Monday, 7 June 2010

On Moving On...

My blog has now moved over to Wordpress - you can find it here from now on.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

On What I've Been Up To Of Late...

I've been lying low recently, keeping away from Twitter, Facebook and this Blog, and people have started to ask me what 's going on. Well, one of the reasons is that I've spent far too long hunched over my netbook and consequently given myself an enormous amount of back and shoulder trouble. I made a conscious decision about a month ago to keep away from it until I had a proper office set up with a seating position that would protect my posture and allow me to uncurl myself (my lovely husband said I was looking increasingly like a vulture hunched over my prey!).

I now have a glorious new office with a proper desk, PC and ergonomically designed chair so things aren't anything like as uncomfortable as they were. I am though still suffering from the long term effects of how I used to work so I'm rationing the time I spend at my computer and trying various therapies to rid myself of the pain.

At the same time, I've been working hard developing my new brand and refocussing what I'm doing. My excitement is mounting as the time comes to go live with everything and I'm going to share with you now some of what I've been up to and why.

First up, why the rebrand? To cut a long story short, it's because someone else has trademarked "Colourful Coaching" and it's easier and cheaper if I move away from that brand rather than trying to have a fight over it. So, although my company will still be called Colourful Coaching Ltd, from now on I shall be trading and branded as "Colour In Your Thinking" - because that's what I do, I help you to colour in your thinking and change the way you view yourself and your world from black and white into full, glorious colour. Here's a sneak preview of my new logo in action...

Colour In Your Thinking has 2 strands, Colour in Your Life and Colour In Your Business and I'm currently developing a range of products for my niche markets within those 2 strands. Identifying my niche markets has been something I've been working on for some time now, having realised that all those people telling me I needed to do so were right - no matter how much I want to go out there and help the whole wide world, I can't. So, I'm sticking to what I know and I've defined my niche markets as:

  • working mums (been there, done that)
  • students (currently supporting my kids and their friends who are going through uni)
  • small business owners (being there, doing that!)
Supporting people in each of these niches is something I feel passionately about, because I have direct experience of what it's like and I have skills and knowledge that I can use to help people currently going through it.

So, what's on offer? Well, one of the things I'm most excited about is my online coaching packages which will be going live very soon. They're currently being pilot tested by some lovely volunteers, and the feedback I'm getting is great.

So what is online coaching? Basically it's a software package (I'm using one called JigsawBox, which was developed by an excellent lady called Nicola Bird) that allows me to deliver any number of different coaching programmes. Each programme consists of a number of different modules which are made up of some theory and background on the subject of that module, followed by a series of coaching questions for you to answer. When you sign up for a programme
you get access to a new module every month and all you have to do is work through the questions as directed by me as your coach. I'll be able to monitor your progress and once a week I'll respond on-line to the work you've done that week, following up your input with questions, suggestions for action and information I think you might find helpful. My responses will be unique to you and will be based on what you've told me, so you'll be getting completely personal support.

Each programme contains a number of different packages, based on your needs and your budget. Whichever package you choose, you can be assured that you’ll get my personal attention and a truly personal coaching experience.

I'm delighted to be able to offer online coaching as part of the mix, and here's why:

  • it's much more cost-effective for my clients - my basic packages will cost you less than one hour of my face-to-face time, and we'll be able to cover much more ground
  • you get far more time to reflect and think in depth about the answer to a question. Several of my guinea pigs have already commented on how much they like this aspect as it makes them consider things so much more
  • once you start answering the questions in your chosen package, it instantly becomes a personal, one-to-one coaching session, just as it would be if we were face to face.
  • both you as the client and I as the coach can choose the time that's most appropriate for us to do this work. We don't have to be in the same place, time or even time zone to work together and we can fit it in around our other commitments
  • our coaching conversations remain available for you to go over as often as you want. It's easy for you to go back and remind yourself what you said you would do, so you can't "forget" about your actions, and you can track your own progress and see how far you've come in your "colouring in"
  • the software is really easy to use - if you're reading this blog you can cope with online coaching!
If this has whetted your appetite and you want to see how online coaching works, then sign up here to join in with my teleseminar on June 24th when I'll be showing you exactly what online coaching is all about, how easy it is to use and introducing you to my new packages.

I'll be back in a few days to tell you more about what I'm up to...

Monday, 26 April 2010

On Meeting Your Moomins

On Saturday I held a follow-up session with some of the delegates from my first True Colours workshop. We came together to explore what was different for them in their lives since we last met, and to look at some more techniques that could help them to continue to build their confidence and live more fulfilling lives.

I was delighted to hear of their progress, and equally delighted about how enthusiastic they were to do more work - to the extent that one of them suggested a whole new exercise, and invited me to join in! The results were astounding, and I've decided to share them here.

We had been talking about Gremlins. Gremlins are the unhelpful aspects of your inner voice, and they can lead you into repeating patterns of self-defeating behaviour but giving you messages that make you get in your own way. Gremlins start out with the intention of being helpful but they end up getting it wrong, either by cropping up at unhelpful times, or by telling us the wrong things - as an example, one of my Gremlins for years was "Little Miss Itstoo Scary" - she was trying to keep me safe and prepared for risks, but what she actually did was to hold me back from ever trying anything that had even the slightest element of risk attached. Once I's identified her and realised how she was trying to help, I've been able to tell her she can have a rest now, as I'm capable of assessing risks and making my own decisions - and if you've read previous posts here, you'll know that overcoming fears has been a big thing for me of late!

On Saturday, after we'd all talked about our own Gremlins, one of my participants asked if there was a positive version of Gremlins, in other words, the inner voices that are helpful and lead you into positive behaviours. We all quickly decided that if there aren't, there should be - and we decided to discover our own, me included.

We agreed to call our positive Gremlins Moomins. (The
Moomins are the central characters in a series of books and a comic strip by Swedish-Finn illustrator and writer Tove Jansson. We felt that they were emblematic of what positive Gremlins were all about). As we took a little time to discover our Moomins, I watched the smiles break out on people's faces, turning into broad grins as we settled on the ones we liked best. Then it was time to share.

My Moomins, I decided, are as follows:

Happy Moomin - Happy Moomin is on a bouncy castle. She's exuberant, childlike, excitable and enthusiastic, and she loves to encourage playfulness in others. Every time she bounces, she sees the world from a new and different perspective and that leads her to all sorts of new ideas and new discoveries.

Loving Moomin - Loving Moomin is carrying a huge platter of food that she's just prepared specifically so that she can nurture those around her. She's warm, affectionate and generous and takes great pleasure in the successes and triumphs of those around her.

Intrepid Moomin - Intrepid Moomin wears a pith helmet and carries a machete so that he can slash through the jungly undergrowth, making new paths for himself and the ones that come behind him. He's bold, brave and questing.

As we all shared our Moomins, so we all came to share in each others' delight at celebrating the positive aspects of our natures, and we finsihed Saturday's session on a real high. I've been thinking about my Moomins, and my delegates' Moomins, all weekend, and now I'd really like to know about other Moomins. So, if you'd like to join in and share you Moomins with me and the rest of the world, please add your comment below!

Monday, 19 April 2010

On Having An Empty Nest

This has been a momentous weekend for me, as my son has left home to live with his girlfriend and my daughter has gone back to Uni after her Easter Holidays. My nest is finally empty, just over 20 years since my first chick hatched.

So how is it? Very odd, is the answer. Half of me feels very proud of having done my job well and raised 2 fabulous people who are now carving out their own lives, doing what they want to do and biting great chunks out of life. When I think back to myself at their age, there's no comparison. I didn't go to University because I was too scared, and that fear of the unknown has held me back all my life - until last year, when I finally broke free. That's almost 30 years of being ruled by fear! In contrast, nothing seems to set my children back and from my observation, the vast majority of their generation seem to have the same outlook - that life is for living and all you need is some determination.

The other half of me can't quite believe that I no longer have to be a full-time Mum, ie think for other people and make sure everything's all right for them. Obviously that side of things has taken a back seat in comparison to how it was when they were little but as every Mum knows, you never really stop thinking like that. I've found that out of sight is out of mind as far as my daughter is concerned, so when she's at University it doesn't occur to me to worry about how she's doing - I know she's capable and having a good time but what time she comes in at night (or doesn't), how much she's drinking and whether she's eating healthily is no longer my concern so I don't think about it. I know she's sensible and I know she's focused on her future, so why would I worry? She's an adult, making her way in the world.

The same will be true of my son, once I've got over the sudden absence of him. He's a big personality and he's much taller than me, so when he's there he's very much THERE and at the moment it feels very odd that he's not THERE any more. I find myself thinking a lot at the moment about when he was a baby and a toddler. I also find I'm thinking about the times when I was overwhelmed by the demands of raising 2 children with only 17 months between them, suffering from depression and becoming a single mother. There were times when I thought life would always be that hard and that I would never have my own self and my own life back. The good news for anyone currently in that position is that it DOES get better and you DO get your own life back - mine's been coming back to me for years now, and last year was the culmination of it. And now that my nest is empty, the sky really is the limit!

So despite the pangs, I'm choosing to see this time as a reward for all the hard work I've put in over the last 20 years. I gave my kids roots, and now I've given them wings and they're flying high. Good for them. My own tether has got looser and looser over the last few years and now I too can take to the skies, knowing that I've shed the fear monster from my back so I'm lighter than I've ever been. There's a world of opportunities out there, and I'm going to grab them!

Monday, 12 April 2010

On Being In the Moment

I used to be someone who could never live in the moment. Wherever I was, whatever I was doing, I would always have at least half my mind somewhere else, thinking about something else. I found it incredibly difficult to just "BE" and would feel physically uncomfortable if I had to sit around for any longer than a couple of minutes without something to read. I never realised that this was doing me any harm, and I certainly never realised that I was missing out on some of the best things in life, simply by not allowing myself to notice them.

I'm a different woman now though, and one of my greatest pleasures is to really take in what's going on around me. I've found that this leads me to a great and deep sense of inner peace, but I also know that it's only possible (for me, at least) because by and large I have come to a point where I am accepting of who I am. That acceptance means that I no longer have to try to run away from my thoughts and feelings, and that's what gives me the space to look outside.

This weekend is a case in point. My lovely husband Peter and I have had the most glorious weekend in our campervan, not doing very much but enjoying every minute. There were hot air balloons to watch, birds to listen to, new leaves and blossom to enjoy, warm sunshine to appreciate and all the smells of springtime. There was also peacefulness, togetherness, quiet affection, back rubs and the strengthening of the already strong bond between us - all done mostly wordlessly because words weren't necessary. As Peter says, "Simple Pleasures".

Simple Pleasures are Peter's version of my #happies and both come about only when you're able to be wholly in the moment. That means not fretting about what might be, what has been or what won't be, but rather focussing entirely on the here and now. Using all of your senses to tune in to whatever's around you, and noticing the good things.

How much of your time do you spend in the moment, and how much do you spend worrying about other things?

How would it be if you allowed yourself a little time each day to sit back and metaphorically smell the roses?

I wonder what good things you might start to notice about your life as a result?

Do let me know...

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

On: 10 things that make me happy

Funny how the universe provides: I've been mimsying around thinking "I must blog about something but there's so much to talk about I don't know where to start" and then the lovely Kate Griffiths tagged me in her blog and asked me to continue the meme, 10 things that make me happy.

I've already written about happies, so this is something that's dear to my heart. The only trouble I foresee is narrowing ot down to 10. Here goes (in no particular order):

Diana & Jamie
My lovely husband Peter and I found a card in a local shop asking for someone to walk the dog for an elderly lady. She's now become a member of our extended family and we visit her 3 times a week, ostensibly to walk Jamie (a Yorkshire terrier) but also to have tea, cake and a good old natter with Diana. She's 95 and although she's not very mobile, can't hear very well and her eyesight is failing, she still lives independantly and is a fantastic conversationalist. I love going to see them because Jamie turns himself inside out with delight whenever he sees Peter, and Diana is always pleased to see us and thrilled to hear about what we've been up to. Watching the wind blow Jamie's fur back when he and Peter run across the playing field together, seeing his obvious delight in visitors and his care and affection for Diana is amazing, and tops up my happy-meter on a regular basis.
I like a good euphemism, and for years now we've been collecting phrases that sound like they should be euphemisms. It started when my daughter was learning to play the trumpet and excused herself from the dinner table one day by saying "Please can I get down, I need to go and grease my valves". It's only got worse since then! Language fascinates me and I love puns and plays on words - particularly good ones can leave me snorting with helpless laughter...
Silliness can a healthy dose of silliness. I'm very proud to have raised to adulthood 2 very fine offspring who are not only clean, polite and responsible, but who also have an almost endless capacity for silliness. I feel sorry for people who don't have any silliness in their lives, I think it's essential.
Beaches in Winter
Sunbathing's all very well, but give me a slightly faded British seaside town out of season every time. Places like Ilfracombe, Hunstanton or Largs, that were in their heyday in the 1950s or earlier. I like a walk along the Promenade, a tour of the funny little shops and museums you get in towns like that, a cup of tea and a bun in a chintzy little tea shop. Bliss.
I'm a great fan of the snuggle, and luckily so is Peter. Sunday afternoons in winter were designed to be spent snuggled up together under a blanket watching a black and white film. We once spent an entire weekend when the weather was foul, tucked up in bed with a succession of pots of tea, reading our way through Elizabeth Jane Howard's 4-book Cazalet Saga. Snuggling, cuddling and all other forms of gentle physical affection are essential to keep my soul healthy and happy.
Ah, shoes. It is a great sadness to me that I can no longer wear heels as my shoe collection used to be something that gave me great pleasure. I was once stopped on the stairs of an office buiilding by an American gentleman with whom I had been previously unacquainted, who grabbed my arm and just said "Oh, wow, hey - Great Shoes!" And then smiled and went on his way! Sadly, I've had to pass all my heels on to my daughter, (she is now probably the best shod student in Oxford and uses her book shelves as display units for her shoes) and now I treat visits to glorious shoe shops like trips to art galleries and museums - I go to marvel and wonder at the beauties on display, knowing that I can never take them home with me but that my soul has been nourished by being in their proximity...
Singing Very Loudly
In the car, in the shower, while cooking - nothing gets those old dolphins (endorphins, see what I did there?) swimming around like a good sing-song. If I'm in the car with my son we'll put on show tunes or Abba or 80s hits or rock ballads and sing our way to wherever we're going, making sure we get the harmonies right. If I'm alone I'll sing to whatever's on the radio and by the time I've got to my destination I'm happy as Larry.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, cake. I come from a long line of excellent bakers, and I'm proud to say that I've inherited their talent as have BOTH of my offspring. Nigella's Domestic Goddess book is very well thumbed and stained, as is the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook my Mum gave me for Christmas. Cake, I feel, is the answer to all of life's problems - if the Israelis and the Palestinians could be persuaded to bake each other their old family cake recipes I reckon they'd find out they've got an awful lot in common. Cake is exquisite cooked and raw, in all its various guises, and I've never met a cake I didn't like.
And toast is almost the perfect comfort food. It's one of the irrisitible smells of life and I reckon the smell of toast is even more potent than the smell of bacon sandwiches. The smell takes me back to childhood, as does the taste. I can always find room for a slice or two of toast, and when combined with snuggling and our campervan, it's a little bit of heaven on earth.
Our Campervan
I'm hugging myself mentally just thinking about it! My lovely husband and I are taking off in it at the weekend and we shall camp up near the canal and spend the weekend snuggling, reading, drinking endless cups of tea, watching the ducks float past and generally chilling. It's a total escape from the rest of the world and it's just for us.

So there we are, 10 things that make me happy. I hereby nominate the following lovely people to tell us about 10 things that make them happy and keep the meme alive:

@rachelcotterill because she is a generally amazing and inspiring person and will have something very interesting to say

@happy_food who understands the critical importance of cake

@daisydaisy66 who is reawakening with the spring

@porridgebrain who writes beautifully and needs a laugh

and YOU, if you want to join in - add a comment here or tweet me to let me know!

Monday, 15 March 2010

On What I've Been Up To

I'm getting far too sporadic with this blog. I keep doing interesting things and meeting interesting people, and each time I do I think "ooh, I must blog about that" and then I'm on to the next interesting thing and the moment has passed. So I think this will have to be a round up of various interesting things I've been up to of late. OK, so, where to start...

March 5th - I recorded my first ever teleseminar! I'm dead proud of this, I must say. I coped with the technology, having been helped over my intitial panic that nothing appeared to be working by the ever wise Sharon Gaskin, and once I got into it I really enjoyed it. I did make it easy on myself by making sure no-one could interrupt, so next time I shall be bolder and make it an interactive session, which will be fun. I had some really generous and positive comments from listeners which bucked me up no end. If you didn't get a chance to listen to it at the time, I've now saved it and loaded it up as a podcast, so you can listen to it any time by just clicking on this link.

March 8th - I went to the Women Unlimited Conference held at the British Library Conference Centre. A very tiring but excellent day, with some fabulous, inspiring speakers and lots of lovely entrepreneuses. I never knew all this sort of stuff went on before! What a fabulous way to spend International Women's Day!

March 9th - went to my first 4N event as a paid up member. I've been looking for a networking group that felt right for me, and I went to my first ever 4N on March 2nd. I'd seen lots of references to it on Twitter, and then had it recommended to me by a member, so I thought I'd give it a try. I felt immediately at home on my first visit, so much so that I joined the minute I got home, parting with cash and everything! I really like the unstuffy atmosphere, the lack of rules and the fact that you can go to 4N meetings wherever you happen to be. I've met some really nice people and have booked myself in to attend an average of 2 meetings a week from now on.
From there, I went to the launch of the 30:30 Big Wig's Challenge in aid of the Sue Ryder Care Hospice in Leckhampton, Cheltenham. This is a fund-raising venture which aims to raise £30,000 between now and the end of July. You can see what I'm doing to help out here - please give generously!
And that evening, I had a fantastic session with a client, who has uncovered what she really wants to do with her life as a direct result of the work we've been doing together - we both left the session on a real high as a result.

March 10th - to Surrey to visit another client - it was a beautiful (if flipping cold) day and I took advantage of the fact that I had no other appointments that day to take the scenic route and enjoy the drive. The coaching session went really well again, and I went home thrilled that I'm able to spend my time doing something so fulfilling and rewarding. I'm contiunually struck by what a privilege it is to be allowed to listen as people explore their deepest fears and feelings.

March 11th was a Birthday in our house, so not much work was done, but there was a lot of feasting and celebrating. I did have a lovely long chat with Kate Griffiths, who I've met on Twitter, and as a result we've decided to provide a sort of mentoring service for each other, so that's good!

March 12th - my first ever interview with the press! I met a lovely lady called Caroline Fisher, who writes for the Gloucestershire Echo amongst others. I think the interview went well, and we seemed to get on like a house on fire, so now I'm waiting to see the result in print. I took advantage of the opportunity to slip her a copy of my book wot I wrote - I've had some lovely reactions to it so far, and I'm hoping she'll think it's worth a mention.

And in amongst all that I've been tweeting, facebooking, collectring new subscribers for my newsletter, writing articles for various magazines, and being a wife, a daughter and a mother. Blimey. It's no wonder I'm tired!