The end and the beginning

Image by Wiertz Sebastien

Image by Wiertz Sebastien

Have you ever been in a place in your life where things aren’t the way you want them to be, but you have no idea what to do next? You throw ideas round, but mostly all you see are the reasons why it’s impossible to make changes.

I found myself there nearly 18 months ago. I wasn’t enjoying my job and although I applied for others, nothing came through. After grumbling about my situation for a while, I decided that instead of focusing on a job change, I’d make other changes in my life.  I would focus on doing more of the things I loved. So I created this website Challenging Life Creating and committed to writing a blog each week.

After a few months of writing weekly posts, I realized that writing about the things I believed in, made me feel alive and was something I wanted to do more of.  At about the same time, I stumbled over an online writing program called  Self Publishing School which takes you through the process of writing and self-publishing a book on Amazon. I tried hard to ignore the deep desire I felt to write a book, after all, what did I actually have to say. But I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t give it a go. So in September last year, I signed up, created a mind-map of what I wanted to say and started writing.

I’m so excited that a long-held dream of mine is actually coming true. My book SUPERHERO ME: How to Feel Great about Yourself and Make the World a Better Place will be published on Amazon on 28th August – exactly one month away.

Cover 7During the next week I’ll invite people to join my launch team to help me promote my book. when it’s launched.  Members of the launch team will get an early free PDF of my book so they can read it and provide an honest review on Amazon once it’s launched. Reviews are the drivers that push books up the Amazon rankings and get them out to the right people.  For the first three days on Amazon, my book will be free and I’ll be asking my launch team to tell others on their social media networks that it’s available,. So if you’re interested in joining my launch team or getting a free kindle copy of my book, CLICK HERE and you can sign up to get more information.

In addition to writing my book, I’ve started a life and career coaching business that is skype-based. My focus is on helping people transition through challenges they face. For a limited time only, I’m offering four free 45 minutes coaching sessions to anyone who is interested. You can find out about that offer on my new website called Unique and Thriving.

I’ve decided to set up a new website because my focus has changed. Unique and Thriving is better able to promote my life coaching practice and my books  – yes, I’ve started writing book number 2 already. It’s going to be very different from Superhero Me.

Writing blog posts for Challenging Life Creating gave me the direction in my life I needed in the past eighteen months but now it’s time to close it down. From now on I’ll be posting my weekly blog on Unique and Thriving.  

Thank you to everyone for reading and commenting on the posts I’ve written for Challenging Life Creating. Your support has given me the confidence I needed to explore these new directions in my life. I really hope you will continue to follow me on Unique and Thriving.

So if you have feel frustrated in your life, try something new that interests you, you never know where it will take you. It might take you somewhere you never could have imagined.

Ability, spirit and work ethic

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale

I’ve never followed the European Football Championships before but because I’m staying in London with my daughter and her husband who are in the fitness industry it is required watching in our household. My Spanish son-in-law was devastated when his team was knocked out in the early stages, but now we’re all rooting for Wales. Wonderful Wales – a team with just one superstar that has ignored the odds and just keeps winning unwinnable games.

What an inspiration the team has been. When asked what was the reason for their success, the Welsh Manager Chris Coleman praised’ the ability, spirit and work ethic of his side’.

An interesting choice of attributes. Necessary to win at football yes, but also necessary if you want to achieve anything meaningful in life. Let’s look at these attributes one-by-one.

Ability – Each member of the Welsh team is a highly skilled footballer. They are at the top of their game because they’ve devoted years of their lives getting to the place they are in right now. To put that level of effort into excelling at something, you have to love what you are doing. If you want to be truly successful,  focus your energy and develop skills related to the things you care about and have a natural flair for.

If you want to take great photos, you need to understand f-stops, shutter speed and ISO. If you want to create a beautiful garden you will need to know about soils, light and temperature, as well as understand which flowers and plants flourish in your environment. I needed to learn how to ride a motorcycle before I could zoom off into the wild blue yonder. If you want to succeed in an area but don’t yet have the skills, take the time to up-skill. And don’t worry about your age, you’re never too young or too old to learn a new skill-set

Spirit – Spirit is about attitude and the Welsh team is demonstrating spirit in spades. Do you believe in yourself and back yourself to achieve your goals, even when others don’t think you can? Or do you secretly expect to fail because you don’t think you’re good enough?  Without self-belief, you won’t succeed. You’ll give up when the going gets tough. It would have been easy for Wales to drop their heads when Belgium, the 2nd ranked team, scored an early goal in the quarter final, but they didn’t, they focused on equalizing. Then they went about scoring again and again. So how do you deal with setbacks? Do you give up and abandon your dreams or do you pick yourself up, dust yourself down and focus on the next step? Without spirit you’re unlikely to achieve what you want in any area of your life.

Work-ethic – Nothing you want in life will be handed to you on a plate. If you want something, you’re going have to work for it – simple as that. Hard work is tiring and can be draining, You have to say No to distractions. No-one has achieved anything worthwhile, be it a great relationship, success in a career or achieving personal goals, without hard work. That’s the reason few people make their lives count – they prefer an easy life. If you want to make a difference in the world, be willing to leave ‘easy street’ and put in the hard yards required to make it happen.

I’d encourage you to look at what’s important in your life and what you want to achieve. Are you making progress or do you feel you’re failing? If you’re struggling, ask yourself:

  • Do I have the skills I need to achieve my goals? If not, how can I gain the skills I need?
  • Do I have spirit? Do I believe in my dreams and I back myself? If not, what limiting beliefs or fears are tripping me up? Uncover those beliefs and fears and replace them with beliefs that supports you achieve your goals.
  • Am I working hard to achieve what I want in my life or am I just drifting and hoping for the best? If so, what can I do today that will take me one step closer to achieving my dreams.

Skills, spirit and work ethic – the three elements that lead to success.

To grey or not to grey?

Photo of woman with grey hair

Image by goblinbox_

Much to my horror, the first grey hair appeared on my head in my mid-20’s.  I could have coped with a few grey hairs, but very quickly the numbers multiplied.  I was way too young to be grey but a trip to the beauty aisle of my supermarket easily rectified my problem. All was fine in my world again, apart from the hassle of having to color my hair regularly.

I’ve been coloring my hair for years now and to be honest, I’m sick of having to do it or pay for it, which must be one of the greatest rip-offs in town.

The problem I’m struggling with is I don’t feel old – except when my grand-daughter tells me that my skin is saggy!! My desire to stop coloring my hair has uncovered a fear that if I look my age, it’s all over. So at the moment I’m having to confront some beliefs and fears that I’m uncomfortable with.

First is the belief that we have to conform to other people’s expectations of what we should look like for them to accept us. I’m afraid that if I look older, people will treat me as if I’m on the scrap-heap.  Logically I completely reject this, but my need to be accepted is a strong internal driver that over-rides my logical beliefs. It’s a ridiculous fear because I know that the people who love and care for me aren’t going to suddenly reject me because my hair color changes.

This conundrum has also made me realize how much I judge others by how they look. Again, it’s a primitive response that I’m unlikely to change overnight. The ability to judge on first appearances is inherited from our caveman ancestors and is there to enable us to make instinctive decisions that might protect us.  The best I can do is to become aware of how often I judge others and hopefully being aware will enable me to start becoming more accepting of people who are different from me in some way.

Finally, I’ve realized that I’ve been buying into society’s messages that we have to look a certain way or be a certain type of person to make a difference in the world. Again, I don’t logically believe that but obviously my head and heart are out of synch.

I think the biggest lesson I’m learning from all this is how hard it is to be yourself in today’s world when the messaging and images we are bombarded with on a daily basis, focus on appearance and conformity. It has also made me realize how much we subconsciously buy into the messaging we receive.

How much of your life is controlled by what you think others will think of you? In what areas of you life do you feel free being yourself and in what areas are you struggling? I’d love to hear what from you about how you manage these fears and responses.

Please feel free to share this post with others if you think it might help them.

Where do you find magic in your life?


Photo by plays4mee

Are you the kind of person who focuses on big dreams or goals and you only feel great when you hit those ‘wow’ moments in your life? Or maybe you’re the kind of person who chugs along enjoying the present and focusing on the positive in your life right now?

We are all different and few people are totally one extreme or the other.  The thing is that none of us chooses what makes us tick – we were born that way.   Of course you need to accept who you are as a person but by being willing to stretch into the other side a little more, you can enrich your life immeasurably.

To you  dream-chasers out there –  your ambition and drive is such an amazing gift to the rest of us. You achieve things that inspire and awe us with their sheer audacity. Our world wouldn’t be the same without you. You have vision and you go after things the rest of us can’t even imagine, let alone have the courage to pursue.  You get there by hard work, focus and determination. You believe in yourself and your calling even when the chips are down and your back is up against the wall. But so often in your single-minded focus on achieving your goals or dreams, you forget about the magic that is already in your life.

You don’t notice the people who care for you and you don’t give thanks for the blessings that already exist in your life.  Take time right now to count ten ways that you are already blessed, ten bits of magic that are already in your life. Don’t put this suggestion on your to-do list so you can tick it off and focus again on your dreams. Stop for thirty minutes, perhaps go for a walk and give thanks for all you already have. Tell the people who love you how much you appreciate their support and love.  My challenge to you this week is to spend ten minutes at the end of each day listing your blessings and giving thanks for all that is good in your life that day, particularly if it isn’t related to your dreams or goals. My wish for you is that you cultivate the ability to be present in the magic of the life you already have.

To you ‘count your blessing’ types – you teach the rest of us so much about mindfulness, thankfulness and focusing on the positive no matter what is flying around. You adapt and cope with challenging situations always looking for the positive. Your ability to take what life throws at you astounds the rest of us. In your desire to find the positive, you remind us all that we can all find things to be thankful for. You uplift and inspire us all with your ‘glass half full’ approach to life. Your positivity makes the rest of us feel ungrateful or mean-spirited in comparison. But so often, your focus on finding the positive means that you rarely go after your dreams and you don’t know all you are capable of.

Remember that your dreams and desires are as valid as those of the dreamchasers. You deserve to have some ‘wow’ magic in your life too. Take time right now to think about what you wanted from your life when you were younger.  Or perhaps those dreams are still lurking in the background of your life, but you’ve put them aside so you can put the needs of others first.  Take a pen and paper and describe in great detail some of your dreams – not the dreams of others. Think about why they are/were important to you and whether you’ve lost just a little bit of yourself because you’ve abandoned them. My challenge to you is to pick up one of those dreams again. Maybe it needs to evolve because of where you find yourself now, but pick it up, taste it and imagine living it. Each day do one thing, no matter how small, that will take you closer to achieving one of your dreams. My wish for you is that you cultivate your ability to become a dreamchaser and to stretch your life beyond where its at now so you can experience the magic of those ‘wow’ moments.

Wherever you lie on the continuum, learn how to lean towards the other end and experience more magic in your life both now and in the future.

Life is one step at a time

Stepping stones

Photo By Ian Dick

This morning I caught the tube into central London where I wandered around for a bit before finding a café to write this. Four months ago I knew I’d be unemployed in April but I had no idea what I’d be doing next. What I did know was that I didn’t want to do more of the same. My job in Christchurch hadn’t worked out as I’d expected and each night I was coming home feeling frustrated and tired. The problem was that I didn’t have a clue what I really wanted to do.

I knew I loved writing and helping people create meaningful lives, which was ironic given that my life felt anything but meaningful. I decided to do what I always tell others to do in my situation – find something you love doing and find a way to start doing it.

I decided to start this blog –  for me it was a challenge doing the tech stuff at the beginning, but by taking one step at a time, I worked out how to set up a blog and myself online.  Yay.  The discipline of writing a post each week suddenly created a sense of enjoyment in my life that had been lacking – yes I still didn’t get a lot of pleasure from work, but I looked forwards to the evenings when I could write what was important to me. I didn’t know it at the time, but setting up my blog was the first step on my road to London. If you are feeling frustrated and can’t see a way forwards, start doing something you love, even if it’s for just a few hours each week.

Then I started to feel frustrated with my blog. I was writing about the things that mattered to me, but I had no idea how to connect with people who were struggling with the same stuff. I was just one very small voice in the blogosphere.  As I was scrolling round the internet trying to work out how to grow my blog, I stumbled over a podcast by a guy called Chandler Bolt who had created a course and community that supported people writing books and self-publishing on Amazon. I watched that podcast several times, telling myself it was ridiculous to think I could write a book, what did I have to say anyway and what a stupid idea the whole thing was. The problem was the stupid idea just wouldn’t go away. So I did what I always suggest to others –  listen to your heart and go for it. I joined up even though I had no idea what I was going to write. That was Step two on my road to London. Sometimes we have to trust our instincts and step out in faith even if we don’t know where we’re heading.

A few days later I came down with the flu. I went into work but by 11am I could barely stand upright. I drove home and collapsed into bed. Several hours later I woke with a phrase in my head – ‘Superhero Me.’  Even though I had a pounding head and was aching from top to toe, I found a scrap of paper and wrote those two words down. I went back to bed and slept again for another 6 hours. When I next woke, I knew I had the title for my book. That was Step 3 along the road to London. When we trust our instincts and go with the flow, the magic happens.

Over the next couple of weeks I spent time thinking about what it means to be a superhero. I got excited as I realised the concept fitted exactly what I believed in. I brainstormed a book outline and started writing. It was hard work but so satisfying. I had the sense of purpose that had been lacking during the previous two years. That was step 4 on my road to London. Putting in the hours, learning and doing the hard work will always be a requirement if you’re going to find your purpose.

By February I was coming to the end of my first draft. 150,000 words. How had I done that? Six months before I ‘d been frustrated and had no idea how to move forwards with my life and now here I was with a book almost written. Writing that book and being part of such a supportive community had given me direction. I still didn’t know what I was going to do when I my job ended, but now knew that I wanted to make the most of my life from this point on. I knew that the only way I could do this was to keep taking steps along the pathway I was on. I made the decision at that point that I’d give myself a six weeks after my job finished to complete my book and trust that the next step would open up. Deciding to put my dream to be a writer at the centre of my decision making process was Step 5 on my road to London.

A few days later my daughter rang me from London with a proposition. Would I come to London at the end of April to care for my grandchildren for six months when she went back to work after maternity leave? I’d have the children for four days, but they’d give me free board in return. I could barely believe what I was hearing.  It meant that the financial pressure would be removed for six months so that I could devote my spare time to writing without having the stress of a high pressure job to deal with. That was Step Six on my road to London where I am now. Solutions come out of left field when we least expect it if we are being true to what’s important to us.

So what are the four lessons I’ve learned along the way.

  • There is always something you can do right now to feed your soul and give you a sense of purpose no matter what is happening in your life.
  • You have to take that first step and do it.
  • One step leads to the next.
  • You cannot see where you are headed – you have to start where you are and trust the process.


4 Questions to Ask when You Feel Overwhelmed

girl screaming

Photo by Britney Bush Bollay

Do you ever feel your life has got out of control? You’re too busy, rushing from one thing to the next? Running frantically like a hamster in a wheel going nowhere?

My job ends in April  so I have to make some changes. I’ve really enjoyed living in the beautiful South Island, but I feel  its time to move on.  Which means I have just ten weeks to sort out my stuff, prepare and sell my house, organise my next steps and move on.  All this to be done in my free time.

In a vain attempt to create some order for myself I wrote a list of the things I need to do.  It already feels exceedingly lengthy and appears to grow by the hour. Last night I went to bed feeling agitated and overwhelmed by everything. I couldn’t sleep.

I’ve learned over time the only way to  get back on an even keel when I’m feeling overwhelmed is to  ask myself four questions that take me to the heart of my stress.  So last night rather than lying wide awake in bed for hours with my mind racing, I switched on the light and found a pen and paper. The 4 questions I asked myself were:

  1. How am I feeling? Answer: I’m feeling overwhelmed by everything I need to do, I dont know where to start and I feel worried and scared. I’m running on adrenalin and I don’t know how to slow down.

Many of us are afraid of our emotions. We try to manage our emotions and keep them under control. Instead we should be listening to them. Emotions are the short-cut way to understand your needs and they show you what is at the crux of any situation. Emotions are neither good or bad – they just are. Think of them as your own personal set of traffic lights. Emotions that make you feel good are like a green light. They tell you you’re on the right track while those that make you feel uncomfortable are the amber or red lights. Those emotions are warning you to slow down, to take stock of a situation or to stop everything.  Naming your emotions can bring a sense of relief and peace. Taking time to listen to your emotions is your first step because they can give you understanding if you pay attention.

  1. What am I afraid of? Answer: I’m afraid I won’t get everything done in time and that my house won’t sell at the right time or for a good price. I’m afraid I’m making a mistake and it could all go wrong.

Fear is a really useful emotion that is almost always present when you feel out of control.  It’s one of the uncomfortable emotions that tells you to slow down, pay attention or stop. Fear is an instinctive emotion that surfaces in our primitive brains anytime we’re contemplating change. You should always listen to and talk with your fear.  Acknowledge you’re feeling afraid and dig down until you understand exactly what you’re afraid of. Sometimes your fear is warning you that you’re in an unsafe or threatening situation. In those situations you need to stop what you’re doing or get out. Other times, your fear is simply responding to the changes coming up and is trying to protect you. Fear dislikes change of any sort. In those times you need to acknowledge your fear, look it in the face, hold your nerve and keep going.

3.  What can I control and what have I no control over? Answer: I have control over how I deal with my situation emotionally and I have control over getting the practical stuff done. I have limited control over how quickly my house sells or I have no control over what price it sells for.

We all like to think we have control over our lives, but the reality is we have little control over much of our lives. Our jobs can go, accidents happen, people do things we don’t expect and political decisions made on the other side of the world can create situations that indirectly impact on us. The global banking crisis of 2008 was caused by bankers milking the system to get as much money for themselves. The result is now being felt by thousands of young couples across the world who cannot get a mortgage to buy their first home. Understanding what you have control over and what you don’t will enable you to focus your attention on the things you can do to deal with your situation. Let go and stop worrying about the things you cannot change. Focus your energy and attention on the things you have control over.

  1. What is my next step?  Answer: I need to get my house ready for sale in two weeks. Everything else comes after that.

No matter what your situation, there is always something you can do. It might be a small step or it might be a giant leap. Sometimes your next step is to let go of things in the past or to make a decision about your future. Your next step might be something you do for yourself or it might be something you do for others. It might be something practical or it might be getting a better understanding about your situation. Your next step might be trying something new or doing something in a different way.  Identify next step and do it. Then you take the next step after that and then the one after that. In this way you deal with difficult situations step by step and you make changes in your life.

After asking myself these four questions, I felt my stress decrease and I felt less overwhelmed. I better understood what was happening in my head and I knew what I needed to do. Next time your life feels out of control, take a few minutes to listen to your emotions, understand what you need to let go of and what is your next step.

How do you deal with things when your life feels out of control? I’d love to hear from you – leave your ideas or feedback in the comments section below.

Is your life a lottery?

Photo of powerball tickets

Photo by Wil C. Fry

This week the biggest Powerball lottery in history was drawn in the United States with a total prize worth US$1.5 billion.  I can’t imagine that amount of money but we all know that even a small share would change a person’s life forever.

And that’s why the country went mad buying lottery tickets, even though everyone knew the odds of winning were against them. In this case, they were 292 million to 1 which meant only 3 people won the big prize, even though 1.3 million tickets were being sold every minute at the height of the ticket selling frenzy!

So why did the country go mad buying lottery tickets when everyone knew the odds were stacked  so heavily against them?  People buy tickets because for a small slot of time, they can dream of having a different future, a future that will be handed to them on a plate.  A future that doesn’t require them to do anything other than pay a small amount of money. They want to change their lives and they believe money is what they need. They are buying a dream.

We all dream of a different life, of doing some things differently, of making changes, or having other options even when we’re relatively content with life overall.  I’ve finished my first week back at work after my summer holiday and I can tell you, there were a lot of disgruntled people walking around the office wishing they were still on holiday. You probably don’t want to change everything in your life, but I’m sure if you won a significant amount of money, you’d make some changes.

For the three Americans who won, they now own a fortune and will be able to make any changes in their lives that money can buy. Their lives will never be the same again.  But for all the millions of other people who bought tickets, their dream of a different future based on a financial windfall is over.  Does that mean they can’t change things in their lives? Of course it doesn’t.

Everyone has the power to change their lives or aspects of their lives regardless of their circumstances.  That is because everyone has the power of choice – the greatest power on earth. Yes of course there may be things in your life you cannot change and you certainly cannot change the past, but you can change your future.

When you rely on a lottery to change your life, you’re pinning your hopes on something outside your control, but when you start consciously making choices about how you live your everyday life and who you want to be as a person, you regain control.

For years I felt I had little control in my life, and the truth was I didn’t because I just responded to what life threw at me.  I tried to do my best and trusted for a good outcome. I didn’t understand that I was in auto-mode going through the motions a bit like a sleepwalker hoping things worked out. I came to realise that I wasn’t a pawn in a game of cosmic chess but I was a unique individual with free choice.  That meant I could do a million things differently every day if I wanted. Well perhaps not a million, but  I realised that I lived much of my life out of habit and based on the beliefs and values of others rather than consciously choosing how I wanted to behave and live.

I came to understand I could respond differently in challenging situations and that my needs were as important as the needs of those I loved.  I could spend my free time doing the things important to me rather than always fitting in with others, I could choose who my friends were, the work I did,  I could choose what I ate and whether or not I exercised.  I could choose to create a life that was better aligned with my values and beliefs. But to do that meant I had to take responsibility and consciously make decisions every day about how I lived and responded to others.

Choosing to do things differently hasn’t been easy because it’s meant I’ve had to take the time to understand myself and my values. I’ve had to put effort into learning new skills and I’ve had to step far out of my comfort zone at times trusting my judgement rather than the advice of others. I’ve had to learn patience and the value of the journey as I’ve started crafting a meaningful life better aligned with who I was created to be. I’ve had to take responsibility for my life instead of waiting for things outside me to improve.

If you want to change your life, you can do much better than rely on the dream of a lottery win. Every day, no matter how limited your resources or how difficult your situation, you can choose your attitude and how you’re going to live your life that day. You can choose your dreams and you can choose whether you’re going to work towards them or not. Sure you’ll make mistakes and get it wrong sometimes, but choosing how you live your life every day and making changes where they’re needed is the only way to guarantee a different life in the future. Your life doesnt have to be a lottery or a game of chance.

Feel free to leave your comments below –  I’d love to hear what you think.



How to create a meaningful life in 2016?

FIreworks Sydney harbour

FIreworks Sydney harbour

A new year means a new beginning, a fresh start.  Off with the old and on with the new seems like a pragmatic approach, but is it?

In the past I’ve been guilty of focusing my attention on the upcoming year without taking time to examine the past year.  But this time I want to look backwards as well as forwards.  I want to learn from the year that’s passed instead of just carrying on blindly hoping next year will be different.  If we don’t learn from the past, how can we make changes to improve the new?

I don’t generally like looking backwards because I feel disappointed and frustrated with myself. It’s easy to be super aware of my failures, the things I didn’t do right and the things I wished I’d done differently.  But we also see where we got it right.   Our past shows us where the good stuff in our life lies and those are the places I want to put my energy in 2016.

I’ve often been passive and allowed my life to unfold according to decisions made by others, trusting that what will be, will be. I’ve always tried to respond positively to my situation but I havent always taken control and created the life I wanted.  This next year I want to do more of the things aligned to my values and to understand them,  The three questions below have helped me better understand what I want out of 2016.  I hope you find them helpful too.

  1. What has made me happy this past year? By looking at what has made you happy, you find your core values – what’s important to you.  You can be very skilled and achieve a lot but if those achievements are not aligned to your core values, they will be meaningless to you.  This year I’ve focused on writing and although it hasn’t always been great writing, the process of writing and putting my thoughts on a page has given me great pleasure.  This is something I want to put high on my priority list for 2016. Spending time with my daughters and grandchildren scattered round the globe has made me happy and this too will continue to be a top priority.  What about you?  What has made you happy this year?


  1. What have I done that makes the world a better place this past year? It’s easy to focus on ensuring your life is comfortable, but true satisfaction and meaning comes from making a difference in the world you inhabit. Understanding where you’ve made a difference also points out where you should extend your efforts in the coming year. This past year, I’ve spent time listening to and encouraging others and this is something I want to do more of in 2016.  What about you, how have you made the world a better place? Giving honestly of yourself to others is where you’ll find the greatest satisfaction and most meaning in your life.


  1. How have I changed this year? Do you want to be the same person at the end of next year as you are now? If not, you need to consciously decide to make changes in your life. The changes don’t have to be dramatic, but satisfaction comes from achievement and this comes by stretching yourself, facing challenges and overcoming fears and obstacles.  This year I’ve begun saying NO to others when what they ask doesn’t align with my needs.  You could put that down to my getting older and grumpier but I believe it’s been because I’ve started taking more control of my life. I’ve also written the first 30,000 words in the first draft of my book.  This has been very challenging, but satisfying and I’ve learned so much through the process.  I’ve started my blog and although I’m still working out how to write blogs that touch people’s lives, I’ve learned a lot particularly in the tech area. I know I will still need to learn a lot next year to publish my book.  What about you – what changes have you made in your life this year?  What challenges have you overcome and how have you grown as a person.  How will you grow next year?


As 2015 ends, take a few minutes to look back on your year.  Find find those wins, those sweet spots, the things that made you happy and you’re proud of.  Pat yourself on the back and spend some time in the next couple of days planning how to do more of those in 2016. 

Thank you for sharing this past year with me – I wish you all a very special and meaningful 2016 wherever you are.



How to give the best Christmas gift?

Christmas presentsAre you one of those super-organised people who already has a pile of bright shiny Christmas presents wrapped and ready to go under the Christmas tree?    If you are, I imagine you’re feeling quite smug right now as you watch everyone else scurrying frantically around.

Or are you one of the scurriers?  Feeling frazzled as you dash into the shopping mall between cooking mince pies and having Christmas drinks with friends?  Are you struggling to find something special for your loved ones?

Whether you’re organised or you’re a scurrier, whether you’re an adult or a child, the giving and receiving of gifts is at the heart of Christmas.

The problem is that the whole gift thing can be quite fraught.  I want my gifts to express love to my loved ones but to do that, I need to understand who they are and what’s important to them.  I know how it feels to open a gift that doesn’t relate to who I am.  The real disappointment isn’t the gift, but the fact that the giver doesn’t understand who I am or isnt really that interested.  Even though we pin a smile our faces and say Thanks, it can still really hurt.

But we all get it wrong at times?  I’ve watched someone opening a gift I’ve given them and felt awful as I’ve suddenly realised it completely misses the mark.  I’m sure you’ve had that experience too.  Sometimes I got it wrong because I was stressed and caught up in my own world and bought something without thinking about it.  At other time I couldn’t find what I was looking for and bought something just because I had to.

There is however, a gift that is never wrong and doesn’t cost money.  It costs a lot more.  That’s the gift of yourself.  I’m not talking here about running yourself ragged to meet other people’s needs, but rather about connecting with people in a way that shows you care and in a way that is honest.  Being honest means being true to yourself when you interact with others.   It means making the other person feel better because they spent time with you. It is about honestly connecting and interacting with others.

Everyone of us is each unique.  The way you make others feel special will differ from the way I or anyone else does.  Perhaps you’re a great listener, or an organiser, or a fabulous cook?  Or maybe you can make others laugh, or you’re excellent at holding and calming crying babies.  Are you an enthralling story teller or great at lending a hand in the background?

Whatever you do brilliantly, do it this Christmas when you interact with others because connecting honestly is the best gift you can give anyone.  If you do that, you can you be sure you’re giving the best present ever.

Where are the rough edges in your life? 

Photo of white tulip in field of red tulips

Photo by Sri Dhanush K

Is your life exactly how you want it or are there are gaps in what you want or changes you wish you could make?  Do you sometimes  feel like a square peg in a round hole in parts of your life?

When you feel dissatisfied, frustrated or just not right – these are the rough edges in your life.  Rough edges occur when your life or parts of your life aren’t aligned with your values.

Values include kindness, openness, ambition, glamour, curiosity, precision, family focused, creative, sense of justice, empathy, generosity, loyalty, determination, freedom and fitness.  The list is endless.

We are all born with our values hardwired within us.  You didn’t get to choose your values and neither did I.  Your values are different from your parents’ and your brothers or sisters.  Your values make you an individual and are at the core of who you are.   You can change your beliefs, but you can never change you values.  Your values are what make you unique and special.

Your values determine how you respond to everything that happens in your life and what type of life you create for yourself. For example, if security is one of your strong values, your life choices will be built around that value. Conversely if curiosity is a high value, you’ll be continually making small changes in your life because you need to be finding out about stuff.   Your particular values determine how you can best contribute to others.

Your life will be meaningful to you, only if its lived according to your values.

The problem is that each society and community within the wider society ranks values – some values are deemed to be ‘better’ than others.  For example, Japanese society regards teamwork and conformity as the best values whereas American society prefers individualism and self-reliance.  There are also gender stereotypes with cultures often considering values such as ambition and achievement as masculine values, and service and compassion as feminine values.

We all want to be accepted so we often try to display the values we think society prefers.  We downplay values that may not fit in with the people around us or our community.  When we do this we run the risk of living a life based on other people’s values, not our own.  That is where the rough edges can be found in our lives.  The rough edges are the places in our lives where we feel out of sorts and generally dissatisfied.

If you don’t understand your own values, you can easily end up in a community or a workplace where your values aren’t aligned.  For example, if organisation is a strong value for you, yet you’re working in a company which operates in an unstructured way, you’re going to feel unhappy because your values arent aligned. Contribution is a strong value of mine so the times I’ve worked in a job where I didn’t feeI was making a difference, always left me feeling angry.  The rough edges point you towards your values.

When you don’t understand your own values, you’re likely to create a life that doesnt fit you properly.   For example, if creativity is one of your strong values, but you never have time to be creative, you’ll feel like you’re dying inside.  If inner harmony is one of your strong values, but you never make time at home to be on your own, this will create a rough edge in your life.  If openness is one of your values, yet your partner values self-reliance and won’t share what he’s feeling, the clash of values will cause strife for both of you.

Take a few minutes to look for the rough edges in your life.  Where are you dissatisfied or frustrated?   What are the things that upset you?

Ask yourself which of your values is being ignored.  Understanding yourself is the first step along the road to making changes, small or big, that create a life full of meaning and satisfaction.

If this has been helpful or you have something to add to this discussion, please leave your comments.  I’d love to hear from you.