Help me Celebrate my Birthday

Help Me Celebrate my Birthday !!!!
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Friday, 27 January 2012

A Quote

I have been really ill this week, therefore I haven't managed to write anything of sense or good value.  So for today I thought I'd leave you with a quote to ponder as you go throughout your day/week/month/year.  Hope you have a good weekend.

"Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives." ~ William James

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

How Creative Habits Make Sure I Get Something Done Everyday

I have been kind of having a bad week.  Mostly it’s to do with not sleeping particularly well, but there have also been stumbles (leading to blind panic) in my journey.  Today I woke up feeling extra groggy.  Truthfully I didn’t want to write a blog post and do the work that I know needs doing for my business.  Granted, I still haven’t done any work, but that’s more that I’ve only been up a half hour, than simply because I haven’t done it.  What I have done is write at 750 words (and now I’m writing this).

750 words came from the idea of writing morning pages – the point being to clear your mind of clutter before you get started on your day.  I used to write my pages at random points throughout the day, whenever I felt like it.  Then I stopped writing them at all for a few months.  About a week ago I decided to start writing them again and to actually write them first thing (after I’ve eaten my breakfast but before I’ve done anything else).  So far it’s been going well, but it was today that I saw the benefits.

Like I said, I was groggy this morning, I didn’t want to turn on my laptop and start typing; but I did.  Writing those 750 words each morning is becoming a habit for me, and a positive one at that.  I sat myself down and started typing because that’s what I do each morning now – I didn’t think about it much.  Sure, I didn’t want to do it but I didn’t actually even try and think of something else to do instead.  And now I have written it, which has led to writing this post (a part of this habit I’m forming is do some blog or essay writing immediately after).  And for the first time it doesn’t feel like a struggle to get myself to do it, because it’s just what I do in the morning.  Turning writing into a morning habit is guaranteeing that I’ll get it done.  And now that I see it’s working, I’m going to see what else I can create into a habit that will help me with getting on with my work.

Have you made your creative work part of a habit you have?  If not, then is there anything that you would like to turn into a habit?  Let us know in the comments.

If this post has inspired you to start forming some creative habits of your own, I strongly suggest you go and read Dan Goodwin’s post on Creating Your Beautiful Creative Life for advice on how to get started and the benefits.

Monday, 23 January 2012

You Are Just As Strong As Me

“Strong is fighting.  It’s hard and it’s painful; and it’s every day." – Buffy Summers (Amends, Season 3)

I was watching Buffy yesterday and this quote jumped out at me to remind me that no matter how weak I’ve felt previously, each day is a new chance to be strong again. 

I always see comments about how brave and strong people with chronic disability are.  I’m not refuting the fact that these comments are well-deserved; but I have to admit that it can make me feel a little uncomfortable.  This is partly because everyone has to be brave and strong to get through life (not just those dealing with disability) and partly because I often feel like a failure in comparison.

The thing is, I’m not strong.  At least, I’m not strong every day.  Sure, the majority of my days are spent fighting my M.E. and I guess that could be seen as strength (to me, it’s more a survival kind of deal).  But I have quite a few days where the last thing I feel is strong.  I feel like giving up; I feel pointless; I feel weak.

I ‘m not writing this to garner a lot of ‘but you are strong’ responses – I’m beginning to realise that for myself.  I am writing this to let you know that it is okay to not feel strong every day.  As far as I’m aware, it’s part of being human (and if not, then almost everything I’ve ever read is a bad portrayal of humanity).  Just because you have moments, perhaps long periods, when you feel like giving up, doesn’t mean you can’t be strong again.  I am relatively sure that you will start fighting again (again, it’s part of being human), and when you do, don’t let the fact that you felt weak stop you.

Just remember that not being strong every day doesn’t actually make you a failure (after all, failing is just not having tried) and you are, in fact, stronger than you could ever give yourself credit for.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

How A Quote Changed My Life

“Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

As you’ve probably noticed, I have been feeling a lot more positive (and a lot less depressed) over the past few months.  Part of this change was allowing myself to feel down for a while, but a large part of it is due to that quote above.  I found it in the sample I downloaded from Jenny Blake’s book ‘Life After College’ (which I’m definitely going to be buying soon) and I can honestly say that it has changed my life.

This may sound dramatic but I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating in any way.  Reading that quote gave me the permission I didn’t know I was seeking, to pull myself out of the slump.  The thing with my depression (I can’t speak for anyone else’s) is that I end up in a downward spiral that I can’t find a way out of.  It starts with having a bad day – I don’t feel up to doing anything so I let myself do nothing.  I don’t think this is a bad thing, it’s what happens the next day that causes the problems.

So the next day I might be feeling okay, but I look back over the previous day and see how much time I wasted and how much I didn’t do, so I start feeling guilty.  That guilt usually leads me to feeling very down and so, once again, I don’t do anything.  As the days go on, this repeats itself but every day has extra guilt laid upon it and so down the spiral I go, until I can’t even see hope of getting out.

Just to be clear, guilt of not doing anything isn’t the only emotion that causes my depression, but I would say that it is a large part of it.

Anyway, when I read that quote, the first thing I did was grab a large post-it note, write it down, and stick it on the wall by my ‘desk’ (which is actually just a table where I use my laptop).  I had allowed myself to get caught up in the past, and so had stopped myself from moving forward.  The moment I read the words ‘Finish each day and be done with it’ a great weight was pulled off me and I started remembering how to start each day afresh; with hope and motivation leading me forward instead of guilt and despair pulling me downwards (backwards just doesn’t feel right here as we’re talking about time). 

The quote reminded me that feeling guilty about not doing anything wasn’t going to make the past change, only make the present worse.  And so I started believing in myself again.  I still have bad days of course, and sometimes I let them take over, but when I read those words I know I won’t let one bad day ruin my life.

Has anything like a quote changed your life?  Please share in the comments.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Vote For Me To Win a Scholarship for the Girl's Guide to Web Design Course

You all know that I have been thinking and talking about getting my own website for a while.  Clearly I haven’t made the leap yet.  This post is my entry to the Girl’s Guide to Web Design Scholarship course which, if I win, will enable me to create my dream site so I need you all to go and votefor me (the rest of the post is telling you why).

As you know, I am a writer.  But I want to be more than just a writer.  I want to be known as a blogger and as a creative entrepreneur.  This is why I want my own website – I want to have a home for myself online, where all aspects of who I am and what I do can be found under one roof so to speak.  I’m imagining a website that lets you know this is Tamara Epps’ space.  I want something clear and easy to navigate, yet sparkly and unique; with space for my blog, my shop, my subscription service and ebooks, as well as any future ideas I roll out.

As I’m just getting started I don’t have any money to spend on getting professional help, and I’m not sure I am ready to let my ideas come to life through someone else.  I have always been stubborn and independent which is why I love that this course teaches the students how to do it by themselves.  I also know that my vision will probably change over time as I add new aspects and ideas to the site and I don’t want to have to rely on someone else to make that a possibility every time – I want my viewers to be the first to know about it.

I am applying for the Jetsetter Edition as this will allow me to move at my own pace, meaning I will be able to work around the limited energy I have due to my M.E.  I love that they offer the course like this (as well as an 8-week course) as, for people like me, having to follow someone else’s structure can be a real strain on health – and often ends with having to drop-out or give up half way through.  You all know that I am not a quitter, which means I tend to power through and end up putting myself back (I’m doing my best to work on this).

The competition requires that I tell you one secret fact about me.  This is harder than it sounds as I always strive to share my secrets with you.  So I’ll just tell you that, while I may actually be quite an organised person, I am not a tidy person.  Ever wonder why I never showed you pics of our new place?  It’s because I haven’t finished unpacking (I have a lot of stuff) and what is unpacked is strewn across the place.

Monday, 16 January 2012

An Experiment with Structuring

I have decided that if I am going to get anywhere with all my wonderful plans and ideas (especially as I seem to have opened the floodgates and now they are all pouring in), that I need to add a little structure to my days.  So far I have been getting on with a very (very) loose structure that larger revolves around the fact that I have to wait for my laptop to charge between the times I use it.  While I’d like to think that I have the self-discipline for this to work, it clearly hasn’t been; and, quite frankly, I don’t like feeling like a failure at the end of every day because I haven’t achieved as much as I’d set out to do (which is often only one or two things) due to the fact that I get distracted with other stuff I can do.

So I’m putting my foot down (metaphorically) and taking control of my days (literally).  Remember those timetables you used to use at high school, with all the lessons marked clearly in their timetabled boxes?  Well, I’m going to replicate that idea and make my very own timetable for each day.  I am hoping to still keep a little spontaneity and quite a bit of flexibility in it, but I think that the general meandering between activities that I have been doing just isn’t going to cut it if I actually want to make some money this year.

Do you have a structure to your day or do you just do whatever you feel like?  Let me know in the comments what works for you and if you would like to see my timetable later this week.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Review: Water for Elephants

Click to buy
Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out - orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive 'ship of fools'. It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act - in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.
(Blurb from Goodreads)

I have to admit that when I received this book for Christmas from a Secret Santa, I was a little disappointed.  The cover was a huge turn-off for me as it’s packaged as a romance (I tend to stick to chick-lit when indulging in romance) so I was complete caught off guard by the amazing story that unfolded as I turned the pages.

While there is a romantic plot of sorts, that is not what I will take away from reading this story.  I will remember the details (at times repugnant) and the outlandishness of it all.  And most of all, I will remember the way I was sucked into the often brutal world of train circuses, something that wasn’t even on my radar until this book landed in my lap.  This book reminded me of the power of words, of stories.  And at the heart of it, I was reminded of humanity in so many forms.

I honestly can’t think of anyone who shouldn’t read this book.  I know my world-view will be forever changed from this experience, so I hope you consider adding it to your to-read list (or, even better, buying it or renting it and reading it next).

I realise that I haven’t given you much to go on with this review, but it has truly left me speechless (something that very rarely happens).  To say more would negate from the experience waiting within the pages – an adventure that at times will make you avert your eyes (to no use as the image is printed into your imagination), and at others will keep you up to find out what could possibly happen next (yes, that did happen to me last night, so I am considerably more tired today than perhaps I should have been).  So go, read.  And feel free to share any world-changing books that you think I should read, in the comments.