Wednesday, 30 May 2007

makin' your mind up

Ahh Bucks Fizz, I remember the Christmas I was given their album....What pearls of wisdom..'Makin' your mind up', and don't get me started on 'The Camera never Lies', but I digress, which of course means I'm not focussed on the task in hand.

Focussing is so important and yet can seem impossible. Ever been encouraged to constantly learn, and take on new things, 'strings to the bow' ? I have, and to tell the truth sometimes my bow is at breaking point, (flat hunting will do that to ya).
Not that I'm complaining, I love having lots to do, but I recognise that to do something really well, you need to focus on it. I wouldn't have been a very good host this evening if my mind was everywhere. My entire focus needed to be in the room, and that is what made it a great evening, well that and the great material and wonderful clubbers!

Deciding what to focus on, 'makin' your mind up' if you will can be the tricky part, how you do it is your choice, throw a dice, write lists, ring everybody you know and ask for their advice, get a million different points of view and be none the better, (a past favourite of mine!) like I say it's your call, but if you really concentrate on one thing, you'll reep the benefits.
Vanessa x

Ps for past readers, I have made a discovery concerning the food diary. It's not enough (for me) to simply write down what I've eaten each day and forget about it, you have to look back to highlight the patterns, or in my case the complete denial, to truly see where to go. It's all very exciting. Will let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

It's All a Blur


Too much to do today. Lesson plans to sort, a staff meeting to get to, a Tuesday 200 to write, a Life Club to get ready for, and now the cat's walking around squealing in pain and throwing up on the carpet that I just got steamed cleaned last week.

Did you ever have one of those days when it's all just swirling around you and the duvet seems to be half-calling you and half-mocking you, knowing that there's no way you can succumb to its warm cocoon?

It's mornings like this when I forget to breathe. Forget to sit down, take things one step at a time and focus on the task at hand.

Okay then, the vet's been called and an appointment's been made.

The cat sick won't leave too horrible a stain. Nothing that the steam cleaners can't get out next time. Why'd he have to barf on my side of the bedroom? Let it go. At least it's not in plain site.

I did more prep work over the weekend than I thought, so the lesson plans (at least today's) will be fine.

We've done tonight's workshop before, so it will be like visiting an old friend.

And the plot/characters for today's story will probably come to me on the tube or during the staff meeting.

Ahhh, I'm calm and centered and, well, reasonably focussed again.

It's so easy to get caught up in everything and lose sight of what we can actually accomplish. Wouldn't it be nice if we came with the auto-focus settings that the snazzy digital cameras come with?

Auto-focus. How do we install that in ourselves?

Maybe that's what a few deep breaths and this cup of tea are for.


Sunday, 27 May 2007

Focussed as a locust

That's how I'm approaching this week. Oh yes I am.

It strikes me that very geometric language is occuring to me here. There's 'FOCUS', which is the subject of this week's Life Clubs; CONNECTED to, or DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED to that, is going off on TANGENTS (a forte of mine). I could go on, but I'll get to the POINT. Geometry has a simplicity, a beauty and a clarity to it. That's what we get when we're focussed. When we're not, everything's messy and confused and full of struggle.

The funny thing is how easy being focussed seems to be when you actually are being focussed. I'm going to hang onto that thought this week and see where it gets me.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Dancin' in the streets...or maybe the living room!

At Salisbury Life Clubs this week, we explored Where the Heart is in terms of how we use the space that is our home. Also, if that space seems unable to support some expression of our self, where can we find the place that best suits our heartfelt desires to dance, exercise, relax, calm down and a whole host of other activities and moods we might want to create.

Although Dancin' in the Streets is a great tune, it really is not advisable if you live anywhere that there is traffic. So the living room might just fit the bill as the place to crank up the tunes and "get on down with your 'bad'self" as a friend of mine used to put it. Maybe the club scene is where you can let all that creative dance expression out.

I had an idea about how you might broaden your horizons as to places you can do your thing. You could make a collage (cut out images from magazines and stick them on paper or card) to correspond with either each activity (be creative, romantic, relax, exercise, etc) or for each room of your home, and see what fits where for you. Maybe the kitchen is the place to do the salsa as well as make it! It then might become a place for some romance as well...

Have fun with it-


Thursday, 24 May 2007

Home coming - by Kimx

Home Coming

After all the talk about home this week it really got me to thinking about the chaos I call home. Four children, husband, dog, numerous neighbours and friends constantly in and out. I always say how much I love the chaos and the buzz. I love never knowing how many for dinner and can I make sausage and mash stretch thaaaaaat far. But this week I got to wondering… I really enjoy it ,what about relaxation.

Ho Hum I’d have liked to have taken a quiet moment to contemplate this and navel gaze a while. But I couldn’t find a quiet anything, all bathrooms taken up with a massive teenage ‘dye in’ of Goth black hair, back room full of 8 year olds wii-ing and front room full of those who missed Ugly Betty on Friday having a second chance Sunday.

You see!! Ha ha !! revelation I have no place to call home – for me!

Someone at our sponge day said ‘what if you became ill’. That statement was sent off into the gods…….and it happened. I spent the next two days in bed with an ear infection.

The tornado that was my house had shifted, it was now my head. I spent two days feeling extremely drunk, with the room spinning and not a drop of alcohol to show for it. As I spent two days with one foot on the floor trying to steady the room the strangest thing happened.

The house went quiet.

Neighbours, children, friends and Goths were shoo’d away. Coffee. Biccies and sarnies appeared and no one came near nor by with a request for dinner money, school shoes or keys.

I had been given peace.

Its great to know that out of the wonderful chaos, a little quiet and thought for mum can be found, when she really needs ‘to come home’

Now which one of those black haired Goth kids IS my daughter!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

show me the way to go home!

I am currently house, well flat, hunting for my first property, and the process has really made me think about what I want from a home, need from a home, how much influence I want over the decor, am how important the area is to me, and how in the end most considerations fall by the way side when you find a place and just 'know' it's yours.

It's taken me the prospect of spending vast amounts of money to think about this, but that doesn't have to be the case.Just looking at how you use your home can make you see it in a whole new light. I realised that I don't think of the bedroom as a place I use to wonder I don't sleep well!

Having lived in various places in my life, the most challenging and colourful being the student flats I shared, and touring where you spend each night in a different hotel and most of the time on the tour bus, I quickly learned to adapt and feel at home in new places. For me it's about feeling at home in yourself, being flexible, creative, having a comfy bed, and (the realisation that one of the questions tonight prompted), having somewhere to dance!

I'm off to start making my bedroom a place to relax, and then I'm off to sleep! The dancing will have to wait til tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

There's No Place Like It

I was standing at the back of the crowd on the Astoria's dance floor last night, listening to Fountains of Wayne. They're a power pop band from New Jersey, and they'd pulled in a crowd of loyal fans into a smallish club in London. The boys were at home on the stage. The crowd was definitely at home with the band (are there really that many transplanted 20-somethings from Jersey in London?). And me, I was just enjoying the tightly constructed guitar riffs and the catchy lyrics, which are often all about living in New York City ... a place I called home for over a dozen years.

Home. It's a odd concept, isn't it? I've pondered it before. As adults, most of us pay good money for our own places to live, but we often talk about "going home" for Christmas. Many people spend more time in their offices than they do in their living rooms. There are all kinds of television programs and books on how to make a house a home.

Just what is a home?

I think for me, over the past couple years, I've realized that home is more of a state of mind than a mailing address. Sure, you can create areas in your flat that are full of beautiful things or physical reminders of people you love. Or maybe you're a zen minimalist, and find joy in an abundance of clean, clear surfaces.

But perhaps those physical things and spaces are just reminders of the "home" that's inside each of us ... a soothing blend of comfort, peace, and tranquility that comes from getting to know ourselves.

What's home for you? And how can you take that along where ever you go?


Monday, 21 May 2007

Where the Heart is

I really enjoyed the club on Saturday. I think it was interesting how for many of us it really brought "home" to us how much we really love where we live.

I'm really excited about doing this with my group tonight.


Friday, 18 May 2007

Creative Conscious Eating

So we're thinking about cutting out the excess by being conscious when we shop, cook and eat. To make this process more fun and colourful, and tasty!, I've got a few ideas that might kick-start the changes you'd like to make.

When you have the chance to go to the supermarket and you are not in a hurry, turn it into a new experience for your senses. See the food as works of art. This helps with the healthy eating as fresh things are out there for us to pick up, feel the texture, and appreciate the varying colours.

I chose some organic gala apples yesterday. As I looked at each one I picked up, I noticed the beautiful range of colours from yellow to deep crimson. The different patterns were gorgeous as well. This led me to anticipate just how crunchy and sweet this apple would be to taste when I got home.

A nutritionist I know suggested that I 'eat a rainbow' each day. What a great way to combine our creative nature with our desire to eat consciously. Create a colourful plate or bowl of food for yourself. Challenge yourself to get as many colours as you can into a meal. They are more appetising and as you slow yourself down to get involved in the process of consciously choosing what to put together, you will make changes in your eating and eat what appeals at the moment, and not just what is habitual.

Have a yummy weekend-

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

I'll have a pizza you!

I've just driven back from my Lifeclub and saw a man struggle with his impratical 'Fresh and Wilde' bag filled with healthy organic food. He was struggling because he was cycling at the same time. This made me giggle, and of course worry for his safety! Is his conscious eating damaging his health?

To borrow a phrase, 'You are what you eat'. True, it's important to really look at what you're putting in your body, what really nourishes you and gives you the energy you need to tackle all the other areas of the balance chart you want to work on.
I, like many of us think about the outside first, (why can't I look like Angelina Jolie?) but thinking about how food actually makes you feel can really make a difference.

I've been writing a food diary for a month and was asked tonight if it makes me think about what I eat throughout the day, and I have to say that sometimes I think, 'I don't want to have to write that biscuit down later', so I don't eat it. More importantly though is how interesting it is to really look at what you are feeding your body.

In our club we talked about planning, so that you have good food in the fridge and can make good food to have on the go. One woman does her food shoppping online so not to get swayed by the smells from the bread machine and many tempting treats in the supermarkets.

Me? I'm going to keep on with my diary, and see how the lists shape up!

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Just One More ...

This week is all about indulgences (not the Papal kind), or at least becoming aware of our habits around what we indulge in. This is especially interesting for me as I’ve just come back from a “Yay I finished my course, let’s celebrate” weekend in Amsterdam, where it seems indulgence reigns supreme. As I say all too often in our workshops, “there are no coincidences.”

The takeaway from tonight’s workshop was by making ourselves more aware of what we’re doing (overeating, lighting up, worrying about what we can’t control, etc.) we can control the habits we wish to change. We might not be having that extra helping of crisps because we really want to, it’s just because we’re bored and they’re there.

I remember my wake-up call about smoking being an unconscious habit. I was living in New York. I rode the tube subway home almost every day. When I got to my stop, I’d have pulled out a pack of cigarettes and have one ready to light as soon as I got upstairs to the pavement sidewalk. One afternoon, I was about 200 yards from my flat apartment and decided to light up a cigarette. I took the pack out of my jacket, pulled out a fag smoke and put it in my mouth, simultaneously reaching for my lighter.

The glitch was that I already had a cigarette, lit and half smoked, in my mouth. I had become so accustomed to the habit of lighting up, that I wasn’t even paying attention to the cigarette I’d already started when I got out of the train.

That’s when I knew it was time to quit. I was no longer making conscious choices, just doing things by rote.

Pay attention to make sure your habits are good ones. Try keeping a journal of whatever you want to stop overdoing (eating, drinking, smoking, spending, trying to decide between British and American words). Don’t judge yourself, just start making yourself aware of when and where and why you do what you do. You’ll have a whole set of new, healthy habits in no time ... even in Amsterdam.


Monday, 14 May 2007

Skipping out of our club

At my Life Club we had a few who, like me, did a bit of excess eating, but more who were excessing on the worrying and a few who were excessing on the under-confidence. By the end we were all skipping out, ready to enjoy the rest of the evening.

When have I been in a similar situation and overcome it? I've lost weight before.

What did it take? Determination and desire.

Can I do it again? I'm sure

What's my commitment to losing weight? 8 out of 10.

What's my first step? Fruit for breakfast.

Watch this space.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Visualising isn't fattening

Someone very skinny told me the other day that her method of losing weight and remaining wonderfully svelte was to just wait until she visualised the food she wanted to eat in front of her before eating anything.

Now that's a good idea. Since she passed on this little tip, I've been realising how rarely I wait until I actually visualise food, I just eat it even if I'm not hungry. I actually find thinking about what I really want to eat extremely difficult. I tend to just eat what's there.

So, this week, I'm going to wait until I can see my craving in front of me before I start eating anything.

I wonder where it will lead me - steak for breakfast? muesli for lunch? chocolate mousse for supper?

Life Clubs is all about indulgences this week - could be sleeping (too many duvet days), drinking, smoking, working, working out or any other excesses - I'm looking forward to hearing what other hints I'm going to get.

See you there,

Overdoing it? Moi?

Looks like we're going to be thinking about trimming the fat this week then. Pun intended - this is both literal and metaphorical fat. I certainly have rather too much of the literal sort; wherever I go, I carry a brie tyre with me. Trimming my bacon would be a good idea. This I know, and happily pass on this advice to anyone who'll listen to it. But I have no sense at all that there's a causal link between large helpings and my own personal waistline.

On retreat this week, I had a bit of a revelation which connects with the time management we looked at last week. I've felt for some time that I'm great at ideas, but my weakness is the whole Doing thing. What I realised is that in fact, I'm very good at doing stuff; if it's in the diary, it'll get done. It's the executive stage, the picking which stones for each day that trips me up. My focus needs to be on decisions and planning.

This connects to this week's contemplation of excess too. One of the first things we do when dealing with excess is to decide where the lines are drawn: how much is too much, where can we make cutbacks, what could we actually do without altogether. That's the challenge for me - making the decisions. I could be perfectly happy with the weight I am, for example, or I could choose to loose 20lb. (That'd make it a lot easier going uphill on my bike.) Pick one and commit, Mark.

So it's simply a set of options. I just need to get clear about what actually constitutes eating the right amount for me - because the fact is, I haven't a clue and don't give it a thought. If I did, I'd probably be the one that dictates my weight, not the cheese counter.

I know other people will have different challenges with cutting down on things. What's interesting for me though is how one's own personal themes, strengths and weaknesses make repeat appearances in different Life Club workshops.

Now - what other choices am I hiding behind a cloud of indecision?

Friday, 11 May 2007

Would you like your stones plain or with glitter?

Having the visual image of the three stones being the priorities I would like for the day is a powerful one. Everyone at the Salisbury Life Club talks about 'their stones'. It gives a sense of something tangible to hold on to. That's what we want when we're talking about making time for our most important goals. We want them to be something we can touch and see and be inspired to do, for no other reason than that is what we have chosen to be the things that we value the most for this day. The things when achieved will take us closer to the next level we are striving for in whatever area of our life.

It got me thinking about actually having some stones that you might collect to carry with you in your pocket, if small enough, or to place somewhere that you will see them throughout the day- maybe your kitchen counter or desk. Choosing your actual stones might be a lovely exercise to try. Go for a walk, in the woods or on a beach, and take in your natural surroundings. See what stones you find or rather what stones find you! I often find when I am walking a stoney path near our home that I'll look down and amongst the many stones will be one that for some unknown reason appeals to me. They are often smooth and rounded. These to me are the ones that feel good to hold, the weight and texture seem just right. Perhaps you might find some to which you are attracted. In the realm of creativity there is no need for justifying or logical reasoning, so just go with it. There might be something about a particular stone that as you ponder it actually reminds you of what that stone could represent for your day's priority.

Taking the time to do this exercise is also a great way for you to get in touch with some of the things that are important to you, that you really do value, but might not have been given the place in your day that they deserve. Allow yourself that time to reconnect with what it is you would really feel great about having done as you look back at the end of your day.

Here's another idea for getting creative with your stones. In remembering that these stones represent something special, why not make your stones a bit more showy, if that's what you like. Get some paint out and see what colours inspire you. Most of us relate certain colours to certain feelings and so this could work for your stones. Perhaps some racing stripes for that goal of running today, or a soft blue to remind you of the calm you'll feel after meditating. You could, for that extra wow goal, cover your stone in glue and then coat it with multi coloured glitter! Why not!!

Here's one last way to make those stones work for you and make you go for it. Take a trip to your local shop that sells crystals. They can be quite inexpensive for some beautiful variety in your stone collection. Again, with all the different textures and shapes, colours and sizes, see which ones jump out at you. (Obviously, not literally. That might hurt.)

So, like your life and all the things you value doing: get your stones, plain or with glitter, and play with them, move them around and see how you like what you create.


Thursday, 10 May 2007

That reminds me

I really like this weeks Life club topic. It reminds me to think about 'me' and put 'my' important things first. It reminds me to plan for 'me'. It reminds me to make time for 'my' life.

All this reminding reminded me of how not taking the time to think and plan had seen the neighbours almost lose their will to live.

I shall explain

Having spent a lovely long weekend with the caravan club, next door neighbours returned home, caravan in tow. Whilst trying to park the caravan on their drive, one wheel had sunk firmly into the mud. It was not going to move, no way, no how. I watched as they got all the more frustrated and wife and husband fought....... hard to resist the urge to have a full on domestic in front of all the neighbours.

I offered a few words of encouragement and support and then (as we entered the second hour) red wine. All the time their 10 Year old son, Callum, had been whittering on about something, but he had to be silenced, this was serious adult work. As we wondered whether rotating the house would be easier than rotating the caravan, young Callum stepped forward removed the jack from the boot of the car, placed it under the caravan and invited his father to jack up the wheel, so that he could place a plank of wood under it, drive caravan forward out of the mud and onto the driveway.

The moral of this story is, take time to relax, plan and think things through, often a simple solution is not so far away

.........or borrow a ten year old!


Don't Stone Yourself

This week's workshops are all about prioritizing. Thinking about all the things we have to do in our lives and realizing that we have to make choices to get things done.

Bottom line, pick three priorities for your day and focus on them. They're the stones that go in the jam jar of your day and all the other minutia of your world can fall in to place around it.

But sometimes, even with your best intentions and planning, you can't get to one of that day's priorities.

What went wrong?

Maybe your car broke down. Maybe a friend or relative called and needed your support. Maybe it was the last day of your TEFL course and you couldn't keep your eyes open long enough to see the front door, let alone write a blog post.

I'll go out on a limb and say that maybe nothing went wrong. Maybe you simply decided to be flexible focus your energies elsewhere, on things that became more important to you as your day went on. Or maybe you just gave yourself a lesson in choosing more realistic priorities.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's really important to set your goals and put your energy towards small, daily accomplishments. Just make sure that your goals are for *you* as much as you can ... not for your boss or your boyfriend or your mother.

And if, for some reason, the occasional stone slips past, don't beat yourself up over it. Think out what you can do to make the next day's goals more achievable.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007


As an actor organising your time can often be not only difficult but a fruitless task as things can change so quickly. I remember a friend who went into an audition and got offered a job on Friday, and had to leave to go on tour for six months the very next day! So you think what's the point of planning!. Well, the point is that on the days that your life isn't completely turned upside down (in a good way) leading a balanced life makes you feel amazing, and this weeks topic offers a tool for doing just that.

What are the important things in your life?, What really excites you and what do you feel passionate about? Make those the first things you plan into your day, (you may not do them first thing, but you will do them). This was new to me, I always thought that the horrible things that had to take priority...even thinking about the things I love first sends a tingle down my spine.

The club really went for it and light bulb moments included one girl realising that she was allowed to sleep and that was a justifiable goal to plan for in her day.
"Praise be for that", as my Granny would say.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Busy, busy, busy

I'm one of these people who likes 'doing' things - whether it's working, taking photographs, chatting to friends - it doesn't matter, so long as I'm busy.

Better still is multi-tasking, one of the reasons I loved being pregnant. Even if you're doing nothing, you're still busy creating.

This week's Life Clubs theme (First Things First) is great for people like me who hate those days which are eaten up by e-m and phone calls - other people's agenda. By knowing what I want to achieve the next day, I can do it.

Hope to see you this week. If Life Clubs is one of your goals for the day, you'll be there.

Looking forward...
Founder Life Clubs

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Making space for the good stuff

Time management's not really one of my strengths. In particular I'm rubbish at drawing those lines that say 'This happens in this part of the day, that happens after lunch, and after X o'clock, no more working.' (It's currently 10pm on Sunday and I'm still doing this and I have a whole bunch of stuff to do before bedtime and... well, you get the picture.) Worst of all is making time for myself. It's all interconnected though, and the messier my organisation of work tasks and time gets, the more fallout there is on the rest of my day. What's more, these days all add up to ongoing, month-in-month-out temporal chaos and frustration. And the fallout lands on the other peopple and commitments in my life too.

The bottom line is that anything you want to do needs space to be done in. So an essential part of taking control of life is assigning the space to put the good stuff in, so it doesn't get left out. And for all the other stuff too, so it gets done and doesn't intrude on the good stuff's space. Not rocket science, but that doesn't mean it isn't easier said than implemented. The good news for me, and you if you're in any way a fellow sufferer, is that there's a great system in this week's workshop for getting on top of all that. I've found it really works, even for me.

This week I'm going to be doing this big-style - I'm going on retreat. Not quite the same as what the workshop's about, admittedly. Or is it? I'll be locking out everything else for a bit, so I can focus on certain things without pressure to do anything else. It's about ring-fencing time for things. Another thing going on retreat has in common with time management in the real world is that it's hard to say 'During this period of time, no!' to everything else that's not assigned to that time. The thing is that everything and everyone else can have their turn with your attention - and if it's one at a time, everyone gets more out of it.

Including you.

Have a great week


Saturday, 5 May 2007

Ya can't roller skate in a buffalo herd!

All these great blogs on happiness had me singing, literally!

This of course is another way to being happy: bringing more laughter and play into our lives. The song by Roger Miller, 'Ya can't roller skate in a buffalo herd' reminds us in it's uniquely funny way that there are certain things you just can't do,BUT 'you can be happy if you've a mind to... all ya gotta do is put your mind to it Knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it.' It's the bottom line to happiness really. Let go of all those other things and focus your mind on actively doing the things that make you happy. Sing a ridiculous song, play with your children or borrow some friends kids- they know how to play and get lost in feeling happy.

Lighten up, let go (for awhile at least!), be grateful and enjoy the present.

Here's something to try: Smile at EVERYONE you see today, go on, say 'Hi!', see what happens. You might just suprise yourself!

Smiling in Salisbury-

Friday, 4 May 2007

An outbreak of Happiness

Last weeks Leamimgton Life Club had to be abandoned due to an outbreak of Happiness.

Our normally peaceful Life Club venue had been taken over. French students loudly and very very happily celebrated the last night of their UK tour with a booming Disco.

This week we considered abandoning once more. The outbreak had spread!

The main hall of the venue had been stormed by Muskateers. The local Am Dram group were Swash Buckling, with great energy, enthusiasm and YES it has to be said Happiness. This was the final dress rehearsal and not man nor beast could stop it. I suspect not even Spiderman 3, half man, half beast and in all good cinemas from Saturday, could have stopped it.

We battled on (pardon the pun), waging our own war on noise pollution, injustice and 'we were here first' blues. With liberal applications of glooms arch enemy - HUMOUR- we ended the evening victorious. And what do you know the Happiness had spread. Its a 'positive' epidemic!!


Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Is porridge all you need to be happy?

2nd may

Thinking about happiness certainly helped me through the London traffic today! So I was looking forward to tonight. It was great to just think about where we are happy in our lives and not to take it for granted. People in the group said that it was lovely recognising what things make them happy, and one person said at the end of the group that tonight had made her realise just how happy she is!

As is often the case in my Life club, breakfast and in particular porridge was discussed in detail! We all agreed that it is hard not to find deep satisfaction in a good breakfast!

One area we all felt we could do more in was doing things for others, so we have set ourselves tasks to do in the week which include:
Giving up your seat on the tube for no reason.
Smiling at someone in the street.
Making a neighbour a cup of tea.
and to join in with Bob's group, write five things that have made us happy each day...prompting the breakfast discussion.

Happiness is subjective but these are some things that make Islington happy:
We are going to dance in the morning while we get ready.
Making small and achievable goals
Not comparing ourselves to others
Seeing our friends and relatives more
and you guessed it...porridge!
Is that bowl of oats all you need....It's a start!

Vanessa x

Being happy now

Happiness often seems to be something that people are continually striving for, as if it is something elusive, only available in the future. I hear people actually say phrases such as ''When I get that new job, I will be happy'' or ''When I get a new partner, I will be happy''
or even ''When I make a million, I will be happy.''

We can choose to be happy now. For me, it is a way of thinking and being and appreciating the present. Yes, I agree, gratitude really does help and choosing to appreciate what you have, right now, this very moment.

For example, for me, just sitting still in the sun with my eyes closed (in the middle of a 10 mile walk in the countryside) on Sunday helped me to really tune in and hear the sounds of the birds, feel the grass under me, the warmth of the sun on my skin and the wind on my face.

If my group of friends and I had carried on walking, we would not have experienced these things fully. Perhaps, we would have barely noticed them and taken them for granted
as we normally do. Indeed, some of my friends found it very difficult to just sit and do nothing: one was on the train back to London again, in her mind!

Other 'every-day' occurrences that can become 'happy' experiences for me, are the savouring of my cup of tea (I'm a bit of a tea-pot!), the taste of a glass of wine (well, perhaps not every day on this one) or the feel of freshly laundered bed-linen (would like to say that this was weekly, however...) and being naked with my lover (wish this was every day!)

Make the choice to be happy as you go about your day and I guarantee the quality of your life will improve.

With warm regards

Rachel x

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Long Way to Happy?

I’m in the middle of a month-long intensive ESL teacher training course. I don’t exaggerate when I say it’s grueling. Anyone I talk to who’s done it just looks at me, shakes their head and says, “oh you poor thing. I can barely remember the month I did my training.”

I should be, as P!nk so eloquently puts it, a “Long Way to Happy.”

Happy. How do you teach happy to someone who knows no English? Do you simply make a smiley face and point to it? Happiness is something we all want to feel, and yet often find so difficult to define. The Collins Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary says someone who’s happy has “feelings of pleasure, usually because something nice has happened, or because they feel satisfied.”

So where do we find satisfaction? I found some during an “a ha” moment in tonight’s “Rules of Happiness” workshop. I learned, as did those who took part, that we’re all a little bit closer to happy than we might think — we just need a reminder every now and again.

I reckon that one of the easiest reminders is this simple question …

What am I grateful for?

Go on, give it a go. Think of something that you’re grateful for right this minute. Maybe it’s the bed you’ll sleep in tonight. Maybe it’s the fact you got a seat on the tube, or a compliment from a stranger, or that there’s some Ben & Jerry’s in your freezer (or at least in your grocer's).

Here’s an experiment my Life Club is doing. Please join in. Think of one thing you’re grateful for. Then think of four more. One you have the first, the rest come easily. Tomorrow when you wake up, write down five more. Do that every morning for the next week and let me know how you feel. Odds are, it won't be a long way from happy.


Rules of Happiness

In my Life Club yesterday we talked about the 'rules' of happiness. Everyone was pretty clued up about what made them happy.

The 'lightbulb moments' were around people discovering how important they found the company of others, how money was useful but not necessarily what made them happy and how self-esteem often relates to how good you feel about yourself compared to your peers.

What could make you happier today?

And what's stopping you going out and doing it?

Founder Life Clubs