Signing out of 2018

Well here we are, New Years Eve 2018. The last year has once again been full of highs and lows. There have been losses, heartache, a lot of soul searching, and a lot of self discovery. I may not be where I thought I would be at the beginning of 2018, but I sure know me better than I did 12 months ago.

If you read my last post New Year, New Goals,you will know that one of my goals for 2019 is to improve my wellbeing, and in particular my self care.

I am currently working my way through Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Phillips book, ‘Self-care for the real world’. In the book, they talk about keeping a self-care bank of resources which is helpful for those days when everything seems to be running away from you, and those negative thoughts are creeping in. The purpose of the bank is to build up enough resources on your good days, when you have oodles of energy and motivation, to compensate for the days when quite frankly you feel a bit more out of sorts.

So, in my final post of 2018, I thought I would share with you the 5 resources I want to ‘bank up’ for those blergh days, to help see me through, and funnily enough, most of them seem to link in quite nicely to my aims and goals for 2019:

  1. To get outside and exercise. Being surrounded by beautiful parks, there are plenty of opportunites to get out there and get fit. I love being outdoors, so what better way to look after body and mind than to take a jog around the local park.
  2. To make time each week to reflect on my wellbeing, and noticing what my mind and body needs to help me get through the week. I’ve said it before, but the last few months have really opened my eyes to my wellbeing, and I am slowly getting better at identifying what my body and mind need at particular times.
  3. To make time each week to be sociable outside of work, spending time with those who make me laugh and bring the best out of me, but also to spend time with those who have similar interests. What’s better than spending time with those who make you have a good old belly laugh!
  4. To make sure I get enough sleep, ideally with my head hitting the pillow no later than 11pm. I need my sleep, and if I don’t get enough, I’m ratty. But equally, I hate to get up late. The key for me is getting between 7-8 hours sleep each night. So as long as I aim to sleep by 11pm on weekdays and middnight at weekends, by body should get all the rest it needs (with the occasional nap thrown in for good measure).
  5. To not take things personally. The days, weeks even, I have wasted on suffering with imposter syndrome due to one person’s stupid comments, when they have no idea of the way they have made me feel. We never really know what other people are going through and where their heads are at when they make comments to us, yet we can really let their comments affect us.

From the 1st January, I aim to bank as many of these resources as I can to ensure that I have a much happier, more balanced 2019.

As this is my last blog of 2018, I would like to thank all my followers, friends (old and new), and my family, for all your love and support in 2018. I am super excited to see what 2019 has to offer.

Happy New Year folks 🙂

See you on the other side!

Becky xx

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5 things i’ve done that make me feel proud of myself

If you’ve read my recent post, Turning 35, you will know that I recently celebrated my Birthday. And if you follow my Instagram account (@Themindfulgingernut) you will know that my lovely mum and dad brought me a book called ‘Self-Care for the Real World‘, by the fantastic Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Phillips.

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One of the early challenges in the book is to write down five things you’ve done that make you feel proud of yourself. Sometimes we get so bogged down in the day to day that we forget to remind ourselves of our achievements. Other times, the Imposter Syndrome kicks in, and we simply can’t find our achievements for the grey cloud that surrounds us.

I wanted to share with you, the 5 things that make me feel proud of myself. It would be lovely to hear what your 5 things would be too, so please feel free to share your’s below.

5 things i’ve done that make me feel proud of myself

I have a degree in Geography and Third World Development

I also studied American Studies during my first year at the University of Northampton (or the University College of Northampton/UCN as it was known back then). I can’t believe it’s been 13 years since I graduated. Where has that time gone? It was never my intention to go to University. I loved school, and sixth form, but the thought of going away to uni and carrying on studying hadn’t really appealed. But as I got closer and closer to my final months in sixth form, I started to think that maybe I should go. After all, if I didn’t, what else was I going to do? I didn’t have a clue what job I wanted, so it only seemed right that I joined my friends, and started to look at university’s. I had a slight interest in charity work, and looked at courses that may help me to go and do charity work in far flung continents. It was then that I came across the subject that became my minor, Third World Development. Once I had decided to do this, it was all about finding a major to compliment this. Funnily enough, my ideal course was sitting in my home town of Northampton. So off I went in 2002, insanely shy, quiet me, signed up to do Geography and Third World Development at UCN. Unlike many local students, I managed to get into halls of residence so I could get the most out of my university experience. I met some lovely people, both students and tutors alike. I also got to travel to some incredible places, carrying out field trips in Majorca, Amsterdam, Valencia and South West America. I like to think I studied hard, but partied hard too. Shy little me was no more. I came out of university much more confident and outgoing than I had been when I walked in on that first day in 2002. I am proud that I achieved my degree, proud that I made the most of my time there, and proud of the new found confidence it gave me. I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone to university.

I completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge

In June 2006 me and my dad travelled up to Yorkshire to attempt the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge. Dad, who worked for the Motor Neurone Disease Association at the time, often came home telling us about new challenges that the Charity were arranging. I can’t remember whether it was my idea or Dad’s to take up this challenge, but who ever’s it was, we knuckled down with a training plan, making sure we covered hills as well as distance. I have particular memories of us training in Derbyshire one weekend, climbing Mam Tor in the snow and ice and being up to at least our knees in snow drifts as we edged towards the top. In order to practice the distance we would need to cover for the Challenge, we also walked around Rutland Water, all 26 miles of it. 5 miles from the end,  just as the rain started to hammer down on us, I felt something pop in my calf. I managed to walk through the pain, and thankfully it was nothing more than a badly pulled muscle. But it was all good practice for the Challenge ahead. The Three Peaks Challenge consists of Pen-y-Ghent (694 metres), Whernside (736 metres) and Ingleborough (723 metres), and a distance of 24.5 miles (although I would debate this as my pedometre definitely clocked up more miles that day!). We woke up at the crack of dawn, met with our fellow walkers and started out on our challenge. The aim of the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is to complete the peaks within 12 hours. It wasn’t an easy challenge. But thankfully with my dad by my side we coached each other on and ended up completing the challenge with 20 minutes to spare. I’m proud of myself and my dad for completing this challenge. Getting out and walking in the countryside truly is the best way to appreciate the landscape that surrounds us. I don’t think either of us could’ve achieved the challenge without the other being there. We knew we were physically ready for it due to the prep we had done beforehand, but how do you mentally prepare yourself for a challenge like this? You can’t. But we got through it together.

I moved to London

If I think back to where I was 10 years ago, I would’ve laughed my socks off at the thought of living and working in London. I was a complete and utter country bumpkin, who would come down to London once or twice a year to visit friends for the day, but would always be grateful to go home again to the fresh country air, and couldn’t really understand how or why people would want to live in the city. I’m now even more grateful of going back home to the fresh, country air every now and again, but moving to London 3 years ago, was possibly one of the best decisions I have ever made. And it was all on a bit of a whim. I didn’t know if it would work out. I had always been quite shy and wasn’t particularly adventurous, but I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. And here I am, over 3 years later. There have been times I could’ve thrown the towel in. Not because of the city, but mostly because of the stresses that have come with the job I am in. However, even in my darkest days, I knew that if I was to look for a new job, that too would be in London, the place I now call home. I am proud that I have stuck it out, proud that I have started to explore places off the tourist trails, proud to call London my home.

I’ve been on holiday on my own

Just over 2 years ago, upon realising that most of my friends were married and/or had children or both, as well as being single at the time, I had a dilemma on my hands. I was in desperate need of a holiday after a year living in London. I desperately needed some sun, and some R&R. I had two choices. To take another week off and stay in the UK visiting friends and family. Or get on a plane and take my first holiday on my own. And that’s just what I did. I was keen to go somewhere that wasn’t too exotic, where people would speak relatively good English (just in case I got in any bother), and to visit with a tour operator that would ensure I was in a reasonable hotel, with transfers thrown in. So off I flew in September 2016 to Puerto de le Cruz in Tenerife. I was nervous flying on my own as I wasn’t an experienced flyer. I only had a handful of flights to my name. I was also nervous about the transfers. How would I know what coach to get on? The flight and the transfers however were both fine. The only real shocks I got, were the lack of English speaking people both working and staying at the hotel (it appears that North Tenerife is where all the native’s go as opposed to the Brit’s), and the transfers coming home, which despite being on my booking form, were not coming to pick me up on the day of my departure! However, the rest of the holiday was fantastic. I met some lovely ladies on an excursion to Mount Teide, who were also travelling alone, and spent a lot of time walking around the town of Puerto de le Cruz, as well as relaxing by the pool, and working my way through a good number of chick lit. I could’ve so easily taken the easy option, and stayed home in the UK. But I am proud of myself for taking a leap of faith and getting on board that plane. I haven’t been on holiday alone since, but I know that will soon change, as I can feel that familiar pull telling me to just bloody do it! Where to next I wonder?

I created The Mindful Musings of a Gingernut

Earlier this year, I decided to start writing a blog. For me, my blog is my way of dealing with a whole load of crap that has festered in my mind for far too long. I am massively open and honest in my musings, which I know comes with it’s risks, but it is sometimes the only way I can voice my thoughts. I still keep a lot internalised, but I find writing incredibly therapeutic and calming. I have not created this blog to find fame and fortune. I have created this as a way of coming to terms with some of the things that have happened in my life. I also find great joy in writing. I had never thought about blogging before. But when it was suggested to me, I started to look into it immediately. It took me less than a month from thought to creation. I can’t begin to tell you how helpful blogging has been so far. And the great community that comes with it. I have met (in the online sense) some wonderful people who continue to inspire me on a daily basis. But in addition, people I have known for years are taking an interest, many of whom have taken me completely by surprise by reading my blogs, and letting me know how much they enjoy them. I’m proud that on another whim, I created my site, proud of having such wonderful online and offline friends who take the time to learn more about me, proud that I am helping others by writing about my experiences, and god damn relieved that this muddled mind of mine is finally freeing up some space to find time to reflect and to be proud of all that I have achieved so far.

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Kicking Imposters Butt

Last night I managed to stop the little blighters from attack!

Who are the little blighters I hear you ask?

That would be the Imposters. The the little nagging voices in my mind that try to tell me I am a fraud.

However, for the first time, I fought back. There was no way I was going to let them win this time.

For the last 6 months or so I have been attending Board meetings, either to report back to board on a particular subject or in my brief stint as joint acting CEO (in between the old CEO leaving and the new one starting, in case you wondered why it was so brief…). This was a challenge of epic proportion in the beginning. We had a brand new board and I wasn’t particularly keen on public speaking, but it went ok and the Board seemed to appreciate my being there.

However, last night’s meeting was the first one with our new CEO in attendance. In addition, we were joined by a member of the wider team, who was there to provide a report linked to my section of the meeting.

I felt a little bit of pressure with the new CEO being in there, but for some reason, the thing that nearly released the imposters ready for an invasion, was the confidence that oozed out of my other colleague. He completely smashed his report, the Board loved him, and I walked away thinking he had done a much better job than me. On top of that  I started to convince myself that maybe the Board would now think our senior management team would benefit from him being part of the team rather than me.

I was proud of my colleague, but also a little bit envious. He had presented with so much ease. He was clear, concise and had wrapped the room around his little finger.

On the journey home, I tried to remember some of the skills my coach had taught me in one of our earlier sessions. One of the tactics we had spoken about was to think of positive things that had happened to me during that day in order to quash the imposters. It was far from easy. I genuinely thought I hadn’t done anything well.

But then I got a grip of myself, and within minutes I was compiling a mental list of all the things that had gone well.

Later on in the evening, I received a text from my CEO congratulating me on my update and saying it had been a “really authoritative update…“. Automatically my mind told me this was negative! What did he mean by authoritative?? Did this mean I came across as bossy? Rude even? I have to admit, for someone who has a good understanding of the English language, and is attempting to blog, I had to google the word to fully understand what it meant in this context. I cursed myself afterwards for thinking so negatively. Of course it wasn’t negative. It was a compliment. And a bloody good one at that!

I guess part of the battle is being aware of the imposters. I was annoyed at myself for having almost let those negative thoughts take over. However, I am also incredibly proud of myself for having recognised that they were creeping in, and before they could take over, I was able to find a quick solution to kicking their little squidgy butts.

They are now firmly locked back up in their cage, allowing me to crack on with my weekend, without a dark cloud, or an imposter in sight, or mind…

Happy Friday everyone!

Onions

Rumour has it…I’m an onion.

Over the last few months at work, members of the senior management team (myself included) have been receiving professional coaching from a lovely lady called Beth. My sessions with Beth are pretty epic. Sometimes I think they are more like therapy sessions then coaching sessions. Either way, I seem to need them. It s great way to offload and in the process I am learning a lot about myself.

During Beth’s last visit, I was described as an onion. Not because I smell like one (thankfully), but because I have lots of layers. Ironic, when people in my past have said they like for my simple nature. I’m far from simple. I know that. But being described as an onion!?! I’m not sure I saw that as much of a compliment, but it does make sense.

Admittedly, I do show some random characteristics and behaviours.

I am unable to accept compliments for one. We have explored many possible reasons why this may be. However, we have drawn a blank on this one and parked it for now.

As much as it is sometimes nice to draw a conclusion about things and to put behaviours in a box, sometimes, we just have to give into the fact that we don’t know the root cause, it is just the way it is (for now at least). Despite not knowing the cause for this behaviour, it is still an area I am working on.

It is my natural instinct to reply to a compliment with a negative.

For example, a couple of weeks ago, my friend complimented me on my driving skills. Instead of thanking her, my reaction was to laugh and tell her that she was only person to think that (most people aren’t that kind about my driving).

Why do I struggle to thank people?

I am however, becoming more aware of this. Now when someone compliments me, I automatically go to respond with a negative, but I am learning to pause, realising the comment is complimentary, and although I don’t respond immediately, after a pause, I am slowly learning to say thank you and leave the negative response parked in the corner. Overtime, I hope the length of the pause will shorten, but for now, I am grateful that I am at least noticing the behaviour, and working to resolve it.

I think the most life changing characteristic we have identified is the fact that I suffer from Imposter Syndrome. I have possibly suffered with imposter syndrome for much of my adult life without realising it. I can think back to a number of times when I would receive a negative comment about my performance, and I would let this fester away in my mind for days. The only way I can describe it was like having a dark cloud over my head that I just could not shift.

I don’t tend to get the dark cloud as much anymore, but more worrying in some ways, I can feel my heart racing, which comes with a dull ache in my chest and a kind of sinking feeling.

Part of me is grateful at being ‘diagnosed’ with having imposter syndrome. Giving a name to the sinking feeling took a lot of weight off my shoulders, and made me feel a little less like I was going insane. For those of you who may not have heard of imposter syndrome, neither had I until my first coaching session. In short it is a fear of being found out to be a fake or a fraud, that our achievements are based on some type of fraudulent behaviour, as opposed to actually just being really good at what we do.

Imposter syndrome for me comes in waves. It is not something I suffer with all the time. My trigger seems to be other people’s comments. I have recently come out of a particularly bad wave of imposter syndrome, triggered by one persons comments, which then made me doubt myself. I had the ‘sinking’ feeling for around three weeks in the end. And quite frankly, it was exhausting. It was all I could think about. It affected my performance at work and my mood at home. It was demoralising and made me feel horrendous.

I am working with some new techniques to deal with this. My current trend goes something like this:

Trigger  > Reaction > Perspective

The ultimate goal is to avoid the trigger. However, in the meantime, I am trying to work on:

Trigger > Perspective > Reaction

The aim is for the reaction not to be as long lasting, or in fact, not to be there at all. By putting perspective into the trigger first of all, I should then be able to see that the comment wasn’t necessarily a dig at me, but could’ve purely been the result of someone else’s bad day, or simply realising that there was truth in the comment, but there are solutions in order to fix the problem. Fixating on other people’s comments is not healthy.

Ironically, the individual who made the comment that set off my last trigger, doesn’t even know the impact it had on me.

Eventually of course, I rationalised things, and realised that the reason I reacted so badly was because I already knew I wasn’t performing at my best in a particular area of work, I didn’t need someone else to tell me this. But, as they say, truth hurts. And it did. For three god damn weeks…