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

clutter-entrepreneur-mental-health

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?