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Why are we banning books?

Banned books

Reading is so important so why are we banning books?

Reading and access to books are two of the biggest factors indicating a child’s likelihood to succeed at school and we know that when a child succeeds in school that can impact the rest of their lives, even if only in their confidence.

We know that children with access to books and who read have faired better during the lockdowns for example. It would, of course, be a mistake to think that adding a few books to every home would instantly improve educational standards, there are of course many other factors. There is no doubt that this has been a key indicator of a child’s success during the pandemic. Living in a home with books is important.

I can’t imagine a home without books, but then I have always been fortunate to have books. My favourite day of the school year was the day they came round with the book fair leaflet. I would run excitedly home to look through and choose my book, knowing that my parents would often have to say no treats we asked for, but book requests were always met with a firm yes. Sensibly no restrictions were ever put on what I chose, if I wanted something that might have been deemed to be frivolous or too young, as long as I read it, that was ok.

I was a voracious reader at primary school. I read every night with my little bedside light, everything from Secret Seven and The Magic Faraway Tree to the classics like The Hobbit and books about Robin Hood. I just loved books.

The joy drained from reading overnight

When I started high school things changed. Suddenly I was told what to read and worse still, when! I was made to read books I didn’t enjoy and the joy drained from reading over night. This is a familiar story I know. I have seen it so many times, including with my own children.

Fortunately as soon as I was past the age of being dictated to about what I read that joy returned like water through a broken dam. I began to read for fun and discovered philosophy and psychology books during sixth form and would sprinkle in Terry Pratchett books to lighten the mood. Reading opened so many doors to knew concepts, new ideas and times I can never live through.

Since then I have loved reading. There have been times when I haven’t read as much as I would choose because of circumstance or mental overload, but I have always read.

Banning books?

This week we are once again reading about banning books in schools in the US. Long lists of books that some people in particular states deem to be inappropriate and don’t want their children subjected to have begun to appear online. Anything that challenges gender or discusses race seems to be the target.

Anyone who has ever met, or been, a teenager knows that this technique is ludicrous. I have yet to meet a teenager who can’t find a way to access anything that adults ban them from whether that is cigarettes, alcohol, friends who are a bad influence, or books. I wonder then why these short sighted parents and adults haven’t realised that they are probably going to increase the number of teens reading these books significantly now they know there is something interesting in those banned pages.

Of course from my perspective this can only be an advantage. These misguided adults have effectively signposted all the most rebellious and controversial books of our time to ensure that our young people can find them more easily! Not just young adults either, I’m sure many adults will wonder what all the fuss is about and seek them out.

Be assured that this is precisely what will happen if these books are banned.

They can ban them in schools but they will still be available through bookshops, and second hand shops and probably even online. Our bright, liberal thinking young people will now read them to find out why people wanted to deprive them of this joy. In fact it will no doubt become one of the most rebellious and status giving things to do, and we all know how much teens love to rebel. 

So please, you narrow minded, ill-educated decision makers, please do keep signposting these books which will challenge the attitudes of certain elements of society. Keep showing our children which attitudes they need to obliterate when their generation are in charge, and that time will be here before we know it. The majority of Generation Z are already more accepting and open minded than any previous generations. I’m sure these banned books are just the tools they need to stretch that awareness even further and give them an understanding either of others they are sharing the world with, or historical events that we don’t want repeating under any circumstance.

Thank you book banners, you might have just found the one thing that will raise our young people’s eyes from their screens and get them reading. Long may it continue.

The Power of Handwriting

The power of handwriting

Handwriting has become quite trendy again over recent years.

In the same way that people are returning to paper books after the novelty of the e-reader has worn off for many, there has been a huge resurgence in writing by hand.

You don’t have to scroll through Tiktok for very long before you come across someone doing beautiful calligraphy. Journaling has also grown in popularity. More and more people are returning to pen and paper for everything from communication to events diaries. 

Why are people returning to these old ways?

Well, I think there are many reasons.

We know that when times are hard we find comfort in old familiar things, whether it be foods, objects of habits. When we write by hand many of us are returned to our childhood and a simpler life. It rekindles that carefree creativity we often experienced in our youth, before life became more complicated and stressful.

There is a general trend towards reusing things and not being wasteful and books can last and be enjoyed for hundreds of years and enjoyed by many people.

We are all feeling a little screened out after years now of Zoom meetings and working from home so sitting to relax with a paper book or handwriting a letter to a friend with pen and paper feels more like relaxing and less like work.

More importantly though, I think, is the science behind handwriting.

The science behind handwriting…

As a journal therapist, there are some interesting things which happen when we write by hand. You see, when you sit down to write the left, logical side of your brain immediately starts to work out the exact requirements of the piece; spelling, grammar, construction, content… however, when you allow yourself to write freely, without setting any limitations on yourself you discover the true magic. 

After a while the right, creative side of your brain will subtely take over the writing process and what flows onto the page can be as much of a surprise to you as to anyone.

handwriting

Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.

Pick up a pen or pencil and a piece of paper or a notebook and start writing. When you think you can’t write anymore and you have written all your need to write today push yourself to keep writing, just a few more sentences. Even if you have to repeat the words that you write until new ones replace them, keep writing. What happens next is truly incredible. You will reaslise that you are suddenly writing more and more and that you are writing things which you didn’t even realise were true until they spilled onto the page. 

Honestly, give it a go.

Kate writing

By using this technique you can work through things that have been upsetting you or find solutions to problems. You can understand better why someone has upset you or what is holding you back. 

With the right guidance writing can be an incredibly powerful therapy. It can help you heal and move on from traumatic experiences and help you realise your dreams.

If you are interested in learning more abut the power of writing, why not sign up to my newsletter for journal prompts, writing and wellbeing news and so much more.

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 word most associated with 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

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. 

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