Paving The Way For Support

Recently, I was a guest at Leeds Drawing Club for their last ‘Creative Social’ of 2018 as a speaker discussing all things Keep Real. It was absolutely wonderful to get involved with the folk who attended, and share my story on why Keep Real exists, and what we are currently doing to support more people in the community when it comes to mental health.

It’s always great to open out to a Q&A towards the end, and receive feedback on how we can create more interventions about mental health. One guest asked if I thought Keep Real’s way of business could be the future for mental health support. What a wonderful idea! We have some great events coming up, you can take a look here

In light of it being World Mental Health Day, I wanted to reveal some of my recent favourites when it comes to self care. Here’s my Top 3, which I hope you can take away with you and share.

  • Fiona Thomas: As well as being a mental health writer and author, Fiona utilises her creative talent into developing supportive materials such as the You Got This Zine duo. The ‘You Got This: A Motivational Zine’ is aimed at folk who struggle with depression, and shares her story, as well as others about how to get stuff done through the hard times. She explains what ‘being kind to yourself’ really means and opens up the conversation with Jana Dowling, Rachael Watson and Amy Holland. There’s also the ‘You Got This: A Feel-Good Zine’ where Fiona open up her soul and shares her thoughts on anxiety, feeling ‘meh’ and how creativity can support your wellbeing. The work she has produced hits every note and candidly discusses dealing with mental health issues, and the day to day struggles we all feel.

I feel like more zines and sweet materials like this can just break it down in your own home. It doesn’t feel clinical, it shares the struggles we can all relate to and it embodies the small things we forget. Like how sometimes we don’t want to shower or clean or take care of our selves. We sometimes lose that, and the work by Fiona Thomas ties up all those loose strings we feel we can’t hold onto, and ties it all nicely into these pages. I’m so excited for her book launch ‘Depression in a Digital Age’ (Pre-order here!)

  • Podcasts. Oh man. So I was a podcast hype for a while this time last year, but I lost myself within them and couldn’t find the right fit. When it comes to hearing people talking for a long time, some didn’t appeal to my tiny ears as much as I’d have liked. However, some of my favourites are the pivotal Russell Brand ‘Under The Skin’– there’s a great episode called ‘Mental Health Crisis: Is Community The Answer?’ (Listen here). I go into podcasts with an open mind and I also LOVE ‘Made of Human with Sofie Hagen‘. She covers a range of topics, discussing this with amazing people from comedians, journalists to bloggers. It’s one of my favourites this year because it collates so many wonderful topics all in one, not just mental health but feminism, how to adult, LGBTQ issues, #MeToo and more.
  • Home is Where The Heart Is. Since moving back home in June this year, I found myself twisting into old ways from when I used to visit home during my University years. That means leaving clothes everywhere, leaving mess everywhere, cups EVERYWHERE (gal loves a brew) and all the things in-between not pitching in. But lately after leaving my job, I’ve been learning to respect my surroundings more. I’m not perfect, but I know why I get so distracted and leave things everywhere. It’s an extension of myself. My bedroom is my happy calm place. It’s small, but it brings in a lot of light, is fresh with plants (and copious amounts of books) and I feel like I can relax there. When my space is messy, I feel messy, unproductive and no schedule. So with World Mental Health Day, take a look at your room/house/flat and see if keeping it tidy/clean supports you.
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Experiences of a Social Entrepreneur: Part Two

If you haven’t seen Part One of this three part blog post- please see it here! I first discussed knowing your market, dealing with difficult situations and a small summary of starting out. This part is asking questions like, ‘What is a social enterprise?’ and ‘Tips from Important Mistakes’.

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So What Is A ‘Social Enterprise’?

A lot of folk will not know what a social enterprise is, so here it is simply; a business with a social purpose. Keep Real is a social enterprise as it uses the profits from the goods sold to fund mental health workshops in Yorkshire. Profit isn’t simply for profit, it is aiming to have a purpose within the community. Really cool, huh?

Business doesn’t have to be a ‘social enterprise’ to have an impact, it can be full blown CIC (Community Interest Company), registered charity, a Limited Company, a Corporation…the list goes on. The WHY of your business should be part of that evaluation. I first wanted Keep Real to be a CIC, but the brand is still figuring out it’s territory for now- after all, Keep Real hasn’t even been a year into launch! I have to think about the long term future for me as a person- and more than anything would I love to do my business full time and make a living. If I can support the community and also pay my bills- that ticks ‘the dream’ off my bucket list.

Tips From My (Important) Mistakes

If you’re not making mistakes along the way, it’s either a miracle or you’re bad at being an entrepreneur. Without mistakes…how will you learn? How will you grow?

  • Don’t Run Before You Can Walk – When I first started out, I was looking for that ‘quick fix’ of business that I’m sure when you’re an eager beaver like I was (and still am) about your idea- then you’ll jump a lot of checkpoints to get to the final product. I’ve learned that patience and taking risks go hand in hand. Even if that’s as simple as choosing to paying extra for a small part of your packaging because it’s sustainably sourced although longer for delivery, compared a company that will do it cheaper and faster for you. Quicker never means better. Make sure you cover all options before making your move. A mistake I made when being a naive start up- was selecting a supplier who would do the job quicker and because my budget was low, it was all I could afford. I’m glad I made the t-shirt I did, as it’s a foundation for growth. I now know what suppliers I choose, and how good the quality it is. Read How To Start A Creative Business for a jargon free insight.
  • Your Hobby is a BUSINESS…Don’t Forget About You!! – I’ve read a lot of books regarding creative entrepreneurs, and I can say for myself that I still struggle with this one. Hey, I know. I know. When you’ve got a wonderful idea, it’s a hobby. You love doing it, you love doing it so much you don’t care about the money. My business advisor even told me once…‘Kim… have you thought about the money side of things?’ which is just something as a social entrepreneur I didn’t think about at all. I cared about the change it would made, not necessarily the profit margins. Don’t forget where you fit into the business. 20180319164711_IMG_0951-02
  • Don’t Underestimate Yourself – Confidence is something that comes with time. Did I think I’d be public speaking, having meetings and going to conferences 3 or 4 years ago? Did I hell! As some of you know my story, I suffered with anxiety during my college and some of my university years. Underestimating yourself, means you’re underestimating your business. It’s a lot on your shoulders, but the business depends on you. Because the business is youI didn’t take a lot of opportunities because I didn’t believe in myself. There’s that conflict of wanting to make your business work- but there’s only so much talking you can do. You need to DO something. That requires a leap of faith, which you need to be willing to take. Don’t underestimate your abilities.
  • Learn To Say ‘No’ – Oh man, this oneeeee! Ok, so I’ve said yes to a lot of things because I was afraid of saying no- and definitely payed for it in the end…literally. I gave a lot of products away for free and not really seeing the downside to it…until I realised I was minus money and no way of funding the next idea. It’s ok to say no to opportunities that don’t sit well with you, or compromise yourself as a person. I nearly took a commission from a record store in the UK that wanted bright colour cartoon drawings because it paid well. But I said no because it just wasn’t right for me. You’ll soon realise what you hold dear and what your values are once you have a sweet biz-baby to take care of. Learn to take a step back and realise who you are and what you value the most.

Have you made any important mistakes if you are freelance, starting a business or setting up a creative side hustle?

 

 

10 Ways Back To The Light

Hey folks, I wanted to share with you an article I found on Psychologies by Jamie Rhodes author of ‘Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication and Music’ (purchase here)4e39e58e38bdf17dbffc00a175afaa34, and Matt Haig, author of ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ (purchase here) about the top ten strategies that helped them through the more difficult times. These are wonderful, and I hope they help you too! (read it down below, or in the original article here) ❤

10 Ways Back To The Light

James Rhodes says:

Breathe – 10 minutes of meditation a day works wonderrs.

Make a cuppa “I’d somehow got enough clarity and self-awareness to know that I was able now to do all I could to get well… It was terrifying and exciting all at once. Time maybe to have a cup of tea and listen to Chopin’s greatest nocturne – the one in C minor Op. 48/1.

Talk to anyone friendly. “I like talking to strangers. I read a book about depression once where the protagonist was so lonely she used to join queues simply for the human interaction. And while things weren’t quite that bad yet, I did at times strike up conversations with people.

Do something creative (piano/writing for me, but there is an almost infinite choice for everyone) “Forgiveness and meditation, reading and writing, talking and sharing all help, creativity is, for me, one of the most profound ways through trauma.”

Find some perspective. Remember you’re a microscopic dot hurtling around the universe on a tiny planet in the middle of an unfathomable amount of space.

Matt Haig says:

Slow down. “Anxiety runs your mind at fastforward rather than normal ‘play’ speed, so addressing that issue of mental ‘pace’ might not be easy. But it works.”

Go for a run and then do yoga (the golden bullet for my anxiety) “I was a yogaphobe, but am now a convert. It’s great, because unlike other therapies, it treats the mind and the body as part of the same whole.”

Get off the internet. “I might – if I am going through a neurotic patch – do a quick ego search, or check out any new Goodreads or Amazon reviews of my books or go on Google and type in a list of real or imaginary ailments to see which terminal disease I am currently suffering from.

Talk to people you love. “Words. Comfort. Support. It took me more than a decade to be able to talk openly, properly, to everyone, about my experience. I soon discovered the act of talking is in itself a therapy. Where talk exists, so does hope.

Stare at the sky. “Look at the sky. Remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek vastness at every opportunity, in order to see the smallness of yourself.”

My Top 5: Ways of Coping with the Bad Days

Now, a lot of people have a wonderful variety of coping strategies with the days that are just that little bit harder to get through. When I did some research for my degree- there’s a lot of different healthy ways we find that suits us due to our personality traits and personal preferences. For example, folk who are naturally creative love to use art in different mediums to feel better and in others they use music, physical exercise or experiencing the outdoors. Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 14.31.50

As long as your coping strategy is not harmful to you or others, and you can feel better by exploring your coping strategies in a safe and healthy way- then there is no wrong way of doing it. You’re doing what is best for you my lovely!  Mind have a wonderful section on their site about self-care which I extremely recommend on checking out.

Here are my personal Top 5 that I feel help me the most, and perhaps they can help you too! Be gentle with yourself ❤

  1. Ecotherapy – otherwise known as the great green outdoors. Spending time away from distractions, the city life or just by getting out of the house into a natural environment can be so helpful. It is quite a mindful experience, and for me it clears my head. I’m very thankful to live in Yorkshire, and living right next to the woods. Find your place and go there as often as you can. Be one with nature and enjoy it.
  2. Reading – now this doesn’t have to be books on self-help or mindfulness, but a genre or type of book you really enjoy. Love a bit of adventure? Get your Tolkien game on! Like a bit of a classic? Flick through a good Jane Austen! Whatever floats your boat, give it a read. But I will say, be gentle with yourself. You’re doing this for you, remember! Some books with graphic content may be triggering to your wellbeing. My favourite book for the past year has been ‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith. As a naturally creative person, and I feel I’m having a block/ bad day- I read her book and her prose.
  3. Playing an instrument – I know some folk don’t have musical instruments, but this is one of my personal favourites. I was fortunate enough to be given a classical guitar by my Mum’s friends years and yeaaarrss ago that I still have. You somehow get lost in it, and its just the combination of making sound and feeling the movements. If you don’t have access to anything like that, my next coping strategy is…
  4. Listening to music – Boy can music change your soul. Whatever clicks with you and makes you feel good give it a listen. Pop your headphones on, lay back and shut off the world. You can listen to your favourites/most played or go for super funny songs like ‘I’ve Got A Pocket Full of Sunshine’ by Natasha Bedingfield or the Flashdance Soundtrack (soooooo groovy)
  5. Art- This encompasses everything to scribbles, writing, doodles and full blown commissions for me. It gets me in a nice groove that I can focus on. Controlling the way the pencil moves, or shading in something can be a very mindful experience. Allowing yourself to get lost in it, and only think of what you are creating really helps me get in a good headspace. Also, I write a hell of a lot  when I feel down. I’ve kept a diary for years that I always tend to look back on. Sometimes I don’t know how I feel, so I write whatever is going on in my lil brain down. It’s very cathartic, even if its just in bullet points of things that are bothering me. It also allows me to check in with myself and see what’s affecting me, or what I could highlight as something that needs to change.

 

I hope my Top 5 may help, or perhaps gently give you the smallest ideas of ways to cope. From knitting to running or reading and playing monopoly, there’s so many healthy ways of coping with the bad days.

You are not alone. You are here, and you are enough.

Dear, You.

You have such a beautiful story ahead of you. There is so much more to experience and love. Treat yourself kindly, and the world will bring love to you in abundance. I want it to shower over you like all the stars around our planet swirls throughout your body and into your very soul- because feeling good and beautiful within is something you truly deserve. Whether it be you, me, the people you love, the people you dislike, the folk you see in the street or on the tv, we all live most of our lives inside our own heads. We can become our own foes, and struggle with our thoughts in such despair, that we can see nothing but the world shrinking away.

Let’s make sure that our minds are nice places to be.

We weren’t born with a purpose of causing trouble, disliking ourselves and limiting our own potential. We are wondrous beings made of millions of stars, particles, of blood and bone. We all have dark and light within us, it is how we deal with our experiences that define us and how we see the world around us. We gotta allow ourselves to feel everything we feel; whether it be sadness, happiness, love, guilt, fear or anger. Harness your power within to manipulate how you experience it. You have the power within you to create such a beautiful life. A beautiful story. What we think, how we react- is what we ultimately become. Your discontent and frustrations are entirely your own creations. We all harness our thoughts in such ways, that they can either become exceedingly good, or downright bad. What a power you hold!! That if you can believe, and be kind to yourself- that your world will evolve into such a wonderful thing. That is the true beauty within us.

You have the power inside yourself, despite your experiences or background, to make your world a joyful and irrevocably happy one. That despite your tribulations, you are the ruler of your own kingdom. Cherish that. Feel that. Make the world inside you bursting with love and joy, that the world around you reflects that.

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Free Apps For Controlling Your Social Media Use

I love my phone and the possession of information at my finger tips. Don’t we allllll! I hear you say. Well, I think it’s about time I started truly seeing what I was using my phone for, and if I really am using it in a healthy way. I did a little experiment this week, and came across some of the best free apps in controlling your social media usage. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you’re on your phone after these! I feel so much better using these apps for my advantage. Check these two out to give a go. Be kind to yourselves folks ❤img_20160207_120520.jpg

Quality Time – This app helps you discover your habits on your phone, how long you spend screen time per day, as well as how many times you unlock your phone too. I gotta say this is incredibly useful. One day, I had over 153 screen unlocks. That’s a scary amount! Throughout the day, I thought I’d done pretty well, considering I was busy all day. However, I noticed that because my phone is on silent, I tend to check my phone a fair bit. See for yourself folks, realising how much time you spend checking- is taking away time for more cool stuff!!

Forest (Free here on Android) – This is actual so soooo cool. Forest is an app for staying focused and present. The more time you spend off your phone, the more your virtual forest grows! Whenever you want to concentrate, you can plant a seed in Forest. In the next 30 minutes, this small seed will gradually grow into a big tree. However, if you cannot resist the temptation and leave this app to check Facebook or play a game, your little cute tree will wither away. And nobody wants a dying forest! I love it. Give it a go, and test your smartphone resistance!

Keeping’ Up With Kimberley – Progress and Procrastination

Hey you wonderful soul, how are you today? Thought I’d do a little personal post about what I’m up to. What a ramble I have for you!

I woke up early for a driving lesson, and started my day plotting and scheming for my business. I feel like I keep talking about my brand Keep Real far too much for my good- but I don’t necessarily share that much about it. I talk about it too much in my own little head, and realise that I’m not being productive!

After two years of saving up while at University, I finally purchased a MacBook Pro for my work yesterday. TheApple-logo-grey-880x625 software wasn’t up to scratch on my old laptop, and for the work/business I will be doing, it was time for an upgrade. It feels so good to spend my money on
something as wonderful as this (yes, I’m typing away on it as you read!). After all the hard work on my two part time jobs while studying for my degree, paying bills, paying rent etc- I saved up small amounts throughout the year. After something like this, it puts into perspective where your hard earned pennies go. Who needs clothes, make up or more pairs of Vans? Not me!

Now I have the right kit to work on, I finally feel like I can be more efficient with my time, and to get my head together. Since Christmas, it’s been quite a struggle for me to get going with Keep Real. So purchasing this, has put me into gear.

I’m still working on my  presentation for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, which is next Monday! Exciting stuff!! I also sent my final design to Heads Above The Waves for the Keep Real Collaboration. Also extremely exciting stuff!

I’ve also been reading an incredibly motivating book which I’m sure quite a few people have heard of, called ‘#GIRLBOSS’ by Sophia Amoruso  which has really helped me to take control of my negative thoughts about setting up my business. I cannot sing enough praises about this book. Thank you Sophia. Man. With the right determination, things will work out. Leave the negative folk behind, and the people that don’t push you to be the best version of yourself. Work hard, play hard. Focussing too much, can sometimes lead to a blurry goal. I just gotta keep at it, and not expect so much of myself all the time. A downfall I have to work on!

Anyway folks, thanks for reading my morning ramble. I hope you enjoy the day ahead!! Kill it! Own it! Rock it! And of course, keep it real!

Much love y’all xxxx

 

 

Keepin’ Up With Kimberley #8

Hello my lovelies! Man, this week has been rad so far! I’ve been having such a wonderful time and there’s so much to be getting on with. Here’s what I’m excited about lately and some updates on my adventures.

I got a beautiful little email this afternoon from Rethink Mental Illnesscropped-wpid-img_20150525_132636.jpg, saying that they are going to publish my post sometime next week! I’ll keep you informed when it is up on their page so you can check it out! It’s all about my experiences with anxiety and how it is possible to come out of the other side. It is possible to break through those barriers you feel you have ❤ I thought to share my experience so it could hopefully help some folk. Plus, I’m training for my fundraising with Rethink- so I’ll be posting up a JustGiving page real soon!

Plus some exciting news concerning my garment and goods brand Keep Real (follow on Twitter and Facebook). Designs are being finalised and selected for the brand new collection. I am so excited about these dotwork illustrations!! I able to tell you that the new collection will be called ‘Brotherhood/Sisterhood’.cropped-wpid-img_20150608_1012111.jpg It’s all about feeling real good, doing good and celebrating the bond we all have with each other. We all stand together. We shouldn’t be tearing our friends down or making other people feel bad because they are on different paths- we should be supporting each other and pushing ourselves and everyone around us to be the best they can be. We are part of a brother/sisterhood and collectively, we all have the ability to stay true to ourselves and be humble in our walks of life. We gotta keep real. 

I will keep you all up to date with my ‘Keepin’ Up With Kimberley’ posts- so have those lovely eyes peeled in your inboxes or wordpress readers!

P.s it would be awesome if you could fill this quick poll in for my blog ❤ Sending you all the love and posi vibes!

 

Mental Wellness Essentials #2

Hello you! I hope the week so far has been good to you! It’s the middle of the week (or there abouts!), so here’s some mental wellness essentials to get you through ❤

Sometimes the beginning of the week can mega drag. First day back to work or whatever you’re getting up to, has that feel about it- you just wish for a day in bed! Keep that head up you, it’s gonna be ok ❤

Let’s start with some little tips to maintain your flow for the week.

  • Eat well – Food, as tasty as it comes- can improve how you feel! I’m not telling you knock back some weird tea, only eat salad or buy organic; eating well does have it’s benefits. The more colour with your meals, the better. Takeaways and quick microwave meals are, let’s face it, the lazy way to fill that lovely tummy of yours. Try get out of the habit and go for something new. If you fancy cooking up a quick little storm, I suggest signing up to ‘Thug Kitchen’- great recipes via email…and vegan too! Find some recipes here.
  • Ask for help – It feels tricky to admit that you might need a hand, but there is no harm in it. wpid-img_20150805_201214.jpgIf you do not ask, you shall not receive. It’s as simple as that. Pluck up the courage to seek some guidance or ask a friend for help. Take a well deserved break and ring up a loved one to have a chat.
  • Be a lil’ bit selfish! – You’re here, you’re breathing- it’s your life and you can do whatever you wish with it! Eat that bar of chocolate…go on! Do something for yourself out of your day. It doesn’t just have to be work, eat, sleep and repeat. Catch that film you wanna see, ask a friend out for a drink- do what makes you happy. You can spread that happiness with others too ❤ take that break!
  • Meditate – Some may think it’s quite the hippy thing to do, and over-think the whole meditation/ mindfulness way of relaxation, but taking 10 minutes out of your day to focus on yourself, can really improve how you feel about your day. Sit comfortably, relax your body and place your hands where you feel is natural. Close your eyes, count your breath in ‘1’ and breath out ‘2’- right up to 10. Repeat this and just notice what’s going on for you in your body. Slight headache? Bit of tension in your shoulders? Whatever it is, just notice it. Be gentle with yourself. Sometimes your body tells you things when you are a bit stressed. Listen to body. 

❤ as always, keep real and be kind to yourself .