Category Archives: Personal Deveopment

I’m obsessed with being my own boss

Somewhere in one of the many journals I’ve written since teenagehood is a page with short, medium and long-term goals. There are also three column headings describing how I defined the different aspects of myself: writer, helper and businesswoman. Let me explain…

Writing helped me during the years I was trying to make sense of the drama and instability around me which was out of my control. But I evolved from those circumstances able to deeply empathise with other people’s pain. Helping people is just an innate part of my nature. I do it naturally and freely in the hope should I ever need a hand, several will be extended towards me.

Now, also inscribed in these journals, and something I was recently both surprised and saddened to discover, are ideas. Youth projects, my hand-drawn ‘Street Style’ magazine logo which juxtaposed graffiti and italic font, and much more.

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Very few of my ideas were financially-driven as I’m just not wired this way, so the businesswoman I felt within myself wasn’t an entrepreneur as such, it was  someone capable of being their own boss and leading people. I still have visions of directing a production team in a remote part of what looks like Africa or the Caribbean as I stoop down to begin interviewing my elder subject on who knows?! How to achieve true happiness probably.

For all of my insecurities, I actually believe I could make a success of working for myself. Monetary success will not be immediate, but freedom of creativity and thought will lead to it, I’m sure. The freedom to breathe life into ideas and brainstorm them in the first place is what I’m craving. While at my desk for a job I’m incredibly grateful for, my mind drifts to everything I could, but can’t do for myself under the restrictions of a company where I’m nothing more than a byline. Without an ounce of cockiness, I think: ‘I’m more than this’.

Despite the obvious challenges which come with self-employment, I’m desperate to see what I’m really made of. Could I survive on my ingenuity, strength and talent alone when money makes the world go round? It’s like when I decided to take my hair back to natural – curiosity just overwhelmed me. There was no way of knowing how I’d feel without the feminine mask of hair, or how I will react without the false sense of security full-time employment brings. However my inquisitiveness (farseness for my black readers) makes me want to try it regardless.

A select few gave me mixed opinions on how stupid leaving my job without another opportunity lined up is. Given I’m so sensible I’m practically horizontal, of course, I know it’s not a wise decision. Nonetheless when I observed the time after writing this it was 11.20pm. I’d done nothing that evening but fry tofu, ruin noodles which only needed dousing in boiling water, tidy my bedroom, drink a mug of tea and attempt to watch Towie underneath my duvet. Time is unrelenting. Plus I’m three years from 30 and have something to prove to myself.

If this sounds like you or people you’ve worked with, for the life coach extraordinaires reading this, please leave your comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts or advice.

 

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INTERVIEW: Amelia Fergusson – the teetotal London writer bares all to help women see the power in their flaws

By age 13, Amelia Fergusson was a seasoned liar who tricked her Caribbean school friends into thinking this London rude gyal was having lots of sex.

In actual fact, as an insecure young girl, she just sought comfort in humour, and was terrified of intimacy. As a 32-year-old mother, she still is.

Back in London, by her early twenties she was comatose under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol and cocaine, and depressed. She had survived domestic violence and was on a downwards spiral only fate could have determined would not end in death.

At 24, she launched a high class escorting agency, spending all her profits on booze and had conned people out of thousands of pounds. These are just a few in a series of fuck-ups catalogued in Pretty Girls Can’t Write – an autobiography of comedic drama, candid FYI’s and retrospection.

“I just wanted to get everything off my chest. Some of the things I’d forgotten about and you also forget why you act a certain way later on in life. It’s through writing it down I realised I hadn’t yet processed that information,” she explained.

Although the book took a month to pen down, the copy was abandoned in a box with scriptwriter Amelia’s other drafts – “I purged and felt much better. I wasn’t ready to publish it and then began worrying about other people, and what if a guy I’m dating reads it!”

Fast-forward more than a year later, Amelia was ready to have others learn from her catastrophic mistakes, mentored by humour in what I can confidently say is a book every reader will see themselves in.

Amelia Fergusson

Amelia’s podcast on iTunes is likely to be as unadulterated as her writing so it’s not one to miss

The book covers your teenage years to late twenties. What’s so important about this period, particularly in a girl’s life?

I’ll start by saying this – I’m so glad I’m above 30! Now I’ve come out of those ten years, especially with my drinking and everything else involved with it, I just really know who I am. In your teens and twenties, you’re still trying to decide and set boundaries and keep your self-esteem up. It’s also very easy when you’re not so aware of who you are to get swept away by relationships and have guys affect your self-worth, then it’s a downwards spiral. So for me, those ten years were quite a revelation [laughs]. I feel those are the years you should be learning about yourself and then in your thirties, you become a bit more settled and responsible.

Is this the kind of book you would’ve liked to read back then?

Definitely but I don’t think I would’ve learnt from it. However, I would liked to have known other people were going through the same stuff.

Often people go through life blaming others and feeling like a victim because of whatever has happened to them. Do you believe everything in your life happened for a reason?

My tattoo, I don’t know if you can see it? [I couldn’t on the Skype camera] says ‘Maktub’ which means ‘Whatever happens, happens for a reason’ and that is me all over. Also when I started going to Kabbalah, I was taught in every obstacle you need to look for the light. What is this challenge being sent to you to learn from?

It’s a sore subject but the situation you went through with ‘John’ aged 17 – I wondered if you’d ever gotten closure from him, or an explanation? Later in the book, you say you’d spoken to him – what was that interaction like?

It was weird. He got in touch and apologised and I did let it go only because I grew up with him and saw he’d changed. As a young teenager, he was such a talented musician and would be the opening act for artists like Beenie Man when they came to St Vincent. He went from that downhill towards drugs and gangs. Then about five or six years ago, he was murdered. He’d sent me a message over Facebook just before he died saying he’d been trying to get in touch which really affected me…I’m a big believer in karma. Even if you do change your life, something will happen. But I did forgive him.

Taking your experiences with alcoholism, what do you feel people don’t understand about alcohol abuse from the outside looking in?

I have friends who are very aware of drug abuse but when I say I have an alcohol problem, they can’t put the two together. They can understand a cocaine addict but not an alcoholic. Or if they do understand an alcoholic, it’s those they see sitting on a park bench. But these are people who weren’t there when I was locked in my house for days on end and when I did finally emerge, I’d be me again. The days I had to show up for work, I’d show up, but  even though I was there – my mind was foggy, I had constant sweats – I wasn’t my normal self. People also don’t understand a lot of young people have an alcohol addiction. Most people just assume it’s only older men who drink their cans of lager in the park.

So is it really an all or nothing situation for a person with alcohol dependency?

Oh definitely. I know a lady who was sober for 27 or 37 years. She had some issues going on and wasn’t going to AA as much. Then she went back out and within a month had a heart attack, she started drinking so much. Now she’s been back in AA for two years but literally it goes back immediately – there’s no sense of moderating it at all.

What were people’s reactions to the book especially your parents – have they read it?

Oh, God no. Actually my mum keeps asking for the name of the book and I haven’t told her! It’s funny because when I was partying a lot and doing drugs, there were times she’d call me and because of the time difference between here and the Caribbean where they live, it’d be about midnight and I’d already be off my head. I’d say, ‘Mum, I can’t talk right now, I’m doing coke!’ – that’s the relationship I have with my mum. She knows how crazy I can be, but I’ve never really spoken with her seriously about things like what went on with my son’s father. I don’t think she knows how much of an effect it’s had on me.

Would you prefer her not to read it? And what about your dad?

My dad? God, no, he’d probably have a heart attack! My parents are very aware of how I am, but there are certain things I don’t feel they need to know. They know I’m naughty [laughs]. Not all my friends have read it yet but the ones who have, found it funny. People who don’t know me at all have said they really appreciate the honesty and the humour. I just wanted everyone to laugh.

The wisdom in the book starts early on but you were really eager for it not to be taken as a guide on how to live your life – why?

I didn’t want anyone to think I’m this self-help person because I’m far from it. I just wanted to share what I’ve learnt because it’s worked for me, and if you’re going through the same experiences, maybe try doing it this way.

 

Besides Pretty Girls Can’t Write, you have a period drama currently in production [set 15 years after slavery in the Caribbean] – what else are you working on?

I have another script for a period drama and a short film I should be filming next year. I’ve been writing, writing, writing, keeping myself busy and out of trouble. People think I’m so boring now because I’m either at home writing or reading, but they don’t understand I need to do this! I can’t be out and about – it would just all go wrong [laughs].

Find Amelia on Instagram or encouraging other writers with the Pretty Girls Can’t Write podcast coming soon to iTunes.

To buy a copy of the book, click here.

Quick tips for when you need a reminder that you’re special

When I took the photo below of two diverging paths, I internally captioned it ‘a metaphor for my life’.

Cliché, I know, especially as it’s not that I have a dilemma forcing me to choose either or – it’s the choice of throwing myself at life and making things happen, or continuing to feel resentful because they’re not.

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Iyanla Vanzant, and I’m sure many others too said, everything you’ve acquired in life so far is a manifestation of what you’ve been able to create with the knowledge you have. If I measure my current situation and accomplishments by those words, I’ve done amazingly well, but I know I was meant for more. What has hindered my success in all areas of my life is fear and damaged self-esteem. Perhaps like me you’ve had the same negative self-talk for so long you feel trapped, and have begun to realise nobody sees you because of it. Who I am in my mind is not the person most people experience, and this is what I’m attempting to address without costly talking therapies – although I remain a staunch advocate of the practice.

“If you look underneath your depression, you’ll find anger. Look under your anger and you’ll find sadness. And under sadness is the root of it all; what’s really masquerading all the while – fear.” Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert.

The term ‘self-love’ may sound airy and vague, but how much you value yourself governs every thought and therefore every decision you make. However you prefer to term it, the concept can’t be ignored so I guess I’m on a self-love mission of sorts. Millions of other people around the world and I often don’t feel very special so I thought sharing what I’m doing to correct this, would be an ideal starting point.

Reiterate who you are

At times I forget who I am. My motivations, likes, dislikes, values etcetera, all merge into the 50,000 thoughts a day I’m apparently having and the humdrum of working. I love writing everything down (clearly!) so I started a mind-map with a bubble in the middle of an A5 page: ‘Who am I?’ It’s almost a summing up of what makes me ‘me’ – my qualities, interests, and my best bits – make it visible to you on a daily basis.

Be honest

However unfavourable, admit to what you’re feeling and experiencing. Be honest about your behaviour or negative habits because you need to understand the cause to effect the outcome. One of the key things I’ve had to be honest about is jealousy, which is borne from a lack of fulfilment. It sounds awful but it’s a change signal for me. Another is dedication issues. What are yours?

Think back

A lot of the passion I had in my youth has disintegrated. I exist, but I don’t live. However, much of what moves me hasn’t changed, it’s just I no longer, or don’t, do them. So think back to the original source of motivation, the purpose for doing, because remembering and feeling it again can be really helpful.

What do you do? Share some of your self-love practices and tips by commenting below so we can add to this working progress. While you’re at it, watch this TED talk.

Debunking Myths with Brené Brown

Discovered in, and happily bought from Waterstones in summer 2014, cast aside for fiction some time in August 2014, divinely rediscovered at the side of my bed, December 2014.

Discovered in, and happily bought from Waterstones in summer 2014; cast aside for fiction some time in August 2014; divinely rediscovered at the side of my bed, December 2014.

If I hadn’t spent weeks contacting all manner of psychotherapists and psychologists for “complementary consultations” earlier this year, which would form the basis of an article I’d pitched, quite possibly I’d never have come across this fascinating woman and her research. The name was delivered with a side of ‘no-can-do-on-the-free-thing-but-this-might-help-you-out’ to my email inbox, and researching her opened up a treasure trove of wisdom that at the time, literally spoke to me. 6-8 months later, unfortunately the article remains unwritten as anonymous magazine stopped replying to my emails – my fault – but good news is, I have this book.

Just a snippet from Chapter 2…

MYTH #1: Vulnerability Is Weakness

“The perception that vulnerability is weakness is the most-widely accepted myth about vulnerability and the most dangerous. When we spend our lives pushing away and protecting ourselves from feeling vulnerable or from being perceived as too emotional, we feel contempt when others are less capable or willing to mask feelings, suck it up, and soldier on. We’ve come to the point where, rather than respecting and appreciating the courage and daring behind vulnerability, we let our fear and discomfort become judgement and criticism.”

Brené asks for her reader to consider a culture or social system you’re apart of when she poses deliberate questions in the book. Almost instantly, I think of my immediate family who I’d say are entangled within said paragraph above, and I believed/ still embody through my actions, myth number 1. If you’re unaware of Brené Brown, her light and airy website is the best place to start or better yet, type her name into Google (minus the accent), followed by TED.

Wisdom From a Rare Krishna Book

Original photography sourced from Samishome.com/blog

Original photography sourced from Samishome.com/blog

“Think of this as the mastery of your craft,” he said. This is what you get when friends visit Buddhist centres in London over Christmas. Thanks Ezra-Aharon.

So the Yogi wants mystic power, the Jnani wants salvation from the miseries of life, and the Karmi wants material profit, but the Bhakta – the devotee – doesn’t want anything for himself. He simply wants to serve God out of love, just as a mother serves her child. There is no question of profit in a mother’s service to her child. Out of pure affection and love, she cares for him. When you come to this stage of loving God – that is perfection. Neither the Karmi, the Jnani, nor the Yogi can know God, only the Bhakta. (Science of Self Realization, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

The message: Do things out of love, not for personal gain.

A practical guide: How to stop curiosity getting the better of you

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” Albert Einstein.

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What did curiosity kill again? I love cats but found this so funny. Source: blog.id.com.au

Great, I’m incredibly curious so that means my brain must be an encyclopedia of relevant information, right? On the contrary, all that’s happening is that I’m training my brain to be a giant book of useless information – that’s actually a book that we have at home by the way, as my mum has a fetish for crosswords so these things come in handy. Now the problem with a curious mind is that it’s rarely still – the poor thing doesn’t even know the meaning of the word.

At 6.10am on New Years Day I was full of beans and had researched everything from: hair porosity; alkaline foods; the pH of hair products; the Paleo Diet aka eating Caveman style; adrenal fatigue; facial puffiness and how I can’t fix hereditary undereye bags; then was swayed by the Daily Mail’s celebrity sidebar so read about Beyonce and Jay Z’s vegan challenge, and Googled what Kelly Rowland’s boo, Tim Witherspoon looks like when I finally decided that enough was enough. Part of this blog got drafted because after a whole night of restlessness the words were being sounded out in my head so I grabbed my phone, headed for the notepad app and tapped like a fiend in the dark. At 2pm I opened my curtains to grey skies and raindrops wondering where the freaking day had gone and told myself that this can’t happen again tomorrow.

To stop our understanding of subjects and issues being purely superficial, then of course we have to enlighten ourselves. The problem lies in that the internet is laden with people who know absolutely nothing and shift information from one dodgy source to their own site of unfounded claims so by the end of it, you still don’t have a grasp on what it was you set out to look into. But it’s quite simple to make research/ surfing time more efficient and satisfying:

1. Be your own guinea pig
Discovering that the pH levels of beauty products can be a major reason as to why they do or don’t work for us, I now want to go further and buy test strips to use at home. There are some things that you just can’t rely on others to test for you. Again, with diet and nutrition, there are so many opinions out there that until you try it yourself, you have no real clue as with a lot, it’s trial and error.

2. Try to invalidate your own opinion
Not enough people go out of their way to disprove their own opinion but it only makes sense because we’re influenced by so many outlets. Whether you like to admit it or not, initially a lot of what we think and say isn’t our point of view alone, plus just because you’ve said it a thousand times doesn’t make it any truer unless you can definitely prove it.

3. Seek peer-reviewed journals
Chances are someone has already done research into the area that you’re curious about and journals aren’t just for traditional medicine or science – they hold a wealth of well-validated and interesting stuff. Blogs are amazing for community, perspectives and often a great starting point but it’s always wise to go off and dig a little deeper, depending on the topic.

4. Jump on forums
Discussion with others who have done it, doing it or that want to do it; been there, perhaps wore the t-shirt to prove it – in a lot of cases those who take the time to comment on forums do so to genuinely share something of benefit to others. You can easily spot the comments to ignore but forums are an open invitation to voice whatever it is you need to, and have a human talk back.

“No cures exist for curiosity so exercise it responsibly, and don’t listen to everybody.” Vicky Gayle

Happy New Year.

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Words from a Leo, Dorothy Parker. American writer known for her witty sense of humour. (1893-1967)

Audio Blog: Would you be in a relationship with you?

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Source: meloveletters.com

A lot of the topics for my blogs have been inspired by conversations with friends, whether I say little or a lot, there’s usually something that sparks a trail of thought for potential posts. Problem is, when I don’t rush to get those written down, they shrivel back up, though gasping for air, in this sardine tin I call, my mind.

“Part of growing up is being able to find solutions to your own problems. At the end of the day, if you can’t do it, there’s no amount of asking for advice that’s going to help because it’s you that has to implement this advice.”

Last night, I decided to not procrastinate quite so much and take action when the thoughts were fresh and relevant. There was no time to write this down, it would have turned into an epic piece of waffle, and I can’t say that waffle hasn’t been transformed into ramble, but I ran with the momentum at least. No edits, I’ve recorded and uploaded this just how it is and as you may have guessed the question: ‘Would you be in a relationship with you?’ will crop up in this audio, eventually, when I get to the point.

“Like I say to everyone, which is probably slightly negative, I feel like your twenties are just – can be – slightly overrated. This kind of image of being ‘twenty something’ which is thrust upon everyone, isn’t what it actually is, which is why I love my website so much and writing because at the end of the day, I think I present a honest account, even if it is slightly self-depreciating, I just like to be honest.”

Apologies for it being so long, I guess I do like the sound of my own voice after all…

“You need to think about the value that you’re adding to other people’s lives. And before you think about the value that you can add to another person’s life, you need to think about the value that you’re adding to yourself.”