A charity which inspires and fills you with laughter


What???? you may be thinking is the title of this week’s post all about. Well I’m going off piste this week on a short and snappy piece about a fabulous charity I discovered this weekend – The Flying Seagull Project.

I’ve just had the most amazing time with family and friends at The Wilderness Festival which was full of entertainment for kids, teenagers, adults, the sane and the downright out-there people. It was a wonderful eclectic mix. And as my daughter called it – mufti day for adults – as we wondered round admiring all the outfits and impromptu performances going on around us. The one thing she adored apart from all the spangles and glitter were the acts put on by this charity – comedy, magic, circus tricks and making up kids games. They were humble, inspiring, uplifting, amazing and thought provoking.

Their mission at the festival was to highlight what they do – visiting war torn and conflict countries to bring some laughter and humour to children. Their current project is to visit the refugee camps in Greece in October. I’m sure like me, you take for granted the laughter and happiness you share with friends and family and how fantastic that this troupe (if I’m allowed to call them that) of professional entertainers volunteer their time to put a smile back on a child’s face.

& what’s more every penny of every donation goes straight to the projects they are working on.  Admin costs are covered by the children’s parties you can book with them  in and around London.

I feel as if I’m doing a sales pitch and I don’t mean to but I was so bowled over by these people and what they are doing for children around the world. Please do take a look at the work they are doing and if you’ve got a kids party coming up; book them.  Guaranteed it will be amazing plus you will be supporting a much needed and worthwhile mission.

Preaching over; I’m stepping down from my soap box.

Feeling overwhelmed

OMG the woman in shock pop art retro style. Emotions feelings of psychological stress. Beautiful girl upset that she had done. News and gossip

Well I’ve completed week 2 of my new contract and I’m delighted to say I’m working with a lovely bunch of people….although I do feel very old.  I can’t help feeling maternal towards my team; the majority are young enough to be my children or should I rephrase that and say their parents are the same age as me.  Not that it bothers me as I love earwigging on their conversations and keeps me in touch with what makes the yoof of today tick.

I do admit that I have been feeling overwhelmed at times since I started.  It’s not the role per se but the volume of work and the processes which I’m trying to get my head round.  After consulting from home for the past 6 months; it’s a shock to the system. Luckily I know my trigger points and can confront them face on to put me mentally in a better place.  I thought I would share these with you.  You may have some others which would be great to hear about..

  1. I listen to a podcasts during my commute.  This distracts me from the crowds on the train and stops me thinking too much about the day ahead.  For those of you who have seen me with tears rolling down my cheeks on the Surbiton route, aplogies,  I’ve been listening to  Radio 4s The Listening Project.  I download a variety so I can pick and choose according to my mood
  2. If I feel anxiety welling up in me, I take a moment to breathe deeply through my whole body and focus on feeling rooted to the ground. You’ll notice the difference and realise how shallow your breathing is normally
  3. Face up to the issue if there is one.  Sometimes it can be easy to put it to the bottom of the to-do list but then it festers, you stew and it seems worse than it actually is.  Its’s never as bad as you think it is
  4. Share the problem.  There’s always someone in the office who can help you with the issue or even just to talk through can ease the stress
  5. Always take a break at lunch.  Even if you can only take a 10 min stroll round the block; it will help you clear your mind. Also, if one of my colleagues has an issue I find it really helps to walk and talk and be one step removed from the office. Fresh air and exercise can do wonders
  6. Have healthy food to hand.  If you’re anything like me as soon as the stress levels go up, I tend to grab any food I can lay my hands on.  And like most offices there’s always some goodies to be had.  Keep fruit, nuts or other healthy snacks to hand so even if you decide to stress eat at least you don’t have to feel guilty about what you’re eating. If you try and embrace pt 3 then hopefully pt 6 shouldn’t be quite so frequent (in my dreams!).

Finding Yourself In The Workplace Landscape

Sign Directions with Question Words isolated on white background. 3D render

I mentioned the wonderful Susan Ritchie in my previous blog ‘Is it me? Over 20 tips to help you..’ and she has kindly written a guest blog for me this week which I hope you will find useful.  As the title suggests its about rediscovering your strengths and who you are in times of pressure.  This could be whilst looking for a new job or trying to rebuild momentum and energy in your current role.  I do hope you find it useful and I would love to hear your thoughts. Take it away Susan…

“Recently I’ve had a few emails asking my advice about the future. No, I haven’t suddenly turned into Mystic Meg – but it does seem that there’s a stage in our careers where the future looks a lot less mapped out than we thought it might do 20 years ago.

Family demands, health concerns, financial necessity and changed  personal priorities can all conspire to leave us being less certain – of ourselves, our purpose, the direction of travel and our role and place in it. That lack of certainty can unseat us and cause us to question who we are at a personal and professional level. We feel lost.

If doubt about your future is undermining you and causing you to wonder which way to turn, then here are some tips  and techniques  for re-gaining your sense of self; this will help you to make informed choices about the way forward.

  1. Reconnect with your strengths

There’s a body of research, collated by Values in Action,  that demonstrates that we are happier, more confident, more able to manage stress  and have better relationships when we understand our character strengths and use them on a regular basis. We’re referring here to traits such as kindness and empathy rather than workplace skills such a leading meetings or  creating spreadsheets.

There are several ways to do this. One way is to simply ask the people that you know – ask them what they consider to be your greatest character strengths or traits. Collect the answers, make a note of them and then spend some time reflecting on them. If you keep a journal, so much the better.

Can you identify any common themes? How do you embody those strengths in your everyday life?  When and where do you use them? How can you play to them more regularly? How far do your current circumstances allow you to make the most of them? What changes might you need to make to help you ‘live’ your strengths more fully?

Another way to do this, is to visit the Values in Action website,  where you can take a free online test to determine your character strengths. Ask yourself the same type of questions.

  1. What really matter to you?

Understand what’s really important you can help you to set about creating a life that is built around those things. Our personal values can change over the years, without us being  aware of them. What mattered in our early twenties often seems unimportant in our late thirties and early forties.  The realisation that ‘this doesn’t matter anymore’ is quite liberating.

Knowing our personal values helps shed light on this – living a life that doesn’t reflect those core values results in unhappiness and a sense of disconnect.

Sit down and ask yourself who or what really matter to you. Three of my core values are freedom, flexibility and creativity – understanding these was key to me when I set up my business five years ago. And when I have one of ‘those’ moments, reminding myself of them helps me to stay on course and motivate myself to overcome challenges.

If you’d like to try  my Core Values Exercise, email me at hello@susanritchie.co.uk and a copy will wing its way over to you.

  1. What do you love?

Who or what or where do you love? What do you have a passion for? Where do you have a passion for? What don’t you love?

Long held routines can de-sensitise us to our passions. And a lack of courage and confidence can hinder us from following those passions.

Sit down and be honest with yourself. Make a list of everything you love and don’t judge it as you do so. People, places, activities; what makes you feel alive? Uncovering these drivers can fuel us towards a future we may not have previously considered. Consider what  energises you and what drains you – compare this what you spend most of your life doing.

What do you notice?

  1. Who are you at your best?

Using all the above answers and knowledge that you’ve gained, sit down, reflect on the answers and write a paragraph that sums up your best self – this is you at your most energised, engaged, content, happy, fulfilled, effective and whole.

On a scale of 1-10, how are you showing up as your best self now?

What needs to change in order for you to be your best self more often?

Where will you start?”

Susan Ritchie is a leadership coach and writer who specialises in helping professional women to land their next role and establish themselves as  a leader, by teaching them how to develop their Leadership Presence. Susan can be found at www.susanritchie.co.uk and on twitter @susanjritchie 

Personalisation vs Inspiration – what do we want from brands?

Alex calder

I started writing this blog a few days ago and it just wasn’t working for me.  I’ve been sitting on in it and ruminating and today I think it’s come together…amazing what watching a video on Facebook can do to inspire you. Read on…

Personalisation is a buzz word that so many brands are talking about and embracing and it’s great that they are taking the time to understand us as individuals and are marketing to us in this way. But do we really want “personalisation”? .   I admit there’s nothing nicer when somebody in a shop recognises you and knows your taste and style and Kat and Oz at Damsel in Chiswick are my go to girls for my wardrobe staples but I still like to explore and discover what else is out there  – even if I do come back to my fave brands. And we all want tips and advice from our friends – there am I saying I don’t particularly like personalisation but an hour later I’m asking friends advice on where to stay for October half term.  I haven’t got the time to wade through holiday brochures so let’s cut to the chase and ask those who we trust.  And in a way that’s what brands are trying to do – look at Boots who are now offering a personal skin solution “dermo-analyser in their larger stores.  Or Amazon with their selection based on previous purchases – although it can be quite random! And that’s great if sometimes you don’t have the time or inclination to shop around.

However, thinking about it on a personal level, for me it’s inspiration that help defines who I am, how I feel, my taste and style. A pinch of this, a sprinkle of that, a handful of wow and boom this is me.  And that’s how I felt this morning when I watched this Pharrell Williams video who was rendered speechless by Maggie Rogers – it energised and empowered me.  I want to show my own personality and have the opportunity to stumble upon items which I fall in love with – this could be anything from a mug, to a lampshade to a pair of shoes.  However easy and tempting it is to buy a complete look from one place; I want to reflect me. I like to be that little bit different.

Brands do recognise this but how far do they go in accepting that somebody is not going to buy their product every time and embrace this? Maybe they can work closely with opposing brands within (if feeling brave) or even outside their sector but which have a shared synergy to really show how they understand their customer?

So whilst personalisation is giving you more targeted ideas don’t be afraid to set out on your own and see what inspires you.

P.S. I hope you like the image – a sculpture of Josephine Baker by Alexander Calder.  I went to his retrospective at the Tate Modern and it blew me away.  I left grinning from ear to ear and so uplifted and inspired.


School holidays and work – a to-do list is most definitely required!

Diverse Hands Holding To Do List

Hurrah! I’ve got a full time 3 month contract starting mid-July. Boo! it starts the week before the school holidays begin. Sods law.  So with only 3 weeks to go I’m frantically trying to sort out my family’s life so that my daughter has an amazing summer and doesn’t notice I’ve disappeared into the ether.

I’ve started making a never ending list. I know I know one of the habits of highly productive people is NOT to make lists but nothing beats pencil and paper at times like these? So far I’ve lined up 2 childminders, 6 days of holiday camp, 1 week’s family holiday and a fantastic mother-in-law.  Only 7 days left to fill and I’m working on it….The thing is I want her to have some downtime i.e. boredom time at home where she can hang out and amuse herself; not feel as if she’s being passed pillar to post. I’m hoping my husband might be able to help with that one.

But it’s not just childcare and everyday household stuff.  We’ve had builders in for the past 4 months and now it’s decorating time – we haven’t even got to the lovely soft furnishings bit yet.  I did 4 solid days (well my type of solid days i.e. 4 hours) last week and it nearly killed me. Let me make it clear I do not come from a DIY family and I didn’t realise that decorating now comes into my job description of mother, wife and runner of household. Ho hum!  Only the bathroom, downstairs loo and workshop to do plus putting each room back into some sort of semblance.  Actually I don’t mind the last bit – I’ve been chucking, taking stuff to the charity shop, Gumtree-ing (if there is such a word) behind my hubby’s back. & I’ve been ruthless with my wardrobe. Very cathartic.

However excited I am about this work it is tinged with disappointment:

  1. Obviously not being able to spend the whole summer with my daughter. I’ve never done this, not once since she was born (she is only 6 so I do have time on my side)
  2. I had signed up to start doing voluntary work for CHEER a great local charity visiting elderly people in their homes. This is now on hold for the moment
  3. Since setting up my consultancy I’ve become a gym bunny and rather addicted to spin classes and lifting very heavy weights.  Selfishly I’m worried about how I am going to maintain my fitness and strength and most importantly that euphoria I get from exercise?  I’m sure I’ll manage one way or t’other and have already worked out that it’s a 1.2 mile walk from Vauxhall to my new offices.  I have asked my personal trainer, James and his naturopath wife, Kim to help me with some tips to keep me on the straight and narrow. I will share these with you on a future blog soon.

So I will keep adding to my list until I cross the threshold of my new job and focus on the priorities of the new role….with a list!