There’s no planet B

Our planet…it’s the only one we’ve got. And although I’ve written about ways to save our planet before, I feel compelled to write again about the predicament we’re in.

If we don’t halt greenhouse emissions within just shy of 11 years, we’ll be subject to chain reactions that will change the future of humanity forever.

Famine

Drought

Cities under water

Natural disasters at an even greater scale

And yet, I don’t see anything changing in our economics, in politics, in many people’s day-to-day actions.

And I get it.

It seems like it’s too big an issue – that we’re living in a slo-mo sci-fi movie where the issues are so huge that it’s debilitating. And small scale action seems pointless.

But it’s not.

We can all make a difference by adopting changes in life on an individual level:

  • Going vegan (or reducing our meat/dairy consumption).
  • Reducing what we buy – stopping going in for fast fashion.
  • Changing our habits – whether that’s ditching cellophane or starting to compost
  • Reducing the amounts of flight we take (I’m guilty of this one!)

There are so many ways to make a difference – this article by Virgin highlights some steps you can take to reduce your impact.

But we also need wide-scale change at a political level too:

  • Changing how governments measure success – from economic growth to removal of C02 production
  • Investing in ways to solve climate change, new tech and cultural hacks
  • Considering how to reward those whose lifestyles are kinder to the environment

We can be involved in the above by contacting our politicians and letting them know that we want them to take the environment seriously. If enough of us raise our voice, we can make a difference.

Will you join me?

I’m counting on it, because we have no planet B

Good boy

I’m just on my way back home from a gorgeous wedding of close friends, Jake and Ash.

It was lovely to have a few hours away from parenthood as my husband and I danced up a storm and didn’t have any parental responsibility for an afternoon.

But despite being away from my little poppet, I was still thinking about him.

More specifically about the phrase ‘good boy’.

I’ve heard Jenson’s nursery workers use that phrase when praising him for something he’s done and I’ve heard others tell him that he’s a ‘good boy’ for similar circumstances.

But it sticks in my throat when I hear someone say ‘good boy’ to him and it’s not something I say to him when he’s shown skill or kindness or compliance.

Because I want to know that he is intrinsically good.

Regardless of his skill, kindness or compliance with my desires.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I’ll give him a free pass to do whatever he likes or that I don’t acknowledge what he’s done well.

If he does something out of line, I’ll say ‘that wasn’t nice’ or ‘be gentle please’.

And I say ‘bravo’ (I speak to him in French, this isn’t a reflection of my gentleman’s english!) or ‘bien fait’ – well done when he’s done something well.

I say the behaviour is out of line instead of saying he is out of line for doing something I disapprove of.

And I say the behaviour good instead of telling him he is good for doing something I approve of.

It’s semantics, but I think it’s important nevertheless.

Because I want him to grow up knowing that he is good.

Regardless of what he has done or not done.

Words do not do justice to the strength I feel for these words and the intensity of desire I have for him to know that he is good.

Because I believe this is a foundation – the belief that he is good – which is key for him to stand strong in life.

To feel able to follow his heart instead of hustling for the approval of others.

To not overly question his decisions but to trust his instincts.

To be happy in his own skin knowing that he is ok just as he is.

Part of me thinks ‘is this really important enough for me to raise this with his nursery?’

It’s just semantics.

And it’s not the only thing that will decide whether he has good self-esteem or a knowledge that he is fine as he is.

It’ll be Gregg and I showing him that we love ourselves, trust ourselves, believe we’re intrinsically ok.

It’ll be us respecting him and giving him enough freedom as he makes decisions for himself.

It’ll depend on us engaging in dialogue when he questions our boundaries.

Not to bend to his will, but to show him that he has a voice, is important, is intrinsically worthy of love and respect.

But stopping the ‘good boy’ comments seem like a good start.

And my gut tells me to raise it with his nursery.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, dear friend.

What’s my purpose?

I’m reading an outstanding book about women in leadership – How Women Rise. It’s showing me the behaviours that can stop me from progressing and getting what I want in my professional life. I can see lots of parallels about how it can also stop me living my best life out of work too.

Most of them are self-explanatory. I’ve listen them below in case you’re interested in learning what they are:

  1. Reluctance to claim your achievements
  2. Expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contributions
  3. Overvaluing expertise
  4. Building rather than leveraging relationships (focusing on forming close relationships at work instead of relationships that can help achieve a goal)
  5. Failing to enlist allies from day one
  6. Putting your job before your career
  7. The perfection trap
  8. The disease to please
  9. Minimising (examples of this being when you say ‘I just think…’ ‘ I don’t know but maybe…’)
  10. Too much (harnessing your emotions at work in a way that is tempered with experience and intention)
  11. Ruminating on the past
  12. Letting your radar (ability to read so much into the subtext of a situation) distract you

If any of these make you feel uncomfortable (i.e. “I strongly disagree with that, I could never harness relationships as that seems so underhand”) I’d encourage you to read the book.

I bought it for 99p on my kindle so it’s not a pricey read.

I can see myself in some of the chapters.

I’ve put down the perfectionism and ‘disease to please’ but know I don’t leverage relationships enough (the thought of that makes me uncomfortable) and can see myself in the last three chapters. Not knowing how to be a person with emotions in the workplace. dwelling on situations where I wasn’t my best, being so in touch with subtext that I get distracted from going after what I want.

It’s really challenging me and making me think hard about how I am in the workplace.

It’s also affirming that I can be me – a strong female who is in touch with her feelings – and still fly in the workplace.

It’s encouraging to hear the authors advocate for small, incremental changes to modify behaviour instead of pushing for epic changes which get abandoned after a few days or weeks because it’s all too much.

They noted that a great motivator for these changes is to work on my pitch – my ‘greater purpose’ for doing what I want to do – and look to make changes that will help me to get to where I want to be.

This has been really helpful, but also challenging because I don’t really have a detailed purpose.

I have drive.

I have ambition to do great work, work which has greater impact.

I have a desire to keep on learning and developing.

But no greater purpose.

I don’t have a calling to work in housing to reduce the amount of homeless people – although I’d love to see that happening and play a part in it.

I can’t see myself going into policy to reform early education – although I’d greatly desire to be in a position to influence this vital time of childhood development.

I don’t have ‘preventing irrevocable climate change’ as the thing I will do, although I can see myself playing a part in this through the individual and collective choices I make.

So what is my purpose?

Here are the things that spring to mind:

  • Enabling others (through coaching, connecting, ideation) to be the best they can be
  • Creating and building capacity for organisations to tackle issues in different ways – i.e. managers gaining in effectiveness
  • Enabling wide-scale change of societal issues through facilitation or different approaches, like user-centred design

These things seem to touch on what I want to do, but they don’t quite hit the spot. They don’t mean that I can say ‘so I want to work on ‘X’ so I can get to where I want to be.

Or moreso my response doesn’t mirror the book where people have a reason for being at an organisation.

Don’t get me wrong, I love where I work (for the most part!) but I don’t love it because I want to rise up to become Head of HR or a director. I work there because the leaders inspire me, I have space to grow and develop and master. It allows me to balance other things that are important to me, like travelling, spending time with my family, working flexibly.

Despite not having a purpose as defined in the book, I feel that I do have a calling – to keep on learning, developing, growing. And that’s my personal calling which makes this book so intriguing to me.

I want to learn to be an effective leader.

I want to learn to work with people who come from different viewpoints of my own, both to appreciate their differences and to learn how to communicate my thoughts in a way that resonates with people who are different from me.

I want to take on all the opportunities I can to expand intellectually.

I want to learn to embrace all that I am and to step into my magnificence and brilliance.

I want all these things to happen so that I can make a difference in the roles that I am in, wherever they are.

That’s my purpose. For now at least.

Trust myself

I’m on a weekend away with my husband’s extended family. I suppose being married to him, they’re also my extended family, which is lovely to think about as I adore them.

But in the lead-up to coming away, I was feeling the same anxiety I always have in the lead-up to going away. The kind where I feel like eating the entire contents of my cupboard to squash the intensity of the feelings inside.

And yesterday, I asked myself why this was – what was the reason behind how I was feeling?

And I realised that in the past a weekend away would have been a weekend of squashing myself.

Bending in each and every way to make sure I chatted to everyone, tried to make everyone feel included, people pleased at each and every turn.

Even if this wasn’t anyone’s expectations of me, this is what I did. I didn’t know how to be any different.

It included me going along with the crowd consensus even if the activity suggested wasn’t what I wanted to do.

And I’d have ended what should have been a beautiful weekend feeling depleted and sucked-dry of the little energy I had started the weekend with.

Or perhaps the weekend would have surprised me and I’d come away feeling recharged and energised from the conversations I’d had.

Either way, I’d always feel anxious in the lead-up to time with other people.

But yesterday, I reassured myself that this wouldn’t be the case.

I know myself better than I ever have done before.

I love myself and am able to look out for what I need in any given situation.

I advocate for what it is that I need.

But this is still new – loving myself and allowing myself what it is that I need in any situation – and so I am aware that I’m still building up trust in myself.

Trust that I will listen to myself.

Trust that I will be aware in the moment when I want to make conversation to fill the silence in between. And instead of peddling, hustling, finding things to say and questions to ask, I’ll allow myself to hold the silence.

Trust that I will do whatever it is in that moment that I want to do.

And that’s exactly how I find myself this morning.

Having listened to myself, I’m now alone in the house having some peace and quiet – time for reflection and quiet and stillness – while other people are out and about exploring the area, visiting crazy model villages and walking in the countryside.

I listened to what I needed and said ‘no thank you, I’m going to stay inside and have some time to myself‘ when people were making plans for the morning.

And so while I still felt the anxiety in the lead-up to this weekend, I know that it’s ok.

Because I recognise that trust takes time to build up, even trust in myself.

And I know that I will get there.

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A note from myself in 2017

I found a piece of writing I did in 2017 – and thought I’d share it with you, my friend.

I hope it speaks to those of you who struggle with people pleasing and low self-worth…

You feed on the affirmation of other people; their praise, encouragement, confirmation of worth and you feel that this is enough to fed you. But in truth you’re starving – the fast-food, soul detracting opinion of others is not enough, not nearly enough to sustain you.

Yet, dear one, there is enough here within you – I have plenty to share from a source that will never know scarcity.

Inside is a banquet of love, joy, abundance, generosity, confidence, surety – if only you would stop bustling around collecting the scraps and crumbs from others, you would be able to stop, to rest, to feast on these delights.

All you need is to stop.

To turn your hearing inside and listen. To notice the beat of your heart, the beat of love, continually drumming for you.

Then you would go to things, join in with things, not to exchange your authenticity for acceptance, but merely to experience life.

You would pour yourself into experiences by wouldn’t be attached to the outcome for your worth would not be defined by it.

Your worth would be anchored in yourself and you would know how fully and extraordinarily worthy you are.

❤️

Getting what I want – a feminist act

It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow and I’m looking forward to a day that has a bit of time and space in it.

I remember what was going on this time last year – I stayed at home with my four month old son whilst Gregg was at a party.

A party that he would be worse for wear from on Mother’s Day and would leave me a bit disappointed as he struggled to get out of bed and didn’t make me feel the most special of all mamas for having survived up to my first Mother’s Day.

I’m not saying this to shame Gregg or have any pity from you all – I’m aware that being disappointed at not being treated like a princess on this arbitrary day is such a first world problem!

Plus, I’ve known for a while how Greggs generally feels about ‘special’ days.

He’s ambivalent about them.

And it generally works in my favour.

He doesn’t expect a big song and dance on his birthday and isn’t fussed about having massive presents at Christmas or grand declarations on Valentine’s Day.

It’s just not him and I’ve always known that.

And so I’ve realised that I’ve got a choice with these ‘special’ days – I can expect him to ‘get’ what I want and feel let down when it doesn’t all work out as I’d like. Or I can acknowledge the situation and be clear if there’s something I want.

This doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any responsibility to make an effort. I know he’s bought me a card which he’ll make special in his own way, with perhaps a handprint from Jenson and a kind word about what he thinks of me as a mum.

Who knows, he may have even gotten me a present.

And I’m sure, even if I hadn’t said that I wanted breakfast in bed, this would have been something he would have done for me.

But I know that if I want to get what I want – on Mother’s Day or any other day, I need to step forward and use my words to ask for it.

And this, for me, is a deep act of feminism.

You see, I don’t know where it comes from, but I’ve felt scared of speaking up about what I really want for most of my life.

I don’t quite know where it comes from and part of it is fear of asking for what I want and being let down.

But a lot of my silence stems from my impression of what an ‘attractive’ women (attractive to men, now I think about it) should be like.

And in my mind, she shouldn’t be loud or outspoken.

She shouldn’t be ‘too much’ – asking for more than the other can give them.

She should be dainty and docile and quiet.

Not needy in the slightest.

But I’m casting that aside.

I want to be loud and outspoken.

I want to ask for what I want, even if it is too much for people to give me.

I want to be bold in going for what I want.

Heck, I want to take up space, to be feisty and loud and needy.

This isn’t in order for Gregg to grant my every wish (although I think he will tomorrow – breakfast in bed and a lie in are the pinnacles of my hopes for Mother’s Day!).

This is in order for me to grant my own wishes. To act out of the knowledge that I have the agency to create the most wonderful life possible for myself.

Felix Felicis

I’ve had a lucky day. The luckiest that I’ve had in a while.

So lucky that I’ve felt as if I’ve drunk some ‘Felix Felicis’ – lucky potion from the world of Harry Potter. A potion which led him to find out Lord Voldemort’s understanding of Horcruxes and ultimately led to the good witches and wizards winning the epic fight of good against evil.

Sorry if I’ve dropped a major spoiler on you…but it’s been almost two decades since the Potter books were released!

What has my luck been today?

Well, I’m off work today and the weather has been glorious!

I unearthed a remote that Jenson had hidden away and we thought was lost forever more (and the other remote we’ve got has started to be on the blink so it’s great that I’ve found our spare one).

I managed to get to some of my favourite people for a chat on the phone and I’ve found true ease in the day.

It’s just glided beautifully along.

Don’t worry though – this isn’t a post simply about how f-ing perfect my life is in some sort of aggressive rant about #myperfectlife.

It’s about seizing the day.

You see, since it’s an especially lucky day, I thought that I would proactively seek things that I’d love to experience or would do if I knew I had taken a dose of felix felicis.

So I reached out to a woman I’ve seen around Brighton and asked to get involved with some events she runs. They’re really inspiring and I’d love to direct a bit of my energy into helping with them…as well as perhaps finding some more people who are my sort of people in the Brighton area.

And I contacted a woman who runs a podcast I adore to see if I’d be the sort of person she’d like to have on as a guest. It feels like a long shot in some ways but in the spirit of today, I thought ‘why not me?!’

I’m not sure what will come of these two things – perhaps something positive, perhaps something negative, perhaps nothing.

But it’s shown me a glimpse of what life would be like if I lived from a sense of possibility and a belief that good things are coming my way.

I would put myself in front of things I want.

I’d reach out to people who intrigue me.

I’d ask for what I want.

I’d listen to my intuition more – when to say ‘hell yes!’ and when to be comfortable prioritising myself and my need for solitude.

Yes, luck is about things happening in synchronicity around us. But it’s also us adapting and shaping and responding to things around us.

Thinking ‘why not me?’ ‘why not now?’ and seizing opportunities that are around us.

It’s been a wonderfully lucky day…

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Shoutout to my ex(es)

I was cycling to the train station this morning, listening to ‘Shoutout to my Ex’ and smiled thinking about all I’ve learnt from past relationships.

It was a bittersweet moment, mostly sweet, now that I’m over a decade past my last relationship outside of my marriage.

In my first significant relationship, I remembered how I listened to my boyfriend telling me how I wasn’t thin enough, well dressed enough, didn’t have nice enough hair, how my friends weren’t good enough, how my French wasn’t perfected enough.

How I wasn’t enough.

When I look back on this relationship, I think it was emotionally abusive and when it ended, I remember thinking how I would never let someone treat me in the same way.

I was worth more than being with someone who was essentially trying to change everything about me to fit into some sort of ‘acceptable’ version of myself.

And it’s something I’ve never gone back to. Sure, I’ve told myself frequently that I’m not enough (something I’m working on) but I’ll not stand for anyone else saying these sorts of hurtful things to me.

My other significant relationship taught me to put myself first.

Not in a selfish, stampeding over others way. But I truly believe that everyone’s job is to look after themselves in relationships so they can be the best person they’re able to be for the other person.

With this relationship I put his happiness first. I bent backwards to accommodate him and his needs – some very serious needs since he suffered from clinical depression.

I crushed myself into a little ball within myself so that there was more space for him.

I didn’t state my needs and stand firm with the expectation that they should be met to the same extent that his needs were being met by me.

I remember the first time I said ‘I love you‘ to him was when he was going through a period of bad depression. We were lying on his bed and he was so low he couldn’t even speak.

I cared for him so much and wanted to fix him. But that wasn’t what my role should be as his girlfriend.

I look back at that moment and internally cringe at what my younger self was setting herself up for. If I could have a re-do, what I would have said was ‘I really care for you and love you, but you’re in no position to be in a relationship right now. You need to focus on getting yourself healthy. And when you’re there, come look me up.

But I’m glad for that experience looking back because it taught me to put myself first when it comes to my significant other.

Without doing that, I’m good for no one.

I met my husband, Gregg, not long after breaking up with this final ex, and because of this experience of putting myself last, I was forthright about what I wanted and didn’t want.

And to my surprise, Gregg was into it.

He was ok with me being clear about my expectations, setting out what I wanted and what was acceptable for me.

And whilst this relationship isn’t perfect, it’s a pretty awesome one.

So I’m giving a shout out to my exes.

Thank you for what you taught me and for how that’s taken me to where I am now.

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Anger

I’ve been feeling a bit stuck lately. Risking falling back into old patterns of comfort eating and feeling the old echoes of poor self-esteem and the belief that I’m not enough.

It’s been hard, although life has also been full of joy with seeing my son, Jenson develop so beautifully into his own little self. But in the moments of hardship, I’ve felt stretched beyond my means. I think this is mostly down to how I’m pouring all I have into Jenson and work, with little left for myself or other parts of my life.

I need to work out how I can have more balance…I feel like I’m getting there with my mum group looking at how I can find balance and trying to get time to myself. But it all feels like I’m just piling more stuff onto my ‘to do’ list – plan a date night, arrange more fun in my life – and things that should bring me joy are just bringing me a sense of heaviness.

And it doesn’t make me the easiest partner for my husband as I snap at him, feel so wrung out that I have little left for him, put him at the bottom of the list for my consideration and attention.

I hate it. And as understanding and loving as he is, I don’t want to stay like this.

It feels like, at times, little things push me over the edge.

Like how, when was woken up at 5:15am on Sunday by Jenson and it was my turn to look after him, I felt so utterly and completely pissed off.

Angry at having to get up.

Angry at Gregg for being able to sleep in.

Angry at myself for being angry when I have such an angel of a son.

And the only thing I could think to do was to roll my duvet up into a ball and punch it as hard as I could.

It’s a technique a counsellor has suggested to me years ago to express my anger and, not liking her very much, I’d shrugged off as ridiculous.

But, to my surprise, it was amazing.

The thwump sound it made, the resistance it provided, its softness which meant I didn’t hurt myself.

And Jenson found it hilarious, chuckling away at me as I beat my duvet to a pulp.

And in that moment I realised there’s another side to how I’m feeling.

There’s the tender side of me which needs more care and attention.

But there’s the frustrated, angry side of me – the side that holds back my frustration when Jenson is playing up, the frustration of being measured and balanced at work when I feel anything other than that inside, the frustration of having to hold the mental load at home (do we have food to eat, what plans do we have this week, better get the dinner on or we’ll be eating at midnight, how do we get to X, who should we speak to about Y) when I feel up to and over my eyeballs in responsibility.

It’s a side I haven’t acknowledged or expressed but as I was punching that duvet, boy did it feel good!

And so on Monday I went to a box fit class and spent 45 minutes pushing myself physically and enjoying the beautiful release that it was to punch something and release my pent-up rage.

I felt powerful, I felt relieved to have an outlet to how I was feeling.

And I know that this is something I need to explore more – my shadow side, my anger – to be at peace.

And as I do that, I’ll share my findings with you, my friend.

I showed up

I arranged a meet-up for likeminded mamas who wanted to gain more balance in their lives this Saturday just passed. (I wrote about what it’s for here).

As I was waiting for strangers I didn’t know would show up or not, wondering if this was the biggest mistake for how I was choosing to spend some precious alone time on a Saturday afternoon, I spoke these words to myself:

Whatever happens today, I’m showing up.

I’m choosing to gain more balance in my life.

I’m deciding to take action so that my life is not just work, Jenson and mindless zombie staring at a TV screen in the evening.

And so I showed up and, with the three other mothers who came along, I got real value from our time together.

I heard stories of different couples and realised that I am not my best self with Gregg a lot of the time –

  • Grumpy if I have too little sleep
  • Unbearable if I’m hungry
  • So bent up on ‘alone time’ that I can argue over Jenson like he’s a commodity (“you had 2 hours of alone time yesterday, I want exactly that time to myself today”)
  • So that was a great realisation, something I can be aware of and perhaps try to change.
  • During our time together, I also explored where I wanted to get more balance in my life and here’s what I decided:
  • I committed to planning a date night with Gregg over the next month and promised to spend a few hours each Wednesday evening doing something I enjoy which isn’t sitting in front of the TV like a zombie. It most probably will be blogging, cooking, painting my nails, learning something new, exercising, having a bath, calling a friend for a chat…something that nourishes me.
  • I also got a glimpse of what I could work on over the coming weeks and months – regaining more intimacy with my husband (sorry family, if you’re reading this!), committing to spending less on coffee, having slightly less sugar in my diet, reconnecting with my emotions…
  • In those two hours, I understood the power of meeting as a group of women instead of as a group of mums – supporting each other, challenging each other, gaining new perspectives on things.
  • And although we shared our struggles and threw in some funny stories of our lives, I felt the same thing that one of the participants shared – how it felt different to a usual mum meet-up because we were focused on outcomes.
  • We weren’t merely saying what was tough in our life and getting emotional support, we were each challenged to say ‘so what next?! What am I going to do about this?!’ in whatever big or small way.
  • It felt so good to meet up with other mums and I can’t wait for our next meet-up in four weeks time.