When life takes a ‘u’ turn!

With all the plans in the world, life will not go exactly as we have planned it. Of course, this is no excuse not to plan as we need order and a focus in our lives.  Coasting along is not at all recommended.  We should give room for flexibility in our thinking and our approach and having a back up plan is not such a bad idea.  The path you are on may take longer than your friends or colleagues but determination and commitment will mean you get there – surely this is of some importance.

I read a post on LinkedIn (my preferred social media site), where the writer spoke of timelines in which people feel pressured to work towards; leave university at 21, get married at 25, have two children by 30, become CEO by 40 and so on. Some will hit every goal post at the desired time while others will take a slightly different journey for various reasons. Home life, health, our mindset and circumstances heavily impact on the way in which we live, what we push for and what we close the door to.

From the age of 15 I wanted to become a journalist or newsreader. I loved to read a wide range of books, newspapers and magazines. I had a keen interest in news, films, showbusiness and celebrities in general. I was and still am an introvert and I do wonder if a part of me yearned to be exciting or to be seen as exciting.

I applied for a media studies degree course at a North London university – it was that long ago I cannot even recall the name of it. This was my dream course and I looked forward to delving into this subject matter for three years. As it turns out, I did not receive the required grade in my college exams and therefore was not accepted. That was a major blow to my confidence and my future hopes felt shattered. Thankfully I found another course, media technology at a West London university.

20 years later I am not a journalist or a newsreader but a manager working in local government.  Very recently I began heading a women’s ministry at church – early days but I have some plans.   I still have a passion for writing hence why I run a blog and have done for over three years.  Who knows where this will take me – I am certainly enjoying the journey!

A few tips:

1. Ask yourself why you have decided on particular life choices and what you are willing and able to do to reach them

2. Seek alternative options and try to refrain from a rigid way of thinking

3. Ensure your choices are based on you and you are not living up to someone’s ideal

4. Be happy with who you are today – do not wait until you achieve or receive x, y, z. Contentment is key.

Has your life panned out according to your original plan or did it go off-course?
What did you learn about yourself in the process?
How would you encourage others?


Do not allow fear to hinder you from moving forward!

Now we are one week into 2018 – yes only one week. Christmas seems so far away yet it was less than two weeks ago.  Have you given much thought about your plans for this year? I can boldly state there will be obstacles along the way, some may even call you to reconsider your plans. Will you allow the obstacles or fear of them stop you going for what you want or will you plough through?

We all have fears; some large some small and some are downright embarrassing – small spaces anyone?  I dislike being closed in so literally run through any form of confined outside space – my husband finds it hilarious! Fears can hinder us from moving forward if we allow them to.  At times the fear of the unknown is worse than dealing with the actual issue. I have felt fear when thinking about undertaking a new challenging project or task. At this point I have no idea how I will manage the task or project, I could have sailed through with flying colours but fear left me feeling completely out of my depth.

Feeling an element of fear does us no harm, I am not referring to crippling fear where one is unable to function but a slight fear. The important factor in all of this is you choose to move despite the fear, that you do it scared.  If you are speaking at an event you may stumble on one or two words, if you are participating in a dance you may miss one or two steps, the key factor is you are doing it.  In this case fear is not holding you back but you are conquering fear – whether you feel it or not is an entirely different matter!

Many people present themselves as being fearless due to deciding to put their best foot forward and doing what they need to, to get where they want to. We have no idea how they feel inside whilst delivering. We accept whatever they present to us and people will in turn do the same for you.

A few tips:

1.  Accept you are fearful and CHOOSE to take a step.

2. Think about why you are fearful and try to deal with the root; scared of failing, scared of humiliation, too concerned with the opinion of others. Be honest with yourself.

3. Give yourself a reward after you have stepped out of your comfort zone.  It will act as an incentive.

Have you recently dealt with any fears?
What advice would you give to others?


What are your goals for 2018?

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are planning towards a prosperous 2018.

This is the time of year when most people set out New Year goals. I know they are known as resolutions but I like to refer to them as goals.  We can be over-ambitious when writing our goals and as a result fail to focus on how we are going to actually achieve those goals on a practical level.  Without the small steps and milestones it is almost impossible to achieve the outcome we require. We need to break our goals down into small chunks therefore feeling a level of achievement when completing a task.  We also need to write our goals down on a notebook – the nicer the better!

I have been reflecting on the past year; which goals I met, which are ongoing and how I dealt with setbacks.

I did not quite finish reading the bible in the year but came close.  Had this not been one of my goals, I doubt I would have achieved even this.

I began reading more books towards the end of the year.  The only issue is where to store them as our bookshelf is full. I am slowly gravitating towards owning a kindle.

Another goal was enjoying each moment. I have certainly improved but there is room for development. My daughter recently complained I am always cleaning and tidying our home.  You would think she would appreciate living in a clean and tidy home. Her use of the word ‘always’ is somewhat misleading.  Perhaps she wanted my attention there and then as children do and became frustrated when I was busy doing housework.  Bearing in mind through the complaining, my daughter did not once offer to help to reduce my load.

I must say my mind pondered on hiring a cleaner on at least five occasions over the Christmas period.  I hosted nine people on Christmas Day and two family members over the week. Guests certainly equals more work but we had fun!

What goals did you set in 2017?
Did you put milestones in place?
Will you approach your goals in 2018 any differently?

The art of giving

Last week I discussed consumerism and our need to constantly buy, to have and often in multiples too.  This week, I am gravitating towards the art of giving. Giving in the sense of our time, our assistance and our money in order to enhance or bless the lives of others.

The saying; “it is better to give than receive” rings true to me. As much as I like to receive, I also feel great pleasure in giving to others especially when in the form of a gift. I admit since having children, I have greatly reduced gift buying at Christmas for adults.

Anne Frank quoted:
“No-one has ever become poor by giving.”

We should not view giving as something being taken away from us but as something we are freely giving. When we give it makes us feel better as people and despite the challenges we face, it does us good to take the focus off of us and place it on another.  One way or another we will always be dealing with our own issues so there is no perfect time in which to bless others. We can use excuses as to why we do not have the time or the finances but we prioritise what is important to us. When a thought comes into your mind about giving, entertain it rather than talk yourself out of it.  Be willing to commit and hold yourself accountable too. No-one else may know of your intentions but you do.

Giving is highly underrated in today’s society where the focus leans towards obtaining as much as you possibly can.  Where is the joy in that?

What are your views on giving?
What are your experiences of giving and what impact has it had on your life?

Has society gone consumer mad?

Everywhere we look we are bombarded with adverts; cars, gadgets, houses, clothes, make up, books, homeware and so much more.  Magazines, billboards, the internet are just a few of the platforms used to grab our attention. Whenever I am browsing on the internet, I receive pop ups from designer clothes stores – I really need to deactivate my pop ups!

I stopped buying magazines around nine years ago as I found a lot of the UK magazines had similar or identical adverts and there were a lot of them.  I felt cheated at paying what was  £3 or £4 for adverts I could easily have viewed online.  Reading the magazines also made me question my life which is not necessarily a negative thing depending on the angle you are coming from. In my case, I questioned my life negatively as I read articles on what one should look like, what one should wear, how one can be successful by the age of 25 – exaggeration but I am sure you get my drift.  Also many fashion adverts were for designer clothes and bags, £800 for a skirt and £300 for a belt – way out of my price range.

If I feel the need I will browse fashion sites online and do not need to part with my money for the privilege.

Clearly we need to buy in order to boost the economy nationally and internationally, however society does seem to be edging towards an ” I want it now” attitude, similar to Verucca Salt, the spoilt little girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who begged her doting father for a golden egg.  We all know how that ended up!

Marketing companies are experts at convincing some consumers that if they simply purchased particular items or services, their life would improve for the better. This may well be true in some cases and in others not at all.  People genuinely wish for their life to improve so they sign up to this.  There are a number of expensive anti-aging creams on the market with little evidence they actually work but women will part with their money in the hope they wake up looking five to ten years younger.  Sleeping and eating well, exercising, refraining from smoking and drinking have far more impact on the body.  Yet time and time again, people fall for the ‘quick fix’ option we are sold.

What are your views on consumerism?
How do you find a balance between your needs and wants?


Turn your challenges to good!

We all face challenges in our lives, some more painful than others. Recently I reflected on how often we use our overcoming these challenges to encourage and inspire others. Challenges cannot be avoided but we can endeavour to learn something from them, to grow, to become that little bit more resilient. Though I know there is not always an explanation for what we go through and why we go through it, I struggle to accept that troubles come just because they do. I would rather it was because I had to endure in order to help those facing similar situations or to become more empathetic. I am definitely a person who likes to ask why, as far as I am concerned there must be a reason.  I am slowly learning that life is not so straight forward.

My past experiences have meant I am sensitive when in particular environments and in tune with peoples feelings. I have had the privilege of working alongside women as a mentor and confidante.  I have had the opportunity to share my experiences with women in the hope of offering encouragement.  This reminded me that the challenges I faced were not in vain.  I was able to use my past pain to help others overcome theirs. I found sharing my experiences to be incredibly liberating as choosing to disclose matters close to your heart is a sign it no longer has a hold over you. Making yourself vulnerable before others rids you of the shame, anger and guilt often associated with carrying things of the past. You are no longer bound which brings immediate freedom.

How can you grow in the midst of challenges?

1. Accept your past and embrace the present. You cannot change the past but you can decide how you want to be in the future.

2. Remind yourself there will be an end to the challenge and if not the the pain will ease over time.

3. Focus on how you can help others even in the midst of your own challenges. It will be a struggle but it does us good to take the focus off of self. Also there will rarely be a stage when we do not have a challenge so now is as good a time as any to reach out to others.

How have you turned your challenges to good?
Do you choose to learn from your challenges?


How much do your habits impact on your day-to-day life?

I am currently reading a book titled The Power of HABIT by Charles Duhigg.  I am 100 pages in and already it has made me realise just how much we are led by our habits. The majority of habits we have are automatic, we have been taking the same course of action for so long that we do not give it a second thought.  Those of you who drive, have you ever arrived at your destination and cannot recall the journey? When I started my driving lessons over 20 years ago I felt there were far too many processes to driving. I could not get my head around the fact that at the end of each road you had to stop, put the car into neutral then first gear before driving off – as well as looking in your mirrors and at your blindspot!  Now, I do this with very little effort as it has become a habit; a part and parcel of my life.

When I arrive to my place of work, I drink a cup of warm water, two if I am feeling extra healthy.  This has become a habit and I do so before eating anything. I have read it can take up to 30 days for an action to become a habit, I feel this is a rather long time but it goes to show how often we need to repeat something before it becomes part of us. Before we begin to attach it to our lives and take ownership of it.

I am sure you can think of a number of actions you take at around the same time of day.  An ex-colleague of mine would make a cup of tea at the same time every day. He was most certainly a man of order. He would actually wait for 11am, 2pm and I think 4pm. Even if he felt for a hot drink minutes before, he would wait until the hour came.  I personally felt this was extreme but it worked for him and caused no harm to anyone else.

In a way, forming habits can give us a sense of control, often a false sense of control. We feel we are shaping our day by doing what is familiar to us, what feels good to us.  Habits often make us feel safe and comfortable. If anything were to occur to somewhat change these habits, it may well bring confusion or unsettle us. It is for this very same reason that I try to be more flexible to avoid major disappointment when I am unable to do what I wish at an appointed time.  One habit I am holding onto is eating snacks at home whilst watching a film – I like to have the cinema experience!

I have given much thought to my habits as I try to identify where they came from and when.  Whilst I am happy to hold onto good habits, I will work towards dropping habits that no longer exist to enhance any area of my life. It will not happen immediately as if you have spent years doing a thing it is unlikely you can let go of it in an instant.

What habits do you have?
Do they enhance or hinder your life?
When were these habits formed?


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