Creating A Magical Life – the Dream Board

It’s no secret that I’m a great believer in talismans – visual or physical (or both) representations of what means the most to you.

Things you’re aiming or hoping or striving for; things you want to be reminded of; dreams you’re chasing; anything you want to keep in mind.

three-talismans | carlalouise.com

And I’m also a convert to the power of manifesting – or making what you want happen. The concept has undergone a bit of a transformation, from something totally away with the fairies to something more concrete and tangible, and I believe much more socially acceptable than it was a few years ago. (It’s possible I just hang out with very open, likeminded people, but either way I don’t much care what people think – it works for me!)

I’m the biggest fan of magic going, but actually I’m not convinced manifesting is particularly ethereally magical. I think it’s a more practical magic – if you get clear on what you want and remind yourself of this regularly, then you’re much more likely to notice opportunities to make it happen – opportunities that may otherwise have passed you by.

Gratitude and goals lists are already part of my daily routine – usually the last thing I do at night before I put the lights off and snuggle up with a cat on my head (yes, really – Luna-kitty refuses to sleep on the bed unless she’s on my head, purring loudly into my ear. It’s a surprisingly nice way to fall asleep). These tend to be more immediate – things from the day I’m thankful for, things I hope to achieve in the next few days/weeks/months. I have a list for each year too, though I’ve not yet shared that here.

dream-board-top

So when I saw Leonie’s suggestion in her 2015 Shining Year workbook to create a dream board for the year ahead, I jumped on it – a wonderful combination of talisman and manifesting list!

I covered an old noticeboard in pretty fabric, and found a teacup to store my pins. Then I dug out my scrapbooking stash, some precious objects, my 2015 intentions list and my Pinterest boards and proceeded to create a visual representation of the things that mean most to me and the things I intend, hope for, wish for and plan for in the coming year.

Some highlights:

dream-board-4

dream-board-3

dream-board-2

dream-board-1

At the top is my Hogswatch 2014 medal – as one of the outstanding highlights of 2014, and with the passing of Terry Pratchett while I was away in Texas, Hogswatch 2015 in Wincanton is the one event I will be at by hook or by crook this year.

On the other side is a Night Circus inspired embroidery my gorgeous friend Gabby made for me – to remind me to keep my imagination, my dreams and my eclectic style going and not succumb to normality.

Then there are the other pins – ranging from reminders to inspiring quotes to business goals to personal aspirations, skills I want to acquire and experiences I want to have, things that inspire me and beautiful things I’d love to have in my life (velvet cloak, anyone?).

dream-board-full

I add to it constantly, and tick things off as I achieve them too. It lives in my living room, at the heart of my house – and it’s one of the best ways I’ve ever had of keeping track of multiple intentions.

Big thanks to Leonie – I’m already excited to see how it’ll look by the end of the year!

Do you have a dream board? Would love to see…!

Approaching 29

Seven weeks into 2015, and just a few hours from my 29th birthday.

I’m not one to get overly hung up on ages and dates, but I did get a bit of a shock at Christmas when I showed my cousin my 30 for 30 list, and blithely declared I had 25 months left to do it all in. She swiftly pointed out that a) maths clearly isn’t my strong point and b) I had 13 months left, not 25.

Oops.

That list rapidly became ‘daydreams to do’, because my 29th year is already packed full of wonder – there are some things on that list I know I will do in my life, but I also know I won’t do this year – I don’t want to squish in all the experiences, I want to have time to anticipate and then savour each one.

me-29-1

So what have I learned, in my almost 29 years on the planet? Here’s a list, in no particular order:

Sometimes the things you’re most opposed to can lead to the most glorious moments of your life.

I definitely don’t want children (the cats are quite responsibility enough) – but I’m properly excited for more of my friends to have children, so I can be the cool auntie who brings inappropriate presents and has them over for weekends full of sugar and fun.

Living on my own has been one of the best decisions I ever made. And it isn’t lonely.

Occasionally, you’ll make decisions which will change your whole life and turn it upside down. But mostly, you’ll move towards your dreams step by (sometimes painfully small) step.

We overestimate what we can do in a day, but (massively) underestimate what we can do in a year.

Pets are actually small, furry family members, and just as precious as fellow human beings.

I can tassel twirl. And as part of the Paper Dolls burlesque troupe, I also do it on stage. The shy, gawky, nervous 15-year-old me is staring down the passage of time, awestruck and slightly embarrassed and bloody proud of how I’ve dealt with my body image issues in the last few years.

me-fling-29

I’ve learned we shouldn’t pigeonhole ourselves too early in life – discovering at 19 that I was creative, after a lifetime of being told I was academic and not creative, was the single biggest revelation of my life to date.

If you don’t like your job, get the hell out. Don’t quit without a plan, but start looking – knowing their shit is no longer your problem when you hand in your notice to a place that’s wrong for you is an amazing feeling.

Your first broken heart hurts like hell.

You learn an absolutely ridiculous amount about yourself from relationships and their endings. Seriously, it was like a crash course in How Carla Works, both times – in very different ways.

Never, ever settle for being second best or someone’s backup choice. You are worth SO much more than that.

Try everything that catches your fancy, if it’s possible – I have a room full of craft materials, half of which I’ll probably never touch again, but all of it has brought me joy and new skills at some stage.

Serendipity and coincidence are sweet – and never get old.

Old friends and new friends are just as precious, but in different ways. Don’t abandon the old in favour of the new unless you have good reason to do so. And don’t assume that just because someone is very different to you, that you can’t be friends. Variety and different perspectives are always good!

Don’t feel guilty about things you can’t control or influence. Spend your energy doing what you can, but remember that everyone has their own free will.

Nothing is original, but no one can do what you do like you can. And never second-guess people’s reactions to what you do. Telling people about my alter ego coaching and course has been eye-opening – the reactions have been amazing from even the most unlikely people.

If you make a daft statement like “I love this house so much, I can’t ever imagine crying while I live here” when you move into a new house, you are highly likely to be proved wrong within the week.

Having good friends within walking distance is unbelievably sweet – especially after close to ten years of trekking up and down the M25 on a regular basis. (I’m still working on getting certain people to move up here….!)

It’s ok to stop doing things you don’t want to do – whether that’s a business, a job, a relationship, a house… it’s good to have a plan first, but you don’t have to do anything forever unless you want to.

Life is too short to worry about your weight or what other people think of you. Wear, and do, what makes you the happiest.

Oh – and if you want to dye your hair, go ahead and do it. I waited 9 years to dye mine blue/turquoise – and while I love that it represents me so perfectly right now, I do wish I hadn’t waited so long.

me-29-2

 

Here’s to the very last year of my twenties!

With love and unicorns,

signature

 

Why being interested in ALL THE THINGS is actually a good thing

Discovering, a couple of years ago, that I was a Scanner, was a turning point in my life.

If you’ve never come across the word in this context before, alternative names include Renaissance woman/man/soul, polymath, da Vinci personality, multipassionate, multipotentialite, and some that are less complimentary – dilettante, flake, Jack-of-all-trades, fantasist.

Barbara Sher, who coined the term Scanner, goes into it in much more depth in her books, but the gist is that it’s someone who has many interests, usually moves jobs often, can’t seem to settle on one thing to do and who has ideas all the time, and frequently leaves projects seemingly unfinished.

I’m not normally one for labels, but I’d struggled for years with my many, many interests, and my attention span waxing and waning depending on what I was doing, but also on when I was doing it and what other things were currently on my radar. I had more hobbies than the rest of my group of friends put together, and found it utterly impossible to stay in a job for more than 18 months or so without being bored to tears. By the time I was 24 I had a CV which spanned as many pages as my Dad’s did – he was 66 at the time.

Even the line dancing I adored, I stopped once I’d reached a certain level. I qualified for, competed in and placed in the World Championships in Nashville in 2000, and it has taken me fifteen years to rekindle my love affair with line dancing. I got what I wanted out of it, and then I quit. (Though I’ve worn cowboy (girl?) boots ever since I was nine.)

boots-puddle

Modern Western society expects us all to be specialists, and to choose one thing to do for the rest of our lives. Even at 16 I raised eyebrows by choosing English, French, German and Physics for my A levels. So many people told me that I should have taken another Humanities subject. I’d have taken something arty (photography or textiles or something like that), but I was told at school, repeatedly from childhood, that I was academic and not creative. So I did what I could at the time, while dreading the thought of refining my choices even further.

My tendency to stop completely and move on, once whatever I was doing ceased to be interesting or fun, has been frowned upon over the years too – because in our society, whether at work or at play, quitting is seen as giving up, as being unreliable and therefore as a bad thing. I couldn’t understand why people would continue with all sorts of things, most of which were either supposed to be fun or which took up a considerable chunk of precious life –  work, relationships, hobbies, projects – long after they stopped enjoying them.

stop

Discovering blogs (or weblogs, as they were known in the misty recesses of 2005) was a revelation – here at last was somewhere where I could write about and share the day to day stories of being me, of everything I did – and instead of simply recording it in a diary, I found likeminded people! Other people’s writing, blog comments, forums for incredibly niche hobbies like collecting model horses – for the first time, no one judged me for having a series of bursts of enthusiasm for something, then taking a break and returning to it later.

(A vaguely relevant side note – I found it hilarious when people started extolling the virtues and wonder of internet dating, and meeting people online, a few years ago – because these were the same people that gave me repeated lectures on how stupid I was to go to London to meet new friends I’d met online through my hobbies… whether Wheel of Time fans, model horse collectors or photographers. My first internet meetup was with Chloe in London when I was 19, back in 2006 – and it was apparently far from normal to do that then. She’s now one of my dearest friends. Who knew something held in such suspicion would become so mainstream so fast?!)

Regardless of the type of project, idea or pastime, I followed (follow!) a pattern of sorts – I’d have an idea or something would pique my interest, I’d research it a bit and decide I wanted to learn about it or learn to do it. I’d do some more research, meet some people who already did it, buy some things related to it (craft materials, jewellery tools, small collectable resin horses, typewriters…) and then throw myself into it with an all-consuming passion. Until the next thing caught my attention.

An example – at the time I write, I have just found the new My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series. I ADORED MLP when I was younger, and had avoided the new style ones in case I hated them. Then I saw an episode on YouTube and am now devouring the first and second series on DVD, while scouring shops and the internet for MLP memorabilia to keep on my desk, pin up in my studio, and hang from my handbag.

I’ve driven both my (now ex) partners and my parents, and probably my friends too, up the wall for decades with my wild enthusiasm for a new project which dwindles into inertia just as they’re starting to come round to the idea of me having chosen My Thing, at last.

buttons

So after the best part of a decade of doing this and blogging, and trying to justify my inability to choose or find that One Thing to do with my career and free time that was supposed to keep me interested for the rest of my life, I found one of Barbara Sher’s books in the library.

And I read it, and I cried… because there at last was proof that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t a flake and that I wasn’t broken. I just had a different kind of brain – and there were other people out there like me.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I’ve actively sought out other people who get it, though the majority of people I know still don’t. Which is ok – we’re just wired differently! Lots of the solopreneurs I now count among my dearest friends (the internet is a properly magical thing!) are also scanners, and we’re learning how to make our personalities work with our businesses rather than forcing ourselves into a box.

When I find a new thing, the time I spend engaged with it varies – from a few days to a few years, and I am never without several things on the go. (if I’d had a £1 for every time someone asked me how I fit so much in and follow so many hobbies, I could probably retire tomorrow). And I have a noticeable cycle, though the timing isn’t consistent – generally, if it’s something I discover and like enough to chuck myself into it, I make friends within it and then continue to return to it after intervals, throughout my life.

Examples of these include collecting, painting and showing model horses; my car Poppy and the club I belong to through her; roller skating (started at age 6 and I go through phases of being addicted to it every few years); horse riding; jewellery making; papercraft and scrapbooking; customising shoes and clothes; reworking the interior of my home; sewing; camper vans; cross stitching, baking, wanting to write a book… the list is endless (almost literally).

The only things which are consistent are writing and photography. Which brings me to the heart of this post.

When it became apparent at an absurdly early age that I was going to write, and read, far more than I was going to do anything else consistently (the photography came later), it’s been suggested repeatedly that I should be an author and write books, or a journalist and write articles, or a travel writer, or [insert traditional writing-related-job here].

And they’re all good ideas on the surface. But the trouble is, I don’t want to write whole books (well, I do, but I know myself well enough now to know that completing more than one is highly unlikely – the kick I’ll get when I finish Unfurling is highly likely to be enough for me to move onto something else instead of writing a second book).

I don’t want to dive so deeply into one subject that I don’t have time or energy left over to explore all the other amazing things out there – which, if I pursued a traditional writing career, I would have to do. Even journalists, who write short to medium articles instead of whole books, usually specialise in a broad topic – business, or travel, or cookery, or lifestyle.

And while thinking about my blog, and where it’s headed over the next few years, and how I got into blogging in the first place, it occurred to me that it really is the perfect place for my scanner personality to develop, grow and flourish.

It takes the two things I do naturally and consistently, and applies them to the ever-changing series of things that I do equally naturally, but much less consistently. I can write one-sentence posts, or 2,000 word epics like this one – and I get to choose, rather than an editor.

Since I very first started blogging back in 2006, and in a more structured way since the inception of Ducking Fabulous in 2010, I have used my very own space on the internet to record, write, think out loud and muse about life, learning and all the things that catch my fancy.

moodboard

To explore and investigate my passing enthusiasms, catch ideas I’d like to follow up in the future, and record my journey through learning and practising and discovering. It gives me a self-made library to refer to when I come back to something I’ve done before, and means I have tangible evidence of how I’ve improved, changed, or grown in a particular area.

Through my writing I’ve learned to give myself permission not to finish things, and to hop, if I want to, between interests. I allow myself to stop doing things if they’re not working – a complete antithesis to the previous generation’s work ethic, which tends to be along the power-through-and-keep-going-even-if-it’s-hard-and-it-should-be-worth-it-in-the-end lines.

Credit is also due to the rise of blogging in popularity and as a career choice – I no longer have to explain what a blog is, and it’s the best excuse I’ve ever had for trying out new things – all in the name of fresh content for my lovely readers. Yet this blog, seemingly uniquely for a blog that supports a business, is still very much my little space on the internet. I’m forever reading articles which tell you what you must and mustn’t do in order for your blog to be businesslike, or relevant, or grow your readership… and I stand by my belief that a blog is the equivalent of your home online.

I want people to see me for who I am, and if they resonate with me and like my writing, then some part of my business will probably be a good fit for them. Whether it’s jewellery, tarot decks or courses depends very much on them and what they’re looking for.

I’m trying this year for the first time to schedule my posts and write them in advance, and while it works for some types of post, it’s failing miserably for others. Like these. I need to write them when the inspiration strikes, and then I want them out there so I can have the conversations they spark while the subject is still fresh in my mind.

So what about you? Are you also a scanner, or beginning to realise you could be one? Let me know in the comments (or email me if you’d prefer it not to be public) – I’d love to know.

With love and unicorns,

signature

 

 

Three words for the year ahead

There is a definite trend towards choosing a word for the year, a word to keep in mind through all you do and experience over the following twelve months.

magic-bracelet

2014’s words – how did that go?

Last year I chose Abundance and Balance, and they played out in interesting ways for me. Not as I expected, but the next time something goes to plan will be the first, so that was no real surprise.

I learned that I have far more than I had first assumed, and, led by the abundance mindset, I started to get control of my finances for the first time in my life. Little things, like paying my insurance for my beloved car Poppy in full, from money I’d saved instead of overdraft or borrowing from parents. There’s a way to go before I’m properly sorted on the financial front, but I’m getting there, and it feels brilliant.

Balance was also intriguing – I had intended to have a better balance between all the things I do – my day job, my own businesses, my family and my friends (kitties come under family, in case anyone thinks I’ve forgotten them), as well as fitting in time for self care and doing fun stuff.

But 2014 turned out to be the year I hit burnout in quite a big way, and by November I was unproductive, forgetful, snappy, tearful, struggling to wake up, struggling to sleep and sleepwalking through my days while doing the absolute bare minimum essential to appearing reasonably human. And how did this relate to my declared value of ‘balance’? Well, Naomi summed it up for me – you have to experience life out of balance to realise how important it is, and to put measures in place to maintain it.

Taking what Balance taught me last year, I rested as much as I could over Christmas (could do with another month, but 12 days was pretty good going) am putting up a solid fence around my alone time and breathing space, making sure I have at least one weekend a month free of any commitments at all, and learning to say no. I’ve given up the SW class I was at with my mum in favour of dancing, resting or creative fun on a Tuesday, and I’m allowing myself to have whole afternoons or evenings just talking to people rather than endlessly following my to do lists regardless of how I feel – and 2015 is already happier for it.

So what are this year’s words?

As ever, I couldn’t settle on just one, so I’ve gone for three.

2015 will be my year of Freedom, Magic and Simplicity.

freedom

Freedom – of all kinds. Freedom to choose what I do and when, freedom from the 9-5 arbitrary working times is my ultimate goal, but I’m also aiming for financial freedom, improving my ability to say no to things that won’t enrich my life, and true emotional freedom (I’ve come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years, but there’s always more work to do).

magic-ring

Magic – because if I had to choose one word that I embody, it would be magic. I feel magic, I make magic, I am magic – and with each day that passes I relax into that and stop worrying about what people will think. This year I want to make sure I never forget to appreciate the magic and wonder all around me, and embed my own magic into my signature programme Unfurling Your Wings, and my free e-course Everyday Magic, so I can share it with as many other people as possible.

simplicity

Simplicity – because by goddess I am fed up to the back teeth of my clutter! I love my creative home, but it is truly full to overflowing and I need to simplify down – one girl and two cats do not need more possessions than an average family of five. And the more I clear, the more space I’ll create for more gorgeous stuff/things to enter my life.

I’m also using simplicity in terms of arrangements, plans and thoughts. Trying to take the simplest path through everything, and it should also apply to my work, or at least my day job work – the past of least resistance and most efficiency is often the simplest. And just applying it to the 40-odd hours a week I spend at my day job would improve my life enormously.

They’re in the front of my daybook and on the bracelet and ring I made for these photos so will be with me every day of 2015. I wonder what the next year will bring…

PS I’m planning to add custom stamped jewellery to my shop – let me know if there’s a particular word or phrase you’d like!

Why living on your own isn’t lonely

If you live (or have ever lived) by yourself, chances are you’ll have heard the following at least once.

“But don’t you get lonely?”

“I couldn’t live on my own, I’d get so bored”

“What about the creaks and strange noises? You can’t automatically dismiss them as the other person in the house – I’d find it creepy”

“But you must miss having people around you”

“How antisocial!” (usually followed by a fake laugh)

With the very occasional

“I wish I could decorate my house however I wanted”.

book-tea-bed

 

Since I’ve lived by myself, in my little house in my riverside village, I have come to recognise that you can more or less split people into two camps: those for whom living alone is a Wonderful Thing, something to aspire to, luxuriate in and enjoy; and those for whom it is The Worst Thing That Could Possibly Happen.

The two camps do not understand the other’s point of view, though in my experience, the older the people, the more they are likely to live and let live, and not evangelise their preferred way of living.

I think it is partly linked to introversion and extroversion preferences, though I won’t go into that in any more detail here – there are umpteen books and courses and blog posts on the subject written by people far more knowledgeable than me on those traits.

I want to share my own experience of living by myself, and how it happened, and why I love it, and I don’t think lonely really comes into it.

Back in 2008, when I finished university, I was at a bit of a loose end. I’d never particularly planned to live anywhere other than with the boyfriend, but as our seven-year relationship dissolved at the end of 2007, clearly that wasn’t going to happen.

To complicate matters, my parents had moved from my hometown up to the north of Essex, where my family were. So I packed my life into a storage unit and trundled to my new home, finding solace in my extended family’s horses and hens and dogs, and space to mend my broken heart in the North Essex countryside and woodland.

(more…)

Guilty confessions of a former librarian #1: befriending characters in books

With the very best of books, the ones that are dog-eared from re-reading, and which stay with you long, long after you’ve reached the last page, I often find myself referring to those characters as my friends. Not directly; but in a “a friend of mine said that…” or “I know someone who…” in conversation.

And often it’s days afterwards, if ever, that I remember that it wasn’t a friend at all but a much loved character in a book. It’s no secret that I’m an avid reader, and also no secret that I tend not to read great literary tomes, but instead fresh, light books that allow my imagination to run riot. large_3986164316

photo credit: Vivi Calderón via photopin cc

The hook that will pull me into a book is not its subject matter (though if it has a heroine with her own biz, that’s a good starting point) but whether or not I care about its characters.

I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise – my alter ego is named after the character I loved most in Enid Blyton’s Mr Galliano’s Circus, and I am fascinated by cosplay – but it amazes me how much people laugh when I explain that sometimes what I’ve said came not from a friend but from a fictional character.

They laugh fondly, and they say it’s one of my many quirks that makes me an original… but to date I have only ever found one other person who absorbs the characters as I do and sees them as more than words on a page. She happens to be one of my best friends.

There must be some more of us out there who care so deeply about the people they’re reading about that they can’t sleep for wondering what happens next… or find themselves distracted during the day at work because of an unresolved argument between two characters… or who feel bereft at the end of a book when there is no sequel and you have to bid goodbye to your new friends?

Is this a unique quirk, or one I share with lots of people? I embrace it either way but I’d love to know!

Shooting with film

One of my great loves in life is my Zenit E camera.

me-zenit

A fully manual Russian camera from the 1950s, I picked it up for a song (almost literally – I think it and all its accompanying lenses and paraphernalia set me back the grand total of £10) at a car boot sale about six or seven years ago.

I haven’t taken it out for a spin for far too long, as film is expensive and I always seem to be shooting for quick results instead of experimenting these days. But I did find these few photos scanned in from the last roll of film I put through her. They have a quality I’ve never yet been able to replicate in Photoshop.

horseshoe

house

trees

Finding these has made me want to plan a trip to the seaside with my film and digital cameras side by side. The Zenit taught me more about light and camera settings than any course could, because you take time and you think more when you’re working with film. You can’t look at the results instantly and processing film is bloody expensive these days, so you find yourself instinctively taking more time over each shot. I love it – there’s nothing quite like it.

Do you shoot film?

 

 

Don’t get lost in the big picture

What I’ve learned this week: remember the little details as well as the bigger plan, and don’t lose sight of your why.

I recently had something approaching a meltdown about my working life. When I started this job, it was a two year contract, which would have ended in November this year.

Though it was changed to a permanent contract shortly before I started, I don’t think I’ve ever lost the impression that it was fleeting, temporary, short lived. I’d used it as a springboard and a deadline – that by the end of 2014, I’d be fully, gainfully and profitably self employed.

entrepreneurship 100 hours quote

background photo credit: j-dub1980 via photopin cc

Yeah. It’s June, and while The Website Beautician and Ink Drops are thriving, realistically that’s not a goal I’m going to reach in five months. Not least because, inspired by some awesome friends of mine, I have closed my books for TWB until September to rethink and plan and rework my ideas and my goals and my dreams.

You see, though I love making websites, I’m not sure I want to carry on making them for clients. Or at least, I think I’d like to change the way in which I create websites for other people.

And in admitting that, and making the decision to give myself a couple of months to finish current projects and then *breathe*, it feels like a weight has lifted.

I’d got so bogged down in the *must quit by December” deadline (which was entirely in my head), and the how of such a massive task, that I’d forgotten why I wanted to be self employed in the first place, and indeed, why I left London and took this job.

There is a post in my archives (originally posted on Ducking Fabulous) about what I was looking forward to after quitting the City and I think that says it all.

Time and freedom and ease. Freedom to create, freedom from worry about finances, time to spend with loved ones and with my camera and in my studio. Ease in what I wear, what I do, how I live. Space to make healthy choices, to indulge, to enjoy every moment of my life, no matter what I’m doing – and space and time and freedom to grow my businesses with ease, free from the pressures of having to make a living wage from them from day one.

I cannot create from a place of desperation – worrying about money is one of the things that saps my imagination, ability and desire to create faster than anything else. With the run of bad news relating to people I love recently, perspective has shot through my life in a blaze of colour – giving me clarity, and sanity, and a renewed vision of my WHY.

rainbow

photo credit: Ava-forever catching up.. via photopin cc

And so I have pulled my head and shoulders out of that dark, panicky, suffocating tunnel of a deadline. I saw the doctor on Wednesday and am going for blood tests which will hopefully help pull the rest of my body out of that tunnel as well.

I have made my peace with my day job, which I actually rather like, but was beginning to resent with all the other commitments that have been necessary in recent weeks. I have started an art journal, begun to blog regularly again, and picked up my camera to create rather than to capture snapshots for the first time in months, if not years.

Though I miss lots of my lovely friends, for now I am saying no to social things so I can get my head together, and hopefully by late summer will be in a better place emotionally and financially so I can catch up with them all again.

I feel better already for just making the decisions – and it means I can get on with creating for my amazing existing clients without worrying about how to fit in future ones for now.

And already an opportunity to collaborate and create custom themes has presented itself, and I’ve bumped into an old acquaintance who I suspect is going to be a really good friend. Cheers, Universe – you do know what you’re doing really, don’t you?

It’s a good place to be, if not what I expected or planned for. But the best things are often unexpected. I’m excited to see what the next few months brings!

Have you had a massive rethink of your plans (entrepreneurial or otherwise)? How did you manage it? I’d love to hear your stories!

When serendipity strikes

Serendipity and excitement are the two main themes of my life at the moment.

There are so many lovely things going on, and so many possibilities and emotions and so much potential whizzing around in the air, that I am excited fit to burst, and finding it incredibly hard not to dance through the corridors of the day job with joy, on the very tips of my toes.

tap-shoes

New friends have come into my life in the most unexpected of ways in the past few months . One through answering an ad for some cosmetics I was selling, with whom I’m now starting a craft club. Several through being sociable at work. A few of us are starting dance classes, sparked by going to the university’s dance show. Some through my ever-dependable online networks of escape artists and free rangers and lifestyle engineers. 

I’ve been working with Amanda Aitken, in her new Girl’s Guide courses, and from just the first week I’ve had some lightbulb moments. I’m excited about these new ideas in a way I’ve not felt about business projects for a long time… possibly ever.

Two weeks and lots of experiments after I had my hair dyed blue, I’ve found the perfect electric blue colour for it (Directions Atlantic Blue, if you’re curious).

And new opportunities pop up at every corner – from tap dancing to faery festivals, there has been a spectacular explosion of things into my life, and I want to take advantage of every single one.

I’ve always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason… but lately I’ve also become a firm believer in the universe providing what you are open to. Like begets like, and all that – so if you expect goodness, abundance, new friendships, likeminded people and opportunities you could never have dreamed of before… then all those things will happen in the fullness of time. Pure magic in action.

I’ve been working on creating a magical, colourful life for some time. It’s been happening, but oh so slowly. Then in the past few months, it’s accelerated. And because I’ve been so focused on the life I want, feeling it start to really take shape truly feels like coming home.

There’s a way to go before I’m living my dream fully (with added unicorns!)- but now my baby steps feel less faltering, and more twirling and joyful and natural. And so I am off to run down the corridors, to spin in the sunshine and dance in the moonlight.

Dates with myself (try it, it might just change your life)

Way back when I was still working in London, I wrote about my spontaneous booking of tickets to see the English National Ballet and Flawless at the Hammersmith Apollo.

date1

There wasn’t anyone immediately available who I particularly wanted to join me, so I took myself. It was a Friday night, and my colleagues thought I was crazy and a little tragic. I may even have thought that myself for about five minutes after I left the office.

And then I realised, it wasn’t tragic, it was wonderful. The feeling of independence of doing something typically associated with group or couple outings by myself was incredible. It’s also very freeing not to have any expectations around an event or place – you don’t have to comment on it, or work around anyone else’s plans or needs – you can simply be, and absorb, and enjoy (and eat cake).

date2

And so I’ve carried on having dates with myself when I feel the need to recharge my creative and emotional batteries.

I’ve been to gardens, museums, galleries, parks, coffee shops, restaurants, talks, all sorts. Often I’ll discover it for the first time with someone, and return on my own to appreciate it properly.

It doesn’t have to be a day out, either. Sometimes I’ll go and visit a particular shop I love, or I’ll spend an afternoon scrapbooking, delving into memories.

I might go horse riding, skating or simply sit with a slice of something sweet and watch the world go by.

It’s not always educational and it’s not always obviously connected with anything – but I always, always feel refreshed, motivated and more me when I return. Whether it’s a whole weekend or just half an hour, it helps.

date3

I found Julia Cameron’s “Artist Date” concept via Leonie Dawson this morning, which seems to describe my dates with myself fairly accurately, and as this post was already brewing I thought it was a good sign that I should get on and write it already.

So who’s with me? Julia suggests weekly – I don’t have a schedule, but find I’m drawn to doing things alone whenever I need to recharge, which could be at any interval from a couple of days to a few months.

Whether you’re single or partnered up, a parent or child-free, see if you can find time this week to try it. There are some great suggestions at The Artist’s Way but feel free to choose anything at all to do – something you are drawn to.

The only rule is that you do it solo.

And then let me know how you got on!

This post first appeared on Ducking Fabulous

What do you want to be able to say about yourself in a year?

I spent some of my lunch hour today listening to this video interview.   As I’ve also been reading The Creative Habit and the Happiness Project, it’s all clunking into place rather nicely.

The video sparked me into thinking – what do I want to be able to say about myself a year from now? What do I want my daily life to look like, what do I want my habits and routines to be, what kind of a person do I want to have become in that time?

every-day-matters

To become a pro at anything is as much about mindset change and daily routines as anything else, and the gist of the interview is that in order to do this, you need to change your existing and new habits from amateur ones into professional ones. Keep going through adversity and crap. Don’t let life get in the way of your goals.

Twyla Tharp advocates morning rituals to get you going for the day, among other things, and as I find mornings the hardest part of the day, I’ve been pondering what I could do to make them better, more joyful and to set me up better for the day.

Now I find my thoughts going further than just the morning. Without taking on so many commitments that I get overwhelmed and give up, what can I commit to changing? Writing every day? A photograph every day? Getting up by a certain time so I can accomplish these things and better self-care (like actually eating breakfast)?

It’s certainly made me consider what I do every day in a new light. I shall continue to ponder and blog my specific changes when they’re a little clearer in my mind. Right now they’re a confused blur of DO ALL THE THINGS BUT BETTER…

What do you want to be able to say about yourself in a year’s time?

Further reading:
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

Image credit – Ducking Fabulous / Letters from my Twenties