by Mel Blackwood
This time last year, I was deep in writing a blog post every day. Finding the time to do this was definitely a challenge, but like starting anything new, it got easier as it became habitual. It is also easy to drop the habit and forget how much you enjoyed it! Does this sound like your roller skate journey? We've seen a lot of people start skating, life to deliver a curveball and they're been forced to take a break, only to forget to prioritise themselves.
James Clear talks about habit stacking in his popular book 'Atomic Habits' - a process where you take something you are already doing and add (or stack) another thing to this. Our brains like the familiar things - we do things without even being aware they are happening much of the time. There have certainly been times that I have been driving a familiar road and need to take a different turn, only to find I was on autopilot and missed the exit! The turn I needed was simply unfamiliar, so required more energy to concentrate. I felt this is relevant to mention, as it is so easy to get OUT of the habit and revert to old patterns. In your journey, you may need to take a new route, but the old route remains there.
In the year since, I have undertaken a whole lot of learning and unlearning.
To support my roller skate skills and creativity, I've attended two weekend seminars hosted by Es Quint foundation Brian, Linda and Mariska. I have a huge amount of respect for the quiet diligence Brian has in creating his programmes and aspire to this level of competence. We are delighted to be hosting these excellent teachers in Leeds in February. I've also attended dance classes regularly and had opportunities to be part of the Leeds West Indian Carnival troupe with Valentina's collective and will also be performing at the Dance Studio Leeds showcase at the end of this month. Finally, I completed a 12-week programme with a personal trainer to combat my ongoing back issue and I'm delighted to report that I'm now much stronger and the pain has gone! To anyone struggling with invisible illnesses, such as chronic pain, I would highly recommend seeing if a strength training programme can help you.
Business wise, I completed the executive business course Help to Grow Management at Leeds Beckett University, the Fund Her North Investor readiness course and the #WECAN Coach Level 3 qualification with Leeds Beckett University. I've found that as I explore more learning, the less I know! Doesn't that sound strange? I've become aware of all the things that I don't know.
Through the networking events, more opportunities have presented themselves - in fact so many, that I had to be very picky about where I wanted to spend my time! I chose to connect with ProspHER, an uplifting business community founded founded to support women with their passion, purpose and power. I'll be hosting the ProspHER Leeds festival at the end of January in the Corn Exchange and I cannot wait! Find out more here.
All this learning has required time to process, reflect and all importantly, apply to my life and business. Part of the strength training programme I did involved walking. A lot of walking. My personal trainer wanted me to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps a day "But ideally Mel, 12.5K steps a day. " Haha! I thought, no problem! When I started to track my steps though, I was horrified to learn that I didn't even walk 5,000 steps a day! And roller skated steps didn't track at all, as the movement was different! I'd invested into the time and programme with the PT though, so I was not about to give up. I found myself parking a bit further away from places I needed to get to, and walking the last bit. Going for a walk in the evenings. Suggesting to friends that we meet for a walk rather than a coffee at their house. I smashed the 10,000 steps after a couple of weeks and then began increasing the daily step count. I got to 15,000 steps a day and felt fantastic. Maybe I looked like a weirdo dancing along the paths in North Leeds, but honestly I didn't care. Soon I was close to 20,000 steps a day, so I made it my new goal. I have averaged 20,000 steps a day for a month now (some days were closer to 30,000 and one or two I allowed myself to sit and watch a film!) The mental space that walking has created has allowed me to do some deep thinking and solve many issues or simply work out emotions that I was struggling with. Feelings are called 'feelings' because they are held and felt in the body. We *must* release these through movement. That is why there is such a strong link through exercise and mental wellness. If you've heard the phrases 'Roll for your soul' or 'Meditation in Motion' it's because roller skaters realise you reach a transcendental state when you have the magical ingredients of the right people, space and music.
I do also have a business mentor and a brilliant team of people who provide peer support and questions for reflection. Journaling continues to come up as an important tool for reflection, so this will be the thing that I look to include in my daily habit stacking practise - I haven't yet found the right trigger to tack it on to, but I am confident I'll get there.
Things I have learned this year:
I have held onto SO MANY limiting beliefs that I wonder how I ever managed to get a business off the ground!
Although we are experiencing a continued cost of living crisis, I have remained as positive as ever this year. I attribute this to choosing to prioritise myself, as I have navigated a ridiculous number of both business and personal challenges this year. If you want to see me shudder, just ask about the VAT.
Success is a feeling. I'm really proud of our little shop winning the Modern Retail Award and I'm a finalist for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards!
I've reached and positively influenced people that I've never met or connected with.
Self care is essential and I WILL NOT compromise on this ever again.
I will be launching a 6-week online coaching programme very soon. I'm very excited to support people who are not able to access Roller Girl Gang's in-person coaching in Leeds. This programme will encompass everything I have learned about roller skating, both through my own experience of learning and the feedback I have gained from supporting and teaching the thousands of folks who have chosen to learn with us over the years. We will delve into the emotional journey of roller skating that people experience, to equip you with the tools needed to better navigate the ups and downs - so you can roll through the challenging times - and I will also include some practical sessions. I'm pulling on the 20 years teaching experience to ensure the progression is built in. Starting with solid foundations in your skate journey, will set you up for success. I want you to experience the power and joy that roller skating can bring.
If you'd like to know more about my programme, including launch date and investment, just register below.