I've been working hard the last few months at overcoming my fears and following my dreams. So I'm running a series of interview with inspiring people to see what part fear has played in their life and how they've overcome it to live life their way...
Hey! Tell us a little about yourself.
Hey :) I’m Zoë and I blog over at Give an Earthly. I live on a narrowboat in North Wales with Father Earthly and our two baby Earthlies. Over 3 years ago we left a 3-bedroom cottage in Northumberland and our fixed jobs for a life on the road (in a home-built camper van!), filled with uncertainty and adventure. It was the best thing we ever did and though tons has changed for us along the way, we are happy to follow our noses and hearts and let them take us where they will :)
I’m an all-round creative type who has tried her hand at many things but hasn’t quite yet found what she wants to do when she grows up! I describe myself loosely as a designer because that’s what I keep coming back to - I’ve designed and created handfelted bags and copper and silver jewellery as well as websites and branding. Right now I am in love with designing my own clothes and am trying hard to find the time to create all the ideas I have in my head/on paper.
Alongside my design and crafts I have also run a Fairtrade Clothing and Accessories business for the last 4 1/2 years, Earthly Treasures (www.earthlytreasures.co.uk). We’ve gone from frequenting a freezing cold market stall in Northumberland with our wares, to doing a wide variety of fairs and festivals, to having our own little shop and successful online store. Sadly we’re now winding this side of the business down because we want to spend our precious time with our two wee babes and evaluate where we’d like to go next professionally. We have lots of ideas!
I also love to write. In fact, when I was younger it was pretty certain that I was going to be a writer. But after spending too much time in academia I became disillusioned with the written word and turned instead to the graphic arts. I’m glad that I’ve now come full circle and I think having kids has impelled me to write more than ever before!
Is the life you lead now the life you've always dreamt of?
In many ways the life I lead now is absolutely what I always dreamt of: I have the most wonderful, adoring and adorable husband and we live a quiet life doing just whatever takes our fancy, filling our days with fun and adventures, exploring a variety of avenues in terms of work and hobbies and all in all trying to get the best out of life according to our values.
At the same time, if you’d told me ten years ago that I’d end up marrying my best friend from 6th year / early uni days, having kids with him and living on a canal boat, I would have laughed you out of the country. The details of my dreams have changed quite a lot over the years but the essence has remained the same.
When you have faced difficulties, what has been your inspiration to keep going?
I have always struggled against depression and a great lack of self-confidence. My inspiration to fight these things have come from many sources throughout my life: teachers, friends and peers, my MSc supervisor, the most wonderful psychotherapist, my Dad, an introduction to Buddhism, yoga, art and a medley of inspiring authors (Hamsun, Nabokov, Kundera, Coelho to name a few).
Above all, my inspiration these days comes from my wonderful family and the deep-rooted belief that as long as I follow my natural instincts, things will fall into place, one way or another.
Fear affects us all at some point. What part has fear played in your life and how have you overcome it?
I believe there are different types of fear. In my life the two main types are fear of doing and fear of being. Throughout my life I have been totally evangelistic about the former whilst being utterly ostrich-like about the latter. I’ve never really had a problem doing something that I felt I really wanted to do - often it’s been really, really hard and I’ve not always achieved the desired end result but I’ve tried and that’s the important thing to me. People often say they admire me for being fearless in this way but really it’s something I feel driven to do - I see something I want to do, try or achieve and I think, well how can I get there? Where do I start?
My greatest fear is of myself, in a world of others. I often find it very difficult to integrate at the same time as standing up for myself. When someone knocks me, my values or something I’ve done it hits me really hard. What I’ve learned over the years is to avoid confrontation as much as possible as in my experience it never improves a situation, to remain diplomatic and polite and to quietly deal with my own anger/upset through other outlets - writing, art, yoga, or a good cry! There have been many, many dark times when I’ve wanted to give up, when I’ve found it all too hard, when I’ve been too scared to carry on, but the biggest thing that drives me onwards is a very deep-rooted belief that I can do great things, that I do have a valuable contribution to make, and that I can be really happy if I just allow myself.
What advice would you offer on following your heart and living your dreams?
Work out what things make you really tick and make you glow inside. At the same time it’s important to figure out exactly what does the opposite, as sometimes there can be a conflict - like if you love the idea of upping sticks and moving abroad but being so far away from your family/friends would make you miserable.
Don’t be scared to take risks that feel good, exciting and promising. And do those risks justice. I know people who have jumped at something and then almost instantly regretted it and given up because it hasn’t worked out as easily as they thought it would. Dreams very rarely just fall into place - like everything else you need to work at it and you must be prepared to make compromises just as you would in your current life. The difference is, though, that those compromises aren’t so tough because they are allowing you to ultimately follow the life you really want!
Open yourself to possibilities. As a society we are awful for closing ourselves off to things, in an attempt to save ourselves from failure/disappointment. But simply by being more open and allowing yourself to wander along paths you’d normally avoid, you’re far more likely to stumble across what you really need/want.
What do you think are the three most important things you need to lead a happy and radiant life?
Be true to yourself - this means listening to yourself openly and honestly too. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking we “need” or “want” things simply because we feel we should (even if we don’t realise it!).
Realise that everyone else has hard times too, and that you are not, NOT the only one with fears, difficulties, hardships etc etc - and so you can make your life great, just like the people you most admire.
Stay on the positive side as much as you can. Negativity breeds negativity and discontent - which clearly doesn’t make for happiness or radiance. It’s a cliché but when things are tough you really are best to count your blessings, for those are the riches of your world.