The formula for success

It is widely understood that there is no such thing as an overnight success.

There is no such thing as a fairy godmother or a magic wand…   There is also no such thing as luck… although many like to use that as an excuse as to why they are where they are.


Personally, I believe you make your own luck by the choices you make, the decisions you stand by and the brand, the energy that you put out….


Although today, the penny dropped.




The penny dropped, that there may just be a formula.


Based on some training I attended, some further research and a conversation, a brainstorm with a friend this morning over a herbal tea… there may well be a formula.


It isn’t a secret formula… but as I said, the penny just dropped. For me anyway.


And now I can’t decide whether to blog about it… or whether I just need to mull it over a bit more…


But this is where I have got to…



If (M + V) + (H + E) = F


Then F = P + A


Therefore  (P + A ) + (2T + C)= S….


It’s actually quite simple.




In other news, I had a crash course in negotiation this morning. Willy refused to eat breakfast, do his homework, to get dressed, to put on his shoes, to go to school..   He called me ‘Dirk’… and screamed and shouted and slammed doors.


There are some moments, I think that I am not cut out for this mothering thing…   and that I want to cry and scream back… and go back to bed.


But when the peace descends and our face off has run its course, snuggled in the kitchen chair, together, listening to him read his school book … I remember that there is no better job than that of being a parent.






Toad in the Hole

Tonight calls for Toad in the Hole.


Real comfort food.


I am feeling sorry for myself.


Sick of the cough that keeps me awake all night. Sick of feeling lackless and energyless…



I am feeling sorry for myself.


Sick of the cough that has made me miss 2 events this week that I was looking forward to – my last class with the girls at St Mathews and Willy’s school fundraiser.



I am feeling sorry for myself.


Sick of the cough that had me in fits and sweats while giving makeovers to friends this morning and had me in bed again this afternoon.



I am feeling sorry for myself.


Sick of the cough that makes me sick and makes my throat raw.



I am feeling sorry for myself.


So I made Toad in the Hole.



I will feel better tomorrow.


Toad in the Hole + Weekend + Mr OCD is home + boys on beaver camp + lunch with friends + night on the sofa = I WILL FEEL BETTER TOMORROW!





Tonight my gratitude has a tinge of smugness…


Is that a bad thing?


To be so grateful that you feel smug? To feel smug is feeling almost offensive satisfaction for your situation, does it not?


Well that is how I feel…


Grateful and smug…


Today, I got to kiss my boys good morning and have breakfast with them both… I got to see Willy make his own toast for the first time…   I love the firsts…


Today I got to read with both my boys and hear how well they are progressing at school…


Today I got to stand in front of a classroom and inspire children to think for themselves.. understand the world and their impact on it and the impact of the world on them.


Today I got to spend time with a wonderful ‘old’ friend and wax lyrical about how lucky we both were! How grateful we were to have this time with our children … to have the time to grab a nice coffee and share our gratitudes, and swop stories…


Today I got to exercise… to feel fit and healthy… even though I can feel a tickle and a sniffle coming on … (I am healthy.  I am healthy!  I am full of health!)


Today I got to pick up my youngest and have quality time with him, make him feel special with one on one time… and wave to him in the pool and watch him proudly swimming like a frog…


Today I got to eat supper with my children, cuddle them on the sofa under blankets and kiss their soft cheeks and hair… and hear the words ‘I love you, Mama’ as I tuck them under their duvets…


Today I got to treat two friends to a facial and a makeover .. and if I do say so myself, my work was good! And I am proud of myself…


Today I got to do the 2 things I always wanted to do – be a Mummy… not only in just the physical sense of the act of becoming a parent and giving birth, but actively taking an interest in my offspring’s wellbeing, safety, security and providing a loving environment myself…   and secondly to stand in front of a school class and provide an inspiring environment for children to learn.


Today I got to do the 2 things I always wanted to do AND see friends, have fun and keep healthy!


Today I am full of smug gratitude… Today I am the cat that got the cream! I could even be Bagpuss!

the cat that got the cream



To resist… or to not resist…That is the question!

It’s definition word time.


To resist … or to not resist.  That is the question!


To resist is ‘to withstand, strive against or oppose’.


I love exercise – all forms of it. I tried Yoga once, but it hurt, it made me feel stupid, I wasn’t good at it, I don’t bend, I can’t reach my toes, I can literally do a side bend for one inch…


So I resisted it…   For a long time.


Funny how we resist the things we need the most?

Amazing how the universe provides the things we need the most at the time we need it.   One of the parents at Tom’s school has recently opened her own Hot Yoga practice right next door to the school and it had a fabulous article in the York Press yesterday.

It was a sign. It was a sign for me to sign up.

I did.

I still can’t bend…. And I had to use a block, several sometimes…

But I didn’t feel stupid. I felt good.

Why have I resisted this for so long?! I needed the warmth for my stiff muscles. I needed the breathing to release the tension. I needed the headspace to let my thoughts drift away…

It was brilliant and I will be going back.  (


I also discussed resisting people either in a work or social capacity with a friend over lunch. People who you feel uncomfortable with in their presence. I commented that it could be that they do, or say, things that aren’t in line with your own values… so they don’t feel like they fit with your life…   And as values change over time, perhaps that’s why some friends are transient.


She made the interesting point that we resist some people because on some subconscious level, they reflect something inside us that we don’t like about ourselves or didn’t like about ourselves in the past. So we resist the person or the situation as it makes us uncomfortable as it magnifies what we don’t like about ourselves…


Carl Jung says ‘ What you resist, persists’…


And I believe that. The more you resist something, the more you want it! A bit like chocolate when on a diet or wine on a detox!


The more you push something away, the more you think about it, the more energy you give to it…   and therefore the more focus you give it.


So to release the pressure that comes with resisting, you have to let it go. It’s a bit like my stiff muscles in my yogic poses! The more I resisted the pose, the more I found I couldn’t move… and yet when I breathed, relaxed and let it go… the resistance left and I felt at peace…


Looking back, I resisted the grief for the loss of my Mum and the sad situation we find her in, I fought it… tried to push on through. The more I pushed the anguish down, the more I fed the pain…

What you resist persists

When I recognised it and met it face on, I was able let the pain out, I felt release. I felt calm.


To Resist.


Far better to step in, face the resistance and release…




‘Make love, not War’ – Anon

‘I was once asked why I never participated in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I would never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I will be there’ – Mother Teresa.

‘Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time’ Lyndon B. Johnson

‘Peace is not the destination. Peace is the way.’- unknown

‘If we are to have peace on earth… our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

‘Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace’ – Jonathan Lockwood Hule.

‘True Peace is no merely the absence of tension, but it is the presence of justice’ – Martin Luthor King.

‘Imagine all the people, living life in peace…’- John Lennon.


I don’t suppose that I am the only person starting and ending today thinking about the recent events in Paris.

I am not an avid watcher of the news, nor reader of the newspapers. Long gone are the days of luxury when I used to read an hour of the paper a day. I am lucky if I get to read the Sunday papers – that is a rare treat.

So my political views on the situation is next to nothing as my knowledge of the facts and history leading up to the events are pretty limited. But I am aware of the situation – multiple gun attacks and suicide bombers affecting many, many lives of innocent people.

And this isn’t the first… Wars, attacks, aggression, tension has been around since the beginning of the human race… My generation all know where we were when the Twin Towers came down on 9/11, the footage emblazoned on our memories… 7/7 also….

So what’s the answer to ending it? Is there one? Fight back or give love? Is it that simple?

I started to google some of the well known peace cries from peace ‘activists’… And they are all in line with the message from my favourite book ‘The Secret’… focus on what you want, not what you don’t want… Focus on peace, not war. Love…. Not hate. Forgive, not revenge…   The book says that by focusing on something, the vibes and the signals you are putting out to the universe will mean you get more of the same…

With all the press coverage, media, social discussions… we are giving air time to these terrible attacks… Does this mean we are giving the terrorists what they want? Focus? Attention? By doing so, will they do it again? Do something worse?

So does that mean we should all ignore it? Walk on by? Allow it?   Ignore the emotions it brings up? Not allow ourselves to show compassion for those affected? Show solidarity amongst the peaceful majority?

I am really not sure it is that simple…

I like the mixture of the quotes I found…

I believe MLK, Jr is right… we need to develop a world perspective… but at the same time, Lyndon is right – it will take one step at a time.

In the meantime, MLK himself speaks of what we need to do now and allow justice in… and leave that to the people who know what they are doing and in authority.

As a mere mortal and lowly citizen, I shall follow John Lennon’s advice and imagine living life in peace… and I will pray that all those affected, suffering or suffering grief will find the peace they deserve eventually, in finding it possible to forgive.


The omelet of life…

The omelet of life!

Saturday morning… family breakfast! And this morning it was omelet on the menu. The big man is home…

And as I am making the omelet’s it makes me think about life… for the perfect omelet is made from the right ingredients being put into the hot pan at the right time. For us, the Mortimer omelet is made simply; just 5 main ingredients and the seasoning.

The pan has to be hot and the coconut oil just running clear and hot.

Throw in the red onion…. And let them sweat until they are clear, but not fully cooked nor brown or burnt…

Throw in the finely sliced button mushrooms… and let them brown and shrink. You always need more mushrooms than you originally think…

Once they are nicely soft it is the turn of the spinach… Again, more than you think as the leaves reduce to practically nothing…

And quickly after the spinach, the eggs, pre-whisked and seasoned…

Then comes the patience… a few swirls of the spatula around the pan to ensure it doesn’t stick…

Waiting for the perfect time to overlay the fatless palma ham to be laid on top…

Patience… you don’t want to flip the omelet too early or the egg will run out the side and spoil the perfect half crescent shape… too long and you get a rubbery texture.

I do this routine 4 times… as I have 4 hungry men at my breakfast table.

As I repeat the recipe and activity the 4 times, it makes me think of the recipe of life….

Just like life – we may know what we want the outcome to be and the steps we need to take and decisions we need to make… but it could go wrong. Outside influences could deter us from our path, make us shift our focus… A spilt glass of water could make us burn the onions… and we have to start again.. Just as in life, a life event could make us take our eye off the prize and we have to start over…

Just like life – everyone is different… the goal different, the size of the goal different…. Tom – 1 egg, Willy 2 eggs, Uncle Barny 3 eggs and Big Daddy Morts the 4 full egg breakfast.   The same applies with the ingredients… Tom doesn’t like mushrooms and BDM wants extra spinach…

Just like life – you need patience… If you want the end result to be as good as it possibly can be or even exceed your expectations, you need to have patience to go through each step before moving to the next one… Rush it and it can all go wrong. Scrambled egg.

Just like life – you need the right tools… BDM has worked out that the 5 inch pan is the perfect size…. That a plastic spatula is the best thing to do the swirling and flipping.   The mini whisk with the red bowl … god forbid they go missing! It never feels right if you have to do it with a fork and a breakfast bowl…

Just like life – you can’t take short cuts….. the youtube clip of the omelet in a ziplock bag and boiling water. Rubbertastic! No thanks…

Just like life – everyone can take a different approach and still get the same brilliant result. Mr OCD stays true to himself… the onions chopped into tiny perfect squares, next to the perfectly sliced onions in perfect piles, spinach out and the palma ham de-fatted, the eggs whisked in the red bowl, seasoned… perfectly lined up, cup of coffee next to the pan. And…. Go!

Me… I am a muddle of chopping just in time, walking back and forth to the chopping board, swearing as the onions just start to go brown as I search for the spatula… can’t find the spinach in the fridge… you get the picture….

But the end result is that the omelet is done, delicious and nutritious…

Just like life… you can look at the end result and know that reversing the order, connecting the dots backwards, each step played a part in the perfect breakfast plate, the perfect result for our lives. Each step or dot, necessary for us to move to the next dot and we remain at some dots longer than others, entirely because it is necessary…

Steve Jobs was right.


The little jeweled box

The little box..

While on holiday with my Dad and sister in Cornwall over half term we had many discussions about Mum and how we felt…   My Dad is by far the best at coping, dealing, managing with the sadness, loss, change… Maybe it is because he has had longer to come to terms with the demise of my Mum’s brain, her personality, her… having lived with it daily for many years…

One evening, I asked him how he managed to stay so positive and focused on the future, without feeling guilty or letting the grief overwhelm him as it was me. What could I do,  so that I could focus on getting my life back on track and being the best version of myself, to being the best mother to my boys, the caring wife, the brave, fearless and professional business owner… so that I could get back to being myself, my positive self, the optimist, happy, full of vitality and spirit.

He talked about a box.

He puts ‘Mum’ in a box.

And every now and then, he will allow himself to open the box… either when he is visiting her, or in quiet moments at home.

He will open the box and think of her – and smile at happy memories.

He will open the box and think of her – and allow sadness in.

He will close the box of Annie. And open the box of the life of John, Dad and Grandad and fill it. Fill it with adventures, of ice creams, silliness and cricket, rugby or tennis… making new friends and having fun.

This is a technique I started to apply on hearing about it. For Mum has been floating around my head like a ghost and interrupting everything in the life of Ali.

I am getting better. I tried to put Mum in box. At first the box was too small. Too plain. She wouldn’t go in. So typical of her. She never did want someone wanted her to do, if she didn’t want to do it first.

So I have covered it in diamonds and pearls. Her favourites.

And filled it with chocolates – Swiss. It had to be. She only ever ate Lindt. Anything else was inferior.

And filled it with kittens – Siamese kittens. Soft, silky and squeaky. Her babies.

She is going in more frequently now… a little less stubborn. And she is staying in her box more too.

I am finding I have control of the box, rather than her having control of my mind.

I can go to the box at any time and open the lid to check to see if she is ok. Sometimes, she is sleeping. Sometimes, she just looks up and smiles while playing with the kittens and waves to let me know she is ok.

Sometimes she invites me in for a chocolate. The sweetness of her treats, softens the bitterness of the memories.

Sometimes, I stay a while and let the memories float across my mind. The first time she picked me up from boarding school… I couldn’t see her in the crowd… only Dad with his wonky walk in the distance… but before I could get to him, being swept up in her arms and smothered with kisses, love and the smell of her Fendi perfume.   The time she first held Tom… pride and love oozing from every part of her. The same memory tinged with sadness as I know she would be so proud of Tom now.. and Willy.

Sometimes, the painful memories creep in and I have to close the lid… The last time she came to Yorkshire and Tom flying out of the classroom door and in to Grandad’s arms… Mum not knowing who they were… and the realization that this would be the last time she saw them and the boys had her in their lives. And always the haunting memory of her face against the window pain, rattling at the door, trying to follow us out of the mental hospital.

I softly close the lid of the jeweled box and let her get back to her kittens and chocolates.

I softly close the lid of the jeweled box of Mum and go back to my life and know that I can visit whenever I want to, need to and would like to…


Topsy Turvy Days

How strange today that I don’t feel like blogging. Because I usually love it.

How strange today that I don’t feel like dressing up. Because I usually love any excuse to wear fancy dress, get out my make up set…

How strange today that I don’t feel like trick or treating. Because I usually love leading the pack and knocking on dark doors…

How strange today that I don’t feel like being social. Because I usually love being with others.

How strange today that I don’t feel like doing anything. Because usually I love being busy.

How strange today that I don’t feel like speaking to anyone. Because usually I love sharing stories, laughing, debating.

How strange today that I just want to be left alone. Because I usually dislike solitude.

How strange today that I just want to sit and eat and lounge on my sofa. Because I usually dislike eating for no reason and dislike inactivity….

How strange today is…. I’m all topsy turvy.

It must be a full moon!

…..Or Halloween!!!

….. or just one of those days..!


…and finally the tears…

….and finally the tears…

Today started well. A lovely beautiful autumnal morning, beautiful light streaming through the house..

The boys perfectly behaved, both did their homework before they left for school, no tears or tantrums and just jolly little faces.

I was really looking forward to walking the dog along the river, to listening to the peace and quiet, the gentle trickling of the river and perhaps a chapter of my book.

But within 5 minutes, I had been shouted at by 2 dog owners. So I have turned round and am now shaking on my sofa…

Maybe this was the situation I needed to get the pent up anger and frustration out? But where is the anger directed? At the dog? At James? At his parents? At life? At the universe? Life has recently sent me a lot of change, a lot of upset, weirdness, emotion and I have been treading water to stay afloat, stay positive, keeping my head above water so I can see the positives and the horizon to swim for… this small trivial scenario seems to have been a great big hand that has pushed me under the water.

As I sit in my sunlit snug, I can feel the cold tears on my cheeks and it feels good to cry.


And while the darkness of the murky water and sadness shrouds me, I can see bubbles and the light above me…

Time to head up and breathe…

Time to tread water, because my lists and plans await me… they are my strong strokes towards the shore, dry land… safety. I hope there is a large mojito waiting for me!

And there’s my smile….

All good.

The dog is sorted. No longer my responsibility. #Ididntwantadog (

Right – where’s my list!

tears strong

Self Doubt and the unknown whisperer…

self belief - ali

Self doubt seems to be a recurring theme today…

I woke up with a sense of it…

It was the topic of the audio I downloaded and listened to today from a business coach…

It was the highlight of the chapter in my book today…

I am trying to make sense of it. Why today do I have this feeling? Why is everything pointing at learning and understanding it?

I am trying to make sense of it. Am I doubting myself as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a business owner, a friend, a person, an individual?

I am trying to make sense of it.

I am using all the tricks up my sleeve to get rid of it. For each doubting thought that enters my mind, I bat it back with an ace… Snow White standing up to Dobby…

It’s noisy in my head today…

Doubting Doris whispers in my right ear: so you think you are a bad mother: you think you spend more time with Tom than you do Willy? That’s why he had a melt down last week…

Someone whispers in my left: look at your beautiful boys, they are happy, healthy, well fed, amazing feedback from school. Tom had a meltdown too… It’s half term – they are both tired.

You are a good, patient and very loving mother.

Doubting Doris whispers in my right ear: so you think you have abandoned your Mum, leaving your Dad to fend for himself, looking for someone to look after him?

Someone whispers back: you did everything you could to get both your Mum and Dad safe… it’s good that Mum has been sectioned again today – another move would be another disruption… it’s good that your Dad can get on with his life! Let him!

You are a loyal, caring daughter.

Doubting Doris whispers in my ear: James is going to paris on Friday, choosing to go there rather than come to Cornwall with us… I haven’t been myself, I am sad and boring, he doesn’t want to be with me, the chaos, my family… not surprised he wants the luxury and sophistication of Paris!

Someone whispers back: that’s ridiculous! Utterly absurd. He lives in luxury and sophistication all week and is desperate every weekend to come home and have family time! This is business and an exciting opportunity…

You are a fantastically supportive, loving wife.

Doubting Doris whispers in my ear: why on earth did you think you could build a business from scratch? You know nothing about sales, marketing, skincare or health…

Someone whispers back: you have washed all your life, learnt about health through experience, you have coached teams to success for over 15 years, learnt new skills, become brilliant at them. There is nothing you can’t achieve once you are decided…

You are a success.  You have a thriving business.

Doubting Doris whispers in my ear: go back to work… go back to work… it’s what you know!

Someone whispers back:  The past is there to teach you and the future is there for the taking! Work didn’t work… for you or the family. Use your intuition… you can make this work! Change is evolution… it is a good thing. Embrace it!

You are brave.  You are strong enough to take the road less travelled.

Doubting Doris whispers in my ear: you are just a glorified taxi driver, gym bunny, professional coffee date goer…. That person you used to take pity on as you dashed in to throw your kids in to nursery and school…

Someone whispers back: you are so much more! Your children love having you around, you are a healthier happier version of you! You are doing all the things you have ever wanted – teach in schools, teach people to be healthy and happy, with your children when they need you, there for your parents, there for Mr OCD to proof read, QA check, brainstorm and be a sounding board…

You are living a life of abundance, richness and full of good things… you are lucky to have such a life!

Doubting Doris whispers in my ear: your blog is repetitive, boring, not helpful..

Someone whispers back: it’s helping you… out of your head and on to paper… What about all the positive comments you have received? How what you say resonates with others, how it has helped the them… look at the numbers of how many people read it! And anyway… who cares!? This was for you…

You are a writer.  You are a creative writer.  You are inspiring others.

Who is this someone who is fighting my corner? Giving me a pep talk… holding me up… ?

Could it be? It couldn’t be Self Belief could it?