Write your own essay question

I was speaking to my coach yesterday about the work that I do, planning out what the next period of time looks for me in my role developing people in Local Government.

As I was speaking to her, I could see how I have developed incredibly over the last two years of working with her – growing more in my ability to use my intuition and emotions to guide me and reading what my body is telling me to inform my actions.

An example of this is when I feel a knot in my throat when I’m talking to someone. This often happens when I am disagreeing with them. Knowing that this knot means something, I have increasingly started to use this information to explore what actions I need to take.

Is it that I need to surface my thinking more?

Is it a sign that I know the person isn’t going to be receptive to my thoughts and I need to take a different approach?

Is there something else my body is telling me about how I need to go about my work?

But when we met yesterday we spoke about my brain and how I can better use my intellect to make progress in my role. We spent 90 minutes looking at what data and information I need to look at, what research I need to do, what facts I need to have clarity on in order to decide my best course of action.

It was hard work – after the time, I felt like I’d had a massive brain workout. It was hard to do, not because I’m lacking in this area but because I haven’t done a lot of this of late.

I’ve got such a lot of emotional and physical awareness but I have less experience looking at what my intellect is telling me. I’ve been less diligent in analysing the facts and gaining expertise doing that.

And she said to me something which resonated so strongly and is continuing to resound in my brain and this is it –

The next years ahead of you are less about responding to what other people tell you to do, being brilliant at answering their questions. This is about setting your own exam question and answering that.

And as she told me that, I got it.

I can see that for so long I have been brilliant at responding to the question other people set me – you tell me to do something, and I will do it well.

But I haven’t gone further than that very often.

But I know how to do this as I’ve set my own exam question with my emotions and my reading of how I am through physical wisdom.

I’ve not being willing to confine myself to what I’m told a woman is meant to be, what a mother is meant to be, what a daughter is meant to be.

Instead of that I have set my own exam question.

II’ve challenged and gone beyond the structures to create my own sense of self.

I am me.

I am angry and wild and gentle and loving and impatient and expansive.

I don’t confine myself to what other people say I should be, because I have set my own exam question.

But I have not done this intellectually yet – looking at data in depth to set out my own course of action, and so I felt scared.

Until I saw the possibility of setting my own exam question. Holding the reigns. Being my own creator.

And so I challenge you, dear friend, to think about what this might mean for you.

Is it a challenge for you to set your own exam question of what a family should be? What a woman or man should be? What a mother or father should be? What a relationship should be?

Is it listening more to what shows up for you in your body and using that to inform your next steps?

Or is it learning – like me – to consider things differently on an intellectual level? Taking data, facts, information – to decide your next course of action?

Because as I think about writing my own exam question for looking at my next steps at work, I see that the possibilities are endless and I feel excited at the level of mastery I will be stepping into!

I can’t deny though, this intimidates me as it’s a new way of being.

And I can’t say that I’m relishing the thought of looking at data and facts and information. Leaning less on my gut and on direction from others all the time and instead gathering and distilling information to firm up a logical next step forward.

But I know it’s for a purpose.

I know this work is to define my own exam question.

And that makes all worthwhile.

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Wisdom from my tomatoes

Strange title of a blog post, eh? But it’s one that I’ve been pondering on my ride to work.

Thinking of the tender tomato plants I grew inside my house.

Sheltered from the wind and the rain.

Given access to water, feed and sunlight.

Protected to grow tall, stretched towards the sky.

And yet who have all snapped as they have been moved into the garden.

Unprepared for the elements.

Too delicate for this world.

And I see the gnarled, thick-stemmed plants who have continued to grow, despite being abandoned outside as saplings who were in my ‘B’ team.

Unlikely to grow so left in the garden where they have adapted.

Grown thick to protect against the rain.

Become hairy-stemmed to protect against being nibbled from garden creatures.

Bent over to not be tossed around in the wind.

I think about myself

How it is through the conditions I’ve lived through – the storms I’ve weathered of anorexia, orthorexia, people-pleasing, finding myself in the patriarchal society, stepping out, stepping into conflict, abandoning old beliefs, learning to stop numbing – that has made me strong.

I am here, who I am, because of these storms.

I think of my son

And how my job is not to protect him, lock him away, enable him to not have to deal with the brutalities of this world.

It is to provide good soil for him.

To water his spirit when there’s not enough abundance around him.

To bring him up in an environment that allows his growth – the human equivalent of sun, clean air, protection from the wind.

Love

Acceptance

Us role modelling the behaviours we want to instil in him – setting healthy boundaries, being self-accepting, following our passions.

I’m amazed by how these outdoor plants have thrived.

They’ve been knocked down, buffeted around, left out in the elements.

And likewise, I take a moment to recognise how I’ve thrived despite challenges in my life.

In part due to the conditions my parents provided for me to grow up in – secure in their love for me – and in part due to the trials-by-fire that I’ve gone through and emerged stronger.

Tender

I shared with you recently about a lot going on in my life. Connecting so strongly with the grief in my heart, feeling the call to more, returning to work after the life changing event of becoming a mum, learning all the lessons in store for me about mothering my beautiful, spirited son.

I was lying next to him tonight, feeding him and missing Great British Bake Off (thanks, my little joker. You knew I was wanting to watch it, I’m sure!) and once I accepted the reality that I was going to miss it, I stopped fighting the frustration and tapped into what I was feeling.

And here’s what I felt – a tenderness inside me like a bruise.

Being bashed around so much with exponential personal growth, changes to everything I know and the uncertainty and unpredictability of being a mother and not knowing what the future holds for me.

I am tender and a bit battered and a bit bruised.

There’s no denying how I feel – if just is. And there’s no real changing what’s going on for me – it’s my journey.

What I do know is that I need to show myself kindness and gentleness. I need everyone around me to show me the same gentleness and kindness too as I live this season of my life.

I know if won’t always be this way. But it’s this way at the moment.

There’s no great reveal or revelation about what I can do about where I am. But just expressing it – sharing it with you, dear friend – lightens the load and helps me walk the path that I’m on right now.

It’s not the easiest of roads but I’m sure it’ll lead to somewhere great.

The witching hour

I have to say, I was a bit smug about my son. Sure, he’s a baby who expresses what he wants and is fairly quick to protest if we don’t respond to him. But if we made sure he was fed, clean and loved, he was fine.

Until yesterday. When I got to experience what the witching hour really means. A time where, no matter what I did, Jenson was inconsolable. Crying louder and louder and unable to be comforted by song, feeding, rocking or any sort of soothing activity Gregg or I could think of.

It went on for about 30 minutes until he fell, exhausted, to sleep but it felt like 2 hours of endless crying. And tonight has brought about the same witchy madness, sending him over the edge and causing him to scream louder and louder with each passing minute.

Gregg took him for a walk, something that always manages to send him to sleep but I’m left a bit shellshocked at my inability to calm my son. I know it’s not my fault but it sort of feels that way.

I think it must be overstimulation, but what triggered the transformation from peaceful sleeping babe one moment to screaming wild-thing the next? Responding to him a second too late perhaps – he wanted to feed and I took a moment to try to attach a pump to express from the other breast? Or would he have just screamed, regardless?

I suppose I’m writing this for no real reason really. To get out my feeling of hopelessness. To not stew in my feelings of inadequacy and to remind myself that it’s not my fault.

Babies sometimes cry and it’s ok for me to find it tough.

It’s also ok for Gregg take Jenson for a walk to soothe him (although sat here I feel helpless and like I’ve done something wrong by not being the one to calm my son down).

Geez, parenthood.

The most beautiful, complicated, challenging, dizzying, joyful, destroying, uplifting experience I’ve ever known. Where I have to let go of control and go with just what is in this moment. Where I’m unable to steer the journey much of the time. Where I have to rely on the help and support of others more than I ever have done in my life.

It helps having this safe space to write down my thoughts and express what’s going on for me. To not keep all this stress, anxiety and worry inside myself. So thanks for being here for me, dear friend.

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