Gratitude Is A Magic Marker

Gratitude Is A Magic Marker

I am learning that gratitude is a  magic marker pen that allows us to draw a beautiful new life.  On the opposite end of the pen is a transformative eraser, that reframes our problems into possibilities, creating a life that we can learn  to love via the gift of gratitude..

While I was away in England recently, I bought a number of books including  The Magic, by Rhonda Byrne. I promised myself that when I got back, I would do the 28 Day Gratitude  Journey and see where it took me.  It has been a fascinating experience and I wanted to share with you, a little of what I have discovered.

I have the most incredibly amazing life and you may think that I say this because I live close to a beach and I live in Florida. Actually I rarely go to the beach and Florida weather is still too hot for me in the summer. My amazing life is much more than that. It is people, relationships, experiences and  opportunities. Most of all my amazing life is what is in between my ears, what I think, feel and believe.

The huge transformation has been getting things into perspective. The month has not been perfect. There have been things that have not gone my way and there have been some frustrations and disappointments. Yet focusing on gratitude has meant the way I thought about those things have changed.

Ten Blessings

The primary exercise that had to be done every day, was to choose ten blessings, write them down and write why you were grateful for them.  Then  to read them out loud, saying thank you, thank you, thank you, after each one.  There were some days where I didn’t feel like doing the exercise straight away, and yet most days I gave it my priority and was able to find the 10 things I was grateful for without any problem.

My Magic Rock
One of my favorite parts  was the daily ‘magic rock’ exercise. This required me to find a rock, keep it by my bedside and before I went to sleep give gratitude for the BEST thing that happened that day, The fabulous thing about this was how rare it was that I couldn’t easily think of something.  The hardest part was to choose just one thing. What a great problem to have!

Each day had a new and different gratitude exercise and some of them had a huge impact one me.

NLP Life Coaching Gratitude

Magical Mistakes

One exercise was to transform a mistake into a blessing. The process was to think of  a mistake and find 10 blessings from it. As soon as I read  the page, the mistake I knew would come, presented itself. I tried to push it down. The mistake was a past situation that was filled with unforgiveness, pain and shame and I didn’t want to deal with it.  I sat and tried to think of another mistake that I could work on, something easier.  My mind was blank. No matter how much I tried, the only thing I could come up with was the one thing that I wanted to keep buried. The unconscious mind is funny like that. When we are ready, it presents memories for us to deal with, and only when we are ready.  I began thinking about the memory and became quite emotional. I did some EFT Tapping, cleared the emotions and found the ten blessings. I was then able to think about the issue without feeling upset for the first time.

I highly recommend doing The Magic or some other gratitude exercise, it has helped me to have an amazing month. I am continuing to practice gratitude and my whole outlook has continued to improve.

And of course, if you are reading this, I am incredibly grateful for you. Please comment and let me know what gratitude practices you recommend.

If you are interested in buying the book and choose to buy from Amazon, please use the affiliate link below and I will get a small percentage. Thank you.


10 Tips To Change A Habit

We develop habits over time and before we know it they can become a part of our life that we have a hard time changing. Each person’s habit is different and the only definition of a bad one is that you no longer want to do it.  Whether it be smoking, decluttering, unhealthy eating, or any habit that you  would prefer not to have. In this post I will share how I have recently worked on changing a habit and offer tips so you can change an old habit and develop a new one.

In the past few weeks I recognized that I had got into the habit of snacking and eat a lot of food that was not any use nutritionally. I have no issue with eating ice cream, donuts or chips every now and then, yet I was skipping meals and then grabbing the closet thing at hand. I decided that the only way to fix it was to work on changing the habit.

This last weekend I made a meal plan for the first three days of this week and I also filled the fridge with fruit and healthy snacks and made a huge fruit salad, ready to eat when I got an urge for something sweet.

So far this week I have not ransacked the cupboard for chips or chocolate and have eaten a breakfast and dinner every day. I have learned that making it easy is the way forward.

Here are some suggestions for changing any habit

  1. Have a positive plan. Instead of focussing on cutting out snacks, I planned to have good food readily available.
  2. Don’t be too strict. I have some cupcakes that I made previously and froze, if I feel the need for some sugar I am totally ok having one.
  3. Make it fun. On Sunday while preparing the food I watched YouTube videos and kept myself entertained.
  4. Get inspired. Read a book or magazine or watch a video on the issue. I also had some serious tidying to do. A few episodes of Hoarders usually gets me moving in the right direction. Or re-reading Mari Kondo’s book on The Magic Of Tidying Up.
  5. A setback is just that. Habits take time to change, its not until they become an unconscious choice that they are really a habit. Give yourself a break if change doesn’t happen immediately.
  6. If you don’t like it, you probably wont do it. Choose a new habit that you can actually see yourself doing.  Deciding you are going to replace donuts with kale smoothies if you don’t like kale is unlikely to develop a lasting habit.
  7. Join with someone else, my habit of running works because of my running buddy, Having an accountability partner or team makes it harder to not show up.
  8. Visualize how you want to look, feel or what the end result will be from your change in habit. See my Youtube Channel for easy to follow techniques. Video Visualization Technique
  9. Keep going, small steps, lead to big changes.
  10. Look at the reward you are searching for that created the habit Watch this short video and consider reading Charles Duhigg’s book that is referenced, The Power of Habit Video How To Break Habits

Let me know what habits you have changed and what has worked for you the comments.

Bragging or Bitching?

Are you generally bragging or bitching? or to put it more politely are you focusing on the positive or the negative? Which are you guilty of?  Most people fall into one of two camps.

Either you delight in showing us your vacation photos, your new car, running stats, fancy dinner, children’s masterpiece and graduation videos.

Or are you moaning about your job, politics, your neighbor, traffic, the weather, maybe even your spouse.

If you believe as I do that we get what we focus on, then you would be better to stick with the bragging. If  you do it with a grateful heart and a desire to share your good fortune then you have more chance of attracting more good things.

When we constantly complain that life sucks then it will continue to do so. When we practice gratitude acknowledge it things almost magically seem to get better.

Another upside is that people like being around positive people so you are more likely to hang on to your friends.

I am going to do a mind read and say that this post is going to annoy some of you. I know this because not too long ago, when I fell more into the bitching camp and it would have annoyed me too.  It can be hard seeing other people happy when we are feeling miserable, yet if we don’t work on our mindset nothing will change.

If you need to get better at focusing on the positive, try my easy gratitude affirmation Gratitude Video

“A positive change has never been a result of worrying, complaining and making excuses instead of focusing on manifesting your true destiny.”  ― Edmond Mbiaka

How Our Canoe Trip Became Couples Therapy

When I agreed to spend a hot summer weekend away, with my husband and some of his Army buddies. I didn’t expect it to turn into a couples therapy session. It was sold to me as a relaxing canoe trip. We would take in the sun, have a few drinks along the way and then camp on a sandbank. We would then row back down the river the next day. I was assured I would not be required to do any work harder than cracking open a cold one.

The reality.  The river was barely a trickle in parts due to a dry season and  there were lots of felled trees from a recent hurricane, causing obstructions in the shallow water. We constantly needed to get out and drag the boat until we were clear of the debris. The promise of a relaxing float down a lazy river disappeared. I had no choice but to take up the oars and row. After a few hours we were  exhausted and hot.

I was rowing at the front and working pretty hard at it. My husband suddenly declared that I was making barely any difference and he was tired of doing all the work. I knew how hard I had been rowing so I decided to prove a point. I pulled my oars back in the canoe folded my arms and waited. Within minutes the canoe was spinning in circles and then we hit the riverbank. I had to stifle my laughter as  it became clear that I had indeed been making a difference after all. After disentangling himself from the weeds, my penitent husband swallowed his pride and asked if I would please help.  We  were soon back on track and able to enjoy the rest of the weekend. We  recognized that we both needed to work together to get where we were going and finally relax.

Relationships require  listening to each other and working together especially when the going gets tough. We still laugh about how our canoe trip  turned into a marriage therapy session. Thankfully  our weekend was saved by recognizing the problem early on, dealing with it and moving on.

How do you resolve your differences? I would love to hear your stories of unusual ways you have discovered to improve your relationship.

Learn To Say No Like Pete

One of my closest friends is an expert on saying no. He’s famous for in our small circle of friends, if we don’t want to do something we refer to it as “Pulling a Pete”.

Pete is a warm, friendly and smart guy who I am proud to call my friend. He is however unusual in the way he goes about things. When asked to do something, he is able to take the emotion out of a situation and think pragmatically about his response.

The first time I became aware of his ‘superpower’ was when we were about to move house. I asked if he would help us with the move. Pete’s response came in the form of a question, “Do you have money to pay for someone to move you? When I responded that we did, he said well then you should pay someone to do it like I did.  I was at first taken aback at his response, yet the more I considered it the more I realized that it was perfectly reasonable. Pete had recently paid professionals a  lot of money to move his household items and then we asked him to use his weekend to do it for us  so we could save money. To be clear I have helped people to move who have not had the money or who just needed a bit of help, but if we are talking a whole house move, is it reasonable to ask someone else to do it for you? What else is it ok to say no to?

Would you ask your friends to clean your house, drive you to work or do your laundry, probably not. I am not saying we shouldn’t do nice things for our friends. Though once someone says no, shouldn’t we respect that decision and not demand an explanation or a reason?

I met up with Pete last week while I was back in England and learned of his most recent ‘No’. He and his wife were dining in a very crowded pub when a couple came and asked if he would mind if they shared their table.  Pete said yes he would mind. As most British people would die rather than be embarrassed in such a way, this was a bold move. The potential diners asked why not and Pete explained that he simply wanted to share a private lunch with his wife. The man decided they would sit there anyway and a period of awkwardness followed. I can assure you I would not have dared do that. Here in the US it would be an unusual request but in England it is not uncommon for people to share a table with strangers if it the restaurant is busy,

When we were kids I remember my Mum being terrified to receive a ‘chain letter’, these  horribly insidious things preyed on superstition. The letter threatened if you didn’t copy out and mail the letter to 20 more people, nasty things would befall your family. People were so afraid of these letter that they would go to the expense and time to  follow the instructions in order not to break the chain. These days the chain letter has been replaced with the pressure to share posts on social media. I still mostly say no. I won’t share a clickbait post  to prove, I love my sister,  have the best kid or support your charity, unless I want to that is. I am not afraid to say no and yet still there are times when I wonder. What would Pete do?

If you say yes because you are afraid to say no, and end up being resentful, won’t that ultimately have a more detrimental effect on the relationship than saying no in the first place?

So what can we do?

Don’t stop asking. The more we ask and understand that it is ok to be told no, the more, we get used to the feeling. A no is not a rejection of you, just the request.

Say no and don’t feel you have to give a reason. Last night I asked my husband if he wanted to go see Dolly Parton in concert, he said “Hell No” there was no excuse or reason offered.

Some of my favorite people say no to me all the time. How would I know they don’t want to go to the opera, environmental seminar or any of the new therapeutic experiences I want to experience if I didn’t ask. Oh and  I definitely want to to go the new flotation tank that’s just opened if anyone is interested?

Back to  Pete. There are many things he says yes to. Yes to driving to a  hospital in a different town to collect me l after I had  major surgery. Yes to transporting all of the leftover food after my 40th birthday party in the early hours of the morning. Yes to showing up to every event I plan when I go back to visit the  UK.

If we say no to the things we really don’t want to to do, we have space for the things we do. Our relationships are more honest and respectful and we don’t have to feel awkward or uncomfortable.

I would love to hear your thoughts. What do you struggle to say no to?

How to say no
Pete and a ridiculously massive naan bread at our recent dinner.

If you need further help saying no try my easy Tapping technique. Tapping Video

Are You Ready For Change?

Most of the people I meet who are in need of help are not desperately unhappy. They have simply reached a point where they are ready to make a change. Finally ready to work on the one thing that is between them and the life they want. Sometimes it’s about breaking a habit or thinking about things in a different way. Whether  creating a career goal, making a change in health and fitness or finally letting go of a fear, actually making a decision is powerful.

The exciting thing about working with clients is seeing  them  reach out for success and being part of that journey. The single act of going to see someone and laying out your challenge, is a signal to the unconscious mind that you are ready.  Change often begins to take place before the first appointment.

When you are ready for change it is entirely possible. All those self help programs, books and classes that people take, they really do work. Though of course you must take them off the shelf and then put the into practice. I am constantly meeting successful people and discovering their secret is no real secret they make a decision and do the hard work.

If  you step out of your normal zone of operation and make a real decision to change. In a short space of time, you will find that you gain momentum. You will change and everything will begin to look better.

I was a late starter. Got my degree in my late twenties and didn’t even learn to drive until I was 33. I was often negative, limited my abilities and made excuse for many years. Do I have regrets? Absolutely, though I don’t regret the learning I have received through every experience, I could have been a lot further on if I had learned how to let go of my fears and discovered there is always another way.

In the movie the Matrix Morpheus gives Neo the following choice:

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.

Ready for change

I finally chose the red pill. Wonderland was fun for awhile,  it’s harder than before and yet I enjoy delving further into the rabbit hole. Once you become aware that there is a life outside your comfort zone, there is no turning back.

Your turn?

Politics Is Getting Personal

I was once a singer in a band, playing social clubs in Northern England. At a gig in a small mining town, sections of the audience would not speak to each other. They had previously been on opposing sides of a strike. I presumed it was a dispute that had happened recently.  I later learned that the strike they were divided over had happened many decades before.

Some of Uk Brexit Remain European Unionmy friends in the UK are getting hot under the collar as they prepare to vote in a referendum to decide whether to leave the European Union. My friends in the US are arguing about the potential US president.  On social media debates are raging  about the best or worst ways to rear children, the food we eat, the beliefs we hold,  sexuality and sexual identity even the holy book we do or don’t believe in.

Our response to politics is often  based in emotions rather than facts. We are heavily influenced by confirmation bias. I have always been very political and used to spend a lot of time being very angry. I am working on myself and  learning to let go of some of the emotions and step back from arguments. Of course I don’t always get it right. There are some political positions I will never understand, no matter how enlightened I become.

It is worth asking yourself  is everything you believe from one newspaper, one Church, one news channel or one group of friends? If so, there is a really good chance you are not seeing the whole picture.

Whatever you  believe sometimes it’s better to leave politics alone and agree not to talk about it. Our actions speak better than our words.  People rarely change their minds based on a rant or a Facebook post.   Let’s be our best selves and be kind.

Are Limiting Beliefs Killing Your Success?

I regularly meet people who are talented and smart, yet are held back by their limiting beliefs. The beliefs may have been handed down from their parents. What you learned in the home at an early age has a strong impact on you. If you think you have completely rejected the values of  your parents or wider community, you would be wrong.

My parents grew up during World War 2 often in poverty. They believed that any job is better than none and once you have one you should stick with it.   As a teenager I briefly worked in a factory, bottling sauces. It was possibly the most miserable three days of my life. On day two, I told my employer I was quitting. My dad was horrified and confused. The pay was good, so why should I care what the work was like?  I  decided I would not do a job that made me unhappy no matter how much I was paid. I’ve broken that rule occasionally, yet generally I have worked on being happy rather than wealthy. See what I did there? The programming I absorbed led me to belief that it was either happiness  or money, not both.

My dad began his work-life in his early teens and worked until his body was damaged by the toxic  work environment and forced to take early retirement. He had just one job for the whole of his life.  It took me a long time to shake off the belief that we must work hard without question, whether we are  happy and fulfilled or not.

Our Values

Our limiting beliefs seep in at an unconscious level and become part of our values. The unconscious mind has a duty to protect us.  It does this by helping us avoid situations where we may experience pain or emotional distress. For example, if you are brought up to believe that business is risky, you may have a great business idea and consider following your dreams. You then find you are being blocked, putting up your own barriers not realizing that it is your unconscious doing its job.  Similarly with relationships. If you have been constantly told of the pitfalls of romantic love, you may find yourself sabotaging every relationship.

What can we do?

The first step is to recognize the patterns of behavior. Listen to your language, your self talk.  Pay attention to your responses to suggestions or requests from others.  If you are constantly saying “I can’t”, or if you are saying no to things, ask yourself, why? What is the emotion that is present? Look at your family, how do they do things? It is not easy at first, yet once you see the patterns it becomes easier to recognize.  From then it is a process of continually challenging your own old belief systems.

Recognize Your Limiting Beliefs

Look for phrases like the following:

I’m not good enough
I will never be good at this.
I’ve always been hopeless at…
No one like me can be successful.
No one in my family ever has…
I’m not smart enough
I’m too fat, thin,tall, skinny, introverted, scruffy, shy…

All of those beliefs were born out of limiting decisions that were made a long time ago, before you had conscious awareness. You may have overheard and absorbed them and they become your values. You have spent your life living the script that you were given. If you want to create a new one it is necessary to recognize, reject and replace the old one.  You have to consistently do the work, it is not a one time deal.

When I work with clients I use powerful techniques that have great results, but they are just the  beginning. Time Empowerment helps let go of anger, sadness, fear, guilt and other negative and damaging emotions, it also allows us to dig deep and discover and then let go of limiting beliefs.

Fear Of Failure

I was surprised to find how much fear I  had. I see myself as very different from my parents and yet when I went through the emotional release process, I discovered that even if I may consciously disagree with some of their  values, I had nevertheless unconsciously adopted them.  Even though I wanted to start a business it was a big battle to let go of the old beliefs about playing safe. I still have to quieten the old voices that pop up every now and again to tell me to go and get a proper job.

Time For An Audit

This is not a blame game, everyone is doing the best they can with what they have and what they understand. The way your parents believe and behave may be perfectly acceptable and useful for them. Yet it may not serve you. If you are not getting the results you feel you should in any area of your life, maybe it’s time for an audit of your beliefs.

Golf Is All About Mindset

Mindset is a huge subject among those who are successful, whether in business, sports or entertainment. Though not a golfer I am particularly  fascinated by how mindset is integral to the game even though the player may not be aware of it.

On a recent family vacation, I accompanied some of the guys on a golfing trip so I could see the game up close and personal. My cousin in-law Darryl (pictured) showed me how to hold a club and talked me through the game. As I accompanied the players, I didn’t need to watch for long to see that Darryl had an issue when it came to water. As he approached a shot that was anywhere near the lakes or ponds on the course, he would comment on the fact that he often hit the ball into the water.  And that is exactly what happened, this is not because he wanted it to, and not because of his technique. He had unconsciously trained himself to do it, the expectation was set up before the club went near the ball.

Darryl showing me how to hold a really big club

It is a very common experience in golf and other sports.  In his excellent book, Zen Golf, Dr. Joseph Parent explains;

“Golfers  have a negative attitude about themselves after hitting a ball in the place they hoped to avoid. They feel incompetent, I turn the tables on them by telling them how incredibly skilled they must be to be able to mis-hit a shot so precisely that it goes exactly where they pictured it.”

So let us explore how we can get the results we want rather than the ones we don’t. Learning  that we  get what we focus on is vital.  Focusing on the positive is not just a fluffy self-help technique. Our language and thought process is critical to our success. If I tell you “Don’t think about donuts”, you will think about… you got it donuts. if you say “I don’t want to hit the ball in the water” the unconscious mind does not process the negative, it doesn’t hear the ‘don’t’ it hears “I want to hit the ball in the water.” Have you ever been running  late? and said  to yourself I can’t be late, or I don’t want to be late, I mustn’t be late? only to find that everything seems to conspire to make you even later? The unconscious filters out those negative words.  When we think about what we don’t want we are actually focussing on the negative and inadvertently creating our own failure. So what can we do to rectify this? It may be that there are some underlying fears that need to be released first, this can be done by a number of different techniques.

Quietening the mind with meditation can be helpful. You may have never tried meditation, however it can be as simple as sitting quietly without distraction for a few minutes and focusing on your breathing or taking a walk and counting your steps without thinking about anything. .

Tapping Techniques are an easy way of releasing negative emotions. I have lots of free ‘how to’ videos on my YouTube Channel so you can learn the steps.

Looking after your health is important which includes  getting enough sleep, hydration and good food.

Affirmations may seem a bit strange though lots of people find them really useful. You could try looking in the mirror and say to yourself.

I am relaxed and ready to play my best game ever.
I am focussed and prepared to play well.
Or whatever words make sense to you.

Be very aware of negative self talk, think carefully about the words you use about yourself.  Imagine if you were a  coach, would it be helpful to say the type of stuff you have been repeating in your head? Phrases such as;

You really are not very good at this?
You spent all that money on equipment and you still suck.
Wow that was your worst shot ever!
All of your friends are better at this than you.
You may as well just give up.

Of course you would fire a coach who spoke to you like that that so focus on being a more helpful and positive coach to yourself.

Anchoring techniques are widely used particularly by sports people, a positive feeling is ‘anchored’ to the body and you can then get access that feeling at any time. Learn an easy anchoring technique here.

As I mentioned many sports and business people use visualization techniques along with powerful anchors to get them in the correct state or mindset. A well know Australian study found that participants  visualizing  taking  basketball shots for a 4 week period had almost the same improvement as those actually practicing basketball.  Some people say they find it hard to visualize and yet if I ask you to think about eating your favorite food,  your wedding day or a vacation, you would likely be able to get an image in your mind.  Although it’s called visualization, you may just get the feelings or sounds associated with the outcome you want. However you visualize that works for you is fine. Just think about what you want to achieve, if it was golf you might imagine a golfer that you admire and imagine yourself as if you had stepped into their body and you are hitting the shots as they would. Visualization Video

I hope you give some of these ideas a try and let me know what techniques work for you in the comments.

Quotes About Visualization and Mindset

“I have been visualizing myself every night for the past four years standing on the podium having the gold placed around my neck.”
Megan Quann – Swimming

“Visualization lets you concentrate on all the positive aspects of your game.” Curtis Strange on golf visualization

“Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.” – Laird Hamilton

Zen Golf:Mastering The Metal Game, Dr. Joseph Parent. Published by DoubleDay A Division of Random House ,2002.