Glass Half Full? A review of Susan Jeffers Book ‘Feel the Fear & Do it Anyway’

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I must admit that when ‘Feel the Fear’, a self-development classic, was suggested for book group I didn’t feel overly compelled to read it – at a time in my life when I feel pretty confident about most aspects of my life I didn’t think reading about ‘fear’ would be relevant to me.  But as a book-group read of the month, I had to give it a shot… however, upon embarking, I quickly realised some of the fear that Jeffers talks about can also be that lesser feeling of apprehension, nervousness or the inner nagging ‘chatterbox’ who overthinks that I can actually quite easily relate to… With this in mind, I found and share some great nuggets of advice and inspiration:

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You will handle it!

“If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you have to fear? The answer is nothing”

The premise of the book is basically all about building resilience and personal confidence in your life so you can be sure that whatever life throws at you that you will handle it.  Jeffers reminds us that fear, apprehension and anxiety are completely normal feelings that everyone experience.

You should embrace it!

In fact, she suggests that if you don’t feel any fear you are not stretching yourself and growing… things that I agree are part of a well lived and enjoyable life.  If it is the case that everyone feels fear but many people just get on and do things, taking risks and embracing life then fear is not the issue – it is in fact us!  We need to re-educate ourselves to see fear as a necessary part of our lives.

You are in control & you can choose!

 “Simply notice that your chatterbox is making you a victim, and commit yourself to replacing it with a loving voice”

We need to accept responsibility that we have the power over our own perceptions, reactions and actions.  Jeffers asserts we have a plethora of choices open to us at any time and we are free to choose how to respond or which path to take.  We can choose to quieten that inner chatterbox and we can choose whether we feel we are the driver or the passenger in our lives.  The journey analogy continues to work well with Jeffers as she reminds us that if we see life as a journey or a continual process of learning that we can’t make wrong decisions.  She urges us to see our lives as investigations or studies, ‘the university of life’ where we are continually learning.  It is in this way we can never lose and will feel more comfortable taking risks.

Easier said than done!

Of course, it’s all fine and well to say, just be a glass half full but how might one really quieten that chatterbox or Feel the Fear AND Do it Anyway?

She gives us some practical advice to follow:

  1. Creating a Book of Abundance: start a beautiful notebook where you start to list positive things about your life, past and present and don’t stop until you reach 150. Each day add to it anything that is great! e.g. beautiful sky, new clothes, haircut, nice food etc.
  2. Affirmations: Having those positive and motivational affirmations or quote surrounding you in everyday life, posted around the house, read to yourself in the morning etc. Something I personally have tried but always forget to read!
  3. Create a balanced life-grid (my naming): this would be something like a 9 box grid covering all aspects you want to be important in what you would consider a great life and develop each part so you will be happy with it. In this way, if one part of your life feels tough or challenging at a moment in time you will have other areas where things are still doing well, making you more resilient.

Feel the Fear & Do it Anyway is a book with a huge number of thoughts and ideas, and I imagine different people would have a different take-out depending on situation, circumstance or current state of mind!  However, I would say, it’s a classic for a reason and encourage you to give it a shot, it’s a quick read and despite being a little woowoo in places there are some interesting ideas and it can really help to give you perspective and encourage you to take a few more risks…

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Cat Haigh is the founder of Sorting Self, an on & offline community aimed at empowering and inspiring busy mums to be their best selves.  Currently Sorting Self holds monthly talks with expert speakers and a monthly self-development book group in North London.  For more information and to join the mailing list go to https://sortingself.com/

 

 

 

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2017 Great Self Development Reads… Read on…

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After a few friendly recommendations an then a bit of a walk round Foyles New Year suggestions as well as a look at the classics I’ve come up with a few suggestions for some 2017 development reads… See what you think…

1. Leap Year: How to make big decisions, be more resilient and change your life for good by Helen Russell
Former Marie Claire editor now living in Denmark, spends a year trying to overhaul every area of her life and sharing the results with the reader

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2. A Mindfullness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax
Known TV presenter and now distinguished academic Ruby Wax tells us how we can remain calm, healthy and happy in a hectic world.  I saw her speak a few years ago at The School of Life, very engaging and entertaining.

3. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
This famous book will get you focusing on all the big stuff – I recently read this, having avoided it for years but he surprisingly is focused on people and their whole multi-faceted lives putting family first etc.  An interesting read and of great practical use

4. We Should all Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Bestselling and prize winning writer’s book based on her Ted talk where she investigates what feminism means for modern women today

5. Thrive by Adrianna Huffington
In this deeply personal book, Arianna talks candidly about her own challenges with managing time and prioritising the demands of a career and two daughters. Drawing on the latest groundbreaking research and scientific findings in the fields of psychology, sports, sleep and physiology that show the profound and transformative effects of meditation, mindfulness, unplugging and giving, Arianna shows us the way to a revolution in our culture, our thinking, our workplaces, and our lives.

6. Hurrah for Gin by Katie Kirbi
A book on parenting with no useful advice.  Based on Katie’s blog, shares beautifully honest anecdotes and illustrations from the parenting frontline.

7. 50 Self-Help Classics: 50 Inspirational Books to Transform Your Life from Timeless Sages to Contemporary Gurus by Tom Butler-Bowdon
Why read them all when we can get someone to tell us which are the ones we really should read  – this shortcut book receives four and half stars on amazon!

Perhaps there is something here you fancy.  If you are local to Muswell Hill please join us for the monthly book group – give me a shout sortingself@gmail.com and sign up to the blog to hear more about the books we have read so far, reviews etc

What do you like to read?  What would you recommend?

Keeping your shit together… Tools to make busy mums life easier

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Life can get a bit crazy and out of control for busy parents!  With scheduling playdates, weekly swimming, remembering dress up days, feeding your kids moderately healthy food, remembering your MOT or to pay your bills all whilst trying to keep up a half decent social life or perhaps hold down a job – that old adage of juggling too many balls is clearly no over statement!  Personally, after starting back in the office full time a month or so ago and forgetting an important birthday (my nephew’s first one), I feel the time has come to get my shit together!

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I’d love to share some tools and techniques, I am trying out to lighten the load, get on top of things and make more time for what really matters.

1.Cosi:

This is a new one for me but basically, it’s a joint family calendar that holds each family member’s appointments all in one place.  The best thing is that now keeping an overview of the family diary is a shared task between me and my partner!  Also, we don’t have to spend ages asking each other silly questions about what is in each other’s diaries – my partner and I both link our g-mail calendars so we have visibility of who is around to look after the kids or do pick up and drop offs.  Cosi also allows you to allocate meals to certain days of the week, have shared task lists and a birthday reminder – all in the free version.  (Birthday reminder – clearly something I could have done with this year!)

2. Todoist:

I’ve had Todoist for a while now – I use it to manage all my personal to dos and my top 5 to dos of the week.  It’s easy to use, you can sort tasks into coloured folders, give them due dates and and I sync it across my laptops and two phones so where ever I am I can easily see what needs to be done and capture a few notes.  I use the free version but still find the functionality just what I need.

3. Stylebook

This app allows you to photograph and record your whole wardrobe and create it into outfits!  Sounds frivolous!  But if you follow me and my blog, you will know, I am really trying to make more of an effort, especially at work (check out my last blog on this #21daysofstyle).  Daisy introduced me to this great app, it allows me to save outfits down from my wardrobe and then schedule them against days of the week!  It’s not as much work as it sounds because if you shop the high street it has all the current fashions already saved down (removing the need to take a photo yourself), you just pop them into your online closet.  It’s a lifesaver if you look in your wardrobe in the morning and can’t decide what to wear!  It costs a few quid but is only on the iphone – I think other similar things are available.

4. Sunday night planning

A bit boring but sitting down once a week to ensure there’s a plan in place can give a real sense of control and make sure things don’t get missed.  Every Sunday night after dinner, I sit down and overview the week, check off key appointments in Cosi with my partner, check all the meals are planned and my online shops are good to go.   I also use this time to update my 5 larger to dos for the week and to ensure I can see where I can fit in a bit of me time fun or relaxing just for me!

 

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As a paper notebook lover – it’s all a bit of a new world for me and I have reluctantly ditched my old kikki-k organiser but I genuinely feel being phone based is going to help me have what I need when I need it.  I haven’t quite managed to move over to Evernote or Onenote yet and still do carry a paper notebook for meetings though!  How do you keep your shit together?  Are you a love of pen and paper or an online kinda girl?

It would be great to hear about anything you are using to simplify, organise your life and generally get sorted out!

Cat Haigh is the founder of Sorting Self, an on & offline community aimed at empowering and inspiring busy mums to be their best selves.  Currently Sorting Self holds monthly talks with expert speakers and a monthly self-development book group in North London.  The next event is the book group on Monday 21st November in Muswell Hill.  For more information and to join the mailing list go to https://sortingself.com/

#21days of style… How I created my own Unique Style…

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Nearly two years ago, my daughter Noemi was born… sitting on the sofa watching Gossip Girl, feeding my one month year old, I nostalgically recalled days long ago when I loved clothes, when I looked in my wardrobe excited every morning and pranced around everyday feeling stylish and confident… my life for the past few years had been all about babies, working at home, dragging things out of my wardrobe in less than 15 seconds and just wearing old clothes in case they got sick on them!  At some point I guess, I just stopped buying new and exciting clothes and when I did manage to do so, they just didn’t seem to match anything in my wardrobe (so stayed in there!)

A desperate need to sort my style was one of the driving reasons behind launching Sorting Self… I wondered whether other women felt the same? The first talk I ever organised was Style Survival for Busy Mums and this was the kick I needed to motivate me into action… I started reading about curating a wardrobe, I came across an interesting book called ‘I love your style’  despite some lovely pictures I felt the common style terminology ‘classic’, ‘chic’ or ‘bohemian’ just wasn’t me… Neither did I want to harp back to my teenage/student self – I wanted to create my own unique sense of style that fitted the me I am today (although I do still have a lovely pair of Docs that aren’t going anywhere!)

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So, what did I do?

I’ve been through a long but fun process of reviewing my wardrobe, pulling together moodboards to evoke feelings, determine colours, identifying shapes, creating my ideal outfits… then I met Daisy from Wardrobe Workshop who has really helped me with shapes and introduced me to a world of colour that didn’t exist in my previously black wardrobe…

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Style: a creative process

As women, we often have multiple selves… the yummy mummy (aka slummy mummy), the budding creative entrepreneur, the slick career woman… I wanted to curate a wardrobe to fit my multiple roles but still express a sense of self… since 2016 I have developed a good sense of style for my Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer style collections but my most organised and date I say it, my capsule wardrobe is my ‘Business Style’!  This was born out a requirement to absolutely nail it!  I went back to the office 5 days a week 5 weeks ago and wanted to not only look stylish but have a bit of personality at work too.  After 3 years working at home, my workstyle was virtually non-existent, just ‘stylish black dresses’…  A thought out process, lots of moodboarding, thinking about colours and shapes and being really clear in my head about what I wanted meant I managed to get nearly all of what I needed in just one shop to Debanhams personal shopper (and Daisy to hold my hand, especially on the power handbag front, but that is another story!)

#21daysofstyle

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#21daysofstyle day1

I recently joined the world of Instagram after a bit of encouragement from some fashion bloggers at Lucky Things Sunitas blogger get together.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to put my style to the test with a challenge #21daysofstyle

It certainly has been a challenge and I have managed 4 stylish days (in the office), 2 dressing gown days and one slightly teenage self style!  But I know that a year ago… I couldn’t even have manged 4 never mind had the guts to challenge myself to 21 days!  Do pop over and have a look at instagram to see how I am getting on!

How do you curate your personal style?

If you are interested in finding your unique style personality – join Daisy and I for Create your own style workshop on Saturday 12th November, 2-4.30pm in North London

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At this fun and creative session you will:
-create your own inspirational moodboard
-identify your own unique style vision based on how you want to look & feel
-learn about typical ‘styles’ as an inspiration
-select a set of ‘silhouettes’ you love
-create an action plan of next steps
You will leave with your own personal sense of style, ensuring you can be more confident about being the real you and dressing to suit your personality.

Sorting Self, is on & offline community aimed at empowering and inspiring busy mums to be their best selves.  Currently Sorting Self holds monthly talks with expert speakers and a monthly self-development book group in North London.  For more info sign up to the mailing list at http://www.sortingself.com

 

Family meal planning – why bother? Guest post by Sam from Happy Eaters

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Back to school!! Where did the summer holidays go?

Is it just me or is September a time of New Year-style resolutions?  New School Year resolutions I guess! Whilst I am not a fan of making promises you can’t keep at the beginning of a year, it is sometimes a good time to ‘get your house in order’, if only to make you feel in control after 6 weeks of madness! So what better time to start planning the meals your family are to eat this week? I can guarantee that you will feel like ‘Super-Mum’ in no time!

Menu Planning – why bother?

OK, so it may sound a bit boring and like something your Granny would have done, but there are massive advantages to planning what your family are going to eat.

– Less stress for you – simply because you have thought, planned and shopped prior to 5 pm with 3 hungry kids and a short temper!
– Less scope for fussiness as you have already decided what to cook, so potentially no negotiations.
– More chance that everyone in the household can eat the same or similar.
– Less waste means saving money.
– Potentially more variety than if you are having to be creative on the spot.

The main reason though? – It will make you feel in control and a smug Super-mum!  Maybe Granny did have it right after all!

If you need inspiration, meal ideas or help with a fussy member of the family (husbands included), come along to the next Sorting Self event with guest speaker Sam Perkins from Happy Eaters:

Tuesday 13th September, 8pm at The Clissold Arms.  It’s £8 with the code blog100

https://familymealplanning.eventbrite.co.uk

Sorting Self organises expert talks for busy mums on a range of topics from personal style to nutrition or wine tasting, for more info and interesting articles sign up to the mailing list at www.sortingself.com

Our development book group – what’s next – you choose!

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I have listed some of the book group choices below.  Please reply back with your top three choices and I will calculate the winner!

Also, please get in touch with any more suggestions you might have for us!!

1.Productivity: “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity” by David Allen

Productivity guru David Allen shows how to organise a busy life, overcome bad habits and still be able to function calmly and effectively.  The reviews on amazon are great and state it is good way to get organised effectively so could be great for us busy mums.  (About £10 or cheaper second hand)

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Help us pick the books for the next book group!

2. Happiness: “Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life” by Paul Dolan

Professor Paul Dolan reveals how we can be happier by using cutting edge research he shows us we can redesign our lives to make ourselves happier.

3. Cooking: “Hemsley & Hemsley Good & Simple Cookbook” by The Hemsley Sisters

I suppose everyone has heard of the Hemsley sisters and their clean eating agenda.  I figured rather than reading all about it we could actually all try to cook a few recipes and discuss!  This book is £12.50 on Amazon.

4. Cooking: “Honestly Healthy in a Hurry: The Busy Food-Lover’s Cookbook” by Natasha Corrett

I saw this healthy cookbook recommended in a magazine, it is supposed to be about eating healthy quickly, prepping on a Sunday night for the week etc.  It costs about £17 but I think you can get cheaper if you try.

5. Learning: “The Longevity Book: Live Stronger, Live Better. The Art of Ageing Well” with Cameron Diez

This book is all about the science of aging and is focused specifically on women.  When Cameron Diez turned 39 everyone started asking her about turning 40 and she realised she was scared so she decided to learn more about the aging process which led to this book.  Is a co-write and receives strong reviews on Amazon.  Cost is £8.50

6. Light read? “How to be a women” with Caitlyn Moran

Book about feminism by comedian Caitlyn Moran. Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby? Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.  Cost is about £6

7. Personal development “Playing Big: A practical guide for brilliant women like you” by Tar Mohr

Five years ago, Tara Mohr began to see a pattern in her work as an expert in leadership: women with tremendous talent, ideas and aspiration were not recognising their own brilliance. They felt that they were ‘playing small’ in their lives and careers and wanted to ‘play bigger’, but didn’t know how. And so Tara devised a step-by-step programme for playing big from the inside out: this book is the result.  About £7

8. Development/ biography “Thrive” by Adrianna Huffington

In this deeply personal book, Arianna talks candidly about her own challenges with managing time and prioritising the demands of a career and two daughters. Drawing on the latest groundbreaking research and scientific findings in the fields of psychology, sports, sleep and physiology that show the profound and transformative effects of meditation, mindfulness, unplugging and giving, Arianna shows us the way to a revolution in our culture, our thinking, our workplaces, and our lives.

Vote now!  Send your top 3 choices!  Drop me a line at sortingself@gmail.com

The Sorting Self, self development book group will take place at The Clissold Arms on the following dates:

Monday 19th September

Monday 17th October

Monday 21st November

Sorting Self organises expert talks for busy mums, if you are interested please sign up to the mailing list 🙂

 

 

What’s your garden style? Guest post from Planting Gems

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A well thought-out, carefully planted garden should reflect a style. Whether your preference is for clashing colours, or for cool, calm shades of green, it is worth considering how you can unify your garden to give it a designed, stylish appearance. As the Chelsea Flower Show season approaches, and the number of gardening, broadcasting hours increase, there is plenty of opportunity to get inspiration.
So, firstly decide if you want a Contemporary look, which generally means a restricted palate of different plants; one colour with green, often white/lime-green; a focus on structure and evergreen foliage that will look good all year round. This usually formal, minimalist style is often favoured for a front garden or a small garden where there is not enough space to have different parts of the garden reaching their peak at different times of the year, and where there is often a good deal of shade. A Japanese style of planting is an extension of this structural, evergreen look, with plants such as Acers, bamboos, rhododendrons and phormiums playing a key role, often with water, boulders or stone features.
Alternatively, there is the Cottage Garden look, with lots of traditional plants such as roses and geraniums, with lots of colour and flowers in the Summer but with a larger focus on herbaceous perennials and annuals, leaving barer beds in the winter. This style embraces climbers (on obelisks or walls/fences) and tends to be relaxed and good for wildlife. A Mediterranean style suits a dry, sunny site, with boulders or pebbles incorporated into the scheme, and usually involves plants with glaucous foliage such as Cistus, Hebe, Sedums and Olive. A Naturalistic, Prairie style of planting incorporates lots of grasses and summer flowering perennials that blend well together and move in the wind and that are planted in swathes. There is also Woodland planting, ideal for a shady corner or under trees and shrubs, that tends to reach its peak in the Spring before the trees come into leaf, with early flowering shrubs and bulbs, ferns and shade tolerant plants.  An Exotic style would embrace tropical-looking plants, with large shiny leaves, such as Fatsias or Hostas, and with spiky foliage like Phormiums or Cordylines. Palms and Tree Ferns can be incorporated into such a scheme, and there is an emphasis on different coloured foliage and texture rather than flowers. Protection may be needed for some plants in the winter.
Of course all rules are there to be broken and it would be a rare garden that resolutely stuck to one style. Imposters have a habit of creeping in, because you received a gift or took a fancy to a plant in a garden centre or at a plant fair. But in general, it is good to have an underlying understanding of what look your garden is trying to achieve.
So does your garden have a style?
Anne Fraser and Caroline Streets
Planting Gems
http://www.plantinggems.co.uk
07729 835988 and 07930 876348