Inspiration and Motivation … a personal perspective

My own experience in life is that inspiration is something I get from a variety of sources. To list but a few: specific people, exploring and learning, discovering possibilities through curiosity, reading books, different experiences, connections with people and with nature. By being curious about life and opening up opportunities, new worlds appear, clusters of community, leading me to explore even more to find out what else may enrich my life.

When I feel inspired, I feel good and life takes on a fresh field of wonder. I am given the tools to follow my dreams and instincts, to bring to life what is within me, what it is I really wish to do.

So this brings me to motivation. Throughout my adult life I have always considered that I am self-motivated. I believe that this self-motivation comes from the inspiration that I absorb. As a child, my parents inspired me through their hard work to provide a lovely home and garden that they both enjoyed and were proud of. This motivated me as an adult to always seek to be employed in work that I found fulfilling and to continue to improve myself. My love of learning was nurtured by an enjoyable school life. My English teacher at secondary school took me from a low level of achieving to gaining the top grade in my ‘O’ level exams (now replaced by GCSE).

When I worked as a Research and Personal Assistant to the Group Historian at The British Petroleum Company, the man who wrote the first volume of the company’s history, I was inspired by the process of creating a book. I was privileged to be involved at all stages through to coding the draft that was then transferred to a black box for Cambridge University Press. This was in the early days when offices didn’t have computers and it was a big event when we changed over from electric typewriters to dedicated word processors. I still recall now going for the week-long training where I worked in the City of London.

Whilst working in this role I was inspired by this kind, generous and supportive man who brought out the best in people. In a business world where some staff were deemed inferior, he erased the barriers that existed within the system. I was invited to join a lunch with the Chairman in his own dining room on the top floor of the office tower block and experienced first hand how people’s perception and behaviour towards me could change just because I was seen to be eligible to join an elite group. Yet the person I worked for embraced everyone, their uniqueness, their contribution, and he developed the strengths of those in his team and helped them overcome their weaknesses. Whenever I think of who has been the biggest inspiration to me in all my working life, I think of him.

This question has led me on a journey through my memories of life. Important memories that are part of my identity and from which I gain a sense of belonging. Yet now I have to stop and think. Did I answer the question?

Reflecting back, inspiration is what I get from outside of me. Some people may ask the question “Can I get inspiration from within?” What I would say is that it is motivation to do the things that we really want to do that comes from within, and that this arises from the pool of inspiration that we have absorbed.

There are other ways in which we are motivated. We may want to save up for something special so we may do extra work to bring in more money. We may want to get fit and lose weight so we can look good for a special occasion. For me, this is a different kind of motivation that is external and is not so closely linked with inspiration. For me, the biggest and most long-lasting rewards in life are when you are inspired and self-motivated to take action towards your dreams, what you really, really want to do in your life that is not just for one end purpose.

So, if we think of saving up for something special, what would make that longer lasting and involve inspiration and self-motivation? For me, it would involve the creation of memories while on a holiday, taking the time to write a few journal entries along the way, taking plenty of photos from which each one could lead to a different story being told when shared with others over the years.

Losing weight to fit into a new outfit? Well it would be my personal journey, again documented with photos and little bits of writing. Being able to look back at events and times of our lives enables us to share these stories with others, and with our families, making new connections in the process and inspiring others to motivate themselves to take their own actions.

As a Waves and Pebbles Life Story Writing coach and facilitator, I inspire people to write (or draw) the little stories in their lives. Alongside that, using the Life Wheel and exploration of life values, I enable them to take self-motivated inspired action towards their dreams.

Writing and creativity has therapeutic benefits and takes us on a journey of self-communication. When people come together and share their stories, this is when magic can happen.

Kay Underdown is a Life Story Writing, Sense of Belonging and Life Wheel Coach and Facilitator. She provides one-to-one telephone coaching using the Life Wheel and is currently developing and planning online sessions, groups and workshops. Kay is a member of the Sue Stone Foundation and is an accredited coach with The Coaching Academy.

In 2019 Kay published her first book “Life Happens, Live Happy” which is available on Amazon, and is writing her second book “Writing Back to Happiness”, based on her own approach of combining life coaching with writing and sharing stories about life. She graduated with a BSc (Hons) Social Science degree as a mature student in 2017, her dissertation being on sense of belonging in relation to people, place, memories and nature.

Kay is collaborating with Scottish artist Stewart Morrison who is based in the historic Artists’ Town of Scotland, Kirkcudbright, where Kay met him on a roadtrip around the UK with her daughter in 2017. The first book as a result of a project that emerged as a result of their mutual interests was “Drawn by the Sea” self-published in 2019 and containing art inspired by the Thanet Coast. The second book “Drawn by the Sea: Scottish Coastal Communities” will be self-published this year and contains a selection of art, taking the reader on a pictorial journey around the coast of Scotland.

For all enquiries about Kay’s work, including any related to the above books or prints of Stewart’s art:

please email kay@wavesandpebbles.com

Writing back to Happiness

In 2015 I started this blog when I was dealing with treatment for a life threatening form of leukaemia. I kept the blog up for some while – it helped provide me with a focus – and when I was able to go out, I enjoyed taking photos and sharing them.

As life returned to some form of normality – I had survived! (needing checks every six months) – my blog writing slipped. I had a couple of attempts to rekindle it but somehow life got in the way. Yet when I wrote my first book “Life Happens, Live Happy” (available on Amazon – author Kay Underdown), I fully realised how both writing and blogging had helped me through some very challenging times.

When I eventually graduated from University in 2017 with my degree in Social Sciences, having had a whole year out due to my illness, the idea for Life Story Writing was born. Workshops and courses using my own unique approach combining coaching, creativity and sense of belonging.

Following graduation I had to negotiate some difficult, and unexpected, life paths. the outcome is living in the most wonderful area by the sea, one of my dreams that I had long wanted to achieve but never before had the guts to see it through.

There followed a period when I half-heartedly worked towards working for myself as a coach and running workshops but somehow the time wasn’t right. Life was good. I still felt as if I was on holiday whenever I had the time to wander but I lacked something and I just didn’t know what that something was. So I returned to University to start a Masters degree in Methods of Social Research and during this time I had a period of exploration and fine-tuned my direction. It was the Life Story Writing workshops I wanted to focus on. I had an inner conviction that they could really make a difference to people’s wellbeing, and could help increase happiness and sense of belonging.

After a few initial workshops on happiness and empowerment and life story writing, I started running a longer course for a local charity aimed at people aged 50+. That course has led to something very special to me – a small life story writing group. One of the outcomes from this will be my next book – “Writing back to Happiness” Life Story Writing the Waves and Pebbles Way. I started handwriting this book just after Christmas with a lovely new fountain pen, part of a set gifted to me by my group.

It is during these meetings that I have realised how much I really enjoyed blogging, and not really understood why I stopped doing something I loved so much. Anyway, here I am, back again!

I am excited for 2020. It somehow feels that it is a year of the unexpected but that it will be good, providing new adventures with opportunities to explore all that life has to offer and doing it in my own way.

I truly wish anyone reading this the very best for 2020 and the coming new decade. May you give yourself the gift of time to explore what it is you really want to do with your life – whether that’s carrying on doing the things that you love or allowing yourself to explore new avenues based on your own life values and future dreams.

Watch this space as I continue “Writing back to Happiness”. My focus for my Waves and Pebbles blog continues to be random stories about life, creativity and memories – with the addition of nature – which are all reflected in my Life Story Writing workshops and groups.

I live in Broadstairs, on the Isle of Thanet in Kent, England. We are blessed with beautiful bays, sandy beaches and amazing skies. In 2020 I will be running short courses at various venues, usually hotels and cafes where you can relax and enjoy a social occasion and do some life story writing back to happiness along the way. I am also exploring the possibility of offering online groups so if you might be interested in this, please let me know.

I hope you have all enjoyed the festive season and are looking forward to what the New Year 2020 and the next decade will bring. I’d love to hear your life stories and what your hopes and dreams are for the future.

Kay xx

Please feel free to comment here or visit my website http://www.kayunderdown.com. You will also find my page on Facebook @empoweringyoubeyondyourdreams (Kay Underdown, Happiness & Empowerment Coach). Like my blog, this has not been kept up to date and I am looking at developing my social media presence specifically aimed at Life Story Writing. I’d love to hear your own experiences of writing … or perhaps the reasons why you don’t write … I also encourage people to draw their stories if they don’t want to write or to do storyboards, a bit of both!

Reflecting on life at Caffe Vista, Tenby

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Copyright Kay/waves and pebbles 2016

It is two years ago that I first visited Caffe Vista in the Summer of 2014.  I made a spontaneous visit and discovered this great place in Tenby which drew me back this year.  I was lucky on all occasions to get a seat on their small balcony.  There is plenty of seating inside which is really nice and a variety of food which I have not yet sampled.  I enjoyed a strawberry, raspberry and mango smoothie followed by a hot chocolate on my first visit of the day while I sat reflecting on the beauty of Tenby and thinking about life.  I then returned for a strawberry, banana and yoghurt smoothie to take another break from ambling along by the beach and through the narrow streets.  A lot has happened healthwise during the past two years and I felt blessed to be able to return.  Next door to the cafe I noticed that there are some holiday apartments which enjoy the same views – what a wonderful place to stay!

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Copyright Kay/waves and pebbles 2016

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Copyright Kay/waves and pebbles 2016

Tenby – stunning Welsh coastal jewel

 

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I have just returned from Wales and spent a wonderful day at Tenby in Wales.  It is such a special place – beautiful beaches, interesting and colourful buildings, stunning views.  There is a good holiday vibe in the summer with many tourists but even during the school holidays this week the beach was not crowded.  I would love to visit in the winter when it is quiet, some would perhaps say bleak, but it is a place where there is so much natural beauty – a truly spiritual place to experience.

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Puppydays – Isle of Sheppey seaside

I’m excited to be back on WordPress after spending yesterday helping my friend Artist Julie Bradshaw with her own blog (more on that in another post).  It’s given me the incentive to get back on here, I’ve really missed it.  There’s been a lot going on in my life keeping me busy, mainly getting back to university after my debilitating illness throughout 2015, trying to catch up on what I have missed and keeping up with working on my modules so that I can complete my second year and progress to my final year.  But … one of the most exciting, heartwarming and life changing things has been having the new addition to our family, Jasmine our chocolate labrador puppy.

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It had been a possible intention to do a separate blog, or create a YouTube channel, for my puppy and tell her story from when she was born throughout her early days and beyond.  But the reality is that when Jasmine arrived home, I can only liken it to having a new baby with all the routines and care of looking after a new life.  Jasmine is a joy to look after but much as I wanted to take lots of beautiful photos, most important is to enjoy and be with her and the camera sort of goes out the window a lot of the time (and has luckily escaped the clutches of Jasmine’s teeth!).  I have taken quite a few photos but they are not the ‘perfect’ puppy photos I had imagined – but then Jasmine to me is perfect in every photo because it is her.  So at various points I will share some of the earlier photos and I’m sure she will appear in future posts as we enjoy the summer together.

So for now, here are a few photos of our trip the other day to the seaside on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.  It was a glorious if slightly chilly day and there were surprisingly few people about.  I do enjoy finding these gems of places that are not so far away from my home and I wonder why I don’t visit more often.  I love the seaside and Jasmine really enjoyed her visit, despite having her nose to the ground most of the time.   But perhaps that’s a sure sign of happiness for a dog!

 

 

 

Embracing 60 – surprise party and the value of blogging

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I had no doubt I wanted to share this photo but I pondered the title.  Yes it was my sixtieth birthday recently.  I’d been very specific about my age when I was in hospital over the past year and they had me down at one stage as 60 – NO! I said, I’m not 60, I’m 59 – a big difference in my eyes, fiftties sounds younger, sixties sounds, well, old.

So here I am, 60 and proud of it.  It’s a fact, it’s a number.  But does it really mean anything?  I opened a card just the other day from a fairly new friend who had never known my age.  She couldn’t help adding a comment to the card that we had chatted, shared things and experiences together, laughed and more and she couldn’t believe I was the age I was and said it proves age is just a number.  I don’t know her age.  Somewhere between 30’s and 40’s.  Does it matter?  What matters is that we clicked, we get on well together, she always makes me smile.  She said I was an inspiration but she inspires me.  We inspire each other, what can be better than that – peer inspiration, the best.

After the difficult year I have had, I felt blessed to reach my 60th and even more so when a surprise birthday celebration was arranged by my close family.  I had an inkling that we were going to do something, I thought a small family meal out together somewhere.  I was urged to be ready in time and was frantically trying to get my Christmas gift of earrings from a friend through my ears that I had not done for nearly a year, didn’t even know if the holes would still be there.  Success and then I made my way out the door to be greeted by a huge white limousine.

It was a wonderful surprise and I sat sipping a taster of Champagne as I floated in the car to our destination.  It seemed unreal.  In my mind I kept thinking I knew where we were going as we took different turnings and changed my guess as we went past.  We ended up arriving at one of my favourite haunts some years back where we spent many happy times, a fairly local hotel where I had partied, had family brunches with Santa and enjoyed the therapeutic benefits of the health spa.  After capturing our family group outside the limo, I ventured inside, not prepared for the surprises that moment by moment dawned on me.  Some of my closest friends who had supported me so much during the past year were already seated in the lounge area, scattered so it took me a few minutes to take it in and tears of emotion and joy escaped my eyes.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.  How they had all managed to keep it from me at a time when we were wishing each other a Happy Christmas and not expecting to see each other until the New Year I do not know.  I never suspected such a surprise.  It brought a warm glow to my heart and I treasured every moment.

I have dwelt on this more than I intended and it is hard to express in words how I felt.  I had not felt able to make plans myself because I had not long had my last treatment of chemotherapy and was still recovering, and somehow it being the last of the cycle made it more difficult though I should have been pleased.  As I write this I have enjoyed a joyous Christmas at home and spent a couple of days away at a family party where most of my family were present and I met once again with the youngest member, just under a year old, my niece’s son.

I would never have imagined years ago that at age 60 (which always seemed so old when I recall my own parents reaching that age) that I would have a teenage daughter and be mid-way through a degree course at University.  I have a wonderful family, dear friends and a range of interests that keep me happy most of the time.  There are challenges ahead but there is so much to be thankful for.  I am returning to study in January and this will bring its own pressures which will again mean that my blogging will no doubt go on hold again, but it is not something that I want to let go of.  It is something that I want to return to again and again as there is something so special about it.  I have tinkered with different aspects of social media.  Each has its place, benefits and downfalls, but to me nothing gets near to what blogging can do.  It opens up a whole new world and the opportunities are endless.  Whenever I come on here I get lost in what I am doing and never feel that I have wasted my time.  There is always something that draws me in to read more and I know that it is always there for me if I need it.

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Possessions, memories and how to approach clutterless living unique to you

Copyright 2015, Cajsa Lilliehook, Flickr, CC-BY-SA, via Wylio

Copyright 2015, Cajsa Lilliehook, Flickr, CC-BY-SA, via Wylio

Following on from my last post on Selfness, here is another piece of draft writing from the same book (self-development/coaching).

‘Clutterless < — > Tidyness

I have had a long struggle with ‘clutter’ – I hold on to things for too long that I may never need. I now recognise that there is little value in this, apart from saving a few pennies or pounds in the distant future at the expense of living a cluttered existence.  If there is too much clutter, housework takes too long and becomes an unwelcome chore.

There has been much written on being clutterfree but some of this can be over-the-top, and lead to having a de-personalised space which is great for a showhouse but is it really a home?

At one time, I felt rebellious about clutterbusting.  Having had to downsize, I had no option than to sell or dispose of many items, some of which I still have regrets about.  Thankfully I did not rid myself completely of some of the smaller boxes containing various bits and pieces.  I later went through these and as I picked up a piece, I would recall a special person or time in my life.  Having a poor memory for some things, these triggers are invaluable and I am so thankful that I still have them in my life.

The key is to achieve a balance between possessions and space, with each possession having a place.  This leads to being clutterless (as opposed to clutterfree), keeps the space tidy and results in a personalised environment that is special to you.

Periodically I enjoy spending time sifting through a selection of my possessions to check that I still want to keep them, or to organise them in a better way.  This works for me.  I have found that by decorating a room in a way that brings me pleasure, then choosing storage solutions that complement that environment, I am able to keep the things that I love in a way that adds to my contentment in my home.

My problem is that I still buy things and bring them into the home. I get pleasure from browsing in charity shops and strolling round boot fairs, disastrous for adding to clutter! But I enjoy it, and therefore my sifting has become a regular occurrence to keep balance within the home. The benefits are that this process can be done mindfully. (A topic for another post.)

Here are a few tips for becoming clutterless:

  • Spend random times – perhaps in the evenings or at week-ends – going through a shelf, drawer or cupboard.  What works for me, if I am not motivated but want to sort something out, is to set a timer for 20 minutes and make an agreement with myself that after 20 minutes I can be done.  Oftentimes I am by then enjoying myself and get lost in the task, carrying on longer and achieving more, with a sense of satisfaction from the end result.
  • Draw up your own criteria for keeping things.  My own is that an item either gives pleasure, is useful now or within the next year, has memories or some other reason that I can justify to myself for keeping it.  Books are my downfall – yet they are such treasures. Also clothes. I do hold on to a lot of clothes, even though I apply the sifting process, but if they are well-organised then I don’t see it as a problem.
  • Decide what storage you want and get it.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot.  There are lots of cheap shelving options out there, or colourful boxes and filing systems.  The choice is yours. I have a bed with wonderful drawers which take a surprising amount.
  • Question what you are keeping ‘because it may be of use some day’.  My experience is that it is the things with memories, special things that people have given me, that I have missed. Those without memories are soon forgotten, and if you don’t need them then the likelihood is that you will not miss them. Amongst my regrets are my food mixer and food processor that I had for many years. I was in for a shock when I saw the replacement cost. So, think twice before sifting too far!
  • Think about what you really enjoy in your life.  Consider your values and keep the things that enhance your life.  Let go of those you will never use and just leave you with feelings of guilt that you should have done something with them.

Accept your level of clutterlessness and enjoy.’

This piece was written a few years back.  If you have read my recent post on Clutter-busting, it will be clear that I have not completely solved the clutter problem.  It remains something which varies according to my health, energy and motivation.

At the risk of sounding a bit weird, a conversation and youtube watching session with my daughter on shopping hauls gave me the idea of playing around with my new computer videoing a garage book haul.  I took a block of ten books off my shelf unit in my garage and recorded myself going through them and talking about them and what I found interesting.  I was hoping that by doing this I would at least find something that I no longer wanted.  I was wrong … it just reinforced my choice to keep them.  And the potential youtube video?  It was a learning experience – for a start it was too slow, I was swinging to and fro on my chair – very distracting – and it seemed so false!  There’s certainly work to be done if I want to join my daughter in becoming a youtuber (something she wants to do but not yet and would be great if we could both get involved).

By the way, for those that have read my post on Clutter-busting, as part of my garage plan I was researching the cost of skips at the week-end only to find that local skip hire companies are exceptionally secretive about their fees meaning that a few phone calls were needed.  Well today I contacted some and was slightly horrified at the cost.  Then I looked at the van hire and somehow the skip seemed more appealing.  However, even just working out that plan got me motivated to make a start on sorting the garage out, even if it wasn’t according to the plan I devised. I’ve made a start on working through it.

As a last thought, I think being part of this blogging community is really helping to motivate and inspire me.  When it comes to the home, I particularly like Le Zoe Musings which has such beautiful photos which include a selection of closet solutions.  Blogging has opened up a whole new world to me at a time when the world might otherwise have seemed to be getting smaller.

Selfness – Writing, Coaching and Authenticity

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

I have come across the start of some draft writing I did a few years back on self-development and life coaching. The following is an extract.

Guiltless <—> Selfness

Do you want to make a difference to YOUR life?  Do you want to think about yourself and your needs?  If you find this difficult, are you always putting the needs of other people before you?  There is no need to feel guilty.  This is not being selfish.  Empower yourself to improve your own life by realising that your needs and wants are important.  If you have family or are caring for someone else, they may rely on you.  For you to give of your best, you need to be in the best place to do this.  Not only does this make you a better person, it makes life worth living for YOU and everyone you care for or have a relationship with benefits too.  Your relationships with other people will improve, you will feel calm, relaxed, having an increased sense of well-being.’

At the time, I thought I had made up the words Guiltless and Selfness. I  have since discovered that they are in fact words and oxforddictionaries.com sums up the meanings.

Selfness
A person’s essential individuality
(archaic) Selfishness; self-regard

Guiltless
Having no guilt; innocent

The meaning of guiltless is pretty obvious.  When related to the idea of selfness, it is about not feeling guilty when thinking about yourself and your needs when you think other’s needs are more important.  As can be seen from the definitions, the meaning of selfness has changed over time.  It did mean that someone was being selfish.  When I read what it means now – a person’s essential individuality – it fits well with what I have written.  Authenticity is a word that comes to mind and being true to oneself.  Knowing what you value in life and observing them when making life choices. It is not just what your values are but the way in which you prioritise them – this can be the subject of a future post.

What is important is that if you are true to yourself and your needs, then you will be a happier person better placed to have successful relationships and able to care for others.  So think about your selfness – and what you need to do for YOU to improve your own well-being and happiness.

  • In writing this post I have opened up a whole new world of what Selfness is by having a quick Google.  I think I need hours, days or more to give it justice but you may like to have a look yourself if you are interested in the concept.

The Trapped Butterfly – Poem

Copyright 2009 Donald Duss, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

Copyright 2009 Donald Duss, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

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The following poem was written in 2010.  A woman I had met in Brighton had talked about being a trapped butterfly and other things she spoke about encouraged me to get on and write my book.  Yes, even back then I had the intention to write a book – maybe 2015 will be the year!  I have recently made a start on two books – one is a fiction story based in Brighton which I started writing a couple of weeks ago.  The second is a book on Memories and Creativity which I started writing today.  I have made many ‘starts’ over the years – I just have to keep the momentum up and see it through …  Anyway, here is my poem.

The Trapped Butterfly

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Thoughts of freedom fill her mind

not knowing what to do

She cannot leave it all behind

to find that something new

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Life has done it once again

entrapped her in its web

Amongst it all it is the men

that cause a constant ebb

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The journey has been happy

it has not been all bad

Such gifts there’ve been for all to see

yet now she feels so sad

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The spiders web surrounds her

it’s not a pretty sight

And nothing feels the way things were

so taking all the might

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Yet through her fragile being

comes wonder and such light

That lifts and is so healing

she’s not giving up the fight

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To break through all the limits

and fly to reach the sky

To take a look to where he sits

with not a tearful eye

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So from this day now forward

she knows what she must do

To lift her high as like a bird

and give a happy coo

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A butterfly is special

it flutters here and there

But her wish is now to settle

with one that wants to share

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And the choices that she makes

are hers and hers alone

And it will be for all their sakes

though some of them may moan

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Time is slipping through her wings

the moment is now here

To feel the joys of all life brings

there’s nothing now to fear

Tonight is the night all my dreams come true – Love Poem

Copyright 2008 Sabrina Campagna, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

Copyright 2008 Sabrina Campagna, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

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Tonight is the night all my dreams come true

As you eagerly search for the four leafed clover
Amongst the softness of the lush emerald grass
The suns rays sprinkle the angels’ dust of love

When the magical starlight haze glimmers in the night sea sky
The warm bond of hugs nestles in the midnight breeze
And memories of a distant fountain spread everlasting joy

Special feelings are shared silently as the soft moon
Glows through the majestic bridge
And a time recalled when two languages declared their love

Standing forever caught in a tangled maze
Never reaching the point when two hearts join forever
Lost happiness as the twist of fate rips all hope aside

Yet tonight is an open book
The story unwritten
Our world is there to find

Perfection is an illusion
Yet the mystical journey to the dream can be shared
And all the special tender moments make all the days apart worthwhile

All there is to do is smile and believe it can be
Allow the chance to be free
To share a blessed and loving journey of life in its entirety

Tonight is the night all my dreams come true