Coach yourself and your family at home with Barefoot coaching cards


During the summer, I took part in a book launch event with Sarah and Amy Beeson, and while there, I met the lovely Saira from Barefoot Coaching. Having seen a powerful question on one of their coaching cards for new parents, which Sarah and Amy put in their goody bag from the event, I was curious to know what other cards they had in the range.

I shared my interest with Saira following the event and she kindly sent me two of the packs from the range to play with! I was excited to receive the coaching cards for children as well as the coaching cards for every day, as I love having coaching conversations with my son (I am both coach and ‘client’ with him, as you may note from my previous post!).

Coaching cards for kids

I showed my son both pack of cards and explained that one was questions especially for kids. He suggested we play in the morning over a cuppa (milk for him). We read several cards and he picked the first ones he wanted to talk about:


It’s really interesting to hear a child’s perspective on this. I don’t coach children (at the moment, this may change) but do taking a coaching approach in conversations and believe that when talking to children, it’s so important to remember what might seem like nothing to us, is a Big Deal to them. My son said the worst thing about being a child is having to go to school every day but he’s said different things each time I have asked. Each time, it tells me a lot about what’s going on in his head that day.

I hear a lot of adults saying they wish they could be a kid again, a longing for a simpler time. However, if we really think about it, at the time it didn’t feel so easy. Because we don’t know what we don’t know. As Tracy Slater over at Boston Moms Blog says, It’s Hard for Them, Too. While it was great to have this discussion, I was also glad we balanced the conversation by discussing what’s great about being a child!


All the cards in the deck are great conversation starters. My son is only 5 and these are aimed at 6 – 12 years olds but you can always adapt the question a little to your child. I think mine would have enjoyed ‘playing’ with these even from about 4. The cards I’ve chosen to share above are those I ‘suggested’ as the week we played with them, he was feeling a bit insecure about something. Exploring these cards together helped him to think in a more positive way about himself. Like affirmations without the ‘but this feels too silly Mummy’ (yeah I feel that too, that’s why I love this) factor. 😉

Coaching cards for every day


I’ve chosen to share the above card first as I love this question, and have used many variations of it! How many of you have heard (or even said yourself), “I’m great at giving advice but not at taking it”..? Are you nodding in agreement…? I love the way this question works by making you think of yourself as ‘other’… It’s so easy to get stuck in our feelings about things in the moment (especially if you’re an HSP) – I know from personal experience, and I am still working on this! – and this can make it hard to think objectively about a situation. However, if you take yourself out of the equation and imagine you’re helping a friend (or anyone else), then it’s easier to approach the issue in a different way and see it from all sides. It flipped my thinking on something I had been holding too tightly, before I had a coaching session myself on the subject!


As with my son, many of us struggle with self-esteem issues from time to time, which can be a response to many things. In the world of work for example, I find performance reviews can have a negative effect because they are too often focused on what is going wrong and not enough on highlighting strengths. This, among many, many other things, can feed the inner critic (or ‘self doubt demon’, beautifully illustrated here by Maddy at Writing Bubble). So I’m a big fan of building up the self love leopard (I’ve just made that up, does it work for you?) to build confidence. The questions on the cards above can wake the leopard up at the very least and if you keep these questions in mind, you can feed her (or him?) and then who knows what might happen…? I have noticed the hardest one for many to answer is:

“If you could give yourself a gift, what would it be?”

What would you give yourself? I’d love to know! My answer changes from day to day but I love thinking about this… If you share what your gift would be in the comments below, I’ll share whatever mine is at the time. Today it would be a holiday… Perhaps an indication that I need to book a day or two off, or at least have a change of scenery soon…

I am not in any way affiliated with Barefoot Coaching and didn’t receive any payment or incentive for reviewing these cards. I have never shared a review here but I requested these because I was interested, and was not disappointed. These every day cards offer a great way to get you thinking differently, which can sometimes be all that’s needed to get past a situation that feels a bit stuck. Of course, should you decide you want to go deeper with anything that comes up when considering these questions and could do with some extra support, then I’d recommend working with an experienced coach to help you create the space you’ll need to explore.

The Barefoot Coaching Cards for Life range offers Coaching Cards for Couples, Coaching Cards for Every Day, Coaching Cards for Children, Coaching Cards for Grandparents, Coaching Cards for New Parents and a seasonal stocking filler; Coaching Cards for Christmas. Each pack retails at £15 and all are available via the Barefoot Coaching Cards website.



5 lessons from my 5 year old

5 year old riding a bike

I love spending time with my son. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I can’t wait for a night away, when I just need some ‘me’ time but on the whole, he is growing into a funny, fiercely determined and yet sensitive boy.

This summer was the first time since he started nursery four years ago that I was able to spend an extended amount of quality time with him over the summer. That I was able to do so is thanks to my super flexible part-time job (thanks for being an awesome employer Wholegrain Digital!) and being able to cut back on my coaching hours and flex my writing projects around family time.

Altogether, we spent three weeks hanging out over the summer, with Mr.B joining us for a week of full-on family time. We went to the cinema, caught up with friends we haven’t seen all year, visited museums, ‘played’ schools (my sneaky way of making sure he doesn’t forget what he’s learned so far!) and learned how to ride a bike – mostly him. But me too, a little. Read on to find out what I mean!

Over the break, we had a lot of chats about life and I noticed him maturing and growing in confidence. He learned a lot, and reminded me of many things too. Here are the biggest takeaways that may be of interest:

1. Laugh every day

I wrote a poem about postnatal depression (PND) during the holidays and he wanted to know why the lady in the poem was sad. I explained as much as I could about depression, and he said, “If people feel sad they should laugh every day.” I asked what about when they don’t feel like laughing and he said, “Just do it anyway, like this: Hahahahaha” (with forced smile, then collapsing into giggles about how silly he sounds). Studies prove that faking a smile (or laugh) even when you don’t feel like it, can boost your mood. So he’s on to something there…

2. If you want to but you think you can’t, just try anyway

We were out and about one day, and being obsessed with bikes as he was learning to ride, he asked, “Is it true that you are still wobbly because you didn’t ride a bike for years?” I told him yes, and I was still a bit nervous when I try (this is true). He asked me when I’d last tried… It was when he was about two. He walked over to the nearest Santander Cycles stand and said “Get one of these and practice.” I wasn’t sure so I hesitated. He took my hand and said “It doesn’t matter if you can’t, just try ok? You can even just do it for only five minutes.” I tried. It was fine. Fun, even. I wobbled, yes… But I did it. He high fived me and I felt great. I am planning to buy a bike next year so we can go on family rides.

3. Be creative – for no reason whatsoever

Every so often during the holidays, I would leave him to his own devices. He’d often read a book or engage in imaginative play, which always tells me a lot about what is going on in his head. One day he was ripping up paper and arranging it on his rug. I asked if he was making a pattern. He shrugged “Not really.” So I asked what he was doing. He looked down for a minute, then said “I don’t really know.” I asked if I could join in and he said no, he had to do it himself. Curious, I asked why. He laughed and said “I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m doing, I just like to do it.” Doing stuff just because you like to. Brilliant. We made paper mâché with it that afternoon. Just because.

4. Walk everywhere

Inspired by Daddy, he wants us to do the Great Newham Family Run next year (we’ve watched Mr.B do the full run twice now). My ankles are recovering from being broken earlier this year so I’m not at the running stage yet. So when he wanted to ‘practise’ together for the run, I explained I can’t quite yet. He thought for a minute, then said “Ok, we have to walk everywhere then, if it’s not too far, until you can. It’s healthy anyway.” So now we walk everywhere. I thought we walked a lot before (we don’t have a car) but now? We walk more, we talk more, we sleep better… and I’ve lost a few pounds without even trying.


5. Only let go when you’re ready

When he was learning to ride his bike, we had the odd tantrum. The bike was “stupid”, and was thrown to the floor a few times and he said he would “never be able to ride.” Every time I said I was going to let go (and the few times I, or Mr.B tried to sneakily let go), he would shout “No, never let go!” After a couple of days, I stopped commenting on the tantrums and just moved the bike aside if it was in anyone’s way. Every time, he got back on and waited for me to hold the back. I didn’t offer to let go and I didn’t pretend to hold him either. After about 30 minutes that day, he suddenly said, “Ok Mummy, let go.” And he was riding his bike – wobbling less than I did. It reminded me of when friends sometimes say “I know someone you should coach, they really need to change/let go of (insert behaviour that the commenter feels is unhelpful)” and I always say “but do they want to..?” Letting go, of anything (not just bikes) needs to be the choice of the person letting go. Once he trusted me to hold him, he did it all by himself.

Being present (not perfect!) as a parent

While these are all great things to keep in mind for life in general, the biggest reminder for me this summer, was of the value of simply being present as a parent. Many of our best days were just me and him hanging out, not expecting anything from each other. We both had bad days, but at the end of the day we’d own it (well, I would. He was a bit more stubborn. He is only 5) and we’d say sorry and start over the next day.

After a challenging couple of weeks towards the end of the summer term last year, I was beginning to wonder if I was ‘failing’ as a parent and had been planning to scrap my Proudly Imperfect Parents e-course as I couldn’t in good faith promote something I wasn’t feeling myself. However, as I reviewed the material, spent time with friends who still referred to their pilot version and hung out with my son on a daily basis, I found that it worked. I came back to myself and was ready to let go again.

So, I am re-releasing this course in November! In the meantime, I have created a ‘taster’ version to help even more of you (and/or your friends) loosen your grip on the idea of perfect parenting. This free taster course, What is Perfect Parenting Anyway? starts on Monday 24th October (so if you have school-aged children in the UK then it could help you through half term!).

Find out more and sign up now to claim your free space!

Proudly Imperfect Parents_Week 1



Authenticity vs Consistency

Over the summer, I read a post from Jonas Ellison over on medium – Authenticity is overrated – and it got me thinking…. I kept reading and re-reading it, and thinking ‘this resonates so much, I want to say something about it too. But I didn’t… Why? Well, the same reason that almost stopped Jonas:

“Right now, as I type this, I swear to the gods and goddesses above, a part of me totally feels like I’m being inauthentic. It’s telling me that this has all been said before and that what I’m writing here is probably a cheap rendition of that.”

So, I’m taking his advice and just showing up here, now, with my thoughts on the subject.

*deep breath*

Here’s the thing. Being ‘authentic’ is a big deal for me. It’s a word I’ve probably over used at points… But it had started to feel a little… Wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I read Jonas’ thoughts and then I realised… What do we mean when we say ‘authentic’ anyway..? I used to think it meant being ‘real’, and that if we are being our true selves – so important to me after years of hiding behind various ‘masks’, that my twitter handle is @ReallyRachaelB – then we should be consistent… That if our core values don’t change then we should never contradict ourselves.

But things do change. Our circumstances change. We learn, we grow. I change my mind, often – hopefully for the better! So if you were to track my digital footprint back to my first ever website, or even read back through some of these blogs, you’ll no doubt notice that sometimes, I do contradict myself. And I’m sure that I will do again.

I am human.

This is me. All of me. Well, most of me – there are some things I choose to keep to myself! I choose to share some of that which makes me vulnerable, as (I think) that’s how we connect, as humans. I might not be consistent but I am honest, open and real. I guess that’s what I mean when I talk about being authentic.

What does ‘being authentic’ mean to you? And how important is it to you? Do share your thoughts in the comments below!

A book launch with Sarah Beeson MBE, bespoke poetry and PND

OurCountryNurseThis summer, I was invited by Sarah Beeson MBE and her daughter Amy, co-authors of parenting book Happy Baby Happy Family, to be part of their latest book launch for their third book, Our Country Nurse. This book is the second in a two-part series based on Sarah’s journey to becoming one of the youngest health visitors in the UK.

I first met Amy and Sarah in person at the launch of part one of Sarah’s memoirs, The New Arrival, in 2014, having connected beforehand on social media and it’s been lovely to follow their journey as they have published a book a year since then. As I had been planning to read the latest book anyway, I was excited to be involved in its  launch and to read it pre-publication in order to get the creative juices flowing!

I enjoyed ‘meeting’ the various characters in the book – some of whom I liked a lot less than others… and learning more about the challenges and successes of Sarah’s early career. There are some lovely touching moments and some storylines I was very keen to see resolved as I felt real concern for the characters. There is also a bit of light relief! I could have written poems about many of the characters but chose two who jumped out at me the most… Dr. Botton, who… Well, let’s just say I ‘liked less’ than his colleague, the lovely Dr. Drake… and one of the mums Sarah helped, Jackie Bowyer.

Here’s a sample from my poem about Dr. Botton; ‘I’m the man’:

No, just give the baby some morphine, that will shut him up
Now excuse me for a second, I need to refill my cup
It’s been at least an hour since I last had a drink
And I need to get back to the golf course… What? No, I don’t care what you think…

The poem I wrote about Jackie though, I want to share in its entirety because, although it’s not representative of her character, this part of her journey really struck me and the resulting poem speaks to something that touches many of us, however lightly, at some point in out lives.

If you prefer to read and digest in your own time there’s a full text version you can read over on medium.

To find out if Dr. Botton really is so awful (he is), and to get a fuller picture of Jackie Bowyer’s story, you’ll need to read Our Country Nurse, which was released last week.

If you’ve been touched by postnatal depression yourself or know someone who has, the Pandas Foundation may be able to help. Pandas is launching the first Pre & Post Natal Depression Awareness Week (#PNDAW16) in the UK from 5th – 11th September.

Are you stepping into your supersuit?

Clothes peg wearing a supersuit

I had a dream recently, one that has stayed with me for a few weeks. It was so vivid I remembered much of it well at first but it’s fading now so I don’t recall the start. The end of this dream remains just as vivid though, and significant to where I’m at, now. I’m sharing it here as perhaps it may be significant to you, too…

In the dream, I had been sidetracked from getting ready to go somewhere that felt important but probably wasn’t and was returning, late, to the flat I was staying in. This flat was on the first floor.

I stepped into the lift and looked at the buttons. There were only three: First, second and third floors. But the button that should have been for the third floor was replaced. In its place was a typed note, placed carefully under the glass: Rachael Blair. The idea of this terrified me. Who put it there? What would I find if I went up? What might happen to me? I reached for it, then lowered my hand and pressed the button for the first floor. The lift shot up to the third anyway.

Facing fear

When the doors opened, I was standing at the top of a roller coaster, which, in my waking life, is something I’ve avoided since my teens. All that twisting and turning and never really being sure what’s coming next… I found myself in a car, hurtling around this purple track, holding on for life, when I realised that there was no ‘end’ to this ride. It just stopped in mid air. I think I held breath and then…

I don’t know where I was or even whether I was sitting or standing, but I was watching this amazing woman in a superhero costume (again, purple). She was flying through the air, laughing. Twisting and turning, speeding up and slowing down with a big smile on her face. It looked like fun and I wanted to try – unlike the roller coaster, she was in control. ‘I wish I could do that’ I thought.

The dream ended with us lying next to each other, me voicing my wish aloud. She laughed, shaking her head and looked at me silently. I woke up.

Superhero or sidekick?

It was days later, when I had revisited the dream a few times in my mind that I realised… That superhero was me. But, so afraid of owning my power, I stepped out of myself and watched it happening instead. This can be how I do life sometimes – fear of all that twisting and turning and not knowing where we’re going – that’s what life is, is it not? And just sitting there holding on and letting it happen isn’t fun. Taking control however… Well that’s scary. But it’s also liberating. When I write – when I know I’m writing something good, and get into that ‘flow’ state, and after a great session with one of my lovely coaching clients, I’m in that supersuit. In between, however, I can allow my brain to make up stories that reduce me to the sidekick to those who came before me and did it better (did they, really? Or is it just different?).

This summer I’m starting to notice more when I slip back into sidekick mode, and allowing myself to step back into that supersuit and see the positive effect it has. Not just on me, but on those around me – that confidence stops me sweating the small stuff and allows me to take better care of myself, which of course makes me a better coach, writer, mother, wife, sister, friend etc. (not in that order!)…

So, I’m curious – do you have a supersuit..? When did you last wear it and how did it make your feel..? And, I’m most interested to know: Do you wear it all the time and if not, why not..? Do share in the comments below, I’d love to hear what your superpowers are! 🙂

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Networking, by any other name…


“I don’t like networking.”

I said this recently, while talking to friend and fellow coach Julie Fordham (who has recently released a series of YouTube videos on happiness – worth a watch!). As soon as I said it I felt uncomfortable, a bit like when you’re caught in a half truth you thought you’d got away with. I have actually been to a networking event recently that I really enjoyed. Although it was not without some awkward moments, I put that down to my tendency towards introversion – the event itself was really inspiring, as I mentioned briefly in my last post.

So, why did I feel uncomfortable? There was a pause on the line. “I always say to people not to think of it as networking”, Julie said… “It’s just talking to people.”

And with that, she’d hit the nail on the head.

It’s not networking

“It’s just talking to people.”

I love talking to people. Especially one on one. I love getting to know people’s stories, their challenges, how they ended up where they are and what they’re passionate about. I mean, it’s why I do what I do! It’s all about connections. Which, when you think about it, is just another word for networking.

Julie went on to say that those who are good at networking do it naturally, although they might not call it that. They are the ones who are genuinely interested in people. Although they might claim to have never attended a networking event in their lives, if you need someone, you know they will be the person who can help. Need a new hairdresser? They know someone. A local plumber? A friend of a friend they met recently could help you out. A web designer? There’s this woman they used to work with… You get the picture. That’s a network.

Building real relationships

I agree with Julie, and that’s why I felt uncomfortable when I said I didn’t like networking. What I meant was, I don’t enjoy certain types of networking events – the sort where everyone shows up with their elevator pitch and business cards and you don’t get a chance to really speak to people. When I reach out to someone, it’s because I genuinely want to connect and hear their story.

After reflecting on my conversation with Julie a thought crept in… ‘What if… I’m actually pretty good at networking?’ I might not be at any every networking events and I have a modest number of followers on social media (although that’s all relative) but the relationships I do have, both personal and professional, are long-term. I believe this is because I care, and that’s hard to do if I’ve only had two minutes with a business card and an elevator pitch.

Making networking work

So how do I make networking work for me? Well, as you can imagine, I tend to prefer smaller events when you can really speak to people but I have to give a special mention to Hub Dot, whose storytelling approach really appeals even though I still find the size of the events can be a little overwhelming.

I stay in touch with colleagues from previous roles – provided I get on with them! If we don’t have some level of friendship then I simply wouldn’t make the effort and of course all of my friends make up the inner circle of my network (it’s not all about work, remember!). I have also made many deep connections via social media. In fact, I met Julie through a Facebook group and many of the online friends I now speak to, if not meet with ‘in real life’, I met initially through twitter.

Some bemoan the way social media has replaced the art of conversation but I disagree. I think it’s a great way to build deeper relationships over time with people you might otherwise not have had the pleasure of meeting.

How do you feel about networking? Does calling it something else make it feel different to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please do comment below!

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From ‘meh’ to motivated in 6 steps

Motivation_WritingPeoplePoetrySome of you my remember my early March post, in which I explained that I had a tough month, and despite often saying all was ok, actually I was far from fine. In fact, if I’m really honest with myself, I was not fine at all from mid February to mid April. A lot of things happened in that time that led to my feeling overwhelmed and sad a great deal of the time.

I had made big plans for this year and for at least six weeks, I did very little to move towards them. A first I worried about this but I really didn’t have enough energy for that and after a while I decided I wasn’t bothered. I even thought about giving up the business. I had lost my motivation completely.

Then, one day I woke up full of ideas and the motivation to take action. This didn’t ‘just happen’ although it certainly felt that way at the time, I had been trying to get there for while. The problem was that I was trying too hard. When I stopped trying, things got better.

So, I thought I’d share how I went from ‘meh’ to motivated in case any of you ever find yourself in a similar slump. I don’t usually do listicles here but there’s a first time for everything! As with any of these sorts of ‘how to..’ life lists, what worked for me may or may not work for you.

1. Acceptance

A lot of things happened that were beyond my control. There was nothing I could have done to change or prevent them and feeling sad was a natural response to events. Fighting this feeling, pretending I was ok when I wasn’t and trying to get past it too quickly, only made it dig a deeper hole. Accepting everything that happened and my natural reaction to it meant I was kinder to myself, remembering that these feelings would pass, if I would only let them.

2. Stop

I stopped a lot of things. I stopped as much work as I could. Physically, I moved less (I was, and still am, limited by an injury but I was trying to rush that healing process as much as the emotional one) and slept more. Emotionally, I stopped saying I was fine and started talking. Of that which was within my control, I didn’t take on anything I didn’t have the emotional capacity for.

3. Breathe

Literally. I returned to meditation practice, and realised just how shallow the breaths I had been taking were. I allowed the feelings, including the messy ones I felt I ‘shouldn’t‘ have, their space – acknowledging them as necessary to the healing process.

This Too Shall Pass

4. Stop

I’ve put that twice because it’s so important. Once I started feeling a bit better, I started trying to do everything as before and quickly became overwhelmed. Something had to give and that wasn’t just about the tough start to the year, it had been coming for a while. I stopped my parenting blog, among other things, and while it wasn’t easy to say goodbye, I did breathe a sigh of relief as it opened up the space to shift my focus to where it was most needed. But instead of throwing myself into everything again, I stopped a little longer to truly recharge.

5. Get your good vibes group on

I’m pretty introverted so time alone usually recharges me. But after a while I needed a supercharged positive energy injection. So I thought about those friends I hadn’t seen for a while, who always leave me in a great place when I see them (they make me laugh, or they listen to all my sh*t without judgement, or they inspire me, or all of the above and more!) and made plans with them all. After a Skype call with just one of my good vibes group I was feeling more energised and ideas started to bubble below the surface…

6. Start

Once my ideas started to take real shape and my energy returned, I knew I was ready to get back into work again (that conversation with myself about giving up this business? The heartwork? No way) and needed to take action before my motivation left! So I began to say ‘yes’ again, starting with an invitation to an inspiring networking event that added more fuel to my fire.

And I’m now stoking that fire with more training, more of the work that lights me up and regular playtime – both creative playtime for my business and personal playtime for my soul. In short, I’m back, baby!*

*(that sounded better in my head).

If you are feeling a bit stuck right now and nothing seems to be working – I’ve been there more than once and know firsthand what it feels like! – consider booking a free half hour coaching consultation with me . I also know that sometimes, that 30 minute chat is all it takes to shift your story a little.

If you’ve been stuck before and got yourself out of it, how did you do this? Did you use any of the strategies above or did you do something different? Please do share your personal ‘meh’ mood busters below, you never know who your story might help!

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WPP People: Poet Lidy Wilks shares her creative process

I promised you I’d introduce you to more of ‘my people’ this year and it’s been a while but I have a few good ones (not that any of my people are bad!) lined up. First up is poet Lidy Wilks. I first ‘met’ Lidy via twitter, and last April she invited me to take part in her 30 Days of Poetry Love interview series, which I really enjoyed.

I’d been meaning to invite Lidy here to ask her a few questions so when she said she would be releasing her debut poetry chapbook, Can You Catch My Flow? this spring, I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce her, learn more about her creative process and to find out the inspiration behind one of her poems, Resilient, which I love and has also resonated with some of my coaching clients. So, I’ll hand you over to Lidy now…

Thanks for having me today Rachael!

Can You Catch My FlowThe creative process of writing Can You Catch My Flow? was no different from writing an individual poem. An idea whispered to me. Then I listened and followed. I collected my old poems and wrote some new ones, ordering them to create the tone they wanted to be in. Arranging and rearranging, revising and editing, so the reader can follow along, and evoke their own trip down memory lane.

Assembling the chapbook reinforced my love for this creative process of listening and following. The thrill of enchantment from the journey of inspiration and writing a poem, and the surprise at where it will lead me.

Take for example, my poem Resilient, which was actually inspired by the movie Ever After, a film whose plot centers on the true love story behind the Grimm brothers’ Cinderella. The main character, Danielle de Barbarac, is in another confrontation with Prince Henry. When she says this line: “They are the legs you stand on and that position demands respect.” I heard: They are the legs you stand on. Legs. We are legs. Legs. Weight. Burdensome. Fulfilling. Round and round, those words filled my head. Demanding me to follow the breadcrumbs of ‘leg’, and ‘stand’ to create a poem. So I did what I’ve always done. I listened and followed. And little by little, the poem took shape. It told me the tone it wanted to take, words and lines rearranged or cut. And with some constructive criticism from the creator of VerseWrights, eventually Resilient was born.


Can I tell you why I that particular quote inspired me so? Especially when I’ve watched the movie at least a hundred times? Nope, I can’t. The closest explanation I can get is that everyone has a weight that they bear. Maybe it’s thrust upon us, or we take it on ourselves willingly. Yet to bear that weight without giving up is amazing, is it not…?

Can You Catch My Flow? is Lidy’s debut release. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two children and when she’s not writing, can be found adding to her anime, book and manga library, while eating milk chocolate and sipping a glass of Cabernet. Her book is available now at Amazon and you can get to know her better over at her blog, Paving My Author’s Road.

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How are you? Fine..? Really..?

Today I’m feeling a bit sad. It’s been a tough month, personally, for various reasons and coupled with a fall down the stairs that caused a bigger injury than I originally thought, it’s meant I’ve been forced to take a big step back. I need to rest a lot, which of course means doing a lot less than usual.

Generally I’m not too bad at taking breaks, and I’ve become better over the years at making a little time for myself on a (fairly!) regular basis but it’s usually a short break, not an extended period of inactivity (and I am literally not very active as I can’t walk or stand for long at the moment).

Despite all this, I keep telling people I’m fine. We all do it…

“How are you?”
“I’m fine.”

Really, though..? Are you? Of course, in some situations this response is appropriate – no doubt the supermarket cashier would be taken aback if we got too real while picking up the weekly shop (although you might be surprised, when I worked in a supermarket those occasional real conversations made the day go a lot faster!) – in others we could try a more honest approach. Close friends can offer real support when we need it most, but only if we tell them we need it (a few of mine won’t let me get away with that ‘I’m fine’ BS and I love them for it)… and more importantly, we need to be honest with ourselves.

How are you_

Saying ‘I’m fine’, and practising gratitude is all well and good. I know things could be a lot worse and I have so much to be thankful for. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel a bit sad should circumstances warrant it. How often have you buried feeling of sadness because you felt the situation wasn’t bad enough to feel that way..? Did it not simply return, slightly heavier than before..?

Sometimes, the only way to get through a tough time is to accept it for what it is and how it makes you feel, knowing that these feelings will eventually pass. We need to allow the feelings to pass through though, before we can honestly embrace the positive platitudes it would have been easy to post today, rather than this slightly uncomfortable truth.

So… With all this in mind, how are you today, really? Do share your honest thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to connect with the real you.

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Making time to write

pocket-watches-436567_1280A lot is made of morning routines and the importance of setting yourself up for the day. A quick google search for ‘writing routines’ brings up more than 40 million results, many of which talk about the importance of writing when the world is still. For some that may be early morning, for others writing into the night might work better. Personally I think that when it comes to daily routines (for anything, not just writing) whatever works, works and that may change over time as our lives and responsibilities change.

Life changes the way we write

Before I had my son, I’d write whenever the muse struck. Sometimes that would be at 3am, when I’d wake up from a dream with a thought I couldn’t shake off. It could be at the bus stop when an overheard conversation sparked an idea or it could be straight after a swim (I often have my most creative thoughts when water is involved). Then, my son was born and it became harder to whip out my phone or a notebook whenever I wanted. When he was little I wrote when he napped (whenever that might be). Now, when I’m not coaching, I’m writing all day while he’s at school. So I take what time I can. When I’m writing for clients I do my research during the day but actual writing usually takes place either right at the start of my working day before I even open my emails (I try to avoid opening my emails before lunch if I can. I can lose half the day otherwise!), or into the night once my son is asleep. But what about the writing that’s just for me, the almost therapeutic purging that leads to my more creative pieces, and often forms the bones of most of my poetry..?

Well, I became a morning person (most days. I still have my off days, when I don’t force it). On a usual weekday, I rise before my son, before birdsong even, to make time and space for me, to meditate, to write and to be.

It’s 5.30am and I’m at my desk. If you had told me five years ago I’d willingly get up before 6am I would have struggled to believe you but here I am.

The birds are not yet singing but if I listen very carefully I can hear the distant hum of other early risers. Mostly cars already on their way to work. Not on our street though. Before 6am when my husband wakes up, it’s just me and the silence, until I fire up my laptop and add the tap of the keyboard to my morning music.”

You can read more of the above essay, Before Birdsong, about my morning writing-as- self-care routine over on literary magazine Raising Mothers.

How about you? Are you a morning person? Whatever your day involves, whether you’re a writer yourself, running your own small business or a busy parent (or all three!), do you have any routines that you try to stick to, that make a positive difference to your day? How do you make time and space for what’s important to you..? Do share your thoughts in the comments below!

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