Who do you think you are…?

I love a good café; ideally independent, and particularly with a creative, non-conformist feel, with friendly service, integrity and very importantly, serving great coffee! This morning I was in my current favourite café preparing to catch up on a bit of work having just seen a client, and I watched another customer selecting her place to sit. She reminded me of Goldilocks, first trying out the large sofa, then spotting another table with a choice of different types of chairs. Gathering up her belongings, she crossed the café and sat down in the first of the comfy chairs, leant back for a second, frowned, then moved to the slightly larger wing-backed armchair, where with a sigh of contentment she opened her book and started reading.

We are all different, and in the same way that I select my favourite cafés and Goldilocks chooses her place to sit and read, we choose a place where we feel most comfortable, have a sense of belonging, and which suits our way of being, where we can be ourselves.

Sometimes, however, ‘being ourselves’ can in itself become a challenge, as Life makes demands on us and we settle into roles which suit our circumstances, environment, expectations, preconceptions, and the people around us. As we successfully play out the roles of child, sibling, parent, friend, worker, provider, housekeeper, entertainer, listener, bill payer, comforter, advisor, cook, etc, the sense of self, of ‘I’ gets blurred, and often lost in the mist. In my new client sessions, I frequently hear phrases like “I don’t know who I am any more”, “I just want to be myself”, “I’ve lost myself”, and “Who am I…?”

In order to start this process of exploration and discovery, I take my clients on a journey to the centre of their being to excavate that which makes them unique, strong and confident. This source will lead them to reclaim their identity, and sometimes to claim it for the very first time. This source is their Values, the principles by which they live their lives when they are at their most contented, the internal compass which gives them direction, the foundation of their true authenticity. This clarity can be a huge revelation for some, a ‘coming home’ to others, and an increase in confidence for all. Once you have shone the light on this buried treasure, you can begin the journey of really Being You.

If you would like to discover your buried treasure, bringing clarity, confidence and direction, give me a call or drop me a line. There’s no time like the present!

 

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The Power of Love, Community and Joy

Spring Joy

In the last few days I’ve had three immense experiences of Joy. It’s at those times that everything seems clear, that Life reveals its true meaning – when deep in your solar plexus everything feels incredible, that you’re in the right place, and the glow that you feel inside seems to radiate over your surroundings. The first of these for me last week was visiting the Inspired Entrepreneur Community for a celebration event. I’ve been attending Nick Williams’ events for over 10 years now, put together by Nick and his business partner, Niki Hignett. In all that time, I have come away every time with a sense of belonging, of having spent some time with my ‘Tribe’, and always inspired. On this particular occasion, I not only enjoyed reconnecting with Nick and Niki, but bumping into 2 people I knew who had never attended one of these events before, as well as meeting up with other members of the Community who I hadn’t seen for a while. I found myself smiling throughout the evening, during all the presentations, not out of politeness, but a smile which started in my gut, rose up through my heart, and burst out onto my face! That might sound a bit weird, but that’s truly what it felt like. In fact, I’ll be honest with you, when the Labi Siffre song ‘Something Inside So Strong’ started playing in the break, I felt like crying! Joyful tears, of course. Being in this type of Community and feeling that I was in a place which taps into all the Values I hold dear, is a source of Joy for me.

Come the weekend, I walked into town, where the monthly Local Produce Market was on, at that time, to the soundtracks of a local band I know who were promoting a forthcoming music festival. A mixed group of my friends were listening to the music, and I was greeting warmly. Once again I felt that sense of Belonging and Joy which comes from being part of a Community. As I walked back up the high street, I bumped into an old friend of my mum’s, who I had wanted to see, and took her number so that I could arrange to meet with her to hear some stories of times she had spent with my mum.

Then on Sunday, I shared a Sunday feast with some of my family, full of catching up and laughter, from my (second) mum’s very impressive peacock impression to other hilarious and unrepeatable conversations! More Love, more Joy, in the Community of family. Happy days :) What gives you Joy…? What causes that bubble of happy energy to rise up and spread itself across your face? Know it, seek it out, bring more of it into your life!

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How to stay strong when the walls come crashing down

I’m in a change period of my life, and not for the first time. At Christmas, the walls came crashing down and I found myself exposed to the elements. What I once thought was true, wasn’t; people I had previously believed in turned suddenly into strangers I didn’t recognise; my life as it had been up until that point became an alien landscape; everything was out of my control. Or so I thought.

We’ve all been there, whether because of illness, grief, redundancy, relationship break-up, trauma. That’s Life, as they say. Always delivering the unexpected; and you’d better be ready for it! But how? How do you prepare for disaster, chaos and confusion when you’re happily ambling along in your daily life?

I have two pieces of advice: surround yourself with the love of family, friends and unexpected champions (the friends you didn’t know you had) and, most importantly, KNOW WHAT YOUR VALUES ARE. Because sometimes, all the friends, family and champions aren’t immediately available.

Your VALUES are what make you the unique individual you are, your foundation. They are what you stand on against the elements, what enable you to hold your head up high, make confident decisions, be authentic in every situation, no matter how hard, and maintain your integrity. Your VALUES are your own personal compass and map in the unique story of your life. Without the certainty of these Values, I would have floundered in the early weeks and months of this year. Knowing WHO I am, and knowing that no-one could take that away from me, enabled me to stand strong, retain my dignity, and face the uncertain future.

So, how do you know what your Values are? Well, if you’re free tomorrow evening from 7.00-9.00pm,  call The Bagnall Centre in Chesham on 01494 791288 and book a place on my ‘Who Do You Think You Are? seminar and I’ll get you started on claiming your true identity, raising your confidence and discovering that all the guidance and wisdom you need is right there inside you.

The cost of this seminar is £20.00. A valuable investment in yourself. And if at the end of the seminar you don’t think it was worth it, I’ll give you your money back.

“If you have ever found yourself thinking “I’m sure I used to be happier than this!” or “Something’s not quite right but I can’t put my finger on it.”, then I can heartily recommend Amy’s Being Human Seminars!  Amy has a gentle wisdom and strength borne of real-life experience which comes through in the seminars which are challenging and thought-provoking but also supportive and nurturing.  If you want to take the first steps on the path to a greater understanding of yourself (the first steps back to happiness), start here!” Lawrence

 

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From Stillness to Wellness

A few years ago, when I was horribly ill in hospital with ulcerative colitis, things were starting to get pretty scary. I’d spent the long bank holiday weekend going downhill, with a skeleton staff of doctors, and when the consultants returned on Tuesday, just the look on their faces let me know that things were getting serious. I had a long wait for a CT scan, and was being told a variety of possible eventualities, none of which were very reassuring. So, I asked one of my physicians for one positive thing to focus on. He told me, that usually they treat people with my condition with steroids, which solves the problem, bu….. I stopped him before he said any more. For the next 2-3 hours, I focused solely on this one positive comment, eventually just on the feeling of positivity, and felt myself slip into a state of complete calm. It felt like I was hovering between time, where no anxiety about what has passed, and what might come to pass, exists. The present moment. It was a kind of instinctive meditation, an instinct for survival, without which I don’t know how I would have coped emotionally with my situation, on top of physically dealing with how very ill I was. By the time I was taken down for my emergency operation, following the results of my scan, I felt no fear at all, and totally safe. I wish I could have passed this on to my Dad, who was there with me, and who I know was terrified. He was right to be. As it turned out, the operation saved my life.

This was my first experience of the power of meditation. The second was about 7 months later, when I was approaching the date for another operation, this time to reconstruct my insides after the total removal of my collapsed colon during the earlier emergency op. A coaching colleague sent me a recording of a meditation for people about to have a medical intervention. I decided to listen to it a few times, and to take it into hospital with me, but as it turned out, I only managed to listen to it once. As with a lot of guided meditations, I was talked down a series of steps, going deeper and deeper. The one thing I remembered was something about holding onto my life blood. As I was being guided back up the steps, I felt my head raising up, which surprised me, I hadn’t realised that it had dropped forwards, and that I had gone so deeply into the trance. A few days later, as I was being checked by my surgeon after my operation, he said that it had taken a few hours; then he paused, and said that there hadn’t been much blood, I hadn’t bled much. It was only then that I remembered the words of the guided meditation and I’ve never since doubted the magical power of our minds and our bodies.

Not feeling well? This is a message from your body. Rest. Be still. Let your body do some healing for you.

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The real crime is not giving Hope and Encouragement

There is inevitably an unending array of opinion over the recent riots, why they happened, who’s to blame, who should be punished and how. There is no excuse for the violence, damage, destruction of people’s lives, injuries and deaths. Excuses imply that it’s ok. It’s not. But there has to be root cause; reasons. I’m going to focus on two: 1. Our almost obscene consumer society; 2. The absence of encouragement and hope.

I was in Guildford last week, a few days after the first riots in London. I liked it. Guildford is a pretty town, and I spent a pleasant lunchtime in the castle gardens. On the other hand, it is a town of shopping streets. Not just one high street of shops, but two, parallel to each other, linked by short cut-throughs lined with smaller shops. As I walked through a department store from one street to the next, I was struck by the amount of ‘stuff’ available to buy. Shelf after shelf, rack after rack of ‘stuff’; from clothes through to homeware, and everything in between, the vast majority completely unnecessary, but nice to have, if you’ve got the space for it, and can afford it. I live in a much smaller town, and found myself feeling relieved that we don’t have half as many shops, constantly encouraging you to buy more, more, more, whether or not you need it, can afford it, or have space for it. I remembered hearing something about the riot ‘invitations’, “come and get some free stuff”, and how some of the rioters claimed they were “robbing the rich to feed the poor” in true Robin Hood style (although Robin Hood gave it away rather than keeping it for himself).

The paradox is, that a number of these kids will have a lot of ‘stuff’ that I wouldn’t spend my money on: wide screen tv’s, designer trainers and t-shirts, the latest mobile phone, whilst at the same time, I can see that all these other consumer items might feel ‘in their face’ all the time, flaunting a lifestyle they can’t afford.

On the other hand, they have way more than society had not more than 40 or 50 years ago. I was talking to someone this morning, in his late 50’s, who remembers being chuffed with the gift of an orange at Christmas; and my friend’s mother walked the 6 miles to school barefoot so not to ruin her only pair of shoes.

But it seems that the one thing that both these people had which many of these kids don’t, is someone giving them HOPE and ENCOURAGEMENT, to work hard at school, to learn to read and write well, understand maths, that their creative talent is worth nurturing; that if they put their mind to it, they can be anything they want to be, that they’re special, unique, amazing individuals. A social worker friend of mine had to assess some of these kids post the riots, and the overall view, and the excuse they gave, was that there’s no hope of them having a good life, backed up by the parent with them, who confirmed, “Yeh, I told them that.” There’s the root of the crime.

So, what’s the solution? What if everyone was taught at school the importance of encouraging every child in their life, whether they become a parent or not, but especially if they’re a parent. It would be a crime not to. And what if every child who currently believes they have no Hope, is given a mentor, someone who will give them the emotional support and encouragement they need which isn’t available at home, to help them build their dreams, and make them come true. Maybe it sounds idealistic, but the free world was built on ideals and Hope, not the absence of it.

Where do I sign?

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Be optimistic about the future

However hard you try, it’s nigh on impossible to avoid the daily bleak forecasts about our economic future, unless you switch off all radio and tv news forecasts, never buy a newspaper and avert your eyes in the shops, and walk away from any conversation relating to it. Mind you, when 9/11 shocked the world, an ex of mine managed to remain ignorant of events for 48 hours because he refused to follow current affairs. Despite the fact that it all happened on his birthday. Enough said.

This morning, I was listening to Radio 4, where someone briefly mentioned something about the impact of the constant talk of recession actually prolonging it. There then followed a particularly gloomy interview with an economics expert who asserted that the future was definitely not orange, but very dark. Bleak. Depressing. Desperate. Doomed, in fact. Unless you’re an economics expert who has skilfully spread their wealth around safe business investments, gold, and Norwegian currency, that is.

Unfortunately, there was no offer of advice for those of us who don’t have funds to invest in gold,  instead the impression that it was something we were going to have to face up to, and suffer the consequences.

I don’t suppose this is an approach that would have been helpful when our country fought (oh yes, and won!) two world wars (with a little help from our friends).

I’m not so naive that I would say “stay positive and everything will be fine”, and there’s enough bad press out there at the moment about the worthlessness of positive thought; however, it is important to actively choose to be optimistic. This doesn’t mean simply putting a smile of your face and hoping for the best. Optimism automatically makes you more observant of opportunities, keeps your thoughts active around coming up with new ideas, and provides you with the energy to deal with any blows that do come your way.

So, what I say is this: however hard it gets, be determined, look for solutions, make necessary changes, create a vision for the future and actively move towards it. Many businesses come about because of economic downturns, and thrive beyond them; be creative in your thinking: what do people need? Change the way you do things; change your life if necessary. It’s been done before. This isn’t a computer game, where at some point soon ‘game over’ will appear on your screen. Life will go on; how it goes on, is up to each of us.

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THANK YOU to the writers of the world

Yesterday, I was passing the train station where I live just as the latest train had deposited its passengers, who were all striding out on their way to their various destinations. All except one woman, who had stopped along the pavement and was leaning against a wall, nose stuck in her book (a real one!), with a wistful look on her face. It was a beautiful picture, and I turned the car round with the intention of taking a photo of her standing there. But on reflection, I thought better of it. Not everyone wants to have their photo taken, and had I asked her permission, I would have disturbed the picture I wanted to capture, ruined the moment. In a way, I wish I had just taken the shot, and had I been on foot, I would have done.

There are many ways to be ‘in the moment’, reflective, meditative, cut off from the relentless busyness of daily life. Disappearing into the world of a great read is a gift, whether you have entered the world of Kindle, or still love the feel of the ‘real thing’. Some would say it’s an essential tonic, unprescribed medicine for the busy, worrying mind.

I would like to say THANK YOU, to the writers of the world, for sharing their gift and giving us reprieve. Doctors of the creative, written word.

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Deep Joy!

I had what one of my Uni friends would have called a ‘Wordsworth Moment’ today. I’d had a glorious afternoon, sitting in the sunshine with my sister-in-law, who is one of my favourite people, plus a lovely new acquaintance I’d just been introduced to. It has been one of those Gifts of Nature days, warmer than expected for the time of year, so a real treat.

On my way home, I pulled over to gaze in wonder at the setting sun on my right, a perfect, glowing sphere, getting redder by the second, as it slowly dipped behind a line of trees. To my left, a ewe was feeding her lamb, and just behind me, two magnificent male pheasants were dipping their heads, jumping in the air and pulling up grass, in what I imagine was the equivalent of flexing their muscles.

Wherever I looked, flowers were in bloom. Ah, Spring! Deep Joy!

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Inspiration from the slums of Kenya

Last week I watched the lead-up programme for Comic Relief, ‘Famous, Rich and Living in the Slums’. Lenny Henry spent a day working for a man selling samosas, who lived in a one room shack with his family of I think it was 8 children. Every day was a struggle to earn enough money to feed his family, and sometimes they weren’t able to eat more than one meal a day. Despite this, his employer for a day insisted on paying Lenny more than he would normally pay anyone because he could see that Lenny was inexperienced at shopping for survival. Lenny in fact returned his earnings, insisting that he would prefer the money to be spent on getting medicine for the youngest child.

At the end of the programme, Lenny asked how the man kept smiling, despite his circumstances, and his answer was that he had to keep smiling for his children, so that they could see there was hope.

How many of us get frustrated by our day, by comparatively insignificant incidences, start frowning, and become irritable with people around us? What difference would it make to take a deep breath, smile, and work through the solution? What sort of impact would this have on people close to us? And what impact would this have on our own stress levels and effectiveness?

Next time I find myself getting annoyed, I’m going to smile, focus on the solution, and send hope out to the world, it’s a far better use of my energy.

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I have a website, therefore I am

“If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick up one of those pieces and start again.” Flavia Weedon

Just over 2 weeks ago, disaster struck. Through a series of mismanagement and miscommunication, Amy Deane, Spring to Life, disappeared, went offline, apparently didn’t exist any more. My website wasn’t just down, it was gone, as was my email communication with the rest of the world. 

In today’s world of work, it’s difficult to exist and operate without a website. Not impossible, but difficult. Emails bounced merrily back to people who were trying to contact me, and there was no way for them to look up additional contact information on my website.

It took me 2 weeks to pick up the pieces, which involved setting up a temporary email address, informing as many people as possible that I hadn’t fallen off the edge of the internet cliff, and attempting to learn a whole new language – Tech-nish. In fact, this is not so much a new language, but a dialect, using words I recognised, but which had a whole new meaning in this other world.

Eventually, I capitulated. I’ve had to accept the loss of my swanky, pretty website, and begin again here, where I now rule! If I want to say something, I can say it here; if I want to announce something, this is my platform; if I want to inspire and motivate with great words of wisdom on my favourite subject, I have my very own stage! I just have to hope that there is an audience out there! Feel free to let me know that you’re with me, ideally offering silent applause, or perhaps a comment to contribute to my musings.

What I had to remember was that I am not my website; it may have disappeared, but I am still able to turn up for my clients, deliver presentations, run workshops, and continue to motivate and inspire. I don’t exist because of my website; it exists because of me.

I want to thank Mick Carling of Chiltern Marcoms, without whose help I would still be trying to translate the instructions from my new friends on live chat support. If you need help with your online marketing and communications, Mick has years of experience and a very no-nonsense approach to getting you out there and visible to your potential customers. Thanks, Mick!

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