What if you were that spider?

For the last three days, every morning when we’ve gone out to the car to go to school, we’ve found spiders with webs attached to the car.

Dodge the web is now a daily game and this morning my youngest daughter lost and got webbing up her nose!

Walking up the path after dropping them off I noticed one web with a proud little spider sat right in the middle. Rain was glistening off the edges. It was beautiful.

I got to thinking though about us though.

We’ve been talking a little bit about productivity recently and the ‘choose just one thing and do that first’ idea seems to be working really well.

But what if you were a spider and your ‘do one thing’ thing was building your web so you could catch other insects and thereby feed yourself and your family?

And what if, every morning, an hour or so after daylight, giant creatures came blundering into your day, destroying everything you’d so carefully crafted? They might do in gently but still, you’d look around you and see your handiwork lying in tatters. What then?

Would you throw your (eight) arms up in despair and decide that it’s no use, you might as well give up on the web-building business?

Maybe find a new bush to live in and start planning how you can move into honey-making instead? Those bees. They have it so easy. Maybe that’s the role for you?

You and I might but the spiders who live in the plants next to my car? Nope. They seem to prefer to just start again.

And again.

And again.

They know that they are spiders and that’s who they be. Every day.

Who are you? And who will you show up as today? There can only be one you and that’s the person this world needs right now.

So don’t give up. Keep on keeping on. Be you.

 

The “throwing the baby out with the bath water” guide to overwhelm and what to do instead …

We all have them … those days when it all gets too much and, in a bid to get a handle on what’s getting our attention, we go on a rampage.

Unsubscribing here. Blocking there. Leaving groups. Unfollowing the masses.

It can feel massively liberating and, for a time at least, we’re left with quiet and space to just focus on doing our thing. And there’s nothing wrong with that of course. Sometimes it’s just what we need and ties in with the stuff we resolved to stop doing that we talked about on Monday.

It can also be a really superb way to move from worrying to praying.

When you’re being bombarded with messages from every direction, it’s near impossible to just be still and trust.

Marketing messages and sales pitches are cleverly constructed, written for the sole purpose of whipping the reader up into a buying frenzy. I’m not against sales pages of course. That would make me a massive hypocrite.

What I am against is the way some marketers sell to us based on a fear of missing out on the latest greatest new thing, learning, technique or secret.

“What if I don’t do this and, as a result my business, no, my whole world, implodes?!?!?”

We humans hate missing out. I once signed up for a course purely because the sales page promised to reveal a set of questions that the author used every time he wanted to level up in his business. The not knowing was killing me!

But is the answer to really remove ourselves from all lists and social media haunts? That feels a little extreme to me.

What if there were a gentler way?

As a starting point, I had a little play with my inbox today and here’s what I came up with …

  • Email that comes in which you delete without ever reading … unsubscribe.
  • Email that comes in which is from someone who you love to read from time to time … consider setting up a filter to move this automatically to a ‘read soon’ folder.
  • Email that you love to read … read it! 😀

Now what on earth does this have to do with you showing up as you, the person God created you to be?!? Good question!

If you’re constantly in a state of worry, fear or overwhelm, how easy do you think it’s going to be to show up as you and shine your light in the world?

That’s right … not very easy at all! All of it is connected. Take care of the little things and it becomes so, so much easier to show up, all you, all in.

 

 

Everything really is spiritual … even Paul said so.

Paul who? Paul in the bible 🙂 Which I guess means that actually God said it too but it’s always nice to put a face to a name.

Anyway, after thinking yesterday about you being you and what that might really look like, I got to pondering on what that might really, really look like.

In practical terms.

I know I already said that you don’t have to do anything, specifically, and I stand by that. It left me wondering though, what does God think of me being me? And you being you?

And if he really doesn’t need you and me to ‘do’ anything, what should life look like on a day to day basis? (Using the word ‘should’ very loosely of course. You might know already just how much I loathe that particular word!)

And what would you know it, as if by magic (another of those wonderful God-incidences) one of my favourite ideas in the bible popped into my head. (Not word for word, I had to go look it up.)

It’s from Romans 12 (which Paul wrote, hence the subject line of this blog post.)

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:
Take your everyday ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”

It also reminded me of that quote from About Time that I love so much:

“We’re all travelling through time together, every day of our lives,
All we can do is do our best, to relish, this remarkable ride.”

Paul added in the ‘God helping you’ bit of course. But essentially they both say the same thing:

Life is a gift from God. Treasure every moment of it.

God doesn’t need anything from you. He’s giving you the gift of today and if you can embrace it, every part of it, even the seemingly mundane and pointless bits, that’s what makes him smile.

Everything is spiritual. All of it is worship.

As I said yesterday, but it bears repeating:

“Be you. Kind and wonderful and loving you.”

Deal?

 

What’s the deal with mixing faith & business anyway?

It’s a fair question. I mean, it’s not like anyone goes to their local church, chapel or synagogue to get marketing advice.

But maybe that’s part of the problem.

We have this way of putting things in boxes. There’s the box labelled ‘work’, another called ‘family’ and yet another we call ‘faith.’

And yes, sometimes the contents of one spill into another (sometimes with less that favourable consequences – ask any mum who suddenly finds she has a child too poorly to put in the ‘school’ box!) but ultimately, they have their own distinct spaces.

Part of it is for our own sanity. Putting stuff in boxes saves us having to think about every single decision. It’s the weekend so it’s time to do stuff from the ‘family’ box. Nine am Monday? Time for ‘work’ and ‘school’.

But what if we didn’t have any boxes?

What if we kept everything together in one big space and just allowed things to bump into each other randomly?

Sounds kind of messy doesn’t it? Does the thought of it make you feel a little uneasy?

Yep, me too. I rather like that some things stay in their own safe little box.

But you know what?

Sometimes it’s good to play with the stuff that makes us uncomfortable.

I’m not talking big, drastic change like suddenly deciding on a whim to home-school your children so that you can experiment with life without the ‘school’ box.

I’m more about suggesting we loosen the edges a little. Maybe cut a hole in one side of the box and see what happens when we allow play and work to mix a little.

And how about seeing what happens in life if we start introducing God to our ‘work’ box.

What would that look like?

And again … I’m not talking big, bold, drastic change like rolling up to your next client meeting in a ‘I

Instead, it’s about just being you, the ‘made in the image of God’ you and being open to loving people, just because. Not because you have some agenda but because people are fab and because you care.

You have this ability to love because you were loved first and you do not have to stand on a street corner singing ‘Amazing Grace’ in order for the people in your life to know God loves them.

You don’t need to preach at them.

You don’t need to give them Christmas cards with bible verses in them.

You don’t need to ‘do’ anything per se.

Just be you. Kind and loving and wonderful you.

Deal? 🙂

 

 

The one infection you might just love everyone to get …

We’re told to wash our hands and use a tissue and don’t pick your nose and all that jazz because, who wants to spread germs and disease and icky stuff like that?

(And, in case you speak to my dad, please assure him that I agree with all of the above!)

But how cool would it be to spread love and kindness and happiness as easily as my six year old spreads a cold?

I went to see About Time with my husband again yesterday. I loved it so much when we saw it 6 days ago, I told him I just had to see it again. (It was so good, I’d watch it again today but I’ve already promised him I’d not make him come with me a third time and I don’t really want to go on my own!)

One of the takeaways from the first time I watched it was this idea of making the most of every moment. Keeping your eyes open for the things in any and every day that can put a smile on your face.

But yesterday I noticed something I missed the first time round. Something important …

When the lead character Tim decided to (in his words) “relish the remarkable ride” that is daily life, he didn’t just make his day to day life happier.

He improved the lives of the people around him.

His children, his wife, co-workers, random people serving him, his clients. Everyone had a sparkle of sunshine in their day, all because he chose to see it and grab a hold of it and enjoy it.

When you and I make a decision to see the good things, or the funny things, or the daft things … any thing that brings some light to our day, we too are in serious danger of infecting the people around us with light and happiness and wonder and joy.

When you and I choose to grab onto the wonder that is God working, when we really step into and own what it means to be his child, his work of art, his creation, it can not help but spread and infect and touch the lives of the people around us.

What if it’s not about trying to love more? What if it’s not about trying to be happy? What if it’s not about a big effort to remember? What if it’s not about striving?

What if it’s simply about showing up, each and every day, with our eyes wide open to see (and hear and smell and taste) the little glimmers of light that God brings into our day to day lives?

If we really lived that kind of life, we wouldn’t need to strive or try and remember or ask God to help us love, it would all just come fizzing over the top, like a bottle of pop that’s been shaken up.

Messy and sticky and getting into and onto everything!

Sounds rather fun to me 😉

What’s your absolute favourite way? Try that.

Happy Labour Day! OK, so we don’t celebrate it here in the UK but it’s just 2 days until the children start back so there’s still something of a holiday feel in the air.

And you’re probably busy having a bbq with friends and family so I’m keeping this short but I couldn’t help thinking about something I said in that email about last week’s party …

Sharing with you in group calls is my absolute favourite way to play. I adore it!

And so today, as you spend your day with family and friends, having fun, laughing, enjoying the end of summer, I challenge you to consider which parts of the fun of summer you can bring forward into the new school year.

What is your absolute favourite thing? Or way of doing something?

Can you bring more of that into your day to day life, even after the holiday period is over?

It might take some imagination on your part but personally, I believe the best way to build a business you love is to do as much of the stuff that makes you smile as is humanly possible.

Find your absolute favourite way. And do that.

 

What’s your core? (And no, I don’t mean your abs!)

One of the benefits of having youngish children is I get to see films like Monsters University and The Smurfs without needing to borrow random children to take with me. Don’t tell anyone but I’ve now seen Rise of the Guardians twice – it’s fab!

And it was the second time I watched it that I cottoned onto this idea of our core. At his core, Santa was about wonder. The Easter Bunny’s core was hope. And Jack Frost? His was fun.

And so this week, as we think about how to bring more delight into our day to day lives, I ask you … what’s at your core? What makes you, you?

Or another way to think about it … Imagine you’re a bottle of fizzy pop. If someone gives you a good old shake, what comes bubbling out the top?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about always being brilliant when stressed. I’d love to be someone who always has a smile on her face and speaks gentle words of encouragement when the kids are being a pain in the arse but that’s not my reality and I’d be lying if I suggested otherwise.

In the time it took me to write this email, I moaned at the children twice and pretended not to hear three minor squabbles in the hope that they’ll fix the strife themselves. Sometimes I’m a right grumpy old so and so. But I do aspire to better and that’s something at least eh 😉

I read a quote yesterday that said, “Success can heal us. It just amplifies who we are.”

The implication is that if we’re generally nice and kind and lovely, being successful will make us more nice and kind and lovely.

If we’re generally a bit mean and nasty, that will only be increased as we get more successful. (How you define ‘success’ is a whole other conversation of course.)

Understand though that I said ‘generally’. No one is nice and kind and lovely all of the time. It’s who you are ‘generally’ or most of the time that makes up your core.

God says that you’re his child, his work of art, someone that he loves so much, he’ll do anything to be with you. That’s a good place to start when thinking about who you are.

But what about if you want to get more specific? I mean, the picture God painted me to be looks different to the work of art that is you so it stands to reason that we should be able to dig a little to get an answer. So what if it’s about starting to notice?

Who are you and what do you want to stand for? Who do you choose to be in the world? What does you shining at your brightest look like?

You might not get a one word core like Santa, Jack Frost and the Easter Bunny but if you look at this with a sense of exploration and interest, you might be surprised with what you do come up with.

Give it a go and let me know what you come up with.

 

What if stopping and doing less actually meant you’d grow more?

Did you ever do that thing where you take a step back and sort of look at your life from a bit of distance, like an impartial observer?

In the ongoing saga that is the summer break with the children home, I started to observe a bit of a pattern. And it wasn’t a pattern that was making me smile particularly so today I decided to try things a little differently.

But first, the pattern.

In a bid to get anything done, I’d gotten into the habit of working first thing in the morning, in my pyjamas with a cup of tea, before breakfast or anything. Nothing wrong with that you might think.

But what if ‘early morning first thing’ stretched to 10 or 11am? And before you know it, it’s noon and no one is even dressed yet?

Part of me loves the entrepreneurial stereotype of working in your PJs but if I’m honest, a bigger part of me likes to be fresh faced, showered and feeling fab. I also don’t like working on an empty tummy!

So this morning I got up, chatted with my youngest about whatever empire he was building that day, made a cuppa, shower, breakfast with the children, coffee. All very civilised and relaxed and, totally stress free.

It was lush!

And yes, it means I’m slightly later to my desk and yes, I’ve not crossed off a plethora of to-dos yet but you know what? It’s only 10am and the day already feels fabulous!

I was reminded yesterday of the need to take time to stop and look around and really appreciate what’s good about life.

It’s great to have dreams and ambitions. I talk to you often about this amazing person God created you to be.

But you know what? He made you to just be you, on a day to day basis. He doesn’t need you rushing around, constantly pushing and striving. (And yes, I’m talking to myself as much as anything!)

If it’s all about the destination, you’re going to miss the joy of the journey.

So today, take time to just be.

Take a step back, observe. Be interested. Keep your eyes open.

As Ferris Bueller would remind us,

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Here’s to keeping our eyes, wide open with wonder.

 

Lessons on life from the little blue creatures …

And nope, I don’t mean Doctor Who and his blue box. Although, that would be cool!

So on Friday, the children and I went to see the internationally acclaimed Smurfs 2. If you’re not familiar with its predecessor, fear not …

I totally couldn’t remember what happened last time and it did not matter one bit!

One of the things I love most about watching children’s films (other than the popcorn and adult humour that goes waaay over the heads of my three) is the little nuggets of wisdom they throw out.

Usually the life lessons are tacked onto the closing scenes but not this time. Within 10 minutes or so, Papa Smurf, in all his Father Christmas-like grandeur delivered the line:

“It doesn’t matter where you come from. What’s important is who you choose to be.”

Legend!

I, of course, grabbed for my phone and wrote a quick note (I’ve learned, the hard way, just how unreliable my memory is!) because it reminded me of something I started thinking about last week.

Do you remember the Joel Osteen quote?

“Whatever follows ‘I am’ is going to come looking for you.”

And I encouraged you to step into some God-penned I ams and use those to power your day.

Well the other thing I was thinking about is this idea of choosing who we are.

A few years back, when Heaven & El had a different look (and a far less clearly defined purpose) I coined the title ‘Hostess of Happiness’. It was my chosen I am.

And it was so strong an identity for me that, even on the days when I was feeling a bit blue (no pun intended!) it didn’t last long because I am the Hostess of Happiness and it’s kind of a given that smiles come with the role.

So, who are you? Who God sees you as is part of it of course, because he sees you as some pretty wonderful things.

But, it’s equally as important for you to decide who you choose to be.

Because one thing is certain … if you don’t choose, someone is going to choose for you.

And it’s far more empowering and motivating to choose, and then step into and own that person, whoever she may be.

You game?