Monthly archives "June 2015"

Dropping balls

Dropping ballsThe first thing I want to say to you is ‘Thank You’ – thank you for the lovely healing vibes and messages on my FB page for the pooch.  I’m pleased and relieved to be able to tell you he’s had his exploratory surgery and is back at home with me, resting and healing and hopefully on his way to a full recovery.  We’re still waiting for tests results, so if you can spare another healing thought for the best outcome possible, that would be awesome.

Looking back on last week, I realise that the change from stress-bucket to milder smaller stress-bucket (I can’t say I’m completely calm, because that’s only going to happen when my fur-baby is back to full health) happened towards the end of a crazy week.

After I told you about the pooch going into surgery, I had to focus on him and only him.  In doing so I had to force myself to drop all the other balls I was juggling.  You might recognise some of them, but even if you don’t you’ll recognise the pattern – you might be juggling with different balls but I’m pretty sure you’re juggling.

My particular balls have been the contract, the dog, the new book, the current book, an online course, housework, eating more healthily, socialising with friends, seeing my family, reading, social media, a garden full of weeds.  And that’s just the jumble of larger balls that come to mind.

But juggling them all became impossible and on Thursday morning, as I dropped the pooch off for his surgery, I also very quickly started dropping balls too.  I didn’t have the time, energy or focus to keep juggling them all.  So all but the most important ones, the ones that I needed to keep juggling to get me through the next few days,  got dropped. And it felt like such a huge relief not to have to worry about them.  (Although it took a conversation with my coach to drop the ‘Guilt’ ball – that one kept bouncing back up trying to claim my attention for a while).

That’s what I want to share with you today – we all spend most of our time frantically juggling a whole load of balls.  When something big happens, it shocks us out of that pattern and we drop a few balls. That’s ok, it’s perfectly natural and necessary for us to be able to cope with the ‘something big’.  But what happens when we’re done coping, and we’re ready to juggle again?  The tendency is to pick up all the balls we had going, and resume our impressive but exhausting juggling act again.

I’m not sure that’s what we should be doing though.

Maybe what we need to do, you and I, is to look at each dropped ball and decide whether it’s really worth adding to our pile again.  For example, that bouncy little (or often not so little) ‘Guilt’ ball – do we really need that one?  Probably not, it’s just sneaked in there and become part of the action.

Once I’m ready to pick up the dropped balls, I think I might take a little time to pick and choose which ones I actually want in my personal juggling act – not all of them will make it back in.  And that’s ok.  What about you?  Which balls will you drop?

Virtual Healing

VirtualI’d like to call in a favour today please, my gorgeous reader.

If you’ve been following my little adventures via the blog you’ll know that my beautiful fur-baby hasn’t been very well recently. It’s been over a month, and rather than improving, he’s been deteriorating. So tomorrow he goes into fur-baby hospital, where they’ll do ultrasounds and x-rays and endoscopies and try to work out what exactly is going on inside his little tummy that’s causing him such big problems.

As the situation has gone on, I’ve become a bit of a stress bucket these last few weeks. The more my pooch has suffered, the more my stress levels have increased.  Completely normal and understandable, I hear you say. Well, yes, I guess it is. But (and it’s a big but – ha!) – it’s not helpful to me or to the pooch.

The more I stress, the more I focus on all sorts of ‘worst case’ scenarios. And of course that just makes me feel worse than I did before. Not only that, the pooch has his own little ‘feelings’ antennae and can pick up on my stress, so I’m not helping him either. Which means neither of us is getting much sleep or rest at the moment.  We’re waking up tired, which is a great recipe for the stress snowball effect to continue.

The worst thing is, I know better. As part of my NLP training, I learned how the brain thinks in pictures and feelings. I learned how the brain doesn’t distinguish between real and imagined, so of course it reacts to my imagined scenarios in the same way as it does the real ones, causing me just as much anguish and as many tears as if it had actually happened. Virtual scenario, but real pain.

I know that the best way for me to cope is to stop wallowing in virtual pain and to start thinking about what it’ll be like to see the pooch eating properly, sleeping well, rolling around in the grass in his usual flamboyant, inelegant, joyful style. It’s virtual healing – the more I replay that picture of the pooch at play, having fun in the sun, the more happy hormones will kick in for me, and the better I’ll feel. The better I feel, the better I’ll be able to cope. The better I’m able to cope, the more use I’ll be to the pooch.

So here’s where I’d like to ask for the favour – can you help me and the pooch please? If you have a minute to spare, can you also imagine my pooch rolling around in the grass, under the warmth of the sun, having a good old time. I’m sure that the more good health vibes we can send his way, the quicker his recovery will be. A different but just as important style of virtual healing 🙂

And I’m going to ask you for one more favour – I want you to help yourself too. If there’s something you’re struggling with right now, big or small, I want you to take five minutes to imagine what the best outcome would be for you. Imagine what you would see, what words you might hear, what smells might be wafting your way, and how all of this would make you feel.

Let’s practice our virtual healing together and make our little corner of the world a stronger, healthier, happier place.

Happy Father’s Day

Untitled designIt’s Father’s Day today – so I’d like to dedicate today’s blog post to my Dad.

I spent some time looking for the perfect poem, or the perfect little meme to demonstrate what my Dad means to me and what he’s taught me, but after much trawling of the internet, nothing seems to be quite right.

So instead, here are a few inelegantly put together anecdotes that stand out in my memory…

  • When I was a teeny tiny toddler, I wasn’t well.  To distract me from my pain my dad played horsey with me into the early hours of the morning.  Even when my mum pointed out that I might be taking advantage of this new development, he just shrugged and carried on until I got tired and eventually fell asleep.  This continued for many a night until the illness was long gone and forgotten.
  • When I was an annoying teenager, he once offered me a lift home from the school summer fair.  I was so incensed that he had dared to come and check up on me, I refused the lift and insisted on walking home.  He didn’t argue – he just followed me along the street slowly, until I came to my senses and got in the car.
  • When I was first learning to cook, my very first attempt at a potato curry was truly terrible.  Far too much turmeric and not enough of anything else.  My Dad declared it to be the most delicious curry he’d ever had and ate it all.
  • When I’d be diagnosed with cancer, he calmly talked me through the MRI procedure (he’d been through it himself six months earlier) and what to expect, to take my mind of the enormity of what I was dealing with – it worked.
  • Ever since I’ve had my gorgeous pooch Simba, he has walked him, popped in every evening to let him out for a wee, and has done more dog-sitting than I could ever have expected, hoped for or imagined.
  • He has turned up at my house at 3am, because there was a huge spider on the stairs and I was too scared to catch it, and too scared to leave it there.
  • He has supported me in whatever I’ve wanted to do, whether he understands why I want to do it or not.

For all of this, as well as the myriad other ways he has been there for me, loved and supported me, and generally been the most amazing Dad ever – THANK YOU.

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful men out there bestowing lifts, loans and love on their daughters. 🙂

A little adventure…

A Little AdventureI apologise in advance for the ridiculously short blog post you’re about to read.  It is for very good reason though.  Actually – it is for two very good reasons.

And the combination of those reasons makes me think of the last part of the quote I used at the start of Chapter 8 of the book

“…behind clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, into each life some rain must fall. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow”

And the reason I think of that quote is that it has been raining a little bit in my patch of the world – my pooch is still poorly and we’re on the treadmill of vet visits, blood tests, medication, monitoring, more tests. I know he’ll pull through – as my brother has mentioned more than once, he’s a tough little mutt.  To be fair, if he can survive digesting a DVD, a pair of brand new leather gloves, almost an entire birthday cake and a walletful of credit cards and cash – not all at the same time, I hasten to add! – then he can survive this, we just need to work out what’s actually wrong and how to treat it.  So – that’s the rain part.  And one of the reasons this post is so short – I need to spend a bit more time with him and a bit less time on the laptop.

The other reason is the sun part of the quote – and it kind of counteracts the one above – I need to spend more time on the laptop.  For good reason.  I’ve started work on a new book.  So now I’ll have to be a bit more careful when I talk about the book so you know whether I mean the current published non-fiction book or the new unpublished but in progress fiction book.

And I’d like to invite you on this little (or not so little) adventure with me.  If you’re interested, I’d like to share some of the highs and lows (let’s hope there aren’t too many lows) with you – and in return, I’d love to hear what you think.

So – my first little share…I’ve been working on character outlines for the past week – I think I’ve got the rough outlines sorted, although I need to type it all up and go over it again next week – but it’s exciting.  These new people are starting to take form in my head and on paper, and I can’t wait for you to meet them!

Which leads me back to the apology – I have to rush off so I can take care of my pooch and my new imaginary friends – but let’s meet here again, on Wednesday, for the next step of the adventure?

Richard Branson – You’re Awesome

Richard BransonI don’t know if you’ve already seen it, but if you haven’t, there’s a great article on a new policy Richard Branson has initiated at Virgin – essentially the company is allowing new fathers a whopping twelve months of paternity leave, on full pay. I know, it sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

To be fair, there are some limitations – length of service being one – and it isn’t a policy available to all Virgin staff, only those at Virgin Management.

But in addition to being fantastic PR for Sir Branson and the Virgin brand, it does also highlight something that is becoming more and more important to employees across the globe. That something is our work-life balance and the willingness of companies to participate in the precarious balancing act that for too long has been all about give from the employee and take from the employer.

In a Forbes article I came across, only 13% of employees globally are engaged. Thirteen percent – that is a shocking snapshot of employee unhappiness. And it’s not all entwined in how much we’re getting paid either.

Which brings us back to Branson and his new policy. It might be a great PR winning headline grabber and as difficult to implement as his ‘Unlimited Leave’ policy, but what he’s got absolutely right is the underlying fact that the happier the employee, the more likely they are to be engaged and committed to the firm.

And I say that from very recent experience in my own current contract.  I’ve had a very poorly pooch to look after recently.  This has meant a lot of unexpected and unplanned time off work.  I’ve been worried about how my manager will see this, and today I had a quick chat with her.  Luckily for me, the company I am working for has some great flexible working policies, as well as managers that absolutely buy into those policies.  Which means I had an extremely reassuring chat with my manager, and now feel much less stressed about having to book time off (which I will have to do again next week).  That relief and gratitude has translated into me wanting to find a way to give back to the manager and company. I am willing and happy to go the extra mile for a company that has shown such understanding in a stressful time for me. And I’m actually only a contractor. I have no long-term vested interest to consider. Imagine the buy-in from permanent staffers…

It’s a win-win situation.  All that’s needed is some enlightened companies to show us the way.

So thank you Richard Branson, for shining a light, in audaciously inimitable fashion, for the rest of us to follow and add to. You’re awesome.


Brotherly love

IMAG0251_1This weekend has been a pretty momentous one.  My brother turned forty yesterday.  Forty.  FORTY!  When did that happen?  How did we get here so quickly?  It feels like only yesterday he was sixteen and excited about college and visiting me at University.

So today’s blog post is dedicated to my brother Ajay, on his fortieth birthday weekend.

It’s a chance for me to say thank you – for all the support and encouragement and hugs and kind words and deeds over the years.  It’s a chance for me to say how much I appreciate the friendship we’ve developed over the years – my siblings (unluckily for them, and very luckily for me) are two people I not only consider my brothers but also my friends.  And it’s a chance for me to say thank you for all of the IT support, all of the ‘can you do this for me?  Yes.  Can you do it now?  Ummm – not sure, I’ll try.  But I really really need your help now.  OK – I’ll drop everything else, and do it right now.’  Thank you for that unlimited reserve of patience and good will and for helping me ‘right now’.  And finally, thank you for helping me co-create the cover of Coping with the Horroffice.

I also realise how very lucky I am, and we are as siblings, to have such a wonderful level of support available to us.  It’s much easier to be fearless and brave and take chances and try new things when you know that if it all goes wrong, there is someone who will help you dust yourself off, pick yourself up and start all over again.  And to know that not only will they do all that for you, they will actively encourage you not to give up or give in, but to try it again.

So thank you Ajay, for all this and so much more.  Happy Fortieth Birthday. And here’s to another forty years of exciting adventures!


Block by block

block by blockToday was a big day at the day job.  I finally completed the project I’ve been working on for the last three months.

It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride.  Initially, the scope and scale of the what I needed to achieve scared me, especially given my starting point of zero background and zero knowledge.

Then I started to get into it, and realised that the way my manager had proposed I move forward wasn’t going to work – it wasn’t going to give us the end result we wanted.  So I came up with another way around the issue.

That was fine, everyone agreed with it, and I was left to implement it.  It involved weeks upon weeks of slightly tedious mapping of one set of data to another.  There was a point where I almost lost track of the end goal, I was so deep into the detail.  We gave it a test run.  There were snags which needed ironing out.  We had to tweak our methodology, and with that came more re-mapping of data.

But we’ve mapped, tested, re-mapped, re-tested, double-checked and….it’s there.  It’s really there.

And the reason I’m sharing this with you?  Well, firstly, I’ve shared some downs so it’s nice to share the highs too.

Secondly, and most importantly, the one tool I’ve used throughout the project, the thing that’s kept me focused and kept me going is this (Tip 2 in Chapter 6) – block it out.

When it felt overwhelming, I took the big picture and blocked it out, so I could see, block by block, what I needed to work on, and how it would fit in to the overall goal.  When i was getting lost in the detail, I went back to those blocks, so I could zoom back out and see where the detail should be leading me, where it fit into the big picture.  And when the task felt overwhelming in length, blocking things out helped give me a timescale and a perspective I could work with.

Blocking things out works just as well in a home environment as it does in an office one.  Re-decorating the bathroom and getting overwhelmed?  Work it out block by block, step by step – you’ve just created your own action plan and to-do list.

And once you have a plan?  Well, then you’re armed, dangerous and ready to rock ‘n’ roll – block by block, of course!