De-weeding the Mind Garden…

De-weeding the Mind Garden…

Hey peeps, and welcome to another Project Unicorn blog. I’ve been struggling for several weeks now with my anxiety and depression, and I’ve felt completely buried under this cloud of mind fog and confusion. I haven’t felt inspired and all I’ve wanted to do is curl up in a fluffy blanket and go hide in a cave somewhere (preferably with access to Skyrim and Game of Thrones).

Just let me sleep

But that’s not going to make me feel better, is it? Happiness isn’t a destination and it doesn’t just happen on its own. Happiness is working at it every single day. I always think of my mind like a garden. As you might have guessed by now, I’m a ridiculously metaphorical person. The world I see around me is full of stories and everything is something else. It can be amazing and makes for a very interesting way of telling a story, though it can sometimes leave people looking at me with that ‘what exactly was she talking about?’ expression.

So, yes, my mind is a garden. Right now I’m stepping outside into my garden for the first time in weeks and I’m looking around with a mixture of dismay and determination at all of the weeds and vines choking my flowers of happiness.

You see, my happiness is a bunch of tulips and some sunflowers, some pretty roses and lavender… and a bunch of other flowers that look and smell great even if I don’t know what they’re called. I’m a metaphorical gardener, not a real one! I see a real life bug outside and I squeal and run back into the safety of my house (whilst trying not to squish the darn thing on my way inside).

Bug response

Anyway. In my mind-garden, my little chibi-cartoon self is pulling on her sparkly gardening gloves and rolling up her sleeves ready to tackle the choking weeds of self-doubt and the vines of sadness. It’s not that these weeds don’t have a place, it’s just that the vines belong in the greenhouse of grief (which thankfully doesn’t need to be opened very often) and the weeds are from the anxiety meadows over the fence. They keep coming back into my little garden even though I keep pruning them back.

Because, peeps, self-doubt keeps coming back. If you’re susceptible to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem or self-doubt, any of these things, it takes constant work to keep your head above the water and keep those weeds out of your sunny little garden.

So, let’s begin. The first weed of self-doubt is a writing one. This is a large weed with a very deep root and lots of stalks. Each stalk is a question that Steve the Demon Monkey uses to poke me with, bruising my little unicorn butt and making me stumble and fall. Am I a good writer? Will I ever actually finish my novel? Will anyone really like it?

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These doubts seed other doubts and before you know it, the sunflower of writing is overwhelmed with this dark grey mess of stinging barbs and pointy thorns and I can barely choke out a sentence to keep the flower from withering.

So, I take my sparkly gardening gloves and I start pulling back those thorns. It hurts and I’m very scared. I’m scared right now, writing this blog with the knowledge that it will go out onto the internet and be read by other people. What if you hate it? What if you don’t care at all?

But then I remember that I don’t write because I want to make money, I don’t write because I want to please other people or have them think well of me. I write for me.

And all of a sudden the weeds come away and my sunflower reaches up to the sky again. I think ‘yes, I can do this.’ And I look around at the possibility of everything I could achieve. I like my writing style, I like my characters. Someone else out there in this vast world will probably like them, too. And if not? That’s okay. Because, when I really get down to it, I’m writing my book for me. I’m writing this blog for me. I just happen to want to share it with other people in the hopes that it can make you laugh and maybe help a little bit, too.

Sunflower

Now. I brush my hands off and mud sprinkles over my rainbow wellies. This kind of gardening is so much better than real life gardening. In my real life right now it’s raining. In my mind garden it’s sunny, the sky is blue and there are fluffy white clouds drifting overhead. I can hear a robin singing and sparrows chirruping. If I imagine hard enough, there are also some cows mooing.

Ah, sweet English countryside.

I digress. I haven’t written in a while. The last few blogs I started I gave up on halfway through. This is fun!

Now for the money vine. That one is choking my tree of inspiration. It’s sort of like a pear tree only the fruit is all gold and glowy. The money vine, however, does not have leaves made of money but bills. It oozes a sticky sap called ‘gnawing worry’ that seeps into the trunk of my inspiration tree and stunts its growth. The little tree is all gnarled and bent over, wispy leaves withered and dry, no fruit hanging from its branches even though it should blossom all year round.

Money worry is often the blocker to creation and success. Whilst financial stability and a degree of material possession can be a good incentive – like saving up for that really cool Friesian horse that you really want because it just looks so absolutely gorgeous with its long floofy mane and tail and it would be so much fun to ride and you could enjoy the clip-clop of its big hooves as you rode it down the street… – too much thinking about money and possessions quickly turns into fear. Fear that you don’t have enough stuff, that you won’t be able to pay your bills, that you’ll never have enough money to live the life you want…

The money-worry vine is very closely related to the ivy of self-comparison. It’s a slow-growing mind plant that can, in the right place and with the proper pruning, be a useful form of motivation. Competitiveness comes from a well-maintained self-comparison ivy. When we want to do better than someone else because it is closely tied with a strong belief in ourselves and watered with words of confidence, it can be a useful plant and very strong. But left unchecked and choking the life out of the flowers self-esteem? That’s no use to anyone.

Whenever I worry about money, my train of thought inevitably slides along to negative comparison. I look at other people, colleagues at work, people on TV and even strangers in the street, and I wonder how it is that they’re so much better than me. They seem to have their life together, they know themselves and they’re just cool. My wife is cool. She always seems to self-controlled and calm, even though she says she’s actually very anxious.

A nettle catches me as I chop away at the ivy and vines. Ah, good old weight nettles. One of my biggest fears and my biggest source of self-comparison. I feel like I have to compensate for my weight, for being fat, because to be overweight is to be a failure.

To be me is a failure. Strip away the nettles, the vines, the ivy… all of it and there it is. The root of it all that just won’t come out no matter how deep I dig.

You’re not worth it.

That message got put inside a very long time ago and it’s the reason I have this struggle with the weeds in my garden.

I take a step back and brush off my hands again. My little wheelbarrow is full of weeds. I don’t need them. They don’t belong here. What am I going to do about this root? It seems bigger than before. It’s grown back.

Well, I’m not a unicorn for nothing. I have magic inside me. It comes from a place of love. It’s a diamond, strong and shiny, and it fills me warmth. When I feel like giving up, it’s what whispers at me to try again.

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Marvin the Unicorn!

So I kneel beside the root and I feel sorry for it, because it came from a very unhappy plant in the mind garden of a very unhappy person.

And then I sprinkle unicorn dust on it. Because I AM worth it. I’m great, just the way I am. I’m amazing because I’m me and I’m alive and that’s amazing.

I know my unicorn dust won’t kill the root but it shrinks it and makes it retreat back under the fence, out of my mind garden again. The sun is shining for me again, burning away the fog of depression. I look around my garden, at the trees and flowers with space to grow again, and I’m happy.

I can do this. I can do anything.

WE can do anything.

Stay amazing, my fellow unicorns. I’m sure I’ll see you soon!!!

 

Laura x

Unicorn has no voice!

Unicorn has no voice!

Hey peeps, and welcome to another Project Unicorn blog!

I’m sorry for the radio silence over the last couple of weeks – my anxiety and depression have flared up again and I’ve just been a total social media hermit.

HOWEVER, I am feeling much better now, so I’m looking forward to blogging more frequently and creating more YouTube videos. Watch this space for updates and links.

No Voice?

So, for the last six days, I’ve had no voice. It started with the dreaded lurgy (a cold, for those of you who aren’t a drama llama.) Then it turned into tonsillitis. I’ve never had tonsillitis before, because I’m lucky, but that luck has most definitely run out. My glands swelled up until they were visible in my neck and my voice was completely and utterly gone. I’m on the mend now, painfully slowly, and am just taking one day at a time. Even though I want to jump right back into making videos, I have to heal first, because I still sound like I’ve been smoking 40 Virginia Slims every day for 20 years.

Hybrid Update

Excellent news on the book front – I’m steaming along, minus the last 4 days of being too ill to sit up and write – and have written six really good chapters so far. This coming from the Queen of the Re-write… having just under 20k of words that I’m happy with is really good news.

I intend to keep going at this pace as I really want the book finished this year. Hold me to my promise, fellow herd-members!!!

Chapter Seven is currently in progress, and I’m particularly excited because one of the main romances begins in this chapter. Raize meets Nathan at Nico’s Christmas party. It’s a small scene but it’s the seed for their entire relationship, which continues throughout the series. I’m so happy!

Work Update

Work is… well. It pays the bills, eh? Haha, I’m sorry, I’ll try to be more of a positive bean… Um… Work is… fine…

To be completely honest, I’m looking to leave my job. I want to set up my own dog-walking and dog-sitting business, so I’ll be creating my Wix website soon. And I’d like to do freelance copywriting, proof-reading, admin and editing in my spare time, since I’ll have hours in the day available. Imagine how much writing I could get done!

2017 Resolutions – An Update:

  • To write at least 1 sentence of my book every day
  • To create at least 1 Project Unicorn YouTube video every fortnight
  • To post at least 1 Project Unicorn blog every week (even if it’s really short!)

Okay… so I’m mostly keeping up with the resolution of writing 1 sentence of my book every day… I didn’t do any writing for the last 4 days because I was really poorly, so I’ll forgive myself for that. I need to do some writing today to keep up with that resolution… I’m really glad I checked back about these resolutions, actually; I’ve got a terrible memory and it’s nice to know what I signed up for!

Project Unicorn video every fortnight… it’s ‘mostly’ happening… I was REALLY consistent at the beginning, even posting twice a week, but then I slipped and it wasn’t even that I couldn’t find the time, it was that I didn’t feel good enough or worthy enough for YouTube. I felt guilty for creating content when I don’t watch that much of it. I’m one of those people who goes onto YouTube for 8 hours of club music or nature sounds, or to watch a fan video about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson kissing (or at least intimate eye-staring with imagined kisses in between). I suppose I just need to get on with it. Claire told me not to worry about what I ‘should’ be doing, ‘cos I was winding myself up with ‘I should be networking more’, ‘I should be watching more made content’ etc. She reminded me that I’m free to do what I want on YouTube… for such a rebellious, punk-loving creative Unicorn, I’m really scared of leaving the rulebook and heading out on my own. What does that say about me??

Finally… to post at last 1 blog every week… yeah… I’ve been really neglectful of this blogsite. I feel so guilty, because it’s such a great site and I really enjoy writing the posts when I actually do it! So, no more torturing myself for the things I HAVEN’T done. Here’s me picking myself up by my rainbow-coloured cotton socks and giving myself a big grin and saying ‘I CAN and I WILL.’

What’s Up This Week?

I’m working on my final assignment for Uni this week – it’s due on Thursday. Then we’re into the final leg because it’s REVISION TIME ready for the exam at the start of June! Great news, though, folks! I got 85% on my last essay, which is my highest score yet, AND included 2 poems that I had to analyse! I went with my gut instinct, had fun with it and it paid off!

Lesson learned: Stop trying to please other people by changing who you are. Embrace yourself completely and let your inner light shine through.

On that note… I’m going to do some writing now.

 

Toodles!

Migraines aren’t so bad

Migraines aren’t so bad

Hey peeps, and welcome to another Project Unicorn blog!

I’m feeling REALLY GOOD today! I woke up with a mild migraine starting in my left eye, but after taking a tablet and having another hours’ sleep, I’m OKAY! This is fantastic news, my fellow herd-members! It means the medication is working and gives me a chance to get back to my normal life!

What am I up to this weekend?

So, right now I’m editing a video for the YouTube channel that was *supposed* to go up yesterday… I got distracted… so that’ll be posted today. Then I’m going to do some networking and give myself permission to fall down the YouTube rabbit hole, where I basically lose about 4 hours just watching other peoples’ videos and commenting on their content.

Then it’s time for a bit of uni work. My next assignment is due in 3 weeks so I want to get a head start in case I get ill again. I don’t think I will, but it’s better to be organised, eh?

THEN, a bit of Hybrid and making a roast dinner. Claire’s hoping to live stream on Twitch this evening so we’re going to eat earlier so she’s all full and ready for a 4 hour art session.

Of course, a spot of cleaning and some laundry will feature in between these activities. I think I’ll walk the dogs when Claire’s live-streaming… It’ll be dark but there are some nice walks in well-lit areas where we can go, and I’ll take them to Bradgate Park tomorrow for a big run around.

Wooh! Onwards!

Life (and other distractions)

Life (and other distractions)

Hey peeps, and welcome to another Project Unicorn post! Wow, these last few weeks have FLOWN by! I feel as though I only just wrote the Poorly Unicorn post, but here we are, on the 1st of February…

What have I been up to?

Well, I FINALLY got my assignment in, and am now waiting for the results to come back. I really hope I get a good grade… I worked so hard on those 1,500 words! I’ve never struggled to get a sentence out as much as I did when considering the rhyme scheme of two Romantic era poems.

Eugh. For a writer, I don’t enjoy studying the language itself. I think it’s because, for me, it takes the spontaneous inspiration out of the moment, the flow from the creative world to the page through my fingers on the keyboard… I find my writing either very stilted or woefully fast-paced and shallow when I’m writing by hand, too. I don’t think my hand can keep up with the words in my mind, whereas I can type much faster and so keep up with the ideas as I’m having them.

I think it might also be because writing, for me, isn’t a conscious act; I’m simply a conduit for the things happening in the other world that I can see, and I can see into the characters’ minds and so record what’s happening. I’m just a means of getting the story out into this world… If I then start to break it down and analyse why a writer chose a certain word… It takes some of the magic out of it for me.

Still, I’m doing a Creative Writing module next year, which should be a lot more fun. And I’m learning a lot of valuable lessons about writing and literature in general. If nothing else, it’s all good practice in essay writing and constructing a solid argument.

YouTube

I’ve now got 9 videos up on my Project Unicorn channel – this latest addition is a slightly longer video where I cover 28 things I’ve learned in 28 years! (I’m nearly 28, so it’s a valid question).

Check it out here!

 

Other life stuff

Aside from much filming and editing, I’ve sort of just been sorted out things in the house. Our boiler sort of exploded at the weekend, spraying water into the utility room and switching off. Permanently. Cold showers for US for two days! Brrr!

Managed to get the supply company to come out yesterday and they fixed it up. Fortunately, we have an extended warranty so the costs were covered, but oh boy!

Migraines

My new medication does seem to be helping with the migraines… They’re certainly not as painful as they were… I’m meeting my GP soon for a review, and I’m certainly going to ask that I stay on them, and possibly increase the dose. If I can crack the right combination I think I’ll do much better.

My anxiety does seem to be rearing its ugly Steve-the-Evil-Monkey head at the moment, though. I wonder if this is because the old migraine medication was also used to treat anxiety, whereas now this new tablet is just for migraines and mood disorders… It’s hard to tell how long I’ve been anxious for, because it feels like forever… In truth, I think it’s only been about a week… And I have had a few things to be anxious about, such as being put onto a sickness improvement plan at work (standard procedure) and the boiler breaking.

Maybe I’m thinking into this too much. I’m sure I’ll be fine…

Well, I’ll chat about it with my GP and see what he says.

Toodles for now!

Back to Uni!

Back to Uni!

Well, folks… the Christmas break is over. And it’s back to studying. My next assignment is due on the 19th so I’d better crack open my study books again and read the essay question… That’s always a good start.

But all I wanna do is write my book and create YouTube videos! I’ve filmed my first one now and I’m addicted!

It’s not live on YouTube yet as I want to create a couple more and have a little stock of videos ready for if/when people decide to mosey on over and check out the channel. I’ll be sure to post about it here, don’t you worry!!!

Chapter Six is going quite well, though. I’ve been sticking to my New Year’s resolutions ‘fairly’ well so far… I skipped writing a sentence for one day and made up for it by writing about two pages the following day… I’m a bit of a fits-and-bursts writer. Future Editor: sorry ’bout that! Hee hee.

I think the thing I love the most about my YouTube video so far is the little Unicorn at the opening, and the giggle that he makes! I mean, yes, it was my giggle that I recorded, and oh my goodness! It’s so frickin’ CUTE! It makes me laugh so much every time I hear it. Y’know, I may have rewound and listened to the opening giggle like, a thousand times last night, just for fun.

Ah, who needs to be a grown up?

But I really should be semi-responsible. I want to get a better grade in my next assignment. When I first started this second year of my degree, I was shocked at how much I’d forgotten over the summer holidays. My first essay was ABISMAL! No wonder I got such a shocking score. So I pulled my socks up and churned out a better essay the next time. A 15 point improvement, or thereabouts.

Now, to smash the 80% mark like I did last year!

 

New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

WELCOME TO 2017!

Before I move onto my ‘resolutions’, I want to have a quick look back at 2016.

2016: A Year in Review

April – new job

I left the police behind and got a new job working as a process efficiency specialist for National Grid.They call them Performance Excellence Specialists, but for you normal folk, it basically means that I work with the teams in my department to identify how we could do more with less, and give a better service to our customers.

June – passed my 1st year exam

I’m studying English Literature & Creative Writing with the Open University, part-time over 6 years, and I sat my 1st year exam in June. After much writing (and even more hand cramping!), I PASSED with a pretty decent mark, and went on to start my 2nd year. Woohoo! Only another 4 years to go! Damn me having to work full-time!

December – Project Unicorn Go Live

After many doodles, and much soul-searching with my wife, I launched Project Unicorn. This started with this blog (hello!) and, in January, I will be releasing my first YouTube video. Watch this space for a link!

So what can we look forward to in 2017?

My Creative Resolutions:

  • To write at least 1 sentence of my book every day
  • To create at least 1 Project Unicorn YouTube video every fortnight
  • To post at least 1 Project Unicorn blog every week (even if it’s really short!)

Ideally, I’d like to get into the habit of blogging and vlogging daily, or near-daily, because as and when I become a full-time author (Life Goal), I’ll need the internet interaction to keep me company. As an extrovert, it’s extremely difficult for me to be alone all the time with just my own brain for company. It drives me nuts!

What’s that meme? “ENFP: spends day alone. Questions reason for existence.”

It’s SO true! Haha. Totally me. I’m SUCH  a typical ENFP! I drive my boss nuts half the time, because he’s an ESTJ so, other than being an Extrovert, he’s the total opposite to me, and he has no idea why I talk about creative things and my feelings all the time.

But that’s just the world I live in. I embrace emotions, I think they’re powerful and important. And I think it’s crucial that men do the same.

Yes, I am a proud feminist. No, that doesn’t mean I hate men, or think that women should be superior to men. It means I don’t believe in a patriarchal society, or inequality between genders, or discrimination of any kind.

That’s what being a unicorn is all about. Loving and respecting each and every person for the amazing gifts they bring to this world. I don’t tolerate hate or abuse, and other than that, I accept anyone.

Anyway, I’m done rambling for now. I actually don’t feel very happy today. I’ve got some health issues that are getting me down at the moment, and I thought I was getting better but then the symptoms came back this evening. I just feel like I’ve got a thousand things to do at the moment, and even though I’ve written down a ‘To Do’ list and am only focussing on one or two at a time, they’re still buzzing around and around my head. And all I want to do is write my book but when I come to sit down and stare at the screen, at that stupid blinking cursor, or a page of my notebook… nothing.

HOWEVER. Positive thinking, dude.

I DID manage to tweak a bit of writing I’d done previously. And I’ve washed some dishes, done the food shop and have put on a washload of work clothes.

And done a blog.

Okay, I feel a bit better now. I’m going to scratch out one more sentence of Hybrid (the book) and then perhaps reward myself with a bit of Skyrim.

Toodles!

 

 

 

 

Eugh, another migraine!

Eugh, another migraine!

So I suffer with migraines, and that means, on at least 2 days out of every week, I wake up with pain in my left ear and eye, dizziness, nausea, cold sweats and tremors in my right arm. It’s not as painful as it used to be; thanks to a combination of beta-blockers that I take every day, triptan medication that I take at the first whiff of an attack, and half-yearly Botox injections in my forehead and around my head, they’re manageable.

Yes folks, THIS is manageable.

My work is fantastic, though. I started with them in April and my boss is really understanding about my condition, so when I had to call in AGAIN today and tell him that I have to take the day off to try to sleep it off in a dark and silent room, he understood. At least I manage projects, which means I can (mostly) arrange my work around the somewhat predictable little buggers (the migraines, not my colleagues).

So, there’s me, all day in bed, feeling like I’m falling from a log the whole time, wondering if I’m going to throw up the two crackers I managed to eat this morning with a glass of water to take my meds with, trying not to feel guilty that it’s ANOTHER day lost and wasted (because the guilt causes stress, which in turns creates more migraines and then we’re into this whole cycle that you do NOT want a piece of!)

And, at about 4 o’clock this afternoon, I start to feel better. Thank goodness it wasn’t a bad one this time. Sometimes they can last for DAYS. Don’t need that right before Christmas!

I’m up now, though I still have to take it slow. I only have a few lamps on downstairs and my laptop screen brightness is as low as it can be.

Though, excellent news, I DID wake up with the urge to write my book, so, as soon as this little update is complete, that’s what I’ll be doing. I’m working on Chapter Six at the moment, and figured out how to get past the difficult, emotional rut I was in from the previous chapter.

Now, you guys don’t know this, but I’ve been writing my book, Hybrid, for like, ever. And I mean, ever. It’s gone through so many incarnations, it bears no resemblance to the original story. I started writing it when I was 14, and I’m now 27. There you go. Forever.

BUT, it’s finally gained some traction this last year, and 2017 is going to be the year that I finish it. I’ve had the first couple of chapters finished and unchanged since early 2016, maybe even 2015, and I even have some later chapters and extracts finished. It’s always been this transition period, where my two characters leave Leicester and travel to London to start their new lives, that I’ve struggled with.

And then, the other week, the wife and I had a brainwave.

Why do I have to cover it in specific detail? A tragedy occurs at the beginning of the book, the catalyst for the story, and they’re still trying to recover from this when they have to leave. But people don’t just stop. Life goes on. And sometimes, and I’ve felt this, it goes on without you, and you come back to yourself a few weeks later and find that things have subtly changed and then you have to play catch up. Which is a whole feeling unto itself, separate from the grief of loss anyway.

So that’s what I’m trying now. I’m going to skip ahead and refer back to the period of readjustment, but get the story moving again. After all, it’s fiction, and fiction is an imitation of life but with more drama.

Wish me luck!