Coach yourself and your family at home with Barefoot coaching cards

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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:

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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!

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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

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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!

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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.

 

 

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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On intentions, parenting and poetry… Happy New Year!

I hope this year has started well for you… I’m not going to write to much here as – for the first time since I promised more videos back in September – I have actually recorded a vlog for you!*

In just seven minutes of screen time (you can spare seven minutes, right?) I share some of my intentions for the year ahead, offer support with your resolutions (or intentions, or goals, whatever you prefer to call them), talk parenting and share a poem to see you into the New Year.

*Sorry about the background noise, hope that it’s still clear enough!

Here are some of the links I referred to in the video, in case you’re interested 🙂

Monika’s Story
Proudly Imperfect Parents
My personal blog (where I’ve been keeping my poetry), Honest Speaks.

Want support with your intentions/goals/resolutions?

You can email or tweet me…
Or leave a comment on my Facebook page.

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Proudly Imperfect Parents

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What? Proudly Imperfect?

Yes! Back in March, I ran a coached workshop for working mums, which focused on addressing the specific challenges of those mums who work outside of the home. Following the feedback from this, and from all those of you who completed my survey about what you’d like, I decided that the best way to reach even more of you would be to create an online programme for all parents, on the more general theme of letting go of the idea of parenting perfectly.

Why am I doing this?

Because none of us are perfect parents. Right now, there is a lot out there about being ‘perfectly imperfect’ and why it’s important… And we nod and smile and say ‘Yes!’ but deep down, do we really believe it’s ok to be imperfect, flawed even..?

When my son was first born, I fell into this ‘story’ for a minute. I read some books on the first year and re-read some stuff on early development while pregnant and had some idea about routines but I was mostly taking on board what I liked and doing what felt right for us. On our own, we were fine. When other people questioned me though, I started to question myself. Was I wrong? Not good enough?

Over time I became more confident and now, although I have my off days, I know why I do what I do and I’m not afraid to make mistakes and change something if it’s not working. Why? Well first and foremost, my internal representation of a good mother isn’t a perfect one. My mother wasn’t perfect but she was perfect for me…. And as a coach, I know that what I used to perceive as failure is actually just feedback. If I try new approach to parenting and it doesn’t work, then I try something else…

Perhaps you have an idea in your head about what the perfect parent is and despite all the nodding when you read about being perfectly imperfect, inside, you actually still want to live up to this ideal (which will be different for each of us) and get upset when you don’t.

How can we really let go of this idea of what we feel we need to be and truly be who we are, knowing that this will benefit both us and our children?

I’m not a parenting expert. I’m not a perfect parent. And that’s kind of the point. If you’d like a step-by-step guide on how to parent better, you won’t find it here. What you will find is a mum who tries to be a gentle parent and sometimes fails. A mum whose own mum was less than perfect but more than she could have wished for in an early role model for love. A coach who knows how to ask the right questions to shift your story from ‘I’m not enough’ to ‘I am good enough. And that’s more than good enough’ so that you can honestly state, ‘I am a proudly imperfect parent’.

By the end of the four-week course, you’ll be paying more attention to what you’re already doing that works for you and your family (so you can do even more of that and less of what doesn’t serve you, or them) and you’ll have a deeper, more personal understanding of how being even more of yourself can take you from anxious about what you’re doing ‘wrong’ to proud of how your imperfect parenting actually works. For your whole family.

Who says there’s a right way to parent anyway? Right…?

The four-week course will launch in early 2016. To be first to find out more and know when dates are confirmed, make sure you sign up to the Proudly Imperfect Parents mailing list, where you’ll also be first to receive any freebies or special offers!

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Coaching and connections: A not so small part of my story

Someone recently told me, “No-one cares about your story”. Their intention was positive, and I somewhat agree. You don’t land on my homepage to read my life story, you arrive because you need a coach, or a writer, so you’re interested in what I can do for you. But. The comment got me thinking… Is it really true that no-one cares…? Well, that kind of depends on who is looking.

When I’m looking to work with someone, I don’t just want the best person for the job (although that is important), I’m also looking for a connection. Why should I choose this person, over all the other fantastic service providers who will get me the same results? For me, knowing a little more of their story could be the difference that makes the difference, particularly when I’m looking to work with a coach, supervisor or therapist, where the relationship is key to my development.

puddles_WritingPeoplePoetrySo, with this in mind, today I wanted to share with you a part of my story* that is always present, and particularly today. On this date in 2007, my mum passed away. I won’t go into the details, except to say that it was sudden, unexpected, and, coupled with somewhat related events, wiped me out emotionally for a little over two years. It was around this time that I fell out of love with words for a while, as I struggled to connect back to my passions. Time does heal, but the grief still bubbles to the surface from time to time.

 

Fast forward two years to 2009, and my boss at the time (still a mentor of mine) suggested an NLP course for me. I was in two minds but I decided to sign up. Best decision ever. It was during this course that people started to say I was “a natural coach”. I used to think I was pretty good at giving people advice. Wrong! I was (and am!) good at helping people to find their own solutions, to change the direction of the less desirable stories they find themselves living. I’m good at helping people find inner confidence, move past ‘stuckness’ and overwhelm and gently guiding them to reconnect with themselves. I do all of this from a place of connection.

People_WritingPeoplePoetryGuess who role modelled the importance of connection in relationships? Mum. She was a master connector, forging deep and meaningful relationships and making friends for life everywhere she went. Sometimes, she talked a lot about herself. Sometimes people would share equally, others not so much. I realise now that this willingness to be open, and therefore vulnerable, is where the deeper connections were made.

So, I guess this post, on this date, is sort of a public Thank You, to Mum, for inspiring and motivating me to keep on and to remember that no matter what happens, as people, “we are here for each other”. And these connections live on even when we don’t.

So, maybe it’s true that no-one cares about my story. And maybe it’s not. Either way, I care about yours. Care to share a small part of your story in the comments below?

Like this? Sign up for more!*This post was just a small part of my story. I’ll be sharing more small parts, including thoughts from some of my mentors, teachers, clients and friends in the coming months. Be sure to sign up so you don’t miss any!

Making friends with our monsters

If you’ve been over to my Facebook page this week (you haven’t? Pop on over and say hi!), then you’ll know it’s my son’s first week of school. Some of you may be in the same boat, with kids either starting school, starting a new school or returning to a new class/new building/new teacher. Maybe you’re even doing something new yourself.

As with anything new – comparisons for us could be starting a new job, beginning (or returning to) further education or moving house –  there are a lot of unknowns. This makes it all a bit scary and it can take a while to settle (perhaps longer than most for the more sensitive among us).

My ‘Mushroom’, as he’s known online, has had some tearful mornings and although he’s always had fun at the end of the day, there was some talk of ‘monsters’ everywhere at the start… The way he embodied his fears got me thinking about our monsters and what we can do about them

Let me explain further as I make friends with one of my own monsters – around visibility and tech – video blogging! Watch (it’s only 4 minutes!):

Tell me about your monsters… Have you made friends with any? If not, what tiny steps could you take towards getting to know them better? Do share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Words are my why… What’s yours?

“It’s perfect! Thanks Rachael. You are really good at writing!”

The words beamed at me from the screen, warming my chest, creeping into the upturned corners of my mouth and adding extra sparkle to my eyes, where the glow spread and gently nudged my creativity into further action.

Feedback is a gift

I know I’m a good writer. It’s taken me a long time to get to this place but years of writing for a living and repeated feedback, not to mention real cold, hard statistics showing increased audience engagement as a result of my words, have helped me to lose the ‘fraud’ mentality and believe it to be true. Still, it doesn’t hurt to hear a compliment sometimes, does it? And feedback like this reminds me of why I do what I do in the first place. The writing, the coaching, the bespoke poetry.. All of it.

She_was_fascinated_with_wordsWords are my why

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by language and the magic words can weave. Even seemingly simple expressions can have such a profound effect on the person receiving those words:

“I’m sorry”

“I love you”

We have all heard these words (I hope!) and they always affect us differently depending on the context and delivery. Add more complex layers and the effect can deepen, or not… “I love you when you…” Depending on what you add, this can make the compliment even more personal as it shows the specifics of that love, or negate it completely by making it conditional.

I couldn’t tell you how old I was when I started writing. But I do remember bits of one of the first poems I wrote; ‘Monday Morning Blues’, about not wanting to go to school. It was not an easy time for me but I didn’t go into that detail, it was a simple rhyming poem (a style I still love) that had been assigned as homework the previous week. I hardly remember the poem but I do remember the reaction when I had to read it out loud to the class… There was recognition. The other kids – for that brief moment – ‘got’ me – we had something in common. I had been in love with rhyming poetry for a while by this stage but this was the first time I had been the one weaving the magic with my words.

Over time, as I studied several languages, learned a little about linguistics and a lot about psychology, my love affair with words deepened. We fought now and then, sometimes losing touch for years, words and I, but now we’re pretty tight. Together, we create poetry with purpose, write copy that resonates with the audiences of businesses and causes we believe in and change the life stories of women who’ve lost their passion for life under layers of all the crappy stories we tell ourselves.

This. This is why words are my ‘Why’.

So, now you know a little more about me, why not share your passions in the comments below? I really want to know.. What’s your why?

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On parenting imperfectly

If you’ve arrived here via my parenting blog, Mothering Mushroom, you’ll know that imperfect parenting is a bit of a theme for me. I’m not a perfect parent. And, despite being a recovering perfectionist, when it comes to parenting I always knew there was no such thing as perfection. At the start, I wasn’t always ok with that. I’d listen too much to other people and worry I was coming up short as a mum. Over time though, as my son really started to grow into the little person he now is, I realised that the way I parent, while far from perfect, is just right… for us as a family. I do still have my moments and a negative comment on a bad day can occasionally hit me hard but on the whole I now rarely question the principles and values that lie behind any parenting decisions I make.

Good Enough is good enoughIn my coaching practice, I find I often talk to mums who worry about their parenting style, concerned that what they’re doing isn’t ‘right’. I still have to check in with myself when I start saying “I should/shouldn’t have…” Ok, sometimes I could have made a better choice but is the occasional ‘mistake’ the end of the world? No, it’s not. This year, I decided that I really wanted to address this and help even more parents to let go of the notion that there is a ‘right’ way to parent and find the value in their individual, imperfectly perfect parenting styles by developing the Proudly Imperfect Parents series of workshops, which kicked off last month with a Working Mums workshop.

On the day, a small group of working mums came together to share challenges and frustrations – including the desire to be the best we can be both at work and at home, how to manage everything on little sleep and ways we can switch from ‘work’ mode to ‘mum’ mode at the end of the day. We also talked about the idea of the Good Enough Mother and how that could be good enough, maybe even better than aiming for perfection, as we give our children permission to also make mistakes and know that it’s ok, before moving on to talk about how we can reclaim our identity beyond motherhood. As a more creative exercise, we let go of the ‘perfect’ ideals we’ve placed on ourselves (literally – watching as our perfection balloons whizzed across the room as they lost air, and their power) and made cards to take home, as reminder of how we’re Good Enough.

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How are you good enough.. and what can you let go of today..?

I’ll be tweaking the content of the Working Mums workshop in the coming months before running another one in London later this year but I also want to serve parents across the UK and beyond, whether you’re working, a full-time parent, a single parent or anything in between! So, if the idea of letting go of parenting imperfectly appeals to you, would you mind sparing five minutes to answer a few questions to help me develop future workshops and an online programme? Pretty please?

It might even take less than five minutes, depending on your answers!

If you’re interested to know more about the Proudly Imperfect Parents series, do sign up to the mailing list below. Everyone who signs up will be first to know when new dates are released, will receive special offers and occasional freebies first and will be given full access to the closed Facebook group, where you can find like-minded parents sharing resources and supporting each other.

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