Did you hear about this weird brain hack that will help you move forward in your business?

Did you hear the one about the fox and the grapes?

No, it’s not a knock-knock joke. It’s the story of the wily old fox who, after realising that he couldn’t reach the yummy, plump grapes, decided he didn’t really want them anyway!

That’s the power of deciding, albeit the negative power in this case.

So yesterday, over on our party hangout page, I encouraged you to make a decision about what you want to achieve over the next 4 weeks, and then say it out loud. It’s the fox and the grapes all over again.

You decide what you want and, by stating it, your brain needs to fill in the spaces to make that thing actually happen. Weird eh?

Now, I’m smart enough to understand that it’s not as easy as just deciding I want a bright red sports car. It wouldn’t be very practical anyway – I have three kids!

But isn’t that kind of the point? I would never decide I wanted a red sports car (aside from the fact that my favourite colour is blue!) because it wouldn’t suit my needs right now.

So what about if, instead of messing around picking fictitious things that we don’t really want and wasting time and energy debating whether it would even work, we instead decided what that thing is that we really would like?

I purposefully kept it open-ended yesterday because I want to give you space to find your own answers but if you need help getting started, think about what your big dreams are for September.

And then think … what can you practice/work on/develop over the next 4 weeks that will help get you set up ready for success in September?

And remember, there is massive power in just deciding and then moving forward as if the thing you decided is already a given.

Yes, it’s good to be flexible and open to change. God tells us he has really cool stuff in mind for us, even more fab than we can dream up, so flexible is good.

But God gave you those dreams, gifts and ambitions so instead of sitting around, wondering and worrying if you’re making the right decision, why not just decide, and then move forward?

We both know God’s more than capable of giving you a nudge if he needs to so just decide and then do it.

Until the next time, keep smiling. 🙂

Could you change the world by doing stuff wrong?

Something that you might not know about me (yet!) is that I play the clarinet and tenor sax.

Do you remember the geeky girl in American Pie who goes on about band camp? Yep, that was me in school. Except we only went to camp once. And I’m pretty sure my high school experience was nothing like it is in the film! 😉

These days I only play clarinet in church on a Sunday. It’s fun though and suits me because I’m far better at playing the clarinet than I am singing, so everybody wins.

So on Sunday I was playing along, doing my thing, and I noticed something funny that I’ve never noticed before. In one of the songs, I kind of take a bit of artistic licence and don’t exactly play what’s written in the music.

It sounds pretty and works just fine but, what I noticed on Sunday was that, after playing it that same way for probably several years, everyone now sings it the way I play it.

If the composer of the song were to hear it, he might not be that impressed, but we’ve taken an already nice song, tweaked it, and made it our own.

Pretty cool I thought.

And then I got to thinking about life. You know how sometimes you do things a little differently? And maybe the first time you do it, either no one appears to even notice or they look at you a bit funny because you’ve done it ‘wrong’?

But you keep on doing your thing.

And then one day, someone, just one person, decides to sing your tune. And so now there’s two of you, doing things differently. Sticking out. Doing it ‘wrong’.

You have an ally and it feels good.

And together you keep on keeping on until who knows, maybe you go on to inspire a whole load more people to do it the ‘wrong’ way and you wake up one day to find you’ve actually made a difference on this planet.

But if you’d have just stuck to the right way of doing things, the way everyone else was doing it, you’d have never even known what was possible.

Sometimes it feel uncomfortable to do things the wrong way. At the very beginning it can even feel lonely.

But I’m here today to encourage you to keep on keeping on.

Don’t give up.

Don’t give in.

Keep on.


Lessons on life from the little blue creatures …

And nope, I don’t mean Doctor Who and his blue box. Although, that would be cool!

So on Friday, the children and I went to see the internationally acclaimed Smurfs 2. If you’re not familiar with its predecessor, fear not …

I totally couldn’t remember what happened last time and it did not matter one bit!

One of the things I love most about watching children’s films (other than the popcorn and adult humour that goes waaay over the heads of my three) is the little nuggets of wisdom they throw out.

Usually the life lessons are tacked onto the closing scenes but not this time. Within 10 minutes or so, Papa Smurf, in all his Father Christmas-like grandeur delivered the line:

“It doesn’t matter where you come from. What’s important is who you choose to be.”


I, of course, grabbed for my phone and wrote a quick note (I’ve learned, the hard way, just how unreliable my memory is!) because it reminded me of something I started thinking about last week.

Do you remember the Joel Osteen quote?

“Whatever follows ‘I am’ is going to come looking for you.”

And I encouraged you to step into some God-penned I ams and use those to power your day.

Well the other thing I was thinking about is this idea of choosing who we are.

A few years back, when Heaven & El had a different look (and a far less clearly defined purpose) I coined the title ‘Hostess of Happiness’. It was my chosen I am.

And it was so strong an identity for me that, even on the days when I was feeling a bit blue (no pun intended!) it didn’t last long because I am the Hostess of Happiness and it’s kind of a given that smiles come with the role.

So, who are you? Who God sees you as is part of it of course, because he sees you as some pretty wonderful things.

But, it’s equally as important for you to decide who you choose to be.

Because one thing is certain … if you don’t choose, someone is going to choose for you.

And it’s far more empowering and motivating to choose, and then step into and own that person, whoever she may be.

You game?


How to succeed in the big stuff by thinking smaller …

How many times do you read a good book, one full of ideas that really seem to hit home and spark loads of those exciting ‘ahas’ that we both love so much? And you get all fired up and start thinking about how this time you’re actually going to make use of that thing you just read.

And for a little while you do. All those good intentions. And then life happens and you sort of tail off a bit?

Yep, me too.

And I’m not just talking about the usual suspects like weight loss or business goal setting (although, in my world at least, those two seem to feature fairly often in this cycle!)

I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve promised myself that I’ll absolutely, definitely drink the recommended eight glasses of water, only to get to about 3pm and find I’ve fallen woefully behind.

So when my dad told me about a book he was reading about little things that get the big stuff done, I bought a copy immediately (Thank you Amazon Kindle. I love you so, so much!) and started reading it the same day.

It’s called The Slight Edge and the basic premise is that everything anyone has ever achieved, any time, ever, any success they had or triumph over adversity; all of it happened because the someone decided to do one little thing, consistently, repeatedly, cheerfully and without giving up.

There are loads of stories scattered in there and some two hundred pages of expanding on this point but that’s the Facebook status update version (just in case you’re not really a book person or you’re one of those people who’d rather skip to the last page to find out if it’s a happy ending or not.)

Thinking about my 8 glasses of water quest, I decided to tweak it, based on this new found learning and, instead of trying to drink two litres of water, today I simply chose to drink one small glass of water every hour, on the hour.

I forgot a couple of times but by the end of the day, my 2 litre bottle was nearly empty. Result!

The trick will be doing it again tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that and …

I got to thinking … what else could we tweak and apply The Slight Edge principle to?

You remember I mentioned yesterday about how Mondays are the day for getting really intentional about the week to come?

Well this is what I was talking about. Picking the little things that, added up together, over time, make a massive difference. Both in your business and in your day to day life.

Are you one of those people who, every January, makes a promise to yourself that this is the year that you’re finally going to read the whole bible? How far did you get?

What if, instead of trying to read the whole bible, you simply read one chapter per day? And what if you didn’t wait for January to roll round but instead, started right now, today? You’d have nearly got to the end of Numbers by Christmas morning. Not too shabby!

You see? It works like a charm for just about anything in life that you want to do.

Want to finally write your book? Commit to writing 500 words per day, every day, and you’ll be the proud owner of a fifty thousand word first draft in little over three months.

Want to be able to do 100 sit ups? (Really? Are you sure?) But yes, if you really want to, you can commit to just one and then one more and then one more again and before you know it, 100 sit ups. Easy.

The real trick is choosing your thing, and then doing it, every single day.

Are you ready? Get to it!


The 15 second secret to being the person God created you to be …

The children have broken up for the summer and last week I was on the phone and, yes, you’ve guessed it, within seconds of speaking, one of them needed me.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a child whose parent is on the phone, must be in want of a drink. And a snack. And help pulling down his trousers!

Let’s just say that I wasn’t my usual bright and cheery self. I made my apologies, went and sorted whatever drama was occurring and then came back.

It was a business call and we got to talking about how to shift the less than calm atmosphere. And of course it didn’t take long for Joel Osteen’s quote to come up in conversation:

“Whatever follows ‘I am’ is going to come looking for you.”

Too often we tell ourselves, ‘I’m scared.’ ‘I’m stuck.’ ‘I’m stressed out because the children are off school and it’s hard work juggling having fun with them at the same time as running a business from home.’

What if you weren’t scared?

What if you weren’t stuck?

What if you weren’t stressed out?

What if instead of telling ourselves what we are, based on the circumstances on any given day, we instead reminded ourselves of who God says we are and stepped into those shoes?

What would that look like?

“I am God’s child. I am his precious work of art. I am loved. I am more than capable through God’s strength. I am treasured and so delighted over, he sings songs about me.”

And no, I didn’t make that up. God said it first, in the bible. But he didn’t say it just once or twice. The whole book is a love story with reminder after reminder after reminder of how much we are loved.

Because we are human and he knows how easy it is for us to forget!

So how about we start our week by picking one or two God penned ‘I ams’, writing them down and sticking them up somewhere so we can’t help but see them. On the wall over your desk or on your white board? Perfect!

But don’t just put them up and forget about them. Look at them. Read them. Mentally chew over the words and allow them to really get to you.

And until the next time, keep smiling 🙂

What if prayer is more than feeding quarters to the slot machine and waiting for it to spit out gifts?

I read a blog post last week about prayer. Specifically, the author asked her readers to stop praying for her husband. She said that after two and half years, she’s decided it doesn’t work and so she’d prefer it if people just stopped.

She advocated prayer through action instead.

Instead of praying for her husband, love on him.

Instead of telling the person who’s dying of a terminal disease that you’re praying for them, be with them, hold their hand when they haven’t got words. Just be there.

And I can see a lot of sense in that.

It reminds me of a running joke in my husband’s family. Every Christmas when he was a kid, they’d get a card from a distant family member that was signed off with the phrase ‘love and prayers’.

What did those prayers mean to a family who hadn’t spoken to each other in years?

When ‘I’m praying for you’ becomes short hand for ‘I don’t know what else to do or say and, if I’m honest, I don’t really want to have to ‘do’ anything’, where’s God’s love in that?

That said, I’m not ready to give up on prayer just yet.

I don’t know how it works and I know I don’t want to be guilty of ‘feeding the slot machine’ thinking, but what I do know is that prayer, when it’s working how God planned it, is meant to be a conversation, not a shopping list.

And yes, I’m keenly aware that ‘conversation’ is a two-way thing and that means stopping and just listening from time to time. What can I say, I’m a work in progress!

What if we approached prayer how we might approach a conversation with our mum or dad?

What if we knew, deep in our core, that the person we were speaking with loved us, unconditionally, just as we are right now? How would that change things?

And what if we knew that he was interested in everything, all of it, not just the stuff we deem as ‘holy’ or ‘spiritual’?

Because spoiler alert: All of it is spiritual and all of it is interesting to God.

What to do when you’re tempted to do that thing where you disappear …

Please, tell me it’s not just me?!? Pretty please?

You know that thing where stuff happens and you don’t know what all the pieces look like and so you just run away and hide while you figure stuff out?

And then, by the time you get it figured out it’s two weeks (or two years!) later and you still have all these loose ends and not all the pieces are in place yet so you feel stuck?

Or maybe that’s just me?

We do it in business. We do it in life. It’s like we think we need to know all the answers before we can take decisive action.

But you know what? That’s total rubbish!

I’m yet to find one example of a successful person (however you choose to define success) who got where they did by waiting until they had all the pieces in place.

And I can’t find any examples in the bible either for that matter. Joseph got chucked in a hole and left for dead by his brothers before being sold into slavery. Not exactly an auspicious start.

Paul (or Saul as he was known at the time) was chief ringleader in a campaign to round up and kill Christians.

And one of my absolute favourites, David, God called him a man after his own heart even though he slept with another man’s wife and then got the poor guy bumped off because she was pregnant!

God doesn’t need you to have all the pieces in place and know all the answers and your business doesn’t either.

So here’s what I’d love to propose as an antidote to the temptation to run and hide …

Choose one thing, any one thing, it doesn’t really matter what thing you pick, that will help you move forward in whatever area of your life you’re currently tempted to run away from.

Take that thing (be sure to pick something small and easy to do) and do it. Right now if you can.

If you’re hiding from God because you’re don’t know where you’re at with him right now, your one thing might just be saying hello.

If you’re hiding from the wonderful people who raised their hands and said “Yes please, we’d love to hear from you each day!” because you haven’t emailed them in nearly two weeks, your one thing might be to write to them.

If you’re hiding from having that conversation with your spouse because you just know it’s not going to be fun, your one thing might be to speak up and ask for the conversation.

Whatever ‘it’ looks like for you, deep down you know that disappearing isn’t really the answer.

So go on, choose one thing, be brave and just do it anyway. It might not be pretty but you’ll be glad you did. And who knows where that one thing might take you.


I want to love Jesus but honestly, it’s a bit of a struggle …

I don’t think this battle between what we want to do and what we do do is a new thing.

Paul struggled with it and I mean, he was Paul. So if he got himself in a pickle from time to time, it’s really too much to expect that we won’t! Not that I’m putting him on a pedestal or anything, that’s a wobbly place for anyone.

But if you had to list out holy people who did cool stuff for God, I’m pretty sure Paul would make most Christian’s lists.

So what do you do when God feels far away?

Or how about when you really, really want to love Jesus but it all just falls a bit flat?

Well, I have another question for you …

What do you do when your partner feels far away? Or if you don’t have a significant other, how about your mum or dad? If they’re feeling a bit distant, what do you do?

And what about those times when, you still really love them, but it’s all just feeling a bit meh?

Do we give up? Decide that we can’t have really loved them after all, otherwise we wouldn’t be feeling like this?

Or do we try something else?

Quite the little question master today aren’t I? (Although yes, that one’s a rhetorical one!)

Seriously though, God’s your dad. Jesus is described as a dear friend or like a brother. I don’t know what your relationship is like with your dad or your brother and if it’s not perfect, me saying that might make you wince.

But imagine what you’d like a relationship with a dad and brother to look like. Picture it in it’s dream-dream scenario.

That’s you, God and Jesus, hanging out, doing your thing.

So what if, when he’s feeling far away and you want to love him but are struggling, you just show up. Tell him how you’re feeling? Be real about it?

What would that look like?


What I learned about loving unconditionally from a half-naked Jessie J

I was at the gym on the cross-trainer (that’s the one with the funny arms that go back and forth at the same time as your feet are going up and down. Well weird!) when I happened to glance over at the screen of an exercise bike.

Because it wasn’t being used by anyone, it was showing the default music channel and that’s when I saw the silhouette of a scantily clad female person striking a pose.

The music started and the silhouette danced and sang. You know what the average female pop stars videos are like. We don’t dress them dowdy or in sweaters up to here. She was effectively dancing in her underwear.

It was at this point that the internal debate in my head started up. Why do they feel the need to wear so little in order to sell a record? What does this say about us as a culture that the slim, pretty, half-naked ones are the ones who make it big?

Blah, blah, blah!

And then I recognised Jessie J.

And without even consciously thinking about it, something clicked in my head. Because Jessie can sing. She has a fab voice. And yes, the song was a bit average and not one that I can remember the tune of now I’m home but, because it was her and I like and respect her, suddenly it was different.

And that was when I told myself off for being so judgemental and unloving!

Because it’s easy to love and show compassion when the other person is someone we respect or is like us in some way. Loving the people who are different is when things get messy.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

(And yes, I’m speaking to myself as much as anyone right now!) Here’s to loving, even when it’s difficult.

They laughed when I said, “Know yourself.” And then they saw me run.

Remember I told you yesterday about the whole marathon thing and how much I like to grumble? (I mean, I don’t like to grumble per se. It’s just kinda par for the course some days.)

Well this morning, a funny thing happened. I finally got all three of the kids back to school and I was pondering on how best to plan my day. There’s always a temptation to go wild and bunk off when they’re all back in school but some attempt at planning usually helps curb this, just a little.

So anyway, to save some time, I decided that, if I woke up early enough, I’d go for a run first thing while everyone else was sleeping. I didn’t set an alarm but thanks to my husband’s snoring, by 6:15, I was awake.

And you know what? It was lush out there. I didn’t grumble or complain once!

It still hurt and there were times when I really, really, really wanted to stop and just walk for a bit but it was like a totally different experience.

Ideas for these emails popped in my head. I remembered stuff I was meant to do that I hadn’t done yet. I chatted with God. It was all really fun.

And that’s when I had a bit of an aha …

I’m an early bird. Just so long as it’s light and not raining, I love being up and about first thing. Ask me to run after about 4pm and you might as well fill my shoes with lead for all the good it’d do me!

And having finally made that connection, you can be as sure as chips is chips that I’ll be out running again first thing Saturday morning instead of leaving it until later in the day.

And you know what else? The same is true with hanging out with God. As much as I love to flump on the sofa and watch a good film, I’m an active sort of a person. I’m not so great at being still and if you need me to sit quietly for too long, there’s a better than average chance that I’ll fall asleep!

I chat with God while I’m washing the dishes. I’ll grumble and complain and thank him when my feet are running. I’ll sing and ponder stuff in my head while making tea for the kids. Sure, maybe the whole ‘prayer closet’ way of the prayer warriors of old is more ‘right and proper’ but I hang out with God who loves me, just as I am.

In fact, you know what? He made you to be you, and he doesn’t need a do over.

How about today we embrace all that it means to be us and see how those shoes fit?