Great dresses for Spring are on my mind for two reasons. Firstly, we are getting occasional sunny days with blue skies so I do feel the new season might be here soon. It is long overdue if you ask me after cold and rainy days for months. Secondly, I have more of a social life this year and want to look good when out and about.

Dresses For Spring

 

So if it is time to get the legs out, what are the best dresses for a curvy woman like me.

Maxi dress

I am a big fan of the maxi dress as I think these dresses are always head-turners and by using different prints, you can really express your personality in a big way. I like to pair a maxi dress with a short denim jacket.

Knitted dress

At the start of the Spring, cold days still happen so a lovely compromise is to wear a knitted dress perhaps in a bright colour or with a fun slogan. Knitted dresses come in a variety of lengths depending on how much of those legs you want to show. If you don’t want your flesh on show, you can always team with some colourful opaque tights.

Skater dress

I am always tempted by skater dresses as they do seem to skim the tummy area and this may be the year I try one. After all, it would be a fashion statement about my blog! My issue is that they often are very short-skirted so I think it is about doing research and finding exactly the right one for me.

Wrap dress

Wrap dresses are so clever and suit just about any body shape whilst showing off your bust to great effect. If you are pregnant go for a wrap dress as it will adapt as your bump grows and also be practical for breast-feeding after your baby one is born.

Party dress

Now as I am invited out more these days, what type of dress should I choose for a party or even a wedding? There are so many choices but I think I might try something that has a vintage feel as I always think they look so good on other women and often have really colourful and exciting prints.

So tell me! When it comes to dresses for Spring, what do you choose?

 

You force yourself to wake up early, get washed up and dressed in record breaking time. You rush yourself to the airport all while biting your nails because you think you’ve forgotten something. You push through your self-doubt and needless worry and board your plane with time to spare. Once you land, that holiday vibe hits you like a cool breeze. You’re in a foreign land that is new to your senses, fresh with exciting experiences and a culture to understand. So, why is it that so many people who do make all this effort, all this trouble, to go and then only eat what they already know? What’s the point of traveling halfway across the world, only to stick to the tourist side of restaurant menus? Maybe it’s because some people allow the fear of the unknown to take over them. However, when you’ve spent your hard earned money to come so far, there’s no time for being closed minded.

Food

Taco Bar Tortilla Mexican Eating Food

Source Max Pixel

Stepping out, ever so slightly

When looking at the philosophy of trying new things, a very basic conundrum will confront you. Do you want to really explore new things, or just surround yourself with new things? There comes a point where you have to step out of your comfort zone. What could very well encourage you to do this is to think of it as one small step. Think about what type of ingredients your palate likes, and then step over the line just a little. For example, if you know you like a bit of mild spice such a nutmeg, black pepper, or cinnamon, go one level higher. This could be something like roasted red chilli without the seeds, cumin, paprika, cayenne powder etc. Look for something that has one main ingredient that you like, then allow the garnishings to bring you out of your shell.

Food

Traditional Dishes Ramadan Dish Drink Arabic Food

Image by Max Pixel

Familiar but higher quality

Don’t be so hard on yourself if you do try food of the foreign nation you’re visiting, and it just doesn’t gel with you. Sometimes you can’t help it, and some foods will biologically be intolerable to your palate. However, you can attempt to fool your tongue by eating familiar foods but to a much higher standard. Look at the plethora of options for brunch in Dubai on a Saturday. There are Asian seafood restaurants, Italian bakeries, delicate French breakfasts and so on. They’re exhibit cuisines that many Westerns are familiar with, but they have their own twist on things. They are situated in a country that is open to many different styles of food, but some kind of Islamic cuisine influence goes into the creation of the menus. A great example of this is the Al Bahou restaurant that has Italian, Indian and Moroccan food that is tempered in a way to not overpower you.

It’s okay if you don’t want to push yourself too far by eating food that you cannot stomach. However, the philosophy of trying new things is to not conform to one dimension. Eating foreign foods in a watered down manner can allow your palate to adjust to their flavors and textures. Finding traditional food that has been slightly changed for holiday goers won’t be difficult in capital cities.

 

101 games to play before you grow up is a book title that certainly piques the interest if you are like me and worry your children spend way too much time on video games. Another issue I struggle with is that when they do want to engage in some quality family time, my mind has this annoying habit of going blank on occasion. However, I am keen to promote fun and imaginative play and 101 Games To Play Before You Grow Up is a powerful tool on that score.

Games To Play

The first thing that I noticed about the book is how colourful and attractive it is. There are really relevant illustrations and there is a cool design detail where the description of each game is outlined with a track like you see on many board games with boxes including the number of players, the equipment if any you will need, where to play, the activity level involved and the point of the game.

It is so fun to flick through finding retro games you may have played as a child such as Rock, Paper, Scissors and Cat’s Cradle.

Playing games is part of growing up if we have to and also brilliant for learning whilst having fun too. This book really can claim to be THE guide to playing, whether that be with pen and paper, a cup and a ball or some playing cards.

There are lots of games to play in solitude or with friends and family. They are divided into useful categories including party games, role-playing games, card and dice games. There are good recommendations for board games and trading card games There are games to suit every sort of weather too.

This book is your answer to entertaining the children and persuading them off their telephones and X Boxes even if only for a little while! Perfect for school holidays and for anytime when you want to ensure your children are having great quality time and preferably with you because sometimes we need to step back and forget all about growing up! It is great for our emotional wellbeing and for family relationships.

I highly recommend this book and give it a score of ten out of ten.

By Walter Foster Jr Creative Team
Illustrated by Diego Vaisberg

What are your go-to games to play with your children?

We're going on an adventure

Today I bring you an interview with happiness coach Nicola Arnold. Nicola has overcome her own insecurities and vulnerabilities to enhance her wellbeing. She now helps others to do the same in her work, her business and her community work.

Coach

Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years.

I had a very happy childhood in terms of being supported to chase my dreams, try out hobbies and explore what career I wanted. However I never really felt I fitted in at school. I was bullied at secondary school and despite having a small group of friends couldn’t bring myself to confide in them, often finding it easier to conform to the fashion and music choices of others even though it didn’t sit comfortably with me.

What was your first job/career?

I knew from an early age that I wanted to work within the pharmacy field and was passionate about helping others. I started training as a pharmacy technician when I was 17 and still remain within this profession for my day job now.

I am the Pharmacy Education and Development Manager for an NHS Trust. I am responsible for the strategic planning and governance of education and training of all pharmacy staff, and have implemented an internal coaching programme.

I pride myself on the holistic approach I apply, to harness and empower individuals to strive for excellence, maximizing their potential and supporting the wider values of the organisation.

I am also a registered coach with the NHS Kent, Surrey and Sussex Leadership Collaborative supporting the growth of managers and leaders within the NHS.

What led you to doing what you do now? What is that and what does it entail?

I have always had a keen passion in developing the potential in individuals. Four years ago I embarked on learning more about coaching so I could use it at work. I enjoyed the initial course so much that I personally financed further training to certification level and again last November achieved my Professional Certified Coach Status (PCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Achieving credentials through ICF signifies a coach’s commitment to integrity, understanding and mastery of coaching skills and dedication to clients. Reaching PCC status is a fantastic milestone which demonstrates I have completed over 500 coaching hours.

In order to finance my qualifications I started my own coaching business ‘Enkindle’ which means to ‘make luminous and glowing’ and captures the essence of what I believe. It’s about putting yourself first, discovering your true potential and self-purpose and enabling you to stand tall. As a coach I illuminate the path of possibilities for individuals ready to overcome self-doubt and connect with their real values. I nurture and champion them to connect with their inner confidence and stand in their own spotlight to feel happy in their own skin. I’m a huge gratitude champion and I regularly write for Thrive Global on self worth, wellbeing, gratitude and positive mindsets.

In 2016 I launched the Happy to be ME hub, an online community where people can share what’s made them smile and how they have connected with gratitude. It has fostered a culture where everyone supports and champions each other to be their authentic selves and be happy to be in their own skin. At the end of last year I was shortlisted for an ‘exceptional service award’ for my work in creating the hub.

Have you experienced self-doubt yourself?

My own coaching journey is marked with a sense of achievement as I realized how much I had grown as a person. I uncovered insecurities and vulnerability lifting them to the surface so I could face the demons I had carried along with me for such a long time. We’ve all been there right? Overcome by feelings of self doubt, a lack of confidence to believe in ourselves and what we’re really capable of. I know – that sounds so easy doesn’t it? Just ‘let it go’ and move on. If only life was that simple – or is it? You see everything we do in life is about ‘choice’. Choice to feel fulfilled, living our lives on purpose.

What I’ve learnt is that self-doubt is also a choice – we can either choose to wallow in these feelings or let them go. My friends commenting how much I had blossomed, even wearing colour – a big thing for me. Black had always been my colour, I felt safe in it and blended into the background. I found myself starting to connect more with people and I could walk down the corridor looking around rather than with my eyes focused on the ground. I felt confident. It was quite a transition. I’ve realised that for a long time I was holding back doing the things I wanted to do for fear of them not being enough – when I let go of the comparison gremlin in my head I realised that I was an individual – I could run my business my way, create my own brand and not worry about following what others were doing or the milestones they had reached. When I let go of this I started to enjoy and embrace my own journey – it felt quite empowering.

 

What first baby step would you advise for a woman who is wracked with lack of self-worth?

Ask yourself ‘what’s the truth in the story you are telling yourself?’ So often we allow the negative committee inside our heads to take over and fuel our fears. What would it be like to give yourself permission to really explore what’s going on and consider the choices you really want to make? So I invite you to start 2018 with choice, self love and courage. (Oh and join my Happy to be ME hub along the way so you realise that there is a whole support network out there and you are certainly not alone in feeling this way).

If you could recommend one book to a woman what would it be and why?

Brene Brown’s – The gifts of imperfection – it changed my life! I know that sounds such a bold statement and yet for me it was the first time I gave myself permission to be really honest about who I was and what I really wanted in life.

What daily practice do you engage in that helps you?

Saying and connecting with a positive affirmation every morning. I set my intentions for the day and the mind set I want to be with.

Research suggests that even just 2 minutes a day spent in a positive state can make a difference to our longer term happiness – which supports our mental and physical wellbeing.

I’ve just started a 40 day positive affirmation challenge in my hub. For many people Lent is a time where people give something up for 40 days – I’d love to flip that around and consider what would it be like to ditch negative speak and encourage you all to say out loud a positive affirmation each day for 40 days. Each day a new affirmation will be posted in the hub for you to say out loud and write down – there is much to be said for connecting with what you want from the day.

Please tell us about any volunteering or charity work you do.

Volunteering and supporting charities is an important part of who I am. As a Brownie guider, having received my 20 year service award in 2016, I’m no stranger to hard work, dedication and putting in the hours. For me it’s about making a positive impact on other people’s lives and encouraging community spirit.

In 2016 I completed the Action for Happiness (AfH) ‘Explore what matters’ course and found it gave me new perspectives, time for myself and a new outlook on life. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I am currently running my fourth course as a volunteer course facilitator on behalf of AfH running a course in Farnborough, Hampshire.

In September 2016 along with some of the graduates from the course, we launched the Hampshire Happiness Hub to create a longer lasting impact on the community. It provides those that have attended the course an opportunity to continue their mind set work and meet up with likeminded people to support each other.

So far we have held four stand alone evenings to build up the Hampshire Hub community. These have focussed on channelling gratitude, introducing mindfulness, building resilience and building a kinder society. The community is growing by the month and other members are now contributing to the evenings which really strengthens the bond of the forty strong group.

Who has supported you to live positively?

I am very lucky to be supported by a very understanding husband who sees how happy my work makes me – especially with the long hours I can sometimes work. Alongside my family and friends they all champion and encourage me to strive to chase my dreams. Right from an early age my grandparents instilled a fantastic energising work ethic in me to be the best I could be – they have been a huge inspiration for me.

Who is your role model?

Brene Brown is a huge hero of mine. Her work on vulnerability and courage speaks to my heart and has helped shape the person I am today. It’s amazing how self doubt can have such a hold on us isn’t it? It makes us feel low or worthless, like we’re under achieving and just stuck. What I have learnt is that ultimately thoughts are not facts! I’ve learnt how to shrink and mute my self-doubt gremlins and channel my confidence. Now I listen to my inner champion instead. The stronger me who is capable of everything I want and more.  

What are your plans for the future?

A key element of my face to face workshops and speaking events involves the promise box challenge. I invite participants to sign up to a one month promise to do something for them e.g. channel self care and compassion. To date over 450 people have signed up to the challenge. The promise box has travelled around the UK: The cities of London and Birmingham; The counties of Berkshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey. I would love to extend this and take it on an extended tour up and down the country. My dream would be to speak at a TedX event about my promise box work too.

I would also love to be invited into schools to talk to children about self worth and resilience – the earlier we can learn these life skills, the sooner we will build communities who support each other rather than compare.

For me comparison breeds a society where material objects are still markers for success. If we don’t act now to counteract the isolation that the constant craving to compete with each other has manifested, we risk expanding the already increasing gap that is more and more apparent in communities. It’s time to take responsibility for our behaviours and model a culture of connection and compassion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Have you got an addiction that’s causing you harm? This could include anything from alcohol to gambling to overeating to video games. Realising that you’ve got an addiction is the first healthy step to overcoming it. Here’s how you can go about successfully breaking your addiction, allowing you to live a healthier lifestyle.

Addiction

Image Source

Surround yourself with people that support you

The first stage to overcoming an addiction is to surround yourself with people that are also committed to helping you change. Friends that share your addiction may try to sway you to break it, telling you that you’re being boring or that you’re making a big deal out of nothing. You don’t want to be surrounding yourself with these people when trying to break your addiction. Your true friends will support you whatever your choice may be – these are the people you want to have around you as they will spur you on to succeed.

Take up a healthy addiction in its place

An addiction can take up so much of your life and can cause a sense of emptiness when it’s gone. The key to filling this emptiness could be to take up a healthier habit in it’s place. For example, you could start chewing gum instead of smoking. Ideally you want to find a habit that gives you a similar sense of comfort. If you’re addicted to video games and miss the competitive drive of beating your score, consider getting into exercise and using a fitness app to beat your own physical scores such as running longer distances or using the exercise bike for longer periods each time.

Remove temptations

Sometimes the best way to overcome an addiction is to place yourself somewhere in which you can’t get to your source of addiction. If you’re an alcoholic, this could include getting rid of all alcohol from your home and meeting friends in coffee bars rather than pubs. If you’re addicted to social media, you could consider deleting apps from your phone or even disabling your wi-fi for a few hours every evening. If you find that you still go out of your way to seek these temptations, you may be better off booking yourself into a rehab clinic. This will force you to go cold turkey and give your body and mind the time it needs to fight the addiction.

Consider counselling

If you feel like you’re facing your addiction alone and no-one can relate, it could be worth seeking counselling. Even having someone to vent your problems to could be beneficial. There may even be specialist counsellors that deal with your particular addiction or group therapy sessions and support networks.

Record your progress

Seeing how far you’ve come can often motivate you to keep going. Recording the amount of days you’ve gone without a relapse could help you to stay on course. You could even create a blog or tick off days on a calendar.

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