Posted: by Jo Friday, 27 May 2022 @ 07:47
I have been loving the warm weather in May, and taken the chance to spend a lot of time outside.
One particularly lovely weekend...
...we hired a boat on the Thames at Henley - close to where I was brought up – and spent a very happy few hours motoring up and down the river, through various locks and past many beautiful houses.
It was wonderful to be back around my childhood haunts – the boatyard, where we spent many hours messing around; the park by the river, which was the site of many childhood picnics; and Henley itself, which is a beautiful Edwardian town with the river running through it.
That same weekend, we were lucky enough to get tickets to a mini food and music festival in the park in Marlow, which made me feel like Summer really is on the way.
Pub in the Park Marlow 2022
The Queen's Jubilee
Talking of Summer - in preparation for the celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee, we put in place a superb offer to help everyone celebrate – 20% off everything, from Friday 27th May to Sunday 6th June.
It is our way of saying thank you to all of you for your loyalty to Mantra over the years, as well as taking the chance to join in the national celebrations for the Queen. It’s early days, but it looks like many of you have really appreciated the offer.
It’s still pretty tough out there, in terms of cost of living increases, especially food and fuel. But the government are at least stepping in a little, to help the people who are worst off in all of this. Along with most business owners, I really hope we can avoid a recession, as the country needs and wants to move forwards positively after the pandemic.
Mantras to tackle exam stress...
This month has also been a month of revision stress in many households, as exam time approaches. My soon-to-be-17-year-old nephew is in a freefall panic about his gateway exams – mocks, as they were called in my day – and it’s hard to know how to help. When the pressure is coming from the boy himself – not his parents or his school – it is hard to reassure him that the results aren’t the be-all and end-all of life.
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I well remember that overwhelming feeling of what if I fail?, or even – what if I simply don’t get the grades that I need? If I had known then what I know now, I would have sat myself down and written a mantra.
When I had the same panicked feeling as the London Marathon approached, and I had not done nearly enough training and was not fit enough, the voices of doom and failure in my head drowned out any attempts to train, adding to the despair. Writing out all the bad thoughts -and then flipping them to a positive – helped me enormously. I realised that I only had to do ‘enough’: enough to get round; enough to finish; enough to survive the course.
That one word – ‘enough’ – became my mantra, to stop all the negative chit-chat in my head and get me through the training.
So, my advice to my nephew was this: you only have to do enough to get the grades you need. Make a clear revision plan; prioritise the most important topics and the ones you are least sure of; rope your family in to help, to create more time for revision; and stop your brain from catastrophising by thinking about all that comes next – applying to uni, writing your personal statement, taking your actual A-levels next year – because all of that can wait. Right now – just focus on the immediate priorities, and do ‘enough’.
My latest recommendation is...
I have, as ever, been doing a lot of reading this month. My latest recommendation is a superb book called ‘Bittersweet’, by Susan Cain. She wrote a book about the quiet power of introverts, a couple of years ago – but this new one is absolutely the one for me.
It talks about people who love listening to sad songs over happy songs; who get moved to tears by upsetting tv ads; who yearn for beauty and awe in their lives; who gravitate towards books and movies and stories with traditionally ‘unhappy’ endings: people who love the ‘bittersweet’ tradition: people like me.
I recognised myself in every chapter, and felt like it was the first book that has really accurately described me! A wonderful read, and encouraging to find that there are many people out there just like me.
Well, that’s me signing off for this month, as I have a few days’ holiday in France over the Jubilee weekend. I look forward to catching up with everyone next month!