Blog

 RSS Feed

Category: GENERAL POSTS

  1. Stone Me!

    Posted on

    I started my first little business 20 years ago. And as unlikely as it sounds it was selling painted stones. It was called Stone Me and it was the beginning of an adventure that I started because I had such a strong desire to be my own boss and to build my own business. I was in my early twenties, and although I didn't have much confidence, I was full of energy and love for my little stones.

    stoneme1

    [pic above: me with my stall, sponsored by the Prince's Trust, at the Cheshire Show in June 2000. Martin Bell OBE popped over to say hello on one of the days! Look at all those stones!]

    I travelled all over doing networking events and business training, I had stalls all the time including ones at massive events including the Cheshire Show and the Southport Flower Show and I worked really hard getting out there and building a reputation for Stone Me.

    stoneme2

    [pic above: My front page appearance in Warrington Worldwide magazine in August 2001 and a promotional postcard I used from about 1999]

    And then I got a permanent teaching post. Followed by a mortgage. Eventually followed by children and painted stones faded away for more serious pursuits. I have always continued to have some form of creative freelance work alongside my teaching because the urge was always there – be it photography, fine art and even cake decorating – so to finally take the leap into pursuing my own creative work again full-time a few years ago felt like something I had been waiting a long time for.

    But lately, the responsibility of this has weighed heavy on me. It's not too long ago that I went 'all-in' just on my artwork (rather than selling mainly craft based work to make my income) and this involved some massive financial risks (and sacrifices!) for my family to cope with leaving me feeling extremely guilty a lot of the time!

    I felt a bit lost. And when I should have been working harder than ever I seemed to slow down. I needed to find that energy again, the love and belief in my own art work and where it could take me. So, I went back to my roots. I went back to where it all began and I painted some stones – and I loved it :)

    It reminded me to find the joy in my work again, and reminded me what it was like back then with a whole world of possibilities in front of me. And then I also realised that they fit perfectly with my current mission – about celebrating uniqueness and ordinary joy. The beauty of the painted stones is that each one is different and it's the lumps and bumps and often imperfections in them that suggest the painting that should bring it to life. Every one is different, every one worth celebrating – just like us!

    So, here we are, 20 years after I first started. And I am relaunching 'Stone Me' as part of my current work – to remind myself to work hard, have belief in myself and to be excited about the path ahead. And to remind us all the it's our own lumps, bumps and imperfections that make us unique and amazing!

    THESTONESARECOMING

    Things have come full circle. And I think I like it.

  2. Sorry, not sorry! Let's stop over apologising...

    Posted on

    As I try to grow braver and bolder in my own skin, one thing I am becoming much more aware of is the language I use and the effect it has on my behaviour – and one very strong example of this is the amount of times I say 'I'm sorry'. And so often for things that I really shouldn't be apologising for.

     Now, don't get me wrong – I am a firm believer that an apology when one is needed is both a brave and correct thing to do. But, I have a feeling that plenty of you lot are a bit like me and apologise far too often – like if someone punched me in the face I would apologise to them for hurting their knuckles (ok, that's a bit extreme but you get my point!)

    One example that made me think about this, was planning a Facebook post for my Art page after not posting for a couple of weeks while the girls have been off school. I was going to start it (as I have many times before) with something along the lines of 'Hi, I'm really sorry I haven't posted for a while...' but then I thought, is that really something I should apologise for? Yeah, I should probably post more often, but should I be sorry that I have spent some wonderful time with my husband and children over the last couple of weeks? Should I feel remorseful about the walking, the baking, the gardening, the days out, the late nights and all the fun with family and friends we've been having?

    No, I really shouldn't.

    The more aware I am becoming of the language I use, the more I realise how often 'sorry' creeps into my every day life. How many of these are familiar to you?

     

    When eating in a restaurant: 'I'm really sorry but it seems you have forgotten the sauce...'

     

    Catching the attention of a shop assistant: 'sorry to bother you, but could you show me...'

     

    Turning up a few minutes late meeting a friend due to something genuine or beyond your control such as the dog escaping or the train being delayed: 'I am so sorry I'm late...'

     

    Someone bumping into you quite rudely in a shop: 'oh, sorry...' (yes, us apologising to them!)

     

    All seemingly innocuous, but if like me you are a serial apologiser, these are evidence of us apologising for our own wants and needs (and often, rights), and in many ways apologising for our own existence and the inconvenience it may cause to others!

    So, join me in no longer being sorry that we are here – and no longer apologising for not getting the sauce we paid for or for the failings of the national rail network. By just paying attention to the words we use we can grow in confidence and become more assertive.

     sorry quote

    5 ways to stop over-apologising:

    1) Become more aware of your own language. Pay close attention for a day or two and see if you do apologise as a matter of habit. Only if you are aware of something can you change it.

    2) Pause. Give yourself just a brief moment of time to ask the question, 'have I done anything here that I should be sorry for?'. If not, don't apologise. Is it your fault the train was delayed? If not, don't take the blame. Was the fact the waiter forgot to bring the sauce for the steak your fault? If not, don't say you're sorry.

    3) Replace the word sorry with a more confident substitute! Depending on the circumstances, 'excuse me' or even a friendly 'hello' can be enough to gain someone's attention without apologising for disturbing them!

    4) Say thank you, not sorry. This change of language can be very powerful. Late meeting your friend because of that train again? Don't apologise for being late, thank them for being so patient and waiting for you. Can't make a night out with friends because you're already going to a lovely family celebration? Don't be sorry for going to a special family party that you're really looking forward to – thank them for the invite and explain with no apology your prior commitment but say how you will look forward to the next chance you have for a night out with them. No guilt, no apologies – just circumstances accepted in a much more confident and positive way.

    5) Exist! One of the main reasons we over apologise is because we hate to inconvenience anyone or cause any discomfort or conflict. But life, by it's very nature, creates chaos. There will always be things that happen beyond our control (or even sometimes within our control) that mean we will have to make our existence felt – and we need to embrace this and not shy away from it. Our existence is our one and only life, and we need to stop apologising for it.

     

    And crikey, I have really gone on in this blog post, but I'm not sorry... ;)

    Helen x