Grief, loss and Mother’s Day

I’ve had a tough week. It’s spilled over into this week, with my feeling “under the weather”, and not “on top form”. It’s been quite a while since I felt like this. I’d put it down to the hours I’ve been putting into my business recently.

However, after a conversation with Dale Darley about journaling on Friday, I realised that actually, I was holding things in, and that’s what was aiding my ‘tiredness’. Then on Sunday, when I was with my family for a wonderful weekend away, I was grumpy and broke down in tears, to be comforted by my 16 year old son, who I told, “I miss my Mummy” by way of explanation.

Grief and loss

I attended a train the trainer session on Wednesday, (see how my week has had a flow to it?), to allow me to train others to support people suffering grief and loss. I had no idea that I would be hit so hard by this. I support other people as a business, and volunteer, friend and mentor. I should be strong and be able to let go of all my grief and loss shouldn’t I?

“I must be strong, so that I can help others”, is what my head says. And then another little voice says, “well that’s OK, but who’s supporting and helping you?” That’s when I turned inwards. Not to ignore the voice, but to reflect on it.

You see, I guess I’m still grieving for my Mum who died, age 65, in May 2009. She was an amazing woman, loved by so many, who really could wear the SuperWoman motif. Everyone said so. She touched the lives of so many. She was very special. Not just to me and my brother.

I’ve grieved over the years. I’ve let her go. I have wonderful memories, of happy times and so much love shared.

It was interesting that I shared about my Mother in Law not realising her son’s needed support as they’d lost their father too. What I didn’t say out loud at the time, was that I’ve never felt my Dad realised I’d lost my Mum.

I’ve lost my father too

Not because he’s died, but because he’s changed. He’s not the person I grew up with, and I miss the father I knew for 38 years. I don’t need you to know the details, just that I’ve not allowed myself to grieve this loss in the same way as I have my mother.

Over the past 9 years, I know I’ve tried to put a ‘brave face’ on things, and when with family and family friends who loved my Mum and Dad, who are also grieving their loss of two people, and not just one. It’s been hard. To start with I tried to explain his behaviour away with “I’m sure it’s just a phase”, but after almost 9 years, I know I have to let him go too.

That’s so hard 🙁 To let someone go who is still alive, who you love, and always enjoyed their company. We had so many happy times.

I know many people lose people in life to illness. I feel your pain. I think it would have been easier to accept if he’d had a diagnosed illness, rather than a personality change!

Losing close friends

who supports you when you need it most - grief, loss and mothers dayDuring the training last week, and then again in a workshop I hosted on Monday, led by the lovely Simona Frumen, for my Business Club members, I realised that I was also suffering loss of people I’d had a very close relationship with over the past few years. Whilst I’ve just “got on” with life, during the workshop I shared that the hardest part I’d found, was that they hadn’t wanted to have a conversation about the ending of our business relationship.

Friends, I know, sometimes come and go. We ebb and flow with some people, whilst others are constant in our lives, and the bonds are so strong you know you have a shoulder to cry on, or arms to hug you, whenever you need them.

But this relationship I lost last autumn had been very special to me. It was intense in it’s starting and growing. And it was a surprise quick ending for me. I guess the grief has finally caught up with me on this one.

Whilst I’ll never understand this ending, I can put it in perspective in my life through my own journaling, and letting myself.

There’s all sorts of areas of loss in our lives. The training last week had me thinking about a lot of different things – confidence, home, momentoes, jewellery, esteem, identity, friends. Have you lost anything that you haven’t grieved yet?

This last week has shown me I must take time to reflect, and be honest with myself. I’m very good at helping others to reflect and learn to help them move forward. It’s time I took my own advice!

And then came Mother’s Day

It was hard. Probably the hardest one after the first one 8 years ago.

I guess as my awareness had been raised over the previous week in the training and conversations, that I was more open and raw than usual. There’d been International Women’s Day, celebrating amazing women. I allowed my wonderful Mum to creep back into my head. I allowed myself to say, “I miss my Mum”.

It’s not unusual, and I know many women who’d love to have their Mum’s back in their lives.

For me though, this last week I’ve allowed myself to reflect on the last few months I’ve had. My husband has had labyrinthitis, and needed caring for for 6 weeks. The boys and I have worked together, and got through pretty well, in the main. It made me realise that we don’t have the support I’d like. My Mum, (and Dad), used to come and stay for a few days at a time and just “be there” and “do stuff”. It was wonderful. It was annoying sometimes as well, I’ll admit that. But having someone to make tea – even just think about it & buy the ingredients, or do the washing was a relief. Since Mum died I’ve had no-one else who’s helped us in this way. I miss it.

Am I a big softie who doesn’t want to take on my own family’s responsibilities? I don’t think so, but then I’m happy for you to disagree with me. I think we all need support – the right support for us. Throughout our lives this will vary.

During this reflection it’s shown me that I don’t have the support I need around me at the moment. We have some wonderful friends and family, and they all did what they could whilst hubby was laid up in bed. However, I now know that I need more. I need more time to look after myself. More time to write, and reflect, and exercise and eat well, and have girly chats, and walk.

In my Business Club this month, the focus is on reviewing personal resources. I’ve been asking business owners to check if they have the right support for themselves and their business. Little did I know when I wrote that, that I need to review my own support too!

What support do you have around you?

I know I’m not alone in hiding, or pretending that loss or grief isn’t there, or doesn’t affect me. I know I’m not ready to lead any training sessions to help others with grief or loss, but I am able to listen to others who need to get things off their chest.

When I train a listening course, which is done as a pair of trainers, we listen to each other as part of a live role play to show attendees how listening helps to clear your head. We, as trainers, always benefit from this short listening session. So, I simply need to add in “be listened to” regularly in my diary with a friend, and/or trained listener.

It’s been great in the Business Club this week, where members are supporting each other, and becoming accountability buddies. Hopefully those relationships will allow for “life” stuff to happen, and they’ll support each other in the way each of them needs it.

Thank you for listening. I feel better having shared with you. It is a good thing to share – with ourselves, and with others. Don’t hold it in. Don’t hide from it. Whatever you need to do to reflect, and remember, it’s worth it. You will feel better in the long run.

I promise.

If this has raised issues for you, please do what you need to get the right support to help you. I have two good listening ears, Dale is wonderful at helping you journal & Simona helps to mediate solutions. Ask for help from your friends, or network, and if the right support isn’t there, keep searching.

Is positive thinking all it’s cracked up to be?

Is positive thinking all it’s cracked up to be?

Hi, I’m Honey Lansdowne, a Hypnotherapist and friend of Tracey-Jane and very pleased to be here as a guest blogger. This blog will ask is positive thinking all it’s cracked up to be?

Has someone ever said these things to you?

If you have ever told someone you feel depressed, you may have experienced  them telling you to ‘just’ need to think positively. And you will know the little difference that made!

People also tell people suffering from anxiety that they are ‘just’ being silly and nothing bad is going to happen and if you have ever felt angry you may have been told to ‘just’ calm down.

As much as I love positive thinking it’s taken a lot of work for me to become good at it and I am very mindful when I see clients that everyone’s starting point is different.

Noticing your feelings is important

Let’s think first though about the importance of noticing feelings. We need to notice feelings like we need to notice pain. Pain is a signal that something is up. It gives you the chance to address any issues and heal them. The same goes for emotions. It’s good to really feel your emotions and understand them.

Once you have noticed an emotion you then have a decision to make. Do you want to continue to experience this emotion or change it? The emotion will create a state for you. A state is how you feel at any given time and can change in seconds. Imagine feeling a bit down and then hearing one of you favourite songs and you start to sing along. That’s a state change.

Stick or twist

stick or twist

So once you are aware of your state, you can CHOOSE whether to stay in that state or to change it. By jumping straight to positive thinking you might miss an important step. The opportunity to assess a situation and learn from it. This is your chance to evaluate your behaviour or input in a situation that put you in a certain state. Rather than a chance to beat yourself up. Really be objective and learn.

When you view the situation objectively, you will also see more options available to you. Understanding yourself really is the key to self-development. You might not like everything you learn but all of it can help you. You might choose to think more positive thoughts, but that will be a conscious choice by you.

Facing your feelings, good and bad is very helpful. People often avoid situations that create feelings that make them uncomfortable or they are fearful of. Some examples being:

  • Speaking in public
  • Putting themselves forward
  • Losing weight
  • Social occasions
  • Approaching new relationships
  • Interviews
  • Exciting opportunities
  • Travel experiences

But avoiding situations often builds the fear in your mind. Your mind is very powerful and imaginative and will often imagine that the thing is much worse than it would have been if you had actually done it!

Download your free thought diary and measure where you are at

To assess if you are  a negative, neutral or positive thinker I would suggest keeping a thought diary and recognise the feelings that are being generated. I’ve made a thought diary which you can download free here. In a week you will have a record of the feelings you have experienced. You will be able to clearly see if you are more of a negative or positive thinker. Feelings might vary and include feeling:

  • Humiliated
  • Disappointed
  • Frustrated
  • Loved
  • Cheerful
  • Panicky
  • Happy
  • Hurt
  • Angry
  • Scared
  • Disgusted
  • Proud
  • Nervous
  • Insecure
  • Sad
  • Depressed
  • Anxious
  • Embarrassed
  • Excited
  • Guilty
  • Frightened
  • Ashamed
  • Lonely
  • Empty
  • Lost
  • Worried

And many more. It is said that we can experience up to 34,000 emotions!

Get your positive thinking cap on

think positiveSo being upbeat and positive is a lovely state to be in. But it doesn’t need to be forced and it can be very tiring for you if you try and make the jump from negative thinking to positive thinking. My advice would be, just like most things, small consistent actions to make a long lasting difference. Once you’ve used the thought diary to capture your thoughts, you will have a good idea of where you are starting from. Then you can use the ideas below to start your positive thinking journey.

I’ve broken down some ideas for different levels of where you might be starting from. Some ideas on how to do this are:

Your thoughts are mainly negative:

  • Make a gratitude list. A list of things you are grateful for. They can be small or large. Anything goes because it is your list! You can find out more on how to write one here
  • Say your thoughts out loud. There is something about speaking what you feel that makes it feel different.
  • Think about what you would say to someone you cared about that had these thoughts and say them to yourself.
  • Remind yourself that you have a choice about whether to experience a negative or a positive thought at any given time.

Your thoughts are mainly neutral:

  • Fake it until you make it. Put a smile on your face and find things that make you laugh. Experience the sensation of happiness. There is evidence that when you smile you feel happier.
  • Examine how much you think you are playing to your strengths in your life. Make a list of things you are good at. Are you doing any of these on a daily basis? When you do things you are good at you will feel more positive and rewarded.
  • Find a photo of yourself when you felt really happy. Think back to what you were doing that made you feel that way and try and replicate it.
  • Try exercising to generate some natural endorphins in your body.

Your thoughts are mainly positive:

  • Keep up the good work!
  • Share your positivity. Many positive people ‘give back’ to the world by supporting and encouraging others which in turn generates even more positivity for them!

Thank you for having me Tracey-Jane and thank you for reading this everyone, I hope you found it useful.

Sending you positive vibes.


Honey LansdowneI’m Honey Lansdowne, a Hypnotherapist based in West Sussex, UK. My intention as a therapist is to make you feel better from the very first session. I use Hypnotherapy, NLP, Reiki and tapping in a blended form of therapy so you get the best possible outcome. I can help you with depression, anxiety, stop smoking, weight loss, going sugar free and stress. So don’t let these things get in the way of you living the life you deserve!

I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram or over on my blog.


Listen to yourself, you’re right

I’ve learnt to listen to myself much more closely these last couple of years, thanks to being an Acorn tutor, where I teach others to listen. The amazing thing is, when I listen to myself, I’m always right!

We’re often afraid to listen to ourselves, because we don’t believe in our ourself. Oh, there’s so many reasons we don’t listen. “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t know enough”, “They’re an expert, so they know what’s best”. What’s your main reason for not listening to yourself? I think mine has been, not believing in my own ability, and knowing what’s right for me.

I’ve wanted other people to tell me what to do, so I can ‘blame’ them if it doesn’t work out. Rather than take that responsibility on myself, I’ve chosen, in the past, to listen to other people’s advice, rather than my own. Guess what? Things didn’t work out, and I blamed myself and those others who’d advised me.

Listen to yourself, you’re right

are you bling to your own needs or do you listen to yourselfListening is powerful, and it really brought it home to me this weekend when I was running a course with a massively experienced listener and trainer. Part of the delivery is that as trainers we show a ‘formal listening’ session, using a live issue for one of us. I was the listener on this day. My colleague had given me an inkling about the topic – it’s one she’s talked about before, and I thought it was going to be a continuation of the story.

As she began to talk and explore her own thoughts out loud, it became obvious that what she thought was troubling her, and the area she’d been focusing her energy thinking about, (and not sleeping), wasn’t the actual deep issue. The deep issue, which my listening helped her explore, was something very basic, and also something she helps others with all the time in her work and volunteering. It was, “look after myself first”.

It struck me that this lady with all her knowledge and experience was still blinded to her own answers as she hadn’t spent time listening to herself. She was caught up in her busy life, and despite offering listening to others, hadn’t taken the time to listen to herself. It made listening come to life again for me, and how important it is to all of us. Do you listen to yourself and others?

We’re often blinded by others people’s knowledge, or enthusiasm, or we love their take on life and the bigger picture. However, no-one knows you like you do, and no-one can know what you’re really feeling or thinking right now. Only you know. Only you can know and do what’s right for you in your situation. It may well be hard, but deep down you know it’s right. For you.

I know my passion for helping others to listen better, and inspiring confidence to listen to yourself, will help many people live happier lives. Whether you want to be a better parent, or grow your business, or become healthier, it all comes back to listening to yourself. You’re right, and no-one can tell you otherwise.

If you’d like to learn more about listening, and the plans I’ve got for helping young people to listen to themselves, get in touch.

If you’d like to book a listening session with me, I’m opening my diary up from next week to listen to you, so that you can listen to yourself, as you’re right, and I want you to believe it.

[If you’re in Lancashire, then I recommend using the One2one Listening service run by volunteers]

Stop trying to fix things – let go

Stop trying to fix it. Let goI’m speaking words of wisdom today – “Stop trying to fix things – let go”. It doesn’t mean I always practice what I preach though, and I know this is hard for some of us, so I thought I’d reassure you that it does work, when you “let go”.

There’s been lots of times in my life when as soon as I’ve made the decision to “let go”, everything has fallen into place, I’ve felt physically and mentally better. Many of these times have been about issues that weren’t even of my making – things I couldn’t actually affect, but in my head, if I didn’t “fix” them, I couldn’t do x, y and z. Ahh, I can see you’re nodding. You’ve been there too?

Some of us pray, and/or meditate, and/or journal (write things down to get them out of your head), and/or talk the ear off a friend, to allow things out. I’m an advocate of Listening , and know that by sharing what’s in your head with someone else, will help you find your own solution to what’s holding you back.

Even when we’ve let something out, though, I’ve often found that I want to “make things better” and “fix” things. For example, when something goes a bit haywire, and not as expected, I want to tidyup loose ends, and make sure everyone’s OK. Are you like that too?

Just like the situations where other people or situations are affecting me, and I can’t do anything about it, I also know, (deep down), that I can’t make things better for others. All I can do is love and care for them, and open my ears when they want to talk. I can’t fix things for other people, as much as I want to – they have to do it for themselves, with or without my help.

I’ve had a situation this month which has really got me down, simply because I wanted to make things right for someone else. The fact that they don’t want to accept my help, or my listening ears has been hard for me to accept. I’ve tried different tactics to make things right, but nothing has worked. It was only when a friend helped me realise this, that I was able to finally “let go”. In my own way I’ve sent them love and will always be here for them if they want my help. It’s time to move on, and I’ve finally realised that this is a life lesson I need to practice ALL the time.

I know, I’m a fixer, and want life to be wonderful for everyone. That’s because I know it can be wonderful! But we, as an individual, have to believe that, and make our own decisions. I’m a true believer of “what you put out, you get back”, and I’ve been holding myself together for too long trying to fix something that isn’t mine to fix. I’ve been spending time and energy on something that I can’t actually affect!

Hmm, so you see my dilemma? I’m a carer, a fixer, and want everyone to be happy. My friend told me, “you’re a confident, empathic, talented, skillful, wise, funny, supportive, amazing, loving, caring, dynamic, wealthy feminine force in the world”. Wow. That’s been lovely to hear. But I still wanted to fix somebody else. With all these skills and talents, it’s still not enough.

I can only be me. And you can only be you. If you can learn anything from me today, it’s you can only fix things for you. Let go of things which aren’t quite right, and certainly the things you’re trying to fix in and for other people.

I’m ready to move forward with new exciting challenges and opportunities & share my love and passions with others. Are you?

If you’d like help with letting go of something, (or someone), let’s spend some time together so I can support you to stop fixing things, and let go.

Listening, being creative and writing for your business

Thoughts from my week – I hope they inspire you to be creative, listen to yourself, and write. We all have talents and skills hidden away. I believe today is the day to start finding them and using them 🙂

Happy Friday & it’s a beautiful autumnal sunny day here for me right now. I hope it stays that way for the weekend ahead – eldest has his final athletics competition of the year in Lincolnshire, and it’s always a nicer weekend without the rain!

It’s been a strange start to September for me, with some clients moving away from needing support, (which is always fantastic to see), new ones asking for help, and some projects going live. It’s exciting and scary all at once. I’ve had the opportunity to explore new opportunities, and open my mind to my creativity, which is fascinating. Do you open your mind to creating new things each week? (new recipe, new idea, new textile, new exercise?) I highly recommend it. It’s very freeing.

Listen to yourself you have your best interests at heartI’ve delivered a Listening course this week as well, in a volunteer role for the One2One Listening project in Preston, Lancashire. Training takes so much out of you, as you try and share everything you know in such a way that others understand and can use that information in their own lives. This week we were focusing on listening to ourself, which can often be quite challenging. We often keep our ‘real’ selves hidden, especially from our clients or customers, which means we shy away from our self in every day life. We think it’s not important. But I’ve learnt over the last few years that spending time listening to myself has been the most important part of my personal and business development. This listening has helped me move away from the things (and people) who’ve hurt me, and allowed me to find my confidence to do the things I love – loving my family and supporting others.

This week, I finished the book “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. You may well know it very well. If so, why didn’t you tell me about it before? I’ll let you read my review rather than talk more about it here. However, I think that’s what I’m going to really focus on now – my Why. Everything I do will fit with my Why from now on. I may have seemed focused up until now, but it’s only these last few weeks that I’ve had my own lightbulb moment which is now helping me move forward with my own goals.

And then this came through this morning – The ebook of the 30 day blogging challenge. Today it’s FREE so go grab your copy. You can use the information in this book for all sorts of writing for yourself and/or your business. There’s support and information about how to make your blog/website better & if you want it, there’s a free support group to help you become a better writer/blogger/business owner. I’ve done the challenge a few times, and it’s always helped me move forward – personally and in my businesses. Whatever you want to achieve in your business, and your life, there’ll be some nuggets of advice in this book to help you along the way.

I hope you’ve had a positive start to the new school year, and are excited about the next few months for yourself and your business. I’d love to hear your plans, and what you’re creating with all your skills and talents. Let me know if you’re starting to write publicly for yourself or your business, and I’ll share your work with others.

Have a great weekend. I hope the sun shines on you and your family,

[Book Review] Start with Why, by Simon Sinek

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action

I’ve just finished this book for the second time this year, and now feel ready to share what I’ve learnt from it. I’ve listened to it on journeys, and tucked into the content in the physical book as well, as I’ve been fascinated by the “why” question and how it applies to me.

Simon Sinek is fascinating, and knows how to tell a good story. The book is littered with stories about people and companies who did “start with why”, or who failed, to “start with why”. And even some who started with why, then lost track of it, which caused their businesses to lose sight of their original goal.

Everyone has a why, even if we’re not totally clear about what it is. Those of us who’ve had difficult times, may have gone into those difficulties because of losing sight of our “why”. For me, it totally makes sense that with my first business, I started focusing on the wrong things, (things other people told me were important to a growing business), and the reason I started the business in the first place got lost. I then lost confidence, and because I was focusing on the wrong things, (for me and my business), the business took a bit of a nose dive.

Everyone has a WHY. Your WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you.

Knowing your WHY gives you a filter to make choices, at work and at home, that will help you find greater fulfillment in all that you do.
Simon Sinek

A lot of personal development starts with “finding your why”, or “your purpose”, or “your thing”. I’ve found that quite hard to understand over these last couple of years, and really get down deep and find my why – the reason for doing what I’m doing now. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve known that I want to support others, as I love it, and am good at it, but that’s not enough. However, Simon’s words made more sense from hearing the stories he shared about others, and their why.

I loved the simplicity of Simon’s teaching of the “golden circle” – Why in the centre (Start with Why), then How we do it, and finally, What we do. If we focus on the why, the heart of ourselves, (or our business), then the how and what simply follow. When we start with what we do, it’s harder to understand why we do it.

Have you ever worked for someone, or a company, that you had no idea Why they were in business? Did you respec them and work hard in your job? The people and places I know I’ve worked hardest at, and probably had my most satisfying moments with, have been those where the Why we were doing something was really clear. Agree?

So this year, I’ve been exploring myself more deeply again, and came across this book “Start with Why”. As I said, it’s my second read in 8 months, as I don’t think I really understood how to apply it to myself on the first read. I’m probably quite slow, but that’s OK. Today, having come to the end of the book, I’m smiling and happy to feel that I understand my personal Why again. Yes, it will be different for all of us, but understanding why you’re doing something, even if you’re enjoying it, will ensure you’re bringing the whole of you to the whole of your life and work. I’ve found, through this exploration with Simon, (he’s got a lovely voice by the way, which is very easy to listen to if you get the audio version), that I really wanted to understand more. I’ve been putting things on hold until I grabbed hold of my why from right inside me. I feel I can now shine a really big light on my why which will simply permeate everything I do at home and work, and in my businesses, and with my clients.

My clients probably knew what my why was, as they’ve told me how I make them feel when they work with me! Ha! It’s been more fun reading the book, and learning some of the scientific background that underpins how our mind works, and why, by starting with Why, we’ll be able to live a more balanced life. I’ll let you discover for yourselves what the celery test is, but when you know what your WHY is, everything else will fall into place.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book if you’ve read it. Or, if you want to explore what your Why is, book a Find Your Why session. I’d love to help you find your Why more easily than it took me to find mine! 😉

 Just so you know: If you were to purchase the book from this Amazon link, would give me a few pennies. Any pennies collected this way go into an Elite Athlete Support fund, to support some talented athletes achieve their potential. If you’d like further details about these athletes, please do get in touch and I’ll send you some more information.

You can change the world, one plastic bag at a time

Did you know that YOU can change the world? Yes you. We all have our part to play, and if we all do our thing, that adds up to a lot, and makes a real difference.

Report predicts that, on the current track, oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050 (by weight)

World Economic Forum – More plastic than fish

seal with plastic bag around neckI’ve been concerned about plastic bags for a long time. As a family, we tried to take reusable bags with us before supermarkets had to start charging for them. I always get upset when supermarket till assistants put fruit and veg in a plastic bag at the till, when I’ve chosen not to use one when I’ve picked one pepper up from the store. [Note, we do try and buy from our local market, but we haven’t been that organised recently, but that’s our ideal. Just trying to give you a picture though of my ideals].

On average, we use plastic bags for 12 minutes before getting rid of them, yet they can take fully 500 years to break down in the environment.

Bioplastics and biodegradable plastics

On our recent family holiday to France, I was delighted to see that all the supermarkets we visited used corn starch bags at the fruit and vegetable counters. It seemed to give me a real statement of intent. The French supermarkets haven’t given out plastic shopping bags for years, (it’s a favourite holiday destination for our family), but this was saying to me, “we’re serious about the environment”.

In England, (who were behind Wales and Scotland in introducing the ban on free plastic bags), at first there was concern that the change wouldn’t work. However, I see a lot less people buying 5p or 10p bags now when I visit the supermarkets. Some supermarkets, e.g. Co-operative, use biodegradable plastic for some of their bags.

Wouldn’t it be good if instead of plastic bags to put fruit and veg in, we were able to use paper or corn starch bags instead? To me, it sends a message out, that we’re serious about the enviroment, and doing what we can to improve our world. I can hear my Mum shouting from the heavens now, “No! I want to see my fruit and veg clearly!” Why Mum? Grandma used to collect everything from the market in her shopper, and nothing was separated until she got home. Why on earth do we need everything in clear plastic bags? Urrggghh!

Now, I’m not saying that “How we used to live”, (anyone else remember that programme from Primary school?), was perfect. However, my Grandparents, who were adults and having children during the second world war, knew how to reuse, recycle and mend things. They never threw anything away – my Grandad’s garage was testimont to that! They grew their own vegetables, when they had the space, and they shared in their communities.

Whilst we don’t know what we don’t know with new technology, (and plastic is still relatively new to our world), I think we can all make a difference by consuming less plastic in our lives. I haven’t even mentioned plastic bottles and take away cups, but hey, that’s for another day maybe. You can make a difference every day with the choices you make about the plastic you use and discard.

I’ve signed the Greenpeace Ocean petition , which adds my voice to their campaign. I’m also going to be writing to the supermarkets in my area, and my MP to ask for more work in support of using less plastic. It may not be much, but I can do this. I can make a difference by using less, and talking to others, and asking the question.

What difference will you make to the world this week, month and year?

Containing excitement is bad for your health

We all get giddy with excitement sometimes don’t we, and it’s sometimes hard to contain that excitement. It’s especially hard containing excitement if we’re doing something in secret, or trying something out before telling anyone. Yes, are you with me on this?

Well, I seem to be surrounded by people at the moment who are containing their excitement about one thing or another:

  • I’ve got a client who has gone underground to work on some new ideas for her business which she’s so excited about she can’t even talk about it
  • My youngest son is going to do his first cyclocross event on Saturday, and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about an event in my life”
  • Another client has launched their website today, KCJ Gifts, and they’ve been  finding it hard to contain their excitement all week
  • Some of my online friends are sharing their excitement about their upcoming activities and events

It’s all very exciting to be around 🙂

Should we ever contain excitement?

Use your excited energy to spread happinessWe sometimes try and stop our children getting over excited about Father Christmas coming, or their birthday party. But why do we do this? Being excited is a fabulous energy to have, and to share that with others, shares happy times more widely.

Whenever we hold something in, it takes energy too. You’ll hear people talk about ‘letting go’ of fear or anger, as by holding this negative energy in, you’re making things worse. So, if we hold our excited energy in ourselves, and don’t let it out as we feel we should be doing, we’re doing ourselves a disservice too. All that energy we should be sharing, and riding on for our life right now, we’re stopping ourselves moving forward.

Sometimes we stop others from being over excited as we may have people within our close network who are having a difficult time, and we’re concerned that the excitement will exacerbate their hardship. Why? Surely, they’ll be excited for us too? Excitement and happiness is infectious, so we’re preventing someone else from moving forward too.

I love the way that some of the training sessions I’ve been on recently have told us to dance, or sing, to get into “high energy”, and therefore high excitement, before the session, or before the task we’re supposed to be doing. It’s fab! It is energising and it brings a smile to your face. It also brings out the best in you and your work. Try it, put on your favourite dance tune and dance to it before you do your next task. And don’t even try to stop yourself from smiling! 🙂

So, whilst it’s lovely that we are concerned for others feelings, they really do want the best for you. Don’t contain your excitement. Even if you can’t share the details with others about what you’re working on, please do share your excitement with others, and see the ripple effect it has on those around you.

What are you excited about at the moment? Let’s share your happiness and excitement too 🙂



Who listens to young people

Whilst it’s lovely to hear how schools, colleges and universities are supporting our young people, does this really address what support young people would choose for themselves? Are young people really being listened to? Do we as parents always listen well?

who can your children talk to to get things off their chest. ListenI had a fascinating chat today with an organisation looking to set up a Listening service in schools, as it’s “what the schools are asking for”. Personally, I think that listening services are needed in all communities, as not everyone has someone they can off-load to, or talk to, about what’s on their mind. You know that when you “get something off your chest” you feel better, but not everyone has the opportunity to tell someone else. This can build up over time, until a crisis happens, or, quite often, it affects a person’s mental health.

It got me thinking though. I trust our teachers and education experts. I trust youth workers, and researchers. However, if a listening service, (or something similar) is set up in a school, will the young people want to use it, and just because leadership teams think it’s a good idea, is this the type of support young people want in school?

Schools and colleges have a whole raft of support systems and services, both in school and from external partners to support young people. I personally know some counsellors who work in schools. There are learning mentors. There’s youth workers. Careers advisers, achievement specialists, and whole raft of other support available. Is a listening service really needed?

From the outside, and looking at this logically, to me, listening allows the young person to use that listening ‘space’ to talk about anything they want. A lot of the other services are quite focused and may be looking helping the young person move from x to y.

But do young people understand what ‘listening’ is? Have many of our children experienced really good listening, so would say, “yes! I would benefit from that!”. Or, is this a service that may sound good when we’re discussing it, but when we put it into practice it may not be quite what’s needed? Have we got a lot of educating to do with young people, (and parents and teachers), for this to really benefit them in the way we know it helps adults who access listening services?

I can see it from all sides. But I’m not a young person, so I can’t see it from their point of view.

What’s your view? What support do young people want? Is having someone to listen to them (or to talk to about anything they like), a good idea?


Support for Year 11 pupils

Tonight, you’ve guessed it, we’ve been to an information evening at school, to prepare us all for Year 11 (my eldest son). We weren’t too sure what to expect, and there’s certainly a lot of information available to pupils and parents to support year 11 pupils make the best they can of the year ahead.

Parklands High SchoolMy son, I have to say, is already fed up with teachers telling him that this year is important, and “you know you’ve got exams coming up soon”. His reaction yesterday, on day 1, was, “do they really think we’re stupid and don’t know we’ve got GCSEs this year?”. I take his point!

Whilst I’m all for preparation, and understanding the process to give confidence to our young people, there’s also a point at which too much information, advice and support could tip the balance the other way. At the end of day 2, my son is at risk of ‘switching off’ from messages from his teachers, which I know isn’t their intention!

Far from it. Tonight the focus was all about support. The teachers were focused on the growth mindset, (again, this is a term my sons roll their eyes at, but they do understand the intention behind it), focusing on the year 11’s goals, and how best to study for maximum results.

The teachers openly told us that some year 11s are already telling teachers they are worried about the exams. They told us they have support in place to help those who feel pressured, or stressed this year; those who seem not to be taking GCSEs seriously at all, and all those in the middle. I believe them. The results the school achieved this year were excellent – English and Maths results were all above the national average. The school has confidence, and this is rubbing off on the young people.

We were pleased to see that when devising a study timetable that Extra-Curricular activities came top of the list, and to put those in the planner first. Yay! We’re on the same wavelength with school on that one.

The other really pleasing point, which my son won’t be happy about as it’s been an underlying point of dispute this last year, is that of the use of technology, particularly before bedtime. Despite all the research papers we’ve shown him, this backup from school, and their partner organisation Elevate Educate, can’t be ignored. Getting 8.5 hours sleep was seen as really important, and NOT drinking energy drinks. The speaker gave the statistic that if you drink an energy drink you’ll only retain 10% of the information you’re trying to learn….not worth the effort then?

Following on from yesterday’s post, the Greatest gift you can give your child, it’s great to see this support from school, supporting year 11 in a broader way than simply teaching subjects, and learning facts. I understand the new GCSEs are more about applying knowledge, rather than just being able to regurgitate information, and this wider support from school will help the young people to have the confidence to practice their understanding in new ways.

So, whilst no 1 son may feel there’s a lot of focus on “it’s an important year”, at home, we want to ensure he has the right support. The fact that school said, ” use any member of staff you feel happy and confident talking to”, if you have a concern, means the school are working together to offer a caring environment for the children there.

We hope all schools have this approach, or similar, to supporting year 11 pupils, prepare themselves for the year ahead. And we hope it’s a fun year for them all, and gives them lots of happy memories.

Any other advice or suggestions for supporting Year 11 pupils this year?