SIMPLIFY TO AMPLIFY

moving-forward-career-lost-starting-over

As educational as it has been to become increasingly conscious of my own behaviour patterns and calling myself out on my own bullshit, I have actually become further confused about what I want and who I actually am.

You see, I have defined myself by so many different things over the years, particularly my career, and when I started to question that I began questioning everything else.

I’ve been slowly pulling bricks out of my own walls, and while sitting here in the ruins, I flit constantly between glancing out at my new view as well as trying to come up with a creative solution of what to build next.

But to be quite frank I’m shit scared of arranging these bricks badly and building the wrong thing.

Being present is something I still struggle with, and as my mind digs into the past, projects into the future and tries to apply it to the here and now I’m getting nowhere. 

In fact, I’ve been getting so far deep in my own head that I’ve automatically picked up my old habits and I have been turning to my usual distractions –  Namely, seeking out other people’s shit to deal with so I don’t have to tackle my own.

So I’ve put my foot down and from now on I’m swapping my distraction for action.

I am stuck for the simple fact that it’s impossible to get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going.

And if your past experiences keep appearing like a mind montage of epic disaster every time you try to take a step in any direction, then not only will you not move anywhere but you’ll just be sitting in fear forever – which is pointless, torturous and let’s face it – pretty dumb.

So with my new call to action, I’ve thought long and hard as to how to tackle this and I asked myself what does one do if one gets lost in the physical world?

Find your way back to where you started… and try again.

So with this in mind. I’m going back to basics.

Stripping it all down, taking away all the needless fluffy stuff and cutting out the distractions and BS.

First step, I’ve handed my notice in on my work premises (which I’ve come to realise was a decision made by my ego rather than out of necessity in the first place) and I’m headed back to where I started – working from my dining table and seeing clients in the spare bedroom.

Now, I have been EXTREMELY close to dissolving another business of mine but I’ve finally got over myself and come to realise that I’m actually sitting on gold dust with this one – How often does one have the beauty to start all over again with the knowledge of the past years under their belt and some lovely clients already in the bag too?  Not too often I don’t think. 

Some things, of course, are not salvageable but this little enterprise I’ve put my heart and soul into definitely deserves another chance.

So my current mantra is “simplify to amplify”

With this in mind, I’m cutting right back on our company’s offerings, and re-modelling the entire operation to be more in line with mine and my team’s values so that we can serve our clients better and be seen as the kick-ass people that we actually are.

So now I’m back at the start, it’s time to put one foot in front of the other and get moving in another direction.

We will no longer be the jack of all trades.

Trying to please everyone gets you absolutely nowhere at all and over the years I’ve drifted so far from what I set out to achieve and the company I wanted to create that it’s completely unrecognisable.

So instead of saying “Yes” to all things I will likely be saying “No” a hell of a lot more and honing in on the things that make us great. 

It’s scary, I’m not going to lie, but I am confident we’ll come good at the end.

The word “No” doesn’t feature in my vocabulary very often, I would assume partly because I’ve always loved the thrill of just saying “Yes” and figuring out how to do it later, but also (and perhaps more so) because it would seem I have some codependency issues lurking in my closet which have not been serving me well.

The problem with saying “yes” to too many things is, it’s very easy to lose yourself to other peoples demands and expectations and therefore your actions do not come from the heart which never works out in the long run.

Cutting back, simplifying everything and essentially undressing it all has already made me feel so cleansed, I’m wondering why the heck I haven’t done it sooner?!

So if I continue to keep my ego under wraps and remember to always KISS (the acronym for “keep it simple stupid”) then I’ll be well on my way to designing a life (and business) that I love once again.

And as we all know, life isn’t plain sailing all the time (there’d be no fun in that anyway) so when those shit storms do occur I have the words of the great Samuel Beckett to see me through… ”Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

NEW SHOES

barefoot-new-start-mindset

I have been fiercely trying to work out my version of this thing called “life” and never have I felt a greater need to find the mental and physical space to do so. 

As much as I’ve been doing some work around this in London, it’s a pretty noisy city and it’s pretty damn difficult to keep my own head quiet for 5 seconds to get a grip on the matter.

I decided that I really needed to step this up a gear, so… yesterday morning, the pup and I packed up the car and made our merry way to Norfolk.

We’re having 3 days here doing not much at all… just trying to zen the f**k out!

I’m working on this huge acceptance that I am not the same person I used to be and it was a tough pill to swallow. 

I still haven’t quite got it down but as I’m slowly releasing the belief that I have to continue doing what I’ve been doing for evermore simply because I’ve started it (and I damn well like to finish stuff I started!) life is getting a little easier and things are looking a hell of a lot brighter.

You see, the way I have been living in business and life has been like squeezing into shoes each and every day that are a size too small but which I’ve refused to take off for fear of being barefoot with unpainted toenails – I mean, what would people say?!

And no matter how pretty or sparkly these shoes are, and how many compliments I get about them, this does not make them any more comfortable and the blisters are now impossible to ignore.

I have realised that I am not failing, giving up or throwing my toys out the pram but I have simply done what all living things do, I have grown up.

I have outgrown my shoes and they no longer fit.

And that is fine because at the moment I’m enjoying wandering around barefoot, embracing my natural unpainted toenails, not minding what others think, and reconnecting with the ground I walk on.

I’ll be putting new shoes on eventually, don’t you worry about that, it’s just there are so many pairs out there to chose from.  I want to make sure that I don’t just pick the sparkly uncomfortable stilettos or settle for the boring but cosy slippers.  For this next chapter I am looking for a particularly special pair of shoes to encompass comfort, style and durability to not fall apart over the many miles I plan to walk in them.

FLOGGING A DEAD HORSE

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I have spent the afternoon hauled up in my office having a bit of a cleanup – physically and mentally. 

Well, if your physical environment is a bit of a mess then that’s no help to your mental one is it now? 

Decluttering in the physical world seemed the first step for my current existential crisis – which has been going on for some time as I’m sure you are well aware.

In random plastic bags and folders shoved away in cupboards, I’ve got a lot of history. 

Now I used to review and plan all the time.  Every month in fact, but personal stuff got in the way in early 2017 and that particular personal stuff resulted in what I now call “life admin” which has been ongoing ever since and therfore meant that I am over a year and a half late to face my monthly review.

I’ve got workbooks I’ve printed out and filled out, little notepads that I used to scribble onto on a daily basis and nicer, more expensive notebooks that I used for business planning and noted on in seminars. 

Some of these notepads I’ve used to document my hours of online research on all things from marketing and SEO to branding and PR. 

I’ve got A3 sheets of spider diagrams and messy brain dumps. I’ve got word document printouts of my mission statements, business plans, business systems  … it’s all there… dating back to 2014. 

Today I started with the notepads and notebooks.  There were 10 of them.

Over 3 hours I went through them meticulously reading through each and every page.  The business research and tips and pointers I left to the side but everything else I read and then I remembered. 

I remembered lots. 

It was like time travel.

And time travel was definitely needed today. 

When I worked from home before I got my office (and before I had my PA to deal with calls and emails) I always kept a notepad to hand so a lot of everyday business life was scrawled onto these notepads. From to-do lists and job quotes to cold call details and accounting scribbles with numbers and figures.  Today it read like a memoir and I could remember everything so clearly. 


Everything I was trying to do at the time to push my dream forward. 

I was so on it.  I was so meticulous.  I noticed how my handwriting was on point for some parts and I could tell when I was frazzled or was perhaps working with a glass in hand on others. 

These notepads I read this afternoon told the whole story.

And while my first reaction was to weep, part of me was so relieved that instead of bursting into tears I felt a sense of peace and I smiled.

I was initially overcome with sadness from seeing just how driven, how hungry, how passionate I was and how much I was pushing for my goals back then in comparison to how I feel now.

But just as the tears were prickling at my eyes I realised something or rather I accepted something. Something I should have accepted a while ago.

My path has changed.  And over time my dreams have changed. My passions are not the same as they used to be. 

I know full well I’m still that same, driven, hungry and passionate person, I haven’t gone anywhere, but what I set out to do 4 years ago has led me down a different path.  And through sheer stubbornness, I have been exhausting myself trying to follow my plan from 5 or 6 years ago which isn’t actually my journey anymore. 

I have in no way failed in anything, quite the opposite in fact. 

In a nutshell – When I set out to create a niche business alongside my own personal work, one part of what it offered grew so quickly that the entire operation changed direction and instead of going with it, I’ve spent the whole time working against it. 

I have simply been flogging a dead horse. 

Which is why it has been causing me so much pain these last few years. I’ve been pushing something that I don’t truly believe in, that I never set out to do. 

But when I saw a spark of success I chased after it.  But it was never what I wanted.  I think by the time I semi-realised the above it was too late – I had clients that depended on me, freelancers that counted on me for work, I had more responsibility than I had ever had and I had to continue at it and it’s been dragging me along for some time now as a substantial weight on my shoulders.

Instead of adapting, I was so fixated to still get what I set out to get that I failed to notice the success and ended up resenting it and this resentment has infiltrated across to all my work and my personal life.

You could say this is a classic example of not living in the moment, not being present and not enjoying the everyday.  All of which I am extremely guilty of.

The problem with projecting into the future, as I did (and I think we all do) many years ago with my ideas and my “plan” is that I failed to accept that I cannot make the future happen, it will happen on its own accord and there may be something else that the universe has to offer me and I have no choice but to roll with it when it does. 

I do not have control over what happens in the future.  Just like I have no control over the past.  I can only live in the moment, and the current moment I can’t really control either.  I can work with it or against it….

And I know which one I’d rather, but it’s not always easy to – as the addiction recovery groups say – accept the things I cannot change, have the courage to change things I can… and the wisdom to know the difference.

SELF LOVE

self love help

So a few posts back I stated that I didn’t believe in falling in love.  At the end of that same post, I vowed to delve into this belief of mine to see if it really was true.  And since then, over the last few weeks, I’ve been knuckling down to some work…. on loving myself. 

Well, if I don’t love myself (as some of my earlier blog posts demonstrated – I was not my biggest fan) then what love do I have to give to others?

If I am constantly at war with myself, how the hell did I think I was going to live peacefully with another?

Now it’s a work in progress but we are making some headway… I think I’m starting to fall a little in love with myself. 

What makes me think this?  Well according to my research, I’ve got all the symptoms.

Everything seems brighter and lighter and it’s like the quality of my life has been upgraded to high definition.  Every day is just full of fun, even the mundane things – it’s like I’m constantly at play.  Comments over heard or songs that come on the radio are like divinely timed messages and nothing appears as if by accident.

When I “threw out all those boxes” as mentioned in my previous post, I also dropped my own fixed expectations and in doing so I have allowed a little love to flourish within myself – just as it would with another person if I didn’t require them to meet a ridiculous checklist of criteria.

I feel as though slowly but surely I am waking up to the error of my ways and it’s supporting the idea that mine is the only reality – In that it really doesn’t matter what is going on around me or what I think people think I should or shouldn’t be doing because my thoughts are my thoughts and are the only ones that are capable of keeping me in the light or the dark, not other people’s.

In your thirties, dating steps up a notch, particularly for the ladies with their biological clocks ticking and family members not letting you forget it either. 

It is also at this time I think we believe that we know ourselves more and are so much clearer about what we need and the truth of who we are – we’ve had thirty odd years of experience after all.

But do we really know ourselves? 

Has our 30 plus years of life learning experiences really taught us what we do and don’t want?

Or could this actually be the turning point where the magic happens?

Where we say to ourselves “Holy crap, I’m not entirely sure I want any of this stuff I’ve been hell-bent on getting for the last god knows how many years!”

I feel right now that I’ve been chasing after things for so long that I’ve completely forgotten why I am chasing after them.

When questioning myself on them right now I actually can’t come up with a logical reason to be dedicating my life journey to some of them and compromising my happiness in the process of attaining them.

Just like my dates, I was going through life much the same way.  I started each day with an extremely detailed plan and a checklist of “what I need to be happy” laid out and all that really did was disappoint me. 

So it turns out my own boxes were actually boxing me in. 

I have realised that my days couldn’t just unfold and be enjoyed and experienced as I began each one with far too many expectations.

I reckon I had a bloody good idea of what I wanted when I was about 10 years old but for the 20 years that followed I was conditioned to want other things, things that actually other people wanted for me, or things that society told me I should be wanting. 

Essentially I got lost chasing after stuff I certainly don’t need and don’t really want either.

I’m starting to realise that things such as careers, money, partners, having a family of my own don’t actually matter. 

There is only one thing that does and that is how I FEEL. 

Because even if I’m rolling around in my own cash in my beautiful 5 bedroom home in the suburbs with my perfect husband and our 3 children, if I’m miserable then the whole lot is totally pointless.

So in light of the above, dating has become a hell of a lot simpler.   

I am only looking out for one thing now and that is the way someone makes me feel as opposed to their attributes.

It’s funny how love – in my case an unfamiliar dose of self-love – can come in and illuminate what is actually real for us and what really matters.

This little bit of self-love has shifted me from where I was before and in fact where I have been for quite a while.

I’m not sure where I am being shifted to and I have no idea what the outcome will be. 

To be perfectly honest, I’m feeling a little naked with my cast iron belief system having just had a mighty shake-up but I’m learning to own it… wobbly bits and all!

And I am starting to believe that all else aside, self-love could, in fact, triumph all.

PLAYERS NOT PAWNS

game-of-life-mindfulness

So a couple of blog posts back I made a bold statement – “I shall be a box ticker no more!” – Only at the time, I was referring to my choice in men.

However, over the last 2 weeks, and true to form, I got a little carried away and have evidently thrown all of my boxes out the window…

Any checklists to do with work, and life the way I’ve been living it the last few years has been tossed out.

Looking back, the start of this blog saw me at the start of some big changes. 

I’d just moved so I had a change in scenery (always helpful for new beginnings!) and I was starting to make some small habitual changes with regards to work habits, eating habits, alcohol habits and social habits too. 

3 months down the line and I now feel worlds apart from the anxiety and unease that was all consuming in April.

This feeling right now, however, is not all too unfamiliar. 

Slowly, I’m remembering more little anecdotes about my past and the way things used to be for me. 

My thinking is clearer and this new positivity I’ve been waking up with most days now is actually how I used to wake up every day years ago.

I used to be completely fearless, excited each morning about what they day would bring and I used to see every new day as an adventure. 

It would appear my adventure days are returning…

Because I have remembered something very important.

Something that applies to all of us.

We are born to be players not pawns.

And although I was worried it was fleeting, I now feel confident and sure enough to say that I’ve officially got my flow back.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the word, “flow” is basically when people forget themselves in a function. 

In flow, people are living so deeply in the moment and with full control, that their sense of time, place, and even self, melts away.

During these episodes of flow I feel calm, content and ridiculously present in the moment which we all know isn’t an easy task these days and has taken me by surprise now that I’m aware of what it is.

So what changed? 

I can’t pinpoint what exactly, and at the start I was a little worried that it was fleeting but I feel so much more confident that I’m finally getting back to my old self again.

I stated at the beginning of the blog that I was pushing some work things to the side and personal ones too and by that, I meant I was taking a damn chill pill with regards to everything in life. 

I stopped flying and tearing about to meet people – in particular, the ones that added no value to my life.

I stopped planning ahead days and weeks in advance and kept my diary as free as possible to take each day as it comes.

I stopped beating myself up for wanting to make the most of the glorious weather and choose longer sunnier walks with my dog over sitting in the office staring at a computer screen.

I quietened the noise in my head and was finally able to tune in with my gut, allowing it to start taking the lead and guiding me through each day.

I have stopped worrying about what I should or shouldn’t be doing and just been doing what I truly felt like doing.

As for work, well I’ve been having the most fun here!

I have genuinely been rocking up to see clients like I am their best friend and the connection that I’ve had with them has been unreal – work, once again, does not feel like work at all.  Hurrah!

Instead of taking any angst or outside mental baggage into appointments, I make a promise each morning if I’m seeing anyone that for the time I am with them we are going to laugh lots and have tonnes of fun and I am going to be 100% present with them in that moment.

It’s actually how I used to work at the beginning before I became such a stress head, worrying about where the business is going and all the things I needed to do to push it forward. As well as stressing about everything else in my personal life too.

A while back I stopped asking internally what I could do for my clients and instead selfishly began asking what they could do for me.  I think it’s fair to admit that I began doing this with people outside of work also. 

I stopped giving so freely and began living my work and personal life with ulterior motives.

I have now reminded myself that it’s okay to play – It’s the best and perhaps the only way to truly learn, discover and evolve.

Which is a bloody good thing as for the last year I have been seriously considering jacking in my entire Hair and Makeup Artistry career –  I just wasn’t having fun with it anymore and I was running out of drive and purpose to keep pushing on and continue.

Think about this for a moment  – Children are in flow constantly.  They use their brains and bodies to endlessly explore and take information from the environment they live in.

But, at some point in their lives, they stop.

They start to get ashamed that what they are doing is childish.

And this is perhaps our biggest mistake. 

When we stop listening to our gut, try to think only with our heads and stop living from a place of joy we are on a sure path to angst and misery.

It’s a fact – When we are in flow, self-conciseness dissolves and time passes quickly – It’s one of the most satisfying experiences in peoples lives.

And if you think you can’t be in flow in the workplace like I did, you’re wrong.  It’s also a fact that people are much more likely to reach a flow state at work than in leisure as work has a structure such as clear goals, immediate feedback and challenges matched to our abilities.

It’s why more and more people are taking on volunteer work as it’s nourishing them in ways that paid work simply is not.  

My daily checklists and routine have been a burden now for more than I care to remember.  They served a purpose at the start – Working for myself, I had to create a system to comply with to hold me accountable to get things done.  I also needed a personal checklist to ensure I kept myself fit, healthy and generally kept my home and personal life in order.

What people believe shapes what people achieve, however, and while complying can be an effective strategy for physical survival, it’s a crap one for personal fulfilment.

Satisfaction depends not merely on having goals but on having the right goals. Misunderstanding this leads sensible people down self-destructive paths. (Ahem…)

As for working your way up the career ladder and chasing after promotions or materialistic things, I’ve got some news for you. 

The science shows that the secret to high performances isn’t our biological, reward-and-punishment drive, but our deep desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to LIVE A LIFE ON PURPOSE.

We are all in pursuit of mastery of something or another.  But when it comes to mastering that activity, career or even personal relationship, you can approach it, you can hone in on it and you can get really, really close to it but you’ll never touch it.

It’s the source of frustration but also the source of allure – Why reach for something you can never fully attain?  But why not reach for it?

The joy is in the pursuit more than the realisation.

And that is why I will continue to play.  If it’s not making you happy and you’re not having fun with it, whatever it is, then what’s the point?

PEOPLE LIKE YOU

social-media-entrepreneur

Whilst sunning myself in Tel Aviv the other week I was devouring a pretty awesome book by Daniel Priestly and this quote really hit home for me.

“THE WORLD IS CHANGING AND SO MUST YOU.”

It was after reading this sentence and the paragraphs that followed that the penny dropped.

I realised my constant struggle and frustrations with business and life was down to one simple thing.

My resistance to change.

Sitting in any place of resistance is not only painful but bloody exhausting.

My stubbornness to continue trying to work the same way that I have been for the last 9 years was getting me nowhere and no matter how long I continue the struggle, it never will.

It’s plain and simple – Things are different now and there’s only one thing for it – we need to let go of the way things worked in the past.

Yeah, sure, learning and understand something new is daunting at first, it looks a lot like work, but after we’ve grasped the concept of whatever it is we are learning then it always enhances our lives in some shape or form. 

Because knowledge is power.

Just as 20 or even 10 years ago it seemed a simpler time to run a business, and arguably a simpler time to run your life, what we actually have now is a wealth of shades between the black and white.  Every single one of us – rich or poor, old or young – has a ridiculous amount of opportunity at our fingertips.

Back in 2000, if you did something quirky, arty, cool or a bit different (ie. what pretty much ALL businesses are doing right now!) people would have a tough time finding you. 

You’d still have to somehow fit your business into the categories of the yellow pages.

Until recently you had to work within a structure and there was little freedom.

Today, there are teenagers across the globe KILLING IT online from just their bedroom with nothing more than a phone with a wifi connection and a desire to send out a message.

There are now millions of small, lean enterprises honing in on serving individuals rather than generic markets. 

You can now have unique things that were made for “people just like you.”

The internet has connected so many.

On the internet no one can be too fussy or have strange taste, we are all part of a “tribe” as we have found others out there who think like we think and believe as we believe.

On the flip side though, there are some very stressed out business owners and entrepreneurs out there who haven’t quite grasped social media and/or are still stuck in the dark ages with all things technology.  I had one sitting at my coffee table yesterday at the end of his tether trying to get some advice as to how to continue on with the one thing he is trained to do and has been doing all his life.

These business owners and entrepreneurs are angry, frustrated and struggling to adapt to the way things are now because they think they haven’t got the luxury of a tech or marketing department and don’t even know where or whom to turn to learn all this new stuff for conducting their business online…

BUT they are missing the point.

It is not social media, e-commerce platforms or opt-in web pages that make people rich or popular.

IT’S THEIR MESSAGE.

All social media does is make them louder.

There is ALOT of noise out there, but the one thing that will cut through it all and speak to the people you want to speak to is your message, and this can be neatly tied up in the “brand of you.”

Comparing yourself to others is simply setting yourself up to fail.

If you just try to copy everyone else, imitate what they are doing and speak how they speak, you’ll get lost in the noise and won’t be heard.

Now, maybe you don’t run a business, perhaps you’re struggling on a personal level online with, Oh, I don’t know, say… online dating??

The same principles apply.  You need to be clear about your message and ensure what you are putting out there is “on brand” and that is the wonderful and unique brand of you.

When it comes to conducting your business life or your personal life, if you don’t know what you stand for or really know the message that you are trying to get across, then no amount of marketing or mentoring can help you put it out there with success – You’ll have very little luck getting noticed, and if you do, the chances are you’ll be attracting the wrong thing anyway.

We’re technically in fun times here. 

Anything goes these days – We can play by our own rules and the scope of which we can explore, create and achieve is limitless.

We’re all thinking outside the box more and more to grab people’s attention in this noisy online and offline world and in doing so our creativity is blossoming.

So relax, have fun with it because I’ve got some good news for you…

Success is no longer only reserved for the qualified or elite.  Anyone can grab a slice of the pie!

All you have to do?

Be unapologetically you.

LOVE DEBATE

brick-wall-guarded-relationsip

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge believer in love, I have so much love for so many people and things, in fact, I probably dish out love too freely. 

But perhaps my interpretation of love is not the same as yours. 

In fact, I’ll be so bold as to say that every single one of us has a different perception of the word “love.”

When I talk about love I refer to something that evokes true and physical emotion from me.  From goosebumps, butterflies, tears, laughter, smiles and everything in between.

I wear my heart on my sleeve and I consider myself to be a rather empathetic person. 

A tad too emotionally charged I guess, but it has it’s benefits as well as it’s downfalls, and you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth…

However, I don’t believe in falling in love.

My gripe is with the “in” word – I don’t believe I’ll ever fall IN love.

In this statement, I’ve also got a problem with the word “falling” to be honest with you.

That just suggests an accident.  A loss of control.  An error of judgement.

We don’t fall on purpose and falls generally result in injury.

A friend said to me a few years ago – “Camilla, I can’t wait for you to fall in love, it’s the best feeling in the world.” 

and my immediate response was – “Pah! I’m never going to fall in love, I’m not that stupid. Why would I pass all my emotional well being over to another person and then have them do whatever they want with it?”

Now, it may sound sad and bitter, but that’s just how it is for me.

I’m also a bit of a control freak too so the idea of surrendering or handing anything over sends me into a bit of a meltdown!

But, I’ve seen people who have “fallen in love” and have gotten their hearts broken.

Sure, I’ve had breakups. 

I’ve been hurt, disappointed, upset. 

I’ve mourned a loss for a few days with my friends Pinot, Sauvignon and Ben and Jerry, but within a couple of days I’ve dusted myself off and got back out there again as life goes on – it’s just a change in your direction.

And the more changes in your direction, the quicker you get used to hitting the ground running with the new one.

Now I’m referring to all kinds of relationships here.  Be it a business relationship that went sour, a romantic relationship that went tits up, maybe you got evicted from your home or whatever. 

I know from umpteen personal experiences on the matter that breaking away from areas of comfort isn’t easy but the new opportunities that present themselves will kick the previous right into the gutter if you allow them to. 

That means you stop moping around, pull your shit together, get the faith and embrace the new way.

I’m a firm believer that someone up there has got it all in hand so the less resistance you give the easier it is to move forward.

So back to the “in love” debate…

As we get older, collecting life’s little bumps and scrapes along the way, I think it gets harder and harder to fully trust and I guess for me, when it comes to romance, that’s never imagining myself falling in love.

That’s right, I’m a fully fledged “box ticker!”  – And I can tell you right now, that hasn’t been working out so well for me these past few years.

Because we can’t help but learn from our experiences, the barriers we keep building get thicker and thicker or stronger and stronger.  We don’t even realise we’re doing it, it’s just a new coat of armour we wear or a new behaviour we adopt and we’ve had them for so long we don’t even know the darn things are there!

It’s our primal response to fear, it’s human nature and it’s our way of keeping ourselves safe. 

It’s our primal instinct to protect ourselves which is vital to our survival. 

And when confronted with situations that remind of us of bad past experiences then we go into fight or flight mode.

I’m usually a fighter with most things but it when comes to dealing with true matters of the heart where there is another human being involved who is unpredictable and complicated – I’m off!

It only took the one time of putting our hand in the fire as a toddler to learn that we never put our hand in the fire again.

Now despite everything I have just said and being fully aware that this is my own primal instincts protecting me and knowing I should budge a little and warm up to the idea of “falling in love” I can’t shake the feeling that placing your heart in someone else’s hands to be damaged seems like plain carelessness to me!

So I’m currently in the process of changing tactics (I shall be a box ticker no more!) …which to do so means I have the rather messy job of challenging some areas of my own belief system.

Yes, folks!  I am fully undressing it, layer by layer to see if actually, just maybe, my “oh so strong” belief system has in fact been built on ridiculous assumptions and completely untrue facts… and is in other words… total BS.

MANIPULATION GAME

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I find it ironic that we’re in a particularly strong age of mental health awareness and politically correct body positivity yet the “Body Perfecting” industry is still peddling empty promises now more than it ever has! 

We are constantly bombarded with the latest technology, treatments, procedures and products to fix the body issues that both society and the media continues to riddle us with.

Our insta feeds feature heavily edited “results” leading us to believe that we’re only a few credit card transactions away from having our body hangups banished for good.

But it’s all BS.

Even if all this breakthrough technology worked, which the majority does not, we’d still be forced to feel inadequate by the media in other ways – Because how else are these guys going to sell us stuff that we don’t actually need? 

The advertising companies are the worst at playing on our insecurities and creating monsters out of them.  As if we didn’t have enough demons of our own!

Instead of embracing our true selves, we’re constantly trying to change our appearance and thanks to a whole host of influencers, we’re all after cookie-cutter results.

We’ve forgotten how to think and want for ourselves, we just get swept up in lust for the “next best thing.”  We want what “she” has or “he” has and are striving for perfection that doesn’t exist.

So we’ve learnt ways in which to bend reality to some degree to get what we desire – From likes on Facebook and Instagram to bagging a date on Tinder or even nailing that job interview.

Now, I’m not saying all millennials are internet addicted, narcissistic “snowflakes” that are too self-obsessed to quit posting doctored selfies or “perfect posts” and start living in the real world.  But I think we all struggle to some degree to fully accept our own reality.  Because of this, we have cleverly crafted our own way of manipulating the truth.

You know, my single greatest reason for disappointments and annoyance these days is when people make out to be someone that they are not.  

BUT the truth is, If we are manipulating our own truth how can we be surprised when others manipulate theirs?

I’ve heard a few times over the years that what annoys you most in other people does so because it is a direct reflection of something in you that you dislike. 

So it would appear that I am in fact solely responsible for the annoyance and disappointment I feel about others.  But to be honest with you I find this new realisation quite comforting.  We have no control over others, but we do have control over ourselves and the ability to change what we don’t like.  

So I guess it’s time for me to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

As the saying goes “you should never judge a book by its cover” and now more than ever, we shouldn’t take everything at face value…. including our own reflection that stares back at us.

ROUTINE RULING

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We all need some sort of routine in our lives.  It’s what keeps us on track and keeps our lives in order so we know where we are at.  It can be a comfort blanket and a safety net when things go awry because living without structure will cause chaos in the long run.

Routine is important for every living creature: from the very basic feeding and sleeping times of babies to the more complex routines of parents, entrepreneurs or even athletes. 

Depending on our boundaries and goals, our routines will vary.

But what happens when your routine starts ruling you?

What happens when your own routine that you put in place no longer serves you and in fact feels like it’s working against you?   

Instead of keeping you in order and allowing you to get more shit done certain habits you’ve added to your routing actually end up hindering you.

There are so many personal development books, youtube videos and audios out there offering us a crazy amount of ideas to streamline our days or turn our mornings into miracles ones! 

I’ve personally got self-development books falling off my shelves and have tried MANY of their suggestions to try and restore order to my life and to live and work in the most productive and enjoyable way possible.  But it became apparent a few years ago that taking on board all of these suggestions and trying to work them into a schedule was actually becoming less of a help and resulting in a hell of a lot more stress!

I’m an addictive person, it doesn’t take me long to get a hook on something and then I totally overdo it!

For example:

The gym and its fitness classes have been my crutch for the last 8 years.  I remember starting out as a makeup artist and it was bloody tough! 

I used to sit on a bar stool in the kitchen, endlessly searching on my laptop for opportunities.  I’d be emailing and calling agents (to no avail,) writing out profiles on various film agency sites, scouring the entire internet for jobs, refreshing and reloading job boards every minute, searching for photographers to collaborate with and build my portfolio… the list was endless! 

It was hard enough to get work and then when I did it was usually unpaid or expenses only.   

As much as I was driven and determined, weeks and weeks of this along with a lot of the actual work I eventually did get being of no help to advance my career, I was running out of steam and my enthusiasm was dwindling.

I figured I had to get up for something in the morning to face the same monotonous internet search and cold outreach day after day and this is when I added a morning spin class to my routine.

Getting up and achieving something, even if it wasn’t work, felt good! 

So I added to my spin classes and built up a portfolio of classes – body pump, body attack, body combat and fat burn classes.  Sometimes I would stay in the gym for hours and do 3 back to back classes just so I felt like I’d accomplished something and was moving forward. 

This is where my healthy addition to my routine become a rather unhealthy addiction.

Eventually, I did start getting decent work in but if it got in the way of my gym classes and I couldn’t go to them I’d feel like shit.  My gym routine actually soon and the opposite effect on my wellbeing and began impacting on my thoughts towards other areas of my life.

I’d lost the balance… if I ever had it in the first place!

For the record, balance has never been my strong point, it hasn’t really been in my vocabulary! 

8 years down the line and I still struggle with the same damn gym battle only I’ve added a whole host of other things to the checklist that I “need” to do thus putting me in a further state of unrest, overwhelm and pure anxiety at trying to fit it all in!

Again it comes down to CUTTING IT RIGHT BACK! 

It’s super hard in today’s world with access to so much information at our fingertips that it’s so easy to fill our heads with a checklist miles long of things we “ought” to be doing.

We easily pick up ideas from others on social media, via blog posts or out and about in the real world and then try and incorporate them into our own already jam-packed schedule.

We should be in the gym, we should be playing sport, we should be taking cookery classes.

We should be setting aside time to work on our personal development, we should be taking care of our families, doing fun things with our friends, finding the person we’re supposed to spend the rest of our lives with.

We should be taking courses, we should be expanding our minds, we should be excelling in our careers, we should be achieving in our work, we should be finding time to cook healthy meals from scratch, we should be earning good money, we should always be going the extra mile for clients.

We should be rising early to make the best start to the day and we should be putting the hours into our business long into the night to succeed.

We should be running bubbles baths, we should be having “me” time, we should be reading novels each night for downtime, we should be getting early nights, we should find time for meditating.

We should do charitable work, we should constantly be bettering ourselves and we should always be available to help others.

We should walk our dogs, we should take our kids to and from school, we should take them to the park, we should spend quality time with them.

We should set an example.

We should “have it together.”

We should be able to push everything on our minds to one side at the drop of a hat and we should be able to pick back up again exactly where we left off at a moment’s notice.

Replace the “we” with an “I” and that’s the gist of my thought process.

In a single day after ambling about online or out and about, I notice what others are doing and feel that I “should” be doing the same to be living a “wholesome and happy life” just like they LOOK like they are living.

You’d think with a to-do list that long it gives you a higher chance to achieve more but tallying up an ambitious list of things to do does nothing but completely paralyse you to actually do nothing from the sheer overwhelm of it all.

I’m not a robot or superhuman.  Neither are you.

What I fail to remind myself is that we’re all on our very own journey and have built our own unique lives based around our thoughts, ideals and goals for our future.

We sometimes let the things we see distract us from our own path.

I think there are very few times I stop to look at the bigger picture and make the right decision as to whether adding “this and that” to my routine is really right for ME and MY end goals and if it will compliment MY journey.

This is an area which I REALLY need to work on.  Like most of the posts so far it supports my current journey of going back to basics.  To find the root, to work out where the hell I actually set out to go in the first place!

So.

My mission for this week is to remember who I am and where I am going and think thrice about taking on that extra task.  Is it really going to compliment MY life?  Is it in-line with my belief system?  Is it really going to help me to get to where I am going? 

If it’s a “No” to any of those… then I ain’t giving it the time of day!

DREAM TIME

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I stopped dreaming, that’s where it went wrong.

As life picked up pace and workload and social engagements filled my calendar, my quiet thinking time got less and less. 

I stopped allowing myself the necessary time and space to dream.

I was hurtling through life and energised to build my business and get the most out of everything. 

I was on a mission to put myself out there as much as I could.

I had a one-track mind – to be the best that I could be, to do all that I was capable of and to learn as much as I could. 

I was striving for success on a daily basis, and at the time… I was loving it!

Everything was new, exciting and I was wide-eyed at the scope to utilise all my skills, explore all my abilities, learn from all around me and build something that was all mine.

I conditioned myself to say a huge fat “YES” to everything and just figure out how to do it later. 

I worked hard and celebrated harder when I pulled shit off.

I was untouchable, surfing the waves of wonder and I had completely turned my life around.

I was light years on from that broken 21 year old who spent her Christmas that year in rehab.

I was 100% not going back to the painful years I had put myself through and I had no desire to!

I finally had a vision.  I had a purpose.

I knew with every bone in my body that if I could dream it and I then believed it, I would 100% achieve it.

And I was right. 

Whatever I put out to the universe, it came back at me two-fold.

I “kept my side of the street clean” – made sure I was doing the right things and the rewards just kept coming.  Work came in, ideas materialised, I bumped into the right people and I was presented with amazing opportunities. 

I was content, I was vibrating at a high frequency and life just flowed.

Some years down the line, however, those waves took hold of me.  Somewhere along the way while I was riding my ‘surfboard of glory,’ I got knocked off.  Those waves took me under, churned me around and have spat me back out on the beach – exhausted, weak and half drowned.

I veered onto the wrong channel and I’ve certainly been vibrating at the wrong frequency for some time now.

I didn’t go on holiday for a couple of years when starting my business, I didn’t need to.  I was too excited about making shit happen here and I didn’t want to go away and miss a thing!

Mini breaks and holidays soon became a great little recharge zone for my mind and body. 

In the early years, they really gave me a chance to come away from it all, gain some perspective, work out what needs to change and what I need to do. 

I used to come back rejuvenated, with a clear plan of action and ready to put it into practice!

Over the last couple of years though it seems my mental rubbish and negative thinking has been sneaking itself into my luggage. 

I’ll gain a fraction of the perspective I used to and then have to busy myself abroad to distract my mind from whirring around anxiously with the same problems and not finding a solution.

It’s pretty shit being miserable on a beach.

I’ll recharge marginally and have some ideas but then as soon as I’m back, my familiar surroundings trigger old behaviours and thinking and I’m back staring at the same shit heap with no plan how to tackle it.

I’ve got a trip coming up to Israel in a couple of weeks which I am (now) mega excited about! 

It nearly didn’t happen. 

I was supposed to be going this week but a work opportunity presented itself and then I felt I didn’t deserve a holiday anyway so was going to forfeit the flights and just get on with things here.  THANKFULLY after a few days and a bit of soul searching I came to realise that I needed to get away now more than ever!

I’m going to be just me in another country. 

Apart from the clothes in my luggage and some toiletries, that’s all I’ll be taking from here.

3 days alone, just me, myself and I.  I will do as I feel, feel as I do and hopefully rediscover what lights me up.