Masks, fuel and money in the bank.


In a recent conversation I was struck by the power that analogy has to illustrate and clarify a point.  I was inspired to recall the analogies I use in my coaching conversations and the gifts of Positive psychology.

Analogy 1.

You are on an aeroplane and the safety talk is underway, ‘In the case of an emergency put your own oxygen mask on before you help others’ In real life your oxygen mask is your self focus, your self-care, the amount of time you invest in yourself. An acronym for this attention is Spices – how well are you meeting your social, physical, intellectual, creative, emotional, and spiritual needs? Taking part in our positive psychology courses is an excellent way to meet these needs. When our needs are met we feel happier and more content. At home, keeping a gratitude journal can help you to exercise your self focus muscle by tuning in to and connecting with the positive aspects of your life.

Analogy 2.

You are excited to be driving to Devon for a summer break but soon you realise that there is not enough fuel in the car to get you there. If you don’t stop to top up the fuel in your car you will eventually breakdown. In real life you may be firefighting; dealing with one crisis after another, looking after everyone else first while leaving yourself short of time for you. This may lead to burnout. Being pro-active with your own self care is like adding fuel to your tank. You will feel more satisfied with life and be able to live your life with ease. Fresh air Fridays offer free half hour sessions using specific tools that will give you breathing space, an opportunity to tune into your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. At home, use a stopwatch to monitor how many breaths you are taking for a minute. Practice slowing your breathing down to 7 breaths or less, making the out breath longer than your in breath. This will engage the parasympathetic nervous system, the incredible system which calms the fight/flight response in your body. Slowing your breathing down will help you to feel calmer and more relaxed.

Analogy 3.

You find yourself in the situation where you have very little money in your bank account, and you need to pay your monthly bills. You may still be able to make the payment, but there will be a huge cost in the form of overdraft charges. In real life you have relationships with others and with yourself; this is your emotional bank account.  Investing in yourself and in your relationships is like making deposits into your bank account. This means that when there are challenging times your emotional bank account is not empty; it is in credit and withdrawals do not break the bank. Our free laughter sessions are one way to bring positive emotion and connection into your life, the equivalent of a huge deposit in your bank. Laughter encourages social bonds, improves your immune system and increases the rush of happy hormones coursing through your body. At home, practicing random acts of kindness, expressing gratitude and showing appreciation will improve your connection with yourself and with others.

As I take my clients for a walk out in nature, either individually or in a group, the changing cycle of nature is there to remind us all that there is a season for everything. It shows how the cycle of transition mirrors our own life, it is confirmation that change is inevitable and valid. Spring and winter are the beginning and end of the seasonal cycle and align with the ‘letting go’ of one thing and giving ‘birth’ to another. Summer represents the ‘growth’ period while Autumn signifies that completion is near and it is time to ‘take stock’. We can resist change or grow with it. Being self-interested, maintaining our focus, investing in our development and accepting the inevitability of change are key to a flourishing life, a life worth living.

Happiness Is Sharing


Love only grows by sharing.   You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others.’  

Brian Tracy

Sharing is being generous, trusting and open.

Sharing is being in it together, fitting together so that your energy is magnified. 

Sharing the load.  Carrying one handle each rather than two handles on your own.

Being magnanimous, wanting success for another and sharing their joy in it. 

Sharing is being on a tandem ride, sometimes in the front leading the way and sometimes at the back in a supporting role. Recognising that both are equally important, moving together towards a common goal.

Sharing is valuing another, giving and receiving in a balanced way.  Sharing is generous, without limits or conditions.  It is giving of yourself to others.  It is generously accepting of others goodwill.  It is part of being a team.

Sharing is putting your trust in yourself and others. It is moving through feelings of fear and inadequacy, it is putting yourself on the line.

‘If I share my thoughts, my feelings, and opinions with you will you validate or dismiss me?

How are you sharing yourself with others?

How does sharing benefit you?

How does sharing yourself benefit others?

‘Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ 

Norman MacEwan


The Game of Life


 ‘Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one  you had before’

Elizabeth Edwards

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. If life is a game then snakes and ladders is the one played most often.  The snakes represent times of crisis and the ladders are times of opportunity.  You can be moving through life quite easily and then suddenly you are in a crisis situation, sliding down a snake. Sliding down a snake can feel like your world is crashing down around you. You travel down, down and then even further down before seeing a ladder in front of you.

The ladder depicts times of opportunity and chance. Moving up the ladder can be exhilarating; it can be an exciting experience. These are the periods of celebration and success, which are an opportunity to build resilience. This is achieved by making deposits of faith and hope, which cushion the disappointment of sliding down the next snake.

Resilience is picking yourself up from an experience and continuing on your way. Resilience is a protective factor. It is accepting that there are both snakes and ladders in life and that you can take them in your stride. Resilience is stepping back from the game and seeing that there is both crisis and opportunity as we move through life. Resilience is knowing;

‘I can handle it’

What is likely to send you down a snake?

How can you manage this differently?

What do you need to get back on track?

What is likely to move you up the ladder?

How are you celebrating being on the ladder?

‘Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.’

Gever Tulley

A Clear Vision


 ‘Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart Carl Jung

Look back and learn, look forward and achieve. Vision is purpose. Vision is the fully created image on the jigsaw box. The jigsaw pieces are the steps that take you there.  Vision is your destination; it is where you are headed. Vision is how you want your life to be.

Vision is a creation of images, a statement of intention, the road ahead; it is your chosen path. Vision is letting go of the past and the present.  It is taking a leap of faith and exploring your future.

The vision you create for yourself is up to you. The tools are in your hands.  Given your attention your vision will evolve over time. It is full of possibility and opportunity. Visualisation is seeing with your mind, it is a skill that can be learnt. If memory is an old film, visualisation is a trailer for a new release.

Visualisation is mental rehearsal, it is a conveyor belt displaying the options available to you. The choice is yours. What will you add to your vision. Be bold, be visionary. Capture your vision in the best way for you, writing, talking, or with pictures. Tell others your vision, describe it in as much detail as you can, make it real.

Nothing is written in stone. Your vision is yours to play with, have fun with it.

My vision is …………………………………….

I see myself………………………………………..

I see others…………………………………………..

                        ‘The best vision is insight’ Malcolm Forbes

Cherish Every Moment


‘As you breathe in cherish yourself, as you breathe out cherish all beings’  Dalai Lama Xiv

To cherish is to treat gently, with warmth and understanding.  It is to marinade in love and to enjoy the pleasure this brings.  It is the holding kiss, cupped hands and tender touch.

Cherish others, cherish yourself.                

Appreciate what you have and who you are.  Cherish is a melting moment; something that warms you from inside and glows for all to see. Soak yourself in warm melting moments and give them out to others.  Value everything about your life and appreciate that everything has value. Cherish what others give to you, with appreciation and respect.

Cherish is liking what you have.

Cherish says ‘ I want the very best for you’ and ‘You are worth it’.  Cherish is a grown up nurture; I nurture my children, I cherish you. Being cherished is like being given a golden ticket to trust, confidence and self belief. 

Cherishing others is standing at the ticket booth, handing out that ticket. It is a passport to fulfilling relationships.

You deserve to be cherished.

Does what you receive from others;

  • Sound like love?
  • Look like love?
  • Feel like love?

Does what you give to yourself?  

  • Sound like love?
  • Look like love?
  • Feel like love?

                                           Cherish the love.              

Creativity is Visionary


Creativity is open, no holds barred, unrestricted. It thrives in variety, imagination and inspiration. Creativity is visionary – it forms an image in your head and gently manipulates it until it can be seen in the physical world.

You cannot put creativity in a box. It is outside of the box, thinking of ways to make a difference, improve a situation, or make a statement.

When logic says ‘No’ Creativity says ‘why not? Lets find a way’

Creativity is a colouring pencil. It has the potential to bring colour, depth and meaning to your life. Play, interesting, excited, positive, joy, confidence, energy, fun, vibrant – this is how creativity feels. Borrow these feelings from creativity to inject passion and enthusiasm into your life story.

Find one thing in your life that is evidence of your creativity and build upon it.

                  ‘Life must be lived as play’ Plato.



Letting go


‘Some think it’s holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it’s letting go.’  Sylvia Robinson

There is a connection – a bond, a tie, an attachment, an umbilical cord.  Imagine holding onto one end of a rope and another is holding onto the other end of the rope. You both hold on tightly. Wherever one of you goes the other one goes too. Generally you are content, either of you may occasionally be disgruntled but you are comfortable in your attachment.  The other starts to tug at the rope, you pull it back, they pull harder – it is a tug of war. You dig your heels in, they dig their heels in.

“I am powerless – I don’t know what else I can do”

Empower yourself, put the rope down.

You are inviting the conflict in.  Now you are faced with managing your loss, rather than managing the external conflict.

What have you lost? Make a list of all the little losses within the primary loss. You may need a large sheet of paper.

This is life……a multitude of losses and endless beginnings.

                     Breathe, trust, let go.

Time to Celebrate


‘It is good to have an end to journey toward – but it is the journey that matters in the end.’  Ursula K Leguin

It has been a joy. Like watching one of my favourite films I have been taken on a wonderful journey.  I have laughed and cried, been inspired and showered with wonder.

I am in awe. The joy that comes from taking time to reflect and appreciate fills me up.  This is the perfect end to a party; a cup of tea in hand, sharing the experiences and anecdotes with my loved ones. I am blessed with abundance.

Now that I have chosen to look around my stately home I recognise that I have all I need right here, right now.  I have some space to grow, some empty rooms that invite opportunity, some untidy rooms that reflect creativity and abandonment.  I have one room that is neat and uncluttered and a room in the garden to enjoy.

I am fortunate. I am a play in progress. I have welcomed play back into my life and my spirit is lifted.  Play nourishes me; it cradles my soul and makes me happy.

I love to celebrate.  It is the best reward. The recognition of all that has been and the hope of what is to come.

It has been a pleasure.

Make a splash. Challenge a wave. Embrace a friend.

The Heart of Passion


                            ‘Passion is the genesis of genius.’  Tony Robbins

Passion is where your heart is. If your head is reason then your heart is passion.  Passion is movement, momentum, it is a force for good.  Allow your passion to guide you towards your hearts desire.

If it was up to me I would…………….What would you do?

It is up to you.

Remove the barriers that hold your passion back and reveal the real you.

Passion is like being in love, it is all consuming, it takes you over.  Dig deep into your soul and discover what will move you out of bed, out of your head, look for something that will enrich your life and pour your heart into it.

This is your passion.

If it was up to me I would;

  1. ………………………………………
  2. ……………………………………….
  3. ……………………………………….

 Passion is oxygen of the soul


A Soft Place to Land


  ‘Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.’


Comfort is a soft place.  It is being held by someone you trust, with their arms, their empathy or their gaze.  Comfort is being understood and cared for.  It is curling up on a large sofa surrounded by cushions.  Comfort is a healing touch.  It soothes and caresses the physical body which calms the emotions.

Comfort is the pit stop of life; a place of recovery and repair.  Without comfort we walk through our life overloaded with baggage.  We stuff or rucksacks full of grief and collect bags of worry and guilt along the way.

A soft place allows us to lay down; to rest our bodies and lay down our burdens.  Identify your soft place.  It may be a person, a room, a chair, a bed.  You will recognise your soft place when you feel the tension release from your body. When your breathing is calm and even and when a feeling of well being spreads through you.

Being in your soft place is like coming home, connecting to your self.

Value your soft place and introduce more of them into your life.

Using your soft place is a reminder that you care for your self.

Let your self know that you are comfort–able.

My favourite soft place is ……………………………………………

Other soft places I could use are ………………………………..

  Everyone needs a soft place