Tag Archives: life coaching

Celebrating Book Week… in several ways!

Several of my friends with school age children have been having a few headaches trying to get to grips with book week and rustling up character costumes for their little ones to shuffle off to school in.  My husband and I had to do the same thing this week – we are attending an Adoption Activity Day and the theme of it is Book characters.  After asking my best friend, we decided we could go as Jack and Jill from the nursery rhyme – well… it’s in a book, right?

I also noticed that Dr Seuss, of Cat in the Hat fame, would have been 111 today.  Now, I remember reading most of his books when I was 3 or 4 and my Mum had just introduced me to the magic of the public library.  It kindled my love of books and my love of verse.  Some of the verses are actually really good to remember as adults.  They hold some very interesting truths.  So, todays blog is a bit of a cop out.  Here are some posters made by talented others!

Seuss think

I love this so much.  It is a quotation laden with promise.  Regardless of how institutionalised you are, everyone has an imagination.  You might need to relearn how to use it, but once you do… magic is unlocked.

Seuss love

This definitely explains why my marriage works!  We have compatible weirdness!

complications

Yeah… I always look for the complications.  I need to remember to look for the simple as well!

perspective

How very, very true.  This is also about cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

diversity

This is so very important to remember.  Being unique is one of the most awesome qualities we have, and it would be a shame to give it all up to be an homogeneous group of drones, regardless of what the mainstream media would like us to do!  In addition, this needs to be at the forefront of my mind on Saturday when I am faced with a room full of children, any of whom might be my future child.  I need to make sure I check them all out.

reading

If you ever come to my house, you will see just how much we love books here.  Yes, I find magic every time I pick one up.  Or even when I turn on my Kindle!  Books ROCK.

I wonder if I could dress up as the Cat in the Hat after all?

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Time to start spring cleaning your brain…

It might seem a little early to think about spring cleaning at all, what with snow on the ground and those frosty temperatures every morning.  But when the calendar hits February, I always start to seek the signs of Spring, and as soon as I can see the bulbs poking out of the ground, snow drops in flower, leaf buds emerging, I get a need to clean.

cleaning frenzy

However, it is still early in the month… and I am not totally sold on the whole cleaning thing yet, but I am keen on getting rid of some of the mental clutter that is lying around making things feel a little awkward.  We all know that if you don’t sometimes have a clear out of your stuff that seems to accumulate with startling ease, that you end up feeling choked and cramped in your own home.  Well, I believe the same is the case for the mental clutter that builds up.  The more clutter the psyche has, the greater the toll on your mental well being.

I was inspired by an article I read in this month’s Slimming World Magazine.  A new book has been published called “This Book Will Make You Feel Beautiful” by Dr Jessamy Hibberd and it is basically suggesting that doing a spring clean of the brain is a great way to kick start creative and bodily energy, and to keep you on track when you are dieting.  It has been a difficult week for me in terms of head stuff generally, so I am totally up for this, and thought I could share the tips from the article with you too.

rut

The first piece of advice is to get out of the rut that you are in.  As we are all creatures of habit, we sometimes slavishly follow routines.  That can be everything from getting the same coffee at the same time every day, to exercising on the same machines at the gym, to wearing the same clothes in rotation.  Sometime routines really work.  Like if you need to take regular medication.  Routines is what is going to make it work.  But routines can also be bad.  That cookie you have at 3pm, or the dessert you have after supper.  So, ringing the changes in some ways has got to be a good thing.  Maybe have fruit instead of the cookie, or have a hot cup of tea instead of the dessert.  One thing I like to do is just to sit down and think about what are my routines and then if there are some unhealthy or bad ones… then I will try and change things up a bit to be more positive.

packed calendar

Advice point two is to declutter the calendar.  Who hasn’t had that moment when you look at the month on the 1st and think “Oh my Goodness, how am I going to get through all of THAT!”.  The whole thought of it is energy sapping in the extreme, and that is before you even attempt to do any of it.  A few years ago, I learnt two really powerful tricks.  One, was to keep at least 2 weekends completely free of anything per month.  The second, was to say no.  That last one is soooo hard, because over most of our lives we are conditioned to say yes, yes, yes all the time. At some point though we have to say enough is enough and then say no.  It is simple, but boy does it work!

sweeping attics

Third piece of advice is something I have got sloppy over.  You need to clear out your worries.  Now, I am the first to admit that I am a worry wart.  I always have been.  I am better now than I used to be, but occasionally some niggles will nibble at the sides of my brain and keep me awake in the middle of the night.  I deal with them in two ways.  First, I imagine a box in an attic and then I put the worry in the box, move the box to a corner and then leave the attic.  All done in the imagination.  It works for me.  Second, if it is still causing sleeplessness, then I will think about what it is that is causing me to worry.  Now, I know from long personal experience that the things which stress me out are the things that are outside of my control.  If I can control it, then I don’t need to worry.  So, I tend to repeat to myself “I can’t do anything about it, so why worry?”.  For me it works a bit like counting sheep.  After the first 100 times or so, I go back to sleep!  Generally, the following morning, I am not worried about it any more.

toxic people

Now… the next piece of advice is a tricky one.  You might want to do a friendship audit.  There is nothing quite so energy sapping as a negative Nelly, or an energy Vampire as some people call them.  You know the type.  It doesn’t matter what you say, they always turn it to a negative.  “Oh it is a lovely sunny day” will be met with “And the sun is in my eyes”.  You know the type.  I was one of those for years and years and years.  Thankfully I am not a reformed negative person and instead I try and concentrate on the positive.  It is hard.  It is exceptionally hard sometimes, but I have noticed that it is indeed worth the effort.  If you can’t kick them out of your life entirely, then reduce the time you spend with them.  It will free up a lot of room in your brain when you haven’t got the negative commentary from them running around your head.  Or if they are a close family member, try and introduce them to the gifts of positivity.  You may convert them!

update

Finally, in order to spring clean your mind, you might want to think about the outside package.  Update your “look”.  For me, with Operation Chrysalis under way, I am doing my own updating as I go.  I will, at some point soon, go into the local charity shops and see if I can buy a couple of amazing outfits that will update my image a little and put a spring in my step.  A new outfit on the outside can bring huge benefits on the inside.  If I look confident, I feel confident.  If I look beautiful, then I feel beautiful.

What is there not to love about that?  And spring added into the bargain!  What a great deal!

The keys to successfully kicking addictions…

If you have been on social media in the last couple of days you will probably have come across a very good article published by the Huffington post, regarding addiction.  I discovered it this morning after a friend of mine shared it on Facebook, and after reading it… well, I really wanted to talk about it here.

Here is the link for you to have a read yourself.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html

addiction

I know several people who are or were addicts of various kinds.  My own personal experience definitely supports the conclusions in the article.  That being said, I also know that if the new happy world you have constructed starts to slip, and you begin to feel stressed and unable to cope, then it is very simple to slip back into the bad habits of the past.  Building resilience to ” the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” is the real key to successfully beating any problem – addiction, low self esteem, stress, anger issues, all of it.

Resilience, persistence, tenacity, call it what you will; It is one of the least lauded personality traits that people can aspire to.  In this modern world, ambition, self assurance, even arrogance are rated above sheer dogged determination.  Yet, it is the stubbornness which ensures any success at all.  It is rare that those who are responsible for the great technological breakthroughs we benefit from made all their discoveries on the first time they tried something.  But their determination to crack the problem, meant they kept going until they got the answer.  And it is the same for evolution.  That first fish to crawl from the primordial ooze was particularly determined to do so.  My hypothesis is, therefore, that people who want to move away from addiction and the potential to backslide require this resilience and determination to be successful.

support networks

The article talks about how having a good environment and lots of friends helped the rats to stop the addiction to cocaine dosed water.  I suppose this is the basis of the 12-step programmes which are out there to assist in breaking addictions – surround yourself with supportive people and keep on the straight and narrow.  But one thing the article didn’t touch on was what to do when life throws you an inevitable curve ball.  If you are not determined and stubborn, then one dicey letter from a person in authority and you are back on the path to addiction and issues.  You seek comfort from the place that has often given you comfort before, be that alcohol, drugs, food.

tigger

So, how do you build resilience?  If you put in a Google search, you will find there are sundry companies willing to part you and your cash to teach you.  It is definitely a skill, and if it is a skill, then you can learn how to do it…. and you can do it yourself.

positivity

First, you MUST be positive.  The most resilient people are those sorts of people who can see the silver lining in the darkest of clouds.  Yes, those really irritating, relentlessly cheerful types.  It is worth copying them.  I have only been a positivity advocate for the last 4 years, but I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, it has transformed my life.  I can cope with life’s ups and downs much, much better than I could before, when I was a negative Nelly.   There are days when I just want to put my head back under the duvet and not come out.  That is normal.  But when I force myself to look around, and see the good in something, it really helps me to get back up on my feet.  Take this week for example… I had a job interview this time last week.  It was for an excellent job, and I really enjoyed the interview process.  I didn’t get offered the job.  Was I bummed out?  Yes.  Of course I was.  But… it was the right thing to happen.  There was a HUGE amount of travelling involved in the job, plus I would have been working in some pretty dangerous surroundings and there was a lot of stress involved generally.  So, from the negative, springs a positive.

live to learn

The second key to being resilient – live to learn.  If you think you have all the answers, yet still see yourself on a path to destruction, then of course you are going to feel really bad, like you have failed.  I definitely do not have all the answers, but I am prepared to go and look for them.  And I will look in all kinds of places to find them.  I am addicted to learning new skills, I love learning new ideas and I adore helping other people do the same.  And Google is totally awesome as a resource!

open heart

Third thing to do is to open your heart.  Now this is a hard one.  If you have been hurt before, then this is the MOST difficult part to do, but the theory goes, if you don’t open your heart, then you can’t fill it.  So, assuming you have built some walls around your heart for protection, how do you break them down?  It is not easy, but a good starting point is just to be kind to people.  Smile at strangers on your walk into work or when you are moving around the supermarket.  Be aware of smiling all the time (most of us have something of a trout pout when our face is in repose – it is not a good look.  Cultivate a smile.) Part of this is also be grateful for the things you do have.  This is nicely linked to the first key of being positivity.  I am grateful that my house is big enough that I can store food.  I have a pantry and I have excess tins and packets.  So, once a month at least, I choose some of those stocks and I donate them to a food bank.  I am opening my heart to the people who need assistance.

self care

The fourth key to resilience is taking care of yourself.  You are your greatest asset.  Now, if you are in the pits of despair and suffering with low self esteem issues and all sorts, this is the hardest thing to do, because it is no I am not necessarily talking about bathing in asses milk every day, or using gold plated moisture cream here.  I am talking about making sure you are well nourished, getting enough sleep, and knowing when to say enough is enough and getting yourself out of a stressful situation.  I am also talking about taking a vitamin supplement and if you are sick, stay at home and get yourself better.  To be the best you can be, you need to be on top of your game.  The only person who can make yourself healthy and glowing is you.  So do it.

laugh at yourself

And finally, the fifth thing to help you become more resilient, is being able to hold onto some humour.  Laugh at yourself.  You know those days when everything is going wrong?  Giggle at how you juggled with two coffee mugs and a bottle of soy sauce which then hit the floor and splashed your white trousers.  Come on… it would have looked humorous.  And it is just a stain… it can come out.  And if it doesn’t?  Well, cut them down to shorts or capri pants or something.  There.  Positivity, gratefulness, AND humour all in one.  When I was working in an office and was struggling with the pressure of work and trying to get things to reconcile and they weren’t, I often used to be heard saying “I really need a pint.  Of Gin”.  This was my way of laughing about the state of the work day.  It used to help be get through it.

On that note, I am off to get a pint.  Of tea.  Have a great weekend everyone.

It is all about Attitude…

I was going to write today about the foods which stress the nervous system, as a bit of a follow on from Wednesday’s post.  As I drove home through the Nottinghamshire countryside following a job interview though, I was musing about how negative that was for a blog post.  I do not like being negative.  I want to be more positive.

positivity

I was also musing about how my studies are going at the moment, and whether, if I do get a full time role, I would be able to continue with them, as well as keeping the house and garden up to snuff.  As I mused about exactly how organised I am going to have to be… I also recalled one of the things mentioned in my Advanced Life Coaching lesson which I completed on Sunday (and got 100% for as well!).

They used a mnemonic in relation to the ideal mindset for a successful coach, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked it as a slogan for living.  Using the letters of the word ATTITUDE, gives you all you need to know and work on.

attitude

A stands for Action Oriented.  Clearly, sitting on your backside and complaining about stuff is not going to get your very far at all.  You need to be prepared to get up and do something.

T stands for Taking Responsibility.  There is little benefit in pretending that everything is going to be done by someone else, or someone else is to blame for your current predicament, whatever that is.  In some cases, it might be a combination of events, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but whatever it is, you are a part of it.  So you can take responsibility and try and change it.  You might only have influence over one part, or one small area, but sorting that small corner out will make you feel better, and it might set the wheels in motion to sort out the whole.

fear

T also stands for Turn Fear into Focus.  I don’t know about you, but there are some things that terrify the daylights out of me.  Not just heights and spiders.  Big things.  Like War, Global conflict, what would happen if the whatsit really hit the windmill and life as we know it just stopped, going to the Doctor and them finding something is actually wrong with me.  That sort of thing.  So instead of dwelling on the fears, I turn it into a focus.  One of the reasons I am studying and working hard in the garden and house is because I am teaching myself skills which would be useful in an apocalypse scenario.  I can grow plants to feed my family, I can make clothes to keep us warm, I can knit jumpers, I can make curtains, I can make soap, I can make quilts.  With Herbalism knowledge I could keep my nearest and dearest healthy without the need for doctors, if they were wiped out and no one could find the stash of antibiotics.  I know it might sound like the plot of a Hollywood Blockbuster, or the rantings of a nutter, but whether I could cope in such an emergency made me scared.  So I confronted it and have changed my life.

imitation

The I in Attitude stands for Imitate Excellence, or “the fake it till you make it” model.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and in this case, if you want to BE a confident extrovert, then look at one and copy what they do.  That is what I did.  By nature I am not a confident extrovert, but I knew that being a timorous introvert wasn’t going to get my very far.  So, I copied someone.  I faked it.  Now, when I tell people that I am actually very shy and rather nervous, most people howl with laughter.  But it is true.

T stands for Transforming negatives into positives.  It is only in the last 4 or 5 years that I have been able to do this.  My default setting is to see the negative of everything first and have to dig to see the positive.  However, a good friend of mine, over on the website http://www.mortgagefreeinthree.com, put me onto a couple of books which transformed the way I look at things.  There are ALWAYS positives, in every situation.  Yes, some of them need digging up and a whole heap of polishing, but they are always there.  Finding them is one of the most freeing things I have ever managed to do!  But it is not easy.  None of this stuff is.  But it is worth it in the end.

hidden talents

U stands for uncovering hidden talents.  This is what I enjoy doing most.  When I find something I want to learn how to do, I am often nervous the first time I do it.  It might go wrong, I might look like twit attempting something.  But then, I think “Hang on… if everyone else manages to do this… then so can I”.  My nerves go and then I am off to have a go.  I have learnt so much from doing this.  I am becoming something of a polymath with all the new skills I have, and I am having so much fun doing it!

D stands for Develop yourself.  A lot of people say, after their college or high school finals, ” right, that is the last exam I am ever taking”.  I never did.  I sort of collect qualifications.  I do it because I am interested in the skills, or I need the qualification for my career progression, but I am always, always developing myself.  I have discovered the Mindstore visualisation techniques, I am studying naturopathy.  All because I want to develop myself.

expect

The final letter, E, is for Expect the Unexpected.  Really, I think it is being open to the opportunities that might land on your lap from unexpected directions.  It could be a job opportunity, it could be the chance to go sky diving, it could be absolutely anything.  If you are not open to new experiences, then you might not find the best thing that has ever happened to you.

So, on that note, it is all about the Attitude.  My weekend is going to be about finishing off painting the hallway, cleaning my house up and getting the washing and ironing sorted.  All important things to be done, and I can’t wait to get stuck into them!  Have a good weekend!

Hello 2015….!

January is a good time to stop with the looking backwards and start looking forward.  Did you know that the month is named after Janus, the two faced Roman God?  One of his faces looks back and the other looks forward… so here is my personal run down of 2014 just past and 2015 to come.

2015

2014 was quite a ride, wasn’t it?  I know for several of my friends it was a year they would be happy to forget, and I understand that too.  The latter bit of the year was not much fun for me either (waaay too many funerals had to be attended) but when I looked back on the year just past, I had to say… overall, 2014 was very,very good to my husband and I.

We were approved as adoptive parents.  We moved home, which was something I never thought we would do… in fact, I had quite got my head in the place to accept that we would be in our former house for the rest of our days and then… BANG.  Let’s move house….!  Ummm…. okay…!  We sold our previous home and moved into my In Law’s former home.  My Mum moved up to be closer to us. I learned that I am pretty good at painting walls and renovating stools, and I can now make curtains. I kept up this blog, despite time being of the essence a lot of the time. Overall, Some really big changes happened this year.

attitude of gratitude 2

Having expressed enormous gratitude for everything that has happened and the lessons I have learned, I am now thinking about the New Year stretching ahead of us, full of possibility and potential. It is the given wisdom that now, we set resolutions and get on with changing our lives and being better people.  I have to confess, I am a serial resolution setter.  I am also a serial resolution breaker.  I can’t seem to stick to them, no matter how I phrase them, no matter how I think about them.  So this year, I am doing something a little different.

This year… I am setting goals.  Not just any goals either.  These are the “Oh my goodness I have butterflies in my stomach because this is going to be AWESOME” goals.  How did I do it?  I followed the guidance of a very well known personal development speaker.  One Mr Jack Black.  No, not that one.  If you have heard of Mindstore, then you know the person I am talking about.

So… for my first blog of 2015, here is my gift to you.  The links to the four fascinating and rather fabulous goal setting tutorials.  Give yourself 4 days to do them… and then you will have 350 other days in which to reach them.

Happy New Year to everyone who reads this blog, and have fun setting your goals… and more importantly, attaining them!

A day for giving thanks…

Even if you are in the UK, where we do not celebrate any kind of thanksgiving (more is the pity), you know that today in the USA it is Thanksgiving Day.  It is a time for families to gather, spend time together and to eat a feast of all sorts of things, but usually turkey and pumpkin pie.  I would like to wish all of my American readers a very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving, and may what you are thankful for multiply and bless you even more.

thanksgiving

Gratitude is something I have been thinking about quite a lot recently.  Not least because I attended my second funeral in as many weeks this afternoon.  This lady was a stalwart of the Catechist Team at the Cathedral in Nottingham, and she educated a generation of young people in preparation for the sacraments there.  She touched so many peoples lives, including my own, just by being positive and helpful and always being ready to give you a hug if you needed one.  Judging by the turnout at the Church this afternoon, she was well loved, and I know there were a lot of people giving thanks for Jennifer Hineson.  May she rest in peace.

As I drove home through a misty and drizzling afternoon, I was thinking about how many people never say thank you.  I have lost count of the number of times I have held a door open for people, or let them go first at the supermarket, or even when I have let them out at a junction, or given them something – they don’t say thank you.  I was raised to say please and thank you ALL the time.  But these days?  Well it is rare.  Very rare.  I can’t help feeling that this lack of gratitude coincides with an entitlement culture that people have where they seem to think that they are the centre of the universe and seem surprised to find out that actually, they aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things.  Nor will they become the Chief Executive just by turning up to the first day in the post room.

thank you

I am big on having an attitude of gratitude.  I say thank you, all the time.  To people, to God (especially to God), to the cats, to the dog, to everyone.  It keeps me grounded and it keeps me humble.  It also keeps me aware of what is going on around me.  I keep an eye out for the small amazing things that happen and remember to say thank you for them.

attitude of gratitude 2

This is why I think Thanksgiving is a great idea, and one that I wish the UK would adopt.  Imagine if you woke up tomorrow, only with the things you thanked someone for today?  I reckon a lot of people would be cold, naked, hungry and alone, come the morning.

So if you do just one thing today – think about all you have and say thank you for it.  It will lift your mood, if nothing else.  Go on.  Try it!

Giving myself a kick in the pants…

This is not only anatomically impossible, but figuratively quite difficult into the bargain.  However, it is important that I do something to get myself out of my current period of doldrums.  So, self administered bahookie kicking is prescribed.  Let me tell you why.

martyr

I have found myself, in the past few weeks, getting into the martyr groove.  You know the one.  The “Oh woe is me, my life is so hard, waah, waah, waah” groove.  The course of thinking which makes you feel like you have the most difficult life in the world ever and that you are put upon and generally not considered and not loved and everything sucks.  Even though the objective evidence is entirely to the contrary.  This has to stop.  Partly because it seriously irritates everyone around me, and partly because it is beginning to hack me off as well.

blessings

Here is the empirical truth.  I live in a gorgeous house, with a rain proof roof, stout walls and a central heating system.  Our fridge is working and is full of food.  I have a well stocked pantry and my health along with more energy than I can usually expend in one day.  I live with my life partner and best friend, my husband, who puts up with my crazy moods and my irritating habits and in turn, I put up with his.  I have a big garden that is ripe for change and amendment.  We are in the process of adopting a child/children which will make my dear wish to be a Mother come true.  I have a very supportive network very close around me (Mother and Father in law at the bottom of the garden and my Mum next door but three, to say nothing of my husband’s extended family who I know would pitch in if we hollered for help).  My husband adores me.  I have a car that works and gets me places.  We even have a bit of money in the bank.  Not loads.  But a bit.  Enough.

It is all good.  I am in a better position that the vast majority of the humans on this planet.  I should count myself lucky and appreciate it.

coffee life

Yes, there are little parts of that life that niggle.  There are even parts of life that can leave something of a scab and irritate even more.  But you know what?  Sometimes you need to stop navel gazing and look up at the world.  My life totally rocks.  So I need to appreciate it, grab it by the lapels and drag it as far as I can.  Life is to be lived.  Not moaned and complained over while nursing a cup of dodgy coffee.  If you are going to drug yourself with caffeine (and oh, I really, really do!) make sure it is the best sort of stuff you can get.  Live your life with that attitude to everything.

In this newly dug up spirit of optimism, my to do list at home has changed rather significantly.  After I have posted this blog, I am going to do a couple of my Herbalism study lessons.  It has been a long time since I did one, and I need to get back to doing them regularly.  Then I am going to write some more of my story (well, probably rewrite it.  It would appear that I am deeply in love with adverbs when I write fiction.  I need to stop it and try something else…!), and then if it hasn’t rained by then, I will pop into the garden and rake up some leaves.  Rake up lots of leaves.  I might even pile them all up somewhere and leap into them.  But probably not.  I am feeling optimistic… not masochistic!!

pile of leaves

Then later, I am going to assess the work that needs to be done in the house and come up with a plan to get it all done before the weekends so Hubby and I can arrange time to do fun stuff together… like bake and cook (it is so nice to have a kitchen big enough that we can both be in the same room at the same time!), take the dog on a long country walk, have friends over for a relaxed afternoon and evening, do some gardening together.  You know, the stuff that makes life totally worth living.

What are your plans for making your life brighter?  Let’s all go out there and live the life we have with energy and dynamism.  And if that feels a little tough for you right now… just plaster a smile on your face.  Fake it till you make it people!

Have a great weekend.