Why I am taking a break…..

•July 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Over the past year, I’ve been enthused by the people I have worked with, often impressed by their (and my own) interest in personal development. Unfortunately, it’s proving harder to translate this into a sustainable business model…and I’m not talking mega bucks here, but it would be nice to think that I might cover my course fees and be able to afford a decent cup of coffee from time-to-time.

I don’t believe in extravagant claims….ones you can’t possibly live up to and it seems to me that much of the life coaching industry and certainly some of the training organisations foster unrealistic expectations. Also, as I am developing my interest in counselling, it does sometimes seem to me to be counterintuitive to force the client into a programme of goal-setting when that’s not what they want (if, as I do, you believe, that, at some level, the client truly does know best).

Added to this, the increasing amount of time I am spending on my property business and looking after a LO with CF, and I am feeling a bit frazzled around the edges so, having got my diploma, I have decided not to practise for a while…and to see how things develop.

As time permits, I hope to write on coaching (as an informed but positive skeptic), how people can help themselves and I would like to address some of the technical and legal issues that the trainers either don’t tell you about or just skip over. Watch this space. In the meantime, I’m off to France to eat cake and test my son’s franglais…

My latest writing is at www.crewcutandnewt.com.  After a rather inspiring trip to Lower Shaw Farm (Swindon) I’ve picked up my pen again….two articles “sold” to a Canadian on-line magazine….enough for a couple of cups of coffee when the payment comes through…..


Coffee can save your life

•May 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment
with a little bit of the sweet stuff on the side

It may not be coffee. It could be tea (herbal or builder’s). Or it could be a cool glass of mineral water (for the purists), even a pint of Adnams. But it’s a life-saver.

In the quarter an hour or so it takes to rehydrate your body (skating quickly over the fact that coffee is a diuretic), you can take a break and recharge your mental batteries too.

It’s late, so please excuse the mixed metaphors. But the good old British tea break had its advantages. Take 15 minutes or so away from the phone, the email (a plastic cup of something luke warm from a vending machine doesn’t count) and create yourself a little island of sanity.

And remember, when the going gets tough, the tough get chocolate.

So many “me”s

•May 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A conundrum, or not. My friend, J, hit the proverbial nail right on the head when we were discussing the life-work, children-work, issue. We were walking up the hill, enjoying the balmy sunshine (without thinking too hard about global warming) and drinking in the smell of rampant cow-parsley.

cow parsley

J was bemoaning the loss of identity that comes when you give up work. And the loss of sanity when you go back to work and everything at home goes to put. Actually I’ve managed to achieve this imbalance without going back to “work-work,” but that’s another story (see www.urbanmash.wordpress.com  for the grisly details).

But you get the point. J has a cousin-in-law who is very driven. High-achiever, non-doubter. And she must be an Alpha-Alpha as J is pretty driven herself….although she has a dilemma, the finite nature of our daily existence.

Forget Alan Sugar and the Apprentice. You can’t give 110%. It’s a nonsense. If you give up sleep and multi–task whilst brushing your teeth, you might make 100%, but that’s it. That’s as committed as you can get (perhaps somebody should tell Sir Alan’s accountant). In reality, an extra hour in the office, or practising your violin playing or whatever, means an hour lost somewhere else.

So the totally driven, perfectionist project manager/area sales manager/concert violinist gives way to the balancing act of being a “good-enough” mother and a muddling-through part-time worker.

And sometimes it just feels like you’re not doing anything really well (which can be pretty depressing if, like J, you are used to being really good at something). You feel like you’re spread too thinly.

pann mill (high wycombe - sorry no footpath pictures)

Sometimes the answer is in “better” time management.  Sadly, this may mean jettisoning the spread-sheets and clever techniques and getting back to the 100% principle. If you’re fully committed already, any number of pie-charts and lists aren’t  going to help, you’re going to have to give something up….be ruthless….get pruning….

On the other hand, perhaps you need to appreciate the multifaceted persons you have become. Enjoy what you do, even though it’s not perfection…good enough really is, well, good enough.

Carl Rogers believed that we are programmed for growth, our selves are continually actualizing (striving for growth). Stuff (environmental factors) may get in the way, but somehow, whatever the conditions, you can’t entirely stop this stretching out for growth (however distorted it may become).

An interesting corollary theory to this is that to realize one self, we sacrifice other selves.

The realisation of the concert violinist means that the super-ace hockey player may never materialise. Or perhaps we’ll never have kids (or, if we do, we won’t get to bake as many brownies for the school cake bake as we’d like).

We may have limitless potential, but there’s only so many hours, days and years in which to realize it. May be we should learn to love who we are, all of what we are, whoever we are or want to be and in doing so stop grieving for the people we will never be.

One star fish

•March 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Over the past few days, the one starfish story has been playing on my mind. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, here it is.

The One Starfish Story
While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.
He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realise that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”



For me, it’s the answer to the imponderable, why bother? An anti-dote to cynicism.

However hopless and insignificant our contributions may seem, we should never give up (though we may want to take a bit of time out to recharge or to just smell the roses). At the individual level, we can all make a difference.

I believe the Starfish story is Buddhist in origin. Yet it reminds me also of the story where Jesus rebuked the disciple who complained that the rich oils used to anoint Jesus’ feet could have been better spent elsewhere. The poor of the world will always be with you.

It’s not callousness or flippancy. Just a (deep) recognition that at some level the most significant changes start (and often end) with the individual.


Qualified – at last!

•March 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This morning, I finally made  it out to High Wycombe sorting office to pick up my “signed for” package. Amazingly not the Ruoff & Roper proofs I was expecting, but my Life Coaching Diploma.

So I am now Sarah Hill Wheeler MA (Cantab) LLM (dist.) LCH dip. And  I can call myself a qualified Life Coach Practitioner. Wow!

Weight-loss motivational tip II

•February 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Keep a calorie bank for treats. This is what I do. Workout burns 200 calories. Costa coffee muesli bar equals 400 calories. Two workouts therefore equals one muesli bar (substitute the chocolate tiffin if you must – just work out how much you need to exercise to “buy” it). The tip here is ALWAYS to do the exercise before rewarding yourself with the treat. Weight loss does not work in the credit economy.

In which I submit my diploma dissertation…..

•February 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A long-continuing saga, I submitted my dissertation and course work to Curly Martin on 2nd February. No reply. A week later I telephoned to follow-up (after another e-mail as my return receipts were not coming back) and no they haven’t received it. Spam-filters apparently (hint here; check your spam filters, it’s really very easy). Two more e-mails and a copy recorded delivery and hey-presto an acknowledgment (no apology) that I should hear in four weeks’ time…if not to contact them.

Unable to stand the suspense of knowing if my e-mail has got through or is lost somewhere in the Spam limbo, I have sent the final part of the course submission recorded delivery too. So now I will be sitting here, chewing my finger-nails and wondering why mails headed “course enquiry” etc get through the spam filter so easily……

Whoops…..I have fallen victim to negative thought patterns. Must try harder.