A gift from autism -How to be honest with yourself and others

Over the last few weeks I have been in the strange position to be surrounded by people who can not, or choose not to communicate openly about their feelings. I have seen people suppressing painful emotions, people refusing to believe the reality before them, people happily complaining about another person, but not clearly communicating with them what they want and need. It’s been surreal to observe. And in some cases painful seeing people hurting themselves and others by not being able to own their emotions.

It was amazing to see the excuses people gave themselves for not communicating their issues to the other people. “They wouldn’t listen” “They don’t need to hear this right now.” People actually preferred to not own their emotions not to be honest with themselves rather than communicating their needs honestly and openly. In some cases it seemed as though people would rather have the issue than seek the solution.

It baffled me that it seems to be a social norm that people avoid resolution by not communicating honestly and expecting it to get fixed without effort.  My inner Vulcan was incensed by this illogical and irrational behavior. Until I realized it all boils down to honesty. Or rather our ability to be honest with ourselves and others.

So what is it that holds us back from being honest? Well there are many reasons. However, in my work I have found there are two common trends that stop you from being honest:

  • It’s easier to blame someone else rather than yourself.
  • You are afraid of rejection

And I get it. I used to have these issues too. However that was the days before Mr T came into my life. Mr T has Asperger and for those of you that know a little about Asperger’s you will know that it is a strain of autism. Now autism can be seriously challenging to live with. However it does come with gifts too. One of the things that comes with this, at least in Mr T’s case, is blatant honesty. And by blatant I mean knows no boundaries and is incredibly blunt. The little blue lies that get other men out of trouble, do not exist for him. Obviously in the early days of our relationship this caused one or two issues. However, as I got to know him I began to realize that this blatant honesty was a blessing rather than an hindrance. In fact it is something all non autistic people can benefit from.

When I began to operate from the same level of honesty an amazing shift happened in our communication. For one thing it freed me up from the confusion of cross communication. If one of us didn’t understand then we said so. It made me more comfortable in expressing my needs and more accepting of hearing his. It saved a huge amount of time and emotional energy. And when we applied this honestly consciously to our actions we began to learn which dramas we were operating from it gave us a whole new understanding of ourselves.

These days if we get into a row one of us will ask ‘which drama are you operating from right now?‘ Drama being a code for a previous life experience, fear or insecurity that is being projected onto a current situation. This question gives the other person the opportunity to self reflect, identify what is really going on and to own it. Rather than projecting it. (It also quickly allows us to identify misunderstandings in our communication. An added bonus) It’s so empowering. By fostering this level of honesty in our communications it supports us to be honest with ourselves and each other.

And what I have found is that this magic question “what drama am I operating from?” is that it can also be used by myself on myself. I want to lose weight, but don’t want to stop eating junk food, well that’s straight away from my low self confidence and the hating people (even myself) dictating what I can and can’t do from my childhood dramas. Frustrated at my boss’s lack of positive feedback, there is my need for acknowledgement from my father drama. Once identified and owned, the solutions of how to solve the issue comes quite quickly. And as I always say if you can understand something, you can do something about it.

Of course honesty does sometimes hurt. Its part of the package. Mr T’s explanations of why he has not proposed yet hurt like buggery. Yet I knew that he wasn’t being malicious or intending pain, he was simply explaining his truth. Instead of letting the upset take over I was able to discuss it with him and actually we had a really enlightening conversation about it. Remember if you give honesty there are people out there who will give it back. If the honesty hurts own the feeling and find out why it hurts, see what it is you need to work with. And remember to respond not react.

Now I am not going to say communicating with another person, or even ourselves at this level of honesty isn’t challenging. It is. It takes a lot of bravery to take ownership of our insecurities at this level and a level of vulnerability to be honest in the face of potential rejection and societal norms. However what I know from practicing it is that it gets easier with time. And it simplifies life enormously. If I explode that Mr T yet again has not emptied the dishwasher I know that underneath it is a back history of frustration at  partners who expected me to get on with everything even at the point of self destruction. This quickly reminds me that Mr T is not one of them and changes the explosion to me asking him how we can remind him to do his chores. If I use the drama question on myself then I quickly get to the root cause of whatever is bothering me. However I use it it quickly leads to the solutions phase.

Basically being brave enough to get over the blame game and our fear of rejection to be honest about what is going on with us and own it makes life so much easier. And who doesn’t want that. One of the best side effects of this level of honesty is respect. As you become more honest with yourself, you respect yourself more and other people reflect that  too. Infact your bullshit sensors get so highly tuned that you tend to filter out unnecessary and unwanted bs, surrounding yourself with people who both respect and inspire you by saying what they really think.

Try it and see for yourself.

Let me know how you get on with your honesty experiences in the comments below

Have an amazing week and remember to enjoy your journey <3

Advertisements

#lifelessons101 – How to Recover from a Meltdown

If there is one thing certain about life it’s that there are ups and downs for all of us. And sometimes they come all at once which can result in a complete and utter total emotional meltdown. To be honest, I don’t think I have met a person who hasn’t experienced a complete meltdown. That moment where you are looking at everything you have to cope with and you simply can’t deal with it anymore. And something tips you over the edge

It could be a problem at work, at home, a dream that seems impossible to reach, or that day where everything goes wrong, when you are under an extreme amount of pressure the smallest thing can tip the balance and you find yourself in tears unable to see the way through and incapable of the most basic things on your to do list.

I recently had a major meltdown. Overly exhausted, nothing was working out. Instead of the planned vacation I was looking forward to a family member suddenly was close to death which meant some seriously hard recurring visits to the hospital on top of which I was under immense pressure at work, I was getting behind on the simplest of tasks. My home was a mess. I was a mess. The exhaust fell off the car. And one evening when I hadn’t noticed the dinner I made was put on the table still half frozen it felt like the whole world came crashing down around me and I exploded in a flood of tears. I cried for about 2 hours solidly and by the end I felt like I had done 30 rounds with Mike Tyson and as a emotionally capable as a soggy paper towel. I honestly haven’t had such a big meltdown in the longest time. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

You might be shocked that I can still have these experiences. That somehow being a Life Coach means I’m immune to such experiences. It doesn’t.  My overwhelm has lessened considerably over many years, but being human means that from time to time things inevitably pile up. For me being a coach doesn’t mean avoiding such instances altogether, but learning how to move through them with less suffering.

So once done with the cathartic tears, there I sat in the middle of the same situation. And the only person who could get me out of it was me. I needed to recover, to climb back out of the large hole and get it together again. And that’s where my coaching background is my saviour.  I feel pretty lucky to have the tools needed for a quick recovery, and the understanding that while pain isn’t optional- suffering really is.

Recovering from a total emotional meltdown can seem like the most impossible of tasks. However, with a little conscious thought and gentle self care it is possible to get back on the horse again after a meltdown.

The first step to recovery is to know what not to do if you actually want to feel better:

  • Get drunk
  • Binge watch Netflix
  • Stay up all night reliving the horror
  • Eat junk food
  • Stop eating
  • Pretend you are ok – So Ignore, avoid, numb, deny your feelings
  • Try to get back up to full speed immediately

I know these because I have done them all in the past. And from experience I can tell you that all of these things will make you feel worse, keeping you in the black pit and ultimately delay your recovery.

Here is what does work to feel human and whole again after a meltdown:

Step 1:  Get a 48 hour break

Meltdowns are a flashing neon sign that you are under an enormous amount of stress beyond your bodies capability.  When you meltdown you need someone to help relieve you of your instant pressure. If you had a fever you wouldn’t be able to do everything a meltdown is an emotional fever. So its ok to ask your partner to take on the primary child care for 48 hours. You need a break to recover so do whatever you can to lighten your load. 48 hours of rest and self care will help you get back up again so delegate your major responsibilities and tasks that make you feel as though you want to cry and allow yourself this time you need to recharge.

Step 2: Self Care

In the initial stage of recovery you will be feeling vulnerable and that is totally ok. You cannot expect to cry it out and then hop up and say I am all good now. Initially you need a large dose of self care. Cancel your appointments. Take some time out to do what feels good for you. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to sleep, sleep. For me doing things I liked to do as a child really helps. Like playing tetris on the game boy. Hiding under a duvet on the sofa reading a book. Or even colouring books help me. My other go is yoga. (I highly recommend the Yoga with Adriene Head and Heart Reset video after a melt down).  You might feel better from having a bath, going for a run. Find what feels good for you.

Step 3: Start with the basics

As humans are basic needs are food, water, sleep. After that being clean is a great help to feeling better. Take baby steps. Have some food. Drink some water. Get some rest. Then get dressed, brush your teeth. If, as is often the case during a melt down period your home is a mess and your fridge is empty ask a friend over to help you do the basic things like the washing, cleaning or food shopping. Getting support will help you feel that you are not alone and that is so important for recovery from a meltdown.

Step 4: Prioritise after your needs

So the long to do list is probably one of the main factors you had the meltdown in the first place. To recover you need to prioritise after you own needs if you don’t want to relapse. There is no point working to someone else’s tempo right now. Whereever possible cut out all social arrangements. Being around to many people won’t help you right now.  (Avoiding social media helps at this stage too). Identify the things that are really important for your mental health to do. For me it included getting the house tidier, writing an article and focusing on my priority clients were what was most important at that time, so that is what I focused on. If I couldn’t delegate another task then it would have to wait. Simple as that.

Step 5: Get some vitamin D

As soon as you can and no later than 48 hours get outside and go for a walk. If you live in a busy area then shut out the noise with some music or an audiobook. A sunny boost Vitamin D helps no matter what time of the year it is.  Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming and restorative benefits to be achieved. So find a place in nature or even a park where you can take a gentle walk and feel rejuvenated.

Step 6: Take each day one step at a time

As you feel stronger don’t take on too, much too soon. Recovery from a meltdown takes time. Follow you needs. Just take one step at a time.

Step 7: Give yourself moments of peace

And as you get stronger remember to give yourself moments of peace. Meditate, read a book, have a 20 minute rest lying in bed listening to music, exercise, be creative, give yourself a foot massage and get to bed before 10pm. One of the reasons the meltdown occurs is because in the situation you have been in you haven’t been taking care of yourself. An emotional meltdown is a VERY loud universal message that you need to take care of yourself. It is important to hear and heed that message.

————————————————————————-

If you find that after the 48 break your are still weeping and under the duvet this is the point where you are probably in need of professional help. There are many wonderful practices out there from counselors, therapist, doctors, alternative medicine that are ready to support you. It is OK to get help when you need it.

What are your go to’s for quick meltdown recovery? What helps you move from from breakdown to breakthrough? Let me know in the comments below


Have a wonderful weekend <3

Solo travel – how to make your adventure the perfect personal growth opportunity

I love adventures. I love having things to look forward to. For me it keeps life interesting. For me the best kind of adventure is going somewhere I have never been before. Travelling, is one of all of my clients top goals. Now I love to travel with loved ones and friends, it’s great to share memories when we come home. However, the ultimate adventure for me is travelling alone. Going to a new country. Figuring out where to go, what to do, how to get there. It’s exhilarating, exciting and always an opportunity for personal growth.

I took my first alone trip when I was 18, starting with London. Then a day trip to Calais. And then a month travelling South Africa during my divorce, launched my alone pilgrimages around the world. As we speak I am on the train from Denmark taking my first proper trip to Germany. (Somehow up until now I have only ever passed through the country and seen all manner of service stations).  And when I look back all my travels have been at points in my life when I was in need of inner reflection, transition points where in an intense period of time I grew a lot as a person.

Solo travel is the perfect opportunity for personal growth. For one thing it takes us out our comfort zone. Challenging us to be brave. Travelling alone gives us less noise. Our horizons are widen. We don’t have the need to talk to entertain or in some cases perform. As we observe reflect, as we reflect we grow.  As the travel channel says “Travel is not a reward for working it’s education for living.”  And today in world where personal development is such a trend and it’s easier than ever to travel the world we have the good fortune to maximise the personal growth opportunity of solo travel.
Solo travel is the perfect opportunity for personal growth. For one thing it takes us out our comfort zone. Challenging us to be brave. Travelling alone gives us less noise. Our horizons are widen. We don’t have the need to talk to entertain or in some cases perform. As we observe reflect, as we reflect we grow.  As the travel channel says “Travel is not a reward for working it’s education for living.”  And today in world where personal development is such a trend and it’s easier than ever to travel the world we have the good fortune to maximise the personal growth opportunity of solo travel.

So on this mini adventure I am going to do just that. (After all a life coach has to practice what they preach.)  Putting into practice everything I have learnt from my other adventures to see if I can maximise the opportunities on the trip ahead.  If you are lucky enough to have a half term or weekend/ mid week break coming up, try this recipe for your personal growth adventure and don’t forget to let me know how it goes in the comments below.

Set your intention

On a personal growth adventure the location isn’t as important as the intention for travelling. Decide what it is you need from your trip. For me this journey is as much about having some time to write as it is to think about the direction of my career combined with satisfying my wanderlust desires and a need to challenge myself by travelling alone in a new country.

Choose a destination inline with you intention and your instincts

You might decide you want to reconnect with your inner child and go to a beautiful fairytale castle or have some alone time in a solitary cabin in the woods. You might want to challenge yourself and end up zip lining down a mountain in Brazil. Try and align your destination with your intention but at the same time don’t forget to listen to your instincts. If you get the pull to go somewhere check it out.

Schedule alone time

This is really important. I am lucky and have friends all over Europe so I can pretty much stay in any country I like for free. However, it can be tiring to be a guest all the time. So even if you are going to visit friends schedule some time to yourself. Nothing is more healing or more mindful than having a day just going with your own flow and following your own desires.

Don’t overbook your schedule

Make sure you give yourself some time that is free for going with the flow. There is alot to see and do around the world but some of the most enlightening adventures come unplanned and spontaneously. That’s how I found myself drinking champagne outside an igloo on top of an austrian mountain last year enjoying the beautiful sunshine on the snow.

Challenge yourself

Now travelling alone is challenging but try and push the boundaries back a little more on your trip and plan to do something that will challenge you. When we challenge ourselves we grow. And often end up with better stories to tell and a sense of self achievement.  Sometimes the challenge is accidental and its about learning to cope not react to it. (For example I had a conductor read my ticket wrong and that meant I had a two hour delay. No sweat I went to the art gallery, it was a nice trip!)

Immerse yourself in the new culture

Learning about a new culture is widening both of the mind and spirit. Wherever you are in the world on your travels try the local food, go out where the locals go. Find the off beaten track that will show you something new. I find from travelling I have not only learnt to appreciate new things, perspectives, beliefs and yummly, food, I have also learnt a lot about my own culture. Both it’s strengths and weaknesses. Travelling gives you a fresher perspective on your own roots ergo deepening your understanding of yourself.

Remember to Play

When we travel we often do or say things we wouldn’t do at home. I always recommend playing. It is healthy at any age. But I especially advise doing it when you are abroad. Children are much more open to new experiences. Let your inner child guide you into seeing the world with a fresh perspective and allow them to inspire you.

Keep a Journal

With all these new sights, sounds, experiences and thoughts it can be easy to forget all the flashes of insight and clarity you have. I recommend keeping a travel journal. I still have mine from South Africa. Going back and looking at it reminds me how far I have come and reminds me of the lessons and insights I still need to remember now.

Enjoy the journey

Don’t stress about the personal development part of your journey. Be present. Enjoy it. And allow the inspiration to flow naturally.   In my experience the most enlightened thoughts sometimes turn up in the strangest of places!

——————————————————

What have you learnt from traveling solo? Please share in the comments section below!

Have a wonderfully adventurous week <3

#Lifelessons101 – Finding your identity after a break up

Breakups are the worst. Not much more to say about that. The healing process after can be really tough if you have spent so long being us that you can’t remember how to be me.

After a break up you can feel a bit lost at first. Over the years, your thoughts and lifestyle patterns have been in unionism with another individual and once that habit breaks, it’s almost feels like you have lost a bit of yourself in the process

We’ve all been there. Finding your identity again after a breakup can be a real challenge. Yet remembering who you are and discovering who you are now, knowing who you are and what you want out of life is one of the most important steps to healing and growing. And is one of the gifts of learning you get from a break-up.

Now I have had my share of failed relationships. Yet through the many trials and tribulations  and I have found a fail safe formula to get back on track and find myself again. Knowing who you are and where you want to be relatively quickly. Sounds unbelievable right? Well it works. It’s worked for me. And it works for every client I have ever had in a breakup situation.

The process has 3 steps. Do them at your own tempo. Moving forward is a process not an on and off switch you can flip. So just take each step when it feels right.

So if you have come out of a relationship and can’t remember who you  are anymore and want to move forward please just try this method and I hope from the bottom of my heart it helps xxx

Step 1: Find your dreams

I discovered this during my divorce. It was a relatively short lived marriage and stopped so abruptly I was still full of the dreams, goals and hopes I had for our future. I couldn’t actually remember what I had wanted before. And I had no idea what I wanted at them time. So I made a list. (If you are regular here you know that I LOVE lists!) This was a special list. PArt bucket list and part goals. I wrote down everything I could thing of I wanted to do, had dreamed of doing, wanted to learn or try. The list included learning to skateboard, getting an education, baking my own bread and travelling alone to a foreign country. Once written I looked at what I could put into action straight away. I grabbed a skateboard and in my suit I skated to the office every day. I went travelling around South Africa. I booked surfing and motorcycle lessons. Now to be fair I was overly trying but it helped. Everytime I felt despondent I looked at my dream list and worked out how to make something happen. Within 3 months I was enjoying life again and felt more empowered than I had done in so many years. In Fact I am still working out of that original list today. Just 20 minutes in one of my hardest of life moments became a total game changer.

So grab some paper and a pen and start to write your dream list. Include both stupid things, practical things and things you think might be unachievable. The sky’s the limit. Once written fulfill one of them. Make it happen.

Step 2 – Find your passion

So a little while after you have started to live out some of your dreams. You might find yourself wanting something more substantial. It’s at this point I recommend finding your passion in life. If you already know it you can choose to either skip this stage or use it to check in that you are on the right path. The 7 strange questions created by Mark Manson is the most effective method I have found to identify what it is that really sparks your passion. Originally created to to find your life purpose these questions are a no bs way of cutting straight to what is important, in an easy and accessible format.

 The 7 strange questions – The questions were invented by Mark Manson however they are slightly adapted.

1. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR OF SHIT SANDWICH AND DOES IT COME WITH AN OLIVE?

Think about the worst possible life style you could have that you could tolerate and find some happiness in. So not the worst lifestyle you have, but what is your bottom line?

2. WHAT IS TRUE ABOUT YOU TODAY THAT WOULD MAKE YOUR 8-YEAR-OLD SELF CRY?

We all have a tendency to lose touch with what we loved as a child. Something about the social pressures of adolescence and professional pressures of young adulthood squeezes the passion out of us. We’re taught that the only reason to do something is if we’re somehow rewarded for it. However our 8 year old self didn’t think like that. The did things for the sheer joy of it. What brought you joy then that you don’t do now?

3. WHAT MAKES YOU FORGET TO EAT AND POOP?

Maybe for you, it’s computer games. Maybe it’s organizing things efficiently, or getting lost in a fantasy world, creativity, sport or teaching somebody something, or solving technical problems. Whatever it is, don’t just look at the activities that keep you up all night, but look at the cognitive principles behind those activities that enthrall you. Because they can easily be applied elsewhere.

4. HOW CAN YOU BETTER EMBARRASS YOURSELF?

Before you are able to be good at something and do something important, you must first suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing. That’s pretty obvious. And in order to suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing, you must embarrass yourself in some shape or form, often repeatedly. And most people try to avoid embarrassing themselves, namely because it sucks.

Right now, there’s something you want to do, something you think about doing, something you fantasize about doing, yet you don’t do it.You have your reasons, no doubt.if your reasons are, “My parents would hate it,” or “My friends would make fun of me,” or “If I failed, I’d look like an idiot,” then chances are, you’re actually avoiding something you truly care about because caring about that thing is what scares the shit out of you, not what mom thinks or what Timmy next door says.

5. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SAVE THE WORLD?

Find a problem you care about and start solving it. Obviously, you’re not going to fix the world’s problems by yourself. But you can contribute and make a difference. And that feeling of making a difference is ultimately what’s most important for your own happiness and fulfillment.

6. GUN TO YOUR HEAD, IF YOU HAD TO LEAVE THE HOUSE ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, WHERE WOULD YOU GO AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Discovering what you’re passionate about in life and what matters to you is a full-contact sport, a trial-and-error process. None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity.

So ask yourself, if someone put a gun to your head and forced you to leave your house every day for everything except for sleep, how would you choose to occupy yourself? And no, you can’t just go sit in a coffee shop and browse Facebook. You probably already do that. Let’s pretend there are no useless websites, no video games, no TV. You have to be outside of the house all day every day until it’s time to go to bed — where would you go and what would you do?

7. IF YOU KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO DIE ONE YEAR FROM TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO AND HOW WOULD YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED?

Most of us don’t like thinking about death. It freaks us out. But thinking about our own death surprisingly has a lot of practical advantages. One of those advantages is that it forces us to zero in on what’s actually important in our lives and what’s just frivolous and distracting.

So what would you do if you knew exactly when the end was nigh? What is your legacy going to be? What are the stories people are going to tell when you’re gone? What is your obituary going to say? Is there anything to say at all? If not, what would you like it to say?

Now before moving on to the next step, have a look at your answers and see if you can find reoccuring themes. What words crop up again and again? And once you have looked once, look again.

Step 3: Start to build the life you imagine for you

So now you know your passions and your dreams, it’s time to start thinking about the life you want for you. Grab the biggest piece of paper you can find and create a vision of your ideal life.

Throw out all reality and allow your fantasy to run riot. This is you creating your universal recipe for how you would like your life to be. Every time you think no that’s not possible ask yourself do you want it? If the answer is yes, then it goes on the brain storm.

There are four sections to this brainstorm and I would recommend imaging your life 10 – 15 years from now.

Lifestyle – This includes where you live, what in, do you own it, countryside, city, what style of accomodation, what decorations.  What is your life style like? Your hobbies, do you eat out every week? Do you travel 3 times a year? Do you own a summer house? Do you have a pet? Do you have a car, a motor bike, a boat? And how much money do you have in the bank? Also do you want alot of social or is me time very important to you?

Career – Describe your job, the hours you work, your responsibilities, your working environment, your ideal colleagues and of course your ideal pay.

Achievements – This is basically a bucket list for the next ten years.  Achievements do not need to be just finished university, got married with two kids, it can be something like being an extra on a marvel movie, volunteering in Nepal, riding a bike across the great wall of China or doing a parachute jump. Remember no limits and that fun is a hugely important part of this journey called life

People – This section is about the people and relationships you want in your life. And I don’t mean just names. This is about the quality of your relationships. And this can also be the relationship you have with yourself.

Do this brainstorm on paper, the bigger the better. Follow the order and do each section one at a time.

Then take a step back. This is the life you want. And this is the life you are going to create for yourself. How does it feel to look at it? Are the themes from the 7 questions involved in your plan? If not how can you include them. These are your passions and if you suppress them you won’t feel happy or fulfilled in life.

When you have finished this is the time to start making goals and a plan to create this life for yourself. If you like you could create a vision board or use some of the goal setting techniques here.

———————————————————————

By the time you reach stage 3 you will find that you are starting to feel like you again. There are of course many other parts of healing that need to happen after a break up. Finding yourself is but one of those. However when you know who you are and what you want, it is a heck of a lot easier to move forward and gives you something to keep aiming for when the saddness or memories make that day tough.

Let me know how you get on with the steps and how they helped you in the comments below.

Wherever you are in the world I wish you a beautiful weekend <3

How to create Work / Life balance by taking 5 simple actions

Getting a good work/life balance is one of the eternal questions of all post Yuppie generations in the affluent West. We all want it. We know we all need it. And yet having it is a challenge for most. This weekend my taxi driver was one such hopeful Or rather stressful. Living in a busy city he is in full time education and then works nights and weekends to make the money he needs to live. The poor guy said himself” I am close to burning out” and I could tell that he was close to giving up his education dream. As we talked I asked him about what was it he wanted and how he would like his life to be different. And, because I am that sort of person, I suggested a few strategies that might help him.

Now my driver actually vocalized one of the main issues most people have with achieving a good work/life balance. Our perception. You see my driver told me, “When I do something. I want to do it all in.” So if he wanted train then it had to be full on. Or school. Or work. And this is the major issue people often have with getting things balanced. Simply by aiming for too much all at once.

If you want to really get your life in balance you need to change your perspective and focus on the path to getting there. As I said to my driver. “The goal is not to be in training. The goal is to start”. 10 minutes each day is better than none. Once you have the habit then carve out 5 mins more. Then 5 minutes more. Often it’s not actually that we don’t have enough time it is that we are assuming that we need a lot more time than we really do to do the things we want. And therefore we don’t do them. It feels like an achievable mountain to climb. And honestly becomes an excuse.

So we have this block we need to get past. However if you can be honest with yourself and use (I am sorry to say) a smidgen of realism the way to finding work life balance can be found by taking just 5 simple actions.

Press the STOP button

So if you are also feeling that close to burnout sensation then you have probably spent a lot of time obsessing over the issues and the problems. Well that just makes them even harder to deal with. When that happens imagine you pressing an imaginary big ready STOP button. Put the breaks on. If you concentrate on how hard it is it will be hard. You and only you can pull yourself out of this negative cycle. But when you do it will give you space to think more clearly and thus take the first step to work/life balance, simply because you will have the head space to be able to start addressing the challenge.

Know what you want

So once you have pushed the big stop button it is time to fill your head with new thoughts. Solution thoughts. Take a quite coffee break brainstorm and write out the ways you would like your life to be different. What is it you actually wish you had the time to do? Give yourself an idea of what you would like your balanced life to look like. Here you can dream big. This is the space where you are allowed to describe the mountain of desires you have for your life.
Throw in the realism

The busier your life is and generally the more roles you adopt in your life, Boss, Mum, Volunteer, Team member the less time you have. You have to accept that right now this moment you cannot do it all. You cannot do 3 times a week at the gym for 2 hours at a time, or take that holiday abroad every year when you still have student debts to pay of and you are unemployed is not realistic. Yet. Now I don’t mean to say you can’t have everything you want. I truly believe you can live the life you imagine for yourself. However, part of the fun is the journey. Have a look at what you want and choose 1, 2 or 3 desires to focus upon. Make sure its something your soul really needs and will feel energized from. Remind yourself you are not giving up on the rest just putting them on the back burner for the moment.

Find the first step

So right now you are still looking at the whole mountain. Now you need to work out how you are gonna get there. Look for the first baby step you can take. So for example, if you want to start training again, decide which part of your day you can start to do 10 mins of training a day. Want more you time. Where can you have 15 mins in the week and what exactly will you do in that time? What is the first step you need to take to reduce the never ending to do list. Carve out just a little time each week to take that first baby step. You only have 24 hours a day, you can afford 10- 15 mins. Choose a first step for your desire.

Get going

Now you know what that first step is you have to take it. You have to give this to yourself. If not you can slump back into the woe is me live is so hard hole (sorry to be blunt but that’s the truth). You can either do what you can to solve the issue or you can blame someone else and feel rubbish. What do you choose? Get started on your baby steps and after a period of 4 weeks try and up the time by 5 or 10 mins. The more you carve out the time you need the more of a habit it becomes. It makes the time fly by easier and you not only feel less stressed you will feel empowered by taking charge of your life.

Manage your time

For me the ultimate work/life balance tool, and I suppose step 6, is time management. Managing your time supports you immensely to balance what is important to yourself, create healthy boundaries and maintain both self care and personal growth. There are lots of time management articles on the blog. Try starting here if you want time management tips

—————————————————————————————————————

And just remember the most important thing is to not overestimate what you are capable of doing in the time you have. Rather accepting the first steps, carrying them out, creating habits and then upping the bar. Slowly, slowly working your way to wards re balancing your life.

Have a great week <3

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.png

#lifelessons101 – Tell me something good – How the power of a good story can turn your day around

Yesterday my work life just went FUBAR (And for those you not in the know that means Fucked up beyond all recognition.) Needless to say it was a bad day. It has been a long time since I cried solidly for an hour. However despite how I was feeling I still had a job to do. Which meant clients that were in need of support, empowerment and inspiration. And yet there I was struggling to keep it together. (Remember your life coach is human too and sometime shit just happens). I needed to turn my energy around and get to a place of, if not happy, peaceful.

And that’s when I remembered something my BFF/ accountant / crafting compadre/ mini mom taught me. A line from one of her favorite films Me before you. And it is simply,

“Tell me something good”

I can’t remember the whole plot. As to this day I have never seen it.  (I promise I will mini mom). But for me ‘tell me something good’ up to this point had always been a way of celebrating in circle our achievements. It had always brought a smile to my face and a glow to my heart. Only there I was. In that moment not able to find anything good in my sadness and frustration. So I reached out.

Using the power of Facebook I made a post. Not asking for sympathy. Asking for stories. This is what I wrote.

Having a bad work day today and need some cheering up until I can get to through to the happy place later on tonight. So I am asking you all to “Tell me something good”

I want to hear all your good news and stories.

It always helps me when I am down to know that the people are love are having an awesome time of it “

The response was amazing.

Instead of the usual lovely hearts or hugs people send when you are having bad time. I got over 80 stories and pictures of people sharing with me the good in their lives. There was everything from spending the day with your daughter in the snow, to getting a new job, to loved ones coming home. People sharing lovely moments from their day and the things they were looking forward to. It was beautiful. Every time I checked back in someone else had posted something that made me smile. I saw conversations starting as people began to enjoy the moments everyone had shared. A from that reach out the sadness, the frustration began to transform. The good moments from everyone’s lives transformed both my dark moment and spread a good vibe into their days too.

It was so powerful. By the end of the day I was able to add my own something good story images (7).jpegfrom that day. The frown had been turned upside down and my tears to laughter.

Now I have always been an advocate of the healing and teaching power of stories. But yesterday was the strongest experience I have had of this. The transformation was so subtle and yet so powerful.

The only magic I can compare it with is how you feel when you see a small baby smile or a toddlers face light up with joy at snowdrops and puddles. It was incredibly inspiring.

And it made me want to share this moment with all of you. This is me telling you something good. Now it’s your turn. Transform your day, your mood by asking someone to tell you something good. On social media, or around the dinner table, or even a complete stranger. Let’s take the power of tell me something good around the world this weekend and see how many smiles we can inspire.

So before you go and begin this quest , please just take a moment here to tell me something good. Not because I am down or because you are. Just because sharing a good story is a beautiful thing to do.

Have a lovely weekend <3

Stories are medicine Tell me something good.....png

 

How to Declutter your life – Starting with the art of decluttering your time

In 2010 Francine Jay’s “The Joy of Less” was published and slowly but surely ‘Decluttering’ has become a thing. As Maureen O’Connor said “Decluttering is the new Juice cleanse”. We all love the idea of a minimalist home. A minimalist lifestyle and potential minimal stress the lifestyle promises. However, only a few of us actually manage it.

Personally I am clutter queen. As I sit writing this I am surrounded by a few piles of projects I am working on and I have a bag of donated clothes and belongs to explore on my break. (Kindly donated by someone who is decluttering their own home. There is some irony there). Let’s face it I am a borderline hoarder.

This coming month I have decided to dedicate a month to clearing and decluttering my life. (It’s a part of my happiness project February theme). And I’d like to invite you along for the ride. But before I throw myself into reaching my goals of 50% less stuff, cleansing my diet and clearing my garden. I want to share with you a secret. A secret that I believe is the biggest key to work/life balance and in general a life of minimized stress. The art of decluttering your time

This is one aspect of my life where I am am a master declutterer. My time. For the last 4 years I have become seriously good at not overloading myself and becoming efficient. My work is done and my free time, is mine. No matter how much stuff I have around me, I know what I am doing and when I am doing it. Decluttering my time has given me, well more time. More freedom and funnily enough the ability to accept and let go of things in a way I didn’t think possible. So would you like to know how?

Here is my simple guide to decluttering your time. It takes a little while so don’t expect to have this in the bag overnight. Just keep on going taking baby steps. And eventually you will find that like me you have become the Master of your own time and have time to spare!

Minimize decision stress and create healthy habits

This was the ultimate step for me. There are many mundane things we have to do in a day that take time and energy. Hundreds of decisions about when are we going to wash up, food shop, what am I going to eat, have I remembered to do the washing. I like many of us got so sick of these tasks. I resented them. Procrastinated, which took more of my energy and it all became an unmanageable mess. Until I created a habits schedule. Basically I looked at my skeleton week. And plotted these things in. Empty the dishwasher in the morning. Create a weekly meal plan and then shop one day a week. I minimized the clothes wash down to 3 times a week and allocated a time when I would actually put the clothes away. I also plotted breaks, training and me time in. Now the week doesn’t always run to schedule. However I have this back bone rhythm in my life that I return to as a foundation. It gave me a huge boost of time and things got done. Maybe not in the Disney princess the animals come in and magically clean the house situation. But in a way that I felt as if they had.

So the trick is simple. Look at the mundane tasks you have to do in a week. See how you can dedicate specific times to doing that in your weekly rhythm and then plot them into a weekly schedule. This is my current schedule which you can use as a template for your own.

Screenshot 2019-01-28 at 13.14.06

You will notice I don’t allocate specific times for jobs just an area of the day to do them such as morning, afternoon and evening. I also don’t fill it with the little five minute jobs like emptying the cat trays or getting the post. This schedule is for the big jobs that take chunks of time. And the bonus if you have kids is that they really respond well to this kind of structure too.

Choose an end of day time

This has been another light bulb in decluttering my time. And a light at the end of the tunnel on the more challenging days. An end of the day time is that point in the day where you are doing nothing you have to do. No house work. No work. No calling people. No just have to send that email. Nothing. I am lucky in that we don’t have kids so my end of day time is earlier than most people with a family. Mine is dinner time. I make the food so Mr T does the dishes. 5 days a week after dinner that is it. I am done. That is my time to indulge in my hobbies, relax, take a long bath, read. It means that I have to plan my work day according to the time I have from getting up to 19:30. And as that end of day time is so damn precious to me I get my stuff done. It reminds me to put myself first. And means I have gotten good at saying ‘well I didn’t get that done today but that’s OK. I will rest tonight and make it the most important thing to do tomorrow’. I have more energy and more freedom. My clients who have kids do this too. Even if it is just an hour before bed, having the end of day time allows you to relax, reboot and be ready for the next day.

—————————————–

These are the two most important starting bricks for decluttering your time. There are many other time management strategies out there and you can read some of my articles about them here on the blog. These two are special because they focus on your life. And it’s all well and good having things you want to achieve and tasks to do, but if you don’t have your everyday life in order and know when you are taking some rest you are not going to have the energy to do all that stuff.

Take a step to declutter your time this week and join me next week as I embark on my month of February cleanse and find out which area of my life I am going to declutter next – right after I check out that bag of stuff 😉

Have a great week <3

Make time for what matters.jpg

#lifelessons101 – True Love isn’t meant to be easy – the difference between romantic and real true love

If you follow my blog regularly you will know I have a source of inspiration from my vulcan-esque muse,my stoic partner and love of my life Mr T. He has this innate ability to take some of the biggest topics of debate and simmer them down with logic to an infallible, indisputable sentence. And this morning over breakfast he came with a humdinger, that just blew my mind.

We were, in the most unromantic setting, discussing my snoring. Apparently Mr T had spent half the night waking up due to my snoring and rolling me over to stop it. Now in most households this would probably spark WW3. However, knowing how Mr T already has sleep challenges I was simply truly grateful for his patience. “Bless you darling” I said “ Why is it you love me? I mean, I’m not easy” (Thinking it must be so hard to always be so patient. Mr T simply gazed out of the window saying

“Well I never thought true love would be easy. I guess that’s why so many people don’t have it.”

And of course as always he is right. Now as I said before this blew my mind. And as I pondered his statement I found a source of clarity. My whole life I had been searching for true love. Yearning for the idyllic romantic passion of films and books. And yet it wasn’t until I dropped that ideal that I really did find what I was looking for. (Albeit wrapped in a Cowboy hat, geeky gamer, extremely talented craftsmen with a passion for Vikings, Deadpool and D and D).

I thought about that phrase ‘True love isn’t meant to be easy’. And realized that this media fantasy was so deeply embedded that instantly my mind conjured up images of dramatic events pulling star crossed lovers apart a la Romeo and Juliet. However the truth and reality of real true love is a million miles away from this romantic drama. True love is patient. It is caring and understanding. It is patiently picking up the underpants from the floor beside the washing basket for the 6th time that week and not nagging your partner about it. It is the hand that reaches out and touches your leg as they drive in the car, just because. It is making tea with honey and ginger when they are filled with snot and finding them just as beautiful as when they are all dressed up for a night on the town. Or going to see yet another Marvel or Harry potter film because they love it so much and want to share it with you.

True love not being easy doesn’t always have to be about the big sacrifices. In reality it is the beauty in the smaller sacrifices, compromises and little acts of love that are not easy but make a lasting loving relationship so beautiful and rewarding. The stories tell us of big romantic gestures. And while yes there is definitely a place for those. It is not these moments that nurture true love. I have had those epic romantic relationships (as I am sure we all have) and they were complete and utter disasters. Monumental disappointments, in a few cases life threateningly dangerous and definitely traumatic. And what I have learnt is that the moment you stop looking for that romantic ideal, you become to find romance in the seemingly mundane acts of kindness your lover performs it’s then that you are able to find good honest down to earth romance and true love.

The point I am trying to make is that when you begin to notice and appreciate the things your special person does to show you they care that are not easy, the more space you give to allow true love to blossom. Now I get that I am truly blessed to have found such an amazing person to share my life with. However I can’t help wondering to myself if I hadn’t learnt to look beyond the romantic ideal and appreciate the reality, if this relationship would truly be as powerful or as long lasting as it is? Honestly I don’t think it would. Maybe the secret to finding true love is not so much about finding Mr, or Miss, Right. But rather it is about shifting your perspective to the understanding that true love is not going to be easy. However when you appreciate the effort that is made. Honoring it. You begin to see the real beauty and power, the reality of true love. Maybe if more of us could do that. To value the small moments, deeds, sacrifices and compromises. The world could be filled with more people living their happily ever after. Now wouldn’t that be a lovely thing to see.

Take a moment this weekend to truly appreciate all the not easy things your partner does to show you their love. Be grateful for them. And then do something not easy to show them you love them too.

Have a lovely weekend <3 Never underestimate the small acts of caring.jpg

What’s your Golden Buzzer moment? Making your dreams a reality

I have a guilty secret pleasure. I love to watch golden buzzer moments from Britain’s got talent on you tube. We abstain from television in our home so I never get to see the whole show. However I love these moments where the judges and the audience get surprised, raw talent shines forth and in that moment people realize their wildest dreams. I also love the stories that come with these moments. The stories of normal people overcoming everyday challenges and coming out the other side stronger, more powerful. And in those golden buzzer moments it is as if all they have been through is celebrated and honored.

Now I know that these shows are edited to emphasize this emotional moments. But I am a sucker for them. And that is because for me the essence in those moments, the real story, the real joy, is not something that can be edited. It is simply beautiful. And recently as I indulged in a five minute golden buzzer break I began to wonder, what is my golden buzzer dream? What is the moment that would take all the trials and tribulations and make all of it seem worth it?

During the American civil rights movement Martin Luther King delivered his iconic speech starting with “I have a dream.” It was a big dream. A dream still in creation. However, how do you think Martin Luther King would have felt to see Barack Obama voted into office? Would have that been his Golden Buzzer moment? We will obviously never really know. The important thing is he knew it.

We all have dreams in life. Big. Small. Middle sized. No two dreams are alike. And I believe an important part of achieving our dreams is to know where it is we are shooting that star to. To know what is our Golden Buzzer moment. It is our success criteria. The point where we know we have achieved exactly what we wanted, no matter what. Napoleon Hill said “A goal is a dream with a deadline”. And that doesn’t necessarily mean date deadline. (Although of course it helps). For me the deadline is knowing what your success looks like. Knowing where it is you are heading and what it will feel like when you get there.

If you have read this far I am guessing you have a dream. Something you want. Something you will fight for no matter what. I have a dream. It is getting my first book published. And I know that for me my golden buzzer moment will be when I hold that finished book in my hands. That will be the moment when everything I have been through, everything I have worked towards is realized. No matter if it sells a million copies or not, when it is in my hands in my mind the golden glitter will fall down on the stage and the audience will be going crazy. I know exactly who I want to run on stage to celebrate that moment with me. And even when my fears and doubts try and get the better of me it is this moment that keeps me going.

So today I’d like to invite you to find your golden buzzer moment. Just imagine yourself standing on that stage. Take a deep breath. And look deep inside. What will be the moment when the crowd goes wild?  When the stage lights up in a blaze of gold? What will be the cause of your tears of joy as you see that you have made it and your dream is real? And who will be there to celebrate it with you? See it. Play out the scene in your minds eye. Feel the joy. And when you have found that moment this is the goal for your dream.

It is this golden buzzer moment that will make your dream a reality. From here on in this is the moment you are working for.  Your golden buzzer moment is the foundation of your motivation. The thing that gets you to keep on going despite fear, despite hardship. Remembering of course that  “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work”. Knowing where you are going is half the battle to getting there. And knowing your golden buzzer dream moment will make your success all the beautiful when it comes.

So what is your Golden Buzzer moment?

Let’s start today making our dreams a reality by sharing our moments in the comments below. And inspiring each other to success whatever that looks like for each of us.

Have an amazing week <3

If you want to achieve your dream You have to dream it.jpg

#lifelessons101 – Living the dream life? How do you keep on leveling up in happily ever after?

The last five years of my life have been an amazing journey.

I not sure if started at the moment I sat in my apartment after 6 months of homelessness and told myself that I was going to break the repeating destructive cycle that kept leading me through violent relationship to homelessness. Or if it was the point where when faced with the opportunity to start a new potentially toxic relationship, I decided I was worth more than that and said thanks, but no thanks. Or it could have been the decidedly un romantic life clarity moment I had when doing the washing up, where I suddenly knew exactly what is as I wanted to do with my life. It was probably a combination of the above. However these moments lead me to this point in my life now. A moment where I am creating my dream job, living in the home I have always wanted and have a relationship I never before believed could truly exist. There is no doubt about it. I have created an amazing foundation. My life is good.

Sometimes it feels as though I am at that point in the story where the writer says “and they lived happily ever after” and the book closes. You know that point where you wonder well what happened next? Well for me the ‘next’ has been the new challenge. Oh don’t get me wrong I am loving the journey of my life and I am grateful every day for the experiences and opportunities it gives me. It’s just that it can be easy to get comfortable here. In a way to stagnant. Have you ever experienced that? You have this intense period of life changing growth. Then you get to the first level of living your dreams and although delighted, you find it hard to level up.

Some would say this is due to the fact that you no longer have the motivation of getting out of whatever cycle you were in before and that’s why it’s harder to level up. And in my experience that has been true. Adversity can inspire great change. Contentment is simply just a harder place to motivate yourself from. If you look around on the interwebs you will see there is lots and lots of articles about how to start changing your life. There are not so many on how to keep going and evolving once you are living the life of your dreams. Some might ask, do you need to level up once you get there. Yes! Personally I have a belief that the point of existence is to learn, grow and most importantly evolve. If I am not doing these things then for me there is little point. It is one of my keys to life happiness.  

So how do you level up once you are living your happily ever after? How do you get motivated from a place of contentment opposed to starting from adversity. My life lesson this week has been just this, and it’s been a surprising journey. I have found that the answer to leveling up in ever after land lies in 4 very simple things:

  • Redefine your personal view of success
  • Make a plan
  • Find a fear and face it
  • Eat your frogs

Redefine your personal view of success:

When you started your journey to happily ever after you probably had an idea of what success looked like to you. However, as we move through life our view of success changes. If you want to jump higher you need to raise the bar. So take 30 mins, with a cup of tea. (I am British. Tea is an important muse in my life.)  And brainstorm what does success look like to you now. Dig deep and find the dreams that you haven’t realized. You know the ones that scare the heck out of you. Look at what you are grateful for and appreciate in your life now.

By the end of your brainstorm you should end up with a clear view of where you need to get to and what you need to appreciate in order to level up and jump over the next bar. Redefine our success gives you the opportunity to design the next stage of your life.

Make a plan

Anyone that knows me ( or reads this blog regularly) will tell you I love making plans. Plans minimize decision stress. They translate a dream into actions. And they bring clarity. So look at your brainstorm and translate it into actions. How will you reach this next level? What do you have to do and what will you get out of doing it? One friend I know uses a primary school lesson plan concept to this process where she not only creates the actions she also creates a success criteria so she know she is on route to success.

Find a fear and face it

Some of these, if not all of the things you want to achieve will be scary. It is the next level of realizing your dreams. The deeper dreams closer to your heart. And much more frightening. When you are living in your happily ever after you are in a much better place to reach the highest part of your potential. Claiming your potential. Making that a reality and owning it is hella’ scary. For me, this centers around my book I finished writing it 2 years ago and now I want to turn it into an actual published book. The idea of making this a reality challenges every hidden layer of self doubt, fear of rejection and highly strung nerves I have in my body. Yet it is this fear which is creating a similar energy or driving force to the one I had in my place of adversity. It is only by facing it and working on it can I grow and level up again. So find your fear. Acknowledge it. And face it. Remember my favorite phrase, Bravery is not having fear. It is having a fear and doing it anyway.  

Eat your frogs

My favorite time management tool ever. Mark Twain once said “ If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Basically if you have a hard job to do get it done quick and the day will only get better. Bite the bullet. Face those fears and get it done. Every day I eat my frog I get a sense of accomplishment and pride. Mr T and I have got into the habit of giving each other high fives whenever we tell each other about our daily frog eating. And as simple as a high five is, it makes me celebrate my achievements and keeps the journey of leveling up fun.

———————————————————————–

The whole point of leveling up to enjoy and enrich your life’s journey. Happily ever after is an amazing place to reach and you should enjoy it. However it’s not the end of your story. After happily ever after there is another adventure, and another, and another. Looking for new adventures and creating new dreams, new values and learning new lessons is the key to realizing your fullest potential. Being the person you were born to be.

Keep leveling up and enjoying that journey and you cannot help but be the biggest, brightest most beautiful shining version of you. Lighting the way in your own life and inspiring the lives of the people you meet to create their own happily ever after. Now what could be more fulfilling that that.

Have a beautiful weekend <3

Happily Every After is the Beginning of a new  story.jpg