Friday, 31 August 2007

we could be heroes just for one day

Now I promised myself I wouldn't write about the new tv show heroes, but look at me writing away I can't stop my fingers from tap tap tapping!

I really love the show, it's on straight after my group, and it's about all these people who suddenly develop superpowers such as flight, hearing people's thoughts, stopping time, and remembering everything (one I wouldn't mind inheriting!) and it deals with how they are adapting these powers and coming to terms with them.

Accepting how great you are can be really difficult, most of us are great at self-deprecating but acknowledging our strengths and unique qualitites is much harder, but really worth the effort and very empowering.

'Cagney and Lacey'

If that is too much, be empowered by your heroes. I once gave a talk about fans, not the flappy things but fans of shows, bands etc and through my research I found that loads of women had been empowered by the cop drama, these characters had inspired people to set up businesses, leave parteners and lots more!

who knew!!!

I meant to post my blog on Wednesday, but I have been really busy being inspired by some of my idols. I have set a singing group based on the Andrew Sisters, (the 1940's close harmony singing group), and we've been rehearsing like mad for a gig in October. I have loved their music for years and this admiration has been the catalyst for something I am really proud of.

Vanessa x

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

So many heroes came to help

It seems ages ago that the sun shone (well, sort of) and we pitched up in our yurt at the LoveBox festival. Many festivals have come and gone since then, but it was Life Clubs first - and so, important. Wanted to show you a few of our pics. I hope some of the fun we had comes across - and some of the serious thoughts.

This last one is of me showing off our yurt. I have to say, that much as I love our Life Clubs T-shirts (you can buy them for £10), they aren't me at my best. But I hope you've enjoyed the other pics - of Bob (Marylebone) running a Life Club, my kids posing with their friends and Flo (brilliant camera woman), Susan (Romford Life Club) and Juliette (Watford) all hanging out. Plus Tommy having a Harry Potter moment.

See you soon,
Westminster Life Club

Super Heroes

If you were a super hero, what would your super power be?

Invisibility? Flight? Time travel?

Oh wait ... those are the ones I always choose for myself.

Sometimes we think "wouldn't it be cool if we could only do [insert amazing activity here]" ?

Maybe we already have our super powers and just haven't tapped into them.

Try being invisible for a few hours ... just sit back and watch and listen ... either to yourself or to those around you.

You want to fly? Learn to hang glide, go play on a flight simulator, or take a course in lucid dreaming.

Time travel? Pull out an old scrapbook, or sit down and write down evertything you remember about your 6th birthday. Or maybe what things will be like when your grandkids turn 60.

Just remember to use your super powers for good (but that's a given, because surely no super villains are reading this blog).

Sunday, 26 August 2007

My hero, myself

I was sharing a leisurely beer in a pub last summer with an old friend who, like me, used to be a musician. There was a guy sitting a couple of tables away who, we thought, looked somehow as if he too was a brother musician. So we asked him. We said, "Excuse us asking, but are you a musician?" "Yeah," he said, "I used to be in the biz." A bit more desultory chat and then we got on with our respective pints.

Six months later my pal reminded me of this incident. "Do you know who it was?" he asked. "Well, no," I said. Of course. With a lead up like that I perhaps shouldn't have been surprised when he said "It was Ray Davies, front man of the Kinks." Golly. What a hero. And I hadn't even noticed. What a missed opportunity that was.

It got me thinking, what other heroes am I blissfully unaware of? One hero nearly all of us fail routinely to give sufficient acknowledgement to is ourself. Just take a moment and consider - what opportunities would noticing your own brilliance open up? What difference would it make? Think of the other way round - if you don't look at yourself as a unique, talented and important person (and make no mistake about it, you certainly are), isn't it going to be a lot harder to be all you are?

So this week in Life Clubs, that's what we'll be talking about - you and your greatness.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Moving on

Wow - that's been quite a week. As I write I'm finding it hard to move on to the week ahead; this week we're looking at letting go of the past (I know, the irony's colossal), yet Bob's Auntie Lorna is a great example of something inspiring to remember. In all sorts of aspects of life we tend to let ourselves be run by past experiences, even though we might be fully aware that the "lessons" we once learned are no longer relevant and need to be abandoned. It can seem tricky to let them go. It's a lot easier than it usually looks though, and we'll be exploring that in this week's workshops.

Part of the trick is discerning what's useful to keep and what we really would be better off without. We do learn a lot of valuable lessons as we go through life, often from amazing people such as Lorna. Perhaps it also helps to acknowledge that those experiences are the ones we should keep, just as we leave some behind. Recognising the good stuff only helps sift out the crap we no longer want to be colouring our judgement.

It all helps create that ideal life we started thinking about last week...

Mark Lister
Edinburgh Life Club

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

it's a wonderful life

There is a woman in East Kilbride, who has just won 34.8 million on the lottery.
As I heard this on the news, i began fantasising about what I'd do with all that money...this isn't the first time I'd played the, what would i do if I won game, (an interetsing past-time seeing as I don't play), but I haven't done it for a while.

My thought process went something like this..
i wouldn't have to work..great....I could afford to do all those courses I wanted....not much point if I wasnt going to use it in my work...I could buy a theatre and put on a play...nah..I like to do it the normal way...ok well I'll just hang out and go to lunch with all my can do, they work, and after a while I'd be bored of that....hang on I want to work, i have to work, It's what my life is about....ooooh I'm happy as I am, even with all the problems and upsets I have, I'm working towards my ideal life, and I'm actually doing pretty well, and you know what, I'm enjoying the process.

To the woman in East Kilbride, I wish you well and hope you enjoy creating your ideal new life, and me, I'll keep plowing on with mine.

Vanessa x

What's the Big Ideal?

This from the Compact Oxford English Dictionary ...

ideal (adjective) 1 most suitable; perfect. 2 desirable or perfect but existing only in the imagination.

Yikes. Perfect. That's raising the bar.

How about just thinking about what makes you (or could make you) happy right now, and realizing that at least some nugget of that is in your world right this minute?

For instance ... I came home tonight after a 13-hour day to learn that my partner's aunt, who's been ill for a while now, passed away this afternoon.

Not ideal at all.

Yes, she's out of pain, but now the grieving begins for those who've been watching her fade away over the past few months. I've known Lorna for the last fifteen years, and despite her woes, she was one of the happiest people I've met.

Last September, at her youngest granddaughter's wedding, she asked me to get her a glass of wine. She was having cancer surgery the following week, but delayed the surgery until after the wedding.

"White or red?" I asked.

"Red, please."

"Merlot or Pinot Noir?"

"I don't give a shit, just pour me something."

And that was Auntie Lorna in a nutshell. May she rest in peace.

She will be missed, and I'm happy to have known her and grateful that she went out of her way to make me feel a part of her family.

Count your blessings, my friends. The more we pay attention to them, the more they'll come into our lives, taking us closer to whatever it is that we define as "ideal."

Sunday, 12 August 2007

This week: Creating your ideal life

This week's special topic is about your ideal life. Most of us would like life to be better in some way, and in this week's workshop we'll spend the time to get down to specifics. What would your ideal life look like? Looking at the life you've got, what would you add, take away, and keep to create your ideal life? Then we'll consider how we can do something about putting it in place. This is about the little everyday things as well as the the big ones - even an ideal life involves details, and it's surprising how much impact those details have on our happiness. Not feeling rushed might give you more happiness than a fancy car.

You might of course decide that both would be part of your ideal life - and that one is achieveable sooner than the other! The thing is, actually knowing what you want to head for beats that vague 'I wish things were, er, better' feeling hands down, because it lets you see ways of actually doing something about it. So this week, our discussions and exercises will be aimed at discovering just that.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Yeah but No but Yeah but No but ...

Here are a couple questions ...

1. What's your first instinct when somebody offers you some friendly (or perhaps not so nice) criticism in the name of "feedback"?

If your like me or the others at our workshop last night, it's to immediately go on the defensive.

"Yeah, but I did it the way you told me to."

"Who are you to judge?"

"I did the best I could with the resources I had."

Et cetera.

2. What's the first thing you do when you're giving feedback and the person you're trying to talk to gets all defensive?

Last night's group all answered the same way ... we get more defensive right back at them.

Creates an interesting little circle of non-communication, doesn't it?


So here's an idea ...

Next time you get some feedback, just bite your tongue and listen. Let it wash over you like you're sitting on a beach and a big, unexpected wave crashes on top of your head. It's just a wave. You know it will pass, and flow back into the sea from whence it came.

Then shake it off, have a think about it, and deal with it once you've had time to get over the shock.

Let's extend the metaphor a bit. Indulge me.

You might want to take a minute while you're underwater, and just slowly breathe out. 'Cause what's going to happen the minute you take a deep breath to support your well-deserved "no but yeah but no but ...." speech?

Well, you're probably gonna choke and sputter on all that water. You won't be able to soak in what's really being said, let alone take in a drop or two of potentially salient information. It might not be what you want to experience (or hear), but it's certainly not going to kill you to pay attention.

Some of us hate getting feedback because we already know what's right and wrong with what we've done, and we certainly don't want to be reminded of it from someone who seems to think they know better.

But odds are, that "know it all" is just doing their job. Our teachers aren't doing their work unless we keep learning. Our bosses are being scrutinized by their bosses. Our coaches (at work, at the gym, or on the phone) are just doing what we pay them to ... push us a little bit out of our comfort zone.

Sure, feedback (especially from people who don't know how to give it) might be uncomfortable. But why prolong the discomfort but getting into a battle of the wills?

Listen. Breath out. Take what you can use. Let the rest go back to where it came from.

Sunday, 5 August 2007


Well, this is going to be fun! This week our topic is giving feedback. To put it a couple of other ways, offering criticism, and telling it like it is. It can be sooooo tricky saying what we mean to people; for starters, there are all sorts of reasons why we don't wish to offend people. We have concerns that they might be unpleasant to us, or fire us, or spread rumours about us. Basically, telling others our honest, warts-and-all opinion is a place where our insecurities can have a field day. So instead we end up being tactful, evasive, or downright silent. Sound familiar?

Most of us do this with at least one or two people, some of us do it with nearly everyone. But even if there's just one - your boss maybe, or your father - that's enough to undermine you and make you feel compromised in the honesty department. It might not even just be about negative feedback either - for example, in Britain we're notoriously bad at handing out compliments and acknowledging each other. And while we're on the subject, we're not much good at receiving compliments either.

Why is any of this worth doing anything about? Only for the sake of having clarity and honesty in the communications you're involved in in your life!

One last thought. I think many of us fight shy of opening up and saying what we mean because we've got used to thinking that the alternative is confrontation - one extreme or the other. So in this week's Life Clubs, we're going to be exploring ways of giving feedback that enable us to get across the positive, constructive messages we really want to convey.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Glad I didn't have me as a mother

My 17 year old daughter just handed me the copy of Cosmopolitan magazine she'd bought. There, in the middle of this article about what men like in bed, she pointed out four quotes from me, her mum. Luckily my words of wisdom had linked back to Jane Austen rather than anything more lascivious, but I felt it must have been strange for her, thinking she'd learn about sex and finding her mum in the middle of it all.

I'd forgotten that interview had ever happened, but it certainly was one of my raunchier ones. My 19 year old son was in the room at the time as I was spouting words of wisdom about how men like a laugh in bed. As if I knew.

You never know as a parent how you're going to **** up your child. Often it's probably the things you aren't aware of that will do it. When I wrote the feedback workshop we're running this week I wished I'd thought more about feedback before. It's so easy to criticise negatively and so difficult to do it so that your relationship is enhanced.

So, darling daughter, what the hell were you doing reading an article about what men like in bed in the first place?

See you there,
Westminster Club

Thursday, 2 August 2007

no means no

Every week i prepare my notes and practice at home.....
This week was about saying no, and in my talk I was giving examples of different ways to say no and it gradually dawned on me that as I was saying, "No, I can't do that" or "No, I can't I'm really sorry"
No matter what version of No I was saying, as I spoke I...nodded my head!!!!
So every time I am saying no to things, in fact through my body language I am saying yes....
This is all I have to say on the subject at this present time.
Vanessa x