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The Importance of Satellites

Posted 11/12/2017

Today (11th Dec) is National Mountain Day here in the UK and as part of the celebrations for this, there has been an announcement that scientists have confirmed that the UK has a new “tallest mountain” in its territories.

Now I know that this is not the kind of subject that you expect to see me write about but please, stick with me here because there is a point to this, I promise!

So the new tallest mountain in the UK-owned territories is called Mount Hope.  It turns out that she is a full 55 metres taller than anyone had ever thought she was.  She’s been measured before by people with all sorts of clever equipment that they hauled up to the summit.  But now with the use of satellites, it seems that she had been significantly under-estimated.

This made me think – not so much about mountains – but about us and how we can so often make an assessment of ourselves or others that falls so far short of the reality.

We simply do not have the tools and understanding to adequately measure the value of a person.  We go by how they look, what they say, maybe how they move and even how they smell…in fact, we have a raft of tools available to us, in order to judge a person when required.

And when we assess ourselves, we probably use those same tools.  Are we tall enough, thin enough, pretty enough, handsome enough, clever enough, fragrant enough etc….we ask ourselves these questions all the time, without even realising it.  

We form a judgement and we stick with it. 

In just the same way that the team that measured Mount Hope with their giant tape measure a few years back, were certain that Mount Hope was measured correctly.

But they were wrong.  And so (in all likelihood) are we.

We simply do not have the ability to determine every facet of ourselves or someone else.  We are the metaphorical equivalent of the Mount Hope tape measure!

Mount Hope has spent years being overlooked, even dwarfed by Ben Nevis (previously the tallest mountain in the UK territories).  Everyone believed with certainty that Ben Nevis WAS the tallest mountain in the UK territories.

But everyone was wrong.

The moral I see in this situation is this.  We should never be so certain as to believe that our judgements of ourselves or others are fixed, accurate and beyond dispute.  We must be open to the fact that there is more to find, more to see, more to experience within those we assess.

…..and as a final point – no, I can’t believe that there is a National Mountain Day either.  Whatever next!

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Procrastination – Free Yourself

Posted 28/11/2017

I speak to a lot of people who suffer from the inability to take action.  Known as procrastination, you may recognise it as an overwhelming inability to get something done because every time you think you might do it, your mind tells you not to.

It can be subtle and you might not even realise it, but there is something holding you back from getting a decision made, doing something that needs doing etc.

I have a tendency to procrastinate but I am making an effort to be more decisive and determined – and its making a big difference to my life!  Making lists and working through them means that things get done and I feel far less burdened by “stuff”.

I was talking to a client last week and the perfect analogy occurred to me and since then, I have used it a few times on  different, procrastination-suffering clients (and my husband!) and with a good response.  So I thought I would share it with you….

Imagine if you will, that you are carrying a back pack around on your back.  Its invisible obviously so don’t get too caught up on the colour or brand etc.

In the backpack is a heavy rock for every “thing” that you are procrastinating over.  A large, heavy rock for every bit of “stuff” that you are putting off.

Add up all of those rocks and you are carrying a HUGE amount of weight!  Imagine carrying all of that weight with your every step that you take, for days and weeks at a time.

Now imagine that you take one of those rocks/decisions and you deal with it.  What happens?  Your backpack gets lighter and easier to carry!

Imagine now that you have resolved and deal with every rock in your backpack.  Can you feel the relief at not having to carry all of that weight around with you any more?  Can you imagine how much faster you would walk, how much taller you would stand?

Every “thing” that you put off and delay dealing with is mental clutter.  Its additional mental weight that you have to carry.

Deal with those things that you have been putting off.  Make those phone calls.   Pay those bills.   Cut that lawn.  Do that chore.

Feel yourself get lighter and more free with every heavy, imaginary , procrastinating rock you take out of your imaginary procrastination backpack.

Claim your life back!

 

If you struggle with indecision and you would like some help to become more decisive and in control of your life, why not book a free consultation and see how things can improve for you.

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The Power of Organisation

Posted 15/11/2017

This is the time of the year when things can start to feel a little bit overwhelming.  For example, I have suddenly started to notice an increase in the number of “things I need to get done” and a barely perceptible but impossibly disruptive decrease in the “time I have available to get things done”.

For a start, its dark in the mornings now.  So I sleep later than I should unless I set an alarm (and I really hate to have to do that since I left full-time employment).  That alone can cost me precious quiet moments first thing in the morning where I get to do exciting things like check my emails and package up orders from my handmade business.

My husband works at home too and so we are both as bad as each other – an extra coffee with breakfast, a quick walk of the dog, popping to the shop to buy something nice for dinner…the available distractions are endless and they steal away my time almost by stealth.

Then there is the fact that I am a mother…not the most participative one it must be said – but a mother none the less.  The autumn term is awash with parents evenings, Targets for Learning appointments, dental appointments, asthma checks, work experience meetings…..gah!

I work during the day and in the evenings as many of my clients prefer to meet after work.  So school-related events can be very difficult to accommodate indeed.

Now, this blog post is not designed to be all about me complaining about how bad I am at managing my time – although it is something that I would struggle to deny under questioning! – No, this blog post is meant to make you feel better about how organised you are….really!

And here is how I’m going to do that…..

Lists.

Yep.  Lists.

I have become the master of the List.  I have a pack of record cards, several note books and an app on my phone, and I use them all to great (and somewhat chaotic) effect.

Every day I make a list of what I need to get done, and I actually tick them off as I do them.  Anything that doesn’t get done gets added to the next day’s list, and so on.

Once something is committed to paper, its got to be done.  Fact.

And since I have employed the List Strategy, life has become much more productive again.  In fact, even my husband has now embraced the List Strategy and he has even managed to do a few DIY things around the house as a result – because if it’s on the List…it MUST be done!  And I am not averse to popping a few extra tasks on his lists either (evil laugh).

So if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the pre-Christmas pressure of shopping, social events, school-related stuff, combined with less hours of daylight, the gargantuan effort required to force yourself out from your warm bed into the icy chill of the morning….get yourself a notebook and start making some lists.

Honestly…the thrill of seeing things getting ticked off is indescribable and you will end each day with a feeling of accomplishment.

It won’t create more time for you, but it will make sure that you are more focussed on what needs to be done.

Trust me – I’m an expert!

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Should I Stay or Should I go – Christmas Party Season Approaches

Posted 13/11/2017

For many of us, Christmas is a time of joy and excitement, a warm buzz of anticipation and a sense of family or community fills us and we feel good about life.

For some people though, Christmas looms like a problem to be solved.  And not always the entire thing…just elements of it.  For example, you may love the gift giving and receiving, the atmosphere of love and wellbeing…but loathe the more social side of the season.

The biggest trigger for a crisis of seasonal confidence is of course the “Work Christmas Party”.  The annual get together of everyone at your place of work – perhaps with their partners – it sounds lovely to many people and let’s be honest, it can be a huge amount of fun.  But it can also be an intimidating and uncomfortable experience for anyone with confidence issues.

We tend to ‘place’ people in our lives – there are boxes for family, for friends, for people we dislike, for people we love or have loved…and you can have a box for work colleagues too.  It makes sense…they are a group of people who you spend a HUGE amount of your life with but for the most part but are not people who you would choose to spend any time with if there was no exchange of salary or wages involved.  There is no shame in that.

So with this in mind, it isn’t hard to understand why those who feel less confident than others might find this a difficult event to attend.  Many avoid it altogether, many are dragged along by their peers and some push themselves to go and make the best of it because they feel they should.

By now, I’m pretty sure that the majority of Christmas parties have been organised and there will be much excitement for lots of people as they plan what they will wear, who they will sit with for the meal, who is going to hook up with who etc.  But for those of you who are still sat on the fence about going, maybe have refused to go or are going under sufferance, I want you to know this…..

I have been all three of these people.  I have avoided parties that I could not face, I have waited until the last minute to make up my mind because I was too scared to go but didn’t want to miss out and I have been dragged along to parties that I knew I did not want to be at – all in the name of Christmas.  But as I look back now I can see clearly that the most important element of that annual dliemma should have been for me to do what I felt was right for me.  Not what I felt I should do to fit in, or to be popular.

So if you don’t want to go, don’t go.  If you aren’t sure, and you can leave it and see how you feel nearer the time, go for it.  And do not let anyone drag you against your better judgement.  There.  It’s said.

BUT – if you do want to go but feel you can’t because you aren’t cool enough, or funny enough, or thin enough, or tall enough or just not enough – then I want you to look at yourself through kinder eyes.

If you want to go – go.

Beacuse the honest truth is that you are perfect.  You are wonderful.  You are unique and brilliant and you deserve to enjoy your Christmas every bit as much as those people around you.

Christmas isn’t just for skinny, funny, tall and clever people.  Christmas is about spending time with people that we care about.  Christmas is about enjoying ourselves.  Christmas is for everyone who wants to feel it…and that includes you.

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My Story – A Journey Beyond Chronic Pain

Posted 10/11/2017

Part one of my story was shared in the previous post and if you have arrived on this one without having seen the first, it might be a good idea to take a look otherwise this isn’t going to make a lot of sense!

We left things at the point where I had decided to stop taking my medication with a view to finding out how much of what I was experiencing was down to me and how much was the effects of the medication.

The doctor agreed that this was a good idea as long as I was open to the possibility that I would have to go back on the meds if things got worse.  I wasn’t open to that but decided he didn’t need to know that until we crossed that bridge so to speak.

I started a managed reduction in December 2016 and took my very last pill on 24th February 2017.  I did not experience any increase in pain or other symptoms and after a couple of bumpy and emotional weeks, I was definitely feeling more like my old self.

That was the point at which I decided to look in the mirror and assess what I saw.  It wasn’t pretty….

  • Over 20lbs heavier than what I had always considered was a reasonable weight for me
  • Dressed in shapeless, baggy, dark clothes that hid me but also did not place any pressure on my abdomen (a key requirement for the last few years)
  • Tired, pale skin and bags under my eyes
  • Fear – of going out, of being seen, of leaving my comfort zone
  • A total lack of any life in my eyes.  I was empty, exhausted, a shell.

I spent a few days feeling sorry for myself and then decided that enough was enough.  My husband excavated the cross trainer from below the gathered junk in the garage and set it up for me and I decided to ditch the comfort food and attempt a diet.

It didn’t go well.  Anyone who has tried to lose the weight they gain with medication can confirm that it is nigh on impossible to do…or so it seemed in March 2017.

Slowly though, my energy started to increase, I was walking at a decent speed for the first time in years and my clothes did get looser.  I started to pay a bit more attention to myself, a quick coat of mascara before I left the house, attempting a low heel rather than defaulting to my comfy flats etc.  Nothing monumental but to me, every small effort I made was a step in the right direction.

I was till getting my abdominal pain almost every day, and had to be pragmatic about the fact that getting much done between 6 and 10am was not likely, but I carved out a rhythm and slowly life began to feel more like it was mine to control again.

By July, I had lost all of my medication weight and I was really starting to feel good about myself again.  And it was at this point that I was able to look back and compare what I had become with what I had been at the start of the year.

I don’t necessarily mean visually either.  Okay, I was thinner and looked more awake, but the real differences were within me.  Because I knew I felt so well and so strong in July, the starkness of the contrast against the shadow of myself that I was in January was deeply upsetting.

The best way I can describe it is that I had a sudden and deep appreciation for how low I had sunk through my illness.

And with that appreciation came a clarity.

Having given up my job in summer 2016 due to ill health, I was not earning any money and even by July 2017, I was not well enough to attempt going back out to work due to the random nature of my symptoms.

Over the preceding 6 years, I had undertaken a path of study in my own time – ostensibly to be able to support my staff to the best of my ability – in counselling, stress management, behavioural therapy, anger management and coaching.  I had started an online coaching business back in 2013 which I ran for a while but which I had to set aside when my paid employment went from busy to off the scale stressful.

So here I was – unemployed, unemployable, with a very personal and clear understanding of the journey from hero to zero to hero.  There was only one option for me to pursue, only one path that I felt driven to follow.

I relaunched LifeRedesign in August 2017 with a clear focus on working with women who were experiencing any form of drop in confidence, anxiety, depression and stress.  Add to this a focus on weight loss mindset, and what I hope you see is a one-stop-shop for female empowerment and wellness.

Using all of my skills as a trained coach, along with my experience as a manager and my own personal journey through chronic pain and illness and everything that it cost me, I will support women of all ages to achieve the life they dream of, to feel comfortable in their own skin, to look in the mirror and see a sparkle in their eyes.

I still experience pain on a daily basis – I have it now as I type this – and my levels of fatigue are still a challenge on occasion but I feel more like myself today than I have felt for a very long time.  And it feels so good to be able to say that.

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My Story – A Journey into Chronic Pain

Posted 8/11/2017

Having written a few blog posts about what I do, it seems to me that it is about time I shared a little about myself, about what drives me, what inspires me.

It’s pretty simple really – chronic pain (Yes, I know the title of the article was a major spoiler…sorry).

Up until 2013, my life was pretty text-book ordinary.  I had a great job, that I loved even though I acted like I didn’t.  I had a big house, a sports car, nice clothes in a dress size I was pretty happy with, a cute son and a fulfilling marriage.  The picture that accompanies this post is me back in the days when this was my life.

Three breast lumps that eventually turned out to be nothing to worry about, a burglary whilst we slept upstairs and bit of a breakdown later, I started to experience abdominal pain.

It started as cramps, the doctor muttered menopause with disinterest and referred me for a scan which revealed nothing and I was cast adrift by the medical profession and told to take ibuprofen as required.

As the months went by, the pain got worse, and shifted to my left side.  By the end of 2014, the pain was excruciating, waking me in the early hours and causing total disruption in my life.

I was eventually referred to a specialist who examined my abdomen and felt what she believed was a mass in or around my uterus.  She referred me for a laparoscopy and cystoscopy and told me I had to wait three months for the procedures unless I went private.  Three months felt intolerable and thanks to the good job that I was just about clinging on to, I went private and was seen less than two weeks later.

By this point, I was so desperate that when the surgeon came to see me before the operation, I pleaded with her to remove whatever she needed to in order to make the pain stop.  I signed the permission form and drifted off to sleep in the full expectation that I would wake up without a womb, ovaries, whatever it was that was causing the pain.

I came around a couple of hours later and the surgeon was in the recovery room waiting for me to wake.  I will never forget the desolation or desperation that I felt when she told me that she had found nothing wrong with me at all.  Nothing to explain the pain.  No mass.  No cyst.  Nothing.

I sobbed.  My husband took me home and I sank into a deep depression as the pain continued and I could see no light at the end of the tunnel.

Somehow I made it back to work a few weeks later but the pain was debilitating by now, my sleep was so broken that I was exhausted and my ability to concentrate was severely compromised.

A doctor finally agreed to prescribe me something to help in late 2015.  I was put on an anti-depressant which is no longer used to treat depression but is regarded as helpful for chronic pain.  The doses were slowly increased and the pain reduced fractionally.

The biggest problem though was sleep – I was always asleep.  The drugs made me exhausted, numbed every emotion and hammered the final nail in the coffin of what was the old pre-pain version of me.

I was gone.

By the end of November 2016, I was no longer working having had to quit in the summer due to my inability to walk (my hips had effectively seized up and I was restricted to just a shuffle).  I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, gained over 20lbs in weight and I was lost in a haze of depression and self-pity.  Oh, and I still had the abdominal pain!

After a long talk with my husband, we decided that if I was still getting the pain anyway, maybe the time was right to try life without the pills again.  It was time to find out how much of how I felt was me, and how much was the medication side effects.  It was no longer clear to either of us who I truly was.

I wanted to try and find myself again.  I knew that somewhere, buried deep in the over-weight, exhausted, fuzzy minded version of me that I was living with, it was still possible that I was in there.

More next time…..

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The Pizza of Life

Posted 6/11/2017

We have all heard the phrase “bite sized chunks”….. as in don’t tackle the whole thing at once, break it down into manageable pieces.

Its a very flexible and accommodating phrase.  It can apply to anything from pizza to a relationship, from studying for an exam to redesigning your garden.

But have you ever considered how it could apply to your whole life?  I would guess not.

Sometimes, we look at our loves and we see shortcomings – I should be more fit and healthy, my social like should be better, my life is just too….(fill in the blank).  But these statements are huge and often we put off doing anything about life because of the size of the problem we perceive exists.

So what if we were to apply the Bite Sized Chunks principle to our lives?  Imagine your life as an extra large pizza.  Stuffing the entire pizza in your mouth at once feels akin to fixing everything that feels wrong with your life in one day doesn’t it?

But if you then imagine cutting your life into 10 or 12 manageably proportioned slices, you could tackle each one individually and at a pace that suits you.  That feels much more reasonable to me.

So next time you settle down with a cup of tea and assess your life – and that may be around new year (when, lets be honest, we all carry out some kind of review for reasons that feel utterly bonkers to me), why not have a think about how you can break your life down into chunks, and then work out which chunk you want to work on first?

Oh – and the really good bit is that there is no limit to the chunking you can do!  If you decide that one of your life pizza slices still feels too big, break it down some more.  You are in charge.  It is after all, your own pizza of life.

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The Power of Doing Nothing

Posted 4/11/2017

I have noticed something rather disturbing about myself recently.  I have become a person who cannot just sit and be still.

If I sit down, then I reach for a device – a phone, my iPad – whatever is nearest to me.  then I surf, check social media, play a few games of mahjong…..and there goes an hour of my life I’ll never get back!

I tell myself that as an online coach, I have good reason to be no further than six inches from the internet at any given moment of my life, but in all honesty, is that good for me?  Nope.

And now I notice that my 15 year old son is unable to be anywhere without his earbuds in, music streaming or chatting to his friends on Skype, FaceTime or whatever the latest and greatest app is.

So my question is, when did we lose the ability to just be still and do nothing?  This need to do something, anything seems to have crept up on us and taken over our lives.  It’s sad I think.  Society has lost something in this.

Anyway…the reason for this blog post is to highlight the fact that this constant fascination with being occupied is actually bad for us unless we can bring it under some kind of control.

Having the ability to sit (or lie) and be still, unfocussed, relaxed and quiet is intrinsic to our ability to switch off from the stresses and strains of our daily lives.

The concept of the long soak in the bath after a stressful day was all about that stillness and reflection.  Now it’s more about making sure your iPad doesn’t get wet!

The benefits of being still and reflective for a few minutes each day are huge.  Giving your mind a chance to take a break, rest and rejuvenate itself as well as allowing you to pay attention to your body, how you feel and allowing your heart rate to slow, breathing to even out – it’s all good for you.

These days, there are apps you can buy that will walk you through this relaxation – and that may well be a good place for you to start.  But remember….if you are going to use an app on your phone to practice relaxing, make sure the phone is set to do not disturb and do not be tempted to pick it up before your relaxation time is over!!

Ideally, learning to be still and relax without the aid of technology should be the aim, but at the very least, make an effort to build some kind of stillness into your day.  Your mind and body will thank you for it.

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Frozen in Time – The Problem with Indecision

Posted 3/11/2017

Many of my clients suffer with indecision.  Often it has taken them months to decide that seeking the help of a coach is the right thing to do, let alone choosing to work with me and not one of the many others they have found.

Being unable to make a decision can literally bring a persons life to a standstill.

I am sure many of us can recall a time when we have struggled to make a decision, especially around the bigger aspects of life.  But imagine if you were unable to make even the smallest decision without being overrun with doubt and anxiety.  What would your life look like then?

Indecisiveness can occur at any stage of life – many people cannot recall having ever been decisive at all.  But the likelihood is that the indecision has spiralled from a specific point and grown into a problem over a period of time.

So what prevents us from making decisions?  The most common answer I hear from clients is fear.  Fear of making the wrong decision.

There is a pressure to make the perfect choice every time, but generally without any clear idea of what the perfect decision should look like.

It is crippling and disruptive but also bafflingly inconsistent!

People who seek help for indecision are very often sharp decision makers in specific circumstances – many report an ability to be very decisive in their professional lives, some claim that they can be super-decisive when it comes to their children.  But when taken out of those specific circumstances, their decision-making superpowers vanish and they are left confused and afraid by the smallest of choices.

If you are someone who suffers with indecision and are looking for some ways to improve your ability to make choices and feel confident in doing so, here are some tips for you:

  1. Look at the decision through the eyes of someone that you respect and admire.  How would they make the decision?
  2. Consider what the worst outcome could be if you make the wrong decision.  Is it really so bad?
  3. Consider what a great decision would look like?
  4. Think about what resources are available to help you make the best decision you can.
  5. Lastly, listen to your gut.  What is it telling you to do.

Now I’m not saying that these five points are going to transform you from an indecisive person to a sharp decision-shooting machine but with practice, these five points will help you to rationalise the decisions you face.

If you would like to receive support to improve your ability to make decisions or with any other issues covered in this post or the rest of the site, please consider booking in for 30 minute Skype or phone chat to see whether coaching could work for you.  It is free and there is no obligation to purchase any services, nor will we spam your inbox, call you up or contact you again in any way if you decide its not for you…thats a promise.

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Ten Things to Expect from Life Coaching

Posted 1/11/2017

Following on from an earlier post about why people might want to use a Life Coach, I thought it would be useful to outline what to expect from a coach.  Many people aren’t clear on what a coach does, how it works or what to expect.  Hopefully this ten point list will help to clarify things:

  1.  A coach will help you to set goals.  You might have some goals in mind or perhaps be looking for guidance as to what your goals should be but together, you and your coach will identify a set of goals that will get you where you want to be.
  2. A coach will help you identify what you want out of life, help you find the clarity that you need.  This can be achieved through discussion, questioning and even the use of exercises.
  3. A coach will help build your confidence.  This is a common reason why people seek the services of a coach and so it is an area that most coaches feel comfortable with.  Once again, discussion and thought provoking exercises are the main tools used.
  4. A coach will help to motivate you once you are clear on what it is that you want to achieve.  Talking about why you want something so badly usually leaves big clues as to the motivations behind the goal and a coach will help you to uncover these and focus on them.
  5. A coach will help keep you focussed on the outcome(s) you are seeking through regular meetings, contact in between sessions where appropriate and a clear pathway of of goals and targets to keep you on track.
  6. A coach will help you find the tools and resources you need to reach your goals.  This could be directing you to online resources, recommended books, journalling skills, other therapies that may compliment your journey…it could be anything!
  7. Help you keep things realistic and possible – sometimes we have goals that we hold for years, things that we feel strongly that we will achieve in years to come.  But as they years go by, perhaps those goals feel further away or less achievable.  But a good coach will help you find a way to make those goals feel realistic and possible.
  8. A coach may provide accountability where it is required – for example if you need someone to check in with to keep you focussed.  This works well with weight loss coaching as an example.
  9. A good coach will offer a place to come back to when needed – whether it is in a month, a year, five years.  No coach should extend the length of therapy beyond that which is required for the client, but it is common and entirely acceptable for a client to touch base with their coach at a later date, either to refresh their goals, tweak some elements of their situation or just check in.
  10. Every coach should provide a safe space to talk honestly and without judgement.  Coaches should be registered with a professional body, bound by that body’s code of ethics and able to offer confidential coaching without prejudice or judgement.

Many coaches offer a free consultation or discovery session for people who are interested in receiving coaching but aren’t sure what is involved or looking for the right coach (who you choose is very important).  If you are offered this chance of a free session, always take it.  It gives you a great opportunity to meet and talk with the coach before you commit to any sessions with them, and this will really help you to understand their approach, there personality and whether they feel like the right choice for you.

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