2018 is all about sovereignty: about knowing what is best for you (and me) and acting on it with confidence. Unapologetically. Who else's in?
Spiders perhaps? (And just in case you were wondering, this one was yellow, black and red, and was the size of my outstretched hand). What feeling does this picture bring up in you? Awe at the beauty of nature? Or FEAR?
I used to have a phobia against spiders. I remember vividly - still now - waking up screaming aged about 5 having dreamt that a huge one was ontop of my face.
And yet, now, the phobia seems to have gone. Disappeared. Cured!
That doesn't mean I would want this particular spider to live just next to my bed, but it does mean that I didn't mind it having its nest just by my scooter in Bali (during our travel adventure earlier this year). It also meant that I have tolerated quite a big spider dangling just above my desk for the past couple of months.
Which got me thinking - do our fears disappear or at least lessen with exposure to them? Or do they just get replaced with worse ones which put them into perspective? (My phobia of cockroaches has reached an all time high as a result of multiple exposure during the same travel experience. Thank the Lord they are rare in England)
I have been exploring this topic with the new year coming up and in particular, since I was prompted to write down a fear list and to go through it, one by one.
Do you know what my first entry was? Eating alone at a table in a restaurant/cafe/bar.
Which I totally realise is weird. Because it is so common. And normal. But I've never, ever done it. Not even breakfast in a hotel. I always have it sent to my room.
Why? I’m not sure. I need to journal on it. Something to do with feeling self-consciousness. Something about occupying an empty space. A fear of being approached. Intense vulnerability. A feeling of dangerous exposure.
Most odd. But I’m going to work through it and whatever it means for me. 2018 is the year.
Who’s up for the challenge? Which fear can you work through next year? Share below so that we can hold each other accountable!
Are you fulfilling your greatest potential, mama? Are you getting paid to do what you love whilst parenting in a calm and positive way? Are you feeling happy and fulfilled both at work and at home? Because you deserve to! Book a complimentary discovery session with me on skype (no strings attached) and we can explore taking concrete steps towards creating a life in which you feel motivated and in control once more!
Part of being a (recovering) perfectionist is a fear of getting things wrong.
Big things (like diving head-first off the tallest board in the pool), but also seemingly little things (like eating alone in a restaurant or inventing a story on the spot).⠀ ⠀
Embarrassingly, this last example has paralysed me into inaction for the past 6 years. Ever since my eldest child was old enough to ask for a story that wasn’t in a book, that is. ⠀ ⠀
I get the attraction - we all enjoy a bit of bespoke, it makes us feel special - the problem is, improvisation requires confidence in a logical (and well-received) outcome, as well as spontaneous trust in your own creative abilities. And there are no second chances nor opportunities to revise, hone or improve output - essential pre-requisites for any self-respecting perfectionist. ⠀ ⠀
So usually when asked to improvise, I call in the support team. Even when it’s an audience of one, aged 6. How bad could it really be? I’m too scared to find out. “That’s what daddy does, let’s ask him. Mummy reads books”, I say sheepishly. ⠀
But last week something stopped me. I said yes. Feel the fear and do it anyway and all that. ⠀ ⠀
And, though I say it myself, I rocked! I surprised myself and delighted my daughter. ⠀ ⠀
Probably just as much because I had made the effort to overcome a secret block that she probably already knew I was avoiding (kids know everything) than because of the content itself. I even went for a trilogy (I was on a roll). ⠀ ⠀
We encountered a small self-confidence hiccup yesterday when creative proceedings were halted by the audience who asked for more “ excitement” in the story: the fear crept back in, the throat went dry, the shoulders hunched. ⠀ ⠀
But I wasn’t deterred. I took it like a true BoboMama and got back on the wagon. The story ended on a cliff-hanger and I think this little fear may just have been crossed off the list...⠀ ⠀
To all the recovering perfectionists out there, what really scares you? And could you conceive of pushing yourself past it? Just for a laugh? To see what would happen? If I can do it, YOU CAN. I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
⠀Are you fulfilling your greatest potential, mama? Are you getting paid to do what you love whilst parenting in a calm and positive way? Are you feeling happy and fulfilled both at work and at home? Because you deserve to! Book a complimentary discovery session with me on skype and we can explore taking concrete steps towards creating a life in which you feel motivated and in control once more!
I used not to be very good at celebrating my successes. I’d take for granted all the hard work that had gone into achieving something and move right onto the next potential goal. I got a kick from the constant forwards momentum, not really knowing what to do with the downtime in between. So I made sure there was no downtime. I went from one thing to another, ticking them off the list, not really stopping for breath and definitely not stopping to acknowledge the journey.
Until recently. When I decided to change things.
Because effort is great and all that. But so is surrender. BOTH are required to reach a state of 'grace'. And all work and no play doesn’t leave much room for joy. And I kind of want more joy in my life; more fun, more laughter. Don’t you?
So yesterday was the perfect opportunity to take some time out to enjoy a rare tootle on my own trumpet: I celebrated becoming a QUALIFIED LIFE COACH
6 months of hard work and commitment (3 of them whilst travelling), 14 modules packed full of learnings and gruelling assignments, 14 live training calls with our incredible BYCA teachers and expert coaches, 3 months of being life coached through my own personal goals and 4 months of supporting 4 awesome, pro-bono clients, each through their own six-week coaching series.
I celebrated the fact that back in January this year - whilst living in Bali - I chose to follow my heart by signing up to my amazing course. My intuition had been nudging me towards a career that supports others to become their best, most fulfilled selves for a while, but it took the prospect of all three of the kids going to school, and looming 'empty nest' syndrome to push me over the line into action.
I had a (far-fetched) dream...I took concrete steps towards making it happen...And yesterday, I graduated.
The result? My soul purpose and my career are in alignment. I am walking my talk. I am embodying RADICAL AUTHENTICITY.
Since yesterday was also Samhain - the ancient festival that celebrates the end (and beginning) of the Celtic New Year, a time during which the veil between our world and the next becomes its most transparent, I decided to pick a tarot card as a symbol for my vision for next year.
And I got the six of wands, symbolising "success, achievement and public recognition". Even the tarot was celebrating with me!
More poignantly however, the card has an even deeper meaning: it is about having faith in what you have achieved, about not letting fear or guilt get in the way of your success, about feeling proud of yourself and feeling worthy of others' attention.
It is about BELIEVING IN YOURSELF.
And this got me thinking about both how easy but also how hard this is to do. For how often do you hold your head up high and feel worthy of other people's attention? How often do you have faith in yourself and how your achievements will be seen by others? How often does fear or guilt stand in the way of your success?
It takes guts. And commitment. And courage.
Which is exactly what I'm going to practise.
Because like most things that don't come easily, they require exercising, just like a muscle. The more you practise courage, the more natural it seems.
Habits break habits.
Are you fulfilling your greatest potential, mama? Are you getting paid to do what you love whilst parenting in a calm and positive way? Are you feeling happy and fulfilled both at work and at home? Because you deserve to! Book a complimentary discovery session with me on skype and we can explore taking concrete steps towards creating a life in which you feel motivated and in control once more!
Best thing about India: prescription medicines (without a prescription) for just a couple of pence! Best thing about Goa: endless beaches and warm sea New favourite treat: chick-pea flour, honey & cardamon balls What I am loving: open-air yoga surrounded by nature What I am over: power cuts and any form of dal What I am missing: friendship
3 SMALL KIDS, 2 CRAZY ADULTS, 1 YEAR TO TRAVEL THE WORLD
POST 15: 7th May 2017, Goa, India.
In my 20s, just before I went to India for the first time, I was told by an old-hand that it was impossible to visit without being changed in some way. (Or kissed by a prince). They were right on both accounts. India - the chaos, the colour, the noise and its people - activated what was lying dormant inside. (The kiss was a bonus). A friend posited more recently that India works you. It massages and manipulates your soul so that you emerge the other end a more spiritually-condensed version of yourself. I think this is also true. Indeed, it's probably why I feel uncomfortable.
Our first three weeks in southern India were jam-packed with incredible sights, novel experiences, exotic tastes and warm people. And despite being tourists, we felt very much at home. But oddly, the opposite now seems to be the case: we are no longer tourists but don't feel any more settled. In fact, I feel quite isolated. Firstly, because Goans seem a lot more guarded than other southern Indians - no spontaneous smiles here - and secondly, because despite living amongst a welcoming but close-knit group of expats - they refer to South Goa as a village - we are naturally (as six-week drop-ins), viewed as being on the outside. And I am jealous. I want to be on the inside! After 8 months on the road with no social network apart from my own family, I am starting to crave the nurturing that friendships provide.
Photo caption: just a few of our local beaches
Feeling ill at ease is also a result of the draining emotional transition I am forced to make every time we settle in one place. Because 'exploring' and 'living' require two very different kinds of psyche: during the former, I inevitably put up an invisible barrier between my little inner circle and the rest of the world. As the responsible adult, I create a sort of a safety bubble which allows us to be open but not too open, to relax but not to let go completely. We become totally self-sufficient emotionally: we must be our own entertainment and support system. Which isn't easy. So I am proud of how, when travelling, I seem to take hardships in my stride. In fact, I even try my best to make every new place we stay in feel cosy, neat, familiar and safe, even if it's for just one night. Low points endured heroically include cracked sinks held together (badly) with masking tape; holes in walls; cockroaches, ants and scorpions in our rooms; monkeys and snakes outside them; nowhere to unpack or put any of our stuff; interrupted sleep (howling dogs, trains, power cuts and parties); 41 degree heat with no air-con, as well as dirt and dust just about everywhere.
Photo caption: cows are absolutely everywhere (top left); my open-air yoga shala (top right); the kids in front of their new school (bottom left); boho-chic retail (bottom right)
In a way, travelling is easy - you are free to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it. Chores are outsourced (laundry, cooking, cleaning) and there is the constant thrill of being 'entertained'. But the flip side is that this also demands a continually high input of adrenaline, and requires endless planning ahead and sorting out of logistics. This is even more the case if you have three small children under 7 that still need chaperoning in every physical, emotional and mental way possible. So forget any head space of your own: your thoughts, feelings and needs get pushed to the bottom of the pile. They are repressed until further notice. There is no time or room to give them the attention they deserve. And this has repercussions.
Photo caption: Goa is actually much greener than I had imagined. And it's not even rainy season yet!
'Living' somewhere on the other hand, demands a different approach. It may seem like the easier option, when you're jaded and exhausted by being on the road, but it can actually be even more stressful. There are just as many logistics to sort out – where to live? how to school the kids? how to get about? where to find provisions? And the responsibility that comes with each decision is even greater, because the consequences are long-term rather than temporary. When we decide to settle in one place, my tough exterior slowly melts and I suddenly remember that I am actually a princess! I realise that I was only able to put up with the hardships because there was the prospect of comfort in sight and now I absolutely must be surrounded by a degree of beauty in order to feel calm, happy and secure. Plus those emotional needs I shelved earlier finally come up to the surface for air. It can feel like a lot to deal with all at once.
This trip, we have explored three countries (Myanmar, Laos and India) and lived in four (Greece, Thailand, Bali and India) and each time, the transition from one to the other has left me feeling frustrated, anxious and confused. Frustrated because I naively expect some kind of respite as soon as we stop moving (which always takes longer than I would like), anxiety over whether we chose the right place to stay (what if we got it wrong? should we find elsewhere? how long do we give this place before deciding?) and then confusion because I am forced to sit - powerless - in the unknown. (Which, as an organising, controlling, perfectionist Virgo, is tough).
Photo caption: Goan architecture (top and bottom left); our temple house (bottom right)
Being abroad is a bit like being inside a snow globe: when you are on the road, the snow gets all stirred up and when you stop in one place, it takes time for it to settle. And the most important thing I need to remember, is that until it does, it is as though I am wearing blinkers. It is impossible to see properly nor appreciate what is unique and special in the new.
The problem is, I did forget this fourth time round and was temporarily blinded when we arrived by what Goa was not: unlike Thailand and Bali's relatively good-value luxury villas, rental stock here is limited and basic; private transport for hire is non-existent, shabby or unreliable (cars are decrepid and the tyre on our first scooter burst whilst driving to the garage to fix a puncture on our second) and supermarkets are grotty and basic. It has taken a while to get used to this.
Photo caption: Saturday is market day when the streets are flooded with lots of fresh fish and fruit and veg (top); the school-run doesn't get much better than this (bottom)
But now that we have been here for 3 weeks, I am finally beginning to see the beauty inherent in this particular corner of the world: the school the children are in is small, friendly and welcoming; the beaches nearby are deserted, clean and the water is warm; I have re-instated my regular yoga practise and once again, I have time to myself to meditate and process things. Hurrah!
Unfortunately however, there is one thing that the adjustment period won't change. We arrived in off-season. Which is something I was aware of but seriously underestimated. I thought it meant low season - less tourists, a bit of daily rain and cheaper prices. I was wrong. Actually, it means that everyone leaves (locals and expats) and that everything closes. The school is dwindling in size by the day; most of the beach restaurants and cafes have already shut; yoga classes are winding up and local stores are disappearing alongside the diminishing tourist dollar. Then there is the weather: May is the hottest and most humid month of the year (oops) and June brings monsoon. Not just a daily rainstorm that clears the air but a torrential onslaught that tears down all impermanent structures and makes your clothes to go mouldy. Because this is India after all. And everything is extreme here.
Photo caption: drying chillies (top left); our local beach shack restaurant (top right): turtle hatchery (bottom left); colourful Goan houses (bottom right)
So, whilst we originally thought we would stay until the first week of July, we have decided to move on earlier. Which is fine. Because even though I can now see the attractions of Goa and I appreciate its own, special charm, I don't think it truly resonates with me. Probably because it is too much like me.
Whereas Ubud is supposed to be governed by feminine shakti energy, which felt nurturing, supportive and loving, Goa is supposed to be ruled by masculine shiva consciousness which is about activating the feminine energy - giving it direction, form and content - and about getting things done. And I don't need any more pushing. I am just learning to allow. My still dominant masculine energy wants to receive and surrender, to be softened and not tamed. So my friend was right: India does work you, just not in the way I need right now...
To see where we are on a map, click here!
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