I am a big reader.
I love to read. I always have done.
I can read a book in an hour, I can devour 5 books in a day…I rarely get the chance to read for a whole day these days, but I am a fast reader so have been known to on many occasions.
I have had periods of my life though where I haven’t read at all, these have tended to coincide with quiet unhappy times on reflection. Because when I am reading I know I am prioritising myself, taking my own learning and growth seriously…taking time out for me.
When I was off on maternity leave for example I had a huge period of time to read, I was unemployed and unsure of what I would do next so I read books on all sorts of topics. I would go to the library most days with Rose in her pram and get 10 books out at a time…and whenever I travel I read heaps of books too, it’s how I unwind.
Even though I am busier these days running a business and training for marathons I still read a lot. I listen to audiobooks when I run, and I normally have 2 or 3 nonfiction books on the go either hardcopies or on my ipad…I haven’t done much fiction reading this year, something I would like to change for 2018…so any recommendations of a must read novel please do send them my way.
Anyway, I estimate I have read around 100 books this year…so the 10 I am going to highlight are a bit of a mixture really, and I am choosing them because they changed me somehow, and maybe not because they were the best book of all times, if that makes sense…oh and they are in no particular order….so here goes…
The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle
So I read this book during a time this year where I was quite anxious and overwhelmed with work. It really helped me to realise how rarely I lived in the present. I have often been one to think about the past or focus on the future and forget that the here and now is what is important. I think when you are running a business, or building a life where the hard work is now and the benefits are likely to come in the future it is easy to miss out on all of the wonderful things which you have available to you now. Having small children around is a great reminder of that too…they are not very small for very long so being present and in the moment is essential.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
Now this is a real cracker and such a good buy for this time of the year. IT’S ABSOLUTELY LIFE CHANGING. Before reading this book I didn’t realise I had a problem…or perhaps I did but I din’t want to admit to it and I definitely was not ready to start addressing it. This book on the surface is about tidying up, getting organised and getting rid of stuff you don’t want…and even stuff you do want, but shouldn’t really. It opened up a tin of worms for me around what actually brought me joy in my life and what just made my life more challenging…it helped me clear out a wardrobe full of clothes that didn’t fit me, bookshelves full of books that I will never read again, and most importantly it helped me to upgrade my purchases…so rather than 5 quite shitty bags from Primark, one decent one which I will get real use out of. I don’t think you can understand the real value of this book without reading it…the concepts can be applied to so many areas of our life. Decluttering is a major pastime of mine now…and I’ve stopped buying so much crap in the first place.
Every Body Yoga, by Jessamyn Stanley
Now I love everything about Jessamyn Stanley….I mean just check out her instagram account to get an idea of her awesomeness. Anyhow, I met the lady herself a couple of years ago and she has helped me to realise that Yoga really is for EVERYBODY. This book is not just a series of instructions about how to do Yoga, but it also goes into Jessamyn’s journey with the practice. In a world where imagery is so powerful the sight of a larger body doing the poses I tell myself I can’t do is so important. When I met her she said that often the same things which stop us on the yoga mat are the things which hold us back in life too, fear, resistence, lack of patience. It is a brilliantly practical book, but is so much more than that too. One of my goals for 2018 is to get on my Yoga Mat everyday…what I do on the mat might not be as epic as Jessamyn, but I want to get into the habit of at least facing it.
You can be thin by Merisa Peer
I hate the title of this book. I hate what it stands for. I hate some of the content…but I love that I learned a lot about myself through reading this. A few years back I threw out all of my diet books. It was the declutter of all declutters…and I felt to much better once they were gone. The reason I bought this book was it was recommended by the Hypnotherapist who worked on my retreat. It talked about a type of hypnosis that I had found to be quite powerful in identifying some of the early memories around body image and my relationship with food. So I gave it a go. There were lots of really provocative suggestions around what to eat and what not to eat some of which I still can’t shake from my head…but also some really interesting sections around the types of eaters there are…helping me to understand my own behaviours. I have a lot of respect for the work of Marisa Peer as she has a wonderful track record of helping people overcome addictions. I do think you have to read this with a good sense of self esteem though, because areas of it felt quite shaming. It was most definitely a book which triggered the start of a new way of thinking for me.
Recovery by Russell Brand
I once saw Russell doing stand up comedy in the upstairs room of an Islington pub long before he was famous. He was neurotic, funny as hell, but he looked ill. I have never really had much of a view of him and his antics otherwise. I got one of his earlier books out of the library once and took it back unread as I just couldn’t get into it…into him I guess. But after watching on a TV show recently talking about this book I knew I had to read it. I am only half way through it as it keeps triggering new ways of thinking for me which are quite powerful. I had never really thought of myself as an addict really until reading this book, but I do have addictive ways of behaving when it comes to food. I know I will look back at this book in years to come as a massive turning point. I love how he weaves his own story through the book, and turns the well known 12 step programme for addicts on its head in quite a funny way. I have been avoiding reading the rest of this book the last few weeks because I know I am well on my way to facing some of my demons…and that in itself can be a bit scary.
Blackout by Sarah Hepola
I am about to embark on a “Year of no Beer” well not beer precisely but booze. I have long been wanting to give up and have been reducing my intake for a long time now. I used to be a big drinker…gosh the tales I could tell you…I was your typical binge drinker, drinking to get drunk. I never had a glass of wine with dinner, in fact I rarely had alcohol in the house…but my late twenties and thirties were pretty much weekends in a drunken blur and the rest of the time battling with poor mental health. In the past couple of years I have dramatically reduced my consumption, but I still find myself drinking too much on big nights out with friends, weddings and conferences…the difference now is I am questioning why I do it and what life would be like alcohol free. I don’t know how successful this year will be but either way I know I will learn a lot about myself. And this book? Well I think it is a must read for any woman who has ever forgotten what they got up to after too much drink or had friends of family question their drinking habits no matter how hard that is to hear. The book is actually very funny to read…like seriously funny, but towards the end you realise that it isn’t actually that funny after all. Very powerful stuff.
Living with a Seal by Jesse Itzler
I listened to this as an audiobook back in July during my first ultra marathon. It kept me company for 42 miles and 24 hours. The book in a nutshell is about a block who has an army seal move in with him in an attempt to get into the best shape of his life. The guy was in pretty reasonable shape to begin with but the regime the seal puts him through is out of this world crazy. The book is funny, but also says a lot about human behaviour and the things which drive us. It shone a light on the behaviours that hold so many of us back from being the best version of ourselves and the excuses we use. It was exactly what I needed as I attempted to run the furthest I had ever run…lighthearted enough to keep my mind off the pain I experienced after the first 12 hours or so of running. The book run out at some point and I couldn’t bring myself to start something new…I was so satisfied with my original choice….then I was left with the innards of my brain!!! What was also interesting was that Jesse is the wife of millionaire Spanxs creator Sara Blackley.
Thank & Grow Rich by Pam Grout
Now I have long been a fan of Pam Grout. I have listened to 3 of her books as audiobooks, always while marathon training. She was the one to introduce me to the Law of Attraction. long before I read The Secret. I loved how some of her experiments could be done while out running, I love where her ideas took my brain on those long lonely runs. This one I listened to while I was running a half marathon…it was at the beginning of the year when I was really trying to work on my money mindset and avoid the feast and famine patterns that so many entrepreneurs face in their early years. I thought the book would be about money, but actually it was about wealth in a more general sense. It helped me to be more thankful for what I have, to see my business for what it actually is, to see the power I have to change the world, with or without a million pound in my bank. In fact I think I might listen to this again in the new year. I love how she sets mini experiments to help you make sense of the concepts. Check out her earlier books ESquared and ECubed which are equally brilliant.
The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins
Again a book I listened to while running earlier in the year. A very simple concept. Very much aligned to the way I do things. Facing your fears, taking action, closing your eyes and just jumping. I loved the storytelling aspect of this, and how Mel used these techniques to get herself out of a hole and living a truly inspired life. I think it is definitely a concept that I have been using more and more as the year had progressed. Sending the emails that are scary to send, picking up the phone and asking for help, signing up for things even when you worry it might all end in tears.
The Universe has your back by Gabrielle Bernstein
I remember clear as day ordering this book. I was having a bit of a rough time earlier in the year. I was exhausted. Overwhelmed and filled with so much fear. I seriously did not know where to turn and someone suggested I read this book. It arrived and I literally read it one sitting…and then took the afternoon off and went for a run. I came home to found an inbox full of exciting things and I had clarity like I hadn’t had in a long while. This book helped me look back at my life realising that even all of the crap stuff had led me to a good place in the end. It spoke about staying connected to the things which bring you joy, the things where you are being yourself completely…in flow. Since reading that book I often find myself saying “It’s OK Julie…the universe has got your back” and for all of you guys that don’t believe in the power of the universe or the law of attraction, it is still an interesting read…a book which helps you to find coping strategies and to take inspired action to help things along the way. I loved this book so much I bought a set of Gabrielles cards which sit on my desk for inspiration.
So there you have it the books which really sum up so much of the things which shifted in me this year.
I have a few ideas for books of my own up my sleeves this year…a book about half marathons I have been wanting to write for a while, one around fear and how we can harness it as women, and one about how to live a bigger life…I will wait until inspiration hits to get going on them.
If you want a good book quite fitting for this time of year and written by yours truly, check out New Year, Same You a book all about why new years resolutions don’t work and how you can achieve health and happiness in a more realistic way.
I am really looking forward to 2018…I have massive plans including a new website, a new coaching programme…and maybe even a UK wide tour….watch this space.
And if you wonder how I find the time to read so many books, write my own, run a business, train for marathons and be a mum to my 5 year old…join me on Instagram for my upcoming FREE 10 day “Find time to achieve your goals in 2018” challenge.
You can register here
Oh and remember I am looking for some good fiction recommendations, so drop me a line on social media about what you have read recently.
Last week Thursday I had a really important day scheduled, a day where I really needed the weather gods to be on my side.
I knew scheduling a photoshoot in December was a little risky, and I knew it would be cold…I bought a bright orange scarf for the occasion because of this fact, all I asked for was no rain or crazy wind…and what did I get?
Rain and Crazy Wind.
Well it seemed like that anyway.
I’d got my hair cut and highlighted the day before as you do in advance of these things…of course I wanted to look my best.
My photographer when we had gone over the shoot on the phone earlier in the week had said, “I will make you look like you, but on a good day” but this was never going to be me on a good day. Not with this bloody weather.
It was blowing a gale as I left my home with my nerves and wheelie case in tow, the forecast rain hadn’t even started yet but my eyes were already watering from the cold….there goes my pre school drop off makeup efforts (What the mums at the school gate that morning thought I will never know, most days they are lucky if I have brushed my hair)
It’s funny, because in many ways I wasn’t overly stressed about the weather or even about the results of the photos. I had told myself the night before, that it was out of my hands…what will be will be. I needed new photos this side of Xmas…and I just had to go through the motions and get them done.
The photographer was lovely anyway, a real blast she put me at ease right from the off. Vanessa Valentine is her name, a photographer known more for her actors headshots than photographing East End plus size marathon runners turned life coaches…but hey if she could make me look half as good as some of the folks she normally shoots I’d be happy. Plus, she had come highly recommended by the lady creating my new website.
New website you say?
Yes…I have a new website coming, because I am launching my signature programme in January…and for a change I didn’t want to do everything on a shoe string. I had decided to invest in myself a bit…to have more faith that my programme would sell out…not because of lovely new photos, snazzy new website or wonderful testimonials…but because the course and my ability to transform the lives of the women I work with is bloody brilliant.
I just had to keep reminding myself of that at 9am in the middle of Stratford that Thursday morning with my hair being blown in every which way.
The first half of the shoot took place in the warmth of my most favouritest (and yes that is a word) Stratford cafe in the whole world. The View Tube, or as my 4 and a half daughter likes to call it “The YouTube”.
It is where I retreat to with my laptop when I have had enough of my own four walls at home, it’s where Rose and I cycle to at the weekend to have brunch…and it is also where many moons ago I used to give talks on the development of the Olympic Park as it took shape all those years ago.
It felt great to be doing my shoot in a place that felt like home, rather than a venue to give some bullshit constructed idea of my lifestyle…this place is me through and through…hence why we stopped for lunch here too…which was when the heavens really opened. It absolutely tipped it down. The rain was hideous. I had a brolly and a coat with a hood…but it really was impossible.
We had all these wonderful locations in Hackney Wick planned…but I would have looked like a drowned rat if we had headed out in that…but then Vanessa had an idea…and we spent the next twenty minutes with me mucking around outside the cafe with a brolly, while she took some shots of me outside whilst trying not to get her camera wet.
My hair was a frizzy mess by this time but do you know what…I simply did not care.
What is a girl to do?
Who has perfect hair anyway?
Not me thats for sure.
I’ve always been the girl to jump head first into the pool on holiday rather than sit posing around a pool…I go to the gym with my hair scraped back 3 times a week, and I run marathons for fucks sake…and even when I do dress up for the occasional awards event on night out, I normally have to get ready with a small child in tow…so perfection is rarely the look I go for.
In fact now I think about it, I am slightly suspicious of women with good hair every day.
Looking back at the pictures of the day which came through this week I realise that the ones I love most are the ones after the point where I thought what the heck and started having some fun…anyone that knows me knows I’m a bit rough round the edges…my hair sure as hell isn’t perfect at 3am in a hotel bar as I sit there putting the world to right…nor at the finish line of the Tough Mudders I do.
Yes, I wanted some photos of me not in running kit…but they still needed to look like me.
For the final part of the shoot we headed to Hackney Wick, and as we got off the train the rain had almost stopped….and then…wait for it…the sun emerged, and I felt like a goddess…I shit you not.
There I was in my Primark jeans, my new orange scarf and my East End swagger…with my own personal photographer capturing my every move. the builders on the building sites around Hackney wick didn’t quite know what to make of this big sturdy bird strutting her stuff without a care in the world….and even Vanessa knew at this point we were getting some magical shots.
As we walked through the Olympic Park on the way back to the tube, fatigue hit me. I was exhausted. It’s hard work being yourself all day you know. Plus, I have a tendency to look stern in pictures…so my face ached from smiling so much. Don’t get me wrong I have a lot to be happy for these days, but old habits die hard.
I love my new photos and I think when I reveal them all properly to you with the new website and my upcoming marketing campaign I think you will love them too. They are sooooooo me. And who would have thought it would take some good old fashion British shitty weather to bring out the best in me.
I would like to say a massive thank you to Vanessa Valentine who was a dream to work with. She made everything so easy for me…other than being shorter than me and asking me to squat so that she could get a better angle…damn did this woman not know I am in the middle of marathon training.
But seriously she was an absolute angel.
Check out more of her work at www.vanessavalentinephotography.com/, please note these are the behind the scenes unedited versions of the photos, not quite the finished ones for the website…and they still look super hot right?
Look out in a few weeks for the launch of my new website all about my Living a Bigger Life Mastermind.
I have women already chomping at the bit to sign up, even before the new site has gone live…I sold 2 places today to women already on one of my other programmes…I reckon it was the new “she looks like she’s got her shit together” photos that did it.
Or maybe it was the ridiculous early bird price of just £359 (With a payment plan) and the new rates will go live on the 1st January. You can have a look at a brief overview of what the programme is about here….or you could wait until the new snazzy website is ready…although of course the course is the same.
Heres to living bigger in 2018, and to plenty more bad hair days.
Why is life so bloody annoying?
So often we know what we need to do to live the kind of life we want to live but yet, somehow we can’t quite motivate ourselves enough to go for them fully?
Or is it just me?
So here’s the thing.
2018 is fast approaching and I have spent the last 6 months working on a new area of work to launch in January.
It’s new. Its scary…but mostly it is exciting….because I know it is a game changer for me.
I’ve piloted it with 20 women over the past 12 weeks to make sure it does what it’s supposed to do. I’ve got feedback so that I can improve it, and this time round I’ve actually invested some time, money and effort in building the programme properly, rather than winging it like I have done in the past.
This programme is good, its bloody good…so good in fact that I am sitting here too scared to actually tell people about it.
What is that about?
It is not like I am having to jump into a tank of sharks, or worse still have to stand on a street corner attempting to sell timeshares to complete strangers…all I have to do is write about the programme, share it with women who already know and respect me and perhaps initiate some conversations with people who might be interested.
Because, guess what?
I have resistence…a whole heap of the stuff, to the point that I’d rather just forget the whole thing and go back a few steps in my life, back to where it’s comfortable and easy.
Recognise these feelings?
Resistence is not futile my friends, that is such a silly bloody phrase, especially when it is so hard to spot it in the first place, let along overcome it…it is why the sofa or an extra hour in bed is always so inviting. Pah, who really wants to do yoga at stupid o’clock anyway, and one missed gym class won’t make much difference anyhow.
I have come to realise that resistence is a hard cold fact of everyday life that many of us just have to face up to and then overcome if we really want anything in life to change in any meaningful way.
But what even is it? Come on hit me with the dictionary explanation I hear you say….
Resistance is the refusal to accept or comply with something.
I get it. I really do. All those years of never seeming to get any where with things, yet I could never quite put my finger on what it was…I was more inclined to say
Well, life is just fucking hard thats all
Well, clearly it’s not meant to be.
No Julie, you just resisted doing the work.
All the signs lead towards the action plan needed to get whatever it is we want in life, yet this invisible hard to comprehend force does everything within its power to prevent you from moving forward.
For me it shows up in a whole heap of different ways, pretty much on a daily basis
- Not answering that exciting game changer of an email that came in yesterday
- Going to bed super late (again) the day before an important event
- Not reaching out to the person who offered me help a few weeks back
- Watching Daytime TV instead of sitting at my computer doing the work
- Only half heartedly doing the training session I scheduled or not showing up at all
- Deciding to create another planning document rather than actually actioning the last one I made
And it’s not just women running businesses who have to deal with this resistence I’d found.
Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow
I’ll come back to that bit when I’ve got a bit more time on my hands
Lets wait until next year to ask him about the pay rise
Who leaves 3 biscuits in a pack anyway, might as well finish them off
Of course I’ll do that for you
Yes I would love to help…no I can cancel the thing I was supposed to do tonight, it wasn’t important
Let me just do the washing up first, then I’m on it
It seems to me that resistence is creating an exhausting fog of apathy with us women, which often comes across as sheer laziness or a lack of engagement, when what it actually is when you really think about it, is pure unadulterated and oh so common fear of success.
Because ladies, if we are successful we would have to admit we were wrong all these years about being totally worthless, and a fraud and I weirdly enjoy spotting the wealth of evidence around me that proves all that that OK, cos come on let’s face it we all need a get out clause for when things get challenging right?
Oh and then there is the other side of resistence I’ve been exploring on my journey recently, it is how we judge others actually doing the work. We see something we want, something that might help us grow, a programme or a book, or an offer of help and before we know it we are looking for excuses as to why that would never work for us.
It’s OK for her she’s pretty and slim and popular
That only works for rich people
I don’t buy into all that spiritual shit
Who does she think she is really?
It won’t work on me
Have you seen how shitty my life is?
This stuff is a minefield, it’s a bloody battle ground.
As humans we have thousands of years of evolution conditioning us to stay where we feel safe, not venturing from our tribe, or trying something new, yet so many of us are desperately seeking adventure or the opportunity to fulfil dreams and desires which we secretly long for in those moments of clarity where fear doesn’t get a look in.
The antidote to resistence though is relatively simple though ladies…you ready for this?
You just need to take inspired action and take it NOW.
Just like me writing this blog despite the enormous fear and procrastinating behaviours I have been displaying this week towards doing it.
You just have to do the bloody thing, even if the negative voices in your head are all consuming….screaming at you to not do it.
Don’t sign up for that marathon you fool, you will kill yourself
Single people don’t go on holiday by themselves, wait until you find someone
Why would you leave this job, they might not think you are any good at a new one
Learning a new skill now, thats stupid…you should have taken up yoga 30 years ago, not now.
If you tell him what you think he will think you are an idiot
It is not like we don’t know the actions we need to take. They pop into our heads at the least welcome of times. And even when we agree to do them, we often find an excuse not to have to think about them right now….convincing ourselves we will do it tomorrow, next week, when it’s less busy at work, when the kids have grown up a bit.
Do the bloody thing.
Take the action.
Send the email.
Write the book.
And when you sit down to make a start, know that resistence will be at it’s strongest.
Boy oh boy will it be out to get you.
But you got this.
Ignore the compelling as hell desire to check your emails, or that urge do something fun on social media, or rearrange your book collection like your life depended on it…because none of these are going to get the thing you actually want.
None of these things, are THE THING!!!
Do the thing.
It’s hard and requires courage.
But do the thing.
Ask yourself now…
Am I doing the thing? Or am I just fart arsing around?
And finally…so that it feels less scary, start convincing yourself that only good can ever come of that action, that it will be the start of a chain of events moving you closer to your goal and remind yourself that even if it doesn’t work out in the end (although it probably will) know that you are resilient enough to deal with any negative consequences of that inspired action anyway.
And just in case you didn’t hear me the first time.
Would love to know what you have resistence to in your life or business and how it plays out for you. Find me on social media and drop me a line, so many of us experience this, yet we often believe it is just us…or worst still we are in denial. Check me out on Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn
Details of my 2018 Living a Bigger Life Mastermind will be revealed in a few weeks time. If you would like to be sent information by email when it does drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org
What to wear? What to wear?
It’s the dilemma that so many women face day in day out. With a wardrobe full of clothes yet nothing to wear what is this all about?
FEAR…yes it’s that old chestnut again.
For many women what they wear is an expression of their identity, but it is also quite often a visual cue for so many other things? The quality, the cut, the style, the design, the designer label…they all say something about who we are and what our values are.
What if people judge me badly on what I am wearing, what if everyone looks better, more put together, more professional?
So why am I thinking about all of this today?
Well, tomorrow I am off to the USA, to Orlando to attend the National Speakers Associations convention “Influence2017”
When I asked my speaker colleagues who had been before what the dress code was the answer was,
Whatever that is.
I don’t do business casual for a number of reasons,
- I don’t wear heels (for every day, because I can’t walk in them)
- I don’t do smart trousers, because they don’t suit me…I am tall and wide round the middle
- I hate to iron…YES I said it…I hate wearing clothes that need excessive care
- I want to be comfortable and not having to hold myself in or sit in a special way
But also…I am kind of sick of having to conform to dress codes. I am an athlete, I am more comfortable in sportswear than office wear, and I have to keep in mind that I have a massive race coming up in a few weeks, that needs to remain my focus.
Yes I run a business, and yes I want to make a good impression. But I think I can do that in whatever I decide to wear, and I would rather rock up as me, than dress up as someone that isn’t me.
There is so much said about brand and image, but I think your vibe attracts your tribe and that people see through all those external factors most of the time…and if they don’t then they are not my people anyway.
Surely, its what I say, how I behave that illustrates the person I am, not how I am dressed?
Well, thats what I think.
Plus, Orlando is super hot at the moment…but the convention centre is due to have the air conditioning hiked up, so just another set of considerations to add to my packing list.
I think I am just about packed and I leave first thing tomorrow.
I will be wearing loose comfy trousers and flats, and a smartish blouse most days. But the thing that I will be wearing most that will stand me apart from other people there, is my smile, my heart on my sleeve and my sense of adventure.
I am looking forward to looking beyond initial first impressions based on appearances, and actually take the time to make some real connections with my speaker colleagues from across the pond.
A few months ago I set myself the Big Fat Stupid Goal of becoming an International Speaker. I knew however that it’s a bit like chicken and egg, you have to start speaking internationally to start marketing yourself as the type of speaker who speaks overseas.
You have to start somewhere.
I had no idea how, but I did had a long list of WHY I wanted to do it.
- I love to travel
- I love to speak
- I have a message which needs to be heard globally
- It would be exciting
- I’d get to meet new people
- It would help grow my brand overseas
The very next day after setting this intention I saw a call for speakers for the PSA Southern Africa Convention and I nervously sent an email to the organisers almost immediately, offering my services. And guess what? My proposal was accepted!!!!
The problem was I wasn’t even sure if this trip was possible. The cost. The time away from my business. Leaving my daughter at home (obviously not alone duh)…and I guess the biggest worry…was I even ready for speaking at this level?
The thing is, the pursuit of the things you really, really want in life take a certain amount of faith. They require you to leave your fears behind and just move forward. You book your flights, you sort out childcare, you pack your bags and you go….simple right?
Yes and No.
It is easy to look at people who travel the world living their dream and think “Wow, what a life?” but the reality of it is often quite different, because remember you only get to see the edited highlights on social media. The champaign glasses, the sunsets, the all important stage shot…what you don’t see are the stresses about what to pack, the back and forth emails for months regarding logistics, and lets not forget about the hours and hours in transit.
Now I do love to travel, and I am a good traveller…I have endurance. I have travelled to the South America and the Caribbean, around South East Asia and to Australia…so I know all about long flights…I’m not sure I was completely ready for my epic trip to Cape Town via Dubai though.
I had booked the cheapest flight I could find (mistake number 1) and on reflection I realise that my time and wellbeing is far more important than the £700 or so that I saved…but in this case it was the only way I could make this trip happen.
So while sitting in the lounge in Dubai I started to reflect on the similarities between long distance travel and long distance running.
It’s all about preparation, mindset and clarity over why you are doing it in the first place.
So here are some of my top tips for staying healthy and sane during extended trips…especially if you are not at the point of being able to fly first class…YET!!!!
- Stay hydrated. So easy to indulge in all the free alcohol on board your flight and in airport lounges. I tend to have a glass of wine with dinner, and maybe a beer or two, but that’s it. Then it’s as much of the clear stuff as possible. It also encourages you not to sit down for extended periods as you will need to visit the loo frequently too.
- Think about nutrition. I was always told to eat what you are given…but you really don’t have to. So I only eat the stuff on the plane that I actually like and that is going to be beneficial to me. I bought I wonderful green smoothie during my 14 hour layover and a glorious sandwich stuffed full of avocado, sundried tomatoes and chicken. Carrying the type of snacks you enjoy is a good idea too…energy bars, nuts, dried fruit.
- Carry supplements with you. I take a general multivitamin and a joint support pill each day. But when travelling I also include a vitamin c tablet and an echinacea pill to support my immune system. I have one of those plastic pill separator things so I don’t forget to take them.
- Get some exercise. I did a whole heap of walking in Dubai…I’m not a shopper really, but the shopping malls provide an excellent walking circuit.
- Have something to do. I had a book proposal to write during the week I was away, and always kept a journal at hand to make notes about future talks and blog posts. I also carried a book but wasn’t in the mood for reading so opted for an audio book instead.
- Get a massage. Lots of airports now have mini spas or massage places. After about 8 hours in Dubai on the way out I felt awfully tense so paid for a 30 minute chair massage. I told the lady what time my flight was so she didn’t wake me once I dosed off…I slept undisturbed in that chair for almost 2 hours…it was glorious.
It has taken me 3 days to get over the jet lag, fatigue and excitement of my trip to South Africa…and so today I am finally taking some time to reflect on my travels and catch up on some of the action points from the convention.
It was a long old way to travel to give just a 30 minute talk, but it was never just about that talk.
These trips are life changing in ways you can’t describe. You create shared experiences with people who are now set to become acquaintances and maybe even friends for life.
The things you see and experience in these new places, the new person you are able to experiment with being while there, these things are truly transformational.
The standing ovation I received after my talk, the comments of support and the business cards exchanged, yes of course these things play to your ego and give you a thirst to do more…but this is not why we do it, well it is not why I do it.
I was only in South Africa for 5 days and 5 nights but in that time I managed to squeeze in a 5K parkrun, an 8 mile beach walk, a sightseeing bus tour, an evening out to a comedy night (where I was pulled up on the stage to do some of my own comedy set), lunch with a friend I know from an online group, a visit to a women’s empowerment programme in one of the townships, plus dinner at the home of a lovely lady I met called Huni, where we chatted for hours and I got to meet her wonderful family….and this is alongside the 3 day convention and all that entailed.
So I say it again…it wasn’t just about my talk.
As speakers we arrive home from these trips tired and energised in equal measure, and those memories drive us to reach for even bigger and more exciting goals, and to think about where next we would like to speak but we never forget the effort they require, the leaps of faith, the fears we have to overcome, and the endurance of both body and mind it takes us to actually get there.
You may think you are ready to start reaching for those Big Fat Stupid Goals, but you also need to start considering whether you are ready to go the distance in order to achieve them, ready to make sacrifices in order to reach your dreams.
Just like running the marathon…the going across the finish line and receiving your medal is the easy bit…it’s the months of preparation, the weeks of stress and worry, the days where you want to give up and the hours and hours of running you have behind you that make you the winner in the end.
For a long long time I was a bit of a NO person.
When friends suggested things to do, or opportunities arose through work, my initial reaction was quite often all the reasons why I couldn’t or shouldn’t do something. My default was often to think about the worst case scenario or to convince myself that it would all end in tears, so probably best to stick to what I know.
So I said NO…or found an excuse to not partake.
Paint balling, horse riding, learning a new skill, a weekend away…. all sound great in principle but what if they don’t turn out how I expect? Plus, isn’t this all a bit self indulgent, shouldn’t I be working hard, thinking sensibly and saving for a rainy day?
I think this all came from a deep seeded belief that I didn’t deserve nice things, or that amazing experiences didn’t happen to people like me.
There were also further blockages about being able to afford to pay for such treats, I’d assume things were more expensive than they actually were, or worry that if I spent a large sum of money on something like a holiday, knowing my luck a week later a massive unexpected bill would come through the door.
As a side note I also had this ridiculous notion that when I lost weight (my weight fluctuated a lot during my twenties and thirties, but I was always considered big) these things would be more suitable, so I would focus on that first.
You could say in my early twenties I had a bit of a lack mentality.
I wanted a more exciting life filled with adventure and excitement, but I was too scared to actually change some of my beliefs and just make it happen.
This changed in the most bazar ways one evening one year in my late twenties.
I had organised a house party to celebrate my birthday, and around twenty or so of my friends came over to my place for drinks and food, including a girl called Natalie who I had spent a bit of time with back in my clubbing days, I didn’t know her very well at all, she was more of a drinking pal than a friend I spent any real time with.
In the early hours of the morning when we were all under the influence and talking rubbish, she told me she was going to visit her half brother in Colombia in a few weeks time, so me in my drunken state said,
I want to come
A few days later she called me and said
Were you serious about coming to Colombia with me? I’d love for you to come with me
And despite not knowing her or her brother very well at all, and having enormous fears about travelling to South America I responded
I don’t know what came over me.
A month later I jumped on a plane and I spent 3 amazing weeks in Cali having all kinds of adventures, and I also made a real friend for life….all through the power of YES.
That was a huge turning point for me, and I become much better at seeing opportunities for what they are, instead of filling my head with all the negative stories like “I can’t afford it”, “But what about work”, “I won’t know anybody there”
I booked a holiday alone to St Lucia one Christmas because I didn’t face spending it alone in the UK, I decided to start renting out my spare room, I set up a business as a consultant, I started going to night school to learn Spanish, I took myself off travelling around South East Asia despite having not lost the weight I thought I needed to.
I just decided I had held myself back for too long.
Now I have a resounding belief that opportunities come to me at the exact right time they need to, and that they have come about to teach me something about myself or the world that we live in that I really need to learn, so I am much more relaxed about international travel, meeting new people, having new experiences than I used to be.
Fear of the unknown holds so many of us back. Fear of judgement from others about the choices we make too can be a big problem, especially for women, especially for mothers who have to juggle being the caregiver to their child and fulfilling their own wants and needs.
I have just spent the most incredible 5 days in Israel on a press trip to review the Jerusalem Half Marathon. I had never been to the middle east, and I was to be the only journalist out of a group of 40 from the UK…plus the race itself has some massive hills on the course…all things which might put me off.
But do you know what? Life is too short to be turning down potentially life changing opportunities.
However, there is absolutely a place in my life too for big fats NO’s…I quite easily turn opportunities away which don’t feel right for me, a few months ago for example I turned down a trip to Switzerland to take part in a 3 day race across the mountains, this wasn’t a good fit…it was a busy time for me at work, my fitness wasn’t where I needed it to be…and I didn’t fancy being lifted off the mountain via helicopter due to a twisted ankle…it was too much of a risk in this case.
Be open to good stuff coming in to your life
Have faith that it is meant for you and will work out fine (better than fine)
Try not to stress about the hows, and focus instead on the whys
Practice saying YES to some small stuff to get you into practice, say YES to the colleague who invites you out for lunch. Say YES to the man who offers you his seat on the tube. Say YES to the distant friends who has a spare ticket for a gig tonight.
Who knows what it might lead to.
And who knows how it might help you prepare for even bigger and better things in the story that is your life