Category Archives: goals

Trouble Ahead – Stand Up for Equality and Be Counted

There is trouble ahead – times of turmoil, division,
and loss of liberties are invading our lives.
What will we do about it?

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I’m not getting into politics or policy – I’m assuming we all know what is going on throughout the Western World right now – if you don’t, you can scroll Twitter Trends or check out your Facebook newsfeed, or search #Trump for that.

I’ve got friends who have stepped back from politics because they are overwhelmed with the current state of affairs, and others who are stepping forward to fight for their rights and their beliefs. Neither response is wrong, but if we really want to prevent inequality then we need to stand up and be counted.

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© Lisa Shambrook

There are people across the world, not just in the western world, living in fear for their lives because they are not the majority, or they are different, or they are repressed by regimes and powers that have control.

Those who are strong enough need to protest the status quo, fight the patriarchy, and stand up for civil liberties and human rights. As the rights of those around us diminish – those hard fought for rights that Suffragettes Susan B. Anthony, Emmeline Pankhurst, and movement leaders and activists Martin Luther King Jr, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger and Marie Stopes, Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai, and many, many more – battled for.

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© Lisa Shambrook

We need to Stand Up for those who can’t.

We must Stand Up for Equality.

We must Stand Up for Gender Equality, Racial Equality, Religious Freedom, the Right to Vote, Consent, Education, Working Conditions, the Control over our own Reproductive Organs, the Right to Safety, the Right to Health Services and Medication, Fairness, and Liberty.

We must Stand Up for those who are discriminated against, whether they are Women, Men, Native Americans, Refugees, Trans, Gay, Young, Old, Poor, no matter what Nationality, Colour, Sexual Preference, or Religion they are or have.

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© Lisa Shambrook

When walls are being announced, divisions widened, gag orders and censorship put in place, and freedoms curtailed we must Stand Up, we must Stand Up for what we know is right. So, March, Write, Protest, Contact your political representative, and make your Voice Heard.    

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Acapulco Gold – Catatonia

We are Human Beings – Brothers and Sisters – and we are all different but all the same.
Let the same blood that runs through each of us enlarge our
Hearts with Compassion and Love. Stand Up for Love.

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NaNoWriMo and How to Make it Through

November has been National Novel Writing Month for me for a few years now.

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Back in 2011, I was a writing community newbie and heard the word NaNo getting thrown around and I had no idea what it was. Then I began seeing that several of my friends had won NaNoWriMo, and I thought how amazing they were at winning something that was so widely talked about. It must be big! Now, those friends who win or take part in NaNo are still amazing, even though I know what it is and anyone who completes it – wins it!

national-novel-writing-month

It’s not an easy thing, bear in mind.

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month on many writers’ calendars and to win it you must write 50,000 words in the month of November. 50K – that’s 1,667 words per day throughout the entire month. In 2012, when I first signed up it felt like a huge mountain, and I had no idea if I was fit enough to climb it!

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© Lisa Shambrook

I’d already written several manuscripts and one published book and would be rereleasing my first novel, Beneath the Rainbow, a year later, so I knew it was possible, but I had never ever written a book in one month… Could I do it?

I had a sequel in my head for Rainbow and I spent October planning Beneath the Old Oak. I took advice from other writers: cancel all your plans for November, plan easy meals, keep your family informed (their support is vital), stay positive, and keep writing.

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© Lisa Shambrook

NaNo is not about writing a book, or at least not a full, polished, finished book. NaNo is about writing your first draft, and we all know first drafts are all about getting words on the page, letting the story flow from your fingers, and allowing your imagination complete freedom.

The months after November will be for rewrites, editing, deleting, pulling your hair out, worrying about plotlines that don’t work, honing the words, adding, altering, and fixing… November is for getting words into a draft.

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My secret weapon – Hot Chocolate – © Lisa Shambrook

So, how do you do it?

Simply, by writing.

Some days you won’t feel like it, but write if you can.

Don’t worry if you fall behind, you can catch up on a good day.

Don’t worry if you don’t complete 50,000 words, any words, any words at all are positive and moving forward.

See it as a personal goal, don’t compare. My first year was tough, I didn’t think I’d do it, especially as I watched friends zooming through, but I made it, just.

Treat yourself, chocolate works.

Have a great support network. Your family needs to know what you are doing, it will pull you away at times as you let your muse inspire and flow. If dinner doesn’t arrive on time, or the bins haven’t got put out, it’s not the end of the world…order takeaway, beg someone else to do the rubbish, or catch it next week. Writing Community friends are also magic. Their words, commitment and progress can help fuel and enthuse you.

Take time out… go out, leave the house, take a walk (November is full of autumn goodness and crunchy leaves!), watch a movie, read a book. Sometimes your muse will overwhelm you with words, and sometimes you will struggle to find her!

But, the best advice, just write.

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Take a break from writing – © Lisa Shambrook

In 2013 I wrote Beneath the Distant Star during NaNo then took a break for a couple of years. This year, 2016, I was raring to go with a project I’d held up for years, and this time my words exploded out of my fingers, completing my 50,000 words in just 19 days, and I’m still writing…this is a longer book than my others and I’m loving writing.

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Get family support, and cats! – © Lisa Shambrook

I believe my success this year is down to the fact that I originally wrote this book way back in the early 2000’s and then left it alone. I know the story inside out, but I had to throw out the old manuscript and completely rewrite from scratch. An old framework, but a brand new concept and one that excited me immensely to write!

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NaNo win – © Lisa Shambrook

The discipline of NaNo inspires me and works so well for me. I’m a writer who gets distracted – a lot. So, keeping a timetable, turning off apps, ignoring the internet, and just writing is something that works and I hope this year I can continue the habit over the following months. I have two more books planned in this series, and have already spent months world-building, restructuring plotlines, characters, and backgrounds, and I can’t wait to write.

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Keep Writing! – © Lisa Shambrook

If you’re still writing, keep it up and let your muse stay close…

Keep those words flowing!

Have you taken part in NaNoWriMo, how did you do?

Would you love to have a go?

What are your tips for getting through a month of intense writing?

Bucket Lists and Dreams – Just Do It

Just recently I looked back at the things I’ve been doing for fun,
and it made me search out the Bucket List I made a few years ago!
What have I done since writing it?

Bucket Lists and Dreams - Just Do It - The Last Krystallos

Eleven years ago, back in 2005, I wrote a list. I realised as I came out of a long period of depression that I just wasn’t happy, we weren’t having fun – and I wanted that to change! The list included some easy, simple ideas, and some bigger, more out of reach dreams. Some of the simple things: meal out with the family, go swimming, paddle along the shore, swim in the sea, kick autumn leaves, play football on the beach, build a sandcastle, have a barbeque, write a poem, build a snowman, do a big jigsaw and more… The bigger things included: fly in a helicopter, romantic evening with Vince, night away with Vince, learn Welsh, paint a dragon, take a family holiday, outline a new story, take a maths GCSE, fly in an aeroplane, do Vertigo, buy a Suburu with rally decals…

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Family Portraits © Lisa Shambrook

We did some – as you, and your family, get older there is often a little more money available and we managed a surprise trip to Edinburgh on an aeroplane. We bundled the children into the car at 4am and took them on a mystery tour ending up at Cardiff airport and spending the day in Scotland! We went up in a helicopter for Bekah’s 16th birthday as Vince had a client who flew a helicopter and he was paid in kind with a ride up in the sky! Beaches were easy and we had barbeques, including getting pushed off the beach by the rising tide and finishing the barbeque at home in the back yard, in the rain! I swam in the Blue Lagoon at Aberieddy, a 90’ deep lagoon, loved it! Vince and I have had some nights away. Ice skating on the Isle of Wight, bought a real Christmas tree, family holidays to Butlins, got a dog, I passed my motorbike test, decorated some amazing cakes, took some awesome family portraits. I began a whole new career as an author and published three books. Vince flew a plane, and I got air sick.

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Helicopter, motorbike, planes, Blue Lagoon and Vertigo © Lisa Shambrook

I even did some things not on the list: I started a business – Amaranth Alchemy. I got my first high heels, got my first Dr Martens too. I didn’t paint, but I did create art and many stories.  I went to the ballet and saw Giselle. We went to Harry Potter Studios, saw Les Miserables in the West End, wrote a book in 30 days doing NaNoWriMo – twice, and I’ve dived from a 10ft diving board and lots more!

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Bucket List and Boots © Lisa Shambrook

Some things will be crossed off the list because they are no longer important to me: I have lost the desire to skydive but my daughter did a couple of weeks ago – and it wasn’t as big a thrill as she’d hoped! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford piano lessons or a piano, I don’t want a rally car anymore, and I don’t feel the need to complete a maths GCSE, I’m at peace with my F grade!

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Theatre, Bekah’s Skydive, wild camping, London © Lisa Shambrook

So what is there now? I’ve flown in that helicopter, I’ve done Vertigo at Oakwood Park, I passed my bike test, and taken the kids on a surprise holiday, and we even slept out in the wild in a tent on Dartmoor when we went wild camping, and began a pottery class.

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Cosplay © Lisa Shambrook

There’s a lot more to come!

My new/current Bucket List contains more dreams
and some I haven’t ticked off my last list.

Build a big, old fashioned sandcastle on the beach.
Go to a Spa.
Visit the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland.
Ride a gondola in Venice.
Climb the Eiffel Tower.
Go up in a hot air balloon.
Climb mount Snowdon.
Ride a long zip wire.
Rewrite my dragon books and publish.
Paint a dragon!
Stand out in heavy rain and get soaked.
Swim in a tidal swimming pool.
Learn sign language – I did once, but have forgotten it.
Travel with Vince on our motorbikes.
Get a professional massage.
Go on a Norwegian Fjord Cruise.
Drive a rally car – but not own one!
Do NaNoWriMo again.
Have a gardener fix my wild garden so I can redesign it.
Achieve consistent book sales.
Write a best seller.
Visit Canada.
Visit Iceland.
Bathe in hot springs in Iceland.
Walk on a glacier.

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Decorating Cakes © Lisa Shambrook

In my debut novel Beneath the Rainbow, Freya leaves a list behind and her family vow to do the things she’d wanted to do… One of her dreams is one I share – to build a big sandcastle, on the beach complete with turrets and a moat! 

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Author, art and Amaranth Alchemy © Lisa Shambrook

What about you, what’s at the top of your Bucket List?

What have you already ticked off your list?

Get out there and have fun!

Free Spirits and Happiness

I yearn for freedom, for open skies, hills to run, and oceans to swim.
I yearn for the ability to drop everything and escape when life gets too much,
and sometimes I do. Sometimes I need to escape.

Free Spirits and Happiness - The Last Krystallos
My own views on mortality herald free-agency as a major part of our existence, and though life and circumstance does its best to trap us, freedom and reaching for our dreams is the key to happiness.

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© Lisa Shambrook

What is happiness? There’s a quote which says ‘Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.’ Henry David Thoreau. Sometimes we put too much into trying to find happiness when we should be enjoying life as it is, reaching for the stars, and supping at life’s great feast. Happiness can be the simplest of things to some, like bare feet on dewy grass, or the riches of life, like an expensive glass of champagne, to another, but it’s the liberty of choice that offers both of these.

Many of us regard things we own as the things which make us happy. I could list a fair few possessions that I love which make me happy, we all could, but what are the most important things?

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© Lisa Shambrook

They say when you love something you must set it free ‘If you love something, let it go. If it returns, it’s yours; if it doesn’t, it wasn’t. If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.’ (Commonly attributed to Richard Bach)

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© Lisa Shambrook

There’s a story I remember as a child, a Swedish tale, retold in a picture book I adored. It told the story of The Bird of Happiness. A little boy loses his kite and is upset at its loss. An old man tells him possession is not happiness. Then tells the children the story of a bird, a beautiful golden bird, and it showers a village with happiness. Everyone was happy, and no one was in need while the bird flew and watched over them. Then one day the people began to worry what would happen if the bird ever left, if it forsake them, and they lost their happiness so they decided to build a cage. It was a fine cage, a magnificent cage of pure gold, and while the bird was asleep they trapped it and shut it in the cage.
Every day people came to see the bird, and it was sad, but no one could see. It refused to eat and its golden feathers dulled, and as it paled and greyed a twilight descended over the town. The people became unhappy, and the only thing that shone was the golden bird cage. The bird grew tired and smaller every day.
Then one day the sun stopped shining and the sad town grew quiet, and a flicker of a flame ignited in the cage. Everybody came to see as the bird burned and the fire in the cage grew and spread. The heat melted the gold and the bird suddenly rose in splendour from its ashes, bigger and more beautiful than ever. It circled and then left the town forever.
The old man told the children the bird disappeared and the townspeople had to begin to find happiness on their own. The bird now flies free and every now and then drops a tear or a feather and lights up someone’s life.

My freedoms are important to me, like the bird of happiness, without the ability to be free, to soar and to fly, I could not be happy.

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© Lisa Shambrook

In The Lord of The Rings – The Return of the King: Aragorn asks Eowyn, “What do you fear, lady?” and she responds, “A cage.”

Eowyn needed to escape, to be herself, to be a warrior and a fighter, and to reach for her dreams. My happiness lies in my family, foremost, and in nature, in the ability to write and to read and to escape. Perhaps this is why I like motorbikes, and dragons, and I feel like I have the spirit of a cat!

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© Lisa Shambrook

I fought for many years to become myself, to spread my wings and to fly. I am forever grateful that my children have learned this truth early. Embrace who you are, embrace what makes you happy, don’t worry about being judged by those around you, they need to find themselves, not worry about who you are!

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© Lisa Shambrook

Fight to break those bars, to escape the cage that society places you inside. Your reason for life is you. Know yourself and then you can be the person who lifts and encourages, who inspires and stirs those around you to find themselves too. Be the person who frees others, be the one who cares, be the one who’s there.

Drop your tears and feathers into the lives around you and light up someone’s dark day.

Be happy.

What makes you happy?  

9 of the Best Ways to Beat Procrastination

How can you beat procrastination and defeat the thief of time?
I always want to do all of the things – and then end up doing none of them.
So, let’s fight procrastination together!

9 of the Best Ways to Beat Procrastination - The Last Krystallos

Remove distractions/avoid interruptions – Turn off social media, no really, I mean it! Turn it off, do it now, or at least after you’ve finished my post… There are apps that can do this for you, or you can unplug the internet, or you can use willpower  – what’s that, I hear you ask? You know that personal strength inside of you…yep, it does exist – or if you have a better idea or strategy let me know – I really need to know! But, yes, turn off the TV, send the kids out to play, or at least choose a time when you have peace and quiet.

Discover what makes you waste time – um, Facebook – and take steps to reduce the time you waste.

procrastination the art of wasting one's time, the last krystallos, sleeping cat procrastination meme,

© Lisa Shambrook

Treats – have a reward ready for when you’ve finished your task. This only works if you have that proverbial self-control or if you lock it away first. If I have chocolate beside me, I eat it – while I’m procrastinating. Maybe don’t choose chocolate as your reward.

twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did, bowlines, sail away, safe harbour, catch the trade winds, sails, explore, dream, discover, H Jackson Brown Jr, Mark Twain, the last krystallos, quote,

H Jackson Brown Jr quote © Lisa Shambrook

Find your best time – find out the best time of day for being productive. I tend to finally knuckle down about an hour or two before I have to go and do the school run, then I’m back to square one and get interrupted while I’m on a roll. However, I know if I get started earlier, I can achieve so much more. Some of you will be morning people, some, like me, night owls. The worst thing for a night owl is having to get up early which curtails the opportunity to work late at night, so I’ve had to alter my habits and learn how to be productive much, much earlier! Better to cultivate an achievable productive time than languish and wait for time that will never come.

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My blog ideas list on One Note © Lisa Shambrook

To Do Lists – argh, the dreaded To Do List. I’m a list lover; I have them everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Scraps of paper abound with bullet points and scribbles. You can write your list on paper or use an app; not only is my house strewn with scraps of paper, but my One Note app is brimming with lists too! For some people they truly work. You can list and prioritise and those that love lists also relish that moment when you can score through an item and tick it off! Some of us even write lists including things we know we’ve already completedyes, you know you do – just so we can immediately cross things off. We get a buzz from it. Just make sure you actually do something on the list that hasn’t been finished too.

Prioritise – yep, mentioned above. Get your priorities right. There are often important things that need doing first. If it’s time sensitive it makes sense to get it out of the way. If you have so much to do you’re feeling stressed then choose a small quick thing to do first. Generally if you do something that only takes 15 minutes or less, you’ll not only feel good and be able to cross something off fast, you’ll have reduced the pressure you’re putting yourself under and achieved something. Then move onto something more complicated or time consuming.  You can even break your larger projects down into smaller chunks.

I’m world building, plotting and planning my next series of books, and rather than just list: write book, I’ve narrowed it into smaller tasks: research, history, characters, names, character bios, maps, etc, which helps me have perspective and goals I can manage.

gossamer dreams and concrete goals, setting goals, choose to put your dreams into action, lisa shambrook, the last krystallos,

Gossamer dream and concrete goals © Lisa Shambrook

Set Goals – see my post: Making Dreams Happen and Reaching Your Goals. Set achievable goals and write them down. Will Self said on writing: “Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” Write things down. That’s important.

Quoted from my article linked above: Reaching our goals is the result of a choice and a decision to recognise and to work towards making something happen in our lives.

The stages of achieving are thus:

  • Recognise your dream, the thing you desire.
  • Write it down, it’s been proven that putting something on paper makes it more concrete and more likely that you will do something about it.
  • Make a plan. Save for that holiday, outline that novel, change your diet…
  • Decide to do it and don’t give up until you reach that star.

Set goals and make plans – without plans it’s difficult to motivate yourself. Your goals should have time factors, rewards and motivation.

that moment when you have so much to do you choose not to do any of it, procrastination, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Don’t guilt yourself – sometimes you’ll while away an entire day watching cats fall over themselves on YouTube, or you’ll scroll Twitter’s never-ending feed clicking here and there, or you’ll get caught up in a conversation on Facebook or Twitter. That conversation might have been important, you might have found an article you need for research, or you might have learned something new. Down time is just as important as getting things done. 

Every day I discover more and more beautiful things It’s enough to drive one mad I have such a desire to do everything my head is bursting with it Claude Monet, quote, the last krystallos,

I have such a desire to do everything – Claude Monet © Lisa Shambrook

If you didn’t accomplish anything start again tomorrow, analyse where you went wrong and take steps to fix it. Get that self-discipline working! If you’ve lost the morning, don’t give up, start again after lunch.

Lastly, just a few tips to remember – work in a warm room, it’s more conducive to productivity. If you’re overwhelmed with a large list, do some quick things first. If you’re getting bogged down, blocked or foggy, take a walk and get out into the fresh air. Fresh air will clear your mind, aid your creative juices and perhaps inspire you. Eat well and stay hydrated, drink water it can prevent headaches and keep your mind more active.

Create habits – good ones – it’s said that it takes 21 days to make a habit, maybe a month. So work on being productive and lessening your procrastination. And remember tomorrow is always a new day!

What are your tips for beating procrastination?

How do you motivate yourself?

Let’s all try and be better today than we were yesterday!