work but it is an interesting exercise to write out who you believe yourself to be. Write a list of your personality traits, your beliefs and ideas about the world; what is right and what is not.

Then take each one and see whether you can trace it back to where it came from. Is it an idea you got from a friend, a parent, even a celebrity you admire, or what you consider to be a reliable source of written information such as a book or website? (NB Remember to read this article through, but don’t accept my ideas unless it resonates with YOUR inner knowing!).

Once you know the source, it helps you look at it more objectively. Try saying the belief or character trait out loud. Here are some examples:

I believe I am powerful.

I believe I cannot change my circumstances.

I am loud and exuberant.

I am quiet and non confrontational.

Ask yourself some questions:

  • How do you feel when you say these things out loud?
  • Does it feel right?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable?
  • Does it trigger some kind of emotional response? If it does – pay attention as that is useful information.

Try to notice if there is any physical response from your body – e.g. you might get a sinking feeling, a cramp in your stomach or a feeling of shortness of breath. It could be as subtle as an eye twitch or clenched teeth. Those are all important clues that can lead us to understand how we really feel about the ideas, beliefs and character traits that make up who we are. 

If you are patient (or even if you are not!) you can slowly sift through your list. Some statements may be in line with your true self, but you will find some that are not.

It can be a very liberating experience but can also take some courage because when you peel away all the stuff that was never really you and decide what IS, you may have to deal with disappointment and dismay from other people.

Not everyone will be happy when you do not live up to their expectations, especially if it means you have changed the dynamic between you in a way that does not suit them. This is actually a massive subject, so I’ll need to come back to that in a future blog – watch this space!

So, what about the aggrieved outcries of “You’ve changed”? Well… newsflash! We are evolving and changing all the time. We don’t just arrive at our true self and then stop developing. Life is continuous growth and progress. However, you want to evolve from a clear, uncluttered place that is authentically you, so that, from there, you can move to the next bigger and better version of yourself.

Life is a journey and an important part of that journey is the unfolding of who you really are. Go for it! There are no limits – only those you impose upon yourself.

A lesson in Spring Cleaning

How many times have you been told that you should clear your life of the people who drain you or bring you down? Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Often, the relationships will be ones that you can’t get out of because you’ve married into them or you’re related. However, when there are people that you don’t want in your life and you CAN get rid of them please do it! That is to say – don’t follow my example!

I’ve recently had to walk away from a relationship that goes back many years. This person is totally different from me, which is fine of course. However, it wasn’t so much different wavelengths as different planetary frequencies!

Of course, we could ‘chitchat’ but on a deeper level this person had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. I found it very hard to understand what they were saying as well. This was for various reasons, one of which being that they lived in a completely different world from me with lots of specialist vocabulary and abbreviations that they never bothered to explain. (that probably didn’t help to be fair!). Our views of life and personality types were also completely different. This should actually be ok. We can’t live surrounded by clones of ourselves!

However, the real trouble was, I felt I couldn’t be myself. Instead, I morphed into a version of myself, in order for them to be able to ‘understand’ me. I tried not to state certain opinions or talk about certain topics, but it was very uncomfortable. The times I did try to be more true to myself I knew they couldn’t understand me. As an energy practitioner, I’m used to feeling these things and it was like a signal bouncing back off a wall. Basically, like talking to yourself!

Personally, I find it excruciatingly uncomfortable to have to pretend to be somebody I’m not. I knew from the very start that it was wrong and that we were polar opposites. I should have backed off then, but I kept it up out of duty, thinking that it was better not to hurt their feelings.

I’ve realised now that was actually the UNKIND thing to do. It’s so much worse now than if I’d cut ties years ago.

So — here is a very good example of how trying to be a ‘good person’ and do the ‘right thing’ actually causes more harm than good!

THIS is why it’s important to be true to yourself and stop paying so much attention to what you think you ‘should’ do, or what other people might think was right or wrong. I obviously can’t talk! — but my advice would be to try and listen to what your inner voice tells you is right for you, even if you have to hurt someone’s feelings in the short run. It’s so much better for both parties longer term.

So – lesson learned! I resolve to do better in future. For everyone else out there, please listen to what your inner voice tells you is right for you — and particularly — DON’T DO WHAT I DID!

New year – true you?

“This above all to thine own self be true.”

How many of us can say we are our true selves? What with society having an opinion, social media (sigh) having an opinion, and then our friends and family, colleagues and even acquaintances. How can we possibly meet the weight of all those expectations, and should we even try?

Do you ever feel kind of itchy when you have to agree (or pretend to) with people’s opinion of how the world works and how you should live your life? There are so many controversial topics, especially in these strange times, and having to pretend because you don’t want to start an argument, can create anxiety or even a physical feeling of discomfort.

There might be more honest ways to avoid confrontation, perhaps by saying, ‘I don’t want to discuss that subject, it makes me feel uncomfortable’, or even, ‘I haven’t got the energy for a controversial discussion.’ Something that allows you to remain true to yourself, while avoiding the energy drain of an argument.

Some people, however, might prefer to confront others with the inevitable arguments that follow; others, like myself, prefer to avoid them. It doesn’t actually matter. Whichever feels most comfortable for you is the best way to deal with it – BECAUSE WE’RE ALL DIFFERENT AND WHAT IS RIGHT FOR SOME IS NOT RIGHT FOR OTHERS. Sorry for shouting but this is a particular hobby horse of mine!

It is so important for us to acknowledge our differences. We’re never going to be exactly the same. There is no ‘one size fits all’.  It’s hard because we relate everything to our own experiences, and how we think and feel, then judge others accordingly.

It’s helpful to remember while we’re gaily judging others that we don’t know everything about them or their lifestyle and beliefs. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s absolutely fine to disagree. All we need to do is to allow enough room for people to be themselves. As long as they’re not hurting anyone then why not?

We are all different, although in true, quantum paradox style, we are also all one! If we allow another person a bit more room to express themselves, maybe they, in turn, will allow us a bit more breathing room to express our true self, without having to get embroiled in arguments that drain us and take away from what we really want to do with our lives. What’s that you say? You don’t agree? Well, that’s absolutely fine with me! 😉 😊

The Year in Review

Considering the global pandemic, and the emotional and financial devastation it has caused, Dan and I have been let off lightly. Fortunate enough to be working from home already, with a business that could be managed over zoom, we escaped many of the worst effects. Instead, our year was about starting an entirely new project that staked its claim on our every waking hour – which given world events proved a welcome distraction.

In February, I had the innocent idea of getting my books into print, as they’d only ever been in ring binders! I’d approached publishers before, but it was obvious that my ideas and stories were so outside of the box and publisher’s expectations that it wasn’t really worth the effort. It seemed the obvious answer to print and sell them ourselves, particularly as, at last count, we had 14 books between us.  

At that point, we had absolutely no idea what we were letting ourselves in for. As far as we were concerned, we’d done the writing, so all we had to do was find someone to print them. Cue hysterical laughter from all those who know better!

After we’d returned from Fantasyland, what actually happened was, we started editing the books. Then we edited them again, followed by learning how we should have edited them in the first place, followed by rewrites. Then we had to investigate the confusing and contradictory world of punctation – how you should punctuate fiction, depending which side of the Atlantic you’re on and which camp you’re in concerning the placement of commas and speech marks.

Next came formatting. Where should the page numbers sit? Where should they start? How should the text be laid out? Which font and size was right for which age group? What kind of line spacing should we use, and had we got the right dimensions for the page size? To say nothing of footnotes, which jumped about every time we made an alteration anywhere in the text.

This, I might add, was all done in Microsoft Word, which is not set up to produce books. You can do it but it’s a pain in the proverbial, which part – the proverbial, that is – was left to Dan as I am not technical. So, he spent many happy hours trying to find out why the page numbers started on the title page, or why there was a line at the bottom of every page that was impossible to delete and so on. It’s a good job he has the patience of a saint! Mastering InDesign should eliminate most of those problems, but that’s a learning curve for another year!

And did I mention books need covers? That was, of course, also Dan’s department. Being new to the world of cover design, we had to reluctantly scrap a beautiful cover he created, when we realised we needed something that would work as a thumbnail when viewing online, catch the eye, tell the story, and quite possibly make the tea too!

Luckily, he’s extremely talented, and after soaking up all that feedback produced the perfect thing (see cover for Are Rabbits Bears)!  He also had to produce covers for all my OTHER books, plus his own, AND illustrate the 40,000 word Are Rabbits Bears, along with its Companion Guide which needed him to create specialised fonts for every type of bear.

Illustrating in black and white was also a new thing for Dan, so again another learning curve, which ended with some fantastic illustrations I might add. I think there were over 40 for Are Rabbits Bears and another 20 or so for the Companion Guide – plus the fonts of course.

Still, it wasn’t like he had his own stuff to do. Well… that is to say, he’d actually already completed 3 graphic novels (18 months work) although the third still has changes waiting (I might say, ‘queuing up’) to be made.

His comic ‘The Wildy Exciting Adventures of Citizen 34825’ is only the first in a series – which will be coming as soon as he finds the time! Plus, there is his new venture. Or rather, Moo’s new venture! The wonderful ‘Moo and the Search for Tuna’, – a 50 page colour graphic, suitable for all ages, nationalities and reading abilities. How very ‘Moo’! 😊 Dan’s very excited about that one, or at least, he is when he actually gets time to work on it…

coming soon…

Then of course there are 2 more Beastly Bear books for him to illustrate (he’s done one already, although I’m not sure where he found the time) as well as REDRAWING all the Moo cards he’d developed for our Redbubble shop – see some examples below.

It turns out, that when Dan went to draw Moo again, after he’d passed, he couldn’t draw him the same, as the energy had changed. And the new Moo was good – he was very good! Just – whoops – redraw all the cards and put them up for sale again, along with overseeing our THREE websites plus his own Honeybadger Mountain website and the Etsy page which handles all the sales.

Yes, that many websites. We started the year with one. Then realised we needed another for Mooniverse Books. Then another for the bear books, or ‘allthingsBearDimension’. We have used WordPress, which I am starting to get the hang of and which Dan already knew, although they decided to change their editing process partway through the year, which meant, yes, more learning!

Along with the other things there were to absorb, it was time to take on marketing. This led to the need to make videos for our websites and to promote individual books. At first, I used Windows video editor, but it quickly became too limiting so I had to switch to Adobe Premiere Rush. Another learning curve! We also started following some rather talented writers and self-publishers (thankyou David Gaughran) where we found out about mailing lists, how to write newsletters, create ‘reader magnets’ and on and on.

After our first delivery of printed books, we tumbled to the fact we were also going to need suitably sized, reasonably priced and ideally, environmentally friendly packaging, (so no plastic envelopes!).

We are currently knee deep in the world of e-book publishing. We are still working out, how to publish, where to publish, and why. Then there is how much to charge, what the profit margins are and how we are going to record it and divide it up into illustrator versus writer royalties (yes Dan does get paid – woo!) plus reimbursement of postal charges.

It was only last week I realised that, although I have lots of hobbies, I don’t indulge in any of them. Except one – learning languages. I have, thanks to that pestilent owl from Duolingo who nags me from my phone every day, somehow managed to keep up with Swahili, while going over some French and Norwegian during those times when my brain was not in a suitable state to even LOOK at Swahili!

So hey – that’s something isn’t it? On top of that, quite apart from the little matter of living in a new ‘Covid world’, we’ve been working very hard on ourselves, removing old ‘rubbish’, and energy blocks that were getting in our way. We’ve also managed to fit in a few clients at our healing clinic, or more recently (from about March!) zoom sessions.

Having got 7 out of a possible 14 books, into print this year, we feel, (apart from absolutely knackered and mostly brain dead) triumphant, virtuous and willing to allow ourselves to take a break over the holiday season. We hope to return refreshed and ready to get more books printed and expand our little ‘empire’ further into the world.

Exciting times ahead – and hopefully a better year for everyone!