Talking About Love

In the hours after publishing my previous post – The Magic of March – I worried I hadn’t sounded positive or excited enough about my wonderful engagement news.

I read it back a few times. Had my realness and vulnerability tipped into negativity? Was it wise to share my mixed feelings? Should I have kept my grief, loss or sadness to myself and focused on the happy stuff?

But then some feedback started to come in. Some readers had found my blog moving, life-affirming and positive. For some, my words had affirmed their own journeys and made them feel less alone.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings and stories with me. Hearing from you makes me feel less alone. It helps me heal my sadness. It affirms my journey. It inspires me to continue to write and it gives me purpose.

I was heartened to hear I’m not the only woman who has felt somewhat thrown by a marriage proposal and who’s had to process a whole range of feelings, not exclusively joyful ones. We are complex beings and our lives, in many cases, don’t look like the storybooks we read as children or the Hollywood movies or British romantic comedies we grew up on, particularly if we’re in our forties or fifties before that proposal comes. A marriage proposal is one of those milestones that stops us in our tracks and prompts us to look back over our lives and assess the journey we’ve been on and the choices we’ve made, conscious or otherwise, as well as to look forwards to the new life ahead.

raspberriesSaying ‘Yes’ to marriage later in life, say at 46 rather than 36 or 26, and joining our lives with another also requires a bigger mental and emotional shift than if we were younger. In many cases, we’ve got used to our identity as a single person or as an unmarried partner. Taking on the role of wife or husband requires a deep breath and a leap of faith. If we haven’t been married before or been in long-term relationships, it may be we have a fear of commitment and that fear isn’t going to evaporate when a proposal comes. That wouldn’t be real.

I wonder, too, if my engagement news triggered some difficult feelings in some of you. I know I’ve felt triggered over the years when friends or acquaintances have shared their happy news – engagements, weddings, babies and so forth – particularly on Facebook where everyone seems to lead such a charmed life. When I’ve heard their news, as well as feeling joy for them, I’ve also been reminded of all the dreams that haven’t come true for me. I’ve felt pain. I’ve wondered when my time would come. If that’s you, I get it. I’ve felt it too. It’s okay. It’s normal. Can I suggest you allow the feelings to come to the surface, that you allow yourself some space to heal, to cry perhaps? Do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. That’s what I’ve done in the past and it’s helped.

I believe it’s important to acknowledge all of our feelings, to accept that we are complex people whose emotional lives aren’t black and white. If we don’t, we’ll end up brushing the feelings we deem to be unacceptable under the carpet and they’ll stay there, festering, niggling away at us, sabotaging our happiness, enveloping us in shame.

So I hope my writing – either on this blog or in my book – somehow gives you permission to accept all of yourself and to love all of yourself. That’s how we heal. If my honesty can help you be a bit more honest with yourself and with others and to bring some of those hidden feelings out into the open, then I’m delighted.

Lunchtime Love-InIf you enjoy this blog and/or if it helps you, I wonder if you’d like to join me this week as I share some more thoughts on love – self-love and falling in love – via live video. I’ll be hosting a Lunchtime Love-In every every day this week at 1 pm for 20-30 minutes on my Facebook business pagewww.facebook.com/KatherineBaldwinUK/

Just like or follow my page to access the video. No cost involved. It would be wonderful to have you along. The videos will also be available on the page for you to watch at any time if you can’t join me live. I’ll be sharing some of the steps from my book – How to Fall in Love – A 10-Step Journey to the Heart – and discussing how to connect with our feelings, tap into our intuition, build our self-esteem, love ourselves and build the solid foundations required to fall in love and stay in love. I’ll also be talking about how to navigate the inevitable challenges of relationships – romantic and otherwise.

I also have a closed Facebook group – Being Real, Becoming Whole – so if you’re interested in living wholeheartedly and authentically and are looking for a supportive place to share your feelings and to discuss taking courageous action in your life, be that in dating and romance, in your work or in another area, do have a think about joining us in that group.

And if you’d like to go deeper and work through any obstacles to love as part of a small group of like-minded women, you may like to think about joining one of my How to Fall in Love courses. I have a four-week course starting April 24th.

Otherwise, do keep reading and do keep commenting if you feel able. It’s powerful to be heard and understood and I hope that you also feel heard and understood when you read thoughts or feelings that you can identify with on this blog.

This blog, in many ways, was the start of my own journey to love, or at least it was a milestone on that journey. It was the beginning of a new path, of a new realness and vulnerability. It opened doors to a new form of writing and journalism after years of writing daily news stories. It gave me freedom. It allowed me to express all of myself. It gave me permission to be me.

I hope that in some small way it gives you permission to be you too.

Posted in Childless, Happiness, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Acceptance, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Magic of March

My 46th birthday. How to Fall in Love published in paperback. A marriage proposal. That’s the magic of March.

When it comes to March, I’m biased.

It’s my birth month and I’ve never shied away from celebrating the day I came into this world, so my memories of March feature birthday picnics and frisbee games in the park in Oxford with my university chums; karaoke nights and dinners out with my girlfriends in London; skiing in glorious sunshine in the French Alps and dancing in ski boots; and one particularly vivid memory of darting into the sea in my birthday suit with my partner on the nudist beach close to my home in Poole. I also see March as a spring month of hope and new beginnings, a time when we get a hint of the sunshine to come and we start imagining long summer days, a month of bright yellow daffodils.

March 2017, however, will go down in my personal history as a truly momentous month.

On March 7th, on International Women’s Day, I published the paperback of How to Fall in Love – A 10-Step Journey to the Heart. The theme of International Women’s Day this year was ‘Be Bold for Change’ and I was certainly being bold by publishing my book.

You may think, because I’ve been writing this blog for five years, because I’ve been a journalist for more than 20 years and because I’ve been writing another book for four years, that publishing a book wouldn’t be such a huge deal. But if you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know a little bit about me. You’ll have read about my fear, my low self-esteem, my deep sense of imposter syndrome and the sometimes crippling perfectionism I’ve had since I was a little girl. You’ll also have read about all the work I’ve been doing on myself to overcome those obstacles – about the personal growth and personal development marathon I’ve been running since I was in my early thirties.

With all that in mind, publishing How to Fall in Love was a huge feat that required tremendous effort, huge amounts of adrenaline and a conscious decision every day to wrestle my inner saboteur to the ground, challenge my perfectionism, walk through my fear and get on with pursuing my dreams.

Next came my 46th birthday, the day after my partner’s 51st birthday, spent under blue skies on a ski holiday in the French Alps. While away, we reminisced about the previous March when we’d finalised the purchase of our first home together over the phone from the slopes, feeling ridiculously middle-class.

My 46th was lovely, but as with all my birthdays in my forties, it brought a hint of sadness and some familiar thoughts. How on earth did I get here, to this age and stage, without acquiring the trappings of ‘normal’ life – marriage and kids? My life wasn’t supposed to look like this. How come it took me so long to find happiness and love? I remembered, though, to be grateful for what I had – a beautiful relationship with a lovely man, writing and coaching work I enjoyed, good health, family and friends, a published book and bags of hope – and to keep my focus on that.

Then, on Friday March 17th, St Patrick’s Day, I sat down to a hot chocolate piled high with whipped cream at a mountain-top restaurant at Col de la Chal, across from my partner and alongside a few of our friends, and admired the spectacular views.

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My partner opened up a packet of Haribo sweets for his mid-morning snack and pulled out a red and yellow ring. I imagined he’d gobble it up fast before anyone had a chance to comment on it (he had a habit of avoiding anything marriage-related – he’d always get up fast if he found himself on his knees or shuffle awkwardly at the mention of weddings). But to my surprise (and his, it seems), he placed it on my finger – that finger.

Immediately, I started to cry. I’m not sure exactly why, but I have a feeling I was crying because I understood in that moment that a marriage proposal might happen eventually, even if not there and then, and that was a very moving, emotional prospect, given the journey I’d been on and the journey we’d been on as a couple. Then, as I wiped the tears away, hiding behind my sunglasses and my hot chocolate, my partner slipped onto his knees on the other side of the table, slowly found his words after stumbling over them a little and popped the question. And I said yes.

Wow. Wow, indeed.

When I began writing this blog just after my 40th birthday, did I imagine that one day I would blog about a marriage proposal? When I first met my partner, on a cycling trip in Cornwall soon after starting this blog, did I imagine he would be the one I’d agree to spend my life with? When I launched my How to Fall in Love course and began coaching women to have healthy relationships with themselves and others and to fall in love, did I imagine that I’d be sharing my engagement news with them? And when I wrote in the introduction to my book that ‘my partner and I aren’t married yet, but I believe we will be when the time is right’, did I imagine that just nine days after publication, that sentence would require an update? As I wrote in the book, I thought it might happen some day, but I imagined it might take him a few more years to ask. Nor was I sure if I was ready, despite appearing to be on the surface and apparently often dropping hints. It’s easy to load all the commitment issues onto him, but I had my own deep-rooted reservations about tying the knot.

I wonder, too, if I could have imagined how I’d feel in the weeks following the proposal.

As you’ll notice, two weeks have passed since he asked me to marry him and I said yes. For some of that time, we were getting in touch with family and close friends, not wanting them to find out via social media.

But I was also processing a complex array of feelings, as I think he was too. We joked about a 14-day cooling off period like you get when you sign up to a new electricity provider (that ended today!) but while I never considered backing out, I had plenty of emotions to work through before I was ready to announce it to my friends on Facebook (which bizarrely feels like the act that sets it in stone).

In the past two weeks, I have felt elation and excitement – I remember skiing off with the Haribo ring under my ski glove and a big smile on my face – but I’ve also felt fear and trepidation. Marriage is a big deal – my memories of my parents’ marriage and subsequent divorce are unhappy ones and the idea of making such a huge commitment to my partner is a scary one. No wonder I had to get to 46 and do so much work on myself to be able to say Yes. My childhood experiences have left a legacy, as I imagine yours may have done.

I felt worried at first that I wasn’t feeling exclusively joyful – have I made the wrong decision? Should I have a rethink? But then I remembered – I am me. How could I go from being an ambivalent, commitment-phobic, indecisive, complex, not particularly straightforward woman to being the complete opposite in a flash? It wasn’t possible. Mixed feelings were inevitable. And I wouldn’t be real and this blog wouldn’t be worthwhile if I didn’t share them with you.

I’ve also felt some disappointment. I’m not a youthful princess in a fairy-tale being whisked away to a castle on a white steed by my prince, my dress billowing behind me. I’m a real, 46-year-old woman with a complicated history in a real relationship that requires negotiation and compromise and with a man who has his own past and his own wonderful idiosyncrasies.

And then there’s the bitter sweetness, the joy mixed with the sense of loss – the sadness that my life hasn’t followed a ‘normal’ path, that I’m 46 not 36 and that my marriage won’t lead to a family. That’s been a tough one to digest. Accepting his proposal felt like the definitive end of the fantasy of ending up with a couple of kids.

In previous years and particularly when I was single, I believe the desire I felt at times to have children was because I wanted to fill a hole, to medicate my loneliness and sadness, to fix my brokenness. I also wanted to try to heal the wounds of my past by creating the family I always wanted to have as a child – the family unit that stayed together with the perfect mum and dad. I still feel some of that, the child inside me still longs for healing and for a perfect family, but the desire I’ve felt recently (on and off, not all the time) to create a family has been different.

I remember clearly someone saying to me that the problem of falling in love with someone is you want to expand that love, make it bigger, grow it into something more. That’s how I feel now. I love him and sometimes I want to create more of him, more of us.

But I have arrived here late, as so many of us do, and I forgive myself for that and anyone else I might momentarily want to blame. And I have always been ambivalent about motherhood, as I explained in my book and as I’ve written about on this blog.

IMG_4593So I will embrace the miracle that is my relationship, the miracle that is the two of us (maybe three if we get a dog). I will cherish the beauty of his mountain-top proposal and the uniqueness of the Haribo ring (although I believe someone proposed on Holby City with a Haribo ring the other night – copy cats).

I will embrace my journey to love, with all its twists and turns, and his journey, and the beautiful way in which our paths have met and converged into one.

I will practise acceptance and gratitude for everything that I have. I have a companion, a life-partner, a fiancé, a husband-to-be. I have laughter, silliness, affection, love and touch every day. And I have a ring to choose and a wedding to plan and plenty of friends and family to enjoy it all with.

Thank you, dear readers, for walking with me on this journey to love. I wish you all the best with yours x

Posted in Childless, Happiness, Love, Perfectionism, Recovery, Relationships, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Celebrating courage

It was International Women’s Day yesterday, a day when we celebrate our female icons and all the courageous things they’ve done over the years, a day when we speak out for women everywhere, trying to make sure women and girls have a voice and have the same opportunities as men.

I took a courageous step yesterday, on a much smaller scale than our heroines throughout the ages, but it was a courageous step all the same. I walked through my own fears. I fought for my own voice.

Yesterday evening, I published the paperback of my book How to Fall in Love – A 10-Step Journey to the Heart.

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This was much harder than publishing the Kindle version, which went live on Valentine’s Day. Putting my book in paperback required a lot more courage.

My inner perfectionist went wild for a few weeks. She obsessed over inverted commas, Oxford commas, conjunctions and margins (do we take off 5 millimeters or 7, 5 millimeters or 7? How can I be sure?)

I don’t have the constitution to write and publish a book, I kept saying, as I lost sleep worrying about how I would be judged for repeating a word in the same paragraph or for getting an idiom wrong. There were tears. There were times when I ran along the beach shouting out for help.

Why do I find this so hard? Why am I so scared? I know why, and the reasons go deep, the fear goes way back. There’s a deep insecurity – a desire to be universally liked, loved and approved of that began in my childhood. And there’s a perfectionism that’s crippling and paralysing at times.

But I’m slowly realising that being universally loved is a childish fantasy. That’s not the real world. That’s not adulthood. And perfection doesn’t exist.

I’m slowly getting over myself.

Because I have to. I don’t have a choice. The pain of being silent, of not creating, of not going for my dreams and not publishing my words is becoming far greater than the pain and anguish I had to go through to put my book in print.

So I did it. I took the plunge. I bit the bullet.

My book is out in paperback.

And now I’d love your help. I’d love you to share this post or the link to my book with your friends and contacts. I’d love your support. I’d love my book to climb up Amazon’s lists and I’d love to get some reviews. If you can share my book, that’s wonderful. If you can’t, thank you for cheering me on all the same.

I hope by walking through my fears and getting my voice out into the world, I’ve encouraged you to make a bold choice and to go for your dreams, despite your fears, your anxieties and any anguish you feel.

If I can do it, I believe you can too.

If you’re wondering what the book is about, here’s a summary from the back cover:

Poignant, intimate, shockingly honest and inspiring’

Tricia Walker, Author of Benedict’s Brother

‘Katherine’s step-by-step process is transformative’

Nicola Humber, Author of Heal Your Inner Good Girl

Are you struggling to understand why you’re single or why none of your relationships work out? Do you find yourself drawn to unavailable types or to people who won’t commit? Do you look on with bemusement as friends find partners, wondering if you’ll ever meet your match? How to Fall in Love will help.

This timely book is a dating and relationships guide with a difference. It’s for people who want more than superficial advice and who are ready and willing to explore the real reasons for their singleness.

Katherine Baldwin takes you on a transformational journey, helping you to change unhealthy patterns, mature emotionally, build your self-esteem and make bold choices so that you can form a loving partnership, as she has done.

How to Fall in Love is about much more than dating, however. It’s about learning to thrive, not just survive. It’s about fulfilling your dreams, whether you are single or not, and creating a life that’s aligned with the desires of your heart.

Thank you!

Posted in Creativity, Empowerment, Love, Perfectionism, Relationships, Women, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

V for Valentine’s, V for Victory

“The best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times – although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile … For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last block on a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

how-to-fall-in-love-ebookFor the last five weeks, I have been stretching my body and mind to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. I have written, rewritten, revised and self-published a book called How to Fall in Love – A 10-Step Journey to the Heart. It went live on Amazon Kindle yesterday – Valentine’s Day – and will be available in paperback by March 1st.

It is a massive achievement. I am incredibly proud of myself. In fact, when I open up my book on my Kindle, I can’t quite believe I’m an author with a book in print – and I haven’t even seen a paperback yet.

As some of my regular readers will know, I’ve been writing another book for more than four years – a book that began as a journalistic exploration of the phenomenon of hitting 40 as a high-achieving woman without a partner and without children and that later morphed into a memoir, tracing my story from 40 to 45 as I came to terms with not being a mum and fell in love.

That book is still there, stored in a computer file, but I haven’t finished it yet. In fact, I stole quite a few ideas, anecdotes and scenes from that book to put in How to Fall in Love, which makes me feel sad in some ways but it felt the right thing to do.

My old book was heading the way of my new book anyway. It had become less about my baby angst and motherhood dilemmas and more about the experience of working through all my relationship difficulties and self-sabotaging behaviours to be able to fall in love and to fulfill my dream of living by the sea.

That’s because my baby angst had subsided as I had got older – as motherhood had seemed less likely, as I’d committed to a partner who didn’t want kids and as I’d realised I’d always been ambivalent about being a mum and was even more so in my early to mid-forties.

So the book I have produced is the book that’s right for now. I self-published it because I couldn’t wait (although I didn’t have an agent or publisher either – I didn’t try).

I couldn’t hear one more story about a woman who had fallen for a married man or for a bloke with a girlfriend without feeling that I needed to share what I had learned over the years as I have worked through and let go of my own attraction to unavailable men.

I couldn’t meet another 40-something female who was grieving because she’d missed out on the chance of biological motherhood because she couldn’t find a guy to love in time without writing about the journey I’d been on – learning to soften, change my patterns, reassess my type, face my fears of commitment and fall in love.

I couldn’t wait.

If you’ve been following my blog, some of the topics I discuss in the book will be familiar to you. I talk about the need to let go of the fantasy of the perfect partner or the myth of Mr Right. I discuss how we need to stop working so hard and do more of the things that make our heart sing so that we’re in a better place for love.

I also write about the idea of the Ideal, the Ordeal and the Real Deal in relationships. That’s the theory of relationship expert and author Harville Hendrix who says we need to mature enough emotionally in order to push through the difficult, messy stage of a relationship – the time when you have to negotiate boundaries, manage difference and accept our partner is never going to be perfect – in order to find our way to the Real Deal. If we can’t do this, we’ll just keep chasing the Ideal – and we’ll be single for a long time. I thank my therapist and my friends for helping me to get through the Ordeal so I could have the Real Deal.

In the book, I share plenty of my own dating dilemmas and mishaps – all the times I decided a man wasn’t good enough for me because I was too scared of emotional intimacy and all the times I looked for love in the wrong places, in food, in external validation or in the arms of a guy who was attached to someone else.

So if you’ve enjoyed my blogs over the years, you’ll love my book. And I’d love you to read it. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a Kindle app and read the book on any device, your phone, tablet etc (see my book page for details of how to do that). And if you’d like the paperback (I wouldn’t blame you because the cover is gorgeous – designed by Briony of Goldustdesign, who I share a co-working space with at The Old School House in Bournemouth), keep your eye on this blog, on my Twitter feed or my website and I’ll let you know when it’s out. You could also take a look at this Facebook live video from yesterday evening, in which I excitedly share the publication of my book and some of its contents.

raspberriesAlso, if you’d like to work through the steps in this book with me and a small group of like-minded women, check out my next ‘How to Fall in Love‘ course that starts March 27.

But back to the quote I began this blog with.

I have most definitely stretched myself to finish this book. There were times when I worried I was back in my workaholic mode, abandoning my self-care and harming myself. Perhaps I did, a little bit. I worked too many hours. I forgot to eat (a bizarre sensation for someone who used to binge every time she had a deadline) and I forgot to go to the loo. I abandoned housework, food shopping (I thank my wonderful partner for stepping in and keeping me well nourished) and I neglected my other storytelling and PR work. I almost ran out of petrol and I completely ran out of lipstick (that’s the biggest disaster!).

But it was for a very short period. I only worked really intensely for a couple of weeks. And I made sure I spent the first few minutes of everyday grounding myself, meditating, saying a prayer and reading one of my daily readings (or pretty much every day, I let a few days slip right at the end when I got up at ridiculous o’clock to do the final edits).

My perfectionism reared its ugly head but I accepted that my perfectionism is part of me and it helps me to achieve amazing results. And I accomplished what was a hugely ambitious goal of publishing my book on Valentine’s Day.

V for Valentine’s. V for Victory.

Because in the end, I think I have written a really important book that will help a lot of people. It’s not perfect, of course. But it’s there. It exists. I walked through my fears and I put it out there into the world. Instead of filing away pages and pages of research and draft versions of books in boxes (as I have done with my other book over the years), I uploaded this one to Kindle. I released it.

I put into practice all the suggestions from all those inspirational self-help books I’ve been reading for years. I took the advice of Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic and of Brené Brown in all her wonderful books – to get over myself, to just do it, to get into the arena.

A M A Z I N G

So, dear readers, if you have a dream, go for it. Absolutely go for it. Prioritise it. Clear the decks of other stuff. Focus your mind. Invest your energy in something truly worthwhile. Because once you’ve done it, once you’ve walked through your fears, they don’t feel so scary anymore (I’m already thinking about my next book!).

I’ve spent years working incredibly hard but not necessarily for me – for someone else. I’ve exerted myself for a multinational or for a boss. This time, it was for me and I’m so so proud.

So share the love, buy a copy of my book or share the link with friends and colleagues.

And bear in mimg_4410ind How to Fall in Love is not just for single people and it’s not just about dating and relationships. It’s for anyone who wants to go on a journey of transformation – to learn to love themselves, prioritise their dreams, work through their blocks and create a life they truly love.

It’s about flourishing and thriving. It’s about doing what I am learning to do. Enjoy x

Posted in Addiction, Childless, codependency, Dating, Happiness, Love, Perfectionism, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Acceptance, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yin and Yang

“What’s it like to be loved by me?” I asked last night, kind of joking.

“Intense,” he said with a laugh.

“Intense?” I replied, in quite a high pitch. “Intense?” But I couldn’t help laughing along with him.

“Intense isn’t how I’d describe your love,” I said after a while, a little put out. “I’d say it was … hmm … I’d call it … ”

“Steadfast?” he offered.

“Yes, actually, steadfast. That’s a good word. That sums it up. Steadfast,” I answered, feeling reassured.

So my love is intense and dramatic, a bit like me. I’m a person of extremes. I have my emotional peaks and troughs – the peaks are high peaks and the troughs are pretty deep.

My partner, on the other hand, is steady, steadfast, solid.

And I absolutely love that about him, although I wasn’t sure at first.

I thought I needed someone like me. I think I was looking for a carbon copy of myself. I thought I wanted someone intense, dramatic and extreme. I thought that was the best way to be.

But it turns out I needed the opposite. I needed steady, steadfast and reassuring. I needed someone who’d help me feel more peaceful, who’d calm me down. I needed someone who’d be there, consistently.

I’m delighted I matured enough to realise that. I’m delighted I did lots of work on myself. I’m delighted I allowed myself to be transformed through recovery, therapy, studying, reading and sharing so I could understand what I really needed.

And I’m now absolutely delighted to be able to share that journey and everything I’ve learned with others, through this blog, through my book (it’s getting written and I’ll have at least one book out this year, hopefully two – promise) and through my courses.

When I do this work, write my blog, plan my love course, it feels like I’m exactly in the right place, doing exactly what I was meant to do – using my experience, including the heartache, the pain and all the light bulb moments, to help others.

I feel honoured and privileged to be offering ‘How to Fall in Love – A Six-Week Journey to the Heart’,my course for single women that starts this Monday. I feel privileged that seven women so far have put their faith in me, have begun to share their stories and their struggles with me, have seen something in me that they believe can help them on their journey to a happy, healthy, loving relationship with themselves and with a partner.

If this sounds like a journey you’d like to go on, and you’d like to do it in company and with support, I have three places left on the course. There’s still time. Just check out the link and drop me a line.

I was thinking about time today. How it’s our most precious commodity. Along with health and love. Time. Sometimes, when I’m having one of those really loved up moments, I feel a pang of sadness that it took my partner and I so long to get together in a committed way, and that it took so many years for me to find him, for us to find each other. But I’m grateful we’re together now. I’m grateful I resolved all my indecision and made a choice to be with him.

We went on a trip to Lyme Regis today, to walk along the Cobb, eat fish and chips sitting on a wall and to wander around the shops.

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Lyme Regis, 2013

And I remembered, vividly, being there a few years before, in 2013, walking on the same promenade with a friend. I remember having a cup of tea with her in the sunshine and talking about my partner, or my ex-partner at that point – we’d got together but then I’d finished it so I wasn’t with him at that time. I remember sharing my indecision, how much I liked him but how I wasn’t sure, how I thought there had to be someone else, someone more suited, someone different, someone who wanted kids, someone more this or more that, someone …

lymeregis2017

Lyme Regis, 2017

I’m so pleased I worked through all those dilemmas, all those reasons why I thought he wasn’t the right guy, why I didn’t think he was good enough or this enough or that enough. I’m so pleased I made a positive choice to be with him. I’m so pleased I didn’t keep searching for that elusive someone else. And I’m so pleased I get to enjoy his steadfast love – and laugh when he calls me intense.

I hope you too can find the Yin to your Yang.

Posted in Childless, Dating, Happiness, Recovery, Relationships, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Becoming more whole

heartonbeach

I’m so grateful for the sound of the sea this morning and for the band of bright sunlight on the horizon. And I’m grateful for the cold breeze and the wet sand.

My walk on the beach just now lifted my spirits, which were a bit low when I woke up this  morning.

Nothing terrible. No drama. No tears, although there were some just beneath the surface. Just feeling a little low, a little tired, a little overwhelmed. Quite a lot to do. But that’s OK. It’s January 6. The year’s only just started. I can go easy on myself. I can take a breather, put my emotional health first.

As I walked, the phrase ‘becoming whole’ came to mind and that’s what I was going to call this blog post. But then I checked my archives – I used that title in a post in February last year – so I’m calling this one ‘becoming more whole’ instead. I also used the image of the oak tree in last year’s post, which I was also going to use today. That’s the picture that comes to me whenever I think of the process of becoming more whole, more solid, more grounded, more steady, more sure of who I am – the thick, solid trunk of the oak tree and its deep roots reaching far into the ground.

All that’s still relevant but I was thinking of the idea of ‘becoming whole’ today in the context of finding love.

Love is on my mind right now, and on my heart. It’s also in my heart, because I’m in love. But it’s on my mind because starting on January 16, I’ll be running a six-week programme in which I’ll be drawing on everything I’ve learned over more than a decade of personal development, transformation, therapy and recovery to help single, professional women find love and I’m looking for the best ways to explain what the course is all about and to make sure I get the message to anyone who’s meant to hear it.

One of my goals with How to Fall in Love – A Six-Week Journey to the Heart is to help you become more whole. I believe that the more grounded, centred and complete we are on the inside, the more likely we are to attract healthy people into our lives and to be attracted to people who can meet our needs and bring us joy.

oakI believe that the more we can develop our inner oak the more equipped we’ll be to say Yes when we mean Yes and No when we mean No. I believe it’ll be easier to set healthy and loving boundaries with ourselves and others, so we keep our promises to ourselves when we’re dating or entering into new relationships (promises such as I won’t get physical with him/her until I’ve got to know him/her a bit better, or I’ll commit to only checking my phone once a day, or I’ll make sure I don’t fantasise, obsess or compulsively pursue this person, or I’ll make space for self-care and other friendships in the early days of any courtship, or I’ll make sure I go along to dates with my self-esteem and self-worth intact, knowing that I deserve a healthy, loving relationship).

I also believe we’ll be more in tune with what we want and need in a relationship. We’ll be able to let go of the Mr or Mrs Right thing and more willing to accept and embrace our own and others’ imperfections. We’ll be able to develop and maintain a relationship of equals, in which we both bring something wonderful to the table and we both respect each other’s idiosyncrasies. And we’ll make better choices because we’ll be more in tune with our intuition and our instinct and more able to take note of that tap on the shoulder or that feeling in our gut that tells us to stay or to go. We’ll also be able to discern more effectively whether that shoulder tap or that gut feeling is our instinct or our fear.

So these are just a few of the benefits of becoming more whole. It’s important to note the verb is ‘becoming’ – it’s a gradual, imperfect process. We won’t grow into an oak tree overnight. It’ll take time and steady work. But we’ll be moving in the right direction and the more we nurture and nourish our core, the more resilient we’ll be to the hiccups we’ll inevitably encounter along our dating and relationship journey.

lovewebsitescreenshotSo helping you along the ‘becoming whole’ journey is one aspect of my ‘How to Fall in Love’ course. I also want to encourage and inspire you to do things differently, take risks, have fun, hold things lightly, play, be open and willing, and to commit some quality time to this important aspect of your life that busy women so often ignore. There’ll be a private Facebook group where we can share our hopes, fears, fun times and mishaps and where I’ll be sharing some of my experiences and the things I’ve learned on the journey to love in live videos. I’ll also be inviting you to work on an element of your dating or relationship journey every week – an exercise, something to think about, work through or put into practice.

If this is for you, do take a look at the link to the course and do get in touch with any questions. And please forward the link to any friends. This course is for women only and I imagine professional women in their 30s, 40s and above would benefit most. There are just 10 spaces and I have a few wonderful women signed up already. You can join from anywhere in the world.

The investment I’m inviting you to make is £99. I’m not sure how that sits with your current financial situation but I know from experience of doing groups and courses myself that I am much more engaged when I’ve made a financial commitment.

I also know I want to make this a wonderful journey for you and I wouldn’t be able to do that if I was seriously undervaluing what I have to offer. As it is, I imagine I’ll need to charge more in the future because knowing myself, I’ll put my heart and soul into the course and, by the end, will understand its true value. You may already be invested in online dating sites and I know they’re not cheap, but I do believe that going on a journey such as this will help you save time and money going forward.

If you don’t know me and would like to get a feel for who I am, check out this Facebook live video from the beach. Please excuse the abrupt end – my battery died!

And this is what I look like when I’m happy, in love and in my element, hiking in the sunshine with my partner and friends on Jan 2nd:

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This picture represents how I want to live, love and work this year – passionately, wholeheartedly, joyfully and colourfully.

I believe we all have wonderful gifts to offer each other but sometimes we hold ourselves back. I’ve done that for years. But I’m finally allowing myself to work with my passion so I’m really excited about making a success of my love course.

I’m also excited about working with new coaching clients this year, helping people make leaps of faith and courageous life transitions towards more wholehearted, happy lives. I really want to support you, hold your hand as you do things differently and step into the unknown.

So I’m delighted that I’m finally trusting myself, my gifts, my knowledge and my experience and that I’m following my heart. As my therapist would say, I am developing confidence in my competence. My intention for 2017 is to develop that even more.

I wonder what your intentions are?

Posted in Childless, Dating, Happiness, Love, Recovery, Relationships, Women | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More festive feelings

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As often happens when I post a heartfelt blog, I’ve spent the last 24 hours pondering what I wrote about in Festive feelings and the feelings, festive and otherwise, that came up afterwards. Following a long walk on the beach this morning (glorious), I felt the need to wrap things up (Christmas pun intended) with a second post.

I was sharing yesterday that it’s OK to feel our feelings. That’s the message I got again this morning as I came back from my beach walk and read my daily reading in Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go (a wonderful book if you haven’t got it).

Today’s reading is entitled Feelings (she read my mind) and it starts:

“It’s okay to have and feel our feelings – all of them.”

She goes on:

“Many of us needed to shut down the emotional part of ourselves to survive certain situations. We shut down the part of us that feels anger, sadness, fear, joy, and love … But times have changed. It is okay now for us to acknowledge and accept our emotions.”

Thank you, Melody.

But perhaps what I didn’t acknowledge in yesterday’s post is that those close to me will have their feelings about Christmas too – their issues, their hurts, their disappointments, their stresses and their memories, good and bad.

So that goes for my late father and late step-mum, who I stayed with at Christmas when I was 18 and wrote about yesterday. They would have had their feelings around Christmas too. I just didn’t realise it at the time. I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to understand what was happening to me and what might have been happening to them, on the inside.

The same goes for mothers, siblings, partners, children and all those close to us. They’ll have their own memories, their own feelings about Christmas.

As you’ll have realised by now, I’m one of those people who wears their heart on their sleeve. My tears generally sit quite close to the surface and they don’t need much encouragement to roll down my cheeks. And after years of avoiding feeling my feelings – stuffing them down with food, numbing them with alcohol, hiding from them with excessive work and exercise – I’m now very much in touch with them. And I share them all over the internet.

That’s not the case for everyone. Some people aren’t aware of the pain and hurt they carry. It may be buried very deeply. They may not know it’s there or they may be too afraid to look at it. This was me for many years. Others know they have feelings but they don’t express them, they don’t know how to, they don’t have the language or the experience of doing so.

So this Christmas, I’d like to remember that just because others don’t show their feelings like I do, it doesn’t mean they don’t have them. I’d like to be sensitive to other people’s festive feelings. I’d like to make sure I’m aware that those around me may be struggling with their own Christmas memories, even if their feelings are hidden beneath the surface. I’d like to show patience, love and compassion for those around me and close to me. They may be hurting. Or they may be feeling stressed or disappointed. They may just have different ways of showing it to me.

On a more cheery note, the great thing about being in touch with your feelings, with all of your feelings, is that you’re in touch with all the good ones too. So I’m delighted that as well as feeling sadness, I can feel deep love, compassion and joy. I can be extra silly. I can dance around the kitchen in my pyjamas (I do often). I can get in touch with my playful inner child. I can delight in my friends and loved ones. I can feel wholly, completely and wonderfully alive.

That’s the benefit of feeling, of not being numb.

So, once again, I wish you a wonderful, wholehearted, magical Christmas, full of festive feelings of all kinds.

xx

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