Saturday, 14 January 2017

Help Yourself

There's only one person on this planet who can help you.

You.

You are the only person who can make the decision with what to do with your life. You are the only person who can make the decision on where to go, what to see, and how to live. If you want to get treatment for yourself, that's your decision. If you want to travel, that's your decision. If you want to work, that's your decision.

But the only person who will help you get to where you want to go, whether that's a physical or mental destination, is you. Of course, you can ask for help along the way but no one is going to come up to you and offer it all on a plate. You have to get out there and work for what you want, be that better health, a better job, a better home, or a better life.



I had to learn that and I learned it the hard way. I believe that the things I wanted in life would fall in to my lap. I believed that I didn't have to work to get somewhere and that just daydreaming about the life I wanted would be enough.

Boy, was I wrong.

Over the past several years, I've had quite a few doses of reality be it tough love from family to trying to open career doors that aren't yet ready to be opened. Each time has been a painful learning experience and I've learned to stop and evaluate my life. What do I want? How can I get there? Do I need new skills to achieve it? How can I get out of the rut that I'm stuck in? How could I change myself to become a better person?

Because of these experiences, I decided to move away from writing fiction and turn to non-fiction. I realised that I had a talent for getting people to talk and to being able to listen to what they had to say. I decided to combine that with my writing and began working on two books that documented the lives of the people around me. As I started working on the books, I realised that I was the happiest I'd been. No longer did I feel stressed. Nor did I feel like I was pushing at doors that were locked.



If there's something that you want to do, only you can get there. You need to sit back and evaluate your life. Do you notice patterns of conflict in your life? If so, how can you solve them? What do you need to change about yourself? Are you too critical? Does your anger flare too quickly? Do you need to gain new skills? Do you need to move house? Do you need to change your career path? Do you need to stop hanging out with certain people?

Keep a journal and see what pushes your buttons. You don't have to write in it every day and, over time, you'll be able to begin working on getting to the place that you want to be.

You can do whatever you put your mind to but, in order to get there, you need to give yourself a dose of tough love in order to get there.


Happiness isn't a destination; it's a journey.  


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Staying Sane at Christmas...

...isn't easy.



I'm bipolar. It's something that I don't hide. Quite the contrary, in fact. I'm loud and proud about this unusual brain of mine, a condition which may, or may not, be the product of an overdose.

This year was my first medication free Christmas. For over a decade, I took anti-psychotic medication to balance my brain in the wake of the overdose (I had come off my medication by Christmas 2015. But those drugs had been replaced by ones to combat sinusitis so this time last year I didn't know what planet I was on. It was actually quite nice!).

To say that this December has been stressful has been an understatement. I felt overwhelmed, tired, and sick. I could barely function but had to in order to get everything done. Three days before Christmas, I was on my hands and knees, sobbing with exhaustion and stress. I wasn't sleeping. I wasn't eating. I was vomiting from the tiredness. I was hallucinating. It was horrendous.

My apartment isn't decorated for Christmas. Not because I don't like Christmas but because the addition of lights and decorations overwhelm my already tired brain. Sure, I have a few ornaments that I put up. The cards that people give me decorate the lounge door so that I can see them every day. And I decorated the microphone stand that I use for interviews (That might have to become permanent because it looks really cool!). But there's no tree, no music, and no glittering garlands.



Instead, I appreciate the decorations at other peoples houses, at work, and in the windows of shops. I love looking at photos of London's Christmas windows. But the abundance of bright lights, glittery decorations, and repeated Christmas music tires me out. The same goes for large gatherings. Anything over an hour spent in the company of a crowd of people makes my brain ache and my body weary (It's not you, honestly, it's not! Please don't take offence if I turn down an invitation. I really appreciate your love and company and would never not want to spend time with you.) And I realise that I need to have a space where I can escape from it all and get some rest.

Christmas can be a hard time for many people. There may be the feeling that they have to take part in everything that's happening. Saying no to an event or a party may be tough. They may feel that friends and family will frown on them if they decide that they need time out from the festivities.

On the flip side, they may despise Christmas and want nothing to do with it. Or have no one to celebrate it with (Thankfully, this year, there seemed to be many places that were hosting events for people who would be alone on Christmas Day. If you're alone next year, be sure to check local social media groups to see if there's anything happening).

Christmas shouldn't be a stressful time yet we seem to turn ourselves in to nervous wrecks for four weeks of the year. For some people, like myself, we pick up on the stress of those around us. When others are wound up, we get involved in those feelings, too, which only adds to what we're already feeling.

Christmas doesn't have to be perfect. It shouldn't be all about whether everyone is included. Or how many gifts are under the tree. Or how many decorations we've put up. For many people, the chance to get together with others on one day of the year and celebrate together is enough.


Wishing all of you a safe, prosperous, and healthy 2017!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

Leadenhall Market Christmas tree, London by RMSones


Christmas 2016 is nearly upon us and, for many of us, this year has been one of great highs and crushing lows. There have been moments when we wish that the world around us would end. But, in contrast, there have been many times when we couldn't have wished for a better time to be alive. There is so much happening around us, both good and bad, and it's what we make of those circumstances that counts. Do we let them crush us? Or do we allow them to turn us into a better version of the person we currently know?

At the end of every year, we tend to pause and look back over the previous months. We reflect on what's been lost and what's been gained. We say goodbye to people who are no longer in our lives and thank those who are.

For me, this has been a year like no other. It's been a year of change and discovery. In January, I believed that I was set for a certain path. Yet, as the year draws to a close, I see that the paths have changed and I'm now walking a different, and hopefully better, route. I'm excited to see what 2017 brings.

This is the time of year when I also say thank you to everyone who is a part of my life. Thank you for being there through the ups and downs. Thank you for all that you do and, most of all, thank you for being you.

Relax over the Christmas period and, if there's change in your life, embrace it in 2017. Whatever direction life is nudging you in, welcome it with open arms and run with it. Let it take you on its journey. The journey may be rocky at first but, over time, it will smooth out and you'll be glad that you made the decision to follow that little voice in your heart.


Whatever you're doing this Christmas season, I wish you a peaceful and happy one. May 2017 be an amazing year for you!


Saturday, 3 December 2016

Following the Foo Family

The first time I heard the words “Foo Family”, I was standing in Sound City Studios in Los Angeles. We were talking to the owners when they happened to mention a global network of Foo Fighters fans who referred to themselves as Family.

Those two words were thrust to the back of my mind until November 2014 when I started blogging about a Kickstarter that had recently launched. The crowdfunder in question was aimed at taking action against the secondary ticket market with the end goal of having the Foo Fighters play a small show in Birmingham, England. Unbeknownst to me, that Kickstater was being run by the UK Foo Family and suddenly I found myself as a part of the network that I'd heard about so many months before.

For the world's biggest “I'm not a Foo Fighters fan, really I'm not”, it was like landing on an alien planet. I barely knew the music and only spoke a few words of their language. Yet music truly is an international language and they took me in, welcoming me as one of their own. Due to my own stubbornness, I left and rejoined the group several times, my insecurities flaring because of the unfamiliar territory. Yet they always coaxed me back until, earlier this year, I settled down to write this book.

Getting a writer (or anyone for that matter) to do something that they feel uncomfortable with can be like trying to herd cats. We can be stubborn and awkward. There are times when we don't want to face what our life is calling us to do. And that was especially true with the fan book. I was constantly finding myself redrawn back to the Family and I couldn't explain why. That was until I was speaking to a friend earlier this year and I mentioned an idea I'd had back around the time of the Kickstarter.

The passion that surrounded the Kickstarter made me want to write a book about the fans. I wanted to tell their stories. I wanted to give them a place in history, something to help dull the harshness of the numerous negative entries that litter the record books. Wars, famine, and genocide still happen and will be forever documented. But what about everyone else? Don't they deserve to be able to have a moment to talk about what's important to them?

Music is a way to escape the horrors of the world around us. 2016, while it has had many glorious moments, has also crushed the souls and spirits of so many people. It would be great to think that, in a hundred years from now, someone, somewhere, could pick up this book and read the stories of friendship, happiness, and survival from a group of dedicated and loving music fans.

And so it began. My friend (who shall remain nameless until they give me permission to name them) put the wheels in motion by feeling out the lay of the land. How would others feel about speaking to a complete stranger? Did they want to talk about their love of the band?

The overwhelming answer was Yes. For me, that was a breakthrough and, over the past months, I've told the story of another project that I put to one side. I spent two years hunting for funding for it and, while there was a lot of positive feedback, there was little in the way of any other help. Compared to that, the fan book has been a breeze and, in the past five months, many of the pieces needed for it have fallen seamlessly in to place.

This book wouldn't be possible without the help and support of the global Foo Family and, for that, I am eternally grateful. To know that there are so many kind and loving souls out there makes me feel so much better about the current world we live in. Over the past year, I've been lucky enough to make many new friends and rekindle old friendships. While, in many ways, 2016 has been a harsh and unforgiving year, finding so many beautiful friends has made it easier to bear. If I've spoken to you over the past months, thank you so much. Thank you for answering mine, a complete stranger's, email or phone call. Thank you for your love, kindness, and time. Thank you for the emails, Facebook posts, and Tweets. Thank you for including me in a world that, at times, really does feel alien to me. Your acceptance and inclusion means far more than you can imagine and it's something that this world needs so much more of.

While I'm hoping to have the book in some kind of finished state in the next few weeks, there's still time to get involved. If you'd like to be interviewed, please send me a message over at the Facebook page or email me at:

rae@raegee.co.uk


Take care and have a very Happy Christmas!

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Magnify Strengths

...Not weaknesses.

So often these posts begin with the words “We live in a world that...”, and this one is no exception to that rule.

We live in a world that tears people down. The goodness in people is diminished in favour of tearing them down for what others see to be negative aspects. In a world where distressing news stories and violence are broadcast 24/7, it's hardly surprising that many people react to everything, including the people around them, with negativity.

Slowly things are beginning to change. More and more people are realising that a world where negativity is used as a currency to climb imaginary ladders is unsustainable. There are communities springing up on social media to help promote positive messages and thought patterns. Websites are dedicated to reporting the happier and lighter side of the news.



I go through a lot of it. As well as this blog (which I try to keep as positive as possible), I also run another site. The other site attracts a lot of users and, as such, a lot of different personalities. Our rules include what is expected of users, including the need to be nice to one another (we use the famous House of Blues “Be Nice or Leave” quote). Most of the time everyone gets on just fine and it's generally a happy place that we've lovingly nicknamed “Like a spa. Except with writing”. When we took it over in 2014 our aim was to turn it in to an online ocean of calm where people could come to chat and create. Thankfully, 99% of the time, that's exactly what it is.

Sadly, there are times when ugliness rears its head. It can be in the form of someone reacting badly to another user's comments or to a request from the admins. Often they speak in a way that's designed to make the recipient feel bad. It's surprising how black words on a white background can make you feel and the awful feeling of the messages can be overwhelming. I've been called everything from a whore to being on a par with North Korea and it's in those moments when my weaknesses, instead of my strengths, are being magnified.

Being in the midst of that can be distressing and I admit that, at times, I've handled things in a way that's probably inappropriate such is the feeling of negativity that I'm receiving from the other end. Dealing with how I'm feeling can be hard and, more often than not, I take a few days out to heal myself. Thankfully I'm surrounded by a group of very loving people who remind me that there's always light, even on the darkest of days.


It's time to stamp out the constant petty criticisms. There's so many ways to make the world a better, happier place. If someone does something you like, say something. Send an email or write a note to a friend. Praise the people around you. Make them laugh and lift them up. Find inspirational communities, both on and off-line. Spend less time on social media and more doing the things you love. Make yourself, and everyone you're with, happy. Live life to the fullest and do it with a smile on your face!


Saturday, 15 October 2016

Finding Magic

It's been an interesting few weeks here. The first round of interviews for the fan book have wrapped up and I'm now slowly transcribing them.

Secondly, I got to spend some time away from home and, importantly, away from the computer. Once upon a time, I used to live in the Lake District but rejected it in favour of returning to my town in the heart of the country. Home is centrally located with easy access to major airports and cities.



However, I'd forgotten just how beautiful the rolling hills and flowing rivers of the Lakes can be, especially when you're out in the wilds. There's magic in the hills and mountains. You can feel it trickling through the streams and crashing from the waterfalls. It twinkles among the trees and you can almost see the fairies and souls from the past watching you. There's a feeling that something is calling to you, pleading with you to stay a moment longer among the rolling fells.

Inspiration lurks around every corner whether it's a 600 year old pub, a cascade of rocks, or the drop of a waterfall. It's hidden in crisp scent of fresh grass and moving water curls around you. It's beneath your feet and in the clear, night sky above you.

When I booked that break back in January I didn't realise that, come September, I'd need to get away from everything and be in a place where there was no phone signal. I had no idea what 2016 would hold for me and that by the year's ninth month, I'd need to rest. So far, it's been an amazing year, one filled with new friendships and paths I never thought that I'd take. However, it's taken its toll on me far more than I thought it would and even though my body has grown stronger since 2015, I still need to remember to take time out and look after myself. Because none of us are invincible. All of us need to rest and recuperate.



Getting away from it all, no matter how long it's for, can be an amazing form of therapy. A break from the norm to rest our weary brains and bodies can be just what we need. We all need time to rest and refresh and to see where life is going to take us. Whether it's trekking through the wilds or riding the at a concert, that brief respite from the crush of reality can be all we need to reconnect with ourselves. So buy those concert tickets and take that trip as it may be just the tonic that you needed to find your mojo again.


Have a great day and happy travels, wherever they may take you!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Life at the End of Your Comfort Zone

What does your comfort zone look like? Is it a warm, safe space that you never want to leave? Do you want to leave it but worry about doing so?

This time last year, my comfort zone was torn apart when I moved house. Everything I'd ever known and loved was being packed up and moved across town. It was uncomfortable and painful and I fought it tooth and nail. I wanted to stay in the warm, happy space that I knew. I didn't want to be anywhere else. Yet this move was only the start.

It's a theme that's continued well in to this year. At least once a month, I've had to face up to another fear, whether that's going to a venue that I greatly dislike or learning how to communicate with people. I've met people I never thought I'd meet and done things that, two years ago, I'd have laughed if you'd told me I'd be doing them. 2016 has, for many people, been a year of upheaval and change whether it's been in their personal lives or through watching their favourite musicians die.

Yet it's also been a year that's shown many of us where we're supposed to be heading. We've discovered who our true friends are or that our career needs a shake up. The comfort zones that we know have been taken apart and reassembled elsewhere.

It's uncomfortable when your comfort zone starts to dissolve. You may feel frustrated, depressed, and angry. You may get upset with the people around you and have trouble controlling your emotions. I know that all of that happened for me, and is still happening. Little by little, I'm being taken away from the places I used to know and being put somewhere completely new. It's unnerving yet, at the same time, it's exciting. I've wanted to do different things for a long time and now, slowly but surely, they're happening. There are times when it's still distressing but I know that it's part of the growth that I need to go through to become the person that I'm supposed to be.




If you know you need to be somewhere else in your life, get ready for things to happen in order for you to get there. It may be a move, or a loss, or something entirely different. You may have people put on your path who are sent to teach you something, or even to guide you to the next place. Keep your eyes open and trust that things happen for a reason (Again, a year ago, I wouldn't have believed that to be true. But so many things have happened that have lead me to believe that so many things that happen to us have a reason behind them). Let go of everything you know and go with the flow because who knows where you're going to end up!