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Escape to the Country: Sleek luxury incentives edition!

Are you looking for a luxury countryside escape from the city for your clients or employees? Look no further! We have found the perfect incentives location, just a stone’s throw away from London.

Sleek Events hit the road on Friday 1st November (along with some cheesy car songs and lots of sweets) for the 2.5 hour drive to the picturesque village of Frome, Somerset. The purpose of the weekend was both work and play. Packed with strategic sessions, question time, updates from each department but also with plenty of time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. We decided to treat the weekend as if we were on an incentive, gaining insight into the kind of activities we can offer to clients wanting a countryside getaway! Here’s what we got up to…

Day 1 

At around 4pm, we pulled up (after a few minor wrong turns!) to the aptly named Manor, buried deep in country lanes with huge iron gates to welcome us in. As we crunched across the gravel we could only look up in awe at the mansion we would be calling home for the weekend.

luxury incentive location; the manor, frome

We stepped inside and headed into the heart of the house: the kitchen! Our lovely Finance Manager revealed her secret talent of food art – we were welcomed to a glorious spread of meats, cheeses and various other nibbles, alongside several chilled bottles of prosecco.

We spent the afternoon relaxing, exploring the 8-bedroom house (it was a day for getting lost!), unpacking and chatting by the fire about the structure of the weekend to come. We then enjoyed some dinner and spent the evening gin tasting and playing games.

Day 2

Saturday morning was spent in our comfy clothes (including the lovely arrival welcome gift of a cashmere jumper that was laid out on each of our beds) nibbling on croissants, drinking tea and getting stuck into the rugby!

We quickly recovered from the pain of England losing and headed off for showers and to get ready for the morning session. We transformed the Manor’s grand dining room into a fully-equipped meeting room. We began with a company update from our MD & Founder, Jennifer, on new business developments and strategy as well as a reminder of 12-month goals. After a quick break for lunch and a walk around the grounds (another opportunity to get lost!), we began our afternoon session with some department updates including the news of our recent rebrand.

Next was some schedule downtime. It may have been a rest for our brains but not our bodies as the Sleek bootcamp in the Mansion’s gym kicked off! Luckily, this was followed by some time in the hottub before enjoying a three-course meal courtesy of our very own private chefs from The French Kitchen. The meal was to die for and added a taste of luxury to the experience.

The French Kitchen meal

Day 3

As Sunday is traditionally a day of rest, Day 3 took us on an excursion – no lie in for us! We headed to the local market which visits Frome once a month, spending an hour or so browsing the stalls and sampling some of the delicious food on offer.

Sleek team walk in the country

We then drove to the next village of Mells and set off on a gorgeous autumnal walk through the fields, before rewarding all our efforts with an indulgent roast dinner by the fireplace in The Talbot Inn, a local pub. Feeling full and chilled, we headed back to the Manor and had a little more downtime, enjoying an informal fireside chat about our personal goals and reflections.

After a day of indulgence, all we needed were a few nibbles to accompany a film and everyone was ready for an early night – the fresh country air had beaten us all!

Day 4

Waking up on Monday morning was more luxurious than your average start to the week! After a gym session to liven us up, we packed, made some breakfast and then cracked on with our final workshop. We left for London around 12.30pm, making it back in plenty of time time for the school run.

It’s amazing what you can pack into a luxury incentive weekend. Our agenda and mix of activities might have given you an idea for your own getaway or we can create a completely bespoke itinerary to suit you and your clients. Fancy incorporating more outdoor activities? Remember, we say “how?” not “no” at Sleek Events – so we really can arrange the perfect trip for you.

For more information about our incentive packages, drop us an email at hello@sleekevents.co.uk and make sure you follow us on social media to see all the other exciting destinations we visit – it’s a hard job but someone has to do it!

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breathing in the fresh air - wellness

Sleek Events supports #EventWell19

If you’ve been following our Instagram posts this week (and if not, why not?!), you’ll have seen that we’ve been looking at wellbeing in honour of #EventWell19 – a week dedicated to raising awareness of wellbeing and ways to improve it. This year, Mind is the chosen charity for the #EventWell19 campaign, so we’ve been taking inspiration from their brilliant ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ initiative. 

EventWell, founded by Helen Moon, is the event industry’s ‘first and only’ charitable organisation dedicated to giving people advice, knowledge and support on topics surrounding wellbeing and health in general. We as #eventprofs are constantly told how stressful our industry is, so it’s great to know that there’s a resource available to us!

In order to celebrate #EventWell19 and raise awareness, we challenged our followers to do one small thing a day in line with Mind’s 5 initiatives, whether that be giving someone a hug, taking the stairs rather than the lift or spending the day volunteering or fundraising for charity.

It’s easy to get lost in the ambiguous term that is ‘wellbeing’, so we find that when you break it down into smaller activities then it’s easy to introduce improvements to your life and to those of others.

Sleek’s Top Tips 

Our top three tips to improve your wellbeing (there really is no excuse!)

1. Communication is key

Talking is SO important. Reachout.com describes how talking to someone can release tension, put things in perspective and make you feel safe. Even just offloading to a friend or family member can help you feel as though a weight has been lifted, making you realise you’re not alone. Ask for help!

2. Treat yourself 

There’s so much pressure in our society and all professional industries, it’s no wonder we’re all so hard on ourselves. It’s important to reward ourselves for all our hard work – praise is not often a huge part of our professional adult lives, so by giving yourself some hard-earned praise in the form of treating yourself to a delicious meal or buying the dress you’ve had your eye on for a while, it can really help to just give you a bit of reassurance that you’re doing great and should believe in yourself more!

3. Exercise 

One bit of exercise everyday can make a world of difference. We all know what it’s like – trying to psych yourself up to go to the gym when all you want to do is snuggle up on the sofa. Well, even doing 10 minutes of yoga after work can help raise your mood, release endorphins and give you a sense of achievement – it’s all about little victories!

EventWell has recently launched Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses to educate people on mental health, signs and triggers of mental health issues, and the tools to be able to step in and support someone in need. Their first course was earlier this week, however they have more dates available in November and December, if this is something you feel could be valuable to you and your company.

We hope this gives you a little food for thought – take the time to stop and consider your wellbeing and mental health. It’s so easy to just brush it under the carpet and bottle everything up, so we’re strong supporters of the EventWell initiative. Remember – #ItsOKtonotbeOK!

If you’d like more of our wellbeing tips, follow us: Instagram LinkedIn Twitter

A day in the life of an #eventprof… onsite

According to the most recent survey by  CareerCast.com*, events management is the fifth most stressful profession, behind military jobs, police, firefighters and other life-death careers. Even though this is a poll of US employees, I’m sure as #eventprofs in the UK, we’ve all been able to relate to this stress at some point or other! The pressure of liaising with suppliers, clients and delivering to deadlines can definitely get on top of all of us but equally, that adrenaline rush is exactly why we love what we do! We were recently onsite for a corporate event in London, so we caught up with Project Manager, Erin, to hear all about a day in the life of an onsite event professional… 

It’s set-up day. What’s first on the to-do list?

I usually try and get up at around 5am, so I can shower and get ready for the long day ahead without feeling rushed. Once the team is all onsite, the first thing on the list is to set up our production office so we have an organised space to work from. The client is due onsite a couple of hours after us, so we ensure all the relevant suppliers have arrived and started to install, I meet with the venue representative to do a pre-client onsite run through and then hit the to-do list! Amongst the important tasks, someone always goes for a Pret run when we have a moment, to make sure we all have a good breakfast. It’s sometimes difficult to remember to eat when you’re onsite, so now’s the time for everyone to eat and get some water.

pouring water from a jug into a glass - a reminder to keep hydrated

By midday, the client has just arrived so we catch up, update them with the install process and get them some lunch! For the rest of the afternoon, I concentrate on the install. For this particular event, the AV was the largest part of the install, so most of our attention is on getting this ready for rehearsals to start in the afternoon. Later in the afternoon the CEO arrives onsite, so while the team has divided and conquered to ensure each area is on time – branding, registration, expo etc – my efforts are focused in the keynote room where the CEO has started rehearsing for tomorrow morning’s event opener.

Set-up day is coming to an end – what are your last minute checks to ensure live day goes smoothly?

Once the rehearsals are over, the client team heads offsite, so our evening is made up of snagging and fixing a few last-minute branding issues. We then grab a quick bite to eat whilst the last of the suppliers are finishing up before heading to a nearby hotel before midnight. We always try and stay as close as possible to the venue. Someone from the team checks us in during the afternoon – this way the team can head straight to bed once we’ve finished after a long day.

The view from the venue over London at the end of the day

What is your routine the night before live day?

Once back at the hotel, I usually do some stretching after being on my feet all day – I’ll have clocked up lots of steps! I then re-read all my documents and checklists to make sure I know what’s going on at every single second of the event. It’s so much easier to deal with any issues that inevitably will arise when you are fully prepared and know every detail inside and out. I’ll also take some time to write some notes of any little reminders or actions I need to do when I first get onsite in the morning. Following this, relaxation is key! You need to be able to switch off in our industry – before this event I had a relaxing bath and then got an early night.

So, how did it go? How do you unwind post event?

The event went well and the client is happy – this is the most important thing! Once it’s all wrapped up and all suppliers are offsite, myself and the team head to a nearby restaurant for a pizza and a drink. We’ll chat about how the day went, share any onsite pictures and then a summer favourite is to head home to catch up on Love Island!

What are your 3 top tips for long days onsite?

  • WATER – it’s so easy to get dehydrated onsite. It makes you feel so much more awake when drinking enough. We send reminders in the group chat or even over comms every now and again to make sure everyone is keeping hydrated.
  • Get enough sleep pre and post show – there is no way to avoid lack of sleep onsite but stocking up before definitely helps.
  • Enjoy it! The best way to get through a long day is to actually enjoy it. The lead up to an event can be so long and detailed that it’s worth taking it all in onsite and enjoying the day with the Sleek team and the client.

Events Coordinator is the 5th most stressful job in the CareerCast.com poll. How do you combat stress?

  • Lots of lists to make sure everything that can be done has been!
  • The team: having the right team and support around you is key.
  • A post-event stretch/yoga class and, of course, a glass of wine helps too!

a yoga studio - a reminder to de-stress

Working in events can mean times when the pressure is on but it’s also extremely rewarding and fun. If you’d like to work in events, keep an eye on our social media for job opportunities:

Instagram

LinkedIn

Twitter

*CareerCast.com 2019 survey can be viewed here: https://www.careercast.com/jobs-rated/2019-jobs-rated-stress

Let’s gift ourselves a Conscious Spring Cleanse!

How is your spring cleaning going? Not so well? Our resident Healing Coach, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, gives some great insight into why spring cleaning is such a great idea for your overall wellbeing.

I’ve been wondering so many times what this fuss about spring cleaning was and why everyone would just become obsessed with cleaning as soon as spring came… I clean all the time!

Let me tell you, spring cleaning is actually one of the oldest rituals that exists. It is, in many ways, linked to religious traditions. From a more scientific point of view, it is linked to the longer days and the fact that our “sleeping” pineal gland reduces its work with the increase of daylight, giving us more vitality. And on an energetic level, it is meant to welcome in to our homes and our lives the awakening energy that springs carries with it.

spring saying

Spring represents the blooming of nature, the waking up of the earth, the flying back of the birds and the blossoming of the sleeping flowers… Blooming is essentially the word that most resonates with me and I visualise it as two hands that are opening up and holding a beautiful bubble of sun. Which word would you choose to represent spring?

Now that we know that spring cleaning is not just fashionable, I can also say that the spark of clean can be repeated as often as we like. What’s important are the intentions we are putting behind our cleaning.

Your home is a representation of your mind, body and spirit and in many ways – there is a huge connection between all of these energies.

When your environment (what surrounds you) feels good, you will in return feel good and vice versa. Imagine being an advocate of calmness, meditation and harmony and living in a place that represents disorder, confusion and chaos. How much more energy do we need to put into balancing off the chaotic energy? What would it mean to have a balancing internal and external representation?

Internal and external worlds need to go hand in hand or the energy you are going to spend trying to keep the internal world calm is most likely wasted.

And surely, there are better things we can employ that energy for!

Physical Cleaning

I’m sure you have all heard about Marie Kondo. To me, she is awesome. She managed to turn something as boring as cleaning and decluttering into a game between having fun with “lego” and sparking joy.

Her motto is “whatever does not spark joy, thank it for all it has given you and let it go”.

Marie Kondo saying

How many things are you keeping that you never wear? How many things are you keeping because “you might need it one day”? How many things are you holding on to because you’re afraid that the memory will go away if you get rid of it?

Imagine it as energy: everything that surrounds us holds in itself an energy which is either dense or light. What we want to do is to only surround ourselves with light, with an energy that sparks joy and that makes us feel at peace when we look at it.

I am not implying that we all need to become queens and kings of tidiness as Marie, however I am asking you to try imagining how your life would be if your surroundings would emanate light energy and spark joy. Pretty awesome, right?

A brief summary of the konmari method

The konmari method tells us that an effective decluttering needs to be divided into categories:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Komono (miscellaneous)
  5. Kitchen
  6. Personal items (this is generally the most difficult).

Each category will be divided into subcategories and everything needs to be looked at in each subcategory. For example, you may divide your clothes in subcategories such as t-shirts, trousers, socks, etc.

The decluttering process needs to be done by seeing at a glance all the items in each category. If you are doing clothes, for example, you need to pile up ALL of the clothes you own in one space (all of it, no cheating!) and then divide them into subcategories. If you do it little by little, you would not know how much stuff you own and how to recognise what really “sparks joy”.

Some of you might find it hard to imagine how a t-shirt can spark joy… well again… you can call it joy, you can call it lightness, you can call it warmth… Don’t try to over think it. Sparking joy is a matter of seconds, you either have it or you don’t.

This way of being will also help you when buying new stuff. Sometimes we buy just for the sake of buying, however when we bring the concept of joy to our shopping, we might end up buying only things that really matter to us.

During the clothes decluttering process, you could have 3 different piles: one to keep, one pile to give to charity and one pile to sell. Whatever makes sense to you really.

You can find thousands of articles about Marie Kondo and her method, should you fancy looking into it in more detail. What I really wanted to share here was the concept of sparking joy and how to bring more joy to your homes through decluttering, cleaning and rearranging how it better serves your need for joy.

Only after everything is organised and rearranged shall you start with the common cleaning process thanking each time you get rid of “unneeded energies”.

It can be so inspiring to come home to a clean space where you know where everything is, where you feel safe and where you feel at peace and surrounded by love.

environment saying

As a short recap:

  1. Thank your home just the way it is and promise it that you will give her a sprinkle of joy!
  2. Make a mess!
  3. Categorise and subcategorise your items
  4. Choose only what sparks joy
  5. Have fun reorganising (the use of boxes and/or small transparent containers can really help the process)
  6. Common cleaning
  7. Energy cleaning
  8. Thank your home for holding the space and keep the joyous energies up!

If you are wondering if I have done the process myself or if I am just telling you something you may want to hear, please know that YES I am doing it right now and having lots of fun in the process!

To make it even more fun, don’t forget to play your favourite music while cleaning… and why not, maybe a little singing can help you stimulate your voice and clean your thoughts at the same time!

It is not only necessarily about sparking joy… having a tidy environment will:

  1. Increase productivity: when you know where everything is, you can save so much time when you are looking for it!
  2. Increase health: Removing allergens from the home can make you feel healthier, especially at a time when allergies are rife.
  3. Helps to focus: decluttering helps to make space for decision making and essential tasks.

Last but not least, I would like to introduce the concept of holding your space “comfortable” while stretching your beliefs around cleaning.

The objective of this blog is not to make you all become obsessed with cleaning – any obsession is completely out of balance. My objective is to create a balance between your internal and external world and making you feel at peace with and in your home, with what you own and with whatever surrounds you while at home.

Cleaning your outside world is a great metaphor to help you clean your internal world. We have done a lot of work on our internal world and internal representations, so it is time your environment keeps up with it!

With light and love,

Francesca

PS: Energetic Cleaning – If you are into energetic cleaning, you can add smudging, crystals and essential oils to the clearing process. Let us know if you are interested and I can make a short add-on for you on this topic!

Celebrating who you are

Celebrate who you are being right now

Celebrate who you want to be

Celebrate your dreams

Celebrate your vulnerability

Celebrate success

Celebrate your truth

Celebrate those you look up to and model them

Celebrate the magnificent power you have within you

Celebrate the communities

Celebrate the fact that we are all here to support each other, no matter what

Celebrate knowing that all the strengths you need are already within you.

In the aftermath of International Women’s Day, we wanted to celebrate everyone in our latest wellbeing blog. Written by our resident Healing Coach, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, there is a special power to celebrating who you are…

2019 is a very special year in terms of energy and the healing that this energy can provide us. It is said to be a year of evolution, with a very strong power coming in to help us move towards a higher state of consciousness.

Let’s use this energy to increase our awareness about everything we can be for ourselves and everything we can be for other people. I cannot insist enough on the importance of contribution. There is always someone that can benefit from your help and your love. How much more awesome would it be if our change can also impact the person next to us? What if our experience and our sharing of that experience could impact someone’s life in a way you cannot even imagine?

Any impact that has been made on bigger scales, has always started in small communities. Become an advocate of your energy, your power, your truth and your acceptance.

Celebrating your feminine energy (I promise this section is not just for women!)

Feminine energy is curvy while masculine energy is about straight lines. Would you agree with me that always walking in straight lines might be a bit boring? And that being on a constant roller coaster might be draining after a while? Balance. Walk a line, make a curve, turn right, go straight, repeat. You can also include a pirouette once in a while, they’re quite fun!

  • Feminine energy is creative, masculine energy is controlling.
  • Feminine energy it is intuitive, masculine energy is logical.
  • Feminine energy is collaborative, masculine energy is competitive.
  • Feminine energy is about the journey, masculine energy is about the results.
  • Feminine energy is emotional, masculine energy is protective.

We all have feminine and masculine energy within us. To be sustainable and functional, we need both of them to be perfectly balanced. Can you see why it is so important to welcome both into your life? Eastern medicine calls it the Yin and the Yang, Hindu culture calls it the Linga and the Yoni, we could call it the moon and the sun, the ocean and the sand, the sky and the stars.

Masculine energies are primarily about doing, while feminine energies speak to being. The key is to understand when each serves us and to be able to identify if we’re out of balance and how to get back in alignment.

Life is not about who is more powerful, who is winning, who is strongest, who is better, who has the best life, who has the best idea… Life doesn’t have to be a constant competition, life doesn’t have to be a constant power battle.

As women, we’re taught to be more like men in order to be successful, we need to be strong, we need to be independent and do it all ourselves. I’m wondering, how can this be functional? How can it be functional to override our feminine energy full of curves in order to become a straight line in disguise? Do you think the curve is happy? Do you think it can express all it has to express or do you think it is more frustrated and would like to burst into a swirly confetti?

Balance. Accept that both energies have equal rights to live within you. Drop the conditioning of how things are supposed to be, drop all you have been taught. There is no better, there is no worse. There is just the road to balance.

Here are a couple of hints on how to celebrate your feminine energy. If you are a man and reading this blog, I trust you are honoring your feminine energy as much as your masculine. And why not go as far as starting to celebrate the feminine energy within you as you add in more curves into your straight lines, as you add in creativity, intuition and sit with your emotions while you experience the journey?

  1. Be in nature. Nature is life-force energy and is, at its core, the strongest representation of feminine energy. It’s the strongest representation of constant movement, infinite contribution and magnificent power. What can you learn from it?
  2. Express your creativity. Curves need to move and they need a way to express their flow. What can you do today that would allow your creative side to be able to show up?
  3. Sit with your emotions. Yeah, I know, it’s hard. It’s so much easier to push them away. There is no perfect way to do it, just do it. Whatever you resist, persist. Whatever you embrace, dissolves.
  4. Value spontaneity and play. Just have fun. Play, restore your factory settings and allow your inner child to play free and joyful. What can you do today to have fun with your inner child?
  5. What can you wear today that will allow your feminine energy to feel empowered, flowy and joyful?
  6. Celebrate the road ahead. Whatever the journey is, celebrate it. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
  7. Give voice to the voiceless. Contribute, Educate, Share, Influence every single day, Serve the Energy of Your Soul, Be Your Own Leader, Take Action.

How are you going to use your magnificent power today? How are you going to use your personality to serve the purpose of your soul?

With love,

Francesca

PS: I would like to make one very important note as I believe too many people misunderstand this concept: feminine energy and sexual energy are two completely different. Men and women shouldn’t be afraid to embrace traits that have been pigeon-holed into a male or female category.

Day in the Life of an #eventprof … a Project Manager tells all

This month we are entering into the world of one of our wonderful project managers, Claire Riddell. Claire joined us in June last year and has made huge strides in the company, working on corporate and private clients. We asked what a typical day looked like for her in the exciting, yet busy, world of events!

My alarm wakes me up at 6:30am everyday. I like to take 5 minutes to wake up and often find myself thinking about what I need to do to achieve my goals for the day. I have a shower, do my makeup and then leave the house at 7:30am to catch the train. On my way to work I like to catch up on the news, but it’s also a good time to get stuck into a new book or a podcast! At the moment, I’m reading “Everything I know about parties, dates, friends, jobs, life, love” by Dolly Alderton.

Once I get to the office at 8.45am, I catch up on emails while having my breakfast and chat with the girls to see how everyone is. Breakfast is a much-needed coffee and some porridge with fruit, which sets me up for the day. Around 10am, we usually have a team meeting to discuss a pitch for a client or a status update on any upcoming events we are managing. With the telephone constantly ringing and the ever-changing events industry, my day doesn’t always go to plan, but this is what makes no two days the same and keeps me on my toes.

Next, I have several catch-up calls with clients and suppliers, to touch base and update them with progress and details. Other typical tasks include researching and sourcing venues if we have a new brief, managing budgets and nailing down the finer details of an event to ensure our client is the happiest they can be.

I do always try to make time for a decent break at lunchtime. I like to walk into Richmond and grab something healthy – my favourite lunch in this cold weather is a nice warming soup. After lunch, the day always seems to fly by so, to make sure my days are as productive as possible, I spend half an hour at the end of each day planning and writing a ‘to do’ list for the next day.

My job also involves attending networking events once or twice a week, which helps to keep me up to date on event trends and meeting other #eventprofs. Sharing experiences and learning from others is something which I value very highly, and it’s also a good excuse for a drink or two! If I’m not going to a networking event or meeting up with friends, I often spend my evening keeping myself fit – a spin class is a favourite. After the gym it’s time to wind down by watching a documentary with my flatmate, making some dinner (salmon and roasted veg – yum!) and enjoying a glass of red wine.

Working at Sleek Events has been amazing so far – the people, the office and the clients really make it such an exciting and rewarding way to spend my days. No two days are ever the same in the world of events, which is something I really enjoy and keeps me on the look-out for the next challenge!

I am me: the next in the series of our wellbeing blogs

We’ve really enjoyed sharing the wellbeing advice from resident Healing Coach, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, over the last few months. But this latest blog is a particular favourite for the Sleek Events dream team. Learning to celebrate your self and each other makes for so much of a happier life, so we hope you’ll enjoy Francesca’s latest blog as much as we do…

I am me.

In all the world, there is no one exactly like me.

There are persons who have some parts like me,
but no one adds up exactly like me.

Therefore, everything that comes out of me
is authentically mine because I alone choose it.

I own everything about me
My body including everything it does;
My mind including all its thoughts and ideas;
My eyes including the images of all they behold;
My feelings whatever they may be…
anger, joy, frustration, love, disappointment, excitement
My Mouth and all the words that come out of it
polite, sweet or rough, correct or incorrect;
My Voice loud or soft.
And all my actions, whether they be to others or to myself.

I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears.
I own all my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes.

Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me.
By doing so I can love me and be friendly with me in all parts.
I can then make it possible for all of me to work in my best interests.

I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me,
and other aspects that I do not know.
But as long as I am friendly and loving to myself,
I can courageously and hopefully, look for solutions to the puzzles
and for ways to find out more about me.

However I look and sound, whatever I say and do,

And whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is me.
This is authentic and represents where I am in that moment in time.
When I review later how I looked and sounded, what I said and did,

And how I thought and felt, some parts may turn out to be unfitting.

I can discard that which is unfitting,

And keep that which proved fitting,
And invent something new for that which I discarded.

I can see, hear, feel, think, say and do.
I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive,
and to make sense and order out of the world of people
and things outside of me.
I own me, and therefore I can engineer me. 

I am me and I am okay.

Poem by Virginia Satir

 

I wanted to start this month’s post with this poem as a celebration of our selves, as a celebration of who we are, truly, intrinsically and deeply.

You are OK, just the way you are. You are beautiful just the way you are. It is OK to love you just the way you are.

Lately, I have met quite a few people who have expressed feelings of wanting to be different than who they are or how they believe to be. “I should be fitter”, “I should be stronger”, “I should be braver”, “I should be this” and “I should be that”.

In this precise moment, if there were no ‘shoulds’ – Who would you be? How would you be? What would you be? Would you accept you as you just the way you are? With all the amazingness, with all the wrongness, with all the fears, with all the blockages, with all the dreams, with all the happiness and with all the sadness?

Have you ever thought to give yourself a break from shoulds? And the main question I would like to ask you: are all these shoulds yours or someone else’s?

I would like to challenge you for this month of February to give you the freedom to just be. To share your emotions, to seek validation, to validate others, to bring on compassion for yourself and for others, to be grateful for the journey, to be grateful for the person you are and for the person you are going to become through this journey, to show your truth rather than showing what people are expecting of you.  What beliefs are you still carrying with you from when you were a child? What are you holding on to that you are not ready to share? Who has imposed your standards? Who has made you believe that to fit in to have to suppress a part or parts of you?

Let’s make space to just be who we really are. Let’s give a chance to our inner child to be heard, to be validated, to know that it is safe to be who we are.

It is only through being authentic that we can find out who we truly are and how to get there. It is only by getting rid of unneeded resources that we can make space for new ones. It is only by validating what our inner child wants to tell us that we can find out what it is really feeling. It is only by validating and thanking our ego that we can choose differently.

Suppressing is not the way to freedom. Shine the light on your shadows and the light will set you free. Give yourself permission to be who you are right now and know that you have the choice to be a continuously evolved version of you.

We don’t have to buy into the standards, we do not have to buy into all the social media race to be perfect, we don’t have to buy into the struggle to fit in.

The freedom we are so longing for, might just as well be the simple freedom to just ‘be’. The freedom to see what is there to see, to hear what is there to hear, to feel what is there to feel, to say what is there to say, to ask what is there to ask and to step into the unknown territory of being, and dropping the security of the egoic shoulds.

For the next few weeks try these very simple steps in your everyday life:

  1. See and hear things like you saw or heard them for the first time. Allow yourself to see and hear things just as they are, not how you have learned to see or hear them. Give it a different meaning, your own personal meaning, in your own personal story.
  2. Feel and own what you are feeling, exactly as you are feeling them and not as you should feel them or as you have been taught to feel them. Give the feeling the chance to exist, give them a chance to tell their story.
  3. Think and own what you are thinking. Drop the need to be in control. Give the thought a chance to exist, talk to your thought, and then decide whether you choose to keep it or whether you choose to change it. Is the thought limiting or expanding? Is it light or heavy? What’s the feeling underneath it? Repeat the process.
  4. Give yourself permission to express your opinion, to express your needs, to tell your story, to try something new, to wear red, to sing in the shower, to say hello to a stranger, to smile for no reason, to cry for no reason. When the expression of self is done naturally, it will also be perceived naturally.
  5. Question and challenge the standards, the tribal assumption, the social media shining on society, the beliefs you no longer believe but you are holding on to anyway. Be true to yourself and only believe what feels expansive, growing and light.
  6. Take risks, step out of your comfort zone, do a small thing every day that will challenge your ego-based fears, talk to your fears, question them, what’s beneath it?
  7. Tell yourself every day that you are OK just the way you are and in your journey of evolution. You might change your mind and choose differently because this quest is yours and you have the freedom to choose differently as that choice is expanding and evolving.

When you allow yourself the freedom to just be, you come back home to yourself.

Where else would you rather be?

With love and light,

Francesca

 

When did we stop communicating?

In this month’s blog our resident Healing Coach, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, gives us an insight into why we have communication barriers and how to overcome them…

One of the things I have always believed is that problems arise because somewhere along the line, we have committed to being afraid of genuinely communicating. And believe me, coming from a “everything is always fine” master, I have found great tricks to keep myself away from talking.

When I started my healing journey, I magically discovered that communicating was a great healing tool on its own. That’s when I started exploring the mechanisms behind communication and, in most cases, non communication…

Living with kids has taught me a great deal of things. One of the most important is how much fear we place in telling the truth and how that fear transforms itself into silence and, even worse, into lies. Studies have shown that kids generally start lying to either avoid getting in trouble or to get more attention. Whatever the reason may be, we start avoiding true communication from an early age and we bring it on with us throughout the rest of our lives, in different forms and with different techniques.

I’m sure we can all relate to a little kid that has done something wrong and, to cover it up, they invent a great story that becomes a white lie. The reasons behind the white lie may be:

  1. 1. I do not want mummy or daddy to scream at me
  2. I don’t want to be punished
  3. I always do something wrong
  4. I don’t want to feel shame for what I did…

and we could go on and on to find different reasons behind the little cover-up lies.

You see, kids do not necessarily see the distinction between reality and fiction, which makes them accomplices in their own lies and their own stories.

Why am I talking about this, you may ask? Well, because I believe that’s exactly when we start to create beliefs and habits that, in turn, create blocks to our communication. You see, if a kid starts believing it’s easier to tell a lie or shut up rather than tell the truth – because the reaction to the truth brings on pain, anger or shame – what kind of belief do you think they continue with as teen or adult?

Failing to truthfully communicate is the number one reason for relationship endings, work frustrations and it can go as far as being the root of disagreements in everyday life.

Do you always say what you mean?

Do you know how to truly listen to the person in front of you or are you just concentrating on what to say next?

What are the chances you’re letting your map of the world misinterpret the words of the other person?

What would it take to let your guard down and be ok to say what’s truly on your heart?

With no anger, no sadness, no frustration…  just calmness… you are allowing yourself to be you and when you do that there is no need to fight, no need for expectations, no need for arrogance. Just the need to be in that space you have just created by destroying the walls you have once raised to protect you.

1. Learn to listen

Have you ever realised how much time we spend trying to figure out the answer we need to give even before the other person has finished talking?

That diversion from listening to thinking, how much do you think decreased your information intake? Did you really listen to everything the person in front of you said? Did you concentrate on the tone of the voice or on the words? How was the non-verbal communication? Did you even pay attention to that? You see, communication is not only words. It can be so much more than that, if you let it. Be an active listener, look the person in the eyes, stop whatever you’re doing and commit your full attention to the conversation, pause your thoughts and pause your need to answer, prevail, justify and judge. Hold the space for the other person and just be present.

2. Speak the truth

Do you say what you want to say or do you say what the other person wants to hear? Do you pick a fight because it’s easier than expressing what’s truly on your heart? Do you just shut up and play the “I’m ok” game? What would you say that you’re not saying? How would you say it? How would you like to hear it? What do you need to say that is weighing on your shoulders?

The truth is, we can never anticipate another person’s reaction. But the more we get to know ourselves, the more we can improve the way we act and react. When we speak from the heart, whether it’s a frustration, a dream, a fear, an issue, an advice… we speak from a place of love and most importantly we speak the truth. By speaking the truth you first of all respect yourself and secondly, you respect the other person. What do you need to speak about? Boundaries? Emotions? Feelings? Your needs? Frustrations? New ideas? Competences?  Whatever it is, as long as it’s said from the heart, holding the space from a place of love and respect to the other person. And even when the other person sends you hatred, respond with love because, if you really think about it, isn’t love the only thing we all go searching for? Infinitely.

3. We are not mind readers!

Ok, ok, sometimes we like to think we are!  However, in general, people don’t know what’s on our minds and we can’t pretend that our best friend, boyfriend, partner, boss gets how we feel because of a great power that allows them to read us in an instant and know exactly how to react to keep us happy! Most relationships fail because we fail to communicate our needs. We want the other person to understand what we need but, of course, without saying telling them. We are unhappy at work, a friend has hurt us, we really need a hug… but do we actually say it? What would it take you to ask? What would it cost to just say it?

The work we’re doing here is to let go of all the barriers we have built, of all the limiting beliefs we are holding on to and of anything we have read, heard, learned and that does not belong to us anymore. That’s the first big conversation to have: the one with the self. The ones with others then follow more naturally.

Communication means connection. Connection with self, connection with others. Talking, expressing and communicating openly and truly will not only release you of useless frustrations but also improve relationships, friendships, work atmosphere and help you solve most problems.

Have fun expressing, expanding, exploring, evolving.

With love,

Francesca

 

posibilities saying

Infinity thinking – a world of possibilities

In this month’s blog our resident Healing Coach, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, guides us how to begin our own journey to a world of infinite possibilities.

What are you choosing to see? What are you choosing to hear? What are you choosing to commit to?

“The map is not the territory” has been one of my favourite subjects since I’ve started my new journey and it’s been a true eye-opening tool that can, if I let it, completely change the perspective of a situation, of a person, of a judgment and of life in general. This simple phrase means nothing more than it is the way we choose to interpret a certain set of information. The way is given by our map of the world… by the way our mind has been constructed, by our education, our teachers, our care givers, our friends, our enemies, by hurt and by joy.

Our maps are created little by little through our experiences and through our perception of our experiences. Whatever we experience becomes a meaning and by whatever meaning we choose to give it, becomes a piece of the world puzzle we construct in our minds. We interpret everything we experience through the pieces of the puzzle we have constructed and this puzzle determines how we think, act and react.

Possibility thinking

Do we ever doubt the accuracy of our maps? How could we? Most of us do not even know that we have our own unique map of the world!

To make it very simple this is how it works… an ACTION brings a REACTION. That reaction (thought, act, judgment, fear, doubt, anger, etc) is personal and unique to each of us and is dependent on our map of the world. This explains how a same action, can be seen in different ways by different people and when someone disagrees with what we see, as a reaction we may think that they are weird or unreasonable.

For most of us, our map of the world becomes the ONLY truth and we tend to protect it like it is the most important thing in the world… just as the Little Prince (by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) was protecting his rose. When conflicting opinions surround us, it can become a cause for extreme anxiety, anger and controlling behaviour.

The map of the world is what constructs our basic mind-set, where an action causes a reaction. Full stop.

What if I told you that by asking a simple question before you decide to give in to your reaction, you could change the whole perspective of what is happening to you?

What if by exploring “What else is possible?” you could shift to an infinite world of possibilities?

What if I told you that within our straight forward reaction are all of our limiting beliefs, fears, doubts, worries, anxieties and insecurities?

What if I told you that as soon as you can get your mind out of the picture, you can get to the energy of a situation and clear the limitations and barriers that keep you from expanding into a world infinite possibilities?

thomas edison possibilities quote

My journey into coaching has taught me to ask these questions:

  • What else is possible here?
  • How can I be more aware here?
  • How many more possibilities are there?
  • What else can I choose that I have not chosen yet?

When you ask yourself the first question, you choose something else than what your mind is suggesting you choose. When you try to look beyond what is, you can see a whole new world of what isn’t and what isn’t yet, can simply become a new perspective.

This is how you shift to infinity thinking. You move from a straight line into a world of beautiful, colourful curves.

Let’s take a very simple example. Action: someone upsets you. Reaction: you get really upset, sad and decide to stop talking to that person.

There. Straight line. One action brings one reaction.

healing is not linear

Let’s move towards these beautiful and colourful curves… Action: someone upsets you. Reaction: What else is possible here? Maybe he/she was hurt? Do you know that hurt people, hurt other people? What is my responsibility here? What else can I choose?

Have you dropped your judgments and your points of view yet?

The trees don’t say, “I’m not going to give you any oranges because you’re a jerk.” They say, “Okay, you’re a jerk. Here are some oranges. Maybe these will help you out.”

Gary Douglas, Access Consciousness (www.AccessConsciousness.com)

Become your own inspiration for a different reality. A new world is created one step at a time. One different decision at a time. You are the only person who can get over your own limitations and open up to a world where the word POSSIBLE becomes possible.

To end this blog, I would like to share with you of my favourite questions from Access Consciousness, that may, if you let it, open up space and allow you to continuously create something new:

What would you have to acknowledge about you, that you’ve never acknowledged about you that if you did, would give you the ability to commit to your own life and create infinite possibilities? Everything that is times a godzillion, will you destroy and uncreate it all?

With love and light,

Francesca

departures board

The roaming life of #eventprofs

This month, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, shares her experience of how to cope with the travelling life of the #eventprof. Not only cope, but actually enjoy it!

When I tell people I’m an events planner, most of the times I get the so-called WOW effect, “OMG, you lead such a glamourous life!”

Honestly, I can’t deny that sometimes I replay some of the stories in my head and I can even be ‘jealous’ of the awesome experiences I’ve lived. I’m so grateful for all the places I’ve visited, the amazing people I’ve met and the crazy stories I’m now able to tell.

One big truth, however, is that we lead a pretty unstable, stressful and unbalanced lifestyle. We work outrageous hours and are often away from home for long periods of time… any idea on how to cope with that??

  1. Plan your balance

This may sound weird, I know. At work, we plan and plan and plan for everything to go perfectly smoothly – we have to do lists, run-throughs, roadmaps, memos, lists and more lists of who does what, when and where. When it comes to planning our own time, however, we immediately become reticent and start feeling guilty of taking the time for us rather than be fully immersed in the job.

Remember, there is a time for everything and YOU are the sacred space for all the awesome planning and amazing organising. If you don’t take care of that sacred space (your body, mind, soul and spirit) the castle you are building will have foundations made of thin air and it may collapse at any moment.

Whether you are home or away, plan some time for you. You can pick amongst some of your favourite activities:

  • morning stretching, a phone call to your BFF/partner/son/daughter/ parent
  • a short meditation
  • a breathing exercise
  • reading two pages of your latest book
  • 10 minutes in the sauna.

OK, I get it, this won’t be possible ALL the time but… THIS IS YOUR TIME… Ideally try to have some YOU time at least twice a day!

  1. Plan your food

Travelling can be quite hard on the diet! Hotel breakfasts, restaurants, pastries, sodas, coffees, etc. I totally get that (a) when we are tired we just want comfort food, (b) that sometimes we just do not have the choice and (c) that sometimes a green smoothie just doesn’t do it!

healthy lunch box

Prepare yourself a healthy lunchbox to keep your energy up

Planning your food intake does not need to become an extra stress added to your day. It needs to be fun, joyful and put a smile on your face. If you manage to be reasonable 75% of the time, you are on the right track and surely you know some tricks to keep you going. Try carrying a banana with you, drinking lots of water and herbal teas, possibly trying not to eat too late for dinner, have healthy snacks hidden in your bag and, the most important sustenance of all, laugh at least twice a day!

  1. Pack smart

Packing has become one of my favourite activities! I love to challenge myself to play Tetris, packing as much into my suitcase as humanly possible. Learning how to combine outfits with minimum mixing and maximum matching whilst still looking professional and feeling comfortable is a talent I’ve learned over the years.

Please know that I used to be the worst packer ever! Every trip was an overweight charge, a crazy amount of clothes and yet I felt like I had nothing to wear! The trick is to have in your wardrobe things that you love wearing and mixing basics like jeans with elegant, understated chic items. Don’t worry f you don’t change your shoes every day… no one will notice!

Conscious packing will help you save time, it will make you feel comfortable with what you are wearing every day and it will make you enjoy traveling light!

  1. Making memories

Memories to be grateful for are food for the soul and yet sometimes we forget about making them. We’re so busy and often surrounded by stress, we forget we’re also here to make memories. Who said work had to be tough and unpleasant? Work is such a huge part of our lives, we’d be left with very little time to enjoy if we didn’t have fun at work. Each event, each person you work with or meet, each special dish you savour, each crazy thing you need to do to save the event, can magically become a memory to be grateful for.

Making memories: some of the Sleek Events team taking a boat trip in Stockholm after an event

That is, of course, if you allow gratitude to come in and let go of whatever is not needed.

  1. Sharing

A very usual comment I get in the event business is a frustration of thinking that nobody understands the pressure we are under and that nobody appreciates how much we actually work. Honestly, even if that was true, what’s the benefit of thinking that way?

Are you looking for validation? Is showing off the amount of work we have an excuse to say that we don’t have time for anything else?

What if we could drop that thought and explore different possibilities? What if we started talking to our partner/kids/friends and explain how our days go? When we’re away from home, wouldn’t you love to have someone supporting you? To have someone that not only understands what you do, but actually becomes your partner in crime, knows that you are OK and that you love sharing your life? Wouldn’t you be happy to know your loved ones are happy for you?

Bottom line is… the more you align to your values, the more you’ll be able to enjoy the little things. Fill your life with people who can back you up, with no judgment, just listening and knowing we’re here for one another.

With love and light,

Francesca xo