New Year goals

Reviewing your year – finding ways to be kind and loving to your self

Most of us begin each New Year with some form of vision for the coming twelve months. January can be a dark and dismal month in the northern hemisphere, so planning ways of taking forward the hopes and dreams we have for ourselves can help to lighten the days.

As 2014 draws to a close, there’s a tendency to reflect on our accomplishments, and wonder what happened to all those lofty plans we made almost 12 months ago.

Did you imagine you’d make more money, lose more weight, be more successful in your career, be kinder to others, travel more – oh the list of ‘mores’  can go on ad infinitum if we let it.

Somewhere along the way we usually get ‘stuck’. The best laid plans and visions lose momentum amongst the day-to-day humdrum and pressure of life.

It’s all very well imagining and even writing those goals down and thinking we’ve got heaps of time to make them a reality. Without even realising it, a minutiae of ‘stuff’ gets in the way – or we find reasons (could they be excuses?) to delay a little, then a bit more, until suddenly it’s December again!

Maybe you feel you need to know more, to get more experience, to be ‘better’ before you put your plans into action?

Small steps

When we have too many options, or take on too much, it can paralyse our brains so much that we become totally overwhelmed – and end up doing nothing. Believe me I know, it’s something I’m very aware I have a propensity for.

When I realise what’s happening, the old adage of eating an elephant one piece at a time springs to mind.

I read an inspirational blog post by Frederique Murphy recently, with some helpful suggestions, called ‘7 steps to turning imaginary dreams into reachable goals’. She uses the acronym of CASTLES – chunk, align, scribe, trust, launch, enjoy, set. Have a read, see what you think …

What one small step could you take today, that will chunk down your dreams and begin to take you towards the life you truly want to be living?

Lose the life-limiting language

Have you noticed yourself saing “I really SHOULD be doing …”, “I HAVE TO keep doing this because …”

Rather than using this limiting and self flagellating language, ask yourself, what do you WANT to do? Who says you must, should, or have to do anything?

What lights the fire in your soul? Because if the vision you have for your life is always around shoulds, musts and have tos, not accomplishing these expectations will lead you to feel ‘not good enough.’

How would your life look if you decided to stop being so hard on yourself? Who knows, you may even get more done by taking on less.

Be your own best friend

Imagine you have a really good friend, someone who’s always looking out for you, cares deeply about you and only wants what’s best for you. What would she say to you right now?

Be kind and gentle towards your self.

When we can treat ourselves better, we automatically behave more compassionately with the people we spend time with.

Review, reflect and revise for 2015

My intention was to put together an incredible tool for you to review, reflect and revise your plans for 2015.

I guess I took too much on and didn’t prioritise this – life got in the way I admit.

However, an incredible fellow coach called Zivana Anderson from ‘Mindset Destination’ didn’t let overwhelm stop her so I’m sharing the love for her planner for 2015. I’ll be printing it off and taking some time to see what wins I had this year and the strategies I can use to make the most of next year.

And I’m going to be (because I really want to) kinder, gentler and more loving towards me.

How about you?

Christmas madness and mayhem – how deeply do you get sucked in?

IMG_4696“If everyone in the world were to live in the way we currently do in the UK we would need more than three Earths to produce the resources we would use and absorb the wastes we would generate.”

“Britain uses over 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper over Christmas, which produces over 83 square km of rubbish – enough to cover Guernsey.”

“The average family wastes around a third of the food they buy at Christmas.”, ‘How to have a better xmas’

How are the xmas preparations going in your life? Are you being caught up in the craziness of the season, spending money you don’t have, buying things that people don’t need, just because you’re feeling under pressure to do so? Or are you using this time to take stock, step back and reflect on what’s important in your life and why?

It’s so easy to get dragged along in the frenzy of Christmas.

My husband and I choose not to have a television, but when we visit my parents, it’s on for much of the afternoon and evening. Staying with them recently, I could see where the madness and mayhem manifests for many people over Christmas via the box – those marketing messages suck you in at every turn until you believe you simply must buy, buy, buy or else.

Or else what? Or else you may be seen as a humbug, a spoilsport, a miser, a scrooge!

Northern and southern hemisphere contrasts

I’m struck by the contrasts I perceive between a British and a New Zealand Christmas. I’d forgotten until last year how crazy it gets here.

I guess it’s vastly different having Christmas in the height of summer to the middle of winter, when people are hungry for any distraction from the dark and cold, the short days and long nights.

IMG_0481For many years I’d dreamed of having a Christmas on the beach, and in 2001 I made that come true. My youngest daughter, who was taking a year out and travelling Australia, spent the festive season and her 19th birthday with me in Gisborne, NZ.

Xmas day was spent on Wainui Beach, with lunch from a BBQ fired by driftwood (at that time I wasn’t aware of the extreme fire risks of such a thing!), and we enjoyed the company of a few friends in our bikinis and santa hats. I adored it, though I can understand that for many people that would just not be seen as ‘right’.

Christmas ‘Carols in the Park’ would be held on a Sunday in December (though admittedly one year I was there it never happened due to wet weather postponements!), and we’d all gather and sit on our picnic rugs, singing carols, with children playing and waiting for Father Xmas.

Christmas memories

Reflecting back, there were many aspects of the British Christmas traditions I loved when my children were young. The three of us would gather in my bed opening presents on Christmas morning, and at that time my parents and sisters all lived close-by; so we’d share the festive season together. I also recall the immense pressure even back then (the 80s and 90s) to spend money and make sure you had a gift for everyone.

Each year I’d aim to spend less. But somehow each January (and into February!) I’d still struggle financially having gone way over budget. They were the worst months of the year.

The secrets of life


I can only imagine the pressure on parents in the 21st century. Social media hadn’t been invented when my children were growing up. Reading the quotes from ‘How to have a better xmas‘ by Life2, I wonder what would change if those types of messages were broadcast widely – would it impact on people’s spending urges?

During my first nine-month stay in NZ, I was fortunate to experience the gift of time alone to reflect on my life. Where I’d been, who I’d become, what I wanted for my future.

And I discovered this poster from ‘Sumi’, in a shop in Napier. Since that time, it’s come everywhere with me, always on a wall where I can read it and be encouraged to acknowledge that the secrets of life are NOT about giving people ‘stuff’ they don’t need.

I recently read about ‘Crisis at Christmas’, and felt incredibly humbled and grateful for my life and loving family.

I still get sucked in every now and again, and part with my hard earned cash to buy when I really have no need to. But those times are becoming less and less, as I realise the real gifts of life cannot be bought.

How about you?

How to let go of your dreams (in order to manifest them)

Birthing naturally

Birthing naturally

You know those times in life when you have a dream, a vision of something you really want to do, have or be, but however hard you try it just won’t work how you imagined it would?

It’s not easy to walk away and trust that life knows what it’s doing is it?

Sometimes however it’s the only way.

Maybe your timing wasn’t right, or maybe what you think you want and what’s for your highest good are two different things!

It’s usually only when we look back, with the benefit of hindsight, we realise and understand this.

Soren Kierkegaard said (this quote has profoundly affected my life):

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Talking about ways to bring new life into our days, takes me back to my quarter of a century in midwifery …

Natural birth

How was your birth?

No, not the birth of your children. YOUR birth.

Was it fast, slow, early, late, complicated, painful – or gentle and unhurried?

Do you even know? Have you ever asked?

I was born at home, which I see as a great gift. My mum may not agree, as she was alone for the whole labour – the midwife only deigned to arrive at the last minute.

From what mum’s told me, the labour was uncomplicated and drug-free. The only part that was a particular ‘problem’, was when the midwife finally came and proceeded to instruct mum not to push, as she hadn’t quite got her equipment ready!

Ridiculous woman. It’s just not something you can forcibly stop, once the baby’s ready. Having said that, entering the strange confines of a hospital whilst in labour can halt progress, but that’s another story …

I do wonder if mum did attempt to resist that forceful expulsive urge. She was only 26 years old, with no-one to support her (my dad was working away). In which case, it’s feasible I got frustrated, as the strength of muscle contractions would’ve been forcing me further down, despite mum holding back.

What has this got to do with anything you may ask? In a previous post I discussed the importance of breathing, and said I’d share this with you.

During our Holistic Life Coach training, we were encouraged to discover more about our birth story. It seems possible for messages to be processed by the brain during the process, which can subconsciously affect our life.

So I can postulate that my fear of being buried alive, and importantly my ‘fear of drowning’ that wasn’t overcome after the white water rafting incident, could have originated from being ‘forced’ to stay longer in the birth canal than necessary, at a crucial point, and feeling suffocated.

It sounds far-fetched, but who knows what information could be hard-wired in our brains?

I’m also aware of being prone to impatience. I figure being held back like that, could be one of the reasons! However, mum’s story is she told the midwife in no uncertain terms she was pushing whether she liked it or not.

I could also picture the fact that my birth was a fairly rapid one, with no obstructions. And I was early! Well, only a week or two, which isn’t exactly ‘early’, in fact it’s well within the parameters of ‘normal’. But I didn’t hang around.  Once I was ready I was coming out!

Mine was a ‘good’ birth. How often is birth in the twenty-first century as gentle, physiological and ‘normal’ as this I wonder?

The 4 Ps – Power, passenger, passage, psyche

During labour, there’s four major factors affecting progress:

1/ The Power is around the strength of the contractions, how well nourished is the mother, how well rested is she? What position is she in – lying flat on her back in bed is unlikely to assist the power of labour, though lying on her side if she’s exhausted could. Changing position frequently can also help. Standing up and walking around helps enormously.

2/ The Passenger of course relates to the baby as she/he descends the birth canal – or not! There is an ‘ideal’ position of course, head down and flexed (chin on chest), ‘left occipital anterior’. Or in layman’s terms, on the left side and looking down. In this position the fetus is optimally placed to negotiate the twists and turns of the pelvis. Other positions may birth vaginally, but could cause more challenge.

3/ The Passage relates to the anatomy of the mother’s pelvis. There’s a number of shapes and sizes, the measurements of which drifted out of my head as swiftly as I read them, like most anatomy and physiology! Suffice it to say, some dimensions work well and others not at all.

4/ The PSYCHE – such a vital P, and one that’s not always acknowledged in the production line assembly of birth in a modern, ‘keep to budget, get them through quickly’ labour ward. In a planned home birth the psyche is calm and in control, in a noisy labour ward such as those seen on dramatic TV programmes, adrenaline kicks in and can halt contractions in an instant, leading to a cascade of unnecessary interventions.

Little can be done about the woman’s anatomy, but the other three can be helped to progress in a variety of ways that can literally shift the process from ‘stuck’ to ‘smooth’.

Breathing, as always in life, is crucial.

One of the (sadly many) practices I found extremely distasteful in professionally ‘managed’ childbirth, was encouraging women to take a big breath, hold it, and push forcibly as long as possible until her face was beetroot red and she soon became exhausted.

What also happened during this process is that the oxygen supply to the fetus was interrupted.

When the woman is ‘allowed’ to adopt a position conducive to giving birth, and follows the spontaneous nature of breathing and automatic expulsive efforts, the baby is more often than not born gently and with as little trauma to either party.

No force, letting go and allowing nature to take her course.

Listen, learn, change your mindset and let go 

You have a dream.

You’ve hit a brick wall.

You’ve worked hard to push through the barriers that have been presented to you. But they’re not giving.

It can be frustrating. But continuing in the same direction regardless of the obstacles can be foolish.

Like the obstructed birth, it may happen eventually but at what cost in terms of trauma?

Consider what you can change that may lead to a different outcome? Maybe you can look at the dream differently? Or move the timescales you’ve put upon yourself?

Start to consider a change to your mindset …

Or is it time to let go?

If things aren’t moving, then don’t keep forcing it. Because when that happens, when you force against nature, you’re much more likely to encounter an obstructed labour!

Wait a while. Let go of expectation. Be open to possible changes of direction and opportunities that weren’t originally around.

“Don’t push it, don’t force it
Let it happen naturally
It will surely happen
If it was meant to be” ~ Leon Haywood

Your dreams

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of following your dreams. When it worked well, what was different to the times when it didn’t?

As always, if you want to consider a coach to support you to birth your dreams, do get in touch.