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 ā€“

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 ā€“ 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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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 phoneĀ  (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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Noticing

This morning I FaceTimed my beautiful, brave sister who has just moved to Australia to pursue an adventure of living over there this year.

When I asked her how she was doing, she told me that she was feeling a little bit homesick today. Not an unexpected feeling for someone who has moved the other side of the world and had a life in Bristol which was surrounded by more friends than I would know what to do with!

We’re so alike in some ways – our voices, our dazzling looks šŸ˜‰ , our values – but in others, we couldn’t be more alike, with her having a massive group of friends and me preferring the company of one or two people. Me driven by doing and her happy to just be. Her more chilled, me more intense.

Anyway, enough of that detour into the difference between me and my sister!

I’ve been thinking about that conversation on-and-off today and wish in that conversation I’d said to her ‘I’m really sorry to hear that you’re feeling homesick. Do you want to talk about it and is there anything I can do?’

Instead, I peddled on with the conversation, distracted by what she had shared. Almost like a voice in my head saying ‘make her happy but don’t talk about the homesickness! Gah, what will I do if she’s not ok? How can I solve this?

Distracting thoughts. Thoughts coming from love for her, but mostly due to my discomfort with things not being perfect and easy-breezy fine.

I’d do anything for my sister, but in my early morning brain fog my brain didn’t work fast enough to notice what I was doing – avoiding my emotions. Letting my fear of not being enough for her in that moment run away with me, my awkwardness at her not being 100% and naming what was going on for her.

But I’m noticing it now and I know that there will be a day, hopefully in the not too distant future where my brain will engage and I’ll be able to notice in the moment what is going on.

And when that day comes, I’ll say ‘I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling homesick and I’m noticing that I’m jumping to wanting to solve everything for you so that your life is perfect…but life isn’t meant to be perfect and I know that’s not what you’re asking of me. So what can I do? What do you need from me?

One day I’ll notice in the moment and until then I’ll try to be kind to myself and remind myself that I’m doing my best.

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