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National Reading Month

National Reading Month

March is National Reading Month.

 A whole month to celebrate the magic that is reading, and of course the month which contains World Book Day, a day either loved or hated by children and parents alike. 

As an ex-teacher and self proclaimed bibliophile, I am fascinated by how people engage with books. Probably my favourite thing about teaching was seeing that magical moment when something just clicks and a child suddenly has confidence reading. This usually happens around the age of 6 or 7 years old. Seeing the joy in their face when they realise they can read whole pages of words without having to sound them out is pure magic. 

Sadly, for many children this is around the age their interest in reading peaks.

Statistically children read more books a year in Y3, which is 7 and 8 year olds, than at any other time in their lives, around 37 books a year. Of course it is also around this age that most children move onto longer and more complex books, but the average reading age in the UK is only 9 years old and 18% of people said they never read, when surveyed. 

I’m not going to pretend that there haven’t been times when I haven’t read as much as I do now. When my children were younger I perhaps read three or four books a year but I have always had a book on the go. I appreciate that some people are unable to read, for whatever reason, but these statistics include audiobooks.

When people say that they don’t read, it makes me sad. Reading is one of the greatest joys in my life. Sitting in a comfy chair or in bed, with a good book and a cuppa is one of my favourite things in the whole world. Extra points if it’s raining and double points if Im in a caravan or conservatory with the rain on the roof.

Reading is breathing in…

When it comes to reading, I agree with Pam Allyn; “Reading is breathing in and writing is breathing out”.

Obviously my work is based around the power of writing, but it is so much more than that, because I do believe that to be a writer you have to be a reader. We see it all the time in young people. Those who read and are read to, have wider vocabularies and a better grasp of grammar and sentence structure than those who show no interest in reading. Without both we can’t survive.

 

Reading

How can you celebrate National Reading Month?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Visit your local library – So many libraries are struggling to stay open and they are such an incredible resource. Why not pop along to yours and find out about all the resources and services they offer now. They are definitely not just a place to borrow books any more.

2. Start, or join, a Book Club – Book Clubs are a great way to enjoy books with other book lovers. If you enjoy reading a particular type of book, why not start a book club specifically for that type of book? You will always find other people with similar taste if you ask around. Remember Book Clubs can be run online now so you don’t have to just find people in your area.

3. Start a Bookstagram account – If you really enjoy reading, Instagram has an incredibly friendly community of fellow booklovers. People share book reviews and photos of the books they are reading. It’s a wonderful way of making other bookish friends. (If you decide to do this, look me up and let’s be friends: @katebeddow).

4. Visit the home of a famous local author – Most parts of the world have houses you can visit which have connections to famous authors. Why not have a day out and find out more about an author who lived near you?

5. Find a local book event – Perhaps there is a book signing at a local bookshop, an event at your local library, or a talk being given by an author locally. Have a quick google search and see what you can find.

6. Read a book – I know it seems obvious, but this is the single most important thing you can do during National Reading Month!

Reading

Any reading counts!

There is no judgment about what you read. If you want to read a magazine, newspaper, graphic novel, classical novel, romance, thriller, murder mystery, historical fiction, fantasy… then read that! Honestly, it isn’t about what you are reading, it is about keeping those reading muscles flexed. If you enjoy reading children’s books (I know I do!), read those, read a recipe book or a car manual, it really doesn’t matter. The benefits of reading are extensive; increased empathy, reduced stress, prevents cognitive decline, increased vocabulary, improved empathy and improved readiness for sleep to name just a few.

To say nothing of the joy it brings when you find a book or a series that really captures your imagination and draws you in. There is no better feeling than finding a book you don’t want to put down. 

How will you celebrate National Reading Month? I hope I have given you some inspiration, and also some reasons why it’s a good idea to embrace the joy of reading.

Are you a Word Witch?

Are you a Word Witch?

Are you a witch?

 This might seem like a controversial question, and your reaction will very much depend upon your upbringing and belief system. Over the years we have been lead to believe that witches are evil, that they dabble with devil worship, or worse, and they need to be destroyed – literally. Although the last woman to be executed for witchcraft in the UK was Janet Horne in 1727, the last woman to be convicted and imprisoned for witchcraft was considerably more recent, in 1944). It is impossible to know exactly how many women, and  men, were convicted of witchcraft over the years, but the number is definitely in the tens of thousands. 

 

So why were these people accused? Well, often the women accused used herbs and natural remedies to heal. They were also often the village midwife. It is easy to see then how easy it would be for people to have a grudge against them. Perhaps someone lost a baby, or their partner, after they had visited this woman for help. Suddenly it is all her fault that they died and they want revenge. That’s just one of many scenarios. Often these women were intelligent and even well read (which of course was not good for women’s delicate disposition), which made them a threat to the dominant patriarchal society at the time. They may have used the power of words to aid healing, it cannot be a coincidence that spelling and spell sound so similar, even though they apparently have different origins as words. 

Of course just being an outspoken woman was reason enough to be persecuted. Women were not supposed to have an opinion and definitely not voice it. We only need to look at the likes of Anne Lister, and how local society reacted to a woman having not only a position of power but using her voice. It was not something that went unnoticed and lead to her being beaten and verbally attacked in the streets many times. 

What then is a Word Witch?

Well, that’s me, and it might just be you? 

All my life I have used writing and words to comfort myself, to work out any problems I had and to self heal. More than that though, I truly believe that you can change your life with the power of words. 

Whether you are journaling and working through your current emotions, future challenges or past tragedies, or you are saying affirmations in a mirror the words we speak have tremendous power. We know that choosing the right words when we talk to others can have a dramatic effect on their response, the way we talk to ourselves can too.

Word witch

In the world of business choice of words is vital, particularly in advertising and marketing campaigns, and of course legal contracts.

We know that the words we choose can actually have a physical impact on the structure of water, (if you aren’t familiar with the work of Dr Emoto you must check out his work with water crystals and emotions)so if our bodies are 60% water then it only makes sense that we should choose the words we speak to ourselves with care too. This is why affirmations are such a powerful tool when we are trying to heal physically or emotionally, but also to empower ourselves. These are definitely a big part of my word witch toolkit. 

Word witches

Word Witches

These days of course women are allowed to have a voice, they are taught to read and right and, as time has gone on, we have realised that many of the ancient herbal remedies and healing practices can be proven scientifically to work. As more and more people are looking for natural ways to stay healthy, there has been a renewed interest in holistic healing practices and more and more people are turning to earth based, deity free belief systems. The reasons for this are undoubtedly many, I know I have my ideas, but there are many solitary witches around the world now.

The wonderful thing about being a witch, is that you can pretty much make it whatever you want it to be. There are no rules. Most witches have a deep love of nature and enjoy being outdoors, but some witches love cooking things up in their kitchen, others love the rituals associated with the practice.

I love the magic of words. 

Whether it is the power of words to transport you to another place and time through story or poetry, to help you remember, to work through things and help you forget, or even to heal. I believe words are one of the most powerful forces on the planet and for that reason the term word witch sits with me very well. 

 

I love the acronym, Woman In Total Control of Herself. This is a true witch for me. A woman who knows her own mind, who loves and respoects the world and others and who lives life to the full.

So, what do you think? Could you be a word witch too? 

 

(I am very aware that there are still countries where you can be tried and convicted of witchcraft. Sending love to all those living in those areas.)

National Storytelling Week

National Storytelling Week

National Storytelling Week

Next Monday (30th January 2023) sees the start of National Storytelling Week, a week devoted to celebrating the art of story telling. Children in schools will focus on stories and do lessons around key stories and people of all walks of life with take time to think about the power of storytelling.

We know how powerful storytelling is; whether it is the power to send a small child to sleep or to keep a tribes traditions alive. It is through telling stories that we are able to impart wisdom, share lessons that have been learnt through the generations and, perhaps most importantly, how we stay alive. While ever someone is telling our story we will always be here. Our energy and our wisdom will continue, long past our physical existence. 

 

When we allow our story to be told we not only keep ourselves alive in the hearts of others, but we also ensure that others, who may have a similar story, don’t feel alone. When children listen to stories about other people feeling scared, alone, upset, they realise, often unconsciously, that the way they feel is ok and other people sometimes feel that way too. When someone who is grieving or seriously ill reads or listens to someone else telling their experiences of that, or a similar situation, they feel seen and understood in a way no other experience can. 

Storytelling as a healing process

Of course writing your story, or any story, is an incredibly healing process in itself. Even if that story is never shared with anyone else, writing down your experiences or imaginings can be a powerful and therapeutic process. 

I read articles every day about celebrities who have written autobiographies or musicians who have written a particularly personal album, and the dramatic impact it has had on them. 

You really can change your life with the power of words.

 

writing for storytelling

How can you celebrate National Storytelling week?

 

1. Read a story you have been wanting to read for a long time.

We all have stories that on some level we know we want to read, but it might be a bit long, or not a very uplifting story. Perhaps you just haven’t got around to buying or borrowing a copy yet. Get that book and read it this week. Your future self will thank you. 

2. Talk to someone from an older generation and discover part of their story

It can be easy to assume that the older generation don’t have anything interesting to say, especially when we are younger. We often assume that because they don’t go out very often now that that has always been their life. In reality of course they were once a vibrant twenty year old or an adventurous 30 year old. Why not find time this week to invite someone to have a cuppa and some cake and talk to them about their youth. I guarantee you will find out something magical. 

A few months ago my mother in law had a get together for the jubilee and invited a few friends and family members and her neighbour and good friend, Doris. Doris is almost 96 years old and the most amazing lady you can imagine. She is always immaculately turned out and incredibly well spoken. I have always had a soft spot for her, but life is busy with two children and everything else I juggle and I don’t spend as much time with her as I would like. This particular day she dropped a couple of bombshells into the conversation; “When I saw Richard Burton in Stratford” and “It reminds me of when I went to Vegas!”. Because there were so many people in the room she didn’t elaborate, but I was desperate to ask her more about it”. Maybe that will be what I do during National Storytelling Week.

writing for storytelling

3. Write your story

Think back on a particularly positive period in your life, perhaps a holiday or trip, a particular job you have done or when something significant happened. Grab a pen and paper or your laptop or phone, and start writing about that time. Write down everything you can remember from that time; your feelings about what was happening, what you remember seeing, eating, watching onTV… Make it as detailed as you can. You may never write any more or you might be inspired to write a full memoir or autobiography. Whatever you decide the benefits of revisiting a time in your life when you were really happy are immense.

4. Read a story to someone else

If you are a parent chances are this is part of your day or week anyway, but if you don’t have children or they are grown up, you probably don’t often read aloud. We experience stories very differently when we read them out loud, and the person listening also has a profoundly different experience. My parents often experience books this way. My Dad has a problem with one of his eyes so he finds it tiring to read for long enough to read a book. So they find books they both enjoy and my Mum reads them out loud to him. It is a really lovely routine and they both get different benefits. 

5. Watch a film about a famous storyteller

There are some wonderful films about many of our most cherished writers. From “Shadowlands” to “Miss Potter” and “Goodbye Christopher Robin”. Why not take the time to watch one of these wonderful films this week and remind yourself about the magical lives many of our favourite authors lived.

 

Keep those stories alive

However you decide to celebrate National Storytelling Week, I hope you will find the experience of immersing yourself in stories an enjoyable one. It is something I love to do all year round, not just for one week a year. Stories have power and can truly change the world so let’s make sure that future generations value them too.

 

 

Journal All The Way!

Journal all the way

Christmas can be a stressful time of year…

There are so many pressures from outside forces, whether that is social media, family, friends, the media generally, to create the perfect Hallmark worthy Christmas. We increasingly feel the pressure to have the perfect decorations, piles of presents under the tree, matching Christmas pyjamas, hot chocolate stations, elf on the shelf… the list is never ending. 

While all these things are wonderful, if that’s what you strive for, they are far from what this time of year is all about. If you ask most people, they will say that it isn’t about the presents or the decorations, it is about the people you spend time with, about enjoying quality time together. Instead we often spend days dashing around making sure everyone is properly dressed and sitting in the perfect festive scene. None of that matters.

What can you do to support your mental health at this time of year and make sure that everyone enjoys this festive time?

Well, the most important thing is to focus on the important things. As long as you have something to eat and you are together then that is the most important thing. It is important to keep this focus. Everything else is a luxury.

Making sure that you take time to breathe, even if you are basting the turkey or peeling potatoes while you do, will help you to keep your stress levels manageable too. There are lots of things you can do to be more mindful, you can read more about those here, but in for now I want to talk about how journaling can help you at this busy time of year.

I know what you’re thinking; “the last thing I need is something else to do!”, and I get it, I really do. But believe me, you can spend just 5 minutes a day journaling and the difference it will make to your day is mindblowing. It is honestly worth every minute.

There are so many journal prompts you can access, so you don’t have to go into this habit without support. I send out a prompt with my newsletter every week, I also have a Pinterest board with lots of Journal prompts that I have saved, which you are welcome to look through.

So now you know where to find a prompt, what do you do with it?

festive journaling

How do I journal?

Journaling is just a type of writing. So you will need something to write with and something to write on. It can be a brand new beautiful journal and your favourite pen, or the back of an envelope and one of the kids’ twistables! The important thing is that you are writing. If you prefer to use a digital writing form that’s fine too, although there is research that shows that your brain processes things differently when you write by hand, so if at all possible, please try to handwrite your journaling. Once you have chosen your prompt you can get started. This is how I journal and I find many people benefit from using these rituals too. 

Before I start I make sure that the place I’m sitting is comfortable and that I am warm enough (which often means a blanket and fingerless gloves at this time of year!). Then I light a candle. There is something magical about candle light and I find staring at a candle helps to calm me ready for writing.

Then I just sit and look at my candle’s flame and I take a few deep breaths and really ground and centre myself. I find this really helps me to write meaningful things. Without this step my journaling often becomes a to do list of things I need to get out of my head. Which is ok, and sometimes that is a necessary thing to do, but if you know that you have a lot of things on your mind and you need to write a to do list, sit and do that before you start journaling. 

Christmas journaling

Now you are ready to write. Read through the prompt you have chosen and write it at the top of your paper. Then, and this is the important thing, you are just going to write whatever comes into your head. No filtering, no stopping. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, handwriting, just write. 

If you are short of time set a timer before you start, but otherwise I would recommend writing for at least 5-10 minutes (longer if possible). If you run out of things to write, just write “I don’t know what to write” over and over until it is replaced by something else. It is after this point, when you think you have written everything you can think of, that the real magic will begin to appear on the page. 

When you write without filtering your brain is able to tap into thoughts which you may not consciously have acknowledged before. It can be a very profound experience and very healing. 

Of course when you work with a journal therapist, they will encourage you to dig deep and use this writing time to really explore those thoughts and writings. If you would like support with your journaling practice please do get in touch, there are lots of ways to work with me, depending on your needs, time and budget. 

The act of sitting and writing is in itself calming and lowers your blood pressure, but when you journal in this way, it is proven to benefit your mental health. Interestingly, it is also proven to boost your immune system, what more could you need at this time of year?

Grab a notebook and pen and get writing. You won’t be sorry and your family will thank you. 

 

Autumn Reflections

Autumn Reflections

Autumn is my favourite time of year.

I love everything about it. The colours, the smells, getting my jumpers and boots back out of storage and of course the food. There is nothing more comforting than a stew or warming ginger cake. This year has been no different. I have enjoyed weeks of kicking my way through crunchy leaves and using candlelight to write my morning journaling sessions. It isn’t all pumpkins and pleasure though.

Autumn can be a very difficult time of year for many. It is the season we are most likely to succumb to those seasonal sniffles and other bugs. It is also a time of year when many people have anniversaries, some happy and joyful, others less so.  

Autumn is certainly a mixed bag.

When I think of Autumn I immediately smile. I think of pumpkin picking with my children, of hot chocolate while snuggling under blankets watching Hocus Pocus or Harry Potter. I think of the joy on my daughter’s face when she was little when Strictly Come Dancing started again. We called it “Pretty Ladies” for years, because she couldn’t remember what it was called. My husband worked as a commentator and videographer for the football when she was very little so Saturdays were almost always Mum and daughter time. I would buy snacks and we would cuddle up on the sofa ready to watch the dancing. It was a big treat because it was after her bedtime really, but she loved it, and I loved those special times. 

 

New autumn traditions

This year for the first time, I have had to create new traditions. Strictly started the year she was born and she has always been with me while I watch it. My daughter is away at University and isn’t even able to watch Strictly, this year. I sit watching it with my husband, and remenisce about those times when she was younger. As I do I realise just how many things are going to be different from now on. So many things she won’t be here for and before I know it it will just be the two of us at home, thank goodness we have a five year age gap between the children, but even that will no doubt fly by.

Dancing

Life moves on, things change. People come in and out of our lives. This year, was the 15th Anniversary of my pituitary surgery too, and that has brought up a lot of emotions. It is also the anniversary of my Gran, my Grandad Joe’s and my husband’s Grandad Beddow’s passing at this time of year, and both his Nan and my Grandma Mary would have had birthdays in November. So there are many thoughts of our loved ones who are no longer with us as the weather gets colder and the nights draw in. This year, that was emphasised by us losing my husband’s Auntie Wendy. Wendy was a very special lady, and as she was mum to my college friend, Helena,  I knew her well, many years before I even met my husband or his family. You see Ian and I met at Helena’s wedding, so I had known Wendy and her little family for 6 years before I met my husband. She was one of the kindest, most welcoming people I have ever met, she truly had a heart of gold and she will be missed by everyone who knew her. 

I love that we are able to save up so many memories to reflect on during our quieter times at this time of year. Whether it is watching a familiar film or TV programme, looking through old photos or meeting with loved ones, we store up our memories like the animals hoard food for over the cold months. These remembrances get us through the darker days like the squirrel’s nuts get it through the cold, hungry days of winter. 

TEDx Peterborough

Autumn achievements

There have of course been other new memories, this autumn, such as me doing my first TEDx Talk. I will definitely never forget that. The worry that I wouldn’t get my voice back in time will stay with me for a long time. I am so relieved that I managed to get through it, and I learned so many lessons along the way too. I learned to release so much that week, just like the trees are releasing their leaves at this time of year.

All in all, autumn can be a bit of a rollercoaster, not just for me, but for many people. It is a time of reflection, of introspection. A time for self care and nourishing our physical and emotional needs. I know I am grateful for the darker evenings and a feeling that it is more acceptable to huddle inside with our loved ones and not be quite so sociable. I find this time of year nourishing.

Some days are incredibly productive and I haul up in my office and immerse myself in my writing, or clean out a cupboard. Other days, I just want to sit with a book or watch a film and cocoon myself. That’s ok too. Just as the Autumn Equinox has equal length day and night, life is about balance.

With a little self care and a focus on the turning of the year, appreciating that this is how we are meant to behave, we get through to the lighter days when I have to put my boots and chunky jumpers back into storage, and enjoy the return of the leaves on the trees and the green is so bright it fills our hearts with joy. 

One thing I know for sure, is that as much as I love autumn, I am so grateful that I live in a part of the world where we have seasons and I can embrace each and the lessons it has to teach me.

Can gratitude really change your life?

Gratitude

Gratitude has become a bit of a buzz word over recent years.

We hear all the time how important it is to have an “attitude of gratitude” in order to live a fullfiling and happy life. But how true is that? Is there any science behind it?

Well, I would argue that it is true, and yes there is science to back it up for anyone who thinks this concept is a little too out there for them. 

What is gratitude?

Well, put simply, it is just being thankful for what you have, being grateful for your life and everything and everyone in it.

It’s so easy to drift through life and stop noticing all the things that are really wonderful in your life. We are all guilty of it. We take things, places and people for granted and just expect them to always be there. When we practice gratitude we make an effort to notice and to write down all those things we are thankful for, but also to let those people know that we are grateful for them, that we appreciate them. 

 How can you practice gratitude?

Well, there are lots of ways to practice gratitude. My favourite is to have a gratitude journal. I keep mine by my bed. Every night you write down all the things you are grateful for. Some people suggest you write three things, but I think most days that is too easy and doesn’t exercise your gratitude muscle enough, I would say to aim for between 5 and 15 a day. The more you write down everything you are grateful for, the more reasons you will find to be grateful. 

Of course you don’t need to write it down, you can just think it or say it to yourself. I find that writing it down helps to keep me accountable though because I can see if I missed a day or two. 

Some people prefer to use a jar and every time something wonderful happens to them they write it on a slip of paper and pop it in the jar, then take things out to read either when they need a lift, or at the end of the year.

Something as simple as saying thank you to someone, maybe sending them a little card, is all part of practicing gratitude though.

journal

What’s the science though?

Well, the sience is pretty conclusive actually. You see we know now that our brains are constantly forming new pathways and changing how we go about things based on our habits and routines. 

Evolution taught us to pay more attention to dangerous and scary things, because we needed to survive. As a result, we tend to notice and remember all the bad things that happen much more easily than we do the good things. It makes sense. Those of us who survived to tell the tale were the ones that remembered that if you ate that berry you died, or that you mustn’t get too close to bears. However, now most of the things that cause us stress are far less life threatening.

gratitude

When we have a job interview, or we’re worrying about how we’re going to pay the bills going into fight or flight mode and committing that feeling to memory isn’t going to keep us safe. It is going to keep us trapped in fear and negativity. 

When we begin to make an effort to focus on the positives in life though our brain begins to reprogramme itself. We begin to notice more of the positive and magical things in life and everything feels happier.

 

Something as simple as writing down 5-10 things that you are grateful for every day could actually begin to make you feel happier and more satisfied with your life. Don’t get me wrong, I know that times are hard for many people at the moment. Harder than I can remember in my life time. So many people are worried about the cost of living and whether they can afford to put the heating on this winter. I’m not suggesting for a minute that writing down the things you are grateful for will make all those issues disappear completely. But if for example, you are reading this, then you have a phone or other smart device which allows you to read it. If you are worrying about heating your home, then you have a roof over your head. I know it isn’t always easy, but trying to see the bright side, may not remove the issues, but it may make them feel more manageable and when you are feeling more positive, you are better able to find solutions because you begin to relax. 

Do you have a gratitude practice? Do you believe gratitude is helpful for supporting your mental health? 

 

Winter Writing Calendar

Mindful Journaling Advent ebook

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 mindful journaling advent ebook?

Every day you will get a writing prompt to help you explore many different aspects of this festive time of year. You will also have a poem, seasonal passage 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 to brighten up every day of advent get your copy now.

The Power of Spelling

Spelling

When we think of spells, most of us think of witches

Ugly, stooped women, stirring cauldrons while cackling and chanting while adding eye of newt and trying to cast a spell on someone. Perhaps to change them to a toad? Perhaps to make something happen that they desire. Well, apart from the fact that eye of newt is just another name for mustard seed, and the fact that witches were just women, and men, who understood the healing power of plants and nature generally. Women who had a knowledge of what we now call energy healing and ancient remedies. Women who would be called on to support other women who were struggling to get pregnant, were pregnant, giving birth or new mums. They were crucial in communities but as with all healers and medical practitioners, there were limits to their abilities to save lives and heal others. 

What they did understand and have an amazing grasp of though, was something we are only just fully understanding in the modern world, and that is the power of words. How we can use words to improve our health, our mental state and change our lives and circumstances for the better. What we now call spells, were in fact affirmations and a form of intention setting. In reality, we all use spells every single day. We use our words and our words have the power to change lives. When we use words to focus our energy and to clarify our intention we can make great change happen. By now most people are familiar with The Secret, the bestseller by Rhonda Byrne. The whole concept of this principle is around setting your intention that something happens or is created, and either using affirmation or vision boards you set your focus and keep working towards that objective until it is manifest in your life. 

Spells are magical

Spells work in the same way. Witches would create a spell jar or create a recipe, and set the intention that that combination of herbs and ingredients would heal whatever ailed the person they were working with. It may be a physical illness or something more mental and emotional such as confidence or heartache. Whatever they were working towards together, the witch would set that intention and use words to clarify that and focus their minds on what they were trying to achieve. 

Spelling

Now, we use affirmations, journaling and therapy as a way of using words to heal and manifest. As a journal therapist I know the power of writing things down, both to discover things about ourselves and our lives that we may not be consciously aware of, but also for setting goals and intentions.

Speak and Spell

We know that the words we use can be transformational. As a teacher I was very aware that if I shouted “Walk” I got a better response than shouting “Don’t run!”. Children find it easier to process affirmative statements which tell them what we want them to do not what we don’t want. We also know the importance psychologically of correcting the behaviour a child is demonstrating rather then criticising the child. We don’t call a child naughty, we explain that their behaviour isn’t acceptable and then explain why. When we label a child as naughty, lazy, bossy… we plant a seed in their heads that grows and it is hard for them to break free of that label then, even in adulthood.

It is so important to use the right language when we talk, not only to others, but to ourselves. How often do you find yourself saying things like; oh I can’t do that, I can’t afford to, gosh I look so fat… the list goes on and on. We would never talk to someone else like that, but most of us are so self critical it is painful. If we heard someone talking to a child the way we talk to ourselves we would be appalled.

Let’s start choosing our words more carefully, ensuring that we are saying exactly what we mean, words really do have power and we must remember that. 

Today I encourage you to speak to yourself and others with kindness. I implore you to choose your words carefully. I correct myself regularly when I say things like “I hope I will be able to do it”, remove that doubt; “I will be able to do it”. The more we become aware of our language and the more we understand about the power of words, the more magical our lives become. Why not grab a journal and write for a few minutes something you want to make happen, start using affirmations, and watch things change for yourself and others in your life. 

Find out more about spelling and affirmations:

Affirmations video

Spelling out the history of spell

The Power of Words

 

Journaling to preserve memories

Journaling to preserve memories

“My memories are inside me – they’re not things or a place – I can take them anywhere.”

Olivia Newton-John

Memories are arguably our most prized possessions. They are ours and ours alone. They are uniquely portably and precious. Nothing is more special than the memory of our grandparents, the first time we saw our beloved, or the moment our children were born. We all have precious memories and they are only ours, noone can share them. They may have been at the same event but each person has a unique perspective and recollection of it. 

One of my favourite ways of preserving memories is through my journaling. I journal in many different ways, but often, especially if something significant has happened, I write about my experiences and emotions. This isn’t a diary. It is more than that. It is a record of my feelings and experiences throughout time. I write about where I have been and who with, but how I feel about it and any thoughts that resulted. It is a record of my state of mind. A way for me to process my emotions and also a record of my life.

Memory keeping

This weekend I went to visit my daughter who has just started university in York and I have documented this special weekend in two ways; journal entries and photos. These are my go to memory recording strategies. They are deep rooted too. My Dad is the ultimate recorder of memories. He has written a diary every day for over 40 years. As a result the majority of my life can be recalled in the finest detail with the turn of a page. This is such a valuable gift, especially as someone who is currently writing a memoir!

York

Dad’s diary is very different in form to my journal but serves an equally valid purpose as a memory recorder (arguably more so because he documents every place he visits, world wide events, the weather and even what he has eaten). This level of documentation takes serious dedication.

A wonderful example

He has also always been a meticulous photographer. He takes photos of every event and life change. As a child I found this annoying because every time I did anything there was a camera to record it. As a teenager and young adult, it worried me because I was concerned he may be missing out on experiencing the events because he saw everything through a camera lense. As an adult and parent, I now understand completely. I am not as efficient as my Dad, but I do make sure I record my life. It is important to me to have memory jogs to help me remember important events. I have seen too many people lose their memories due to dementia to not do everything in my power to record the moments that bring me joy so I can look back and be reminded should I ever need that memory reminder.

journaling

As a result I journal almost every day. Writing without any thought about everything that is in my head. Usually this includes key events and people I have had interactions with, but also anything that is on my mind, any worries I have and any emotions stirred by recent events. It is a wonderful way to work through challenges you are experiencing or any worries you have as well as documenting key moments of your life for future reference. So this morning I am still thinking about the magical weekend I have had. 

Not only did I get to see my daughter after a month apart, I also saw my parents and my sister and her family. I also spent an afternoon with my daughter’s friend, who is quickly becoming another child of mine, which is magical. I love spending time in York because I studied at the same university my daughter is attending so I have many wonderful memories of my time there. These are all stirred when I visit too. So this morning my journaling was about my emotions around seeing my daughter and family. The wonderful bookshops and shopping streets, delicious food, stunning architecture, all these elements are woven carefully together with reflections on my own time at University and the life long friends I made there. Interestingly, my time at university was when I started writing a daily journal. There have been times I let the habit slip but I still have those first writings to remind me of all my feelings and adventures as a trainee teacher in the 1990s.

It may not be as precise an art as my Dad’s diary writing, but it helps me to work through my emotions, process the events of my life, and also keep a record of what I did when.

I cannot recommend starting a journal habit enough. It honestly has changed my life in the years I have been writing every day. I feel calmer, I regularly have revelations about how I am feeling or actions I need to take while I write my daily pages. Just the act of writing something down means you have a greater chance of remembering it, so you will be boosting your memory while recording your memories. Grab a notebook and get writing, you might be surprised at what appears on the page and even if you just write down everything you have done that day and how you feel about it, what a wonderful way of preserving your memories.

Are the clues to your passions found in your childhood?

Are the clues to your passions found in your childhood?

Our childhood passions are often the most intense of our lives. You only need to think of a child who is obsessed with dinosaurs, superheroes or Harry Potter and the know everything there is to know. Their every thought seems to be consumed with their passion and nothing stops them in persuit of more knowledge and experiences to feed that passion.

As adults our passions tend to become more diluted. Our time is taken up with other “more important” things and we often forget our passions altogether. 

 

What if we took a moment to revisit our childhood passions and see if they still light us up though?

Perhaps colouring is still something you would enjoy. Maybe all those hours you spent making perfume out of rose petals were a clue about what career you should be pursuing.  One of my passions is encouraging people to follow their passions and live the life of their dreams and I have realised over the years just how many clues there have been showing me my dream career and I didn’t always choose to listen, do we ever?

As a small child I loved book. I began writing my own books on my Mum’s typewriter. I loved kneeling up at the coffee table and typing out my little imaginings. It made me feel so grown up and like I was a real writer. I loved trips to the local library, in my home village of Gildersome. It was nothing fancy, but the smell of the books and the shelves and shelves of possibility filled me with excitement. I slowly worked my way through Dorrie the Little Witch, onto The Chronicles of Narnia and the Dr Dolittle series and finally reading The Lord of the Rings books, with many other books along the way. I loved to read, but it was more than that. I loved being surrounded by books.  I loved my trips to the library so much that I even created my own little library. I put cards in pockets inside all my comics and let the children on my street borrow them. 

Kate Reading
Kate the Girl Guide

Be prepared!

I was a Girl Guide and one of the badges I had to achieve in order to get my Baden Powell Award, was my Service Flash (the longest badge on my shoulder). This badge required you do 40 hours of community service, which had to be documented. I went down to my local library and asked whether it would be possible to do my Service Flash with them. They agreed and so began one of the best times of my life. 

Every Monday night after tea I walked down to the library and spent two hours putting books back on the shelves, learning about the Dewey decimal system, re-covering the books to protect the covers and… the best bit of all… stamping the books people took out and sorting out the library cards and filing them in the right place in the racks and racks of cards.

I was in book heaven!

Gildersome Library

In addition to that, I borrowed books every week while I was there so I was reading even more than usual. It was such a great time. I was 13 years old and surrounded almost exclusively by pensioners but I was also surrounded by books.

Words have been a theme throughout my life, whether reading, writing, speaking or singing I have always had a deep interest in words and their many and varied uses. Their ability to heal and upset. The way they can bring people together in song or exclude people. I have written blogs, lesson plans, diaries, poems, contributed to books, I even wrote for the local newspaper when I was at school, having theatre reviews published. Despite all this, it took me many, many years to realise that this is what makes me truly happy. 

I have always tried hard to do jobs that make me truly happy and everything I have ever done I have enjoyed. The work I am doing now though goes deeper than that. I am in my element. I look at my life and realise that every job I have ever done has been a stepping stone. It has given me skills I needed, and I enjoyed every step. But supporting people using the power of words is a deep, calling that I never dreamed could be a reality. 

Kate Writing

Of course, when I was writing stories in the caravan all those years ago, the work I am blessed to do now didn’t exist. There was no such thing as a coach, apart from in a sporting context or as a mode of transport you used to go on school trips! The idea of using writing to help people live their best lives would have been unheard of. 

Had I not gone through all the self discovery that was required when I completed my Life Purpose Coaching course during the pandemic. I did the course to pass the time I never thought it would lead me to some deep self discovery. At that point I was convinced that my work with schools was my passion. After all I was a teacher and in the same way I used to create libraries and write stories, I used to play schools. That was where I was meant to be wasn’t it?

Well, it turned out that wasn’t the case. Suddenly everything in my life started pointing me down a different road. I loved working with schools, but as always with education, there were more and more hoops to jump through and ever increasing pressures on funding meant that my school work slowly dried up a year ago and I was finally free to persue my true passion. 

Sometimes we need a nudge don’t we? Whilever I was busy in schools I would never have left that work behind. Suddenly I had the time to think about really moving in the direction of my dreams. While I’m still not crystal clear about exactly what my long term plans are, I know that writing and coaching will always be a part of who I am and what I contribute to the world. 

I want to invite you to stop and think about the things you really enjoyed as a child. Perhaps you have buried your childhood so deep that you can’t remember any more. If you would like some gentle, nurturing support to help you explore this subject I would love to hold your hand as you walk the path towards your passions and living a life of fulfillment and joy. 

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