I was inspired to write this blog after watching X-factor. Now I know a lot of you have watched X-factor many times but I have to admit this is the first year I have really got into it. All I can say is that I am humbled by the bravery and passion of the contestants, and surprised that I actually like Simon Cowell.

We live in a society of prejudice where we judge others by what we see, what they wear, where they come from, what accent they have – but do we ever really know their story and who they really are? If we did would we change our minds?

Every week when I come into London I love to walk with my earphones on and just observe all around me as I wonder who they really are. Where they grew up, what their parents were like – if they even knew their parents – what their dreams are.

I am sure there are few that can say they never watched Susan Boyle auditioning for the X-factor. I went on to buy two of her albums as well as reading her biography as I really was moved by here bravery and the power of her voice.

If you didn’t see her then maybe you saw Paul Potts, the mobile phone salesman from Wales or you saw the latest audition in Wembley where a mother was entered by her 12 year old son who believed in her. Simon Cowell’s comment was that it was like she had swallowed someone else who just sang out with a voice so strong – it took a 12 year old boy to see what no others had seen. Never forget the impact you have on your children and how much they love and believe in you – they are your biggest fans and you never know you might just find yourself entered on a talent show.

One of the biggest reasons people look for a life coach is to build their confidence. A coach can’t make you confident, all we do is see the brave person inside. We champion and support you so you feel able to truly connect with your inner strength and believe that you are ok just as you are.

Sometimes all we need is for someone else to believe in us and tell us it is ok. I find it so humbling to see these awkward shy people up on stage in front of thousands (something I don’t think I could do) and when they open their mouths, we are not only silenced by what comes out, but emotionally moved as we realise we are all connected on the inside. That is the magic of music – there is no discrimination – just melody.

Next time you see someone who you have a negative view on – take a moment to wonder what their story is and how you would feel if they started to sing for you…

I have had bloggers block for a year now and have been waiting for inspiration to get me going again – well I got it last week in Mallorca on my bike…

In April 2010 I found myself standing in the rain holding my new pink Kent Velo Girls (KVG) cycling shirt looking at these tough English ladies heading out for their Friday ride and I wondered how I would cope with my thin fair weather blood – little did I know then about the impact and collective power of determined women as I joined forces and became one of the ‘pink ladies’.

Being strong has nothing to do with the thickness

of your blood ~ it is about the strength of your self-belief.

In May 2014 I found myself on a plane heading to the sunny island of Mallorca with 4 other pink ladies, having never done more then 2 days consecutive cycling and a maximum one off distance of 100miles (after three years of encouragement from the KVG). I was happy with regular social weekly rides of 50km’s chatting and never thinking I could do more. I was blissfully unaware of what lay ahead and was planning a relaxing blend of sun, sea and social cycling.

It was on the first night that it started to dawn on me as to what the next 5 days were going to look like. I felt that sense of panic rising that I wasn’t able to do such things – I wasn’t strong enough, wasn’t fit enough, wasn’t tough enough – how could I compete with these women who had done so many events and achieved such distances. I realised then that the Universe was communicating with me in another way. I hadn’t seen its messages when it had been telling me to stop playing small and so now it was going about it via another avenue – my physical ability.

At the age of 42, same age as my mother was when she got cancer and only ended up having 5 years left, I was shown that I have years ahead and have only just had a sneak preview of what I am capable of.

So 5 days, 5 women, average age of 52, over 500km of cycling and over 7000m of climbing with 22 hours in the saddle was my flashing billboard that life is only just really starting.

For anyone who thinks your 40’s is the start of being middle aged, this is a message to all of you reading this that life really only does begin at 40….

This blog is dedicated to all the amazing women in the Kent Velo Girls club who have achieved and are still achieving their impressiveness and potential. You are all tough and strong and a total inspiration. Thank you Bee Gregorie for having a dream to get women out there pedalling and it is not just the pedals we turn when we get on our bikes – it is our minds and self belief too.

http://www.kentvelogirls.co.uk

 

Happy New Year! I am not sure if it is just an age thing or whether time really is speeding up but 2012 flew by and the end of January is already in sight…

I decided to spare you an overly positive new year’s blog about goals and resolutions and just share with you something simple that made a real impact on me and is going to be my focus for 2013.

Every now and again a really good advert appears and has you stopping what ever you are doing to watch or listen to it, and most importantly has you acting in the way the message hopes you will. For me it was the John Lewis Christmas advert with the message ‘Give a little more love this Christmas’.

It is a beautifully filmed story of a little snowman who makes an arduous journey across the country to find John Lewis to buy his little snowlady a pair of red gloves with matching hat and scarf. It is all to the stunning and haunting voice of Gabrielle Aplin’s version of the Power of Love. The key message is make love your goal.

“Love is the light
Scaring darkness away”

When one thinks of love we usually think of it in terms of relationships but love is all around us in many forms and we often don’t realize its impact. By loving others we are also giving love to ourselves as it makes us feel good to love and this has a huge effect on how we feel about ourselves. They always say you can’t love another if you can’t love yourself and I believe it is true. Women are particularly guilty of this as they are always giving to others and often neglecting their own needs.

The definition of love seems to be universally accepted as ‘an intense feeling of deep affection’ and so I invite you to make love your goal this year and approach everything you do with the perspective of caring and giving. If nothing else make 2013 about really feeling more for life and you will find you have a far richer experience. If you can say you love your life then you are complete…

If you haven’t seen the advert then click here as it really is lovely is watch.


It is hard to believe that the first part of all the years of planning, building, training, straining and tears is over. What are we going to do without all the smiling purple and red volunteers and the friendly police posing for photographs with their not normally seen guns and letting children sit on their motorbikes. These are not the images one normally thinks of when it comes to London – oh and it didn’t rain either!

The opening ceremony silenced most critics – as well as those who didn’t quite get the history lesson, but enjoyed the special effects and lighting all the same. The closing ceremony was a true celebration of a spectacular two weeks of all what sport is about — bringing the world together on neutral ground to show who is best and the limits that human beings are prepared to push themselves too – often in the face of adversity the greatest stars are born.

We all have our favourite moments or Olympians that we marvel at but how has this event inspired you to go further in your own life? What did you see or feel that made you think you are going to try that much harder to get fitter, eat better, focus more – in essence believe in yourself more?

As Ussain Bolt said – ‘ I know I am the best’. Is that arrogance or raw self belief? The reality is that he is a legend. No one can deny that to see him in motion is breathtaking. There are too many truly inspirational sports stars (and more to come in the Paralympics) to list them all, but as Sebastian Coe said at the closing ceremony – ‘when our time came we did it right’. It resonated with me as a slogan for life and I wondered how many of us will be able to say at the end of our lives that we got it right…

Use the energy of this amazing event to inspire you to get more out of your life and to be able to say at the end – ‘I did it right’.

Go after your gold…

A few days ago I found myself standing, with no more than 6 inches between us, next to a mostly naked total stranger. I was dripping with sweat in a dimly lit humid dank room of 104 degrees stretching my body in a series of challenging poses for 90 minutes – not something I would intuitively have thought of as healthy or fun!

After much frustration at trying to find the perfect yoga class I decided this week to give Bikram a go www.hotbikramyoga.co.uk and luckily had a friend to accompany me who was also experiencing the great sweat for the first time. It was extraordinary in many ways:

Firstly, the fact that you are semi-naked in rather exposing forms. Even though you are told to keep your eyes on yourself in the mirror, it is hard to resist taking a little peak at some of the sights that you find yourself hotly amongst.

Secondly, it is a physical and mental challenge to remain in the intense heat. When we did have a chance to lie down I could feel my heart literally pounding on the towel as if it was saying – we seriously need to get out of her before we explode!

I have done yoga on and off in various styles for many years, but this was unique and for those who consider yoga to be religious in some way – I can honestly say Bikram is something in its own camp. If some do consider it a religion then that was lost on me. I believe it is a personal discipline and challenge to maneuver your body into 26 different poses while remembering to keep breathing and drinking so as to survive the 90 minutes without dehydration and/or passing out.

The teacher is certainly not your calm tree-hugging yogi uttering a series of melodious and relaxing chants or OM’s – nor is there the fragrance of cleansing incense burning. Think total opposite, and you have someone with a headset on delivering instructions in an almost hypnotic way that is aimed at eliminating the need to think and more to just act and allow the body to mould its way into shapes it never knew possible.

Despite my account of it as seeming like a rather harrowing and absurd experience, it left me feeling incredibly cleansed, light and with a real sense of achievement. My friend has already been back and I will be too this week.

When you are new to yoga you struggle to get into a pose, or to do it well, and feel frustrated when you watch a more advanced practitioner doing it with relative ease. For many of the standing poses one falls out of them and initially has a sense of failing but when the instructor says – don’t worry if you fall out, just get straight back into it and try again – you realise that the worst that can happen is you fall out and so you start again.

I find yoga great parallel for life as our physical bodies reflect so much of what is going on for us mentally. The principle of yoga is based on the fact that each pose is designed to energise and release toxins from various parts of our bodies. When we learn to let go mentally we are able to go further physically and when we let go physically we seem to be able to go further mentally

So if you are looking for some warmth and a serious challenge then find your nearest Bikram yoga centre and have a go at experiencing the joys of sweating and adding a new dimension to your life. I would love to hear how you get on.

This is a story of three little ducks and how we need to trust in life that everything happens for a reason. What isn’t always obvious at the time becomes clear at some point.

Last summer I befriended three Mallard ducks who took up residence in our pond. I started to feed them and before long they were part of the family waiting outside the back door every morning for their pellets and again in the evening. It wasn’t long before they ended up staying permanently outside the back door sleeping with their beak in wing between meal times. Even the dogs and cats seemed to know they were part of the family and didn’t raise an eye when the ducks all waddled in to the kitchen one day when I was a bit behind their feeding schedule.

I am always amazed at the accuracy of nature’s clock.

As the days shortened and the temperatures started to drop it never occurred to me that they wouldn’t be there anymore. I thought most of the ducks were resident now. I was wrong and one day they just weren’t there anymore. It felt empty for a while not seeing and hearing their daily quacking but I thought they had obviously gone in search of warmer lands, or the fox had taken them all out in one night, which was pretty unlikely.

This last week I was woken up in the early dawn by extreme quacking to discover the same three ducks are back. I literally ran outside with their pellets (which had been sitting in the garage all winter) and they came running. It was a reunion of much noise and excitement and what amazed me the most was to think of the thousands of miles they had flown to escape the winter, only to come back to my house – the three of them still together.

What I thought was lost, had only temporarily gone away. Sometimes when people leave our lives, it isn’t necessarily forever – they are just doing what they need to. If the ducks had stayed they would probably have died. They left so they could come back again.

Life is like a boomerang – you just have to have faith in that old adage of if you love something, set it free and if it comes back to you it is meant to be.

I am looking forward to another summer with my three little ducks.

Only a few weeks to go…

Time seems to be going faster with each passing year (it certainly never went this quickly when I was at school…)

What did you say you would achieve this year that you are now going to roll over into 2012?  While I love good intentions – sadly most people haven’t achieved in December what they set out to in January.

I learnt at a recent public speaking course that people are generally able to retain three key messages at any given time. Below are what I believe are the three key actions that will define whether your intention becomes a reality or remains for ever more on that ‘to do’ list.

Number 1: Make a maximum of 3 resolutions for 2012.

That way you have a much better chance at success and will feel like you are in the winning seat, rather than feeling like you are never achieving.  If you have less to achieve you can dedicate more time and energy to achieving it.

Number 2: Write it down.

Until you commit your resolution to paper it just remains a thought. Once you can see it then it starts to become real and you can begin taking action.

Number 3: Keep the resolution SMART.

(Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, Time based). The only way to really achieve something is to define it, be able to measure it; and create realistic goals and deadlines in order to make it happen.

Rather than making lots of resolutions – resolve to make 2012 a year of action with maximum impact.

Have a fantastic Festive Season and I will be in touch again next year…

The papers are filled with tributes to the Apple visionary, Steve Jobs. I always feel particularly sad when someone has lost their life to cancer – something close to my own heart.

Despite not personally knowing a person, you can still feel connected to them in some way. In this case I am sure most of you reading this blog have never met Steve Jobs but you probably own some sort of Apple device or certainly have friends who are Apple fanatics. I myself am very loyal to the brand and like to have my i-devices close to hand. It was the iPod that completely changed my commuting experience and from there it has just kept getting more impressive. As David Cameron said on Twitter  -‘He really has transformed the way we work and play.’

I wanted to send you all a quote from Steve Jobs that was in today’s Times as I think it is very true from a life coaching perspective. Clients come to coaching because they want more from their lives and want to find out what their reason for being is. While we can’t all be Steve Jobs, we do have a role to play in the world and I think if you take heed of his words below it will help you keep perspective when trying to figure out what you should be doing each day.

“ Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure, these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

Today’s blog is all about seizing the day – something I am passionate about.  The one thing I really enjoy about living in England is how everyone makes the most of the good weather (which is hopefully going to return this week-end).

I thought my Jack Russells were the perfect subjects for this blog, as I never get bored watching their attitude to life.  I believe we can learn a lot from our feisty four legged friends.

Their approach to life is one of constant curiosity for EVERYTHING, they have never ending passion and energy, boldness and bravery – they will never accept defeat or believe anything is bigger than them. They approach every day with the same intensity as if it had never been seen before and was never going to be here again. They are loyal to the dying day and love like there is nothing to lose. In a nutshell nothing gets them down – ever!

I believe we can all do with a little bit of JR attitude. The first thing is to wake up and say ‘thank you’ for your day – it is a gift and you never know when it will be your last. The second thing is to be mindful of your attitude throughout the day and notice when you are slipping into negativity or feeling defeated. Life Coaching is all about creating change which is in two parts, the first being awareness of what you want to change and the second is conscious discipline and action to change what you don’t like about yourself.

I married a very good golfer and as the adage goes – if you can’t beat them, join them. I didn’t want to be a golfing widow and so I figured it would be a good game to try. Since I started playing golf three years ago I have always found it an interesting analogy for life. When you think you are improving and have finally mastered the art of driving that ball straight, you end up in the rough. When you think you have become a legendary putter you 3 putt every hole – even the best players experience this from time to time as we saw with poor Rory at the Masters a few weeks ago. Golf seems to have a way of reminding us about humility and that arrogance leads us straight into the bunker. Golf is a game you never really master, you just keep practicing and as Gary Player is famously quoted as saying ‘ the harder I practice the luckier I get.’

I find that even the way the fairways are laid out can be paralleled to life’s experiences as there is always water, bunkers, trees, up slopes and down slopes and each and every course is different. Even if we play the same course week in and week out we never play the same game. So much depends on our mental state at the time and how we are feeling. I have noticed a key ingredient (if not the vital ingredient) to success in anything is to be relaxed. When we are relaxed we feel confident but then again when we feel confident we feel relaxed so it is a bit of a chicken and egg situation.

In any event, I finished with a birdie on the 18th yesterday which for any golfer leaves you feeling on such a high as you are right in front of the club house and you leave thinking you are legendary golfer and all those bogies recede into insignificance as that one shot makes up for all the rest. Life is no different; one good moment makes us forget the rest. So the moral of this blog is to keep practicing at life and notice how your luck keeps getting better…

Sorry if this was filled with golfing jargon for those who don’t play golf – see below for definitions.

Birdie – one shot under par

Par – the ideal score for a hole

Bogie – one shot over par