I met my friend and co-author, Asha through the wonderfully supportive facebook group, The Career Mum: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheCareerMum/
Asha is a very talented writer and she was writing a series of articles on people entitled 'Lives less ordinary.' I was delighted to be interviewed. We clicked, she got me and I got her.
So, we decided to write a book together, entitled 'when two worlds collide - the power of human connection.'
Life - it's that simple really, it's about life.
Asha and I come from two very different worlds: different continents, different cultures and different backgrounds, but what connects us is so much deeper than what divides us.
We found something in each of us, that together, was greater then the sum of our individual parts. And that connection has given birth to our book.
The honest truth is that we have so much to say, it's difficult to know where to start!
We will be sharing our journey through life, the good and bad bits. We will try to use our experiences to help others tread where we have been, but they have yet to go.
We will be authentic and honest - there will be no airbrushing or optical illusions, which ultimately lead to hurt, low self esteem and a feeling of inadequacy for others and ourselves.
The subjects will be discussed, with candour and humour, they will be diverse but meaningful - our mental health, being a parent, our relationships, grief, addiction, acceptance, forgiveness, connection, judgement and anything else that lurks in the shadows, hidden by shame or guilt.
We are here to help re-define reality and share our lives, to help others to be able to do so too.
Our beauty is always in our imperfection.
We will post updates on the chapters as the book progresses, so do watch this space or sign up to our newsletter and we will keep you posted.
With much love Nik and Asha x
Each chapter revolves around a theme and tells our story - to help others with theirs.
We are busy writing and then editing and editing and editing.....!
“Speak with honesty, think with sincerity, and act with integrity.” Anonymous
"To me self-esteem is not self love, it is self-accepting and acknowledgment, as in recognising and accepting who you are" Amity Gaige
"I'm not searching for the meaning of life, but I'm looking for a meaning within my life." David Lowery
"We judge people in areas where we're vulnerable to shame, especially picking folks who are doing worse than we're doing." Brene Brown
"People are so fearful about opening themselves up. All you want to do is to be able to connect with other people.
When you connect with other people, you connect with something in yourself. It makes you feel happy. And yet it's so scary - it makes people feel vulnerable and unsafe." Toni Collette
"Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem." Virginia Satir
"Most people are prisoners, thinking only about the future or living in the past. They are not in the present, and the present is where everything begins." Carlos Santana
"A day without laughter is a day wasted." Charlie Chaplin
It might appear bizarre, morbid or arrogant to write your own Eulogy. Even so, I've had a go at mine, to give me something to work back from while I'm still in a position to actually do something about it.
Life is a tricky programme to plan, you don't have a 'go-dead' date or pre-agreed milestones.
It's a lesson in 'organic planning', setting a direction, mapping a course, being brave enough to allow the programme to evolve and agile enough to respond to the unknowns.
You need to test your outcomes quickly, identify and ditch the failed ones and implement the successful ones like your life depended on it - as it may well.
In the final analysis, when the programme ends and it's review time, there are 6 key things I would love someone to be able to say:
1. She loved and was loved unconditionally
2. She responded to adversity with courage, resilience and care
3. She identified and admitted her weaknesses and failings without doubt or fear of judgement
4. She took responsibility for her actions and the impact they had on others
5. Whenever she got knocked down by life, she got back up and tried again
6. She extended the hand of kindness and genuinely cared
And there is my strategic plan for the rest of my life.
Inspired by my dad.
I read a lot of stories and advice on social media about how to run a successful business, how to make the most of your time, how to inspire people and generally how to be something better or different to what we are today.
It can feel a bit over whelming, like we should all be aiming to be someone or somewhere else.
Maybe we don't need to do any of this. Maybe being successful is just about being content with your life and yourself today.
Contentment does not always have to mean being happy either - it is about being content with the way you live your life and who you are as a person - including your strengths and weaknesses. It is that contentment that enables you to make the most of your peaks and survive your troughs.
Now that might be working towards World Peace, inventing renewable energy, running a multi million pound business, getting the ironing done, emptying bins, caring for people or simply walking the dog - because we are all different and that's ok.
All of my hero's and role models have led simple, unassuming lives.
Their value and gifts have been created through achieving contentment with their life and themselves.
You do not always have to do more or to be more. You can be enough just as you are.
Be brave, be honest and be you.
Purpose gets me out of bed in the morning.
Purpose is stronger than shame and self loathing - with real purpose those things no longer get to be the ring leaders.
Purpose is bigger than ego and doesn't give a toss about judgement.
Purpose does not have negative side effects, unless it becomes rhetoric versus reality, then it becomes regret.
Purpose is a fundamental building block, which all of us need, in whatever form, if we are to live rather than merely survive.
Purpose can change over time and that's ok because so do each of us.
Purpose is pretty damn important whichever way you look at it.
I talk a lot about taking all of ourselves to work - to show up and own up.
I think it is so important to be ourselves, to be honest, to share our vulnerabilities and connect with people, particularly in our professional lives, on a truthful and transparent basis.
But what does this mean in reality?
For me it means I can offer:
But I do come with some limitations.
I am experiencing a fairly severe menopause so I can have days when I am physically exhausted and very emotional - I am constantly forgetful and can struggle to remember words and names.
I suffer from depression. It's always there, just below the surface and as a consequence I have to be incredibly mindful of how much I take on and the level of stress I am able to cope with.
I have 3 young children and I am their main carer and home-maker as my husband frequently works away. They are my priority. Therefore my availability is limited and I can only travel infrequently.
This is me showing up and owning up.
Show up and own up. In whatever way you can.
Share a secret to take away its power and shame.
Help a colleague or friend see something beautiful about themselves they are not able to see themselves.
Look at an experience from a new perspective.
Allow yourself to imagine the possibility of a different outcome from a mundane, repeating action or interaction.
Plant a new idea in someone’s mind.
Feel your fear, name it and tell someone.
Commit to opening one door of vulnerability, even if only to yourself and take a peek at what lies behind it.
I bet one of these small actions can be a game changer for your day.
In order to be the change we want to see we have to change what we do, how we see things and our inner narrative one step at a time.
When I was diagnosed with post-natal depression, one of the things I decided very early on was to be honest and open about it.
I did that because I hid in the shadows for too long, ashamed of how I felt and that I couldn’t hold it all together because I believed other people could.
The reality was, for a significant number of people in my peer group, they weren’t holding it together at all. They just weren’t saying that’s all.
Had I known that, my path would have been easier to navigate, my expectations more realistic and I could have reached out for help earlier.
And that’s why I share, because sharing helps others understand that we all have peaks and troughs and everyone has their battles - that’s just life and actually that’s ok.
In order to live I believe that you have to think about death - quite a lot actually.
That's not because I think that we should all be morbid but because if we can truly grasp mortality, we will stop faffing around, focus on what's important and make the best of the time we have.
If not, we might end up talking about regrets rather than a life well lived.
The fine art of dressing the husband – a delicate balance of style and function, plus a sometimes-unwilling participant, which I generally find best to ignore.
I think it might help to set the scene in terms of dressing my husband. He is not your ‘normal’ type of guy in all fairness – a mad professor is a fairly accurate description, or as my sisters lovingly call him, their geek.
So Mr D has a few challenges which we need to manage – he often forgets to get off at the right train stop despite travelling the same route for the last 12 years, he can get himself to the airport for a flight half way across the world but forgets his passport, he can take cash out of a cash machine to pay for a taxi but loose it before he actually gets back into the taxi, he doesn’t actually know where our local post office is and the one time he tried to help out by doing the washing he couldn’t work out how to turn the washer on – quite amusing given his career in technology.
He is also a professional at ‘loosing things’, so much so that his 11-year-old son has been allowed his own key to the house before Mr D. Last time he came home unannounced, he had to ask the window cleaner to help him break in by borrowing his ladder to get in via the open bedroom window.
Apparently, the window cleaner didn’t think he was a natural with heights so, I’m not sure burglary is a natural career choice for him. Thus far he has managed to lose: 4 coats, 3 cashmere scarves, 4 shirts, 1 suit, 2 Mont blanc pens and a further 2 Italian pens, a Swiss watch and several bank cards. Unsurprisingly, he has had his bank account hacked a number of times including once for £15k, which he only noticed when I pointed out that the mortgage hadn’t been paid.
We now have a system where I pack his bag – he works away and travels a lot. I count the clothes in and then back out when he returns home. The other week he had to admit that, he was in fact, 1 shirt short as upon breathing out in a meeting the buttons had popped and ripped his shirt. Rather than bringing it home to be mended he simply it in the bin.
So, as you can see dressing my husband is no easy job but I like a challenge and so I have drawn up the following regime to try and keep him on the straight and narrow:
1. I check his clothes and shoes regularly as he seems unable to spot holes in anything including the back of his suit trousers, (not sure anyone needs to see his underpants to be honest), shoes (getting wet feet as there are holes in your shoes would be a natural concern for most people), socks and, of course, pants. I then simply get rid of the offending item and replace it with a duplicate – he only notices when the money goes through his account which is generally about 6 months later if at all.
2. I slowly, but surely introduce new colours to his wardrobe. We have moved on from tan chinos and he now wears navy and burgundy. Pale blue is the next stop. As I pack his bag I simply put the ones in I have chosen he, then he has a choice to wear them, go without or buy some new ones (which of course he won’t as spending money on clothes is just too frivolous).
3. I keep the colour of his shirts simple – pink, blue or white. In this way, he can’t get the combination with his trousers too wrong. I also do the same with his jackets, all jackets go with all shirts and trousers. As I’m not actually there to dress him in the week I have to manage the risk of him what on earth he will wear.
4. Should he have to wear a suit and tie I always choose a tie that will go with all of the shirts and only one, again keeping it simple.
5. The one area, we do have fun with are his socks and pants. The brighter the better. Now, luckily for most of you, you won’t have to see his pants but as he spends most of his time walking around the office without shoes on, his socks are of particular importance.
6. I allow the children to choose his pyjamas and generally they stick with a Star Wars theme although I am edging towards encouraging them to get him a onesie. I haven’t decided on that one yet. I will probably wait until I see what Xmas presents he has got me before making the decision.
7. When we go out, I lay his clothes out on the bed. Of late, as part of trying to persuade the children that he is actually an adult, he has purposely gone ‘off piste’ and chosen his own outfit. On those nights, I pretend he is married to someone else.
So, in the main, I manage to keep my husband fairly well turned out and under control.
Of late, there have been episodes of rebellion so I will have to keep an extra keen eye on his wardrobe to ensure should he go ‘off piste’ that there is nothing too bad in there to go ‘off piste’ with!
This exert is taken from my blog 'the fine art of dressing the husband', and will become part of the book when we finish curating, writing and editing it!