Best Valentine’s gift ever – you can now buy my book!

So the people at Amazon have decided that my ebook is ready to roll and it’s available for sale now! Wow!

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How to make a difficult decision (Update on VSO)

This evening I got a call I didn’t expect to get for at least another month.

The placement rep at VSO called to discuss my options. He explained that there were two placements I was suitable for, one in May and one in June. He thought it would be better to go for the one in June in order to give me more time to prepare. I asked how long did I have to make a decision. ‘By tomorrow’ he said. ‘By the end of the day?’ I asked. ‘No, by tomorrow morning, 11am the latest’. Okay then. I asked for the details of the placements to be able to make an informed decision.

The placement in June is in Kenya. A country that I have visited and loved. I have friends there. I have briefly volunteered there. I know a bit of the culture and have a smattering of Swahili (wapi cho means ‘where is the toilet’). Kenya is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited.

But.

The placement in May is in Cambodia, a country I have never visited and if I am honest, I did not expect to be given as a placement as there is a higher ratio of placements in Africa. If I had been told that I was going to Cambodia, I suspect I would have been surprised but excited. Being given a choice of placement; and a very short time frame to make the decision made me nervous but I said ‘send me to Cambodia, I have visited Kenya before’. He said he would send me some information for me to make my informed decision. Then I started fretting.

I looked online at the VSO Banan community in Cambodia but couldn’t get Kenya out of my head. I am going through a stressful time at the moment, trying to move house and self publish my book both within the next 7 days. Let that sink in.

Now is not necessarily a good time to be making big decisions, but it had to be done.

I went home and sat down with pen and paper. I used a coaching exercise called ‘PIN’. You ask yourself what is positive, interesting and negative about your choice. I did this for Kenya and Cambodia. I had a lot more positives for going to Kenya. But, I really pushed myself, teasing out all of the positive, interesting and negative elements of each choice. A big negative for me was that I don’t know anything about Cambodia. I had to go back to basics and write out all of the reasons why I wanted to do VSO in the first place. There were 9 reasons, including adding to my CV; gaining International development experience etc etc. But a third of the reasons for me wanting to do VSO was to challenge myself; to not play small and to push my comfort zone. I have also finished a personal development course which encouraged me to do things where I felt wonder about myself and my achievements- hence the self publishing a book.

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It’s going to be me holding some fruit or a small child in Cambodia in 3 short months

As I went through all my reasons, I realised that I would achieve several of them in either country. However, in terms of challenging myself; feeling wonder at my achievement and not playing small, Cambodia was the answer. I had to wrangle with myself some more. Why do this, you may ask? Why not take the option that is more familiar? If I am honest, part of me doesn’t know, except part of me wants to do what’s best for me. I know that because I am hugely scared of the unknown, in this case Cambodia, that the pay off will be greater. This is not an easy decision to make, and I am gritting my teeth even as I write this. But in terms of proving to myself that I am brave; building on my volunteering in a new continent ( I have volunteered several time in Africa before) and it being a good financial time to go, Cambodia is it.

So May 2018 will see me embarking on a new adventure. I am scared but I am always a bit scared. I comfort myself by saying it will only be 4 months and who knows, I may grow to love Cambodia as much as I love Kenya. If I don’t, well at least I know.

Thanks for reading and comment below!

 

Acknowledging who you are…

We can often be in denial about who we really are, what we want and what we are willing to do. On my creative journey I have found it uncomfortable to write that I am a writer or a poet, despite me having filled diaries, notebooks, the backs of envelopes and my phone with observations on life; short stories; and poems.

I write when I need to. Not consistently but when I am moved. When I want to vent an emotion. So I don’t see myself as poet or a writer. Yet despite me performing on a more regular basis than ever before; despite me having wrote a whole play and performed part of it and despite my newest project of self publishing a book of my poems.

Sometimes, outside confirmation is what we need.

Today I accepted my first paid poetry gig.

Pretty amazing huh. Mad for me considering I only started performing late this year. From that performance, the theatre programmer thought I’d be ideal to do some poetry/ spoken word or story telling on International Women’s Day. I would have performed free of charge at this event but being paid for it will be pretty nice.

So from today I am going to try more concertedly to believe in myself as an artist. As a poet. To not be in denial about who I am.

And as part of this acknowledgement of myself and this achievement, here is my brand new SoundCloud page (that I ironically created this morning), where I will be posting my work.

I hope you enjoy it!

 

New 30 day challenge- Self publishing my poetry

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On the 27th of November 2017 I received a tantalising email in my inbox. Seductively entitled ‘How to change your life in 30 days’, I eagerly clicked through and read this article https://medium.com/personal-growth/this-30-day-challenge-will-transform-your-identity-and-explode-your-success-813a76427652

The article explored how we can change our lives by recognising that we plateau due to, or during achieving our goals. This process can include trying to achieve our goals if we have not yet achieved it  and being ‘approach orientated’ and willing to take risks. Or if we are seeking to maintain what we have achieved that we become ‘avoid orientated’.

All interesting stuff, but what really hooked me was the idea of doing a 30 day challenge which forced me to challenge my fears by choosing a new behaviour to achieve something that I have not. My instant thought was ‘ having a boyfriend, but surely this challenge can’t help with that’. WRONG. As I scrolled down through the page, this line jumped out at me ‘It could be facing an extreme fear: like 30 days of asking people on dates.’ Oh shit.

This idea totally freaked me out but part of me wanted to do it. Face all my fears, go on dates and hopefully meet The One.  After all, doing this challenge would definitely be ‘something that would clearly lead you to a place you’d like to be’.

However, the universe had other plans.

I am currently taking part in a coaching programme called ‘Claim your Power’. After thinking about doing a 30 day dating challenge, I did a meditation as part of the programme. This brought up a lot of emotions and reminded me that part of doing this programme involved a cleanse which also had a ban on sex/dating in order to focus on yourself. Also as part of this course I have learnt that my life purpose is ‘to be full of wonder about my myself and my higher power and feel acknowledgement and connection that results from this, while inspiring others to do the same’. 

So I got to thinking, what could I do to feel that sense of wonder about myself AND commit to a 30 day challenge?

The answer: self publish a book of my poetry.

I have recently joined Instagram and follow lots of published poets, some of whom sell bits of their poetry typed up. Fair play to them. But this is not about competing with them. Its about me and what I can achieve. So I did some research and read the excellent article https://jamesaltucher.com/2013/07/how-to-self-publish-bestseller/.  I then got to planning.

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Above is the list of tasks that I need to do and the first thing that came to mind and that genuinely excited me was to contact an artist for the book cover. So I contacted the talented Tom Berry ( http://tomberryart.co.uk/) whose intricate and whimsical art I love, and he has agreed to do the cover illustration. However, the whole book cover needs to be designed so I contacted my old friend and very talented artistic friend Georgina ( https://www.instagram.com/muse_me_art/) and she has agreed to do the book cover design. All very exciting!

I started digging through my old writings to see if there was anything that I would like to include; typed up poems languishing in old notebooks and still am doing so; approached people for advice about editing the collecting and got a huge amount of practical advice from the accomplished musician Fran Wyburn (http://www.franwyburn.com/). Her advice will help with both my marketing strategy and potentially recording an audio book.

Is this all plain sailing? Quite frankly, not always.

As the article about the challenge identified:

Will you have to deal with some negative emotions along the way?

Will you face a load of resistance and fear?

Will you want to quit?

The answer is probably yes to all of those questions.

But THIS is how you separate yourself from the masses.

I freaked about whether my poems were good enough to publish. I freaked out a bit more when more than one person identified that I would need to perform more poetry to people. My fears about not being good enough basically surfaced. I am aware I will need to put myself out there in poetry circles a bit more. In time I will do this. In the meanwhile, I am focusing on doing something everyday until the 28th Dec 2017 to achieve my new goal.

I want to share this journey with you in the hopes that you will be inspired to do something too; that you will encourage me on the way and so that I can connect with you.

Thank you for reading so far!