Peg and Carls first gig square

How to do Something Scary Without Totally Freaking Out About it

Peg and Carls first gig squareI’ve battled with painful anxiety for a couple of years now, but thanks to the support of some amazing friends (and Carl on guitar) I faced my fear and sang three songs at the local pub last weekend.

In response to some challenging life events I completely lost all of my confidence a few years ago. I was once a singer in a band and a performance poet, but all that became hazy history as I became committed to the belief that I wasn’t really worthwhile or even worth knowing.

Some tiny part of me wanted to fight against that belief, and I did so with prescribed medication, counselling and two different self esteem courses. I also had amazing support from friends and family. Lately I started to wish that I could rediscover that creative, performing side of my personality that I had lost somewhere along the way. I often go to my local open mic night and wish that it was me up there on the stage singing, but I also knew that it would scare the hell out of me. So how did I end up doing it, without totally freaking out?

  1. Good friends. Every time I doubted myself some really good friends would reassure me. Every time I worried too much I called someone and they put me back in touch with reality.
  2. Self hypnosis and meditation. I try to do one or the other every day, to calm the f**k down and reboot my confidence.
  3. Practice. If you’re going to do something that scares the hell out of you make sure you rehearse it first. If it’s not something you can practice at home try a mental rehearsal instead. Top athletes often use visualisation to practice achieving their goals. A mental rehearsal results in a better performance because the subconscious mind doesn’t differentiate between reality and an imagined scenario. (Think how your heart can race and the adrenalin gets going if you imagine something going horribly wrong – now turn that around and imagine it all going right!)
  4. Motivation. Remember the reasons why you are doing this. For me it was that I wanted to reconnect to the person that I used to be.

When I arrived at the pub it was so much busier than I imagined. I immediately thought, “I can’t do this!” – and considered walking out. As it was open mic night we had to put our names down and wait to be called. I waited for more than two hours with a nervous stomach ache. My supportive friends told me it was going to be OK.

When I finally got on the stage I was shaking with nerves, but I discovered that if I stared into the bright colourful lights I could avoid looking directly at the faces of the audience. During the first song I was excruciatingly nervous and shaky, but on the second song I got better. By the third song the audience was singing along!

After I came off stage is when I felt the rewards of what I had done. I felt so relieved that I had faced my fear and achieved something I’d been thinking about for such a long time. I shared my success on Facebook and out of many supportive comments this was one of my favourites, “Rock on sugar… Remember, when you feel fear creeping up inside…It’s really bravery bursting it’s way out.”

What would you do if you could turn your fear into bravery? Leave me a comment below.

PSClick here to listen to one of my songs in your own home – Cardigan; a quirky, folky, pop song about the meaning of life.

 

How to Become a #Writer Even if you Can’t be Bothered to Write

At the end of the twentieth century I was a performance poet – known as Agent Peggy Pegworth. This meant that I spent much of my time drinking wine and gigging in function rooms above pubs all over London. I met lots of great poets and even formed a sort of ‘poet band’ called The Radge Poets. If you don’t have time to write, then poetry could be the solution you are looking for. One of my favourite performance poets on the ‘scene’ back then was Paul Birtill:

“A kind of anti-Laureate who makes Philip Larkin sound life affirmingRobert Lloyd Parry, Ham & High

Paul describes perfectly the benefits of becoming a poet in this poem:

Work-Shy Writer

You get lazy people
in any field, I write poems
instead of novels. You start
at nine and finish at half
past and have the rest of
the day to yourself. Money’s
crap though.

Paul Birtill, 1998
Terrifying Ordeal: Poems

The crap salary did not deter Paul, who writes plays as well as verse and has had several poetry collections published.

However, I eventually retired from performance poetry due to recurring bouts of stage fright and a lack of dependable income. (I became a hypnotherapist instead.)

If you’ve ever found yourself saying “I don’t have time to write!” then poetry could be for you. It doesn’t have to take up much of your time. Radge Poet Ian Allsopp once wrote this little gem:

Do One Word Poems Work?

Yes.

I’ve made a short film of me performing one of my old poems to show you how easy it can be. (If you don’t have time to make  video of your poem did you know you can create an audio download instead, in just 60 minutes?)

A poet finds delight

In the empty sky at night

The stars don’t shine they glitter

The birds don’t sing they twitter

 

The sun don’t beam it radiates

The rain don’t rain it contemplates

The worms that wriggle

When bluebells giggle

And rinses out our yesterdays

To make room for tomorrow

 

The city’s a hive of activity

Of multicultural intensity

And humans contain astounding extremes

Of venomous lies and heavenly dreams

 

These are fractions of fiction and things still unwritten

And writings a bug that has to be bitten

If you can never completely describe it, you know it

You know you are thinking a bit like a poet!

 

Now it’s your turn. Can you write a really tiny poem, right now? Leave me a comment below.

Truth about hypnosis

The Shocking Truth About Hypnosis

Truth about hypnosisHypnosis has got a bit of a reputation for being a powerful mind control thing. TV and films would have us believe that if you would just look into my eyes then I’d have you acting stupid on a stage, with everyone laughing at you, or that I’d be able to persuade you to rob a bank, or do something else that’s illegal.

But the shocking truth about hypnosis is that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis – and nobody else can control your mind without you saying so.

Hypnosis is actually communication between the conscious and subconscious mind. It’s a relaxed state of mind that you can put yourself into; or, somebody else can help you to relax deeply, (like a hypnotherapist.)

Hypnotic suggestions are just words chosen carefully so that they appeal to the subconscious mind.

Hypnosis is actually a naturally occurring state of mind, which means that you are already familiar with hypnosis. It’s a bit like those moments when you’re just day dreaming or staring into space. But you cannot be hypnotised if you don’t want to be.

When I was working as a hypnotherapist people would chat to me in the pub sometimes and say,

“Oh, you’re a hypnotherapist! I bet you couldn’t hypnotise me! I bet you couldn’t make ME give up smoking!” And I would say,

“No I couldn’t, not if you don’t want me to. And I can’t put you into hypnosis if you don’t want to go into hypnosis. Because all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.”

When you’re in hypnosis:

  • You still have control
  • You can speak if you want to
  • And you can hear what’s going on around you

So the shocking truth about hypnosis is;

You cannot be hypnotised if you don’t want to be.

And

All hypnosis is self-hypnosis.

But if you don’t know how to hypnotise yourself, or what to do with yourself once you’re there in hypnosis then it’s nice to get a hypnosis download to help you along.

If you want to hear a little sample of me doing a bit of hypnosis then check out this short sample of my hypnosis download Massage for Your Mind. It’s a 20 minute relaxation recording that promotes more mental calmness, confidence and better quality sleep.

And who doesn’t want a bit of that?

Click here to listen now.

3 Easy Ways to Record Audio-files, Voice-overs and Podcasts

Tascam 16Track recorder by IainF Creative Commons
Things have changed since this Tascam 16Track!

If you are a coach, healer, therapist, poet or online-teacher, have you considered generating passive income while you sleep, by selling your sound recordings? With the sound recording options available online right now, it’s way easier than you might think to get started. Here are three of the easiest, low-cost ways to record audio content, voice-overs and podcasts for your business.

1) Audacity

Audacity is free software that allows you to record and edit music or a voice track, and is available for Windows and Apple Macintosh. It’s popular, trusted, easy to learn and perfect for voice recordings and podcasts. You can also record musical instruments or import ready-recorded music. You can edit your recordings and add many special effects, including fading in and out. (You can learn the basics of Audacity in my e-course Monetise Your MP3s.)

2) GarageBand

GarageBand is low-cost recording software that allows users to create music, podcasts and other recordings. It’s developed and sold by Apple, so it’s not available for Windows. It includes a variety of pre-made musical loops and a selection of virtual instrument sounds, which means you can create your own music within the program. As well as being available for your computer or other iOS device, there is even an iPhone app version, which means you can record and compose music on your smartphone! It doesn’t seem so long ago that I worked in a recording studio when music was recorded on a multi-track tape machine, (larger than a laundry washing machine!) on a magnetic tape that was 2 inches wide. So it’s just incredible now that you can create music on something which you keep in your pocket!

3) Your Smartphone

The sound recording quality of a modern smart phone is now surprisingly good, and most have the facility to record a voice memo. If you choose a quiet place to record you can achieve a recording of fairly reasonable quality and get it up on the internet, quickly, with no fuss and no fancy equipment. If you’ve been putting off sound recording because of a lack of time, or knowledge, this is the perfect way to get started.

Join my 60 Minute Challenge!

There are people out there, just waiting to hear the unique audio content that only you can create. I challenge you to start small and simple, and get a recording out onto the internet in less than an hour with my free video class: Create an Audio Download in 60 Minutes! What would you like to record? An interview, meditation, poem, tutorial, mini podcast or something else? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you’d give your audience, if limited time and lack of equipment were no longer a problem.

Just be Where You Are

Stop #Anxiety Now! 3 Ideas That Really Work

When is a podcast not a podcast? When it’s a Peg-cast! This week I’ve been playing around with GarageBand for iPhone and created a mini podcast of less than five minutes. It’s basically the audio version of my article 3 Ways to Stop Anxiety Today, so if you prefer listening to reading, then this one’s for you!

You can find out about using hypnosis to reduce anxiety here: Massage for Your Mind and you can create your own audio download in 60 minutes or less with my free video class.

Listen now:

WitchCrafter in circle

Cartoon Commission: The WitchCrafter

WitchCrafter in circleMy latest cartoons seem to have a magical theme given that the last one I did was a Diesel Wizard and this one is a witch! Narrowboater Ronni Payne provides bespoke decorative ropework to meet your needs, from bell ropes to belts, tiller tassels to curtain tie backs. In fact, if it’s made of rope, she can make it!

If you don’t live aboard (like Ronni does) you can still add a nautical feel to your home with stylish light pulls, curtain tie backs and more. She spends her days cruising the British canals and rivers as a roving canal trader, making and selling her creations. She also sells her wares at festivals around the country as well as online at The WitchCrafter Shop.

Ronni wanted a headshot cartoon to use on Facebook. I drew a couple of preliminary sketches, and when she’d chosen her favourite I tidied it up and added some colour.

Contact me for bespoke logos and artwork, such as wedding invitations, birthday gifts, and cartoons of your friends and family. Or check out the cartoons on my postcards, greeting cards, mugs and gifts in my School of Special Sauce art gallery.

Fear is a choice Social Media

3 Ways to Stop Anxiety Today

Fear is a choice Social MediaI’ve really struggled with anxiety over the last couple of years, mostly as a response to various life events. Sometimes it gets really frustrating as I get caught up in over-thinking about what could be causing it and what I could do about it. Here are three methods that have helped me to stop anxiety in the moment, before it has the chance to ruin the rest of my day!

1) Phone a Friend

It’s sometimes the last thing that you want to do when you’re in a spiral of self-destructive over-thinking. After all you don’t want to ruin somebody else’s mood too! However, a problem shared can often mean a problem halved – even if your problem is simply anxiety without an apparent cause. As soon as you begin to speak aloud to another human being about it, it tends to stop your mind running away with itself. Open your telephone conversation with first asking how your friend is, and they will appreciate the call!

2) Try Mindfulness

The only thing I really know about mindfulness is that it’s about concentrating on the present moment instead of imagining the future, or dwelling on the past. I have a post-it note above my desk that says, “Just be where you are” and that helps. The other thing I like to do is listen to Eckhart Tolle talk about The Power of Now. I sometimes listen to his audio book and sometimes I watch him speaking on YouTube. His message is, “You cannot be both unhappy and fully present in the Now.”

3) Listen to an Audio Download

I was fascinated with hypnosis from a young age, and went on to become a hypnotherapist practicing in London, for several years. When I first began studying it I was surprised to learn that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis; it’s simply a relaxed state of mind that you put yourself in. That said, if you’ve never learned how to hypnotise yourself the easiest shortcut is to let a hypnosis download do it for you, and guide you into relaxation. It’s very hard to continue worrying when you’re listening to a calming voice with relaxing music. I like to listen to a 20 minute download that I made myself called Massage for Your Mind. You can listen to a bit of it here:

If you listen repeatedly to a hypnosis download you may find you are noticeably more relaxed about life in general and feel like a great weight has lifted from your shoulders. I’d love to know what strategies have worked for you, when you want to feel more mentally calm? Let me know by leaving me a comment.

Find out more about increasing your inner peace and sense of confidence here: Massage for Your Mind.

PS. Create your own audio download in 60 minutes or less with my free video class.

#3000Chairs

#3000Chairs for the Unaccompanied Syrian Children

#3000ChairsThis cartoon is my contribution to #3000Chairs. Last week The Guardian published Nicola Davies’s poem The Day The War Came which drew attention to the 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian children to whom the UK government decided not to give a safe haven. Davis called on everyone who was outraged at this to paint/draw/sketch an empty chair and share it on Twitter with #3000chairs. Images have been pouring in from illustrators, authors and children. Join in by sharing yours too. You don’t have to be an artist. Check out some of the other chairs, there are some beautiful, poignant images.

www.dieselwizard.uk

New Cartoon Commission: The Diesel Wizard!

Narrowboat cartoon commission
www.dieselwizard.uk

So, here’s my latest cartoon commission. Jeanette Freynet is a web designer and a narrowboating friend of mine, and she has been working on a new website for a marine engineer, known as The Diesel Wizard. Mark Stevenson-Wood operates along the Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Trent and Mersey and Staffordshire and Worcester canals, he has 35 years engineering experience, lives aboard and likes purple.

 

I love drawing cartoons because it’s quick, easy and fun. I’ve done it since I was at school, where I did cartoons of my friends. I tried doing watercolour classes recently, and got good feedback about my paintings, but I just don’t seem to have the patience to work for so long on one picture. It reminds me of Paul Birtill’s poem about being a poet. I think I must be a work-shy artist!

Work-Shy Writer

You get lazy people
in any field, I write poems
instead of novels. You start
at nine and finish at half
past and have the rest of
the day to yourself. Money’s
crap though.

Paul Birtill, 1998
Terrifying Ordeal: Poems

Contact me for bespoke logos and artwork, such as wedding invitations, birthday gifts, and cartoons of your friends and family. Or check out the cartoons on my postcards, greeting cards, mugs and gifts in my School of Special Sauce art gallery.

Cardigan

How to Make a Music Video – without Filming Anything

So, I recently released my first single on iTunes, a song called Cardigan and I decided to promote it with a video. But who has the time or the money to create a music video?

Smilebox is an easy way to make a slideshow and add music. There is a free version but I paid for monthly membership at £5.99 so that I could add my own music. However, there is also  a library of music included within Smilebox if you just want to make a slideshow. The Smilebox version of my video is here: Cardigan, but I then made a screen-capture version with Camtasia so that I could host it on my YouTube channel.

So, that’s how to easily make a music video on a budget, without filming anything.

Check out my three minute video now, and then leave me a comment below; to tell me where do YOU think you’re going? …And what’s it all about?