Is Poverty the Birthplace of True Creativity?

Does it also lead to deep appreciation and gratitude for the beautiful, simple things in life?

I’ve wondered, on more than one occasion, why I have remained in financial difficulty over the last few years. I mean, I am not destitute, or living on the streets,though if it weren’t for my amazing friends and family, and my credit cards, that may well have become the situation. But the thought popped into my head today, that if money were no problem, then perhaps I wouldn’t be quite so creative. That if money was plentiful and my bank accounts all very healthy, I perhaps wouldn’t be able to empathise and connect with those who have very little, and be able to help them.

I said to my partner last night – “I sometimes feel like my career is taking a while to really take off, to make sure that I learn to remain humble.”

I also think, that the struggle, the desperation, the rough times – all become the perfect material for creating stories and objects that will help and inspire others.

None of this means that I wish to be poor for the rest of my life, but it does seem to be that the ‘starving artist’ mentality may have its roots in the idea that poverty forces you to be more creative with what time, resources and money you have. If your budget is tight, you don’t go out and buy everything brand new for a project. You are more likely to recycle, salvage, and think outside the box. So in fact, having less money is promoting eco-friendly ways of being, too.

I do think that extreme poverty, to the point where you are living in scarcity and are unable to think of anything other than surviving the day, limits creativity, as it seems like a luxury to be creative in those situations. But when you are able to survive, but have a limited budget for things you want to do, I do think you become more creative within those limitations.

I have experienced this in my own life, where I have wanted to do something, but not had much money to spend, I find that I become more creative, and though it may take more of my time, there is something infinitely more magical about the end result. For example, when I did the Harry Potter theme parties, for myself and my friends, there were so many things I could have bought online. So much available merchandise, if I’d had a big budget. But I didn’t. I was trying to do the parties on no budget at all. So instead of buying chocolate frogs, I found a template online, printed it onto card, made the boxes, and then bought a frog mold, and melted bars of chocolate. Instead of buying a sorting hat, I dug out my leather from my notebook making days, and hand-stitched a hat myself. For the house points, I got four pop bottles, turned them upside down and screwed the lids onto a plinth made by my partner. If I’d had a budget, I would probably have bought it all, instead of making it myself. And I think it was the Weasley nature of the decorations that made the parties magical. I also appreciated it all so much more, because I knew how much time I had put into it!

I also mentioned gratitude and appreciation, because I truly feel that until you have experienced the feeling of having nothing, or of going through some very dark times, it’s difficult to truly appreciate and feel gratitude for what you have, and for the simple things. I watched a clip from Oprah’s latest Super Soul Sunday, and she was interviewing Amy Purdy. who is such an inspiring woman. She died on an operating table when she contracted meningitis. She said that when she crossed over, and was told she could stay on Earth if she wanted, she thought about all the things she loved about living, and they were things like – the smell of rain, and the sound of ocean waves.

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She decided to stay, and now, every day, she experiences deep and true appreciation for the simple things in her life, like her coffee in the morning, and walking in nature.

It seems that adversity that comes from illness, injuries, disability or near death experiences also inspires a deep creativity, and appreciation. Amy wanted to snowboard again, despite having had both legs removed, because it was her passion. But there weren’t prosthetic legs that were appropriate, so she created them.

How many of us just trudge through life, without stopping to create something new, without looking at things from a different angle, without pushing the boundaries in order to fulfil our mission and purpose and doing whatever it takes to follow our passions? Do we really need poverty, illness and adversity to wake us up and inspire us to truly shine?

What are your thoughts?

 

Gluten-free Carrot Cake Recipe

At the request of some friends on Facebook, I have decided to post my famous Carrot Cake recipe for you to try yourself. I must admit, it’s just a mixture of two or three recipes I found online (don’t ask me where though, I have no idea) and I have refined it to suit myself, and added gluten-free flour so it doesn’t give me a bad tummy! You could of course use normal flour with it if you wanted to.

Carrot Cake Recipe

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Cake mixture:

Mix the following together in a bowl:

275g Sugar (brown or white or a combination)

200ml Sunflower Oil

Add:

4 Eggs

300g Grated Carrots

150g Dried Fruit/Nuts

Mix together:

225g (Gluten free) Self-Raising Flour

1tsp Cinnamon

1tsp Mixed Spice

And add to the rest. Then add:

A few tbsp. of orange juice

Orange Zest

 Bake for 25-30 mins at 180C (depending on oven, depth of tin etc.)

You can put all the mixture in a deep, loose bottom tin, or in two shallow tins and then sandwich together with the frosting.

 Frosting:

Mix together:

150g Cream Cheese

150g Icing Sugar

I must warn you though, this cake is so good, that less than 24 hours later, you will end up with this:

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What Does Success Mean to YOU?

Success. It’s a word with a lot of weight attached to it. A lot of feelings and emotions, not all positive ones. When you hear the word – what is your reaction? What does it mean to you? Do you think you’re successful? Do you compare your own successes to others? Do you hate those posts on Facebook, which declare the ‘top 5 things successful people do’ or the ‘10 things successful people never do’? Do you read them and think – if I want to be successful I need to change all my habits – and then feel like you will never be successful because that seems to big a leap to take?

My number one most hated question that people ask me most often as an Indie Author is – How many books have you sold? I hate the question for a number of reasons, but one of them is that I know people are asking so they can determine how successful I am – because they are basing my success on sales numbers and therefore my income. Another reason I hate it is because the answer to that question makes me feel far from being a successful author.

At the same time, I know that I don’t want to ‘success’ to only be linked to how many books I’ve sold and how much money I make, so I realised I needed a new way.

During my conversation with my soul, which I posted on Monday, my soul pointed out that it was up to me to choose what my definition of failure and success were. Intrigued by the idea, I used a method from a TED talk I watched the other day, and decided to get very clear about what my definition of success was.

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I went on a bit of a journey, in my bid to discover what success really meant to me, and in doing so, realised that I had created a little process that others may also find useful. I wanted to share the process with you, but instead of simply writing a blog post and posting pictures, for something different, I thought it would be cool to host a google hangout session, and take people through the process step by step, in the way that I created it and discovered my personal definition.

So, having never done this before, I have decided to hold the session on Monday 23rd February, at 8pm UK time. There is an event page on Facebook that has more information, (even if you don’t have a Facebook account, you can still view the page and see all the info you need, such as the link to join in and watch the session, and also what materials you will need to take part), and I will be posting updates there until the event. I won’t be recording the session (too many technical issues) so if you really want to attend the session and cannot make Monday night, do get in touch, because I may host another session if there is demand for it.

Just to make it clear – this is a completely free session, and there will be no selling whatsoever done within the our time together. It is purely and simply going to be me, taking you through the process I went through, to discover what success really means to you. I may ask at the end for feedback on what you discovered from the session, and if it seems like the process works for others, I may then put a video together to post on YouTube.

Really can’t wait until Monday night! Hope to see you there.

 

Revealing Inner Wisdom

A beautiful Earth Angel called George Hardwick, who is on a mission to help others to make a living giving their gifts and living their passion, held an incredible free training session last night, called Revealing Inner Wisdom. It was centred around the experiences he’s had recently, where he has been writing letters to his soul. Please do check out his ten letters on his website, they are truly beautiful.

He mentioned in the session that he had been inspired by the way I write my novels, which is to just allow the words to flow through me, without plotting or planning or thinking too much about it. As he says – everyone can do this, not just me or a select few people. Everyone can connect and converse with their soul, with God, just as Neale Donald Walsch did in his Conversations with God books.

I wanted to share with you the training session which is now available on replay on YouTube, because I think it is well worth watching. Also, during the session, he invites you to write to your soul, and I want to share with you what my own soul said to me, in the hope that it may help you, and inspire you to converse with your own soul.

My question to my soul:

Dear Soul,

Why do I still feel so small?

With love,

Michelle.

The response:

Dear One,

Because you are a single drop of the oneness. Or so you believe. Yes, you are a single drop, but you are also the entire ocean, within that drop. Everything that is, exists within you. Everything. You are infinite, you are eternal, you do not begin or end, you are everything and also nothing. You are big and small, amazing and ordinary. You are all of it. There is nothing you are not. So you can choose to feel small, because you are. But you could also choose to be big. Because you are that too.

It comes down to choice. You can choose to be the powerless victim, or you can choose to be the force for change. You can choose to be successful, or you can choose to be a failure. You can choose what your definition of failure and success is. What do you choose? If you are everything, then you can choose to bring out any qualities you desire. Want to be driven, motivated, excited, enthusiastic and organised? Then simply shift your focus onto those qualities that already exist within you. Because I promise you, they are there.

Want to be abundant, healthy, loving, joyful and responsible? They’re there too! It’s all within you. You are the entire ocean contained within a drop. But it’s up to you which parts of yourself wash up on the shore of your reality and are manifested into your life. If you want beautiful shells, polished glass and unusual pebbles to be washed up and revealed to the world, then focus on those positive things. If you focus on things you do not want, you will just as easily find your beach full of plastic debris, old cans and other rubbish. 

If those things are currently there, then have a beach clean-up day, and clear the way for the gems to appear.

So what will you choose to manifest? Oysters filled with pearls? Smooth driftwood in interesting shapes? Or soiled nappies and supermarket carrier bags?

Choose now. Choose every day. Choose every minute. Clean up. Keep choosing. What you are, who you are, can change in the instant you make a new choice. Choose.

See you on the beach,

Love always,

Soul

x

earth angel training academy

Taking Time Out

Hello everyone! Have you missed me?? It’s been really weird not blogging for the last two weeks, since the end of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. To be honest, I didn’t mean to take such a long break, but I think I needed it.

Though I love having a deadline or a challenge to push me, and I get very productive and creative when time is limited – I do enjoy having breaks inbetween. Because I find that it’s in those breaks that I am in the space of allowing great ideas to pop up, and am taking the time to formulate the next part of the adventure.

I find if you just keep surging ahead, pushing, striving, and pounding the path, then you sometimes find yourself, at some point later down the line wondering – did I go the right way? I was talking to a beautiful angel friend of mine today, who was feeling frustrated and desperate, wondering why everything was so hard, and why she kept getting setback after setback. When I suggested taking time out, doing something relaxing or fun, she replied with – I’m a worker, I don’t like sitting around the house all day.

Which is great, but there are times when your mind and body needs exactly that. When we are in stress-mode, and we are pushing ourselves to work harder, and to make big decisions, the outcome is not always going to be what we want it to be. I made a decision a couple of weeks ago, to move back to Brighton. At the time of the decision, I was feeling very upset and stressed out, and making the decision made me feel better, more in control, and it felt right. But when I had calmed down and relaxed, and the day of the move approached, I had this feeling inside that it just wasn’t the right choice. And in my stressed-out state, I had rushed into making a decision, rather than waited to see what was best. Needless to say, the move didn’t happen, because of several things, but overall, it just felt wrong. And I realised that I should never have made a decision like that while I was stressed out and unhappy.

But isn’t that often the case? When we’re happy we trundle along, merrily skipping down the path, and then when an obstacle trips us up, upsets us or stresses us out, we suddenly evaluate our situation and feel like we have to make a massive decision, and so we do so under those stressful conditions.

What if we were to make those big decisions when we’re happy? When we are relaxed? When we are able to go within and listen to our hearts and souls?

I wonder how much happier and better our lives would be?

What do you think? Do you make decisions when you’re stressed? Do you regret them later? Let me know in the comments below.

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Passion That Can Start Fires

First of all, this is the final post in my 30 Day Blogging Challenge – can I get a high-five?? I did miss a day, but blogged twice the following day to make up for it. So in 30 days, I have posted 30 times. And do you know what? I really thoroughly enjoyed it. (I sincerely hope you did too, I hope the daily emails weren’t too irritating!)

I will probably blog more often from now on, but probably not every day! It’s been a good challenge to come up with something relevant every day, and even though I made a list of 30 things to blog about before I started, I’ve only used a fraction of those ideas.

Today’s post was inspired by a beautiful friend of mine, Miranda, by my circumstances this week, and by the book I’ve been reading for the last two weeks (took me longer than my normal book a week goal), which is The Firestarter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte.

I want to talk about passion. And crazy ambition.

I’ve been struggling to understand why anyone would prioritise their work and their to-do list over having a meaningful relationship, and last night, when I finished reading the last few chapters of Danielle’s book, I finally understood. I had an ‘aha’ moment, you could say.

For too long now, I have bought into the ‘myth of balance’, as Danielle calls it. You know, where you fill in the wheel of life, and see how unbalanced your life is, and how bumpy the ride will be. I filled in an online one, and my wheel looks something like this:

wheel of life

Wow. Seriously out of whack, you could would say. Or is it? I know these kinds of exercises are useful to see what areas could use improvement and a bit of attention, but in Danielle’s Firestarter Sessions, she makes the very important point that when you have a crazy ambition, sometimes you have to cut out and ignore anything that doesn’t help you achieve it. Which means your life will be unbalanced. You can see from my wheel, that all my focus is on my career right now, which is my writing and publishing, and in order to focus on that, I have not been working in a regular job and my finances are not good (though I am getting things sorted now). And in my crazy, working all hours to make things happen mode – I don’t take much time out to have lots of fun, and I do try to keep healthy, but that often slides too when I’m in mission mode.

And as I’ve come to realise this week, when you’re trying to have a relationship with someone who is on a mission, and who believes in your mission, then sometimes having an intense relationship is not a good thing. It’s a distraction. It’s going to derail us from our missions. And I have finally come to accept that in order to pursue what we are passionate about, it means going our separate ways.

I’ve realised that when I really put myself into gear, I can achieve so much. I thought that publishing two books a year was a lot. That it was a big goal. After writing and publishing a book in less than 3 months last year, and writing another book during that same time in just two weeks, I have come to realise that actually, I have been really quite slack.

I am an author. I write books. It has literally been all I wanted to do since I was eight years old. So to only actually write anything for a couple of months out of the year seems crazy. How will I hone my writing skills that way? How will I produce enough material to keep my readers happy? How will I publish enough books to make a living from them?

By putting everything I have into it. By giving myself permission to stop trying to balance my life. There has been this pervading myth that women can ‘have it all’. Husband, kids, career, home etc. But do you know what? Dividing all your energy equally between those things is impossible. If you do manage to, you become exhausted. Sometimes, you really do need to just focus on one thing at a time. Yes, you will upset people, no, it might not always be convenient. But sometimes, it’s totally necessary.

So for 2015, I’ve set myself some pretty big writing goals, because this is the year of focussing on my career. I will try to have fun along the way, but for too long now, I have lacked passion and real commitment to my purpose. I want to wake up every day, desperate to get some words onto the page, and eager to get my books out into the world. I want to experience a passion every day that can start fires.

Not only will I be a firewalker, I will be a firestarter too!

You Freakin Rock!

Me and my fellow firewalker :)

 

Recap of Basket Brigade 2014

To make up for missing a post yesterday, as I was distracted, I wanted to post a second time today (apologies to those whose inboxes are getting filled up, the 30 Day Blogging Challenge is very nearly over, I promise!)

It was Yes Group in London yesterday, which I wasn’t able to attend, but they posted this video of the Basket Brigade day that I took part in just before Christmas. Here it is:

It was a fabulous day, and I would recommend getting involved this coming Christmas. Another wonderful organisation, which is run by the amazing Anita who used to run Basket Brigade, is Anita’s Angels. They distributed bagfuls of items to homeless people all around London in December, they are distributing red roses to people in elderly care homes and at Easter they’re distributing Easter Eggs to children who would go without. Check it out, and if you can, take part. And if you can’t take part, they love donations.

Acts of kindness are what make life worth living.

Just my opinion.

 

Time to Walk Away

Dear Twin Flames,

I know it’s been a while since I wrote to you, I’m sorry. I have been so caught up in my own stuff, my own dramas, that I have neglected you, I do hope you can forgive me.

Today’s letter is not a happy one I’m afraid. Today’s letter is to tell you that you do not need to keep breaking your heart over and over. That you do not need to suffer any more.

This letter is to tell you that it’s time to let go. It’s time to move on. You are far too beautiful, far too important to be hurting like this. Because the pain is stopping you from shining. It’s holding you back.

Do not hold yourself back any longer. If your Flame repeatedly pushes you away, then they simply cannot see your magnificence, they cannot understand how incredible you are.

And until they decide to change their old beliefs, they will continue to pull you in then push you away.

As difficult as it is, it is time for you to say – ‘no more.’

The cycle must end. And you must end it. So when you leave, and the time comes when they reach out, wanting you back, you must say no. You must put yourself first. Otherwise you cannot hope to pursue your mission, your reason for being here.

Perhaps, one day, they will finally understand. Perhaps, one day, a reunion, a wholehearted, harmonious reunion will be possible.

But until then, you have to let go.

It will hurt like hell. But I can promise you this – staying in the cycle will hurt more.

And know that when the pain feels like too much – the angels are with you, always, keeping you safe.

You are so very loved, beautiful Flame. Do not let this pain extinguish your spark.

Sending you so much love and light,

Michelle

xx

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How Do Writers Survive?

I read an article online, about how a writer says she is ‘sponsored’ by her husband, in that her writing doesn’t make her enough to live on, but her husband’s job pays well enough that it doesn’t matter.

She says in the article that writers need to be more honest about how they actually earn a living, if for no other reason than to make budding writers aware that it won’t be a smooth ride to say the least. She had been to events where the author would talk of all their hard work and effort, which has made them successful, but in reality they came from wealthy families, had high-earning husbands or had a lot of amazing connections that ensured their success.

I had a conversation with a friend a while back, who believed that women writers could only be successful if they had wealthy husbands. I must admit, I resisted the idea, not wanting to believe that the only way I could be a successful author was to find some rich schmuk to marry me.

But in the spirit of being honest – there’s a possibility she may well be right. When I am focused on writing (and editing and publishing) my own books, holding down a normal job that pays the bills is all but impossible for me. Because when I have a normal job, I put 120% of effort into it, and have nothing else left, so being creative is quite difficult. So in the last few years, during the jobless periods of time, I have relied on credit cards. So yes, like many other people in the UK, I have credit card debt. Not because I bought designer goods, the latest gadgets or dined out every night, but because I needed to pay rent and for food and car insurance somehow.

Magically, every month, I have made enough money to pay for my basic bills, and eat and have shelter. A lot of this is down to the generosity of friends, family and my flame. And the rest of it is down to my business, The Amethyst Angel, where I help other Indie authors to publish their work.

My living expenses are not paid for by my royalties. Not even close.

But I don’t believe that I will be in this situation forever. Despite the apparent evidence, and my friend’s belief, I do believe that Indie authors can make a living from their writing, and I do believe that I can succeed without needing a wealthy husband. If anything, these tough financial times have taught me what and who is really important in my life. It’s taught me about what I actually need to live a happy life, and what is completely unnecessary. I have come to be truly grateful for the small things, and have gathered a massive amount of material for future books!

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So I’ve made up my mind. Making a living as a writer is not easy, and many writers may be supported by their loved ones, but I refuse to believe that it is impossible to be a successful writer off your own back, making a good living. Because there are many authors who have done just that.

In the meantime, being honest about how we authors survive can only be a good thing.

I think.

To read the article that inspired this post, click here.

That First Book Feeling

Last night we watched ‘Albatross‘ on Netflix. If you have a subscription to Netflix, I would recommend the movie, it really was good. Hilariously funny in place, and quite sad in others, a good British movie. (Okay, so I suck at writing movie reviews, but that’s not what this is, so read on!)

In the movie, there’s a scene where, having written her first book, the character then gets it printed and bound, and then as she cycles home, she has this massive smile on her face. For any writer who has completed writing a book, they will probably remember that ‘first book feeling’. That sense of having accomplished a dream, of having created something you have always wanted to create.

It’s amazing. It’s exciting. It’s a feeling of pure unadulterated joy, because you’ve finally done it!

But it’s short-lived. Because once you have finished your first book, where you were free to create whatever you wanted, free to dream of your success, and free to be yourself, hidden away from view, with only yourself to answer to – you then move out into the publishing world, and from that moment on, you can never have that ‘first book feeling’ again.

Or can you?

After having written and published eight books, it’s not easy to remember that feeling, because every time I publish a book, my mind is already on whether my readers will enjoy it, how to market it, and what book to write next. Stopping to enjoy the fact that another book has been brought into existence, rarely happens, because I have so much to do.

But in order to retain the pure joy that comes from writing, and to remain passionate about creating another work of fiction – I know I must take that time to revel in it, to celebrate it, to enjoy it. And I implore other authors out there, busy doing their own marketing and promoting, to do the same. In fact, I have added it to the list of 100 things I will do in 2015 –

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To all writers out there who are working on their first book – really enjoy every moment! And when you have finished, celebrate like crazy because truly, it is a massive accomplishment and you should be so very proud of yourself for having done it.

If you have any tips on how to celebrate that don’t involve tons of money or alcohol, I would love to hear your suggestions!