Sunday, 28 October 2007

Circle of friends

Oh I love this weeks Lifeclubs topic, LIFE CIRCLES. Its a really really great exercise that appeals hugely to the Visual learner in me (steady on all those nodding and saying 'I knew she only ever looked at the pictures'). I have played with this exercise a lot and have added not just people, but things, events, feelings, friendships etc. I've had great fun giving each a different shape and then the kids joined in and they added colours too.

This half term we have had many visitors. Marianne, best friend of eldest child, stayed for 4 days, posing interesting questions on Immac V. Lady shave. Her two Dads, who also stayed for 2 days, suggested I might be better able to answer this than them (I booked her in for a leg wax). Lesley my lovely friend from the Isle of Wight stayed 3 days to get her fix of shopping before starting treatment for Cancer and many of the neighbours and their children joined us at various times during the week for drinks, meals and laughs.

When the last of our visitors left this evening and we loaded the dishwasher for the 100th time, my daughter turned to me and said "you know mum we haven't so much got a family as a Venn diagram". I think she may have a point!

Leamington Lifeclub

Monday, 22 October 2007

Winter Wonderland

I have always said, if there are such things as 'former lives', I was definately from a very hot, sultry climate. I love, sun, heat, humidity, long days, strappy sandals, the smell of coconut oil and yes, yes Sangria, pina colada, pimms, any alcohol served with an umbrella and ice. So as you can imagine I don't take kindly to these dark cold evenings and frosty mornings. My usual cure for this is to batten down the hatches, switch to mulled wine and moan til May. Not so much a cure as a nest.

But you know I got to thinking that my negative energy about winter might just spread . I don't want my clubbers to read my mind, agree with me and all stay at home under the duvet with Cadburys and Corry.


I will be embracing my winter self. I am going to think positively about all the lovely winter woolies on sale, scarves, ooh I love boots and I could really get into that layered look. I will be leaping out of bed boyed by the thought of natures own blusher- a bracing walk and setting off for work with my head held high and shoulders back. Already I can see how my hunched in a duffle coat look gives out the wrong message. I am going to take on winter and win. I will be as energised and enthused as if it were spring. Winter is not a sleepy, dark, cold season. Its just a matter of perspective. Its invigorating, bracing and breathtaking!

My energy will spread and the doors to my winter Lifeclub will be flapping like Santas letterbox.

I look forward to the rush (and the mulled wine!)

Leamington Lifeclub

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Half full? Half empty?

This week we're going to be looking at how we look at things, and how we can CHOOSE to look at how we look at things. Clear as mud? Well, the thing is that looking at things from a different perspective is very often a great way to make progress. There is no one fixed, "correct" way of looking at anything. Choosing how we see things makes a big difference to what we think of as being possible in any given area of life. In this week's Life Club we'll be exploring what we can do by taking control of those perspectives.

Mark Lister

Edinburgh Life Club

Sunday, 14 October 2007

What's in my Family Tree?

This evening I went and saw Vanessa Havell (who just stopped running the Islington Life Club as she's going to get married!!!) perform as one of the trio 'The Marjorie Belles' and she was wonderful. It was the Andrews Sisters all over again - only with a twinkle. I was sitting next to Vanessa's mum and asked her if Vanessa had inherited her fantastic voice from her. There was a resounding 'No'.

Who we get what from is fascinating and, what can be even more interesting, is what else we could get if we just looked around at all that talent in our family tree and realised it could be ours too.

I bet you had an uncle somewhere who did the most wonderful wood carving and a grandfather who won prizes for tap dancing. If we just check out who exactly was part of our family we can find out fantastic stuff that could be in our genes too, and also which of our family might be affecting the way we look at the world and our life. Maybe we could even switch perspectives.

I mean, who do we really get what from. Yes, baby wipes from Anthea Turner (see below), but what else - and from whom? Watch this space as we discover all this week.

Any household tips gratefully received.
Westminster Club

I love Anthea

At the last Lifeclubs sponge day a fellow host stunned me by sharing her admiration for Anthea Turner and saying how this woman and her household tips had changed her life. My giving up gossip (see my last post) prevents me from repeating my less than kind words about Anthea! But hey if you can afford a cleaner, why wouldn't you?

But now I find I am a convert.

The tip shared was:

Keep a pack of Baby wipes in the loo. Then, if you have unexpected visitors, whilst you put the kettle on you can excuse yourself for a moment, dash to the loo and give everything a quick swish round with a wet wipe. Gleaming taps, sparkling credentials!!

What a gift this tip has been. Not only do I now have a new labour and reputation saving tip, but I now know that I am not alone in having that heart sink feeling when unexpected guests ask to use the loo. It seems others too wonder if the 9 year old has aimed well, if the 14 year old has left black kohl all round the sink and whether loved ones have left the crossword half done on the cistern.

Heaven, I am a domestic Goddess and an Anthea fan after all!!

Leamington Lifeclub

Thursday, 11 October 2007

But is there time...?

This week at Life Clubs we're tackling time management and discovering that (unlike Bob - see below), none of us have time to read Heat, whether we want to or not.

The Westminster Club it seems, are all constantly at the mercy of people interrupting us - phones ringing, e-mails pinging and so on, over-whelmed by the amount of things in our diaries and endlessly procrastinating - whether through indolence, distraction or perfectionism. Much of it (as usual) down to our inability to say 'No'.

Strategies were put in place to clear our diaries and our heads and focus on what we had to do so we would have time... for reading Heat - what else?

Hope you have a good week making time.

Westminster Life Club

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Biting My Tongue (or my keypad)

"If you haven't got anything nice to say, come sit next to me." So said one of the ladies in Steel Magnolias (and several of my friends as well).

So good luck to Kim.

I've found myself in a situation this week where I've got nothing good to say. I'm in a book club and the book I'm reading is totally grating on my nerves. I think it's overwritten. The characters are all despicable, whiny, spoiled twits and all need a good slap upside their privileged heads. And the narrative voice is condescending.

The critics love it, and the author has won many awards. I think that being married to one of the world's premier literary critics doesn't hurt her cause, but that could be me just being my cynical self.

Nick Hornby once wrote that there are too many good books out there to read something you don't like. Normally, I'd take his advice on this one and bin the book. But in this case, I'm going to plow through. I've already joined in the group discussion (which the author is a part of) and I'm really hoping for some a-ha redemptive moment.

Plus, every week, when I talk Life Clubbers through the creativity spoke of the Balance Chart, I talk about trying new things. So I'm reading this like a writer ... trying to keep an open mind, pay attention to her craft (her CV indicates she's no slouch) and try not to be too bitchy in my discussion so that I can gleam some insights from a critically successful novelist.

Just because I don't like something doesn't mean I can't learn from it.

And when I finish it, I'm reading this week's Heat from cover to cover.

Marylebone Life Club

Saturday, 6 October 2007

The Britney Challenge

This week Nina and I joined a very successful Leamington author and freelance journalist for lunch. She was a vibrant, witty and entertaining lunch date who once lunch was over, left me with a real challenge on my hands.

During lunch she told us how she had given up all forms of gossiping. She said the results of this had been nothing but positive and she felt all the better for it. I listened open mouthed and some what ashamed. I have certainly entertained and enjoyed my own fair share of gossip and bought magazines and newspapers to gloat over whose lost a million, put on weight, or been behaving badly.

As this weeks Lifeclub topic was 'Creating Success' I began to wonder if the succesful me would be so hooked on 'heat' magazine, would she be retelling stories at the school gate of the hilarious antics of my next door neighbour, charging after his escaped dog, in his boxer shorts, at six this morning, would the succesful me be taking bets on which 'spicey' is next to have 'lipo'. What do you think? I guess not.

I am resisting the urge to think that my life will be duller and no where near so funny if I give up on gossip. If I haven't got anything nice to say I will say nothing (Yes folks me saying that is a challenge). Yes, I am going cold Turkey. I will gossip no more. I know tomorrow is Sunday and I usually fold the News of the World inside my copy of the Sunday Times, but no more. I will not be seduced by the promise of a free weekend at Butlins or a DVD of old Carry on films, the N.o.W must go too! I will rise to this challenge and I will succeed. Do me a favour though, help me out here, if you see me round Leamington in the next few weeks, please,please don’t ask me about Britney!