Saturday, 29 June 2013

Procrastination is linked to low self-esteem

I came across an article today, I can't remember where, which linked a tendency to procrastinate with low self-esteem. And just like that, a light bulb went off over my head.

I've been a procrastinator for about 15 years, so not all my life but definitely most of my adult life, and it's taken me until today to realise that I do this for 2 reasons:

1. Deep down I don't think I have the right skills or the ability to do "it".
2. If I put "it" off then I won't fail.

And just like that, it's clear I'm a bit of a perfectionist who doesn't actually think that much of myself.

But where does procrastination really get me? It certainly doesn't drive me forwards. Instead, it keeps me stuck in a cycle of feeling rubbish about myself. I procrastinate - I feel I've achieved nothing - I'm hard on myself for wasting time and for being a low achiever - I procrastinate some more. How have I never realised this before?

Years of procrastinating is never going to go away just like that. It's a deeply ingrained habit which means I'm going to have to actively work to break away from it.

I have to admit that thought's a bit scary! I already knew there were other elements in my life that need some real work on them and they're elements that I don't consider small.

For example: my diet is appalling and needs a complete overhaul. It's high in sugar, and probably fat, and low in fruit and vegetables. Then, there's my activity levels; I don't exercise. At all.

Add to that the permanent feeling of exhaustion which hits once the boys are in bed and I finally have the chance to just sit and "be".

So, yes, I'm feeling overwhelmed and not really sure where or how to start. It all feels so big, too much, you know?

There's a lot of hints and tips on the internet about ways to stop procrastinating and I'm not going to include them all here. But here's a few, which I think will particularly work for me:

1.  Take some time out to regroup and think about what you want to achieve. I've got so much going on in my head that I think it would be really useful to take a little time to clarify what's important to me and what I need to do to get there.

2. Break your work into little steps, then focus on one part at a time. If, after breaking it down, you still procrastinate then break it down even further.

3. Don't make it easy to procrastinate. Get rid of the distractions around you. For me, this means stepping away from the internet and switching the tv off!

4. Stop over-complicating things. There is no perfect time and there are no perfect people.

5. Get a grip and just do it. No-one has ever procrastinated their way to success. It all comes down to taking action. Without this, nothing's going to happen.
Are you guilty of procrastination? What techniques do you use to make sure you get things done? Please let me know in the comments as I'd love to know.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Wanted: Guest Posts

The 50 Most Inspirational Quotes For Women Of All Time
It's been a while since I've run a themed series of posts on my blog and I'm liking the idea of spending some time focusing on who our personal "A Hell Of A Woman" is and why. I think it will be really interesting to read about the women that inspire us and I'd like it to feel like a celebration of womankind.

The only rules I have are as follows:
  • You must write about a female role model
  • Fictional characters are included
  • You must explain why that person is your role model
I'm happy to accept serious and light-hearted posts; just write from your heart and in your own personal style.

If you're interested in getting involved then please get in touch in one of the following ways:
  • Leave a comment
  • Tweet me 
  • Send me an email to ahellofawoman [at] gmail [dot] com

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Parenting small children is relentless

When the boys were babies and I took them to groups or to meet up with friends, I never felt that I was allowed to talk about any of the things I found difficult. There seemed to be some kind of unspoken rule that if you admitted that parenting wasn't how you thought it would be then you must be a BAD parent. So I glossed over the exhaustion and how significantly my life had changed and how I felt quite adrift from myself and as a result, no-one knew I was struggling.

Today though,  at the park, I bumped into a woman I've met a few times over the years, and her 2 boys, who are a similar age to mine and we starting chatting about our experiences of being a parent. I'm still thinking about our conversation now, not because it was particularly insightful or inspiring, but because it was honest.

I won't bore you with our personal tales of woe. What it all boiled down to is this; parenting small children is relentless. And you know what, it's okay to say that. It doesn't mean that you don't love your children or you wish you weren't a parent. It is what it is.

It felt so good to speak with someone that understood and who agreed that being a parent isn't a bed of roses. There was no judgement, no criticism, no condescension. Neither of us are perfect but we're doing the best we can and we're not alone. And that knowledge builds further faith in our parenting abilities.

Being a parent is TOUGH. This is the hardest "job" I've ever don. But as long as I can admit that, I don't think I can go too far wrong.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Feeling sidelined at work

I've worked for the same Company for 14 years. It was only ever intended as a stepping stone, something to get me earning, until I found my "DREAM JOB" except I never actually took that step and the longer I'm there, the harder it is to even consider leaving.

I'm sure plenty of you have told yourselves similar things to this at some point: The people are great, the benefits package is good, it's secure and even though I don't particularly like it, I am good at what I do. Logic says it makes sense to stay there. Emotionally, it's just another thing that makes me feel as though I'm losing myself.

With that in mind, I'm finding it hard to understand why I feel so frustrated that I'm being sidelined at work. It's not like it hasn't been obvious for more than a few years now that because I've worked in the same department for so long and because I'm trusted and reliable, I'm seen as a part of the furniture. I've seen the people I've trained move on to more responsibility and promotion while I'm constantly overlooked. For a while that didn't bother me because work wasn't a priority, starting a family was.

But since returning from maternity leave, I think it annoys me so much more because it's now blatantly down to the fact that I don't work 5 days a week. All my good work and best efforts basically count for nothing because my line managers are stuck in a mind warp which says you are only a valid employee if you are a visible presence in the office every day.

Before you say it, it's not paranoia. I've been told to my face that I'll never be considered for promotion because I'm not full-time. And considering I'm doing something that is nothing at all like my teenage self imagined I'd be doing, I just don't understand why I care.

Funnily enough, my job is all about putting things right for people and making sure they get the right outcome and because I have quite a strong sense of justice, I do believe in what I'm doing. So that makes me think the reason I'm so frustrated is not necessarily because I'm desperate for promotion but because I feel I'm being treated unfairly. That certainly sounds more likely.

So what am I going to do about it? You know, I don't know and I think this is why work takes up so much of my head space. I don't want to care about it because I still want to believe that my perfect job is out there somewhere and if I care about it, I'm worried that's another step towards NEVER LEAVING. But who wants to work somewhere where their contribution is undervalued? How soul destroying is that?

Tell me Readers, how would you deal with a situation like this?

Monday, 24 June 2013

I've had a revamp

I've been feeling in a bit of a blogging rut lately and a bit "meh, what's the point" so last night, I decided to change the look of my blog. I'm hoping the lighter colours and new layout will inspire me to write a lot more.

I know the title of my blog "A Hell Of A Woman" probably seems at odds with the graphic of the tired girl, head slumped in arms, up there in the corner but it felt particularly apt to me. I may be that tired girl at the moment but one day, I will be more. I will be a hell of a woman. It's just taking a little longer than I expected.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Review: Mortal Ties by Eileen Wilks

MORTAL TIES (A Novel of the Lupi)
By Eileen Wilks


PUBLISHED: 14 February 2013

GENRE: Fantasy / Paranormal Romance

FBI Agent Lily Yu is living at Nokolai Clanhome with her fiance, lupi Rule Turner, when an intruder penetrates their territory, stealing the prototype of a magical device the clan hopes will be worth a fortune - if a few bugs can be worked out ...

But the prototype can be dangerously erratic, discharging a bizarre form of mind-magic - and it looks like the thief wants it for that very side effect. Worse, whoever stole the device didn't learn about it by accident. There's a Nokolai traitor in their midst.

As they race to recover their missing property, they find Robert Friar's sticky footprints all over the place. Robert Friar - killer, madman, and acolyte of the Old One the lupi are at ware with ... an Old One whose power is almost as vast as her ambition to rock the entire world.


This is the 9th installment of Wilks' Lupi series and I LOVED it! I was hooked from the opening sentence:
"Lily Yu hadn't planned to visit a graveyard at sunset. It just worked out that way".
The tone and writing was consistent. The characters were wonderful and the story was convincing and moved along nicely. 

But far and away the best thing about this book was Lily and Rule's relationship. I'm so used to reading about relationships in fantasy novels where the couple are opposites or one of them has more power than the other that it was really wonderful reading about Lily and Rule. Their relationship is balanced and one of equals. They work well together and are understanding and respectful of each other. I actually felt like it was a relationship to aspire to.

There were some great moments in this book and some lovely subtle humour. I also enjoyed the references to Chinese culture, even  though I still don't know the difference between a friend of the fifth degree and a friend of the third degree! 

Here's one of my favourite quotes:
"Lily didn't ask if any of those outside had survived. Tigers, Grandmother had said once, see no point in disabling an enemy".
The only problem I had was that I kept forgetting the prototype wasn't a type of magical raygun! That was the image that kept popping into my head whenever it was mentioned and as a result, I found it hard to picture the prototype as it should be, contained within a skull. That is such a minor, minor point though!

I had never heard of the Lupi series before I read this book but I will definitely be reading the series from the very beginning now.

I really do think everyone should have a bit of Lily and Rule in their lives.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Review: Shadow Rising by Yasmine Galenorn

SHADOW RISING (The Otherworld Series)
by Yasmine Galenorn


PUBLISHED: 14 February 2013

GENRE: Fantasy / Paranormal Romance

We're the D'Artigo sisters; savvy half-human, half-Fae ex-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. My sister Camille is a wicked-good witch with three sexy husbands. My sister Delilah is a two-faced werecat and Death Maiden. And me? I'm Menolly, a jian-tu turned vampire in love with a wildly hot werepuma. Unfortunately, life is about to get very, very nasty ...

Nerissa and I can't decide what we want to do for our promise ceremony and we're bickering like an old married couple. My sisters and I head to Otherworld for a meeting with Queen Asteria. Once there, we discover that Shadow Wing has dispatched Telazhar - a malevolent necromancer - to reignite the Scorching Wars. And as soon as we return home, we find Gulakah, the Lord of Ghosts, waging a battle to control the magical beings over Earthside. Caught between two terrible enemies in a battle spanning two worlds, we can only hope we're in time to stop all-out annihilation.


I had my first brush with Yasmine Galenorn's writing when I was given the chance to review Night Seeker (Indigo Court #3) last year. Having thoroughly enjoyed jumping into the middle of her Indigo Court series, I wasn't overly concerned that my first encounter with Galenorn's Otherworld series was not going to be from the very beginning and I'm pleased to say I was not disappointed.

I soon noticed there are a LOT of characters to remember and as a total novice to the Otherworld, I did find this tricky. There were also references to characters and terminology which would have had more meaning to those readers that have been with the series from the beginning but which I did not always immediately understand. But, never fear, Galenorn has very helpfully provided a cast list and glossary at the back of the book! I only wish I'd realised that sooner!

I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone so all I'll say is that a lot happens! For me, it didn't always flow naturally but considering it's set in a well-established World with a variety of strong characters; each with their own strengths and weaknesses, I was happy to overlook this.

As much as I enjoyed reading the story from Mennolly's point of view, I have to admit I quickly tired of the terms of endearment that her and Nerissa seem to use in every sentence that they speak to each other. Describing each other as "love" and "my sweet" didn't work for me, as I don't think anyone refers to their other half in this way, do they? It certainly sounded awkward to me. Anyway, I realise that probably sounds quite petty but I think it's why I didn't feel particularly invested in their relationship. I wonder whether I would feel the same if I had read the previous books first?

There are a whole host of other characters, not just the D'Artigo sisters themselves, and one of the stand-outs for me was Carter, half-demon, half-Titan, and Leader of the Demonica Vacana Society. But there really is such a mix of characters that I imagine everyone will have someone different that spikes their interest.

And finally, just as with Night Seeker, I can't review this book without mentioning the sex scene with a bitter-sweet ending between Mennolly, Nerissa and Roman. Although to be honest, I am more interested to see how the relationships will evolve now that Mennolly has ties to Blood Wyne herself, and not just Roman.

Overall, and I know I said this last time, I can honestly say I really enjoyed this book and I would definitely read more from Yasmine Galenorn.
Read this if: ... you've read the previous books in the Otherworld series, you like your fantasy with more than just vampires and werewolves, and you like stories which include a strong family dynamic

Don't read this if ... you object to same-sex/polygamous relationships, or if you like a more light-hearted form of fantasy.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Game of Thrones: Season 3: Episode 9: The Rains of Castamere


Oh Game of Thrones, you have broken my heart! Never has a tv series taken me on such an emotional journey in one episode and never have I been left with no idea of what can possibly happen next.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that knew, as soon as Robb Stark's wife told him she was pregnant, and it was apparent what joy the news brought him, that something terrible was going to happen to him. Then when Melisandre appears to use her magic to curse Robb, Balon Greyjoy and Joffrey Baratheon, it was clear his fate was sealed.

But even that knowledge couldn't prepare me for this week's episode:

  • Talisa brutally stabbed over and over in her stomach. 
  • Robb, wounded by crossbow bolts, distraught, lost and finally stabbed.
  • Catelyn, desperately trying to save her oldest son only to be driven mad by grief and pain, before her throat is slit.
  • Grey Wind, Robb's direwolf, caged and killed.
  • The Northern Army destroyed.
  • Arya, who sees everything but can do nothing, and had been so close to being reunited with her mother and brother.


It was horrifying, vicious and brutal. I held my breath from the moment the doors to Walder Frey's banquet hall closed until the three Starks lay dead. When Grey Wind took his last breath, looked at Arya, and then closed his eyes, I finally started to cry. The fact that thinking about it a day later still makes my eyes well up is a testament to how truly fantastic this show is. Seriously, if you don't watch Game of Thrones, you should be.

So all you Jon Snow lovers, look away now while the rest of us take a moment to indulge in a few pictures of the delicious Richard Madden and his alterego, Robb Stark:


Stacking the shelves

I recently discovered the Stacking The Shelves meme that was launched by Tynga's Reviews back in 2012. It's all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, whether they are bought from an actual shop, online, are borrowed from friends or the library, have been given to you for review or as a gift and also includes ebooks!

As you can already find a list of books that I'm in the process of reading for review purposes here, I've decided to share the books that I've bought for myself over the last, erm, 8 months and which I'm sure I'll find an opportunity to read soon!

Top of the list, and by one of my all-time favourite authors, are:


 Then it's anyone's guess which order I'll be reading these in:

I think I read a Rachel Vincent book a few years back but apart from that, I have no experience of any of these authors. I'm particularly looking forwards to Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, which sounds like it will be a very British version of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and also to John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things because I genuinely have no idea what to expect from it.

If you want to take part in Stacking the Shelves, I've included the guidelines set by Tynga's Reviews below:

  • Create your own Stacking The Shelves post. You can use the official graphic or your own, but please link back to Tynga’s Reviews so more people can join the fun!
  • You can set your post any way you want, simple book list, covers, pictures, vlog, the sky is the limit!
  • Don't forget to visit the other participants and see what's on their shelves.

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