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This Month’s French Vignette
In celebration of Random Acts of Kindness week this month (13-20 February), I include this extract from my next book, Ever wanted to live in the south of France? due for publication in the spring. Or maybe in the summer.)
It was one of those mornings. As she flung herself down the staircase to the Paris métro, Amélie reflected on how exhausted she felt. She can barely remember a time when she had not felt tired every single moment of the day.
The baby was teething and had kept them awake all night. Amélie was worried that the baby might have caught a cold. She had just had a roaring fight with Léon, about who should take the baby to the doctor. Both of them constantly tired, these arguments seem to flare up more and more frequently.
She desperately needed some time off, they both did. Both their jobs were demanding, neither dared take a day off. Amélie yearned to escape, even if just for a few blissfully unaware minutes.
She stepped on the train and against all odds, found a seat. A book was lying on the seat, seemingly discarded. Amélie looked around to see if anyone would claim the book, but no one met her eyes. She sat down with a sigh. She looked at the book. Not her sort of thing at all. Some senseless romance with a bare-chested alpha male and some simpering girl on the front cover. Absentmindedly, she looked inside. On the first page, there was a hand-written note. “I hope that whoever finds this book, enjoys it as much as I did.” Looked like someone was leaving books on the métro for others to find. What a silly idea, Amélie thought.
Too tired to do anything useful, Amélie started reading the book. Immediately, she was lost in a world full of drop-dead gorgeous pirates and willful heroines obsessed with saving their family’s honour. Amélie forgot all about the baby. About Léon and the argument. About work. The next fifteen minutes she was oblivious of her surroundings and only just managed to jump off the métro in time at her stop.
A different Amélie raced up the stairs out of the métro, clutching her book possessively. There was a twinkle in her eye and a faint smile on her lips. Fifteen minutes of pure escapism and she felt like a new woman. The feeling might only last till lunchtime, but that did not bother Amélie. At lunchtime, she will read a few more chapters.
Whoever left that book made Amélie’s day. Maybe it is not such a bad idea to leave books in the métro. Amélie knew where she was going to leave this one when she had finished with it. And a few more besides.
This month’s Mpowering Quote:
“There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.” -Nathaniel Branden
My mission is to help people manage stress more effectively and so avoid the substantial damage that stress can do to their physical, social and psychological health. I also help people to increase their self-esteem, because the more confident we are, the better we handle stress. I do this by leading stress management workshops and by writing stress-reducing and confidence-boosting books. My ultimate objective is that my clients will not only more confident and better able to cope with stress, but that they will be inspired to commit random acts of kindness, as the quote above suggests.
Of the 4 workshops we are hosting this year, one has already been fully booked: The June workshop. The dates of the other 3 are:
- 22-27 July
- 19-24 August
- 23-28 September
You can attend 3/5/7 days, on your own, or with a non-participating partner.
Taming Your Inner Critic
On Saturday afternoon, everything went wrong, just as I knew it would. I have been preparing for this interview for weeks. I had everything ready, including a brand-new headset with a built-in microphone that had not been cheap, exactly. One hour before we were due to go live, my internet connection failed.
I did everything I could think of, everything that had worked in the past. I rebooted the modem. I rebooted the computer. I close all other windows in my browser. Nothing worked. What was most annoying, was that my laptop insisted that it was still connected to the internet. I hate it when this happens. All was not lost, though, because they had given me a number to ring somewhere in America. Except that I couldn’t get to my e-mails to look for the number.
My inner critic had been warning me that this would happen ever since I agreed to do this, my first ever author interview. I have done a couple of book signings now, so I do have some experience of talking to my readers. A live interview was a much more intimidating challenge. My inner critic warned me that I would no doubt make a complete fool of myself. To get her under control, I listened to “A Basic Meditation to Tame Your Inner Critic“ by Mark Bertin. If your inner critic is giving you grief too, try doing this exercise.
I reminded myself that mindfulness can help me cope with this crisis. Practising mindfulness, even for just a few weeks, can bring a variety of physical, psychological, and social benefits. I have been practising mindfulness for years. I have even written a book about it and I host 4 mindfulness and meditation workshops every single year. I have got this.
I stayed in the moment. I did not engage with my thoughts of impending disaster. I did not get hysterical. I reviewed my options. There was enough time left to go to a friend’s house and do the interview there. All was not lost. I rang a friend and arranged to do the interview there. Before I packed everything into the car, I tried rebooting my laptop again. It worked. I rudely ignored my inner critic who pointed out that the connection could fail again at any time. I did the interview. None of my worse case scenarios realised. Against all my inner critic’s expectations, I ended up enjoying myself a great deal.
If you are not entirely convinced of the effectiveness of mindfulness, you can read more about the Science of Staying Present Through Difficult Times here.
Your inner critic can make your life a misery. Do not despair, because you CAN control your inner critic. You can find out how to tame your Inner Critic here.
Other Regular Monthly Features
Mpowering Free Downloads of the Month:
This offer “Fiction for Smart Women” includes 12 free e-books – do not delay to claim yours, some of them are only available until today!
This offer has now expired.
Whenever I write a new book -there are 2 in the pipeline at the moment: Ever wanted to Live in the South of France? and Secure Your Promising, Purposeful and Prosperous Future – I ask members of my VIP Readers group to read the book before publication. I provide them with a free copy and they let me know what they think of the book. If you would like to join this group, please send me a short e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mpowering Meme of the Month:
This month’s best posts from my Mpower Blog:
- A Cure for Writer’s Block
- My favourite Tarte Tatin Recipe
- Step out of the shadows are Secure Your Future
- Fur coats, High heels and Diamonds – Comic Relief
Pictures from our part of the world this month:
- Twitter: @EquineguidedMD
- Facebook: Mpowering Women and Margaretha Montagu’s Workshops and Books
That’s it for this month. Next month, I will have some very interesting news for you. It’s all rather exciting. Can’t say anything more, I’ll let the cat out of the bag.
I wish you a very merry and mild month of March,
PS. As you can see, Sophie is settling in quite well.
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