Dear hormones

Dear Hormones,

What are you playing at? Seriously, I thought we, as a body, were all in this together; fighting against the odds of EDS and Heart Failure, beating them against all expectations and doing a pretty impressive job of it actually.  Then, you took it upon yourselves to go off-piste and take control in, frankly, a hostile-coup!  I have been kidnapped and need to be rescued before all the things I know about myself and who I am fail to exist!

Menopause, peri or otherwise, you need to take a long-hard look at your behaviour and attitude to this relationship.  You’re walking all over the rest of the bodily functions and just making decisions without consultation, or warning, and expecting the rest of us to keep up.  What about some instructions or case-studies to ponder before being taken down a path we did not choose?

Let’s start with emotions; I have always been an emotional person, driven to hasty outbursts of love, tears or anger, not one to hide how I feel about things.  I had them pretty much under control as a woman approaching 50 though, and could usually decide appropriate locations to share emotions that might impact others.  Now, however, you’ve decided that I need shaking up a bit and even the mention of a sad-pet-story or a child telling her dad she loves him, reduces me to a wreck, crying uncontrollably, with snot-bubbles and everything.  I heard Michael Buble singing this morning and cried for almost an hour.  When John innocently entered the room and asked what was wrong, I started all over again.

And let’s not even begin to talk about Politics or I’ll be ranting for hours about the injustices on the planet and whom I believe to be responsible for them.  This is often followed by me throwing things!  Seriously, I had to replace a whole set of glasses last week as we were down to our last three.  I go outside almost daily and throw something at the wall, just so I won’t do anything worse.  John is learning to spot the signs and has started suggesting we go and cut wood in these moments as I achieve so much more that physically I thought possible when filled with this overwhelming urge.

Night time seems to be your chance to really punish me though, with sweats that mean I have to shower at 2am and anxiety like I’ve never experienced before. I’m worried about everything at night; from our ongoing struggle to sort our accounts out from when I had my surgery to whether I will make it my 50th this autumn, to what might cause the house to burn down.  And each worry seems to real, so important, that I am totally unable to resolve any of them with a sense of my usual calm.

I am horrible to John, to myself and even on occasion to our pets.  I am ashamed to say I shouted at Branston (our dog) yesterday, just because he made me jump when he put his head in my lap.  He just wanted to let me know he’d picked up my mood and could help, but I shouted at him.  I hated myself for a whole day for that.  I cried over it every time I thought about it.  Thank you for that, dear hormones.

I tell myself every day that I will take control and “own” my response to your constant changing, and that I can get through this without being awful or angry or ridiculously sad.  And so far, every day, you do your best to scupper my plans.  Well, okay, I get it, you want my attention and you want to be noticed.  I NOTICED!  YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION!  Now please, can we attempt to work together on this?

Yours, in hope,

Dinah

Choosing “Happy”

masks

Today I’m choosing  “Happy” as my mood.  I’m making the decision to only share positive and uplifting things today; things that make me feel happy and are likely to have the same impact on others.  Today I’m choosing not to share posts with negative headlines or those images of war that move me to tears of frustration, anger and a sense of hopelessness for the world.  Today, I choose to share only the happy things.

Is this possible?  Is this a “real” way to live?  I believe  it is a choice that has a big part to play in our overall contentment levels.  I am not a fan of the “Happy Clappy” approach – the idea that if I think only good and wonderful things then that is all that I will attract into my life.  I also believe that the only Secret to a happy life is the realisation that there is No Secret!  So, why this focus on “Happy” and how does that sit with being real about your emotions?

If I choose to focus on the positive things in my daily world, I start to notice that they far outweigh the negative things; I am lucky to be able to say that.  The truth is, if we’re not living in the war zones we’re reading about, then we are living a happy life.  Sure, we’ve got things around us that can pull us down, make us feel frustrated, hard-done-by and even depressed.  But in honesty, we are the privileged ones, the ones with “First world worries” and when we actually choose to see this, the lives we live do take on a new sense of happiness and joy.

How about it? Ready to join me an focus on Happy today?  I’d love to hear what you notice and appreciate as a result.

Warm wishes

Dinah

At any given moment – you can make the choice

you can choose your story

 

I’ve always loved this quote.  “At any given moment, you have the power to say ‘this is not how the story is going to end'”.  It’s tough to see it sometimes, when you’re so deep into your own issues, your own problems and head-talk.  It can be easier to say “there’s nothing I can do about it.”  And it can seem there is no choice because of illness or circumstances.  I do believe we always have some element of choice; whether it’s our attitude, the way we deal with a crisis or the challenges we take on to find a new way.

I’m facing my own story head-on and saying “I can re-write the next part.  I can choose a new ending and design it my way.”  I face daily challenges with my health and could easily embrace the ending that was written for me by “experts”.  It might save lots of energy and disappointment just to take their version and go along with the script.  Indeed, to many looking-on it would seem inevitable; why would you challenge your story? your destiny?

Well, with absolutely no due-respect, I say “I’m choosing to write my own ending.  Watch this space!”

How will you choose to write your story?

Dinah x

Give the gift of saying “Thank You”

accepting a compliment with a simple Thank You can feel difficult,  Accept that it's not about you.

“Really? What this old thing?”
“You’re joking, this makes my bum look enormous!”
“That’s sweet of you to say; when did you last get your eyes tested?”……

Sound familiar?  What is it that makes it so hard to accept a compliment at face-value and respond with “Thank you”?  What is the force that prevents so many women enjoying something that was intended to lift their day, to acknowledge something about them that prompted another person to say “Wow!”?

For many years I was convinced that accepting a compliment with a “thank you” was somehow saying “I know.  Yes, I am fabulous, thanks for noticing”;  of course, in my head this was done in a highly dramatic arrogant tone that was, frankly, repulsive.  I visualised people walking away and whispering to each other “I only said it to make her feel better!”  And of course, I gained little from these encounters except an opportunity to emotionally beat myself up, to remind myself I felt less than pretty, less than perfect.

Then I learned an interesting lesson from a friend;  accepting a compliment is not about ME.  When I allow someone to tell me I look great and greet this with a smile and a “Thank you”,  I give them a gift.  When people pay us a compliment, they do so with the intention of lifting our mood, making us feel great, making us glow.  When we treat that compliment, that gift, with contempt, we are showing them we don’t trust them, don’t value them.

When we accept the praise and the compliment, we allow them to enjoy that moment when someone unwraps a gift and you know you found exactly the right thing; they smile, the smile travels to their eyes which start to shine, they want to hold the gift up and show the world and you know that they understand why you chose it, that you’ve been paying attention, that they matter to you.

Focus on the person paying you the compliment today and thank them for taking the trouble to choose the perfect gift by giving them one in return – you’ll be surprised the impact “Thank you” can have on you both.

Dinah x

Time to review…

As we approach the end of 2012, it’s a great time to take a life review; I  like to think of this process as a “Life RevYou” it’s not about goals you set and whether you’ve achieved them, or berating yourself for the things you didn’t get done.  A Life RevYOU is about YOU.  How far you’ve come in your life and where you want to go.  You the person, you the woman.

I find it helpful to start with photos.  I’ve been looking at pictures with my brother when I was four and he was six.  The way he holds my hand in almost every picture, already taking the role of protector.  I think of the slight lisp I had, the hearing problems that made me reluctant to speak up and how much that has changed!  Being a visual person, I love to surround myself with pictures so I create a board with pictures that show me my journey as part of my Life RevYOU.

Next, write yourself a letter.  Address it to “Dear You” and let you know all the things you’re proud of.  The things you know have taken courage to overcome, the little things that nobody else will know are a struggle for you or take determination to complete.  Let yourself know how great you’re looking – go on, it’s for your eyes only.  Remind yourself of the daily tasks you complete, that are routine to everyone else, and how important they are.  My letter to myself from last year is still on my wall in the office.  I glow every time I read it.

The final part of the RevYOU is to be honest about where you’re going from here.  What do you want to add to that letter next year?  What one thing are you going to do more of to increase your own sense of worth, your own well-being?  Remember, the smallest steps are the most important, so set yourself something you are not only able to achieve, but committed to achieving.  Mine for 2013 is this “I’m proud of you for taking swimming up again, I know that was a big step, that you overcame lots of personal fears and you stuck with it.”

I’d love to know how you get on with your own Life RevYOU.

Dinah 🙂

Making mood choices

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“Don’t be so moody” a much-repeated comment from mothers of teenagers, partners (of both sexes) and many long-suffering friends.  Yet is strikes me that this is a strange remark;  we are constantly moody.  All our actions (or lack of action) can be influenced by our mood.  Every conversation or interaction will be impacted by our mood.  Every decision we take, choice we make, every moment of our day is moody.  Whether it is positive or negative is surely the real issue.

I do remember being grumpy in my teens; I was angry a good deal of the time.  I chose to let the world know it by reflecting it in my mood and my appearance.  I gave off a huge vibe that said “back off, unless you’re ready for an argument” and it worked.  I achieved what I set out to achieve.  I annoyed the grown-ups so they left me alone and I fascinated people of my own age who believed I was brave, anarchic, different.  My mood dictated my surroundings and my interactions with others.

I live in constant pain.  It’s part of a condition I have called EDS. It means I start my day, every day, by feeling the pain spread through my joints as I sit up.  Some days are easier than others.  The prospect of certain tasks could fill me with dread and allow my mood to plummet into a negative place.  So, knowing this, and knowing that the mood I choose to start my day with will have a huge impact on it, I start every morning by declaring my mood for the day ahead.  This morning, after a challenging night with the third dislocation in as many days, I chose caring as my mood for today.  Caring for myself as well as for others.  Caring about how I sit, to make sure I’m not in pain.  Caring about eating regularly and giving myself plenty of breaks from the keyboard to rest my arm.

Seeing that I have the choice, that I can decide my own mood has been key to my ability to battle the odds in my personal and business journeys.  I’m not suggesting that it’s always easy and indeed there are times when I feel the morning’s conviction slipping away.  That’s ok.  That is my signal to stop and observe.  What am I doing that is causing this change in my mood?  Have I slipped into an old habit or way of approaching something that has a negative impact on how I feel?  I often have conversations, out loud, with myself at these moments and ask myself “ok, so you recognise this right?  What did you do to create this?”  Seeing the mood-habits we create, and asking ourselves why we choose to repeat them is a big step on the journey to owning our mood, our ability to chose it and take back ownership of it.

If you’re finding yourself going up and down on the mood swing, here are my top four tips for influencing my mood:

1) Start your day by choosing your mood and declare it.  If you keep a diary, write it in there and you can look back and decide which were your best mood choices.

2) Take ownership.  Stop saying things like “I’m in a bad mood” or “I’m moody”.  Reinforcing these messages becomes an excuse.  Own your moods and decide that you are able to change each one of them, at a moments’ notice.

3) Acknowledge your positive moods.  It can be easy to focus on the negative, to remember the impact a bad or low mood has had on our day.  Start looking for the positive moods, the uplifting or successful moments.  Acknowledge these, and give no time to talking or thinking about the “moody” moments.

4) Take a look at your environment.  As more and more of us work from home, we become isolated and this can have a huge influence on our mood.  Is the space you are working in a positive one?  Do you look forward to going into your office, or dread it?  You don’t have to redecorate to change the feeling a room creates.  Simply putting up pictures, cards, favourite quotes and knick-knacks can make it an environment that lifts your mood.

Take that “I’m moody” label off today – it really doesn’t suit or serve you.  I’d love to know what positive moods you observed.

Dinah

It’s not always easy to choose

when you're caught between a rock and a hard place it can be hard to see you have a choice

This morning on Twitter, I was reminded by someone that it’s not always easy to choose your mood; that for some, every day is a challenge and “managing a smile” is about their limit.  I can empathise with this position, with this choice.  I remember times when I’ve felt that everything was simply too much effort, too much like an up-hill struggle.  And I made a choice; a choice to embrace positive thinking, to allow that to influence my mood and my outcomes.

I am not suggesting that it is easy.  I am suggesting it is a choice and like many choices we make in our lives, there are times when it is more difficult than others.  Deciding that it is a choice and one that we can make, gives us back ownership of it, gives us responsibility for ourselves.  Many people will find this overwhelming and are, therefore, reluctant to accept that it is a choice they can make.

When circumstances present themselves that impact our lives, we can often feel we have no choice.  We are not in control of what is happening to us and therefore we believe choice is not part of the picture.  What we can choose is how we react to this situation; how we choose to deal with or embrace the challenge is very much our choice.

It is also important to keep it real.  Just because you’ve made a choice to be positive does not mean you’ll never have another day where you feel down, that it’s all too much.  As a family, after my accident, we created a “why me?” day every month.  Every member of the family got the chance to say “it’s not fair.  Why me?”  to openly talk about the things we were finding a challenge, the things that brought us down or made daily positivity a struggle.  By acknowledging what we were all experiencing we gave each other permission to keep it real.

Start with a small step; think about one thing you react to that always brings you down, zaps your energy and leaves you feeling deflated.  You can choose to change the way you react.  Create a new scenario – write it out if that helps – and detail how you will be reacting from now on.  If your current response is to get cross, choose to get sassy or feisty instead.  If you would normally get upset, choose to get determined or confident.  There is a person on Twitter who used to “get under my skin” and when I saw how that made me react, I decided to choose that, from then on, I would react by being grateful.  Grateful for the amazing people I connect with who make me feel positive and energised.

Give some thought today to how you’ve chosen to react to what’s going on in your life, right now.  Are you ready to choose to do that differently?

Dinah 🙂

Choose positive thinking

positive thinking. you can choose to think positive, to focus on a good outcome
Choose a positive you today

 

Choosing to think positively is not going to make all your problems disappear overnight; however, it is going to make a huge, positive difference to how you deal with, challenge, accept or fight these challenges and, as a result and with persistence, a more positive outcome.  Positive thinking is a choice and it can become a healthy habit.

Sound like mumbo-jumbo?  All that “the Universe will deliver” language you’ve heard before.  Well, I make no apologies for that.  I choose positive thinking every day and it has had a profound impact on my life.  Real, measurable impact.  I choose to walk, having been told I would never walk again.  I choose to have a daughter (now 22 and utterly amazing) after I was told I could not and would not have children.  I choose to work and fill my life with activities and challenges after being told I would not even live to see my 40’s.

So has choosing positive thinking been an easy, snap decision that resolved all these challenges in the blink of an eye? Of course not; it has been a choice I make every day, a habit I have chosen to create and embrace.  Has choosing this positive attitude had an impact on my results – unquestionably.  I choose my own outcomes because I look at what is possible, not what is impossible; I focus on what I can do not what I cannot; I celebrate my achievements rather than focussing on my wobbles.  I choose positive thought and I get results.

What can you choose to be positive about in your thinking from today?  I’d love to hear what you choose.

Dinah

Choose colour

   “We can always spot you in a crowd, Dinah – you’re the one who’s wearing bright colours”.  It’s true, I love colour.  My hair is proof of that  and has been all the colours of the rainbow over the years.  Being known for colour in a sea of corporate grey always got me noticed and made me easy to find at the large events I used to manage.

I’ve also noticed the effect colour has on my own mood.  I know if I choose bright colours to wear, I lift my mood.  When I wear grey I feel – grey!  Colours allow me to make other people smile and often prove a great way to start a conversation.  I’ve met some great people thanks to my purple coat (well it is fabulous) and you’d be amazed how often women ask me what my hair colour is.

I bought a fabulous new umbrella this week – bright red with spots – and am looking forward to it raining so I can use it 😉

Choose some colour for your day today and see what impact it has.

Have a colourful Thursday

Dinah

A choice for yourself

  I’ve made a choice for myself today.  A choice to give myself time with my daughter.  Time to be together and talk, share, laugh, listen, get creative – and yes, probably go shopping too!  Both Hannah and I run our own businesses and by the very nature of her work, Hannah runs the offices of several other business owners too (all achieved virtually from her home office).  It would be easy for us to choose to be too busy for our time together, so we choose to make it as important as every other part of our businesses.

Time for yourself may seem like a choice reserved for those who have already achieved success – and financial freedom.  However, it is making the choice to invest time in yourself that will allow you to achieve what you are striving for.  Working “flat out” to keep  your head above water, to find your next client, to reach that target will get results; but how long will it take until the result you get is exhaustion, burn-out and bad decisions?

Hannah and I have arranged a half-day together every other month for the year.  We’ve already scheduled all the dates in our diaries.  We look forward to our H&D Days for a good couple of weeks each time and love planning how we will spend the time together.

Choose to put some regular time for yourself in your schedule – make it as important as any other time you invest in your business.  You, after all, are your greatest asset.

Have a terrific Tuesday

Dinah