What’s holding you back?

We all have a choice in this life. It might not seem it at times, especially when things are difficult, but we do.

Recognising that we are not victims and we can choose differently has been very liberating to me. And I am not talking about genuine victims of abuse here, I am talking about when we think we are a victim of our circumstance, our job or our relationship. When we think they are permanent, and we cannot do anything about it.  Even though sometimes I believe I have been backed into a corner with no where to go, that hasn’t really been the case. The difference is that the choice I would like to make is not the “easy” one. It may have an impact on friendships, family members or finances. But not making a choice has an impact too. And ultimately, is a choice in itself.  

If we have the power to shape our lives and react in accordance to that, then things can change sooner than we thought. They can change for the better.

Myself and a few friends have been in situations in the last 6 months where we have been at complete burn-out level and genuinely thought “this is the pace of my life now forever, there is no other choice” when in reality we can step back and say, “this is not serving me anymore, this isn’t what I want my life to be like and I want my health to be a priority.”

When we are in the thick of burn-out we cannot see options or opportunities because we are living in survival mode. It is so important to carve a small amount of time to relax and wind down so that ideas can find their way into your conscious mind.

I could not see other ways out whilst I was mid burn-out and I was ashamed of saying “I can’t do it anymore” because I could be judged for not coping or could maintain a modern life.

Well our minds aren’t modern, they are still primal, and that is the reality of what we are dealing with.

I know you are busy. People are always busy. But once a day, have a bath, or go for a short walk, or sit in silence for 5-10 minutes. Do something to change your state. Lap the office a few times if you need too, but do not stay in that space. Working harder and faster and longer will not change the way you feel. It will add to your problem.

Only when I regularly carved out “quiet time” did I start to look at my options and see other roads I could take.

What is it costing you? To stay as you are with no change. Who is benefiting from it? You’re not. It doesn’t change over night and that is why the small quiet moments are so important. They are what move you forward without even realising. The quiet time is what allows you to listen to your gut.

In this modern world, don’t let the to-do list numb your instincts. Drop off some tasks, get quiet and feel what it is you actually want.

Endless Opportunities

If you want them!

So I am excited today because a few things have happened that have solidified my belief in the law of attraction. What you put out energy wise, will come back to you and some really strange things have happened this week…

Firstly, I have followed a Yoga teacher who is brilliant for a while and she now teaches at the college I have just enrolled in, not only that, she teaches a class straight after mine ends AND students get to attend for FREE!!!

Secondly, I have read a few books on finance and money in the hopes to learn more about it and manage it better. I was listening to Tony Robbins recently and Jen Sincero and they were talking about limiting beliefs around money and how we have thoughts about money placed upon us by our parents or carers and they stick. Especially the negative ones. So on my drive to College I thought, I am going to order Tony’s book Money and work through the exercises and see if there are any finance courses locally that I can go on. Fast forward to being at home, scrolling through the Gram and I came across an advert for FREE finance seminars being held near me in a weeks time (on a day I am actually free, which is unheard of) by RICH DAD Education. I have read the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and it was brilliant, so to get a free seminar near me by a person in Finance that I actually understand and am interested in is just AMAZEBALLS.

Thirdly, I have been thinking about getting back in touch with my creative side as when I was young, up until college, I did acting, singing and dancing and I loved them. They were my creative outlet. I stopped doing Dance last year due to crippling anxiety and I have really missed it and been thinking about it non stop. THEN when I took my daughter to school for her first week I recognised a woman stood in the playground and I have since remembered that it was one of my dance teachers from when I was 13! Reminding me of the thing I love, and that I could connect with her to see what is around locally still. Also, there is a girl in my counselling course that is also a singing teacher! So again, someone to connect with and who may get me closer to the fun I have been missing.

Lastly, I know there have been alot this week!! I started to look into volunteering so that I can try a few job roles out and the very first job at the top of the page was one I have been really interested in for a while now! So I have applied.

Yes this week is a good week, but I feel these opportunities are always around us and depending on our mood determines whether we really see them and use them.

This week has honestly been Chicken Oriental.

So what I want to say to you guys is, take a look at your thoughts and see if your week is in alignment with those. Even if your thoughts are negative, are you noticing that it is one bad thing after another? If so, change those thoughts up!

Our thoughts determine our actions. Think good ones.

Independent female lead

Whilst travelling to london with friends a few weeks ago, we were bonding over our love for Beyonce, talking about her Homecoming show on Netflix and this nicely segwayed us into the topic of Feminism.

Growing up I had a skewed vision of Feminism as I wasn’t sure what it was, but I knew it was linked to the Suffragettes which I had learnt in History. Otherwise my knowlegde was limited, but all I knew is for some reason I thought it was something bad.

As an adult, I know this was likely the media, male influences in my life and other women that didn’t know alot about it either that molded my view of it.

I didn’t realise until only a year or so ago that I am in fact a Feminist and probably have been most of my life. I have always be drawn to the strong female leads in my life.

It started with Britney, Maria and Jennifer Aniston. I never liked bands and I did not have any posters of male singers on my walls. And as I have gotten older some of my favourite films are about independant female leads, Like Anne Hathaway in “The Intern”, Cameron Diaz and leslie Mann in “The other women”, “Girls Trip” with Tiffany Haddish and Jada Pinkett-Smith and Amy Schmur in “I feel Pretty”. It is every where I look.

Some of my best mentors have been women. Also, as a kid I couldn’t pick a Disney Princess I liked most, I loved Aladdin and Lion King. But now, with the likes of Brave, Mulan and Tiana, I can’t move for Feminist roles to love!! You go girls! Honestly, knowing there are women out there kicking ass gets me super hyped, even if they are cartoons.

So back to Beyonce, I get fired up by her song Flawless featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adich. If you have not heard this song then go onto youtube and listen to it RIGHT NOW. Then type Chimamanda TED TALK into Youtube and watch that too! The one titled “We should all be Feminist”. You’re Welcome.

In the song Flawless Chimamanda says….

We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls “you can have ambition, but not too much” You should aim to be successful but to successful otherwise you will threaten the man. Because I am female I am expected to aspire to marriage, I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage but we don’t teach boys the same?

We raise girls to see each other as competitors, not for jobs or accomplishements, which I think would be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”

Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”

OH MY GOD! IS THIS TRUTH OR WHAT?!?! I got goosebumps when I first heard it because I couldn’t believe how bang on she was.

So me and my friends spoke about all the things that are said to us, but are not said to men, for example…

  • When are you going to find a boyfriend? You poor thing.
  • When are you going to have children, I would like Grandkids you know!
  • Don’t call yourself a feminist it’s aggressive
  • You should have his tea on the table when he gets in
  • The women looks after the baby, not the man
  • The man is ther breadwinner
  • You can’t have a baby and a career

These are a very small amount of examples as there are hundreds more where girls are put under the pressure of societys expectations. It’s exhausting. If I had a quid for everytime I was told I HAD to have another child because it just wasn’t fair on my daughter, I would be a rich lady! These statements limit us and damage us. At the end of the day we should all be Feminist, men and women. We should all be passionate about equal rights!

The reason women apologise so much is because we have never been taught we can have it. What gets said about a women who likes a lot of sex? What would be said about a women who wanted to make a lot of money? We tell our little girls off for being bossy, but not our boys. This all has to stop if we want change for our future. There are so many women out there with good ideas, with great skills and who could be amazing CEO’S, Thought Leaders and Entrepenures, lets give them a chance.

Shout out to all the women just trying to live their best lives!!!

The reason I quit my job….

With nothing to go to.

Yes, part of me was doing a Rachel in Friends when she needed “The Fear” to leave the Coffee House and the other half of me was following my internal compass directing to the exit signs.

First and foremost, I love all the people I worked with and the Job I was in was something I enjoyed very much for 7 years, but over the last year I entirely lost the energy for it. I was feeling tired at work, no longer challenged, lacking direction and purpose.

The time would never have been right and I think I talked myself into staying for a good year or so, but I ran out of ways to encourage myself to stay.

I was listening to the Rise Podcast recently with Rachel Hollis and she was interviewing Ken Coleman and he talked about the 5 most common reasons for burnout/buildup in the workplace and they were:

  • No Passion for the job – so a job you are good at, but you don’t love it.
  • A toxic environment – whether thats a bad leader or culture or gossip in the workplace.
  • Overwhelm – where you are valuable and therefore you are put upon time after time and constantly trying not to drown.
  • Underappreciated – Never given feedback or encouragement. The number 1 thing that employees look for in a role is reward and recognition over pay.
  • Bordem – this is common in high achievers.

This really resonated with me. I no longer felt like I was growing in the role.

It was a stable job with good future prospects but how good can those prospects be if my heart isn’t in it?

Some friends or aquientences have said I am brave for leaving, but I don’t see it as that. I have 8 years worth of experience and that doesn’t go the day I walk out the door, it stays with me and it is something I can return to at any moment. It is a calculated risk.

I promised myself in my last blog that I would do things that made me happy and so leaving my job was one of them.

For years people say they are unhappy but stay at a job or in an unhealthy relationship because they don’t know any different. It is a long life and I do not want to get to the end of my days and think “oh I wish I had done that job instead.”

In Bonnie Wares book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, the number 1 regret from all the terminally ill people she cared for and spoke with was “I wish I had lived life on my own terms and did less of what others expected of me.” This hit me like a tonne of bricks, because how many of us are doing things because someone expects it from us or we believe society expects it from us.

Like Carrie says in sex and the city, we can write our own rules.

So now I am helping my little girl into school and have started a new college course. Over the coming months I am going to try out a few new job roles and get involved on some projects that may inspire me or bring new energy to the table.

It’s a whole new chapter, one that will have ups and downs but I am excited for whatever comes next.

In search of Happy

I heard Jim Kwik (Brain trainer and learning expert) tell a story once about a girl who read 30 books in one day. As part of his job as a coach and teacher he teaches people speed reading and how to read a book a week, so 30 books in 1 day was insane to him!

When he asked her what she was reading and why, she said “my mum has been diagnosed with cancer and I have to save her”.

As you can imagine this stopped Jim in his tracks but it proved the point that when the stakes are high enough, we can do anything and will do anything in search of answers.

I have been on a search for 2 years now and the process has ramped up alot in recent months. I am looking for happy.

Now this may seem morbid or depressing and for those of you who know me may think “really? you are always happy”. But I don’t mean happiness on the surface level, I mean happiness on a deeper level.

What is happy anyway? How would you describe it?

The opposite to happy is unhappy and therefore I am not talking about depression here as that is an entirely different topic and one that needs far more support and attention.

I mean, I lost myself and forgot what made me happy. Who, to my core was I? And how do I find her again?

Well I have been looking for these answers in hundreds of books and for those of you who are further along the journey than me or are particularly spiritual, I know what you will say, “The answers do not lie within the book Ruby, they lie within yourself” (in my best Mr Miyagi voice).

I know this. But what the books are giving me is guidance, mentorship and a better understanding of the human mind and how it works. I may not discover something in every book I read, but about every 2nd or 3rd book something will resonate with me or trigger me and start the process of understanding and reflection.

I tell everyone I am having a quarter life crisis, and in some ways I am, but I also know (from 10 months worth of therapy) that I am thinking about the bigger picture, wondering what it’s all about and searching for happy as a result of life altering changes. Like having a baby, loosing a loved one, health scares and moving house. As Esther Perel Psychotherapist says, “these big events in our life, especially ones that threaten our mortality, force us to question, is this it? who am I? and could I be happier?”

As you may have guessed one of her books definitely gave me the “Ah-ha” moment. I am starting with a long reading list and I have signed up to a new course which I have mentioned on my instagram @this_time_in_my_life. I am also doing small things that make me happy like go to a dance class, exercise even if I don’t feel like it as I know I won’t regret it.

So my quest continues, I am going to change my environment to one that is more positive, I am attempting to form good habits to replace some bad ones and I am listening to my body when it is telling me, enough! Along the way I will document my progress, pitfalls and all.

Let me know if you want to come along for the ride, or if indeed you already found the gold at the end of the rainbow, it might save me a few years and a tonne of money!

I’ll Be Happy When…

In a time where everything is instant, it is easy to get frustrated when things don’t come to you as quick as Amazon Prime.

When it comes to our Goals we want the quick fix, the fast lane, the que jump. The pill that will make us slimmer or the winning lottery ticket.

But as Lisa Nichols says, “You can’t Google download this”.

I have caught myself thinking “I will be happy when…. I achieve X, Y or Z”, and actually the process leading to it can then become frustrating or dissapointing, especially if it hasn’t all happened in the time frame I had hoped.

If you find yourself thinking “I’ll be happy when I get the house, the car, the job, the family or the baby ” Just sit back and ask yourself why that is?

So many of us are living in the future and it is causing alot of stress, anxiety and depression. We are also pinning alot of responsibility on that one thing to provide us with happiness.

The most common one for us ladies is “I’ll be happy when I lose a stone” or “When I can fit back in those jeans i’ve kept for 3 years”. Why are we waiting to be happy?

I was curious, so, I looked into it.

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits explains more about goals in his book.

Goals are great, but we should be more focused on the systems. Systems are the processes that lead us to the Goal. A goal cannot be achieved without a system, but a system survives without the Goal.”

He talks about how being totally Goal orientated can lead to “either/or thinking” (which is dangerous Psychological territory) Either, I achieved the goal and I am a success, or I didn’t and therefore I am a failure.

Can you imagine how many of us feel like this when we don’t lose weight that week? or didn’t get to the gym like we told ourselves we would? By mis-managing our expectations and unrealistic time frames, we are beating ourselves up over and over again and delaying our happiness.

He further explains “When you fall in love with the process instead of the product, you don’t have to wait to be happy”

 Concentrate on how much you enjoyed your meal instead of the calories, focus on how you feel after you’ve been for a run and how much energy you have instead of how hard it might be. Enjoy the process.

I heard John C Maxwell say “it isn’t the day the person graduates that they have finally achieved something, it is the day they sign up for the course.”

So it isn’t the day you lose the 3 stone, it is the day you decided to do something about it.

There is no quick fix to happiness and no relationship, job or house is going to give that to us. We are responsible for our own happiness and we don’t have to wait for it.

There is good in everyday, the hot cup of coffee in the morning, when the kids go to bed on time, a hot bath or a laugh with friends.

Enjoy the present as really that is all we have. The past is gone and we have no idea what the future holds. Give yourself permission to be happy, and focus on the small achievements everyday instead of the big ones.

What Money Can Buy

So on Wednesday my husband and I had an extra hour as our daughter wanted to stay at Nanny’s for tea. Winner!

So, we thought it would be nice to go for a drink and a game of Pool. That then led to a cheeky curry….a Wednesday night deal for a tenner as well! What more could you want?

So, we were sat there talking about taking our new habits seriously and started feeling guilty about the fact we had then cheated on our diets. And it got me thinking….

What did my £10 curry deal actually buy me? Apart from a glorious Passanda and Garlic Naan?

Time.

Despite the guilt, I actually felt pretty good and I wondered Why?

Because that £10 had bought me a lot more. It bought me a night off the dishes, it bought me an extra hour to do my own thing and it bought me time away from the cooker.

Now when I went home to see my little lady and put her to bed, I could do so without thinking “Get to bed god damn you! No, not another Bing story, Mummy is starving and hasn’t had tea yet.” So, I was chilled instead of rushing through bed time thinking of how much I needed to do.

I realised this was a nice segway from my last post about all the plates we spin, and how sometimes we do need to go out for food to save us an extra point on the “To Do List” or pay for a window cleaner instead of doing it ourselves.

The reason people pay £10 per load to the Ironing Queen or, £12 per hour for the cleaner once a week, or £20 to the Gardener, is to give themselves something much more precious.

More Time.

Extra time with the kids, extra time on the side hustle, extra time to read or relax.

They say money can’t buy time, but who are they anyway?

Soooo many plates!

As women we often describe our day to day lives as spinning plates.

There is the house plate, the work plate, the dog walking plate, the childcare plate, the remembering and buying gifts for everyone’s birthday’s plate and of course there is the Christmas plate.

It really can get too much and trying to juggle and spin all those plates is exhausting!

Well recently, I dropped all the plates and said I don’t want this life, I cannot continue at this level of output with no help.

Now some women have this nailed! So bravo to those who don’t even try to spin all the plates as they realise it is a trap! But I am speaking to those of us who believe these things are our responsibility, or have been told it is. Those of you who don’t think you are allowed to ask for help and have to carry this weight on your own, those of you who are people pleasers, like me.

I like to say I am an ex-people pleaser now, but it is still a work in progress as I have been one for so many years. The important take away from this is:

Even though society expects this from you, YOU are the person choosing to do it all.

Now I used to get really angry at this and think “No I am not choosing this never ending stress cycle, I don’t get any help and it is his fault or her fault.” I had no idea I was CHOOSING this life. The anger you feel isn’t actually at the external thing or person, it is at yourself, for not speaking up.

I didn’t ask for help and I didn’t openly explain that it wasn’t working for me, I just passive aggressively dug my way through it. AND FAILED.

So I smashed all the plates and re-set the bar with new expectations and boundaries. Something I was not clear on before.

Do you think men have any of these phrases said to them?

• God how do you work full time and look after the kids?

• How do you work and keep the house clean and walk the dog

  • How are you coping with the Dad guilt?  
  • You have to have another child, that is just how it is. How could you do leave your child alone? 

No they don’t!

What’s worse, is that it is other women saying this to each other!!!! What the actual hell?! We are all struggling to stay above water and yet we are dishing out the judgey statements to one another!!!

I HATE to admit it but I have given a few judgey statements in my time. Mostly before I actually had all the plates and didn’t realise what it was like. But it is wrong and I apologise to any of you if I have added this pressure to your shoulders, it isn’t cool.

We all know what it is like ladies so let’s try and support each other through this.

I am no longer afraid to say that I want an equal life and relationship. I want straight down the middle shared tasks and responsibility and frankly we shouldn’t have to ask for it!

  I am no longer going to apologise for what I need or what I expect. I am no longer going to hold myself back in my career or sacrifice my life to support someone else’s. I have dreams of my own you know. We should all be supporting each other, in our relationships and friendships. No one person’s life is of more value than another’s.

  People will judge you when you start to take back your life, and it will be hard, but my god will it be worth it.   

What aren’t you saying?

In 1955 Psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham created The Johari window. This window is made up of 4 quadrants and is designed to help people understand themselves and others better. You can find the image here: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=the+johari+window&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwify8Gmr-zjAhUIO8AKHcC9Bc8Q_AUIESgB&biw=1366&bih=622#imgrc=G9uayAdAB0SAFM:&spf=1565030091116

The Johari window suggests that there are parts of ourselves that we do not know about but others do. That some areas are hidden. The parts only we know and no one else does, not even our nearest and dearest. It also suggests that there are parts of ourselves not yet discovered by anyone and of course the 4th quadrant is what you and others already know about you.

You may question why it would benefit you to know this? Well the window was created to enable us to understand ourselves better and practice reflection and self-awareness. This therefore improves relationships with ourselves and others.

This is certainly true for me.

The parts of ourselves that we know but never share can often be covered in shame and fear. The mere fact that these things are “secret” breeds the emotion of shame and you are most likely to tell these to a counsellor/therapist or stranger through fear of being judged or rejected by your friends or family.

Even though we know that sharing this information with our loved ones (specifically those who have earned the right to hear it and are your No.1’s) will improve intimacy and deepen relationships, we are still petrified to share it as we believe the opposite will happen.

Firstly, if any of this happened, then you are telling the wrong person. I have a best friend whom I can tell anything, and she knows every inch of the “panes” in my window. When I speak up and tell her something, I feel like I am out on a ledge for the whole world to see and it feels terrifying, but within a matter of minutes she is out there with me saying “me too!”

I am not suggesting you start spilling your private matters for the sake of it, but ask yourself if there is something you need to get off your chest? Is holding this in affecting your well being? Is it holding you back from living at your full potential?

This doesn’t have to be super serious stuff, although for some it will be, but this can be anything that you know about yourself but haven’t said out loud.

Rumi says “ The wound is where the light enters” which refers to looking into your pain, addressing it and accepting it is the way to happiness and fulfilment.

So take inventory and see what you can uncover. Really understanding ourselves and thinking about the things we store up can be painful which is why it stays in the hidden or blind parts of our mind, but addressing it will bring you relief, help you move forward and help you grow.

Can’t skip the hard stuff

What are you going through right now that is hard? What have you walked through in the past and never thought it was possible?

When have you been tested?

Was it a divorce or break-up? Was it grief or a break down? Did you lose your job or fail your degree?

Either way, when you were in the thick of it, did you ever wonder how on earth you were going to get through it?

These are all tests and throughout our lives we will be faced with them. Some will be far harder than others.

As Brene’ Brown says in her book Rising Strong “there is no skipping the messy middle”. There are no easy ways out of the hard stuff and we must have the hard conversations and do the uncomfortable to come out the other side.

But what if this test can become your testimony?

What if this hard time is necessary to get to where you need to go? Like David Goggins who had to go through the pain and suffering and address his childhood trauma to become a Navy SEAL and best-selling author, or like Russell Brand who had to face mental health issues and addiction head on to get to where he is today, or Scott Harrison who overcame addiction, countless closed doors and legal challenge to set up Charity: Water.

Despite the hard times and the tests in their lives, they have gone on to achieve amazing things. This isn’t uncommon. We all love a rags to riches story or one where people have overcome struggle and pursued their dreams regardless.

As Lisa Nichols says “Don’t make me extraordinary to let yourself off the hook”. These people are not extraordinary, they are have overcome challenge like anyone else.

What are you going through right now that can fuel the fire and be your testimony in 10 years’ time?

Remember, you are not alone, the hard times will pass and I’m afraid you can’t skip the messy middle.