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What's your morning routine?

So what’s a morning routine? Well, buried in that frantic rush that passes for mornings in many households is a morning routine. Much of it is mundane – toilet, washing, dressing, breakfasting – but it is setting the scene for your day, even if you’re not aware of it. If your day starts with shouting or wrangling, does that set the tone for the rest of your day, or do you already have an unconscious process to unwind? Maybe you have a cup of tea whilst you stroke the cat, or perhaps you take the dog for a walk and get to exchange cheerful greetings with other dog walkers. But what about those of you who have to navigate the morning rush hour rather than return home for a period of head clear

5 tenets to live by

The twist? That these are the tenets of Leo Esaki, Nobel Prize winning Physicist, and not those of a self-development guru. For if we limit ourselves to a narrow source of inspiration, we risk closing our minds to the vast range of wisdom and experience available to us. So, on to those five tenets … In the womb we are formed simply from our genes – that which we’ve inherited from our biological parents. This forms the Nature aspects of who we are. But then we are born, and everything from our experience of birth itself onwards, forms the Nurture aspect of who we become. Some of those experiences will be positive and some will be negative. The obvious take is that we should avoid being trapp

New Year, new you? No thanks!

On January the 2nd, the hashtag #NewYearNewYou was trending on Twitter. Being a coach, I headed over there pronto to see what I could pick up – some new inspirational quote or meme, perhaps a new twist on resolutions and how to keep them? But what resonated with me was how many people were already rejecting it. And we’re not talking people who’d picked the wrong resolution, or those who just couldn’t be bothered but ... Well, this tweet put it succinctly ... The self-development and coaching businesses are a massive growth industry, but I believe this statement has a lot of validity. It’s easy to be glib and to assume that everyone needs or wants to change for the better. It’s even easier t

Feeling good? What if you could bottle that feeling?

Well, you can. I can’t transform it into liquid and put it in a bottle, but I can give you an anchor point to press instead. And when you press that anchor point, you will re-experience everything about that moment when you were feeling good. Today, I am walking around as if I’m six foot tall. I’ve just completed a demanding, time-consuming period of training. Last night I found out I’d qualified. If I thought last night felt good, this morning has felt even better. Now I’m a naturally happy person – I smile at strangers – and not to freak them out! But today, I’m not just happy, I feel confident. Mega confident. And this is not my natural state … It’s not due to just the successful completi

Are you a swan?

You know … flowing along gracefully and elegantly on the surface, but paddling frantically out-of-sight? If you are, you’re not alone. There’s a lot of it about. For some swans, it’s all about having too much to do and too little time. Often it’s also about being a bit of a perfectionist and that’s OK. We all have our little traits, but we do have to guard against their becoming a stick to beat ourselves with. Busy people, achievers and planners don’t see themselves as needing help with getting stuff done … ‘cos they don’t. What they may need help with is … prioritising, delegating, setting boundaries and learning to say no. But they’re not good at asking … are they? For some of those elegan

What do you get from a Life Coach that you can't get from friends?

Perspective, distance, clarity of thought, active listening not just waiting for their chance to speak, no emotional investment or involvement … oh and training. A good life coach will have studied not just coaching, but varying aspects of Psychology, even the neuroscience behind body language and behaviour. The best remain life-long students, seeking out new and relevant practices and techniques to assist their clients. Nevertheless, the question still gets asked. I’ve been asked it by friends, as well as by clients. So what does a Life Coach do that a friend doesn’t? Well, let’s start with the fact that you seek a life coach when you don’t know what to do, or you don’t know how to do it. T

#BoringSelfCare

I know that I bore you all to death with my views about the importance of self-care, but this is just a quick post. I recently read an article about self care being more than doing lovely things for oneself – you know, have a massage, take a bubble bath, stroke a puppy kinda thing. It was making the very valid point that self-care is a constant requirement for some, not just something to be practiced when life gets stressful. And it was hugely important to be reminded about those who struggle with the everyday stuff like getting out of bed, going shopping for food, cooking and eating it, and clearing up afterwards. Things like changing the bedlinen, bathing as a methodology to keep clean not

Life is just too short to ...

Our daily lives are so full of should’ve and ought to, instead, how about we practice saying “no” when we want to rather than “yes” because we feel we should? Here’s a couple of situational examples to express what I mean. Telemarketing calls These are a huge waste of time – what with the scripts they have to follow, their determination not to hear you say “no” politely, but far more insidious is how they can take advantage of the old and lonely. I’ve spent a fair amount of time undoing ‘stuff’ that my mother has signed up for which she doesn’t really want and certainly doesn’t need. But she’s too polite, or she didn’t understand, or they persuaded her to take out a trial subscription which

How was it for you? 2016 that is ...

In a year that most people on the planet would count as an annus horribilis, seeking the positives may well be a tricky ask. This time last year, I suggested that resolutions were a waste of time and that setting goals – broken down into achievable steps – was the way to go. Equally, that looking back at the year with a positive eye to see what we were able to achieve, rather than focusing on “failures”, was the way to ensure that we could face the next year with heads held high and a spring in our step. I know one person whose decision to do just that, coupled with their determination to achieve goals, meant that they were posting beautifully happy end-of-year photographs this December 31st

Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! Is it, and are they?

I’m going to have to admit to loving Christmas. I tend to go overboard with all the decorating, the gifting, the eating and the drinking. But even with my passion for the season, I’ve experienced Christmases which weren’t merry and Holidays that weren’t especially happy. It can happen to anyone; what’s worse, it happens to some people every year. This isn’t going to be a litany of the multiple possible reasons for that sadness, a method of making you feel guilty, or of enforcing thoughts of gratitude which should be felt. Rather, I’m holding out a hand to say that if you’re one of those people feeling sad in the build-up to the festive season and you don’t feel that you should because your l

Ruby Wax's "Sane New World: Taming the Mind"

… or as I like to think of it Mindfulness, but without the hippy dippy vibe. This has been on my ‘to read’ list for ages. At the back of my mind, I wondered whether it would be too tempting for a comedian to turn everything into a punchline, but I kept hearing good things and it finally punched it’s way to the top of that overcrowded list. My very short review is: Read it! For if you allow the brash, abrasive side of Ruby’s public persona to stop you, you’ll miss learning how your mind works. This book isn’t just about Mindfulness, it’s about Neuroscience. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get bogged down in scientific jargon, this is a book written for everyman. And, in my humble opinion, it d

Time wasted - is it a waste of time?

So, we faff about, we procrastinate, we do all those other unimportant things when we could be … working, achieving, ticking things off our to-do list, doing housework, getting fitter – I could go on and you’re probably mentally adding your own stuff. If you’re struggling with focus or unable to concentrate due to depression or unhappiness, that’s a different issue and an important one that needs to be faced, understood and treated with kindness. No, what I’m talking about here is the other every-day kind of time wasting. There’s taking a moment to smile because the sun is shining and doing that British thing of sharing your pleasure in sunshine with your friends, your colleagues, random peo

The one about the frog in boiling water

I thought everyone knew this story but, today, I discovered that wasn’t the case. Two of my loved ones looked at me with utterly blank faces when I called them frogs in boiling water. And, it’s a good story, so it can stand repeating. If a frog jumps into a pot of boiling water, it’s hot, so he jumps straight back out. But if a frog jumps into a pot of cool water which is slowly but steadily heated up, even once the water reaches boiling point, he will not realise and so he stays in it. Whilst the first frog will be a bit burnt, he will recover. The second frog will die, without having any idea that the water is killing him. I’ve always found this a very powerful metaphor for stress and our

Talking about your feelings - how hard can it be?

Very. Not for everyone, of course. But this is one of those areas where there’s often a split along gender lines. At a young age, boys experience as wide a range of emotions as do girls, often with a higher level of intensity. How then can it be that men struggle? And not just struggle to talk about their feelings, but even to identify what those feelings are? From childhood to manhood, how are we training their ability to emote out of them? I saw we, not just as a woman and a mother, but as a human being. It isn’t just one person at the bottom of this, because society is made up of plenty of individuals, masses of media, all telling boys that they need to toughen up, to fix stuff, to look a

Proper planning avoids poor performance - plus practice makes perfect!

Yes, I do like a bit of alliteration … I considered titling this that infamous Yoda line: “Do! Or do not. There is no try!” because I remember how perplexed I was on first hearing it. I thought it was some sort of knit-pick over selection of language not being active enough, you know a criticism of lack in commitment being made. Because often, when people say they will try, they are usually already on the road to finding the excuse why they end up not doing it. But, actually, I believe what that wise Star Wars guru was telling us is to make a decision, an active choice, “Just Do It” (oh I’m so full of the clichéd catch phrases today) ... or decide not to. That there’s nothing wrong with giv

Body fascism - as practised upon ourselves, by ourselves

…. and what impact it has not just on us, but on the next generation. Read Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin … Every Inch of It by Brittany Gibbon. Read it and tell me you didn’t think “I do that” or “I remember my mother doing that”. I know a gorgeous woman – but one who has never been skinny. She has curves, she’s womanly, feminine and beautiful. Her hair is long and dark, she has perfect peachy skin with just the right amount of freckling, and lovely big almond shaped eyes that she makes-up to perfection. She has beautiful hands with long nails, perfectly shaped and painted, she is always exquisitely turned out. But she worries … all the time. She hear

What can you do when someone you love has a problem?

You could give them your advice, maybe you could tell them how to fix it – and there is no doubting that, sometimes, that is what your someone would like from you. But what about those other times? Those times when they know what to do, they know how to fix it, but they have this other problem … it is hard, maybe even impossible, for them to do, right now. What then? Sometimes, the problem is simply in grasping the nettle, is in making the change and for those times, offering encouragement and positive re-inforcement is the way to go. Job done! Other times, the problem really is a big problem – it could be depression, or OCD, or some form of phobia, or one of a huge range of mental health i

What did you achieve in 2015?

What did you achieve in 2015? A bit like that song: “what did you do today to make you feel proud?” I’ve stolen this idea from another blogger – isn’t it a lovely positive one? Rather than the “what I didn’t get done” list that we use to beat ourselves up with, it’s a far better way of putting aside the old year and transitioning into the new one. Ending one year on an upbeat note is more likely to lead to starting the new one the same way. That list could contain some professionally related achievements – for me, building this website during 2015 was one task which gave me much satisfaction. There would surely be some personal achievements too – for me, having moved into a small apartme

Mental Health

Two things got me thinking about mental health this week. The first was a Facebook post from a friend in the US asking us all to pray for a family she knows who’ve just lost their teenage daughter to suicide. The second was an article in the Guardian entitled ‘Mental patient’ Halloween costumes: a scientific guide to dressing accurately. I’m pretty certain you’ll realise the article’s title is tongue-in-cheek and was written in order to attract attention, but have you ever wondered why it’s necessary to draw people in with wit or humour in order to get them reading about such an important subject? That same article has used images in order to make its point, you know, just in case the words

Know someone who's been diagnosed with cancer?

A cancer diagnosis is traumatic – for the person with cancer, for their partner, children, family, friends, neighbours, colleagues … It can reach its bad news tentacles a long, long way. A big problem with cancer is that most of us are uneducated about the facts. For the man in the street, the C word is scary, but its also confusing. It used to spell the end, but does it still? You hear people speaking of “good” cancers and “bad” cancers, which you can understand when you look at the difference in the survival statistics between, for example breast cancer and ovarian cancer. But that’s a simplified view and there are complications – such as when the cancer is diagnosed, whether its a r

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