Monday, 3 June 2013

Fighting Talk: When in hell...

“If you’re going through hell, keep going” 
Winston Churchill

It’s a great clique to turn to Churchill for inspiration, especially when you’re going through some battles. The man certainly knew how to spin a phrase and spur a crowd. Include this to his World War Two credentials and you're always going to be on to a winner. I've almost been avoiding using him in this feature on the very basis that it’s too much of an easy option. Finally, however, I relented.

You may not like Churchill, and his politics. Frankly I’m not much of a fan. I'll spare you the history lesson. But no one can deny that he knew how to push on, for better or worse, when everything, and everyone, stood against him.

This quote encourages me to push on through struggle, so that I can get to the other side. I’m reminded that if you’re going through hell, and you stop, then hell is exactly where you’ll stay. If you ever want to get somewhere better, you have to keep going.

Everybody goes through tough times. Whether that's in your past, present or future. Don't give in to it, because you can beat it. Great people are remembered for what struggles they overcome, not for giving up. 

Sunday, 2 June 2013

M.I.A - Missing in Action

It’s been a whole two weeks since I last posted, but don’t worry; I haven’t run out of steam yet.

Whilst I haven’t been publishing any blog posts, behind the scenes, the momentum has been building. I’ve been reaching out in various directions and pulling together ideas, as a result, there is a backlog of stuff waiting to come your way. The gold seams are rich, just waiting to be mined.  

So, what have I been up to, I hear you ask.

A big part of why I haven’t been writing is that I’ve been trying to catch up with all those chores I ignore, and pray will disappear. It turns out that they don’t just vanish, more to the pity. In general I’ve been trying to get my house in order whilst also getting myself back into my degree work and looking for paid work over the summer. 

On top of this, my wife has been going through a period of increased sickness. This effects the time I have to write, but more so, it takes a toll on my energy levels. A few times I’ve found myself staring at a blank screen, but not having the energy or focus to produce anything worth reading.  

I’m still recovering after a long bout of sickness and exhaustion. Realistically, until I’m back on my feet, and back to full health, there are going to be times when I can’t do all the things I want. Everybody needs time to build themselves back up. It’s not ideal but, begrudgingly, we’re only human. Superman only exists in the movies and comic books.

Over the next week expect services to be resumed as normal. This means that Fighting Talk will be back tomorrow. Also, look out for that exciting news I mentioned in my last post. I’m confident that I’ll be able to announce it early next week. Believe me, you don’t want to miss it.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Ask and you will recieve

It’s been one heck of an exciting week for me. I have so much to update you all on, but I’m not going to just yet. I'm keeping some news under my hat for the time being. I assure you that I’m not doing it to be cruel. I’m doing it because the news is so unbelievable that, until all the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed, I’m terrified that something will go wrong. Frankly, I’m not wholly convinced that I haven’t imagined the whole situation.

What I can talk about, however, is how much this week has taught me about chasing what you want. Rarely does something good come to you unless you seek it first. Ask and you will receive.

Twice in the last week I’ve asked for something when no opportunity existed. I’ve put myself forward, and I’ve ended up in a position where I can be part of something exciting. Instead of waiting for opportunity to come my way, I stepped out and went looking for it.

Jesse Owens chasing his place in history
Like me, I imagine that most of you know this to be true, but still find yourselves waiting. I knew that I had to pursue what I wanted before this week. I wonder, however, if I really believed it. I think I can safely say that for most of this year, I’ve been waiting for something to happen. I didn’t know what it was and, until recently, I certainly didn’t go looking for it. For example, I’ve wanted to start writing for a long time, but until I started this blog, I wasn’t doing anything about it. A career in writing was never going to fall into my lap.

Step out of the door
In the same way, I’m never going to impact people’s lives from my lounge. I have to keep stepping out of my front door.

I whole heartedly believe that everybody has the potential to pursue what they want. Nobody has to be left behind. Whatever you want, whether it’s a family, a business, a hobby, or anything in between, you have to potential to reach it, if only you step out the door. Obviously, sometimes it might not work out. But you can be sure that unless you ask, pursue and fight for what you want, you’ll never get near it.

I’d love to hear about what you’re pursuing. What steps are you taking to reach your ambitions? What opportunities have you been given when you’ve gone out and asked for them?

Monday, 13 May 2013

Fighting Talk: I am not silenced by the darkness

"Yet I am not silenced by the darkness" Job 23:17
I mentioned in my last post, and possibly before, that I have struggled with my mental health for a number of years. Since this week is the start of the mental health awareness campaign, I thought that it would be appropriate to share one of the phrases that encourages me through my battle with depression.

This verse is particularly close to my heart, and not just because I have it as a tattoo on my chest! (I'll spare you all from a photograph.) I first came across this verse when I was in a particularly desperate place. Reading this gave me the strength not to do something which I would have always regretted. 

When I read this I am reminded of two things. The first is that I should never be silent when I'm having a 'bad day'. Not talking about mental illness is part of why it has become such a big problem for many of us today. The taboo that still surrounds mental illness causes misunderstanding and isolation. Also, for me, when I don't talk to people when I'm struggling with my mind, I find that it festers and is able to take root. Depression wants you to stop talking about it, so that it's the only voice you can hear.

The second thing that this verse reminds me is, to never be silent about the evil you see in the world. I don't mean that we should all take it upon ourselves to fight for every single cause that comes our way. That's impossible. But I think that it's important not to become used to injustice. I never want to be someone who accepts an evil as inevitable, and unchangeable. I'm passionate about seeing injustice challenged. This verse reminds me not to let the world tell me that it can't be done.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

My Story

My life has, so far, been far from ordinary.

I have learnt that through telling people your story you can make a profound impact and create an instant connection. Telling people what you've done, where you've been and what struggles you've overcome, can give them inspiration and give yourself authority.

In September of 2012 I married Katie. I was just over 21 when I got married. This is when most people express shock, or disgust. It is often assumed that because we are a young couple, we must be a naive couple. Hopefully, through reading my story, you'll be inclined to disagree.

From the age of 19 I have been a full time carer to my wife. She has the chronic illnesses, fibromyalgia and M.E., which means most days she can't get out of bed and she needs a wheelchair/scooter whenever she leaves the house. Me and my wife fight everyday to not let this situation dictate our lives. Our aspirations are high, we refuse to be held back because we know that there in an amazing life waiting for us.

I'm in the middle of doing a history degree. It's tough doing a degree, whilst being a full time carer and working a part time job, but, I'm passionate about my subject, and frankly, I'm good at it too.

I have a busy, sometimes difficult, but always wonderful life. It's a lot of pressure, and I have a lot of responsibility, much more than the average 21 year old. I've had to fight to get what I have, and must continue to fight so that I can live a fruitful life.

I hasn't always been a smooth ride. For a number of year, I've struggled with mental illness. I've gone from pill to pill, I've gone backward and I've gone forward, I've been in and out of hospital, and I've spent more time with counsellors than I'd care to guess at. The important thing, however, is that I'm still working to overcome my situation, and to turn a negative into something remarkable. I refuse to be silenced by the darkness that tries in infiltrate my life.

I draw my strength from several places. I am inspired by the acts and words of other people. I wear words of encouragement like armour to protect me from negativity.

My wife is also an amazing source of strength for me. While I care for her physically, she continually  feeds back into me. She gives me strength, encouragement and wisdom. She's the greatest fighter that I've ever met. She oozes strength and power, even when she's in too much pain to move.

My greatest source of strength, however, comes from God. For two years I've been a Christian and been part of a life changing church. My faith has kept me alive, literally. It's a constant reminder that I have potential to change the world, and my church is giving me the tools to do just that. I do things, with God, that I could hardly have imagined without him.

This is, of course, a snapshot of my story. I have so much more to tell you, and every single day, I'm working no adding more. Consider this a trailer. For the full length feature, keep reading this blog, and more will be revealed.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Fighting Talk: Rise Again

"The mighty fall and the great rise again."
Over the six weeks that this feature has appeared on this blog, I have referred to the great words of well known people. I have quoted athletes, writers, and historical figures to inspire and encourage myself, and my readers. This time, however, I'm actually quoting something I wrote myself. So far, I've been reluctant to do this. Partly, I was worried about taking credit for something that I only thought was original. More so, I don't want to come across as having some warped sense of self grandeur. But I have been drawing strength from the phrase for some time, so I decided to share it with you.

I've been struggling, mentally and physically, for a good number of weeks now. I use this phrase to remind me that everybody has moments when they need to sit back and regroup. It's been difficult for me to accept that I needed time to stop, rest and recover; and that there was no shame in this.

When you struggle with mental illness, you often find yourself questioning whether it's real. You doubt that you are actually sick, even though you would never think that way about other people. You have to remind yourself that just because you can't see the illness, it doesn't mean it's made up. You have to trust the symptoms. You can't "walk off" a broken leg, and you can't ignore away mental illness.

The quote also reminds me that I can't stay, content, in the gutter. I have to fight to get up when I fall. When I  get back on my feet, I will be stronger and wiser than before. It's not an easy journey, but it's so worth it. The last few weeks have been a succession of me getting knocked back down on my backside. I've felt weak, and defeated, but I remember that quote and I find strength to push on, one more time.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Create Something Worth Remembering

If you look back through history, it's clear, that most of the time, we remember great people for what they leave behind. They are remembered as great men and women because of what they built, not for what they destroy.

Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan are both remembered for constructing the largest empires that the world had ever seen, not for the millions of people who died, or the civilisations they destroyed along the way. William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Leon Trotsky are remembered for their great literary works, not for their moral failings, especially their terrible treatment of women. Likewise, Elizabeth Blackwell, Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks are all remembered for the legacy they built up for future generations.

My point here is that we will be remembered for what we create. This might be a physical creation, or a legacy which outlives you and inspires others. Obviously, we’re very unlikely to be remembered in the same way as the above mentioned. We will all, however, be remembered by friends and family. Just because you don’t become famous, doesn’t mean that what you create won’t be significant and impacting.  

What do you want to be remembered for? This is a question which I have been asking myself for a long time. I’ve been drifting between wanting to create something through politics, academia, literature and even business. Ideally I’d do it all, but obviously that never going to be possible. It seems to me that it’s important to have focus on what you want to achieve. When I’m vague on what I’m trying to achieve, I find that I drift without really doing anything. What I do know is that I want to create something worth remembering, a legacy, even if it’s only for my children.

What do you think? Do you need to know what you want your legacy to be, or is it OK to be more vague about it? Also, what would you like to be remembered for? What legacy, or creation, would you like people to associate with you?

Monday, 29 April 2013

Fighting Talk: Crazy

"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are usually the ones who do" 
Walter Issacson about Steve Jobs 

You'll probably never be short of people queuing up to tell you that you can't change the world. But all it takes is one dream, idea or opportunity; and a persons crazy enough to pursue it, to change the face of the world forever. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Balancing Your Future With Your Present

Last week I wrote a blog post about the importance of having vision for your life. I got a really good response from readers, which was great. A few people commented on the post, suggesting that while vision for your future is important, it's a greater priority to be at peace with your life and enjoy the 'moment'. This is a sentiment that I fully support. If you can't enjoy where you are in the moment then you're on a one way road to ruin.

Vision for the future and a recognition of what you have now are complimentary, there should be a balance between the two. A balance where you strive to meet your ambitions whilst enjoying your life in the moment. Without vision, your life can become stale, and without an appreciation of the moment, your life becomes hollow.

I mentioned before that I am a carer for my wife, who has a chronic illness. When illness impacts your life, like it does ours, it can become easy to put your life on hold. For the longest time, we did this exact thing. We, in effect, were stuck in a place where we were waiting for our lives to begin.

There's an element of wisdom in this. You have to be realistic about what you can do when sickness has such a massive impact on you. You get to a point, however, when you realise that you can't sit back and wait, for years, for your situation to improve, when it might never change. We learnt that we can't just look to the future, we had to enjoy where we were at present.

We work hard to strike the balance between having vision for the future and enjoying the present. To maintain this balance, even the simplest things can make all the difference. Me and my wife have a vision board in our house and then make sure that at least once a week we have a 'date day' where we focus on each other in that moment.

What do you do to make sure you strike that critical balance between having a vision for the future, and making the most of every single moment?

Monday, 22 April 2013

Fighting Talk: Hardship

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”
― C.S. Lewis

When you're in a fight, you have to expect that you're going to take some punches. They're going to hurt, and they might just knock you on your backside. The blows you take will make you strong.

I don't think that it's a coincidence that people who achieve incredible things, have often gone through hardship which prepared them. Just look at some of the great men and women of history. Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, Freda Carlo and Henry Ford all either failed, or suffered great hardships, before their destiny was realised. 

When I go through hardship, I try to remind myself of this quote. Frankly, It's not easy. Eventually I start to believe it. When I believe it, I get excited. I'm excited to see where all this hardships will lead. The greater my hardships, the greater my destiny will be.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Vision Casting

One of the principles which I have intentionally adopted over the last 12 months has been to always have vision for my life. I think that it's important to always have a vision of what you want your life to be. I try to have both long term, and short term vision, which I'm always going back to and re-assessing.

Before I got married, we first set out a vision for what we wanted our marriage to be. I did the same thing when I started this blog, and when I began fighting against my mental illness.

There are two reasons why I think that having vision is important to having a great life.

1) I believe that people with great vision change history, and that people without are doomed to repeat it.

2) Without vision you don't know your destination, let alone the road which will lead you there.

Vision should be flexible. Realistically, you can't predict the future, all you can do is give yourselves goals. Those goals might have to change if circumstances call for it. The important thing is that you replace them for something else.

Vision should be achievable, but audacious. There's no use in setting yourself unachievable goals, but at the same time don't limit yourself. My visions for this blog is simple, to reach the world. That means that I want people all over the world to read it. This vision, is however, long term. I don't expect to do that in a year, or even two. My Vision is wildely audacious, but I'm giving myself an achievable time frame to do it in.

Vision should be divided between the short term and long term. Obviously reaching the world with my writing is a long term goal, but, I also always have short term goals set. For example, at the moment, my goal is to sit an exam on the 13th of May. Before that, my vision was to start regaining control over my life. By having short term vision I'm able to not only keep myself moving forward, but also, I'm regularly achieving things. I spoke about the importance of recognising achievements in an earlier post.

I know that so many of my readers have amazing potential. I'm frankly excited to hear what some of you are going to achieve.  I want to know what your vision is and, if you don't have any, why not?

Monday, 15 April 2013

Fighting Talk: Dignity in Victory

"Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss"

There's an impressive amount of wisdom in this sentence, and it needs little description. In fact, I'm going to keep my contribution short, there's nothing I can write to make the statement more impacting.

I'm going to keep these words in my mind this week. Remember, I spoke of using words like a shield. When I feel under pressure this week, I will remind myself to never give in.

Will you fight this week? And when you gain the upper hand, will you do so with dignity?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

How you can follow me

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

You can easily follow my blog using Bloglovin. This is an easy way to keep in touch with all your favourite blogs. Alternatively you can follow my blog by entering your email address into the side bar and receive an email every time I post. Make sure you never miss out!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Making Diamonds

As I promised when I first started this blog, I want to write about my process. There is no value in talking about my aims, and my end point, without talking about how I got there. Last week I wrote about the dangers of comparing yourself to other people. Rather predictably, within a week, I've fallen into the same old trap.

Before I divulge all, let me tell you a little bit about myself. 

For the last three years I have been a carer for my wife who has a chronic illness. She relies on me everyday, all day, for even the most basic of daily tasks. It's a full time, unpaid and draining job. Obviously, this has a massive impact on our lives.

It can be incredibly frustrating to have your life dictated by something which is wholly out of our control. We can work as hard, or be as prepared, as possible but have the carpet ripped out from underneath us at any point.

I often look, as i have done this week, at other people my age and find myself being jealous. I'm jealous that they don't have the same restrictions or responsibilities as I do. It's easy to look upon someone else's life and assume that they have it 'better' than you.

At times I can even become quite desperate. Begging God to take the sickness away from our lives, and being angry when things just get worse.

No good ever comes from making these comparisons. By doing so, I'm ignoring the great parts of my life, and painting an idealised picture of others'. I love my wife. she is so worth everything we go through together. Frankly, by being bitter and wishing my life situation away, I'm missing an opportunity. The struggles I face, build who I am. They change how I think.

Life may be hard for me now, but later I will look back and be thankful.  Like a diamond, all the pressure and heat put on me now will make me stronger.

Vision on our Wedding Day

Until then I will continue to remind myself to focus of the truly remarkable parts of my life, my relationship with my wife included.  To recognise that people would kill to get what I have, and realise that even my hardships would, one day. give me diamonds.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Fighting talk: Fighting To Get Back Up

"It's not whether you get knocked down that counts, it's whether you get up"

Over the past few months, I've taken a few hits and I've been knocked down. My depression has been at its worst. I've gone from sickness to sickness and have felt physically broken. I've even had to take the decision to re-sit my final year of university. I effectively buckled under the pressure of being a full time student, a carer and working a part-time job.

Despite everything, I'm fighting to get back up.

I know that it doesn't matter how many times I get knocked down in life. What matters is that I will always choose to get back up and contend to stay on my feet.

A few weeks ago a wise friend reminded me that just because you might be struggling in life, it doesn't mean that you're failing. If you're struggling, then you're still fighting. If you're fighting, then you haven't lost yet.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

I'll have what they're having

If there's one mistake that I have made over, and over, again, it's to persistently compare myself to other people. It's a poisonous habit. Comparing yourself to another person is like judging a book by its cover. You can only see what's on the outside. The real detail of the ink stained pages that make up someones life are hidden from your view.

There's nothing wrong with being inspired by other people, or wanting to emulate a quality, but you have to remember that everyone is unique. Other people are different, not better and we can rarely truly judge what another person's life is like.

I often find myself taking the best attributes of all the people around me and comparing them to myself, wondering why I don't share every single one. Obviously, this is a ridiculous standard to strive for.

I am going to stop repeating this habit, before it causes me any more harm. To do this I am going to force myself to think about what I do have, instead of what someone else has. Whenever I find myself comparing myself to another person, I will stop and list five things which I have. These could be talents, objects, people, or whatever else I value.

My list
1. I have a beautiful wife.
2. I am intelligent and have ideas.
3. I have friends and family willing to support me in times of hardship.
4. I have faith in an amazing God.
5. I am audacious in all aspects of my life.

That list was surprisingly difficult for me to make, not because I have too many great things to add to it, which in reality, I do. It was difficult because my mind isn't used to thinking in such terms. I'm not used to thinking about what I do have, I'm used to searching for what I don't have.

If you can relate to my experiences, then I recommend you to try to follow the same method as I am, I'd love to see your list. Let me know if you have any thoughts on my idea.

Writing your own list in the comments section of this post might be a useful exercise to get you started. It was for me. It's easier to recall something than it is to create something.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

New feature: Fighting Talk

This is the first post in what will be a weekly reoccurring source of encouragement and inspiration for my readers. I've always found words to be incredibly powerful. Words have the power to destroy, or to build up, a person. When I need to be inspired, I look for quotes, or bible verses, and use them to build me up and protect me. I use them like a shield to block any negativity which comes my way. 

From now on, at the beginning of each week, I'm going to post on here some words to inspire and encourage so that you can shield yourselves against inner and outer critics, and begin your week with momentum.

This week's post


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

By William Henley

This poem by William Henley has become very well known. Famously, Nelson Mandela recited it to himself in prison when he needed to find strength. By posting this, I'm not being very original. I expect many of you have heard it before. If you haven't then I'm delighted to be the one to share it with you. I wonder, however, how many of you know the story behind the poem?

William Henley wrote this after losing his legs to tuberculosis. "Black as the pit from pole to pole" refers directly to his amputated leg and artificial replacement. In addition to this, Henley, by this point, had lost his entire family to the illness.

For me, knowing that this is the background to the poem gives his words additional power. If he can speak of an unconquerable soul after enduring such hardship, then so can I, no matter what the world can throw at me. This poem inspires me to keep on fighting, no matter what blows I take or hardships that fall on me. He inspires me to overcome depression, illness and the pressures of being a carer. Despite these obstacles  I will continue to fight to achieve great things. My head will be bloody but unbowed.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Your moments of brilliance

"We all have our moments of brilliance and glory and this was mine." Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl writes this when recalling a childhood incident in his book, Boy: Tales of Childhood. He is absolutely right, of course. Everybody has moments when their genius shines through. You probably won't believe me (or Dahl). Maybe you think that it's true of other people, and not you. I've certainly found it hard to believe in the past, however, I'm teaching myself to recognise my qualities.

One of my favourite moments of brilliance was on a rugby pitch. I was never a great player, but I had my moments. This moment was in a practice game, on a water logged pitch in front of a handful of spectators. I found myself in a bit of space with four men in front of me. Without thinking (I assure you that had I been thinking I wouldn't have attempted such an audacious move) and with my left hand I threw the ball behind my back, to the right. I was then promptly pummelled by a wall of defenders.

A illustration for Roald Dahl by Quentin Blake

When I raised my head to survey the damage, I was amazed to see that my miracle pass had found a team mate's hands. It seemed that everybody else was as shocked as me since that player ran a fair distance before  being tackled. One of my coaches stood there in a stunned silence, the other was frantically shouting my name. They were obviously as surprised as I was.

I went on to tell all that would listen, and added to my story how intentional the move had been. I knew what I was doing all along.

I attempted to repeat the move on many occasions.  Never once was it successful again. In fact, it was always disastrous. I could always hold on, however, to the memory of the one time it went right.

This is an example of a moment of glory which I would include in my Achievements Book. It's a small, silly and insignificant event, however, these are the moments which I want to learn to savour. If I don't learn how to recognise the small times of brilliance and achievement, I will never be able to replicate it to do something truly great. I know that many of you reading will have similar memories you can call back on. Or indeed, will live many moments of greater brilliance.

I want to hear about your moments of brilliance. Please use the comments box below to tell us all about those small moments when you've been absolutely amazing. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Recognising Achievements

Recognising your own achievements is an important step in achieving a healthy state of mind and recognising the direction your life is going. In the past, I have been guilty of forgetting what I've achieved. This has had a serious impact on my mental health. This is why achievements are the first topic of conversation for this blog.   If I fail to recognise what I achieve on a daily basis, I will never be able to sustain a life where I am both happy and consistently growing.

What constitutes an achievement though? Maybe it's getting a raise in work, finishing a qualification, or running that marathon. All of these things are great and should be celebrated, but what about the small achievements? Learning to cook a new dish, or making a small lifestyle change for the better, do you celebrate these smaller achievements? I certainly didn't used to. I would only consider the big things an achievement. The problem is that the big things don't come around very often. I was left in a place where I only considered myself to have achieved something once, maybe twice, a year.

You need to recognise the small achievements, in the same way as you need to learn to appreciate small pleasures that make you happy. It's not always easy to do. I had to literally force myself to do it, until it became more natural.  

The next step was to make sure I didn't forget about my achievements. Once I was asked what I had achieved in the last 3 months. I sat there, thought about it, and came up with nothing. It wasn't because I hadn't achieved anything in that time, far from it in fact. I simply couldn't remember what I'd done. The same problem manifests when I am struggling with mental health issues. When that nasty voice in my mind told me that I was useless, I agreed with it because I wasn't able to call on examples where I had achieved something.

Thankfully, I found a way to help me value my small achievements and remember them indefinitely. I started to write an achievements book. This book is now full things, from university grades to remembering to put the rubbish out on the right day, and it is always being added to. A lot of the achievements in it might sound ridiculous to somebody else but they were achievements for me at that time of my life. That is what's important.

I'd encourage you to make a book for yourself, they are a fantastic tool to refer back to whenever you feel like you need reminding of how great you are. They are also a good exercise in forcing yourself to appreciate the small, daily, achievements that you have.