September Recap and October Intentions

Readers - I can’t thank you enough for your lovely words and messages after last month’s recap. August was a tough month and I wanted to preserve one of the purposes of this blog through that post - to show you that life isn’t perfect and that we’re all just doing our best. So thank you again for being here, I appreciate it so much.

September was an improvement and it’s a great time of year - the days are getting longer, the weather is warmer and the last quarter of the year is always full of fun activities.

I had a couple of weekends away too (see the amazing Wilson's Promontory above), which always makes for good memories and weekends that feel extra long.

Now let’s get into how I did with my September intentions:

Increase energy levels

September was a much more balanced month for me - it wasn’t perfect but I was focused on healthier foods, long walks by the river and choosing sleep over big nights out.

It’s good to regain focus after the bumpier seasons of life and taking time to plan and slow down was the way for me to facilitate that.

I also took up some good habits in September - dry body brushing (start doing this immediately, it’s so good!) and drinking apple cider vinegar and lemon water in the morning (I have no idea if this is benefiting me but stay tuned!)

Study comes first

I also did well catching up on my studies but realised I had in fact exaggerated the situation in my head. Like journaling my worries (and realising most were not true), I had blown up in my head that I was quite far behind on my course and then, paralysed by the overwhelm, was putting off delving back in.

When I finally sat down one evening to make my to do list and finalise some worksheets, I realised I was in fact not that far behind and was caught up on a few major things within the hour. I’d spent way more than an hour stressing about it and there I was - I had done it!

What are you procrastinating on or blowing up in your head at the moment? Let me know in the comments below.

October Intentions

Blog it up

In line with my theme of honesty, you may have noticed I haven’t been posting quite as regularly around here.

I’ve been busy and going through some issues yes, but I also haven’t been planning ahead with posts or spending the time I’d usually like to on the blog.

I’ve accepted that as part of this season of life, but still want to be here to serve you through my writing, and also serve myself by doing something I love to do. I have a whole list of posts I want to write so I’m going to prioritise them and carve out time each week to focus on writing.

Please let me know in the comments if there’s any topics you’d like me to specifically post on too!

Rekindle friendships

Along with you lovely blog readers, my friends have been super supportive of me over the last few months. I am trying to live by Brene Brown’s philosophy of vulnerability and it’s tough, but it makes for much stronger connections and conversations.

As we get into the busiest time of year, I want to make sure I have plenty of catch ups planned with my closest friends, not only to benefit me through fun and connection, but also to make sure I’m being there for them now that I’m starting to feel better.

What have you got planned for October readers?

Let me know your intentions for the month in the comments below and feel free to share this post on social media if you think it will help others.

The Genius of Brooke Castillo's Self Coaching Model

It's been a good few months for me and new discoveries. I spoke about my first encounter with Brené Brown here, and the other gem I've been wanting to share with you is the life coach Brooke Castillo

I discovered Brooke, as I do so many great authors and speakers, through The Lively Show, Jess Lively's podcast. Jess is a brilliant interviewer and always has fascinating guests on her show. I find lots of goodness through her podcast but rarely go too deep into the guest's work (remember my March intention to ditch too much personal development?). I only have so many hours in the day to read and listen, so I try to limit it to a few key people.

Well let's just say Brooke has taken over many of those hours. Her two interviews on The Lively Show (here and here) led me to Brooke's own podcast, The Life Coach School Podcast, which is full of so much goodness around managing thoughts, feelings and creating the life you want. 

Brooke's main principles are represented in the Self Coaching Model. Firstly I love the model because it, of course, implies you can do it for yourself. Secondly, it is genius and completely obvious and difficult and mind-blowing and crazy hard all at the same time. Let's take a look:

The model outlines the following (and excuse the dramatic examples but they're good to illustrate the cycle):

  • Circumstances are FACTS and everyone must agree on them being facts. e.g. I lost my job, I weigh X, I write this blog.
  • Thoughts are subjective and are what we create about our circumstances e.g. I am hopeless, I am overweight.
  • Feelings are vibrations (yes, just vibrations) in our body that result from our thoughts e.g. depression or guilt.
  • Actions are how we respond to our feelings e.g. I'm going to stay inside all day, I'm going to give up and eat a tub of ice cream.
  • Results therefore come from the preceding actions e.g. I remain unemployed, I gain more weight.

It may seem obvious but Brooke teaches that our thoughts really do create our reality and our thoughts are not necessarily the truth - they are just an interpretation of our circumstances.

As she said on The Lively Show,

“The world cannot cause our emotions. Our emotions are always caused by what we think.” 

Pretty amazing right?

So whatever situation you find yourself in - positive or negative - it is a result of the thoughts and therefore feelings and actions that you have created about a circumstance.

Brooke teaches that when we can learn to observe our thoughts, rather than take them as the absolute truth, we can really begin to create the day to day and ongoing life that we want - because we are in control. No one else. Awesome right?

I haven't nailed the model yet but am absolutely becoming more aware of my thoughts and feelings and how I get to choose my reactions to a circumstance.

...Now go and download Brooke's podcast and enjoy all the further goodness you'll get from it. 

Let me know your initial thoughts (pun intended) on the coaching model in the comments below. Are there any pressing areas of your life you can apply it to?

What I Learnt from Brené Brown

I read this Guardian article recently about people who have aversions to recommendations. I think I often fall into this category (and to confirm, I have never seen any Game of Thrones).

I have managed to resist Brené Brown’s work for years, until about a month ago when I succumbed and watched her TED talk - one of the most popular of all time.

What then followed was a (accepted!) recommendation of her book The Power of Vulnerability. I downloaded the audio book and the 6 hours and 31 minutes were devoured in just four days.

Brené is so personable and her qualitative research on fear, shame and vulnerability is peppered with both heartbreaking and hilarious stories from her subjects, as well as her husband, kids, friends and wider family.

So what did I learn? Apart from the 10 guideposts for wholehearted living which she goes through in the book, these lessons struck me the most:

We all care what others think of us

Brené points out two thoughts we all often come up against when pursuing something new, or even just getting around in our regular everyday life:

  1. ‘I’m not good enough’
  2. ‘Who do I think I am?’

Being crippled by what others think is so common for many people, and I do find some comfort in that commonality.

This blog was a huge undertaking for me and believe me, the above questions have crossed my mind more than once when I press publish on a post…

Be who you are

One of Brené’s mantras is: ‘"Do not shrink. Do not puff up. Stand my sacred ground."  

Once I heard this, I could hear it ringing in my ears during the smallest day-to-day situations. So often in conversations I was playing myself down or changing my style to try and match or dominate another’s - particularly at work.

Thankfully I found this doesn’t happen often with those closest to me, but it’s a huge challenge to just be who you are without pretense or adjustments to suit those around you.

Choose empathy over sympathy

Confession - this section of the book had me welling up a little. So often we jump to sympathise with people when they’re vulnerable with us, but as Brené points out, this doesn’t put us side by side with them - it usually places us above them.

Empathy should be the real focus in these intimate conversations - even if we haven’t gone through the exact same situation as others, we can just say ‘that sounds like it’s really hard/horrible/sad/embarrassing’, rather than ‘oh, you poor thing’.

As Brené beautifully puts it - ‘sit in the dark with them, don’t flick on the lights’.

I could go on with more lessons, but we'll leave it there for today.

I'll finish with a quote about the wholehearted, vulnerable people Brené interviewed - she notes they were also usually the happiest...

“They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say ‘I love you’ first. The willingness to do something when there are no guarantees. The willingness to invest into a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.”

...And now to read the rest of her books!