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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?

Winter Writing Calendar

Winter Writing Calendar

I love a chocolate advent calendar as much as the next person, but at this time of year I start to reflect on the past year and make plans for the coming year. 

I love to journal about all the things I have achieved this year and things I have done and then create a vision board of all the things I want to achieve in the coming year. 

If there is one thing I have learned it is that if I enjoy something then there are other people out there who do too. 

What is a winter writing calendar?

Every day I will send you a quick email with a writing prompt to help you explore many different aspects of this festive time of year. You will also get a poem, short video or mindfulness technique to help you explore winter wellness and how writing can help you to support your wellbeing at this challenging time of year. 

You don’t need any previous experience to take part, just something to write with and something to write on. 

 

You might choose to treat yourself to a new notebook or use the back of envelopes. You can add it to your existing yournal if you have one or write it on your phone notes. The choice is yours. 

You can spend 5 minutes a day or 50 minutes a day exploring the writing prompts and if you have a busy day you can catch up whenever you have chance, this is an enjoyable activity not a chore.

Writing can often seem like a solitary process but it is so much more fun when we share our writing and talk to other bibliophiles. Why not follow me on social media for more healing writing tips?

If you love words and would like a gentle journaling prompt straight to your inbox every day of advent sign up below.

 

The Power of Story

The Power of Story

Story has been a theme throughout my life. 

As a child I loved to read. Once I could read to myself, I used to hide under the covers reading “The Folk of the Faraway Tree” when I should be asleep. I have memories of reading Famous Five books in our caravan on wet days and getting all the Dr Dolittle books and the Chronicles of Narnia out of the local library. These were special books because they were big and hard backed, they felt grown up. There are so many books that have shaped my life, I’m not sure I could even begin to list them all. 

Not many people know that I wanted to be a librarian as a child as much as I wanted to be a teacher. I made little library cards and pockets for all my comics (Bunty and Beano) and would lend them to other children round the street. 

I spent 40 hours working in our local library when I did my Service Flash badge at Guides and I loved every minute; finding people’s cards when they returned books, putting the books back on the shelves, carefully using the Dewey decimal system, replacing damaged plastic covers… I loved everything about it. When it was time to make decisions about career paths in Y10 we did a strange exercise which involved colouring in tiny lozenge shapes with an HB pencil. We had to answer a wide range of questions about what we enjoyed and it would give us our perfect career choice. Mine came back with Librarian and Museum Curator. By then though I had discovered drama and neither seemed quite as exciting as working in a theatre. Once I had decided that the theatre wasn’t for me, teaching seemed like the obvious choice. I love children, I could stand confidently and present and most of my family were in education. 

Longing for stories

As the years have gone on though, I have realised how much I need writing and stories in my life. I still love reading, and recently started reading fiction again, after years of psychology textbooks and self help titles. I have also realised how important it is to me to write. Whether it is a social media post, blog, newsletter or the book I am currently writing, sharing stories is a huge part of who I am. I studied Theology for my degree and as part of the course we did Theology through film and literature. We learned about the importance of symbolism in stories and of course Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. I was fascinated by how this story arch fit every popular story I knew. If you haven’t looked into the concept of the hero’s journey please do, it is fascinating, especially if you enjoy reading or films.

Sharing stories is a practice as old as language. As soon as we could communicate we began telling stories to explain things we didn’t understand and creating myths around creation, the weather and the seasons. We tell stories to make sense of the world, how we are feeling and reassure ourselves that everything will be ok. 

This is the power of story. 

Last week I shared that I was having a diffidult day on social media. It was far from the most difficult day I have ever had, but I had had a few disappointments and I needed a good cry. Without fail it was the most responded to post on any of my social media platforms last week and probably this year. When we read about other people’s lives, but particularly their challenges, we feel connected to that person. We feel reassured that we aren’t alone when we have struggles.

Library

My author’s journey

Recently I started writing my first book. It is going to be a memoir and, even though I am only a little more than half way through the first draft, it is proving to be cathartic. I am having to relive some very difficult times and am sharing things that even some of my family don’t know about. I have cried a lot while writing but I know that if my story is having that effect on me, when I lived through it and know what happens in the end, then it is going to be a powerful read – well, I hope so anyway!

Kate retreat

At the start of the month I went away for a few days to make a start on writing my first draft. I knew that to really get a good start I needed to remove any distractions; housework, work for Calmer Classrooms, etc. My in-laws have a static caravan in Devon so I asked whether I could go for a few days to write and do some planning. They were a little worried about me going by myself but I reassured them that I would be super sensible and, honestly I hardly left the caravan. I popped into Okehampton a couple of times to visit a beautiful bookshop I discovered, Dogberry and Finch, and apart from that I went for a walk to find this beautiful secluded church (St Michaels, Brentor) but other than that, I wrote. I wrote and wrote and when I came home I had completed five chapters and had the framework for the whole book mapped out.

Since I got home I have set aside time every week to write a little more. One day it will be finished and then who knows what will happen next. I believe it is a powerful story, but then I would, it’s my story. Whatever happens to it though I will always be so glad that I had the opportunity to write it all out. It has been really therapeutic. 

Writing in all its forms is incredibly healing. If you have ever written a diary, filled in a gratitude journal or written morning pages you will know how deeply cleansing this form of writing can be. I have been journaling and writing in my gratitude journal for many years now and writing my articles and blogs is also therapeutic for me. I will definitely be consciously incorporating more writing and word work into my work with clients, and my own daily practice, from now on. Do you have something you need to write out today? Perhaps something you need to tell someone or something you need to work out. Grab a pen and some paper and start writing. You won’t regret it!

Journaling

Everyday Reiki

Everyday Reiki

Reiki is an ancient healing modality which involves the person giving the treatment acting as a conduit and channeling universal energy into the person recieving the healing. 

That isn’t the important thing though. 

That is what you would tell a scientist who was asking for an explanation.

What is important really is that it is an incredibly relaxing, natural treatment which can assist with anything from healing broken bones to mending a broken heart. It is a powerful but gentle way of recharging your batteries when your body is run down either because of physical illness or doing too much, or because of emotional trauma. 

Very few treatments are as holistic as Reiki.

When yhave an appointment with a therapist for a treatment you will lie on a treatment table possibly under a blanket and, depending on the practitioner, they will either gently place their hands on your body in a series of positions, or they may hover their hands just abover your body.

Personally I prefer to gently place my hands on the person recieving the treatment as I feel that caring, human contact is healing in itself and this only adds to the teatment.

If you have a friend or family member who offers to give you a treatment they may just sit next to you on the sofa or ask you to sit on a dining chair. 

The wonderful thing about Reiki is that you don’t need any equipment with you, as long as you have your hands then you can help someone. I have stood behing my Mum in the services on the way back from London and relieved her migraine and eased a friend’s backache while standing at the side of the playground on the school run.

I have been a Reiki Master for 12 years now, and it is one of the best things I have ever learned. When my children were little I could help them sleep and take the pain out of their bumps and bruises. As they grew I was able to help alleviate growing pains and menstrual cramps and now it calms their anxieties, especially in the light of the last 18 months. Reiki is so gentle you can use it on everyone from newborn babies to the very elderly. 

Reiki

I can also use my healing hands on myself. This is actually what prompted me to learn it in the first place as I was searching for natural ways to ease the fatigue, joint pain and occasional headaches that accompany my acromegaly.

How I have used my Reiki for my benefit

I use Reiki at least once a day on myself. I will attempt to list some of things I have used Reiki to help over the years: 

  • headache
  • toothache (including extraction and a filling)
  • joint pain
  • backache
  • pulled muscles
  • menstrual cramps
  • bruises
  • tummy bugs
  • insomnia
  • cramps
  • grief
  • anxiety
  • insect bites
  • breathing difficulties
  • and so many more…

I know it seems crazy that just placing your hands on yourself can ease all of these issues, but honestly it works. Often you don’t even realise how effective it has been until you stop and realise that you haven’t had any pain for a few hours.

Reiki and the NHS

When I did my Reiki training there was still controversy about its effectiveness. Over the last decade though many NHS trusts have begun to employ Reiki practitioners in their hospitals and there is increasing evidence of the impact it can have for a range of medical conditions. You may find these articles helpful if you want to learn more about how the NHS is now using Reiki and other holistic therapies.

Reiki

Would you like to learn?

If this sounds like something you would like to learn, I will be running some Reiki classes over the next few months. The first of which is being held on the Sunday 17th October 2021 from 10-4pm at my home in Stafford, UK. I will be running more classes to accommodate the times people need. 

I am even able to run the sessions via Zoom so if you are interested in learning but you are too far away to attend in person don’t let that stop you getting in touch.

If you are interested in attending on the 17th just contact me and I can book your place. 

If you are unable to attend on the 17th but would like to be notified about future dates or Zoom courses let me know and I will be sure to get in touch as more dates are added.

I love running Reiki classes because it is such a magical and intimate day. We discover so much about each other and share a home cooked meal (prepared by me to suit everyone’s dietary requirements). It really is a wonderful day. 

I will be running Reiki II classes in 2022 for anyone who wants to take the next step so if you are already attuned to Reiki I and would like to take the next step I will be scheduling those sessions for early in 2022. I also run Reiki Master classes but they are usually done 1:1 as and when people feel ready.

I would be honoured to be your teacher and guide you on this wonderful new stage of your life. 

What’s your mountain?

What's your mountain

Mountains can be physical or psychological. 

Last week I climbed Blencathra. I never thought when I was being told I had acromegaly 14 years ago that I would be able to walk 8 miles, never mind 8 miles up a mountain and back. You see the most obvious, lasting symptoms of my condition is that my joints are damaged. Particularly my knees, hips, elbows and hands and feet.

Three of those are essential for climbing mountains. Having been told many times over the years that if I put too much pressure on my knee joints I would need a knee replacement I have been scared to push myself. 

It’s so easy to tell ourselves we can’t do something, isn’t it?

When I was first diagnosed with acromegaly I was scared. My daughter was only 2 years old and I couldn’t see what my future would look like. I was in pain and couldn’t imagine how long life would continue like that. When my surgery was so successful I was filled with gratitude. I cried and vowed I would always be grateful for this second chance I had been given. 

I don’t believe it is possible to always be grateful, all day every day. We are human and sometimes we feel frustrated and angry. I try though.

Over the years I have had days when my limitations have caused me so much frustration I have sat and cried. I can’t knit any more. When I sew for more than a few minutes my fingers cease up and that frustrates me. I know that I am a 45 year old with much older joints, but I have decided to modify my life so that I don’t feel limited. 

It works for the most part. Most days I am just grateful and I feel as normal as anyone can. 

Some days though I am reminded that my body is not in any way the body of an average 45 year old. This was the case when we were climbing the mountain. There were 11 of us walking, ranging from my 6 year old niece to my 69 year old Mum. Despite working really hard on my fitness and muscle strength recently, I struggled the most. This photo is one of many we could have taken of me sitting mopping my brow while quietly weeping in frustration. My lovely Mum held back with me to support me and keep me going, but it wasn’t easy. 

mountain

Did I make it to the top?

Hell yes! I was not going to let a little think like frustration and worrying about letting people down stop me.

Did the whole thing remind me over and over again that my body can’t do everything my head thinks it can? Oh yeah! 

You might think that this is a negative thing but it really isn’t. I made it to the top of a mountain, and not an easy mountain. Everyone found it challenging and my stepson, who climbed Snowdon a couple of years ago, said it was harder than Snowdon. (He may have been humouring me, I don’t care, I’m taking it!). 

Mountain summit

Challenges aren’t supposed to be easy 

They are supposed to push us to our limits. Your limit will be very different to mine. When I was first recovering from my surgery being able to walk to the kitchen was an achievement. Now I have climbed a 868m mountain! 

A challenge for you might be running 12 marathons in 12 days. You might be able to run one easily. 

Your challenge might be to learn to read or to swim or to show someone a painting you have done. 

What is challenging for you will change many times throughout your life. But whether you are 6 or 66 years old it is important to keep growing and pushing those boundaries, while at the same time being immensely grateful for what you achieve. 

You are amazing!

Some days achieving something might be getting out of bed and having a shower. (You will only understand the energy it takes to have a shower if you have truly been ill and struggled with fatigue, it is not as easy as you might think!). It might be climbing a mountain or being brave enough to talk to your boss about a pay rise. Whatever your challenge, believe in yourself and celebrate when you achieve it. 

How did I celebrate? Well, I cried a lot. I allowed myself to feel truly proud of myself. I hugged a lot of loved ones, oh and my Dad bought me a badge to show that I have conquered Blencathra which I will be sewing onto my new rucksack when it arrives. You see, I have decided that this is something I really enjoy so I am going to be doing much more walking and mountain climbing. Not all as big as this challenge, but I will be setting myself lots of walking challenges over coming months and what makes it even better, is that my family are going to join me on them.

Quality time with my loved ones and a physical challenge, nothing better. 

 

Life is a Rollercoaster

Life is a Rollercoaster

Do you sometimes feel as though you are on a rollercoaster and you can’t get off?

Life is so full of ups and downs that sometimes we feel dizzy. I know I have often wondered when I can get off the ride. 

This is life. 

Life is a glorious mix of good times and challenges. Without the challenges we don’t learn and without the good times we might just give up all together.

In the words of Ronan Keating: “Life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it!”.

Why is it though that the difficult times always seem to last so much longer than the good times?

Well, it is due to a simple evolutionary process which is designed to keep us safe but which can, if we don’t learn to control it, lead to the feeling that life is just one long pit that we are trying to climb out of.

Over many centuries our brains learned to remember the challenges and dangers we faced more vividly than the fun times. This is for the very sensible reason that very few people die or are seriously impacted by laughing or enjoying themselves. It is vital for our survival that we are able to remember when something causes us hurt, either physical or emotional though. Psychologists call this the negativity bias.

As a result we become more alert and take in every detail of the dips in the ride in an attempt to avoid that part of the ride if we see it ahead in the future. 

If only it was that easy.

Of course any pain always makes us more present and more likely to be on high alert, when we are soaring high and enjoying life we just go with the flow and don’t pay anything like as much attention to the things happening around us. 

rollercoaster

We are pre-programmed to feel that it can’t last, when life is good, and that “life is always hard” when we are struggling. 

I remember buying a new car a few years ago and within hours of buying it everything started going wrong. The two weeks it took to get everything sorted (the garage bought it back and I replaced it with a reliable alternative!) felt like the longest two weeks of my life. It’s the same when we are ill, time stands still. Yet when we are on holiday or having fun with our friends the time passes so quickly we wonder if it ever happened.

 Apparently the majority of parents have feared that something bad will happen to their child, while watching them sleep peacefully in their bed. It’s the way most people are wired. Statistically though less than 9% of the things we worry about ever happen. I’d play those odds with almost any situation. So what can we do to allow ourselves some mental freedom and ease our feeling that we are riding a never ending emotional rollercoaster.

 

Is there anything we can do to help us appreciate the good times more and diminidh the darker days? 

Mindfulness

Well, it won’t surprise you to hear that mindfulness is a great start. 

Ensuring that you are fully present whatever you are doing will help you to remember the good times more and you will start to balance the scales a little. (Read  Can being mindful ease anxiety? for more information)

Cut down your screen time

Spending less time on screens avoiding “real life” will also help. When we are going through difficult times we often reach for our devices and either get lost in social media or play games to distract our brains from what is going on. This may be an effective short term strategy, but if you’re not careful you then miss all the good things happening around you too. You have to participate in the whole of the rollercoaster ride to really be living your life. 

Gratitude

Focusing on feeling thankful, whether it is by writing down the things you are grateful for, or saying them outloud, will begin to teach your brain to look out for all the good things in your life. This will, over time, shift your focus from the upsetting, or depressing aspects of life, and you will learn to pay more attention to all the joy and blessings. Make sure you work your gratitude into your daily routine. 

Eat well

We know that our stomachs act as a second brain as far as mindset and mental health and what we eat really impacts our mood. If you are consuming lots of sugar, processed food, caffeine, and alcohol, you will find it harder to see the positives because you will feel tired, anxious and lacking in energy. When you feel this way it is much harder to find the joy in life. We comfort eat for the instant gratification but long term it just adds to the rollercoaster feelings and is really damaging to our wellbeing.

 

So, the next time you are going through some rollercoaster times in your life, stop and think about all the positives you can find. It may only be that you have a roof over your head and something to eat, but that is more than many people have. 

Remember:

This too shall pass.

 

 

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