No β€˜white coaters’ required πŸ˜‰

Just a few of my little observations (OBS) on this fine evening, on life in general. Entirely my thoughts and probably a very interesting insight into the inside of my head. If you’re reading this AND wearing a white coat, you can stop reading now. I’m all good πŸ˜‚ Really, I’m perfectly sane πŸ€ͺ

OBS (No.1)

Perception is a little bit of a head f@#*. Yep, it really is. Very occasionally you will be a part of a conversation where your actual self is being described. Yes, you are the centre of the conversation 😳 Yet here’s the mind blowing bit. You’re hearing the words, you know it’s true, you are you after all. But you feel embarrassed, a bit sheepish, just a little bit uncomfortable. Why? Because your perception versus the outside worlds, well, they are very different. Maybe it’s time to start listening to the worlds perspective of you too. Not just the one in your head. The rounded view if you will. Just an idea.

OBS (No.2)

Some people, you’ll never please. So stop playing the game of trying! Ok, I’ve started with the point this time. But hey, mixing it up a bit isn’t a bad thing. One statement got me to this little insight. Just a small statement in a normal conversation.

There’s more to life than happiness.

Ummm… I’m sorry. Not buying it. Just doesn’t sit right with me as a ‘true’ statement. We were not put here on this Earth to suffer. We’re not just some weird experiment the Martians are using to test how much unhappiness one can endure! We’re here to live, happily, and just once. Yep, we’re here just once!! So there is no advantage to be gained in spending time trying to convince the all ready converted. Happiness is not only ok. It’s what’s meant to be. But don’t judge anyone for their beliefs… If they believe happiness is so insignificant in their lives, then they definitely need your love and kindness πŸ’•

OBS (No.3)

One word can turn a conversation. One tiny word can have that power (a small(ish) sentence can have the same effect too btw). You can go from talking rings to talking exit strategies in one fell swoop! OK, I’m exaggerating a tad, but you get my drift. It’s madness!! I think perspectives come in here (but that’s a bigger blog – see OBS No.1. This comes up a lot and deserves some dedicated time and attention). For now, let’s just be mindful of our words. All of us. Hey, it might just help in the now.

OBS (No.4)

Talking of the now, it really is true that the happiest people I know only ever focus on the right now. I mean now, as you’re reading, absolutely right this second. Obsessing about the past can lead to depression. It (whatever it is) is done and there’s nowt you can do to change it. Obsessing about the future, what if etc etc, can lead to anxiety. It (isn’t it a strange word… applies to pretty much any scenario) hasn’t happened, and you ARE NOT MYSTIC MEG!! (Sorry if you’re reading this Mystic Meg, obviously you are so you can obsess away πŸ˜‚). The point is, the only time you have any impact, any improvement, any anything… is right now.

OBVS (No.5)

Sometimes, you just have to get s!@t done. Wow, I’m swearing a lot tonight. Oh well, for one night only I’ll allow it! It kind of goes back to the now thing. If it (there’s that little word again) needs to be done, and it’s not now, then when? If you think these things through too much then there will always be an excuse that you’ll think of, you’ll find a better/more convenient/easier time than just getting on with it now. The ‘better’ time often leads to never. And that’s no good. So instead of overthinking from an “I’ll do it later” perspective, why not turn it round. Instead think “what’s the positive impact of doing it right now?” It’s much harder to put it off when you’ve concentrated on why you should do it.

Well, I could go on all night with this, but I’ve got s!@t to do. I’m following my own advice! Could I have found an easier time? Oh absolutely! Ripping out a kitchen two weeks before Christmas is a challenge for sure! (Don’t worry, the white coaters stopped reading ages ago πŸ˜‰). But the positive impact was too big to ignore. And already it’s actually resulted in marginally less chaos everywhere else (I know right, who’d have thought?) Plus, having a very focused and definite deadline means there’s no time for worrying, no choice but to be in the now. Bonus!

So I bid you goodnight for now, my kitchen is calling.

Laters lovelies 😘😘

What makes you tick?

Hey, truth is, opportunity shows itself everywhere, every single day. But ever wondered how you decipher one opportunity from the next? I know I have. When you’re bombarded daily on social media, with ad after ad of the next best thing? Everyone (or even just one someone) you meet has something in common that somehow connects you in a bizarre but wonderful way? A moment that connects you to something you hadn’t thought about before? Well, whether it’s fate, right of passage, a miracle! Who cares. Really. Just listen to your heart. From here on in, it’s all about just following your heart ❀️

Here’s my guarantee. If you do that, follow your heart, you’ll choose the opportunities that will work for you – and added bonus, you’ll avoid the (perfectly legitimate) opportunities that just aren’t you. Somehow, they just don’t fit.

Opening up your mind to what is really out there isn’t the easiest thing to do. In my experience, I’ve had to make more decisions being open than I ever did just following the norm. And when you think about the hype, the sea of brave, amazing and inspiring entrepreneurs, encouraging you to follow the exit (no life vests offered btw) towards your comfort zone, to put yourself out there, to go for it – versus the stability of a full-time salaried job where yes, you’re not exactly happy, but hey it pays the mortgage… just wow. Where’s the motivation? How do you even weigh up the two options? Mortgage, home, kids. They always come up trumps. ‘Job’ wins on the whole. Every time. But…

The thing is, unhappiness will chip away, just ever-so-slightly more discreetly. It will, bit by bit, diminish your true passion. You know that thing that makes you jump out of bed in the morning, that thing that makes you smile, the thing that you talk about over a glass of wine with your partner (that makes you just a little bit giddy inside because it genuinely makes you feel excited)… that dwindles away. Eventually. Slowly but surely. Don’t underestimate this cost. Because whether we like it or not, choose to admit it, choose to fight it… its a big cost nonetheless. Happiness is the one thing we have as human beings. We’re here for such a short time, why on earth would we choose anything other than a good time?

I guess that’s the crux of it. We’re here for just a minuscule of time in the real scheme of things. So a forty year career, doing what’s necessary, sacrificing time, passion, happiness (and all the other beautiful qualities we bury everyday) it’s not such a big deal right? If the mortgage is paid of course?

Well no. I don’t agree. Not entirely anyway.

There are many out there perfectly happy, living the lives they love, and still inspiring all those lucky enough to be around them. I personally salute them. They found their passion in the conventional way. The ‘right’ way. They get paid in a conventional ‘salaried’ way for what they’re truly passionate about. Hats off to each and every one of you. I truly do respect you’ve managed to find your niche in the world we live in. By the way, my partner, my soul mate, my sounding board, is one of those very people. Not only is he passionate about what he does, but he’s bloody good at it too. Maybe he’s living proof that you don’t need to work in the traditional sense – you can just do your hobby and get paid – if you work at being the best. I digress πŸ™„

But what about the rest of us? The us that haven’t quite got that? We haven’t quite got that instinctive passion or hobby. The rest of us being slowly extinguished by putting all of our effort into what doesn’t make our flames burn strong? What’s next for us?

Trouble is, it’s different for each and every one of us. There really isn’t just one answer. Because what makes us all tick, what ignites us, what makes us ‘do’ (whatever we need to do), what makes us really, truly, feel happy… there’s no strategy for that. That’s within you, and only you. The complete, perfect individual that you are, in your own right. The universal blueprint to success just doesn’t exist.

So here’s to thinking outside of the box. Find your passion, embrace it, and be brave enough to pursue it. Whether it’s changing career, moving away, travelling, setting up alone… just being bold enough to admit that you’re not really all that happy right now… just be brave. You’re here for a great time, not a long time. Enjoy that sacred time. Oh, and note to self, never ignore your own advice 😘

Lots of love lovelies xxx

Writing to heal

Just a short one today as it dawned on me (in a dream weirdly!) how much this blog helps me. I’d genuinely encourage everyone to work through any issues with words on paper. Now it doesn’t have to be a published blog for all to see. Believe me when I say there are reams of these in the abyss which is my archive! Maybe one day they’ll reach ‘published’ status, maybe they won’t. But that’s not the point. Because every single one has played a part in helping me to understand where I’m actually at.

So here’s a couple of things I’d highly recommend you try. Even if you’re sceptical, just humour me πŸ˜‰

  • When something has pee’d you off, write a letter

Clarity in your own mind, in any situation, will almost always result in a better outcome. The trouble is, when we’re peeved, emotions are running too high to really unpick what the actual feeling is. Taking 10 minutes to write your thoughts on paper seriously helps. Don’t hold back – write exactly the words that represent how you’re feeling. You don’t need to be J.K. Rowling here. And swearing is permitted too. Yay! It’s not being sent anywhere, it’s just a tool that allows you to process what’s happening in your head. When you read it back, 9 times out of 10 you’ll spot some words that make you a) less angry and b) much clearer on the real issue. Golden rule – it goes nowhere. Burn it if you must! This is for you and you only. So go for your life with it!

  • Get yourself a pretty notebook and call it your Little Book of Nice Things

Isn’t it funny how much energy we put into feeling it when things go wrong, but the good stuff – well we seem to just allow it to be a fleeting moment that we rarely hang on to. If we just put some energy into the nice bits, that’s got to be a good start at feeling happier right? My notebook is sufficiently pretty and starting to be filled with lovely snippets of the good life. And it could be anything in there – a compliment someone gave you that made you smile, a book you read that you thoroughly enjoyed, something a teacher said about your kids that made you beam with pride, a delicious meal that you loved, an achievement, fun with the kids, a new skill mastered… the list is endless! By taking the time to think about it enough to write it down, it cements that thing just a little bit more securely in your brain. Even if you just find one thing to write in it each day, that’s one moment in every day that you can smile and enjoy a good feeling. And when you’re feeling down, or things are going wrong, you now have a little book of nice things that you can read through to remind yourself it’s not all bad 😊

So that’s all from me today. I just wanted to share a couple of the things I’m finding really helpful – you never know when sharing might just help someone else.

Laters lovelies 😘

Do we really want to fight?

When you’re learning, or getting over something, no matter what that is, there’s always a phase of self discovery. The light bulb moments that somehow make things clearer, or show you the path that you need to take. If you’re looking for the answer, it’s always there. Somewhere. I wanted to share one of those discoveries on my journey through anxiety.

Notice I said my journey through anxiety. That statement right there is where this all began. You see, for as long as anxiety has been a part of me, I’ve always described it as suffering with or battling or fighting. And I described it that way because that’s exactly how it’s always felt! It’s been an exhausting fight, I have suffered and I’ve always believed the answer to ending the suffering is ridding myself of the very thing that’s caused the pain. I now however believe that the fact I’ve been fighting it for so long is the reason it’s still throwing punches straight back. Stick with me, let me tell you what I mean…

It’s no coincidence that the traits you’re born with help to shape who you are. Yes there are influences as you go through life that might alter things slightly but fundamentally you are who you are. Think about all the people you know – quiet friends, loud friends, some who like attention, some who love a quiet room – all different but all perfectly acceptable and loveable qualities. So what if being anxious is a fundamental part of your make up? Did you notice the automatic feeling was a negative one? Why is it that some traits have negative connotations and others don’t? So how about we instead look at what being anxious really means, just for a moment. Maybe it’s an intuitive cautiousness that you have to keep you out of harms way. Or perhaps it’s simply love for others that burns to help you keep them safe. It could be a deep empathy that you genuinely feel when someone else is in pain. Or a genuine dislike of the injustices in life. They all feel like they’re coming from a good place.

So where am I going with this? Well I guess my point is, to continually fight against a part of yourself, to try to change a part of who you are, to me, sounds like a battle with pretty rubbish odds. Would it not make much more sense to take the time to learn and recognise who you really are and how you’re made up? Then embrace every part of that, anxiety and all. Now of course, that’s never going to be easy. The worry remains and the physical symptoms that manifest are very real (and very unpleasant). Thankfully we live in a world where there are plenty of options to help that bit. But I do think if we can get to a deeper understanding of ourselves, those symptoms will rarely get us. Now obviously I’m not a scientist or a doctor (god, imagine that!) – I have nothing to back the theory up. Only my personal experience of when the symptoms kick in. And generally that’s when I feel overwhelmed or unsure – and always when I’m lacking an understanding of how I’m actually feeling. So what would happen if I knew myself inside and out and always had an understanding of where I’m at at any given time? I’m betting the odds are much better for me with it this way round.

I don’t think there’s any single way to navigate yourself through anxiety. I’ve previously shared some of the things I’m trying and I’ll continue to find new ways to help myself. This blog itself is all part of the journey too. So right now I’m grateful to be in a position where I can share my journey and I’m grateful that you took the time to come on the ride with me.

Anxiously yours 😘

The start of a new journey

This is a bit of a tough one for me. Anxiety. I think probably the hardest part is the feeling of being trapped in your own head. And with a head like mine, that’s a scary place to be πŸ˜‚ But in all seriousness, it’s like being in a tumble dryer, unable to open the door to stop the cycle because it’s moving so fast. Now I’m a logical person and I totally understand this is all anxiety created somewhere in my own thought processes. Trouble is, my logical brain is the conscious one, valiantly battling the negative thoughts every single day against the invisible enemy – the unconscious brain. And I honestly believe the key to getting better is hidden deeply in a chest inside that unknown bit. With that in mind, this isn’t a post all about anxiety (not quite ready for that so that’s for another day) – instead, it’s me sharing that I’ve picked up the treasure map and I’m off to find the key!

When you talk about thinking positively, people often sigh. I always wonder why. Is it that most of us don’t even realise that our thought patterns are negative? It’s actually harder than it sounds to be actively positive and once you become aware of your thoughts, it’s quite shocking how easy it is to be negative in the most basic of situations. That pesky subconscious is a sly ol’ dog that needs to be shown some puppy love… it takes patience, hard work and an acceptance of yourself to take it on. So I’ll give it my best shot. The way I see it, there’s nothing at all to lose but everything to gain. So I’m sharing here my journey to break the cycle, and go back to the positive, happy and the best version of me ❀️ And if anyone wants to take the ride with me, all the better…

  • Mindfulness and meditation

Wowsers this is a steep learning curve for me! My problem is I don’t know how to relax. And when I say relax, I mean really relax. Actual quiet time. Apparently silence makes me really uncomfortable – who knew πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ It’s early days and I’m most definitely a beginner but I’m dedicating 5 minutes every morning to meditation. And while I still feel a little silly at the moment (it is only day 6!) I have to admit, I do feel calm at the end of it. I’d highly recommend the Headspace app if you’re a meditation novice like me – I’ve just discovered a sleep exercise that I’ll be giving a go too! Watch this space…

  • Being grateful

This one is much easier and I really enjoy it as it forces me to look for the positives every single day. Before going to bed I always think of the things I’m really grateful to have. Now on a bad day, I might well borrow something from my pre-prepared basics list. But that’s ok because I see those days as just a bit of brain training. Reminding myself that there is always something to be grateful for. But here’s what I’ve found to be the magical bit of doing this. On a good day, because I know my bedtime routine is coming, I actively pay attention when something makes me smile. I take a moment to see it, feel it and I make a mental note. Then I get to relive it later as something I’m grateful for. It’s a subtle shift that makes a huge difference. And it’s definitely better to look for nice things because the added bonus is, somehow you miss what might have been negative on another day. Why not give it a go?

  • Spreading a smile

It’s surprising how far a smile can travel! Do you ever notice that sometimes you’ll walk down the street, or round a supermarket, without interacting with anyone at all? Now yes, walking around oblivious with your head down is no doubt easier. We’re often rushing, on a mission and lacking the time to make connections, even the small ones. But here’s the thing – making a conscious decision to take a few extra seconds to lift your head, make eye contact (no more than a few seconds mind… no one likes a weirdo!!) and smile really does change the feeling of that primary mission you were on. So simple yet effective. And who knows how many others feel even just slightly better like you? Definitely worth the few extra minutes.

These are my three focuses at the moment, and as they become second nature (unless I decide they’re not for me of course) I’ll be testing new techniques – I’ll keep you posted. Anxiety is bloody hard work and it’s hard work that we didn’t ask for. But we do have a choice. Continue as we are and continue with anxiety. Or try out something new and maybe not feel quite so bad anymore… no brainer for me.

Speak soon lovelies 😘

Fake it til you make it?

So this is a topic that I’ve talked about before. But previously I’ve talked about this one via live video so I wanted to revisit it in black and white. I was out running (ish – more walking to be fair!) and it came up in conversation sparking all those thoughts to the forefront. The great thing about taking the time to write is it often throws up thoughts you never even realised you had! So should you fake it til you make it?

I do think the principle of this strategy is a good one, to a point. But on the whole it’s one that I hear a little too often for my liking, and it’s one that’s often taken out of the context that it was intended – taken just a little bit too far. I genuinely feel it’s been lost in translation somewhere along the line and some have lost themselves along the way 😦 But before I elaborate on why I think that, why is it a good principle when used in the right way?

Well fundamentally, we all have to start right at the beginning. The starting block is the same and it’s how we push at the sound of the gun that determines how the rest of the race will go*. Now it would hardly be a good strategy to start the race saying to yourself this is my first race, I’m not very good yet, I’ll just see how it goes. That’s not a winners mindset, and to be successful in business you have to go out to everyday with the absolute belief that you can and will race your best race. So the fake it til you make it strategy comes into its own here. Hey, it might be the first race, I may not have the experience yet, I may have a lot to learn. But I can still leave the blocks pushing like I’m a winner πŸ’ͺ🏼 I think to give yourself a good talking to and fake a little bit of self confidence is absolutely a good thing.

Another thing I think it works for is giving you that little kick up the behind to push out of your comfort zone. When you start out most things will be new to you and if you wait until you’re an expert at everything, well, you’ll never do anything. Most of us learn best and fastest by the doing. I’m not sure if practice makes perfect, (there’s another one to explore right there πŸ˜‰) but practice definitely teaches you the lessons you need to learn to improve your skills. But I will add a caveat here that leads me nicely to my next point…

I believe faking it can be taken too far. Don’t just jump in blind. In a traditional job you will almost always start with an induction and some basic training. No, it’s not going to teach you everything you need to know, but it will teach you the basics to ensure that you won’t end up getting sacked as a result of silly mistakes. So why would running your own business be any different? Learn the basics, the theory, induct yourself and do the training. There is a fine line between faking it and coming across as untrained and unprofessional. People will forgive small mistakes, probably even forget them. But BIG mistakes… it’s a long way back from there.

What about using the fakery too often? What do I mean by that? Well for me, it’s all about honesty and realism. And in the real world, things just aren’t perfect ALL of the time. See life is life. Night will always follow day. Winter will follow Autumn. Monday morning will always be Monday morning. And every single one of us will have fabulous days and not so fabulous days. And all that stuff is perfectly normal and ok and actually, for me anyway, a reassurance that everything is as it should be. So seeing those seemingly perfect, no bad days, wonderfully fluffy worlds full of unicorns πŸ¦„ (ok, I’m exaggerating a tad, but you get my point) is actually a bit unnerving. Not to mention suspicious and showing the hallmarks of fakery. Of course you’ll share successes, that’s the fun part of running your business. Celebrate achievements. But keep it real as well.

One more thing I want to explore is something a little controversial. Not controversial because I think you won’t agree. More because it feels a bit uncomfortable calling out an issue that exists in an industry I love. Thankfully it’s only the minority but it’s frustrating nonetheless as it does reflect on all of us. Its the extreme of fake. It’s taking it way beyond what it was ever meant to be and it’s outright making stuff up. Yep, I said it. Don’t make stuff up. Remember I am talking extremes here… but if you’ve just bought a new car using the money from your day job, don’t tell everyone the business paid for it. There is no shame in building it up slowly. You’re building something great that doesn’t need to be undermined by making stuff up along the way. And I’m going to go out on limb here… the day you do buy that brand spanking new car, because of your business, I bet you don’t even feel the need to tell everyone how you bought it.

So let’s end it here, on some final thoughts. A summary if you will. I think fake it til you make it absolutely has its place in a good business strategy when it comes to mindset and building your skill set. But not at the expensive of effort, integrity, truth and professionalism. You’re in this for the long haul and if you lose trust you have an uphill struggle to get it back. So I say just be you, use all the strategies available to you to help you along the way, but everything in moderation, and always authentically you.

Laters lovelies 😘

*I say ‘race’ in the loosest sense possible! There’s no competition. You’re only competing with yourself, striving to be just a little bit better and stronger each time.

Can we be too open?

Here’s a topic I’ve wrestled with a lot. I say I’ve wrestled… what I mean by that is I’ve spent a lot of time justifying my openness to those that love me. You see, many of my loved ones think I show too much, think too much… then by default, say too much. I’ve wrestled because inside, I’m just saying and showing what I see, think, feel. So the question that has to be asked… when is the line between openness and privacy/behind closed doors crossed? Damned if I know! But let’s explore it anyway.

For me, the first port of call (and the most difficult) is that thing they call instinct. Believe me, this thing has got me into all sorts of trouble! Acting instinctively comes with its issues for sure. If your instinctive reaction affects you and only you, well that’s plain sailing. But the second that reaction relies on the reactions of others… well, it’s no longer your instinct. It’s your instinct relying on someone else having the same gut feeling. Oh dear, it’s confusing to write… Never mind to experience! We all perceive things differently, and all those perceptions are our own realities. Each and everyone of us. So it’s no wonder conflict arises when one person perceives some information as too much, while someone else just doesn’t. Just yesterday I was met with a ‘too much information’ comment. My response (damn that instinct!) ‘No such thing’.

Then there’s another issue. People who believe that others thrive on people’s weaknesses. Some of my nearest and dearest fall into this catergory. And I don’t disagree entirely! In fact, I love that they look out for me and keep my eyes open to that reality. Oh, and guess what, I have been burned by people doing exactly what my nearest and dearest have warned! The downside to openness is that everyone knows what you’re all about and should people choose to take advantage of that… well, you’re wide open to it! However, why should you become someone different and attempt to wrap yourself in cotton wool to protect yourself from others? I know if I’d done that, I’d have missed out on so many great people, missed some pretty special bonds and relationships, and likely missed out on a whole load of fun too! My ‘too much information’ stance has lead me to many of my favourite people in the world. So instead of changing who we are, why can’t we just change our mindsets and learn to deal with the bad only if it happens.

Now obviously, there are inevitably things you don’t need to tell the world. I’m well aware this contradicts my earlier no such thing as too much information statement. But let me defend it with this. While I may not tell the world absolutely everything, it doesn’t mean I haven’t had some rather cringeworthy conversations over the years with the people I’m proud to call my circle.

So that I guess brings me to what I think is the answer to can we be too open? I really think, as long as you know your boundaries (toilet habits on a first date might be too much πŸ˜‰), you can’t be. Everybody we meet deserves the real YOU. Because that’s how true bonds are created. That’s where you find the ones that really matter. And yes, the odd rogue may slip through the net and granted, it’s not the nicest feeling. But hey, you get over it because you have to. On the flip side, the times you can turn to people when you need them, because they really know you, just because you’ve been nothing but the real you, far outweighs those little blips.

So don’t be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s the sign of a big heart. And with a big heart, IF you need it, they’ll always be someone to help break the fall.

Laters lovelies xx