15.07.2017
Gail Armstrong
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I was an only child and spent a lot of my childhood in my bedroom alone, listening to music, writing drawing or day dreaming, lots of daydreaming. I was also a very sociable child and wasn't at all lonely, just that living in a little village a few miles from town meant I only had friends round now and again.  I remember the feeling of relief from coming in after a busy day at school, closing my bedroom door and flopping onto the bed in the middle of the room where I would spend however long I needed stretched out on top of the duvet thinking about the day and processing everything. This took time. Sometimes a few minutes, sometimes more. I hated anyone coming to chat about things, disturbing my peace and calm. Everything I needed was in that room...except food and drink and that wasn't allowed unless I snook some in! I have friends who always seem to be out socialising, inside socialising, shopping or working with other people. I wonder if they ever actually have time alone, or if the thought of that is uncomfortable for them and they need company to feel safe and secure. I couldn't bear having people around me all the time, “I have to be alone very often. I'd be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That's how I refuel." (Audrey Hepburn: Many-Sided Charmer, LIFE Magazine, December 7, 1953)”  ― Audrey Hepburn That's exactly how I feel about solitude, it gives me time and space to stop and drift off to whatever place I choose to be for however long I like, without interruption or distraction. Not an easy task when you are a busy working parent though, and used to yearn for everyone to go out and leave me on my own for the day.  The Christmas after I had my eldest son, I was given a voucher for two nights at a local health spa. People were astonished that I intended to go alone... "you'll have no one to talk to" they said. I know, and isn't that wonderful I replied.  “For now she need not think of anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of - to think; well not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others... and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.”  ― Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse So where might you go to get some time alone, to allow yourself to recharge, deal with all that 'stuff' inside your head? These are some of my 'times and places'. I love driving alone. Although you have to stay focused, I am still able to allow thoughts to flicker through my head and sort themselves out as my music plays in the background. In my last job I did a lot of long distance driving and actually enjoyed having the time to play through the day ahead to prepare myself for meeting or visits. I actually made excuses so not to have to car share when possible as having a passenger meant having to talk to someone else. I also enjoy a long soak in the bath. I sometimes take in my phone (it's waterproof!) and catch up on you tube videos I subscribe to, read articles I've saved or listen to music. For some it may be the only place you can grab half an hour to yourself, especially with young children. Right now I spend a lot of time in my summerhouse. It was one of those things that came out of the blue, and at the time I had no idea that it would become so important to me as an artist and writer. It was a real bargain, an ex showroom model at a garden centre. It's really warm and cosy, even in winter when I put the heater on.  It's not a work room, I have another small room in the house cluttered with my desk and all the things I need to run my business. The summerhouse is my retreat. I can take my laptop and iPad in there to work if I wish, take people in there for meetings, sit and read, listen to music or......just sit. My summerhouse, in the evening. If I could just take myself away, I would disappear into a small cottage in a forest, with a stream nearby and feel the energy of nature inspire and cleanse me. It would need to have a coal fire and mod cons. I'm not one for being cold and uncomfortable I'm afraid.   I would take a big bag with all my drawing and writing  things inside so I could spend the days walking in the forest, sitting and recording all I see. At night I would curl up beside the fire and read or stare into the flames, disappearing into the magical world inside my head, then coax it all out onto the pages in my notebook.  This would be heavenly and the more I think about it the more likely it will happen! Read a previous post about this. Write it, see it, believe it ...live it! So please comment and tell me about your 'special place' and how you recharge your energy away from distractions. 
10.07.2017
Gail Armstrong
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If you follow me on social media, you will by now know I'm doing a challenge to create better content for my posts. This is day 3 and today I'm going to tell you some stuff about me that you might not know. Just random things, nothing to make you worry about my welbeing or anything - and there's just five things... a two minute read! 1.  Just call me Duncan, or Claire... Before I was born my Dad wanted a boy and wanted to name me Duncan Edward..after the Man Utd player killed in the Munich air crash.  Unfortunately, I arrived a girl and wanted to call me Claire, but Mum said no, she preferred Gail.  So that's what I was saddled with.  However, and this is a bit weird, I very often get called Claire when someone forgets my name. I'd say 8/10 times. I actually think it's funny now and actually respond as if it were my name. 2.  I was rubbish at school. I went to Grammar School but would have done much better at the comp instead. The only subjects I did well in were Art, English and PE, the rest mediocre or poor...I still have reports that confirm this. I suspect my teachers expected me to amount to very little as I was a bit rebellious too.  However, seems I was just a late starter and many moons down the road I stumbled into teaching and only went and got myself a degree in education and training and a whole bunch of other qualifications. How I would love to go and waft them infront of those doubters. Pah! 3.  I have a silver medal. I can't remember where I've put it or I'd show it to you. It says I am the runner up in Karate 'Kata' at the National Championships in 2001. I had started doing karate with my eldest son, and loved it, particularly the Kata 'movements' part. Sensai told me I was good enough to go in for the Women's Veterans class. Not entirely happy about being called 'veteran' at 37 but that was the one for my age. I was really nervous on the day, I'd played in teams before but never done anything on my own like this. There were about ten of us in the class. I knew I'd done ok, but when they announced a tie for gold and I was one of the two names they read out I nearly died.  So we had a rematch and unfortunately I lost by one point. It didn't matter though, just standing on the podium having achieved something which at my age was pretty cool, was a huge moment for me. 4.  I daydream. Often. I can literally spend hours just looking out of a window, or sitting somewhere and drift off into my own world. I have lots of stories in my head, and would love to do something with them one day.  Blame Enid Blyton. I would become completely immersed in fairy forests, magic faraway trees and exotic adventures - I may have actually thought I was one of the Famous Five at one point.  For many years I've been busy with life and unable to do anything with the creativity I have stored away in my head, but now I feel it's started to surface, so stand by...who knows what is around the corner! 5. Last one. You know how most people have something a little 'odd' about them. They can do strange things with fingers or have different coloured eyes. Well I can only wink with my left eye, and even that is with a scrunched up face. I can't do one of those cute Marilyn Munroe winks..I just look like something flew into my eye. If I try to use my right eye, I look really dodgey. Other than that I'm pretty much perfect ;-) So there you are. You now know a little bit more about me than you did five minutes ago. Have a great day everyone. Gail x
03.07.2017
Gail Armstrong
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I know there are people out there who see me and my life and mutter “lucky thing” under their breath. If I saw me, I would too because I am extremely fortunate to have my life, and am very grateful for that believe me. But is it luck or just my state of mind? Years ago I would have agreed it was ‘lucky that I’d joined the navy, met my husband, sold a house down south for a small fortune and bought a much bigger one up north… ‘ but now I’m not convinced that ‘luck’ is the cause of it. I had dreams as a child. I used to play ‘catalogues’ with my cousin. We’d sit with Nan’s catalogue and choose something we wanted from each page in the toy section - was always much better in the winter catalogue than the summer one! Then we’d make believe we had them to play with. Perhaps make believe is the start of law of attraction. Your childhood dream ignites a spark that slowly burns, getting brighter the more the dream is recalled over the years. I was always daydreaming. Only children tend to do that as they have no siblings to express their thoughts and feelings to. Was I creating a lifetime of ‘luck’ by doing so? I’ve lost count of things that have come unexpectedly at the right time. Meeting people who can help me with something, an opportunity for work out of the blue, a phone call from someone I’m thinking of, an old business card lying on a wet pavement at my bus stop advertising a milliner, a month before my wedding when I’m frantically trying to find someone to make a hat to match my dress…. so many coincidences, as many would say.  Whatever it is, it isn’t coincidence. Reading about law of attraction, I am more swayed to this train of thought as I know for a fact that when I focus and think a lot about something it will happen, or appear. Not always when I want it to, but at some point in the he future when it’s the right time.  I write, a lot. I make lists, a lot. I free write - ie I ramble on in a notebook about whatever comes into my head. Often its things I want, or things I should do. I call it ‘having a word with myself’. While doing this I’m focusing on something important. I spent a lot of time discussing artwork with myself.  I was doodling on my iPad one day while thinking of how I could illustrate my book about my time in the Navy. I drew a quick little character and called her Jenny Wren. That evening while on Facebook I posted her on one of the Wrens groups, asking what people thought of her, for no reason other than to share a bit of cuteness.  What happened next can be read on a previous post Finding the Thing but I believe that the time spent focusing on where to take my art manifested itself in that little doodle and that one single act turned my business upside down in the most incredible way. So, if you want to be lucky like me, start writing down what you want, in big letters, on posters, anywhere you can see it several times a day and when you read it, visualise you having it. Your dream holiday, a new car, change of job…whatever is your thing. Read about it, talk about it, save photos of it, put them up alongside your message. Make it part of your life. See the video below to learn how to start doing this. Trust me it will work - and you know what? The more you do it the more it works.
29.05.2017
Gail Armstrong
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Years ago when I worked with disengaged young people on the Entry to Employment programme, we  were told to measure 'distance travelled' rather than actual achievements, so even those who struggled and for various reasons didn't get a maths certificate or whatever, they could still see how far they had come from the day they started.  For some just turning up was a huge step forward. This morning I was setting up my planner for June, and needed to write a few things down. I grabbed a notebook I hadn't used in months to use up a few pages.  I'd used this notebook right at the start of my self employment, as a daily journal for a while..until it started to fall apart and I had to find something more robust.  The page fell open at a date in May 2016 - just over a year ago. I began to read what I'd written. " ...feeling down about it all at the moment..guilty that I'm not earning anything and don't have anything to show for what I do all day...should I find a part time job?   That would help, but would I still have time to do what I need to do to develop my business?" "...I'm all over the place, my head is spinning, and I'm not sure which direction I need to go in...Is all this really worth it?" "Went out for a drink with hubby, he asked what was wrong, he'd noticed I'd not been myself...I just let it all out, telling him how I felt....he listened and then told me not to worry, we were ok financially and I had to give it more time.... give it another year and if it isn't working, then we will do something else." Funny how twelve months later, that page came back to remind me. I still have days when I question myself, but not what I'm doing. Along the road I realised that workshops were hard work to arrange and although I enjoyed delivering them, it wasn't what I really wanted to do. It was a process I had to go through in order to make the decision to stop doing them. Drawing and creating artwork for others was what I was good at and what I was passionate about. Once I made that decision, my path became a lot clearer. My Jenny Wren design led to a lot of orders and other opportunities - and a sense of how it felt to be sucessful. More commissions for designs followed, and other artwork was admired and bought by people online and at local events. I wasn't making much money but I knew I was going in the right direction. A year is a long time, yet often feels like just a few moments when you look back to where you were. I'm stronger, much more confident and know where I want to be now. It has taken me two years to be able to tell people 'I'm an artist and illustrator'.  I'm not at Sucessville yet, but It's in my SatNav as my final destination. I may take the odd detour, but I know I will get there one day.
20.03.2017
Gail Armstrong
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A few months ago, I was strolling along with my business, dipping my toe into a few things, learning  what customers liked, didn't like etc. Things were ok, I wasn't expecting to be close to making my first million or anything but I wasn't 'there' yet. It felt like something was missing, that 'something' that would make the business mine.  I'd had quite a lot of success with my drawings of Blyth and the local area, and appreciated the great feedback I'd had, but it wasn't 'the thing' I was searching for.   Last April I wrote a post called Go With the Flow about not forcing things, just going along doing what you do and sooner or later the right thing will come along.  Guess what? She did! Meet my special Jenny Wren The story really starts back in 1981 when I joined the WRNS. I loved every minute of the nine years I served and had always had fond memories to look back on although I had lost touch with most of my navy pals so memories had faded somewhat.  I then decided to do something else I'd always wanted to do and write a book.  As often happens, a few days later, a rather famous writer friend of mine said she was running a children's book writing course. That was my moment. I'd just been paid for a commission and had some spare money in my bank. My friend asked me what I thought I might like to write about.  Although unsure it was suitable for children, I told her that I would love to write about my years in the WRNS and proceeded to ramble on with several examples of things I'd done and experienced. She thought it was a great idea and over the rest of the course my mind whirled. Recalling dates, places, names and events was exhuasting.  So I decided to join a few Royal Navy and Wrens groups on social media to get them to help me out. One of the ideas that kept cropping up was to illustrate the book myself, or at the least the front cover.  I had enough on my plate with the research at that time but thought that if I did a drawing it would help give me a stronger focus on the main character for the book.  I did just that and created Jenny Wren.   What happened next was incredible. I posted the drawing on one of the main Wrens groups on Facebook just to say 'here's my front cover what do you think?'.  For the rest of that evening and most  of the next few days my phone didn't stop pinging notifications of messages and comments to my post.  They loved her, and wanted to buy her. They suggested I use her as a centenary Wren to celebrate 100 years of the formation of the WRNS, and add dates.  I did and sold just over 100 mugs and prints to ex and serving naval personnel - as far afield as New Zealand! It wasn't just that I had sold so many, but also in doing so had realised that I had found 'the thing' that I could draw and make my own.  I had experience of the Royal Navy, I knew what the uniforms were like and who wore them and when. I had wonderful memories of places and situations that I could use as backgrounds and I was also able to join the very groups of people who would want to buy my work.  I began to compile a list of branches and uniforms and people who were interested and just needed to start getting it all together.  I will shortly be adding some of these designs to my Etsy shop So, never give up. Go with the flow and wait until 'your thing' turns up.  Sometimes it is closer than you think - in my case it was right under my nose all the time!
13.09.2016
Gail Armstrong
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www.startwithadoodle.co.uk Recently we went off across the Atlantic Ocean to Orlando, our favourite holiday destination. Planning and packing is almost second nature as we've been going there for years, with various members of the family.  We look forward to it as you do a trip back to your home town, with fond memories of previous times and the excitement of seeing things that are new. This year however,  we all felt a little too familiar with the place, despite huge new renovation plans that have changed the look of some areas significantly. We even stayed in a brand new hotel, but the fun and excitement wasn't there.  It had somehow become just a stroll around all too familiar places.  Even the steak at our all time favourite steakhouse tasted average. This made me think about life, and where fun and excitement comes from.  Any trip or visit to somewhere other than where you live is an adventure, involves planning and maybe a little research. Even if it's for work!  You meet new people, stay in new places and learn things you didn't know before. However, if you start doing that journey regularly, it just becomes part of a routine, and there goes the fun and excitement. In order to enjoy an adventure, I think it has to be challenging in several aspects. Not knowing what to expect creates excitement - fear of the unknown and a bit of an adrenaline rush. Walking around not knowing what shops, restaurants or activity you will stumble across. New smells, noises, accents! I now wonder if had we decided to have a couple of weeks touring in the UK we would have found it more fulfilling. Maybe, or maybe we needed this one last time to finally realise that it's time to find somewhere new to go. I look back at my childhood,  the place I grew up, the places I lived while in the Navy and realise that I rarely explored any of them in the way a tourist would. Is it time we looked closer to home to find an adventure? I know I never appreciated the beautiful countryside on my doorstep in Lancashire, the rugged coastlines and ancient fishing villages in Cornwall, nor now the Cheviots and long sandy beaches of Northumberland.  Next year our holiday will be a new adventure. I want to plan and research and look forward to having no idea what may be around the next corner when walking around new places. Enthuse over local food and do things in real life not the 'pretend' world of Universal and Disney.  I want a good old fashioned adventure, the kind Enid Blyton's Famous Five had every time they said goodbye to their mother at the back door and skipped off merrily with ginger beer and jam sandwiches in their basket! Of course that was just pretend too!
09.08.2016
Gail Armstrong
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You create your day. Did you know that?  If you wake, pull the duvet over your head and groan with despair at the thought of what you have ahead of you, then you have already stirred the grey clouds of gloom that are going to follow you as you drag your body through the day.     Your negativity will cause you to complain that the toothpaste has been squeezed incorrectly, the milk tastes funny and the family are being annoying.  That's before you even leave the house! Your day will be full of irritation and harsh comments directed at anyone in your path. You know how it is, we all have days like that.     The other day I was in a shop waiting to be served and a man and his teenage son stood infront of me. The father snapped at his son to stop fidgeting and stand still. Seconds later he muttered to himself about the delay getting served, followed by another unnecessary comment barked at his son. The assistant called him over to the till, but realised it was in use so politely gestured for him to go over to another one. "This is ridiculous"... he said as he stomped the extra five feet to the till.   As I watched him become more and more impatient, taking his frustrations out on his son, the assistant and probably others afterwards.  I realised he had in just a few minutes created a negative ripple effect that not only affected him, but anyone close by. A lady behind had passed comment about his impatience, and I sensed the tension in the air around him - enough to cause me to think about scenarios such as this and the part they play in our day to day lives.    How about the car that pulls out on the way to work, the queue at the coffee shop, the person who doesn't acknowledge you holding the door open for them, the time it takes for your computer to boot up first thing, the child getting ready for school at snail pace...all of which can be very annoying and usually out of your control, but you do have a choice as to how you react.    If you find yourself becoming tense and irritated over a situation, be mindful of how you feel. In my case my jaw tightens and I feel tension in my neck. If I remain in this state I will develop a headache which may end up as a migraine. I really don't want to end up feeling ill just because I had to wait a few minutes longer than I'd like for a coffee. If it's going to make me late and cause another stressful situation then maybe I should CHOOSE to forget the coffee and get to my next appointment in good time.    I often sit in traffic and observe other drivers getting more and more irritated. If it's due to an accident, rather than get stressed about being late or annoyed because you're at a standstill, CHOOSE to make a call to inform someone you are held up (if safe to do so of course) or CHOOSE to consider the people involved in the accident and their families.    It's sometimes not easy to shake off a dark cloud, but it often only takes a friendly smile, a favourite song or memory to create a chink of sunlight that breaks up the gloom.  If you find yourself getting stressed over situations then plan ahead. Play a particular situation through your mind, but imagine you making positive choices. The more you do this, especially if it's a situation that happens frequently, the better you will cope when you are faced with it the again.    Often we get stressed without reason - worrying about something in the future that may never happen. Learn to go with the flow, life is pretty incredible and if you let it, will take you to where you should be without bashing you against the rocks as you try to change its course. Next time you are out at work or elsewhere, watch how others deal with daily irritations, and be the one who shares a smile or offer of help to chase away someone else's grumpy day.  
01.08.2016
Gail Armstrong
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My first Bullet Journal was a hardback A5 Moleskine which I loved as soon as I started using it. It was the right size for my bag, felt great in my hand and I loved using it for 7 months or so. Then when I came to the last pages I decided to try using a Travellers Notebook - partly because I wanted to see what it was like to use compared to the Moleskine and also because I teach Journaling workshops and needed the experience to share with others. I resisted the urge to buy a Midori, and instead used one I was kindly given by a lady on here who made them. I used various Moleskine Cahier/Chapter notebooks, beautifully covered in coordinated papers, and made my own craft folder. I transferred the notes I needed from the previous notebook added my charm and a sticker. It looked fab. However. It just isn't 'doing it' for me for the following reasons... 1. It's just a bit too big and heavy for me to have in my bag all the time. I'm not one of these people who are able to carry the kitchen sink and a dozen appliances around with them. My bags are medium to small in size. I also need all the notebooks in there, and even if I took a couple out, it would still be a bit too big. 2. It's not as easy to open up and write in. You have to open it up, find the appropriate notebook, flatten it out and then write rather than just finding the next blank page. The width of the whole thing also means your wrist has to be raised depending on which notebook you are using - or alternatively you have to remove it from the elastic band to write flat - another faff-on! 3. It doesn't flow...I love the way using a notebook flows... you can see your journaling journey from the first pages to the last. You can flick through like an animation book and see everything you have done, your changes in style, colour etc. 4. I don't love it like it's my best friend as MissVickyBee on You Tube says we should. I still keep in touch with my old one...it sits on the corner of my desk incase I need to consult it. I'm not ready to say goodbye just yet. Sooooo...now I have a dilemma. My intention was to start using it as a daily journal and then change over the notebooks and make it my holiday journal. Having already set up three chairs to use. It's not two weeks until I travel to Florida and I'm dithering. Part of me wants to persevere and use it while away - for the experience of using it as a proper 'Travel Journal'. The other part wants to put it all on the 'tried it but didn't like it' shelf along with the Filofax I set up to try a while ago, grab one of the beautiful Moleskines I have in my drawer and start afresh. Or, do I take the Travellers and a Moleskine Notebook...just incase I decide to change while away. I'll have lots of time to set it up. Or, do I wait and see how it goes and if I really 'need' to buy a new notebook I can have a look around Florida for one....(because I'm not going to be doing that anyway am I??) What would you do?
11.07.2016
Gail Armstrong
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Being self employed is fantastic! You can be as flexible as you need to be, work around other commitments, and please yourself when to work.  You can hang out your washing between tasks, pop out for a business meeting (aka coffee and cake with someone who is also self employed) or take up a self development course such as relaxation or calligraphy!  It really does have its perks. However...it also has to help you pay your bills and allow you the occasional luxury. This is when it can get a little overwhelming as there is usually only one of you and customer orders have a knack of being like buses from my experience, leaving you with a house like a tip and you working your fingers to the bone at midnight as you try to meet the order deadline so your reviews don't waiver from 5 stars. Whilst pondering over this the other day, trying to think of ways to be more prepared for busy times, it struck me as being just like a roller coaster ride, and one in particular sprang to mind.  SheiKra 1.  You start heading off to the line where it all begins. Lots of anxious foot shuffling while you decide if you really want to do this or not. Everyone is telling you how awesome it is, but you have your doubts. 2.  You make the decision to go for it. Do it now while you are in the right mindset. You join the queue of other nervous people from all walks of life. While waiting you catch glimpses of what's ahead but you can't quite see the whole thing yet. 3.  At the front you meet the specialists, the people in charge, the ones you are trusting with your best interests. They reassure you that everything is going to be fine - and tell you to 'enjoy the ride'.  4.  You're strapped in, you have committed yourself to this and put your shoes in the locker. It's all real and it's actually happening to you. You get the thumbs up from those around you. 5.  The calm before the storm, a few nice steady moments to think about whats around that first corner. Life is good, - you think you might just enjoy doing this. 6.  The long struggle uphill as you realise you actually have to do everything yourself, lots of tense, anxious moments and confidence lapses, will I ever get to the top? 7.  Your hard work pays off and you're there at the top, you can see what you set out to do, its such a relief. 8.  Oh-oh, I wasn't expecting that, I feel helpless, hanging over the edge and unable to control what is happening. Help! 9.  Life is upside down throwing you in all directions as you go hurtling around trying to work out what to do that will make your business successful.  10. Some days you feel you are diving at speed into the jaws of doom, and just want to give it all up and then you come out into the sunshine and things slow down, the view improves and everything feels normal again. 11. Finally, you walk away, bruised, hair messed up and breathless but exhilarated from the ride. You're ready to do it all again, but next time you know what to expect, the times you need to close your eyes, hold on tight or just wave your arms in the air and smile at the camera. Now watch this video and you'll see exactly what I mean.  Buckle up Baby!
24.04.2016
Gail Armstrong
1 Comments
I haven't posted on my blog for a little while. Even though I knew I should, other things got in the way and one day rolled into another... I wasn't being lazy, or lacking interest - far from it - I knew what I wanted to write but needed to get to the place I was heading before I could do so. Yes all very cryptic, but you see I was on an unexpected journey down a river without a paddle and just had to ride it out until I got into calmer waters and could climb out of my boat and onto the riverbank. Now I'm there, resting and ready to share my latest adventure with you all. When I decided to become self employed, my dream was to help people achieve their personal goals using workshops and online training in a creative and artistic way. I started to do this, and was getting  into the swing of social media marketing to promote my work. Life was great. I ticked off the first of my goals with a huge sense of achievement. What I hadn't planned was hiding around the corner, ready to steer me off into something totally unexpected.  Sometimes life is like that.  Sneaky! In a previous post Take a Telling I wrote about listening to what others were saying to you. Lots of people were telling me to sell my artwork. I brushed them off - I wasn't 'that' good. I used comments like "Oh I'm just doing a few doodles", or "I' dabble a bit with drawing and painting". But when people you don't know start telling you, and asking you to do things for them - "because I love your drawings"....you begin to wonder, and then start to believe in yourself. Once you start to believe you 'are' good enough, that's when the magic happens. My sneaky life sent me to meet people who wanted my artwork. I started printing and mounting my drawings, creating cards,  taking them to shops - because the owners loved them and said they knew their customers would too. I'm in discussion with a couple of companies who want me to design for them.  I have had people ask for commission cards....and paid me well for them. It's been exciting lying back and going along with the flow of the river, rough and smooth.  Waiting to see what was around the next curve.  Would it be something new or some seed I'd sown previously coming to fruition? Had I struggled and tried to climb out to the bank, where might I have ended up? In a state of confusion, looking for the path back to where I was before.  I know that if I had done that, sooner or later I'd be back in that boat destined to go somewhere.  Life does that too, keeps shoving you sideways in the hope that you realise that you need to change your path for the better. People in difficult relationships, going around and around in the same tough cycle. When an opportunity comes along to get out of it they often prefer to stay with the familiar 'tough' life rather than take a chance on something unknown. Same with careers. How many times do people tell you they 'hate' their job but never do anything about it? If you visit the 'About Me' page on my website you will read how I had my heart set on going to art college while at school... but sneaky life sent me elsewhere. On two occasions I was given an opportunity to stay in a job where I was using my artistic skills - but I moved on and along the same path doing other things. I carried around the 'I'm not good enough at art' label for many years. Finally after three consecutive unpleasant jobs in training (akin to being slapped in the face kind of experience) I realised something had to change - and here I am climbing out of my little boat heading off to sell my 'good enough' artwork. But it doesn't end there... Now I have done that, an opportunity to deliver more workshops has just come up out of the blue. The river I was on was just a lazy river, you know the ones where you sit in an inflatable ring, lie back and go all the way round until to get back to where you started. Life can be so much better if you let things happen for you. First you need to find your 'passion' and then start to believe that it can be your life.  Once you do, amazing and unexpected things happen. Finally, I would like to share this video with you. I use it daily to remind myself to focus on ME. I hope it has the same effect on you and helps you take that first step to the life you should be leading.
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