Monthly Archives: January 2021

Less Eggs, More Flowers!

My relationship with social media has never been a smooth one.  Instilling fear and sadness; mixed with moments f happiness and achievement – I’ve never found it easy to ‘share my life’ with others.  This might surprise you, after all, I can be accused of being an over-sharer: a blogger who talks about her life.  And you’d be right.  However, as honest as I am, I can be an unreliable narrator.  I tell you my thoughts, some of my experiences, but there’s plenty I don’t.  It’s not because I’m secretive – I’m quite the open book – rather that it’s irrelevant to the conversation.  And sometimes, unbelievably to some of you, I might be out of words!  Therefore, with the release of the book, I’ve had to open myself up to the fear of Facebook and the Twitter.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been crapping myself about the whole thing: the book, people reading it; the feedback, the sharing, the comments – I just can’t cope! I’m in constant fear of offending someone.  I worry that I’ll let the readers down.  I’m now panicking about not having the audiobook ready for the blind and partially sighted community – I promise it’ll be here before the end of February.  And then there is the fact that I’m rather rubbish at working the Facebook et al…

Apology here: if I added you to a messenger ‘room’ (I have no idea what this is and how it happened!) on Thursday evening, then I am extremely sorry.  All I wanted was to send you a begging message!  All I wanted was to start my Friday with a bang! It seems I might have set up some sort of group call on the same scale as Biden’s dual Zoom screens for his signing in!  And, not content with this, I then managed to share the other ‘Lucy Swan’s’ (remember her from last week?) books with my community – asking people to share…

I know, how am I allowed to educate children?

With all this in mind, I started Friday a little jittery.  Him said ‘what do you want to do tonight to celebrate?’ Me: ‘nothing’.  And then, an hour into my daily walk: ‘what I want to do and can do are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS ENTIRELY!’  Instead, I did my make up and went for my weekly outing to M & S, which involved a mini panic attack at the hill.  All because I knew I needed to do the whole social media thing when I got home.  

But worse than the ‘Fear’ and my ineptness, of the world of social media, are my nagging doubts about my book.  

I found writing the book was a real labour of love.  The story, the settings, the characters- it all had to make sense.  Be truthful.  It all had to evoke an emotional response.  Without that, there was no point.  I needed it to take people through a range of emotions.  Like life, it needed to be real.  My characters became part of me; their stories had to be fully fleshed out, relatable and engaging. As their creator (Frankenstein moment here – look how that went!) I got to know them and didn’t want to let them down.  If my readers didn’t invest in their journeys, then I’d done them an injustice.    After all, their stories are important.  They are written to be understood and provoke the reader to assess their own thinking, and most of all, enjoy!

What if my readers didn’t though?  What if (big mistake here…) they write reviews like some of the ones I’ve read about other books on Amazon?    Books which I’ve loved!  Books which have won awards!  

I suppose this is what happens when you raise your head above the parapet…and to reach a wider audience, that’s what I’m going to have to do!  

So, as I launch myself onto a platform for all to survey, I can only hope that less eggs are thrown than flowers.  It’s nerve racking sharing something which has become such a part of me.  But even more so, those of you who have been kind enough to buy my book, I don’t want to let you down! 

To download a copy:

Paperback and audiobook to follow soon.  

Madness and Meltdowns

The story of my life really. If you ask me to sum it up in three words it would be that.  A life, which so far, has let me on a ridiculous path of hilarity, sadness and the downright bizarre.  And it wasn’t until I found myself talking out loud to myself yesterday, that I realised how being slightly bonkers was saving my sanity.

This week.  Week two of lockdown.  Well, it’s been an interestingly busy and stressful week for someone who has only left the house for a covid test, and to Tescos where I thought ‘there’s just not enough wine to sort me out at the minute’.  A week where I have been knee deep in detoxing, battled a cold, which then went! (Seems the detox and extra vitamins are working), and where my book formatting went to shite and all I wanted to do was throw it away and pretend I’d never even thought about writing a novel.  

First world problems, I’d agree.  This was not lost on me whilst I scrubbed my kitchen clean (the middle one informed me it ‘needed a deep clean’…)in a blind haze (I have to touch and clean everything because I can’t actually see properly – I could feel the dirt though and it was shamefully disgusting).  And realised, whilst reorganising my spice rack (oh how my weekends have changed) that the rabbit hole of insecurity and madness I was heading down, was almost certainly a ‘long standing behavioural pattern’ , which I had historically fallen into before.

Alarm bells rang…

CBT  was something my therapist taught me about last year.  I’m sure most of you know what it’s about, but it isn’t until you face an ‘episode’ of despair and that feeling that you can’t cope (three glasses of that vat of wine in and I’d fallen asleep.  The next morning a hangover!  The detox had broken me), that you truly get what to do.  You see, even as I was stuffing my face with hummus crisps – I know, hardcore dirty food right! And drinking that first glass of wine, I knew none of it would help.  I knew that others things such as: meeting friends, going out for a change of scene, going to my mum and dad’s for a cuppa – well I couldn’t do any of them.   Stupid covid. I had to rely on my ingenuity to find a way through.  CBT meant change and flexibility…

Now don’t get me wrong.  This wasn’t the first time I’ve used it.  I have had to think about my sessions quite often in the past year.  My friend and I sometimes talk about the ‘catastrophising’ which I am prone to.  The way I think the worst case scenario will always happen when in actual fact it rarely does.  My lovely therapist taught me to think about best and worst case scenarios and tell myself it’ll be somewhere in the middle – or even closer to the best.  Positivity and optimism is the key here apparently.  With a bit of realism thrown into the mix.

So, digging deep I started making lists.  

Last week, amid the loneliness of teaching from a virtual classroom (I miss 3D people with flesh and bones), the crappy weather; my aching poorly bones; my ‘publishing problems’…well the diary remained pretty much untouched.  I felt stuck.  Starved of plans for the future…oh, and my house was descending into a mucky mess due to me being superglued to my laptop and my poorliness (all I can do is watch whilst the scruffy lot LEAVE EVERYTHING OUT!  Although, I’m getting good at ‘mute’ shouting orders  ‘unmute’).  Well guys, I just didn’t know what to do.  

And don’t even get me started on the news…

So CBT and happy places.  Away from nasty Covid and the Trump shit-storm…all the hate, headlines, negativity.  

Lists, lists, lists…the diary is filling and it feels good.  

  1. I made a playlist called ‘Happiness’ and shared it.  It’s a beauty of four and a half hours of tunes, which feel like drinking from my lovely, and ever growing ‘Pukka tea’ collection.  
  2. I have reordered my kitchen to suit me.  I can now see better in there and (hoping) I get less bruises and break less plates and glasses, due to its new configuration.
  3. I’ve also broken my aim of not shopping in January, by buying some things which make me smile.  A very inexpensive few frivolities and it appears I’m sleeping sounder and more relaxed.
  4. But, the one thing I have found is that as much as I miss ‘people’ I also miss my own space.  I adore my family and never want to be without them,  I also realised the need for ‘alone time’,  someone physically or mentally I can take myself for a while to reflect and think.  I’ve found it’s very easy to all get caught up with each other’s dresses and strains; breeding a confined environment of tension.  After all, up until last March, I think the longest any of us has sent together for a prolonged period of time had been the family holiday!  We are used to the busy.  We were used to not sitting down…I escape by writing, reading, exercising, walking on the beach, cooking, long baths and a face mask…me time.  Oh, and that talking out loud to oneself – never underestimate the value of a little madness.  

I think it’s easy to forget in the midst of madness and meltdowns, that’s it’s okay to not be okay.  Not only should you be kind to others, you need to be kind to yourself too.  Show yourself some love – it’s not selfish to keep yourself well.  After all, how can we support each other and fight this battle on a nearly empty tank! 

Jump into January

For Christmas, we decided to buy Him’s uncle a smart phone.  Not only that, but we also bought our parents a Google Home each.  All in the hope of helping them communicate with newer technology.  Within the aforementioned family members, there are a few technophobes: members of our family who are reluctant to move with the times.  Whereas one lot managed to go away and ‘work it out’, the others needed technical support.  And as much as it can be commonplace to laugh at ‘oldies’ and technology, their struggles caused them anxiety.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not poking fun or being disparaging about them, instead I’m empathising.  You see, when faced with a ‘challenge’ they needed self belief.  Trying to understand how to address Google – when they’d usually check the television or paper.  And getting their head around a phone that does more than make it call; new territory can be daunting.

We all need self belief.

Self meaning you and what you are.  

Belief being a faith; a trust; confidence.  

Something that it can be difficult to find in this fast-paced world.  

A year ago, my therapist helped me write a list of goals.  This was an activity that was to be integral to the healing of my mental health.  To have this list meant that first I had to understand that I was worth it.  This list included everyday things like keeping fit, gardening, meditating…and bigger things like the completion of writing my book.  And me being me; if it’s on a to-do list, it’s got to be done.

Scary times.

Firstly, to take on such a monumental project, when I was still healing emotionally, I was afraid that I might not be strong enough.  Self doubt and feelings of negativity plagued me at the periphery of my mind: lurking like dark shadows.  A bit like the sick feeling I get when I go running on a ‘bad-sight’ day.  A feeling I have to overcome by pinning my determination to my running vest and putting one Nike in front of another.  And so it went; one chapter after enough…and the story I wanted to write unfolded, became something else, and ended differently to what I ever thought.

Job done.  But not really.

Believe it or not, that was the easy bit.  Losing oneself in writing (don’t judge it’s what happened!), was a safe place to be.  A make believe world, which I can decide the paths and outcomes, without judgement or critique – my head, my world.  The hard bit was what came next…

What came next took more strength, resilience and courage, than I could have given it two years ago.  To submit, reflect, rewrite, take critique…were all, and still are, things that could quite easily send me spiralling backwards into a place of insecurity and hidden refuge.  But I’m persevering…

You see, I’ve had to keep the faith.  At one time I’d have hidden from the idea of being confident.  I’d had scuttled away after my initial shout out of ‘I’ve written a book’ and expected fate to take hold of the situation and miraculously publish the book.  But life isn’t like that is it?  

Books and films are full of flash forwards and miracles – a stretch of the imagination – all to give us a catharsis.  Therefore, to achieve my real life cathartic ending, I’ve had to write my own.  And that’s taken me to gather my growing self belief and to channel it into fulfilling my to-do list.

Therefore, not only has it been written, edited (more than once) and rewritten through critique of not just (gulp) others, but also my own (another big step), But I’ve e even continued (and I’m not ashamed to say) after two rejections.

Now, let me tell you: it’s not been easy!  Each time I’ve fallen, I’ve had to have a strong word with myself and faced it head on.  Armed with my ‘coping strategies (thank you my lovely therapist), ve kept going, and it is now well on its way to being launched by the end of the month.

Now, this strength and courage is hardly up there with what our NHS are doing at this awful time.  However, I still think  it’s worth talking about.  Not so you can give me a clap or medal for my achievement, but because I’ve learnt that it is good to share our successes – especially when fighting that black dog. 

Look around you and think about those who are striving for success.  What motivates them?  What do you think they’ve had to overcome to succeed?   I, for one, can think of many who have beaten the odds to survive.  Most of us won’t know because people don’t always share (unlike me who can at times over share!).

This is one of the main themes of my book: that we never know the full story, only the one we choose to see.  What goes on behind a facade is often hidden.  Even if you think someone is an open book, we never know the true story.  We all have our own and we are in charge of writing it.

So, finding confidence to work that new phone (no matter how many times you ring your nephew without knowing), or if you’re looking at your resolutions, yearly goals list, or even striving for an aspiration 

…take that leap and know that as large or as wide as it feels – anything is possible!

Have an aspirational new year!