31/05/2020 Learning how to flourish in a strange world

I was getting ready for bed last night, and I had one of those moments again. A moment I am certain we have all had. “I wish it would all go back to normal”… moment. The thing is that normal is never coming back though. The one thing that is normal though is longing for the past. We all use the past to learn from to help us model the future. The problem now is that a lot of the rules of the past will not apply now, so we are going to have to be a lot more selective.

When predicting and planning for the future, we use our past as reference points to predict what may happen in the future, and therefore inform our plans. This approach has always been problematic, and now this has become almost impossible. What we need to do now is respond to the present, to help plan what you are going to do next.

You may remember a blog I wrote about being resilient right at the beginning of this crisis, and I have referenced some of this more recently too. It drew on the work of Diane Coutu. She suggested to be resilient you need to be; realistic, purposeful, and creative.

So being in the moment, and responding to the present, ensures you have a realistic view of your world. You are not relying on blind optimism or dreaming of a lost better world. You are very aware of the circumstances you are in and what you have at your disposal. This is a neutral viewpoint and should involve all that is happening not just the good, or the bad. If you like a sense or realism gives you an inventory of all you have good and bad to move forward.

To provide stamina and will power, it is vital to have a strong reason why. A purpose that is more than you have. Something to strive for such as supporting people to live up to their potential and for them in turn feel empowered enough to support and encourage those around them to reach their potential (This is one of my reasons why). Your purpose should not be achieved it should be something you live up to that keeps you going, something that is worth getting up for. When life gets tough, just like it is now a purpose will help you get back to working for it. If you are struggling to think of your purpose, it is worth spending some time thinking about what is important to you. Another way of looking at it is is there a cause that you support? Is there something that someone stands for that you can get behind 100%? If there is make that your purpose, your reason why, to contribute to that cause. It might be civil rights, or freedom of speech, nationalism, or socialism. Or it could be your own cause. If you want to be resilient it is vital to have purpose.

When times are challenging we do not always have what we need, so to survive and eventually flourish we have to be creative with what we have at our disposal. In business you see this with some businesses changing what they do, so they can continue their business. Like pubs and restaurants offering takeaway services, taxi drivers becoming delivery drivers, grocers moving to home delivery, tailors making surgical scrubs and ppe, engineers making visors. To survive we have to adapt. Being creative is easier if you have a purpose and a sense of realism. If we are clear what we have at our disposal and clear why we need to do it, creativity comes easy.

To flourish in these uncertain times we need to be agile and in the moment, with a clear purpose, and an ability to be creative. So don’t be stuck in the past, and stop wishing for a brighter future, make a brighter future.

Stay safe everyone.

30/05/2020 Are we drifting back into a crisis worse than the first time?

Photo by Mike Chai on Pexels.com

I have just been reading Matthew Paris’ column in The Times this morning (Let’s just hope the scientists were wrong). He got me wondering if we are all just relaxing a little too much (to a greater or lesser extent). To be fair for most of the lock down I have been in my house or in my workplace. I worked out the furthest I have been away from my house has been about 1/2 a mile form my house on a walk last week.

The feeling I am getting though is that everything seems a little more relaxed with parties happening down our street (with apparently 30 people in attendance), youngsters meeting up with their friends. In fact on my walk the other day I saw a group of mine clearly pining for the pub all sat in the beer garden of our local drinking (soft drinks) and remembering times gone by.

Not so long ago all of these activities would be perfectly normal, now this are considered socially unacceptable. This in-spite of most of us being guilty of some transgression in the social distancing rules, whether that is chatting with another family in the street, or standing too close to people in the supermarket. Lets be honest all of us have passed judgement whilst at the same time not being perfect ourselves.

To be fair this was expected and we still on the whole kept transmission low. What I am wondering though is as the rules are relaxed more ,the weather continues to be this glorious, and the trust in our officials is being eroded either by the actions of the media or the actions of the officials (depending on your point of view), these transgressions will be more pronounced. So these transgressions alongside shops and schools being open could well start to seed more infections.

So lets hope this track and trace is up to scratch and is able to keep any outbreaks under control. The media suggest otherwise, however people can do extraordinary things when under pressure, so I will not be surprised if we have a system that is highly effective very soon. No doubt there will be some issues for the next week.

I hope all of this will be enough to keep us all safe, I am fearful though that all we will do is create a very long and unpleasant epidemic, with perhaps not the high numbers of daily deaths, but a long lingering tail with spikes of infections, which will be in the long run more universally damaging than the first peak that appears to be coming to an end.

I suppose we will not see the full impact of this pandemic until it is long over.

To try to end on a positive note, this means that we need to start to consider how our lives are going to look over the next year or two. What will work look like? If you own a business do you need to start considering how it will operate if at all in the future, and what could you do differently that answers your purpose? How will we socialise? What will education look like? What will family life be like? How will people meet each other and form relationships? If we want to flourish in the new normal we will have to shape what that normal will be.

Stay safe and enjoy the lovely weather.

29/05/2020 Jack’s 18th Birthday

My youngest is 18 today. I am sure not the 18th he dreamed about. No trip to the pub with his mates, no night out at Welly, or Spiders. Just a trip to Sainsbury’s local with his ID to buy in his first legal beer. Maybe a kick-about in the garden with his brother then a few drinks in the garden. What will happen is; we will laugh, we will hug, they will laugh at their old Dad when he tries to play football, we will do some day drinking, we will remind each other how much we love each other. Today is a day to our wonderful son becoming a man (I am on holiday today). It wont be fancy, but it will be memorable. Jack we are so proud of you and the lovely young you have become.

This week I have been getting use to working from home. I have been working from home on a phased return for a couple of weeks, now and this was the first week working from home feeling well. It has been more challenging than I thought. Over the past couple of weeks I had just been putting my head down and getting through it. This week I have been much more tuned into work and much more aware. So from a work perspective i have been very productive with no distractions from people knocking on the door, or phone calls. Those incidental moments just don’t happen, all I get now is the dog barking at a pigeon or an Amazon delivery. As a result work seems less varied, and I wonder if what I am producing is somehow less as it is not being informed by those discussions that just happen in the office when putting together presentations or sessions. That is what I am struggling with I think, or at least one of them. I miss the casual and varied social interaction I get at work, those short discussions in the kitchen, those impromptu Q&A sessions in the corridor, those moments that add a richness to work.

I am also finding creating my own barriers for work challenging. I have had to designate our dining room as my office during the day, so I have some form of separation from where I relax. When I have my break I go into the front room away from my workspace. What I am noticing though is that I keep looking at my emails even after I have logged off. Living and working in the same building is also beginning to give me cabin fever, something I had not noticed when I was still recovering. Next week I am going to have to make a conscious decision to go for a longer walk after work just to get out of the house.

I have mentioned this before, but having a routine is really helpful, but however that routine cannot be a drudge. I have noticed this week that you can get into a routine that is not helpful. So next week I will be adjusting my routine to make it easier to separate home and work, and create a routine at work that has more interaction with colleagues.

From Monday I will start to wear my work clothes to the office rather than jeans and T-shirt and then getting changed at the end of the day, just to help with that work mindset. I will use the the rest of the house and garden as non-work environments, therefore no work will be done in any other part of the house.

With regards to interaction we do have occasions during the day when I will speak over the phone with my boss or my colleague Nami. I think I will suggest that once a day we have a short video conference tea break to have some social interaction face to face, so we continue to communicate effectively and try to add to the richness of our work.

I am certain in the future we will be spending at least some of our weeks working from home to best utilise the office space we have, now we know we can work effectively. If that is the case I will have to create a work environment that is useful and effective.

I am so pleased today that I have been able to write a blog that has not been centred on my illness. It is wonderful to spend some time celebrating my youngest Son and writing about adapting and moving forward.

Now is the time to start to make tentative plans about how we are going to live our lives after this initial stage of the pandemic.

Stay safe, and have a lovely weekend

25/05/2020 It is easy to get caught up in the hysteria

If you live in the UK, then maybe this weekend has stirred some strong emotions in you. The discovery that our Prime Minister’s Chief Aide has appeared not to have followed the rules he helped write has created some very strong emotion. The sharpening of pitchforks on social media last night was very evident. I could feel anger and rage building last night and this morning I have been trying to understand the feelings I had and continue to have towards this issue. What I witnessed on social media and felt myself worried me. Who or what am I directed my rage at, what has got us all so angry?

So this is why I am writing this, to calm myself down and work out what for me is driving this emotion. Becoming hysterical will be far from helpful.

Now Dominic Cummings is a divisive, difficult character, he appears to be very intelligent and unconventional. He does not appear to behave in a way we expect from people in his position. Therefore many of us will dislike and mistrust him on this basis. If we then add that he was instrumental in the leave campaign and getting Boris Johnson elected and all the controversy that caused and the way he is portrayed in the media. Can you see where I am going with this? Most of us have already decided what kind of person he is. We have finished his story for him. He then has not reacted the way we expected a government aide to react. In the face of a scandal that they are the story most would resign and apologise. But Dominic has not, and in fact has insisted that he has done nothing wrong.

Fair enough I thought, our Government will see sense, and tell him to go, to protect the integrity of the Government, to maintain the public health message and to stop this being a distraction. But that did not happen. In fact they backed him! This was when my red mist descended and I was looking for a pitchfork in the garage, ready to march on London. The reaction of the Government did not match with my understanding of how things are done. It flew in the face of the value that society and the welfare of that society was more important than one individual. I was and still am struggling to accept that our leaders appear to be putting the interest of themselves above the people they lead.

After thinking about the events of the weekend I am less angry with Dominic. I think he was scared and made bad decisions. His personality does not allow him to show remorse outwardly, and perhaps as Malcolm Gladwell puts it, his behaviour is mismatched and does not reflect what he feels. What I am though is angry at our Government for not showing accountability and integrity and taking control of this situation for the good of the nation. This could have been closed down on Saturday morning, with a swift resignation a public acknowledgement that Dominic was advised and supported adequately by his colleagues, therefore he made bad choices which he is very sorry for. But they chose self interest instead and twist the guidelines to suit the narrative. I want to believe that they are honorable, I want to believe that are telling the truth, but every public announcement erodes that trust even more.

So when we cannot trust our leaders what can we do? We can trust each other, we can support and care for each other. We can guide each other to make the right choices and keep each other safe. I no longer trust what is said at the daily briefings. I do however trust that there are plenty of wise leaders around the government that will continue to provide advice and guidance that will keep us safe. I trust my local leaders to do the right thing who will put pressure on our government to make the right choice and rebuild that trust that has been lost for the greater good.

So lets not get caught up in the hysteria, and trust and lead each other, our government will have no choice but to fall into line or be consigned to history, that is democracy.

If you like me were angered by the events of the weekend let your MP know and ask them to put pressure on the Prime Minister to take action.

Please stay safe, and look after each other.

23/05/2020 Back to working on my book

Some of you how have been following my blog from the beginning will remember that about 2 years ago I started writing a book. For those of you who don’t know I decided to write about how I am learning how to navigate my way through my life by understanding myself and what motivates and drives me and how that can improve how I connect with others and hopefully get the most out of my life. Recently with doing a level 7 coaching qualification and then some health issues it has been a bit stop start. Well this morning I was feeling a bit more motivated to revisit it. Writing some notes on Chapter 7 which is about how we communicate with each other. As I was writing it I thought it might be helpful to share what I have so far. The chapter explores how society dictates how we communicate with others, which during these changing times really resonated with me. So here is what I have so far and I hope it resonates with some of you. By the way I am feeling a lot better today and yesterday, all week I have steadily improved each day so hopefully I have seen the back of it now. Any way I hope this gives you another view on what happens when we meet new people.

Chapter 7

Does society dictate how we communicate with people?

I have mentioned this a few times, but our view of the world dictates how we behave within it. This view is in turn dictated by the stories we hear and the events we witness. The stories we hear come from a variety of sources, including our families, friends, schools, media, and our workplaces to name but a few. Then we add into the mix the events we witness and take part in. Now as mentioned before our memories of events are always corrupted by our brains to fit into our view of the world and justify our behaviour or response (this could be to our advantage or disadvantage, depending on our mindset). 

When we first see people we start making judgements, about them. Whether they are a threat or not, and how we should best communicate with them. The only data we initially have is their appearance, this might be followed by the sounds they make and the smells immit, followed by how they behave. If we are around long enough we will make more informed decisions on them as we collect more data about them. However we will often make an early decision on whether to communicate with them or not. 

Remember the Chimp (limbic system), of course you do. Well this is the limbic system in action. When someone new appears the limbic system wakes up to assess any threat that this new individual may pose. The limbic system will not stop there though, remember this system is designed to protect you, feed you and secure the future of your species. Therefore your chimp will be assessing whether the new person can help you elevate your position to keep you safe and potential a secure supply of food, whether they may lower your status and therefore put you more at risk, or whether they are a potential mate. In the blink of an eye your limbic system has made a decision based on limited data, about how you would potentially communicate with this new person. Whether to greet them with a warm smile, and say hello, nod your head in their direction, give no eye contact, give them your phone number, or get well out of their way. 

The thing is what we don’t know about people we generally make up. We don’t like loose ends, we like everything packaged up and in its’ place, it makes us feel safe and secure. 

I love to people watch on the bus on the way to work. I go to work early and generally get the same bus most days. If anyone commutes on public transport you will know that you see the same people everyday. As most of us are creatures of habit we all like to sit in the same seat, so it is always easy to spot the same people. When I was a Charge Nurse I used to get the first bus in the morning and the same people would always get on at the same stops. There was always 2 of us at my stop. I was always accompanied by a young man in his early 20s who would always be listening to music on a Sony Discman. Now this was around 2002/3 so they were still around (the digital world was just starting, afterall I still used my Sony Walkman and tapes at the time). Every morning he would be listening to Songs For The Deaf by Queens of The Stoneage, he played it so loud that I could hear the songs clearly through his headphones. In all the time we stood at the bus stop together, which was everyday barring holidays for a year, we never spoke, in fact we never even acknowledged each other. Our chimps both clearly decided there was no benefit to be had communicating with each other. Despite this I knew him very well. My mind had given him a very detailed back story to justify why I was not going to communicate with him. In my mind he was a socially awkward 24 year old with an unhealthy obsession with rock music, which had led to occasional dabbling in the occult. In my mind he was called Gary, he lived at home with his mum and dad although he rarely ventured out of his room. He worked on a production line in a local factory. None of this was at all true, or I very much doubt it. I know this is extreme, but I did have a year to create this back story. It does however illustrate that we take a small amount of information and fill in the gaps based on what we understand, and stories we have heard that might explain what we are seeing. When we have this story, maybe nothing as elaborate as the one I described we will make a decision on if we are going to communicate with them and how we are going to communicate. We make decisions daily based on the assumptions we make about the people we confront. Our assumptions are made based on the stories we have stored in our memory bank. The vast majority of which are wildly inaccurate and do not bear any resemblance to the stories of the person in front of us as demonstrated in the story above. 

Recently I have been reading a book called Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. The tag line is ‘What we should know about the people we don’t know’. Essentially we need to know that they are complicated and we are complicated. Malcolm suggests that when communicating with people most of us will default to truth, meaning we generally believe what people are saying and will only think it a lie when the evidence is overwhelming. We assume people are transparent, and it is easy to tell what people are thinking and feeling by their behaviour and facial expressions. We are not transparent and there is not a standard for facial expressions and behaviour. Lastly what we do and say are dependant on the environment, our experiences and the current situation. So what Malcolm is suggesting is that unless we know someone very, very well, we do not stand a cat in hells chance of figuring out what is going on in people’s heads. But we cannot help but try to predict someone’s motive, or whether they are being honourable or not. Sometimes it is important to accept that we will not get all the answers and we will misread people as they will misread us. We are all capable of telling lies, we are all mismatched in the respect that our behaviours and expressions do not match what is really going on for, and our decision making and reaction is very much dependent on context. So if we are all like that we don’t really stand a chance do we. 

If you want to know more about someone the only way is to listen to them, see them and understand the context they are living in. Always paying attention to what you are assuming and understanding about them based on your context which will not be theirs. So don’t be surprised when people do not end up being who you thought they were, but also don’t be surprised if they end up being exactly who you thought they were too. 

Stay safe everyone, speak soon

21/05/2020 Today was going OK and then Humber Street Sesh was cancelled

Photograph by Dave Longbottom

I know I said I was not going to write a blog today. But I have got something to say, so I thought I would say it.

As the title suggests I had a quite a productive morning. I was feeling tired but satisfied that I was getting stuff done. I spent most of the morning recording a couple of presentations, one was a blind coaching session and the other was how to set a qualitative goal. It has been a while since I have heard my voice being played back, which was very disconcerting. I think I may have to record them again, but I will see. I was feeling quite rubbish when I did it, so I might try again over the weekend. I managed to book some coaching sessions in with people (via video conferencing). The morning was hard work but it was a productive morning.

When I had finished I decided to have my lunch in the garden and catch up on some social media. That is when I saw the news that Humber Street Sesh 2020 had been cancelled. Now we have all been expecting it for some time but it got to me. I had a moment (in fact I am having another one now). For those of you that are not from Hull and are wondering what I am talking about, Humber Street Sesh is a local music festival that showcases local unsigned bands as well as some from slightly further afield. It has been running now for over a decade and has got bigger and bigger each year. It is a 2 day festival (Friday evening and all day Saturday). It is a wonderful festival and gives young musicians a chance to showcase their talent to audiences that may never see them otherwise. We love it! Both of our sons have been involved with it. Jack volunteered last year and with his band (Speakeasy) had applied to play this year. Ben has played the festival twice with his band Vialetters and were due to play again this year. The first weekend in August is always so important to us. Hearing the news that it was cancelled just brought it home that all our lives have been turned upside down. We have our memories I know, and we are safe. But I need to have a moment, I need to lay face down on the floor and feel sorry myself.

Once I have had this moment I will pick myself up and get back to making the most of life. We are all still here and we will have an amazing time next year, however it works out. So in homage of the wonderful festival I have included a playlist of some artists that have played the festival. Please give it a listen and maybe seek out some of these artists and support them during this challenging time.

Stay safe everyone.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6ZQwPSYKliAlJ4ZEIzrlV0?si=HwO4rHc2RPKiQDuaETcrxw

20/05/2020 It’s a warm one

I have had a few days off from blogging. I was running out of things to say, and I have been working more as part of my rehabilitation back into the the working world, so quite frankly I have been knackered.

Today though I feel re-energised. I decided to work in the garden this morning, and that was I must say an excellent move. Listening to the birdsong with the sun on my back and a cool breeze cooling my skin was just the tonic. I managed to get quite a bit done and I felt so much better. There is nothing like a bit of fresh air and nature to restore you.

I must admit though I am flagging a bit know so I will not stay too long. I needed that today, as I really struggled at work yesterday, and felt quite deflated in the afternoon.

For the first time in a while I started making plans in my head for activities in a couple of weeks. This is something I have been shying away from lately. Having a routine in place and the glorious weather has helped immensely.

To keep the positivity going I have spend the past hour compiling a playlist that matches the weather and my mood. As my playlists tend to be it is eclectic and in places a little bit unusual. I had a lot of fun putting it together, and I can safely say every song I have chosen has put a smile on my face. If you like listening to my playlists, brace yourself this is a little different and does have a bit of an international feel about it. But I think it matches the sunshine. At the end of the day I love putting together playlists and sharing them, and to be honest if I had not started putting together this playlist I don’t think I would have written a blog today.

I have added the link below to my playlist if you want to chill out and have a listen.

It will be a few days before I blog again.

Enjoy the weather and stay safe.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/12XXWvA42hBR18qluZeO5E?si=x2L419VgRnC8DWD0MXw7nQ

16/05/2020 Don’t forget to empty that bucket

16th May 2020, another early saturday morning, and I am occupying the same position on the sofa, listening to the same radio station, different song. The news is the same, the same as it has been for the past 2 months. The pandemic has completely consumed our lives, everything we do is influenced by our response to COVID-19. I have been writing about my experiences of this virus for 8 weeks. We have all suffered from the effects of it, whether that is physically, psychologically or both. I have now decided to restrict the amount of news I consume. I read a few articles in the newspaper, the 6 O’clock news on BBC1 then to provide a more human and international perspective I watch Channel 4 news. I think I have only read one news item that is not coronavirus related in recent weeks and that was the terrible news that gunman had attacked a maternity hospital in Kabul. That is why like most of us I am spending a lot of time listening to music, watching entertainment on the TV or reading. We all need to anchor ourselves to the familiar. We all need something that comforts us. I have to keep up to date with the news, but I am noticing I am needing less and less time to keep up with it as very little has changed. Before all this happened I would talk about (to anyone that would listen) about the importance of having an hour of happiness a day. I always like to use the analogy once described to me by a mental health first aid instructor. Imagine you have a bucket that carries all your stress for you. It might be a big bucket if you thrive on stress and enjoy the hustle and bustle of life, or you might have a smaller bucket if you prefer a calmer more predictable life and don’t cope well with stress generally.The thing is it does not matter whether your stress bucket is small or large it still has a capacity. If you have a big bucket, you may experience and attract more stress than someone with a smaller bucket who does not seek out stressful situations. Both types of people may well fill their buckets at the same rate. So everytime something stressful happens to us we put that stress in our bucket. Most of the time we can keep a track of how full our bucket is and empty it when we it starts to reach the top. Sometimes we get busy doing stuff and we stop paying attention to our stress bucket and before we know it our bucket is full and overflowing. At this point we become overwhelmed and struggle to function. There are other times that our bucket fills a lot quicker than normal because there is a lot more stress than we are used to and we have not had chance to notice our bucket filling up.

So here is the thing. It is possible to put a tap at the bottom of our bucket that is always set to a trickle. So it is much harder for our buckets to fill and overflow (not impossible mind). The best thing is, it is not difficult to do and by its very nature is enjoyable. As alluded to earlier all you have to do is allocate yourself an hour happiness everyday. Already I can hear the objections. “An hour?… I don’t have that much time to myself….I have got too much to do”. You are right we are busy, we do have commitments. What if though some of the things we already do, if we looked at them differently gave us pleasure? For instance if you have small children you are really busy caring for them making sure they are washed, dressed, fed and entertained. When we do this everyday it becomes routine, and sometimes a chore, especially when you get them dressed, then for them to get undressed when your back is turned. But just pause for a moment, think about how cute, funny, amazing, adorable your children really are. Think about how much you love them and they love you. Now think about the time you spend with them and how priceless that is. Now allocate that to your daily happiness quota. Housework can be a drudge, another chore to get done. Next time you clean and tidy your house, take a moment just as you have finished and look around. How good does that feel? It was a tip when you started, now it looks like a show home. Stick that in your happiness quota. Then think about what you love to do, like reading, watching dramas, going for a run, playing music, or taking the dog for a walk. We all have something we really enjoy. Make sure you have time in you life for these. 

So to sum up, It is vital to keep your stress bucket in check by putting a slightly open tap at the bottom. You can do this by allocating an hour of happiness every day (you can split it up, into segments, and you can have more than an hour). The first thing to do is to map out your daily routine. Identify which of those activities make you happy, or could make you happy if you viewed them differently. Next write down all the things that make you happy. If you have a long list, prioritise them, and try to incorporate at least the top 3 into your weekly schedule. 

Now here is a bit of a health warning. 

If you have things like drinking alcohol, shopping, or eating, then ask yourself why you are doing these activities. Are you drinking, taking drugs, eating too much, or shopping to dull the pain or for the pleasurable sensation? Let me explain this. If after a hard day at work you stop off at the supermarket and by the biggest, highest alcohol content bottle of plonk they have along with a supersize bag of crisps, a tub of icecream and a giant chocolate bar, to then go home and binge shop on amazon, then I would suggest that this is not going to empty your bucket, in fact you bucket is just going to fill up the next day, when you wake up feeling sick with a bad head and an empty bank balance. 

However if you go the the shop and buy a bottle of your favourite wine, go home order you favourite take away, and then sit and watch a good film or boxset, you will no doubt empty your bucket. 

The most enjoyable and stress relieving activities are productive, are those that increase your connection with others or have an end product, like baking, gardening, exercise, socialising with friends etc.

Stay home, stay safe.

14/05/20 Learning how to talk to strangers

Today was better than yesterday which was better than the day before. On the advice of my GP I bought an oxygen saturation monitor. I have noticed that I will have to be mindful not to become obsessed with using it. I am restricting myself to using it when I feel unwell or breathless. It has reassured me that I do not need to rush to hospital.

In between checking my oxygen saturation levels and heart rate, I have spent most of the day reading. I want to make sure my mind stays as active as is possible, to help me when I am working. I have been reading a fascinating book by Malcolm Gladwell called Talking to Strangers. He explains why we misunderstand strangers, and why most of us find it nearly impossible to tell when we are being lied to. If you like reading and want to know more about why you are so rubbish at talking to and understanding what strangers truly mean, then buy this book.

I so want to tell you what I understand the book to be about, but I wont spoil it for you.

Today has been a stimulating day, which is exactly what I needed. I need to get back to stretching myself intellectually everyday, so when I am ready to work full time I am able to work effectively all day. I was gentle with myself today, giving myself plenty of breaks to ensure I did not lose concentration, and tire myself too much. Tomorrow I am working from home with plans to start writing some video presentations on coaching and leadership therefore I did not want to over do it today, but at the same time keep my mind active.

If you are at home, either working for home, shielding or sick, then it is so vital to develop a routine. A routine that is stimulating, stretches you in some way and is fun. As I mention a lot in these blogs, it is the uncertainty of our circumstances that makes us feel so uncomfortable and in many ways unsafe. If we can create a level of certainty in our own lives by creating a routine in our lives that is enjoyable and productive then we can go some way to easing our anxieties. It will not remove them completely and it should not. This pandemic is terrible and we must not lose sight of that, however we can not change that, but we can influence what happens in our lives. So create a routine, and if that routine for you includes reading then get online and order “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell, it is a fascinating read.

Stay home, stay safe and I will see you all soon.

13/05/2020: 7 Weeks!!!

Come on! This is silly! And I am not talking about lockdown. 7 weeks ago today I woke up coughing. Today I woke up coughing. Today is a better day than yesterday granted but come on, I mean WTAF!

I have not written anything for a couple of days, mainly because I did not have anything to say, that I have not already said or was remotely uplifting for you and me, and I have felt crap for the past few days.

Another thing is I have been getting caught up in the news, and shouting at the TV, which is never helpful. What ever our opinion is about how our government, there is not a huge amount we can do about that at the moment, but just store up your opinion and express it, at the ballot box. What we can do is control our response to what is going on around us, and therefore influence the outcome for ourselves.

This morning when I woke up, I was coughing and feeling pretty rough, I wanted to stay in bed and wallow in my self pity. I didn’t I went and stood in the bathroom and had a wash and brushed my teeth whilst feeling sorry for myself. I then got dressed full of self pity. I had a bowl of cornflakes whilst counting my aches and the times I had to stop and cough. I sighed and shuffled taking the dog for a walk to the end of the street, bemoaning the fact I had a headache. I fired up my work laptop without an ounce of enthusiasm. I huffed and puffed whilst opening my emails. I wrote a list of jobs for the morning, replied to a couple of emails. Wrote a kickstarter post for our working from home Facebook group. I started creating a leadership hub for our intranet page. I stared wistfully out of the window, coughed and remembered I had a headache. I found a great leadership website for NHS staff. I had some paracetamol for my headache. I remembered my chest was hurting. I sent off a couple of emails, I scan read a couple of articles for our leadership hub. I uploaded a couple of videos on difficult conversations to the hub. I had an uplifting conversation with my boss. I coughed, my chest hurt, and then my morning was over. I was exhausted, I had got quite a lot done in 4 hours. At the beginning of the day I did not feel like I could do anything. I managed quite a lot. I did not force myself to be positive. I allowed myself to feel what I was feeling but was I was feeling it I got on a did some stuff. The more stuff I did the less time I spent worrying about stuff I cannot do anything about. I got on and did what I needed and wanted to do.

If you feel fed up and out of sorts, allow yourself to feel that, but don’t let it stop you what you need to do. Don’t let your circumstances define you. Life is rubbish some of the time, life is great some of the time. Most of the time it is mish mash of both.

Today has most definitely been a mish mash of both. Embrace the happiness and acknowledge the pain.

Stay home, stay safe, and be a lert if you want.

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