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Starting 2021 The Right Way

2021

2021 is almost here!

“2021 has to be better than 2020, doesn’t it?’ this is something I have heard so much recently. For many people, this new year will be an opportunity for new hope of a better year to come. There is a feeling of “out with the old and in with the new” and we certainly need some new after this year. 

I think it is fair to say that noone could have foreseen the events of 2020 and most people who had made plans for this year will, at the very least, have had to adjust and amend them.

Is it even worth thinking ahead to 2021 then or should we just free fall into the next twelve months without a second thought?

I think you know what my answer is going to be!

If you know me, you know that I am a planner. 

I love to plan!

I plan everything. I love nothing more than grabbing a handful of pens and a pile of dotted paper and getting all my ideas out on paper. 

How can we possibly plan for 2021 when we have no idea what it will look like?

Well, I encourage you to plan for things you have some control over; fitness goals, home improvements, hobbies you would like to revisit or take up, changes to the garden, recipes you want to try… It might sound like playing it small, but these are the things that can change your life immeasurably.

I have spoken to so many people who have re-discovered or even discovered, things about themselves this year, that they had forgotten because they never have time to stop and really take stock. 

Re-evaluate and reflect

Most of us will be having a much more subdued festive period than usual. We won’t be having big nights out and parties, we will have time with our immediate family, if we are lucky, and time for reflection and really working out what matters to us.

Journaling

There are do many ways that we can take time to process the year we have just experienced. Journaling is a great tool for this. Just take a piece of paper and either a pen or pencil and write. Maybe set a timer for 10 or even 20 minutes and write. Don’t filter anything. Just keep writing until everything has spilled out onto the page. 

Planning

So often things come out that you hadn’t even realised you were feeling or thinking. it really is a powerful tool.

Meditate

Setting the intention that you will have a greater understanding of the experiences you have had in 2020 when you meditate can be a wonderful exercise. You may see people, places or memories, you may receive messages in the form of images or words to help you make sense of things or you may just feel more relaxed, which is never a bad thing.

vision board

Create a vision board

A great way to collect all the ambitions and dreams you have for the coming year it to create a vision board. Cut images and phrases out of magazines and arrange them on a board on piece of card or foam. Or create a Pinterest board and then create a digital collage. However you create it make sure you put it someone you will see it every day. (I have mine set as my screen saver). Keeping focused on what you want your life to look like is so important.

Have an attitude of gratitude

Starting your new year with a gratitude practise is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Whether it is starting a gratitude journal where you write 3/5/10/20 things you are grateful for every evening, or waking up every morning and listing three things you are thankful for before you start your day, gratitude is a powerful tool. When you focus on the positives, your brain learns to focus on all the good things in your life and everything feels more positive. 

 

2021: A great big adventure…

None of us ever know how a year will go. We can make plans and dream of things we would like to happen, but there is always a possibility that circumstances will change. Once you accept this then 2021 is no different to any other year, so plan, dream and manifest your best year ever and believe it will happen… 

Hot chocolate

You Are Important

You Are important

Do you believe you are important?

That’s quite a difficult question for most of us to answer I think. Of course the answer is yes, you are important, but do you believe it?

Over the last few weeks I have had the honour of interviewing many amazing women for my The Super Woman Life series. They all had one thing in common. None of them believed that they had done anything special, or that they were anything out of the ordinary. 

Let me tell you these are incredible women, they have achieved amazing things against unbelievable obstacles and they are inspiring so many people, but they can’t see it. They think they are just “normal”.

Of course, the reality is, they are normal.

We all are.

 

Does that make us any less impressive, or any less important?

 

Hell no!

Part of the issue, as I see it, is that we all grow up looking up to someone. It may be our parents, grandparents, teachers, celebrities… whoever it is that we admire, we put them on a pedestal. They are perfect. They have achieved phenomenal things and inspired us to be the best version of ourselves we can be. 

Then as we grow, we update our idols. We begin to look up to other people in our industry, friends who have survived and celebrities who reflect everything we want to be. 

We continually update our list of people we admire but at what point do we allow ourselves to be on that list?

 

Well, the sad thing is, most people never do.

We are all achieving amazing things, overcoming our fears, learning, growing, helping others… changing the world, but we are unable to see it.

I have been fortunate enough to meet some amazing people in my life, and from a young age too.

Important

My background

I didn’t grow up in a show biz family or anything but I loved theatre and did a lot of musicals in my teens and twenties. I did all sorts of shows, I even did one night at the London Palladium. I had friends who did pantomime, I wrote for the local newspaper when I was at school writing reviews for plays and shows we had seen with school. As a result I met, and often spent time with, lots of celebrities.

Alan RIckman

These are some of my most treasured photos of me meeting Alan Rickman following an interview I did with him for the local newspaper. Even at 17 years old, I wasn’t star struck, I had met enough actors and performers to know they are just people. I worked with Jane MacDonald on a show and at one time was meeting so many “famous” people I don’t even have any photographic evidence because it just didn’t seem like something that significant (and of course we didn’t all carry a camera phone in our pocket then!).

Despite this, I have still struggled with feeling overwhelmed at the thought of talking to some people I have interviewed. 

Imposter Syndrome

I still don’t feel starstruck at the thought of talking to, or meeting, celebrities. What I do struggle with is interacting with people I really admire. People I feel have achieved so much more than I have. My imposter syndrome comes out to play and I ask myself questions like “Who am I to interview them?”, “Why would they want to talk to me?”, “What have I got to contribute?”. Sound familiar?

What if I told you that everyone feels the same way?

I have spoken to many people in the public eye and rarely do they think they are any better than everyone else, most are still amazed that they are recognised and that anyone listens to them. More importantly most would still be surprised if someone they look up to approached them to do some work. 

Last week I interviewed the beautiful Theresa Cheung. Theresa is an author and spiritual expert. She has also been one of my greatest teachers. 

A few years ago now Theresa contacted me by email. Having read Theresa’s books for many years, at first I thought it was spam. Imagine my surprise when I replied and ended up chatting with her on the phone about a project she wanted me to work with her on!  I was blown away. Why on earth would this best selling author want to work with me?

Well, she was searching the internet and I had written about using Star Wars to help children with mindfulness.  She was looking for someone with an understanding of the spiritual aspects of Star Wars and before I knew it I was on a panel at Comic Con! Here we are with some of the other contributors to the project!

Why I chose to Become the Force

We have kept in touch ever since so when I started my Super Woman Life interview series I contacted her to ask if she would be interviewed. Bearing in mind she was on Russell Brand’s podcast recently and has been featured on various TV programmes talking about how we are all coping with lockdown and the dreams we may be haivng, I was honoured when she jumped at the chance. Not only that but when I interviewed her last week, she spent the first few minutes complimenting me – you can imagine how that surprised me!   

That was what got me thinking about this subject. It doesn’t seem to matter who I meet, who I work with, there will always be people who I admire and look up to, and who I am amazed want to work with me. 

For me it is a sign of respect. I am in awe of their knowledge, their skills and their strength.

 

Gaining Perspective

Some of the women I have interviewed for this amazing series have wondered why I have approached them. What have they done that’s so remarkable? Why would anyone be interested in them? Yet some of them have actually cried as they watched back their interview and heard them telling their own story. We are all capable of incredible strength and courage when necessary, we just get on with it. When we see that same resilience in others we are amazed at their courage. Somehow watching themselves back on screen enabled them to detach from their own story and see their own strength, their achievements and their own ability to inspire others.  

We are all SO important. 

If you have any doubt about that, just stop to think about what the world would be like without you. That’s a bit intense, but if you are still struggling with believing your are important, that’s a great way to realise how many people love you, need you, would miss you, you have an enormous impact. You are incredible.

 

Accepting compliments 

I am slowly learning that I can look up to people and still be important and have an impact myself. Admiring others doesn’t mean I don’t respect myself, or that I feel unworthy.  

Learning to accept compliments and praise is something many of us struggle with. For years I would bat away compliments with a justification or a dismissal. Over time I have learned to say “thank you” or “that’s so kind”. Sometimes it still takes effort to do that, but I am getting used to it and you can too. Next time someone pays you a compliment accept it graciously. It isn’t big headed or showing off, it is being graceful and grateful.  

I’ll start you off. You are amazing. You have achieved so much and I am so proud of you for the way you have coped with this year. I love you.

 

Do you want to read more about confidence? Have a look at these articles.

Body Confidence Reading List

Empowered Feminine Reading List

Shift your focus

Shift your focus

Focus on the positives. 

We are often told to shift our focus, aren’t we? To stop focusing on the negatives. We know it helps us feel better, more than that, it can completely re-wire our brains. Evolution has taught us to pay more attention to anything dangerous or scary in order to keep us safe. Which is great, and really important, up to a point. We need to remember that fire is hot and it can burn us. It is important to be wary in certain situations, such as when we are near a wild animal. All those situations require us to be cautious and we should remember the danger. 

It is this level of danger that our brain has been trained to focus on though, and it finds it difficult to scale down the reactions when the situation is something less life threatening, such as an interview or meeting that we are worried about.

We go into our primitive fight, flight or freeze response for these situations too, which unfortunately changes our body physically, preparing it for physical battle, not mental challenge. Our recall and problem solving ability are reduced and priority given to the need to run and hit. Not very helpful.

The last few months have been challenging for everyone. We have had a physical threat to our health, the emotional challenges of not being able to see our loved ones, financial worries… Many of us have spent the majority of 2020 in an almost continued state of fear and anxiety. 

This has impacted on our ability to sleep, eat and affected our mental and physical wellbeing massively. 

I am going to be completely honest with you, (because that’s what I do!) I was doing ok, I was focusing on the things I could control; caring for my loved ones, working, getting my daily walks in… then a couple of weeks ago something changed. 

I started reading lots of the articles shared by some of my friends on social media about the some of the darker aspects of this pandemic. I began to feel very scared and although I wasn’t feeling that way all the time, I did notice the impact it was having on my mental health.

Social media is a blessing and a curse. 

I am fortunate that most of the interaction I have online is positive and happy, because I don’t put up with anyone being any other way. The minute someone starts to be offensive or aggressive they are blocked.

 

social media

At the moment though I have a different issue. The people I really love and align with morally and spiritually, are all sharing articles about the awful things which are happening and might be happening, disguised by this pandemic and the related consequences. This is all very plausible, almost impossible to prove or disprove – I mean, who can we trust for certain as an information source these days? As a result there possibilities are swirling and my head is spinning. 

At the start of this week I had a massive rant to my family. It was completely fear based. That was the point that I realised I had been sucked into a wormhole of fear and frustration. 

I made a conscious decision that day to focus on the things I can change. To focus on my family, my friends, making my life as positive and happy as I can. I started planning fun activities for Halloween and thinking more about Christmas plans (who knows what we will be allowed to do by then!). I am concentrating on spreading joy and happiness, not fear and anxiety. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are still aspects of what is happening nationally and globally that concern me greatly. Until I work out what I can do to really make a difference to those, I am going to focus on me and the energy I am putting out into the world. 

Think positive

I know it’s easy for me to say, “I shifted my focus”, I have been learning how to do this for years. How do you actually change the focus of your thoughts? After all, it is out thoughts that control our thoughts, isn’t it? Firstly it is important to say that these are helpful tips for someone who has got stuck in a cycle of negative thinking, if clinical depression is causing the fear and negativity, this advice may be beneficial but it may not be enough. I would always recommend seeking a professional for help if you feel that you may be depressed.

Make a choice

Well, as with so many things, the first step is making a decision. decide that you aren’t going to allow the negative, fearful thoughts to dominate your mind any more. Whenever you find yourself thinking something negative or fear based just make the choice to think about something positive instead. Once you have acknowledged that you are in this thought pattern that is the first step. If necessary, decide upon something that you will choose to think about every time you have a fear based thought. Perhaps when you notice the thoughts you will think about your children, dog, an event you are looking forward to? Whatever it is make that switch as quickly as you are able to.

Be kind to yourself

We are all guilty of being more compassionate with others than we are ourselves. When we give ourselves a hard time that makes it even easier to amplify the negative thoughts. If you are feeling down don’t beat yourself up about it, treat yourself kindly. Make a hot drink, have a bath, put on your favourite Netflix show and give yourself time to move through the emotion. We are all going through a challenging time, many of us have had months of uncertainty and there is currently no end in sight. If you have put on a bit of weight, not been as productive as you wanted to be or been a bit short tempered with your loved ones, take a deep breath and forgive yourself.  

Surround yourself with positivity

This might sound obvious but if you notice that you feel anxious or even angry when you have watched the news or been on social media, stop paying attention to them for a few days. Give yourself time to reset. Equally if there are certain people who are making you feel frustrated or fearsome avoid them for a fews days, weeks if you are able, to allow yourself time to collect yourself. You can also prepare yourself for seeing them by protecting yourself energetically before you see or speak to them, this will reduce the impact of their emotions on you. (For full instructions on how to protect yourself energetically have a read of this blog.) Equally important is surrounding yourself with people who make you feel happy and calm. If you are fortunate enough to live with your loved ones at the moment give them a big hug and show them that you appreciate and love them. Watch a film together and snuggle under a blanket. Comfort yourself and enjoy the company of loving people.

Get outside

Never underestimate the power of nature to calm you down and help you forget your worries. Just going for a walk in the fresh air will make such a difference to your mood, if you can get outside to a green space full of grass and trees, even better. The combination of fresh air and exercise is really powerful for all things mental health, but particularly if you need reminding of your blessings.

nature

The most important thing you can do for your wellbeing is acknowledging that something needs to change. It crept up on me and I am usually so careful about what I pay attention to; I avoid the news, negative people and keep my social media light, but at the moment it is difficult. We all have to find the balance between being informed and not allowing the fear in. 

If you need any additional help with your wellbeing or you are worried that you are past the stage of these suggestions being helpful please do contact your GP or consider contacting one of the many amazing mental health charities.

Samaritans

Mind

Change your relationship to change

“Change: has been the topic of the month in The Super Woman Life club for October.

Change is probably the word I associate most with Autumn. The changes seem so apparent at this time of year. The leaves on the trees turn from green to gold and then fall to the ground. The days get shorter and the nights longer. We all reach for our jumpers and boots and huddle round the fire with a hot drink. 

Everything about life seems to change in the Autumn. 

I don’t know about you, but I love it. I love getting under a wamr blanket with a cuppa or a hot chocolate and watching a film with the family, or reading a book, or even doing some work. Everything feels happier and more acceptable with a blanket and tea.

Changes in nature are out of our control. We can’t decide that we want it to be Spring, or that we would like it to snow today and make that happen. We accept the changes and we often embrace them. They are predictable to a degree. We don’t often get weather that is completely unexpected. We grow used to what weather we should expect depending on the season we are in (and I am saying this as a resident of the UK, where the weather can seem really unpredictable at times!).

There are other changes that we accept. We know we will grow older every year, every day actually. With that ageing comes a string of changes; growth, learning, changes in hair colour, number of teeth, height. We may not necessarily embrace all the changes as we head into old age, but we can pretty much predict what they will be. Just as when we are children we know we will get taller, stronger, learn to talk. We know that our hair and nails will grow and that will will learn something every day. It is expected and because of that it feels safe.

Changes we create…

Some changes we create, such as deciding to get fit or lose weight. Perhaps we make the decision to work on our mental wellbeing by meditating every day or doing more gardening. Perhaps we decide to make more effort to change our outside world by decorating, rearranging a cupboard, tidying up more often or recycling more. These are all changes we consciously make. These are the most amazing changes. This type of change empowers us. It helps us grow. It makes us a better version of ourselves and fills us with a sense of achievement or pride. This change is magical. We are in control and we embrace it.

Some change though, catches us out.

Redundancy, illness, bereavement… the list goes on. Changes over which will have no control but that we aren’t prepared for can derail us.

Any change in our outside world which is outside our control can have a huge impact on our internal world and, as a consequance, our mental health.

change

How can we stop ourselves from being floored by unexpected change?

It is important to remember that feeling anxious about change is normal. We are pre-programmed to feel safe when things stay the same. New things may be dangerous so we instinctively avoid anything which has the potential to cause us harm. We are often scared of failing too. Perhaps the change means we have to do something we have never done before, it may be a new job which has different demands or moving to a new area where you have to make new friends. We often convince ourselves that we are not capable of these challenges and as a result we stay in the safety of our familiar life and routines.

However, if we never change, and everything always stays the same, we never experience anything new. We never learn anything and we can never discover new pleasures either.

Imperfect change

What can you do to overcome your fear of change?

Accept that being imperfect is exactly what is required of youYou don’t have to be the best. You might have a quiver in your voice when you do your first presentation for your boss, that’s ok. Just by standing up and speaking you have learned to overcome that fear. You have grown and achieved something amazing.

Accept what you can control. All too often the changes that make us most uncomfortable and afraid are caused by someone else’s decisions. We have to accept that sometimes these decisions are signs that we aren’t supposed to spending as much time with them, or even that we shouldn’t have them in our lives at all. We can only control our rection to changes that occur, we can’t always change the decision.

Your life is your choices. Your life isn’t pre-destined. It is a collection of choices and changes. By choosing whether to embrace the changes that occur or reject them you are writing your life story. Sometimes we have to make that big scary decision to embrace a change in order to create the life that we know we are meant to be living. Grab that opportunity with both hands and hold it close, if you run away who knows when it might present itself again.

Take control of the situation. This may sound silly but if you make the decision to accept the change and convince yourself that it is something you want to happen, it suddenly becomes something you can cope with. This isn’t possible with every change, for example it wouldn’t work with grief, but even with illness, you can decide that it is a necessary rest and reminder of your own mortality. Appreciate the lesson in the situation and be grateful for the opportunities it presents. Harness the energy of the change rather than letting it control you. Make the most of what life has given you.

Burn your script. So often our resistance to change comes from a belief that we are not living up to the life we always thought we would be living. We have created a story of what our life will be like, often from an early age, and any deviation feels like failure. It isn’t failure, it is just another choice, another path you can decide to take. Stop and really think about why you feel that your script it the right story. Often we are trying to live our life according to a very outdated idea of what we sould or shouldn’t be doing. Burn that script and enjoy living the life you have been given. Everything will feel so much better.

So, as you are huddled up under your blanket this Autumn,take a moment to reflect on your relationship to change. Do you embrace it or does it fill you with dread? What can you do to make it more manageable?

If you would like to know more about The Super Woman Life  and the many and how it can help you to feel more empowered and calm, you can find out more here.

Cosy change

The Super Woman Life

The Super Woman Life is a brilliant new series of videos where I interview a range of inspiring, real women about the challenges they have overcome, and how they have used those experiences to help others through their work. 

I am releasing the first video on Monday 28th September as that would have been my Grandma’s 99th birthday. She was one of my heroes and I know she would have been fascinated by the women I am talking to, but also very proud of me for giving them a platform.

Over the years I have realised that every woman I have ever met has an incredible story to tell, they all believe though that they are just the same as everyone else – which of course they are, but that doesn’t make them any less important or inspiring. 

I’m not special…

We are conditioned to think that if we are capable of coping with something then anyone is, which of course isn’t always the case. What is true though is that when something is thrown at us we have one two choices; to sink or swim. How often do we listen to someone’s situation and comment “I don’t know how you do it!”. The fact is, we do, we just don’t know we do until we are in the same situation. 

Whether it is coping with a serious illness, a sick child or bankruptcy, we all have the ability to dig deep when we need to and survive these times. 

The Superwoman Life

Why a Super Woman video series?

The reason I have created the Super Woman Life interviews is to showcase some incredible women, but more importantly, to remind you that you have an incredible story to tell. That you can inspire others by sharing tales of your own triumphs over adversity.

By telling stories, by sharing our own pain, we give others the freedom to do the same. This process is not only very healing, but it can be life changing. If someone is caught in the middle of their own struggle. Feeling like there is no way out, or the pain will never end. Hearing a tale of someone who not only survived, but thrived, could be exactly what they need to hear to give them the strength they need to do the same. Ot also gives them a mental library of people to turn to should they find themselves in that situation in the future.

Super Women Revolution

Women are super strong. We support everyone in our lives, our partners, our children, as we get older our parents, our friends… the list is endless! If we aren’t careful we forget to support ourselves. 

By talking, sharing our stories we normalise what we have gone through. We feel less persecuted by life and we realise that everyone we meet has been through a lot, often more than we have. Super Women raise each other up. They prop each other up when needed too, but one thing is sure, together we are always stronger. 

You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be you. I am not an interviewer and I am certainly not a tv presenter. Recording these videos has stretched my comfort zone to breaking point, but I knew it was something I needed to do. 

If you have a story you would like to share and you would like to be interviewed for The Super Woman Life, please get in touch.

Supportive women

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