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Eat, pray, love

Eat pray love

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert changed my life.

That might sound melodramatic but it’s true. My love for this book has grown over the years as I have learned to appreciate the true impact it had on me.

It is 15 years this year since I had my life changing pituitary surgery. In itself that changed my life, but after that surgery my lovely friend Lisa Williams invited us out LA to stay with her as part of my convalescence. We had been friends with Lisa for abut six years, since she lived in the midlands, she had been a huge part of our lives, but little did we know just how important she was going to be.

We went out to LA the Easter after my surgery and Lisa showed us all the sights and gave us the full Hollywood experience. 

 

Why is this relevant to Eat, Pray, Love, well, on the final day of this holiday Lisa took us to an amazing bookshop in Hollywood called The Bodhi Tree, which is sadly closed now, but it was the most magical shop. We spent hours there looking through crystals, books, journals, oracle cards, candles… our daughter thought it was a magical paradise. It was certainly the perfect place to spend the last of our holiday money!

When we left the shop, Lisa handed me a bag which contained a beautiful goddess journal and a copy of Eat, Pray, Love.

When I thanked her, she just replied that I needed them.

It was truly the most magical holidayYou can see in this photo that my features still hadn’t quite returned to normal, but I was feeling so much better I can’t tell you. 

Anyway, we boarded our flight home, and as our daughter watched the children’s programmes on the little tv, I opened my new book. I hadn’t read a book for pleasure since before Laura was born, it felt really indulgent.

KATE BEDDOW and Lisa Williams

After years of reading nothing but picture books to be sitting with a memoir in my hand felt wonderful, but as I started reading in the relative solitude of the plane I was transported into a life I couldn’t even imagine. Elizabeth Gilbert walked away from her marriage to go on the most self indulgent trip around the world I could imagine. Visiting Italy just for the food and language, going to India to visit an ashram and then back to Bali to visit a wise man who had once said she would return and spend time there.

It was so far from my life, it felt like a fairy tale. 

I had had a real awakening after my surgery five months before. I realised that even though I wasn’t able to do anything productive the world had kept spinning and my daughter was clean, clothed, fed and happy. This had given me permission to release a little of my control over life, but this book gave me another layer. 

Eat, Pray, Love, gave me permission not only to let other people do things that needed to be done, but to do things for me, just because I wanted to do them, because they made me happy. 

Study

It isn’t easy…

When you have been living for everyone else for years, it isn’t easy to just suddenly start doing things that make you happy. 

Some changes just happened. We finally fell pregnant so for a year or so my focus was on that enormous change to our little family. I did continue to read and started inhaling every self help book I could find in the search for greater meaning, and as soon as our son was born I started to make little shifts. I signed up to do online courses, started really thinking about what I wanted to do for a living not just choosing the easy options. 

I did a counselling course and completed all my Reiki training as a way to keep on top of my own health issues. I quickly realised the power in energy work to support others though and began doing treatments when I could fit them around the children. 

I was also using my goddess journal and started writing, not a daily account, but an emotional outpouring of how I was feeling every day and my dreams and aspirations. 

The combination of those two gifts was powerful and Lisa was right, I needed them.

I wonder if there is a book that springs to mind as you read this as having changed your life? I know there are several books that have had a profound impact on me, perhaps I will share some more of them in future articles, but for now, I would love to know the book that changed your life. 

Perhaps there was a book that made you a reader, or that spoke to you at just the right moment, like Eat, Pray, Love did for me. 

 

books

Did you enjoy this article? Why not take a look at these on a similar theme?

10 books that will change how you live your life

Are you still learning who you really are? 

Change – exciting opportunity or terrifying necessity?

Change

Change is probably the word most associated with the new year. The turning of the year marks an opportunity to make a new start, in the same way a new week, or even a new notebook does. We like to have a fresh opportunity to make all those changes to our lives that we know we should be making:

I’ll start my diet in the new year.

Next year I’m going to learn to drive.

I’ll leave him next year.

Whatever the big change is that we need to make, there is a strange momentum that we believe comes with a new year. But does it really? Well, it gives us a starting point but how many changes that happen at this time of year are lasting changes?

We only need to look at the number of people who join the gym at this time of year only to go for a cuple of weeks then lose momentum and never go again to know that there is nothing magical about the new year. 

 

What can help us make a lasting change? 

If the new year, or Monday, or a new month can’t help us to stick to the changes we need to make, what can? Unfortunately there is only one thing… YOU!

I know, this isn’t what you wanted to hear, but if you want to make a change, you are the only person who can make sure it happens. If you want to eat more healthily, go to the gym, learn an instrument or stop smoking, ultimately, the only person who can make that happen is you.

After all, you are the person who makes the decisions about what you eat, where you go and what you do. So what three things are you going to change this year? 

I have already made some big changes, and yes, after saying all that about the new year, I made the decision that I was going to make those changes at the start of the year, and some of them I already have, so that’s a good start.

Changes we implement

When we make a decision to change it is usually easier. There are times when we know we must make a decision and it is still a challenge, but generally changes happen when we make that mental first step. 

I had to make the difficult decision to stop my subscription element of my Calmer Classrooms business this week. A series of events meant that it was the right thing to do, but it doesn’t make it any easier when you have dedicated over 7 years to growing a business which then, through no fault of your own, isn’t sustainable. However, while this might sound like a sad and difficult change, it really isn’t.

Kate writing

What next?

You see, for a while now I have been getting itchy feet. I worked as a teacher until I had my family, before that I was at school then university myself, and then for seven years I was back in education. I loved it. Knowing I was helping so many teachers and children with my resources and training was amazing, but it also took up all of my time and there were other things I was being drawn to do. I began doing courses alongside my work with schools. First step was to qualify as a life coach. I was a little resistant because there are so many coaches at the moment, but people kept telling me that I was born to do it, so I started doing the odd coaching session, and I loved it.

Then I qualified as a Journal Therapist. I have always loved writing as a way to process my emotions and situations so the idea of helping others using the same techniques, but with a deeper understanding really appealed to me. These combined with my mindfulness and meditation teacher qualifications and my Reiki Master attunement has become a pretty potent mix for helping people work through challenging times and work out what they really want from life. 

Big changes can be scary and in a way they should be

Although there is a part of me that is sad to be leaving education after so many years, I am so excited about this new chapter that it is bearable. I have always loved a challenge and a fresh start and it feels like the right time. There are so many cross overs between coaching, therapy and teaching that I have always been a coach and therapist, just under a different title. It’s time to put all my years of experience into the perfect package and make a lasting impact on the world.

Imperfect change

That doesn’t mean that I’m not a little bit terrified too. It wouldn’t be normal to be making such a big change and not feel a little apprehensive. Afterall, I have made a good living working with schools, not enough to retire, but enough. I had to choose whether to watch my business slowly die, or to make the decision to walk away and build something amazing to replace it. 

In that situation I am always going to choose the option which gives me the most control, so walk away it is.

How can you cope better with change?

Accept what you can control. 

All too often the changes that make us most uncomfortable and afraid are caused by someone else’s decisions. We have to accept that sometimes these decisions are signs that we aren’t supposed to spending as much time with them, or even that we shouldn’t have them in our lives at all. We can only control our rection to changes that occur, we can’t always change the decision.

Your life is your choices. 

Your life isn’t pre-destined. It is a collection of choices and changes. By choosing whether to embrace the changes that occur or reject them you are writing your life story. Sometimes we have to make that big scary decision to embrace a change in order to create the life that we know we are meant to be living. Grab that opportunity with both hands and hold it close, if you run away who knows when it might present itself again.

Take control of the situation.

This may sound silly but if you make the decision to accept the change and convince yourself that it is something you want to happen, it suddenly becomes something you can cope with. This isn’t possible with every change, for example it wouldn’t work with grief, but even with illness, you can decide that it is a necessary rest and reminder of your own mortality. Appreciate the lesson in the situation and be grateful for the opportunities it presents. Harness the energy of the change rather than letting it control you. Make the most of what life has given you.

Burn your script. 

Often our resistance to change comes from a belief that we are not living up to the life we always thought we would be living. We have created a story of what our life will be like, often from an early age, and any deviation feels like failure. It isn’t failure, it is just another choice, another path you can decide to take. Stop and really think about why you feel that your script it the right story. Often we are trying to live our life according to a very outdated idea of what we sould or shouldn’t be doing. Burn that script and enjoy living the life you have been given. Everything will feel so much better.

So, as you are huddled up under your blanket this January, take a moment to reflect on your relationship to change. Do you embrace it or does it fill you with dread? What can you do to make it more manageable?

If you would like to know more about my coaching  and the many and how it can help you to feel more empowered and calm, you can find out more here.

Change

Living with Uncertainty

Uncertainty is one of the biggest causes of anxiety. When we don’t know what to expect our body goes into high alert in order to protect us from the unknown, and it triggers our fight, flight or freeze response. This is designed to keep us safe, unfortunately, it also triggers a series of biological reactions which is not necessary or used effectively can cause stress levels to rise. 

We all know that this is true, we have been experiencing it all our lives. We are used to having a day when we feel a little anxious because we have an exam, an interview or even a date. What happens though when we are living in a prologued period of uncertainty, like a pandemic, just to pluck an exaple from the air! Of course it might not be the pandemic that has you feeling like this, it could be during 6th form worrying about your exams or during a work placement. Perhaps you are working somewhere and there is a uncertainty because the industry is in trouble and your job might be at risk. Stress levels are high at times.

You may think that feeling a little stressed is normal, there’s no harm in a little stress to keep you on your toes. Well, stress can be incredibly harmful. Short period of stress are normal, our body can process all the chemicals our body releases when it is just a shaort term reaction. When we are living with stress all the time though, those reactions can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, even strokes. You may have noticed you aren’t sleeping well and feel tired all the time… that is caused by raised stress levels too.

Recognising that we are living in this state is the first step to managing our emotions and reactions and to calming the physical response your body has.

What can we do to help us stay calm?

There are lots  of strategies you can use to help you when you are living with uncertainty.

Here are my favourites: 

Grab a pen

It won’t surprise you that one of my favourite things to do when I am in a prolonged period of uncertainty is to journal. I grab a notebook and write about how I am feeling. I focus on the issue that is causing the uncertainty and see if there is anything I can do to rationalise the situation. Is there anything I can do to take control? Anything I can prepare for? If there is then I make a note of what to do next. I also use my journal to work through my emotions surrounding it. Is how I am feeling rational or have I been reminded of another time when things went wrong and that is why I am feeling like this. If so, how likely is it that things will turn out the same way? Write out all your thought and try to write without filtering or worrying about spelling and grammar. You might be surprised what you discover. Of course you don’t have to wait until you are in crisis to journal, you can write for a few minutes every day to stay on top of your wellbeing.

 

Meditation

Meditation is both a wonderful way to work though any emotions that you might be feeling around the situation you are in, but it also calms the nervous system. When we meditate our heart rate slows and we give our minds time to process what is happening in our lives. Meditating every day is a great way to stay on top of your mental health. There are many ways to meditate. If you try one technique and it doesn’t work for you or you aren’t able to emerge yourself, don’t give up. Guided meditation is a great starting point for most people as it is just like listening to a story.

Why not try one of my guided meditations? 

change

Breathe

If you know me you will know that I am a huge believer in the power of breath work. Simply by taking a few slow, deep breaths you can reverse the effects of your fight, flight or freeze response and begin to calm your body and mind. There are lots of breathing techniques you can use, but just thinking about your breathing will cause you to instinctively slow your breathing and your body will begin to calm down. Hot chocolate breathing is a wonderful way to calm yourself and your loved ones at this time of year. You can find out all about hot chocolate breathing in this article I wrote on Medium.

ritual

Exercise

I know! The last thing you want to be doing when you are feeling anxious and uncertain, is thinking about exercising. Most of us just want to hibernate and eat comforting food. Unfortunately that is the worst thing you can do. When we are feeling anxious or stressed our body is prepared for running away or fighting and the best way to process the chemicals produced is to exercise and use those chemicals the way they were intended to be used. You may hate every moment but your body will thank you and you will feel calmer and more in control afterwards. 

Making sure you eat healthily for at least 80% of the time is also more important than ever when we are feeling anxious. Foods we tend to turn to for comfort; sugary, high fat, caffeinated, alcoholic foods may make you feel better in the short term but when the effects wear off you are left feeling more anxious than before. You also need more and more to get the effect you need so before you know it you are eating and drinking more and more and then you feel worse than ever. 

 

Switch off

If your stress is being caused by things in the wider world, as oposed to things in your personal life, switch off the TV and stop reading the news. We are bombarded by messages of fear by the mainstream media and this doesn’t help anyone. The messages we are given are carefully designed to have the greatest impact on us so that we act and  do what is needed, but in reality it is causing people a great deal of anxiety. If there are really important messages that you need to hear you will find out from someone. Most of the time though there is very little you can do to change the situation and it is better for your emotional state to be blissfully unaware. 

Life in the moment

Anxiety is worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. By trying to live in the moment as much as possible and focus on the here and now you will reduce your anxiety and feel happier. Want to know more why not read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. 

These are just a few simple things that you can do to help you to cope when you are living in a prolonged period of uncertainty. There are many more, but these are the easiest to implement and, in my opinion the most effective. 

As this prolongued period of uncertainty rolls on for everyone, which of these tips will you be implementing to help you stay calm and happy throughout.

 

 

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click the link and buy the product/service associated I will receive a small payment in return. The product/service will not cost you any more. I never recommend anything I have not experienced myself. I always appreciate any purchases made using my links as they enable me to continue writing and helping more people. 

Plan and Dream

Planning and dreaming

Planning is one of the many things that comes to the fore at this time of year for me. 

With the festive period looming and all the planning that goes into that and the turning of the year shortly after it is only natural, I suppose, that we begin to think about the  coming year and what we hope it will be. 

This isn’t just about planning for work, although I do that too, it is also about the plans I want to make for my family for the coming year. 

Of course there will always be events which occur and change our plans, if the last two years has taught us anything, it is that literally anything can happen and derail us if we aren’t careful. For me that is all the more reason to make plans though. 

In the past, as I mentioned in this blog, I have always done most of my planning in September, but this year I am going to try a calendar year approach again, to see whether I can make it work yet? I suspect I will always be an academic year person, but I tend to do a mini-plan for the new year anyway, so I can always plan again come September if I feel inclined.

Next year I have some big changes both in my business and personal life which I need to start planning for and mentally preparing myself for too. I am making some big shifts in my business which I am really excited about, but I am also preparing for some of the biggest changes I have ever experienced in my family life too. Over the next twelve months we have concerts and theatre trips planned, some which have been postponed for more than two years already (my husband will be seeing The War of the Worlds, which was his 49th birthday present, just after his 51st birthday!). We have charity balls and weddings which have been delayed due to the pandemic which we will hopefully be able to attend this year and I will have to acclimatise myself to my daughter going to university and all the adjustments that go along with that, practical and emotional. 

If you know me, you know that I am a planner.

I love planning!
I plan everything. I love nothing more than grabbing a handful of pens and a pile of dotted paper and getting all my ideas out on paper.
How can we possibly plan for the coming year when we have no idea what it will look like?
Well, I encourage you to plan for things you have some control over; fitness goals, home improvements, hobbies you would like to revisit or take up, changes to the garden, recipes you want to try… It might sound like playing it small, but these are the things that can change your life immeasurably.

planning and dreaming

 

Journaling

There are do many ways that we can take time to process the year we have just experienced. Journaling is a great tool for this. Just take a piece of paper and either a pen or pencil and write. Maybe set a timer for 10 or even 20 minutes and write. Don’t filter anything. Just keep writing until everything has spilled out onto the page. 

So often things come out that you hadn’t even realised you were feeling or thinking. it really is a powerful tool.

 

Meditate

Setting the intention that you will have a greater understanding of the experiences you have had in 2020 when you meditate can be a wonderful exercise. You may see people, places or memories, you may receive messages in the form of images or words to help you make sense of things or you may just feel more relaxed, which is never a bad thing.

vision board

Create a vision board

A great way to collect all the ambitions and dreams you have for the coming year it to create a vision board. Cut images and phrases out of magazines and arrange them on a board on piece of card or foam. Or create a Pinterest board and then create a digital collage. However you create it make sure you put it someone you will see it every day. (I have mine set as my screen saver). Keeping focused on what you want your life to look like is so important. (watch this video for more information)

Have an attitude of gratitude

Starting your new year with a gratitude practise is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Whether it is starting a gratitude journal where you write 3/5/10/20 things you are grateful for every evening, or waking up every morning and listing three things you are thankful for before you start your day, gratitude is a powerful tool. When you focus on the positives, your brain learns to focus on all the good things in your life and everything feels more positive. 

After two years filled with uncertainty it may feel a little foolish to be making big plans for a year filled with potential disruption again, but in reality, every year is uncertain. We never know what might come up and catch up unaware. We can’t allow that uncertainty to prevent us from fulfilling out dreams and making exciting plans. So whether it is a big business dream or something indulgent and fabulous, make those big plans and dream those big dreams, no-one else can do it for you and you deserve a life filled with excitement and adventure – whatever that means to you.

Are you still learning who you really are?

Who are you

Who are you? 

Not who has the world told you you are, or what job do you do. Who you are isn’t the roles you fulfil; wife, mother, daughter, teacher, sales assistant etc. The person you are deep inside, when noone else is watching. When you are at home, alone and you sit reflecting on what you enjoy doing, what makes you happy, what clothes you enjoy wearing, eating etc.

All too often we get swept along with who we have been told we are, over years and years, by parents, teachers, friends… we forget to keep checking and discovering if they are still right – if they were ever right in the first place!

Looking around I see people every day going through the motions, doing what they have always done, because they have always done it, even if it doesn’t make them happy.  

Who has influenced my sense of self?

Over the years there have been many times when I have stopped and taken stock of who I am. I have stepped away from my life in order to do that sometimes, literally, physically. 

A few weeks ago I did just that. I packed a bag and went to my inlaws caravan in Devon for a week. All by myself. I wrote the first few chapters of my book, I ate the food I love, I slept when I was tired and walked to see things that I was interested in. If you are a mum, you will understand what an incredible luxury this is. Everything I did for five whole days I did because I wanted to do it, without having to consider what anyone else wanted to do. It was liberating. It gave me time to create, to plan and to stop and think about what makes me happy and what I want to focus on going forward. 

I also took the time to watch some of my favourite films and read some of my favourite books. While doing this I realised just how much some fictional characters have helped me to work out who I am, who I want to be and even to be brave enough to make big decisions.

I love the March family

Throughout my life certain stories and characters have captured my imagination and my heart, for a variety of reasons. I remember the first time I read Little Women. Faced with these diverse representations of women I was only interested in Jo. She was feisty and passionate, caring and brave. She loved books, writing and education and she was, above all, true to her heart and herself. She wasn’t afraid to cut off her hair and face ridicule to help her family. When Amy is faced with injustice, it is Jo who jumps to her defence. I love Jo March. Over the years I have re-read the book many times and watched the films too, and every time it is Jo I resonate with. I like to think that had I been born into the March family I would have been like Jo. I aspire to be Jo March. 

Little Women
Beautiful book

In my twenties I loved a good romcom (ok, I admit it, I still do!). I remember the first time I saw “You’ve Got Mail”, it captured my heart. Not because of the romance between Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. No! It was the romance between Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan’s character) and her bookshop that I was interested in. She loved her bookshop more than anything, with its beautiful wooden bookshelves, reading area and the essence of her mother’s passion for books. I have always loved books, I dream of owning a bookshop just like Kathleen Kelly’s. Not just the stories books contain, that I love, it is the actual physical item. I can buy books just to look at and never read (and I do!), because they look beautiful. Look at this gorgeous edition of “Pilgrim’s Progress” that I bought in Haworth last week! I will never read it, it’s too pretty, but I love just looking at it, and yes, smelling it!

Eat, Pray, Love

When my friend Lisa Williams gifted me “Eat, Pray, Love” while I was staying with her 14 years ago I wasn’t reading very often. My daughter was 3 years old and I had just had major surgery, but I started reading it on the plane coming home and I couldn’t put it down. Elizabeth Gilbert is a real person, but reading her adventure inspired me to make so many changes in my life. I have never met her, but I read her book and I felt her spirit. I learned lessons by reading her story. Reading how she changed her life by being brave enough to make some big decisions gave me the strength to do the same. I realised while reading this book, that it was ok for me to be selfish sometimes. That doing things because they made me happy was valid. 

Eat pray love

I finished the book in two days, I started a course, changed my career and started on a whole new path, because something in her personality resonated with me. I didn’t copy her. I didn’t divorce my husband and travel around the world. I didn’t decide that I wanted to be like her, to emulate her. Something in her spirit resonated with something in mine and she gave me the strength and permission I needed to make a change. Throughout my life fictional characters, and people I have never met, have helped me to form my view of self. 

The older I get the braver I get. It gets easier to hold my head high and tell people what I enjoy, to admit the things that I don’t want to do. I feel no compulsion to do things because everyone else is doing them, unless they appeal to me and will make me happy. Does that mean that I don’t ever do things that don’t make me happy? No of course not. Sometimes I do things I don’t really want to do because it will make someone I care about happy and that makes me happy. I don’t do things anymore that I know aren’t right for me. 

 

What changes could you make today?

My question for you is; Which characters have helped you to discover your true self? Have you taken the time to discover what makes you truly happy? Do you prioritise your own passions and pleasure when you live your life? If not, why not? What little changes could you make today that would increase your happiness and nurture your true self?

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