Happy 2016!

Hello beautiful soul!

Just wanted to wish you all the best of everything you wish for in 2016. I took some time out over Christmas and New Year, and that little bit of extra head space has allowed all sorts of mad and wonderful ideas to pour in, and now I am in need of creating a plan to action them! Some of them are already in process, and I know that others will need crazy deadlines in order to become a reality. I have new characters and stories running around in my head and lines of dialogue where there should be rational thought. So despite my decision to hold back on writing and publishing in order to focus on the marketing and other work, it appears that the Universe has completely different ideas!

2015 was indeed an interesting year, and to summarise, I published two more books in the Earth Angel series, I worked in Scotland briefly, I took part in Campnanowrimo, I did a 30 day blog challenge, and most surprisingly to myself, I managed to use my organiser, Astrid, for the entire year! In fact, she has been stripped of old notes and the 2015 diary, and there are shiny new empty pages just waiting to be filled with plans for this year. When I began using Astrid in January 2015, I was nervous that she would end up the same way as so many previous diaries did, put to one side and forgotten. But we are still best buddies! In fact, I did a little makeover, using some free printables I found online:

12465652_10153157622497163_773484409_oTaking the time to do some small crafty projects over Christmas, reminded me just how much I love to create things. I wasn’t planning to make any resolutions this year, but I do hope to be more creative, and make boring things pretty!

I will be adding a few things to my vision board, and I will be setting my intentions and goals in the next few days. I have a feeling that 2016 is going to be very interesting, and I am going to do the exact opposite to what I tried to do in 2015 (which was make a plan) and I am going to go with the flow!

In other random news, I was very pleased to have just passed the 40k views mark on this blog over the last few days! I started the blog when I began my journey in 2011, and in that first year, my blog received a total of 251 views! In contrast to that, the views for 2015 came to just under 18k. They might seem like small numbers compared to some sites that receive thousands of views per day, but I think it’s quite an awesome achievement. My readers in 2015 came from a total of 139 different countries! Knowing that these words are read by amazing folk like you all over the world makes me want to really share things that will inspire, help and make you smile šŸ™‚

I do hope to blog more often, I know that I slacked off towards the end of last year, when I got busy with creating the Earth Angel classes and with editing work.

Wishing you an awesome New Year, whatever you decide to do with it! Thank you so much for reading my posts and supporting me in the last year, I really do appreciate it!

 

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 duringĀ 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 šŸ™‚

 

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:

http://youtu.be/X1TaNuOSdZw

It was a fabulous day, and I would recommendĀ 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.

 

A New Publishing Blog

amethyst angel logo green

A week ago, I started a brand new blog, over on my publishing website – TheAmethystAngel.com. I am undertaking the 30 Day Blogging Challenge on that blog to get it going, and have had a wonderful response to the 7 posts I have put there so far. I am blogging about all the different steps and elements there are to independently publishing your own book. Each blog post will cover an aspect of self-publishing. I have so far covered some tips on self-editing, whether Indie Authors should have publishing imprints, how to send documents to your Kindle and some of my favourite uses for Scapple.

Over time, there will be enough posts on there to assist authors in every step of their Indie Publishing journey. I am writing posts somewhat randomly, choosing topics that come up and that I am inspired by each day. But I am categorising the posts so that it’s easy to find what you need easily.

I am opening the door to questions, so if you are an Indie Author and you want to ask me something, then email it to me at theamethystangel@hotmail.co.uk and I will create a post to answer it, as I’m sure many others are likely to have had similar questions.

 

Adventures with Astrid – January

In December I began my Adventure with Astrid, in my attempt to change my haphazard ways and become a more organised person for 2015. The reasons for this were to get my life in order and to make things happen that require some kind of long-term planning. The first step I took was to buy myself a gorgeous planner, who I named Astrid. In my planner I have sections for everything. Addresses (I’m always losing my address book) diary, goals and dreams, to-do list, and notes from books I’m reading and ideas I have.

Astrid has stayed faithfully by my side since I bought her, and since the beginning of the year, I have been filling her up every day with things I want to do, but I also have used her to form some daily habits that I have wanted to have, but never got round to creating.

Some things have been blanked out to protect the innocent. Hehe

Some things have been blanked out to protect the innocent. Hehe

Having Astrid by my side has helped me to take part in a 30 Day Blogging Challenge, of which I have done every day for the last 19 days on my author blog, and I have also begun a new blog on my business website, all about Indie Publishing, and I am on day 4 there.

I have started the habit of meditating daily, going for a walk every day, reading a book every week, reading through my Love List every other day and writing one thing I am grateful for every day.

My Sunday walk in the woods

My Sunday walk in the woods

In terms of long-term plans, however, that still hasn’t really happened. I had a session with the Time Doctor, Mike Gardner, and he helped me to realise that I am a creative person, and not a linear-thinking, organised person. So perhaps instead of trying to become linear – I should come up with creative solutions to my problems.

Part of me still very much wants to just go with the flow, and just see what happens along the way. But another part of me really wants to break the cycle of not moving forward in certain areas of my life. I think if things were good financially, then I would feel more justified in going with the flow, because I could afford to. Which might not make a scrap of sense, but it seems to make sense to me.

Anyway, my plan now, is to create creative solutions for the areas of my life I’m not happy with. I thinkĀ the solutionsĀ need to be very visual, colourful, fun and maybe even a bit silly. But I’m not sure yet what they looks like or where they’ll come from.

What I have realised, is that having a structured routine might just not be the right way forward for me. So although I have daily ‘action’ lists, I don’t stick to rigidly to doing each thing at the same time each day, as long as I can tick it off the list by the end of the day, when it happened doesn’t matter. Though I have been trying to fit my walk in before dark!

I consider my adventure to be successful so far, as I feel quite calm and peaceful, which I think is down to the meditation. In all the years I have been reading spiritual self-help books, I have never had the daily practice of meditation. But I can see now, finally, why so many people swear by it! It creates a space in your head, it makes room for growth, for new ideas, for love to envelop you. In fact, I think I may sign off now to meditate for a while.

How are your New Year plans coming along?

Michelle Gordon and the Epic Harry Potter Party

A year ago right now, I was getting the last-minute thingsĀ ready for my Harry Potter theme party to celebrate turning 30. I had already sent out the invites by owl, had begun to turnĀ the house into Hogwarts, and made a lot of chocolate frogs. Having done two other Harry Potter parties already by this point, one for my best friend, Liz Lockwood, and another for a very good friend, Annette, I already had many of the props and decorations. I created a site to house all the photos, called Lumos Parties.Ā 

Despite the crazy weather on the day, we all had a great time, though the quidditch match was cut a little bit short!

It was great to see some friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and to drink butterbeer and eat Hagrid cake. My sister was a fantastic Professor Trelawney, and her readings really were quite accurate! (Which freaked a few people out!)

Anyway, just thought I would post a little gallery of my favourite photos, and the video I created of the day. Can’t quite believe it was a whole year ago though, will be 31 in a few days!

[youtubeĀ http://youtu.be/iU8v72kYaPw]

 

Permission to be Myself

I was inspired to write today’s blog post after having a great Skype session with Mike Gardner, aka The Time Doctor. We met on Facebook through the 30 Day Blogging Challenge group, and he suggested we have a session to see if he could assist me with my time management problems.

Well how many ‘aha’ moments can you fit into an hour and twenty-minute conversation? Quite a few apparently. The first thing to come up, was that based on the way I speak, the terms I use to describe things and my chosen vocation, Mike identified that I am very right-brained, and very creative. Which means that I simply don’t think the same way that left-brained, logical, structured people do.

AND THAT IS OKAY.

It’s who I am, it’s how I think, it’s how I work. It’s not defective, it’s not wrong, it’s not awful. So why do I keep beating myself up over it? My family members areĀ all very creative people. My dad is a photographer, a musician, an artist and a craftsman. My mother is a quilter, patchworker and craftswoman. My sister is an artist, musician and graphic designer and my brother is a musician and handyman. It would be downright odd if I were left-brained, to be honest, coming from the background that I do. At home, we didn’t really do routine or structure, aside from school and work. We were encouraged to be creative, to do our own thing, to be original.

We weren’t encouraged to be practical, to save money, to be disciplined and stick at things we hated. (In fact my dad did work in a very corporate background, and he did stick to it, but seeing how miserable he was doing it, put me off that kind of life completely).

I realised after my session with Mike that I had created this link in my mind, that the reason I was in a bad position financially, was due to my haphazard (creative) ways, and so if I was to solve the financial issues, I would need to become more organised, more structured, and more left-brained in order to solve those problems. Because being creative = being poor. And this isn’t unusual thinking. After all, the ‘starving artist’ concept is so strong in our society, that when artists, musicians or writers do make a lot of money, it’s a big deal, because it’s seen as being so out of the ordinary.

I could go on about this all day, but the point is, I have now unlinked those concepts in my mind. Because I don’t choose to live in a world where to be wealthy you have to be left-brained. I choose to live in a world where if you are living a life full of passion, love and service, you get to be wealthy. If working in a highly logical, structured way is your passion, then you should be wealthy. If working in a creative, authentic and unstructured way is your passion, then you should be wealthy.

The reason that I have tried so many times to implement structure in the hopes it will help me sort my finances, and yet have always failed with it, is because I was trying to be someone I was not. I need to play to my strengths – which is to be creative – and use that ability to sort it out. And in allowing myself to come up with creative ways to solve my financial problems, I have already had several awesome ideas, that not only will help me, but will also help others who have similar issues.

Wow. The above is just talking about a single ‘aha’ moment I had in my session with Mike. If I wrote about them all, it would be a ridiculously long post. Because suddenly, I have been given permission to be myself. And I cannot believe it has taken me this long, or that I needed someone else to give it to me, but at least from this moment on, I will no longer strive to be someone I am not. I will strive to be me.

I went into my session with Mike expecting him to give me some strategies on how to be more efficient with my time, and yet I came away with something far more valuable and awesome. I would recommend checking out Mike’s blog, where there is a wealth of information. Or get in touch with him to arrange a session. In the meantime, just in case you need it – I hereby give you permission to be 100% yourself. Because you are awesome šŸ™‚

Ā being-yourself-quotes-pictures-2-f71e1589

PS. I just Googled ‘Be Yourself Quotes’ and looked at the images to find an image for this post. I loved the one above because I love Richard Bach’s work, but there were so many great quotes, check them out for yourself šŸ™‚

My Favourite Recipe – Gluten Free Lemon Meringue Pie

I know this is not my normal kind of post, but I am currently embarking on the 30 day blogging challenge, which means blogging every day. (Blog followers, I apologise for appearing in your inbox every day, I promise I will still only post things of value!) I wanted to do some more diverse posts, rather than my usual fare, so for something completely different, I though I would share some of my favourite recipes, this is my most favourite one of all.

Because it’s not a topic I discuss on my blog, I haven’t mentioned that I am a gluten-free veggie. Because of this, I doĀ a lot of my own baking and cooking, and have tried out lots of different recipes. I will share more through this month, I’m sure!

(Disclaimer: This recipe was not created by me, but it is a mixture of a couple of different recipes, of which I cannot find now. And I haven’t always made a perfect pie every time using this recipe, but the latest attempt was pretty amazing!)

Gluten Free Lemon Meringue Pie

wpid-20150103_192851.jpg

Pastry Ingredients:

250g Plain GF Flour

100g Icing Sugar

125g Butter (cut into cubes)

Zest of one orange

1 egg yolk

splash of milk/water

Method:

Mix flour and sugar. Rub the butter in to make crumbs. Add zest, egg yolk and milk/water to combine into a ball.

Refrigerate for 30 mins. Then press into a shallow dish (sometimes you can roll it out, but the GF flour makes that a little unpredictable)

Cook for 10-15 mins with baking paper pressed on top, then remove paper and cook for further 5 to 10 mins until brown.

Filling Ingredients:

2 tbsp Cornflour/GF Plain Flour

100g Sugar

Zest of 3 Lemons

Juice of 3 Lemons

Juice of 1 Orange

50g Butter (cut into cubes)

3 Egg Yolks

Method:

Mix the flour, sugar and lemon zest in a saucepan. Put on the heat and stir in the lemon juice gradually, allowing time to thicken (much like when making a cheese sauce)

Add the juice of the orange to 200ml of water, and then add the mixture to the saucepan gradually. The more gradual the additions, the thicker and lovelier the mixture.

Cook until thick and smooth, then remove from the heat. Beat in the butter, then stir in the egg yolks and then return to the heat until it bubbles. Then leave to cool.

Meringue Ingredients:

4 Egg Whites

200g Sugar

Method:

Beat egg whites until stiff. Beat in half the sugar, then when smooth, thick and glossy, stir in the rest of the sugar.

Put the filling in the pastry cases, and then spoon the meringue on top. Cook for 20mins (depends on size of the dish you’ve used, and the oven type, it may need up to 30 mins) at 160 degrees celsius.

Then serve up and enjoy! (It won’t last long!)

Ā wpid-20150103_202036.jpg