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Why we all need some “golden time” each week

It feels as though it has been an age since I came and sat at my computer to write.  It hasn’t because that is my job, what I mean is to write and capture stories about anything and everything, and to have the free time to release my blog out into the world.

In between work, mum duties and the relentless demands to keep up with social media (which I love and hate all at the same time,) I’ve only had time to journal a bit when I’m tucked up in bed, or jot down the odd paragraph or short poem in my trusty notebook in between jobs.  There has been a distinct lack of time and clear head space to really let my imagination be free, and to think about this crazy world or being in business.   I really haven’t stopped to give myself the opportunity to think beyond the immediate task in hand; my head has simply felt too full.

On reflection, I am completely at fault on this one.  The reason why my head has felt so full, is that I may have over filled it slightly, and that is the danger when you run your own business, there’s always a list of things to do longer than you can ever get a tangible grip on.

The past few months have been full to bursting with networking opportunities, meetings with other amazing business owners, new work coming online and of course getting the jobs done.  All of which have been fabulous in equal measure, however I have not been very good at balancing all of that with time to simply think and get creative, as well as protecting some time for me.

When I set about creating my business nearly a year ago, I was really clear at the outset about what hours and days I ideally wanted to work, so that I could factor in time for stuff like yoga and running.   As well as to do the things I truly love, like being a mum and making a home for my family.  However as time has gone on, the boundaries have become somewhat blurred and I’ve lost my way a little.

I can’t deny it, these past few months have seen some exciting developments in my business, and I have been buzzing from the positive response in regards to what I do and what I can offer other businesses.  It has been wonderful to say yes to every meeting, every cup of coffee and every opportunity, however not only has it filled up my diary; it has filled up my head too.

Although I am enormously grateful for all the opportunities that have crossed my path, there’s a definite need in my life right now to re-address the blend of work and life and to get serious when it comes to time management.

This got me thinking about my son’s school.  They have this wonderful way of rewarding the children for all their efforts and achievements at the end of the week, they have what they call “golden time,” time to play, have fun and unwind.  Not only does it offer the children some much needed down time from what is a full on timetable, it’s scheduled in, so they really have something to look forward to.

Protecting a few hours over the course of the week is possible for me; I simply haven’t been disciplined enough recently to stick to my original plan, and draw a physical line in the diary so the time doesn’t get consumed by other things.  This was brought to the fore recently when I really wanted to say yes to a meeting, and I knew it clashed with the one day I try to reserve for my “golden time.”  As hard as it was to respond and decline the invitation, I knew it was the right decision.

In all honesty, my golden time has always been in the diary, I’ve just chosen to over-ride it a little too much lately, possibly because it can sometimes feel easier to say no to your-self than to someone else.   It’s likely that I may need to reset the balance again further down the road, however for now I am going to honour myself and commit to taking that time each week to come up for air.  I’ll be by spending my golden time this week it at yoga class, and a gentle wander round the local garden centre in the sunshine looking for some lovely summer blooms for the pots in my courtyard.

Now it’s over to you, do you have protected “golden time” in your diary to be truly you, and do something you love or to relax? I would love to hear your stories.

Until next time, shine bright everyone!

 

 

In conversation with Kathryn Price; the story of her and her business KSP TechCare

I recently had the opportunity to interview the very affable Kathryn Price from KSP TechCare for our Courageous Women series of blogs.  I had only met Kathryn briefly on maybe two occasions before meeting to talk about her and her business, so I was intrigued to find out more.

It soon became apparent from my conversation with Kathryn, that she is hugely passionate about what she does, and the service she offers her clients.  Her business is less than a year old, and yet she is going from strength to strength, and loving the journey.

Following redundancy, to then taking a leap of faith to commit to her business idea has both amazed and enthralled Kathryn.  Join me as we discover what her business is all about, and how she gets to incorporate her love of gadgets and technology in her everyday working life.

What was life like before KSP Techcare? What were you up to?

I had worked in IT for 30 years, for MOD, local government and private business, quite remarkable really considering I achieved ungraded in my CSE Computer Skills at school; mind you there were no computers to speak of back in the early ‘80’s.

I started out as a section clerk in the MOD for about a year, however filing really wasn’t my thing and I soon moved to the IT department.   From working on the mainframe computer, to making microfiche, and then setting up databases, I became very adept at learning new skills.

Starting a family, I decided to stay at home after my daughter was born, and returned to the commercial world of working in IT part-time after a few years, to fit with family life and school hours.

Years later I joined a company supporting schools with their IT, helping them to integrate IT into the new curriculum and to resolve any issues that cropped up.  Then quite unexpectedly last year I was made redundant, and at age 50, I couldn’t get a job in IT.

I was never going to do my own thing; it just simply wasn’t on the cards, although my options were limited, and I had this idea that could just work – a technical support business that specialised in helping older clients to understand and enjoy technology.

I was on to something.

I went to the Job Centre the next morning, explained that I wanted to sign off; I knew I could earn more working for myself.  They offered me the new enterprise allowance, designed to support new businesses.  As a result I had a mentor for 3 months, I wrote my business plan, and when that got signed off in September I officially opened my doors for business.

KSP TechCare now operates from my home office, a converted garage at the end of my garden. It is the culmination of many years of experience working in IT, and my desire to go out and help others.  My target audience is anyone over the age of 50, who wants to embrace technology and keep up with the latest trends, and needs a personal approach to help them to do this.

Where did your journey begin with your business – was it “a lightbulb” moment? How would you describe it?

For me one of the lightbulb moments was seeing my dad walking up my driveway every few days with his laptop for me to either help him with something or to fix it.

I realised I couldn’t be the only person this was happening to, how many other people out there were having this same problem with their family or friends? The question then was could I be the person to help solve the problem?

I suppose another lightbulb moment was during the middle of last year, when I was struggling to get a job.  I had been to visit a friend for the weekend down in the south-west, and on the journey home I had a moment of clarity. At that point knew I wanted to be self-employed, and most importantly self-sufficient.

Understand and enjoy technology in today’s digital world.

What surprising lessons have you learnt along the way?

After being made redundant last year, and struggling to find work at 50, my confidence and self-esteem took a battering.  I’m still shocked and have nightmares about the whole experience, however I am where I am today because of that situation, and that to me is the most surprising lesson of all. I’m still amazed and can’t quite believe I set myself up in business; it really has been the best decision.

Even in such a short space of time, I can confidently stand up and deliver my 60 second pitch at our networking meetings.  I know I am taking massive steps when it comes to building my confidence and self-belief as I am always trying to stretch myself and step out of that comfort zone.

What’s a typical week for you?

I don’t work Monday to Friday or 9-5 anymore, my hours are much more flexible, and I love it.

I used to feel guilty for taking time out during the day, but I’m past all that now, and if I choose to work at the weekend, and have a coffee with friends in the week, then so be it.

A typical week involves seeing clients in their own homes to help them with their technology, Skype calls, and repairs (which I can do from my own home office.)

As a new start-up business I spend a great deal of my time networking to help build my brand, and to get established as an expert in the field.  I also really enjoy co-working with other small business owners at a local venue.  This helps to keep me motivated, and it’s a great opportunity to share skills and learn from each other.

The variety and flexible working certainly keeps me on my toes.

What has been your biggest challenge in your business?

One of the biggest challenges has been to learn to accept that my workload can vary week on week.   I am reliant on my client’s demands, and it’s difficult to predict when a piece of technology is likely to fail or someone will need my support or training.

The feeling of uncertainty and not knowing when the phone was going to ring, used to make me feel very uneasy.  Now I’ve come to accept that this is the very nature of my business, and to trust that I am doing my best to make myself known to those clients who really need me.

Another difficult challenge has been managing the perceptions of friends and acquaintances whilst I’ve been taking an entirely new direction in my life.   Although I understand their worries and concerns for the risks involved in setting up a business, it’s not been easy to hear their criticism.  To counteract this I have found the safety and support from those who I now network with.  Being with like-minded business owners whose circumstances reflect those of mine has helped me enormously.

What are your greatest passions in life? Are you able to weave these into your business?

I’m a self-confessed gadget fan.  It probably all started when I got my first rubix cube, the first of many gadgets.

If somethings broken I can usually take it apart and fix it.  I’m kind of resourceful like that, and love the sense of achievement when I’ve brought a gadget or piece of technology back to life and made it usable again.

My other greatest passion is that I simply love helping people, and this is something that now I get to do every day through my business. I help to give people the confidence to have a go and use technology, with the back-up that they can always call me to come and fix it, or be there to answer their questions.

 

What or who inspires you to grow and develop both personally and in your business?

Networking has been a revelation, I feel more inspired with each meeting I attend.  The people there believe and trust in my business and having their support has undoubtedly helped to restore my self-esteem and confidence in what I have to offer.

I have learnt to accept that my networking peers and my clients see me as an expert in my field, something I never dreamt I could be.  Now I am being asked for advice and my opinion on certain matters, and this inspires me to keep learning, growing, and innovating.

What are you most grateful for in your business?

That we are financially secure, and can afford for me to have my business.

I’m not looking for it to grow beyond me.  I love being my own boss, and I very much want it to stay that way.

What have you found most rewarding from running your own business?

I take enormous pride in what I do; from fixing problems and trouble-shooting, to supporting someone to learn how to use their technology so that it enhances their life in some way.  Receiving feedback and wonderful testimonials from my clients is hugely rewarding.  Knowing that I have made a difference to a person or their business is what it’s all about for me.

Although being my own boss was never on the cards, I am certainly reaping the benefits, and this has been an unexpected reward, in that I am now in charge of my own time.  I’m not tied to fixed hours; I work flexibly which means I get to do other things I enjoy. I invigilate at a local school, and I have recently signed up to be a school mentor to offer extra one to one support to students.

What do you consider to be courageous?

Not being scared to give something a go, and being resolute in your decision to try.

For me starting up a business takes more courage and guts than going to work for someone.  I know it isn’t, but I think many people assume it is easier.

Although you’ve got to do every job; wear all the hats and be every department, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What’s next for you? What are your aspirations for the future?

I’m always looking for new ways to help people feel more comfortable and confident about using their technology, whether that’s in their home or for work and business.  It is still early days and I’m mindful that it takes time to build a trusted business reputation, and generate a solid client base.  The aim is to keep serving those who need me, and to deliver a service that I am proud to put my name to.

What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?

A couple of things; the first would be to take as much help as you can get, whether that’s through government schemes with financial support and mentoring or simply discovering your local networking scene, to get out there, get your business known, and meet other like-minded business owners.

The second would be to feel assured that when you first take that step and begin to mingle with other businesses, that they might not have all their ducks in a row either.  Everyone has to start from somewhere, and it’s inspiring to hear that, and realise you have shared experiences.

And finally, I would definitely recommend finding a work buddy.  Having someone who will inspire you to keep going, and support you through the highs and the lows, someone to talk to, who is also self-employed, and gets what you are trying to achieve.

I hope this interview has offered you another interesting insight into the journey of starting out in business.  If you would like to find out more about what Kathryn has to offer at KSP TechCare, why not hop on over to her website here.

Here are 2 fabulous takeaway tips from Kathryn’s interview;

#1 Get out there and network  – whether it’s from the comfort of your sofa through groups on social media, or at face to face meetings, networking is a really effective way of building your business, and establishing yourself as the “go to” person for whatever service or product you have to offer.

#2 Find a work buddy – this is a great tip, and I know I have been lucky enough to find a wonderful group of supportive business owners who I often call on for support and help. It’s great to have someone you know and trust, and who understands the challenges and benefits of being self-employed to call upon.

If you would like to be interviewed about you and your business for the Courageous Women series, please do get in touch with me here, it would be great to hear from you.

Until next time, be truly you!

Honouring our emotions; the story of Rosie Withey, Equine Facilitated Learning Coach at Horses as Teachers.

For this particular interview for our Courageous Women series of blogs, I ventured out into the Somerset countryside to meet up with Rosie Withey.  It wasn’t the sunny spring day I had hoped for otherwise we would have sat outside with her horses for company; instead we took to the comfort of her cosy farm cottage next to the fire.

Rosie Withey specialises in Equine Facilitated Coaching and Emotional Wellbeing Coaching.  Her business is the culmination of her life’s dream, to work with people and with horses, and to help and inspire others to live a life that is true to them.

Over the years Rosie has followed her own path of self-discovery and personal healing and this has enabled her to become the facilitator and coach she is today.

Join me as we explore Rosie’s story, and how Horses as Teachers came to be.

Rosie Withey Horses As Teachers
Rosie Withey

What was life like before Horses as Teachers? What were you up to?

I’d had a riding centre for 13 years which I sold back in 2003.  I then worked as a freelance riding instructor, and decided to re-train as a life coach.  I was also taking a bit of time out.  Life had been full on since being a teenager, growing up on a farm, and then running my Dad’s business.

I had a couple of years after selling up with no horses at all.  I just didn’t want to get out of bed and muck out 10 stables, or do whatever other jobs needed my attention for a while.  I did eventually get a pony for my daughter, and we were really fortunate to find this place, and move here.

When we moved here it was like finding the life of my dreams – living in the countryside, with my horses on the doorstep.

We brought the pony with us, and because it wasn’t quite up to doing everything my daughter wanted, we decided to buy another one to share, and that’s when I bought Jack.  It was clear from the outset that he was quite stressed, under fit, and desperately in need of my TLC.

Within 6 months he became so fit and bouncy he bucked my daughter off and frightened her.  Witnessing it, he frightened me too, but I didn’t allow myself to acknowledge my feelings at the time.

I continued to ride and compete with him despite my own nerves, and he won his first few dressage competitions.  He was always very stressed about travelling though, and on the last occasion he got so worked up he went over the front bar of the trailer.  This was a pivotal moment, as it was then that I decided to focus my attention on understanding why he behaved the way he did.

I first made contact with an animal communicator.  She was able to connect with Jack through a photograph I sent her, and happened to mention Linda Kohanov, a name I’d not heard of before (an internationally recognised author and equine therapist who wrote a lot about the horse-human relationship.)   At the time I didn’t explore it and did nothing until about 3 months later, when I was riding Jack down the road.  There were cattle on the other side of the hedge, the noise spooked him, and Jack shot sideways.  He slipped, and we both fell.  I took the full force of the fall and broke my collar bone, fortunately Jack was not injured, but it was almost as soon as I hit the floor I knew I had to do something.  I couldn’t keep up the pretence that I felt fine on this horse any longer.

I got on the internet and Googled Linda Kohanov – Equine Therapist, and ordered her book The Tao of Equus.  I read it cover to cover and spent half of it in tears, because for the most part it was like she was writing my story, it resonated with me so strongly.  I very quickly found somebody in the UK who did Equine Facilitated Learning, and took myself off to Shropshire for two sessions with a facilitator.

I can wholeheartedly say it was life changing.

I discovered how horses use their emotions as information and how they feel most connected when we are show our vulnerability and are authentic.

Spending some time with the 4 horses there, it brought up a raft of emotions that I had not acknowledged before, and when I went back and did a further 3-day workshop in the November all about activating your authentic self, it was like an awakening.  Here I was at 46 suddenly realising how much of what I’d done in my life had been to please other people, to the extent that I didn’t really know what I wanted for myself.

Despite the uncertainty I felt, I was really excited. There was another lady on the workshop talking about going to Arizona to train with Linda Kohanov and that was all I could think about.  By the following February I was in Arizona too.

Rosie Withey Horses As Teachers
Rosie & Jack

Where did your journey begin with your business – was it “a lightbulb” moment? How would you describe it?

The incident with Jack out on the road was definitely a lightbulb moment. I knew instantly something needed to change, and when I went looking for answers about him, I discovered much more than I bargained for.

I was completely unprepared for the intensive personal development programme that formed the first two parts of the training with Linda Kerhanov out in Arizona.  I was going ready to learn how to become a facilitator, and yet for the initial 3 months I felt like I’d been taken apart piece by piece.

As a result I began changing things in my life, integrating all the skills I had learnt.  My relationships changed, especially with regards to setting boundaries, something that I had struggled to do in the past.

Another defining moment was standing in the arena at one of my first sessions.  I was trying to connect with a horse and yet it walked away from me, and showed more interest in the grass.  I remember thinking “but I’m supposed to be a horsey person, why doesn’t it like me?”  Eventually the facilitator asked me what was going on, and I explained how I was feeling really sad that the horse was ignoring me.  As soon as I was honest, and honoured by true feelings and shed a tear, the horse turned round, walked over and stood beside me.  I was stunned.

Discovering that I wasn’t listening to my authentic self, and needed to honour my emotions and learn to work and move through them on the apprenticeship programme was another lightbulb moment.  Some people say it’s cultural that we don’t listen to our emotions; it was certainly the case when I was growing up.  We didn’t acknowledge, anger, fear, sadness, or pain, it was always “for goodness sake you’ll be fine.

What surprising lessons have you learnt along the way?

One of the biggest lessons was discovering that I could live without the low-grade anxiety that I had carried around with me my whole life.  I had spent many years both running my Dad’s business as well as my own, being under pressure, and feeling stressed.  It was only when I began looking after myself, that I found a sense of inner peace and calm. I realised I could just be, and that the low grade anxiety I had didn’t have to exist.

The other lesson has been around honouring your feelings.  Through the work I do now, I help others to unveil their inner joy and peace, and discover a sense of self-love.  People need to feel safe to feel vulnerable, so they can release any emotional blocks or limiting patterns of behaviour.  I simply create a safe space in which they can do that, a space where they can allow their emotions to flow, and connect with their authentic power.

Rosie Withey Horses As Teacher
Reflective Riding

What’s a typical week for you?

A typical week involves getting up early each day to muck out and spend some time with my horses, before working with them in Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL)  either one to one with a client or in group workshops.  My Discover one-day, and my Connect three-day workshops run on alternate months.  The Discover day is an introduction to EFL where you can dip your toe in, and give yourself the space to learn and reflect and have interactive time with the horses.  The Connect workshop affords more time to fully immerse yourself to develop self-awareness, set personal boundaries and understand your emotions.

I have telephone or Skype coaching calls in the diary for those who come to me for emotional wellbeing coaching.  Here I incorporate all the skills I use in my workshops, just without the horses.

Some weeks I may have some riding coaching sessions in the diary too.

There are also days in the week set aside to work on my business, something that has taken me a long time to learn.  I used to think time spent on administration wasn’t classed as “working,” and meant I just never stopped.

I now schedule in days to keep up with all the office work, to go out and network, have coaching myself, as well as attend events, and host trade stands, so that I can take time out for myself.

Rosie Withey Horses As Teachers
Equine Facilitated Learning with Jack

What has been your biggest challenge in your business?

One of the biggest challenges has been telling people what it is I do.  In the early days most of the people who came to me had read Linda Kohanov’s book, and were well acquainted with her work.

As the business grew and I began to promote it myself, the challenge was helping people to grasp the tangible benefits of Equine Facilitated Learning, compared to that of other modalities of personal and spiritual development, as well as finding ways to be more focused in my marketing, so that I was visible to my ideal client group.

On a more personal level I have had to overcome my fear of standing up and talking about myself and my business.  Although I may project outwardly confident, I am more of an introvert.

And finally, having done my own inner healing, I am now able to sit with my own uncomfortable emotions, enabling me to be the facilitator I am today.

What are your greatest passions in life? Are you able to weave these into your business?

My greatest passion is to help people to live a life that is true to them. I also love being with horses, so in essence my business is my life, although it doesn’t take over.  I still make time to read, enjoy music, go dancing, and spend time with my family.

What or who inspires you to grow and develop personally and in your business?

The people who inspire me are those who are authentic, who have overcome challenges in their life, or faced adversity and worked through it.

People who are very successful at what they do, and are willing to admit that they are still learning and feel comfortable to stay in the beginners mind inspire me.  Knowing that their work is never done, to me this feels like a healthy place to be.  I’m not an activist; and although I may be intrigued by other people’s philosophies, I would rather do what I do quietly and allow the results to ripple out.

Some of the most successful people I know are those that have allowed themselves to feel vulnerable and moved through it.

What are you most grateful for in your business?

Being able to live in the countryside and having horses in my life comes high on the list of things that I am most grateful for both in life and in business.  Neither of which could be possible without the unconditional support and love of my family.

It’s a huge challenge being self-employed; however it’s the freedom, variety, flexibility, and the opportunity to travel and explore new adventures that motivates me to keep going.

What have you found most rewarding from running your own business?

Through whatever style of coaching I adopt, the most rewarding outcome for me is seeing people make massive shifts in their lives, in an un-seemingly yet simple and effective way.

The work that I am doing is making a difference. I know that when individuals make a shift in themselves, it will also have a profound impact on the other people in their lives, and I know it will, because it has in my life, and the relationships I have.

What do you consider to be courageous?

I would consider stepping out of paid employment, away from the corporate world, to find an alternative, and to spend time connecting with who you really are as being courageous.

Stepping into vulnerability when you’ve got a notion or an idea, but no evidence to suggest that it is going to work or not, that’s courageous too.

I think there would have been a time in my own healing process, when I certainly wouldn’t have called myself courageous, because I was in such a difficult place.  I had come out of a really challenging divorce, and my level of self-esteem was so low I didn’t think I was good at anything.  However I realise now it has taken courage to step out of my comfort zone and build my business, and both my clients and the horses have shown me that.

What’s next for you? Are you beginning a new chapter?

I am beginning a new chapter, as I’m looking for new premises from where I can run my workshops.   The venue where I have been for the past six years has recently been sold.

It will take some time to find somewhere, as any new venue needs to align with my own values, especially in regards to the way they look after their horses.

I’m staying open to new possibilities and exploring what comes my way, it maybe that I look towards running my workshops at several different venues.

My 2 part NOW programme has also been attracting more interest of late; and my aspiration is to grow this element of my business.

Rosie Withey Horses As Teachers
Rosie & Bramble

What advice would you give to someone starting out in business?

When I started this work I realised I had largely morphed into whoever I was working with, and remember mentioning to my mentor I was thinking about collaborating very early on.  At the time she advised me not to, because quite rightly this was my opportunity to go out and create something that was my own, as opposed to doing what I had always done before, and adopt someone else’s style.

Taking her advice I facilitated workshops on my own for nearly 5 years before working with anyone.  In the past 2 years I have worked with two people, and it’s been a complete success, and that’s because I wholeheartedly know who I am now.  I know what’s important to me, and I’m happy to convey that.   I completely respect the other person for what they bring and for their perspective; we complement each other, and often create something that is much bigger than the individual parts.

Therefore my advice would be to know your true self before you look to collaborate with others.

 Anything else……

My belief is that we are all beautiful on the inside, outside and everything in between, it’s not about getting good it’s about letting go of all those self-limiting patterns of belief, so we can connect with our authentic self.  It’s a never-ending journey of self-discovery and personal development.

Here are 2 fabulous takeaway tips from Rosie’s interview;

#1 Honour your feelings – be your true self, don’t try and hide or suppress your feelings, feel them, respond, let go and move forward.

#2 Step out of your comfort zone, because it’s ok to step back in again – although it may be terrifying, stepping out of your comfort zone you show your vulnerability openly, and by doing so you allow others to do the same.  By working with your vulnerability, you can look to expand your comfort zone, safe in the knowledge that you can step back in again.  Small steps are ok!

I hope this interview has offered you a new perspective or given you some food for thought. If you would like to find out more about Rosie’s incredible work, why not hop on over to her website here.

If you would like to be interviewed about you and your business for the Courageous Women series, please do get in touch with me here, it would be great to hear from you.

Until next time, be truly you!

From Classroom To Colour Studio; Lara Lauder, Presence, Impact & Image Consultant explains all.

For the latest Courageous Women feature I had the pleasure of interviewing Lara Lauder, Presence, Impact & Image Consultant, at her home studio in Wiltshire.

With a wonderful view over her garden, a slice of freshly baked lemon cake in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, we talked about everything from health, and leaving the classroom behind, to discovering the joy of colour and grabbing new opportunities.

There is no doubting Lara’s ambition.   She lives and breathes her passion, which is to teach, coach, nurture and empower others to be the very best version of them.

Join me as we explore Lara’s story, and discover what inspires her, what lessons she has learnt along the way, and how after overcoming some difficult obstacles in life she now finds herself on the precipice of launching into an arena where she can fulfil her true potential.

Lara Lauder
Lara Lauder

 

What was life like before Lara Lauder Colour, Presence, Impact & Image Consultant? What were you up to?

6 years ago I was a busy teacher, working 60+ hours a week as a single mum.  I was trying to earn enough money to keep my children at the private school they had attended before my marriage broke up.

I was still enduring a horrendous situation with constant aggravation from my ex-husband, and as a Senior Teacher at the Head Teacher’s beck and call, I was also expected to be an outstanding in the classroom, and make time for all the management work that came with being a Phase Leader.

I then suddenly became very unwell.

I collapsed at school. Turned out I had an infection of the heart and what was also later diagnosed as SVT or Supraventricular Tachycardia, an abnormally fast heart rate.

My Mum came to stay whilst I convalesced, as I literally couldn’t get up the stairs independently.  I managed to return to work, to start in my new post as Assistant Headteacher, but sadly after having another SVT episode at school; it soon became apparent that I was not well enough to endure the demands of the job.

Despite feeling completely sad and broken at the thought of never really fulfilling my potential, to nearly get to the top of my teaching career and not quite making it, I had to accept the advice of my Consultant.  I couldn’t work at that pace, and my compromised immune system couldn’t withstand being in the school environment either.

During this time, I met Richard, quite by chance through a mutual friend.  Moving to the Marlborough area, having the support of a kind and loving man changed everything for my family.  It also meant that I was able to focus on recovering properly, and set about rebuilding my life.

I could have quite easily given myself a label with a long term health condition, and never worked again, but that’s not me, I need to work.

So what was I going to do ?

What job out there was going to give me that feeling of joy and pleasure, just like witnessing those wonderful moments with a school child, when you see them thrive and achieve.  What job was going to give me that?

In November 2015, I came across House of Colour quite by chance on the internet when I was searching for jobs, and running through business ideas in my head.

I remembered House of Colour consultant Annabel Cyzba, whom I had met many years before at a networking meeting. I remember thinking how perfectly put together she was, and wanting my colours done then, but with young children it wasn’t a priority.

So all I wanted for Christmas that year was to have my colours done. I didn’t want anything else; I was so excited, and at the back of my mind thinking was this something I could do.

A lady called Lisa in Oxford (a high flyer with House of Colour) was the one I chose to see about my colours.  I wanted to see what she did, and how she did it!

I can honestly say it changed my life. That day in Oxford I saw myself in a way I hadn’t seen for such a long time.  I knew then that what a profound and positive effect it could it have on so many other people out there.

I started to think more seriously about it as a business opportunity, and by the end of March I was on the training course. When I decide I’m going to do something, I do it.

Grabbing that opportunity has been the thing that has given me the job satisfaction I had when I saw that light bulb moment with a child when I was teaching.  I now get to witness that with the clients I see.  They get to see their beautiful selves, and they can’t believe it.  I help them to emerge, and set them free.

Colour Wheel

Where did your journey begin with your business – was it “a lightbulb” moment? How would you describe it?

My journey began sitting in front of that mirror, being introduced to colour.  Having those wonderful colours draped around me, with the added touch of some lipstick, I came to life again.

I completely embraced it, and remember going into school wearing a bright lipstick (which suited my winter skin tone,) and quite unexpectedly the compliments started.  I couldn’t remember the last time someone said “Lara you look well.”  I could tell, and even my friends could tell, they were getting Lara back, the one that they hadn’t seen for years.  It was definitely a lightbulb moment for me.

Discovering colour helped me to reconnect with my values and my personality, the style class especially.  It helped me to feel proud and confident of my identity, and that is what I help my clients to do now.

Light bulb moments are like opportunities, and I think you have to recognise them, and then make a conscious decision about what you do next.

What surprising lessons have you learnt along the way – would you have done anything differently?

The biggest lesson for me has been in regards to my health.  I have learnt the hard way, and this applies to when I was teaching and even with my business now.

Looking back I should have found more ways to relax, more ways to switch off, given myself more time for me, to heal and to rest.

I look back to when I first became unwell,  I remember having an exceptionally bad throat infection and saying to my Deputy Headteacher, “I can’t make the staff meeting tonight, I must get to the doctor I’m really not well.” But he couldn’t do without me, so I went.  It is highly likely that this episode contributed to the infection that spread to my heart, and subsequent pericarditis.  Although I no longer have the infection, I can’t go back. I now have to live with its lifelong effects.

You have to look out for yourself, look after yourself and never be afraid to say no. Although it is hard, and I get that, it’s about honouring you, and being present.

When I talk to people now about presence and being present, it’s about you truly living and being comfortable in your values and valuing yourself.  Clearly I wasn’t being present at the time when I first took ill, otherwise I would have said no to being at that meeting, instead I’m paying for it and so are my children.

What’s a typical week for you?

During the school term my day starts at 5.45 am when I get up and make the tea.  Once my daughter has left for school at 6:50 am, I work from my bed for an hour catching up on emails and other correspondence.

Mondays are usually an admin day, with no classes scheduled, and on Friday I try to take some time out and meet a friend for coffee (although being honest this doesn’t always happen.)  The rest of my week is made up of networking, delivering classes, generating business, and professional development.

I’m not very good at switching off; and I thrive on being productive and busy.  I just can’t help myself; I’m always looking up stuff, whether it’s to research trends, or widen my own reading, there’s always something to be done, such as writing a newsletter to my clients.

As well as all this, I love going to the local Professional Speaking Association meeting once a month and I do try to see my daughter play in school sporting fixtures, when I can.

I do run Saturday classes as some people just cannot make a week day, but Sunday’s are spent with my family.

What has been your biggest challenge in your business?

My biggest challenge has been getting bums on seats, getting known and getting new people through the door.

Although I believe it to be a necessity to have colour and style analysis, I know it’s not something that is a priority for most people.   Even though I know it could save someone time and money in the future, or deeply benefit them on an emotional level, this will always be a challenge.

What are your greatest passions in life? Are you able to weave these into your business?

I suppose I am living and breathing my passion, teaching people and making them happy.  It may sound a bit corny, but just like someone saw something in me, I want to be able to unlock that with the clients I see.

I see their potential, and I love helping them to connect with that, empowering them to be the best version of them.

As a result of investing in personal development and coaching in the last year, I have been reconnecting with all my life, business and professional skills as well as my true values.  I really feel that I am on the precipice of launching into an arena where I can really fulfil my true potential.

What or who inspires you to grow and develop personally and in your business?

In terms of who or what inspires me, in my lifetime there have been many.  I have experienced total strangers kindness and it has helped to shape, mould and inspire me.

If it were not for Mr Waddington at Ryde Junior School all those years ago who gave me the opportunity to offer Saturday morning Speech & Drama lessons I would not be where I am today.  That opportunity, and his belief that I could be a teacher saw me leave my job at the Midland Bank aged 19 and go onto night school to do a City In Guilds Working With Children 0-7 years and then onto achieve a 2:1 BEd Hons English degree.

My children inspire me. We have had a terrible time with their father, and for any teenager to experience mental health problems when they are going through puberty and to feel as though a member of their family has betrayed them, and to be able to pull through all of that and come out the other side, that is inspiring.

They are my inspiration; in my opinion they are courageous. They are my driver to keep going and never give up.  They have enabled me to battle through the toughest of days, and whilst it has been very hard for them to see me unwell over the years, and even now when I have done too much, I know that they have a real grasp of what is valuable in life.

What are you most grateful for in your business?

My clients! The people I have met who have enriched my life in so many ways and I am now proud to call my friends. I am most grateful to have experienced colour and style analysis, and to recognise that it was an opportunity that would give me hope.  If all the rubbish stuff had to happen in my life, so that my family could be where we are right now, then it was worth it.

What have you found most rewarding from running your own business?

It’s not the money, (it’s never been the money, even when I was teaching) it’s the endless testimonials and wonderful emails I receive.  I am passionate about sharing colour, style and presence with people, and getting unexpected feed-back makes it all the more worthwhile.

What do you consider to be “courageous”?

 Everyday we are all courageous in our own way.

Having a go, trying something new, accepting that we are always learning shows courage.  At some point in our lives, for all of us, living is courageous, simply taking each day at a time until equilibrium is restored.

For me, anybody who steps out of their comfort zone in whatever way, stands up to a bully, or fights for what they truly believe in is courageous.

For me true courage is a child who overcomes enormous difficulties in their life, and then goes on to prosper and bloom.

Lara Lauder - Speaker

What’s next for you? Are you beginning a new chapter? What are your aspirations for rest of the year?

My aspiration is to continue to learn and fulfil my potential whatever that might be.

I want to be able to draw on all my life and business skills so that I can fill people with hope and joy, and empower them to do the same.

I see my business moving forward into more speaking, as well as facilitating and coaching opportunities.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in their own business?

My advice would be to go for it, what’s the worst that could happen.

If you have the belief, or if someone sees something in you, and they encourage you to pursue an idea, just go for it!  By all means listen to the advice other people offer, but ultimately go with your gut, and be your own person.

Saying that, I would recommend getting a grip on how you balance work with time for yourself, as that has been my biggest downfall.  I love to work, and my work is what defines me, it is my passion, but it’s so important to find ways to relax.

Here are 3 fabulous takeaway tips from Lara’s interview;

#1 Discover your colour & style – I may be bias on this one, but finding colour for me was somewhat of a turning point in my life (and not that long ago either.)  The amount of money wasted on clothes I instantly disliked as soon as I got them home, and a wardrobe full of nothing to wear.  It is definitely worth the investment.

#2 Find more ways to relax – It’s such a busy world out there, and we can so easily get caught up in the hustle that we sometimes forget to stop and pause, and take time out to relax.  It’s important to be kind to ourselves, and show ourselves true respect and the care we deserve.

#3 Take notice of opportunities – In the busyness of our lives, it can be all to easy to miss the signs, the recurring thoughts and dreams, or dumb down aspirations, all because we are rushing to get to the next thing.  It’s important to acknowledge them, you just don’t know what that opportunity may bring.

I hope this interview has inspired you in some way; the importance of self-care and work-life blend certainly resonated with me.  If you would like to find out more about Lara’s work, why not hop on over to her website here.

If you would like to be interviewed about you and your business for the Courageous Women series, feel free to get in touch with me here.

Until next time, be brave, be you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing career at 40, from nursing to freelance writer.

Changing career at 40, it’s not always about starting over, but listening to yourself, embracing your strengths and skills, and putting them to use in a different way.

Growing up and having “careers advice” at school and college, I truly believed that I would get my education, choose a profession, and that would be it, that would be the order of events.  A career for life or so I thought.

In my 20’s working full time as a Nurse, it never occurred to me that I would be looking to pursue a different career later in life.  I thought nursing would be my life, and that I would be in the profession until I retired.

However, twenty years later, and here I am, the creator of my own business, blogging, and offering a bespoke writing service to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

It often comes into conversation when I meet someone for the first time, either at a networking meeting or business event.  Naturally they ask about my business, and whether I have always been a writer.  It is often the assumption that I may have been in a creative role in the corporate world, prior to making the decision to fly solo and embrace self-employment.   And this is the case for many of the business owners I meet; they’ve stepped out of that world, gone independent, and are now working for themselves in the same profession.

When I explain that my background was in general nursing and occupational health, and then as a stay-at-home mum, it’s not unusual to see a look of intrigue and curiosity on the face of the person who I’m talking to.  The two seem so far removed from each other don’t they?

So how do you go from nursing to becoming a freelance writer and blogger?

Well in all honesty I wasn’t totally sure myself, hence the reason for this blog.  I’ve spent some time journaling about this lately, and I wanted to share with you what I discovered.

In my last employed job before I left to stay at home with my son who was at preschool at the time, I was working in the field of Occupational Health, as a Specialist Nurse Advisor.   I spent my days interviewing employees about their health and well-being, advising on adjustments in the workplace, and supporting them whether they were acutely or chronically unwell, or sadly had a life-limiting condition.

Spending time with those in my care, I had the privilege of listening and learning about their situation and their story.  Connecting all the pieces of the jigsaw together, I spent time crafting reports that would assist them and their employer to support them in the work environment.   Writing was integral to my role at that time, albeit factual reports, as opposed to anything creative.

It meant that I was often the intermediary.  I was an independent voice.  Being external to the situation meant that I wasn’t caught up in any internal dialogue, and it was as though I was looking into a window of their lives, and reporting the findings.

In my professional career as a Nurse I learnt how important it was to be an advocate, to be someone else’s voice, especially for those who did not have the capacity.

So in many ways this is what I do now.

I hear how other business owners struggle to write their own story, or push themselves forward into the limelight and showcase them in their business when they are creating content for their web, newsletter, or blog.  And I totally understand this, even as a writer I sometimes find this difficult.  We can just be too close to it.

In my business now, I can be that voice for those who find it a challenge to put into words why they do what they do.  I offer a different perspective, and I value the importance of developing that trust with a client, so that I am then able to capture their words and create engaging content for them.

My background may not be in marketing, branding or copywriting, and the degrees I have relate to professional nursing qualifications; however the skills and training I have acquired throughout my professional life now shine through in my every day work as a Creative Writer, and even more so when I’m working one to one with clients.

Although the worlds of being a nurse and that of a writer on the surface seem poles apart, the skills and qualities I demonstrated as a nurse, now serve me very well in my business.  Spending time listening intently, building trust and meaningful working relationships, along with offering a professional and quality service, are the very foundations of my business.

I suppose what I have learnt from all of this is if we really want to pursue something different in terms of a career, whether it’s to suit our lifestyle, personal circumstances or to live out a dream, it is possible.  Age is definitely not an obstacle, nor is your past career history, it’s never too late to try something new.

It’s not always about starting over, but listening to yourself and embracing your strengths and skills, and putting them to use in a different way.

Until next time, be truly you!

Finding contentment; the story of Lynne Pomeroy, The Message Giver.

It was a bright and crisp winter morning when I interviewed Lynne Pomeroy (aka The Message Giver) earlier this month for our Courageous Women series of blogs.

With the winter sun streaming in through the window, and a cup of herbal team in hand, Lynne spoke with her whole heart about her turbulent journey through life, and how she has found contentment, and a business she is hugely passionate about.

Lynne specialises in Intuitive Coaching, spirit channelling and personal energy reading.  From a young age she was told by those whom she had gone to have readings with, that spirit wanted her to work with them, and that she was naturally gifted.

Over the years Lynne has developed her own ways of working with spirit, they are now her support team, and she has made them part of her life.

Join me as we explore Lynne’s story, how her life’s experiences have made her the person she is today, and why empowering women to become more self-aware and take ownership of their lives has become her mission.

Lynne Pomeroy
Lynne Pomeroy – The Message Giver

What was your life like before you were The Message Giver? How would you describe yourself?

Growing up I experienced rejection and loneliness, as my mother and I had an extremely stormy relationship.

I struggled in school being dyslexic, and as a result I was ignored for a large part of my time in education.

Later on I discovered alcohol and other vices that did not serve me well, it was just one disaster after another, and at the time I refused to learn from my mistakes.  Life just became a battle.

I made a massive break-through when I had my daughter, Katie.  When for the first time ever I felt unconditional love, and realised that for all those years this was what I had been looking for.

Despite living through some really desperate times, Katie and I had each other, we had fun, we laughed, and we learnt to survive in our own way, and for me that was enough.  Katie became my world; she changed everything, and gave me a sense of purpose.  She was my life saver.  I even put myself through college to learn to read and write when she was just 3.

With time I also grew to be very close to my own mother, despite all the difficulties early on in my life, and I cared for her full-time at the end of hers.

Where did your journey begin with your business – was it “a lightbulb” moment? How did spirit become part of your life?

Over the years I’d had spiritual experiences and had readings quite often.   I visited a local spiritual church when my daughter was young, and although at first I went to get messages, I began visiting more frequently because the people were so kind, and it was somewhere I felt safe.

Working with spirit intrigued me, and so I joined workshops and along with a few other women who were in a similar situation to me, started our own development group, and that’s where it all began.

My journey started from humble beginnings.  A woman who was part of our development group paid for me to have a table at a local Psychic Fair.    She booked it without me knowing and simply asked if I was busy one Saturday.

Along with some very amateur looking business cards I turned up to the event totally un-prepared for what greeted me.  There were tables adorned with banners, lights, candles, angels, and beautiful table cloths, it was overwhelming.  Borrowing a table-cloth from the lady sat opposite me, I just sat down and put my head in my hands.

I understood spirit back then, and I knew why they were around me, although I hadn’t yet established a good working relationship with them.

Nevertheless I was committed to being there, and so I asked spirit to sort it out!

Before too long, I had a constant stream of people coming to sit in front of me for readings, and I didn’t stop all day.   I was not only amazed by the whole experience, but totally bewildered by what I had to offer people.  This was my lightbulb moment.

For the next 3 years or so I continued to attend psychic fairs, and although this helped me grow in confidence, I soon realised this way of working wasn’t for me, and set about creating my own.

I continued to be employed whilst I worked with my own clients one to one, but was feeling increasingly more imprisoned by my paid job and knew I had to get out.  So I resigned and made the leap into the world of self-employment.   In the beginning I was unprepared, naïve, and said yes to everything that came my way.

Since those formative years, I have grown my business and learnt so much along the way.  I‘ve probably got less now than I’ve ever had, but inwardly I have so much more.  I’m so much more relaxed, I’ve never been happier, and it really feels as though I’ve found contentment at last.

What surprising lessons have you learnt along the way – would you have done anything differently?

Would I have done anything differently? No, because I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

The surprising lesson is that I am still here to tell the tale.  There have been some dark times in my life and I admit I put myself in some vulnerable situations, mostly because I had no self-worth or true understanding about who I was back then.

Living from one crisis to the next, it was one emotional rollercoaster and I learnt to survive as there wasn’t anyone to hold my hand.

Passing on messages, and working with spirit was my way of helping to rescue others back then, I never wanted to see anyone else have to struggle or go it alone like I did.

I have learnt from all of this to leave my past where it is, and to live more in the present.  My mission now is to help my clients understand themselves more, so that they can find their own solutions to the dilemmas they are facing, and ultimately rescue themselves.

What’s a typical week for you?

It varies, from seeing clients, to networking, meeting friends, and getting out in nature.

I always start each day by setting my intentions and showing gratitude for the opportunity to have another day.  I’ve learnt to let go of a lot of my material requests, instead I ask for abundance, abundance of everything in my life, and if that includes money, great.

I love my own space and time alone, but when I’m with people I learn.  I learn more about myself, and that of the needs of others.

I more or less let each day evolve, and my diary tells me where I need to be or who I am meeting.   Living this way means I can be also be spontaneous and take some time out to travel and visit my daughter who now lives abroad.

What has been your biggest challenge in your business?

My biggest challenge has definitely been identifying what it is I do, and how I can help others.  The reason why I have struggled with this for such a long time is because I didn’t truly know myself.

When I first started working with spirit and my intuition, it was all about forecasting the future.  This is no longer my focus; my work now centres more on intuitive coaching, and helping my clients to live in the here and now, instead of always wanting to know what’s coming next.

I have very recently revised my website with this message, and I am now looking for speaking opportunities so that I can get out and talk about what it is I offer.

What are your greatest passions in life, and how have they become part of your business? 

I love nature and being in the great outdoors.  I use nature a lot to understand how to move forward in my life, and to express my messages as visual images on social media.

I enjoy being around my daughter, she has a beautiful energy.  Watching how she interacts with people, she inspires me to do what I do.

I love to sew and craft. Seeing a project through from start to finish, having that sense of achievement when you see the end product, much like working with my clients.

Yoga forms part of my daily rituals.  It’s relaxing yet disciplined, and helps me to de-clutter my head.

What or who inspires you to grow and develop personally and in your business?

I’m a big fan of Oprah; I’m inspired by people like her, people who show true grit and resilience, and who use their position and ability to support worthy causes, without making it about them.  These sorts of people teach me to stick with my own beliefs, but to also be open to change if they are not working for me.

What are you most grateful for in your business?

I love that my business and my life are now one, and that I have finally found the connection between my mind, body and soul.

I am most grateful for the time I have been given, and I’m going to appreciate what I do in that time.

Lynne Pomeroy

What have you found most rewarding from running your own business?

It is probably helping clients who are really struggling with the challenges in their lives, and seeing them have their own light bulb moments.   Seeing them take action to make real changes to their life is powerful stuff.

What’s next for you? What are your aspirations for the future?

On a personal note I’m eager to become a Nan; that would just complete me.

With the Intuitive Coaching, I want to help bring about positive change by helping more people to become more self-aware and responsible for how they live their life now, and moving forward.

Thank you Lynne for sharing your story; being faced with some challenging obstacles it is wonderful to see how you have found contentment, and relaxed into your own style of working.  There is much to be said for living a simple yet fulfilling life.

Here are 2 fabulous takeaway tips from Lynne’s interview;

#1 Leave your past where it isthe past is exactly where it should be.  It may have shaped you as a person but you are no longer living there. Enjoy living in the present, it is way more fun!

#2 Don’t fear change in your business – when Lynne first started out, her way of working was very different to that of what she offers now.  Learning about ourselves and from others we never stay still, our businesses are always growing & changing just like us.

I hope these takeaway tips and Lynne’s story have inspired you in some way.   If you would like to find out more about Lynne Pomeroy, The Message Giver, you can find her website here.

If you would like to be interviewed about you and your business for the Courageous Women series, feel free to get in touch with me here.

Until next time, be truly you!

3 little changes that made all the difference when creating my own work space at home.

This is the story of how I created my own work space at home, got over my hang-ups about our home study, and eventually moved in permanently.

I’ve been writing for over a year now, journaling, blogging and creating content for other business owners.   As much as I love writing, growing my business, and getting stuck into projects producing work for clients that generate such a positive response, the journey to finding the right space to work in has been somewhat of a mission.

With no budget to rent a working space, and no immediate desire to co-work, I needed to create a workable space in my home.  Somewhere that would ignite my imagination, and be a place where I could relax and let my creativity flow.

I started out working at our kitchen table. With such great light and space, looking out to the garden it was comfortable and inviting.  I could sit and day-dream out of the window, and I was productive, writing away quite happily, especially with the kettle and biscuit tin at close range.

However the difficulty working in the kitchen (which is essentially the beating heart of our home,) was that I wasn’t able to set up shop and stay there.  It always felt temporary, and I desperately wanted to take root somewhere.

I then tried working upstairs on the very top floor of our townhouse.  The colour scheme up there is lovely and calming, with muted green tones, and lots of natural light coming from all directions, it certainly had potential.  The difficulty was the work set up, an old dining chair, and the laptop on my dressing table, it was far from ideal.  Despite it being a lovely room to work in, I needed a space that had its own identity and felt different to that of the rest of our home.

Of all the places in the house I was avoiding working in (the one place that was meant for that very job) was our home study.  We are blessed in our house that we have enough space to create a home office – a whole room in fact.  It was one of the criteria when we were looking to buy our house, as my husband was going to be working from home a day or two a week.

So what was the problem? I had a perfectly usable space set up, why did I not just take a seat and get on with it.

I had somehow become what I can only describe as disconnected with this room.  The combination of the layout, lighting, and mood, it just didn’t ignite that spark.  However I desperately wanted to make it my creative hub, only the vibe was all wrong.

With blank magnolia walls apart from a solitary clock, and no real character to speak of, it was bland and soulless.  Over the years we’ve upgraded the desk and installed some enormous shelves to cater for the hordes of books we have amassed over time. Other than that it has never really been shown the love or attention to décor like the rest of our home.  On the plus side, having a lovely window that looks down onto our neat courtyard garden, meant that with the rising sun in the morning the space was light, bright and airy.  It was just calling out to be given a fresh new identity.

Through this whole process of finding my comfortable and creative zone working at home, I have discovered that my surroundings can really impact my mind-set and how effective I am.  I’m not inspired by chaos and clutter, quite the opposite in fact, and this has never been truer than now.  It’s in my nature to keep things neat and orderly, and when everything is in its rightful place that’s the time when I feel most comfortable and at ease.

So instead of stepping away from my feelings about our home study, I decided to pay them some attention. I was hopeful that I could bring positivity back into the space, and make it a workable option for me.

The 3 little changes I made were simple;

Home Office

# 1 De-clutter & re-organise

For me it was the foreboding bookcases that needed de-cluttering.  They were like a heavy weight on my shoulders.  I am passionate about books, and we have a lot, especially since creating our community free library, however along with our own collection and the bags of book donations it was overwhelming.  Getting a handle on this instantly created much needed physical space in the room, and I felt lighter as a result.

# 2 Colours

Although not quite the finished product, injecting the room with some muted accent colours in the soft furnishings has certainly lifted the mood and the energy in the space. Everything was heavily influenced with red before, and as a strong colour it just didn’t create the right vibe.

# 3 Layout

From my experience of working in our kitchen, I loved being able to look directly out of a window.  Changing the layout so that I could sit next to window and face the door (rather than having the door behind me,) was a revelation.  I instantly felt more relaxed and it lifted my spirits.

The room now feels re-energised, yet calm and orderly.   I would dearly love to get some colour on the walls, and I’m already scouting out art work too.  In the meantime, it’s a space I want to come and hang out now, whether it’s to sit on the comfy chair and read, or be at my desk and do what I love to do – write!

I’m not a spontaneous kind of girl.  I’m methodical and neat, and I love to be organised and for the space around me to reflect that.  Now it does I can really settle down and get on with the important job of creating content for all those fabulous business owners out there.

If you are like me, and work from home in your business, how much does your work space reflect your personality? Does it impact your creativity and productivity? If you have any tips or stories about creating your studio or home office, drop me a comment below.

Until next time, be fabulously you!

 

From Boardroom to Brand; Carol Aplin, Founder and Creator of Pink and Green Organic Skincare explains all.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the fabulous Carol Aplin, founder and creator of Pink & Green Organic Skincare, as part of our Courageous Women series of blogs.  We talked about everything from growing up in the countryside, to learning new skills and leaving the boardroom and never being employed again.

Carol’s passion for the great outdoors is clearly evident in her work and her brand.  The process of gathering ideas and developing each product for her organic skincare range is mirrored in nature itself.  Nurturing new designs with the input of her customers, reminds us of helping a new seedling to thrive and survive, it requires time, nourishment and care.

Join me as we explore Carol’s story, and discover what inspires her to pursue her passion for promoting personal awareness, self-care, and why her customers are at the very heart of her business.

Carol Aplin - founder and creator of Pink and Green Organic Skincare
Carol Aplin

What was life like before Pink & Green Organic Skincare? Did you ever imagine you would be designing and creating your own organic skincare brand?

I was a holistic therapist for a long time before Pink and Green.

I built my business from nothing, training at night school around the family.  Over time I noticed that although my clients enjoyed the treatments, it was having the opportunity and time to talk to somebody that was really of value to them.  With experience I became more intuitive, knowing the right questions to ask in order to help them.  It was really beautiful; clients would have these “aha” moments in the treatment room.  I was helping them to become more self-aware.

With this in mind I thought more on how it would be great to reach more people in this way.  I knew what I wanted to do and why, it was just how.

A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of a workshop to make natural skincare; she had a feeling I would love it, and she was right.  During the workshop I enquired as to whether anyone had gone on to make their own skincare brand.  No-one had, so I asked how.

Did I ever imagine I would be designing and creating my own skincare brand? No.  I’m not sure I would have even bothered unless I had asked the question, and the lady running the workshop had shown me the processes necessary to do it.

This was the how.  Not only could I produce soothing gentle products through creating the brand, I could encourage more women to become more aware and think more clearly about themselves.

Where did your journey begin with your business – was it “a lightbulb” moment? How would you describe it?

I did have a light bulb moment, although it was many years ago, sat in a boardroom.  I was working as Personal Assistant at the time, and I remember sitting in a meeting having this sudden realisation that I didn’t want to be there, and thinking there has to more to life than this.

This was my first step to becoming a business owner, and to never being employed again.

Being mindful and aware of noticing things and opportunities has also played an important part in my journey.

It has been a gradual process with regards to moving away from being a therapist to creating the brand, and along the way the light has gradually been getting brighter.

The light’s pretty bright now which is fantastic.

What surprising lessons have you learnt along the way?

I would say it was discovering my strengths and weaknesses. This has been incredibly valuable for my 2 boys, as I hope I have passed on my positive attributes to them.  They have grown to be excellent thinkers, and I’ve probably taught them to be who they wish to be, to enjoy life’s experiences, and adventures; and to not fill their lives with stuff.

What’s a typical week like for you?

A typical week for me might involve networking, a visit to a salon, making some products, and engaging on social media. Instagram has proven to be an effective platform for my business, as it has brought forward valuable connections that I am sure will prove beneficial in the future.

What are your greatest passions in life? Are you able to weave them into your business?

I would say nature is my absolute love, it fills me up.  Walking in the hills is my greatest passion.

Brought up in the countryside, I could walk out the back of our garden, into the beech woods and the cornfields beyond.  Having the freedom to explore and be you was my parent’s gift to my brother and me.  They encouraged us to think for ourselves, to make our own decisions, and to have an enquiring mind.

Gardening, I love but simply don’t have much time for it now.  The pleasure of taking cuttings, growing vegetables, and seeing things grow from seed, is miraculous.

Now I bottle that passion for nature, and capture it in the products I create.

Facial Oil

What or who inspires you to grow and develop your skincare brand further?

There have been many people throughout my life, who have inspired me, and my customers constantly inspire me to develop the brand, but as well as my passion for nature, I have always had keen interest in psychology and the mind.

Lately I have been inspired by a chap called David Eagleman, an American writer and Neuroscientist. His book ‘The Brain – The story of you’ is fascinating.

If I took one thing from him, it would be about our sense of self, and how our self is in our mind.  In the book he talks about reading brainwaves, and how during sleep at certain points your sense of self disappears.  Imagining every night, everyone in their homes around the world go to sleep, and when they wake, their minds come back to life.

I’ve since been spending time as I wake being aware of my sense of self returning.  It has completely changed my morning ritual.  Having this awareness is amazing, and so is being grateful to experience each new day.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was investing time working on me and my personal development.  Being your own boss, and the shop front of your business you quickly become much more aware of the person you are.  So learning to overcome fear and procrastination, how to make decisions quickly and changes slowly and developing personal confidence has been really important.

What would you say you are you most grateful for in your business?

I’m grateful for my health and being here mostly.

Developing the brand has meant I have been able to move away from what was a physically demanding job, but still be involved in an industry that I value.

What have you found most rewarding from running your own business?

I would say helping other people to shine, by passing on my knowledge.

The brand has been completely built on other people’s input. I have the skills and the know-how, the building blocks if you like to create the products, but it’s really inspired by the needs of others.

The concept for one product came from a mother whose teenage daughter didn’t have much time, but wanted a skincare product that was natural, and quick and easy to use. She was an existing customer, and it was lovely of her to think of me, as opposed to searching on the high street or elsewhere.  I developed a proto-type, her daughter tried it, loved it, and it became the One Balm.

One Balm

Another lady with incredibly sensitive skin was unable to tolerate essential oils in any product, so I made her, her own bespoke range.   This prompted me to think more about women who do have sensitive skin.  Reaching out to my audience again for their input, I  went on to develop the VERY Gentle range, a completely fragrance free range of facial skincare.

My customers are at the heart of every product that is created, whether that’s salon owners looking for a product to use for a particular treatment or getting feedback from a customer and adjusting the formula to suit.  Listening to what people want has been and continues to be integral to the Pink and Green Organic Skincare brand.

What’s next for you?

My one thing is skincare, but being holistically minded, I know it’s not offering the full picture of wellness.  It’s important to protect and care for your skin, but there’s more to it, it’s not enough on its own, I know that.

I’m looking to possibly collaborate with other specialists in their field of health and wellness to be able to offer the full picture, possibly another business opportunity, lets wait and see!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I wrote a few notes down before the interview and they feel somewhat pertinent to Being Truly Me and my journey.

Being true to your self is work in progress and well worth the journey to awareness and contentment.  It takes a lot of conscious effort, however, the more of the person you want to be, the mirror of that will come back to you.

Here’s 2 fabulous takeaway tips from Carol’s interview;

#1 Know your one thing – this is brilliant! Carol’s one thing is most definitely skincare, which means she can respond to the needs of her customers in a genuine and positive way to help solve their skincare dilemmas.

#2 Invest in personal development – although a challenge and the biggest learning for Carol, taking time to invest in yourself, to discover your strengths and weaknesses, and become more self-aware are surely a must when it comes to being your own boss.

I hope this interview has inspired you in some way; it has certainly resonated with me. If you would like to find out more about Carol and Pink and Green Organic Skincare, why not hop on over to her website here.

If you would like to be interviewed about you and your business, then feel free to get in touch, you can also find out a bit more information right here.

Until next time, be brilliant, be you!

 

 

Finding inspiration

Whatever I set out to do last year; my intention was never really to inspire, only to believe in myself and ultimately achieve. The process of being brave and believing in my ideas and goals however revealed so much more than I ever anticipated. Read on to find out more.

I’ve been a bit distracted of late.  My own blog writing has sadly been neglected and I’ve had little time to contemplate where I’m headed next on my journey, until now.

That said, I am certainly not complaining as my attention has been drawn to creating content for some fabulous business owners (the day job that I love,) and tuning into their voice and their words.

It’s sometimes difficult however to turn back the dial, and reset it to my voice when I’ve been occupying someone else’s for a little while. So here I am, re-tuned and ready to go.

As we reach the end of the month, it always amazes me how time seems to pass by so quickly.  I’m sure it speeds up when you’re busy and distracted.  It’s so easy to get caught up in it, and not stop to be present which is a pity, but it happens.

The one time I did try to stop and get off the merry-go-round of life was during my winter hibernation over the festive period.  I took some time to reflect on the year, and to think about the amazing people I met on my journey.  How I challenged myself in different ways, and discovered all the things that helped me to come out of my shell and not hide away.

One of the things that really took me by surprise was for the first time I experienced what it was like to inspire others.  Whatever I set out to do last year; my intention was never really to inspire, only to believe in myself and ultimately achieve.  The process of being brave and believing in my ideas and goals however revealed so much more than I ever anticipated.

What’s that saying?  “Dance like nobody is watching” that was me.  I wasn’t really paying attention to what anyone else was interested in; I was just searching for me.  I wanted to make those little dreams in my head (like the Little Free Library) a reality.  I wanted to set myself what I thought was an impossible goal of running a ridiculously long way for someone who had never run, and smash it. I wanted to free myself from the burden of grief I had been carrying around with me for so long.  I simply wanted to peel back the layers, create some positive changes and live life being truly me.

Inspiring others wasn’t really part of the game plan.  But to hear it in person, to read it in messages, and to realise that as a direct result of your actions you have encouraged someone to realise a goal, or accomplish something positive, felt amazing and very special.

My inspiration to reach new goals, to try new challenges and to stay well most importantly, comes from wanting to be the best version of me.  So I can love, nurture and cherish my family the best way I can.

Inspiration to pursue my business goals and realise my true potential has also come from coaching and the many women in business who I meet up with on a regular basis through networking.

They continually demonstrate determination and courage to pursue great things in their business, and it’s contagious, and inspiring.  Their support and encouragement has been unwavering, and along with my family they have helped me to build the foundations of my business, giving me the confidence to allow my creativity to flourish.

So now feels the right time to showcase these courageous women, and give them the opportunity to share their story, the story of who they truly are.  These blog posts will feature interviews with female solopreneurs, women who have embraced their true selves and allowed that to spill over into the values of their business.  These interviews will look to discover what inspired them to be brave, to find their inner strength, and commit to starting a business of their own.

I look forward to bringing you these interviews very soon, so stay tuned.

Until next time, be your true self, and nothing else.

Have you set intentions for the year ahead?

Have you set intentions for the year ahead?

What path are you hoping to tread? Will it be full of adventure?

If you’re not sure how or what to answer in response to any of the questions above, don’t worry, the new year always brings lots of questions, new offerings, opportunities and beginnings. To get to the point of setting my own intentions for the coming year I first needed to hunker down and hibernate for a while.

The preparations for Christmas in our home are always a bit chaotic, but also magical watching it all develop through the eyes of my 6-year-old.  The joy for me is decorating the house & spending endless hours making paper chains, baking mince pies, setting up the tree & the lights, all to transform our house into a homely snug ready for our annual hibernation.   This has become somewhat of a ritual in our house, but one that is very much-needed as the year draws to an end.

Creating our cosy nest to retreat to over the festivities is always special. We spend endless hours watching movies, over-indulging in luxury food treats, catching up on sleep with the odd daytime nap, and purposely not joining the motorway masses or traveling too far.

It’s the perfect opportunity to re-charge the batteries.

During this time, it’s so easy to lose track of the days, with no real structure or normal routine in place.  And in my opinion this is not a bad thing.   Choosing to detach from the normal hum-drum and busyness of life, our only objectives were to unplug, unwind and eventually relax.

But there does come a time when reality bites.  As the chimes of Big Ben ring in the New Year the cravings for normality usually begins to kick-in (or maybe that’s just me) Emerging from being knee-deep in Lego and selection boxes, the time comes when you just have to put the remote down, get off the sofa, and make a start.

After all the build-up and excitement of Christmas, as much as I enjoy creating our homely nest, I love nothing more than taking it all down, and to de-clutter the house of anything remotely festive.

Starting the New Year means a spring clean, a wardrobe edit, and a duty trip to the charity shop.  To let go of clothes, toys, belongings, and clutter that simply doesn’t matter, it’s like wiping the slate clean, making room for the things in your life that really need your time and attention.  It’s such an energizing process, and another one of my many rituals.

2017 was the year I challenged myself to embrace lots of change, to discover what “being truly me” was all about, to open my heart to heal, and take better care of my health.  2017 was also packed full of adventure, new experiences, new friends and connections, and of course a new business.

We’re only a week into the New Year, and it already feels very different to that of 2017.  This time last year I was in a quandary, feeling overwhelmed and without a purpose. Oh how life has changed since then!

So what about resolutions for the New Year?

In all honesty I have never really been one for resolutions, but I do believe the New Year creates a natural pause in time. A pause to take a breath, to reflect on the year that’s past and consider where you are heading and what is truly important and valuable to us.  A pause to account for everything we need, as opposed to the things we want, and to set intentions.

But what are intentions?

According to MindyBodyGreen, intentions are the “fuel to manifesting your goals and visions.”  They liken setting an intention to that of “drawing a road map to where you wish to go.” Without it you are left wondering aimlessly with no guideline and no real destination.

My intentions for 2018 are simply to be kind to myself, to feel content, to live in the present and create harmony between work and home life.

These intentions will fuel my aspirations to be the best at what I do, as a writer, a mother, wife, and business owner.  They will help me to achieve my goals of giving back to those who have inspired and encouraged me along my journey, and to undertake a physical challenge in support of a worthy cause (something that is still yet to be confirmed!)

Now it’s over to youwhat does 2018 have in store for you? Are you setting any intentions? Are you, like me looking to consolidate and grow following a year of exciting adventures?

I would love to hear from you, feel free to share your thoughts and leave a comment.

Wherever your journey takes you in 2018, may you stay true to you, and follow your own path.