Nicola J Rowley
It’s not always easy telling those closest to you that you’re throwing caution to the wind.
That you’re choosing a path they don’t necessarily approve of. That they don’t understand.
A pause, followed by a silence and then, “but what will you do, you know for money…”
And you try and tell them that it will be ok. That everything will work out. Because you know this is where you need to be. That every single thing in your life so far has been leading up to this.
But they still can’t quite grasp or understand where you’re coming from.
It’s called Faith.
And that path might not be the right one for everyone to tread.
But it’s right for me right now and I can’t wait to walk down it to who knows where.
And yes I could stay safe, working normal hours, feeling trapped, or I can choose to fly. And guess which one I choose…
And I haven’t even scratched the surface yet and I know that.
And there is part of me that doesn’t know how it will happen.
I don’t think we’re ever meant to know everything.
But my WHY is huge and it anchors me to everything.
The dream of writing, of creating and achieving what I always wanted to. When this calling first came looking for me aged seven.
Way back when I wrote my name on the sand and stood proudly behind it. Just as I’m about to stand proudly by the next thing I create.
I can’t wait to share it with you.
The second charity is on board, the second book is with the publisher, illustrations all complete.
And there’s more.
Another special calling for working mums who need to know there is hope and support and friendship out there.
When they are torn between both the job of nurturing their little ones and their day jobs. Mums like me who strive for balance.
And remain grounded through their very reason for being.
Each one of them. Absolutely amazing, albeit exhausted.
This is for them. A salute to some of the most incredible women I know.
Follow your dreams whatever they may be.
For we have one life, no dress rehearsals, so we need to shine.
So they too grow to be inspired and in turn go on to inspire others… x
PS If you’re a working mum and would like to join what will be a lovely supportive and inspiring FB group please email me and I’ll be in touch very soon x
When I started out on this amazing journey as a children’s author, I was really excited but had no idea what lay ahead. I knew that it would be hard work but also that it was what I was destined to do.
It’s just taken me a while to finally realise it – and for everything to align to support that decision.
Aside from my family, nothing means more to me than being mum to my gorgeous little boy. So it’s an absolute honour when I receive emails from other mums who tell me how I’ve inspired them and that they too want to take the plunge and follow their dreams.
It’s not always an easy decision to make, but following your heart and your passion is always the right thing to do. It’s what will make you happy and in turn, make those around you happy too.
Of course with all decisions like this, there is usually a balancing game involving time / money somewhere along the line.
But allowing any fear or self-doubt to creep in, is just defeatist. It’s like the negative committee turning up to rain on your parade. And I for one don’t plan to entertain anything they have to say.
In this pursuit to follow my dream, I have already encountered so many amazing people and supporters. I also get the odd blank look followed by, “But what are you going to do next?”
And when I respond with, “I’m going off to pursue my dreams,” I’m either met with a mix of overwhelming enthusiasm or plain looks of confusion. The confusion comes as they enjoy working nine to five for someone else, as I have done for many years. And you may well be in the same position and are happy with this as your choice.
But it is a choice – and decisions that we make change where we head in life. I don’t want to look back and regret what I haven’t done – and so for now, this is my time and I literally can’t wait.
I received a beautiful message in a birthday card the other day from a childhood friend. She said, “I really believe that 2017 is going to be your year.”
It is support like this and hearing from others, especially mums, that means the world to me. Being a mum isn’t always easy. We become professional jugglers literally overnight, trying to keep everyone, including ourselves happy. But all too often our wants and needs, come at the bottom of the pile – secondary to those of your loved ones. It comes with the territory. Being mum = being selfless.
That said for what it’s worth I believe that I owe it to myself, to J and to those who have been in touch to keep going, even when times get hard. Even when any doubts appear on the horizon (though I’m determined to nip them in the bud) and even when I’m not sure how this is going to pan out. It might sound strange – but I just know that it will and I can’t help but smile at the possibilities that lay ahead.
Thank you to everyone who has been in touch to let me know about the path you’re beginning or are about to begin, or who has messaged me just to say hello. It makes this dream – that bit more special.
Ps Book number two is on its way later this year. The illustrations are complete and the text is with the publisher. I can’t wait to share all of my plans with you x
My question for you, is do you keep a diary?
I have to admit, I have entries dating back years but they’re very sporadic. I used to go through spells where I would capture everything and then there were months and years for when I have no record at all.
Since I decided that it was time for me to take charge of my destiny and follow my dreams, I have kept a diary and write in it as much as I can every day.
The reason I’m telling you this, is because tonight in between Matt reading the fourth book of the night before bedtime and bath time, I came across one of my old diaries from last year and started reading the entries.
There were days recorded where I didn’t feel as if I was making much progress, and days of celebration and joy. But most of all what shone through from those pages was lots of hope and an unwavering belief about the amazing journey on which I was about to embark.
There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not bowled over by how lucky I am, or how grateful I am that I’m here. Here, surrounded by my gorgeous family and friends and having the chance to follow my dreams.
Most of all I’m just incredibly grateful to be a mum.
To have a chance to see J grow and learn and explore. Day by day. Moment by moment.
Each one as fleeting as the next.
Childhood is so precious and as parents I believe we need to do all we can to preserve it for as long as possible.
To make those bed time stories last a bit longer, for one more imaginary cup of tea to be poured, and one more day of waving to the ice cream man.
And it’s these moments that I capture in my diary. Not all of them, but the majority.
But above all else, what shone through for me whilst I re-read the pages tonight, was the amount of love I have for Matt and J.
The amount of gratitude that I have for where I am and what I’m doing. But most of all for who I’m sharing it with.
And this is the thing, while time runs away and these moments are so fleeting, I still have the pages of that diary. Those pages scribbled in at 5am, 6am and if I’m truly lucky – a rare entry nearer to 7am.
And there’s something really special to be able to go back and re-visit every day.
To be able to look back on what I’ve achieved and the goals I’ve set for myself and to realise how far I’ve come. From the very beginning to where I am now.
And that too in itself is special.
Another moment captured and to be savoured – just like every single precious moment of childhood.
So if life is passing you by and you have no idea where the days go, why don’t you try writing once a day in a diary? Your own special YOU time.
And if you’re not living your ideal life right now – it’s worth asking yourself what’s stopping you?
Or should I say – when are you going to start following your dreams? Because as with everything, it all begins with you…
PS If you’re looking to get some more YOU time and to keep the children entertained – HERE are some FREE colouring sheets as a gift from me to you… x
For those of you who are getting to know me on my website or through social media, will hopefully know by now that I’m a firm believer in positive thinking.
This week has also shown me that I need a key word to focus on for the rest of the year. My key word is FAITH.
Faith that everything will work out as I truly believe it will, that amazing things will continue to happen and that everything will fall into place.
I’m going to be really honest with you. On Monday I had a bit of a wobble. There’s a job going at the BBC where I’m currently working full time and two years ago, even one year ago it would have been my dream job. And I was talking to a colleague and she said, “Oh Nicola you should so go for that.”
And I entertained it. I really did. But then in the afternoon I did a training course and I talked about what I was up to and my plans for the future. We were in a group of four and each of my colleagues who listened to what I have planned said the same thing. “Inspiring.”
I’m not telling you this to blow my own trumpet. I’m telling you this because since that moment, when I spoke to them, I drew a line in the sand. That line means that come the end of June, it’s just me and my dreams. And since that decision and having that clarity, amazing things have started to happen.
I’ve been hired by someone I really admire to be their publicist for their amazing book (it’s going to be great), I’ve had conversations with people about launches and how they can effectively communicate their brand to a much wider audience. And then the photography business has seen a real influx of new and exciting bookings both for weddings and commercial projects. All since Monday. All since I took that leap of FAITH. And we’re only on Thursday!
So yes positive attitude, sending out positive energy and maintaining a positive outlook in general, really does work.
And if you;re reading this and you’re stuck in a bit of a rut or you’ve had a bad week so far – I want you to know it won’t always be this way. It absolutely will get better.
Because when you smile – somehow the universe starts smiling back at you.
And everything begins with you… x
PS If you need strategic guidance with how to build your successful business or brand, please CONTACT ME – I’d love to hear from you.
This week has been full of incredible highs and challenges, not least because in the middle of it all J was taken ill.
He’s fine now – but a 24 hour vomiting bug helped put everything into perspective.
When I first began this journey to become a children’s author, I knew that it was what I should be doing. It’s what truly makes my heart sing. That and of course having enough time to spend with those near and dear to me, in particular my boys, mum and brother.
Staying focused has never been an issue. But combining work with being a mum and the subsequent pull on my time has been an interesting one for me to get my head around. I know that I rarely get enough sleep, and I know it’s my choice but I’d rather spend an extra precious half an hour with J than to get shut eye. It probably explains why when he comes home full of the latest cough or cold from nursery, chances are, within the week, I will have it too.
This week, as I’m sure you’re aware by now, I was featured in the Daily Mirror in a lovely article in the business section of the paper. It helps that I have contacts, having worked in PR for almost a decade. It also helps that I know what journalists are looking for.
And then there was barely time to press boost on a Facebook post about it, before J came home from nursery, white as a sheet. The poor thing was so ill. As with every little cut and bump, it was hard to see, especially as there’s little that can be done except lots of rest and Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder and a bit of Frozen thrown in for good measure. Yes he probably OD’d on TV for the first couple of days, but he was also cuddled and held close and read as many books as my newly croaky voice would allow me to get through.
Children of course have an amazing ability to bounce straight back. We saw the doctor on Thursday – she was worried. By the same time on Friday morning he went in to see her wearing his Superman mask, singing her songs. “It’s like a completely different child!” she exclaimed. James just smiled and said, “Thank you, doctor.” He never fails to make me smile.
And that was my week gone by in a flash. A great mid-week PR win, followed the next day by former X Factor winner Sam Bailey letting me know that her daughter loves James and the Amazing Gift (this really made me smile so thanks Sam). This was mixed in with a whole heap of mummy cuddles, household chores to clean and wash everything, whilst also juggling the full time day job and my photography business.
The reason for this blog is as follows:
Yes I had plans to get things done – to be able to progress the next book, to write lots for my new book aimed at 9-12 year-old’s, to blog and post a whole heap of other things.
It didn’t happen because life doesn’t always fall into a neat little plan.
And for me, being a mum will always come first. Because let’s face it, without my little inspiration, I doubt I would have been a children’s author in the first place. A writer yes, but not of children’s books.
It’s ok that life is sometimes messy, and as mums it’s not always easy but somehow by maintaining a positive outlook things just get better. I didn’t mind that between Wednesday night and Thursday morning I was woken up at 11pm, 00:30am, and 2:20am and then was up for work at 5am.
In the end I didn’t make it in to the office as he was crying out for me and the sickness was still on-going.
But, and here is the but, it’s ok for us to not be able to achieve everything at once. I did what I could, and juggled lots of proverbial plates with as much of a smile as I could muster. Oh and just for the record – I still didn’t miss a single deadline.
And with that positive mind-set, new and exciting opportunities are starting to come along.
I can’t wait to share everything with you but in the meantime, even if you feel that you’re not getting where you want to be in the time that you have, please know that it’s ok.
All you can do is your best.
Try smiling through it too.
Because let’s face it, if you look for the best in any situation, things can only get better… x
PS Are you struggling to juggle everything, and would like a hand with your PR, copyrighting or blogging for your business? If so, I’d love to hear from you so please CONTACT me here.
Dearest J, the reason I am writing this to you today, for Mother’s Day.
Right now that probably doesn’t mean that much to you, but it’s a chance for each and every one of us to celebrate our mum’s, carers, or guardians. It’s a chance to say thank you for everything they have done, whilst being grateful for the impact they continue to have or had on our lives.
In short, today is a day to celebrate those who have held our hands when we felt scared, dried our tears after we fell down, and the ones who have been there unconditionally through all of our challenges.
I know that my mum holds an incredibly special place in my heart. She has taught me so much about never giving up when things get hard, how I can stand up for what I believe in, and I am forever grateful to know that she is still always on the end of a phone should I need her.
Getting to know you over the last two and a half years has also taught me so much about myself.
Without doubt, your loving and kind nature has shaped me more than I thought possible.
You have inspired me to write not only one, but now two books, which I plan to become a series, spreading happiness, one smile at a time.
You have a great sense of humour and I love how much you enjoy singing and dancing, as much as I do.
But more than that, you always want to ensure that you look out for others and I think for someone still so young, it is an amazing quality to have.
You sit next to Daddy on the bottom stair, but move up so that there’s space for me to be part of your game.
You say thank you when someone gives you something, without prompting and wave and say goodbye to the staff in the supermarket after our weekly shop.
On more than one occasion you have stopped another child from feeling sad or crying by reaching out to them. It’s just in your nature to do so.
You need to know that I am so proud to call myself your mum.
That you are my reason WHY and that I will always strive to be the best I can be for you.
Sometimes I might not quite make the grade and I apologise in advance. But you need to know I will always do my best for you and by you.
Dearest J on this Mother’s Day I want to say I love you.
You hear it every day, but you should know that I’m one of your biggest fans.
Most of all I’d like you to know that being your mum is the best thing I have ever done (besides marrying your dad that is).
Much love now and always
Your Mum xx
The other week I was visiting a local primary school and I asked the children what made them happy.
Their families, friends and pets won the day for my audience of 4-7 year-old’s. They then proceeded with the task they’d been set; to devise a character for their own story that would make them smile.
As they did so, there was audible laughter and giggles throughout the school hall as they selected various colouring pencils, thought up a sentence to describe their creation, and then made a beeline to show me what they’d achieved.
As a children’s author, this is something that makes me incredibly happy – knowing that I am able to pass on my love of reading and writing to others, especially children.
And whilst I’m extremely lucky to be able to do this, it also makes me wonder how often we do things for others and indeed ourselves, that really makes us happy.
On this International Day of Happiness, wouldn’t it be good if we simply exchange a smile with the person we’re sat next to on the bus, the train or indeed whoever we come into contact with?
Nothing more needs to be said, but it is this small act of kindness, and reaching out to others, that can make a massive difference.
We’re currently faced with so much uncertainty in the world. But one thing we can be sure of is that we’re all here together. A simple smile can have such a unifying quality.
I always think that you should treat others how you would want to be treated yourself, which is why I say “good morning”, to the guard on the train platform, or smile at the tube worker, who might be looking a bit downcast every time I see them.
It doesn’t cost me anything and truth be told – it makes me feel good too.
Projecting positivity to the next person, in such a small way can make a huge difference to not only them, but also how you view the world and everything in it.
Dwelling on negativity will only breed more negativity, whilst embracing everything in a positive way with a can do attitude, really does make things somehow easier. It also opens you up to new opportunities, which all of a sudden seem to appear from nowhere.
And without you even realising it, the positive energy that you’re feeling is reflected in everything you do and everyone you meet.
Every morning I get up at around 5am, which might sound like a crazy time to you if you’re reading this, but I love to be able to have some quiet time just for me where I can map out my day ahead.
I’m incredibly lucky to be where I am, and to do what I do, but a lot of it hasn’t just happened overnight. It has been more a case of hard work, taking action and embracing every opportunity or mishap in a positive way.
Being a mum and an entrepreneur means I constantly have to juggle my time and how I approach everything. But I wouldn’t change it at all. And I’m incredibly grateful for everything.
To help kick start your positive thinking, here is a really simple exercise that can work wonders to turn your day around, no matter what it’s been like so far:
At least three times in a day, take a moment to stop what you’re doing and look around you.
What can you see that makes you happy? It could be something as simple as the book you’re reading, your surroundings, or feeling the sun on your face.
Soak in these moments, and remember them. And then smile.
As a child I used to do this all the time.
I used to love taking the time to smell freshly cut grass, feeling my feet beneath me as I ran, enjoying the time playing on my swing at home.
Such happy memories. Made all the more special because I stopped, and took the time to remember how I was feeling.
On the whole, it’s second nature for children to have a naturally positive outlook on life and to appreciate their surroundings.
Let’s take a leaf out of their book and make a change to how we view the world, one small step at a time, starting today, the International Day of Happiness.Amazon now… x
Last weekend my husband, our two year old and I went for a woodland walk. It became apparent very quickly that this wasn’t going to be just any run of the mill amble through the countryside. We were going on a hunt for the Gruffalo.
Our walk ended up consisting of a series of, “Is he in there” type scenarios, looking for a log pile house, trying to spot the owl in the treetops, and ended with lots of splashing in the muddy puddles we found along the way.
Within weeks of him being born, I read to J. He enjoyed looking at the pictures, and seeing the shapes of the words. Now he asks to read his own book, once it has been read to him. A sure sign that, as with most things at the moment, he would like to have some more independence in this area of his life too.
But he still loves story time and will ask for at least four books to be read to him every night.
Not long after his first birthday, I created a reading corner for him in our lounge. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he has soft cushions, a small mattress covered in a throw and a selection of books that he can choose from. It’s also a break out area for him to be able to get some “me” time away from everything else.
Invariably either my husband or I are invited to sit next to him in the corner, and it’s here that we discover the latest things that are fascinating him.
Whether it’s a more seasonal reading of The Snowman by Raymond Briggs, seeing Percy slide into the sea as part of the Thomas the Tank Engine series, or hearing his fascination with Elmer the patchwork elephant, it’s an incredibly special time.
I am well aware that as a parent, these fleeting moments, will soon be but a distant memory, although I’d love to preserve them for as long as I can. And long may his love for books and learning continue.
Another scary prospect, which will be soon upon us, is the start of school. With this in mind, I visited a local primary school recently to see whether I could imagine him being as happy there as possible. During the tour with the head teacher, she said that a love of books was more important to her than the completion of any homework. My heart was filled with joy in that moment, as I also believe this to be the case.
Not only do books encourage a love of reading and writing, but they take children on a journey to a magical place where their imaginations can run riot. Many an evening I have spent falling into a bog thanks to Julia Donaldson’s Room in a Broom, or creeping past a big blue dinosaur, following one of many readings of Dinosaur Roar.
This is one of the main reasons that I became an author. I would love to inspire children to have a love of books and reading from as young an age as possible. Seeing the profound effect that books can have on children, both at home and during school visits, has only reaffirmed this aim.
I disagree with parents who say, “Oh they won’t understand books yet.” Who are we to decide when something might inspire them, or capture their attention?
I don’t think that children can ever be too young for books, to be introduced to new characters, and to explore the world through the safety of the written and pictorial world.
What has intrigued me as I’ve been promoting my own book, is the number of parents who say but “she’s only eight months old”, it’s too soon. Too soon for who? Too soon to be able to share that amazing bonding time together? Too soon for parents to buy books rather than another piece of plastic? Or too soon for their child to appreciate the beautiful world that can quite literally unfold in front of them?
On this, the 20th anniversary of World Book Day, no doubt parents with slightly older children will be frantically scrambling around trying to make a suitable character costume for the relevant school activities.
But what we shouldn’t overlook is that reading to and with your child should start ideally from weeks of them being born.
It’s an incredible gift to pass on, and one that I feel should be the duty of all parents to do. Finding the time to read together and instil a love of reading and subsequently writing is one that should hopefully last a lifetime.
What an incredible thing you are giving to your child. To know that you have set them on the right path from the beginning – so they love their books and story time.
There’s so much to discover and so much fun to be had. Research has proved that books and imagination go hand in hand.
So what are you waiting for? It’s never too early to buy a book and to start that journey together.
And of course have a lot of fun along the way.
Last November the best storyteller I know (second only to Roald Dahl) passed away.
My dad used to tell me the most fantastical bedtime stories and in one of them, he created an incredibly special character. At the time and for many years afterwards, I pleaded with him to write it down and capture the story.
On one occasion when I was much older, he tried, but many years had passed and the magic of those bedtime moments had somehow gone.
It’s not that I grew up, because I know for sure that it was a truly magical world that he created. It’s that he didn’t seize the moment and take action.
As a child I even drew an image of what the character should look like and he pinned it to a board in our garage. It stayed there until we moved home a couple of years later.
I was nine years-old.
And I’m sad to say he never got around to writing that book.
Because as is the case for so many of us, the busyness of life got in the way.
There was too much else going on to find the space to create.
He worked full time in London, then had his hands full with myself and my brother when he came home afterwards.
But to me it feels like such a waste.
Now that I’m a mum I can’t help but think I don’t want my little boy to be disappointed in the same way.
To think that, “Wow my mum’s really creative, but what has she created?”
So I’m sharing this with you now because it means that I have to follow through with it.
There is no way that I can re-capture that amazing magical world imagined by my dad.
But in his memory, I am going to try to honour the character through name if by nothing else.
And it is this book that I’m going to dedicate myself to write next.
It’s a story for older children – ages seven to nine, because this is around the same time that my dad inspired me. The same time I discovered Roald Dahl, and the same time I fell head over heels in love with poetry.
I hope that it will prove to be as magical as the original story was for me.
It’s going to be a lot of work, but as it’s in honour of a very special man, it will be a true labour of love.
The reason for me telling you all of this – is that if you have a dream you have to follow it.
Take action and make it happen.
Even if you take small steps.
Every. Single. Day.
Don’t let anything or anyone steer you from your chosen course.
Your dreams are precious and there is a reason that you have them.
And when it all feels as if it’s getting too much just remember that IMPOSSIBLE actually spells out I’M POSSIBLE.
Because you know that you are.
And so are your dreams.
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