Becoming an adult!

2022 has already been happening for almost 3 weeks now. One big thing for me at the start of this year, has been to celebrate my daughter turning 18. Parent to ‘an adult’ seems like a massive leap for someone who still feels like they are winging the whole adult thing most of the time.

As you can imagine, I have been thinking a lot about growing up; about the things I know today that I wish I knew at the beginning of my adult journey. Working with young people and being the parent of teenagers, I am so aware of the pressure that they are put under, and for a lot of them the impact (and here social media plays a big role) this can have on their self-esteem, the way they perceive their abilities and the worth they put on themselves. I love to play a part (however big or small) in people developing to be the very best version of themselves. Helping to empower anyone to be a leader is to help them to; understand themselves, take personal responsibility, develop a more positive outlook on life, work on building confidence, recognizing strengths, finding the bravery to try stuff, and develop the habits that helps motivate you for success.

Whilst I was dealing with the idea of being the mum to an adult I came across something that has been whirring at the back of my mind, and it is still something I am chewing over. ‘Often who we are today stands in the way for the person we can be tomorrow.’

Who doesn’t have dreams they want to achieve, or goals they are working towards? New years resolutions anyone? When it comes to achieving goals it is often said that motivation is what get’s you started but it is the habits that keeps you going. We can all have good intentions for tomorrow and for the future, and it’s great to aim high! But the question we need to ask ourselves is; am I letting my feelings, my attitude and focus today hinder my progress towards the who I want to be?

So what would the me today want to tell the me at the beginning of my adult journey? I would say something along these lines: Unashamedly aim high at being the best version of yourself. Don’t limit yourself. Have fun! Listen well! Be honest -especially with yourself. Life won’t always be easy and sometimes things comes your way that you do not plan for: you can still live with purpose and authenticity, and please remember; it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help.

The power of the small wins

In my life I am often astonished how much impact it can have when I focus on the small steps and little wins. Working on the smallest of attitude changes, developing a new positive habit, really does make a massive impact on the way I feel about my day and also my sense of achievement. There is a Navy Seals officer, and we all know how though those guys or girls are, who gives a graduation speech where he tells the kids that the one advice he would give them is…… drum roll…… To make their beds in the morning. Make my bed? Why? Such a small thing? But imagine starting the day by having achieved one thing, and how that sets you up for the rest of the day! The little details matters!

David Brailsford

The Great British cycling team has been dominating medal tables in the last 4 Olympics. In this years Tokyo events they left with 12 cycling medals. If you follow the sport it is a bit hard to imagine, but there was a time when the team wasn’t so great or successful. In 2003 they brought in a guy called David Brailsford as the new performance director. At that time Tour de France had never been won by a British cyclist, and since 1908 the British team had only taken home one gold medal in the Olympics. So what did David do that changed the success of the team? He believed in a strategy he called ‘the aggregation of marginal gains’. The whole principle came from the idea that if you can break down everything into riding a bike, and then improve those by 1 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.

I find it fascinating to read about the changes he and the coaching team made: it covered everything from equipment tweaking to teaching the best handwashing technique so the riders wouldn’t catch common colds. They even tested out the best pillow for the different riders so they could take them on their travels (I think they now even bring their own mattresses too). Did the pillow help win Tour de France or make riders into Olympic champions, probably not, but a cyclist that has a great night sleep will perform a little bit better than one that hasn’t been sleeping as well.

So I now have a picture of a a pillow as the lock screen on my phone. It is a little reminder to myself; what is the one thing I can do today that might not seem like a huge thing, but it is moving me towards something that matters to me, giving me the courage to grow and helping me experience progress.

As my favourite big eyebrow philosopher once said: The journey with a thousand miles begins with one step.

The power and beauty of Determination!

I love the Paralympics and this years Tokyo games really was no exception. So much of what happens is simply awesome, inspiring and often blows me away. The determination to compete and to overcome challenges, the love for their sports and what it gives them as athletes and people really is something we can all learn from.

One story that really spoke to me was watching young Ellie Robinson attempt to defend her title from Rio in the 50m butterfly (S6). After coming fifth this year she gave an interview that was so beautiful and full of emotions. What struck me when watching this, is how we define OUR stories! Our measure of success and where we set our sights should be personal and not determined by anyone or anything else. Ellie’s fifth place really is a story of triumph and of determination, of deciding her own end to a chapter of her life. Nothing can hold you back if you have a strong enough desire, and in this instance the words ‘even if it meant crawling on my hands and knees to the starting block’ shows us just that. The refusal to quit and to face challenges with confidence is the a mark of a true Champion. So yes Ellie has all the rights to be proud of her achievement, and I for one am also proud of her!

Hope is a Journey

Since I last wrote on here I have been working on an exciting project that has taken up a lot of my time. I have been listening to audiobooks and podcasts, researching and reading articles. As I have been pondering I have also looked at my own life and lessons learnt in light of all these things. The concept I have wrestled with is hope.

For me hope was always something outside of myself that I could stretch towards and have faith in. Hope was an anticipation, an optimistic state of mind, a want, and a deep desire for something almost impossible to imagine. A clear, bright light at the end of a tunnel that calls you and draws you in. That was how I would have defined hope; Hope for something better, a solution or a favourable outcome.

When I remember back to my own situation of years with hospital appointments, trying new treatments, experimental drugs and therapies, meeting with doctors and specialists who were interested in my case, hope was something that again and again was being crushed. I do remember reading the proverb that says ‘hope deferred makes the heart sick’, and I thought it was best to stop hoping all together because it just became another battle to fight. Rather than the light becoming brighter and the end of the tunnel seeming closer, I felt that the light was disappearing all together. I started to always prepare myself for the situation not changing, and the little ray of ‘maybe’ was pushed to the back to not cause any more disappointments. I called it staying realistic, and I found that was a lot easier to live with then clinging to fragile hope that never materialised.

However, the more I have been pondering and trying to understand how to balance hope and realism, I have understood one really important thing. Realistic thinking is where real hope is found! When we face the facts of our situations, whatever that may be, and we spend energy on the things we can control (accepting the things we can’t change), that’s when we can find the balance between realism and aspiration. Once we open ourselves up for realistic optimism that’s when we can start to pursue small victories and one percent growths: those little changes that can make a big difference to our motivation and can drive us forward (even a small step forward is still moving)! Suddenly hope becomes a journey to take alongside and through all the anguish, pain and longing! And a journey is much more manageable then believing in magic!

I will write more on this in another post as well as explore how we can practically use realistic optimism to move forward.

Positive thinking and the best named philosopher!

I like a good quote to help motivate and inspire. If you are a little bit like me it would be very impressive if you have never come across the best named philosopher of them all: Confucius! He doesn’t just have the best name (if the pictures online is anything to go by) -the eyebrows really are something to behold, and that comes from me who is married to a man who by some is known as Eyebrows Howes.

Confucius is by many considered one of the most important and influential individual in human history. He believed in equality and education for all. Famously saying: If your plan is for 1 year -plant rice. If your plan is for 10 years, plant trees. If your plan is for 100 years, educate children.

At the moment I am working with a great group of young girls, going through the program ‘Making of a Champion’, and we are on the lesson about potential. Really powerful and challenging stuff! The one quote by Confucius that I have written down and is pondering this week alongside this material, is:

‘The man who says he can, and the man who says he can’t are both correct.’

How much do we hold ourselves back because of our thoughts and the things we tell ourselves? How much do we allow our thinking to limit us, and in some cases even cripple us? How can we use our words to help encourage us towards our dreams?

Experts keep finding evidence that our thoughts, positive or negative, don’t just have psychological effects, they can also have physical effects on our body. Surely that means that one of the best habits to develop is a positive thinking habit? Believing in yourself and what you can do, expecting to give your best, and being kind to yourself, is crucial to your success. Simply by working to eliminate self destructive thoughts and the negative comparison to others, we can break the thought habits that says we cannot.

Who doesn’t want to develop the power to reach your goals? As with every great habit it doesn’t just magically happen, it takes time. Use positive words and gratitude. Read inspirational stories. Believe in yourself, no one will exceed self imposed limitations. Use positive affirmations and visualisation. You will reach your goals when you believe you can (and then you make a great plan to put all your belief into action).

As the best named philosopher once said: The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

Dare to dream

If you are lucky enough to be part of or have taken part in an LMI programme, workshop or event, you will know how much we encourage everyone to allow themselves to dream, and to have somewhere you keep a record of these dreams. A dreams list is where you can be free to think of anything you would like to do without putting any limitations on yourself. Too many of us grow out of the childlike enthusiasm of ‘I can do anything’ simply by starting to be so sensible about it all. We tell ourselves; I am not smart enough for that, or talented enough, I won’t be able to earn enough money to do that, I simply can’t see how I can make time for that, or my health won’t allow for it. Dreaming without holding ourselves back means we let ourselves think about things we would really like to do, places we would like to go and experiences we would love to have, as well as possessions we would like to own and character traits we would like to develop. Dreams stretches our imagination, bursts limitations and can really inspire us.

Taking in the stunning mountain view I LOVE and had missed so much.

For years when I was immobile, I would sit inside our family cabin in Norway (reading by the open fire so it wasn’t all terrible) when everyone else went out for hikes or for a day skiing, and I would dream of one day being able to stand on the top of a mountain again. As many of you know when I had my amputation suddenly this dream, once so far fetched and mere wishful thinking, became a possibility. From the first days of rehab, I started to believe I could do it, and set myself goals to challenge and help myself progress towards a dream coming true. On my 40th birthday me and my awesome family climbed mount Snowdon in Wales. The people who had supported me through the worst was also there with me as I ticked off that specific dream from my list.

Sometimes our dreams can feel impossible and unachievable, but unless you have let your imagination explore the possibilities, how do you know what is actually possible. Dreams breaks down barriers, feeds our desire, stirs our passion and can really motivate us if we let them. Dreams are great, but it’s the goals that can change your life. Goalsetting gives your dream a focus and produces results. Goals takes your dream from the imaginary and something you are thinking about sometimes, and bases it in reality. If you want a dream to happen, start writing goals that helps you move in the right direction. But first you need a dream!

Hadrian’s wall

The dream next on my list that I am taking steps towards accomplishing is walking Hadrian’s wall. June 2021 -watch this space!

As the great Muhammed Ali said: Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they have been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact -it is an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration -it’s a dare! Impossible is potential, impossible is temporary, impossible is nothing!

Let’s explore possibilities and let’s dare to dream!

My most British trait

After living in Britain for quite a few years it is surely normal that I have adapted to a few of the local customs. I haven’t quite go to the point where I make a cup of tea as the answer to anything, probably because I am a coffee drinker. I do not have a biscuit tin. I haven’t fallen in love with EastEnders or Coronation Street, and I don’t feel comforted by the sound of their theme tunes. When I go abroad I don’t go looking for a place that will serve me a full English breakfast, and I haven’t even got into the Sunday tradition of making a roast. On the first day of sunshine I do not put my summer clothes on, and the bright red lobster look so many have after the first warm day, is not one I have adapted.

I am getting better at being upset by the ultimate crime which obviously is queue jumping. Probably my most British trait of them all though is the ability to talk at length about the weather.

This Easter weekend the reason was just highlighted so magnificently. Easter Sunday we spent all day outside in the warm beautiful spring sunshine. Easter egg hunt in the garden, cooking and eating our traditional lamb dinner outside. It was SO lush! Next day though, we had snow and it was dark, windy and cold, the absolute opposite. It was bonkers! Imagine living somewhere where the seasons happens in a normal textbook kind of way, rather then somewhere where you can have all seasons in one day. But then also imagine how limited conversations would become in this country if we didn’t have the weather to talk about.

Anyways, that is my ponderings as I am sitting here freezing my fingers and the few toes I have off, because we Brits do not have the heating on in April as it is practically summer. Off to put the kettle on and get my kids to line up just because I feel the need to join a nice orderly queue.

Mental Health First Aid

I am currently doing a Mental Health First Aid course (highly recommend it). One more session to go before I complete the training knowing that I am better equipped to spot some things and know the right way to approach and assist someone. On the other hand it makes me very aware that I know only a little bit of what people can be going through.

Something that happens a bit more then it should in our house is the smoke alarm going off, mainly because we had to remove all internal doors downstairs so I can have room to manoeuvre a wheelchair around should I need it. When it does start beeping loudly the first thing you do is get to the reason the alarm has gone off. Did the extractor fan not get put on? Did someone burn their egg when frying it, or forget something cooking in the oven? Or is it our family favourite -fried sea bass on the menu? The crispy skin that everyone loves really is a smoke detectors favourite reason to scream. There is no use in just standing under the alarm fanning franticly with a towel to get the dreadful piercing alarm to stop if the pizza is still burning in the oven, or the fish is still being fried. Any alarm going off is because there is something happening that is setting it off. Knowing yourself and be interested in others so you can spot when normal changes, and then be present and available to walk along someone whilst they find their burning pizza. I do see the flaw in this analogy because when you are being patient, listening and communicating non-judgementally which means not giving someone your side or your solutions, you probably in the real world of fire alarms going off would like to point out the burning pizza before the house catches fires.

My point I guess is, and my experience has showed me, that too often we are satisfied with helping someone get rid of the piercing alarm and talk about the very obvious things -kind of like pushing the button on your smoke detector that pauses it for 10 minutes. We hope by then whatever set it off will have sorted itself out. What we are forgetting sometimes is that it is often the unspoken small things that we need help to understand and work through. The power that there is in being listened to and talking things through, is incredible.

There are some great TV programs I have watched recently that I would highly recommend. One where Freddie Flintoff uses his platform to journey through with us and highlight issues surrounding Eating Disorder, and another one where Roman Kemp opens up about depression and highlights issues around Suicide, and the importance of talking.

These things together with the Mental Health First Aid training really has emphasised again the importance of listening in our communication. Winston Churchill said it well when he pointed out that it takes courage to stand up and speak, before he said ‘courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’

Stockdale paradox

I do love a good story, and I have a real soft spot for books and films that are based on a true stories. In my last post I wrote about resilience and told you that I have been asked to write a session on the topic. I do not like it when I don’t feel like I know my stuff and I might even sometimes be guilty of overpreparing, if there is such a thing. Because I do also enjoy learning, and so I have continued my research into all things resilience. Through recommendation I have been reading about a high ranking US military officer called James Stockdale, and something called the Stockdale paradox (talked about in Jim Collins Book From Good To Great).

For 8 years during the Vietnam war, Admiral James Stockdale was imprisoned and tortured. You can find a few books out there where he tells his story, books like In Love and War, Courage under fire and Thoughts of a philosophical fighter pilot. Better to hear his story first hand then to have it be retold by me.

But there is one thing I would like to share with you.

Talking about his experience and fellow prisoners, Admiral James was asked ‘who didn’t make it out’? His answer to this came quickly, ‘That’s easy -the optimist! They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

He goes on to say ‘You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.’

This is known as the Stockdale paradox. And I for one have been thinking about this a lot, so I thought I would share it with you!


I have been pondering all things resilience for the last week and a bit. You see I was asked to write a session on this subject for a wellbeing course a very talented friend of mine is putting together. The more I have been thinking about this and the more I have been reading others thoughts that are out there, punchy quotes that is related to it, as well as looking at it from my own experience, the more I am thinking that resilience is so much more then the ability to ‘bounce back’ and getting up when you fall. Because what if our normal is about to change, or life as we know it is about to shift to something else completely. I do like phrases such as ‘It’s not how many times you get knocked down that counts, it’s how many times you get back up‘, but I do think it lacks something. I am not sure how to rewrite it to including something along the lines of getting up to sitting is also getting up, it just maybe isn’t as punchy!

When life hits us hard, and we sometimes feel like we’re drowning, managing to just get our head above the waters so we can breathe is showing great strength, even if we are still in the same rough waters for now.

Being a research subject on pain and how the brain works

It has hit me that resilience starts way before any challenges comes our way. The ability to withstand, to find joy in other things and shift focus to the things we can achieve and do is something we should proactively work on not just once the storm is here, but also before it comes. Resilience starts with compassion for ourselves, and having a balanced life. When my health deteriorated, and I suddenly couldn’t do, and failed to find the energy for, all the socialising and active stuff I loved, those things still kept me going, even if ‘the how’ had to dramatically change because of circumstances. In the darkest hours and through the hardest challenges, my resilience and keeping my head above the waters was sometimes as little as a phone call with someone, other times it was actual time spent with a friend, but most of the time it was resting enough so that when the kids where around I had enough energy to read for them or snuggle up to watch a film with them. Finding the little things we can still do to keep us going as we navigate the rough terrain that’s were resilience lies. Did I want to be more involved -yes! Did I want to be the one to teach them to ride their bikes -yes! Did I want to sit inside next to the fire reading when everyone else went out on their skis -no! But if I couldn’t give 10 out of 10, what did 5 out of 10 look like, or even a 1 out of 10 is better then giving up completely.

The new way to enjoy cricket on a mobility scooter

So if you do get knocked down compassion towards yourselves says, even if I can only lift my head off the floor for a short moment that is a victory, let’s take it from there. I never bounced back to what my life was before, I learnt that somethings are lost forever. I also learnt to appreciate the simple things in life, and cherish the things you can do. And importantly I learnt to embrace the ‘new normal’ not as second best because resilience is about finding your way.

Learning to walk again.

One last thing:

A big part of preparing for the unexpected is to make sure you have great people around you who can support you when you feel you have nothing to give anymore. I am so grateful for my family and my friends!