Tag Archives: happiness

The Year Of Resolve & The Hunt For The Holy Grail


My hard-fought shot of the elusive Okarito Kiwi

Out on the wild west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, there’s a wee place at the edge called Okarito. It is beautiful, mostly beach and bush, and it hides the Holy Grail – its own species of brown kiwi (smaller than a unicorn but larger than a dragon’s egg), along with a guide who’s actually sanctioned by DOC to help people catch sight of the elusive critter. I was there only a couple of magic days and mysterious nights, but it pretty much summed up the year for me: I was on a mission.

The guided tour to see the country’s most famous resident was fully booked, but never one to say never, I took myself out into the bush in the middle of the night to find one for myself. The maiden voyage saw me venturing out with an elite team of highly-trained explorers (a pair of likeminded souls who fancied the thrill of the mythical chase, highly skilled in the art of Googling a kiwi’s call before braving the dark). The second night, I went solo. It was same, same, but different. Same – in that the kiwi avoided me, not even so much as calling out to tease at it had on the first expedition. Different – in that I’d forgotten I was terrified of possums and had no one to giggle with nervously in the pitch black when they swooped out of the forest to eat me alive (wait, that was the sandflies; the possums stood there and tried to put the evil eye on me. Sneakier than direct attack.)

I’d driven past the sign to Okarito more than once, distracted by the monumental glaciers to its right. But I was so glad I finally found it and its beautiful beach house. During the days, I filled the wait for kiwi O’clock with other things. Like cycling Enid along the empty roads, visiting Andris Apse’s home to see his beautiful gallery and learn his incredible story, climbing the Trig, walking on the beach to watch the sun set behind the headland, and sailing the lagoon.

There were other things to see. Life went on. Life turned up. In the dark, I didn’t just dodge the perilous possums, I saw glowworms blinking in the black, and I could only see them because the lights were out. On the lagoon, I saw the kind of mirrored reflections I thought could only exist in paintings. I took a boat tour with Franz Josef Glacier, Mt Cook and Mt Tasman as a backdrop, and though I didn’t see a kiwi in Okarito, a startling array of other birdlife popped by to say hello, including tui, oyster catchers, black swans & their cygnets, a great white heron and a bunch of bar-tailed godwits. These guys fly about ten days straight from Alaska without stopping or eating just to hang out there – the least I could do was be happy to see them.

And, while I didn’t sight the Holy Grail of mythical creatures, hearing the kiwi call gave me hope. They are out there – fighting outrageous odds, given the invasion of their lands by forces of evil committed to their extinction (that’d be those possums again). Now I know where the sign is. And the guide (whose services I’d recommend, having cornered him in his own home to demand photographic evidence, ending up discussing my quest at length while his cup of tea got cold). I’ll be back.

This time last year, I was down. But I wasn’t out. I’d lost something precious. But I was on a mission. A mission to hunt happiness – that elusive Holy Grail that life’s possums are always trying to do away with. So I didn’t indulge too far my sorrow for that which was gone. I didn’t turn my face only backward to mourn or only forward to search for a distant date when I would feel better and could begin to have a ball again (it was something like May 7th). I turned my face from side to side and looked all around. And even though Happiness didn’t magically, immediately appear, I saw beauty in the moments I did so. Life went on. I went out and lapped it up. I laughed. I faked it for a time, sure. But this year just gone, I fell in love again. I fell in love with the life all around me – and my own life just as it is, looking to no one else to make it amazing except myself. (It helped that the mountains saw snow the likes of which hadn’t been boarded in several seasons.)

This year I have seen lambs genuinely frolicking – hopping and skipping like bizarre ballet dancers. Fish jumping, like funny jack-in-the-boxes. Baby seals paddling, a waterfall their playpen. I have heard tui warbling and kiwi calling, waves lapping and wind howling. I’ve smelt the smoke of campfires and courageous cooking. I’ve tasted salt in the sea breeze and touched sand and snow, rock and rain.

Are you a new year’s resolutions kind of person? I am. And I usually win at them. But last year, I had to start below scratch and resolve just to find some resolve. It’s there if you want to hunt it down – just dig deep.

It’s a new year. A lot of us are looking at fresh starts (whether we wanted them or not). Find your resolve. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. And don’t just look back or forward – look around you. Appreciate what you see. And see the signs. Take the turns. Hope will be there. And magic might happen.

A moment of reflection in Okarito

A moment of reflection in Okarito

Happiness Is…


Most people who know me (and, at this juncture, many people who don’t know me at all) have an inkling that I’ve got a lot of love for Instagram.

Getting my first touch-screen phone with a passable camera (which only happened last September – judge away!) made it possible for me jump on the bandwagon, and I’ve been a happy addict ever since. During a darkish time, it motivated me to find a bit of beauty in every single day – it got me outdoors in search of moments I didn’t just want to memorise, but play with and publish with a line that would remind me of what it really looked like, how it really felt.

Social media sometimes gets a bad rap. We’re saturated with images, memes, gifs… smart-ass comments, shares and over-shares… But you can’t deny that amongst the plethora of posts out there, some can be provoking. Some can be show-stopping. Some can reach out a hand and hold your heart, even lift it, spiral it to new heights.

Often, I’m in search of a smile. Often, I have one person in mind in whom I think a post might provoke that delightful lilt to the lips. And that makes sharing worth it for me. It’s not about courting your envy or inspiring your awe – it’s about inviting you in. It’s me shouting a greeting: I wish you were here. It’s beautiful. I wish you could see what I see.

So, since I’m back sharing here, I thought I’d invite you to smile at a recent, in-progress Instagram series of mine: Happiness is…

One thing to note: They’re not really pictures of snowboarders or mountains or lakes I’ve seen or book I’ve written. They are posts about passion. Whether with words or phone-photography, I’d love to provoke someone somewhere to find a moment of passionate engagement with something, with anything. A moment that makes them pause, that makes them smile, that makes them think: Happiness is… this.

11402678_10101337395520820_9056833985631954804_nHappiness is: Snow, sunshine, stories, and overhearing conversations that make you smile


Happiness is: Driving leisurely, singing loudly, pausing frequently.. because it’s so damn beautiful turning corners is a hazard


Happiness is: Crashing a roadtrip to ride new snow


Happiness is: Playing out of bounds


Happiness is: When you make the mountain your office and your snowboard your escape


Happiness is: Being published. Won’t ever get bored of seeing my novel on a bookshop shelf 🙂


Happiness is: When the cloud clears, and you remember you can fly


Happiness is: Snowboard on, earphones in, hangover gone


Happiness is: Riding to the beat of your racing heart

What is your happiness? Where is your happiness? Find it; treasure it; share it.

Follow me on Instagram: Sara Litchfield

Pride & Projection


‘A true friend stabs you in the front’

– Oscar Wilde

Before I say anything meaningful, I just want to shout out a couple of things: 1. I love the fact that googling images for projection lead me to discover Doug Savage and www.savagechickens.com – amazing. 2. I didn’t hit my Monday evening self-imposed deadline last night because I was feeling grumpy (it can happen however happy life is) and I didn’t want to publish any grumpiness. It’s rather against the spirit of a hopeful / happy blog :p That’s not to say we can’t talk about negative things, though. I just think it’s important to talk about negative things with a positive attitude.

I’m glad that there are so many funny things and funny friends in the world to lift you out of grump when you find yourself there. My best friend (since we were sevenish!) has always been one of them. Let’s call her Amster. She wrote me a lovely well-wishing email a while back with congrats on the blog and business and a suggestion for a potential post – and here it is!

The best friends are not necessarily the ones who agree with everything we say and do. Nor are they the ones who disagree with us, but support us blindly regardless of their opinion (though this can be nice!). The best of friends are the ones who are capable of challenging us and confronting us – the ones from whom we can take constructive criticism because it comes out of care.

Even when a comment comes out of care, however, it can be difficult to swallow. It’s so easy to put someone’s back up and push them on the defensive. That’s because you’re threatening them – who they are; what they’re doing; why they’re doing it. And sometimes it’s worth asking yourself why you have something to say about it. Why have they made you critical? Is it because they’ve made you uncomfortable?

Amster become increasingly frustrated with me after I left my life in London. I didn’t know what I wanted to do – just that I didn’t want to do what I had been doing. And so I drifted. I had a lot of fun. I travelled. I read. I wrote. But without much direction or purpose. I suffered from inertia. I didn’t want to be captured back into the life I had before, but I still needed to make a living. And I wanted to make it doing something I loved, but my pipe-dream plans were all half-formed and half-followed-through. As I pondered this, I floundered somewhat. At the same time, however, I felt like it would all come good. I’d find my calling and sort my life out. It was just too early to find out what that life would be.

This was a source of contention for my friend. Why couldn’t I just sort my life out now? Why was I floating through this inertia? Why wasn’t I just figuring it all out and fixing it? I needed the time I took, even though I didn’t know then where it was taking me. Amster was on the brink of bringing it up and harassing me about it. She was goaded by my choices to the point of being about to ‘have a go.’ It would have come out of care, but I know that I would have reacted badly. I would have gone on the defensive out of pride. This would partly be because of the truth in her frustration – I did have an underlying worry that I wasn’t doing enough to get on the right path. I was just going with it – and now I’m glad. At the time, however, I didn’t have the confidence to have endured the knock of an attack from an ally. I needed the support I was getting. It wouldn’t have gone well.

What did happen was much more interesting. Amster paused for thought and asked herself why she was so annoyed. She realised that the reason for her frustration was that my life was reflecting hers back at her. She was doing much the same thing – being inert; being unsure; not making progress. She realised that just because she was doing it from a position of relative security, it didn’t make it less of a pain. And she was about to take that pain out on me. Because of her epiphany, however, she didn’t. And we ended up with dialogue instead of diatribe.

This was a thousand times more motivating. We made a plan. We promised to keep each other up to date and cheer each other on. We pushed each other on and pulled each other up. We achieved big changes. We made great progress. We came closer to our dreams because we became more conscious of our thoughts, feelings and actions. We held each other accountable.

We still do all of these things and it’s a source of never-ending happiness for me. I am never alone. I can share my failures along with my triumphs. I can criticise and receive criticism – I know it comes out of care. I also know that it is carefully considered.

Who is annoying you right now? Who is putting you on the defensive; paining you; causing you to bite your tongue to the point that you’re coming close to biting their head off? Now pause for thought. Before you let out your frustration, ask yourself why you feel frustrated. Is it them? Or might it be you? It could be both.

I’m not saying, if you can’t say something nice – don’t say nothing at all (though that can be a good lesson, thanks Thumper). Rather, if you can’t say something nice – wonder why. And if you have some constructive criticism – deliver it in context. This is how the best friendships foster.

Home Sweet Home


‘Home is where the heart is’ – Pliny

There are so many things to be happy about at the moment. I don’t think that happiness is necessarily a fully-formed destination – it can be found in the excitement of what could be, what can be and what will be. I’m happy not just because of things that are but because of a lot of things that are going to be.

I’m moving house next month (expect a painful post about packing). Unlike the last few times I’ve moved, this is to be a home. We dreamt up what we would love to live in and, somehow, somewhere not too far from town but a world away, it appeared (pictured). It’s beyond our wildest; so much so that I fear Rumpelstiltskin may rock up to claim my firstborn. It’s a log cabin up a mountain; log fire inside and views to die for from the grounds outside, secluded by and surrounded with forest. I’m going to write my first book here. This is the place I’ll build up my business from its budding beginning and this is the place I’ll plan to publish, surrounded by the love of those I live with and a thousand trees. I’m not there yet, but I’m over the moon just thinking about it. I’m going to move mountains. And grow vegetables.

It’s a very exciting time to be a writer. I’m actually happy to be pre-published because there are so many people sharing their trials and tribulations in this new tumultuous era of publishing. Their teachings give you the opportunity to do it right and avoid the mistakes you might make if you were going it alone and unaided. I’m finding as many helpers on the path to happiness as there are trees in the wood around my home-to-be.

As much as I’ll be happy to be running a well-established, successful business and be a popular, prolific author, and as much as I’d love to be living in my dreamy cottage right now, it’s happiness to be on the road en route to all of these things. There’s excitement in the anticipation and in each and every accomplishment along the way.

You may not see your life as wholly happy and picture perfect until you’ve made it where you want to be. But is there any one thing you could change, any small step you could take, that would put you further along the exciting path to happiness? Knowing you’re going to get there is a happiness in itself.

What If You Hate Facebook? Are You DOOMED?

A post that has caught my attention and my opinion today!

Luckily, I’ve always been a big fan of Facebook! I was at Cambridge when it first crept over to the UK and it’s been amazing to witness the explosion. A few things that have made me *love* Facebook:

1. I lost my wallet with my life inside. Someone found it and looked me up on Facebook from my ID to make contact. They returned it to me for free (not just without ransom but without postage costs).

2. I was robbed. I had just moved house, so my hard drive with every digital photo I’d ever taken backed up from my laptop was in the same case as my laptop. The case left with the robbers (who didn’t just pick my lock but kicked my door off it’s hinges). Thankfully, I’m a keen photo-album sharer and, while I lost a lot of pics and oh yes, a lot of work I’d done too, I didn’t lose one snap I valued that dated after the start of Facebook.

3. I’ve never done a ‘Facebook cull.’ And it is incredible and delightful to discover who is interested in what I’m doing, now that I’ve revealed my writer/editor alter-ego on Facebook. It’s not necessarily the people you’d expect that have been in touch with encouragement and comment since I’ve launched on social media. And through friends and friends of friends, I’ve found a wealth of valuable advice, connection and support.

It is super easy to focus on the negative aspects of Facebook and of any social media. For me and for many, the positives far outweigh the crimes. Kristen – as you talk about in your book, it’s easy for people to train themselves to ignore the white noise around the edges. Like many people, I just don’t acknowledge or engage with the ads and automated promo that’s there, however in your face it is – I don’t even see it. What I do see is the value of being able to communicate publicly and privately through words / pictures / videos / song / dance with the world – with a community. I’m not one of those people who thinks it’s not worth being ‘friends’ with people you’ve lost touch with in ‘real life’ just because you don’t see them any more. You have the gift of still being in touch with so many people *because* of Facebook. It’s amazing what these people are doing. I’m so happy there is a forum that tells me stuff about them – both that which I seek to know and that which I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Long live Facebook!

Bella, Breaking Down & Bouncing Back


‘Hah, is that the van? No wonder it took you an age to sell…’

– Kate Litchfield

I sure have learnt a lot about motor vehicles in the year since I bought my first, a second-hand (/tenth-hand?) van we called Bella. Actually, much of what I learnt was discovered in the first month. I judged this book by its cover. Thrilled by the prospect of nesting in the roomy back area during our travels, I neglected to realise that while living in her would be a dream, getting anywhere would be a nightmare. The hole in the exhaust and oil leak were one issue and the problems with the brakes and the flange (this is a real thing) were another. Add to that the corroded spark plugs that were passed over in the basic service she received (to see if we could take her through the desert – the answer being a resounding ‘no’) and the issue with the alternator (not the battery), and we had a gas-guzzling hole in our pocket on our hands. But it was still a wonderful adventure along the coast of Oz and, from throwing a flat in the wilderness on our first day to spluttering out while a potential buyer test drove her on one of our last, Bella made it all the more adventurous.
Last week, we had some old Sydney friends to visit, who had known Bella back in the day. We took them on an impromptu road-trip to chase the last of the season’s fresh powder dumps, a few hours north. Our trusty chariot, Charlie, took us within a few hundred metres of the steep, snowy summit before simultaneously throwing off a freshly broken snow-chain and presenting us with a flat tyre. Very much stuck, we slid back out the way to watch fellow excitable snow-fans pass us, stealing our first lifts and making the fresh tracks that had had our names on them.
So, having removed one of the back tyres, using our heinous jack with a shifter in place of a handle, we put it on the front in place of the flat so we could rechain it, one of us having hitched to the top and back again to have the chain fixed. This meant the questionable spare tyre could sit on the back. Then, finally, we made it up! And the snow was everything we had hoped for.
On the way back down, the spare tyre blew. I kid you not. We spent the evening crawling on the flat along the deserted mountain road towards the nearest town, eventually managing to send one of our number ahead, hitching with the original flat tyre to drag the local mechanic out of the pub to patch it up. Then, finally, we made it home! And boy, we had a story to tell.
There are a few morals in all of this. One: what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and wiser (or at least funnier). Two: never judge a book by its cover – check under the hood. And three: there is nothing so valuable as a good attitude. We could have let Bella ruin our Ozzie east coast trip, instead, we took every knock as it came, often nervously, at the end bankruptly, but nonetheless with good humour and the ability to see a learning experience for what it was. We could have let Charlie ruin our powder day – one of the troop throwing teddies out the pram and having a tantrum at missing the first few hours in the snow could have soured the day for all of us. Instead, we pulled together and shifted, seeing the hilarious in the disastrous.
So, I ask you, what’s gone stupidly wrong lately? With obvious exceptions, does it really have to ruin your day/month/life? Or, if faced with the right attitude, down the road, could it be a lesson learned and a funny story – a shared experience you remember with a rueful smile? I hope at least that my car trouble made you chuckle. Do share your own stories so we can all offer you sympathy/smiles – a different perspective makes our problems easier to bear.

Fishing & Wishing


‘If wishes were fishes, there’d be no room in the river for water’

– Russian Proverb

I’m very much looking forward to the forthcoming fishing season over here. Winter is drawing to a close and the promise beckons of longer days and sunny weekends away. I’ll miss the snow and be sad to be putting aside my board and boots… But I’m happy to be picking up a rod and net in the near future. I experienced my first fishing season and took on the role of Fishing Support last summer, pattering around after my partner in brine. I enjoyed freshly-caught and campfire-cooked salmon and trout in reward for perching peacefully in spots including those pictured above, a book in one hand and a net in the other, poised for action. I found fishing surprisingly exciting and deliciously rewarding last season, I’m eager for more of the same.

And now for the metaphors. There were many days we fished away, only to come back with nothing – lost lures and broken lines the only achievements. There were other days we made the catch, only for the critter to get away. On each and every day, there was little point standing still, hoping for a nibble. It was necessary to cast and recast; wander and reposition; cast and recast. There was actually much more movement involved than I had anticipated, which meant, along the way, I discovered beautiful places I  would otherwise never have seen. And such is life. Wishes are like fishes and if we hope for a wish to come true, we need to be moving; casting and recasting; not giving up, regardless of the lost lines and the fish that got away. We won’t always come away empty-handed if we persevere.

A wish is a hope. A hope is a dream. A dream is a possibility. It’s possible because you’ve imagined it. What do you wish for? Don’t just wish for a fish – go fish for it.

Fear & Coasting


‘The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.’

H. P. Lovecraft

I didn’t know much about phobias until very recently. I knew that my mum has one (the Sssss-word) and I knew a couple of others of old who were/are sufferers (banana skins and balloons, respectively). I once went to a phobia-themed party, where I dressed as a spider (yes, I know, original – but I did make myself 8 legs) and discovered there were phobias I didn’t even know existed, telephonophobia among them. I’ve lately learnt a little more about phobias because a friend who used to have a phobia of spiders, to the point of passing out upon seeing one, told me the story of how she overcame it and explained to me the difference between phobias and fears.

A fear is one thing. A phobia is another. Anyone can look this up for themselves (thanks Google) and also find out how many people do not seek to conquer their condition. Some think it’s not a ‘real’ problem and aren’t that bothered by it day-to-day; some think that it’s not treatable or not worth the treatment; and others feel that it’s an embarrassment, not an ailment. Some don’t believe that conquering their phobia is possible. The same can be said about life’s fears. It is easy to coast along in life, driven by our desires and avoiding where possible our fears – letting both rule us. Where this is most damaging is where we let a fear of failure hold us back from trying, where we let a fear of falling hold us down, stopping us from scaling the dizzying heights of success that are possible if we believe they are – if we’d just try and reach for them.

I used to have a fear of freedom, while desiring it desperately at the same time. It’s so easy to coast along, avoiding the uncertainty that freedom offers. If you free yourself from your fears, however, you can take with both hands everything life has to offer. And you can really enjoy it. I overcame my fear of freedom by shedding the comfort of my constraints and embracing what is possible in the present. If you live for the happiness and the goodness of now, there’s no need to fear the future.

My friend overcame her phobia of spiders by visiting a hypnotherapist, investigating the root of her environmental fear conditioning and coming to terms with it. My questions this week (and do feel free to answer them – comment or contact me!): What do you fear? Why? No, really – why? And what can you do to conquer it? This doesn’t count for cockroaches, by the way – terrifying devil-creatures. I see one, I’m running.

Tea, Cake & Inspiration


‘If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.’

Lewis Caroll – Alice in Wonderland

You are all cordially invited to a global tea party. Here in my head, as at the Hatter’s party, ‘It’s always tea time.’ I imagine that at the most monumental moments of history, someone somewhere in the world was having a cuppa. And there’s really no bad time for tea. For those of you with me from the beginning, you may remember a wee Facebook post of a picture about a month ago announcing a tea & cake launch party. The date cometh this week – the 30th August. For those of you who think it’s mighty stingy inviting someone to a launch party without putting on the refreshments, I totally agree. So, for anyone who lets me know they’re ‘coming,’ or lets me know afterwards that on the 30th day of August they did indeed drink some tea and/or eat some cake that could be construed to be in the honour of Right Ink On The Wall, I shall put some pennies in a teapot for my chosen charity, Room to Read. If you ‘post’ me a wee pic of your tea/cake, I’ll double your personal contribution.

I’d like to reflect on the last four weeks and talk about four beams of inspiration that have played parts in them. I’ve come into contact with a lot of material to encourage and inspire – I’d like to list the best of business, books, blogs and bits of ‘making the world a better place.’

Business – How often does a branding business ask you to lead from your heart rather than for your pocket? Thought Cloud does just that. Its founder, Kat Kinnie, inspired the launch of my blog as well as being the writer of the first blog I ever subscribed to (not counting Bunny). Kat is writing a book on conscious branding and I connected with her to explore the most important aspect of setting up my business – not what I was doing, but why. Before our sessions, while I was in no way treading water, I’d equate my exploration of the idea of branding with snorkelling. Perhaps, every so often in my musings, there’d be an element of free-dive. What I experienced with Kat was a deep-sea dive, discovering a colourful reef at the bedrock of the business and spotting previously hidden species of fish. Kat is an inspiration in herself, being the first British woman to set up her own business in Australia, while on a holiday working visa, and through that business gain sponsorship for herself and sponsorship status for her company in the tightest of timeframes. She asks you to imagine a world in which you make a healthy living doing what you love and doing good at the same time. She shows you it’s possible.

Book – Actually, let’s say ‘author,’ as I’ve attacked her entire back catalogue in the last wee while and don’t want to focus on just one book here. The writer is Anne Bishop – expect another blog post on the inspiration to be found in the realms of her books – there’s too much to say here!

Blog There are so many blogs I’ve come into contact with in the last month that have made me smile, laugh and learn. One entry has even made me cry – and that’s the one that tops my list. Mary Louisa Locke wrote a guest post for Joe Konrath’s amazing blog, ‘A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.’ It is a tribute to her father and to the idea that it is never too late to follow your dreams. There are always second chances. Click to read: On Second Chances and Role Models: A Tribute to my Father

Making the world a better place – I mentioned my chosen charity above, so a word about what I’m supporting. I’m supporting the hope that it’s possible to change the world, even if it’s only bit by bit, brick on brick. I’m supporting the belief that ‘world change starts with educated children.’ I’m supporting the idea that the greatest impact can be had here by focussing on literacy and gender-equality in education. Room to Read asks you to imagine a world in which every child has access to an education. This non-profit NGO was founded by John Wood, who left Microsoft to do so after a life-changing experience in Nepal. Of everything we make at Right Ink On The Wall, 10% is donated to changing the world. That’s 10% of revenue, not profit. Imagine a world in which every business does the same.

So, please join me on Friday – whether it’s my Friday, over here in NZ, or your Friday, somewhere else in the world (how weird is it that someone’s yesterday can be your tomorrow?). Raise a cup of tea and take a bite of cake and think how sweet it is that Right Ink On The Wall is in the world – encouraging you to pause for thought / sugary treats. Oh, and your question for the week – RSVP?

How To Lose A Lasagne & The Art Of Winning


‘If at first you don’t succeed…’

– Thomas H. Palmer

I was never much of a cook – I lacked the patience when younger to learn from my epic Chinese MasterChef of a mother and, when I was older, lacked the time to cook in and audience to cook for, except occasionally. I cook all the time these days and I like to think I’ve mastered some dishes. Lasagne’s not been one of them, though – something always goes wrong. It’s usually the cheese sauce. But, today, everything went perfectly – the sauces, the layering, the cheese top. I was pretty excited when I placed the above in the oven. I then burnt my fingers on its way in and dropped the whole thing.

It hadn’t been my favourite Monday and, having spent money and time preparing the pesky thing, I admit to getting momentarily tearful over this travesty. I had to remove my rings due to my first (/fifth) degree burns and had to scape the remnants of lasagne from the oven door. All those layers lost. Hunger, however, dictated that we patch the mess back into the dish and put it in to bake.

The above is a prime example of ‘first world problems’ and a loss of perspective. Also, a lack of learning – I’d badly burnt my hand placing a roast in a couple of weeks before. Anyway, dinner ended up tasting pretty good. One day, though, I’ll defeat lasagne – which brings me to the art of winning. At least I’m trying. That’s how you end up winning in the end.

I do feel the pinch of jealousy when someone achieves something I long for. I’ve connected with many bestselling and award-winning authors recently and I hunger for their success. You can’t win, however, if you don’t compete. You learn by doing. Sometimes, by failing. One day, I’ll write a brilliant book that you’ll all want to read and, one day, I’ll make the perfect lasagne that you’ll wish you could eat. Neither would be the same as they will be without the practice and the patience that will have gone before.

So, in summary (and a collection of cliches), you’ve got to be in it to win it; risk it to get the biscuit; start in order to finish. You might make a bit of a mess on the way, but it can still taste good, and winning will be worth it. What do you want to win? And when are you going to enter?