These #10wordsaboutme define me:
Wordsmith. Restless. Doodle. Rebel. Solitude. Attitude. Social. Hawk. Waves. Daddy.
For me, there is a definitive difference between the written and the spoken word. When I speak, I sometimes find it hard to engage my brain before I open my mouth, and I could definitely be a little more considered in things I say to certain people. However, when I write it is an entirely different story. I delight in taking the time to find what feels like the right words, no matter how blank my mind might be before they appear. The search for those words is one of the most enjoyable parts about writing. You know that they exist, and the act of clearing your mind to find them offers a moment of mindfulness and inner peace. Words will always be an imperfect way of conveying feelings, but I strive to get as close as possible.
I am rarely happy with the status quo. I am not sure whether this is some mild form of ADHD (which I may have had as a child), but somehow I am always on the lookout for the next thing. I worked in a corporate setting in retail and recruitment for the first ten years of my career, but I never quite made my peace with the drudgery of the corporate treadmill. Embarking on my “gig economy” writing career has allowed me to find my perfect balance. I am able to concentrate utterly and totally on perfecting a piece of writing for a couple of hours and then I can move on to the next one. This is me at my best.
If I could describe my approach to life in one word, then doodle wouldn’t be far from the truth. Every change in circumstances can create an opportunity for deviation, and I believe (where possible) to seize the opportunity to make a change for the better. I learned Russian at university and met a beautiful girl in St Petersburg on my year abroad. We got married after university and I started on a graduate scheme for retailer B&Q. They then (amazingly) invited me to help with a retail start-up in Russia. After a couple of years in Moscow, we had trouble starting a family, so we decided to come back to the UK for fertility treatment. My wife fell pregnant in the month before our departure, so we went to the fertility appointment to see our tiny little daughter on the screen. I hadn’t planned any of it. I let my pen flow across the canvas of life and make the most of the chances that come my way.
I believe that you have to break something in order to make a genuine improvement. Iterative changes always build on something imperfect, so when you want to make a step change in your life, the path of the rebel is unavoidable. For me, the definition of rebellion means going against all that has gone before. You might argue that gradual change is a positive force in the world, but there is nothing like ripping up the rulebook of limiting beliefs in your mind and starting again with a fresh sheet of paper. When we are at that blissful point where nothing exists, everything is possible. As an aside, maybe that is the one key reason why I enjoy writing so much.
As technology turns us towards our screens and away from other people, loneliness is fast becoming one of the plagues of modern society. It is that devastating feeling in the pit of your stomach when you look up from your iPad that “no one is there for you anymore.” You might be able to name some friends, but do they truly know you? When did you last have a heart-to-heart with your parents, or are your chats full of superficial politeness? This is loneliness, not solitude. For me, solitude is something that I seek on a regular basis. The tranquillity of being alone with my thoughts allows me to escape from the everyday stresses of life. Every year when my kids visit their grandparents for a week in the summer, I get away to my spiritual home in Cornwall on my own for a week. It is where I find myself again.
Choose your attitude. No matter how shit life might be treating you, and how helpless you might feel, you have to remember that you are the main actor in all this drama. What you do affects what happens around you, and what you think has a direct influence on your actions. One of the most important things that I have learned about life is that you can choose what to think about things. There is sometimes a certain amount of mental gymnastics involved in turning certain negatives into positives, but with a little hope and determination, I genuinely think that the right attitude is the basic ingredient for happiness.
You might wonder how a (recluse) writer can simultaneously be a social butterfly? Well, I do like my own company a little too much, so this isn’t that sort of social. I am talking about social media, and specifically LinkedIn. Since I started writing my own blogs in 2014, I have somehow attracted over 42,000 followers on the platform and I have been helping my content marketing and job search clients curate their social personae for a good few years now. We might spend a lot of time on social media, but not many of us have a place where we define who we are in such a specific way. It matters, especially when you are looking for a job.
My daughter Lizzie plays Goal Shooter for the U12s of our local netball team Saffron Hawks. She is my eldest child and when she was young, she was hopeless at catching and throwing. I am a firm believer in the benefits of team sports, and as Lizzie has always been tall, I bought her a netball post for her ninth birthday. After many happy hours of practice in the garden with her, her competitive shooting percentage is now 97% (I can compete with her when I have ten shots to her eight). I have few happier places than when I am court side seeing her swishing her shots into the opponent’s net.
I spend a week every year down in North Cornwall while my kids are at their grandparents. I use the time to get my creative juices flowing and think about the year ahead. At least three hours every day is spent in the waves at various spots. I am a decent bodyboarder and a semi-decent surfer, and I love bobbing around on the water waiting for the next set of waves to come in. I often conjur up the imagery of waves when I am thinking about ideas for my writing. The pull of the moon means that the waves will just keep coming – somehow my brain is wired in such a way that the ideas do the same. They don’t have to be big though (waves or ideas). The smallest waves can offer the cleanest ride.
I have left this one until last. Probably because I could write a few books about it. It is the reason why I left corporate life long behind me, and why I live for the moment when my kids walk in the door every day after school. Condensing being a Dad to Lizzie and Danny into such a short paragraph is impossible, so I will just pick a few words to describe what it means to me. Privilege. Joy. Journey. Tickles. Challenge. Emotional. Deja-vu. Puzzle. Life. Scary. Transition. Pride. Trial. Hugs. Enrichment. Escape. Advice. Unique. Strict. Learning. Vertigo. Rhythm. Supporter. Family. Love.