Blue Sky Blog

Blue Sky Updates – July 2019

Posted by on Jul 27, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Monthly updates from my life as a career coach and writer…….

Update Friday 7th June 2019

I guess there are times, as a coach when you might have to deliver some tough love to a client.

I know I certainly received it last weekend as I wandered around talking to literary agents as part of a publications event, organised by New Writing South.

The agents I spoke to were all perfectly polite, perfectly respectful but these very busy people were also very clear and to the point:

‘Why are you the person to tell this story?

‘What makes you uniquely qualified to tell it?

‘Why would anyone want to read it?’

‘Who, are your audience?’

Now I need to go away and find some answers….

Update: Friday 14th June 2019

The video below is a tiny snippet from Brighton Goes Gospel’s concert on Wednesday at the Boat outdoor theatre, Hove.

I sang and performed with this wonderful choir for seven years and even though I haven’t sung with them for a year or so now, I’m still surprised at the ways it continues to make a difference to me.

I started with them in 2010, so yes I made friends, how can you not when you are singing together every single week for three months?

Laughter and fun, absolutely, I cannot remember a single rehearsal when we weren’t laughing at something or the other.

Confidence building, yes that too, I became more and more comfortable performing in front of an audience as the years rolled by. And I watched others do the same too.

Now I’m noticing, that confidence is spilling over into other areas of my life, my writing, my interest in comedy and my interactions with people both off and online. Not sure this would be happening in quite the same way without BGG.

So, my question is, if you have a hobby, what difference is it making to you?

Enjoy!

Update: Friday 21st June 2019

It’s that time again, to put on my big girls’ pants and post another article on Medium. This month it’s all about change, based on Hudson’s Renewal Cycle. A model of change that I regularly use at the beginning of a coaching relationship with clients. Over the years it’s proved to be highly effective in helping people to make sense of where they are at.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” Anais Nin.

For me this quote beautifully captures, the ‘struggle’ we can have with significant change and the risks associated with that change. When instead of moving forward with confidence, we are trapped, caught fast between the past and the future. Between the certainty of now, and the uncertainty of change.

To read more, please click here

Update – 28th June 2019

It was good to catch up briefly with a past coaching client yesterday and learn more about her new business and how it’s starting to build. And in the spirit of coaching, I had to ask, ‘what difference did I make as your coach?’

To which she replied, ‘when I was in a state of flux and indecision, it was the clarity you brought to my options and your in-depth knowledge that was invaluable.’

I really believe this person is going places and I’m immensely proud to have a played a part in her journey. I’m looking forward to seeing just how far she goes.

So, there you have it, until next month

Janice Taylor

 

Be your own Rainbow ……………………….Part six

Posted by on Jun 24, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Managing your space…………

“Nourish your eye and spirit with inspiring things. They will bloom with your tending” – SARK

Be your own rainbow – managing your space

This quote illustrates for me how strongly we are influenced and affected by our environment and the space we inhabit. What we choose to surround ourselves with in terms of materials, pictures, furnishings can have a profound effect on how we feel generally and our overall sense of well-being.

What’s in your space?

So, take the time now to observe the space you are currently in. What do you see? Are you uplifted and inspired by the areas you habitually inhabit, or are they dragging you down a little? Consider taking a systematic room by room review of the spaces you regularly inhabit. What changes could you make in the short-term?

Do you have enough physical space or are you are a bit ‘hemmed in’ by stuff? Now, might be the right time to do some serious de-cluttering and re-arranging.  In the short term, you can choose a room, pick one spot and focus on that, until it is how you want it to be. Then choose another room and pick your next spot. This is about creating an oasis within each room, until you can get it all as you want it. Helping you to create the energy needed to get it all done.

Creating the vision

In the longer term, you can be playful with this and use different approaches to generate ideas. Pinterest is a great way to play around with images, palettes, styles etc.

If you are not keen on using IT, why not simply create a collage with the images, colours, textures and layouts that appeal to you and the mood, you are trying to create.  Remember it’s all about creating the ‘life space’ that serves you best.

Also consider whether you have enough access to natural light and materials. This may not always be possible in your current workspace, but it doesn’t hurt to take a good look at the space you occupy and ask yourself, if it is supporting your sense of well-being and if not what options are there for you to change it?

Take control of your life space, to ensure that it is supporting and enhancing your well-being. It is my belief that ‘clutter’ and unnecessary ‘stuff’ can leach energy from us.

How music might help

Also, in terms of your environment, think about using music to inspire and help lift your mood. I know that listening to different types of music helps to energise and get me going again.

Music can just as easily transport you to happy memories as well as sad ones. Identify the pieces that transport and lift you up. Are you listening to them enough? Which pieces allow you to be calm and reflective, which pieces really energise you and get you moving? Which pieces take you back to difficult or sadder times? Is the balance right for you?

If you were to do a timeline of your life, the highs and lows, peaks and troughs which songs, pieces of music would you associate with each period of your life.

Space Boosters

  • Look at your physical space – does it need de-cluttering, freshening up?
  • Find ways to access as much natural light as possible
  • Incorporate some natural materials into your space, wood, stone, plants
  • Create clutter free zones, areas
  • If possible surround yourself with any art that you particularly like or are drawn to.
  • Look at how you can access the music can support and lift you

 So in terms of your space

What do you need to let go of? – Charity shop, ebay, carboot sales

What do you need to take on? – Art, music,

What are you going to do, now?

 

Be Your Own Rainbow……………………. Part Five

Posted by on May 22, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Managing your community……………………

“I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar” – Robert Brault

Be your own rainbow – managing your community

“I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar” – Robert Brault

So, who are the people in your life that have your back, no matter what?

Going through life, we all build our communities of; family members, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. With each member of our community, we will share and enjoy varying degrees of emotional, physical and psychological closeness. Achieving the right balance, is what matters here. Not everyone is going to be or needs to be in your inner circle.  Reviewing your community may seem harsh and a bit ruthless, but which friendships are worth continuing? Given the time and effort it takes to maintain and sustain a meaningful relationship. It might well be worth asking yourself, who are the people who really ‘have my back’ and who are the people that without a moment’s notice I would drop everything to go and support if necessary?

Is it time to also consider the size of your community?  Is it at a size where you can enjoy and contribute to it? Or is it too big, or perhaps too small? Are you saying yes to a lot of social engagements simply, because you don’t want to feel left out? And what happens once you are there, are you really showing up? Being, nice, rather than real?

Life taking a sudden turn for the worse, might be when you realize and appreciate the caliber of the people around you. Maybe it is time to review each friendship in turn and ask yourself, am I getting what I need here? As importantly, are you able to contribute meaningfully to this friendship? Perhaps, you are not in a place to offer the support and friendship someone else really needs.

So, if you were to draw a small circle and put yourself in the middle with increasing concentric circles, around it, who would be the people in the circle closest to you? How would you describe the level of trust and mutual support between you? Rate this on a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being the highest level of mutual trust and support and 1 the lowest.

What about the people in some of the outer circles, could they come closer? Have some moved away? Who, are the people who make you laugh, think, or you just feel comfortable and safe with?

Community Boosters

  • Treasure the people you trust and know and let them know how much you treasure them.
  • Build memories with the people you trust and know, easier to do if there is some consistent pattern to your contact.
  • Find ways to spend more time with your friends
  • Find fun things to do with your friends.
  • Prioritise building a store of strong and shared memories with your friends and family.
  • Write down what you treasure about your close friends, what makes them special to you.
  • Don’t just rely on social media to maintain your friendships, pick up the phone, arrange to meet in person.

So, in terms of your community:

  • Who and what do you need to let go of? –
  • What do you need to take on? –
  • What are you going to do, now?

Be your own Rainbow Part four…………….

Posted by on Apr 24, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

“When awareness is brought to an emotion, power is brought to your life” – Tara Meyer Robson

Be your own Rainbow – Managing your Emotions

Managing your emotions is about understanding and appreciating your emotions for what they are, valuable and honest insights into your ‘inner world’, but in turn not allowing them to dominate your actions, thoughts and words.

Emotions provide valuable clues as to how we feel about a situation or person and there is no right or wrong in the feelings in themselves. The right or wrong may come in what we choose to do about them.

Being able to manage our emotions enables us to respond rather than react to situations, recognising when we might have to ‘cut others a little slack’ and helping others to recognise when they might have to do the same for us.

It means finding ways to acknowledge and constructively work through our emotions, so they don’t fester and ‘burst forth’ at inappropriate times and in inappropriate ways.

Managing our emotions means knowing which battles we really need to fight, and which ones we are better walking away from. Then using our emotions wisely to ensure a good outcome, should we need to ‘fight’.

It is about understanding the true consequences of a course of action and dealing with our emotions in the appropriate way.

Our emotions provide colour and texture to our lives and often a spark towards action, we just need to ensure that the action is constructive rather than destructive.

So how do you start to manage your emotions more effectively?

One thing to consider is to identify some emotional anchors, things that represent a source of stability or security for you. Emotional anchors ground you and keep you steady when times are tough and put you in a better position to respond rather than react. Your anchors could also be a source of strength for you.

So, look at your life and see if you can identify your anchors, they could be:

  • Your family and friends: – the handful of people you know and trust to be there for you when needed.
  • Your personal strengths and attributes that you know from experience you can call on when needed. For me it is my determination and ‘grit’, I don’t give in easily.
  • Your life story, in a phrase or a metaphor.
  • Special places that mean something to you, which have strong and happy associations for you.
  • Metaphors, expressions that might be linked to your values.
  • Activities, habits, routines that you know uplift and inspire you – could be listening to music, piano playing and singing work for me.

Emotional Boosters

  • Take regular breaks and regular exercise
  • Seek out those things that uplift you; songs, music, poetry, prose
  • Use steady, slow breaths to calm and steady yourself
  • Remind yourself of when you have come through tough times before
  • When things don’t go according to plan, practice asking, what can I learn from this? What did I do well? What will I do next time?
  • In any situation, look for where you can take control at the very least you can always take control over how you feel.
  • Find and use quotes, affirmations and or poetry that help lift and boost your ‘spirit’
  • Practice watching for your emotional state and that of other’s
  • Writing can be a useful way of discharging stress
  • Keep a daily journal of your thoughts and feelings, might help to identify patterns or recurring triggers.
  • Connecting with nature and simply getting outdoors
  • Practice being grateful, ask yourself daily, what am I grateful for today, in this moment?

So, in terms of your emotions:

  1. What do you need to let go of? –
  2. What do you need to take on? –
  3. What are you actually going to do, now?

Be your own Rainbow – Part Three

Posted by on Mar 28, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

“If you don’t like the world you see, change the prescription of your glasses” – (Chu, 1995, p41)

Be your own Rainbow – Managing your Focus

This is largely about your choices and what you actively decide to focus on and attend to. It’s about where you consequently choose to direct your energy and time.

Getting this right will help you to make the time to pursue the things that lift and inspire you, to actively seek out new and fresh perspectives.

Some of this will involve your ‘self- talk’, the things you are habitually saying to yourself. For example when I am particularly tired and low, I can find myself repeatedly telling myself “I am so tired”, which is by in large true. But I think the continual repetition of this phrase doesn’t help me to feel better about myself or my situation. All it seems to do, is keep me ‘stuck’ in not such a great place. I might well be better off saying, “I need to rest and recharge” and then actively plan how I will achieve this.

So, take the time over the next few days to notice the messages you are habitually sending to yourself and the affect they are having on you. What are you are choosing to dwell on at this present time?

Also consider what others might be picking up from you. Are you inadvertently leaking or sending out ‘unhelpful’ or negative messages?    

Do you have a tendency to focus and dwell on the problems you face rather than on possible solutions and opportunities? There’s a balance to be had between recognising that there is a problem and then focusing on getting through.

You might also find it helpful to consider whether you are naturally more inclined to think things are generally within your control Internal Locus of Control or that things are generally outside of your control External Locus of Control.

People with an Internal Locus of Control, generally feel more control and ownership of their destiny. They tend to attribute success and achievements in life to their own efforts and they tend to take the control they can in any given situation. Making them in general, happier, less depressed and less stressed.

Be your own Rainbow – Managing your focus

However people with an External Locus of Control, will tend to feel that they are at the ‘mercy of fate’, that there is little they can do to change things.  They can find it difficult to identify and take the control that is available to them and may use negative ‘self-talk’ to maintain a position of ‘victimhood’.

If you have a tendency towards an External Locus of Control, you may well need to work a little harder to refocus and identify the ways in which you can take greater control. Some strategies for this include:

1) Accepting and recognising, that you have a choice – you just may not like the choices that are available.

2) Learning to generate ideas, when feeling trapped – brainstorm options either on your own or with a friend. Be playful and open, the one idea that initially sounds ‘crazy’ might just be the thing that will move you forward.

3) Using different stances to explore the ideas you’ve generated. You could take the stance of Dreamer, Realist and Cynic to explore an idea and evaluate the pros and cons.

4) Noticing your language and changing it – change ‘I have no choice’, ‘I can’t’ to ‘I choose not to’ or ‘I don’t like my choices, but I will……

Focus Boosters

  • Find a hobby, an alternative focus that absorbs and engages you.
  • Find the things that give you joy and make the time do them.
  • Look for the humour in situations. Most will have one, even if you have to dig it out
  • Look for ways to be creative and playful
  • Be grateful, ask yourself on a daily basis, what am I grateful for today?
  • Use quotes and or affirmations to shift your focus and broaden your perspective, ‘tomorrow is another day’, is a favourite of mine.
  • Seek out those things that uplift you:- for me this can be a as simple as looking out of the window at some clear blue sky  

So in terms of your focus:

What do you need to let go of? – What unhelpful language, phrases, beliefs?

What do you need to take on? – What activities, places or people will help renew your perspective?

What are you actually going to do, now?

Be your own Rainbow – Part Two

Posted by on Feb 28, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you” – Carl Sandburg

Be your own Rainbow – Managing your Time

I would also add be careful that you don’t allow ‘things’ to spend it for you.  So what do I mean? The phrase ‘less is more’, sums it up for me. 

A ‘Less is more’ approach involves finding ways to work in tune with your natural rhythms and not cramming your day with a long list of (uninspiring and uninteresting) tasks, so you are left desperately trying to manage everything at the same time.

If you were a member of a gym, you wouldn’t go along to the gym and spend hours working on just one part of your body. Most of us would go along and use a variety of machines to exercise different parts in different ways.

The same principle can be applied to the way in which we use our brains. Give different parts of your brain – time to rest and recharge. Allow ‘greater space’ for your brain to do what comes naturally, ‘problem solve’. In other words start learning to ‘get out of your own way’.

Allow time for different types of thinking, relaxed, creative thinking and more, focused and concentrated thinking. Identify when you are at your most alert, most creative and use this to your advantage.

References:

David Rock, Your Brain at Work

Managing your time and energy is not just about getting stuff done, but getting the right stuff done at the right time. It is about having the time and energy you need to do more of the things you really want to do.

Think of yourself as a ‘dancer’ with one partner at a time, rather than a ‘juggler’, struggling to keep all the balls in the air.

It’s about Focus too

To achieve this you will need to decide to focus on one thing at a time. Give it your undivided attention and the chances are you will get it done in a shorter period of time. Splitting your attention over several different tasks at the same time, trying to multi-task is simply not effective.

It’s not just about your time, it’s about your focus and attention and it seems to me that time spent without these can turn a task into something that just drags on and on.

So why not have a look at your ‘to do’ list and ask yourself:

  • Is this a task that really needs to be done?
  • If yes, am I the only person able, or the best person to complete it?
  • If yes, when will I get it done and what will this enable me to do after?

 Go through for each of your tasks and see how your list looks now.

Time Boosters:

  • Stop It: – what would happen?
  • Delegate it, but don’t dump: – who else could do it and benefit?
  • Partner with someone: – might be quicker and more fun to work with someone else
  • Partner it with another activity/task: – for me singing and cooking go nicely together
  • Plan out the time and stick to your plan, you may be surprised by how much you can get done in fifteen minutes of focused attention.
  • Identify and make time for those activities that you enjoy and that give you a boost.

So in terms of your time:

  • What do you need to let go of? – Do you really need to do it all?
  • What do you need to take on? – Who else can help and support?
  • What are you actually going to do, now?

Be your Own Rainbow – Part One

Posted by on Jan 28, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

“Do not draw your sword to kill a fly” – Korean proverb

In other words are you expending your energy as effectively and purposefully as you could be?

This month it’s all about managing your energy, particularly useful I think as we start the New Year.

Be your own rainbow – Managing your Energy

Generally, the word energy is used to describe the idea of vigour, movement and vitality. Something that has power to exert and make change.

I also believe that it is about having that ‘spark’, that extra ‘zing’ in your step.

Without your spark, you might feel like you are ‘wading in treacle’ with just enough energy to cope with what’s on your plate right now.

So take a moment now to consider what metaphor or image you would use to describe yourself when your energy is high and you have your ‘spark. It might help to either write/ draw your metaphor or image.

Now also take a moment to consider the image or metaphor you would use to describe yourself when your energy is low and your ‘mojo’ has simply gone missing. What do you notice? Are they similar, completely different? What might tip you from one to the other?

How wisely are you using your energy? How might you be squandering the energy you have? Are you fighting battles that are no longer relevant?

When I was younger I had ‘bags’ of energy and ran around climbing all sorts of ‘mountains’ simply because they were there. In those days I had the time and energy to get away with it. Now, I am far more aware that my time and energy are a finite resource and that I need to choose where to direct my energy and focus to best advantage.  Sometimes this does involve me putting myself first and simply saying no to requests from family, friends, colleagues etc.

So how do you know, when your energy is at the right level? What do you notice about yourself?  Where do you feel it physically?  For me, my stomach is a good indicator. That’s where I will feel it when I’m not quite operating at my peak – when my energy is low there is often a corresponding dip in mood.

Energy Boosters

  • Daily time out, physical change of scene.
  • Make it a priority to get outside and appreciate the outdoors.
  • Take regular breaks – time to just, ‘be’.
  • Find a hobby, an alternative focus that absorbs and engages you.
  • Make a list of five energy drainers – then do something about them. ( A cluttered desk, wardrobe full of unworn clothes are some of mine)
  • Make sure you are eating a well-balanced and nutritional diet

So in terms of your energy:

  1. What do you need to let go of? – are you using your sword to kill flies?
  2. What do you need to take on? – What activities, people will help recharge you?
  3. What are you actually going to do, now? 

Choosing to thrive

Posted by on Dec 9, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This month’s post from careerresilience all about thriving despite how you feel. 

As I write this, I must admit that for a variety of reasons October and November are difficult months for me. It’s the same each year as I find that everything drops like a stone, my energy levels, confidence and motivation. These are the months when I’m most likely to feel like sh*t and can barely be arsed. Though to be fair this usually disappears once Christmas has passed and normally I am content to wait it out. But this year I am going to try something different, just to see what happens. Instead of hunkering down in survival mode, I am making the decision to thrive, despite how I feel.

So, this month’s post is all about what it means to thrive and I’m going to use this simple statement:

I am choosing to thrive, despite how I feel.

Thank you Pixabay!

If you want to read thr rest please click here: 

Hope you enjoy!

A short story:- Elizabeth and Anne

Posted by on Oct 31, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I have long had an interest in Tudor history, particularly, around Elizabeth I. However, thanks to Hilary Mantel I have more recently, become as intrigued by her mother, Anne Boleyn. To me it is deeply ironic that it is Elizabeth, Henry the VIII’s second daughter that reigns on her own for over forty years, when he was so preoccupied with begetting a son.

But sad, too, that Elizabeth never really knew her mother, so this is my imagining of the two women having the opportunity to talk frankly about their lives and it’s my small tribute to them, both.

So, without further ado I give you:

Elizabeth and Anne:

A conversation between daughter and mother 

If you would prefer to read the story in full please visit here

 

 

 

Driven, rather than motivated….

Posted by on Oct 5, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Looking back over my life and career so far, I have come to realise that I am quite driven and that changes in my ‘drivers’ have coincided with key points in my life.

My ‘drivers’ haven’t felt quite like motivation in the normal sense to me. I’ve experienced them as more visceral, in the gut, ‘fire in my belly’ sensations to quote the ubiquitous Lord Sugar 😉. Internal forces that have propelled me in different directions at different points in my life.

In my twenties at the start of my career it was all about the money and attaining some financial security. I left my Polytechnic as it was then with a job to go to in East London as a graduate engineer.  Then spent about six years bouncing around London, living in shared accommodation until I was able to buy my own place for the incredible sum of £25,000. You would just about get one beach hut in Brighton for this now. Glad I bothered to fact check this as my original guess was two ;).

In my thirties, it was all about time and flexibility. Finding ways to save it and then moving across to self-employment. A period of juggling between further study, starting my own business and towards the end of my thirties becoming a mother for the first time.

To read the rest, please click here

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