Shhh! I am thinking…

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To be human is to be a cauldron of emotions.  We are not robots; we cannot be programmed not to deviate.  Emotions are what makes us, us.  What a wealth of emotions we exhibit even in just 24 hours.  Our head is full to the brim of thoughts and feelings.  But which do we listen to the most?  Guaranteed certainty that it will be the negative ones that scream through the plethora of gratitude and happiness.  

Our virtual reality mind, monkey mind, our duck… all these phrases have been attributed to the nagging disquiet that is anchored in a human mind. It is the devil, not the angel that chatters constantly in one’s head.  The chuntering that will insist that you are not good enough, that you cannot be excited, that you do not deserve to be happy.  Finding ways to quieten that mind is the key to success.  Our word is not a positive one; we love to moan, to be miserable about anything and everything – we are Brits! In the modern world of consumerism and materialism, we begrudge others who have more. But is more really happiness? Studies have shown that there is indeed a spike in happiness when you ‘treat’ yourself to something new. It is also true that happiness levels return to their norm fairly quickly afterwards.  There is no quick-fix to contentment.  But you can work on that inner voice and learn to ignore it.

What happens when you make that choice?  

YOU STOP SETTING YOURSELF UP TO FAIL

Self-sabotage costs us hugely. It holds us back from being our authentic selves and realising our potential. If you are not willing to settle for this then there are things you can do to improve life.

Be in the present and acknowledge what you hear. LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN! Try meditation, learn breathing techniques, recognise your triggers and don’t make excuses. In the age of the internet, there are so many tools available for self-help, but if that feels like a mountain to climb, seek help from those who can guide you.

“When everything feels like an uphill struggle, just think of the view from the top.”

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

Bouncebackability!

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Bouncebackability – the capacity to recover quickly from a setback. Credited to Iain Dowie.

A word that has now entered the common language. How impressive to be able to invent a new word! It actually encapsulates how I see the many people I surround myself with on a daily basis. I made a choice, my choice was to seek the company of likeminded people. With the collective consciousness anything is possible.

The internet can be a detrimental tool in so many ways. It is an addiction on par with drugs, alcohol and sugar. It has taken over lives and is difficult to curtail. I am guilty of checking in on my phone when I have a spare moment, whereas once upon a time, I would look around and appreciate the sights, sounds and smells of the world around me.  Then again the internet can also be a force for good – a force for change.  If you look in the right places it provides support and a boost for those who are suffering. It can be a nurturing hand, a hug at that crucial time, a friend.

In today’s society, there are so many people in turmoil. Life has hit them hard and they are unsure what to do to regain a sense of equilibrium.  There are times when those closest to us are not the answer.  What is? Well, google has domineered the search engine market for years. We need to find our own google. Hunt out where we need support and how best to be ‘open’ to receiving it. Our internal google will often lead us to a place of sanctuary online.  There are forums for everything.  Voices of wisdom, clarity and understanding there on tap for you. Feeling alone does not need to occur in 2016.  

In order to find your bouncebackability, you need to find the nucleus of what it is that has slapped you down. It isn’t necessarily the event  or the act itself done to you, it will be the impact on you and your vulnerability. Once you take ownership of this, you can face it. You can bounceback!  

Life is rarely a smooth ship. If is was, what would we learn? How could we nourish and enrich ourselves and become a better version if nothing knocked us sideways? Just take a moment to think about what is really going on, then seek support.  Humans are not conditioned to be lone survivors. We are a clan. Find your clan. Find your bouncebackabiity.

“You cannot live a positive life with a negative mind”

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

Take Back Control

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This week the word ‘control’ has been in my consciousness.  When we think of our own life events, control is something many of us end up relinquishing.  We allow others to exert their power and influence over our choices, limiting who we are and how we act.  Control in the wider sense must stem from how we perceive our ability to have control over ourselves – self-control. To have the inner strength to be in your own power and believe that your choices are yours alone is owning your own power.  Part of having that inner strength is to be able to work on yourself. The concept of ‘self-love’ is no longer seen as the jurisdiction of the few or the realms of the American therapy society.  

I began my journey towards knowing who I really was about twelve years ago. It was a grim beginning with plenty to shy away from.  It was easier to ‘save’ others, help them work through their issues on their pathway to development, than it was to look into my own demons.  That took courage and a realisation that there was no quick fix. It was scary. People were signposted in my life for varying reasons; a pitstop on my roadtrip.  Each brought something to enrich my life, for which i remain eternally grateful.   

‘I am a control freak’ and I do it really well!  That choice was made due to events from my past. I built my own safe sanctuary where only I could decide about me.  I had shut up shop emotionally, although it took me years to realise that in reality. I was fine; everything was fine.  

My own onion layers slowly peeled away after I went to see a homeopath.  I found a safe space to talk, to be questioned, to listen and work out what had impacted on my health and psychological well-being.  There was no plaster to stick over the vast cavern that had appeared in my attitude towards being the real me. Who was the real Karen?

Fast forward to 2016 and I am at peace and proud of who I am, how I behave and interact with others.  I relish in my natural inclination to empathise and guide others, all from authenticity and place of love.  I will never be complacent, each day teaches me more about myself. My wisdom grows along with the ability to see the bigger picture; my why.

I read and hear people’s stories everyday.  People who are ‘stuck’ and not able to see beyond their barriers. The thing is – you can still have control, but need to identify your true self first. Control is all about finding an equilibrium and about being able to turn the control switch on and off when required.

There is nothing embarrassing or wrong about being stuck. It is human nature; our thoughts are our control panel.  Sometimes you need to do the classic re-program – turn it off and on again!

If you can’t do it alone – look for your signposts and find that person who will focus you.

 

“If you don’t learn to control your thoughts, you will never learn how to control your behaviour.”Joyce Meyer

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

To Sleep or not to Sleep!

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My favourite dwarf has always been Sleepy. Jealous of his ability to snooze at will regardless of location can sometimes sound wonderful. I love my sleep. It shapes who I am each day and more importantly, how I function.  I am aware that my natural sleep rhythm has altered over the years.  Everytime I visit the kitchen I am reminded of the way I used to be way back when. Pinned to the freezer is a magnetic picture. It simply says, “I don’t do mornings!”  This was given to be by a parent at school, who later became a friend. I had the pleasure of teaching both her wonderful boys and she, like many others witnessed my disdain for the start of the morning!

I never awake refreshed and envy those who bounce like Tigger out of bed and attack the day. Instead I have to snooze my way to getting up and ease my way into the day then BOOM! a switch flicks.  The quality of my sleep impacts my mood and my thought processes.  

Habits form which are difficult to break. After spending three months of my life sleeping on an air bed with a baby monitor constantly buzzing and alert near my head whilst caring for my terminally ill dad back in 2014, I find now that I need to fall asleep to a podcast, even when very tired, I will put one on and often have to listen again as I have crashed quickly.  If I wake early, the radio will go on until I have finished napping and emerge like the ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ to start the day.   I avoid silence at night.  Interesting.  I love silence, spend far too much time in my head, yet at night I crave noise.  I adore the ticking of clocks…. Maybe noise is my ‘comfort food’ to sleeping?  

At this time of year, we are faced with our greatest test, waking up and getting up in darkness; an unnatural rhythm of our evolution.  Sometimes I wish I was back in the cave, experiencing the pull of the moon and sun on my every hour. Then I think of the killing and cooking!  The older I get, the more I wish to return to natural things. In order to make my sleep a positive, daily healing escape and replenish, I needed to go with what I felt, not what was expected. Your norm may not be your friend’s norm.  If it works for you – embrace it.

If you are one of the statistics that have sleep issues, then work on the why, then find your way through it.  Are pills the answer?  Do they mask rather than deal with the maintaining cause? If your thoughts are churning in your head all night maybe it is time to tackle this.  Being British means either a ‘stiff upper lip’ or popping the medication. In general, as a nation, we are guilty of not talking.  There is nothing weak about seeking out a professional to listen, appraise and assist. The investment may save your system from untold chemical compounds.  Think of what you could achieve with that extra boost of brain energy!

“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” Thomas Dekker

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

Do you know your Ikigai?

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It is the fear of the unknown that can be a brutal, antagonising prod in the mind.  I have found over recent years that due to my holistic view on life, I can cope with most things presented. I try and see what I can learn from all that occurs and live by the ethic that I will give whatever I can for others, as long as it is not to the detriment of my own health and well-being. Dealing with events personally and for others is straightforward. It is dealing with not knowing that is my hoodoo. I am guilty of living in my head. When you spend a lot of time alone, chewing over thoughts over and over again, having conversations with yourself is the norm. If I need a reality check, I call those who I trust and rely upon to listen and pronounce a verdict, whether it is good to hear or not. Grounding!  

When someone you care about is given a cancer diagnosis, it is ingrained in society that the end is nigh. We all know people, of varying ages, who have succumbed to their personal battle with cancer. There seems no rhyme or reason for who has been afflicted. Having lost my father to leukaemia in 2014, I found myself overwhelmed with thoughts, mostly negative. No one talked. No one offered explanation. No one could tell me ‘why’? Dad’s illness strain was a rare, random event. He was not unfit, he was active, there seemed to be no precursor to blood cancer. It just happened.  

For me, knowledge is power. So, I took it upon myself to learn. I learnt what was going on in his body. I questioned treatment, I fought and battled mistakes that were made. I made damned sure that dad had and did everything he wanted to do whilst he was able to do it. Each day was taken in the moment. There were not any weeks that were the same.  My way of coping was to live it. Living it for three months meant that when the end came, I was able to accept and be grateful for what had been and the time we had spent together 24/7.  Once dad was released and his ashes scattered, there was a void in my head. A vast emptiness where once a treadmill of ‘things to do’ whirred; there was nothing. I didn’t like that nothingness, although I needed it in order to recover mentally.  

My point? It is that I understand how I work. I know what I do and why. I can achieve so much and am superb in a crisis! I can empathise with ease without being patronising. I can support emotionally, practically and mentally. My WHY is to inspire resilience, happiness and change in people’s lives. I am a healer, I heal people through teaching, training and just by being.  It is my ikigai (thanks Tim Dingle).  It is not easy, but it is rewarding.

I am grateful for those people who have come into my life at THAT time, synchronicity. From key friendships, to teachers, to mentors…..all have added to my jigsaw. Whether it will ever complete, I doubt it, as I am a firm believer in lifelong learning.  

If you feel like your way is confused, that you cannot see where to go next, that your mind is full but not productive; I can help you navigate towards your mountain. I will help you climb it and see the view from the top.

Re-energise, Re-view and Re-boot.

“Quiet people have the loudest minds.” Stephen Hawking

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

 

mi365 – WOW!

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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!

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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

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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?

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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

Pain and Pills

 

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Pain… one of the words I really do not like. Whether it is used to note a physical or emotional existence, pain does not emanate joy.  Yet pain is actually our friend. Pain is your body’s way of talking to you, sharing its dis-ease in whatever form is needed for us to stop and listen.

It is a very human trait not to listen straightaway when things are less intense. We often perform the classic procrastination technique until the body says “STOP, NO…I MEAN IT…STOP!” By then something deeper has occurred, albeit injury or wounding to the heart.

I have kindly been given pain this long weekend. Pain that said…”did warn you, been nagging at you for months, now look!” There was no way of ignoring this pain. It hit me and made me tearful. So I stopped. I finally listened as I couldn’t walk or drive….no choice.

I chose not to fill my body with a constant stream of painkillers, I prefer to feel the pain, understand what it is about, then treat accordingly with alternative ways. That is my choice. I listened to a medical professional this morning suggesting I take paracetamol and ibuprofen all the time for five days.. But then to be careful as prolonged use of ibuprofen will cause tummy difficulties. Hm…no thanks! She looked taken aback as I told her I would not be consuming painkillers like sweets and that I would take the edge off if needed to sleep,but that was that. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the fact we have the NHS and am indebted to the people who put their heart and soul into it.  What I don’t like is the fact that it has begun to close its mind to other therapies running alongside it. Life is run by the large pharma companies. Not everything has to be solely about drugs. I appreciate my viewpoint is far from the norm and it is just that, my view. I just don’t believe that swallowing a drug is always the answer. My pain is mine, it is natural, it is telling me to stop. It isn’t telling me to eat a small pharmacy. Sometimes there is another way.  Other ways are not witchcraft and sorcery!

“Your pain is an opportunity to learn about yourself.” Gary Zukav

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY