• So to kick off, I have been on my way to writing this next Sunday post for something like six weeks.

    What got in the way?

    I stopped taking anti-depressants for the first time in five years, I felt fine but was waiting for some crash.

    I was a little concerned I’d write to you in a blaze of triumph and then be hiding under the covers hating myself.

    I also had to think about how to write this post, so I went for a list of what worked for me.

    Just to be clear this is what is working for me, and might not work for you.

    I am not writing that line to be all sweet and inclusive, it’s the truth.

    If you are eating shit, processed food, drinking fizzy drinks and watching TV, especially crap TV you will be having issues.

    This list is what I stuck with after trying a lot of things.

    AND of course, I am not a medical practitioner.

    If you don’t feel right go and see your Doctor – it’s free! That is what I did to get here.

    1. Diet – This Is Simple.

    Cut out everything processed, comes in a can, packet or has sugar or gluten or has a sell by date that is months ahead of today.

    I live off of avocados and veggies.

    Since I avoided bread, dairy and drugged up supermarket meat everything has changed.

    A great place to start learning about food are the documentaries on Netflix – What The Health and Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.

    1. Therapy

    Sharp as I am I went sobbing to my therapist Amélie, she is French, and we have been together five years.

    I crashed at the end of 2012, and my Doctor sent me to six sessions of CBT which was like putting a band-aid on a shotgun wound.

    Following the CBT we found Amélie at the Salvation Army in East London.

    These first sessions saved my life, and it was like a ‘triage for Bernie’.

    After I got over the drama and panic, I settled into discovering and addressing the anger and rage that’s haunted me all my life.

    I am at the point where I feel 2017 is the first time I have been ‘me’ since I was a child.

    I’m always for therapy, and it isn’t the first time I have been, however, this is the longest I have been with one person, and I have got my life back as result of the time I have put in.

    1. Stop Watching TV and Social Media

    Think about cocaine, heroin, Trainspotting, With Nail and I.

    I consider watching TV and checking social media to be in the same place as these things.

    Of course, I watch Netflix, where I get all this info on food from, and I LOVE watching superhero movies.

    I’ll spare you the miles of statistics about mental health, anxiety and everything else I have researched.

    The HUGE effort I made to cut out social media, films and TV started to dramatically improved my mental health.

    If you have ever dealt with addiction to drugs, sex, alcohol, shopping, smoking or another type of addiction, it’s like that, and you should at least be aware this is the area you are playing in.

    When I rant like this about TV I often get the response: ‘well it’s like anything, it’s okay in moderation, TV can be good for things’.

    Checking our phones, social media and watching one more episode becomes a habit and then addictive.

    Every person I have asked about how they track their moderation has no system in place.

    The first time I used an app called Rescue Time I found out I spend five hours a day on Facebook.

    So tracking helped me change that.

    I now spend 15 minutes a day and don’t have a mental illness.

    See what I mean?

    1. Sleep

    Sleep early, no screens (ever) and get up early – get a dim light and read a book

    As I read about well being and depression one of the most cited cases is how we approach our sleep.

    I started going to bed early, avoiding screens of phones and any bright light. I am obsessed by ‘sleep hygiene.’

    I think about what I am going to eat, avoid coffee from 2 p.m. and drink a big glass of water before bed.

    Unless I am genuinely distressed, I sleep well and spend significant time decently rested.

    1. Meditation

    A few people I genuinely love, and respect suggested I try meditation.

    I didn’t know what meditation was.

    Also, every time I looked for a meditation thing on YouTube it was some smug woman with a synthetic American voice.

    Then I discovered Headspace and have clocked up over 250 hours of meditation just on the app.

    Over the last five years, I have transformed my mental well being, focus and amazing anger with the world.

    1. Other People

    The weekly “Deep Work” Meet Ups @WorkHubs, our coworking space in Euston have been a HUGE influence on me getting better.

    We run weekly work session around weekly goal setting, art,blogging and writing and this means I get to sit down with a group of people and share where I am AND help other people.

    We all make small incremental progress on our projects, learn new things and are finding ways to work with each other.

    1. Stop Fucking Whining

    And do something – it’s OK to be stuck but put some effort into working out where you are.

    The days I went out for a 2 minute walk even though all I wanted to do was watch the next episode of Person Of Interest on Netflix are the days I started to win.

    When I choose to read Brene Brown and Kelly McGonigal books instead of watching Person Of Interest I made tiny little steps.

    1. Blog About Depression

    OK, maybe this one is for me and won’t work for you.

    I blogged and shared with people like you about how tried sticking a steak knife in my wrist to kill myself, threw a whole phone booth across a bank when they wouldn’t listen and how deeply fucking sad and stuck I was.

    What came back were people saying ‘me too’.

    What shocked me were the people that said ‘if I share I’d be let go from my job’ or ‘I have too much to lose to share how I feel’.

    There were other people who I thought were bigger, faster and stronger than me, but were also taking medication or endured some ongoing mental illness.

    In less than a week I stopped feeling so alone and such a victim.

    1. Say No

    I’d always say yes to please people, and I’d rather have pain and depression than any conflict. (More on that another day)

    So I started to say no to everything.

    It worked.

    Also, I said no to going to places that make me feel shit.

    When I go to my hometown, I feel super depressed and often end up vomiting when I wake up.

    So I just don’t go. It hurts some people I know, but I have to act like this to protect myself.

    1. Something I Still Need To Do

    I walk everywhere, and this is good.

    What I have never got back into is running or another form of exercise.

    Yesterday I was out with my son and bought a running magazine, and then we ran home from the station just to see what happened.

    It was dark, raining and I was quickly out of breath – but I didn’t die.

    What to connect? Join my email community below, I answer every email personally.

  • Find Your Voice, My Plan For The Next 12 Months

    In this post, I’m going to share with you the next 12 months of my podcast plan for my website, before I am even ready to go.

    Even just writing that hurts.

    The next 12 months are about “how to find your voice” something I have been procrastinating on for years.

    Leading with a “find your voice” topic is hard for me.  

    I always think I should have ‘found my voice’ before talking about how you might find yours.

    But both of those are wrong.

    Building The Plane

    All the people I deeply admire and listen to are the people building the plane as it is taking off.

    All the people who look like they have it together 24/7 just arouse suspicion in me.

    Are You Qualified For This Bernie?

    I’m not, but I am ready to learn as I go.

    After thinking about it I decided I don’t need to be qualified for anything.

    I know how to write, podcast and ask questions.

    Besides no one has accused me of not knowing what I am doing for a few days now.

    People I collaborate with always question what I say and do, but a healthy and active part of our work together, in a seek first to understand and then to be understood kinda way.

    I’m embracing the role I learnt from the online learning platform Fizzle of being a ‘leading learner’.

    This way of sharing is about ‘documenting the process’ for people a few inches behind you in their journey.  

    I Am Good At That

    If you were walking around @WorkHubs I’d be falling over myself to show you how I am working it out as I go along and help you too.

    That is the essence of what happens at Not So Manic Monday, Art Club, Write Club, Blog Club.

    These are the Meetups we do weekly for people who write, are freelancers or are looking to try and flex a new creative muscle.

    10 Years To Be An Overnight Success

    So here is what I have been dicking around on for a decade, and even more so in the last few now few months.

    I read a lot these days after I left school I hardly read at all.

    When I studied catering at Vincent Square in London we hardly had to read anything.

    Years later when I went to Uni I had the first dyslexia test of my life and then started to learn how to read – slowly.

    Then I found audible.com, well my #supercoolwife found audible, and I was off.

    I read a book a week and then read summaries of those books in Blinkist, so I know a group of books significantly well.

    Where Has That Got Me?

    While I don’t have a private jet on 24-hour standby, I do have extraordinarily beautiful relationships with #Babybernie, Supercoolwife and people around me.

    Over the last 12 years, I have read myself out of depression, drink, drugs, self-loathing and dyslexia.

    Reading has enabled me to work out how I learn, something that school never managed to do.

    Reading non-stop has given me the confidence to be happy to not fit in or be obedient.

    It has caused a seismic shift in my natural curiosity.

    I am now beautifully comfortable asking people awkward questions and being quiet while they think of an answer.

    Talking Of Awkward Questions, What Kept You?

    I have been sitting on a podcast idea for ever, and I can’t say why I have not shipped it other than I have to change the text in iTunes and maybe not everyone will like it.

    OK, here we go.

    On February 5th, 2008 I first read 8th Habit by Covey and have never stopped reading it.

    Out of everything I have this is the book I read the most.

    It has signposted me to other books, most notably Cluetrain, Built To Last, Victor Frankel and seek first to understand.

    The list of topics, connections and application goes on for ever.

    I have watched how what Covey talks about in the 8th Habit has unfolded in the both the World and my own life.

    Boys Search For Meaning

    Over 2017 has my head has come back together I’ve got an impatient urge to make meaning of the what is around me.

    That search for meaning needs to happen alongside everything else that is going on right now.

    As much as I’d like to, I just don’t have the lifestyle to go and sit on a mountain and work it out.

    I have to and want to work it out in my early mornings, in the words, conversations and workshops that make up my week.

    So for the next year, I am going to work through the book and find people who I think can poke the box with me.

    I am petrified I have spent ten years thinking this would be a good idea, and I’ll find out it sucks, and I suck.

    So be it.

    But from everything else I have done shit, I always learn from those things and bounce back.

    I had to find out how to bounce back, which I learnt from this book too.

    So that’s my Plan For The Next 12 Months – Find Your Voice and I’ll be able to find mine too!

    One more thing… a little shout out to Colin Gray and Chris Marr for a couple of chats that helped me get my head out my arse 😉

    Photo by neil godding on Unsplash

  • Last week I shared about the one easy thing you can do to make you come alive, and this has been drilling my head all week.

    What Is The One Thing?
    The one thing is ‘stop complaining’. But it is more than that; it is ‘go on a no complaint diet’ an idea I picked up in ‘The Power Of No’ by Claudia and James Altucher.

    I got this book as soon as it hit the shelves in 2014, I used to say yes to everything, and it was killing me.
    Since I first had a go at this in 2015, I have come to think it is the ultimate productivity tip, and it’s free!

    How Does That Work?
    There is a bit to unpack here, so stick with me there are a few examples, and then at the end, it will make sense.

    We, I, you or whatever person you need to hear it in spend A LOT of time complaining.

    I think I’m a ‘positive thinker’, but I have noticed a lot of ‘resigned and cynical’ ways of looking at the world creep into my world.

    A negative remark disguised as an insight, ‘the only problem with London Underground…’ or ‘you would think they would…’ or  ‘Why don’t they just…?’

    Devils Advocate
    The other one is the realist or devil’s advocate, secretly stamping on ideas in case they work or change the status quo.

    I refer to my case here, when I look back long and hard at the last decade, the one thing that has kept me stuck is fear, not fear of falling off the Empire State Building or drowning in my bath.

    Fear about moving out my comfort zone.

    I got so used to the struggle, at ‘just making it’ and ‘living on the edge’ it became my preferred operating system.

    The effort of learning something new was too much, even though I would tell you I wanted to change.

    The Smart Quote
    A big part of me loathes a quote, I read hundreds every day, and I am still not sure why I lust after them.

    But here is one that I see every day, every time I open a new tab on my Google Chrome browser.
    It has been there for five years.

    “The easiest thing is to react.
    The 2nd easiest is to respond.
    But the hardest thing is to initiate.”
    Seth Godin

    Only when I sat down to write this article did the connection with complaints, reaction and the point I am making occurred to me.

    This also connects with our OuiShare Values about taking action, and part of the conversation around the action is not to sit around bitching about what other people are/are not doing.
    Think of it as a ‘be the change you want to see’ thing.

    For example, OuiShare initiated POC 21 instead of shouting at the COP 21 climate change summit.

    What Do You Mean Initiate?
    Suddenly I have all this extra time on my hands because I am not complaining.
    Of course, I am so in the habit of reacting that I have to make a concentrated effort NOT to react.

    Which feels like I walk right into a room that I don’t understand, it feels sinister, and I am uncomfortable being there.

    And here is where the ‘hardest thing to do is initiate’ kicks in for me.
    Before you think I am smart, trying to be smart or have it all worked out, I have to point out that I have been thinking about this for over five years.

    Search For Meaning
    My mate Viktor Frankl talks about the space between stimulus and response being where ‘choice’ lives.
    And that room I walk into is where my choice is; it is where I can initiate.
    With my son, I can either shout at him, which I do and then we both know I have lost, or wait and ask him questions about what we can do.
    When I am working, I can choose to set a timer and only work on that task.
    Or I can choose to ignore what works.

    Just Before You Go
    Don’t confuse this with Psycho-positive-in-denial thinking, The Secret Movie
    This article here makes my point wonderfully: 7 Popular “Self-Help Tips” That Are F**king Up Your Life.

    So my ultimate productivity tip is not a new app bit or software, it is not even a change of attitude.
    It is simply to make an effort to cut out anything that smells like a complaint and do something else instead, like take action and be the change you want to see.

    Photo by Romain Peli on Unsplash

  • One Easy Thing You Can Do To Come Alive

    I’ve always toyed with the idea of making a T-Shirt with the question ‘do you even know you are alive?’

    But am less angry with the world these days.

    As I look at the mental health of the world and my mental health I am sure being mad at people is counter productive.

    For example, the days I am pissed off with #Babybernie are the least constructive of his life.

    The best days are where I make an effort to ask questions, rather than issue demands, complaints and parking tickets. These are the days we are both rewarded with learning and harmony.

    Being pissed off

    I am forever wondering why I get pissed off.

    Think about it.

    Why do you get pissed off?

    Is it a chemical reaction?

    How often does someone do something to you?

    Here @WorkHubs I have a micro bitch about people not washing up or taking the rubbish out.

    Other people support me if I open my mouth and complain.

    But complaining does not add value to the world.

    All those little moans and squeaks I could make would be like slow drip water torture to the community.

    I always think there has to be a funnier way to inspire people to action than moaning. Besides, moaning depresses me.

    “Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

    Howard Thurman

    Come Alive

    Somewhere I read about going on a ‘no complaint diet’, Years ago I even made this a habit to develop, and this has forced me to come alive.

    So every time I get through the day without moaning, bitching, sniping, groaning, answering people back by saying ‘the only problem with is……’ etc., etc.

    I’ve got very skilled at over the years at the ‘pseudo complaint masquerading as a question’.

    I can tick a box in my productive app when I have not complained all day.

    One Easy Thing You Can Do To Come Alive?

    So that is it, not moaning makes me come alive, I am sure it will work for you too.

    The Bad News

    Look, if you are going to try this you will have to get out your comfort zone, and that will be bad news for you.

    My comfort zone for a long time was ‘I am depressed’ it was a delicious place to operate from, who dare challenge me?

    I’d got so fucking low I tried to stick a knife in my wrist one night before bed and could not even get that right.

    I ripped telephone boxes off of walls in banks when no one listened to me.

    5 minutes later everyone in the bank was hearing me loud and clear.

    I don’t know when I went on my ‘no complaint diet’ but my days started getting lighter and my thoughts clearer.

    My anxiety level plummeted.

    Every day I’d have a decision meltdown over which avocado to buy.

    And that was after I’d had a meltdown about which shop to purchase the avocado!

    I love to laugh at myself about this now.

    It is a joy to stride through my week these days. I am happening to my week rather than my whole fucking year happening to me in a week.

    But this “drama” is going on all around; I now see it in people because I know what it looks like from inside me.

    A Little Bit Every Day

    We talk a lot in our @Workhubs podcast about ‘building a little bit every day.’

    Our favourite examples are ‘The Compound Effect’ by Darren Hardy and 750words.com.

    A group of us who write together are on our way to the million word mark in 750words.com.

    This is our best story about doing a little every day and how it builds, imagine if in five years you had complained a million times less. (I know that does not work but you get what I mean!)

    No One Made Me Do It

    One day I plucked up the guts to stop complaining, no one made me do this – I just did it.

    Then I plucked up the guts to stop blaming everyone else – Even if it was their fault.

    After that, I developed the mental capacity to stop boiling everything in my head three hundred and thirty-three times.

    The constant second guessing was exhausting for me until I stopped it I had no idea how it was killing me.

    Mental Freelancers 

    I hope this little share helps you or someone near you. I read a lot in freelancer forums and other places online where people sharing the struggles with life, work and mental health.

    After being depressed I know even less what to say to people. I wish I could go back to the ‘2012 Bernie’ and help him out.

    While he would not listen to practical help I think I would say to him ‘Hang in there Bernie, you’ll be alive again soon.’

    What is making you come alive right now?

  • Never Let Me Go


    Summer 2oo2

    I was sitting in a cafe bolted to the side of a mountain in Greece, I was looking into the darkness of the night sky.

    I turned to Roy and asked him what the secret of his many years of marriage was.

    He stirred his cappuccino and replied he got a strong sense early on that Margret was never going to let it fail.

    This conversation was about 15 years ago, at that time they’d been married about 4o years.

    At the time I was in halfway between shell-shocked and reflective.

    My mother had not long since passed and my Dad spent his days walking around looking stunned and lost.

    I knew I had no idea how my Dad felt but I kept trying to guess.

    Besides, it was easier to think about his heartache because I did not have to think about mine.

    Summer 2017

    This week I was thinking about that time we were all in Greece, I was even listening to my ‘song’ from that trip.

    The song I played standing on the top of Marathon in Greece, hoping I’d find someone like Roy had. (I did BTW)

    I remember sitting at the back of the coach gazing as acres and acres of olive trees shot by.

    My ‘uplifting house and garage music’ dropped more euphoria into my head.

    The Email

    Tuesday Roy emailed that Margret had passed away.

    After 50 years of one of the most amazing marriages, I will ever know.

    Margaret died had this week and can still feel her hugs, she was one of my mums best mates.

    After my mum died every time I did something dumb I’d expect a sour look Margret would instead give out hugs.

    It taught me a lot about how we react to each other as humans.

    When I see people with signs saying “free hugs’ I think of Margret.

    When Lorena came along Margret had known her ten minutes and already it seemed like ten years.

    Never Let Me Go

    I have never stopped thinking about Roy’s reply.

    Cheeky coffees with a side of whisky or port with Roy are some of the most important words I’ve had in my life.

    I know they are important now because they have stayed with me for so long.

    For meMargaret was somewhere between Julia Child and Maria Montessori

    In the late 1970’s Margaret won a Ford Capri for being the best Tupperware party organiser in Essex.

    I never saw the car but I’ve always been both delighted and jealous.

    I love Tupperware and these days I’d love to have Ford Capri more than ever.



  • This Year Something Was Different

    I know you’ve been crying into your tissue sodden hand for the last week when this blog did not arrive.
    Sorry, but, well, you know bloody Christmas happened so I took full advantage of the hysteria.

    This year something was different.
    I dread this time of year, I was bracing myself to plunge back into a God-forsaken pit of despair and depression and it never arrived.
    Every day I have woken up and double checked I am in the right life, right family and right blog.

    I love therapy and therapy loves me
    I started to feel better in 2016 I was ready to give up therapy on Tuesday afternoons.
    I had a couple of drab sessions and then BANG – we started talking about topics I’d thought about every day of my life.
    Long ago thinking about these things had become a habit, routine, and unresolved like a dripping tap you can’t find in a very quiet house.

    Now I am encouraged
    In the second half of 2016, I looked forward to being with people for the first time in years.
    My mouth, head, heart and physical location started to be synced for the first time since I was a child.
    I could not wait to get up in the morning.

    Who Has Time To Panic?
    The anxiety, the panic, the dread, the idea of sticking one of our Argentine steak knives into my wrist, of jumping in front of the 66 bus as it thundered down the A-12 or leaping in front of a central line train at Liverpool Street just melted away sometime in 2016 and never came back.

    So What Did I do?
    Everyone asks this. “Bernie what was the one thing that made the difference?”
    I hesitate, giving advice with a sense of “this will make the change you need” is an arsehole thing to do.
    The good people who give direct advice will always take the time to highlight that “you need to do the work, not flick a switch.”
    I am still doing the work and I would say the ONE THING I did was to work out HOW to do the work.
    This WAS the hard bit.

    Doing The Work – Never Ends.
    In order to be able to do the work, which I might add will NEVER END, I had to find more time and the best way to find more time was to shut up.
    I started asking questions rather than TELLING people.
    (I Still TELL people – if you catch me doing it punch me.)
    Please don’t tell anyone but the main reason I do a weekly newsletter and write blogs is so I talk less in real life.

    Parrot Fashion
    I was more than a little horrified at how much of my conversation was me TELLING people what I had just read in a blog or book, followed shortly by an app recommendation.
    There are things that I consider important, call them principles or values, and I repeat the words of others because I don’t feel I can make up my own version.
    So I needed to get my own version.

    Everyone Has A Plan Until They Get Hit In The Mouth – Mike Tyson
    In September, I started reading the “12 Week Year” book that advocates planning in 12 Week chunks.
    So a week is worth a month and a day is worth a week.
    Since September I have read part of this book every day, I did miss a couple of days!
    There was my grand plan, I got hit in the face, had a couple of weeks of ‘Groundhog Day’ and-and-and-and “suddenly” time passed and everything was working.

    So Are We Done Here?
    No, we are not done. January 1st, 2017 is the first day of my third round of 12 Weeks.
    If someone asks me what I do this year I will say “I am a freelance writer” – I’ve got clients, customers and everything.
    I knew this earlier in 2016 and spent a few months dicking around and trying to run away from this “writer thing” I have always wanted to be.
    I am addicted, inspired, I’ve found my grit and know what I am doing every hour of every day.
    2016? This year something was different, I don’t know where it started but I know where it ended and I loved it.

    Three things I stuck to this year that I recommend with cast iron confidence.
    1. 12 Week Year- The Book
    2. Rainmaker Platform – WordPress Website with a blog, email, podcast, and online course building. Also, includes ongoing training and tech support.
    3. Fizzle – Online learning community for Indy workers, freelancers and micro businesses.