It’s Christmas Jim, but not as we know it.

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December 2020 marked quite an astonishing milestone for British TV.

On the 9th December 1960, the first episode of Coronation Street was broadcast. Originally, it was only supposed to be for 12 episodes…

Now, 60 Years later, it’s still going. Airs multiple times per week and has become the biggest soap in the UK. Who would have thought it? Way back when. And it has endured all the ups and downs of life and change. Whilst Corrie, as it’s affectionately known, isn’t quite my cup of tea, I can’t ignore the accomplishment.

And isn’t how all the best success stories start?

“Well, it was only supposed to be…”, and before you know it, something remarkable has been established.

This sounds like starting small has its rewards. See how it works out. Test and adjust. And be open to the opportunities you never thought possible.

For 2021, how might you seek out the smallest thing to start? And see where it leads you…

As the year comes to a close and the final push to get everything in some sort of “done” state…

(Oh, because it’s worth mentioning that the second part of starting things is to finish some of them too ;-D )

I am feeling rather bittersweet about 2020.

So many things started. Some really good. And some really awful.

And here we are. Still. Riding the crest of change.

It’s a good time to look back and remember all the things we did achieve this year. Even through all the adversity, challenge, disappointment and zoom fatigue – because those really are the wins.

The accomplishment that was sought through committed work and hard emotional labour.

Resulting in mastery that you own, and no one or no thing can it take away. It’s yours now to nurture, stretch and grow.

Learning the value of rest and gratitude, I am taking a break for the festive season and bringing in the New Year with renewed passion and courage.

I wish you all the very best and look forward to seeing you in 2021….

There might be something interesting there, just out of sight, a bit blurry and on the edge of the horizon.

Best go check it out 😉

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No tea and sympathy around this campfire…

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A sneak peak… Shhhh, don’t tell my publisher XD 😉

“…So, the only one flapping over Alphie, was Alphie. In her new found appreciation for what was right in front of her, when she did get to write this all became obvious and the nerves were calming as each day passed and her self-awareness grew. She even breezed her Bridge Watch assessments which were followed by the well-deserved stop in Malta. Once they sailed again – Alphie would be a fully qualified Bridge Watch Keeper. And whilst she felt like Scott had dragged her kicking and screaming into this new lease of life, and it still sent her stomach into a turn from time to time – she could see the good in it. She had started to find some sort of meaning to her existence on this tin can.

And being around a small group made her feel at home, like she belonged and she had purpose. She had been searching for this feeling since the day they sailed, or may be even before that. From when she joined the team at bootcamp, she bonded deeply with them but still didn’t know where she fitted into this bigger picture which, for the most part, she could not see. And when they joined the ship, she was lost again.

Her buddies had all dispersed to their respective departments and responsibilities and it was like that happened every day.  They would meet for meals and then disappear and Alphie would just tag along again.  Going through all the different shapes, trying to make her peg fit.  And now, it was like purpose found her.  Once she stopped looking, and let it.”

Join the club. You are all invited. And it’s not for everyone.

We serve up neat bourbon and hard emotional labour.

BYO MM (Mischievous Mindset)

Ding ding… Time at the bar please. You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.

The December Edition of Gather & Share is: Success Stories. You need only bring your story and curiosity for others.

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And there is still time to submit your Ask Me Anything Questions to mark the 100th Blog Celebration.

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One Year On…

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Something came to my attention today…  

I realised I missed a milestone.  How did that happen????

A couple of days ago I remembered I have surpassed my first anniversary as a veteran.  It was 23rd Oct 2019 that I left the confines of a military establishment for the first time in 15 years with the plan to not come back (never say never, right?).  And the moment completely passed me by.  And I wondered why that might be?

Is it because I have given up counting the days?  Maybe I am adopting a more infinite mindset and the time has become irrelevant?  Or am I so caught up in all the new and exciting stuff I have going on, that to stop and consider when something came to an end wasn’t required?  Maybe I don’t feel the need to be nostalgic about that time anymore?

But…  I thought it would be good to have a look back to see how far I have come and give myself a big old fashioned gold star for effort.

Completed TMS7

Completed my coaching qualification to make my skill official.

Was unsuccessful at an interview for a role at Exeter University, and learned much more about my narrative and interactions with the outside world.

Got a job as a kitchen assistant… lasted 6 shifts because I moved my ailing grandmother into my home and there she stayed.

Christmas came and then I went to Tenerife for NYE and had a well-deserved holiday.

Did a vision board for the first time and took more of interest in the networking groups.

Got the writing bug and joined the Creatives Workshop.

Delivered a workshop about mentoring for the Naval Servicewomen’s Network and met Princes Anne.

Almost lost my little old doggy to old age…. Then the time came in September to say goodbye for the last time.

Wrote a fiction novel.

Volunteered to mentor for the Princes Trust and helped Exeter University with an online summer school. 

Been in a 6 month lockdown and continue to semi-shield because of the risks to Granny.

Renovated the garden and planted up a whole bunch of veggies – they were yummy!

Have been part of a mastermind group for over a year now and I would not be who I am today and will be tomorrow, without their support and keeping me focused.

Interviewed for a podcast for the first time. And I would like to do more.

Found my WHY, and started living it.

Recorded a series of videos for my YouTube channel about creativity.

Working on building an online community, without all the terrible social media distractions. “Online for the greater good”

Met wonderful, brave and inspiring people. 

Now editing aforementioned novel and plan to self-publish, the one thing I couldn’t do was the cover design and that is being outsourced.

Host weekly group discussions for the Akimbo Alumni Community and host GoGoDone Productivity Sessions.

Host my own Gather & Share Digital Campfires, so that we can feel belonging and less alone in our ambitious quests.

Was selected for an altMBA scholarship to start in Feb2021, I have wanted to do this course for two years, and now, it is time.

Sent a pitch to the Simon Sinek Team. It didn’t matter what the outcome was, it was the act of creating it and sending it that was important to me. Learning to set aside the attachment to outcomes and leaning in to the possibility and the Practice.

Where I am now doesn’t quite look like I expected it to a year ago…

It was necessary to lean into fear, doubt and uncertainty, and navigate that at a whole new level when the Global Pandemic effected all our lives.

I have learned A LOT. And I know I made an impact on someone’s life and helped them make an impact in theirs and others around them. 

And for that, the actual outcome is waaaaay better than I anticipated or even planned for. 

Gather & Share is back and this months topic is: Success Stories. And we would love to hear more about those.

As this year draws to close… Thank F… ully! It’s a great time to look back on your success stories.


What did you do well and why? And how might you leverage those skills / opportunities and do them even better?

What’s on the Ta-Da list for 2021? And how might you get there?

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Now it’s your turn to tell me…

Baking in Legacy

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When grappling with knowing my self-worth as a woman and setting my own bar as opposed to obeying to someone else’s sliding scale of potential / success / pay, I have been led to these questions:

Where do I get my sources of validation?  And do they value intellect and contribution, as opposed to physical attributes and money?  And what’s the climate I’m marinating in?  

My most scathing criticism and judgement came from other women, whilst I was working in a male dominated work environment.  Who, for whatever reason, may have their own flavour of reduced self-worth from the way they were formed as girls growing up and as women in a finite career driven culture.  Maybe they were trying too hard or they thought that was the way they were supposed to do it.  Who knows, that’s a psychological conversation between them and their therapist, and not for me assume.  I have also heard that swagger in women is generally rare and most often they question whether they are ready for the next promotional opportunity.  

So how might you learn to be a better editor of your own life? A great place to start is with the book Necessary Dreams by Anna Fels. A striking reality of how and why women devalue ambition and shy away from recognition.

Which was a nice lead into the weekly prompt discussing single stories.

What do we assume about a person from a story about a group of people and what do they assume about us back?  If we share all in the first meeting, that’s very vulnerable place to be and we might not want others to know some things about us just yet.  We intentionally place the mask / filter / censor there to protect ourselves.  And others might do the same.  

Or do we impose that filter on others because it’s easier to assume a stereotype, instead of doing the hard work and emotional labour to get past the mask.  And what do we take as gospel from public figures who may be only telling the single story about others?  What assumptions do they make and for what purpose?  How might that single story better leverage their point and prevent us from further questioning their rationale?  Where are the plot holes and gaps?  And do we fill them to fit our worldview and make our version right, or do we seek to find the right answer?

At the women’s networking, the speaker advocated Women’s Studies so that we have other stories to go on.  Then I watching a programme on TV, Alison Hammond was discovering the Black History that is stitched into British History and has gone unrecognised.  She met with a group of women who visit the grave of a prominent black nurse who pioneered a hospital during the Crimean War, and there is a memorial to her on the bank of the Themes.  What struck me about this group of women was their age, 50 upwards.  So where are their daughters, granddaughters, nieces and aunts?  Where is the legacy to keep this annual pilgrimage alive? 

If we were more intentional in our values and beliefs, and sought out other stories to define and explain our culture and discussed this openly, would there be a need to embark on a formal period of study? Particularly, when our time is such a scarce resource. How might we foster a place to hand down our stories and encourage the next generation to learn and appreciate the history and strive for better in the future?

Instead of making the decision to learn on purpose and the need to carve out the time and energy, which might create more problems than it solves and wonderful hiding places and rationale for not doing something, I believe in creating a more natural space for learning and curiosity, so that it becomes an instinctive and more unconscious competence or skill.

I utilised coaching to tackle my blockers around self worth and validation. Previously working in a larger organisation it was easy to accept and adhere to the definitions as per that organisation – “It’s the way it has always been and how we do things around here.”

Now I’m freelancing, I’ve not really established my own “Appraisal Policy”, so to speak. I’ve not set my bar or how and when I’ll raise it.

And to do the hard work of figuring out my metrics, going beyond monetary values, number of clients or books sold. Taking a more qualitative approach to measure the impact maybe ???

Also looking at the “who’s”.
Do you continually seek the validation of a person who’s never satisfied? Like a parent or friend. And maybe repeatedly returning to these people because they simply confirm your fears and you keep yourself from stretching and succeeding. They might even have their own fears and a single story they tell themselves and imprint on you, because they can’t even imagine another narrative is possible. They keep you timid because they think timid.

How might they feed and enable you to hide? And what’s the consequence of challenging them?

Who might be better placed to challenge you with more care and mentorship? Who can cheer you on or provide a leg up as you stretch for that next bar? Are they someone who is coaching you for your development and allowing the space for you to grow bold?

This is something I’ve asked myself as well, and I am also finding it hard to assign a measurement metric for it.

What if we replace “measure” with Chequered Flag? :checkered_flag:

What are your Chequered Flags?

“Today someone said (insert sentence), and it made me smile.”
“I was complimented for… and it made me super happy.”
“One of my clients told me they achieved…, and I felt really proud for them.”
“I spent less time doing… and more time doing… so that…”

The scathing criticism from the past might have left a scar on my self-worth. But, the joy brought about from the generous support and gratitude of others created a beautiful tattoo just beside it.

How might you incorporate a daily practice of gratitude and joy in the work you achieve?

Help Me Celebrate My 100th Blog!!!!

I am grateful thiiiiiiiiiis much (arms out-stretched to the sides as wide as they can go) for all your support for this blog and being dedicated subscribers. I really hope they have sparked thought and curiosity into your life. And I would be overjoyed to continue the conversation with you more directly. To help me mark this wonderful milestone, submit your questions via the form and I’ll answer them on the 100th blog. For email subscribers click the link below.

Ask Me Anything Here

PS – No, no one should eat yellow snow and I don’t know where babies come from.

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What the fricketyfrack am I doing?

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Can you be all of who you are and still be successful?  Am I able to be myself in the work I’m doing?  How do I feel about that?

Were questions posed in a recent weekly discussion group. First we thought it would a good start to define “success” and define “work”.

Thinking about Liz Gilbert and her definitions of hobby / job / career / vocation – you don’t always need to love your job. It can be to pay bills, so that you can do the work you love. Is this leading the way to reconciling the work you get to do with the work you have to do? And how might our expectations about ourselves be at play? Are they too high or too low? Are we choosing to compromise ourselves, because it’s the path of least resistance? Because often, we can more easily put our needs aside, in the service of others and tell ourselves a story that it’s ok to do that because its generous.

When I got really clear and drilled down on my WHY, this was a massive leap for me and I am able to use this as a compass to determine the work I want to do and get to do.

So then, what about all we could be?  What if we could be in a constant state of becoming ourselves?  Always growing and learning.  Is this possible?  Or do we need a pay off or an end change consequence from time to time?  The infinite game is good, but you still need some finite mile stones along the way to enable you to test and adjust course.

Or are we getting so caught up in becoming, that we forget who we are today? Jumping ahead to the next version or iteration of ourselves, instead of starting where we are and moving forward.  And where are you putting your energy?  For the busy fools and productivity addicts, how might you reframe your work to strive for more progress, not ticks on the check list?And by not embracing who you are now and where you are now, how might that be holding you back form where you want to be?  Are you hiding from your true self because it’s scary and you fear success?

Because for the most part I have experienced an environment that didn’t foster trust or create safe spaces. As a result, it allowed fear to manifest and prevented me from “shipping” my thoughts, creativity and services out into the world.

I have low confidence and self-worth. Having always sought the permission of a superior and been on the receiving end of someone else’s sliding scale of appropriate pay and promotion prospects, I had very little control over my actions and would often censor my beliefs, fears, desires and values as a way of fitting in and not causing a fuss.

I suppose to an extent, I preferred / opted for the role of “follower” when there was a worthy cause and someone else was leading the charge. What I have only just figured out is, leading the charge does not have to be noisy or disruptive. This can be achieved from a place of calm and deliberate action. The kicker is, it still requires a butt load of vulnerability – and when that’s at stake, I now realise I do prefer to be at the pointy end and in more control, and bringing others along with me who feel the same and want more and to change things for the better.

Now it’s your turn to tell me

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A Little Less To-Do. A Little More Ta-Da

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I went on a call to discuss Celebration and unpack why we don’t give the smaller wins the mini-celebration they deserve.

On the call we discussed how we already celebrate and there wasn’t much to discuss. We don’t do it enough. End of.

I have Wine-Down Friday. A reward for getting through the week… without losing my shit and launching my laptop out the window.

Instead, I might have Wine-Down Friday… for winning the week and take the time to look back on the stuff I did achieve and the progress I made towards a bigger goal.

Feels very different.

Gather & Share: Self-Sabotage is only a few days away. What story will you bring?

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The Dreaded “F” word

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My weekly discussion group brought up some discomfort around the word “failure” – the dreaded “F” word…

Failure, fail, fall, flop, foul-up, frustration, floundering, deFeat, flunk, folding, faux pas, flash in the pan, fiasco, fatal, fault, flaw, fizzle, foible, fumble, farce, faulty….

And the one you were all thinking of: Fuck-up!!

Here’s a reframe one of the participants offered: Describe a time, when you intentionally helped someone through an awkward and messy moment of learning?

One person discussed exposing people to the zone of discomfort to help them get comfortable in the zone of learning.  And they did this in a controlled way or a situation where the outcome was irrelevant.  The only outcome worth noticing was how they felt and the change in their feelings after being in that situation.

Another described a team working flat out to create something amazing, only for the client to come along with a new strategy and specification literally in the eleventh hour.  This caused them to manage unexpected dissatisfaction and complete a tight turnaround to get the desire outcome for the client. Stretching their perceived capacity.

My contribution was the training exercises we were subjected to in the military.  Whereby, on paper, they were designed for you to fail and then cross-examine – what went well, what didn’t go so well and what could you do differently?  In reality, this created a blame and shame effect that often left people despondent and discouraged.

The outcome of the conversation drove us towards considering…  It all starts with Trust, way before the intentional failure / learning moment.  And must end with After Care – to help people see the learning opportunity or the gift of change available to them.

Athletes train in places that are safe to practice, get feedback, test, tweak and adjust, then prepare for the day the races. And Brené Brown considers comfort as a sign that learning is not taking place. She has reframed discomfort as a sure sign of growth.

Now it’s your turn to tell me

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First Days

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“As they made their way to the MedBay a sudden feeling of fear washed over her again, but more intense this time.  Alphie had always worked solo until she joined the bootcamp a year ago.  She’d done leadership exercises during that time and it was ok when it was Neil and the others, but this, this was for real.  These were real life people who would be looking to her for guidance and direction.  And they would know her history.  Either expecting her to be amazing – which meant she would be dramatic disappointment for them.  Or they would expect her to be awful – and that she could manage.  But she didn’t want to disappoint them or confirm their suspicions either, she wanted to do this right…

Alphie paused at the door, before stepping over the threshold and doing it with very slow and deliberate movements.  She wanted to remember this moment because it was as though she were stepping into her new found skin.  Her heart began to beat a little faster, but it didn’t make her afraid, it was urging her to be brave.  To enjoy this new feeling and to let go of her previous life.  This was a new landscape, a new frontier and the anticipation became thrilling.”

A passage from the novel I am working on

A few weeks ago I held a Gather & Share Digital Campfire to discuss the “My First Day…” stories among us and opened the conversation with this passage from my novel.

We discussed how starting new things always carries a phase of awkwardness and lack of knowledge – you don’t know what you don’t know.  So then, knowing all that now, it might pay to expect this and not give ourselves such a hard time on Day 1.  Just embrace and enjoy that glorious time of anonymity when you weren’t the go-to-of-all-things. 

A few themes emerged: 

First days can be overwhelming and filled with masses of information. Mix in with that the fear of judgement by others on your first impressions, finding your boundaries and setting them. So, what’s might be the learning opportunity for you? Often by presenting a shielded persona may not serve us, because we end up with people we don’t want to be with. Then becoming more “you” as you go along becomes more challenging and in the long run wastes time. Interpersonal relationships can be the foundations for future relationships good and bad.  So ultimately, next time it’s a first day start mapping place and people, learn the rules, set the boundaries, and be yourself as soon as possible.

It makes these awkward moments of emerging conscious incompetence much more digestible if there is a cause or mission or greater purpose behind them.  

Find the familiar – that feeling of home, even when you are somewhere new. Embrace stepping into the unknown world of place and people – find the wonderment and excitement of innocence.  

First days are very different to first times – first days are a phase, period of time and a journey with highs and lows.  Look to end on a high before day two.  As day two evolves into the road to mastery.

Also, to expect surprises, you never quite know how things are going to play out or who you might meet.  It often comprises of making new connections – mapping the lay of the land and mapping the people you encounter. Who does what and where?  #isthereanappforthat ???

And it almost always pays to have a coach or a guide.  Some who has walked the path before and can help you navigate, and who will allow you the space to practice and build on your determination – beyond your initial excitement to get started.  This really helps when the going gets tough and you hit a dip.  The same goes for when there is a team you can lean on and get through it together. One day, you might be a Sherpa or mentor for someone else and they will appreciate the guidance, just as you did once.

This November’s Gather & Share Campfire is Self-Sabotage. We would love to hear your story and help you unpack it a little more so you know what to look out for in the future.

You can sign up here.

Now it’s your turn to tell me

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Seeing Metrics for their True Worth

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I caught myself, looking at metrics.  The ones that we think define our success and when we don’t also consider the context. 

Why do we let them define us?

I was in a workshop and was tagged in a post and realised that student’s thread had over 1500 posts!!!! 1500!!!!  And they are a beautifully wonderful person.  We love them for their creativity, generosity and their soul.

Then I questioned myself, is that not me?  Gosh I would love to be that connected and appreciated.

Then another friend, who I also consider to be beautifully wonderful, generous, kind and someone I activity pursue spending time with, their thread had under 100.

Then of course, I checked mine – I had 282.

So, does the amount of interaction dictate your credibility / worth?

I would assert, it does not.  And yet we do it.  Out of conditioning maybe? 

We let these metrics dictate too, when we are the ones in charge.  

And all I can think is, that 1500 strong thread must have been very time consuming.  How much of that time was put there, when it might have been more usefully placed elsewhere?  What was the sacrifice for that time and energy?  Does that person even think it was worth it?  Or might they feel they have misused that time and have a learned another lesson altogether themselves?

For the workshop – I set the intension to post in my thread for myself, as did my close friend.  We kept our threads tight because we know overwhelm all too well.  

And I was about to type up my oringinal notes that questioned how might we have gained, if we had just given a bit more?  Where was the excess that we could have reallocated to our thread interaction?

Then I had a different thought…

My friends and I understand how the daily thread can consume much of our time. Time and energy that could be used out in the world, in the projects we are involved in and for the people we serve.

After all, it is only a workshop.  Granted not just any old workshop, but a workshop nonetheless.   The daily writing thread informs me and helps to grow my inner work, and it is me that goes out into the world – that’s where the work starts to… well, work! And that work must be afford the time and energy it deserves. 

Now it’s your turn to tell me… here

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For the Inner Creative,

Keep finding the cliff-edges of your comfort zone, and leap.

Happy Hunting & Gathering.

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