Posts tagged coaching
The moment I realised I am a 'heptathlete'

I had something of a game-changing realisation today.

I have always been one of those people that has multiple passions and multiple strands to my bow. I was cool with that and fully embraced my creativity (or so I thought)

But today I realised that very same understanding has been holding me back in my business- massively!

I realised I held the story (ingrained from school days, books and societies conditioning) that in order to be a 'master' at your craft you had to focus all in on one discipline.

You have a choice in life - either be good at lots of things, or be a master at the 'one' thing.

By default I firmly held onto the subliminal belief I was a 'good' coach, a 'good' designer, a 'good' writer, a 'good recipe developer...

So when it came to opportunities to put myself in font of potential clients, to chime in on threads in facebook groups, to network and engage with people... I so often held back, incredibly frustrated at myself for doing so, without seeing what was playing out beneath the surface.

I inadvertently told myself that these clients would be better served by someone who was a 'great' designer, or a 'great' coach - aka someone who I perceived focussed fully on that 'one' skill and therefore must better than me.

Now I am calling BULLSHIT on that story!

For the first time truly seeing it for what it is.

I am also reminded of how all these strands and multiple disciplines play out to offer a richness and depth that otherwise would not be. My coaching work infuses my design work, my mindset and creativity is a powerful driving force behind my approach to a plant-based diet. My love of food and recipe creation offers a an incredible dimension to my retreats and workshops.

It’s not always about homing in on and being a master of the ‘one thing’…

It’s also about recognising and bringing to life the interplay between the various strands and the strengths they offer each other… as well as acknowledging that just because I have multiple passions and I spread my focus across them all, it DOES NOT mean that I dilute my talents or my skills. If anything, I have now come to realise that the opposite can indeed be true.

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I was speaking with my coach at the time, and just before this realisation hit me and in order to try and prove my point I gave this analogy;

"It's like the example of an olympic athlete, they are world champions in their specific discipline, channeling their skills and practice solely on that narrow focus to be the best in the world".

There was a short pause and then she said to me;

"So, what about the heptathletes?"

So today, for the first time I call bullshit on my lifelong story of never being more than 'good'.

I am embracing my inner heptathlete. 

Now… it’s your turn. Do you have multiple passions and strands to your business or even your hobbies and if so are you holding yourself back? Is it time for you to embrace you inner heptathlete and allow yourself to shift from ‘good’ to ‘great’?


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10 reasons I'm NOT the coach for you...

When I first mention I'm a coach, it's understandable that people then ask me what kind of coach I am. For a long time I shied away from this question (l talk more about that here) as my 'title' seemed to change every other week!

But the beauty in this question is it gives me an opportunity to connect at a deeper level, to share what coaching means to me, what kind of coach I am and how I can support you on your journey.

It gives me an opportunity to lay down some clear foundations, because I hold my hands up... I'm not the right coach for everyone.

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10 reasons I'm NOT the coach for you...

  1. I'm not going to tell you what to do, I'm not going to advise you on the best course of action. However I may share my experiences with you and my observations on what you say which could translate into actions should you choose to take them. But I'm never going to tell you what to do.

  2. I have duvet days. I have days where I feel overwhelmed, anxious and not good enough. I also have epic days when I feel like I could literally take on anything that is thrown at me. I'll always show up for you 100% as the professional that I am, but I am not going to hide my 'human-ness' from you either.

  3. There is no quick fix with how I work with my clients. No structured SMART goal system to work to. We are in it for the long haul. I coach what shows up in the moment. We go deep, we strip back the layers, we get super vulnerable, there will probably be some tears (sometimes they could even be mine!) Working with me involves embracing the messy in order to get to the magical. If you're not down with 'messy', then I'm probably not the coach for you.

  4. I'll call you out and keep you accountable with your actions. I know excuses when I hear them and I'll pull you up on them. I am not here to be your friend. I will absolutely stand in your greatness and hold space for you potential in moments when you doubt yourself but I will not believe in your dream more than you do.

  5. I often talk about spiritual stuff. Not light and fluffy, not rainbows and sparkles but yes there will be spiritual vibes in the language, tools and techniques I bring to the table. If that's not your bag then I am probably not the coach for you.

  6. At some point I will probably disappoint you. You will probably disappoint me too. Let’s put that right there on the table. It is impossible to control others expectations of us regardless of how pure the intention is. The beauty is in the conversation in acknowledging this, in what comes next. We won't ignore the elephant in the room.

  7. I am a passionate creative and I infuse this into all areas of my life. We live in a multi-sensory world and I bring this powerful dynamic into all of my work. This may mean getting your hands dirty, it may mean getting out in nature, it may mean movement or yoga, or journalling or drawing or being a bit silly. This is not just ‘talking therapy’, this is a space where we will engage the body and mind at a multi-sensory level.

  8. I don't generally wear smart suits or blouses, I rarely wear make up and that's unlikely to change. Most of the time I'm rocking leggings and a sports bra. I'll do me and you do you. Embrace it.

  9. Most of the time I work with clients via audio not video call. I can listen more deeply this way. I can think more clearly this way. I can move my body if I need to. I can be outside in nature if that feels right for me in that moment. I encourage you to explore the same. If you prefer to always speak face to face, then I’m probably not the coach for you.

  10. At some point I will probably try to feed you! I'm a passionate plant-based foodie and it's been a huge part of my own evolution and my no.1 10/10 kinda client would be someone who aligns with these values or is as least curious to explore plant-based nutrition and how this can support the connection with a deeper sense of self. But hey, it's by no means a deal breaker... as long as you enjoy my homemade 'bliss balls' ;-)

I'm not the right coach for everyone.

We might just not be a fit and that's ok. That's actually more than ok, because the beauty is that when we give up on pleasing everyone, we give ourselves permission to find those folks who really make us come alive and who just ‘get' us.

… and that's the magic of a powerful coaching relationship.

If you are still curious and want to have a conversation… hit the button below.

I look forward to connecting you!


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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!)

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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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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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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,

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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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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 'REAL' ME… and why I am NOT a ‘health coach’

I woke up this morning (Tuesday 21st February 2017) as if from a dream with the following words on the tip of my tongue. Literally. I was scrabbling in my ‘eyes-half-open-sleepy-state’ for a pencil and notepad (yes, it had to be a pencil I hate writing in pen!) to put them down on paper before they left my mind with the morning light.

“I am a creativity coach. I work with people who have lost their mojo for life and want to access their innate creativity. I believe we were all born to create. I believe the essential ingredients for deep lifelong creativity are exactly the same for everybody: curiosity, courage, commitment, permission and trust - and those elements are universally accessible.

Moving towards a more plant-based wholefood diet is one of the key tools I use to optimise that process and set the body-mind magic in motion…”


Oh my gosh. When I re-read the words back to myself once written down, I felt euphoric. As if my mind and body had truly aligned and for the very first time and I was sharing 100% ME with the wider world. The resistance had gone and it was like my heart was saying ‘finally, you figured it out!’

By mid morning I had already updated my landing page and my social media accounts with this subtle- but oh so significant shift in words. My energy feels entirely different.. a huge lightness and I can’t stop smiling!

I realised I had been holding so much back from you all, because on some deeper level a voice inside still kept telling me that you were only here for the recipes and I shouldn’t stray too far from that as I am ‘health coach’ after all. Of course creating recipes was how Including Cake first began it’s life and indeed it is still a huge part of my world- arguably the biggest catalyst to literally EVERYTHING my life now is.

My biggest drivers in life are creativity and curiosity and that is not limited to recipes and mindset brain dumps. There are so many more things that make me ’come alive’ that I haven’t really dared share so much with you, things such as… making dreamcatchers, pole fitness, graphic design, yoga, sharethelove letters, handstands, dreaming about micro-houses, exploring other cultures, going barefoot, and so much more…

A handstand in wellies during a winter walk whilst volunteering at a Buddhist Meditation Centre.

A handstand in wellies during a winter walk whilst volunteering at a Buddhist Meditation Centre.

I realised in hindsight that labelling myself a ‘health coach’ was maybe the most detrimental thing I could have done.

But I had no idea what to call myself back when I began my health coach training with IIN in 2013 (which I totally loved by the way). So when people asked me ‘what do you do?’ (to be honest I still sometimes struggle with this part as my mind floods with all the things I love and I end up rambling like an excitable child) I would simply adopt the answer ‘health coach’ as it felt the most obvious thing to say… but I would cringe inside when I then heard people say to others in the room ‘Ooooh you should speak to Jo, she’s a nutritionalist’. I have nothing against nutritionalists, but I am quite simply not one- I am a full on creative with ADHD tendencies- I barely weigh my ingredients for recipes let alone know the technical stats! I see big picture. I work on intuition. 

I found that people were coming to me for help with their 'nutrition' issues and whilst of course I cared and wanted to help, I had no desire to coach specifically around it, it wasn't my passion. My heart did not reside there.

So I took a back step. I felt overwhelmed and confused. I told myself that maybe I wasn't cut out to be a coach after all. Maybe I should focus on my other endeavours such as Wholeplus and my design business.  I lost confidence as a coach as I couldn't see the bigger picture laid out for me.

The label I had created for myself was now my barrier...

A few weeks ago, early in the New Year, when I was reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (incredible book by the way!), it triggered a huge insight. I resonated so strongly with the message of ‘creativity’ in the broadest sense that I knew this is the direction I needed to actively venture. 

So here I am. A creativity coach… and I can’t wait to explore more deeply with you how that will manifest now that I am allowing myself to ‘own’ that title. Yep I’m owning it. Gonna wear it like a badge. ;-)

So, what does all this have to do with a plant-based wholefood diet…

Aha… sooooo much more than I ever realised, even though it’s directly been my own experience. Yep, another huge moment of realisation that hit me smack in the face!

I put the following question out into a few Facebook groups not knowing what would show up…

“Is anyone else here vegan? (or maybe even vegetarian, or have cut sugar out and switched to a wholefood diet). I'm doing a bit of research and I'm very curious to know- have you felt more creative since making the transition? 

I got so many responses, and to my joy, about 80% said they did indeed feel more creative!  These were some comments:

I went vegetarian the beginning of last year and have gone vegan this month, I have to say my creativity has increased! I am drawing and painting again, something I haven't done in a long time. Also in the way I am being creative in my wardrobe and dressing more how I want too!
Yes! absolutely it has! I have been vegan just over a year and it has had a positive impact on all areas of my life. I think on a deeper level, I am more connected to the earth and I am more peaceful (unless I am poorly!) I have had more creative ideas and energy to make them a reality.
I am much more creative since going vegan. I'm not sure if it has to do with nutrition as much as living a more authentic and value based lifestyle. It has pushed me out of the dissatisfied way I had been living. I'm also more fearless, I try new things all the time. 
I'm not vegan, but I feel like a brand new person when I go vegetarian. I am in the process of switching back. I've been eating meat for a couple of months, and I feel icky.
Same..... when I eat REALLY clean and am well hydrated I'm like this AMAZING person, So why oh why do I keep falling off the wagon.
I am much more creative since going vegan. I'm not sure if it has to do with nutrition as much as living a more authentic and value based lifestyle. It has pushed me out of the dissatisfied way I had been living. I'm also more fearless, I try new things all the time.
A vegetarian for 30 years, I then embraced a raw vegan lifestyle about 3 years ago which totally changed me. I suddenly felt connected with the earth, with nature, with life in a way I never had before. Alive, creative, excited.... It was transformative! 3 years down the line I don't eat a wholly raw diet any more, I eat a mostly vegan diet (eggs from my pet ducks when they're laying) but with a high proportion of raw because when you eat raw foods you really feel the life-force, the energy, of those foods going into your body and it's wonderful
I can certainly relate to this. I’ve metamorphosed from a bored meal provider into an enthusiastic, energetic and lovable (well my family believe so) server of wholesome foods. Ones creative energies seem to open up in so many areas of ones life.
Yes, not only in cooking but other ways too. I always have been the type to look outside the box anyway, but this perspective on life has changed the way I look at things even more.

 

It was truly beautiful, and so my understanding shifted more deeply once again... 

I coach creativity in the deepest sense of a life being driven more by curiosity than by fear (to take Liz Gilberts words, thanks Liz!) My primary tool in accessing this innate creativity is moving towards a plant-based wholefoods diet. A total mind body connection that can set the amazing magic in motion. I had been practicing it myself all along along without even realising it.

It’s not just comments on Facebook that align with this way of thinking. I began a little research and found various articles also alluding to this sense of creativity and connectedness... 

Not hard core science? No, maybe not. But in truth I am not looking for science- I am simply focussing on sharing the inspiration that I know in my heart and mind can create the deepest results.

I feel I still have so much more to say, but i’ll wrap this up for now and include my thoughts and inspirations on books, TED talks, quotes and anything else that lights me up as a separate article.

Still with me? Wow… you are super hardcore. So much love winging it’s way to you!

If this resonates with you and you’d like to connect. I am all yours- please reach out and message me with how you want to create your most powerful life and we’ll take it from there. Or if you are still not sure, but you know that your creative energy has been stirred within, I’m all yours too.

 

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Have you 'got your sh*t together'?
 

Forgive the language in this post, but have you... have you got your shit together?

Well, what does that phrase even mean in reality? 

This question came up in a conversation I had with a wonderful fellow coach earlier today and we laughed about it together because even though it’s something we hear all the time, neither of us actually knew what it really meant and whether we do indeed need to ‘have our shit together’ to be of powerful service to others.

The question wouldn't leave me and in reflecting on it further this afternoon, I realised this has been a key factor in my playing small in key areas of my business this last year. I had taken the idea that maybe I didn’t ‘have my shit together’ to hold myself back from putting myself out there to the world. I needed to be fixed, sorted, more knowledgable, happier, have overcome my anxiety AND THEN I would have my shit together and THEN I could get out there and help people. 

We live in a society that often makes us feel we need ‘fixing’, that we are not ‘enough’ as we are, that tempts us with impossible ideals as being the norm and subconsciously ingrains the mindset that we could do better, should be more. 

In the Cambridge online dictionary (yes it actually appears!) To have your shit together means: ‘to be or become effective, organised and skilful’

But how do you determine ‘effective, organised and skilfull’ when in reality all of these are largely subjective points of view? Who’s to say that what may appear effective to one person won’t be worthless to another? Equally, some may see you as super skilled in a particular area yet your inner critic has a field day in beating you up as having failed in that exact same thing from your own personal viewpoint. 

There are no boxes to tick off. There is no base line when it comes to knowing if you have your shit together or even what it might specifically look like in our own lives day to day. This often (ironically) causes even more anxiety! It seems to be a general sense of having it ‘sorted’, exaggerated by the highlights of others lives we see on Facebook. It kinda comes down to managing to do the whole ‘life’ thing in an ‘effective, organised and skilful way’ or at least doing a good job of looking like it!

Of course I googled it, as is necessary in times like these, and was presented with a series of article headings such as:

15 Signs That You’re Finally Getting Your Shit Together  

17 Ways You Know You Have Your Sh*t Together

12 Ways to Seriously Get Your Shit Together

Trick friends into thinking you have your shit together

Don't Stay Stuck: 16 Strategies to Get your Shit Together

10 Productivity Apps That Will Help You Get Your Shit Together

8 Ways To Get Your Shit Together

How To Stop Procrastinating - Get Your Shit Together

Get Your Shit Together Guidebook

Wow, we humans really do like a tick list or bullet point, don’t we!

I checked a few of these out and ‘Trick friends into thinking you have your shit together’ did have some pretty good points to be fair- for example tip no. 6 “Cover your couch with some stupid throw pillows with meaningless words on them.” Hmmmm… 

Anyway, I digress. In all seriousness getting back to the point of this little reflection… we live in a society that often makes us feel we need ‘fixing’. I am not ok with this. I am not ok with battling constant thoughts of all the things I ‘should’ be doing better. I am not ok with the notion that we should have everything 'sorted' before we put ourselves out into the world to help others. It takes up so much head space and drains me of energy to think this way.... energy that I could be using in a much more empowering way.

It is so often our imperfections, our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities that creates the deepest connections, and gives others permission to be imperfect too. Powerful connection does not require 'having our shit together.'

If you feel you haven’t got your shit together, high five, that’s cool… but then OWN IT! Be aware of your imperfections, of course build strategies in place to support your struggles or weak spots. BUT OWN YOU exactly as you are. Show up from that place exactly as you are. Serve others exactly as you are. 

We are all on a journey and we all vary somewhere along the continuum in any given moment of feeling ‘very together’ on the one hand to feeling ‘scattered in pieces on the floor’ on the other.

I believe it’s not the amount of pieces that matter but our ability, determination and willingness to piece ourselves back together and continue on that journey. To show up in this world regardless.

For me, that is the reality and my deepest understanding of truly having your shit together. Even when it’s the shit that is the glue that sticks your pieces.

Loving you and all your imperfect perfection.

 

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That time I learnt to drop kick a football…
 

Years ago… and I’m talking about 15 years ago! I asked my then boyfriend teach me to drop kick a football. I was never a ‘girly’ girl, always running around with the guys and so I would get frustrated when out for a walk and a wayward ball from a group of kids rolled across my path. 

I wanted to get over that awkward moment of lamely trying to kick it back or picking it up and throwing it, only for it to land a few metres in front of me (even worse!) So I figured if I learnt to properly drop kick a ball I would be challenging norms (a girl knowing how to kick a ball really well!) feel a little bit smug, and avoid all awkwardness in the process… a total win-win-win.

So then it began. 

Pretty much every weekend for weeks (or maybe even months) I spent hours out on the playing field on a Sunday afternoon learning how to drop kick a football. My poor boyfriend patiently helping me. As you can imagine there was a lot of running after balls. Now, anyone who knows me well, also knows how stubborn I can be. This was particularly pronounced in my younger years when I was less able to deal well with this personality trait and it would result in a lot of tantrums ;-)

However, I did get pretty good at kicking that ball!

But when I look back now I wonder how well that actually served me. Sure, being ambitious and driven to achieve a goal (pun unintended!) can be a very good thing, but the focus on enjoying the journey towards it is something that is now so much more important to me and one I had never even considered at the time. I didn’t particularly enjoy the journey of learning to kick that ball, and once i’d nailed it I didn’t maintain the practice, so the skill quickly slipped away again.

We can be so caught up in a ‘future focused’ mindset of reaching the end goal, that we totally forget to consider at the outset how we might feel throughout the process it takes to get there- a process which may take months or even years. Then, as we all too often see, when we do reach that goal it might not even be what we quite wanted or expected anyway.

Over very recent months and years my relationship to goal-setting has changed significantly. I tend to use the word ‘intentions’ rather than ’goals’, which for me has more freedom, feels more heart-centred and less head dominated. Something to work towards with a deeper appreciation and awareness for each present moment, opening myself to opportunities that may cross my path that I may have otherwise been blind to.

So where are you at with your goals or ambitions? 
Do they also serve you and along the way? 


Dream bold, dream big… but simply remember to check back in with your heart in the process.


Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here you might like to check out my 'About' tab up top. To buy healthy nibbles you can also find me over at my sister site Wholeplus. 

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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We are already half way in... what are your 'proud' moments?
 

The day of the summer solstice and it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect, and in doing so I’d love to hear what top three things you are most proud of from the first six months of this year? What progress have you made in life or business?

Then, if you are still with me, let’s dig a bit deeper by adding a little 'future focus’ ….what are you striving for over the next six months? If it was coming up to Christmas and you were looking back on the last half year… what would you like to smile back on and think ‘yeah, I did that'?

I’d really love to hear your thoughts in the comments, but of course if you prefer please get in touch a personal message. Or if you want to step up one notch further drop me an email and let’s have a chat so that I can support you in making those goals a reality!

I spent some time thinking about this question in my own life and work, so I will share with you my proud moments as it is all too easy to forget to celebrate the achievements so i’ll kick off with what has felt deeply meaningful to me...

1) I took travel and creating 'experiences' up a gear, the biggest leap beyond my comfort zone yet was spending a month at Merkaba. Another huge leap for me was making a spontaneous decision to fly off on a trip to Barcelona within less than 48 hours of booking my flight (it's happening imminently!)

2) My biggest ever order for 3000 Wholeplus Toppers pots was hand produced, packaged and shipped all the way to Germany on a palette… all sorts of ‘firsts’ were present during that process.

3) This last one is harder to put into words as it is more of a feeling deep inside. A sense of clarity and knowing that I am on the right track. That I am living from my heart a little more each day. I can't wait to see what is created during the next six months!


Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here you might like to check out my 'About' tab up top. To buy healthy nibbles you can also find me over at my sister site Wholeplus. 

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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Like a huge pile of scattered papers...

This morning I woke up feeling quite scattered, on the verge of overwhelm. I knew that meditation could help, but my inner negative voice was too loud and distracting for that to get off the ground. People were are already up in the house so I figured that creating space for yoga would probably not come to much either.

As I lay in bed, the peculiar energy coarsing through me  and threatening to overcome, I put on my gym clothes and prepared for a run. Looking out the window dark black clouds were looming, then I realised that what does it matter if I got wet, clothes and hair quickly dry and my skin is the best waterproof in the entire world!

And so off I went.

Pounding down on the bridal track and my thoughts started jumping, shifting, jiggling- feeling even more scattered and then they were before. 

But I kept going.

But as I continued to run and my breath settled and the rhythm picked up, my thoughts created a rhythm of their own. 

It was like collecting up a huge pile of scatted papers, when you reach out and gather them into your hands, clasping the pile at both ends and tapping them on your desk to shuffle them into a neat pile. That's literally how my mind felt.

Pound, pound, pound. Tap, tap, tap.

Everything fell into place, all the tiny steps I needed to take to align my scattered thoughts and emotions. It became clear that there were lots of small things to quickly tick off and free up each huge space for the rest of my day.

I rounded the corner at the top of the track, now bearing down on to tarmac marking the return back home. The clouds opened and the rain lightly patted down, tickling my face and the bushes nearby, tinkling lightly on the surfaces as I ran.

Washing away the excess. Cleansing my mind. Creating the space I needed.  

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here you might like to check out my 'About' tab up top. To buy healthy nibbles you can also find me over at my sister site Wholeplus. 

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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Reflections on my Thailand experience

Sitting in the departure lounge at Bangkok airport at 1am in the morning.... and it is the perfect place to begin writing this post. I can stay in the moment as I reflect on my experiences instead of the contemplating the hours of travelling that lay ahead.

My volunteering experience in Thailand almost didn't happen at all. My mum and I had originally planned a trip to visit my sister who is currently working in Bangkok, I wanted to extend my stay after the family holiday time together and found a yoga retreat centre. However what I failed to realise was that this particular centre was a 12 hour bus ride away and totally unpractical. So at the last minute I scanned the Workaway website (a more recent amazing discovery) and found an opportunity to volunteer in the construction of a yoga centre a short drive from Chaingmai city itself. 

It seemed perfect, and it did not disappoint!

I spent seven days at Yoga House getting involved with gardening, artwork and cooking. Most days I woke with the sunrise just before 6am and cycled to the early morning market for fruit- so much amazing fruit! I watched the sun come up whilst siting on the deck drinking hot water with fresh lime and eating some of the fruit, then got to work for a couple of hours before the heat of the day truly hit. Even though the temperature was over 40C most days I found it surprisingly ok, in fact without air conditioning my body acclimatised a lot better. I have never been a fan of air conditioning and this experience reinforced that.

The bedrooms were simple shed-like structures. I'll be honest it took me a couple of days to get used to the multiple frogs and lizards sharing my room every night (I felt like a contestant in 'I'm a Celebrity' initially). I was glad of the mosquito net 'shield'. I was also very glad to have taken eye mask and earplugs- who knew wildlife was with so loud!! There was one slightly amusing incident (amusing more in hindsight) in which I was in the middle of a coaching session with my coach and the lizards on the ceiling and walls were much more active with the light on. One fell off the ceiling right on front of my face and I leapt up launching my phone (on which I was Skyping) across the room!

We took part in yoga everyday during early evening, the warm glow of the setting sun bathing the floor tiles of the space with a golden hue. My flexibility improved in that short time and I nailed a couple of new moves- scorpion arm balance and headstand-to crow-to chataranga. Both of which I was very to happy to come away with and has re-motivated me with my yoga practice.

Scorpion (screen grab taken from a video clip)

Scorpion (screen grab taken from a video clip)

Ma, owner of Yoga House taught all the classes and had built the centre from scratch over the last year. I hugely admire his energy and vision and the generosity he extended to us all, with just two hours a day of work and a 100baht (£2) contribution towards all food each day. With other volunteering opportunities it is more typical that you work 4-5 hours each day without paying a supplement for food. I was more than happy with the arrangement at Yoga House, and even though the menu was typically vegetarian, I was well catered for with vegan food.... plus the fruit ;-)

I spent my days with a beautiful group of fellow volunteers and a couple of guests who were also staying at the centre. We prepared and ate all our meals together, and enjoyed so many random and interesting conversations around the table, sharing stories and teaching each other words from our languages. This is what I loved so much, the energy of the time together gathered around a table sharing bowls of food we created. 

This was a very similar experience at the Buddhist meditation centre and one of my greatest memories there also. I have lots more to talk about when it comes to food of course, but I'll save that for a separate post!

A few photos of how I spent my week, to give you the essence beyond that which words can say... 

A personal highlight was a trip to the local national park wth a beautifully clear waterfall steam that we swam and played in. After a couple of hours it thundered and as we made our way back to the truck the sky opened and it poured! The journey back in the open topped truck was an experience as we were pelted by rain!

The uniqueness of travel and volunteering in this way, is such that people flow in and out of your life, and I within theirs. You quickly create bonds and friendships, then those people then leave and others flow in. A beautiful dynamic, a test of attachment, of letting go, of appreciating the moments for what they are and the inevitable process of ebb and flow. 

There were between 4-6 other volunteers/guests at any one time, with a shift in group dynamic every few days as people came and went.

The other thing I loved, again similar to that I experienced at the mediation centre, is that some of the volunteers/guests are living there longer term. It reminds me that 'it could be me' if I choose to do so. When you go on a typical holiday abroad, the setup is such that it is a finite bubble of bliss. A luxury experience. It is not a real life setting and more simply a respite from 'real life'. The beauty of this paired back, cost effective experience is that it could become 'real life'. You are literally spending time in another persons real world. Yes, I may have left after a week but the setup was such that I couldn't have stayed indefinitely if I had wished...

Another big difference for me personally (and one in which I fully appreciated in jumping without pause from holiday mode to volunteering mode) is that holidays are for DOING, yet the volunteering experience is for BEING. I've touched many times on the shift between those two aspects of life and my own endeavours to spend more time BEing and as such become more heart centred in my approach to life.

The Yoga House created a beautiful space for that process. Set in a small village area outside the bustle of Chaingmai city, with old bikes to take out, hammocks hung from trees, a deck to perfectly view the sunrise from and a yoga den to use all day long. It created so much space to simply be. I appreciate not all volunteering experiences would create this same level of quiet reflection, and that many users of the workaway site would use the opportunity to find city centred locations to explore the surrounding beyond their work times. However I think the overall sense of doing away with luxury, pairing back to simplicity and coming to know yourself is still deeply embedded.

Travellers interest me. I had never realised that in previous years since I had never travelled! I am now beginning to see what I was missing out on! My motto, the words I wear around my ankle on a red chord, read: 'always be curious'. This last week I surrounded myself with curious people. People who not only want to explore but have actually stepped up into doing it. 

Interestingly, it is less the sense of physical exploration that I refer to (but of course that plays a part with interesting stories and insights to tell) but more the mental sense of exploration, of growth and change as a person. In being around others on this path, it raises my own excitement, energy and inner confidence to continue to do the same.

Travel changes you significantly, there is no doubt about it.  From my experiences so far, it has presented me a whole new window on my life and on my world that is difficult to grasp quite so profoundly any other way. When you are outside of your own culture, comfort zone and norms of society you become more consciously aware. It is impossible to run on autopilot when your ingrained social context is taken away. You get curious and question more and assume less, something I am striving to do more in my everyday life.

I'm smiling softly as I wrap up the draft of this post, now flying somewhere over Moscow only a few hours away from landing on home turf. I feel there is so much more to say as the energy is bubbling up inside me, but that can wait until it finds its moment. 

I smile because not only have I left this week with a host of beautiful memories, but also with the notion this can happen all over again as soon as I want it to. I design my own life, on my own terms. I now plan to prioritise travel in my life, to deeply enrich my personal growth and my mind-body connection, but also in equal part enrich and strengthen my offering as a coach, my work with 1-1 clients and also in the creating of retreat experiences and the longer term dream of creating a 'centre for BEing'.

I am home for just seven days before I take off again for the biggest experience of my life so far. As a gift to myself for my birthday next month, I decided to step fully beyond my comfort zone and live for the entire month of May at Rainbow City in Portugal. In saying 'yes' to this opportunity it brought butterflies to my stomach, it still does! I have no idea what to expect, but at the same time fully acknowledge that to be the beauty of the experience. Open mind, open heart. I can't wait to report back from there soon!

Here again are the links to Yoga House and Workaway in case you want to explore them for yourself (neither of these are affiliate links in any way). I loved every minute of my experience, and highly recommend volunteering as an incredible cost effective way to explore the world (or even just the UK as I did at the mediation centre) and meet inspiring people, and maybe in the process find a little more of yourself.


Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here you might like to check out my 'About' tab up top. To buy healthy nibbles you can also find me over at my sister site Wholeplus. 

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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My time at the Buddhist Meditation Centre

Finally I have written a blog post about my experience... just three weeks later!  

Every time I had sat down to do so I'd be distracted away from distilling my throughs into words. Then I had a story to finish that i'd be invited to contribute to a book which involved me digging deep and re-living a lot of emotions. It is only now I have the energy to focus in what this experience taught me.

So, as you may recall in my last post, that in January my focus for the year was to explore 'experience'. That was the word I gave myself. I wasn't sure how it would manifest at that point but I knew there would likely be some travel involved as I'd already booked a flight for April to see my sister in Thailand and volunteer as a yoga centre.

March rolled around and I felt the urgent need to 'expand'. That is probably the best word I can use to describe it!  I found Madhyamaka Buddhist Mediation centre a few hours drive from me near York that takes on volunteers in return for bed and food. It sounded perfect. So with just a few days notice at the beginning of March, and no idea what to expect, I went to live there for a week.

A little bit of everything captured!

A little bit of everything captured!

It was incredible! It's hard to put into words how it felt. I loved living as part of their community, hearing their personal stories, spiritual debates around the dinner table, going to meditation sessions 2 to 3 times a day in the beautiful ornate meditation rooms. There were a few other UK guests and also volunteers from around Europe whilst I was there and we all hung out together sharing cultures, language, jokes... it was such an enriching experience.

It was also the small things that made a huge impact, like the huge sash windows with the beautiful sunshine streaming through in every room as I worked on my laptop. The beautiful grounds and rolling hills of the countryside. I was so lucky to have such a sunny week, but even it it hadn't been I would have still been amazing to appreciate nature in all it's true glory.

I was working in the reception/shop a lot and designing flyers for them at the same time which was lovely as I was able to use my skills (I also run a design business on the side). All in all, I gained so much from the whole experience and would love to go back again sometime... watch this space! ;-) 

Spontaneous handstands in the fields with a fellow volunteer!

Spontaneous handstands in the fields with a fellow volunteer!

All together...Volunteers and guests on my final evening!

All together...Volunteers and guests on my final evening!

The most interesting thing for me, was that as someone who has always struggled to meditate in the traditional sense of sitting quietly. Doing that in a room full of others (whether it was 5 people or 50) felt so different. Even though my mind was wandering all over the place, it didn't matter so much, I was able to relax into it as I felt as though there was such an intense focussed energy in the room form the others, their 'beingness' infused and supported my own. 

The biggest thing for me at the moment is the realisation that I need to live from the heart not my head. I have spent most of the last 32.5 years getting caught up in my mind and letting my head and it's little inner chatter dictate my life, whereas now in those moments when I'm living from the heart everything just flows. Life is easy and uncomplicated.

I am so much more aware of the dynamic between the head and the heart than ever before and this is what I feel is my duty to explore in myself and enhance in my own life and therefore in time to come support clients exploring the same. Nutrition still forms a huge part of this as I feel nutrition is the gateway to your optimum self in terms of supporting clarity of mind and body.

Whilst I was at the meditation centre, I was privileged to be able to take part in a two hour meditation session as part of the monthly ‘Sunday Out’ program.

In a room packed full of 60+ people, all with open minds and a willingness to explore, the energy of the space was amazing. We were led into a number of guided meditations, but one visualisation in particular stood out for me, and after the session I found a quiet space to record some notes to later remind myself of the teachings. 

It was only this week I found the recording on my phone and listened back to it, it gave me the incentive I needed to put this post together and so I've typed it almost word for word as I had originally recorded it…

Sunday Out Meditation:

He (the monk) talks about clearing our mind and being more in tune with who we really are. He used the analogy of your back garden and your front garden… if you have limited time, which one do you choose to maintain? Often we may choose to maintain our front garden as that’s the one that people see, so we create a show for those who pass by our house to give the impression of a beautiful, proud space. 

But actually we let the back garden go to ruins behind the scenes. If over time this is left uncared for, the roots may grow and undermine the foundation of the house, the ivy may grow up the walls and begin to pull the bricks apart. Yet we keep this show up for the side that people can see our front garden, and hide our back garden away from the rest of the world.  

He likened this to the external side and the internal side of ourselves he asked: Which one is more impotent to you personally, the part that those can see- the tip of the iceberg or the internal side that no-one sees but is super important to our wellbeing. The balance to where we put our energy is imbalanced.

He also mentioned that when we first meet someone we might typically ask their name, where they’re from and what they do. In those three questions we think we have them figured out but actually we hardly know them at all. This is likened to the inner work and the outer work. It is our inner world that we need to put more effort in to, for a rich and fulfilled life.

The 'inner world' fascinates me as this is the realm which has the capacity to be so life changing. We are born with everything we already need in life, but get distracted and overwhelmed but the glamour of our external world and those around us. Everything we need is already inside, we simply need to learn how to better tap into it!  Isn't that incredible?


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Running...

This morning I went for my first run in many many months. It felt so good, and not just because the sun was shining and spring was doing it's thing!

I posted on Facebook yesterday that I have been struggling a little bit with grounding myself and finding routine within the inconsistency of my life since I have been doing quite a bit of travelling and my fitness and nutritional routines have suffered. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed and anxious if I don't feel as though I am on top of things, and lack of grounding is a big trigger for this. It got me thinking of solutions and that led to an idea for a morning routine challenge, which you'll have seen if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

...couldn't find a photo of me running... so my brother running on a beach in winter a couple of years back is the best I have ;-)

...couldn't find a photo of me running... so my brother running on a beach in winter a couple of years back is the best I have ;-)

Running is something i've always had an inconsistent relationship with, I tend to run when training for an event (I like taking part in OCR's), but not much otherwise. It's something I tell myself I will do 'if it takes my fancy' and so then I go through patches when I do and then when I don't for many months.

I was totally cool with this arrangement until this morning. Today as I ran I realised how deeply connected I felt, my head and my heart were in total alignment. I've never noticed this before as I don't think I've had this level of awareness around my life until recently.

For me, running is probably the most deeply grounding activity I could do. It's a full on multi-sensory immersion, falling into rhythm with the earth around me. When I run, I zone out and my thoughts take over, simply ebbing and flowing with no judgement and no attachment as I pound through the fields and the tracks. Active mediation.

I FEEL the ground beneath my feet and the air rushing into my lungs

I SEE the world around me, the tiny details as I pass and the bigger picture all in one 360 vision.

I HEAR the sounds of nature and the breath creating a backdrop in time with the rhythm of my feet

I SMELL the farm yards, the fumes, the flowers, the dry heat or the smell of the ground after a heavy rain (called 'petrichor' for word geeks like me)

My body moves in an optimum rhythm created without even thinking... the feet pounding, my arms pumping, my breath and my lungs flowing all in time. 

Then comes the awesome moment when you decide to go for a sprint.... the world collapses inward just a little as you focus you mind and your sight on the 'finish' line. You take off and your legs loose feeling, you are running as if in a cloud, strides becoming longer and longer... literally leaping through the air. Then slowing, slowing, allowing thoughts to filer back through and the base rhythm to take over once again.

Running is back on my agenda.  

I realised this morning that days I feel least like running, are probably the days I most need to.

 

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Illness = Productiveness

Last weekend I attended an amazing 'Create the Extraordinary' Coaching Workshop with a small group of powerful coaches in Leeds.  I have much more to share on that, and that will come over the next few days, but first an unexpected reason to share...

It's quite a crazy thing and also a profound realisation that even though for this entire last week I have been the most ill I have felt in over a decade (horrible flu type thing), these last few days since I've been home from Leeds have actually been some of the most productive i've ever had in recent months. 

Why is this? I sat with that thought feeling pretty bemused for a time and then it dawned on me... 

Even though I feel ill, I'm actually finding such clarity of mind because I have literally no energy to expend on anything other than what most needs doing. It's incredibly enlightening in understanding how I usually operate in such a huge 'energy leaking’ way.

I have written my to do list for each day, I have kept these more realistic and managable and to my great surprise I literally ticked all the tasks off one by one. No procrastination, no overthinking, no distracting myself making recipes in the kitchen... Ok, there may have been a little Facebook scrolling involved from time to time, but that's such a modest distraction in my day compared to usual ridiculous methods I create to sabotage myself!

Illness creates a massive prioritisation of energy. This made me see so clearly where my energy expenditure otherwise lies when I have plenty to channel into all my projects with plenty to spare. I've hugely appreciate this opportunity of illness to shed such a blinding light on my habits and patterns where I'd never had such clear context around before. 

Of course it will be better if I felt 100% ...the test will be to see if I can maintain this level of focus once I'm back to my usual healthy happy self! ;-)

Everywhere in life there is always joy, gratitude and plenty of lessons to be learned!

What have times of illness taught you about your life?

 

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There are many good people in this world...
 

An observation has come to my mind time and time again in recent weeks and so I wanted to share here, partly to understand my own thought processes and also because I'm curious to hear what you think...

Like many other people I get drawn into clicking on the various viral videos that pop up on my wall, and then (against better judgement and usually in an act of procrastination) I often get sucked into reading through the hundreds of comments left by others. One big thing has stuck out to me across the board in recent months is the statement...

"There are still some good people left in this world"

I find these words make me sad. An inner conflict that makes me feel joyous that yes indeed there are beautiful people BUT simultaneously sad that for emotion in reading between the lines is that this is a rarity, something of a surprise, unexpected, unusual, not the norm... 

It is NOT such a rarity and nor should it be seen to be. By saying, "there are still some good people left in this world" it reinforces the view that this is not the norm, sidelining those people as special or martyrly, as if we are not capable in ourselves. Stating 'left' in this world creates scarcity as if we are going to run out of them, as if a special breed we cannot reproduce. It reduces belief in the future of the human population, instead of nurturing that belief and creating a deeper sense of one-ness and unity. This makes me sad.

I am well aware that there are huge atrocities occurring throughout the world, and yes, I am well aware that are some individuals who have committed horrific acts. But I truly believe the majority of people are innately good, seeking to help, to please and put others before themselves in small and subtle ways each and every day. More than that, many people in my world here on Facebook inspire me daily by their own contributions that seek to redress this balance and continue to do so. To give and to serve. Every. Single. Day.

Maybe we simple need a reminder, a reframe and refocus. 

Maybe it should instead simply read as this:

"There are many good people in this world"

Then go out there and live your life as one of them.

Much love, 

 

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Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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What will you discover when you are curiously aware?
 

If you are a regular reader you will know two things about me...

  1. I love food (healthy vegan food to be precise!)
  2. I love exploring what it means to 'get curious' about life.

This is a post about the latter, as earlier today I found a TED talk that I felt summed up so beautifully what it is to be curious AND maybe more importantly the huge benefit this can have for you in your life. For me personally, this is an area of continous growth and exploration and is something that infuses my work with all my clients.

Check out the video below (it's 9 minutes long, so perfect so a mini time out with a cup of tea) but I wanted to share my musings on the key areas below.

"What will you discover when you are curiously aware"

(I wanted to jump up and down around the room shouting yes, yes, yes when I heard that! ha)

Mindfulness is just about getting really interested in getting close and personal with what's actually happening in our bodies and minds from moment to moment. It's the willingness to turn towards our experience and not away from it. This willingness is supported by curiosity. When we get curious we step out of our fear-based habit patterns and step into 'being'.

Notice the urge... Get curious... feel the joy of letting go... repeat!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the curiosity and how are you can bring this habit into your own life. If you're inspired and want to go all out then ping me an email and let's really get this conversation really flowing!

 



Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here you might like to check out my 'About' tab up top. To buy healthy nibbles you can also find me over at my sister site Wholeplus. 

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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Show me how big your brave is...
 

It was 11pm last night and I was just getting settled to go to bed when a question popped into my head and wouldn’t leave me alone.

“What does being brave mean to me, and how can I show up ‘bravely’ in my life”.

I have no idea whatsoever why that question popped into my head, but as it did I also had the soundtrack ‘Brave’ by Sara Barielles playing through my mind… hence the quote.

When we are younger our parents often say ‘be brave’ when we fall over and scrape a knee, to help try and stop our tears. Or when we need to go to the hospital or the doctors to have a procedure that might be painful.

Being brave in the face of pain is a very traditional association, but I think it goes much deeper than this in how we show up in the world as we get older and more of societies expectations bear down upon us.  It is also hugely different for every individual. For example I personally had to be ‘braver’ travelling abroad on my own for the first time than I did when I skydived from 12,000 feet, but for many people the fear factor in these activities would be reversed. Interesting!

Is bravery directly associated with overcoming fear? 

Is bravery a direct correlation to the level of unknown and uncontrollable outcomes and moving forward regardless?

For me, bravery is about stepping beyond your personal comfort zone… that’s where the fear factor and the unknown both lie. Being ‘brave’ can show up in the smallest of actions; allowing vulnerability and simply speaking out loud what’s on your mind instead of holding it inside is often a huge act of bravery. It’s then often a stepping stone to much bigger shifts in your life… it sets the ball rolling.

This is something I have been experimenting with a lot recently... sometimes I find myself going a bit too far, feeling the fear kick in- the sicky feeing in the pit of the stomach (yeah that's my physiological marker of bravery!) and then needing to pull back to breathe and recalibrate, but that's ok... it shows me that I am on the right path! Interestingly, an act of bravery once concluded, is often followed with a flood of relief and endorphins and also thoughts of ‘that wasn’t so bad after all’.  

When I looked up the dictionary definition of ‘brave’ it gave me this: “Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage”. Interestingly it also noted that ‘brave new world’ is used to refer, a little ironically, to a new and hopeful period in history resulting from major changes in society.

So for me, bravery creates a realignment, and our new zone of comfort is pushed that little bit wider through stepping out in to that space.

How do you define bravery and how can you recognise and harness this in your life?

 



Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here you might like to check out my 'About' tab up top. To buy healthy nibbles you can also find me over at my sister site Wholeplus. 

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

jo hodsoncoachingComment
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Labels... Make your own and wear them with pride!

The 'labels' we apply within our lives are a funny thing. Very are useful in some scenarios yet very detrimental in others.

From a practical point of view labels create containers and compartments to help streamline and speed up processes. They help our lives run on autopilot and we can slot ourselves into where we think we fit within the bigger picture without expending much mental energy.

Yet, by the same token, these labels can be to our huge detriment. We often try to define ourselves by a label instead of digging a little deeper to create our own description. Fitting ourselves into a generic space that simply doesn't work, a default setting that doesn't fit our true nature and will rub up against the edges and cause friction in our minds over time. When you pair this right back to the smaller, subtle decisions that have meaning for you on a daily basis this often becomes more apparent.

When it comes to food and dietary choices, something we all deal with both consciously and subconsciously every single day, there are labels all around us.... both self imposed and society inflicted...

VEGAN, PLANT BASED, CLEAN EATING, CHEAT MEALS, DIET, BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER, are those that immediately spring to mind in and around my own world....

I have been running a 'Veganuary' Facebook group (that I plan to continue so feel free to join) for those experimenting with a vegan lifestyle for the month of January, and now as we come to the end of the month I take time to reflect as I look ahead with curiosity to the next steps to be made by my group members.

LABELS... MAKE YOUR OWN AND WEAR THEM WITH PRIDE!

Take the pressure off having to be 100%, from having to conform to someone else's viewpoint, from having to explain yourself when your decisions do not accord with another's expectation of said label, from needing to fit a box, allow space to changing your mind and your honour your needs from one day to the next.

When it comes to 'breakfast', 'lunch' and 'dinner'... I often think these are the most detrimental labels of all. These are so deeply embedded. We all know that it varies widely with some people functioning better on two big meals and yet for others it's six smaller ones... that does not fit a label and nor should it have to.

I eat porridge for 'lunch' on a near daily basis... so what?

I often don't eat 'breakfast' until nearly midday... so what?

Strip back the labels to the essence of what lies beneath and explore that. Take what fits for you and leave behind what does not. Own your labels do not become a victim to them.

Step into life on your own terms. Fully and completely.

 



Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here you might like to check out my 'About' tab up top. To buy healthy nibbles you can also find me over at my sister site Wholeplus. 

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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