Mandy Nicholson

The Creative Genius Corner

Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’

The Curse of the Black Feet…

It was a Sunday morning and as usual the dogs woke me at 5.53!!! 

It takes me a few minutes to come round and then I am on the morning routine like a ninja. Feed the dogs, give Jet his medicine (my 14.5-year-old black Lab), take my pills, have a big drink of water, and head off on my morning dog walk. I love meandering around the woodland park that is just around the corner from my home. We are out for around 30 minutes only because that is all Jet can manage these days. We arrive home and enter the house and I let the dogs off their leads. Beau (my blind rescue dog) heads off up the stairs (we are living in a temporary upstairs flat whilst I renovate the new house), but I need to help Jet up as he struggles with stairs now.

As I walked towards the stairs, I noticed Beau had left what looked like muddy footprints all the way up the stairs. As I helped Jet up, I thought they looked very black for mud. My horror as I reached the top stairwell before the front door was palpable. Beau had been excitedly circling while he waited to enter the door and there were circles of black footprints. I rubbed his foot with my finger and realised that this was not mud but oil. Thick, black oil that was soaked all over Beau’s feet. I turned to look at Jet and yep, him too!

It was everywhere and I had that moment of not knowing what to do. Just standing there looking while the options fired through my brain. I opened the front door and squeezed through using my foot to keep the dogs out and reassuring them that it was OK (like they actually understood what I was saying). I went to the kitchen and filled a bowl with hot soapy water and returned to the scene of the crime. 

I proceeded to pop the first dog foot into the water and gently washed it. The oil wasn’t moving, and it was becoming obvious that this was a two-man job as Jet repeatedly tried to get into the flat. I shouted for Dan at the top of my lungs, and he sleepily staggered out of his bedroom. Giving Dan instructions we managed to eventually get the dog feet clean but then there were the stairs.

The fully carpeted, with light coloured carpet, stairs!

A full hour later Dan and I emerged exhausted, but we had dogs with clean feet and had done our best with the carpet on the hall and stairs. In the carnage of it all we had used (and possibly ruined) 2 good towels, 2 cloths and a full bottle of Vanish stain remover and laundry stain remover. My relaxing Sunday morning where my intent had been to go back to bed for a couple of hours had turned into something of a nightmare.

I made myself a coffee and thought for a while. Sometimes life throws us a complete curveball, usually out of the blue. I always say that how you do anything is how you do everything, and I genuinely believe this. I just dealt with the situation, calmly and using the resources that I had available to me. I spent a few moments in quiet gratitude for Dan being the wonderful son that he is and that my dogs were OK. I also spent a moment thinking about the oil-soaked birds we see on TV with volunteers trying to clean them up and I had a new appreciation for how hard they work and how upsetting that situation must be. After all, I only had 8 feet to wash and that was really hard work.

So why write a blog about this you may ask?

Because not that many years ago an incident like this would stress me out. I would become angry and upset and probably shout a lot. It was acknowledging this that made me realise how much I had changed and how much more I liked myself now. In my 30’s I had a demanding career, but it was the wrong career. I was unhappy in my job, my marriage, and my life in general and that impacted directly on how I reacted and dealt with life’s curveballs. I was angry. Not with everyone, just the people who were making me miserable. It was realising that it was me and not others who were making me miserable, that allowed me to change my life and follow my dreams. It took losing everything for me to realise all of this.

I don’t want you to have to end up at rock bottom to realise that you already have all you need to live a fulfilled and happy life. I want you to deal with incidents like the curse of the black feet with a smile and have the ability to learn a lesson instead of overreacting.

So, here are my top tips on dealing with life’s curveballs:

  • Stay calm and assess the situation – things are never as bad as they seem in the moment. Take a breath and allow your thoughts to settle and sink in. Breathe deeply, let the angst out and the calm in. You will make better decisions when you are calm than you would when you are stressed.
  • Review your options – let your brain flick through it’s files. This is an automatic reaction whilst you brain looks at different but similar situations and how you have dealt with them in the past. It will come up with the best option for you now if you allow yourself the time to really think. It doesn’t take hours, merely moments for that supercomputer of yours to come up with action.
  • Allow for evolution – we are natural problem solvers, that is why we have the social structure we have today. As you deal with the problem, you will come up with better and more productive ways to tackle it. Stop for a moment and acknowledge this and let your thoughts do their magic. Listen and act.
  • Review – when you are on the other side of the problem it is vital that you review it. I was able to see and acknowledge just how far I have come when faced with unexpected incidents. I was able to show gratitude for my son and for others. This is probably the most important part of anything we deal with, particularly in our business. For me reflection holds so much power and if you skip this step, you allow that power to just ebb away.

In summary I think it is pertinent to say that it doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank, how successful you become or how important you are, shit still happens. It is only when you are in a happy and calm place that you can face anything how you face everything.

My response to dealing with this curveball once I had sat and held space for the lesson was to write a blog about it so that I could share my thoughts with the world. It is from sharing that we can reach others who may need the message in a moment in their life. It doesn’t matter if it’s the curse of the black feet or that gut churning problem of no sales coming in, how you do anything is how you do everything. And I like to make sure I deal with everything with calm, integrity and to a high standard.

I hope this helped you just a little, if it did, please let me know.

Love & Colour

Mandy x

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