Thinking of buying a book for Christmas, choose this one!

The Power of Outrageous ExpressionThank you, John for writing this review and have it published in our local newspaper. Thinking of a book to offer at Christmas? a story from the heart to help overcome your fears and to support you to express yourself. Buy the Power of Outrageous Expression by Helene Musso

When Helene asked me to write a review of her book it seemed like a daunting task, because it is a book  written mostly for women about how to develop their self confidence. However as I began to read it I realised that our backgrounds in teaching had given us a lot in common. When I first met Helene, maybe ten years ago, she was teaching Drama at Harlow College, and I was at Chelmsford College, teaching Art. I also worked for a mental health charity, as my Degree had been in Art and Psychology. The Arts and Psychology obviously have a great bearing the subject of Helene’s book.

We are all brought up in our own education to be square pegs for square holes, apart from in whatever Arts our schools have included in the curriculum. There we are given an opportunity, if we have the right kind of teachers, to express our individuality, and many of us find we are round pegs who aren’t going to fit into societies plans for us as a workforce, and have plans of our own. In the Arts there is very little need for competition: there are many ways of doing things, but in Maths 1+1 always has to add up to 2. Creative maths in any great sense is not a possibility. In the outgoing  world of creativity almost anything is possible. We don’t need to be the same as others. We are all unique, and that is one of the main points Helene is putting across. She wants to coax her clients out of the shell that life has put around them to become themselves, and confident to be that way.

Helene looks at the polar connotations of ‘outrageous’ and what different outlooks put on them:    “That’s dreadful, how outrageous”, or with a positive spin “That’s outrageously good, why didn’t I think of that?” Which one sounds to you like a Drama teacher talking? You have to have confidence to go on stage to perform in front of other people, so who could be better to coach people to regain their Mojo and express themselves with confidence than a person experienced in the Dramatic Arts?

So how do you start? Helene proposes five key elements:

Be Yourself,

Be Kind to Yourself,

Practice,

Have Fun and

Discover your own  Extraordinary Story.

So the first stage is going to be self searching: what is my unique identity, and how can I bring it out so that I work to my strengths? Simple things like a name change: maybe a nickname you picked up that is more about your real persona than what it says on your birth certificate. Mannerisms: watch yourself, even do a short video. What quirks do you have? Don’t censor them, use them, they are what makes you what you are. People watch others. You may find more mannerisms you’d like to adopt. We learn by imitation. You see, you like it, you do it. Practice it alone and only you will notice yourself, then in public as your confidence grows. When you are involved in a situation that worries you slow down and take deep breaths to give yourself more clarity of mind: that’s yoga. Turn a ‘problem’ into a ‘challenge’ or ‘opportunity’. But don’t try this without preparing: to be in authority you have to be an authority. Helene doesn’t mention dress, perhaps as women have less restraints when being themselves, but if you want to feel comfortable, wear what feels comfortable to you not what you think people want you to wear. Uniforms breed robots, and we’re not talking about corporate identity here!

Be kind to yourself: don’t struggle with words you find difficult, find simpler synonyms. Admit weaknesses, not pretend to be good at things you havn’t yet mastered. When things are going badly teach yourself to roll through the wobble, we all make mistakes so make fun of them rather than panic. Grab a nap if you can rather that risk mistakes though working when over tired. Relaxation is yoga too! Take little steps when learning, don’t try to run before you can walk. Rest, play, breathe, move, eat healthily, and don’t judge yourself against the way others do things.

Practice: if you’ve ever heard someone learning to play violin you’ll know what this is all about. You’d certainly know if it was too early to go on stage and perform…only when you are confident should you try. But you do have to ‘take risks’ as you come out of your shell, you can’t stay there for ever …. but gently does it. Safety before big risks. Move at your own pace, not others, as you expand your horizons.

Fun: that can be passive, like people watching. Make work fun. You’ll enjoy it more if you can. Dancing is good exercise and fun, and after a few drinks no one is taking notes on what you do. Learn from young children and you’ll stay young. Dream.

Your own extraordinary story. You may think its boring as it was the one you went through it, but with a bit of thought you can pick out the parts that make it an interesting story. Write your own eulogy. How would you like to be remembered? If not like that, get on and make it interesting!

 

Helene’s book is full of games to put over points she is making, and anecdotes of people’s transformations, along with stories  by her clients, filled with praise, saying how her courses have brought about change. And of course it has to be said, as many of these stories do, that her very personality exudes confidence and charm without any stodgy authoritarianism, and that has to be her finest asset. What you see is what you get.

John Power

Buy Helene’s book here, £9.99 only.

Deep breathing exercises: how to harness the power of your breath when speaking

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 Breathe!

Best, balanced, beautiful,  basic, barmy, buoyant but

Bashful  and even Bizarre tool

which costs nothing and is always available, except maybe …. under water!

Let me introduce you to the power of YOUR breath.

Breathing is a natural process; we don’t think about breathing. We are born with the ability to breathe.  I believe we take 20,000 breaths a day in order to live, which is a huge amount of air going in and out. The air enters in an effortless manner into our lungs and meanwhile we rush around, get busy and ignore that powerful tool within us.

Actually, when you start expressing yourselves, especially in public, because you get nervous, because the attention is on you, you need to think about the breath and use it so that it is your ally, so that it supports you.

Often when you are speaking,  you are likely to be  standing and your whole body is engaged, and you need to engage your breath very quickly so your brain gets the maximum oxygen  for maximum performance.  By taking some very long deep breaths before speaking you will calm yourself, you will be more prepared and the added  oxygen rushing into  your brain will allow you to think more clearly  and minimise your mind going blank or your body setting into freeze mode.

Although this is not new-I am not reinventing the wheel here- a lot of people don’t use it.  BE DIFFERENT,USE IT. It is free, it is simple and it is available. Under stress we centre the breath in our throat and upper body making it difficult for us to relax. You can learn very easily  to re-programme or retune our brains to use the breath to your advantage.

Simple,  fun  and effective exercise:

Do it as often as you want/can/desire

Make it a habit and you will develop a more relaxed stance on life

  • Stand up and imagine you are making a speech in front of an audience
  • Shake your body, roll your shoulders back and allow yourself to relax
  • Take a deep long breath in through your nose and out through your mouth Most people will stiffen their shoulders at that point,  rest your hand on your chest and check your shoulders are relaxed.
  • Start thinking about   You need to go down, down, down.  Imagine you are in a lift, in a skyscraper for example,  and you  and the lift is going down. It is the same with the breath, take it from the top of your nose, allow it to enter your chest, and then finally into your stomach which is where you want the air to go.   It is a long journey all the way through your body.  I call this the long deep breath.

The air should stay in your stomach for a second or two, then as you exhale you will pull your stomach in and the air will come out. It’s important not to do it too fast, you may hyperventilate!.

Do this exercise with one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach.  You will feel the air fill your belly and then feel it being pushed out as you exhale.  Do this at least three times.  I hear you

say “But I’m just about to speak, to make a presentation, I can’t do that in front of everyone!” Of course you cannot.  But you can do it in the car, in the toilets, the lobby, anywhere you can feel calm and quiet, a little time on your own before you turn.

It does not have to be big and dramatic, it can be done discreetly, but it is one simple  secret recipe for success. Even if you are still nervous, you will  be calmer. Use the breath to your advantage.  The breath is automatic, but if you work with YOUR breath,  you will be on the road to success.

Get in touch with Helene – helenemusso.com 

When you are losing your grip

furious man is straining arms and looking up, concept violent person

Help! I’m losing control! I am losing my grip.

Wobbles are part of life and make us humans. Still it is nice to learn from them, isn’t it? Maybe you might be able to do something about them without changing the whole of yourself but on reflecting on better strategies to deal with them when they just turn up at the door!

Do you like learning new things?

Do you like meeting new people?

Are you curious, impatient to live and engulfed in the buzz of life?

Are you quite spontaneous but as a consequence do not organise yourself enough with others and miss out on meeting new people?

Can you see the big picture but not always able to see the milestones and the little steps!

Are you a extrovert in disguise- i.e you like being with people but also crave for your own time

Do you like seeing some rewards for what you do but are not always able to wait!

The thing is that if you have answered yes to some of these questions, you are likely to get yourself on overwhelm and burn out very soon.

I suffer from a over enthusiastic need for life  to be involved in everything and I resort to that when I am unsure about what to do next. I suffer from overwhelm of downloads, internet saturation and eyes full of words and images from many sources ranging from social media to You tube!. I think we should create a new condition for that disease which did not exist when I arrived in England in the 90’s

I check my  phone, my email, my numerous updates, my contact lists, my social folder, my promotion folder, I fiddle on my chair and get into this speedy agitated state where my body feels achy and my brain on overcharge! Familiar?

This is what I now do when I realize what I am doing

– Stop!  I ask “what am I doing?” is this helping and serving me in any way?”

– Check for signs of self sabotage :why is when I need to rest the most before an event for example, I often run myself rugged as if a little voice again was saying” you do not know what you are doing” , see “you can even go to bed at a reasonable time”, acknowledge this is happening and go to bed!

– Ask yourself : in the scheme of things, do I need to do this or can it wait- what is it that really needs to be done now and can not wait?

– Check if your beliefs and values are congruent with your action. If I believe that the kids are the priority,  how come I have not booked the little one’s holiday camp yet, if I believe that they are important, how come I have not made any time to spend quality time with them?

– Accept that there will be teething problems if you do something new, just breathe!

I never worry about the content of a course because I know that I have enough resources and experience in hand to cope in any training situation. I have been a teacher for 20 years after all. This might sound pretentious but I could walk in a room unprepared with a group of people and still be able to deliver a training session with substance and meaning . In my case I sometimes prepare a bit too much but I like to give myself plan A , plan B, plan C just in case!

-On indecision: I like pondering over life- I do not like rushing but at times I ponder too much. It is when I make a decision, therr is usually a great sense of relief physically and mentally and then I go into happy zone so learn how to make a  decision earlier to avoid the aggro!

-Trust the process: It will take care of itself

-Be prepared but not obsessed with the outcome!

-Rest, rest, rest: if you are too tired you are no good to anyone

-Spend targeted times on the internet- not too long not too little but a bit  everyday, I was thinking of the word a bit and have recently used Mambo number 5 as a warm up exercise for my courses. In a light hearted way, he says a bit of erica, a bit of …and so on… that is what I need a bit of… , but not too much !

-Be grateful for what you have instead of being grumpy for what you do not have

-Take time to unclutter  in your house and for me on my computer,  information overload gets you dizzy. Do I need all this reminders of everything I am missing out , Arghh  do I need to belong to all these thousands of  groups I have even got time to talk or I have forgotten even  existed on Facebook?

And most importantly listen to Mambo Number 5

 

Surrender or getting angry, what choice are you going to make today?

Surrender or getting angry: choose the best solution, a story to help come to terms with not getting your own way.

I went to do a day’s supply yesterday in a school.  I still teach and I run my own business and I have two children, I sometimes wonder why I’m tired! Anyhow, I was in the classroom with year one, they are 5 to 6 years old, and I’d been with them over an hour and break was coming up.  I got them ready for break and as they were lining up, I was sent a message that it was wet play, which meant they had to stay in the classroom.

This was my second day in this school and I was quite tired, it was Friday, the end of the week.   And I just had one moment of complete anger, thinking ‘what am I supposed to do now?’ And I did call to another teacher, I could see one bringing students back from the playground. I asked ‘What am I supposed to do?  What’s happening to break?’

businesswoman in anger

I had two choices there, the first one was to make my own life a misery, and I was getting quite tense with the kids, because I needed a break.  Then I thought, ‘Well, actually if I had a break that would be great, but I haven’t got a break, so I may as well be easy on myself  and enjoy being with the students.

They all took their coats off, I told them they could play, they took   some toys out and started playing and I sat there and started playing with them too.  Making faces, laughing, talking to them.  And you know what?  Once I had decided there was nothing I could do and I needed just to surrender, just to calm myself and just go with the flow I relaxed and I wasn’t half as tired, I didn’t need my drink now.  I would have been pleased to have a drink then because you get thirsty when you teach, but I could wait.

happy girl in yellow dress

By the time break was over I was ready to start again, then suddenly someone turned up and said ‘I’m here to relieve you so you can have a break.’  I thanked her, gave her some work for the children and left for 10 minutes.  But what was amazing was that if I’d been annoyed with the kids, carried on wanting my break, pushing and getting annoyed, I would possibly have shouted at the children, made myself feel bad, upset the children, and it wasn’t their fault, and by the time someone had turned up I would have been really, really wound up.  But I chose the easiest solution.  Just to surrender.  To think ‘Ok, let’s all have a break together, let’s make the most of it.  Just enjoy being together’.

The kids were having a good time, they weren’t misbehaving, they were lovely and I even gave them a few more minutes play.  So they were happy.  And I think that’s quite important when you want to think about expressing yourself. If you find the wrong time to say what you feel, I could have been really angry, and get really annoyed with the kids and the school.   But because I decided not to and I decided I was going to relax my whole body started to relax.  I didn’t feel as tired and although obviously I needed a break, it was less urgent.  And it is something that’s quite important when you start speaking or when you’re in front of other people and you have to speak.

3d imagen Attitude issues concept word cloud background

Often, it’s better not to worry and just take one thing at a time.   Hold the faith, think that it’s going to be OK.  It’s going to be alright. And realise that if you push too much you are going to make everything miserable, you and the others around you.   Also, what do other people need?  The children needed a break, but it didn’t really matter where it was.  They wanted to play and that is what we did.   Because they were allowed to play and because I relaxed, they were happy.

I think this is a really quite important lesson to learn.  To just relax and surrender.  To just think ‘OK, I can’t have it all my way, and does it really matter?  As long as we, as a group we are making progress.’   That’s what counts.

So, I just want you to think today about the analogy between that situation in the classroom and times when you might have talked to your team, you want them to do this and that,  you just barked orders at them instead of trying to see what else they need. “Are they ready to listen to me? Is it the right time for them?  How can I engage them?  How can I treat them so that they respond? Can I really control the whole thing? Shall I forget to try to get my own way?

If you like this blog, please comment below. Thank you

Helene is a dreamer, a poet, a trainer,  a coach, a mother, a daughter.  She is passionate about helping others to find their voices through her training. Get in touch with her helenemusso.com. If you want to book a discovery call with her, please get in touch on 07875627485 or email beconfident@helenemusso.com.