Monday, 29 November 2010

Woolly hats and functional fitness

Well, it has been a while since I posted a blog. I have no excuse for my silence; my absence.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions they say. But in this case I doubt that I am much further down that road, since I have not had any intentions to post a blog at all. 

So, no, unlike a couple of months ago when not posting disappointed me, it is not a case of hoping to blog and letting myself down. Clearly I have adjusted my expectations down - the secret of a happy life - after all. 

No, I have simply not had a lot to say - which for me is somewhat surprising. I admit that I have had a lot to say in my off-line life though. Perhaps the secret of blogging success is a rare and enticing blend of no mates (no offence keen bloggers - I speak only for myself), time and ideas, coupled with motivation and a desire to express something.

In any case, rather than labour the point I will just say that sometimes one wants to blog and sometimes one does not. I am aware that my little blog audience may have abandoned me during this time. I may have to build back up from scratch again. Oh well... Live and learn.

So what's been happening?

I have been keeping out of trouble in a few ways. Promoting my play based communication coaching initiative for children in a variety of local schools has perhaps been the highlight. Though keeping an eye on adult learning and development roles in-house and sending my cv to recruiters in the hope of persuading them that my unconventional background - tax lawyer, turned author and leadership, engagement (not marital but psychological, though I do address engaged couple coaching in my book) and communication coach is a great combination for a learning facilitator and not a volatile and potentially devastating mix of bossy, anal, control freak meets boring, nerd-like, number cruncher who finds reading tax law interesting, is quite a laugh as well. 

Then there is running the PTA at the Off-Springs' school which is never dull. I have delighted myself by creating the most gorgeous, colourful calendar featuring pictures and snippets of the story from my e-book "Tess and the Seaside Girl" (every home should have a couple) and managed - without trying to - to sell a further 50 copies of "Spring to Mind" via my publisher's distribution channels. This is very exciting because that means that a quarter of all my sales came this past month without a second's effort from me. Finally all of these fun pursuits have been fit in around the gym and domestic jobs and parenting, of course. Apart from the surprise book sales I seem to keep very busy making no money whatsoever. I need to monetise this PTA thing somehow...

The upshot of all of that blatant self-promotion is that I have learn loads of new things.

So as I am conscious that I may have lost your interest over the past month, and am eager now to regain it - quickly and decisively - I will share only the "best" parts of this recent learning with you. Forgive me if this is all old hat for you.

1. I discovered while shopping for photocopier paper for the school PTA newsletter in a paper shop, that Katy Perry sings yet another one of those catchy tunes that are always on the radio. Between the "shut up... that's what you get for waking up in Vegas", "you're a firework" and "livin' a teenage dream" - I really feel that this girl is a kindred spirit.

I honestly feel that I am living a youngish middle aged person's dream (more on that next time), am quite a firecracker and often wake up with an early onset Alzheimers sense that I may have lost some of the previous night. I really need to get more sleep...

2. Despite the really cold weather here in London this past week - daytime highs of 1 degree Celcius - I am toasty and snug when out and about. The secret? A woolly hat! Also one of those duvet/doona/parker jackets. I am amazed that I have endured 13 winters in the UK without taking these steps before this. Me, the big hat wearer of yesteryear would not buy a hat for fear fo winter hat head. Just shows you how a significant birthday and overcommitting oneself can force one to embrace a common sense approach to weathering the cold.

3. Wearing my hair out/down (never happens) and "big" a la Cheryl Cole in a big breeze, with plenty of eye make-up around the normally sunken and dull peepers, can make one feel and look young and vital. Indeed - a bit like Cheryl herself.  You see, I hosted the school fundraising Bingo Night last weekend dolled up and in character as Trinny Knowall (Woodall) of Trinny and Susannah - of "What Not to Wear" fame. The occasional, only very odd glimmer of self doubt in the preceding week, that perhaps I was going to crash and burn, ensured that I was well prepared, looking the part and primed with comic and cutting repartee - snowflake sweaters and fetching hairstyles among the parents giving me plenty to work with, admittedly.

The night was a success - I had a blast and several parents and staff reported they also enjoyed themselves. All of this while feeling young and vital due to said hair and make-up.

This leads to interesting discovery number 3:

3. If I enjoy myself I really don't feel bad if others don't (this is in the context of a party, not in life per se). I mean, I want them to have fun and be happy, but I feel no responsibility for their enjoyment. This is very liberating. As a result I am thinking that Dame Edna Everage might need to pop her head in and do a turn as host at the next fundraiser...

4. Positive mindsets bring out the best in people. Literally. I see this with the parents at school, people one smiles at in the course of day-to-day life and in children, increasingly. Children are the richest source of learning. The scope they have to be inquisitive and engaged and excited about the world they inhabit is amazing - if they feel listened to and valued. The way they come alive and thrive in circumstances where they have the freedom to express themselves and move and interact with each other is amazing. It's like watering a plant. It seems obvious. Yet the tedium, the chores, the rushing to get things done, the tests, the keeping up standards, the arriving on time and the homework, can cloud that clarity. Hence, my renewed commitment this past month to getting Play on Words Communication Coaching front and centre of my own commercial and business agenda. 

5. Pushing back is a good strategy. We should play to our strengths and be valued for what we do well and can contribute with ease and aplomb, rather than apologise for not being things we are not. How can we twist ourselves into shapes we could never be?

6. Sometimes people live in bubbles - thick, impenetrable and opaque bubble. 724 newsletters, 496 emails and 298 signs on the school gate and still parents say they did not know "such and such" was happening at school. Skywriters, radio announcements, billboards, clowns, mime artists? What would it take to reach them?

Nothing. Stop trying.

And when you do.... They suddenly get it. 

7. At the gym when they rave on about "functional strength" they really know what they are talking about. All those classes where several muscle groups are worked in combination are amazing for overall fitness. The difference between fit and functionally fit is quite startling. The latter means fit for life - for broken elevators and literally chasing children up steep hills and squatting for minutes on end to tie shoelaces and wipe tears and pick up after them... It is treading water for hours not minutes and carrying bag upon bag of groceries home.

8. In the words of my amazing sister when she began her career as a social worker, Eleanor Rooselvelt and a Chinese Proverb as well, it is indeed better to light a candle than curse the darkness. 

So I leave you with that thought - light some candles - even if no one else wants to, even if cursing the darkness is easier or more popular, even if your fingers get a little bit burnt. The winter is cold and dark enough.

Oh and buy a good hat!


  1. Wonderful! You have such a gift with words! And, as a fellow PTA president, I hear you, sister!

  2. thanks K. they hate the new ideas and then seem amazed when they work!