What are your plans for 2020?

 

 

 

 

 

We have officially made it to 2020!

I am looking forward to what this year has in store for me and my family.  No matter how many plans we have there is still an air of the ‘unknown’ which can be both frightening and a little exciting at times.  It really does depend on your perspective.  I have learnt we are not in control of our life half as much as we would like to think we are.  Does this mean we should throw out our plans and sit back for life to ‘happen’ to us?  I say no.  I say we go ahead and put plans in place knowing some will pan out, some will go on hold and some will be scrapped due to our personal choices.

I make it a habit to write down my plans and rarely have more than five.  I believe if your list is too long, you can easily lose focus or overstretch yourself and fail to reach any of your goals.  At the end of each year, I discuss my plans with my husband and he shares his plans with me – several interlink and the remaining are personal.  Sharing your plans make you accountable; it could be with your spouse, partner, family member, friend or a mentor.  Three to six months into the year you could provide an update on how your plans are going, considering:

What were the challenges?

How did you overcome them?

Did you change direction?

How did you manage the disappointments?

What lessons did you learn?

I am unsure what changes you would like to see in 2020 but they are less likely to occur if you fail to note them down or type them in your phone/laptop.  Regularly reading your goals serves as a reminder but also makes your mind more efficient by helping you to focus on the important aspects.

So in 2020, do not allow your goals to remain as ‘loose words’, ‘hopes’ and ‘dreams’.  Do what you can now to reach your goals, however small the steps may be.  If you cannot get a place on your desired course this year, buy a book to read/study in the meantime in preparation rather than simply waiting to apply in 2021.  If you wish to be more organised, choose to write ‘to do’ lists listing your key priorities. Be flexible and willing to take a change of direction if needed. Most of all remember to enjoy the process!

Are you kind to yourself?

 

 

 

 

We ought to be kind and loving to ourselves despite our flaws and shortcomings. Regardless of whether we have achieved or arrived at our planned destination. At times we can appear on the outside to love and appreciate ourselves but what thoughts whirl around our mind whilst we are at home, at work, with friends and family? Are they thoughts of love and acceptance or thoughts of rejection, dissatisfaction and hopelessness?

Our thoughts matter far more than the opinion of others around us. What we think about ourselves relates to how we interact with others, perceive others and see our place in this world. Healthy, loving thoughts mean we acknowledge when we have messed up, missed the mark and choose to start afresh. Unhealthy thoughts mean we scrutinise past conversations, have unreasonable expectations of ourselves and generally see life in a negative light.

Being kind to ourselves starts with the small. Soaking in a bath with candles after a long day at work or at being home with your little ones, it means treating yourself to an item that will compliment you (according to your budget obviously). Being kind to ourselves means having an early night if you are tired, despite seeing a pile of ironing that needs doing. Being kind to yourself is accepting it is okay to think of your own needs, particularly when you tend to spend a lot of your time meeting the needs of family and friends.

I struggled with being kind to myself at times. My expectations were too great. I would have stern words with myself if I did not achieve what I expected to in an exam, if a friendship went pear shaped or if there was a disappointment of some kind. Negative thoughts would then follow which would lead me to a dark place. I learnt over the years to accept myself as I am and as Americans would say ‘cut myself some slack’.
It is liberating and certainly brings a sense of freedom. Often we are prisoners of our own thoughts. We owe it to ourselves to loosen the rope.

Change your mindset!

 

 

 

 

 

Our mindset hugely affects the way in which we function and our approach to life. It impacts on the way we view others and how we deal with challenges and disappointment. Our mode of thinking has been built up since we were young therefore it is realistic to accept it will take time to change direction. Hope is simply not enough, we need to have a willingness to change our mindset for the better.

Living with a ‘glass half empty’ mindset will only bring much of the same thing; pessimism, low expectations, looking for the worst in people and in situations. Working towards a ‘glass half full” or “cup overfloweth” mentality will take work but the outcome will make it worthwhile.

My husband (bless him) is optimistic to the point of being downright unrealistic. He will convince himself a typical 50 minute journey can somehow take 30 minutes. I have assured him even if there were no other car on the road this would not be possible. When we go to the shopping centre or supermarket, he drives directly to the front of the store to look for parking. Everyone knows the closest spaces are always taken. I struggle not to roll my eyes.

I am the realist in our marriage. I tend to look at the facts and evidence. I will identify why something cannot be done while my husband will respond “Well, why not?!” We work together to meet in the middle of our two extremes.

Previously when going on holiday, I would discount the flight as being part of the holiday. In my mind it was a means to an end and something I had to endure rather than enjoy. I saw checking in at the airport as stressful and boring. I would be agitated on the aeroplane, constantly checking how many flight hours remained. However when I flew to Jamaica in June, I trained myself to believe the holiday started from the airport; we took selfies, I bought goods in duty free and stopped for breakfast. I enjoyed watching films, listened to music and slept in between. What a difference- all because I tweaked my thought pattern.

How much patience do you really have?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we believe we have a lot more patience than we do. It is only when put to the test can we truly identify if we are lacking in this area. All the more important is the attitude we maintain when we are forced to wait. Are we calm and composed or irate and distracted? Do we overlook the feelings of others in pursuit of what we want?

I know, hands on heart that I do not have an overflow of patience and I am learning – often the hard way. As a teenager my mum always told me I needed to learn patience and I casually allowed her comments to run over me. The number of times she uttered “patience is a virtue” I do not know!

It is far easier to have little patience as a child and teenager as people almost expect it. As an adult a lack of patience is not welcomed. It is assumed our ‘people skills’ are more in tune and that our sense of awareness grows. But does it?

My husband always jokes that I act like I am on a mission. Even when on holiday/family breaks I struggle to take leisurely strolls and instead walk as if I have a train to catch. He holds my hands to slow me down. On the outside I smile and internally I feel irritated at not keeping at a faster pace.

Last week I walked down the high street and got stuck behind two women who slowly stolled side by side without a care in the world. I felt myself becoming agitated as I planned a way to get around or through them.

A few months ago at the end of our church service, an elderly woman stopped to speak to me. A part of me desired to rush off to meet my husband and collect our children from Sunday School. I then had a thought that perhaps this woman needed to talk, even if it was just general banter. We spoke for about 10 minutes. As we drove home I wondered if the woman was married or if she lived alone. I wondered if her only real communication with others took place at church. Whatever her circumstances she made me reflect on my actions and that is never a bad thing.

When life throws you a curveball….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAST Saturday morning I planned to drop my daughter to dance for two hours and return home to do some housework. We jumped into our car, I turned the key to discover the battery was dead – great timing! I sat for a moment and wondered what to do. My husband was in London at a meeting with the other car, my sister in-law was unavailable and my son was groggy with a flu virus. My daughter also missed dance the week before and needed to catch up with the dance routine.

I decided to order a taxi, drop my daughter to dance and wait for 1.5 hours. I was annoyed because A. I would be £15 out of pocket, B. I now needed to make myself presentable – usually I ‘drop and run’ so no need for any make up or matching clothes, C. A load of washing was in the machine waiting to be hung out.

As I sat typing this while my son sniffed and sneezed next to me, I realised that not everything will go according to plan. Life will throw you curveballs but we cannot afford to be beaten by them. As much as we plan, we need to work with an element of flexibility. If one is too rigid you leave yourself open to much disappointment.

I lived a life of rigidity and it was limiting and exhausting. I was constantly picking myself up from disappointment after disappointment. Whether my train was delayed or an appointment/event was cancelled, it left me feeling out of control.

Having control is learning to rise above circumstances which come to try you and throw your plans right out of the window. Having control is accepting we do not travel through life along one straight, neat road paved with flowers. The road bends and turns, moves up and down and can be ugly. In between those twists and turns we can choose to laugh and relish the good times. If we look closely, they are there!

How deep is your desire to belong?

 

 

 

 

 

PEOPLE like to feel a sense of belonging as we tend to thrive in such environments. Belonging contributes to us feeling wanted, cared for, important and valued. If our sense of belonging is questioned then we can easily lose who we are, the part we play, the impact we make and our overall significance in life.

Have you had a time in your life where you felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole? For whatever reason you were not accepted and embraced. You felt out of your depth – whether in a new job, project, friendship group or a change of family dynamics. If we are not careful we can waste too much energy looking at our inner man and trying to identify why we are not a good fit. We can analyse and tear apart our character, mannerism, personality to try to make sense of it all.

Dr Brene Brown is a top researcher on vulnerability and empathy. I recently watched her Ted Talk video on Youtube and highly recommend it! One of her quotes stood out to me;

“No-one belongs here more than you.”

Simple but powerful.

There are many who are acutely aware when they are not easily embraced, listened to, given recognition and as a result they are likely to merge into the background. I have seen it and lived it first hand, more so throughout my teenage years.  I never felt a sense of belonging at secondary (high) school. It was like I did not get the script, did not easily gel with my peers, did not flow with the ‘street talk’.  I felt out of place, awkward and came to a stage where I just stopped trying.  It was liberating to finally not care who did or did not welcome me into their group.  I was at peace with who I was; an introvert who thought far more than she spoke, had her own mind and did not compromise her values in order to be accepted.

I have learnt that self-acceptance is the key to us having a sense of belonging. Only when we first accept ourselves, ‘flaws and all’, are we confident to bring authenticity to any environment we find ourselves in.

Instead of walking into a room and wondering who will speak to us, why not walk into a room and wonder which person  we would like to approach.  Same situation, completely different mindset!

Do you live for compliments and recognition?

 

 

 

 

 

 

WE all enjoy being complimented, whether we are sporting a new hairstyle, outfit, or just delivered an outstanding presentation at our place of work.  While it is feels great to receive compliments we step into dangerous territory when we begin to seek and live off of them. It can become like a terrible drug habit bringing high high’s and low low’s. I believe we give others far too much say over our lives if what they say and do (or not) has an impact on the way we perceive ourselves. We must be wary of granting others unnecessary control over us. The control may be unseen but it is very present in our minds.

There will be times in your life where you will have a hair cut or wear a new outfit and everyone you speak to that evening will fail to compliment you. It may be they simply have not noticed or have and are choosing to stay quiet. You know you have made an effort and feel confident in yourself so why do you require others to validate you? Surely what you think is placed on a higher standing than what others think of you!

There will be times in your life where colleagues will not appreciate the skill set you bring to your team or you will be overlooked for promotion. How would this affect your self-worth? Would you begin to question your skills and expertise when you previously knew you were more capable for the job and more?

Whilst taking on board the opinions and constructive criticism from others may assist with personal development, we need not allow it to shape our very being.

We should arrive at a stage in our life where we know who we are, like who we are and accept not everyone is able to ‘prop us up’. Whether they cannot or will not is irrelevant – the fact is they are unable to provide what you believe you need.

We can choose to compliment and be proud of ourselves. We can choose to control ‘our story’ rather than placing it into the hands of others.

What do you expect from others?
How did you feel when people were unable to meet your needs?

Allow your passion to be your driving force!

 

 

 

 

 

 

WE are all passionate about at least one thing in life. There is a subject matter that riles you up something chronic, whether for the good or bad. You could talk about this matter for hours and still fail to touch the surface. You may wonder why others are not equally as moved and even try and spur them on to no avail.

I am sure you can think of one friend or family member that once a topic comes up there is no stopping them! In fact you dread this particular topic being brought up as you just know where it will end!

One of my passions (I have at least three) is eradicating poverty. Poverty is responsible for so many wrongs in this world. Poverty causes people to take actions they would never ever have envisaged. Poverty means people are unlikely to have access to opportunities which would go on to enhance their lives. Poverty means children go to bed hungry, live in cold/damp conditions, are unlikely to step inside a theatre, own an item of clothing which is brand new, go on holiday whether in-country or abroad – the list is endless.

It saddens me that people, particularly children are living below the poverty line in a world where despite what we are being fed, there is more than enough to go around. For poverty to exist there must be inequality, extreme inequality.

One day I would like to:

1. Arrange a coach trip to take a group of disadvantaged parents and children to Hamleys in Oxford Street. Each child will choose one gift and we would all go onto a top restaurant.

2. Arrange a summer park event for the community comprising of dancers and singers, competitions, speakers and a limitless supply of hot and cold food.

Whether this money will come from my own finances or via a project fund, at this stage I do not know.  What I do not know is if you want to do something badly enough, you will find a way.

What is your passion?
What plans do you have to make a difference?
When we look back in history, change often began with just one person.

How much do your childhood experiences affect your behaviour today?

 

 

 

 

 

Statistics show that by the age of six we have already developed thousands of beliefs that dictate how we interact with others. These go on to form our core beliefs and are the strongest factor that influence our personality.

This therefore means our childhood experiences both good and bad, have a major influence on who we later become, how we perceive ourselves and how we relate to others.

It is possible to change our core beliefs but not without digging deep to discover how they came about. We cannot bring change without first going to back to our past. Many counsellors will advise that bringing up the past will cause emotional pain but it is necessary in order to move forward. From personal experience, counselling can make you feel worse before you begin to feel better.

Two examples of  how my past affected my future:

A female abandoned by her father is likely to grow up with an inability to trust men. As a result she may end up self sabotaging relationships assuming the men will walk away at some point anyway.  Within the first few years of marriage I struggled to accept my husband’s love and kindness.  Whenever we argued I assumed he would grow tired of me and leave.  He could not understand my way of thinking at all.  I was totally independent, particularly in the area of finances and disliked feeling I had to rely on my husband for anything. I learnt from a young age to be self-sufficient and strived to avoid being in a position where I needed anyone.

The eldest child is likely to take the lead and feel an element of responsibility even when it is not expected.  As the firstborn, I have always felt responsible and that it was my job to bring solution to  situations even when I had no power to. I  was sensible as a teenager, I rarely rebelled or had to be rescued.  I cannot recall spending too much on an item of clothing ‘just because’ or staying out and catching the last bus home because I was having too much fun. Looking back I really wished I had loosened up, instead I took myself far too seriously.

It has been somewhat therapeutic understanding the reasons for some of my behaviours. The more we learn about ourselves, the more power we have to make the necessary changes. Digging deep into our past is uncomfortable and it means we can no longer make excuses for ongoing wrong behaviour. Instead we should decide to take steps towards healing and changing our mindset to a healthier one.

Can you see an obvious pattern between your childhood experiences and your current behaviour?
Have you accepted these or are you working towards change?

Parents are only human……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently my son looked at me and said: “mummy you do not cry because you are an adult”.

Children tend to view their parents as only their parents, not as individuals with feelings, wants, needs and desires. I too looked at my mother in the same way as a child.  I honestly believed my mother was indestructible, that she was able to overcome all things. Though she gave birth to me at the age of 20 I looked to her to have my needs met. It did not occur to me that she was overwhelmed at having to be head of the home and make key decisions alone. I thought my mother had the answer to everything. How wrong I was!

My mother was a young mother of two children trying to balance home life, work life, her emotions and needs. Behind my mother’s smile and laughter, her pain, fatigue and loneliness were hidden from us. Perhaps she wept at night because I really do not recall seeing her tears as a young child. Though we had financial struggles we were happy at home.  We ate well, had clothes on our back and had treats here and there.

As I moved into my teenage years, my eyes opened and I saw that my mother was indeed human. She hurt, felt tired, had weaknesses and did not value her worth half as much as she should have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The one of many great attributes my mother has is you know where you stand with her. She is direct which clearly rubbed off on me. Her yes means yes and her no means no. She was not the mother who smacked me then cuddled me a few minutes afterwards. She was not the mother who said no then changed her mind. She was consistent and put boundaries in place which in turn made me feel safe.

When I became an adult my mother revealed a number of things to me;

1. When she smacked us she so wanted to cuddle us afterwards but knew it would bring confusion and blur lines.

2. The hardest part of child rearing was making decisions alone; having no-one to share the challenges with. Knowing she had to live with the decisions she made which may not always have been the best.

3  When I had to walk my younger sister a mile to school from the age of 8, it deeply troubled her but she chose not to show me her anxiety and instead cried in private.

It was then that I saw my mother in a different light and realised she was not handed a book on how to raise children – nobody is.

Accepting our parents are human who make errors just as much as the next person, let us not have such high expectations of them. Let us choose not to hold them account to decisions they made in the past based on the knowledge they had at that time. The majority of the time our parents have our best interests at heart. Perhaps they do not show their love in a conventional way, perhaps they appear harsh, judgemental and controlling at times but when push comes to shove they would give their life for you.

How do/did you view your parents?
How has this impacted on your relationship with them?

Light hearted tips and advice from an organised lady!

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