Hi and welcome to Chapter Seven of kNOw Limits Newsletter.

In this Chapter you will find the following morsels of inspiration to digest;

  • Update on Mandy and Caylees learning from their forthcoming book
  • A grey moment!
  • A clients problem shared in the mailbag
  • Book reports from Mandy
  • Poem from Caylee
  • Information on forthcoming events/courses that kNOw Limits is offering
  • Information on chosen resources that I feel may be of benefit
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Dear Mandy’s mailbag.

I was coaching a client of mine the other day and I suggested they share their thoughts with their daughter. Their immediate response was “No she wouldn’t want to talk about that, she’s not very communicative at the moment.” I challenged this response and said “Well just try, she may surprise you.” I think this is something we all fall into very easily, particularly when you think you have got to know someone very well. You assume something won’t work because you ‘know’ exactly how they will respond. Well maybe the other person knows deep down you think this and so stays in the role that’s being created in the relationship. When we pre-empty what we think people will do or say this begins to close the relationship and its potential down. The person ends up being straight jacketed into behaving in a certain way. You probably all know of couples who get annoyed with their partner because they are different when they are out. Someone may pay them a compliment and their partner make a remark such as “Well they’re not like that at home” rather begrudgingly. I know even exploring this conversation may get some resistance from people. Its like “Don’t tell me something. I am the one who lives or works with that person. I know them better than anyone.” But that’s the point. Sometimes you can get too close and blinded to the situation or relationship. We can develop an air of ‘arrogance’ if someone sees the person in a different way. I think a very good question to ask ourselves when we feel like this is, “How am I benefiting from holding this image of the person in the way I am ?” “What is it about that person or environment that brings out a different side of them?” How can I create some of that for them?”

Its important to practise different ways of viewing a person. Its like putting on a different pair of lens in your glasses each time. Purposefully put yourself in different situations, different environments and different people with the person. The difference will bring out a different part of the person. The more you do this, the more space you create to open up the potential for how you view the person. You begin to see them in different lights. You see aspects of them you never knew existed or havn’t seen in a long time. If you want to see more play go to the fair or the swimming pool. If you want to see a more relaxed person go to the beach or take a boat out for a day. If you want to see a more caring side go to an animal sanctuary or rescue centre. We all need to stretch ourselves and our relationships out of their comfort zones every once in a while.


See book review's 1, 2 and 3 below.

Mandy and Caylees learning from their forthcoming book.

The one thing that really struck me about the last Newsletter was the amount of response it got. I had more readers contact me about how it had impacted on them than ever before. The idea that everyone grieves in their own way and needs to be given space to do this really resonated with you. I learnt that when you are real and your message has a good intention behind it, people will get it. If you worry about what people might think and hold back or dilute the message nobody really gets any of it. You end up doing people a dis-service. I am also learning that loss can grab you from behind when you are least expecting it. I have been spending more time this month trying to work out how I can use more of my life experience to help others in a positive way. Or what I call my ‘life lessons.’ I had written a piece on ‘Why I really coach’ and was aware it was about unfulfilled potential. People like my mum and dad who lived very ordinary lives never really realising their potential together. I was also trying to work out where my experiences growing up fit into my book with Caylee. Anyway I was at a Coaching Community Day with other coaches and towards the end of the morning we had to say the following; “What is not o.k. with me is_______________and what I am going to do about it is____________________.” I tried not to think about it too much until it came to my turn. As I tried to speak I had all this emotion stuck in my chest. As I tried to speak I began to cry. I stayed with it, tried to take some deep breaths and said, “What is not o.k. with me is I will never have the chance to have any more of a relationship with my mum and dad because they are dead. What I am going to do about it is make sure I have the best possible relationship ever with my daughter Caylee.” The first thing I noticed was the power in speaking it out loud and being witnessed by others.  The second thing was in not trying to stop the process because of embarrassment or looking a mess. When I was real, messy and vulnerable it had the most impact on people. Thirdly I was surprised by the amount of people that came up to me after and said it had really made them think about relationships in their own lives. So my question for you to ponder on this month is; “Whats it going to take for you to show up real, messy and vulnerable in your relationships?” I often cry when I am touched by something on TV. I noticed I felt embarrassed by this and would try to shield my eyes so that Caylee and my husband could not see me. The last few times I have tried to let go of the embarrassment and hide it so much. I have noticed that Caylee has looked at me more when she has cried at something on TV. There is a direct correleation between accepting something about ourselves, and it creating the space for others around us to do the same.

The other thing I have learnt over the last month is some of the deeper reasons why I coach. Going back to my earlier reference about unfulfilled potential I had been thinking of my mum and dads lives more. The following is what I have written so far.
The Reason I Coach (or Unfulfilled Potential.)

I am looking at the photo of a fresh faced boy of about 12 years old. It has an air of innocence and so much potential ahead. I wonder what dreams and hopes he has for the years ahead. And then I feel really sad because I know this persons life and potential has been unfulfilled. Not only unfulfilled but cut short in so many ways.

Now I am looking at the photo of a girl about 14. She has a big grin on her face. She has lots of big curly auburn hair and it looks like the wind is blowing through it. Again a fresh face of youth and innocence. I wonder what she dreams of when she is lying on her back in the garden watching the white fluffy clouds go by. And then once again I feel really sad because I know this persons life and potential has been unfulfilled. And not only unfulfilled but cut short in so many ways.

Their story is not particularly unique in many ways. In face their story probably resonates with many thousands of people living their lives from day to day, watching the pennies and wondering how they are going to afford the next bill, or the next pair of shoes needed.

Two people who at some point in their lives must have been so in love. Had so many hopes for their future together. So when does this change? When does it change for anyone? The honest answer to this is I don’t know. I am not them and I don’t know all that happened. I will never know their feelings and thoughts because they are both now dead. However I know what I experienced growing up and listening to other family members recount their stories. So some of this story is my direct experience, some is from other family members and some is me imagining I know what they may have thought and felt, trying to fill in the gaps if you like. And there will always be gaps because I do not have their voices.

I know my mum and dad both came from families that were very proud and instilled in their kids a sense of doing the ‘right thing’. I know my dad was a very good artist and wanted to go to Technical College to develop this skill. I know that even at this point his path in life was partially set when his dad said he wanted him to go into his family business instead. Now I don’t know how dad felt about giving up his opportunity to do something he loved and was really good at but he did. I know that a number of years later the business went bust and dad had no qualification or skill he could use.

He met and married mum in 1967 and before long I was born the following year. My brother was born 3 years later followed very closely by my sister. So they were newly married with a young family of 3 to feed and clothe. Life couldn’t have been particularly easy as we lived in a 2 bedroomed council flat on the seventh floor.

Now I am sure there must have been some happy and fun times amongst the difficulties most people face in bringing up a young family. However when I did a speech at my dads funeral the one thing that struck me was I don’t remember seeing him happy for a long time. This really upset me and I had to delve deep in the recesses of my mind to really remember some happy times. And I did remember some. Like us spending all day at the park with our sandwiches and playing football. Like dad drawing us pictures of planes and cartoon characters. But the truth is I remember a lot of arguments as well. I remember dad spending the little money he had on a bet on the horses, or a drink at the pub. I remember mum having a go at him because we had very little money as it was. I am not saying dad exactly spent a lot on these things. But when you have very little and each penny counts this can begin to cause resentment between 2 people. I remember there being cycles where arguments would stop for a period of time and then start up again for whatever reason. I remember there being a lot of tension, resentment and frustration around. What does that do to any relationship? It certainly doesn’t bode well for great communication.

I know people who knew dad, particularly his own family who said dad was always a quiet man. I don’t know how much he was not saying about how he felt. I don’t know the impact of working on a mundane job on the track at Rover, when you had once hoped you were going to Technical College. What I know is dads way of dealing with stuff was to escape by going to the pub for a drink, putting his bet on and having a cigarette. The sorts of things thousands of men do week in and week out all over the country. However I know that drinking can have an effect on a family when the person comes back in such a state it creates more arguments, and embarrassment while the neighbours can hear his singing coming up the street.

Then when I was 13 mum told us she was pregnant and subsequently our younger brother came along. Things settled down for a little while but then the arguments started up again. I had a sense dad was very unhappy and then a devastating thing happened. Dad got knocked over and suffered a serious head injury leaving him in hospital for 6 months. This was a very difficult time for everyone but I suspect most for mum and my younger brother. He was only 11 so to have your dad come home 6 months later a changed man must have been very confusing and hard to understand. By this point I was not living at home anymore. When I was visiting I would find it very hard as mum was very frustrated and resentful towards dad. She would speak to him in what I thought was a really disrespectful way. I did try telling her I didn’t like it but it was awkward. She would get really annoyed with me if I said anything and to be honest I was not the one that had him living with me all the time. Mum was his main carer and had to deal with the changes in their relationship this brought. I can only imagine that if there was any bitterness before he had his accident, there must have been even more after for him leaving her in this situation. Mum must have had a range of mixed feelings but I do know that she continued to have him live at home. She must have had some feelings towards him after twenty odd years of marriage. It may have been easier to have put him in a home but mum was not one for taking the easy route. Mum was very proud. Sometimes pride can be a good thing and sometimes pride can cause further heartache. Having pride can mean you appear strong and don’t need others help. People can respect you for soldiering on in the face of adversity. However I also think holding on to pride can mean you don’t share your feelings with people about your fears and concerns. It can mean you don’t ask for help and when it is offered you can cause embarrassment. It can mean you don’t let people into your life because you don’t want them to know whats going on. The one thing I do know about my mum was that she was very proud of all her children. She did a lot for us and tried to protect us from a lot as well. In 1999 aged 53 after suffering with a lot of back pain for a year she was diagnosed with cancer of the bone marrow. This was a very difficult time for all of us. Even then in the midst of her being so ill she reacted very angrily when I took dad in to see her for the first time. It was hard to know with his head injury how much he understood but I felt he needed to know how ill she was and that she may not live. He reacted by being visibly very upset when he saw her. Mum became angry and said she didn’t want him to see her like she was. Even then I felt she wasn’t going to let him in, and there was a mixture of anger, embarrassment and just too much upset for her to deal with. She died four weeks after going into hospital for treatment.

After mums death dad and my younger brother continued to live in the council house we had grown up in. However things did not work out and I made the decision to find supported housing for dad. He lived in his own flat with support for a while but as his falls increased we had to move him into a Nursing Home at 61. This was a very difficult decision as in many ways he was too young and able to go into a home. However he also had no money or estate so there were no other choices available. He settled in o.k. for a while but to be honest I think deep down if most people had the choice they would rather not put their mum or dad into a home. His health deteriorated over the next couple of years and he died aged 64, November 2005. He was buried with mum in a double grave. Under mums inscription we had one more line added which is “Step softly, a dream lies buried here.” And that relates to both of them. The dream they once had for their future and their life together.

And it brings me back to where I started. The photos of 2 young people with lives ahead of them full of potential….and lives of potential unfulfilled in many ways. Time wasted on arguments, bitterness, resentfulness and frustration. Two people wanting something different for their kids, trying to create a better future for them.

And that’s one of the many reasons why I coach. I see the potential yet to be experienced in people. Because I see the desire and need in people to live their lives in a different way to what they are living now. To have someone hold your dreams and help you realise them NOW before its too late. To have someone who holds your life and every breath you take as a precious gift. Don’t wait until someone has an accident before you realise what you have lost. Don’t wait until someone dies before you realise what you have lost. Make your own life and that of others count…because they do. As someone pointed out to me, my mum and dad have given me a gift in their death. I want to share that gift with you. Stop what you are doing right now. NOW! Before you read any more of this newsletter do what you need to do with the person you are thinking of. Make that call. Write that letter. Go and surprise them by seeing them when they didn’t expect it. Lifes too short to mess about. You get one chance in this life. So make sure it’s a bloody good one!

Book Report 1.

The Road Less Travelled. M.Scott Peck. Arrow Books Ltd 1990 ISBN 0-09-972740-4

The author Dr M. Scott Peck had a private practise in psychiatry from 1972 to 1983. He draws upon a lot of his personal experience with his clients. From 1984 to 2005 he devoted much of his time to the work of the Foundation for Community Encouragement, a non profit organisation. He died in 2005. It is a very insightful book about how to develop ‘real’ honesty and relationships with people. He talks about true love being about enabling growth in ourselves and others. Its also insightful about how our own selfish motivations can enable dependence upon us and others. I also found it to be ‘refreshingly’ honest about the energy true change really takes. I really liked seeing someone saying this rather than telling people how they can change their life in 60 seconds, 24 hours, and 7 days etc……!

The down side I found was it can be a bit heavy and wordy in explanations at times. I felt like I had got the point many times but then he went into another explanation leading to another point. At this point I had nearly lost the point a few times. He also makes some comments about his own theory on mental health that I don’t personally agree with. However that did not stop me from reading the rest of the book.
Book Report 2.

Whatever. A down-to-earth guide to parenting teenagers. Gill Hines and Alison Baverstock. Piatkus Books Ltd. 2005
ISBN 0-7499-2594-9

Even the title of this book is great. It really does what it says on the cover. I also love the title ‘Whatever’. If any of you have contact with teens you will probably be infuriated by this phrase. Very clever of the authors to choose something that is very ‘now’.

As soon as you read the introduction it comes across as very down to earth and real. It tells it as it is, normalises things and doesn’t offer magic wands.

I also liked the flash backs. This is where you can consider a way of connecting with a young person or activities to do with them.

e.g. Chapter 1 has a list of what makes a good parent. It then gets you to consider asking your child how they would list the order in their priorities. Its these sort of activities I liked that really enable discussion and get you to really find out what your kids think.
The book also describes things that a teenager may think or feel, which I think enables empathy. It also has some great practical tips on how to re-phrase your words and conversation.

I can’t say I really found anything I didn’t like about the book to be honest

Book Report 3.

Self Made Man. My Year Disguised as a Man. Norah Vincent. Atlantic Books. 2006 ISBN 1-84354-503-9

Norah Vincent is a freelance journalist working in New York City. She has written a book on her experience of living as ‘Ned’ her invented male persona. She goes into detail about what happens when she dates women as ‘Ned’, spends time in a monastery as ‘Ned’, joins a bowling league and various other encounters. I found it a fascinating read as a woman to see how men treated her thinking she was a ‘man’. She ends up having a lot more sympathy for the men she meets than I think she really anticipated would happen. She tells of the emotional impact on pretending to be a man it has on her. She also tells what reactions she gets when she ends up telling some of them she is really a ‘woman.’

However there was another part of me that felt something was missing. I can’t even put my finger on it exactly which doesn’t really help you! What I was very surprised by was the speed with which the men in particular accepted she was really a woman and she had lied to them. I found myself almost disbelieving that they weren’t getting more angry than they were. And that’s my response to it knowing I was not Norah, so I did not have those experiences. I think I would find it really useful to hear a blokes point of view on reading the book. I would still encourage you to read it as the psychology of the process she experiences is very interesting.

Caylee’s Poem ‘Barking Mad!’;

We got Jake 7 months ago
When he was just 9 months old
He was just sitting in that Rescue Centre
Just sitting there in the cold.

It was about an hours drive
To get all the way back home
Jake was sick 4 times
I’m so glad he wasn’t alone.

Every morning I get up early
I get up when the sun shines
I then take Jake for a walk to the park
But then when we leave he whines.

Jake loves jumping high in the sky
Up trees, over fences and on the shed
So when my dad put things on to stop him
He nearly banged his head.

He digs massive holes in the garden
Soil goes everywhere
And when I tell him off
He doesn’t even care.

Even though he’s sometimes naughty
You could even say he’s bad
I love him every single day
Even though he’s barking mad.


Mandy and Caylees book:

Well there I am breathing as I finish the last bit of rough manuscript, feeling like the book is finished!! But alas no, its only the beginning. I have taken on a lady who is helping me edit and present chapters of the book in a more integrated way. We have given ourselves until the end of June to have the proposal and first Chapters to go out to potential publishers. Its strange because in one way it feels like a step closer, and then in another way it feels like the book has been ‘happening’ for ever. What I do have is a request;
If any of you have any contacts in the publishing world I would appreciate you sharing them with me. Every little helps and you never know where the contacts may lead to.

A ‘Grey’ Moment.

So now for something different. I would like to share my grey experience with you all! I remember very vividly the first time I saw a grey hair. It was about 3 years ago and I was 35. I was driving in the car and happened to catch a glimpse of ‘something’ as I looked in the mirror. I nearly had a heart attack and thought that looks like a grey hair. It can’t be. I must be seeing things. I’m too young. You don’t go grey until your about 50. (And I really did think that!)

I then very tentatively shared my experience with 2 people. The first (in her early 30’s) told me she had started going grey about 20. She said it was genetic as her mum had also gone grey young. She had black hair which apparently she dyes so you would never know. Now this may sound evil but I actually felt a mild sense of satisfaction knowing this person had not only gone grey younger than me but also had loads of grey and dyed it.
Once this happened I began to notice peoples grey hairs. And what I discovered was that people begin to get grey hairs far younger than I ever thought you did.

I am also having a ‘grey hair moment’ as I am writing this. That means it is a day where I see a few and suddenly feel like my whole head is grey. Now I think I have some saving grace for a while. I have lighter coloured hair so hopefully will get away with it for longer with out too may people noticing. (although that may now change as I send this out to all my readers!) The other thing is having a whole ‘internal’ conversation about how long do you allow your hair to go grey with out colouring it? At what point do I decide to colour it? Do I allow nature to take its course? I love my hair colour because its what I call ‘dirty blonde’. This means its such a mixture of colour in it and its my colour. I then panic that no hairdresser would be able to give me my own colour because it is so mixed.
And I am sure  someone is reading this right now thinking, “Bloody hell! What a conversation to have!”

Well I do like to do deep and meaningful every once in a while.
Now I am not even going to ask the next question. At what point do you find grey hairs elsewhere?!
If any of you feel a great urge to share your ‘grey hair moments’ please feel free. I await with anticipation and a bottle ready!

p.s. I have just had an ‘enlightening’ moment after coming out of the shower. If I say white or silver it feels so much better. More refined!!

Forthcoming events:

  1. Client networking event.  Monday10th July 06 4.30 – 6.00pm      at Stourbridge, West Midlands.
  2. Ladies Day at Brockencote Hall. 7th event Wed 4th October 06.  Cost; £99.50 For ladies who want to take time out, relax, take stock and learn ways of developing your potential.
  3. Group Coaching - Dramatherapy course the first Saturday of each month starting Saturday October 7th 06 finishing Saturday June 2nd 07 at Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton.  Time; 9.00 – 1.00 Cost; £95.00
  4. 1 day Presentation Course including voice coaching and assertiveness. Dates to be confirmed. Contact me for details.
  5. 1 day workshops on ‘Playfulness’ and ‘Powerful Coaching Questions. Dates to be confirmed. Contact me for details.
  6. 2 day Introductory Course to Dramatherapy. Sat 30th Sept and Sund 1st Oct 9.00-6.00 both days.  £220 For anyone with an interest in finding out about the potential for the therapeutic healing of Dramatherapy.
  7. Coach Party Weekend in the Malverns. Frid evening 30th June through to Sunday 2nd July finish dinnertime. £175.00 This is for coaches who want to re-energise reminding themselves why they coach. You will practise your coaching skills, play, walk and connect with other likeminded coaches. Facilitated by Mandy Gutsell and Tony Barton.
  8. There are a selection of coaching forums I facilitate for Professional Coaches in the Midlands. One is through the Association for Coaching and the other through my Co-Active Network. If you are a coach and would like to be kept informed of these dates please contact me.

For further details, flyers and to book on the events contact me by e-mail; mandy@knowlimitscoach.com or 01384 866459/07951 229941

Resource of the month:

I have a few goodies to wet your appetite so hopefully you will find something of interest.

All the artwork has been created by Louis Parsons an Artist and Coach. He has a wonderful gift for integrating the Artist and Coach in him, creating inner/self portraits of the person he works with. Louis works with individuals and commissioning for organisations who want to bring their vision ‘to life’. I have recently had the pleasure of experiencing Louis’s work with my own inner portrait. Needless to say its fairly bold!!

Jon Willis is a coach who loves to take his clients to bold and adventurous places. Jon’s blog is very honest, real and down to earth. He certainly tells it as it is. Jon is also my coach so for those of you who have been moaning about me increasing my fees……..yes he’s the man to blame! Jon’s fees are a reflection of how much he is willing to show up for his clients.

I have been a member of a local business referral networking group for about 4 years now. The wealth of resource if offers any business or organisation is amazing. Everything from accountants, cleaners, florists, handy man, car mechanic………you name it, its there. I would actively encourage anyone who lives in the Midlands area to contact me and visit as my guest one morning. We meet early every Friday morning and I will even pay for your breakfast!!
There are other business groups run in the same format all over the Country and world wide. So you can gain a wider perspective by visitng;

In the last newsletter I told my readers I would like to hear more from them. That is an ongoing request. Perhaps you have implemented some advice taken from the newsletter and would like to give me some feedback. Perhaps something you have read has inspired further ‘food for thought’. Perhaps you have a letter for the ‘Dear Mailbag’. Perhaps you have a book report or resource of the month you think would be useful for the readers. Perhaps you have a ‘Grey Moment’ to share! I am also wanting to create more speaking engagements based on the inspirations of all I am sharing in my newsletters. If any of you know any Organsiation, Conference or Dinners that are looking for Speakers I would appreciate you forwarding my contact to them. Please e-mail me with any thoughts you may have. I value connection with my readers.
Warm smiles….Mandy and Caylee.

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