Category Archives: Lifestyle

A Year Of Creative Growth

The Incident

“Let all your efforts be directed to something, let it keep that end in view. It’s not activity that disturbs people, but false conceptions of things that drive them mad.” -Seneca

It’s April 4th, 2020. It’s 10am, a Saturday, and we’ve been on lockdown for what seems like an eternity. In reality, it’s been only two weeks since my last social activity, which in the typical fashion these days was a Friday night piss-up.

I hadn’t seen the kids in what seemed like longer, though it was in fact a few days shorter than the aforementioned escapade. I’m used to a Sunday evening to Wednesday morning one week, and a Friday evening to Wednesday morning the next. To go a near two week stretch was unbearably foreign—like sucked through a black hole to a different universe, lost radio connection, never getting home again, kind of foreign.

Add into the mix a removal of my typical ‘kids-free’ activities, and I was lost. Where the days would be spent working, trawling from customer to customer with a brief chat before moving on, I was at home without routine. Where my lunchtime, or afternoon time, or breakfast time fast-food trip would see me sit in the car park and people watch for a while as I tucked into whatever the drive-through coughed up, all my spots were closed down.

Where the evenings rolled around and I’d typically be showering and dressing to go for a meal, drink, or whatever else with my friends, my phone remained stagnant and silent. There’ll be no more pub-grub and pints for a while, that was abundantly clear.

So here I was and here I stayed for a few days. Ripped from routine in a void of responsibility, without potential for social activity—or any out-of-the-home activity for that matter. Lost.

The Search For ‘Something’

“Above all, it is necessary for a person to have a true self-estimate, for we commonly think we can do more than we really can.” -Seneca

I knew this couldn’t carry on, it wasn’t me. I had things to do. Things I LOVED to do. Things I hadn’t had time to do for a long time, and yet here I was, with nothing but time! Read, write, walk, meditate, stretch, workout, reflect. Get my blog back in order and steer it in a direction I’m happy with. Work on the courses I’ve got planned out ready to write. Finish that short story I started late last year. Put out social media posts to help others get the best out of their lockdown time and come out stronger. Oh, and while I’m at it, I can get that lifestyle coaching business up and running!

And just like that… BANG! I have too much to do.

And isn’t that just typical of me.

So far in the purgatory between the March 20th announcement and this warm Saturday morning, I’d managed to keep up a habit of dragging my heels 4km per day, lifting weights from a haphazardly created regime (with no particular goal in mind), and occasionally reading some Stoic philosophy.

A grand accumulation of around three-and-a-half hours per day, with the remaining twenty-one spent twiddling my thumbs. Lots of thinking. Lots of planning. Lots of directionless activity.

Put short, lots of nothing.

In my defence, I did spend 2 minutes once pulling up a list of 300 blog prompts that would have little-to-no purpose on my blog… I spent a further 10 scrolling through them. I was going to use them—I’d get around to it, eventually. One blog post per day for a year! Easy…

The Realisation

“I was shipwrecked before I even boarded … the journey showed me this—how much of what we have is unnecessary, and how easily we can decide to rid ourselves of these things whenever it’s necessary, never suffering the loss.” – Seneca

Hold up, stop. Who am I? What do I want? What am I even doing right now? This isn’t me.

I’m not the guy that purposelessly floats through life, spouting advice while waiting for the next excuse to not take it myself. I’m not that guy that dives into every fleeting thought wildly and without direction. I’m not. Where have I gone? When did I lose me? Was it during this lockdown or even this year? Or some time further back, hidden behind hardly-remembered nights and hangovers?

When exactly did I become the person that talks about what I’m going to do, without taking action? Scratch that, who even cares? Here I am, so what am I going to do about it?

The realisation came almost as fast as this forsaken Covid-19, washing over me in waves, unraveling the muddled ideas with each crash. Here I stood alone on the shore, long after others had left for home. Firm, focused, staring out over the horizon. Each gentle swash erasing away the barefooted imprints in the sand, until all that remained were the impressions beneath my feet, and the potential to stomp forward in any direction I choose.

I wasn’t blocked by the obstacle, I was the obstacle, and anything else in the way could be turned to my advantage. This lockdown wasn’t going to wreck me, it was going to rebuild me.

I refuse to be the person that falls apart when faced with nothing but myself. I choose to direct my own life, without the need for work, bosses, parents, schools, or external structures to hold me together. I am the structure, the individual, and the guide.

Right then. It’s time to build some foundations!

Sowing The Seeds of Growth

“What if someone despises me? Let them see to it. But I will see to it that I won’t be found doing or saying anything contemptible. What if someone hates me? Let them see to that. But I will see to it that I’m kind and good-natured to all, and prepared to show even the hater where they went wrong. Not in a critical way, or to show off my patience, but genuinely and usefully.” -Marcus Aurelius

So here’s the thing, I’m not a one-trick pony. I never have been and I never will be. My interests span from pencil sketching to philosophy, from writing fiction and reading books to psychology and religion, and back again. But how to channel all of that into some sort of feasible direction?

Of course it had to start with what I already had here on the site, and that has led me to a weekend of categorising, subcategorising, editing and re-editing what I had already created. I had a mind to throw it all out and start again, but what a waste that would’ve been. I like the idea that all the previous content here, be it hastily churned out flash fiction or a post on how to start a blog, has it’s place, and will act as a foundation upon which to build, brick by brick, a better version of myself, and by extension, this site.

I’ve chopped my passions and interests into large, chunky titles, that will help to offer a spot for everything I could possibly feel like writing as and when I feel like writing it. These categories and subcategories will grow, as posts in each of them stack up and a natural evolution occurs.

For now, I’ve narrowed it down to Fiction, Book Reviews, Lifestyle, and Musings. They all pretty much speak for themselves, barring perhaps ‘Musings,’ which kind of stands for my personal blog posts at this moment in time.

Fiction can accommodate all sorts from flash fiction to short stories in various genres, until enough stack up in one glaring category to warrant a grouping of the posts. Book Reviews are much the same, and allows me to nurture my passion for reading with a creative outlet in the form of gushing over the pages.

I expect Lifestyle to grow and expand the most, not only in various subcategories, but across broader top-level categories as time goes on. Things like Mindfulness, Psychology, Philosophy, and so on. I simply love writing about these topics, and have all kinds of intentions to keep an active mindfulness journal, take nice photos of things out in the world, and experience many more adventures along the way!

From Sapling to… Great Oak?

Think of the life you have lived until now as over and, as a dead man, see what’s left as a bonus and live it according to Nature. Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting? -Marcus Aurelius

And here is the answer I’ve been searching for. The one ‘focus’ this humble corner of the internet provides. A place to share all that is me, present and future, as it occurs and evolves all on its own. Here is the creative expression of my entire being, put out on display for the world to see, if they so choose to watch.

Ahead of me rests a year of creative growth! Freedom in the unknown and unforeseen, purpose and solidarity in the forward motion. I can’t wait to share it with you!

How has this lockdown been for you? Is the Covid-19 stressing you out, dragging you down, or lifting you up? Let me know in the comments!

Depression: The Truth You Need!

Today I was going to write about the art & fiction studio I built for nurturing creativity at home, but my thoughts and words have carried me instead toward depression, and the truth we all need to hear to finally get a few steps ahead of it. Of course any writing in this direction must be navigated with caution, and also, the best intention, so let’s first take a second to consider why you’d want to hear my personal thoughts on this controversial topic. That way, you can decide whether or not you want to hear my take on things before you go ahead and read further. So here goes…

Through years of suffering the most vicious and debilitating yo-yo of depression myself, I’ve spent countless amounts of time and effort researching psychology, physiology, mental health, philosophy, ancient cultures, self help strategies, (See: Where Self-Help Becomes Self Sabotage) Eastern practices such as yoga and meditation, and more. Of course, as you’d expect from a depressive, I’ve spent equal amounts of time in bed too. If it’s psychology, spirituality, physiology, or physicality related, you can bet your arse I’ve spent many a sleepless night scrawling through the literature. Beyond that, I have myself written a few hundred thousand words on the topic throughout various conversations with coaching clients, on social media, and through blogging and freelancing. I researched and wrote the entire launch site of a clinical psychiatrist out in Toronto (no names, my lips are sealed), and have freelanced multiple articles on the topic. All that aside, I have no degrees, I have no certifications, and I am in no way a practitioner of any kind of medicine or therapy.

With all that out of the way, I can say with absolute certainty that finally, I am not depressed. Not at all. My life is not amazing. I’m not rich. I struggle. (I write and blog for Christ’s sake!) I argue with my family and I go through the motions with my kids and my finances stress me out. But all of those things are met with and dealt with the correct understanding, and don’t fill me with dark, unnatural thoughts or a total lack of energy or system shutdown. I’m not overwhelmed on a mental health basis. And that’s what we’re all here for right? Because our wants and needs don’t align with our thoughts and bodies. Because we want to do things but our lack of energy debilitates us and our inner thoughts dissuade us. We know that it’s not right. We know that it’s ‘infected’ with something. And we want it gone.

I’ve crawled down into the darkest holes and flown through the highest highs. The moments of hopelessness and the fleeting motivation-filled surges have had me on a rollercoaster I couldn’t get off for years. And I don’t want that for any of you. I went through the CBT thing, the therapy thing, the medication thing, the self-help thing, and the ‘its not real’ thing. But none of it helped kick the darkness away for good. Now, over the last couple years, I’ve realised why. All the above ‘methods’ for treatment often carry over the same underlying lie that fundamentally blocks you from improvement. It’s not the methods themselves that are flawed, they’re all perfectly fine. It’s more the way they are delivered. So, are you ready for the truth?

The big deception, the egocentric protective barrier we are so happily spoon-fed, the great illusion, the easy escape, the fundamental lie we are being told is this: It’s not your fault. Yes, in fact, it absolutely is.

It’s not your fault. Yes, in fact, it absolutely is.

Now try for a second to think of depression as a warning sign. As a last ditch effort to force change upon you, rather than a state of mind. Despite the 50+ generation that tell you to just cheer up, and that life’s not that bad, It’s almost common knowledge that depression is more than a state of mind. It’s a severe chemical imbalance bought on by a misalignment between brain and body.

A lesser known, or even thought of, angle, is that depression is your brain’s last attempt to get you to align your actions with your body, your mind, your desires, and your passions. It’s a warning to move toward where you want to be. For too long now you’ve ignored every moment of motivation, every fleeting idea, every sudden urge. You’ve unconsciously suppressed and stunted and failed over and over again, every time you ignore yourself, or start something you don’t finish, and instead hidden behind social media and motivational videos and Netflix and takeaway, dumping instant gratification into your system for failure, over the well deserved pride you can take from a drawn out effort for success. Your body has dumped chemical after chemical into your bloodstream while you’ve numbed yourself to the how’s and whys, until your entire system has nothing left but to render you impaired until change is made.

Understanding this is the first and most important step toward improving your symptoms. It earns you control and responsibility for it. Gives you power over it. Sure, ‘it’s your fault’ is a tough and controversial pill to swallow, but the ‘it’s not your fault’ narrative isn’t offering any long term turnaround for anyone. In my opinion, responsibility for ourselves and our bodies is a sorely missed necessity in our society these days. Our civilisations berate us with all the tools we need to mess ourselves up, but essentially, it is still our choice to partake, and equally our responsibility to put right. We can’t knowingly head further and further down a certain path, and then claim no responsibility for the destination. I understand why others would tell us that ‘it’s not our fault,’ but such a lie, or at the very least, a kind deception, is not what’s going to help us in the long run. Own it. It’s yours. Your body, your mind, your actions, your chemicals. Your responsibility.

Now that you have control and ownership of what’s happening to you, you can start putting yourself back together. Small tiny steps that put your brain and body back in alignment. You say you’re gonna go for a 1 mile run on Sunday, and you do it. Success. You say you’re gonna sell a couple of pointless items around your home and you do it. Success. You cook rather than swinging by McDonald’s, you read the book before watching the movie, you lift weights before sitting down for the night. It’s a process of undoing and rewiring the system that got all unbalanced and tangled up in the first place.

Every small, earned success pulls one more wire out of the mess and straightens it out. There may be hundreds, or thousands to deal with, but the positive effects are cumulative. It is instant gratification that got us here. Rushes and rushes of positive chemicals and hormones dumped into the system, without any real work, effort, or longevity. Ditching that instant gratification is going to be painful. You’re addicted, and it’s harming you. Like cigarettes, or drug misuse. You’ll have to do without those sudden rushes and go through the withdrawals, while earning your positivity in a less frequent, but ultimately more stable and long lasting way.

I guess I’ll wrap it up with this. Ditch porn, drugs, alcohol, and other instant gratification lies that fill you with an altered sense of reality that comes crashing down once the effect wears off. Switch out sudden rushes of unearned positivity with enjoying experiences in your own life, in the real world. Spend less time accumulating likes on ‘social media,’ and more time socialising with real people, away from any media whatsoever. All this shit sends your system into a resistance to positivity in the long run, and does you no real good. What happens if you give a child everything they want whenever they want it for no reason at all? They get spoilt, right. Well our brains and bodies are exactly the same. Evidence of this can be seen in lottery winners and celebrity circles, filled with alcoholism, suicide, depression, and drug addictions.

Take ownership and responsibility for what’s happening in your body, and slowly put it back together bit by bit.

You can start right now by reading a couple of my earliest posts here. How To Take Control of Your Life and How To Achieve Success in Anything. So what do you think? Will this mindset help you finally win out in your battle with depression, or is it ringing a little cray-cray to you? Let me know in the comments!

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again…

Seriously debating a photo of Eminem here…

Now I’m not arrogant enough to believe that my disappearance or lack of posting means much to anyone at this point in time, but I do still feel responsible for those who have followed my blog in good faith and have been let down on the content side. This half a year has been an unusual balance of ups and downs, with all the ups remaining almost exclusively offline with family, business, and relationships, and all the downs in my writing & reading side as a result of improvements in those areas.

That said, the whole chapter has come full-circle, and everything seems to be levelling out beautifully. After a structureless increase in visits from my children over the past few months, (while obviously welcome, it’s hard to make plans for writing and the like when time with the little-ones will always come first!), my daughter Lily has asked to come and live with me full time!! Myself and her mother have worked out between ourselves that, yes, that is happening, so on the family front there’s more routine and structure there to work around.

I’m that annoying type of person that needs a structured routine. Sleep and wake times, morning and evening rituals, planned out activities at certain times, spreadsheets (yeah, I know…), the lot! Seriously, without one, the whole damn world collapses around me and I don’t know if I’m coming or going. Still, even with knowing that, when my routine does eventually slip away into chaos, I struggle to sit and create a new one. Just think: I haven’t scheduled ‘write routine’ into my daily routine, have I? Can you imagine how hard that makes everything? Do you even know how much this very post breaks all those rules!? I’m practically sweating!

In any case, if you can forgive me, here I am. Writing. Now. This very second.

I haven’t much to say in this post aside from declaring my intentions upon returning to the blogosphere and sharing my excitement over having my daughter come to live with me full-time (more in a later post: nurturing creativity in your children.) Over the past couple months I’ve still been alive, and thus, have still been having ideas, reading books, making plans, and all the rest of it, so rest assured the content will come quickly and often to make up for the disappearance.

The flash fiction and book reviews will continue on a regular basis, but there are other things that will change. For instance, lifestyle is gonna be much more of a thing over here. I’m a keen psychology and philosophy buff, and so love learning and sharing all matters on the condition of life and the many ways in which we can live it. I’m hoping to provoke conversation with the community, and help to shape my own life and the lives of others through what we learn together.

Another thing… a webseries. I’ll be writing one. It’ll be over on Wattpad I think, free to the masses. Nothing too serious or heavily edited, just a fun story that I can add to each week. I’m going either Riverdale-esque college drama with some horror/fantasy elements thrown in, or vigilante multiverse with some horror/fantasy elements thrown in. Go figure.

All that and more. More focus on my art journey, a bigger push toward publication, and maybe a patreon for exclusive bonuses to help pay the bills. One thing that’s certain, you’ll be seeing a lot from me and I can only prove it by cracking on, so, in a while, crocodile!

Fancy a quick five minute read before you go?

My Slice’a Freedom

Like A Nettle Sting

Endgame

Consistency & Positivity over Pressure & Burnout

This post is just a quick one thrown together from the comfort of my own bed, on my phone. It’s a reminder to myself and all of you who read this, that consistency and positivity are leagues apart from putting too much pressure on yourself and burning out from the stress.

A positive attitude with hope and confidence in yourself, mixed with small, consistent steps in the right direction, are guaranteed to bring you success in your ventures. As humans with big hopes and dreams, we tend to easily slip into the feeling that we must do more than we are doing, must get to where we’re going faster than we already are, and honestly, that mindset is just piling undue stress and pressure on top of dreams that started out with love and passion.

Think of it like this. Positive action, positive thoughts, and positive habits will bring positive outcomes, whereas negative action, negative thoughts, and negative habits, will of course bring negative outcomes.

How we choose to frame our situations goes a long way to how those situations eventually play out.

“I said I’d do a blog post per month, but I haven’t been able to do it. I’ve still got a few collabs to work on and I haven’t even started on my true horror book yet. God knows how I’m gonna get it all done.”

So there’s my situation right now, framed in negativity. If I continue along that train of thought, I’ll become overwhelmed, I’ll stand still, and I’ll end up sabotaging any and all progress I’ve made and have yet to make on this wondrous journey through life. Now, let’s portray the exact same message, only this time, positively.

“I’ve earned some extra money being busy this week! I could take Friday off to write at my own leisure, or work that little extra and treat Ellen to something nice. I can’t wait to get a chance to work on my collab with Hannah Maggie, I’m loving how my character is turning out, and the collab with Iosonas Bakas is going to be so worth all the delay. He’s a great artist and I’m a good writer, what we make will be epic!

“Deadlines for two submissions are due soon so I better get a move on if I’m gonna start my true horror novel in December. They’ll either be accepted or they won’t, but if they are that’s great! And if not, well, I’ll spend some more time on them without the pressure of a deadline and use them for something else. Win some, you lose some.”

You see how much of a difference that makes? Realistically, I can’t post a blog post everyday. I set myself a challenge and life got in the way. That’s a bummer. But the purpose of that challenge was to hit 1000 page views this month. I’m already on track to be ahead of that target, and I’ve written around ten posts. Good ones too! The challenge has spawned great growth and ideas, including my Instagram graphic story intros to drive traffic to the blog, my “Like a Nettle Sting” and “Father’s Rage” flash fictions, both of which I’m happy with, and a couple of helpful lifestyle/mental health posts which may go on to help someone in need. I’m not going to let myself be disappointed about that, and ruin a good thing over a non-thing.

Remember, the best and worst situations in life can be viewed positively or negatively, and it truly is our choice which side of the coin lands face-up in any given circumstance. Only one of those choices leads to happiness.

So, one post a day… that’s a big no-no. Sorry 🤷‍♂️ I’ve got two amazing collaborations going on that I want to spend some time on, and I have two submissions that I’d be a fool to not make deadline for. But I’m not going anywhere, and this blog is a part of my life now. I love to log on, search around the blogosphere and read all your great posts, engage in comments and community groups. I’m gonna slow down for the rest of the month though, at least until a few items on my checklist have that all important tick beside them.

With a great girlfriend, two amazing kids, some talented bloggers working with me, and excellent opportunities that require my attention, I have all the happiness and success I need. I’m a mile ahead of where I was last month, and that’s what’s important!

The only person you need to compare yourself to is yourself the day before.

So that’s all for today. Just a small one, which I hope reminds you of why you set out to do whatever it is you’re doing. Was it for stressful deadlines and pressure, or for the love of the craft and your own passion and growth? Our experience of life is in our hands. It’s all about how we frame it!

Night folks. Feel free to drop a rant and let me know what’s going on in your world right now. How do you deal with stress when you’re feeling overwhelmed?

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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How To Best Manage Our Time For Less Stress

With all the hustle and bustle of modern living, it’s a wonder how we get anything done at all. In this age of minimum wage and maximum costs, maintaining a healthy work/life balance is hard enough, before finding extra time for your partner, family, and friends. Of course, on top of all that, there are the things we ‘want’, or ‘wish,’ to be able to do and be better at. Sadly, these are often the things that take the worse hit of them all, and we go about our lives from expectation to expectation, never finding that all important time to express ourselves and work on our passions.

But what if we could juggle all that important stuff, while working on personal projects and skills, and still have time for relaxing, movies, and friends? Have you ever seen the video where some dude puts rocks, pebbles, sand, and beer in a jar, to demonstrate how best to use our time? Well it’s a good watch, and it will serve as a good primer before jumping into the thick of this post.

Watched it? Good! So you can see how a simple shift in our priorities can instantly turn our life around. Time is the one currency in the world we can’t earn back. It slowly dwindles down until eventually, there’s none left. While we can throw around a large amount of our pounds and dollars each weekend, knowing that come Monday we’re back to earning more, perhaps invest a little in ourselves or put it to work to earn more of it, time is not expendable. So how we invest it is important.

How we use our time determines whether we are happy and fulfilled on our deathbeds, or miserable and filled with regret. Would you be glad that you caught every show on Netflix, and never let your friends share a status without being the first to like it? Or would you be happier to know that you rose to the top of your field, always helped put a smile on the faces of others, had amazing experiences with your friends and family, and lived an active life filled with success and adventure?

You see, a lot of the things that we stress over, are directly caused by the amount of time we spend doing the little, enjoyable things in life, rather than focusing on the larger issues and commitments. The enjoyability isn’t enough to outweigh the stress, and we become overwhelmed as a result of our own procrastination. But if we take a second to fit in all those big responsibilities first, we see that we can still fit in all the small stuff around it, with less resistance and stress at that!

Today I just wanted to take a minute to share with you that small piece of advice. It seems obvious, but in practice, you’ll likely be surprised at how wrong you have your life structured. I know I was. Grab a pen now and write down all the things that you like doing, want to do, have to do, and wish you could do.

Your list should look like this:

-Work/financial goal
-Read more books
-See my family
-Go out with my friends
-Take the kids for a walk
-Get my book published
-Maintain a weight training program
-Watch anime
-Check out Haunting on Hill House
-Meditate

Now that you’ve written down all your likes, wants, and shoulds, I want you to assign each one a priority. Either Rock, pebble, or sand. Rocks are larger tasks that require a great degree of focus and time, and will ultimately enhance your way of life. Pebbles are still important, but require much less of a time commitment, and sand items are the fun little things you like to do. Then reorder them with rocks first, pebbles below, and sand at the bottom.

Rocks

-Work/Financial Goal
-Publish a book

Pebbles

-Take the kids for walks
-Maintain a weight training program
-See my family
-Meditate daily

Sand

-Read more books
-Go out with my friends
-Watch anime
-Check out Haunting on Hill House

Now that we have everything structured and where it needs to be, lets have a think about how we can squeeze all of this into a week.

168 hours in a week, of which 56 hours should be spent sleeping. This leaves us 112 hours to play with.

Let’s say that work takes up 40 hours, we’re left with 72.

Of those 72 hours, we want to commit a good 20 hours on our big side goal. In this example it’s publishing a book. That includes creative writing practice, courses, writing, editing, networking, and everything else to do with that particular goal.

Right, there’s the rocks out the way. Now we’re left with 52 hours. 7 hours spent walking with the kids, and 3 hours spent maintaining a weight-training program takes away another 10. Boom, 42 hours left. At this point we’re sleeping well, working hard, progressing towards a huge goal, staying fit, and spending time active with the kids.

Of these 42 hours, we’ll spend 10 of them with the family, and 5 with friends. Why not? We’ve got lots of time… These are our refreshing bursts, the things that make it all worthwhile. Our relationships and connections outside of work, outside of the stresses of life. These are the things that make us smile.

Still, we have 27 hours left in the week. And you really have no way to pay all the bills, work on your passion, keep yourself fit, spend time with the family, and enjoy a couple movies here and there?

If you spot anything in your life that is demanding too much time, then you need to do something to bring it back in to a better balance. But that’s a different post altogether…

Now of course these numbers and priorities will be different for everyone. Some of you have degrees to work on, dissertations to write, school papers to grade during half term, a network of hundreds of employees to run, or any variable thereafter. Still, by balancing the priorities and reorganising them by order of rocks, pebbles, and sand, I’m confident you can live a happy, fulfilling life, so that when the moment comes where sadly you have reached your end, you do so smiling and satisfied.

How do you find time to balance your day? Have you ever tried adjusting your priorities and seeing where you can fit everything? It’s always a surprising and enlightening exercise.

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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My Five Favourite Posts So Far- Don’t Miss Them!

I promised myself that throughout the month of November I’d write a post for this blog every single day, in an attempt to bump my views up to over 1000 this month. So far I’m on track to do this, which is great! I’m so grateful to have had such a far reach over the course of a couple of months, and while it hasn’t been easy, and I still have such a long way to go, I’m over the moon to have enjoyed my small bit of success in my own corner of the internet.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve settled into my blog more, and I’m starting to find my feet. It’s an odd mix of flash fiction, lifestyle, and writing tips, but it works for me. I’ve got a whole load of kinks to work out, and a bunch of restructuring/scheduling to get it running smoothly, but all in all, this haphazard collection of thoughts and fiction is the perfect reflection of me. I love my little site, and I have big plans for its future.

The last few days I’ve not been very well, and the juggling of blog posts, contest & anthology submissions, (not to mention my work in the background) has been wearing me down at the same time. When I got home from work earlier today, I crashed, and I stayed asleep for around four hours! Super-Nap! I do feel better for it, but now it’s 9:30pm and am suddenly hit with the realisation that I haven’t written a damn thing for the blog yet!

To make matters worse… I didn’t know what to write! I felt too groggy to attempt any fiction, too under-the-weather to talk depression, and didn’t want to get into anything too heavy. Then I figured, why not write about the writing I’ve done so far? Today I simultaneously hit 100 blog followers and 100 followers on my Facebook page, and finally cracked 250 on my instagram! I’m proud of what I’ve done so far, and some of you may have missed a couple pieces that I believe deserve some recognition. So without further waffling from me, here are my 5 favourite posts I’ve written so far!

A Eulogy

My first post, and singlehandedly responsible for my return to writing, the eulogy I wrote for my grandfather is a piece I hold close to my heart. While we weren’t particularly close, he being in Germany and me in the UK, he was a truly great man that came with his own presence. He was intelligent, funny, strong, and resilient. Without being forceful or overbearing, he smoothly commanded a level of respect from all who knew him. His death was sudden and unexpected, and from it came an outpouring of words that haven’t stopped since.

I love this piece because it stands as a homage to him, but beyond that, talks about the journey of kingship in all men. It explores what I believe is the ideal journey of all men from birth to death, and allows me to explore the archetypal philosophy of King. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d love if you did. He’d love it too. A Eulogy

How To Take Control Of Your Own Life

Actually my second post here, this is an article that I had originally written for a totally different blog idea, so the tone and voice may be different from what you’ve grown used to. Still, buried within this post is some unapologetic honesty, which forces us to take a close look at ourselves and why we may be unable to achieve what we want. Continuing on this strain, I wrote a post to follow up called “How To Achieve Success in Anything,” which further explored how we hold ourselves back from the things we love and want.

I love this post because honestly I enjoyed writing it. That style of honest, motivation rant is right up my street. It’s also a small insight into the kind of blog I was gonna be running here, which has now been sort of adapted and absorbed into this one. Hopefully in the future I’ll still run with that original idea, but who knows? I’m pretty busy with all this! If you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here: How To Take Control of Your Own Life.

The Man In The Hat

Coming in at under 300 words for a weekly writing group contest, The Man In The Hat was a short exploration of a character I’d held in my mind for a long time. Two characters, actually. The mood of the piece is enigmatic, and it really doesn’t give much away. While the situation isn’t one I saw for a longer novel, I enjoyed setting these two characters free just for a few hundred words. If you’d like to go check that out, it’ll take less than a couple minutes and you can have a go at figuring out who the man in the hat is. Hopefully it wets your appetite for one of my near-future works! You can find it here: The Man In The Hat.

The Fury Of The Godless

Growing in cultural popularity as of late, Vikings have always been a huge thing of interest for me. Having a northern heritage myself, and feeling a particular calling to that wild pantheon of Gods and Godesses, it’s always fun to explore the darker aspects of Viking behaviour throughout the Middle Ages. I wasn’t entirely happy with this piece, but it was received well by all who read it, and reading it back now, I actually love it. Cleverly titled Fury Of The Godless, we question whether the Godless in question are those who’ve slaughtered a monastery of men, or those from the monastery itself. The Northmen had Gods, and they loved them freely. But did the Christians truly love their God? You decide for yourself here: The Fury of The Godless.

Endgame

My most recent piece of fiction comes in at under 750 words for a YeahWrite weekly contest. The prompt was catalyst, and metaphors are this month’s main theme. Being new to YeahWrite, I wanted to make an impression, and weaved a metaphor throughout the entire piece. I’ve fallen in love with both characters in that story, and wish I had more words to fully develop and explore them. Writing this piece was easy. The main character pulled me through smoothly, leading the way as I translated her thoughts through the tapping of the keys. I think I’ll revisit this at some stage and weave a full short story or novella from it. I seriously loved writing it, genuinely love reading it back, and hope you will too. You can check that out here: Endgame.

There’s more that I’ve enjoyed writing, but these are the main five that stand out to me, not necessarily on a quality basis, but on a basis of Enjoyability and meaning. These five are either going places or have taken me places, which is really what writing is all about.

Which post is your favourite so far? Have you got a post you’re particularly proud of you’d like to share with me? Let me know in the comments 🙂

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3 Easy Techniques To Help Deal With Depression

Yesterday we took a look at all the ways self-help can cross the boundary and become hurtful to those with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Where we take time to learn all the steps and attempt to blindly implement them into our lives, we become obsessed with self development and end up trapped in a yo-yo of motivation and failure. If you haven’t read that yet, you can quickly check it out to make sure you’re not already stuck in this infinite loop, and give yourself the best start in tackling your depression: Where Self-Help Becomes Self Sabotage.

Today we’re gonna heed the warnings of the previous post, and bare them in mind while we take a look at three easy techniques to help deal with depression today. Just a few easy-to-implement changes can both improve your mental health and work on your personal development, without overwhelming yourself. Let’s jump straight in!

Seek Medical Attention for Your Mental Health

The first step in your self-help journey is to get the help you actually need. As we covered in the previous post, an attempt to quickly improve our lives and mental health forces us to take on more than our depression and anxiety will lend us the energy to undertake. We need to take it slow. Any long lasting change comes at a snail pace, bit by bit, slowly tweaking our routines to add in a positive technique or two each month. We simply cannot rush when it comes to changing our lives and improving our mental health. If you’ve spent your whole life living a certain way, how can you expect to change it overnight? Another point to note, is that mental health issues aren’t just in the mind. By the time they’re bad, there’s all sorts of chemical imbalances in your body. That all needs fixing too. Sure, you can self regulate chemical balance, but its hard, and slow, and dangerous to put off the inevitable. See your doctor, tell them what’s happening, and get the medication you need. Don’t put it off another day. If you need convincing, and you still haven’t read the previous post, do that now: Where Self-Help Becomes Self Sabotage.

Start Meditating Every Day

Meditation is a practice with a plethora of health benefits, and it’s effect on our mental health and outlook are extremely potent. No, the point is not to clear your mind, or to fall asleep, or any of the typical misconceptions. It’s your daily ten minutes to check in with yourself, and let thoughts flow freely through your mind. It’s our time to breath correctly, and to learn to deal with thoughts and feelings positively. As an independent practice, meditation should not be ignored. For the sake of ten minutes per day, making meditation a recurring part of your daily schedule should be your first effort in recovery.

There are many ways to meditate, but some awesome people have made it very easy for us to learn. Simply download the Headspace app and start the ‘take ten’ introduction. Ten, ten minute sessions over ten days, to show you the ropes. That’s all it takes to get yourself on the path to long term mental health improvement.

Take a Walk and Listen to Audiobooks

In an attempt to tip-toe around the cliche that is ‘get some fresh air,’ I really cant state enough the importance of getting out for a walk! Okay, okay, so I’ll admit that fresh air really does help, but that’s not what I care about here 😉 The main benefit comes in the form of exercise and routine. Each day you’ll be out in nature, performing one of our most basic human functions. You’ll burn calories, you’ll work through your thoughts, and you’ll improve your overall health and longevity.

You can supercharge this practice by plugging in a set of headphones and subscribing to a site like audible. Here you’ll have access to great books, and be able to simply listen and gain knowledge while you walk. You can opt for fiction and go off on epic adventures, or take the non fiction route and discover topics like philosophy, psychology, self-development, history, nature, and more. Not only will you be reaping all the benefits of getting in a daily walk, you’ll also be learning and growing. This is a daily practice that I’ve adopted myself and have loved ever since!

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Take Up A Simple Workout Plan

Exercise is important in both physical and mental health. Improving our longevity, bone and muscle density, our chemical balance, our discipline, and more, a resistance training program is one of the most important aspects of a person’s self development. They don’t have to be complicated or difficult, and we don’t all have to be body-builders. Bringing in a simple and structured plan like Stronglifts 5×5 or Starting Strength is more than enough! You can download the apps, log your reps and weight as you go, and not worry about anything. A progressive workout in under an hour! No stress, no knowledge. Just plug in and go…

Overtime we’ll lose weight, gain muscle, improve our mobility and functional strength, and gain confidence in ourselves and our capabilities. It’s not an instant cure for mental health issues, but it is a suppressant and long term solution for at least some of the issues that fuel a depressive mind. What’s more, we’ll be more in line with our basic biological function as human beings. We’ll be more efficient in pushing, pulling, squatting, and lifting. Win/win!

So hopefully you see that just a few easy techniques to help deal with depression are enough to get you started, without filling your schedule with hundreds of new things. You can work these changes into your routine right away, with little to no adaptation. All in all, its a sacrifice of just 10 hours per week, in exchange for more happiness and overall growth. Over the next few days, we’ll take a look at improving our sleep patterns, eating and drinking well, and developing a realistic routine for daily growth and development. Be sure to follow to get an email notification when those posts are published, and share this series with any of your friends you think this could help. I hope you take inspiration from this post and get started right away. Until next time!

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Where Self-Help Becomes Self Sabotage

By the time I ended up at the doctors for help, I was in a hole so deep I don’t think I ever could’ve climbed out. My family all but dragged me kicking and screaming, desperately clinging to my ignorant refusal to accept the word into my life and onto my medical file. I had self-helped to the point of self sabotage over the course of God knows how many years, and everyone but me could see that it wasn’t getting any better. I was on a downward slope, and while I managed to cling on to a few tree stumps and reeds on the way down, it wasn’t enough to stop the eventual death waiting for me at the foot of the mountain.

Depression. *thunder crash.* The word itself comes with its own darkness, except it’s not darkness, really. It’s more like a vacuum. Anyone who’s been there knows what I’m talking about. Depression doesn’t suppress the light in your life, it sucks all trace of light out of a room, leaving total blackness where it dared to encroach on it’s territory.

From the point that you become medicated, you also become a target for equal parts sympathy and misunderstanding.

“Yeah it’s hard, ain’t it? But you’ve got so much to live for haven’t you? Snap out of it you silly sod.”

Before we continue, I want to first point out that I was very rarely ‘sad.’ Depression is not sadness. It’s not ‘oh no I dropped my last cookie and now I’ll be hungry all afternoon.’ It’s not walking around all day plotting your own suicide, either. It’s more of a misalignment of thoughts and purpose. A ‘what’s the point?’ in everything you do.

You can go through your day and experience amazing things. You can laugh with your friends, smile with your family, tuck your kids in bed and kiss your wife, but still when alone time comes, the darkness hits.

Whats the point? You’re worthless. You’re useless. You’ll never not feel like this. You’ll never be anything more than what you are. You’re born, you pay bills, you die, that’s it. They’re better off without you. You’re better off without you.

The voice of depression is quiet and convincing. It’s sneaky. It will creep into everything you do and infect your inner thoughts, gaining in strength each time you give it permission. Of course, permission doesn’t come consciously or willingly. It’s voice comes smooth as silk to start with, convincing, cunning, chipping away at your psyche bit by bit.

Before long, we recognise that we are depressed, but not before going through all the motions first. We’re not depressed, we’re realistic, right? And we’ll be okay, we just need some rest and a teeny bit of alone time to breath. We’re just stressed and in a bad mood right now, it’ll pass. These are the first lies we tell ourselves. The first outward signs that something is wrong. Here we have two choices. Accept it and get help immediately, or get online and see how to improve alone. Of course, we always choose the latter.

Overnight we become self-help gurus and life coaches. We become psychologists and raging advocates for fitness, health, and positive energy. We write out an intense ‘Turn My Life Around’ routine, filled to the brim with workouts, meditation, yoga, strict sleep/wake times, green tea, meals prepped in advance, hollywood level hygiene, volunteering, and all the rest of it. Everything on this list has a positive effect on humans, whether depressed or not, and we dedicate ourselves to doing all of it every day for the best chance in eradicating the parasite that has taken up residence inside our minds. But it’s quite a lot of new stuff, so we’ll start tomorrow. Clean slate.

Actually, I got a pretty rough night sleep last night, and 5am is not the time to be going for a run when I didn’t drop off ’til 1:30. You know, now its Wednesday, so I may as well start next monday.

Perhaps by monday morning you do in fact feel ready to start this regimen. You get up bright and early after a good night sleep, and you feel like you’ve become a multi-millionaire lifestyle blogger overnight. You get your run in, your workout, the perfect breakfast, and go on to live the best, most productive day you’ve had in a long time. And maybe you maintain this with varying levels of success, for a couple of weeks.

Then the thoughts start to come again, and before you recognise they’ve been working on you the whole time, they’re convincing. Depression was just biding it’s time, letting you have your way for a while. But you know you’re never gonna get better. You know you’re never gonna improve. And it’s not like you’re ever gonna be in great shape like those instagram models, so what’s the point in all this working out?

Of course, this track takes us nowhere but back to bed. Try as we might, there’s no arguing with the silver-tongued voice of the black demon once he’s dug his claws in to our minds. There is only one true weapon we can take up against him once he’s seized control: medication.

Self-help, and all the positive lifestyle changes mentioned above, are excellent additions to anybody’s life. But it’s also a dangerous trap we can all too easily fall into. Medical attention should come first, HAS to come first, before trying to self-help our way to healthy minds. It’s impossible to implement all the changes we want to make at once. It’s impossible to repair our chemical imbalances, our deep-rooted negative mindsets, with positive action alone. Insistence on trying is merely self-denial, and often only results in a yo-yo effect where the highs and lows get a little lower each time, slowly chipping away at our character.

If you take anything away from today’s post, let it be the courage to seek medical attention right away. You don’t need to suffer anymore, and you certainly don’t need to give up, or put on hold, any part of your life to be properly medicated. After a couple of weeks, when your serotonin inhibiters kick in and you’re enhancing your life through positive action and a newfound energy, you’ll thank yourself. Trust me.

Drop your thoughts and experiences with depression in the comments, and share this post with your friends and loved ones to help raise awareness in an issue that effects 1 in 6 of us. No one should suffer any longer than they need to.

Find out how to slowly and healthily use self-help to improve your mental health in the next article in this series: 3 easy techniques to help deal with depression.

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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How To Achieve Success in Anything

Would you believe that you can achieve success in anything you want? That whatever you put your mind to, no matter how far away or difficult it seems, you can reach that eventual outcome?

If you think you are beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don’t. If you’d like to win but to think you can’t, it’s almost certain you won’t. Life’s battles don’t always go to the strong or faster man, but sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can. -Walter D. White

The majority of my life to this point, could be summed up with this short quote. I think if we’re being honest with ourselves, the same applies to us all. We’ve all gone through times where we’ve given up. We’ve all gone through times where our own self doubt has crippled us. Kept us from starting something, or seeing it through to the end. It’s fine and it’s normal. It’s self preservation. The threat of failure too easily outweighs the potential for success. And look, some things (the things we wish to be great at) are hard to master.

But here’s the thing. If we stop for a second, and look at those we idolise, what sets them apart from us? Was Michelangelo born with the ability to sculpt David? Was Will Smith always the go-to, bankable, movie star he is today? Let’s fast forward a few years and take a look at Ed Sheeran— have you heard his singing efforts before refining his style and finding his voice? The one, single thing, that separates any of us from success in anything, is the amount of times we’re willing to fail, adapt, and learn, in pursuit of that success.

It’s how often we are willing to come across an obstacle, and learn to work beyond that obstacle, while still holding the hope and vision of eventual success at the forefront of our minds. A ‘wannabe’ artist discovers he can’t draw hands. How he deals with that, is going to determine whether or not he’s successful in art. Is he gonna throw in the towel, give up entirely, or decide to simply avoid drawing hands? Or is he going to draw hands over and over again, in all positions, from all angles, at all perspectives, until it becomes something he’s capable of? The latter is the path to success.

You can’t write a novel without first failing at writing novels, write vibrant characters until you’ve written flat ones. It’s the lessons we learn in failure, that teach us the way to success. Once we accept this, and learn that failure is the path to success, we are truly ready to achieve success in anything we put our minds to. The only thing left to do is believe it and see it through.

You will come across doubters. You will be pushed down by those around you. Coerced into giving up by some of those closest to you. It’s not out of malice, but out of wanting the best for you, and feeling that telling you something isn’t worth the effort is somehow helping you. Success is a hard, lonely, and rocky path. From the outside looking in, it’s awful.

People don’t see the thousands of hours ‘that guy they follow on instagram’ has spent sketching, and failing, before being capable of creating that awesome time-lapse. They see you tripping up on hands, and tell you not to bother. They believe it’s some kind of god-given gift. That you either can or you can’t. You, however, know that not to be true, and it is only you that can keep going. Despite any naysayer, despite any obstacle, despite any doubt. The knowledge that success is possible, and takes work, is all you need to get there.

So why isn’t everyone a grandmaster at chess, an insta-famous artist, or an A-list movie star? Because it’s hard. And that’s where the work comes in. If you’re certain of something you want to achieve, if you’re dedicated to seeing it through, then its gonna take a hell of a lot of work.

Remember, it takes an average of ten-thousand hours to master any one thing, which does of course vary depending on the level of talent or natural affinity you may have to it. But you don’t have to be a master at it to be successful. You just have to keep going through all the struggle and hardship, knowing that eventually, you can achieve success in anything you chose!

That’s all for today folks, keep going!

For more Personal Development posts like this one, try these!


 

How To Take Control of Your Life

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. we ourselves must walk the path. -Buddha

There comes a time in life where you have to make a choice over who you want to be, what you stand for, and what you are investing your time in. So you want to take control of your life? Great, me too. But first, lets be honest with each other.

I see so many young men and women that have no time to workout, but invest hundreds of hours in playing somebody else’s life through a video game. They’re great at levelling up Lara Croft or grinding gear in whatever new money-draining Activision release there is, but can’t spare an hour to level up themselves.

They can’t afford to eat healthy, or buy supplements to help reach their goals, but they can swing by McDonald’s three times a week, and drop a hundred on a Saturday night booze sesh.

They haven’t got enough energy to play with the kids or engage with the family. They’re so tired from work and want to just chill with a movie, watching great characters act out great lives rather than forging those lives for themselves.

I’m gonna cut through the shit now and tell you the truth. If you play video games, if you sit down to watch movies or Netflix binge after work, if you grab some ‘quick’ fast food on your way back from wherever, then your lack of time, money, and energy, is bullshit. It’s a choice. A choice to favour instant gratification over long term investment in yourself. If you want to take control of your life, it’s time to play the long game, and start levelling up you.

Reality check: If you are simply going through the motions, day by day, idolising characters in movies while claiming you ‘wish’ to be like them, or living the lives of video game characters rather than living your own, you’re wasting precious time that you can never get back. Put simply, you’re a product of the modern world, and you believe that through all this you are actually living. Grinding the grind. Doing the best you can. I know this, because I’ve been this, and sometimes I still AM this.

But it’s time to get real with ourselves right now. How do you really feel? Are you content, happy, fulfilled? Or right there, beneath the surface of your easy-go-lucky ‘whatever,’ are you feeling a lack of individuality? A lack of a sense of self, of purpose? Don’t you feel that something is missing. Well it is… and what’s missing, is YOU.

And the way out really isn’t that difficult to see, but it takes a whole load of struggle to change it. It takes discipline, dedication, and drive to pull yourself out of this mind-numbing cycle. It takes the ability to focus on the bigger picture, until it starts to flow naturally. You have to make the conscious decision to LIVE, rather than exist in this zombie-like state we too easily consider living.

So let’s try a few things.

    First, we have to acknowledge the FACT that we can live the lives we wish we could. We can be strong, we can go on wild adventures, we can get the girl, we can master painting or piano. If anyone has ever done anything, you can do it too, and likely so much more than that.
    Second, start working to level yourself up. Instead of grinding for craft materials and new gear, get yourself on a training program, and spend just an hour or so, a few times a week, building yourself up. Those few hours put you ahead of 99% of the population. It’s consistency that sets you aside. Remember the long term, and keep showing up. Don’t succumb to failure like everyone else.
    Finally, stop wasting money on crappy, fleeting shit like fast food and energy drinks, when a healthy diet will reward you a lifestyle where energy drinks aren’t necessary to get through a day. We’ve existed for thousands and thousands of years without all that junk. We used to sleep. We used to relax. We used to eat what was grown. We used to MOVE. We used to be present. We used to see life as short and fleeting, and lived it as such.

I hope you can see that all of this is a simple change of mindset. It’s like waking up from a deep sleep. The world you’ve been trapped in is some dreamlike utopia, where our dreams are realised through virtual reality and short term boosts of false happiness. In reality, true happiness comes from fulfilment, and fulfilment comes through living YOUR life.

There are a few fundamentals. Think of them like foundations. We need to rebuild and relearn those things. The stronger the foundations, the more long lasting the happiness. Things like strength and mobility, self sufficiency, decent sleep patterns, an awareness of the shortness of life, an exposure to nature and ALL the elements. Get out in the heavy rain, the blistering cold, the blustering wind, and the burning sun. Get out in all those conditions and move. Simply walk. Sit. Listen.

My lovely little girl, Lily, and I, enjoying a walk in nature

We need to engage with our families. Nothing makes you smile more than pleasing your loved ones. Instead of that fast food, bring home some flowers, or better yet, some decent ingredients to cook a healthy meal. Spend time with your loved ones. Real time. Present. Caring. Attentive. Listen to your daughter tell you that she fell out with Lucy because she stole her pencil, and that Abigail got it back so now they are best friends. Listen to your partner about how John from work clearly has the hots for Jewels, and that the manager hasn’t got a clue how to run the store.

And then make some fun. Get out in nature. Reassure your loved ones that all of that external drama will never be as important as the moments that you are all together. That no matter who your child’s best friend is, they will always be yours first. That yours and your partners crappy jobs are worth it so long as you come home to each other.

These are the first steps in taking control of your life. These are the first steps in coming alive. Enjoy! Want more post like this one?

For more Personal Development posts like this one, try these!