Follow the calling not the crowd

Quote Anon

I remember when I was in year 9 parents evening and a PE teacher gave me some sage advice that I’ve passed on as a teacher many times. Her name was Ms Deacon and she said ‘pick the options (GCSE) that you like and think about enjoyment, don’t worry about the future – enjoy the moment’ and it was great advice because we all do better in areas that interest us. Unsurprisingly to any of you that know me it meant my timetable for year 10 was heavy on the arts and ultimately I left proud of the grades I achieved. She also warned me against following my friends choices and I’ve seen many year 9s fall into the trap of ‘following the crowd’ or choosing options or even school, college or university choices based on where there friends are going.

In a world where we are all trying to leave our mark, where diversity is beginning to be valued…we often just want to fit in and camouflage with our fellow humans around us for comfort. To leave the crowd can be daunting and particularly when making education choices at a younger and vulnerable age we can forget our calling…the bespoke path that leads us to our purpose, or sometimes we struggle at the end of our life to know whether we found our purpose, our fulfilment our sense of contentment.

Lately two of my friends have taken a detour on life. One has sold the house, dumped the boyfriend and despite a world pandemic has bought a motor home and is fulfilling her solo travel dreams albeit a little slower than she would have liked. Another has given up her well paid PR career in London to start a family. This is in my opinion braver than it may seem as she currently has a husband but no baby on board…her plan is to detox from work life and focus on her health with the goal of them conceiving in the next eighteen months… I admire both of these people because they have abandoned the norm, thrown wind to what others think and followed their own calling. Materialism and finance have fallen lower in there priorities and a sense of both stepping out of there comfort zones for a potentially more fulfilling tomorrow are prioritised.

That to me is brave, however for them once they made the decision it all flowed effortlessly because it aligned with their pathway. The other great bonus of following your own desires is you meet more people that see the world the way you do. This week take a moment to think about what you’d like to achieve; this week, a year from now or five years from now….are you taking action for a life you want to live, or have you been trapped by the crowd? Shine in your uniqueness and thrive.

Waves are the ripples of the hard work that came before

This quote came from a thought in my head, an original fridgesays quote!

It may be because my horoscope is a water sign, that I’m a summer baby or that I live not to far from the sea but I am at home in water. I like to drink it, have bubble baths, swim, scuba dive, paddle, play, or just watch the tide…for authenticity, I don’t enjoy washing up.

Tidal waves are magnificent; the push and pull from the moon, the swish and swirls of the lapping sea as it consumes the beach in one big mouthful and then spits it’s out in a repellent manner, white foam bubbles around my toes as I timidly paddle (I’m based in the UK so even in summer the sea is like an ice box). I remember the first time I body boarded in Barbados (much warmer) and got to grips with the rhythm of the sea and where I needed to place and angle the board…hard work but so thrilling as the sea lifted me and catapulted my body to the shore effortlessly. I was addicted.

When you are working hard with a positive intention, when you know the purpose of the task at hand and aren’t doing for how it makes you look. When working hard helps others, then much like the ripple of a stone landing in a pond of still water – you can quickly see the ripple effect around the centre of where you put the action in.

I believe that when you apply hard work for the correct reasons, the ripple goes well beyond your knowing. Perhaps in time the ripples get larger or even less defined – they are still present and working for the greater good.

I once taught a sixteen year old girl in school who decided to increase her grade. She threw herself into the process fully even though her predicted grade was far lower, she wanted to take law at ‘A’ level, later through her career she wanted to help women like her mother who had struggled following domestic violence. She had a clear goal and so she threw herself into her studies and we revised daily – she would come to me for practise questions, take them home, bring them back and I’d mark them. She wasn’t happy until each question was better than the last. When it came to sitting the exam she was as calm as a tranquil lake, she knew what she had to do and I knew she could do it, how could she not?

This isn’t a suspense novel, so much like you thought – she smashed it. Her ripples went on to move her closer to her goal and now she has just completed her first year with a firm that advocates for the very cause she first threw her rock into the pond for. No doubt the action and clear vision she had at sixteen is still having a ripple effect today and everyday she helps victims of domestic violence be heard and seek justice.

The ripples don’t end in that pond, she inspired me beyond belief, her peers had nothing but praise for her and of course her mother wept on results day when she moved her grade up by four and got full marks. I retold her story and other pupils became intoxicated by the ripple effect. You see we don’t always see the full effects of our actions – she may not appreciate the gratitude of families surrounding the women she will continue to help, the pupils in younger classes who I shared her story with – perhaps even you will somehow be caught in the motion of her action. For you, this post won’t feel like hard work but flow – it may inspire you to take on a similar goal or to apply it to something aligned with your purpose, you may share this post with others and the ripples will continue.

Remember, hard work is just the first step but the legacy lives on beyond the furthest ripple.

The beginning is always today

Quote by Mary Shelley

Whatever we do, where ever we go the clock ticks and time moves forward. Often we seek out new beginnings and fresh starts. The western calendar is designed to seek out ‘new’ opportunities…New Years Eve, birthdays, baby showers, you can purchase cards for new jobs, say congratulations on learning to drive, or a new home.

Often as dates loom we can become anxious about the change, only to step into the adventure and realise ‘it wasn’t so bad’ – things often aren’t. The human mind, our own mind can often be our worst enemy – reality is often a cuddly kitten compared to the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘I hopes’ , that said kitten scratches can hurt.

Being present is hard in a world that whirls and never stops. But WHAT IF today is your new beginning. For every new day you have until your last breath you have a new chance. You don’t need to celebrate it (although a dance party a day is never something I regret) you just need to seize it…to not waste it, to make the most of it and to cherish it. If you think action is needed, some of the most nourishing days I’ve been blessed to experience have been snuggled, static and calm.

Perhaps you have a new job that starts in a few weeks, the new beginning began the day you applied for the job, the adrenaline of the interview, the wait to hear how it went.

You may be going on holiday over the summer vacation – the day you researched where you were going, looked at reviews on line or flicked through brochures – the holiday began. Instead of saying your holiday is in three weeks time, enjoy the journey – treat yourself to a new outfit to wear, in the supermarket add in some suntan lotion…the holiday process is so much more than two weeks abroad.

Squeeze the newness out of each day, the beginning is there for you to hold and for you to enjoy. Whilst I can’t say each day will be joyful, I can say that when you wake the next day you are given an opportunity to do things differently, to be a better version of yourself and to start again. This is the gift of life.

You can never be overdressed or over educated

Quote Anon

This quote made me giggle and then it echoed deeply within me, therefore I’m going to deconstruct this quote into two sections

You can never be overdressed

As someone who has substantial experience in this area, I’d say it isn’t about the clothes but how we feel. Within my job I go into schools and complete observations of children aged 4-16 years. It’s essential they don’t know I’m there for them, as this would alter their behaviour, for this reason I often use my wardrobe as a dressing up box…observing a four year old in a sandbox is very different to a sixteen year old in a formal learning setting. A couple of weeks a go I was suppose to see a fourteen year old boy in an English lesson, he didn’t turn up and so I was about to abort the observation when his Head of Year said that he’d turned up to his next lesson…I grabbed the chance and made my way to PE. I introduced myself to the class teacher, explaining he should completely ignore me and not draw attention. He remarked ‘I think you’ll do that yourself, we’re doing Boxercise on the field”…whilst it was true my formal fuchsia dress with black 6 inch stiletto heels could be considered a give away on a large expansive field…heels and twirly dresses are my comfort zone. Grass and heels are irrelevant. I smiled at the teacher and said ‘this isn’t my first rodeo’ and strutted to the field. I found a bench and sat making notes. Did the child notice me? No.

There are so many components within life that make things challenging, why do we let our clothes restrict us? Four year old go to the supermarket contently dressed as superhero’s with wellington boots, why don’t adults? Right now are you wearing a wardrobe that you feel good in? Whilst I wouldn’t recommend heels for running marathons, like most quotes there is a context to be taken into consideration. For the majority of the time, wear what makes you feel fabulous!

You can never be over educated

I don’t think this requires formal training, exams and certification, nor does being educated require institutions and walls. People who seek knowledge, who’s intelligence shines like a soldiers boots, have a thirst for knowledge. They seek sources of information from various places, compare and reach their own conclusions. To be over educated is impossible – whilst the world spins and new theories are born, there is always something different to learn. Humans who have been recognised as leaders in their field, such as Einstein often dedicated their lives to destroying old theories, asking bigger questions and not settling for mainstream concepts. My hope for everyone is that you never stop learning.

…and where possibly wear whatever you feel sensational in.

A beautiful day starts with a beautiful mindset

Quote Anon

Well-being websites have made ‘morning routines’ cliche and thinking about them can be another ‘to do’ on the list of ever growing ‘what we should do’ tasks. Do you have one? If you don’t have a conscious morning plan you probably have one through habit, as humans we tend to find patterns and stay in them.

Over the years I’ve had 5am starts with exercise, self care and nourishing food and much later wake ups with barely a comb through my hair before I’m out of the door.

If I’m honest I’ve only found a few things have stuck and enriched my life. I also think your morning rituals are only as beneficial as the quality of your sleep. Below are some things I found useful for an improved mindset

Gratitude journal: I’ve kept a gratitude journal since 2017 and have written 3 things I’m grateful for each day. I also write down 3 intentions for my day; sometimes they are practical objectives like completing tasks and sometimes they are more creative or magical. There are two big lessons to take away from my journal, firstly it instantly makes me feel good, the second is that after about six months of this daily habit it became second nature and gratitude has become a super power. Having control of my mindset from the moment I wake doesn’t mean my days are hassle free, but I certainly have a positive disposition and I believe my journal helps support and nurture this habit. So even if things do become negative, my growth mindset means I can alter my own perspective easier.

Change it up: This goes for everything you may do in the morning, if you’re short of time then having your clothes out ready is one less dilemma for the morning, but sometimes (when time allows) it can be hugely joyful to try on different things and restyle old looks. When it comes to food I’ve always been a fad eater – one minute a certain food is my favourite and I don’t want anything else, the next I’m over it and it’s the last thing I want to eat. Whilst this was annoying for my Mum when I was growing up (particularly when she’s bought 20 boxes of my favourite snack, only for me to abandon the idea and move on) it means my body is getting a larger variety of nutrients. Currently I try to never have the same breakfast twice in a row and have found the variety also makes eating less predictable and more enjoyable.

Take time to adjust: most recently I’ve taken deliberate time to wake slowly. Again, growing up I was a pocket rocket and would instantly wake, jump out of bed and get on with my day. I know many of you may not relate and may find waking hard, this could include several snooze alarms and an eternal battle to motivate yourself whilst counter arguing about all the reasons you should stay put wrapped up like a burrito in your bed…somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot. Now I tend to wake earlier than needed but not move. I give my body and my mindset time to process the day, I drink tea or hot lemon water in bed and write in my journal. Since doing this I’ve found the flow of my day is more consistent and I don’t resemble an octopus trying to accomplish eight things at once, my mind is focused and I often flow with easy into my day

What are your top tips for an effective morning routine? Have you recently altered things? Would you agree that much like the changing seasons, different times of year call for different routines?

Sometimes it ends differently and it’s better that way

Quote Anon

Unless you all know something I don’t, I don’t have a map for life…I don’t even have a guideline and sometimes the rules can blur and you can feel like you’re internal sat nav could do with an MOT.

I also find that if I do make a plan it very often doesn’t work out how I’d imagined? I’m not referring to popping to the local shops, although that often also goes drastically different and my 3 item shop for basic essentials quickly can become ‘please can I have several more bags’ at the checkout. What I’m really referring to are life paths and dreams of the future.

In my big plans for the future my family agree with my vision, wealth is abundant and everything clicks into place. If I reflect on when the pandemic first hit in 2020 I didn’t expect it to allow me relook at my careers, I didn’t think that within several months I’d be walking away from a school building as my job (a career I’d been in for over 16yrs) and working from home. I didn’t think someone would pay my fuel bill for my car (thanks Mrs Employer), I hadn’t considered in my dreams and vision of the small details; time to catch a cuppa with friends, or to hoover at speed between teams calls – leaving me house work free at weekends.

I thought I’d always work from a school building, now I get to visit many but never stay more than a few hours.

Last week I met a friend for dinner and she asked me what my next life goals were. I didn’t know, in fact I don’t think about it? Don’t panic I haven’t stopped dreaming (still currently stalking dream home on rightmove for example) but I’ve let go of the details. I don’t know what my next move will be, I’m not sure how I’ll get there and most importantly I’m ok with that.

Why? Because things often work out better than you’d expected and if they haven’t worked out then they’re still changing and altering as you read this. I believe the universe has my back, that it will all work out in the long run. It always does…not always better than I’ve dreamt, not always as I’d imagined it but often better.

Don’t think this post is about not dreaming and setting goals, I journal daily around my hopes for the future…but by letting go of the hows and when’s I get to enjoy the now a little more. I’ve realign in January 2022 and know there is more work to be done, my intentions are clear but the details of the journey I won’t sweat on, I’ll show up every day, I’ll dare to dream big and that house on rightmove might just become a click away from us moving in from circumstances I hadn’t even thought of. Enjoy the journey and give attention to things that are worthy of your time, energy and love.

Be someone who makes some else look forward to tomorrow

Quote Anon

The world has gone topsy turvy, the universe is twirly wurly and I’m sitting here unsure of what way is up and not wanted to fall down. Amongst the chaos we can now add Christmas to the mix, so on the prescipus of my forties I thought it appropriate to write a quick note to Father Christmas.

Dear Father Christmas,

I know it’s been a while, but as you oversee the joy of the Christmas season I thought it important to touch base…last year was a quiet one with families not as together as usual, I guess that increased your work load? Anyway, this year isn’t looking that spectacular, rules are changing like a game of snakes and ladders and who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Inevitably, this is the part where I ask you for something…it’s a big one, but necessary. Oh I should probably tell you I’ve been ‘good’ – that’s a little vague, I’ve had my moments but seriously Father C things are bonkers down here, even you would of swapped HO HO HO for something a little more exotic at times.

Anyway, what I’d really like, in fact – to quote Dionne Warwick, ‘what the world needs now is love sweet love’ so whilst your blasting around the chimneys, sliding through radiators and picking up magic keys, if you have any kindness please pass it around. By all means eat the mince pies left out by hopeful little ones, save the carrot for Rudolf and nobodies judging you for the milk and Alcohol consumption that is also left your way (Side note: does milk and brandy mix well when flying?)… we really need a little love, kindness and breathing space for everyone. The human race is heavily opinionated and devicive at present, I guess it’s always had division? My gift that I’d really like to see as we step in to 2022 is kindness…perhaps you could talk to the tooth fairy, see if any of that magic tooth dust enhances kindness? *Please don’t ask the Easter bunny though he’s dealing with diabetes at present and has enough on his plate.

Meanwhile, I’ll do my part to keep my judgements to myself and will look to seize kindness where I can. I’m the princess of gratitude so it makes sense to expand my repetoir to kindness.

Kindest regards and season greetings

Lucy, aged 39 and two thirds.

Do your thing

Quote Anon

As I wrote that quote I could hear my Year 9 English teacher Mrs H saying ‘Don’t use words like ‘stuff or thing’ it’s not specific’…well Mrs H, everyone’s ‘thing’ is different and this covers all bases.

Sometimes in life we forget who we are or what we enjoy simply because we get caught in the flow of life. We crawl through Monday morning as we reluctantly get out of bed, blink and often it’s Saturday afternoon…time flies not just when you’re having fun but when you are caught in the momentum of hum drum life…shower, work, drive, prepare meals, sleep and of course repeat.

Or events throw us off course and sometimes we forget who we were before the event, that can sometimes be a blessing as we are here to grow and thrive, but sometimes we can lose the magical moments of joy that we use to have. I remember about four months into having my son and contemplating returning to work I had to write a list of the things I enjoyed – not us as a family or me as a mother, but Lucy…what did I do before parenting knocked on my door and caught me in a baby led tsunami of nappy changes and baby snuggles?

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you to reflect on what you enjoy, the ‘things’ that make you happy – not other people, but hobbies, past times and ‘things’. Make time in the next few days to do some of these; stay true to your morals, values and political beliefs, faith and attitudes and just do you. Don’t also be surprised if you also can’t think of any, adulting has a habit of snatching these from us. You may need to take a few minutes alone, grab a pen and paper and jot them down. All of the ‘things’ may not be available to you in this moment due to finance or your current situation but staying true to your sense of self can mean these can be achieved down the line.

Doing ‘you’ is your superpower and the world needs more of your unique vibe. Stepping into your sense of self, your happy place also makes you a better person when you return to your loved ones. Happiness leads to more moments of joy and don’t we all need a little more of that as we step in to 2022. Well, I’d love to write some more (because writing is another joy of mine) but I’m off to walk in forests, sip tea, light candles and eat cake.

Thankful, grateful and blessed

This morning I was writing in my gratitude journal, something I’ve done for nearly 10 years and I realised that in this moment I’m am blessed.

This doesn’t mean life is perfect, nor am I any where near fulfilling my dreams but I do feel content.

Contentment can be our enemy. It’s like a warm bed…we just don’t want to leave it and so we roll over and hide our nose under the covers to stay warm. It can mean we strive for less and settle for ‘now’ and exist rather than live.

However, I’ve recently discovered that whilst I can strive for more I can also acknowledge that being content is a privilege. Through being thankful for what I do have, the worries I don’t have and choosing to see gratitude in all of my blessings doesn’t mean I don’t want more, but it’s a wonderful place to be!

A feeling of contentment is like a warm hot water bottle, it feels soothing to the soul. It acknowledges that in this moment I am enough. That my basic needs are met, that some dreams may have already come to fruition and that there is still room for growth.

The more I thought about feeling contentment, the more I realised that the world looks down on it, doesn’t give it the credit it deserves…everyone is striving for happiness, to feel euphoric and whilst these feelings are fabulous, they are often short lived. Take a trip to a theme park. The best ride may be over in minutes (the euphoria super excited part) but I may feel content for the entire day…from the moment I’m getting dressed, preparing what to pack, the journey to the park…all the way home to my bed when I’m exhausted from the thrills, spills and excess sugar the day had in store. Contentment can last days, perhaps even weeks, happiness is a perspective that may come and go.

At the beginning of this blog I wrote about the ‘comfy enemy’ that contentment can bring…but if we can get off of the sofa, if we can strive for more but also go to sleep at night blissful for what we already have…surely that’s a wonderful life?

We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are

Quote by Max Depree

I can’t marry Tom Hardy if I stay on my sofa every evening, unless Tom starts a part time job for our local pizza company, the chances of us meeting remain remote, although the love affair is guaranteed once he seems me in my fluffy pjs and messy bun.

I remember being pregnant for the first time and looking down at my watermelon belly thinking the laws of physics may mean that what went in may never come out? But I couldn’t begin the awesome journey of parenthood without something giving…like all my internal organs, sanity and abdominal muscles.

Sometimes if we want to marry Tom, have a baby, cut the lawn or change career – we need to take action. I know you’re already thinking, wow Lucy is going deep today but I’m watching humanity go insane but doing the exact opposite – shouting at drivers and then not given way to other drivers, being derogatory about ex partners and then giving that person brain space, moaning about excessive weight gain whilst walking over to the biscuit tin…people need to wake up.

What do we need to do? Firstly, we need to take 2 actions…well maybe three?

Action one: Decide what you really want. For example whilst marrying Tom Hardy may appear delightful, it could get a little awkward with Mr F who I really do adore, plus I might actually have to leave my sofa. If I’m honest I’m not sure I really want this, I mean if he’s reading this – then call me Tom and we can’t work something out, but ultimately without that call…I’m not sure I’m fully dedicated to the outcome. Once you do find what you truly desire things become much easier and the battle to get off of the sofa can even become enjoyable.

Action two: Hold yourself accountable. That means don’t buy the biscuits, reduce the alcohol consumption…take the steps that bring you nearer to your goal. *secret: anyone can do this, it doesn’t take commitment or celebrity status, it often saves money and can be time efficient as you improves your wellbeing…it simply means setting a goal and take one small step to towards your goal. Why then do so many people fail? Either because the goal doesn’t really mean much to them (sorry Tom) or they listen to the negative settings in their brain and let themselves sabotage their own progress. When dead, surgeons completing autopsies don’t write down ‘Matthew had a heart failure and his resilience was low’ nor do they operate in life to increase dedication or self esteem. You can’t get fillers to top up your perspective, or pills to enhance your motivation and there aren’t injections for will power… whilst frustrating this comes with a huge positive – all these things from resilience to willpower are free and available to all! All you have to do is decide in the morning when you wake that you won’t do the thing you shouldn’t (or will do the thing you should)…and you make that decision daily. Repeat process each morning, small steps to a better you.

Action three: I guess this isn’t an actual action but rather a reminder…you are worthy of Tom Hardy, a freshly cut lawn, a healthier body, laughter, joy and all the very best life has to offer. You can achieve anything you set your mind to, you can leave your sofa and so can I…well, the *lawns not going to cut itself.

*note: whilst hopefully inspiring when I say cut the lawn, I interpreted this as ask the Mr to do it for me, I’ve never actually cut the lawn in my life and this is not an ‘action one’ I’m looking to achieve. I guess sometimes we need the support of others to support us and that can work out wonderfully too.