Tag Archives: change

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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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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What Will You Risk For The First Time This Week?

I thought I was good at it.

Taking risks, I mean. I’ve certainly faced some fears (see my This Is Me page) and taking risks? Not a problem. Except this week…

The fear of an event is nearly always worse than the actuality, so I’ve read. I believe it’s true but I have to force myself to act on it sometimes.

I remember the waterfall in the Lake District.

We'll have to turn back

The roar of the torrent, the spray everywhere, the sheer height. I was overawed by it but somehow we had to cross over to the other side or else turn back.  I stood and stared, fear fluttering in my chest. 

As I stood there getting more and more scared, my attention was caught by a child in a red jacket, and his dog. He was running along, in front of his dad, clambering up the grassy path towards me, heading for the edge of the water fall. Then he disappeared from view and I assumed the path cotinued through the gorse bushes at the side.

I was still wondering whether we should turn back and take a different track, when there he was, on the other side of the waterfall, his red coat zig-zagging away and his dog following.

His dad was close by where I stood.

‘He’s crossed over! How on earth has he done it? Surely it’s too risky!’

He smiled.

‘We often come this way. If you go round the corner you’ll see the stepping stones! They’re slippery but it’s OK to cross if you take care!’

This week I’m taking a ‘risk’ with my blog.

I’ve decided to update this site and move on to the next stage of blogging.

Here’s how it’s going so far:

  • I decided I want to make the change.

Making the decision to make any change is often the easiest part. It’s only in your mind at this stage. No risk yet.

Writing it down can make it more real, so long as you don’t tell anyone, then you can still ‘turn round and go back’.

I did exactly this: I wrote down my plans to up-grade, but kept it to myself.

  • You seek support

If you’re scared to take the risk by yourself, look for someone to guide you.

Want to change career? Travel alone? Learn to ski? Write a novel? Talk to those who’ve’ been there, done it and got the t-shirt.’  I love this Danish Proverb: ‘He knows the water best who has waded in it.’

I did exactly this: One of my blogging friends, Arvind Devalia has indeed ‘been there, done it…’ and he is a consultant in this area. He will guide me through the whole process and I need have no fear.

  • What if?

Yes! I said it.

What if… I can’t manage the change?

OK, but what if I can, with Arvind’s expert help?

There’s always another way, just like the stepping stones that were hidden from our view that day. When we want to make a change or take a risk, it seems scary at first. But once you’ve thought it through, decided, and found support you’ll be so glad you did.

And, by the way, the view from the other side of the waterfall was stunning…

‘Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.’

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now it’s your turn.

What will you risk for the first time, this week ?

Header image by cursedthing, post image by 

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How To Achieve Your Scary Goals

Ever met a wizard?

I have. I was waiting at the station entrance and there he was. Tall, with a purple silver cloak covered in stars, a pointy, black  hat and a deep voice. And specs. The specs didn’t really ‘go’ with the wizard image but I guess he needed them to decipher his spells. They were a bit ‘station office manager’, but never mind. Even a wizard can’t be perfect all the time.

It was Wizard Week at the Preserved Steam Railway and I was waiting for my two gorgeous grandchildren.  They came bouncing along, wondering what we would see.  Witches waited at the dark entrance to their ‘cave’ with a tempting Lucky Dip, and thick cobwebs hung across the door in swathes.

It’s hard to explain a wizard to a two-year old. It’s hard to explain about pumpkin lanterns, broomsticks that fly and why witches have green faces. It sounds a bit silly when you say it, especially when you don’t want to frighten the listeners.

Zeb (two) held my finger, (he was only a little bit scared,) and Ruby, (four), ran ahead to where the steam engine was gently hissing. As it began to pull the carriages, vast clouds of steam rose into the autumn morning air and I was remembering the ‘Railway Children’ story. There was even a tiny allotment, marigolds still in bloom, for the signalman to tend.

It was scary, just a bit, for Zeb, being in the company of magical creatures, but holding my finger made it safe and it was even safer when his daddy scooped him up in his arms. He could be scared, but from a safe place.

Up on the green metal bridge that crossed the railway line we had different, amazing view. We could look down on the engine, steaming away, tiny witches and wizards waving from the platform, and grinning parents wishing they were still allowed to believe in magic. Perhaps they did. I hope so.

How amazing is this...

Ruby found  a real spider in its sparkling web, carefully attached to the metal struts of the bridge. We all examined  it, admiring its spots and sparkles and wondering at its skill.

On the drive home I started thinking about the cobwebs in our mind.

We’re so used to thinking in certain ways. We adopt prejudices, opinions and attitudes. We have ‘mind-sets’ about stuff that we refuse to change. We’re right. And that’s that…

Except… perhaps we’re not?

Here’s my Positive Spin on –

Why we need to ‘stand on the bridge … and look at the cobwebs.

1.   We saw a completely different view from that bridge.

‘I couldn’t possibly go back to work.’

Why not?

Sweep away those artificial cobwebs and take a different view.

Really think it through. Perhaps you could take a part-time job. Or start by doing some voluntary work. Whatever it is that scares you about making a change, try looking at it form a new perspective.

2.   Is it so scary?

You have a goal in mind. You haven’t told anyone because you’re scared. But you know in your heart it’s achievable. But what will people say? They’ll laugh. They’ll try to put you off. 

Or… they might support you. They might help. They might not put you off at all.

That real spider was beautiful. Delicate, friendly looking and fragile. Not fierce at all. Only scary in our minds.

 3.   Spiders’ webs aren’t all bad.

Spiders’ webs are amazing. I wonder how long they take to create? They’re so versatile, to provide a ‘home’ and a ‘food store’ for the occupant. Brilliantly designed.

Don’t try to clear away all your cobwebs at once. After all, it would be unkind to the spider if you did that, she worked so hard.  Let light in to the corners gradually, when you’re ready to make changes, large or small. Climb up slowly on to that bridge and stand and stare.  Enjoy the fresh view. For as long as you like.

What is getting in the way of your ‘view’ at the moment?

Which cobwebs are lurking in  your mind?

Are you going to get out that cobweb brush?

Tell us about that ‘goal’ that scares you, then it won’t be so scary!

 

Header image by cursedthing and post image by Bagoogoo, on Flickr.

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How To Forget The Past and Forge Ahead With The Future

Today is the future you worried about yesterday...

     This post was requested by carsma.

A brass elephant, a miniature New York fire hydrant and a champagne cork.

These are all in my Memory Box.

We bought the box – an old wooden print box with lots of tiny compartments – in Italy. I loved it because it was so old but we bought it to keep our memories safe.

Every time we travelled, here or abroad, we brought back a small ‘something’ to capture a memory. There’s a happy story attached to each one, and when I look at the box on my wall I am right back in those  memorable moments.

We’d like to forget many events of our past. Tragedies, illnesses, dark days filled with worry. Strangely, the bookshops are full of misery memoirs, telling every detail of abuse, neglect and hopelessness in people’s past. It’s the bad news of other people’s miserable lives that attracts some readers, not the good memories.

Here are my thoughts on:

How to Forget the Past and Forge Ahead with the Future.

  1. What does the past mean to you?
  • This will be different for everyone, obviously, but I believe the past plays an important part in our lives.
  • The past is where you learnt to live, to grow, to develop.
  • The past is where you ‘fell over’, made a fool of yourself, treated your parents badly, were rude to your friends, married foolishly – I’m sure you could write a book – I know I could…
  • The past helped to create the person you are today.

2.   What can you do if your ‘bad’ feelings about your past    are  affecting your life in the present ?

  • The past should not be forgotten. It happened. You can’t change it. But what you can change is: your attitude to it.
  • The past shapes your future. You try to leave your mistakes behind, to learn from them, but it’s hard to do. That’s just the way it is. You tend to dwell on the things you’d rather forget. But you need to remember that it wasn’t all bad.
  • You need to tell yourself that much of the past was good. There were plenty of happy times, champagne moments, celebrations, amongst the bad times.

3.   The future never comes.

  • The future only exists in your head.
  • You make plans, you make decisions, you make choices today.
  • You can affect your future, by taking wise actions today.
  • You can forge ahead with your future by learning from and listening to the past.

4.   Forge ahead with your future, today.

  • Perhaps you’d like to start a Memory Box. Choose a container that delights you whenever you look at it and keep it where you can see it, not hidden away in a cupboard.
  • Look around the house for those ‘happy memory triggers’. Photos, receipts, empty perfume bottles, cards, letters, an acorn in its shell (one of my memories), a cork. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.
  • Perhaps writing about the happy times would work for you. Choose a pretty notebook and keep it ready for jotting down those memories as they come to you.
  • Remember… tomorrow never comes, it’s always today.

If your past is mainly dominated by painful memories, you need to make sure that you focus on the happier times however few you think there were.

It’s impossible to make the past ‘go away’ but it is possible to focus on the positives. They are there, you just need to search them out and keep them safe.

How do you deal with your past?

What strategies do you use?

Please tell us in the comments.

Header image by cursedthing and post image by U-g-g-B-o-y, both 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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How To Say ‘Yes’ To Saying No… (As Requested Last Week)

from giarose on Flickr

You know you want to.                         

It’s hard.                                                       

You worry you’ll upset them.                  

You want them to go on liking you.      

You feel guilty.                                               

You ought to say yes…                               

But you want to say no

Saying no is a dilemma for everyone.
No-one wants to rock the boat.
But there comes a time when you’ve had enough …
On Friday I asked you to tell me what you’d like to read about on this blog.
Carsma said she wanted to read about
‘How to say ‘no’ and mean it’.
This week’s  posts are  for her, but you can read them too!
 
Here’s my Positive Spin on…
 
How To Say Yes To Saying No.
 
Step one… Start slowly, with simple, non-threatening situations.
 
If you’re a passive/compliant/non-assertive person, it’s hard to suddenly change.
So start slowly.
It’s like  learning any new skill, you need to practise.
Remember when you learnt to play the recorder/piano/violin/guitar?
  • At first it wasn’t easy.
  • You made loads of mistakes.
  • You wondered whether you’d ever ‘get it’.
  • Sometimes you wanted to give up.
  • Then, next day, you started practising again.

But the key was:

You were motivated.

You wanted to ‘get it’.

And it’s the same with learning to say no.

Think of situations where you want to say no but it’s not that important if you cave in.

You could…

  • say no (with a smile) to the girl in the perfume department trying to sell you a new fragrance
  • say no (with a smile down the phone) to a casual coffee invitation but suggest an alternative date to meet
  • say no (with a smile) when your hairdresser offers you conditioner but you’d rather not have it
  • say no (with a smile) when your friend invites you to the cinema but it’s not a film you want to see
  • say no (with a smile) when your mother asks if she can come shopping with you but you’ve planned a rare and precious day to yourself

These may seem trivial examples but they have the same purpose as practising your scales for the piano: they prepare you for the more important no’s later on.

Take every opportunity to practise.

See how many no’s you can fit in before you come back to read about step two on Wednesday!

Meanwhile, please tell us in the comments, about the times you have found to practise and what you said no to.

I’ll do it too!

I’ll start my list right now. I’ll start by saying no to Mittens… she’s waiting by her bowl.

On the other hand… how can I say no to her!

 

 Header image by cursedthing on Flickr.

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