Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Was it me? It was wasn't it? Surely it must be...

This happens to me a lot and I know I'm not alone in this ridiculous belief.

Imagine the scene, you're reading a friend's social media post (because frankly that's how most of us communicate with friends these days), or you're actually talking in person. They talk about how they had been let down by someone and, like a flick of the switch in the self-deprecating part of our psyche, your immediate reaction is "Was it me? Oh, no... it was me wasn't it... I've forgotten to do something... It must be me".

And, even after a swift sift through your recent interactions you cannot for the life of you remember committing to anything, it remains like a solid heffalump of woozelness squashing your sense of self-worth and convincing of the shocking nature of your interpersonal skills.

You leave the post convinced you are a terrible person. After all, not only have you omitted from helping a friend in need but you've completely emptied your memory of offering to do so in the first place. Seriously what kind of friend are you?

You pen a quick note in panic, begging for forgiveness and offering to make up all ills whilst your subconscious bangs her head against the desk and calls you a total idiot and tries to suggest that the only person you've let down is actually yourself!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A break in ordinary service

In certain sections of society it's just fine and dandy to drop your 'aitches. If my keyboard had a broken H then my writing might stand up to scrutiny and I might never have gone down a thought process so packed with depth and meaning. However, since it's missing another key then I am forced to exist without 'ove and 'aughter. I can't even write my own name. I have become isa. This author isa what? Now there hangs the question.

I jotted down a substantive set of descriptives in my notebook focusing on my very existence. What am I?

It wasn't the type of reading that at first packed a punch of joy. I appeared doused with doubt, but I guess that's to be expected as I anticipate the next steps in my career. I must never forget though that I am an Artist, a Writer and a Creative. These aspects of me exist deep within my psyche. Yet, I know that I am too a prize procrastinator. I absorb distraction as I miss the meaty tasks of the average workday. I require a new job, a set of instructions but with the chance to be proactive, to expand and venture into the new, to experiment and push, to grab at opportunity and stretch my wings once again.

I have much to offer. Come take it!

With the few exceptions that I used to bring attention to the missing key, I have forced my brain to write without using the missing 'thing', digging into my thesaurus memory banks. It's been instructive and a somewhat fun exercise. I suggest you give it a try sometime! It's quite the task.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Ever feel like a fraud?

Image credit: Arvin Febry via

Impostor syndrome is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalise their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’. It’s a limiting belief based on fear, a nasty little trick of the out-dated lizard brain that is actually trying to help but instead is a complete hindrance. It kicks in as a form of protection - being good is scary because it's hard work and with that comes an element of risk. Impostor syndrome flies in to rescue you in the face of danger!

Research suggests that over 70% of the population have experienced this inability to internalise our success at some point in our lives and that list includes a list of the great and the good or, as they think of themselves, ‘a bunch of frauds’ – international best-selling author Neil Gaiman, activist and author Maya Angelou, actresses Meryl Streep, Emma Watson & Jodie Foster, genius Albert Einstein, businesswoman Sheryl Sandberg … the list goes on, and yes I’m in there too (well not the great and the good!) – in fact I thought I invented it!

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”  
Maya Angelou

The typical scenario sees a successful person gaining a promotion, getting their work published or receiving praise and adulation. Being in this position can be a little nerve-wracking as most of us are hard-wired to want to keep it up, we can’t quite believe we made it, we compare ourselves to others and worry about how they perceive us. We expect at any moment to be ‘found out’. Sufferers might then either work harder, earn more praise and set the cycle going again or undervalue themselves.

The daemon did it

Sometimes the syndrome takes a new angle. Frequently I’ve read back over a piece of work I laboured over months ago and can’t quite believe that it came out of my own fingertips. I believe it’s because of our inner genius, our muse, or whatever you want to call it. I first became aware of this phenomenon while listening to Liz Gilbert’s incredible TED lecture. She explains that the Greeks and Romans believed that creativity wasn’t something that came FROM us, but rather it came TO us in the form of what they called our genius or daemon – an entity that, like a guardian angel, was assigned to us and could be equally blamed for our works of art and our creative madness – a bit like an invisible friend I guess. (Read more on the Genius/Daemon here)

Liz encourages our belief in this genius for our own sanity so we can then steer clear of the route of the tortured artist. After all, it’s far easier to blame your Muse for taking a holiday than to believe you just can’t birth a new idea or feel the desire to pick up a paintbrush again.

Likewise if this other entity had a part in your success, then maybe that’s the reason we suffer from Imposter Syndrome or have no recollection of creating a piece of work. We didn’t. Our genius did it!

Brain dump

Impostor Syndrome is yet another form of interruption and distraction. The brain can be a peculiar organ, it seems to delight in feeding our conscious with a million and one other thoughts than the one we need at that precise moment. Right now I am thinking three steps ahead in this article while also wondering if I’ve got any new emails, checking the time for my next coaching call and itching to check my most recent post on Facebook to see if there’s any new conversation. Err, where was I?

By inviting in all those distracting thoughts we also welcomed their best mate – anxiety. We step outside of flow, lose concentration and fret about items outside of our current remit.

We may be tempted to tone ourselves down, play it safe, miss out on opportunity. I am guilty for playing it safe for years - wrapped up in a cosy comfort blanket of familiarity, ease and repetition. I stopped believing in myself. Eventually the cashmere turned to horsehair though and I came out in a nasty rash. I knew I was capable of more.

Impostor Syndrome is just another distraction sent to try us, but fear not, there are ways to control the beast!

How to get over it
  1. Share it! I had no idea Impostor Syndrome was even a thing until I read about it in a magazine and saw myself in those eye-opening paragraphs! Talk about your experiences with your friends and peers and laugh at how silly we are all being! Convince others of their worth and they will surely help you see through your own  unfounded feelings of inadequacy.
  2. Make a list of your achievements. We give our failures far more memory than we should so sometimes our wins (even the small ones) need a helping hand to make it to the hall of fame.
  3. Keep a folder of emails where colleagues and friends have given you praise for a job well done – I call mine ‘Nice Things’. Read them over and over until you actually believe what they are saying! I think the most powerful are those from work colleagues or strangers on social media who are unlikely to bolster the truth and your ego in the way you mother might! Read through them when struck by fear and doubt. Give yourself a well-deserved warm and fuzzy feeling!
  4. Accept that you played a part! A big part! Whether or not you believe in the idea of a divine force sneaking into your subconscious and crafting your magnum opus, it was still YOU! I give you permission to give yourself a little pat on the back for a job well done. Remind yourself that if you did it once, you can again.
  5. Be present. Lock the door to distraction and imposter syndrome – you might find that a simple visioning meditation will do the trick, or just count backwards from five to zero to switch your focus. 
  6. Watch for the pause. Self-doubt can kick in at any time so get in the habit of noticing the types of situations when it is most likely to occur and be bold and leap in ahead. Make your decisions count.
  7. Embrace and trust in your inner genius – there’s a perfectly formed space right inside of you where she sits and once there you work as a team. There’s magic inside of you – go make it and believe in it and yourself. In all likelihood it won't be easy, but face the pain bravely and work through it.
  8. Look for the positive. Impostor syndrome prevents hubris, keeps us questioning our own ability and takes us on an upward curve of continuous improvement. After all, if we believed in ourselves too completely we might feel too safe, only to discover we were swimming in a sea of sharks without an armoured wetsuit!
 Now, onwards and upwards! Grabbling with the beast of Impostor Syndrome is one of the topics we could discuss together as part of a coaching session. Let me know if I could help.

“The Fraud Police are the imaginary, terrifying force of 'real' grown-ups who you believe - at some subconscious level - are going to come knocking on your door in the middle of the night, saying: We've been watching you, and we have evidence that you have NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE DOING. You stand accused of the crime of completely winging it, you are guilty of making shit up as you go along, you do not actually deserve your job, we are taking everything away and we are TELLING EVERYBODY.”
Musician, Amanda Palmer

Monday, 6 February 2017

Lettuce not panic

In between all the Trump coverage and Beyoncé's twins there slipped a devastating piece of news for the British public. It appears that the salad crops are failing in Spain (due to the rain on the plain) and henceforth all iceberg lettuce will be rationed and courgettes will be sold on the gold markets due to their new value #courgettecrisis.

Supermarkets are only allowing you to buy three, yes that's right a meagre three  lettuces per person per day! My goodness disaster is upon us. Apparently the rationing is to stop Gordon Ramsey and friends raiding the supermarkets when the wholesalers run out in case they have a run on prawn cocktail.

Everyone knows what a rich source of fibre and vitamins the iceberg is - we will have scurvy and rickets before the week is out. I fear for the nation and the nation fears for itself. Callers have been flooding the Jeremy Vine show with horror stories of rabbits and tortoises starving to death... and apparently it portends the first of many Brexit disasters.

Let's just pause a moment shall we...

Aside from the obvious suggestions of eat carrots, cauliflower, kale, onions, parsnips, cabbage etc... instead... Why doesn't anyone focus on the poor sods in Spain whose livelihoods are presumably at risk because their crops failed? Isn't that the story? It's bloody winter anyway - who wants to eat salad when it's barely two degrees above freezing outside? Bring me my carrot soup at once!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Anticipation versus instant gratificaiton

Image credit: Luke Chesser via

I have subscription to Spotify. For around £10 a month I have access to virtually every musical genre known to human ears and millions upon millions of tracks. The algorithms know my tastes and provide me with perfect suggestions when I'm looking for something new. It's pure bliss.

My son, who turns into a teenager next month, has suddenly started taking a deeper interest in music. Like me he has varied tastes with his playlists that see country music stars rubbing up against the kind of tunes a parent yells "turn that racket down" at. 'Head-banging music' as my own parents would have called it.

It was back in the early 80s when I made my first purchases of vinyl 7 inches - having finally persuaded Mum and Dad to buy a record player. I remember taking my pocket money to Boots and coming away with Eurthymics Sweet Dreams clutched in my paws (yes, millennials, Boots used to sell music once upon a time!).

There was something to be said about that anticipation. Saving your pennies - £1.20 was a lot back then - and then finally getting the living room to yourself, wiping the dust off the needle and letting the magic happen. It's something my son just won't get. It's all instant gratification and I suppose there's nothing wrong with that. He can go on a musical journey right from the comfort of his phone these days, taking in a bit of early 20th century jazz alongside today's pop funk. His musical education is right there for the taking.

Maybe it's just nostalgia, but there's still something special about slipping the vinyl from the sleeve and hearing that crackle as the needle begins its journey...

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Free 3 video class

Do you wish you could paint? Or are you looking for a more intuitive way to create?

I’ve spent the last four months working with Whitney Freya to become a certified Creatively Fit Coach so that I can guide others through her Vision Quest programme and run my own workshops and courses.

Whitney is a wonderful teacher –full of creative energy that she commits to sharing with others.

Right now you can sign up for a FREE 3 VIDEO SERIES where Whitney shows you how to paint a dreamcatcher. No painting experience required – in fact you’ll be able to see her coach a complete beginner through the process in the videos. Whitney’s process helps build your confidence and bring out your inner artist while also opening your heart up to all manner of creative possibility!

If you love what you learn here, at the end of video 3 Whitney will invite you to continue the process through the Vision Quest training (with a special discount for those who watch the video) which will include coaching from me!

Follow this link to find out more and get your hands on that free video training – I’m painting my Dreamcatcher right now - it needs to be strong enough to hold Donald Trump as I dreamt he was chasing me the other night (he won’t be in the painting though!).

I’m also going to be running some really fun painting party workshops locally. Northamptonshire friends - watch this space! They will be a great opportunity to gather with friends and spend a day having fun, getting messy and creating beautiful art.

I'm so excited!

Monday, 16 January 2017


My Goddess of the Lotus

The final stage of my four month Vision Quest with Whitney Freya brought us down to EARTH which is pretty appropriate as I plan to bring into this post an analogy about some cute fluffy creatures with big ears that like to burrow below the earth and make their homes among tangled tree roots, but more on that later.

Here with feet on terra firma we solidified the lessons learned in building our creative practice and gained clarity on what we wanted to manifest going forward.

Working through Air, Fire and Water had prepared the soil ready to plant the seeds that would be the start of new intentions. As I've been painting layers and meaning I've been building my understanding of what it will mean to take my coaching message out into the world.

I've also been realising how important it is to nurture those tiny new ideas and actions. Just like little green shoots, they are tender things that require constant attention - if I don't give them enough light, feed them or leave them in the dark they will wither and die. Ideas and intentions need room to grow, to put out new shoots that explore and develop.

Our the course of Vision Quest we have been learning to switch on and listen to our intuitive mind. The act of creativity, when we are completely in flow, will quiet the noise of our everyday lives and allow messages to come through. This might sound a bit 'woo woo' until you actually try it. Just as our brains sort through the day's events in the form of our dreams at night, so does our right brain like to figure things out.

Ready for the rabbit analogy now? Strictly speaking the bunny wisdom I want to share with you comes from a creature that didn't always live underground - not until he was 'real' anyway! I am of course referring to the Velveteen Rabbit! Tapping into our right brain through the creative process is like rummaging through our stuffing until we find what makes us real.

The simple act of writing down our thoughts and questions we seek answers to on our canvas and then covering them with layers of paint is like spark to a flame for our right brain. As we play, the brain sifts through its store of knowledge and produces solutions. It asks not "what is it?" but "what can I do with it?". Being intuitive opens us up to taking a much wider view, we look from all perspectives, going beyond the here and now. It never ceases to amaze me at what comes out when I start to paint, collage, create. I'll often look back and wonder if someone else made what is before me.

Then, moving off of the canvas and back into 'real' life we begin to learn the lessons from our creative practice. So many times when I make art I'll stare at a terrible first layer and want to quit. But I've learned to keep going, reinventing, trying something new, innovating.  It was just a step on the journey, a test to see if you could fight off any resistance you were struggling with.

And so now, as I develop my coaching practice I'm taking these lessons to heart. I fail fast, try another layer and bring in different tools and methodologies to see what will happen next. It's already making me a better coach.

And if you don't believe me, how about this guy?

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We  have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift."
Albert Einstein
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