‘This is my real life’ collected

Over the eight days, I’ve posted daily as part of the ‘This
is my real life’ idea that I had.  The
purpose was to share a bit more about me, what I do, what the A Life Of One’s Own vision and
philosophy is.  There have been
suggestions of things to try and prompts for reflection along the way.  

Now it’s all over, I figured it was probably useful to have
all the links gathered in one place for anyone wishing to come back to them or
for any new readers looking for an introduction to A Life Of One’s Own.  So here
they are!

Thursday
28th January 2016 – introduction: This is my real life: a week of
sharing.

Thursday
28th January 2016: My favourite mug

Friday
29th January 2016: Why you should always carry stamps

Saturday
30th January 2016: Now wash your hands

Sunday
31st January 2016: Just empty the bins

Monday
1st February 2016: A Life Of
One’s Own
: philosophy & manifesto

Tuesday
2nd February 2016: You’re the adult now.  You get to make the rules.

Wednesday
3rd February 2016: Redeeming the ‘know yourself better’ personality
quiz (possibly)

Thursday
4th February 2016 – conclusion: Reflections on ‘This is my real life’
week

Thanks for reading along with any or all of these.  Do let me know what you think – have you been
inspired or gained insight from any of the ideas and suggestions?  There’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or
the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page – or you can email (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).

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Reflections on ‘This is my real life’ week

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read other posts in this series, simply scroll down past this one.

Whilst applying my face cream on Saturday night (a beloved
pre-bed ritual), I began to reflect on the whole ‘This
is my real life’
project despite only being a few days into the weeklong
endeavour.  

By that stage, the effort to post more on social media had
already ebbed away; too intrusive for me and others in my life, too
time-consuming and too much of a strain on my natural reticence – a trait that
always surprises me about myself.  

I may not be shy, and may choose to reveal some things in
the virtual or actual world that would horrify others, but I have my own
particular boundaries.  Even with my
friends, there is much that I keep to myself, motivated at times by a sheer
sense of privacy more than embarrassment, shame or a desire to project a
particular self-image.  In this sense,
there is no real divide between my online and offline self, a realisation that
somewhat assuaged the need to post more anyway.

As a result, although I didn’t continue with ‘This is my
real life’ in the ‘bare all’ way that I’d initially imagined, I was not unduly
concerned by the change of course.  I realised
that my usual level of sharing on social media is about as much as I am
comfortable with (though I could, and will, make more use of the simple ways to
post across multiple platforms more than I did, rather than sticking largely to
Instagram, where I feel most at home).  What
I share is my real life, at the level I feel happy to disclose to a potentially
unlimited and unknown audience – or even to the digital communities I do
know.  

Furthermore, time and the actual act of living make it
impossible to truly share every single aspect of our worlds.  Necessity if not desire means we post
selectively.  We all have to make choices
about what to broadcast or not; I cannot continue to write this blog entry if I
now also want to photograph it and pop that picture on IG #writing #creativity
#irony #lol (had to add that last one as I did just get the giggles at my own
hashtag mockery, despite being guilty of #blessed-esqueness myself).  

That said, the experiment did teach me to be less afraid of
sharing the non-shiny and the non-glamorous.
I did post about the imperfect, the undone, the unfinished, and the
response was so positive.  Even when the
consciously ‘This is my real life’ social media diminished, an unexpected death
knocked the wind out of my sails, and I allowed a vulnerable edge to my sharing
which I probably would have hidden away before.

This lesson is not just relevant to me, but to others who
use these image and micro-blogging sites too: there is a receptivity to more
honest depictions of our lives.  We don’t
have to style and edit and filter in order to connect and engage; showing up as
who we and our lives really are encourages genuine connection and
engagement.  Too much composure can be
intimidating.  

And what about the daily blog post side of ‘This is my real
life’?

My response to this has been far more straightforward.  It was demanding on my time and mental
energies, impossible without weekends, the schedule button, flexibility in my
working arrangements (not having a daily commute made it much easier to get to
my desk early in order to produce the extra content I suddenly found I needed
when seized with the idea for the project).

And I’ve loved it.
I’ve loved the challenge of generating new ideas in quick succession (I
did draft a plan last Thursday but that was soon abandoned in favour of
following inspiration).

I’ve loved the challenge of seeing if I could write more
words and more quickly – and finding that I managed both.  

I even loved the challenge of putting myself out there and
finally sharing explicitly what the
A Life Of One’s Own vision
is; I
was scared, but in a good way – the way that feels like growth, like your
comfort zone is being stretched just that little bit further.

Overall ‘This is my real life’ has shown me that whilst my
life is in no way perfect, it is so good so much of the time; even when
unexpected difficulties and upsets come along, there are joys, treasures and
hope.  

This goodness is as much rooted in the everyday and ordinary
as it is the more obviously exciting and glamorous occasions.  

This goodness is thanks to a combination of both good
fortune and ongoing efforts on my part to explore, experiment and craft a life
of my own – efforts which are inextricably linked with A Life Of One’s Own.  I would
love to work with you to support and encourage you to likewise create such joy
and contentment – to create a life of your own too.

In honour of this,
I’ve decided to keep registration for my
2016 coaching packages open for a week longer than previously stated
– you can now sign up for one of the six options until Monday 8th
February.  All the details are
over here.

Thank you for reading along and sharing back with me over
the last week.

Redeeming the ‘Know Yourself Better’ personality quiz (possibly)

  • The quiz pictured is genuinely from a women’s magazine – an early 1970s publication with the unfortunate title Candida (if you’d like to know more about it, ask!  It’s a pet research project of mine).

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read other posts in this series, simply scroll down past this one.

 As a tween and teen, I was a massive fan of the personality
quizzes that periodically showed up in girls’ and women’s magazines.  I’m not talking Myers Briggs or anything that
sophisticated; I mean the pop-psychology ‘What kind of indie chick are you?’
variety.  The most basic were a simple
flow diagram, just yes or no, but more common was the multiple choice question.  Usually the responses were grouped ‘Mainly As’
and so on, but occasionally you were required to score each answer individually
to find out your result.  I liked these
ones the most, lured by the implication that the end revelation would be worth
the extra effort.   It never was.
Considering I clearly remember shampoo advertising jingles from the
early 1990s, as
discussed in yesterday’s post
, the fact that I can’t recall any personality
quiz results from the decade that followed is probably testament to how inane
they were.

Of course you know what’s coming next, don’t you?!

A quiz!

Insert major caveat: I offer no promise that these questions
will help to classify or decode your personality.  There aren’t even any results to conform to
(surely I’m not the only person who manipulated their answers to fit the
description they most liked the sound of at the end?).  

Instead this ten question quiz offers some binary options
for you to reflect upon to whatever level you wish (they could be great journal
prompts).  It can be fun to discuss the
choices with another person (a version of this is a common ice-breaker game, a
good way of highlighting similarities and differences within a group).  You may subvert the whole format, insisting
that you value both equally – or even rejecting the two offered in favour of
another option altogether!

The goal? Simply to reflect upon your own whims and idiosyncrasies.  We all have our own particular ways of
looking at the world and navigating our way through it; to become more
conscious of that can provide some useful insights.  

If nothing else, it might help you to recognise your
particular preferences – your specific likes and dislikes, pleasures and
irritations.  Knowing such information
makes it easier to craft a life that integrates the former and minimises the latter.  

As someone who drank blackcurrant squash for thirty-two
years before realising I didn’t actually like it, I can vouch that such
self-awareness can have a profound effect.
Obviously Just Seventeen never
featured ‘Which fruit based cordial most stimulates your tastebuds?’ flow
chart.


The quiz

1.      
Orange squash or blackcurrant?

2.      
Indoors or outdoors?

3.      
Book or film?

4.      
Past or future?

5.      
North or south?

6.      
Home or away?

7.      
Sound or vision?

8.      
Black or white?

9.      
Sweet or savoury?

10.  
Old or new?

Can you think of any similar two-choice questions that I
could add?  I’d love to hear more
suggestions.  You can share with me via Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or
the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page – or you can email (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read other posts in this series, simply scroll down past this one.

You’re the adult now.  You get to make the rules.

image

I’m the adult now.  I get to make the rules.  That includes choosing toiletries.  I also get to make rules.  That includes not having to line them up straight & forward-facing in the cupboard.  Crazy times!


This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read other posts in this series, simply scroll down past this one.


When I was eight years old, I made a decision about my adult
life.  I resolved that when I was a
grown-up, I would by Finesse hair conditioner.
This choice was based purely on the product’s TV advertising
campaign
(‘Sometimes you need a little Finesse, sometimes you need a
lot.  Finesse!’ went the jingle).  It wasn’t targeted at my age group but I was
a rather precocious child so think the aspirational consumerism must have
appealed to me in some way, even if I couldn’t articulate how – thus my decision
to buy it when I was older.  

I guess I could have asked my mum to get a bottle of Finesse
but to be honest that would never have occurred to me.  Toiletry buying was some mythical event, choices
made and executed by adults.  Our bathroom
shelves housed a green bottle of Vidal Sasson’s Wash n’ Go, ‘salon shampoo and
conditioner in one’
 (complete with another aspirational consumerism ad), and it seemed to me that was just the way life
was.  Finesse would have to wait until
the long-awaited day when I too had the power to buy hair care products.

This tale of two conditioners reflects the wider power
situation that we find ourselves in as children.  Choices, from the trivial to the absolutely
monumental, are made for us and about us.
We rarely, if ever, had influence or input; what would you like for
dinner maybe, but certainly not how to structure our days and our lives.  Parents, teachers, local authorities,
national governments: they were the ones that took such decisions, whilst we
then agonised over whether to get a 99 or lolly from the ice cream van.

I’m not arguing that this situation is wrong per se.  Most of the figures in our lives operated
with our best interests at heart.
However, as children we can feel disempowered, passive even.  At an early age we learn that we have little
control over the circumstances around us to the extent that we don’t even ask
or assert ourselves in situations where we could have more influence or input,
like requesting a specific type of conditioner that we dream of trying out.

Crucially, this mind-set can linger into adulthood without
us ever realising it.  We can continue to
unconsciously function as if we were not the ones with control our lives and
the decisions we make within them.  

Sure, there are other forces at work; the same local
authorities and national governments, for one, as well as factors such as the international
economy.  Nonetheless we retain a fair
degree of agency.  Many of us are
fortunate enough that even when the job market contracts, we still have some
level of choice available to us.  If we
don’t like the political bias of one news outlet, we can turn to another – even
whilst retaining a level of cynicism about them all.

How often do we lose sight of this?  And how much so on the seemingly more trivial
end of the spectrum!  We forge relationships
then end them; get pregnant or not or find alternatives; emigrate and relocate
and start over in myriad ways.  But within
our daily lives, the passive childhood mind-set can hold strong without us realising.  We forget that our parents’ way of doing
something is not the only way.  We forget
that we don’t have to clean the hob in the same way our mum did, or that the
male partner in a relationship doesn’t automatically get the last biscuit just
because our dad always did.  Perhaps we
never truly realised that our feelings were valid and important.  

In our homes and other aspects of life, we are the adults
now.  That means that by and large, we
get to make the rules.  This discovery is
hugely empowering.  Yet it is often
overlooked, passing us by unnoticed.  We
continue to abide by codes of behaviour, consciously or unconsciously, that we
laid out years before but no longer serve us (if they ever did).  We continue to relate to the world as if we were
still helpless children.  So I want to
provide a much-needed reminder: you are the adult now.

You are the adult now.
You make the rules, and you get to overturn some that you don’t
like.  

You can buy fizzy pop every week if you want.  It doesn’t have to be reserved for special
occasions.  Do you what know else?  You can have a second can, or a third, in one
evening.  Maybe after a while the adult
that you are will decide you’re not that bothered or that this habit isn’t good
for you, so you stop.  But you get to
make those choices too.  No-one else is
responsible or in charge.

You can go away over a major holiday period if you want too
(this may seem an unseasonal example but wanted to throw it out there now so
you have time to plan if this resonates with you).  You’re the adult, you earn the money and the
leave period, you can choose.  Other
adults (or children) may not like it, and you may have to deal with the
consequences of that, but you don’t have to hand over your power to make the
decision to them.  Maybe you decide the
hassle of rocking the boat isn’t worth it – but then that is your choice too.

What rules could you make (or break) now that you’re an
adult?  What would really help you?  

Perhaps it doesn’t even need to be a rule, maybe just a
single decision or experiment.  I’m
planning on adding Finesse to my next shop if the brand still exists, to
celebrate the entirely uninformed mental choice that I made twenty-five years
ago – although it will have to be a shampoo version, because I don’t use
conditioner.  

As the 1990s
advertisement states
, ‘You get to control the amount of conditioning that’s
right for your hair’.  All these years
later, turns out they were right.  I do
get to control that.  I’m the adult
now.  I get to make the toiletry buying rules.

If you’d like to share with me about the rules you’ve made
and broken, or how realising you’re the adult now has affected your life, then
there’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or
the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page – or you can email (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read other posts in this series, simply scroll down past this one.

A Life Of One’s Own: philosophy & manifesto

This post is part of my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read other posts in this series, simply scroll down past this one.

Halfway through the ‘This is my real life’ week and, having shared some ideas and suggestions, I thought it was probably useful to talk explicitly about the A Life Of One’s Own philosophy.  Useful, but also somewhat intimidating.  This coaching practice and all the writing and everything that surrounds it has been my dream for a long time.  For many years it was amorphous, nebulous, just the vaguest idea of wanting to share what I was learning about creating a life that felt truly mine and to help others in crafting theirs too.  Form emerged over time, and slowly words to describe this vision.  Here’s how I feel able to express it right now.  This is the A Life of One’s Own manifesto.

There is nothing wrong with you.

You are enough. Exactly as you are.

A Life Of One’s Own is not about ‘fixing’ something (you) that is broken.

A Life Of One’s Own is not about adding something – a new skill, system, routine, discipline – to make you somehow a ‘better’ person.

A Life Of One’s Own is about stripping away – peeling back the layers, the noise, the persona, the years of accumulation (physical and psychological), all the dross – until you can connect with your inner wisdom.

Call it God, soul, spirit, intuition, true character, whatever.  I believe we all carry within us the answers we need to live full, authentic, meaningful lives.  Lives true to ourselves.  Lives for us, not what someone else thinks they should be. Lives of our own.

If we can drop a plumb line down to our souls then we can retrieve the wisdom, guidance and direction we need to craft lives in coherence with our true nature.

This is not a one-time endeavour but an ongoing process.  

It’s not about having superior lives, or trying simply to ‘improve’.

It’s not another stick with which to beat ourselves when we ‘fail’.  

It’s about finding our inner wisdom, listening to it and then taking steps to honour that.  Not perfect, simply more truthful to ourselves, more authentic.

A Life Of One’s Own is not an upward ladder of progress but a downward spiral of discovery.

A Life Of One’s Own is about turning a dial, click, click, click, each notch shifting you closer to being in alignment with your inner wisdom. These turns of the dial could be a spiritual or philosophical shift; a change in perspective.  They could be practical, from the tiniest change to the biggest.  

You have all the answers and the solutions; I’m here to support and encourage you in finding them.

If this sounds like something that resonates with you, if it makes you go ‘Yes!’ or makes your eyes prickle with some deep knowing, then you might be interested in working with me on a one-to-one basis – and so I’ve decided to leave my 2016 coaching packages open for registration for a few more days.  Take a look over here if you think we could be a good fit for your A Life Of One’s Own journey.  And if that isn’t a possibility for you right now, you might want to sign up for my monthly newsletter – the form is at the top right of the page.

Just Empty the Bins

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read other posts in this series, simply scroll down past this one.

We all know that what we do on a Sunday can hugely influence
the week that follows.  Dedicate some
time to preparing for Monday and we often reap the rewards all week, everything
from time and money saved to stress avoided.
Have a Sunday where that kind of preparative work isn’t possible and we
can feel the ripples for days, whether it’s because we have to buy our lunches
out or because by Wednesday we find ourselves rummaging in the laundry basket
for a pair of socks that we can reasonably wear again.  

Trouble is, those Sundays when we don’t have time to calmly
do weekday prep are often the best ones!
Part of the joy of weekends is being able to step away from to do lists
and schedules – having the freedom to be out for the day on a whim, anything
from a last-minute trip to lunch with friends that runs on into the
evening.  No-one wants to be the person
who leaves early or forgoes an invitation because they have to do their ironing
on a Sunday night.  

Even if we don’t go out or have anything in particular
planned for our Sunday, that doesn’t mean we want to dedicate all the time to
gearing up for the week ahead.
Relaxation and downtime is hugely important.  I truly believe Albert Schweitzer’s statement
that ‘If
your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan
’ – although I also believe
that this kind of Sunday nourishment for the soul can take many forms, whether
it’s going to church or playing with your kids or curling up with a cup of tea
in bed in the morning.  Sundays often
give us the chance to take time in a way that feels impossible on the other six
days of the week.  We don’t want to
sacrifice that at the altar of ‘getting organised’, which is probably why even
when we have the opportunity on a quiet Sunday evening to prepare for the week
ahead we don’t do so.  

So we face a dilemma: we want the benefits of time spent
preparing for the week without feeling like we’re surrendering a precious day
of the weekend in order to do so.  How do
we get around this?  I think I have found
an answer…

I have read enough women’s magazine and self-help advice
over the years, and seen innumerable Instagram and blog posts on this topic, to
be able to create a ‘Fifty Ways to Prepare for Your Week’ article off the top
of my head.  Actually, I could probably
list one hundred actions you could take.
All would no doubt be useful in some way, but the list would make you
either want to punch me or simply refuse to do anything next Sunday except lie
on the sofa watching repeats of Storage
Hunters.  

My solution?  Just
empty the bin(s) in your kitchen.

Emptying the kitchen bins is a small, discrete task that
doesn’t take long but somehow gives you a sense of huge satisfaction.  Let’s face it, there’s nothing more depressing
on a Monday morning than going to chuck something away only to discover that
you can’t cram anything else in there – and it smells – and suddenly you’ve got
bin juice on your clothes – and that’s it, the most hellish start to the week
imaginable.  

So if you do nothing else, just empty your kitchen
bins.  

Feel calm, in control and like some kind of domestic goddess
for the absolute minimum effort possible.
Then if you feel energised into doing some other preparative bits too,
then go ahead.  You know what would work
well.  You know the kinds of actions that
make your week run more smoothly, whether it’s time to write in your journal or
complete your planner, making a batch of dinners to freezer for the evenings
ahead, or ensuring that the kids have done their homework before 6pm so there’s
time to chill before bed.  I like to make
sure there’s no ironing lingering.

But if not, then at least you’ve got nice empty bins to
start the week.  And tell me that doesn’t
feel a little bit good?

What about you?  Do
you have a routine for preparing for the week ahead – or do you just take it as
it comes?  If the latter, is that a
conscious choice or would you prefer to take a different approach?  If you’d like to share with me then there’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or
the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page – or you can email (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read other posts in this series, simply scroll down past this one.

Now Wash Your Hands

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that
began, you can
click here for the opening post.

To read the first post
in the series, you can
click here.

One of the things that irritates me most in life are the
signs on toilet doors that instruct ‘Now wash your hands’.  To be clear, I mean irritate, not full-blown
annoyance; I’ll reserve that for more serious and significant matters than
this.  Still these signs are one of life’s
bugbears.  I’m no rebel (eating a chocolate
bar not purchased on the premises whilst in a coffee shop last Monday made me
feel naughty, even though I had bought a drink from them), but being given this
instruction makes me want to refuse.  I’m
almost tempted to feel a bit gross and potentially spread nasty germs around
simply because the condescending tone irks me.

This urge to not wash my hands when I see these signs runs
completely counter to my general attitude to the issue.  I am a big fan of handwashing.  I am also aware of how facile that statement sounds,
like a glib quotation from a celebrity lifestyle advice, but hear me out on
this…

I’ve found that handwashing is a great little mind-trick in
all sorts of situations.  I allude to
this in my previous post about resetting
your day
, where I list it as one of the steps to help you start over when
things aren’t going well.  Even without
the other actions, though, handwashing can have an affect beyond the obvious
one of hygiene.  

Cleanliness is undoubtedly part of it.  Even though many of us don’t get our hands
particularly dirty in the course of day-to-day life, it can be surprising how
good it feels – how clean – if we wash our hands after doing an activity.  I first noticed this when I started regularly
doing a long commute in my car.  Often
when I got home, I’d be seized by a strange urge to thoroughly clean my
hands.  Immediately some of the fatigue
and stress from the journey would evaporate.

The metaphorical aspects of this are pretty obvious.  If you’ve been doing something challenging
then you get a sense of washing it off yourself, rinsing yourself clean of the
issue, or sending the problem down the sink.

There’s also a meditative element.  Consciously choosing to wash our hands provides
a few moments where we can simply be present with the task itself, give it our
attention and focus.  Just let the water
flow, rub our hands, lather the soap, rinse it off.  Even if meditation doesn’t appeal to you,
consider trying this next time you need a bit of timeout.

Finally washing our hands is a natural demarcator.  Think of all the timeless activities that
involve handwashing at the start, end or both: preparing food, for instance, or
changing a baby’s soiled nappy.  This way
of marking opening and closing can be applied to anything in our lives; try it
whenever you have something you wish to begin or complete.

As you go
about your days, look out for any times when a good wash of your hands might be
just what you need.  Maybe you’ve been
snapping at your kids and just want to stop doing it.  Maybe you’ve been worrying about a problem at
work but know there’s nothing you can do until you go back on Monday.  Maybe a throwaway comment from a friend just
really pushed a button.  In all these
situation and more, it could be the simplest technique for letting go and
moving on.

Let me know how get on if you! If you’d like to share with
me then there’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or
the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page – or you can email (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).

 This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that
began, you can
click here for the opening post.

To read the first post
in the series, you can
click here.