Wednesday, 18 March 2015

You have gifts & talents. How are you using them?

Each and every person on this planet has gifts and talents that are unique. You might be a naturally gifted athlete. You might have a musical talent. You might have a gift for making people feel special. You might have a smile that instantly lights up a room. You might be able to make a really good cuppa. You might be a gifted communicator. You might be a talented scientist finding the cure to cancer. You might bring joy to people through dance. You might be really good with a hoover (something I pride myself on ;)). These are just a few gifts and talents that you might have - there are millions more out there. So take out a pen and paper (or your notes app if you're more digitally inclined) and make a list of at least 5 of your own gifts and talents. Go on. Do it. And don't be shy, we all have things that we're good at and I won't make you show your lists to anyone else, so you can be honest with yourself here.

Have you got your list? Good, you can carry on reading. (If not, go on, make that list - I dare you!). Read over your list. That's a nice little list you have there. You're a pretty awesome human being. Give yourself a nice little hug for your gifts and talents. It's more than okay to be proud of yourself and we all need to acknowledge our good points from time-to-time.

Read over your list one more time with a question in mind: how am I using my gifts and talents? If you're a naturally gifted athlete and you haven't put your trainers on in over a year then think about this. If you're musically talented but your guitar is collecting dust then something is up. If you have a gift for making people feel special but have spent the whole week in your living room watching catchup TV then something is wrong. You get the picture. If you're not using your gifts and talents then my first piece of advice for you is to change that. You have been blessed with these gifts and talents for a reason and your first duty in life is to use them to bring yourself pleasure.

But don't stop there. If you are already using your gifts and talents to bring yourself pleasure, then read over your list again and ask yourself: how am I using my gifts and talents to help others? If you're a gifted athlete but you're just going on that daily run to keep yourself fit then what's the point? If you're a talented musician but you keep your music to yourself then why bother? If you have a talent for hoovering but you only hoover your own bedroom then what good is that doing? Hopefully you get my point. Run to train for a race and raise money for a good cause. Play music in a public place to bring people joy. Help your housemates out by offering to hoover the whole house. Use your talents to bring hope and joy to others.

Use your gifts & talents to spread the love! 

I want to develop this point by celebrating some of my inspirational friends who are using their gifts and talents in extraordinary ways. I am blessed to know a whole bunch of people who use their gifts and talents to really make a difference to the lives of other people, often with little or no rewards. But they do it out of love, compassion and hope, and this is what we should use our gifts and talents to express. So as you read through this little list of inspirational people I am honoured to know, I encourage you to think about how you can use your gifts and talents to serve the world, after all, what's the fun in keeping them to ourselves?

  • Vicky Ferguson who uses her gift of overwhelming love and inspirational personality to support the street children of Mombasa through her project Glad's House
  • All of the team and volunteers at Street Child United - especially Joe, Jo, Karin, Jess, Alex, John, Elisa, and Ruth - who use their amazing array of communications talents, organisational gifts, and huge hearts to work day-in-day-out to ensure that street children are provided with a global platform to be seen and heard. 

Street Child United volunteers in Rio de Janeiro, April 2014
  • Garth & Gill Hewitt who have used their talents of music and their gift of love to create support for various causes in Palestine, Nicaragua, and South Africa (to name a few) - you two are inspirational!
  • My Mum who has used her gift of looking after children to volunteer for various toddler groups and Sunday schools over the years.
  • All of the project leaders related to Street Child United who use their gifts and talents relentlessly and with unconditional love to help street children within their respective communities. You are all incredible.
  • Tom Hewitt who has used his talent for surfing to create the inspirational Surfers Not Street Children project in Durban, South Africa. 
  • Clarity Coddington who uses her creative talents to consistently inspire children in schools and on the streets from London to Rio de Janeiro. 
  • Laura Youngson who uses her gift for science to support The Lightyear Foundation and her talent for enthusing others by making them feel like they can always contribute.
  • Chloe Szakacs who is a gifted yoga teacher and is using her talent to provide free weekly yoga lessons for the homeless in her hometown in Canada. 

Chloe who is using her gift for yoga to inspire the homeless. Image source:

This list is by no means comprehensive of all the inspirational people I know, and how gifts and talents can be used to make the world a better place. But I wanted to share just a few examples with you to show how you can use your gifts and talents to not only bring happiness and hope to yourself, but also to others. Happiness and hope are not meant to be kept to ourselves, they are meant to be shared, and what better way of sharing it than using your gifts and talents to create it?

No matter how big or small your gifts and talents might seem to you, you never quite know how just by using them with love you'll be able to make a difference.

So I challenge you to look at your list one last time. Appreciate the gifts and talents that you've written down. The world needs you to use them. It is your responsibility to think about how you can use them to bring happiness, joy and hope to others. Know what you have to do? Go and do it. 

Namaste y'all!

Love Lucy x

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Celebrating women & you

On Sunday my Facebook feed was wonderfully full of friends and media celebrating inspirational women. The 8th March has been International Women's Day since 1913 and is a day which is set aside to celebrate women's achievements and to promote gender equality. This year more ever it seemed that the general public, the media, and campaigns such as He For She were all focused on celebrating women and proclaiming the need for closing the gender gap. Now although I believe in equal rights for all, I'm not about to write a post on gender equality as there are many others who know much more about the subject and who can do a much better job of laying down the facts, but what I do want to do is encourage you to be confident as a woman and to let you know that you're perfect as you are, as well as to encourage women worldwide to support one another and to build one another up. 

Image source: Pinterest

I am a big believer in focusing on people's good points, and often find myself thinking thoughts such as "she's so pretty", "I love her coat", "that's a great thing you're doing" etc., and I always used to internalise these thoughts, being almost embarrassed to complement my fellow females. Instead I'd often turn these thoughts into a negative, comparing myself thinking things such as "she's so pretty, why am I not as pretty?", "I love her coat, why are my clothes no good?" and "that's a great thing you're doing, why can't I do something like that?". 

It was my own silly fault that I had these negative thoughts, and they only served to deepen my insecurities. Going to an all-girls school from the age of 8-18 also didn't help much. On the whole I had some really lovely friends there, but during the awkward young teenage years I was bullied by a few of my peers, and some of their comments have stuck with me to this day. One particular incident that has stuck with me happened when I was 13-years-old; one of my classmates was going around the class pointing out the girls she deemed pretty enough to "be a model". On reaching me she pointed and laughed in front of the whole class: "you definitely couldn't be a model". And she was right, as things have turned out I could never have been a model, but for an insecure 13-year-old girl it was a crushing comment that dented my already-low confidence hugely. The comment was delivered either through negligence or through a genuine desire to cause pain, either way was it really necessary? And what did it achieve? The answer is no. It achieved absolutely bugger-all. 

Life isn't a competition. We are each perfect in our uniqueness. We ladies are not here to compete with one another, we would get nothing done if this were the case. There is no reason whatsoever for us to put each other down, it doesn't make us stronger, it doesn't produce positive results, it only causes pain and exposes our own insecurities. And so by my experience, by internalising positive thoughts about our fellow women and also by expressing negative ones, these are surefire ways to keep confidence low. So why not try vocalising positive thoughts about your lady friends? (And your man friends too for that matter!). I also believe that "your vibe attracts your tribe" (so the saying goes ;)), so if you are an openly positive person then I am sure you will attract other openly positive people who will help to make you feel even more positive, and the positivity circle will continue! 

Since being more open about my positive thoughts on other women I have most definitely noticed a change in my own thought pattern. The more you vocalise positivity the more it is affirmed, and by saying out loud "I like this about you", you immediately create an environment of positivity and there is little room for any negative voices in your head. Furthermore I find that if a complement is genuine the person who has been complemented will a) be unavoidably pleased and b) will often offer a genuine complement back. When people are complemented it breaks down that barrier of embarrassment which I previously mentioned, and they're much more open to expressing their positive thoughts. 

So ladies (and gentlemen), I urge you to open up. Celebrate the positive. Complement your friends. Complement your family. Complement your colleagues. Complement strangers. But only if you really mean it. And this will foster an environment around you where women build one another up, where we feel genuinely happy for one another when good things happen, and where we are genuinely proud of each other's achievements. 

I've been extremely blessed growing up with a mother, aunties, sister and grandmothers who have all supported me and inspired me. I have amazing friends from all walks of life who have each helped me in their own ways. I have had some really strong female role models who have helped me to realise that there are no limitations to what I can achieve. And I have been extremely blessed with the opportunities that have been provided to me in terms of education and experiences. Thank you to all the amazing ladies who have inspired me and supported me; there are too many of you to name but you are all amazing and I'll let you know in my own way over time how grateful I am. 

To finish, I know I said this post wasn't going to be about gender equality, but despite us being in the 21st century it is still an issue, and so I do urge you to look into projects which champion girls rights to see how you can get involved. Check out campaigns such as the Street Child United girls programmes, He For She, This Girl Can - and see what you can do to help celebrate and support some wonderful women, as well as bringing your own voice to the table. 

And guys, we love you too, without you we would not be able to do what we do, and without us you would not be able to do what you do. Let's work together on this for a just world in which gender is not an issue. Let's celebrate all humankind. Guys build up your fellow guys. Guys build up girls. Girls build up guys. And of course, girls build up girls. Let's all support each other. 

This post has been a little random, but I just wanted to share with you all my experience of how being positive towards our fellow women can really make a huge difference. This is of course true for all our fellow human beings, but there is an unhealthy tendency amongst us ladies to feel like we're in competition with one another, when in fact the opposite is true. We're a team and if we work as one then we really will be unstoppable!

So practice telling yourself that you are perfect as you are, practice being openly positive, and I am sure that your world will become a much more supportive and happy place. 

Namaste y'all!

Love Lucy x

Monday, 2 March 2015

Are you happy? If not, whatcha gonna do about it?

I'm sure I'm not the only human being in the world who regularly asks themselves the question: am I happy? Asking this question is a way of checking in with ourselves, and is essential in helping us to maintain a positive mind-frame. It's a question we all deserve to answer "yes" to, at least most of the time. So, ask yourself: am I happy?

What even is happiness anyway? According to the Oxford Dictionary to be happy is "feeling or showing pleasure or contentment", "having a sense of trust and confidence", and "being satisfied with the quality and standard". With this in mind, let's deepen our questioning, ask yourself the following three questions:

1. Do I experience and express pleasure regularly in my day-to-day life?
2. Do I have confidence in myself and those I surround myself with?
3. Am I satisfied with my quality of life?

Once you've asked yourself these three questions, I am almost certain that you'll have a better gauge on your current state of happiness. In all honesty you probably don't need these extra questions to know whether you're truly happy or not; if you're candid with yourself you'll already know in your gut, but these questions can be useful in understanding either why we are happy or unhappy and which area of our happiness may be lacking.

In my experience, if just one of these three areas is off balance then your overall happiness will suffer. And trust me, I've learnt this lesson the hard way. I spent years of my teenage life and early-twenties stuck somewhere between mildly unhappy and deeply sad. Some of the responsibility for this can most definitely be placed on hormones and my susceptibility to depression and anxiety, however I believe that it was also because I wasn't questioning my state of happiness; I was simply accepting it as something that I couldn't change. Or perhaps I didn't want to change it, after all maintaining happiness is hard work and many of us are scared to allow ourselves to actually be happy.

But I reached breaking point. I was coming up to twenty-four and I decided that I didn't want to spend another moment being unhappy. For me the realisation of arriving at this moment was a long journey; on reflection I think it's a journey that began because of yoga practice. Yoga allowed me to have the head space to look inwardly at my true self for just a few hours a week, and over a period of about two-and-a-half years I realised that a) I was not happy b) I deserved to be happy c) I could be happy and d) I was in charge of my own happiness. As a result of this over the last year I have made my happiness my mission, and boy does it feel amazing!

I started by asking myself the three questions.

1. Did I experience and express pleasure regularly in my day-to-day life? No. I did not. I was scraping through life, accepting circumstances that were not bringing me pleasure, and not appreciating things that could.

2. Did I have confidence in myself and those I surrounded myself with? No. Self-confidence is something I've always struggled with and due to various reasons I found it hard to have confidence in those I had made closest to me.

3. Was I satisfied with my quality of life? No. I wasn't being true to myself, I wasn't doing what I should have been doing with my life, and I wasn't living where I should have been.

I then had to do something about it. It has not been easy. I've had to make some serious and tough decisions, I've had to make big lifestyle changes, and I've had to take a long hard look into the mirror to give myself a bloody good talking to! But it is possible. You are not stuck. You are not your state of mind. You have the power to be happy.

I imagine that for many people the answers to at least one of these three questions will be similar to my answers from this time last year, and that is perfectly normal, but the actions you need to take will not necessarily be the same.

But what did I do?

1. I gave myself a massive virtual shake and made myself acknowledge everything in my life that I could get pleasure from. I've always exercised regularly, but I made myself exercise with awareness and with gratitude as to what my body was allowing me to do. I took more notice of what I was eating and began to have fun with trying and making new healthy recipes. I spent as much time as I could in the outdoors, taking simple pleasures from the natural world and exploring London city by foot.

2. I then gave myself a stern talking to. I tried to focus on my positive attributes, and would tell myself that any negative thoughts were not permanent, not true, and I could acknowledge them but I did not have to accept them. I made big decisions as to who I surrounded myself with and focused on my amazing family and friends, and began to really appreciate the pleasure and support they gave me.

3. I moved back home to live with my family. I made a big decision to give up a "proper job" to train to be a yoga teacher and to follow my heart. And ultimately, although it may seem like I've moved back a few steps, this has been the best thing for me and I can now see a clearer happier path ahead.

As I've mentioned, the actions you'll need to take will not be the same as mine. You are unique, and your journey is your own. But I hope that by sharing my experience you will be reassured that you deserve happiness and that you are in control of your own happiness. You and no one else. Yes, that can be a little terrifying, but it's also amazingly encouraging and inspiring.

There will be external factors in life that will dictate your happiness to a certain degree, but it is your responsibility to find your inner happiness, and once you've mastered that I can almost guarantee that you will find the uncertainties in life will test you but they will not break you.

So I encourage you: look at your state of happiness, if you're happy that's great - well done you, keep it up! - but if you're not, then choose to do something about it. What is blocking your happiness? What can you do about it? What are you going to do about it? And then do it! It won't happen over night, and it's more than likely that you'll have to take baby steps to get there, but work at it and it will happen. And if you're already happy, or when you arrive at your happiness, do everything you can to maintain it. Happiness is something that you really have to work at, so once you've got it pour your heart into it. Spend your time doing things that contribute towards your happiness, be with people who make you happy and who in turn you make happy, and keep working on your true self and your purpose in life.

For me the most amazing lesson I've learnt from all this is that if you are happy and if you uninhibitedly express that happiness then the people around you will respond with even more happiness and your whole bubble will become a generally happier place! Don't believe me? I dare you to give it a go!

If you have any questions about happiness, life, yoga, anything (!) please leave me a comment below or send an email to and I'll be more than happy to have a chat.

So go, find your happiness! Time is precious. What are you waiting?

Love Lucy x