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.

New Year, New resolution, New you!

New Year new resolution, new youThe year is coming to an end and again we look at what we have not achieved and then sigh, what if, and if… .It is the right time to decide to change that and to conquer your fears, starting with the fear of Public Speaking and the fear of having the courage to just be and to express yourself confidently and assertively.

I have decided to work  with Liz Sharpe, who is a clinical hypnotherapist, counsellor, BWRT Practitioner, specialising in phobias, addictions, anxiety and depression. With a strong background in managing community mental health services and 15 years experience as a therapist, Liz is passionate about helping people ‘live their life’ and find solutions to life concerns. Liz has a totally unique blend of skills and sees clients from premises in Westcliff, or via Skype.

Join us on this journey to really cure your fears and learn the tools to speak!

Workshop – Find YOUR Voice

Do you suffer from post holiday blues?

man-1519665_640Here it comes again. 

I have had the most amazing holidays, have been very happy and busy and now I am back at home. I am struggling. Not struggling to the point of being really depressed, but this vague feeling of unease which means I would prefer to stay under my quilt far too long or lounge in the sun like my cat and let time just take over with doing nothing.

Every year, I suffer from this feeling and some years I  cope better than other years.

After a busy 6 months working in a school teaching and tutoring for a company, my work came  to a stand still and my business which was developing at the beginning of the year had  slowly shrunk due to the lack of dedicated time given to it. Children have taken over and friends have been around.  Being rather a loner despite my outgoing personality does not help and a sense that “it is worth any effort” and a great apathy. I have now been back for a week in my beloved Chelmsford and everything feels pretty alien and lonely.

My aim was to start blogging as part of Sarah Arrow’s blogging challenge and to make it on the 1st of Septembre. A few technical problems added to my current apathy and it meant that I have written but not done much else, especially posting. Strangely I have planned my first 10 blogs but not acted upon it much.

Is it self sabotage, pure laziness or a sense of what-is-the-point-of bothering anyhow-who-is-going-listen-to-me which festers when you have not got a regular job! Technology has slowed me down but also a  fear which is just a bit tickling my tommy, not rational. Not having a proper job and not having been able to prepare for much else, it feels that there is a great void. I keep saying that it will be fine that I can have the faith and have seen friends who have brought some support and some fun but it does not seem to be enough. Earning my own money and doing something in which I feel I contribute to others is rather important to me. Can I keep the faith? 

This afternoon somehow, I started to tell myself , “I am a bit bored with your attitude, young lady, is there anything you can do”. I was going to go running with my triathlon club but it did not happen as I could not pick up the car early enough from the garage to get to the training session. Basically I mocked up as I dragged the day and dragged the day in utter boredom and apathy. Then at Tesco, I picked up a copy of “Psychologies” and started reading. I do not know what I read but there was a “That’s enough in my head”.

You can do and you are in charge there or you can die in self -pity, it is up to you.

This afternoon in Tesco, I suddenly looked up around me and look at people, straighten my back and smile at myself and at others. Life is good.  

So I am starting this F..blog and my rant is over, it is up to me to make it happen.

What I would do differently next time though

  • Stop overthinking! Self analysis IS paralysis
  • Get busy with other people, seeing friends face to face.  
  • Pre-plan the return home so I have some meetings/work already organised
  • Accept that after a holiday, maybe I will have to behave like a responsible adult and that being an adult is good!
  • It is reassuring to know that it is a condition, and I know I am not that depressed so I must be ok!

Now I think I am going to make a yaourt cake, that is a start and two friends are coming for dinner! Phew!

Helene is a dreamer, a poet, a trainer, a mother, a daughter.  She is passionate about helping others to find their voices and to express themselves with assurance and confidence through her training. Get in touch with her helenemusso.com 

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

 sky-114446_1280

 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 

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.