The Right Hand DOES Know What The Left Is Doing…

hands landscape

When I was debating the decision to leave my office job and try to make it in the scary world of freelancing/novel writing, I undertook a session of NLP.

NLP – or to give its formal title, neural linguistic programming – looks at the ways our minds work. A lot of people use NLP for issues such as overeating as many of us are guilty of reaching for the choccie when times are tough. Realistically, that rather scrumptious bar of fruit and nut isn’t going to bring your ex-boyfriend back, make your boss nicer to you or result in your kiddiewinkles suddenly developing well-behaved tendencies*.

I did it because I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision, especially as I finally made the decision on a Monday. I mean, office workers don’t routinely arrive at work on a Monday morning and feel the urge to quit, hmm?! There have been plenty of dodgy decisions in my past often fuelled by excessive wine consumption. I tell myself mistakes are the best way to learn…** Anyhoos, I met up with the trainer (Steven Terris at Synapse Personal Performance) and we did an exercise called Parts Integration.

[SPOILER ALERT!! If you plan to use NLP yourself, look away now.]

Parts Integration involves you holding out your hands, closing your eyes and picturing a person, say in one hand (usually the less dominant hand) and using the other hand as a ‘voice’ telling the right hand why your decision is the right one. My pesky right hand kept coming up with reasons not to quit my job. Money reasons mainly.

My NLP practitioner kept badgering away at me – come on, come on what does your right hand need to know? The left voice almost shouted: “I DON’T KNOW!!! Flip’s sake, I just want to never work in an office again and spend my summers typing away on my laptop, mooching around in the garden and baking high-sugar items!”

But then the left voice thought up more valid reasons; reasons that made sense and sounded well-thought out.

Gradually – and without me really being aware of it – my hands drifted together until they were touching. And voila, the left hand had persuaded the right that leaving my secure (ish), comfortably-paid job was the right thing to do.

*I know; I was gutted when I found out the deluxe family bar of Dairy Milk fruit and nut can’t do this.

**These days, my policy is to hide my credit card from myself when looking at skincare websites online.

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Ah, the thrill of the blank page...

Ah, the thrill of the blank page…

Ooh, phone the boss; it’s Thursday morning and I’m pulling a sickie…

That’ll be a quick phone call to myself then. Yup, I am now the boss of me having waved a fond, slightly manic farewell to almost 20 years of office employment, regular wages and financial security. The paid sickie day (and the paid holiday for that matter) no longer exists.

As it is early days yet in the world of self-employment, I greeted the arrival of this morning with delight (before rolling over for another small snooze, as the tyranny of the daily commute no longer applies).

Hello brave new world – another writer wishes to join you and wonders what to do next. As I am a top procrastinator, I’ve come up with the following list of the best things to do to delay real work:

  1. Write to do lists (oh joy, updating my blog after a long absence was on the list so there’s one item ticked off already
  2. Start up a Twitter account – hey, Twitter is awash with procrastinating writers
  3. Tidy up the spare room and turn it into an office, complete with a proper filing system
  4. Do wedding-related stuff (actually, this isn’t procrastinating seeing as I am getting married in exactly four weeks’ time eeks, eeks where did all the time go and why have I yet to make a decision on the cake, my hair, what I wear on my head..?)
  5. Update social media profiles – hey I’m at home and I’m available for all kinds of writing, proofing, editing work and the odd voiceover…
  6. Plan what to have for lunch and dinner, admittedly this can take up as lot more time than it should and can involve several detours through bakery websites and blogs
  7. Put the washing out/iron shirts/clean the bathroom (insert your household chore of choice).
  8. Write another list of luxury items you can no longer buy (magazines, premium skincare, a foundation to add to the collection of eight or so I already possess and blasted DIET COKE).
  9. Phone a friend or two with angst-related ‘what am I doing, will this work out, do you think I’m insane…?’ woes.
  10. And finally – read other people’s blogs! There are marvellous examples out there and if you look to the right you’ll see just some of them!

Writing What Your Readers Want…

This is my end goal...

This is my end goal…

Oh my goodness – Sunday was an exciting day for me. I blogged about my decision to leave work and attempt to carve out a writing career for me and I seemed to strike a chord with fellow bloggers.

In blogging land, I am a teeny-weeny person with a small group of followers (I love you all and am at this very moment blowing you virtual kisses, promise) and therefore when my wordpress app kept bleeping away with new likes, I practically leapt out of my seat in fever-pitched joy. Oh you lovely, lovely likers…*

I recently read a post by igamesmom and she talked about what she has learned from blogging – a most useful piece which urges people to read the blogs they follow and tailor their own writing accordingly. Good point madam!

I initially set out to write a blog about my forthcoming nuptials** and managed to bore myself. I also drifted off topic on a regular basis. A crime surely, if one is trying to establish a loyal fan base with a niche interest?

“Emma,” I said sternly to myself, “loyal follower number 1 and number 2 are cake fans and here you are boring them to tears ranting on about your predilection for expensive skincare. And what about poor loyal follower number two? She’s an excellent exerciser, and she surely does not give two finicky figs that you drink far too much diet coke***?”

From the many wonderful blogs I read, I note that life-changing is often a theme – people giving up jobs, taking up baking, starting their own businesses or charting weight loss/getting fit journeys – which is maybe why the Sunday blog received the number of likes it did? So, I thinks to myself, folks want to read about life changing and how that works out.

On the plus side, getting married is life-changing so I can continue the odd post about that, but my dears I think I shall continue my blog on the theme of how chucking in your office job and giving up financial security and a pension can be, ahem, very good for you…

 

*I think I am tearing up. Losing. It.

**Nuptials – I love that word. Along with splendid, gracious and eloquence – words which deserve much wider usage, surely?

***Crap. Despite the NLP session and regular nagging by concerned fiancé I am a coke addict once more. Bah.

 

Life Changing? Let’s Go the Whole Hog

ImageAnd so…less than ten weeks before I’m due to get married, an event not known for its positive effects on a couple’s finances, I drop a bombshell on beloved.

“I want to give up work.”

I want to write, read, blog and bake – and find a way of making it pay. Blame it on too many years reading women’s magazines (especially the kind that feature all those women jacking in jobs to create their own businesses/work for themselves), blame it on too much time spent on blogs which all promote the idea of Living Your Dream…

…blame it on too many self-help books, but yes I’m Feeling the Fear and Doing it Anyway, Ending the Struggle and Dancing with Life (!) and Stopping Talking Starting Doing*. Leaps of faith aplenty.

Those who urge caution might point out that writing on the side is do-able with a career and a far less risky strategy to take, but with enough savings put by to see me through several months I’ve decided I might as well try this properly.

My initial thoughts are – Yay! No more commute! Yay! I’ll go for a run or walk every morning (and be super fit in time for the wedding hey hey)! Yay! I’ll bake my way through every single cake recipe I own! Yay! I will buy a fitness ball and sit in front of my laptop tapping away on a keyboard and exercising my abs at the same time! Yay! I can see my mum and sisters so often!

You will note, dear reader, the thoughts focus more on not working, than working. Hmm.

The book that is in me may be half-way written, but there are an awful lots of stages between writing a book and seeing it in WH Smith (oh, if only). The path to obscurity (littered with the bodies of many) beckons…but I finally decided that fear of not trying outweighed fear of failure so here goes.

 

*Apologies. I have rendered these titles incorrectly to fit.

**I also apportion blame to Susan Cain. Her book encourages those of an introverted nature to think they can do just about anything, instead of worrying that natural shyness and lack of pushiness will hold them back.

***Re the picture of Freddie above, no reason for it. I just fancied adding a pic of my pampered pet.

Post-holiday; It’s Raining

Greetings, greetings…

Well the last holiday before the wedding was pretty fabulous (Tenerife). As readers in the UK will appreciate, it’s great getting away in November and leaving behind rain, rain and more rain.

We spent lots of time outside (the joy! the luxury!) and wandered round bare-footed a lot of the time. Vitamin D was absorbed through the skin. Sunglasses were a permanent feature. Cava was consumed (j’adore).

So, a case of post-holiday blues on Monday. [Why do I live in the world’s wettest place? Why don’t I work where I can get outdoors more often? Why do I not work as a freelance writer, ‘have lap top will live in warm country typing out words on my wee balcony’? Wah!*] Therefore, searching through the fab world of blogosphere, I found this rather empowering post… **

How to change your life?.

 

*I am very sorry about sounding so ungrateful. I am very lucky – partner, family, friends, very spoiled cat to my name etc.

**And also hit upon a way of not having to write too many words. Clever hmm?

Happy Holidays! (Hair-free?)

Freddie never worries about excess fur.

Ah autumn, season of mellow fruitfulness – makes one think of cold, crisp days and walks involving satisfying strides through dead leaves…

On the other hand, the rain may set in round about the beginning of October accompanied by strong winds and not let up until early December when the snow starts. To avoid some of the rain and to stock up on Vitamin D*, we’re now off for a week to Tenerife and our last holiday as a legally unattached pair.

The holiday preparation is similar to the kind of things most brides-to-be feel compelled to do – diet, exercise like crazy, write lists, rub in lotions and potions and experiment with different hair styles.

Oh, and remove excess body hair. To this end, I visited a salon today for a spot of depilation as I’ve never mastered the art of waxing my own legs. The salon offered designer, intimate waxing (the mind boggled), which I turned down feeling that my lady bits** were not in need of that kind of attention.

Thinking about the wedding though – given that my legs will be completely covered, does that excuse me from leg waxing and, if I keep my arms pinned to my sides, then that surely means the underarms can be left European? The time I spend on waxing, shaving, plucking and the like can then be put to more productive use.

You might argue that my husband-to-be deserves a hair-free wife on his wedding night. Maybe so, but I suspect that following the excitement of the day and a little ‘refreshment’ or two both of us will be falling into bed exhausted by the end of the day!

 

*We Scots miss out on the natural acquisition of Vitamin D much of the time and especially so this summer.

**Caitlin Moran’s rather fabulous How to be a Woman has a hilarious chapter on what you should call your lady bits; I favour the coolly quaint quim, myself.

 

Plastic fantastic? Far From It…

You just don’t want to be adding to this mess, hmm?

Oh woe… back to blogging about diet coke.

I gave it up in August and went cold turkey for 19 days (yup, counted every single day) and then  thought to myself ‘oh well, one can’t hurt…’ So I added a little ‘I’ve got through the working day and here is my reward’ treat to my evenings in the form of a bottle of fizzy, brown chemical bubbles.

Oops. And then I added in 7up free, two bottles of, and justified that as it’s caffeine and colour-free. Amazing how you manage to find reasons for your bad habits, hmm? [Do feel free to share your own spurious reasons for habits, btw.]

I’ve previously revealed the monetary costs of my little aspartame addiction (embarrassing, embarrassing, embarrassing…) and what it could usefully be spent on for my wedding instead. As that little (not little actually, HUGE) disincentive doesn’t seem to be working, let’s talk plastic waste…

Facts about plastic:

A group of courageous Edinburgh folks are trying the no plastic challenge and they’ve got some top tips to help you make the move to plastic-less. It involves changing habits, being organised (taking bags to the shops for example) and buying LESS PACKAGING. All of which are transferable skills; i.e. you do this and you beat your fizzy drinks habit, you forward plan and you think creatively for ways round the plastic problem.

So long bottles and bye-bye diet coke for ever?