Category Archives: timing

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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How To Customise Your Christmas and Cut the Stress

Do you sometimes feel it’s all too much?

Do you feel caught in a Christmas trap?

I used to. I worried about every aspect of the approaching ‘Festive Season’, feeling far from festive. And then my son, who knew how I was feeling said this:

‘Mum, why don’t you choose the parts of Christmas that you like and leave the parts you don’t like? You don’t have to do all of it!’

I was reminded of when I bought my new Mini.

I knew the colour I wanted but that was it. The salesman had to talk me through how I could customise my new car. He explained which features came as ‘Standard’ and then presented me with choices for all the rest of the spec. Bit by bit I built up the picture of the car I wanted, choosing fabric or leather seats, interior and exterior colours, automatic or gear shift and so on.

The Mini I collected bore very little resemblance to the one in the brochure because I’d chosen how I wanted it to be. I’d ‘customised it’.

You can do this with the Christmas holiday.

 There are no rules apart from the fact that we all celebrate (or not) on the same day. You do need to be positive and assertive (not arrogant) but with a bit of practise, you can do this!

What comes as ‘standard’?

  • A day for giving gifts
  • Food
  • Decorations
  • A tree
  • Cards
  • Family time
  • Parties
  • Carols

You will want to add more to my list but let’s look at the first three.

How to customise.

  • Gifts.

You need to get ahead on this one, if you’re going to change from the ‘standard’ requirements. If you want to change who you buy for, perhaps only for children and not for adults, let people know your intentions well in advance, to avoid embarrassment or upset. It’s not easy to change a long-established routine but it is possible to do it if you are sure that’s what you want to do.

You could write down what you’ll say and even practise saying it until you’re confident.

  • Food

Ok, so the turkey roast followed by Christmas pud, mince pies, large amounts of cream and custard, is fairly ‘standard’. But you can customise!

Christmas food should be special. That get’s hard to do when we have the ridiculous amounts of ‘special’ food in the shops all year round.

One way to customise your Christmas food is to choose your favourites. If you love fillet steak but it’s a rare treat, or your mother is coming and her favourite is steak and kidney pie then that’s what you have! Try to have the food that’s a ‘treat’ for as many of your guests as possible.

If you choose to spend the day with your OH then it’s easy to have your favourite food but it can still be done with the family. Not everyone wants turkey when they can have it on any day of the year.

  • The family.

Not so easy to customise but not impossible. Here are a few suggestions:

Decide, well in advance, where you and your family want to be for Christmas. At home? On holiday? At your parents? Your parents at yours? Once it’s decided, stick to it. A few feathers might be ruffled but there’s no rule that says you have to do what you always do. You can change the habit, if it’s a habit you don’t like…

Do you spend much of the holiday driving your children to see step – parents, grandparents, divorced parents, so much so that everyone’s bad-tempered and the children hate it? If it’s what you want to do, and most importantly, if it’s what the children want to do, fine. If not, decide how to customise.

It’s about forward planning. It’s about taking the ‘I ought’ out of the equation and replacing it with ‘I’m happy to’.

I was delighted, and still am, with my beautiful blue Mini. Every time I drive it I smile. (Except in snow.) It suits me fine but I know it wouldn’t be everyone’s choice.

You can customise Christmas, to suit your capabilities, needs, emotions and stress levels.  It’s not selfish in a bad way, it’s simply deciding what you can cope with. As my son said, so wisely, you can include the parts you love and leave out the parts that concern you. That way, you might even enjoy it!

How do you deal with the varying ‘obligations’ of the Christmas season?

Are you changing things this year?  

 Have you ‘customised’ Christmas?

Do pass on your hints and tips.

 

Header by cursedthing, post image by the mullett, 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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How Would You Use An Extra Hour In Your Day?

 

You have an 'extra hour'...

We’re all so very busy being busy, aren’t we? We have our ‘To Do’ lists, our shopping lists, our ‘The Sky Will Fall In If I Don’t Do This Today’ lists….

How often do you hear someone say, ‘There just aren’t enough hours in the day’?

It’s that time of year again.

The clocks’ went back’ this weekend in the UK. We had to trawl around the house altering every timer and clock, moving the hands backwards so we’d have that ‘extra hour’. It’s what we all want, isn’t it? An extra hour in our day?

OK, we only get it once a year and most of us spend it sleeping but never the less, the whole process started me thinking about what we’d all do if there were 25 hours in our days all the time!

A few years ago my OH and I decided to hold an impromptu ‘Extra Hour’ party.   At midnight we all changed our watches and spent the extra hour dancing and celebrating.  And then I thought, ‘Hey! We would have done this anyway, without the extra hour… ‘

Would we really value a ’25th hour?’

I thought it would be interesting  to ask you how you would spend your 25th hour, if it was permanent.

Would you:

  • do the same as you do now and then make the extra hour special in some way, tagging in on to the end of your 24 hours?
  • add a new ‘activity’ to your 25 hour day?
  • simply allow longer for certain tasks that you know you rush at the moment?
  • get up  later?
  • go to bed later?
  • use it writing that novel you never have time for?
  • waste it?

I think we’d all get used to it, wouldn’t we and simply do exactly what we do now. But it’s good to think about whether we waste time, rush, dawdle, procrastinate, day-dream, sleep, shop, yet still complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day.

How about you?

A whole hour! Extra! To use as you like!

How would you use that ‘extra hour’ if it was a permanent add-on to your day?

 

Header image by cursedthing, post image by Len Reynolds, on Flickr.

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Ooops! I Said ‘Yes’ But I Wish I’d Said ‘No’! (And What To Do About It…)

Why did I say 'yes'???

 This post is for Christine.

You put down the phone.

Your heart sinks.

You’ve got butterflies…

If only you’d been brave and said ‘No’.

Oh well… that’s it. Nothing more to be done.

Stop right there!

All is not lost.

You have the right to change your mind!

I’ll pause while you read that again….

You know why you did it:

  • You’d felt guilty if you said ‘no’
  • You didn’t want an argument
  • It was easier
  • You always do…

Why do you want to change your mind?

Here’s what to do about it.

  • Say what you want.

‘Sarah/mum/Simon… I need to cancel the arrangement we made to go to the cinema/come to you for Christmas/go on holiday with you/come to you for the week-end.’

  • Don’t apologise or grovel, simply give the real reasons.

I realise I’m over committed/under a lot of pressure at the moment.’

‘We want to have a quiet Christmas this year but would love to see you in the New Year/ in February/ on your birthday’  – whatever you actually want to do.

  • Be clear and honest

You must say what you want, don’t apologise,On reflection/now I’ve had time to think about it /I realise that it doesn’t work for me/us at the moment. (Leaving the door open if that’s what you want to do.)

  • Listen to what they say.

Give them a chance to respond and try to see it from their shoes. But don’t be persuaded to give in. Perhaps you can concede that you understand it’s a nuisance/inconvenient for them, but remember, you have every right to change your mind.

 You could say something along these lines: ‘I understand that this is a nuisance but it’s what I want to do.’

 What will happen ?

  • They’ll be upset
  • They’ll be surprised but not upset
  • They’ll understand and appreciate your situation and your honesty

If you feel yourself begin to waver, simply remember that

you have the right to change your mind.

Result?

  • Once you’ve had the conversation, you’ll know it was the right thing to do because you’ll feel relieved
  • You’ll feel so much more confident about saying ‘no’ in the future.
  • You’ll smile all day!

Are you going to change your mind about something?

What do you wish you’d said ‘no’ to?

Do share, in the comments, how you dealt with it… we’d all like some help with this!

An excellent book on this subject: ‘Assertiveness’ by Claire Walmsly.  BBC books.

Header image courtesy of cursedthing and post image by Nicoli Barea, on Flickr.

 

    

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Say No And Take Control

I'll have to get back to you...

The phone rings.

Here it comes:

‘Hi! How are you?’

‘I’m fine thanks, how’re things with you?’

‘Fine. I just wondered what you’re doing on Saturday?’

Stop! Right there! Don’t do it! Don’t admit you’re free!

Just take a deep breath and say this:

I haven’t got my diary with me right now. Why do you ask?’

And she goes on to invite you to babysit her horrendous kids/help her sort out her garage/go to an exercise class (horrors all round.)

This is where you use my

Simple way To Take Control.

Remember, you’re not rejecting the person,

you are simply rejecting the invitation.

And….there’s no need to explain.

Simply say, when you’ve looked in your ‘diary’,

Saturday doesn’t work for me, I’ve made plans.’

No! It’s not a lie!

You have, for sure, made plans-

You want a day to yourself.

  • to sleep
  • eat chocolate cake
  • watch garbage TV
  • read
  • veg out

I repeat: There is absolutely, 100%, no need to explain.

Why?

Because…

  • You have the right to be you.
  • You have the right to choose how to spend your time.
  • You have the right to do exactly what you want to do. Full stop. End of.

You can follow this by suggesting another time to get together, or not, whatever you wish.

Follow your gut feeling on this one.

But…. please…. do not cave in and agree to do whatever it is, if you know you don’t want to.

If you do, you’ll set a precedent and she/he’ll ask you next time and expect another ‘yes’.

Just keep it simple.

Take control.

Say no, with a smile on your face.

Header image courtesy of cursedthing on Flickr

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Ears Pierced While You Wait!

No, it doesn't hurt...

 

I laughed out loud when I saw the sign.  

It certainly caught my attention.  

‘Ears pierced while you wait!’  

Silly, isn’t it.   

Isn’t it?   

Or is it what we all crave?  

Instant gratification?  

‘What do we want? We want success! When do we want it? NOW!‘ , we roar.  

When we were children we’d have a tantrum if we didn’t get what we wanted now.  I hear it all the time, in the supermarket, embarrassed mums trying to calm their toddlers, who are having ‘paddies’.  

But we’re all grown up! Aren’t we? We don’t have tantrums, do we?  

Errrm, yes, we do.  

  • We want a new car. We try for a loan (or we did in the bad old days.) Because we don’t want to wait. We get angry when the loan’s refused.  We want that new car now.
  • We want a new autumn wardrobe. It’ll start getting cold soon. So we open a store card account. because we’re not prepared to wait until we have enough money. We want it now.
  • I want to be a well-respected and successful blogger.  But I have to wait. I have to do the work… (I ‘m trying not to have a tantrum….)

Waiting is good.  

Anticipation is good.  

Preparation is good.  

Have you ever noticed that the satisfaction that comes from instant gratification is fleeting?  

One of my clients is a shopaholic.  She is addicted to clothes shopping but she gets into debt because she loads up her credit card. She has very low self-esteem so buying gorgeous clothes makes her feel attractive. But… only for a few hours. Her low self-esteem is still there when she hangs up her new outfits because she doesn’t believe she’s pretty. What she sees in her mirror is not what I see.  The satisfaction is momentary.  

I’d like you to think about this:  

  • Whatever it is you’re hoping to achieve you need to wait. You need to put in the work. (Message to self re-my blogging goals. )
  • Easy isn’t best.  The satisfaction will evaporate like the autumn dew on the grass outside my window. In my experience lasting satisfaction is the reward we get for huge efforts. The greater the effort, the greater the satisfaction.  My face beams when I feel I’ve written a post that’s the best I know how to do.
  • Waiting pays dividends. A good friend gave me this advice.  He said this:

             ‘When you don’t know what to do, do nothing for at least 24 hours.’  

And guess what! It works!  If I wait, the solution usually arrives, when I least expect it.   

   

What is it that you ‘want’, at the moment?  

It’ll happen, if you put in the effort.   

Now I must leave all you ‘Spinners’ and do some learning.  And if I see an article entitled,  

‘How to build an amazing blog in 24 hours’  

I’ll press Delete…   

   

What have you achieved, with great effort, that made you feel proud?  

Header image courtesy of abbyreed and piercing photo by Almightymo, both on Flickr.

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