Ambivalence and commitment

seaThis morning, I sat outside the beach hut, looked out at the vast expanse of sea before me and cried.

I cried because I’d just had a massive adrenaline come-down after writing a deeply personal article on ambivalence about motherhood for the Guardian: I feel grief and relief that I’ve never had children.

Although I’ve been doing this journalism thing for nearly 25 years, and I’ve been sharing my personal journey in the press for the last decade, it still terrifies me, especially when I only have 800 words to tell a hugely complex, nuanced story of fluctuating emotions that I struggle to make sense of myself, never mind communicate to anyone else.

I’m a vulnerable and sensitive soul with a skin that’s only just thickening after years of being paper thin. And while I crave to share my story and adore the jigsaw puzzle of writing, this level of visibility, with all its potential for criticism and judgement, is incredibly scary.

I also cried because writing that article and reading the 730 comments, plus the bundle of Facebook comments and emails I received afterwards – overwhelmingly positive, I’m thankful to say, empathetic, touching, affirming – has stirred my feelings around this topic of ambivalence and childlessness again.

At the beach today, I shed some tears for those beautiful children I will never have, that I’ll never see grow, mature, get married and have kids.

I cried joyful tears too for this wonderful life of mine, for the delicious cold of the sea water as I plunged beneath the surface, for the tingling in my body, for the brain freeze that helps to calm my ever-present anxiety, for the fact that I get to do this – swim in the sea, live near the beach, do whatever I like with my mornings, sit in the sun, hear the waves and soak up the peace.

I cried for the way sea swimming always makes me want to write. I cried for the joy of writing, for my passion for writing and for the huge possibilities ahead of me as I work through and finish my second book.

The wonderful feedback I received on yesterday’s article, and on some of my earlier blogs on this topic – Am I childless or childfree?; Ambivalence about motherhood; and the more general Ambivalence – confirms to me that I am a writer, that my writing touches people and that I deserve to give it time and space.

Thank you to those of you who have written to me, recently or in the past, with beautiful words about my beautiful words.

I cried because I’m getting married in two months and things are not how I expected them to be, especially now that my partner has been made redundant. Marrying an out-of-work 50-something was not part of my plan. Marrying at 48 wasn’t part of my plan either. But it’s our plan – a delightful, magical and challenging plan. And I love him and I’m committed to this journey we are both on, to walking side-by-side, through the rough and the smooth.

And I cried for my past, for my background, for my childhood that brought me to this wonderful, complex, nuanced, ambivalent place.

I guess this is where I’m meant to be.

Writing the Guardian piece and reading the comments also got me thinking about ambivalence on a broader level and about commitment. I wrote in my book that ambivalence runs through me like the candy swirl in a stick of Blackpool rock (here’s a link to Blackpool rock for my non-British readers). I explain why that is in some of my earlier blogs and in my book, so I won’t go into it here.

But I would like to reach out to any single people or people who are struggling in relationships because of ambivalence. And I would like to raise awareness about how damaging ambivalence can be, how it can sabotage our chances of happiness, how it can show up disguised as something else.

Ambivalence kept me single for years.

Every time I got close to a happy and healthy relationship, my ambivalence reared its ugly head, pointing out all manner of reasons why this man wasn’t right for me, finding fault with him, thinking the grass must be greener over there. I did this to my partner a number of times, leaving him to search for someone else, before returning to our relationship and committing to it.

But my ambivalence remains powerful. This weekend, it got my attention. Just two months off my wedding, it went into overdrive, finding fault with my husband-to-be. My fault-finding was driven by my fear, driven by my anxiety. As a life-long commitment-phobe, it’s not surprising that I’m incredibly anxious as I step into a life-long commitment.

I have since apologised to the beautiful, patient soul that is my partner.

If you are in the wrong relationship, if you are with someone who isn’t right for you, who can’t love you, commit to you or who won’t grow with you, then the chances are the grass is greener over there – that there is someone more suitable for you.

But if, like me, you struggle with ambivalence and indecision in other areas of your life, it is likely to be amplified when it comes to romantic relationships. And the closer you get to your dreams, to your chance of happiness, to real intimacy, to commitment, the more vocal that ambivalent voice will be.

So before you run off or wreck what you have, ask yourself if you’re afraid.

You may have to dig deep. Sometimes our fear is buried under all manner of excuses and seemingly valid reasons to walk away from a relationship. Sometimes we’re not even aware that we’re afraid.

But ask the question.

Am I scared?

Is it my fear or my instinct that’s telling me to run away?

I have a section on this ‘fear versus instinct’ question in my book. And I’ll be discussing it later this week on my Facebook page (see below). It’s a topic I’m hugely passionate about because of my own story and because I hear other people’s pain as they try and work things out.

Is it your fear or is it your instinct?

As I always say to my coaching clients and on my courses and retreats, you have your answers.

You have your own answers.

You may have to dig deep to find them. You may need support in drawing them out.

But you have your answers, if you are willing to look inside.

 

***Upcoming Events***

grassgreenerIs the grass greener? Understanding Commitment in Relationships Free Facebook Live Webinar, Thursday May 2, 1 pm. Recording available afterwards. On my Facebook business page.

If you missed my How to Find Someone to Love webinar last week (which you might have done as I forgot to post it on my blog – sorry) you can watch the recording here.

I have an amazing 5-week course starting on May 6 – How to Fall in Love – Laying the Foundations. It’s a small group video course for a maximum of 10 women, including 1:1 coaching and 5 group coaching calls. It’s transformative. Watch free previews here.

Free Facebook group, Being Real, Becoming Whole.

Join me on a Love Retreat in Spain or Turkey.

Email me at katherine@katherinebaldwin.com

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

Coming out of hiding

womanhiding

Are you in hiding?

Is the real you hidden behind a cloak of shame?

Are you keeping your true self under wraps out of fear or a sense of imposter syndrome?

Many of the women who come to me for coaching say they feel like they’re in hiding – hiding in their careers, in their relationships, in their lives, hiding their true selves.

It’s frustrating and exhausting to keep hiding. And it’s depressing.

I know because I’ve been there.

I was in hiding for years, but I’m gradually coming out as the real me. This blog, which I began eight years ago, was a major stepping stone on my ‘coming out’ journey and I’ll be forever grateful for my courage to start writing it, and for all of you who’ve read it and commented on it.

And my journey continues.

Today, I posted a blog on LinkedIn called Coming Out As Me and I’d like to share it here. It’s a long one!

****

It took me ages to change my LinkedIn profile to reflect my new career as a transformational coach, motivational speaker, writer and author of How to Fall in Love.

Why?

My ego got in the way, as did a cocktail of shame, fear, low self-esteem and my old friend, imposter syndrome.

Many of my LinkedIn connections knew me as a globetrotting journalist – a foreign correspondent for Bloomberg and Reuters and a political correspondent based in the UK Parliament (that would be an interesting place to be right now!).

And I figured I had your respect. They were cool jobs, with cool job titles and bags of kudos.

My ego liked the reaction I got when I told people that I flew around the world with prime ministers, went to drinks parties in Downing Street and press conferences in the White House, travelled in military planes in Afghanistan and Iraq and reported on earthquakes, tsunamis and terrorist attacks.

It still does, which is why I just wrote that.

I’d done good. The little girl from the single-parent family in Liverpool had made it, via Oxbridge, into the corridors of power and onto the front pages of newspapers.

But it didn’t fix how I felt inside.

Burnout and breakdown

I burnt out and broke down in that ‘Wow’ job. I over-worked and got over-stressed, because I was always compensating for not feeling good enough.

I also got to a point where I felt soul dead. I had changed. I wanted different things. I knew I was in the wrong job, but I felt trapped and clueless as to how to get out.

My career was my identity, the thing I’d worked so hard for. And it paid the substantial mortgage on my one-bedroom London flat.

Voluntary redundancy gave me my exit from Reuters but I had no idea what to do next. I meandered for a while, using my 20+ years of experience as a professional writer, journalist and communicator to help others to craft their messages and get PR. It made perfect sense.

Only I knew the real me was still itching to get out.

The courage to be me

And then, gradually, I found the courage to be me. I found the courage:

  • To write my truth, first on my blog, then in the media and then in my book – to write about burnout, breakdown, eating disorders, loneliness, dysfunctional relationships, grief, loss and a yearning for love
  • To coach people to love themselves, change their relationship patterns, stop self-sabotaging their happiness and to find love
  • To support people to find their passion, purpose and the courage to be true to themselves and follow their hearts, rather than stay stuck in a trap of their own making
  • To speak to corporates and women’s groups about how to achieve our potential while maintaining our mental, emotional and physical health and how to be real and vulnerable at work
  • To change my own relationship patterns and fall in love (getting married in June!)

And now my life and career make perfect sense. I can combine my writing and communication skills, my natural empathy and my life experience (including the heartache and pain) to help others.

I can especially help women who are stuck, like I was eight years ago: women who’ve been climbing a career ladder for years, achieving great things but feeling empty inside, wondering what on earth they’ve been striving for, wondering why they’re alone in their plush London flats or New York apartments, wondering why they haven’t found a partner yet and if they’ll ever have kids, wondering why they feel lost or depressed.

And it makes my skin tingle to think about the difference I can make.

It really does.

So if I’m so excited about my potential, why have I been so shy on LinkedIn?

I’ve always been too worried about what others think of me. I grew up without a secure base and developed low self-esteem. I have a craving to be universally liked, loved even. And I carry a lot of shame. It goes deep.

That’s why I don’t like shouting about what I do. That’s why I’ve designed my websites myself and not believed in myself enough to invest in my business. That’s why I develop amazing programmes like my new How to Fall in Love course and struggle to jump up and down about them (OK – so I just have – and it is amazing). That’s why I’ve failed, as yet, to get my book on booksellers’ websites in the U.S. That’s why I’m still prone to under-selling myself.

But I’m healing. I’m changing. I’m growing in courage every day. I’m here. I’m doing it. I’m not just thinking about it. I’m actually taking action. I’m finally getting over myself and doing what I can to get my work out into the world.

I’m finally coming out as me.

And I have nothing to be ashamed about, because I know I apply the same determination, commitment, professionalism and thoroughness to my second career as I did to my first. I am just as ambitious, conscientious and hard-working – but I’m ambitious for my own ongoing transformation and for yours.

How you can help

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I need your help.

You can help by cheering me on, by encouraging me to be true to myself.

You can help by asking me to speak to your business or team about the power of vulnerability or about how to achieve our potential while staying healthy and well.

You can share my coaching work or my writing with any women or men who are empty, lost or lonely, who are craving meaning or love, who want to break free but who feel stuck.

And, most importantly, you can help by being true to yourself, by coming out as you, by telling your truth.

That’s the biggest gift.

Thanks for hearing me, for bearing witness to my transformation.

***Upcoming events***

How to Fall in Love Five-Week Course with Coaching, starts April 8 for 10 women.

How to Fall in Love Spain Retreat, May 11-18, Cortijo Romero, Andalucia.

Love Yourself, Love Your Body, Love Your Life Find Love, Turkey Retreat with Yoga, Oct 7-14, Spectrum. Earlybird ends Feb 28.

To download Chapter One of my book, How to Fall in Love, go to: www.howtofallinlove.co.uk

Join my free Facebook Group, Being Real, Becoming Whole

Posted in Career change, Empowerment, Women, Work | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Lent of Love

lentofloveblog

Eight years ago, I sat on the loo at London’s Southbank Centre, glanced down at my thighs, shook my head from left to right, sighed out loud, and then made a decision.

No more, I said to myself. No more.

I’d just been attending an event highlighting the pervasiveness of eating disorders and self-harm amongst women and girls around the world and I was riled.

I was angry.

I’d had enough.

I was a few days off my 40th birthday and I realised, in that moment, that I’d spent most of my life – from my early teens until that very day – criticising myself, especially my body, my shape, my size and my appearance.

My thighs were one of my main targets. I disliked the way they touched at the top. I especially didn’t like looking at them on the loo, as sitting down made them spread out.

But I’d had it.

I was about to turn 40, for goodness sake.

This had to stop.

Was I really going to go through my 40s the same way I’d gone through my 30s, 20s, and teens – giving myself a hard time, finding fault in my body, ripping holes in myself and my looks?

I didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t want any more of my precious headspace to be taken up with these negative, self-harming thoughts.

Back then, in 2011, it was the eve of Lent and I decided that instead of giving up chocolate, sweets, bread or crisps, as I usually did (to try and slim down), I’d abstain from negative thinking about my body, my appearance and my achievements.

I also decided to write about my efforts everyday on a blog I called, Just As I Am – An Experiment in Self-Acceptance. You can read my Day One post from 2011 here.

(That was my very first blog, which turned into this blog, which helped me write my book – so good things can come from moments of anger and frustration.)

And here we are again.

On Day One of Lent. 2019.

Eight years on.

And I can still slip back into some of those old behaviours and thought patterns, beating myself up, giving myself a hard time, finding fault in my appearance and everything I do.

Yes, I’ve come far.

I’ve come a very long way since the days when I self-harmed with food – bingeing and starving and constantly running – with alcohol and with dysfunctional relationships that left me feeling rubbish about myself.

But I still have negative thoughts.

Of course I do. I’m human. And I’m a woman.

That’s why I’m committing myself again to abstain from negative thinking about my body, my appearance and my achievements throughout this period of Lent (and hopefully beyond), and I’m inviting you to join me.

Why is this important?

Well, I hope that’s obvious. But I’ll spell it out just in case.

Every time we run ourselves down, berate ourselves, criticise ourselves, give ourselves a hard time, poke and prod at ourselves or tut at our bodies in the mirror, we send ourselves a message that we’re not good enough, that we’re faulty, that there’s something wrong with us, that we’re not valuable, that we’re not acceptable as we are.

And then that message, that belief, grows and grows and impacts our lives in so many ways. It affects our relationships, romantic and otherwise, our work lives, the way we dress, the way we carry ourselves, our hopes and our dreams.

Life is hard enough as it is without this constant stream of negative thinking.

Do you agree?

If so, will you join me on this Lent of Love journey?

The goal is to become more compassionate, more self-loving and more self-accepting by forming new habits around our thinking.

I accept it’s hard to stop the first thought, but what we can do is intentionally turn our minds to something else when the negative thoughts come. We can intentionally stop the flow of negativity and self-criticism.

Here’s an extract from my Day One post back in 2011 that explains more:

“So I am challenging myself – for this period of Lent – to give up those nasty thoughts about my shape, size, form, skin tone, complexion, hair etc etc etc – that go through my head numerous times a day. This isn’t going to be easy. As I realised this morning as I showered and got dressed, self criticism is deeply ingrained in my psyche.

But the best I can do is to challenge those thoughts – so every time I’m tempted to pinch at my waist, look critically at my legs or tut or groan when I look in the mirror, I’m going to try not to. And every time I look at another woman and am tempted to think I want her figure, hair, face etc, I’m going to celebrate her beauty and also celebrate mine. I’m going to smile and say ‘Thank you God (or Universe, Mother Nature, whatever concept works for you) for creating me just as I am’.”

Self-acceptance and body acceptance are especially important for me right now because I’m shopping for a wedding dress (eek!). I’m seeing myself in long mirrors, at 47, almost 48, and observing my body, my flesh and my skin.

Wouldn’t it be a shame if I spoiled this precious gift of getting married and buying a beautiful dress with negative, nasty thoughts about the way I look?

And wouldn’t it be a shame if you spoiled this day, or the next day, or the next with similar self-critical thoughts too?

Let’s give ourselves a chance. Let’s not put ourselves down.

I hope you can join me for this Lent of Love. I’ll post again here in due course but if you’d like more regular reminders, why not join my free Facebook group, Being Real, Becoming Whole, or follow me on social media, on Instagram, on Twitter, or via my Facebook page.

Thanks for joining me on this self-loving journey. I need all the support I can get!

x

***Upcoming Events***

New How to Fall in Love small group course, begins early April, for 10 women with group and one-to-one coaching. Email me at katherine@katherinebaldwin.com to express your interest.

How to Fall in Love retreat at Cortijo Romero in Andalucia, Spain, May 11-18. Contact Cortijo Romero to book your room.

The Love Retreat with Yoga, Dalyan, southern Turkey, Oct 7-14. Love yourself, love your body, love your life and find love. Earlybird offer ends on the final day of March. Email me to enquire or book at katherine@katherinebaldwin.com

Posted in Body Image, Eating disorders, Health, Love, Perfectionism, Positive thinking, Recovery, Self-Acceptance, Women | Leave a comment

I want to be seen

meoldharry

I want to be known. I want to be seen.

I heard author and activist Glennon Doyle use these words in an interview with fellow author Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame and more recently, Big Magic) a few days ago. I’d tuned in to Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast, which, I’m just discovering is a treasure trove of interviews with creative people, some hugely famous, some working in call centres, and a call to action to all of us to walk through our fears and create stuff.

Obviously, this is right up my street. And it’s hugely relevant to where I am today – hoping to finish and publish a second book this year, with at least two more books I want to write after that; often procrastinating and finding better things to do than sit down and write; still not entirely trusting in my creative abilities or in my identity as a writer, despite the fact that writing – even writing these words on the screen right now – brings me such joy and solace and makes me feel entirely at home.

I’m a little late to the Magic Lessons podcast party. The podcast series was recorded in 2016. I read Big Magic when it came out but I’ve only just discovered the podcast.

This is perfect timing.

Things are stirring in my inner world. I’ve been working through some painful stuff, facing my fears and letting go. There have been some dark times and lots of tears, but I welcome it all because I know I’ll come out the other side, feeling lighter, clearer, more at peace, and more able to go for my dreams.

I’m also getting married this year, in June, which feels incredibly significant – which is incredibly significant. If you’ve followed my blog over the years, you’ll know where I was when I began to write.

I was a single woman, living in London, just turning 40, unsure about what I was going to do with the rest of my life, wondering how on earth I’d got to that age and stage without meeting a partner, settling down and having a family, bemused as to why none of my relationships worked out.

Nearly eight years on, it’s a very different story. I have my own family now – a family of two, which, most of the time, I accept as absolutely enough. There are still days when I feel sad that I haven’t had kids, and angry at my past for the scars it left and for leading me down this unconventional path, but I do my best to embrace and enjoy what I have, rather than focusing on the things I don’t have.

I am incredibly grateful. Miracles have happened in my life and I know they’ll continue to happen.

So, back to where I started this post.

I want to be known. I want to be seen.

When I heard Glennon speak those words, I heard someone else speaking my truth.

I want to be known. I want to seen.

I guess I have always wanted this, ever since I was a little girl. See me. Notice me. Know me. 

From birth, we have a natural need to be seen and to be known. When we are seen, we feel soothed. When we are soothed, we feel safe. And when we feel safe, we feel secure.

But our parents sometimes are unable to see us, through no fault of their own, perhaps because their parents couldn’t see them. So we feel unseen. We are not soothed. We feel unsafe. And we feel insecure.

If we start out in life like this, we can spend the rest of our lives trying to get those unmet childhood needs met, often in unhealthy ways. We want to be seen and to be noticed so we hitch up our skirts at school and get involved with the bad guys because we feel important, popular or cool. Or we work like crazy to get good grades so our parents will see us, notice us and love us.

We often find ways to soothe ourselves to make up for the fact we didn’t feel soothed as children – we binge eat or binge drink or take drugs or numb out with sex or rubbish TV.

We try to engineer a feeling of safety by controlling everything around us, by being perfect, doing a perfect job or keeping a perfect home. We build a fortress around us – an emotional or a financial one – so that nothing bad can ever happen. And then something bad does happen, and our world view shatters before our eyes.

We hang on to dead-end or harmful relationships because being in a relationship, being next to someone, makes us feel safe, even if we know it’s bad for us. Or we stay in jobs that stifle our spirit and put our soul to sleep because we feel so shaky on the inside so we have to keep our outsides as secure as we can.

I have done many of these things and many more to get my unmet childhood needs met.

Throughout much of my career, I was striving to be seen, climbing up a career ladder until I got to a place where I was hanging out in parliament and Downing Street, mingling with prime ministers and VIPs, hoping that some of the spotlight would fall on me. I was desperate to get on TV but when I made it onto TV to talk about politics, I felt like a fraud, terrified that I’d get it wrong or be found out.

Now, a number of years in to my new career as an author, coach and speaker, I still want to be seen and to be known. That desire, that need is still there. But now I want to be seen for my authentic self. I want you to know the real me. I want to show you inside my soul. I want to share my truth and tell you my story. I want to explain to you how I feel.

Because as I do so, I get to know myself even more. I heal my feelings and make sense of my story. I also feel less alone – I feel like I belong somewhere – because you tell me that you can relate to my words, that sometimes you feel the same.

And as I share my story with you in my books and on this blog, I see myself. I acknowledge the creative child within who’s always loved to write. I let her out to play. I set her free.

I see you, Katherine. I see you.

Do you want to be seen? Do you want others to know the real you? Are you hiding your true self behind a mask or a career? Are you soothing yourself in unhealthy ways because you feel unseen or because you weren’t soothed? Are you staying stuck in a relationship or in a role because you crave safety? Are you trying to control everything around you so that you can feel more secure?

How can you see yourself? How can you acknowledge your child within?

How can you soothe yourself in healthy ways?

How can you give yourself that sense of safety and security that you crave?

Please comment below if you feel moved to.

And thank you, as always, for seeing me and for allowing me to be known and to be seen.

 

***Resources & Upcoming Events***

If you’d like to watch the webinar I recorded earlier this month, you can access the recording here: Create the Life & Love You Want in 2019. Please note there was some background noise during the second guided meditation so I re-recorded the guided meditation separately here: Guided meditation. If you’d like to use this separate recording, watch the webinar until minute 17:40 and then switch to the separate recording, resuming the webinar at minute 24:40.

Relight Your Fire: Find Your Passion & Purpose. Evening workshop, London. Jan 15.

Stop Emotional Overeating, Lose Weight for Life. Evening workshop. London. Jan 16.

Love Yourself. Love Your Body, Love Your Mind. One-day mind, body, spirit workshop in Bournemouth with yoga. Saturday, Feb 2. Five spaces left!

For How to Fall in Love and mind, body, spirit retreats in Dorset, Spain and Turkey in 2019, click here. Two spaces left on the Dorset retreat!

For a free chapter of my book How to Fall in Love, sign up at www.howtofallinlove.co.uk

Free Facebook group for women: Being Real, Becoming Whole.

 

 

 

Posted in Childless, Creativity, Perfectionism, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Acceptance, Women, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easing gently into 2019

movegently

Happy New Year!

Firstly, I want to say how grateful I am to you for reading my blog. I know some of you have been following me for a very long time – since this blog began nearly 8 years ago – and I really appreciate your ongoing support and your presence here, as well as the comments some of you post. It’s wonderful to hear that my writing encourages you, inspires you and helps you to feel less alone. When you tell me that you can relate to my struggles, I feel less alone too. So thank you.

For anyone who is new to this blog, please take a look at some of my previous posts. This blog charts my journey from being a single, 40-something Londoner and burnt out news reporter who wasn’t sure of her next career steps, to being the woman I am today – an almost 48-year-old fiancée to a wonderful man who lives by the beach and swims in the sea, as well as an author, workshop and retreat leader, coach and midlife mentor.

And if those two sentences haven’t convinced you that transformation is possible, take a look at some of my posts about my history of emotional overeating, binge drinking and dysfunctional dating patterns, or about my reckless antics that landed me in dangerous scrapes in various corners of the globe.

So much has changed for me since I began writing this blog, just before my 40th birthday, and I know I’ll continue to change over the coming years. I am always growing and learning. Sometimes I revert to some of my old behaviours – over-working, rushing and being unkind to myself. And then I remember where those behaviours took me – to a dark place, burnt out and depressed – and I pull back before it’s too late.

Transformation is what this blog is all about and it’s what my work is about today and going forwards. I love to help people to transform themselves and their lives so that they can become happier, healthier, more fulfilled, and so that they can find love, if that’s what they’re looking for, and stay in love.

Transformation is a big word and transformation isn’t easy. But I always say that if I can transform, there’s hope for everyone. I didn’t transform alone, however. I’ve had a lot of help. And I couldn’t have done it without support.

So if there’s something you’d like to change in your life in 2019, can I encourage you to get some support too? Self-help books are wonderful and there are so many to choose from these days (including my own!), but it’s difficult to change in isolation. We need other people around us, people who are walking the same path.

So this New Year, consider asking a friend or relative to be your change buddy or transformation partner; think about going along to a support group if there’s a particular issue you’re struggling with; or seek out a coach, counsellor or therapist. And if I can help in any way, get in touch or join one of my workshops or retreats (listed below).

I’ll be talking more about the importance of getting support in a free online live video workshop I’m hosting today – Create the Life & Love You Want in 2019 – between 1 and 2 pm GMT. Click on this link to join live or to register to receive the recording. And if you missed it, email me and I’ll send you the recording (katherine@katherinebaldwin.com).

I’m going to be getting some support in 2019 to change those self-defeating patterns I mentioned above: over-working, doing too much and feeling anxious all the time. I still find it hard to proceed with balance and to prioritise self-care, but I’m working on it.

I work on it by getting to the root of the problem. What is it that makes me strive and drive myself so hard? What am I trying to achieve?

Given I’ve been over-doing it since I can remember, since childhood, my issues clearly stem from my younger years. Ultimately, I think, I’m looking for love and a sense of safety. If I can control everything – including what others think of me or how much I am liked or loved – I’ll feel safe (or so I believe). I’m also trying to escape my feelings. If I’m always doing stuff, I can avoid those painful feelings that linger beneath the surface (or so I think).

But I know this isn’t the case. I know these behaviours are futile and counter-productive. I know I can’t fix how I feel on the inside simply by doing more on the outside. I know I can’t control what others think of me and even if I could, it would never be enough to heal my deep wounds. And I know I can’t avoid my feelings because they’ll come out sideways and sabotage my life and relationships.

So I need to connect to the feelings, grieve those deep childhood losses, heal those early wounds, love myself from the inside out, and give myself that sense of safety and security I so crave.

Only then will I set myself free.

Poise

Finding Balance

I’m a work in progress and I probably always will be. This New Year is a case in point. This blog is called Easing Gently into 2019 but I haven’t quite managed that! In fact, I’m writing this as a reminder to myself. I wrote about the same topic for Psychologies magazine Life Labs: Let’s Begin 2019 With Balance. And I recorded this video down at the beach, a reminder to you and me to ease gently into the year (as you can see, I’ve been busy already!).

seaswim

Happy New Year!

So my journey continues, as yours does too, but I have made huge progress and I’m sure you have also. This image of me reflects that progress: the first thing I did on New Year’s Day was to take myself down to the beach and have a dip in the sea. It was incredible. The best thing I’ve done all year.

Well done, Katherine. You made this happen.

And well done you, for all you have made happen and all that you will make happen in 2019. Let’s continue to transform, together.

 

***Upcoming Events***

Free online workshop/webinar, Create the Life and Love Your Want in 2019, Thursday January 3, 1-2 pm. Register to watch live or receive the recording. Email me if you missed it and I’ll send the recording: katherine@katherinebaldwin.com

Relight Your Fire: Find Your Passion & Purpose. Evening workshop, London. Jan 15.

Stop Emotional Overeating, Lose Weight for Life. Evening workshop. London. Jan 16.

Love Yourself. Love Your Body, Love Your Mind. One-day mind, body, spirit workshop in Bournemouth with yoga. Saturday, Feb 2.

For How to Fall in Love and mind, body, spirit retreats in Dorset, Spain and Turkey in 2019, click here.

For a free chapter of my book How to Fall in Love, sign up at www.howtofallinlove.co.uk

Free Facebook group for women: Being Real, Becoming Whole.

 

Posted in Addiction, codependency, Happiness, Love, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Acceptance, Women | Leave a comment

Coping with Christmas

mechristmas2Does Christmas push your buttons, stir your emotions, reopen old wounds, or prompt tears? Does it remind you of the things or the people you don’t have in your life, or the things or people you have lost?

You are not alone. Christmas does that to me too.

So how can we help ourselves at this time of year? How can we be extra kind to ourselves? How can we take extra good care of ourselves?

I’ve come up with some suggestions based on my own experience, which you can read in this blog post I wrote for Psychologies magazine’s Life Labs yesterday: Coping at Christmas when life hasn’t gone to plan.

If you can relate, please drop me a line. That helps me to feel less alone. And if you have any suggestions of your own, please do share them in the comments.

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year. See you on the other side.

Katherine x

 

***2019 Events***

Free online workshop, Create the Life and Love Your Want in 2019, Thursday January 3, 1-2 pm.

For How to Fall in Love and mind, body, spirit retreats in Dorset, Spain and Turkey in 2019, click here. Please note the earlybird rate on the Dorset retreat expires December 31, on the Turkey retreat at the end of January and on the Spanish retreat in mid-Feb.

Relight Your Fire: Find Your Passion & Purpose. Evening workshop, London. Jan 15.

Stop Emotional Overeating, Lose Weight for Life. Evening workshop. London. Jan 16.

Love Yourself. Love Your Body, Love Your Mind. One-day mind, body, spirit workshop in Bournemouth with yoga. Saturday, Feb 2.

For a free chapter of my book How to Fall in Love, sign up at www.howtofallinlove.co.uk

Free Facebook group for women: Being Real, Becoming Whole.

Email me on: katherine@katherinebaldwin.com

Posted in Happiness, Self-Acceptance, Spirituality, Women | Leave a comment

Going back to my roots

Beachportrait

At home by the sea

I’m a runner and a writer.

As I run, I write.

I wrote this blog, other blogs and scenes for books in my head this morning as I ran along a cold, windy beach, watching the crimson sun bleed through the grey clouds and the foam dance across the sand.

I grew up running and writing and this morning I had that wonderful feeling that I’ve come home. I’m going back to my roots, I thought, as I hummed along to the tune.

I used to run outdoors on wintry days as a child, training and racing for the City of Liverpool’s Cross Country Team, running around muddy parks, my soggy trainers like dead weights on my feet but my body, soul and spirit truly alive.

And I wrote as a young girl too. I can picture my younger self now, sitting on the floor, filling sheets of lined paper with my neat cursive handwriting. I can sense my excitement as I entered imaginary worlds or came up with stories for a makeshift newspaper my friend and I were putting together for the neighbourhood.

I was a journalist for years. I made a career out of news. But I’m a writer at heart.

This was confirmed to me last night as I attended a local writers’ group for the first time – a small gathering of people of different ages and abilities who meet every week to share their words. Yes, some of them are writing to get published and to win competitions and awards, but primarily, I sensed, everyone present was writing for the love of it, for the love of their craft, for the sheer pleasure and challenge of mixing up ideas and words into a delightful, coherent form like some sort of giant jigsaw puzzle.

I get this now. I get the pleasure and challenge of writing, but I didn’t understand it when I first sat down to write a book some five years ago. Back then, I had my sights set on a publishing deal and on fame. I wanted my book in the window of Waterstones, but I didn’t actually want to do the work. I found myself an agent and I expected my writing career to blossom from there. But I wasn’t actually writing. I was waiting – waiting for someone to hold my hand, to tell me my writing was good enough to be published and to pay me an advance. It didn’t happen. Not that time around.

I’m pleased to say my attitude has changed. My self-esteem has grown so my ego isn’t as fragile. I’m not after instant fame and reward. I have found some humility and some willingness to sit down and do the work. I have found the joy in the challenge of the giant jigsaw puzzle. So I am writing, not as often as I’d like, but I’m writing. And I understand that my soul needs to write or part of it will go to sleep and I’ll always feel a little unfulfilled, a little incomplete.

It’s hard, though, isn’t it, to make space for our heart’s desires? It’s so much easier to find excuses and to neglect our dreams.

I’m a writer who doesn’t make time to write, I said as I departed the writers’ group last night. Aren’t we all, someone joked. But that’s not true for the members of that group who are showing up with their pages every week, and it’s not entirely true for me either.

BookstonebeachI have written and published a book, How to Fall in Love. I am writing another and I’m committed to finishing the book I started some six years ago, in whatever form it takes. And I have the seed of an idea for a novel – a wonderful main character and a beautiful backdrop. It isn’t much, but it’s a start.

And maybe my path is to write fiction after all. Maybe the journalism career and the non-fiction books are the stepping stones – a way to hone my craft and build my confidence. Or perhaps they’re a massive distraction, a procrastination tool to put off what I’m really meant to be doing. I will endeavour to find out. I will continue to write my non-fiction and I’ll make space to play with a novel.

My relationship with writing is like my relationship with myself. It was broken or faulty for a while. But it has been restored and continues to be restored, one day at a time.

My relationship with running went awry too. In my early years, running brought freedom and a sense of power and strength that compensated for my mushy, unstable insides. Fresh air. Heart pumping. Muddy ground. Jumping over roots. Weaving between trees. Alive. Alive. Alive.

And then my eating disorder kicked in and running became a means to an end – a way to burn off the calories I’d just devoured; to punish myself because of what I’d consumed; and to try and stay thin because thin, in my mind, meant I would be loved. So I ran everywhere. I ran at crazy times and in crazy places. I remember changing out of a dress into my running gear in the middle of an all-day wedding in Spain and pounding the pavements of a tiny town while the rest of the guests milled around, connecting with each other and eating and drinking. I remember running in Mexico City, dodging taco vans, stray dogs and erratic drivers. And I remember running around Calderstones Park in Liverpool in my thirties, training for the London marathon, as my dear dad took his final breath in his nearby home. I was banging the mud off my trainers outside his house when a nurse opened the door and said in a solemn voice, “You’d better come inside.”

I assumed my running days were over after falling down some steps in London about seven years ago. An ankle injury lingered, I got obsessed about it, and then my knees began to ache. This running thing isn’t good for me, I told myself. I’ve wrecked my joints by over-exercising for years. I’ll just have to walk from now on.

But I’m back. Back in the race. Running on the beach, on the soft sand. Strengthening my muscles and joints through Pilates so I can run without pain. And feeling alive and at home again.

I was sharing about running and writing and going back to my roots on the phone with a friend this morning, and, unexpectedly, I started to cry. Why was I crying? I felt so happy and so inspired. I’d made this happen. I could run and write every day if I so desired. She replied with a beautiful line from a poem that describes how happiness and sadness are so often intertwined in our souls.

“Joy and sorrow                                                                                                                             aren’t two different feelings for it.                                                                                                       It attends us                                                                                                                                       only when the two are joined”

The lines are from a poem by Wisława Szymborska called A Few Words on the Soul (you can read it in English here).

I wonder if your soul is calling you back to your roots, inviting you to come home to yourself after wandering in the wilderness for years. Is your spirit longing to do something that you loved doing as a child? Do you want to run, sing, dance, paint, draw, write or do something else that makes you smile?

Listen to it. Listen to that call. That voice inside you is very wise.

Through my work now, I have the joy and privilege of witnessing my coaching clients and retreat participants stumble upon the memory of something they loved to do as a child. Often the idea seems to come from nowhere. They might be feeling sad and stuck and then suddenly, they mention this thing, this idea, and their face lights up and their voice comes to life and I can see the fire burning inside. That’s it, I say. That’s it. You’ve found it. Do that. Do that thing that brings joyful tears to your eyes and sets your world on fire. Allow yourself to reawaken. To come home.

I believe that we have to reawaken. We have to uncover our true selves. This is the only way to stay happy, healthy and sane. Too many of us cover up our true selves with a false exterior. We do what we think others want us to do or what we feel we’re supposed to do. We follow a path that isn’t really ours. We climb a ladder and then realise it was the wrong one. I know. I’ve been there. And I know all too well the dangers of continuing down that road – soul sickness, a deadening of our spirit, depression, anger and resentment. And then we take this resentment out on ourselves, by eating too much, or drinking too much or harming ourselves in other ways. Or we lash out at those around us and hurt the people we love.

So do that thing that brings you alive. And if you don’t know what it is, go back to your roots. You’ll probably find it there.

***Upcoming Events***

Relight Your Fire: Find Your Purpose & Passion in 2019. Evening workshop in London. Tuesday, January 15. 7:30 – 9:30 pm. 42 Acres, Shoreditch. £20.

How to Stop Emotional Overeating & Lose Weight for Life. Evening workshop in London. Wednesday, January 16. 7-9 pm. Conway Hall. £20.

How to Fall in Love UK Retreat in Southbourne, Dorset. Feb 15-18. Six places left. Earlybird ends Dec 31.

How to Fall in Love Spain Retreat in Andalucia, May 11-18. Earlybird until 11/2/19.

Turkey Retreat: Love Yourself, Love Your Body, Love Your Life, Find Love – personal development holiday with yoga by the sea in southern Turkey. Oct 7-14.

Contact katherine@katherinebaldwin.com

Thank you x

 

 

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