Five Days Of Summer – My Amazing Summer, Part Two

•3 October, 2012 • 31 Comments

Hello Again,

If you haven’t read the previous post in this coupling, don’t worry, although of course you can if you like over at High Summer.  As I mentioned there, I want to warn you that this is going to be a biggy, so with that, I’ve broken with tradition.  This time, I’m telling you all about my summer, but in two parts.  As you know, I usually write about my month, where I’ve been, who I’ve seen,  and what I’ve been up to, all in one big lump, but I’ve decided to break it down a little, as this experience I think deserves a posting all of its own, so without further ado, I welcome you to Part Two… of my Amazing Summer.

You may remember that back in March I attended one of Matthew Hussey’s Get The Guy Women’s Weekends.  I wrote about it at the time in Learning to Fly and told you all how life changing it was.  I’m not exaggerating – that weekend for me was absolutely life changing.

At the end of that post I told you that I would be lucky enough to be joining Matthew and his team in Florida for his immersive 5 day Retreat – a full programme designed to help build a blueprint for each individual so that they can live their best lives, work through issues maybe holding them back, look at how to structure plans and goals for the future so that they become attainable, learn and gain confidence in everything we do, and so much more… a complete look at our lives.  And that’s where Part Two of My Amazing Summer has taken place.

I’m going to quickly mention now that I’m not going to share the names or photos of anyone else on this Retreat, other than the Trainers and Matthew.  Not because I’m not allowed, or because I don’t want to, but because I want to respect their privacy and their experience.  We all attended The Retreat for very different, although surprisingly similar reasons, just as we all had our own experiences on The Retreat.  This is mine.

Arriving at the hotel I checked into my room – to be shared with one of the other Retreat ladies – and unpacked.  I was very nervous about the days ahead, and sat on the end of the bed for a while wondering if I’d done the right thing by coming along.  It was such a massive step, knowing that I was going to have to appraise my life, look at how I approach things, talk about my fears and worries, all with and in front of a group of women I’d never met before.  Total strangers…  my nightmare.  I felt my breath quicken and my body temperature rising as I sat alone, panic taking hold, very tempted to re-pack and get the next flight back to California.  I didn’t.  Instead I took a deep breath and went to the bar to get a bite of supper.

Crunching on a crouton from the Chicken Caesar Salad, and sipping on a Sam Adams, two ladies sat down at the table next to me.  I sneakily listened in to what they were saying for a few minutes before realising that they were also part of The Retreat group, so with another deep breath, I turned and introduced myself.  We joined together for dinner and had a lovely chat, all discussing how nervous but hopeful we were for the week ahead.

On the Saturday, six of us came together to explore Clearwater Beach, and to find the local mall to do a bit of shopping…  before returning to the hotel in the evening for our Retreat Welcome Drinks – an opportunity for us all to officially meet one another and the Trainers we would be spending the next five days and nights with.  It was here we were given our timetable of events.

By 7am each day we would be doing group exercise with a Trainer, Michelle, then we would meet on the beach for Gratitude.  Breakfast would follow, before Content started at 10am through till lunch.  We would then have either a group session with our Trainers or one-to-one’s before returning for more Content from 3pm through to 7ish.  More time with our Trainers would follow, before breaking for the evening.  Over 12 hrs a day for the next five days would be spent on us.  No outside distractions.  Just us.  This wasn’t going to be a holiday.

Day One’s Content started with Matthew asking us why we were here, in Florida, on The Retreat.  Tentatively I put my hand up.  I explained that I had problems talking in public, real core confidence issues, and that I wanted to learn how to overcome them.

Now, Matthew has the most amazing way of getting the heart of the matter within seconds, and a bullsh*t detector that is second to none! So of course he pushed…  He asked me questions that were uncomfortable.  Tried to get me to answer why I had those issues.  I gave a glib reply.  All the while, my breath was caught in my throat.  My heart was racing.  I was getting hot.  My vision was closing in so it felt like the room was getting dark…  Another panic attack brewing.  I didn’t have a good answer at that moment.  Matthew left an instruction for me floating in the air as I was given a round of applause for talking first, and he moved on to the next person.  That instruction stayed with me all week.

Throughout the next few days we covered amazing content, and took more notes than I though possible.  We questioned our pasts, we nodded in moments of realisation, we laughed at the things we’d done before, helped each other understand things to do in the future.  We did powerful visualizations.  We danced like mad women to get our energy levels up.  We also drank lots and lots of water!

Day Four was my toughest day.  It’s the day my past came back to haunt me.  The day I broke down.  During an exercise where Matt took one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met to the front of the room, he did an exercise with her that will stay with me forever.  The exercise was one using our internal voices.  Worrier, Leader, Fighter, Lover, Joker.  Watching this beautiful woman  face her struggles, her reason for being with us in Florida, voicing her inner thoughts without shame, without fear, without hesitation, broke me.  My darkest days came to the forefront of my mind and I couldn’t see how, if that had been me at the front of the room, I would have been able to move between voices so eloquently, so powerfully, and so assuredly.  I have no doubt that it was probably one of the hardest things that person has also been through – but she was so courageous, so determined in her convictions, and at the same time, so open, I could only watch in awe.

And then the tears came.  Slowly at first.  But as my mind raced and my heart crushed, I couldn’t stop.  We were supposed to do the same exercise in pairs, but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t breath.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I just couldn’t do it.  I ran to the bathroom to escape.

Returning to the room a few minutes later, I stood just inside the door, hidden still behind a wall, listening to the group as their voices spoke their fears, their worries, their power, their determination.  But I couldn’t take another step forward.  I sank.  Despair.  As the sobs took hold again, I felt arms around me.  Michael, one of the trainers, had found me.

Gently, he took me outside to get some fresh air, and to change my focus.  It’s one of the things we learnt.  P.F.A.  Physiology, Focus, Action.  Once the tears had subsided a little, he made me do the exercise…  there really was no escape however much I hoped for it.  Of course the sobs returned, and it took a while, but eventually, he got my Leader speaking – it wasn’t very loud, but it was there.  For me, that was the hardest exercise, not least because I was a blubbering wreck doing the most emotional exercise in front of a group full of people checking into the hotel…  Facing your fears in front of strangers – yeah, just what I wanted…

I returned to the room and carried on with the rest of the content that afternoon, all the while my mind racing, with memories haunting, but I got through it.  Thankfully I had a one-to-one planned with my Trainer Raph, that evening, so was able to sit and talk to him privately for a while.  He helped massively, and suggested some additional ‘homework’ for me which he thought would help.  Afterwards I joined the girls for dinner, changing focus whilst I thought about my action.

I woke up at 5am the following morning to start my homework.  What I ended up doing was writing.  I needed to get my thoughts onto paper, so rather than produce a list of things to work through, I wrote.  I wrote what was to become a speech.  I didn’t intend for that to happen, but writing in my own voice is easier for me, its how my mind works, so it’s what I did that morning to help me work things through.  For two hours I sat in bed getting my thoughts out, working through my deepest issues, sobbing again as my fears landed on the paper.

I joined the morning exercise class a little late, but I made it.  After Gratitude I found Raph and walked along the beach with him.  I told him that I’d written something, and asked if he would be kind enough to read it.  And then I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone and asked, if he and Matt felt it appropriate, if I could read it to the group.  Talking in public, facing my fears, my innermost demons being shared.  Raph read what I’d written and returned it to me at the start of Content.  He said one word.  “Beautiful”

It was after lunch that I stood up, in front of the group, in front of these strangers that had since become my friends, and admitted the true reason as to why I was on The Retreat.  Trust.  As I stood at the front, I took a deep breath, and read the words I’d written.  I looked out at my audience.  I searched for the woman who had spoken so bravely the day before and told her that she inspired me.  I searched for Michael, for Raph, for Steve, and for Matt, and for all the faces of my new friends as I told my story.  And I got through it.  No panic attack.  No tears.  Some fear.  But with courage.  I had, for the first time ever, spoken about my most hidden self, in public.

The instruction that Matthew had left me with on Day One, was to let him know when I thought I’d be able to talk in public, when I’d be able to answer his question of why I had low core confidence, to answer why I couldn’t speak… That was the moment I answered.

After hugs from everyone, and some music to lighten the mood (a song that will for me, forever be linked to a feeling of power) we returned to the afternoon and our final session together.  The coming together of five intensive days, of listening to each others stories, of learning from their struggles, being inspired by their achievements.  Laughing, crying, joking, learning, we had a final visualisation which was empowering.

I felt, and still feel, so lucky to have shared five days with these incredible women, and to have learnt from everyone there, not just Matthew and the team.  I don’t think I’ll ever truly be able to explain what and how much I’ve learnt and grown in just a few short days.  I know I will never be able to put into words how much I want to thank everyone that I shared the week with, how much they inspire me…  and how I will be forever grateful.

We celebrated our final night together with a bit of a party, a few drinks and some great tunes, before heading outside en mass for a starlit swim in the sea, where another amazing moment took place.  It was something that has never happened before, and something that will never happen again.  It’s such a special moment, that again, I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not to include it here in this post.  But having learnt that it’s OK to trust people with things, I’m going to share this will you.

As I say, it was something that has never happened before, and will never happen again.

Bobbing around in the water, laughing and joking as one massive group, lit only by the light of the moon, the most amazing thing happened.  One by one we noticed phosphorescence sparkling in the water around us all.  Just as our lives were sparking with the joy we all felt being there together, having gone through the week, the experiences, the tears, the heartbreak, the breakthroughs and the endless laughter, in that moment our world reflected exactly how we felt.  It’s a moment in time I’ll never forget, and I’m sure my fellow Retreat-ers wont either.  The perfect end to a truly amazing week.

You may remember that I said I had received a life changing hug from Matt during the Womens Weekend, and that perhaps, just perhaps, I would be lucky enough to receive another life changing hug on The Retreat….

I got something better.

I got a hug, but this time, it was for a life changed.

 

 

Another hug from Matthew Hussey…

High Summer – My Amazing Summer, Part One

•3 October, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Hello Friends!

I hope you’re well and have enjoyed your Summer… It feels like I’ve been away from you all for quite a while now, so it’s about time I updated you on my most recent adventures.

But before I do, I should warn you, this is going to be a biggy, so with that, I’m breaking with tradition. This time, I’m going to tell you all about my summer, but in two parts. As you know, I usually write about my month, where I’ve been, who I’ve seen, and what I’ve been up to, but I’m going to break it down a little, as one of my experiences deserves a posting all of its own, so I’ll come to that in Part Two… but this, this is Part One of my Amazing Summer.

So, going back to where I last left you…

Work completed on the latest series of All Star Mr & Mrs (currently appearing on a TV near you on Wednesday nights at 8pm on ITV – do tune in, its brilliant fun) so we celebrated our hard work with a few drinks and a bit of bop. Nearly everyone on the team was able to make it out, and we had a brilliant night… quite a few people (mentioning no names!) didn’t make it into work the following day – that’s how good it was!

A few nights later, somehow I had been talked in to going to a Speed Dating evening with Debs. She can be very persuasive when she needs, so with some trepidation, we went along… Now Speed Dating isn’t really my thing, but as you know I’m usually happy to try new events and activities, sadly this was a total wash out. The location was changed at the last-minute and only 5 guys turned up. Not too bad until you realise there were 8 women. What made it worse was the fact that tables were really close together, and in some cases there were two women to a table, so when you had a ‘date’ with one guy, another lady played gooseberry right there next to you! All the guys were very jolly, but no-one took my fancy… Thankfully the evening wasn’t a total bust, as a last-minute invite to join my friend Johnny at Shoreditch House rescued the evening. I had one too many cocktails and ended up getting the night bus home… and I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t too well the following day either. In fact I didn’t make it into work until midday. Ooops!

Once I’d recovered from that, Deborah and I went to see my old mate Michael Ball in Sweeney Todd the Musical at the Adelphi Theatre. It was a spectacular show, with all the blood and gore you’d expect, and of course Michael was amazing! So pleased we got to see it during its limited run.

Sweeney Todd at The Adelphi Theatre

Then I spent a few days getting ready for my amazing holiday. A Mani / Pedi at So Fabulous, Hair by Mathew Soobroy at Charles Worthington, fake tan with Fake Bake 60, and a couple of final training sessions with Roger Frampton of Re-Model-Me to make sure I was as bikini ready as possible as I was off to the USA for a month.

Starting my vacation (when in America use American words) in sunny California with my family, I had two wonderful weeks at my Brother’s house. We managed to fit quite a bit in too!

JaLynn, Tabatha and I went to an evening art class at Purple Easel, where we were able to take a bottle of wine and some nibbles to enjoy whilst following instruction from their experts and learning to paint a picture. We all came away with very different pieces, having had a brilliantly giggly girls night out. And yes, mine will shortly be going up in my kitchen.

Wine whilst painting...

Enjoying a glass whilst painting bottles…

The following night, we were invited to a friends annual ‘Redneck Roundup’ in fancy dress of course. Beer, car crushing, a mechanical bull and a good ol’ country band played us through the night. A hugely entertaining evening… You’ll have to trust me when I tell you that I did go on the mechanical bull, and there is video to prove it, but it’s so dark you can’t actually see anything until I get up off the floor having been thrown off… but I promise if I find a way to lighten the image at all, I’ll post it up here, as I think I actually did rather well – even if I do say so myself!

I was thrilled to be able to babysit my nieces and nephew for a long weekend while Clive and JaLynn took a few days away to celebrate their 10th Wedding Anniversary. The girls and I swam in the pool, made paper flowers, had a kick about in the park, went to see Ice Age 4, did a bit of shopping, a bit more swimming, a few more crafts, watched The Lorax, ate lots of totally inappropriate but Aunty-allowed-as-it-was-a-special-occasion food and read bedtime stories… and that was just on the Saturday! I love being an Aunty!

Charley & Devon – the best nieces in the world…

Finally before leaving California, us grown ups had a day out – off to ride some roller-coasters at Knotts Berry Farm. Now, not being as much of an adrenalin junkie as my Brother, I was a little nervous, especially when he practically insisted on sitting right at the front of every ride, but after a few screams of terror, I got the adrenalin bug too, and was very happy to get to the front myself. We rode every coaster at least once, some a couple of times, and screamed and laughed ourselves silly. Next time we’ll go to Six Flags Magic Mountain!

Then it was sadly time to leave the family, and fly across to Florida for more adventures, first spending a day at Discovery Cove in Orlando, enjoying an underwater adventure and a Dolphin interaction.

Discovery Cove is a wonderful day resort where everything is provided from the moment you arrive. You literally just bring yourself and your swimsuit. Breakfast, snacks, lunch, drinks, suntan lotion, snorkels, towels, everything is there. On arrival you book in for the adventures you have planned and paid for, and get time slots allocated. I started off with the Underwater Adventure, where you have a massive diving helmet lowered onto your shoulders before descending into the lagoon so see all the fish, sharks and other sea creatures on an underwater walk. You even get to hold a sea anemone and a starfish. If you’ve ever been scuba-diving it might be a little disappointing, but for those that haven’t or would like to, it’s a great way to start.

An Underwater Adventure

After that, it was time to swim with the Dolphins. We were broken up into groups of 8-10 people, and introduced to two dolphins per group. The instructors do various demonstrations with these amazing creatures, and they swim past so that you can touch and stroke them. Then comes the bit most people are waiting for. Swimming. It’s actually more of a 15 second pull, but still awesome. You swim out into the deeper water before the dolphin comes up along side you. You’re then instructed to hold onto the dorsal and fin before you’re pulled along for a short while. Of course it’s over way too fast, but you get a great picture to prove you’ve been there… and here I am with Thelma. Isn’t she beautiful?

Thelma the Dolphin

Driving back to Tampa after a day like that really set me up for the week to come. The Retreat – or Five Days Of Summer – Part Two of my Amazing Summer

Zaggora Girl – How I shed a dress size with my HotPants

•29 August, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I Believe I Can Fly…

•14 August, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Hello, hope you’re well.

Just a quickie this month, as it has been all about having fun, and catching up with friends before heading off on my summer holidays.  Having worked reasonably hard last month with 17 days on the trot, it was time to catch up with a few friends for dinners, drinks and other fun things.

First off was Dinner with Kate at the Paramount Restaurant at the top of Centre Point.  It also happened to coincide with official opening of The Shard, so we really couldn’t have picked a better night to go out and have some of the best views across London.  Kate and I haven’t sat down and had a proper gossip for a long time, so it was great to finally see her and have a good natter, and the dinner was amazing.  I started taking photos of each course, but quickly forgot about that as it was so delicious I wanted to dive straight in!  Heading to the viewing platform for a drink after we’d eaten, waiting for the sun to drop and the laser show to start, we happily chatted the hours away.  Sadly the laser show turned out to be a bit of a damp squib but I still managed to get a pretty cool pic of the view with my phone…

London skyline with The Shard

The following day it was time to cash in my parents amazing Christmas present, heading to Airkix in Milton Keynes to go Indoor Skydiving with Liz. (Ah, the things I talk her into doing…!)  The journey was a bit fraught, getting caught in a massive traffic jam, but when we arrived it was all worth it.  We were taken into a room with our 2 fellow divers by our instructor, Sean.  Watching a video showing us what we were about to try certainly got the adrenalin pumping, and then being kitted up in overalls, earplugs, goggles and safety helmet brought on the jitters. We were able to watch a group of kids have a go before us, which included a tiny little chap about 5 years old…  and if he could do it, we were certainly going to give it our best shot.

The tunnel has winds of up to 150 miles per hr, so you need reasonable core control to keep yourself steady, but boy is it fun!  We each got 2 goes, trying to turn left and right, up and down, and if you’re really clever, backwards and forwards – not a skill any of us really mastered, but we gave it a go…  For a small extra charge, you can also get the opportunity to do a ‘high fly’ where the instructor takes you up into the roof of the tunnel.  Well, that looked so much fun, I had to have a go…

I Believe I Can Fly…

This video of the whole session is rather long, so if you just want to see me fly (or try) – I’m there at 2’40”, 7’40” and 11’50”.  If you really want to see something impressive, watch the instructor, Sean, at 13’15” – he’s like a real life Spiderman.  Totally Awesome!

A couple of nights later it was time to have a laugh, being fortunate enough to have managed to get some tickets to see Tim Minchin at Somerset House.  You may remember I went to see Matilda a few months ago and absolutely loved it (I want to go again), and as a big fan of Tim, it was a real treat to get to see him in person doing what he does best – play the piano and sing some funny songs.  It was a brilliant night, even if the heavens did open a couple of times, but not enough to dampen our delight…  Fondue / Fondon’t…  Still makes me giggle…

Tim Minchin at Somerset House

More culture a week later when I finally got to see Billy Elliot The Musical.  I was supposed to have gone last year but something came up at work, then had tickets to go in January but there was a meter of snow (or so it felt) and I couldn’t get there, so it really was third time lucky.  It was worth the wait!  Exactly like the film (including the sometimes ‘expressive’ language – take care if you’re taking kids) I came away once again wishing I’d kept up those tap dancing lessons years ago.  The young lad playing Billy was incredible, although I don’t think he’ll be in that part too much longer as he was obviously going through that time in his life where the voice cracking means the start of manhood.  Bless.  A brilliant night out!

Then, like the rest of the country, I caught Olympic Fever.  It started with a kiss…  a kiss of the torches that is.  Picking a spot just before Trafalgar Square, it couldn’t have been planned better.  The bus stopped and this remarkable young man stepped out, ready to do his bit.  He was so proud.  His Dad was even more so.   With amazing crowds gathered, we all gave out a huge cheer as the flame passed from one torch to another.  Go Team GB!

An Olympic Torch Carrier – a remarkable young man

The Olympic Torch – just after the kiss of flames

Mum & Dad came to visit the following weekend, to finally see the newly landscaped garden in person, and to sit in the fancy new garden chairs.  The sun shone, and the champagne flowed.  What better way is there to spend a Saturday with family?

I’ll be taking a break next month as its Summer Holiday time, but I’ll be back towards the end of September with an update.  Have a fabulous summer everyone – hope the sun shines on you wherever you are!

Till the next time…

xoxo

P.S.  Thanks for all of your entries to the Zaggora HotPants competition last month.  Tthe correct entries were put intoa hat and three winners were picked out at random by KC.  Congratulations go to Catherine, Debra and Jamie.  Your details have been forwarded onto Zaggora, who should be in touch to get you your pairs soon.  x

Product Review – Zaggora HotPants – Hot or Not?

•14 August, 2012 • Leave a Comment

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled when Zaggora sent me a pair of their Viva HotPants to trial.  Billed as amazing fat burning workout pants, with some wearers reportedly losing a jeans size in two weeks, and having been seen on Celebrities both sides of the Atlantic – as a showbiz fan as well as being in need of burning some fat, I couldn’t wait to try them on.

Zaggora Viva HotPants

Ripping open the packaging, my first thoughts on seeing them was “Gosh, they are pink…!” or words to that effect!  There are five colour ways in the Viva range, and I chose the pink ones to try.  But boy these are pink.  Really pink.   Now I’m a girl that likes black clothing, especially in her workout wear, so I’m not sure just how confident I’ll be wearing these outside of my house, and even inside I might need sunglasses, but nothing ventured…

Second thoughts – they’re tiny.  Even after checking on the very handy size guide, they still looked as if there were going to be a struggle to get into.  I was assured by the very helpful people at Zaggora that they would fit, so I trusted their advice and went for it.  Quickly whipping out the tape measure to take note of my Blobby Bits so that I could keep an eye on just how my size changed over the next few weeks it was then time to squeeze them on.

Zaggora HotPants are made of a neoprene type material with a special Celu-Lite technology fabric lining all of which is supposed to enhance your natural body temperature to warm you up in the areas you want to target most (thighs, bum, and legs).  Now, I’ve worn a few wetsuits in my time, and they’re always difficult to get on, but the first time putting the HotPants on was like stuffing a giant sausage into a mini sausage casing – a workout all of its own!  Eventually though, after wriggling and squeezing, hopping and sucking, I managed to get them up to my waist (at this point the sweating had already started, but I’m not sure that’s quite the way they’re supposed to get you thinner) and had managed to give myself a bit of a camel toe – hmmm, not a great look!  However after some more careful pulling and arranging, I created a non-pornographic silhouette, and the pink actually wasn’t quite so bright against my skin as they’d looked without a body inside, and paired with a trusty black t-shirt they looked great.

After the exertion of getting them on, that first night I chose to wear them whilst sitting in front of the TV, partly as I wasn’t sure I could actually work out in them as they felt a little tight, but mainly as I’d already done a hardcore 1hr workout that morning and could barely walk… so no need to go overboard!

Walking around the house however, the third thing that struck me was the sound.  It’s was like I’d got a bag of crisps taped to the insides of my legs when I walked, a kind of crackly sandpapery type swishing…  It was quite funny in the privacy of my home, but I’m sure I’d be pink with embarrassment if I were making that kind of noise at the gym!

Anyway, the first proper session wearing the HotPants was with my Re-Model-Me trainer the following morning. Deciding that we really needed to put the technical claims to the test, my trainer Roger Frampton, spent an hour having me do squats, lunges, planks, plyo lunges, jumping, dips, hopping, anything he could think of to make my legs work hard.  By the end of the session, barely able to walk, the sweat was pouring off me – the pants were definitely doing their work.  Not only were my legs, bum and thighs sweating more than they have ever done before, but it really felt like they were working harder than if I’d been in my normal running leggings, but maybe that was just wishful thinking….  Taking them off however was unbelievable.  Not only were they dripping with sweat (so much I could wring it out of them) but my legs were very smooth underneath.  Oooh, maybe the claims were true afterall…

I tried the HotPants again the following day doing 4 hours of housework and gardening, and again I had the same result.  Although not working the muscles in quite the same way, the resulting sweat and smoothness was identical.  I think I like these HotPants!

Unable to undertake the 2 week challenge that Zaggora suggest for the most immediate of results, due to work and time restrictions, I carried on with my normal twice a week 6.30am workouts with Roger, and over the past 6 weeks I am thrilled and amazed with the results.

According to the Zaggora website the HotPants are proven to use your body heat to increase energy expenditure before and after exercise by raising your core body temperature by up to 18%. Since you’re heating up and your body is using more energy, you are burning more calories; calorie burn increases by 26% in the hour after exercise with HotPants too.  As we all know, as you burn calories, you lose weight.

Lab tests have also demonstrated that in just 30 minutes of exercise, women lost 4 times more weight with HotPants than they did when doing the same exercise in standard workout clothes.  And I have to agree.  My legs really do work much harder in the HotPants.  Just to check, I did my last two sessions with Roger back in my old faithful running capris, and despite doing harder exercises the workout was nowhere near as intensive or deep as when wearing the HotPants.  The skin on my legs and thighs is so much smoother and softer than before (perfect timing for my holiday where I plan on wearing shorts every day) seriously reducing the Blobby bits, and to top it all, I’ve gone down a dress size.  Yes, a full dress size! Amazing!

I was a bit worried about ‘leakage’ and after a full-on session there is certainly a little bit of a tell-tale sign that you’ve been working hard, especially around the seams, but I think that’s a good thing – it shows they’re working!  Also, with my big bottom, for me they are a little short at back when bending over, but a long top quickly covered any blushes, and quite frankly it’s really not about fashion when the sweat is pouring off you…  The attractive camel-toe disappears once you get used to pulling the HotPants on the right way, and with the weightloss I’ve had, they get easier to pull on every time.

An hours worth of sweat

Overall, I’m so impressed with the HotPants that I’ve purchased my second pair, the new Zaggora HotPants 2.0.  Lighter, softer and apparently quieter, I’ve gone for the Black Capris this time, so that I will be able to wear them through the winter months, both inside and outside…  Let’s hope I’m buying my third pair soon – but in an even smaller size.

If you want to get your own pair of Zaggora HotPants, head on over to their Facebook site for special deals and competitions, or just go straight to the website now.  Admittedly they’re not the cheapest of workout pants, but they are definitely worth the money if you’re serious about getting tighter smoother legs, bums and thighs… oh, and dropping that dress size!

Hot Right Now…

•9 July, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Hello.  First an apology.  I’m so sorry this round-up is, well, more than a little late, but I went out for a little walk you see… Then I had a visit from my family and as well as being a little bit busy with the day job, I’m afraid time has just sped past.  Anyway, I’m sorry if you feel like I may have abandoned you recently – I didn’t mean to, and I have missed you.  Oh, but I’ve so much to tell you…

Last time we met, I was rambling on about my life changing weekend with Life Coach Matthew Hussey.   Just so you know, I still feel the same way about that weekend.  I know I waxed lyrical at the time, and you all thought I’d joined some kind of love cult, and I’ll repeat, I haven’t, but I’m still feeling the massive benefits of the things I learnt, and am trying to keep up with the positive changes.  Of course, if you didn’t read the rather long-winded and very enthusiastic post about the weekend to which I refer – head over here when you’ve got 10mins or so to spare, where the bit about Matthew is about half way down.

Anyway, after that amazing weekend, I went to visit my very favourite hair genius, the wonderful Mathew Soobroy at Charles Worthington, who, I finally allowed to cut my hair even shorter than he ever thought I’d agree to, and to give it a few highlights.  Mathew has been cutting my hair for years, and I mean years, and it took him about 5 of those to persuade me to chop off my long locks and go to a shoulder length bob, so you can imagine his delight and surprise, even shock, when I told him he could do what he wanted, that I wasn’t going to look, and to just surprise me!   Mathew was soooo happy about doing something other than the usual trim and dark brown cut and colour, he sang and whooped around the floor!  If I’d have known it would make him that happy, I would have let him do it sooner!  And I have to say, I rather like the caramel lights he’s given me…  hmm, I may go blond yet!

A few nights later, still with a buzz from the weekend and with my new fancy haircut, I met up with Lady Emma for a few cocktails.  Now, in the past I would have usually waited outside a bar or pub until whomever it was I was meeting turned up, but not any more.  This time, I went in, found a place at the bar, took in the cocktail menu, smiled sweetly at the rather handsome bartender and ordered myself a glass of fizz while I waited.  I enjoyed people watching while I sipped away merrily, and then when Lady Emma arrived we drank a whole lot more, caught up on huge amounts of gossip, and had a thoroughly lovely catch up.

The following weekend I finally managed to meet up with Debs who was house sitting for a friend in Wimbledon, so I hopped on a tube and a train and met her for lunch.  We hadn’t seen each other since my birthday, so as you can probably imagine, we had rather a lot to catch up on.  Lunch turned into drinks, drinks turned into dinner, and eventually 11hrs later we finally bid our goodbyes and I wobbled home – Ha, a wobble from Wimbledon!  No?  Oh, OK…

You’ll also remember from the last time we met, I was in training for The MoonWalk.  So between work, and socialising, there was lots of walking going on.  Walking to work.  Walking home from work.  Walking at the weekends.  Walking in the rain.  Walking in the pouring rain.  Walking in the torrential rain.  Walking, walking, walking.  And then more walking.  Strangely I actually began to enjoy it… and even (OCD Alert) started keeping a detailed log of how, where, when, and how quickly I was doing it.  I know, so sad…

Battersea… in the rain

Building on the walking, I felt it was also time to do a bit more fitness training and to find myself a new Personal Trainer.  As you know, I hate gyms.  It always too easy not to go, and if I do, I’m never really sure what I’m supposed to be doing when I get there and even then, I really don’t push myself.  So having a personal trainer, although an expensive luxury, is absolutely the best option for me.

I put a shout out on Twitter to see if any of my Twitter friends could suggest someone to chat to.  Ideally not anyone that was linked to a gym, that would be prepared to come to my end of town, and that would do so happily very early in the morning as that really is the only time I can guarantee I’m around.  I had a few suggestions of people to call, and a couple of offers of some very personal training – not the kind I was really after (!) – as well as a couple of messages from companies that felt they could help.  I followed up a couple of the most suitable options, but one stood out.  I was offered a complimentary session at my house, at a time of my choosing, to see whether they would possibly be the right fit for me.  So I said yes.  And when I say early morning, I mean silly early morning.  6.30am early!

An appointment was made and bang on time, Roger Frampton of Re-Model-Me arrived.   We chatted for a while, about what I’d done before, what I was looking to achieve,  and about the way Roger trains his clients, before he put me through my paces.  Now, I am not a morning person, really not a morning person at all, but boy did he wake me up!  Lunges, squats, small hand-weight lifts, sit ups – lots of simple but bloomin’ hard moves, all made to get me fitter, practised there in my front room.  Sweating and puffing, I signed Roger up on the spot – committing to two sessions per week at 6.30am!   Why?  Well apart from being a very successful high-fashion model who obviously has to look after his own body, he’s also trained some of the best bodies in the business, so if he can do it for them, he can have a go with me…

At the time of writing, Roger has been training me for a little over two months and I’ve really begun to notice a different in my body, and the scales have noticed a difference in my weight.  There’s still a lot of blobby, but it’s getting less and less…  Oh, and Roger is hilarious, and makes every sessions a real pleasure – even if I am screaming that I hate him when he’s making me do 10 more reps of some muscle ripping lungey-squaty-knee-bendy-jumpy thing…  If you want to be Re-Modeled, give Roger a call.

As part of my continuing personal makeover (well that’s what its beginning to sound like…)  I also wanted to tell you about So Fabulous, a fabulous little beauty salon I’ve been frequenting since Christmas where I’ve been having my nails done using the Bio Sculpture system.  Owned by Garry and Eleni, it’s really a little piece of Islington heaven where you can go and relax, have a chat and a giggle, and be pampered from top to toe.  The whole team is wonderfully friendly, really making you feel very welcome, and what’s more, they really do offer you personal advice regarding your beauty needs.  None of this “one treatment fits all” attitude here!  If they think something might be wrong for you, they’ll tell you so, and explain why, rather than just taking your money but ultimately leaving you feeling unhappy with any treatments.  The kind of honest dedication and professionalism given to their clients is so refreshing, and very much appreciated, which is why there are a lot of us going back again and again.  If you want the best, longest lasting nails in town, head on over. There’s lot of other fabulous treatments on offer to, so do make time to book in a visit.

Yet another makeover taking place has been that of my garden.  When I bought my house just over four years ago it was fairly obvious that the previous owners weren’t terribly green fingered, and despite my best efforts to make the garden look reasonable, a lot of work was going to be needed.  So, I called in the professionals.  Darren Ward of Wild Roots Landscaping came to my rescue and after an initial consultation where I told of him of my vision, of how I’d like to use my garden, and exactly which spot I’d earmarked for my chair and a beer in the summer sun, Darren set to work.  He totally understood my need for low maintenance, but for the area to still to be in keeping with the surrounding properties and ‘family friendly’ (well, one can hope!)  I only had one rule for him – no straight lines.  Through the rain and yet more rain, he followed my brief to the letter.  I took a photo each day to follow the amazing changes.  From weedy to wonderful in 20 days!  Thanks Darren.

The end of the month saw me sadly wave goodbye to my friend Shaheen.  After several years of her and her husband living in different continents due to work, she has finally moved away to join him in Malaysia.  We of course celebrated and commiserated with our usual Chinese – same place, same food, same laughter (well, it wouldn’t be dinner with Shaheen otherwise) but as we walked towards our bus and tube stops and said our goodbyes we both had lumps in our throats.  I know we’ve got email and Skype, but it won’t be the same.  However, now I’ve obviously got the perfect excuse to go to Malaysia for a holiday!  Bon Voyage and see you soon S.  xx

After that sadness, I had an evening of pure joy when I joined Deborah for a night at the theatre, taking in the very jolly Top Hat at the Aldwych Theater.  I’m a sucker when it comes to a bit of tap dancing, so mixed with a delightful Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair movie recreated for the stage, and a few classic songs thrown in for good measure, I was in heaven.  So was the elderly gentleman sat next to me, who knew every word and happily sang along throughout… Delightful!

What else?  Oh yeah, I went for a bit of a walk one night….

Yep, the MoonWalk finally came around.  After just over four months of training, walking over 250 miles (not all at once!), getting soaked to the skin several times, and finding wonderful walks near home that I never knew existed, the night was upon us.  I headed off to the big Pink Tent in Hyde Park around 9pm, of course in my decorated bra, and met up with an old mate, Rachel, who was also doing the walk on her own.  The theme for the year was “Rockin’ Around The World”, so there were 15,000 Globes, Musical References and amazing costumes to see.  Everyone had made a massive effort!

My musical globes!

We’d already worked out that I probably walked a bit faster than her, so we agreed to start together but part ways when I needed to speed up, or she needed to slow down.  After being entertainment and dancing around the tent for a while eagerly awaiting our start time, the first of four massive groups set off around 10.30pm.  We were in the third group to go – the Green Team – and at 11.48pm Rachel and I crossed the start line…

All dressed up… and ready to go!

The first few miles were a bit slow – it’s amazing how much time it takes for 400 people to cross the road when you’ve all got to wait for the green man… but slowly along the north side of the Thames we got into our stride.  Crossing over London Bridge in a sea of pink is something to behold… and overtaking Anthea Turner just before mile ten was a proud moment, especially as she’d been in the first group to start walking and they’d set off over an hour before us!  Another proud moment was when a few Soldiers and later some Firemen gave me a big shout out and a few ‘high fives’…  Seems writing your name on your right boob gets you noticed!

Just after The London Eye, Rachel and I said our goodbyes as I was still happily pounding the pavement, but she was feeling a little worn continuing at my speed.  So, headphones in, off I plodded.

At mile 13.1, in the middle of Battersea Park, I had a quick pit stop for a potty break and a banana (not at the same time!), then just kept on putting one foot in front of the other.  I could see others were starting to suffer and by mile 16, several people were really having problems as blisters were shredding, and muscles aching.  Thankfully I was very lucky, and didn’t have any problems with my feet or legs, so turned up the music and carried on.  As the sun came up around 5am, I felt a sense of real wonder as the light slowly started to shine through the Houses of Parliament – London is such a great place but at the moment, it had never been more beautiful.  There was still a way to go, but there was no longer any doubt in my mind that I’d do it.  I had hoped that with the right conditions, I’d try to complete the Marathon in around 7hrs, so putting on a bit of a spurt, I pushed myself a little bit more.

MoonWalk Route

Coming back into Hyde Park, the place it all started, was both joyful and cruel – we’d still got another couple of miles to go, despite being almost spitting distance from the big pink tents – as they made us walk around the Serpentine to finish the final few moments of the 26.2miles.  At exactly 6.48am I crossed the finish line, precisely 7hrs after starting, and there, every walker was all presented with our Finishers Medal.  Truly an amazing experience!  And not a single blister!!

My Finishers Medal

I am so happy and proud to say that I’ve done the MoonWalk.  It’s something I’ve thought about doing for a few years, and as I mentioned in Learning To Fly doing it now was absolutely the right time.  I’ve dedicated the funds I’ve raised in memory of my Aunt Freda, who although sadly no longer with us, would be so chuffed to find out that with your amazing generosity, I’ve managed to raise over £1000 with GiftAid for Walk The Walk and Breast Cancer Awareness.  If you want to help push that total up just a little bit more, you can still donate, as my fundraising page will remain open for a while longer. Thank you!

After a few days back at work, but evenings spent relaxing with no walking, my family came into town for a visit from Sunny California.  And they brought the sunshine with them (but sadly took it back with them when they left…)  As usual I had so much fun, with the girls making camp in my dining room, all of us visiting the Science Museum, once again flying my kite on Dunstable Downs, playing in the park, drinking and chatting into the early hours, and eating lots of food…  It’s such a shame we don’t live closer, but it won’t be too long until I see them again.

Work ramped up to the status of ‘really super busy’ as we worked 18 days in a row heading into the Studio to record a new series of “All Star Mr & Mrs” for ITV1 with the lovely Mr Phillip Schofield.  It’ll be on your telly-boxes soonish (early Autumn we think) so do watch out for it.  We had some amazing guests, and some absolutely hilarious moment.  It’s a shame we can’t show the whole of the recording from the studio, but then you’d have to sit through a two-hour show…  There really were so many funny moments – which I’m not allowed to spoil for you just yet – but when the transmission dates and times are confirmed, I’ll let you know…  Please do tune it…

Just testing the Paddle Game on “All Star Mr & Mrs”

At the end of the month, my friend Dan Trelfer had ‘The Biggest Launch Party for an Independently-Released E-Book in History’™ for his new novel “The Flathunter”.  It was fab party, and he very kindly bought us a drink to celebrate all of his hard work and toil.  The book is a really great read, so if you’ve got any kind of electronic reading device thingy, here’s how you can buy it.  It’s got a 5 Star rating on Amazon so is really worth the £2.46…

How To Buy

If you own a Kindle…
Simply purchase The Flathunter.

If you do not own a Kindle, but you want to buy one so you can read The Flathunter
Simply purchase a Kindle here.

If you do not own a Kindle, but you do own an iPad…
Download this free app and then purchase The Flathunter.

If you do not own a Kindle, but you do own an Android tablet…
Download this free app and then purchase The Flathunter.

If you do not own a Kindle, but you do own an iPhone or iPod touch tablet…
Download this free app and then purchase The Flathunter.

If you do not own a Kindle, but you do own an Android phone…
Download this free app and then purchase The Flathunter.

If you do not own a Kindle, but you do own a Mac…
Download this free app and then purchase The Flathunter.

If you do not own a Kindle, but you do own a PC…
Download this free app and then purchase The Flathunter.

If you do not own a Kindle because you own a Kobo, Nook or Sony e-Reader…
You will have to wait three months because The Flathunter is exclusive to Amazon for this period.

You won’t have to wait so long for something else very exciting though, as last month I was asked by the very lovely people at Zaggora to review their new Viva HotPants.  Not only that, they have very kindly offered to give away another three pairs to you, my lucky readers.

Zaggora Viva HotPants

Now you’ve probably read quite a bit about this new brand of active wear taking the fitness scene by storm.  They’ve been in all the papers and magazines, and even on the odd London Cab.  But do they work?  Well, after a bit of delay due to work, my 2 Week Challenge starts on Monday.  I’m going to be taking weights and measurements at the start and at the finish of the two weeks, and will report back then about just how much weight / inches I’ve lost.   According to the information, HotPants help weight loss at a magnitude around 4 times greater than standard exercise garments during 30 mins of exercise…  Bring it on!

To be in with a chance of winning a pair for yourself, you need to answer the following question:-

When was Zaggora founded by Dessi Bell (month and year) after she struggled to find an effective way to look and feel good whilst working out?

Simply fill in your contact details and enter your answer below (month and year) where three applicants with the correct answer will be picked at random at 8pm UK time on Tuesday 31st July, and your details passed onto Zaggora.  They’ll then be in touch directly regarding your prize.  Winners will also be announced here in August’s round-up.  (Sorry – UK applicants only)

Phew!  I think that brings us fairly up to date…  Right now, I’m off to work out a work out plan… let the challenge begin!

‘Till the next time…

xoxo

This month’s soundtrack: Hot Right Now – DJFresh ft. Rita Ora

Learning To Fly

•10 April, 2012 • 2 Comments

Hello! Hope you’re well and have had a fabulous Easter weekend?

It’s been yet another busy month for me, so having a couple of days off to catch up with myself (and eat some chocolate) has been great. When I say busy, I mean I’ve done a lot of walking in readiness for The MoonWalk which is now only a few short weeks away – Yikes! I’m slightly behind in my training due to a week of weird-total-body-failure-illness-type-thing which kept me in bed for 5 days – not much fun. However I lost 9lbs, so silver lining…!

Anyway, getting back to the MoonWalk, I’ve managed to walk at least three times a week, including the long weekend walks that the plan sent by the Walk The Walk team suggests – although I obviously missed the week I was ill, and the 12 miler I should have done last weekend, but I did manage the 14 miles required for this weekend, so fingers crossed I’ll still get across that finish line in a reasonable time in May.

A few of you have asked why I’m doing the MoonWalk, and apart from the obvious opportunity it’s given for saucy jokes about my boobs needing your support (!), the real reasons are a bit more serious.

Firstly, I wanted to carry on with some challenges this year after (nearly) completing the 40 for 40 list. I had so much fun doing all of those silly things I’d always wanted to try (yes, even the colonic in a weird kind of way) that I didn’t want to lose the excitement and pleasure I’d gained from those experiences by just heading back to my old life of sitting on the sofa waiting for things to happen.

Secondly, it’s a great way to get some exercise into my schedule without really having to think about it, or go to a gym. I hate gyms. I’m not too keen on exercise to be honest… but walking to and from work is easy – I’ve got to go in both directions anyway, so why not walk it? And with the nicer weather and lighter evenings, it’s been rather pleasant actually.

Finally, and more personally, my Godmother died at the start of last year from Breast Cancer. She very kindly and unexpectedly remembered me in her Will, and it was her amazing generosity that allowed me to pay for all of the great things I did on the 40 for 40 list last year. So, doing the walk is my small way of saying thank you to her. She unknowingly changed my life for the better, and I’m hoping that in a very tiny way, I can pay that forward by raising funds walking around London at night in my decorated bra.

At my Christening - being held by Aunty Freda - my Godmother

The money I’m raising doesn’t just go to cancer research; it also goes towards purchasing things like Scalp Coolers which helps reduce hair loss when having Chemotherapy – the loss of which can be as devastating as the illness itself for some – as well helping support Cancer Care Centres across the country, offering help, advice and maybe just shoulder to cry on, to those around and affected by the disease.

Over 300 men get breast cancer each year too – it’s not just a disease that affects women. So, if you’re feeling like you’d like to do a little something to help too, please pop over to my MoonWalk page, where you can find out a bit more about Walk The Walk, and perhaps click on the link to my fundraising page. Even £1 would be very much appreciated.

Apart from stretching my legs with all the walking, I’ve been stretching my mind this month too. Attending the Sensability “Success Skills for Actors and Media Professionals” run by Alison Matthews, this one day workshop at the start of the month covered a lot of ground based in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) which was very much tailored to the people in the room. Learning how to read people, finding out whether you were a Visual, Auditory or Kinaesthetic person, and setting anchors and goals for ourselves was fascinating.  Turns out some people really can’t hide how they feel about something even without saying anything! I love learning new things, and some of the items covered by Alison really struck a chord. Well worth spending a sunny Sunday in a windowless room!

I hit the Ballet at Sadlers Wells with the delightful Deborah mid-month, a couple of days after her birthday. Fizz was obviously called for, as were a few giggles at some of the slightly more experimental elements of the evening – including the outfit on one chap in the audience! The evening was a showcase of new male talent, which overall was very enjoyable, although some bits were a bit, well, odd! Still, it was a lovely fun night out with one of my most favourite people. Happy Birthday D!

Rather miserably I lost my newish job mid-month, as the project has had to be put on hold till much later in the year, but amazingly I only spent a week fretting about being unemployed again as the very same company asked me if I’d like to return and work on a new series of “All Star Mr & Mrs”. Um, Yes Please! I absolutely love the series, and am so excited to be doing a big shiny floor studio show… seriously how lucky am I!? I’ll tell you more about the dates and tickets next month as things get organised – it’d be great to see some of you there in the audience.

Then last weekend, it was time for a bit more learning, as I attended an extraordinary two-day seminar.  WARNING: To warn you now, this next bit is rather long, and having read it back in all honesty it’s a bit gushy. Some of you ladies might like it. Chaps may want to turn away now. I have thought long and hard about not including it at all, as it’s not what I usually post up here on BlobbyJogger. But, I hope you’ll indulge me and read on in the spirit in which it is intended…

For those of you that really know me, you’ll know I have a fairly low-level of confidence when it comes to “me”. For others, reading that sentence may come as a massive shock. Yes, I know can be a bossy madam at work, and I can be full of funny stories and laughs at the pub, and seem on the surface to be a pretty confident person, but I’m going to let you in on a secret. A huge secret. Most of the time, inside I’m squirming – serious butterflies, shaky hands, dry mouth – the full works. Walking into a room full of people I don’t know is possibly my worst nightmare. Actually not ‘possibly’… It is my worst nightmare. You know when I arrange to meet you in the pub, but I’m waiting for you outside when you arrive? That’s why. I’d rather stand on the street corner for an hour in the rain without an umbrella waiting for you, than go in there alone. Remember, when I first met you, I probably shook your hand and politely said hello, but didn’t really manage to make much eye contact with you? Again, that’s why. I’m better in small groups or more often than not, one-on-one, but I still quake with self-doubt and worry every single day. Hmmm, maybe I should be up for Best Actress at the Oscars?

So, to give you a bit of background, having read an article about Speaker, Life Coach and ‘relationship guru’ Matthew Hussey and his ‘Get The Guy’ events a few months ago, I decided to attended his “Secrets of Attraction” seminar in February… And yes, I know! I’m slightly embarrassed to be admitting that in public! But c’mon, I’m a single lady, and it’s fair to say I haven’t been doing too well on the dating front due to the fact that I, well, just don’t go out! I’m fully aware that Mr Right isn’t going to turn up at my door, ring my doorbell, and ask me where I’ve been all his life (although it would make life a lot easier!), so I thought that maybe, possibly, this so-called ‘guru’ could offer me a few pointers… I was a bit dubious, but I figured it would only be a couple of hours of my time… I wasn’t doing anything else… it might be useful… it could be fun… oh go on then, what have I got to lose? Take a deep breath, smile, try to look confident, put one foot in front of the other… Going alone, I went one Saturday afternoon to a beige North London hotel conference room, along with over 120 other women.

Now you may instantly assume that this kind of event attracts ‘ladies of a certain age’, desperate divorcees or knitted yoghurt hippy types that are just a little bit odd. Wrong! Taking a long look around the room as the pumping music played whilst we waited for the event to start, I quickly realised that everybody there, they were all like me – just normal people. Some were shy, others very loud. Some alone, some with a group of friends. Blonds. Brunettes. Twenty-fives. Fifty-fives. Big ones, small ones, short ones, tall ones.

As we sat, all with pens and pencils poised, Matthew Hussey took to the stage and instantly took over the room. Sharing some rather amazing nugget of information, he told us how to create the opportunity for men to come up and talk to us – it turns out some chaps don’t know how to approach women as we can be a bit scary apparently – who knew?! He showed us how to give the perfect smile to a guy we like the look of (which he did almost too well actually), told us simple things like leaving just a little more room between us and our girlfriends when we’re out so that it’s easier to be approached, to how to start a conversation when we’re in line for our morning coffee. And this was just the tip of the iceberg. Matthew had me hooked, and not just on the dating stuff (although that may prove to be useful in the future) but about the confidence side of what he was teaching – and I knew I wanted to learn more from this remarkably empowering individual. So I signed up for his full Women’s Weekend there and then.

So that’s where I was last weekend. Again, heading back to the same big beige room, again nervous as hell, in I walked. Heading towards the back of the room, I took a seat, pencil and paper at the ready.

Before I’d arrived, I made two promises to myself about the weekend. First, knowing that we would have the option to go out on the Saturday night in small groups to practice what we learnt, I made a firm internal commitment that I wouldn’t back out and slip off home early like I usually do. I had to do this. Properly. Secondly, if Matthew at any point asked for a volunteer during the weekend (as he had done at the seminar previously), I had to put my hand up. I obviously didn’t want to get picked, but I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and at least put myself out there.

Midway through Saturday morning, sure enough Matthew asked for a volunteer. I put my hand up. Oh shit. I was the only person with a hand up. Oh shitty shit shit. I was invited up on stage. There was a polite ripple of applause as I nervously walked to the front of the room. Oh no, what had I done? To be honest, I’m not really sure what Matthew was talking about at that point, I think something about men looking after their women… bad day at work… wanting to help. All I remember is the room feeling very hot, everything suddenly getting very dark, and not being able to breathe. Not being able to focus. Desperately not looking at the women in the audience. Certainly not looking at Matthew until he spoke directly to me. Holding my hands really tightly in front of me to stop them shaking. Looking at the floor wanting it to open up and swallow me whole.

Then, through the fog, I heard Matthew say that we were going to hug. Oh Jeez! I could feel 120 sets of eyes swing round all focusing on me, and in my head, they were giving me ‘evils’… I pulled some kind of funny face, heading to my default ‘fake it till you make it’ confidence mode and the audience let out a laugh. OK, I can do this. Awkwardly I went in for a wobbly lopsided hug. Grinning, Matthew pulled back and laughingly scolded me “Oh no, we’re really going to do this…” and gave me a gentle nod of encouragement – so I threw my arms open pretending it was fine, and went for it.

That day, in that moment, it was the best hug of my life!

Standing on stage a while longer, Matthew explained something else very important to the room that I unfortunately paid no attention to at all, my brain now totally mush with embarrassment and mortification.  I was eventually thanked and given another polite round of applause, as I stepped down from the stage not making eye contact with anyone, heading back to my seat. I attempted to put a little skip in my step, and made another funny face. It got another laugh. Really though, my legs felt like jelly and I wanted to run and hide in the toilet, my heart beating out of my chest.

Amazingly though, the world didn’t end nor did I die of shame. In fact, as we broke for lunch several women came over and complimented me on my top (they’d been admiring it while I had been petrified on stage), some patted me on the back for having had the confidence to volunteer (oh little did they know), and lots of them smiled and said hello to me just because I was simply smiling at them. It was a millimetre shift…

Over the course of the weekend, I scribbled half a book full of notes, went out on the Saturday night – something I haven’t done for at least five years – listened, laughed, questioned my own thoughts, understood previous errors, and greedily sucked in every bit of information given.

To say that it was one of the best weekends of my life would not be an understatement. Listening to and watching this extraordinary man speak to us all with such true passion, personally having several ‘lightbulb moments’, seeing and getting to know some of simply amazing women also in attendance, going out on a Saturday night and actually – shock horror – being asked for my phone number by a chap, bouncing up and down whoop whooping to Nicki Minajs’ ‘Starships’ with a hangover on Sunday morning, feeling a bubble of something exciting inside, and an element of confidence that quite simply I’ve never had – well, it was incredible! Another millimetre shift…

I sit here writing this a week later, still with a big smile on my face, a sense of positivity about the future, and a little bit of smugness that with just that small amount of new knowledge inside, over the next few weeks and months, I can’t wait to take this further.

And yes, I know… I sound like I’ve been sucked in by some sort of Cult. I promise I haven’t. I’m a firm believer that people come into our lives for a reason. There is a reason I read that newspaper article last year… There is a reason I walked into that big beige room… Extraordinary people, friends, colleagues, strangers even, come into our lives and gift us something that the other needs. Sometimes they are with us just for a day. Other times, people stay with us in our lives for a few months or years until, whatever it was they provided you with (and vice versa) disappears or just simply is no longer needed, and they slip away. The truly lucky are those that meet someone who stays in their life, in their memories, or as part of their daily consciousness forever. Right now, I feel I have met one such person.

Now, regular readers will know, and others can see above and below, that I usually do a little ‘pinklink’ to the things I’ve done each month, to the places I’ve been, all things that I – in some small way – want to recommend here on BlobbyJogger. I don’t get paid for them. I do them and write about them because I think they might be fun. I hope you might enjoy them, perhaps find inspiration from them, or just want to have a laugh at them. You click through if you want, or ignore them if they’re of no interest. For the first time ever I’m going to recommend to all the (single) ladies, to put your hands up.  If anything about my weekend with Matthew and his team at has struck a chord with you, if you want to find out how some men think, want more confidence when you go out, how to give a brilliant smile to that cute guy, find out what to put in the perfect ‘but does he like me?’ text message, or just want to understand people or yourself a bit better, click on this link and go to one of the Matthews’ events. You too may have a millimetre shift…

I want, no, I need to carry this on, so much so, I’ve applied and have been accepted to attend Matthews’ immersive five-day Retreat in Florida later this year, where I hope to continue working on my confidence (or lack thereof), as well as addressing other issues – issues that I’ve now learnt we all have in one way shape or form. Some may want different jobs or careers. Others, happier more fulfilling lives outside of work. We may feel we’ve taken a wrong turning somewhere along the way or that we’re simply not living the life we had planned for ourselves.  Some want to work out a plan for the future, or others like me, may be lacking in the core confidence people assume we have in spades… Genuinely, I’m so excited I can hardly wait for The Retreat in September where maybe, just maybe, I’ll get another life changing hug…

Till the next time

xoxo

PS: I hope he doesn’t mind, but below I’m stealing an element of my friend Dan Trelfer’s Internet Column, (it’s not a blog!) Cracking The Kindle

This month’s soundtrack: Learning To Fly – Kate Earl

 
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