Be Proud of Where You Come From

‘How come I never get invited round to your house for tea?’ my friend Jane asked one day as we embarked upon another epic game of French skipping in the school playground.

It was a question the ten-year-old me had been dreading. I’d been round to Jane’s house many times. It was beautiful and huge and so different from mine it was like visiting an enchanted palace. There was a swimming pool in the back garden and a kitten-soft, leather three-piece suite in the living room and a phone on the wall in the kitchen (back then, having more than one phone in your house was a very big deal and having one mounted to the wall was the height of extravagance). They even had an entire store room devoted to food. Jane’s parents travelled a lot and they always brought back exotic edibles from their adventures. Delicate, wafer-thin biscuits from Belgium, brightly packaged breakfast cereals from America and squeezy candy in tubes from France. All of this overseas food was stored in a small room next to the kitchen – a room Jane and I would raid regularly for midnight feasts.

In contrast, my terraced house was small and two-adults-plus-four-kids-messy and, even worse to ten-year-old me, it was on a council estate (think the projects, US readers).

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The council estate I lived on was called James Bedford Close. I never did find out who James Bedford was but I’m not sure he’d have been all that happy with this tribute to him.

Although the estate was pristine and cheery when it was first built and we moved in – with playgrounds for the kids and brightly painted front doors (ours was canary yellow) and even had it’s own on-site caretaker – things soon went downhill.

The flats on the estate became a dumping ground for troubled people, the caretaker was axed and the brightly painted doors began to chip and peel.

Our childhood games reflected the changes. As well as playing hide and seek and knock down ginger we also started playing ‘spot the junkie’ – spying through the grimy windows of the local druggies’ flats. It was terrifying and exciting in equal measure. You got bonus points every time you spotted a prone body sprawled amongst the carnage inside.

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One family on the estate owned four dogs, named Tyson, Rocky, Rambo and Teddy, who they let roam free, day and night, providing a regular source of terror throughout my childhood and teenage years. My dad became my lifelong hero when he kicked Teddy after it went for me on the way to Brownies one night. Such bravery!

How could I invite my friend Jane from her enchanted palace, with its wall-mounted phones and rooms devoted to food into this world?

The answer was, I couldn’t and I didn’t. I was too embarrassed.

So I came up with ever more elaborate excuses as to why she couldn’t come round. ‘My dad has lots of work to do.’ ‘My mum isn’t very well.’ ‘I’m being punished for not feeding the goldfish. My parents ended up being over-worked and sick and punishing me for most of my childhood.

Fast forward to a few years ago and I’m at a lunch with a group of publishing folk. 

In my experience, publishing folk are very nice folk but they’re also very white and middle class folk and I’ve yet to meet one who grew up on a council estate.

At some point during our lunch the conversation turned to council estates and more specifically, the type of people who live on them.

The conversation became patronising and sneery and ‘ho-ho-ho aren’t working class people so frightfully gross‘.

I felt a rage in my belly, ‘fuck you’ thought-bubbles over my head.

These privately educated, privileged people had no idea of the hardships endured by those living on a council estate. To them, the poor were just peasants, there to be mocked over a nice glass of prosecco.

They knew nothing about the decent, hard-working people who live on estates. The people who are forced to live in the bleakest of conditions, often in property that ought to be condemned.

They knew nothing about the stress this can cause.

They knew nothing about what it’s like to be so poor you have to choose between feeding your kids or yourself.

They knew nothing about the way poverty and powerlessness can sap your will and kill your dreams. But I did.

One night, when I was about sixteen, a local gang set fire to a car outside my bedroom window. It was to prove a turning point for me.

I’d spent the previous two years skiving off school, drinking and taking drugs. I’d begun giving up hope that things could get better.

But as I watched that car burn, I realised I had a choice: I either carried on down that path and ended up condemned to an eternity of living in fear … or I worked my butt off to get to university so I’d be able to leave.

The next two years were like the training montage in a Rocky movie. I stopped drinking and getting stoned and started studying and running, all the while listening to a soundtrack of angry rock music and hip-hop to motivate me.

I made it to uni … and two years later I dropped out of uni as I couldn’t stand being so in debt.

But something inside of me had shifted. I believed in the power of dreams. I had proof of the power of determination and grit.

I kept working and dreaming until I’d achieved my dream of becoming a writer … and ended up at the publishing lunch.

And when the publishing folk at that lunch started mocking the people who live on council estates I didn’t feel embarrassed, like I did back when I was a kid, I felt proud.

Proud that no silver spoon or private education or networking or nepotism had bought me a place at that table – hard graft and dreams had.

And so I told them in no uncertain terms that they were talking crap. That most people who live on council estates are decent and hard-working and have just been dealt a worse hand in life than them.

I told them that I grew up on an estate and I was proud of that fact.

I told them that they ought to think more before they sneered and mocked.

And then there was silence – of the tumbleweed kind.

I went home that day feeling really upset. I liked everyone at that table – it was just their incorrect preconceived ideas that I hated. What if they didn’t want to work with me any more? What if, having worked so hard to get a place at their table, they turned their backs on me?

But that night I got an email from one of the woman present at the lunch, apologising profusely. ‘My parents didn’t bring me up to talk like that,’ she told me. ‘They would have been ashamed to hear what I said. I’ll never talk like that again.’

As I read her words I cried – and I learned another important lesson: we should always be proud of where we come from … and never be afraid to voice that pride.

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Last week, I went back to James Bedford Close.

I walked through the flats where we used to play ‘spot the junkie’.

I saw the ghost of my childhood past clambering over the remnants of the climbing frames.

I looked up at the bedroom window I used to gaze from and dream of better.

And I felt incredibly grateful.

Grateful for the start in life growing up on a council estate gave me.

Grateful for the street-smarts and the savvy and the endless adventures.

Grateful for the lesson that anything is possible with the right amount of grit and the determination to dream.


Reclaim their Insults … and Wear them with Pride

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the power of words.

More specifically, the power of words to hurt.

There’s a saying from my childhood that has always annoyed the hell out of me:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”

Anyone who has ever been bullied will be able to tell you that this saying is a load of crap.

Words can harm … a great deal.

Writers often talk about how, no matter how many positive reviews their work might get, one nasty review will haunt them for weeks or months to come.

Adults often talk about how an insult made by the playground bully years ago still has the power to take them down.

Said in spite, words have the power to etch their way on to our psyches, leaving a deep scar.

A word that I’ve seen said in spite a lot lately is SNOWFLAKE.

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According to Urban Dictionary a snowflake is someone who is ‘overly-sensitive’.

And according to Wikipedia, today’s young adults are known as Generation Snowflake because they’re more prone to ‘taking offence’ than previous generations.

And according to my social media feeds these so-called snowflakes tend to be overly sensitive to and take offence at trivial little issues like racism and bigotry and inequality and climate change and pussy-grabbing and conversion therapy. You know … nothing major.

The other day, I saw a post on Twitter mocking a group of so-called snowflakes and initially it made my blood boil.

How dare they insult young people for daring to care, I ranted. How dare they call people like us (for I too, care about these issues) snowflakes?

But then I had a light-bulb moment.

Being a snowflake isn’t an insult at all.

How can it possibly be a bad thing to care about things like injustice and intolerance and hatred and greed?

Have we seriously become so bitter and jaded as a society that it’s now acceptable to mock people for having feelings?!!

The snowflake haters seriously need to get a grip of themselves.

But in the mean-time, us snowflakes need to take their insults and wear them with pride as badges of honour.

And this really isn’t hard at all.

Not only is it easy to feel proud about caring, the snowflake also provides a beautiful metaphor.

A snowflake (in the true meaning of the word) is beautiful in its design and completely unique … no  matter how many of them fall, no two snowflakes will ever be identical.

Snowflakes might be small and delicate individually but when enough of them come together, they can bring entire cities to a standstill.

A bit like what happened on the Women’s March on Washington (and around the world) the other day.

So, to snowflakes the world over … keep being sensitive, keep caring about the things that matter, and keep coming together to bring about much-needed change.

 

Speak Out

Are you a young adult who cares passionately about what’s going on in the world?

Would you like a platform to share your views?

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If you’d like to be featured or find out more please get in touch via the CONTACT page on this site.

Thank you!

 


2017: Leaving the Bad and Bringing the Good

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I love this time of year – and not just for the opportunity to eat mince pies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I love it for the opportunity to draw a line in my life, to pause and take stock, and to turn the page into a fresh new calendar feeling renewed.

But you can’t start 2017 feeling renewed if you’re dragging a load of bad stuff from 2016 with you.

So the purpose of this blog post is to help you step into the new year feeling light and full of hope.

It all revolves around four simple questions:

What didn’t work for you this year?

And what have you learned from the things that didn’t work?

What did work for you this year?

And what have you learned from the things that worked?

Let’s look at each question in a little more depth…

What didn’t work for you this year?

Although it can be all too tempting to try and block out the bad events of the year and pretend they never happened this exercise gives you the chance to try and make sure they never happen again. And we all want that, right?

So to begin, take some time to jot down all the things that didn’t work for you this year.

It could be a decision you made that you now really regret.

It could be a relationship that brought you nothing but stress.

It could be some limiting beliefs about yourself and your life that held you back.

It could be that you chose to react to a certain person or situation in a way that didn’t serve you at all.

Things that didn’t work for me in 2016 include: wasting too much time fearing things that never even came to pass. Not wholeheartedly pursuing my burning desire to start writing books for adults again … again out of fear. Another thing that didn’t work for me was getting way too angry about political events in 2016. My anger didn’t achieve anything and only made me feel worse. These are all choices that I now regret.

But you can turn your regrets from 2016 into hope for 2017 by asking yourself the second question: What have you learned from the things that didn’t work? 

I’ve learned that there’s no point fearing something that hasn’t yet and may never yet happen. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t let fear stop me from pursuing my burning career dreams because our time here is precious and short and if we don’t honour our deepest desires we risk a life of disappointment and regret. I’ve learned that what the world needs is more love, not anger, and when I write about love I get an overwhelming response from others.

When you’ve answered the first two questions in full move on to the third:

What did work for you this year?

Write a list of all the things you’re proud or grateful for in 2016; the things that went well.

It could be that you’re proud of a work or academic achievement.

It could be that you’re grateful for a friendship or relationship.

Maybe you’re proud of a choice you made.

Perhaps you’re grateful for the opportunities 2016 gave you.

Things that worked for me in 2016 include: Helping someone close to me navigate a difficult period in their life. The publication of my novel The Moonlight Dreamers. Relaunching my writing coaching service. Starting running again. Going to a regular dance class. Moving to a brand new part of the UK. Making some amazing new friends.

When you’ve completed your list ask yourself the final question: What have you learned from the things that worked?

I’ve learned that nothing beats the feeling of helping someone you love back to happiness. I’ve learned that I can write a book about friendship and diversity and people will want to read it. I’ve learned that when I coach other people and help them achieve their writing dreams I go into a magical, ‘I was born to do this’ zone that can’t be beaten. I’ve learned that starting the day with a run means starting the day on a high. I’ve learned that dancing brings me infinite amounts of happiness. I’ve learned that the biggest dreams – like moving to a brand new place – always scare the hell out of you at first. I’ve learned that by taking a risk and going out on my own when I first moved and trying every weird and wonderful thing on offer, I quickly found my tribe.

Once you’ve answered all four questions re-read your answers and really absorb the lessons.

Use all you’ve learned to form the foundations of your new year.

Resolve to let go of the bad.

And bring the good.

Wishing you all a 2017 full of joy, peace and dreams coming true.

Siobhan x

Do you need help achieving a writing dream?

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If one of your dreams for 2017 is to write a book but you’re unsure where to start, or need some help getting focused, my Finding the Plot coaching session could be just what you need.

Finding the Plot is a deep-digging, plot-seeking, character-developing, half-day session with me designed to get you focused and fired up to write your novel, non-fiction book, short story collection, screenplay or script.

Here’s what two  recent clients had to say about working with me:

“I keep getting loads of ideas now. Our session definitely shifted something in me. I’m daydreaming about my story all the time. Thank you so much for your input and enthusiasm, it really has had a huge effect on me.”

 

“Thank you so much for yesterday’s session. I came away feeling enthused and excited about writing again (which is no mean feat, considering how reluctant I was to start re-writing!)”

Find out more about Finding the Plot and how I can help you here.

 


When Life Knocks You Down – Keep Saying YES

The other day I was thinking back to a rock-bottom time in my life.

A time when I seriously couldn’t see how things could get any worse … and I seriously couldn’t see how they could get any better.

But, with the gift of hindsight, I’ve realised that this rock bottom ended up being the catalyst for much needed change.

And it led to unimaginable happiness.

It wasn’t that someone waved a magic wand over me and the issues disappeared in a puff of glitter.

But, if I had to condense the reason for my transformation in fortunes into one little word, it would be this one…

YES.

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In spite of my heartbreak and fear and despair I kept on saying yes at a time when all I really wanted to say was no.

I stayed open to the possibility that life could get better … and I said yes to every little chance to make things better.

And as I look back on those dark days from my current happy place, I can see the string of ‘yes’s that led me here.

In saying yes to the notion that I could train as a coach and mentor other people as well as write I pulled myself and my son out of poverty.

In saying yes to my very first public speaking engagement – even though it scared the hell out of me and I was a quivering, stammering mess – I took the first step on a path that would lead to me travelling the world giving talks. And, more importantly, it would massively repair my self-confidence.

In saying yes to an appeal in a magazine for entries for a book award, a novel that I’d self-published ended up winning and my career as a writer was transformed. I’ve subsequently received publishing deals for eleven different books off the back of that one yes!

Are you starting to see how important your own choices can be?

How one simple ‘yes’ today could lead to happiness and success tomorrow?

You could say yes to a party invite and end up meeting the love of your life.

You could say yes to a fitness challenge and end up healthier than you ever imagined.

You could say yes to a random job opportunity and finally discover your true calling.

And, if you find yourself in the deep dark depths of rock bottom, when all you want to say is ‘why?’ or ‘no‘, try saying ‘yes’ instead to life and to hope.

I know it’s hard, but use what happened to me to inspire you.

Say yes to every opportunity to make things better.

And have faith that your own string of ‘yes’s will lead you back home to happiness.

 

Do you need help writing a book or starting a business or achieving another life dream?

Check out my coaching page here to find out how I could help you.

‘Siobhan is a caring, empathetic and insightful life coach with the ability to really understand where you’re coming from, whether in your business or personal life. She possesses the ability to enable you to see your own solutions without prejudice, which is an invaluable talent.’ Suzanne Burgess

 


If your life were a movie would you be the hero or victim? Try these Hollywood tests and see…

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.’ Nora Ephron

Recently, I was reading an article in Grazia magazine about sexism in film and TV. 

It turns out there are various tests you can put a movie through to determine whether it’s sexist or not.

The Sexy Lamp Test is if you can remove a woman from a story and replace her with a sexy lamp and the story still works.

Women in Refrigerators Syndrome is a plot device used in comic books where a female character is injured or killed – or locked in a refrigerator – purely to give the male heroes something to do or talk about.

The Bechdel Test is where at least two of the women in the story (who are preferably named characters) talk to each other about something other than a man. Many, many Hollywood movies fail this test.

When it comes to our life stories I think we can all – men and women – fail these tests.

So, as we approach a brand new year take a moment to reflect.

In the movie of your life story titled ‘2015’, could you have been replaced with a sexy lamp?

Were you more of a bit-player in someone else’s story – trapped in a figurative refrigerator while they got all of the exciting plotlines?

Did you spend hours, days, weeks, months, talking, stressing and pining over someone else?

When you look back now do you feel that your time and energy in 2015 could have been better spent?

If so, don’t beat yourself up – becoming a bit-player in someone else’s life story can be scarily easy.

It can happen for many different reasons but there’s usually one key underlying factor…

… low self esteem.

Deep, deep down a part of you believes that you’re not worthy of an exciting lead role in your movie called Life.

Maybe you allowed your parents, or a critical teacher, or a school bully to become your casting director.

Maybe when they told you that you were only worthy of playing a victim or a secondary role you believed them.

And so began a series of life instalments featuring the same basic plotline:

The critical parent became the critical boss.

A revolving cast of partners all played the lead while you languished in a ‘refrigerator’ – a victim to their hero – or in some cases maybe, villain.

If any of this is striking a chord with you, don’t worry.

Now is the perfect time to make a real change.

As 2016 looms into a view, see it as a blank page, ready for you to begin creating a new script.

One where you can’t be replaced by a sexy lamp.

The fact is: you are the screen-writer of your movie called Life.

And you are the casting director.

So, which role are you going to choose for yourself this year?

Hero? Or victim?

And who do you want in your supporting cast?

You get to decide.

Grab a notebook and pen and start free-writing some ideas using the questions below as prompts…

What could you do this year to make you feel excited and empowered?

How could you make yourself completely irreplaceable by a sexy lamp?

How could you free yourself from that pesky refrigerator?

Who could you help?

What quest could you go on?

How could you become the kind of hero or heroine you love to watch or read about?

How could you step into the lead role?

Free book on writing…

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Don’t Do the Done Thing – Do YOUR Thing

‘But you can’t drop out now,’ my friend exclaimed when I told him I was leaving university, two years into an English degree.

‘Why not?’ I replied.

‘Because it’s not – it’s not the done thing.’

Whenever someone tells me I can’t do something because ‘it’s not the done thing‘ I cheer inside because I know I’m putting my own needs above my fear of not fitting in.

And then I go ahead and do it.

I dropped out of uni because I was feeling deeply unhappy. The course had been a disappointment and I didn’t feel I belonged in that world.

I might have been wrong about the belonging part, but to this day I believe I was right to ignore the done thing and put my own needs first.

Don’t get me wrong – if you truly desire what society / your school / family / friends expect you to do then that’s fantastic. Happy days!

But if you don’t, it’s time to give the done thing the elbow and start putting your thing first.

Maybe in your world the done thing is to go to university but deep down you harbour dreams of becoming an entrepreneur, Richard Branson stylie. Do it. Listen to your inner calling, enrol in the University of Life and start building your thing.

Maybe the done thing amongst your friends is to get blitzed on drink or drugs every weekend but the loss of control makes you feel vulnerable and scared. To hell with putting yourself at risk for the sake of fitting in. Find your fun your way without risking your health and well-being.

Maybe the done thing in your family is to forge a high-flying business career but the thought of breakfast meetings and quarterly targets and sales quotas makes your soul shrivel. Create a career doing whatever makes your heart sing. Forge your own path. Create your thing.

Maybe the done thing in your relationship is to squash down your feelings and censor your thoughts but sometimes you can barely breathe for the repressed emotions. Speak up now. Honour your feelings. Say your thing. Loud and proud.

Maybe the done thing seems to be living your life on social media 24/7 but the incessant scrolling is making you anxious, the haters are making you depressed and you’re getting pout-ache from all the selfies. Take control of your online life. Manage your social media in a way that feels positive and light. Do your online thing.

Maybe you dream of writing a novel but you’re worried that what you want to write won’t fit any of publishing’s pigeon-holes. Write the book that makes you come alive. Write your thing, your way.  

[Side note: When you write your thing your way your writing will be way better for it.]

The truth is, when you do anything your own unique way it will be better and you will feel happier.

The trouble with the done thing is that it’s been done to death.

All too often, the done thing is the dull thing. Or the painful thing. Or the feel-the-life-force draining thing.

So, the next time you feel dull or uninspired … or downright unhappy, ask yourself:

“Am I doing my thing … or am I squeezing myself into the done thing?”

* This post was inspired by a close friend of mine’s recent decision to opt out of the done thing and do his own thing instead.

It was inspired by the courage he’s shown in swimming against the tide.

It was inspired by the joy that now shines off him as he figures out his thing. His true thing.

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Ten Life Lessons Learned on Tour

In the past week I’ve travelled around the UK, giving True Face workshops and talks.

I met hundreds of people and visited some really cool places.

I also learned (or re-learned) some lessons about life I’d love to share with you here…

Lesson One: Chance encounters add to life’s magic … talk to your fellow travellers

I had to get up at GULP O’CLOCK to set off for my first event. Seriously, it was still night time when I got to the station and chit-chat with a fellow passenger was way down my to do list – beneath ‘sleep, sleep and oh yes, more sleep‘. But when a guy started talking to me about seating on the station platform it turned into a two hour conversation about life, politics, the universe and everything. I got to my destination feeling way more invigorated than if I’d had a nap and it was a great reminder of the randomness of life and chance meetings. (Please note: I am aware of the perils of this one, having once been talked at by a lager-swigging Scotsman all the way from Edinburgh to York. Who started yelling that I was ‘a frigid ginger dyke’ when I dared to spurn his beery advances. When it comes to talking to fellow travellers, discernment is key!)

Lesson Two: Other people are fascinating … ask them about themselves

I’m naturally quite a shy person. One way I’ve overcome this is by asking people about themselves and thereby niftily side-stepping the spotlight. A massive bonus this brings is finding out loads of really interesting things about the people I meet. From cab-drivers to teachers to hotel staff to one of the patrons of the Cheltenham Festival, I heard so many fascinating and entertaining anecdotes over the past few days. Including: One man’s journey from Indian goat-herder to Bradford cab-driver. One woman’s passion for using music to heal. One girl’s story of overcoming anorexia. One guy’s inspiring tale of business success.

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Getting to know one of the patrons of the Cheltenham Festival

Lesson Three: Eating out on your own doesn’t have to be three courses of embarrassment with a side of awkward

The first time I ever had to dine alone in a hotel restaurant I felt hot with embarrassment. ‘Look at poor Norma No-Mates sighing into her soup‘ I imagined the other diners saying as I longed for the power of invisibility. Now I love dining out with just my Kindle / magazine / thoughts for company. A whole table to myself. Being waited on hand and foot. What’s not to love?

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Lesson Four: See your hotel room as a you-time bubble

And by that I mean, even if you’re travelling for work, staying in a hotel gives you a chance to pause and take time for yourself and take stock of your life. Tune the TV to a music channel. Have a shower or bath and slather yourself in the complimentary moisturiser. (Side note: why is complimentary moisturiser now nailed to the wall?! Was somebody stealing it or something? Ahem.) Build yourself a cosy bed-nest of cushions and pillows. Order some room service and take advantage of the free coffee bar. Then take out a notebook and free write about your life and your dreams from this fresh new, sweetly-scented perspective.

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Lesson Five: If someone is rude to you … punch them in the head

Just kidding! When you meet a lot of people not all of them are going to be new best friend potential and some of them are going to be down-right arsehole-ish. Don’t get sucked into a conflict – not even in your head. Especially not in your head because then there’s no end to the effing and blinding! This person could have just been given some really bad news. They could be going through hell. They could be deeply afraid beneath all the swagger and bluster. Whatever. Don’t make it your problem. Smile sweetly, don’t judge and rapidly disengage.

Lesson Six: When you think like an explorer you discover hidden gems … and disgusting toilets

One of the venues I was running some workshops in was an old courthouse. During a break I spotted a reference to the prison cells in the building. ‘Ooh, that sounds interesting,‘ I thought. Swiftly followed by: ‘You can’t go nosing around. You’re here to do a job, not sight-see.’ But I ignored my inner Captain Sensible and asked one of the organisers if I could take a peek. Getting to go inside a really old cell was an experience I won’t forget in a hurry. It was spooky and atmospheric and the toilet was a particular highlight!

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Lesson Seven: We are all afraid … so don’t think you’re alone

In one of the exercises I do in my True Face workshops I get people to talk about their fears. Every time I introduce the exercise, by talking about my own fears, a little voice inside my head says, ‘But what if none of them ever get afraid? What if you’re the only weirdo who thinks like this?‘ But every time without fail I get nods of recognition and hands shooting up as people offer to share their own insecurities. So next time you feel afraid, or your inner voice tells you that you haven’t got what it takes to achieve your dreams, reassure yourself that you aren’t alone. And know that successful people are just as afraid as you are, they’ve just learned how to control or ignore their fear.

Lesson Eight: We all have so many reasons to be proud … so be proud

In another exercise I do I ask people to write a list of things they’re proud of. The things I’ve seen on people’s proud lists over the past few days have taken my breath away: ‘I’m proud of conquering my eating disorder.’ ‘I’m proud of getting through life without my dad.’ ‘I’m proud that I no longer self harm.’ ‘I’m proud that I’ve made a conscious effort to be a nicer person.’ ‘I’m proud that I don’t let the haters get to me any more.’ ‘I’m proud that I won a poetry competition.’ What are you proud of? What qualities did you need in order to achieve those things? Next time you’re feeling down or afraid, remind yourself of all the great things you’ve done.

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Lesson Nine: Teenagers need our support

I lost count of how many times I had teachers, event organisers or parents telling me how badly books like True Face are needed right now. Teenagers today are under more pressure than ever before. Us oldies have to be there for them. To support and mentor them and reassure them that all will be well. We need to pass on the benefit of our hindsight and experience. We need to motivate and inspire and show them that they’re not alone.

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Lesson Ten: When travelling, don’t waste valuable daydreaming time on Peter Andre’s marriage

On the train back from my travels I started reading a magazine. By the time the train pulled into Doncaster I knew all about Peter Andre’s Strictly Come Dancing ambitions and how wearing pink and brown really suited him and how no, his wife isn’t worried about The Strictly Come Dancing Curse because she isn’t the jealous type (I don’t watch it but apparently everyone who has ever taken part in the show has had a steamy affair with their dancing partner. Or something…) Anyway, by the time I got to Doncaster my brain was losing the will to live. So I binned the mag and put on my i-pod and did some serious window-gazing-day-dreaming instead. By the time I got to London, I’d come up with a new book idea and enjoyed a little daydream of a more *cough* romantic nature (and no, it did not involve Peter Andre crooning Mysterious Girl clad in various shades of pink and brown). Day to day life can be so crazy-hectic there’s very little time left to dream. Travelling is one of the best dreaming opportunities going. Don’t waste it.

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