Taking a leap!

Leaping isn’t something you will often see me doing I’ll be honest! I am trying to do it more often though.

Not long ago I wrote a post about achieving your potential which touched on this subject a bit. I have been trying to say yes to things and then working out how I am going to actually be brave enough to do it after.

I know that I am not alone in liking the comfort of familiarity.

It’s so easy to only agreed to do things that you have done many times before and know you are capable of, but there are a few problems with this life.

By definition it means that you don’t experience anything new. This is sad. There are so many amazing experiences out there waiting for you to sample them, why would you only ever do what you have always done.

 So why is this on my mind this week?

Well, I like to draw inspiration for my blogs from my recent experiences. We have been having lots of new experiences as a family and well and truly leaping out of our comfort zones!

Last week we went to Italy for my best friend’s wedding. 

My son (9) has never been abroad and my daughter hasn’t since she started school (she’s now 14) so this was a huge deal for them.

In order to get to Italy we had to go in an aeroplane, my husband HATES flying, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him being there for such an amazing and memorable week.

In addition to this my son is very close to my husband at the moment so because Dad was scared, he was too.

 

While we were in Italy the children tried foods they claim they hate at home and loved them, they went to places they have never been before and experienced Italian life to the full.

It wasn’t just my plane-hating husband and children who had to take a leap out of their comfort zones though.

I volunteered to drive one of the hire cars we needed (there were 10 of us altogether so we needed two). I love driving but I hadn’t driven a left hand drive for over 10 years.

I was also asked to do a reading in the church service for my friends Callie and Emilio. I do a lot of public speaking but I’m not catholic, and I’m not usually recorded and it is rarely for something so memorable!

I also agreed to sing at the reception.

I know! But this is all part of my saying yes to opportunities thing. I used to do a lot of singing but haven’t done much at all apart from in the car since I had the children. This is my best friend in the world though, I’m not going to say no when it’s for her big day!

This not only meant singing though, it also meant meeting the musician who was playing at the reception the day before in Florence at his studio for a very quick rehearsal. Finding new places, meeting new people, singing in front of total strangers, all things with the potential to induce panic once upon a time.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m cool about it all now, cause I still have butterflies and what ifs, but nothing like I did once upon a time. 

I try to do something everyday that is out of my comfort zone whether it is making that phone call, contacting a potential client or doing an extra 5 minutes on my rowing machine.

I do think that the more we do it, the easier it gets.

I have heard about 2 people in the last week who are at extremes of this attitude. A man in his 70s who has never owned a passport and will barely leave his home town. Think of all the amazing opportunities he is missing. All the major events, all the sights, sounds, smells…

“There are many talented people who haven’t fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or they were too cautious, and were unwilling to make the leap of faith.”

 

James Cameron

Film Director

At the opposite end of the scale though, my friend’s daughter turned 16 yesterday and she did a skydive to celebrate! She loved it! What an amazing memory to have made and an incredible way to celebrate her birthday. Now that is literally taking a leap!

Don’t be one of the talented people who doesn’t make our mark on the world because you don’t take that leap of faith, that step out of your comfort zone.

 

How can you exercise your courage and step out of your comfort zone today?

 

If you are intrigued about my singing you can watch the video below. Apologies for the quality of the video it was taken on a phone but you get the idea. (I’m also really cross with myself for holding the words but we had only sung it through 3 times with the guitarist and it threw me a bit 🙁 ). Adding this video to the post is my “stepping out of my comfort zone” for today so please be gentle with me.

Taking time out -Why adults need time out too!

As adults it is easy to forget that we need to take time out sometimes in order to recharge and feel re-energised. Without this time we inadvertently turn into toddler versions of ourselves, having tantrums about minor issues and doing a grown up version or the tired cry all parents are familiar with.

We may not throw ourselves on the floor and kick our feet any more, but we do stamp about, moan about having to do everything ourselves, and refuse to stop even when ever part of our being is screaming “BUT I’M TIRED!”.

 

Different response (although only slightly!) but with the same trigger – overwhelm.

 When life gets busy we push ourselves to do everything and then eventually it all gets too much.

So what should we do when overwhelm strikes?

Well, I can’t really tell you that. 

You are probably wondering what the purpose of writing this is if I can’t give you any advice – am I right?

Well, I didn’t say I couldn’t give you any advice, I just said that I couldn’t tell you what to do.

Not the same.

You see the magical thing about living creatures is that no two are the same. You might be very similar, but you are never the same.  

My sister and I look alike, we sound identical, we like the same types of music and films but we are also very different.  

When my sister feels tired and overwhelmed she goes for a run or reads a book. I have a bath AND read a book – you see, we’re nothing like each other! *giggle*

The point I am trying to make is that we are all different, so what is relaxing and a real indulgence to one person is another worst nightmare.

It isn’t what we do that is important though, fortunately, it is the fact that we step away form the to do list and the never ending chores and allow ourselves time to relax and unwind. Whether that means playing a round of golf or knitting, it doesn’t matter, as long as you feel nurtured and happy.

You may want to be alone or meet up with a group of friend.

Your idea of chilling out might be going clubbing, or it might be walking up a mountain and sitting quietly.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are doing it because you want to not because you feel you should. 

 

It is also important that you do not at any time; before, during or after, feel guilty for taking this time for yourself.

This is where self care can be a challenge for many people. They know they should spend time relaxing but the whole time they are “relaxing” they are feeling guilty for doing it.

THAT’S NOT RELAXING!

By doing this you are neither getting through your jobs or giving yourself the time out you so need.

“You shouldn’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Every so often, everyone needs to give themselves a big ol’ bear hug and treat themselves to some TLC.”

Sean Covey

Author

Today I am working. It’s a weekday and I do most of my work while my children are at school. Am I sitting hunched over my desk?

Nope.

I’m sitting with my MacBook on the patio table enjoying this beautiful weather we are enjoying the UK. Dreaming of my upcoming holiday as I type.

Find moments of joy even in the jobs you do. Maybe you have to do some weeding. Make sure you take time to appreciate the beauty of the garden as you do. Feel the sun on your back. Listen to the birds singing.  

Maybe the job you need to get done has no obvious pleasure associated with it. Get back to the basics. I am grateful I can see well enough to mend these trousers. I am grateful I am able to stand for long enough to clean the mirror. Whatever you are doing, remember that there is someone somewhere wishing they were able to do it. Find the positives in the jobs you do but make sure you take time to relax and recharge too. You will get those jobs done quicker and with more energy and accuracy if you aren’t tired and angry doing them.

Female Friends – Why they are so important

When we are little friendship is probably THE most important thing in our lives. We fall out with our friends and make new friends constantly. It is all part of working out who we are and what sort of person we want to be. As we grow older we usually have few friends but they are often deeper and more meaningful. 

Throughout our lives we are thrown together with people and we build friendships with the people who fit us best. As children our friends are the people we are in the most classes with, that we do clubs and extracurricular groups with or our parents friend’s children. As adults we throw the net wider, but for many people their closest friends are people from work or whose children go to the same school. 

 Often as adults we discover who our true friends are in times of hardship. Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying; “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo—what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” I found this out when I was ill. Friends who I thought would be there for me no matter what disappeared off the face of the earth and people who I had only recently met walked over hot coals to help me and support me.

Without my female friends I would have given up many years ago.

I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start my business, to grow my business and I would have been drowning in parenting challenges. Without my female friends who would help me see that all the things I struggle with are normal and all women go through them? I am fortunate that I am close to my Mum, sister, and my mother in law and I was very close to my Grandma, but friends fill a different role.

Friends make you laugh and cry. They tell you home truths when you need them and they act like giggling 8 year olds when you need cheering up. Women are, for the most part, nurturing and we all need a little nurturing. 

Last weekend I was on my best friend’s Hen weekend in London. We have been friends for almost 10 years and we talk nearly every day. She is one of the first people I tell when I have exciting news and whatever happens she is always there for me. A very, very special person. Despite being friends for almost a decade I have met relatively few of her friends, she lives 125 miles away. 

I was reminded during our fabulous day of fine food and haberdashery (yes we made fascinators for the wedding at a fabulous workshop!) that women have an amazing ability to bond in a very short space of time. I had only met the Hen and one other friend before the big day. I had spoken to people by email and text as I had helped to organise it but despite this within minutes of being thrown together we were all sharing details of our lives and bonding over stories of adversity. 

Good friends can make the difference between drowning and gliding like a swan through life's challenges. Click To Tweet 

When we get together with our girl friends it is like the best informal counselling session ever. We can get things off our chest about our families and work and anything else that we need an opinion on or someone to sympathise.

Most importantly though our friends make us laugh. 

So what?

Laughing is SO important for our physical and emotional health. It reduces stress and anxiety and is even good for your heart. We all need to laugh more and I don’t know about you but I laugh a lot when I’m with my friends.

This quote from Tanja Taaljard sums up my feelings about female friendship perfectly. We do just instinctively understand the struggles of other women.  It is a very special gift.

I’m sure men cater for each other’s needs too, but their needs are different. Men need male friendships just as much as women need female friendships. They need someone to joke with, to talk about their worries, or just someone to distract them from their challenges.

Friendship is friendship.

“Women instinctually know how to nourish each other, and just being with each other is restorative”

Tanja Taaljard

Author, UPLIFT

Girl Code

Recently I have been reading Girl Code by Cara Alwill Leyba and it raised some brilliant and beautiful points about female friendship. This quote particularly resonated with me; “You know a woman is strong, beautiful, and secure by the way she empowers and inspires others.”

So often women tear each other down. Watching the royal wedding a few weeks ago I realised how easy it is and how quickly I commented on outfits or the look on someone’s face. I’m a friendly, generally non-judgmental person, but when faced with rows and rows of women in such a wide array of hats and dresses my first reaction was to judge.

I’d like to think that that behaviour was out of character but I wonder how often we are all guilty of judging quickly based on appearance?

When it comes to supporting other women though it is so important that we look past first impressions, that we listen and nurture. I understand more than most that our physical appearance isn’t always something we can control. If someone is struggling with depression or mental health issues the last thing they care about is putting on make up and what outfit they are going to wear. Instead of judging we should take time to look deeper and offer support and advice.

It is also important not to judge other because they have different priorities to us. When we see someone wearing very expensive jewellery or designer clothes, or conversely wearing old clothes that have seen better days, let’s try as a society not to immediately make assumptions about the reasons for those choices.

We all have a story to tell and no-one ever truly knows what another person is going though Click To Tweet

Let’s support each other and teach our children to love each other and look for the similarities in others not the differences. But above all let’s celebrate out friendships. Male, female or animal! Friends are so important and we must never take them for granted.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click the link and buy the product/service associated I will receive a small payment in return. The product/service will not cost you any more. I never recommend anything I have not experienced myself. I always appreciate any purchases made using my links as they enable me to continue writing and helping more people.

Does your lack of self belief hold you back?

Self belief is something I have struggled with throughout my life. I have never believed that I was as good as everyone else. Always felt that I had to prove myself more than others. Always needed a certificate to tell me I was capable of doing something new.  

It took my many years to realise that some skills can’t be taught and some skills we come pre-loaded with. No-one taught me how to be a teacher. yes I spent 4 years doing a degree so that I had the qualification I needed , but I was born with the ability to teach. Teaching is such an intrinsic part of who I am that I can’t not teach. When I spend time with children I can’t help guiding their experiences so that they learn something new. Even when I spend time with adults I love passing on knowledge I have gleaned from something I have read or heard that might be of interest.

I thought everyone could teach. I genuinely did. Then I went on some training courses when I started learning holistic therapies and realised that not everyone can teach!

I sat through a three day course where having been given a beautifully printed workbook the “teacher” hopped from page 52 to page 3 then page 87 and back to page 12, while writing in virtually illegible writing up the edges of a flip chart and talking in a monotonous voice.

At that point I had an epiphany!

Teaching is one of my superpowers.

This person was clearly making a good living delivering training and yet they were disorganised, there was no flow to the sessions and even as a sympathetic and interested student I was bored and knew I wasn’t taking as much information in as I wanted to. This person was teaching adults. In a classroom full of children or teenagers they would have been eaten alive.

For years I had allowed my inner voice to prevent me from taking chances, from putting myself out there and taking on new challenges because my inner critic would shout: “Who do you think you are? Do you really think you could do that? Other people can do that but you can’t” 

Since that day I have acknowledged that my ability to impart wisdom is a gift, and probably my most valuable skill. I allow myself to say out loud that I am a teacher and a good teacher, for years I saw this as a job description, but it is so much more than that.

I have also realised that it isn’t my only super power. I have loads!

Do I always radiate self belief? No.

Do I sometimes allow self doubt to flood my body and paralyse me? Occasionally, but not very often these days.

Am I making progress every day? Oh yes!

Every single day I try to make myself do something I think I can’t do. Whether it is digging the garden when I know I’m tired or saying yes to a business opportunity that scares me, I make myself do it and prove to myself that I can.

The Yes Woman!

Do you remember Danny Wallace’s project (and subsequent book and film) “The Yes Man”. “Wallace vowed to say yes to every offer, invitation, challenge, and chance” (credit: Amazon.co.uk). This one change totally transformed his life. I may not be in a position to say yes to every opportunity, I have my family to consider, but I decided a few years ago that I would say yes to every business offer that came my way and work out how to make it happen after. It has brought so many amazing opportunities into my life. 

Like so many things, self belief is something that only you can change. 

You have to make a decision to change, to start believing in your own ability more, no-one can do it for you. Click To Tweet

It isn’t easy and there certainly isn’t a quick fix.

“Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself.”

Roy T. Bennett

Author, The Light in the Heart

What can you do to improve your self belief?

Use your Superpowers

My superpowers are teaching, learning, caring and overcoming adversity. These are just the first few that popped into my head, I know now that I have many more. Sit and think about what your superpowers are, make a list of all your gifts. If you genuinely can’t think of any, ask someone you trust, they will tell you in a heartbeat. 

Use power poses

Power poses have been proven to make you act and feel more confident. Standing with your shoulders back and your head high automatically makes you feel more confident.

Use Visualisation

See yourself looking and feeling confident in your minds eye. Close your eyes, picture a situation that you find intimidating and see yourself looking happy, calm and confident. Keep using the same visualisation until you believe that it can be no other way.

Do one thing that scares you every day?

It doesn’t have to be something big. It might be that you don’t like using the phone and you make yourself ring the dentist. You might not like being in busy places and decide to go to a shopping centre. Perhaps you are scared of driving in unfamiliar areas, make yourself take a trip somewhere new. Whatever it is for you, just do something little every day. Flex your self confidence muscles.

Challenge your inner voice

We all have an inner critic who tells us we can’t do things, and makes us doubt our ability. However much that inner critic thinks it is helping us, it is often holding us back. Evolution taught us to be wary of situations that have caused us to be scared or anxious as a way of keeping us safe, most of the things we are scared of now are not physically dangerous though so we need to find ways to shut that inner voice up. The quickest way I have found is to question what the voice is saying; Is this true? Is it definitely true? How do I know? Can I prove it? Really challenge your inner voice and make it prove itself.

Read about others who have built their self belief

There is no better teacher than someone who has experienced what you are going through. The reason I teach relaxation and mindfulness is because I suffered from crippling anxiety in my late teens and early twenties then went on to suffer from depression when I started teaching. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through without strategies and support. By learning about other people who have overcome the challenges you face it enables you to learn from them and also reminds you that it is possible. A quick search on Amazon will bring up lots of self belief books, choose one that looks appealing.

Be kind to yourself

It is so important not to beat yourself up for feeling self doubt because that isn’t helpful. Challenge yourself and reward yourself for taking baby steps in the right direction. If you don’t achieve your target, take a deep breath and decide to do it tomorrow. Make time to relax and look after yourself. If you aren’t getting enough rest you can’t function at the level you need to to make real progress. 

Final word

The most important thing to remember is that nothing is permanent. Nothing. You can change anything if you decide you want to. Making that choice is the hardest part, if you are reading this, you’ve already taken that step.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click the link and buy the product/service associated I will receive a small payment in return. The product/service will not cost you any more. I never recommend anything I have not experienced myself. I always appreciate any purchases made using my links as they enable me to continue writing and helping more people. Find out more in my Terms of Service.

Being Mindful in a Crisis

There are times when life really challenges us. When it asks us to use every drop of strength and courage we have to cope with a situation or crisis. 

Whether it is a short term upheaval like an accident or a long term challenge such as a bereavement, we have to gather all our tools, all our strength and find a way to get through.

If you are above school age, chances are life has challenged you at some point. It may have been the loss of a loved or beloved pet. It may have been a serious illness you had to battle against. Perhaps you lost your job and been worried about your financial future and security.

Whatever challenges life has thrown at you, you have survived. I know that because you are reading this.

Why am I mentioning this?

Well, this weekend my family had their coping strategies challenged and it was fascinating watching the range of responses to the situation.

 

To give you some background we were having a day out; my husband and children, my parents, my sister and her family and her in laws. Everyone was having a lovely time, enjoying the weather and each other’s company when something happened which changed the entire course of the day.

There was an accident involving one of the children. I feel able to talk about this now because they are ok, but I won’t go into details.

Everyone present loves that little bundle of joy so much, and we are all equally besotted with her.

The range of reactions was interesting though.

The parents jumped into action and doing what needed to be done along with one grandparent who was driving – the rest of us had walked. The remaining adults comforted the children and each other. There was a brief period of panic and, in some cases, hysteria and then there was nothing further we could do. 

Some of the adults, and older children, were clearly reliving the experience and trying to predict the outcome – impossible.

The youngest child, once recovered from the drama, carried on as normal, playing, chatting and eating ice lollies. 

The remaining adults, for a variety of reasons, just carried on until there was news and something to be done, practically to help.

This is the very essence of mindfulness.

Living in the moment. Reacting to what is happening, not what we imagine might happen. 

When life challenges us it is easy to get lost in a sea of “what ifs” and “if onlys” but it is only what we can do differently now that matters.

Even at the most desperate times we always have a choice about what we think and how we react.

We could have chosen to abandon the day out and sit panicking in a tea room somewhere but we chose to entertain the children and keep ourselves busy to pass the time until there was more news.

Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor

Thich Nhat Nanh

Author

Passing the time and focusing on what we could change was the only option we had. The children were already upset and distraction is a powerful tool for young minds.

It is important that when life presents us with obstacles and situations to deal with which feel like they might break us, that we take a deep breath and use that time to make some choices. We can choose to be a victim of circumstance or we can choose to be the captain of our own ship.

Even at the most challenging moments we can ask ourselves; what is the most beneficial thing I can do for myself right now? It may be to have a cup of sweet tea and a piece of cake (we did that on Saturday too!), sometimes that is enough to steady our nerves and give us the energy to carry on. It may be to create an action plan to get us out of the crisis we have found ourselves in. Or it may be to sit in self care; have a bath, go for a run, treat ourselves to whatever our soul needs right now.

Life is precious and if we don't live every minute as though we mean it, we're wasting the most valuable commodity we have, time. Click To Tweet

When we take time to breath and really think about what the best course of action is, we can amaze ourselves with the resilience and strength we have within us. We all have it, we just have to find it and mindfulness is a great map to help us find it.

 

What do I mean by mindfulness?

Well, I have already said that in essence it is just being present but I appreciate that that is an abstract concept. Why not try this easy mindful breathing exercise next time you are under pressure.

 

Calming breath

Close your eyes and relax your shoulders.

Take a deep breath in through your nose and feel the breath entering your nose. Does it feel warm or cold? Did you feel your breath anywhere else as you took the breath in, maybe the back of your throat or your chest?

As you breathe out pay attention to your breath again.

This time as you breathe in imagine the air entering your body is a beautiful calming blue and it makes you feel so relaxed as it enters your body.

When you breathe out imagine that calming blue breath is removing any stress and tension from your body.

Repeat this 3-5 times or as many as you need to begin to feel more calm and relaxed. 

 

5 Mindful Minutes

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