blogging, conflict, courage, self-discovery, trust

The sort of person I am…

I spoke to a good friend recently about how I tend to back down if someone tells me that I’m incorrect about something. Faced with their conviction about being right, I assume that I must be in the wrong.

I suppose it’s a good way to be in part as I’m open to the ideas and thoughts of other people. But I also find that it makes me concede on things that are important to me, makes me avoid or give into differences of opinion or confrontation at work and also removes the fun from many activities (pub quizzes are no fun when you constantly doubt yourself when faced with a difference of opinion!).

I had a conversation with my husband, Gregg, the other day about cheeky wipesa reusable baby wipe set we have. I said I wash them at 30 degrees and he said he read in the instructions that they needed to be done at 60 degrees. Only a small matter but still, it made me panic to think about how the wipes must have been unsanitary to use on Jenson and the germs I had spread to our other clothes that had been washed with the wipes.

Two days later, Gregg mentioned having re-read the instructions which said to wash them between 30-60 degrees. So I had been right! But had doubted myself!

The friend I spoke to about this made a great point that I’m the sort of person who would read the instructions properly and this got me thinking…

What if I took more confidence in the sort of person I am instead of doubting myself when faced with individual differences of opinion?

I would have more faith in myself. I’d enter into dialogue (“that can’t be right, I’m sure I read you could wash them at 30 degrees“) instead of doubting what I know. I’d ask for evidence of what the other person was saying before backing down.

It feels good to think about taking more confidence in the person I am. It’s a small shift in mindset but one which will allow me to stand firm in who I am and what I know.

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blogging, motherhood, parenthood, self-discovery, trust

Intuition

I’ve not been great at trusting my intuition, instead I’ve always tended to trust people in positions of authority. I think our education system, culture and my personality has meant that I tend to trust others and this has often manifested as trusting others more than I trust myself.

This is a tricky one to untangle but I think the crux of me trusting others more than my own intuition is this:

  1. I make assumptions about small things in life – where a restaurant is, what time a party starts, how long it will take me to get somewhere – but for the big things in life where others are depending on me being right (things at work, finances, facts), I will make sure I’m 100% certain that I’m right before offering my thoughts. So when someone else puts their opinion forward with conviction, I assume that their view is right (I mean surely they wouldn’t put their views forward if they weren’t 100% certain they were right?!). But I’ve become aware that this might not always be the case – they may not be right.
  2. I also used to think in absolutes – that there was a ‘right’ answer to everything. But my thinking has changed and I know that there are multiple answers to everything and I believe that one person’s right might be another person’s wrong.
  3. I’ve never liked confrontation very much or disagreeing with other people. As a coping mechanism – to not have to disagree with anyone – I’ve tended to let go of my opinions in favour of other people’s views. But I know that this isn’t how I want to live.

And so I know that I need to start listening to my own intuition more. And now is exactly the right time as a mother navigating the many and varied polarised views about parenting. There’s so much that I need to form an opinion on at the moment – feeding, whether to use a dummy or not, sleeping, how much stimulation he needs, the types of nappies we use, weaning, nurseries… So many decisions that need to be made and so many people weighing in with their opinions about what is best.

In order to trust my intuition about these things, I know that I need to address some of what I’ve explored above – getting better at confrontation, reminding myself that there are very few absolutes in life and practice living by the very eloquent words of the hiphop artist Chipmunk (is he still around?!) in the song Champion:

“opinions aren’t facts take them in and let them go”

And I also know that I need to trust my intuition about how to start trusting my intuition – I hope that makes sense! There are so many books, blogs, videos and people who have their own opinions about so many things. They can drown out my own instincts about what is best for me and my family. So I’m going to have a hiatus from reading, watching, following all these things in order to get some quiet and space to understand what is right for me.

One of my coaching clients made a really great point when we last spoke – how it’s better to start making small incremental changes instead of going for 100% perfection. And so I’m also going to take her very wise advice and work on trusting my instincts with trying to get my son, Jenson, to fall asleep by himself in the daytime.

And that’s what I did yesterday.

I put Jenson down in his bed when his eyes were red-rimmed and he was milk-drunk tired. He is used to sleeping on me and let me know he didn’t like this new arrangement by crying. I set my timer to 5 minutes – a time I was comfortable leaving him to grizzle (as long as it wasn’t the distressed cry that I recognise and would always respond to). But before the timer was up he stopped crying for a few moments and sat peacefully by himself before starting to grizzle again. And on this went for about 15 minutes until he went to sleep and had a 30 minute nap.

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I’d felt nervous about trying this but it showed me that I could set my own parameters – only leaving him when he was grizzling – and that my intuition that he was able to sleep alone was right.

And oh the things I did in those 30 minutes (I wonder how I spent my time before he came along!) – made and ate lunch, hung out the washing, wrote most of this, responded to some e-mails, sat in quiet for a moment. It was totally worth trusting my intuition for me to find some alone time in the day and for Jenson to learn to soothe himself – a skill I think is really important for him.

I know that this approach is not for everyone – some of my mum friends aren’t even considering leaving their little one to self-settle if it involves them crying until they are much older. But that’s what intuition is about, right? Knowing that we are individuals who will have different views, opinions, needs. And trusting ourselves that we will make the right judgement call…and that it’s ok if once in a while we get the call wrong.

It’s all about learning.

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blogging, compassion, eating disorder, recovery, self-discovery, trust

It gets easier

If there’s one thing I could go back and tell my younger self about battling an addition – my particular type being food – it would be this: eventually it gets easier.

That’s not to say that it’s inevitable that people will make a recovery from addiction. I feel incredibly lucky to have teetered on the edge of the anorexic abyss and managed to claw my way back to shaky ground.

But it doesn’t make my message back to the younger Amy any less true.

It gets easier.

For so long I felt like I would never be free of this demon of mine – the sweet release I would feel by pushing my feelings down under copious amounts of food, or starving my emotions away by exercising beyond exhaustion. Recovery, normality, seemed like an impossibility.

Don’t get me wrong. In those years it wasn’t all darkness. I experienced moments of liberating freedom – dancing with friends, laughing with family, connecting with those I cared about deeply – but the monster was ever there. The shadow voice calling to me. Tempting me to eat, to gorge, to annhialite myself.

To resist this voice often felt impossible, to think about not buying food brought on a panic close to suffocation. And so I seesawed my way through much of my late teens and 20s, lurching from overeating to starving, freezing my feelings away or burying myself under food.

It was hard but I took some tentative steps forward. I had some counselling, dared to share some of myself with those I trusted, started to listen, accept and love myself just a little bit.

These were baby bird steps forward over several years and it felt for so long that I took 1 step forward and 50 steps back. Because this was often the reality. But I took those steps forward regardless.

And sometimes, just sometimes, I was able to ask myself ‘will this food give me what I truly desire?’ and I was able to resist my shadow voice. Even if a few minutes later I thought ‘fuck it’ and ate everything in sight.

But I kept on seeking help. I kept taking tiny steps forward.

And I discovered that my addiction wasn’t so much about the food. It was about the anger I kept locked up inside me, it was about the fear and sadness I refused to acknowledge, it was about the pain of trying to find my way in the world despite feeling deeply inadequate, unworthy, unloveable.

And in moments of progress I slowly let myself release little pressurised pockets of rage. I let myself cry, mourn, feel sad, wallow in pity, tantrum, express myself, accept my feelings.

And it was bloody hard. No amount of swear words can express how hard it was. But when I did these things – however gracelessly I did them – life got a tiny bit easier. The shadow voice got a tiny bit quieter.

So I suppose on reflection, it’s not just the message of ‘it gets easier’ that I would share with my younger self.

I’m fact, if my younger self met the older me and heard me say ‘it gets easier’, I think the younger me would want to punch the older me in the face. So let’s just say my message is a bit more like this:

Life is bloody hard, and your fight feels so difficult, so crippling, so futile, dear one. It can feel so often that trying to take steps forward is an impossibility. Like trying to recover demands the impossible of yourself. 

But please hang in there. Because millimetre by millimetre, this does get the smallest fraction more bearable. And you do move forward. 

First you can’t see the distant travelled because it’s so small, but if you look hard, you’ll see that you’ve travelled a few millimetres, a centimetre, an inch, a yard. 

And yes, you do sometimes retreat back to your starting place, or even further back, but that ground is slightly easier to navigate the next time, and the next time and the next time. 

And on your journey, you both need to fight against the disordered eating, but also accept that it’s not really about the eating at all – it’s about accepting, loving, forgiving yourself and making sense of what you’ve experienced. 

It’s a paradox that feels nonsensical. But it’s true. It’s about food, but it’s not. 

So pay attention to the food, but also pay attention to yourself. Value your thoughts, your feelings, your views. Because they may not always be right, but they are valid. You have the right to feel them. So push forward with finding your feet, accepting and listening to yourself. 

And know that life feels hard where you are, but it also has the potential for so much more. There is so much goodness awaiting you, dear heart. 

Things you can’t see from where you are but realities that are possible. Being loved beyond belief by people. Heck, loving yourself beyond belief. Feeling such a sense of fullness through becoming a coach and helping others. Feeling such a sense of richness through your writing. 

Living a life that is light with love as much as it is intense with feelings. 

There is so much in front of you that you can’t see. So hold on for just a bit longer. And a bit longer. And a bit longer. Until you’re not just holding on, you’re striding forward. 

And you’ll then know that it does indeed get easier.

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blogging, Brené Brown, life coaching, self-discovery, self-judgement, trust, truth

The finished article

I’ve been wondering for a few months how my blog – this wonderful outlet for my thoughts, experiences and feelings – can co-exist with my desire to practice as a life coach.

I’ve keenly felt the tension of being honest with my struggles, openly owning my flaws and expressing that I’m not the finished article but also inspiring trust in other people that I can help them to achieve their goals.

I don’t know if there is space for me to be honest when I’m a hot mess whilst building myself up as a coaching professional with the tools, skills and experience to help others.

Sometimes the two things seem mutually exclusive, like I can either be authentic and work through my shit here (but put my coaching aspirations aside) or ‘sell’ a different version of myself that may attract clients but not be true to myself.

But it’s in reading Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong over the last few days that I’ve taken heart that I can maybe have it both ways. Both owning what I’m going through and owning who I am as a coach. You see, Brené in her book is openly honest about her struggles, and this doesn’t make me think any less of her as an academic, a person of importance on my journey or show her in a different light.

“‘I’m not enough’ is one of my go-to narratives when I’m hurt. When I’m in doubt, the “never enough” explanation is the first thing I grab. The blame story is another favourite of mine. If something goes wrong, feels bad or leaves me feeling too exposed or vulnerable, I want to know whose fault it is.” Brené Brown

If anything, reading her stories and seeing her reflect and grow and change acts like a beacon to me, it shows me that I’m not alone and it inspires the feeling I get when I’m around one of my best friends; a feeling of ‘me too!’ where I feel fully accepted, fully seen and fully loved for exactly who I am.

So yes, there may be people who read my blog and think “geez, Amy needs to get her shit together, I would never think of her coaching me” but there may be other people who think “thank goodness, finally someone who isn’t afraid of being authentic, vulnerable and real. That’s exactly who I need to coach me“. And those are the people I really want to work with – people who want to get vulnerable, who long to live a more authentic life, who are willing to step into their truth.

So I suppose what I’ve realised in writing these words to you today is that I need to keep on being real and trust in the process that the right people will be attracted to work with me.

And I’m going to take heart that I can both be my authentic self with you here, dear friend and be a boss with my coaching  because like Brené, I can’t help thinking that I’m meant to be like a beacon to others, it shows even just one person that they’re not alone and to make sure you know that you can be fully accepted, fully seen and fully loved for exactly who you are.

Want to see what having some coaching with me could do for your life? Why not take a look at my coaching information, dear friend, and get in touch with me.cropped-cropped-ctl-logo-01.jpg

blogging, self-discovery, trust, Wellbeing

I know what I need

Happy Sunday lovely! This week is the first one in well over a year that saw me not post a blog on a Saturday. Despite holidays, sickness and studies, I’ve managed to keep up my routine of publishing a post every Saturday and it has been really helpful to make sure I set aside time to write…but this week my Saturday writing session didn’t feel helpful. It felt legalistic – “I must publish a blog” – and so I let the day slip by.

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Highdown Gardens

I slept in, went on a day trip with my dad to see some lovely gardens, had a long afternoon nap, read a good book and went to a Bajan restaurant in the evening. There wasn’t a reason for not writing a post apart from the fact that it didn’t feel right to force it, it didn’t seem kind to force it. And so I didn’t.

It’s not just my writing that has not felt right over the past week. So have some of my self-care routines that have slipped from my life over the past few months. These practices of meditating and journaling daily have started to feel more like obligations instead of being tools that bring kindness, self-love and joy to my life.

As I write this I’m taken back to one of the very first posts that I wrote on Courage Truth Love that spoke about how I wanted to feel. And I suppose all these things I’ve mentioned above – meditation, journalling, blog writing – all linked into how I wanted to feel at that time. Gutsy, glowing, grounded. These practices made me feel grounded when I felt so tossed around by life, like a ship sailing through a storm.

But things have changed. I’ve changed and I don’t feel such a great need to ground myself anymore. Sure, there are times where I have to breathe deeply because I feel a panic inside me from external pressure. But I’ve gotten to a place of feeling more grounded through putting people pleasing on the back burner, speaking my truth and asking for what I need in life.

And so perhaps these routines of meditation and journalling haven’t kept up with how I now want to feel in life – rested and inspired – and that’s why I’ve been feeling a bit lack-lustre with these practices that I used to really love. So maybe I need to find new practices that allow me to feel how I want to feel. Time curled up with a good book, reading blogs or finding new meditations that inspire me, more relaxing yoga classes to bring relaxation to my life…and the list could go on of things that will make me feel how I want to feel.

Just pausing and reflecting on these things with you, dear one, and giving myself a bit of space to think about what I need brings me comfort. It helps me to realise that I know what I need. Whether that’s putting off my writing for a day, letting go of old practices, or asking in the moment ‘what do I need?’ and acting on what comes to mind. I can trust myself and be confident that I know exactly what I need.

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blogging, eating disorder, Fear, oracle-cards, self-discovery, trust

Trusting myself

I was sat in my kitchen early this morning, deep in my morning ritual of meditation and contemplation to start my day off well. And for no reason at all I thought of the cake tin full of cookies that is currently sat on my counter and experienced the wave of exhilaration and numbing I could get through stuffing a load of these delicious biscuits in my mouth mindlessly.

I felt scared by the power of this vision…perhaps it was in response to the words I had just read on a Rumi Oracle card:

“You may be wondering if you can attain this next stage of growth in your life. You are already well-equipped to do so, no matter what you might believe about the situation, circumstances, or others involved, even yourself.”

In the following moments after experiencing this powerful rush of feelings, I asked myself whether I was afraid of drinking all the alcohol in the house…and I felt myself firmly say “no”. So then, I told myself, trust that you won’t run to food.

I know my eating patterns are more complex than that – it’s about truly embracing and acknowledging my feelings, allowing myself to let my emotions be felt and releasing them, putting my voice out there in situations instead of shying away from how I feel.

It’s not as simple as just telling myself not to eat.

But it is about trusting myself. Daring to believe that I can attain this next stage of growth in my life where I start to step away from my crutch of food. Believing there may be a future where food is a pleasure, a necessity, a social event, a source of nourishment.

I trust myself.

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