Blackberry picking …. and life in general

This morning I had a magical bank holiday wander around our village Bramhope, in West Yorkshire. Armed with water, a rucksack and a container with a lid, I set out for walking and blackberry picking.

As I walked and wandered, I pondered. It’s a day for pondering and new beginnings; with my youngest son moving into his new flat in Birmingham and my eldest probably going to settle in New Zealand.

As I picked the blackberries I saw many parallels to blackberry picking and life in general…….because I love metaphors I thought I would stretch this one to the limit and share ten things about seizing opportunities:

  1. The best ones are usually surrounded with nettles, be careful, tread carefully
  2. Don’t pick where everyone else picks, find your own place
  3. The biggest ones are not always the sweetest
  4. Don’t stretch too far to reach them, because you might fall in the ditch
  5. Slow down and just look and wait and as if by magic they seem to appear from nowhere
  6. Stop when you have enough to make something you enjoy
  7. The crumble tastes better when you can share it with others
  8. When you look at what you have gathered, you might have a few scratches and stings, but it’s worth it
  9. The joy can be in the picking as well as eating the crumble
  10. Remember there is always enough for everyone out there, gather what you will use

When is good, good enough?

There are some lessons in life that I seem to learn and re-learn, no matter how many times I go through the cycle. I have always been a bit of a perfectionist and this has sometimes lead to stress, unnecessary work and frustration. I have rationalised that my striving to give 120% (when people don’t even notice if I drop to 80%) is unnecessary and I need to “give myself a break” but somehow this keeps popping up. It is no doubt in my DNA.

It has been such a lesson and is quite a funny story. My eldest son, Alex has been on the other side of the world for nearly two years and was coming home for Christmas, bringing along his girlfriend. To say I have been excited has been an understatement (btw if my younger son Joe is reading this – we were looking forward to seeing you too!) I had been cleaning and tidying his room in readiness, buying bits and bobs, making the bed cosy (the cold will be a shock!). Yesterday I walked in and thought “Ooh that lovely air freshener will smell nice in here” … a final finishing touch.

So I sprayed and stood back, anticipating how welcoming the room was looking. To my horror, what appeared on the wall was a huge splatter of oily residue from the air freshener. No matter how hard I washed and scrubbed it persisted. Not in a position where it could not be noticed or hidden by furniture, I was faced with having to paint the whole wall. Why oh why could I not have just left it be?

In my professional life, not recognising when good is good enough has also happened and I wonder who else can relate to it?

  • “Tweaking” and delaying a report until all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed – rather than getting something out that will promote discussion and others getting involved
  • Working on a design for much longer than anticipated, to get it “perfect” rather than relaxing before the delivery
  • Adding more and more thoughts to a blog, when really there was not that much to say (gilding the lily?)

So with that last thought I will leave it here and encourage you all to give yourself a break and recognise when good is good enough. It is not a perfect world and sometimes you just need to be a little less perfect!

I am enough

This blog is for anyone who has ever suffered from or is suffering from imposter syndrome, or thinks they are over it and yet at times something seeps through to imply otherwise.

I was prompted to draw this graphic after something I said last week and further inspired to write this blog after the person I said it to (Perry Timms) blogged an excellent blog entitled “Enough”.

We were in Warszawa (I have to write it this way, I am Polish after all and was accidentally born in the UK) and I was just about to open the Elearning Fusion Conference, when I explained to Perry the reason I had brought some postcards as give aways: I was not enough.

“Of course you are, you will be awesome” replied Perry (bless him!)

But would I be enough? Was I experienced enough? Was my message pertinent enough for the audience? Would there be enough interaction? Would there be enough content?

Let me tell you a little about myself and for those of you who know me, you will know that this is not me bragging (honest):

  • I have a degree in Chemical Engineering and Fuel Technology
  • I was trained to be a VM instructor in the late 80’s in IBM
  • I have 15 years experience in the soft skills learning arena (and a CIPD qualification)
  • 9 years a business owner
  • Published author
  • Regular blogger
  • Nearly 5000 followers on LinkedIn, 2500+ on Twitter and 2000+ subscribers to our monthly free resources

So the question I ask myself, is knowing all of this and that I was invited to open the conference with a 45 minute workshop in front of a large audience “Why am I not enough?” The simple answer is that “I am”, but let us unpack it further:

  • I am enough because of the life I have lived and the experiences I have had
  • I am enough because others see the gold in me that I see in others
  • I am enough because I am imperfect and willing to learn
  • I am enough because I am unique and my voice is not any other persons voice
  • I am enough not because I have earned it, but because I exist in the world
  • I am enough, just like each and every one of us is enough

And yet…… having worked though my imposter syndrome on many occasions, this creeps up. Does it keep me real? Stop me from getting too big for my boots? Serve any useful purpose? Maybe?

All I know, is what I say to many people who suffer from the same syndrome, from time to time: you are awesome…. talented…. unique…. amazing…. and have something unique to contribute, regardless of your situation. I truly believe this deep in my core and so if I can believe this for others, I have to believe this for me:


….. enough said!

For anyone wanting to know how the workshop went you can follow this link


As Good As It Gets …….

One of my favourite films is the 1998 film starring Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear.  It’s a charming story about a grumpy man who falls in love and reluctantly changes to endear himself to his new love. The title was what initially drew me to the film, it sounded somewhat pessimistic but I thought it might be a good comedy, with an angle (especially with Jack Nicholson headlining!) This, as you can see is also the title of this blog, so will it be pessimistic? I hope it’s going to be the opposite, let’s see…..

I started writing this on holiday. For the first time ever, I have taken a months holiday with hubby and we have been traveling New Zealand, somewhere I have always wanted to visit. Our eldest son Alex, is on a working visa for a year and we thought it too rude not to visit, so here we are. The trip has been planned for months and I have dreamt about seeing the sights and visiting this magical place.

It’s no mean feat to carve out a month when you run a growing consultancy. Team prepped to step in and up, ailing parents warned “no shenanigans” and youngest son, not accompanying us, as he is on a work placement, told to “take care” …. Nothing was going to spoil the holiday of a lifetime!

After a days travel we landed in Perth and spent 4 days with family, before being reunited with our eldest. It had been 9 months since we last saw him, so the reunion was emotional and welcome.

Just hours after our reunion, we rushed Alex via ambulance to the nearest emergency department, where they treated him for anaphylaxis. His 4th to date and a mystery as to the cause. The next week, we had two more visits to hospital as the symptoms ebbed and flowed. It left us all feeling quite anxious and stressed.

Reassuring words from a doctor in Auckland encouraged us not to change our travel plans and so the holiday took on an upward beat. Fabulous views and amazing experiences put us back on track for this perfect holiday.

Then a phone call from my dad, distressed that he was stuck in Rochdale town centre with no money, threw us off track again. The truth was he was in respite care, as an infection had caused his dementia to descend into a spiral of confusion. Phone calls to my mum and brother, broadened the picture and what had been happening. Life does not stop happening while you are on holiday! The shine started to rub off the holiday of a lifetime…..

So why am I sharing this with you? To say “Woe is me?” – not at all. What I learned from this is applicable to everyone who works and has a private life that sometimes overshadows what they do for a living.

We sometimes have a picture of the perfect weekend, holiday, life, relationship and when things don’t go according to plan it takes the wind out of our sails and somehow the experience is diminished. What I felt was disappointment, that I could not even have a month off without demands on my time or support. What I then decided was that if this is “as good as it gets” I would squeeze every drop of enjoyment from it, so that on my return I am as ready and rested to get back to real life. I would selfishly pursue each magical experience to recharge my batteries, for the battering life gives us all.

So it wasn’t perfect, life never is. There were many magical moments, lots of recharging…. Now I am ready to get back to life, because if this is as good as it gets, you need to find all that magic to keep you going!

Just in case you were starting to feeling the slightest bit sorry for me, let’s put an end to that and insert a couple of gratuitously gorgeous holiday snaps! #loveNZ




Reflecting on nothing

img_2393Written 8.12.16  It has been a long time since I really did nothing for a whole week. Even now as I write I wonder what I mean by “nothing”? What I mean is that endless, conveyor belt of what I love to do as work. Helping people to develop. They say that if you love what you do then you will never have to work a day in your life. Most of the time it does not seem like work:

  • Talking to people about making learning easier, stickier
  • Delivering workshops to help trainers and facilitaters perfect their craft
  • Helping organisations improve performance through their people

So what has a week disengaging been like for me? Mostly at first, it was hard, wondering if what I do will be forgotten. Is that vanity? Passion? Looking for meaning?

Then after a while, I realized listening to others, not talking much, is what I do anyway. Helping people come to come to their own conclusions about problems, is what boosts me. The divide between work and me is very blurred, because my work is people and I love people.

I also like being on my own and this morning as I drank in the view, I was in awe of creation. I felt part of the landscape, absorbed by the sand, sea and the air. Such a simple combination of all three, but so beautiful. The solitude has helped to recharge and refresh and made me determined to step out, step back and regroup regularly.


A simple life….

img_8262Written 3.12.16  Do we make our lives too complicated? I am writing this on holiday and as I write, I realise the irony of this: here I am in a beautiful place, “getting away from it all” and yet I am still blogging. Still connecting with the world, when what I have yearned for is disconnection, peace, less mind chatter, more clarity.

So I will make this brief, because actually it is very simple, in my mind anyway. We fill our lives with deadlines, pressures and jobs that 50 years ago were not even jobs(filling my social media feeds for example). We are distracted by what other people are up to and whether we have told enough people how much fun we are having, sometimes we miss out on a truly simple experience.

A dear old friend of mine has lived in the Bahamas for over 25 years I am lucky to be writing this on her kitchen table. Yesterday we met Charlie, who lives on a beach on Lynyard Cay. If you are curious where that is and how small it is, just google it, or enjoy the view from Little Harbour in the photo.

Charlie sleeps on the beach most of the time (weather permitting) and kindly took us to his beach where he cooked the most amazing stone crab claws for us. We ate, chatted, walked on the beach picking up pretty shells. Fabulously relaxing, this experience has been imprinted on my mind. Charlie trades fish, for other food, sleeps on a rudimentary bed, but is surrounded by beauty as well as the green turtles! I wonder how long I would last in Charlie’s simple world?


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