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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Overcompensating for low self-worth

Womanexhausted

Do you overcompensate because you don’t feel good enough?

Do you do too much, work too hard, clean too thoroughly or spend too long worrying about your appearance because you don’t feel worthy or acceptable as you are?

I definitely do.

Of course, this has changed a lot over the years. I have transformed. My self-esteem has increased hugely from when I was younger, and from when I began writing this blog, more than seven years ago. I’ve also become a lot more aware of the fact that I am overcompensating and of the reasons why. I was in denial before.

But no matter how much I’ve changed, I still have to supervise myself. My low self-esteem and my feelings of not being worthy or good enough go way back. They are deeply lodged in the primal part of my brain. They lie in wait, ready to get triggered, ready to sabotage my life.

Why am I writing this now?

It’s because I’ve done some overcompensating today.

I went to buy lunch for a coaching client who’s coming on one of my beach brainstorming days tomorrow. And I over-shopped. I over-bought. I over-spent. I overcompensated.

The little child inside me who doesn’t feel good enough and who is terrified of being judged, criticised, or told off led me around the supermarket at top speed, putting all manner of stuff in my trolley. It now won’t fit in the fridge!

Fortunately, on this occasion, I’m hosting the beach brainstorming day at the venue where I host my retreatsThe Artists’ Studio BnB – rather than at my home. If the client were coming to my home, I’d be cleaning like crazy right now, trying to remove every last speck of dirt.

I also work too hard and always have. This benefited a number of international news agencies and a few newspapers in my first career. It now benefits my retreat guests, workshop attendees and coaching clients.

I guess my tendency to overcompensate for my low self-esteem through working ridiculously hard and being a perfectionist took me far in my first career and no doubt will take me far in my second career as a coach, writer and speaker.

But at what cost? That has to be the question. At what cost?

See that woman in the picture? That’s how I looked much of the time in my news journalism job, until I burnt out and broke down. I’m still prone to pushing myself, but I’m determined to change.

I will always have incredibly high standards. I will always want to do my absolute best. I will always want my clients to love working with me or for my retreat attendees to have the most incredible experience.

But I want to do a really good job with balance and with self-love. I want to walk the walk, to be a role model to the women and men I am guiding along their own self-love journeys.

In order to do that, I need to let go of my compulsion to overcompensate. And in order to do that, I need to continue to build my self-esteem and strengthen my emotional core – or my inner oak tree, as I call it in my book.

I need to continue to heal my early wounds and to re-parent myself. I need to love myself and take care of myself. I need to believe I am enough and trust I am enough. And I need to trust my work is good enough, my house is clean enough, the lunch is tasty enough and that I look good enough.

How about you? Do you feel enough? Do you overcompensate for low self-worth? In what ways? I’d love to hear from you.

On a separate but related note, I wanted to share a few blogs I’ve written recently for Psychologies magazine’s Life Labs expert blogging platform.

How to let go of your unhealthy crutches talks about how many of us use food, alcohol, achievement, success, sex, drugs and other crutches to numb our feelings and to run away from ourselves. I share my own story of using crutches and how I gradually let some of them go. And I confess to what I’ve shared above: that I still work too hard and do too much.

If food is your crutch, read on for my How to stop emotional overeating London workshops and courses.

If you’re up for some more reading, you might also like this post on How to stay true to yourself in relationships or this one on Understanding the push-pull in relationships. Quite a few readers related to the push-pull post especially, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you a wonderful day x

 

*** Upcoming Events ***

Stop emotional overeating and lose weight for life. Four week online live video course with 1-1 and group coaching starts Nov 5.Evening London workshops on same topic on Nov 6 & Jan 16. Use code SAVE10 for 10 percent discount.

Fall in love with yourself, with your life and with another. One-day workshop. London. Nov 17. Use code SAVE10 for 10 percent discount.

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

Let Go of Your Blocks in Life & Love. One-day workshop in Bournemouth. Dec. 1. Use code SAVE10 for 10 percent discount.

Relight Your Fire: Find Your Passion & Purpose. Evening workshop, London. Jan 15. Use code SAVE10 for 10 percent discount.

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, Eating disorders, Health, Perfectionism, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Acceptance, Women, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Am I childless or childfree?

Am I childless or childfree? Or am I neither? Am I somewhere in between?

I drafted this blog earlier this week but couldn’t finish it at the time. I’ve returned today to edit it and to share it with you ahead of World Childless Week next week, 10-16 September.

Gosh, this blog is going to a tough one to write. I wrote some of it in my head while running along the beach this morning and then while swimming in the sea, looking through my goggles at the shells on the seabed, diving down to pick one up that looked like a heart, running my fingers over its smooth surface, noticing the tiny crack at the top – the tiny crack in the heart.

The first thing that occurred to me as I ran is that I can have these wonderful, peaceful, solo mornings because I don’t have children. I can roll out of bed into my car and onto the beach. I can jog along the sand, allowing my thoughts and feelings to move through me with every stride. I can feel the cool water against my body as I swim.

What a gift. This life of mine really suits me.

But then I don’t know how it feels to be woken up by a child’s soft hand or flawless cheek brushing against mine. I don’t know how it feels to snuggle up to the warm body of a young soul I’ve created with somebody I love, or even on my own.

Of course, nor do I know how it feels to be woken up through the night by a screaming baby or a child who’s having nightmares – to feel like I haven’t slept for weeks, like I’m sleepwalking, like my brain has gone to jelly and my life is unravelling; to feel there’s a little person who depends on me but I’m barely holding it together myself.

Because parenthood is a mixed bag, so I imagine and so I’ve read. There are good days and there are days when you feel like you’re losing yourself, losing your mind.

Just as not having children is a mixed bag too – at least for me.

There are mornings when everything is absolutely perfect in my world, when I step onto the cool sand on an empty beach that feels entirely mine and my eyes prick with tears because I can’t believe how good this life feels.

Then there are days when I look at mums and dads with their children, laughing with them, playing with them, stroking their hair, bursting with pride, perhaps pinching themselves because they created this wonderful human being who will grow and mature and perhaps give them grandchildren. There are days when I show up to my Pilates class – which starts at 9:30 am after the mothers have finished the school run and rarely happens during school holidays – and feel so odd, so alien, because I can’t join in conversations about toddlers or teenagers. I can only stand, looking at my feet, adjusting my top, feeling separate.

There are days when I feel that the only things I ever have to shout about or celebrate are to do with my work – I got an article in a magazine, I got on the radio or on TV, I published my book. It feels like I’ve been doing this my entire life, celebrating work while everyone else celebrates a baby’s birth, her first steps or his first words. Fortunately, in recent years, I’ve had personal stuff to shout about too – a relationship, a home with my partner, an engagement. Hurrah. Finally, something to celebrate that isn’t work.

But these wonderful personal shifts sadly don’t stop me from gawping at other people’s lives and thinking they’ve got it right while I’ve got it wrong.

I do that often, you know. I stare at other people. I drink in their lives.

I examine how they look, how they’re dressed, the way they hold their partner’s hand, the way they chuckle with their kids, and I generally assume that they’re having a better experience – a better life – than me.

I feel sad to write this, and it’s so much better than it was, so much better, I promise you. I am so much more accepting of my life and able to believe that I am where I’m meant to be, thanks to years of personal development, mindfulness, therapy and the fruits of all that work: a lovely relationship; someone to cuddle on the beach; a job that I love. But it’s my truth. I’ve been staring at other people’s lives and assuming they’re happier than me for as long as I can remember, ever since I was a little girl. It’s a hard habit to break.

When I was small, I was absolutely convinced that other people – other children – were having a better experience than me. They had to be. It was obvious. I gazed at the lives of friends and strangers as though I was kneeling outside their windows in the dirt, looking in on some cosy, family scene straight out of Hollywood.

I observed unbroken homes, children who had mums and dads living under the same roof, apparently loving each other. I marvelled at kids who slept in the same bedroom throughout their school years and during university holidays – who didn’t move about to different homes or wonder where home was once they’d turned 18. I stared at these children for whom life seemed to stable and fair.

When we used to holiday in Abersoch in North Wales, I’d gaze at the people with their second homes by the sea and their bright white motor boats. My brother and I would crouch by the causeway, hugging our knees against our chests, gaping at the blonde-haired children who played in the back of the boats as their sun-kissed parents pulled them along in a Range Rover. It looked idyllic – and far removed from my experience.

I honestly never thought it could be any different for me. That’s the mindset I grew up around and developed for myself. A ‘Them’ and ‘Us’ mindset, as I wrote about in a previous blog. There were two camps and I would always be in mine. This was my lot and it would never change.

That’s what I thought about having kids too. I never dreamed that my experience of motherhood could be any different from my mum’s. I couldn’t imagine that it could ever be enjoyable, that I’d have a loyal and loving man to help who would stick around, that I’d have enough money to bring up kids without an almighty struggle, that it would be fun and rewarding rather than incredibly hard work, a ball and chain around your neck.

I thought I’d find it as difficult as my mum seemed to find it. I thought I’d feel trapped, imprisoned, caged, grounded, my wings clipped. And I so didn’t want that.

That feeling – that rejection of the life I’d seen my mum endure (she may not have endured it, of course, but that was how I saw it) – is, I think, a big reason why I don’t have kids. It’s taken me until now, until my 40s, until it’s too late, to understand that it didn’t have to be like that. That it could have looked very different for me.

Another reason is that for years now, I’ve been learning to re-parent myself, to nurture, love and care for the little child within, after years of neglecting her, berating her, punishing her with too much work and stuffing her with food to shut her up. I was too busy mothering myself to countenance mothering anyone else.

Unlike many women who are childless, I never tried to have kids. For many years, I ran away from it and avoided it at all costs. Then for a few years, in my late 30s, and early 40s, I panicked. It seemed that’s all I could think about and write about. Of course, I wanted to be a mum. Didn’t every woman? Wasn’t it the most natural thing in the world?

And then I did even more work on myself and understood how deep my ambivalence about motherhood went and how my desire for a child was tied up with how empty and lost I felt on the inside, and how lonely I felt without anyone to share my life with. I came to understand that a child wouldn’t necessarily fill that emptiness or satisfy the internal hunger, at least not for the long-term.

And then I chose to have a relationship with a man who didn’t want children. I actively made that choice. I could have chosen to keep looking for a potential partner who wanted kids. I could have chosen to spend all my savings, borrow money or sell my flat to finance solo IVF. I could have looked into adoption on my own. I’m an intelligent, resourceful woman. I make things happen. I could have made motherhood happen – somehow – or at least I could have given it my best shot. I didn’t. I chose to be with my partner.

Of course, my journey is much more complex than that paragraph, which is why I’ve written a book and am writing another, but that sums up a lot of it.

So I made choices, subconscious and conscious ones based on my upbringing, my childhood experiences and the messages I picked up. And not just based on my upbringing, of course, but on my parents’ lives, and their parents’ experiences and so forth, because my journey is irrevocably tied to the lives of my ancestors.

Yes, I can change the course of my life, I can let go of old wounds, heal and move forwards – as I have done with my relationship – but all that takes time. It takes time to realise where we are and how we’ve got here, to understand what lies behind our faulty thinking. At least it took me a long time. I’m 47 and I’m only really seeing now that I could have had a different family life to my own – I could have been a happy mum.

Living here, in Poole, parenthood looks so different to how it looked in 1970s Liverpool. Not for everyone, of course. There’s plenty of hardship here. But I don’t see that so much. Instead, I focus on the families who are doing life very differently to how we did it back then. The mums and dads with their kids – two, three, four or five of them – who go on amazing holidays and have boats and beach huts; with wealth, with time, some with nannies; with careers and freedoms. And they’re having fun, or at least that’s how it looks. They’re enjoying playing with their kids. Their children seem to enrich their lives. That’s not how it looked in my home.

In fact, these mums and dads seem to enjoy more freedom than I do even without kids, and that’s because my faulty mindset extends beyond parenthood to life in general. Part of me still feels that there’s a ‘Them’ and an ‘Us’ and I’ll never arrive in the ‘Us’ camp. I have all the external trappings of having joined ‘Them’ – the top-notch education, the high-flying career, the home and so forth – but deep inside, I still have the mindset of a little girl from a single-parent family in Liverpool who felt ashamed about receiving free school meals, who felt different, wrong somehow, who didn’t feel like she deserved abundance, joy, ease and freedom.

I am still attached in some ways to my old story, to the idea that life has to be a struggle, that it has to be miserable. So I make things extra hard for myself. I don’t believe in myself enough. I shoot myself in the foot. I self-sabotage. I don’t write my next books or shout about my courses or invest in my business so that it brings abundant rather than just about adequate returns.

Again, I am changing. I am growing. Things are different to how they were, but I still have a way to go.

So back to the original question – childless or childfree?

I am childless, but not because I tried to have kids and it didn’t work out and not because I failed to find a partner in time to have kids, although that would be a simpler explanation. It’s because of who I am, how I was made, where I’ve come from, the baggage I’ve carried, the time it’s taken to unpack that baggage and become aware that things could have been different. And because of the choices I’ve made, subconsciously and consciously. If I’d have had different life experiences, I might have made different choices, but I didn’t. I did the best I could with the information I had at the time – as you did too.

Or maybe I was childless, because now, at 47 and soon to be married, I would like to embrace being childfree. If you gave me the choice of having a child today, I’d probably say no. I’ve only just learned to parent myself. I’ve only just fallen in love. I want to enjoy my relationship without the stresses and strains of parenthood and I want to continue my journey towards a fully free, abundant life that’s beyond my wildest dreams.

But perhaps I’m neither childless nor childfreeI am simply me.

I prefer that idea, which is why I like an initiative that’s been launched by two wonderful women – Cherry Williams and Stephanie Phillips for World Childless Week – encouraging us all to take photos of ourselves alongside three words that describe our uniqueness. This is my picture:

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I am complex. I am unique. I am free.

I could add that I am always growing and learning. I am in love. Sometimes I’m in pain. I am on a journey. I am where I am meant to be.

You can read more about World Childless Week here and get involved if you’d like to, and read Cherry’s blog about the ‘I Am Me’ photos here. I won’t be around for World Childless Week, which is both a shame and a good thing – I’ll be on holiday with my fiancé, enjoying some of the freedoms of not having children.

How about you? Can you relate to this blog? Where are you on your journey? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for reading x

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Posted in Childless, Infertility, Love, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Acceptance, Women | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

I love you but I have to let you go

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Breaking up is so hard to do

Have you ever loved something or somebody but had to let that thing or person go?

I imagine so.

We don’t get through life without loving and losing, without experiencing pain, grief and loss. Unless, of course, we choose not to risk our hearts. Unless we choose to close ourselves off from love.

Yesterday, I let go of something I truly loved, something that had served me incredibly well for 14 years, something that was a huge part of me and my story and that had played a leading role in a significant chapter of my life.

Scoots. Gorgeous Scoots. Pistachio green Scoots, with your rounded edges, indicators for dimples, big friendly headlight and cute top box.

A scooter, yes, but a special scooter. A scooter that gave me so much.

SEEKING SAFETY

I bought Scoots in 2004 after a run-in with a stocky stranger in a dark passageway near my London flat. The man put his hand on my bum and tried to grab my handbag. I snatched my bag back and ran for my life.

Around the same time, I spotted a few yellow police notices on my street, calling for witnesses. A woman had been robbed or attacked late at night, walking back from the station. I also came across a lady who’d had her phone snatched one afternoon.

I was already quite a jumpy person, after being mugged twice in Mexico, once at gunpoint and once with a knife. If I heard footsteps behind me at night, my heart rate would rise and I’d pick up the pace. With Scoots, I wouldn’t have to worry about walking the streets alone in the dark – she’d take me door-to-door.

Scoots would also give me the freedom I craved. In Mexico and Brazil, I’d had cars. They’d taken me around town and to the beach on weekends. But a car in London seemed ludicrous – the antithesis of freedom in my eyes. With Scoots, I could weave in and out of the traffic and avoid standing at bus stops in the rain with heavy bags.

Scoots suited my personality – I had a need for speed and thrived on adrenaline. And I didn’t like waiting around.

A RECOVERY VEHICLE

I bought Scoots just as I was getting into recovery for an eating disorder, which also forced me to look at my drinking. I’d had a few rock bottoms with booze in London, collapsing in my bathroom after a big night out, thankful that I’d said No to the bloke who’d wanted to come home with me but feeling sick and ashamed all the same. Hangovers generally prompted food binges too so I resolved I’d have to give up the drink if I wanted to stay clean around food.

Scoots provided the perfect excuse for not drinking as I got used to my sober way of life. Back then, I struggled to be myself around others or own my truth. Peer pressure was a big deal. Scoots was a welcome accomplice.

I remember when I spotted Scoots in a motorbike showroom at Vauxhall Bridge. It was love at first sight. As you’ll know from this blog, I struggle to make decisions but with Scoots, I had very few doubts. I knew she was the one for me.

Some friends tried to talk me out of buying a Vespa. The small wheels would skid in the wet, they said. Scoots would get nicked in London, they warned. Had I seen the crime stats? These naysayers tested my resolve. I have a history of valuing other people’s opinions over my own, of not trusting myself and of believing that others know what’s right for me. This is a legacy of my childhood. It comes from a poor sense of self and from low self-esteem, both aspects of my codependency.

But on this occasion, I trusted myself. I went with my gut. Thank God.

A TRUSTED FRIEND

Scoots brought so much freedom and joy. I rode her to the Houses of Parliament for six years and parked her in the car park beneath Big Ben, alongside politicians’ shiny black BMWs. I liked arriving on two wheels instead of the Tube, scootering past the policemen on the gates and over the cobbled stones. Scoots had style.

I also scooted to dates. I’m driving so I won’t have a drink, thanks, I’d say. Scoots kept me safe from the scrapes I often found myself in when I mixed alcohol and romance.

I rode Scoots over the bridges that cross the Thames, marvelling at London’s skyline, all majestic and lit up, smiling to myself at this wonderful life and this city I called home. And I’d scoot to the Ladies Pond on Hampstead Heath, getting there in 20 minutes, with my swimming stuff in my top box or under my seat, avoiding trains, buses and long hikes.

Then there were the dark times.

I remember scooting through Islington with tears streaming down my face, on the way to my job in parliament, knowing that as soon as I switched my computer on, I’d feel soul dead and trapped.

I remember the heartache and gloom I felt on the day I took the test for my full bike license. It was raining, grey and miserable and I was riding a motorbike on a busy dual carriageway on the outskirts of London, feeling vulnerable and terrified as huge trucks sped past, wondering how on earth my life had ended up like this. Why wasn’t I sitting in a warm, dry car with a partner and a few kids in the back? (You can read the full blog post about that day here, which is the opening scene of a book I aim to finish).

I remember other times I felt vulnerable in traffic when it was dark and wet and how cold I used to get, needing a hot bath as soon as I got back to my flat. And I especially didn’t enjoy hanging out in dirty gutters to put a lock around Scoots’ back wheel.

I also remember waking up to find Scoots had narrowly avoided an attempt at theft. And I recall the day after I bought Scoots, rushing to an appointment and squeezing the throttle by accident instead of the brake, watching as Scoots slid out from under me and under a pick-up truck. The damage was minimal but I was in shock. Scoots was so precious and perfect. I’d only had her a day and I had to take her back to the shop to get fixed!

MANAGING CHANGE

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A mini adventure

When I moved from London to the seaside, Scoots came along and she served me well for a while, taking me to Bournemouth University where I lectured, avoiding terrible traffic jams. But then I bought a car – a cute mini with her own natural curves and stripes to boot – and everything changed. Suddenly, I remembered the joy of owning a car from my days in Mexico and Brazil. I could throw everything in the back – my sports gear, my swimming kit, my work and my lunch. I could swim in the sea in the winter and then turn the heat up in the car to get warm. I could listen to the radio as I drove. I felt safe. I got used to leaving the house in the summer in dresses and flip-flops rather than jeans, shoes, a padded jacket and a helmet that played havoc with my hair. I enjoyed staying dry in the wet. Luxury.

My lifestyle changed too as my relationship with my now fiancé blossomed. Much of the time, I travelled as a two and although I was licensed to take passengers on the back of Scoots, I’d never tried it. Plus, my partner is quite a big bloke. So Scoots stayed in the garden while I took the car.

Unused, Scoots didn’t look quite so gorgeous – she got dirty and the split in her seat got worse, so I decided it was time to sell up.

To put this in context, I’ve never been very good at getting rid of stuff. I have made progress in this area but I still have a poverty mentality – an irrational fear that I’ll end up broke and sleeping on the streets. So I hang on to things because I think I’ll never be able to afford anything like them again. What if they’re useful? What if I need them in the future? I also get attached to things and people more deeply than others, which comes from having insecure attachments as a child.

But I’m on a journey around money and part of that journey is a commitment to get rid of things that no longer serve me and that are cluttering up my life. Sadly Scoots had fallen into that category. And I have so much more understanding now of how I attach, which makes it easier to let go.

So we fixed Scoots up, gave her a clean and polish and fitted a lovely new leather seat cover, at which point I fell back in love with her, of course. But I took a deep breath, put her up for sale and someone offered me the asking price.

It was time.

BEATING AMBIVALENCE

I confess I almost changed my mind. When my friend said he could deliver her this Monday morning, my heart sank. So soon? I’m not ready. I’m not sure. My characteristic ambivalence took hold. I felt strongly pulled in two directions, torn down the middle, split.

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One last ride

I remembered all the good times we’d had and I fantasised about more good times to come. I pictured us riding off into the sunset – me in a summer dress and sandals (when the reality is I always felt I had to cover up my legs in case I fell off). I took her for a long drive, took photos of her against beautiful backdrops. And I cried. Yes, dear readers, I cried over Scoots. I cried as I rode her around Poole Harbour, minutes before I had to drop her off for delivery. I can’t do it. I can’t let her go.

My patient partner listened to my ambivalence and heard my incessant self-doubt. He saw my pain, soaked up my tears with his T-shirt and eventually said he didn’t think I was ready to sell Scoots. And something in those words, in his understanding, his compassion and his permission to hang on to her, helped me to follow through on my decision to sell.

I loaded her into the van and we dropped her off on Monday at her new home – a good home, a family of people who, I discovered, are on a similar personal development journey to me, which made letting go of Scoots so much easier.

LETTING GO OF LOST LOVES

As I’ve gone through the process of saying goodbye to Scoots, it’s struck me that it’s similar to letting go of a relationship that’s no longer working. In the past, I held on to relationships well beyond their sell-by date.

I obsessed about the good times, forgetting all the bad times. I stayed with men out of fear that I would never find anyone else. I fantasised about our future together, imagining I was a different person and he was a different person and we could have this life together that bore no resemblance to reality. I decided to leave a relationship and then I doubted my decision. I felt stuck, incapable of making a choice.

The same with Scoots. I imagined scooting off with my swimming kit in my top box and parking at the beach, pulling up outside shops in Bournemouth and heading over on the ferry to the Purbecks. That all sounds perfectly feasible but the reality is that I’m always going to prefer the car, for the reasons discussed above.

So my relationship with Scoots had run its course, as my previous relationships had run theirs, but letting go was painful.

I felt some of that pain at the beach this morning after an early swim. I shed a few tears as I shared my sense of loss with a friend over the phone. Scoots represented a major chapter of my life – a chapter during which I was predominantly single, doing lots of work on myself to get to where I am today. It represented those years I worked as a political journalist in parliament and whizzed around London’s streets to the gym, to the shops, to bars and restaurants. It represented my London recovery journey. And it represented a pivotal moment in my life when I trusted my gut and followed my heart, despite what others said.

But I am writing a new chapter now. I travel by car or by bike. I am part of a couple. I will always be that free spirit, adventurous and courageous, but perhaps I’m a little more cautious than I was with a desire for a few home comforts. Maybe a convertible car is the perfect compromise – plenty of breeze but a little more safety and luxury.

SAYING GOODBYE

A friend suggested that I say thank you to Scoots for all the wonderful things it brought me to help with the letting go process. I wonder if this exercise could help you to let go of someone or something too.

Thank you Scoots for helping me to love and to let go; for reminding me that it’s important to hold on to things loosely in life and to let money and possessions flow through me to others; for reminding me of my free, adventurous, courageous spirit; and for reminding me that I am a sensitive person who attaches deeply to people and to things and who deserves to be gentle with herself and show compassion and acceptance.

Most of all, Scoots, thank you for showing me that I can trust myself; that even when people try to talk me out of things, I can trust my instinct and follow my heart. Thank you for confirming that when I do so, remarkable things happen. Thank you for being such a wonderful testament to my growth and recovery.

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The sun going down on Scoots. Gone, but never forgotten.

Posted in codependency, Eating disorders, Love, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Acceptance, Trust, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving up on ourselves

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How can we keep the fire burning?

Do you give up on yourself? Do you let the energy drain from your dreams? Do you let the light go out on your ideas? Do you get all fired up and excited about something, then feel your enthusiasm dwindle away? Do you struggle to finish what you start?

Maybe you don’t even realise it’s happening to you. Maybe you just talk yourself out of your dreams in a seemingly logical way.

It was a mediocre idea anyway. It’s been done before. It won’t make any money. I haven’t got the time. Who do I think I am? That person is doing the same thing so much better than me. There’s no space for another writer/painter/coach etc. It just wasn’t meant to be …

I realised last weekend, on a much deeper level than ever before, that I have a tendency – or even a compulsion – to give up on myself; to give up on my visions and dreams; to talk myself out of doing the things that my heart longs to do. I have a long list of things I’ve talked myself out of over the years, things that I’ve hidden away from, and it makes me feel very sad to remember them all.

I used to work in Brazil as a foreign correspondent for Reuters. I had so much opportunity to write fantastic, creative features in an incredibly diverse and colourful country. The Amazon was within arm’s reach. Stories were everywhere. All I needed was a good idea and the gumption to make it happen. I had many ideas but I didn’t follow them through. The light came on – I got all excited – and then the energy drained out of me. I powered down.

Why?

The answer is FEAR. I was scared. Scared to move out of my comfort zone. Scared my work wouldn’t be perfect. Scared of being judged, criticised and humiliated, and therefore of being hurt. I had been hurt before – at a much deeper level and when I was a lot younger – and I didn’t want to feel hurt again. Pain was to be avoided at all costs. It seemed a much better idea to hide – to hide behind the boring routine of writing about Brazilian interest rates or inflation stats. Yes, I chose interest rates over jungle tribes. I chose a trip to the Central Bank over an Amazonian adventure.

For some, that wouldn’t be a bad choice but for me – a woman who’s always loved adventure and who longed to explore the jungle – it was soul destroying.

And I mean SOUL DESTROYING.

I might not have realised it at the time, not at a conscious level, but deep down, I knew that the choices I was making on a day-to-day basis were gradually killing off my soul and spirit. That’s one of the reasons I ate, or avoided eating. I sat in an office in Brasilia, drinking diet Coke all morning to avoid eating and then bingeing on food as soon as everyone had left the office and it was just me and the story about interest rates.

This is why I talk of feeling SOUL DEAD at the end of my Reuters career, when I was working as a political journalist in the Houses of Parliament. By that stage, I had been steadily destroying my soul for more than a decade at work (and much longer in life). I had consistently made choices out of fear rather than faith. On the outside, I was doing an amazing job, being perfect, getting everything right, enjoying the privilege of flying around the world with the prime minister. But aside from the adrenaline highs of travelling in helicopters or passing through war zones, I wasn’t enjoying my work because I was denying and hiding my true self.

I was ignoring that part of me that wanted to break out and break free; that part of me that no longer wanted to stay stuck in the safety of daily trips to No. 10 Downing Street to find out what the prime minister was up to or of reporting on the budget every year; that part of me that wanted to head off into the Amazon looking for tribes, or the British equivalent.

I’m sad to report that despite nearly 15 years working for two of the world’s largest international news agencies in Mexico, Brazil and the UK and on location in Sri Lanka, Spain, Venezuela, Argentina and Haiti, I can count the stories I’m truly proud of on one hand – the stories I created myself, from my own ideas, rather than the ones I reacted to or that were given to me on a plate.

Eventually, at what appeared to be the height of my news journalism career, I got to the point when I couldn’t stand it anymore. Depression set in and I got signed off work. My soul could no longer bear to be asleep.

That was 10 years ago. So what’s happened since then?

It’s a mixed picture. In the early days, terror gripped me. Without a steady job or income, I felt lost and I had an irrational fear that the money would run out. Without someone telling me what to write or when, I had no direction.

In many ways, the world was my oyster. I had redundancy money. I could have gone anywhere and done anything. I didn’t. I returned to the safety of a job that I knew. I even returned to my old company, albeit to a different department and to a role that was more aligned with my true self and appealed to my adventurous spirit. But there were many moments in that job when my soul was dead too – commuting into work on packed Tubes, sitting in a row of desks for too many hours staring at screens, coming up with great ideas and then feeling the energy drain away as I convinced my enthusiastic self to sit back down and shut up.

After a while, I moved on, into a well-paid political analysis job, but that really killed my soul, or what was left of it. By then, I had more self-awareness. And an idea that I was destined to do something very different. So it was more painful than ever to watch myself do work that made me want to curl up and cry.

Every now and then, I ventured into the world of freelance journalism, but believing in my ideas and then following through by pitching them to magazine or newspaper editors who I deemed to be scary and better than me was a terrifying prospect. On rare occasions, I had success. But I wasn’t consistent. I kept losing my nerve. I fell back on writing jobs that bored me but that felt safe.

And guess what? Depression soon took hold again.

Or was it grief? Was I in mourning for the soul and spirit I was killing off? Was I grieving the loss of my authentic self? Was I profoundly distressed because I wasn’t living the life I knew I was designed for, because I wasn’t using my God-given gifts, because the smart, creative, joyful, child-like soul within me had been quashed?

In both those cases – at the end of my Reuters career and in that political analysis role – the darkness I felt was a gift. Sometimes we have to feel really bad before we can make a shift. Sometimes we have to watch our life flash before our eyes and truly grieve all the things we know we’re missing out on in order to change. Sometimes it’s only when the pain is unbearable that we’re willing to do anything about it. When we’re sick and tired of feeling absolutely wretched, we might be ready to move on.

And what of today? How’s my soul? How’s my spirit?

Well, my authentic self is more alive and well than she has ever been. I am writing – writing this blog. I have written a book. They are huge positives.

But then I am not writing – I am not writing the book that’s half-written or the other book I want to write. Both those projects are at risk of ending up in the hall of fame of visions that never became a reality. But I won’t allow it. This time, I won’t allow it. I have to find a way to follow through. I have to find a way to keep my dreams alive. I have to find a way to keep the fire burning. The alternative is too dark to contemplate.

One big plus is that I am coaching and running seaside retreats and next year I’ll run my first retreat abroad. These are dreams that have come true. When I stop and think about it, this new career I have carved is beyond my wildest dreams and something I’ve had my eye on for a while.

I remember, back in the dark days of my final year at Reuters, going on a holistic holiday to Skyros in Greece. There, I signed up to a personal development course. I remember sitting in a circle under some trees with other attendees, looking at our group leader and thinking, I want to be doing what you’re doing. I want to be sat in your place. And I have made that happen, in beautiful, miraculous ways. And when I write that, I smile. I have run three successful retreats. I have almost sold out my fourth. I am exactly in the right place, using my true gifts. These words from Mandy, who flew all the way from Colorado to Bournemouth to attend my retreat in May, warm my soul and remind me to continue along this path, no matter how strong the temptation at times to give up:

“Thank you for facilitating this amazing, transformative experience. You are gifted at giving space for voices, encouraging women and fostering dreams. I’m grateful!”

But what about the other ideas? What about my vision to put my How to Fall in Love course on Udemy? What about my plan to create a course on how to stop emotional eating and to write a book on this topic, which is so close to my heart and affects so many people? (Watch my ‘How to Stop Emotional Eating’ video here). What about the online and face-to-face workshops I want to put in the diary this year? What about the other books, this blog and the blog I write for Psychologies, all neglected? What about my dream to speak my truth and share my journey in companies like Reuters – to talk about the risks of addiction, eating disorders, self-harm and over-work, and the benefits of helping employees work with balance, find their joy and follow their path? What about my vision to have a regular column in a magazine or online, or to write powerful articles for the press?

Yes, I’ve written for some of my favourite magazines. I’ve been on Woman’s Hour. But these moments feel like spurts of energy. Sudden highs. Where’s the follow-through? Why don’t I keep on pitching? Why don’t I keep sharing my ideas?

And what about all the time I still spend doing stuff that doesn’t float my boat. Yes, we all need to earn a living and my ‘Love Business’, as I lovingly call it, is a start-up. Growth is bound to be slow (or is that an excuse?). But the problem is that much of the stuff I do to earn a living doesn’t earn me a living.

I underearn. I give away my time for free or for pennies. I put in too many hours because I’m a perfectionist who deep down is a wounded child who wants everyone to love and affirm her so I try too hard, meaning I don’t earn enough, meaning I end up feeling exhausted and resentful, meaning I have these sudden urges to spend the little money I’ve managed to save on an expensive holiday.

Because there isn’t enough balance. There isn’t enough time for me. I’m too busy prioritising others and chasing love and affirmation – yes, even from complete strangers, from people I may not see again. Love me, please. Approve of me. Validate me. Tell me I’m enough. And whatever you do, don’t get angry with me. It’s sad. But it’s compulsive.

So how do we break these patterns? How do we throw off these chains?

Well, that might be for another post but I’m going to share a few ideas here.

Firstly, it helps me to write things down. So that paragraph of dreams above is my ‘To Do’ list or rather it’s my ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’ list. Those are my goals. Written in black and white. Published on the internet. Committed to you all.

Yes, accountability helps. So please hold me to account. Please help me keep the fire burning on these dreams. Please give me a nudge when you haven’t heard from me in a while or when months and months go by and my love course hasn’t appeared on Udemy and my emotional eating workshop hasn’t happened yet. Please encourage me. Please know that I really want to do these things and I know they’ll benefit many people and bring in good money, but I’m scared I’ll get hurt. Please remind me that it’s safe to follow my heart and put my work out there into the world.

Because we all know what happens if I let the light go out on my dreams, don’t we? The darkness comes. My soul goes to sleep. It’s a very sad state.

What else? Well, I can find other people to be accountable to, people who are on this path, fellow creatives and dreamers who have goals that can feel outlandish but that are actually within their reach if they are able to keep the fire burning. We can email. We can talk on the phone. We can cheer each other on. We can ask where’s the book, or the screenplay, or the concert date, or the blog post, or the online workshop. We can be honest with each other about our struggles and hold each other’s hand.

And I can draw on some spiritual help. I can get on my knees and say: God, I can’t do this alone. Please help. I can go down to the beach and feel the presence of something so much greater than me when I stand on the sand or swim in the sea. I can look up and look within, to my higher self, to the bold child inside me who wants to truly express herself and be all that she can be. I can rest against a solid tree and feel the permanence of nature, allow it to hold me in its branches, allow it to nurture me as it nurtures the plants.

I can also remember that my work is service. That I am here for a purpose and that there’s a reason why I have these gifts and talents. There’s a reason why I can write 3000 words of a blog post in a few hours, or 70,000 words of a book in five weeks. There’s a reason why I can tune in to other people’s feelings and sense what’s going on beneath the surface, beneath their words, a gift that makes me a really good and intuitive coach. There’s a reason why I can communicate well in a number of languages, why I have the links and connections I have all over the world.

And most of all, there’s a reason why I’ve had the experiences that I’ve had – the good and the bad: the struggle, the addictions, the relationship woes, the periods of self-harm, the depression, the darkness, and the recovery, the personal growth, the ever-increasing self-worth, the love and the light. 

Wouldn’t it be a shame to let these gifts and these experiences go to waste? Wouldn’t it be a shame to let the light go out on my dreams and to watch the fire turn to ash?

And wouldn’t it be a shame for you to do the same? To ignore the calling that you hear, to silence the voice inside that tells you to write or sing or dance or coach or teach or draw or paint or speak or share your wonderful gifts?

Wouldn’t it be sad if you let your light go out?

Wouldn’t it be a shame if that tiny spark of an idea never became a raging fire, capable of spreading warmth all around and of touching people’s souls with its beauty?

Think about it. Are you prepared to let that happen? Or would you like to join me on this courageous journey? I can’t promise it’s going to be easy. But it doesn’t have to be a struggle either. Maybe once we get going, it’ll all fall into place. Things will flow.

Imagine that. Imagine having the momentum of a river, gushing towards the sea, rushing over rocks and taking sticks, leaves and any other obstacles with it. Imagine this river is you, moving towards your dreams.

So ladies and gentlemen, let’s do it. Let’s keep the river flowing and keep those flames alive. Who’s with me?

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Upcoming events

Autumn How to Fall in Love retreat. October 12-15. Why do I doubt myself? Why do I question if I’m on the right path. I only have 2 rooms left and we’re only in June. Get in touch soon if of interest.

As for other events, as you read above, I have yet to turn my visions into a reality, but I have plenty of ideas so as soon as I get over myself and get out of my own way, I’ll have some news of my new Udemy courses on love and overeating, plus face-to-face and online workshops. In the meantime, I do have an online How to Fall in Love course available. And I do have my book!

Thanks for reading all 2996 words! x

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