Select Page
Seriously Stressed? When Was The Last Time You Read A Story?

Seriously Stressed? When Was The Last Time You Read A Story?

the secret of spiggy holes I’ve said this so many times this week now that I’ve decided it’s something that needs to be said out loud, instead of in dribs and drabs to lots of people.

Here’s how the typical conversation has been going…”I’m rushed off my feet“, “I don’t seem to have the time to do anything“, “There’s so much going on“.

To each one of these people I just asked the simple question “When did you last read a storybook, a novel, something that you could get your teeth into but was nothing to do with your business?”  Well, the responses from all of them where that ‘they hadn’t read anything like that in yonks’.  Even though many had been prolific readers as children and young adults, now business had seemed to take over and any reading was about personal or business development.

Now, as a personal and business mentor type coach person, you might expect me to be encouraging everyone to make the best use of their time with audios and videos so that every spare moment in the car or office is spent developing yourself and gathering more knowledge.  In fact I used to be like this myself.  But no more.  The problem with ‘doing’ personal development is that it can be taken too far and you can start to get the belief that you’re still not good enough, more work is needed until you are 100% ready to take action.

And that’s just not true.  You, me and everyone else already have all we need to take action. Often, what is missing is clarity, calmness and the space to make decisions, and that’s where reading stories come into it.

Our brains just love to finish off a story and so when we start to get involved in a story our brains get diverted away from the hubbub of general business life.  The little grey cells shut down for a bit and clarity can break through.

So how about joining the library, pop along to the supermarket to get a novel, download something from Amazon, how about dipping back into a book you used to pick up all the time and which may have been gathering dust on the shelves?

And a final word.  It’s great having our books on apps, like Kindle, on our phones, but if you don’t turn off notifications, or are a habitual email and Facebook checker, the immersive effect isn’t going to kick in.

Use a spare phone or even better get a real paper book!

And is there anything better than dipping in and out of books in a library or bookshop?



The Little Things Count

The Little Things Count

Women In Business Radio Tweet

I’m not sure if this is a post about branding and the customer experience, or a reminder that we can facilitate significant changes with small actions. Perhaps it’s about both in this little true story.

I met a new young female entrepreneur at an awards ceremony that I had been a judge for – she was accompanying her Dad who was a winner. We got chatting, and it turns out she is a dance instructor who specialises in showing people how they can use dance to improve their situation when dealing with depression. We had a lovely chat, and she was very clearly at the top of her game, and so I invited her onto the radio show to talk about helping with mental illness as well as her experience so far as a business start-up. Like most of us, she wasn’t that confident about her business capabilities as she should be.

So that’s that, she’s booked, and we are now into the admin of it all. As part of the boring usual incidental admin stuff, we send off an email. Job done, apart from the show of course.

But the content of that email was screen-shotted and tweeted. It turns out that this simple admin email was an important part of her business journey, perhaps because it was her first interview invitation? I’ll make sure to ask her.

So, yes every experience, every touch point however small it may seem, can influence your business.

If there are times it seems you’re just treading the boards, you may not be aware of how the smallest actions, play out as a much greater impact on the lives you touch.

So, what can we take from this? Well, I’m going to be reviewing all of the emails I routinely send with a fresh eye to check they brighten the day of the recipient.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

Today I’m up at the Inspired Women Event in London and one of the speakers is talking about decisions; how important they are for our business and how we often delay making them, even without realising we’re doing it.

Making speedy decisions will have a massive impact on your results.

Think about a successful person you know about but don’t know well.  So Richard Branson would be mine.  Now, imagine how they make decisions. Generally, they are going to be making decisions FAST!  And here’s the thing, sometimes it doesn’t matter if you make the WRONG decision – as long as you make A decision, there will be action, action brings results and results mean feedback.  If you have made the wrong decision then at least you know and can take more action to put it right.  No decision means no action, no results, no feedback.  Nothing, Nada, Nil Zilch!

Why We Delay Making Decisions

Are you putting off making a decision because when it’s done you will have to start doing the trickier stuff in your business like selling and delivering products and services?

Let’s consider how we are making a decision now.

Are you making decisions made based on fear?  Are you making decisions based on loads and loads of analysis?  Are you making decisions based on your gut instinct or your intuition? Which do you think is the most powerful.  The last one, don’t you think.  The trouble is that when we don’t trust ourselves, how we are running our business, our lives, or our relationships then it can become tricky to trust our instincts.

Are you making decisions made based on fear?  Are you making decisions based on loads and loads of analysis?  Are you making decisions based on your gut instinct or your intuition? Which do you think is the most powerful.  The last one, don’t you think.  The trouble is that when we don’t trust ourselves, how we are running our business, our lives, or our relationships then it can become tricky to trust our instincts.

Trusting yourself and your instincts is a much bigger issue and will take a while to drill down into so what can you do if you need to start making decisions right now if you’re going to move forward?  I suggest the following…

Decision Making Template

  1. Put a time limit on making your decision and stick to it.
  2. Ask yourself (and write down the answers in a table) the following questions…


What will happen if I do?

What will happen if I don’t?  

Won’t won’t Happen if I do?

What won’t happen if I Don’t

You should now have a little grid of answers, a structure, to work from.  It’s almost like a mini risk assessment.  If you need to, then bring in a second or third party, but remember you have your deadline and stick to it.




Tamoxifen And Anxiety.  Is There A Link?

Tamoxifen And Anxiety. Is There A Link?

tamoxifen and anxietyI don’t know about you, but to me the list of side effects from taking Tamoxifen just seems to keep on racking up and up.

Up until now I’ve avoided reading the list of POTENTIAL side effects on the packet, for fear of attributing every ache, pain and niggle to it, but it’s time to have a proper look.

Tamoxifen and Anxiety

Anxiety, and depression, is given as a side effect on the leaflet of my packet, but I’m not at all clear what normal anxiety is, which may sound a bit loopy.  The trouble is that after breast cancer there is stuff to worry about. Fears about recurrence,  problems with the medication, fears about it popping up somewhere else.  EEK.

I’ve also read about tamoxifen takers experiencing panic attacks – which is different to a general feeling of anxiety.

Right now my womb is being looked into and so I’m on tenterhooks whilst all that’s happening.  So is the churning in my stomach and the mild panic attacks over really inconsequential rubbish could be happening because of that, or is the anxiety genuinely out of proportion to the problem, and merely a chemical manifestation of the Tamoxifen? Who knows.

However, if you are dealing with anxiety, it can be useful to understand that it might arise from the Tamoxifen.  If the anxiety is not your fault, or out of your control, this means you can stop beating yourself up and trying to resolve it from within, and focus your energy on just dealing with the side effect, because you’re off the hook as far as being the cause goes.

Is The Anxiety Due To A Menopausal ‘Side Effect’ Caused By Taking Tamoxifen?

Another suggestion is that the anxiety is a hormonal, menopausal type response. In other words, taking Tamoxifen creates a menopausal situation in your body, and any anxiety is due to the menopause. However, do be careful if you decide to take stuff to help, because many of the supplements to help with the effects of the menopause are contraindicated for anyone taking tamoxifen.

Do Doctors And Onco’s Acknowledge A Link Between Tamoxifen And Anxiety?

Doctors are still people and so have differing opinions and prejudices.  When I asked my pharmacist if Tamoxifen was linked to anxiety she told me a definite NO.  When a new chemist shop opened in our village and I went to pick up my prescription, that pharmacist told me it was a well known side effect.

Whilst some patients report their doctor immediately made the link between Tamoxifen and anxiety, others were told it didn’t exist and sent away. Given the subjective nature of anxiety, this is perhaps understandable, although it doesn’t help much when you’re trying to deal with it.

What Could Anxiety Due To Tamoxifen Feel Like?

  • Over-reacting to minor disturbances or being easily startled. I believe this can sneak up on you and you may need to delve deep and think back to before all of this started.  If you are jumping out of your skin just because the dog barks or the kids are shouting, would you have reacted like that before?
  • A churning of adrenalin which won’t subside
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling light headed and dizzy
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Feeling too hot or cold
  • A sense of foreboding – there’s something wrong@! But goodness knows what.
  • Worrying about trivia.  By trivia I mean things like the bank wrongly applying charges to your account.  It’s usually sorted out, it’s a part of life and shouldn’t induce fear or mild panic.

Basically – are you sweating the small stuff?

Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a definitive answer about how to distinguish justified anxiety, which understandably takes over from time to time, from a tamoxifen induced anxiety.  Neither is there a clear solution, although the following ideas did come up in my research:

  • Take the tamoxifen at night so that some of the symptoms have dissipated by the morning
  • Take 1mg of Diazepam to relieve the symptoms of anxiety
  • Lexapro, Effexor and Celexa are antidepressant type drugs which can be taken with Tamoxifen.  There were a number of posters on the forums who reported Lexapro helped them
  • Rescue Remedy is one of the Bach Flower Remedies.  This particular one is for comfort and reassurance and there’s also a night-time formula
  • Aromatherapy
  • Split the dose in two and take it in the morning and the evening, instead of all in one go.
  • See a Healer or Reiki therapist to help you deal with any negative energy which could, apparently, make it difficult for the positive thoughts to penetrate
  • Use candles (not like that!). Turn off the lights, light some candles and have a long soak in the bath, or relax in bed.  A glass or two of wine helps as well, but the soothing light of the candles are the key.
  • Relax your muscles, especially around the eyes.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds because tense muscles is a habit which needs to be reformed into relaxed muscles.  Eye muscles use loads of energy which makes the effort of relaxing worthwhile – if you get my drift.

WARNING: The above is not medical advice and you should always check with your doctor before you do any of these.  If your doctor is prescribing something to help you with the anxiety, do remind them that you’re taking tamoxifen.



Can I Interest You In A Tea Cosy?

Can I Interest You In A Tea Cosy?

life after breast cancer craftingThis is about another surprising turn since I started sorting out my life after breast cancer.

What’s that got to do with tea cosies? Well it’s all about being ready to take a different path, do something different and in my case something creative.

I’ve always been a corporate woman, writing out my reports on time and speaking the gobbledygook of corporate land.  I know what a KPI is (and they’re not fun).  I got used to earned my living (apart from a brief spell as a Saturday Girl in a hairdressers when I was 12) using my brain, its always been about my brain organising services and spewing it all out the other side in the local government format.

After the main part of my breast cancer treatment ended and it was just me and the Tamoxifen, I tried to hop back into my same old mould. But it wasn’t working.  It took me weeks which started creeping into months, to work out that maybe I needed to try a different approach by doing something practical and, yes, crafty. Creative if you will.

Perhaps I would have arrived there eventually but I do wonder if hitting the doldrums after breast cancer was a godsend because it forced me to re-evaluate what I was up to.  A boot up the arse to kick me into a completely new direction.

I didn’t actually end up making tea cosies (but that could be next if I find the right market) but I did start making rugs, which is possibly feeding my annoying hoarding habbit.  Instead of throwing out old clothes and fabrics I can now recycle them into wall hangings, cushion covers and, yes, tea cosies.

Along the way I dispelled the myth that I’m no good with my hands because it turns out I am.  I also discovered my talent for matching colours.  So that’s two good things which have come out of my life after breast cancer.

Forgive me if this article makes it sound as though I was sat in the chair feeling a bit glum and 2 seconds later decided that something creative would spur me into action and found a set of rugging tools lost down the back of the settee and off I went. Sadly it took a lot longer than that.  But what have I learned?

  • That when you’re looking for something different in your life, the tendency is to kid yourself that you’re taking a totally new direction, when you’re really just trying out the same old weed in a different pond.
  • That when you take a new path in life you learn new things about yourself.
  • That bringing something to life using colour is a joy and that 30 minutes sitting in silence whilst your handy-work gets one step closer to completion is the best stress buster ever.

And the tea cosy. Well that’s thanks to my sister-in-law Karen, who came up with that idea for my cottage industry.

And I do like a good cup of tea.