Lavatory Door

So much happens in ladies toilets. Some of my best decisions, funniest moments and deepest conversations have been made whilst squeezed into a cubicle with a friend  (child or sister).

Recently, during a very high-powered meeting, I exited with another lady to use the ladies toilet. After being admitted through several security doors I followed my female colleague to the ladies toilet and upon entry we both went in to our separate cubicles and did what we needed to do.

I was the first to emerge and whilst washing and drying my hands I noticed there were also two urinals that appeared to be shaped for someone to sit in. When my colleague emerged I mentioned it to her and we both stepped closer to the urinals for a more thorough inspection. We speculated why they appeared to be shaped for a posterior, discussed the dynamics of a female using a urinal and after much discussion decided this was a forward thinking, sympathetic establishment that catered for trans-gender individuals.

Just as we came to this conclusion the door opened displaying very clearly a stick man figure stuck on the outside of the door and a very confused looking man entered…we were in the men’s toilet! I had followed my colleague assuming she would lead us correctly.

Similarly whilst dining with my mum and sister at the Shard my mum had a ‘panic moment’ when the door of the cubicle she was in wouldn’t open. I was washing my hands and heard frantic tugging on the door handle and immediately went to my lovely mums rescue. I knew exactly what was wrong as the same thing had happened to me…the door wasn’t stuck, it just opened outwards instead of inwards. Both my mum and myself had made a wrong assumption based on past experience.

In both of these instances an assumption had been made. Years ago, when I was a Financial Adviser, my manager would drum in to us that to assume is to ‘make an ass of u and me’.

I wonder how many of us make assumptions based on another’s appearance, accent (drives me crackers when others mimic my accent and expect me to find it amusing!!), job, home, education, children, spouse or friends.

If I had a £1 for every time I’ve been told I don’t look like a Reverend I would be a rich woman…but what does a Reverend look like?

Today I had a conversation with an incredibly intelligent, challenging lady who has seven (yes, seven!!) children regarding feminism and how it applies to us. We discussed the assumptions that were made regarding feminists and women in general and the assumptions we had both made in the past.

It was an engaging and thought provoking conversation that has shaped and honed my opinion as well as diminishing some of my assumptions…and yes it did happen in a ladies toilet!!

What’s in it for me?


Throughout my life I have, multiple times, been the recipient of amazing generosity. I have been on the receiving end of others giving and expecting nothing back. As Pastors receiving one salary between two we have received envelopes stuffed with money through our letterbox and smuggled in to my handbag on more than one occasion. This has always arrived at times of desperate need and has been an amazing and humbling experience.

We have also been on the receiving end of others being generous with their time, affection and support, which has been an absolute lifeline.

Unshackled generosity with our finances, time, emotions and belongings has for many years been something my husband and I quietly practise, so in order to keep it quiet I won’t elaborate any further.

Recently I was told an act of generosity from another was about to be cashed in, which was a surprise as I didn’t realise I had an outstanding debt! This ‘demand’ reminded me of an act of shackled generosity I recently read about.

It is a story about six Royal Palm trees that had been vandalized and cut down along a busy road in Miami. Due to the expense involved in replacing them the relevant county wasn’t sure how soon, if ever, they would be replaced.

Then along came a generous donation of six new trees. Not only were the trees paid for they were even planted by the donor.

The former trees had been fifteen feet tall and formed a beautiful foreground for a “Fly Delta” billboard. The new trees were thirty-five feet tall and now hid the billboard completely. The donor of the trees was Eastern Airlines.

Our culture, our society promotes thinking only about self.

Ravi Zacharias, during a conference in Ohio, reputedly shared a story about a successful businessman whose grandson asked him for some advice on what it takes to be a success. The grandfather gave him three words, “Others. Others. Others.”

I wonder how many of us really live that way. Serving others, giving to others in unshackled acts of generosity?

What’s in a week?


Well what a week!

I have comfortably travelled on trains for approximately sixteen hours without being abused, inappropriately touched or engaged in any inane conversations.

It was close but I narrowly escaped being arrested in Pound Stretcher following an incident with some plasters…I maintain my innocence!!

With sadness I said ‘adieu’ to two lovely ladies I wish I’d had the opportunity to know in a more profound way.

Ploughed through 400+ emails and reserved my place on two separate courses.

Repeatedly gazed and proudly shared the photos of my stunningly gorgeous niece celebrating her thirteenth birthday.

Ate cake and drank tea with about one hundred people all gathered to celebrate the 90th birthday of a charming and handsome gentleman.

Sang ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ through tears, whilst waving my arms and standing united with my colleagues in order to honour a living hero.

Finally committed to a long awaited brunch with good friends…yum.

Got excited about swimming whilst simultaneously drowning in paperwork.

Compiled an unexpected school presentation for a group of teens and prepared a power point for a gathering of pensioners.

Committed to helping organise a festival, potentially two art exhibitions, two sponsored walks, one online auction, a spiritual retreat and a comedy evening.

Fell off the diet wagon AGAIN, it’s a really rocky ride, and consumed three hot chocolates as well as backsliding and adding sugar to my tea…the shame!!

As if this wasn’t an adequate amount of activity I also walked upon virgin snow and purchased my first ever car!! Two weeks ago I passed my driving test and after many hours scouring what automobiles fitted my visual and financial needs, comparing and contrasting different makes and models and perusing owner forums, I made my purchase.

This has been the cherry on a rather fine cake, the nervous laugh breaking through intense silence or, if you prefer, the jewel in a somewhat splendid crown.

It wasn’t without a substantial dollop of stress that I handed over a large (large for me!) amount of money and for the first time EVER drove in the rain, in the dark whilst following another driver (my husband) to a mutual destination…nerve wracking!

But so far it has all been worth it and I am pleased to say I am the immensely proud owner of a shiny black BMW 1 Series M Sport…yeah baby!

Words, words and more words!!


This week a word was used to describe me that made me do a double take. It wasn’t an insulting or offensive word, it wasn’t said in a nasty tone, but I was mildly affronted.

I thought I had made a genuine impression, had a reasonably deep connection with this individual when they applied this word to me. We had laughed, shared stories, made plans, shared hurts, we had gone beyond pleasantries when the word made an appearance.

It’s a word that I’d connect with vanilla ice cream, ready salted crisps, warm water, salted popcorn, plain rice and mash potatoes…in short the type of thing you have if nothing else is available.

It’s the type of word you’d apply when viewing someone’s house, sampling a desert dry cake or admiring a child’s painting and you can’t think of anything positive to say.

Almost like a ‘make do’, bland, tasteless, meaningless, left over type of word: a word to be found in the junkyard of words.

Which made me think about the power of words and the way they can affect us. With Valentines Day fast approaching the word LOVE immediately sprang to mind. I can remember the first time my husband uttered those three little words, “I LOVE YOU”, and how my heart almost escaped from my chest and a million butterflies took flight in my belly.

How heart breaking it would have been for him if instead of replying “I LOVE YOU” right back, I mumbled “I DON’T LOVE YOU”. The appearance of one word, DON’T, changing the meaning of the whole sentence.

Another word that carries so much power is the word THEREFORE. I have recently preached on the Book of Philemon and the Apostle Paul’s use of the word THEREFORE. The way THEREFORE connects a strong affirmation of Philemon’s personal characteristics followed by the behaviour he expects from him, massive meaning contained within one little nine-letter word.

Then comes the famous BUT. You’re doing really well BUT, I think you’re great BUT, I would like to help BUT. How many of us have had great conversations immediately slayed by the killer BUT?

Another two words that can propel or postpone us are PASS and FAIL. This week I passed my driving test and am ecstatic, over the moon, elated, relieved and deliriously happy. I almost hugged the examiner but held back and replaced physical touch with verbal gushing’s. She was embarrassed and horrified…the power of words!!!

YES and NO elicit similar reactions to PASS and FAIL and can be just as positive or destructive.

The spoken word has the power to tear us down, stop us in our tracks and leave scars that last a lifetime. On the contrary they can also build us up and inspire us to achieve greater feats than we ever dared to dream.

Conversely the most powerful words can be rendered powerless if the eyes, body language and tone of voice don’t match what’s being said. Ever had someone say sorry to you grudgingly, with glaring eyes, hunched shoulders and a clipped tone?

I read this anonymous quote an thought it incredibly apt “Words start wars and end them, create love and choke it, bring us to laughter and joy and tears. Words cause men and women to willingly risk their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Our world, as we know it, revolves on the power of words.”

Words are powerful and have a longer lasting effect than most give them credit for. They stick in our head, and often unwittingly, come pouring out of our mouths.

They are living entities and evolve with each new generation and different location.

If you’re wondering what the word used to describe me was, it was…NICE! Bland, flavourless, boring…zzzzzzz!

But, if I put aside my insipid connotations of this word and focus on the persons tone, body language and the expression in their eyes it really was quite a compliment…thanks!!

Whose got the power??


I read something recently that has really stuck with me…I might even have read it on another person’s blog (if I have please let me know and I’ll happily credit you).

The sentence I read is incredibly simple, not particularly profound and glaringly obvious. When I tell you what it is some, maybe the majority of you, will think ‘so what!’

If I’m honest I’m not even too sure why it has stuck with me…maybe its something to do with the time of the year.

The sentence I read contained the words ‘before you was a wife you were a girlfriend’.

This got me thinking about the difference between being a wife and a girlfriend and the realisation a lot more effort was made when I was a girlfriend (by both me and my husband) although my value is surely more as a wife if we stand by the belief that marriage is forever.

And I’m not being sexist as you could reverse this and say surely if marriage is for keeps, my husbands value is more as a husband than a boyfriend despite the fact more effort was made when he was simply a boyfriend.

Just as a caveat in case anyone starts to get worried we are VERY happily married but I no longer shower, brush my teeth, wear my best clothes or re-do my make up before I meet him. During my wife period he has seen me in shrunken pyjamas, smeared make up from the night before and hair so lank and flat, a mop head seems attractive!

And then I started to think back to before I was ever a girlfriend although there were obviously other titles such as friend, daughter, sister that I owned. What expectations did I place upon myself? Do I still have these expectations? Were these expectations ever realised or realistic?

I began to think back to the ‘effort’ I poured into me before I had the opportunity to transfer this energy to my husband and three children. Although at times (homework, housework, personal life, career and general self improvement) I’m sure they would rather my energy had been directed away from them!!

And it brought me right back to that initial sentence ‘before you was a wife you were a girlfriend’ and I realised that before I was anything to anyone else I was a daughter.

I was a daughter to my amazing parents whom I have so much to be grateful for…love, support, encouragement, discipline etc. I know most people think they have the best parents but I can honestly say that despite the small mistakes they made (I didn’t come with a manual so mistakes are to be expected…made a few myself!!) my parents are the best!!

And even before I was a daughter to my mum and dad I was a daughter of God and inheritor of all that He promises for His children.

And if I acknowledge that, I have to embrace that at the same time God created me I became uniquely me, a human snowflake; here for a short while and inimitable. I belong to me. I am ultimately responsible for me. I predominantly get to determine the path I choose to walk. Despite similarities no one on Earth will ever be exactly like me. Just like no one on Earth will ever be exactly like you. That is quite simply the way God made us to be.

My reaction and action to others treatment of me, be it good or bad, is my responsibility. Emotional baggage I choose to hold onto is a choice I’ve made. My weight, be it over, under or just right is my responsibility. Another’s attitude towards me is not my responsibility but how I deal with the way it affects me is.

When it comes to me, as Snap sung back in 1990 ‘I’ve Got The Power”. I just need to remember that and assert said power, not over others, but over myself.

Sometimes I know I’ve been guilty of assuming responsibility for another instead of helping them be empowered, effectively using their power to bolster my own. And conversely there have been times when I’ve allowed a power thief access to my reserves and have stood by whilst they raided essential parts of me.

Which brings me back to ‘before you was a wife you were a girlfriend’ and how I want to be identified…not by others because ultimately their opinion is secondary. But what labels, what titles, what markers of identity (if any), I want to pin upon myself.

Rainbow is the New Green…

In April 2016 we made, despite all objections, the monumental decision to enlarge our family. Whilst we had been happily coasting as a fully functioning family of five and had become attuned to each other’s wants, needs and foibles, it was decided we would numerically expand.

We looked at our options, discussed the impact it would make and restrictions we would now need to consider. Then we bit the bullet and bought two rabbits…we became a family of seven (five humans and two incredibly cute bunnies).

Both rabbits were incredibly cute but very shy. My daughter Freya named them Floppy and Spotty and spent hours singing to them, trying to stroke them, sitting in their specially built run whilst they played, fed them carrots and generally tried to bond.

One of the rabbits, Spotty – who now resembles the large rabbit from the movie Watership Down, responded and although still shy, will let Freya pet her.

The smaller, feistier rabbit Floppy continually treated all who came into contact with her as the enemy. She would attack poor Spotty; we had to separate them, and would hide from all of us.

Floppy proved to be an amazing escape artist, and would escape from any run we placed her in by burrowing under or climbing, yes climbing, over!

Eventually escaping from a run wasn’t a big enough challenge for Floppy and she began to gnaw her way through her wooden hutch and metal grille. Escaping seemed to become an obsession with her as whilst sitting in our living room, which is about forty foot away from her hutch, we could hear her trying to kick her way out!!

We tried to restrain her in a number of creative ways but she bit through them all. After numerous times of chasing her round our garden, getting stung by nettles, missing meetings and being soaked by the rain we decided that the next time she escaped we’d let her go. That as we’d always had reserves about animals being in cages, if she wanted her freedom that much we wouldn’t get in her way (not any more!).

So the next time Floppy escaped we made no attempt to catch her, we watched as she hopped around the garden, we hoped that she would be safe but we let her hop free. Emotionally we said our goodbyes!

The next morning we checked our garden (all the while praying she hadn’t met a nasty end) and saw her sitting outside her hutch. As I have never been able to catch her (she’s fast!!), my husband went out in his pyjamas picked her up and returned her to the soft hay, toys, bowl of food and accessible water that was her home.

We made the decision not to repair the hole she has made which means Floppy can escape again whenever she wants…there is no obstacle in her way.



But the funny thing is since her night of freedom Floppy hasn’t wanted to escape. She pops her head through the hole but that’s as far as she goes. It’s almost as if the challenge has now gone and now she knows she can have it (freedom), she no longer wants it.

I love a saying; a cliché, and this made me think of one of my favourites, ‘the grass is greener on the other side’.

I know there are lots of examples where this can be true and one situation is a better situation than the current one (for example, a healthy relationship versus an abusive one) but as human beings I wonder if we always want what we don’t have?

That in wanting the grass we don’t currently have and perceive to be greener, we are placing personal unhappiness with ourselves onto something outside of us. We rely on polishing our external environment to soothe a deeper internal dissatisfaction.

I’m not trying to psychoanalyse my rabbit (!) but wonder if the cliché should be changed to “Green grass needs maintenance” or “Rainbow is the new green”.

What do you think? What clichés have been key to your life or what sayings would you rephrase to make them more personally applicable?




Many years ago I read about BHAG, which is an acronym for Big Hairy Audacious Goals.

I realised that for much of my life I had played it safe and underestimated what I am capable of achieving. Upon realising the reality of BHAG I started to dream big and to smash down the boxes I had allowed others to place me in. I shrugged off the stereotypes and labels that had been pinned to my person and I allowed myself to simply be and to dream, live and exist without restrictions.

As a woman I realised my conditioning from childhood had been to be subtle, feminine and to stay small. Through the media, television programmes and general culture it had been overtly advised that my primary role in life was to put everyone else’s (children, spouse and eventually parents) needs above my own…whilst there is a time and place for this I’ve learnt that listening and indulging my personal needs keeps me mentally alive and a much nicer person to be around!

Throughout my childhood it became common place to see, read and hear popular celebrities demean women and reduce them to ‘sex objects’. Any expression of anger or unjustness was seen as unladylike and frowned upon. As a result of subtle conditioning, far too many women never claim their fullest most vibrant lives. I have rebelled against this with my choices and actions.

Over twenty years ago Chaka Khan released a song called ‘I’m Every Woman’. Whilst I wouldn’t pretend to be every woman (that would be exhausting!!) I have been a young and not so young mum, I’ve lived in a big bustling City and a quiet rural market town, like many women at times I’ve struggled and suffered for my figure, I’ve had jobs and I’ve had careers, I have bruises from hitting my head on the glass ceiling but have also had doors opened for my heels to saunter on by, there have been moments of undiluted pleasure as well as abject despair and many successes and failures along the way!

My career to date has included Double Glazing Salesperson, Shop Assistant, Mortgage Adviser, Bank Manager, Financial Adviser, Reverend, Regional Fundraiser, Emotional Intelligence and Lifestyle Coach, Wife and Mum (most physically and emotionally demanding and rewarding by miles) and now blogger! I hope you enjoy journeying and experiencing life with me!

Since reading about BHAG I have challenged my own thinking and have attempted to think, dream and live big. I have discovered skills and talents I never knew I had and helped several other women along the way do the same! This blog is my invitation for you to unleash your potential and join me in living a BHAG lifestyle!

Mouse or Lion??



Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein

There was a man on the side of the road hitch hiking on a very dark night in the middle of a storm. It was late at night and no cars were passing.

The storm was so strong he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him. Suddenly, he saw a car coming towards him and stop. Without further thought, he got in the back seat of the car, closed the door and, upon starting to thank the driver for stopping, realized the drivers seat was vacant.

The car began to move slowly down the road and frozen with fear the reluctant passenger sees a curve coming his way.

Scared, he closes his eyes and starts to pray for his life. Just before the car reaches the curve, a hand appears through the window and turns the steering wheel.

Overcome with fear, the passenger can do nothing but sit and watch how the hand appears every time they come to a curve in the road.

After ten minutes he gathers his strength, leaps from the car and runs to the nearest town. Wet and in shock, he goes to a cafe and asks for a cup of strong coffee.

He quickly drinks his coffee and between sobs, starts telling an attentive crowd about the horrible experience he’s just been through.

Approximately half an hour later, two guys walk into the same cafe and one says to the other, “Look Bob, there’s that guy who got in the car when we were pushing it down the road”

In this story the passenger’s perception of what was happening was not the reality.

How many times have we been in a similar situation in that what we perceive is the truth is just our senses and opinion of reality misleading and blinding us? Ever been there?? I know I have!

As a recovered anorexic and bulimic my perception of my weight and appearance over the years has not always been accurate. If I think back to the times I believed I was ‘fat’, I was in reality, no bigger than a UK size 10.

As a mother of three all of my children have at some point been vaguely to moderately unhappy about their body. For me personally, the most horrific being when my beautiful three-year-old daughter returned from preschool devastated because another toddler had told her she was too chubby to be a princess.

Despite us constantly telling her she is beautiful, her body is perfect and just the right size, whenever she needs to wear tracksuit bottoms (early morning dance lessons at her school) she is in tears as in her eyes she looks fat.

Just for the record there is not an ounce of fat on her…not that it would matter if there was because for her ‘perception is reality’.

Over the years I have had numerous home owning, car owning, designer clothes wearing, cupboard full of food eating people tell me how poor they are (fell into believing that myself a few years ago) because there house wasn’t as big as X’s, or there holiday wasn’t as exotic as Y’s…is that an accurate perception of reality?

About twenty years ago Rolling stones magazine coined the phrase ‘Perception is Reality’ as a theme for an advertising campaign. The theme was based on the perception that Rolling Stone magazine was read by druggies, hippies and rock fans, where the reality was the magazine’s readership included very affluent, well-educated readers.

But the cleverness of this was the basis of how susceptible our brain is: if you repeat a perception long enough, it can become a reality.

As humans what others say about us, or our perception of what they think, tends to act as a mirror for how we see ourselves. It is because of this we need to be so careful about what we listen to and whom we associate with.

My husband calls negative talk that is aimed at us or we overhear as ‘stinkin thinkin’. He came across this about twenty years ago and has strived to protect himself (and as much as he is able those he loves) from ‘stinkin thinkin’ exposure. The reasoning behind it being if we hear and absorb negativity, even if we then tell ourselves its not accurate and doesn’t apply to us, some of it will stay rattling around in our brain and become part of the lens through which we see ourselves and others. In short it will help form part of our worldview.

I was incredibly fortunate that I had a Dad that constantly reinforced in me ‘I could be anything I wanted to be’. I still wholeheartedly believe that, although as an adult it is now sprinkled with the reality (astronaut, ballet dancer and mermaid have been struck off the list) that anything worth having requires a measure of effort.

And I believe this is an important lesson for everyone to take on board…you can reach for the stars but in reality as our closest star is the sun and is 93 million miles away, reaching is all we’ll be able to achieve.

But then if we apply what Einstein said about reality being an illusion, and illusion being ‘something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality’ and add in to the mix the advancements that humanity has made over the last hundred or so years, lets make a choice to NOT be restrained, boxed in, cut down, sold short and restricted by our own sense of reality.

The title of this blog is Mouse or Lion?, but lets be people that shake off titles, perceptions, stereotypes, that question our own and others reality, venture where others fear to tread and view this life we have been given, as one big exciting, thrilling adventure with highs, lows and the unexpected around every bend.

I believe each persons potential is amazing, limitless, unimaginable and as my heavenly Father puts it, with Him by our side and with His Spirit living within us we ‘can do all things’ (Phil. 4:13).

Lets be adventurers that grab life by the short and curlies and embrace it wholeheartedly!!


No Vampires or Incomplete Lists…


The older I’m getting the more like my Mum I am becoming. Not only do I feel the need to visit the lavatory when I arrive and just before I leave somewhere, I am acutely aware of who hasn’t visited the bathroom and many times, obviously without engaging my brain or sense of British decency, have subtly suggested they may need to do a wee before they leave.

I love and respect my Mum a lot but one of the things she has always done, that has given me and my siblings great amusement, is make copious lists. If it is on her list she will achieve it. My Mum will even mark on her calendar when she plans to phone people! She is committed, dedicated and attached to the lifeline that is her list.

And rather annoyingly this is beginning to happen to me. I have discovered the joy of a list, the release of transferring what is swirling round my head into written form and then joy of all joys ticking it off when the task is completed. I have begun to realise my completed, newly defunct lists give me a sense of achievement, a belief (well it was written down and now ticked off) that I have in part fulfilled that day’s purpose.

So imagine my dismay when I recently came upon a To Do List written at the beginning of 2015, to be completed by the end of 2015, with no viable ticks. Two whole years and NO viable ticks!! It was an untouched, incomplete list!

I spent at least ten minutes trying to reason with each item and then eventually half ticked one before quickly disposing of it as I know from my experience of coaching, its presence on my desk would be a personal and continual Energy Drainer.

If you’ve never heard of Energy Drainer’s, they are the irritants of life…along the lines of ants at a picnic, wasps in the summer and gnats at a BBQ. They are the sideshows of existence, white noise, TV adverts, in short they are not what you’ve chosen but they are having an effect on you and your performance.

My ironing pile, when it was in a cupboard I regularly opened, was an Energy Drainer as it continually reminded me of what I needed but didn’t want to do.

For my incredibly tidy, slightly OCD husband, mess is an Energy Drainer and he finds it impossible to relax in a messy room.

Energy drainers can come in many shapes and forms. Many of us will know a work colleague, friend, family member, neighbour that we try to avoid as too long in their company can leave you feeling empty. These people have been referred to as ‘vampires’ as it feels like they’re sucking the life from you. In order to maintain a healthy relationship with that person we may need to introduce boundaries.

For others an Energy Drainer may be distractions, external pressures, unmet needs, anxiety, depression, a cluttered desk, unanswered emails/texts…

Where possible Energy Drainers need to be identified, appropriately discussed and handled or they will continue to drain, divert, undermine, frustrate and generally suck the life and energy from us!

For 2017 I have made a new list that contains specific, measurable goals (learn to drive!!) and less tangible achievements (work/life balance) that I will take great pleasure in completing. But more importantly I have made a promise to myself to include in my life regular Energy Gainers.

Energy Gainers are persons, habits, events that give me energy. They are to humanity what petrol stations are to vehicles.

As someone who lives and works in the world I can’t avoid those that after five minutes in their company leave me feeling like an empty, dry, drained orange segment, but I can readdress the balance by ensuring my diary allows time for those who give me energy.

As someone who loves cleanliness I can’t remove the dreariness of housework from my life but I can stay on top of it so it never seems like an insurmountable mountain (which my ironing pile has sometimes resembled).

Life generally requires that I ‘do’ things, meet certain obligations that for me are Energy Drainers, for some of these tasks, by mentally reframing how I approach them, it will help me keep a sense of purpose and equilibrium.

Unfortunately reframing doesn’t deal with everything, so in 2017 I will embrace the words from Proverbs 4:25 (MSG) ‘Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions’ and for every Energy Drainer that I need to face I will fix my eyes on, and fill my diary with an Energy Gainer.

The photo above was from my first successfully completed Energy Gainer of this year: a visit to the theatre with my lovely sister and Mum…check out the smiles!!

I want to encourage you to take some time to recognise, manage and maybe even discard those aspects of your life that drain you and look at filling your days with as many energy giving activities and people as possible!


Three minutes of solitude…


I am incredibly fortunate to have a job where no two days are the same. As I have the attention span of a goldfish (albeit I’d like to believe one with above average intelligence) and a constant need to be intellectually stimulated this is ideal for me.

Part of my current role means I need to travel around the London and Thames Valley area by whatever means are most cost efficient…I have been on a LOT of trains.

My experience with trains over the years has been varied and I have had my fair share of being stuck under sweaty armpits, prodded by umbrellas, trodden on, endured smelly food (sushi on a packed train…really!!!), had various parts of my anatomy caught in the doors, have been offered a seat (very kind but I’m ONLY 40!!), stood for so long I thought I’d collapse, been almost vomited on, had dirt from under a finger nail flicked at me, given money to the homeless, watched and enjoyed enthusiastic buskers, chatted up and aggressively chatted down, have shared life stories, fallen asleep on strangers shoulders, met old school friends, been dribbled on and (rather scarily) recently was told by a stranger he was going to ‘f***ing kill me’.

However during all of this I have taken comfort in the camaraderie and closeness of my fellow human beings. I have never been alone and everything I have endured or enjoyed has been done with the knowledge that at least one other person has been a participant or witness.

Last week (hot on the heels of my public transport death threat and with a few niggles of uncertainty still clinging on) I found myself, in the middle of a week day afternoon, on a completely empty central London train station.

In all my twenty odd years of travel I’m not too sure this has ever happened before…there was not a single soul present apart from me. As this was an underground train station the emptiness seemed more noticeable, especially as there was no inter-net or phone signal available.

It was three long minutes until the next train was due which gave me three minutes of being on my own in almost complete silence. I wouldn’t say I was uncomfortable although I was acutely aware that should something happen or someone with bad intentions approach me I was completely vulnerable.

Which made me realise I am almost never (if ever) in silence and alone. I am often alone but with the television, radio or laptop on, all of which gives me an immediate connection with others. Or with one of my two mobile phones at hand and usually pinging!

As a Reverend and therefore regular church attender I occasionally have moments of silent contemplation but either with the company of others or ‘meditative’ music playing gently as an aid.

Motherhood started twenty-three years ago for me which means I have been the answer, cause and ‘go to person’ for almost everything for a long while…even the bathroom on occasion has seemed as busy as Oxford Street at Christmas! (This is NOT a moan as if this ever changes I will be devastated!)

I try to have fairly regular massages as they help me relax and reduce the stress knots in my back but even on the massage table silence is elusive as regardless of the masseuse questions are asked or whale noises piped.

I am never silent and alone for any period of time…not even when I am asleep as at least two members of my family snore!

The author Richard Foster is quoted as saying “Solitude doesn’t give us the power to win the rat race, but to ignore it all together”.

I came across another quote recently that stated “It is in the desert that the dew falls freshest and the air is purest”.

Maybe time on our own, without the interruption and opinions of others, allows us the freedom, the space, the time to think for ourselves or to just not think at all.

To relax and switch off, free from the constant bombardment of noise, even seemly insignificant white noise, and just let our body rest and mind roam…who knows where our thoughts, unfettered and unguided, may end up!

Imagine the possibilities of our amazingly creative brain should we give it unrestricted, uninterrupted, unburdened free rein. Our own capability and potential may surprise us!

I challenge you to think back to the last time you were alone in the truest sense, without the physical or verbal intrusion of another human being.

Maybe you found it easy to remember such a time, beside my three minutes on a London train station, I couldn’t think of the last time this happened to me.

As a result of my ‘three minutes of solitude’ I now have a time booked in my diary where I will turn off my television, radio, laptop(s), phone(s) and walk somewhere, anywhere where the only sound will be my inner voice and the only person who will be determining the pace and direction I go in will be me.