The joy of being alive

It could have been an awful week.

Mid-January. Dark mornings. Bleak skies. And the first anniversary of Mum’s death.

A week to be endured and quickly forgotten.

Instead, it was a memorable and magical week.

Why?

Because I gave myself space.

Space to feel my feelings.

Space to honour my grief.

Space to commemorate Mum.

Space to celebrate her life.

Space to celebrate my life and the joy of being alive.

Space to experience all the love I have around me.

It’s hard to give ourselves space. It’s hard to take time off work, especially when we are self-employed, running a business we feel passionate about, and especially when we have used work for most of our lives to escape our true feelings, to numb the fear and avoid the pain, as I have done.

But I have learned so much over the many years of my healing journey and my courage continues to grow. More and more, I am able to act in my best interests rather than act against them, as I did for so long.

So last week, around the anniversary of Mum’s death, I gave myself the precious gift of space, and as I did so, God, the Universe and Everything responded in kind.

The weather was glorious, stunning blue-sky days and wall-to-wall sunshine, providing the perfect backdrop for beach walks, sea swims and a magnificent excursion to Durdle Door with my husband and pup.

There, I took the plunge in honour of life, in honour of being alive.

I swam naked in shallow waters at the far end of the beach, the seaweed gliding across my skin and wrapping around my limbs, the rocks on the sea bed almost grazing my nipples, high on the thrill of the cold, laughing at the craziness of it all.

Mid-January. A Thursday afternoon. Skinny dipping on a deserted stretch of beach just along from one of Dorset’s prime tourist attractions. A year to the day since my mother died.

The day before had been miraculous too – the last day I’d seen Mum alive this time last year. I took an early sea dip and then went to sing in a choir, silencing those inner voices that told me that it was a Wednesday morning and I should be at work.

On the way back, uplifted by the singing, I heard a segment on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show that spoke to me.

Before I go on, it feels important to tell you that Jeremy Vine was Mum’s favourite show on Radio 2. She listened to it religiously, volume turned down low, her ear close to the radio so as not to make too much noise (Mum didn’t like disturbing anyone). In fact, she was most put out when she arrived in the care home, her final home, and discovered that lunch was at 12 pm – but that’s when Jeremy Vine is on!

The segment in question was discussing life transformation. It featured Craig Oliver, a former Director of Politics and Communications for British Prime Minister David Cameron, talking about his new podcast, Desperately Seeking Wisdom.

Tina Daheley, standing in for Jeremy Vine, invited people who’d chosen a simpler life to contact the show. I emailed in and five minutes later, I was on air.

You can hear my interview (available for the next few weeks) via the following link (I appear 1 hour, 23 mins and 20 seconds in to the show): The Jeremy Vine Show, Jan 12th.

This interview reminds me of a number of things:

To trust myself, my skills, my knowledge and my expertise.

To go for it, no matter what the voices inside my head tell me.

That you have to be in it to win it and it’s always worth a try.

That visions work (high on my visions list for 2022 was to use my voice more in broadcast media – this is my second BBC Radio interview this year).

And that self-care pays dividends.

I could have been sat at my desk, desperately trying to come up with ideas to let the world know about my work and my words. Instead, I took a day off, had fun and, on the way back from my fun, got myself on national radio, with minimal effort.

I deserve to remind myself of these truths whenever I am pushing or striving or trying too hard to control outcomes and whenever I am putting work or others’ needs above my self-care and wellbeing.

I hope this post and the pictures below inspire you to do the same.

About Katherine Baldwin

I am a writer, coach, midlife mentor, motivational speaker and the author of How to Fall in Love - A 10-Step Journey to the Heart. I specialise in coaching women and men to have healthy relationships with themselves so that they can form healthy and loving romantic relationships and lead authentic, fulfilling lives. I coach 1:1, lead workshops and host retreats.
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