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I Have My Limitations

What is life coaching? What does it mean? How can it help?

A seagull flies over the incoming tide

Happy New Year 2016

Three times this week I have met lovely people on the beach and been asked about coaching: what is it; how do I work; what does it mean?

This morning, because of another conversation elsewhere (on Facebook), this is my answer…

(It might be different on other mornings)


I have my limitations.

I believe that what I believe is just belief
and I believe that this belief is enough
and I believe that being enough is me.

Do I have hope, purpose and love?
Yes I have hope, purpose and love
because I have something greater than all of these.

Can I help you find hope, purpose and love?
Can I help you believe?

I have my limitations.
I can only hold up a mirror
a mirror so ancient is shows you your past and beyond
so ancient it shows you a future where you can believe
so ancient it shows you belief is just a belief
that being who you are being is being enough.

That you are greater than all of these.

Life Coaching Wherever You Are

‘Phone Coaching using Narrative NLP Principles


a phone amongst office equipment

People often ask me how coaching can work on the ‘phone. I wondered this myself and was even a little reluctant to give it a try but the truth is that it works remarkably well. In many cases it makes life coaching possible when the demands of life, work and family make it seem impossible.

When you always have your phone with you it makes sense that coaching conversations can take place whenever, and wherever, is most convenient for you.

Maybe you work from home and need to book appointments into your own schedule. It might be that you have family commitments and have limited opportunities for talking to someone about your own needs and wishes.

Telephone coaching makes it easy to fit our conversations into your busy lifestyle. You can speak to me from the comfort of your favourite sofa, from a clifftop overlooking a beach, or from your office at lunchtime.


Phone calls can take place in the most unexpected of places

For many clients it is a combination of home, away and workplace calls that works most effectively. You know when you can fit it in, where you will feel safe and comfortable, and how often you would like to speak.

Best of all you don’t have to travel to Honiton or Budleigh Salterton. I am in Devon and you can be in another county, another country or even on another continent. Whether you live in the UK, Europe, or the other side of the world, all we have to do is check time zones before we book that first call.

For me, the coach, it is about a quality of listening that comes with training and practice. Both NLP and Narrative practice pay full attention to your telling of your story. You will be surprised by the unexpected discoveries you make about yourself as you tell me what’s on your mind and I listen and ask carefully chosen questions.  Together we will discover how you can make the changes you have been looking for by looking for them differently.

Many people are surprised to discover that they prefer this style of coaching. You save the time and expense of travelling and you don’t Kitchen, garden, park or office, wherever you are we can speakhave to sit in an unfamiliar room with a person you don’t know. Instead you choose the date, time and place to tell me what you would like to change in your life. You can even choose how long we spend on each call as I understand that you may only have half an hour to spare or you might be one of those people who would rather talk all morning, or at intervals throughout a day rather than spreading a programme out over a series of weekly calls.

Life Coaching by ‘phone is easy, convenient and effective. Give me a call right now and let’s begin exploring possibilities.

A Maze of Possible Pathways out of a Problem

At the heart of the maze lies a problem

Where do you start?

As soon as we try to find our way out of a difficult situation we discover that just thinking about it can become part of the problem.

How often have you felt overwhelmed or thought ‘I just don’t know where to start’?

Helping you sort this out can be part of the role of a coach…

It can help to identify which pathway you have been going down already in order to try something different.

While thinking through some recent conversations with clients I came up with this maze-like doodle, identifying typical strategies my recent clients have described as they began telling me their stories.



As you read through the list of ‘ways of working it out’ you might recognise something that you have been trying. Better still, see if there is something here that you haven’t thought of because trying something different, something new, will give you the best chance of getting an unexpected result. It may not be the result you thought you were looking for, but it is likely to be a result that leaves you feeling more positive about the future.


What have you tried?

  • trying to solve the problem
  • trying harder
  • trying harder still
  • acceptance
  • avoidance
  • denial
  • hearing a message in the problem
  • seeing the problem as ‘ a part of myself with special needs’
  • talking to the problem
  • asking the problem what it thinks it’s doing for me

In future posts I will look at each of these pathways and invite you to contribute to my musings. Do you have an experience you would like to share; an observation on the list or a part of it; or an entirely different pathway to suggest?

I look forward to hearing from you.



Don’t Let Positive Thinking Get You Down

Photo of young woman thinking‘I’ve lost my job’, ‘My partner has left me’, ‘My child is failing at school’.

How can we, as coaches, expect our clients to ‘think positive’ in the face of the realities of daily life?

While scientists have found that we can create positive feelings just by smiling, and on social networks one person’s happiness can spread to countless others at a click of the mouse, it can sometimes seem as if we constantly are exhorted to ‘think positive’ as if this is the answer to all the challenges we face on a daily basis.

Rereading an article by Barbara Ehrenreich in a 2010 issue of Therapy Today I have been interested in the notion that nations aspiring to happiness turn out to be ‘not very happy at all’. Why might this be?

Could it be that we think we ‘ought’ to be happy and that it therefore becomes something to strive for rather than a way to ‘be’?

Another contributing factor could be that, having expended energy on trying to be happy and discovering that there is still some residualdisappointed young man sadness, disappointment or discomfort in our lives, we begin to feel that we have somehow failed.

After all, doesn’t the phrase ‘I’m trying’ suggest that I’m not achieving the happiness I set out to achieve? Maybe the effort to think positive can, itself, be a self-defeating strategy.

Furthermore, if you believe that, in order to achieve positive thinking, you have to practise some kind of self-hypnosis, then your positivity will probably be undermined by your feelings about a strategy that seems to require a level of self-deception.  

It doesn’t sound good for positive thinking does it?

There is no doubting that our mood affects our thinking and behaviour, and I have experienced – both for myself and with clients – how a positive outlook that embraces possibility can lead to the seizing of opportunities that might otherwise have been overlooked. I have also seen how the apparently inescapable grip of old habits of thought; old patterns of behaviour, can be loosened through an unexpected glimpse of positivity, where none was visible before.

Maybe the answer lies in a paradoxical embracing of life’s difficulties… I know I am me because this, this and this, have brought me to this point. Without the experiences and the ensuing sadness, disappointment or discomfort, I would not know what I now know and I would not be looking to change.

This sounds suspiciously like positive thinking doesn’t it?
So why not give this a try?

  1. Acknowledge that life is not always easy, comfortable or happy.
  2. Identify what you have learned from negative experiences in the past.
  3. Trust that armed with this knowledge you need not make the same mistakes again.
  4. Now set out with the positive intention of seeing opportunities and letting go of old habits or thought patterns that weren’t serving you well.

This is the kind of positive thinking that make the present different from the past so that you can look forward to a future of new possibilities.

a rainbow lightens a stormy sky

One, Two, Three – NLP!

Feeling negative?

going down?



   Wish you could break out of that state of  mind?




Try this…

  1. Change your posture – stand taller or lean in a different direction.look up, spread your arms and breathe


  1. Move unexpectedly – star jumps can work wonders


  1. Look up – count chimneys or create a picture in a crack on the ceiling!


Now all you have to do is breathe the change in.


Sometimes all we need is to interrupt a pattern of thought or behaviour and something entirely new becomes possible.

Why Does it Hurt So Much?

Photo of a woman holding her head in her hands looking very unhappy

Someone says something unkind, or looks at you in a certain way, or you remember something… and you feel – not just hurt but devastated, overwhelmed, weighed down by the weight of the emotion it stirs up.

Have you ever wondered why something so small can have such a powerful effect?

Imagine yourself as a small child, so young that you don’t even have the language to explain what is happening, and someone is unkind to you. Because you don’t have the words for your experience all you can do is feel the hurt. Somewhere in your unconscious mind you store the experience away and carry it with you.

young child crying

Of course similar things happen and the emotion gets stored away, layered on top of that first awareness of how something or someone affect the way you feel. Gradually you learn that this is what we call ‘hurt feelings’.

Imagine that, throughout your childhood, adolescence and young adult life, you continue building up this emotional burden of hurt feelings without ever paying full attention to what is going on. Maybe you become good at being able to ‘put on a brave face’; ‘soldier on’ or ‘pull yourself together’.

Now, as an adult, you find that when someone who matters to you says something that hurts your feelings, your reaction can be overwhelming.  Maybe you blush a deep crimson, or you lose your temper or simply walk away crying.

What if you could see this reaction as if it were the result of all the layers of hurt feelings that have piled up since you were that tiny, speechless child, coming over you all at once?

And what if, in that same moment, you were that child again, with no understanding of what just happened, experiencing all this emotion?

a father's hand holding his child's handWhat will you say to that child now to make a difference? What can you learn so that a careless word, a certain look or particular memory will no longer overwhelm you?

Maybe whatever you think that child needs to hear is what you need to hear? Tell yourself what you know you need to hear and begin to believe it.

Notice the difference it can make.

Even now you can give yourself what you needed all those years ago, all through your childhood, adolescence and young adult life and it can make a difference to how you feel right up to the present moment.

How’s your timeline?

How do you see past, present and future?

How do you see past, present and future?

My Prince

As can happen so often, I went a little astray today.

I thought I was looking at the National Poetry Writing Month poem starter for today and found myself reading humorous poems based on fairy tales. So I came up with this:

My Prince

a frog wearing a golden crown sits on a red velvet cushion

My Prince
I write to let you know
I miss you
even though
you are still here
right next to me
and to let you know
the pea
is now completely squished
it isn’t what you would have wished
I passed the test so long ago
and things move on
of course you know
there’s Little Prince
to think of now
and so I feel the time has come
to build an annexe just below
the ramparts where
I once let down my golden hair
and have the grounds man cut the hedge of thorns
really it’s for Princey’s friends
all those princesses with their frogs
and now that I’ve gone to the dogs
you’ll sleep better without me
and we can all live happily.

The End.


In fact today’s prompt refers to spaceship names and although I’ve searched for the page with links to fairy tale poems, it seems to have completely disappeared.

But it got me thinking, unexpectedly, about how ‘reality’ can seem to change around us. All relationships go through changes and it’s how we choose to respond to those changes that makes the difference between feeling like a character in a story or being the author of events.

In coaching I aim to explore this idea of ‘personal agency’. It’s very empowering.




I’ve been so busy writing an App and self -help book that it has been a while since I wrote any poetry and I miss it.  So, inspired and encouraged by Sally Douglas in her blog ‘Fractal Stanzas‘ I decided to join the NaPoWriMo challenge and here’s today’s poem.



This dried out piece of wood

wants to be a creature or a poem

or a story in a book.

Washed up, bleached and sea-weedy it

carries memory

of water, wind, and waves, a sudden

falling apart and


of possibility.




Beyond Expectations

Moving Beyond my own Expectations

Beyond Expectations book

I have always thought of myself as a writer and assumed that this meant that, one day, I would ‘be published’.  What I hadn’t realised, in spite of my NLP and Narrative Practice training and experience, was that I was holding myself back.

The clue lies in the phrase, ‘be published’. With hindsight I now see that I was waiting; waiting for someone to come along and publish me.  Having discovered this blind-spot, I have re-framed my interpretation of those words and now see myself as author rather than character in my own story.  What may sound like a small change in my thinking has made a significant difference to who I am being and it suddenly makes sense to publish my own work.

Once I achieved this seemingly small breakthrough, several interesting things occurred: I recalled being published in a small magazine while still a teenager; remembered that I’ve had poems published in a well respected poetry magazine; and acknowledged that, while magazines and websites have published my articles and book reviews, I have not allowed myself to interpret these facts as evidence of my being a published author. I already am published but had somehow failed to allow myself to notice the fact!

It’s fascinating to think that I have spent so much time waiting for something that had already happened.  The story that I was telling myself, my ‘Waiting to be Published’ story, was preventing me seeing the story I wanted to see – my ‘Published Author and Poet’ story.

We can all have unconscious expectations holding us back. Once we see the possibility of a different story for ourselves, all sorts of new possibilities open up.

It was working with my son, writing and launching my life-coaching App ‘Beyond Expectations’ that triggered this amazing bit of self-discovery and prompted a re-authoring of my own story.  In creating a series of coaching exercises to help you let go of your own limitations, I was unconsciously coaching myself, letting go of some of my own, invisible and self-limiting expectations.

Have a look at Beyond Expectations here It is a 4 month course of coaching exercises based on the Narrative NLP principles that inform my work with clients.

Later this year I will be publishing the material in book form. Watch out for my novel and a poetry collection too.

Once you let go of whatever is holding you back, there will be no stopping you!



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