Size isn’t everything!

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So bigger isn’t always best, good things come from small packages. No, I haven’t gone into euphemism overload on this warm Sunday evening. This relates to the medal table so far at the Rio Olympics. I am an Olympophile and I am not afraid to say it! Born in 1972, I have vague recollections of the enigmatic Nadia Comaneci in ‘76, watching Coe and Ovett in ‘80, but it was the Los Angeles games of 1984 that caught the attention of the young me. Scrapbook made, adoration of Daley Thompson, Kathy Cook and Peter Elliott. I was hooked. Plucky Great Britain fighting amongst the big guns. Little old us, we may get something. It was the athletics that grabbed my attention; the glory events.  Over time, elation in rowing with Sir Steve, swimming and gymnastic success, cycling domination have matched and often surpassed our achievements in track and field.

Fast forward to London 2012 and something was in the air; it was a truly amazing games, creating a plethora of memories for the participants and the audience.  Of course a huge amount of money was thrown at sport in order for us to succeed in London; it paid off. With the papers talking about cuts to sports post 2012 there was rightly an expectation that things would tail off…and to some extent they did. There is however, something magical about the Olympics. It inspires, it ignites and excites. It is the pinnacle of a career. We have been spoilt with the multiple titles from so many athletes. And now, the new age has come of age.

To see my little ole country now second in the medal table (at the time of writing) is immense. The pool of talent that we can take from in no way matches the powerhouses of USA, Russia, China et al, yet we have something – something you cannot bottle and hopefully something not taken from one either.  Each and every athlete have dedicated their lives to their cause. It is humbling to listen to their stories. It is simply fantastic.  

Proud to be a Brit!
Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

Scorchio!

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At last! Finally! It happened – we had a hot day in our summer… woop!

It depended on how your day panned out as to how much you enjoyed the day. I spent the day trying to keep small people cool, watered and entertained; not as easy as you think when they are out in the sun all morning for a school event. A previously delayed by rain event.

The joy of the sun took its toll on us all in the afternoon. The children were happy to be quietly busy inside, tired after the morning’s exertion under the beautiful clear blue sky. I could have done with a siesta!

I know that if I had rung my mother this evening I would have been given the standard response to a hot day; she hates them, her legs swell, her joints ache, it is all too much! But hey, life would be boring if we were all the same. What provides the source of happiness for some is the antithesis of smiles for others.

That ball of plasma in the sky is an ever-changing mass of awe. It is the ultimate life-giver. We bask in the rays, we yearn for the longer evenings of summer, we race to be outside lapping up the vitamin d. It is almost like the sun powers our happiness switch – unless you happen to be my mother of course! What cares we have are forgotten for that walk barefoot on lush green, freshly-mown grass, or toes dipped into water, all under the comforting glare of the sun.

There was less provenance given to creaming up when I was young. Sunburn was a common occurrence. I am glad that we now understand the beauty and the beast that is the sun. We have evolved through its millennia and it will continue to lay claim to moments of happiness long after we are just dust in its wake. The next time you decide that the sun is too hot, or that it has given you a headache, stop and think. Think how mind-blowingly fantastic it is that this ball of extreme nature is the our life force. Stop and appreciate and be thankful for what it brings, and in homage to the late Caroline Aherne, think, “ooo scorchio!” and smile.

“When the sun is shining I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble too difficult to overcome.” Wilma Rudolph
Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

 

 

What did you say?

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‘Words don’t come easy to me’, wrote F. R David in his classic song now synonymous to me with Bob Mills Goes Postal on Colin Murray’s Friday show on Talksport. Events over the past week got me thinking about the importance of words; words said and those left unsaid. With the deafening silence of so many who filled our screens with rhetoric for weeks and the realisation that there were those who deliberately kept their counsel, I have been drawn to the power of speech and who can or cannot say the words that help.  Politicians have an agenda. The agenda is set from those around them, as are most of what they deliver in speeches. It is calculated to create an energy, a buzz and often targeted to a particular audience. Understandable.

Working with children allows me to listen to real honesty in their words. They just say whatever they feel, they have not been conditioned to filter what will wound. Over the first few school years, that filter is put in place.  Their true selves will never again speak totally from the heart unabashed. In some ways that saddens me. What would life be like if we could literally speak how we felt even as adults? Instead, we look for clues as to the delivery in body language, eye contact and subtleties that give away the truth.

There are those who have a gift. Who can say exactly the right thing at the right time. These are people who speak from a place of love.  In times of turmoil, we turn to those people. When all around us is in chaos, we need someone to say exactly what we may or may not need to hear, to help declutter all the mish-mash of thoughts whirring around in our heads. These people are our go-to people.  You know who they are. They do not give platitudes. They are realistic, without wounding. They pull you back down to earth with the chosen language when you are way out in the ether struggling to hold on for dear life.  

To be this person, you have had to experience life in all its forms. But more than that, you need to have the wonderful skill of empathy. At the age I am now, my world is constantly shifting; births, illnesses, deaths, shocks. If I can reach out to someone with a few chosen words, I will. They will be taken or ignored, but I have tried. I appreciated so much those few people who made the difference to me through my living hell two years ago. We all need to give back. But some of us maybe should retune the filter first!.

‘Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.’ Maya Angelou
Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

Here Comes The Sun…

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How to spot a Brit in a crowd of people? Either inappropriately dressed for the weather or…talking about said weather. If there was an Olympic medal in weather chat, we would be reigning champions since time immemorial.
At last, we have seen a return to the higher temperatures of June, as opposed to the freezing, rain-choked days of last week – of course, it was half term! There is something magical that occurs when the sun adorns the ground with its rays of warmth; hope sets in, stress levels drop and the supermarket shelves are devoid of anything related to salad, bbq food and alcohol deals!
Migrations of people flock to the coastal towns, including my own. The population almost doubles. But, everyone is in good spirits – the sunshine really does stimulate endorphins. The sun has given me the kickstart to sort out the many hours of weeding and planting that was required in my back garden. Now with aching neck and knees, I can admire a job well done. Whilst sitting on the bench earlier, I closed my eyes and tried to engage with all of my senses. The chirping of the birds, the fluttering of the pear tree leaves, the gentle breeze on my face were welcome distractions from the usual frenetic pace of life. Walking barefoot on the soft, cool grass is a lovely feeling and helps me connect back to Mother Nature. The shrill laughter of children playing outside alongside the whir of the lawn-mower are all wonderful sounds to behold on a sunny summer Sunday.
Transfixed to the weather forecast, the next question is, will it last? It is as if our happiness depends on it. Rain equates misery, sunshine gives us something to bask in, a feel-good factor where we can tackle our daily rituals and make sense of our problems with more of a positive attitude. Being British means an inherent acceptance of cold, wet and damp. A wrapped-up approach to facing the world. Our smallest chance of a glimpse of summer sees us shed our clothing (not always a good thing!) and shed our inhibitions (same applies!).
Happiness for many, is as fleeting as the weather. Happiness for me is my core, enriched by the fleeting moments where the seasons stimulate my being and I appreciate my surroundings twofold.
“Sometimes you have to create your own sunshine.” You can do it!

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

Unity in the Beautiful Game

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Human nature, particularly the southern-residing Brit’s nature, is to avoid talking to strangers, to avoid eye contact with anyone who looks like they may possibly want to engage you in conversation, to pretend to be in a highbrow discussion on one’s mobile…all to be allowed to get on with life unhindered.

Yesterday was different. Yesterday I spoke with many people whom I had never met and would be unlikely to do so again. It was a day of unity, a day of family, the Brighton and Hove Albion football family.   I immersed myself amongst the 6000 people who watched the most momentous monetary match ( love a bit of alliteration!) in our history at the gorgeous AMEX stadium.  People talked, had the classic ‘banter’ and togetherness that only something special can bring. I saw no nastiness, I witnessed no harsh words towards the fellow fan. It was the collective consciousness at play – the wartime spirit, the united front.

Post-match, deflated and in need of food, I stopped off at a local supermarket, only to come across other adults in BHA tops. We rolled our eyes and shared a few words. Even a small child in his top saw mine and did a sad face, thumbs down.  I accosted a lady unloading her shopping into her car, a total stranger. We stood discussing the match and our respective history of Albion support five to ten minutes. Unity.  Today when I eventually venture out into the later afternoon sun, to walk along the beachfront, once the daytrippers have returned home, I will again speak to no one. Back to normal in a very unnormal time.  The private southerner in her private world. And as for the team and the fans…As a former manager always said, “Keep the faith!”  

 

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY …. Win the PLAY OFFS!! SEAGULLS!

The Sound of Silence

 

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In our modern world, in our modern daily lives, who experiences silence? It is very easy to avoid that space in our world that promotes quiet, a stopping time where we are left alone to our thoughts and the inner workings of our minds. For some that is something to avoid, a place best left hidden as it is too difficult to face and embrace.  We can be silent, but the world around us has always something to offer, something to tune into, albeit manmade noise or the natural world. My favourite place to be to gain some semblance of peace is by the sea or the river. Watching the ebb and flow of the tide is my relaxing space, but it is far from silence. The noises of nature have a profound impact on my emotional and physical well-being.  I enjoy being still at home. A contemplative stare at a naked candle flame or a glance out of the window at the garden all give peace, but are we ever truly silent?

I am guilty of living too much in my head. A criticism I give myself, thinking too deeply about things, a constant mull of my virtual reality mind. Some people talk to their pets, I jabber to myself!

In a  Lifehack article, Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think,  by Rebecca Beris, it states that consistent noise can elevate our stress levels. Children can suffer from reading, attention and memory deficit due to noise pollution. For those kids who plug themselves into tech, music and television, where is the escape into silence? With experience in the developmental changes occurring in pupils over the past 20 years, I can see the huge impact our thirst for outside stimuli has had on minds and attitudes.

I fully advocate the need to introduce some quiet meditation within schools to teach a different way of being, to incorporate stillness into a very transient and busy world. We all need stillness, we all need silence. With no access to a truly silent world, learning how to switch off and cut off the outside world is a must. We have become so far removed from the world of our ancestors that I can only hope we find a pathway back to the simple, the free and just be.

Silence is not the absence of something, but the presence of everything. John Grossman
Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

International Happiness Day

 

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Awaking on International Happiness Day, I opened the curtains to find the usual greyness of Spring greeting me like a blanket of misery. The sunshine definitely at bay, that immediate unconscious lift it brings not occurring, how can I begin my happiness day? Well, I am alive, fairly healthy, with a brain, a roof over my head, food in the cupboard, clothes to wear…not a bad start I’d say.

The thing is, we tend to try to make grand gestures on ‘special days’ and that is where we go wrong. Today is a new day, but no more or less important than the last.  Our happiness should not be dictated from the external world, the core of who we are comes from within. It has taken me many of my nearly 44 years to really appreciate that concept. I used to envy those who would wake refreshed and cheery in the mornings, ignoring their happy salutations as I huffed and grunted my way through the first part of my morning. Now, I am better! My internal happiness gage has shifted hugely with age and experience. Life is great. If only I could have control and sculpt a better external world, my happiness cup would overflow!

So when you are asked how you are…take a breath and think before replying with the negative moans, try and tell people the positives, it really does have an impact. Appreciate what you have and live for today. See the good in your world.  Pass a smile; spread the happiness.  

“It takes no more time to see the good side of life than to see the bad.” ― Jimmy Buffett

 

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

Happiness Science – don’t mind if I do!

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http://www.curiousapes.com/the-science-of-happiness-why-complaining-is-literally-killing-you

by Steven Parton

Having been sent the above article by a friend, I found myself reading, digesting and re-reading something that made me think harder than I have had to do for a while!

Happiness is often seen as a fluffy construct, a bandwagon for those who like to chant and talk to the plants. It is a reaction given by people who do not understand, who are not happy themselves.  In our modern generation  there are those who embrace and ‘get’ the more esoteric and ethereal side of well-being and those who firmly believe that you should just, ‘get on with it’ as our spiritual side is not fact, it has no bearing on the real world. It is to this breed that I say, read the article. Look at the science. Ahh, science…. yes, if things can be explained by real ‘stuff’ then they are most definitely true.

So, we are wired to accept the highly convoluted words and jargon of the science world, even when we really have no clue as to what has been said. But when someone puts it in layman’s terms with added visual element, even I can cope with the concept! And what a concept it is.

 

To think that we can grow the synapses in our brain to move closer with every thought is exciting. To also think that we have the power to create the synapses that are the closest together, with what and how we think, creating our default personality is amazing. We can literally re-shape our processes. It is however, only us who have the capacity to re-formulate for the better – no one else will do that for you.  Since training as a homeopath many years ago  (not an area that science and I agree on!) and following my spiritual path to listen, help and heal, I have become accustomed to being thankful for what I have in my life. I look and learn from the positives and negatives that occur, for no one has the perfect life. Whilst my inner core happiness is strong, my external world is challenging, often very challenging. Dwelling on the events that I have no control over or that wound has no health benefit in my brain and body.

“Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be.” Sonia Ricotti

Spending time with like-minded people to rewire your brain to think in happiness and positivity is something I have tried to do more of as I have become older. It is easier to ignore the ‘mood-hoovers’ and move away from the drainage merchants. Age has its benefits!

We all have choices, we can change our mindsets – metaphorically and physically.

It is a no-brainer, or rather a re-brainer!
Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

Social Media – Happy Talk?

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With the increase in popularity of social media for those of a certain age, having an online presence is paramount. Whether it is new business, established bastions of the high street or just plain old Gordon Bennett ( one for the oldies!), being active on Facebook, Twitter et al is a given. But does this access to the world and its wife mean that we are seeking some kind of instant gratification? Is our inherent need to be liked further compounded by whether someone has liked / shared  / retweeted what we post? Is it bad for our health – ultimately, is it bad for our happiness?

I would like to think I retain a measured approach to the big business of social media. I do what I should for work and peruse at leisure for pleasure – mainly anything related to football and my beloved Brighton and Hove Albion. Even I, however, cannot resist an air punch if someone of note responds or retweets something of mine. It is like an acceptance. I am suddenly part of this gang, the online family that grants closer access to the rich, famous and infamous.

I have also seen the damage that can be done via posting online. The keyboard warrior who gains joy inflicting pain upon others through the vitriol of their words can create havoc and damage in a second. Their comments wounding a stranger without thought for the person involved. Of course there are those that court this kind of interaction and thrive on the ‘banter’ that ensues.  I have witnessed those who perhaps seek something else from their online existence, a cry for help, for friendship, an escape from their external world. When life is not in balance, when your core is not happy, social media can be both supportive, but also a dangerous attempt at self-medication.

As with all relatively anonymous offerings, posting can be cathartic to those in need, but also can compound the unhappiness in their lives. Why does everyone else seem to be having such a great life, yet theirs is so bleak?  Why does Joe Bloggs have over a thousand friends, yet they have just a hundred?  It is a facade and one that does not help those who crave a need to be wanted.  Sometimes, the only thing to do is to revert back to the good old days. Be friends with people in the real world and don’t worry about things beyond your control.  

Happiness cannot be found in others, it is within you!

 

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

 

An Introduction to Happiness – a talk SATURDAY 19 MARCH

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Want to find your happiness?

You are invited to begin the journey…

Happiness is not a pipedream, it is a reality, one that we leave behind as children. Being an adult does not mean we have to neglect our core being. If you feel that there are changes you could make, but need a nudge in the right direction then this is for you.

Come along to a talk that will allow you to think about what you need to tweak in your life to make you happy. Listen to the science, discuss with others and begin to understand what is your ‘jack in box’.

If you can’t make this date, look out for details of the next talk in May.

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY