This has been one of the toughest years of my life. I’m a positive person but I won’t pretend things are ok if they’re not and I’m honest about some of the struggles I’ve faced over the years. Especially if I think it will help others. As I’m about to launch my new website – to inspire more personal growth in others – it feels like the right time to share what I’ve learnt. It’s not easy to open up. But if reading this gives even one person hope, then it’s worth it.
The inspiration for this blog came from this memory flashing up on Facebook from 3 years ago:
This is a photograph of me taken 10 years ago, my thin inspiration photograph and me at a healthy size for my height.
I didn’t achieve this goal 3 years ago but I did wear that exact dress (It’s positively vintage now) this summer, ironically on the anniversary of this horrible year.
It got me thinking just HOW during this stormy period I had managed to achieve a goal that had been previously out of my reach. So here we go my 42- year old self giving my 39 -year old self and all my lovely readers the tools to THRIVE in the face of adversity.
1. Surround yourself with the right people
One of my favourite quotes has always been “find your tribe and love them hard”. Over the last 12-months, never have I been more grateful for the small group of women that hold me up every day. It’s often said that ‘You become the five people you hang out with most’. I’m grateful that I have the most inspiring women that surround me. They are strong, independent, on their own journey of personal growth and most importantly my biggest cheerleaders. They challenge me when I need to be challenged. Hug me when it all becomes too much. And they genuinely celebrate my successes with me. It hasn’t always been this way and no doubt in years to come I will continue to have to make decisions about friendships that do (and don’t), serve me well at various stages of my life. And I’m okay with that.
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2. Ask for Help
In this social media driven world that we live in, it becomes very easy to form an ideal vision of what ‘life’ should be like based on the small snap-shot we see into the lives of people we choose to follow as our inspiration. The pressure to have a beautiful home, well behaved children, successful career, go on lovely days out (all the while looking effortlessly slim and styled by Vogue), is real. It’s fine to want all of those things, if they make you happy. But I’m going to let you into a little secret, they don’t achieve those things on their own. They have a whole army of people that support them including a nanny, a housekeeper, a personal assistant, a stylist, to name but a few. Now I haven’t reached the dizzy heights of being able to afford such a team myself but I have recognised that I’m only one woman and its ok to ask for help. It’s not a failure to ask a girlfriend to watch your kids for a while so that you can take 30 minutes of downtime or work on your new business idea. It’s ok to admit you’re struggling with your mental health and visit the doctor for some extra help. It’s ok paying a cleaner, so that the precious time you have at the weekend is quality time. It means you can spend time with the kids without worrying about the state of the house and how you will fit in the hoovering. It’s a perfectly reasonable solution and not to be agonised over.
3. Make your personal space worth having
When my family set-up took an overnight change I felt utterly overwhelmed and at times very unsafe. My home became the one thing I could control and as Oprah Winfrey would say “my home rose up to meet me”. I wanted my environment to hold small signs of the future I was striving for and for my home to be a reflection of what was in my head and heart. Do not underestimate the difference it makes to your productivity and general mood to be spending your day in a well ordered, clean space. I now have a beautiful rose gold bedroom and a little area just for myself downstairs to read and chill out under a blanket. Utter bliss.
4. Prioritise self-care
I will not lie that this is the area that I have perhaps struggled with the most. I’ve battled with my own internal dialogue about the line between being selfish or being sensible when you take time out for yourself when you perceive that time is not plentiful. The analogies of putting your own oxygen mask on first or not being able to pour from an empty cup, spring to mind here. Small things have made the difference for me. Taking time to prepare myself a nutritious and comforting dinner. Making sure I drink a full glass of water for every coffee I have. Taking breaks during the day and going for a walk with a friend… Rome was not built in a day. I now appreciate that self-care isn’t selfish. It’s essential to ensure that I can be a great mummy and enjoy life rather than ‘get through’ life. And I’m role-modelling these essential skills to my kids every day.
5. Keeping a gratitude journal
When I first started 1:1 Coaching with my current amazing coach, I felt like all areas of my life were “spinning out of control”. So, when she asked me what I wanted, all I knew was that I just wanted to feel happy again. I cannot thank her enough for giving me some very direct instructions as that was exactly what I needed and her suggestion that day has enriched my life in ways I never thought possible. My homework was to take time every single day to write down 5 things that made me smile or made me feel happy. At the start I struggled to come up with anything. But now – 180 days in – I write pages! It’s firmly part of my daily routine. It ranges from small things like the sound of the kids playing in the playground when I drop off them off at school; right up to massive things like winning a new piece of work for my growing business. The important thing here is that when you live your life in a state of gratitude, we grow from a place of positivity. It means that instead of coming from the position that we should feel blessed, we actively seek blessings (rather than inviting the next boulder to hit).
6. Be intentional with social media
When life serves you a lemon it’s very easy to waste hours scrolling Facebook and Instagram convincing yourself that everyone else in the world has a great life. Before you know it, you’ve wasted two hours of that precious time you don’t have and are feeling worse than when you started. Take it from someone that’s been there and got the t-shirt, the only thing that will make you feel better is being ‘present’ in your own life and creating your own unique memories.
This photograph was set up by my daughter at the end of glorious ten- day holiday this summer and there are two really significant points here. We nearly didn’t go on that holiday as a family of four as I didn’t think I was emotionally strong enough to keep everyone safe. This photograph was posted to social media on the evening of the last day we were away, the only post I made in ten days. We had a fantastic holiday and I was present in my own life, not needing any external validation – be that positive or negative.
7. Have a focus, goal and vision
So, back to where this blog began and getting into that vintage dress again after ten years. I decided that my size was where I wanted to focus my energies. And I went all out and concentrated on something that I was in complete control of… what went in my mouth. I imagined how much better I would feel if I could go to my wardrobe every day and pick exactly what I wanted to wear and how my confidence may improve as a result. What I found was that the funny thing is, when you do start to have success in one area of your life, other areas start to improve too. That then inspires you to keep going.
So, there you have it. My life lessons. Yes, it’s been difficult. Yes, I’ve had moments when I wasn’t sure of my path. Yet if the last 365 days have taught me anything, is that we’re all capable of surviving pretty much anything. Even better, thriving. If you’ve enjoyed reading my blog please pop over and say hi on my Facebook group, follow me on LinkedIn or visit my website to see what else I get up to. With everything that’s gone on, I’ve got my sights firmly set on the future.