Random Acts of Kindness..

A Pleasant Surprise

Last week we explored the topic of Random Acts of Kindness. There is now an official day 17th February in which individuals are encouraged to carry out these small acts and this is lovely but it got me thinking ..

Why do we need a day in which to practise kindness? Should we not be practising kindness on a daily basis without thought of repayment or agenda?

As I explored the world of the web in search of these recorded acts what I noticed was that we are hit so much more frequently with acts of cruelty.. everywhere on every news page there are headlines of terrible things which have been done to others. Yes there have been some natural disasters and some tragic accidents but on  the main we are looking at a web filled with hate stories.  It can appear as if we are inherently bad .. the world seems very small and a very scary place with no escape from the atrocities which have occurred.

Is it really then any surprise when people are taken aback from kindness from others?

Human beings seem programmed now to expect the worst from others and step back and take stock when someone does something just good. I recalled in my FB Live how I went into a well known coffee shop and simply because I looked up from my phone and I wasn’t deaf to their words ( no headphones) – I actually made some small talk and I smiled that I got a free coffee.. they were surprised by my kindness and manners and I was equally surprised by their generosity.

People spoke of how individuals were surprised if eye contact was made in the street – some thought is a pre curser to being attacked … and yet  as I searched through the stories I saw that actually faith perhaps could be restored – there were stories of providing help for the homeless , of work done for charities by those being treated or effected by life changing conditions , volunteering and communities coming  together . I noticed that in stories of dreadful tragedy underneath there were the aftermath stories of the people who supported each other and would not be broken.

And it occurred to me that many of these are done without agenda and without need for sharing – just because .. On the other hand one of my listeners raised the point of why we have so many people wanting to share terrible events. For me the answers are two fold – firstly we should admit that we look for drama to read – and drama sells – we only need to look at how the talent shows all seem to be based on the X-Factor story – the worse the story and background the more people route for them. However I also believe that people share for genuine reasons – to share their story to help others and show that people can overcome and that people are not alone in their struggles.

So I guess my closing comments are that you can look beyond the bad things , you can find those acts of true kindness and remember that a small act of kindness can truly make a change in someone’s life – don’t wait until next February 17th before you act.

Have a blessed and mindful week . Ali x

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Stressed and Overwhelmed

It can happen to us all …. 

If last week saw me feeling like I had lost my mojo a bit, this week saw me heading to totally overwhelm and it was and is time to make some changes.. I was over the moon to have been selected the key speaker for the Tower of London Feminist Fete and yet whilst this should have spurred me on and relit my motivation it seemed to do the exact opposite. I was ignoring the pebbles and the signs that I needed downtime and this week the boulder came along and rolled right over me !

I woke early ( very early ) on Monday morning with a list of things I hadn’t done churning in my mind , things I needed to do .. should do and was behind on .. my morning routine has gone out of the window and I dozed fitfully on and off until the very last minute before needing to wake up my son and get him ready for pre school – all in a quite a brain fog . After one client it seemed the universe had listened because a scheduled photo shoot and a further client all wanted to reschedule .. did I use this time to be uber productive and plough through my list  – study and make notes and plan ?

No I did not ! – I said thank you very much and crawled back to my bed emerging a couple of hours later to binge watch original Will and Grace . I took the day off ! I thought that would be enough … I was so wrong ..

Tuesday came and I had things to do but I still couldn’t shake the feeling of exhaustion and questioned constantly why I was not totally #onit with the projects I have lined up.. and so we are here on Thursday and I am realising that it is not going to be a quick fix and I need to start practising what I am preaching !

I am in overwhelm – the stress that comes when you have loads to do  which should be great but actually leads you to simply wanting to put the duvet over your head.. ( which I did on Monday). And I am right when I say it won’t be fixed over night but I have taken steps which I hope in turn might help you if you are feeling this way ..

Firstly I have asked for help – I have booked meetings with key people such as my uni lecturer , my book coach and my business mentor . I know that meeting with them will be productive in terms of planning and give the confidence boost to see what I have already achieved and can build on.  I bit the bullet with uni and asked for an extension also – I haven’t done that all year but I know that it’s needed and will take some of the pressure off.

I did something else I don’t normally do and I backtracked on a commitment to be at someone’s event – I knew I was already double booked and it would be a mad rush to prep and I made a good choice to make life slightly easier for myself.

I outsourced – I looked through all the meetings and 121 requests and I asked someone I trust to help me do that and take it all over.

I allocated short periods of time to completing some key pieces of work so I felt I had achieved something.

I also gave myself a break on the – ‘I am not exercising enough and I am not getting up early enough ‘ nag that we often have constantly going on – when I could sleep in I have done that . When I have wanted to watch Loose Women because my brain needs a break – I have done that ..

Plus I have unsubscribed to social media groups where I am constantly seeing how productive other people are being .. because that just wasn’t helping!

And today I have looked back over the last few days and I have said actually you have still achieved a lot – you saw all your clients , you found a new home for your community group and a bunch of other stuff that needed to be done ..and everyone is safe and well .. so I have given myself a break again .

Like so many of you I am one person juggling many things and overwhelm is your brains way of saying – this is enough now.. I didn’t listen to those first signs so my brain did it’s job and it upped the stakes until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I know that if I tried to keep going the way I had been I will be on the floor. In our society we see so much pressure to be on point all of the time – with very little downtime. We talk of self care but we pack our schedules with appointments and our self care can become stressful in itself- am I meditating every day , am I prepping the right foods , do I take down time and read the right books .. we can start to self care in a way that is all about achieving and therefore loses the benefit.

I don’t have all the answers and I am not going to plan to stick to a routine that I may not keep but I am going to keep making small changes , be mindful of the messages my body and brain are sending and see where that takes me …

 

Playing By Whose Rules ?

In the ongoing campaign for equal rights are we now having to conform to a new set of rules ?

Slightly different vibe this week but it’s a topic which has been on my mind a lot and will continue to be in the coming months.  I am currently in study mode ( no change there) but I am studying this time a lady known as Leonora Cohen.

Perhaps not as famous as one of her counter parts Emily Pankhurst – Leonora is known as The Tower Suffragette. In February of 1913 Leonora gained access as a visitor to the Tower of London and entered the Jewel House – where she took an iron bar from under her coat and promptly smashed the case containing the The Insignia of the Order of Merit – wrapped around the bar was note explaining that this was to ask for Deeds – Not Words and raise awareness of the ongoing campaign to gain the right to vote for women – something that would take a further 5 years to even start to become legal.

The Suffragettes and the less prominent but just as passionate Suffragists were indeed campaigning for equal voting rights – the chance to have a voice. This movement for equal right and the ongoing Feminist movement continue to this day and of course there has been much in the news recently regarding both gender pay gap and continued sexual harassment of women in the workplace.

I see my self as a feminist . Certainly I am a keen advocate for women to achieve and parts of my business are set up specifically to enable women from all backgrounds to do this But I am also I will admit a little nervous now of the word and I also wonder if my own views are up to date and this has been brought into question all the more by 2 things which may at first not appear linked  – the banning of the board girls in F1 and Darts and the fact that this week I was asked by Historical Royal Palaces to be a lead speaker in their up and coming recreation of the 1909 Feminist Fete – speaking about women achieving , raising confidence and discussing the way the campaign is now being continued in present day.

It is of course an amazing honour to bring my Roar workshop to the Tower of London – and I had a most engaging conversation with Rosanagh from their learning department on the way women in history have been portrayed and treated by the institutions such as the Tower and how we should start to learn their real stories.

So where is the link – well because I, like it seems many women I have spoken to, am baffled by the recent ban on women carrying the board at the events mentioned. For me equality and feminism is also about choice . The right to choose my occupation , the right to be seen as I wish to be seen. For sure educating women about  equal opportunities and allowing them from an early age to understand options can be limitless is vitally important. The right to be heard, the be paid equally and for parents to have childcare options which do not then effect career or pay structure – this all must be addressed.But when we start to dictate what is right when there is no exploitation and there is a clear choice – and we then remove that choice – I feel uncomfortable. I feel as though we are in a society which now wants to have everyone be included but then makes a lot of rules and labels to ensure people then conform to beliefs which are seen to be right. Who decided this wasn’t right , who was offended , who are the They that can make these types of decisions for other people.

I will give another example of where I may be out of touch – I was very happy to take my husbands name and yet a friend was just recently telling me how someone berated her for an archaic system.. which brings me back to choice, if you don’t want to – then don’t but there is almost a unspoken thing which states that there is a right choice and a wrong choice and if you are on the wrong side are you a feminist ? .. and don’t get me started on the recent story of some poor women who asked for ideas for her husbands sandwich’s which she CHOOSES to make daily – and instead of answers such as ham and mustard she got a whole host of opinions about how she must be oppressed , was not working with the sisterhood and what was wrong with her life. Why must we assume that she is oppressed or forced and why can we not just simply accept that women make choices in many aspects of their lives .. some will fit our views and some won’t . Can this woman a feminist ? – I believe she can – others won’t.

Choice was what we wanted – the right to say how we lived our lives and yet now we seem to putting pressure back on ourselves to conform to a new set of rules….   And choice is my point with recent ban. We have removed choice and anyone who disgrees risks being seen as a bit behind the times. Are the women who have helped place the ban feminists or or the women who worked in the industry , strong indpendant women – are they feminists ?

By the way whilst my head may be very much on the chopping board here I will also say  say I find a wolf whistle very flattering – it is isn’t degrading to me and there is a clear difference between harassment and a wolf whistle which  for me brings a smile to my face!  .. btw it appears it is still OK for women to make comments about men ? !

So as a plan my talk for the Tower on the 13th May and I consider the debates I have in my Roar workshops I find myself questioning some of the new rules of the world we live in – where it will go and of course whether I may be at the grand old age of 44.5 already out of touch.  I am looking forward to some lively discussions at the May event and I remain firmly interested in where we shall see future generations heading and in ensuring women can truly be the person they wish to be… and I wonder what Leonora would have thought of the world we live in and whether she would feel we had made progress?