Monday, April 20, 2009


Ok, i've started an additional blog, a companion to this one if you will. No i'm not going to end up with thousands of blogs, just these two... honest.

The blog is my gratitude stone. It will be a regular list, daily if possible, of things to be grateful for in my life as each 1440 minutes pass. The premise is explained a little better in the first post of the blog.

This post was meant to be the "where it began" post, although I'm not sure it will take that direction once I start writing. And i apologise for the length, having got to the end, its a little long...

My mum took a bit of a tumble in this last week. I haven't had the chance to speak to her at the time of starting this, but from what i can tell she has had a number of dizzy spells which have resulted in a fall where she has cut her head and hurt her back.

Thankfully she is ok, but still... It scared me a little.

Mostly because i am so far away, and had a sudden feeling of helplessness. With no real phone signal and not seeing the e mail, i did not find out for a little while. What if it had been a lot more serious?

The ever growing popular opinion that we live in a small world is not strictly true, ask most Americans to walk anywhere (no offense guys). To be honest, most of America has not been built to walk, outside of city centers it would appear sidewalks do not even exist. Anyway, I am getting off my point.

The world is far from being a small place, its a big place, a very big place, with huge areas still lacking decent communications. I am in San Francisco at the moment and have zero phone reception where i am staying. Not only that, although compared to years gone by, getting anywhere in the world is a lot quicker, its still far from quick... especially if you want to be anywhere due to something serious. A 24 hours trip to get home for serious reasons feels a lot longer than the 24 hours spent travelling for pleasure.

This has all raised a point inside me, that rather selfishly, i had decided not to dwell on too much previously. The sacrifices that need to be made to live a life i want to live. The balancing of seeing the world, experience this incredible and diverse planet we are lucky to live on but not neglect those close to me.

My family and I are close, not as close as some, but a lot closer than others. When I say not as close as some let me explain, I do not believe any family could love one another anymore than we do, but as my family will tell you, even when I live literally 5 minutes down the road, I am not the best at keeping up contact. Let if I am on the other side of the planet. I forget birthdays, do not pick up the phone, do not make that five minute walk for a quick cup of tea just to catch up and say hi. This rings true for all my relationships, as anyone who knows me will tell you. It is not a reflection on how i feel about the people in my life, it is a part of who I have become and something I plan on changing.

We have a finite existence on earth and we can not afford to dwindle a single second of that time. So i now chose to get out there, and make most of the time I have been given. The flip side of that is, I am continuously some distance from my family and close friends.

I have to find the balance of using that time wisely in all areas. No, i do not want to reach the end of the time i have been given and realise i have seen nothing with it, experienced nothing of the diverse planet around me. Equally i do not want to reach the end of that time and realised i have spent very little of it with the people who matter to me the most.

There is a big difference between being selfish and being selfish. To live your own life requires a certain amount of selfishness, but not letting those who care, that you are ok, or not giving them an hour for a cup of tea if you’re five minutes down the road is just plain selfish, in no sort of positive way. Not to mention the way I have treated other, extremely important people in my life at times… but that’s something for a different post.

I know my family and friends do not expect me to live next door to them, to be at their houses every day (they would get sick of me). I also know they want me to have and live the sort of life that will make me happy. I have seen the pain in my mothers eyes when i am at my absolute lowest, her feeling of helplessness when she can see how much trouble i am and literally falling apart in front of her. Equally i can see the worry in my Dad's eyes when he can see me struggling with my life, see that i am not living my life to it's full potential, not getting from it everything i want and need to make me happy.

To waste my life, to spend more time miserable than happy, would be an insult to both my parents and everything they have done for me, so that can not and will not happen.


I also do not want to waste time not appreciating and enjoying the relationships i have been blessed with. So i need to find some middle ground. I need to stay in touch more, I need to make sure that when i am in England, I do make the time to catch up with those people properly. Yes this is my life to lead, my life to enjoy, to find the things that make me feel complete, make me feel whole, make me feel happy and make me feel i am not wasting the 1440 minutes i am given everyday.

But there are people that love me and would like to spend some of their time with me, and for me to spend some of my time with them. Or at the very least know where i am and what is going on for me, those people deserve a lot more of the time i have, than i have been giving them. If i have time to write on this blog, I have time for an e mail, time for that call, and i certainly have enough time for a cup of tea while i am in England.

I am not saying i can change over night, god knows it took me 38 years to get to this point, but contacting those i love needs to become second nature, and not something i just happen to remember occasionally or when they message me to make sure i am still alive.

I love my family very much, something i do not tell them nearly enough. I am grateful to everyone of them as they have shaped and encouraged the person i am now happy to find my self becoming. I want to live a life and be a person they will all be proud of, not just because I am family, but because the things i am and the things i do are truly worthy of pride.

I love my friends, very much, and i am grateful for the chances they have repeatedly given me over the years. Especially when some of my actions as i descended in to the person i used to be, would give them every right to never speak to me again.

I am grateful to the people that stuck by me, family and friends, grateful to the people that knew i was in trouble and believed i would one day find a way through and supported, encouraged and helped me as I did, finally, start to find a way through.

Equally, I completely understand those who did not, could not stand by me any longer and so why they no longer do. Regardless of how much trouble I was in, I do not deserve their love, friendship or support. The way I treated them, the way I treated the things they gave to me, the support and love they showed me, is nothing short of disgusting. When your own problems, or your own actions as a person, are causing that amount of damage to those close to you, those people have to let go and move on, for their own lives to be as fulfilling as I want mine to be. That I do understand, regardless of how much I regret the loss. So I will always be beyond gratefull for the time, love and support they gave me, for as long as they could.

The comment "oh its only Neil, you know what he's like" is no longer good enough. If anyone has any cause to make a comment like that, it means you have done something, no matter how large or small, to upset or offend that person. No one close to me should ever have to think that and from now on, I intend to try my hardest to make sure they never do. No one who cares should ever have to think "I haven't heard from neil in a while, I hope he's ok" and so I intend to try my hardest to make sure they never do.

I guess my point is, just like my actions as a person, the things i am doing and where i am, should never cause the slightest worry to those who care about me. Certainly not due to something as small as a lack of contact.* If I am not climbing Everest or trekking through the Amazon, it should not take me a few days to find out my Mum has taken a fall and be able to make sure she is ok.

Seems like 1440 words wouldn’t be so difficult after all… not once I get going.

“Get not your friends (and family) by bare compliments, but by giving them sensible tokens of your love.” - Socrates

* i can not stop people worrying if i am engaging in an activity they see as possibly dangerous obviously ;)

Friday, April 17, 2009


I struggled with this post, a lot, hence the delay.

I had decided what I had wanted to write by the time I'd finished writing the previous post, i usually have by the time i finish a post. Already, even this early on in the blog, i dont like to deviate from that. I guess it's because it feels like one post leads naturally in to the next, unfolding like a story. But this is not a story, this is an unfolding account of my life, and much like life, things tend to come up, things that just cant be ignored and so plans change, ideas change, posts change. Regardless of whether we like it or not, or it feels like one thing should naturally lead to the next, thats not always the way things are and i think it's important to learn to bend with that. Stay true to yourself and what you want to do, but don't be so rigid in your approach and rules that you end up breaking, bend, flex, so you dont break.

So this will not be the "where it began" post I had planed, that may come next, who knows. Instead it will be what it is, something i'm not quite sure of yet.

First of all i'd like to say a goodbye. One of the sad things that happened, which stopped me in my tracks, a friend from school passed recently. We were no longer close, if we were ever really "close" at school and had only met again recently through facebook. Still it really struck me and I would just like to say my thoughts are with her family and friends. With the very little i did now know her, she will be missed greatly, that i know.

It made me realise just how fragile and short life is, how every second should be treated as a gift, a miracle, and used to its full potential. Not taken for granted, as so many of us do. Something i have most certainly been guilty of for a large part of my life truth be told. Something i plan to no longer let happen.

This year has been a strange one so far, strangest of my life in fact. Last year had a truly miserable end and I was without question at my lowest point. Looking back now, not that I mentioned this to anyone, but worryingly low. I was on the edge of something really really unpleasant, and things were already really really unpleasant, so i dont like to think where i was heading.

Although it would now appear I am slowly but surely turning that around, my concern there, is that is one of the worrying traits of the manic depressive.* Everything seems rosey and great, getting better and better, then without warning BAM! you crash, hard... the opposite equal of the high you were experiencing. So at the moment i am tentatively waiting to see if thats the case. Although between you and me, not that i want to curse things, honestly, it doesn't feel like that.

This doesnt feel like the previous highs, there was something fake, false to most of those. They felt more like lies i was telling myself, to convince myself i was doing ok. Hence why I would crash so hard with the realisation "my" life sucked... or I sucked at least, but back then my life, my lies and myself were one in the same thing... kind of.

This feels different, it feels like I am really leading a life I am meant to be leading, finally pushing my life in the direction its meant to be going. Yes, pushing, it is what I think you have to do to get the life you want, push, hard. Only dead fish go with the flow as they say. You have to swim upstream, the whole way, as the second you stop swimming, that current will take you straight back in to that rut, that current, that was the easy life.

Anyway, back to my point, yes this year has been strange, and yes, up until this year my life sucked, in a lot of ways, certainly not all, but a lot. But, i dont want people to think this blog will just be post after post of misery and woes, as thats not the case. It has dawned on me that it may have looked like it was shaping up that way, but far from it.

This blog is a testament to the fact that my life is turning around. I could never have written this blog before now, as i couldnt admit there were problems. That I was not the kind of person I wanted to be, or that I even liked, that I was not living the kind of life I would want to live. Not even when I admitted there were problems, did i accept that there were and do anything about them. Not even when people pointed out the serious flaws in me and my life did i accept that those people were right (well, some of the time at least). Is the funny thing, knowing you have problems and truly accepting you have problems are very different things.

Anyway, this blog is far from doom and gloom, I will talk about the doom and gloom in my life of course. Equally I will talk about how I am turning that around, what I am changing in myself and my life to be a better person, the sort of person I would like and have a better life, the sort of life I would enjoy. This blog is more a celebration of the turning point, a developing map of the undiscovered country that is my existence going forward. this blog is those positive steps and my understandings, more than it is the history of the miseries that was me and my life to date. As i said, those stories will be told, but only when i fully understand them and so I am in a place to change them.

i will talk as much about the things i have realised and discovered and the ways to correct them to make myself and life better, as i will about the downs and lows i felt and still feel, about myself, my life and the way i lived my life.

So please, do not think this blog will be a running diatribe on me and my existence, it wont be, although it may seem that way at times. Every moan, every complaint, every time i pick holes in myself, these are all realisations and acceptances and only with true realisation and acceptance can there come real change.

Thats what my life is now about and so equally, that is what this blog is about.

I had started to write an additional to this, more that had happened since starting to write the post. I will leave that for another time though, this is more than enough waffle for anyone reading to have to suffer in one sitting.

Until next time

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." - George Bernard Shaw

*I am not sure if i mentioned the depression before, but if i havent, i have now, and will talk about that side of my existence in more depth another time

Monday, April 6, 2009


where to start? this may seem a strange question given that i am already two posts in.

the first post was more an explanation of the whys, why the name? and why the blog? beginnings was more a description of why i struggled to start the blog... and my life i guess... and commitment to start, no matter how difficult.

this is more a case of where do i start with the ongoing nature of the blog?

so, where do i start?

so much has gone before this point, that i want to get out, i could be here for days and fill page after page. over time i know i will, but for now do i start with mistakes made? lessons learnt? the things i've achieved? more importantly, the things i havent? maybe the things i have seen and done, or, again, more importantly, the things i havent?

do i start with the problems of the last few years, or with the more underlying problems within myself which have been developing for years? maybe i start with more positives than negatives, the events and people that have shaped the more positive areas of both myself and my life?

herein lies a problem i'm sure a lot of people have, and ties directly in to the beginnings post of before. once i get over that daunting thought of a blank page, i spend so much time trying to figure out where to start, i forget the important part, which is starting. once the ball is rolling, its easier to keep it rolling. like a car that needs pushing, getting those tires moving is the most strenuous part of the push, but once its moving, keeping it rolling is easier... relatively at least. like my blank page, it doesnt matter where i start, so long as i start, the page will get done.

so, now that i have started, i have decided the best place for me to start, is at the beginning... where it began. not the day i was born, far from it, more like where the events that got me to where i am really began. where the events that shaped the man... the person, i am today.*

so where i start, is where it began, at least where i feel it began. combining both my rise from being the boy who grew in shoeburyness wasting time, to the meteoric fall that brought me to the person i see in the mirror today. nothing too specific i guess, more a brief stroll memory lane. i'll concentrate on the sites on the way back.

take the first step in faith. you dont have to see the whole stair case, just take the first step" - dr martin luther king jr.

*i change the man to the person, as in truth, i do not really see myself as being a man. being a man has little to do with age, but more to do with actions and in all truth, my actions to date are not those of a male human i consider to be a real man. but thats a story for a later post

Saturday, April 4, 2009


When starting this blog, to be honest, I had no idea what to write. Not just for that first post (although I didn’t really say anything, I just rambled) but generally, I had no idea what I was going to say, or what I even wanted to say.

This is largely due to the fact that beginnings, for me at least, are a daunting thing. No matter what the beginning is, no matter how large, or how small, starting something new is daunting. At times exciting, of course, at others frustrating, but nine times out of ten, daunting regardless and so in turn, somewhat scary.

In the past, this daunting feeling of beginnings has repeatedly stopped me getting what I want. Be it achieving what needs achieving, completing what needs completing, or more importantly being what or who I need to be. The easy, less daunting route never seems to deliver what needs delivering, whatever that may be.

As most of you know I draw comics for a living, among a million and one other ideas I constantly have, but my nine to five (or 10am-3am usually) to pay the bills, is drawing men in tights. Every page, every single time, I have that daunting feeling, for numerous reasons.

The blank page in front of me is slightly overwhelming, all of that empty space needs to be filled with lines, lines that form pictures, pictures of a quality that someone will want to print. More importantly, of a quality that once printed, somneone would want to part with their hard earned money to take home and look at.

At times those pages come with frustration, knowing that it will take me hours to finish that page, when theres a million and one other things I would rather do… Which usually means I can find a million and one other things to do instead, usually still things I don’t really want to do.

And at times, a new page is exciting, exciting as I really want to draw what ever it is that’s going to be on the page. On other occasions it may just be exciting because I am feeling inspired, or like I want to draw.

Bizarrely, especially given my job or my talent (I struggle to write that, which I will explain at a later date), I’m rarely excited because I want to draw or feel inspired or creative, as I rarely want to draw, or feel creative, something else for a later date.

But regardless of wether I feel excited or frustrated, that daunting, overwhelming feeling at the pit of my stomach is there.

At this time, the blank page ahead of me that my life has now become is daunting. Daunting, scary but also exciting.

I have regrets and sadness over the life I’m leaving behind... No, i have regrets and sadness over the way i have lived the life i leave behind, over some of the things I’ve lost, the time, possibilities and options I have wasted, or let pass me bye. All due to one fear or another, lies I have told others, more importantly, lies I have told myself. Still, in addition too those regrets, I do have a blank page in front of me.

I have a few debts, relatively large debts, for how little I have, but money has never been a huge worry for me (maybe to my own downfall). I have a career I now want to build, and feel ready to build for the first time in my life. The fact I call it a career now is a sign of that and I am lucky in the fact that my career goes wherever I want to go. Asside from these small things, I have very little that now needs considering when I think about the direction I want my life to take at this point.

So like this blog, and like every blank page, I find the beginning in front of me daunting, exciting but daunting. But equally, like this blog and like those pages and things don’t get done, if blogs don’t get written, if pages don’t get drawn, I will have very little to blame but myself if life does not get lived. And like this blog and like those pages I wont let that daunting, overwhelming feeling stop me from getting things done anymore, like it so often has in the past

“Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try” - Yoda