Letter to my past self

Dear me from 10 years ago,

This is your Future Self speaking. You are about 3 months away from making a very big decision. One that will significantly alter your life.

How should I describe you? Baffled? Searching? Hopeful yet exasperated? Your children are 2 and 4 years old. The participants in your workshops are enthusiastic. You are desperate to have your children’s book ‘The Teasers’ published. You have secured a great agent but no publishers are biting. You wish you had more time to write. You wish your husband was less stressed and around more – physically and emotionally. You’re proud that you’ve been a non-smoker now for 4 years. You are keenly aware (did your past self tell you, I wonder?) that you should enjoy every last minute with your children at this precious stage of their lives – and so you do (mostly). You cannot believe your luck that the Universe shut one door (having your own children) and opened this massive, bejewelled  door to a hitherto unseen magical kingdom (adopting Julia and Sasha). You sense there’s more – much more –  to come but you don’t know what it is.

Dear past me from 10 years ago. I felt you today. As if you came into my skin and looked around our life now. You cried. I cried. We both cried. How wonderful this place we’ve come to is! You hardly dare believe it. I can hear you in my head saying:

“You mean you’re living in this beautiful place in the Cotswolds with all it’s hills, valleys and gorgeous villages? You mean the children are thriving at a school they adore with friends and teachers who equally adore them? You mean that you’re all bouncing with excitement at the prospect of spending a whole month together in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia in December? You mean you’ve taken a break from the writing and you’re utterly OK about that – in fact you’re thrilled with your current path? You mean you’ve developed your own program and it’s going from strength to strength? You mean Guy is calling the shots more at work and is master of his time again? Is it true that 6 years ago you dreamed of owning a Lexus hybrid SUV and next weekend you’re going to buy it! Do those kind of things happen? And I can’t believe how grounded, content and excited-by-life you feel! Is that possible?”

Dear past me from 10 years ago. Yes it’s possible.

You are about to make a momentus decision – to move from a great life in Canada back to England. And why? Only because “it feels right”. You have no other defense when your concerned Canadian friends ask you for an explanation.

Did you perhaps feel me calling you?

 

 

The difference between Gratitude and Appreciation

I’ve just got back from a fabulous time at the Quest Festival in Devon. I had the absolute pleasure of running 4 workshops on Happiness, The Artist’s Way and ‘Future Self Now‘. Everyone who came to my sessions was really up for all the games and exercises that I love to throw at people. We had a fun time together!

Thinking about these past few days and how perfectly everything worked out, I’ve been feeling very moved today. I’m remembering, however, to make sure that I’m in a state of appreciation and not gratitude.

What’s the difference?

Well it’s this:

Gratitude is often a state of being pleased that something has worked out despite possible negative outcomes. E.g. “I’m grateful that my workshops worked out” (because they could have been a disaster!) or “I’m grateful that I had a smooth journey down to Devon” (because I could have got stuck in the normal jam around the M5). Gratitude, in other words, looks backwards and more often than not promotes the overcoming of something. It is has a sense of relief about it: –  “Phew I’m glad that that didn’t happen!”

Appreciation, on the other hand, is more a state of savouring a current reality. It is more firmly rooted in celebration and delight for the thing itself. Its about highlighting the positive and dwelling on the deliciousness of it.

So, what we’re talking about here is a difference in the emotional quality of the two words – not the words themselves.

Remember: What you pay attention to grows. So even though this talk of the difference between two words may seem like splitting hairs, it really does matter because Gratitude can trigger a focus on overcoming a negative in the past, whilst Appreciation lives very firmly in the savouring of the NOW.

So, new friends from Quest and old blog-buddies, I very definitely do not feel gratitude towards you (“thanks for liking me!”) – I APPRECIATE you in all your glory for who you are now and into the future!

15 powerful things happy people do differently

Here’s a great post from Purpose Fairy (www.purposefairy.com)- well worth a read:

 

What are the differences between happy people and unhappy people? Of course, it should be very obvious:happy people are happy while  unhappy people are unhappy, right? Well, that is correct.But, we want to know what happy people do differently, so I have put together a list of things that happy people do differently than unhappy people.

1. Love vs. Fear

Well, I can tell you for sure that those people who are really happy, fear less and love a lot more. They see each moment, each challenge, each person as an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.

2. Acceptance vs. Resistance 

Happy people understand that you can’t really change a situation by resisting it, but you can definitely change it by accepting that it is there and by understanding that there might be a reason for its existence.

When something unpleasant happens to them, they don’t try to fight it (they know that this will make the situation even worse), but they ask themselves questions like: What can I learn from this? How can I make this better? And then they focus on the positive, rather than on the negative. They always seem to see the glass half full, no matter what happens to them.

3. Forgiveness vs. Unforgiveness

Really happy people know that it’s not healthy to hold on to anger. They choose to forgive and forget, understanding that forgiveness is  a gift they give to themselves first and foremost.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~Buddha

4. Trust vs. Doubt

They trust themselves and they trust the people around them. Whether they are talking to the cleaning lady or the C.E.O. of a billion-dollar company, somehow they always seem make the person they are interacting with feel that there is something unique and special about them. They understand that beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies.

Because of that, they make sure to treat everyone with love, dignity and respect, and make no distinction between age, sex, social status, color, religion or race. These are the great men that Mark Twain was talking about: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

5. Meaning vs. Ambition

They do the things they do because of the meaning it brings into their lives and because it gives their lives a sense of purpose.  They understand that “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life” as Wayne Dyer says.

And they care more about living a life full of meaningthan what, in our modern society we would call, living a successful life. The irony here is that most of the time they get both success and meaning because they choose to focus on doing the things they love the most and they always pursue their heart‘s desires. They are not motivated by money; they want to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the world.

6. Praising vs. Criticizing

Happy people would probably agree with Carl’s Jung theory on resistance: “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”  They don’t criticize the absence of the behavior they want to reinforce, ratherthey know by praising the person and the behavior they wish to reinforce (even if it’s not often), they will actually encourage the positive behavior.

When a parent wants to make sure their 7 year old boy will learn to always put the toys back in the box after he’s done playing with them, they make sure not to focus on the many times the child didn’t do it, criticizing him and his behavior, but every time the little boy does put the toys back, the parent praises him and his behavior and that is exactly how they reinforce the positive behavior, and in the end get the wanted results.

7. Challenges vs. Problems

Happy people will see problems as challenges, as opportunities to explore new ways of doing things, expressing their gratitude for them, understanding that underneath them all lay many opportunities that will allow them to expand and to grow.

8. Selflessness vs, Selfishness

They do what they do not for themselves, but for the good of others, making sure that they bring meaning, empowerment and happiness to the lives of many. They look for ways to give and to share the best of themselves with the world and to make other people happy.

Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted. ~Buddha

9. Abundance vs. Lack/ Poverty 

They have an abundant mindset, living a balanced life, achieving abundance in all areas of life.

10. Dreaming Big vs. Being Realistic 

These people don’t really care about being realistic. They love and dare to dream big, they always listen to their heart and intuition and the greatness of their accomplishments scares many of us.

Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men. ~Goethe

11. Kindness vs. Cruelty

They are kind to themselves and others and they understand the power of self-love, self-forgiveness and self-acceptance.

12. Gratitude vs. Ingratitude

No matter where they look, no matter where they are or who they are with, they have the capacity to see beauty where most of us would only see ugliness, opportunities where most of us would only see struggles, abundance where most of us would only see lack and they express their gratitude for all of it.

13. Presence/ Engagement vs. Disengagement 

They know how to live in the present moment, appreciating what they have and where they are, while still dreaming big dreams about the future.

When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it. The mind in itself is a wonderful tool. Dysfunction sets in when you seek yourself in it and mistake it for who you are. ~Eckhart Tolle

14. Positivity vs. Negativity

No matter what happens to them, they always keep a positive perspective on everything and by doing so, they tend irritate a lot of negative and “realistic” people.

15. Taking Responsibility vs. Blaming 

They take full ownership over their lives and they rarely use excuses. Happy people understand that the moment you choose to blame some outside force for whatever is happening to you, you are in fact giving all your power away. They choose to keep their power and take responsibility for everything that happens to them.

How many of these things are you doing in order to become a happier person? Share your insights by commenting below or by leaving your feedback on the PurposeFairy Facebook Page.

 

With all my love,

 

What horses can teach us

I went on a fabulous course called ‘The Way of the Horse’ yesterday at the Red Horse Foundation, near Stroud. We learnt about the intimate relationship Man has had with horse since the Scythians in about 700BC first started domesticating them. We have since abused this relationship of course, not least through the slaughter of millions of horses during wartime. Even though we don’t abuse horses on that scale any more we still have a long way to go before we truly appreciate what the horse can give us if we work in true partnership with them.

Places like Red Horse Foundation who honour the power of the horse and work with them to heal badly damaged people are starting to open our eyes to the incredible spirit of the horse. Their work is based on the EGALA model which you can learn more about in the video below.

Suffice to say, this blogger, who since she was thrown off a horse at the age of 12 and has never trusted one since, now has a completely new respect for this wondrous animal.

 

 

We are one – scientific proof!

I’m doing some research around my program Future Self Now at the moment in order to contextualise it and attempt to  explain why the experience is so powerful. I’ll keep you posted as I go along but I wanted to share this fascinating research into ‘Mirror Neurons’ – neurons in the brain that help us empathise, copy and learn. The extraordinary thing about them is that brain scans show that even when we are NOT actually performing an action – like watching as opposed to playing a sport – we can actually experience it (and light up the same parts of the brain) as if we were doing that action.

Mirror Neurons are what make visualisation so powerful. This was illustrated in a test conducted by Dr. Blaslotto at the University of Chicago. He split basketball players into three groups and tested each group on how many free throws they could make.

After this, he had the first group practice free throws every day for an hour.

The second group just visualized themselves making free throws.

The third group did nothing.

After 30 days, he tested them again.

The first group improved by 24%.

The second group improved by 23% without touching a basketball!

The third group did not improve which was expected.

Now, to really blow your mind, watch this video about the power of mirror neurons. It seems science is starting to catch up to the ancient philosophies that teach that we are all one.

So this is where much of the power of Future Self Now lies – when doing the visualisation of our Future Selves we are creating a bridge between who we are being now and who we really are – ourselves at our most powerful. Mirror neurons are helping us ‘be’ our Future Selves, now.

I’m starting a new 5 week Future Self Now course at Hawkwood College in Stroud next week. There are a couple of spaces left if you are interested. To find out more visit www.futureselfnow.com

Blessings!

 

 

 

Starfish wisdom

For many years now I’ve adopted the starfish as my personal emblem. My friends know this, and over the years Ive been gifted with some spectacular starfish things like this silver necklace from my great friend, Kelly in Canada:

starfish necklace

and recently Rachel, a very good friend and wonderful potter in Bristol made me this:

starfish mug

It all started about 13 years ago when I heard this story:

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,
“Well, I made a difference to that one!”
The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.
-Adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley-

 

As a life coach, the significance of making a difference one ‘starfish’ at a time was not lost on me. But latterly the starfish has come to mean more. As you know I’m passionate about what it takes to live an ecstatic, fully expressed life. Look at this image:

011

Same pose as a starfish. OK, well, nearly! (That was my intention anyway).

There is also the analogy of roots and wings – i.e. that it’s the job of us parents – to give our children stability and freedom. For me this pose represents both roots and wings: strong legs akimbo (grounded) arms aloft, ecstatic and welcoming of spirit, joy, abundance.

Finally there is the sister image of a tree which reaches up to the skies but is, at the same time, grounded deeply in its roots.

 

Last November I gave a talk at Hawkwood College that I’m hoping to repeat at this year’s Quest Festival in Devon called ‘Loving What Is whilst Reaching For More‘. I realised today that, here again, is the image of my upright starfish – grounded in the now whilst reaching for the skies.

In some ways it sounds like a paradox but look at nature and it’s everywhere. We are meant to savour our Now whilst relishing the delicious anticipation of life’s rich experiences yet to come.

 

 

Meeting ourselves, meeting our self-expression

I’m rather proud of this photo I took yesterday down by the canal in Frampton-on-Severn.

It reminds me of what Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way) says about paying attention to the details in our life:

People frequently believe the creative life is grounded in fantasy. The more difficult truth is that creativity is grounded in reality, in the particular, the focused, the well observed or specifically imagined…. it is there, in the particular, that we contact the creative self. [Creativity] lies in the moment of encounter; we meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression.