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Why not just be you?

April 26, 2017

Just be yourself they kept saying. It’s not difficult. You just have to be you. How hard can it be?

Of course I thought, that’s it, I just need to be more me. But which bit of me do I need to be more of?

We say this don’t we? Assume that we need to be ‘more’ of something. When it comes to being yourself, which ‘more’ do you need? More open, forgiving or understanding? More empathic, bold or fearless. Perhaps it’s more dynamic, go getting and generally deciding not to tolerate, whatever it is that you’re tolerating too much of.

Or maybe I ask myself, is this being more about being less? Is it about being quieter, thoughtful more measured and less impulsive? Whatever it is, I need to be more of it, in order to be myself.

How does that work? How can I feel like I need to be more or less than I am in order to be myself? How difficult can it be, just to be yourself? What is it others see, that we can so easily miss in ourselves? When all is said, the notion of being more of yourself, implies something missing. How can there be more of something missing ?

And indeed, if there were to be something missing, what would that ‘something’ be? What is it that other people want? What do they want to see? Perplexing? Confusing?

Of course, because if we think we are being ourselves, why are some people telling us to be just that? The thing is, there really is nothing missing, there is nothing wrong, there is no more, there is no less. What there is, is a willingness or potential lack of, to show this to other people.

Several years ago, I was doing some professional training. I’d been on the course for several week long blocks and was about to undertake my final assessment, which was a presentation using all the coaching skills I’d learnt over the previous weeks, the chance to showcase and be graded upon all the coachy stuff I’d learnt.

For those of you who know me, presenting, whether it be video or group, where there is little or no interaction, freaks the shit out of me. And this was just that! I’d prepared, I knew my stuff and yet, despite the fact that I knew these people, I was still pretty wound up.

I did my thing, I presented. I nailed it. Infact, I ran over time, not bad for a girl who didn’t want to be doing this. I got my feedback. Well done my tutor said. Couple of pointers, but on the whole, a great job. I smiled and turned to the other tutor. “Well done Katherine, I enjoyed that. I think that’s perhaps the first time I’ve really seen you show up as you. It was nice to see.”


You know when that cartoon ‘wah wah wah’ plays? You know that time when the smile freezes to your face and tears are a nano second away from totally destroying you? That. That was literally how I felt.

Crushed doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Now this bloke is an experienced coach and trainer, so I’m going to assume that he wasn’t actually being a total nob, trampling all over my heart and crushing my feelings to feed his ego. I’m going to assume that his intentions were to wake me up. To get me to question how I was actually showing up

You see people can smell a lack of authenticity a mile off. I say smell because it’s an intangible. An incongruence or a mismatch in behaviour. The typical say one thing and do another.

Now before I label myself as some phoney or fake here, which believe me is how I felt at the time. I’m going to say that we all do this at some time or another. We all fail to show up as who we ‘really’ are or to trot out the old one; “The best possible version of ourselves.”

I think what’s interesting is what makes us behave like this. What makes us think that it’s not ok for other people to see us whole? What would happen if people did see us for who we really are? When I ask that question, people instinctively respond from a place which makes them feel like they have something to protect. The ‘What if ..” The part of you that assumes you’re not quite good enough that you don’t measure up. Try it and see, ask yourself the question and I’ll bet my Rolex with the ticking second hand, that you don’t immediately come from the place that thinks that you’re so incredible, that however you show up, there’s nothing to worry about.

What if you didn’t have to worry about showing up as you? What if you didn’t have to think or second guess what someone else was thinking? What if you could let all those insecurities go?

Maybe that’s a tall order. But being aware that this fear of not being enough is perhaps just a thought we carry round in our heads; could be the beginning of a complete change of heart.

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Self Care. The petrol in your engine.

April 15, 2017

Self care you say? Isn’t that some kind of weird “Woo Woo” thing? Y’know for ‘those’ kind of people?

Well I for one am going to answer yes to all of the above, but before you dismiss me as one of ‘those’ kind of people, hear me out a little. You see I’m a frazzled mum to 3 gorgeous but gobby teenagers. CEO to an increasingly busy household, cook, cleaner, washer, shopper, fridge replenisher, dog walker, finder of all things lost, agony aunt, financial advisor and general fixer of all situations.

I take my friendships seriously. So if we’re good mates and you need me, then I’m there. Be that to join you in the odd (purely supportive) glass of wine; dance on tables, assist on a ‘secret mission’ or be a shoulder for you to cry on when times are crap, then we can do it together.

Add to that growing, loving and running a business that specialises in coaching women; working on mindset and developing potential. A love of crazy outdoor activities and a full on bonkers, extended family living a distance away and I’m beginning to feel more than a little sick at the speed this merry-go-round of life is spinning me.

Over dosing on life is quite a common thing these days isn’t it? We set out to achieve monumental tasks in superhuman periods of time. Failing isn’t an option. We inhale information, via smart phones and social media, expecting immediate response and making ourselves available to anybody at any time of any day. We talk about diet, fitness and detoxing and add them to our to-do list as tasks rather than life style priorities and wonder why we reach weekends and holiday periods feeling as though we’re already hung over, without touching a drop of alcohol.

Now untapped and untempered, these crappy feelings persist. They multiply and grow. At their most serious, they cause depression, anxiety and perhaps breakdown. I know you can see where I’m headed with this…..

But for most of us, we just lug the over load of everyone else’s life along with our own baggage. Never stopping to question what this is doing to us. As women, we pride ourselves on having strength, grit and determination. For being stoic, able to solve all problems at all times. But I need to ask… WHAT ABOUT YOU? Where do you fit in this spaghetti tangle of life? Who is making sure that you are ok? Who is your 3am friend? And, more to the point, how the fuck are you going to give all this amazing care to all these people, cos I know that your life is absolutely no different to mine, if you are permanently knackered?

Surely these people are marvellous? Surely you adore them and want to give the very best of everything you have? And in return, don’t they deserve the best of you; not some exhausted cranky hag who has little time or energy and is on the brink of exhaustion?

Taking time out from your life, to refuel, recharge, reset, whatever you want to call it, isn’t a luxury, it’s a total essential. You can not give water from an empty well. Your levels need to be topped up way above minimum before you are able to nurture anyone else… nobody likes the dregs right?

Go for a walk, get your nails done, read a book, just sit in the garden. Or maybe indulge a little more; a spa break, a weekend away… Or maybe just a lie in, in clean crisp sheets, with a cup of tea.

Self care isn’t “woo woo.” It’s bloody essential. It’s the petrol to fuel your engine. And am I one of ‘those kind of people? Of course I am!

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How Many Tabs Do You Have Open?

March 15, 2017

The fact that these days we react to life rather than respond, means that our minds have a gazillion open tabs, all waiting for information in order for us to process and move on to the next piece of information. The ability and necessity of multi tasking means that we spend our lives constantly wondering if we have completed a task or if not which app we have stored our to-do list inside.

Automation has meant the passwords are the gateway to the world. Everything from payment for school dinners, through to bank account access, is protected by a series of numbers and letters, all stored on some other ‘secret tab’ I mean, God help us if we write these things down, because that’s just asking for trouble init? Even more so if we forget the damn things and ‘lock ourselves out’ of that immediately essential bit of technology.

We deal with metaphorical, never ending mountains of dirty washing. Overwhelmingly useless, but captivating information vying for headspace with important stuff and the not so important, but seemingly essential. Often in this household, there are cries of “There’s nothing to eat.” resounding from the kitchen like an accusation, as I frustrate myself with some password, which threatens to abscond, with my sanity, if I can’t remember the correct order of capital and lower case letters necessary to access the damn thing!

There are countless reports detailing the brain fry that ensues from the time we spend online. The time it takes our minds to unwind from a day at the keyboard. In order to switch off and allow our brains to enter into a relaxed state for sleep, most studies suggest that we unplug at least an hour before bed time. Yet how many of us use our phones as alarms, have a cheeky instagram scroll, check Facebook, Twitter and Email just one last time before switching off the light?

How many of us, reach for our phones immediately upon waking, wondering what on earth has happened in a world without our ‘eyes on’ presence for 7 hours?

This idea of being always available, always contactable, always on show, is exhausting. Awaiting the next ‘selfie’ or matching yourself against the “Nordic” filter of an unknown Instagram feed, benchmarking your social life and feeling inadequate, against those ‘Celebrating, Meeting, Attending or Drinking’ on Facebook.

Or perhaps we are left thinking, if we are maintaining the technology or the technology is maintaining us? It all just becomes one enormous ball of frustration and I’m wondering if days weren’t easier when 2p made a phone call and we wrote important information on a list, keeping it in a diary if it was really vital and nights out involved meeting under The Town Clock with the events committed to memory rather than an online photo album shared with ‘friends of friends.

Worth a thought?

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If Bridget Jones Can Have It All, Why Can’t I?

February 21, 2017

I hate ironing.

I no longer iron for my teenage kids and am lucky enough to have Tracy, my ironing life saver, who collects on Monday and reappears in a puff of glitter on Wednesday, with everything beautifully pressed and ready to be hung in the appropriate places. However, on occasion needs must. Sunday was one of those days where I reluctantly dragged the iron and the board into a prime spot in front of the television where I selected a DVD in an attempt to distract myself from boredom and back ache.

Now I love a bit of light hearted comedy, coupled with a smidge of romance and whilst Colin Firth doesn’t really do it for me, I’d quite happily take Patrick Dempsey. Bridge seems to have really got herself together in Bridget Jones’ Baby. She has a career as a television producer, friends, a social life; almost everything a girl could want, except she still hasn’t managed to find lasting love. Infact it would seem that she has given up looking. However, in true ‘Jones’ style, when romance does arrive, not only is it in duplicate, but she becomes pregnant with alarming speed. Then, the world turns upside down.

Now I appreciate that this is only a story, but the threads of the plot weave their way into the every day lives of so many of us which begs the question can we really have it all? You know the fairy tale ending. The gorgeous, wealthy, handsome, sexy husband. Dubious choice Bridget, but each to their own! The interesting career, the beautiful baby, the close knit group of friends, all plates spun with lightheartedness a bit of enviable ditziness and self deprecating humour, just to make our Bridget a little more likeable!

Don’t you just hate her?

No I don’t and I’m sure if you’ve seen the film nor do you. But I do wonder where this constant pursuit of having it all, whatever all is, is actually getting us.

Juggling is fast turning into an art form, a plethora of self help books advise us on how to cram more into 24 hours, from working out in 5 minutes, working a 4 hour week, through to organising and tidying your home so that it only contains things which are useful or give pleasure. Streamlining life is becoming the future. The data of our lives, contained in a smart phones or tablets, which rarely leave our sight. Watches and fitness apps, that remind us to move, to keep going keep striving, yet I wonder what are we moving, organising, tidying and striving for?

Having it all, was once an aspirational thing. More was everything. Money, houses, holidays, clothes, shoes (I love shoes!) A dinner out, cos you deserve it, but on the understanding you work out afterwards; because having it all also means fitting in the gym routine and the bikini ready body doesn’t it? Oh yes and don’t forget that whilst you’re feeling spontaneous and eating out on a whim, don’t drink too much wine, because you’ve an early meeting, the baby sitter can’t stay late and you’ve a costume to make for Cherub “A’s” school play, an assortment of ingredients to source for Cherub “B’s” cookery lesson tomorrow and a PE kit to find, because there will be a detention if he turns up without it again. And, well a headache/hangover on top, well that just wouldn’t do.

This scheduling often continues into weekends, packed full of on-line grocery deliveries, sporting activities, birthday parties, friends to catch up with, washing, cleaning and occasionally, very occasionally some time to catch up with those people for who you decided to do all this for in the first place. But, if your house is anything like mine, everyone is so knackered by this stage, they either shout at each other or fall asleep with sheer exhaustion.

As a child of the 80’s, I was brought up to think I could do everything, backwards and in high heels, whilst balancing couple of extra loads on my shoulder pads for good luck. So, yes, of course I thought you could have it all.

Actually, I still do think you can, but 30 more years of experience has taught me, that perhaps I can’t have it and nor should I want it, ALL at the same time.

Having had the faced paced career, been the stay at home mum, the full time uni student with young kids and now the owner of a growing business and three teenage kids, I know a bit about this juggling thing. Having felt the pressure to perform at meetings, produce the perfect cakes for sale at the school charity bake off, conjure up the most magnificent angel wings for the nativity, arrive at lectures on time, write essays, organise charity functions, yada yada yada, I know that having it all at once? That’s the myth. We / I tried too hard. I gave too much. I became a knackered and grumpy old cow, exhausted by having everything I’d always wanted!

Late nights, early mornings, business meetings, baking, crafting and a few glasses of Sauvignon are great, just not all on the same day. Cleaners, Ironing fairies (aka Tracy) on-line grocery shopping all get a massive thumbs up, as does recognising that everything has a season. Not everything has to be tackled on day one, not everything has to be mastered, boxed, dealt with, administered and filed away.

When you take a closer look at what makes you happy, no eye rolling here, but it rarely has much to do with the concept of ‘all’ or ‘more’ but more likely it’s about less. The empty beach as you’re walking at dusk. The look your partner gives you when you know they just get it and get you. The peace, calm and hope of early mornings. Kids laughing, a real fire and a good book, that tiredness after a day out in the fresh air, a really great dinner. Maybe some of those chocolates and perhaps just one more glass of wine….

Sod the ironing, I’ve got it all!

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