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Updated: Nov 22, 2022

I recently went to my first Hula Fit class. I’d seen the flier for it at the bus stop and it stuck out to me for being unusual and fun. I’d never been able to hula hoop so I thought I’d go along and check it out.

For a while now I’ve been regularly writing down lists of “20 things I’d love to do” or “20 things that bring me joy” and then making sure I do at least one a day. Or when I’m feeling depleted, I look at the list and do something from it to refill my tank.

Hula-hooping was not on the list but the mantra from another coach “the more frivolous the better” was at the back of mind when I saw the Hula Fit flier. So I booked in for a trial.

There were 4 of us in the class. When I arrived, two ladies in their 60s were already hula-hooping away with bright pink and white hoops. It really made me happy to see it because it was so unexpected. It filled me with delight and reminded me of how I felt watching the scene from Ted Lasso, when Coach Beard gets up and starts hula hooping in the middle of a club. It was so unexpected and inspiring. The surprise element was that Coach Beard was so good at it because normally he is a serious character. This clip of him hula hooping reveals his true spirit.

So at class, I started off tentatively, at first only managing to keep the hoop going for a few seconds but with good instructions from the teacher and cheers of support from the other hula hooping ladies, I gradually started getting the hang of it and it felt great! And whilst doing it, I tuned out of my “to do list” and was completely in the moment.

Lessons I learned:

  • Listen to and trust your inner voice When I saw the Hula fit flyer at the bus stop, it jumped out at me immediately as something I’d love to try. But my inner voice kicked in with “you don’t have time”, “you’ll be no good at it”. But because I’m focused on self-care and what will nourish me, I managed to over-ride this sabotaging voice and contacted the instructor for a free trial. Working with a coach can help you to tune out the “inner dialogue” that talks you out of doing what will bring you joy. A coach will not buy into the limiting beliefs you hold about yourself such as “I’m too old, too big, too clumsy …to do…” and instead help you to tune into your own real desires so that you can spot opportunities for joy when they pop up.

  • Play and experiment with something new. (the more frivolous the better) Play, movement and humour is one of Dan Siegel’s 7 keys to Neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to grow and change. He says, in order to make mistakes without perfectionism or shame, we need to step into a place of playfulness and even humour. Being playful puts the brain in an open state for learning. All baby animals and humans learn through play, which allows mistakes to be made (and learned from) in a safe environment. I dropped my hula hoop so many times in that first class but it was a safe encouraging environment to keep going and improving. With a coach you can play and experiment with ideas, think creatively around an area you may be stuck in, get encouragement to get out there and do it even though you think you might fail.

  • Set a goal to learn a new skill It could be something physical like hula hooping, learning to paint water colour, crocheting; something you have to learn how to master. Dan Siegel also says In relation to neuroplasticity “New experiences stimulate neuronal connections. If we don’ t know how to do something, the cognitive patterns for it don’t exist in our brains, thus new connections must be made. In order to maintain the benefits, however, these experiences have to increase in challenge in order to create new growth”. Learning a skill that you could potentially master like hula hooping, adding on new tricks, dancing to music with the hoop, ticks this box of improving my neuroplasticity. A coach can challenge you to set new goals and support you as you learn new life enhancing skills, this could also be trying out new ways of being.

  • Put self care first Use the practice of writing down 20 things that nourish you and make you feel alive/"up", on a regular basis. Most “up” activities are of two main types:

  1. Mastery: skills that we learn, and basic things we need to do to make life organised and run smoothly.

  2. Pleasure: things we enjoy doing e.g. taking a long bath, eating our favourite food, going for a walk, seeing a friend, watching a good film, listening to music etc.

When people are very busy they tend to give up nourishing activities that seem less “urgent”. This tends to deplete energy rather than boost it. With less energy they cut off even more nourishing activities - setting up a vicious cycle leading to exhaustion. To counteract this, its good to choose to spend more time on “up” activities and less time on “down” ones. Hula Fit is definitely an “up” activity for me. A coach helps you to stay on track with your self care, facilitates the generation of new ideas for “up” activities and keeps you accountable to doing them on a regular basis.

  • Commitment There’s nothing like having an accountability partner. It’s easy to allow other people’s needs and wants to take priority over our own. Signing up for 4 x Hula Hooping classes has made me accountable to going every week to get better, even when I don’t feel like it or I feel I have more “important things” to do. Having a coach as an accountability partner helps you stay focused on your goal. Nothing will change if you don't carve out the time to experiment and play. Scheduling regular coaching sessions gives you space to focus on yourself and what matters to you so that over time you will create the changes you desire in your life.

So if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired trying to change career, improve a relationship, start a project; counter intuitive as it sounds, get inspired by learning something new or taking up a new hobby. Look at Jo Moseley who took up Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) aged 51 and became the first woman to stand up paddle coast-to-coast, from Liverpool to Goole. She says she became “a warrior not a worrier”. How about BMX racing, lego building, ice skating… It may seem frivolous amongst the “to dos” but for me, going to the hula fit class gave me inspiration to write this blog post and my coach gave me the accountability to finish it.

Do get in touch to discuss how coaching can help you ignite the spark to move forward in your life and keep you accountable.

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

When I watched the recent Dolly Parton documentary “Here I Am”, I felt so inspired by her life story and fascinated by what people said about her. The stand out comment for me was from her friend Jane Fonda who said that:

her life is the life of a feminist which means a woman who has fought to realise herself, to actualise her full self”.

Self-actualisation describes the fulfilment of your full potential as a person. Self-actualisation is at the top of the pyramid of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow believed that people have an inborn desire to be self-actualised, that is, to be all they can be. To achieve this ultimate goal, however, a number of more basic needs must be met. This includes the need for food, safety, love, and self-esteem.

Dolly Parton has overcome adversity and reached the top of this pyramid. What an achievement. She has broken so many glass ceilings in the music business while still remaining true to herself. How does she do it?


Find the courage to be yourself

Dolly’s favourite song “Coat of Many Colours” about the coat her mom made for her out of rags, is about confidence, bullying and acceptance. She says “it's ok to be different, it's ok not to be like everyone else, it's wonderful that you are who you are”. Jane Fonda says “Dolly is very conscious of self, she has created a mythic, iconic character entirely real, but enhanced" and describes her as being “more unique than anyone else”.

Refine Your Talent

Dolly has a unique voice, is a brilliant song writer and is a fantastic entertainer. Alongside this natural talent she has interest, dedication, focus and persistence. She’s been performing on stage since she was ten years old and has always wanted to stand out and be a star. Along the way she has honed her craft learning from legends like Porter Wagoner, appearing on his TV show for 7 years, then moving on to get with different record labels and management. She can connect deeply to her audience and she is funny. Her creativity is astounding, she has written over 3000 songs. In 2019 she celebrated 50 years since performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. She says she knows what it is like to build a career and not have it handed to you.

Carve out your boundaries

Dolly has been married to Carl Dean for over 50 years, she met him early on in her career but Carl is rarely seen in public. At that time her producers didn’t want her to be married, so she kept her marriage a secret for a year to demonstrate to them that she could be successful and married. She knew early on that she would have to carve out boundaries before she got eaten alive. She foresaw in her career what she was going to have to do, to keep her sanity, private and space.

Surround yourself with positive supportive people

Throughout her career, Dolly has developed strong working relationships with her session musicians and when she tours, her band has mainly been made up of family members. Lilly Tomlin and Jane Fonda, her co-stars in the film 9 to 5, talk about the camaraderie they had on and off set and how they used to laugh hard.

Make decisions that work for you

One of the best decisions Dolly Parton ever made in her life was not giving the copyright of the song “I will always love you” to Elvis Presley’s manager. It demonstrated her astuteness as a business woman. 20 years on, when Whitney Houston recorded it, it made Dolly $10 million in royalties. She learned how to stand up for herself early on in her career.

Don’t be pigeon-holed Dolly expresses herself in anyway she feels like: as a country singer, crossing over to pop with the song “Here You Come again” , becoming an actress in the woman-led film 9 to 5, returning to her bluegrass roots and even headlining the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury. Her ex-manager Sandy Gallin says “Dolly likes to move on”... “She only likes to chew her tobacco once”.

So if you want to channel your inner Dolly, please get in touch to discuss how coaching can help to increase your confidence, authenticity and empowerment to help move you forward in life or career.

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Updated: Nov 24, 2022

Where is the "just right" point between too little stimulation and too much stress?

I recently took a fascinating course on Neuroscience and Coaching, looking at the brain’s plasticity how it can grow and change throughout our lifetime and how coaching can be a catalyst to this process. I learned about the latest brain research into how we think, feel and change, and explored what actually works to create real, lasting transformation. There used to be a school of thought that it is difficult for the brain to change, once it's moved past teenage years, but neuroscience proves that brain continues to change given the right environmental factors. The old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is simply not true.

One of the topics we covered on the course was stress, not only looking at the brain in relation to having too much stress but also what happens when we have too little engagement. Have you ever been in a job where you’ve been under-stimulated OR have you been in a job where you feel you’re never on top of anything?

In my recruitment days, I worked on-site for a particularly demanding client group. I was putting in long hours and bringing work home at weekends because I couldn’t keep up with the pace. The result was I made lots of mistakes, e-mailing people the wrong information, there were lots of tears and I wasn’t able to think clearly. On the flip side, I’ve also worked in a recruitment role where I was under-stimulated and had similar feelings of not being able to think clearly because I felt bored and underutilised.

In this course, I learned about the pre-frontal cortex (PFC), the part of the brain that is responsible for our levels of stress. The PCF plays a role in many important executive functions or high-level thinking such as:

  • goal direction

  • abstract concepts

  • memory encoding and retrieval

  • decision-making

  • understanding what others are thinking

  • delaying gratification

What’s so interesting is that when the pre-frontal cortex has too little stimulation OR too much stimulation/stress the outcome is the same. Both lead to functional impairment such as foggy thinking, poor impulse control, poor decision-making, poor memory, lack of empathy.

In other words too little engagement and too much stress both take us to the same ineffective place. We can think of this in relation to the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears: when Goldilocks tastes the porridge, one is too cold, one is too hot and one is just right. In order to be at our best, we need to be in balance in that just right place.

So how do we get to this just right place?

Awareness of where you are on the curve is the starting point and from there you can start to think about how you can move along the curve. Working with a coach can help you see options you might not have seen because you've become tired and your thinking foggy. You may feel powerless to manage stress in a workplace when there is constant movement to do more with less. However you can make small changes which will improve your mental-well-being.

One organisation I really like is Mindapples, they promote the simple concept of 5 a day for the mind, just like we’re encouraged to eat our 5-a day for our body. Mindapples can be things like walking in nature, yoga, knitting, surfing, meeting a friend. What is your 5 a day?

Another organisation Action for Happiness has devised 10 Keys To Happier Living which are: Giving, Relating, Exercising, Appreciating, Trying Out, Direction, Resilience, Emotion, Acceptance and Meaning.

What do you do to manage stress? Contact me for more information on coaching and stress management.

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