Your inner fire.


“You can’t take the sky from me.” – Joss Whedon

I spent the first week of 2017 with a horrible virus that left me house bound and feeling very sorry for myself. If you are anything like me, you struggle to think clearly or positively when you aren’t well. It colours everything with a horrible shade of blue. You have little clarity or perspective. So you have to be aware of that and remind yourself that your negative view point when you feel like that is coming from the over shadowing illness and not your own mind. And it is important to remind yourself you will be thinking more like yourself again when you are feeling back to normal and back to health.

I had been so looking forward to spending that week contemplating my plans and dreams for the year, allowing myself to ease into the year slowly, to do things I like doing and generally feel like I was getting a head start on myself. But that never happened. So last week was my first week of 2017, that’s how I was treating it anyway. Yes I still felt a little behind, and have sorely neglected social media as well as other commitments I should have worked on. But I didn’t want to start the year the way I ended the last one, in a rush. This whirlwind will creep up on you if you aren’t careful and you will be so caught up in the race, the rush, that you won’t even realise it. In times like that, when I get too caught up, too busy, I lose all insight, I am flustered and probably dampening my creativity, it is not a good place to be. Being busy has become something to strive for in our hectic modern world. It is the true entrepreneurs, the real innovative thinkers that have realised that being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being more productive, and most definitely does not mean being happier . They have learnt to harness their own pattern, their own balance and find what works for them, often being more productive in a lot less time.

So to put a positive spin on my poor start to the year, it was in some ways the best way to start a new year. A slap in the face reminder to not ever take my health for granted. Physical, and mental, health. And to shine a light on how precious it is to be healthy 95% of the time. It has also led me to my main focus for the year, my year of ultimate health. I call it so, as I would say I am pretty healthy already. I take care of myself, eat well, I like to exercise, I try to sleep well and meditate. However, I have a lot of space for improvement, and have possibly become somewhat complacent with my health and fitness. And I realise how much it can impact every area of your life, every area of you. I want to be strong. I want to feel strong. I do not agree with diets, they are quick fix, short term, solutions, but I do believe in changing or adjusting habits and your lifestyle, for life. I am only a week in, but so far I have introduced what will hopefully become my new habits, I won’t bore you with the details, but I am feeling motivated and excited about my new challenges.

I actually love January, I know a lot of people don’t, but I really do feel like it is a clean slate, a fresh start, to think about what worked and what didn’t work the previous year, and to try and re-align what your priorities are, what you want, who you are, who you would like to be, what you would like to do. It is a good time to think about what is important to you and put that first. Make it a priority if you can. Don’t let that light go out. If you have a light on at all, you are one of the lucky ones, and the world can’t afford to lose you.

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. – Albert Schweitzer

One thing I can personally reflect on from last year was that I realised I may in fact be a “people pleaser”. I think a lot of people are, whether they are aware of it or not. I hate the thought of someone not liking me, I don’t like to let people down, and I generally aim to impress. This realisation hit me in a big way, and it has definitely started to change how I think and how I make decisions. If I am doing something mainly to please someone else, I have to question why do it in the first place. I am not talking about helping others, that, in my head, is completely separate and I will always try to make time for that. But doing something, and straying down a tangent because you think it is what someone else wants you to do, doesn’t tend to serve you. So this year, I also aim to care a little less what other’s think. To not be side tracked by what someone else may see for my future. And instead to focus on where my own ideas, dreams, and priorities lie.

In order to have the strength of mind to stay true to you and what it is you want to do, you have to work on keeping your cup filled up. Keep your self filled up. Make time and head space to do the things that keep you physically and mentally strong. Sleep enough. Eat enough, of the right stuff. Exercise. Spend time outside. Spend time with people that lift you up. With people you love. Make time for doing what you love. Make space in your life for it. Only when you have this, can you help fill others up. Love yourself first and your world, and the world of those around you, will open up.

All of this, to me, comes down to getting to know yourself. Building an awareness of your mind, your body, and your heart. Only by trying to understand yourself, and spending time doing so, can you then understand what you really want. And what you need in order to keep your fire ablaze. I think I am some sort of weird introverted extrovert, (apparently most people are a combination of the two and it is very rare to be completely introverted or extroverted, most people have sides of both – this amazing TED talk talks about the importance of introverts) because I know now that I need quite a lot of time by myself, but I also need time with other people. I get energy both ways. It is a delicate balance. I thrive off meeting new people. And, to be honest, at times can be quite comfortable being the centre of attention, or the one keeping the dance floor busy at a subdued wedding. But if I have been running from place to place and taking on more work than I can manage, and have had no time to process it all, and be alone, I will be useless around people, I will have nothing to offer. However, if I have had time to do all the things I know feed me, I will try and give what I have away, I will try and share my energy, I love to make people laugh, or inspire them or show them the light if they are at that time struggling to see it. Which brings me to how much I also need those close to me. Only they really get to seem me when I do feel weak, and burnt out, and incredibly vulnerable. When I have lost all direction and am not myself. They help pick me up and I hope I can do the same for them whenever they may need it.

“Your spirit does not shine when the sun shines and your life is comfortable. It shines when darkness swallows you and you cannot breathe for the strangle of fear. That’s when what was invisible becomes undeniable.”  – Toni Sorenson

When I started to feel a bit better again last week, and a bit more myself, I decided in order to help guide and remind me of my ‘year of ultimate health’, I would do a new illustration which tried to encapsulate what that meant to me. I started with one that was similar to the photo below, a very restorative, meditative, pose. Which I do value, a lot. However, when I started the drawing, something didn’t feel right, it wasn’t working. Which is why I went on with the illustration at the start of this post, which started to make more sense as I was creating it, it felt right. When I am in a good routine of doing yoga every day, I try to do a ‘difficult’ pose, a challenging pose, within my practice, doing so makes me feel strong. There are a lot of yoga poses that are only possible with physical and mental strength, not only to get into the pose, but also the strength to dedicate your mind and body to practicing it, to give yourself time to practice it, day in day out, and to realise that there is no rush, no one to compete with, but that it will happen, if you give a little every day, every week, you will get there. And this, makes me feel strong, confident, and ready to take on challenges outside of my yoga mat as well as on it. So this is my symbolic illustration for the year. Not to mention the burning ‘sun’ in the background, (I call it the sun, but this is a metaphor as I would never attempt to capture something as vast and powerful as the sun itself in an illustration) this is my fire, this is your fire, this is the thing inside you that you need to work on keeping lit. If you let it go out you will have an even longer struggle to get it lit again.


I encourage you to get to know yourself, get to know where your priorities lie, and from there take action on what you want, what you need, from this year. This is a good time to do it before things start to get too fast, too busy, and you have lost any sight or direction for yourself. And if that leads you to decide to work on letting yourself shine, working on being the best version of you, and trying to stay with that fire every single day, and help others to find and follow their fire, then that, in my opinion, is an honourable, and positive start to the year.

“The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it”  – C.C.Scott

A belated Happy New Year everyone, from a rejuvenated Holly.

If you liked this blog post you may like these similar ones: Awake and Motivation
twitter: @hollysharpe


A few words on determination and success….


Determination is sticking to your health/ fitness plan when you really don’t feel like it, it is getting out of your bed when you don’t want to, when it is cold and raining outside, and putting your trainers on and going for a run.

That was me last Tuesday morning. I actually surprised myself, I can be pretty driven and hard on myself, but other times I am too soft and with things like going for a run I make excuses, tell myself I need more sleep, don’t have time etc etc. But it hit me that morning when I was feeling pleased (smug maybe) with myself for making it out and was enjoying the fresh air and refreshing rain as I ran through it, it reminded me that this is your ‘edge’, these are the times that you need to push through, that make the pros stand out from the amateurs, the successes over the (I use this word tentatively) ‘failures’. They draw out those that will always excel in life, because they continued to show up, they kept trying, against the odds, against the stuff that tries to put up a wall against your dreams, they push through it.

Below are a few things, in my opinion, which help towards building determination, and ultimately leading to success in whatever way that means for you:

  • Music helps.
  • Exercise helps.
  • Building good mental habits and practising positivity every single day helps.
  • Meeting new inspiring people.
  • Trying new things and building your confidence.
  • Picking yourself up when things don’t go your way.
  • Fighting back.
  • Perseverance.
  • Belief.
  • Strength.
  • Writing down small steps towards bigger goals and sticking to them.
  • Being kind to yourself.
  • Being hard on yourself.
  • Faith in yourself.
  • Keeping going when others don’t.
  • Focusing on what IS working rather than dwelling on what isn’t/ didn’t.
  • Focus.
  • Drive.
  • (More) perseverance.
  • Integrity.
  • Passion.
  • Grit.
  • Doing it for the right reasons.
  • Straight up hard work.
  • Will power.

What is going to make you stand out from the crowd, and take it a step further to achieve the success that you want?

Hope you are feeling a little more motivated after this fairly brief post!
Holly x
twitter: @hollysharpe

*No secret formula* – tips on making it in the creative industry. Part 1/2


Since a few people have asked for my advice recently on ‘how to succeed’, / what I did to get to ‘where I am’. I figured that perhaps I was in some position to try and put some advice into words in the form of this blog post. I am by no means saying that I am an expert on the subject of success, or that I have ‘made it’. But what I do know, is that if I could go back and speak to my younger, just-graduated self, I would definitely have a few words of wisdom. At the same time, I also don’t want to belittle how far I have come. I barely know anyone else that has continued to draw/design as much as I have since graduating, never mind make it their full time job, which was my main aim that I have now succeeded in accomplishing.

So, if that intrigues you enough to think that this could be useful/ of interest to you, please do keep reading and hopefully some of my words will resonate with you and your goals.

A couple of things to note to begin with are:

1. This is only my advice, so please take it with a pinch of salt. I think it is a good idea to take advice from a range of people/ sources and from there make your own decisions. These may be things that have worked for me, but everyone, and every career is so different so my advice should be tailored as necessary.

2.Whilst most of what I am going to say I have thought about a lot and truly believe is important right now, it is possible I may look back and feel quite differently in months/ years to come. Overall, I think the story of success is a forever-changing one, and it is for certain not something you can read in a book, or a blog for that matter, but please keep reading nonetheless! Think of this as a starting point/ words of encouragement in the right direction, or a nudge to help you figure out what the right direction might be for you.

Ok, in no specific order, set out below are a few key points that I think are key to your success:

-Belief –

I’m pretty sure I have said this before, and I will say it again, but if you don’t truly believe in yourself, then it is unlikely that anyone else will. Perhaps a little harsh, but you need to exude the confidence that you know you are capable and therefore others are a whole lot more likely to buy into it / support you and what you are trying to do.

-Focus –

Try and figure out exactly what it is that you want to do. I know this sounds basic, but in the world we live in today there are SO many distractions and social medias bla bla bla trying to pull you in different directions, get you to buy this, do that, go here! It is crazy and can often leave you feeling confused about what you actually want. I would recommend making TIME to be alone, go for a walk or just sit somewhere quiet and really think about what it is you want / what you want to do / be. From here, it is a whole lot easier to then create steps towards your end goal. On a side note from that however – it is quite likely that what you want to do may naturally change/ progress, so be open to adapt to this and continue to go back and re-assess it to be super clear that you are still heading in the direction that you want to be. I always wanted to be a painter and then I went to Art College and ended up studying textiles. Then, after working as a textile designer for a while, despite it being an invaluable experience, it made me realise that it wasn’t actually what I wanted to do. Looking back, I think I always wanted to be a fashion illustrator, but perhaps I didn’t really know how to get there, and in some ways doing textiles was another, perhaps longer route, to get there.

– Create and provide quality –

Whether you are providing a service or a product, this should always be the main starting point. Create something that you are truly proud of and can happily ‘sell’ and promote to potential clients/ employers etc. If you don’t feel your work is yet up to a high standard that you are 100% happy with, hold back until it is. Most things that are worthwhile take time. Once you get to this point, then you can start putting it online/ sending it to people/ applying for jobs. Of course your work should progress and continue to get better over time, but as long as the essence of what you are doing demonstrates that you have the potential and have put your all into it, this is a good place to start.

– Don’t give up –

Day to day, week to week, this is so hard. And yes, you will have set backs, knock backs and disappointments, but all you can do is try to pick yourself up and put all of that behind you. Just remember that anyone you look up to or aspire to be like will have gone through times like this, I guarantee it. I personally think I have become extremely good at blacking out all the hard times, it is only when I take a minute to really look back that I remember them. And even when I do, it’s like it happened to someone else, it is now in the past, and if anything I’m sure I have learned something each and every time something has not quite gone the way I hoped it would.

My practical tip to keep you going is – have a little notebook (or app, whatever) where you write down all the positive things to look back on and focus on. Whether that be a positive email from a client, a nice comment on your work/ video/ project online, a sale of your work or a project/ commission that you are really happy with…anything which you feel will remind you of your progress so far and help you focus on the positives. Sometimes it is nice to look back on where you have come from too, just to give yourself some props for getting to where are. You have already made the decision to try, and that alone is something to be proud of, so many people give up before they have even started. So remember that too.

I know that is all easier said than done, but the people that don’t give up, are the people that go on to succeed, eventually, some will get there quicker than others but it is inevitable that they will get there, because they never stopped trying until they did. This really dawned on me a year or so ago when I was going round the Lucian Freud (one of my all time favourite artists) exhibition in London: he had so much work, so many paintings, his style changed over time and he continued to grow, to paint. Even when he died at 88, a half-finished canvas was found in his studio. And to me, the reason he excelled past his peers was his persistence and dedication. He never stopped painting. Talent is of course a huge factor, but as is often the case you cannot get by on talent alone.

 Ok I’ve decided this is already long enough, so will post ‘part 2’ soon, stay tuned 😉

Want to know more about me and my work? You can check out my website, facebook, twitter, Instagram and tumblr!

Thanks so much for reading,

feel free to get in touch –