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  1. Why I'm Wishing You a Merry Imperfect Christmas...

    Posted on

    I do love Christmas. I love spending time with family and friends, I love hearing Christmas songs and seeing all the lights and decorations and I love the magic that is around at this time of year.

    But it can also be a stressful and overwhelming time of year too. Especially if you're a people-pleasing overthinker like me! It is easy to drown in a never-ending to-do list as you strive to deliver the perfect Christmas, as you constantly worry that the kids won't be happy, that people won't enjoy their dinner and that your bank balance will never recover.

    Every year, the 'Christmas Thing' seems to get bigger – and last longer. Increasingly impressive TV adverts paint full-colour images of the perfect Christmas, there seems to be a growing list of things that we feel we should do, like Christmas Eve boxes and Christmas pyjamas and even advent calendars just keep getting bigger and more impressive (and expensive!). It is so easy to get swept up with the idea that it is all these things that are vital for a successful Christmas – that Christmas is about a flawless dinner, giving a mountain of gifts you can't really afford to buy and skipping your way through the festive season with a smile on your face whilst belting out your best Mariah Carey impression.

     But when we stop, step off the commercial Christmas machine and remind ourselves what Christmas should mean for us then we realise that all these things are lovely – but they're not vital. If we allow ourselves to have the Christmas that we want, that is about the things that are really important to us, then it really doesn't matter if the gravy is lumpy, if the star falls off the Christmas Tree or indeed, if there are days when you want to punch Noddy Holder in the face because you're really not in the mood for Christmas cheer.

     dr seuss xmas quote

    And this is why I am wishing you a very Merry Imperfect Christmas this year.

    I want you to really think about what Christmas is about for you this year. Is it about having the best Christmas Tree in the village or is it about spending quality time with your family? Is it about hosting a perfect event or making precious memories? As soon as you pause and reflect on why you get swept up in all this madness, you will also hopefully realise that we can put so much pressure on ourselves to make the unimportant stuff perfect, that we miss out on the really valuable stuff.

    So to help keep us all focussed on what is important this year, and help stop us getting swept up in the craziness, I am running the Happy Mind Army Imperfect Christmas – and I want you to join me, and spread the word so that more people can join us and lift some of the stress and anxiety out of the holiday season. And there will be 3 main ways you can join in:

     

    1) The Happy Mind Army Advent Calendar

    Every day from 1st December through to Christmas Day, I will be doing a post in the HMA Facebook Group to help keep you focussed on YOUR Christmas, not the Christmas you think you should be having! These posts will be a mix of stuff including inspiring quotes, ideas for homemade gifts, time-saving tips and plenty of reassurance that you don't have to fit in to anyone else's version of Christmas.

    Life also still has the same challenges at this time of year – you could be grieving, having financial difficulties or struggling with illness – so feeling that you still have to live up to this idea of a perfect Christmas can be too much to bear. So HMA is here to remind you that you don't.

    Steering your way through the festive season with clear focus on your goal, YOUR Christmas, can really help take some of the anxiety away from trying to be everything to everyone. You might love all the lights, tinsel and trimmings and have a Christmas jumper for every day of the week, or you might find it all a bit too much and want a quiet understated Christmas – either way, you can make sure you enjoy and find joy in your festivities, not feel you have to survive them! There is no such thing as a 'perfect Christmas' so you shouldn't put pressure on yourself to deliver one!

    Rules for a Happy Christmas

     

    2) The Happy Mind Army Imperfect Christmas Photo-A-Day Challenge

    Hosted mainly on Instagram, but running across Facebook and Twitter, there will also be a photo challenge running during this advent period. Life gets pretty hectic at this time of year, so the idea of this challenge is to get to you be more mindful, to stop every now and then and be in the moment, and enjoy some of the things that are easy to miss when you're hurtling around at a million miles an hour.

     It's about slowing down the pace, having a moment and giving yourself the opportunity to be present and enjoy the festive season – not miss it all with your head buried in a to-do list!

    Each day will have a prompt word which you can use as a springboard for ideas for an image that you post on social media that day. A list of all the words, and more details about what it involves, will be posted on instagram and in the HMA Facebook Group very soon.

     

    3) My weekly Monday Mindset Manouvres Email

    If you haven't already signed up for my weekly Monday email you can do so here. These emails take just a few minutes to read, but help set you up in the right frame of mind for the week ahead. During the festive season my emails will also tie-in to the #HMAImperfectChristmas to help make sure you remain calm and in control throughout the pre-Christmas madness.

     imperfect christmas intro pic

    So, make sure you sign-up for the emails, follow me on Instagram and join the HMA Facebook Group so you too can embrace an imperfect Christmas and paradoxically discover just how perfect it can be!

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  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

     

     

     

     

  3. Come fly with me...

    Posted on

    I've just bought myself a new pin badge.

    (It's from the lovely Bread & Jam)

    I'm a sucker for a badge. I don't always wear them, but I like them pinned to my bag or blu-tacked up near my desk. This one though I think I should wear, proudly.

    winging it pin

    I have come to realise that we are all indeed winging it. All those people we look up to and admire are the same as the rest of us – they are in essence making it up as they go along, but they do so confidently and without any pretence that they know everything. In fact, the most successful people know that making mistakes along the way is a vital step to their success and they welcome the unknowns and the 'failures' along the way. (Remember, what goes on behind the scenes is always – always – different to what we see presented in a polished, public, confident way).

     winging it quote 

    It is easy, when we enter the dangerous game of comparing ourselves to others, to think that everyone else has it all worked out. But they haven't. Really they haven't. So, we need to go a bit easier on ourselves - to stop expecting ourselves to play this crazy game of life perfectly. We are all just doing the best we can – and if we embrace the fact that we are all just winging it then things become a whole lot easier. The mistakes along the way become a valuable part of the journey and we give ourselves permission to sometimes make the wrong move.

    I am indeed totally winging it myself.

    me and quote

    I work hard and I keep on learning but ultimately to change myself and my life I have to do things I have never done before and tread through unknown, and often scary, territory. Sometimes things go incredibly well, sometimes I play things extraordinarily badly. But, I am doing the best I can. And none of us can really do any more than that.

    So, come on, grab your wings and come fly with me... :)

    Helen x