There was a beautiful rainbow over Edinburgh last week. It was the sort of rainbow that makes you want to stop what you’re doing and take lots of photos. Rainbows have always been a sign of hope and promise and it got me thinking to points in my life where I’ve seen rainbows at the exact times I needed a bit of hope and a promise of better things (and yes, I took photos!)
In May 2016, we were told that my cancer had returned and it was stage 4. I was facing radical chemotherapy and then a stem cell transplant. We were a bit shellshocked as family and so we decamped for a few days to our favourite Scottish island to process everything together. On the first night, we looked back over to the mainland and a massive rainbow was stretched across our horizon. We needed that encouragement.
Two months later, after my first set of chemotherapy I was ready to have my stem cells harvested for the transplant that would happen in September. We’d been offered a pioneering treatment option and if it worked it meant that I’d be able to go on our annual family holiday before having the transplant and spending a month in hospital. Nervous doesn’t really cover how I was feeling. As we drove into the car park, a glorious rainbow arched over the hospital. We needed that hope.
I looked up what exactly causes a rainbow and Wikipedia tells me that a rainbow is “a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky.” Next, I googled ‘simple explanation of a rainbow’ and Discovery Kids told me that, “rainbows happen when sunlight and rain combine in a very specific way. The beams of sunlight separate into the colours we see in the rainbow as they enter a raindrop.”
I like that. I like that the light has to enter into the raindrops to create the rainbow. It needs the rain and the sun and the sunlight has to break into the storm. When we’re standing in the middle of a rain storm, either real or metaphorical, it can be hard to believe that the sun will shine again, but it will. The light will return and cut into the raindrops and even if we’re still soaked through the sun will eventually come out again, a rainbow will light up the sky and we’ll be reminded of fresh hope and promises of better things to come.
If you’re standing in a storm this week I encourage you look for the rainbow. It’s coming!
Every year when I was a child my grandparents would grow a red amaryllis from a bulb. It was a source of great excitement to watch the stem get taller and the bud grow and eventually flower into an explosion of colour.
Now I grow my own red amaryllis every year in their memory and also to remember some of that childlike anticipation of the blossoming flowers.
This year's bulb didn't quite match the description on the packaging! Its very different to what I was expecting but it's still beautiful!
My oldest daughter has M.E. It is a completely debilitating condition which leaves her with very little energy and a lot of pain and weakness. This same daughter absolutely loves animals and really enjoys going to the zoo, specifically to see the armadillos.
These two things are currently in opposition to each other and it has felt like an insurmountable challenge to plan an ‘animal day’ that wouldn’t wipe her out for the days following it.
Sometimes we can be faced with circumstances or situations that seem impossible. I’m learning that they often just need a lot of creativity and a bit of risk taking to try some new solutions. The answer is out there, it just takes a bit of finding.
After much thinking and searching I came across the wonderful Calum from Cool Creatures who has a veritable menagerie of animals. He brings them along to all sorts of events from gala days to after school clubs to parties and also, most crucially for us, home visits. Did I mention he has an armadillo!
Yesterday, Calum and Ellie, the 3 ringed armadillo paid us a visit and my daughter got to stay in the comfort of her own home AND handle, feed and bath an armadillo!
It turned to be the perfect solution and even better than we could have imagined!
Now for the cute photos!
Calum was absolutely brilliant yesterday and I can’t recommend him highly enough. He was friendly and informative and made sure it was a brilliant time for my daughter. You can find him at https://www.facebook.com/Cool-Creatures-101124869968074/
This isn’t a sponsored post in any way I just want to pass on a great business!
Most mornings I make a loaf of bread. When I say ‘make’ what I mean is put the right ingredients into the bread maker and press the right button.
So that everyone in our household can eat the bread it has to be wheat and dairy free. It has been a bit of a challenge to find a recipe that works but I have one now and generally speaking, it’s a great success.
It does have some quite unusual ingredients though and it got me to wondering why they’re there and if it would be easier to do without them.
The recipe includes vinegar which improves the texture of the dough and encourages the dough to rise as often gluten free breads don’t. Apparently a small amount of vinegar creates an acidic environment which the yeast loves but too much can kill the yeast.
The salt strengthens the dough and hold onto the carbon dioxide that the yeast produces which helps give the bread a good volume. Too much salt and the flavour is ruined.
The yeast produces the carbon dioxide by feeding on the sugar that is in the recipe. It is this carbon dioxide that makes the bread rise and its the caramelisation of the sugar that makes the brown crust. Too much sugar and the bread looks burnt and has a hard crust.
This set me to thinking that often we think to be a ‘good’ person we need to be less acidic, less salty and more sweet. Actually, using this bread analogy we need all the parts of us, we just need them in the right amounts. Without the vinegar and the salt my gluten free bread wouldn’t rise and would fall apart. With too much sugar it would be burnt and hard on the outside.
The characteristics that we see in ourselves that we think we need to get rid of perhaps don’t need to go at all. We might just need to adjust the amounts of each so that we work as a healthy whole of all our component parts.
I couldn’t talk about my bread making and not show you the finished loaf. I was tempted to substitute the photo for a perfect loaf (I do get them some days!) but I thought it was good to show to you this one -bumpy top and all.
Its not picture perfect but it still tastes great. A bit like life really.
New Year. New You. Its a seductive headline and at this time of year a lot of us are thinking about transformation and what we’d like to change and achieve in this coming year.
I’m not convinced about the ‘New Year, New You’ line though (and no disrespect to anyone who has used it!) because I’d like to throw another thought into the mix. The thought that the you that you are right now is already good enough.
Saying something like that sounds like I’m doing myself out of a job. Surely, as a life coach I want you to want to achieve more and set goals so that I can work with you to achieve them. Well, yes, but most importantly I want you to set the right goals and you set them from a healthy place.
We live in a world where we are always encouraged to be more, to do more and to get more. The underlying message is that we are not enough and so we must strive to be better. There’s even a name now for the fear of not being perfect; Atelophobia, the fear of imperfection, of never being good enough. Having goals and a purpose to work towards is part of a healthy mindset but so is the belief that our self worth is not dependent on achieving those goals.
We can all fill in the blank of the sentence I am not _______enough. Try it! It won’t be long before you have a mental list of the areas in life you feel you’re not quite making the mark. Imagine for a second that instead of all the not enoughs, the truth is that you are enough. Its the famous Bridget Jones line where Mark Darcy tells Bridget, ‘I like you just as you are.” (sorry if you miss the cultural reference!!)
You’re already enough. What sort of feelings does that stir up in you? Acceptance, disbelief, defensiveness, ridicule? It seems a simple concept yet deep down I think its a hard truth to embrace and live out.
As a life coach, of course I want to help to you achieve your goals and work through life issues with you. I also want to help you on a journey to realising how enough you already are. That realisation allows us to connect better with people, to love better and to achieve more because we begin to believe we are worthy of all of these things.
Here’s an interesting quote I found when I was reading around this subject:
“For me, and many of us, our first waking thought is ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ The next one is, ‘I don’t have enough time.’ Whether true or not that thought ‘not enough’ occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining or worrying about what we don’t have enough of .....”
Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money
I really resonated with what this author was saying so I’m trying a new thing. When I wake up in the morning before all the other thoughts crowd in I’m learning to say:
I am enough for today. Whatever gets done or is left undone I am still enough.
It’s an experiment and I’ll report back at some point on how its going. Do want to join me in giving it a go?
When the first Jurassic Park film came out I was living on Arran for the summer and had to wait a while to see it in the cinema. There was so much hype around the film that I had high expectations but left the cinema feeling decidedly underwhelmed. I’d heard similar hype about ‘The Greatest Showman’ and so went to see it with a bit of trepidation in case it was another cinematic let down.
This time round the film exceeded everything I’ve heard about it so far! Its a feast for the senses with wonderful storytelling and with so much hope and humanity woven through it all. Its the sort of film I want to watch again and again and I know I’ll see something different every time. These are the thoughts that struck me yesterday and I’ve tried to keep my blog spoiler free!
Know your who!
Barnum has a successful show but he’s constantly striving for approval and support from the higher echelons of society. His focus is on those who don’t accept him rather than those who already do.
It’s so easy to chase that next recommendation or ‘like’ on any social media platform of your choice, that elusive friendship or approval from a specific person and its even easier to forget that we already have connections, friendships and people who already like us and are cheering us on.
Not everyone in this world is going to like you and what you’re doing and that's okay. Find the ones who do like you, who like what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They are the people that you are a blessing to and they are your ‘who’; the people you are designed to reach out to, to connect with and to have an impact on.
Find your tribe!
At one point Barnum’s dreams come crashing down. That’s not a spoiler, it is a Hollywood movie after all so it follows the formula of young boy does good, disaster, redemption! He’s left with a group of people around him who are like family and still believe in him. They’re willing to invest and to continue believing in his dream even when everything seems dire and they’re not the people that you might expect to be there.
We all have people who will cheer us on when things are going well. It feels good and it is a great encouragement for us to keep going. There are fewer people who will continue to believe in us, cheer us on and believe in our dreams when circumstances are against us and things aren’t going our way. There’s fewer of them but they’re there. Find them. They are your tribe, the people who have your back, who believe in who you are first and foremost and who believe that you are capable of great things. It may only be one or two people at first but start there and value them greatly.
So I leave you with two questions:
Who are you a gift to?
Who is a gift to you?
And of course a massive recommendation to go and see the film!
Hello! I feel both nervous and excited saying that, even if it is a digital hello! For as long as I can remember I have been passionate about seeing people living lives full of joy and purpose. When my teenage daughters ask for advice in life my reply is generally find what makes you feel alive and then find a way to do more of it (and tidy you bedroom while you’re figuring it out!)
It is often so much easier to encourage others rather than ourselves. Last year I finally won the battle against Stage 4 cancer (YIPPEE -all the capitals there!) so I asked myself what, in this new season, will bring me joy and purpose?
I’ve dreamed of being a life coach and I’ve talked of being a life coach and now I’ve studied and qualified as a life coach. Its so much more than I ever hoped it would be and to have a way to help and equip people to live more awesome lives feels pretty wonderful actually!
So here I am at the beginning of the new year, knowing that its time to introduce myself, to start something new and to trust in the magic of new beginnings. I’m writing my first blog post for my new website, saying hello and feeling a little bit like I’m in the roller coaster carriage just as its starts to move along the tracks and the ride is just beginning. It feels good!