Are you ready for change?

About six years ago, I was feeling lost, stuck and wanted a new direction. How could it be that I had a successful job, a great family, a lovely husband and son, but I was no longer sure who I was anymore or what I needed to make me feel fulfilled?

I had lost my spark for life! I was plodding along and blending in, but not living my best life, as me! The soundtrack in my head was busy but not particularly positive.

I knew there was more to be had. I didn’t want to be on the side-lines anymore! I really wanted a change and an exciting new purpose but I didn’t know what I was looking for or how to get it. I wanted to grow into my own skin and to start feeling really connected and fully alive as my own best friend! I wanted to feel good and look good from the inside out, but I had to find the tools to make these ambitions a reality.

As I mulled over these desires, I decided it was time to make a change! I began to explore yoga and meditation in Absolute Yoga on Oxford Road, Crosby to see if they could help me find out who I was and what I was missing. I had to really think about what I actually wanted out of life and what did I need to do to move forward? This friendly, family run business allowed me to have stillness and to use exercise as a way to really engage change and increase positivity.

I was also excited to learn that by reframing scenarios in a positive way that I could feed my brain a positive message instead of having the negative soundtrack playing in my mind. I realised that the imagination is such a creative tool, but it can also enable you to waste time creating imaginary negative scenarios in your head that might never happen.

With my improving perspective on life, I made the decision to start running which released the serotonin and endorphins in my brain that made me feel good. I returned to that enthusiastic and curious person who wanted to experience more and enjoy life to the full. With my new running routine, I was delighted to find I was able to lose a stone in weight. I also gained a new best friend, my dog Goldie, who is an avid runner with her mixture of Labrador, Golden Retriever and Collie. All she asked in return for being my running companion was cuddles and belly rubs; I could handle both of those!

Running also opened connections to my local community and allowed me to meet so many lovely new friends. In 2018 I ran the Liverpool marathon which felt like a pivotal moment in this truly incredible journey and Crosby parkrun helped me to get there with their encouragement and infamous community spirit. The international parkrun concept was brought to Crosby by the wonderful Jan Mullin. Kirkby Milers also introduced me to long runs and to have ran my first 20-mile preparation run was a whole new realm! Superb thanks to Sean Loughran who introduced me to the team and to Chris Beyga who coordinates many of the Milers community runs. A massive shout out to Jim and Louise Hicks who also run Mooreside Running Club every Tuesday night and encourage runners of all abilities.

The game-changer for me was discovering coaching; to say it was a revelation is an understatement. From feeling in a place where I was lost, uncertain of who I was and what I wanted, my coach (George and his wife Julie Cunningham, NLP Liverpool) reminded me how to have a voice to explain what my dreams and goals were. He helped me to visualise what I wanted my future to look like. All these techniques, amongst dozens of others, allowed me to feel fully alive again!! I had developed the confidence to make exciting changes without the fear of failure.

I started to wonder about how I could use my new-found knowledge and enlightenment to help others. I started to realise just how many people felt like I had. I realised that sharing positivity and using reframing could help people to move forward quite quickly, instead of lingering in the same repetitive and negative story over and over. I then decided to train as a Life Coach (NLP) alongside my teaching role. This new set of skills allowed me to help other people find a clear direction and to have the confidence to make changes. These changes can range from stopping smoking, to changing career or losing weight. There are thousands of scenarios that NLP can aid.

I am now so happy to say I am an NLP Life Coach and am well on my way to being a Human Givens Psychotherapist. I have my own coaching business called ‘Step Forward Coaching’. My work allows me to offer people practical tools to move forward with a big emphasis on exercise and visualisation. I have become an author with several more books being written. I love what I do and feel delighted that I can help an individual to transform by enabling them to access their own innate toolkit. I work with schools and corporate settings to enable pupils and employees to have positive mental health and to equip themselves with a practical toolbox. I regularly host webinars and face to face meetings with workplaces with this message in mind.

I would love to help you blossom. I would love other people to experience what I have experienced and to realise that dreams do happen. As soon as you remove any limiting beliefs you can really allow yourself to dream big and let your light shine!!!

Pauline’s book ‘The Pocketbook of Positivity and Reframing’ is available from Amazon for £7.99.

£1 of every sale goes to Papyrus, an incredible charity who help to promote suicide awareness and who help families who have been affected by suicide. I have chosen this charity as I have taught in High Schools over the last 20 years in the North West of England and I have seen the effect of poor mental health on the lives of some of my pupils and their families. Plus being from a small village in Ireland, I have seen the huge effect of suicide and I would like to be a ‘catalyst for change’.

I would like to thank our local heroes who have generously contributed to my article. They truly value the power of exercise and they want others to experience the benefits that it brings, not only physically but mentally.

Jamie Carragher: former footballer for Liverpool and England: “The true benefits of exercise for me since I stopped playing football is the mental side more than the physical side of exercise. It gives you goals, you feel fresher & I use it as something to work around for the rest of the day. Nothing comes before the gym!

We are very lucky in Crosby having the coast to run along with the amazing views, the Iron men to run around as part of our parkrun & our leisure centres. This story from Pauline should inspire us all to get up & go!”.

Gareth Farrelly: Gareth Farrelly is an Irish former professional footballer who played for Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, and Everton in the Premier League, he also played six times for Ireland: Having transitioned from being a professional footballer to a lawyer, the only thing I miss about football is that feeling of being physically fit and training every day. It is totally different working in an office and sitting at a desk all day. The last thing you want to do when you come in from work is go back out and run but actually that is what I try and do as I know if helps me clear my head and keep me fit. I find running and still playing football helps with my mental health and deal with the challenges of life that we all face’.

Jan Mullin, the creator of Crosby parkrun. I was delighted to be given the opportunity to set up Sefton's first parkrun in Crosby! The benefits for our community are both numerous and immense. From individuals reaping the benefits of weekly exercise, being supported to battle illnesses or through life's knocks, to putting Crosby firmly on the global parkrun map as visitors have come from countries like Australia and South Africa to run Crosby parkrun, great friendships and community has grown. It is amazing to be such a small part of this”.

Sarah Pickerill, creator of Southport Strollers: As someone who suffered extreme postnatal depression, I worked really hard to incorporate exercise and positive mental health into my life. Two years ago, I set up Southport Strollers, a fully inclusive running club, where members can be any ability of runner/walker, achieving individual goals whilst supporting each other as a team and celebrating everyone’s successes. I continue to hear many happy stories from Southport Strollers members about the positive impact both on mental and physical health by being part of our running community.

Laura Hughes: In Memory of Colin McGinty: Exercise has really helped me deal with and come to terms with difficult situations that have happened in my life. I have become part of an amazing running community and that has introduced me to fabulous lifelong friends who encourage me constantly to continue to grow. I have set up a running team which started off as 4 members and has quickly grown to over 200 people, we take part in various running events across the globe and any money that we raise via taking part in these events directly funds youth anti knife crime activity. Our team has one clear vision #kNOwKnifeCrime

Chris Beyga: Fundraising and Sponsorship Officer, Kirkby Milers AC “I am a runner. I say that but think of myself more of a plodder – I run before work a couple of times a week but on Sundays join a group of friends, the Sunday Smilers, for runs/bimbles/jogs. It’s are a real social activity with much chat and laughter. This group has stemmed from my running club the Kirkby Milers, who are a wholly inclusive group and cater for all ages and abilities.

During the lockdown we couldn’t meet as a group to run but did post in our FB group to stay connected and in touch. Many in our group have said that without the group they probably wouldn’t have gone out for a run or any exercise at all, so it’s great that we have a shared and common purpose motivating us to keep going. This very real boost to each person’s mental health through such a positive way of staying in contact is at a time when it would be very easy for people to become disconnected and lonely when they are isolated at home. Within the Milers we have a group of Mental Health Ambassadors who do a great job of providing care and support to all our members’

Sean Loughran, member of Kirkby Milers: I started running a few years ago at the age of 55 (so you are never too old to start), by going along to a parkrun and it was the best decision I made. I have gone from someone who never really liked running to absolutely loving it. I can be having a rough day in work or feeling a bit lethargic and if I go out for a run, it doesn’t matter if it’s 20 mins or an hour, I always come back feeling better and more positive. I can honestly say, I have never regretted a run.

Since I started, 3 years ago, I have done over 100 parkruns (5K), numerous 10k’s, half marathons and a full marathon and joined a running club, Kirkby Milers. I have made loads of new friends and met some great people who are always there to support and encourage you.

My only regret was that I never discovered running earlier.

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