I'm a big geek and a big rebel

I’m a big geek and a big rebel all at the same time. 

I am ace at the Countdown numbers. Even when the big number is 75

I have a weird and extensive knowledge of the TFL network…if you are ever drunk and lost at 2am, call me- I will direct you onto the right bus. 

I love ironing. 

I have folders for everything. 

I rub out unnecessary apostrophes on pub chalk boards. 

I have been known to borrow a pen to add one in if required. 

I don’t subscribe to age requirements…by the time I am x…I have to be y. I will be that poem, the old woman who wears purple…

I have invented my own job as I knew I wasn’t suited to one that already existed.

I can get deep really quickly. There are so many people I have met at weddings, airports, in waiting rooms and at conferences that I know waaay too much stuff about but have no idea where they live or which motorway they came on. 

I think about my green Doc Martens a lot. 

And as for Blue Monday or other social calendar date that puts an odd societal pressure on things, I’m not into. Rarely has the ‘best night ever’ been on New Year’s Eve. I really like Mondays. Sometimes I want to have a bath, read a book and get an early night on a Friday night. Sometimes I want to get really drunk on a Wednesday date night. 

January is a time of limbo. We are all desperate for some light and warmth on our faces- even I am saying that as a ginger, pale person. We know we are supposed to be working on our big, bold 2019 goals but the cold weather is suggesting otherwise. ‘Come my sweet friend, it is warm under here in this cloud like duvet’. 

I know I am in a small percentage of people who don’t get the appeal of pancakes. Nor Yorkshire puddings. Too spongy. Too rubbery. On Shrove Tuesday, I will probably be having a lasagna. 

Basically it is all about what works for you…if you are springy in January, spring. If now is your hibernation time, use it wisely and set some deadlines. 

If setting yearly goals is too overwhelming, set 6 monthly goals. Or monthly or weekly or daily. Just get clear on what feels good. Most of our bills are paid at the end of the month and sometimes that is a great time for me to set the next round of goals for the following month. It makes it real. 

Podcast: 'Getting visible and facing your fear about putting your business/face on the internet' | Mini Episode Seven

Since 2012 I have coached over a 1000 people. Talented, skilled, passionate, kind people. When I trained as a coach I learnt methods to help my clients to build a strategy. However there is another huge chunk of the puzzle... the mindset stuff. The imposter syndrome, all the questions, the self doubt, the fear, the judgement, going pro and did I mention ALL THE QUESTIONS. 

I have been to too many panels recently where the experts have just said things like ‘go for it’ or ‘just start’ and I get that. However we are all starting from different places. I trained as an actor and I still find this stuff difficult- putting yourself out there, selling, pitching, pricing, presenting and if you are feeling the same, please know you are not alone. 
I want to help you to do business on your terms. To show up in a way that feels good. 

PODCAST: 'How to keep your inner Veruca Salt in check' Mini Episode Five

The pressure, man! The unwritten rules of how you should feel or what you 'should' have achieved at a certain age. 
There are so many conversations around who is doing what; at what speed, in what way and we are seeing so much of it play out online. Don't forget though, we are not seeing all of it!

I know you want it now. Just like Veruca. Plus throw in a golden goose whilst you are at it. Sometimes the striving outwards, stops the celebrations now...what you are creating now. How far you've come. 
You've got plenty of time. It's all good.

Let's talk about age and the pressure to do all the things...

Today I want to talk about age. 

As a child I always wanted to be older. I found it frustrating that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do…It turns out the school system really wants you to stay there between the hours of 9 and 3pm. 

I would see auditions advertised on Blue Peter and casually drop in the conversation to my parents, that I could easily get on the train to London by myself and I could be exactly what they were looking for. 

I spent many Saturday afternoon hovering around the kitchen whilst my Mum did the ironing, inhaling every part of the Brookside omnibus. In the beginning there was a mutter of ‘I don’t think this is suitable’ but quickly it became part of our conversations. A perfected Scouse accent has welcomed many opportunities in my acting career… ‘Are you from Liverpool?’ ‘Nah, I just watched a lot of Brookside’ I would reply. 

As kids we are all told the phrase ‘When you are older…’ As a proactive kid with an entrepreneurial spirit even then, I didn’t want to go all Veruca Salt as we all know what happened to her, but I kind of did want it now. 

When I turned seven I basically thought that I had made it. I remember being absolutely thrilled to be seven. It was my favourite number after all. It felt so much sassier than six. Who wants to be six, anyway? Losers!

Then double figures is a biggy isn’t it? That’s often when your parents have the dawning that the hormones are going to come out to play and SOON. 

Being fourteen was a fairly bleak time. Everything was out of sync. I felt like I was on a physical, emotional, mental waltzer… and although it would have been ‘cool’ to scream if I wanted to faster in fact, I wanted to cry to my Mum that I wanted to be seven again. Being seven was much simpler. Plus I had a shell suit then and we know how ace they were. 

At sixteen I found my mojo… I was starting to get closer to the big dreams I had said aloud to myself whilst I was wanging around on my bike. I used to interview people and be interviewed whilst I sat on loo. Funny now to think I now have a podcast. Although I don’t operate from the toilet. I promised.

However at this age, I had a less than healthy relationship with food and exercise… I was the thinest I had ever been and bizarrely the most popular, but definitely not the soundest. Despite ‘heroin chic’ telling me I needed to look bony and droopy, my naturally curvy body was crying out for some solid carbs or just a normal plateful of grub. 

The big birthdays of 18 and 21 were hectic and even though Clinton Cards told me I was an adult and a ‘beer monster’ (waaaay) I still had so many unanswered questions. 

I guess this is the point of this post.

Even though we are told we should feel or act in a certain way at particular ages, we may just feel the same. Or something different. Or not defined by our age in the slightest. If you catch me wearing a ‘I’m forty and fabulous’ t shirt in a few years, please remove me from the building.

I kind of want to be my own version of fabulous at any age… even if that is watching Masterchef on the sofa with my man pal in some kind of brushed cotton oversized Jimmy Jams. I want that for you too.. your version. 

A friend of mine had a brand new car for her 17th birthday with a personalised number plate no less. I had shit tonne of spirits and I was given a fireman’s lift up Doncaster Road. Alas not by a firefight. My evening ended early and my Mum shoved me into the people carrier with the force of late guest at a gypsy wedding. 

However despite not knowing my alcohol limits (or rather perhaps knowing them, but ignoring them) I did have a strong head on my shoulders. I knew what I wanted and went for it. I was free spirited, bold, opinionated and fearless. 

I wish my 17 year old self had been there to protect my 33 year old self who was broken, sleep deprived, vulnerable and trying to figure out how to be a good mother. Oh the pressure I put on myself. 

I am now approaching that midway point in my life…I spent 18 years living at home and 18 years living in London…unsupervised…

It can be easy to think about all the things that haven’t happened yet… I don’t own my dream 5 bedroom house on my favourite leafy street in North London yet (and yes I can describe it in detail) I haven’t been to LA and starred in a block buster film. I haven’t founded the perfect heeled boot that is not only comfortable, sharp, but a bit battered in a roll 'n' rock way but makes me look like I maaay have legs like Elle MacPherson.

If I am honest, I thought I would be a lot further on by now. Whatever that means. 

But then I hear Oprah speaking to me… as she often does. I can’t remember phone numbers but I can remember golden nuggets that she has shared. She loves a gratitude list doesn’t she?

My life is rich and full and abundant and supported and has a whole lot of love in it. I have options and choices and sense of ‘Everything is figureable’ like Marie Forleo taught me. And so do you. 

So often we can get that sense and pressure that we are behind… we are not where we should be.So many of my clients fear that it is too late to make a change… too late for risk…too late to admit what they really want. 

I spoke on Instagram about emerging privately. Over the last few weeks, the podcast has taken on a new pace. We are now in every continent across the world with thousands of plays per month. We are aiming to reach a million plays by Christmas. 

We launched in the middle of January but the idea had been cooking for 3-4 years. I used to drive for nearly 10 hours a week (to go to work...not just for jokes) and I used to listen to so many to help pass the time. 

The picture that shared was taken towards the end of 2015 and my little pal and I did this for hours. He was so cuddly as a baba and fortunately still is. 

Even though motherhood gave me a new lease of creativity, passion and ambition, I had to be patient. Let's not jazz things up; I had to focus on the money making activities, not the ones that were going to pay me in a year or two...but the ones that would pay my immediate bills and buy me the food that would provide the 5000 calories (approximately) that I needed to feed. Even then we did mixed feeding... 

Sometimes it isn't the right time to press publish. So with the podcast, I focused on what I could do in that moment; I wrote ideas down, I listened to other podcasts, I questioned what was missing... what I was craving.

Of course, it is tempting to emulate others but for me it always has to feel good. I have to connect with it. As an actor, of course I play different characters that are so far removed from me but I always have to find a commonality, an empathy and love for them. 

Sometimes emerging isn't emerging publicly. It is simply making a decision to emerge privately and to start to take the steps forward. 

My glamorous, vivacious, strong minded Nanna goes to Hong Kong and Thailand every year for Christmas. I won’t say her age, but I know for a fact she lies about it even to her closest friends, but you can do the maths. 

Basically I want to illustrate the point that you can do what you want to do. In your way, at your pace and in a way that feels good.

Please don’t try and follow someone else’s bucket list- it is pointless and potentially terrifying if they have something ridiculous like potholing. My heart is racing just thinking about that. On a side note, the Urban Dictionary has an insightful description of 'potholing'

To finish; write down what is in your head; the ideas, the thoughts, the ‘Ooh wouldn’t it be cool if’ moments. 

Notice what you are drawn to. What you continually watch or how you spent your time. What are your secrets that you haven’t told anyone yet? 

So often at the end of my coaching sessions, my client will take a huge exhale and say ‘Phew it says so good to share that, I’ve never told anyone this before’. Which always baffles me and excites me as I can see how much it makes their heart sing. 

Please know you don’t have to know everything or do everything all at once. Your only job is to know what you want; your values, what’s important to you, how you want to spend your time and what success means to you. Once you know that and have that as your foundation to guide your decisions, everything becomes easier. I can help you with this 1:1 if want extra support. Details are here

But please never let yourself be satisfied with ‘Well that ship has probably sailed’ or ‘We will wait and see’ or shrug despondently when someone asks you ‘What’s going on with you?’

Please make you a priority. You are important, you are ready right now and we can’t wait to hear what you have to say. 

A few things I would say to my 18 year old self (even though she may not listen...)

18 years ago I was reluctantly sitting in a large, sweaty sports hall taking my A levels. I say reluctantly, not because I don’t believe in education or learning or exams (or found them difficult), mainly because I would have rather been somewhere else… you know like the pub… in the middle of the day…talking to quick witted, complicated boys, playing pool, inhaling in Brit Pop and getting very very drunk. I was pretty dedicated to my ‘hobbies’ at that time so I managed to carve out plenty of time to do the above, you will be relieved to know. 

However I didn’t technically need the A Levels. I had auditioned successfully at my number one choice of drama school and had a guaranteed place. You had a 1 in 20 chance of getting in so I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself. 

The year 2000 (there is a song in there somewhere(!)) is half my life ago. I lived in Lincolnshire, in the same home since I was four, my parents were still together and I was still very much dependant. I had big, multicoloured dreams that I couldn’t wait to bring to life. You could say I had all the gear but no idea. However I did have a big heart, oodles of curiosity and stacks of ambition plus a lot of insecurity, uncertainty and a wavering trust in my own abilities. 

The 36 year old, mother of one, business woman version of me may seem far removed from that younger, slightly chaotic version but of course ‘she’ is still very much part of me. 

Here are a few thoughts: 

Your career is long. I left home in search of the bright lights of London town in the same year as Big Brother launched. I had no desire to be a reality TV star who was caught half naked ‘canoodling’ (such a Daily Mail word!) with a second division footballer. It was never going to be my ‘zone of genius’ … you will know that phrase if you’ve read the Big Leap. I knew I wanted to be here for the long game; fiercely independent and doing work that makes me feel great. Obviously there have been a few odd choices that I have made over time but also I feel proud that I turned down certain ‘opportunities'

You can do you. I can recite Shakespeare and speak in RP with the best of them, but that is not generally how I have been cast. Although I love it when I am in a casting room and I am asked ‘Have you got any other accents?’… and then I produce one or 27 of the ones I have up my sleeve. Equally just because I am a coach and a business woman, I don’t have to wear brash suits or lack heart, soul and kindness. Life is good when you can bring your whole self to the table. 

Not everyone is going to get it and many will tell you so. I have had so many rejections; near misses and ‘not this time’. Sometimes it is nothing personal. So you can’t take it as such. When you stand up for your dreams, it is likely that you will receive ‘feedback’ and a truck load of other people’s limitations. Sometimes the ‘concerns’ are from a kindly place. Often they are not. Perhaps you are a trigger for that person…in fact, it is quite annoying for them that you are ‘going for it’. Zip up your boundaries and be discerning about what you share otherwise the reaction can be pretty spiky. 

Choose your ‘people’ wisely and be the person you would want to hang out with. Actors get a bad reputation of being self centred, attention seeking, loud and dramatic… I have met many of these. Most I heard before I saw :) However that is not my natural state…in fact when it comes to ‘Give us a song’ or ‘Nic, Nic, do that funny voice’ I can be quite shy unless I am with close friends or family. In order to do my best work, I need a lot of alone time, I don’t always get my energy from other people. Relationships matter and there are some people who have employed me since I began. You know the score, don’t be a d*&khead.

Make yourself feel good. You are the common denominator in your life. Don’t wait for the job, the ‘pat on the back’ from someone you admire, the lover who may never call… validation from others is ultimately not the answer. I am fully aware that I signed up for a career that wouldn’t follow a linear trajectory. There are going to highs, lows, disappointments, frustrations and break throughs. What makes me and all of us different is what we can bring; how we can contribute, the platter of skills and experience. Mindset and strategy work in union. I can’t gain success by just thinking ‘good thoughts’ with no action and vice versa. This is a daily ‘work in progress’…there is no end point where everything will be sorted and all will be neat and tidy. It is ever evolving and that is very exciting. 

Podcast: Episode Thirteen with Holly Matthews

In today's episode I talk to my lovely friend Holly Matthews.

Holly is a TV actress, award winning vlogger, business and mindset coach to female entrepreneurs, a speaker, founder of the The Happy Me Project online course and live workshop and Mum of two girls. If you know her personal story, you will know her last few years have been life changing.

I am so thrilled that we could take one of our typical offline conversations online and share with you. 


Happy Me Project: 



Holly's book recommendations:

The Power of Now

The Big Leap

Eat That Frog