mi365 – WOW!


This week’s blog was an easy topic to pick. Yesterday I had the privilege to witness a truly wonderful event up in London. A VIP as well (rather chuffed at that one). After three weeks of lurking and writing an occasional comment to the heartfelt postings and videos of its members, I found myself, courtesy of my mentor, Mr Tim Dingle, at the first ever summit of Pete Cohen’s amazing online community mi365.  It is a hub of positivity and a gathering of like-minded people who support, praise and care for each other, whilst everyone improves their everyday lives. As Pete says. “Everyone needs a coach.”

To witness an online community finally meet each other was surreal. I felt like I had gatecrashed someone’s wedding! It was brilliant to see and hear faces matched to names on a screen and squeals and hugs of delight… from all around the room. I was made to feel very welcome, especially by a lovely lady I’d spotted locally, who I travelled up with and a lovely lass from Cleethorpes who was entertaining and genuine in her company throughout the day.

If you have never seen Pete Cohen speak, please do. His enthusiasm and passion for people is infectious. Pete clearly loves his group, remembers all about them and has an immense affiliation for each and every one of them.  The speakers were diverse in their backgrounds, but all exceptional in their content. Many thanks to the efforts of Tim Dingle, Gemma Magnusson, Richard McCann and Chris Pickard for enlightening, energising and inspiring me.

The world of online has its negative press, but to create a safe place for individuals to be themselves, ask for help, receive that guidance and empathy is quite simply, special.

There are times when are nearest and dearest are not the people we can speak to. That one degree of separation can be the space to breathe that enables people to say what they really need to in order to function.  It may just be a place to gain friends for life.

This is not an advertising blog for Pete. Believe me, he does not need it. This is me saying to anyone who resonates with what I have said, that there are people who will listen and bolster; people who just want you to be the best self you can be. Go find them and flourish!

“The danger for most of us if not that we aim too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Michaelangelo

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

Oxytocin me Happy!


There are times in life when something you see resonates with you, a new word is learnt and then you come across that word all the time… a word that had gone unnoticed in your mind’s eye because it wasn’t relevant to you at the time. For me, that word is oxytocin.

Never one to absorb sciencisms, I stumbled across this label during a course I was studying. Another name to forget over time I initially thought, but the more I read, the more I became interested in this natural hormone.  Far from being the poorer relation to feisty cortisol, oxytocin has the wonderful non de plume of  the ‘cuddle / love hormone’ what is there not to like?

Scientists have discovered that this neuropeptide can have a profound impact on our abilities to show trust, devotion and kindness. It also allows us to react better in social situations.  Now I can think of a fair few people who could do with that! Think of the benefit a spray of oxytocin in the nostril would bring to those in power; those who make decisions that make or break our lives!

Oxytocin combats the cortisol stress hormone and lowers blood pressure. This gem sounds too good to be true. And it is natural. It is in all of us.  One member of the ‘happy hormone’ group including, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, it is something we can look to boost ourselves through our daily activities. I, for one, am giving it a try!
Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

Think of the Pupils


With all the uproar in the news about the return to the ways of the grammar school, my thoughts turned to the how education is perceived.  Having spent the majority of my teaching years in the private sector I am well aware that the school and its cohorts were considered for ‘posh’ people. Nothing was further from the truth. There are a few ‘top’ schools around, but the majority of private schools were full of everyday children from a variety of backgrounds. Parents who had planned ahead from their child’s birth to save for their education, grandparents who wanted to help out and of course, those who had their own business and were able to make some sacrifices in order to afford ,what they considered, an ‘investment in their child’s future.’

Whether you agree or not, society has this tiered system of education.  One thing that my school did not do was to be selective. This school is still open to all. This made the breadth of children through its doors an interesting combination.  The bright, the content, the wealthy, the aspirational and the strugglers. Ever more we witnessed an influx of those who were not ‘welcome academically’ at some of the higher-brow institutions.  Pupils who had already been told they were not good enough at junior school age! It was these children who flourished in our care. Flourished when someone took the time to nurture and understand what made them tick and where they shone in the curriculum. It didn’t take a genius; it just took effort. With parental buy-in, that effort could dramatically change their mind-set and self-belief. The rest can follow…. Surely this is what education needs to have at its core?

So once again we are ready to divide and label children from the get go. This is not just about education and standards. The whole issue of how and what we teach and what is required in the modern era needs to be addressed, not giving children (who already learn their hierarchy status in early KS1) a complex about where they fall on the intelligence league ladder!

There is no quick fix here.

“Tell me and I forget,

Teach me and I may remember.

Involve me and I learn.”   Benjamin Franklin

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

School – Halcyon Days?


I stumbled across a Facebook post about my old secondary school. Photographs of the empty shell as it was being dismantled. Corridors desolate, rooms empty yet all awash with numerous memories. Genuine goosebumps ensued as I was transported back to a tumultuous time in my personal life that shaped who I became. Ghosts of events, people, lessons and feelings flooded back. I know I am guilty of remembering the good and forgetting the bad and often dire times school brings, but in general that place was my womb; it served as my safe place when all around me caved in and collapsed.  

Having gone into the teaching profession myself, I know what it is like to have the potential to impact on young lives. I vowed to make a difference, to listen and support. Looking back, you remember the teachers who took the time to care, to treat us with respect. Mr Willsher, Mr Mantin, Mr Hyde, Mr Finn, Mrs Reynolds et al…you all made an impact on me.  I was amused and touched to learn I was mentioned by an ex-pupil in his head boy’s leaving speech back in July. I don’t think it was for bad reasons (phew!).  Happiness was always what I strived for in my classroom. Regardless of age, problems are problems, however petty or major. These worries do have correlation in the classroom, in their attitudes, in their positivity and outcome.  A lot has been written about teaching happiness in schools as part of the curriculum. I do feel that our education system is outdated in its approach to how it treats pupils. It is the herd mentality, rather than looking at what suits the individual.  Differentiation is not just for the page, it is for the whole being. With the emphasis clearly on tables and results these days, schools need to think about why children are not meeting their full potential? What is going on in their world that is having a monumental earthquake which makes school work so much more of a challenge? It is time to change our approach. The world is evolving, but not for the better. Schools can take the initiative. Listen, learn and lead. Lead to a better place. The crusade continues….

Changing your mindset can change your life!
Dream Big, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY