Tuesday, 22 May 2012

What does a Rapunzel cake and a potter's work have in common?

Wow so far May has been quite a ride!  How's it been for you?  Those who are into the meaning of eclipses did say that the one we have just experienced would bring about huge shifts.  I don't know about you but I feel there have been reverberations for a lot longer than that.

This is really a time for great learning if you can allow it, and often that can come with quite a bit of pain.  Being stretched is radically different to being comfortable and on the plus side it is what leads to personal growth.  I always remember what Michael, a spiritual guy I used to hang out with said at times like this, which was think about how a cup is fashioned.  The potter has to form the clay into a shape using her wheel and hands.  It takes time.  Then when it has set, she will paint and glaze.  For all this beauty to last, it has to be fired in the kiln at a very high temperature. It is quite a process to get a thing of such beauty and yet the end result can be appreciated for a long time by many.  We too are a work in progress.

Using my own analogy, recently it was my eldest's birthday.  She wanted a Rapunzel cake and in the picture you can see what I created.  The last bit of icing was completed at midnight, the day before her birthday.  Both my parents and my husband thought we had done enough and any more would spoil it.  I wanted to carry on but they managed to convince me that my daughter would love it just as it was and she did!  None of this would have been possible without the support of some great friends.  Caroline provided a barbie and gave her hair extensions and pretty floral hair piece; Anthea from Krempa Kupcakes gave me loads of advice on how to ice the cake and Emma provided the invaluable kugelhopf silicon tin.  I am very grateful for each of them for helping me to fulfil a little girl's dream and thereby make her birthday even more special.  It shows if we step up to the plate, we can achieve great things and that many of the best things come through collaboration.

I hold onto all these thoughts as I enter a new stage of my life.  Last Friday, I celebrated the end of an era - an 11 year relationship with a corporate.  I am now giving myself space to create a new kind of life, one in which I get to revel in being a Mum and help to build the kind of world I want to live in through the work I do.  At times I get impatient and then I remember, it's important to take small steps and do silly, frivolous stuff and take stock after such a major transition.

This post was inspired by Grace Kelly's timely words If your pushing and desperate to make it happen you've just LOST! Time to relax, breathe, slow down, pour a glass of wine and let the Universe do some of the work tonight.  They spoke to me and I wanted to share them with you.  And now I am curious, what has this post sparked off in you?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The count down to paying it forward 2012

Like all amazing things, this movement started out as an idea and has grown and grown.  The film is 12  years old!  I had heard of the concept quite a while ago and thought that it was a good one.  It remained in my consciousness.

More recently someone invited me to join the Pay It Forward 2012 Facebook event.  I did and then did not think much about it.  This morning I was thinking about how I wanted to spend my day; what I had energy for and I found myself going to the pay it forward Facebook page.  That led me to the trailer for the original film.  It's definitely worth seeing if you have not done so already.  I had tears in my eyes as I watched it.

I was moved by Sandra's pledge to practise this throughout the year as it fits with something which is very important to me at the moment - a focus on changing the way we do business.  She is offering to send people in the UK a set of her pay it forward cards.  I look forward to receiving mine in the next few days.

 For the first time I read the introductory blurb by Sandra Richardson and discovered that the big day was two days away.  Only yesterday I responded to a friend's email for help.  She needs practical support to get the word out about her forthcoming art exhibition so I offered to spend Thursday with her, showing her how to use social media to publicise her message.  I am so thrilled that I can put my practical skills to such use for a really good cause.

That was synchronicity but it led me to think about what more I could do.  After all the idea is to do three things for three different people.  So far I only had one.  I immediately thought that it would be good to involve the local primary school which my girls attend.  I have emailed the head asking her if she will do an assembly on it and offered to come and support her if she does.  I am waiting to hear back from her.

My last commitment was to get it out there so I posted a short message about Pay it Forward in four groups I am a member of on Facebook - three of which are full of life coaches, so for many it will be a way of being already.  I also tweeted about it and encouraged my co-active colleagues to come and join the party.  The target is for three million acts of kindness to take place on Thursday.  There are loads of ideas about the kinds of things on the official website.  The great thing is that the acts can be anything from buying a stranger a coffee to offering an hour of your professional services for free.

Wouldn't it be great if everyone lived their life this way?  We would be so much richer for it.  What are you inspired to do?

Monday, 16 April 2012

The power of one: the story of how one woman felt the fear and did it anyway

I so excited about what my friend Shamela Kylassum has created.  In under a month she has put together Bollygood and the idea is to get 4,000 people following the simple moves in the video at 3pm (BST) on 12 May.  Why you might ask is she doing this?  

First if she is successful then she will have broken a world record but that is almost incidental.  She is looking to raise £10,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.  This is because two years ago, a good friend of Shamela's called Sophie Parr, died of cancer 16 days after they diagnosed her.  She was only 24 years old.  She loved Bollywood so it seems a fitting way to pay tribute to her life and to ensure that others have the support that they need if they get the big C.

In under 30 days, Shamela has managed to persuade the head of Consulting at PwC to endorse what she is doing and he hopes to bring his family to the event.  She has also received funding from PwC's chairman in the UK, Ian Powell, which is no mean feat.  The choreographer for the Jai Ho is the world famous Jay Kumar.  As well as the main event in London, she already has satellite events in Florida, Seattle and Cape Town.  

It makes it sound so easy or perhaps you think she is just lucky.  What I want to do is share her story with you in her own words because then you will see how tough this has been at times and how much she has needed to emphasise her vulnerability to make this into the success it is becoming.

I would be lovely to say that its all been easy from the initial conception of the idea to getting to this point but that would be inauthentic.  Its been the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  The resignation is always there and I have had to work hard to banish my gremlins. 

When looking for the venue - I hit a stage of panic, I was enrolling people and registering them, but I was getting no where with getting an awesome venue.  I was in a very negative place, thinking that I was letting everyone down.  Then a Landmark graduate friend told me what I needed to hear which was to stop giving meaning to everything.  Even more than that was the realisation that this project is not about me, and I started to drop my ego around it.  I went to bed that night, thinking "just stand in the possibility of the right venue turning up". 

The next morning I received an email from a lady at Westminster city council offering me Victoria Embankment Gardens for free.  I burst into tears and rang up my Landmark Self Expression and Leadership Programme (SELP) coach and babbled down the phone about how amazing that was.... 

The next challenge was the 3rd party liability insurance.  Only one or two places do this kind of cover and they quoted £500- 600. Initially I thought, I can cover it as my contribution, but the same friend told me that would be too reasonable.... he said there was another way and to find that other way.  Once again I stood in the possibility of another way, and emailed Macmillan for help.  They came back with a proposition of becoming a Macmillan committee and then they would help us with a bank account and would cover the insurance for us - AMAZING and so easy. 

I then focused on the next thing, the choreographer.  A friend of mine had volunteered but wasn't getting in touch - so this time I stepped into the possibility that the best choreographer would turn up and Jay Kumar, who runs a bollywood dance business, posted on the facebook page within minutes.   

So what is happening now?  More and more people in PwC are stepping up and making sure Bollygood has a life of its own.  My SELP team keep pushing me, my coach and my buddy keep reminding me to be unreasonable and thanks to them I have achieved so much. People are spontaneously offering help - a local restaurant owner got in touch and asked if he can help. We have the possibility of royalty and celebs coming and who knows what else is possible! 

My life has opened up in a way that is so unexpected and magical ..... I am being seen as someone that has vision and that can create something from nothing, ( my old past self is really quite overwhelmed, my new self is really proud) !!! I am now present to the real power and magic of this in your life.

You too can support this initiative either by running a satellite event - you only need 25 people to run one.  Alternatively attend one of the four events that will be running and donate to the cause by clicking here.

It is incredible to think what can be achieved when you put your mind to it and get your saboteurs - the negative small talk in your head - under control.  Powerful coaching can help you achieve all this and more.  What can you do to transform your life today and how can I help you?

Monday, 13 February 2012

Are you fed up with the results you are getting?

What has been occupying my mind a great deal over the last few months is how to define success and what it means.  The amazing thing is that I have received so many insights on the topic in a multitude of ways: in flow with the Universe perhaps.  I would like to share a couple of recent ones.

First a myth.  Many people believe that Struggle + Stress + Sacrifice = Success.  Many of us buy into this in our pursuit of success because we are convinced that the next equation is: Success = Happiness

And yet so often what happens is that we get this equation: Struggle + Stress + Sacrifice = Unhappiness.

You could rewrite this Unhappiness = Success = Happiness.  That probably sounds counter-intuitive.  However I concur with Michael Neill's perspective: Happiness leads to success a heck of a lot more often than success leads to happiness.

So how can you put down the load, let go of the struggle, and live more for yourself, so happiness comes more easily and often? Well there is a great facility available and that is Mike Dooley's Notes from the Universe.  It is a free service where you receive a well crafted message from the Universe every Monday.  In essence Mike's view, is take heed of your dreams, capture them visually or in a reflection journal and let the Universe do its magic.  This sounds easy but remember we have minds that kick in and start wrestling with how this is going to happen and when it does not all happen immediately fill us with negative self-talk.  It is all about trust and developing the tenacity to keep showing up and to try out different ideas in a playful way to see what works for you.

So are you up for that?  If so what one small step are you going to take today?

Monday, 23 January 2012

The rubbish diet challenge: part of a new way of approaching life in 21st Century

On Friday I spoke to Karen Cannard for the first time.  She was incredibly inspiring for many reasons.  I want to write about her because she has found an alternative way to live that defies current thinking and does not involve being part of Occupy at St Pauls.  Let me explain how.  A year after having a baby she returned to work and swapped a commute to London for one to Buckinghamshire so that she and her hubby could pay their mortgage.  She realised that this was not good quality of life for her or her family.  As a family, she and her husband took the decision to move to Suffolk and live in a house where they could afford on one salary.  This gave Karen the freedom to give up work.  What I love about Karen is her honesty. She said it was tough being a full-time mum to young children.  I can relate to that – it is not the most intellectually stimulating experience.  In fact it’s lots of routine, repetition and drudgery with the odd highlight.

Karen however was a woman with a sense of her purpose.  She had joined a LETS (local exchange trading scheme) scheme whilst living in Herts and so had already started to question the way many of us live our lives.  It all started from the point when she went on maternity leave and realised how few people she knew locally due to her commuting lifestyle.  Prior to Suffolk, life had been commuting, getting home for a bite to eat, falling asleep on the sofa, going to bed and repeating the experience another 4 times in a week.  Is that living? No, it is surviving.

We go forward in time to 2008 when Karen found herself accepting somewhat reluctantly to take the rubbish challenge.  The council were keen to have her on board because she was what they considered Mrs Average – a house wife with two kids – and no interest in green issues.  It was an eight week challenge and she and her family reduced their rubbish so that by the last week they threw away one plaster!  Today they just have a carrier bag of rubbish a month.  More details about that can be found on her website.

This was just the start of a journey/ adventure for Karen.  Last year found her sharing a platform with some of the great and the good talking to CEOs of waste mgmt and recycling firms about what needs to happen next.  She has also spoken on radio 4 and been on tv.  She is still passionate about rubbish and can see how impacts on the world in the future - what will our children and children's children inherit.  I don’t think she imagined any of that back in 2008. 

Today she has started the rubbish diet where she has invited anyone who wants to participate in an eight week challenge where they slim their bins.  The idea is to help people recognise the challenges that they face in cutting down what they throw away.   For example I live in a county, Herts, which does not do mixed plastic recycling which means that there is a load of stuff that I cannot recycle. Also because the council do not collect plastics, we have to recycle those ourselves which is a dirty messy job.  I do it because I am committed to cutting down our waste but I wonder how many people actually do.

I am looking forward to the next eight weeks in terms of seeing what we are throwing away and how much we can cut down further on what we chuck.  I know it is going to be challenging and I am looking forward to some great tips from Karen.  Karen herself is hoping to raise awareness through a campaign on twitter and will mentor eight families during this period.  So for more info check out the video on Karen's site - http://www.therubbishdiet.blogspot.com/2012/01/my-thoughts-and-hopes-for-rubbish-diet.html

I do hope all this will inspire you to join us in the rubbish diet.  I find it so inspiring because much of what Karen does is unpaid and yet she is passionate about her mission and it is vital in terms of challenging the convenience society we live in where the focus is on consumerism.  I take hope from the fact that she is forging the way of a new way of living.  She does not need to ask herself if she is happy.  She gains so much satisfaction from living a meaningful life full of purpose.