How do you know if it is the 'right' time to have a baby?

Written in 2014 (It is the beginning of my second book...that I haven't written yet)

I would like to have a baby. 

My maternal instincts are going wild. 

I can’t stop interacting with snot filled toothy faces that peep out of prams on the bus.

I visualise future Christmas gatherings and imagine a family portrait taken on the stairs off a large hall (very Escape to the Country) with a giant Christmas tree at the foot (naturally we are all wearing white!).

However it is likely this wouldn’t be a reality as a)We are not the Von Traps and b) I would be banned from buying a giant tree as the swearing and sweating of carrying it would definitely buy at least 15 minutes of sulking time from my partner. 

At 32, I am suddenly paying attention to what it would be like to carry a small person. How would I physically do it?

As a five foot 2 woman with a fairly generous pair of baps, would the bump hitch them so high that I would be sporting a breast filled neck thermal? I don’t look good in polo necks. I don’t have the right proportions. 

How do you build up the upper body strength to carry a vaguely stylish handbag, a baby and unlock a door when I start to shake and panic a little when I have to hold ‘plank’ in yoga?

How to you afford the ‘nursery’ set ups you see in Ok magazine? If you do gather the money together, how do you keep them so pristine that the ‘cosmic latte’ walls and  the ‘tapestry beige’ carpets are not splattered with tea  and felt tip pen. 

Then of course of the birth. How high is my pain threshold? How do you know these things?

For years I have wanted to scream through my irritable hayfever eyes that I rubbed like a psychotic teddy bear until I gave in and went indoors with Liz Earle.

The two holes in my leg (one created by sliding into my particular pointy Ikea bed in my lounging pants and the other falling off a pavement in my Mary Jane’s) really hurt at the time. The pavement incident even took me to A and E as I thought I had broken my ankle. I hadn’t, the booze had just worn off , I was little emotional and in agony. I should have stayed under my duvet with some Kettle Chips and a Friends box set. 

Apart from that I have been lucky enough to have a pain free life so far.

Oh wait a second, I am forgetting the first time I had a Brazilian wax and I thought true violent thoughts towards the beautician (but did not act on them) but a strong lager and a Nurofen afterwards helped future appointments. 

Now judging by the distressed faces and the farmyard sounds of One Born Every Minute, giving birth really hurts. Occasionally you get a woman who has the metal attitude of a Gladiator and log flumes a little bundle of joy, sweat free before her man has made it back from having a smoke and a trip to the vending machine. 

But that doesn’t seem to be the majority…and myself and my partner are watching closely…sometimes again on Channel 4 plus 1.

When I daydream about the above, I always think ‘Well, I’ll figure it out. I have a great group of friends and family who would be thrilled with the new addition and if I was being melodramatic in any way, they would tell me to have a word with myself’. 

The main nagging question is…is it the right time? Are we ready? I have starting reading and bombarding friends, colleagues and randoms at parties (I blame my age!)

‘Did you know when it was the right time?’ ‘ How do you juggle life and make it work?’.

I seem to get the same answers. ‘There is never a right time and I don’t a lot of the time, I am tired, feel guilty but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

So in reality, I am no further on, really. I trained as a life coach and apply many of those principles to my own life. I am not from the wishy washy, vague school of thought….I like to know what it is I am aiming for (setting a goal) and then take action (I love a to do plan of action). 

It was becoming very apparent that the decision was left to the individual couple and the right time meant very different states for different people. For us, we knew it was never going be about the ‘cosmic latte’ walls. 

My partner and I are both freelance creatives. We didn’t join the ‘rat race’ and we make our livings through coaching, acting, writing, blogging, talking and playing on a schedule that we create. We design our own lives. We don’t have paid holidays, we have better months than others, we have great friends and family and enjoy our lives together, individually and as a couple. 

We love children. At family gatherings or special occasions we can often be seen hand standing, playing rock, paper, scissors or becoming unnecessarily competitive during a game of rounders. 

I trained as an actress and when I left I worked at a children’s play and music centre and then became a nanny for many families I met there on a part time basis between acting jobs. I expanded my den making skills, I learnt how to take command of a parachute with no suffocations and had an abundance of nursery rhymes ringing and screeching through my brain 24-7. I have been known to sit bolt upright in the middle of the night singing Incy Wincy Spider with actions. (Now I am just showing off). 

My aim with this book is to track our own journey and also help you as a creative to unlock the answers for you.

To be continued...

Podcast: Episode Eleven // Anna Hardy

In today's episode I talk to Anna Hardy. She's the proud mum to two lively boys aged twelve and three, and lives in sunny Manchester.

For the last 10 years she's run her own photography business - she's specialise in honest, documentary family photography that celebrates character, emotion and individuality. She also regularly mentors and run workshops for other photographers, helping them to carve out a successful business that is right for them and their own unique priorities and passions. 

As of January 2018 she now also co-runs The Mothership, an online membership community for working mothers, alongside the lovely Helen from Guilty Mothers Club. She also writes a family lifestyle blog with my friend Caroline, The Curve.

How to take a leap and conquer your comfort zone

The programme ‘The Island’ was a firm favourite in my house a few years back. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, here it is in a nutshell.

Bear Grylls (ultimate survivor/ an adult version of the boy scout who is totally fearless) drops (casually anchors the boat and the occupants have to swim to the shore through invested waters carrying everything they own) a group of women and a group of men to neighbouring, uninhabited islands that are nestled in the Pacific ocean. Each group has a supply of water to last them for 24 hours, a selection of tools, the clothes they stand up in and each other.

Over the next 6 weeks, each group has to find ways and means to not only survive but thrive. Daily duties include building a fire, collecting water (which then must be sterilised on the fire in order to be consumed- hence the fire is being a necessity) and finding a tropical selection of food. On the menu could be anything from a limpet or snail or a fish or snail or even a Caymen crocodile if they are lucky/brave enough. 

This programme has indulged my interest in people watching and group dynamics as the contestants are tested by the treacherous and unpredictable conditions. The inhospitable island takes it toll on its inhabitants one by one – despite the sturdy personalities of some. Several weeks of very little water and even less food can very quickly take your eye off the prize.

As a lover of the Enid Blyton Famous Five books, I would like to think I would enjoy this raw, adventurous, trying experience, however I know myself too well. Yes, I have survived many Glastonbury’s- soaking wet tents/clothes/shoes etc etc and toxic toilets, however festivals remain on the right side of my comfort zone. 

I wanted to explore the area of ‘comfort zone’. In advertising terms, ‘comfort’ evokes many images- cosy duvets, Christmas around the table with an abundance of food and wine, log fires, your favourite jogging bottoms with a snuggly jumpers and decadent hot drinks consumed from the perfect mug. 

However the comfort zone of everyday life is usually far more personal and individuals have their own version of what it looks like.

Here are a few testers:

  • Speaking in public

  • Asking a fairly simplistic question in a group situation which may be seen as ‘obvious’ and therefore make us look stupid

  • Saying no “what will people think, will they say I am selfish?”

  • Starting something new with no guarantees, just a dollop of faith and guts

  • Questioning our own personal margins, when we may have been told “we couldn’t do x / you are not the sort of person to do ‘y’/ what if ‘z’ goes wrong. 

I would like to share with you my 5 strategies that you can experiment with as part of the process of stepping outside your comfort zone. 

1) Acknowledge

Notice what you notice. Don’t be afraid of admitting your fear (you don’t have to do this to an entire room in an AA way, simply to yourself). Notice the signs of the uncomfortable line- what happens to your breathing? How does your body language change? What mind chatter seems to creep in? Which unhelpful behaviour or habits start to reveal themselves? 

2) Break down the process

Where are you on a scale of 1-10? If '10' is conquering the task, how close are you? What number are you currently sitting on? 

Create a timeline from 1-10 and break down the process. Write down the ten step that would you need to take to get you there. 

3) The next number

What actions do you need to take to take you to the next number on the time line. When do you want to get there by? 

Create some action steps for yourself. Be specific in what you want to achieve and start today. 

4) What support can you put in place? 

What gets you in the zone? Getting yourself into optimum preparation mode can dramatically increase your results so start to create your tool kit. 

Here are a few to try

  • Create a playlist of music that gets you motivated and ready!

  • Remind yourself of your 'why'. Why do you want to achieve this? What will you gain? Take a look at the big picture but also the daily impact. 

  • Create an environment that works for you. 

  • Remind yourself of a positive experience or a time when you excelled or exceeded your expectations. 

5) Copy those who have done it and take action

Imagine your role model or someone you admire? What would he/she do in your situation? How would he/she move forward? What information or strategies can you heed from their story? 

What would you do if you were the best in the world at what you did? 

Create a brain storm to find some solutions that you could take and make a plan. 

PODCAST: Episode Ten // Dr Emma Svanberg

In today's episode, I talk to Dr Emma Svanberg who is a Clinical Psychologist specialising in the perinatal period.

She supports women and their partners through pregnancy, birth and the early years of parenthood. Emma is also a  qualified Hypnobirthing teacher and runs a number of free groups in North London for parents and parents-to-be. She also shares her ideas about the psychology of parenting on social media and has run a number of campaigns to raise awareness of common mental health issues facing parents.

You can listen below:

Website

Instagram @mumologist

Facebook here

Twitter here 

Support the campaign Make Birth Better 

 

 

What do I do when the phone isn't ringing? #actors

When I speak to actors, this is one of the most common questions that I am asked. ‘What do I do?’

The story usually goes as follows: they have left drama school, they sign with an agent, they land one or two jobs….then nothing. Everything grinds to a halt and they are left in a place of uncertainty. ‘Am I being put up for jobs?’ ‘Are my head shots working?’ ‘Is my agent working hard for me?’ ...’What do I do?’

The answer is ‘something’… do something and quickly.

It is your responsibility.

Of course, a strong working relationship with an agent helps, but you are the common denominator in your career. You are constant so take it seriously.

Here are 5 ways to help you stay motivated and take action:

1)   Think back to your recent successes

What did you achieve, what did you do, where you were performing, how did it make you feel, what did people say to you?

Start to vividly remember and then analyse the process.

What did you do? How did you make yourself feel good and find your flow?

2)   Find your focus

What do you want? What do you want to achieve in the next 6 months, by Christmas? Write yourself a goal and then take action

3)   Flip the questions back to you and put yourself back in control

Instead of being cross with others or asking closed questions ‘Is it quiet at the moment?’ ask yourself ‘What can I do?’ and ask your agent ‘What do you need from me, can I provide any additional shots, show reel clips, what can I do to make your life easier?’

4)   Write a list of your tasks you need to do

Make a voice reel, hone your Yorkshire accent, take a refresher horse riding course etc. Break down each task into smaller tasks and schedule the dates into your diary; when you are going to start, what you need to do and when you want to complete the task by.

5)   Go for it and take action

Don’t wait or say you’ll start tomorrow, or next week or when you have a block of time. Do something today. Send an email, make a call, make a booking and start to build momentum.

PODCAST: Episode Nine with Dahlia Dajani, Founder of Entreprenursery

Dahlia is an entrepreneur.  She comes from a background in Marketing and has worked at companies such as Nestle and Beiersdorf (NIVEA) in her previous life BC (before children).

A year ago she started a pop up coworking space and crèche in a local church.  Today she is launching a nursery in a business club for women – Blooms London.  She is passionate about connecting people and about enabling parents to get back to work guilt-free.  She has monthly parents networking events and a free webinar as well which showcases entrepreneurs areas of expertise.

Social media links

Instagram @entreprenursery

Twitter @entreprenurhub

Facebook.com/Entreprenursery

Website:  Entreprenursery.co.uk

PODCAST: Episode Eight with Zoe Blaskey, Founder of Motherkind

Zoe Blaskey is the founder of Motherkind, which she started after struggling with the pressures of modern mum life and wanted to help other mums who might feel the same. Zoe is a coach, meditation teacher and pregnancy yoga teacher.

Through Motherkind she runs events, hosts retreats and workshops, works one to one with mums and hosts the popular The Motherkind Podcast which features guests like Marianne Williamson and Julie Montagu. As well as running Motherkind, Zoe is also a successful brand and marketing consultant.

Zoe is also a pregnancy yoga teacher, certified coach and meditation teacher. She is trained in many self-development techniques and has a background in 12 step recovery. Zoe is on a mission to support mums with wellbeing tools to help manage the madness of modern mum life. Zoe is the motherhood contributor for online magazine Alternatively Healthy and is an ambassador for wellbeing studio Eve and Grace.

Listen to the Motherkind Podcast 

Zoe's book recommendations:

The Conscious Parent  

The Awakened Parent

I am feel so lucky to do what I do

I am feel so lucky to do what I do.

Big thank you to all the women I have worked with this week. I know I am coaching you but YOU inspire me also. I also take away so much myself; ideas, thoughts and 'Ohhhh I never even though of that' It is never easy to actually be willing to uncover that niggle and do something about it or make changes when you are sleep deprived, emotional and would love to stick your head under a duvet.

But you do it. Yes as your coach I am here to support you but you do the hard work; the late nights, the potentially awkward requests to your loved ones 'I know we have always done 'this' but I need a little more of 'this' and taking the action to move to forward when it is easier to just stay the same. 


I'm now off to a casting... another passion of mine. Plus I can't say I don't love having a child free train journey and 5 mins with my own thoughts. 📷Taken from my living room with no filter!

Behind the scenes of headshots | 5/6

5/6 Cheese!

Now for the happy, smiley, jolly one. I imagined my son coming towards in his drunk, giddy way often with some random objects in his hands/pockets/nappy! (6 weeks on he is still giddy but getting super speedy- mama needs to maintain this fitness mission.

Although I don't have the perfect the Hollywood smile this is me. Plus I reckon a big beaming smile can go a long way and instantly make someone feel comfortable and at ease (promise it isn't in a Jim Carey way) I hate going to events where everyone is on their phone or standing with folded arms (this is probably nerves, of course). Last night's @thestepupclub event was so friendly and supportive and I met some brilliant ladies.

The idea. The details. The plan aka The Strategy Session

I only have a couple of these left in February and then I am away for some of March. If you work as a partnership you are both welcome to come. If you have been pondering your idea for a while, send me a DM and ask me any questions. Sessions take place at Century in Soho with buckets of caffeine or via Skype. Plus you get a fortnight of email support so the dialogue can continue back and forth. Perfect for small businesses/ personal brands /creatives and freelancers.

Podcast: Episode Seven // Nicola Washington, TM[M]I SOCIAL

In this episode I talk to Nicola, founder of TM(M)I Social and a social media specialist, Instagram-er and blogger.

As a certified social media geek (and qualified #digitalmum) she is passionate about the possibilities social media offers, whether you are seeking a source of support and community, want to build momentum behind a movement, or need to grow the audience for your business. She is also the co-founder of Make Motherhood Diverse - a challenge to the danger of the single story of motherhood too often presented by the media and brands. 

What do you need to upgrade?

Today's video is a juicy topic. Many of my clients want to go to the next level. Have a watch below and let me know what you would like to upgrade this year.

Podcast: Episode Six // Silvia Del Corso, Founder of Pink SEO.Marketing

In today's episode I talk to Silvia Del Corso, a Search Engine Optimisation and Digital Marketing freelancer living in London. She works with Small Business Owners and Freelancers and helps them to understand how to take care of the SEO of their website and also provides hands-on SEO campaigns to let websites rank on Google for their perfect keywords. Silvia shares her journey, the facts of SEO and some nifty tools you need to make your website fly.

What or who is standing in your way?

Sometimes life feels tough. Every challenge becomes an obstacle and it can be difficult to snap out of it, especially if things are not happening as quickly as you would like.

I am a member of the Female Entrepreneur Association and every year there is a mission for March.

Just one mission.

This is a particularly difficult concept for me as I am lover of lists and multi tasking.

However this mission makes you streamline and encouraged my analytical side to come out to play and assess what the end of the month looks for me and what will have changed.

I would like to set you the challenge.

What is the one thing you would like to achieve by the end of the month? Or within the next four weeks, let's say.

It doesn’t matter what it is, however big or small, the most important thing is you know WHAT it is. As I always say the HOW may not reveal itself just yet.


Start by writing a list, jot down anything that comes to mind. Don’t limit yourself or stop before you have finished the sentence.


Then pick one. Don’t get stuck on which one. Just choose one. You can make the choice by your own rules. It may be something life changing or it could be something mundane, you’ve been putting off that will make you feel instantly better once it is done.

Now here is the plan in 5 easy steps.

1. Write

Write the goal down clearly and specifically . By the end of the month I will…………
Then write another sentence describing what will have changed. How you will be feeling. What people will be saying to you. Start to visualise the next month. In achieving 'x' this moment, 'y' will happen next month.

2. What

What is standing in your way?As the month has already started it is important you get started immediately. Start to eliminate any distractions and change your focus so you are gearing your life around your goal. So if it is exercise related- schedule the sessions. All of them, until the end of the month. Break down the process and write down all the miniature tasks. Then to avoid overwhelm start to write them into your diary. Be clear about what you want to achieve in each session.

3. Who is standing in your way?

Achieving this goal will require your focus, attention and a big dollop of positivity. Share your goal with people who are going to encourage and support you. Don’t make things harder for yourself by speaking to people who will discourage you with ‘Oooh, that’s sounds difficult, I could never do that?’.

4. Start today

Don’t wait for the right time or perfect situation, just begin and start moving forward. Write down three actions you are going to take today.

5. Track your progress

Write it down every day a)what you did and b) what it achieved so you can see the results. A great way to see how well you are doing and also spur you on when you need a little boost or motivation.

Bonus Number 6
Tell me about what- what is your mission is for this month? Be accountable.

How to start a podcast

Yes, I did it. It only took three years...well did have a baby in that time but still. It is amazing how stifling fear can be.

However launching the podcast has been so worth it.

We are five episodes in, we have had hundreds of downloads and a growing, loyal audience.

I have had so many questions about how I did it...so I decided to share our journey (I am laughing at myself as I write the word journey!) 

I hope you find it useful.

Plus please let me know if you start one...

To listen to my podcast, go here
To find out more about the microphone I use, go here
To find out where you can store your podcast, go to Buzz Sprout and if you want to sign up, you can use this code to gain a bonus. (you gain a bonus using my affiliate link)