Category Archives: confidence

4 Secrets My Snowman Showed Me About Having A Positive Spin

 

He was my first snowman.

My cheeks were red with excitement and the cold.  All he needed was a hat and I ran indoors to ask mum if I could use one  of my knitted ones. With great ceremony I put it on his head and then stood back. He was as tall as me! He was smiling, and I’d made him all by myself.

That night, while I was getting ready for bed I heard an ominous sound. I knew what it was, it was the sound of water dripping. The icicles by the back door were melting and the snow looked different somehow. I stared put between my curtains at my snowman in the middle of the garden and tears crept down my cheeks.

Next morning he was gone. Just his blue knitted hat lay on the emerging grass, with his lumps of  coal eyes.

Last week I thought about that snowman.

I thought about the snow we’d just had and how people reacted to it. I realised that my long-ago snowman had started me on the road to having a Positive Spin.

Here are the 4 Snowman Secrets to having a Positive Spin:

1.   It’s  too easy to say ‘No.’

The day is snowed heavily we could have easily said ‘No’ to going out. After all, the house was very cosy, we had stuff we ‘ought’ to have been getting on with. But out we went. What we would have missed if we’d stayed in!

Exquisite beauty, twigs transformed, a silent world, a traffic free road and childlike fun.

I’m going to try to say ‘Yes’ far more in my life. What about you?

It’s so easy to feel wary, scared, afraid of change. But when we say ‘Yes’, we rarely regret it.

2.  We must appreciate people while they’re with us.

I was so sad when my snowman ‘died’. I’d only just met him and he was gone again.

I don’t want to sound morbid, but it’s often not until people leave us that we realise their importance in our lives.We must tell them how much they mean to us, show them we value them and give them hugs, virtual or real.  It never seems to be the right moment. I’m going to try to tell them more often …

3.   We must be proactive.

If I hadn’t built my snowman that day it would have been too late. It didn’t snow again that winter. I would have missed it.

It’s the same with life’s opportunities. If we don’t ‘seize the day’, the day will be gone. When we have the chance to learn something new, travel to a new place, make a new friend, we must take it. Before the opportunity disappears.

4.   Take that risk!

We went to see the children sledging. It was a delight to see them. And then, as you know from this post, I was offered the chance to join in. It would have been so easy to say ‘No’. But I said ‘Yes’ and took the risk. If I’d waited for another day, the snow would have melted, and who knows when another chance would come? When will we next get snow?

Chances to do new things will come your way. Follow your instinct. If it feels right, do it! New course? Learn to dance? Learn to ski? Why not!

I realise that having a Positive Spin is not practical all the time. But once you start to develop the habit, you’ll be surprised, as regular readers will know.

It’s like rolling a snowball. It grows… and grows…

… until it’s a way of life.

I’ve chosen to seize the day and upgrade this blog.

There’ll be a new look very soon! I could have waited until another day, but I decided the time was right. I’ll enjoy developing  and improving it for you, I’m certain of that.

Are you going to miss out on a magical, exciting experience?

Or are you going to say ‘Yes!’ and develop your Positive Spin?

What are you going to say ‘Yes’ to in 2011?

Do tell us. We all need some inspiration…

Header by cursedthing, post pic by theirhistory, on Flickr.

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Think the Snow Is A Nuisance? How to Change Your Mind

It’s still here. The snow, I mean. 

I heard this today: ‘It was fun at first. Now it’s just a nuisance.’

OK, I understand it’s difficult getting to the shops, you have to go without milk for a while and the schools are still closed, but this snowy time teaches us a lot about how we can look at life if we feel confident.

Here’s my Positive Spin on a snowy day. 

Snow is like Confidence. It transforms your life.

  • Snow smooths everything out.

Harsh shapes are rounded, spiky bushes are like balls, you can’t see the join between the path and the road.

When you’re confident you feel that your path is smoother. You see the way to diffuse spiky arguments, the differences between people are blurred. You become more tolerant.

  • Snow covers up imperfections.

Street litter is lost under the blanket, muddy patches become clean, every surface is garnished with a sparkle.

When you start to feel confident you find you don’t notice the imperfections in people so much. You focus on their good qualities, you try to see their point of view. You’re more agreeable.

  • Snow turns problems into opportunities.

So… you can’t get the car out of the drive! You have the opportunity to stay in, gaze at the beauty outside and reminisce about winters long ago. You are ‘allowed’ to watch DVD’s by the fire, make soup from those left over veg in the fridge, send friendly emails, and even write Christmas cards.

Confidence brings opportunities too. Instead of fearing changes in your ‘landscape’, you can see  new ways forward, possible new occupations,  new directions for your life.

  • Snow covers up tracks but lets you see fresh ones.

Muddy tracks disappear. The road is smoothed out. But we can see where the birds and animals have been wandering in our garden, under bushes and around trees.

When you learn to be confident (yes, you learn it), you learn to believe that very day is a fresh start. Yesterday has gone. You can’t change what you did/didn’t/do, wish you’d said/not said, the chances you missed. Today is like a fresh fall of snow on your ‘landscape.’ The new tracks you make are up to you.

  • Snow lets you use other people’s tracks.

Trudging up the lane is much easier if others have already made some tracks. It’s firmer, less slippery and you feel bolder as you stride along.

Confidence grows with encouragement, praise and positive feedback as you take steps towards your goals and make changes. Seeking and taking advice and help from others, walking in their tracks,  helps you make decisions.

  • Snowy weather lets you have fun!

It certainly brought out the ‘Inner Child’ in me. The lane was filled with neighbours and their children, all dragging sledges and throwing snowballs. A carrot was fetched for the snowman’s nose and mugs of coffee were passed around.

Confidence does that too. You can let yourself be child-like, try new things, travel to new places, have as much fun as you like.

Like the snow, Confidence transforms the ordinary into the extra-ordinary.

What would you be able to do if you woke up  to find your world covered in the soft blanket of confidence?

Header by cursedthing, post pic byAlice Popkorn

    

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Who Wants to Time Travel With Me?

‘Oh please, dad! Please!’

Dad slowly opens our back door. It’s dark but I can see the flakes in the beam of the outside light.

‘Oh, wow! It is! It is!’

My brother and I squeak and squeak and my face is one enormous grin.

Next morning the snow is really deep. The cat refuses to set paw outside but we can’t wait. Dad gets the wooden sledge he made us, out of the shed and we pull on hats and gloves and scarves. 

Magical. But not just when I was a child.

It was magical today.  

We pulled on our hats, gloves and scarves but this time I had my OH with me, not my brother. We trudged up the lane, stopping every few minutes to exclaim at the beauty around us. Everything seemed to be wearing a ‘hat’, every twig and every fence post. Birds danced and darted, searching for a drink, dogs were up to their tummies in snow and parked cars were shrouded in white fur puffer jackets.

Then came the best bit!

We joined our neighbours and their children who were sledging on an open slope on the edge of the village. Brightly coloured sledges contrasted with the white-out, flasks of coffee steamed and wet gloves were abandoned.

‘Want to have a go, Linda?’

One of our friends was laughing as he offered me his child’s sledge. To his, and my, surprise I heard myself say, ‘Love to!’ and I sat down and grabbed the rope, with the confidence and fearlessness of a child. He gave me a push and I was off, shrieking and squealing down the slope. I was Time Travelling, ten years old again, loving the chill on my cheeks, not a care in the world.

Watch out! There's a child about!

I will remember today because…

  • I re-discovered my inner child
  • I delighted in my sense of fun
  • I took pleasure in the small things
  • I smiled at everyone and they smiled back
  • I noticed every twig, branch, roof top, fence, gate, paw-print
  • I spoke to every one and they spoke back
  • I ignored the slushy stuff in the road
  • I lived every second of this amazing day
  • I marvelled at my world

Hold on a minute!

Why can’t I do all those things every day?

I think I can.

And, I’m sure, so can you.

When did you last Time Travel and re-discover your inner child?

What do you wish you could still enjoy that you enjoyed back then?

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I Have Something To Confess, How About You?

I hate cooking!

I sat down in my steaming hot kitchen, put my head in my hands and cried.

My face was flaming, there was ‘stuff’ on every work surface, recipe books were smeared with flour, the oven was working away, dishes were piled up, dirty pans that won’t go in the dish washer waited,  and I was in despair.

We were giving a ‘dinner party’ for  six guests (I know, not exactly a crowd) and I’d been running round in circles since early morning. I thought I’d been looking forward to it. I’d written my lists, done the shopping, even  laid the table. But the fact remained – I was in tears.

Apparently I’m not alone.  A recent press survey reported that many of us find the whole dinner party thing more stressful than seeing the bank manager or commuting to work!

So what’s the problem?

Here’s my Positive Spin.

  • I don’t like being ‘judged’.

There are so many cookery shows on TV and it looks so easy! They’re run by real chefs, all with years of training and experience,  owning  successful restaurants. Of course their meals are amazing. That’s what their diners expect! Of course I can’t match their expertise. But somehow, when I have friends around for dinner, because I’m not a natural cook, I feel judged.

  • I don’t want to ‘fail’.

I feel embarrassed if my roast potatoes aren’t perfect, my sauce has lumps (surely not!) or the steaks are over/undercooked. I worry that my menu won’t live up to expectations.

  • I feel out of my depth.

At the last dinner party I went to there were three desserts.  I just can’t compete!  What will they say if I only produce one! I don’t know how to make filo pastry by hand, unlike my talented friend. I’ve not mastered the art of home-made ice cream or perfect cheesecake.

And so it goes on.

So! What can I do about it?

  • I need to get ‘real’.

Sharing a meal is a way to get together and enjoy one another’s company. If cooking for a dinner party puts me out of my depth then I need to be very brave and say, ‘ We’d love to see you for dinner. I’m not too confident about cooking so we’d like to take you out instead.’

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, there are plenty of great pubs in the UK that serve moderately priced meals and even more choices in the US.

  • I can cheat!

There’s an amazing array of food out there, ready cooked. Indian food is especially plentiful and not expensive. I’ve found fantastic savoury pies, casseroles and pasta dishes on sale in some butchers’ shops, along with fruit pies, crumbles and mousse. Sometimes I buy the main course but make the dessert. Or I make a really easy but tasty and interesting starter.

I always tell my friends that I cheated and they don’t turn a hair. At least, not so far as I can tell. It’s their company that’s the most important part of the evening.

  • I must live in the real world.

Everyone has skills. Everyone. Not everyone is an expert cook, home decorator,  dress-maker…. whatever. It’s time  to stop stressing about it and simply confess that I don’t enjoy trying to cook restaurant style food for guests. It’s silly to pretend otherwise.

There! That feels better…

How about you?

Is there anything you need to confess? Go on, you know you want to…

You’ll feel so much better if you do!

Header image by cursedthing, post pic by lisaclarke, on Flickr.

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And The Award For Most Boring Person Goes To..

Me, Me, Me!

One of my Face book friends commented after reading this recent  post

‘So many people are wrapped up in themselves, I often wonder what people know about me.  I’m a good listener but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like people to show an  interest in me. People are often all about – Me Me Me !’

I decided to give this some thought and look for the Positive Spin:

Are you listening to me? 

Why do so many people think it’s always about them?

I’m sure you can relate to this….

I’m at a social gathering. I don’t know many people but I start to engage the guy next to me in conversation. He tells me his name, what he does (see this post), and off he goes…. He talks about his amazing job, his amazing family, his amazing holiday and after 15 minutes or so he’s asked absolutely nothing about me. I try to edge away to find someone to have an actual conversation with. 

A conversation!

That’s where more than one person talks and where people listen to one another.

So what’s the issue here?

  • What’s the point of a conversation?

We have conversations because we want to get to know one another. To do that we must share information, ask questions, listen to one another. We must pass the ball around.

  • Conversation is a skill.

It’s not an easy skill to learn. It’s a bit like a game of tennis: the two people take it in turns to ‘serve’. While the other person is ‘serving’ we must focus on them completely. Sit still, don’t fidget, and listen carefully to what they’re saying. Try to pick up some mutual subjects or threads that you can serve back to them later, when it’s your turn. But try not to interrupt.

  • What if it’s never ‘my turn’?

Sometimes the conversation never gets off the ground: it’s a monologue. Not easy. What I try to do is listen for a pause, however small, and perhaps ask a question, or pick up one of the topics they mentioned and add a remark or two. Perhaps change your sitting position or even fidget a bit to alert them that you’re still there! I’ve even resorted to saying, ‘Your holiday toSouth Africa/Barbados/Bournemouth sounds fun. I went to Edinburgh for a trip last month. Let me tell you about the highlights.’ If they still don’t let you ‘have the ball’ you have to make an excuse and find someone else to talk to.

  • It’s natural, even though it’s bad manners and rude.

It’s natural for some people to believe that they are the most important person in the room.

It’s just the way they are used to behaving. They assume that everyone wants to hear what they have to say. They have been allowed to get away with it. They seem oblivious of the problem because no-one has made it clear enough that it’s annoying.

They won’t change their behaviour because we’ve let them carry on ‘carrying on’ and they remain unaware of how selfish and boring they are.

We have to show them that we don’t like it. If they don’t listen to us at all, if they don’t have a conversation with us, we need to move on to someone who does. And there will be lots of people who are interested in listening as well as talking.

Next time you are introduced to someone new make sure that you:

  • Listen with real interest
  • Make eye contact, for a few seconds
  • Ask a question
  • Use their name, to help you remember it!
  • Don’t interrupt
  • When it’s your turn, don’t deliver a monologue!
  • Remember how it feels when the other person isn’t interested in you and do as much as you can to show that you’re interested in them. (Even when they’re not Angelina Jolie  or George Clooney…)

How do you deal with the ‘Me,me,me’ types?

What’s your Top Tip for my Facebook commenter?

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This is Me… But Who Are You?

 
 

and who are you?

You’re at a party.

You don’t know many people there. Not yet, anyway. It would be so much easier if everyone had a label pinned to them. No need for all the preliminaries, at least you’d know a bit about them to get the conversation started. You’d like to disappear, run away…

He’s coming over. The balding man in a drab jacket. Very British. Doesn’t look at all interesting. You take a deep breath, try to find your friendly face and say,

‘Hello!  I don’t believe we’ve met! I’m Trish. I live next door.’

He beams. ‘Hello! Good to meet you! I’m Henry. I’ve just moved here.’

(And you know exactly what you’ll say next, don’t you?)

‘Nice to meet you, Henry.  And what do you do?’

He looks down at his freshly polished shoes.

 ‘I’m one of the Queen’s body guards!’

You stare at him for a moment. Surely not. He looks so… ordinary. You grin, embarrassed and then the grin turns to a genuine smile and you say,

‘I’d love to hear more, Henry! Are you allowed to talk about it?’

He fetches you both a drink and you talk animatedly for the next half an hour. He’s such a compelling story-teller you realise he’s quite the most interesting man at the party.

I have just up-dated my ‘This is me’ page. (It’s at the top of this page.) I’m following the A-List Bloggers Boot Camp and this was one of the tasks in our first assignment. It’s hard knowing what to put in and what to leave out when I’m writing about myself. I want to connect with you but I don’t want to be boring about it or you’ll fly away!

The process of up-dating made me think about how it’s so easy to judge one another with very little information. When you meet someone for the first time, what impression do you give? What information do you give them? And what do you leave out?

Communication is what it’s all about. So much confusion and misunderstanding results from poor communication.

Here’s my Positive Spin on How To Communicate.

  • Tell the truth.

How often have you heard someone boasting about their achievements? Exaggerating their successes? Why do they do it? Because they’re scared of not measuring up, not being good enough. They have low self-esteem. Do you find yourself exaggerating sometimes?

  • Watch and learn.

At this time of year you’ll have plenty of opportunities to watch people at social events. Focus on one person who is communicating well. Does he talk more than listen? Look at his body language, how he stands, how much eye contact he makes. Pick one aspect to try out  in your next conversation. I promise it works! I’ve done it…

  •  Listen more than talk.

It’s easy to talk too much when you’re nervous. We all do it. But one of the secrets to good communication is to focus on the other person. Completely. Make them feel as if there’s no-one else in the room. Listen, but don’t chime in with what you’re dying to say. Wait. Ask questions. Ask them to tell you more. And whatever you do, don’t look around to find someone more interesting to talk to. You know how that feels, and it’s not good.

What would you write on your ‘This is me’ page? 

More to the point, what would you leave out?

What do you think is the secret to good communication?

Do tell us, we all need all the help we can get!

 

Header image by cursedthing, post image by Dustin Diaz, on Flickr.

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Today I Met an Invisible Man

He was standing by the supermarket entrance.

Most people hurried past, lists in their hands, trolleys leading the way. It was pouring down and soggy umbrellas dripped everywhere, making the trolleys wet. Time to stop for a few minutes to buy a poppy?  For most, no time to even look up.  Just needed to get the shopping, get home and get dry. End of.

I watched from a distance, under the shelter of my umbrella. The rainy day didn’t bother him one bit. He was far stronger than that. A drop of rain was nothing. Not when you’ve been out in freezing temperatures, in the Arctic, protecting the cargo ships taking vital supplies to the Russians on the Eastern Front.

 
The Russians were our allies and desperately needed fuel, tanks, planes and ammunition. Those Russian Convoys were desperately needed. Which is why the Germans did all in their power to bombard them and sink the ships.

No-one could survive in those icy, mountainous seas.  A minute or two in the water and they’d die of cold. No point in looking for survivors. Had to leave them behind and sail on.

No, a drop of rain was no problem for this immaculate veteran, with his medals proudly displayed. I asked him about the medals and he told me he was in the Russian Convoy Club.

‘You’re too young to have heard of it’, he grinned.

I grinned back.

‘Do tell me about it’, I asked.

And that’s how I met an invisible man.

And heard his story, while some people stopped to buy a poppy from him but most walked by. Perhaps they’d already bought one. 

I’m glad I had the privilege of meeting this proud man and hearing about his young self who braved the Arctic ice with his comrades, 3,000 of whom never returned.

As I drank my coffee in the coffee shop, I gazed around at  the other customers. Some of them were elderly. What would their story be? How was it for them in World War Two?

It’s easy to dismiss the old and frail with not even a glance. But they weren’t always old and frail. They were the same as us once, and they all have a worthwhile story to tell, if only we’d take the time to listen. They deserve our respect and our thanks.

Who will you remember, tomorrow, on Armistice Day?

  • I’ll think of my friend who never knew her father. He was killed before she was born. Every year her mother proudly attended a Remembrance service. She never re-married.
  • I’ll think of my own father, who repaired the gliders that carried men to France to parachute silently into occupied  territory. Thankfully, he survived the war.
  • I’ll  think about Afghanistan and the seemingly endless killing. I’ll think about the innocent children in that country who are addicted to drugs because it’s cheaper for their families to buy drugs than to buy food, now that their bread-winner  has been killed.

But this year I shall also think about the invisible man I met on a rainy day outside the supermarket.

Who will you think of.

Header image by cursed thing, post image by US Geological Society, on Flickr

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