I wanted to end my last podcast episode of 2021 with a boom, bang, bosh so I simply had to bring in fellow motivational speaker and author Gavin Oattes who always leaves me feeling entertained, fired up and reminded of what really matters. This is so important as we reflect and let go of the past year and go with hope into a new one. We had lots of fun and I was delighted to share this inspiring episode, which has already had some lovely feedback. Jump in here or at your favourite podcast station. You can also watch it below. A huge thanks to Upload Studios for capturing this.
I think what I loved most about this conversation was the key theme that came across so often – own who you are and keep an open mind, allowing others to own who they are too. The strapline for time for a mojo injection has always been judge less and live more but it’s so easy to get sucked in and let our critical minds take over. We need reminders and encouragement. Gav’s book Life Will See You Now, is full of amazing wee nuggets of inspiration. When our mental health isn’t great, it can be hard to think clearly and be kind to others or ourselves. Which is why we need to make our health our top priority. When life gets busy we need to get still and ask the following important and powerful questions –
What are my values and am I living my life in line with them?
What can I delegate? Perhaps you need to delegate in your home life, when caring for young kids, or perhaps unwell or older family. Or maybe you need to delegate at work.
As Gav wisely says ‘there are levels of control freak’. We can all be a control freak. When it comes to timekeeping, I go into full on ninja mode. My standards are super high, I hate being late and Hubs is well aware that when we are leaving the house together, I will nag at him to speed up because being punctual is way lower on his priority list. I also care about the little things, I enjoy beautiful scented candles and nice lighting. He often turns lights on as I dim them, and blows out my candles after I have lit them. In many ways we are so different. Whereas he gets frustrated if I leave any clothes lying around or don’t want to do the dishes straight away after we eat. Sometimes I have to beg him to let me sit and chill for 5 minutes first or he has to beg me to just relax as we are trying to leave the house in plenty of time. Every Christmas, he begs me to take the tree down by 27th December when I insist the joy must stay up until New Year. Yesterday, he actually snuck it down when I was in the back room watching a film. He was super pleased with himself. I told him he better have wrapped my glass angels and doves etc in bubble rap (he hadn’t). He rushes the tree down when I rush us out the house. Glass decorations have been broken over his stealth like moves, I like to take my time to ensure nothing is damaged or lost. Hubs likes to take his time as we leave the house in case we forget anything.
I remember a few years ago, Gav sharing an amazing quote at Chritsmas time:
‘One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.’
Every year Hubs will be sitting, waiting to shove wrapping paper into a bag and clean it up. I remember the quote and think ‘let’s embrace this magic mess’ so then he tries to clear up the morning cups when my cup of tea isn’t even finished yet. I’m like ‘please, slow down and relax’. His response ‘please speed up, we have loads to do’. Most years, he goes so fast that he ends up binning part of a toy. This year it was luigi’s moustache. I had to laugh as I took the wrapping paper bag back into the living room to empty. Then I have to frantically search through the Christmas card pile Hubs has laid aside for the bin, grabbing the cards the kids made me before they are gone forever. I’m that person with a box labeled ‘cards to cherish’. But as Gav reminds us on the podcast – we have to accept our little differences and I find that laughing at them really helps. Hubs and I often laugh about our unique control freak ways. But we also have to challenge our behaviors at times too and meet each other halfway. Compromise is key.
Something that is so important when it comes to compromise is our time. It really is the greatest gift that we have. You might feel selfish for leaving the family and going off for that run, cold water swim, walk alone, spa day, hot bath, whatever helps you to wake up that mojo, but looking after your health is actually a selfless act. When you are raising young kids with someone, I think it’s really important to compromise and ensure both of you get equal time to unwind doing something you love. I joked on the radio recently about the reason I think a lot of Dad’s I speak with love golf so much – it takes so long (many have admitted this to me). Then of course there are the golf weekends away that they must go to. I often encourage women I speak with to ‘find their golf’. That thing that nourishes and rejuvenates. For me I have a long list of things that help wake up my mojo from running, cold water immersion, exploring, music, writing and reading to time on the beach, hot baths, hot tubs, meals out with family and friends and walking in nature. Quality time with my kids is important, as is time with those I love but I also need a cave. So do you.
I absolutely loved what Gav had to say in terms of owning what you are passionate about and letting inevitable comments from others wash over us. To quote Gav:
‘I remember chatting with someone a couple of years ago who asked if I could change a plug. I said no and he replied ‘that’s a disgrace. To which I said ‘only if you want it to be a disgrace’.
Yes! I am going to use the ‘only if you want it to be line’ for years to come. There have been times in my life that I haven’t fully owned who I am or what I like because I have been afraid of being judged. I like to keep the peace. There can be so much pressure from society in terms of what we are expected to do. We can be judged for not being into DIY, for being into DIY, for being too much of a clean freak and not being present or for being too relaxed. We can be judged for setting boundaries that make us feel happy if they clash with someone else’s expectations. We are wired to judge and judge others. It takes work to judge less. This is my why for the podcast, to learn and try and be better. It gives me space to keep an open mind and it reminds me to choose kindness as much as possible. Sometimes that means self compassion and challenging or distancing yourself from toxic behavior, sometimes it means showing real empathy and not taking another person’s actions personally, remembering that mental health impacts everyone.
Then there is the ego that can get in our way, we may worry how we look running, in swimwear, what people will think of us if we do something a bit different. I have been called crazy several times for jumping into cold water but I know that, like going for a run or walk or a good massage, it’s one of the things that really helps my health. We need a list of those and we need to schedule them like our life depends on it. No matter how it may look to others. Gav says he looks like Phoebe from friends when he runs but he doesn’t give a rats ass, I love him for that.
I explain on the podcast to Gav that I was gutted to miss his book launch for Life Will See You Now. I was severely overstimulated at the time and my friend Nat kindly went and got me a copy of the book, bringing it to me in hospital. I remember reading it and then getting to chapter 6 which is called Confidently Lost. The words were so apt for me at this time as I had never felt more lost in my life. My head was scrambled, I didn’t know what was real anymore. I didn’t know who to trust. I was overwhelmed with opinions and judgements from others. My mind was running at a million miles an hour and I just couldn’t settle. Reading Gav share so generously and openly about his own mental breakdown really touched me. Whilst I was sad to read of his past struggles, to know that such a positive, creative and brilliant human could feel all that stuff too offered me a sense of safety and comfort . He shared on the podcast that he almost didn’t keep that chapter in but I am so glad he did as I am sure so many others are too. I read it again months later, with a clearer head. My own mental health scare felt like it had happened so quickly but as Gav writes in this wonderful chapter:
‘Looking back now, I can see where it all began. I can track it back. I was probably 9 – 12 months leading into it and 9 to 12 months coming out of it. If i’m being completely honest, I’ve still got a way to go’.
I asked Gav what advice he would give to himself if he could go back before he became unwell. He words were simple, as often the most poignant words are. He said:
Stop now. It’s ok to not take on as much.
Funnily enough, my Mum said that to me constantly on the lead up to my illness. As did Hubs and I am sure plenty of others in my closest circle. As I said at the start of this blog, boundaries are important. As Gav says, we need ‘no people’ in our lives to keep us grounded. My Mum and Hubs are often those people and when I felt unwell, they would try and challenge me out of love but my mind couldn’t take it. It would get so angry. With a clear head I can see now that they have this wonderful approach that I like to call ‘a little radge’. They can say no and own it. I often tell Hubs that I wish I didn’t care so much and feel so strongly. Being a yes person is one amazing ride but it can take its toll. So to quote Gav again and add to it a little:
Stop now. It’s ok to not take on as much. It’s ok to say no. It’s ok to not be everything to everyone. You are one person with limited resources. Passion is great but you can’t be ‘all in’ 100% of the time. Rest. Stop. Just be.
To Quote Life Will See You Now –
Happiness isn’t a race, there’s no chase, you can dictate the pace.
I asked Gav if he had to twerk to the same song for an hour which song he would pick. I’m not sure if he took up my twerking challenge over the festive period but his response was:
An hour?! I’d be broken by the end. But if I had to then I’d go for a tune that I could enjoy for an hour. It’s perhaps not a twerking song but I’d choose Hammer To Fall by Queen!
Then I had to talk about food. I was keen to know which 3 course meal he would cook if he were to go on Come Dine with me. I am getting hungry as I type. His response:
Starter: Chicken Wings. Main: a mountain of shellfish with garlic butter. Dessert: Baked Cheesecake
Yum! Here’s a wee fact, I actually fell out with the Come Dine with Me producers because they casted me in 2018 and 2019, told me I was 100% getting picked, spent hours of my time filming me, had me cancel speaking events and work to keep the filming week free THEN pulled out last minute both times due to location. I was so raging that I complained and got no compensation. I was not only raging but I was gutted too as it would have been a hoot. My main course was also shellfish with garlic butter! I wanted to do cheesecake but they told me too many people did it on the show so I had changed it to lemon posset with a ginger crumb (which is pretty much cheesecake upside down ha). Gav – I do love a chicken wing. My planned starter both times for the show was Chicken and mango salad with a spicy Thai dressing.
Towards the end of the podcast, I had asked Gav about his heros. Many of which are brilliant people in comedy, such as Reeves and Mortimer, and late legends such as David Bowie and Freddie Mercury who encouraged him to embrace his creative side and show up fully as you want to be. His worst dinner party guests would be Trump, Kim Kardashian and Jesus. I was nodding with the first two (that is my mind being wired to judge) but was at first struggling to get the Jesus thing because when I think of Jesus I think of the true meaning of Christmas and Easter being peace and love and all that wonderful stuff. But after chatting with Gav about embracing whoever and whatever you want to be and having no rules, I think its more of a ‘religious Jesus’ that puts him off. Gav and I spoke on the first podcast we did here about the fact we are both spiritual people. I was raised going to church but I always felt more spiritual than religious. I saw SO much good but I always felt far too free spirit to be stuck in a box with a set of rules. Surely that is a huge cause of anxiety. I was lucky in that my parents were pretty free and open minded, and listened to my questions as I got older which involved stuff like:
Why would great people who don’t believe in God go to hell?
Why would God allow bad things to happen to good people?
Why is sex before marriage so wrong?
The list went on.
My parents to this day have a beautiful and strong spiritual faith which has helped them through the hardest times and they have always encouraged me to be me. I will always be super inquisitive and open minded and I will always continue to pray. Even if I don’t have all the answers. A podcast series I absolutely loved was Oprah’s super soul conversations with Eckhart Tollie. Oprah, a mega Jesus fan made some bold statements such as:
‘Jesus didn’t come to start another religion’ and ‘I love Jesus but with 7 billion people on the planet, I believe there are other ways to find peace and experience God’. I felt that Eckhart was pure magic in unpicking and interpreting famous biblical scriptures that have been taken the wrong way and created so much pain, judgment and suffering in the world. As an atheist friend once told me:
‘The pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury have more power in our country than the chief medical officer. The individual prophets and philosophers are never the issue – it’s the admin staff’.
I always tried to take the amazing learnings from my upbringing about the power of faith, hope and love and interpret them in a way that felt kind and non judgemental. In what can feel like a judgemental and heavy world, what we need is to focus on the love and lightness. We need to seek the lightness out in our own unique and amazing way.
I will end this first blog of 2022 with a quote from Gav’s favourite Chritmas song, I believe in Father Christmas by Gregg Lake:
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish, pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
2022, let’s do this. You got this.
Gavin Oattes grew up in Troon, Scotland. Now living in Edinburgh he is Managing Director and owner of Tree of Knowledge, one of the UK’s most exciting people development organisations. Working with some of the largest brands in the world, Oattes is now regarded as one the most talented and sought after speakers, regularly delivering keynote speeches at conferences and exhibitions around the world. An award winning comedian, a best-selling children’s author and former Young Entrepreneur of the Year, his inspiration all comes from where he began his career….Primary School Teaching.
Jojo Fraser is an award-winning author, podcaster and keynote speaker, dubbed as ‘the Queen of positivity and a kindness advocate. She is a Tedx speaker and a regular contributor on BBC radio. Jojo is known for normalising discussions around our mental and spiritual health, making it accessible and relatable to all. She has quickly grown a reputation for having a huge impact even on the most sceptical of people.
Thank you. My life journey has been exciting, scary, lonely and blessed. I heard Gavin on CBC radio in my car 2 days ago. Having been born in Scotland and lived with my parents and 3 year younger brother; then moving to the new town of Eastkilbride where my 13 year younger sister was added to our family; ultimately at the age of 14 going on 15 moving to Ontario, Canada, I’ve ended up living in an indigenous community close to one of the Great Lakes known as Lake Huron. Spreading myself too thin as they say – attempting to make sure everyone is cared for – and realizing that my ego was being blown up because of certain things I was doing, was a later in life recognition. Thank-you for your (both of you) reflections and encouragement and above all real life conversations – truly inspiring. Every day I read Sister Stan, a Roman Catholic nun who was honoured by Trinity College School in Dublin for her work with homeless people – I try each day to start on the right foot and of course, sometimes I stumble, however, I always land on my feet. May God bless you both and may Jesus walk by your side every day – as he has done for me.
Thank you so much Frances and for sharing this. God bless you x