Sunday, 2 October 2011

Just a reminder...

Do move to my new blog and become a google friend or RSS subscriber again.

Another little piece over there waiting for you... and I'm missing your company!

Otherwise, I hope you're having a lovely weekend - I am.
Best wishes,
PS Waving to you to come and join me

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Thank you SO much

With help from glittergraphics I want to thank you for being such wonderful followers of my blog.

As hinted at last week, we are now moving to the Life Clubs website - a far more appropriate home - and I look forward to welcoming you there.

As I won't be posting on this website any more, I do hope you'll sign up to be one of our followers again, either through an RSS feed or becoming a Google friend. Just click here.

It's been great knowing you all and I hope we'll stay together.

Best wishes and thanks again. Here's to new beginnings!

Friday, 16 September 2011

I do like writing on Joomla...

Yes, it's exciting. I'm about to stop writing on blogspot and, taking the advice of many who know better than I, have bought my blog into our website.

But it's also scary. Joomla is a massive engine that holds our website together. I find it quite complicated and, sometimes, unmanageable. Am I going to cope?

This week's workshop, Training Your Mind, is about the way we talk to ourselves.

I could sit here writing my first ever post, saying 'I can't do it. I loved my old blog - we'd been together for four years. I'm not going to feel creatively inspired. I'm not going to be able to understand how to use this new system.'

Or, I could sit here going 'Gosh, this is an adventure. I love the new layout. It's going to attract way more people to our website. I can learn things easily. I'm a closet geek. Bring on the challenge.'

What do you think I'm going to be saying to myself?

Let's train your mind.

Repeat after me: 'I'm going to Life Clubs this week. I'm going to Life Clubs this week...'

Only joking.
See you there,
Founder of Life Clubs and tester of all things new

I am moving to my website blog, but, as yet you can subscribe to it. I'll let you know when we're all set up and ready to go. Thanks.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

We only use such a tiny part of our brains

This week I happened to pass by an exhibition by Stephen Wiltshire, a severely autistic artist. If you've never seen Stephen's work, do click on this link. The complexity and detail in his work that comes from his memory, rather than from copying a photograph, is amazing.

Similarly, though in a different vein, those who win pub quizzes and Mastermind have brains they've trained to hold enormous amounts of information. And, again, concert pianists have worked their brains to memorise vast and complex pieces of music and, at the same time, to play them.

Our brains can do so much more than most of us use them for. We're often just scratching the surface in terms of what we've asked our brains to do - a bit like only using Word on a computer - and so it makes sense that we should train them a little more.

Visualisation, the subject of this week's workshop, Holding Your Dreams, is all about how to use a little bit more of your brain more effectively.

Drawing is a simple way to think about visualisation - as is cooking. We start a drawing or cooking a meal (as Ruby probably did when she wanted to demonstrate all the new colours in her kindergarten, see image, or as Nigella probably does before she starts cooking) by imagining what we want to cook or draw before we begin. Then we fill in the spaces from here to end product.

Visualisation has been shown to help people cure illnesses, to help lose weight and to help with our careers and life in general. It can be used as a superior form of planning - I visualise what I'm going to say and do each week before my club so I can be certain I know what I want to say and how I want to say it and, most essentially, what I want to bring along to the workshop.

So start visualising now about how you're coming along to Life Clubs this week and going to learn something that will change your life... just how exciting is that?

I'm visualising seeing you!
Best wishes,

Saturday, 3 September 2011

There's never enough time...

To me there's never enough time on holiday. I want holidays to go on and on.

At the start of each holiday it seems as if I've got infinite time ahead (that's a great feeling!), but by the time I've relaxed into holiday mode, the days go quicker and quicker and suddenly it's the end and there hasn't been enough holiday.

But during my working life there's always enough time... for what I want to do.

I'm constantly aware of my Balance Chart (see picture) and know which bits of my life I want to work on at any time. We use a Balance Chart every week at Life Clubs for that reason - so it becomes a part of your life too.

We've customised a Balance Chart that we use at Life Clubs Base Camp, so that we can prioritise each area of work and focus on what we want (or need) to do every day. We delegate to each other, know each other's strengths and weaknesses, tell each other when we need help and then together focus on our next tasks. By working as a team and knowing what's important we're increasing speed and cutting out inessentials.

Why do people say they haven't got enough time? Is it an excuse for not wanting to do something?

If you're finding yourself saying 'I haven't got enough time', just stop and think. What would be the harm in saying 'No'?

Learn how to prioritise, avoid procrastination and say 'No' this week at the nearest Life Clubs to you.

It's a great workshop, we call it Streamlining - we like to think of increasing speed to gain time.

See you there,

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Why give feedback?

There's a lot written about giving feedback and how to give it and this week's workshop, Telling It Like It Is, will help you enormously understand the ins and outs of feedback, but to me what's really important and often not thought about enough, is why you're giving feedback in the first place.

It might feel easier to think about why you're giving Positive feedback - because everyone likes a compliment - but I'm not sure it is.

The other day I was on the set of the really fun film my son is appearing in (Papadopoulos & Sons) and the lead actor, Stephen Dillane, came over to have a chat. I'd just heard him acting a man losing his temper and had been really scared by that 'fake' outburst of anger and wanted to tell him, but, at the same time a little voice was going through my head asking me why I wanted to tell him...

Was it because I wanted to share my sensation of being scared by 'his' temper with him and how impressed I was that he could put that on so easily?
Was it because I could never act and wanted to have a conversation with him about what it's like acting?
Was it because I wanted to boost his ego for the rest of the day - or at least a second?
Was it because I felt awkward in front of someone so good at what he does and felt a compliment was the best way in?
Was it because I wanted him to like me?

Gosh, it's complicated isn't it?

Or maybe it isn't complicated.

Maybe with positive feedback, it's OK to have mixed reasons for wanting to give it, because hopefully the compliment given to the other person does make them feel better, especially if it was honest and true, but with negative feedback it's crucial you know why you're giving it.

Sometimes when my children are wearing clothes I don't think suit them, for example, why would I give them negative feedback and tell them I don't like their shirt, especially if they're just about to go out? What outcome do I want?

Because it gets it off my chest (wrong reason)
Because it might make them go and get changed into something 'nicer' (wrong reason)
Because it's important to me what they look like ('get over it, Nina')
Because I'm a controlling mum (definitely wrong reason)
Because I think others will like/respect them more if they're wearing something 'better' (wrong reason - how do I know what their friends will like)
Because I want to change them (impossible and definitely wrong reason)

Of course, I mean it well, but...

Negative feedback is a tool that has to be used carefully. It's key to find out what outcome you want before you launch into it. If it's a situation you want to change then it's essential to use it, but if you just want to change someone else... forget it.

You can't change me through feedback, but any constructive feedback you want to throw my way, I'd be delighted.

See you there,
PS This week's workshop always has wonderful feedback from those who come along. What more can I tell you?

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Finding Your Strengths

As you can imagine, this photo has very little to do with this week's Life Clubs workshop, Presenting Me, except that the model clearly knows one of his strengths and is able to use it to his best advantage.

September is a time when many of us are going to be looking for new jobs and often we don't go into the career that actually suits us best and plays to our strengths, possibly because we're not aware of them.

A great friend of mine, for example, redefines charisma. He sparkles when you meet him. He makes you feel alive and interesting. He's a delight to be with. Everyone he knew suggested that he became the next Michael Parkinson, but no. He decided to become a philosopher instead - a career which didn't really play to as many of his strengths.

We tend to do that. Things that come easy to us seem boring and obvious. Instead we go for careers that challenge us and in which we feel we can learn more.

But that isn't what's going to make us happy in the long run. We can challenge ourselves in any subject, whether it's something we're good or bad at. There's always more to learn.

The guy in this photo has found his strengths and this week at Life Clubs we're going to be finding your strengths - in time for the September job market. Come along and flex your muscles.

See you there. Looking forward,

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Feeling good in your body

My husband is a cross between the water rat in The Wind in the Willows and a character from Three Men in a Boat, so I know to expect a weekly 'let's go rowing'. I quite often find some sort of excuse, but as the clouds were nowhere to be seen and this week's workshop is called Energise Your Body and is all about finding out what makes your body feel good, I thought 'why not' and got ready for a bit of gentle exercise.

It was beautiful on the river. A little choppy, but one of those windy, sunny days which I love. After a disastrous start, in which we almost collided with Richmond bridge, I was off and very much at one with my oars.

We speeded along admiring the coots, grebes, gulls, cormorants and herons, swapping every now and again to take it in turn to row. We were having a lovely time, smiling at all the other passing boats, and I was glad I'd come.

Then, disaster struck. Nearing the boatyard my husband suggested he row the final stretch so that he could 'park' the boat. We got ready to swap sides.

Now, this boat is very narrow, very shallow and a little bit tippy anyway and I had one of those feelings that something was going to happen. As we did our crawling on your hands and knees dance to swap over, the boat toppled over onto its side and I, almost in slow motion, fell out and into the Thames.

I was pleasantly surprised at how warm the water was and I got some swimming in - so even more exercise than I'd anticipated - but once I got back into the boat I began to feel extremely cold and a little shivery.

Luckily my husband had a spare jumper and pair of shorts, so I could get out of my wet clothes and into his dry ones, but I couldn't wait to get home and have a hot shower.

Now, tucked up in bed with a sweet cup of tea I'm feeling much better. I wouldn't say 'good' in my body, but almost.

Roll on next weekend. Can't wait to go rowing again.

See you this week for our inspiring workshop on your body. Great for anyone who doesn't think they like exercise and wonderful for anyone who does


Sunday, 7 August 2011

Que Sera Sera

I remember vividly my mother and I singing Doris Day's Que Sera Sera as we were waltzing around the kitchen.... Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.

It's a great way of feeling you can relax and passively allow someone/something else to be in charge of you and your life.

In many ways it's true - we're not in charge. A friend of mine has just got pneumonia out of the blue, another is moving to Singapore for two years as her husband has been relocated. Both of them feel tossed around by fate and are making the best of their situation.

At Life Clubs we like you to feel you have at least a modicum of control in your life. We like you to feel inspired by a big Plan A - a future you're planning.

As you'll be tackling your Plan A one week at the time you can be flexible if things change, but without that Plan A, we believe you'll not be motivated. You'll be reactively moving along to whatever gets thrown in your way.

This week's workshop, *Life Circles, is about intuitively creating a future you want. You'll leave with a Plan A for the next two years tucked under your arm and a spring in your step.

In fact you'll probably be dancing around the kitchen singing I Want It All (High School Musical)... I want it all, imagine having everything you ever dreamed...

Now won't that be fun!!!

See you this week to create our Plan A.
Looking forward,
*This workshop was run to much acclaim in January - it's our only workshop to be repeated twice!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

What's in a shape?

Our image comes today courtesy of Lime Cube Marketing, whose logo intrigues me and is particularly relevant to this week's workshop, What Shape Am I In?.

Although I can see it's a lime and my mouth puckers and salivates all at the same time looking at it, the shape confuses me.

A cubed lime, apart from needing a different kind of squeezer, looks so much more organised and deliberate. This lime seems functional rather than warm and decorative. This is a lime that means business.

Look around you. Almost everything you can see is associated with a particular shape. Windows and doors are rectangular (except for portholes and hobbit-hole windows), pictures are rectangular as are books and on and on. Shapes are a shorthand for what things are and suddenly seeing them expressed differently makes us reassess them.

Our workshop this week is all about using the metaphor of shape to discover ourselves and what's important to us. It's one of our identity workshops and not only good fun, but incredibly revealing.

What shape are you in right now? Are you an oval or a square lime?

See you this week - can't wait.
Best wishes,

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Do you like what you see when you look in the mirror?

There's a fun magazine series out at the moment about what people see when they look in the mirror and this haunting graphic*, by the German painter, Otto Dix, illustrates the way we can so often see ourselves. Note the smooth, sensuous back which has changed into the chest of an ugly hag by the time she sees herself in the mirror.

Otto Dix is famous for his dark and often erotic imagery, but to me this picture brings home a point. We so often look for the worst in ourselves.

This week's workshop, From The Outside In, is about our bodies and self-image.

I find it easy to look at myself in the mirror and notice my middle-age spread, the bags under my eyes, my unruly hair. But what if I looked in the mirror and saw instead my Rubens-like curves, the twinkle in my eyes, my thick, unique hair? Wouldn't that be better.

Or, better still, what if each time I looked in the mirror and asked if I liked what I see, back came the reply: 'Yes I do....I know I can rely on her anytime.'

Ignore Otto Dix (and the mirror) and come along this week and discover your inner (and outer) strengths. It's a powerful workshop.

Looking forward,
Founder Life Clubs

Sunday, 17 July 2011

We are all lottery winners

How lucky for Mr & Mrs Weir that they won their £161 million just before our Life Clubs workshop this week on money, Want or Need? I thoroughly suggest they jump into their new car (if she’s allowed to buy one) and come on over.

Posh and Becks (only a few million wealthier) have had years in which to accumulate their money, working hard and persistently to get it. They’ve had time to work out what they wanted, time to make mistakes with it, time to row over it.

Mr & Mrs Weir sound like a thoroughly grounded, together couple, but to survive that much money arriving in one fell swoop will call on skills greater than those they have previously needed. Skills that Posh and Becks have been honing for the last seventeen years.

No doubt when Mr & Mrs Weir bought their first ticket all those years ago they had in their mind that the odd million would come in useful. And now they’ve been overwhelmed.

What do you want money for? And how much do you really need – or want? If only Mr & Mrs Weir had come to our money workshop last year they might have saved themselves all the angst they’re about to go through.

Don’t make the same mistake as them!

See you at Life Clubs.
Best wishes,

Sunday, 10 July 2011

I'm such a worrier

I worry about everything, especially the weather.

For some reason I can never imagine the weather being any different to the way it is right this minute. So I'm sure you can sympathise that for me, packing to go on holiday somewhere hot, for example, is really difficult. I just can't believe that anywhere will be a different temperature from the London I'm in as I'm packing.

Yesterday I decided I'd go to the market with my husband. He loves shopping so goes off every Saturday to buy salamis, cheeses and anything else he fancies and, as I don't like shopping, I leave him to it. But yesterday I said I'd keep him company and he suggested cycling.

As we got to the Boris bikes it was seriously grey skies and quite clearly about to start raining. I looked up and said I'd rather go by car. "It's going to keep being like this" I told him "and I don't want to get wet with all our shopping."

So, kind and patient man that he is, he listened to my moans and we went in the car.

How foolish I was. The moment we got to the market the skies were blue and the sun was shining. It would have been a wonderful bike ride and, here we were, stuck in the car.

In honour of this week's workshop, Never Again, I made a pledge. I was never going to let the weather put me off doing what I want to again.

We're going rowing on the river today. It's looking grey, but I'm up for it!

See you at this week's workshop. It's inspirational!
Best wishes,

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Sometimes I don't feel like being creative

This week's Life Clubs workshop, Getting Out Of The Box, is all about being creative. It's an enormously fun and innovative workshop and I can promise that you'll learn a lot of simple tricks that will have you feeling creative even though (on a bad day) you might say you're not really a creative person.

I don't believe anyone isn't creative, although I certainly know what it's like to feel leaden and uncreative.

This week I've been fluctuating between moments of high creativity and 'I'm not creative' thoughts, started off by the wonderful Treasure website. It invites anyone to send in their favourite treasures and then it displays them - it's a fun site for looking at.

But, over the last two weeks, thinking about what my favourite treasure is plus what I'd say about it, has made me feel very inadequate. I'm not much of a hoarder of knick-knacks and couldn't really decide on which piece in my small collection was most important to me - if any. I was bought up by refugee parents who (for obvious reasons) never put too much store by possessions and have inherited the belief that it's people, not things, that are important.

So, I've gone from one piece to another wondering which one best represents me and, then, just yesterday, thinking of nothing in particular, I realised that the only really important treasure for me is my set of coloured pencils.

What makes you feel creative?

See you next week.
Best wishes,

Sunday, 26 June 2011

I'd hate you to wake in the night...

This week’s workshop, Clearing Space, is all about decluttering. I remember when I first wrote it I had in mind that it would be about tidying up (one of my weak points), but the more I worked with it, the clearer it became that the decluttering was all about every aspect of our lives – whether our diaries, our bodies, our laptops or our minds. And we’ve even run the workshop backwards for those who’ve done too much decluttering to bring a little love and spontaneity back into their lives.

My mind has been playing havoc recently. I’ve been waking in the middle of the night and fretting. I’ve lain there for ages trying hard not to wake my husband - although secretly wishing he would wake and help me relax.

Each night has ended up with me padding out of my cosy bed to a place where I can turn on the light and write down everything that’s worrying me and thus declutter my brain.

In a couple of minutes I’ve written a ‘to do’ list for the morning and thus ensured I won’t forget anything that was causing me such insomnia. That ‘I can’t go to sleep as I might forget something I have to do’ feeling has completely gone. I feel light, relaxed, confident my thoughts have been saved and ready to go back to sleep.

Decluttering works – at all times of day and night – and not just for desk tidying up. Come and find out which bit of you (or your life) needs a good clear out – and how to get a good night’s sleep!

See you there,

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Working on relationships

This week at Life Clubs we've got a great workshop about relationships, called Making Relationships Work.

My workshop is on Wednesday and, to be honest, I was beginning to feel a bit hypocritical about running it. I haven't been very sociable recently and didn't feel I was doing particularly well on the relationship front.

This weekend has changed all that (or most of it!) Our children are looking after themselves and my husband and I are having the weekend alone together. We've done nothing much - we've both been working quite a bit, but we've also been to the pub, had a lovely wet walk, and, what's been so important, spent time together.

In that time we've had conversations, listened to each other, been sounding boards for each other and realised why we liked each other in the first place.

If you want to make a relationship work, it doesn't have to be a whole weekend, but why not get together and listen to each other. Miracles will happen.

I'm now ready to run that workshop!

See you Wednesday,
Best wishes,

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Gosh, I'm stuck in my comfort zone!!!

I don't think I've ever won a single medal or award. I don't think I've ever tried.

I'm one of those people who, if I feel any sort of competition looming, just walk in the other direction.

When I heard this week that I was going to be nominated for the NatWest Everywoman Entrepreneurs Award I suddenly felt different.

Part of me wondered why I hadn't been more competitive before as the feeling was definitely good and exciting and then the other part of me kicked in and wanted to crawl back into my hole and say 'I don't do competitions - I'll just lose'.

This week's workshop, I Dare You, seemed particularly apt. If I dared myself, I could allow myself to get excited and if I didn't, I could shrink away.

Maybe this will be the first award I win. Just how exciting would that be.

I Dare You and me to go for it! Do something you're nervous about this week - maybe it's coming to Life Clubs! Just like me you'll find there's absolutely nothing to be nervous about!

See you there.
Best wishes,
PS Do have a look at this great video about Life Clubs created by a wonderful initiative, A Good Week.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

What cements friendships?

This week at Life Clubs we've got a fascinating workshop on what kind of friends you want and what makes you a good friend. It's called Uppers and Downers.

I was dipping into Richard Wiseman's excellent book, 59 Seconds, last week, where he said (forgive my paraphrasing) that often the instant glue between people is what you both dislike, so I've been thinking about that.

I've gone through a long list of people I know to see who else dislikes squid, We Will Rock You, M&S Heat & Eat meals.. etc and can't think of anyone.

I know that frisson of shared loathing and it is a fun start, but it doesn't sustain a friendship for me. Maybe I've got the wrong friends - or maybe we all think a little bit differently.

I very much enjoy people who like the same things as me. We can have picnics together, go dancing together and laugh together. We bond through our shared experiences rather than our mutual dislikes.

And, of course, I like anyone who comes to Life Clubs this week and works with us on friendship.

See you soon,
Hope you have a great weekend,

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Wheel of Fortune

This week's workshop is all about change - ironically the only thing we can consistently rely on - and, in particular about the Medieval Wheel of Fortune, the subject of this week's workshop.

Earlier in the week I wrote a post about the Wheel of Fortune for Brit Mums (one of the Top Ten blogs in the UK), who kindly asked me to be their guest blogger, and, although I also wanted to write a fun post for you here, promptly forgot about it and got on with all the million and one other things I had to do.

My daughter is doing King Lear for her exams, so yesterday we started our play reading, snuggled up by the fire watching the rain outside. Before long, there was our first quote about Fortune: Fortune, good-night: smile once more; turn thy wheel! 'Yes' my daughter casually told me, unaware of how excited I was that my post had just written itself. 'The whole of Lear is about Fortune's wheel'.

Let me just put things straight. Life Clubs is not a tragedy. We are not all going to end up at the bottom of the wheel, suffering. Life is not King Lear. But, as a study in change, the Medieval Wheel of Fortune is worth thinking about.

Why not come along and find it's relevance in your life.
Looking forward to seeing you there,

Sunday, 22 May 2011

How your values can help you find a job - and everything else

(Not at all a typical Life Clubs image, but it seemed to sum up what a career that doesn't match your values might seem like)

At yesterday's WORK & YOU workshop there were a few people who were worried about their future and what exactly they wanted to do as a career.

It's the kind of decision that affects a lot of us. You're either lucky enough to know from childhood that you want to be an artist or a doctor etc or you're not. But I strongly feel that the less you worry about it and the more you just get on with whatever you're doing at that time, the better. Your dream future will happen - or you'll realise, like one participant - that searching for nirvana is a distraction, so just get on with the job you've got as it's good enough.

This week's workshop is about values. It's called Being You
because your values can help you find this life that is 'you'. Knowing your values may not be able to pinpoint your future, but they can help you sort through your options.

They can also help you work out if a career path is yours or one you inherited from your parents. How important is 'status' and 'money' to you really? How important is 'security' and 'stability'? What's yours? And what's theirs?

If one of your values is 'freedom', for example, it might point to you not liking working for other people. It might make you think that you liked to work outdoors or doing whatever freedom meant to you - flying or scuba diving? It could just mean that you feel restricted by timetables and other people's decisions and need to be the boss. Only you can know.

If another of you values is 'learning', for example, and you're in a sales job, that could still work. It's not as obvious as teaching or facilitating, but by teaching people about the benefits of whatever you are selling you are still honouring that value. However if a value you have is honesty, you'd have to feel that you really rated whatever product you were selling or you'd feel uncomfortable selling it.

Come to Life Clubs this week and find out what your values are and why bits of your life may not be working.

One of my values is 'inclusivity', so I'd love you to be there.

Best wishes,

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Do you know why you're here?

As this week's workshop is about success and on 21st May we're holding Work & YOU, our one-day workshop all about work and how to make your work life as successful (fulfilling, enjoyable, lucrative etc) as you want it to be, I wanted to let you read the story of someone who came on this workshop the last time we ran it. It's heart-warming and I hope will inspire you to come along to the workshop too.

"In 2001, by the age of 22 I had got my MBA in India and was working as a management consultant in the Health Sector. I’d also been writing poems and short stories and won some prizes so I enrolled myself on a one-year ‘Writing for Performance and Publication’ course in Leeds - I wanted to see the world. It was wonderful. I met my partner, Robin, in March 2009 and decided to stay in the UK with him.

I didn’t have a job to go to and found it was tough to get work. I ended up going back to India for a short consultancy job which used my skills. When I arrived back in the UK in April 2010, again I found it very difficult to get work. I tried temporary work, but even in shops no-one wanted to give me a job. I think employers were hesitant to give work to an unknown, plus I was over-qualified in some ways and under qualified in others - I knew nothing about retail.

In April I went to a Life Club Work workshop. I was nervous about going, but Robin was keen I should attend. I clearly remember an exercise in which I was asked to think about how a tiger would find a job. Lynne (one of the Hosts) asked me what a tiger does. I replied ‘It hunts’. She then asked me ‘What does it do before it hunts?’ and I replied ‘It goes to the waterhole and finds its prey’. By the end of the day I was thinking about how the tiger conserves energy, collects information and then goes for the kill and knew that’s what I had to do if I wanted to find a job.

The workshop gave me lots of ideas and left me full of enthusiasm. Eight months later I’ve got some consultancy work and am also working in retail. I feel much more confident and the effect of the workshop has lasted a long time – it’s stayed with me.

I’ve even been looking at jobs in PR agencies so I can use my writing skills. I’m not giving up. The tiger is watching out, waiting to pounce."

I feel inspired just reading it. Come and be successful too!
Best wishes,

Friday, 6 May 2011

Asking for feedback

This was our wonderful stand with my adorable son at the Action for Happiness launch a few weeks ago. Everyone was happy there and last weekend with the Royal Wedding and this week we're running our Rules of Happiness workshop to keep the mood going.

But you can't always be happy and I don't even know that it's something to strive for. I like the balance of things being happy and sad and calm and excitable.

Today I've been having a bit of a sad day and I thought I'd be efficient and ask for feedback to collate and use at a later date. I asked everyone who's been to my Life Club which workshop they liked the best.

I didn't anticipate how much that would cheer me up. I've had lots of lovely comments: "eye opening... powerful... interesting... thought provoking... useful" and on and on.

I'm going to add to my 'rules' of happiness... ask for feedback. You know at least some of it will cheer you up!

Hope you have a lovely weekend.
And do book in to our Work & You workshop on 21st May. Quite a few venues have already sold out.

Best wishes,
Founder Life Clubs
Author of The Big Book of Me, The Life Book & How To Get What You Want

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Royal Weddings...

When I was young my mother gave me a scrapbook and suggested I create an imaginary family and home and life for myself. I chose Princess Grace as my mother because I thought then (and now) that she was the most beautiful person I'd ever seen and, in case you're interested, I chose saxophonist, Johnny Dankworth, as my father because I thought he looked friendly and approachable (I suppose those were my assumptions about what parents should be like).

My next Royal wedding of interest was Charles and Diana. My assumption then, in my twenties, was, of course, that they would live happily ever after, but how wrong I was.

Tomorrow there's another Royal wedding and I'm not sure what to assume about their marriage. Probably that it won't last, probably that it will be even more difficult for Kate than she realises, probably that they'll want to bring up their children very differently and that that will cause problems.

Let's hope I'm wrong.

This Saturday I'm going to be creating again - not scrapbooks of my imaginary family, but 'Today I Love' postcards at the Royal Festival Hall from 11am-4pm. Do come along if you can.

After all, I may not choose either Kate as my mother or William as my father, but they need all the support they can get.

And so do we all. If you're interested in finding out what assumptions you make and how they hold you back, check out our workshop, Expand Your Mind, this week - come along (assumption-free please)!

See you there,
Founder Life Clubs

Monday, 25 April 2011

What to do next?

I've been away from my desk for 11 days and, although I tend to think about work a lot of the time - even when I'm away - I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I get back tomorrow.

In a way it's a wonderful fresh start. I've been able to think about Life Clubs from a distance and get a new perspective, but in another way my mind has gone a bit blank - I'm out of my routine.

This week's workshop, Visual Problem Solving, is a fantastic one. At BAT it was their favourite as it's incredible at problem solving in a really playful way - and, if you're anything like me, problems is a major subject.

Remembering the workshop, I started thinking about how I felt. I realised I felt like a wonderful well-travelled suitcase, a little weary and empty wanting to be full with beautifully packed clothes for my next adventure. The emptiness is the unsureness I'm feeling now and the fullness is how I'd like to be feeling - confident and well-prepared - knowing what to do next.

When I focused on my metaphor and started thinking about how I pack a suitcase I realised how logical and sequential I become. Before I start packing, I think about every possible eventuality and then make a list of what I'm going to take to cover each of those eventualities. Inevitably the list isn't all taken, but it's a good place to start.

Instead of packing a case, I'm planning my future, but what's stopping me being just as logical and sequential as I usually am?

I'm starting my list now...

See you this week. I'm looking forward,

PS If you haven't booked for our Work & You workshop, I'd go for it now. Taking place all round the country it's a great way to spend a day thinking about what you want from work and how to achieve it.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Too much to do...

I easily get overwhelmed. I have so many things to do that I don’t know where to begin. I can sit there with my head spinning. There's certainly more than a crossed out 'nothing' on my list.

That’s when this week’s workshop, First Things First, really helps me.

We’ve started using it at work too.

At the start of every day, each of us tells the others the three most important things they’re going to do that day and then we get on and do them.

It gives us focus and moves us to doing what’s important.

Come along to Life Clubs this week and find out how it works.

Looking forward to seeing you,

PS And do book in for our WORK & YOU day workshop on 21st May 2011. It’s taking place around the country and is for anyone either without a job or feeling unhappy in their workplace. £75 per person, £55 concessions and £125 for two. See you there!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

What's my body saying about me?

I'll let you into a secret. I would love to be asked to give a TED talk. I think they're always interesting, fantastically watchable and thought-provoking.

I hope I can be interesting, fantastically watchable and thought-provoking but, what's more relevant right now, is that I like being on stage talking to a large audience.

Needless to say, it wasn't always like that. I had a lot of help from a great actor coach, Martin Cochrane, to get there and for that I'll always be grateful.

This week's workshop is about body language and that's where Martin helped me the most.

Martin made me watch a film of myself giving a speech. You can see it here (or a shortened version on the home page of our website, here). But before I watched it with him he told me to watch it with a positive mind-set, rather than a negative. 'Don't sit there going 'I'm talking too fast' or 'I shouldn't have crossed my arms' or 'Don't I look hunched over'' he said. 'Instead, I'd like you to tell me all the things you've done well'.

It was revolutionary. I started off by praising the way I'd had a slug of water before actually starting to speak!!! I admired the way I wasn't talking too fast!!! I even liked the way I stood tall as I threw the ball into the audience so confidently!!!

You may not be lucky enough to have Martin by your side, but at Life Clubs this week we promise you'll leave knowing where your body language is holding you back and how to get confident about it instead.

TED... watch out. Here I come.

See you Wednesday,
Founder Life Clubs and great speech maker(!)

Saturday, 2 April 2011

'Frightened' is my middle name

I'm a great worrier. Not as great as my mum (or even my brother), but pretty good nevertheless.

One of my worries is slipping when I'm on a walk. You may justifiably think 'It's because you're getting older', but actually it was always like this. I vividly remember when I was about 16 and staying with a few girlfriends in a house in Devon. It was beautiful and we spent every day out walking along the cliffs, but even then I was always the slowest - worried that I was going to slip.

If you're slow and careful, I told myself, you won't lose your balance and, of course, I never did. Everyone else would return home from the walk wet, muddy and cold and I would always look as if I'd just gone down the Kings Road for a bit of window shopping.

Of course, I wasn't having as much fun as them because I was just so nervous and uptight. I was fearful of falling.

So, yesterday, out on a walk in Dorset, when my friend suggested we went off the beaten track and down a really steep slope into nowhere I knew or had ever been before, my first reaction was 'No'. My knees started wobbling at the thought of the hill and I felt really nervous of the idea that we might get lost.

This week's workshop, From Fright to Delight, is all about fear so I decided to think delightedly. I flipped my 'No' into a (somewhat tentative) 'Yes, let's have an adventure'.

And I was amply rewarded as in the distance we saw one of the local stunning white deer with two baby brown fawn.

From now on, 'brave' is going to be my middle name.

Come along to this week's club and get rid of your fears forever.

See you there,
PS Do book in for our highly successful day workshop on WORK. If you've got any doubt in your mind that your career isn't what you want it to be, this workshop is for you - and do tell your friends. It's a tough world out there right now.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

There's always another problem to solve

... and so often we're trying to solve the wrong problem.

At least that's what's happened to me this week.

The problem I thought I was trying to solve was whether or not my 12 year old son and I should be setting off to Tokyo. He's been wanting to go for 4 years and trying to decide whether or not to cancel our holiday has been tormenting me. You may think it's mad that I was even contemplating going to Japan in a week's time, but they are trying to get back to normal life there and seeing tourists is certainly a first sign of normality, so it feels a supportive thing to do.

Everything is up in the air. Japanese family friends we were going to be staying with are not going to be going, but an indomitable American friend is still going, so I've been feeling very torn.

As this week's Life Club is all about problem solving (Key Steps) I thought it would be ideal for me to use it to solve my problem. So, not less than 10 minutes ago, I sat there with the questions (sadly on my own rather than with a buddy inspiring me) and worked through them.

Of course, I was barking up the wrong tree.

The question is not whether we should be going to Japan, but how can I give my son the most fantastic time in those 8 days in which we were going to be going to Japan? What could we do to help him forget that we're not going to go?

My problem was solved and I now feel happy and resolved.

Legoland here we come..!

We all have problems all the time and so often we're not even putting our focus on the real problem.
I look forward to seeing you at Life Clubs this week.

Best wishes,

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Best Life Ever

It's been a tragic few weeks and it seems decadent to be thinking of what could make our lives even better when so many have been, and are, suffering. But who know what will happen in our lives and so it's important, not decadent, to take the time to make them as good as we want them to be.

You've probably all read Steve Jobs excellent Stanford University speech in which he talks about how he uses death to think about what he wants from his life: 'I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?"'

That's a great way to think about each day, but to my mind life doesn't have to be that passionate every day. It's fine to have 'OK' days as well as 'great' days. What's important is to know what you want to fill those days with.

Someone came to my club last week talking, almost embarrassedly, about having the problem of too much time to fill. Some came up with the contrary 'Lucky you, I've got too much to do', but I think we all know that feeling of the day stretching out ahead and no idea what to fill it with.

This week's workshop is about finding out what makes you unique. What it is you love, what it is you'd do on the last day of your life and what keeps you going on those empty days. We look forward to seeing you.

And, referring to another part of Jobs's speech in which he says: 'I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.'

Have you bought tickets yet for our Work & YOU workshop on 21st May? It's from 10-5 and is taking place all around the country. If you want to feel like Jobs, I'd suggest coming along. Find your nearest venue and book now. Tickets are moving fast...

Best wishes,

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Alone at last...

This week's workshop is about the stories we tell ourselves, so I've been particularly interested in the stories I tell myself about my past, my present and my future. I can get stuck in an 'I had such an unhappy childhood' or 'I'm no good at anything' or 'my future is going to be rubbish', so when my close friend, Annie Lionnet (host of Frome Life Club), came round last night and offered to do my Tarot Cards I said 'Yes' as quick as a shot.

If I'm honest, I don't know what the big deal about Tarot Cards is at all, except that they're a great way of starting a conversation and telling a few stories.

We spread mine out on the table and Annie (the expert) looked at them in a rather confused manner and said 'I don't know what to make of them at all', but as she started explaining what each card symbolised it was totally clear to me.

Right now I'm fighting dragons and gathering a team around me to fight more of them. The first tentative coins of our toils are coming in and I'm starting to see a calm sea stretching out from the turbulence I'm in. Ahead there's success - lots of sheep and a family to leave my legacy too. So it's all very exciting.

But the card that puzzled Annie the most was The Hermit, sitting at the top marking my future. 'Yes' I told her excitedly 'That's my future'. Once I've succeeded in my mission of making the world a happier, better place, I can rest and be quiet with those I love. It fitted in perfectly.

Right now I'm very visible and trying to become more so. But watch this space. Once I disappear, you'll know I feel I've done what I wanted to do.

Stories are everywhere and within and without us. Come along this week and find your internal Tarot Cards - and how easy it is to weave a good plot or two.

And do hurry and book for our Work & You workshop. Places are selling fast. Do tell your friends if you know they're troubled at work or want to find a career they love.

Hope you have a great weekend,

Saturday, 5 March 2011

We are all stars

We'll win tonight is good for starters, but looking through the paper today I came across a couple of headlines I rather fancied adopting myself:

The first was:
Always (the race horse) is on right track to success and the second:
Why Micah Richards should be lauded for finally fulfilling his early England potential.

In my mind I rewrote them easily, substituting my name for the original:
Nina is on right track to success or even:
Why Nina should be lauded for fulfilling her potential (I know... I got rid of a few words on the second one, but they didn't seem necessary).

It may sound 'sad', but I felt good writing those headlines down - and even thinking them. Try it... substitute your name for mine and see how it feels.

Headlines are very powerful and they're the topic of this week's workshop. They're a great way of finding out what you really want your goal to be and they're inspirational.

Just a few moments ago my headline was Nina writes her blog post in record time and look, now I've done it.

Let's try it again...Thousands rush to Life Clubs workshop!!! More Daily Mail than Guardian I know, but just as effective. Come and join us and feel inspired.

See you there,
PS Don't forget to book for our Work & you workshop on May 21st. It's in conjunction with Psychologies Magazine and will be totally brilliant.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

I love people who say 'No'

I remember vividly when Katharine Hamnett said 'No' to Mrs Thatcher. It came across loud and clear. Maybe a bit obvious, but wouldn't I like her as my PR?! Oh yes!

People who say 'No' are effective. They respect themselves and so it's only fitting that you respect them too. They demand it. Do I hold it against them that they won't baby-sit or come shopping with me? No, I don't. I may curse them under my breath or momentarily resent their decision, but ultimately they get my vote.

Am I like that? Sadly not. I tend to say 'Yes' to other people and then regret it and - although a slightly different sort of 'No' - I find it hard to say 'No' to my feelings of under-confidence and jealousy which can sometimes leave me unable to do much except feel inadequate.

This week though I'm feeling excited as we're working on saying 'No' at Life Clubs. I'm going to come to my workshop wearing no signs of inferiority whatsoever and if anyone says 'No' to attending I'm just going to respect them for it.

Having said that, I look forward to seeing you there, saying 'Yes' to changing your life!

All best,
PS Don't forget to book for our workshop on Work & you in association with Psychologies Magazine. It's on 21st May in venues around the country and booking up fast - though sadly Katharine Hamnett isn't doing the PR. Read more about it on our website.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

I'm all over the place...

It's Sunday and yesterday I was told by my Kundalini Yoga teacher (how good does that sound?!?!) that I was unbalanced and way too creative and all over the place and it would be good if I focused more on my Seventh Chakra and relaxed!

As this week's workshop is on focusing, that sounded a reasonable idea.

Instead of just sitting down at my laptop and trying to remember all the millions of things going on in my mind and wondering which to focus on doing, I thought I'd write a list of all the important things I have to do, go through it speedily and then relax.

It was easy to write a list - though needless to say it wasn't as short as this one - and I decided to just get going and then have breakfast with my husband, whenever he emerged.

An hour later he appeared and, although I'd been hard at work for that hour, I noticed I'd been doing a million and one things none of which were on my list.

Focusing - whether on what I'm doing today or what I'm doing with my life has always been a difficulty and yet I know I'm only fully satisfied when I'm doing one thing at a time and have a plan.

Come along to Life Clubs this week and enjoy finding out how you can focus and then ... (whatever it is your yoga teacher wants you to do)!

See you soon,
PS Do book now for our Work & you workshop in association with Psychologies Magazine. It's on May 21st in venues all over the country and (believe it or not), some focused people are already booking now! Be one of them.
PPS In case you wondered... writing my blog was on my list!!!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Perspectives shift

Don't ask me why (lazy morning? relaxed? stalling for time? or probably a combination of all three), but I spent some of this morning reading my diary entries for 2007. (To quickly put you in the picture, these aren't personal entries about my gorgeous children, lovely husband and ideal life. No, these are work entries, charting my thoughts and actions around Life Clubs).

There is probably little as revealing as seeing from your current perspective who you were when you first penned those words. And, imagining yourself four years ago and looking at your current self from that four years ago perspective is also pretty tell tale.

Readers, I am a wiser woman now than I was earlier today.

I've realised some good things about this 2011 perspective. I am definitely wiser, more realistic and more ambitious than I was four years ago. I don't feel as alone - I now have my little team around me. I have proof that Life Clubs is great and that makes me more confident and clear about what I'm doing. And, of course, we are more successful than we were.

But so many things haven't changed. I've still got my optimistic 'Tigger' bounce. I still enjoy finding connections in everyone I meet and everything I do. I still love options. I still don't focus enough.

So, what advice would my 2007 self give my 2011 self right now? I think it would be 'get out of bed and enjoy the sunshine and stop worrying - just look how far you've come'.

That sounds like a good, clear instruction to me. I'm going to take it.

This week's Life Clubs workshop (week of 14th Feb) uses perspectives to see all the good stuff that's already within you. It's fantastic - do go along - bring your Valentine!!!

Happy Valentine's Day for Monday. I'm buying myself a beautiful bunch of flowers - tulips, my favourite!

In association with the Southbank Centre we are creating postcards for the Royal Wedding with the theme... 'Today I love...'
Please send any postcards in that theme to 3, Smith Square, London SW1P 3HS, England and check out our website for inspiration.

See you this week,
Founder Life Clubs

Sunday, 6 February 2011

He who hesitates is lost...

This week, although surrounded by green 'go-ahead' lights, I started noticing everything I was procrastinating on (probably because our workshop this week is on procrastination).

I realised that although I was getting on with lots of things, I was avoiding anything to do with banking, phone calls (the usual) and, yes, my mother.

I hadn't seen my 95-year old mother for a few weeks and was definitely dragging my heels about seeing her. There was a fear there, which I hadn't noticed before, but I couldn't work out what it was.

Yesterday, out of the blue, my 18 year old daughter said she'd like to do an art project on my mum and I found myself overwhelmingly moved. Somehow the idea that my mum would be captured forever in an 'A' Level project was very poignant and my Lightbulb Moment was that I really dislike the overwhelmingly sadness I feel when I see her as she is now.

Ursie, my daughter, and me went to visit my mother yesterday and I decided to embrace my sadness and tell her that I was already missing her. With her dementia, she isn't my mother at all, but more like a 2 year old grand-daughter, but with none of the joys of growing and developing in front of her, just those of death. But my comment about missing her, delighted her and we had a lovely few hours together.

See you this week at Life Clubs when we'll be exploring the three reasons for procrastination and how to get past them. Read more about the workshop here.

Love Nina x
Founder Life Clubs

Sunday, 30 January 2011

What makes a good question?

This week's workshop (week of 31st January) is about asking questions that make you think.

Let's give it a go... What would it benefit you most to think about?

I remember last year when I was working at Feltham Community College with the Year 10s (14 year olds). A little unsure - I'd never worked in a school before, I decided that the most important thing I could do right at the start of the lesson was to make them realise that Life Clubs was not going to be like anything they'd known before. I started the first lesson by going round the room asking each of them in turn what they really enjoyed doing and why. Needless to say, there were a few that thought it amusing to say they 'didn't know' in answer to my questions, but the rest said that no-one had taken an interest in them like that before.

They were right. We often don't take an interest like that in ourselves and others either. We tend to ask each other the same questions: 'When's supper?'... 'What's on telly?'... 'What are you doing tomorrow?' We don't ask 'Do you feel like cooking supper tonight?' or 'What could we do instead of telly?' or 'What would make tomorrow special for you?' Instead we settle for the familiar.

Life Clubs questions are inspirational and thought-provoking. They help you work out what it is you already know, but might not be focusing on. And, like with most subjects, there are the standard questions and the fun ones.

What I really enjoyed today, is that walking round the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford there was a question (only one) that could have been written by Life Clubs...

If you were to decorate your own coat of arms, what animals would you choose?

I don't know about you, but I'd have an eagle.

See you this week at Life Clubs. Is there anything that could stop you coming?
Author of How To Get What You Want

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Out of my comfort zone

I went way out of my comfort zone this week and it felt scary...

A few years ago I ran a series of workshops at the drinks company, Diageo. They were a hit, we got wonderful feedback, everyone felt calm and energised at the end of them and I met a group of lovely people.

Quick flashback...

So, here's my secret... I have never had 'a job'.

Well, that's not strictly true. I worked for Electra/Asylum and CBS Records in Los Angeles when I was in my early twenties in the art department working on album covers (such fun), but since then I've always been self-employed.

When I created Life Clubs seven years ago, I never imagined the workshops being used by corporates and now, even though Life Clubs has been run in lots of corporates who have all loved the workshops, there's still that fearful little voice going round in my head saying 'What do you know about the life of someone with a job?', 'How can you bluff it with an HR person and say you understand their problems?' 'Stick to what you know'.

As our workshop of 24th January is all about those beliefs we have about ourselves that limit us, I decided to take action. I met the lovely man who came along to all my workshops at Diageo and asked him what I could do about getting repeat business after all that lovely feedback.

He welcomed me with open arms and, the moment I left, emailed two members of the HR team and the lady who ran the Women's Network introducing Life Clubs with effusive praise.

Don't sit (like me) waiting for three years for the phone to ring, just make that call. Leave your comfort zone for pastures new.

I went way out of my comfort zone this week and it felt scary... and wonderful!

See you this week at Life Clubs to work on your beliefs.

Hope you're having a great weekend,
Founder Life Clubs
PS If you're in a wonderful relationship, are over 25 and have been together for more than 18 months, please do answer this sex in relationships survey ... thanks.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Planning ahead

I've been surrounded by people this week talking to me about strategies and asking me if I had planned what I wanted to happen in the next two years, so it felt as if last week's club about planning ahead was very relevant.

I know that if I plan ahead it makes everything easier. It makes it easier to say 'No', easier to focus and easier to feel calm.

Today's my birthday and I've got a lovely plan for the day. All the family are going out for brunch and then off to see The King's Speech. Two things I want to do that I'm really looking forward to. I'm just waiting now for some of the teenagers to wake up so I can open my presents!!!

Today's a simple plan just for me, but most of my plans are much bigger. I know I can feel as if my plans are overwhelmingly large and I don't know how to tackle them. Those plans can seem to cover all aspects of our lives and often we don't really know where to start.

Next week's club is all about planning and how to make it simple. We'd like you to know every day what you're doing - just like I do today - but to have an overview so that each day builds on the next. All that in 90 minutes!

I'm saying 'No' to writing more today because of my plan. Hope you all have a great day too - over here the sun is shining.

All best and see you at Life Clubs,
Nina x

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Happy New Year...

I want to wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope this year is healthy for you and brings you a wonderful, balanced life.

I don't know what New Year resolutions, goals, decisions etc you made for yourself, but last week's Life Club workshop (our first of the New Year) was all about you and what's important to you. What relaxes you? What sustains you? What gives you pleasure?

This picture used to be me (only with grey hair)! I love my work and you could often (well, slight exaggeration, occasionally) find me slumped over my desk in exhaustion. Last week I decided to change all that and go to bed as early as I could every night without my laptop but with a good book or even (serious treat) a film. Sleep before midnight is, I've been told, the best.

The week has been wonderful. I've been in bed most nights before 10.30 and, most of them, I've even been asleep by then. I watched 'Toast' one night (thoroughly enjoyable)'Bleak House' another (riveting), read an old diary another night and the others I just dropped off nice and early. I feel great.

I'm not a great believer in resolutions, but this week's workshop brought home to me how important it is to treat yourself well. I make sure my children get enough sleep, so what about me? Why don't I look after myself as well as I do them?

What would you do differently if you were looking after yourself as well as you look after others?

Next week's Life Club is all about finding out what you want in your life over the next two years. It's about discovering what's important to you from the past and present and weaving those things into the future - just by drawing circles. I've already done my circles and am feeling inspired.

See you there.

Hope you're having a great weekend,
Founder Life Clubs
Author: The Big Book of Me, The Life Book, How To Get What You Want