Learning New Things

I’ve been on a Prince2 Project Management course this week. It was an intense 5-day training course, with two exams peppered throughout the week. Needless to say, I’m exhausted from trying to take in all of the information in such a short space of time!

It took me back to the days of university when learning lots of new things was an everyday occurrence and all part of the fun. One thing I had forgotten (or rather, blocked out) was just how stressful it is to take exams and know that you only have an hour or two to shine, otherwise you fail.

When was the last time you took an exam? Did the nerves you used to feel at school come creeping back too?

For some reason, I assumed that with life experience and knowing that exam results really aren’t the be all and end all, I would be able to calm my nerves, but that wasn’t the case – it turns out the pressure of exams still gets to me!

But, with that pressure and the nerves comes that sigh of relief and sense of pride when you find out that you have passed and accomplished what you set out to achieve. It was a long hard week, but I’m incredibly proud of myself for completing the course.

What’s the last thing that you’re proud of yourself for completing? 

The Power to Change

I have Louise L. Hay’s affirmation calendar on my desk at work and last week one of the affirmations was: ‘I have the power to change my life for the better, and I am doing it now!’

I read this and instead of the words filling me with feelings of worry and doubt, I knew them to be true. Slowly but surely, I have started to take things into my own hands and when I read those words, I was filled with a sense of pride.

Instead of just worrying about my new job not being all I expected it to be, I have started the ball rolling to make it more like what I want and what the company needs. Instead of worrying about not being able to save enough money to pay for our wedding, I have started selling as much as I can on the likes of Facebook Marketplace to help contribute towards our savings fund.

If you’re feeling like things are a little outside of your control at the moment, have a think about what you could do to make this affirmation feel true for you too! 

Stark Reminders

Sometimes, the past has a habit of coming back and smacking you really hard across the face when you least expect it. That happened to me this week.

Feelings that I thought I’d left behind a long time ago were suddenly taking pride of place in my psyche once again. I found myself trying to demonstrate patience and understanding when they were the last things I felt, all the while masking my true feelings because I knew they wouldn’t help the situation.

Has anyone else found themselves in a similar position recently?

Luckily for me, I always have numerous self-help books and podcasts to hand and on my walk today, I was listening to a new audio book, Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis. As I listened and breathed in the fresh air, Rachel talked about a time when she had cheered on marathon runners from the side lines encouraging them by saying: ‘You’ve lived through tougher things than this, don’t give up now.’

This was just what I need to hear, at just the right time. Thank you, Rachel, for reminding me that this too shall pass.

How can you make the future you smile?

In a previous post, I’ve talked about the importance of a good self-care routine, but what about actually starting to believe that you deserve to put yourself first once in a while?

This concept can feel so alien to a lot of us, especially when there appears to be so many other people and things than need to take precedent. When we’re being pulled in a million and one directions, we can forget that we deserve some of our own undivided attention. We deserve to put ourselves first.

When you read that last sentence, how did it make you feel? Did you believe it?

If not, I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first because you’re important too! This is also a much needed note to myself because I also forget this a lot of the time.

I follow Kara Loewentheil on Instagram and she recently posted a picture of a gorgeous bunch of flowers that she’d ordered to be delivered to herself the previous week. She captioned it: ‘Sick me last week ordered a weekly flower subscription for current me to enjoy. What can you do for your future you today?’ This really resonated with me because I realised that I’ve never done anything like this for myself. So, what can you do today that will put a smile on the face of future you?

But, you have so much to be happy about…

Anyone else think that this is absolutely amazing? The simplest of analogies expertly highlighting just how hard things can be when everything on the surface appears to be just as it should be.

Rather than just pointing out the obvious, it’s important for us to remember to support those in our life that are going through turbulent times. When you’re watching from the outside, it can be hard to understand why someone feels the way they do, but this analogy shows how one throwaway comment can so easily belittle someone who is already feeling down and only serves to add to their feelings of sadness.

With this in mind, can you think of any ways in which you could be more supportive of those around you?

A Different Approach to Self-Love

I saw this on Bodyposipanda’s Instagram story recently and it really helped me to shift how I think.As I read the passage, I could picture all the wonderful things I love about Alex and how little anything else matters. When people say you should love yourself, that’s often hard to understand or even contemplate, but this really helped me visualise what it would really look like.

Do you think approaching self-love in this way would help you love yourself a little more too?

People Change

A great thing happened to me last week… I realised that there was an entire series of Grey Anatomy that I’d not watched – don’t you just love it when that happens?!

In one of the episodes a character called Alex Karev came face-to-face with an old flame and it was funny to see how much he’d changed from those early series. The storyline saw his current fiancée chatting with his ex-girlfriend, both of whom had very different ideas of who he was as a person. The ex-girlfriend saw him as a guy who’d treated her badly and the fiancée saw him as the guy she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Neither were wrong; Alex had just changed and the ex-girlfriend hadn’t been around to witness it.

I loved watching this storyline play out because it really highlighted how much people can change and how our perceptions of who people were in the past, might not be entirely accurate today.

Who from your past do you think would be shocked and/or surprised to see the type of person you are now?

Should I take my husband’s surname?

In amongst all the wedding planning, this is one of the things that hasn’t really been up for discussion. Alex wants me to take his surname and I have always loved the idea of forming a family and sharing my surname with any future children that we might have, but as the time approaches, I’m starting to wonder what it’ll be like.

This has been on my mind because the domain name for my blog needs to be renewed in the next couple of weeks. It really hit home when I realised I couldn’t simply renew this for another year because I won’t be Vicki Grainger after next June – she won’t exist. I’ll be Vicki Shouksmith and I have no idea who she is/will be.

Is it silly to think that so much of my identity feels like it’s tied to my surname? 

On the one hand, it feels like the end of an era and it’s scary to think that I’ll no longer openly be a ‘Grainger’; on the other hand, it feels kind of liberating to know that it’s the start of a new beginning.

Did you take your husband’s surname? How did you decide? 

Plenty of companies re-brand and they do so as their brand grows and evolves beyond its starting roots – perhaps I should be looking at my surname change in a similar way? In essence, I’m getting the opportunity to leave certain parts of me behind and embrace exactly who I am today, not who I was 5, 10 or 15 years ago.

If you had the opportunity to re-brand yourself, what’s the one thing you would leave behind and the one thing you would make sure you hold onto? 

Unfollow Your Limiting Beliefs

If something isn’t serving us on social media, we’ll unfollow the account and leave that content behind, so why we don’t do the same thing with our own thoughts?

I think this is because our thoughts are much more of a minefield than our social media accounts. Running the gauntlet of our past regrets, future dreams and current worries is sometimes too much to face, and while we can be objective with our social media accounts and who we do and don’t follow, we’re obviously far too subjective when it comes to our own thoughts.

I would love it if I could be as cutthroat with my limiting beliefs as I am with my Instagram feed! Do you think it would be beneficial for you if you could also do the same thing?

Some of the limiting beliefs I’d long forgotten about have been triggered in the past few days and it reminded me that there’s always room for us to grow.

Alex, my fiancé, got a promotion and a pay rise at work which is great news. It’s something he’s been working towards for a while and I’m incredibly proud of him for achieving it. But, it now means that he will be the breadwinner in our household and that thought makes me uncomfortable. We’re going to be starting a family in the next few years and I logically know that I’ll need to rely on him to support our family during that time, but it doesn’t stop the idea of it making me feel a little vulnerable.

After witnessing my parent’s divorce, I vowed I would never to end up in that position and I always wanted to make sure I was financially secure on my own. When I met Alex and we started our life together, I naively thought I’d outgrown this idea because I was so confidently moving forward in our relationship, with a different level of love and trust than I’d ever experienced before.

Observing these old thoughts and limiting beliefs rising to the surface made me realise that they’re still there, niggling deep down inside. Knowing that they will be much more of a hinderance than a help to our future, I know I need to work hard to let them go and I’m going to try to unfollow this thought pattern.

Have any limiting beliefs come up for you recently that you can also work on unfollowing?

If you feel skint…

I hate to admit it, but I’ve been feeling very resentful of the donations I make to charity recently. For the past eight years, I’ve donated at least £30 a month to charity, with £5 donations set up for six separate causes because I struggle to choose between them. After I read The Secret many years ago, I set my direct debits up as a way to do something good and also keep my money moving in positive ways, giving a clear sign to the Universe that I was willing to give in order to receive.

 As we’re on a strict saving budget at the moment, I sometimes look at those direct debits and wonder what I could be doing with that money instead – I know, I’m a terrible, selfish person!  

At work today, we had a brunch that was catered for by the café of a local homeless charity. Alongside the food, they also gave us leaflets explaining their offering and it really helped to remind me how lucky I am. In the grand scheme of things, my worries are not really worries. I have a roof over my head, enough money to put food on the table and an abundance of love in my life. While I don’t donate to that charity directly, it served as a reminder that my donations are extremely important and they’re so much bigger than me.  

Has anything served to give you a little perspective lately?