Plastic Free July and why it matters

Every year, for a month, there is a small organisation that encourages people around the world to go “plastic free” for a month. This is a hard thing to do but it is something I attempt to do each year.

It’s generally accepted that if we use less single-use plastic, it will improve our environment in the broadest sense, but this article isn’t about saving the world in that sense.

The point of me sharing this (aside from a small encouragement for you to consider the level of single-use plastic in your life) is to highlight the process of doing something different.

I generally succeed at quite a few of the “quick wins” for reducing plastic use. I always have a reusable cup to hand; I take my own water bottle with me and I bring my own shopping bags. Now though, these don’t count for much as there aren’t too many opportunities for being out and about. This will change and these habits will stick with me. So, what about everything else?

During July, I’m more aware than ever about the choices I make and the impact that they might have. This can lead to analysis/paralysis where you don’t do anything because there can be too much to consider and it’s impossible to decide. To get round this I stick to a few key values/reasons/rules which means it’s easier to do the thing. In terms of plastic, there’s a balance between price, time and needing the object. I’m going to consider if I can afford the plastic-free alternative, do I have time to make/create the alternative and do I actually need the thing in the first place.

We make so many choices each day that we’re not aware of – sometimes it helps to be aware that you’re making a choice.

This year has started with an audit of the supermarket shop where about 50% of the items are plastic wrapped. The next stage is to look in a bit more detail about what those items are and if they can be replaced with plastic free ones.

I’m not going to be completely plastic free, but for this month at least I will be a little bit more plastic-free than usual. At the end of the month, I can see which actions/habits will stay and which ones won’t. There is no right or wrong on this.

What’s important to me is that this is a great example of making a life change. It feels a bit uncomfortable; I do have to keep reminding myself and I’ll undoubtedly slip up along the way. But I really would like to reduce the amount of single use plastic, so I need to try it out, find what works and keep practicing it.

Plastic free July may not be your thing, but perhaps writing a book July might be, or fitness August will be your thing. Here’s how:

  • Pick a topic
  • Audit how much you do already
  • Be aware of the choices you make not to do it
  • Decide to do the thing (for as long or as little as you want)
  • Reflect and review at the end of the month*

*It doesn’t have to be a month although this is a good period of time to really give it a go, but not too long that it seems unachievable from the start.

For help in choosing your thing, or encouragement and tips for how to make a change, get in touch.

For more about Plastic Free July go here

I could never…grow my own vegetables

It was Boxing Day morning, and Christmas-time in the UK can be a grey, drizzly time of year. It’s not particularly cold and not particularly warm – fairly non-descript. Having had a family filled Christmas Day, the next day, then, seemed the perfect day to start growing vegetables.

I knew that spring is a good time to start growing things, but why not get ready a little early? The reason that I needed the extra time was because I had nowhere to grow my vegetables. I had a garden, but it was a space full of grass (to describe it as lawn would be stretching it) broken only by a concrete path running down the middle.

My task for the day was to dig out my first vegetable patch.  I grabbed my spade and started digging but soon found that a fork was the implement to be used to break the ground. I had loosely marked out a square and started digging out row by row. When you garden is full of quick spreading couch grass, joined by a network of intertangled roots this is hard work. Fortunately, I discovered my soil is “good” soil – not too much clay, not too much sand, which meant that digging wasn’t as hard as it could have been, and that there was a good chance that my vegetables might grow without too much difficulty.

Half a bed that day, half a bed another day and I had a space where I could grow something. Roll on a couple of months and I had some seeds potted up on the window sill, and potatoes in egg boxes waiting to go in the ground.

Another month and I decided that it was the right time to get planting. The first thing I learnt was that there will never be enough space in the ground for what you want to grow. If I planted all my potatoes, there would be no room left for anything else. The second thing I learnt was that once I’d planted my seeds out, they looked much smaller than they had on my window sill.

A day or two after planting, I noticed that some of the leaves looked as if they’d been nibbled. Another day later and there was nothing left in the veg patch. Gone. All gone. It could have been a combination of slugs and birds. I felt deflated, frustrated and angry. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I’d dug my own bed, tended to the seeds and then nature had cruelly taken them away from me.

This could have been the end of my gardening trial. Instead, I decided to fling some seeds down directly into the bed and to see what happens. A few things grew, the potatoes had survived, and I had learned what to do next time.

veg plot
Learning: new seedlings with protective hats

Fast forward a few years and I have had more vegetable growing failures, but also some successes. Courgettes can grow anywhere. A gooseberry bush that was threatened with eviction decides to start fruiting. I think the potatoes that I planted originally are still producing shoots.

The veg bed needs severe weeding every year, but gradually I feel it is becoming easier. I have dug another two beds and every year I plant some seeds, learning from the year before and learning for the next year coming.

If you have an idea or project that you don’t seem to be able to get started – I can help. Get in touch to find out more.

I could never….camp in my garden

Something that I’d talked about everytime I returned from a camping trip. The conversation would go something like this:

“I really like camping, I wish I could do it more”

“You could always just camp in the garden”

“Yes! I’m definitely going to do that!”

Next season the conversation would repeat.

But this year, not even a week after the clocks changed and “summer” began, I woke up to the dawn chorus in a tent in my garden. Here’s how it happened.

As I write the UK is two weeks into a lockdown whereby we are all to stay in our houses with the exception of:

  • Buying food
  • Getting medicines or health care
  • Going to work (if it can’t be done at home)
  • Exercise, once a day

There’s not a lot of scope for those of us that like to explore the great outdoors and who might be tempted with some wild camping or even some glamping. But I stumbled across The Great Garden Camp Out – a growing group of people who were going to camp in their gardens, yards or even homes for a night.  I thought this was indeed a great idea, but also had that nagging feeling of how ridiculous it was. Camping is a social thing, a way to share the experience of time in nature over a hot chocolate and morning coffee brewed on a stove. Why on earth would I camp (on my own) in my garden when I had a comfortable and warm bed available?

In these topsy turvey times, the positivity of the group got the better of me. Varying levels of effort were being made across the country to re-create full on campsites, or simply to string a tarp and lay out a bivvy. Barbecues were lit and campfires were made. The growing ridiculousness of it all got the better of me and I pitched my tent.  I waited until nightfall and under a near-full moon and Venus shining brightly I settled in with pillow and duvet for what turned out to be a long and peaceful sleep under canvas.

I woke at dawn hearing first one bird, then a few more and then many more – the best natural alarm clock there is. I could then pop into the kitchen for a morning brew and as the sun was shining, I took my breakfast outside as well.

morning world!

I didn’t pitch my tent with a world-beating view, I was in an urban environment, but this small activity made me very happy. I was engaging with nature. I avoided news, social media and screens for many hours and now I’ve done it once, there’s a strong possibility I will do it again.

There’s nothing to lose in doing not dreaming. Find a way to get started – taking action is the only way to get your dreams done.

If you are stuck with getting started, get in touch to chat about how I can help.

I’ll wait until…

At this time of year, it’s tempting to just stick it out and wait for the light to reappear. It’s fast approaching winter and the shorter days and rainy weather do make it difficult to feel energised. It feels easier to sit back and wait for longer days and brighter mornings. Actually, there’s an element of sense in that – our ancestors used this time of year to celebrate the previous year and to sow seeds for the forthcoming year. Now we might do this metaphorically, by seeking inspiration and giving ourselves time to mull over ideas. This gives us the opportunity to let them mature and develop so that we don’t write them off immediately for being “not me” or “too hard”. It also helps us to avoid rushing into some thing that doesn’t quite feel right, just for the sake of doing something.

That said, there’s still a few weeks of the year left, and this is enough time to get started, or even to finish some ideas that you may have had during the year. To make it easy for yourself don’t set yourself a wild goal – if it’s something big, then break it down so that it feels manageable. It can act as a stepping stone to help you really get going in the spring.

Or make it something small, one of those things that you keep telling yourself you’ll get around to doing and you don’t do it because you know you can do it anytime. How about now is the time?

I’m not saying we should ignore our instinct to go into semi-hibernation, nor to ignore the fact that if you get outside and expend some energy you will feel more energetic but let’s find a balance. Block out some regular time in your diary and keep it protected for you. Fill that time with your project – you can get enough done in twenty minutes.

And when it’s done, congratulate and celebrate yourself. Check in with how you feel and figure out how you’re going to decide what to do next. You could wait until next year/Spring/when the time feels right; but why not give yourself a head start your future self will thank you.

There’s nothing to lose in doing not dreaming. Find a way to get started – taking action is the only way to get your dreams done.

If you are stuck with getting started, get in touch to chat about how I can help.

Photo by Daniel Frank from Pexels

Where do I stop?

It’s about time for another post about life lessons from running. This one starts in Munich. Usually I’ll be mulling over the many benefits of running from positive health impacts to bringing you into contact with people who share your interest and therefore are one step closer to supporting your crazy dreams. But this is different. It’s a race but there’s no finish line or cut off time – so how do you know when to stop? [See below for the answer in terms of running.]

I was mulling over this whilst I was running, in between checking my watch, grabbing some energy from the food and water stations and enjoying the changing landscape once outside the city. I had no idea where I was going to end up, but instead of staying at the start line and worrying about it, or trying to plan the exact route, I started off when the cannons fired and kept taking steps forward.

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Catcher cars at the ready

Fortunately, there are some clever calculations so you can work out how fast you need to be to get to a particular distance before the car catches you. In some ways you can make it like any other race: run the distance. However, there’s a small caveat – you can’t slow down and make up time later in case you get caught, going too fast sometimes makes you slower so pacing is crucial and what happens when you make the distance? Do you stop running, congratulate yourself and wait patiently for the car to formally acknowledge that you have completed your race? Do you re-calculate, set a new target up your pace and run on to the next km marker, then the next, then the next?

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Once you finish you get a shiny, gold blanket

Of course, there is no right or wrong answer, or rather both of them are the right answer. As life patters on, you may find yourself reaching your goal: getting a new job, taking that dream holiday or buying that house and then what? Sometimes you need to stop and pause for a while, enjoy the place you’re at and reflect, review. After a little while it will be time to decide what’s next – to metaphorically lace up your running shoes for the next race. Other times you may get to the goal and it can be your springboard to something else – new opportunities appear, the route is clear ahead and you have the energy to keep going.

There will always be a time to pause and the great news is that you get to decide when that is.

You get the choice of saying: Good job. I’m done for today. Tomorrow is a new day maybe we go again, maybe we rest. Occasionally if you’re not listening to your body you get a reminder – think catcher car – that says you need to stop for a while.

The truth is you never really stop, you pick your direction with a destination in mind and keep going. Sometimes it feels as if you’re stuck mud and sometimes it feels as if you are way off track. It’s ok to reset, recalculate and even to enjoy the meander for a while.

I would love to hear where you’re heading right now – leave a comment or send a message.

[It’s the Wings for Life World Run where you run until the catcher car catches you. Runners get 30 minutes head start and the car is speed limited. It starts at 14kph and increases speed every 30 minutes.]

If you’re feeling stuck, unsure or cautious about taking action then I would love to help. The first step is to get moving (yes, actually moving, take a walk or dance or something) and then get in touch for a chat. I’m currently offering coaching on a pay what you want basis.


I’ve always been fascinated by pilgrimage. For as long as I can remember my life has been about enjoying the journey – an idea of a destination but making the most of the twists and turns that happen along the way.

I’ve never been hugely competitive: I want to do my best and step up when it matters, but I’ve never had a “winning at all costs” attitude. This means that I can enjoy doing things, just for the sake of doing them. My wide range of hobbies and experiences reflects this. That’s not to say I don’t feel nervous about doing something new, or joining a new group, but that I would rather try something than spend too much time wandering about it. I enjoy the doing and am less focused about the end result. Trust the training and you will be OK in the race. Start taking action and the opportunities will present themselves. Enjoy the journey.

A pilgrimage can have religious meaning to it, and there are well defined pilgrimage routes. Paul Coelho’s “The Pilgrimage” opened my eyes to travel in itself as facilitating a transformation even though it describes a journey along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, which is definitely a religious route.

In simple terms and with thanks to the British Pilgrimage Trust:

“Pick a destination, set an intention and start walking”

There is nothing simpler than knowing that your task for the day is to get from point A to point B. I walked St Cuthbert’s Way earlier this year – a quasi-spiritual route, slightly off the beaten track – and discovered that a pilgrimage really gives a chance to re-focus on the important things in life. It could be down to the digital detox, keeping an active body, or abundant fresh air. Whatever it is it is a good combination.

Modern day pilgrim. Day One: St Cuthbert’s Way

For me, travelling solo is made easier by having an intention, or tasks, or theme for a trip – a reason to do it in the first place. I’ve never expected a specific revelation but more revelled in the unexpected: places I wouldn’t have visited; people I wouldn’t have met and a story to tell when I get home.

And if walking is not your thing then take some time to observe the steps you’re taking on your life journey. Particularly if you are contemplating or starting a life change. What steps have you taken? How far have you come? What is your intention? If you bring this into the context of a physical journey, remember that it’s ok to take a rest day (or week, or month), it’s ok to feel frustrated that you haven’t made “enough” progress and it’s surprising how often you find you have reached your “destination” with no fanfare, and a realisation that it’s not quite what you expected.

And now? Your homework is to reset your pilgrimage destination – this could be a physical journey (no destination is too close to home); or a step towards your dreams – and to start “walking”.

Let me know how you get on.

Bring me sunshine

Summer weather seems to make everything better. People smile, you can hear laughter and there is a spring in everyone’s steps. But this can also make us wonder why we don’t feel like this all the time. We question how we spend out time (who really wants to commute and sit in an office when it’s sunny outside?), whether we can have this all the time (let’s move to Spain!) and what exactly are we doing with our lives.

I don’t think this is unusual and neither does it require rash decisions. We can make some small changes to feel like it’s a sunny day everyday. Here are some ideas:

  1. The sun is always shining: if you remember this you can always have a smile on your face – even when the clouds get in the way. Take a little time – 5 minutes is enough – to do something sunny: laugh out loud; have some fresh juice; buy some flowers. It will brighten your day and in turn you will brighten someone else’s.
  2. Put a spring in your step: You may know this one – get outside: take a walk, ride a bike, even a few breaths outside your front door will make a difference. Movement is the best thing to get you out of your head and into your body to feel what’s real and not what you’re imagining. Fresh air, nature, outsideness all have added benefits to lift our mood.
  3. Get connected: in real terms. Go and see what people are doing – find out what the options are before you tell yourself “I could never…”. This could be taking the time to talk to your colleagues, or go into a cafe and notice what people are doing (I’m writing this in the cafe where my usual quiet corner has been turned into a co-working space because the trains aren’t running). Don’t get sucked into the gloss of social media but do get inspired to be or do different.
  4. Take action: Start doing your dreams. Once you’re in a state of mind to make considered choices decide what you are going to do, schedule a time and get it done. Don’t be overambitious about this first step – that’s to come – but do make it slightly uncomfortable nudging at the edges of those limiting barriers we set ourselves.

Leave a comment to let me know if you try any of these, I’d love to hear about it.

If you’re feeling stuck about moving forward and turning your dreams into reality I can help. Get in touch to find out how to work with me 1:1 and keep an eye on the events page for details of group workshops.

It’s springtime already?

As the days are definitely longer and the sun is making sporadic appearances it is easier to feel good about ourselves. But then we look at the calendar and find out that it’s nearly halfway through April and a feeling of panic sets in – time is marching on, I’m never going to get it all done. Maybe you think that it’s already too late to realise the plans that you carefully made at the beginning of the year.

Fear not! Deep down you know that it’s never too late to get started on something.  This could be as simple as soaking up some inspiration, or a little more concrete like signing up to a course. The good news is that nature has our back and she doesn’t run by our calendar.  Spring is a great time to get started on things. My god friend Ella from White Rabbit yoga and I have created a half day to celebrate springtime – nurturing yoga and activities so that you can set up the steps for your dreams to grow. We will help you to bring energy, joy and passion to your intentions leading to a fulfilling rest of the year.
Go to the Events page to find out more details

If you’re looking to try something new, to gain skills, or get a feel for a career change then volunteering is one of the best ways to see what fits. I’ve been volunteering in Uganda with Cricket Without Boundaries which taught me a lot about cricket and a lot about myself. It comes highly recommended so if you are looking for something to do that will have an impact on you and the world then do check out all their volunteer information. It’s also a lot of fun.

Over the winter period, I’ve been consolidating my learning over the past few years. reflecting on how putting things into action and trying things out for real takes the fear out of it all. Learning to live with a little bit of uncertainty is fine (you can define your limits) and taking a big step, doesn’t feel that big once it’s taken. I would love to help you take some steps towards anything that you want to do this year – whether that’s fitness, career, travel. Do get in touch to arrange a chat about how that works. I really do know that you can do it.

As always I would love to hear how you’re doing your dreams – what steps you’re taking and how it’s making you feel. If you would like to share your story, or nominate someone who’s inspired you to feature on the blog, let me know.

Cultivating Creativity

I was one of 7 nervous faces sitting round a kitchen table. There were notebooks of varying shapes and sizes and a random assortment of pens. I have arrived at a creative writing course to learn how to “Banish the Blank Page”.

I’m not writing this post to announce my forthcoming literary masterpiece, but to share my unexpected learnings from the day.

Observation is the key to creativity in any discipline (whether music, art or literature). Inspiration comes from getting out there and finding it, of tuning in to your environment to see the beauty there. You can’t think anything into creation.

Practice is everything. If you want to write, find time in your day to write (and there is enough time). It doesn’t have to be a long time. Most of the exercises we did were no longer than 15 minutes but by consistent practice, your writing will improve and you will get better at finding the time. To quote Marcel Moyse from “De le Sonorite”, his method for developing flute playing: “It is all a question of time, patience and intelligent work”

Don’t try and make it perfect. It’s rare that the first draft of anything is the final offering, but there always has to be a first draft. Experiment and see what happens, enjoy the evolution and build up a back catalogue of outtakes to mark your improvement.

Seek feedback from other people. We are our own worst critic and it’s unlikely that you will say anything favourable about your own work. If you can find a tutor or a trusted circle of friends (This is known as workshopping in the literary world.) you will get some fair feedback. Learn to be a critic – this isn’t to belittle your or your competitors’ efforts, but to learn from them: why does that phrase work? Why don’t I believe in that character?

At the end of the day do I find myself transformed into a creative writer? Probably not, at least not right now and not without a lot more practice.

So was the day wasted? No, everything I learnt can be applied to help me move forward in doing my dreams.

Finding like-minded people, seeking inspiration and trying things out are all the ingredients for success. Giving something a go takes away that nervous face, replacing it with a confident smile.

Leave a comment if you’ve had a similar experience of trying something new, or practising till you get it right. 

I attended “Banish the Blank Page” with Melanie Whipman, You can find out about her and other creative writing courses here.


It’s almost 2 weeks into the new year and already the posts that promise a “New You for the New Year in 6 easy steps” are fading to the bottom of the social media news pile. Add to that the increasing pile of anti-new-year-resolutions posts and it almost feels as if we should simply pick up where we left off in a fug of mulled wine and mince pies sometime in mid-December. After all, if we believe everything that’s written we’re doomed to failure even if we do buck the trend and make some resolutions. And so we resolve not to resolve.

This is all good. We are enough exactly as we are right now. We can commit to change at any time if that’s what we want and need.

Although I’m going to give New Year’s Resolutions a final hurrah. Right now, in the depths of winter is a great time to start something.

Firstly there’s often a break in routine over Christmas – and whether we view this positively or negatively – it gives us a chance to take a step back and review where we’re at. You may do this consciously or it may happen somewhere deep in the subconscious. Have you loved spending time with your family? Are you looking forward to going back to work? Did you enjoy your Boxing Day walk? Whatever brought you joy and made you feel alive is the start of identifying what you need more of in your life. If there were things that filled you with tension then find a way to do less of these over the coming months.

Secondly let’s look at the word resolution to mean a firm decision to do or not do something; or the action of solving a problem or contentious matter. So what do you want to decide to do or not this year? What is the problem you see in your life that by “solving” would give you a lighter, happier day?

And finally, what to do about it, once you have your resolution? It’s a new year so there’s enough time to resolve without over committing to a short term deadline. Give yourself time to really imagine what life will be like once you’re living your decision; problem solved. (Yes, this is day dreaming) And only once you’ve got that picture can you start doing the things to get you there.  It could be a big leap – quitting you job – or it could be smaller steps – a regular lunchtime walk or an evening class. The trick to make it stick is to do those things that make you come alive when you’re doing them. Don’t focus on the end goal all the time. Enjoy the journey, you’ll make it to your destination quicker and with a smile on your face.

What are your next steps? What are you finding hard to start? I’d love to hear about it on my Facebook page. If you need a helping hand, get in touch for information on 1:1 coaching to help you start doing your dreams