Fighting Fear

Fighting Fear: Why ‘Quit While You’re Ahead is the Worst Advice EVER.

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Fight Fear

It’s the butt of many a joke and potentially good advice when you’re in Vegas, but the saying ‘quit while you’re ahead’ is the worst advice you can give to a person. When you’re ahead, quitting is the last thing you should do! When you finally get what you’ve been striving for, after fighting fear and all the rest, why the hell would you quit?

Fighting Fear

Most of us are affected by fear on a daily basis. Fear sits in our minds telling us to be careful, play it safe and not make ourselves look like idiots. Because, let’s face it, nobody enjoys looking like an idiot.

Putting yourself out there is scary. It’s way easier to simply stay home and eat chips than dare to do the things you’ve always wanted to. But by never trying anything new or never daring to push yourself to the next level how can we expect to grow?

The Scary Things are the Most Important

Life is scary. Take it from me. I was that kid who was afraid of EVERYTHING. I was afraid of bees because they may sting, so I was also afraid of walking barefoot on the lawn by association. I was scared of sharks (therefore the ocean), the dark, peeing at night, putting my hand up in class, talking to adults, talking to boys, haircuts, horses, babies and knives. At 13 I was terrified of the dentist and pitched such a fit about going that my mother gave up and I went 10 years without dental care. #stillnofillings

As I got older my list of scary things changed. They became the things I wanted to do but was too scared to try. I was scared to look like a dick. I was scared someone would laugh at me or tell me I was crap. And like most girls after the age of nine, I was scared I was too fat.

After a while though, I started to realise that I was missing out on things. I was so busy being afraid of everything that I wasn’t really growing as a person. I was going about my life but there was now sense of achievement or excitement. Playing it safe was boring A F!

Ever noticed how the things you don’t really care about aren’t scary at all? They’re either fun or necessary. Like hanging out with friends or filling up your car with gas. These things don’t register because they’re not on that special list in your mind – the list of awe.

Living in Awe

When we decide that certain things are too awesome to ever be ours, we push them away. We place them up on a pedestal and gaze at them longingly from afar. But fuck that pedestal. You gotta burn it down!

When we place things up on that pedestal we make them bigger and better than ourselves. It becomes harder and harder to attain those things because our ego is separating them from us.

But the secret is that by simply daring to do those scary things we can start getting rid of the awe around them.

Remember as a kid when you’d beg for Santa to bring you that AMAZING toy. You’d dreamt about how cool it would be for months. You’re sure this toy will change your life. Christmas comes and you are so happy that you finally got that toy. You play with it all day long and then the next day. But you find yourself growing bored. Pretty soon your new Glam Glow Barbie is sitting up on the shelf. You still love it but it’s no longer the unattainable golden egg it was before.

The same thing goes with daring to push yourself out of the comfort zone. When you dare to do it, it eventually becomes the new norm and pretty soon you will be ready to level up again. That is called growth.

Fight Fear

Self Sabotaging Potential Growth Opportunities

Just like Santa, The Universe is always watching. Thoughts are not just confined to our minds – they become things, affecting the energy around us.
When we want something The Universe does its best to bring it to fruition. So when we get given an opportunity that offers to bring us closer to our goals it’s only polite to take it!

Do not let fear sabotage your potential growth opportunities!

Don’t Quit While you’re Ahead

And that brings me to my point. When we finally manage to push ourselves our of comfort zone we must applaud ourselves. The last thing we should do is retreat back into our safe space of playing small.

I’ve found it the past that when I finally get what I want I’m so god damn shocked that I go into a fit of imposter syndrome.
I can’t believe they accepted my article pitch! OMG OMG OMG. This better be the best work I have ever done! OMG. What if it’s not? What if it’s shit?

The fear makes me doubt myself and worst of all it takes the fun out of the process which means suddenly this thing I have wanted for so long isn’t any fun. It becomes an anxious process that actually brings me physical pain. It’s like the self doubt is punching me in the solar plexus chakra (because it probably is!).

Seeing as it’s only human nature to avoid the things that bring us pain it’s not surprising that when it’s all over and done with – even it it’s done well – we may never want to do it again.

What’s more, when we enjoy things we send a signal to The Universe to please send us more of this! But when we create from the place of anxiety and make the process shitty, we tell the Universe to please never send us this again. That’s why it is super important to find a way to enjoy the process!

How to Ensure you enjoy the Process

My favourite tools for helping myself work from a space of calm are exercise, meditation and Emotional Freedom Technique.

Every morning before I start work I go for a walk, a swim or head to F45. There’s just nothing like a hard cardio to clear your mind. Then I come home and do at least 10 minutes of meditation (loving this Kundalini chant RN!), and if I’m feeling particularly anxious about something I use EFT – also known as tapping.

Tapping uses meridian points on the body as well as affirmations to release old emotions and anxieties from the mind and body. You can tap on pretty much any issue from headaches to your attitude with money.

This guided tapping meditation is also very good!

But the truth is you can do whatever the heck you need to do to get into a good space to work from. Dance to loud music, sing, make love or eat chocolate! What ever gets you into the vortex!

 

When you’re ahead, keep pushing

So you did it! You felt the fear and you did it anyway! So now what? Now do not stop! Keep riding that horse! Find a way to do more of what you just did until doing that thing is no longer scary.

10,000 Hours

I am always comforted about what Malcolm Gladwell shared in his book Outliers; 10,000 hours is the amount of time you need to spend doing something in order to become a professional. He goes on to use Bill Gates and the Beatles as examples, both of which definitely hit the 10,000 hours mark well before they hit the big time.

The only way to achieve your goals is to keep going. Don’t quit while you’re ahead. In fact, never quit at all!

 

Full Time Unicorn

Fighting Fear

The Should Voice

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The Should Voice

Every time I sit down, the ‘Should Voice’ starts singing away in my head.

“You should do those dishes you know. They’re sitting there all dirty on the bench. You should  really pack that dishwasher and clean the kitchen. You really should.”

The Should Voice Defined

Should

/ʃʊd/

Verb

 

  1. used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.

 

“She should have been more careful”

“She should not have been so lazy”

Should is one of those awful words that was created purely to make humans feel guilt. Made to apply pressure on the human soul and make us feel bad for daring to sit still and do nothing for one freaking second.

Oh god, I should really shave my legs. I should really fold that washing. I should really go for a run. I should really stop eating carbs. Should should should. Should  you, really?

Who is Your Should Voice?

We all have a Should Voice.

Everyone’s is different. More often than not our Should Voice mimics a parent, grandparent or teacher who was quite self-righteous and had pretty high standards. They likely had their own way of doing things and everything else was “wrong”. Perhaps they were hard to please or tended to be quite judgemental. Either way their perfectionistic energy has attached itself to you. Now, their judgement has become your Should Voice.

My Should Voice – The Old Hag

My ‘Should Voice’ sounds like a pious 80 year old woman. Her voice grinds into my bone marrow and whittles me down until I am forced to act. Forced to get up off my comfy chair, put down my book and partake in some painstaking chore that supposedly I should  be doing.

“You should really mop that floor.” She coos in my ears.

“When was the last time you mopped it? In my day we mopped the floor every week. What would your grandmother think of that un-mopped floor? What would other people think?

Sometimes even when I have just done the things I should  do, she’s still not happy.

“It’s good that you just changed all the bed sheets. But, you really should change them every single week. All mothers should  find time to keep their children’s bed linen freshly changed.”

Who is The Old Hag in my head? And why does she want me to spend my life working like a dog, trying to meet to some immaculate standard of perfection? And for who? Because truth be told, a bit of mess doesn’t really bother me. As long as there are clean clothes and clean dishes, I’m good.

In Defense of The Old Hag

The truth is she really knows nothing else. In her day, you didn’t get out much. You stayed at home, kept the kids inline and you cleaned.

On Sunday you got to go to church which was the highlight of your week. Not because of the joy of worship but because you finally got a chance to gossip! The Old Hag and all the other ladies of the town would gossip like rabid hens.

“Well I popped over to Velma’s place last week and do you know what? The place was a right tip! Dishes on the sink! Windows all smudgy! Goodness me, her poor husband!”

The Old Hag’s biggest fear was for someone to come over unannounced and find her house a mess. So she cleaned. She rubbed her hands raw scrubbing and cleaning. But when she died, no one ever wrote on her gravestone just how clean her house had always been. She was devastated.

The Should Voice

The Hag’s Super Objective

The Hag is not concerned about my well being. She just cares about what other people will think. “What if someone saw the house like this!?” The Hag can’t rest until the house is spotless. She can’t sit still and read a book if there is even one crumb on the table or any little job to do. She sees reading, arts and crafts and drawing as frivolous. “There is always something constructive to be done.” she says.

The poor Old Hag can’t relax.

I don’t want to be like her.

The Secondary Should Voice – The Friend

Most of us will have more than one Should Voice in our heads. Usually one is a voice or reason and the other is a pedantic voice of hyper-perfectionism.

My secondary ‘Should Voice’ is much kinder to me. Instead of a judgemental Old Hag she embodies a caring Friend. A Friend who only wants what is best for me. A Friend who kindly tells me what things I should do to make my life easier in the future.

“You’re really grumpy,” she whispers softly to me. “You should go for a run, you know it will make you feel much better. You haven’t exercised in days, that’s why you feel crappy and your back hurts. That’s why you just want to sit here and watch bad T.V and that’s why you have writer’s block. Go on, you should go for a run.”

While she is still a Should Voice, she is loving. And all she really cares about is me. She doesn’t speak for the faceless other people that I am (according to that old Hag), meant to be trying to impress. She works for me. She works to make me happy, healthy and calm.

Managing the Should Voice

For years I hated both of my Should Voices, because I couldn’t tell them apart.  I thought all they wanted was to make me feel bad. To make me feel lazy, guilty and ashamed. No matter how much I cleaned. No matter how hard I exercised or how many hundreds of words I put on a page each day, the Should Voice was right there judging me. Telling me: “You should really do just a bit more.”

How to tell each Should Voice Apart

Sometimes it can be hard to tell each Should Voice apart. Especially when you are tired but there are still important things to get done. I get particularly confused when my Should Voice tells me to stop writing and cook dinner. I have to really take a moment to make sure that it is the kind voice of The Friend reminding me that it’s best not to let everyone get over hungry.

The best way to know who is who is to listen to what they are telling you to do. Who does it serve? If your Should Voice is telling you to polish your silverware because your Great-Grandmother would be ashamed, who is that really serving? If the should voice is telling you to do some meal prep for the week ahead so you can commit to eating healthy, that is purely for your benefit, so you must be listening to The Friend.

The Should Voice

 

 

Block out the Bad Should Voice and Focus on the Good

Personally, I only want to listen to The Friend. She wants me to keep my house moderately clean so that it is safe and comfortable. But she doesn’t want me to waste my life cleaning because she knows there are plenty of other things I have to offer the world that are much more important. She wants me to fly through life easily and happily managing to somehow juggle everything effortlessly. So, she gives me little tips here and there.

Once I had distinguished who was who, it was much easier for me to figure out if I wanted to listen to those should voices; I could filter out the caring from the callous.

“You should really iron those sheets.”

Shut up Hag! Only freaks iron sheets! I’ve got books to write. Get a freaking hobby old lady!

 

“You should stop watching this ridiculous show and write some of that novel.”

Yes, you are right. I really should, my friend.

Full Time Unicorn

Full Time Unicorn

 

Mental Health

The Importance of Endurance

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endurance

When I hear the word endurance I think of sports. I think of athletes who drink Gatorade and push their bodies to the extremes. I think of marathon runners and Sir Edmund Hillary. Incredible people in the peak of physical fitness. 

But endurance is not merely a physical thing. In order to persist at anything hard, exhausting and strenuous we must have strong mental and emotional endurance as well. 

No matter how many affirmations we say every morning, or how many crystals we keep under our pillow, there will be times in life when we’ll need to endure something painful. It could be heartbreak, grief, anger, disappointment or rejection. It could be illness, depression or anxiety. 

Endurance Defined

endurance

/ɪnˈdjʊər(ə)ns,ɛnˈdjʊər(ə)ns,ɪnˈdʒɔːr(ə)ns,ɛnˈdʒɔːr(ə)ns/

noun

noun: endurance

  1. the ability to endure an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.”she was close to the limit of her endurance”
  2. the capacity of something to last or to withstand wear and tear.

Simply, endurance means having the ability to maintain discomfort for as long as possible. It means trusting that the fight will soon be over and all you need to do is keep going. Endurance means not giving up. Your body may be burning, your heart may be aching, but you ride the wave until it passes.

Creativity and Endurance

For a creative person daring to send your work out into the world, endurance is vital. Everyday I send out query letters to literary agents in the hope that one of them will say yes to representing my YA novel. The reality could be that I will get to 100 rejections before I get an agent. It is not an easy process and every rejection stings just a tiny bit. But, the only options are to either give up or to endure. 

The acting industry is a fickle wench. I have been at this game for as long as I can remember. Yes, the rejection is hard. Yes, it is frustrating to be told you almost got the lead role. I could throw my toys. I could throw in the towel. But then what? Choosing not to throw my hat in the ring when the cool jobs come up would be just plain boring! So I endure. 

Mental Health and Endurance

Endurance is super important when life gets hard. The black dog might show up or that damn tiger of anxiety. Everything can feel heavy and pointless and hopeless. 

Mental illness is a disease that can be fatal. That’s where the importance of endurance comes in. During those times, when you are really struggling, it’s important you reach out. Tell a loved one you are not okay. Go to you GP to talk about your options. See a therapist. But it is the ability to endure discomfort that is the most valuable.

When I find myself in that dark place I tell myself that I know it is not forever. I remind myself that I have been here before and just like last time I will get through it. I be kind to myself and take every moment as it comes. When I feel like I can’t safely endure anymore, I ask for help. 

Parenting and Endurance

Yeah, kids and babies are cute and parenting is super rewarding. However, raising little ankle biters is not without its challenges! 

Nothing is as testing to your patience as parenting. Asking your child to put on their shoes for the seventh time without yelling takes magical self control. Doing it for years at a time with very little sleep takes endurance. 

I cannot count the times I wanted to run away with the circus when my children were little and omnipresent. But I didn’t because my kids needed me. I had to find a way to endure the frustration and mind numbing repetitively that came with caring for small “spirited” children. 

Endurance

Emotional Endurance

When we are hurt, upset or angry it is hard to continue with daily life. It becomes hard to be productive or do simple tasks. This is more common amongst Highly Sensitive People. 

Basically, the energy we use experiencing extreme emotions is exhausting. But with the skill of endurance we can dig deep, breathe and keep on going. 

This does not mean disconnecting from our feelings. It is more about accepting how we feel and choosing to work through it. It means having the ability to sit with our hard feelings instead of choosing to numb them with food, alcohol, spending money, or cancelling the day to watch Netflix. 

Physical Endurance

I was never a sporty child. 

In primary school I was always last picked for P.E class and as a teenager my friend and I stashed snacks in our bras so we’d have something to do while we walked the cross country. 

I had no desire to endure physical discomfort because I simply saw no point in it. 

But recently something has changed.

Enjoying Physical Endurance

I have joined the F45 cult and now I am hooked. Five to six times a week, for 45 minutes, I partake in box jumps, burpees, heavy lunges and pull ups. Yes, it is hard. No, I don’t particularly enjoy it at the time. But after the class I am in The Vortex!

The physical endurance is real. I have to work hard to keep my mind focused enough to make my body keep going. I have to egg myself on, even repeat mantras to distract myself from the burning pain in my muscles. I have to go deep into the zone to push through that fourth one minute set when my body is screaming for me to stop. 

Emotionally, I have to work to quiet the voices of self judgement:

“You’ll never be able to do a box jump because you are too unfit.”

“OMG. Pussy! You are too scared to jump up on that box.”

“Does your knee really hurt or are you just slacking off?”

“Everyone knows you are not working hard enough.”

“You’ll never improve. Give up!”

 I hear these voices of self doubt but I cannot let them in. I simply need to endure them while I am busy physically enduring the workout. 

Endurance

The Physical/Emotional Endurance Connection

It’s been just under four weeks since I started training with F45. I have never felt so calm in my life. I feel more patient with the kids and less snippy and resentful when it comes to cleaning the toilets (I live with three boys who have bad aim).

Emotionally I feel more balanced. I still feel a range of emotions but when the hard ones roll in I sit with them until they roll out again. I don’t try to hide from them or numb myself. I endure. 

Every time I feel a strong emotion I find myself going to the same place I do during a hard workout. A calm zone where I accept each second of discomfort as it comes. It is a very powerful place to be. 

Challenging your Endurance Limits

The more we sit in these places of discomfort the easier they become to endure. 

When I first started doing planks I could barely hold out for 30 seconds let alone the 2 minute goal. Now I can hold on for 1 minute 30 before the burn becomes too much. 

The same goes for emotional endurance. It’s important to know your limits. But I find the more I sit with my discomfort the better I become at it. I hold out. I breathe. I stare it in the face and I take every second as it comes. 

Full Time Unicorn

Mental Health

Anxiety and Alcohol

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Anxiety Alcohol

My true underlying problems with anxiety and alcohol began from a very early age. I was a shy child. In new places I’d hide behind my mothers legs, trying to curtain myself off from the world in her long flowing skirts. In class I’d try to blend in, sitting crossed legged on the mat. When the teacher asked a question I was too scared to put up my hand – even if I knew the answer. Speaking to adults damn near gave me hives, so if I didn’t understand something I wouldn’t ask the teacher for help. 

Anxiety Stole my Tongue

As I got older my shyness got worse. So bad that it was eventually classed as anxiety. I was too scared to catch a bus or train because I might get lost and have to ask for help. The thought of that gave me heart palpitations. What if people saw me getting confused and muddled? What if they laughed at me? I would melt into a muddle of shame! 

My early teens were a total nightmare. I was fine in my tight group of friends but I could hardly speak to anyone else. If I had a crush on anyone my throat would fill with concrete and I couldn’t utter a single word. Sometimes I made weird inhuman noises. 

Anxiety and Music Class

One low point came when a cute guy in my music class struck up a conversation with me. He told me he was going to the Big Day Out. I was in awe. I desperately wanted to go to the Big Day Out and oh imagine if I was brave enough to ask if he wanted to go together! I wanted to say “awesome!” or  “cool!” but instead I smiled widely and said, ‘AWWK!’ Which I assume was some odd hybrid of the two. He looked at me sideways. I was mortified. Instead of explaining myself I decided it was best if I just ran away. So I did. I ran out of class and hid in the toilets until the bell rang. 

My shyness also sabotaged my school work and changed the course of my life. In my first year of high school I studied music. I enjoyed it but I was intimated by the other students and was terrified of live performance. Despite this I still scored an A grade and 85% on my final exam. But the anxiety and shyness forced me to give it up and so the following year I did not do music. I often wonder what would have happened if I had continued with music at school. I’ve never gotten 85% for any test since. 

Anxiety Alcohol

What is this Crazy Town?

I was 14 when my father got a job in a new city. If there’s one thing that’s worse than being a shy anxious teenager, it’s moving to a completely new city as a shy anxious teenager! 

Off we went from Hamilton to Wellington. This new world sent me into a tail spin. On my first trip into the city I witnessed a group of girls dancing around a strange fountain made of buckets as if it were some kind of shrine. They were dressed oddly. One wore what appeared to be a dress made from an old bedspread and another, a statin nightgown my granny would wear, cinched at the waist with a studded belt. There were girls with shaved heads and boys with long hair in pigtail braids. What was this crazy town!

It was so foreign to me and oh so alluring! I could do anything here! The rules could be broken. I could wear whatever I wanted. I could be my true self! But who on Earth was that?

Anxiety: The Identity Crisis

My 14 year old identity crisis sent my anxiety into full force. I wanted to have the balls to dress like Gwen Stefani-cum-Courtney Love but I also didn’t want to attract attention. Big Problem. So what did I do? I embraced my new fashion choices but I built a wall around me. Resting Bitch Face became my norm and instead of smiling I scowled. I was a super hip mute.

It wasn’t long until I attracted some like-clothinged friends. But I would never know if we were like minded because I was too scared to talk to them. They invited me to a party and that’s where I met my new best friend – Loretta. 

Anxiety and Alcohol

After making my way to a house in Art Valley I was promptly offered a beer. Then a cask of wine and another few beers. Pretty soon I was drunk off my tits. And I wasn’t Lisette anymore! Oh no. I was different. I was The Best Version of Me! I could finally drop the stern facade. I could talk! Oh how I could talk.

The words followed off my lips like honey. All those words I’d been holding in were so happy to finally be free! People laughed at my jokes and I felt like I could be my true self.

Anxiety Alcohol

My drunken Alter Ego

The next morning when I woke up I was me again. The Best Version of Me had slipped out the door like a lover after a shameful one night stand. As the night’s revellers all awoke they grinned at me, expecting me to snap to it and carry on with last night’s banter. But  the magic was was gone. 

After the first appearance (and then disappearance) of the Best Version of Me I learned how to mimic her after she had gone. Just enough to keep me talking. 

Everybody Loves Me

As the years went on I relied on alcohol for every social engagement. It was how I made friends. People who were on the fence about me quickly became chums after they had a night out with The Best Version of Me. She was fun. She was wild. She would dance in the street and go skinny dipping in the sea. She would waltz up to a handsome young man and demand he buy her a drink!

Alcohol helped me lose my virginity. If it were not for a bottle of Vodka and the subsequent lustful confidence it may have stayed intact until my 20s.  I mean how could anyone be sexy without being drunk? How could anyone flirt or make a move when they were sober?

Good Things Go Bad

I loved Alcohol. It had helped me to do so much. But somewhere along the way things started to get out of hand. Instead of helping to do things I couldn’t do whilst sober, it started to make me do things I would never do whilst sober. The Best Version of Me was turning bad.

What’s more, once I started drinking I could not stop. This meant that the line between The Best Version of Me and The Worst Version of Me was becoming very, very blurred.

Drunk Me Becomes a Jackass

While some people still thought I was a hoot when I was drunk, others were tiring of her antics. Sober people in particular thought I was a jackass. 

“You called the bouncer a cunt,” my sober-driver friend told me the night after a bender. 

“No, what? Are you sure?”

“I was right there. He said you were too drunk to come in so you called him a cunt and you jumped over some little bonsai trees to get in. Your stiletto got stuck and you fell over.”

“That must be how I got the bruise.”

“I can’t believe you did that. It was so embarrassing.”

I felt terrible but at the same time I felt like sober people should never be allowed to hang out with drunk people. They were like spies; collecting information to hold against you later.

The truth was I regularly couldn’t remember the things they claimed I’d done. All I knew was that when I drank my anxiety went away.

Anxiety Alcohol

Alcohol Becomes my Saboteur

There is a big difference between being a drunken oversharer amongst your BFFs in a nightclub bathroom and doing the same in conversation with your boss and other influential people in your industry. That’s when I knew it was time for alcohol and I to go our separate ways.

The wake up call came on a Sunday when I was enduring yet another hangover and my parents had dragged me along to a friend’s 50th. 

A Shameful Drunken Oversharer

There was a woman there who we did not know but after a few drinks we could have been her besties. She stumbled up to our table and started telling us all about her life. By the end of her 20 minute tirade I knew the names of all her siblings, where they all lived and all the mean things they had ever done to her. 

As she waddled away (to refill her glass) a hot hard feeling was brooding in my throat and tingling my cheeks. It was shame. I felt ashamed for her. It was so painfully obvious that now, after far too many drinks, she felt confident enough to spill her guts to three complete strangers. And the worst thing was I felt sorry for her, because I was her in 30 more years. 

Friend or Foe?

It was at that moment I realised that alcohol hadn’t been a friend to me at all. And The Best Version of Me had been the complete opposite. She had a manifestation of my anxiety disorder. I had come to rely on her to get me through social situations. But all it had really done was mask the anxiety and shyness that I still possessed.

It was time I started learning how to be myself without dutch courage.

Anxiety Alcohol

Learning to be My True Self, Sober.

Now days I never drink to calm my nerves, feel relaxed in social situations or to feel more confident. I drink occasionally to celebrate a special occasion and I don’t often have more than once drink in a sitting.  To be honest, I rarely drink these days at all. I find even a small amount of alcohol kills my vibe the next day. And if I want to live a High Vibe Unicorn Life then I need all the energy I can get! 

Alcohol – A False Sense of Confidence

When we rely on alcohol and other drugs to give us confidence or calm us down we are giving away our power. We are not solving the problem. We are not coming to terms with what the issue really is, we are simply masking the symptoms. 

Next time you reach for a drink, stop and ask yourself why you are having it. Is it because you’re tired, stressed, angry, overwhelmed? Or is it because there’s someone inside you, itching to get out? The answer may surprise you. 

Full Time Unicorn

Creative Industries

How to Write a Book

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How to Write a Book

A few years ago I had an idea. A very powerful idea. One that kept me awake at night and gnawed away at me from the inside. It was an idea for a book that my inner being told me I simply must write. Write a book! It sang to me. Write a book! So on long nights of insomnia I would lay awake plotting and planning. And that’s how it began.

Of course, it took me almost a year to actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and start writing. Because my mind was clouded by my own limiting beliefs. I can’t write a book! I haven’t studied creative writing! This idea is silly. I don’t even have the whole story planned out in my head yet. My head was so full of self doubt that it took the influence of my BFF writing her own first book to finally get me into action.

One thing is for sure. If I’d known how long it would take, how many re-writes I would do, how many adjustments I would make and how many bouts of self doubt I would have to tackle, I probably would never have started.

But now, here I am, with a completed young adult, modern fantasy novel of 85,000 words, ready for the literary agent query process. I have written a book. So how did I do it?

How to Write a Book: Step 1 – The Idea

You could be anywhere when it comes to you; gardening, at the supermarket, stuck in traffic or my personal favourite – listening to Radio NZ and doing the dishes. Out of nowhere it descends upon you. You can almost feel it settling on your shoulders like dewy mist. You have an idea. A great idea. An idea so amazing it gives you goosebumps.

Getting an idea is like a spiritual experience for me – like being graced with the presence of a deity or divine being. It sends me into a sudden sweat and causes me to mutter “fuck” under my breath.

In tarot, the ace of wands symbolises the exciting energy of a new idea. The spark of inspiration that floods you with motivation and oomph.

The trick is to hold onto the power of the idea long enough for you to use it. Sometimes that power can be fleeting; if you don’t sit down with it immediately its energy will float away to someone else. But other ideas are more persistent. They need you, and only you, to bring them to fruition.

As Elizabeth Gilbert explains in Big Magic, an idea is the very beginning of the creative process. Without it the creative process simply doesn’t exist. But Ideas, as wonderful as they are, are not complete in themselves. They need us to bring them into the material world.

“Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

I had my idea for two years before I finally accepted that it wasn’t going to leave until I used it. Or until it found someone else willing to take it on. After two years of hanging out with my idea I couldn’t just let it float off to someone else! Someone who didn’t understand it. It was mine!

I made a deal with the idea that it was us together. Two peas in a pod. We were going to do this. But that’s when the my inner critic decided she had something to say…

How to Write a Book: Step 2: Tell your Inner Critic to Fuck off

My inner critic was not chuffed with me and my idea getting cozy together. She was concerned. She had our reputation in mind, our time and energy. She didn’t want me spending all that time trying to write a book only to fail! What if you find out you can’t do it? What if you never finish it? What if you tell everyone and then lose interest and it becomes just another one of those things you never achieved? What if you do finish it but it sucks and no one will publish it? You could make a fool of yourself! I think it’s best if you just clean your house instead. A clean house never hurt anyone.

I would like to say I found it easy to ignore her. But I didn’t. Her messages of self doubt were loud and distracting. It took me a long time to realise that she was always going to be there but I had the power to tell her to shut the fuck up.

How to Write a Book

How to Write a Book: Step 3 – Decide if you are a Plotter or a Pantser.

Plotters are writers that plot everything out before they even start their book. Pantsers are writers who just dive on in with their idea and ‘write by the seat of their pants’.

I am a plotter, open to some pantsing in between. Personally, I highly recommend doing some basic plotting before you start writing. Knowing your setting, season, characters and basic premise BEFORE YOU START is super helpful. I only know this because I dove in with most of these things undecided and every time I got to a place where I had to make a decision I was halted in my tracks, forced to go back and do research and make decisions.

However, maybe you have to write one book the wrong way before you can learn what kind of writer you are.

How to Write a Book: Step 4 – Start Writing

This is actually the easiest part of the whole process. Just fucking start. If you’ve committed to plotting give yourself a time limit. Set a date on the calendar. But the thing is if you don’t actually start you’ll NEVER have a book.

How to Write a Book: Step 5 – Allow Yourself to Fuck it Up/Learn

I have a saying I tell my kids when they are doing something for the very first time: The first time’s the worst time. Basically, you’ve gotta start somewhere and, while you may be impressed with how you’re going straight off the bat, remember – the only way is up. You can truly only get better from here on in. It’s both comforting and terrifying but you have to accept it to allow yourself to begin the learning process.

How to Write a Book: Step 6 – Cry

I feel like at this stage, if you haven’t already, it’s probably time to have a cry. Trying new things is scary and hard. There’s a whole monologue of self doubt voices in your head telling you that you can’t do it. If you’re lucky, that magical Ace of Wands feeling will be strong enough to drown out the doubt. But for most of us those nasty inner critic voices are loud and mean. If you feel them slowing you down, telling you to quit or forcing you to overthink every word, stop and let it out. Cry. Let them tears roll down your cheeks. Let that shit go so you can move forward. There ain’t no point holding on to those tears – there will be plenty more to shed later on in the process.

How to Write a Book

How to Write a Book: Step 7 – Commit to the Shitty First Draft

Being able to commit to the shitty first draft is the most important part of truly committing to your project. In my opinion the best approach is to smash out that shit. It’s like ripping off a Bandaid. The quicker you do it the easier it is. Bang. It. Out.

Set yourself a daily word count target and do whatever it takes to meet it. I find getting up at 5am to be my most successful writing time. My mind is still in the world of dreams and my kids are still (hopefully) asleep. I can smash out 3000 words before breakfast – but not after.

How to Write a Book: Step 8 – Keep Writing

In order to complete the shitty first draft, you must KEEP WRITING. There will be times when you feel confused, tired, doubtful. But under no circumstances are you to give up and stop half way through. Believe me, a complete shitty first draft is 10 times better than a half-finished shitty first draft.

In my opinion the best thing to do is set aside six to eight weeks to write your first draft. You must finish the whole thing in one go but it is okay to leave some gaps if you must. Then, once it’s done, stick that ugly baby in a drawer for six weeks and fuggetaboutit! Under no circumstances should you re-read what you have written until the six weeks waiting period is up. It will only make you cry again – which is far too soon.

How to Write a Book: Step 9 – Read Shitty First draft

This could very well be the hardest part of the process. There is a reason we call it the shitty first draft. After reading it you will see about 90% shit and 10% gold. You will doubt your abilities as a writer and as a human. Which leads to Step 10…

How to Write a Book: Step 10 – Cry

Yes. It’s that time again. Cry. It is okay to cry. You are sad because you hate your work and you obviously have no idea how to use basic grammar because you found so many ridiculous errors. But that is okay. It can only get better from here. This is the worst it will ever be. The very fact that you have found so many errors and awful sentences means that you have the skills to make it better.

How to Write a Book

How to Write a Book: Step – Polish that Turd

The best way to polish a turd is in real life, so that means print that puppy out, in double lined spacing and sit down by the fire with a stiff drink and a highlighter. It’s time to polish your baby turd.

-Make the first page a slap in the face
-Get rid of needless words
-Adverbs are not as cool as they seem
-Show don’t tell
-Don’t repeat information to the reader
-Keep them on their toes
-If it doesn’t progress the story, develop characters or conflict, do you really need it?

I found some awesome tips in Self Editing for Fiction Writers and Stephen King – On Writing.

How to Write a Book: Step – Make Changes then Give it Another Coat of Polish

Yep, that’s right. Once you’ve made all the changes it’s time to read through it all again. It can also help to read it out loud – that way you can hear when things don’t sound quite right.

How to Write a Book: Step – Cut the Emotional Chord

I understand how hard it can be to let go. But in order to make this book the best it can be you are going to have to learn to distance your self from your work. The next step in the process is going to involve opening yourself up to feedback. Honest feedback. Feedback basically means telling you all the things that are wrong with your work. All the mistakes you have made. And all the silly things that don’t quite make sense. But feedback is the THE MOST IMPORTANT AND HELPFUL THING YOU CAN GET.

So before you set out to get feedback, remind yourself that this is something you created but it is not you. The bones of it are the magic, now allow the universe to help you do that magic justice.

How to Write a Book: Step – Beta Readers

Now it’s time to send out the call for beta readers. Some people use friends and family but I would select people who are interested in the genre and market of your book. I wouldn’t ask my Dad to read my YA fantasy book because he would hate it regardless of quality. The best beta readers are people you don’t know because they are more likely to give you honest feedback. Try people from your book club, writers group or your High School English teacher friends. Select at least five beta readers so you get a wide range of opinions.

How to Write a Book: Step – Receive Feedback/Cry

Even though you previously cut the chord it is still hard take feedback on something you have given your soul to. It is okay to cry. It is okay to give yourself a day of Netflix binging to process all the things that are wrong with your book. You probably can’t get your head around them right now and have no idea how on Earth you will fix the problems. Don’t panic. Just relax and get back to it tomorrow.

How to Write a Book: Step – Implement Feedback

Now, you do not have to implement all feedback. Some opinions come down to the individual and at the end of the day this is your book. If one person suggests something you don’t agree with you don’t have to use their input. If 10 people suggest the same thing, you might want to consider it.

How to Write a Book: Step – Proof Read that Sucker

This is where you can ask anyone and everyone to read your little bastard of a book. You don’t really care if it’s their thing – because you are officially detached emotionally. Now you just need to make it tidy and tight. The more people read over it the more typos they will find. You want that bad boy looking as spick and span as possible.

You could at this stage hire an editor to check and format your book perfectly in prep for the next fabulous stage….

How to Write a Book: Step – Query Literary Agents

Now that brings me to my current nightmare stage; the agent query stage. If you thought writing the book was hard, try dealing with the slow and painful waiting game of querying agents! I can’t really complain. I’ve only been in this stage for six months and I’m less than 20 submissions deep. I’ll keep you posted!

How to Write a Book: Step – Start your Next Book

So this is where I’m at. My first book is currently complete and awaiting representation and publication. We have now learnt that writing books is not for sissies. It is hard and painful. But because we are silly and sadistic we can’t help but do it all again! So why not start book number two!?

Full Time Unicorn

 

 

Body Image

What Does your Self Esteem Depend on?

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Self Esteem

What does your self esteem depend on?

Perhaps you have a pretty face, pert booty or awesome boobs. You know this because other people have told you. They’ve complimented you and narrowed their eyes at you in feigned, or genuine, envy.

You kinda like that people wish they had your face/butt/boobs because it makes you feel good about yourself. Even in your darkest moments you can mutter to yourself “At least I have a smokin’ ass.

But what if one day you look in the mirror and no longer like what you see? What if your booty starts to sag, your babies suck the life out of your awesome boobs and your face becomes pitted and creepy with time’s gentle touch? Will you know that you’re still amazing, that you’re still the same fantastic person? Or will you feel lost, worthless, like your one shining star has been snuffed out?

Self Esteem Defined

Self esteem is defined as: Confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self respect. 

But where does this worth come from?

In order for us to inhabit true self esteem it must not come from external sources. If we allow our self esteem to depend on things like our job, looks, possessions or wealth, what are we left with if due to some means outside of our control we suddenly lose this thing that seems to define our worth?

Self Esteem

My Self Esteem Dependence

When I was around 21 I liked how I looked. I knew I looked good because people told me so. I also knew I looked good because when I went out on the town with my girlfriends, guys would hit on me. They’d buy me drinks, ask for my number, or grind up against me on the dance floor. 

Sometimes I would roll my eyes at their advances and run off into the night giggling with my friends. Other times I would go home with them. But one thing was certain: Every time a male showed an interest in me I felt good about myself. It was a subtle ego stroke, a pat on the head, a gentle reminder that I was still hot, so therefore, valid. 

Self Esteem Dependence Starts with Lack

So where did this need come from? This desperate urge to receive male approval? Well more often than not we seek to rest our self esteem on the very place it has been lacking. 

For me it was my looks. Due to a history of disordered eating and poor body image, largely inspired by my father’s ingrained beliefs, I craved the attention and approval of men. If they thought I was beautiful and attractive then I was worthy. I had merit. 

On the nights where I went out and did not receive attention from men, I had failed. I had obviously gained weight or chosen an unflattering outfit. Suddenly in my eyes I became unattractive and therefore a fat and ugly failure. 

Learned Behaviour

I know it sounds crazy but when you are raised to believe that thin people are better than fat people and that the worst thing a girl can possibly be is unattractive, then this becomes your reality. When you are told that any woman with a brain and an opinion is a “cunt” then you dare not be like them. You do your best to become “cool girl” and allow yourself to be the object in all situations around men, instead of the subject.

Self Esteem

True Love

Childhood trauma aside, eventually I met an amazing guy who I am still in love with today. He held completely different views to the ones I had be raised with, and slowly I began to realise that there was so much more to me than just my looks. 

However, after a few years of living in domestic bliss I realised that I had lost confidence in myself. I was still happy but I had gained a little weight – the love-puff – and this made me question if I was still “good enough”. I wanted to be my my lover’s “hot girlfriend”, you know, the kind of girlfriend that makes his friends jealous. But now I was becoming The Girl Who Got a Boyfriend and Let Herself Go.

Love Cocoon

I had been so wrapped in our love cocoon that I’d lost contact with the outside world. I’d stopped going to the gym, stopped painting and doing plays. I’d also stopped going out clubbing with my friends which meant I was no longer receiving the approval of other males. I mean, I didn’t need that anymore if I had a boyfriend, right? Having a boyfriend meant I was hot. 

Realisation

Then it dawned on me. Not only had I lost confidence because I was no longer receiving attention from a range of men every weekend, but now I was allowing my self esteem to rest upon the fact that I had a boyfriend. Suddenly it all fell into place in my mind. Believe it or not, I had been completely oblivious to the fact that my self esteem had rested so precariously on these external sources. 

The Danger of Resting our Self Esteem on External Sources

When we allow our self esteem to depend on external factors we are potentially setting ourselves up to fail. The new car will get old. The money may get spent. The beauty possessed by a young woman will fade. The high paid job can disappear in a financial recession which can force us to sell the Big House and pull our kids out of the Best School.  

Self Esteem

Our worth, our true unyielding power must come from within. And it does. 

Everything we are, everything we do, say, imagine and create is 100% unique to us. We are a one off masterpiece. There is no one on this planet exactly like us. Our true authenticity is our power! 

Most of us waste this power by trying to be somebody else, by finding a mould outside of ourselves and trying to force ourselves into it. We compare ourselves to others and then feel worthless because we are different. OUR DIFFERENCE IS OUR POWER.

When we allow ourselves to pick holes in who we are, we then feel the need to plug those holes with something, anything, to make us feel whole again. In my case I smeared plaster over my poor body image, in the form of approval from drunken horny men. I let them make an object out of me and I let it define my worth. 

 

The Solar Plexus Chakra

The Solar Plexus chakra, known in Sanskrit as Manipura, is located in the upper part of the abdomen, near the diaphragm. Manipura, which translates as ‘city of gems’ or ‘seat of jewels’ is associated with the colour yellow. It’s element is fire and it symbolises the sun. 

Manipura governs personal power, will, self esteem, independence, personal identity, self assurance, confidence and self discipline. It allows us the confidence to learn, make decisions and voice our opinions.

Self Esteem

Manipura: The Shining Sun

Basically, Manipura is a bright shining sun in the centre of your body. It is your inner jewel, your key stone, the symbol and physical embodiment of your self esteem. 

Manipura Blocked

When Manipura is blocked or disconnected we can suffer from low self esteem, depression and/or anxiety, we may become codependent and needy, we also begin to lack self control which makes us more susceptible to addiction. 

The real concern about having a blocked Solar Plexus Chakra is that we may try to correct the blockage with numbing agents or outside sources – such as money, clothes and other material possessions.

Unblocking Manipura

Manipura can be unblocked through meditation and diaphragmatic breathing. 

Manipura Meditation:
self esteem
Image Credit: http://www.chakras.info/solar-plexus-chakra/

Sit cross-legged with a straight spine and your palms facing up, resting on your knees. Take 10 slow deep breaths, counting one on the inhale and two on the exhale, three on the inhale and so on. 

In your mind’s eye, visualise the Manipura Symbol (above). See a warm shining sun emanating from your upper abdomen. Feel the warm, healing energy fill your whole belly, then spread upwards, outwards and downwards. Allow this sensation to fill you with power. If you would like to use a silent mantra try: “I shine like the sun.”

This meditation may only take five minutes and can be a great, worthwhile addition to your morning routine.

Diaphragmatic breathing

Stand with your feet wide. Bend your knees and lean forward pressing your hands on your knees. Take a deep breath, filling your diaphragm so that your upper abdomen expands. Opening your mouth and take five fast short breaths: out-in, out-in, out-in, out-in, out-in. Allow the diaphragm to work like a pair of fire bellows – as soon as one breath leaves, another is sucked in almost automatically. After the final in-breath allow the last breath to blow out long in a gentle ‘ha’ sound. Repeat this exercise three times, taking a small break in between each set. 

Food and Gems

As Manipura is associated to the colour yellow it can be activated by eating yellow foods – pineapple, mango, turmeric – and by wearing yellow crystals – citrine, tiger’s eye. As it is also the sun/fire chakra, sitting in the sun and gazing indirectly at the morning sun can also help to restore its balance. 

Finding my Inner Self Esteem

Now, I no longer let my self esteem rest on things like my looks, my clothes, my house-keeping standards or the attention of men. 

I no longer need those things to remind me that I am amazing. In fact, when I go out I find myself actively avoiding the attention of men. Where once I intentionally tried to attract it, I now despise it. The male gaze irritates me as it reminds me of the object I used to allow myself to become. 

Isn’t it ironic? When we’re young we seek the attention of men. We groom ourselves, we compete against other women for it. We assume those painfully beautiful girls revel in it; the wolf whistles, the advances. But, once we’re older and comfortable in our own skin, we realise what a hinderance it is. We’ve got shit to do. We’re taken. We don’t have time to let you down gently. We don’t need your approval anymore.

Our Inner Power Never Falters

When we allow our Self Esteem to come from within it becomes reliable and steadfast. It no longer wavers or fluctuates like the stock market. It shines bright like the sun. Every. Single. Day. 

You are not your beauty. You are not your money or your cool shoes. You are a one of a kind gem, mined from stardust. You are a fabulous collection of atoms, animated by a pure soul, connected to source energy. You are awesome. You are a fucking unicorn. 

Full Time Unicorn

Full Time Unicorn

Fighting Fear

How to Use Your Failure

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use your failure

Failure:

ˈfeɪljə/

noun

noun: failure

  1. Lack of success. “an economic policy that is doomed to failure”

2. The neglect or omission of expected or required action. “their failure to comply with the basic rules”

What is Failure?

Failure is defined by not achieving desired results. This means that when we set out to do something for a specific reason and are unsuccessful in that mission it could, if we were so inclined, be regarded as a failure. 

But failure and success are very binary things. They are black and while. Right and wrong. When experiences are defined by either failures or successes we miss out a whole bunch of important grey area that makes up the fruit of our lives. 

When we set out to achieve a specific single result we are closing ourselves off to the myriad of lessons we can learn by simply engaging in the exercise of taking a chance and having a go. So too, having a rigid image of success can big on a fear of failure which makes it very hard for us to commit to starting anything. 

There are always things in life that don’t go as planned. 

Every Event that Does Not Go as Planned is a Learning Experience

When I was younger family friends of ours bought a restaurant. They were so excited to start something new and fun and their energy was alive with the magic of a new project. They were eager to make big money and live the life. 

A few weeks into the restaurant business they had changed. They seemed stressed and tired and short with their kids. They complained about the early mornings and the stress of the impending lease payments. They were not happy. 

Not surprisingly a few months later they were forced to close the restaurant. They hadn’t made enough to pay the lease. They were devastated. In their eyes they had failed. They had wanted to make big money and they hadn’t. They had lost money. The restaurant was something they never wanted to think about again. 

Does it Make you Happy?

The thing that was so blatantly obvious to me was that they had learned pretty early on that the restaurant business was not making them happy. It wasn’t what they’d thought it would be and they really didn’t enjoy it. Sure they lost the business and endured plenty of stress but they learned that they didn’t enjoy the restaurant business! So that, in itself is a win. 

They could now cross Running a Restaurant off the list of things to try in life, now enlightened with the knowledge that they really didn’t enjoy it. 

Why are we so quick to judge ourself as failed or succeeded? Why do we shun memories of things that didn’t go as planned instead of finding a way to use our “failures” as wins?

use your failure

Learning from my Own Failure

Just before my nineteenth birthday my best friend Mariana moved to Wellington. It was exciting. I’d moved to Wellington from Hamilton four years earlier and we’d kept in regular contact – on the phone or in person when one of us would make the 10 hour journey to stay with the other in the holidays. 

We quickly decided that we would go flatting together. Mariana was enrolled to go to University and I was all set to start drama school. Mariana’s starry-eyed boyfriend (now husband) had decided to make the move with her so we had three flatmates. Two more (friends of his) quickly appeared and we were ready to roll!

After spending a few hungover Sundays partaking in Competitive Flat Hunting, we finally won out and signed the lease on a place not too far from the city. Mariana and the boyf. would share the large bedroom downstairs and the other three of us would take a room upstairs. I got the second biggest room.

Flatting = The Coolest Thing Ever!

All throughout our teenage years we had dreamt of flatting. We’d lay on my bed smoking cigarettes chatting about how cool it would be when we could finally move out and be free over our parents’ rules and expectations. 

“You’ll have to cook,” Mariana would say. “I don’t really cook. I can but I don’t. 

“I can cook,” I reply. “You can make the tea.” 

“I make really good tea. And give good shoulder massages.”

“You do,” I agreed. “You have tiny mighty hands.”

The thing is flatting in New Zealand is kind of a rite of passage. When you finish High School and are about to go off to Uni it’s just common place to go flatting.  A cliche that has been glamorised buy a bunch of Kiwi films like Scarfies (oddly a horror) and reality T.V shows like Flatmates and Big Brother. It was cool to go flatting. Flatting meant you could be your true self and party every night. It meant you were never alone and always had fun exciting people in you house. It meant you could do bucket bongs in the lounge and eat chocolate cake for breakfast!

I would have the best time. I would make my room look awesome. I’d cover the walls in foil like Andy Warhol did in the Factory and fabulous people would engage with me in midnight conversations. I would love it!

Or so I thought. 

Learning About Who I Am

I am an only child. Up until the day I went flatting I had never had to share a bathroom with anyone. I had never had to fight over the T.V with anyone (other than my Dad) and I had never had to share a bedroom either. People always say that only-children are spoiled rotten. It may be true that they get more than kids with siblings but what is true is that they are definitely spoiled with solitude. 

Except in my case solitude did not spoil me at all. As a highly sensitive introvert, having regular solitude nurtured me. It allowed me to dream, to read, to paint and recharge. Of course at the time I didn’t realise how much I needed this time and just how great it was for me. I yearned to live in a home with action! With comings-and-goings, with noise and drama. 

use your failure

My Dream Vs My Reality

At first flatting was great! We threw a dress-up party for our flat-warming party and ordered a keg of beer.  Mariana and I decorated the house with bizarre pictures we cut from old copies National Geographic. We played flat games of Gin Rummy and smoked inside. 

But slowly things became not so fun. 

Ash trays over-flowed with cigarette butts. The smoky air burned my eyes. The stench of it wafted all throughout the house and stained my clothes and bedding with a sour tang. We’d decided to chip in for food all together but it soon turned out that $100 between five did not go far. I craved a decent home cooked meal. The shower grew impressive mould and the toilet was feral. But the most distressing and the most surprising issues of all was: There were always people around!

All my life I’d been sure that being in a flat full of people would be awesome. I had dreamed of this, so why did I feel so miserable? How did living in a house full of people make me feel so lonely?

Partying Every Night Was Not Me

On top of all this was the fact that I was required to be at school every morning by 830am. If there was a party raging in our flat all night long I couldn’t sleep. If I couldn’t sleep it was unlikely I would get up on time to make the bus, or have the focus to do my best in class. 

I was also paying good money on rent. Money I could use on other things if I just moved home and lived rent free with my parents. My parents’ house was the same distance from the city but just in the other direction. 

After much persistence I decided to move home. 

Failing at Flatting

I felt like a failure. I felt like a was too weak to handle the real world and had to run home to mummy and daddy. Why hadn’t I enjoyed it? I was so sure the flatting would be the best, most fun thing I’d ever done. What was wrong with me!?

I allowed this situation to form into my mind as a failure. 

I let myself believe that I had failed at flatting, thus failing to see that instead this had been a major learning opportunity for me!

Learning from It

It wasn’t until much later that I realised that the Universe had been trying to tell me that I was an introvert and that this kind of environment was never going to suit my needs. The fact that I figured that out and decided to move home was actually a huge win. I had not only learned what did not work for me but I had been brave enough to try and then decide it wasn’t right, then make a step to improve my position. 

This and many other situations can easily be viewed as failures. If you assess that you did not quite do or achieve what you had intended to when you began you could well decide it is a failure.  But what if you learned something else? Something truly insightful about yourself that then allowed to live a more authentic life? Would that not be considered a triumph?

Seek the Gain other that the Lack

At any time we have not achieved what we intended we may find ourself only seeking out the lack in the situation. But why not try and seek out the gains? 

I believe that every challenging situation in our lives in The Universe’s way of getting us to learn something about ourselves. Gabrielle Bernstein calls this a Spiritual Assignment. When things don’t go as planned it is the Universe guiding us toward learning something new about the world but mostly about ourselves! The important thing is that if we do not learn the lesson The Universe will keep providing us with similar situations until we do!

I learned from flatting that I did not necessarily like living in home with comings-and-goings after all. I also learned just how important having my own space was to me and that if I don’t sleep and eat well I am not at my best. 

What Have You Deemed a Failure?

What recent situation have allowed yourself to colour as a failure? Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write it down. It can be anything. Maybe you decided not to go to the gym today and then felt bad about it. Maybe you burned the carrot cake you were baking. Maybe an article you submitted to a publication was rejected. What ever it is, write it down. 

use your failure

How can you instead see that situation as a successful learning experience?

Write down any positive learning experience you can take away from this situation. Perhaps you learned that you were really too tired to bake the cake and would have been best served to take some time to relax. Perhaps you didn’t realise that using gluten free flour would make the cake cook so fast – but now you know, you won’t make that mistake again. 

If you didn’t go to the gym perhaps you just didn’t want to but did you spend the time joyfully or were you grumpy for not going? In which case you learned that simply going to the gym makes you feel like you’ve achieved something, which in itself improves your mood. Maybe you’ve also learned that you tend to scold yourself a lot which is not a great way to show yourself love. This could be something you focus on next time in meditation. 

So your article got rejected from one publication. Congratulations! You have now learned what kind of articles that particular publication does not accept. And from listening to your inner self talk you’ve also learned that outside approval and disapproval has a huge bearing on your self esteem. 

The Only True Failure is a Failure to Embrace Learning

When we become so focused on setting goals and making perfect plans, we close ourselves off from the creative process – the state of flow that comes from exploring through doing instead of planning every move. When we become so set in stone about what we want to achieve we can become off-set very quickly when things don’t go as planned. 

We need to be flexible in order to move with the changes, to think outside the box and find creative solutions to road blocks. 

When we are afraid of failing we will often become to afraid to even try. And if we become to emotionally attached to the possibility of failing, we are less likely to be open to any helpful feedback we might receive from others. 

Learning how to use our failure means learning how to learn from it.

Full Time Unicorn

Fighting Fear

Law of Attraction: ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS NOTHING!

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Law of Attraction Do Nothing

Children are innately impatient. We come into the world demanding life. We scream at the top of our lungs with any minor annoyance. I am hungry! Feed me NOW! I am wet! Change me NOW! 

Now. Now. Now. 

When we are tiny this urgency is understandable. We need to be cared for intently in order to stay alive and to thrive. As we reach childhood we learn, slowly, how to first prioritise our needs and then ask for what we need in a polite manner. If we are about to fall from a tree we scream for help because that is a pretty pressing issue. If we are a little hungry and want a snack and are still too small to get it ourselves, we ask nicely and wait for the snack to appear. 

Learning to Wait

As we reach adulthood we are required to ask and then wait. Sometimes for quite a while. When we order at a restaurant, when we arrive for a doctor’s appointment or when we have submitted our manuscript to an agent or publisher (Mmm hmm). Sometimes we have to wait for these things for much longer than we would like but because we are not children anymore we just have to suck it up and wait. 

Waiting is Boring!

The hardest thing about waiting is that it’s boring. There are places to go, people to see, cats to pet and books to write! We don’t have time to just sit down and WAIT! I have goals! I have things I am desperately trying to manifest! I can’t just sit here and read about the God Damn Kardashians while my doctor runs 20 minutes late!

Interestingly though, you can wait. Because when it comes down to it waiting is simple: All you have to do is nothing. 

Law of Attraction Do Nothing

Learning to do Nothing

The other day I was making pancakes with my boys. We’d made the mixture, placed the pan on the element and we were waiting. We were waiting for the pan to heat up enough to melt the butter because only then is it the right time to pour in the batter. If you do it too soon the pancake won’t catch on the pan quite right and it won’t spread around nicely. The butter also won’t be hot enough so it won’t brown the pancake. What you’ll be left with is a flappy, sad pancake (or pandy-cake as my sons call them). 

“No no, it’s not hot enough yet,” I said after my youngest had once again, tried to ladle in the mixture too soon. “All you have to do is nothing.”

As I said the words I realised how valid they are for every one trying to understand the Law of Attraction. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS NOTHING.

Law of Attraction: All You Have to Do is Nothing!

No, sorry, this is not an invitation for you to sit around on the couch all day as a way to achieve your goals. What I mean when I say this is that action for the sake of action does not bring about faster or more desirable results!

The pancake put in the pan too soon does not cook any faster. It takes the same amount of time but just comes out not as good as it would have if YOU’D JUST WAITED. 

The Perks of Doing Nothing

When I’m paying for groceries I tell my kids to please, just stand their and do nothing for five minutes. Do they? No. Usually, as soon as my back is turned they decide to knock over a display of toilet paper or something, getting in trouble from the staff and then having to help clean up the mess. So now the five minutes has turned into 10 minutes, with a touch of frustrated energy thrown in for good measure. All they had to do was nothing.

Action taken in a Negative Vibration is Detrimental

So no matter if you are manifesting a new home, a better job, a lover or five million dollars, there is only so much action you can and should take. 

So you’ve written a book. You’ve done six drafts, you’ve had it assessed, you’ve made changes, you’ve sent it to a bunch of New York literary agents and now you have to wait. And wait. But let’s say you get sick of waiting. You start to doubt that the Universe is going to front up with the goods you’ve requested. Maybe I’m dreaming, you wonder. Nobody gets published the old fashioned way anymore! You decide, to hell with it, you’re gonna do it your own way! So you send off your manuscript to a bunch of vanity publishers who jump at the chance to publish it – at a fee. 

You’ve Done it! Or Have You?

Months later, you’ve done it! You are a published author! Except you didn’t realise that proof reading was not included in the deal, so there are some typos you missed. You also didn’t realise how much work would be involved in marketing your own book. It takes time. Time you would rather spend working on your next book. You’re happy with what you made happen but you can’t help thinking that it’s not quite what you wanted and perhaps if you had waited and submitted to the Universe perhaps your book deal would have appeared in divine timing.

When we act from a place of urgency, from a vibration of lack or fear, we are not using the Law of Attraction to our benefit. When we believe deep down inside that we will never get what we desire, unless we work like a pig and force it, then that is the energy we are projecting. So no matter what we do, in that state we will never get what we truly want, even if we do force it. 

Law of Attraction Do Nothing

Sometimes all we have to do is nothing 

Sometimes the most important thing we can do is not act but instead focus on our faith and our trust in The Universe. 

This is not to say that you can’t hustle, or send follow up emails, or push yourself out of your comfort zone to network and spread you work out into the world. Hell no! But remember that if you are acting from a place of lack, you will only attract more lack. 

I am always in the process of manifesting amazing things into my life. But you know what? I spend MORE time getting into an awesome vibrational state, than acting from a place of lethargy, doubt or fear. 

If I’m writing and I feel doubt, fear and self-judgement creep in, I stop right there and do something to lift my vibration IMMEDIATELY. There is no point trying to create from a place of negative vibration!

What Can you Do to Change Your Vibration?

-Exercise

-Meditate

-Play an instrument

-Dance around the room to Taylor Swift

-Listen to a podcast and clean

-Paint a picture or do crafts

-Garden

-Go for a swim

-Walk in nature

-Eat Cocao/dark chocolate

-Sing!

-Laugh with a friend

Lifting your Vibration Increases Productivity!

Even if you are a dedicated type A who struggles to take time out from “achieving”, giving some time to lifting your vibration will not only increase your productivity but also your ability to manifest what you desire!

Full Time Unicorn

Astrology

F#!K You, Mercury Retrograde!

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mercury retrograde

If you’ve recently felt like you’re head is full of porridge, like all your motivation has buggered off to pick daisies, or like speaking requires conscious effort, then you Dear Unicorn, may be feeling the effects of Mercury retrograde.

What is Mercury Retrograde?

Mercury retrograde occurs when the planet mercury appears to be moving backwards or away from the earth, (hence the term retrograde). But it’s not actually moving away from us, it’s just an illusion. It’s kind of like when you’re sitting on a train waiting for it to leave the station and when the train next to it starts moving it feels, for a split second, as if it’s your train that’s moving instead. And much like mercury retrograde it is jolting and a little un-nerving.

Mercury: The God

The Roman God Mercury, also known as Hermes by the Greeks, was known as the messenger of the Gods. With his winged helmet and speedy sandals he flitted around delivering messages. Mercury also governs commerce, eloquence, luck, travel and absolutely everything communication including technology and even divination – yes fellow voyants, that means you might need to give your crystal ball and extra good polish!

Mercury: The Planet

Thus the planet Mercury is said to govern communications. This is why all things related to communications can become very clouded during Mercury Retrograde. Emails don’t get sent somehow, letters get lost in the post, writers get writer’s block, people misunderstand each other and get into fights, directions and instructions get muddled and some people even feel mercury’s effects so bad that they struggle to even communicate simple thoughts in their heads. It can get ugly!

“People with strong and erratic personalities are often described as “mercurial” described as unpredictable, quick, and even a bit restless, by those who know them. A mercurial person is a person who is hard to predict.” –  YourTango.com

mercury retrograde

Mercury Retrograde and the Throat Chakra

Not surprisingly, I feel Mercury’s effects very strongly in my throat chakra. I feel like there’s mud in my brain and every time I try to speak the words simply won’t flow. It’s as if I have to consciously form each word and will my brain to recall it. This probably explains why I prefer to stay in during M R and paint, garden, perform spells and plan projects.

Mercury: The Trickster

The whole thing is made worse due to the fact that Mercury, the little blighter, is known as The Trickster. He is said to be witty and humorous and to like a good gag. All of these wonderful attributes come out to frolic during the fabulous three weeks of Mercury Retrograde! So while we’re booking the wrong flights, he is laughing.

Mercury Retrograde and the Zodiac

For some reason, not all retrogrades are created equal. Some pass by generally unnoticed and others are a real punch in the tit. This depends on where mercury hits in your astrological chart and what tasks you are required to perform in this time – If they’re super stressful and involve organising lots of people; may the force be with you.

My Mercury Retrograde Mayhem

One year I swear M.C almost ruined me. I was a mess. Everything I wrote was garbled and clumsy – or at least I thought so, which is creative suicide for us writers and artists. It took me hours to put together simple articles. This filled me with a thick black cloud of self doubt for at least 20 days. I questioned everything I thought I knew about myself. I Do I even enjoy writing? Am I even any good at it? Probably not. Maybe I should just get a normal job and try to blend in a little. 

Mercury Retrograde Thoughts

Interestingly, all of these thoughts were retrograde thoughts. These are all old beliefs that I used to struggle with but have since spent a lot of time and hard work releasing. I had no idea it was Mercury Retrograde at the time so I could not understand why I was going backwards.

Technical Difficulties

On top of all this mental and emotional mayhem, there was the technical/communications side too. My computer was on the fritz – I discovered a whole bunch of emails I had sent the week before had  not been sent. And as replying to emails swiftly is a point of purpose for me, this drove me pretty crazy. I had multiple disagreements with all aspects of technology – Blue Screen of Death et al – and also struggled to string a sentence together when speaking to people.

Funnily enough as soon as Mercury went direct again, the cloud of misery and confusion lifted as quickly as it had arrived. The change was so sudden and obvious, it was like a veil had literally been lifted off of my face.

mercury retrograde

 

Mercury Retrograde Survival

So how do we survive the next Mercury Retrograde? Personally, my best advice for surviving Mercury Retrograde is A) be aware of it and B) Don’t fight it.

If you know mercury is in retrograde then you’ll understand why you’re having trouble thinking and unlike me you won’t think you’re having a midlife crisis.

Chill…

So things are going haywire and nothing can get done? Don’t panic. Sit with it. Just have a break. So your office computer crashed again and you can’t do any work until the tech guy arrives? Meh. Go grab a coffee. Stop fighting against the river and just go with the flow of the current.

Finish Old Projects – Don’t Start New Ones

If you have terrible writer’s block and can’t seem to move forward in an article or story take some time out from the writing side of things and instead maybe do some research, do some editing or simply list some ideas for articles to write in the future.

Mercury retrograde is not a great time to begin creative projects. But it is a great time to plan, gather ideas, and go over old project that you never managed to finish. The latter makes the most of the retrograde aspect. You may even find that old things you never finished simply jump into your mind – that’s a cue from the Universe to go back and settle old scores.

Embrace Nostalgia

Due to the back-glancing nature of M.R, you may find that you bump into old friends and reminisce over the good times. So too ex-lovers. This can be a great time to get closure on faded friendships, but it’s not a great time to try and talk out old annoyances as things are highly likely to get miss-interpreted and cause great arguments.

Over the years I’ve learned to use Mercury Retrograde to my advantage. I love pulling out old projects, organising my drawers – in true Kondo fashion. I also Meditate, read, go for walks, bake and paint. Basically, I try to take the pressure to “hit targets” and “achieve goals” off my shoulders. I try to allow myself to wander and meander.

Truth? Mercury Retrograde is a Bitch

If it sounds like I am trying to portray Mercury retrograde through rose tinted glasses, then, you got me! When it really comes down to it, Mercury retrograde is a total See You Next Tuesday. If you’re used to crossing things off your To Do list with gusto, think again. For these three weeks, you’re gonna feel slow and groggy. It will suck.

Things to Avoid During Mercury Retrograde

It’s not a good time to publish books or magazines (unless you’ve proof-read like a boss), close big deals, travel or sign contracts, as important details are likely to get muddled. If you can’t avoid it, take your time to check you’re aware of what you’re booking/buying/signing/publishing.

Ditto with communicating with friends over email or text. If your messages don’t get lost in the void and manage to get through to the recipient, they are very likely to be misinterpreted during M.C and cause a fight. It is best to talk over the phone, or better yet, in person over a nice cup of tea and some pie!

mercury retrograde

Mercury Retrograde: A Cosmic Holiday

I like to think of Mercury Retrograde as a compulsory cosmic holiday. It is astrology’s way of saying “slow down, have a break, take some time to recharge”.

Of course in this day and age it is not always an option for us to go AWOL from life for three weeks at a time. If this is the case, then just knowing it is Mercury Retrograde can help. Instead of getting down and annoyed at the madness, try to laugh. Try to wink at that pesky Mercury when he manages to muddle with your emails or lose your thesis. Just laugh!

Full Time Unicorn

Creative Industries

Who is Your Inner Critic of Creative Anxiety?

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Creative Anxiety Inner Critic

How do you beat the Inner Critic of Creative Anxiety?

I used to love painting portraits. For a very long time it was my main creative outlet. But somewhere along the way I became filled with a deep creative anxiety which was fuelled by the voices of my inner critic. All of a sudden my art was shrouded in a veil of judgement, expectation and fear. I was so afraid of making a mistake, I couldn’t even let myself try.

The Inner Critic

We all hear voices. That doesn’t make us crazy. It simply makes us human.

In every area of our lives we face self judgment and criticism. And for each area of our lives we hear a voice telling us we’re doing things wrong. That nagging nasty voice in your head is known as the inner critic.

Personally I have a whole bunch of critics in my head. I have one voice who judges my housework and one who hassles my parenting. I have a critic who tells me I’m fat and one who tells me I’m stupid. Personally, my critics are based on people from my childhood or teenage years. It’s quite common for the voices of your inner critics to take on the tone of family members, teachers, ex boyfriends or even your personal trainer! But sometimes, the voices come from nasty little beings that aren’t even human!

Creative Anxiety

If you’ve ever experienced creative anxiety this scene will sound familiar to you…

You sit down, ready to work. You start. Then all of a sudden a black cloud of doubt wafts above your head. Everything you do is rubbish! Says the voice in your head. You want to ignore it but maybe it’s right? Now, the paragraph you have just written is stupid. The picture you have started is silly and childish, and though before you thought the imperfections were charming, style defining and just abstract enough, now they are judging you and calling you out on your short comings. You suck! screams the voice.

The poem you wrote is flat. Its intentions are too obvious. The blog post you started is passée and has totally been done before. Argh. Your stomach is now in knots. Twisting and turning. You want to work through this but you can’t. Now you are too afraid to make a mistake and are over thinking everything! It is all too hard. Why bother. Stop. Cry. Give up.

When it comes to your creative work the inner critic can cause damaging creative anxiety. It is evil, brooding and nasty.

Creative Anxiety Inner Critic

My Inner Critics of Creativity

Personally, I have two inner critics that govern creativity. One is an aged crone whose only mission in life is to clean her home; she sees any act of creativity as self-indulgent, selfish and lazy. Her moto is “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

The second creativity inner critic is an evil pixie who has come to loiter on my shoulder. The pixie, Morag, has sat on the shoulders of many an artist but she’s never been impressed. She has very high expectations of art but they’re so high that she’ll never ever be satisfied. Morag doesn’t understand the concept of learning, of growth or persistence. And unlike the aged crone, she’s just plain mean.

Morag whispers cruel nothings into my ears. She pollutes my mind with doubt. She wants me to give up. She works on a contract basis for the Ego; whose job is to protect me from embarrassment, shame and disappointment. But Morag doesn’t know that. She’s just getting paid to call me names.

The Inner Critic Senses Fear

The funny thing is that Morag isn’t always around. Yes, there are times when she pops up when I’m writing. But once I get my flow on she can’t keep up. She also buggers off when I get out the clay. When I’m working with textures and varnish and wax she is nowhere to be seen. But as soon as I pick up the pencil she flutters back into my life telling me “You suck at this!”

She doesn’t stop there. Oh no. She keeps it up. Even if I try to block out her taunts by listening to Joni Mitchell on my Ipod, the nasty little chestnuts she hurls still penetrate.  “You did the nose wrong!” she jeers. “Now, you’re going to get it wrong over and over again!” Then finally once I’ve fought through to the end. “Yikes, I wouldn’t bother painting that one!”

I ignore her vigilantly. I have learnt to now. I used to listen. Now I tune her out and keep going. “Shut up Morag!” I yell. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. On the occasions when I get to the painting stage it all gets much better. Painting is my safe zone; it is free flowing and calming. The pixie is bored at that stage – she knows she has lost the fight. Her heart is no longer in it so off she flutters – she has other dreams to crush elsewhere.

Creative Anxiety Inner Critic

Fighting the Inner Critic

So how does one fight the Inner Critic of creativity? It doesn’t matter if we’re playing guitar, knitting, baking, painting or writing. If our mind is filled with nasty, doubting, judging voices, nothing is going to run smoothly. So how do we get thought it?

Give them a Name

If you name the inner critic of your creativity it makes it much easier to ignore their nasty voice. What’s more, it separates the voices of self-doubt from your own mind – they are not your thoughts or your doubts, they are the voices of your inner critic. Now, when I hear Morag’s nasty jibes I smile and laugh. She’s so awful she’s actually quite funny.

Tap it Out with EFT

If your case of creative anxiety has already began to prevent you from even attempting your creative work, then it’s time to get serious! We’re calling in the big guns to tap out that anxiety. I love tapping. I use it all the time for all kinds of anxieties or ailments.

If you haven’t yet heard of EFT or tapping, put simply, it’s a cross between acupressure and hypnotherapy. But tapping on the body’s meridian points at the same time as speaking through affirmations, the brain is able to release some of the anxiety associated to the specific issue. Check out the video below to get you started on your tapping journey.

To tap on your area of creative anxiety you first need connect to the issue of concern. You might like to start with a script along the lines of “Even though I have this creative anxiety, this fear of painting portraits (or whatever is stressing you out) I love, accept and forgive myself completely and utterly. Even though every time I start drawing I hear the voices of my inner critic telling me I suck, that everything I do is terrible, that there’s no point in even trying, I love accept and forgive myself completely and utterly.”

This will get you emotionally connected to the issue we are trying to correct. Once you feel completely connected, it time to start the cycle of tapping.

Once you’ve completed a few cycles take a few breaths and see how you feel. Are there any memories or thoughts that have come up for you? These can be a helpful clue to where these limiting beliefs were formed. You may wish to focus in on them: Even though someone told me I could not draw when I was little, I love accept and forgive myself completely and utterly.

For the final round of tapping – you will instinctively know when this is – start going through the process of letting go. “Even though I have this creative anxiety, these memories from childhood, I choose to let go now. I am letting go now. I trust in the universe, I trust in my unique power and I choose to let go now.”

Meditation

I harp on about meditation all the time but it really is a game-changer. Before you start your creative work take a 15 -20 minute guided meditation. Taking this time to clear your mind before you start will greatly help to quiet the thoughts and free the mind.

Shake it out

This is a big one for me. When I engage in cardio for over 30 minutes, something explodes in my head. I can feel all doubt, sadness and disdain melt away. In it’s place I am left with an abundance of inspiration! Most of my art, blog, and play ideas come from an exercise endorphin rush. So remember to stay active and pump out that stagnant dust.

Creative Anxiety Inner Critic

Don’t Stop!

Flip that pixie the middle finger by hitting it everyday. Don’t let that anxiety keep you away from what you love doing. And definitely do not let it make you dread it like I did. If you persist, soon the Pixie will bugger off and leave you to it.

Pick up that guitar, pen or paint brush and keep at it. Soon, you will find that what once was challenging is now a natural function. When things become more familiar, the fear goes away – learning to drive is a good example of this. The first time we get behind the wheel can be scary but eventually it becomes second nature.

Embrace the Learning Process

We never ever stop learning. Wouldn’t it be sad if we did?

Every time we start something new we are going in blind. We have no previous knowledge to work with so realistically there is no way we can master something at the first attempt.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the 10,000 hour rule. He explains that in order to become a professional in any field one must simply spend 10,000 hours on it. Natural ability has very little to do with it, because if you simply put in your 10,000 hours you’ll become pretty damn good regardless of whether you could bend a ball like Beckham when you were two.

It can be helpful to keep a work log so you remind yourself how far you’ve come. When I look back on my very early blogs, poems and stories, part of me winces – the other part of me is so proud that I never gave up. I wrote and I learnt and I learnt as I wrote.

Look at your old work and how it has developed. Give yourself props. You are doing well. Remember – The first one’s the worst one!

Replace the negative voices with positive affirmations

Take a breath and tell the voice in your head to bugger off. Instead replace that nasty quip with a positive affirmation like “I am a passionate, skilled, artist.” Tell yourself you are doing well. Be kind to yourself.

“I say “Out” to every negative thought that comes to my mind. No person, place, or thing has any power over me, for I am the only thinker in my mind. I create my own reality and everyone in it.” – Louise Hay

Have a plan

It can help to have a goal, theme or purpose for what you are doing. It doesn’t need to be huge. It could just be that you are looking at exploring portraiture emotion, you could be aiming to write a novel for publishing, a play for a festival by a given date, perform a song at a friends party. It could be anything. All you need is something to give the work purpose and drive and also inspire more work to come.

Sisterhood

It is absolutely essential for creative women to surround themselves with other creative women. Whether it be to bounce ideas off of each other, to support each other’s projects, to inspire each other, whatever.

Sometimes the best way to work through a creativity snag is to talk it out, and if like mine your partner/spouse/lover is somewhat creatively un-opinionated then it is vital to find someone to talk with about art and creating.

My bestie is my main go-to for creative conversing. We pitch all our ideas at each other and help each other cut a clear path in our projects. It is totally invaluable.

Full Time Unicorn