This tree and me

I’m out today on a walk in nature by myself. A few months ago I would never imagine myself feeling safe in nature, alone as a female within woodland, but I’ve come to recognise the call to connect with nature is greater than the fear of harm coming to me by somebody lurking within its depths.

And on my entry into the wilds of the woods today I came upon a tree that spoke to me. I want to share with you what I learnt from it. Or at least what I learnt from what was mirrored in its shape and form about my path.

I saw some roots, exposed and forming almost a chicken foot shape as this tree, perched on the banks of the hill, has found security and balance in itself.

I recognise in its form and history my Vero own journey. How I’ve often stepped onto the precipice of life, unsure of my worth or my place in life, and yet have still clung on and remained on this earth. I’ve remained stronger for the roots that I have created to adapt to this world.

And on these roots, moss has grown. Like a beautiful yoke of cloth, draped over these roots, twining and twirling up through the tree.

My pain and hurt has likewise shaped me into something beautiful.

And just behind the tree, I see a small sapling who has found shelter in the broad trunk of my tree.

I see the young tree is plentiful and beautiful, although parts of it have been cut off by human hand.

The two trees mirror something of myself. My hope of providing a shelter for my loved ones from the storm of life. A place where they may find respite and reprieve.

And yet I note, as the larger tree shows me, it’s not my job or within my gift to protect those I love from all harm. It’s a reminder of the limitations and perhaps the boundary of my role.

I can not prevent harm falling on those I love – and, even though it pains me to say it, neither is that my task.

But I can provide a safe space in which others might find shelter.

And on the tree trunk itself, I find small shoots coming forth. I see areas of new growth within the solid base of the tree.

And I see myself reflected in this new growth of the tree. I too am experiencing areas of new growth in areas which have felt long fixed solid. But now these parts of me are starting to move and grow. From them, new shoots are bursting out.

I find hope in this course of nature. It mirrors the course of myself. The growth in and of myself.

And I finish my reflections with the branches that are reaching out from this tree into the heavens.

The expansiveness I feel are reflected in the sun-dappled boughs and I find myself stretching out metaphorically into this wilder space.

I find myself being both my individual self and part of a wider ecosystem.

I feel a sense of wonder and oneness in being both very human and also finding an extension of myself within this tree and an extension of this tree within myself.

And so the ripple continue as I find myself within this forest and this forest within myself.

Myself within the very arms of nature herself and nature extending into me.

Finding joy

I’ve found such a sense of joy during these lockdown months as I’ve spent more time with my immediate family. Weekends are made of rambling walks, barbecues if the weather is right and movie afternoons with us all snug on the sofa.

Don’t get me wrong, the time hasn’t been perfect with a strong-willed two year old with a penchant for 5am wake-ups and it’s uncomfortable to be finding such happiness when others are struggling so much, but I’ve realised that if I had to spend the rest of my life in isolation, I’d be happy with this company to keep me happy and sane.

I want this to be my life predominantly when we get out of lockdown – life is better lived at a slower, gentler pace.

But I have fears too.

What will happen to friendships that maybe need to be gently let go of to keep this space? Is this just going to tumble around me one day, leaving me with no friends and regrets for those I let overtake me in their faster life?

But this feels right for me and so I’m going to keep unfurling in the gentle joy of being a family of three.

Work, if I’m honest, has been less joyful.

Don’t get me wrong – this is not to say that my life at work is not full of satisfaction. But I’m realising that there’s something about how I’m approaching work and the distance between people which is starting to rub a bit.

And so here are my thoughts about how I can bring more joy to my working life over the coming weeks and months.

Connecting

Connecting with peers and people who inspire me on a 1:1 basis is so important for me. After a good conversation – talking through challenges, connecting with others on a very human level – my heart feels bigger, my spirit feels lighter.

I feel joy.

But the connections I’d usually have over lunchtime walks and meetings have been fewer and further between.

And conversations with people in the organisation who inspire and spark something in my have been fewer and more focused on the immediate than the spacious time they were in pre-covid times.

I’m learning that these are conditions are important for me to thrive and so they should be one of the priorities that I take forward – thinking who I need to connect with and looking at how I can be intentional about this in the weeks ahead.

Finding fun

One of the permission slips I’ve written for myself at work is ‘the permission to have fun’. I notice how uncomfortable this feels to share with you, dear friend, because having fun isn’t ‘serious’.

It might be seen as wasting time or not being productive.

So let me clarify, this isn’t having fun in the sense of playing video games or fooling around instead of get things done. It’s a mindset, and an important one for creativity, reimagining what’s possible, stepping into new roles at work.

For me, fun is setting myself a hard task and being intentional about the areas where I can gain enjoyment from it.

Fun is looking at other people and organisations to see what I can learn from them.

Fun is trying out new things, knowing that the point is to try – not get things perfect.

Fun is working with people who are as open and imaginative as I am.

And I haven’t really allowed myself to have much fun recently. I haven’t prioritised it.

So I’m going to bring this back.

Distance

Until now, I’d said that I’d be happy to work from home for the rest of my life.

I like not having to leave the house by 6:45am to catch the right train to work. I like being able to eat lunch with my husband. I like spending the time I used to spend commuting running along the seashore and through the fields near my house. I like sometimes working from my sofa, in my garden, at different times of the day.

But I recognise now that it’s a bit lonely.

There are limited spaces for interaction outside of the meetings I’m part of and the online presence means that these meetings have less chat at the strt are are more focused on a particular purpose.

And meetings set up for connection are in big groups, which I don’t enjoy or feel nourished from.

There are no conversations in hallways that lead onto something.

There’s less laughter, less spontaneity, less connection.

So, while I like the better balance of working from home, I can see the importance of finding a way of being together in a group and recognising the impact of online connections on my joy.

So what does this mean?

There are some easy things I will be doing over the coming weeks – it feels good to have ordered my thoughts with you to look at what’s going on and what I need:

  • Considering who I want to connect in with over the next few weeks and months
  • Finding a sense of joy through looking at the road ahead and where I want to be intentional in bringing some fun and lightness
  • Acknowledging that it’s hard to connect online, reminding myself that this will pass

Covid-19

I’m home alone! My husband has gone to Derbyshire with my son to spend time with his parents. He’s enjoying time with them and getting support so we can work during this coronavirus turbulence.

It feels so lovely to have space and time by myself and also a bit strange.

Like I experience the time alone is more enjoyable when they’re close by and when the experience of being alone is so fleeting. A week to myself, I hardly know what to do with it. But I’m sat here on this Friday evening with a cup of tonic (I’m avoiding the gin whilst this crisis is in progress) and reflecting on what I’m learning, feeling, experiencing through this moment of uncertainty and volatility.

So, what am I learning?

Here are some thoughts I’d like to share with you.

My face

I touch my face all the damn time!

I didn’t realise this until I’ve started to follow the guidance of not touching my face and realising every other second that my fingers are on it.

On my cheek because of resting against my hands while I think, on my lips as I consider what I’m going to do next, on my eyes as I rub them with tiredness.

My hands are always on my face and it’s such a difficult thing to change this habit so I’m not passing on any infections to myself or other people.

My fear

I get it, I truly understand the fear of people who are rushing to the shop to stock up on things that they don’t really need.

More rice, more pasta, more bread, more, more, more that isn’t needed.

Whether it’s the remnants of my anorexia which means that I’m fearful of being hungry or just the panic of feeling helpless and fearing for the worst so wanting to protect myself with a fully stocked larder.

I feel the fear and want to get swept up in the pandemonium.

I don’t do anything beyond perhaps buying a tiny bit more here and there – making sure we’ve got some pasta, some rice.

But I get it.

I also feel sadness and anger at shelves being swept clean at the shops and those on low income or working too many hours to care for people being left with nothing.

But I get it.

I also can imagine myself in a different life, being someone who buys things and sells them at at incredibly ridiculous over inflated cost. I hope I wouldn’t be like them, but if I had been born into their life, suffered their hardships, took a few hard turns…I can imagine a reality where I was in their shoes.

I still feel angry at them and despairing at what they’ve done and are doing.

But it just seems like we are dividing at a time that we should be coming together,

Our chance

I see this moment in time as one that could shift us fundamentally.

We could look back on this time and, despite the hardships and the unbearable pain of loved ones dying, find a cause for celebration.

This time could be one where we did a hard life audit and saw that we were on the path to wreck and ruin. We could turn to ways that are more sustainable for both us and the planet.

Who would’ve thought a few days ago that the aviation industry would come to a standstill? That the government would be paying people unable to work to keep roofs over their head? That neighbours would reconnect to support each other in solidarity.

We’re living through unimaginable difficult but with the ripest opportunity to completely re-imagine our society.

The German Prime Minister was talking about the need for a universal salary for people, countless lives will saved through the reduction in pollution across the world. We’re seeing the value of those who are caring for us – NHS workers, charities and supermarket staff working their upmost to protect and serve us.

I see this is the moment where we could pivot – where businesses could be given grants to get back on their feet but with terms around environmental growth. Where people, used to having less for a while, stop buying so much. 

If only this would come true. 

I can’t quite believe it possible though.

I also feel helpless, because I don’t know what me – one person – can do to bring this change into being.

Sure I can petition, leaflet, protest.

But what power do I have?

I have the power with you, dear friend, sharing my thoughts and maybe impacting you in some small way – and you, in turn, influencing others.

But I’m unsure of what impact this can ultimately have.

I don’t know if this is all just too little, too late.

I saw a picture of how long we’ve been on this planet in the whole history of the world in a great book I read called ‘Active Hope‘ – if the history of the world was made to fit into a 24 period, humans exist in the last 5 seconds. And if the history of human life was made to fit into a 24 period, the industrial revolution would feature in the final 20 seconds of the day. 

Humanity as we know it is a short-term blip on this planet Earth.

That part fills me with hope – we can change, our way of being isn’t written in stone – but I also feel that we might just be a blip on this earth. A race who will disappear.

And it makes me sad for Jenson. It’s not what I want, but it’s sometimes hard to see a way forward. 

My community

I’ve started a mutual aid group on my street – you might have one near to you. It’s where residents come together – obviously not physically together – to support each other.

It started through me feeling hopeless and useless, but wanting to do something. And so I put a little note through everybody’s door on my street to say that they can contact me in an emergency – I was willing to walk dogs, pick up shopping or have a phone call for those who are isolated.

And from that has sprung out WhatsApp groups, messages of kindness, group donations as people request clothes for emergency foster care children and share things like books, DVDs and laptop chargers with each other.

I’ve learnt there are a surprising number of animals living on my road, someone who sings beautifully, a plumber, nurse and several teachers…

People who have never spoken to each other have started connecting and planning street parties (post coronavirus), coffee mornings are you come out into your front garden and wave at each other, who knows…we may have a singalong at some point.

But it feels lovely to connect.

Great to get to know each other.

Hopeful to think about what we could be if we knew more people, connected more, used a social resources in a different way.

I’ve seen what could happen if we stopped living just as individuals or a small families and instead got to know people on the street. Helping out each other, trading things, sharing gestures of good will and random acts of kindness.

We’re strong when we stand in solidarity with each other. Regardless of beliefs, political views or backgrounds. We’re all sorts of people living side-by-side, more connected now than ever before. 

Memes

And it wouldn’t be a coronavirus post without the amazing memes I’ve discovered through my far more digitally connected friends. 

They are incredible! 

View this post on Instagram

💀💀

A post shared by Daquan (@daquan) on


So from the darkness of my hopes for humanity to the lols of coronavirus memes, I’m sending you wishes that you and your loved ones stay healthy and well during this time. 

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To thine own self

For years and years I pushed my own needs and desires to the background in order to survive in this world.

If others think I’m ok, I’m ok was the unspoken mantra of my life and so I’d peddle, push, placate by following what I thought others needed me to be for them.

Often pushing myself over the edge and having bi-annual breakdowns where I’d cry for hours, releasing the tension and pressure of putting my needs to the back of the line.

And then I’d stick a smile back on my face and revert back to this pattern.

There’d be times where I’d get some counselling and feel a freedom as I allowed myself to surface my needs and desires.

And slowly I started to change my way of living, acknowledging my own needs and allowing myself to be a priority in my life.

I stretched, through relationships, into new territory.

Learning I didn’t need to be thin, pretty, demure to be loved. Learning I could voice my needs to my partner and I deserved to have a say in what was going on.

But I feel stuck at the moment.

I really don’t have a clue about how I can be true to myself – my needs, my desires, my introverted nature – where I am.

The nature of life at the moment is stretched and it doesn’t show signs of letting up.

I feel like something has to give.

Work is great, but full on.

Motherhood is a journey that I’m privileged to experience, but comes at a great price and requires constant patience, a tempered nature that isn’t naturally easy.

I am growing, expanding and stretching developmentally and spiritually, but it takes energy and focus. 

My partner has different needs to me, with each of us on opposite sides of intra-extroversion and it feels like we’re running in a different direction to each other at the moment. Needing different things from each other.

It feels like my life is a jigsaw puzzle, one which isn’t fitting together at the moment.

And I asked myself this morning whether it is possible to be true to myself in all this – to prioritise myself while still keeping the world spinning.

And the phrase ‘to thine own self be true’ came to mind.

So I turned to Shakespeare to see what ‘to thine own self be true’ actually means. What was he talking about?

I learnt there are several interpretations – firstly, it could be a call to do ‘the right thing’ (whatever this means). It could also mean that you should be honest in your actions. Finally, it could be advice to put yourself first.

So the literary father isn’t as clear in his directions as I first thought…and I’m just as lost as I was before about what I should do.

One thing is sure though, my puzzle pieces of life aren’t fitting together and I need to do something about it.

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Hands in the earth

I’m someone who always used to think of gardening as boring and for the middle-aged.

I’d wonder why people would spend so much time working on something that I felt so little for. I didn’t see the point of pretty flowers or growing things you could get so easily in a supermarket.

It pretty much reflected my relationship with nature. I didn’t have one.

But things have shifted this year and I’m having to swallow my pride (or acknowledge that I’m entering an early middle age!) as I start to spend time gardening.

That’s what I did last weekend and I want to share with you here the things I noticed from my experience:

Noticing

I have never been one for paying attention to detail.

It’s just not that important to me.

A friends birthday party? Great, yes I’ll accept but only have a cursory think about how I’ll get there the moment I have to leave the house, which often leads to me being late!

But I found a real beauty in slowing down and noticing what was going on around me. The garden bed which I considered to be mostly empty was actually full of clever bind weeds that had tentacles spanning over the whole of the bed.

I suddenly saw how prolific they were – a lesson from Mother Nature that things are not always as they seem and how slowing down and paying attention can be worth it.

The web

Oh my gosh, the amount of roots I discovered as I dug around the patch of earth!

It was like the earth was webbed together with roots. The flowers woven with the honeysuckle, the weeds and the vine we have growing in there.

Little thread veins were EVERYWHERE and I loved the living metaphor for how much we too are connected. With each other, with nature and with something beyond us.

It was beautiful. And so comforting to think about the world beneath our feet. The wildness under our pavement and roads of tree roots and plant roots which network and co-exist together.

As I stare at the Level Park nearby where I’m writing this, I imagine the trees that have been here for hundreds of years and must have a web of interconnected life beneath us. A source of power and strength that we can’t see with our bare eyes but very much is there.

Shifting problems

As I attempted to clear the weeds from the bed, I soon realised why a gardening fork is needed for this work. Because attacking a weed front on – attempting to pull it straight up from the earth – doesn’t work.

The leaves snap off and the weed will soon grow back.

So instead you need to first loosen the weed’s hold on the earth. Wiggling and jiggling the earth around it until it is loose enough to pull out.

There again, another cup full of wisdom from the earth!

How often do we try to solve our problems face on and fail? Try to get healthier by dieting until we fall off the wagon as we haven’t addressed all the things around it –

  • The comfort we get from food
  • How we associate it with a past we haven’t been able to let go of
  • Our disassociation from the raw ingredients that make up our food in this fast-consumption society.
  • Our life that is too busy to take time for real self-care
  • The numbing that foods high in sugar, fat and salt gives us

But start to wiggle and jiggle these things and we might be able to let go of what binds us.

Being physical

My back ached at the end of my weeding session but I adored the focus on being physical. It’s not something I often get in my office job.

In the garden, I used the power in my arms to chop back the blackberry plant. I felt the wind against my skin as it whipped around me. My senses were heightened as I heard the birds calling in the skies.

It was a pleasure to get into my skin and just be there instead of living inside my head – being hijacked by the galloping pace of my thoughts and my emotions.

Being physical brought me peace.


So there you are – a few reflections from my time in the wonderful world of plants.

I’m sure there’ll be many more musings to come.

I’m learning

I’m sat here in a café in Australia, whilst my beautiful sister takes care of my son, Jenson, for the day.

Ahead of me is a wonderful day of celebration as one of my closest friends gets married and I celebrate the solstice where in Australia we have the longest day and in the UK we have the shortest day. A moment from which we will fall into greater darkness as the nights draw in or greater lightness as the days get longer.

It’s a day that is so special to me, pairing up both a celebration of love with the wedding and the celebration of the changing seasons of Mother Earth.

All the while being in Australia on holiday, how fantastic!

But over the past few days I recognised that I’ve not been my best self on holiday.

Because I haven’t put in place the measures needed for me to take full care of myself.

The first two weeks were spent in action. Working up to the wire, taking the plane over to Australia, dealing with jetlag, visiting Brisbane and having days full of fun based around my son and his needs. I’m so lucky that my family were happy to go with his flow, but it meant that we didn’t go with the flow of anyone else.

And my flow very much requires time alone to slow down, listen to myself, decompress and reenergise.

But instead of doing that I just kept on pushing, kept on going, kept on surrounding myself with people.

This was to the detriment of myself, other people and the detriment of my experience here on holiday.

I attended a solstice yoga session yesterday and it felt so good to be doing a practice that was so physical, releasing the anger and frustration I feel at myself for not having listened to my needs, for still being on this journey where I find myself again and again pushed beyond my means.

But as I said here, I realise this is a learning process.

Finding myself after the fact not having done what I needed.

And one day this will shift and I will find myself in the moment thinking “hang on a second Amy, you need time by yourself.”.

And then it will become natural, and I won’t even think twice about taking time for myself and finding moments of quiet to re-centre and the balance myself.

So with kindness I remind myself that I have not waited until after the fact, after the holiday when I feel battered and bruised, metaphorically lying on the floor a broken person, to take action. I started my journey earlier than before. I reached out and asked my sister for help and support.

I’m learning.

The cards I was dealt

It’s my birthday!!!!

And as per every year I wanted to spend a bit of time reflecting this past year and thoughts I have about getting older, where I’ve been and where I’m yet to go.

This year has been a BIG year!

But then again every year is a big year for me!

With lessons learnt and adventures had and lots of paths travelled.

As I cycled into work this morning I was messaging my friend and thinking about what I’ve learnt about myself through my experience of birthing my son, Jenson.

I reflected to her on the conversation I had with a friend yesterday about our sons and how their personalities were set before they came into the world. Hers so confident and independent. Mine in need of company, screaming if he wasn’t being held in someone’s arms for the first five months and, even now, constantly asking for cuddles, tugging us towards him to play and wanting to be side-by-side with us at most moments of the day.

And so I think about what I must’ve had in me the moment that I entered this world. Curiosity, kindness, gentleness, tenacity, enjoyment being in my own company, only needing a few friends to be fully replete, a deep thinker.

As with him, my cards were dealt before I was born – and I had a good hand – but I feel like this is the year that I’ve started to really play my hand.

I’ve started to see what I’ve got and how I can use my skills, my gifts, my self to my full advantage and in service of what I feel I’m here to do on this world – challenging and rebuilding the structures of our society. Whether that’s the role of woman, our treatment of the planet, our political or educational system, the healthcare system. This is what I’m here to do – I feel it deep in my heart and in my gut.

This is the year that I stepped into the possibility of my future.

This is the year where I started to think about how I show up and how this influences outcomes.

I have started to settle deep into my body and listen to what’s going on for me on many levels – not just intellectually, but in my heart and in my body physically.

This is the year that I’ve realised I don’t only have the ‘enthusiastic’ card to play. I don’t have to show up as the sparky, bright, pretty thing to have influence in this world.

I can show up with the presence of a mature, powerful woman.

I can show up as the renegade.

And I have started to see, just this month, how I might be able to be effective in spaces where people have conflicting views (myself included), helping to find a way forward when no way has been found for years.

I’m taking huge strides, jumping forward in my development whilst being kind as I stumble and fall whilst doing new things.

And as I play my cards to their full effect I’m also grateful for those people around me who play their cards in support of mine.

To my husband who supports and champions me, cheering me on as I seek to experience new things and go to different places.

And my friends, who, showing up fully themselves, make space for me to do the same.

To those people at work who have not needed me to be ‘sparky’ or ‘bright’ to be accepted but have called me into showing my full self at work.

To my family who are my safe place to retreat when times get hard.

So here’s to another year of adventure, learning, leaping and stumbling forward.

Here’s to another year stepping more fully into courage, truth and love.

A sustainable life

I’m currently in the middle of an amazing trip visiting my dear friend, Nadine, in Texas.

On the cusp of this first prolonged trip away from my family, I felt apprehensive. But another part of me knew this trip was vitally important.

It was a time to find myself again after living in the reality of new motherhood for the past two years.

During these years, I tried to find a balance between my responsibilities to my son and my work, but looking back, I can see that other things suffered – myself, the relationships I hold dear, my health, my sanity(!)…

Balancing everything in a world that promises us that “we can have it all” is an impossibility. Because I believe that “having it all” is a lie.

Even if I were a millionaire, I might have more rest through the help of a nanny, but this would be at the cost of my motherhood.

And as I meditated on my way over in the airplane, I received the following wisdom;

Amy, you have 100% of your energy available to you. So how are you going to use it? Compromises will have to be made, certain things will have to fall away. But you have the ability to make a choice in all this. 

And so sat in a beautiful cafe in south Austin, I looked at what my life currently looks like with everything important to me.  

Here are my thoughts about certain parts of it:

Work

Work is deeply important to me. It fuels my creativity, allows me to feel mastery and it contributes to being an active citizen (working for local government) as well as contributing to my personal growth. It’s important…and yet, it takes up most of my energy. I know as it is it’s not sustainable for the long-haul.

Love

I miss my husband. I miss lazy lie-ins and carefree evenings spent with friends. I miss the time to love him, the energy to go on dates, lying next to him in bed, the spare money with no nursery to pay for to go on dates without thinking about the cost, the time to both enjoy TV shows together and also catch-up without any bedtime pressure.

I know this will pass, but it’s hard.

And I want to be aware of this so that we don’t come out of the early years of parenting fog to find ourselves on different tracks in life, lost to each other.

Recuperation and rest

This is another one which will change as Jenson grows and starts to sleep through the night. At present, my husband and I take turns to respond to our son’s cries and so at least half the week is made of broken sleep. This means that ideally bedtime is 9-9:30, which eats into my connection with Gregg and ability to tap into other areas of the circle – health, connection with friends, my spiritual life…

But it is what it is.

I’m realising how important it is to have an extended period of time – a night or two – away from the daily grind each month.

It’s important to have time just being me, time of sleeping in, time of not having every minute accounted for and a countdown to when bedtime should be.

It’s also a time of connection with friends and nature (where I get my spiritual connection), so I recognise that this isn’t just about rest, but about many more things.

I’ve not been as disciplined with prioritising this time away as I should be, but I will be moving forward.

Household & health

Sure, in an ideal world I’d do a yoga class weekly. I’d a tidier house. I’d stay fit by going for jogs instead of the continual late-sprint for my train or pedalling home on my bike. I’d eat less processed food. I’d do washing in my spare time instead of when I’m looking after Jenson.

But these aren’t priority areas for me at the moment.

And that’s ok.

Motherhood

I recognise that Gregg is stepping up and caring for our boy more than I am at the moment. And it’s not just when I’ve been here on holiday – he’s stepped into a 50:50 role if not slightly more of the care role at times.

I’ve needed him to do so when I’ve reached burnout and felt like I had nothing left to give.

And that’s ok.

I’m allowed for parenthood to be 50:50 at this early stage despite every cultural bone in my body proclaiming that I should be the carer. I should have the bigger role in Jenson’s early years.

This is compounded by a noticing of how I’m less capable of staying in the role of the ‘perfect’ mum – I don’t have enough energy for it.

The reality is that Jenson spends time watching Netflix if he wakes before 6am and I often find quick fixes to entertain him as I balance the minimal amount of housekeeping and food prep I do around time looking after him.

All the while, a little voice in my head tells me that I should be engaged with his play 100% and should leave the other stuff. Should leave my needs.

But I can’t.

And so I accept the reality of what is.

Interdependencies

I notice that several of these areas are linked together. Motherhood, work and love all jostle for my time and one area reducing leads to a gain in another.

Likewise, rest and recuperation is met through travel (often to see friends) and provides time for me to seek a spiritual connection outside myself.

And my spiritual opening links to better health outcomes as I live with less anxiety and live more in my truth, which positively impacts my relationships with friend and family.

And so this wheel of life turns, ever adjusting for my awareness of it. Constantly dancing as I find space for that which I hold dear in my life.


Thanks to Nadine, who treated me to a night in the incredibly cool Carpenter Hotel, whose coffee I’ve been sipping while finishing these reflections.

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The pain awareness brings

One of the things I knew I wanted to work on in my time away from Jenson is the anger I hold inside me.

An anger that I know drives a lot of my feelings of frustration towards others. But an anger I know is really an anger I hold against myself.

And it’s an anger that I feel at myself for having heard but not listened to the environmental crisis that we’ve known about for decades.

I remember learning about greenhouse gases at secondary school, so I can’t claim to not have known about what was going on.

But I didn’t act.

I’ve been aware for years that most rubbish goes into landfill or is burnt.

But I still chose to fill up my bin indiscriminately with single-use plastics and things I’ve cast aside after limited use.

I’ve known about the injustices that go with the earth’s exploitation – slavery, poverty, bribery, corruption.

But I still selected products that I wanted (the mac I use for blogging a prime example) regardless.

When I think about these things, I feel incredibly sad.

I feel the pain I’ve inflicted to the world.

And it makes me cry, to feel incredible sadness when I sit with this pain.

I know this pain is available to me because of the awakening and connection I’ve had to nature in the past few months.

I feel how nature – trees, flowers, grass, woods, stones, mountains, insects, animals – are all alive.

They don’t live at the same frequency as us – they grow slower, communicate differently – but that doesn’t mean they’re any less alive or worthy or important.

And it’s our folly to think otherwise.

In treating them all as second class citizens (or not citizens of this world at all) we’ve arrived at this knife-edge of human viability, faced with irreversible climate change and mass bio-diversity loss.

In knowing this, I sense why other people might not be able face into this pain.

Because doing so requires us to take responsibility for what we’ve done – at an individual and collective level – and that is hard.

But in writing this, I recognise that I’m taking on responsibility for the whole of humankind and our collective responsibility for getting into this mess.

And this responsibility is not mine to hold alone. To try to do so is destructive and paralysing.

It’s too much for me to feel.

It’s not mine to hold alone.

It stops me from being as effective, strategic and powerful as I could be in taking action.


In realising this, I know I need to sit with how I’m feeling some more.

I need to contemplate how I might I step out of this anger and burdensome responsibility, not to cast it aside, but to stop myself being overwhelmed and unable to act.

I know I need to practice self-forgiveness and compassion – even just holding my hands at my heart daily and saying ‘I forgive you‘ will be a start to this.

I also wonder how I can use this insight – the pain this work brings – to find a way of helping others to look into the situation without paralysis and overwhelming pain or avoiding any responsibility at all.

And I know I need to dance daily to work negative energy out of my body. To shake off the anger and the frustration and to step into the joy that this work can bring – being whole with nature, living a sustainable life at all levels, feeling the joy that deepened connections to all life forms brings to my life.

This isn’t work that will be done in a day. It’s work that will take time.

Being aware of what is going on is the first step.

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Holding my breath

I’ve been thinking about how good I feel in myself at the moment and comparing it to all the other times that I’ve felt similarly free, happy in myself and able to eat moderately instead of experiencing low self-esteem and using food as a comfort when I feel sad/angry/frustrated/tired.

I always felt scared with my good fortune when I felt well in myself and when my eating was not disordered. I rarely shared what was going on for me when I felt as well as I currently do, because I feared it was only a matter of time before the penny would drop and I would return to my usual pattern of feeling unhappy in my skin and ashamed of myself.

The only way I can describe how I felt is like the experience of holding my breath under water. The pressure building and building until I have no option but to return to how I was before.

Disliking my body and eating to comfort myself.

But it feels different this time.

I’m asking myself what has changed…

How am I able to share my good fortune without feeling like I’m going to break?

What leads me to feel that things are different this time?

Here are my thoughts…

I accept who I am

I am quiet, thoughtful, assuming, gentle, fierce, loving, competitive, stubborn, talented, respectful, impatient, sharp, faithful, strong, playful, determined and so much more.

I prefer to be with small numbers of people instead of a large crowd.

I hate small talk and love heart-to-heart conversations.

A good time for me is being in a bath and reading, having a coffee and chat with a close friend, walking in nature or playing with my son and my husband.

I love time alone and need it to be at my best.

I love sleep and I need enough of it to function well.

As I accept who I am, I put myself in situations in which I can thrive.

I’m proud of who I am

This goes further than accepting myself. I actively allow myself to enjoy and be confident in who I am.

I’m rejecting the rhetoric that states I should be modest and not believe in myself, because I think that I’m good, kind, hardworking and am proud of who I am.

I was brought up hearing that ‘no one likes a show off’ and, while I don’t plan on marching down the street with a banner proclaiming how fan-f*cking-tastic I am, I see that the message I internalised was ‘don’t think highly of yourself’.

I focused on what was ‘wrong’ with me and didn’t speak kindly to myself, celebrating what I was good at.

But now I speak kindly to myself and think highly of myself.

I’ve battled and overcome an eating disorder which has claimed the lives of many.

I’ve created a career for myself which is meaningful and enjoyable.

I have a loving family and have people around me who care for me because of who I am.

I’m talented.

I’m proud of who I am.

I’m grateful

Brené Brown writes about the fear we can often feel when life is going well – like when I’m basking in love for my son and all of a sudden an image of him falling down a flight of steps pops into my mind.

She says the antidote to this is gratitude.

Likewise, in the past when I was feeling happy in myself, I’d have a thought pop into my head of ‘this is never going to last’. And I’d listen to this voice – I lived in fear for when my good luck would come crashing down.

But now I’m practicing gratitude.

I’m thankful for my body which is strong and beautiful.

It shows marks of my time on this earth – the laughter lines, the grey hairs and the freckles that come out in the sun.

I’m thankful for this time where I’m able to eat with balance and where I feel attuned to myself.

I’m grateful for being able to speak up and ask for what I want and need from other people.

My anger

I used to be angry with myself for being who I was.

How could I be so weak? Why was I so sensitive? Why couldn’t I get grip?!

But now I’m more angry at our society which paints beauty and how women should be in a certain way which is so black-and-white.

Woman should be strong but not threateningly so. Women should be easy going and always up for a laugh. Women should be beautifully turned out but not through any effort. Women should be slender and toned or voluptuously hourglass-like.

And now that I see this for the bullshit that it is.

I don’t know how I can be a part of a movement of change which redefines women as the individuals they are apart from breaking the societal conventions which put non-perfect women in their place.

Going running with just my crop top on when it’s hot outside, even though it shows my stomach.

Not hiding the bits of me that don’t fit with convention.

Celebrating that I’ve donated all my high heels to charity and never want to wear them again.

Refusing to push my true self down. Being a disruptively strong woman, allowing myself to be less ‘easy breezy’.

Expressing myself

I was in bed last night and was asking the universe for guidance about how to expel the emotions I feel so strongly – anger, sadness, disappointment, anxiety.

I know it’s when I don’t have a way to release them that things unravel for me.

I wish I could cry, but this is something that doesn’t come very easily.

This morning I spent an hour dancing around my living room with Jenson to angry songs, joyful songs, sad songs…a real mix of different emotions.

And it felt good to have a physical experience of jumping and dancing and swinging and singing. An outlet for everything going on for me.

I think this might be my way of expressing what is going on. It feels good to discover this.

Taking care of myself

In the past when I felt at peace with myself and balanced in how I was eating, I would only eat exactly what I needed.

Worried that one bite too many might make me free fall into a cycle of eating too much again.

But this time I’m feeling able to treat myself with more generosity and kindness.

I’m eating enough food. I’m having treats. If I’m still hungry after a meal, I know I can always eat more.

I want to eat well. I want to nourish myself. I want space for cakes and treats as well as vegetables and salads and fruit. I want to be able to have my favourite drink at the pub – currently alcoholic ginger beer – instead of opting for the ‘healthier’ G&T.

It feels like I’m taking good care of myself and, with this level of self-care, it feels like I could eat this way forever.


So these are my thoughts and I hope they’ve been helpful to you, dear friend.

The truth is that I don’t know what tomorrow will bring – I may well have other periods of time where I feel like I’m holding my breath under water. But I’m grateful for the current reprieve and the beauty of loving myself, being proud of who I am and taking as much care of myself as I take care of my son.

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