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Month: February 2018

Success in Life – Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Posted on February 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

I am sure we have all heard of the term “Comfort Zone” – however, I thought it would be helpful to start this article out by defining it. The following definition was found on wiki:

“One’s comfort zone refers to the set of environments and behaviors with which one is comfortable, without creating a sense of risk. A person’s personality can be described by his or her comfort zones. Highly successful persons may routinely step outside their comfort zones, to accomplish what they wish. A comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries. Such boundaries create an unfounded sense of security. Like inertia, a person who has established a comfort zone in a particular axis of his or her life, will tend to stay within that zone without stepping outside of it. To step outside a person’s comfort zone, they must experiment with new and different behaviors, and then experience the new and different responses that then occur within their environment.”

About six months ago I had an awakening moment. This moment came while listening to Bob Proctor’s MP3s on my morning walks. The audio recordings were teaching about purpose and passion. One day on my morning walk it actually dawned on me what my passion was. It is odd, now, in hindsight, I can’t believe it took so long for me to realize what it was. It just appeared in my thoughts during this walk. For years (about 20) I have absorbed books of teachings, books of motivation, books on leadership, audio CDs of the same content and I have eaten them up like they were ice cream sundaes. And on that morning walk, what dawned on me was that I absolutely love personal development and I love applying it into my life and I love applying it while I help others.

My passion is personal development. I have been successful in improving my life through learning about time management (although you don’t REALLY manage time, time just is) and successful in helping to develop other individuals and teams. So personal development was IT. I decided at that moment that this is what I would do. With this new driving force I started looking at, and thinking about, coaching. I got books and took lots of notes and after some time of working on this my life got a bit busy and I decided to put this research on hold. At that time, I was still focusing on climbing that corporate ladder. Then three months later a new opportunity came into my life and changed my life.

After making the decision to own my own business I started hearing about this need to hop out of my comfort zone. The leaders were discussing how it was imperative that we do things that would take us out of our comfort zone. I tried doing small things; I jumped out on my company calls introducing myself talking about the changes in my life. I went out on amusement park rides that were for me scary and something I didn’t really feel comfortable doing. At some point in dawned on me that I was thinking about changing my career – that alone is clearly moving out of the comfort zone and stepping into unknown land.

After this realization I stopped looking so hard and just started going with the flow and working on getting my new business up and running. Then – ugly negativity stepped in. My mind and thoughts and feelings began being filled with negative thoughts. One thing about me is that although I am able to quickly realize I am feeling negativity I am often unable to pinpoint where it stems from. I wrote about the feelings in my journal. At one point I realized that I am feeling a bit scared, a bit scattered and have some thoughts about how I see others being better than me. I was having negative thoughts and feelings toward my team.

Anyhow, all of this discomfort – and some frustration… pointed to something and provided feedback that I am actually on the right path…. I am WAY OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE! And this is a good thing. In order to grow, one must step out of their comfort zone and so knowing that I have been successful in that move, makes me feel great. It helps me know that I am doing the right thing. I know I will be a leader in this company. I know that the negative talk was my old self trying to get me to move back into my comfort zone by giving me justification why I wasn’t seeing success.

After getting to the point where I was happy for the frustration I also realized how much time and energy I was wasting in my head going through an “oh poor me” routine. My thoughts then turned to what can I do that will help; if I spent all the time with this question instead of wondering if I am being left out, feeling left out, if I spent that energy on DOING things to move my business forward I would be successful, so I was able to get myself back on track.

When I look back at the successes in my life they always occurred after a period of moving into a realm, a job, an area that made me feel uncomfortable. This is by definition, moving out of one’s comfort zone. The trick is to not allow the negative self-talk or the negative feelings to push us into rationalizing our quitting the path we have chosen. We need to be persistent and consistent and keep working and pushing through the discomfort and feelings. Just keep moving!

The E-Book Has Finally Arrived

Posted on February 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I spent quiet much of my time browsing through libaries looking for books about the latest subject I was studying or novels for the pleasure of reading. With the arrival of the internet our lives were transformed. A revolution occurred in the way we did things. I stopped buying newspapers years ago because I could read the news on the net. This was better than the biased newspapers because I could go to different websites and read different perspectives on the latest stories. I could even get the foreign newspapers in English and read their take on whatever was in the news.

One of the most exciting innovations produced because of the internet was the E-book. Now for the first time we can get books via the web on any subject that interests us. Many E- books are written by authors who would not under the traditional methods of paper printing get published. These can be anything, books about passions people have from building train set layouts to in skydiving. Books on how to fit a central heating system written by a plumber who the traditional book world would not touch.

On top of these wonderful information books we also have all the old classics that are out of copy write which can be downloaded free. And there’s all those wonderful niche authors writing books that would not have got past the slush pile of a publishing house but which are good. The world of books has been transformed. Unfortunately there was one problem.

Books on every topic may be just a click away on your computer but the problem has always been how to read them. I have folders full of books on various topics sat there gathering electronic dust because I have no satisfactory way of reading them. Reading at your computer is OK for short periods. I’m happy to read short technical reports or small packages of information, but trying to read a full book on the computer has always been impossible for me.

Sitting at the computer screen cannot replace the comfort of lounging in a chair with a good book. I’ve tried to make myself more comfortable at the computer by adopting various positions like putting my feet on the desk and performing other yoga like poses. These always ended with me suffering days of back pain. Eventually I gave up trying to read books on the computer.

I tried laptops and even palm tops but they still couldn’t replace the good old paperback. I had I have to say given up on the idea of being able to read an E-book in comfort. Until Sony came out with the Sony reader. When I heard about it I was sceptical. I’d suffered too many disappointments in the past to raise any excitement.

However, with many E-books sitting on my hard drive I was curious about it. So I sought out all the reviews which, like reviews do, contradicted one another. Some reviewers loved it others wasn’t so sure. I didn’t know what to do. After examing all the information and researching the Sony reader for a few weeks I decided to take the plunge and buy one.

The books are not available in the UK yet so I bought one from the American EBay site. I was fretting for a week while it arrived wondering if I’d wasted my money on a product that talked a good game but wouldn’t play one. When it arrived I was immediately impressed by its size. About the same size as an average paperback but much thinner and lighter. Encased in a leather cover it felt comfortable to hold but the greatest feature is the screen.

Reading E-books in the past has been difficult because of the screen. Traditional computers use backlighting to light the screen. So when you are looking at the screen you are in effect staring at a light. After a while this becomes painful to the eyes. The Sony reader has overcome this problem by employing a technology known as “electronic paper”. This means the screen uses reflected light justlike normal paper and ink.

The result is a comfortable reading experience. Reading with the Sony reader is as good as reading a paperback. No more sitting at the screen to read those E-books, you can now lounge in the chair. You can even take it to the beach with you because the sun doesn’t effect it. The Sony Reader of wonderful features. I intend to do a full review of it shortly. At last, I can finally read All those E-books I have been collecting over the years. The E-book has finally arrived Sony Reader.

My Personal Top Weird And Wonderful Roald Dahl Books

Posted on February 22, 2018 in Uncategorized

Writing a Roald Dahl Books List is a very troublesome task, the difficulty lies in organizing a suitable and yet fair ranking. I must call upon my eight year old self, don’t worry readers she will not be busy, more than likely sitting in a corner reading a book and giggling away to herself. So, when it comes to the magnificent work of Roald Dahl, I just need to ask, what did his stories truly mean to me? What stories always left me in a fit of laughter? What stories and words repulsed me to the point of doing a very, very unattractive face while reading? What stories made me crave mischief and adventure? And most importantly, who were the characters that made me feel so safe and that I belonged?

Roald Dahl Books List – Top 10

In case you were robbed of a childhood and missed out on the weird and wonderful world of Dahl, here is a list of my all time favourites. All books displayed below are from my childhood and will always have a place in my heart.

10- The Minpins

The Minpins was my first Roald Dahl story so it arguably deserves a place in my Roald Dahl Books List. I was introduced to the story in Primary school. We were all ushered outside for story time and Mrs Taylor sat down and all of us children gathered round and took a seat on the grass. The story’s magnificent description of forestry and Little Billy’s surroundings, made sitting outside become a part of the story. The tale is about a young boy called Little Billy who is told to never go into the forest opposite his home. He is warned of a vicious monsters but his hunger for the luscious wild strawberries entices him into the forest. It is during his adventure he duels a monster, rides a swan and befriends the Minpins.

The rhythmical language made the storytelling fun and gave us the children a chance to interact. I remember whenever we read along and recognized a rhyme, we were allowed to shout it out. With characters such as Little Billy and Don Mini, it was a very noisy story time. The rhythm within Dahl’s writing is what first entertained me, within his rhymes, repetition and alliteration a child will never get bored of the creative word play. My favourites were the “Red-Hot Smoke-Belching Gruncher” and the “Terrible Bloodsuckling Toothpluckling Stonechuckling Spittler”. It’s filled with so many fun made up words; something that always will be a part of Dahl’s brilliant charm. This story was published in 1991 just after Dahl’s death in November 1990 and is one of his fewer book not illustrated by Quentin Blake. Patrick Benson’s illustrations are beautiful and fills the pages with different various shades of greens and browns. The illustrations fit the tone of the book perfectly. It is believed that The Minpins was Roald Dahl’s last contribution to Children’s literature.

9- Danny the Champion of the World

Danny the Champion of the World managed to squeeze its way into my Roald Dahl Books List based on its sentimental family values. The story was originally published in 1975 and adapted into a TV movie in 1989. Danny is a young boy who absolutely adores his dad in every way, being raised by him alone, he is his hero. They live in a blue caravan and live a happy and peaceful life until one day Danny learns that his dad has been breaking the law. They work together and attempt to pull off a daring and devilish plot against the wealthy and horrible, red faced Mr Victor Hazell.

I remember reading this book and wishing I could have the opportunity to go hunting for Pheasants. The story’s play on family bonding and developing father and son relationships is very touching. I have recently re-read this book and with no longer having my Dad in my life, reading made me appreciate my own memories a lot more. My favourite part of the story is how in awe Danny is of his Dad. When reading the story you truly believe in his appreciation and respect towards his hero. Roald Dahl never had a father growing up so I wonder if this story was based on how great he was of a dad or whether he created a character based upon his perfect idea of who his dad was. Lastly it is this story that carries one of my favourite Roald Dahl quotes,

“When you grow up and have children of your own, do please remember something important, a stodgy parent is no fun at all. What a child wants and deserves is a parent who is SPARKY”.

8- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

It comes as no surprise that a story involving chocolate will be in my Top 10 Roald Dahl Books List. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is well and truly one of my favourite stories, so much so when I visited Alton Towers I went onto the ride twice! I know its besides the point because we are here to discuss books but the ride is great, it’s made up of Quentin Blake’s illustrations so it really is like a Roald Dahl story coming to life. Right now, back to the story. Charlie Bucket is from a poor home, loves chocolate and loves his family more. Mr Willy Wonka is a wondrous inventor of chocolate and is opening his factory gates to five lucky children who have found the lucky golden ticket.

With this story it is the books success that fascinates me most, for instance when I see a spoilt girl, I whisper, “What a Veruca Salt” to myself. Dahl has created such distinctive characters and personalities, making his characters very popular. Surprisingly I have never seen the two films based upon Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and really wouldn’t want too. I like that Roald Dahl wrote a story with such vivid description that I created my own image and would not want that spoiled. The songs I loved to read, I never got a chance to own any Roald Dahl poetry books but his ridiculous rhymes always entertained me. As a child reading I was of course mesmerized by the imaginative candy, the everlasting gobstopper, the three course dinner chewing gum and the mushrooms that spurt whipped cream, yummy! It’s this crazy imaginative kind of language that made me a little weird as a child. In school I soon began making up odd words and stories just because it’s what I thought was my kind of fun, I was inspired. It was these imaginative ramblings that kept kids entertained enough to not want to rush off and watch TV but to stay and go on an adventure with Roald Dahl. It saddens me to know that after Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator another part of the story was in the works to be written but never got finished. Imagine another wondrous adventure with Mr Willy Wonka…

7- James and the Giant Peach

In my opinion James and the Giant Peach is one of Roald Dahl’s darkest and most creepiest books. James lives a happy life with his parents until one day they are eaten by a escaped rhino, he is then sent to live with his evil aunt Spiker and Sponge. Day after day of being verbally abused he runs into his garden to cry and meets a strange old man who gives him a sack of glowing crocodile tongues. With the promise of magic and happiness James runs home, trips up and spills the contents onto a peach tree. The tree becomes enchanted and one peach grows to the size of a large house. One day James goes to eat the peach and finds a tunnel and follows it inside. This is where he meets his crew of insects and sets way to a marvellous adventure. I loved the sense of adventure and escape when I read this book. As a child it was my first time reading and being able to sympathize with a character. I longed for James Henry Trotter to be free and escape from his evil aunt Sponge and Spiker. Another one of Dahl’s attributes is his fearless creation of characters, only a brave writer would write about a group of squirmy insects and make them loyal companions.

It makes me giggle to think Roald Dahl originally wrote this story about a giant cherry but changed it because a peach is, “prettier, bigger and squishier”. Due to Roald Dahl’s wacky and sometimes dark sense of humour, the story contained some potentially frightening content causing it to be #56 on the American Library Association’s Top 100 list of challenged books.

6- George’s Marvellous Medicine

It’s because of George’s Marvellous Medicine that I wanted to cause and revel in huge amounts of mischief, just like George. One day George grows tiresome of his grizzly old grouch of a Grandma and George wants to teach her a lesson. So when it’s time for her medicine, George concocts his own bubbling and marvellous medicine. It was this story that prompted me and my cousin Clare to create our own mixtures using everything in the house. Honestly we used to raid my Nan’s bathroom pantry and stir everything together, from toothpaste, shampoos, shower gels and conditioners, basically anything we could get our little mitts on. Sorry Nan…

This book has been criticised for its structure and abrupt ending but I loved the shortness of the story. It was always my perfect pick for a quick short read while in my dad’s car or in the garden on my tyre swing on a warm summer’s day. Definitely one of my favourites for encouraging all kinds of mischief and mayhem. Thinking back I remember using it as a how to guide for a marvellous medicine. Dahl describes every product from every room to put into the medicine. Thankfully, nothing spectacular ever came of any of my attempts of a marvellous medicine.

5- Fantastic Mr Fox

Fantastic Mr Fox is truly one of the greats of Roald Dahl’s writing career, it is fun to read and has a character you are cheering on throughout the whole story. Mr Fox frequently steals chickens from the farm, which makes farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean very angry. One day the farmers hatch a plan to capture the troublesome fox and stop him stealing once and for all. However Mr Fox has a fantastic plan of his own. This was another one of my favourite stories that I shared with my dad. I was obsessed with one illustration in particular, when the farmers shoot off Mr Fox’s tail and Farmer Bean is left holding just the furry tail. That page and part of the story used to leave me in a fit of giggles.

I really appreciated the wholesome family values instilled in the story, how Mr Fox frequently risks his life to steal food just so his family never go hungry. The film was recently animated into a children’s filming starring the voice of George Clooney. The film was a strange adaptation but captured the right strange and sinister sense of humour, I think Dahl would have been very proud. Before I finish, I would like to share one of my favourite extracts from the story. It was this part that would make me squirm and feel nauseous,

“His food was doughnuts and goose livers. He mashed the livers into a disgusting paste and then stuffed the paste into the doughnuts. This diet gave him a tummy ache and a beastly temper”.

This is evidence of the perfect word play skills and vivid description that Dahl possessed when he wrote, when he writes, we see, smell and hear all of his words right down to the pits of our stomachs.

4- The Witches

As strange as it sounds this book gave me a sort of comfort. As a young girl I was afraid of my step mum and the thought of her being one of the witches from a Roald Dahl book gave me an excuse to use for her behaviour. She really wasn’t that bad but you know little girls and an over consuming amount of imagination, plus a Roald Dahl book collection, it was never going to end well. This story was my first real supernatural tale and I enjoyed the magic, the spells and the evil head witch. The Witches exist and walk the earth, they disguise themselves as desirable lovely ladies. However they intend on murdering every child because they despise them greatly. A young boy with the help of his grandma plan to take on the Witches and rid them of the world for good. My favourite character was always the Grandmother, I loved how warm and familiar she felt when reading. Roald Dahl said in an interview that he based the Grandmother’s character on his own mother.

This was another scary tale but I relished in the weirdness and the creepiness created by Dahl. The story was adapted into a film in 1990 starring Anjelica Huston and Rowan Atkinson. The film scared me so much as a child, when the head witch revealed herself by pulling of her wig displaying her bald and blistered head and her toes and nose grew, I hated it. When reading the story Roald Dahl’s narration gave me a form of comfort and security, I always felt safe and looked after while reading.

3- The BFG

Oh whizz pop, The BFG is one of my favourites based on the narrative, when reading the Roald Dahl type story telling was very comforting. The BFG is a dream catching giant but some of the other giants are not so nice and want to gobble up all the sleeping children. The BFG is a big friendly giant and with Sophie in his front pocket they are going to take on the Bloodbottler, the Fleshlumpeater and all their rot some friends. Obviously he is the Big Friendly Giant so he was always going to be a character you fall in love with but the giant’s attitude, tone of voice and behaviour, it’s all so calming and comforting, making it a perfect bedtime story. The main character, Sophie, is one of my favourite child characters from the Dahl books just because of her orphan background and brave little self.

Another reason for The BFG to be number three on my Roald Dahl Books List is because of the never ending list of imaginative words, every giant character has an absurdly creative name, The Childchewer, The Bonecruncher and The Gizzardgulpher. It also created the amazing word The Snozzcumber, the giant’s food that tastes of clockcoaches and slime wanglers!

2- The Twits

The Twits is my most read book from my Roald Dahl Books List, when I was younger it was my go to book when going on a journey. The Twits is about a gruesome twosome who never wash, always fight, are just revolting and hate all the pesky children. But worst of all, Mr and Mrs Twit keep monkeys in their back garden in cages and it is time for the monkeys to get revenge. I would love to believe that these characters are based on people that Roald Dahl had actually encountered and met in his life, because they are such hilariously disgusting characters.

It is this story that holds a place in my heart, it was my favourite bedtime story. My dad’s fun and playful personality when reading me the story always made it one of my favourites! My favourite chapter in particular was the bird pie, my dad used to always tell me that in the illustration (page 40, if anyone is interested) that the scrappy style of drawing is birds legs left stuck on a branch. The thought of a bird flying away and leaving his legs behind, used to make me laugh hysterically. It was also this story that made me think, that every man with a beard had cornflakes hidden within it.

1- Matilda

… reading Matilda as a child always gave me comfort because, here was a girl that allowed me to be myself and I felt accepted…

The reason why the amazingly inspirational story of Matilda has my top spot on my Roald Dahl Books List is because it is the character I could always identify with most. For the readers who don’t know Matilda is about a little girl who gets ignored by her family and has always felt like she didn’t belong. She finds comfort in reading and developing her talents whereas her family thinks she should watch more TV. One day she goes to school and meets the mean headmistress The Trunchball, Matilda and Miss Honey decide it’s time to put her wicked ways to an end.

I was always nicknamed Bookworm in school and at home. My love of reading was not always accepted in school by some children, they just didn’t understand the enjoyment that could come from someone else’s story and someone else’s words. So reading Matilda as a child always gave me comfort because, here was a girl that allowed me to be myself and I felt accepted, this character was just like me. Inspired after reading I would walk to the library every day in my summer holidays pick my books and sit on my tyre swing and read the afternoon away. I loved walking to the library I felt independent and just like Matilda. I was so obsessed, that for a little while I was convinced there was a chance I could have had magical powers. Just so you know it never happened.