Just a quick observation here.

I’m currently standing in my kitchen, very hungry and feeling quite faint, but ‘unable’ to make myself some food…why? Because I’m stressed.

My (irrational) thought process: I’m stressed because I feel I should have started work by now. So cooking will only cause me to start even later. So I should just start work. But I’m too hungry to concentrate – I need food! There’s ‘nothing’ to snack on. There’s ‘nothing’ I fancy cooking. I am so hungry I’m unable to make a choice. Why am I doing this to myself. Why can’t I make a choice. This is bad for me, I feel sick and faint. 

I’m sharing this because I want to share how stress can affect many more parts of our lives than we might think. Don’t under-estimate it. The thoughts above may sound rediculous to you, but right now it’s quite a distressing ‘block’ that I’m having to deal with. 

I also know this is only temporary.

All experiences are only temporary.

Okay I’m going to have a piece of toast and take it from there…

Wellness Is A Practise

Recently I’ve been stressed.

About money, about organising my life, my work, fitting everything in without compromising on something. Too often it’s my health and wellbeing that is last on the list. And I’ve realised that sometimes you have to practise at caring for yourself, sometimes it doesn’t come naturally because you feel there are ‘bigger things’ to worry about…and yet good mental and physical health are the most important things to nurture in order to live a happy life!

Going freelance full-time has been amazing in so many ways, but the unfortunate reality is that it takes a bit of time to build a client base that can not only support you financially to cover your rent, bills and costs, but also allow you to live comfortably.

To give myself credit, I only need a few more clients and I’ll be in that ‘comfortable’ margin, but it’s easy to fall into old patterns of thinking:

“I don’t work hard enough.”

“I could do better.”

“I’m only holding things together by a thread.”

There’s also a bit of ‘Imposter Syndrome’ going on up there:

“They’ll find out that I’m not really very good.”

“Can I keep the pretence up that I’ve got it together.”

“How can I call myself a professional – I’m too young.”

These kind of thoughts can manifest in perfectionists and self-criticisers. As you constantly strive for those unattainable goals and that ‘perfect’ lifestyle, you miss or are blinded to your real achievements – your ability to live independently, your satisfied clients, your proud partner or parents, the respect and love from peers and friends.

So this morning I was lying in bed, phone in hand, scrolling my life away. Trying to distract myself from those thoughts and the sinking dread that I was slowly slipping back to an internal place I’ve been before and desperately never want to revisit.

I didn’t feel like doing yoga.

I wasn’t inspired to make a smoothie.

But I suddenly realised that I could still force myself to do these things, because they will still be good for me. Even if I’ve lost sight of why.

So I did.

And I loved it.

And I felt inspired.

I created some smoothie art (which I haven’t done in weeks).

I followed my own yoga practise to best suit my needs (instead of just following a video).

And then I felt inspired to share this all with you, because it’s often only when I tell others how I’m feeling, that I really acknowledge it myself (that’s also why I write songs!). And if one other person forces themselves to do something they know is good for their mental or physical health today, no matter how badly they don’t want to do it and feel it won’t make any difference, and find that actually it does…then this post was doubly worth it!

N.B. If you’re thinking ‘I don’t want to have to force myself, tell me how I can make myself want to do these things’…I’m afraid from my experience, the wanting comes later – after you’ve done something which makes you feel good enough times, eventually you override your ‘I can’t be bothered’ thoughts automatically, because you know you’ll enjoy it as soon as you start! My mum is a perfect example; I’ve heard her flop on the sofa after a long day and work and go “oh I’m completely knackered”…and then an hour later be putting on fancy dresses and heels to go off to dance the tango, which she does for fun most days of the week! When I ask her how she does it, she always replies – “Oh I know I’ll perk up as soon as I start dancing, I and I always feel better for it after”. She really is an inspiration!

So just take a deep breath when you’re feeling like you ‘can’t’ do something. Breathe in love, and breathe it back out to the world.

The more you love and are happy within yourself, the more love and happiness you are able to share with the world and those around you, the more love and happiness you will receive.

Circle of life.

Circle of love.

It starts with you.

I Am Now A Full-Time Freelancer!

I Am Now A Full-Time Freelancer!

Since I last posted I finished my part-time job at a shop and took the plunge to freelance full-time  (or Full-Lance as I like to say) in Social Media Management / copy writing / content creating / Squarespace web designing / marketing (on and off-line) and being a general DIGITAL MEDIA COOL GAL.

So far I have 3 wonderful clients that I’ve been working with since before I left the shop and 1 new client. I am earning enough to pay the bills, however this is where my next plunge comes – to broaden my roster!

I’m in my 3rd week of being full-time, but I need to push out of my comfort zone again and start approaching potential new clients. Which is hard, because I’ve just done a big scary thing of leaving my part-time job and I feel like I could do with at least another month before I do another big scary thing. But life is really just one big scary thing after another, and it’ll be worth it when I’m earning enough to do more than just pay the bills! And how about changing the word ‘scary’ to exciting?! That feels better already 🙂

Another thing I’ve quickly realised, is that continuing without a formal contract, especially now that I’m taking on new clients, is a big NO NO. I’m only just about getting by with the random working hours, clients being tardy on delivering content and being paid as and when, but if I’m going to add anyone else to the mix, it’s time to SORT IT OUT.

So my next endeavour is to write up a contract, or an ‘agreement’, detailing exactly what it is I do, when I do it, how many hours paid work they will receive (regardless of their input), when I expect to be paid and how often performance reviews and planning meetings should take place. This will hopefully protect my weekly earnings; at the moment my pay is determined on how organised my client has been that week on creating content (if they have asked to be solely responsible for content). It’s not nice when you’re suddenly told you won’t be earning money this week from them because they haven’t got round to doing what they said they would! If this happens after we sign the contract, I will still get paid for that week and will work on growing their following/improving their online image instead.

I’m excited to get going with it all so am trying to ignore the fact that I have a wrist operation to take out those pins put in after my bike accident in under a week! Luckily it’s my left wrist so I can still use my phone okay and type – just a bit slower, but not THAT slow as Runescape (GOD, remember Runescape?!) got me typing real fast with one hand whilst moving the mouse around with the other 😛

Any other freelancers out there making the full-time leap?!

xx

P.S The picture is a lovely desk that isn’t mine but I blimmin wish it was! My desk is currently my sofa, and the real thing is awaiting shelves so the wood can see the light of day again.

Life Was a Bit Overwhelming Today

Life Was a Bit Overwhelming Today

Life was a bit overwhelming today,

In quite a subtle and normal way,

I didn’t tick off many things from my list,

But the sun melting into the sea, I witnessed.

 

I thought of more cons to applying for that job,

It would take all my freedom, and be a hard slog,

It wouldn’t lead to anything, it’s basically pointless…

…except I could save for that road-trip at last.

 

See this is my problem, it’s a catch 22,

A full-time job earns enough for what I want to do,

But it would take all my time, my non-refundable time,

30 days holiday out of 260’s a crime.

 

I didn’t get any further with my tax return,

But the sea was so calm I tried skipping stones,

I feel like I didn’t do anything ‘productive’,

But today I allowed myself just. To. Live.

 

 

2017: The Year of Contentment

2017: The Year of Contentment

I am not making any new years resolutions.

Well actually in a loose way I suppose I am (but there are no deadlines or guilt-trips): to cultivate contentment.

content
kənˈtɛnt/
adjective
in a state of peaceful happiness.

 

I’m done with tough and unrealistic expectations (mostly put upon by myself) of who or where I should be, of what counts as being ‘successful‘, and of feeling guilty for not seeming to be fulfilling them. Because actually I’m doing pretty great, and yeah I’m going to take a moment to celebrate what I have achieved so far as I so often overlook this (and I bet some of you do to!):

I make half my income from freelance Social Media Management. Yay! This gives me freedom in how I spend half of my week and keeps things interesting. I occasionally feel a sense of achievement when telling someone what I do and they seem impressed – still working on not feeling like a fraud though (another symptom of that dammed perfectionism).

I have a homely flat with my partner, and feel like it’s truly ‘ours’. Even though we’re just renting, we are able to feel more at home here and we don’t have to sublet a second room out to my mum for her work ,which takes a lot of stress and guilt from taking money from her off the table.

I have lovely friends! They’re mostly all over the place (literally, spread out over many countries) and always seem to be leaving, but these are keepers and distance doesn’t weaken the friendship, it just kind of pauses it until we’re reunited and laughing again. And the ones I have close to me are so incredibly supportive. Another conscious decision this year is to make sure I plan quality time with each friend and arrange group activities as much as possible – it really is hard to be down when around friends!

I think some songs I wrote last year are really good, and I’m so excited to share them with the world! My songs are like diary entries – they help me process my emotions and find beauty and art even in suffering. I hope to work with musical friends I admire this year to bring them to life. My aim with my music and the interviews I plan to do with the musicians I work with, is to add a perspective on the discussion of depression and mental health – to help people realise that it is just as common as physical ill-health, and needs to be prevented and treated in the same way; with gentle care, diligence and perseverance.

I have changed my outlook on life.

Before, it was ‘I should have more clients by now’, ‘I should have made an album and toured Europe and be on my way to being “successful”by now’ (it also really doesn’t help that the term ‘successful’ is undefined and fluid in my head, mostly based on perceived successes of peers), ‘I should be exercising more and taking the time to cook ‘healthier’ meals from scratch’, ‘I should be going to more events and socialising and networking more’.

But now, after a long low period and much internal processing, I am pleased to say I now think more like: ‘I have a few good clients and I can’t wait to find more and see what paths they lead me down’, ‘I am happy with my music and excited to collaborate and share it – whatever scale, even if it’s just local to Brighton is fine with me, as long as I’m doing it’, ‘I am already content doing regular yoga at home and look forward to supplementing it with dance/zumba/whatever classes when possible, and I’m also excited to take on physical challenges, like hikes, with friends. I am also looking forward to broadening my cooking skills and creating a folder of new recipes I’d like to try – maybe I’ll even create my own recipe ebook of my favourites to share with others.’ and ‘I know that I enjoy time with my friends, but that constant networking and socialising can be draining for me, therefore I won’t agree to go to events unless I truly want to – this will also eliminate guilt of cancelling last minute.’

This sounds more like the ‘old’ me – the me before I left home and had to rebuild my confidence and sense of self from scratch, the optimistic and ever-hopeful me, whose enthusiasm always somehow got me where I wanted to be.

And now it is ‘me’ again.

It’s taken me a year or two, but I am now starting to feel content with my life – I have been enjoying the little things each day, instead of feeling paralysed at the thought that somehow I could be enjoying life more – if I was just like this or had done that. I have also gotten over the shock and sense of injustice that one must cultivate ones happiness and good mental health – I can’t just breeze through life and expect not to be knocked down or faced with hardships and bounce straight back. I must put fail-safes in place, do things every day to keep a positive outlook, and sometimes just recognise and allow a negative emotion to be…and then let it pass without feeling self-pity.

I welcome 2017 with open arms – because now I truly understand that only I am in control of my own happiness…and that’s actually a good thing!

I hope you too have a happy and contended year,

 

Zoe x