When I have to teach my students the word ‘habit’ and how to use it, I often go around the room asking each one of them what their worst habit is, and sometimes the bold ones will turn the tables on me and ask me what’s mine. I often respond along the lines of drinking too much coffee or eating too much chocolate. But I’ve just realised that my worst habit is actually far worse than that.
My worst habit is that I am forever starting things and then not finishing them – a habit that stems from childhood. I feel like I should stand up in a room and declare, “Hello. My name’s Mrs. D and I’m a quit-aholic. It’s been two hours since I abandoned my most recent project.”
Think I’m joking? Think again!
At sixteen, I gave up A-level French because after being top of my French class for years, it came as a shock to find that I was struggling with the language at non-phrase book level.
“You give up too easily,” said one of my classmates.
Well I couldn’t argue with that!
Fast forward several years and I’ve lost count of the number of home study courses that are still incomplete; the lessons for singing, dancing, and various instruments that I stopped attending early on; those books that are falling off my bookcase on subjects I’d always said I’d wanted to know more about but never managed to get past the introduction; the language CDs and DVDs which taught me hello and goodbye in many languages but not much else. Then there are the craft kits that are collecting dust, the work-out equipment that looks just as it did when I brought them home from the shops, the blog posts I started last year but haven’t got round to finishing; the drafts of plays, short stories, and novels that I always mean to work on; my ideas for new business ventures that remain just that…
And these are just the ones I can remember. It all starts off so well with so much interest and enthusiasm. But as soon as I realise that it’s not going to be as easy as I thought it would be or I feel I don’t possess enough natural talent, I start to lose interest and lack the patience and perseverance necessary to keep going, which explains the reason why I only ever touch upon the basics (if that!)
I’ve figured out what my problem, no, make that problems are. The first is having a finger, thumb and toe in every pie as I have waaay too many related and unrelated interests. This leads to sloppy time management as there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything, which in turn leads to an inability to focus because I’m trying to do too much and end up feeling overwhelmed. I’m also an impatient perfectionist who wants everything to go swimmingly the first time I attempt it. I have a deep-rooted fear of making a fool of myself, and then to top it all off, I have a tendency to procrastinate, especially when I feel that whatever I try to accomplish is never going to culminate in the desired result anyway. Here you have a recipe for never getting anything done. And many of my likeminded, ‘creative type’ friends agree with me. We’re just so inquisitive and curious about everything and want to give it a go. We have a million things whirling around our heads like a cyclone. And then just as quickly as our interest appeared, it starts to wane, and we then move onto the next big thing.
Well I’m glad to know I’m not the only one!
But without meaning to sound overly dramatic (even though Mr. D says no one does overly dramatic quite like I do) I had a flash back to when I was five and we were practising for sports day at school. I had been put in the skipping race even though I couldn’t skip to save my life. Feeling deflated at being laughed at and ridiculed by the other kids, I persuaded my mum to buy me a skipping rope. That weekend she did. From morning until evening honing my skipping skills was pretty much all I did. And do you know what? None of the other kids ever laughed at me again. Do you know why? Because I was lethal with a skipping rope (and not because I tried to whack them with it. Although I probably should have done!)
Recalling this event has restored a lot of my inner confidence. It reminded me that with a lot of determination, hard work, and persistence you really can achieve anything – that’s not just talk show host speak! I remember that five year old who had enough fire in her belly to go out there and show everyone that she had what it took. She didn’t think that it was too complicated or unachievable. She didn’t listen to those who said that she couldn’t do it. Perhaps it’s time I followed my younger self’s example.
But then I realised that the determination of my younger self did crop up over the years. It was that determination that helped me achieve two degrees; fulfil my dream of studying drama; train as a florist; pass my driving test (something my dad thought was never going to happen) and carve out a career as a teacher for the past seven years. I certainly didn’t give up at the first hurdle there. Maybe I do have it in me to get things done after all.
I feel angry at myself for allowing this habit to continue for as long as it has. I’ve missed out on developing new skills and interests not to mention wasting sh**loads of money. But now that I’ve realised where I’ve gone wrong, I don’t have to allow this habit to continue. First of all I need to accept that I’ll never be able to give my attention to everything at once so I’ll need to prioritise and concentrate on what’s most important to me. And once I’ve done that, I’m going to dedicate some time each day or each week (even if it’s just a little time) to a particular activity and really make a promise to myself to go for it. After all I owe it to myself to try – plus I want to get my money’s worth out of all the stuff I’ve bought! I can always give the other interests a go when I’ve fulfilled these goals.
And I’ve also got to stop getting so hung up on being able to do everything perfectly. We can’t all be brilliant at the first attempt, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m always telling my students that with practice and patience, you’ll make vast improvements so maybe it’s time I took some of my own advice. Until then, I’ll just have to accept that I’m going to suck! Who cares if I can’t ice a cake properly? I’m not Mary Berry! So what if I can’t rock a guitar like Slash? At least I’ll have fun trying. I heard someone say recently that it was better to do something badly than not at all, and that is all the inspiration I need (unless of course the doing something badly is flying a plane, performing life saving surgery or firing a gun in which case it really is better not to do them at all!)
I’m going to leave you with this fantastic piece of advice from the legend that is Dave Grohl which is a reminder that even the greats don’t always start out as great. Sure, you might be pants today, but tomorrow people might be throwing their pants at you while you’re rocking out on stage!
Right, now I’m off to a car boot sale to buy some sh**ty instruments and start putting all those ‘teach yourself’ guitar and drum books and DVDs to good use!
Summer is just a matter of weeks away and it’ll be here before we know it. And despite the fact that it’s very cool today, no one could have failed to notice that the temperature has been rising these last few days. And as the temperature starts to soar, there’ll be lots of legs, arms, shoulders and tums on display, so it’s important to start getting your skin looking it’s very best. The winter months means that we’ve cranked up the central heating and indulged in long, hot baths which aren’t the best things for your skin. In addition to that, our bodies have been kept under wraps during the winters months and our skin hasn’t been getting the TLC it needs.
Well now’s our last chance to get our skin looking and feeling in tip-top condition before the big reveal in the sweltering heat of the Summer.
It’s super important to exfoliate before you tackle anything else as it makes hair removal easier, and the moisturising and tanning products more effective. Exfoliating is also important for removing and preventing ingrowing hairs, getting rid of scaly skin, and preventing blocked pores. For those of you who shave as part of your hair removal regime, exfoliating means that your razor won’t get clogged with flaky skin.
If your skin is a bit on the parched side, it will be more effective for you to use a scrub on dry skin rather than wet. Pay particular attention to heels, knees, and elbows.
I swear by using my loofah but I don’t have a particular favourite scrub although I generally prefer to use one which has lots of lovely natural ingredients and is cream based rather than oil based. Find the scrub that works best for your skin but remember NEVER use a scrub designed for your body on your face – it’s much too harsh.
2. HAIR REMOVAL
I still can’t get over the shock of seeing a lady on the bus wearing a short skirt with seriously hairy legs. It was definitely a case of ‘what were you thinking?’ in conjunction with ‘are my eyes deceiving me?’ Unfortunately they weren’t but it goes without saying that summer clothes generally mean fuzz-free skin, paying close attention to legs, underarms and bikini line – especially if you’re hitting the beach.
There are a whole ton of hair removal methods – shaving, waxing, epilating, depilatory creams, or laser hair removal – so choose what works best for you.
3. MINIMISE CELLULITE
Urgh the dreaded dimply, orange-peel skin that strikes fear into the hearts of women everywhere! Cellulite has been the bane of my life for more years than I care to remember but I know that my unhealthy diet and lack of exercise is to blame so I can’t really talk. The key here is to stick to a diet that is rich in wholegrains, raw fruit and vegetables and oily fish and low in salt, caffeine, and processed fatty food (yes, all the things I love!) Oh yes, and to get exercising!
There are also a lot of cellulite creams that reduce the appearance of cellulite by eliminating the toxins under your skin. And of course body brushing is fantastic for eliminating cellulite and getting rid of dry skin. Sadly it does feel like you’re being attacked with brambles but once you get passed this stage the results will be worth it!
I know, I know – we’re all a little lazy when it comes to moisturising and I must confess I’m no different. But if you want to keep skin looking young, supple, hydrated and flake-free then it’s a must so regular moisturising is a stage that should never be skipped.
There’s some fantastic products out there in the form of lotions, oils, body butters, whipped body butters etc. but if you’re a bit neglectful with the old moisturising, then try adding some oil in your bath water for some much needed hydration.
5. ELIMINATE DARK PATCHES
It would be delightful if we all had an even skin tone but in reality a lot of people don’t. Toes, knees, elbows and knuckles are just some of the areas that typically tend to be a little bit darker than the rest of our bodies. There are creams available which even out skin tone, and you can naturally lighten these areas by rubbing half a lemon over them for fifteen minutes a day. Yes, you’ll feel a bit of a lemon while you’re doing it but it does work! If you find lemon to be a bit harsh, try potato slices.
6. BANISHING ACNE
I really sympathise with women who have acne on certain parts of their bodies. I was lucky as a teen in that I didn’t have facial acne unlike a lot of my schoolmates. But life had a bigger surprise for me in store, and as I approached my twenties I got hit by the acne stick all over my chest, upper arms, and worst of all my back. It was not a pretty sight and quite embarrassing, and I was stuck with it for years.
Thankfully I was spared a visit to my doctor. Changing to organic bath products that were free of SLS, using a body wash that contained tea tree oil, and cleansing, toning and moisturising these areas the same way I did my face (yes, even my back which might explain my super long arms!) helped tremendously and now, apart from the odd spot every now and again, my skin is very clear. And I have to admit, I do love wearing, sleeveless, strapless, off-the-shoulder, or backless clothes because there was a time I could never get away with such outfits.
I have to admit that I’ve never used a fake tanning product in my life as I’ve never needed to so I can’t pretend to be the world’s greatest expert in this area. But I know that for some ladies, the appeal of a fake tan is that they feel healthier and look slimmer. Tanning products work best with smooth skin, so if you’ve followed all the previous steps, your product should go on easily and effectively with minimal risk of streaking.
Build up your tan gradually every day or use one that develops overnight and lasts several days. And don’t forget areas such as feet, ankles and fingers.
And I have to say, I’ve seen some awful fake tan jobs in my time (who hasn’t!) so go easy on the product and aim to get a gorgeous, naturally-looking, sunkissed glow.
Bring on Summer!