Happy New Year!
In the words of Nina Simone “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life…..and I’m feeling good”.
However you’re feeling today after last night’s festivities it’s likely that your thoughts are turning to self-care and looking after yourself in the New Year. You might even be planning on getting involved in Dry January or Veganuary.
Maybe you indulged in a little too much prosecco at midnight or the New Year’s Eve buffet totally ruined all of your plans to ‘be good’. I know that I’m a sucker for a table groaning with party food and nibbles even though I know they’re no good for me.
Last night my partner and I enjoyed a couple of glasses of prosecco, a take away curry and we’re going hiking today. Something that we both enjoy for both our physical and mental health all year around but it’s become a bit of a New Year’s Day tradition as well.
I start every New Year with a plan to sort out my diet and exercise once and for all. This year is a little different, I started early. I decided to get a grip on my diet and exercise way back in September, using the new school year as my New Year to give me a head start. It meant that by the time New Year really did arrive, I’d lost the weight and was fit enough to have a little bit of a break over the festive season. What it doesn’t mean though is that I went completely mad.
Long gone are the years of waking up with a fuzzy head and full feeling from over-indulging the night before. These days I much prefer the feeling of waking up with a clear head and looking forward to my breakfast before embracing the day ahead. But it’s taken a while to make that change.
What I’ve done, and what I do every time I want to change some facet of my life, is break it all down into small daily steps rather than trying to tackle it all at once when I am bound to give up because all seems a little bit too overwhelming.
So today, rather than focusing on what you’re going to give up, why not think about what you’re going to start doing? Think about the foods you’re going to eat rather than those you’re not going to eat. Think about the drinks you’ll enjoy rather than those you’ll miss.
My focus for January is on my own health and wellbeing which includes my mental health which is equally as important as physical health and I’ll be using my own downloads to help me do that. You can get the free downloads from my private Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/realwomenrealliferealrelationships
I wish you a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2021 and success in Creating your Blockbuster Life and here’s a link to Nina Simone for a little inspiration.
Today is 4th October 2020. 17 years ago today I got married for the second time. We were blessed with a warm, crisp and sunny Autumn day and were surrounded by family and friends in the small country house hotel we had exclusive use of for the event.
Little did I know then what experiences that marriage would bring me. I’d been married before to a physically and sexually abusive man who had beat me up for the first time on our wedding night. I was adamant that my second marriage would be for life.
My husband had quite literally swept me off my feet, carrying me in his arms on our first date when I had my leg in plaster and we had to climb some stairs. He was tall, dark and handsome and that gesture won many smiles, comments and claps of approval as he showed all onlookers that he would look after his woman.
Less than 2 years into our marriage and I was feeling that something wasn’t quite right. It would be another 2 years before I left, a shell of the woman I used to be.
At first, I shrugged off his somewhat insensitive comments about my appearance, how he would belittle me in public or treat me with complete disrespect. I thought that I must be mishearing his outdated and misogynistic comments about women being second class citizens and belonging in the kitchen or the bedroom. And when I challenged him about it he would tell me I should be grateful that he didn’t beat me like my first husband had. What’s worse is that I actually agreed with him. Over time I had been indoctrinated to believe that he was right, I was wrong and that I couldn’t cope with day to day life without him guiding me.
When he sold our house without telling me and bought a new house, 30 miles away in the middle of nowhere, far from anyone we knew, I trusted him when he said it was only a temporary measure and if I was that unhappy we could move back. I trusted him when he told me that I was an alcoholic and needed help, standing over me as I called AA in tears, because I drank one glass of wine per night and on the nights I didn’t pour my own, he would pour me a large vodka and tonic, telling me ‘I needed one’. I believe him when he told me that I was incapable of looking after our son because I’d never had children before and didn’t know what to do. I believed him when he dissuaded me from cuddling our son because it would lead to attachment issues. And I believed him when he told me that him taking family photos or videos and leaving me just out of shot was accidental. All the while I was trying to keep a business afloat and a roof over our head because he wasn’t working.
When I left, I left our son with him and I believed that was the right thing to do. I also believed that I would be free of what I now know was psychological abuse or coercive control.
How wrong I was. That was just the start. The 12 years that have followed have been the years that I have had to pay emotionally, financially and metaphorically for having the audacity to leave him. And they have been far, far harder than the years I was married to him. Two lengthy and expensive court battles to prove that I was fit to be the resident carer of my son were the least of it. The staggering attempts at parental alienation to discredit me in front of my son, the social services and anyone else who would listen. The pursuit of my destruction, whatever it takes, to prove that everything he said and believed about me was right.
The two attempts to take my own life because I couldn’t take the abuse any more were long after I’d left him. I’d reached the end of my tether and I’d run out of energy to carry on fighting. Watching his father take metaphorical pieces out of me was damaging my son and I wasn’t prepared to put him through anymore. Thankfully, I didn’t succeed in my attempts but I was far from out of the woods and headed down some dark and dangerous paths before eventually I was fortunate to find a fantastic therapist adept at working with survivors of abuse. I met a partner who had first known me long before I met my second husband and who supported me in working through the abuse I had endured in both marriages and a subsequent financially abusive relationship.
Working through everything I’d endured gave me strength I didn’t know I had, it helped me to re-evaluate my life and redefine my relationships not just with myself but with my partner and my son who now lives with me. It gave me the courage to believe in myself and embark on a six-year psychology and counselling degree with the Open University. It opened new doors of opportunity for me as my self-belief, self-confidence and self-esteem returned. It made me determined that I would do whatever I could to try and ensure no-one else, regardless of gender, ended up an abusive relationship.
That’s a huge undertaking. There will always be those who abuse others. But if sharing my experiences and learning helps just a few more people, who go on to help others by modelling strong, healthy and robust relationships, then it will all have been worth it.
Change is scary, leaving your abuser is scary, the abuse never stops it just changes. It’s how you respond to those changes that matter. I still get ‘abuse’ every day, these days it’s usually sad attempts to discredit and belittle me in front of my son. I spend many days worrying about when ‘pay back’ is going to happen but these days I know I’m strong. I can take on any of the attacks that are coming because now I have a solid foundation built on trust, love and self-respect; all of the values that eluded me in my marriage.
Now I truly am FREE.
To help me share my story and give hope to millions of domestic abuse sufferers and survivors around the world please register to hear me speak at the Introbiz Global Summit alongside greats such as Les Brown, Brian Tracy, Sharon Lechter, Rob Moore, Lisa Johnson.
To learn more about my work please register for my FREE live training, 5 Days to Redefine your Relationships
Or join me in this workshop ‘From Surviving to Thriving’ on 19th November which I’m hosting with Suzanne Smart of Positive Imprint and Rachel Earing of Live 4 Energy.
The first mile of any run I do is the hardest. It’s the time when I’m most likely to turn around and head home. Why?
It’s the time I need to find my pace, my stride, my groove. I need to give my lungs, my legs, my arms and my feet time to adjust to the shock of getting out of bed and into the cool morning air. And I need to tune in to the voices of my running coaches, mentors and physio; “breathe 2, 3, 4” “pockets to socket” “lengthen your stride” “lift your feet” “engage your glutes” “engage, engage, engage”.
Running to train for an event (half marathon in my case) isn’t as easy as just simply running. I need to train to ensure I can go the distance without injury or damage.
And relationships are like that too. We start off a little apprehensive until we find our groove and then we settle into it. But what happens when we receive an injury or some damage? Life throws us curve balls all the time and how we respond to them can determine the longevity, or not, of our relationships.
Asking for help from a Relationships Expert isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you want to go the distance and have strategies in place to keep you strong and able to withstand the curve balls.
It’s knowing that even when you have to run up a hill, as long as you keep running, no matter how slow, you’ll get to the top and then it gets comfortable again. It’s about remembering what you’ve learned so that you don’t cause yourself an injury and it’s about applying those lessons, time after time after time.
If you really want to go the distance, an expert, coach or mentor is worth the initial discomfort.
The first mile really is the hardest.
Join my FREE Live Training for help to get beyond the first mile: 5 Days to Redefine your Relationship. Register here.
If the answer is “Yes” then I’ve got news for you. You’ve been spun a thousand yarns about what relationships should be like when the reality is far from Hollywood, Disney and Fairy Tales.
Far too many of us of a certain age, grew up with the subliminal expectation of being rescued by a knight on a white charger, and when that happened life would be perfect and we would live happily ever after. So all we had to do was act like a princess and wait for our prince.
Did that happen? I’m guessing that it probably didn’t.
So why is that?
REAL Relationships aren’t perfect, they don’t have you disappearing into the sunset every evening to live a blissful, satisfied and perfect life.
REAL Relationships are messy and dark and dirty.
REAL Relationships are fun, fabulous and flirty.
REAL Relationships take hard work and effort, and that includes compromise from both parties which is usually when arguments happen as couples try to work out the middle-ground that they’re both happy with.
REAL Relationships toss and turn with all that life throws at them; illness, financial instability, pandemics, job changes, job losses.
REAL Relationships are strong, healthy and robust enough to cope with the twists and turns of life.
REAL Relationships ebb and flow like the tide with each partner unnoticeably taking turns to take responsibility, take control, look after each other.
In a REAL Relationship that is strong, healthy and robust the ebbs and flows, twists and turns of life are just events that are overcome, some more easily than others, but never with a fear that the relationship is about to end.
Is yours a REAL Relationship or are you still hoping for your Hollywood romance?
How often have you met someone who seemed perfectly lovely but left you walking away thinking ‘They seemed very nice but, I’m not sure, there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on’?
And how often do you ignore that feeling?
I can think of at least four occasions where I felt like that, ignored the feeling and it cost me dear. Twice it happened to me in business and in relationships I ignored that niggling doubt because so many other people were happy to associate with the individuals involved, so I carried on and just hoped that the feeling would go away, thinking ‘it’s just me’. The feeling didn’t go away and unfortunately, years afterwards I was proven right each time. I write about the impact of ignoring my gut instinct and suppressing my authentic self in my books (available here).
I’ve learned the hard way that when you get that niggling doubt about someone, no matter how lovely they may appear, it is usually because they are not acting with integrity or they are not being their authentic selves. It could be said that they are hiding behind a mask.
Many of us wear masks in our daily life, we’re not the same person in work as we are at home and vice versa. I’m not advocating that we should all go around wearing our heart on our sleeves and spewing forth all of our innermost thoughts or secrets to everyone we meet, unless of course you choose to do that and are entirely comfortable with doing so. Most people are not and that’s perfectly fine.
The term ‘authenticity’ has been bandied around personal development and coaching circles for a long time and it is no longer as effective as it once was. Many people now believe that if someone has to tell you they are being authentic, then the likelihood is, they are not. Just as many people start a sentence with “no offence” when they’re about to say something offensive, when someone tells you they are authentic it is often because they are trying to convince themselves that it is true.
It is human nature to present ourselves slightly differently in different environments. We wouldn’t turn up at the office in the same mindset as when we’re relaxing at home on a weekend. That doesn’t mean we are being inauthentic it just shows that we are aware of the ‘rules of engagement’ in those different settings.
However, what happens if you’re not being authentic in a relationship? What happens if you’re not allowed to be your true self in a relationship? What happens when you find yourself wearing a mask more often than not?
Suppressing your authenticity, or having to suppress your authenticity, for any length of time is detrimental to your mental health. It leads to frustration, resentment and anger and in the worst instances can lead to depression and significant other mental health problems. Hiding your real self behind a mask for a prolonged period of time is also exhausting.
In the work I’ve done with survivors of domestic abuse, very often they have lived in an environment where their real authentic self has been suppressed for a significant length of time and it can take many months or years for them to rediscover their authentic self but when they do, the transformation is incredible.
They report feeling much happier and more content than they have for a long while, they have a confidence and inner strength that makes them seem taller. With further work they go on to develop strong, healthy relationships where their authentic self is not only loved and cherished but allowed to flourish.
You don’t have to be a victim of domestic abuse to suppress your authenticity. There can be many, many reasons for believing no-one wants to know your authentic self.
Whomever and whatever your authentic self truly is, embrace it, enjoy it and bring it to the fore. The right partner will love you in all your authentic quirkiness and recognise that it’s what makes you, you. This applies to all relationships, not just survivors of domestic abuse.
If you need help to rediscover your authentic self why not book a no obligation discovery call with me to see if I can help you? You can book a call here: https://www.notarehearsal.co.uk/apply
I look forward to speaking with you.
You would think by now that I would stop being surprised by the conversations I have. Let’s face it, I’m a Sexpert.
A lot of my conversations revolve around relationships and sex, and quite often they can be pretty explicit. I have no problem with that, sometimes the only way to describe something is to describe it as it is and that often means using language that my clients are comfortable with to save them worrying about any sensitivities I may have.
Sex is sex, it can be beautiful and glorious, romantic and perfect, and equally it can be downright dirty and disgusting, depending upon your particular proclivities.
None of that surprises me.
What does surprise me, however, is the number of clients I work with, and women I speak to, who don’t ask for what they want in the bedroom.
These are women just like you and me.
You ask for what you want in a bar or restaurant, or even when you go shopping. You know what you want to drink or eat, you know what brand you want to buy and you even make a choice over how much you’re prepared to pay for something.
If you’re in business, you ask for the sale and ask for payment. At the top of your career you’ve asked for promotions and pay rises.
Even in a https://amzn.to/3kcLJx0burger chain you ask for your burger, your way.
So why do so many women avoid asking for what they want in the bedroom or in a relationship?
The answers I hear most often are;
“It seems wrong to ask for what I want.”
“ It’s embarrassing to ask for what I want.”
“Women aren’t meant to ask for what they want.”
The over-riding theme is ‘nice girls don’t ask for what they want in the bedroom’.
And I understand that, for so long women have lived under the constraints of a patriarchal society dictating what is and isn’t acceptable and reigning shame on any woman who dared to suggest that she had rights not only in the voting booth but in the bedroom too.
We don’t even have to look to history for examples of this shame. Any woman deemed to be selling herself, leading someone on or just making her sexual desire known is labelled anything from a common whore to a slut or slag, whilst men are allowed to sow their wild oats and enjoy the adulation whilst boasting about their conquests in the bar or club. Men aren’t judged for literally buying sex but women are judged for selling sex.
But this is a weary argument and one that I don’t intend to resurrect right now.
In my opinion, women have a right to ask for what they want, just as men do and the sex industry is nothing more than a service industry with entrepreneurial women using what they own to fulfil a market need. That is the very premise of business. And is another debate for another time.
But therein lies the answer to my question. Women don’t ask for what they want in the bedroom because they have been conditioned to believe it is shameful, dirty and degrading to do so. Yet the quickest and easiest way to get exactly what you want and alleviate feelings of dissatisfaction, un-fulfilment and frustration is to ask for it.
After all, you wouldn’t put up with the wrong meal or wrong coffee every single time you ordered it, you’d ask for it to be changed and served just as you like it.
Asking for what you want in the bedroom or in a relationship is no different. The words and terminology change but all you’re actually asking is for the provider to fulfil a need, just as food fulfils hunger and water satiates thirst.
How do you or your partner know if boundaries have been crossed?
A lot is said about the importance of boundaries. We live our lives within the boundaries of the law, we understand the societal expectations of how we should behave in public spaces, we raise our children with boundaries around bed time and how far they’re allowed to venture on their own. In school we have rules and regulations and likewise in the workplace. So why do so many of us forget about the importance of boundaries within our relationships?
Without putting boundaries in place, we set ourselves and our partner up to fail.
Imagine trying to play a game without knowing the rules? How could you possibly know if you were doing the right thing? How would you know who won?
In entering a relationship and not having a mutual understanding of each other’s boundaries, you are setting the relationship up for failure. That failure may not manifest in a break-up or divorce, but it will manifest some other way. Resentment builds, the couple drifts apart, resentment builds even further, you find fault with each other and start to despise each other, wondering what on earth you even saw in each other in the first place. One or both partners may start to look elsewhere for fulfilment, not just sexual fulfilment but emotional attachments, someone that understands them.
Yes, that classic line ‘my wife doesn’t understand me’ isn’t a cheesy pick-up line used by men just looking for a bit on the side, it’s a plea for attachment and fulfilment that is missing from the relationship and is equally applicable to women as it is men and to heterosexual and same-sex couples.
So, what are your boundaries? If your partner isn’t aware of your boundaries it is unfair to expect them to know when they have crossed them. It’s equally unfair to expect your partner to understand why you are so angry with them when they cross your boundaries, if you haven’t told them what your boundaries are.
Just as we live surrounded by the boundaries of law, rules and regulations with very clear consequences of what happens when those boundaries are crossed, so we need to create those boundaries within our relationships. Think about those little things that really wind you up and start to put boundaries in place to rectify them. It could be something as simple as asking your partner to put their dirty laundry in the laundry basket rather than leaving it in a pile on the floor or it could be that you have an open relationship but the boundaries have been crossed.
Whatever your boundaries, share them with your partner. When you both know and abide by the same rules of engagement can you have a truly equal relationship.
Book a call with me if you’re struggling with having a conversation around boundaries or if you need help to work through boundaries that have been crossed.
Book a call before you end up in the divorce courts. Let’s work out what’s not working in your relationship and why and create an action plan to get it back on track.
I know that’s quite a forward question to be asking, particularly if we haven’t yet met or spoken but it’s something I’m interested to know. How kinky are you in your relationship?
A general definition of the term ‘kinky’ refers to anything that is quirky, a bit different, offbeat but more usually this refers to sexual acts or practices that are seen as weird or odd. For example, many would consider a foot fetish to be kinky but to others that is perfectly normal. Many people believed E L James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” Trilogy promoted kinky sex but many others found it just too tame and ‘vanilla’.
From my point of view kink is a perfectly acceptable part of any consensual relationship and kinks are as wide and varied as us humans. As long as both parties are comfortable with the kink then that’s absolutely fine.
However, when I ask the question ‘How Kinky are you in your relationship?’ I’m not actually talking about sexual kinks here. When I’m coaching I use the acronym KINKY to identify areas to work on when establishing or re-establishing a robust, healthy relationship. Here’s what the acronym stands for;
Kindness – how kind are you to your partner?
Interested & Interesting – how interested are you in your partner and how interesting are you?
Nurturing – how do you nurture your partner and your relationship?
Keen – how keen are you in your relationship?
Yourself – how much of yourself do you bring to your relationship?
These may seem really simple questions at first glance but delve a little deeper into the world of kinky and you’ll be surprised at what comes up – every pun intended!.
Over the coming weeks I will be exploring each of these questions further and elaborating upon them and the impact they have but, in the meantime, I ask again, How Kinky are you in your relationship?
For those of us old enough to remember the furore surrounding the release of the film, and that iconic scene when Mickey Rourke fed Kim Basinger food from the fridge in a manner that sated sexual hunger more than physical hunger, it will have created a desire for adult relationships that are far from the reality of the lived experience of many of us.
Raised on a diet of Disney princesses, fairy tales and happy ever afters and growing up as Thatcher’s children when we were told we could have it all, we left home bright-eyed and bushy-tailed expecting to be the CEO by the time we were 25, have a man as both our equal and our provider and look fabulously fit and perfectly groomed all at the same time.
We also expected our sex lives to be sizzling hot. Our parents had after all lived through the swinging 60’s and the 70’s years of free love. In the 80’s and 90’s we were going to be performing sexual acrobatics, experimenting with all sorts of toys, bondage and aphrodisiacs whilst wearing lingerie that only has one purpose (to be removed) and now, thanks to 9½ weeks we were going to be getting really down and dirty with food too.
How many of us have had one or more foods consumed from our bodies? How many of us have experienced the thrill of an ice cube being traced over our nipples and between our breasts? How many of us have been seductively fed food from the fridge without worrying about the mess it was making on our clothes or the floor? After that, how many of us have had searingly hot sex that left us breathless, sweaty and aching just a little bit in all the right places?
Then our 40’s and 50’s hit us with the speed of an Intercity 125, and a couple of children later, we’ve climbed that corporate ladder, we’re financially secure, we’ve got the house and the car and the only thrill of excitement remotely near what 9½ weeks promised us comes after a period of teasing anticipation when we finally seal the deal, get the client and sign the contract.
We return home, hoping to prolong the excitement, high on the endorphins coursing through our veins and knowing that RIGHT NOW we could be having the most incredible mind-blowing sex, a la Basinger and Rourke only to find our partner slumped in front of the TV in a scene akin to The Simpsons, mug of tea or a beer or wine close at hand, wondering ‘what’s for dinner?’ and ‘where are the kids?’
We roll our eyes, take a sharp intake of breath and burst the bubble, filing away our fantasies and desires for another day wishing they would understand. The harsh truth is, they do and they’re feeling the same about you!
Then we make dinner, load the dishwasher properly, sort out the tangled mess of clothes and dirty underwear in the laundry basket, pour a glass of wine, and before we know it the bottle is empty, the TV is mindlessly churning out the latest detective series and you and your partner have barely spoken all evening. The kids have finished their homework and put themselves to bed and now it’s midnight.
The opportunity for lust-fuelled sex with the one we promised to love and honour, ‘til death do us part’ has passed and we fall into bed, ready to repeat it all again the next day, and the next and the next, like some sort of Groundhog day, a film not known for fuelling wild sexual fantasies.
But it doesn’t have to be like this, it is possible to have a seriously sensual, loving and orgasmic relationship with your partner, regardless how long it’s been since those days were the norm and it’s possible to get that back, in as little as 9½ weeks.
So, what have you done in the past 9½ weeks? What are the next 9½ weeks going to look like, feel like, sound like or taste like?
If you’d like to get your best relationship ever in the next 9½ weeks book a call with me here and let’s find your sexy.
Many of us are often told we look like or resemble famous people. Over the years I’ve been told I look like Sigourney Weaver, a young Helen Mirren and Tori Amos (that’s definitely the hair colour!) at the time I recall feeling embarrassed by the likenesses. Who was I to be likened to such amazing glamorous and talented women?
It took a very long time for me to accept compliments without telling the compliment-giver that they were mad, wrong or blind!
As I’ve got older I’ve learned that my difficulty in accepting compliments stemmed from the poor relationship I had with myself.
How many of us treat ourselves in ways we would never treat friends, family or loved ones? The negative self-talk; “you’re so stupid” “you’re so ugly, no-one will ever want you” “you’re so fat” “no-one’s going to want to listen to what you have to say” and so it goes on.
And as we get older that negative self-talk batters our confidence and self-esteem and we end up in relationships that just reinforce our messaging.
A healthy and robust relationship starts with the relationship with have with ourselves. Only when we recognise our own self-worth can we let others know what is and isn’t acceptable to us in intimate relationships.
More often than not, relationship problems start long before there’s a problem in the actual relationship and I work with many clients to help them create a strong, healthy and robust relationship with themselves so they can create strong, healthy and robust relationships with others. Learning to take a compliment is often one of the things we cover.
How do you handle compliments? How do you feel when someone tells you that you remind them of someone famous?
Nowadays I love the fact that I remind people of Sigourney, Tori or Helen. Strong, successful, talented women who look gorgeous too. Thank you, I’ll take that!