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Friday, April 29, 2011

Can imagination create opportunity?

Yesterday I was faced with one of my least favourite things -an 8 hour flight from Dubai back home to UK.  Its an inevitable fact of expat life that as I more or less split my time between UAE and UK its something I have to do pretty regularly.

I used to be a very nervous flyer until one day as I posted previously I decided that "I can handle it" but its still not my favourite way to spend a day

Yesterday as I was queuing up to board the flight it amused me as always, that the flight staff always greet you at the door and tell you to turn right.  Of course if we were going to turn left into the hallowed area of business and first class we wouldn't be stood there queuing anyway would we?  

As I waited I started to wonder what it would be like just to ask if there was any chance that I could turn left for a change and still "in the comfy seats".  I made up my mind that I would ask the question and imagined what it would be like to enjoy the space and comfort.

Actually when I reached the front of the queue I didn't manage to catch the eye of an attendant, so dutifully went to take my rightful place in economy - consoling myself that at least by booking online, I had managed by to secure a bulkhead seat with plenty of legroom. I had a pleasant chat with my neighbouring passengers and was perfectly content.

All went well, we took off  and I settled down to enjoy a drink and was about half an hour into enjoying a film I had wanted to see for a while, when I was approached by a stewardess.  Apparently they wanted my bulkhead seat for a lady travelling with an infant who could then make use of a travel cot - I thought she was just asking if I would move, but no - they actually wanted to upgrade me to business class!!

I still cant believe that it really happened - it has never happened to me before, and it just seemed such a coincidence that I had, less than an hour before, been imagining just such a scenario. I have heard before about the law of attraction - and you can bet your life that I will be studying it more from now on - will let you know what I find out.

And the rest of the flight? - oh yes it was as wonderful as I had imagined it would be - space, a reclining seat/bed, wonderful food served on china and wine in a glass rather than a plastic beaker.  Thanks to Emirates, the flight attendant and the law of attraction who jointly made it happen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why you should set goals

I love this story about goals

In the book What They Don't Teach You in the Harvard Business School, Mark McCormack tells a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program. In that year, the students were asked, "Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?" Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84 percent had no specific goals at all.

Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again, and the findings, while somewhat predictable, were nonetheless astonishing. The 13 percent of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all. And what about the three percent who had clear, written goals? They were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

what are you waiting for - get those goal WRITTEN DOWN now

Monday, April 18, 2011

lemme tell ya something - bustin' makes me feel good

I’ve been working for a while now on an idea for starting my own business. 

Well if I’m perfectly honest I’ve had ideas running through my head for years, but for one reason or another its never happened.  I don’t know if I have an overactive imagination but I see potential businesses opportunities all around me every day – ranging from the brilliant to the downright ridiculous.

Now though, I have made the decision to go for it – I am going to focus on one idea and make it work.  There I’ve said it.

No more prevaricating – am training myself to think positive, and stop looking for reasons (or should I say excuses) not to do it.

When I have a worry from now on, its just a challenge to overcome

When I have a doubt – I intend to flatten it

And as part of developing my brand I am thinking of adopting the Ghostbusters theme tune as the soundtrack to my business
Just replacing the word ghost with fear or doubt or worry in my mind – I am going to bust them all.  I don’t need to call ghostbusters I know I can bust them myself.

Listening and dancing round the room to this a few times – has energised my mind and body –if you need a bit of a boost I hope it can do the same for you.

If there's something strange
in your neighbourhood
Who ya gonna call?

If there's something weird
and it don't look good
Who ya gonna call?

I ain't afraid of no ghosts
I ain't afraid of no ghosts

If you're seeing things
running through your head
Who can ya call?

An invisible man
sleeping in your bed
Who ya gonna call?

I ain't afraid of no ghosts
I ain't afraid of no ghosts

Who ya gonna call?

If ya all alone
pick up the phone
and call

I ain't afraid of no ghosts
I here it likes the girls
I ain't afraid of no ghost
Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

Who ya gonna call?

If you've had a dose of a
freaky ghost baby
Ya better call

Lemme tell ya something
Bustin' makes me feel good!

I ain't afraid of no ghosts
I ain't afraid of no ghosts

Don't get caught alone no no


When it comes through your door
Unless you just want some more
I think you better call

Who ya gonna call?

Who ya gonna call?

I think you better call

Who ya gonna call?

I can't hear you
Who ya gonna call?


Who ya gonna call?

Who can ya call?

Who ya gonna call?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I’d hate to be a teenager on twitter

I grew up in a simpler age- we didn’t have home computers – in fact, my earliest job in computing was when three towns got together and bought “a computer” between them.  Days of punched paper tape and card readers (check out the history books)

We didn’t have mobile phones – had to remember to carry coins to be able to use public phone boxes in case of emergency.

There was no internet, no facebook, no twitter , no iphones - probably sounds like the dark ages to kids nowadays,but we also had a lot less pressure.

Of course, lots of things about being a teen haven’t changed – there were always the cooler kids at school that everyone wanted to be friends with, and the oddballs who everyone avoided.  And, although maybe a bit more innocent, our earliest attempts at boy girl stuff were probably just as painful as nowadays.

But at least we could do it in private.

If you had a bad day at school and fell out with your best mate or some guy dumped you, at least you could go home and lick your wounds and hideaway until you wanted to face the world again.  If you went to a party you could enjoy yourself without worrying about the photos you’d be tagged in tomorrow.
Nowadays it seems, every little thing has to be shared with the world.  The pressure on kids to have the zaniest photos or the most friends on facebook, or the most followers on twitter is just crazy.  They seem unable to function without an iphone constantly in their hands.

Its not easy being a teen.  Just at a difficult time in their lives when they are still discovering who they are for themselves, it seems that they have to share every painful step along the way.

I wonder how many texts, posts or tweets are made in the heat of the moment, cause so much grief and are regretted later on?

I suppose the whole celebrity culture of being famous for not doing anything very much at all is behind a lot of it. 

I’m just so glad that I grew up in my simpler age – and as a bonus I got to live through England winning the World Cup and a new amazing group called the Beatles.  Happy Days

Thursday, April 14, 2011

life according to Homer Simpson

  • Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand!
  • Aw, Dad, you've done a lot of great things, but you're a very old man, and old people are useless.
  • I don't apologize. I am sorry Lisa, that's the way I am.
  • Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.
  • All right, let's not panic. I'll make the money by selling one of my livers. I can get by with one.
  • If something is to hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
  • Trying is the first step towards failure.
  • Son, being popular is the most important thing in the whole world.
  • Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
  • When will I learn? The answer to life's problems aren't at the bottom of a bottle, they're on TV!
  • Mr. Scorpio says productivity is up 2%, and it's all because of my motivational techniques, like donuts and the possibility of more donuts to come.
  • What's the point of going out, we're just going to end up back here anyway?
  • You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is 'never try
  • If you really want something in life you have to work for it. Now quiet, they're about to announce the lottery numbers.
  • To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!
  • I want to share something with you - the three sentences that will get you through life. Number one, 'cover for me. 'Number two, 'oh, good idea, boss. 'Number three, 'it was like that when I got here.
  • Kids are great, Appu. You can teach them to hate the things you hate and they practically raise themselves now-a-days, you know, with the internet and all.
  • Sometimes you have to break the rules to free the heart
  • If something's hard to do, then it's not worth doing.
  • No matter how good you are at something, there's always about a million people better than you.
and finally - and a little worryingly..............
  • You can't depend on me all your life. You have to learn that there's a little Homer Simpson in all of us.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

its ok to say NO

Do you find it hard to say NO to anyone?

Do you find that your boss or colleagues at work are always  passing more work on to you? Do you have friends who start so many sentences “Can I ask a favour………” and expect you to drop whatever  you're doing to help them out?   Perhaps its family members who just always expect you to be the one to sort everything out?  Are you the one who always gets asked to help out at the school events? Or find yourself roped into yet another group or committee that you could do without.

If you want to get on with the things in your life that are important to you, and devote time to your own priorities you have to learn that its ok to say NO
Its not selfish – you owe it to yourself to pursue your own interests and to have the time to do those things to the best of your ability.  

So here are some good ways to say no – and remember to be polite but firm
  • I can’t do it right now but I could help later….. if its something that you really would like to do later
  • I can’t do that but I could do ….. offering a lesser commitment
  • I can’t help with that but I know someone who could …..suggesting someone you think may want to get involved
  • I would rather help with…..if you really dislike what you are being asked to do, its ok to offer help in a different way
  • I know that you'll make a good job of this…..maybe the person asking for help is just seeking reassurance about their ability to do it
  • I have no experience of that…..don’t take on tasks that you know you can’t do well
  • I have another commitment…..if you already have something planned say so
  • I do not enjoy that type of work… will not do a good job of something you hate doing
  • I am not taking on any new responsibilities right now…..leaves the opportunity to help out at a later date
  • I am not comfortable with that…..if something goes against your principles or beliefs just say no
  • I’m just not able to do that…..better to say no than agree to do something and then let them down later
  • I would like to take on the responsibility, but feel it will jeopardise my other commitments….for when your boss asks you to take on more than you are able to cope with
  • I can see that this is going to need doing but I am not in a position to take on new tasks right now…..pre empting the request is easier than saying no once its been asked
  • I will get back to you…..when you would like to help, but need to check on other priorities first
  • I need to leave some free time for myself/ my family….. this is not selfish but essential for a balanced and happy life

And remember, you deserve to choose how to spend your time,  even if what you want to do more than anything in the world is relax in a hot bath with a good book.  We all need time out. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

learn to prioritise

If you don’t think that a conventional “to do” list is helping you – or its just so long that you feel overwhelmed, then try using a task grid from the tools section to prioritise what you have to do.

Spend some time putting your tasks into the grid

  • Box 1 is for those that need urgent action and are important to you – if there’s water pouring through your kitchen ceiling, then calling the plumber will be in this box – you know the kind of thing.
  • Box 2 is for the tasks that are important to you but not urgent – maybe writing your first best selling novel – something that you want to do well, but don’t have to do immediately. It could be preparing for a presentation you have to do next month.   Spending time with family and friends or having “me time” also fit in here – very important but deserving to wait until you can devote quality time to it.
  • Box 3 are distractions – they must be dealt with urgently but are not important to your aims and objectives –say  unwanted phone calls, or someone asking for help with their priorities.
  • Box 4 are neither urgent or important – perhaps your inbox is full of newsletters you signed up to in the past that you never get round to reading.  Or maybe you have been asked to attend a meeting that you don’t think you can either contribute to or gain anything from – seek to eliminate these tasks from your life. Learn to say no.

By now you should be starting to get the picture that the box 2 tasks are those that you should be making time for – in fact many of the “firefighting” tasks in box 1 could probably have been box 2 tasks if you had got around to them sooner. Remember
Hard work is often the easy work you did not do at the proper time – Bernard Meltzer
So using my time management tips try and eliminate as much as you can from your other boxes, concentrate on your box 2 tasks and I’ll look forward to reading your new novel soon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

what I wish someone had told me a month ago.....

.....if you haven’t made twitter lists you should

When I first started using twitter a month ago I had absolutely no idea where it would lead me.

I started out thinking that it would be great just to link with people who, like me, were blogging about happiness and self development. Trying to spread a bit of happy.

That didn’t last long though because the wonderfully eclectic nature of Twitter just kept popping up new opportunities.

So after a month I’ve found myself following nearly 500 great people and starting to wonder if there might be a better, smarter way to do this.

The very thing that I love about twitter – the randomness and variety of the posts, is a bit disconcerting at times.  To read about global disasters and conflicts, mixed in with funny one liners, pictures of hamsters and inspirational quotes is a bit of a shock to the system at times. 

Yes, I know it reflects life – the good and the bad side by side, but wouldn’t it be great to find all the funny ones when I feel like a giggle, and save the news ones for when I want to catch up on whats happening in this crazy world?  Bring a little bit of focus to it all?

So I’ve now bitten the bullet and spent hours (believe me hours!!) creating lists – and it surprised me just how many I needed, the funny list, the bizarre one, the food one with plenty of chocolate thrown in.  I have geographical lists from the area where I live now as an expat, and a couple of locations in the UK that I have strong links with. 

I’ve included several lists on widely differing leisure interests, one on a medical condition affecting my family and another one for charities that I support.
I have found great people to follow in my field of business and marketing, and others I can learn from about blogging and new technologies.

It was also an interesting process to review everyone I was following – and not all fell naturally into a list, so I'll still be following my timeline to enjoy the randomness and find new people. Especially as I’ve found out now that you can have a maximum of 20 lists with a maximum of 500 in each so still plenty of potential for the future.

And yes I do know there are are auto list creators out there - probably great for professional users - but I still like to do my own thing  

I wasn’t sure whether or not to make my lists public or private so opted to play safe and keep them private – not sure why really – just didn’t want to offend anyone by putting a wrong label on them I guess.

Mind you,  I hope you don’t do that because I am heading out right now to explore other peoples lists and see what I can find.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

how to fit all your rocks in the bucket

Start with a bucket, some big rocks enough to fill it, some small stones, some sand and water.

Put the big rocks in the bucket - is it full?

Put the small stones in around the big rocks - is it full?

Put the sand in and give it a shake - is it full?

Put the water in. Now it's full.

The point is: unless you put the big rocks in first, you won't get them in at all.In other words: Plan time-slots for your big issues before anything else, or the inevitable sand and water issues will fill up your days and you won't fit the big issues in (a big issue doesn't necessarily have to be a work task - it could be your child's sports-day, or a holiday)
So how to organise your rocks – here are my best tips for work and home
  • Get organised and keep tidy – whether its your home, your desk or your computer files, if you don’t know where things are you’ll waste time every single day searching for them
  • If you know that you are going to have a busy day tomorrow try to write a quick to do list before you go to sleep.  You're then less likely to forget things and just the act of getting it down on paper gets your brain prepared to make a start on things when you wake up.
  • Focus – if an important task has to be done, then concentrate on it. Don’t let yourself be distracted by calls, messages and emails - you will get through the task so much quicker if you give it the attention it deserves.
  •  Get to know when you work best – if you are a “morning person” do your most important tasks then – you will work better and achieve more.
  • Try to deal with things once and once only – whether its bills to pay or emails to answer , if it can be done straight away just do it – otherwise you fall into the trap of putting things off and spend more time thinking about how to avoid them than actually doing them.
  • Make lists and do similar small tasks together, whether its looking up stuff on Google or doing odd jobs in the garden, its more time efficient to tackle them in one sitting.   Keep lists of what you need to do then when you get around to sitting down to Google or getting your wellies on you’ll know exactly what you are planning to achieve.
  • Have a routine for dealing with emails – check them several times a day rather than answering every email as it arrives – there is nothing more time wasting that continually hopping from one job to another.
  • Learn to say no.  If you are being bombarded with demands on your time, its easy to fall into the trap of spending your life doing what other people want you to do rather than focussing on what’s important to you.  If you know that you want to spend time on reorganising your sock drawer and your friend wants you to go to the pub its ok to say no (unlikely but ok).
  • Learn to delegate – and don’t be a control freak.  If you can pass on tasks to someone else, a junior member of staff in the office or your kids at home, then do it.  It might not be done quite as well as you would have done it, but how else will they learn?
  • Meetings can be a serious time waster. Be sure that if you are organising a meeting you know exactly what you hope to achieve and how long its likely to take – and stick to the agenda.  If someone else is organising it then make it clear that you expect the same of them.
  • Use public transport – if it takes you half an hour to drive to work each day that’s an hour wasted, if you travel by bus or train it may take you slightly longer but you can use that time productively to read, catch up on emails or chat with a friend.
  • Learn how to start a task – very often we waste time just not getting started on a task because it seems too much. Try different ways of getting your ideas down – with pen and paper, on a word document or even a mind map – whatever gets you motivated to start the task.
If you are still feeling seriously overwhelmed and your “to do list” is a mile long maybe you need to learn to prioritise – watch out for my next post with a task grid tool to help you do it – that’s if you have time to read it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

30 things to do with bananas - apart from eating them

if you thought that bananas were just for eating just look at this list of uses for every part of the plant from root to leaf.  When I get stranded on a desert island I just hope there are bananas growing there……..
  • digging banana skins into the ground near the base of your roses will make them flourish and produce beautiful flowers
  • banana skin has a healing effect on open wounds
  • banana skins can be used to make banana wine
  • in South India the white fibrous inside of the banana plant is used to treat snake bites
  • the itchiness of mosquito bites can be reduced by rubbing with the inside of banana skin
  • banana skin can help to remove warts – place on the wart with yellow side out and hold in place with tape or plaster
  • ditto with splinters – apparently the enzymes help to dislodge the splinter
  • bananas are a great natural remedy for dry skin – mix one mashed banana with 2tbsp honey and ¼ cup yoghurt – smooth on skin and leave 10mins before rinsing off
  • make a deep hair conditioning treatment with one ripe banana, one egg yolk, 1tbsp honey and 2tbsp olive oil – liquidise well and apply to hair (omit the oil if hair is greasy)
  • a good hangover cure (after a big glass of water!) is made by blending 1banana, 2tbsp honey and 1½ cups milk (regular or soy) – as well as calming the stomach it gives you an energy boost – drink slowly to let your body absorb the nutrients
  • in Thailand banana leaves are used as umbrellas, roofing for huts and boat sails
  • the inner white part of the skin can be applied to burns, rashes and boils
  • urinary problems are treated with teas made from the crushed root
  • crushed leaves are applied to wounds to help stop bleeding
  • in Trinidad ripe bananas are made into a poultice and applied to the forehead and/or back of the neck to treat migraines
  • in the Bahamas a decoction of fresh green banana skin is taken for hypertension.
  • banana sap is extremely sticky and is obtained from the pseudo stem, skin or the fruit's flesh; it can be used as a practical adhesive.
  • textiles are produced from the fibre of the banana plant
  • banana fibre is also used to produce banana paper
  • having removed the white thin shreds completely, the skin of the banana can be used on leather shoes to bring out the shine
  • it can also be used to polish silver
  • eating cooked flowers of bananas helps to alleviate menstrual cramps and also controls excessive bleeding 
  • banana leaves can a be used to wrap food to be grilled or steamed and give a  delicate, nutty taste to the food
  • extract of core of the stem is considered to be useful in dissolving the stones in the kidney and urinary bladder and reducing weight
  • the banana leaf is used as material for makeshift riverboats
  • banana bark is used in the production of paper, hats, and decorations
  • brighten up your houseplants by removing the dust with the inside of the banana skin
  • burnt bananas skins mixed with honey are claimed to be an instant cure for hiccups
  • placing banana skins over skinless chicken breasts whilst cooking helps keeps them moist
and perhaps most importantly of all .........where would slapstick comedy be without the good old banana skin on the floor routine??

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I had cancer now I don’t - simps

Claire is the mother of two small children who, having found out that she carries the BRCA2 gene mutation which gives her an 85% chance of developing cancer, has made the brave decision to have a double mastectomy and also to have her ovaries removed.

The amazing Claire is now writing a blog to help raise awareness of the condition and to give hope to others in the same position.  See her story here

I found her story so moving that it has inspired me to write about my own experience of breast cancer in the hope that it might just help someone else.

My diagnosis was made following a routine mammogram.  You get the letter calling you to the hospital “for further investigation” and you tell yourself it will be nothing, then you are told you need a biopsy and you reassure yourself that it is just a precaution and all will be ok.

Then the day of “the results” arrived  and I sat with my husband as the consultant gave us the stomach churning  verdict that yes I did have breast cancer – very early stage he reassured me, but it was actually happening.  My reaction  “well that’s a bugger”.

I think that the worst part was having to tell my family, who knew about the tests.  They had said to ring them as soon as I knew anything – how do you tell your children and your elderly parents news like that?  I will never forget standing outside the hospital making those calls on my mobile.  I think I said something like “well its not the best news but its not the worst either” I had always been a  positive person – now I had to remain so more than ever.

I am a lot luckier than Claire, I am older for a start – my children are grown up and independent.  Also, I was never faced with the dilemma of whether to take preventive action – I was told that although very early stage, it was cancer – so I had no option but to have surgery.

Whatever critisisms people make of the NHS – I have to say that everyone who helped me through my treatment was brilliant, the nurses, the oncology doctors and my surgeons.  Like Claire I have nothing but admiration for the amazing plastic surgeon who performed my breast reconstruction – which I had done simultaneously with the mastectomy. I was also lucky that I didn’t need follow up therapies – just the surgery and I was finished.

My husband was amazing and supported me every step of the way.   I claim that he did more shopping, cooking and housework in the few weeks following my op that the previous 30 years of marriage, and he still likes to joke now that I milked it for all it was worth. 

They say that everything happens for a reason, and amazingly he had been made redundant about a month before my diagnosis – it was the first time in a 35 year career that he had ever been out of work so job hunting was put on hold and he was able to be with me and support me 24/7.

I remember reading a book in which Susan Jeffers talks of the good that came from her breast cancer and how she dealt with it better than she dealt with a bad hair perm and its so true.  We can cope with the bad things that life throws at us – with the support of my husband and his humour, and believe me there is a lot of mileage in a “boob job and tummy tuck”, and with the love of my children and family I came through the experience a stronger, and happier person.

Eighteen months on now and I rarely think about it. Of course, when I undress, the scars are there to remind me but I don’t even mind those now –  I can still wear a bikini so long as the pants aren’t too skimpy (and who want to see a lady of my years in skimpy pants anyway?)

In fact when an old friend recently asked how I was feeling and was I ok?  I thought he was referring to the cold I had been suffering from – now that really was bad!!

I hate the term “cancer survivor” I refuse to be defined by it – I had cancer now I don’t - simps.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

secret to a happy marriage

When we met in a crowd at a pub two of his pals asked me out – one saying to the other “the best man always wins” I didn't know at the time but my husband turned to his mate and said “the best mans not even trying”.  So the first time we met he was joking

Thankfully he did try later and we got together – I say thankfully because he has kept me laughing ever since
We've been married over 30 years – have had some great times and some not so good, but we have always been able to laugh together at things – laughing makes the good times better and the bad times bearable. 

Typical conversation yesterday in the 4x4 – “watch that cyclist” “I’m bigger than him- he should watch me” “Don’t be flip – you’d be the first person to be upset if you hurt someone” “no I’d be the second”

He is my rock and my best friend

Trust me – to find your ideal partner, don’t worry if he/she is good looking, intelligent or rich – find the one you can laugh with, and if you’re lucky like me you’ll have a lifetime of fun.