Where the magic is found

Where the magic is found

I’ve been reflecting for some time now on how to explain specifically what I do, why I do it, and the impact for clients.

Returning to work last week with fresh eyes and an open mind has been a revelation. I’ve been doing a lot of deep personal development work on myself over the summer, culminating last week in a fantastic Coaching Programme with Sue Knight. Participants shared significant discoveries which also brought learning for others in the group, and there was laughter, some tears, and a willingness to be vulnerable and express ourselves freely in-the-moment.

I felt a deep shift in my awareness of what I’m capable of, developed my sense of identity as an experienced practitioner, and appreciated the significance of the generative work I’ve been doing for some time, through coaching, training, mindfulness, and writing. More and more over time, I’m working with experienced coaches, leaders, and therapists too, because they are ready for a deep shift. And perhaps the world being a different place with the pandemic has prompted some self-reflection for all of us.

These simple words came to me this morning, which I think sum it up…

~ I help people to understand themselves like never before ~

I listen and notice even the most subtle signals in what they say and do, and also build a broad understanding of patterns of thoughts, beliefs, and how they relate to themselves and others. And I do this in a compassionate way, without judgement, which can bring insights very quickly if the person is willing to open up to their full experience (and they almost always are).

What does this bring for clients? They feel empowered to be themselves, just as they are, and live a wholehearted life, whatever that uniquely means for each of them… feeling fulfilled and doing work which aligns with who they are and what they want to bring to the world.

Words I hear most often about clients’ experiences is that they feel “lighter”, “free”, “like me again”, “I can let go”, and most recently from a business client (with a chuckle) “What is this witchy magic you do?”. I love that!

And the magic is found in sitting with someone in their world, holding space for whatever wants to emerge, which I find can have a significant healing effect, and clears the way for them to find new energy and embark on new beginnings. I know this is true, because I continue to experience it for myself.

These words from my book ‘Roots for Growth’ are resonating today…

“All the personal growth, hurting and healing is in many ways a gift. If sharing what I’ve learned with others can reassure and inspire them even just a little bit, it’s worth it. And I feel it enables me as much as any qualifications I’ve achieved, to walk a challenging path with others through my coaching.”

Thank you Sue and Carolyn, for the opportunity to join the programme. And I’m excited about the next steps.

The photo was taken in Rothiemurchus Estate near Aviemore a few years ago – a family favourite for holidays, long walks, and making memories. It’s a place where I’ve often reflected on what’s important in life… and what’s next on the path.

Write your own story

Write your own story

When I saw this photo, I felt drawn to write something about it. It captures an experience that left my heart bursting with joy, and my face sore from smiling.

Last weekend, my husband’s band played live together for the first time in almost two years. It was a big event with bands, bikes, and a custom show in the North of England. We weren’t even sure it would go ahead because of COVID.

But it did go ahead, and what a weekend we had. The band brought in a horn section with a tenor sax, trombone, and trumpet player to add to their existing 6-piece. What an amazing sound, and it was an incredible, energetic atmosphere as they opened the first night. And, for one song, I was up there with them singing harmonies.

I almost chickened out. We’d talked about me doing it the night before and I hoped a couple of the other girls would get up and sing too. They decided not to, and a wee voice inside me said “it’s too scary, there will be hundreds of people in there”. And then I felt a strong sensation in my gut that said “but you know you want to!”.

I said I might have done it if we’d had the chance to practise, and left it there. Not for long though, as seconds later one of the guys started playing the opening chords of the song on his guitar. So, we were practising – there and then! I knew in that moment it was going to happen.

I realised I’d been letting stories run in my head. If I’d believed them, I would have missed out big time.

Next thing it’s the following night and I hear the opening chords again. I show my backstage pass, run to the steps of the stage, take a deep breath, and go for it. I am greeted by the guys in the band, supportive and encouraging, grinning with thumbs-up. I feel very aware of the bright, colourful spotlights and the crowd filling the huge marquee. Catching my eye in the front row are my sister and daughter and several of our friends, smiling and cheering me on.

It’s a great feeling to be joining in with these talented musicians, picking up on their happy vibe, loving playing together, and it gives me the courage to sing up and enjoy every second. I’m only singing a few lines after all, and I let self-consciousness slip away and give way to connection and flow. I notice everything with heightened senses, hearing each voice and instrument through the monitors, especially the horn section who sound fantastic, seeing the lit-up faces of hundreds of people who have probably not seen and heard live music for a couple of years. What a privilege to be part of it.

At the end, I feel a rush of joy and gratitude for having the opportunity to do this, and I’m greeted by big squeezy hugs and more encouragement from our pals at the bottom of the stage steps.

Life has taught me – and continues to teach me – to do the things I want to do, be in-the-moment, and make things happen, even when the little voices of doubt creep in. I think the trick is to listen, sit with it, and then decide for yourself. Instead of letting the stories run in my head, I wrote my own story that night.

And the spirit of adventure, joy, and laughter carried through the whole weekend. I felt a deep sense of connection and had such uplifting conversations with friends who keep showing up for us again and again. Love and support flowed for both me and my husband as we heard many offers to push his wheelchair, get anything he needed, and help with whatever would help him continue to go to events like this, even though he thought this might be his last.

I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last – that’s just a story that can be rewritten 😉.

If you are curious about the stories we tell ourselves and the impact this can have, you might like to read my book, ‘Roots for Growth’, where I explore the topic extensively.

Photo credit: Maisie Horn

Living by our learning – showing up and saying yes

Living by our learning – showing up and saying yes

This Sunday my husband Alan and I will have been married for 24 years. It feels special to be almost a quarter of a century, and even more significant that three days before our wedding, Alan was diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis).

We never questioned it for a moment that we’d still get married as planned, with no delays and certainly no cancellation. As I said to Alan’s Mum, if I had to wheel him down the aisle in a hospital bed, I would have done it. The neurologist told us not to go on honeymoon in case the heat went for Alan as he could wake up blind or unable to walk. The prognosis was unknown, including whether we’d ever have children or to what extent it could shorten his life.

In the days between the diagnosis and the wedding I cancelled the honeymoon (my choice, it felt like something I wanted to do to help me face it), my dress was taken in another few inches because of weight loss due to stress (a silver lining, sort of!), we spoke a lot with our families as we were very concerned for them too… and we all pulled together like nothing I had experienced in my life so far.

I’ve chosen to share these photos because you wouldn’t know that we’d received devastating news just 3 days before. And we weren’t hiding anything… you can see these are genuine smiles, being completely in-the-moment, and deciding we would have a bloody great time no matter what else was going on.

And by the way, we had two nights of parties – a family wedding on the Friday and a big party with friends on the Saturday with Alan’s rock band playing… so we went for it, twice!

What followed wasn’t easy. Alan never returned to work and we had a lot of adjustments to make in our lives. But we showed up and said ‘yes’, whatever was going to come along, and it has helped us to go with the flow of life. We are blessed with two amazing grown-up children and we’ve always been open and honest with them. We have a happy, fulfilling life with a strong sense of perspective and we trust that we’ll handle whatever comes along.

These experiences have influenced me to take the leap into self-employment and to write a book, neither of which I had even contemplated back in 1997. Over time, I have found that inspiration and opportunities spontaneously appear, by holding life a little more lightly.

As one of the beliefs of NLP goes, ‘We have within us all the resources we will ever need’. And I truly believe we all do.

What’s an example of a time when you showed up and said ‘yes’ to a challenge or an opportunity? Or an experience you can relate to ‘having all the resources you need’?

Have a great weekend,

Anna