Posts By: Kim Lawler

On Adventure, comfort zones, and pushing boundaries

adventure

So this is kind of a break from the norm, a more personal post, oohh-eerr. Not that I’m against getting personal on this blog, but most of my posts lately have been more about business and creativity than actual life.

About a year or so ago I started getting itchy feet for adventure.

We’d started doing a lot more walking with the dog, longer walks over moors, fields, woodland and hills. We’d spend our weekends getting aquatinted with the outdoors, pushing ourselves to walk further and harder than before. I’d started doing more classes at the gym and I could see huge physical improvements. I could climb up rocks that I’d have previously cried about, I wasn’t afraid to scramble down hills, and I started punching the air when I made it to the top of tough hills.

There were low points too, of course. That time I cried on the moors because my jeans weren’t flexible enough (I soon invested in actual walking trousers), and I had ridiculous menstrual cramps. I think I told the Pennine Way to go fuck itself. Or the time I thought I’d never get down the muddiest banking ever, and cried again. I’m such a fucking pussy sometimes.

I cry less now, and punch the air more. Just the other week I traversed the boggiest downhill section in Holmfirth, and whooped the whole way, not caring if I fell and got dirty, just happy in the fact that I no longer gave any fucks about the mud. Ice though, I still cry about ice.

I started to crave more. Bigger challenges, something more testing, something that would probably make me cry but feel like a god damn heroine after the fact.

On May 1st 2015 we start the first of our adventures, walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall. We start in Newcastle and walk East to West, ending up in Bowness-on-Solway.

It’s going to be a walk of firsts for me:

  • The first multi-day hike
  • The first time I’ll have camped in over 8 years (and not at a music festival)
  • The first time I’ll have carried a huge pack over a great distance
  • The first time I’ll have seen a giant stone phallus*

It’s around 84 miles, through towns, country, woodland, fields, and bogs. It’ll be hard work, but worth it… I think.

I was the fat kid with asthma in school, I shied away from sports and didn’t even dream of doing anything like the Duke of Edinburgh. But now, at 30 years old, I’m pushing myself totally out of my comfort zone and feeling more content than ever before. Just look at what my body can do! These legs, these thunder thighs, are going to carry me across the entire country. I’ve already started planning our next adventures, and eventually I’d love to do something even further out of my comfort zone (Machu Picchu or Kilimanjaro), but for now, those 84 miles are what I’m aiming for.

So here’s to adventures, pushing your boundaries, and doing things that you never expected. Here’s to standing at the top of a muddy bank, crying that you won’t make it down, but having no choice but to do it, succeeding, then feeling all kinds of awesome.

*You should probably follow me on instagram to see the delights of my trip, stone phallus included.

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Why I won’t book a call to discuss your potential project…

why-i-wont-book-a-call-to-discuss

I don’t do calls.

Well, hardly ever. If I can avoid a call, I will.

Calls suck. They suck time, they suck because I work from home and get a billion deliveries a day, and they suck even harder when you ask for video on Skype (because I don’t feel the need to dress fancy for my colleagues, the dog and cats). But mainly it’s the time thing.

Don’t get me wrong, Skype has its uses, mainly in the text-chat capacity. And if we’re kicking off a project and you want to chat around some ideas, then I’m usually pretty happy to schedule call then, but otherwise? …

Let me break it down further…

  • Calls, of any kind, require scheduling. We have to block out time from both our schedules. While 10am on a Monday might be convenient to me, it might not be to you.
  • Calls over-run, we might have said ‘this is just a quick call’, but that soon turns in to 40 minutes!
  • We’ll spend at least 10 minutes going over niceties, getting our shit together, and saying goodbye. During those 10 minutes we both could’ve been doing something way more awesome.
  • Unless we’re taking endless notes (which prolongs the length of the call anyway), everything’s lost once it’s been said. The written word is so much better for referencing after the fact.
  • You might have an in-depth question about something relating to a bit of web development you need, things like that usually require a little research – totally not easy to do whilst on a call.

A call just pisses at least an hour of everyone’s time up the wall. And you know what’s worse? When we have to email to follow up after the call! Dude! That should’ve been the only bit of correspondence we needed.

So, if you try and schedule a call with me to discuss your potential project, I’m gonna be pointing you towards your email. If you insist that we chat, then I’ll have to charge you a consulting rate for the duration of the call. Time is valuable for both of us, and it’s totally not cost effective for me to dedicate an hours worth of time to a project that might not even make it to my table!

“But Kim!” I hear you exclaim, “How can we figure out if you can work on my project if we can’t talk on the phone?! How do I possibly know what to include in an email!”.

I’m glad you asked!

You see, I’ve been doing this making-websites-for-other-people thing for a few years now, and I know what questions to ask. Infact, I have a fabulous form that you fill in! Actually, I have two! I have one that I have you fill in to give me the low down on what you want me to do, and I have another for you to fill in when we kick off the project.

The answers on these forms give me all the information I need, and they even work in your favour — you get to sit down and really concentrate on what you need from the person you’re hiring, whether that ends up being me or someone else.

I know a lot of my peers will scoff at my not taking calls, bad client relationships they say, but honestly? It’s never been an issue in my business. I’ve conducted huge projects just via email and project management systems, and I’ve also been sat silent for 2 hours on group calls in big agencies (man, I do love billing for those two hours, though) when I could’ve been doing something way more productive.

If calls work for you and your business, and you’re 100% sure that there’s not a better way of communicating that’ll save both parties time, then great! Carry on! But me? I don’t do calls.

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5 Ways to beat creative block

5-ways-to-beat-creative-blockCreative block. Ah. It hits us all at one time or another. Usually when you least want it to, you know, in the middle of a massive project with an imminent deadline. Sometimes it can last only a couple of hours, other times you can go weeks without having a new idea. It. Sucks. 

I had a serious case of it earlier this year, after the rush of Christmas and the constant factory-style making of jewellery, I was worn out. Any thought of actually creating something new was met with a big, huge, sighing “Meh” from my brain.

I’ve been “making stuff” long enough to learn a few tricks for pulling myself out of this creative rut, though, and here’s what I do:

1/ Get messy

I work on the computer most of the time so it’s always refreshing to work with actual, tangible materials. Clay, watercolours, fabric, paper, it’s all good! This year I’ve been playing around with watercolours a lot more, which is one of the reasons I chose them for my #the100dayproject. Crack out those Conté Crayons that you bought back in art school, grab some paper, and get drawing. Not sure what to draw? read on…

mark-making

2/ Make marks

Mark making is a wonderful exercise for the exhausted creative brain. Grab your material of choice (paints, charcoal, pencil, micron) and make some marks. Make patterns. Doodle. Just get something down on paper. You can’t go wrong here, which is one of the biggest blocks of creativity (“But what if it looks shit?”), there’s no right or wrong, you’re just… making marks. No one expects you to make a masterpiece here, it’s all about freeing up your creative lockdown.

3/ Music

I always find that evocative music always gets the creative juices flowing. For me, that’s usually stuff about mountains, journeys, and fiction. Bands that I always turn to include Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Coheed and Cambria, and (more recently) Of Monsters and Men. But hey, even the Beach Boys with their immersive world of California could do it!

4/ Take a hike

I don’t mean just walk to the shops. I mean get out into nature, on a real hike (or nicely preserved public footpath), where there’s open sky, no distractions and a lot of time for thinking. If you can, try and leave your phone at home and take a notebook instead. Jot down any ideas that come to mind, and I mean anything. The fresh air, exercise and overall goodness of being outside is the best panacea for the stalled creative.

5/ Work through it

Still struggling? Work through it. You just have to keep making stuff. Even if it’s shit, you must carry on. For every 100 rubbish ideas and pieces of work, there’ll be one perfect rough diamond that just needs a little more attention. The most important thing you can do it to keep on making.

Extra ideas: dance break, read fiction, watch a classic film, do your taxes*, attend a conference or workshop, PINTEREST BINGE.

And don’t forget, when you’ve beaten the block then buy yourself a fucking donut – you’ve earned it!

*clinically proven to induce procrastinatory creative ideas 

Oh hey, you can keep up with my blog over on Bloglovin, that way you’ll never miss a post.

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#The100DayProject

100dayproject

A new challenge!

I came across #the100dayproject on Instagram this weekend, a little late to the game, and not much chance to prepare. It started yesterday so I’ve already missed a day, but I’m hoping to squeeze in two day’s worth of the project today.

So, what is it?

luna-100dayproject-pledge3

[image via #the100dayproject]

It’s that simple! Pick something fun to make, and do it every day for 100 days. At the end you should have a wonderful collection of work, some of it will rock, some of it will suck, but it’ll all be there.

I’m going to be breaking out the watercolours for this one, and doing a small watercolour painting of a plant every day for 100 days. Simplicity is key for me, I don’t have the time to dedicate hours a day to this project, but 10 minutes? No problem.

You can follow along with me over on Instagram where I’ll be using the hashtags #the100dayproject and #100daysofpaintedplants. I’ll hopefully have the first two up this evening!

Are you taking part? Let me know, I’d love to follow along!

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What I’m Reading: March 2015

whatimreadingmarch2015

Another good reading month! Here’s what I read with a succinct review/opinion on each:

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

I’ve mentioned before that Neil Gaiman is my all time favourite author. I love his short stories, children’s books, and grown-up novels alike. This latest short story collection doesn’t disappoint, there were some stories that were better than others, of course, but overall I found it a really great read.

My favourite stories from this anthology were: Black Dog (because, Shadow), The Return of the Thin White Duke, The Sleeper and the Spindle, and The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains.

Be aware that there are quite a lot of stories in the collection that have already been published in other short story anthologies, or on their own.

Buy it here

Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

Oh man. I’m so obsessed with Long Way Round and Long Way Down, the two motorbike adventures that Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman took in the early 2000s. I remember watching the series when they were first on TV and loving them, and since they appeared on Netflix I think I’ve watched each series at least 4 times. Obsessed.

I’d been meaning to pick up the books at some point, but they weren’t super-cheap on Amazon and, for 10ish year old books, I didn’t want pay a huge amount. However, we recently popped into the ever wonderful Barter Books (amazing, amazing place) and I found both the books.

I read the first one in March and thought it was great, lots of extra bits that didn’t feature in the TV series, and maps/kit lists that I also found interesting.

This is for you if you appreciate the need for adventure, you don’t mind a bit of “my rolex is too heavy” navel gazing, you’re interested in hearing about how cultures across the world are appreciated through the eyes of a Hollywood actor & his mate, and you have a passing appreciation for motorbikes. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me? Loved it.

Buy it here

The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman

This came up on a kindle daily deal a few months ago, and whilst not having a huge knowledge of Sarah Silverman, I’ve known about her since she Fucked Matt Damon and God, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised. An easy read, laugh out loud funny in places, kinda gross in others, but great for connecting more lines in the world of the SNL family.

Buy it here

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I got this on Audiobook because I really enjoyed listening to Tina Fey’s book, narrated by herself, and had similar hopes for this one from Amy Poehler. The audiobook features a bunch of guest voices, from Patrick Stewart to Kathleen Turner, which made it a really fun listen.

This read as more of a bunch of essays about Poehler’s life rather than an A-B. With chapters on her childhood, her days at SNL, and having her own kids, it painted a really nice picture of how hard she’s worked to get where she is.

I’d definitely recommend going for the audio version!

Buy it here on Audio, or here in text

Outlander #1 by Diana Gabaldon

You know I love a good trashy book, and mixed with history? fantasy/science fiction? Scotland? A muscley, hairy, ginger leading man? and a foul-mouthed leading lady? It’s almost as if Gabaldon was writing this in 1991 for future-me.

To be totally honest I only heard about the Outlander series recently, with the TV series coming to Amazon Prime. A few googles lead me to the book, which promised to be perfect for A Song of Ice and Fire (GoT) fans. After seeing Melanie had enjoyed the first book, I decided to give it a go.

It’s not a short book but the story moves along quite quickly (unlike GoT). There’s a lot of sex. Like, a LOT. But it doesn’t distract from the story, it’s not bodice-ripping orgies or anything, and it’s definitely not the main focus of the book. There’s a good amount of historical fact too, which as a history geek I found really interesting. It’s set around the Scottish Highlands, near where we stay when we go to Scotland, so being able to accurately picture the landscape was captivating (much like when I read Wuthering Heights).

I’ve read some reviews where people talk about certain aspects of abuse between Claire and Jamie, and while I understand their concerns, I think it’s very difficult to judge a historical situation with a modern yard stick. It’s certainly a tricky one, and it’s a subject often talked about on some of the history podcasts I listen to.

If you want to read a more in depth review of Outlander, then definitely head over to Melanie’s blog post about it!

Buy it here

Keep up to date with what I’m reading on Goodreads.

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