Monthly newsletter

  • August Shares – using Archetypes to be more authentic

    I don’t know about you but I’m loving the Tokyo Olympics and seriously can’t wait to see how the Paralympics continue through August. The grit and determination. The tears of and the cheers. The pride and camaraderie. The winners. The losers. The jokers. The leaders. Even the odd villain has been seen in the ring or in the stands.

    Within the various stadiums, pools, gymnasiums, lanes and courts are full of exceptional human beings……and a raft of archetypes at play. An archetype is a universally understood patterns of behaviours across cultures and communities. Carl Jung developed a series of 12 archetypes drawn from a wealth of stimuli – religion, the natural world, literature, archaeology and more.

    Archetypes have been utilised in a wide variety of tools, psychometrics and approaches used in personal and professional development. I use them in a tailored version that speaks to the archetypes women can experience – the One of many® Women’s Powertypes™. This month, we’re going to explore them and their anti-types (opposites) to boost, empower and create opportunities to bring your authentic self to all aspects of your life.

    I see them as my Olympic teammates – rooting for my success, my peace and my joy – and I’d love to introduce you to yours this month.

    INSIGHT

    Have you ever had a time where you wish you’d somehow brought the characteristics or behaviours of a role model or mentor? Or perhaps in hindsight, you’d have liked to bring forward an alternative version of the “you” who showed up?

    Archetypes can enable you to do just that. 

    I’m not suggesting for one minute that we all go around “acting” out some false character. I know that exploring and gaining connection with your flavour of archetype can build wisdom, confidence, and self-acceptance.

    That’s right – whilst archetypes are universally understood, no two people do them in the exact same way. Your version may share similarities with someone else’s, however, there will be differences unique to you. 

    When we have easy access to these parts of ourselves we can leverage them positively and with intention. Many of us, including myself, need to learn to increase our access or limit the overplaying of elements of them.

    For example, an overexpressed Queen can become an overbearing bully of a leader, losing respect whilst gaining fear from her team. Or an underexpressed Sorceress with little faith in her connections to others and the wider universe can feel alone and reliant only her own grit to see things through.

    The Women’s Powertypes actively tap into the soft power, we all possess. The energy to bring clarity, compassion and wisdom to our various roles and responsibilities, as well as to our many relationships at home, play and work. Learning to embody them each day, we build a deeper affinity with them in bringing our empowered authentic selves to the fore with confidence and trust. 

     

    At times when we feel like the odd one out, our courage can evaporate. We shrink back from opportunities to shape our futures, establishing our boundaries or from asking for help or advice.

    Being able to quieten our mind’s noisy commentary on our inadequacies, isolation or fears, the Powertypes can build our bravery in creating new ways forward into true alignment.

    Lover’s capacity for self-acceptance and great compassion towards ourselves (and others), with Mother’s belief in our potential to thrive combine to vigorously bolster our daring. Pulling upon Queen’s humble seeking of counsel ensures we test and refine our thoughts, decisions and actions with our trusted friends and colleagues, whilst holding our boundaries.

    Courage, bravery and might are foundational parts of Warrioress’ “get on and do” mentality for her passions and cause, at home, work and afar. 

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    Choice and self-determination can appear restricted or hindered by the options and expectations of others when we fear judgement or rejection. Meeting our needs so we can perform without sacrifice is a decision we can make with the support of Queen’s commitment to her realm. She knows she can only serve it when her needs are fully met.

    Finding the joy in our paths can be enhanced through a delicious combination of Lover’s ability to give and receive pleasure with Warrioress’ playfulness. You need to be open to hearing their calls and choosing joy over others’ judgment or views.

    That playfulness can also develop our self-confidence and self-trust in living, working and loving differently as we move forward into our authentic selves. Each small experiment or step towards greater alignment brings newfound choices to learn, grow and relish the joys you deserve.

    Powertypes and connection deserves a whole blog of their own – watch this space as one will follow. Today, I wanted to highlight 2 different elements of how stepping into our power impacts our connections. 

    Firstly, they expand our self-awareness and self-knowledge by enabling you to delve deeper into your values, life principles and also your fears and doubts. This in turn magnifies your abilities to bring our whole selves to crafting more authentic, satisfying relationships.

    Secondly, relationships based on what brings us joy, as discovered and honed by the Powertypes, are founded on authenticity. Where all parties bring their truest self at all times, trusting they are safe to be vulnerable, bold and aligned with one and another. Needs and boundaries are respected and upheld. Faith and support are mutually experienced. Joy is shared and reciprocated. 

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    The question I posed last week flows from the Powertypes. “Does this bring me joy?” is best answered in consultation with each of the Powertypes. Queen confirmed alignment to your vision and needs. Lover knows what activates your pleasure zones and those of others. Sorceress’ wisdom and intuition build trust in simply knowing this is joy. Mother adores nurturing your wellbeing and positive development. Finally, Warrioress’ vibrant, dynamic energy will either kick into action or kick off into something more joy making.

    I recommend soft power playdates to my clients as ways to get to know the joy makers of each Powertype. These solo hours indulging in new things, pastimes, experiences and activities bring us additions to our Needs Creed, especially for those tricky times when we need a supercharged replenishment. (I shared a heap on the Needs Creed during the 3rd Unlocking Lockdown Series – access to all 4 workshops free here.)

    And simply put, operating with easy access to our most powerful, impactful, genuine self is a joy – especially when you’ve kept parts of yourself hidden away.

    So are you ready to add five gold medal winning archetypes to your team? Watch out as I share more both in my blogs and social media during August. Do comment with any questions you have and I’ll respond. I’m really looking forward to sharing more this month!

    If you’d like to understand your current access to the Women’s Powertypes, did you know I offer a profile and debrief session where together we can walk through your personalised report and identify key areas of focus in leveraging them more? Want to know more? Just drop me an email.

  • July Shares

    July is the month of dog days – the hottest days of summer. Historically, they were considered to be an unlucky period, when local dogs were more likely to fight, unexpected thunderstorms came and went, and the combination of heat and lack of rains made crops and their farmers suffer.

    Can you recognise that sensation? A heady mix of uncertainty, out of control, lots of important things to take care of plus overly hot nights meaning extra tiredness and heavy heads.

    This month’s I want to talk about emotions, recognising them, allowing ourselves to feel them, and stepping through them with a few helping hands.

    INSIGHT

    Have you ever been told to leave your emotions “at the door”, or to “get a grip” or even to “suck it up”? Yep, I have too. Compartmentalising emotions, locking them away for later, can be seen as the done thing to do at work and in family or personal situations.

    Yet we find ourselves at a time where skills in emotional intelligence and resilience are valued more and more. Where medical experts are seeing the impacts of unprocessed or repeated emotional experiences on our physical and mental health. Where workplaces are finally addressing the emotional impacts of grief and loss, as being more than the standard 3 days leave and introducing miscarriage policies for mums and dads.

    How do we show up authentically, with our emotion needs fully met?

    When we get hurt physically, we know to clean the wound, disinfect it, dress it and pay attention to it, until it heals – simple first aid practices, right? No one would think twice about you doing just that for a cut. Yet, it’s not uncommon that we brush off emotional hurts or discomfort – perhaps it might be embarrassing, shameful or “just not what we do in our family”. 

    Whilst some forms of emotional pain require formal therapy, we can all practice daily emotional hygiene. They clear the negative and make space for the positive emotions. Here’s some ideas to consider:

    • 1) Recognise and acknowledge your emotions – you might find using an emotions wheel a helpful prompt to effective articule what you are feeling.
    • 2) Listen to your body – so often we get physical accompaniments to our emotions: tense shoulders, joint aches or funny tummies. Pay attention and ask yourself what is behind this sensation?
    • 3) Be compassionate towards yourself and replenish. Do something that makes you feel better.
    • 4) Don’t ruminate – distract yourself with uplifting things: a kitchen boogie, get outside, bake a cake for someone else, call a friend
    • 5) Move your body – release some happy hormones to trick your brain into feeling better. Exercise is a proven pick me up – whether full on sweaty workout or a short gentle stroll. 
    • 6) Seek the lessons and learnings that can take you forward, rather than the stinging nettles to shame or guilt yourself with.

    Take a moment, looking back over the last week or so how have your emotions impacted your behaviour, your mood and your reactions or decisions?

    I know for me facing my emotions takes courage – to look at the big hurts, significant losses and especially the places where I feel I let myself down, in my choices, reactions or behaviours.

    For me, it seems like three types of courage is needed.

    First, the bravery to recognise we have emotions which we are repressing and causing us to not be at our best. Taking a step to change our relationship with our emotions and find ways to sustain our mental wellness can feel daunting or overwhelming. A helping hand from a coach, Mental Health First Aider, GP or Therapist can all provide you with ways to achieve 

    Then we need the guts to meet our emotions face to face and dig into them, knowing that this is going to be hard in the moment – it might stir up long forgotten moments, shake up our moods or sleep for a few days each time we dive in and further emotions may surface. Ones which we’re ashamed to share or we fear being judged for. Any professional practitioner will hold you in reassuring confidence and with compassion, not judgement.

    Lastly, we need a dose of daring to embed the wisdom and learnings into what and where we go next, as well as with who. Most often at this stage, I hear anxieties about what will people make of this “totally different new me”? Then they try new behaviours, like holding boundaries with others or making career or life decisions to affirm their values, rather than diminish them, and anyone who truly cares is simply overjoyed for them.

    Which stage do you need courage for? How will you find it?

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    We have the choice to make emotional hygiene parts of our day to day, or not. We have the choice to seek professional help, or not. We have the choice to stick with our unprocessed ugliest emotions and keep sitting on them.

    When you’ve had enough of their impacts, when you’re sick of their pervasive interference in many parts of life, when you’re exhausted having to hold them in, please take a small step to resolve them.

    One of my favourite experts in this space, Annie Stoker uses a lovely metaphor for this. She describes it as trying keep everything happening and trying to hold a beach ball under the surface of a pool – the ball keeps trying to pop up to the surface and it reacts to the waves and the wind.

    You can keep your hands on the ball, but its gets slippery and unpredictable. Then when you least expect or at a super inconvenient time, your grip will fail. Pop! Up that beach ball comes…….

    Being able to tune into your emotions with ease is a skills developed through reflective practices, such as dynamic mediations, embodiment work and journaling.

    Each of these allows us to safely peel away the layers to uncover what we’re feeling, where are you feeling it, what triggered these sensations and also the meanings you’re giving to it. Then once we’ve gained space to breathe and for our brains a chance to step back from the fight, flight, freeze or fawn response, we can beginning to connect with our inner wisdom to find new ways forward.

    Connection might look like surrendering to our Sorceress powertype’s insights or bringing out Lover’s self care or wrapping ourselves up in Mother’s unconditional nurturing. It could also include focusing on alignment with Queen’s vision for ourselves or our realm or firing up our feisty Warrioress to defend our needs.

    How well do you know your Powertypes? Can you access them with easy, stepping into full embodiment to create synergy between your emotions, your thoughts and your physical actions? How can you enhance your access this month?

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    I should point out not all emotions are negative. Joy, the inner appreciation of our  life’s uplifting moments, is not to be forgotten!

    For me, it’s different to happiness, an externally manifested sense of contentment and pleasure. It can contribute to feeling joy, alongside others elements like gratitude, beauty, good fortune, or satisfaction with life.

    With so many things that can contribute to feeling joy, it can be hard to feel. We might feel ashamed, guilty or even that our “definition” of joy isn’t in tune with others.

    We sabotage our joy with comparison with others and judgement of our worthiness to experience such an emotion. 

    What I do know is the power of feeling joy in self acceptance and self trust is not to be underestimates. Similarly, the skill to bring joy into your life, your work, your family and friends or your communities makes a significant impact on a sense of belonging and being valued.

    So next time, joy pops up, ask yourself two eye opening questions:

    • 1) What other emotions is joy evoking right now and why?
    • 2) How can I create more of this and share it with others?

    And that’s your opener for July Shares – emotions. Love them. Hate them. Part of the human condition is having them – goods ones and tough ones.

    Over the remaining Mondays, I’ll be focusing in on different elements of understanding, learning and tackling emotions. If there is a particular angle, theme or challenge you’d like me to write about, drop me a message (sarae@saraepratt.com)

  • June Shares

    We’ve begun to enjoy many new beginnings in the last few weeks – vaccination rollouts on track, gentle easing of restrictions moving cautiously ahead and the ability to connect with loved ones further afield is a much-awaited joy.

    There are calls for swifter progressions in unlocking, alongside more prudent voices to pace ourselves. I’m reminded of conversations I have with organisations and with coachees about their own journeys into their own new beginnings.

    Welcome to June’s theme, New Beginnings.

    INSIGHT

    Evolution or revolution. 

    A cry for incremental careful steps towards a goal or significant, perhaps even radical change.

    Both can have their place and their successes. Both can fail. 

    There is no one size fits all approach to organisational or personal development and transformation. I know this from my professional experience and my personal path from starting out as an engineer to today as a people development specialist, from a damaged good girl to a healing emboldened woman.

    Yet so often I’m asked for an off the shelf programme or workshop. Why? We like certainty, it calms our brain’s worries, it provides an anchor to hold tight to and it gives clarity about what next. For organisations, there is a perceived certainty in the ROI if someone else already tried it and got results.

    Whilst my Realise coaching programme has a number of elements that all coachees and I work through, and I have a large kitbag of tools and techniques learnt over the years, I believe it is successful because together we co-create their path to realising a future where they can confidently and comfortably bring their whole selves to life, love and work.

    I prefer to take a similar approach with corporate work, especially when they are anxious to deliver excellence for their employees and their customers. A bespoke presentation or workshop always meets, if not exceeds, repetitive generic content.

    For some, it is an evolution across the sessions or workshops I facilitate. For others, revolutions are in order. 

    Asian girl looking at camera with pale rainbow overhead in a grey sky

    Regardless of your path’s evolutionary or revolutionary nature, taking a step needs a dose of bravery and determination. 

    We practice it each day – mostly without awareness that we are courageous. In tiny steps in the things we do, how we feel and what we believe about ourselves. It’s what enables us to keep going – even when we feel stuck or like we’re treading water going round and round.

    It is how we start our new beginnings and how we navigate through the ups and downs. We need to connect with our why, the inner wisdom we have as we make each step especially the ones that take us off track.

    How do you get in touch with your courage? I work with the Sorceress Powertype to enhance our connection to our courage – from journaling and mediation to breathwork and creating a “why” statement as the meaning we want to hold and feel in the moment.

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    New beginnings are a choice. Most of the time.

    Some are forced upon us due to external circumstances – hello Covid and your difficult impacts; furlough, sickness, loss and more.

    Similarly, some are driven by a desire to get away from a bad circumstance or person. Others by hopes and dreams of a different, brighter future.

    We can choose the meaning and motivation we wish to carry forward. Our Inner Critic likes to chime in with her thoughts around about now – and there is wisdom held in them. She seeks to protect us from hurt, shame, embarrassment or judgement; her tone and words often sting at first. 

    One tool I use with clients to help them assess their meaning and motivation is the In or Out list – very simply put: grab a piece of paper, fold it in half longways and mark one side “I’m in” and the other side “I’m out”. Then jot down as many answers as you can. Push through at least two blank spots.

    Go broad, wide, deep, random, crazy…. Wherever you need to tap into to generate the fullest list you can. Then summon your courage and decide on the meaning and motivation of your new beginning.

    Outstretch open palm with rainbow light across it

    One of the potentially most challenging parts of new beginnings is looking at the people around us. Whilst many will support and cheer us on, some may need to fade away or are yet to be found. 

    Two of the challenges I come across are when important people to us can’t get on board with us. Family, cultural, societal and religious expectations or norms can create real tension when we stop hiding and choose a life as our whole authentic self. These are often deeply held and can create pain on all sides. 

    The second is finding your “tribe” – the people you’ve yet to meet who can help you, as role models, with advice and hindsight or simply walk with you as your new beginning becomes fully embodied. 

    But to recap, many people will stick with you – some may even surprise you by sharing their own journeys that you were unaware of. Be grateful for those you’ve got and ask Source to deliver the right people to you. I’m always amazed when I do this with an open heart, how often they pop up out of the blue.

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    Whether your approach is evolution and revolution, new beginnings can help us create more opportunities to experience.

    By honouring our needs and respecting our values, we build a vision and the strengths to take action in creating a brighter future. By bringing our whole true self to every aspect of our lives, we realise greater joy. 

    Each step into our new reality enhances our insights, grows our courage, emboldening our liberty and creating stronger, more resilient connections with our tribes…….for even more joy.

    When the going gets challenging, feels painful or you don’t know exactly what comes next, find one small action and keep the circle of energy going.

    REdheaded woman with wisps of curls and drop earring, rainbow light refracted down her face, across her eye and down her cheek

    Rainbows are considered a sign of new beginnings – set your sights on yours this month. 

    Tell me, are you ready for yours?

  • May Shares

    A month with two long weekends – lush. How was your April in terms of taking action?

    For me, it’s involved periods of deep reflection, exploratory conversations and some extra training. The theme, that keeps coming up in the conversations, reading, and workshops, is around a sense of being “in the group”, yet feeling somehow disconnected with the group and its values or expectations.

    So that’s this month’s theme – Acceptance and Joy. Join me as I share what I’ve been taking out of my research and studies.

    INSIGHT

    The relationship between acceptance and joy was famously explored by Professor Carol Ryff, which lead to her psychological wellbeing model, based on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, “where the goal of life isn’t feeling good but is instead about living virtuously”. It has 6 elements that need to fulfilled to achieve a sense of psychological wellbeing; they are:

    • 1.) Self-acceptance
    • 2.) Personal growth (Our March Shares newsletter theme)
    • 3. )Purpose in life
    • 4.) Environmental mastery (aka control over one’s surroundings and activities
    • 5.) Autonomy
    • 6.) Positive relations with others (aka positive sense of belonging, trust and connection)

    In therapeutic usages, you are asked to rank parts of each element out of 6, with 6 being very positive and 1 being very negative. You might like to do a rough version of this and look at where your psychological well-being – which elements could benefit from some extra attention or what could you add to your Needs Creed to boost that element?

    Self-acceptance is defined as having self-awareness, a realistic, yet subjective view of one’s talents, skills and worth plus a sense of satisfaction in oneself despite past failures, bad behaviours and choices. It allows us to recognise our uniqueness and brilliance, whilst allowing us to change and grow as individuals.

    With myself and with clients, I notice that self-acceptance can be accessible in some areas and create joy yet unattainable in others, where we carry hurt, guilt or shame. Growing our self-awareness and connection with ourselves alongside self-care and compassion can help us discover, explore and realign to create greater self-acceptance and therefore greater psychological wellbeing and joy.

    Asian woman with her hands behind her head, eyes closed and smiling a knowing smile

    Guilt and shame can arise from our worse critic and harshest judge, ourselves. A time when we said or did the wrong thing. A choice that went wrong. A fear of being found out stopping us from asking for help. A decision not to step in and give for others.

    Then afterwards we feel the ickiness, sometimes with a physical sensation of compromising our integrity in our behaviours or a negative view of ourselves. We may react with one of our disempowering archetypes, Bitch, Martyr and Victim with denial, defensiveness, blame, anger or self-pity, isolation and mistrust.

    We need to find courage and bravery to recognise, explore and evoke new beliefs, thinking patterns and habits. I often talk about it as peeling onions. Each layer we peel off can feel comfortable and comforting at the same time. Uncomfortable because we face our less liked parts of ourselves or difficult experiences. Comforting as we find new meaning, understanding and release from them.

    Courage might take the form of journaling, working with a therapist or a coach, or perhaps finding a group where others who have similar desires to grow and experience more joy and self-acceptance with less guilt and shame.

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    If self-acceptance requires the ability to see ourselves and our choices realistically, my hunch is we need some sort of criteria to hang our hats on. A row of pegs that help us navigate, evaluate and decide.

    For me, these are my values and my needs. My ability to discern what’s good, enabling and powerful about me hangs off them. Let me give you an example.

    A dear friend had a 50th birthday coming up in July and I’d love to celebrate with her. We’re in different countries, with very different COVID responses. Joining her fits all of my life values – it would be a positive choice I could make to join her, it would definitely be joy fuelling and it would deepen our friendship. 

    However, it would deplete me. My second jab date is just before I’d need to fly and take the train to meet her. I’d be travelling for longer than I’d be there due to the location and I’d be one of 50+ guests inside a restaurant. My physical and psychological needs would be impacted negatively more than the experience would enrich and nourish me.

    Yet, one of my values in life and work is liberty – the ability to make my own choices. I’m owning it. I’m making the hard decision. I’m not going. I need to be courageous and acknowledge the parts of me not yet ready to travel internationally and be surrounded by a lot of people, who maybe aren’t being diligent in their handwashing and mask-wearing. 

    I need to work on the self-acceptance piece here as I consider myself quite a brave, strong and resilient person in many ways so this is a new one for me (and my coach!)

    Looking up at a white woman with her hands on her heart, head tipped back, eyes closed with a cloudy blue sky behind her

    Self-acceptance and joy also go hand in hand with our experiences with others. I believe it is possible to be a part of a group, tribe, team, yet still, be different.

    And that difference can make or break out self-acceptance. A few weeks ago, I was interviewed about finding joy in our lives for a group of women, who are childless through choice or chance. Within that safe space, we had a deep conversation, touching on my work and life and heard deeply intimate, often deeply emotional shares. These women came from several countries, different backgrounds and different ages – what holds them together is a desire to connect around their commonality and find a mutual understanding and respect of their situation.

    Finding your people can support a greater sense of self -acceptance by helping us generate that “realistic yet subjective” assessment of our talents, skills and worth. It can also provide external reassurance and validation to support our inner self-view; it can not replace our own point of view, it can create a sense of belonging and likeness.

    Where would you like to feel greater self-acceptance in your life, your actions, your choices? Who else shares that with you? Can you hang out with them as a reader or listener or at an exhibition, workshop or event? (PS Have you joined me and other women like us in the Haven, as together we seek to create, share and experience joy in our lives whilst cherishing our uniqueness? You’d be super welcome x)

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    Without acceptance, joy is hard to find and experience. I’ve said it before – joy comes from within. We absorb the loveliness of a location, an experience or a person’s actions towards us or others and it grows a kernel of joy. It is more than happiness. It is more than contentment. It is more than an external sensation of pleasure.

    It comes from within. We create it through our actions and choices, as well as in accepting brilliant selves as having worth in this world to do things that align to our values and support our needs.

    It comes from investing in ourselves. We create more space and time and energy for joy by working on the parts of us or the parts of life that we don’t accept – by learning more about ourselves, we change, we try new paths, we make new decisions and greater joy follows.

    What one aspect of you or your life could you learn a bit more about this month in order to define or reshape it and find more self-acceptance and joy?

    Black woman with a beautiful knowing smile, eyes shut and her hand on her neck. A neon S shaped light swishes behind her

    Keep peeling your onion of acceptance, shed the tears, feel the pain and release each layer to find your deeper sense of self-acceptance to create space for your joy to flourish.

    I look forward to bringing you a bit more on this theme over the next 4 weeks – you get an extra blog as there are 5 Monday this May!

  • April Shares

    Another month closes and the 4th month of 2021 arrives! Our April theme is “taking action’ – something close to my heart and purpose in my work. It’s all well and good visioning, reflecting and pondering our futures, unless you take action, you won’t ever get to feel the joy in living your vision.

    And I think you’re here, reading this, as you are a woman seeking to take action and change her life, her work, her relationships, her wellbeing and her leadership with greater clarity of vision, self-awareness and of course, joy.

    INSIGHT

    When I worked with a therapist she taught me the competence ladder model. You start at the first rung by taking action and getting on the ladder; you might already be getting the chills down your back, but you’re doing it anyway and breaking through the inertia of inaction.

    Next, you climb up to the rungs of increasing competency and in each one your knowledge, skills and fluency shift and reshape into a full enabled, capable practitioner.

    You reach the self-belief rung, where your mindset believes and actively acknowledges your developing self’s value and benefits. 

    Finally, we climb to the shady heights of confidence, where you look back on our journey and its bumps and joys with a smile. You feel fully empowered and enabled to deploy your learnings and skills and move with greater ease onto the next ladder……

    She shared this at a time when I was struggling to feel I was doing ok in my role. I had a bully for a boss, who’d encouraging others to confirm his bias and peers who were also struggling with the weight of the expectations on us.

    Suddenly in the blink of an eye, I didn’t need to feel my old confidence and be fully ok with performing at work, I just needed to focus on the next rung of the ladder, no further ahead. To start with a small step and do something that felt safe and would get me taking action.

    Ironically, the rungs of the ladder also gave me so much more clarity on my worth and my potential and helped me recognise the costs of staying put. I left and joined a new company in a role where I was promoted within 9 months and got the biggest bonus I’ve ever had.

    There can be a wealth of reasons and blockers that stop women from taking action on their needs, dreams and desires – courage could be considered to be the handrail that runs up the ladder. It supports and assists us as we climb.

    I believe that it is held in place, firm and true by our vision of the joys to come – where we have climbed our ladders and are thriving. It buzzes with the energy to remind us when we waiver when we doubt ourselves when excuses feel stronger than our dreams.

    Looking ahead into your actions, strengthen your inner vision by crafting a clear image or screen of the top of the ladder. Where are you? Who’s with you? What can you hear? Is there an aroma or taste present? What can you see around you? 

    Use your journaling to enhance your vision, create a vision board, paint it or write a poem about it and your courage will increase.

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    Taking action is a choice, as is not taking action.

    Three common filters we use to influence our choice to act or not are deletion, distortion and generalisation, which we use to interpret our values, our beliefs, our experiences and our previous decisions.

    Deletion is the choice to exclude certain information – we dismiss, forget or ignore an input in our decision making. It could be about the how of the action or the potential challenge. 

    Distortion is when we adapt facts, memories or someone else’s opinion to better suit a choice we can make to act or not act. We may make them more favourable to action or inaction and can be fueled by fear or anxiety.

    Finally, generalisations are where we aggregate a few pieces of information to make a wider conclusion or rationale for our action/inaction. (A common one I hear is “I’ve tried it before and it didn’t work” or “I’ve seen other women speak up and it didn’t go well for them”.)

    When you feel resistance to action, check in with yourself: is there anything I am deleting, distorting or generalising that is inhibiting my choice?

    At a minimum, at least twice a week, I connect with peers for accountability on my actions. I share how much progress I’ve made, where I’ve got stuck, where I let myself get distracted or when I exceeded my own expectations of myself. We celebrate, we share, we hold each others’ visions and ambitions with love and care.

    Yes, we laugh and yes, we cry. Our ability to take actions that are meaningful in shaping both ourselves, our lives, our work, our loves and more, is many, many times stronger through our collective might.

    It is exactly why I offer both one to one coaching and group coaching – some things are better explored individually, but when it comes to taking action based on your values, vision and dreams, groups win hands down. 

    If coming out of lockdown, through the self-awareness and tools we’re sharing in the Unlocking Lockdown workshops** or through my blogs, you intend to embark on a new journey, a new period of personal or professional development or to leverage the “new norm” so it works better for you, do consider finding the tribe, the group, the circle to connect with.

    My next group programme begins at the end of April and I’d love you to be a part of it. I’m also enrolling additional one to one coachees. If you’d like a 45 minute exploratory conversation about how I can support you in achieving a life where you can thrive with more joy, clarity and alignment, drop me an email: sarae@saraepratt.com to arrange a call.

     

    ** Missed the first two workshops? Want to join the next 2? No worries, just RSVP here to get the zoom invite and to access the recordings (I’m posting each one the day after the live event)

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    Daily gratitude practise for me also includes an element of joy spotting. Big actions and small ones, aligned to our values and beliefs, which honour and respect our needs and allow us to step into our emotions and feel into them, need to be recognised.

    I think of it as doing a sort of fitness exercise to strengthen my joy muscles. The more I train them, the stronger they are for finding and experiencing joy.

    In terms of taking action, I like to plan a celebration or treat for milestones; not necessarily grand but always something that is replenishing and uplifting. I also use my Passion Planner’s weekly and monthly reflections to look back more formally on my actions, whilst daily, I use a notebook to list 3 wins at the end of each workday and my bedtime gratitude practice to ask for “this please and more” for tomorrow each evening.

    The extra exercise that builds my joy muscle is spotting for others. Acknowledging and applauding for each other brings another joy and collectively builds our ability to keep taking the next step on the ladder.

    How do you spot joy? Could you do it more often?

    Young woman climbing upside down on ladder, reaching out towards you

    I’m excited to share this month with you as we all step a little nearer to new normal, after the disruption of the pandemic, and be here to support you in maximising the positive, joy affirming riches it can bring you.

    We have two more Unlocking Lockdown workshops coming up, both live at 1930 or you can get the recordings:

    • 7th April “Reset and Re-energise: learnings from sports and neuroscience”, co-hosted with Eva Woods, Female Performance and Brain Coach, Connective Performance
    • 14th April “Create your affirming mindset for thriving in the new normal”, co-hosted with Leonore Lord, Coach and Trainer, True Measure.

    It’s completely free to join and you’d be very welcome! RSVP to register your interest and confirm your email for GDPR, then I’ll ping you the invite just ahead of the session and the recording the following day.

    And of course, my invite to join other women like you and me is always open in the Haven.

  • March Shares

    Pinch, punch, first of the month! This is the month of mad hares, the Spring Equinox and potential “unlocking” of the UK lockdown conditions. It is a time where we start to see those early blooms nodding their heads in the breeze, leaves opening up on the branches and sunglasses replace woolly hats when we head outdoors.

    It is the season of beginnings, fresh choices and within the One of many Powertypes, it is Warrioress season. So let’s get going, welcome to this month’s theme: Growth

    INSIGHT

    Personal and professional development as an adult requires us to give up many of the things we were taught at school about learning. Being right isn’t always a good thing. The why is often as important as the how. Comparing our outcomes motivates us to achieve more. Logic and reasoning matter more than creativity and agility.

    Stanford University’s Professor Carol Dweck researches the heck out of what does physiological growth look like and how can we be open to more. She describes it as “My work bridges developmental psychology, social psychology, and personality psychology, and examines the self-conceptions (or mindsets) people use to structure the self and guide their behaviour. My research looks at the origins of these mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes.”

    Her concept of the fixed and the growth mindset challenges those school day methods. Parroting and repetition only going so far in increasing our intelligence and skills to approach life’s challenges. Praising our results whilst ignoring our efforts. Hearing the negatives more than the positives. (remember the sh*t sandwich feedback model? Let you only recalling the filling)

    Infographic by Nigel Holmes
    Infographic of Carol Dweck's Mindset work

    Personal and professional growth come to us in mixed-up ways – some through conscious choice, others through surprise and others by pure chance. It can be smooth and it can be messy. 

    To achieve a life fueled by joy, we need to find courage and bravery to move through imperfect decisions, actions and attempts to be our best selves. This is a true growth mindset, as set out by Carol Dweck. We must appreciate our own potential and our own fragility – that is to say to recognise we can do hard things when combined with self-compassion and self-care.

    The last 12 months has seen us use Superwoman and her disempowering friends, Bitch, Martyr and Victim, and we’ve leveraged our Powertypes too. Many of us been in survival mode to get through some weeks or even days, biding our time and energies. We’ve demonstrated our resilience and care, as well as our adaptability to keep doing new things.

    I want to encourage you to use March to revisit your intentions from a year ago – in what aspects did you want to grow as a person, as a leader or as a partner or parent? Reimagine how you anticipated this stronger, more aligned you feeling, doing and being as 2020 drew to a close. Now is the time to reconnect with that vision and start to rekindle, refine and redevelop that vision for positive, sustainable growth. 

    Let’s be brave together and grow into our YES for joy.

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    Growth requires liberty in order to make our choices. I believe we need to make 3 sets of decisions – what is no longer, what is in between and what will be in the future. 

    The latter is the vision of your feeling, doing and being from above – what will be. The other two can also fall into that messy camp and can be accompanied by resistance, both our own and that of those around us. Just who are you going to become? 

    The fact that you are here with me, reading this, tells me she’s a phenomenal woman. One who will cherish those at her Hearth and forge a better future for those in her Realm, both whilst holding to her values in life and work. One who will show herself the respect and honour she merits. One who will lift other women around her to their best lives. One who will find joy in the small coincidences, the giant leaps she makes and in the triumphs of others.

    Letting go of what is no longer serving you can be cathartic, upsetting and a joyful release. It can also be need pacing with small accumulating steps towards the in between.

    You might consider using your self-connection habits to linger on the choices you wish to make as your commitment to your personal and professional growth, and your gratitude practices to recognise your progress and actions. 

    Guided conversation and counsel can also accelerate and clarify how you wish to use your liberty – the autonomy to grow and be who you desire to be. My next coaching programme begins in April. If you’d like to know more, drop me a line – sarae@saraepratt.com

    Woman looking at artist's easel pondering her art

    Within all the successful talent, leadership or cultural change programmes, I’ve worked on, there has been a strong element of connection through small groups or peer buddies. It is through supported practice that we move from the in between to the what will be of our courageous decisions.

    I’ve mentioned my mastermind group before. I connect with them each week for inspiration, support, encouragement and to embolden by actions in achieving my vision of “women being empowered by joy – without guilt, shame or judgement – to lead, inspire and create positive change in their world”. Goodness knows we need women leaders to collaborate and move things forward for all as we come out of the pandemic!

    Over the next two months, I’m going to be offering you greater connection with women in my network to help you step into supporting growth. So keep your eyes peeled for announcements here or in the Haven.  

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    If you’ve ever done one of the positive psychology based questionnaires, you may have noticed that joy can be found in many ways. The beauty of bird song on a spring day. The aroma of a meal first had on a special occasion or holiday. The cheeky look on a loved one’s face that tells you exactly what’s on their mind. The connection with Source that opens our hearts to new wisdom. 

    There is joy in the twists in our growth’s messiness and in its ups and downs. In knowing ourselves better and building the confidence to keep growing. Often we link our success to the final outcome or milestone along the way and miss out on the joy spotting of each a-has and learning, each moment embracing our developing self and acknowledgement of our own power to succeed.

    How do you recognise your growth with joy in each day and week? For me, joy is best when shared and the Haven is there to celebrate with you.

    I mentioned this is the season of Warrioress with her joyful get up and go, her desire for nurturing ideas and starting to explore and action them. I’m curious what is it this month that you want to delve into to aid your personal and professional growth? 

    And don’t forget my invite to join me and my fabulous peers in our series of mini workshops – more info in the Haven. Not yet joined us, here’s the link.

  • February Shares

    Welcome to February! The 2nd of the month is the midpoint of Winter – we’re on the home stretch to Spring – each day takes us a little nearer to lighter days and warmer weather. I’m starting to be frustrated in that cooped up sensation dark, wet days bring.

    So I’m setting off outside, wellies on, earphones at the ready to stretch my legs and mind, whilst I explore my alignment. Wanna come join me?

    INSIGHT

    Living in alignment with our true self can be hugely satisfying, yet somehow hard to come by. We can regularly feel we’re not there – that rub or friction between what we aspire to do, be or feel and what we’re experiencing. We might feel a sense of guilt or shame that we’ve not met our own standards.

    How do we find those standards? Well, some come from collective values, perhaps through our religion or the morals and principles of our community. Many of us have been taught we should treat others as we’d like to be treated ourselves and when we observed a bully and the trouble they get into as collectively, we agreed this behaviour wasn’t acceptable. I’m not holding these examples up as being “your” truth, rather sources of how we start to build our standards.

    Activities of self-connection, such as journaling, mediation, time having fun by ourselves, also show us our values, our no go lines and where we have more to learn about ourselves. Much like a fine wine, our sense of self grows in sophistication with age and with our efforts to really know our authentic, true self. I’d include in this the media we consume (books, podcasts and learning), the people we listen to, the adventures we take and our capacity to be comfortably uncomfortable as we look into our blind spots of unknowns.

    Reflecting back on the last few weeks, how have you invested in living in your alignment? What’s worked and what didn’t come off as you’d like? Looking into February, what can you do to create more opportunities to connect with yourself and find alignment?

    Showing up as you when you’ve not been doing so, takes clarity and bravery. Every client I work with at some point will define their values with me and explore their “towards” motivators for living in alignment.  Values are the filter for our actions and the lens in which we read others’ behaviours – usually, they are an abstract word or short phrases with an associated outcome. When present in our lives, they light us up, making us feel joy.

    The same is true for our needs, once your “why” and the “how” and the “what” are clarified and they are easier to act upon, creating alignment and space for joy.

    Equally, you must know what conflicts exist and in which aspects of your life those values and needs are present to find what you will truly prioritise in your actions, thoughts and feelings.

    For February, I encourage you to get clear on one or two values or needs that if you lived in alignment with them, would make a real difference to your energy and joy. If you’re not sure how to do that or would like a team of cheerleaders to support you, drop by the Haven – we’ve got you. If you’d like to explore your values and needs in more depth, drop me a line.

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    Knowing your values and needs is one thing – holding firm on them is a choice and that is made harder by the uncertain circumstances we face right now before we even think of the “usual” challenges life offers us.

    Our Queen Powertype looks to serve her realm with her full energy and might. And she knows she must tend to her own wellbeing first, before ushering progress or change around her. Queen also knows when to seek help – whether that is as advice or practical hands-on deck.

    Practising your embodiment of Queen is one way to bring her into your life and maintain those boundaries, which create alignment for you. One quick practice is to pop on some regal music and enact putting on your heavy glorious crown and thick cloak of rich velvet, feeling how they change your posture, your gaze, the pace at which you want to move and the sense of serene grace that fills you up. (I love Glorianna (Hymn a la Femme) by Vangelis. It works a treat for me stepping into Queen. Clients, who are fans of the Crown or Victoria, use music from their soundtrack. Whatever feels queenly to you is right). Do a body scan and lock the sensations in your limbs, spine, core, shoulders, arms, neck, head away – ready for when you need to step up and hold a boundary around a value or need for alignment. 

    As you know my monthly newsletters are shaped around my 5 business values – what I hold dear in the way I serve my vision and work with you or with organisations to ensure every woman can lead by saying YES to joy across every part of her life. 

    I want you to have the information you need, the courage and liberty to act upon it with a network of supportive, like-minded women backing you up. For then, we all experience joys.

    I’m looking to create virtual Haven Retreat days in the Spring as it’s pretty clear we won’t be able to get in one room for some time, yet the benefits those days deliver are really key right now. I’m also opening up times for coaching intensives too – these are 2.5 hour sessions to deep dive, explore and discover, practice and grow in specific areas you need someone to guide you through.  If you’d like to know more about either of these, drop me an email. (I will be creating a waitlist for Retreats)

    And of course, the idea that led to the creation of the Haven group came from my research last summer with over 30 women. The constant in their responses was having somewhere private and safe to be, to share their wins and their challenges, to meet others striving to lead authentically and create joy in the lives. You are always welcome there.

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    Does joy that brings alignment or alignment bring joy? Hmmm, I’ve pondered this one a fair bit. I think there is a sort of energetic loop we create when either of these occur, the other is the knock-on bonus and we feel motivated to create more, to be clear on our must-haves and the lines not to be crossed, the things and people that light us up or crush us to the core.

    One of my personal values is the nourishment of my body, my mind and my soul. It’s a towards motivated filter for the things I elect to do, eat, listen to or be with. When I nourish myself, I gain new knowledge and wisdom about myself, I lean into being my best self and I can become more for myself and to the realm I serve. I have my favourites for sure but I also seek out new opportunities to achieve this – some of which I enjoy and will repeat, whilst others are a “no, won’t be doing that again”. My soft play dates form part of this – weekly 60-minute solo activities that partner the morning pages practices from Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. Last month, I tried a new online vocal meditation class (which I would have been far too intimidated to do in person) and listened only to podcast recommendations from friends, instead of my usual ones. I loved both, far more than I expected, they support my nourishment value and inspired a conversation with a client into a whole new direction. Small wins in my aligned living!

    How can you create joy and alignment in February as the days grow lighter and warmer? Could you have a lockdown friendly solo date trying out something new to support one of your values or needs? Stuck for ideas, ask in the Haven.

  • January Shares

    New Year, new you, new resolutions, new habits, new, new, new, new….arrrrgggghhhhhh. Perhaps like me you’ve seen, heard and felt the many expectations on this month’s start – you’ve got to be new, do new, think new, be new…..and well, maybe that’s true for you or maybe it feels like a set of expectations that burden or pressure you to change, invest and behave differently.

    So, this month I’m not going to add to the voices, influencers, gurus, etc who are talking about setting out your 2021 intentions and resolutions. I’m going to talk about expectations.

    INSIGHT

    We carry loads of expectations every day – from lifestyle norms like brushing our teeth twice a day to seasonal ones like new year’s resolutions. Some we create ourselves and others are external to our values, needs and desires.

    At school and work, we’ve been taught to do well that we need an expectation – a grade or KPI to achieve. At home and in our relationships, we’ve been taught what is expected of us as societal and cultural norms. If like me, you watch Bridgerton over the festive break, not only our status, role and marital expectations were firmly set out. 

    Today, we have more flexibility within those expectations, yet we’ve not achieved acceptance or equality – the UN Women have shared their research on 2020’s impact on women’s careers, health, safety and wealth; not one has improved in the last 12 months.

    Expectations are not all bad. When explicit, specific and aligned, we know where we stand. We have clarity and focus. We can take action and invest our time and energy effectively. They can shape our dreams and future vision, as well as forming our leadership style and impact.

    They become problematic when they are unrealistic or misaligned with our own expectations or circumstances. They create “shoulds” and “musts”, which can devastate our motivations and self-confidence. They open up opportunities for our disempowering archetypes, Super Woman, Bitch, Martyr and Victim with their associated exhaustion, emotional fatigue and the risk of burnout.

    It is this type of expectation that can reinforce our sense of not being or doing enough, as well as causing us to wobble and doubt ourselves, struggle to lead others with authenticity and compassion, and creating feelings of guilt, frustration and anxiety as we play compare-itus and second guess or procrastinate.

    Ask yourself: are you setting new year resolutions (ie expectations) of yourself that are realistic and aligned with your values, needs, desires and your circumstances? Or are you doing it because it is expected because of a random date in the calendar and creating a “should” or “must” in your life and leadership?

    Woman writing in journal

    This month, courage is needed in our expectations of self and of others. Often, these can be intertwined. For example, if I engage everyone in this zoom meeting today, my team will be reinvigorated to move ahead. The expectation that you will perform in a certain way and that your team will respond as you’d wish (because we control that, right?). 

    How do we then critique ourselves? Does that little voice whisper in our ear “…., but you won’t, will you? Who do you think you are? You’ve got no chance, have you seen yourself on screen?” Hello Impostor Syndrome, Hello Bitch. 

    It takes courage to shape our expectations and to detangle them from our expectations of others in order to be compassionate and lead our teams, our families and our communities. 

    If you are setting 2021 resolutions set-up expectations on yourself or on others, be courageous in them: acknowledge the silent “should” or “must” in them, make your associated expectations on others transparent to yourself and possible to them, and to communicate our values, needs and requests for support.

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    As I mentioned above, 2020 removed many choices for women with its many impacts on our work, careers, families and wellbeing to name but a few.

    We head into 2021 with continued uncertainty around our tier system, schools and workplace openings – or not! – and the expectations we feel, whether realistic, self-generated or from others.

    We still have the liberty to park expectations that are unrealistic and to frame others in positive, affirming ways. You might recall the cycle of creation from the Haven Retreat (missed it? Hop over here and visit unit 2). Those same principles can be applied to our expectations – build the meaning to support the emotional mood and active motion you require to achieve your desired outcomes.

    Write down your expectation, with your little voice’s “additions” then rewrite the meaning (check where it comes from mind, body or Source) that supports you to feel and act in ways to meet your own expectations with compassion and without sacrifice.

    Taking the zoom meeting example above, a potential meaning might be “I can share and spread my enthusiasm for this project with ease” – such a meaning is uplifting, aligned and establishes a sense of self-confidence, which in turn can shape your expression, time and energy on zoom in the meeting.

    I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.

    Brené Brown

    One of my favourite authors and sources of wisdom. I love this quote, it summarises my own value of connection both personally and within my work, especially the Haven group, my coaching, retreats and workshops.

    Looking at it through the lens of “expectation”, it is can be seen how they can positively and negatively change our levels of connection with others.

    A compassionately set and openly, perhaps even vulnerable shared expectation can build a bond, strengthen a feeling of support, sustenance and strength within a personal or professional relationship.

    An unspoken, misaligned or unrealistic expectation can work to create frustration, guilt, shame or exclusion – creating the emotional mood and subsequent motion to hinder the expectation’s achievement whether that be by a boundary, trust being crossed, demotivation or diverting away.

    Thinking back on your new year expectations, if you’re setting some, how will you create a connection around them that is free of judgement (of yourself, of and from others), that supports you in achieving them and that enables you to leverage the energy of connections.

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    Each new year starts with an expectation that in some ways it will be better, brighter and safer than the previous year, but what if 2021 turns out to be another “plot twist” filled year, like 2020?

    Joy can also be heightened or destroyed by expectations – of ourselves, our capacities, our motivation or our belonging. When circumstances change in the moment, we can fail to see the small joys or flex our plans to enable joys still to be found.

    Considering the growing concerns around COVID, its potential impacts on our day to day and our longer term expectations, I’m opting to plot out small joys in each day for myself and where I can to spread some joy to others, rather than focus and put my energy into plans for visiting farther afield friends and family, a holiday, a new course and so on. 

    How will you adapt your expectations to create and share joy as we step into January? 

    Woman journalling

    And that’s this month’s shares.

    I want to end with a personal share – a poem a friend sent me as part of their New Year message, which I enjoyed and thought you might too as we embark on 2021. For me, it speaks to the One of many women’s powertypes and principles, to my journalling practices and belief that replenishing first through joy, compassion and connection will see me through 2021, come what may.

    Desiderata

    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
    it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.

    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labours and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

    Max Ehrmann

  • December Shares

    Welcome to December’s musings, inspirations and ideas. I’m writing this with a Christmas Spotify list on, singing along (badly!) to old and new festive favourites.

    “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” according to one song and at the end of a year full of change, we’re heading towards a period that for many of us is full of traditions. A time when we usually come together and celebrate, reminiscing about the year and raise a glass to missing loved ones.

    2020 will be different, yet it is still a time of hope and joy.

    Let’s step into this month’s shares…….. 

    Hello December greeting

    INSIGHT

    Whilst Christmas and Hanukkah are probably the most well known of the December festivals today, but that hasn’t always been the case. 

    The Hopi Indians of Arizona celebrate Soyal with purification rituals and group dancing. Scandinavians celebrate the Day of St Lucia which starts the festivities of Yule (Jōl in old Norse) welcoming in the Sun’s return alongside Odin, the God of wisdom, healing, death, war, victory, magic and frenzy by burning the Yule log, mulled drinks and celebration.

    People of the Punjab and Haryana regions of India celebrate the Sun and Fire Gods. Families celebrate recent marriages and births with treats like popcorn, peanuts and gajak, a sweet made from dark sugars, sesame and assorted seeds, and throwing portions into a fire as a gift to the Gods.

    In Japan, people take a yuzu fruit infused bath, believed to ward off winter ailments with its warming effects, followed by a supper of warming foods with the letter “n” to bring good luck, such as ninjin (carrot), udon (noodles) and ginnan (ginko nut). Personally, I like the sound of this – a long soak and a big bowl of noodles. 

    Perhaps this year as we approach our festive season, one which will be different to any we’ve experienced before, it’s time to explore your rituals and traditions.

    Adapting to change at any time can be challenging and we’ve seen plenty of “unprecedented” changes this year. For this year, we are unlikely to have all that we’d normally fit into our Decembers. So, how do you adapt and flex to changes at home, at work, with friends to make the most of the season?

    First, it is 100% ok to be sad and disappointed about doing the right thing to keep COVID rates lowered and missing our usual traditions. 

    To find our bravery and adapt to new traditions, whether taking ideas from other countries or cultures or pivoting our old ones, I want you to try these questions. You might use them as journalling prompt, a focus for mediations or during a reflective soak, walk or workout.

    1. How is will this festive season align with the life you want to lead?
    2. Is there someone I am trying to please or afraid to upset/disappoint as I embrace a new way forward?
    3. What am I feeling about making a change?
    4. Am I guided by love and my values in the new ideas I have?
    5. How will I meet my own needs by embracing change?
    6. Will I experience more joy through accepting and embodying a new style winter celebration?

    COURAGE

    Dog running between Christmas trees in forest

    LIBERTY

    Many of the women (and men) I’m working with feel they have little or no choice in the month ahead. Whilst I can appreciate and to some extent share their point of view, I also want to challenge it.

    Yes, we will be limited due to COVID restrictions and we need to follow them carefully. I believe we have autonomy about how we choose to bring our best self to this month, how we feel and what we do (within the rules).

    Our brains are wired for threat and change is potentially one of those. However, our brains are calmed when we feel a level of autonomy.

    By actively stepping into choices we can make to try new festive winter celebrations, we can choose to see these positive opportunities to find more joys and bring others with us.

    (The other Liberty I’m missing this month is the shop – it has the best Christmas windows and bauble selection!)

    One of the things I’m very conscious of is leading others with that sense of curiosity, enthusiasm and ingenuity to bring joy into a different way of celebrating the successes of my team and my collaborators.

    There will be no cocktail nights, big turkey dinners or having us all in one room to share our appreciation and gratitude. Yet, informal time together to mark the end of a strange year of ups and downs with acts of joy, gratitude and sharing feels like an essential to build a sense of belonging and commitment within our teams.

    Acts of inclusion create intimacy, connection and sense of safety within a group. What ways can you bring together the traditions of your colleagues?

    Think co-cooking of a favourite Christmas treat. Learning a childhood song of the season together. Crafting a decoration over zoom. Sharing a family egg nog or mulled apple juice recipe. Or wearing your best festive outfit and meeting up for a socially distanced walk.

    What can you do to use traditions of old to build your team’s sense of being together and of mutual appreciation? Be courageous and bring joy.

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    Within my own family and friends, I share an annual tradition – I bake or cook something lovely to share – in person or by post. 

    And I want to share it with you. It is best made with love, with the easiest of set-ups and with plenty of festive tunes playing. Meet my Christmas Chutney and my Ginger Bundt cake recipes. They are a part of my family tradition and I hope they bring joy to yours – I’m confident you won’t regret making them.

    Christmas wrapping paper and decorations

    One more thing to mention is my December gift to you, an invite to my Haven Retreat, 5 daily free to join workshops and a longer masterclass. There will be more gifts during the retreat for your acts of participation, connection and joy.

    I really hope you’re joining me and women like you to collectively lift each other up to find more joy, gain deeper clarity and create a sense of peace when festive storms show up on the horizon.

    RSVP to my invite and save the dates – 1900 (UK time) Monday 7th to Friday 11th December.

    Have a fabulous month and see you online for our Haven Retreat together! 

  • November Shares

    Welcome to this month’s musings, inspirations and ideas and what a month ahead we have. The nights are drawing in, year end beckons at work and kids are counting down to Christmas…..it’s going to be a month to dig in, draw upon our strength together and seek out the pockets of joy.

    Joy through inspiration and connection, and by heeding our attention towards positive, nurturing people, situations and actions that make us feel safe and cared for.

    Whatever the month brings you, I hope my musings on attention help.

    INSIGHT

    “Where attention goes, energy flows”

    Have you heard this quote? It is often used to summarise the impact of our Reticular Activating System (RAS). This part of our brain filters the billions of inputs our senses take in. It looks for what’s not important so the important stuff gets through.

    With lockdown looming and lots of information coming at us from our governments, health bodies, employers, and more, we need to be conscious of what we’re asking out RAS to focus on and filter out.

    Where we put our attention sets our RAS into action looking for people, information, support, connections and whatever else it can find to confirm our thinking and assumptions – aka confirmation bias.

    My invite to you this month is to use your journalling, mediation or your runs and walks to consider:

    • where is my attention focused?
    • What meaning am I attaching to what my RAS is filtering in?
    • is that helping my mental health right now?
    • where am I willing to focus my attention next?

    Often, with my coaching clients, we use a tool called trigger tracking – a kinda diary to it helps identify what our RAS is filtering in and then explore what our attention is being drawn to. Several have used these (or similar) questions to help their partners, kids, friends and colleagues process where their attention is and help shift the feelings that aren’t enabling them.

    Pebble saying "stay safe + be kind"

    After this weekend’s celebration of vampires, ghosts and monsters, November may well require us to continue to face our fears in challenging times at home and at work.

    What does courage look like when we’re afraid?

    1. We act despite feeling afraid – our Queen Powertype reconfirms our vision for the people we serve in our Realms, taking advice and counsel from experts, and building confidence in our teams.
    2. We trust in our hearts – this relates to the Sorceress Powertype and our belief that we hold inner wisdom supported by Source’s powerful connection (God, Mother Nature, The Universe, whichever you call Source).
    3. We persevere in the face of adversity – our Warrioress boldly moves towards the accomplishment of our goals and causes.
    4. We care for ourselves – recognising that holding fear depletes our ability to give to others, we invest in replenishment through sleep, self-care, exercises, mediation, sex and nutrition. We meet our basic needs to allow us to support others with our Lover Powertype.
    5. We nurture others so they feel heard and safe – Mother provides unconditional care and nurture, easing the fears and anxieties of those at our Hearth to enable them to be courageous in difficult times.

    I doubt I’m alone in admitting being concerned, sad and at times, anxious about the spread of COVID, the impacts of another lockdown and whether I’ll get to be with my nearest and dearest for Christmas. Perhaps you feel a bit the same?

    I’ll be leaning into my Powerytypes and deliberately bringing my attention to each of them to ensure they support me each day, whether in leading my team, leading with my clients’ progress and in leading myself, my physical and mental wellbeing.

    (I even go so far as to colour code my diary with the Powertyype I need to bring to make it even more intentional and my actions more consistent.)

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    I’m making a bigger commitment to end 2020 by “going local” – November is the month that Black Friday occurs and our inboxes gets stuffed up with deals to entice us to buy. Usually, it is the “big” retailers with offers that probably aren’t even that good or genuine.

    But what about the little guys?  

    With one eye on Christmas and the other on COVID restrictions, I’m putting my attention into exploring interesting small businesses, artists and creatives based in the UK.

    My favourites include: 

    • Wear the Stars – I love a good hoodie and Nicola does the best style advice on her Instagram for those of us who could live in our hoodies.
    • Peace with the Wild – perfect for your eco-friendly gifting and also for your own bathroom and kitchen too.
    • Rosie Hay Ceramics – I’m drooling over her speckle collection for soothing cosy hot drinks over the winter months.
    • Face Theory – vegan, ecologically made and packaged goodies for your face and body. I swear by the under eye cream and Vitamin C facewash…….hmmmmm smells amazing.
    • The Bristol Artisan – I miss living in Bristol but love the home decor shop. I always think, when I grow up I want a house full of things from here.

    I’m also using the two local grocery and veg shops, rather than the busy supermarkets and making the most of my local bulk store for healthy dishes from the Green Roasting Tin book or Mildred’s Vegan book – both by British teams. I’m choosing brightly coloured, nutritious, plant based foods this month plus the odd treat.

    One of my life values is nourishment, stemming from what I consume, as food, as inspiration and as community. I’m using that value to bring attention to my choices this month.

    Where are you putting your attention this month for your shopping and eating choices?

    Stack of books

    With a month or more of lockdown ahead of many of in the UK and Europe, I wanted to share this poem with you.

    In the Company of Women by January Gill O’Neil

    Make me laugh over coffee,
    make it a double, make it frothy
    so it seethes in our delight.
    Make my cup overflow
    with your small happiness.
    I want to hoot and snort and cackle and chuckle.
    Let your laughter fill me like a bell.
    Let me listen to your ringing and singing
    as Billie Holiday croons above our heads.
    Sorry, the blues are nowhere to be found.
    Not tonight. Not here.
    No makeup. No tears.
    Only contours. Only curves.
    Each sip takes back a pound,
    each dry-roasted swirl takes our soul.
    Can I have a refill, just one more?
    Let the bitterness sink to the bottom of our lives.
    Let us take this joy to go.

    Who can you reach out to and share a coffee with this month? Someone who lifts your spirits? Someone, you’ve not spoken to recently like a former colleague? Or an elderly relative or neighbour who’d appreciate a catch-up? Who needs to be centre of your attention?

    We’re apart now so when we get together later, we’re all there.

    If you’d like a zoom brew, I’d love to connect and have a chat x

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    Imbuing something with love, affection and care can serve as a source for joy – especially when you gift it to another. This month, I’m bringing my attention to what I’m calling “doorstep acts of kindness” and I’d love to invite you to join me in delivering these small wonders to people you love, people who are ill or alone, people who you don’t even know – just pop a note on them with a wish for happiness, recovery, calm, whatever you feel appropriate.

    So what am I delivering? Small plants or flowers to fit a jam jar. Baked goods – who doesn’t like scones or brownies? Some extra video content for those looking for career changes, by choice or due to redundancies. Inbox delights such as a poem, photo of a memory or fabulous quote. Voice messages instead of text messages – including the odd burst into song (I sing soooo badly, I’m hoping it’s so bad, it’s good!)

    And lastly, I’m brewing up the best possible Haven Retreat and masterclasses to share with you all in early December. My post-it notes, of ideas, thoughts, content, exercises, are getting a bit crazy but I’m so excited and inspired by the ideas you shared in last week’s blog.

    I’m also filling my 2021 planner with dates for the next round of group coaching and, hopefully, face to face Haven Retreats back in our gorgeous Georgian Coach House.

    Please do keep sharing with me what you’d like me to cover in December’s Retreat or here in a blog – its all joy making for me as I playfully bring attention to this new way of working with you to say “YES” to joy.

    How can you bring your attention to joyful acts of kindness this month?

    And that’s my shares for this month. I hope they spark a thought or help create new personal insights, or inspire you to do something different in your leadership – whether that is for half term with your kids and family or at work with your team and clients or for yourself to meet your needs and thrive by saying “YES” to joy in your leadership.

    Have a safe but fun month!