How to ask for help and to see things differently

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I recently experienced a really really terrible week, which followed several weeks prior that weren’t much better.

Faced with countless deadlines, challenging situations in all of life’s areas, a seriously ill loved-one and me feeling generally unsupported, I hit one of those awful places in time where I was finding it difficult to get up in the morning.

I was stuck on where to begin, how to ask for help and to see things in a different way.

My mood matched that of the now-wintry grey English skies.

As one to usually be able to drag myself out of feeling miserable, I found myself in a place where I didn’t know what to do next. I was depressed, teary and withdrawn.

I waited for the clock to tick down at work each day, feeling utterly awful, and even more down because usually I’m happy there. I enjoy my days and make a point of trying to make someone else’s day a bit brighter too.

Ironically, someone I turn to for genuine and useful advice was also having a terrible week. While I appreciated the odd bit of sympathy gained here and there, I basically felt really alone.

Seems to be the way when down times hit. I’m sure you know the feeling well – we’ve all been to this place.

There’s a difference between feeling a bit down and being depressed, and my mind wasn’t in a great place. I was depressed.

Thanks to the tools I now carry with me though, I knew it was up to me to crawl out of it, no matter how hopeless I felt.

And while I insisted on hiding under my warm quilt covers instead of going to the gym in the mornings, and despite feeling like I was easily set-off at every tiny little thing that could be perceived to be going wrong each day, during my morning commute I endeavoured to try to lift my own spirits.

Friends know I’m a huge fan of author and speaker, Gabrielle Bernstein, and her new book, The Universe Has Your Backhad been sitting on my Kindle for a few weeks.

I felt like it might be time to open it up.

On the bus each morning, I read just a few pages at a time, absorbing one small idea a day and taking it with me into work.

The one thing that struck me in the opening pages of the book was Gabrielle’s discussion about how we are the dreamers of our dream; we are responsible for what we see.

I knew that I was feeling sad and disappointed, and that there were reasons which had led me to that place. I have learned that it’s ok to feel down about things sometimes, for a little while.

But, I knew the way I was feeling was not how I wanted to continue feeling; I didn’t want to be taking it with me everywhere and I sure as hell didn’t want to be projecting it into the world, because I’m well aware that what I put out will come back in larger doses.

I wasn’t even sure where or how to ask for help and didn’t have any idea how I’d be able to shift what I was seeing in front of me.

I highlighted in Gabby’s book:

“You don’t have to be a world leader to have a radical shift in perception. Sometimes it can be as simple as choosing to perceive your job with more gratitude or your family with more love.”

 

I practised this in my head and in writing, and it helped a bit.

I knew if nothing else, just trying would raise my energy (and therefore what I was attracting) just a notch.

 

How to ask for help and to see things differently

I was still in a horrible place and this didn’t help me move through to anywhere significantly better. I felt particularly low that I was lost and without an idea of what to do moving forward.

Which is why this next part of Gabby’s advice was particularly helpful and as always, timely, and why I feel compelled to write a few words about it.

You see, I’ve realised in recent years that we don’t have to have the answers all the time and we don’t necessarily need to worry about figuring out what to do. (This coming from someone who feels very uneasy without a plan!)

All we need to do is ask for help.

“I need help. I want to see things differently.”

 

I am completely aware of this strategy but typical of being in a hopeless funk, we often forget to follow the advice we give to others.

I’ve used this strategy previously when I’ve been at the end of my options (or seemingly so), and when I have wanted to make a difference to loved ones having a hard time, but feel helpless to do so.

I stop and ask for help – a miracle even. And, I must say, I’ve seen it work each time.

The part about seeking a different perspective is reasonably new to me – or at least, specifically seeking a new perspective as a strategy is novel.

But how would it work?

I wasn’t sure, but it seemed straightforward and something that I could call on even when I was feeling hopeless.

I went about making this my daily mantra – asking to see things differently.

I fumbled my way through the week still feeling like a right old miserable mess, and half feeling like my crazy self-help strategies were failing me.

But being the believer that I am, I persisted.

“Help me see things differently”. 

And then it happened, out of literally nowhere, some news that changed the way I would view a scenario that was getting me down the most.

Something that had felt hugely disappointing turned out to be hopeful.

Then the next day, additional information came my way that lifted a veil of uncertainty over another upsetting situation that I’ve been holding space for.

I’d asked to see things differently – I had no idea how any of it would go, after all, that’s part of the reason I was feeling so depressed – I couldn’t see my way out of problems I was perceiving.

I kept asking to see things differently, and low and behold, that’s what happened in a relatively short amount of time from when I started asking for help!

Apparently the universe does have my back, and I’m glad to have had the chance to witness it.

What do you think about all this; would you try this strategy for a week to see what happens?

 

Looking forward: high school reunion reflections

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Recently my graduating class from high school caught up in Toowoomba, Queensland, for a significant reunion. Being over here in London, sadly I was unable to attend.

Thanks to a closed Facebook page though, most of us were still able to communicate and share photos coming up to the big event.

One of the organisers, Clare, kindly gathered together some short histories from those of us living abroad, to find out about our experiences since school wrapped up.

Mine speaks a lot about the value of travel and embracing change, so I’m sharing my high school reunion reflections here.

Does any of this resonate with you, and where does your gaze usually settle – forwards or backwards?

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We spend a lot of our time looking back at what happened in the past; about what used to be good. With our twenty year reunion top of mind, it’s easy to reflect like this.

When I was 30 though, I was hit with an important lesson on the necessity of looking forward.

I’ve been lucky; I’ve worked hard, tried to do the right thing (as much as I knew how), and things have generally gone pretty well for me.

Somehow though – between a job I was unhappy in, a city where I didn’t belong, and draining personal relationships taking a toll − I found myself in an emotional rut.

I felt like all my options for creating change were gone. If I’m completely honest, I was depressed, and I spent each day believing the best of my life was behind me.

What I really wanted to do was travel and live abroad.

My parents were some of the original backpackers of the world, contemporaries of the founders of Lonely Planet, and I’d grown up hearing stories of adventures everywhere from Cape Town to Lima, Buenos Aires, Kathmandu and everywhere in between.

Then there were the numerous mates from high school and my brother who had all ‘done the backpacker thing’, living and growing while making friends on the road over a cheeky beer (or ten).

While I’ve always been career-driven and don’t regret a moment of my experience, back then I felt a sadness about not experiencing the world.

In my heart I wanted that adventure. It’s not for everyone, however I knew it was for me.

But my time to get a working visa had passed, right?

I vividly remember the day my partner, Cooper, came home excited because unexpectedly he’d been approached about teaching in London.

London!

We’d never explored Cooper’s right to an ancestral visa in the UK, and as it turned out there were options for me too.

Life altered in an instant, when we decided to take a massive chance on a complete change at the very point I really thought that the ‘good bit’ of my life was done.

Now in 2016, we are in the third year of our second stint living and working in the UK (the first was across 2010 to 2011 with some time working in North America as well).

I constantly worried when I was younger about ‘missing out’ at home if I was overseas.

As it turns out, career-wise, you actually develop a special edge through experiences like this.

Personally, you learn the value of exploration and how change can be very positive and helpful.

I’m passionate about media content (with experience in radio, magazines and online), and from a base in London I’ve had the chance to hone my digital skills. This education far surpasses any a university could offer at this point, particularly in an industry that’s constantly evolving and in a city on the cutting edge of this change.

I make friends with travellers, expats and people with open minds. Life in London for me is exciting, enlightening and fulfilling.

Of course there’s sacrifice – living far away from loved ones being the critical factor. But challenges I’ve faced over the past twenty years have taught me that we all have our own journey. We are grateful our family members support this view too.

To make the world around us a better place, we need to pursue that which lights us up as individuals.

As much as it is possible, we have to look forward and anticipate a positive outcome.

I’ve also learned to trust that my true friends are always there, regardless of time and physical distance. I’m certain a couple of mine are reading this now.

And whatever you do, don’t consider the reasons why you can’t travel … to that new job, different life, dream destination.

Look forward to it. You can. And you should.

 

Set up a blog today – 8 simple steps

Cooper and I have been blogging and creating content for a while now, and we’re often asked how to set up a blog.

We got into this scene initially out of a need to stay in touch with family and friends, after all, it’s easier to share a story once (on a blog) than tell it 25 times to different people, without images!

As time went on, the hobby of lifestyle blogging meant we had the chance to review cool stuff – tech goodies and destinations.

Best of all, we found other like-minded travel bloggers, and events like TBEX, Traverse, Travel Massive and Problogger where we have the chance to mingle with inspired digital nomads who not only believe – but live and breathe – the mantra that you can design your own life, and that anything is possible.

Because I work in the communications industry though, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to learn and grow within digital and social media realms.

I’ve worked on a number of different content management systems (CMS) and have been responsible for the transfer of critical business web assets through many a website migration.

Recently too, I’ve had the chance to help many friends to set up a blog (both for hobby and business blogging plus personal branding purposes).

Because I’ve been through this process a number of times now, and because many of the questions are the same, I thought I’d take this chance to summarise exactly how I do it, and share some of the items that have proved useful to others in the past.

First up, here’s how I do it, and you can set up a blog like this too…

 

An 8 step cheat sheet on how to set up a blog

Important: This guide is targeting those of you using your own domain (e.g. yourname.com) and an internet service provider such as Dreamhost:

 

1. This is not a free option, so I advise if you’re wanting to go that way, sign up for a free Tumblr, WordPress or Blogger account and just start writing and creating.

They’re very easy and have tutorials available to answer your questions.

 

2. Choose your domain name, whether it be yourname.com (e.g. sarahblinco.com) or blog name (e.g. travellivelearn.com).You’ll need to find out what’s available and then pay for it. On average, this will cost you around US $10. I prefer to use dreamhost.com (you’ll find out why in a minute), but you can use any domain sales site to buy your address on the web.

 

3. Sign-in to your host to update your account details. Include anything it asks you for, such as your address and email details. Here you can get familiar with your service provider’s dashboard, which is where you can do everything from setting up email addresses to paying for your annual hosting plan, attaching special add-ons to your site and installing your content management system (CMS).

 

4. Organise your annual hosting plan. I prefer to use Dreamhost (as above) because of their one-click WordPress install. This means that with a click of a button, Dreamhost will install the WordPress CMS onto your new site. It’s so easy. But first you’ll need to let them know you want to use them for hosting which costs from around US $100 to $200 per year.

You’ll have to sign-in and set up a payment option for this. I’m not going to go into detail here, because Dreamhost has a very helpful chat service and if you need any assistance they’ll be able to advise.

But, once you have your hosting sorted, simply select the ‘one click WordPress install’ option in the Goodies section of the Dashboard, and your new site will be well on its way to creation! By the way, I am not commissioned by Dreamhost, I just think their services is worth talking about. There are other service providers now offering a WordPress one-click install, but I’ve been using Dreamhost for years now and am entirely happy with their offering.

 

5. Set up your site! Once this admin is complete, you’ll then receive an email saying you have access to your site. Then the fun begins. Your login will generally be yoursite.com/login (changing ‘yoursite’ to your own URL); You’ll then be able to access your WordPress dashboard, which is where you will spend most of your time from now on designing the look and feel of your site, and blogging, of course.

 

6. Now you choose a theme. Take a look at the theme options and see what suits your needs. In future, you might like to seek free or paid themes to install, but for now I’d suggest you have a play around with what’s already there. Once you’re happy with the look and feel of one of the themes, select it and click ‘install’.

 

7. Refine the look and feel. From here, you’ll want to go through and set up ‘pages’ (static options, e.g. ‘about’, ‘contact’); and you can begin to blog using the ‘posts’ option. There are many options within WordPress, but essentially you can teach yourself all about it by clicking through and having a play around in each to see what they do. Don’t forget to manipulate colour schemes, fonts and images where you’re given the option to.

 

8. Play with plugins. Finally, plugins enable you to polish off your site. Plugins are the way you can add social media sharing buttons to the sidebar (I quite like the ‘subscribe, connect, follow’ widget); how you can include SEO (Yoast is a good one) and backup your site remotely (I use Updraft which backs up my content to Dropbox once a week).

 

Side note – buying a domain name but not paying for annual hosting.

You can use your domain name (bought in step one, above) and combine it with free blog hosting such as Google’s blogger.com , WordPress.com or Tumblr (nice and easy to use), rather than paying for annual hosting if this is just to be a fun part-time hobby. Click on the provider links for more information on this if you’re interested.

 

Help!

If you need content help or advice on how to set up a blog, email me or leave a comment below.

If you need technical assistance, I’ve found reliable coding help on guru.com (and I highly recommend Zerosoft Technologies who you’ll find there for WordPress fixes and theme manipulation).

My best advice yet

Further reading to help you out…

How to start a travel blog – an in-depth look at the how and why to start your travel and lifestyle blog, including my must-have apps and time management tips.

Best blogging tips – 9 bite-sized pieces of advice to get you blogging right now.

Why it’s important to comment on blogs – the etiquette, and how this can help you with networking and promoting your own new site.

Words to go tips – here’s some juicy tips from some of the very best in the business. Well worth ten minutes of your time. Add it to your reading list.

Social media cross-promotion

Keen to promote your new space and interested in live-casting? Try Periscope – here’s our ultimate guide on how to get started and make the most of this cool platform.

Google+ might not be at the top of everyone’s promotional hit-list, but I still find it’s full of quality content, and might help improve your rankings and authorship cred. Top tips for beginners featured in this in-depth analysis.

Facebook – you’re probably on it, and quite possibly have set up a page to complement and promote your new blog, but are you using it to your advantage? Double check against these five things you might not be doing on your Facebook page.

 

Questions? Comments? Drop us a line below…