When I reread my last blog post – Rescue remedy – I’m struck by my energy. I can see myself striding along that muddy river bank, laughing out loud at the crazy antics of Rosie, the dog. I can feel the cold and the frothiness of the Cornish surf hitting me in the face as I jump on a breaking wave on my body board. And I can hear the crackle of the roaring log fire at the wonderful writers’ retreat.
I can sense the good energy – the positive, cheerful vibes. And I can remember how confident, creative and productive I felt at that time. I had made some wonderful choices. I was in the right place. I was exactly where I was meant to be.
And I compare that energy to how I felt this morning as I got ready to leave for my studio, under grey, oppressive, London skies. I didn’t feel depressed or tearful, thank goodness, but I didn’t feel great either. I felt a bit like the weather – dull.
OK, so I can’t spend my life on holiday or hidden away on a cosy, countryside writers’ retreat. And I don’t live under consistently blue skies. But I’m realising I can pay attention to my energy flows and try to live and work in a way that energises me, as much as possible. I can also pay attention to what drains my energy and try and do something about that.
I know I’m energised by people, although I need some solitary, quiet time now and then. I like socialising, collaborating, encouraging and supporting, as well as being encouraged and supported.
I’m energised by learning new things, particularly about myself and others, about how we tick, what motivates us and how to get what we want out of life.
I’m energised by nature, particularly trees, green fields, rivers and, of course, the sea, looking at it or swimming in it, at any time of the year.
I’m energised by challenge – be that by pushing my body outside its comfort zone (body boarding in big waves on a drizzly November day, for example, or moutain biking down a steep, rocky hill when I feel afraid) or by doing the same for my mind (confronting self-defeating patterns, committing when I don’t want to commit, making phone calls I’m scared to make or taking steps with my work that terrify me). There must be balance, though, particularly with the mental challenges. They can take it out of me so I may need to retreat to my comfort zone in between these growth spurts, to replenish my energy reserves.
I’m energised by exercise. Even my short cycle to my studio this morning (the first time I’ve cycled here in months due to my dodgy wrist – still sore but just about up to a short cycle) got the blood pumping and my body tingling in the cold.
I’m also energised by doing slightly odd, out-of-the-ordinary things, things that some would deem to be a little bit silly. Like swimming in the sea in the winter or spending a week in a campervan in North Wales between Christmas and New Year.
These things make me giggle; they make me feel alive.
I’m also energised by hearty, wholesome, home-cooked food and by knowing I’m giving my body the nourishment it needs.
Then there are the things that drain my energy:
- Long ‘To Do’ lists involving personal admin or home maintenance.
- Clutter (in my mind or in my home).
- Constant questioning, ambivalence and self-doubt (‘should I or shouldn’t I’, all the ‘what ifs’ or thoughts like ‘nobody’s going to want to read this book’).
- Doing too much (running from one thing to another, squeezing in endless activities or pushing myself to do one last thing when I know, deep down, rest is what I need). I used to think the more hours I put in and the more running around I did, the more I got done, but I’m learning that my creativity flourishes when I give myself space, time and a nurturing, energising environment.
- Fear, anxiety and worry.
- Work that I really don’t want to do and know I probably wouldn’t have to do if I could just commit wholeheartedly to my dreams, trust I’ll be OK and follow through on them without fear, self-doubt, worry or constant questioning.
- Oh yes, and then there’s the not so good food – the not-so-healthy snacks or the boring, tasteless meals I cobble together when I’m short on time or energy.
Energy is important. Some things boost my energy and other things deplete it. And as I heard yesterday, on an ‘introduction to coaching’ course delivered by Colin Brett at Coaching Development, it’s important to follow the energy.
If the thought of doing something lifts my spirits, produces a smile or lights a spark – then that’s probably the right path for me. But if I find the corners of my mouth turning down, my shoulders hunching or a frown appearing on my brow, I may want to think again.
So where is my energy leading me? In which direction do I really want to go? And what can I do today or this week to preserve or boost my energy? What can I do to get a bit of sparkle back under these cold, grey skies? And how can I avoid things that deplete my energy reserves?
And, dear readers, I ask those same questions of you. Are you following the energy? Are you going with the energy flow? Or are you pushing against it?
Let’s find out what energises us … and then do more of it.