What cleaning my deck taught me

We had 2 days of sunshine this week. I mean, finally we had TWO full days where it was dry and the **SUN** was out!!
At first I questioned whether it was real or not after weeks and weeks, months and months of rain, cold and grey. Oh the Grey. It is so draining, so dull, so unhappy.

I found myself pulled to go outside, to just sit in the sun and soak in some sunshine. Every part of me felt relief, joy and realised a deep need to have some sunshine. To be outside. To feel. To be.
Then I started to see all the jobs that needed doing. Oh dear, what a mess the garden was in. So unloved, untouched for so many months. Battered and bashed from the weather. Worn out, needing attention, maintenance, needing care.

So, slowly I started, cleaning one pot that used to have plants, after another. Moving things, cleaning, resorting. And resting. Lots of resting in between.
I had no plan but just did one thing, then another. Just one more thing.
You see, sometimes, it’s nice not to have a plan. Nice to just be and do what you want to in the moment. Nice just to do the amount you want to, then rest. OMG, it was SO nice to rest – in SUN!! Did I mention the sun was out?
I even ended up jet washing our deck, although by this time the grey was back but it was still dry (as in no rain, I was soaked after the jet washing lol)

It struck me though, in cleaning the deck, there was so much disruption to everything else; the table and chairs had to be moved, pots that gifted us with beautiful foliage and bloom last year needed to be moved. This was not easy as some of the pots were big and heavy – or am I just unfit and weak?
Broken things such as my home made wigwams, lights, pots had to be taken down and binned. Remains of plants had to be pulled out of the soil in surrounding beds and put in the compost. Then, and only then, when the deck was clear, was I able to get to it to clean it. And I’m embarrassed to say, it was filthy, maybe two years worth of dirt, ingrained and now part of the deck, cleaned away.
And I couldn’t do it quick either – it wasn’t a half an hour job. I had to clean it in the right way, the jet wash hose just the right distance away, cleaning each little area until all the dirt was gone before moving onto another area.
I had to have the right gear – flip flops and flimsy trousers were not right might I add, I was soaked and covered in dirt, got cold (but a warm bath soon sorted that)
Nothing has been put back yet, and today it’s raining (boo hoo!) but the sense of achievement was great and there is a feeling of progress, knowing each little thing I do will bring me to the end result of having a nice relaxing space to sit and enjoy the garden, sun, nature and connect with loved ones.

I feel this is could be a process in the counselling room. That initial feeling of ‘I need to get out there’. ‘I need’.
Then the feeling of overwhelm of how much needed doing. There was so much, where to start? Some start by just tackling one thing at a time. One thing they are able to face, challenge and process for now, to the depth they can cope with. And each thing brought up it’s own issues; what needed to be ‘weeded out’ and discarded? What was broken and could it be fixed? How? Then there are the emotions that come up with each step of awareness and realisation; anger, fear, pain, sadness.
And this can’t be rushed either, it needs to be done at the pace it needs to be done at. With support, motivation, encouragement but at the pace that is achievable.
Then bigger things come into the room when the ‘little’ things have been looked at; things that are equivalent to the deck; something from childhood? A relationship? Loss of self and who you used to be. Big things.
This can’t be rushed. There could be years and years of ‘dirt’ on this deck. Are the right tools available? Is everything working ok? Have you been practising enough to put into place? Do you know the right distance? Is there a strategy?
And then you start cleaning the deck, slowly, bit by bit. The emotions come, some wanting to protect you, some showing you what you need to face, some helping. Anger, Pain, Embarrassment, Shame, Fear
This takes time. As much time as it needs.
But even when the deck is clean, what are you going to put back? What is the final result you are going for? What is the life you want for You? What are the feelings you want in your life? What connections do you want in your life?

Like I’ve said before, I take a lot of inspiration from gardening and nature and the biggest lessons I always receive?

It takes time
Everything needs to go at it’s own pace
Rest and relax
Keep in mind what you are aiming for
Just do one thing

Not bad lessons for life, eh? Have a good Saturday <3

What is your Inner Truth?

When working with a coach a few years back, I learned a very important lesson; my Inner Truth.

I imagined I was a solid, big tree that was well rooted and had big branches full of greenery. When the wind would blow, the greenery and branches would sway in the wind, bending and moving so breakages would be minimal, although sometimes some branches would break. The big, solid trunk would not move though, and the wind would have to go around.

This solidity is how I imagine my Inner Truth. An immovable force, deep within me, made up of a knowing that has come from years of evidence gathering building my confidence and self worth.
I know I am good with people, especially in sessions
I know I have a lot of love to give
I know I’m not perfect but love myself anyway
I know I can support myself with loving self compassion
I know I can be lovingly assertive
I know I am held by gravity on this earth, safe and secure
I know as long as I breathe, I belong to humankind and am part of the world

Storms will come and go, the world is harsh, we get hurt. There will be winds, snow, rain, sun and everything in between. There will be a lifetime of experiences but my Inner Truth will be strong while my branches will be as flexible as needs to be to let storms pass though.

I love this comparison because it helps me to get through hard times, knowing my Inner Truth can’t be changed because I have collected my own evidence to build my confidence. It doesn’t matter how others judge me, or what they say, I know my Inner Truth.

Do you want help finding out your Inner Truth?
Let’s connect and let me help you by planting seeds which you can develop and nurture, let us collect evidence together, giving you the confidence you crave and let’s build your Inner Truth.

Befriend your feelings

Feelings can make or break a situation. Things happen, events unfold, we go through processes, schedules, routines but it is the emotions we attach to ‘things’ that show their importance in our minds.

We have a birthday; we can feel happy or sad
We win a race; we feel happy
We have a baby; we feel every emotion under the sun, sometimes all at once.

Do you get what I mean?

I have been thinking about emotions for a long time and trying to figure out a way to learn to relate to them and the simplest way I thought of was to think of emotions like people and our connection with them would be like any relationship.

The kids’ movie, Inside Out does show this beautifully as each emotion is it’s on ‘person’, has it’s own traits, colour and affects us differently. Depending on which emotion, or ‘person’ is in charge, we react to situations accordingly.

Related image

In the movie, we have Sadness, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Joy. Arguably, these are our basic emotions.

In my life and indeed when I work with clients, I try to park the emotions when trying to look at a situation logically. This is the best way to figure out how to process it and how to move forward. Then it’s a case of asking what emotions are coming up when thinking or talking about the situation.

Each emotion comes to the foreground for a reason and to find out, what the reason is, we can simply ask ourselves – or ask the emotion.

“Anger, why did you show up when I saw everyone sitting watching TV when I was struggling with the shopping?”
“Disgust, are you trying to protect me from something that will infect me and make me ill?”
“Sadness, hello again, so you’re back. What do you need me to work on this time?”
“Fear, I see you are trying to keep me from hurting myself, thank you but I’ve got this”
“Joy, the emotion I want all the time but you do need to make way for others, so I can learn about myself but so nice to see you. Yes, we are so happy when we look at all the things we are grateful for”

I see these Emotions as different parts of us, different Selves making us who we are, making us Whole.

What emotion would you add as your basic?
I might add stress, but does that come under fear, I wonder?
Disappointment? Frustration? Despair? Vulnerability? Gratitude? (is that an emotion?)
Well, I guess the movie was trying to keep it simple and it’s not easy trying to simplify something so complicated.

What emotion do you struggle with the most? What is it trying to tell you?

Don’t forget, you’re not alone. If you need support, I’m here to help you <3

How can we lighten our mental load?

As mums, we usually end up being the CEOs of our households and families. We keep track of everyone’s diary, know who needs to be where when and with what.
We keep things ticking, flowing, moving.
And we do it well but it’s exhausting.

So bloody knackering, exhausting and draining.

Managerial positions are. You are overlooking everything but are also actioning the detailed work – hang on, that doesn’t happen in business so why do we let it happen to us?

Sure we take it all on but here’s one thing that might shock you; YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL ALONE!

Whoa, what did I just say? Yes, honestly, you don’t have to do it ALL on your own.
I remember throwing my own tantrum when the kids were young, unable to carry on and cope with it all so I made a list of all the jobs in general, sat everyone down and said, “There are 4 people in this house so why am I the only one running it?”
We ended up sharing the load; we all had a night to cook dinner (and yes, an 8 year old can manage to put a simple pasta dish!), the cleaning was shared (everyone had a responsibility to keep things clean – quick wipe of weetabix when spilled saves hours!) and so it was for a while.

Of course that has all changed now but I got a glimpse of how things could be and while the load was shared, it really helped me.

Kids want to do things and teaching them chores and how the household runs is a valuable lesson for them when they reach adulthood.
Kids can learn to cook from an early age – of course they need to first learn about safety and how to be careful in the kitchen and there needs to be supervision. But that feeling of accomplishment when they feed the family is priceless.
Kids can clean and be responsible for things – putting things away, wiping spilled things there and then, putting their laundry away, maybe even doing their own laundry! (A valuable skill I was lacking and learned the hard way. Well, my boyfriend at the time did having to go to work with pink shirts that were once white ;))

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that as mums, we sometimes do too much for our kids. How are they meant to learn?

There are other ways too; you can hire a cleaner or someone to do the ironing, or cooking. If you’ve got a good group of friends, maybe you can swap chores and help each other out? Even if it’s a play date rota so you’ve got time to zap all that needs doing.

Then there’s teaching our kids about responsibility; if they have clubs etc, why not do a chart to put up by the door so they can check their own things?
A weekly planner saying who is doing what on what night etc.
Again, maybe I was a harsh mum but I used to say to my kids, “These are not my activities, it is your responsibility to have everything ready”. Of course, I used to be in the back ground and prompt them, teaching them to think forward – the rugby kit will need washing today so it will be ready for tomorrow type of thing.

Other ways clients have shown me to lighten the load is to make a list of everything that needs doing and putting in categories; daily, weekly, monthly, yearly etc and sharing it with family. Then everyone knew what was going on, were able to be supportive and together, things would get done with love and support.

Some put things in a diary so the thoughts are out of their heads and on paper for everyone to see, to help or to support. This also helps seeing areas of rest and non activity which is so important too, especially if you feel anxious about the load.

It isn’t as difficult as it sounds or feels and as always, if you need help with this, you know where I am for support 🙂

Spring clean your mental health

Is that spring in the air? The weather has been so changeable in the UK going from freezing to spring like which has been quite trying to be honest. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for the weather to get better, to get out in the garden to work, relax and enjoy.

This time of year also brings about a need to spring clean; open the windows, bring some fresh air in, clean those areas you only do once a year, maybe sort your clothes out. Whatever you do, there is a feeling of “New” in the air.

As usual, we seem to focus on the physical side of life in this but we can spring clean our mental and emotional health too.

Boundaries are a good way to imagine how to organise your mental health; where people and things can be put at distances you are comfortable with.
Detoxing relationships that leave you feeling worthless.
Getting rid of annoying habits, unhealthy coping strategies.
Reducing “noise” from all around to give you peace and quiet; less time on your phone, less involvement in drama and fights.
Being grateful for those who lift you up and give you energy.
Spending time with yourself doing something you’ve always wanted to do.

What can you spring clean, detox and declutter today to make your tomorrow better?

Reconnection in relationships

So many new parents struggle with their relationships as a baby changes the dynamics drastically.

There is a whole other person trying to get in on the love, taking up time and energy. Your both so tired, trying to keep up with your normal lives and routines but it’s not easy, is it?

So how can you move on if you feel so disconnected from your partner?

Talking.

Yup, it’s that simple.

Take a moment to reflect and be aware of how you are feeling and what you want to say and talk openly, honestly and from the heart.

What are your needs?
Do you need extra support in certain areas?
Do you need pressure taken off you and help?
Do you need to set some boundaries, keeping certain things at a distance while you figure out this new identity of parenthood?
Do you need to be friends just now, putting the sexual side on hold while your body recovers from baby and birth?

Your partner is just that, a partner. You are equals in this relationship and every relationship has bumps in the road, where the connection is so stretched it feels non existent.

Remember what it was that got you together in the first place; the spark, the attraction. Remember what was fun, remember the small acts of love, the connection, the laughter.

Having a baby can be the most difficult thing a relationship goes through and it doesn’t work out for everyone for a whole mix of reasons. If you are struggling, be gentle with yourself, be honest and try and communicate.

And if you need support, you know where I am. You’re not alone in this xx

What are your standards?

We all have standards and many of us pride ourselves on our standards; the way we look, act and what we have.

But we many of us get carried away with standards and we worry we are not good enough, setting unreachable and unattainable standards in us, our looks, our lives.

Are your standards too high?

I’m not talking about settling but about learning about good enough. Good enough is a great, achievable goal and it means you don’t keep feeling like a failure because you haven’t reached perfectionism.

You will find you have more time, you can be kinder to yourself and you have a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction.

So where can you let go of high standards and perfectionism and be good enough?

 

Enough is enough

Isn’t the word ‘enough’ interesting?

We know when we are filling a glass of water, how much water to put in and we stop when we feel we have enough.
Perhaps when we’re putting make up on, we stop when we feel we have done enough.
What other areas in your life can you think of when you know you have enough or done enough?

But why is there such a feeling of NOT enough?
I could have done more, I’ve failed, I’m not good enough. Sound familiar??

It takes time but each time you feel you have enough, tell yourself to remember that moment. Enough things
Enough food
Enough sleep
Enough friends
Enough staying up
Being enough and doing enough

Enjoy sitting with with enough, and enjoy having enough.

 

 

Emotionally stuck

When something happens and we feel something, very rarely are we in an objective frame of mind. We react to things with our feelings and somehow, every time we have felt a similar experience, that feeling seems to come back to us; negative and positive but we seem to struggle when it’s negative.

We can get stuck in emotional memories; eg if we experience something that brings ups feelings of vulnerability and shame, we go back to the last time we felt something like that and we use those actions as a default reaction and action. At times it doesn’t matter if the experience is completely different, if those feelings come up, we seem to react the same way.

We default back to the last memory and we react. It is almost like we can understand something logically but emotionally, we are stuck.

Counselling is a great place to learn how to get unstuck and to respond in a new, better way. It takes time and patience but through simple talking, in a safe, non judgemental environment, we can look at our reactions, note the last time we felt like this and slowly change our default reactions and feelings to ones which are more in line with our true selves.

We learn what our emotions are, gain awareness of signs of each feeling and how to stop escalation and things getting out of control.
We can stop ourselves getting angry if caught early.
We can stop ourselves going into a deep downward spiral if we know what the early signs are and implement self care at this early stage, saving us a lot of heartache.

Can you think of when you feel emotionally stuck? Are patterns or habits repeating themselves that you want to stop?

Do get in touch, you don’t have to struggle on your own anymore xx

 

Self care is walking away

There are two large women’s groups in Worcestershire and last week, I found my Facebook newsfeed full of comments from each group slating the leader of the other. The comments reached over 600 on each post and because it kept appearing on my newsfeed, I was drawn in.

Some comments were supportive, some aggressive, some wise but the general feel was one of attack, hurt egos defending and aggression.

This was not sitting well with me. I was getting upset by what was being said, losing my faith in sisterhood and the peaceful safety of connecting with like minded people.

So I left both groups.

I have gifted myself the permission not to be around any sort of dramas ensuring my peace of mind and so I stay stable and more able to support others. This has helped me greatly in achieving good wellbeing but has also made me realise how much ‘noise’ there is in this world we allow in.

And we allow it in to our very safe places.

You don’t have to take on everything that is being said and a very protective boundary is one of avoidance. You don’t have to watch every news report, follow every drama, you don’t have to. Full. Stop.

Just as you would set a boundary around your house not to let just anyone in, you have permission to do the same with your mind.

What can you give yourself permission to walk away from today to improve your mental wellbeing?

Is a numb life a happy life?

Many of us seem to find life difficult and we turn to what is on offer to help us cope; drinking, smoking, eating, exercise, drugs, gambling etc. It can be easy for us to turn around and judge others for the coping tools they use but if we look closely at our own lives, what unhealthy coping tools are we using?

There is no judgement when I write this because I have been humbled and amazed at what some people go through and they use what they can to cope.

If you had a broken leg but had to move and carry on, you would do what you could to fashion a crutch and take what you needed for the pain. Like I said, no judgement here because if you need something to get through a difficult time, you need it and you are coping in the way you need to, at this moment in time.

If we do stick our heads in the sand, if we do numb ourselves to all the pain, does this mean we are happy? What does that word even mean these days?

Maybe it doesn’t give us happiness but it sure does give much needed break from whatever we are struggling with.

You are doing what you can, what you need to. Just be careful your coping strategy is not affecting your physical health and if you need help, please seek it.

You’re not alone and know that whatever you are struggling with, you will get through as “This too shall pass”.

Symptoms and Causes

I’ve been in the mental health field for a number of years now and although the majority of my work is working with people to cope with their symptoms, I am realising more and more we need to deal with the causes.

What do I mean by this?
Depression, anxiety, stress and much more are symptoms of how we live our lives. These are the result of what pace we go, how we process and react to things, where we are and who we are connected to.
Thankfully in most cases everything is good and any symptoms can be dealt with, perhaps not even noticed.

But it’s when the symptoms stop us from living, stop us from being our True Selves, we need to get support. Much of the time, this is where I come in.
And I love my job, don’t get me wrong but I have to be honest with you – I am seeing an increase in anxiety and depression and this is NOT ok.

I get frustrated at society and what we seem to focus on as a collective species, far removed from how we are meant to function and life, might I add.

I have worked with many people not wanting to go on medication for their symptoms eg depression and anxiety, so I know first hand people can get better by changing their thinking, changing things in life such as pace, connections, and focus on their needs and their very existence.

I know it can be done and I for one am campaigning that we need to start from scratch but build our lives in a way that suits us better. Let’s look at the causes and work on this rather than just the symptoms.

Maybe then we can start making some serious changes in our lives and in our greater society.

 

Invite nature in

For some who get depressed, getting out is difficult but add advice says getting out into the fresh air helps lift your mood.

But what can you do if your body feels like lead, heavy and unmovable?
The thought of going out fills you with fear and there is simply no motivation to get moving?
There is no energy in your battery and the most you can think about coping with is sitting there, just being.

How can we gently invite nature in to help with the healing process?

There are a few things we can do, very small things which may or may not help:

  • Open a window – even if it’s for 5 minutes, sometimes letting fresh air in can bring in a new energy and probably much needed freshness
  • If the sun is shinning, sit in the rays and let them warm you up. It can feel like nature is giving you a hug and you warm up from the inside out
  • Get an air plant – I find these fascinating as they don’t need any soil and get moisture from the air. Extremely low maintenance but some greenery into your room.
  • Get a plant – house plants are nature’s air fresheners, can introduce scent, colour or dynamic shapes and are non judgemental companions
  • Plant something that will give you food – or you can buy a little plant and nurture it. Getting something back is very rewarding plus the taste is amazing! Maybe start out with something simple like a tomato plant on your kitchen window sill?

Of course there are lots more you can do and this is something I will be looking into in more detail in the Head Garden program. Click the image to find out more.

Ray of light in the darkness

When the kids were small, I did struggle with postnatal depression. Things were difficult as I tried to figure out my new identity and ride the wave of stormy hormones and goodness knows what other chemical changes in my brain.

There were small moments though that helped me hold on, showed me there was hope that I even took a photo! 16 years ago taking a photo was not as easy as it is these days with camera phones. I actually had to make an effort to get my camera and take the photo – but then again, as an obsessive photographer and recorder of things, I always had my camera with me. (our first digital camera could capture a whooping 2MB!!)

Having come from Africa, I found the UK weather extremely difficult to cope with and it didn’t help my depression at all. So when the sun shone, the air was fresh, I would try my best to get out. I wasn’t very good at getting out and about like the other Mums would; coffee mornings filled me with anxiety, driving gave me panic attacks, walking hurt me physically…there were so many barriers.

But the back garden was always there. It was a space I could go out and feel grounded, feel warm in the sun and, dare I say it, feel happy and content.

This photo is very special to me because I remember I was having a particular bad period. My son was coming up to 6 or 7 months, the garden was an extra chore I couldn’t cope with (I wasn’t coping with what I had on my plate let alone extras!), my daughter was 3 and hard work…It was all too much.

I took this photo because it was a rare moment of absolute magic. I had been painting the kids’ wendy house with my son in the push chair and a baby bird, learning to fly, went into the pushchair with him! It was such a sweet little thing and my son got so happy. It was magical to feel so close to nature, my heart felt so expansive and it reminded me of what was important.

That moment was a ray of light in the darkness I was in and 16 years on, I remember it fondly.

If you’d like to join me in my Head Garden program where we take time out in nature to help with our mental health, then please click on the image below for more details.

Gardening to improve relationships

I have always found myself feel happier when gardening and when this has been shared with others, I have found my relationship has got stronger.

Doing anything with others such as a project helps bond and deepen relationships. In this instance, it’s gardening but I could say the same for photography, cooking, art…anything that you can have fun with.

When you are doing a project with someone, the focus is on the project and somehow, the connection blooms, conversation flows, silences are comfortable. And at the end of the day, you can not only enjoy the achievement in the garden but spend time in the garden enjoying the deepened relationship <3

The absolute joy the kids felt seeing their sunflowers get so big!!

Getting the kids to help with planting out seedlings with hubby. Precious, fun family times <3

If you’d like to join me on my new 6 month gardening to improve wellbeing program, please click the image below. We’d love for you to join us <3

The Chilli that kept going

 I had grown this chilli plant from seed last summer and had brought it in last autumn because it was still sorta green. I thought it was going to die but on my kitchen window sill, under the sun and a drink of water whenever we remembered, it is still with us.

I’m not sure if you can see from my terrible snap but there is a very distinct ‘dead’ bit. There is browning, the leaves don’t look overly healthy and honestly, I was going to throw it away.

Middle of January came with a surprise as it started sprouting new growth. I kid you not, it has tripled in size now and even has a couple of flowers, meaning a couple of chillies!

Maybe it’s the way I think but this gave me hope. Under the right conditions, we too can carry on and grow and blossom – even from seemingly ‘dead wood’. It gives me hope that no matter how broken we feel, how wounded we are and how much we are hurting, there is still a chance we can nurture something beautiful. We can still carry on and things can get better. It doesn’t matter what has happened before (although it will be a part of us) we can still carry on and achieve what we want to, what we need to.

So no matter what you’re feeling like right now, maybe this is where you are meant to be. Maybe this is the ‘before’ and you will figure out strategies, rebuild yourself, you will rest and recharge, you will make the conditions right for you and one day, you will get to the ‘after’.

One day you will get to new growth and be the person you really want to be.

If you struggle with your mental health, why not join me for my new 6 month program Head Garden where will look towards nature for more examples and inspiration to help us with our mental health. For more information please click on the image below. We would love for you to join us <3

 

The greatest teacher you’ll ever know

Maybe it’s just me but I find a lot of my answers to the big questions of life from nature. In this Western world it is the norm to rush, to do Everything and do it quick, do it to keep up, to not fail. We end up anxiety driven exhausted shells of who we are meant to be and I’m not sure we are designed as a species to live this way.

Nature does things in it’s own time. In it’s own season. With Spring around the corner, my mind is starting to think of the garden, to think of blooms. Starting to feel hints of fresh air, starting to see the first signs; snowdrops, buds, new growth.

This has all been my inspiration to put together the 6 month program Head Garden. I could have done a quick 6 week package but NO, I want to take time, I want to go at a slower pace, to go at nature’s pace.

You can’t force seedlings to grow quicker than they will, You can’t force things to fruit quicker than it’s meant to (OK, I know, you can technically with green houses etc ;)) When not interfering, nature does things when they are meant to happen.

We have lost the art of Patience. We have forgotten how to wait, to nurture, to work slowly and deeply.

There is such a need for quick fixes; I’m depressed, Here are some pills and you’ll feel better in 2 weeks. I’m anxious, Here is something to numb you instantly (take your pick from scrolling on social media, sugar, food, alcohol, drugs, gambling and do add your own)

For me gardening has forced me to slow down and remember how we are meant to live as a species, how we are truly meant to be. It calms my anxiety, lifts my depression all in the quiet and peace of my own back yard.

If you would like to join me on my 6 month program, starting 1st March, join me in gardening and looking at what else we can learn from nature, please have a look at the following link (click on the photo). I’d love to have you 🙂

Instructions on how to eat an Elephant

I love this saying on how to tackle a big project! When someone said this to me, I burst out laughing, appreciating how well those simple words captured the feelings and overwhelm but also gave a simple solution.

How do you eat an Elephant? One step at a time.

For you animal lovers out there who might feel this is inappropriate, there is the other one; How do you complete a long journey? One step at a time.

I have a strategy that helps to manage my anxiety and that is planning. I know it might sound boring to many of you but it works for me, so if I can share a few things, hopefully it will help you too 🙂

I am a big fan of lists and writing things down. If you have something to do, write it down. If you  have no time, break it down into smaller chunks and allocate a day and time for it. That way if you only have 10 mins a day, you can do a little and know you are going in the right direction.

Maybe have a plan of the week displayed so everyone knows what is happening when. This was great when the kids were little and we had loads of clubs, activities, work and chores. Delegate and share the load – maybe this plan can have who is doing what on what day?

What is your priority? If you get that clear in your head and know you’re working towards that, everything else can wait or you can let go of.

If you are struggling managing your time, energies and anxiety, give me a shout. I have helped many others figure out ways to get back on top of their lives and I feel confident I can help you too. It’s not difficult, it’s simply a case of spending some time looking at the bigger picture, breaking things down so they’re achievable and remembering what is important.

‘Me’ time isn’t a myth

My clients hate it when I say this to them. When I ask them about ‘Me’ time, they look at me like I’m talking a different language or offering them something alien.

Do you remember a time when you had time for yourself? Maybe not practically but time in your mind to think, to form a sentence (something I struggle with as a mum, for sure!). And when we have some time for a break, a breather, what do we do? Rush around doing all the jobs we have to do to feel a teeny bit of satisfaction and achievement that never comes.

Let me ask you this. When you say you have ‘no time’ to take out for yourself and recharge, what are you actually saying?
There is time for work, the kids, the washing, ironing, cleaning, dusting, reorganising your sock drawer, watering the dead plants, but no time for you.
So you’re saying you come below the dead plants? That is your level of priority?

You, who holds it all together, who is CEO of the house and family. YOU.
Below the dead plants and socks?

There is no judgement here but come on!! You are so worthy and valuable but you can’t see it.  We’re taught as women to be ‘Good’ which seems to encompass looking after everyone – BUT not at the detriment of your mental and physical health. We can of course look after others, but you don’t have to do it 24/7, every second of the day. And you certainly don’t need anyone’s permission to take a break or feel guilty about it.

I’m sure many of you have heard about the plane safety procedure of putting on your own oxygen mask on before anyone else’s in case of an emergency. And how many of us panic when our phone batteries need charging and we can’t find a charger?

How can you make time for yourself though?

  • Set aside 10 minutes a day just for you. Sit and do nothing. If your mind is racing, let is race, don’t judge or react to the thoughts, let them flow past like you would if you were sitting by a river.
  • Be mindful when you do things. Instead of rushing, take your time and use all your senses; what can you hear? see? smell? feel? What are you saying to yourself? Is there anything that is so heartwarming you’d like to save to memory?
  • Set clear boundaries. If you need time, make sure others know not to disturb you. It’s ok to want privacy when you go to the bathroom you know 😉
  • Be your own best friend. You know when you are tired, so why keep pushing? Be kind to yourself and acknowledge all you’ve done, then be gentle with yourself and say what you would to a friend, ‘hey, did you want a cuppa and a five minute breather?’. It’s a start 🙂
    Why bother with all this though? Creating time for yourself will help you be clearer about your life, where you want to be and where you’re going, about YOU. It helps you feel in control, less stressed and more able to cope at what life throws at you.
    Quite a lot of value and reward for a bit of time for yourself, don’t you think?

My Way to help you live life Your Way

I know I have talked about labels before and for those of you who have been with me for a while now have seen the journey I have been on; Family portraits, Healing photography, Counselling and now, a mix of Counselling and Phototherapy and soon, Coaching. This is me trying to figure things out and be more authentic, finding what I am meant to do in this life!

I have worked with the amazing Judith, a loving, no nonsense business coach, and I was so happy to see she had written a book (JudithMorgan.com/book). This book and Judith’s invitation to join her Blogfest ( JudithMorgan.com/blog), has inspired me to write this post.

You see, being in business is not easy, not at all! You have to be the Director to the Cleaner, master marketing and also do the actual work you want to do. Then there are the personal feelings, the massive ups and downs as you try and navigate and learn everything. Really, it isn’t easy, and that is an understatement.

Reading Judith’s book, I was reminded of the core conditions based in person centred counselling; Unconditional Positive Regard, Congruence and No Judgement. These are the simple but powerful 3 things that make a great counsellor, make the relationship with client work and most importantly, help the client to be more themselves.

I feel this from Judith, and she reminded me that I need to apply these conditions to myself. Trust me, from the start of my studying, I have been trying (again, it’s not easy!) but she broke it down into the practicalities, sharing what others have been feeling and saying. In answering those questions, I didn’t feel alone and I felt inspired!

You see, when we start out in life, on a new journey, on a new project or task maybe, we are a clean slate. We start with motivation, enthusiasm and hope. But as we go on, others start judging, we start comparing, we listen to all this and lose who we are and our original mindset.

We respond to the conditions put on us and we try to conform, fitting in so we don’t stand out but the result is we move further away from our True Selves. It is only with Unconditional Positive Regard, or Love as I like to call it we can get back to our True Selves. Love in the bigger and wider sense, pure Love given to another being for simply existing; no judgement, no expectations but full of support and care and compassion.

But being our True Selves with all these conditions isn’t easy – in life or in business, or in any role. It means we have to look at ourselves with the light on, in detail and face what we fear, what we don’t like, what we can’t cope with. Feelings are tough to face, fear of failure, fear of standing out and being visible, not being a ‘Good Girl’ and being judged and criticised for doing it wrong, for not fitting in.

But the only way to move forward is to trust our instincts, we need to create strong boundaries so we can create spaces of quiet. We need to become our own best friends to really hear what we are saying to ourselves through our feelings, especially the negative ones. And worst of it, we need to to this on our own. Sure there are people out there for support – like Judith, my personal counsellor, my supervisor etc are to me, but essentially, this is a journey we do on our own. That is why it’s most important we have Us on our own side, that gentleness, that self compassion and care.

And what can we find in the quietness? Our True Selves, self worth, self belief, confidence and deep knowing of our own truth.

Sounds fab, doesn’t it? I wish it was easy for me, I wish it was easy for my clients but nope, not easy. Then again, life would be boring if it wasn’t easy, right?

The biggest thing I’ve struggled with is finding my voice. I have so many ideas but how to put it across to help others? And I live with depression, so sometimes my voice is like Eeyore, who wants to hear that?

For a while now I have been putting my self care first (especially after some personal traumas) and encompassing all that means; resting, putting my health first and meeting those needs, accepting support from others (why is this so difficult??), letting go of what is not serving me physically and mentally by decluttering and slowly fixing broken things (again, physically (yay, no more leaking shower!) and mentally).

There is a huge element of being still and quiet, finally finding the time and space to actually hear my own voice and learning to trust my own intuition, without guilt or needing permission. I have cut away so much ‘noise’ in my life, expectations, obligations, shoulds and conditions. It feels so nice to create quietness and to simply be, without judgement and with full acceptance.

I’m trying to write something every day, being self compassionate when things don’t work and being brave and putting it out there. I am learning to trust in my intuition and have learned to see that each business I focus on, each area I study in, each thing I do are all stepping stones to where I want and need to be. It will take time but I’ve got to do it my way, at my pace and learn what I need to say. After all my clients need to SEE me to be able to trust me and work with me. This is my motivation, keeping the bigger picture in mind and I keep telling myself, if I only help ONE person feel happier, then I am successful.

I have been a counsellor now in private practice for a couple of years and feel confident as one but I needed more. The counselling world feels limiting and the more I practice, the more I find Me coming through. Introducing phototherapy has been a dream I have had now for 6 years and having seen the simple but powerful results, I am so happy I took that step. I am realising there is time (as Judith says in her book!) and I will be offering coaching packages soon too. I haven’t come across other counsellors offering phototherapy so I feel very much on my own in doing this but the flip side is I can make it truly my own unique way of working, ensuring each client gets bespoke support tailored and developed just for them. Now THAT feels very congruent and energising!

There is still a long way to go, after all (as cliché as it sounds) it is a journey and by no means am I done yet. The only thing I know and have as my strength is that I have to be honest and true to myself in everything I do. It’s the only way I have found to be truly at peace and be content which puts me in the space to be able to lovingly support others.

A lesson really, that when we try to do anything, becoming a Mum, running a business, trying anything new or simply living, it’s got to start from within.