Raising my voice

I’ve been lone parenting this weekend as Gregg is at a stag party. I took Jenson to an animal rights protest in London yesterday, partly out of desire to be an active citizen and partly to have some plans to fill up my three days alone with him.

I’m so glad I went.

I loved hearing from animal activists who had so much information to share.

I loved the atmosphere as we marched through the streets of London, handing out flyers to the public.

I loved being part of something bigger than myself as we showed images of how animals are killed for our pleasure, kept in tiny cages so businesses can make as much profit as possible, viewed more as a commodity than a being who feels, fears and loves just like we do.

But that wasn’t my feeling right at the start of the march.

I felt uncomfortable, out of sorts, anxious as I made my presence known on the streets of London.

I felt like I didn’t have a right to be there.

It felt wrong to be speaking out – and speaking loud – instead of being in my safe little zone where I am vegan and will gently say why I am if people ask why (the reason, if you’re interested in for the planet – we can’t survive whilst still consuming such high levels of meat and dairy – and because of how animals are kept, treated and killed).

But I keep myself to myself.

I don’t push limits.

I keep my vegan views, my ‘controversial’ views of parenthood, family, love out of this blog for fear of offending you, dear friend.

And in that moment, something clicked for me. I realised that I don’t allow myself to be fully seen.

I don’t allow myself to share my views unless I’m given express permission to do it by someone.

And there are so many reasons I can think why.

Girls aren’t brought up to be forceful and I feel like I’m ‘too much’ when I think about my opinions and views on a range of topics.

I’m fearful of speaking out as that reminds me of my Christian experience growing up where we’d be encouraged to try to ‘convert’ people to our way of thinking.

I don’t feel comfortable dealing with conflict and, in putting my opinions ‘out there’, there will be many people who will disagree with me.

But that’s ok to live with these reasons – I can grapple with them as I work through giving myself permission to be seen and my voice heard.

And by that I mean all that I am, not just the bits of me that are mainstream and not controversial.

It feel scary and new and different to do this, but living this way feels aligned to the name of my blog – courage, truth and love – and so I know it’s the right thing for me to do.

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A narrow set of rules that just don’t work

I’ve been thinking about my age old stumbling block – my body – since I went to see the Guilty Feminist Live a few weeks ago.

I was lucky enough to hear the amazing music of Grace Petrie who is a singer/activist and also a self-proclaimed butch lesbian who never felt she fitted until she came to peace with who she was and how she looked.

And in hearing how she felt she didn’t belong because she didn’t fit into the ideal of femininity, I realised just how much I only feel I belong if I’m at my thinnest and fit into the female ideal of beauty.

I don’t really understand why I feel this way, but I do.

I don’t hold other people up to the same standard. If someone is overweight it doesn’t make me question their worthiness or think less of them.

I might wonder whether there’s a reason for it – some hurt they’re trying to bury with food, a medical reason, because they love food and don’t feel ashamed of being who they are in their body.

But with me, I believe being a bit soft round the edges shows me as weak, not able to cope, lacking in self-control and so many other things…

But after seeing Grace and marvelling at the idea of fully embracing myself, I’ve been wondering about a few things.

What if I lived by Grace’s words?

Some of her song lyrics – and the title of this post – are ‘a narrow set of rules that just don’t work’.

And that’s, in my ‘logical’ thinking moments something I understand about my thoughts about my size.

Not everyone is made to be a size 6/8/10/12.

And by saying ‘you must control yourself to stay thin and within these narrow views of beauty’ I’m saying to myself that it’s not ok to not be perfect.

But perfection isn’t real and these rules about what is ok to be, food-wise, is too narrow.

It’s not realistic.

It’s not something that works for me.

It’s not ok to not be ok

Food and body image becomes more problematic to me when I’m not doing ok.

When I’m treading on new and tricky ground.

When I’m challenging myself in areas that I’ve not challenged myself before.

And that’s what I’m doing at the moment – I’m out of my comfort zone and so it’s no wonder that the old self-critical voice and comfort-eating behaviour is creeping back.

It’s not a wonder really with the strides I’m taking in my life:

  • I’m shedding the thought that I mustn’t stand out or ask for things for risk of being thought of as a nuisance.
  • I’m getting the self-belief and assurance to take time for myself in my personal life. Seizing time for myself just as my husband does when he goes to park run on a Saturday or football on a Wednesday evening.
  • I’m doing different things at work which are new and uncomfortable – having challenging conversations, staying in ‘adult’ mode when I want to be the rescuing ‘parent’, considering how I might work as more of a team instead of staying safe through being self-sufficient.
  • So I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m not entirely ok at the moment.
  • But that’s ok.
  • When I am going through periods of growth, I tend to turn to food for comfort before I slowly unfurl into new territory.
  • And that’s ok.
  • I don’t quite believe that I could be a size 14/16/18 and still think of myself as fantastic, worthy, brilliant. But I’m recognising this and trying to change my inner dialogue.
  • I’m making headway.
  • What if I loved my body like I love my son’s body? 

    Like with other people, I don’t measure my son by his body. But it’s a part of him that I love. His beautiful, plump arms and legs ripe for the biting, his cheeks so soft to stroke and kiss as he lies next to me, sleeping.

    He could be twice or half the size and I would still look at him as perfection. And, although I love his body, it is a small part of who he is.

    He is his cheeky smile and his ability to spot small details at such a small age.

    He is his obsession with bubbles and his pushing around of Harold the Bear in his little pushchair.

    He is the ‘woof’ he says when he sees the dog and his concentration as I read story after story to him.

    He is his strong legs that allow him to toddle around.

    He is his hands that clap and his fingers that he moves to try to mimic ‘baby shark’.

    He is his body – and I love it for all it is – but he is so much more than that too.

    And to view it in isolation is to do him a grave injustice.

    To view my body in isolation is, likewise, to do myself a grave injustice.

    What if loving my body was a great act of rebellion?

    It does feel rebellious, the thought of accepting, loving and cherishing my body, whatever its size.

    To see rolls around my waist (just the act of writing this feels disgusting!) when I sit down without any sense of disappointment or judgement or disgust.

    To no longer look sidewise to see how narrow my body is because it’s just not a priority for me.

    To look at my body as I did just after giving birth to my son – with wonder, respect and gratitude for what it does for me.

    To not be defined by how I look.

    To not think I’m less deserving because of not being a small size 12 or that my body and my size has anything to do with my worth or my worthiness as a person.

    When I look at myself through this lens, it feels like a deeply rebellious act.

    It’s not an act of self-sabotage – pushing as much food as possible in myself to defy a society which tells me who I should be.

    It’s an act of deep self-love and freedom to nourish myself, give myself food I love and food that provides nutrients without any heed to my size.

    Without any pressure to my anything other than I am.

    Without any rules defining what I should or shouldn’t be.

    So where do I go from here?

    I accept that I still have far to go on my journey.

     I remind myself that it’s ok to not be ok.

    I send gratitude to the divinity of motherhood for the chance to see a love I want for myself mirrored in the love I have for my son.

    I see the small seed of hope for the future me.

    I am reminded to look at myself with love and compassion.

    And I’ll end this blog with some words from Grace’s beautiful song:

    “You will figure out what’s yours and that it’s got nothing to do with fitting neatly in a box that was constructed to make it seem like people come in just two teams and anything that’s in between ain’t good enough”

    Some quick ponderings

    There are so many things that are going on for me right now. I’d love to spend hours unpacking them and digesting them on here…but the truth is that I’m speed typing this while my son is still asleep and I don’t have time to write a fat, satisfying blog post which dives into all and everything that is going on for me.

    But I’d love to get some of what I’m thinking and feeling onto this digital page to perhaps visit later on.

    TV

    Sometimes I get obsessed with a programme and want to do nothing else but spend my days and nights drinking it in until it’s over. The OA, Grey’s Anatomy, This is Us, Game of Thrones, Louis Theroux documentaries.

    But more than ever at the moment I’m bored of TV. I find myself viewing myself watching something, sitting in front of a scenario which in some ways is a play-by-play of plots that have come before it.

    This probably speaks of my hunger to do more than it does of the shows that are failing to keep my attention. I’ve been at home mostly every night for my son since his birth, but I feel something inside me call to do more, to have more active things for myself.

    I’m looking into drumming groups, I feel like running once a week might be good for me…I’ve not quite yet sorted out what this means for me, but I know something needs to change.

    Brexit

    We started talking about Brexit at work the other day and I felt so strongly about my view and so negatively about the other people’s views that I needed to leave the room to not raise my voice in a way that’s inappropriate for the workplace.

    What makes it so hard to listen to the other people?

    Why can’t I open my mind to see where they’re coming from as I can with mostly every other sentiment?

    And I’m mulling over a thought that someone shared with me – how so much is passing us by – damning reports about the state of care for the elderly and children in care, the environment, the reducing budget to local council budgets which is crippling their ability to respond to those in need. And there are so many other critical areas which I am ignorant of – which are passing us by while we argue about whether we should leave or we should remain.

    I want to do more – protest, revolt, make a stand for all these things that are so important to me – and yet I don’t know where to start. I don’t know where I can make a difference. I’m unsure where my voice could be heard beyond my own echo chamber of social media and the groups of people who have the same opinion as me.

    Stopping shopping

    It’s been almost a year since I stopped buying anything for myself that wasn’t essential. A year of not buying shoes, clothes, stationary or unneeded beauty products. I’ve stumbled a few times –

    • I bought a dress (which is lovely but I didn’t need).
    • I bought a teething necklace when I had a 30% off voucher (which I felt compelled to get but was a total waste of money)
    • I bought a lip stain when I have loads of other lipsticks (but I like that this makes me feel pretty without making me look like I’ve got lipstick on)

    Each time has taught me something about myself and my relationship with consumerism.

    I’ve relaxed my rules slightly over the year – I’ve bought a few helpful apps for my phone  (some have been great, some have been pointless) and a few books for a kindle so I didn’t need to lug around physical books on my travels (worth it in my opinion).

    So the question for me is where I go from here to keep up my life of consuming less.

    “Don’t be a nuisance”

    I’ve noticed a voice holding me back at work. A voice which tells me to not bother people, to not stir things up or be pushy or take up too much space.

    But to be effective in what I do, I need to push forward my agenda, I need to step into my power and take up space.

    I’m ready to unfurl, but also scared of what this means.

    I can feel a tightness in my throat as I think about it:

    • Speaking my truth
    • Demanding from others instead of hiding behind likeability
    • Being more honest about what is going on for me
    • Trusting more in myself, my skills, what I have to offer, my opinions and ideas about the way forward.

    I’ve noticed how I’ve wanted to eat more recently – and to be honest, I have eaten to push down my fear about this.

    It feels overwhelming at times to step into myself.

    To let go of the behaviour that brought me to my struggles of today, which means turning back to how I was as a little girl – at school, at home, at church – trying to be accepted and contorting myself to fit in.

    This way of behaving doesn’t fit me anymore, yet I don’t quite know how to step forward into my power.


    So there are the immediate thoughts that spring to mind in the surprisingly long time my son has been asleep.

    Happy Sunday to you, friend. I’m sending you hopes that you, too, get a bit of time to reflect on what’s going on in your mind and in your life.

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    I’ve made it!

    Last week I applied to be a guest on a mothering podcast I frequently listen to. It was a bit of a long shot as the guests on there have been successful entrepreneurs, authors of books and other people who are known in their own circle of the world – whether it be the coaching, complimentary therapy or spiritual world – as someone a bit special.

    And while I think I have important messages to share – about self-worth, kindness to the planet, feminism – I’m not known.

    I wouldn’t imagine many people saying ‘you know, Amy thinks…’ to inform their discussions. Partly because my writing and work is based around feelings and intuition instead of primary research I’ve conducted but also because I haven’t ‘made it’.

    But then again, I’m viewing success out of the filter of my own insecurities. In many ways, I know that I am respected and my work is valuable. I mean, there’s proof in you reading this post – I guess that you’ve come to my blog because you enjoy what I say, you respect my opinions, you find my worldview interesting.

    And writing the blog has made me question what ‘made it’ even means. Here are some of my theories:

    • Having someone publish your words and thoughts
    • Reaching a large audience with your work
    • Earning £100,00s per year
    • Being told my others that you’ve made it
    • People hunting you out for opportunities instead of you chasing them out

    But I can see that all these measures are measures of external validation which doesn’t interest me nearly as much as it did before.

    What someone thinks of me, spends their time doing with my thoughts, pays to work with me has nothing to do with the unique and wonderful person I know myself to be.

    It’s not how I measure my success.

    And while I am unsure whether I’ll be asked to come onto the podcast – I imagine the podcaster wants to work with guests who are of interest to her target audience but also those who have a large enough fan base to amplify her work and get more followers/coaching clients – but I’ve realised that this is really inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

    I won’t ‘make it’ when others tell me I’m important, want to speak to me, invite me to collaborate with them (although it would be really flattering for these things to come true!).

    I’ll make it when I live a life going after what I want. And what I want is to meet people who are kindred spirits, to be courageous, to live an expansive and adventurous life.

    And I’ve done that in applying to be a guest on the podcast.

    I’ve truly made it.

    Taking up space

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I made myself small in the past.

    How I focused on being ‘likeable’ to all and felt uncomfortable with the few relationships which were less than glowing.

    How I moderated a lot of what I said with disqualifiers – words like ‘just’ or ‘possibly’ or ‘I don’t know but…’

    How I bent over backwards to accommodate others to the detriment of myself.

    And although these are still behaviours that are my go-to positions when I feel tired or not at my best, I can see that I’ve started to take up more space in my life.

    And I love it!

    I love how I ask for what I need – whether it be time alone away from the demands of motherhood or asking for a glass of water from staff in a cafe.

    I allow myself to take up space.

    I love how I’ve embraced who I am and all the brilliant things I have to offer to this world – as someone who has a brilliant career ahead of them and the ability to do incredible things in this world.

    I believe that I’m deserving of the space and recognition of all that I am.

    I love how, more and more, I also delight in the sides of me that I used to hide away. How I’m stubborn, make vast assumptions about things, can be selfish and can hold on too tight to my views. Because they are the flip-side of my greatest assets – my stubborness is also my tenacity, my assumptions allow me to take in huge amounts of data and make quick sense of them, my selfishness allows me to self-protect and by holding tight to what is dear to me, I am dedicated to things like veganism, living as ecologically as possible and living out my belief that nuclear family should come first.

    I believe that my shadow self should be allowed space.

    It’s great how I give myself time to listen to my instincts more and more in life. When asked if someone can crash at our place for a night, I don’t feel obliged to say ‘yes’ straight away. I think about whether it will be something that will stretch me beyond my means and, if that’s the case, I say ‘no’.

    I listen to what I need and, while I want to help people out, I want my own happiness more.

    I’m moving away from the long-held belief that others should come first and that I intrinsically owe something to them. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in kindness, empathy, being generous with what I have. The difference is that I don’t believe I should give away more than I can – my time, my integrity, my self – for others.

    And with this comes such a capacity for generosity, love, abundance as I allow myself the space I need and, where I want to, I give out of choice instead of obligation.


    When I think about where I am now and where I was when I first started writing this blog of mine (268 posts to date!), I couldn’t have ever imagined that I’d be here, happier in my own skin, kinder with my stumbles, confident in who I am, accepting of my whole self.

    It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster – full of times where I’ve wept with sorrow and brimmed over with joy – but I am so grateful for where I am and for all the space that I’m allowing myself to take up in my life.

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    Love myself

    I used to put on the song ‘Love Myself’ by Hailee Steinfeld and dance around my house. Buoyed by its energy and the seemingly radical sentiment of loving myself, I couldn’t get enough of it.

    I’ve just read the lyrics and the song is a little strange (about physically loving yourself) but I stand by my love of it. My attraction to the radical notion of self-love in a society which seems to push how we aren’t good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, youthful enough.

    And on reflecting on where I am in life, I feel so happy that I can say more than ever before that I like and love myself.

    Before, it felt like this was an egotistical thing to feel – loving myself.

    I felt it meant being too big for your boots or big-headed.

    But I now see that it’s the foundation for so much in life.

    Liking yourself and knowing your self-worth is a fundamental necessity for being able to function as a well-adjusted adult.

    Sure, I still have times where I don’t talk to myself with kindness. Where I exasperate myself and I doubt what I have to offer.

    But more and more, my stance is one of positive self-regard.

    Of sureness of what I have to offer to the world and to myself.

    And here’s what I think when I appraise who I am:

    I’m an intelligent, strong, driven, caring woman.

    I’m someone who thrives off of learning new things – my capacity to develop and grow is one of my biggest strengths and something I’m proud of.

    I’ve also got a large capacity to learn – I’m bright.

    I’m driven and want to be the best I can be – a good mother, good friend – to myself and others, good daughter, good sister, good worker.

    I’m creative, I’ve got a talent for writing.

    I’m also warm and am good at including others and making people feel they matter.

    I’m also funny in my own way.

    A year ago, I’d have had a massive lump in my throat from the anxiety of thinking about sharing this with you – what would you think of me? how egotistical will you judge me to be?! – but now it feels like a fact.

    This is who I am.

    Not all that I am, mind you.

    There’s also my shadow side.

    The side of me that is stubborn and selfish and greedy and insecure. Not willing to see other perspectives and so busy that I don’t take time to just be.

    But my shadow doesn’t define me anymore like it used to. And I love myself with my shadows.

    I feel more balanced and at peace, more comfortable in my own skin than not.

    And it’s a beautiful place to be.

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    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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