I am a list writer. Things I need in my wardrobe, food we need in the cupboards, to-do lists every day. I must have read that if you write it down you will make it happen. Plan the life you want and how you aim to get it and it will happen. But this is not happening for me. I know that this doesn’t happen for a lot of people.

While clearing through mounds of books and papers recently I discovered that my partner has been literally planning, through writing, scattegrams and mindmaps, a better life and relationships for years, not just once but over and over – years worth of plans. All the things we discuss now together with honesty and full hearted excitement, I realised with sadness he has planned and dreamed of all of this before in his former life. He is an articulate, imaginative, clever and hardworking person. So what stopped him actually just doing it?

I can honestly say I don’t know for sure what stops the dreams and schemes we all have from becoming just repeated words on pages. It’s sad to realise that unless we all do something extra-ordinary, and take an uncomfortable chance, life really is just Groundhog Day.

If I think about how I used to dream of better relationships, a better lifestyle, and better work it becomes visible to me. It is not fear. It is not bad luck nor errors of judgement. It is the people we surround ourselves with. The ones that unintentionally keep us small and take, and take again, because it suits them.

In the UK if you have a big idealistic mind and you tell people about it, it is rarely cultivated and admired, one becomes a dreamer or a boaster. Totally in opposition to Americans who seem to love and embrace people with big dreams; the bigger the better. They love dare-to-do’ers and winners. Here we love to lose; it allows us the self pity that we had ‘prepared earlier’.

One of my parents would always say ‘oh you don’t want to do that’ ‘why would you risk that?’ ‘It’s too soon’ ‘Its too late’. Then, as I got older, subsequent partners who liked life as it was (usually at my expense in one way or another) did exactly the same.

I am not historically blaming the people around me. No I am blaming myself for listening to them. I have recently broken off from associates, and fallen out with older members of my family because I have learned to claim my space, literally. I cant deal with their problems for them and trying to do so has been holding me back from moving forward. So I have become selfish. I will own that one because I don’t feel guilty: I need space from the nay-sayers and I don’t need the toxicity of my past in my present.

Resisting the urge to proclaim over and over that my life is brilliant is hard. I have so little in terms of finances and wealth. But my goodness, I am physically more healthy than ever, mentally getting stronger everyday, and I am putting myself out of my comfort zone to achieve greater things.

Procrastination does not work for anyone. Claiming your space to allow you to get on with whatever IT is, does.

NOT procrastinating!

Vital Ingredients to my Recipe of Life

I have recently seen the same GP a number of times for insomnia, which, ironies of ironies, is caused by stress and causes me more stress (go figure). She rarely takeS the time to look me in the eye, and the last time I visited she walked ahead of me into her office without holding the door which nearly knocked me out. Half way through me describing the blackhole of my insomnia, she started moisturing her hands; a clear indication that her thought process was more along the lines of ‘my hands are dry, oh I must moisturise them, now, right now’ rather than which medication and approach may help poor weary-teary Karen.

“A yawn is a silent scream … for COFFEE!”

So 3 days in to the new meds I had a ‘funny turn’. I experienced my first and hopefully last episode of BPPV (fancy name for a type of Vertigo) “common in older people” – wait a minute, I am not old, I am 51 and a big bit! It may or may not have been caused by the meds, it may just be a one off, only time will tell. But its not serious nor ominous.

I am sharing this because the GP I saw today has made a difference. If I was given one wish, it would be to make a positive difference to each and everyone I encounter . She did this in less than a 4 minute appointment. She had taken the time to read my note on why I needed the appointment and was prepared; she didn’t need to ask ‘what seems to be the problem’. She already knew and had read my notes. She looked me in the eye. All of a sudden this GP had given me a value. She has changed the meds to one that will help the vertigo with the added side effect of sleepiness and I have exercises to do to move the crystals in my ears that are in the wrong place.

But here is where she made a difference: referring to my notes and that I had been seen for insomnia and stress related anxiety, she wrote the name of a book and personalised the appointment by telling me she too experienced this unpleasant condition and that hers came on with stress. She related that the mind and body work together to conspire and to fulfil our lives. I have left the surgery determined to get over this nausea and take control of my life with a different approach. I’m going to have a curfew on mobile devices 90 minutes before bedtime. I’m not going to drink coffee after 12 noon (that is actually going to be very hard!). I’m going back to the Mindful Apps that I recommend to my clients, because quite simply, they are brilliant and a lot of them are free.

There are definitely areas that GPs neglect – mental health training is NOT a part of their training in any significant way yet thousands of work hours are lost to ‘stress and anxiety’ sick notes every year in the UK. Our younger people, for whatever reason, have very poor mental health. As a Mum of 3 beautiful and accomplished young adults, they all have experienced serious debilitating anxieties/ depression. I have worked with teenagers and this is a REAL issue. An individual’s perception of what is stressful and causes them anxiety may not seem consequential to another but to them it just IS.

If we all think about the four things that make or break us they are : Diet, Exercise, Mental Health and Sleep.

They are all different and immense subjects on their own but they all work together within our bodies. Look at all four and see if their are any changes you need to make – do you walk and get fresh air and sunshine, do you exercise and challenge your strength & fitness, do you eat a variety of whole foods as much as you can, do you spend hours on devices when you could be walking, talking and engaging in living? And finally do you sleep, really deep fluffy cloud sleep?

These four ingredients are the only ones we need to pay attention to for our Life Recipe.

What do you to clear your head?

I live in a flat and have done for nearly two years. I can see outside, I can step on to a balcony. I can hear, smell and see the town. But it does not bring me peace. For all of us it is something different.

A couple of years ago I hugged a tree for the first time in my life. Having chosen the exact tree, drawn to it like a puppy in a rehoming centre. I took a moment, breathed in deeply and wrapped my arms around its all-knowing geriatric trunk and Nature herself coursed through my body.

A tree has seen so many seasons; grows, sheds and shoots year in year out. It just IS. When you wrap your arms around a tree you become just a being. Not a ‘Karen’ with a perceived hundred-thousand stresses and issues to sort, texts/ emails to send, people to impress or let down. Just one human BEING.

I have found the same solace sitting in my local park. With eyes closed I listen to the birds and wind blowing through the leaves. And by the sea – literally sat at the tides edge, eyes closed, listening to waves as they ebb and reassuringly whisper ‘sssssssh’ along the shingle.

Mother Nature places her hand on my forehead, holds me to her breast and strokes my hair, I am saved and I am safe and my head is cleared.

Mind Your Language

Be honest with me: How many times a day do you curse and rebuke yourself? And how many times do you say this aloud? I know that I tell myself I am stupid, fat, lazy, ugly on a daily basis. It has become a second inner language that I very often speak out loud. I use language on myself that I would NEVER use on another human being. In the company of my daughters as children I was so careful not to use this derogatory language about myself. But somewhere in their teens it became acceptable to put myself down – often incessantly. “Oh you look pretty Momma” “But, I think I look fat/ugly in this”.

It needs to stop. We fulfill the language we use, especially on ourselves. I am aware that using negativity BREEDS negativity and I can literally talk myself out of going out. When any of my clients tell me they are ‘sorry I am so slow’ ‘sorry I am a div’, ‘I’m so fat/ lazy/ greedy etc’ I stop them and remind them that they would not dream of ever saying this to anyone but themselves.

So please, stop and mind your language. Tell yourself you are beautiful today. That you are positive today. That today is one step closer to where you want it to be, if you want it enough.

I will if you will.