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…

When you are feeling grey – go Fifty Shades greyer…

Why is it that a book about S&M and bondage is having women all over the world literally squirming in their seats as they excitedly hang on every word about what Christian Grey is doing and going to do next to Anastasia?

What is it saying about society that we as women are all obsessed with reading how a woman can be submissive and totally controlled by a dominant and clearly very disturbed man – does this really turn us on?

I bought this book for my latest holiday which I have to say was the perfect accompaniment to the hot Sicilian sunshine and the Italian passion for love of life. There is no denying that this is a great read and will spice up anyone’s relationship.

However, the other side of the coin is what are younger readers going to do with this information? I was talking to a doctor yesterday who said there is growing concern amongst mothers whose daughters – as young as 15 – are reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Is this how the next generation are going to view sex – that it is all kinks, doms, subs and vanilla is out?

Below is a real life account of a woman who found herself in the situation of being a submissive and the harrowing effect thereof. The reality is we need wisdom and life experience to know the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy sexual relationship and what our boundaries are.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2174824/Fifty-Shades-Of-Grey-Real-life-Anastasia-Steele-warns-dangers-abusive-relationship.html

When it comes to coaching women I find the essence of all issues stems from how they value themselves. How then can women have good self-esteem and self worth when they allow themselves to be in situations where they are dominated and treated as a sex toy?

If women find themselves voluntarily entering into relationships where they put the man as a dominant figure that can surely only lead to further issues of lack of self worth and diminishing self respect often resulting in depression and self deprecating behaviour such as drugs and alcohol.

When it comes to the Fifty Shades Trilogy – enjoy the fantasy and take out of it what ever you deem to be healthy and fun remembering that there is always a fine line in life…

How many of you woke up today excited because it is Tuesday?

While there might well be something exciting happening for you today  – I am talking Tuesdays in general. It is an almost forgotten day of the week as it is isn’t the beginning, middle or the end.

Thursdays are great because they are going out nights as you only have to get through Friday, but what do we do with a Tuesday – apart from hoping it passes quickly and then we can say we are half way through the week and that much closer to the much loved week-end?

A lot of coaching is about re-framing how we see and feel about things. I tried this little exercise last week of reframing the way I think about the days of the week. Rather than just seeing them as days of the week I gave them themes. This meant that an arbitrary day like Tuesday became a tantalising, tasty and exotic day.

I decided I needed a word that excited me and triggered my senses. I spent the day really focusing on my five senses and it made such a difference. A normal day became a really interesting one with many things I previously didn’t notice as, like a lot of people, I was so focused on just getting to the end of the day and then I would be half way through the week.

So why not give it a try and make Tuesdays your sensory day – starting with today. Of course if you happen to read this on any other day then that is not to day that day can’t be your sensory day.

  • When someone is talking to you today – listen that much more intently to what they are saying – really hear them.
  • As you eat your lunch – take time to really taste the food with more intensity than you normally would.
  • What ever you touch today – really feel it.
  • What ever you look at today – really see it. Try looking at it from a different angle to what you would normally.
  • If you see any roses today – make sure you stop and smell them.
  • Lastly – what ever you say today – say it with conscious intent and really mean it.

Today is all about connecting with your senses and making every Tuesday a tantalising sensory day and no longer just that poor day wedged between Monday and Wednesday.

 

 

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.

Sometimes it is good to wallow and if you are a hippo then your perspective on wallowing is sheer heaven.  I have been asked a lot recently why I haven’t written any blogs over the last few weeks and to be honest the reason is that I have been feeling very down with all this rain.

As a life coach I always feel I need to project an image of positivity and always looking for the best perspective on things. After weeks of relentless rain I was struggling with both my positivity and my perspective – although I have to admit my lawn is sporting a fantastic shade of bright green, but even that hasn’t been enough to lift my spirits.

While talking to a friend this last week, she said I should write a blog about how I am feeling. I thought it might be seen as negative and then I realised that there is a lot to be said for sharing how one feels and that it is ok, even for a life coach, to feel down about life.

One of the powerful aspects of life coaching is that it allows you to acknowledge where you are in your life without any judgement, and to give yourself permission to be with your emotions and not fight them. We wouldn’t be human if we were always happy and laughing. We need to experience the dark times and the tears to get a balance.

Once I allowed myself to acknowledge the fact that I wasn’t feeling great, I was able to be honest when someone asked me how I was and I told them I was miserable. They almost seemed relieved because they were also feeling down about the weather, so we both reminisced about sunshine and how we need to book a holiday.

After I had given myself permission to be miserable I felt like I had taken the pressure off, and the ironic thing was that it wasn’t long before I started to feel good again – and the most bizarre part was that the sun came out.

I hope this blog will help you to give yourself permission to allow yourself to sometimes just be with an emotion. If that is considered a negative one, then just acknowledge it and for that period be in the perspective of a hippo. Draw comfort from the fact we all have the inner resources we need to pick ourselves up and when we do the sun will shine again….

Here’s hoping for a good summer.

I’ve just got back from skiing and two things really struck me.

1)   Adults stop at the top of the slope spending ages peering down it.
2)   Kids just go straight down.

FEAR – ‘an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger’

– Oxford English Dictionary.

One of the things I love about skiing is watching the way little kids go down a mountain – totally relaxed and without fear. We seem to lose these characteristics as we get older. We invariably become more uptight and less fun – who said fun is just for kids?

What would be possible if you approached life like a 5 year old going down a ski run – arms outstretched, totally relaxed and not worrying about what might happen.

The longer we stand at the top of a slope the more fearful we become as our minds start to think of all the things that can go wrong. This only makes us stiffen up and invariably the law of attraction comes into play and we fulfill our fearful prophecies as we go tumbling down or worse, break a leg.

The challenge for all of us is to trust in our ability more and to let go of our saboteurs who are intent on holding us back.

It is never too late to address fear and once it is conquered there is no going back. We are all capable of skiing like a 5 year old so don’t wait any longer to take on that slope that you have been staring agonizing down fearing the worst.

Put your arms out, take a deep breath and just go for it!

Suggested reading: Taming your Gremlin by Rick Carson.

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.

Are you on top of your personal admin and up to speed with your finances?

Do you know what your situation would be should you suddenly find yourself alone – either through death or divorce? Not nice to imagine but to have no clue should be even more unimaginable.

You might be thinking that this blog sounds more like an advert for life assurance or financial planning but I have been really surprised when talking to women recently how many haven’t got a clue as to what their situation would be should their husband/partner not be there anymore.


How come simple questions like these are not being asked – what sort of life assurance policies do we have? Will the mortgage be paid off? Is there hidden small print that says if we claim on one policy it cancels out another? What happens to the children should something happen to both of us?

Have you got wills in place and if not why not? Do you have a Living Will or will you be for evermore on life support? What investments do you have and when do they vest? How do you access them? Where are all the passwords? Who would you need to call and will your bank account be frozen? What will you live on when you are old?

Men and women are meant to be equal today so how come so many women still leave it up to their husbands/partners to deal with the finances and personal admin?

Death or divorce brings such grief and stress in its own right – to add financial uncertainty and surprise to the mix is just bad planning.

If as you read this you realise you don’t know what your situation is then make it a priority to find out. You will either be pleasantly surprised or downright shocked. Either way it will ensure you are in the driving seat when it comes to your personal admin and financial security going forward.

From April I will be running a light-hearted and enjoyable morning workshop giving women a simple step-by-step guide on what they need to do to get on top of their personal and financial admin. All you need to do is spend one morning with me and you will walk away feeling confident that you know exactly what you need to do to ensure you are going to be on top of things.

This blog isn’t your obvious championing of life, but rather about the raw fragility of it….

It is a tribute to a close friend of mine who has sadly lost his long and very brave fight against a vicious and ever so cruel cancer. Only those who have experienced cancer first hand can appreciate what it is like to watch someone literally disappear before your eyes. Where once a strong person stood, a mere, and hardly recognisable, shell remains on that final day.

Death of someone our own age leaves us confused as to what we should be doing with our lives, as it could have been any one of us. Why the good ones are taken is possibly explained by a belief system, but for most, it just isn’t fair. Why would God take a hard working, fun, loyal and loving husband and father of two young children? A five year old doesn’t even know what death is.

I experienced death first hand when I lost my mother to cancer. She was only 2 years older than I am now when she got cancer. When it was happening she seemed so much older. Now we are there we realise how very young being 40-something really is. I suspect it is the same in each decade.

None of us know how long our journey is meant to be or what is in store for us, but it is never to early to do your bucket list and make sure when the day comes you can say ‘I lived my life without regret‘.

Take a moment to look at your life and ask yourself if you are truly living life without regret, and if you are happy with where you are and what you have achieved. If not, then do something about it.

In memory of Craig Ross Junior who died 6 January 2012.

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…