An Inspiring Week

Last week I attended a coaching masterclass through work run by Andy Gilbert a coach of high repute. It was a truly inspiring day, and has given me so many ideas to take into my own coaching.

Not only did it give me inspiration to coach others but also to coach myslelf. During the day I set myself a new goal and looked at some of the goals I have already set for myself, just to check in with my commitment to achieve them.

So I have set a goal of writing a novel over the next year, as well as to continue to work towards being fitter and healthier both mentally and physically. I have set very specific goals with timescales. For instance I will have a finished manuscript in my hand on the 4th May 2018, to achieve this I have set myself a series of performance goals along the way. So I have started putting together a story drawing on the work I did writing my story of my life, and brainstorming some other ideas. Next is to develop an outline of the story. That is to come over the coming weeks.

With regards being fitter and healthier I have revisited my level of commitment to running. Over the past couple of weeks I have questioned why I wanted to continue running. I have pushed myself to get out there and run. I use an app that gradually increases the amount of time running, I am now up to 28 minutes, and the last 2 runs I have started to enjoy, during the run itself. This is quite remarkable as I hated the discomfort I felt in my back and legs and never enjoyed the running. What kept me going was the feeling of elation and achievement after the run. But now I have managed to get to a place in my head that makes me feel calm and contented. I have tried mindfulness exercises in the past with some success, but this time it feels so effortless and natural during my runs. My runs have turned into something I want to do to relax and de-stress. Running now gives me something worthwhile rather than just sore legs. 

However the problem I have is my food intake, my level of commitment to weight loss is some what suspect and I do need to re-examine why I want to lose weight. It has to be a reason that is more compelling than chocolate. Wish me luck. 

This week has been a positive, optimistic week, I have coached a lot, been running and started to enjoy. City got relagated but that has been the only blot on the week and I finished it off this evening cooking a barbecue in the sunshine. Tomorrow brings a new week of opportunity.

The Mix Tape of My 90s

As I mentioned in my previous blog when I tasked myself with putting together the soundtrack of my life so far it ended up being over 7 hours long, so I decided to imagine I was putting the music of a C90 tape, therefore restricting what I could include. That has been the best bit, going through all my music to come up with a playlist that at the moment best expresses my memory of that particular time in my life.

During the 90s I was in my 20s, I finished my Nurse Training both General Nursing and Children’s Nursing, met Lisa, bought a house and got married. Music was an important part of my life and at one point for a moment I tried out being in a band, after one gig I left that dream behind.

Our Nightclub of choice in the 90s was Spiders (home of the Pangalactic Gargleblaster), and was where I met Lisa. A lot of the music I have chosen for this mix tape reminds of Spiders. In the early 90s before we bought our first house we lived in an attic flat on Springbank, that used to be the old Silhouette Nightclub, and Radiohead especially reminds me of that time.

When I am coaching people who are not sure what they want to achieve in the future, I ask them to identify what their values, and their truths are to help them shape a future that will give them happiness. For a lot of people including myself this is more difficult than you think. By looking at your taste in music and the arts in general you can start to explore what makes you tick, what you think is important in life and how you think you should conduct your life. As well as raising awareness of your self it is also a great deal of fun putting together a playlist. Being happy and having positive emotions increases your creativity, therefore you are able to see more options that are available to you.

Give it a go it is really satisfying. If you want to discuss your future plans and goals get in touch I would be happy to discuss your options.

I have attached a link to each song so feel free to listen. If you have Apple Music the link to the playlist is at the bottom

Sabotage-Beatie Boys

Where It’s At-Beck

Coffee & TV-Blur

Song 2-Blur

Basket Case-Green Day

Cocaine-Jackson Browne

The Boatman-The Levellers

La Tristesse Durera-Manic Street Preachers

Enter Sandman-Metallica

Come As You Are-Nirvana

Some Might Say-Oasis

Here Comes Your Man-Pixies



High and Dry-Radiohead

Scar Tissue-Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Kingdom of Rain-The The

Blister In The Sun-Violent Femmes

Jeremy-Pearl Jam

Tijuana Lady-Gomez

Mix tape of my 90s

The mix tape of my teen years

The other week I shared 20 albums that have had an influence on me. I had so much fun that I thought I would compile a list of songs that I enjoy and have provided my soundtrack. To provide some parameters I imagined I was putting together a C90 mix tape, to ensure my list did not get too big and unwieldy.

So I tasked myself with putting together a 90 minute compilation that represented a soundtrack of my life. My first attempt was not completely successful. It is safe to say I got a little carried away. It consisted of over a 100 songs and was 7 hours in duration. I must admit it was great fun and triggered loads of wonderful memories. I decided however that music was too important part of my life to expect I could put a soundtrack of my whole life in to 90 minutes. So I put together an initial mix tape of my teenage years with a couple of infiltrators from my childhood.

The songs I have included do not represent important moments in my life, but are more songs that I particularly enjoyed listening then and listening to them some 30 years later has brought a smile to my face. They entertained me then and still do. What is striking is that very few of the songs I listened to at the time were contempary and were often from the previous decade. It is also interesting how much of an influence my older siblings had on my musical taste as well as my peers.

If you have Apple Music you can access the playlist via the link below.

Here is a list with some explanation of the reasons why I included the song.

She Moves Through The Fair-All About Eve: I was in love with Julienne Regan, and this is a beautiful song

Heaven and Hell-Black Sabbath: Ronnie James Dio had an amazing voice, I used to love singing along

Rosalita (come out tonight)-Bruce Springsteen: I heard this on the radio one Saturday night and thought it was brilliant

My Man-Eagles: On the Border is an Eagles album that is often overlooked, and this song is so beautiful

Joe’s Garage-Frank Zappa: Well it wouldn’t be a Matty mix tape without Zappa!

Don’t Say You Love Me-Free: Jonathon Gilmovitch had a Free album and this is my favourite song of the album

Rosie-Jackson Browne: my brother introduced me to Jackson Browne, I could have picked so many of his songs

Tangerine-Led Zeppilin: from my favourite Zep album

Mr Crowley-Ozzy Osbourne: why not

Closer To The Heart-Rush: A prog rock band with heart and soul, and Geddy Lee, the best Bass Player ever (perhaps)

Tempted-Squeeze: Eastside Story is a brilliant album

Breakfast In America-Supertramp: it just reminds me of living in Pippet Close, Gosport

Slow Train To Dawn-The The: I saw the film for the album on channel 4 and thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen

American Girl-Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: its such a cool song

Picture This-Blondie: my sister had Parallel Lines so I heard this song most evenings in the late 70s

Darlington County-Bruce Springsteen: this album was my introduction to the boss

Rasputin-Boney M: My dad brought me Night Flight to Venus back from Canada, it is surprisingly entertaining

Don’t Stop Me Now-Queen: Well?!!

Hull City, My Boys and Me

My old Sociology teacher Mrs Turner, once called me culturally deprived. At the time I wasn’t quite sure what she meant (I suppose that could have been down to my cultural deprivation). When I became an adult I understood what she meant. I had experienced very few traditional male influences during my childhood. I had no interest in mechanics, DIY or any other manly pursuits. When I was very young my Father was away at sea for much of the time, and when he was around never included me in such activities. When I was older and potentially more able to assist with changing the oil in the car, replacing light fittings or just using power tools in a macho way, my parents were divorced. I never went to watch football as Dad hated watching it, therefore when I was old enough to go by myself I never really had the interest or the emotional investment in a team.

My childhood had been dominated by female influences. Personally I never saw that as a deprivation other than when it comes to fixing anything or appearing at all macho I feel totally inadequate. If you want someone to change your tyre, I am not your man, but if you a feeling fed up and fancy a chat about it, then look no further.

As my boys got older I saw my chance to integrate them into male society, I couldn’t teach them how to change a tire or even drive, but I could introduce to the tribal experience of supporting your local football team (the route to male cultural integration).

So it started with taking them to the odd game and sitting in the West Stand Upper tier so we all could see the action better (I was a novice at going to football matches myself). Then we all got passes and went to every home game together. Me with my 2 boys, their eyes wide with excitement screaming and shouting at the players and the referee. I remember we played Burnley on my eldest birthday and we lost (I forget the score), he was furious, he spent 2 minutes at the end of the game shouting at the players as they left the pitch about how they had ruined his birthday, and it wasn’t about the fact they had lost, but more about the way they lost, it was fabulous to see.  Then there was another Burnley game, away this time, in fact our first away game, we were with a friend and I had popped to the toilet on my way back I could hear the crowd cheering as the team came out and my youngest was crying as he hadn’t expected such a loud response. As the game went on he relaxed and got into the flow by the time Geovanni was sent off he was stood on his chair screaming at the ref along with all the other fans, I wont repeat what he was chanting ( I am certain he didn’t know what it meant and was just copying).

I hadn’t taken them to the first play-off final, so the FA Cup semi-final was their first trip to Wembley. It still brings a tear to my eye thinking about it. They were watching their team from their home town play at Wembley, I cannot imagine what that must have felt like, and then to get to the final well that was incredible. Those are 2 days I will never forget, more for the fact that I shared it with my boys.

As my eldest as got older his interest in going to the football has dropped off and he doesn’t go anymore, however he still catches up on the results and likes to watch the highlights, but girls and music have temporarily taken over. However his home team is still the team he supports. So for the past 2 seasons it has just been me and Jack, and I love going to the football with him, it is 2 hours of chat about city, predicting the score and then dissecting the result.

The most important thing about supporting city with my boys, is the common memories that we share, in years to come we can think back to the FA Cup final the trip to Burnley when I was so hungover and probably still drunk that spilled my tea all over my pie and mash in the café before the match, and then Jack using some rather industrial language to describe what the referee does in his personal time.

Thank you Hull City for remedying my cultural deprivation and ensuring my children are never deprived.


My Top 20 Albums

On Friday I saw a few lists on Facebook of people’s top 10 bands. That got me thinking about how important music is in my life.

Since I was a young child music has played a huge part in my life (listening to it, I have no talent when it comes to producing it), and I am certain I am not alone. Whenever I need some head space I will put my headphones on and disappear to another world.

I will often use music to reflect my mood and reinforce how I feel. It gives me a sense of belonging (I am not alone in feeling this way, especially during my teenage years). However there was often times when I wanted escapism and entertaining, to transfer me to a world that was better than the one I was in. I tried to make a list of my top 10 favourite albums. The albums that have had the most influence on me. That was just so hard  to do so I came up with 20 albums that I have listened to and have influenced my out look on life. There is a bit of a mixture in genres. This is the music that has spoken to me the most over the past 40 years.

I found the whole exercise of reminiscing about my changing tastes in music very enjoyable, in fact I am going to have to go back through my back catalogue and listen to all these albums again. No doubt in another week I will have a list of 50 albums that have influenced me. In fact I can think of at least 10 more albums I could include.

Below is the list of the albums not in any particular order. Feel free to comment or even come up with you own list if you haven’t all ready. It is a great way to improve your mood, make you smile and give you a positive view of life.

All Aboard – Various Artists (this is my guilty pleasure the best children’s album ever)

all aboard

Infected- The The


Eat Em and Smile – David Lee Roth


Led Zeppilin III – Led Zeppilin


A Farewell to Kings – Rush


Songs From The Big Chair – Tears For Fears


Van Halen – Van Halen


Mind Bomb – The The


In Rainbows – Radiohead


The Bends – Radiohead


Rainbow Rising – Rainbow


Park Life – Blur

park life

Blur – Blur


10 – Pearl Jam


Joe’s Garage – Frank Zappa


Welcome to The Pleasuredome – Frankie Goes to Hollywood


Born In The USA – Bruce Springsteen


Grave Dancers Union – Soul Assylum


Odelay – Beck


Hotel California – Eagles


Giving up?

The other day I was thinking about the time when I gave up smoking. I was wondering to myself how I managed to give up. Did it take will power? I know that I have next to no will power so it couldn’t have been, just denying myself something for long enough that I would just give in and not want to smoke. There is no way I could just deny myself from something that I wanted especially something that I had done all my adult life.

So what was it that I did to ensure I would never want a cigarette again. In fact the thought of smoking now makes me physically ill. The smell of cigarette smoke and stale tobacco disgusts me. And yet less than 2 years ago, the mere thought of not having cigarettes would bring me out in a cold sweat. I would go as far as saying that I was terrified of not being able to smoke. I knew I needed to stop smoking for financial as well as physical reasons. Over time the reasons for stopping smoking got greater than the reasons to keep smoking. I started to plan how I would stop. The point was that I wanted to give up on my terms for my reasons. For that reason I didn’t tell anyone until I was ready. 

I had stopped smoking several times in the past, none of them were properly planned, and every time it was down not wanting to give up but thinking I should. I failed unsurprisingly, sometimes within hours. This time was different, I didn’t want a future with smoking in it. I aknowledged that smoking had been an important part of my life, but most of the reasons why I thought smoking was important was bogus and based on a psychological dependency to nicotine. When I examined my life, smoking did not decrease my stress, in fact it increased my stress, due to cost and having to try to hide my habit. So why after something stressful happened did I reach for my fags? Because the nicotine was telling my brain that. Smoking did not set me up for the day, in fact it slowed me down by reducing my oxygen levels, dehydrating me and giving me a headache and chest pain. Why would this be good for me!? When I looked at what it was doing it was a no brainer to stop. That is when it clicked, I was not going to deny myself anything, in fact I was setting myself free, smoking was denying me a life.

Saying that, nicotine still had a hold on me, and stopping completely terrified me. I mean truly terrified me, I still remember that visceral terror I felt when thinking about the day I was stopping. So I bought myself some nicotine gum. The gum was someone to hold my hand whilst I stepped off into the abyss of the non smoking world. That is exactly what it felt like, it felt like stepping into a terrifying unpredictable world. Clearly the reality was nothing like that at all. Nothing happened! For a few weeks I dutifully took the gum 3 times a day. Then one day I just decided that it was just too much trouble chewing the disgusting gum, so  I just stopped.

The key to stopping anything that is destructive or bad for you is to give yourself a reason to choose a life without it. Denying yourself something as a long term plan is likely to end in failure. You must see a compelling future without whatever it is you want to stop. Changing how you look at your life can have a profound effect on your life. 

We are amazing never tell yourself you cannot do something, based on the type of person you think you are. I never thought that I could give up smoking. 

If you are struggling to change something in your life, get in touch.

My Hull

When I am searching for inspiration for teaching or when having my lunch I will look out of my office window and stare at wonder over my city of Hull and the East Yorkshire countryside, no doubt all you can see on the photo is the roof. All I can see is a big sky and green spaces. 

I know you have looked at the picture and think I need my eyes testing. But when looking in reality rather than a picture, the surrounding area does stand out. 

Maybe it is just that I am in love with the city and surrounding area. I fell in love at first sight, 28 years ago, when I came for an interview (twice in fact). 

There was just something about it. Underrated under stated and completely wonderful. Everyone I met was welcoming, without being overly familiar, just a matter of fact intimacy you get when an old friend pops in for a cuppa. 

I knew then that I would live here for the rest of my life.

After I moved here it just got better. Newland Avenue, Pools Corner, Hessle Road, the Marina, Minerva, Spiders. Hull was just so different so amazing, so much fun. Best of all the rest of the world didn’t know it was here.  It felt so exclusive. 

Everyone that spends anytime here falls in love (those that have any taste). The city is full of people that came to visit and have stayed. 

I was 18 when I moved here to start my nurse training. On occasion I would miss my family, so I would wander down to the marina, and sit looking out over the Humber, to this day it is still a place that gives me comfort. 

Hessle Road and Newland Avenue, were a revelation, with shops like Setams, and Pools Corner, I loved browsing around both, you could spend hours in them, sadly both shops are no longer around and the world is lesser place. 

Then there was Spiders, the best student nightclub in the world. Incredibly cheap to get in, an unfathomable admission policy,  new and interesting cocktails such as a Brown Bomber, Pink Pudsey, and a Pangalactic Gargleblaster. It is still there so if you have never been, put on your ripped jeans, an old t-shirt and get yourself to New Cleveland street on a Friday or Saturday night and have yourself a Pangalactic Gargleblaster. You won’t regret it (well you might).

So 2017 is Hull City of Culture year. So far it has been brilliant. However there is one problem. There are now thousands of people that have found out have incredible Hull is. 

It is lovely that everyone likes Hull, but it was a hidden gem that has been unearthed and I am a little worried that Hull loses its vitality and becomes a curiosity for tourists. The one thing that heartens me is that not everything is finished, and the Hullensian spirit of doing it there own way when they want shines through. Hull doesn’t fit in a box.

I would not want to be anywhere else.