Friday, 27 March 2015

Dealing with Fear and Anxiety

Don't let fear and anxiety rule your life



Many people experience nervousness, fear and anxiety to a degree that impacts on their day to day life at some point or other. For some this will be a transitory issue, for others it's something that they have to cope with for a period of time and it may recur and for a few it's something they have to constantly live with.

We all get nervous from time to time, that is completely natural and is usually associated with doing something new or something important, e.g. getting nervous before giving a talk to a group of people or before taking an exam. Sometimes these simple nerves can become something deeper and more intrusive, giving rise to a more intense feeling of anxiety or fear and sometimes can develop into a full on panic attack. There are very real physical symptoms associated with this that can have a varying impact, from that 'butterflies in the stomach' feeling that almost all of us will have experienced to a complete inability to move, talk or even breathe. 

To anyone who has never experienced a full on panic attack, when they see someone having a 'panic attack' even though they may be well meaning, advice such as 'pull yourself together' just isn't going to help and often makes things worse. 'Hidden' conditions such as panic, fear and anxiety can be difficult to understand for those not used to them and difficult to explain for those who suffer from them.

Lots of people attend cons, so it is only natural that there will be a good few for who this can be a problem. There are some though who would love to go to a con but simply get too nervous/anxious to do so.

I suffer from General Anxiety Disorder. I have always been a 'worrier' for as long as I can remember, worrying about anything and everything. It didn't particularly impact on my childhood in any way, I generally enjoyed life and had fun but looking back, it may have prevented me from doing things that otherwise I might have tried. It didn't really have any effect at University either, but I was very aware that I always got very nervous before travelling anywhere, before exams, before talking in public/giving a presentation and when approaching/talking to strangers, including on the phone. This didn't make it particularly easy to ask a girl out, though I managed. So I guess you could say I was aware that my nervousness was something of an issue, but not something that stopped me from living or getting on with life.

As the years went on though, it was something that, at times, became much more intrusive - There were times when I couldn't sleep due to worry. I was fully aware that my fears were completely irrational, I was worrying about things that would almost certainly never happen or worrying about things that just didn't matter, but even though I knew that, I couldn't make the feelings go away. At the same time my nerves could be a problem, I would often be so nervous before going on an evening out for instance that I would spend a good hour or so being sick. I always enjoyed myself once I got somewhere, but it was the fear of who knows what that was the issue. I would even know that if I went out I would have a good time, but sometimes the nerves and anxiety were so much that I would end up staying in, and then I'd feel awful because I knew I was missing out on a good time.

At work I would often have to give presentations to high ranking officials which would usually involve travel as well. This would lead to sleepless nights as I'd just lie awake worrying about both the travel and the presentation. I started having to go abroad with work and whilst I had no problem with flying, general anxiety about the journey, finding the hotel, would they have my booking etc. etc. caused no end of stress and began to impact somewhat on my health.

In general though, day to day life wasn't any problem and I was still able to enjoy most things, it was mainly only when I had to do something new that caused worry and stress, I even sort of got used to giving presentations but a general, background, level of anxiety would always be present when ever I had to travel anywhere.

Occasionally things would get worse, I would go through periods where I really would worry about stupid things that would never happen, or about which I had absolutely no control over so such worry was pointless. I went to the Doctors a few times, which didn't really help at all, but I started to read up on things on the web. I found that such general anxiety is fairly common, and that the easiest way to combat it is to simply not think about the things that are worrying you - easier said than done of course, but over time I have found that I am better able to 'cut off' worrying thoughts before they enter that exhausting spiral. I still get nervous and still worry, but it no longer has anywhere near the impact it has done in the past. Six years ago I did something I'd never have been able to do earlier, I decided to go self employed as a photographer, even though the lack of a 'steady' pay packet would be something that would have driven me mad in the past. I found myself doing things that I used to hate, going out meeting new people and networking with strangers, visiting new places and doing new things, and enjoying it.

I absolutely love going to cons and get a real buzz, even though I might still worry about things before I get there, is the train going to be late etc. etc. fairly normal stuff that no longer stops me from enjoying myself.

You can't always control your feelings and thoughts, but try and concentrate on thinking about how much of a good time you are going to have and try and just let any thoughts about problems or worrying thoughts just slip out of your mind. Sometimes planning things out before hand can reduce some worry, e.g. knowing what time train you need to get, and allowing extra time just in case, though you have to be careful that doing so doesn't lead to a negative spiral of worry.

In short, nerves, anxiety and panic can be something that impact on everyone at some point, some of course much worse than others, never ever be ashamed of having such thoughts and worries or by how that impacts on you, talk to people about it if you find that helps, don't shut yourself away. Set small 'achievable' goals, don't try and do everything at once, and gradually you should find that things improve as you can concentrate on how much fun you have rather than spending time and effort on worrying. DO get out and try new things, DO go out and have fun but understand that not everything is always going to be perfect, there will be times things don't work out, but don't worry about it, just let it go and start planning your next fun day out. Understand that worry and nerves are part of everyday life, but don't let them rule your life, you ARE in control, even if it feels that you aren't.

Stuart x







Sunday, 22 March 2015

Bedford Dr Who Charity Con

Bedford Who Con


We'll be trading and taking photos at a new con, raising money for a worthy cause, on Saturday April 11th in Bedford. We asked the organisers to say a bit about the con.

"It's the first Doctor Who convention to be held in Bedford, and it's rather different from other conventions because it's designed as a charity fundraiser -- as well as a fun day for the fans, of course.  It's being held at The King's House, Ampthill Road, Bedford MK42 9AZ on Saturday 11th April.

Simon Danes is the organiser.  Simon's 49 years old (and he really is 49, even though that's the age lots of people in their early fifties claim to be!).  He's a former teacher and writer, who now works as a volunteer for Bedford Foodbank.  You've probably heard of foodbanks:  they provide emergency food for local people in genuine crisis, and there's a network of them throughout the country.  Like most charities, the Foodbanks' ultimate aim is not to exist; sadly, the need is getting bigger rather than smaller.  

Simon's been fundraising for the Bedford Foodbank for some time now.  He says, 'I was thinking about doing a small fundraising event of some sort:  a concert or something like that.  It then occured to me that I'd been used to organising big events when I was in schools, and I could use those skills to put on something rather bigger.  Hence Bedford Who Charity Con.  We've had some wonderful support from the local community, and of course from our guests.  It's a good line-up:  three companions, Davros, Ailsa Berk, Paul Cornell and Mike Tucker.  Should be a great day.  So that as many people can come as possible, we've also kept our ticket prices as low as we can; they're very much at the lower end of convention prices for individual tickets, and we're offering family tickets as well.'

So, here's the full guest list:  Anneke Wills (Polly), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Terry Molloy (Davros), John Leeson (K9), Paul Cornell (writer), Mike Tucker (BAFTA award-winning SFX designer), and Ailsa Berk (choreographer).  The day's going to include a mixture of individual and panel interviews, signings, and the chance to browse the dealers' hall.  Mike Tucker, the man who's been blowing up Daleks for a living since the 1980s, will be doing a presentation on the programme's special effects.  Ailsa Berk, who teaches movement to the actors playing the aliens, will be running a monster-movement workshop for attendees.

If you'd like to go to the convention, and would like to help support the Foodbank's work, please visit the website http://www.bedfordwhocharitycon.co.uk for more information, including how to buy tickets."

We are looking forward to this and hope to see lots of people supporting this worthy (and fun) event.


London Super Comic Con 2015

A great weekend

Well though it's a week ago now, we are still buzzing from an absolutely fabulous weekend at the London Super Comic Con at London Excel. Yes, the weather was dull and cold, certainly compared with last year, so there wasn't the crowds of cosplayers having fun in the Sun, they were just having fun inside. 

Yet again this was a superbly run con, despite the noticeably larger attendance there were still no issues at all with queuing or crowds, yes there was some queuing to get in initially but the queues never built up to a stupid size and moved rapidly thanks to the well organised scanning of bar-codes and issuing of bands/passes. Other cons could definitely take note of how to do this properly. There were loads of staff patrolling all the con areas, both in the hall and in the public areas, all there to help with any questions/queries or issues. Again, this is an area where other cons could take note.

This is still, noticeably so, the best run and organised con of this size in the UK and still a complete joy to attend. 

Everyone is relaxed and friendly and that atmosphere just fills the event. There are a good variety of stalls, though more definitely comic related than other events, this is not a bad thing, there are still plenty of things to spend your money on. The talks/panels were of the usual high quality and interest and the now established cosplay masquerade and cosplay championship draw ever bigger crowds and some amazingly high quality entrants. 

You can find a full image gallery on our con page - http://www.geekzania.com/index.php/cons and a few preview images below.










Friday, 13 March 2015

The Ballad of Boris, King of Scotland

A Story

Presenting the opening 'teaser' to our serialised 'alternate history' story, 'The Ballad of Boris, King of Scotland'

Travis knew the story off by heart. He'd listened to his Gran tell it often enough. He wouldn't hear it again now, his Gran finally succumbed to the twisted, horrible, cancer overnight. Travis knew that his Gran was no longer in pain and that she was now in peace but the tears streamed down his face anyway. He was not just sad, but bitter and very, very angry. Cancer these days was curable but almost no-one in Scotland could ever remotely afford the cost of the treatments. It was completely different South of the Wall of course, where there was still a free universal health system.
Travis tried to calm his anger by imagining his Gran telling the story one last time :
"It all started with that Salmon chappy", he could still hear the scorn in his Gran's voice. "He wanted to rule Scotland and somehow engineered a vote on Independence, to this day I still think he must have had something on all the UK leaders. No-one really believed that we'd be foolish enough to vote for Independence, after all how could Scotland possibly manage alone. The UK Government certainly didn't seem to expect what was coming, though of course we now know differently. Somehow, whether as a result of the campaigning, or something else, the Scottish people joyfully voted to become an Independent Nation and celebrated long into the night and following night when the vote was won. Nobody stopped to think what it actually meant, nobody could possibly have known what was coming."

Thursday, 12 March 2015

London Super Comic Con

London Super Comic Con

We'll be at LSCC this weekend at the London Excel. Stuart will be wandering around with his camera to record all the wonderful cosplayers and a report on the event, along with the cosplay galleries will appear on our site next week. You can see our visit to LSCC in 2014 here though we've included a few shots here as well. 

If you are at LSCC keep an eye out for Stuart, he'll be wearing our 'Respect the Cosplayer' t-shirt, supporting the rights of cosplayers to enjoy themselves and not be bullied, and he'll be happy to take some shots of your cosplay, or just to say 'Hi' 

We totally enjoyed this weekend last year, so are really looking forward to this year, though we don't look as though we're going to be as lucky with the weather this year. It's still going to be a lot of fun.









Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Geek behind Geekzania

Who is behind Geekzania?

We thought that we'd get Stuart to tell us a bit about himself and why he started Geekzania.

'Firstly a bit about myself, I am a huge Geek. Before I became a full time freelance photographer I worked for the UK Ministry of Defence for 20 years. I'm a fully qualified Aeronautical Engineer and was a full Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society (MRAeS). I worked in flight test research and development, air vehicle design and analysis. I was a UK SME (subject matter expert) for flight control and air vehicle simulation and modelling, about as close as you can get to being a rocket scientist without actually being a rocket scientist. I worked for 10 years on an experimental Harrier programme, developing flight control systems that fed into, eventually, the development of the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). I also worked on the systems clearance of the Eurofighter Typhoon and Unmanned Air Vehicle research and development. I used to travel the world with my job, representing the UK MoD on a number of International research programmes and committees (though as anyone who does this will tell you it's not particularly glamorous or fun, you don't really get to see where you are visiting, just an airport, which all look the same, and the inside of a hotel room, which all look the same). I'm an expert coder in numerous languages, all the way from Coral66 through to Ruby and developed and produced high fidelity air vehicle simulation models for a number of aircraft types. I used to develop computer games in my spare time as a hobby. I spent my latter years in the MoD advising the Government on a range of issues and research programmes, including a fair bit of work on what eventually became the BAE Systems Taranis 

In my spare time I enjoyed (and still do, though I tend not to have spare time anymore) drinking, sci-fi & fantasy films & tv, video gaming and reading stories and comics.

In the late 1990s the MoD began to get rid of their dedicated photographers, tending to use any staff who could handle a camera instead. I'd always been a keen hobbyist photographer so found myself taking official shots of various flight test activities for publicity purposes. As a result I had a few shots published in magazines such as Flight International & Aviation & Space Week and so bought myself a (then) newfangled digital camera, it was state of the art with a huge (for the time) 3MP sensor. I had some success selling landscape images through a stock library and started photographing people as well. Over time I started becoming more and more fed up with not being allowed to do my job in the MoD properly due to budget cut backs or a lack of top down planning so when my job was moved and was unable to move with it, effectively making myself redundant, I wasn't too upset. After looking at other jobs I decided to go freelance, as a coder, consultant and photographer. Quite quickly I found that I was spending all my time on photography so concentrated just on that.

The photography has been reasonably successful, I'm still doing it some 6 years after starting as a freelance. I've been published in Elle Magazine and on the Vogue Italia website alongside numerous other print (as opposed to just digital) magazines. I've been a commercial photographer for Cambridge Council and Milton Keynes Theatre amongst others and shot with numerous clothes, jewellery and accessory designers. I've shot for charities and small businesses and been lucky enough to work with many stunning models. I've also sold prints and exhibited in galleries. I've worked with children and animals, bands and performers, burlesque dancers and reenactors, there is always something different.

I found myself quickly concentrating on vintage/retro inspired pin up, something I'd always loved (born in the wrong era) and found plenty of wonderful models who also loved vintage pin up, to work with. Together with one of those models I set up Pinupzania and we started attending cons. The first event where we had a stall was the London Film & Comic Con where we created quite a stir as we had a good few girls wandering around in either latex cosplay or else just vintage pin up underwear. Both I, and the girls loved it and we became a regular fixture at LFCC. 

Gradually we found ourselves selling comic/fantasy related jewellery and accessories and cosplay inspired prints so felt that we needed a better brand than Pinupzania as we no longer just cover pin up. Hence Geekzania was born.

We now cover Cosplay & Fantasy photography, both at cons and standalone shoots, we create original characters as well for our shoots. Our website will be featuring cosplay costume and accessory tutorials, tutorials on creating your own computer games, photo galleries, features on people within the 'scene' and creators, artists etc. and we also design and produce our own range of exclusive and original t-shirts.

You'll see us at many more cons than just LFCC this year and in future and who knows where we can go from here!!


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Cosplayer, singer, sportswoman and creator Irene Astral

Irene Astral

Our first 'Interesting People' feature is on a Greek cosplayer, model, singer, sportswoman, creator and all round superwoman Irene Astral.

The article and gallery can be found on our 'Interesting People' section of our website here :

Geekzania - What we are about

Geekzania

Geekzania is a site where we can explore all the things we love, cosplay, cons, sci-fi & fantasy, pop culture, gaming, gadgets and more.

We'll feature cosplayers, pin ups, authors, comic creators, artists, prop and costume makers and more. We'll have photo galleries, con reviews, tutorials, distractions, stories and an online store where we'll be selling our exclusive and original t-shirts and associated merchandise, art prints etc.

We hope you'll love what we do.

Our full website can be found at http://www.geekzania.com

Our facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/geekzania