Out of kilter

It’s easy for me to think about and work on being authentic, true to myself and steadfast when I’m in my comfort zone.

It’s another thing to be this when I’m thrown into another dynamic – Christmas with my in-laws, when I feel vulnerable at work, with old friends when I’m trying to be seen in a way that I haven’t myself to be allowed before.

I’m wondering how I might try to be true to myself when I’m slightly out of kilter and feeling a bit unbalanced.

My go-to in the past would be to wrap myself into different forms to fit the situation at hand.

Swallowing my own thoughts and feelings. Showing or feigning interest in other people. Being the ‘happy one’, easy, breezy Amy, go-with-the-flow when I’m not often that sort of person.

I’d drink myself away.

Or secretly eat my feelings in moments of solitude.

I’d worry about being too much or not enough.

And I’d get frustrated with other people for not being like me. Not getting me.

But now I find myself in a different situation.

The people pleasing Amy doesn’t seem to fit me anymore. I feel such a desire to be true to myself, to show the real me.

But I don’t know how to do this in a way that doesn’t cause offence or marginalise other people as I assert myself.

I feel this way much of the time. Walking a tight rope between knowing who I want to be but not knowing how to put that into practice.

And so I find myself seesawing between the ‘me’ of the past and my real self.

One no longer fits and the other doesn’t know how or doesn’t feel safe coming forth.

It’s hard.

Really hard.

But just writing this and acknowledging it makes things easier to bear.

And I hope in me sharing how I’m feeling, you might not feel so alone if things feel similarly hard for you too.

As I sit here pondering on all this, I remember that we’ve just celebrated the winter solstice.

The darkest day of the year.

Now, as the days get lighter, there is promise of new growth, the turning of the seasons, a new start in the new year.

And so I take hope that what I’m longing to see this year – being able to step into my full self – will mature in 2019 and, when Christmas arrives next year I will be able to look back and see how I’ve grown.

And with this thought I wish you and all those you love a very merry Christmas.

Sanding away

I’m going to be honest with you about how I felt this morning – I was bereft. I sat down outside on the cold concrete floor and wept as I mourned for myself and all that I’ve lost since becoming a mum.

As I write this a few hours later, I know that what I experience is first world problems. I’m not wanting for food, safety, shelter or water – my life is pretty sweet. But in that moment, life felt very bitter and I want to share my experience with you, dear friend.

I cried for not being able to sleep as I used to, for not feeling free to have a late night with friends in case Jenson wakes up to play in the middle of the night (as he has done twice since we’ve been on holiday), for not being free to drink and make merry without compromising my breastfeeding (a choice I’ve made but one which comes with a price), for not being able to have hours writing and reading and dreaming and planning in lovely coffee shops as I used to, for my body not being my own, for my time not being my own, for having to succumb to the wiley needs of a nearly nine month old who wails in consternation if he’s not able to get what he wants. Oh how he wails and how tedious it gets at times.

And for not having the energy to put on the ‘I’m fine, all is good!’ facade when my resources are nearly gone but I’m surrounded by people. A facade that allows me to push on when I’m tired, to be sociable when I need time alone, to push down my needs in order to seem easy and fun when I feel exhausted and drained.

And when I realised this last truth – that I’m not able to pretend to be anything other than I am – I was able to see how this experience of motherhood with Jenson is sanding away my rough edges. It’s holding me accountable for what I want to be, but struggle so much with.

Authentically me.

I want to be able to say ‘I’m exhausted, I’m going to bed‘ even when others are staying up. I want to feel free to curl up in a corner and read even when most around me are enjoying being sociable and chatting. I want to feel free to be nothing other than what I am.

But yet so often I soldier on, follow the crowd, join in even if it’s not what I want. There’s probably a mix of FOMO in there, but more often this behaviour is driven by the part of me that is like a little girl just wanting to be loved and accepted and feels that the only way for this to be the case is for me to be acceptable to other people by mirroring their wants and their desires instead of following my own.

The sad thing is that none of the people I count as friends put this pressure on me. It’s my own pressure I feel. I’m sure they’re glad when I do stay up late or go for walks with them etc., but their world doesn’t revolve around me stepping in line with them and they’re not bereft when I hold back and don’t join in with whatever group activities are going on. They love me for me.

And so while I may have partly cried this morning for the struggles I face as Jenson’s mum – lack of sleep, feeling stretched beyond my limits, being forced to find patience beyond that which I didn’t know I had – I’m also thankful that this experience with him is constantly reminding me what is important.

Finding my voice, accepting myself as I am, living life on my own terms.

And for that, my boy, I’m eternally grateful.

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Intentions

I’ve got a few minutes to myself as my lovely in-laws have taken Jenson out for a walk and I’ve just now managed to sit down and look at my 2018 diary (scratch that, it’s now two days later! #mumlife). The diary is not just to remember appointments, it’s a reflective tool created by Danielle LaPorte, who is renowned for her advice about living life based on your core desires; how you want to feel.

I actually wrote one of my first blog posts about my core desires way back (so it now seems!) in early 2016 when I wanted to feel gutsy, authentic, expressive and glowing. And now in early 2018 I find myself wanting to feel brave, authentic and grounded.

What has changed?

As I reflect on the coming year and how I want to feel, I find that my core feelings haven’t changed much. But in some ways, everything else has changed. I’m now 2 years older, am a mother to a little baby boy, have bought a house, travelled more around the world, am a qualified life coach and have started a 6 month period of maternity leave – the biggest break from work since I was at university 10 years ago.

But as I wrote in a recent post, having all these changes (especially becoming a mother) hasn’t stopped me from being who I was before. I still have desires, ambition, my own identity and things I want to achieve outside of parenthood.

I thought it would be helpful to spend a few minutes reflecting on the changes in my core desires as I think there is some unpacking for me to do to fully understand why these feelings are so important to me. I hope it brings something of interest to you, dear friend.

Gutsy vs Brave

These two words mean almost the same thing but signal such a shift in myself. The semantic difference of wanting to be brave as opposed to wanting to feel gutsy is small, but is also huge. Instead of feeling I can only take chances by being a bit cheeky and a bit maverick (how I view being ‘gutsy’), I want to feel a confidence in my bravery. To feel ready to stand strong in who I am and what I want, even if there are risks attached to this. It feels really good to want to feel this way and to be surer in myself. And here’s what being brave means to me:

  • Actively sharing who I am as a coach and what I offer to increase the number of people I work with and help. I want to bravely stand proud in my coaching instead of worrying that I’ll bother or annoy people by sharing about it.
  • To say what I need from other people instead of just hinting and hoping they get the message
  • Going after what I want at work, whether that’s an idea I think would benefit the organisation, saying ‘no’, asking for a 9 day fortnight (working full time hours over 9 days) or seeking out development opportunities.

Grounded

This is a new word on my ‘core desires’ list and I think it’s reflective of the changes that have been brought to my life through all the changes I’ve experienced of late. Becoming a mum, changing jobs, becoming a coach, getting coached and making significant shifts and changes in my own life.

I know that to adapt to this new life and to not be buffeted around by all the changes, I need to be grounded. To be sure of myself and what I want and to not be tossed around by the uncertainties that this new reality will bring to myself.

What does this mean?

  • Listening to my own voice and trusting my instinct more – living in the knowledge that I’m the expert in my own life and in the parenting of my child.
  • Taking time out to blog, meditate, listen to inspiring podcasts and connect with like-minded people to ground myself
  • Keep on connecting with my husband, Gregg, to ensure that our relationship stays firmly rooted together despite all the changes going on in our life.

Glowing

Glowing is a word that I’ve taken off my list because I recognise now that it stemmed from a ‘should’ – I should make healthy food choices, I should eat less cakes, I should do more exercise. And I don’t want to feel obliged to anything in my life.

Sure, it’s good to be healthy, to not eat a whole box of after eight mints in one sitting or sit on the sofa day after day, but I want to do these things because it’s what I really want to do and not because it’s an expectation born from media images of size 0 models or the distorted view that I’m only acceptable if I’m no bigger than a certain dress size.

And part of this is accepting who I am, even if it might mean that I have to be uncomfortably honest with people about my eating habits:

  • I like chai tea with sugar in it and one of my favourite Christmas things is the festive hot drinks…especially black forest hot chocolate!
  • In fact, I really like sugar (cakes, sweets, ice cream, biscuits, chocolate) and enjoy eating them on a daily basis
  • I keep a balance and stay healthy by not eating cakes at work, having an hour of walking to get to work and having found a lifestyle (being vegan) which suits my body and doesn’t feel like deprivation to me
  • I do sometimes share a whole box of after eights with my husband in one sitting and it’s gloriously decadent
  • I love chips!

Authentic

Authentic. The one word which has stayed on my list despite the passing of 2 years. It’s still the one word I aspire to live my life by. I think this will be the word for my life. I know what it means to not live my life authentically. To hide myself so that I can please others and to push down my feelings with food so that I can mould myself into something that I think is acceptable to this world. After almost 30 years of living inauthentically, I know that the price I have to pay to live like this and I know the cost is too high. I refuse to live like this.

And so I will keep being authentic. Stay sharing honestly with you on this blog. Continue to speak out with my thoughts to others. Accept myself for the weird, passionate, sensitive, earnest person I am.

It’s the only way for me to live a fulfilled, happy life.

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Peeling off the mask

I started off this evening intending to create a vlog/blog about the experience I’ve recently had with life being unfair…not unfair to me – I’m in a pretty great place right now, great job, loving relationships and good health – but life being unfair to others around me and not knowing what to do about it or how I can possibly put this broken world into some sense in my mind.

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