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Toddler in a Hip Spica: Day 1

Leg in traction splintMy two year old son fell over in a tent and broke his femur. It sounds impossible, and he has a spiral fracture, caused by a twist and pull motion. He was stepping out of the bedroom compartment of the tent, and managed to get his foot wrapped around the loose fabric of the unzipped door before falling. Twist. Pull.

Since then, having done some research, I find that it is surprisingly easy for toddlers to break their femurs, the biggest bone in their body: jumping on the bed and landing awkwardly, slipping on a wet kitchen floor. I was told in hospital that the most common cause is slipping on a toy car.

I took him to A&E expecting, at worst, that he may have dislocated his knee. It hadn’t even entered my head that he might have broken a bone, let alone his femur. Even when I held him still for a x-ray, it didn’t click. But I’ll never forget what the radiographer said to me before I left. “He has broken it, and it’s bad, so be careful with him.” I cried all the way back to the cubicle where I had to be laid on the bed because I was about to pass out from the shock.

But, this isn’t a story about how he broke his leg. This is a story about how he recovered.

Like all little boys, my son is as active as you can be. Boundless energy, limitless enthusiasm, and unstoppable curiosity. He doesn’t walk, he runs. And he climbs everywhere. His ambition often outstripping his ability. Suddenly, he found himself in a full leg splint, tied to his hospital bed.

Keeping busy in hospitalThe wonderful play leaders at the hospital kept him busy, laying a large cardboard sheet across his mattress so that he could have a train set to play with. They brought a bottle of bubbles to his bed, offered to wheel his bed up to the playroom, or into the garden. They were not going to let him get bored.

After a good night’s sleep (we had both arrived at A&E on about two hours sleep), my little boy was finally back: chatty, smiling, and ambitious. He’s always been one to sleep on his stomach, and he wasn’t going to let the splint stop him from doing that. He crawled around the bed, propping himself up on his elbows to play. All of the nurses were amazed; they wouldn’t normally expect so much action until a week or even two after the injury. The play leader told me she’d worked in the hospital for 12 years, and seen a lot of broken femurs, but had never seen such a lively patient on day two. Yep, my boy is very special. This was going to be a long summer.

We were preparing for the possibility of him being in hospital, attached to his bed, for the entire time. We had been told, that it would be at least 10 days before they made a decision to either put him in a cast, so that we could take him home, or if he would spend the whole summer attached to a hospital bed. But after just two days in hospital, they decided to cast him.

And so, the hip spica cast. It’s pretty full on; running all the way from his chest to the ankle of his broken leg, and to just above the knee of his good leg. Legs slightly apart, with a gap in the middle to fit his nappy. It had to be done in surgery, under general anaesthetic (cue more tears from Mummy). When we turned up at recovery afterwards, we could hear him wailing before even getting in there. But, quite frankly, if I woke up in a pair of concrete trousers, I’d have been wailing too. I was allowed to pick him up and cuddle him, and he quickly calmed down. I swear the cast is as heavy as he is. By the end of the summer, I’m going to have some very muscular arms!

Of course, straight after sleeping off the anaesthetic, there he was, crawling round the bed, enjoying his extra mobility. He got the hang of flipping himself over, and made it clear that he wasn’t going to let this slow him down at all. Us adults can learn a lot from children; they’re adaptable and resilient in a way that we can only dream of being.

Business of Writing, Twitter

5 Ways to Boost Motivation when You’re in a Slump

Improvised Garden Office
Today, I’m improvising!

You know that feeling when things are going well: everything’s in harmony, your work is flowing, your sales are looking healthy, and it feels like everything has finally fallen into place. That this is it; the success you’ve been working so hard for. If only we could bottle that feeling. That energy. That motivation. Because it’s not always available in such abundance.

Running your own business is full of ups and downs. There will be times when jobs are scarce, money isn’t coming in, and you feel at odds with everything. And those are the times when your motivation can disappear altogether. When inaction can become a habit. When the idea of binge-watching old TV shows is far more appealing than another day staring at a computer.

Where’s that bottle of energy when you need it?

But there are ways to keep your motivation up. To keep pushing, and striving, and to keep hold of the joy of doing something that you love (even if it doesn’t feel like it loves you back right now!)

Remember Your Goals

There’s a reason you started your business. Probably lots of reasons, and now is the time to remind yourself of them. There was a reason you were excited about it, and now is the time to get that excitement back.

So, remind yourself of your goals. Your ‘whys’. Make a vision board, write a bucket list, create a meditation, whatever method works for you. Make note of your short-term goals, your mid-term goals, and your long-term goals. Even those that seem like pipe dreams. The holiday homes, the sports cars, the fame, the awards, remember those goals. Because, once upon a time, they seemed like pipe dreams to someone else. Someone who achieved them.

Think about what originally got you excited about your business. Ponder it, meditate on it, look back at old social media posts, put yourself back in that moment. Rediscover that same excitement.

Outsource and Collaborate

Have you ever noticed how you laugh more when you watch comedy with other people, rather than on your own? Life is much more fun when others come along for the ride. Excitement is contagious.

Why not outsource the aspects of your business that you don’t enjoy, or that aren’t your natural strength? Not only will it free you up to do more of what you do enjoy, and what you’re good at, but you’ll get new input into things. Other people bring new ideas, fresh perspectives, and a freelancer comes with a detachment from your business that you can’t achieve yourself. They can look at it differently, more critically, and really help with refreshing the way you see it.

Or find other people to collaborate with. Be it sharing a market stall, swapping blog posts, featuring in one another’s newsletters, or working on a new project together. Again, you’re bringing in those new ideas, those fresh perspectives, and another energy, one that may be exactly what you need to boost your own.

Get Creative

It can be very easy to get wrapped up inside your own head. With all those numbers, and to-do lists, deadlines, and strategies floating, jumbled, around in your brain. So, let’s leave all the business of business aside for a moment. Let’s do something creative, and open up the part of you that’s designed for dreaming, for empathy, for living in the moment.

You may already have a creative hobby; painting, knitting, dressmaking, or even just a colouring book. If your business is creative already, try a different medium or discipline. Try something new. Learn something new. Or you could spend some time designing flyers, or advertising banners, or making attractive graphics for social media. Dance. Sing. Go for a nature walk and make a collage from the leaves you pick up. Grab some marker pens, some post-it notes, some revision cards, and layout a new marketing plan across the floor. Just get moving, get creative, get out of your comfort zone.

Change Your View

Bored of staring at the same four walls? They say that a change is as good as a holiday, and they’re not wrong. Try working in a different part of your house, or work out in your garden. Even just rearranging and sprucing up your workspace can help you feel refreshed. Paint your desk, change the decor, buy a new houseplant. It’s amazing how much a spring clean can also be a spring clean for your mindset.

Or take your work out with you. Work at the park, at a coffee shop, at the library. Rent some office space, even if it’s just for a little while. Home office swap with a friend.

Say Hello (in real life)

Get out of the office, and go and speak to some real life people. Being an entrepreneur can be incredibly lonely, and, however much you love your own company, it’s nice to connect with others too.

Go to a local networking event or convention, join a book club, go for coffee with a friend. Just get out of the office, out of your head, and get socialising. You could make new friends, new business contacts, find your tribe, and even—gasp—have fun doing it!

With a mix of focussing on your whys, and refreshing your outlook, you could have your motivation back and be raring to go in no time.

Those are my top tips for boosting lagging motivation levels, what’s your top tip?

Blog Hop, Got Goals?

Got Goals? High and Lows

Big Goals BloghopReading my post from last month, I was full of excited energy, and feeling really positive about things. It’s bittersweet reading that now, because the mood has changed to a far more sunken one. That’s the thing about this writing game; it’s full of ups and downs. And June has definitely been that!

I had hoped to have finished writing While We Were Waiting by now, but it has been very slow-going, and I’m not there yet. So, I’ve signed up for another dose of Camp NaNoWriMo through July, so that I can use the NaNo effect to get this thing done. Because, there is nothing quite like the NaNo effect to get the words out!

On some better notes, I received a very exciting email (that, I’m afraid, I’m not allowed to talk about yet) that has allowed me to cross one of the things off my author bucket list. So, the beginning of the month had me happy dancing all over the place!

I’ve also finally launched my podcast. I’d been sitting on that plan for far too long, always finding excuses not to do it. But, last Tuesday, I finally sat down and recorded my first episode. It’s called The Great Western Woods (Narnia reference!) and it’s all about worldbuilding. Check it out here. Alongside that, I’ve started a related project which I’m moving forward with, albeit slowly.

To be honest, I think I’m pulling in too many different directions right now; doing a bit of this, a bit of that, some of the other. I need to focus on less, but all these new ideas keep popping up and demanding attention. I’ll get there.

Did you manage to hit your goals for June? Join the Got Goals? Bloghop here.

Blog Hop, Insecure Writer's Support Group, Twitter

The Importance of Habit

WritingLast month I didn’t write anything new. May came in off the back of April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and it was a month of editing, plotting, book releases, and marketing. I wrote nothing new.

June came, and I duly sat down to write, to create, and I found myself empty.

Getting words out of me was like torture, it hurt, and I found myself stopping after just a couple of paragraphs, too frustrated and exhausted to continue. It felt like it might actually kill me. Slowly. One unwritten word by another.

I needed to rediscover the fire, the passion, the creativity that had, evidently, buried itself so deep inside me that I couldn’t find even a hint of it. After taking advice from my peers, I turned back to a tactic I’ve used before. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself, but, sometimes, you need someone else to tell you. It’s not always so simple to take your own advice.

I began reading what I’d already written during April, from the beginning, gently editing as I went. That’s where my mojo was. Not in the air, in the clouds, not in words I hadn’t even thought of yet, it was in the solidity of what was already penned. It took just two chapters. And then I was ready to go. The story came flowing.

So, that’s my lesson learnt. I can’t take a month off. I need to write, every day, even if it’s something that will never come to anything. Creativity can dry up, albeit temporarily, but it’s far better to keep it burning.

Insecure Writer's Support GroupThis post was written as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. If you want to visit the other IWSG member blogs, or sign up yourself, you can do so here.

Musings, Twitter, Writing

The Lights that Dazzled

Since I was old enough to talk, I used to say that I wanted to become ‘an actress that sings’, or so my mother tells me. I’m sure it didn’t come as a huge surprise; my grandmother was a singer and an actress (as well as a writer and artist), so it was already in the family. And my parents set about helping me to pursue my dream with gusto.

Despite being the middle of five children, and my parents barely scraping by financially, I was sent to a string of ballet lessons, tap, jazz dancing, drama classes, and years and years of singing lessons. I dread to think what my parents had to give up to pay for them. That’s a debt I hope I can repay, somehow, someday, but it’s one that currently weighs heavy with guilt.

I spent so much of my childhood on the stage, completed my Drama GCSE, my Theatre Studies A-Level, and went on to university to gain a BA Hons Degree in Drama and Writing. And this was when everything changed for me.

In my graduation gown

There had always been things about theatre, about performing, that I didn’t enjoy. I didn’t like rehearsing, I hated learning lines. Technical and dress rehearsals were like torture. I also suffered, and still do, from almost crippling stage fright. Every time I performed, my mind went blank as I stood backstage, ready to enter. I’d step out into the lights, squinting in their brightness, my heart pounding at the sight of the shadowy figures filling the auditorium, and, even then, I wouldn’t be able to remember my first line. Somehow, thankfully, it always came out as I opened my mouth.

But my heart didn’t stop racing, my palms didn’t stop sweating, my legs didn’t stop shaking, until several hours after the performance had finished. And then the buzz hit. The absolute high of achievement. That’s why I did it. That’s what I loved.

But university wasn’t all I imagined it to be. I was living my dream, studying the subject I loved, yet it wasn’t making me happy. University was emotional, and confusing, and, for a girl who grew up in a very small country town, the social aspect was an absolute minefield. I spent three years treading carefully, and screwing up at every opportunity. And I didn’t know how to fix it, because I had no idea who I was, or how I fitted into the world. That’s something that would take me another ten years to come anywhere close to grasping.

Performing, acting, was a huge part of who I was. My identity was pinned on it. It’s all I’d ever aimed for in life, everything I’d always been working towards. And I suddenly found myself realising that this was not what I wanted to do with my life. It was strange letting that go. It was partly a huge relief, a lifting of a burden I hadn’t even realised wasn’t mine to carry. But it also left me identity-less. And for someone struggling to find their place in the world already, losing the one solid piece of identity I did have, it was massive.

As my degree progressed, I let the drama slide a little, I didn’t care as much, didn’t give it my all. It was the writing part that I loved. And I realised: I didn’t want to be on stage speaking someone else’s words, being someone else’s character, I wanted to be writing them myself. I wanted to sit at the back of a darkened auditorium and watch people speaking my words. I watched my classmates relish their time on stage, while, for me, it became a chore.

Back then, the publishing world wasn’t what it is today. I’d barely heard of Amazon, and self-publishing didn’t really exist at all. It would be another decade before the first Kindle came on sale. Becoming an author was, by and large, an unattainable dream. Of course, all of that was going to change.

Blog Hop, Got Goals?

Got Goals? She’s Here!

Big Goals BloghopIn my post last month, I was sailing towards the end of Camp NaNoWriMo, which I did complete with a 25k wordcount goal. Really happy with that, and a good chunk of my next book, While We Were Waiting, is now written.

May has been a little big of a mixed bag. I’ve been busy plotting the rest of While We Were Waiting (and finally worked out what the ending would be just yesterday!), and I returned to The Memory Trader series with the final edits and formatting of The Sister before its release on 22nd. So, yes, another book is now out, and the reviews have been absolutely amazing!

It really feels like things are moving forward, and picking up momentum now. Like I might, soon, be able to actually justify all this! Something’s definitely shifted, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

So, looking forward to June, it would be great to get While We Were Waiting fully plotted, fully written, and maybe even out to the beta readers. Too much? We’ll see!

How have you done with your goals in May? Join the Got Goals? Bloghop here.