You Are Invited!

To celebrate my birthday with me tomorrow, at my Woodland Tea Party that is supporting the Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

Lockdown birthdays don’t have to be depressing! Which is why I have had far too much fun organising a woodland tea party. Fear not, the only ones who will be meeting face to face will be the woodland animals! But I would love for you to join me and them virtually through the FB event page, click here to check it out (it is totally public, you don’t need to be logged in)

I have decided to ask people to donate (if they feel called to, and they can afford it) to the Secret World Wildlife Rescue, because they do such wonderful work for the badgers, hedgehogs, deer, foxes and even mice! They rely on donations from visitors, and I imagine that those have been quite scarce over the last year. You don’t have to donate through me on FB, you can donate directly, or buy them something on their Amazon Wishlist.

I have been to the Healing Weekend which is hosted on the Secret World land, several times over the years, and it really is a wonderful place.

So head over to the FB event page on the 20th January (tomorrow!!) and check out the tea party! (Photos and videos will be posted throughout the day)

What is Self Love?

Last year I was honoured to help a wonderful friend (and author of Not From This Planet’s upcoming release, Burglar to Buddha) to publish a book that he had compiled, called Self Love Now. Simon had asked the question – Why is Self-Love important at this time in humanity? and the book contains answers from 54 visionaries, and is beautifully illustrated.

Working on the book with Simon got me thinking. What is self love anyway?

Some would say it’s setting boundaries in relationships. Others might say it’s eating healthily. Or buying yourself treats. Or saying no to things that don’t serve you.

I think it may well be different for everyone. For me, self love is acceptance. Of my body, my flaws, my finances, my relationships and my current situation. And it’s not a one-off deal. It’s a daily occurrence. Every time my body changes, I need to accept it all over again. Love it completely again. Whenever my home changes, (which is way too often) I have to accept it again. When my relationships evolve, grow or die, I have to accept those new changes again. Self Love is not berating myself for making mistakes. Self Love is knowing that I am doing the best I can every day in every way. Self Love is never speaking an unkind word against myself, even in jest. (still working on this, self-deprecating jokes are deeply ingrained!) Self Love is a quiet joyfulness. It’s my trust in myself to cope with whatever transpires. Self Love is knowing that I am worthy and deserving of love, abundance and joy, regardless of my productivity or creative output. Self Love is knowing that I have my own back. That I am the sole creator of my own happiness. It’s taking responsibility for my emotions, and not blaming someone else for making me feel bad.

The thing about Self Love, is that it is limitless, it is abundant, and when it is felt in every fibre of your being, it spills out from every pore, and shines on others too. And it is effortless. To truly accept and love yourself is to release all resistance. And when resistance is gone, so is effort and struggle.

So tell me, what is Self Love to you?

Creativity is my Therapy

One of my most popular letterpress prints on my own handmade paper

Apparently I started to write this blog post in February last year. I had the title and a single sentence (which I have just deleted), and then I apparently got distracted.

But oddly enough, it is very relevant in this moment, and was relevant throughout the whole of 2020. Crafting and creating is what kept me sane. And continues to keep me sane. Making things is my favourite thing to do when things get to be too much. And right now, I cannot help keep getting more and more materials to make more and more things. Very much like my main character, Caru, in The Girl Who Loved Too Much, I have a LOT of hobbies. 

I letterpress print things on my Adana presses. I knit things. Crochet things. I love making Luna and friends, by Sarah Peel, with their tailored clothing. I enjoy making things out of leather, and stamping metal with words. I love taking photos, making little videos. And then of course I love to write, though you could argue that wasn’t a hobby, but my work. 

Luna Lapin and friends!

Why is creating so therapeutic? I know that not everyone has hobbies to the level I do, but over the last year, I have seen quite a few friends who have declared themselves uncreative in the crafting sense, take up a craft and find themselves enjoying it a lot. And not just enjoying it, but being damned good at it too! 

I genuinely think that a large part of the difference between those who create things and those who don’t, comes down to whether they were encouraged to make things in their childhood. When I was little, we were ALWAYS making things. Always. And I watched my parents constantly make things. It was normal. But when I ran a little crafting group 15 years ago, I found that none of the children were allowed to craft at home. Because it created mess. Because it meant having to find somewhere to put the things they created. Because it didn’t fit into the neat and tidy lifestyle the parents had created. 

Special Edition of The Girl Who Loved Too Much

This is something I tried to address in my latest novel. Is it possible to be creative, while also being wealthy and neat and tidy? So far in my own experience, these things are mutually exclusive. To be creative is to create mess. There are things drying, things in half finished states, things at various stages. Then there are things waiting to be sold, or given as gifts. And money? Well that gets spent on materials, on packaging, on courses to learn more about your craft and on yet more materials. 

But when I consider the question whether I would prefer to be creative or be wealthy, or creative or neat and tidy, creative wins every time. Even though it drives me crazy that I can’t find things. Even though I keep moving house and having so much crafting equipment and materials to move is a nightmare.

Because to create things is part of who I am. These things are extensions of myself. They are manifestations of my thoughts, my excitement, my enthusiasm. And they are my way of coping with things. Of moving through these ultra-weird times we find ourselves in.

So tell me, do you create? What do you create? Why do you create (or not)? If you have Instagram accounts, or somewhere I can see your creations, post them in the comments!

Oh the Irony

So. I blogged four times last year. Yes. A whopping grand total of 4. And one of those was about how I never blogged anymore. And another was about how I needed to relax more, because there was too much to do.

Isn’t ironic? Don’t you think?

(Just as a side note, I was supposed to be going to Alanis Morissette’s concert in Birmingham in September. It was postponed, obviously, and I find it quite ironic that it would have been the first concert I’ve been to in 12 years, and only the third one I’ve ever been to in my life. And it was cancelled because of the plague.

Pretty much like the first flight you’ve ever gone on crashing down…)

Anyway, it’s been on my mind for the last few months to start blogging again, because though I love Instagram, and tolerate Facebook, there’s still nothing like sharing actual thoughts in a semi-coherent fashion and then posting them online for the world to read.

Because, after all, I’m a writer. Well, I have written. One of my other plans this year is to write something every day. Whether it’s a poem, a bit of a novel or a blog post.

Guess what won today?

I have no desire to talk about last year. Not because it was a terrible one for me personally, but because I’m sure, like me, you are tired of hearing about it, and wish people would talk about something else already.

But I will share that I was very busy at the latter end of the year with publishing work, and was very pleased to have published a new novel, The Girl Who Loved Too Much, and also the paperback edition of The Old Soul’s Handbook, and then I also helped to publish a collection of short stories called Delayed Dreams, and a book on the hidden gems of London called Lost London. I’m also in the process of publish a new book called Burglar to Buddha, under our Not From This Planet imprint, Labradorite Press, and also the new Heal Your Home book by Adrian Incledon-Webber. So I haven’t been slacking by any means, in fact, I have spent way too much time on my laptop.

I’m not going to make any wild promises, but I do hope to write on here more often. You have been warned.

The Girl Who Loved Too Much

New Release!

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself in a different reality that was better for you, but not for those you loved?

Caru loves to make things. And collect things. And give gifts. She loves to print, sew, knit, paint. Her life is full of unfinished projects, yet devoid of financial stability and romance. Though she loves her life, she finds herself disappointing people and struggling to keep everyone happy.

So when Caru wishes life could be simpler, and then finds herself in a completely different world, where her life is easy, money is abundant, and her long-term boyfriend is the most fabulous cook, she can’t quite believe her luck.

But will all her wishes come true? Or will the dream turn into a nightmare?

The Girl Who Loved Too Much is a modern day ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.

The Girl Who Loved Too Much is my brand new novel, published by Jasper Tree Press. It will be available in eBook and paperback, but I am also doing a special edition hardback, with a letterpress printed dust jacket and bookmark, which you can pre-order only from my website here.

Michelle says RELAX

Do you relax? And by that I mean, do nothing and just chill, while awake in the day? I think I have somehow lost the ability or the gene to be able to sit and do nothing, because even when feeling ill, I still find it difficult to simply BE.

Doingness has taken over. I must be doing something all the time, otherwise I am wasting time. And because time is precious and finite, wasting it is the ultimate sin.

Which means I find myself chatting to a friend online, while watching Netflix, while eating dinner. Because doing any of those tasks on their own would waste time. And I write a blog, while also editing a book, while checking my email and drinking my tea. Or I sew while watching a movie while talking to my partner.

When did multi-tasking become the only way to be? What happened with just sitting and having a cuppa? What happened to eating a meal, and noticing the tastes and enjoying each bite? Why do I feel the need to cram as much as I can into every waking moment of every single day?

In case you were hoping for solutions, I better warn you now, I have none! Other than – if you feel the same way, then becoming aware of your addiction to doing is the first step in changing it. If you want to change it, of course.

I know that part of my issue is that there is just so much I want to do. So many creative projects, so many work projects, so many things I enjoy… at times when I find myself with some spare time, I get overwhelmed at all the possible things I could fill it with. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed, that all I can do is something domestic and mundane. Relaxing is never really an option. Not when the car needs washing and clothes need folding and the firewood needs collecting and the kitchen needs cleaning.

Being addicted to doing has never really been a problem for me. You could say I’ve thrived on it. But by the end of last year, even though I hadn’t achieved all I’d planned to, I hit something of a massive slump. I felt depleted and exhausted, and in early December I had no energy to do anything at all.

I saw my kinesiologist and got back on track, but it took a long time for my mojo to return. Then in the new year, I got a virus. Now, having got over that and getting myself back on track, I find that I don’t have nearly as much oomph to get things done as I once did, and I wonder if I ever will again.

It’s tricky when the mind and the body are not in sync. When my mind is trying to beat me up and make me feel bad for not getting everything on my to do list done, and my body is saying – I need more sleep, just sit for a while, and it’s okay, you can do things tomorrow – it leaves me feeling more exhausted.

So I plan to use my trusted friend – EFT – to do some reprogramming. Because if my body needs rest, then I need to feel okay with resting, and relaxing. Because feeling guilty about it certainly isn’t going to help my body either. I’m also exploring this whole topic in my new novel, which will hopefully help me to work out a way forward too.

How do you relax? Do you multitask too much? Do you feel guilty for chilling? Would love to hear from you.

No time to relax? Stare at this photo for a full minute and imagine the sound of the waves on the pebbles…

 

Duelling Poets – Coming Soon!

In the summer of 2012, I duelled with another poet, Victor Keegan, for 30 days. each day, we chose a topic to write about, and then wrote a poem each. We took it in turns to choose the topics, and they got pretty random at times! Now, a mere 8 years later (!) we are finally ready to release those poems, and we are asking that you, the reader, choose the winner!

The poems are not credited, so you simply read them all, tick the boxes under your favourites, then tally up the points at the end. Then you can declare your winner on Twitter, using the hashtags #duellingpoets and either #michellewinstheduel or #victorwinstheduel

The book will be available to buy as a paperback and on Kindle, from the 20th February 2020.

May the best poet win!

A decade of blogging

I’ve never really experienced writer’s block in the way that other writer’s describe. Where the ideas have dried up, and they have no idea what to write. Ideas are definitely not a problem.

But I have hit blocks in terms of getting the words and ideas onto the page. Not just when writing books, but also in terms of this blog. In December this year, this blog will be 10 years old, and just a couple of weeks ago, it hit 100k views all time. As proud as I am of this, I wonder where to take things next. With the shift toward Instagram and YouTube, I admit to neglecting this blog over the last year or two, with posts dwindling down to a couple here and there, instead of every week or even every month.

I never used to worry about what I posted, I would just write whatever came to mind, but lately, I haven’t been sharing as much, because there is the pressure to only share what is useful to others, or that teaches, inspires or at the very least, entertains. There is more leaning towards things needing to create revenue and get clients and customers and not just simply provide a glimpse into the world that I inhabit.

I didn’t write any books last year either. I was focused on publishing The Winter’s Sleep by Monica Cafferky, and also found myself moving house too many times to mention! I took part in many festivals and MBS shows, and by the end of the year, found myself needing to focus on my health more, as I got quite fatigued and couldn’t keep up the pace I had set.

I did however discover a passion for letterpress printing, and papermaking, and even leatherwork. So although my writing has been at a minimum, my creative output has been pretty extensive! So I feel maybe I just needed time to be creative in other ways.

I have no idea what 2020 has in store for me, and unlike last year, I haven’t made a huge long list of things I want to accomplish, because inevitably, when I set the bar too high, I end up being disappointed with that I have managed to do. I do however have a few books in the pipeline, some are by other authors and some are by myself, the first one is a poetry book, called Duelling Poets, which I can’t wait to release into the world. (post about this coming soon)

So what direction do you think I should go in? Do you enjoy the random wonderings? Is it just useful information you are looking for? Or more gluten free recipes? (those posts got a lot of views!) I don’t want to abandon the blog altogether, as it has been with me from the very beginning of my writing journey, but I would love to hear what you think.

I do hope 2020 has been kind to you thus far, and that we get to interact more in the coming 12 months!

My letterpress creations! (Available on etsy 😉 )

 

Not From This Planet

What a year 2019 has been! (I’m aware it’s not over yet, but I also can’t understand how it’s October already?!)

I haven’t been as active online this year as I have been busy working on some amazing projects. As well as a brand new business which I am hoping will reshape the way publishing works.

My editor, Liz Lockwood, and I have been plotting, and we have created a whole new publishing model that we are very excited about. This new model seeks to blend the best bits of both traditional and indie publishing, in a way that the author feels supported and it works financially for both publisher and author. Working closely with authors to create books that they adore feels like the best way forward, and so, we have begun our own publishing house, Not From This Planet.

Under this cosmic umbrella, we are creating several imprints to cover different genres, and so far we have four – The Amethyst Angel (Visionary and metaphysical fiction), Labradorite Press (non-fiction), Amber Beetle Books (children’s) and Jasper Tree Press (General fiction).

We are releasing new books before Christmas, please do check out our website and Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates, and if you are interested in finding out more about how our new model works, do get in touch!

promo image 6

The Winter’s Sleep by Monica Cafferky published by Jasper Tree Press

 

Empowerment, not blame

There’s a concept in the spiritual/new age beliefs that says that you create your own reality. That whatever is going on in your life – you have chosen or created it, perhaps not on a conscious level, but on a subconscious one.

I do believe this to be true, and I see a lot of people hating this concept, because they think that they are to blame, or at fault for their illness, their bad relationships, their circumstances, or their situation.

But the way I see it, is that if I am responsible for creating what I am currently experiencing, then I am capable of changing it. If I am not responsible, and it is the creation of some outside person, deity or force, then there is absolutely nothing I can do to change it.

I am powerless. I am at the mercy of the whims of the unknown.

So I prefer to see myself as being the creator of my reality. Because I find it empowering to be in control of my own situation. Because even if there is something I cannot change – I can change my perspective of it. I can change my experience of it.

When it comes to health, if there is a dis-ease or issue in my body, I do what I need to do to heal. I change my diet, I see a professional therapist, I change my thoughts, and I nurture and care for myself. I do not blame myself, berate myself, hate my body, fight it and punish it for failing me. Because even though I believe that I created the issue, it doesn’t mean that I consciously wanted that particular illness. It just means that my actions/thoughts/beliefs up to that point created it, so I need to change them in order to heal it.

When it comes to finances, instead of blaming the economy, my job, or taxes, I now look at where I am spending unnecessarily. I look at what I can save, where I can make more money, and learn how to manage it better. I change my beliefs and my thought patterns.

When it comes to relationships, I no longer blame the other person for what is not working. Instead, I go within, turn up the self-love dial, and make sure that I am in complete authenticity with myself and with them. I make changes in my own behaviour.

When we blame, we hurt. When we take responsibility, we heal.

Perspective is everything, and how you see things will be the way you experience them.

What do you think?