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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!

The art of self-forgiveness

Image: Pexels.com

Self-forgiveness is an important subject that sometimes gets overlooked, especially in a world where we often have much to forgive others for!

It was Thich Nhat Hanh’s 94th birthday (or more properly – Continuation Day) on 12th October this year. He was asking people to carry on his teachings of mindfulness and forgiveness. I thought I would try to give him a present that he would like by forgiving someone.

As part of Vishen Lakhiani’s 6-phase meditation (see You Tube, Mind Valley) you have to forgive someone each time, so naturally I started with a long list! I gradually worked through them til I was really struggling and started to leave out that part. However, when it came to Thay’s ‘birthday’ I considered forgiveness again and realised I should include myself on that list!

It came to my attention again when my partner, Dan (who has the patience of a saint, and is generally the soul of compassion!) was out driving and getting very angry when someone was driving right up his boot. Dan being angry is a rare event, so I thought we should look into it to see what he was really mad about.

He said he was angry that people (who were driving up his boot) didn’t give others any space or consideration, and that they had no patience for others.

What you are angry at externally is usually something to do with yourself, so we considered his answer in that light and came up with: perhaps he was really angry that he didn’t give himself enough consideration and that he was very impatient with himself. This turned out to be spot on.

The reason I have told this story is to illustrate that very often when we think we are mad at others, we are actually mad at ourselves, and it is something that can get overlooked. In the main, people do tend to be too hard on themselves and need to cut themselves some slack.

We inhabit physical bodies and part of being human is that we are not perfect. We are not here to attain perfection either! We are here to try and improve ourselves, and to learn and grow within the limitations of a physical form.

So, starting from that premise, you’re human – you will make mistakes! However highly advanced you are spiritually, however many lives you’ve had and whatever ‘heights’ you have previously achieved, that is still the case. So let up on yourself! As long as you are not deliberately causing harm to others you can breathe easy, look at whatever the mistake was, decide not to repeat it and forgive yourself for your human ‘frailty’.

We are here to learn and grow. If there is no growth there is no life, or no point to life. Growth doesn’t have to be huge. Experiencing a sunrise can be growth! We are all growing and changing through our experiences and our interactions with each other. We learn what does, and doesn’t, piss each other off! And we learn how it feels when we behave in a certain way, and whether or not that is fulfilling or helpful for us.

Fully embracing the physical form and all the experiences that are available to us on this beautiful planet is something we will each do in our own unique way. Some will stumble more than others on the path. There is no one perfect strategy for being human or living our lives.

You can only try to do your best, monitor your actions and feelings and try not to repeat your mistakes. Physical incarnation brings its challenges, and it’s supposed to.

Thich Nhat Hanh would have us show compassion and love and forgive one another. This is a very worthy aim, but it is easy to forget that in order to forgive others, it is helpful to first forgive ourselves.

So lighten up. You’re going to make mistakes, but don’t brood over them. Pick yourself up and move forward. Show yourself the same love and compassion as you would show a child who is still only learning how things work. There is so much to know about life. We are still only learning, whatever age we are. Mistakes are part of that, and we should try and embrace them, and ourselves, with compassion and understanding. After all – charity starts at home, right?

Vibration – and what is that high pitched noise that only you can hear?

The other day, I was watching telly when I got a really loud high-pitched noise in my ear, only it wasn’t coming from the television, or anywhere external to me. I could hear it only in my head and it seemed to be coming from my right ear. Naturally I was curious about this and decided to ask our spirit friend, Moo, what it was all about.

We have had a situation before, where we heard these high-pitched noises inside our heads, and Moo told us that they were downloads – i.e. some information being sent on a vibrational level to our subconscious for processing.

I wondered if it might be a download, although it did seem particularly larger than life. Moo explained that it was a message from my mum. He didn’t say what it was, as it was apparently meant specifically for me. Dan, being Dan, decided that as we are very similar in vibration, that he would try and find out what the message was. Hey presto, he managed it! – and found it was a message about protection and it was in answer to something that I had asked without really being conscious of it.

Since we and everything around us are made up of molecules vibrating at a particular rate, it makes sense that spirit would transmit messages and downloads of information in this way.

It is something to think about however, when you hear those high frequency noises coming from inside your head. It may be that someone is trying to give you some information. So, with that awareness you can always ask your intuition what it is about.

If you can’t get an answer, don’t worry. Be comforted by the fact that there is someone there looking out for and helping you. If you are at all worried that the vibration or information might be from a dark or unhelpful energy then remember you can always ask 3 times whether the originator or energy is from the light.

There is a universal law that states that beings must answer truthfully if you ask 3 times. You can also ask for, or invoke, divine protection and it is a useful thing to do in any case as there are many unhelpful energies floating about. For example, all the negative images and messages on social media, or the news, or just in the heads of people around you.

If you make it a habit to ask for divine protection then you can’t go far wrong. I am so used to using my intuition inside a protected field of energy that can only do good, that I don’t have to think about it anymore. It has become second nature.

Although we can’t understand these messages or downloads at first, we may find that we have a creative thought or a helpful idea a short while later. This is your subconscious translating it for you and bringing it up to your conscious attention.

Other times though, you don’t need to translate the message! There was a time, not long after my mum had died, when my dad and I were having a massive argument and shouting at one another. Quite suddenly, in the middle of all this, came a very high pitched noise, that I knew for a fact did not come from the smoke alarm, the refrigerator or any of the other electrical items in the house.

We both stopped dead and I said, ‘What was that?’  He said, ‘Probably your mum.’ I agreed it was probably her, telling us to shut up! This made us both laugh and we were able to leave the argument and move on.

So bear in mind, spirit, being nonphysical, can use vibration in various different ways, and is particularly good at making high-pitched noises, whether inside or outside of your head. So pay attention next time and see if there is anything you need to know. And if you’re in the middle of a row. Well… you know what to do! 😉

Holiday revelations!

 

I finally had some time out this year. Just one week, away from everything. And boy did it throw up some revelations! There is something to be said for stopping completely. No obligations, commitments, worries, chores or duties. Creating a space, however, always allows for something new to flow in – hence the revelations.

One big eye-opener for me was the feeling I got when I realised I didn’t have to meet any obligations or expectations – including and particularly – my own! Since I was ‘away’, I couldn’t be distracted by household chores, or things that needed doing in the garden. There was no phonecall to be made to my dad every day, no clients, no writing targets and no need to contact friends and family, as they knew I was away.

I actually had to go and lie down for a couple of hours to try and adapt to the massive change in energy that resulted.  I realised that worry over my obligations to others had been weighing me down – and not just a little, but by several tons!

It’s not that other people had been ‘putting on me’ or demanding that I help them out. Far from it. It was my own inner taskmaster!

I love to make a difference to people’s lives and I particularly feel for them when they are stuck as I know what it’s like. It doesn’t mean that I’m never going to attempt to help them out but I’m not going to blame myself if I don’t have the time and energy or if other priorities get in the way.

What I have come to realise is that I am not responsible for other people lives, or for how and why they have got to where they are. You’d think this would have been obvious! But not to me apparently!! – and I’m sure there are others like me out there, who mistakenly assume it is their job to take on responsibility for the happiness of the whole blooming world! 😉

The irony of it is that as a result of this new perspective, I am starting to feel stronger and lighter, with more capacity to help the people that I wanted to help in the first place! So if there is anyone else like me out there, you don’t have to give up helping out, but you do need to keep it in accordance with your own needs and where the other person is in their healing journey. Sometimes people are just not ready for change.

It is a hard thing to do but sometimes, letting go, can result in allowing more of what we actually want into our lives, whereas by trying to take control, we actually keep it away.

The Universe has its own ebb and flow and we need to go with that flow rather than against it. All things come to pass, without trying to force them to happen in the way we think is best. The more you let GO – the more you let IN. Just give it a go sometime and see how liberated you feel!

The far-reaching effects of just one Easter Bonnet! Should we really dare to believe in ourselves?!

I thought it would be useful to share a profound, hat-related, realisation that I came across in one of my old diaries –  in the hope that it will be of some use to somebody out there.  I certainly could have done with somebody telling me this when I was 9 rather than waiting til over 30 years later!

So.. it all started at school (as most things do!) with a competition for best Easter Bonnet (for ‘Bonnet’ read ‘hat’ but they were an old fashioned school in every sense!) 😉  I should mention, my junior school (from 6-11) was a Catholic Convent so Jesus figured quite large, even, and especially, with Easter Bonnets! However, most of the religion lark didn’t make much of an impact at that age, so I didn’t really consider Jesus when I was creating my Easter Bonnet; I just wanted to make a nice hat! 😉

As it happened, for my birthday, I had been given a nightdress case made of two circles of foam covered in cotton, the top halves sewn together so you could put your nightdress inside – although looking back I’ve no idea why anyone would want to do that! On the top circle sat a doll, with frilly orange and white ribbon spreading out like a tiered skirt. It was quite pretty and being really rather creative and imaginative! – I foresaw a better use for it, namely as a hat!

I managed to open it up enough to cram it on my head and sewed two ribbons either side to go under my chin so that the ‘hat’ stayed on! God only knew what it actually looked like – and I expect he was watching, it being a Catholic school –  but it is safe to say I was completely delighted with my efforts! I thought it looked original and rather spectacular! I even thought it might win. So when they called out the name of the winner and I heard ‘Elizabeth’, I jumped up and marched proudly through the ranks of parents and children to claim my prize.

I must stress at this point that it was never about the prize, but I really thought that hat was worthy of winning!  It was at this point that my mum came up and very tactfully explained there had been a mistake and it had not been me, but another Elizabeth who had won the prize. Admittedly, her hat was rather splendid too; a real home-made effort and religious to boot, as it was a velvet Bishop’s mitre and rather niftily crafted. To this day I have no idea whether they called out her name or mine. I rather suspect they might have called out HER name, but with my unshaking faith in my wonderful frilly nightcase of a hat I rushed up there without really listening hard enough.

So… of course, when my mum explained the mistake I felt absolutely terrible. Everyone had seen me march up there to get the prize and presumably everyone had heard it wasn’t my name that was called out.  How could I have been so arrogant as to assume that my hat was the best? I felt I was a laughing stock. Who was I to put myself and my silly frilly hat forward? How could I possibly have believed in myself to that extent? How utterly mortifying!

And this was how it felt for years – about 35 actually! Until I thought about it again…

Then I realised that what I’d felt so horrified about for all those years was the fact that after creating a rather original hat, I had believed in it to the extent that I rushed up to claim a prize that was not intended for me. But actually, I had done more than that. My unshakeable belief in my hat created a situation where I not only went up to claim the prize, but the teachers handed it over! Thinking back I wonder why they did that? Perhaps they didn’t want to make a scene. They most DEFINITELY knew the difference between me and the other Elizabeth! We were polar opposites. She was star pupil and teacher’s pet and I was, ‘the naughtiest girl in the school’ – and I really was! So the teachers all knew exactly who I was believe me!! There could have been no confusion on their part, but they meekly handed over the prize, and left it to my mother to sort out!

So, my deep and abiding faith in my hat (if not so much in Jesus!) got me a very long way as I see it! – and by marching up past all those rows of pupils and parents, a lot of whom must have been wondering what on earth I was doing, was showing how much I believed in myself and my millinery creation! And I had been beating myself up for years about that! Despite the fact that I know that it is a GOOD thing to believe in yourself! I also know it is a GOOD thing to demonstrate this fact to other people; to broadcast a vibration of self-belief. As you will read in many of the spiritual books these days, self-belief is everything! If you can believe it, you can achieve it! Belief creates reality! Very desirable stuff.

But somehow, I had managed to end up with an unconscious pattern, created by this formative Easter Bonnet experience, that said it was wrong and shameful to believe in yourself, and especially to broadcast that fact to others. In new age terms, the vibration of THAT unconscious pattern would bring me precisely ZILCH, whether it be prizes for my Easter Bonnet or recognition of my creative skills.  As you can imagine, I was very pleased to have discovered this proverbial skeleton hiding away in my subconscious, as it needed changing pronto!

So, my message to other people is: believe in your silly frilly hat and tell everyone else about it as well! Even if it’s terrible! Self belief is everything. No-one else can do it for you, and it is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself!