Where to start…
So many thoughts in my head and so much I want to say!
This week, in the UK, it is National Work Life Week and Dyslexia Awareness Week, as well as National Curry Week, National Arthritis Week, National Dyspraxia Week, BackCare Awareness Week, National Braille Week. Monthly it is Seed Gathering Season, National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Unblocktober. In the USA it is also a month of Bullying Prevention and Domestic Violence Awareness. And internationally it is Walk to School Week and the Big Draw Month. Phew.....
Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day.
Well, in my world they are all interconnected and related. In one way or another they are all about wellbeing - self care, mobility and exercise, being heard and understood, living gently with care for our planet, fun, connection and creativity.
Someone asked what I meant by Lynda Fussell - The Walking Coach. And this is what it is all about. Being heard, understood, clearing the noise out of our head and finding our inner self, exercise - which for me is walking, spending time in nature - observing and learning, and taking time to relax, enjoy living, connecting and being with others.
This feels a little self indulgent but perhaps it is a perfect opportunity to talk about how I see the world and why. Bringing some context to who I work with, how I work and what I bring.
Dyslexia has been a huge part of my world for many years - 23 years probably to the month…. My eldest daughter was diagnosed with severe dyslexia after her first term in an English speaking school. My girls started their schooling in French as a result of our travels and living in Switzerland for a while. It was a great experience but allowed a year to pass before uncovering this amazing Gift of Dyslexia.
When understood and supported it is truly a gift. It can be frightening and frustrating for parents, children and adults diagnosed late, or never diagnosed. But with support, tactics, development of positive mindset and strengths it is amazing. Today’s technology really has helped tremendously. Increased awareness and understanding makes life so much richer for all.
The work life scenario is fascinating, disturbing and positive all at once.
Through my working life I have witnessed changes in the ‘norm’ - accepted and expected.
In the 80’s in South Africa, a good week was one that had at least one long lunch, often finishing long after 8pm… A great week was two or more of these. They were common. They were fun. We really got to know our colleagues, managers, clients and suppliers. We supported local businesses. We talked, connected, relaxed and did a lot of business.
In the late 80’s I lived near the Kruger Park and experienced the hospitality industry and community. Local game lodges welcomed guests from far and wide. Fantastic to connect with such diversity and to help the guests have an incredible experience. The Game Rangers loved their job but heck it was tough. They had to stay up with guests as late as was required - drinking and chatting till all hours. Then they were up bright and early for the morning game drives. It was relentless and full on. Every few months they had a week off….
I was fortunate to have a part-time daytime role at a beautiful lodge - it was wonderful.
I also ran the local riding school. Being with horses had been my life for many years and teaching children and adults to ride was already ingrained into my DNA. This brings the outdoors, nature, animals, connection, confidence, trust and growth into context. I helped children grow up overcoming their fears, finding their inner strength. I bridged the, at the time, massive divide between Commissioned and Non-Commissioned Officers and their families. I enabled pressured, ‘tough’ adults to relax and be gentle through time with the horses.
During this time I had my children and I was able to take them with me everywhere. At the Game Lodge they interacted with the staff, the guests and the animals - such an amazing time. At the stables, they slept in the pram in the centre of the arena or were looked after by some of the other children waiting for their lessons. I worked hard. I loved it. My family were integrated into my working life. My working life integrated into my social life. It was wonderful.
In the early 90’s I was back working in Johannesburg. My immediate thoughts of that time are being the only female manager in the building while all the male managers were on the golf course, one to two afternoons per week…. My goodness how things have changed - I hope!
Mid 90’s and I was working in the UK. It was super professional and people were valued. I worked in an organisation that had achieved the Investors in People recognition. It was revolutionary in my eyes. Managers cared. Lunchtimes meant getting out of the office and going for a walk, or to the gym. Working late was seriously discouraged - occasionally needed but too frequent showed that something was wrong. It was awesome!
Late 90’s back in corporate SA - pressure, bullying, male dominance and a few other less fun experiences. Smaller organisations seemed easier to survive in.
Roll forward to the noughties… or is that the naughties?..?.. In 2000 I did what may people do when working in unsavoury situations - resigned, hid from the world for a few months, tried to recover, find me, decide what to do with my life. Set up my own business, did some contracting, consulting, research assignments and rebuilt my confidence.
I found people I liked, people I could trust, people who valued me, my thinking and my experience. Started a new business venture with four amazing businessmen. Experienced phenomenal growth and recognition. Absorbed other businesses into our venture. Loved life. Adding value. Making a difference. Being valued, respected and working with purpose.
Mid noughties and I was back in the UK. Reconnected with some old colleagues, friends and associates. I had an interview with a ‘here unnamed institution that is part of the fabric of British corporate culture’. Couldn’t believe what I was hearing… Provided my thoughts on their business, their job, their proposal etc and walked out - felt great but it was daunting.
Through like minded friends I landed a simply fantastic role with an incredible consulting company that kept me busy, happy and working hard but with purpose, value, integrity, trust and respect. I was very sad to make the decision to leave this organisation after more than 7 happy years but circumstances with my family life meant that I was unable to commit to the travel being requested.
So once again I was looking at a blank piece of paper and trying to work out what mattered to me and why. And once again I set up my own business…, and yes I think it does get easier doing for a second, third or umpteenth time, and entered into various consulting and change management contracts. I tried, wherever possible, to only take assignments that aligned to my greater purpose and with organisations I respected. Generally I did this with great success and have some wonderful memories and friends from these years.
So early to mid 10’s I found myself working very long hours, travelling and commuting for hours each week, and doing what was expected of a consultant or a contractor. In some places I was valued and treated as a member of the core team making a significant contribution. In other places I was a ‘dirty external’ excluded from many events and team building opportunities. Treated as a resource to flog.
In one assignment with said ‘not to be named major British institution’ mentioned earlier in another context, my team and I were tackling the unspoken nemesis and attempting to align teams in purpose and process. The response from the employees was overwhelmingly positive. Such gratitude that people were interested in them, their struggles in the daily workplace, and looking to make some simple and massively valuable/impacting changes.
My team were all ‘externals’. My Manager, aka Sponsor for the assignment, a women, was dreadful - hungry at all costs for promotion. Bullying, disinterested and seriously challenging to work for. Within weeks of completing the complete process investigation and realignment there was a senior management change. How often does that happen?? Once again, I dare say incompetence shone through, and a total lack of understanding and appreciation for people and efficiencies across the whole UK business we were looking at, saw our project canned.
After 15 months of travelling across various sites every week, working ridiculous hours, with very limited support and giving my life and soul to making a real positive difference to 1000’s of employees, I was gutted. I vowed never again! Why would you even try to make a difference where it is needed most, if the leaders of the organisation are not interested. Not interested in the bigger picture. Not interested in the company’s future. Not interested in the clients it serves. And most importantly not interested in the many people, who against all odds, are doing their damnedest to support the clients.
It has been interesting… over the years I have seen many changes in the way companies treat, value, appreciate and respect their most import asset - their people.
So this is why, and how, I came to do what I do today.
Exercise has always been important and I believe is essential to us all. We need to be healthy in each area - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I have found exercise to be a key too many aspects and each of these.
I have always been active. As a kid sport was way more fun that sitting in a classroom. I could be challenging myself, moving, often outdoors, learning new skills and competing. Yes, I do have a very competitive inclination… I only realised just how competitive I was when at a corporate cart racing event 😅.
Between falling off horses more times than I can remember, and being hit by a drunk driver while running a marathon, I appreciate good health and mobility. I have been in pain, immobile for weeks, dependent on others for everything - including bathing, looking after my children, driving me everywhere for months, etc. I get it. I’ve been there.
So disability, arthritis, back-care and others highlighted this month all have the ability to change how we feel and how we feel about ourselves. Mindset matters.
Things happen to each and everyone of us. How we react and respond is key. The only thing we can actually control in a situation is how we respond and subsequently react.
Physical pain and injury is often related to an aspect in our lives and is showing us something. We get warning signs, which we often chose to ignore, and then the Universe dishes us a big dose of Wake-Up medication. Been there, more than once….
Living life in the fast lane. Relentlessly pursuing high-octane activities and success, and wham… take 3 weeks of lying still with no mental stimulation, no sound, no light… and see what that feels like to come back to you. To your essence. To what is important. To what really matters.
Train hard. Push hard. Enjoy the feeling of stretching behind your known boundaries. Get the taste of achievement and limitless endeavour. Bang… stop right there. Learn humility. Learn to appreciate others. Respect and accept help offered. Acknowledge kindness. Acknowledge and see how others, and the work place, can support and adapt to disability.
We can push ourselves until we, unintentionally, break. We can witness others pushing themselves beyond what is healthy. We can support and intervene. We can listen. We can just be there for when it all goes wrong. Not everyone is ready to hear, or receive, the well-meaning advice. Sometimes we have to swallow our ‘I told you so’ thoughts and just be present.
I understood, through real application, a whole range of ‘things we know but rarely put in place’ when walking the Portuguese Coastal Camino in 2017.
This single event made me realise that we often need life events, or different ways of experiencing things, to really understand what is good for us as a whole person. I captured 94 lessons from my Camino adventure. I share these through my coaching, writing and retreats, often subtly, and always, hopefully, reaching at least one more person who can benefit and not have to crash their life to decide to make a real change for their own benefit.
The Unblocktober and Seed Gathering speak to my live gently and in harmony with our beautiful planet. We do not need to destroy, intentionally or unintentionally, the balance of nature.
As a countryside volunteer, lover of wildlife and, nature's wisdom and healing, the outdoors is very integral to my lifestyle. I love to share this with others. If I can take you for a walk and allow you to be present and experience, observe, notice, things around you the feeling of fulfilment and inner peace will be found. Slowly at first but eventually the value of a 20 minute walk outdoors daily will become obvious.
I believe we are able to connect with who we truly are when we spend time in nature.
We are not designed to sit at a desk looking at a screen for hours on end.., but so many of us do just that. We are not designed to spend hours in a car, or vehicle travelling to a place of work, but again so many of us do, and often just so our incompetent / insecure managers can see that we are there.
As people we need to connect. We need to have a purpose. We need to add value. We need to be appreciated.
Nature and the environment gives us a real appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things.
As we smile so the world smiles with us. As we plant seeds so the plants grow and reward us with more seed. As we love and cherish so we are appreciated and loved.
And lastly joy and creativity are my final thoughts selected from this month’s awareness themes.
National Curry Week - I love a good curry. I love making curry. I love sharing laughter and great food. As a coeliac, Indian food is a real delight as it is generally gluten free and full of amazing and varied flavours.
For many years I shared a monthly curry club evening with a special group of friends. We made our own curries and we shared many wonderful tastes, experiments and moments together. When our chief organiser, sadly, died unexpectedly our group was splintered. You never know when things will change. It is important to make time to create memories, share experiences and have fun with others.
Big Draw Month is new to me. I have a number of artistic friends and I was aware of daily drawing challenges that had popped up. I hadn’t appreciated what was behind them....
Creativity is vital. We are all creative. We all need to create. Our methods of creation vary but the wellbeing effects are similar.
For the last 5 years I have been consulting in innovation. Creativity in the workplace - or so you’d expect. A few things stand out for me from these adventures.
Many companies want to be seen to be doing the right thing and set up innovation departments and teams. Few companies are able to make these really impactful.
Those that do see benefits on the bottom line, keep pace with, or lead, advances in their industry, and usually have a very high employee satisfaction score.
Often however, it is an expensive lip service exercise. Sometimes the leadership is fearful of allowing the employees to really be free with their thinking. Often innovation is badged with big expense.
My experience is that allowing employees to be involved and share their ideas, provides a feeling of worth. Managed properly and evaluating ideas with openness and feedback provides massive benefits with often really small changes to the way things are done.
I love being part of a team that enables all staff, regardless of location and role, to be engaged, heard and valued for their insights and contribution. I love helping teams value each other and the contribution they all play for the greater purpose.
We are not all brilliant artists but we can all draw a stick man. With encouragement we can all learn to add colour, a tree or something completely abstract to our drawing and create something that is uniquely ours. Something in the moment that captures our attention. Something that allows us to express our feelings, our thoughts, our creativity.
We don’t all have the answers to life. It is a tapestry of options. We all have the ability to tap into things that resonate with us. We all have a duty to respect ourselves. To love ourselves. To share our gifts. To find our purpose and honour our journey.
We all need a little help along the way. Our mind is a hard enough task master reminding us of the dangers and potential downfalls. Our past experiences have influenced the way we automatically, subconsciously, react to events. Our current circumstances and ‘friends’ might well be restricting our ability to flow freely and enjoy.
This month, this week, and tomorrow being Mental Health Awareness Day, is encouraging us to have strength and make the change that we might never have dared to. To listen, hear and support others. To acknowledge ourselves and ask for support.
The connection between mental and physical health is well documented. If you, or someone close to you, is experiencing a challenging and hard to diagnose condition look deeper and see if there is something lurking behind it. Seek help and provide support when appropriate.
There are many excellent services, therapies and alternative treatments that can bring relief. Gift yourself some self-care and take time to explore what might work for you. You don’t need to fight the challenges alone. As people we need connection. Connect and make a difference.
We all need support and help at times. It is not a weakness. It takes a strong person to ask for help. Be the strength you deserve and look after you. We all know the saying put your own oxygen mask on before helping others….
For many years I have worked with a number of alternative treatments, both receiving and giving. There are so many options, be bold and explore.
Many we have heard of, and I personally know the benefits of Reiki, Access BARs, CBT, EFT (tapping), Yoga, TaiChi, Qigong, Biodanza, Meditation, Energy Healing, Energy Blueprint, Gut Health and Microbiomes, Spontaneous Transformation and others.
I have trained in various modalities over the years and appreciate the nuances and subtleties but also the amazing unexplained benefits. The body is truly amazing. But when you recognise that we are essentially energy and everything around us is also energy, the dynamics and concepts become really interesting. Quantum Physics and Neuroscience are pet passions of mine...
I trained a few years ago to help people release the energy of past fears and traumas that has got locked into the DNA.
Our subconscious does a fabulous job of protecting us but things that happened when we were vulnerable, are often still impacting our behaviours and reactions today when that situation no longer exists. PTSD, childhood trauma, emotional stress all have an impact on our lives as the years pass - physically, emotionally and mentally.
The energy transformation technique I use has been used for centuries in ancient cultures. I have used this on numerous people to help with complex conditions that the medical experts are not able to diagnose or treat satisfactorily. It is a safe, gentle meditative process that allows people to safely release the trigger without going into the actual trauma. The changes are subtle and impacts profound.
I have danced with others skilled in leading you through a process that changes our reactions and responses in a safe beautiful way. Biodanza is freeing and inspiring, subtle but powerful.
For the last 4 years I have been doing Kundalini Yoga on an almost daily basis - it is wonderful and I love the meditative process and sound resonance. It has helped my back and neck issues and significantly reduced my migraines and subsequent use of medication.
For a number of years I attended a weekly Qigong / TaiChi class which released the stresses of the week, and signalled the start of the weekend. The slow and controlled meditative movements demanded my entire attention and my body really responded with ease and suppleness.
I urge you to explore and find something that works for you.
For me, as we head towards the end of the year and the end of this decade, and more closely to Br…t there are a lot of stresses around. We need to thrive and embrace 2020 and to do this we need to look after ourselves.
If anything in here has touched a nerve, or made you think or question or wonder ‘what if’, reach out to someone you can trust.
Reach out to me for a free 30 minute chat, or a walk in nature
I love to talk. More importantly, I love to listen. And.. I love to help people connect with who they really are, enjoy life and be the best they can be.
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