Exercise – Getting My Just Desserts 

I have written in recent blogs about my quest to find clothing to accommodate my new shape and flatter my new curves.

You may have noticed that I have very tactically avoided the very delicate subject of exercise and diet, other than the odd reference to Prosecco and salad.

I have noticed!

For the record, I have been one of those annoying people that has glided through life eating all of the wrong things in excess and never putting on a pound.

I’ve also glided through life as a bit of a fair weather exerciser.

So really you could call say that I am getting my just desserts.

And that is of course where the problem starts.  With the desserts.

But I’ve had my moment and it’s time to give something back.

To shape up or ship out.

The problem I have, quite simply, is that I do not like exercising and I do love eating.  And generally I love eating all of the wrong things.

So in my cosy little corner, I have continued to do all of the naughty things very well.

I’ve always had an interesting relationship with exercise.  Interesting in so far as I’ve never really found an activity that has interested me.  Don’t get me wrong I’ve loved a lot of the classes that I’ve done over the years but probably not enough to continue ad infinitum.

And it’s the keeping going that has been the sticking point.  I am very easily able to find a million things I would rather be doing and a further million as to why I shouldn’t be exercising.

I have never been a person that has enjoyed exercising.  I have waited my whole life to experiencing the ‘high’ that people speak of from running but it seems to have just run straight by me – literally.

I guess I’ve always assumed that everyone else is enjoying their efforts and that is why they do it.  So I suppose I’ve always been a bit embarrassed to admit that I don’t enjoy it.  A bit uncool even.  Because whenever I see people showing up either by running or going to a class, I assume that are enjoying themselves and experiencing the ‘high’ of which people speak.

If I had a flag with me, I’d wave them on.

My current loves are Yoga and Walking.  Exercise of course but not the toning, fat burning, pulse racing kind of thing that perhaps I now need.

It was somewhat timely that I noticed an advert for bloggers to participate in a free private coaching session in return for an honest review with Samantha Hadfield, Fit & Flourish, Body Transformation Expert.

Wonderful, I thought.  This ties in perfectly with my series around body changes for the 40+ woman.

I had no idea what to expect from this Transformation Session but I guess in my little heart, I probably had high hopes that I was going to return home sylph like having dropped two dresses all toned and lovely.  In an hour!

See what I mean about my ideology around exercise.

So off I went to meet the lovely Samantha at her new location in Covent Garden.

Samantha Hadfield

Samantha is a Body Transformation Expert who helps women who are fed up with feeling fed up, tired of feeling tired, have tried everything and nothing has worked and who just want to do something to transform their bodies once and for all.  The key is to provide women with the tools and knowledge to not only reach out to their body, health and fitness goals but to also maintain their new body for life.

We talked about me, my hopes, my pitfalls and we went through the usual tests and checks to establish my body metrics.

I was weighed on proper scales and not the set that I move around the room until I get my desired weight.  How cruel!

We also did a brief fitness assessment to establish where I was at with my fitness levels.

And then the results.

And I needed to hear the results.  Because actually, deep down in my trainers and in my cosy little eating place, I knew that it was time for some action.

And this is where someone like Samantha comes in.  Because it’s all about accountability.  About knowing that someone is going to hold you to your commitment.  Knowing that when you can’t be bothered, there is someone waiting for you to turn up and help you to achieve your goals.

It was also music to my ears to know that actually most people DON’T enjoy exercise.  This was a revelation to me and it made me feel so normal I wanted to hug this wonderful lady.

Samantha went on to talk about the different exercises she introduces to her clients and how they tend to work in groups.  The main focus being on having fun.  Because actually no one wants to be doing exercise but it is necessary and it does take us to the place we want to be.

We also talked about food.  Again, I love it eat but do I spend time considering what I am eating?  No I don’t.  Again, not unusual.

We then went through a mini training session which I have to say I did thoroughly enjoy.  I also found it difficult which is testament to my current level of fitness. And I ached the next day so I really felt that it had done some good.


There was just time left in my session to set some goals which was a great focus for me.  I talked about what I didn’t want to have to do anymore – keep buying larger clothes and what I did want to do – feel comfortable and get back to wearing the things that I wanted to.  To be able to look in the mirror and say ‘yep, I’m happy with that’.

Unfortunately, I am unable to participate in a regular programme with Samantha because the location doesn’t suit my current commitments but if I was working in London I would have been able to accommodate the schedule.

Samantha has recently moved from her premises in South London to Covent Garden so that she can focus her attention on helping people like me.

People that have a goal, that have struggled to commit to a form of exercise and that need to work with someone that can tailor a programme that suits their individual requirements.  Samantha offers a very flexible programme for working women that allows them to exercise at convenient times (ie before and after work and during the lunch period).  Most importantly, she is there to cheer you on and will be depending on you to turn up.

I have seen some of Samantha’s success stories that she has shared on her page and it is heartening to see the people for whom her programme has really made a difference.  Here is a link to Samantha’s page.

I gained a huge amount from the time I spent with Samantha.  She told me what I needed to hear and in turn I heard what I needed to be told.

My action started from the moment I walked out of the studio.  Knowing that I would be unable to get into town regularly, Samantha shared lots of ideas of alternative exercise programmes that may be suitable for me.

I have started to look at what I am eating first of all because I know that I can do this.  I’m a big advocate of making the change you want to see and this is no different.

It’s not going to be easy, nor am I about to embark on a life-changing journey but now I know that I’m not the only one that finds it a drudge, I do feel a bit better.

So please do smile sweetly if I should pass you whilst I’m out for a spot of ‘mum’ running!

Exercise eh!

Do you love it or hate it?

Nicky

I was gifted the Transformation Session for the purpose of providing a review of the service offered by Fit & Flourish.   All thoughts and opinions are my own and in line with my expectations as if I were a paying client.

I only review products and services that are in keeping with the content and ethos of this blog.

 

 

 

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Writing Prompts For Your Business Blog

In a recent post, I wrote about the many reasons why a business should blog.  You can read it here if you missed it Why Should a Business Blog?

What I would like to talk about in this post is some suggestions and ideas for the type of blog posts that you may want to consider writing and sharing with your audience.

Perhaps you are ready to blog but are still short on ideas and inspiration.  If that is the case, I have listed some simple writing prompts below to help get you started.

What Have You Worked On In The Last Week?

This is always a great one for getting the creative juices flowing.

Have a think about the things you have been working on in the last week.  Have you worked with a new client?  Perhaps you have been involved in a process that is slightly different to your usual work?  Have you completed a new project? Is there something here that would be of interest to prospective new clients?  Share it, explain the process, tell your readers why it was successful.

Refer to your new client, if it was a business to business transaction, perhaps there is an opportunity for collaboration.  There is a good chance that it may be of mutual benefit to your combined audience.  There are several prompts here that are certainly blog worthy.

Niches That Need To Be Explained

Does your particular business have a niche that needs to be explained to your audience.  Is this something that could be set out over a series of blogs?  If clients understand what you do, it helps them to see why your services may be of benefit to them.  If they aren’t well informed they may not see how you could help them.  Make it easier for people to do business with you.

The Devil Is In The Detail

Don’t fight shy of detail.  You may be the expert at your business but your prospective client isn’t. Sometimes it can be simple blocks and misunderstandings that can prevent us from investing in a service.  Spell it out.

Anticipate Customer Questions

Are you asked the same question regularly about your product or service?  If so, this is certainly blog worthy.  Simple explanations and answers to popular questions make great blog material.  You can refer potential customers to your posts over and over again.

It’s Not Just About The Words

If you have a creative business, let photographs do the work for you.  We are always drawn to an image – look at how popular Instagram and Pinterest are.  Some of your fabulous images followed by a few words about the process or journey can provide a very interesting blog post for your readers.  Perhaps you have a gardening business – let the service work for itself through images.

New Products & Services

Are you about to launch a new product?  How exciting!  Have you told your customers?  If not, why not?  This is fabulous news and you need to be sharing it.  Perhaps you are looking for some feedback before launch?  Again, ask others for their thoughts.  This is also a great way to get a dialogue going through your blog comments section.

Don’t Forget We Want To Get To Know You

We are more likely to place our business with someone that we know, like and trust.  Allow us an insight into the face behind the business.  Perhaps you have a team?  Introduce them if so.  This could be a blog post of its own.  It puts faces to names and provides a personal touch.  Don’t be afraid to intersperse posts with snippets about yourself either.

Be Current

At the time of writing this post, the weather is scorching.  If my business related to fans, coolers, outdoor furniture or such like, I would be missing a trick not to talk about my products on my blog.  Today the hashtag #toohottosleep is trending on Social Media.  Imagine if your product was the solution!

So there we have a few suggestions which will hopefully be sufficient to help you to start popping some ideas down for a blog post.

Still struggling?

In my next post, I plan to share an example of a business blog.

If there are any business owners that are finding blogging difficult to approach or feel that their business doesn’t lend itself to a blog post, feel free to drop me a line via my Contact Page.  I would be happy to include your business as an example.

Good luck and thank you for reading.

Nicky

 

When Scary Mary Shows Up

Stiletto Shoe

I refer to Scary Mary as the one that shows up when you are about to do something that is out of your comfort zone.

Sometimes she even brings her mates!

Scary Mary will often show herself when you are taking a step into the unknown or doing something that is a leap towards a goal that is for the greater good.

Often we play safe and keep on doing things the way we know.  We will continue on our journey in a way that is comfortable.  If we keep doing the things we are good at, then we don’t get found out by Scary Mary.

Conversely, this is generally the time when playing safe is a luxury we can ill afford.

Quite often we can find ourselves plunged into change that we hadn’t planned for.  And never one to miss an opportunity for a holiday, this will be when Scary Mary turns up with her suitcase.  She will bang on for hours and hours about ‘pitfalls’ and ‘shoulds’ until we want to jump into her suitcase and hide.

What can be really confusing though is when we really do want to make a leap. And then out of nowhere, we are suddenly overwhelmed with ‘what-ifs’.  I can only assume that ‘what if’ is a distant relative of Scary Mary that shows up when she is busy.

It is generally the case that the thing that terrifies us the most is the thing that ultimately pushes us on to something better.

I say this with confidence as I know that this is certainly the case for me.

The phone call we don’t want to make, the meeting we don’t want to go to or the event that we are about to attend – the one that scares the hell out of us.  I’m sure you can think of more examples.

A fear of failing, looking daft, supposing this happens, supposing no one is interested, I really shouldn’t be doing this, this is absurd and so it goes on.

Been there?

A fear of failure and success in equal measure.

At times like this and when we feel this way, it is very hard to imagine what might happen if we just allow ourselves to show up.

That we might actually get the gig or stumble upon a true gem.

I always work on the logic whenever I am about to do something ‘scary’ that whatever happens there will always be at least one benefit to having just ‘shown up’.

I used to be incredibly shy and a roomful of strangers would send me in to a tail spin.  And although I do still have a quiver in large groups (small groups are my preferred arrangement), I’ve got it covered now and will always truck up to events, often by myself.

I’m sure even the most confident of people have to give themselves a pep talk in the toilet sometimes.  I comfort myself with this fact.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m also a realist and there are times when the best advice would have been to stay home and wash my hair but these times are generally the exception rather than the rule.

One of the biggest examples for me of ‘showing up’ was being dragged along to a business networking event by a dear friend many years ago.

To say that I was terrified is an understatement.  It was one of those events where I was scared to shake hands with anyone for fear of sweaty palm syndrome whilst at the same time praying that no one would ask me about myself.   I  stayed terrified during the whole event despite having a great time.

And I went again and again.

That event was probably one of my defining moments.  I met people that day who I consider to be among my closest friends now and I have to say that the people and business owners I have met, and continue to meet through networking, have taught me more than I have ever learned anywhere else.

Equally, there is generally always humour around at times of a wobble.  This means you get to sit in the loo having a pep talk with yourself while giggling at the same time.  It is when we are trying to act normal that we find ourselves doing or saying the most random of things.

If you happen to find someone that also finds it funny, you’ve probably got yourself a friend for life.

I once went to an interview which involved climbing lots of narrow stairs. So narrow that I had to walk sideways.  A bit like a crab.   Naturally, I wore my ‘bestest’ high heels.  Just as naturally one came off and bonk, bonk, bonked down the stairs in slow motion past the interviewer.  This meant that I very unnaturally had to hop down the stairs in my suit to reclaim the shoe at the bottom of the stairs while trying to make a ‘normal’ conversation about it.  That was interesting.  I drew the line at making a Cinderella crack.

Stiletto Shoe

Sometimes you just know that you aren’t the person specified.

No amount of over-planning could have prevented that one.  There is always an element of fate in our day.

And I think sometimes it’s the over-planning that is part of the problem.

Because shoes will always be shoes and they are unpredictable.

Scary Mary is also unpredictable.

She comes and she goes.  She will rarely share any wisdom or advice.  She will be clean out of ideas and she will certainly never warn you against wearing stilettos.

And no matter how fearful I may be, I will always show up.

As the great saying goes, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you keep getting what you’re getting.

It is so easy to think of reasons why not but it is generally only the reasons why that are worth pursuing.

I know that I am not alone in this.

These are the types of conversations that people have with each other all the time.

In fact, my daughter expressed concern recently about attending an event.  I shared with her the fact that it is quite usual to be a little bit nervy when we are going somewhere new or with people we don’t know.  That grown ups feel like that sometimes too.

And I would be a bad mother if I didn’t warn her off the stilettos wouldn’t I!

So that’s me.  How about you?

Do you glide into new situations naturally and with ease or do you skid in with your shoes glued on and a comforter in your bag?

Nicky

PS No offence if your name is Mary by the way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First Year

Champagne. Prosecco.

Precisely one year ago today, I wrote my first blog post and sent it on its way into the ether.

It took me a long time to get to that point but I’m so glad I did.

It turned out that it wasn’t just my two friends that read it and that indeed it has been of interest to some people which is rather exciting and scary at the same time.

I am also delighted to have a mixed audience, although I suspect that they may be more supporters of Iron Man!

Over the last year I have fallen in love with this blog and all that it has brought.

Despite always wanting to do it, I never really knew what it would entail and the opportunities that would come my way.

I have met some wonderfully amazing people as part of this little online notepad.  Small businesses and entrepreneurs are thriving out there.  It is a joy to see.

Blog. Blogging. Blogger

I shall attempt to explain blogging – many people ask – many wonder why and some people think it’s well – just odd.  I did too.

For me blogging is every job I ever wanted and everything I love to do – all rolled into one.

It is an opportunity to blurt out what is on your mind, engage with others, flex your creative muscle, network with others and get involved in talking and hearing about lots of different things that you may not otherwise have heard about.  Blogging offers a multitude of opportunities and can also be paid work.  It’s also a way of using everything you have ever learned from many years of working to bring things together in one place.

It is also very hard work.  It’s not just about the writing and coming up with the idea.

Getting your blog out there takes days and hours online sending it on it’s way in order to gain readership.

You have to find your reader as it is highly unlikely in the early days that anyone will ever find you.

Most people will have no interest whatsoever in what you write – fact.  Nothing personal but that’s the way it is.

Many millions of people are doing the same thing.  Many very successfully.  It is a very competitive area.

Broad shoulders, patience and tenacity are required in abundance.

I am merely scraping the surface.

Every like, share, comment and follow is appreciated by a blogger far more than you will ever know.

Thanks. Thank You.

Many posts will never get any comments or likes, some will get loads.  Again, just the way it is.  One also has to factor in the wonderful algorithms of social media and it’s best friend Google.

I am pleased to say that I am not deterred by any of this.

I have listened to feedback from readers and at the same time, I am expanding the blog to talk more about the things that are important to me and in turn my audience.

I will be making a few tweaks to the blog itself to incorporate personal development, lifestyle and blogging for the small business as well as general musings and, of course, parenting.

It has never been my intention to be a parenting blogger.  More of a mixed bag with a focus on things that are of interest to me.

The Kid has just reached her 10th year and my blog is not a space where I wish to invade her privacy so you probably won’t hear too much about her unless it is particularly relevant.  I will only share things that are comfortable for all of us.

Iron Man will not be getting off quite so lightly!

Our family. Iron Man. The Kid. Me.

The most important thing about blogging is to be authentic.  Stepping out of your comfort zone is another.  There is also a delicate balance between sharing and over-sharing and this is something that is always at the forefront of my mind.

It is my dream to turn my passion into work through this blog by writing about things that resonate and appeal to me and that are in line with the content of my site.

I am happy to enter into working collaborations with brands and people that are relevant to this content and to the ethos of my site.    I am also happy to consider reviewing products and services that may be of interest to my audience, without my site becoming overly promotional.

Equally, I am able to provide content for others.

So another step into the unknown, more learning, lots of writing, treble the leg work and more, even scarier, stepping out of your comfort zone moments than I care to think about.

And perhaps a part-time job in the meantime to keep everything ticking over.

So time for Year 2 and I’d better get cracking as Iron Man is eyeing up the holiday brochures again!

No peace for the wicked!

A huge thank you to you all for reading, contributing, liking, debating, giving your points of view and everything else that you have done that has been supportive of this little space.

Nicky

 

 

 

 

 

Being A Make-Up Artist

 

10262155_10156598114755556_910807236022384390_nContinuing with my theme around Celebrating Success and Cheerleading, I am going to be talking to the Make-Up Artist, Alanna Flanders-Doughty.

I first met Alanna a few years ago when I participated in a styling makeover which was a collaboration between my hairdresser, a stylist, a photographer and a make-up artist (Alanna).

Alanna was just embarking on her journey as a Make-Up Artist (just over 3 years ago) having left behind the security of a full time job.

I remember really enjoying hearing about all her plans for work and the various training she had done and would continue to do.  I also remember that one of the big challenges she also faced was to learn to drive.

That was 3 years ago now and through Social Media, her website and sheer hard graft, I have seen Alanna turn her business into a roaring success.  She has worked in magazine and television and has the most amazing portfolio.  She is also travelling all around the country in her own wheels!

Of course, this success doesn’t come handed on a plate and Alanna has been tireless in her efforts to build a reputation in the industry and this is one of the things I have admired most about her.Painted09.jpg

Photograph : David Bradford

Alanna, you chose a path into an extremely competitive industry, tell us about how you managed to get a breakthrough?

A lot of hard work. When I first started I knew no one in the industry at all. I had to start from scratch. I began by building my portfolio which involves meeting up with a new photographer, model and stylist to get pictures. You are all working together to create some nice images for your portfolio. You have to do this quite a few times to start with to build up enough sets to make a nice portfolio website for yourself. Whist doing this you need to get yourself out there by assisting other established make-up artists to learn how to work in different environments. All these things help you build your profile. It takes time but soon all these people you meet will start offering or putting you forward for jobs. As you can imagine it does take a long time and lot of people aren’t able to make it work. I’ve been very fortune to make it pay off a lot quicker than some, I guess I just really wanted it and knew I could do it.

I often see you make references to Make-Up Artist’s being expected to work for nothing in exchange for the prestige of working for a ‘brand’.  This is of course a common problem for small businesses.  How did you deal with that when you were starting out? 

I simply said no!  The unfortunate thing about these make-up schools is that they aren’t teaching the students the rights and wrongs of this job. So when you leave it’s pretty much up to you. A collaboration is the only thing you should do unpaid, everyone is doing it for pictures and no one is making money from you all working together. When a brand approaches you this is a different story. No matter how new you are you do deserve to be paid. The promises of exposure simply aren’t true. Be true to the industry as accepting these kind of jobs doesn’t help us to move forward.  You are worth it.

What advice would you give to other small business owners starting out alone? 

Never give up. Nothing happens over night. It really does take a lot of hard work. You will have knock backs and in the beginning you might feel like you have made the wrong choice but keep going. If you love and enjoy what you are doing, the money will follow.  Fortune favours the brave.

alanna

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Oh gosh their have been so many I just enjoy getting up everyday and doing what I love. I’m very lucky. I’ve worked with some celebrities, commercials and at The BAFTAs. It has all been amazing.

Who/What keeps you accountable and motivated? 

I have to get the work myself. No one is going to do that for me. Even when I’m not out on set I am still working from home promoting myself and doing admin. I will still get up and get dressed for work every day.

What stopped you from giving up?

I just knew I could do it. Everything I’ve done in life I have done to the best of my ability.  No matter how hard it was in the beginning I knew I could make it work. Going back to my 9-5 desk job just wasn’t an option for me. I was enjoying what I was doing and I wasn’t prepared to give it up. I’m very stubborn and headstrong! 

You will have seen my recent post about Cheerleaders.  Were you lucky enough to have the support of others? 

If I’m honest, I was surprised about the support I’ve received from some people but this has only made me even more determined to keep going. I think things like this do show you who matters. I am so grateful to those who have shown me support, ‘ve received some lovely messages and compliments from those least expected. My fiancé, mum and dad always tell me how proud of me they are and are amazed of how far I’ve come in this time.

Any further goals you want to share?

I’ve got a very long list of goals for this year. It’s the first year I’ve actually written them down. They are on my fridge and I look at them everyday. They are really ambitious so I’m hoping I will have a few ticked off soon.  As for what they are well I would like to keep that to myself for now!

Painted04

Photograph : David Bradford

Alanna, thank you so much for taking part this series.  It sounds as though you have some exciting plans on your list of goals.

It must be a wonderful feeling to be able to look back and reflect on how much you have achieved.

I have to say, I’d book you out every day to do my make-up if I could!

You can find out more about Alanna’s work on her website.

Alanna is the last of my three lovely local ladies who have participated in this series.  You can read more about the others here :

Heather Waring – Walk to the Rhythm of Your Heart

Laura Piercy-Farley – Sharing the Success of E18 Yoga

Thank you so much for reading.  All comments are welcomed and will be responded to.

Nicky

Walk to the Rhythm of Your Heart

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Continuing with my theme around Celebrating Success and Cheerleading, I am going to be talking to Heather Waring today who has recently launched her new business around walking and transformational walking experiences.  The walking experiences focus on providing you wonderful women with space and time to reflect on the life you want to be living – hence ‘Walk to the Rhythm of Your Heart’.

I first met Heather at a networking event several years ago when she was working as a Business Coach.    She is a woman with many strings to her bow and I find her incredibly warm and engaging.

As well as being a brilliant Business Coach, Heather has always had a great passion for walking.  One of her pursuits has been walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostella from Le Puy en Velay in Central France.  Heather has walked a section every year since 2008 with a fellow walker.

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What I really love about your story Heather is that you are bringing together your skills and passions and turning this into your work.  A perfect combination for success.  You must be feeling really excited about sharing this?

It’s a really exciting time and so heartening to see it all come together at last.  I’ve had many parts of this plan for a long time but a number of issues have stopped it coming together before.  One of the biggest issues was myself standing in my way and not allowing my passion for walking and the difference it could make shine through.  I believe this is true of many of us women.  Our self belief is not always as apparent to ourselves as it is to others.  I ran myself into the ground a few years ago through helping everyone else but not myself.  Through that recovery, I found out so much about myself.   It also enabled me to see very clearly how many other women are the same and how I can help them become the best version of themselves. Walking is my sanity, it allows me time and space and the health benefits are enormous.  By knowing my values and then using walking as the vehicle, everything has fallen into place, it’s all aligned with my top values and I get to do what I love with people I love, every day and I get to make a difference too.

Your story perfectly encapsulates the message in my recent blog about celebrating success, I talked about how it can be difficult going it alone, getting an idea off the ground and keeping it going.   You have done this very well – any cheerleaders?

Working for yourself isn’t for everyone as it can be lonely and that’s not something you should ignore.  If you need a team, then perhaps working from your kitchen table is not for you. I actually like the space and peace that I get from working on my own but that’s because I have built a number of support systems. For example I am in my 10th year as a member a women’s networking organisation which meets monthly and the women I have got to know there are like a family. These friends are the people I can pick up the phone to which is really important when I’ve had a bad day and need to sound off or get advice.   Equally useful when you have something to celebrate and want to share good news.   We support each other reciprocally.

I have other communities too which provide support and opportunities such as my speaker colleagues and most importantly my Mastermind group.  My current Mastermind group consists of 5 women (myself included) and we know each other inside out.  We have no need for pretence or  anything other than openness and honesty.  They are probably my top cheerleaders and I love them to bits.

As regards celebrating success,  this is one of my big things.  In my family it’s any excuse for a celebration and that’s something I encourage, and often insist, my clients do. It doesn’t have to be expensive or take a long time but it does have to be a celebration (however large or small).

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Of course the theme that runs throughout this series is not just about being a business owner.  It’s about allowing ourselves to have a go at doing the things we have always wanted to do.    That can be tough for women with so many conflicting priorities.  How did you make time for ‘your thing’

The first thing I did was to ensure I married a man who knew that freedom was important to me and that I needed my space. I was older when I got married so maybe this helped but it’s really important to know your values and what makes you who you are and then to build from there. You need to honour your values so creating an environment for this to happen is crucial and communication is important. 

Although I’d always walked, my passion for it started to build at a very difficult time in my life when I was being bullied in the workplace and my daughter was a toddler. I took on many personal walking challenges and when I was training, that walking gave me a break from all that was stressing me. On top of a mountain, life does show you perspective!

It’s really important to make time for you and what you love and to find a way to make that happen. 

I had to be a little selfish, which is a word with so many negative connotations, and something we women find so hard but when your needs are met you are so much more able to help others. I would just encourage you to really strive to do what you want to do, what you need to do and find that balance in the family that allows you to see that through.  Everyone will benefit. Don’t be put off, stay strong, you deserve to forge your path.

And the inevitable ‘shoulds’ that often stand in the way?

‘Shoulds’ are someone else’s agenda not your own. Just think about it and when you say ‘I should’, see it for what it is.

I should go to the gym” for instance – who says? 

You don’t want to otherwise you would go so it’s probably you feeling guilty or wondering what others will say if you don’t show.

“I should get it touch with…….”

Do you want to?  Sometimes we need to cull people in our lives and I would suggest that if there are people we don’t enjoy seeing then it’s time for a cull. By getting rid of some people, we make room for new people who bring us joy.  Please don’t think I am absent of ‘should’s’.  They crop up in my life but over the years there are a lot less and now, in most cases, I recognise them for what they are. There is a lot of guilt in our lives, this fuels the ‘shoulds’.  Changing this isn’t necessarily easy but it can be changed, remember that and next time you find a ‘should’ creeping in, analyse it a little and take appropriate action.

 

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Many people reading this will be parents.  You’ve been able to do all of this while raising your daughter.  That’s not without its challenges is it?

Being a mum is one of the hardest jobs and you don’t always get the recognition or the rewards you deserve so living the life you want while being a parent is indeed challenging.

I go back to something I said earlier about the kind of man I married, as well as knowing that freedom was important to me, I also needed someone who could be a true partner. From the time our daughter was born, he stepped up to the role being a father.  We found our balance which is never a flat surface but always in flux. He travels a great deal so on many occasions it was Ellie and I at home and I felt a little like a single parent (and have great admiration for parents bringing up children on their own).  I need my space.  It’s finding the way forward that suits you and your situation. It’s give and take. It’s important though to have your voice and make sure it’s heard. This isn’t always easy and at times I had to battle that.

You also need wider family or friends that you can depend on to pick up, do a school run, have your child for a sleepover and share the work load with…and also to sit down and open a bottle of wine with. Now our daughter is at University and we have so much freedom but we still plan the times together and the space to do our own things in parallel. The journey never ends, it just changes. 

Walking is a really popular fitness pursuit.  Walking and talking is a wonderful combination.   I imagine you have already had a lot of interest.  When are you hoping to get started with the sessions? 

Walking has been called the ‘near perfect’ exercise because of the benefits it brings; because you need little gear to get going and you can do it from your own front door. You can also do it anywhere so it’s an easy form of exercise to fit in when you travel, great for me.

Many people find talking about personal issues difficult and this is where walking and talking is so great because when you are walking you don’t have to keep eye contact with the person you walk with and this helps so many people open up. There’s also something about walking in the fresh air that expands your creativity and thinking and I find it so much easier to develop solutions and come up with ideas when walking both for myself and for clients. It also takes you away from the people and the environment that may be causing the stress, overwhelm or trauma in people’s lives and again that makes it easier to get clarity and see the way forward.

My transformational walking experiences take women away so that they have time for themselves. Through the walking experiences we exercise every day in a natural environment and learn how to appreciate being in the moment.  There will be the support of others as well as time just for you so that you come away feeling clearer, with a plan to make the changes they want and with new friends and support.  The first of these weeks away will be happening in May and another in late September/early October.

I have also just launched an initiative called Women Walking: Women Talking which is a monthly networking event where women give themselves the gift of a day to walk with others, explore, build relationships and recharge. 

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Heather, thank you so much for sharing.  I am so excited for you, I can see this really being a great success.

Your story perfectly illustrates many of the points I have raised around success in this series.  You have also touched on some very important topics here that helped to shape your direction that I am sure many readers will identify with.

I recommend taking a look at Heather’s website where you can read more of her story and find out more details about the walking experiences.

Please feel free to comment below if you wish to.  All comments are gratefully received and responded to.

Next week I shall be talking to another local entrepreneur about her story.

Thank you for reading.

Nicky

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Sharing the Success of E18 Yoga

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Over the last couple of weeks in my blog I have talked about Cheerleaders and Celebrating Success as part of a series and challenge to celebrate International Women’s Day.

I also mentioned the fact that we never have to look far for inspirational people and how we are particularly well served in our local area for such people.

I am delighted to say that in my blog today I am going to be talking to the lovely Laura Piercy-Farley, the owner of E18 Yoga, about her business.

Laura runs Yoga classes for children and adults as well as personal one to one classes and a pregnancy yoga class at the weekend.

One of the things that has always struck me about Laura is her energy.  I often wonder how many hours there are in Laura’s day compared to everyone else’s.     As well as working full-time, Laura is involved in and can turn her hand to so many things.

She works full-time in a very demanding role, has two grown up sons and manages to play netball, run Yoga classes, crochet and be very active in the community all at the same time.

The biggest surprise is that Laura is due to retire from the City of London police force in June so there is lots more to come for E18 Yoga.

It is clear that Laura is passionate about her classes and the children and adults that she teaches.  She takes a genuine interest in everyone and the children absolutely love her.

 

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Over to you Laura – exciting times ahead, how did the Yoga idea come about?

I started attending yoga class with a wonderful lady Kay Russell after a sad event 14 years ago  to help me deal with depression. I found it so helpful I wanted to share my good experience with others so I trained for four years, whilst working as a riot officer, to teach others.  I have been teaching 12 years (you start teaching half way through your training as a student teacher).

My first yoga classes were to my fellow riot officers! I thought if I could teach them I could teach anyone!

Yoga has become more and more popular in recent years, it’s a wonderful form of exercise.  What would you say are the main benefits?

Balance is the main benefit of yoga, exercise is a by product of yoga! Yoga can bring balance to the mind, body, breath  and heart. You become stronger, more supple, focused, relaxed and dare I say happier, well at least you do in my classes and we spend a fair amount of time laughing!

One of your really successful areas has been working with children.   I know that you have seen really positive results?

Children are a complete joy to teach. I don’t know the exact science behind why yoga is so good for children, however you see a shy child blossom, an angry/sad child be able to better deal with the emotions raging around their bodies and a happy child become happier and more confident. I trust my yoga children to catch, teach and lead me in yoga (see Video of Trust link below)

 

You are an avid user of Social Media sharing lots of useful information around Yoga and well-being.  Has this helped with launching your business?

I get more enquires via social media than any other medium. I will be launching yoga video bites via Facebook soon watch this space!

Another lovely thing about you is that you actively support others with their ventures too.  I have talked about Cheerleaders throughout this series.  Would you agree that you are one?

I like to help local businesses and local yoga teachers, I am a great believer in the rule of three, ‘What you give out free you get back threefold’ .

Whilst I am still working I sometimes get offered classes that I can’t cover I look to local teachers to offer them the work. I know that once I retire that this will come back to me. I am also happy to promote business through my class network.

Who are your Cheerleaders for when things don’t always go to plan?

My biggest cheerleader is my husband.  Without his help I would not be able to teach my classes. He cares for our sons, cooks the dinner, walks the dogs,  does my accounts, maintains my website and much, much more. He also attends my Monday class with our son and gives me honest feedback.

Leaving the security of employment can be life changing but also daunting – has this been a concern for you or is it celebrations all the way?

I have loved being a Police Officer and feel very privileged to have completed my full service of 30 years. It is very unusual for a female officer to reach this milestone.  

I am now ready for the next chapter of my life, spending more time with friends and family, exploring my yoga practice and teaching more yoga!!! Oh and learning the piano, ballroom dancing, Spanish, tennis and the list continues!

Up until now, the Yoga has been a part-time business for you.  What plans do you have for E18 Yoga once you are officially retired?

This was an area of dilemma for me as I like to be busy. I love teaching a variety of yoga class from prenatal all the way through to Fab & Over 50.

However, I have decided that my area of expertise is really teaching yoga to children. I am going to offer yoga to schools as an enhancement to the curriculum. Including Inset day training for staff and how they can use yoga to create a calmer more productive class environment and teaching the children how to use yoga to balance their school days.

I already teach afterschool yoga club at two schools in South Woodford which I love. Those are the children whose parents see the value of yoga, but there are lots of children in school who would benefit from yoga whose parents would never think to send them, i want them to benefit from yoga as well.

I am already in negotiations with a local school to volunteer an hour a week to help children 1-2-1.   Fingers crossed.

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Ben Stansall / 07875 583086 Yoga students practise ‘Downward Facing Dog’ during a yoga class at Wood Street Police Station in the City of London on July 23 2008.

Laura, thank you.  I really appreciate the time you have taken to share more about the E18 Yoga journey and being part of this series.

I wish you all the best with your exciting plans!

You can contact Laura and find out more about E18 Yoga here.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have.  As always, your comments are welcomed and encouraged on the blog.

Do stop by again next week when I shall be talking to another local entrepreneur.

Nicky