“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #11 – Lisa Fulham

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New Year, New Me.

The first of January. A new start, a new me, but where am I supposed to put the old me?

Cracking the spine on my new diary with pen in hand I begin my yearly ritual of listing the things I want to achieve, but as my ballpoint hits the page I have a moment of anxiety; I don’t even know what I want for lunch so how can I write a list of things I want to achieve over the next twelve months? In frustration I pick up last year’s diary which was so important to me only yesterday but now feels like a lead brick weighing me down; listed in these pages I see nothing but failures which is highlighted most when I turn to the first page and see last year’s wish list.

The few small things I managed to achieve I crossed out to the point you can’t read what was there as an act of pure joy at having completed something . . . anything. I can’t even remember what those things were even though they clearly brought me a sense of accomplishment at the time. Glaring back at me between the sparse scribbles is everything I failed to do.

  • Take a night course in photography

I’d talked myself out of this one pretty early in the year because who would I take pictures of? It’s not as though I’m a social butterfly who people want to hang out with all the time and there’s only so many pictures of landscapes and buildings a person can take before it’s just seen as sad.

  • Lose a stone in weight

I at least started this one and managed to lose seven pounds. I was half way to my goal when Jon—my boyfriend of two years—dumped me and cake became my solace.

  • Complete a charity run

This one was vetoed due to not losing the weight. No one wants to see a fat girl run.

  • Book a trip to Bali

After Jon left there really wasn’t much point in booking the trip. There was no way I could travel all that way alone, I wouldn’t have made it onto the plane before my anxiety kicked in and that’s if I survived the horrors of holiday clothes shopping. Picking out a one piece while everyone around you decides if they want matching tops and bottoms to their bikinis, or if vogue was right and mix and matching was the way to go this season. Not exactly my idea of a good time.

The more I looked at the list the angrier I became with myself. Seeing in black and white everything you didn’t do isn’t the best feeling in the world, but when you’re a masochist like me you can’t help but keep reliving the pain of disappointment while constantly slicing the knife across your already torn and bleeding heart. Hours slip by as I read page after page about this woman I don’t know; her handwriting is just like mine, but I refuse to believe the words she writes are mine.

The pages of January and February are mostly filled with tiny victories in the diet and exercise area, mixed with uncertainty as to why Jon was becoming distant and unsupportive of the new me I was trying to achieve.

In March I found out why, he didn’t love me. He told me no one would be able to love someone who hid behind a fake illness like depression. He said I just didn’t want to be happy and he wouldn’t allow me to drag him down too so he left. Reading the thoughts and feelings I had during those months bring tears streaming down my face. How could I have ever allowed one person to make me feel so worthless?

Throughout April I seem to have been numb and there’s no evidence of attempting anything on my list of dreams for the year. In fact, I barely wrote in my diary at all and the few pages I did weren’t easy to read through the tear stains.

May was the month my mum marched me to the doctors because I wasn’t coping with life. I wasn’t dealing with my thoughts and emotions and I certainly wasn’t living . . . I was simply alive and present in body alone. Reading back makes me ashamed of myself. The hate and abuse I pushed onto my own mum for doing nothing other than love me and want me to be well makes me sick to my stomach and once again the list of dreams were ignored which is ironic as my doctor had told me I needed to focus on myself.

I make a mental note to spend tomorrow with mum and to let her know I love her always and apologise for the way I treated her back then.

During June and July I took my meds, went to work and moved back into my mum’s house so she could take care of me. What I wrote was that the world could get fucked and I was reverting back to being a small child who needed her mummy to tuck her in at night to keep the bad dreams away.

June and July were slightly dramatic months for me.

August saw me take a trip, not to Bali and not on my own, but a trip none the less. A few friends and I went to Paris for the weekend. Reading the apprehension I felt beforehand brings the feelings crashing through my body once again and for a moment my chest is tight and my breathing shallow, I don’t think I can continue this trip down memory lane, but I know I have to. I don’t know why, but I know looking back on the year gone by is what I need to do to be able to look to the year ahead.

The trip was one I’d always wanted to take, but had thought I would take it with Jon and we would explore the most romantic city in the world together.

Reading the fun the girls and I had while there brought me my first smile from the pages of last year. Seeing the Louvre, The Mona Lisa, The Eiffel Tower and losing myself in the gothic beauty of Notre Dame were a turning point for me; they reminded me there was a world out there and it was mine for the taking. The medication helped me not get too excited, the last thing I needed was to set my sights too high; I was all too familiar with the fall which could and inevitably would follow. My most vivid and profound memory of the trip though was adding my padlock to the hoards of others on the Pont Des Arts or bridge of love as it is more commonly known.

Surrounded by lovers holding hands and making promises to each other I crouched down and made a promise to my heart—never again would I give it to someone unworthy, someone who would not fight to protect it and rather than throw my key in the river, I brought it home and stuck it in my diary.

Fingering the outline of the key the promise I made slips from my lips “One day I’ll come back here with someone who loves me for my ugly parts, the parts I only show him and we’ll unlock you again.”

September always feels like a new start, something probably instilled in me from my school days and last September was no different. My every day routine became just that . . . routine. Things I found hard only four weeks before such as get out of bed or meet up with friends I managed without anxiety. I no longer worried if I made arrangements with friends they would cancel or that it would be one of the days I refused to get out of bed. I could go shopping in the local supermarket instead of driving twenty miles to the next town just to be sure I wouldn’t bump into Jon and fall apart.

It was also the month people began to comment on how well they thought I was coping with life. I think having that kind of external validation was something I needed to be able to see the change in myself.

October and November I decided to get back on track with my diet and fitness. I joined a swimming club, running club and dance class. I almost chickened out on the dance class because of my weight, the fact that I couldn’t dance and I also had no partner, but my never wavering wall of support or mum as she prefers to be called refused to let me quit before I started and she came with me—trust me, seeing a fifty-five year old woman attempt street dancing will have you laughing off the pounds if nothing else. After a few lessons it had become one of my favourite ways to spend my time, the class was fun and I was partnered with a guy called Joe. He was a little younger than me, really fit and a great dancer; he wasn’t so bad on the eyes either.

The dance school hosted a Halloween show and even the beginners like me who had only just realised they had a left and a right foot were involved; because Joe was my partner and he was an experienced dancer we had a dance where we were the leads. We practised every night to get me up to par and each practise session ended later than the last. The night before the show Joe asked me if he could take me out for a drink, at first I thought he meant the whole cast were going and he wanted me to tag along, that was until he kissed me. The page for the thirty-first of October was filled with a flyer for the show and the rose Joe had given me as I walked out of the girl’s changing room.

December read like a love struck teenager wrote the entries, but the truth is I’m still learning a lot about Joe and myself as individuals—he calls us a couple, I call us love buddies.

Having relived the past year in just a few hours I realise how tired it’s made me, the year drained me for twelve months and I just let it take the first few hours of the New Year which lies before me.

I hear Joe walk into the bedroom, I think he’s been doing it a few times while I’ve been reading, but he knows when I need space and respects me enough to give it to me. Looking up at him I know no matter what the year ahead has in store, the lessons I’ve learned with this man will help me steer clear of my darker parts or at least know if I visit them, they cannot keep me for as long as they once did.

Cracking open my new diary once again I write without hesitation.

My goals for the year ahead

  • Live
  • Love
  • Learn
  • Laugh

My friends and family say I’m doing well, but I’m doing so much better than well, I’m doing strong and focused and MINDful. For the first time in my life I’m listening to the warning bells my mind and body send me. I’m learning to live within my own limitations and knowing that having limitations does not make me weak, it makes me human. I now see that asking for help is the strongest thing I can do while living with depression. I know anxiety can always appear without a moment’s hesitation, but I also know the breathing exercises I need to do to fight it.

Am I fixed? No, I don’t believe I was broken. I’m just wired differently to others.

I do have a new me stepping into the world this year, but where do I put the old me? I keep her inside of me because she is the greatest person to teach me things about myself.

Lisa Fulham © 2016

author bio

I am an explorer of words. I love to create new people and see what adventures they can go on, but most of all I love to write. My words are my passion. 2015 saw me attend my first book signing and I am pleased to announce I will be attending a Leeds signing in 2016 too. Please check out my blog for all my latest news and work

Blog http://lisafulham298.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @lisa298

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Thank you so much for taking part Lisa!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

The #PeterboroughAuthorEvent 2015 and a PLEA TO REVIEW!

This will be a rather self-indulgent blog post and I will not apologise for this! LOL.

It was around a year ago (I think) that I agreed to attend this event thinking, it’s ages away, it’ll be a laugh, yet as the day approached I realised I had no idea what I had got myself into! I had to get serious all of a sudden. I needed stuff to take with me for a start and trust my luck, some of my recent novels didn’t arrive through the post on time, including a batch of Unbinds – and I still don’t know where the shipment is!

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On the morning of the event, I suddenly felt a little bit sick. I was reminded of the morning of my wedding when I stepped into the shower and vomited into my hand just because so much preparation had gone into that one day. Anyway, on March 14th I was thankfully not sick but I only managed a pot of tea and a miniature patisserie at my hotel before we had to make the walk to another hotel down the road, where said author signing was taking place. Once inside the Great Northern in Peterborough, I was greeted by chaos and activity and the nerves disappeared because it was time to get on with it all!

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9f4c8-afineprofessionwebsiteuseThe first girl to my table told me she thought A Fine Profession was amazing and refreshing, she really liked it, and she bought a copy of A Fine Pursuit there and then. Great start, right! While sat at our table, my hub and I got to talking about my back catalogue and his favourite of the bunch remains A Fine Pursuit. I asked why and he said the psychology and the challenge of unpicking a character as interesting as Noah Yeardley. Anyway, (I did mention this would be a self-indulgent post, but I’m feeling a rare sense of pride right now), yet more people came to my table either just to chat, have me sign books, take swag or whatever. I was just happy people were approaching me!

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I was shocked when one lady had one of my protagonists’ names printed on her t-shirt. O.M.G. Feckin’ fab. Said lady was very nice, asked for my picture with her, and mentioned she’d endeavoured to work her way through a book from each of the authors attending which was no easy job, given there were 30+ authors at said event. Not only romance authors but crime, horror and all kinds in between.

My favourite burlesque blogger, the lovely Louise from Passionate Page Turner
My favourite burlesque blogger, the lovely Louise from Passionate Page Turner

I was also blown away when quite a few people produced photo books with a page dedicated to each author, book covers on show and some quotes too! It’s at that point I realised that people have access to me and not only that, they’re interested too and want to make me a part of their community. Most of the time, authors sit at a laptop with only their own company because that’s the life of an author. Or so it always seemed to me!

Anyway like I said, I had no expectations of this event and it was my first big event, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I certainly felt a bit more assured than I did when I did my first library talk a couple of years ago, and certainly more assured than when I did a writers’ group talk last year and a book club one too – and I’ll tell you why! Last Saturday I was actually in the company of other authors who’ve also taken the step, as I have, to either self-publish or publish their work and ‘put themselves out there’. It’s really not something I did lightly and I know most other Indies like me didn’t take that step lightly either. To have that camaraderie is amazing, regardless of which route in publishing you’ve taken.

With author Lisa Fulham
With author Lisa Fulham

The overall feeling I took away from Peterborough was that most people want to read and most people want to write for all the right reasons. Everyone was so supportive and gracious of one another. The people I spoke to were more than aware how hard it is to get a footing in the writing world and yet we all do it for the love of words. Everyone I spoke to that day was genuinely passionate about books! They’re the best people in my eyes!

It was refreshing to step away from my laptop for a day or two and actually reflect on everything I’ve achieved so far. I think a lot of writers forget to reflect because we live in such a fast-paced world and hardly have time to draw breath! Sometimes we just have ideas we have to pursue and the world moves around us as we dedicate ourselves to writing a book, which is a risk and a sacrifice, but never not worth it (as I’ve come to realise).

Some readers told me they absolutely got one book of mine and others told me they got another. From my point of view, all I’m ever working with is the fact I know I can write and if I get an idea then great, I follow it. I write it and hope someone gets it. That’s all I do, because I love writing SO much. So when a person came to my table and said one of my books was their favourite last year, I was like WOW. Total bonus. One hundred thousand per cent bonus.

The thing with events like signings or whatever is the fear that you won’t get to speak to everyone for long enough or you forget to thank people, forget to meet everyone. I didn’t get round everyone because there were so many authors but there were some people I don’t think I will ever forget! I took away the feeling that it’s not always important to conquer the world, but to own what you do and really stand proud and represent that thing you do, whether it be as an author or as a reader or blogger or whomever or whatever your vocation in life is. Just own whatever it is you do well and be proud of your niche, because variety is what keeps the world evolving and without that, we really wouldn’t ever have change and that’s what I strive for all the time. Change might lead to something new and exciting.

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With my husband, aka Jimmy Carr
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Beautifully decorated table with book covers featuring all the attending authors’ books

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After the books were signed that day and the banners and swag and tins of sweets put away, we sat down for a dinner and ball and that was when the day really got started for me. Speaking to one woman on my table, she asked me which is the book I’ve written that I believe in most. She also asked which book did I enjoy writing the most. I still say the book I enjoyed writing the most was Angel Avenue and I don’t think my opinion on that will ever change. I also happen to believe in that one the most. I explained to this lady that it’s a book some people just don’t get for whatever reason but I tried to tell her that sometimes it’s not about understanding everything in a book, it’s about how that book makes us feel about characters. I personally love books where you can read between the lines and take a moral away with you or just a feeling of thankfulness for everything we have in our own lives. I’ve written some pretty erotic stuff in the past, involving whips, chains, belts, dildos, you name it – I’ve never been shy of exploring all that. Human sexuality is the single most written-about thing on the planet. Yet despite all those other erotic books I’ve written, I still feel such a powerful, deep, not even sentimental but overawed emotion whenever I go back and pick up Angel Avenue and Warrick Jones (the guy printed on that lady’s t-shirt). He is the one male character I’ve written that I still think about. I’ll love him forever. So as we sat at that table, said lady clicked a few buttons on her phone and downloaded that book. That’s the world we live in now. Convenience. Expectation. Volume. Ease of access. Standing out in the crowd will never be easy because of this mass outpouring of creativity. It’s a blessing and a curse that anyone can publish relatively easily now. However, this particular author event proved to me that the people who succeed and the ones who remain authentic and original are the people who never sacrifice who they are and now I am glad to say I know some of those people personally! Passion really translates – and it really sells!

Far be it from me to reveal what us authors got up to later on in the night but the night owls amongst us who didn’t get to bed before 2.30a.m. laughed our socks off so much, we’re still talking about this and will be for months to come! A sign of a truly nourishing and fulfilling day! Amen to the organisers Hourglass Events and Orchard Book Club. They did a fantastic job, made a lot of authors realise they’re not alone in their fears, aspirations, dreams and endeavours… and more importantly we’ll all be back!

Many of us have signing hangovers for a number of reasons and I know I’m itching to meet people all over again very soon! Roll on Leeds 2016!

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On a side note, I want to ask anyone who has enjoyed my books to please, please review them! Many people tell me they’ve loved my work and I just don’t see this love reflected on Amazon or Goodreads. Please do me the honour of just writing a line or two of review. It makes all the difference. It’s easy to read a book and leave it there, I am also guilty of this, but I try to review whenever I get chance. It not only helps other readers make a decision about their purchase but also drives more clicks to our pages and therefore hopefully more sales and hopefully more happy readers! Please review today and make everyone happy! Thank you!

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