Monday, 26 October 2009

Mums' Monday: what does half-term mean to you?

Some have already started half-term if they have a two week break. My eldest daughter’s starts today and I have been looking forward to it for weeks. Why is that you may ask? There are two main reasons – the first is that I have missed having her around since she started pre-school in September and I am looking forward to spending time with her this week as the days do whizz by. Secondly it is one of the wonderful things about working for myself. I can choose what hours I do; who I work for or with so if I want to have more of a go slow week, I can programme that into my schedule.

Those that know me well would probably say that I tend to sort play dates etc. quite last minute and at best the week before so I am also revelling in having been more organised this time. I have a range of treats some of which are more aimed at the girls and some that have my name on it. It all started because I picked up a flyer at the St Albans Baby Show, at which Minerva’s Mind had a stand, at the beginning of September. The flyer was for Going on a bear hunt which was due to perform in St Albans during half term week. Within a couple of weeks, I had spoken to lots of my St Albans friends with kids and arranged for eight of us to go on the Tuesday of half term. Going through that process got me thinking about what else we were going to do and I remembered that due to illness we had not seen a good friend of mine and her girls in the summer holidays so I arranged to see them. What with work days that only left one day, which got filled up when I bumped into a friend in Hitchin two weeks ago and we realised that our two eldest girls had not seen each other since the summer hols because her eldest started school this term and has been too tired to have play dates.

Reflecting back on all this I realise that part of the novelty of it all has been having a plan to which I can refer when asked by friends about half-term. It would seem that in “Myers-Briggs” terms, my latent J is making a bid for being recognised over the normally transcendent P. The benefit of advance planning was that I have been looking forward to half-term. In part this is due to the fact that it means a change to routine which is always a good thing in my book. This is interesting because Professor Richard Wiseman who espouses positive psychology, and has done some studies into the reasons that some people seem to be happier than others suggests that one of the reasons for that is that these people embrace change and are actively choosing new experiences. These may include taking a different route to work periodically or only talking to people at an event who are wearing a red tie.

You can see how much I have gained from taking a different approach to something that happens regularly so my challenge to you is to think about what you could do differently, try it and see what happens. I would love to hear about your experiences so do leave me a comment or email me at The question I am going to leave you with is what are you going to do differently this week?

Monday, 19 October 2009

My relationship with order is changing...

I was very impressed by Heather Townsend's blog because as with so many things she espouses it has an order and a structure to it. When reflecting on the launch of my whole self leadership model (check out this blog to find out what people thought of it) with Beth on Friday, I realised that I have a preference for right brain approaches currently. What do I mean by that? Well I have noticed that recently I have had an aversion to order and I expect that is a reaction to the fact that I spent many years working in a highly analytical environment where left brain approaches were the norm. And to some extent that is what one should expect when surrounded by lawyers and accountants as I was. As we went through exercises to connect more with our right and left brain, I realised that I needed a bit more structure in my working life. So I am going to start by making some changes with this blog.

From next week, the Monday post will be dedicated to Mums and called Mums'/ Moms' Monday and the aim will be to have one other post in the week that focuses on other parts of the whole self according to this blog. I am also going to introduce an element of play into this by experimenting with the length of the blog to see what that leads to. So watch this space and let me know what you think. And thanks goes to the efficiency coach who gave me the idea inadvertently through her blog.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

re: what's in a blog?

I am so grateful to Neil Ryder one of my new twitter buddies for providing the inspiration for this post when he wrote that it was important that all bloggers produced content rich blogs. This immediately got me thinking about how one defines content rich and then made me analyse what I am trying to do with my blog and so I have reproduced my thinking for you below.

For many content rich translates into producing articles/ blogs that act as a how to guide for readers. I presume that for many particularly those that see themselves as trainers they feel that in so doing they are adding value. Of course there is a place for this kind of writing and one cannot dispute the view that it could provide invaluable advice for others. And yet that kind of writing leaves me cold. This is because I cannot see any passion in this type of endeavour, it seems rather a left-brained approach to life from people comfortable with living in the mind rather than a whole self approach to life where one has access to the mind, body, heart and spirit spaces. And that is how I came to thinking about what content rich means to me and what I am trying to do with this blog.

What I believe is that no matter what tools we consultants and coaches have in our tool bags, we are still human. This means that we have moments of great fulfilment and in equal measure we have times of despondency. To be effective in any sphere of life - home, work or social - we need to be aware of the emotional/ energy states internally and externally and have the tools to access the state we need if we are not in it/ the external energy is not in alignment with our own. In fact those who are very charismatic have the power to change external negative conditions (see Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point) but they are few and far between. On a personal level, how can this be achieved? It means developing the ability to live in the present moment as much as possible - which those of us who have young children witness on a daily basis, such a gift.

The theoretical underpinning for me is to take the view that whatever the circumstances we are at choice as to whether we create/ break partnership; at every point we have the opportunity either to move closer into partnership or to turn away from it. At a minimum this means giving the other party the benefit of the doubt and where possible loving the differences that we experience rather than critiquing them. As we all have an ego, unconditional love is extraordinarily difficult to achieve. These are the key reasons why I focus on the sorts of topics that I do in these blog posts because I am passionate about helping others access their own key to living a more fulfilled life and becoming whole. It is only from such a place that we can really tackle the major issues of this century such as climate change. And yet I acknowledge that for others this may appear insubstantial, fluffy and a bit too alternative. I am curious, what do you think?

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Ode to Autumn II

On rereading my last post I was conscious that the focus was more around why I was glad that it was not summer rather than what I liked about Autumn. Inspired by Huw FW's programme enthusing on the fact that England has seasons, I thought it was time to extol the virtues of this time of year. Added to which the nights are really drawing in now and there is a crispness in the air which only leaves the air around midday for a couple of hours so in some ways it is even harder to fathom the joys of Autumn.

I have always liked the fact that come the end of September, it is time to get out my winter wardrobe in particular jumpers, leather jackets and winter weight trousers. What I really enjoyed this year was buying my two girls winter hats for the colder weather although they still insist on wearing their sun hats whenever the sun comes out! I also enjoy wearing knee length boots although I have never been a fan of the ugg boot. I saw the most amazing sight today baby pink knitted ugg boots on a 4 year old!

We still have not turned on the heating yet but today we really noticed the chill in the air which was an excuse to have the first of another favourite of mine, a log fire in the evening! There is something very relaxing about watching a fire raging whilst hearing the wood cracking and enjoying the warmth that emanates from the stove. That is definitely part of the bliss of Autumn for me.

If that is not enough there is also the part that nature plays. This is through the change in colour of the leaves from green to orange golds, russets, burnt orange and so forth. The next stage is the carpet of leaves along the roads and hedge rows that give children immense joy as they kick them this way and that. Earlier this week we headed over to the pub for a quick bite to eat and I noticed the first conquers in their shiny brown coats winking at me from the driveway. It took me straight back to my childhood and the horse chestnut tree in our garden under which we whiled away hours of fun choosing prize conquers and then stringing them up for the ensuing conquer fights. I cannot wait to introduce the girls to this ritual.

I think this captures much more accurately what I love about Autumn. On another note with the end of the "hazy lazy days of summer" come the more purposeful, focused days of Fall. For some there is much delight to be gained from this new type of energy. I would love to hear your thoughts in particular what do you look forward to when Autumn/ Fall comes round?