Three Short-Cuts for Reinventing Yourself in Record Time

UV dreadlocks

My USP: Hair that glows.

I have just realised that on this day, 19th November 2002 I went on my first date with my husband. And now here I am, 12 years later about to launch my new e-course Reinvent Yourself After Divorce. When we first separated 18 months ago I went through the usual grieving process, drank plenty of wine and cried over romantic movies. Then I went on a sort of journey of self discovery trying to figure out what I wanted to be next. I tried yoga, meditation, mindfulness, Buddhism, alcoholism, counselling, cognitive behaivoural therapy and pills for anxiety. I also tried visualisation, journalling, poetry, drawing cartoons, reading books, joining online communities, and buying online courses.

1) Take This 10 Day e-Course

I then picked all of the best ideas that worked for me and stuck them into a six week programme so that you don’t have to spend eighteen months trying all that stuff. I also realise that not everyone has six weeks to spare either – which is why you can grab the 10 day version for free!

2) Write Down Your Goals

I find that simply just writing ideas down can really help you to focus on changing things in your life. Since I published my Break-Up Bucket List in June 2014 I’ve managed to tick off several more things on the list, including visiting several friends that live far away, made some videos, created an e-course, and been on a foreign holiday. Other things have proved more challenging – like eat more fruit and drink more water. Why is that?!

3) Realise You’re Already Reinvented!

While you’re reinventing yourself it’s also fun to sometimes review the person you used to be.
I’m part of a business network and learning space on Facebook called No Desk Required:  A free mastermind led by freedompreneurs (and soul mates!) Star Khechara and Les-Paul Dawson. On Wednesdays we share what is weird and wonderful about ourselves, to get in touch with our “Unique Selling Point”.
Star says, “When launching a business many people hold back from fully expressing their true selves – especially the weird and quirky parts! We say weird is cool! Your weirdness is what makes you stand out, it’s what makes you different. Your weirdness is your USP!”
It was quite hard to choose a weird thing from my past to share. Should it be my degree in animation, or my career as a hypnotherapist? I opted for announcing that I once had waist-length dreadlocks made of orange and blue wool and glow-in-the-dark beads. I went to techno parties dressed in a UV fairy skirt and silver doc martens. I mean, hey! Who wouldn’t want hair that glows in the dark? Then there was the time that myself and four friends formed a gang of Special Agents called Dangerchix International – but that’s probably a topic for a whole other blog post.
The point is, who did you used to be and who are you going to be next? If you had a Break-Up Bucket List what would be next up for you to try? What sort of a person did you used to be in the past? Leave me a comment and let me know. And don’t censor yourself with a ‘sensible’ answer. What would you do next week or next year if there were no boundaries or limits?
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Meditation for People who Can’t Stop Thinking!

Meditate by Frogarythm on FlickrHave you tried meditation but just feel that you don’t really ‘get it’? Do you sit there searching for a Zen-like calm but within seconds you’re planning your shopping list or analysing the plot of last night’s telly programme?
You are not alone!
I too am challenged in the Zen department!

The Zen Challenge

Although I have a lot of experience with hypnosis I have only got into meditation very recently. In January I began practicing mindfulness with Leo Babauta’s Sea Change program, including a brief mindful meditation each morning. His Zen Habits blog also has plenty of tips and info about meditation. The Sea Change program suggests starting small; meditate for 5 minutes – or 2! But make it a daily habit. I decided to make my habit something I do upon waking up.  I’ve tried breathing, staring at a candle and chanting.
My mind still wandered a little though so then I experimented with listening to guided meditations. Leonie Dawson has a free meditation to listen to here Meditation for Healing.
Then I began going to meditation sessions at my local Buddhist centre. The centre I go to is a big house, not a temple. There is a community of about 8 Buddhists living there. They have a public classroom for meditation and a separate public cafe. The weekly classes include a talk, each one with a different theme. I’ve found it to be very relaxed and informal and it gives me plenty to mull over on the bus home.

Have you got it yet?

Finally, this week I tried using the Headspace Meditation App (a guided meditation and mindfulness app.) Take10 is their free meditation programme that gives you a taste of meditation in just 10 minutes a day for 10 days. Andy from Headspace says, “That’s less than 1% of your day, so even the busiest person can squeeze it in.” The important thing that I learned from this app was that I was trying too hard to meditate. I was sooo concentrating on getting it right and achieving something and doing it correctly – my mind wasn’t relaxed at all! So the blue sky animation really helped me to understand that even on a cloudy day – the blue sky (clear mind) is still there… “Rather than trying to create blue sky, a state of happiness and calm, it’s more a question of sort of setting up a deck chair in the back garden, just sitting back and waiting for the clouds to pass.”

Why bother?

Yes it’s something you learn slowly and progress with over time. So is it worth the effort? I stumbled upon this article Should Meditation be included in the Education of Our Youth?

“Now these students are doing light-years better. In the first year of Quiet Time, the number of suspensions fell by 45 percent. Within four years, the suspension rate was among the lowest in the city. Daily attendance rates climbed to 98 percent, well above the citywide average. Grade point averages improved markedly.”

Meditation is not a quick-fix for my whole life, it is a new habit that I’m forming. But after years of not really ‘getting it’ I think it was Andy at Headspace who finally made me understand.

“Remember that idea of the blue sky, nothing to achieve, nothing to create, it’s all about stepping back and just allowing the mind to unwind, in it’s own time and in it’s own way.” Take 10 programme, from Headspace

Trying too hard

Are you trying too hard? Do you need to let go and just ‘be’? Who’da thought that chilling out could be this difficult?! What have you discovered when you tried meditation? Let me know in the comments below.

PS. I am not an affiliate of Headspace. I just like it!

Thanks to Frogarythm on Flickr for the meditation image.

Learn a quick and easy technique for appreciating the little things in life with this free 10 day e-course.

5 Inspirational Books for the Journey from Lover to Mother

Listography – My Life in Books


Different books may have accompanied you on this journey through life, sometimes just turning up with the right words at the right time. If you reminisce about the books that have made a difference to your life it can sometimes make you see how much you’ve changed over the years.

Today I’m joining in with Kate’s Listography and it was so hard to just pick five books!

1. Wuthering Heights

My passionate and dramatic teenage self was introduced to Heathcliffe and Cathy during one fateful English Literature class. It reassured me that romance should always be crazy and desperate, wild and destructive. I loved it it too much.

“I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.”

2.Women Who Love Too Much

A self-help book for women who think that romance should always be crazy and desperate, wild and destructive. I read this in my twenties and began to understand why so many of my relationships had made me unhappy!

3. The Prophet

If I was only allowed to own one book ever, this would be the one. It’s like a guidebook for life; and poetry for the soul. It makes everything alright and answers some of life’s big questions.

“When love beckons to you follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep.”

This book made Kahlil Gibran the third bestselling poet in the world after William Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.

4.What Mothers Do: especially when it looks like nothing

When I gave birth to my first baby my entire perception of life as we know it completely collapsed and realigned itself into something different. There were a million guidebooks to this strange new territory and author Gina Ford wrestled in my mind with Sheila Kitzinger, Tracy Hogg and Janet Balaskas. Thank goodness for Naomi Stadlen whose sensible book reassured me that I myself was the best childcare guru for my own child. I think this book began to bring me back out of the depths of postnatal depression. It gave me confidence and reassurance.

5.Ramlin Rose: The Boatwoman’s Story

However, you need more than confidence and reassurance to bring up children on a narrowboat. Sheila Stewart’s fictional biography of Rose Ramlin is based on the stories of many real life narrowboat wives. It is a joyous story of struggle and triumph and a unique insight into a part of English culture that no longer exists. It inspired me, entertained me and reminded me what I loved about living on a narrowboat.

So what books defined you so far? If you’d like to take up the Listography challenge write your post with your 5 Books of your Life on your own site and then head to Kate Takes 5 blog to link up.

Inspire yourself! Use creative writing to issue a suggestion to your subconscious mind in this free 10 day e-course.

How to Take Charge of All Your To Do Lists

Productivity, To Do lists and goal setting can all sound very dull and business-like sometimes. If like me, your desk is littered with sticky post-it notes and paper To Do lists then this brilliant tip from Leonie Dawson could just change your life, and open up a world of possibilities.

The one thing I’ve been dreading on my own To Do list was to begin recording training videos for the new e-course I’ve written. This is a real challenge if you’re camera-shy like I am. This weekend I asked Star Khechara to help me overcome this problem. I hope you’ll agree that in this new video I am more confident than I was in my last video! (How to Vlog.)

It’s still a skill that I need to practice though so please do watch this three minute video and support me and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Thanks 🙂

Get the: 2014 Create Your Amazing Year Workbook, Planner and Calendar now!

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Click to Tweet: “This is 2014 Madam! Anything is possible!” via @boat_wife http://ctt.ec/aMN3d+

Warning: This idea could make you happy

Patient AcceptanceThey say that life begins at 40 and recently I realised that perhaps it’s because by the time you’re 40 you’ve known at least one or two people who have died too young. You get to a certain age and realise that not everyone enjoys the privilege of growing old. So maybe that’s why in their 40’s some people have a good go at making their dreams come true.

Yesterday I had a perfect day. I didn’t know it was going to be perfect but I did hope that it would be good. I started the day by sticking a post-it note on the bathroom mirror that said, ‘I love you.’ The second one says, ‘How can I make you happy today?’ (These are ideas from You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay.) It made me cringe to do it and it makes me cringe to write it, because I’m embarrassed by the thought of such airy-fairy new age love-yourself stuff. After all, most people think that kind of thing doesn’t work, right?

But the reason I’m sharing it here is because I think that little thing made a difference that day.

Admittedly I already had quite a nice day planned. Let me tell you what I did yesterday.

  • I began the day with a mindful meditation. (Never tried this before.)
  • I had a pub lunch with an old friend. We took her kids and my kids – most of them were dressed as pirates! We all laughed and had fun.
  • I treated myself to a massage and manicure as a late birthday present to myself.
  • I decided to start painting again and bought some watercolours and a sketchpad.
  • I spontaneously bought myself a colourful bunch of flowers.
  • When I got home I listened to Perfect Day by Lou Reed, whilst cooking myself one of my favourite meals. I had some glasses of my favourite wine.
  • I watched On the Road [DVD] something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. (I love the book.)

Why am I sharing this with you? Because strangely it was a new idea to me to organise a perfect day for myself. It happened almost by accident, but just asking myself that question in the morning, ‘What can I do to make you happy today?’ made me think about the answer. I was lucky enough to be in a position to give myself things that made me happy. I’ve spent a lot of my life wishing that others would make me happy. This day I experimented with being my own best friend. I wouldn’t say that I loved myself yet, but this was quite a successful first date. I might even agree to see me again…

Stick that question on your mirror tomorrow and see what you surprise yourself with!

Flowers, for me? From me? Thank you!

Flowers, for me? From me? Thank you!

Top 5 personal achievements of 2013

Take time to dreamTowards the end of last year I allowed myself some time to reflect upon the year that had passed and plan for the year ahead with this free workbook created by Susannah Conway: Unravelling the Year Ahead.  My top three goals were to pass my driving test, publish my book and to create and sell an e-course. It’s tempting to feel disheartened that I’ve not completed any of these but it’s more life affirming to celebrate that I did do my best!

So this year….

1. I didn’t give up on driving!

I learned, I practiced, I took some tests and then I gave it a rest for a while because there was a lot going on in my life. But I didn’t give up! After we moved I found a new instructor and I’m now learning again, gaining in confidence and in 2014 I will get my driving licence.

2. Publishing professionals like my book!

I’ve not given up on writing my memoir either. This year I spoke to agents, publishers and authors about the book I am writing: The Real Life of a Narrowboat Wife. I was told the idea is good, the writing is good, it just needs more time dedicated to it.

3. I launched a free e-course

I’ve written two e-courses, started this new blog, made my first vlog and launched a free e-course. I’m well on my way to building the new business that I dreamed of.

4. Taking care of myself

This was last on my list for too many years. This year I’ve started meditation classes and yoga. I also drink far far less wine than I did this time last year.

5. Moved house

This one was huge. I left behind 13 years of narrowboat life and the identity that it gave me being part of that community. I’ve embraced running water, central heating and all mod-cons in a Devonshire cottage closer to my family. Making a big change is scary but sometimes you’ve just got to feel the fear and do it anyway.

What were your personal achievements this year? It’s healthy to congratulate yourself.

Join in with Kate Takes 5 Listography this week.

Wish them happiness

So, I went to another Buddhist meditation class; this is now the second time I’ve been. This time there were a lot less people, which was interesting because we got to ask questions of the Buddhist monk, during his talk. This week’s theme was ‘Wish them happiness.’

What is deep happiness?

He explained that much of the happiness we experience on a day to day basis is a temporary happiness: like what you might gain from eating a slice of cake. This kind of happiness comes from external sources; food, addictions, relationships et cetera. As I understood it, deep happiness then is something that cannot be affected by external sources. It doesn’t fade when the last bite of cake is eaten!

How do you get it?

Of course that was our next question. You will be pleased to know that the Buddhist monk did reveal to us how to attain deep happiness: Wish deep happiness on others. Wish them happiness. The more you wish others happiness the happier you will be.

Feathers

He said that when we are seeking these external sources of happiness it is like we are trying to cover the ground with leather: Instead of wearing shoes. This reminded me of an episode of Fingerbobs: A beautiful and mellow children’s program from the 1970’s. “Yoffy” would tell a story using a selection of paper finger puppet animals, such as Finger Mouse.

I remember one episode where he told the story of the town where people loved to dance, but they had no shoes. Shoes hadn’t been invented yet. The land was very stony and hard. Whenever the people wanted to dance they had to lay down a carpet of feathers to dance upon. Eventually somebody came up with the idea of tying feathers to their feet, and then the people could dance wherever they liked!

Was Yoffy a Buddhist?

Yoffy was played by a Canadian actor called Rick Jones. Was this bearded and bald-headed children’s presenter a gentle and wise Buddhist, sharing his wisdom with the children of the 1970’s? Apparently not. According to Wikipedia:

“At the end of the series Jones was so sick of making the show that he destroyed the finger puppets while the camera was still rolling.”