Make your mark…



I am sitting in my living room on my laptop on a damp, miserable Thursday morning. There are limp England flags plastered to the walls of houses down my street, looking rather dismal despite our success so far in the Euros. My dogs are miserable and damp, and quite frankly I could live without the odour of wet Labrador while I write. Across the country people are visiting their polling stations, voting on whether or not the UK should remain within the EU or strike out on its own and leave.

In the last week I have been pilloried by people from both sides of the argument when I dared to publically state on Facebook that I was struggling to decide how I would vote. I was looking for more input to make up my mind, and as I value the opinions of my friends and family it seemed a sensible thing to do. Find out what they were thinking, browse more facts and figures, share some questions. This little exercise has resulted in a culling of my Facebook “friends” since I do believe in free speech and I believe that everyone has a right to an opinion. What they don’t have a right to do is to privately and publicly attack me on Social Media, I can choose not to be “friends” any more, so I exercised my right to eject them from my life! Felt quite liberating too!

However, some of my other friend’s comments did lead me to me questioning some long held beliefs that I have held. Asking myself what I meant by one of two sweeping statements I have made during the long months of campaigning. I have wrestled with my conscience and thought long and hard about the pros and cons of MY vote, from MY point of view.

I went through a stage of thinking that I would not even go and vote because I was simply unable to choose. But then I thought about how hard we fought for the right to vote, and how there are still places in the world where women are fighting to have a voice, and I realized that not voting was not an option.

I did not actually 100% make up my mind until I was there, standing in the booth with the voting paper in my hand. I looked at it, in black and white, and listened to my heart and my head before placing my cross in one box, posting it in the ballot box and heading back out into the rain.

It was actually a huge relief that, for me at least, it was done.

So much rhetoric, and warnings of dire consequences whichever way we voted, and the truth is NOBODY actually knows what will definitely happen, and whatever the result, we will never really know how it would have turned out if the vote had gone the other way!

I am not going to share which way I eventually voted. It’s between me and my conscience. No one else’s business, and whichever way it goes we will simply cope with the circumstances like we always do, and always have done.

Life goes on. My family and friends love me. The rain is still raining. The sun will shine again. (Actually as I proof-read this, the sun burst into my living room through the window!) People will continue to post cute pictures of puppies and kittens on Facebook, and tweet meaningless….erm I mean meaningful things on Twitter in 140 words or less, the world will continue to spin on its axis.

I have realized this week that whatever I am “going through” and sharing in my blog, it is nothing compared to some people. Trying to get my head around a lack of self-esteem, a struggle with my health and weight, learning to deal with my “issues” is a very small thing. There are people out there struggling with so much worse. I am really working on “living in the moment”, appreciating every small thing in my life that is good, and there is a lot! And those things will not be affected by a vote on whether to remain in the EU or not. They are the important things and will transcend whatever economic reality we find ourselves in.

Appreciate the good stuff! But don’t forget to vote!

Here are my damp, and smelly, dogs, Barney and Ben 🙂

dogs voting

Happy Fathers Day…

Fathers Day always makes me sad. I loved my Dad so much, but he left home when I was 16, and although we did spend some time together in later years, we had been estranged for over 10 years when he died. He never knew my daughter Zoe, and he missed out on so much with her.

I am still bitter sometimes, and angry, and so envious of everyone that has or has had a strong dad in their lives. My dad was selfish and caused a lot of hurt. I have forgiven him, but it still hurts, even at the ripe old age of 57.

I have written about this before of course. But today I have a slightly different perspective.

You see, I went to a school reunion last night. It’s the first one I have ever been to! I didn’t really want to go, even up to 10 minutes before I went I was hesitant. But I did, and I am really glad that I did. It was fun, very weird…but fun. Interestingly most of the people from my year group had pretty much the same personality, as far as I could see. For me? I felt more confident, more sure of myself. Much of my school years were spent trying to fit in and not really knowing where my fit was.

Those of you that follow my blogs will know that that has been me for many years, but in the last five years I have found my way, established a more confident “me”

My year group are planning to meet up again, and I am looking forward to it. There was a genuine fondness between us which I think we should nurture.

So what has this to do with Fathers Day. One of my old school friends asked after my parents and was reminiscing about being at my house. And he said “I loved your dad, he was so cool”.

So, there you go Dad. Happy Fathers Day. You were cool, I just forgot that.


And by the way, Happy Fathers Day to my lovely Nigel. Although he didn’t come into Zoe’s life until she was 9 years old, he has been a wonderful Dad, and they love each other dearly. He is pretty cool too.

Hug your Dad, tell him you love him. Tell him he’s “cool” – while you have the chance.


Ready for take off…

I just had an amazing weekend. I flew to Aberdeen with Nigel to attend the annual festival of the company Enjo UK, one of my businesses. It was a brilliant event in a gorgeous castle-like hotel, working with some of the most genuine people I have ever come across. I was made welcome, embraced, gathered up and gathered in by this bunch of people, most of whom I have never met before, and I know that I have made some amazing new friends.

The weekend had an unexpected ending when our flight was cancelled and 7 of us chose to drive all the way home from Aberdeen in two hire cars, driving all through the night. It was an incredibly bonding experience, a real adventure! And despite being exhausted I have ridden the week so far on a wave of exhilaration, and I finally feel as though I have discovered my path – it lit up before me like a runway expecting the touchdown of a Super jet! Opportunities keep arriving! Exciting times ahead.

But back to the festival. Direct Marketing conferences are always very positive affairs. An opportunity for testimonials, recognition, appreciation and forward planning. What’s not to like? And there is always an element of personal development, which regular readers will know is something I love!

One of the features of our weekend was a couple of hours with a lady called Patricia Bacon. Patricia is a coach and a couple of things that she took us through rather took me by surprise. At one point she asked us to turn to our neighbor and pay them a compliment. That bit was easy – but accepting the compliment that they gave us? How hard was that? My lovely companion was easy to compliment, she is young, beautiful, passionate and very sweet. She threw compliments my way and quite frankly it made me squirm! And I think that nearly every other person in the room felt that way too! It is very, very hard to receive a compliment without joking, or brushing it off, when we should be just saying “thank you”.

At the beginning of this week, I received many accolades and compliments from lots of different people. For some reason it seemed to be “tell Penny how great she is” week. People were “impressed” and “inspired” by me, wanted to share things with me and quote me! I am not sharing this so that you can add your “but you are wonderful….” comments (you were going to, right?). But rather to tell you how I felt. I was feeling unworthy, embarrassed, uncomfortable and quite frankly a fraud! Worried that I would be found out because I generally do not believe that I am any of the things that “they” said I was.

Sure, I can always be counted on for an inspirational quote or a joke, I think I am great at understanding people so can be counted on to usually say the right thing at the right time, and I always try my best to help people when they need it. I have a good sense of humour. But, and it is a BIG but. I am not, or more accurately, I do not feel “successful”. I am a nice person but quite frankly I am not yet the successful businesswoman I need to be.

Anyway, I have been mulling this over and today I had a bit of a revelation (yes gentle reader, another one!).

I have spent most of my life feeling as though I was on the outside looking in. Whenever I enter a room I feel as though I have just missed the punchline, or perhaps I have walked in on some secret club and I don’t know the password. Or that I was too dumb to “get” it, that people were talking in some secret language that I was unable to translate. This even goes right back to school.

Now this feeling has definitely held me back. I am over-sensitive because I dread making a fool of myself, or offending, or being pushy…and it has definitely affected my “success” in my businesses because I hold back there too, reigning in my passion for my products, and my beliefs, terrified of overstepping the mark. I talk the talk, but definitely do not walk the walk!

I have developed strategies for coping with all this fear. I am a great bluffer, treating each social occasion as a theatrical performance – after all I am a Leo, and we love a stage! I have been a clown, a drama queen, the quiet one in the corner, the entertainer, the cook/kitchen staff and on occasion, the punch bag. Hiding in plain sight. But often dying inside at some perceived slight or exclusion. For many years I was the “jolly fat girl” hiding my pain and lack of confidence behind my weight. Wow, this is painful stuff!

Those of you who have patiently followed my slow, agonizing progress over the last few years know that I have discovered little bits of this along the way, but I feel as though I have turned a very significant corner this week. Although I am not yet on the home straight I have a glimpse of the finishing line, I think.

I am still not quite ready to battle my weight and my attitude to food. I am eating reasonably healthily and maintaining my weight. My blood sugar has settled down a little so I am feeling a bit better. The coaching I have invested in is helping my perspective. The new challenges in my working life, and my discovery of something new that I feel very passionate about, the new people I am working with, new friends – all of these things are contributing to me finding my way through the door that I have been frightened to open. The answer to my weight issues are very probably on the other side of that closed door.

I need to discover my brave and wear it proudly on my lapel. Wave it high in the air and just believe that I have every right to join the club I have felt excluded from. Or that I have excluded myself from.

In recent years I have been helped by the lovely Nigel. Corny but true, he has been the “wind beneath my wings”. He has an unwavering powerful belief in me that never falters. But at the end of the day, the only person who can cross this particular finishing line is me. Better limber up!

Post Script: I was writing this blog tonight and then came across the senseless savage news of the murder of Jo Cox. She seemed to be a courageous, feisty lady who fought hard for everything she believed in. My thoughts are with her husband and children. RIP Jo.runway

June is busting out….


june is busting out all over

Well here we are, 6th June and I was very quiet last week, wasn’t I? Despite big plans for June I was so totally not in the right mindset last week. It was so cold and grey, we had the heating on and although I made a stab at eating a little better (and did ok-ish) I was not really feeling positive enough to trumpet it to the world.

But I planned!

This morning the sun is shining, the sky is really blue and I so have my positive hat on. So, let’s do this!

Here’s some bullet points of my plans  for this week:

  • Building some structure into my day/week
  • An early power-hour every morning, taking time for me to read, meditate and clear my head
  • Healthy low-carb eating
  • Back to the Toning Rooms for regular exercise at least 3 times a week
  • A little mini accountability blog every day
  • Firming up basic business plans for my businesses
  • Picking up the phone and talking to some customers

Plenty to be going on with there!

Next weekend I am off to Aberdeen for my first major Enjo event and am really looking forward to learning lots more about this business and the products.

Learning. It’s a huge part of my life right now. I guess we never stop learning, if we do we risk missing huge opportunities and I really believe it keeps your brain functioning! But I wonder if we appreciate the learning process when we are younger.

This last week I set out to learn about the EU before taking part in a vote that will determine the future of this country from quite some time. As with all study I had to shut out the noise and scaremongering to try and discover some facts. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually already knew!

I am also learning a lot from my lovely coach Ian. My weekly conversations with him on a Saturday are providing much food for thought. We are working through a well-known book/program – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Yes, I can see some of you who know me well sniggering in the background, but just go with me on this!

We do meander a little as the book triggers many realisations and revelations, some professional and some intensely personal and very emotional. But this is a process that I am finding is changing my attitudes and helping me decide what motivates me and what I actually want out of life. I thought I knew, but I am not sure I still want the same things as I did two years ago. Life goals need constant review and renewal.

I had a reminder on Thursday of my reasons for launching myself on another round of healthy eating, self-discovery, blogging etc. My hospital appointment for my eyes is set for 27th June, and I have a blood test form so that I can set up an appointment with my diabetic team. For my own peace of mind and confidence I need to be already making an effort when I ask for help.

Today I am sitting out in the garden working in the sunshine, feeling determined and positive. Stay with me, hold my hand, all encouragement welcomed.