Andy Murray got me to therapy

This is a short n sweet thank you note to Andy Murray, the British tennis player (as well as the fantastic Olympians and Paralympians).

I attended the team GB victory parade on Monday, then later that night found out about Andy Murray’s victory at the US Open. Inspiration overload!

Watching Andy triumph, finally, after years of not quite breaking through to win a Grand Slam – I saw a guy stepping into his power and being the best he can be. It was like he’d managed to break through his own glass ceiling.

He thanked his new coach, the tennis legend Lendl, and it really hit me that if you want to be the best you can be, beyond even your own imagination, you need to do whatever it takes to support your growth – including having someone to help you break through any bad habits.

It seems that Lendl has helped Murray keep his composure on court, to be emotionally fit which helps him get an edge, and not be rattled when things aren’t going his way on court.  I think this has been a key part in helping Murray win an Olympic gold medal as well as get the US Open. Alongside having great coaches, medics, physios, masseurs, managers, he also needed someone to refine his emotional fitness.

So when i saw Murray thank Lendl in his champions speech, I decided that I too needed to do whatever it takes to get me to be my best self. I need a Lendl.

And so the very next day I went to my first psychotherapy session.

I had considered (and very nearly gone ahead with) therapy before, but never felt compelled enough to follow through – I questioned if i really needed it, if it was a luxury. But there was something about seeing Andy Murray win that made me think ‘i too want to be at the top of my game and i need to do whatever it takes to do that.’

So this is a thank you to Andy Murray for inspiring me to honour my ‘best self’ by getting help. It’s not enough for me to be grinding in third gear. If i want to be at the top of my game called life, i need to respect my talent/soul/capacity and support it by getting rid of any bad habits that may be blocking me. It’s this desire that’s driving my butt to therapy each week, and what a great reason to do so :)

I hope that you were inspired in some way by sport this summer – maybe, like me, in a really unexpected way.

Have an amazing week, we are all champions

S xo

What i Iearnt from rock climbing

Yesterday I was lucky to do some rock climbing up a 70ft climbing wall, and there was a moment during the climb where I couldn’t find a foot hold, which made me feel scared and like I couldn’t go any further. My tutor down on the ground called up to me instructions for what i should do, i did as he said and I was able to carry on to the top of the climb.
After the climb, I was thinking about some of the scariest moments I’ve gone through in recent years (flying a plane, trapeze, this super high climb) and wanted to know WHY I was scared. I don’t have a fear of heights, and I don’t have fear when it comes to doing something new. I largely trust myself to be able to ‘do anything’ within reason! So what was I really scared of? What was the anxiety?
I discovered something that may strike a chord with you, that I think is relevant to many people, particularly women.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, it wasn’t the uncertainty, and it’s not control issues as such.  What it is, is i forget that someone has my back. I’m so used to being totally in control or ‘this is all up to me’ that if my foot slips on the climbing wall, i think oh god i’m going to fall because i completely forget someone else has my back. likewise with trapeze, i couldn’t just ‘let go’ and trust in my instructors holding the safety lines because in my headspace i felt like if i mess up or fall or whatever, it’s just me; i forget i have back up.

because i’m not used to having back up

So my fear is not about perfectionism, it’s more like – if i slip, if i mess up the aeroplane controls and we nose dive, or if i let go of the trapeze bar, that’s it. because i forget there’s someone next to me or holding the rope that’s there to keep me safe.

because i have rarely had it. i’m not used to it. it’s so new.

it’s not that i don’t trust them or ‘know’ they will keep me safe, it’s more like it literally doesn’t register in my consciousness that i have someone to keep me safe.

Is this what can hold a lot of us (and women in particular) back from taking risks, daring ourselves to go further?

I’ve read a few articles recently about ‘perfectionist’ tendencies and how that can hold women back from doing anything – beating ourselves up with the idea that ‘if it isn’t perfect then it isn’t worth bothering with’, or fearing that if we don’t succeed the first time we have failed.

But actually I think for some of us it’s less to do with the fear of failing and not being perfect, and more to do with being so scared that everything rides on ourselves, that if we make a mistake or freak out or don’t know what to do that we literally will crash that plane or fall to the ground. Because there is no one at our side who could share some of that responsibility.

That’s a lot of pressure to take. And it’s isolating (as well as saddening) to feel or believe that no-one has your back and could take the wheel if need be or is holding the safety rope.

Self-sufficient women

For me, I think that this belief/habit of feeling that ‘I only have myself to rely on’ comes from an early age. I did not feel safe in my household, and out of that became a very self-reliant person. I literally did not have anyone able to have my back, because most of the adults in my family were broken to some degree.

And I’m sure there are many other women out there who have had the same experience (though maybe a different hue) – perhaps your guardians were physically ill and you had to be the caretaker/head of the household at a young age, perhaps your parents were never home so you had to be in charge of your siblings, perhaps your parents were addicts and you had to raise yourself. Whatever the reason, you may have had to become the ‘strong’ one in your household, reliant on yourself, and having others rely on you, without having anyone else to rely on yourself.

Breaking out of that mindset is hard. And to a large extent it is empowering (and necessary) to be able to trust yourself, to know you can look after yourself, and you don’t ‘need’ anyone else. Yet it also makes taking big risks super scary, because you have those habitual thoughts of ‘if this goes wrong, no-one will be there to help bear the weight’.

I think that’s where my terror comes from.

So i am really grateful to have had some opportunities lately to let me have some back-up; instructors who can guide me and keep me safe while i take risks. Because sometimes things are just too daunting (and dangerous!) to do without having someone else there.

So my Q’s for the week for you: Does this resonate with you? Do you ever put pressure on yourself to ‘not mess up’ because you’re afraid no-one has your back, a primal fear that you could even almost die if you mess up? In what ways could you practice getting support from people you genuinely trust? Which people or situations in your life have you felt secure with, allowing you to dare further than you would by yourself?

I frickin love pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but in order to do so i need to have some measure of security – that someone i trust can hold the safety line in order for me to scale higher. For any of us to grow and push our limits, we have to know someone has our backs, otherwise the fear of doing it alone can be paralysing.

So here’s to climbing higher and having fabulous expert instructors holding our safety wires!

S xo

What does your soul want to DO?

Earlier this week I pulled a muscle in my neck/shoulder, which has given me a few days of being laid up at home, watching Salt, eating muffins and musing!

Inspired by Lissa Rankin’s articles, I want to share something with you to hopefully help anyone who is feeling in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back place.

Your souls calling

In one post, Lissa asks us all ‘what is your soul dying to create?’. And i realised that my soul does not want to create.

Creating can be quite an earthly, tangible thing. It springs to mind a business, a book, a radio show, a house, a baby, a table, whatever it is! To me, ‘to create’ implies output.

And i realised that part of me had a belief that if i’m not producing (or creating) something, then whatever it is i’m doing is worthless. If there is not tangible, quantifiable ‘thing’, then what do I have to show for myself?

That’s a terrible space to be in when your souls calling is truthfully not attached to outcomes. If you’re in the headspace where tangible, quantifiable outcomes (the book, the show, the project etc) denote how well-spent your time is, or how much value you are worth, then you will look down on things that don’t produce an obvious outcome. Things that you love to do for the pleasure of, the process.

My soul does not want to create anything. I know that for sure. My ego wanted to create EVERYTHING. It wanted an impressive bio full of books, movies, acting roles, gallery showings – tangible ‘things’ that prove i’m contributing to the world, being productive.

Nope, my soul can do without all that. For me, it’s about what my soul needs to ‘come out’ – how it flows out into the world. It’s like energy that just needs to have space. Anyone else ever feel that? I feel my soul doing it’s thing when i’m on the dancefloor, when i’m singing & playing along to songs at ukelele jam, when i’m in the flow at stage combat class, and of course sex. I have NOTHING to show for myself at the end of these activities – no souvenirs (unless someone else has been filming it) , no products, i haven’t been working towards anything – just enjoying myself in the moment.

My soul seeks opportunities, spaces, platforms, to do her thing, let her hair down, give it all to that space, then leave.

So is this true for you, i wonder? What does your soul need? And what does your ego need?

Resistance

When i opened up to what my soul really craves (spaces to be free), I hit some gnarly beliefs.The main one being that my soul’s desires are worthless.

How awful is that?! I know!!!

I’m sure it’s an accumulation of many factors – let’s face it, most of us have grown up in an education system that’s results-based, and its likely that out parents geared us up that way too. Worthiness, productivity etc is often based on output and measurable things. So the things we do with no measurable output (other than that we love doing them) are left out of the equation. Even thinking about sex, ‘How many orgasms did you have?’ can be considered more important than ‘how pleasurable was the ride?’

I don’t know if this is to do with living in a masculine-skewed world, and i don’t think it matters too much if it is – what matters is that we start to change our minds. The fact is, for some of us, we have to start unhooking ‘worthiness’ and value from productivity/outcomes.

The main reason why this is so important is that if you don’t feel your soul’s desires (to express, rather than to make something tangible) are worthy, that they don’t matter, that they’re not good, then you are pretty much telling yourself that you aren’t worthy, don’t matter, and are no good. And how the fuck can you live your life from that space?!

This is hard work. For me, i’m finding it hard work. To know that when i hit the dancefloor at class, just ‘doing my thing’ is enough. That my unique expression in whatever arena is enough. No-one ever told me that. Rarely has anyone ever said ‘just bringing your spirit into a space is valuable in itself‘.

Holy crap

Have you ever been valued for who you are, rather than for what you can do for another?

You’re not ‘of worth’ because you produce an outcome, or fix a problem, or make someone else’s life better. Your value doesn’t come from being measured in terms of output or meeting anothers needs.

Your value does not come from output. Not from metrics. Not from what you can provide another. Not from what you can physically go out and change. Not from anything measurable or quantifiable.

Your value comes from your being. When you walk into a room. The way in which you make pancakes. That your presence alone can make someone else feel safe. That’s your significance. Not the trophies, the certificates, the goals met, the number of followers – not that, none of that. Just your presence, your existence, and what your essence brings – which you carry with you all the time.

That’s the value, the worth, the gold.

And I raise a valiant middle finger to the world that has distorted things so much that we don’t feel worthy unless we’re being over-producers, over-achievers, constantly looking to prove our worth.

The sting, the rub, the beginning, and now the end

I know a lot of this stuff isn’t ‘new’ – god knows i’ve read it before. But i’m having a proper bing-bing moment so please bear with me.

Where does this split occur, where we start to believe we need to prove our worth & value in the world by going after external things? Even those of us who have let go of material things (fancy cars, job titles etc) still probably have other things we believe we need to have or do or be in order to be considered of value – whether that’s creating output that others need, or doing something that we believe will have an impact, in order for us to feel valuable.

I can pin it down.

God bless my parents.

What did you have to do to get love? What did you have to do, who did you have to be, to feel recognized, valued? When you were a kid – did your parents project a role or their needs onto you? Or did your parents allow you to just ‘be’, getting their needs met from others or met by themselves in a healthy way?

Let’s just say that both my parents were unable to provide themselves with the happiness and healing they needed, so I had a lot of stuff projected onto me.  I lived in a world where my value, worth, came from what i could provide these people with – that i met their needs that I shouldn’t have met. I wasn’t valued for simply being me – messy, hanging from the trees, plastering-barbie-with-punk-make-up me. I was valued based on what i could do for others – be that fan their social status, or be an emotional rock.

And i guess I’m starting to crack that idea that i’m valuable just for being me, not for my output or for what I can give or do for others ( I enjoy helping empower others – i’m talking about enabling and/or martyrdom…).

So my big ol’ Q’s for the week for you are: What are your feelings, memories, ideas around ‘being of value’? What do you value, what have people made you feel valued for? What’s your lifeblood, is it different to what others value from you? What does your soul want to do, and do you value it? If not, why not?

And with that, I’m done. High fives to all who made it to the end of the post.

Your value is in your happy glory

S xo

Spirituality, big feelings, detachment and disengagement

I was having a great conversation with a friend of mine who works in the spiritual/psychology field about the perils of being in a constant zen-like state, where nothing ruffles your feathers.

It can be very easy to use spirituality as a way to ‘escape’ rather than to be an active participant in life.

I started to think that we (the collective ‘we’) have to be careful that ‘acceptance’ doesn’t turn into denial, that in our spiritually pacified states we don’t lose our agency.

No-one can afford to lose their sense of agency, their ability and motivation to have an impact, be seen, be heard, affect change.

Yet I sometimes wonder if that’s what *some* self-help/spiritual stuff can do to us if we’re not careful. Sometimes you have to make a stand, ruffle feathers, not be compliant or turn the other cheek. The more you disconnect from the meat of life, the less contribution you will ultimately make.

It can be too easy to want to hide from the world, allow crappiness to happen and call it ‘fate’ or that ‘bad things are meant to be’. If previous generations had believed that, do you think women would have got the vote or that slavery would have ended? It can be easy to ‘rise above’ things, rather than to feel the pain of what isn’t right in the world, and take steps to address and change things.

I can’t remember who said/wrote it, but there’s a quote by one of the big inspiring leaders of our times (maybe Gandhi?!) who said (word for word y’all) “it is just as bad to stand by and watch badness happen than to actively go out and harm”.

So we need to be active participants in life. Stand up for what you believe in, don’t take sh*t, fight the good fight. Life can’t always be about sitting on the meditation cushion. Life also has to be out on the streets, in workplaces, in relationships. Don’t blank yourself out of being an agent of change because a) it feels better/safer to remain detached b) we’re all white light underneath it all so it’s ‘okay’ if bad stuff happens to people c) stuff that happens on the physical plane doesn’t matter as long as you’re doing the internal work.

There’s a reason we’re all put on this earth in the physical realm, and i doubt it’s just to be in pure white light zen all the time – you can do that when you die. Right now, there’s work to do, and marks for us all to leave here.

Viva the revolution,

S xo

Valuing Anger

There are so many perspectives on ‘anger’, and i know i’ve had many different opinions/feelings towards it through my life. Yet as i’ve grown, i am also falling in love with my anger.

I am not a particularly angry person in general. laid back, have perspective, rarely hold grudges. I can be pretty accepting of people’s behaviour in general.

However. There is something to be said for having some healthy anger.

I’ve been noticing that it points you in the right direction, at times. that anger can be an amazing clarifier. If you feel lost or stuck in any area of your life, get in touch with your rage, what pisses you off, and you’ll find some clarity there!

Anger is also an amazing sign that something or someone is flagging up a boundary or self-integrity violation. For me, anger flares up when i feel someone is not honouring or respecting my independence, my right to have a differing opinion, or literally not respecting my physical space. That doesn’t mean i then go apeshit – it can be as simple as ending the conversation, saying no, calmly telling the other person that they’re making me feel uncomfortable, or walking away.

Honouring your anger means standing up for yourself. If you can’t take a stand for yourself, then you are not ‘for’ yourself, and that is not very loving. Anger can be a sign that you deserve much better, and that if you stay in this angry-making situation you are doing yourself a disservice.

Recently i watched the latest Batman movie. Without giving too much away, there’s a part in the film where the only way Batman/Bruce Wayne can motivate himself enough to save his life, as well as the lives of others, is to get angry. By tapping into his anger, this also spurred him on enough to move past his fear and ultimately be successful. He was so angered by injustice that he didn’t care if there was a chance he might die on his crusade. Without the anger he was in a malaise, and nothing was ‘worth’ taking action for – without his anger, Batman was in a slump.

Most of us aren’t caped crusaders, but i think we can learn something from this. How often do we talk ourselves out of our righteous anger? Maybe you’re in a relationship with an utter dingbat that pisses you off, yet you swallow your anger and put up with their crap, disempowering yourself and letting a cad get away with less-than behaviour. What would happen if you tapped into that anger? Might it propel you out of the relationship?

I remember once seeing my mother get so angry at my dad, after years of a bad relationship, that she stormed home one day and pulled her wedding ring off. Whatever doubts, fears, justifications for staying might have been swirling around her head, pure energy surging through her body prompted her to say enough is enough. That was the beginning of her shifting out of that destructive relationship.

That’s what can be so great about anger – not the ‘that guy cut me up on the road’ anger or the ‘my friend spilled red wine on my white rug’ anger. But the anger that clearly cuts through all your personal bullshit that keeps you disempowered, keeps you in a dead relationship, keeps you in a job you hate, or that keeps you quiet.

Anger can make you more visible. You will be making waves in the world – whether that’s through marching in the streets for a cause, standing up to your parents, saying ‘no’ to someone who expects you to be compliant. so you have to be kinda brave to be angry.

If you are in any kind of malaise at the moment – if you feel emotionally dead, or psychologically stuck – tap into your anger. What fires you up? What makes you want to bark like a snarly dog? Sometimes feeling angry can tap you back into your true self again – it awakens vibrant life energy in you and forces you to take a stand.

Have a great week. Be healthily angry

S xo

Is there such a thing as being ‘too’ conscious?

Reading through personal development, spirituality, and self help books there can be a lot of talk about consciousness and making conscious choices. To ‘co-create’ you life, make the best choices you can to build a life in line with your visions.

I dig that, and think it is important to live life with as much clarity as possible. Consiousness/awareness is the key to begin changing unhealthy habits, patterns and relationships. Consciousness helps you make the best choices for yourself.

However, I found that my ‘consciousness’ or self – ‘awareness’ could sometimes throw up a batch of other problems – questioning my decisions (are they honourable, the best choices?), cross-checking myself, wanting specific things rather than being open to what I *could* have, and generally judging or analyzing myself throughout the day.

Anyone else fallen into that trap?

A friend of mine was telling me how a few years ago she had this problem too, hers had an eco-warrior flavour. She checked all her choices against how environmentally-friendly she was being, to the point of not wanting to take up any space on the Earth as she was using up its resources (including the air). Her ‘consciousness’ when it came to decision making and ‘being’ in the world had got to the point where she was effectively boxing herself in, limiting her life and creating mental turmoil (as well as guilt).

Yesterday on a whim I went to watch the Olympics men’s road cycle race as it went through my local park. If i had been more ‘conscious’ about how precious my time is and the activities i REALLY want to bring into my life, I probably should have worked more on my website, gone to a dance class, or used the time to clarify my week-ahead-goals. Instead, I went to watch the race (I’m not a cycling fan, by the way) and had a fantastic afternoon. The excitement of the crowd, mingling with people from all over the world all having a good time, it was great.

And i realised if I had stuck to my ‘conscious’ decisions, I probably wouldn’t have gone. And i would have missed out.

Be conscious – use awareness to shine light on problem areas in your life so you can then transform them. But don’t use consciousness/awareness to berate yourself. Don’t use it to analyze yourself or pull your every decision apart. It should be a tool for empowerment!

Love and gold medals,

S xo

‘Who’ does your environment turn you into?

We may often talk about how our peer groups, school systems, and even workplace ethos can impact us. Something I want to look at today is how work can bring out certain facets of you, and how to consider this when plotting your next moves.
I’ve worked a lot of different jobs – some public-facing, some computer-facing, some more factual, others more creative, and have found that different jobs bring out different sides to me. The Sarah who works in retail is definitely different to the event production assistant Sarah.
In my experience working in a job where you are based in an office (or perhaps doing officey work from home), computer-facing, having to have convo’s with people in a ‘professional’, cold, unnatural way, can erase you. If there isn’t a platform at work for you to be friendly, self-expressive, using your own language (rather than corporate speak) then for me at least,  i felt like going in on myself – on the exterior you’d meet a professional, unremarkable office bod. Inside i’d still be ‘me’ with no outlet for ‘me’ to go.
Whilst working my current job in a more public-facing role with a bunch of team mates, I’ve noticed I’ve really come out of my shell. When you speak with me at this job, I am 100% me with no veneer. And interacting with people all day every day has made me way more friendly and sociable. My previous office jobs did not have this kind of impact on me – quite the opposite. They made me more introverted.

I wonder if this happens to a lot of people, that they’re wiping themselves out – erasing their personality because their workplace (where they spend the most time) demands it. Not all jobs do that, but a large proportion probably do want you to ‘be’ a certain person rather than just be yourself. How many people are shutting down and not being open to others because their workplace is putting them in the habit of being closed off, with just their pc screen and work-speak for company?

It’s shit and unhealthy

so there

;)

But seriously, this brings up a very helpful question: ‘who’ do you want to be? What kind of person do you want to be? What part of yourself do you want to cultivate? What work places or workstyles would bring that side out of you?

Do you want to be more outrageous? Do you want to be more chilled out? Do you want to be more confident? Do you want to feel more vitality? Do you want to feel more of a human connection? Do you want to cultivate your intellect?

I remember years ago when i was deciding on which gap year placement i wanted to do, i had two options: nursery assistant or secondary school teacher. I wanted to cultivate my own confidence and practice public speaking, so I went for the teaching placement. I chose the experience that would bring out qualities I wanted and valued.

So maybe you can do the same if you are considering a job change or even if you just want to spice things up in your life. Ask yourself what experience, environment, line of work, or endevour will bring out a quality you want to have.Or even a quality you know you *should* cultivate in yourself, even though it may be hard or scary.

It’s a really great way to grow. You may discover sides of yourself you thought you’d lost or didn’t even know you had.

Fab week y’all, get cultivating

S xo

How much do you cherish your capacity to feel?

Let’s start with a quote!

“To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting.” – e.e.cummings

I noticed recently I’ve been a little off-kilter, particularly in two ways: 1. preoccupied with food (thankfully it’s just become lots of snacking on toast and cereal rather than anything too bad!) and 2. feeling a little disconnected from my creative force.

Moreover, through my new job and the little extras it brings (the London commute, weaving through crowds,  dealing with the public in a fairly functional manner) I realised – truly realised – how easy it is to be disconnected from your feelings and even your soul when you are operating in a world which wants procedure, ‘professionalism’ (which includes stuffing your feelings and going into robot mode), efficiency, facts/information, and results.

My feminine creative expressive deep-heart self was miserable as sin tonight! It took me a good while (and some art making) to revive her. And I wondered - is this the assault all our feminine hearts have to endure frequently? Is this the struggle, really, that wears women down?

I had believed for a long time that I had quite a masculine core – a tomboy, that likes adrenalin activities, thai boxing and never wears heels (okay, maybe once a year with skinny jeans). Yet the more I step into spaces or situations that demand more masculine ways of ‘being’ (linear, fact-based, 1+1=2, less feelings and more info) the more i’ve been feeling empty and unheard. Because my feminine heart has nothing to say in those conversations. And I think that my feelings are my strongest link to being alive, and being human.

The spaces I thrive in are deeply rooted in the feels! I think I like adrenalin activites because of that feminine need to feel deeply, rather than because i am necessarily masculine in my energy. Creative expression, to me, is all about feeling and the senses. The conversations and blogs I contribute to are mostly around perceptions, feelings, life experiences, philosophy and spirituality – from a heart-space. Being in the flow often means being in a present state of feeling, whether that’s playing sports, meditating, painting, dancing, or watching Lars and the Single Girl (which I watched the other night and *highly* recommend).

This may or may not be a ‘women’s problem’. I’m sure there are also many men who feel like they have to stuff down their feelings and become a little robotic at work, or out and about living life. It really sucks. If society is built and made up from both men and women, both types of energies, from both functional linearity and feelings-based creativity, then how come the vibe overall feels so antagonistic towards being human, real, with feelings, with connectivity?

I’ll be spending the next few days stoking my personal fires around what’s important to me, and how to ensure my soul light remains shining. I didn’t realise how important being in a deep-feeling state was to me until it started to be overtaken by the demands of linear living.

Some interesting Q’s to think about for you:

  • How much do you value your capacity to feel, express, create, select, and connect with others at a fundamental human level? If you didn’t have feelings, only thoughts, what would that be like?
  • How do you handle (or don’t handle!) moving between linear, masculine spaces/situations and more emotive, feminine ones?
  • Do you think in your town/community/workspace/family/peer group that there is more of an encouragement or expectation to be linear, logical, fact-based, ‘masculine’ OR more feminine, based around feelings, self-expression and flow? Has that affected the choices you make and your level of personal happiness?

Would be intrigued as to how you feel, so pop a comment below and let’s get a discussion going!

Have a splendid week

S xo

The Busyness Post

This weekend, i’ve had FOUR different occassions where i’ve had someone mention, or i’ve read about, the value of time over all the other things that are generally thought of as worthwhile to live the good life. In particular, busyness. I’ve been aware that sometimes we create busyness for ourselves to avoid feeling difficult emotions or to avoid loneliness, however something else has been coming up.

Sometimes people busy themselves to feel important, worthwhile, because actually underneath it all they’re not doing anything worthwhile – and by that i mean worthwhile to them. Perhaps they’re avoiding living the life of their dreams. Perhaps they’re not honouring their gifts and talents. Perhaps they’re not doing fulfilling work. Or perhaps they’ve attached too much significance to being in this state of busyness that the idea of living a simpler life, with more time to just ‘be’ and have fun, would just be guilt-enducing.

(Please read this fab article about it in the New York Times)

I think the habit of busyness starts young.

At school, it’s often the case that on top of being encouraged to succeed in all your subjects, you also need to have a good roll of extra-curriculars (across sport, music, subject-based study groups, languages etc), become a prefect, and contribute to charitable stuff like fun runs, bake sales, sponsored hikes.

Then at Uni it’s the same. Gotta fill that CV up so you’ll be ready to go to market once you graduate. Get a good academic record alongside heading up some societies, doing volunteer work, getting internships, running your own small business, being in the hockey team, playing in a band etc etc.

Then in some work places it continues. Stay late to make sure projects get finished above and beyond your scheduled work hours. Socialise with colleaugues at the bar, as well as go to strategic networking events to help both you and the company. Join the company tennis club. What charity do you support? Become a mentor to a local schoolkid.

And then, goddamnit, you’ll probably end up throwing parenthood into the mix.

I mean it just goes on and on, right?! No wonder some of us feel confused, pulled in different directions, hooked into the drug of being everywhere at once. And a lot of it feels like a prescribed social requirement, rather than something that’s come from deep within you.

Most of it is white noise. I think also sometimes living in a city we’ve got used to having a constant shlew of hyperactivity thrown at us – from dodging thousands of people on the streets and metro to having our brains dazzled by advertising. And there’s the ‘net, of course! There is so much to process. And often when I leave the city, to visit friends in small towns in the countryside, I get so restless and bored after a couple of days I have to come back, like a junkie, to the thrust and distractions of the city. It’s a comfortable madness.

The thing is, humans (i believe) need to be occupied. There’s only so much lying on the grass you can do before you get bored (and I like lying about, believe me). We need shots of adrenalin to make sure our hearts still work. We need to encounter fear-ful situations that test our strength and push our boundaries. We need to use our bodies to keep them alive. We need to interact with others, and feel productive – it’s good for self-esteem and creates positive change in the world. Yet being busy for the sake of it, or being involved in things that your heart isn’t in, is madness. As is being pummelled with information/advertising/noise/crowds without discernment, or without downtime.

So this week I’m spending some time meditating on what I truly want to get out of life – even if that’s just the next six months. What idea of living life do i want to buy into, and what do i want to create? I encourage you to do the same. Identify what is truly important to you in life (and that could be life itself), then use that as a basis for making decisions about how you spend your time. It’s too easy to unconsciously get swept into the habit of living life at warp-speed doing things you don’t care for. Unless someone has a gun to your head, you don’t have to treat life this way.

Here’s to revolutionising your life!

S xo

Your gut sometimes speaks loudest in darker times

This weekend was pretty emotional and big for me. I moved out of my family home (I’ve been staying with my mother and brother) to lodge with a friend, and I’m the first person in my family to have done this – none of my cousins, aunts or uncles, or parents ever moved out from living with their parents to live independently. All of them went from family home to living with fiances/partners. It’s common in my family for kids to stay with their parents til their mid-thirties when they get hitched, so to have flown the coop under thirty and be a single girl is almost pioneering.

Many of you reading this probably left home after college, or are married, and probably wonder why is this such a big deal.

Well, everyone you meet has their ‘area of challenge’. For some people, it could be an eating disorder. For others, it’s debt. For others, it’s being in bad romantic relationships. You know an area of challenge – that part of your life you wish you could change, but for some reason you keep replaying the patterns and habits? Well for me, my area of challenge that has taken a long time to handle has been moving out to live independently. That’s why it’s a big deal.

In this area of challenge I have had the fear, I’ve had the emotional issues, I’ve had habits that stopped me from taking a risk to change. I’ve had resistance – both within me and from my family. And I’ve had to make tough decisions and draw on a lot of inner reserves to stay the course.

So, post-move-out, I’ve been learning a lot of things about myself already. I’ll share one with you now: It’s funny the things that can bubble up when you walk through fear. Fear can be an amazing clarifier. When the true survival-instinct kicks in, it can guide you without you even having to think what your next steps are. For example, on my first night at my new digs I felt homesick and worried, and I had a headache, and I was trying to adjust to not being part of my family household. But I just couldn’t think. So I let my body go into autopilot, and listened to my gut. It would tell me what to do. “You need water” “Go buy some bread” “Read your book” “Wash your hair”. It was SO clear. I was in an emotional place where I didn’t know what the hell to do with myself, yet there was this powerful, clear ‘voice’ guiding me through it all. After I’d carried out my inner guide’s ‘instructions’, instead of feeling sad or anxious or overwhelmed I just felt exhausted and crashed into bed.

I’ve been learning that you can be as scared or confused or tearful as anything, but you can still get your ass to work, or cook dinner, or take care of yourself. You can walk through the fear, feel AWFUL, and still function. Fear, sadness, confusion, all those ‘negative’ feelings can affect you hugely but they will not kill you. And alongside all these feels, you’re bound to bump into your inner guide to anchor you while you meltdown.

I’m settling in okay now ;) More lessons from this to come…

This week’s question: When do you hear your gut / inner guide clearest? Has it guided you through difficult times?

Have a great week, see you the other side of fear!

S xo