A feedback session to remember

During the latest lockdown I offered a free course of RelaxKids classes to year 6 of our local school, Laneshawbridge Primary. I ran the classes remotely, on Zoom, so that children could access them both from school and at home.

Since school reopened, I was keen to receive feedback from the children as I wanted to know what their thoughts were of experiencing mindfulness and relaxation. I therefore approached the school’s headteacher, Mrs Sharples, who caught me by surprise and invited me to go in person, in class, and ask for feedback directly to the children. She said that it would be more beneficial for both sides to meet this way as opposed to making it a paper exercise and get the children to write down what they thought.

So, this morning, I went in and I decided to spend my first 10 minutes explaining to children how the brain works and why relaxation teaches us how to deal with our emotions. I used visual aids as props, with animals representing key parts of our brain and then I used a calm bottle where I had put glitter that represented our thoughts and emotions. I shook the bottle and showed the kids how, when we are stressed, our head can feel like everything is spinning – just like the glitter in the bottle. I then put the bottle on a table and showed them how stillness and calm is what settles the mind down.

The children were so enthusiastic about this mini session and about finding out how the brain and emotions work and the feedback about today and my previous sessions completely made my day. Here are some of the things I would love to share with you to highlight the power of mindfulness and relaxation in children:

  • Knowing how the brain and emotions work made me feel better because I experience swirly thoughts all the time and it’s good to know I’m not alone in that.
  • The classes made me feel relaxed and I was disappointed when the visualisation parts were over.
  • I used what I learned about calming myself down at bedtime and it worked.
  • After the classes I felt more relaxed and happier.
  • I agree with you, at first I did feel silly doing some of the activities but by the third session I stopped turning my camera off and danced with you in front of the screen!

Today I was reminded of why I have chosen this path, knowing that I can help children learn about coping with their feelings and emotions and introducing them to massive part of wellbeing: the relationship with ourselves.

Thank you to Laneshawbridge for this amazing opportunity and to all the children who took part.

If you are a parent or a headteacher reading this and would like to find out more, please get in touch through the Contact us page and I would be delighted to tell you more.

Love,

Ren

Coaching is not just for adults!

Over the last few weeks I have taken part in some great networking events and I have been talking about what I do as a life and wellbeing coach. Many people had heard about coaching for adults but I have come across a lot of curiosity and interest in terms of what coaching can do for children.

For my lovely young audience, I often work in the capacity of a RelaxKids Coach, teaching children about mindfulness and emotional resilience through playing. RelaxKids is an amazing organisation that was founded about twenty years ago with the aim to increase children’s confidence, resilience and self-esteem by learning a mixture of relaxation and mindfulness techniques.

As some of you already know, I have two children of my own and, during the first lockdown, I felt the urge to find a door that would lead me to expand my knowledge of coaching children and learn the skills to help young ones. My eldest son was only 8 and he was having such a difficult time coping with isolation and lockdown. After searching the web, I came across RelaxKids and found a lot more than I had hoped for. Not only was I able to study and qualify as a RelaxKids Coach but I also became part of an amazing network, spreading happiness at a much needed time!

A RelaxKids class is normally 45 to 60 minutes long and it can be delivered as a 1-2-1, a family workshop, or in large groups. It is based on a 7 steps routine that moves children from high energy to low energy, hence enabling them to relax in a natural manner. During a session, children will dance, run around and move their body to let the energy out and release endorphines. We will then do some fun games before proceeding to stretching exercises, self massaging such as a face massage or reflexology and deep breathing exercises. It is absolutely amazing to see how well children do at all these and the fact that every section of the class is only a few minutes long keeps them interested.

We then move into my 2 favourite parts of the class: believe and relax. Believe is all about teaching children how to develop self-esteem, self-compassion and self-acceptance. This is where, as a parent, I continue to be amazed about how children struggle from such a young age to talk positively about themselves. This step can be so powerful when practiced regularly and I have seen amazing results with my own children.

Finally, we finish off with some lovely visualisations where I read two stories to the children, inviting them to close their eyes and using their imagination to fly away to magical and happy places. I explain to children how they can go back to these happy places whenever they want because happiness is already within them.

I normally finish the class by having a chat with the children and it melts my heart when they say that they are feeling happier. I don’t think I could ask more than that!

During lockdown, I am running my sessions on Zoom and Teams both privately and with schools. If you are reading this article and you would like to try a session, just give me a call and I’ll be delighted to tell you more. I am passionate about helping adults and children and totally in love with what coaching can deliver.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Love, Ren

Happy new year’s eve

Since starting Wren Coaching, at times I felt under pressure to be present on social media, to write with a certain regularity, to post certain content… But as often in my life, it was through a coaching conversation that I had an insight: I don’t HAVE to do anything!

Over the last few weeks I decided to let go of my own rules about how often I should be writing and posting and I decided to only write when I feel like sharing something.

Tonight, as I look outside and the snow has started falling again, I reflect on the meaning of new year’s eve, the tradition of years gone by, what 2020 has brought and what 2021 might bring.

I observe the world through my WhatsApp, receiving texts from my friends and family all recreating a special moment in their own way and with whom they are allowed to share. I see traditions being recreated in the search for the comfort that has been taken away. Pictures of banquets for one or two, pictures of those who are far away and can’t be here, pictures of those who are around the corner but feel just as far tonight.

Yet, most importantly, I see the strength and resilience that always emerges when we least expect it. I see the inventiveness, ingenuity and creativity that flourishes in spite of our mixed feelings and I am inspired: we are always capable of so much more than we believe.

My wish for you tonight is to contemplate on what 2020 has brought to you in spite of adversity and for you to find peace, hope and solace in the support and love out there, however intangible it might feel tonight.

I am incredibly grateful for all I have received this year because it has made me appreciate the present moments so much more than before.

May 2021 bring you good health, love and peace above all.

Love,

Ren xx

COVID-19 Our home test for the kids: an inspiring story!

It’s very late tonight, or maybe very early in the morning, but I wanted to capture something that happened today before I go to bed!

We had to do a Covid-19 test for our 5 years old daughter and 9 years old son today – Chiara and Matteo.

They were both apprehensive about the prospect but didn’t show it too much during the day. When the time to do the test came this afternoon, I took Chiara upstairs and my husband helped Matteo.

Chiara looked at me and said “Mamma, my legs are feeling a bit weird, they are shaky”. I explained to Chiara that it was because she was a bit nervous about the test but that it was going to be fine. She started crying and feeling upset about doing the test. I felt so sorry for her, my little girl experiencing so many side effects of growing up during a pandemic… but before my thoughts even had a chance to go any further, something amazing happened!

Chiara began to do deep breathing exercises, the ones that I have taught her in the mindfulness classes I run for children. Within less than two minutes she managed to calm herself down by taking deep breaths and getting herself into a calm state of mind. I was so amazed at seeing this kind of result at a completely unexpected time!

Matteo was still downstairs and he too was struggling. He was so upset and totally scared. By this point an hour had gone by and my husband had had to go back to work. So, inspired by Chiara’s results, I sat with Matteo for over 45 minutes and did deep breathing exercises with him and then read him a Relax Kids guided meditation. Eventually he managed to open his mouth and let me carry out the test.

So, after this experience today, I was reminded once more of why I chose to become a coach. I was reminded of the amazing difference that mindfulness has on children and the difference that coaching makes.

I haven’t been very vocal yet on my socials about my children mindfulness and wellbeing coaching but what happened today inspired me to reach out to parents out there who believe mindfulness and coaching can help their children – if this story is striking a chord, I would love to connect.

Good night everyone!

Love, Ren

An imperfect weekend

I had really been looking forward to my weekend…

I was very good and admitted I couldn’t possibly do it all so I had taken a weekend off from exercising and decided I was really going to enjoy it. Early in the week, I rescheduled my weekend workout with my PT and I planned to get ahead with my coaching work.

Then, during the week, plans changed. My daughter was sent home from school and asked to self isolate for 14 days because there had been a positive case of COVID in her class. By the time I woke up on Saturday morning, I was completely behind with my work and my infamous To do list looked very much “unticked”. I woke up feeling very sorry for myself and with a big lack of motivation.

The naughty elf had blocked the entry to the kitchen which made it even more fun and my eldest child was particularly grumpy. He rightly expressed with words what I was feeling inside… “I am disappointed we had to change plans”… “Can we really not see our cousins?”… “I am in a bad mood and I don’t want to talk about happy things”.

My sister called me and I had a little cry and she let me talk it all out, listened to my unaccomplished to do list and did not try to make me reason… she just listened – she is very good at that! After my chat with her, we all went out to the fields, for some fresh air. Except it wasn’t quite as idyllic as the pictures may suggest. It was more of a mud bath with a lot of complaining from my son who kept saying that he did not want to get into a good mood because he was so sad.

I was about to get annoyed but then I remembered my own conversation with my sister, I thought of my own conversations with clients when I coach… I remembered that I just needed to listen and give him some space.

After an hour of walking, he saw some snow still lying on the grass and his eyes lit up. We had a very modest snow ball fight and then my husband got us a hot chocolate. I was filled with joy and everything seemed better so I said to my son “I want to tell you something Matteo, which you will hopefully remember when you grow up: happiness is made out of small moments of joy, like right now. So, even if you are feeling sad, you can still find moments of joy”. He really liked that and he reminded me of a young teenager; his answer was “whoa, that’s big!”.

Today is not my ideal morning because I am working and not spending time with the kids. I am still in my pjs and writing my blog, preparing my relaxation class for tomorrow and also writing up my reflection log after my coaching session on Wednesday. It is not perfect but I am OK about it, I’m not fighting what I can’t change and I do have to get my work done because tomorrow home-schooling will restart!

So, if you are also having an imperfect weekend I hope you too find some joy in between tough moments and I hope you too can smile at yourself and remember you are doing a great a job! And if you are trying to feel better but you are struggling, remember you can always get in touch and discover how I can help.

In the meantime, I wish you all an imperfect weekend 🙂

Love, Ren

Reminder

As this week draws to a close, I would like to share a quote with you, from the book
Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Pagán, Camille

Yet I’ve come to understand that the way I will truly honor my mother’s memory is not with a big act, but through my daily choices: to be compassionate with myself, even when my will is weak and my body fails me; to give myself freely to those I love, even when it means my heart may be broken; and to live fully and completely while I have the chance—just as my mother did.

It was almost 6 years ago when I read this book, shortly after losing my mum, and that sentence meant that much to me that I sent myself an email which I purposely left in my inbox ever since. The email subject was “reminder” and the body was the text I have just shared with you.

Today, I reflect on how many things happened since my mum passed away and I am so grateful for the realisations that have driven my choices since then. They didn’t all come at once and the discovery journey for me was heavily guided by the coaching that I received.

Over the last 6 years, I have realised that having children is exhausting, emotional, nerve wracking, stressful… but – above all -AMAZING! I have discovered that what I thought would bring me happiness actually prevented me from enjoying time with my own family – that was a tough one: the ego didn’t let go easily! I realised that at the game “let’s please everyone” there is never a winner and that saying no won’t stop people from loving me. I have realised that living fully and completely means that I have to be compassionate with myself, just like that author wrote in her book, and that I need to speak my truth and follow my heart.

And although I don’t have it all figured out myself, I know that I enjoy life today more than I did yesterday. I know that there is a synergy between what I love and where my time goes and I know that I want to help others find balance in their own life and figure out what truly matters to them – that’s my truth!

So, if you are reading this and you are wishing you could live fully and completely, give me a call: I would LOVE to help!

Trick or treat? I’ll go for treat please!

Over the last week I have asked family and friends to engage with me in a series of trick or treat questions. I was curious to understand what people’s opinion and interpretation is of selfless vs selfish, trick of the mind vs treat.

My favourite was to see all the answers to the question “what is the one thing that you know to be true about being selfless?”. The answers were so heart felt and certainly revolved around love. Love for others, unconditional love, loving even when disagreeing… beautiful acts of kindness.

But my biggest question here is: what about loving ourselves? What if the biggest act of kindness in order to be there for our loved ones, to do a good job, to be a good friend/relative/spouse… was to start from the foundations of our pool of energy and wisdom? Ourselves?!

I am someone for whom helping others, looking after loved ones and being there for friends and family is a priority. I am also someone who can be incredibly strict with herself, expecting high standards at all times: being a good person, a good mum, a good wife, a good sister… you get the idea!

If I felt that there was anybody in need in my circle of friends and family, everything else would have to wait because I would have to be there for those I care about. Up until recently, when it came to work and what I class as my “duty” I would often push myself to get just that little task completed, answer that last email or make sure the house is all clean and tidy before going to bed (my brother and sister would really know this feeling!). Yet in doing so I would fail to recognise the longer-term impact on my wellbeing.

The more I ignored what my body was nagging me to do – i.e. resting, taking a break, sleeping more – the more frustrated I would get. The more frustrated I got, the more I would get grouchy with others and then, eventually, get mad with myself for not having been that good person/mum/wife etc.

It is counterintuitive but the lesson here for me is to rest when I am really busy. It is not to eat into my down time when my emails are incessant or to leave those dishes and spend time with my kids when the house is a mess. It is, most importantly, to keep reminding myself that as mighty as I might feel inside, I am in a human body and I need to rest and recharge. As much as I might wish to be a superhero, I can’t be there for others if my wellbeing is not there.

So my own personal answer to the question “what is the one thing that you know to be true about being selfless?” is that being selfless means to learn to love yourself first before you can love others. Being selfless is put your own oxygen mask on before you help others and to keep recharging when your energy is low.

And if looking after yourself first doesn’t come natural to you, don’t worry – you can always start small. Remember the old saying about a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step?

Start this Halloween by going for a treat! Treat yourself to whatever makes YOU feel good and nourishes your needs – and if you can’t think of anything that can help you help yourself don’t forget that’s what I am here for! The more you support yourself, the more you will be there for others.

So, when your mind next asks you trick or treat – go for the treat, that’s the trick to be stronger!

What is life coaching?

As I am talking more and more about life coaching to friends and family, I am being asked this question a lot: what is life coaching?

Every time I am asked, I smile and, in true coaching style, I ask “what does coaching mean to you?”. I really do enjoy these conversations and every person brings to me a different interpretation and a new opportunity to reflect.

For me, life coaching is the opportunity to slow down and figure out a way of fixing a problem, overcoming a difficulty or finding the direction you have been looking for. A life coach is not an expert in your field but a supporter, a motivator and someone who offers you a variety of lenses to inspect your own circumstances… a bit like going to the optician and trying on lots of different sunglasses!

When it comes to working with children and adolescents, I see life coaching as the young person’s opportunity to open up to an adult without the fear of being judged and a chance to articulate and validate their feelings. One of the most moving things one child said to me once was “you understand me“.

My current coach and mentor mentioned something to me when we first met: he said that he is not the expert but that we are fellow explorers. I really liked that analogy and I thought it was a beautiful way of describing this type of journey. No matter what topic you choose to work on; self esteem, anxiety, self-belief, anger, stress – a life coach’s job is not to teach you what to do but to explore alongside you. A life coach will take you on an introspective journey where you will discover what is stopping you from moving forward and will encourage you to step in the direction that makes the most sense to you.

Just like a personal trainer does not do the heavy lifting, in life coaching it is you who does the important work, but your coach is right there, beside you, encouraging you and driving you on. To expand more on the weight analogy, I will use my auntie’s words from last week: after explaining to her what it is that I do, she said: “Oh, I get it now. You take the weight off people. We all put masses of weight on ourselves, in our own heads, but you help people by lifting the weight off and making them realise they can achieve their happiness”.

So, I guess there are many ways of defining life coaching but what is true to me is that I love it for the opportunity that it gives me to help people and connect with them. My wish is to support, encourage and motivate people in realising that they are mighty in themselves, just as they are. We are capable of so much more than we believe and I would love to help you find that out for yourself.

Mental Health Day: good night reflections

Today on Mental Health Day, through my Facebook page, I took the time to share some of my favourite quotes from the book “Love for Imperfect Things” written by a Zen Buddhist teacher called Haenim Sunim.

To wish you all good night, I am going to pick what spoke to me the most, in relation to self compassion and mental health. It is a simple wish yet so powerful: “May you find the eye of compassion within you”.

I was delighted to see how many people shared their thoughts and experiences of mental health on social media, the more we talk about it the more normal it will be for people to open up. Yet it is so easy to find space in our heart to help others and so hard to become our own biggest fans.

We all expect so much from ourselves: perfection, strength, compassion for others – but what about looking after ourselves?

Over the last 18 months, I have gone on a big journey of self discovery and self compassion which is what brought me to life coaching. On world mental health day I encourage you to look after yourself first and foremost. Don’t keep running on an empty tank but begin your journey to recharge and reconnect with yourself. Life coaching can be transformational and I would be delighted to help you on your journey.

And, as the day draws to an end, if you feel that you are not ready for a change: don’t worry – start in a simple way and just go and have a relaxing bath and take a little time out. It is through stillness that calm can be found and so can mental health.

Good night everyone

#mentalhealthday

I ran an endurance marathon and 4 miles more… here is why…

For those who don’t know me… and I guess for those who do, I never liked running! Yet I signed up to an Edurancelife marathon, which is an event that takes you through extreme conditions whilst running a long distance. 
If anyone had told me a few months ago that I would have run on this kind of event, I wouldn’t have believed it. So why did I do it?


Well, I did it for a variety of reasons:

1. To enlighten a point which is my truth: we are capable of so much more than we believe. 

2. For a charity that is very dear to my heart: Pendleside Hospice.

3. In memory of my mum who has been an inspiration to me for her strength and resilience in life and in illness.


I trained hard for the marathon and I was incredibly very fortunate with my support network believing in me and pushing me to the fullest. In particular, my husband and my personal trainer were the ones that lived and breathed this journey, training with me to make this happen. Somehow, they knew I could do it before I realised it myself, which made me reflect very deeply: do we really know ourselves as well as think?


Having completed the event now, I sit here and somehow I am still in disbelief! It was so hard, actually a lot harder than I anticipated: it felt epic – I ran through hills, I ran up steps as much as I could and then I powered walked when my legs failed me. The weather conditions were horrendous: it was foggy, it was cold, it was wet and it was windy! Yet I had made a commitment to myself that I would complete this marathon, no matter how hard it was going to be or how long it was going to take me. My personal trainer kept telling me that we were in it to complete it, no matter how long it would take us. I ended up running for 7 and a half hours, the last hour by myself. It was that foggy that we took a wrong turn and extended the marathon by four miles. When one of the officials, at the last checkpoint, told me that it was 5 miles to go as opposed to 1, I cried. I was in so much pain – how could I possibly run for another hour? Yet I did it and I am here now, reflecting on my achievement and on why I put myself through it in the first place!


I got through it thanks to my physical training, sure – but, most importantly, thanks to the power of coaching and the insight I had into how much more we are all capable of as human beings. When we are in the moment, we just deal with what life throws at us, and then we suffer when we think back or when we project into the future what could possibly go wrong. When I was running those last 5 miles, I had so many thoughts running through my head – a bit like my life flashing in front of me, my brain frantically scanning life events to make connections and offering me memories of tough events that I had already overcome. I remember one specific thought, it was a compassionate one where I told myself: it’s only me and you now, let’s get through this last bit together. And so, through the thick fog, the deep mud and the heavy rain, I ran the last five miles, visualising that big hug from my husband awaiting at the finish line and all the virtual cheering from everyone else (COVID restrictions = no spectators)!


So many of my friends and family told me that they felt inspired by what I did and knowing this makes it all so worthwhile – I did feel inspired when I signed up and I feel inspired now. We only know what we have been capable of in the past, NOT what we will be capable of in the future. We cannot know ourselves 100% because we simply do not know 100% of what the future holds. Yet we make so many decisions about our life based on that map of ourselves that we have created, based on past experience. 


I have run an endurance marathon, as an ordinary person who has never run a long distance before in her life. I am a life coach and I want to help people discover what they can achieve in life if they let themselves discover who they really are. My wish is to inspire children, adolescents, parents and adults  to (re)discover themselves through a journey of self acceptance, love and appreciation. I feel so much stronger now for having connected with my truth and myself and I really want to share this with others through coaching.


Thank you for all the love and support from all my dear ones – Team No Limits has raised more than ÂŁ1200 for Pendleside Hospice. 

Thank you to the coaching world for having opened up my mind about the beauty of the unknown and self belief. 

Thank you to you, reading my story today. I hope we will connect soon and share some of this journey together. 

Love

Ren

@pendleside hospice

@britishschoolofcoaching

https://www.justgiving.com/team/Teamnolimits