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Category: BE HAPPY

  1. Choose not to wear the sh*t badge.

    Posted on

    I can recall with frightening accuracy times in my life when people said things that left a massive dent in my confidence – like the times at High School when the cool girls would warn me against jumping in the pool at swimming lessons because I was so fat that all the water would come out, or the time one of my University tutors bluntly told me I couldn't draw. And there are many more times I could tell you about – and perhaps you too have clear memories of things that people said or did, possibly many, many years ago, that were less than flattering.

    And I bet, like me, you remember them like they were yesterday. And maybe like me, instead of just denting your confidence, they also become evidence to feed the self-doubt and the crippling overthinking. I look back now, and with my older, more confident head on, I don't have any anger for the people that said these things, but I am so bloody annoyed at myself for listening.

    what you allow quote

    Not only did I listen, I replayed these things time and time again. I wore them. I wore them like a badge. A really, really shit badge. I had so many fantastic badges to wear. Big, shiny, colourful badges, representing all the good things people said and all the amazing things about me. But I chose not to wear those ones. I hid them, lost them – was too timid to wear them. But the tiny, shit one – I chose to wear that one. And that is the brutal truth. I chose to wear it. Nobody made me.

    And that is my point – we can never control what is said or done to us. But we can control how we deal with it. I think it is so important that we all work hard to love who we are to the point that negative or hurtful experiences can be dealt with without lasting damage – and that we are so proudly wearing a vast collection of big, bright, shiny, badges that any rubbish ones soon get hidden and forgotten about. In fact, we need to build up that collection of big, bright, shiny badges so much that they become our suit of armour – a proud confidence in who and what we are that makes us more able to cope with the bad stuff, and in some circumstances, to give us the strength to fight back because we know we don't deserve it.

    maya angelou quote

    We need to give ourselves permission to love who we are and be proud of it – and we need to build up our children to do the same. Yes, we will always potentially come across times and events that challenge us but we have to make sure we don't give them more of our time, attention and belief than we do the positive and uplifting times. Replay the compliments, the successes and the things that deserve to be celebrated.

     Don't choose to wear the shit badge.

     

  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. The Grateful Fed-Up

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    I'm fed-up. Proper fed-up.

    We've had no boiler for over a week now, and this arctic weekend especially has been a bit miserable as we all tried to keep warm huddled round an electric heater. I'm fed-up of being cold, I'm fed-up of not being able to have a hot shower and I'm fed-up of struggling to dry all our clothes.

    And you know it's ok for me to feel fed-up because it hasn't been a particularly pleasant week – and because my fedupness (that's a word, honest) is vastly overshadowed by my gratefulness.

    FAIRY TALE LIFE QUOTE

    • I am so grateful that we do actually have a roof over our heads and ways of keeping warm under it, even when the central heating isn't working.

    • I am grateful to have amazing parents who have helped us out, least of all with the use of their shower and radiators!

    • I am grateful to have had lots of offers of help from friends and to now have some hypothermia preventing electric heaters that some amazing friends did a late night dash to get us from their office.

    • I am grateful that if we do need hot water I can boil the kettle or heat up a pan of water.

    • I am grateful that I have got plenty clothes so have been wearing on average 4 layers a day!

    • I am grateful that me, my husband and our 2 children are all robust and healthy and able to cope with a bit of cold and disruption.

    • And I am grateful that tomorrow, hopefully, our brand new boiler will be being fitted and our short-lived but challenging boilerless life will come to an end.

    And I could go on. (But don't worry, I won't)

    Being grateful isn't about everything being perfect, or even everything going right! It is about being genuinely thankful for the things you do have and for recognising all the good things in your life even when things do go a bit pear-shaped. And sometimes remembering to do this can be hard – especially when things are really tough.

    But I do, sincerely believe, that even in the darkest times there are things to be grateful for. We just need to be willing to find them. Being grateful doesn't take the bad times or the challenges away – it just makes them more manageable to get through!

    So, I remain fed-up (and yeah, verging on feeling sorry for myself sometimes!) but never once, am I losing sight of how lucky I am.

    SEUSS UNLUCKY QUOTE

    Helen x

  4. And the award for longest painting title...

    Posted on

    Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I'm not the bold, risk-taking type. I like security, rules and putting my pyjamas on at teatime. But, the older I've got and the more of life's 'bad times' I have seen, I have come to firmly believe that we have to take a risk in life every now and then – and sometimes an almighty huge one.

    The treadmill of adulthood can be relentless – the responsibility of bills to pay, food that needs buying and cooking (sometimes for little people that need feeding too!) and a seemingly never-ending list of grown-up chores that need doing can make us feel that we have our choices taken away from us. The need to meet all these things means we stay in a secure job, (one with a regular pay packet that pays the mortgage!), or stay with habits and routines which are familiar and safe to us.

    Often, fear keeps us in the safe zone – but sometimes we have a niggle for something more. Sometimes we face something that means taking a risk, taking a chance, taking a leap. It might be applying for a promotion, starting a new relationship, or giving up that secure job to follow a calling – an ambition for something more. Whatever it is, sometimes we need to take a deep breathe and take the risk.

    risk it quote

    'He that is afraid to throw the dice will never throw a six' is a painting all about this (I told you it had a long title..!) You can never reap the rewards of taking a bold step, if you never take the step in the first place. You can never throw a six if the dice never leaves your hand.

    And this is what I am doing now. I took the initial leap away from a well-paid job a few years ago – but it has taken me until now to take the final leap towards following the path I have always dreamt of taking. I have finally thrown the dice – and have yet to see where it will land.

    I am still in the stomach churning land of watching it spin – wondering if I can pay my mortgage, wondering if people will laugh at what I am saying, wondering if I've made a big mistake. Or indeed, if this is the start of the greatest success of my life – a big fat six!

    One thing is for sure, however it lands I will never regret throwing the dice, and I know I would never have been happy not giving it a go.

    And anyway, I'm holding out for that six...! :)

    dice

    FINISHED DICE

  5. 'Beyond The Crumpled Paper' - a small painting with a BIG message!

    Posted on

    Because I was working on the big scenery project for most of January, it has taken until today for me to complete my first painting of 2018 – and it's only a small one, but what it represents is massive.

    2018 is the year that will see me silence all my niggles as I push my work, and my brand, in the direction of sharing my own journey of overcoming self doubt and a lifelong overthinking habit and hopefully inspiring and motivating others to do the same (I wrote more about this here). This is a scary shift for me – and this painting symbolises this moment!

    The painting was inspired by a social media post I have seen shared on many occasions – and one which I think holds a very effective and powerful message. The original post is below – and I apologise for not crediting its original author as I have no idea where it originated from.

     crumpledpaper

    Now, as I said, I love the lesson in this in terms of showing the lasting effect that bullying can have (and I also include many other things in this that life can throw at us along the way!) but I felt unhappy about the suggestion of the permanence of the creases – that if we suffer something that affects us emotionally we are bound by those effects for the rest of our lives; as if our victim status is inescapable.

    And this is where the painting comes in – and why it's called 'Beyond The Crumpled Paper'. I would hazard a guess that not many, if any, people make it into adulthood without some 'creases' in their paper and I think these define us in an incredibly powerful way. It is these creases which make us unique – the same as everyone else on a basic level (we all start off as a plain, flat, unblemished piece of paper) but we develop our own, beautiful, complicated and intricate pattern that makes us oh, so very different, to anyone else who has ever set foot on this planet. And that is amazing.

    This pattern of crumples tells a story of life – of difficult times overcome and challenges survived. Instead of them being a reminder of how we felt at these times, we should let them serve as a reminder that we came through those times and can now be brave and build exciting times ahead. And that is where I am now – working hard to accept all my crumples and creases (not just the ones on my face!) and move on stronger, not despite them but because of them. Life is about living beyond the crumpled paper, not trapped within it.

    crumpled1

     

    crumpled2

    crumpled3

    final crumpled paper