Category Archives: phototherapy

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

 

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.

How to photography your kids without tantrums

 This is not a technical guide full of ISOs, shutter speed and aperture information. If you want that, it is easy enough to Google and down load a guide. This guide is from my experience as a mum and photographer on how to get the best photos of your kids you will cherish forever.

Not everyone has a DSLR and I would not expect you to rush out and buy one. Nowadays most of you have quite good cameras. Even the cameras on the latest phones are better than the first digital camera we ever owned! (2 megapixels and that was 17 years ago!!)

These are a few of my tips on how to enjoy photographing your children.

I have seen far too many families forcing their children to sit still and be photographed and it has got to stop! We are not stuck in the Victorian era, we actually enjoy our kids and we now have the technology to move as quick as they do.

Relax. Create an environment that you and your kids are relaxed in and are happy. There is no point trying to take photos when they are tired and hungry and you are trying to get dinner on and running the bath…that’s just common sense! Capturing who your children are is not a race, take your time, breathe, relax. You need a lot of patience and it is tiring work. Physically and mentally.

(Saying that, have your camera around to capture those magical moments that can emerge from utter chaos and great photos of grumpy kids to use against them when they are older)

Distract them by putting out some of the toys they love, get them playing with bubbles or best of all (or maybe worst?) paints to do hand and foot prints! Just let them play (and remember to…relax!)  If you can, do the activity somewhere where there is lots of natural light as this will give a nice tone to the image.

Get down low so you are at their eye level. This gives a real perspective. Saying that though other angles are good too – lie down or from above. Ask them to show you things as they are doing it. Once in a while make a comment like ‘oh, look up at that big butterfly’ or even shouting, ‘who loves mummy?’ (Now this needs training beforehand because the reaction has to be ‘ME!’ with both arms up in the air, because just one arm just isn’t enough :))

The biggest secret – and it isn’t a secret really is don’t stress about smiles. Don’t get pushy and start  forcing them to look at the camera and the worst thing to do is to keep shouting ‘smile!’, ‘look at me’, ‘smile at the camera’…that just annoys them – wouldn’t it annoy you?? We are so trained to say smile and smile when we look at cameras but we don’t need to. Capturing the concentration with their tongue hanging out or big sister being bossy or amazement at seeing bubbles are all good. Much better than a fake ‘Smile!’ photo.

Get in close to the kids. I don’t mean shove the camera in their face and take photos. For one thing it will distort the face horribly, giving big noses and wide faces! You certainly don’t want that! Sit near them and zoom in with your camera’s zoom. Focus on the eyes and capture all their emotions.

Take in the background. Ideally you’d want the background to be blurry so your kid’s face is in focus and the only attention. But, you know what? Don’t even worry about that. Just try and keep the background free of any distractions if you can. Capturing surroundings can be great when you look back and see old decor, cars, buildings. These photos you are capturing now will be part of social history.

Follow them with through your viewfinder so when there is a split second expression on their face, you can quickly click and you get the photo you want.  Kids are honest and open and have not learnt to hide their feelings resulting in great honest expressions. This is when you physically get tired! Remember to take lots of breaks too.

Get creative and have some really fun photos like playing with scale such as a toddler wearing Dad’s big shoes or carrying mum’s biggest handbag.

Share the love, teach them to take photos and sit back and watch as they record the world they way they see it. It is a fascinating insight to their minds and shows what is important to them.

Take photos from your heart and with love and whatever you capture you will treasure forever. The camera is just a tool, what you take photos of is what is important and what you will look back on for years to come. Trust me, when they are older they will appreciate the time and effort you have taken to record so much of their lives. This is a way to show them how important they are to you and what you’ve been through together.

Enjoy the process of being with them too, not just recording them. These moments you are capturing will include feelings and thoughts. Take some time out to really see them and be thankful for the gift. Really see them and pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you’ve put in. Well done 🙂

Ask them what they think of the photos and if they have any ideas. They can be surprisingly creative and it shows them how important they are to be included in the process.

Don’t stop taking photos of them. Kids are wonderful when they are little but somehow as they grow and we get busier with life, we seem to stop taking random, everyday photos of them (messy hair, slouching on the sofa etc). How they change and grow might not be as dramatic and quick as with older ones so keep snapping away and recording everything about them, their activities, their friends, their messy rooms, their lives.

I promise you, when your kids are older, they will find magic in looking back at old photos, memories and your life together. Without words, they will see how they were and are the centre of your world and how much you love them. They will learn what is important in life, treasure loved ones and pass the magic down future generations. 

“Photographs are footprints of our minds, mirrors of our lives, reflections from our hearts, frozen memories that we can hold in silent stillness in our hands — forever if we wish. They document not only where we have been, but also point the way to where we might perhaps be heading, whether or not we realize this yet ourselves…”  Judy Weiser, R.Psych., A.T.R, Founder/Director of the PhotoTherapy Centre

Radio interview from 4 years ago

Sorting out my folders from way back, I have come across this interview. It is amazing how I am talking about using photography to help others heal. Very much in the first stages of photo therapy!

I talk about how the question of ‘If you had 6 weeks to live, what would you do?’ My motivation to start on this path and actually start living my life.

Talking about body image and how so many women used to ask me to photo shop them to look ‘better’ but in principal, I never did. I talk about how the first steps to body confidence is to learn to like ourselves and turn all the negative talk from others to positive talk within ourselves.

I talk about gratitude practice and how it can change our perception of our lives and help with our mental health. I used to offer listening sessions but now as a qualified counsellor I feel confident in offering these sessions, knowing I have had the proper training to hold a safe space for others.

I had been offering online courses where others were being helped so much with one participant coming off her antidepressant medication from doing the photo exercises and a woman facing a midlife crisis accepting herself.

And I define what success for me is; seeing clients feel happier in themselves and knowing I have done my part and given back to the wider community at large.

This journey is not an easy one, with lots of ups and downs, learning so much about myself, changing, building my self awareness and being the truest self I can be. The first step, stopping myself standing in my own way.

And my one bit of wisdom I would tell my younger self? Trust your instincts, believe in yourself, ask yourself what your needs are and what you need to do to meet them.

Have a listen and let me know what resonates:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepathtofabulouslysuccessful/2013/09/02/jessy-paston

Bigger Picture

Image result for future

Once you have created time and space to think and be, you can start looking at the bigger picture, asking yourself questions like:

What kind of person do I want my baby to see me as?
What kind of family do I want to have? (and not what society is telling me!!)
What are my dreams?
What do I want to achieve?

By managing your time, creating boundaries and getting time to yourself, you can start doing 1 thing every day, or every week to create the picture you want to reflect the life you want. This will take a long time and it is an on going practice.

As cliché as it sounds, it is all about the journey.

Managing anxiety

Anxiety is a really tough one to get through, especially when it’s a situation out of your control. Here are a few tips I found myself telling one of you lovely ladies when you emailed me; I actually hadn’t realised that I had these coping strategies until I was asked to help!

There are a few things you can do, that I do that you might find useful:

  • Being grateful is a great way of keeping things in perspective – especially when the days seem all bad. Look for the tiny things to be grateful for, the ground to walk on, shoes on my feet, the air to breathe, being healthy etc…it sounds really simple but it really does work.
  • Self care – get in lots of self care and self love, over used words, I know, but that helps too. Imagine your best friend was going through this, what would you do for her? Do it for yourself! You can give yourself hugs and be self compassionate, talk to yourself in a loving way, do fun things to counteract the stress/anxiety.
  • See your worth – easier said than done but I know from first hand experience stress and anxiety can affect your self esteem. So whenever you do something, no matter how small, congratulate yourself, make a list, tell others. Keep remembering that you are good at things, you are worthy and you are loved.
  • Breathe – if you get full on anxiety attacks, try to breathe through them in a meditative mindful way. Ground yourself, concentrate on your breathing and it can help calm you down and get you back to you. One great thing I say to myself is, ‘I am held in place securely by gravity, air and breathing is the one constant in my life, I belong, I am worthy, It’s going to be ok, I am ok’…it really helps!
  • Music helps too, almost ignore everything else happening and just lose yourself in a song – sing along if you want, or use up that extra energy to dance it out. Listen to every single note, it helps
  • Of course I would also take photos because that helps to calm and concentrate the mind but it isn’t always possible. If I haven’t got a camera and I’m feeling anxious, I do look around and pretend like I’m taking photos. So seeing things, framing them with my mind’s eye, seeing it from different angles etc…that helps me focus and be in the moment, really seeing what is around me.

You are not alone in this and I hope that has helped. Let me know how you get on, don’t worry, you’ve got this <3

How to free your space and free your mind

Have you heard the saying that a tidy space reflects a tidy mind?

Have a look around you and see what is there. Are you deeply happy in the space you are in?

Our environments have a huge impact on our mental well being and for many people, if the space is cluttered and disorganised, it could be reflecting or affecting the mind.

How can we fix this? Declutter of course!! Go through your things and get rid of anything that gives you a bad memory or makes you feel bad about yourself.

Let go of the ‘when I loose weight, I’ll fit into this and that’, let go of the ‘one day I’ll make this or do this’ and the ‘I’ll fix this’.

Don’t get me wrong, if you are going to, then do it, take control and set some time aside to do it but look deep within yourself, if you are not, then let go and give yourself that extra headspace.

If something has got sentimental value but is broken beyond repair, then take a photo of it. If you love a dress because you have great memories of when you wore it but doesn’t fit any more, take a photo of it.

Can you think of examples of things you need to let go of but haven’t because of how it makes you feel? Or the memories you have because of it?

You will also be amazed that through letting go of physical things, you will find your mind will be freer and have more space for new things – physically and mentally. Perhaps new opportunities? New hobbies? New friends? A new look showing the new confident you

Photographing these objects can help you keep those feelings and memories without taking up physical space.

Give yourself a break and free yourself up from unwanted things in your life. Remember, taking photos of things can help you let go

Let me know if this has been helpful; What have you let go of physically but kept a photo for emotional reasons?

Photos never taken

Isn’t it funny how we are always smiling in our photos? When someone brings out a camera and points it at you, the most natural reaction is to Smile!

It is interesting that we have this need to record only happy moments. We want to look back and see our photo albums full of joy, closeness and love.

It’s not always the case though, is it? We have moments when we have huge emotions covered by a smile. Do we even acknowledge half the emotions we have? Or do we brush them under the carpet and sit on them because we are not ready to face them?

There are so many things thrown at us in life and I wonder how many of these things we actually deal with? Our feelings are not just in our minds, they are all of us, physical and mental. Positive emotions have great effects on our bodies just as the negative ones have negative effects.

So how about, as you go through your day observe what emotions you are feeling. Give it a week. Just observe without comment or judgement.

Then as you observe more, move into recording. If you feel sad, take a self portrait. If you feel angry, take a self portrait. If you feel happy, tired, grumpy…you get the picture. (excuse the pun)

You don’t have to look at these straight away but in time, set aside some alone time and put the photos together. You can create a collage, write the emotions you are feeling over the photos, display them as you want.

Have a think as you look at the photos:
What caused you to feel that particular emotion?
Was it because what was happening at the time, or did it remind you of a similar situation it the past?
How does it feel looking at yourself having different emotions?
What do you want to offer the YOU in the image during the emotion? (Words, hugs? etc)

Learning what we are and who we are is an important step to learning how to love ourselves. These photos of learning our emotions can help you learn the triggers and causes of emotions and in turn help you cope through the hard times and enjoy the good times.

Good luck and let me know how you get on x