Today we’re told is blue Monday. It may well be a marketing ploy dreamed up by the holiday industry, but I do believe it’s rooted in fact. Today is blue because we’re knee deep in January and there’s no end in sight. We’ve over 2 weeks go to until we put it behind us. Most of us are on sackcloth and ashes diets, or struggling with a new gym routine we secretly hate. We might have sworn off booze for the month or signed up to Veganuary or a million and one other well-intentioned resolutions that are slowly breaking our hearts. The mornings are dark, the days are short, the weather sucks and we’re all broke.
I can remember this time last year being more than just your average January blues. I was a brand new mum to a tiny newborn and I was trying to keep my head above the water. I cried every day. I looked in the mirror and I didn’t know who this person was looking back at me. I was completely overwhelmed, lost and felt utterly alone. I was failing. I was drowning.
Fast forward to January 2018 and I don’t recognise myself anymore, but this time it’s for all the right reasons. I’ve managed to overcome a lot of those terrible feelings of post-natal depression. Over time, things improved and I began to feel like myself again. I clawed my way out of the fog. Now I’m not in a constant state of worry and anxiety. I don’t wake up these days with a sense of dread. Instead, I’m feeling hopeful. That’s not something I say lightly. I’m not a confident person by nature and I would rarely say I’m hopeful out loud.
Obviously my recovery has been a huge part of that, but what also has me feeling this way is all down to a remarkable writers retreat I attended at the weekend that was like chicken soup for the soul served with a cocktail of confidence, support, inspiration and positivity on the side.
Despite being a writer all my life, I’ve never actually sat down and written just for me. My work has been largely feature articles and freelance commissions for magazines, newspapers and clients. All very interesting and much appreciated work, but it wasn’t me writing for me. I wasn’t telling my story or those stories that were itching to get out of the recesses of my brain and down on paper.
So it was with a huge sense of hope and very much a leap of faith and with a peppering of confidence that I didn’t know I had, I booked a place on the inaugural Inspiration Project. Run by the international bestselling authors- Camel Harrington, Catherine Ryan Howard and Hazel Gaynor, it promised to be a writer’s retreat with a difference. It promised to inspire us to dream, dare and do.
And by Jesus, did it deliver in spades.
I went knowing 2 of the other attendees and no one else. That is unheard of for me; the super shy writer who prefers to be alone with her laptop tapping away, than engaging with complete strangers. But it was the most incredible thing. I somehow felt completely at home with all of these other amazing writers who were here for the very same thing as me. Each of us hopeful, talented and creative. Each one determined to make their dreams of writing a book a reality.
What we all got was a weekend full of positivity, comradery and support. We weren’t told things like how hard it is for a new writer to get published and statistics on how many books fail, instead we were shown the success stories, we were given confidence, inspiration and a feeling that ‘yes we can do this! And we will!’
I left on Sunday afternoon feeling like Emmet from the Lego Movie. Honest to God, I was so pumped up I was about to burst. My mind was on fire. Not only had I for the first time shared my idea for a novel, but I shared it with 3 outstanding experts in the book world. When international bestseller Carmel Harrington casually asked me across the dinner table what my idea for my book was, I felt like my heart was about to explode with fear. The skin on my palms and fingers were pruned from sweat and my voice was all of a sudden hoarse.
It was a terrifying prospect, but I did it. And over the weekend, the feedback was incredible. It wasn’t just someone blindly telling you ‘oh yes great idea off you go.’ Instead it was honest, encouraging, creative and constructive.
I was left with a clear plan of what to do and how to get there.
I was left with a sense of confidence for the first time in an age.
And I was left feeling I had found a tribe of writers who would become lifelong friends.
In short, I’ve found my inspiration.
And I would encourage you to find yours, whatever that is.
Don’t waste time focusing on some crazy January diet you hate, when instead you’d prefer to be doing something that really sets your soul on fire.
Grab life with both hands and do it now.