Monday, 15 January 2018

Darkness to light - Day 47

Day 47 (Tuesday 16th January 2018)
47 years ago, on the 16th January 1981, Leon Spinks (the American professional
boxer who in only his 8th professional fight 
won the undisputed heavyweight championship
in after defeating 
Muhammad Ali) was mugged and robbed. After being attacked in the
street he was taken to a motel and had $450000 worth of clothes, accessories and jewellery
taken, including his gold teeth. Spinks' boxing heavyweight title was short lived and
after boxing he became a wrestler, winning the world title in 1992 (he is the only person to hold
both the boxing and wrestling world titles). He has suffered heavily as a result of boxing - in
2012 he was diagnosed as suffering from shrinkage in his brain due to the impact of opponents' punches
Today is my father's birthday. He is turning 87. He is an amazing man (and a much loved father and grandfather) and I hope he has a wonderful day. 

The author of today's post, the highly talented photographer Paul Clarke, took a wonderful picture of my father at my eldest son's 21st birthday and I treasure it. If you have not seen his work, I urge you to click onto Paul's website: - it's no wonder that he has won multiple awards. He has an eye for detail (he writes beautifully too - his blog on his business site is worth reading). You can also find Paul on TwitterFlickr, and Facebook. He is witty, engaging, perspicacious and highly intelligent - a joy to spend time with.

It perhaps should come as no surprise that a photographer has much to say about darkness and light.

PS I have used various photos that Paul took this year to illustrate his post - you can see them (and more) on his blog and website.


In my professional world, the world of photos and images, nothing happens without light. Literally, nothing. Seeing it, shaping it, playing with it – that’s what we do.

If I look back over the last decade as I’ve made the shift into this world, I can pick out distinct points when I started to think of light in different ways. How it might be brought into focus; how it behaves in a tight field of view; what colour it is (even when it’s “white”) and how it’s less important whether something is generally bright or dark, but much more important how light and dark contrast with each other.

This was taken in bright sunshine using the sun as the "lightbulb",
 but tightening up the camera to enable only the brightest light to get through

Over 2017 there’ve been times of deep personal darkness for me, but also plenty of light. Shakespeare nailed the very human need for contrast in Henry IV Part One, of course: “If all the year were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work” - and we have many modern equivalents.

We need the light so that we can recognise the dark, and the dark so that we can appreciate the light.

As I’ve hauled my way slowly into this new industry (from a post-40 standing start), my own lights and darks have happened in different ways. Sometimes they’ve been about finding any business at all. Or about overcoming some technical difficulty, or unfamiliarity with equipment.

This collection of more than 190 antique and modern pieces of photographic equipment
was neatly arranged and photographed by Portland-based photographer 
Jim Golden.
The equipment was borrowed from members of Portland’s photo community.

But the later stages have been the hardest to conquer. Putting it simply: if you try to do something well, you’ll get better at it. If you get better at it, you’ll attract tougher assignments. If you get tougher assignments, you’ll set higher standards for yourself.

It’s a spiral of expectation and challenge, and in the second half of this year it bit me. The particular client will never know of course – we’re good at hiding our own terrors in this regard. The job always gets done, and done well. But the process – that moment of realising that you’re through to a new level, and must deliver, can be awfully painful.

Composition study: shells by Amiria Gale

I think it’s something that’s particularly tough in the creative arts. What I make – by definition – has never existed before. I produce concepts, not just outputs. Were I making steel rivets, there’d be some opportunity to make a better rivet, but not much. I’d be measured on speed and consistency of delivery, but the product would be a known.

Making unknowns – whether in words, music or pictures – is different. Working with humans, as I do, means that the subject’s reaction to the unknown thing yet to be made will also be an unknown. Unknowns piled on unknowns! Where’s the light to be found in all of that? It’s very easy to fall into the dark.

I did fall, and at the lowest point I felt like giving it all up. If I lost confidence, then there’d be no creativity. No creativity, and there’d be no clients. No clients and… and so the spiral descends.

But I pulled back from the edge, this time. Going back to the simplest principles of how light works with dark. Sticking with my instincts about where the strength of an image would really be found. Stripping away composition and complexity to tell a story with as small a number of elements as possible.

October wedding photo by Paul Clarke
The job was delivered, eventually. The client was happy, immediately. The dark… didn’t recede as such, but took on a new texture. And so did the light. And so we head into a new year.

However brightly or dimly the light shines for you this year, I hope that you find plenty of contrast. That’s really what keeps us going, after all.

Seagulls by Paul Clarke

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Mindful reflection - Day 46

Day 46 (Monday 15th January 2018)
46% of people suffering from a mental health problem also have a long-term physical
health problem and 30% of people with a long-term physical health problem also have
a mental health problem
. Monday 15th January 2018 has been calculated as this year's
Blue Monday (the "most depressing day of the year".) The concept was devised by a
travel firm, Sky, in 2005 as part of an advertising campaign, but the concept has
been perpetuated by the media. A combination of factors such as period after the festive fun,
levels of personal debt, hours of daylight and weather are all included in a pseudo-scientific
calculation to determine Blue Monday's date. 
[W + (D-d)] x T^Q} ÷ [M x N_a], with ‘W’ standing
for weather, ‘D’ standing for debt, ‘d’ standing for monthly salary, ‘M’ for motivational levels
and ‘Na’ standing for the feeling of a need to take action. 
In fact, people suffering from
depression are not simply triggered into poor mental health by a date, people suffer at any
and all times of the year and there is no scientific basis to Blue Monday. This year the
Samaritans are turning Blue Monday into Brew Monday and simply encouraging people to talk. 
My son is safely returned to Durham and I have headed further north, to meet with a colleague who works across The Border. It is probable that he thinks of me as a Sassenach, but I actually think of myself as a Scot, despite living in London. My heart always sings as I cross the Border and many of the happiest times in my life have been alone, surrounded by awe inspiring scenery and wildlife or with family and friends near where my grandmother was born and where she returned to live near the end of her life. I must confess that I am looking forward to Burn's Night a bit later this month. It's fun to have an excuse to go out and celebrate.

Today's post is by Ian Pettigrew - a person who deserves to be celebrated. I am blessed to call Ian my friend and we have also done work together and travelled to Uganda together as part of the inaugural Connecting HR Africa team that worked with and for the charity Retrak that supports street children. Ian is Chair of the Board of Retrak and just last week the charity became part of the Hope for Justice Family (the charity Hope for Justice undertakes work to combat modern slavery and trafficking - both huge dangers for vulnerable street children). As you will see from his post, Ian lives a busy but fulfilling life. If you don't already, I urge you to connect with him on Twitter (his handle is @KingfisherCoach) or else read his blogs on his business site: Kingfisher Coaching. Ian cares deeply about people and is a superb coach with a talent for helping others to build upon their strengths.


It feels very self-indulgent for me to work out loud in reflecting on my year, but here goes…

2017 got off to a dreadful start on 1st January 2017 when our beautiful dog, Jake, collapsed and died on his afternoon walk aged just 5. If you know me, then you’ll know how attached I was to Jake and how I loved our long walks in Happy Valley. I was devastated to lose him so soon.

I was so touched by an outpouring of kindness from people and I was really moved when Simon Heath sent me a drawing of Jake.

After a few months of being a dog-less household, we took the plunge and another Border Collie, a little fluffy bundle of joy called Buddy arrived into our lives. I say bundle of joy, but I think he’s actually 10% Border Collie and 90% Monkey. He’s been a nightmare; being really disobedient and not really developing any connection with us. But, hard work and affection has paid off and he’s turned into a really lovely, loving dog. It is great to have Buddy although I miss Jake loads and I still can’t bring myself to walk in Happy Valley, as it doesn’t feel happy any more.

My other key reflection on 2017 is that is has been stupidly busy and I’ve worked far too hard. I’ve got three main things that I do; my work (Kingfisher Coaching), being chair of a charity (Retrak), and being a lay minister (a ‘Reader’) in the Church of England. In 2017, I’ve had a lot of times where it has felt like I’ve had full-on busy days of work work, then evenings doing charity work, and weekends doing church work. That’s why I’ve been quieter on Twitter; I have a level of busyness above which social media begins to feel like an unhelpful distraction. Top this off with an ongoing knee problem (which means I still can’t run) and a willingness to use my level of busyness as an excuse to put off some things I didn’t really fancy doing (e.g. writing and going to the gym!), and I’ve been a little frustrated with 2017.

Despite my frustration, my year doesn’t really qualify as darkness and I’m aware of the multitudes of people who have had terrible years and would very gladly swap for a year where their dog died and they worked too hard.

And if I’m being really, really honest with myself (and with you); I’m more frustrated with myself than I am with 2017. Because I feel like I’ve been a bit of a hypocrite this year. As I read what I’ve written above, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve helped people deal with the kind of frustrations I’ve described. I’ve helped loads of people:
   to accept that bad stuff happens
   to overcome irrational thought processes
   to appreciate that you can’t work too hard all of the time
   to realise that you can do anything but you can’t do everything
   not to get lulled into a false perspective and lose sight of the big picture
   to appreciate that self-care is not selfish
I enjoy working hard, I care about being professional, and I’m ambitious (not about image, status, or money but about impact) so it is important that I apply what I know.

The dawn? As I reflect on this year, work has been brilliant; I love what I do, I get to make a big impact, and I’m doing what I’m best at and what I care about. It does feel like I’m getting paid to do my hobby and this year, I’ve been joined by a full-time Project Administrator which frees me up to do more of what I’m best at. It is an honour to do what I do with Retrak, we’re making great progress in transforming the lives of street children, and another team of amazing people came to Uganda for the 2nd Connecting HR Africa trip (subsequently joining the people from the first trip in becoming amazing ambassadors and supporters!). And I feel similarly fulfilled in my work at Church.

In terms of practicing what I preach, there’s two other things I’ve said to load of people this year and I’ve not really said to myself:
   There’s a name for people who struggle with this kind of stuff: human
   Cut yourself some slack
As 2018 dawns, I’ll continue to work to ‘practice what I preach’ and when I don’t, I’ll remind myself that I am only human and I will cut myself some slack!

Here’s to 2018!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Wisdom Within - Day 45

Day 45 (Sunday 14th January 2018)
45 years - the length of time that Margrethe II of Denmark has been on the throne.
She was crowned on the 14th January 1972. Margrethe is the first queen to have
ascended the Danish throne since 1412 and the first Danish monarch not
named Frederick or Christian since 1513

Today I am driving to Durham.

It gives me huge pleasure to welcome back to the Advent Blogs series my former colleague and on-going friend Katharine Bourke. She is a co-founder and Director of South West Growth Service (@SWGrowthService), a consultancy that supports small businesses, enabling them to develop, adapt and grow. Katharine is a certified mBIT coach (for those who don't know, mBIT stands for multiple brain integration techniques). Outside work, she is keen on walking and exploring the beautiful countryside where she lives. When Katharine and I worked together we were based in London, but she was born and raised in a farm on Dartmoor and she has returned to her roots (but not farming, although she is helping things grow). Since moving West she has founded a successful IT business and spent four years helping to deliver the government's Growth Accelerator and Business Growth Service in Devon and Cornwall, before co-establishing the South West Growth Service.

Katharine has many varied interests and knowledge that she shares. I recommend that you follow her on twitter (her handle is @KatharineBDevon) and she assure me that 2018 is the year when she is going to resume writing - so watch out for her posts, articles and blog...

PS Most of the pictures have been provided by Katharine herself.


Darkness and Dawn: The people who inspire us and our wisdom within

As another year draws to a close, so begin the flurry of ‘best of’ summaries, which always make me reflect on the year that has passed. When Kate asked if I’d like to contribute this year, I thought long and hard and the topic that keeps coming back is a memory of someone really important to me which aligns with thoughts about the wisdom we have within.

With all the distractions of modern day life, it has become all too easy to ignore our inner voice, distracted by the next ‘must watch’ series on Netflix, whatever is trending on Twitter not to mention the constant challenges of keeping our home and work lives in some kind of balance. Everyone I speak with seems to have a tale of how they started searching for something on the internet only to find themselves somewhere completely different before they go back to what it was that they were looking up (and I blame the growth of digital remarketing for some of this!).

I feel I began to understand that we all had inner wisdom thanks to the wonderful relationship I had with my grandmother. She was physically disabled by a car crash near Dawlish in 1971, when I was 4, and as a result she lived with or near us for most of my childhood.  She was a remarkable woman, an avid reader, a lover of classical music, good coffee and great chocolate. Some of my fondest memories were Sunday mornings when she would make good coffee and serve it along with something extraordinary. I may not have drunk coffee in those days, but as a little girl growing up on a Dartmoor farm in the 70s and 80s I loved trying all the tasty things she had discovered! When I started working in London, I spent many hours in an era before the internet, tracking down a chocolate maker she had shared stories about, none other than Charbonnel and Walker, who were then only available from their little shop in the arcade off Bond Street. This was of course long before anything like an internet search engine. All I had to go on was her tales of them being delivered to the Scottish estate where she was working, and a London telephone directory or two. I was thrilled to find them and be able to give her a box similar to those she’d told me about on those mornings, wishing her a happy 90th birthday in lettered chocolates:

She also encouraged me to listen to music and put into words what I heard, what it meant to me and how it made me feel. It was like a game then and I loved giving it a go. Listening to Chi Mai, used as the theme tune for the Life and Times of David Lloyd George in the 1980s, always provokes a happy tear as I remember sitting in her lounge, trying to describe what I was hearing: Try it. Do you hear a river? Or do you hear something else…?

Despite her physical frailty, she continued to live her life as fully as she could with the adaptations that were available to her then (a walking frame to start with and a pretty basic wheelchair as she aged). She listened to her music, and as her sight deteriorated with age, and audio books were only just beginning, I loved spending time reading her favourite books to her onto cassette tapes as I was no longer living at home. I still have the recording I made for her of Richard Bach’s ‘Jonathan Livingstone Seagull’ along with one of Krishnamurti’s ‘At the Feet of the Master’.

In her late teens and twenties my gran spent time with all kinds of discussion groups including Theosophists which culminated in a visit to Ommen in the late 1920s to hear Jiddu Krishnamurti speak. I will always remember the way she described being out walking in the woods when she came across him, walking alone between sessions. Her recall of that moment was powerful. She spoke of the way he made her feel even though they didn’t speak, how he seemed so serene and peaceful, at ease in his body, taking time out in the beautiful woods near Castle Eerde. This photo reminds me of that moment, even though it is one of him in front of a large crowd:

I still remember having conversations with her about world religions and particularly her readings of Krishnamurti and his thinking. She spoke about having an inner voice, a place within us where we have the answers we need if we make the time to listen:

I have found my Liberation and because I have attained that Kingdom of Happiness which dwells within me” Krishnamurti – Ommen Camp Fire Talk 1927

Blessed with the time I spent with my gran after school most days and at weekends, she introduced me to the quietness we have within, to a form of meditation which began for me as that young child sitting quietly, listening to beautiful classical music in silence, then talking about what I had heard and how it made me feel.

Having spent more time meditating in these past few years (see I’ve realised that for me this has been the missing link for so many years. I feel different when I don’t make time for those walks or to meditate each day. I notice that I’m not as productive at work, it is harder to stay focused, and as an Executive Coach, harder to be present for my clients if I don’t make time to be still before a session.

Amidst the many other distractions we now have, I have found that time spent out walking, something that most of us are physically capable of doing, or sitting quietly, noticing our breath, is invaluable. And I know I’m not the only one! There is evidence that we make better decisions when we press the pause button for a moment. Business leaders talk about how they meditate or use mindfulness to aid them in making good decisions. Medicine has also recognised the link between our physical and mental health. Have a look at the number of articles that connect depression with irritable bowel syndrome and indeed how meditation has been found to help many sufferers.

In the last ten years or so neuroscience has also proved that we have centres of intelligence in our cardiac (heart) system and enteric (gut) system. With all the same hallmarks of the brain we all refer to in our heads, our heart and gut also have large numbers of neurons and ganglia, neural cells and the functional attributes that include perceiving and assimilating information. Is it any wonder we often feel a bit sluggish after a big meal?! Or hear how people have followed their heart when achieving a goal? We talk about passion in business these days, something I don’t remember when I started my career nearly 30 years ago.

All too often we ignore the wisdom these other brains offer, hence this attempt to encourage you to make a bit of time to be able to hear them. And to suggest that next time you shed tears unexpectedly, consider whether your heart may be trying to tell you something. Or when you take a really deep breath, perhaps your gut is inviting you to listen...

I will always fondly remember those quiet times with my gran, and am guessing that you may well have someone like her in your life, someone who encourages or enables you to be closer to the calmness that is within you. Someone who inspires you with their ability to face up to life’s challenges. Many have already contributed to Kate’s Advent Blogs this year and in previous years.

I hope this will have encouraged you to reflect on who you are and what makes you the person you are today. Please make time to listen in for that inner wisdom. Start with a few minutes each day and allow it to build. Making time each day to sit and breathe or take a walk can deliver powerful results. And when you discover what works for you, do more of it and enjoy exploring that peaceful place, the calm that leads towards your inner wisdom.

Friday, 12 January 2018

What if...? - Day 44

Day 44 (Saturday 13th January 2018)
44 years ago, in 1974, Joe Pass, the exceptional jazz guitarist, was awarded theGrammy Award for Best Jazz Performance. He was born on the 13th January 1929and commenced playing gigs when he was just 14. He developed a heroin addictionin his late teens and spent much of the 1950s in prison. After a two year rehab, hereturned to the music scene recording with many of the greats including Frank Sinatra,Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Johnny Mathis, Herb Ellis, Duke Ellington and herecorded 6 albums with Ella Fitzgerald (The below YouTube clip isfrom their performance in Hannover in 1975).

I'm off to the theatre with friends today. We are going to see The Ferryman, it won three awards at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards back in December (Best Play; Best Director; and Best Emerging Talent). I saw it at the Royal Court when it first opened, it will be interesting to see what I get from a second viewing. I really hope that my companions love it.

I bumped into today's author last year when I was at the theatre, on an outing with my youngest son. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, given that Michael Paterson initially read English at university and, in his own words "back when newspapers were newspapers and the internet was a baby, he used to be a reporter." He saw the light and decided to change careers into HR. He is a quick learner and had found his niche; he was promoted to Head of HR within five years of gaining his CIPD qualifications. Quick witted, commercial and engaging, he is a popular and knowledgeable professional who has an excellent track record of helping organisations and those within them to achieve results. His roots are in Scotland but he lives in south London (in a district that regularly is cited as the "best place to live") with his wife and three gorgeous children.

I am delighted that Michael will be coming to work with me and my team a little later in 2018.


I was well into adult life before realising that a true assessment of darkness can require more listening than looking.

On a whim, I took an evening course on business coaching, starting off curious but a little sceptical (it is, after all, easy to mock coaching) and ending up engaged and fascinated. Principally, I’m a believer in using coaching to help others, but the tutor convinced us of the fringe benefits of coaching oneself, questioning rigorously every preconceived notion rather than passively listening to our train of thought. This can be a battle when the internal monologue can reach 4,000 words a minute. But many find it a worthwhile battle.

So, how would a coach approach a theme of darkness and dawn?
We’re inevitably drawn to start with the phrase ‘the night is darkest just before the dawn’, attributed to Thomas Fuller. It is patronising to quote that to someone who lost a relative in the Grenfell Tower blaze in 2017 or even someone who managed to survive four nightmarish years of occupation in Raqqa before its liberation. These situations are the extremes that most of us never face.

But sometimes we can benefit from applying coaching principles to everyday life. Why do we think this nuanced situation is going to turn out badly? Are we making assumptions? On what basis? What emotions are unleashed after we make an assumption? Why assume the worst? It’s easy to react to the ‘what ifs’. I tease my wife: “Are you test driving an emotion by working out how you will feel if this thing that probably won’t happen does happen?”

Do we coach ourselves in darkness or listen to ourselves unquestioningly?  It can help to practice the difference.
The Christmas story is set at a dark time in the history of the people of Israel. It takes place 400 years after the end of the Old Testament (the equivalent passage of time is from Shakespeare’s death to today); there has been a long period of divine silence. The Romans have invaded. Things look grim. It was easy to ask “what if this never changes?” and get depressed. But the Christian tradition is that in Israel’s darkest hour, dawn was coming. In retrospect, what looked like darkness wasn’t.
Some of us in the UK having been turning on the radio with dread in recent mornings as England’s cricket team surrendered the Ashes in Australia. We can’t assume the worst. It might not always be like this. Go back to the late 1920s and it was England who pummelled Australia. Then came the greatest batsman of all time, Australia’s Donald Bradman, The Don.

Fortunes were largely reversed for 20 years. The Australian singer Paul Kelly has some gentle wordplay with our theme in his eulogy to The Don, Bradman:

They say the darkest hour is right before the ‘dawn’
And in the hour of greatest slaughter the great avenger is being born.

Our inner monologue is ten times faster than verbal speech and can fire assumptions at us like a machine gun. But one question can slow it right down, whether we are anticipating darkness in 2018 in our lives or just gloom from supporting our chosen team. It’s a question many coaches ask. It’s a question that raises the possibility of dawn. It’s a what if. What if our assumptions are wrong?

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The glimmers of dawn... Day 43

Day 43 (Friday 12th 2018)
43 people witnessed Lee de Forest, an early radio pioneer, as he broadcast phonograph
records for the first-time over radio waves from the Eiffel Tower in Paris on the
12th January 1908. As this was early days for broadcasting, nobody had a receiver
to pick up the signals. Although there are claims that these signals were received over
500 miles away and it is hailed as the first public broadcast. These days wifi uses
radio waves to connect users to the internet, so those of us using wifi to read
this should thank Lee de Forest. The Eiffel Tower was used as a wireless station
for many years. The photograph shows Gustav Eiffel's apartment in the Eiffel Tower
where he entertained Thomas Edison amongst others.
Today I need to encourage my youngest to pack, as he returns to university in the north east of England this weekend. I know he is having a wonderful time when he is there, but it still makes me so sad when he goes away. Part of being a mother...

Tamasin Sutton, the author of today's post, also chose to be based in the north east - leaving London for Newcastle upon Tyne. Some of you may remember her post entitled "Holding On" published as an Advent Blog on New Year's Eve 2016 in which, amongst other things, she talked about the reasons for her move. She works as a freelance HR consultant, with her own business TSHR Limited. Tamasin has over 13 years in various HR management roles across private and public sector organisations. Then in 2014 she decided to establish her own consultancy. She specialises in supporting SMEs and their leaders and has some great feedback from clients. She is qualified in the use of various psychometric tools, as well as being an NVQ assessor with the PTTLS qualification. 

She cares about the HR profession and the people within it - she is a Facilitator with Developing People Globally (DPG) supporting and assessing those studying for the CIPD Level 5 qualifications, as well as having co-established with Melanie Cheung Connecting HR North East - which enables networking and events for HR, L&D and OD professionals in the region. Tamasin is active on social media - you can follow her on Twitter (her handle is @TamasinS). To relax, Tamasin enjoys travelling, but she is happy to unwind with a gin and a chat - although, as her final paragraph shows, she has new, exciting adventures ahead.


This time last year I was in mourning. Suffering a loss I hadn't expected, I didn't want, and I didn't know how to process. I was conflicted, having made a move to the north east, seeing hope for a brighter year, maybe another defining year? Hopeful of a shift from the darkness to the dawn, but wondering if I could do that. Where would my professional life take me? How could I create something from scratch? Who did I know? Where on earth do I start?  You can read about my feelings from last year here.  

The darkness of the winter months consumed me, overtaking my thoughts, masking the glimmers of light, the dawn of a new era.  Perhaps that's too grand a descriptor, but for me, it feels pivotal. The despair, the longing, the grief for something so precious filled my nights with a darkness far more powerful than any eclipse of the sun. Like a few of the wonderful advent blogs relayed so far this series, people sometimes say insensitive or unhelpful things.  "it was for the best". "it wasn't viable". "it wasn't meant to be". It doesn't help. It doesn't help to dispel the darkness, or let you see the rise of the dawn, a new day, a new sense of hope. And how do you come back from that? How do you move on? Have I worked through this darkness? I don't know.... I was scared to look forward for a long time, to hope of a better outcome. I didn't expect to have these feelings.

Establishing professional connections in my new home town has been a challenge. London was easier, more open to the informal, the collaboration, new people. As I reflect on the last year I think about what I can do differently, more of, less of. I've met some fabulously passionate people in my region, one in particular, and she has become a partner in crime in helping to build a community. She provides glimmers of light when closed doors appear all around me. I am thankful for this partnership and for her unwavering passion for HR. It intrigues me that there is closure in many directions and I play a part in this. I can be easily put off when doors are closed, I wonder why people would be interested in speaking to me when they have so many established relationships already. But I then remember that I have something to give, I just need to channel it better, think about what is most important to me, stop the scatter gun effect.  How I respond to situations will make the difference.

I set out to do significant things this year, to build my business, spend time at home. Some of my plans have changed, they have needed to.  2017 was an opportunity for hope, for challenge, for love. 

And it delivered. As I lay on my bed with my precious baby girl on my chest (a whopping 9lb 11oz of her!) I am overwhelmed with love.  This is the dawn of a new stage in life. She is inquisitive, adorable and I am fascinated by every single thing that she does. She gives me something that I didn't even know I missed, or wanted. She is dependent on me, every day she discovers something new, and every day I see the dawn, and not just in the sense of early morning feeds!  Her smile is infectious, even at 13 days old. Her journey into the world was a stark contrast to the pregnancy, it was arduous, complex and unexpected.  Nothing prepares you for what is to come, or what can go wrong. But nothing else matters other than for that precious little person to be safe and healthy, even if you're left battered and bruised. Priorities shift and whilst the darkness still comes, especially at this time of great adjustment, the glimmers of dawn sparkle brightly, in glorious vivid colour, and I am truly thankful.