If I was better what would I change?

Mum with energy

So let’s say the combo of naturopath, CBD oil and Far Infrared mats (my newest investigation) didn’t just help me manage my Lyme/Fibro but actually returned me to full health.

What would I change?  What would I go back to doing?  What lessons have I learnt?

I think that it’s an important question to answer.  I’m NOT saying I want to be ill, or that anyone wants to be ill.  But I think that the possibility of health can seem so unlikely that we don’t aim for it or plan for it.

Would I put a pair of jeans back on?  Probably not as they never suited my short legs and Wildbangarang leggings add some fun to my life.

WildBangarangEvilEric

Jewelry? I’d be sparkly and jingly again in a heart beat!

Running?  Nah walking the dogs is more fun, but I’d go back to Zumba or take up dance classes for sure.

Sugar – I love a bit of cake, but I’m alright without biscuits.  I’m not that restricted diet wise.  Although diet may be coming up as a potential target at some point – I wonder what I’m willing to give up for full health?  It might sounds weird, but ‘we’ often do struggle with giving up food that makes our problems worse.

Work – would I make the most of it and start working 60hr weeks, like they say you should when running your own business?  It would be a huge relief to be back up to speed.  It would be wonderful to be cognitively fast again.  But I don’t plan on regretting missing another summer with my kids or dropping the ball at school because I never do drop off or pick up.  I would like to be able to do more and quicker, but not work every hour that god sends.

My cleaner?  I know some people think this is a huge luxury, but it is not one I’m willing to give up.  Even if I’m better, it’s still a juggle with work and kids

Just So Festival

My kids – wow it would be wonderful to be able to play physically more, not worry how much energy is left for the chores & to do’s and eek it out.  I love all the creative stuff I do with them, but I deserve more memories than that.  Starting to go back to Festivals with them would be a good start.  Heh, when we can afford it again we could take the kids snowboarding, I’d love that.  Oh and when you are tired, patience is soooo difficult!

Friends – they’ve been very patient, I’d have a long list of catching up to do and I owe a lot of relatives Christmas cards.  But obviously my list shortened over time – not everyone was as patient.  I’d definitely like to go out.  Not lots, as I prefer the way we spend our money.  But just to have some girly fun every now and again at a birthday party or to go to wedding receptions.

Planning my energy? – At the moment I plan my energy usage.  A visit to London requires a rest the next day.  A busy week finishes with a couple of hours on the sofa as the big hairy northern one takes the kids to tap class.  I’d love to have the freedom to go to any conferences or events I want to.  But not overloading our calendar or over stimulating the kids is definitely a good plan.  I wonder if I can trust myself to keep that lesson?

To do list
To do list

Sleep– I’ll stick to my early bed time, but not spend so long trying to get to sleep would be fabulous.  Having a more of a life in the evenings would be great.

Financial – if I was really truly better I’d save a fortune on supplements, but I reckon I’d keep seeing my naturopath every now and again.  I’m so not going to just put what I’d saved in the bank though – this girl needs to be a bit more frivolous and high maintenance 😉

Hobbies – wow would I have energy for something other than chores, kids & work?  Probably not until Espiritu was a little older, but the prospect would be good.

There’s not lots I’d change.  I would just live life to the fullest possible and enjoy my energy.  I must remember to spend that energy on the kids first before work/chores and leave some downtime for me.

It would be lovely not to be scared and overwhelmed.

So I’ve decided I’m going to aim for total health recovery.  Hey, if I fail, I’ll probably still have improved.  But if I don’t hold it as a possibility, then it’s very unlikely.  So I’m going to make a plan for how life will change when I succeed.  Just in case 😉

Progress

When Fibromyalgia is actually Lyme Disease

Exhausted Mums

I’m sorry, it has all been a little bit about sickness recently hasn’t it?  Bit boring really, so I’m going to make this post succinct, and then move onto more interesting subjects for a while 😉

Some background: since June last year, I got really sick.  I’m better, but I can’t work full time, find it difficult standing up and haven’t regained my stamina or my cognitive ability.  I am managing to juggle the mum-kids thing better and the CBD oil is a big help.  But I am very up and down, and the only solution seems to be lying flat.  The girls at Espiritu are getting stronger and stronger, and taking more and more work off me; I’m very lucky.

I felt there was more to it than ‘stress’, I felt ‘wrong’ inside, and eventually shouted enough to get referred to a Rheumatologist.  I was really excited – someone who would actually know about Fibro etc and be able to help!   Hmmmm.  Not so much.  I saw her in November after waiting 5 months.  She was really grumpy that a Dr had dared to diagnose me without a specialists help, told me I didn’t have Fibromyalgia, did some auto-immune tests, and said if they came back clear then she didn’t want to see me again.

I don’t agree with her – my initial symptoms for the 4yrs previously were very Fibro, and I’m grateful I had a Dr who was aware of what they meant.

I do agree with her that the new symptoms weren’t – and actually I’d made the mistake of seeing a different Dr (you know how difficult it is to get appointments), who wouldn’t listen to me about that.  The good news was she referred me to a neurologist (I’m still waiting) and a physio (I’m still waiting).

I was very upset and down about it.  Why do we hope for help from the medical system so much, when we know how limited they can be as well?

I had been googling my new symptoms over and over.  Over and over one thing came up: Lyme Disease.  I was hoping that I was just jumping on the bandwagon – you know how we see an advert on the TV about stomach pains and immediately worry that we have cancer?  That’s what I was hoping.

Eventually I pulled myself together and went back to see my ‘right’ Dr rather than the first appointment available.  I felt silly.  But went through my symptoms with him again and asked if he thought that I might have something different.  Much to my surprise he agreed and said he wanted to do some research and would call me.  The call came with a recommendation to read Dr Horowitz’s book ‘Why can’t I get better’ (Warning: it’s a LONG, complicated book).

I filled out the questionnaire and was worried to find that I came out strongly as Lyme.  Then when I had a flare next I went back to the Dr, who was unusually down.  He confirmed that I have a ‘clinical diagnosis’ of Lyme – i.e. from my symptoms.  I’ve had the blood tests – they don’t point to any other weird illnesses.  They also don’t show positive for Lyme, but that’s a whole other story and political mess as ‘google says’ that they only work 20-50% of the time.

Bless him, I felt sorry for him – there isn’t anything he can do.  The NHS doesn’t officially recognise chronic Lyme, even though people die from it.  The official treatment is 2 weeks of antibiotics (I had 4 before Christmas and felt amazing, but the bleugh returned as soon as I came off).  The ‘Dr risks getting struck off’ treatment is 2yrs of double antibiotics, some intravenously.  I can’t afford the german blood tests that would prove I have Lyme (which the NHS would still ignore), or the £60k to be treated in Texas.  I didn’t have any ideas on what to do because the alternative options are so overwhelming, confusing and complicated.

Progress

But there is some good news.  It looks like Mr Taxman owes me some money, yay!  So I saw a Naturopath this week, who does know what to do.  I’m going to spend my money on her, rather than blood tests, as I’m more interested in getting better than proving to people who still think I’m stressed or need to ‘just get up and keep on going’ like they do.

I’m crossing fingers that you’ll see a much more positive post in about 6 months time.  When I get my head around understanding Lyme, I’ll write up about it too.

But for now, I think we’ll move onto more interesting subjects shall we?

CBD oil for Pain Relief & Sleep Problems

CBDoil FibromyalgiaI apologise, I’ve been promising this post for months, and really it’s pretty easy to write, I just didn’t get round to it.

If you have a weird funky illness that gives you pain and sleep problems, the I really recommend CBD oil made from Cannabis oil.

There is no ‘hit’.  Just pain relief and a good 6hrs sleep, sometimes more.  Potentially a slight anxiety reduction as well.

I buy mine from CBD Brothers (The white label cheaper version).  Now I’ve been told that lots of CBD oil sold online is from Hemp oil.  I can’t be sure, but the results are great and they assure everyone that it’s from Cannabis oil.

I’m not fixed.  But I’m functioning, and I’m sure it’s the oil that’s doing it.  I’ve been taking it since September and I get through a bottle about once every 5 weeks.

I have better sleep than I’ve had in years, without any other supplements/herbs (I used to have a huge selection).  I take it 1-2hrs before sleep (it can have a stimulating effect if taken too close to bed time). (I drop under my tongue, held there for about 3 mins).

Then I take it in the morning and I can feel the pain relief within about 10mins.  The couple of times that I’ve forgotten to take it, have really proved how much it reduces my pain levels.

I also have the balm, which I can apply straight to any shooting pains or chronic pain that I get – this is amazing, because those sorts of pains would normally cause me problems for days (shooting pains in my head or arms in particular).  I’ve only bought one lot of the balm and it still has loads left.

How does it work?  Put very simply the theory goes that the CBD oil helps the existing Cannaboid cells in our body that are struggling to get rid of all the nasty stuff (technical term!), as they are already overloaded with Pollution and rubbish diets.  So it’s helping the body to help itself.

What can it work for?  I think anything that is brain or stomach based (where there happen to be lots of these Cannaboid cells.  It’s is suggested that it can therefore help Fibromyalgia, M.E. CFS, Epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Cancer etc.  Although I have a friend who is a nurse, who has found that some epileptic children who tried it had fevers and sickness (I don’t know where that CBD oil came from) – so as with all things it may not work for everyone.

I don’t know if it can help you, but I think it’s worth trying if you are struggling.  Please let me know in the comments how it goes.
*Gentle hugs*

Why my body suddenly crashes

Target

This is how my body works …..

“Right then, we have a target, all hands on deck we have a target”

“We estimate that this project will take <xyz> amount of energy over <abc> number of days: initiate gradual send out of energy per day”

“Oh shit, we estimated wrong”

“Initiate borrow of energy from ‘Bank of Energy’ to reach end of target”

“Yay target reached!”

“Warning, warning, insufficient energy creation ability to pay back energy debt, the bank is pulling the plug”

“Warning, warning, the plug is being pulled, the plug is being pulled”

 

Cue my body literally feeling like someone let the energy plug out, differing degrees of pain and numerous other symptoms slumped on sofa for <efg> no of days.  And no, I couldn’t just keep going anyway.

Targets so far were – a 2 month project working until midnight every night to work out the necessary price changes at Espiritu.  It was the right choice, and I felt confident and sure that I’d been as fair as possible to everyone – clients, staff and the business.  I was so amazed how my body did, and really thought I’d stopped in time.  However 5 days later at the end of June I was hit by the worst pay back I’ve ever experienced and those 2 months cost me nearly 4 months (read my post about silent illness here).

I started to feel human again 3 weeks ago.  There was a project (a client Christmas party and some new recruits).  I worked hard (until 11pm this time, not midnight).  It was really successful and the new girls are wonderful.  I crashed for 4 days.

So I took it easy this week.  But I spent too long at the salon yesterday, and suddenly the plug was pulled.

Do I get a warning?

Not really, and sometimes I’m too committed to the project with little option (yes I delegate and make sure we do as few projects as possible, but it’s a new business and there are always unexpected eventualities).  But the pain during the Christmas party was a pretty good hint there was going to be payback.  Yesterday I think that it was the over riding urge to get home, which I listened to – but I still felt guilty when leaving work.

The problem is that my estimations are all wrong.  Then once committed to a project, the determination inside of me will always get me to the end.

This must be why people get sick on holiday – so they get sick once they are done.

I need to learn how to leave enough space for ‘new business type unexpected crap‘ to show up, whilst fitting in projects and not using my [determination of an ox] button to ensure successful completion.  Oh and don’t forget the ‘has 2 young children‘ factor.

If I find the answer, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, do as I say, don’t do as I do, because I’m really not a good example!  Take care of yourselves, give yourself time to fill up your energy savings.

p.s. I have found something that has been helpful with the pain & fibro sleep issues.  I’ll blog in a week or so.

p.p.s The rheumatologist doesn’t think I have Fibro – hmmmm – I’m awaiting blood tests and a referral to the neurologist.

p.p.p.s Why did I write a blog post if I’m tired – tbh I type quick and it feels good to do something very ‘me’ – I love writing.

The face of silent illnesses

This is the face of illness ……

Silent Illnesses

 

It doesn’t look particularly ill does it?

Honestly I don’t mind.  If I looked like I felt, it would be pretty catastrophic, and at least I don’t have that to worry about.  I don’t need lots of sympathy all the time either.  Although, I suppose it might be a helpful reminder to people that I’m not up to scratch.

I also have a big habit of ‘putting a good face on’ – one of my weaknesses/strengths who knows!

To those who know me well, there are dark rings under my eyes, a slight tightness to them due to the pain, I look a bit drawn, and my skin on my hands and feet is a mess – no sores or injuries are healing.  (Good news though, the hair on my legs isn’t growing either, so no need to shave – result!).

So what’s the matter?  Some form of Fibromyalgia flare up, brought on by a shock at work last summer, a years worth of stress, a lot of changes at Espiritu, a significant shock and concern over one of my children, and over work.  Apparently I then got an ear infection at the end of June and my whole body went haywire.  It’s the worst ‘flare’ I’ve ever had, with totally different symptoms from what I’m used to.

I knew I’d worked too hard.  So as soon as the project was finished, I took some time out and had a pamper at work.  But it was too late.  It started with feeling really tired for a couple of days – the kind of tired when there is nothing left in the tank.  Then I had some pain in my upper back.  Then it went into my head, down my arms and 111 had me rushing off to hospital with a suspected heart attack/stroke (I was shitting myself).  I was bedridden for 3 weeks, half of that pretty comatose.  The rest of the time I was in so much pain I couldn’t lift my head off the mattress.

WildBangarangEvilEric

I haven’t been able to wear Jeans all summer – that would hurt too much on my skin.  It’s either maxi-skirts, or leggings; thank goodness for the Big Hairy Northern one’s new business Wildbangarang – at least the leggings weren’t boring!  I can’t wear a watch or my normal heavy, sparkly jewellery because it would hurt too much (not a big deal I know, but it’s like a part of me has gone).  There are days when a bra is a big no no.  Glasses can be really heavy too – so for the first couple of months I was very limited as to how long I could wear mine.  I couldn’t even hold a phone to use Facebook – tragedy!

It’s amazing the difference between lying flat, lying leaning on a pillow, sitting with your legs up, sitting, standing and walking – I never understood that there was such a difference in how much energy it takes to do these things.  I love the ‘Spoon Theory‘ as a description of how forward thinking us Fibro-Peeps have to be – but seriously, to have to consider how long I can sit/stand is bizarre!

Did you know it’s tiring to watch TV or a film?  Although less tiring than Facebook, which I had a good break from.  And reading – wow it was a big day when I was well enough to read a book!
The Dr’s have been pretty pants tbh.  Eventually I was persuaded to go back on some pills (a light Nortriptyline dose, as I hated Amytriptyline last time) to give me a deeper level of sleep.  But when I went back for help, they just want me to wait to see the specialist.  In November.  Thanks for that – I couldn’t work, play with my kids or do anything.

Pilates and Fibromyalgia

The best help I had was from Teejay and Susan at Applied Pilates.  Teejay did some Osteolates on me and explained that I had some form of physical post-traumatic stress reaction.  Basically my body had shut down, there was no circulation in it, and the cells just had no energy whatsoever.  The remedy – no stress (slightly tricky as a new business owner!), lots of rest, and gentle sessions with himself or my girls at work to try to get the circulation and lymph system going.  It was a big relief to talk to someone who had so much experience of these sorts of weird physical reactions.  I think that what we always need is a plan – some form of hope is the first step to getting better.  Susan has been a constant source of support every week in the Pilates classes (using Stott Pilates machines, not mat work).  I’m not really ‘doing Pilates’, I’m just going through the motions to keep my body moving – it’s been more being there that has helped.

Most of the summer holidays was a massive juggle – rather than the normal holiday juggle of mine and the hairy one’s work, we also had to fit in my resting, or find things I could do with the kids whilst horizontal.  I am getting better.  But it is slow.  Oh so bloody slow – I’m not the most patient person in the world 😉

But it’s not all bad news:Hair Beauty Salon & Spa

It’s was a very busy 6 months at Espiritu, but we achieved a mammoth load of change, and it is definitely on the right track now.  It wasn’t a bad thing for us to have a quiet 3 months with little change.  It’s definitely taught me how to slow down and plan ahead to make the changes more manageable in future.

The girls have been incredible.  To be able to be sick for this period of time and only manage a couple of hours a week is amazing.  I can’t thank them enough.  If it had been last year, we just wouldn’t have survived.  I know that I’m really, really lucky to have a team like them behind me.

Every now and again I do something a bit daft, that I know I’m not really up to, but feel that if I can’t then what’s the point.  So we had a couple of trips into London to see some shows.  I pay for these moments of madness, but do love the memories they give.

Par Sands Beach

We had a lovely week in Cornwall thanks to my brothers cabin, which was wonderful – can’t beat a British beach – and I’m sure that all the sea air through the sinuses and freezing cold sea (it’s good for pain) really helped.  I can’t wait to go back there next year!

Curly Headed Boy initially reacted pretty badly – it had been a tough 6 months with me working loads, and he was there when 111 told me to go to hospital.  He got scared.  He got angry.  He wasn’t really pleasant.  But over time he has calmed, and we have spent much more time together.  He has learnt to not be quite as scared of weakness, and we have had some much needed chats and cuddles.  Although there are some things coming up this year that he is worried about, I feel that we are on a much even keel; cross fingers.

Little Dimples is still a little spooked by it all and clingy at times.  Also angry at times.  And being only 5, she isn’t managing to process it as easily as CHB.  So she is my next focus.  But she has learnt to cycle without her stabilisers, yay!

I don’t have the excruciating pain any more.  I can manage a couple of hours at work, and am OK in meetings now, as they are sitting down.  I’m not good at standing up – I still get pressure in my head, neck, shoulders and arms, and I feel generally ‘wrong’.  I’ve got constant heart palpitations, but apparently it’s not dangerous.  My brain isn’t working quite right, but my sleep has improved.  And I get tired real fast.  There are not a lot of spoons left in my drawer!

And I have a plan ……  I’ll tell you more about it over the next couple of weeks.

I’ll try to keep my blog posts short and sweet, so that they don’t overload me.  But writing is an important ‘coming back to me’ thing and if the ideas I’m trying work, then it’s important I share them.  Sadly I’ve had to step down from my Radio Verulam gig though – it’s just not possible at the moment.  It kept me posting through these last 2 years, and I loved every minute of it.

How to invest in yourself!

So back at Radio Verulam today with the Gorgeous Danny Smith and I was inspired to chat about ‘investments’ by Curly Headed Boy.

It’s spring time, maybe you need a fresh look at your life and a bit of an overhaul?

The question is how to invest in yourself?

Money Saving.

Money Saving Tips
Money

We are quite strict that even from pocket money, our kids have to put something aside.  It’s just so that it becomes second nature to them and eventually when they start to earn money, they naturally expect to be putting a minimum of 10% away.  Otherwise, his head will be automatically working out how he can spend every penny.  Instead, he will automatically assume that some money goes into savings.

It’s not about how much money you earn.

Its about the amount of value that you get from it.

And how much money is left at the end of your month!

As he looks like he would prefer a creative career, he is going to definitely have to manage his money really well to weather the highs and lows, as it’s unlikely to be consistent.

Yes, he might be really successful, but it might not be long term, or he might get one big windfall, that he could blow through really quickly.  In fact we had an award system, where he earn’t quite a lot of money, and what inspired this post was that he agreed to put 50% of it away into savings.

Imagine if you’d put aside all that money since you were a kid?  At 45, I’d have a lot more going on!  Women need to be especially aware of the fact that we have a tendency to not prioritise our pensions ahead of the needs of our relationships or families.

If you would like to start, but can’t afford 10%, just work towards it.  £5 is enough, as it’s a step in the right direction.

Try to create 2 different savings options:

1) Savings forever (not to be touched apart from investing in houses/education)

2) Savings for fun (don’t pay for Christmas and holidays afterwards when the fun is over)

Check out the rest of my money saving tips here.  I have no doubt that they’ll help you out of a financial hole, make sure that you have more value from the money that you spend, and help you to be financially healthier.

 

Your Health

green and red healthy food

This should actually come first in my opinion.  There’s no point in saving money if you don’t have a good quality or long enough life.

I know that things happen, and we can’t plan for everything.  But there is no doubt that your quality of life will be better if you drink water, eat healthily, and exercise.

I like to focus on being HEALTHY, then FIT (no point in being fit without health), and STRONG (which means toned and tends towards slimmer).  Check out all my tips on how to get healthy without dieting or killing yourself with exercise.  It’s so easy to try to go for a quick fix, but we all know THEY DON’T WORK!

Then you need to remember that everyone needs downtime, otherwise the levels of cortisol (stress) just get higher and higher and higher.  That affects your immune system and leaves you open to illnesses and diseases, like my Fibromyalgia.  I know you will get stressed again.  But there will have been a dip, and that is what is important.

Remember, that it’s not selfish to take care of yourself!

 

Your Mind

Great books for mums
Books, books, books …

Have you heard the theory that if you spend 15mins extra a day learning something, then you will overtake your 99% of your peers within a couple of years?

That’s how I did so well in IT.  I wasn’t a natural at it, but I studied every night, and within a few years they’d forgotten my initial struggles.  Eventually I became a global guru – crazy!

You see it at school every day with kids.  The teachers nag parents to read once a night with their children, just for 5-10 mins.  It sounds like so little, that it’s easy to drop.  However, 3-4 years down the line, it’s really obvious which children did or didn’t get that time.  (I know that parents are often busy and it’s not always easy to fit in time with the kids).

However, as old readers will know, I’m not sure about the idea of pushing yourself to pay for a private education, as I’m not convinced it always pays off.  Hence we moved Curly Headed Boy from private back into the state sector.  So don’t assume that education has to cost lots.  Mind you, him being so keen on dancing is a bit of an investment!

I see it as an employer all the time.  Those in my team with a passion for learning are on Youtube and keeping up to date and improving constantly.  The others are just fine, but they don’t do as well and naturally don’t attract as many customers.

It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time.  Just lots of little consistent bits, is what adds up eventually.

 

Your Community

Charity Shop Finds
Butterfly Sparkles!

I must admit that I believe that what you give out you get back.  If I smile at people, I tend to mainly get smiles back.  There are a few grumpy people, but the smiles I get back cheer me up.  It’s not any extra pressure on my day to make this little effort, and I get rewarded in bucket loads.

The same goes for ‘paying it forward’.  I don’t believe it’s right to be a martyr, or give so much of yourself that you damage your health and family.  But our community is important, and there are always things that you can do , however little.

Maybe it’s in helping to spread the word about a new small business on Facebook?  A simple share of one of my posts for Espiritu, is amazingly helpful.  I have lovely clients who regularly mention us whenever someone asks for a local hair/beauty salon or Spa.  I’m really lucky, so I like to help out other businesses where I can.

Perhaps you support the local charity shop where you can by buying from there and giving them things that you are finished with.  I’ve made amazing purchases in charity shops in the past, and my kids love them.  There was a really interesting post though over on a friend of mine’s blog, where she was feeling guilty about wanting to sell some more expensive items.  No you should never feel guilty – it’s not right to put yourself in trouble.

Or maybe it’s helping out at your kids school a couple of hours a week if you have the flexibility?

Remember, you don’t have to solve a WHOLE problem – that’s what often stops people from helping out, donating or volunteering.  Just help a little – and all the little bits add up.

 

What else?

What do you think that you should invest in?
What have I missed out?
Friendships? – I kind of fit that in with community, but many invest much more in their friendships.
Clothes? – I recently bought some clothes, as there is an expectation that I look a certain way for work, but I’ve never bought anything outrageously expensive, as I’m way too tight fisted.
Relationships? – So difficult to juggle with a family and kids, but they can last a lifetime, so worth investing in.
Houses? – With all the changes in our economy, maybe it isn’t a priority anymore to invest in bricks and mortar?
Watching TV – there is social side to this, where you can feel left out if you don’t know what’s going on!
Is it possible to have romance and kids?

How, why and what on earth is ‘Loving yourself’?

I was on the radio tonight with the ‘Gorgeous Danny Smith’ on his Drivetime show on Radio Verulam (you can listen again for a week here – monday 5.30-6pm), talking about ‘Self Love’.  It’s a bit cliched maybe, but also really important, and something I’ve been thinking about and wishing a few of my friends would practice more this month.

Why Bother?

Is it possible to have romance and kids?
A hug
First off, I need to explain to you why it is so important to you and to the ones you care for, and your success that you love yourself.
1) Healthy relationships – when you don’t love yourself, you will attract people looking for someone damaged.  Not being nasty, but they are either a hero type looking to rescue you (not always healthy, as it creates co-dependence) or take advantage of you (which can turn really abusive).
2) Your Vulnerability – This means that you will be much more vulnerable in your relationships, and often rather than considering your opinion of yourself to be really important, you can prioritise that of the person taking advantage of you, who is unlikely to give you a balanced view.  This could be someone tending towards the abusive side of the behaviour spectrum, or someone definitely that way, so the temptation to make you feel small and reduce your confidence will be too big for them to ignore.  I’m not suggesting that you become an arrogant person who only considers themselves – I’m just suggesting that ‘To thine own self be true’ is an old and wise adage (Danny being much younger than me, hadn’t heard this one!).
3) You Loved Ones – Meanwhile your ability to give the people you love what they deserve will be severely effected if you don’t rate yourself and take care or nurture yourself.  You won’t have enough energy to show them you love them or confidence to go out and achieve success and follow through of your purpose.

How To Do It?

Time for Change
So hopefully you have heard all this ‘put yourself first’ and ‘love yourself’ malarkey enough, for this post to be pointing you in the right direction.  The problem is, how to convince yourself you are worth it and keep at it.
1) Time: Honestly, this is something that takes a time.  For some it could be 6 months, but for many of us, it’s more of a ‘journey’.  The good news is, that once enroute, you will start to get immediate rewards; you don’t have to wait for the end when you totally love yourself unconditionally.
2) Compare like for like: You need to start comparing like for like.  That is, YOU ARE NOT LIKE ANYONE ELSE, so stop feeling guilty because you need more support than Mrs X or you aren’t as brilliant as Mr N!  No you are not as brilliant at that, but there will be SOMETHING ELSE that you are better at.  Yes, you might need more help or support than her, but you are in a DIFFERENT situation.  Plus you don’t know the whole situation they are in, as people always lie and keep stuff quiet!
3) Stop Aiming For Perfection: All this stuff you judge yourself for; what are your expectations, are they possible?  Maybe there is something that you could improve.  Great.  Go do it, and don’t worry about it anymore.  But I bet you a huge amount of stuff is things that aren’t that important, or aren’t you at all, or aren’t possible.  I have an issue where I don’t judge other people for their standard of living at all, but for some reason I have very high expectations on myself; ridiculous!  The true me is happy wherever she is, as long as she has access to fresh air, a few pretty things (gotta love some vintage pretties!) and happy kids.
4) Think about your loved ones: When you are struggling, think how will it help your loved ones for you to love yourself more.  You’ll be so much more able to be present with them, plus you’ll be mentoring a healthier way of living to your children.
5) Your Goals and dreams:  In order to achieve, we need to feel that we are worth it, and deserve the success and abundance.  So remember your biggest dream the next time you are mean to yourself!
6) Make mistakes:  Allow yourself the right to make mistakes, take responsibility for them and gain the confidence to accept them.  It is HUGE to be able to feel confident enough to accept when we didn’t get something perfect, or could improve something, or made a mistake.  It’s actually a lovely feeling to be able to put your hands up and accept responsibility for it.  Only then can you actually move forward and improve things as well.  This will ensure you are much better at your job as well; as an employer I can tell you it’s not the mistakes that bother me, but the backstabbing and trying to cover their butts that is the issue (don’t ever try that with me, I always know!).

What is it

Chance for a cuppa
Cup Of Tea and a chat is good for the soul
So you want to learn to love yourself?  How will you know you are doing it?  When you naturally act as though you have:
1) The right to the basics: Many mums refuse themselves tea, flossing and peeing, but we deserve those 2 minutes!
2) The right to health: We all deserve refresh air, exercise, fruit & veg, water, rest and sleep.  Yes, I know it may not be viable for you to get everything you would like (e.g. Mums), but we all deserve some time every week to nurture ourselves and look after our health.
3) Your thoughts:  Think kind thoughts about yourself and stop saying horrible things to yourself.
4) Friends: Busy lives are a given, but we all have the right to see/talk to  friends sometimes.  I’ve just seen a friend who I haven’t seen in 2yrs.  Yes, I would have loved to have seen her more, and no it wasn’t possible.  But I took the whole 2.5hrs available when I did get the chance, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  (Move soon please hun!).
5) Pamper: It might only be once a year, but we all deserve to have a haircut sometimes, or a treat.  I wrote lots of ideas in this previous post about pampering.
6) Hobbies:  Again I know that time is restricted, especially if you have a baby.  But life comes back to some form of normality (ish!) eventually, and everyone has some kind of creative urge or favourite hobby that is a break from every day life and expresses themselves.  I’m not good at it, but I love to draw, and have even made a few things with my sewing machine.
7) Good Boundaries: We all have the right to refuse to be treated badly.  I’m not suggesting you start an argument, or create conflict, or try to change your partner.  Just that it’s Ok to be clear on what behaviour you can and can’t accept.  How to explain to people and teach them how to treat you, is one of my most popular blog posts here

I hope that this blog post is the one that kicks you into action to show yourself more compassion, love, and appreciation!  If not, I hope that it’s not far off and the next time someone mentions it, you decide it is time.  Remember that everyone wants to be loved, but the most important person to love you is yourself.

New Life Resolutions

By now most of you guys will have started and stopped your New Year Resolutions.  Never fear; that’s perfectly normal!

January is a time for reflection.  March and September are the time for new resolutions.

But I was thinking after seeing a funny YouTube video, getting a bit down about the state of the world, and after a team meeting at Espiritu, what 3 resolutions would make the biggest difference to this world of ours or more importantly mine 😉

So I thought I’d chat about it with the ‘Gorgeous Danny Smith’ on his Drivetime show on Radio Verulam this month.  (You can listen again for a week here – monday 5.30-6pm)

 

Step 1: If you can’t say something kind, useful or positive, then don’t bother

This is my new mantra at home with the kids.  What’s the point in wasting energy saying something something mean or teasing or sarcastic?  It’s not funny.  It’s pointed and if I’m going to get all ‘tree huggy’ about it, you can literally feel the energetic stabs at people.

I’m busy.  I’m tired.  I have not got the energy to purposely irritate someone – whereas Curly Headed Boy when in ‘stinky boy’ mode, loves to wind up his sister – WHY for the love of God?

I know that I’m a soft Bristolian, but seriously if what you are going to say picks on people’s insecurities, then it’s really not necessary.  And you might not be meaning to be mean, but are you really sure that the person you are talking to is as secure as you think?

I LOVE Michael Mcyntyre because he manages to be funny without being horrible about people.  Check out this hysterical video about leaving the house as a parent ….

 

Why on Facebook do people comment on something, expressing their opinions when they weren’t asked for?  Go and become more busy!  Even if they asked your opinion, is it really worth arguing about?

Work has been tough for me recently, rebuilding a business.  I need facts yes, and they aren’t always happy facts.  But what I need is people who are focussing on the facts and being positive and helpful.  But some people love a drama and being negative about stuff.  I get that this is the natural balance of life – in fact people who are very obtuse can be helpful.  But most of the time it’s just draining and ugh!

 

Step 2: Treat each other with respect, as you would wish to be treated, and give them the benefit of the doubt.

KArma

It’s pretty easy really – but actually in our busy modern lives we often don’t do this.  We jump to conclusions, and tend to think the worst of people.  We seem to have lost some of the traditional ‘British’ politeness, and whilst we probably needed to loosen up, I rather like the old kinds of values.

So …

If you don’t want your sister to snatch a toy from you, then don’t do it to them!

If you want the kids to talk politely to you, then be respectful towards them.

If you don’t want someone to judge you, then don’t be a cow to them.

If you don’t want your other half jumping down your throat, then don’t jump to conclusions with them.

If you’d like someone to be nice to you when you are old, grey and lonely, then maybe be thoughtful of that old neighbour or relative now.

This obviously goes wrong if one person likes being kicked and the other person doesn’t.  Sometimes the other people don’t change their behaviour.  But generally speaking it works well.

There’s a woman called Byron Katie who has written an interesting book called ‘Loving What Is’ which suggests that due to the ‘Law of reflection’ (i.e. we just see ourselves in other people constantly), if you are upset with someone for doing or not doing something, it’s because it’s reminding you of you.

Other people think of it as the ‘Law of Karma’ i.e. what comes around goes around.  Curly Headed Boy has a tendency to wind up Little Dimples into doing things that he knows will be annoying for me.  The other day it backfired when it became annoying for him, so he pleaded with me to stop her.  At which point I was REALLY mean and suggested that I would step in when he mended his ways in teaching her more annoying stuff.  This has proved more difficult for him than you would think; so she is still annoying him mwahahah!

(p.s. I don’t believe that Karma is a judgemental thing as some do – more that it’s an ‘experience both sides of the story’ thing – plus it’s really complicated, so I only use it for more light hearted issues, not ‘why am I disabled’ etc).

Plus, there’s the whole ‘she/he did it first’.  To which my answer is ‘I can’t remember which one of you first wound up the other after Little Dimples was born, so who has done it today really doesn’t matter, as we don’t know who actually did it first’!

Imagine if countries thought this way, instead of Tit for Tat or Eye for an eye?  Imagine if they said ‘enoughs enough, lets call it a day’.

At least if we are kind to each other we won’t be exasperating an already horrid situation.  There are so many cases that we are dealing with now, where the people involved had something horrible happen to them not so long ago.  It could have a real impact if we all decided to treat each other with respect and compassion.

 

Step 3: Speak Your Truth

Rant with Megaphone

However, I’m not saying that you should become a mouse who lets everyone walk over you!

Or that you aren’t allowed to be angry.

Or that you aren’t allowed to expect fair justice.

Or that you aren’t allowed to stand up for yourself or protect yourself.

 

It’s really important to always say how you feel.  Saying how you feel means you aren’t attacking the person with insults e.g. instead of saying ‘You are always horrible to me and so stuck up’ you could say ‘I feel that you don’t listen to me or treat my ideas with respect, and it makes me feel unappreciated and angry’.

Saying how you feel stops resentment from taking over and you from then acting out that resentment.

I’ve written a whole blog post on ‘Teaching people how to treat you‘ – it’s definitely worth having a read if you want to know more about this.

It’s also really bad for your health to let that stuff fester inside of you.  If you find it’s just not practical to say how you feel (i.e. you might get hit or lose your job), then you can write it all down and burn the letter or imagine telling the person what you think in a meditation.  It can be amazingly cathartic and nearly as good as the real thing.

 

OK, so I know I’m being a bit fluffy and naive.  However, the fact is, if I smile at someone, a huge percentage will smile back at me.  If I scowl back at them, pretty much all of the people will glare back at me.  I can’t change the world, but I can insist that my kids learn some rules, that my workplace is a lovely place to work for my team, and that I follow these rules as much as is humanely possible.  At least I might make my little corner of the world a nicer place to be.

 

 

Why Pampering Is The Best Present You Can Give

Pampering – it’s one of the best presents you can give YOURSELF or your loved ones!

It might sound a bit ridiculous for the owner of a Hair & Beauty Salon and Spa to say this: But I hadn’t understand HOW important it is until recently.

Now Danny Smith at Radio Verulam is a big fan of a pamper, so I thought I’d chat with him about it, about how under-estimated it is.  People think of it as a treat – whereas, I’m beginning to understand that it’s essential.

If you missed us, you can listen again for a week here.

 

What is a pamper?

Chance for a cuppa
Cup Of Tea and a chat is good for the soul
A Pamper is time.
Time for yourself.
Often considered a treat.
Normally associated with something relaxing or revitalising.
Misconstrued as expensive and something that only happens sometimes unless you are really rich.
Many people only think of a pamper as a beauty treatment or Spa service, however, I think of it as anything that makes you feel special and wonderful.  It’s something that brings joy to your life; but you need to be fully present with it and fully ‘in the moment’ if you are going to get all the benefits.
It’s more like a special moment, that can be anything from 5 mins to a whole day.

Why is it important?

Life Is Not Measured by the number of breaths we take ...
Life Is Not Measured by the number of breaths we take …

 

I know we have busy lives, so you might have a pamper one day, but still have to go back to reality and the stresses of every day.  I used to think that therefore it wasn’t that important.  Especially when I was focussed on the therapies I used that clear out old hurts and traumas; I often forgot about daily life.
But I’m convinced that if I’d spent more time thinking about myself on a daily basis I wouldn’t have got Fibromyalgia and now be faced with all the struggles physically, emotionally and mentally that limit me.  (I might have got my head around them, but still, I could have missed that whole learning and gone straight to the winning line!).
A pamper will reduce your stress and cortisol levels.
Why bother you might think?  Because stress increases your cortisol levels, which affects your sleep, your quality of living and attacks your immune system.
A strong healthy body means that you can make the most of the good days and sail through the bad days.
So to me, that is a great investment – we never know how long we have here on this earth, so every day is important.

How often?

6 Steps To A Sparkling You
6 Steps To A Sparkling You
So many people I know think that having a yearly pamper is enough.  Or maybe a quarterly one.  Some go as far as making it monthly.
Since writing my book ‘Six Steps To A Sparkling You and Enjoying Being a Mum’, I’d increased it to weekly.
But with some recent huge stresses in my life, I realised that I need it DAILY.
Do you think that is really greedy?
Maybe it is.
But being faced with panic attacks, heart palpitations and constant sugary feelings, I realised that I didn’t have much choice.
So over the past 6 weeks, I’ve been coming up with different options for pampering.

Self Pamper

Great books for mums
Books, books, books …
Remember that it’s about bringing a moment to your life, with some joy, and a feeling of happiness or calm.
Often it’s about adding something to make the moment more special.
What works for me is:
  • A 15 min walk in nature.
  • Popping to a coffee shop with Little Dimples.
  • A bath with a lovely bath oil, candles and calming music for 30mins.
  • Going to Pilates
  • A massage/manicure – I know it’s a bit obvious, but it can’t be beaten.
  • Watching a rubbish catchup TV program in bed (I don’t get to watch TV very often, so it’s a treat for me)
  • A catchup with a friend without kids 😉
  • Reading a book, snuggled up, with a smelly candle and lovely music
  • Doing a meditation

 

Pampers you give

I think that our houses are pretty full of STUFF!  So if you can give a ‘pamper’ or something that your loved one can use to self-pamper, then you are not just giving them a short moment of relaxation.  You are also giving them the opportunity to have a healthier, happier life for a period of time.
So they make a great Birthday or Christmas present.  Or maybe a spontaneous present to show how much your appreciate them!
Here are some ideas:
AromaWorks Candle
AromaWorks Candle
  • Candles: but be careful to get them ones that will keep them healthy – I prefer beeswax candles, because Paraffin wax candles are the ones that make all that black smoke.  Think about the black marks they leave on a wall, and then think about your lungs.  We sell Aroma-works candles at Espiritu, and because they are beeswax, they smell all the way to the bottom of the jar.

 

Spa Gift Voucher

  • Gift vouchers: most beauty salons or Spas will let you choose a gift voucher for something specific, but let the person in question swap them if needed.  I recommend that you choose a specific one; if you are unsure the girls at the salon will be able to guide you as to what is ideal.

Pamper Parcels

  • Pamper parcels: I was sent THE MOST AMAZING box a couple of months ago from this lovely new company.  It had every thing you need for a pamper: a bath oil, candle, body moisturiser and of course chocolate!  The great thing about a ready made box like this is that there is no way that you could put it together yourself for the price.  Plus, if you aren’t artistically skilled, they have put it together with such cute little touches, that it adds to the whole experience.  So I can really recommend them!
Make your own pamper box
Make your own pamper box
  • Make a gift box yourself: However if you are artistically skilled, then hows about putting together your own box?  Rachel’s Organics sent me a lovely treat about 2 months ago.  It had a pair of warm wooly socks, 3 of their gorgeous mousses,  tea lights to put in the glass jars when I’d eaten the yummy desserts, a lovely silver spoon engraved with my blog name, and the cutest little Prossecco bottle.

 

Maybe the biggest gift we can give or receive is time and a moment?

I’d love to know what your favourite pampers are?

Have I convinced you to pamper yourself some more?

 

Disclosure: Although I’m not doing any reviews this year, I couldn’t resist when Pamper Parcels offered me a lovely pamper box in September, as they’d seen from Twitter that I was a little stressed.  A huge thank you to them, along with Rachels Organics who sent me a lovely box full of gorgeous chocolate & vanilla desserts and some really cute goodies in October.  I think that a little part of me was beginning to understand the POWER OF A PAMPER, but their thoughtfulness was really kind and helped me REALLY understand how much I needed it.  Thank you guys – you were like a subtle message from the ether – way more subtle than the panic attacks I had, but I put your boxes to good use then!

What to do if your job or business don’t seem to be doing well?

So I’m back with the gorgeous Danny Smith on Radio Verulam – thank goodness he keeps asking me in, otherwise I’d never get around to blogging.

Check out all my previous posts in the run up to Christmas if you need tips on what to buy, how to afford it or how to deal with the stress of it.

This time I thought I’d look at a slightly different side to Christmas; the stress of someone in a job that isn’t going well, or a business that needs a big improvement, especially when you know that ‘Christmas is coming’, along with a pile of bills!

This is probably the last in my posts about business and careers (although you never know!).  Remember beforehand I wrote about:

1) How to pick a business or career:

  • Having a Passion for it.
  • That it has the potential to make the kind of Profit that you would need and deserve after the investment of time and money
  • And That there is a Need for it.

2) Tips for Getting or Keeping a Job

  • How easy it is to make a good impression when you apply
  • Then when in the job that there are easy ways to keep making a good impression:
    • Work Smart
    • Do your job
    • Give to get
    • Be professional
    • Understand the brand

 

So are you not doing as well in your career as you hoped?

Or is your business not performing?

And you are doing all the above things?

Then there are 4 simple things for you to look at:

1) You are panicking

Frustration and anger

If you panic, you are going to run around like a headless chicken, fire fight, and probably make things worse.  It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy – the person who worries about losing their job, often behaves in a way that means that they will lose their job.  The fear will control their brain and mean that they aren’t working smart, or doing their job well.

Plus it’s important to keep your focus on what you DO want to happen, rather than what you DO NOT.  Our subconscious doesn’t pick up the NOT – so often we end up following the WRONG direction.  I’ll give you an example: it’s well know that when you want to lose weight, you need to focus on becoming healthy and slim, not on losing weight; otherwise you often gain weight.  Or how many times have you told a child to be careful to NOT do something; and they immediately do it.

Even if you are just breaking the problem down into daily steps, just focus on them one step at a time.  For instance, I’ve been through a restructure at work, so there was a lot of reorganisation needed and recruitment; it’s like a puzzle, you take each step slowly and start to fit everything together.  You don’t need to know the complete path when you start, you just start moving forwards slowly.

Here are some more tips on dealing with stress.

2) You are not letting people know

Rant with Megaphone

So you have a great business, or are wonderful at your job, but aren’t getting the recognition that you deserve, or the customers are going elsewhere?  Are you actually letting people know?  Are you clear on what your ‘USP’ is (Unique selling proposition – i.e. what you are good at).

Have you made sure that a company or customer looking for you can find you?  (E.g. google, Facebook, twitter, website, signs, brochures etc).  If you haven’t, then your customers often think that you aren’t interested in their business.

Remember in a 1to1 it’s always important to talk about your strengths as well as your development areas.  If you don’t, I can promise you that the other person is definitely talking themselves up.  It’s not boasting if it’s factual e.g. ‘I did this project and the result was xyz’ or ‘We have an 80% customer return rate’.

As a business you need to let people know why you are different from the restaurant down the road, or the other cupcake makers.  What makes what you do special?  This is where a clear niche makes your message clear, and ironically brings in more people who don’t quite fit your niche.

Don’t get fooled into thinking this needs to be expensive.  Or that everything has to be done all at once.  There are loads of marketing, customer service, PR and sales techniques that are free or inexpensive.

 

3) You are letting your self-confidence or self-esteem issues get in the way

 

Fur Monster

We all have baggage; people or situations that have knocked our confidence or made us doubt ourselves.  But if you let that show, then why will other people or customers trust you?  I’m not talking about walking around pretending all the time and being fake.  I’m just suggesting that if you are not sure of why you are fabulous and why customers should come to you, then they won’t come.

When I worry; and of course I do worry, as setting up a large hair and beauty salon and Spa inspired by the days of good service and glamour is a risk – people do sometimes prefer the dull and noisy salons elsewhere.  Then I remind myself of a few things:

  1. My job is not to convince everyone – just the people who would love to come to me and prefer it.  In fact it’s my duty to let them know, so that they get the opportunity to come.
  2. I remind myself of what I’m good at (and what I’m not good at).  That way I remember what my own personal USP is, and I make a backup plan for my weak areas.  Accepting responsibility for yourself and not blaming others is really important here.

4) It’s not exactly what you are meant to be doing

diamond heart
Sometimes we spend years not doing well in careers we never wanted or running businesses that don’t make our hearts sing.  What’s the point in that?  Yes, I know that there are practicalities to providing for a family and paying the bills, and it’s not always easy to change things.  But I can also guarantee that it’s very difficult to be successful at something that isn’t really YOU.
Are you really sure this job is for you?  Are the hours suitable to what you love in your life?  Do you really want to become like the people you are with?  Is it really how you would like to spend the next few years?  I had a couple of people come for job interviews recently, who didn’t really want to work at MY spa.  One just wanted a couple of extra days work anywhere; that’s fine, but Espiritu has a very specific ethos and I’m looking for people who are banging down the door to work there.  The other just applied because she was told to, and was trying to appease someone she loves; a recipe for disaster.
Now if this is where you find yourself, then what I recommend is that you make an exit plan.  It might be 1 to 10yrs; but it will be a plan, and if you are steadily working towards it, that is all you need.
If you would like to do something else, but it will earn you less money, check out my posts on how to get more value for your money, so that you don’t need to earn as much.
If it’s skill levels, then you just need to make a plan to train up.  But keep at it; I had a lovely girl apply for a job, but she hasn’t been constantly practicing her trade and has become rusty, so I need her to go away for 6 months, do lots of practice and then try again.
You may not know exactly, but have a hint, so work towards that at first, and all will become clearer.  (But be careful of ‘the grass is greener’ fantasies, and make sure that you look at the downsides of all options).

What’s the worst thing that could happen?

You know something has got to change right?  So you could try these ideas, and they might not work; in my humble opinion they weren’t meant to work then, and there will be something better out there (if you’ve followed everything from the last 3 posts).  You’ll also know that you really tried your best – better that, than not putting your whole effort in.
We ALL fail sometimes.
We ALL make mistakes sometimes.
It’s how you react to that, which will determine how your life unfolds.  You can still be happy, but poor (I’m not suggesting that it is heaven being poor, just that it’s not necessarily hell either).
Good luck to you – I know it isn’t easy.  Let me know if you have any specific questions that maybe I can help you with.  Or if there is something you want me to go into more detail on.