Squiggly lines, life skills and a question with a warning.

Inspired by the theme of Mother’s day there is a question I would like to pose. Whether you are close to your mum or not, whether you see her all the time or hardly ever, whether you have lost her – even at a young age – or she is still present in your life, whether you love and admire her dearly or not quite so much – irrespective of all of that, what three positive traits, skills, beliefs or values have you formed as a result of having your mum – as your mum.

People we come into contact with throughout our lives leave marks. Sometimes sadly as scars, but most certainly also in the most positive of ways. Ways that serve us well. Try this. Think of a specific quality of yours that you are proud of – a life skill you developed as a result of being in touch with a certain person at some point in your life. Just imagine it as a kids trail game –  follow the squiggly line to connect the skill and the person who inspired or inscribed it in you.mothers day

Even people who leave scars, can in a roundabout way, help us develop very useful qualities like for example determination, compassion, sincerity, courage or self-reliance. If our perception of the relationship is predominately negative, we don’t usually credit  the person in question, but it could be really useful to take a step back, and look only on what you took away from that particular relationship that has served you well at other times in your life.

So back to the question: what 3 positive life skills, beliefs or values have you developed as a result of your mum, being your mum? And while we are at it, we might as well throw in a bonus question. One that makes my own heart go mushy and my breath caught in my chest, so be warned. Here we go: If you had a choice what 3 life skills, beliefs or values would you love, love, love to engrave in the lives of your own children?

Wishing you all a happy day with lots of musing.

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About simple decisions and head space

To have pancakes or rice and beans with scrambled egg for breakfast. To swim or not to swim. To wear your raincoat or not. That approximately sums up the number and complexity of the decisions we had to make on an average day while on holiday. That, I promise you, leaves a whole lot of head space free to do other things with. Like pay attention to the people around you and the nuances of your surroundings. Or to deal with the overload of amazing sensations that naturally follows being in a place so very different from your own.butterflies

It also provides you with an opportunity to reflect more. On how you live day by day, the values that drive your choices and actions, the way you choose to bring up your children. And many other BIG topics that seldom get the chance to surface properly in the flurry of daily life. I treasured that time for reflection and love how a lot of pondering is now on-going. Quietly. In the back of my mind. With whatever head space not otherwise occupied by to-do lists and decision making.butterfly

“To wear a raincoat or not” is straightforward on a day like today. I guess that in itself, really, is to be valued. Simple decisions means more head space on a wet Tuesday afternoon. The question we should perhaps ask ourselves therefore is if we can do something to simplify our daily decisions – make them more straightforward. What do you think? How could you make your decision making simpler? And how much head space would you then have available for reflection? Or a book. Or a conversation. Or nuances. Or perhaps even butterfly studying….?

a little tool devoted to December

It is so easy to start feeling overwhelmed by tasks in the next month or so. Like last year, however, I am determined to keep my eye on the bigger picture and focus on what is truly important, meaningful and adds value. The rest…. – well, we will just have to wait and see.

The “control centre”, the tool that can help maintain focus, is very simple. The simple tools are always the best, right? Take a piece of paper and draw lines to divide it into 4 spaces. In the top left space you write “Important”, in the right “Not important”. Going down, write “Urgent” in the top space, “Not Urgent” in the bottom. (Here’s a pdf you can download/print if you wish.)

notes

Then take all the to-do items playing Ping-Pong between your temples, the ones scribbled in notebooks, on post-it-notes, the back of your hand and other random surfaces and plot them in the appropriate spaces.

Remember to add what’s really important. Like the activities that mean a lot to you and your family. Afternoons spent baking gingerbread reindeers or ambling through mossy forests smelling of pine and clear air, choosing this year’s special Christmas tree. Or meeting up with friends for that first glass of warm enchanted wine, attending a candlelit carol service sitting on benches that always, no matter your body mass index, makes you feel like you have a very bony bottom. All of those go on your sheet as well.

What I hope you will find, is that even though it may not feel like it at times, the stars will still shine at night, the roof stay on top of your house, your friends and family still love you even if you take shortcuts or simply delete or delay the stuff of your list that is either not important or not urgent or both. Update your list as you see fit, but always do the things first that matters the most and for the rest….. well, we will just have to wait and see.

Elusive words on a rainy day…

Slippery little thingies sometimes. Words. I have this question on my mind that I want to share. My wish is to wrap it in soft and delicate tissue paper, as a small but carefully considered present before sending it your way, but…… those words. They are just not coming. Perhaps the rain washed them away.

summer flowers1

So here, on this rainy Tuesday, a completely context free and unwrapped question for you to ponder if you so wish.

What is really working in your life……..?

summer flowers

It is a good pondering question, if I may say so. Wrapped in delicate paper or not. Worth a good deal of pondering at a quiet moment. Especially if you tend to focus more on the opposite – what isn’t working. Got any of those? May I suggest you save those ones for another day and time. It’s Tuesday, it’s raining softly, it’s candle lighting time and a good time to ponder what’s working.

All I need is the wellies!

Metaphors are fantastic. I love when they appear during coaching sessions. Both when I am on the receiving end, working with my coach, and when I am in the coach’s chair. One of the great things about metaphors is, that they can go right to the core of an issue and describe an overwhelming situation, intense experiences, complex ideas or a bundle of emotions. Describe it very precisely, using very few words.

storm

Source: Freyaart

Yesterday, the above picture arrived in my inbox with the headline “I’m framing this”. The email came from a client, and all it said was “this reminds me of our first session”. It really touched me. As in really touched me! Because I can completely see how this sums up my clients story ~ how she was ~ and how she would much rather BE, during the storm, she knew was coming. And she eloquently finished with these word; “All I need is the wellies”! …..

Metaphors and touching emails. Powerful stuff, I tell you. {….happy sigh..}

When would it be helpful for you to use a metaphor to capture your experience?

A self coaching tool for life balance

A couple of recent conversations has stirred the thought that it is time to share another coaching concept/tool with you. Those of you who have attended the wheelbarrows seminar, will have come across it before, but I figured that you won’t object to its reappearance.

I use this concept not only with clients but also for myself. It deals with the issue of life balance and I believe it was created by Suzi Smith, a fantastic NLP trainer, whom I have the pleasure of training with several times.

paper
What it suggests is that we have 5 key Life Areas and that nourishing and attending to them equally with our time and energy will help create balance across our life and give us a sense of wholeness. The 5 areas are:

Your physical wellbeing
Your emotional wellbeing
Your intellectual wellbeing
Your social wellbeing
Your spiritual wellbeing

What do you think? Does it cover the key areas of your life? If so, try asking yourself these questions and see what comes up for you. And remember there are no right or wrong answers, it just feedback and insight that will allow you to decide if there are any changes you want to make. So here are the questions:

How are you currently nourishing and attending to these areas in your life?
Which ones (if any) could do with more of your attention?
Which nourishing activities would you like to add to create more balance?

I hope you enjoyed this little self-coaching exercise. In the coming weeks I will be attending to and writing more about nourishing activities for each of the five areas.

Underneath the surface

Many of us will experience times in our lives where we feel we have lost our way. On the surface we may appear to be content and “sorted”. But if someone were to look just underneath the surface, they would soon discover feelings of restlessness, confusion, discontent and incongruence. Mixed with a dose of guilt. For being selfish and ungrateful. “Who am I to ask for more?” “Why can’t I just be happy with what I got, everybody else seem content?”

It is a tough place to be and it is so frustratingly difficult to know, what to do to move beyond it. Personally I experienced this when I made the transition from full time work to full time mum. Feeling lost. As much as I adored my two soft, infinitely kissable babies, had a very agreeable red tiled roof over my head, good food on the table, savings in the bank and despite the fact that it was 100% my decision to resign, I found myself feeling lost. Hindsight has since made it clear that I felt lost prior to resigning, but the business of work covered that up nicely. Staying at home though, did not manage to distract me enough and made me truly feel it.

keys

It stayed like that for a couple of years. I, however, just kept kissing those babies, squashed down the feelings of incongruence and unsettledness and put a smile on my face in public. At home I did not smile as much. Then one day I came across the life balance wheel (more here) and that literally became the tool that help me turn things around.

First it made me understand that I was actually very content with a number of aspects in my life. It was such a relief. It may sound obvious, but in my head I had pretty much managed to muddle everything up by then. Then it helped med clarify gaps. Where specifically and how much exactly was I discontent. Only then was I able to start doing something about closing those gaps. With baby steps at first, but then picking up more and more momentum. More about those steps to come another day.

And although it took a good chunk of time and I chose to enlist the help of a life-coach, defining those gaps was the key. It got me back on track. That, and listening to and trusting those inner voices that say it is perfectly ok to wish for more.

To acknowledge what is underneath the surface and find our own way.