Posts in 2017M
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. 

connection quote.jpg

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?  

jo sign off.png
 

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
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. 

tyres1.jpg

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?

jo sign off.png
 

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
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! ;-) 

jo clown pic.jpg

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
 

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
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.” 
 


Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
'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.

SS 66 sq.jpg

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.

SS 28.jpg

"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.

walking meditation.JPG

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. 

SS 97.JPG

 

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


Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Where was your heart drawn and are you still honouring it now?

While I was clearing out my loft last month as part of The Minimalists challenge to get rid of items in accordance with the days of the month (i.e one item on the 1st, two on the 2nd etc) I came across boxes with books and binders full of my old A-Level essays. Some were typed, some handwritten. There must have been many hundreds.

It was fascinating flicking back through them all and gave huge clues and insights as to what I have ultimately created in my life to date.

My A-level subjects were Art & Design, Philosophy & Ethics and Pshychology and I excelled in them all. Art and creativity had always been been my dominant love and was the driving force for much of my teens and twenties. I went off to art college and then studied interior design and architecture at university before spending 8+ years working in an architects practice.

Yet over the years and without me even realising it, I have slowly but surely come home to my soul and integrated everything into one holistic framework.

My work as a designer, a coach and recipe developer is driven by a deep combination of creativity, curiosity and questioning the world around me.

As I emptied the files and stacked up the layers and layers of papers ready for recycling, I felt huge sense of clarity and of coming full-circle as I embark on this next phase of my life.

This process could not have been rushed, or consciously created. I feel strongly that it needed to find me, for me to realise almost retrospectively where might heart had landed without external influence driven by expectation. 

I'd love to hear from you... 

When you reflect back on your childhood days and your school years, where was your heart drawn and are you still honouring it now? If not, what might need to shift to bring you more in alignment?

 

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
The power of creativity... way beyond the artists canvas!

Last weekend I got the urge to paint after watching a wonderful Jim Carrey clip that really spoke to my heart (watch it here). I have always been an artist, through school and college and right through to university where I spent most of my architecture degree in the workshops making models and sketching building concepts rather than learning CAD software ;-)

My creativity typically now manifests itself through food, writing and design. But every now and again you see the 'full-on technicolour Jo' usually at my workshops and retreats.... here there are always three things present:

1) plant-based food

2) deep mindful connections 

3) the space to 'let go' and create

Last weekend I combined paint and hot-melt glue to create some mixed media pieces on some old cork floor tiles I found in my house. I am a bit shy to show you them as its been a long time and I'm a bit rusty...and, well I guess you just know me as a food photographer when it comes to 'art', but here you go, a quick pic I took on my phone!

I am planning on bringing all creative materials to my Raw Retreat in under two weeks time... we may even all have a go at glue art, its so easy and lots of fun! :-)

Crafting is a big part of my Raw Retreat, and it has huge benefits on so many levels (and participant feedback has been great too!)

  • it's a very mindful activity

  • it allows us to use more of our senses, particularly touch and is incredible grounding

  • it instills a childlike sense of curiosity

  • those who think that are not 'creative' find themselves 'letting go' and overcoming their own resistance and mental barriers.

  • you have a physical memento to anchor a positive experience

  • creating things together builds a wonderful group energy, but equally can create a powerful space for solo reflection.

Here are some pics from the Raw Retreat Experience in January this year, and a couple from my dreamcatcher and 'bliss ball' workshops. I didn't take that many- I was too immersed in it all!

 

Now, I would love to hear from you... do you see yourself as 'creative'? 

Think as broadly as possible- way beyond the artists canvas! How you could incorporate a deeper sense of creativity into your everyday life for more powerful results?

I would absolutely love to have a conversation with you to help bring a deeper sense of creativity and curiosity into your view of the world. Ping me an email and let's set up a time to talk!


 

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
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.

IMG_8883.JPG

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,

 

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF