Thursday, 16 April 2015

Positively positive… NOW



Crushing the negativity and inner demons


Well, I suppose I better start with the excuses of why I am so late blogging this week… well not really excuses. It’s been a full on week. The boys are on holiday, I’ve been working on lots of projects, sorting the house out and yesterday was the 26th anniversary of Hillsborough which is always a day of reflection for me.


Down to business. Do you ever bite the bullet and set wheels in motion then spend time convincing yourself you are not clever enough or people won’t take you seriously? I do and it drives me insane. It most definitely is my life challenge and believe me I have come so far from how I was even three years ago. It is probably the one single thing that has held me back in my life. I fight it every day, thankfully it is becoming less overwhelming and more of a driving force to push myself out of the comfort zone. It has also driven me to ensure the boys do not suffer from self-doubt yet remain humble and thankful. 

Isn’t it funny how we subconsciously rebel against our own childhood experiences? I never felt I had support to follow my dreams and was too easily talked out of them. My ideas were always met with, at best, apathetic enthusiasm and that is looking at it optimistically! Unfortunately, surrounding myself with the wrong people meant I gave up and accepted a job and career path that was predictable and ‘normal’. Being diagnosed with Menieres was the catalyst for change. It led me to analysing everything in my life including my relationships.

Unknowingly, I had surrounded myself with people who were happy for me to have clipped wings. I only have myself to blame but it is much easier to just go with the flow. It’s not right but it’s much easier. THIS WAS NOT ME! I am fighter, always have been since being born with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck at birth. I had become everything I despised. 

Breaking the Mould


It is tough breaking the mould. I understand now what some many wise people were trying to tell me years ago. I wish I had understood back then. To physically and mentally stand up against the ‘norm’ and finally take the plunge into your own life is scary, lonely at times but courageous and rewarding in ways you can never imagine.

I fight every day to maintain my standards, my principles. I want my boys to be brought up to understand equality, freedom, right and wrong, the importance of truth, honesty and integrity. Most days I am swimming against the tide and it is exhausting. The easiest life would be to concede my beliefs and go with the flow. I understand why people settle for this, I really do but it is not me. BEEN THERE – GOT THE SCARS! I am always being told, “You do what you want anyway!” As if making my own choices is the worst thing in the world. Those people, though, are the very people who tried to clip my wings.

We are all a blank canvas that changes through choices, experiences and time. I am my OWN person. I live within my own standards and within the law. That is all people should be concerned with. Everything else is my business.

I no longer surround myself with the wrong people. I no longer do things through duty – that’s not being unsociable, it is being true to who I have become. It is so gratifying for the penny to drop and peace reigns over my lovely little family.

PhD – A whole new level


The PhD is the most selfish thing I have done in my life. It is my own personal goal but I think we, as a family, are now in a position for me to do this. I have discussed it at length with the boys and their unequivocal support makes me so proud. It makes my decision even easier but no less daunting.

The boys are strong and independently minded. That is and will always be my greatest achievement although my work is not complete yet. It is rewarding to be able to influence, not control; to nurture, not stunt their growth; to guide them rather than force them. Life is not all sweetness and roses, I know that more than most. The boys need to understand that but also need to know the world can be a magical, wonderful place with some extraordinary people doing amazing things, however small that positive contribution is. The greatest gift given to a child is the ability to be a decent human being, devoid of prejudicial judgement. It is not easy! 

Never underestimate a parent’s role in the shaping of future generations.

Writing




In between researching and drafting proposals, I have been editing my work and writing new material. Oh and I have submitted some short stories for publication. There’s no limit to what you can do once you surround yourself with positivity and eliminate most of the negativity.







Rugby League


Last week I watched two fabulous games of rugby. Wes played in the home game in which they won 54 22. It was a great performance and my baby seem to come of age right in front of me! The second was Sheffield Eagles v Leigh Centurions. It was great to watch it with Wes and we had great fun. The last five minutes sealed the loss for the Eagles but the result did not in any way reflect the Eagles’ performance.




#JFT96


Tuesday 15th April 2015 was the 26th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster – TWENTY SIX YEARS OF FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE! Ninety six children, men and women lost their lives and hundreds, if not thousands of other lives were changed forever.

I am in awe of all the families and survivors who have fought all this time for truth and justice. Anne Williams lost her son on the fateful day. Anne fought tirelessly until she lost her battle with cancer on the 18th April 2013. Anne is my hero. Someone who showed unimaginable determination, humility, dignity and fortitude to carry on even when the establishment slammed doors in her face. A true, working class hero who showed me how to be a formidable Mum. RIP Anne – justice is coming.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

‘Doh!’ vs ‘Wow!’ Moments



Life according to Pam Charles : Learn from the 'Doh!'. Relish the 'Wow!'

Menieres Madness


I am not very good at accepting that Menieres means I do have limitations. Nearly every day I am reminded of the awful symptoms but I use them as a driving force to prove that I am strong and can overcome anything. It is not surprising then, when I am really ill, I beat myself up for not being able to be strong and conquer it. That’s when the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness takes over. I literally have to give myself a massive kick up the backside to get past those moments but I inevitably do. That is my daily battle and that is why I am less concerned now, more than I have ever been, about silly high school behaviour. I definitely have an intolerance to people who want to waste a moment of their lives slating other people for trying, or being racist, a bigot or just plain ignorant.

My illness has been my driving force to my own personal goals and success. I found a great article this week on Facebook that tries to explain ‘brain fog’ and how to deal with it. This is the article. I suffer from brain fog more and more and it is so frustrating. I walk into the kitchen to put the washing out and end up preparing the night’s tea; I go to the petrol station to check the tyre pressures and put petrol in and I can’t tell you what happens when I go to the supermarket!! Needless to say I don’t come out with what I need unless I have a list. My life is now an ENDLESS bundle of lists. I cope with brain fog by making lists - appointment times, bills I have to pay and when, shopping, outstanding jobs to do. Inevitably there are times when I forget appointments and to pay bills. I used to beat myself up about these things but now I accept it is a p

One thing that does strike me though is my ability to remember the research and learning that I do and I genuinely believe this is what has saved me from going completely insane (I know I am partly insane – it helps to get through life!). Focusing on research work and reading has helped me overcome some of the dark days. No one close to me understands this invisible illness. I have had to find my own way of dealing with this. I think I have and my next big adventure of studying for a PhD will, not only enhance my career prospects once the boys can take care of themselves but it will also help me concentrate on a goal that in turn will take away the Menieres madness.

There is always an overwhelming pull for us all to be like someone else – you should dress this way, you should look that way, you should be this, you should be that!! WHY? My life became much more peaceful when I decided to be ME. I am not here to impress anyone, I’m here to leave my mark on the world whether it be within the boys or my own work. That is how I live my life. Some people don’t like that but do you know? I DON’T CARE. 

I am probably in a minority to say (like on so many aspects of life I suppose) I am fascinated by the election campaign. It is so interesting watching the media so blatantly biased towards the right. It has always been present but it appears to be more blatant than ever. What angers me though is the blatant smear campaigns. Quite clearly Nicola Sturgeon is a threat to the right wing and so instead of having a clean fight, they try to smear her with a ‘leaked’ memo. Who are they trying to kid? Really?

My view is simple: a system that only rewards the top 1% of a population, is not a system of Government, it is a tyranny. Whether we like it or not, Governments are elected and we have our say in that. If we don’t vote (and that’s what they hope for) we don’t have our say. It frustrates me when women in public services say they are going to spoil their ballot paper. Really? What does that achieve? Stand up and be counted – that is what life is about, isn’t it? People ask me who they should vote for. That’s none of my business. I vote for my beliefs. If you share my beliefs you will do the same, if not you follow your own instincts. Just, please don’t moan and not participate. I think if you follow me on social media, it is pretty clear which side I fall on.

PhD Study


I have spent most of last week researching and putting together my PhD Proposal. I am so much more alive when I have a book in my hand whether it be fiction or fact. I do hope I can secure funding as this study already means so much to me.

Writing



Beyond the Past is selling well. You can read the 1st three chapters FREE here. Links to buy the book are:

Pegasus Publishers
Amazon UK
Kindle
Amazon US

Or you can order from your local bookshop. The ISBN number is : 978-1-84386-789-0 

I have had a lot of enquiries this week asking me the best way to start out and market written work. I don’t like giving generic advice as I am always aware that what works for one does not necessarily work for another. I am, however happy to share and discuss my experiences so far. 

Firstly, can I just say that in spite of endless hours of research, of working on understanding the publishing industry, I am still astonished at the number of sharks out there that are prepared to lie, cheat and steal to make money! If I was Prime Minister I would definitely look into regulating the book industry. I thought I went into this with my eyes wide open and was still duped. A definite ‘DOH!’ moment. To counter balance this though, there have been lots of ‘WOW!’ moments and in a future blog post I will share all of those with you.

Anyway, my point is – be careful out there. Whatever you do, watch for fake people and fake promises. Don’t depart with your hard earned cash until you are 100% convinced you will not be fleeced – I was 99.5% sure and it still happened.

I wrote Beyond the Past without even thinking about how I was going to market it or even how I was going to get it into print. I JUST wanted to write! It was only when the work was finished and I became single again, I thought I would test the water and give it a go.

My steps to being published: 


  1.  I wrote and edited the book
  2.  I gave my sister the task of reading and editing the book. She did a grand job.
  3. Researched the market – Literary Agents; Publishers; Self-publishing options
  4. Researched the dos and don’ts of publishing!!
  5. Researched the other options of websites such as Authonomy.
  6. Wrote a synopsis and cover letter, the latter was a nightmare!
  7. Picked out a batch of Literary Agents and pitched my book to them. It was totally demoralising getting no response. A ‘no’ was better than nothing as nothing to an eternal optimist means ‘maybe’.
  8. I received one constructive response and I am eternally grateful to that Agent who gave me pointers on how to improve my pitch and the story. He would have taken it on but his employer didn’t like NEW writers.
  9. I took on board his comments and made changes. Chapter three became Chapter One.
  10. I did a full edit again
  11. Sent out a further hundred or so requests and nothing!

This approach clearly was not working. I almost gave up. You know, it is hard desperately trying to overcome an illness, look after two boys alone and still keep faith in yourself. I had some very dark days during that time. I didn’t want to give up!! I knew I could do something to leave my mark in the world beyond being a great Mum.

I had a ‘WOW!’ moment one morning driving home from the school run. I remembered when I was fifteen I read Ingrid Bergman’s biography. When she went to her first audition, she was knew she had to stand out from the crowd. At the audition she jumped on the staged, startled the judges and left. She got the part.

  My changed approach

  1. I set up my own website – after all I had just graduated with a first class honours degree in computing
  2. Set up my own social media sites and started connecting with fellow authors, publishers and agents.
  3. Attended local networking groups
  4. Started this blog
  5. Started writing guest blogs and articles.
  6. Contacted local press
  7. Made a conscious decision to make my blog personal so people could learn who I was as an artist and human being
  8. I started to build my own audience and it worked
  9. Paid for advertising that didn’t work – Doh!
I threw caution to the wind!!! I started telling people what I had done. It is not the English way at all but I adopted it nevertheless. I remember reading somewhere that if you believe in yourself, others will too. So that is what I did. The positivity, the ‘Wow’ from people far outweighs the negativity. The ‘Dohs!’ definitely don’t have it.

After eighteen months of hard labour, I managed to have my book published.

MY ADVICE : PROMOTE YOURSELF


I did all this for one thing – to provide for my family. I do not regret in anyway having a go. I would have regretted not having a go. I am the first to admit my writing has improved ten-fold from Beyond the Past and if I was writing my debut novel now, I would do things very differently indeed.  Personally, I think I have done remarkably well in the last two years to stay sane (well not become any more insane), learn many new skills, learn a completely new industry, raise two fabulous boys alone, fight off a progressive illness AND define who I am as an individual in a world that does constantly want to change you.  Just had a ‘Wow’ moment then, when I was taken back to David Cassidy singing ‘How Can I Be Sure?’.

People may scoff and scorn but let them. You’re moving forwards, are they? Never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone because then the ‘Doh!’ moments are dwarfed by those amazing ‘Wow’ moments.






It’s funny how I sat down with a little seed of an idea and it has turned into this blog – LIFE IS FOR LIVING, with or without Menieres. Whatever you do this week - do it with passion, perseverance and a huge smile on your face.