| 3 Minute Read |

That’s not a typo, it is YET, not yes.

So what makes YET such a powerful word? I think it’s the sense of possibility that it gives.

Let me give you an example… A few months ago, I decided to try some new things to push myself out of my comfort zone a little (and give myself a figurative kick up the arse). So I thought I’d start out gently with a beach yoga session followed by a cold water dip.

I’ve done a few yoga sessions over the years, but it would be fair to say that I never quite made it to the bikini-wearing hand-standing yoga stage. I’ve always been more focused on “please don’t let me fart or pee myself” as my measure of success.

Anyway, despite not knowing anyone, I rocked up at the session game to try. The instructor was so lovely, encouraging us all to stick at a comfortable level. Which, by the way, is “Child’s Pose” – even that felt a struggle for me. I inquired if there was a “having a wee lie down on the mat” pose I could try instead; alas, apparently not.

But instead of worrying about my Downward Dog, I concentrated on being on a lovely beach, the sound of the lapping water, surrounded by hills and fresh air, and I just did what I could. When the “oh my god, I really can’t do yoga” thoughts came in, I suddenly remembered a conversation I’d had the day before and how adding the word YET to the end of the sentence completely changes the thought and feeling.

Suddenly I was starting on a journey, the beginning of something – YET creates a bridge to a future state where I will be able to do something. It may not be next month, it may not involve a bikini or a handstand, but I will almost certainly be able to do more than I was could that day. And oh my goodness, it takes so much pressure off! I’ve already talked in previous articles about the danger of comparison, and sometimes it’s comparing the “today me” with the “when I was younger/fitter me”.

There’s a twist to this tale in terms of how you can use YET. It can also be a wee warning to watch yourself if you’re slipping into bad habits. After deciding to overhaul how I’d been looking after myself, I’ve been getting some great support along the way. It was one very wise (and experienced) lady I recently started working with who introduced YET into my story. We had discussed healthy habit changes, having both heard some very powerful stories at a meeting earlier that week. I happened to comment how relieved I was that “at least I’ve never done xyz”.

She stopped me right there and said, “Please add YET to the end of that sentence you just said”, and oh my goodness, did that change the perspective for me! We can so easily avoid facing up to behaviours that are actually really bad for us in the long run – particularly when they can be so comforting in the short term. Adding YET gave me a brilliantly simple wake up call.

In that moment, I recalled how so many times over the years that I had justified my unhealthy behaviours by telling the “but I don’t do that” story to myself… Oh, if only I had added YET to those thoughts all those years back, how much easier my path might have been!

Whether it’s about your sleep patterns, how you exercise, how you’re eating, even how you’re connecting with others in your life, or balancing your time between your responsibilities and having fun – try using the word YET when you think about where you are today, what you want to avoid happening and most importantly, where you would like to get to.

I don’t have the flexibility to get into all the yoga poses, even some of the basics… YET, but I will keep at it, though. Granted, with the seasons changing, I’ll be moving from the Scottish beach into the heated studio. When I hit the mat for my specialist workshop of yoga for the menopause… I’ll continue to hold the “I haven’t farted or peed myself YET” as my mantra, this is one YET I’d like to keep in place!

| 3 Minute Read |

Visit any recycling centre at the weekend just now, and you’ll see a line of cars snaking around the corner. Online village notice boards have never had so many “free, but must collect” postings for everything from toddlers’ toys to king-size beds!

The decluttering is real. In line with my recent comparison article (Comparison – the arch-enemy of self-compassion), I’m not beating myself up for the lack of cupboard perfection … even Monica from Friends had her clutter!  

What I’ve been much more focused on is decluttering my brain. There has always been so much “busyness” and noise in my head that I’ve got a lot of lost thoughts and insights in there.  

One of the BEST things my mindfulness class gave me last year was the power of “noticing”. Instead of getting stuck on a thought going over and over, I’ve learned how to ‘notice and then move on’. The things this has been able to let me find!

You know the moment when you’re cleaning out a cupboard, and you find exactly the item you need but had forgotten you had? From badminton racquets through yoga mats… Most recently, for me, was a wonderful guided-journal that I completed one page three years ago, then forgot all about it. I was actually about to buy it “again” having forgotten I even had it in the first place!!. Love those moments. And I’m sure we’ll return to that journal in the weeks ahead. 

Just as we find “stuff” we can also find thoughts. A lesson learned or an insight that maybe didn’t make sense at the time but suddenly is the very lightbulb moment you need that week. 

Our brain can hold A LOT of information – but to access it, you need to be in a specific brain and body state, relaxed and alert at the same time. Imagine you are trying to open some stuck drawers on a large dresser; the more frantically you try to yank at them and attack them, the more stuck they become. But if you relax and instead gently coax the drawers open, you can access what’s in there. Our brains are a lot like that – and sometimes even sleeping on something then trying to access it in the morning is an even better idea. 

I’ve found something very energising and exciting about having the chance to get access to more corners of my brain. Revisiting experiences – good and bad – and taking the time to learn from them, look at them through the benefit of more experience to make sense of them. I’m lucky to have many close friends – some with incredible coaching and psychology experience – to unpack a lot of this with. They help me make sense of what I’m finding at the back of the “brain cupboard”.

This is where I put in a word of caution – you never quite know what will come up when you start noticing more and going back into the corners of your brain. Always make sure you have someone to talk to. If you have trauma in your past, which may resurface, I would always recommend seeking professional support – it’s always best to keep yourself safe!

When you can declutter enough to see what’s at the back of your “brain cupboard” it can be a very beneficial experience. Some of it you will want to “recycle” as it may no longer serve you – even thoughts go out of style! Some may be just the ideal memories and insights to help you at that very moment. Either way, you will hopefully feel lighter and brighter along the way and maybe very pleasantly surprised by the treasures you’ve simply not had the time to notice!

Let me know what you find! 

Next Steps

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| 4 Minute Read |

One of my favourite things to do is have a coffee outside first thing in the morning. The Scottish weather has not allowed for that in many weeks, until one recent Saturday morning I was able to do a bit of mindfulness and enjoy a large cup of coffee out in the back garden. As I sat enjoying the peace, I noticed a really rapidly moving fog bank on the hill behind my house. Truthfully it was quite a creepy-ass looking thing – like some kind of smoke beast (any Lost fans?). Then it struck me – that’s what happens to my brain when I’m not taking care of myself. That’s when the fog can start building up.

It got me thinking about how brain fog can have the characteristics of REAL fog.   Think about any time you’ve been caught out in foggy weather, it come sometimes creep up on you gradually.    There have been days when  I’ve been out hill walking and simply haven’t noticed that mist is building up into a fog. The next thing you know, it’s a “pea-souper” with limited visibility.   I once actually had to ask other walkers if I was at the top of the hill yet!   Very disorienting. You can only see what is right in front of you. And you slow right down as you try to navigate that.  Sometimes  fear can make it tempting to stay in place until the fog clears. Waiting until it clears is not always an option – for sure staying out on a hill into darkness isn’t a safe option.

Let’s come off the hill and go back to the brain. As we navigate life in a global pandemic on a day-to-day basis – it’s easy to overlook the ever-thickening “mist” that creeps in with tiredness. I’ve certainly become so used to the new and strange routine that I’m not sure I register it any more. I was aware of my energy levels, which I have been battling for a while now (Keeping Your Batteries Charged). A few weeks back I found myself with just the energy for my workday and cooking dinner, for 5 days straight I was in bed by 7pm!! Even if I had 10 hours of sleep, I still woke up exhausted. There was no chance my weekly workouts were happening and the thought of having to plough through weekend housework made me want to weep.

And yet, I pushed on – desperate for “normal”—big mistake.    The following week I was knocked out with a migraine – a particularly brutal one.  Every time I thought it had cleared a rebound migraine hit me l like a boxer giving another punch when their opponent staggers up from the mat. Eventually I had one reasonable day – rejoiced that it was over –  then BOOM another migraine sucker punch. What the ‘actual hell’ was going on here?

If we go back to the fog (oh how I like to kick the arse out of a metaphor), when the fog is thick enough, you can hardly see your hand in front of your face.  You literally are unable to see what is right in front of you.   So what were the signposts my “fog” had caused me to miss? I decided to turn investigator and take a day off work to focus on what needed to shift (as well as catch up on all the neglected chores at home!).

I’ve been lucky enough over the years to work closely with professionals who really know their stuff when it comes to wellbeing. So, as a start, I went back to the basics I’d been shown over the years.

Increasing water consumption (with a pinch of salt in it) was a simple step one. The pinch of salt is to counterbalance any frequency of loo visits which may follow – TMI for some, though top of mind for others I’m sure! Taking processed food out of my diet and eating WAY more vegetables, fruit and protein. Bye-bye beige food! I even went onto YouTube and taught myself how to recalibrate the CPAP machine I’ve been using every night for 15 years for sleep apnoea (there’s zero chance of a sleep clinic appointment anytime soon).

The good news – it has helped. Significantly. I mean I’m not running any marathons, but getting up in the morning has been easier. I’m staying awake beyond 7pm, and I think I’m slightly more pleasant to be around! And whilst I don’t want to tempt fate… (so let’s whisper it) no migraine for two weeks. ??

That morning, when I was sitting with my coffee watching the creepy-ass fog bank moving away, what I particularly loved was the watery autumn sunshine beginning to appear. I like to think that when brain fog clears what then peaks through like the sunshine are the things we forget are so helpful to us. Healthy eating. A good night’s sleep. Dancing to a great tune in the kitchen. Connecting with friends (yes even virtually that’s so good for you). And having a really, really good laugh.

What are you forgetting to do for yourself? The smallest of changes can help the fog clear and let the sunshine appear.

Rolling the fog away

I don’t normally credit photos, but wanted to put a wee note beside this one.

One of my favourite fog clearing photographs was taken by my very dear late friend Chrissie on one of our many early morning walks in Bushy Park.

We lost Chrissie earlier this year (Loss and Legacy) and I miss her every day. ❤️



| 2 Minute Read |

Wanting to make sure I made the most of my staycation time off work, I went looking for some helpful articles to read. When you’re trying to make an overhaul of your habits, this in itself can feel a lot like another full-time job. So, when this article popped up in my Chopra newsletter (btw they often do free courses in meditation that I would recommend), it felt like an ideal starting point.

At the heart of this article is a focus on energy, which is what jumped out to me, as it’s the one thing I’ve been battling to manage for what seems FOREVER. I definitely do not feel as alone on the energy deficit front these days. If I reflect on the conversations I’ve had with friends and family throughout the pandemic, the subject of energy (or lack of it) comes up every time, and I promise it’s not because I’m bringing it up!

How do we protect our energy then?

It’s never just one thing which brings your energy levels down over time – and that’s when it can get very challenging. Where to start? There have been times in recent years when I’ve been puzzling over what’s exhausting me. My analogy of this is when your phone battery suddenly doesn’t last as long as it typically does, and you subsequently discover you’ve got an app open in the background draining the power. So similarly in real life, it’s finding out which “app” is taking your energy!

What’s particularly helpful with this article is that it breaks down all the potential areas for an energy boost, I’d recommend starting with one and building up over time. Sleep is a great place to start – I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had their sleep patterns disturbed somewhat over recent months. Everything, in my experience, feels a little easier if you’ve had a decent night’s sleep.

Good luck with your jumpstart – and it would be wonderful if you could share what works well for you.

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In June 2019, I started reading the “Get Your Sh*t Together” book by Sarah Knight, I finished it in December 2019. Six months it took me to complete that book. Six months! If I’m going to sit and do some writing for ‘Behind The Hashtag’, I prefer a “particular” environment and to have a long list of chores completed before I settle down to it. When lockdown came along with the pandemic, and I was no longer travelling – I was still struggling to “find time” to do daily workouts. Procrastination anyone?

When I wrote the article on finding my mojo, it was heartwarming to have so many people reach out to me with the cries of “me too”. So I got curious. What is procrastination all about? It just doesn’t seem logical. I found a beneficial article which really reframed the whole conversation for me and I wanted to share it – Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control)

First of all, let me assure my fellow procrastinators that you are not LAZY. “Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem” was the quote which caught my attention first. Even though it often makes no sense putting off a task – particularly when the long term impact can be very negative, or having to deal with the extra stress incurred by putting it off to the last minute. Apparently though, the short term relief that we get is enough for our brain to give in!   

From a neuroscience perspective, we’re not wired to think beyond the immediate – it’s what’s known as an “amygdala hijack”. I’ve heard of the “amygdala hijack”, but I’ve NEVER associated it with procrastination. Turns out that what we’re avoiding is some negative feeling – fear of not having anything interesting to write, anxiety about a workout being too tough, or simply not wanting to be bored wading through a tax return or spreadsheet!

The “respite” from the negative feeling can be short-lived. We may later start beating ourselves up about the procrastination, and it all becomes this very strange cycle, and feels to me like that “amygdala hijack” is making us our own worst enemy? How do we break the cycle?  

Making a “bigger better offer” to our brain is the key apparently! The outcome or longer-term benefit of doing the thing we’re avoiding needs to be amped up. Instead of seeing it as ‘post-workout pain’, focus more on ‘getting fitter will help me fight illness if I catch Covid-19’ – a very topical and real benefit right now. A very important wingman to the “bigger better offer” is self-compassion, especially if we’re procrastinating because of anxiety associated with not being good enough.  

There is no easy answer to this – that’s why time management books are a multi-million pound business. When I go back to the book that took me waaaaaay too long to read Get Your Sh*t Together the “bigger better offer” here is getting clear on all the things I WANT to do but don’t seem to be able to make time.  

As the schools get ready to go back and some kind of routine emerges again, maybe this is a great time to tackle procrastination head-on … wish me luck as I take on my “amygdala”.


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Life and work have changed for everyone in the past few months. New ways of working and how to lead are probably the most frequent topics I’m seeing on LinkedIn and other forums.

Leadership ZoomcastI’ve really enjoyed the Leadership Zoomcast, where two role model leaders are getting curious about how to navigate our new reality. I loved being part of one of the episodes with Albert and Neil for an exploration of the “secret recipe” for leaders.

Afterwards, I was definitely left thinking that if we keep our focus on some of the basics, we can’t go too far wrong.

Regardless of what industry you are in, there are three things which I believe matter the most:

  1. Being human
  2. Paying attention to what your team need
  3. Self-awareness of the impact you are having.

Tust - Brené BrownI would never suggest there is a definitive list of leadership behaviours–experience suggests it will show up in different ways for different leaders. For example, how I show up as being human will differ from everyone else.

What does strike me though, as I listen to more and more conversations on this subject, is that the common thread running through the discussion is TRUST. All three of the basics highlighted above form the basis of building trust, and it’s in the little day-to-day things that trust grows.

Although I had this conversation in the context of leadership, I do believe everyone can benefit from doing more of all three. Whether you formally lead a team or not, you’re still able to have an incredible impact on those around you. The more remote and virtually we work, the more focussed we need to be on how we connect with others – we need trust more than ever.