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The Compassion Trap Commandments

Hi folks

I’m sharing this as a Mindful Monday blog because today, it was absolutely perfect for me! I am grateful to a wonderful and wise woman I met on Saturday who had the sense to send this to me. Thank you Margaret. She has used this for years in her work as a counsellor and I have a feeling it will resonate for many of us.

Compassion is a core value for me. What I’m still learning is that compassion starts with me.  I know it in my head but my body and behaviour doesn’t always follow suit. I give a lot of my time and energy to others, very willingly, freely, with love and most of the time that works perfectly well.  Sometimes it doesn’t, and at those times, I can end up feeling overwhelmed, stressed and unable to function. It’s at that point that I sense these Compassion Trap Commandments will be most useful and helpful to me. Today numbers 1, 3 and 4 are resonating with me loud and clear!

So I’m sharing them with you, dearest unicorns, as I know you to be compassionate people and I think you’ll find these useful too.

  1.  MY TIME IS VALUABLE. I AM NOT ON 24 HOUR CALL
  1.  I DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT AT EVERYTHING
  1. EVERYTHING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE DONE
  1.  I NEED TO SAY NO SOMETIMES AND SET REASONABLE LIMITS FOR MYSELF
  1. I NEED TO TAKE GOOD CARE OF MYSELF AS I TAKE GOOD CARE OF OTHERS

6. I CAN DELEGATE IT, PAY SOMEONE TO DO IT OR NOT  DO IT AT ALL

  1. COMPASSION, CONCERN AND CARE SHOULD NOT RESULT IN RESENTMENT, EXHAUSTION AND

STRESS

  1. QUALITY CARING IS INFINITELY PREFERABLE TO QUANTITY CARING FOR BOTH GIVER AND RECEIVER
  1. IT IS NOT NECESSARILY HELPFUL TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OTHERS OR TO DO THINGS FOR

THEM WHICH THEY COULD DO FOR THEMSELVES

  1. I WILL SURVIVE WITHOUT EVERYONE’S CONSTANT APPROVAL

Mind-ful or Mind-less?

Mind Full or mindful?Mind Full or mindful?Mind Full or mindful?

This Mindful Monday blog is being written as I sit at the kitchen table at my parents’ house, in Wiltshire. I’ve retreated to the countryside for a long weekend for a number of reasons: I couldn’t’ be here for my mum’s birthday at the beginning of October as I was in Canada; my six year old niece is arriving to stay for half term in a few hours and I don’t get to spend much time with her so it will be finger puppets and cupcake baking for the next 48 hours or so; and I realised I really needed a break!

In fact, I needed a break so much that all the blogs I had planned for last week haven’t materialized, so I’ll just refer to them here and now. I had planned to write about the value of rest, to celebrate International Sloth Day on Thursday, but instead of writing about it, I just decided to actually do it instead. I stopped working on Thursday lunchtime, spent the afternoon cleaning the house, baking a cake, and got a very early night after a long bath. I need it as I realised I was very tired and feeling quite overloaded, a mixture of work and other stuff that’s going on. That was my commitment to slothery in action. I am not sure “slothery” is a word but I like it, so I’m going to use it.

I had planned to write a blog about my mum, for Celebration Saturday, to celebrate her. But instead of doing that I spent the day with her, in a little market town called Frome, which is far more charming these days that it ever was when I lived in Wiltshire as a kid. We had a lovely day, mooching about, having lunch, chatting and that felt like much more of a celebration of her and with her than whipping out my macbook and writing.

But I am commited to you, my unicorn friends, and I get enough feedback from you, thank you, to feel that some of you enjoy my words and read them. So whilst my parents are going to collect my niece, I’m catching myself up and thinking about mindfulness, given that’s my theme for Monday blogs, I thought it was time I wrote about it.

I ran a session for a client the other week which was on coaching skills development for workplace coaches and how we can use our understanding of neuroscience to inform our coaching practice. I know it was a good session, I spent a long time creating the material and putting it all together. Rather than being focused on workplace coaching, it turned into a personal development session for nearly every person in the room. It was so interesting to watch what emerged as each person revealed in different ways that what they had going on was feeling overwhelming, their heads and hearts were full and what they really benefited from was some facilitated time and space to step back, reflect, become both more mind-ful and have less in their minds. Which got me thinking about the words “mindful” and “mindless”.

The latter to me usually gets associated with a phrase like “mindless violence” and so appears to mean that someone isn’t thinking, or isn’t thinking about others, only themselves. Yet when we are overloaded and feeling that our minds are too full, we have too much to think about, take care of, do, then surely what we want is some “mindlessness” as in we get out of the patterns of thinking and drop into breathing, being, being still, being present, just noticing our thoughts come and go, rather than doing anything about them.

So I think there is another way to think about “mindless” and that has much more to do with finding ways, meditation being a classic and obvious example, but there are so many others, to swtich off our minds, our reactive thinking patterns and drop into different, deeper brain waves states and have an experience of being. Even if just for a few moments. The value and benefit of this is so well-researched these days that it’s a no-brainer. There’s another interesting phrase too, no-brainer, which means it’s so obvious we don’t need to think about it, and so I think being mindless is also a no-brainer.

I think that “mindfulness” has become a very trendy thing, it seems to be common as both a personal strategy for wellbeing and strategy for powerful and authentic leadership. Yet the meaning of it, in terms of being “full of mind” or “full in the mind” almost seems to be to be the opposite!

I use the cartoon showing a person and a dog going for a walk in the park in some of my training. There are thought bubbles coming out of each of their heads. The person’s thought bubble is full of “stuff” – work stuff, words, shopping lists, lots of business (or busyness? Only one letter difference!). The dog’s thought bubble is an exact picture of the park they are heading for. No business or busyness in his / her mind.

This cartoon for me symbolizes how I choose to interpret mindfulness and I realise that’s it’s much more like “mindlessness”. As in being present to the moment and not much else. Allowing my thinking and self-talk, the chatter, to subside and being focused, present, in the zone of the now as it were. Eckhart Tolle has written about this in his book, The Power of Now, which I would recommend.

So I’m curious – what does “mindful” mean to you? Does my definition of “mindless” feel more like what you’d like to experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts so share a comment wherever you are reading this, on the website or on Facebook.

I’m going to take a very mindful and mindless nap now! Nothing so good as a Sunday afternoon nap to allow the brain to rest and rebalance.

How I hope that Trump will bring balance into the world

This is  Mindful Monday’s post but I’m writing it now on Sunday as a) I’m out early doors and back late doors tomorrow and b) it’s really on my mind! You know this whole piece with The Donald over the weekend has really got me thinking about what I know instinctively and intuitively is needed in the world . . . the power of the feminine, to address the balance and bring to life in politics, global leaders, big business and in organisations of all sizes, shapes and forms around the world. I am astonished that anyone, of any gender or political persuasion could frame those comments as “locker room talk”. He refers to the host in the purple dress as “it” at one point in the conversation completely underlining and objectification of women for his own pleasure both proceeded and followed by boasting about a direct abuse of power, as a man, as someone famous. Let alone the more graphic comments . . .

I don’t actually care whether this is man talking about women, or a woman talking about men, or a man talking about goats, cows, donkeys or trees . . . the point for me is a complete lack of unconditional positive regard for another being and seeing this being only as an object to be used for his personal gratification.

The fact that she appears to put up their cheesy flirtations and sidles along with them in the video seems to be to me both testament to the “acceptable” nature of their comments and behaviour and to the fact that she’s used to being a woman operating in a male-dominant culture. I am wondering if she consciously realises that her beauty and ability to hold her own are both valuable assets and probably are helping her keep safe and keep her job. Is she playing along with the game? And if so, how sad is that, that a woman, or any person has to play a game with buffoons like Trump and that boy-child he is with Billy Bush.

What I also reflect on from reading and watching all this coverage over the weekend is that we are all capable of judgement and I am curious about how much people feel self-wrongeous around Trump and therefore expand his position to the highest levels of self-righteousness? I have decided after this weekend I do not wish to contribute to that on any way and so I’m going to step out of judgement on him as a person, as a man. What the American people are entitled to judge is whether or not they wish him to be president. I hope they don’t . . . and I suspect that the emergence of this video at what is a rather crucial stage in the election campaign has been deliberate.

In her book The Whole Elephant Revealed, Marja De Vries, writes about the re-emergence of the power of femininity as a long energetic wave to counter balance the male-dominated societies that have formed and developed globally during the last few thousand years. Forgive me if I am misquoting, I lent the book to someone so I can’t check, but the essence of her argument is that we are due a return, on a deep, powerful and spiritual level, to an age where the qualities of femininity are felt more resonantly, noticed, appreciated and spread into leadership on a global scale. She says that this is what could save the planet from the destructive path of consumerism, lack of regard for the environment, subjugation of others, including women, children and those from any kind of minority. I hope this is the case and I think that femininity is present in many men, men I would choose as friends, lovers, colleagues and is expressed in values such as empathy, connection, open-heartedness, caring, compassion, making a difference. It’s not about having women in charge, it’s about having the balance of the best of the genders rising to the fore and held together in an unspoken divine union of highest purpose that allows human evolution to evolve. But for those women who do end up in charge, for the moment I think, they are needed to be tougher, more resilient, more able to handle themselves in this hopefully fading way of masculine qualities of aggression, objectification and abuse, for the moment at least. Maybe in a few generations, or a few hundred years, we’ll see female leaders who are able to be feminine and appreciated for it, alongside male leaders who are able to be masculine, and bring all the strength, tenacity and resoluteness that is required, without the extremes we’re seeing in the world at the moment. It’s not about gender for me on one level, it’s about humans and how we choose to relate to each other, see each other, support each other. And there is much to do, much to evolve.

So for this reason I am grateful for Trump viagra en ligne achat. His actions, his words are a form of energy and so, as we know, there will be an up from his down, or a down from his up, a wave that comes to counterbalance the lack of empathy, compassion and sensitivity he has expressed in that video and on many other occasions. I will be mindful of what he is contributing to our planet and I don’t mind if what I value about him isn’t at all what he thinks he’s here for!

Who would win in a race between a moped and a unicorn?

I am delighted to feature this blog from Matt Whatmough today – so Celebrate Saturday is all about him! I hope you enjoy his writing.

 

What would win in a race between a moped and a unicorn?

No, I haven’t had some sort of breakdown and putting aside the apparent absurdity of the question, it is one that I currently find myself pondering. Allow me to explain. I have been on something of a transformative journey in recent months and had my thinking challenged on number of occasions.

I was a deeply cynical person. It feels good to even type that sentence in the past tense. Along with my cynicism – which of course I passed off as ‘realism’ in a deeply cynical trick of the mind – I could happily (oh the irony) refer to myself as a miserableist[1], depressive and neurotic. What a happy combination that lot is. It will come as no surprise to anyone that I have suffered from long and recurrent bouts of depression. In a cyclical thought pattern that will be familiar to most depression sufferers I was even cynical about depression. I would sneeringly mock myself for being weak and feeble minded, which of course lead me to feeling wretched about myself, which inevitably would lead to… you get the idea – ad infinitum, or at least it felt that way.

What in the blue hell does this have to do with a race between the eponymous motorised scooter and a mythical beast? Allow me to explain. In an attempt to re-frame my view of the world and more importantly my reaction to the world around me I have created… wait for it… the Moped of DOOM. Actually that’s a misnomer, but it sounds more dramatic. More accurately I now have in my possession a moped of cynicism. In my mind it should be written as

Screen Shot 2016-10-08 at 12.05.57

And whenever I talk about it there should be a dramatic dun dun durrrrr. That may say enough about the state of my mind. You will see I also love to digress.

Previously my cynicism has been a comfy pair of shoes. I wore them a lot. They were familiar to me and slipping them on was second nature. They also stank a bit, but of an odour that was in itself comforting and more offensive to others than to me. I can spray a bit of foot deodoriser to mask the smell but I’m not truly treating the underlying cause. I’ve got myself a new pair of shoes, in fact several pairs of shoes with gel inserts and I rotate them. But, cynicism isn’t something to be cast aside so easily. We’ve all been there keeping hold of those old pair of shoes because you never know when you’ll need them. Gardening shoes (ha!). Neuroscience informs us why it’s hard to give things up[2]. If you do something, anything, again and again then of course those are the things you are best at and most comfortable with. Tried giving up something that you love because you’ve been told (or know) it’s bad for you? Hard ain’t it. So to expect myself to just give up on cynicism when it has been akin to a security blanket for years is simply nonsensical.

Besides, cynicism can be a good thing. Cynicism is what stops all of us from being taken for fools. Applied in good measure cynicism can be our friend. For me, cynicism is also a great source of humour viagra en gel. Whether directed at myself or others I have used cynicism to make people laugh and laughter is a great feedback loop. Cynicism => Laughter => Being Liked => More Cynicism. For someone who has a core value of being liked you can see how the above Mobius[3] strip has led to cynicism being front and centre of my thinking.

That kind of explains the moped. Now, to the Unicorn. The Unicorn is not my creation but it has come to represent something aspirational for me. In all honesty, what I understand now, is that it could have been anything. It is a focus and a representation of change. In the context in which I was introduced to it represents the capacity for change within each of us and that, much like a unicorn, can feel magical. Now, my previous incarnation wearing my comfy shoes of cynicism would have been all over this like a shot. But I’m not wearing those shoes anymore am I? I have chosen to take those shoes off. The funny thing is that it has always been about choice, but never felt like that. I could have removed those comfy shoes at any time but it never felt like a choice because it had become autonomous to pull those little fuckers on[4]. Having discarded those shoes I now give myself the choice whether I hop onto my MOPED of CYNICISM (dun dun durrrrr) and wheel spin all over the unicorn. I choose not to. It sounds so easy. It’s not. There is no epiphany and I suspect that those who write about epiphanies truly believe they experience something, but it will likely be the result of lots of little things falling into place over time that taken in from a distance will reveal the bigger picture. I’ve fought hard for my ‘epiphany’, often and most violently against myself.

So, to answer the original question – The Unicorn will win… 9 times out of 10… because sometimes it’s still nice to hop on my moped and open that throttle up.

[1] Yes, I made that word up.

[2] Neural pathways are increased the more you do something. Obviously this is simplified but see Neuroscience for Dummies (seriously) for slightly more detailed explanations.

[3] The concept of which will feck with your head

[4] There is some argument about the concept of free will and the books of David Eagleman and Sam Harris are much better at explaining it – which you’d expect given that they are both neuroscientists and I’m, well, not.

No Blackbirds or Berries but the Bake-off instead

Mary Berry instead of berriesMary Berry instead of berriesMary Berry instead of berries

This is a Wellbeing Wednesday blog, albeit rather late in the day!   I had planned to write about the blackbirds I noticed in the garden yesterday morning feasting on some ripe yellow berries on a bush. I decided I would take a photo this morning before I left for work and then use that to accompany the blog. I intended to write about how much I have found stripping back my diet to pretty much nothing other than organic meat, wild caught fish, organic fruit and veg including lots of berries has really supported my wellbeing in the last month.

But when I came out this morning, there were no berries left and the blackbirds were nowhere in sight! They ate the lot yesterday. Which left me a bit stumped about what to write about. Until I put the telly on lol! Here I am, watching last week’s Bake Off on catch up and wanting to write my Wellbeing Wednesday blog and instead of images of “eating natural” I am seeing images of food containing masses of refined sugar, flour, butter and some quite unnatural colours!

And you know what, this is just as good for my wellbeing as the diet in some ways. I ‘ve had a great day, those of you who were there on our ILM Level 7 workshop will know what I mean and I worked for another few hours when I got home just to catch up on stuff from being away last week. A bit of innocuous sugar-coated TV is just the ticket for a wind down before bed. I’ve realised that I probably would benefit from more of this kind of relatively mindless activity during the week as I tend to keep going with work n weekday evenings on a regular basis.

Please let me know if you have a different view of me. I think I am very mindful, I am purposeful, I am switched “on” to myself and others most of the time and it’s almost like a mind-detox to just get drawn into the quiet tension and drama of the Bake-Off. It doesn’t feature much angst or stress, people aren’t shouting, there is some drama but in a kind of genteel and non-important way that I find very soothing.

I get that for the contestants it matters hugely and at the end of the day, it’s just a lemon meringue pie or a bakewell tart or a scone of some kind. Nothing world-shattering, definitely a bit life-enhancing in terms of watching people with a passion do something they love and I have learnt to just enjoy the tastes I can imagine, rather than immediately have to rush into the kitchen and whip up some kind of sweet, chocolately creation! Which I have been known to do in the past . . . !! And eaten the lot entirely by myself.

I’ve been a bit of out sync with writing blogs due to being away in Canada last week and I’ll definitely be using that as subject matter for future reflections to share with you. But I wanted to make sure I got something out this week that I had taken the time to write, had put some thought into and supported the theme of the day.

So on the theme of wellbeing, what the lack of blackbirds and berries has led me to conclude is that part of my personal wellbeing is supported by switching off in a much less significant way than what I know I’m good at when I go away, or decide to focus on everything other than work at weekends or days off. Just some time out, an hour even, doing something that doesn’t involve much, if any, commitment, energy or focus from me is really pleasurable and feels good for me. A bit of Mary Berry rather than blackbirds and berries.

“I’ve never been so stressed about dough in my life” is a line that I’ve just heard on this programme! It was Tom, for those of you who are interested and may remember last week’s episode.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been stressed about dough or producing any food to a particular standard at any point in my life. I am a pretty good cook and I would describe my style and approach as “rustic” which of course is code for “a bit messy but tastes good”.

In hearing that comment just now, I’m reminded about another aspect of wellbeing, which is recognising similarities and differences and not getting attached or into judgement of myself or others around this. We’re all different and similar in similar and different ways. I doubt I could muster much enthusiasm under any circumstances to get stressed about dough, but I can be aware enough to recognise how much that might matter to someone else and just be present with that person, even someone on TV, to pay attention to their priorities, interests and values. We learn about people by paying attention and learning about others supports our learning about self and that supports our wellbeing.

We had a great conversation about that today in the coaching workshop, about how as coaches we do of course take ourselves, with beliefs and ethics, into each coaching session. Being aware that I do, holding myself in attention to that, is also good for my wellbeing, as well as good for my coaching because it means I am present in the moment, with myself and my coachee.

Being present, learning to live in the now, free of fears (fantasized experiences appearing real!) and able to manage myself, my responses and the impact I have on others. Wellbeing in terms of emotional intelligence, I think, supports our overall sense of calm, feeling grounded, connected to ourselves and aligned to our values.

Ooh look at that! I’ve written nearly 2 pages and I thought this was just going to be short blog with a key message that a bit of TV for gentle relaxation might well be a good thing for wellbeing . . . and somehow or other some deeper and hopefully interesting realisations and thoughts have emerged. I guess that’s the impact of being soothed by sugary creations and some gentle tent-based tension.

 

 

How Woody gave me a reality check and I gave away all the strawberries

Last week I went to watch an interactive theatre session for one of my clients, the Regenda Group, www.regenda.org.uk, delivered by Aftathought, http://www.aftathought.co.uk, over in Liverpool. I’ve known about their work for quite a while but not had the pleasure or privilege to experience a session. The topic was Customer Focus, which is a core value for Regenda and one the company wanted to bring to life, using actors to play out real life customer experience. It was very moving, powerful, funny, thought-provoking and gave me, personally, a reality check at a deep and fundamental level.

When I finished university, I did a six month piece of voluntary work for a very small charity called Women and Children in Temporary Accommodation (WITA) in Coventry. WITA was run by an amazing, and slightly crazy, ex-nun called Mary who was deeply concerned about the impact on children and women, living in hostels and B & B’s, usually because they were fleeing domestic violence. I supported Mary by researching family experiences, interviewing dozens of women in short and longer stay accommodation. It was enlightening, frightening and certainly set me on a career path of cementing my desire to work in social housing. It wasn’t even called social housing at the time but it was a deeply formative experience. One of the most memorable interviews I did was with a woman who had had a life full of many ups and downs, lots of downs. She’d lost her kids due to her drug and alcohol problems and was back in a hostel, trying to dry out, after a period on the streets. One of the things she said to me that really stuck with me was “At least in here people look at you and say hello. On the streets, I could go all day and no-one even noticed me.”

Twenty five years later, a whole career behind me in terms of working in social housing, and an almost identical line from an actor playing the part of a homeless man, Woody, accessing services provided by Petrus, a homelessness support charity who have just joined the Regenda Group. He said something like “no-one sees me, you can all ignore me” and what I realised later is that triggered a memory of the interview in the hostel, and I was moved to tears. The actor’s skill in portraying the character was so accurate, so close to the many, many people I have worked with over the years who have lived on the streets, experienced all sorts of physical, emotional and mental health issues and yet somehow have survived.

Later that day I had to walk through Manchester after a meeting to get back to my car. I’d stopped and bought some punnets of strawberries to take home, two for a pound and the woman must have liked me as she gave me 4 for a pound! It was busy, it was hot, town was full of German football fans who’d come for a match against City. I had a load of stuff to take care of when I got home and I wanted to avoid the massive rainstorm I could feel was brewing.

But it took me over an hour to walk the length of Deansgate and get back to my car.  I couldn’t stop thinking about what it must be like to be sitting on the street, begging, or selling the Big Issue or just sitting and have dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of people each day walk by and ignore you. Look the other way, pretend not to see you. Imagine that, imagine being ignored day in, day out, when your life is in a place that most of us wouldn’t be able to cope with and you are in the middle of a wealthy, vibrant, busy city.

So I stopped and spoke to every homeless person I saw. I gave away all the strawberries. I gave all my money. But more importantly for me, and what I wanted to give, was my time, my energy, my attention. I asked each person about themselves, their name, where they were sleeping, were they getting some help. Every person I spoke to, male and female, had a tale that makes me despair for our system. And every person was deeply grateful, and expressed it, that I bothered to stop and talk. I didn’t want their gratitude but it made me realise how much eye contact, a smile, a friendly voice, matters when people are struggling to even survive. Homelessness is a complex issue, I get that, many people have complex needs and lifestyles we would find chaotic. There appears not to be a simple solution in so many cases but just acknowledging someone would seem to make a difference.

 

My reality check was this . . . there are many, many, many times when I have walked through town, any large city and I haven’t stopped. I have ignored. I have looked away. I have crossed over. I have gone to find another cashpoint. Because I didn’t know what to do, how to interact, how to care. Because I felt overwhelmed with sadness that we leave people to live like this. Because I was in a hurry. Because I was on the phone. Because I had enough money to pay for the car park and no more. Because because because I can make up excuses all day to avoid someone who is sleeping rough.

Not any more. I can’t forget Woody, in the way I forgot the woman I interviewed 25 years ago. Today I walked through town again and I came prepared, with money, I bought drinks and food for people, I stopped and chatted, I made the time. I planned to walk home and that my route would take me down Deansgate, where every hundred yards or so there is someone sitting in a doorway, begging, trying to sleep, just doing what they can to survive. I don’t judge what they spend the money I give them on. I kind of get why you would want to dull the pain with drugs or drink living like that. Who am I to judge that?

I do judge my own intention and behaviour though and I can make a small, small difference to someone by seeing them, acknowledging them, even just with a smile and a hello. It’s fundamental human stuff, to want to be seen, to be noticed. We don’t do well when we feel that we don’t exist or matter to anyone. We can cease to matter to ourselves and that is a hard place to come back from, especially when all the evidence around us would seem to suggest that this is true.

So it matters to me to show that people matter to me. I’m thankful I can, I’m thankful I can choose, I’m thankful I have a home, a job, an income, a safe place to sleep, I’m never cold or hungry or at risk sleeping rough. I’m thankful for the reality check on my own behaviour and I’m thankful I can choose to address that.

A new focus on health

Mindfulness Monday, 19 September 2017

healthy heartI’m going to see how this goes and I’ll review as I wish or need to, but my plan is to take one value each week, something that has resonance for me as a core value or is showing up currently as being important for me, and write about that from a mindfulness perspective. My focus for this Monday is health and during the retreat on Friday / Saturday last week, I found myself focusing a lot on the link between mind and body, emotions and physiology. In the blog last Monday, I referred to nutrition being an important topic for me right now, so this week I’m going to write a little more about this.

My realisation for myself over the weekend, and thanks to the newly-released unicorns for supporting conversations around this, is that I’m revisiting Health, which is a Level 1 value in the 7 Levels of Consciousness model, from a more evolved perspective than I have done previously.

I had some formative experiences with exercise at school that I think really shaped my views around this as an adult. I went to both a highly academic and highly sporty school and I was definitely in the camp of those who were better with books! I was rarely picked for teams, I didn’t enjoy most sports we did. I was actually terrified of rounders having seen Lucy Meeks get her eye smashed in by a rounders ball aged about 12. Hockey to me was just a way to incur ankle injuries. Hurdles were impossible. The long jump wasn’t long when I did it. I had my gran’s old solid wood and cat gut tennis racquet which was far too big heavy for an 11 year old girl to manage to even hold properly, let alone wield effectively.

And netball . . . my school was good at netball. I once got picked for the A team (desperate times, I’m thinking there must have been a bout of flu or something going around to have had this happen in the first place). We went to play Bridlington Girls School, who were renowned for being tough and aggressive. I was, quite frankly, frightened. And at 5’2”, which I have been since the age of 14, I knew that pretty much every other girl on that netball court had at least 4 inches in height advantage. This matters in netball. Before half time I was taken off the court and told that my standard of play was suitable for D team reserves. My netball career was over. Let’s be honest, it never started. I felt humiliated.

This formed a very strong view about sport and team sports in particular. I still hate playing sports in a team environment! Well the idea of it. I don’t do it at all, never had. Even chucking a Frisbee around in the park with my friends when I was a student was something I would avoid.

When I got fit, I mean properly fit, the first time at 36, yes, it took that long for me to engage AT ALL with any form of exercise other than yoga, swimming (badly) or the odd aerobics class, I did it very thoroughly. I can see now that I did it at Level 3, which is self-esteem. It did it to the best level of excellence I could. I needed to do it for my own self esteem as my mum was getting married and I realised that wedding photos would be up in their house from now until the end of eternity and no way was I going to look the way I did at the time, fat, frumpy and lumpy, in those photos. So in 9 months, I went from quite literally a sitting (on the sofa, at my desk, in the car) start to running a half marathon in less than 2 hours (13 seconds less to be precise. I worked so, so, so hard in the gym, I ran miles and miles and miles every week. I radically altered to my diet to a very low calorie intake and stuck with it, month after month, no deviation at all. And I look great on my mum’s wedding photos. I was also exhausted.

I went out to Thailand the following year and trained in a muay thai camp for a month and got even fitter. Hardest and most bonkers thing I have ever done (other than going and doing it again a few years later!) but I loved it, it was extremely challenging mentally and physically and I did it to the best of my ability. I was all about the numbers, measurements, competing against myself.

Of course life happened and fitness at that level wasn’t sustainable without giving up work and finding a way to exist on oxygen and water alone. The inevitable happened and the fitness dropped off, the weight creeps on. Two years later, back to the gym, a year later a back injury, blah blah blah. So the story goes on.

So here I am again, now aged 45, not 35. I can’t run anywhere near the distance I used to. The weight has definitely reached a number I am not comfortable with again although I am choosing not to weigh myself this time. I’ve had in the last two years alone problems with my neck, shoulders, mid back, lower back, hips and knees. I have at times felt exhausted and worn out and wondered whether my body is going to make it!

In the last few months, I have done some powerful work around this through constellations and family dynamics which has healed some deep emotional stuff and confusion that I realise now meant I had swung from a pattern of loyalty to my mum (working very hard at being fit, eating very little) to my dad (giving up on being fit and eating what I wanted). I don’t wish to do either pattern any more.

Now I am finding my own way, which brings together and integrates the best of the patterns from each of my parents and creates a sustainable lifestyle for me in which I eat nourishing, healthy and delicious food to nurture my body rather than drain it with sugar and rubbish. This is creating a much better base from which I can then start to up the ante with exercise again and focus in on building balance and enjoying getting fitter. I’m not totally out of shape, I’m in the gym these days at least one a week with my personal trainer and running in the park or working out by myself a couple of times too. I’m strong but not as cardio fit as I want to be.

So Health as a value is up there at number one right now. I don’t think I have ever chosen it in a personal values assessment before. I can sense that my perspective on it is from a Level 5 awareness, which is to create sustainable health, free from old patterns that had run me for years. I don’t want to beat myself up in the gym every day irrespective of how I feel. I don’t want to starve myself. I don’t want to crave sweet things any more so I binge eat. I don’t want to wake up thinking about food and go to bed doing the same.

What I want and what I’m doing is going back to basics, eating a great variety of organic meat, fish, fruit and veg. No gluten as that doesn’t suit me. No sugar for now. I am loving cooking from scratch and relishing creating delicious meals for myself. Who knew rice cakes and almond butter is a totally fantastic snack?!

<img class="alignnone size-medium wp-image-257" src="http://findyourinnerunicorn impuissance viagra.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/09/Screen-Shot-2016-09-19-at-09.29.45.png” alt=”healthy heart” width=”1″ height=”1″ />I don’t want a quick fix either. I’m happy that this takes some time, that I can be gentle with myself. I’m writing this on Sunday and I’ve been on my feet with the retreat for the last 2 days. Today I want to rest. A walk in the park is as much as I wish to do today and that’s enough. Eating like this, caring for my health and finding a new, profound love for the body that carries me around is truly transformational. I recognise that in itself can be both exhilarating and tiring. Today is for rest. Tomorrow I have a session booked with my personal trainer and I’ll look forward to whatever he has in store for me!

healthy heart

A return to blogging . . . all thanks to The Blessing

I am writing this on a Saturday afternoon, after a realisation during the week that has created some clarity a few days ago and then a burst of energy to write this today viagra en vente libre en espagne. I have been backwards and forwards with social media for Find Your Inner Unicorn since setting it up last autumn. I got all involved and engaged about 10 months ago, and then felt a bit baffled by how to be effective and not feel overwhelmed, so my activity level tapered off.

I went to some great social media training, run by the brilliant Jo Booth from Social Media Makes Sense (www.socialmediamakeseense.co.uk) and thanks to Hayley Hulme for coming with me. I had a 1-2-1 session with Jo a few months later. She was fab, really energised me, explained a load of stuff I didn’t understand and helped me create a strategy and an action plan that I was sure would work for me. I was back on track! I was ready to go! Yay!

Then I was away for almost all of June and had pretty much no wifi connection for a month and the whole thing came to a grinding halt again.

So all summer I’ve been procrastinating, telling myself that “there’s no point starting this again until the website is updated and the video testimonials are on there as I don’t want to direct people to the site unless it’s the best it can be for the moment”. Great excuse huh?! Sounds entirely plausible!

We filmed the testimonials a couple of weeks ago, and I must say a huge thanks so much to those of you who came and those of you who couldn’t but offered a written one. Having got some feedback that evening bout the idea of The Blessing, I had this realisation . . . I feel attachment and belonging to those who have been through the retreats, in a way I just don’t when I use social media more generally and can’t connect to strangers. I haven’t known who I belong to when I post stuff on Facebook or use Twitter. In creating The Blessing I get to belong and now I can feel a new energy for writing, posting, blogging and tweeting.

You know me, my unicorn friends, you know most of “my stuff” is Level 2, about belonging, and experiencing a lack of that and how that has shaped my beliefs my whole life to want to create connections, nurture relationships and feel that I belong. What wasn’t working for me with social media is that I didn’t know who I was connecting to or meant to belong to when I wrote blogs and posts. I didn’t know “who for” and so it felt faceless, nameless and so quickly became meaningless. And so of course I just stopped doing it. Because that’s what happens when we are not living in our values or purpose, we don’t prioritise stuff. I have a core value around connection and this is a new expression of that for me.

Now I know how to keep my motivation levels up . . . I draw on my value of connection and write for you, our blessing of unicorns, because I feel a sense of belonging with you. I can write authentically, with integrity, as “just me” because my purpose in writing blogs and using social media is to nurture our relationships and sustain the power of the amazing friendships and support that has formed already through the Unicorn retreats.

I can write for you, tweet to you, put posts on Facebook and find pictures, quotes and inspirational sayings to share with you all day long, because I know you, I love you all and I want to be of service to you.

I want these blogs to be thoughtful and thought-provoking, so I’ve come up with a schedule of blogs, posts and tweets that I hope will be interesting and useful for you. From now on, please watch out for Mindful Mondays, Wellbeing Wednesdays, Thankful Thursdays and Celebration Saturdays. I hope these themes will resonate with you. I’m going to have Fun on Fridays with Unicorn of the Week and any contributions of unicorns seen / posted anywhere that can be shared would be fabulous. All comments, thoughts and responses received with gratitude.

So thank you to all of you in The Blessing, whether you wish to be an active member or not, whether you choose to go for one of the paid membership options or not, whether you ever read this or not, I know you’re out there and that makes the world of difference to me.

This is the design I ended up choosing for the logo . . . it represents outward-facing connection whilst having each others backs. And looks much less like the European Union flag than the other design I came up with!

 

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Five reasons to relish Mondays

Monday by Darren Price

So here I am on a Monday evening, reflecting on what a great day I’ve had and how enjoyable, productive and relaxing it’s been. It’s been a mix of what most people would call work and pleasure and for me, that’s the perfect combination. As I’m winding down for the day, updating my task list for tomorrow, I got thinking about Mondays and what we tell ourselves about them that often doesn’t get us in a “get up and go” kind of mood.

The downside of living for the weekend

I often hear people talking about their work / life balance and they reveal they only consider themselves to be “living” at the weekends. It’s like they just exist in the week, surviving day to day.

Do you feel like this or tell yourself that going to work rarely isn’t living, it’s only working that it can’t be pleasurable and it’s only at weekends that you get a life?

Why not live 7 days a week, not just 2?

I think that this is unhelpful and very limiting. I want to be able to say I am living 7 days a week, not just 2. People tell me they are so tired by the weekend, they collapse in a heap on Friday night, spend Saturday morning cleaning, shopping and generally doing chores. That only leaves Sunday for any relaxation, social or family time. I don’t think that’s enough.

I’m not saying I don’t get tired from work or that I am not often found crashed out on the sofa on a Friday night with Netflix and a takeaway curry, but it’s more about attitude and how much we can give ourselves permission to enjoy weekdays as much as weekends. To consider working as living, and not as something that isn’t.

We hear it on the radio

Think about most radio stations, how often do they start a “countdown to the weekend” on a Friday afternoon as if it’s only Friday that can feel like a good day because it’s the day before Saturday?

Why don’t they do something similar on Monday mornings? A “wake up to a wonderful week” theme to get us all feeling upbeat, excited and positive about the opportunities ahead of us in the next 5 days at work.

As someone who has been self-employed for a long time, I rarely distinguish a weekday from a weekend in terms of how I choose to spend my time, and perhaps that is also a useful mindset for those who work a more traditional pattern. I feel free to decide how I feel about week days and they are just as good and enjoyable as a weekend to me.

Five reasons to relish Mondays

Whatever we do for a living, (and there’s a phrase to reconsider in light of this!) we all get an opportunity each week to do something useful, positive or challenging. And it usually starts with a Monday! We might:

  • Be able to give great customer service and make someone’s day a little easier
  • Help out a colleague and work together on a project
  • Learn something new and stretch our own thinking
  • Deliver our company’s commitment to whatever service or sector we’re in
  • Make a difference to someone somewhere with our knowledge or experience