Mindset Blog

I am a health and life coach. I work with people who have lost their mojo for life and want to access their innate creativity. The mindset blog is a space to reconnect with your inner world.

'The Dance Of My Life {re-writing my story}

I spent a wonderful weekend at RAW FEST 2018 during which I gave two talks - one on the connection between a plant-based diet and out innate creativity (a topic I am so passionate about and is the focus on my forthcoming book) and secondly on 'sugar-free satisfaction' which is actually where this blog started off back in 2011!

It was a wonderful uplifting festival filled with woodland walks, vegan food, yoga, meditation, inspiring talks, sound baths, spiritual music, campfires and chanting... made all the more special as I was able to share the experience with my boyfriend.

On the last day it rained all day and I made a very fetching 'bin bag ball gown' to keep myself dry which worked a treat ;-)

bin bag.jpg

For me one of the main highlights and moments of growth, was the creative writing workshop with HART FLOE POET set in a circle on the woodland floor.

In the lead up to this piece, Hart Floe asked us to visualise our perfect life, thinking ahead to a time when we had achieved what we had set out to – what would that life look like? What would we be thinking, feeling, touching, tasting, hearing... Initially, as I began to write tears welled up in my eyes.

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I could only picture myself alone, that has always been the way in these kinds of exercises when I visualise my future.

But I don’t want to be alone, and it overwhelmed me in that moment. I put my pen down and closed my eyes with the intention to quietly meditate on my breathe for the next few minutes until the exercise was over.

My boyfriend sitting by myself side noticed my tears. I felt silly in admitting to him the truth but he reminded me this was my chance to rewrite that story. I knew he was right. Hesitantly, I picked up my pen and with just a minute or so left of the exercise this is what poured onto the page. It felt so good.

I wonder, where in your life might you benefit from rewriting the story that plays out time and time again in your mind?


The Dance Of My Life...

There is a warmth in my heart and a flame in my soul. 

The stories and photos of those that I've helped lay bound in books by my bedside. 

Precious. 

Laughter fills the hallway and I smile, imagining the antics happening as I prepare lunch to share on brightly coloured plates. 

The large doors open onto the veranda and the breeze ruffles my hair. 
I look to the horizon, the azure sky and valleys beyond. 

Filling my lungs with the still quiet moments before the chaos ensues. 
Beautiful chaos, love and laughter. 

The stillness and the chaos create a beautiful symphony. 

The dance of my life.

 ...the orginial writing

...the orginial writing


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How you do one thing is how you do everything...

A week or two ago a created a unique new package... something I didn't initially talk about on here directly because it relates heavily to my design work, but actually now as I reflect upon it more I realise how much it has to do with my coaching work - it's all about connection!

The new package I have just launched is 'The Visibility Package' 

(as showcased on my design website)

In my work as a health and mindset coach, I meet so many inspiring 'wellness-focused' people who have an incredible passion and a powerful mission that I know could help so many... yet their voice and online presence is struggling to be seen and heard above the noise.  Finding ways of powerfully sharing their message, the feels in alignment with who they are, is crucial! (I know from experience!)

the visibility package coaching design blogging

I was talking to a friend about the package yesterday, getting quite animated and excited as I talked, when from out of nowhere these words came out of my mouth...

"you have to connect with yourself to be able to connect with your client" *

...and there lies the truth, the fundamental principle that I am so passionate about as a coach.

In the wellness industry (or really just as regular people on our own personal journey) there is so much competition. But what really, truly, deeply sets you apart on your journey is your ability to rise above the noise and above the superficial to reach out and really connect with your people, your community, your tribe, your clients (*insert most relevant word for you there) BUT in order to do this, you first need to connect with yourself!

A massive part of The Visibility Package AND as I have begun to realise, my coaching work as a whole, is about digger deeper into your own story - you passion and drive but also the messiness and the struggles too. Really owning that.

Yes I know that might sound deep, and you might be thinking...   "but I just have a regular life, nothing special" ...well, actually no you don't.

I have often heard it said that...

"how you do one thing is how you do everything"

...and there's is your second truthbomb. Having an awareness of your actions, walking your talk and really owning and believing your message to the world speaks volumes. Your people will hear it and feel it. I promise.

So at it's core this is what my work as a coach is about, connecting to your deepest sense of self. I am reading a great book at the moment called 'The Highest Goal' by Michael Ray, and it's very similar to what he talks about.

I was going to leave this post here... with two 'truthbombs' for you to sit with and process, but then I figured i'd add the final section that was part of the note I sent out to my mailing list last night...

So now in the spirit of playfulness and curiosity, I have a game for you. Pick ONE of these three options below:

1) You're NOT interested in The Visibility Package but would love to have a conversation about what a deeper connection with yourself would mean for your life... hit reply and let me know where you are at!

2) You ARE interested in learning more about the package (there are two spots already confirmed, and more conversations booked for next week)... hit reply and let me know asap why you are interested and we'll arrange a time to call/Skype. 

3) You're kind of skimming this post, not really interested in any of it, but these bullet points caught your eye ;-) Then do me (and you) a favour and take a few moments this weekend to have a think about how you are showing up in your world right now, are there some tweaks you could make to bring yourself more into alignment?

So which will it be for you? ;-)

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The journey of Wholeplus... (a birthday reflection)

Facebook reminded me of this picture this morning.

This still gives me tingles every time I see it... I can't believe this is five years ago already.

As I reflect this morning I realise how the journey of Wholeplus is such a powerful reflection of my own personal evolution. So I decided to write it down.

WP launch May2013.jpg

It all began as a tiny spark of an idea off the back of a challenge from a trainer at the gym I go to. I was complaining about the junk filled protein bars that so many people eat after a gym work out intended to better their health. It makes me sad. "Oh right, you try and make something better then" he said, ..."Ok, I will", I responded and I remember feeling surprised by the sense of my inner commitment so deep I knew I would follow through.

And just like that Wholeplus was born.

From the naivety of my curious mind, I had absolutely no idea what lay in store.

I began designing everything from scratch. The branding, the website, the promotional materials, the packaging, the social media growth, the recipes developments ... all my own creation and hours of time experimenting, learning and implementing the technicalities.

It has all evolved so much since.

I originally began with four product lines in three flavours each- the first one being a vegan protein-based product and the second product being tiny cubes (bliss ball style). I spent hours and hours pressing mixture into metal trays and cutting up literally thousands of small cubes with a huge double ended knife. (sore hands!)

  November 2013

November 2013

  First packaging of the protein product. May 2013

First packaging of the protein product. May 2013

  First branding (cringe!!)

First branding (cringe!!)

Over the following 18 months I refined my processes and whittled it down to two products lines in a wider range of flavours - the Hotpots and the Toppers. The Hotpots (instant porridge sachets) were the last to be let go at the end of 2016 due to practicalities of production. They were popular and I still hope to bring them back one day when the time is right.

I forged ahead with the Toppers. The creative sweet sprinkle topping.

From 2014-16 I had loads of orders coming through. It was the time when the subscription box model was newborn and the more I was featured, the more other companies found me and wanted to feature me too.

Then, I got a big Wholesale white label order which brought in a consistent income every other month. This was followed by my biggest order to date. 3000 tubs of Toppers shipped to Germany on a pallet. I had no idea what I was doing, seriously winging it and saying yes to life. In the lead up to that delivery, the entire house was taken up with boxes of product lining the hallway almost floor to ceiling. I employed my dad to help me.

Life was in flow...

Then in late 2016 things slowed dramatically, the subscription box model changed and they no longer paid brands for their product but instead pitched it as a 'free marketing opportunity'. That was a massive game changer for me as there was no way it was viable anymore and it was no longer an income source.

Until that point I had done no real networking or marketing off my own back- everyone had come and found me and I was just riding that wave and creating, creating, creating... I didn't know how to do it on my own!

I paid hundreds of pounds for consultations with the best in the food industry. Getting advice from as many sources as I could find, trying my best to network even though I hate small talk and 'businessy' environment. I felt increasingly overwhelmed as it was all so far out of my comfort zone and relied heavily on investment. I had already spent most of my own savings paying thousands of pounds in buying the food processing equipment I needed to get up and running.

In early 2017 I took some time out to reflect.

What did I want from the business? How did I want it to grow? What did it mean to me? How did I want to be involved in it over the long term?

I knew I was passionate about health, about personal empowerment, about inspiring creativity in others... but how could I channel this into a food product?

I came up with a subscription box model of my own. A monthly delivery box that would feature recipe cards, motivational quotes and build a sense of community over time. The concept was beautiful and I put hours into designing the product and testing the process with customers.

 Subscriprion box concept

Subscriprion box concept

But the promotion was hard and laborious. The physical production was now also taking its toll after years all on my own. It drained me and things slowed to a halt before it ever really got started.

For a few months I put it all on the back burner, needing a total break. Then out of the blue an acquaintance asked if I'd be willing to sell the business... my reaction suprised me. 'No, it's my baby, it's my passion, how could I ever sell it!'

That realisation kicked me back into action.

I had no idea how I was going to do it, but somehow I would. But I knew it woudn't be on my own. The Wholeplus philosophy is so much greater than me, it's message needs to be shared with the world, but I cannot do that alone. I needed focus on my skillsets and bring on others to fill in the gaps.

So it re-awakened.

But then there was the packaging dilemma. I was using plastic tubs that I had been unhappy about for a long time. I now had so many boxes of packaging options i'd tried, it was taking over half a room in space. I had been designing and printing all my labels at home on my trusty inkjet to save massive costs and minimum order quantities, but that just wasn't good enough for me any more if I wanted to take this bigger and better...

In January this year I opened up a blank Word document and on it I wrote up a list of 'titles' of people I wanted on board, with me as 'Creative Director'. I kept this in the back of mind in every conversation I had, knowing when the opportunity showed up I would just know.

It happened.

Just yesterday I had a long meeting with the owner of a gym and food business. Someone I have come to know well, someone who complements my skill sets, someone who has the resources for production and investment already set up, and most importantly someone who shares my philosophies.

He proposed moving forward as joint venture, to scale and take things as big as they deserve to be. The idea immediately energised me and I felt a rush of relief, "I'm not alone in this anymore".

We have another meeting to talk details next week. 

On the eve of my 35th birthday, the next chapter in the Wholeplus journey is taking shape.

There are so many times I almost quit. There are times when thing slowed to a bare crawl and it would have been easier to have packed it all up and filed it under a 'learning experience' and channeled my energy elsewhere.

But something still tells me to keep going. Something deep down tells me this will be worth it. Something tells me this has been evolving with me in the just the way it needed to, waiting for it's moment, waiting until the world is ready, waiting until I am ready.

Now I am ready.

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What could you commit to create for 100 days?

I realised recently that I am a bit of a 'commitment-phobe'. Interestingly this didn't used to be the case, but over the last few years as I have been deigning life on my own terms and turning away from comformity and expectation, commitment has subtly become more of a struggle. 

My guess is that in desiring the 'freedom' to create whatever I want in this life, I end up sabotaging my own planning, structure and goals in the process. This is an interesting yet annoying observation for me (but with awareness comes the power to change!), and I can see that it really does not serve me in growing my business.

So that needs to change, and what better way that with a game or challenge, something that has a finite end point (less overwhelming than the idea of infinity!)

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What could you commit to create for 100 days?

For the last couple of years I have watched #the100dayproject from the sidelines... overthinking and procrastinating on what I might do for 100 days. I never took the leap and actually took part.

Fear of commitment? Of failure? Of changing my mind half way through? Of not-good-enoughness... probably all of the above and more (see above!!)

That noise is still there BUT that’s all it is- just noise, the inner voice of fear, the head not the heart.

The way forward is strength of curiosity to simply begin, to celebrate the process, to embrace imperfection along the way, one day at a time...

I signed up to their newsletter and have been receiving updates over the last few weeks, and today as I lie here in the early hours in my hotel room in Vietnam mid way through my trip in a foreign land... I committed. Just like that!

What will I commit to do for 100 days?

I’m going to write an article every day for 100 days! The biggest thing for me will be giving myself permission for it not to be perfect, some articles may well be downright rubbish, or very short... some will never get used, but that doesn’t matter, I just have to consciously write words into the words every day.

So many of my goals this year are centred around writing- a book, articles for a number of magazines I am passionate about, my newsletter and regular blogging.

Thinking, researching and sporadically writing ‘when I feel like it’ is not the answer. It’s time to do the work consistently and find flow.

Who else is intrigued to take part in #the100dayproject? The perfect way to kick off the second quarter of the year!

Please reach out and let me know, I'd love to support you as we embark on this journey together.

Check out the website below for more info, and find all the interviews and inspiration shared so far. Also follow @elleluna and @lindsayjeantomson on Instagram- the founders of this wonderful movement.

WHEN?
Here's the kicker- 'tehnically' the challenge is already a few days in (started April 3rd), but because I was away in Vietnam and have only just been able to get back into my work mode, I'll be kicking off properly tomorrow (Monday 9th). Yes, it might not be ideal, it might not be perfect... BUT it doesn't matter. ;-)

FULL DETAILS HERE: >>> www.the100dayproject.org/ (p.s I am in no way affiliated with this movement, I just love their philosophy)

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Does a plant-based diet increase creativity?

I've been a contributor to The Hectic Vegan Magazine ever since it's launch a year (or two?) ago. There is another issue due out early Spring and I realised I hadn't yet filled you in on the December release!

As per the previous issues, I had a number of recipes featured - these ones were mostly pumpkin focussed ;-)  There was also a special 50% discount on my Not Just For Goldilocks  porridge recipe book!

You can download your digital copy of the magazine (and previous issues) for FREE here! 

But... I am also excited to share another feature that I am so passionate about, that is exploring the link between creativity and a plant-based diet.

It's an absolutely fascinating topic that I am currently delving into more deeply (with a book in mind), a connection that I have experienced deeply in my own life.  This blog was also triggered by a post that caught my eye on the Veganuary Instagram page...

vegan different perspective.jpeg

I have often talked about my philosophy that a plant-based diet goes way beyond the food itself. Once we begin to question one aspect of our lives, our minds open up to explore so much more in terms of how we relate to the world around us.

@@>>>Once we think outside the box, once we shift our perspective, life literally becomes limitless!@@ 

Here is that article, you can click to zoom in (or download the magazine to read it properly!), I love how the designers have illustrated the quotes I gathered from some Facebook research in little speech bubbles (I am a sucker for quirky details!) ;-)

I also see a huge link between the concepts of 'creativity' and 'spirituality' in terms of our connection with our innate sense of self and the bigger picture beyond.. maybe that's a topic for another post, ha ha)

Feel free to chime in with your experiences too - have you noticed an increase in your creativity or spirituality since going plant-based?

I am very keen to hear from those that feel strongly about the subject... and you may well feature in my new book, planning is currently underway and I am aiming to publish it before the summer! Please drop me a note if you'd like to share your thoughts and would be open to having a chat!


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Planning to create a Vision Board?... try this even BETTER alternative!

It's New Year and I am having a day setting goals, creating my new bullet journal and getting myself fully in the mindset to make 2018 a year that matters!

This morning I was sitting on my bed brainstorming when my eyes caught sight of my 'vision strip' by my bedside. I created this last January and it has been growing and evolving with me ever since. I absolutely love it as an inspiration for my goals and dreams and also as an artwork in its own right!

I suddenly had the spontaneous urge to share it as a mini 'how to' with you today! Perfect for New Years dreaming, but of course any time of year.

 This is a photo of my bedroom taken with my iPhone on a really dull day, so the photo quality is not great... please no judging! ;-)

This is a photo of my bedroom taken with my iPhone on a really dull day, so the photo quality is not great... please no judging! ;-)

Ok, so I know it's my personal opinion, but I really do believe this idea IS better than a traditional 'board' and this is why... 

  • Takes up less space- a vertical wall hanging is more space effective on most walls around the home/office than a vision board of traditional proportions. (This was a winner for me in the space I had available)
  • Made from part of a simple roll of plain or patterned wallpaper border (can be FREE if you take advantage of the sample offers in DIY stores (a bit cheeky!) or if you use an offcut you may already have stored away from your decorating adventures!)
  • Paperclips to fasten mean that nothing is permanent and the vision board of inspiration can adapt and evolve as your dreams do through the months and years.
  • You can begin with a little and add as you go, if you use a patterned border (as I have) it still looks great on the wall even if it is not yet very full of inspiration!
  • One simple hanging point- no more curled or dog-eared edges, sticky marks on the walls, awkward fixings, trying to make sure it hangs straight etc.
  • You can choose to arrange ideas/inspirations chronologically going upwards or downwards if you wish.

Convinced? ;-)

Here's how to easily make your own vision strip...

  1. Get yourself a length of wide wallpaper border (approx 6" is ideal), between 2.5-3 meters in length, making sure it is not the sort that has a sticky back.

  2. Decide how long you want it to hang down and then roll the excess into a roll at the top (it will naturally do that anyway), you want to make sure you have a few rolls to that it is sturdy.

  3. Thread a length of yarn (use approx. 1 metre length) through the rolled up section a couple of times which keeps it tightly together, then bring both ends up to the top and tie in a knot at the centre a few inches above (see middle right-hand photo above).

  4. Pin/fasten the knot firmly to the wall or ceiling as appropriate- I used a simple drawing pin into the wall as the ceiling did not hold it so well (gravity and flaky ceiling finish!)

  5. Carefully adjust the hanging length as desired (mine hangs down approx 1.6 meters) and fasten the bottom to the wall with a blob of sticky tack or similar

  6. Fill your Vision Strip with things that inspire your goals and dreams- I use paper clips to attach things but use what works for you.

  7. Keep a row of spare paper clips on the side ready to attach new inspirations. 

Wonderful optional extra...

I found a length of battery powered fairy light mini-lanterns in a pound shop that was the perfect length of my vision strip. This makes it comes alive with beautiful sparkly energy when I'm working or reading in my room at night!

I simply hide the battery pack in the centre of the excess roll at the top (see photo below- though I usually tuck the battery pack further in) and simply let the lights drape down the side!

vision strip 6.jpg
vision strip 7.jpg

Have you ever made a vision board... or do you fancy giving this a go!

I'd love to see your creations, and if you have any 'vision boarding' tips to share please do so!

My biggest love in life is creativity and the space that awakens within us all when we allow ourselves to get in touch with our innate creative energy- we all have it! I encourage you to give this project as go and see how it make you feel!


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2017 close out: my biggest lesson (and my New Year intention!)

I hadn't planned to write a 'year in review' style post, as everyone else in the blogosphere had written them and to be honest I felt a bit overloaded with a case of comparisonitis creeping up on me in the lead up to Christmas.

But, now having had a few more days to sit and quietly reflect, a few truths made themselves know and it was a humbling process of self-acknowledgement that I wanted to share with you in the spirit of authenticity and as offering you a 'permission giving' of sorts. 

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It's 30th December and just over halfway through that 'odd' bit between Christmas and New Year when there is no sense of routine, time or direction. Time seems to stand still. Truth be told (apart from Christmas day) this is my absolute favourite time of year! The world slows down and time is suspended.

Space for reflection, creation, decluttering, reading and absolutely zero sense of expectation or obligation. Bliss!

So, it is pretty much inevitable that my minds bounced between looking back on the year whilst at the same time future focussing on the next.

There was one main truth that hit me. Quite hard at first, but then with a sense of gentle self-forgiveness and understanding. 

My biggest reaslisation this year...

I have been very lonely at times.

Gosh, it feels super vulnerable to admit that. I feel I need to back it up with an explanation, to justify it and make it seem less pathetic. 

The loneliness was a steady creep throughout the year hitting hardest this Autumn though I only realised it retrospectively! (often the way, right?)

When I reflected on how this came to be I realised there were two big contributing factors:

  1. At the end of 2016 I gave myself permission to step away from going to local networking groups and events that I felt I 'should' be doing as a business owner and instead focus on growing my business in other ways. I had noticed I was getting 'people-out' and drained from small talk (I've always hated small talk) so I just stopped going, BUT what I didn't realise was that, as a result, I was then spending a lot more time on my own in my own head where overthinking tends to happen!
  2. For four years I had been having weekly sessions with a Personal Trainer who was also one of my best friends. The sessions were at a regular time and outside. At the end of July he moved away and so suddenly I lost my time spent with a good friend, structured exercise, a weekly anchor point and time outside in nature come rain or shine... massively significant! (although I had not appreciated just how much until very recently)

What have a learned?

That small subtle consistent things can have a massive impact over time- both positive and negative.  

Just like structured consistent training with a PT can steadily increase your strength and fitness, the cumulative effect of not socialising on a structured consistent basis (which is basically what happened) can massively impact your emotional stability.

It was a massive eye-opener for me! The good news is, that now I have recognised what went wrong I can implement changes to address the balance for the coming year.

Instead of a New Year's resolution I set an 'intention' that I seek to grow into over the course of the year. This allows space for play and exploration and for messing up and learning in a way that a resolution doesn't (for me anyway!)

My intention is summarised in a word... a word for the year that has deep meaning for me and a need to explore more.

In 2016 it was 'experiences' (I travelled a lot and thoroughly lived out that intention)

In 2017 it was 'consistency', something I have struggled with. This does not come naturally at all for me- my ADHD brain sabotages feeling pigeonholed and so it is still a work in progress!

In 2018 my word for the year will be: 'Connection'.

Connection within myself and with others. I will seek to deepen the nature of my connections but also my boundaries in order to stay true and authentic to myself. 

I'm excited to explore where this may lead and what 'connection' might look like on my own terms!

There are plenty other things I could say about the year and about my goals for 2018 as I reflected on what had gone well and what not so well. But my most important lesson was our innate need for human connection that I had been depriving myself of without realising and so I won't dilute this significance with other side notes and thoughts.

It makes me smile as I have long been a fan of Brene Brown. I have all five of her books (having received the last two for Christmas) and a big part of her work is the role of connection. Therefore finding her quote “We are hardwired to connect with others, it's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives and without it there is suffering” brought it all full circle for me, and I enter 2018 with a new level of clarity.

Now, I'd love to hear from you, what was your biggest lesson of 2017 and what is your goal or intention to take forward into 2018?  

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When 'taking action' weighs you down... shift your perspective

This afternoon I had a wonderful conversation with a lady who had been a client some years back. 

It had been a while since we’d spoken and much had shifted in both our lives. She opened up about feeling ‘stuck’ and almost ‘numb’, like a rabbit in headlights- not fearful but simply frozen and stuck. 

She didn’t understand why.

We dived in deeper and the notion of needing to ‘take action’ became apparent and this was aligned with a sense of needing to ‘do more’ that was likely creating the stuckness in the first place. 

The fascinated me.

I can relate to the idea of ‘taking action’ being a positive method of creating momentum and flow, YET for me this does not automatically align with ‘doing more’. On the flipside, that taking action can also involve consciously ‘letting go’.

I had a sudden sense that there was huge resistance anchoring her down and the vision of someone trying to drag a heavy weight came to my mind. 

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I shared a story from the times when I entered lots of muddy obstacle course races and often the trials would involve dragging something like massive heavy tractor tyres across bumpy ground, feet slipping in the mud finding it difficult to gain the traction and build momentum to move forward. 

But there is a beauty when we realise we can step back and approach things from another angle. We can create a powerful shift that requires less effort for a better result. 

If you try to move the heavy tyre by pulling on it with your arms alone, your feet slide out from under you and nothing moves. You just end up flat out on the floor, feeling exhausted, going nowhere. 

Yet if you change your direction by 180˚ and instead, from behind push the weight through your arms by using the force of your legs to drive the momentum, everything changes.

It's often the subtle shifts in orientation, mental awareness and strategy that can get us unstuck.

But, maybe there is also another approach...

When you stare down at the heavy weight you're connected to, ask yourself who put it there? 

Did you walk into the arena willingly and attach yourself to it knowingly, with a greater goal and clear sense of purpose, or was it quietly hooked on when you weren’t looking, without your permission or awareness.

Is it something that no longer serves you or maybe never even did?

In any given moment, instead of aimlessly dragging that heavy weight through the mud we can choose to reconnect with our goal, we can choose to ask for help, we can choose to share the load... or we can choose to let go entirely and conserve our energy to move on and embrace our next challenge.

What does 'taking action' mean for you, and are there places where you feel 'stuck' and might need to change your approach to?

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In

Why I'm not a vegan activist... and the approach I take instead.

I saw this picture post shared by the Veganuary team on Facebook earlier today. I went to automatically click the 'share' button, but as my finger hovered over the keyboard I took a moment to reflect on what it meant to me.

I knew there was a deeper story there waiting to be explored.

I cast my mind back in time to 2011 and relived those emotions. These were the words that flowed out of my mind into the text space.

Then I pressed 'share'.  

P.s if you want to read more about my transition to veganism, you'll enjoy this mini story!

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I never try to push veganism on people (if I find myself getting too vocally passionate I consciously tone it down!)

That is not because I am not passionate about a plant-based way of living and minimising harm to the environment around us BUT because I know that before I made the switch back in 2011 my ex-boyfriend tried to force his ethical views upon me and it did not work.

It created so many negative feelings of resistance, frustration, rebellion and denial within me compared with the mindset of curiously learning and feeling inspired to change through observing his actions alone and sharing information when asked.

It shut me down instead of opening me up to possibility and change.

I can still feel that resistance and disconnect inside me now when faced with the black and white 'militant vegan' approach. I fear it overwhelms those who are curious to explore more.

We are all on a journey, none of us are perfect and we've all been there at the very beginning. (No judgment on those activists who follow this more approach, if it works for you great, it just doesn't vibe with me personally).

Still, the seed had been planted and I found my own path to plant-based living, via nutritional education and then found the ethical side crept up on me slowly over time.

That is my hope for Including Cake and my work as a coach, to simply inspire people in their own journey of discovery wherever it may lead. No pressure, no judgement, just a willingness to open your mind beyond the conditioning of society. Questioning why we do the things we do and no longer accepting 'because that's just what I have always done' as a valid answer.

BUT... i'll be totally honest, when someone messages me to tell me they've become a 'week day vegan' or have permanently switched out dairy for plant milks, or are consciously evaluating all their nutritional and lifestyle choices... through being inspired by how I show up in the world, I can't help but feel so full of love, happiness and hope inside!

It's not just about saving the world, it's taking the steps to saving yourself and stepping away from the expectations of society.

We can all make so much more difference than we realise.

It may sound cheesy (pun intended!) but it's true, it really is all I want for Christmas!

Take on the Veganuary challenge and give plant-based living a try for 31 days in January and see what shifts for you. This is the perfect introduction without feeling the overwhelm of 'infinity' and also a supportive playground to get creative and explore alongside so many others feeling the same way. I guarantee you'll discover so much more abut yourself than you would have ever imagined.

I'd love to hear your stories... if you are already vegan what most helped you make that transition. What educational approach worked for you? Or, where are you at in your journey and where would you like to be?

P.s reach out to me if you want some support and let's have an open conversation!

With much love on your journey,

jo sign off.png
 

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Why I made a mountain of falafel... and the 'Small Adjustments Challenge'

I made this huge pile of baked falafel this morning (and I had even more leftover chickpeas!) ...it's ALL for me and there is a good reason for it!

I'll fill you in below and link to the recipe (cos it's awesome) but first I want to give you some context and the birth of an idea.

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A few weeks ago I went on a coaching retreat hosted by the Extraordinary Coach. It was an incredibly powerful and intense experience in which we shared our truths and vulnerability on video camera in front of the whole room (I'll share more on that once my video has been published). As part of that process one of the ladies shared a powerful insight about 'small adjustments' and what impact that could have in her life. It has stuck with me ever since. 

We typically spend so much time focusing on the big goals and life events and in doing so we overlook the significance that small, sometimes tiny shifts can make in our lives, especially when repeated over time. I'll hold my hand up and be the first to admit that I struggle with doing things consistently (oooh look shiny new thing to distract me!) but equally I know the power it holds when I do and so I am committing to finding ways to create more consistency that doesn't overwhelm me and lead to sabotage.

Once I'm overwhelmed I'm done for... can you relate? ;-)

Consistent action can be supported by accountability, particularly in the first few weeks before it becomes a habit. So, whilst out for a walk yesterday I came up with an idea for a 30 day challenge to serve both you and me... I think it's a win-win!

The key thing here (and I believe in life I general) is to have a mindset of curiosity... that is so often the key to overcoming overwhelm. This challenge should be fun, there will be a sense of accountability and opportunities to check in with yourself and me throughout the process.

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So quite simply here it is:

1- Pick a small adjustment that you feel could make a signficant difference to your life. It must be SMALL and only ONE thing!

Notes: I've given a few examples below to get your mind moving and also filled you in on what mine is going to be. You can pick what ever you like purely on the basis that you feel it will have a significant positive impact for you personally. Just pick one thing, I know how easy it can be to get excited at the start and pick multiple things only to find the novelty wears off after a few days and you fall off the wagon and beat yourself up- yep I hear ya, I do it too!  This is a personal challenge with no public declaration or Facebook group (yup, those not on social media can rejoice!) although of course please keep in touch with me via email as we progress. ;-)

2- Commit to making that one 'small adjustment' everyday for 30 days: November 20th - December 20th.

3- Pop your details in the box below to confirm you are up for the challenge so that you get further weekly challenge specific emails from me.

Note: All this does is add a tag in my mailing list to let me know you'd like to receive the extra special emails so that I don't send them to the rest of my community who have chosen not to get involved. If you do not pop your details in the link you won't hear from me about this again. Simple!

4- Send me an email before 20th November to let me know that you are in and what your 'small adjustment' will be.

5- Mark the date in your diary and get ready to kick off on November 20th with a mindset of curiosity to see what unfolds over the 30 days...

Some examples and my commitment...

I have noticed recently that when I snack between meals it is typically on sweeter higher carb things e.g granola, energy balls, fruit etc which triggers my sweet tooth more and I'm more likely to overeat.

One choice could be to cut out snacking altogether but I know that would likely lead me to overwhelm and sabotage and does not feel sustainable for me long term (a vision of long term is not a necessity but something I personally want to feel a possibility), so my 'small adjustment' will be to swap all my snacks throughout the day to healthy savoury options (see, now you'll undertand my pile of falafel! - I'll follow up with more details in a separate blog post shortly.) I can still have sweet things as dessert... just not as snacks!

How about you? Whether you decide to take the challenge or not I'd love to hear what ideas you come up with. This is about a focus on creativity and habit shifting NOT restriction and overwhem. A great approach to life in general!

Some other ideas could be...

  • Drink a big mug of lemon water every morning (you know how much I love this!)
  • Exercise for 10 minute each day ( or even 5 minutes!)
  • Walk or cycle any journey that is less than 10 minutes by foot instead of using the car
  • Wake up 20 minutes early each morning and use that time to read or meditate 
  • Have one less coffee/can of coke per day
  • Swap the biscuits at break time for a healthy snack
  • Have one les sugar in your mug of tea, or swap your regular tea to herbal varieties. 
  • Tell your loved ones that you love them every single day

This list could be virtually limitless, right? So less keep it going...

I'd love to hear your ideas too. Whether you decide to take the challenge or not ping me a reply with any ideas and I'll compile a big list!

P.s Yes I said I'd link to the recipe. I haven't written it up on the blog yet though I will do at some point, but in actual fact I followed this recipe by Mark Bittman pretty much exactly (rare for me as I nearly always change things!) so simple and so so good. Perfect healthy baked falafel which freezes well too... that's what i'll be doing with my mountain! 

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What does your dance look like, and are you still stuck in rehearsal mode? 

I was looking through old photo albums a few weeks ago and found photos of me when I went to dance school in my early years. I was always an active child and though I didn’t dance for as many years as my friends (I quite quickly moved on to other sports- the more physical the better!) I loved performing on the big stage in the costumes my poor mum had to painstakingly hand sew - yep, she also had to make all the poms poms and all the polka dots in this photo of me as a clown aged nine! ;-) 

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Reflecting back to these times, and my hyperactive nature as a child and now as an adult, I realise I spend so much of my life feeling in a mental conflict as though I am 'dancing between the extremes’.

The extremes of my high and lows feel ecstatic, explosive, creative and mind-blowingly awesome, yet equally incredibly overwhelming, draining and confusing on the other extreme. Sometimes I wish I could simply turn the volume right down so that the dance was easier, smoother and slower, more consistent and the moves less intense. But I know that would make for a monotonous dance.

I have so many ideas spinning off at all angles and desires to chase them all, and indeed I do find myself bringing to life so many different ideas and spreading myself so thinly. But then in the same breath, I talk of simplicity and of decluttering and of tiny houses and of desire for a simple life and a clear focus (my Pinterst boards give some idea!)

I have spent time stripping back my belongings and getting rid of ‘stuff’ and material things. But at the same time I am collecting more art and craft materials and filling my kitchen cupboards with an array of interesting foodie ingredients to create recipes with.

I crave speed, the adrenaline kick, the hard-core gym classes and packing lots into my days. But at the same time I dream of solitude, silence, nature and yoga, a life away from the overstimulation of TV and technology.

I go from multi-tasking at every waking moment, then stop completely and want to run away from even the simplest task and sit in silence.

I talk of travelling the world with nothing more than a suitcase, of having no fixed abode and becoming a digital nomad. But then I create businesses that have a location dependence, I collaborate on physical events that are location specific.

I rebel against routine and sabotage any move that might box me in, yet in the same moment, I crave structure to ground me and keep me sane and my mind on track.

So many times I have been in conversation with coaches, colleagues or spiritual leaders voicing my frustration in not being able to reign in these extremes, of my desire for a more even energy flow, less fluctuation and more consistency. 

But when I sit with that energy, that frustration, and feel fully into my resistance I acknowledge with a sense of deep acceptance, that’s just how I roll. That’s my own unique dance… dynamic and spontaneous, filled with high energy and emotion, buffered by dramatic pauses for breath, bouncing between one extreme and the other. 

Life is a dance… you can speed up, you can slow down, you can pause for a breath, you can even repeat a few bars… but it's still all part of the rhythm and flow of that one endless dance and it makes for beautiful choreography.

My job as choreographer of my own dance is to work with the rhythm and not against it. To breathe deeply in the right places to create the intense energy, to stretch my limbs and test my balance and flexibility when the moment is right, to use the pauses to rest and recalibrate, to allow the repetitions for they themselves create a sense of structure, connection and familiarity.

The more I practice the less energy I will waste where it is not needed.

Curtailing and reigning in the highs and lows of my personal dance softens all the edges, it is not selective. It becomes like a rehearsal behind-the-scenes just marking out the moves before being ready to play full out.
 
I still find myself frequently falling back into this mode. But I now know that if I am always practising in rehearsal mode, I will never be able to truly perfect my craft, to grow and develop. Stepping out onto the dance floor, under the spotlights, playing full out, learning, falling and carrying on will always be better than never stepping out from the safety of the wings.

They say life is not a dress rehearsal and as cliched as it may sound, it is so very true. 

I still often wish my dance were smoother and slower, more consistent and the moves less intense. But that would never hold my interest, and it wouldn't hold your either. It’s simply not the nature of my dance and it never will be. I must honour that. If I try to reign myself in, life may feel easier but I will always be stuck in rehearsal mode… never playing full out. Never reaching my full potential.

What does your dance look like, and are you still stuck in rehearsal mode? 

Loving you always,

jo sign off.png
 

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Courage is in the choosing...

A couple of weeks ago I was very privileged to be invited into conversation with a good friend - a wonderful coach and fellow creative Ann Skinner a.k.a. The 'Heartworker'She was leading a 7-day challenge called 'Awaken Your GREATfullness' ahead of the launch of her Heartworkers Academy. I was invited as the very first guest speaker on the theme of courage!

So many things running through my mind when she reached out to invite me, namely the first being; "but I'm not courageous".  I had to sit with that thought for quite a long time, and reflect on what courage meant to me, before admitting that it wasn't true- I have indeed shown a lot of courage. 

If you'd love to watch the whole conversation here it is below, it is a wonderful exploration of what courage means (I join in the conversation around 25 minutes in).

 

 

Upon reflecting on courage what first came to mind is whether there is a difference between courage and bravery. My conclusion is that there was.  Bravery is facing a physical fear where is courage is facing an emotional fear. These are the two extremes and in reality, there are huge overlaps but I feel these are the subtle distinctions.

A moment of courage might be very insignificant to others yet holds huge meeting for us. Courage is a personal recognition and is often present in life's small moments. Whereas bravery is typically something that everyone could recognise- a physical act that we could all relate to being tough to deal with.

I then took to Google to see what there else there was to say. This idea stood out to me:

Courage and bravery are generally considered to be synonyms, yet philosophically, the two nouns differ in meaning. Courage involves the presence of fear, while bravery lacks it. Courage entails a cause, most commonly love, passion, compassion, concern, etc. Bravery maintains its essence even without a cause. Courage is a result of mindfulness; it is one’s decision to fight despite one’s fears. Bravery is an inherent characteristic; it doesn’t involve much thinking and manifests itself as second nature in those who are brave.

I love these distinctions between the physical and emotional fears. There is a much greater emotional risk attached to courage, which is why it feels easier to be courageous on behalf of others instead of ourselves.

There is also an intrinsic link between vulnerability and courage, indeed one of my favourite quotes from Brene Brown, a wonderful pioneer in the realms of vulnerability, is: 

You can't get courage without walking through vulnerability - Brene Brown

I have long found the studies around vulnerability fascinating, having written about it before. For me, showing vulnerability has become quite familiar, a daily practice. As such, to an extent it has become part of my comfort zone and the vulnerability around sharing those parts of me has subsided.

In my conversation with Ann, we discussed that initially when we do difficult things we feel the fear, yet after we have done it, it becomes the new norm and therefore we don't even think we have courage. We forget that we are courageous. Looking back and recognising that we have shown courage throughout our lives helps us to reclaim it as we go forwards.

One thing I have become very aware of in recent times, is that when someone else sees something in me, I don’t dismiss it. Who am I to say ‘I’m not courageous’, If you see that in me then it holds truth. It’s not for me to cast away your perception. Just because I can’t see my greatness, it doesn’t mean it's not there. I have slowly learnt to allow that in despite my inner dialogue often telling me otherwise! It is having an incredibly powerful impact on my life and my perception of self.

I still find myself with a battle in my mind "people don't wanna hear this stuff, I'm just a recipe blogger", ...no, "I'm a life architect and I help shift peoples thought processes and awaken creativity".  

I do that mental dance back and forth every day and it takes courage to choose the latter.

A game changer for me was The Crossroads Of Should And Must. A book I was gifted last Christmas- see the original Medium article by Elle Luna that inspired her book.

Courage is in the choosing. 

...This is what is expected of me, this is what society dictates, this is what has been done before BUT actually this is what my heart is telling me.

There might not be obvious reason and logic, the decisions that you take are often ones that don't make sense to somebody else. This takes huge courage, to forge ahead regardless.

This feels very true for me and my vegan story. I shifted to a vegan diet whilst in a previous relationship, so when that relationship ended and I fell back into my old life and routines, everyone around me expected me to snap out of that 'phase' of my life. It took huge courage to stand up and say 'this is who I am now'. The need for courage kept on growing- the first time I ate out at a restaurant, my first Christmas as a vegan, gifts from friends and family that didn't fit into my new life perspective. It was a huge act of courage in those moments which has become easier and easier over time.

Every time we wake up in the morning, whether we are conscious of it or not we have a choice, and one path is always going to require more courage than another. It’s about what we choose to lean into that in any given moment.  

It also takes courage to recognise and own the times where we didn’t choose courage and accepting that. 

Thinking back to the 'crossroads' - we might not choose the path of courage every time, we might only choose it 1 in 10 times. But, that doesn’t mean we are not courageous. If in every moment there is some aspect of choice, and courage involved in that choice, then of course we are not going to choose courage every time- we are not super heroes- we are only human.

We all have days where we choose no courage at all. It's not about all the times we didn’t, it’s focussing on all the times we did and recognising that.

Like vulnerabilty, courage has a ripple effect. It is permission giving. If you recognise and share your own courage it enables people to step into their own. This is so incredibly powerful for me in my work as a coach.

I will end these thoughts on a final quote on vulnerability by Brene Brown, something I'd love you to consider and to reach out to me if you'd like to explore more how this might be showing up in your life.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” 
 


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'Friluftsliv' ...ever heard of it? (clue: the connection between mindset and nature)

'Friluftsliv' ...I'd not heard of it either until I began doing a tonne of research on the relationship between our natural world and the impact on our health and mindset.

Friluftsliv, a word coined by Norwegian poet Henrik Ibsen, literally translating to ‘free air life’ is the word used to broadly describe the connection to nature that is so strong in Norway. The word first appeared in Ibsen’s poem, ‘On The Heights’ which describes a man who ventures out into the wilderness in search of solitude as to clear his mind and plan for the future.

The essence of 'Frilufstliv' is the simplicity with which people can engage with nature in a meaningful way,” says Børge Dahle. This philosophy embodies the idea that returning to nature, is returning home.

This is something I have been drawn to more and more over the last few years. I know the power it has on my own mindset and ability to dramatically expand my way of interacting with the world. It literally helps cut through the 'noise' in my mind and brings me down from the head to the heart.

This is one of the ways I'll be shifting my coaching practice.

I know it's not just me who benefits from the power of 'nature therapy' and so it will become an integral part of my work with clients to intensify the experience and the results that can be achieved.

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By living in a world of vast urbanisation, straight lines and electric lighting, we create a disharmony (or more correctly, discord) between natures rhythms and our own natural rhythms. We evolved in a world of 'fractal' structures: waves, mountains, fire, alongside seasonal rhythms, daily rhythms and different kinds of biological rhythms. These structures and rhythms are ingrained in us as we have evolved.

Now we live in a technologically advanced society, we don't rely on these natural rhythms anymore, or not nearly to the extent we did. So we are causing a disharmony with these rhythms which leads to stress, fatigue and low self-esteem.

'Friluftsliv' is about returning to nature and those rhythms and synchronising your body clock back to natures. We have a limbic system that takes in the senses and where we also have our memory. By opening these senses to nature, Dr Hans Gelter describes it as becoming "inter-connected" with nature.

Whatever the weather... Scandinavians don't run for cover on rainy days. This is about embracing the elements, throwing on a duvet coat and finding joy in even the gloomiest of forecasts - it's about changing your mindset.

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"Imagine a therapy that had no known side effects, was readily available, and could improve your cognitive functioning at zero cost." That's the dramatic opening to a 2008 paper describing the promise of so-called "nature therapy" — or, as a non-academic might call it, "time outside.

Nature relieves attention fatigue and increases creativity.

Today, we live with ubiquitous technology designed to constantly pull for our attention. But many scientists believe our brains were not made for this kind of information bombardment, and that it can lead to mental fatigue, overwhelm, and burnout, requiring “attention restoration” to get back to a normal, healthy state. Researchers believe that being in nature restores depleted attention circuits, which can then help us be more open to creativity and problem-solving.

Go to a Forest. Walk slowly. Breathe. Open all your senses.

This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, the medicine of simply being in the forest.

A University in Japan found that Shinrin-Yoku (translated as forest bathing in English) had a huge impact on our mental and physical health too. They believe that because humans evolved to be in nature that actually this is where we flourish best. F orest bathing literally means being in nature, sitting, walking and just being in forests. Throughout Japan they have different walks and trails that have equipment within it that can measure blood pressure and monitor heart rates as people are in the forest giving concrete evidence as to how nature is actually physically affecting them.

We can also consider the mindfulness perspective. Being in nature helps us to become present. Forest bathing refers to being in an environment where all your senses are engaged. Our sensory system evolved in the natural world and when we’re in those spaces, our brains become relaxed because these are things that we were designed to look at, hear and to smell.

Neuroscientists, especially in the U.K. and U.S., are starting to look at how people’s brains respond to different environments. What they’re seeing is that if their volunteers are walking through a city or noisy area, their brains are doing different things than if they are walking in a park. The frontal lobe, the part of our brain that’s hyper-engaged in modern life, deactivates a little when you are outside. Alpha waves, which indicate a calm but alert state, grow stronger. When psychologists talk about flow there seems to be a lot of alpha engagement there. Buddhist monks, meditators, are also great at engaging alpha waves.

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Ecotherapy, also known as nature therapy or green therapy, is the applied practice of the emergent field of ecopsychology, which was developed by Theodore Roszak. Ecotherapy, in many cases, stems from the belief that people are part of the web of life and that our psyches are not isolated or separate from our environment.

Scientists continue to debate the evidence around ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’. They ask could it be that, instead of being sensitive to changes in the seasons, we’re actually suffering from a disconnection with nature?

Psychiatrist Dr Norman Rosenthal, who first described SAD, attributes these positive feelings to sunlight. “When we’re outside, bright light coming through the eyes boosts the secretion of serotonin, while UV rays on the skin stimulates endorphins. All of this contributes to an improvement in mood.”

Dr Rosenthal also recognises the specific and significant role that nature can play in our emotional wellbeing. “Being indoors creates a world that’s compartmentalised from the changing weather, landscapes and feelings. In contrast, being outside enriches our lives. Experiencing the unpredictability of the weather – a breeze over your face or an unexpected rainfall – adds variety to our lives. Smells evoke memories and thoughts and connecting with nature allows us to escape monotony,” he says.

But as well as helping us to heal our minds, contact with nature can transform us. For several years, Steve Taylor (a psychology lecturer and the author of several best-selling books on psychology and spirituality) has been researching into what he calls ‘awakening experiences’ – moments when our vision of our surroundings becomes more intense (so that they become more beautiful and meaningful than normal), and we feel a sense of connectedness to them, and towards other people. The world may somehow seem harmonious and meaningful, as a strong feeling of well-being fills us

Of course, countless poets have written of the states of awe and ecstasy they've experienced whilst alone with nature too. This is what William Wordsworth's poetry is most famous for: his sense that nature is pervaded with what he called ‘a motion and a spirit which rolls through all thinking things, and all objects of thought.' 

But the main reason why nature can heal and transform us, I believe, is because of its calming and mind-quietening effect.

In nature, our minds process a lot less information than normal, and they don't wear themselves out by concentrating. And most importantly, the beauty and majesty of nature acts a little like a mantra in meditation, slowing down the normal ‘thought-chatter’ which runs chaotically through our minds.

As a result, an inner stillness and energy fills us, generating a glow of being and intensifying our perceptions. 

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Main sources of reference:

  • Journal of Environmental Psychology, 1995; Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2005; Psychological Science, 2012
  • Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, 2012; Journal of Cardiology, 2012
  • http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/02/nature-fix-brain-happy-florence-williams/
  • http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/have-got-nature-deficit-disorder-ditch-gym-time-get-outdoors/ 
  • http://www.natureandforesttherapy.org/uploads/8/1/4/4/8144400/friluftsliv_scandanavian_philosophy_of_outdoor_life.pdf
  • http://www.macsadventure.com/walking-holidays/friluftsliv-a-norwegian-philosophy/
  • http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html
  • https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/econature-therapy
  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/out-the-darkness/201204/the-power-nature-ecotherapy-and-awakening
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The powerful truths about travel

I recently became a 'traveller'. After spending my 20’s too scared to get on a plane on my own, by the time my early 30’s came around curiosity had got the better of me and I took my first solo trip abroad. It was hugely daunting but ultimately a profound and pivotal moment in my own journey of personal discovery. 

Then last year my New Years intention was to create a year of 'experiences' and what then unfolded was a year of travelling, of culture, of embracing the tiny everyday details of life with fresh eyes.

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My entire experience of life changed profoundly, my comfort zone was blown wide open and my personal growth skyrocketed.

Over the last 12 months or so I have spent time with the Merkaba Community in Portugal, the ISKON community in Spain, the Madhyamaka Kadampa Meditation Centre Buddhist community in York and the Osho Leela Community in Dorset. Each time it has offered me a beautiful insight into alternative perspectives, routines and norms and in many cases really challenged my thinking. 

Living the lives of other communities teaches me so much and allows me to observe my own day-to-day world more powerfully than the nature of travelling on trips and holidays and observing from the peripheries.

Understanding that their way of being is not 'temporary' and that this is what real life is like, makes it all the more real for me. Going back to my 'normal' reminds me that the small (I admit sometimes frustrating) details of everyday life- however permanent, essential, ingrained and routine they may appear, are all within our control to change and shift. Nothing is permanent. The way we live our lives is for the most part based upon nothing more than a series of habits and social conditioning that we always have the choice to step into or away from. 

In moments of frustration at myself, at society, at the rut I may feel stuck in, at the 'shoulds' in my decision making... remembering this is all a choice for everyone of us in each and every moment is both an incredibly powerful and humbling reminder. 

As I began to create this blog post in my mind, I decided to reach out to other professionals in the world of self development, to understand how travelling and time spent with other communities and cultures had also enriched their lives and how their own personal development had evolved more deeply as a result.

What quickly became apparent and intriguing is the patterns that began to show...embracing the unknown, the subtle appreciation of another's culture, a shift in viewpoint, inner trust, a guiding intuition... These fundamental gifts found here through travel can be universal to us all, gifts that money cannot buy and that age, race and gender don't touch.

I'd love to share their beautiful stories with you...

 

Kama Frankling - Photograher

Travel Removes The Blindfold of My Mind. Travel opens my eyes to what is possible. While travelling I am reminded of how confident and capable I am when I need to be. Each moment is unpredictable and unfolds as it unfolds. While travelling I lose the false perception that I have control. There is no choice but to be with what arises as it arises. Travel keeps me in the present moment reminding me that life is only in each moment. Travel reminds me that everything is changing constantly, that each moment in life is precious and to be savoured. Travel gives me fresh eyes to see the world as if seeing it for the first time. Travel is the perfect awareness practice, moments in time so appreciated that they awaken the senses and remind me to live each day without the blinkers of my mind.

www.hatehavingmyphototaken.com  |   facebook.com/Hatehavingmyphototaken

 

Fiona Cooper - Motivational Life Coach

Living and working all over the world has been a privilege which I’m becoming ever more grateful to have had. I have lived in a generation where freedoms were real and where nearly all of the world was open to us. Many of my friends travelled to Kashmir and Afghanistan before they were closed and I have lived and worked in all continents apart from Africa. Being a motivational life coach, I’m fascinated by the way we use language to define ourselves and to create our reality.  Living overseas it has become more and more evident that every nation uses language differently and the words we use are key to how we live our lives and see ourselves. 

In France “bon appetit” is at the beginning of every meal and food is central in the language and culture. In Canada and North America (for the most part), sarcasm and irony are not understood (making our British sense of humour completely lost on most people) – but this leaves an honesty we are perhaps lacking sometimes in the UK – in the States you know where you stand.  New Zealand has a “can do” attitude which I haven’t seen matched elsewhere in the world – they have a phrase “the No 8 wire” which basically means you can fix anything with the right attitude.  Knowing and understanding these nuanced differences has made me all the more aware of our individual differences and the importance we should put on the actual words we choose to express ourselves particularly when we’re using words to define ourselves (something we do the whole time).  What words are you using to define your world?  Are there any words you might want to change?

Fiona Cooper is a Motivational Life Coach helping busy parents build the life of their dreams.  Her website is ficooper.com and she has a group on facebook called Dream Weave Achievers.

 

Kat Gal - Holistic Life Coach & Health Writer

To me the ultimate act of self-love is freedom: allowing myself to experience freedom, allowing myself the freedom to be my true self, the freedom to follow my heart and my intuition, the freedom to follow my dreams, the freedom to walk my own journey, the freedom to change direction whenever I want to or need to, the freedom to be present moment, the freedom to let go of all expectations, the freedom to let go of comparisons, the freedom to be vulnerable and authentic, the freedom to trust the process, the freedom to take risks, the freedom to feel alive, the freedom to be free, and the freedom to just simply be. Freedom has always been one of my highest values, and as a nomad I have valued my freedom for years. Self-love was something I had to learn and develop as an adult, and I am still learning every single day. When I realized that freedom and self-love ultimately meant the same thing for me, it was a life-changing a ‘aha’ moment.

Traveling allows me to practice freedom and self-love. Being at a new place, especially when traveling solo, I arrive with a clean slate with a childlike curiosity, with the opportunity to discover the world and in the process get to know myself. Returning to a familiar place - perhaps home or a place I know well – or being with familiar people allows me to practice this same freedom and self-love in an environment where society (and my past self) has already hung multitudes of labels on me. My travel experiences help this process greatly. Besides travel, ecstatic dance, writing, running, nature walk and family constellations are the most helpful tools to experience freedom and self-love as result.

facebook.com/arawtransformation  |   website: https://becomeahealthcoachblog.wordpress.com  |  Freelance writing: http://katgalwriting.weebly.com

 

Shelly Najjar - Bucket list and travel blogger

I am bolder because of my travel experience. Much of my fear comes from The Unknown, in life or when traveling... and there are plenty of unknowns in travel. It’s probably good that my first introduction to it was when I was very small, before I knew to be afraid. We continued traveling as a family as I was growing up. It showed me that traveling was safe and that The Unknown holds great opportunity. From my parents’ example, I learned how to be flexible and to deal with situations as they come up. At home, I’m not what anyone would consider a flexible person, and that’s often because I’m trying to control everything. However, when I travel, I can be my “travel self”: the person who approaches challenging situations with the mindset of “That’s just part of traveling. I can figure this out.” I’m finding that the more I travel (both independently, and with friends), the more my “travel self” is becoming my “home self” - I’m more flexible and less afraid, and I have the grace and confidence to face the things that make me nervous.

www.thegoallist.com   |   facebook.com/thegoallist   |   IG: @thegoallist   |   TW: @goallisttweets

 

Francesca Gentille - Certified Clinical Sexologist

I used to think I would travel when I had more time, money, health, lost weight, or the right partner. At 55, I was done waiting. I made a commitment to myself to do it. I bought a roundtrip ticket to Italy for 5 weeks. Now at 60, walking with a cane, waiting for a hip replacement I'm still rockin traveling, teaching, & enjoying my friends in Italy & Malta.  Traveling has taught me that when I can combine vision and action, I can do anything. “Until one is committed, there is  hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too." Goethe.

www.francescagentille.com   |    www.facebook.com/francesca.gentille   |   @Francescadiva

Silvia Martin.jpg
 

Silvia Martin - Breakup Coach

Wherever you go, there you are. Traveling makes you expand that comfort zone. It exposes you to all types of situations, some pleasant, some not so pleasant. We travel to learn, we travel for an adventure. We also travel, in many cases, to escape. We think that, maybe, under a different weather, a different language, different foods… we will be able to leave “that” behind once and for all. It hardly ever happens this way. 

Traveling has the capacity to expose us to exactly what we don’t want to face. It’s nearly ironic how we always end up having to face the very own fears we are trying to run away from. It is as if life was saying to us “look darling, I am not going to leave you alone until you are able to overcome it!” 

Being able to get through “that” thing we are running from is, in my opinion, the biggest benefit of traveling. Once you are done, you are ready to board towards your next destination. 

www.shizencoaching.com   |   IG: @shizencoaching   |   FB: facebook.com/shizencoaching   |    TW: @shizenduende

 

Ann Skinner - Coach and Creator of The Contributionist

One thing that travel has taught me is that if you want to go, just go. 25 years ago I decided I wanted to go backpacking but I had next to no money to my name. Still, I picked a date and got enough money to buy a ticket and to see me through the first month. I ended up travelling in some form or another for the next 18 months. It taught me a valuable lesson that has been proven time and time again; there is no need to plan and schedule beyond the basics as the best experiences have nearly always been the unplanned, unforeseen ones.

Travel has taught me to jump in the deep end and trust my gut and to be ready to expect nothing but the unexpected. You don't have to have it all figured out before you leave, nor do you need to have a whole load of cash in order to live a champagne and oyster lifestyle! In fact, the best currency in the world has been my smile, which I found has been freely available to me on most days.

My smile has given me more than money could ever buy and was the catalyst for many of my adventures and the start of numerous short- and longterm friendships, including a very generous champagne loving oyster farmer who kept me and my partner happily fed and watered for 6 weeks without needing anything in return beyond the pleasure of our company.

www.thecontributionevolution.com   |   FB:facebook.com/thecontributionist  |   FB group: thecontributionevolution   |   IG: @thecontributionist  |   TW: @Contributionist

 

Tess Vergara - Money and Fulfillment Coach

Recently, a client shared that one obstacle that keeps him from moving forward with his business was not having a decent place where he can conduct client meetings. He realizes this is keeping him stuck as he needs to see clients in order to get out of the place he is in right now.

I smiled and shared how for the past 2 years I'd been living a digital nomad lifestyle. My clients still love me even when I show up with no make-up, wind-blown hair wearing beach wear instead of one might expect from a business coach.

I make no apologies for coaching right on the beach with the crashing of the waves in the background.

I also shared with my client one story where, while in Santorini, Greece, I remember feeling so torn to stay in and do client calls from the hotel but at last minute took a huge risk and went with my instinct against my rational mind.

Carried up by a donkey right on the edge of the cliff of Oia, breathless and thirsty after literally crawling in scorching heat, I arrived at the peak just in perfect time to find a quiet spot away from the crowd to where there was a strong phone signal. It was so freeing and exciting to connect with my intuition that way that allowed me to meet my need for adventure as well as deliver on my commitment. A story that emboldened me to follow my path to freedom.

www.openheartmindcoaching.com   |   FB: facebook.com/OpenHeartMindCoaching   |   Unlocking the Heart of Money Facebook Group   |   LinkedIn: @openheartmindcoaching

 

Gloria Coppola -  Lifestyle Consultant Clarity Coach & SoulPurpose Sage

We stand at the gateway and often don't walk through, doubting, fearing or unsure of what is expected if we do! When we make the decision to take the chance, to listen, our lives will forever change and a gateway of wisdom will be shown to you.

Travel has influenced my mindset, my insights and allowed me to explore unknown parts of my self.  One of the most impactful experiences was a trip to Egypt that would forever shift my perception of life....and death!  I Arrived in Egypt approximately two months after the tragic and unexpected death of my spouse while I was still in a deep and dark depression.

I recall standing on the  hotel viranda as the sun set, thinking how did I get here? The pyramids were surreal and I had no idea what I was about to experience.

Had I tapped into the great mystery?

Was I experiencing an altered reality? A dimensional shift?

A subconscious paradigm? A dream? 

Was I walking between two worlds?

Whatever this was, I was able to walk with my ancestors. To hear them guide me with words of wisdom. My loved ones would embrace me and I would be at peace.

Travel elevates me! Inspires me! Teaches me and taps into my soul more deeply than any book or workshop ~ It's a living history, an envelopment of spirit beyond words ~ it is transcending.

www.GloriaCoppola.com/blog   |   FB: facebook.com/soulFULLpurpose


Let us know what comes up for you as you read these stories and reflect on your own. Have you travelled or would you like to?  

Can you relate to the experiences of your own life adventures even if you haven't travelled... sometimes the biggest adventures of our lives are to be found in our own cities, neighbourhoods, homes and hearts.

Much love,

 

I hope you found this post inspiring...

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Living fearlessly?

I hear a lot about ‘living fearlessly’, it’s bounced around in quotes across the internet. It’s heavily used particularly within the realms of female entrepreneurship, and the language typically has a tone of being highly prized, as something to aspire to. 

I appreciate there are many ways to interpret this sentiment, but for me this idea of living fearless, does not quite sit comfortably. 

The title of famous book ‘Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers, connects with me much more deeply.  Within the book she says, “By re-educating the mind, you can accept fear as simply a fact of life rather than barrier to success”. 

I don’t think it’s about removing or diminishing ours fear and becoming ‘fearless’, I think it’s more about: 

Allowing them, 
Feeling them,
Leaning in to them, 
Honouring them,

…and forging ahead regardless. 

Being fearless to me implies almost a lack or separation of emotion or connection within. It creates a sense of distance from an aspect of ourselves and that is not the space from which I want to pursue my life goals. 

You CAN live bravely and boldly, without living fearlessly. 

Feeling the fear and acknowledging it gives me the cue that I am dealing with something meaningful in my life. It’s my radar in how I show up in the world and what is deserving of my attention. 

Do you aspire to living a ‘fearlessly’?

What does that idea mean to you? 


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THE COMMUNITY OF THE 'MYSTIC HEART'...

I was priviledged to spend the May bank holiday weekend 'working' at Osho Leela, Dorset for the Mystic Heart Festival along with some wonderful friends. My work simply consisted of building and tending the fire for the spiritual firewalk on Saturday night so there was plenty of time to relax and take in the setting for the three days. 

Wow, what an experience and another huge step in mind expansion. This festival was an observation of community living as i'd never seen it before...

Over the last 12 months I have spent time with the Merkaba Community in Portugal, the ISKON community in Spain, the Madhyamaka Kadampa Meditation Centre Buddhist community in York and now the Osho Leela Community in Dorset. Each time it has offered me a beautiful insight into alternative perspectives, routines and norms and in many cases really challenged my thinking.

To me Osho Leela was a community of pure heart felt love merging with hedonism. Taboos and 'Britishness' were totally broken away in the displays of affection from human to human. The safe space to 'be ourselves' was dramatic and profound as men and woman openly broke down in often loud and noisy acts of emotional outpouring during workshops and sessions 

I have never before been held and hugged by so many strangers multiple times a day, I have never before been greeted upon arrival with a full on dance rave, I have never before taken part in a 'dynamic meditation' early in the morning that was so full on with physical outbursts from others around the room (it involved shouting, screaming and flinging cushions around!) that it brought me to tears of emotional overwhelm.

Living the lives of other communities teaches me so much and allows me to observe my own day-to-day world more powerfully than the nature of travelling on trips and holidays and observing from the peripheries. 

Understanding that their way of being is not 'temporary' and that this is what real life is like, makes it all the more real for me. Going back to my 'normal' reminds me that the small (I admit sometimes frustrating) details of everyday life- however permanent, essential, ingrained and routine they may appear, are all within our control to change and shift. Nothing is permanent. They way we live our lives is for the most part base upon nothing more than a series of habits and social conditioning that we always have the choice to step into or away from.

In moments of frustration at myself, at society, at the rut I may feel stuck in, at the 'shoulds' in my decision making... remembering this is all a choice for everyone of us in each and every moment is both an incredibly powerful and humbling reminder.

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Cake and a Scavenger Hunt... round two at Madhyamaka Meditation Centre

I am writing this on the evening of my final day of my second stay at Madhyamaka Buddhist Meditation Centre (here is the story of my first and in re-reading it again I feel exactly the same this time around). Once again it was a wonderful week of reflection, stillness and mindful duties.

I decided to take time out over my birthday... this is becoming something of a tradition for me! Last year I spent the entire month of May with the Merkaba Community living of grid in the mountains of Portugal, and the year before I took my first ever solo trip abroad to Lanzarote- which then led to my retreats! 

This past week I have painted railings, scrubbed paving stones, weeded the garden, worked in the shop, cleared the sawdust from a newly built kitchen, carried rubbish across the site...

I also made an epic chocolate cake and designed a fun scavenger hunt!

The chocolate and raspberry brownie cake I made this afternoon was something of a leaving gift to the other residents and volunteers. I wasn't initially going to provide the full recipe here as it wasn't particularly heathy (plenty of sugar and wheat flour and vegetable oil as that is all I had available) and the main focus on this occasion was that is was vegan since there were a few vegan volunteers and no vegan sweets other than fruit.

However, it was a totally delicious cake and so I have provided notes of ways to make it healthier if you were so inclined. I'd definitely make it again using those tweaks. The recipe is featured at the bottom of this post (apologies for awful photos that do not do the cake justice- we were too eager to scoff it- I had kept them waiting all day since I announced it at breakfast time after all!)

I still managed to hide some veg in it and nope, no one guessed the secret ingredient, ha ha ;-)

We did have one other vegan cake during my week here. It was a yummy banana cake that was baked as a belated birthday treat for me by one of the residents here- a guy called Jonathan. I was so excited by and grateful for his kind gesture. ;-)

 My birthday cake from Jonathan!

My birthday cake from Jonathan!

 My chocolate cake gift (and some of the crew!)

My chocolate cake gift (and some of the crew!)

My favourite 'job' was to design a scavenger hunt for the members of the public when they visit. I made two versions- inside and outside. 

What I loved most about putting it together was the way to forced me to 'see' the world anew as I took photos of items throughout the site. I explored my surroundings through entirely new eyes, looking for the details so easily overlooked. 

For the first time I truly saw the patterns, the textures, the side and rear views, the colours and shapes out of the context of 'general magnificence'. I looked above me and below me to frame a view rarely seen but now given a space for appreciation evermore. I'd never noticed before the carved underside of the huge stone entrance canopy but it was absolutely beautiful and now everytime I walk through the main entrance doors I glance up and smile inside.

When you focus in on the details you see them in their true beauty. Without context you loose sense of expectation and your brain can not 'fill in the gaps' it otherwise would do. 

I remember when I was an art student in my late teens, on every trip I went I'd take my sketch book and pencils. One holiday with my boyfriend at the time, i'd woken up long before he had and after a while not wanting to wake him, I started to draw him. From the angle I was sat his head was upside to me... and so I literally drew the shapes I saw in front of me and not the human features my brain told me were there. It was a quick ten minute sketch as he woke shortly after I began, but to this day I still think it is one of the best drawings I have ever created.

@@I wonder what might be created if you quite literally viewed your world from a new perspective?@@ 

A few other mementos I am bringing home with me... more fallen branches to make new dreamcatcher wall hangings, and lots of wild garlic growing in abundance in the woodland garden. Hopefully a recipe using that to come soon!

 

Recipe: Chocolate and Raspberry Brownie Cake

Note: all quantities are approximate since I had no measuring implements and worked on the basis of visual quantities and intuition. :-) If the final mixed  batter is nice and thick and drops loosely from a spoon you've got it right (if not add a little extra milk or flour).

Makes a large cake pan approx 8x15inch (halve the recipe for a regular cake pan)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 1 large banana
  • 2/3 cup veg oil*
  • 1/3 cup raspberry jam*
  • 1 fist sized sweet potato 
  • 3 cups plain flour*
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100g bar dark chocolate (mine had freeze dried raspberries in it too) (this is optional)

Method:

Finely grate the peeled sweet potato, mash the banana well and mix together in a medium bowl. Add the milk and veg oil and mix all together well. 

In a separate large bowl, mix together all remaining dry ingredients other than the chocolate if using. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well until you have a smooth thick batter. 

Pour into a large lined baking tin and press broken up chunks of the dark chocolate and a little extra jam if you fancy into the top.

Bake for approx. 30-35 mins at 180C (I loosely covered the top with tinfoil for the last 10 mins to prevent excess browning). A toothpick should come out clean.

Allow to cool slightly and serve hot or cool fully and serve cold. I made a hot banana custard alongside.

*HEALTHY NOTES: you could swap the veg oil for melted coconut oil, swap the jam for a refined sugar free version or use fresh/frozen raspberry chunks. You could use wholemeal spelt flour or ground oat flour (oat flour may not rise quite so much), you could use unrefined coconut sugar. You could use 100% cocoa chunks or omit the chocolate entirely.

 

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What is your 'wild'?

I posted this mini story on my personal Facebook page yesterday and it stirred quite a few hearts with people leaving beautiful and funny comments about what 'wild' meant for them. I'd love to share with you here too and to hear your thoughts...

P.s if you haven't yet read this previous post please do! (It tells of how I broke my hand all wrapped up in one of the most incredible experiences of my life!)

 ...a quick t-shirt selfie as I was walking into town after my hospital appointment :-)

...a quick t-shirt selfie as I was walking into town after my hospital appointment :-)

"As I sat waiting outside the hand therapy clinic this afternoon for the latest update on my hand, a lady in a wheelchair with both arms in splints pulled up beside me, she appeared to be a similar age to me. After a few moments we made eye contact and she asked what I'd done to my hand, I explained my story and she smiled and said 'the T-shirt is quite appropriate then', we laughed together but then her smile dropped and she said softly something like 'I wish I could.' 

I paused making sure I'd heard her correctly and then met her gaze and said 'well, why don't you?' Another pause. Our conversation continued for a couple minutes before I was called in to the room. 

Being 'wild' is not about going off on big adventures, bungee jumping off a cliff, doing crazy stunts or going to parties... although it can be. It's how it's often portrayed in social media. It's what gives us the FOMO.

To me, 'being wild' is about stepping away from expectation and owning who you really are inside. 

Being wild might be wearing crazy clothes, dying your hair bright pink, getting a tattoo... OR it might be much more subtle than that... stepping up and voicing an opinion, writing something vulnerable and meaningful, saying no when all around you are saying yes, quitting your 9-to-5... literally anything that pushes the limits of your own personal comfort zone!"

@@What is YOUR 'wild'? @@

 

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Firewalk instructors training… Insights from the most intense experience of my life!

It’s now 10 days since I came home from an intensive four day extreme self empowerment retreat… that is the firewalking instructors training course lead by the U.K.’s leading master fire walk trainer, Steve Consalvez who himself was trained by Tolly Burkan, the father of the global fire walking movement.

I had intentions to write this post long before now, but I’ve been processing all my thoughts and feelings as well and struggling to type with an injured arm!

It makes me smile looking back now, as I had totally underestimated the incredible impact that the course would have. I had barely mentioned it on Facebook or to friends or colleagues in the lead up, more of a flippant comment that I’d be going on another ‘self development weekend’. I had assumed it would be like many workshops I’ve been to before. How wrong could I have been!

I had no idea how profound just four days could be. In my mind it was ‘just a long weekend’… In reality those four days were so intense it could well have been two weeks as that’s what it felt like on the inside. The journey over those four days was timeless, and also pretty surreal since the days were long 9am until 11pm every single day. There was no time to chill out, to think, to process… It was all cleverly designed and structured as one of the most intense learning experiences available in the world today.

There were 10 of us, plus the crew who were there to facilitate our experience. The wonderful thing for me was the fact that all the crew had been through the full immersion experience themselves, and they shared their stories, experiences and reflections of their time in training. We were all ONE, there was no hierarchy or sense of ego. As somebody who has explored a lot around the topics of vulnerability and authenticity… this was being demonstrated at its finest throughout those four days. I was also surprised and humbled by the daring and tenacity shown by my fellow tribe, some of whom (if I’m openly honest) I may have judged on first appearances as we gathered together but who quickly blew my mind by their determination and commitment to step up to the challenges set before them.

It was probably one the most deeply authentic experiences of my entire life.

It was also an experience that pushed the limits of my comfort zone more than ever before.

I didn’t keep accurate notes of all the activities (as well as the firewalks themselves) that we were challenged with over the four days as there were so many to keep count and in many ways it didn't feel necessary. But here is a taster that gives you an insight, some you may be familiar with and others not, it doesn't matter. Going in to this experience without knowing too much is actually the best thing you can do, since out of context of this unique environment, it is impossible to fully understand and appreciate each challenge.

  • trust fall from a height
  • sweat lodge
  • arrow break on the throat
  • metal re-bar bend on the throat
  • glass walk
  • timber block break
  • concrete slab break
  • bliss peirce
  • breath work re-birthing
  • numerous team building exercises geared towards human connection, focus and attention
  • plus dancing, hugs and group shares (and everything else I have probably forgotten!)

These 'labels' alone have no meaning. Any such activity viewed in isolation will never awaken the powerful lessons contained within.

It is the metaphoric value behind the activities themselves, in the sequence that they were presented, that gave rise to the powerful life changing experience. 

How many times have you encountered the saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear". The door always opens inwardly. The teacher is everywhere but only when the student it’s ready with an open mind will they receive the teaching.  My mind had never been more open in my life than during these four days.

Through these activities we understood first hand deep truths about forgiveness, acceptance, gratitude, unconditional love, vulnerability and the delicate beauty lies within each of us beneath the superficial exterior we present to the world.

We also experienced trust, overcoming and eradicating irrational fear, forgiveness, re-wiring limiting beliefs, 100% commitment to a goal, focus and attention, leadership and the rhythm of a group. A priceless opportunity.

We perceived ourselves with a fresh enlightened perspective. We saw ourselves reborn. 

IMG_8066.jpg
IMG_7877.jpg

Right from the outset we hit the deep end, and this only stepped up in intensity as the days went on. Day one almost passed as if a blur. We literally hit the ground running and the 10 people I’ve never met before in my life suddenly became some of my closest friends, and they remain so. Each day began with dancing, group sharing and hugging- like full on proper eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart hugs. Each day we hugged every single person in the room- delegates and trainers alike, and we shared from the heart our deepest fears with every single a person in the room. 

Circle time was one of my favourite moments of each day. A moment to sit, be still, breathe, observe and listen to others reflections and allow our own thoughts to surface and be shared aloud. It was an incredibly safe space. There were a lot of tears, there was also lot of smiles, yet most importantly there was a huge amount of love contained within that circle. I felt as though I could’ve said anything and I would’ve been supported without question. It was such a gift to have been given that opportunity to experience.

Day two saw me face one of my biggest mental and physical challenges… the ‘board break’. I recounted the moment on Facebook later that night before I went to bed and I’ll share the extract word-for-word with you here…

"Another 14 hour day on the Firewalk Instructor Training... it was even more intense than yesterday, with some deep learnings I am only just beginning to process.

Today we took part in a board break, glass walk, trust fall at height and a spiritual chanting circular firewalk and so much more. I did it all, yet for me the board break was the most profound, and affected me more than I could have anticipated.

I watched so many of my teammates take their turn and channel their power to chop the board in half with their bare hand at their first attempt. My turn was towards the end of the group. I was feeling confident, I know I'm physically strong so had nothing to worry about. Or so I though. I was wrong.

I failed.

My hand slammed down hard on the inch thick timber slab and yet it didn't break as it had for the others. I was confused, frustrated, tears filled my eyes as I stood in front of the room with my unbroken board still balanced solid on the blocks in front of me.

I geared my myself up to try again. The room was cheering me on with support. I knew I had to give it 100%

I failed again.

I had felt so strong in my test runs but then could not translate that as I stepped up to the board. Why! What was going on! My mind chatter got in my way and I stopped short, I didn't carry through beyond the mark... after all a goal is only scored in football once it crosses the line. Where was my commitment?

Blinking back the tears that blurred my vision. My mind was whirring- desperate thoughts of wanting to prove myself and demonstrate my commitment yet my inner critic was already running riot with a smirk on its face knocking my confidence and placing doubt in my mind. I was frustrated that my weakness was so clearly manifest, that my inner voice had popped up sabotage my day in front of a room of people.

So then I began analysing. Overthinking. Getting stuck in my head. Trying to regain control. Tracking back through my actions to see where I 'went wrong'... the stability of my stance, the swing of my shoulder, the alignment of my arm and position of my palm. Asking questions, my mind awash with too many thoughts.

But...

There was nothing I had 'done wrong'. Power is all in the mind. That's where the connection is made. That's where the energy comes from. That's the source of flow. That's how the board gets broken.

I was offered one final chance. I had to overcome this mental barrier. I had to overcome the mental noise. Now.

I knew the placement of my body and it was time to trust. Get out of my head and trust. Give 110% and trust.

I stepped up to the board and looked beyond it at the floor two feet below. That was my aim, there nothing that could stand in my way. It all happened in a split second so that I didn't have time to think- only do.

With one final roar and swing of my arm the board snapped clean in two and clattered to the floor.

I'd done it and my amazing team mates celebrated my victory as I made my way back to my chair. Still feeling teary, exposed and vulnerable but incredibly grateful and proud that of overcome such a huge personal mental hurdle."

Day three brought more challenges… both physical and mental. I remember during the circle share that morning one of the tribe joked that he couldn’t believe there was so much more to come since we’d already achieved so much more than we thought possible during the previous two days! I know we all nodded in agreement with that sentiment.

For me, day three’s biggest challenge was taking part in a sweat lodge experience. The thought of being packed in together in intense sauna heat in pitch black darkness for an entire hour made my heart race with nervous anticipation. But I lasted the full hour! I was so proud. It was a deeply connecting, spiritual experience as we all sat tucked up around the edge inside a small yurt, cloaked in towels as red hot rocks were laid in the centre and we shared from the heart into the sweat. Into the darkness.

I recall feeling a huge lull of energy in the late afternoon that day, after the experience of the sweat lodge had simultaneously energised and depleted me. My self doubt surfaced and my confidence wavered following such huge awareness around the extent of my inner blocks and resistance that had shown up the day before, and then in that moment even more so. I hadn't yet processed the awareness enough to know what to do with new level of understanding or how to handle it and so it played on my over-thinky mind all the more, leaving me ungrounded- a vicious cycle! An increasing awareness settled in of the retreat moving towards it’s final day and so did my fears of not been able to take home the incredible lessons and action them in my life. 

There were many tears shed that afternoon, all of which subsided as together we built our fire and I fully immersed myself in the team spirit, the glow, and the power of the flames and the heat of the burning coals as we completed 5 more firewalks under the light of the full moon.

Day four, the final day, showed me the lessons I would need to take into my future… and and gave me the gift of slowing down to the speed of life. It was not at all in a way that I could have expected!

I broke my hand.

In a similar vein as with the board break, but this time using a different striking action, the challenge was to break an inch thick concrete slab. The fear was simmering within me as I watched the others take the stage and break through.  They had all done it. I wasn’t going to back out now though it took huge metal strength to overcome the inner dialogue that was trying to hold me back.

I stepped up and practiced my test runs as all the others had done under Barry’s supervision to ensure I had the angle, the drive and mental attitude all correctly in place. I thought that if anything were to let me down it would be my overthinking mind and so I decided that I would take one final practice strike and then immediately step forward to the slab itself and drive straight through no room for thinking …Just doing.

Strike one…. practice.

Strike two… I broke the slab clean in half!

The room erupted into shrieks and applause. I hugged Barry so full of relief and pride. I had no idea that as well as the concrete slab I had also broken my hand. In fact I still had no idea until the following day when I took myself off to hospital.  As I look back at the video retrospectively, I can see the angle of my fist tilted slightly as I hit the slab and so my little finger bore the brunt. 

There had been very little pain, maybe that was because the evening was awash with team euphoria as we built a circle of three long ‘rail road’ fires and each walked 108 times over the burning coals. It was so surreal and I didn't want the experience to end!! I looked at my feet immediately after the '108' and there was no soreness and not even a single mark on them! How could this even be possible when I'd spent the last 30 minutes walking over burning hot coals?

The highlight of the final evening was further intensified as we had a live Skype call with Tolly Burkan himself. He shared wonderful stories to set the scene and then opened up for questions. I asked him two questions relating to mindset, diet and sprituality, which I will likely share in a seperate blog post. I felt like a proper fan girl having so recently read his incredible autobiography - ‘Dying To Live’ (my advice: get clued up on Tolly’s teaching and his books).

Before the evening erupted into a farewell party the space was created for one final group share. A chair was placed on the stage before the rest the tribe looking onwards. We each took a turn to share our thoughts on anything and everything we had just experienced over the last four days. Wow, where to begin- there were no words! 

Just before we spoke we were asked to gaze in silence into the eyes (left eye to left eye), of each member of the tribe and the crew sat before us, one by one. It was incredibly moving.

I realised in that moment that eyes truly are the windows to the soul and that as human beings we don’t look into the eyes of others nearly enough. We don’t connect with the souls of each other. In the eyes of those before me, people who had been strangers just four days before, I could just see limitless love. Pure, non-judging, freely given, powerful love. 

I can still feel it now. There have been few moments in my life when there is no noise, no overthinking thoughts, no busyness in my mind… this was one of them. My body felt still, quiet, grounded and empowered.  My heart ruled my head and I was filled with a deep sense of unconditional love.

Then of course followed the after party… we all knew that we would soon be leaving this cocoon of safety, this incredible environment in which we had all grown so much more than we could ever have imagined. None of us wanted to leave, but as the clock ticked past midnight on Sunday 12th March. We slowly begant to collect our things and accept that we all needed to go back to the real world and start living out our truth and sharing the message with others.

Over the last 10 days, upon learning how I broke my hand some people have said things along the lines of: “ I bet you regret chopping that concrete slab?”

My answer is no. No I don’t regret it. 

Out of the context of the deep self empowerment training we experienced it may not make sense, I totally get that.

Yes it’s been frustrating at times, yes it’s meant I’ve had to take time out of my business, yes it’s meant I’ve had to rely on others for help, yes my plans have had to change to accommodate.

But there have been beautiful gifts in all of this. 

I’ve had to think outside the box in how I approach my life and my business. I’ve had to ask others for help and appreciate that help in the many small ways I would never otherwise have seen. I’ve had the opportunity to receive so many wonderful offers of support and feel truly humbled. 

Most of all I’ve had to continue to play big and go beyond my comfort zone.

On so many occasions over the last few months I've mentioned to friends and colleagues that I tend to 'hide' behind my blog, behind the written word, behind my photography and design skills… And I don’t reach out to the world and connect with people in real life with my energy and voice in the way that I should. I now smile with the irony that the universe came along to help me out in its own unique and funny way. Over the last 10 days, without the use of my right hand, I have ONLY had my energy and my voice to connect with people. What a lesson and a gift!

In life you can choose to stay small or play full-out.

The fire walk instructors training retreat gives you all the tools you could ever need to truly play full out IF you choose to step up and do so.

When you play full out in life there will ALWAYS be risks (I don’t simply mean injury). If you don’t take risks, if you don’t fail, if you’re not prepared to receive a ‘no’ then you can NEVER win. You can never find out who you truly have the capacity to become.

In scrolling through my Facebook feed from the time of the fire walk I found this post, shared amidst a haze of pure euphoria late on the very last evening of the retreat that pretty much sums it all up!

"I AM NOW a certified fire walking instructor ...and the epicness comes to a wonderful close! I simply cannot fully describe the depths of my soul that I explored this weekend! My voice is hoarse from all the chanting, dancing, singing, screaming, yelling, laughing this evening… I walked 108 firewalks non-stop under a full moon with a group incredible friends I felt I've known for an eternity. I drive home now with so much love overflowing in my heart... So much love. Love love love."


If you are interested in learning more about the Propulsion Retreat- the 4-day fire walking empowerment intensive course… you’ll find full details HERE.  

You can also watch a short video compilation from the retreat I attended below...

I’d also love to connect with you, to share with you some of the gifts that I have learnt throughout this experience and to listen to your own story. As a creativity coach, I am always looking to get curious with every aspect of the human experience… and every single thing about this experience pushed me to the max. It’s right up there in my ‘life best bits’ so far.

All images are taken by Nick Boyle and credited to firewalk.co.uk

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Instead of shutting down to your own limitations, open up to curiosity.

 

This speech by Chelsea Dinsmore of Live Your Legend really moved me. Eighteen months ago her husband Scott- founder of LYL, was killed in a freak accident by a boulder whilst they were both climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. The news rocked me surprisingly hard as I had been a close follower of LYL as I made my own huge life transitions beginning back in 2012.

Watching her strength bloom this last 18 months has been so inspiring. Maybe it's the affinity I had with the blog from my early days, maybe it's her energy, her passion and curiosity for life, or the fact she is the same age as me.

Or maybe it's none of those things.

This is a 25 minute speech given by Chelsea at the World Domination Summit in 2016. It's very worthy of your time.

 

These are my takeaways...

"If you stay endlessly curious, it inspires you to get creative. It forces you to figure it out even when you don’t know how.  And when you’re able to pair that curiosity with a meaning greater than your own, that is when you become limitless."

 

"When you spend your time doing the things that you love you give a gift to those that receive it."

 

 "when you question not WHAT you can do, but WHY it's important to you, the HOW reveals itself" 

 

 

If you were able to let go of your limitations and open up to curiosity what could you create in your life?

Loving you, and creating space for you to embrace your journey. Always

 

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where and get a little love plus other good things (like special offers) right there in your inbox. 

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