365 Day Blog challenge Day 8 – Books Part 1 #365daychallenge

Day 8 of the challenge and so far I’ve managed to do a blog a day even if sometimes I forget until nearly the last minute.

In my first post I linked to my book blog. I love books and love the fact that I’ve been able to turn something fun and enjoyable into a (sort of) paying business. By paying I don’t get actual cash. I get something better of you are a book worm – free books!

A few years ago one of my friends who had just got a publishing deal turned me onto a website where you can request books to download free in return for an honest review. I was already blogging reviews & as I have mentioned many times cash is scarce due to a debt plan so for me a really good way to get new books without cost and in return doing things I already do.

It’s been amazing. I’ve had publishers thanking me for reviews and in return offering me yet more books. A couple have sent me paper copies of books as a thank you. The next step for me is to accept some blog tours from authors and build my page even more. That’s my 2018 go

All this led to my friend then telling me that her publisher had a tasting panel and did I want to join. With this I get books before they have been accepted by the publisher and rather than just a review, it is for me (and others) to comment on the Point of View, the relatability of the hero/heroine, overall story and any possible tweaks and changes. That’s quite an ask and responsibility especially as I have to say whether I think it should be accepted for publication. But I think it helped me grow as  a reviewer. I’ve learnt to think about not just whether I like it but whether the general public would like something.

I always feel bad when I have to recommend turning something down. I am well aware how hard it is to write a book and put your heart and soul into something so I only do this if I absolutely know it won’t fit in with the publishers ethos.

Sometimes turning a hobby into more of a business doesn’t have to be financial, it can be just as rewarding in other ways

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365 Day Blog challenge Day 6 – Proudest Moment #365daychallenge

This is an easy one – my son’s graduation from university. At an early age he was diagnosed as being on the Autistic spectrum and non-verbal. He was told a number of things growing up:

  • That he may never speak – he went on to be a radio DJ
  • That he may never learn mathematics – a frustrating time for his teachers and purely by accident and perseverance they found a way to get him to understand
  • That he may never write a piece of original work – he did
  • That he may never sit his UK GCSE’s – not the greatest results but he sat the exams and did enough to get into 6th form college

He then chose to do a BTEC course rather than A-levels as the practical nature of the course fit with his personality and traits. He then went onto university.

It was hard and he struggled, eventually settling for a Ordinary degree rather than take the extra module needed for an Honours but…a degree is a degree and he became the first person in the family for many years to do so.

Graduation day was something i thought I’d never see  as my son was growing up so to stand there and watch my boy in his cap and gown pick up that certificate is an event I will always treasure and will always be my proudest moment and proof that, even with barriers, if you believe it you can achieve it

 

365 Day Blog challenge Day 5 – Dream Jobs #365daychallenge

One of the items on various blog challenge lists is to talk about ideal jobs. I’m 45 and still haven’t figured this bit out! I never had much of a dream about work when I was younger except maybe do some writing. My best school friend wanted to be a teacher and a teacher she became for over 20 years. I just wanted to bet out of school and had no thought beyond that.

Over the years I’ve done several different styles of jobs but the one that keeps drawing me back is ‘helping people’. I’ve been a mortgage seller helping people afford a dream home, I’ve been an employment adviser and I’ve worked in the community helping those with homelessness and addictions move forward with their lives. I even looked into starting my own business in holistic treatments and while it’s on hold I may go back to it n a few years time.

I’ve been in my current job for the last 15 months. It took me  along time to see that it does fit into the ‘helping people’ description as I’m now really far removed from seeing customers every day. I research benefits, find issues and write a report for others to fix. It’s only now that the identified problems are being resolved that I can see how I’ve been able to change something for the better. So while it’s not an obvious helping role I have the opportunity to make lives better.

I don’t think I’m ever gonna have the perfect job in terms of a title (teacher, nurse etc) but as long as I can feel I’m making a difference I’ll be happy in my work 🙂

365 Day Blog challenge Day 2 – About Me #365daychallenge

I posted yesterday about attempting to do a 365 day blog challenge. For day 2 I thought I’d introduce myself for any more recent followers.

As a school kid I loved writing and especially creative writing and it was something I thought at the time I’d like to carry into a career. However life gets in the way and 30 years later here I am. However I was once asked the question of whether I had achieved the goal and it made me re-assess what I wanted out of writing. I realised that I am happy sharing stories, book reviews, travel adventures and other things. I still do some creative pieces and have posted them throughout this blog but being a published author isn’t something I must be any more. Maybe one day I will sit down and write a book. I have some family stories that would be great novelisations but I think that writing time is not now

I like things to be a bit compartmentalised my interests have been spilt into 4 blogs and the links to the others are below. Please take a look and give them a follow.

Family Tree (www.kzwhite.wordpress.com ) – this one has not been updated in a very long time but my aim for 2018 is to re-start this. I love genealogy and have traced my family back to medieval times. Turns out my line were once royalty with my 24x great granddad being King John and making Richard the Lionheart a very distant uncle! It’s not all glamour though as only a 100 or so years ago my family were in the work houses and life was definitely not as grand

Book Reviews ( http://www.kirk72.wordpress.com)– I love to read. I’m never without a book and with the aid of my kindle I’m never without several hundred books! I used to be a paper book snob however as I get older and my eyes get weaker sometimes kindle is the better option. I review books for publishers through a website called netgalley and you can find those reviews under this link as well as any other book that may be of interest

Travel blog (www.travelpalooza.wordpress.com) – I used to travel a lot. Then I had my mental health & money issues so big travel took a back seat. Now I travel within my financial means which limits me to UK & Europe but my continent is so beautiful and full of history this isn’t actually a hardship. One thing I found with this blog is people love pictures so there are always photos of my travels. I also have to work away from home now and again so you get little snippets of time spent in other cities as I whoosh through

I had a look through a few monthly blog challenges and picked out some interesting ones so over the next few days I’ll share more about work, life and everything else. All from the positivity point of view

 

2017 mid-year in review

I’m a few months late really for a mid-year review but I’ve just spotted my gratitude/good- things-happening jar is 3/4 full. Without looking through it (that’s a treat for between Christmas and New Year) I’ve been thinking about the last 8 months.

Work – It’s been a roller coaster year. Some days I love my job and some days I just want to hide under the duvet and pretend it’s not there. Pretty standard with most people I guess. I’m just a Geminian drama queen so when the horrible days happen I’m telling everyone I want to quite and having mini-meltdowns (as I did about 6 weeks ago). However I’ve recently taken on the role of well being advocate so I get to put together events such as our team walking challenge. Events like that make me happy enough to push through on days when it’s not so great

Self employment – I had a push to re-start this in 2017. It’s also had it’s ups and downs to the point where I decided to take a step back to see if it’s really what I want to do with my life. Turns out I’m passionate about these things but not so hot on working for myself. I’m just not business minded. There are so many things I could be doing besides updating websites, pushing the business, and doing all that annoying paperwork. As I have a day job guess what – the boring admin jobs don’t get done. The task now then is to find ways to utilise the things I love but maybe not on a self employment basis. Or just plod along and see what the universe has in store.

House – This is an area with lots of success this year. Tomorrow I get a new hall carpet after it twice suffered through a burst boiler. I’ve talked in previous blogs about having a debt plan and little spare cash so this is a big deal for me at the minute. I’ve also repainted all the rooms. Still a little bummed that my lovely coloured walls are all pale magnolia/barest peach but if I follow through on my plans to sell up in 2 years these are the colours buyers want. If I decide to stay then Oh I m going to have so much fun repainting everything red/orange and yellow! I’ve also replaced lots of little things like lampshades, kitchen utensils, pots and pans and so on. By the end of the year the last few rooms (kitchen and cupboards) will have been repainted. I may have to give in to the idea of pale walls but I’m getting my colour in my accessories.

Health – My diet blogs are ongoing. 6lbs so far and I’m keeping up to the diet. I’ve a walking challenge on this month but I’ve been pushing the number of steps for a while now. One thing about being a wellbeing advocate. It means I have to practise what I’m preaching so less pizza more health. I’ve reconnected with a dentist and currently saving for some cosmetic dental treatments. I finally started having the money to get my hair styled and coloured on a regular basis. The second half of 2017 is all about me and these small things are going some way to not finding myself but rediscovering myself.

Fun/Life – Oh this needs work. I’ve been to a few events this year. First music concerts in a  couple of years and some drinking nights out. What I’ve discovered though is that I miss being out and about. I’m a sociable person but the debt plan is killing that. Me and my friend who lives in a different city had a heart to heart about this with the plan that we will take turns visiting each others houses per month and go out on the town. That’s one thing to look forward to. I then made a list of who I am and what I like to see how I can use it to start reconnecting with people. How do I get out without much financial investment. I’ve started at a couple of book clubs which are ok. It’s early days yet. One of the things I thought of was a night class. Instead I decided to re-start my open university degree/ I have 2 (part time) years left. That will give me the opportunity to go to some study days and connect with people on Facebook forums. I’ve a little list of some other bits to look at too.

Money – This is a biggie. I am now half way through my debt plan. I’ve managed to reduce the end date by 3 months and most importantly I have cleared 50% of my debt. Seeing the figures last month was one such a happy moment and one I didn’t think I’d see

So when I have a bad work day or a day when my mood is low I can actually look back and see actually this year has been pretty amazing. They’re all small steps but they’re adding up to one great year.

The Quiet Ones

The other day my manager called me ‘quiet’. I took huge umbrage with it. I’m not quiet ask anyone. I did – that night I met 5 good friends for a meal and mentioned it. They laughed… a lot…

You’re not quiet. Where did she get that idea from???

But it’s made me think. I’ve written in some earlier blogs about how being in debt robbed me of my self esteem and I stopped going out and socialising. It also seems that I stopped talking to people. The friends above I’ve known since we all started working together 8 years ago. My best friend I’ve only known 4 years. I made a friend at work when I started my new job 10 months ago (although we were stuck together on a training course in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do except talk to each other).

So somewhere over the last 2 and a half years I’ve stopped sharing to new people. Old friends know me and my depression and can spot up and down swings and know how to work within that. New people don’t and low self esteem issues have meant I’ve not even bothered.

In the spirit of positivity and because I have to start going out (but cheaply) more I joined a new book club. And it was excruciating…well for me no idea about the others. I didn’t say a whole lot and when people shared what they do for example run some blogs where I could have said ‘Oh me too…’ and moved a conversation forward my brain went ‘oh no you can’t say that they’ll think you’re competing’…..

Aargh

It’s ok I have given myself a big kick for that.

My boss is a big fan of ‘So what?’…so what are you gonna do about it? I started by telling people about my weekend, I shared holiday chats with the big boss. I told her about enjoying art galleries and history. I texted everyone I know that I lost 4lb in my first week at weightwatchers. And a few other bits and pieces. I don’t think I overdid it. And I’ll never be an over-sharer with personal stuff (I hate that on Facebook )

But I’m going with the new thought of telling people stuff…any stuff and if they don’t like it…tough. I’m also going back to bookclub. A different one but same book shop as they run a few (the one from last week isn’t on again until August but I’ll be there also) and I’m going to speak up. I can deliver presentations to groups of people who hate the government I work for without batting an eyelid so I can have a go at letting people get to know me. I can only try.

 

So I’m sharing and then people will see what my old friends already know….

I’m not bloody quiet

(P.S….there’s nothing wrong with being quiet as a natural state 🙂 )

2017 – Be Excellent to Each Other

I saw an article yesterday that said 130 celebrities had died this year. I may be riddled with flu but I was stuck naming more than a handful besides the few that died this week. I’ve seen arguments on both sides about how much grief one should have about a celeb death and how much with that grief has.

On the other side, sadly I can name more than a handful on my Facebook friends list who have lost family and close friends (and I’m including the pets in this) which is  a bit more close to home.  While it’s sad for anyone to die these mean more to me because I’m seeing my friends (no matter how long it’s been since I saw them last) suffer.

Facebook and Twitter seem to be awash with negativity and various polls, elections and votes have given results that have stirred up anger even more to the point that people are viewing this as one of the worst years ever. I’ve seen the twitter posts stating 1939-1945 were probably worse which is right but sometimes I think of social media as a hive mind of doom. Bad news and misery seems to be following us everywhere. There was a twitter moment regarding some good things that happened in 2016 (mostly animals coming off the endangered species) but in less than 48 hours it’s gone and we’re back to misery and political tit-tat.

We really need to kinder to each other. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t best friends with a celeb, if their lives touched you grieve away. Better than keeping the crap bottled up and struggling. If you don’t like it, unfollow that person on FB for a few weeks. Then let it all go back to normal. Let’s help each other out. If someone is upset (for any reason) give them a hug; offer them tea or just sit and chat. As someone who has suffered with depression for many years sometimes this is all a person needs.

And then maybe we can spread that to people outside our social circle. But in the secret altruistic spirit of George Michael let’s not tell anyone! Don’t tell us you gave Bob the homeless guy you’re filled free coffee coupon. Post some articles or write a blog on the plight of the homeless instead. Don’t tell us about your volunteering somewhere – raise the profile of that charity instead. Let’s share the different ways to volunteer and help people rather than making it all about us.

(However if you’re after the money for charity, promote away. I may be doing that again if I decide to do the St Gemma’s Midnight walk again.)

We need to make 2017 a year where we’re not counting down the hours wishing it to end but one filled with as much positivity as possible that we’d be quite happy to do all over again the following year.

Let’s just be excellent to each other x