I’m not a particularly positive person, at least I haven’t been, but I’m trying. The problem I’ve always had with it is that everything is not OK. Japan is back into commercial whaling, politics seems to be stuck in Permanent Empire Strikes Back mode (but in a shit way) and Mother Earth’s going to hell in a hand basket because none of us want to deal with all the horror we’ve created. Plus historically I’ve felt pretty negative and lacked a bunch of confidence that’s meant I don’t always feel I’ve lived to my full potential.

I’ve never really believed in that old chestnut around thinking positively and then positive things happening as a result and that how you feel affects people’s perceptions of you; but I’m coming around to the idea.

Generally in life I let things get so bad I can barely function by the time I come to do something about them, but for the last year or two I’ve been making a concerted effort to change this and take back control. It is, of course, a work in progress but a lot has changed for the better. This is not an exercise in gloating, it’s simply me ackowledging that positive things can happen if you realise when things aren’t right and that it can be a slog to get what you want. I can’t promise you’ll get a whole lot from reading it though!

In the last 12 months I have:

  • Ditched my old job. it was damn tough finding a nice one and I got messed around a bit in the process (a couple of interviews wasted a lot of time, prep and taxi fares), but it certainly paid off in the end.
  • Decided to move – despite loving our house and making it our own, we made this very difficult decision as the neighbourhood is a backwater, and our neighbours are vile, noisy little-Englanders (I’m not being a snob, they’re a shower of knobs). We feel isolated and it’s certainly not very “us” here.
  • Got a new job which I’m really enjoying, have had lots of praise and since starting I’ve had my first payrise.
  • Become more confident – in the workplace at least. I’ve visited clients, helped organise workshops and delivered a talk (the sort of thing that previously struck great fear into me – it still does, but it’s getting better).
  • Saved some hens with my partner, who pay us back everyday through being awesome!
  • Spent as much time as possible with animals and birds – and not Elephants and Albatrosses, but pigeons and ducks and all of the other wonderful common breeds you get bored of if you don’t actually look and admire, as I didn’t until recently. Look again, they’re rad!
  • Finally bit the bullet and watched some slaughter house documentaries. Off the back of this I transitioned from Vegetarianism to Veganism to better suit my beliefs – it feels much better for me psychologically, though I now need to work on getting fitter!
  • Secured some design jobs on the side for practice and an extra bit of cash.
  • Got into the routine of not sitting on my laptop each night desperately trying to get stuff done but somehow never seeming to; and instead I’m feeding more creative stuff into my day job and learning to sense when to call it a day.
  • Tried to be more creative – I try to sketch and animate more, but (crucially) more casually. I write blogs just to write and I keep a diary. I find it really difficult to not feel guilty about how I spend my time. When I’m not being creative, I feel like I should be, and when I am, I feel like I need to create a masterpiece (but obviously never do). So I try to do bits here and there to lessen the guilt and to practice, but mainly in order to remember things need to be fun where they can be; otherwise what’s the point?
  • Had surgery on my nose, which I had to appeal to get on the NHS and I managed to get full funding. I was nervous. It’s still a bit bunged up and may never be 100% but I can now breathe through it, I get less dust colds from being unable to clear it and I sleep better which is a marked improvement!
  • Spoken to someone about how I feel. I’ve talked stuff through at length and though a work in progress, my soul feels less heavy.

Not everything is peachy of course, but by making things happen and being much busier, I’ve had several “corrective” experiences meaning if certain things go South the fresh experience is not immediately penciled under a litany of other failures; why? Because now not all of the experiences have been failures and I feel I can move on more quickly.

The advent of Henpunk

I don’t post too often about what it is I do for a job (I design), but I’ve always wanted to kick off some passion projects and use my skills as a creative (a label that sounds kinda wanky, but I like making stuff, so there!). One such passion project is “Henpunk” – so named for the way my girls look when it rains. The purpose of the website is to share my knowledge of keeping hens, trying to be more green and my various existential crisis’ often but not exclusively concerning climate change (“Oh goodie, take my b*stard money!” I hear you cry). Also, it’s about the enjoyment animals can bring you and why there’s a lot of joy to be had from not eating them (and I’m sure they’d thank you for it if they could). I ate meat for thirty plus years before I called it a day, so I’m not in much of a position to lecture, but I plan on having easy to filter content so you can read about hens and not necessarily be bored to death by Veganism or the like. Inevitably there’ll be a bit of crossover, so if you can’t stand hens, etc, then it may not be for you!

Dumpling and Speckles - ex battery hens
Dumpling and Speckles under the bamboo. By this time they had already started excavating the garden!

But I digress. One of the main things I want to achieve with Henpunk is artsy stuff, including animations to show the intricate lives of chickens and what interesting characters they are. Just check out The British Hen Welfare Trust and the Facebook groups Ex Battery Hens and Fresh Start for Hens if you don’t believe me! You can visit my website Henpunk here.

Frome and the future

After a tumultous few months it looks like we almost have our dream house in a town that’s much more “us”. The architecture’s lush, it’s cultural, they book decent bands, there are plenty of pubs, a leisure centre, writing and other groups, an independent cinema, Vegan cafes and plenty of green party supporters. And that’s just part of it. Of course nothing is perfect (-that’d be boring, right?) but we can see ourselves living there and making it home. Also, Frome means “Sparkling River” and not something to do with cheese (works nicely for me).