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Easter and Traditions

This month I’m inspired by Voltaire, a French enlightenment writer, famous for fighting against religious dogma and traditions.  I particularly appreciate his quote:  Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege to do the same.

 

Which brings me onto thinking about Easter.  Religious dogma or tradition? Do you all agree in your household about your choice to celebrate and to mark the occasion of Easter?  It’s a genuine question as to my knowledge no holidays require you to celebrate them.  They require you to technically not attend work on a couple of select dates, (unless you work in the hospitality industry and then the rule appears to not apply to you.) Maybe your choice to celebrate Is formed around your desire to keep alive the alleged resurrection of Christ.   Or is the tradition of gifting the Cadburys chocolate whilst surrounded by chirping chicklets something that fills your heart with joy? For anyone in the latter group I feel obliged to point out that chocolate is available all year round and it’s legal to take a holiday at any time during the year.  But maybe for you eating hollow oval shaped overpriced branded candy whilst not at work around the first week of April is something that really works for you?

 

Or have we reached a pivotal point in history where we’re no longer questioning why we do what we do and feel as we feel?  Instead we have somehow become pre-programmed to do what we’ve always done; to follow suit.   Shallow diving through the surface of our lives forgetting we all have way more depth available to us in every  seemingly superficial scenario.

 

Marriage. I’m curious as to your views on this age-old celebration/contract/union. What does is represent for you? A chance to dress up as a princess for the day arriving to your event in a horse/unicorn drawn carriage tailed by the world’s finest cars (all on loan for the day).  Or a commitment to self, to love, support and accept another human until… you meet someone better? You tell me.

 

Cohabiting. A chance to share life experiences or the household bills?

 

Christmas. A celebration centering around an obese stranger named Santa Claus clambering down your chimney (even if you don’t have one) with a bunch of technology made in his remote log cabin in Lapland assisted by vertically challenged humans or a religious festival?

 

Respecting your elders. What, even the ones who are now behind bars for taking advantage of innocent and emotionally vulnerable victims/wannabes?

 

Eat up all your food from your plate. Even if the food sucks and doesn’t suit your palate you’re being told to put the needs of dying kids you never met, before your own?

 

If you choose to don an adult sized bunny outfit over Easter and anyone calls you weird, say thank you. Make up your own rules and remember you are unique. The time is now to recognise you’re a deep yet limited edition.

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Parenthood

Things I’d wish I knew about being a parent.

  • Every child is born built with a guilt inspiring emotional chip activated at the exact moment we reveal our plans for a night out on the town. Such anticipation appears to create resistance from kids and   I suspect they’ve created a group WhatsApp to remind others to make us feel guilty about leaving them with a babysitter.  Unless you’re leaving them with no food, water and a carer – trust they’ll survive the next three hours without you.

 

  • The reason we’re unable to inspire our toddlers or young kids to eat fruit, veg and to avoid sugar is because we didn’t instil this from birth. Food habits are taught when we start their food adventure with solid food. They’re not born addicted to sugar, they develop a taste for it after we choose to offer them their first sweet treat bribe.

 

 

  • Children adore grandparents, whatever differences you have with your parents, leave your kids to fully explore and enjoy this relationship. To make up their own opinions about how dysfunctional your childhood was and how lucky they are to have you as a rock star parent.

 

  • On the occasions I’m tired, I’m then unable to be anything else around my son while respecting my authenticity and need to be real. Hence why self-care becomes a necessary selfless responsibility vs. a selfish one.  Explain to no one why you need hour long bubbly baths –  rather than face the school run.

 

  • Anger coming from a child is to be supported by parents and carers vs shut down. When supported, we are teaching our children they are valuable and that their voice counts. We inspire them to join the emotional dots when something triggers them and to create a new way of being.  When we shut them down we are telling them it’s not OK to feel.  We are telling them their feelings don’t matter and the effect is for them to become increasingly disconnected from what makes them feel alive.

 

  • There are no rule books for how to parent your unique child. If I were to write one it would include the following single rule:  Love your child but first learn to love yourself.  In the same way, we are told by flight attendants to first apply the oxygen masks to ourselves, apply this same rule to your life.  Learn to get your needs met so with our overflowing happiness we can help others.  We are unable to offer anything from an empty cup.  Unless it’s one made by Bernardaud, then take it  – and run.
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TRUE ROMANCE

One of the most decadent travel experiences I ever enjoyed was flying into Nice airport and being collected by a driver in a smart black limo.  We sped along the Cote D’Azure and eventually stopped alongside a smallish tender that deftly cut through the Med’s sparkling water.  It gets even better.   We pulled up by a 150-foot achingly elegant yacht and I bounced aboard. The intention of the trip was for us to speed along the water ways of Cap d’Antibes with me hopping on and off.  Why? To view various properties for sale and to provide design solutions for the numerous projects my client had cherry picked.  Could there be a more romantic experience?  Superyacht, sunshine, champagne and sizzling hot client.  Tick tick tick.  Well actually yes. Tock.  Romance is evoked by way of a fuzzy feeling and while this experience included all of the aforementioned deliciousness, my thoughts told a different story.  Which did not connect and conclude with the obligatory warm fuzzy feeling. This was business and absolutely not romantic despite the seemingly appetising accoutrements.  I was sat aboard a floating office with my client looking over his architects plans and creating interior solutions.

 

A true romance always begins with emotional substance and may be mistaken when we choose to confuse stuff with substance. Comprend?

 

So, for anyone wondering how to inject romance and sparkle into your relationship here are my tip top tastic thoughts on these things.  With not a whiff of either a boat or Barry White on the playlist.

 

If you’re reading this hoping for tips to rekindle that loving feeling with someone you currently aren’t enamoured by and are secretly wishing a vacation will make it all better. It won’t.  Unless you’re planning to live your life on vacation and to avoid the emotional elephant in the room by ways of distractions such as gifts, trips, work and or being surrounded by friends permanently. Should you choose to continue to avoid the deep-rooted relationship issues by replacing the required emotional substance (communicating and connecting) with stuff (distractions), here’s the kicker. Using avoidance/distraction techniques to inspire the feeling of love and romance is like taping a sandwich to yourself and expecting it to satisfy your hunger.  Bon chance.

 

For those in amore, science has proven that love is a feeling. It’s a bubbling energetic emotion fuelled by a complex cocktail of thoughts, beliefs and stories all colliding to create potential chaos with another human. So, for anyone financially less equipped than they’d like and wanting to plan a romantic treat, the thought truly does count.   Love transcends any mountain range in Peru or private island in the Maldives.  You guys win the star prize and a carpet picnic sponsored by a chilled bottle of rose anything is likely to jiggle the heart of a loved one while you both pour over national geographic reruns on the Discovery channel.

 

Love wins.

 

 

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DIANE MODAHL

Diane arrived at our meeting a mere 7 minutes late.   Yet despite this perfect chance for me to enjoy the recently refurbished rather splendid interiors at The Stanneylands in Wilmslow, she had chosen to send me an apologetic message to inform of her imminent, albeit slightly delayed arrival status.  One of the many reasons why Diane Modal is one of the most inspirational and integrity filled individuals I know.  Considered a trail blazer in her industry being the first British athlete to win her appeal against the British Athletic Federation (BAF), who eventually dropped their original unsubstantiated doping charge against her. Her legal ‘victory’ saw this unjust journey include being suspended, prosecuted and then banned from her beloved sport in 1994.  The BAF, forcing her to leave the Commonwealth Games amidst black clouds of shame and the process of recovering her innocence, cost her personally over half a million pounds in legal fees.  This is abhorrent, that any human ought to have to deal with this level of abuse and I watch her with alert admiration as she talks.  I’m curious how one recovers after such a vexatious incident.  I’m aware I’m sitting in the presence of power.

 

 

Diane embodies a vision of excellence, focus and discipline.  Her hair is styled in a neat and trendy bob offset by an immaculately made up face.  Her simple and stylish black short sleeved shift dress display her lithe muscles cultivated from her years of training no doubt.   She’s a slender and strong size 8 and I observe orders a mint tea with a light beetroot and goats cheese salad for our lunchtime interview. But that’s all the surface superficial stuff and I’m curious about the girl who one day fell asleep and the next day woke up having achieved the title of 7 times British Champion, unbeaten for 6 consecutive seasons and Commonwealth record holder over her specialist distance of 800m. The woman who made decisions and took the action that saw her competing in 4 Olympic Games; Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney. What drives the choices, thoughts and behaviour of this perfect power house?

 

Born in Moss Side, Manchester to a Jamaican mother and father, Diane was the youngest of seven children. She recalls her childhood was, ‘..amazing..’ and divulges details about her two up two down home that all nine lived in, ‘..that we initially shared with other families.’  In my head, I’m questioning how she’s managed to frame this same situation described as amazing, most might consider to the contrary. She continues, ‘.We were financially poor but I don’t remember being poor..’ Diane laughs,  ‘.All my siblings slept in the same room, three girls in a double bed, the twins in a single and the boys in a bunk in a tiny room next to ours.’ Their childhood home was social housing and Diane’s mum worked for the NHS as a nurse while her father rolled pastry for pies and sausage rolls at Walls in Hyde waking up at 5am each day to ride the two buses to work.  ‘..I felt loved by my parents..’ Diane shares with me. ‘..We always had a hot meal and always a look of support from them. They were kind.  Very generous with their time and they made us feel empowered, they were always there..’ My proverbial penny dropped as Diane revealed her formative behavioural model of the world.  Her parents were rich with love.

 

Diane’s parents provided her with the road map of what it took to be a family which included sports days her dad aka, ‘..The Pied Piper..’ organised on land next to the Apollo in Longsight. ‘.I never won any of the races but my dad played with us, he encouraged us and had fun with us.’ she shares with me.

 

Age eleven, Diane believes was a pivotal juncture in her life and marked by a, perhaps chance, meeting with Alan Robertshaw.  A coach who spotted her potential during a PE session at school.  ‘Alan believed in me and we all need someone to believe in us. I was able to trust my strong foundations and from there was able to start building what I now know were my career dreams.  My strong stable home life was my starting point..’  Alan had spotted Diane’s running potential to which she and her family were oblivious.  We begin to discuss what she believes, the now deceased, Alan saw in her to commit his time to her development as the world class athlete she is considered today.

 

‘..Alan would have said I had the attitude to succeed..’ Diane continues. ‘..I was willing to do the work, to turn up on time, I’m able to listen and I’m unafraid to ask questions. I’m able to execute what I’m being taught..’  She looks at me straight in the eye with her grounded assertiveness, ‘..talent is nothing without work ethic Melissa and with work ethic coupled with talent, it’s at this point you have a winner.  My definition of success is to cultivate the right attitude and to combine this with an unshakeable self-belief.’  To which our hour comes to a close and I get my answer to my original thought; Diane is a leader and a champion.  I have no doubt she will continue to win in all her endeavours in the way she achieved her victory in the courts and against the establishment that was the BAF (they pronounced themselves bankrupt post their Modal faux pas). Self-belief, attitude and action.  Boom!

In 2010 along with her husband Vicente, co-founded the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation  (DMSF).

 

A registered charity, DMSF is committed in its mission to give young people a purpose in sport, education and employability.

 

By fostering aspiration, breaking down barriers and using sport as a catalyst for change, we act with integrity to create opportunities and instil resilience.

Our qualified coaches, mentors and trainers work in Primary, Secondary and Academy Schools and across the youth sector – delivering engaging sport and education programmes.

We rely on building partnerships with like-minded organisations who want to make a positive impact on the community and contribute to local skills, training and education. This enables our team to go out and do what we do best. Turning barriers into an opportunity to cross the DMSF Blue Line.

 

To find out more and to make a donation please go to http://www.dmsf.org.uk/donate/

 

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What not to MISS..

Here are some ways of behaving not to miss out on.  Guaranteed to put the jingle back into your jangle over this fabulous festive season.

 

Grateful.  For this past two years I’ve been involved with supporting a local Cheshire based charity helping 3000 plus kids to enjoy a Christmas.   There are thousands of local kids who live on our doorsteps that are are waking up to abuse, domestic violence and homelessness.  Help them, by not missing out on giving what money you can afford to: justgiving/crowdfunding/theToyappeal.  Together we can share in putting a smile on their precious little faces for this one day.

 

Kind. Being kind is not kind if it compromises your truth.   So, pretending you like someone in order to keep the peace makes you a phony and is kind to no one.  It’s manipulative and deceitful behaviour meaning no one knows truthfully where anyone stands or what anyone is saying is true.   To choose to be phony simply means you’re scared of something. What?  Some grumpy person’s words back to you?  Telling another person to shhhhssshtt is being kind and absolutely is not rude.  I know that many of you reading this couldn’t imagine telling someone to shush up, but being what some consider rude is in fact kinder.  How? You’re choosing to stand in your truth and power by creating healthy boundaries.  Say no to gossip, blame and shame fuelled chat.

 

A chance to shut up.  This period is a time for family and friends to come together, choosing to connect sometimes via forced and fake encounters often based on guilt and obligation.  For anyone who this scenario applies to, I imagine it is tough.  If you’re the one at the table who is the person offering an opinion about another person’s life, know it’s not OK (unless you’re Oprah) and I suggest this is the moment for you to showcase your new personality. Yes, debate the weather and yes debate a contract and yes share your thoughts about the food.  No, it’s not OK to debate the personality or choices of another human being.  None of anyone’s business. Your new way of being may shock and startle your friends and family members into genuinely wanting to be around you next year. For any drive by opinion types feeling extra brave, it’s possible to deepen the Christmas experience via a program called; it’s not important whose right and is more important what’s right.  This does call for listening to understand vs listening in order to form an opinion about how to respond and may be a sleigh ride too far.

 

Ho Ho Ho.  With love and reindeer kisses.

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Happy Holidays!

My son is obsessed with ‘family’ and for him the Christmas holiday period seems to be the time he craves to be at home and around people he loves the most.  While I’m suggesting to him travel options and surreptitiously planting pics of exquisite Indonesian elephants or calming coral reefs under his nose, his intention is the complete opposite to mine.  While it’s true I love all my friends and family, there’s few I’m inspired to be around a table with for more than a couple of hours and the ones who light my fire live around the world.  What to do?

 

Although we are mother and son, our conflicting needs got me to thinking about the dynamics that a difference of opinions can inspire in two individuals irrespective of relationship status.

 

So, here’s a list of my favourite behavioural life hacks to help avoid conflict during a difference of opinion over this festive period.

 

1/Remember if you’re choosing to have a conversation with someone or to engage with another human, you’re not being forced against your will.  On that basis (unless Mercury is still in retrograde,) it’s your choice to be in this exact position.  Chose to enjoy the process.  Frowning inspires wrinkles.

 

2/Accept differences.  Know that there are 7 billion of us and we are each perfectly imperfect and unique humans who are a complicated mix of thoughts, choices and beliefs.   All unique to our past, present and future experiences.

 

3/Understand relationships are illuminators of what is unresolved within of ourselves. Through your negative feelings, these highlight what it is needed to learn about yourself.  No one was born judgmental, feeling guilty and with shame inspired self-talk.  We learn this way of thinking and behaving. Unlearn.

 

4/Never take anything personally another human says or does.  It’s a reflection of what’s alive within of themselves.

 

5/Expectations are a source of our sadness. When they’re not satisfied and when we understand our thoughts can be controlled, why then would we choose to be sad?  If an expectation could potentially lead us towards sadness then drop the expectation and chose to replace with acceptance for what is. Makes sense, right?

 

6/Listen to understand. A common communication style is to blame, judge and denigrate. This is a child’s style of behaving and instead chose to ask powerful questions such as, ‘What do you need from me?’. Seek to clarify in order to understand instead of making assumptions which are essentially projections of your understanding of a situation.

 

7/ Watch for words used such as ‘should’ ‘need’ and ‘ought’ to.. These are used by people who don’t feel passionately about their choices and are inspired by guilt, blame and shame. Seek to make choices based on your wants and passions.  What will set your soul on fire?

 

Pierce and I will agree to do both, we’ll satisfy my wanderlust spirit with some juicy travel plans and combine this with a love fuelled fiesta somewhere fun.  Happy holidays friends.

 

 

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Newsflash: You’re UNIQUE

News flash, the avocado, matche, gluten free grapefruit diet is likely not going to help you achieve your health goal. In other news, my full fat fuelled lifestyle hacks may help you get over this revelation.

 

Psychologically, anything that serves to make you feel there’s something you’re being deprived of will automatically see you emotionally shift into a survival and scarcity mode of thinking.   This elimination and reduction process of dinosaur dieting will serve to inspire you to think more about what you’re supposed to not be thinking about, craving and desiring.  Imagine for just a moment, I ask you not to think about a pink elephant.  What do you automatically default to thinking about?  This same process happens with diets.  I tell you not to eat chocolate, sugar, candy and crisps and suddenly you find yourself dreaming of it.  Instead, chose to add food and flavours to your nutritional lifestyle choices and the neurological effect is to make the process feel more exciting, colourful and filling.

 

There’s 7 billion of us each with unique neurological and DNA codes. Why anyone gets frustrated or dejected that the low carb and hi fat diet isn’t successful for them and is clearly working for Brenda and Sheghla defies common sense.  You’re a perfectly unique and complicated cocktail of choices and coding that means your responsibility is to play with food and exercise and to figure out a personalised blend that works for you.  Pimp your food. I chose to never mix fat and carbs, I sweeten with honey, I hydrate with flavoured teas and create smoothies with cashew milk for extra creaminess.  Works for me.  Any other bicoastal, single mums who are 44 years old with hypothyroidism, one ovary and 2 dogs hit me up for my ‘diet’ plan, guaranteed results.  Oi vey.

 

Food and your lifestyle are not the cause of you being underweight or overweight.  Your mindset is the reason you have not reached your goal. Within your mind you have a section marked thoughts and beliefs and within the mind of anyone with failed goals you’ll find a black room called: Failure is an option.  Your room will be filled full of reasons, excuses and stories why you should, can and ought to give up on pursuing your dreams.  There’ll be evidence, graphs and opinions galore to support your choices. In contrast, the mind-set of someone who is committed to achieving their goals will be simpler.  It’s laser sharp focused and minimalist.  The mind of someone who is disciplined and consistent is streamlined and crystal clear.  Their room is called; you can do it. #whateverittakes

 

Just like a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly, the process of transformation is irreversible.  Adopt this same mind set with your body and mind to feel nourished, wholesome and healthy. Let’s leave the quick fixes featuring short cuts, for our beloved home makeover shows. RIP.