Passion is contagious…in a good way

Of course, I couldn’t let today pass without giving a nod to Valentine’s Day!  And if there’s one thing more attractive than a good heart, it’s an active and engaged brain.

Our brain needs new connections, literally, to keep functioning.  It also needs to keep connecting to the world and learning new stuff to keep growing and thriving.  And having a positive curiosity about the world and people, also helps to keep us young.

Getting curious and being open to new experiences can bring about all sorts of opportunities we might not even have considered.  Have you ever put off doing something, such as trying a new food, because you didn’t think you’d like it, but it turns out that actually, you do (hello olives!!).  Or have you avoided speaking to certain people who you didn’t hit it off with initially, only to later find out we actually have a lot in common.

Our tastes and likes change over time, so if we’re stuck in thinking about what (or who) we liked years ago, we could be blocking out all sorts of magical things.

Be open, stay curious.  Life might just surprise you!

 

 

Photo credit:   Kashawn Hernandez via Unsplash.com

From little acorns…

From little acorns….

So, how’s January going? Whether you started the year with big intentions or are still easing yourself in gently, it’s all good.

An hour is made up of minutes. A week is made up of days. A year is made up of months.

Everything starts out in one place, and then develops into something else. Nothing gets from here to there in a second (ok, maybe a MotoGP bike!).

All of the separate elements come together to make something bigger, but each element also stands on its own merit.

A simple acorn is a beautiful thing in its own right…cute as a button, with it’s own little hat. Even if it did nothing but exist in this state, we could still appreciate it. But knowing what we know about the majestic oak that it’s destined to be, all proud and mighty, just adds to the wonder of it.

Every dream, goal, or little acorn, holds the key ingredient to turn one little thing into something even more wonderful…potential.

Photo credit: Eriks Abzinovs @pixworthmedia via Unsplash.com

Are you holding yourself accountable?

Consistency is key…but accountability is not far behind, surely?

We’ve reached that stage in any ‘normal’ January where the promises and goals of the New Year might be starting to slip.  (Disclaimer: This year it’s ok if things have gone a little bit awol!)

But some form of monitoring needs to happen if we want to see improvements and instigate the changes that got us motivated to begin with.   We can get caught up in the planning, and list making, and daydreaming about how productive we’re going to be this week, and then life happens.

There is no bigger regret than the things we didn’t do, and it is really easy to let other stuff take priority.  I’ll catch up next week…next month…I’ll leave it until the better weather…. Sound familiar? Me too.

Yes we need to be a bit more kind to ourselves right now.  But being kind also means holding ourselves to account every now and then, and having a bit of a pep talk with ourselves.  Remember why you started, remember what you’re doing this for.

Make a diary note or appointment to catch up with yourself along the way.  And write your “reasons why I’m doing this” next to it.   Just in case you start to forget!

 

And how awesome is this image btw!?!  Photo credit to Marten Newhall @laughayette via Unsplash.com

The Art of Daydreaming

I seem to have a lot more time now to stare out of a window. Is it a lockdown thing? Or an age thing? I’m not sure.   Hopefully looking outwards to find inner inspiration, and sometimes even finding it!

When you were at school, did you ever get told off for staring out of the window, or daydreaming?  Were you ever called “dilly daydream”?  I think I was, more than once. Curtly brought back to reality, or forced to focus on what was being said.  Brought back down to earth, creativity stifled.

Daydreaming, or what psychologists like to call “anticipatory thinking” can in fact be a good thing.  It allows the brain some breathing space to process, ponder and imagine.  It enables us to make sense of new or novel ideas,  and it helps us to create a possible future through our dreams and visions.

For anyone wishing to make changes to their lives, or reach a specific goal, daydreaming can provide the visualisation needed to cement those ideas into our consciousness, and help make them a reality.  If we can see a potential future in our minds eye, it becomes more real and realistic that we can actually achieve it.

Daydreams also contain the quiet whispers (sometimes not so quiet!) of something that we secretly want to achieve, but have yet to give life to.  It could be a career change or yearning to travel.   Ok, so maybe you won’t make it as a professional footballer…but you might want to consider taking a coaching course.  Or instead of singing on a West End stage, you could try some amateur dramatics or open mic nights.

If you have a recurring idea or dream, no matter how fantastical it might seem, listen to it.  It might contain the clue to something that would really make your heart sing.

Photo credit: Alexander Solodukhin @solodfoto via Unsplash

Is procrastination really the thief of time?

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I happened to notice that today is “Fight Procrastination Day”.  That’s a great topic for a post I thought…if only I could get round to writing something.  I jest of course!

But it did get me thinking – has procrastination become a bad word?  The idea of nominating a day in which we all dress up as superheroes to wrestle with our wandering minds and distractions left me a bit confused.  It’s like when you were a child at school and were told to stop staring out of the window and daydreaming (that’s a whole other blog post!).

Procrastination is often seen as coping mechanism which we use to avoid (consciously or unconsciously) events or actions which we perceive to be challenging.  We’ve all experienced it – knowing we need to make an important phone call but we keep putting it off, or needing to meet a deadline but we can’t get started.  Often it is because we are focussing on the possible outcomes and we start to project our fears onto how it may play out…what if I give my opinion and they don’t like it, what if I submit this work and it’s not good enough.  It can become problematic when we repeatedly avoid or delay situations by giving in to those fears.  It can affect how other people view us, and it also leads to greater frustration and doubt within ourselves.

But I also think that procrastination can be helpful. It’s like having an inner alarm that sounds when we are about to do something new, and makes us that little bit more cautious.  When we have something that is really important to us, taking that pause to think about what we are going to do, and considering it’s possible implications can be a good thing.  Listening to those fears can highlight where we need to do a little more preparation or learning, which can in turn increase our confidence.  It can stop us going gung-ho into situations and not giving it our best attention or efforts.  And it can also help flag up when we are getting into something that we might not be entirely on board with.  Often in these fast paced times, we do things on autopilot, and have little time to sit and reflect and think, actually is this job/relationship/whatever making me happy?

Whoever said ‘procrastination is the thief of time’ may well have been on to something…but spending time on something which isn’t truly meant for you, can be equally as wasted.

Photo credit:  TK Hammonds via Unsplash

Top 10 Tips for Getting Back Into A Healthy Routine

Preparing to head back to work and worried about how you will fit back into the 9-5 pattern after living a ‘free and easy’ routine?

Here are some tips to help with planning your week (and playtime!) that will help to reduce the overwhelm.  This may also be helpful for the young people in your life as they try to adjust to ‘the new norm’ at school or college, so feel free to share!

 

1. Set a morning affirmation – setting your intention for the day can help you to focus on the most pressing item on the agenda. Think about what you want to get out of today, or what you want to have achieved by the time you get into bed tonight.


2. Take a proper lunch break – if you have a lot to catch up on, or are raring to get back in the saddle, you may be tempted to get stuck in but you will end up feeling overwhelmed or burned out. Taking a break to get some fresh air and proper sustenance can help to keep you productive throughout the day.


3. Get outdoors and try some form of exercise to get the endorphins going. Taking time to clear the mind and get the body moving can help to reduce stress, and it can also be good thinking time if you need to mull over a few ideas.


4. Switch off properly – as you start to wind down at the end of the day, try to attend to one thing at a time, don’t scroll and watch, and put your phone on charge in another room so you don’t get distracted (disclaimer: I need to take my own advice on this one, as I use my phone for an alarm clock!!)


5. Connect – keep up with the really important things and goings-on and try not to dwell on the negative news or gossip. Consider taking a social media break at least one day a week or even a weekend.

 

6. Plan your escape – when things are getting hectic, try to have things to look forward to for the weekends or time off – even just a day out can lift your spirits, or try some holiday dreaming. Sometimes the planning can be just as rewarding.


7. Plan your escape Part II – if you are really not enjoying being back and feel ready for a more significant change, make a plan of things that will stretch or challenge you. Maybe investigate some new courses or career change ideas, or perhaps a new fitness routine. Even taking small action steps can help to make you feel more positive.


8. Eat well to feel well – Get yourself organised by writing up a weekly meal plan so that you know in advance what you will have, and think about meals that you could batch cook for lunches and dinners over a number of days. It will help to keep you on track if you are feeling tired when you get home and can’t muster the energy to cook.


9. Get ready the night before – anyone else rather have an extra 15 mins on snooze? Me too! Spend a few minutes before bed to get the breakfast stuff out, your bag ready to go, and get your clothes laid out. Saves that last minute faff in the morning!


10. Plan your playlist – set up a playlist of some of your favourite top tunes that are guaranteed to get you out of a lull if you’re feeling a bit bleary eyed…and you can even indulge your guilty pleasures (I won’t tell!!)

 

Photo credit:  Estee Janssens  via Unsplash 

Is it nice to be nice?

 

Ok, so today’s post came about because of a comment that a colleague made about me. It was absolutely meant in a complimentary way, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit ugh about it, and it started all sorts of thoughts going on in my head (it had been a long day!!).

The comment was that I was a “nice person”.

Nice. It’s a bit like average. Or OK.  Said in a well-meaning way of course – and there are a lot worse things people could say about someone – but it got me thinking about what does it mean to be nice?  And is it nice to be nice?

To me, I associate someone who is nice as being kind, and thoughtful, and pleasant, and sure they are very positive traits to have. But I also associate it with someone who is a bit placid, meek and to be honest, easily taken advantage of.

It made me think about how I come across to this person.   It wasn’t a person I have a lot of interaction with, but I have spent time with them, certainly long enough for them to form an opinion.

Did they see me as a bit meek?   In my head, I want to be kick-ass!!  A formidable person that commands respect and admiration!!   Not someone who’s a bit so-so.

But maybe so-so is just how I’ve been showing up. Thinking in your head that you’re awesome isn’t enough.  You have to be it.  And you have to demonstrate it.

In future, before I use words to describe someone I’m going to put a bit more thought into it – yes, it’s great to give someone positive feedback, but maybe give a bit more detail and avoid using wishy-washy words.

But I’m also going to look at how I’m going about in the world – is my behaviour reflecting how I feel in my head, whether it’s good or bad? Or maybe I need to kick my own ass before I become the kick-ass!

How it all started…


One of the reasons I decided to start this blog was because I have been reading some really great stuff on other people’s blogs, from all around the world. Sometimes you can find exactly what you need to hear at the time, and sometimes you might read stuff and completely disagree, or think I would have said that differently.  Having an outlet to write is also a good way of rearranging your own thoughts and challenging what you think within yourself.

As I mentioned in my ‘About Me’ blurb, I didn’t just want to write about my own specific situation. I’ve read lots of blogs about being over 40, but still find some of them aimed more for the over 50s rather than someone who still feels like a teenager!!  I’ve also read a lot about being single, but again, I found that quite a few were just moans about past partners and being pretty down on men, and that’s not my style either.     I don’t think we can categorise ourselves purely on age, or whether we have children or have got a ring on our finger.  What’s true for me may be very different to someone else who, on the face of it, I should have a lot in common with.

What I am interested in, is people with similar passions to me. Or who have a similar outlook as me.  People that I feel “get me”.  And that has nothing to do with age, gender or marital status.   It’s just about making connections with people.

I’ve found a lot of great people through Instagram and Pinterest – if you haven’t checked these out yet, it’s a great way of finding like-minded people. Searching for random hashtag labels on the stuff that interests you is a good way of finding interesting accounts to follow.   It’s not all photos of people eating their dinner, I promise.  But if anyone spots a good recipe for cheesecake….

How Do You Find Your Spark?

We all need something in our lives to spark a bit of passion.  Some days it can be easy to know what that thing is – we might have a really specific career or fitness or life goal that we can keep in mind and which gives us a purpose to work towards.  But some days it’s not that straightforward.   So, how do you find your spark?

We can get so caught up in the now, that we do just what we need to, to get through the day.  And that’s ok…for a while.  But without some sort of purpose or sense of direction, we can get a bit lost.

There is a lot of advice and information out there these days.  You can Google pretty much any topic and you will find that someone’s already asked the same question, or thought the same thing. And there’s probably a few answers being put forward too.  When you’re going through a tough time, or if there’s something you want to find out about but don’t know who to ask, or maybe you feel a bit silly for asking, it can be comforting to know that there are people out there feeling exactly the same.  Or people have gone through what you’re going through, and are sharing their story about how they got through it, or achieved something you would like to achieve.

Despite the obvious dangers and pitfalls, social media can be really helpful in finding like-minded people to learn from, bounce ideas around and have your own ideas challenged. Finding your own tribe or “girl squad” who share your passion can be just the support you need to get an idea or project off the ground, especially if you don’t have that support in your own circle.

Some people prefer to go it alone, and that’s fine too. Trying things out for yourself before telling anyone what you’re attempting is totally understandable, because the fear of failure and feeling pressured to achieve can be huge.  Maybe you’ve announced to the world that you’re going to be running the next London Marathon, when the reality is that you are struggling to hit 5K.  It can be very daunting to tell your nearest and dearest that you’re attempting this big thing, when you’re not even sure within yourself if you can make it.

So, how do you find your spark?  Well,  if there’s an idea or a goal that is in your head and it just won’t go away, you should follow it.   If there’s something that makes you smile, or brings on a sense of calm and peace, or even if it gets you totally wound up in frenzy, you should listen to it. Because these are the things that spark something in you.

It might not be the same for the people around you, and they might not get it, but if it sparks something in you, then it’s important.    Don’t be afraid to follow your own path, because you will probably find there are other like-minded people heading the same way.

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Welcome!

Hi there, and welcome to the blog!

What is it that sparks passion in you?

It could be something really simple, but makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Or it could be those really big kick-ass goals, that make you push yourself beyond what you thought you were capable of.

Whatever it means for you, finding your passion – and celebrating it – is what makes it all worthwhile.  It’s what makes us keep going through the tough times, and keeps us keeping on.

Through this blog, I’m looking forward to sharing what this means for me, and for others, and if it helps someone to start a little fire in their own life, then that sounds good to me!