It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post – I’ve been having a year of transitions. I wrote a blog a year ago about letting go of our house and other things in order to downsize.
We’ve come a long way and are still navigating the journey. We handed over the keys to the new custodians of our old house last June, moved onto the boat, went to Germany and bought a motorhome, came home to Argyll and bought a small house which needs work, so we’ve been camping in the new house, travelling in the motorhome and learning how to sail with the cat on board. It sounds amazing – and it was – and I’ve learned a few things about myself…..
It’s an interesting thing, this peeling of layers, this journey with myself. A peeling of layers of stuff, of emotions, of my past – a time of digging deep, of experimenting and perhaps learning to forgive myself for not being perfect, for not living up to my own expectations.
Talking of moons and cycles, it’s now 2 years since my last physical cycle and nearly 4 years since I landed myself in hospital through losing too much blood (and I’m making no apologies for too much information – we need to talk about these things). I feel as though peri-menopause kicked me round the park – gifting me much insight and many opportunities to review who I really am, to prepare to transition from creatress to dark queen – that opposite of the bright maiden – and I’ve found it a time to reconnect a bit with some of my ideals and hopes and aspirations from that time. I reconnected with dance through my shakti dance training.
It’s now time though for me to own this dark queen aspect of myself – she takes no shit and she’s fed up with some of the baggage I like to hang on to – the old ways.
I have a fabulous life and the old ways are holding me back. Life is about exploring edges and I love this quote.
This is my failure party – a celebration of some of my failures and imperfections:
I am actually quite shy – I know I may not appear this – I’m forthright, I’ve had jobs that involve me chairing meetings, presenting at conferences, running training and workshops but yes, I am actually quite shy, especially in groups. Having chosen to listen to the criticism I received as a child, I am scared of stepping up, of being seen, of getting it wrong, of hurting feelings, of breaking things, of being too loud, of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, of being naïve and not tough enough. I also have an inner belief that it is not safe to be seen – this could be from the old adage – ‘children should be seen but not heard’ or perhaps it is an old pattern handed down the generations from ancestors from a time when it truly was not safe for them – I’ve been told that someone traced part of our family back to the Huguenots so perhaps being on the run was the only way to be safe; or perhaps it’s part of the collective we now call the witch wound – my husband reminds me that if I was born a couple of centuries ago I would have definitely been in line for a burning. Who knows? All I know is that this old way no longer serves me or others. I’m learning to show up – baby steps but I’m setting myself intentions and creating opportunities that allow me to do this.
I’m a bit of a people pleaser and a fixer. I want to say and do the right things and I want to help people when I can, even though me trying to fix things for others is not necessarily the best path for either them or me. I’m learning how to support without attempting to fix. I’m learning how to look after me first – I’ve been going to yoga classes for me, practising yoga just for me – mostly at the beach.
I’ve found teaching yoga quite terrifying at times – and still do. It’s like exposing a really personal side of myself – I don’t do that – and I’m learning to. Sharing spiritual stuff, hippy stuff, non tangible stuff – sharing this aspect is scary stuff to someone like me – I feel as though I will be judged for this even though I don’t actually care too much what others think – I guess the person judging is me – now where on earth did I learn to do that? That serves no-one, that path leads to shame and guilt. And while we’re at it, I recently realised that although I’ve thought I have fairly weak boundaries I actually have almost all or nothing boundaries. I can have walls up so high – trying not to show my imperfections – scared that if anyone looks too closely they’ll see I’m a fake, they’ll see I’m no good.
How do I show vulnerability? How do I really be my authentic self if I’m in hiding? This is why I need new ways.
I often encourage folks to shine their light, to stand in their power and to accept themselves as the wonderful beings that they are. And I’m a fraud – I’m not actually sure how to do this for myself. One thing I’ve discovered over the last few years is that even though I may know something – I don’t actually accept or be that thing – it’s like the thought has to drop in to my heart.
I have such a fear of not being perfect, not being good enough and such an expectation that I’ll have done something wrong, that if someone asks to have a chat with me I immediately think I’m about to get a row or called out on something – it’s like I have a permanently guilty conscience. This is a habit that absolutely no longer serves – I call upon Kali to slice her sword through that.
Learnings from a year of transition
I thought I was a nomad, I aspire to minimalism – less is more, I can travel light, I don’t need much stuff and my stuff doesn’t take up much room – pish!
I've come to the brutal realisation that I don’t travel light, I like my stuff – I like having stuff, I like using my stuff and having easy access to it, I need to know where it is – I like it to be organised, I like routine – I function better when I have routine.
- I like home comforts
- I like having space around me
- I’m not really very tidy although I would love to be
- I work with about 20 different projects on the go at any one time (I am making an effort to reduce this though)
And now I’m learning to accept that all of this is ok:
- It's ok to want to have some stuff, to be slightly over the top about wanting access to it, to know where it all is
- It's ok to want a routine
- And its ok to want to live in comfy surroundings
I’m perhaps not that much of a minimalist but I do function better with less and a simpler life – I’m learning to find the balance.
But this means we can focus on our moho travels and windsurfing and my yoga, without the guilt of leaving a boat on a mooring or out on the hard without purpose or use.
We’re reminding each other constantly that the house will be ready when it’s ready – that we don’t have to knock our pans in, that it’s ok to accept help and it’s ok to still go travelling – we’re off to Cornwall tomorrow – back into the moho and leaving the cat to guard the stove at home.
Cycles of Fire
Summer Solstice 2019
or the art of letting go....
Letting go of the house brings up many emotions - relief at not being responsible for my large garden, guilt and grief about leaving all my plants, loss of our comfortable home, loss of our identity that is wrapped up in a house we designed and spent many hours working on together. Shelter and home are directly linked to the root chakra - to not have this is ungrounding and can be very unsettling.
And yet, it is so exciting - another description of aparigrapha is non-attachment and so I'm learning to let go of expectations - the old story of who I thought I was - that I will live in one place forever, that I'm going to grow as much of our own food as possible blah blah. I'm not worried about the future - we are not really making ourselves homeless as we have our boat and van - our mini adventure pods. We have the skills to look after ourselves.
We will regain spaciousness to create more adventures without feeling torn about being away from home and coming back to overgrown vegetable beds.
ps Bill just read this and said
"it's not about the kit you are using - it's about using the kit"......
I’ve always loved essential oils – for me they are part of plant medicine – I love plants and love connecting with their very essence – through hanging out with them in my garden, growing herbs and drinking herbal tea, taking flower essences, and working with essential oils. I wholly believe that plants carry their own unique vibrations and love their place in my life.
As a woman of many talents ;) I can get very easily distracted – drawn to this, drawn to that – there are so many choices out there that it is hard not to have a go at all of them – which is fine but actually is exhausting and means I tend to be a ‘jill of all trades’ rather than settling and going deeper with one or two. And so it is with all the different ways with which to work with plants - perhaps it is time to focus more with the essential oils.
I kind of fell in to the Wellness Advocate thing – a friend and I got swept up in a wave of enthusiasm – doTERRA essential oils are gorgeous, certified therapeutic grade and not available except online or via a Wellness Advocate. However, doTERRA runs as a multi level marketing business and I’ve been shy about building it as a business. This means that I have taken this year to gradually begin to work with them in greater depth, experiment, build my own collection, share them with friends and get feedback.
One of the main reasons I got involved is I would love to use essential oils more in my yoga classes and workshops. May people don’t like the smoke from incense and find it irritating but I love using incense as a way to purify the air and cleanse the space both aromatically and energetically. Scented candles generally contain 'scent' or 'perfume' which are chemical based. But by working with essential oils in diffusers or a spray bottle I can gain the same effects and probably go further with different blends to link to the themes of the class.
During my year of experimenting, learning and taking things at an unhurried pace, I have discovered that I love working with the oils and am using them in many different ways. I've been diffusing different oils, experimenting with room spray blends, making my own natural cleaning products and taking some of the different doTERRA wellness supplements.
I've been sharing the experience with holiday guests at Elder Cottage (a gorgeous holiday cottage in Craobh Haven) using a diffuser to freshen the air, gifting tiny sample bottles as part of their welcome pack and using the natural cleaning products I've made to minimise use of chemicals.
A few weeks ago, I attended training for the doTERRA AromaTouch technique – this is an oil application technique involving 8 essential oils which can help relieve stress and support the body’s natural immune system. There is also a hand massage technique and we will be sharing this as part of lovely nurturing yoga workshops this autumn and winter. I am really excited to be able to share the oils in this way and I loved the training where we all received a treatment as well as learning the technique. I will be offering AromaTouch technique treatments from November onwards.
Please get in touch to find out more.......
Defining values and life purpose
At this time of equinox when the world is balanced between light and dark, day and night; and the wheel of the year turns to autumn and the trees show us the beautiful skill of letting go; I'm sharing some of my experience of seeking balance and learning to let go - the acceptance that although I could do lots of things, I can choose not to - staying in balance is more important than full on burn out. This for me is both learning for life and life long learning...
During the last winter and spring, I worked with a life coach. These 6 months brought me to a clearer path - it was intense, liberating, exhilarating, fear inducing, hard work and fun.
Prior to this I felt huge overwhelm, I couldn't focus, I've been 'tired' for years, always busy. I've been constantly seeking a simple life since my mid 20s. How come I'm not there yet? I would bemoan. It turned out that my constant business, tiredness, 'poor me' attitude is total avoidance. A way to feel accepted in this culture of doing and rush. Busy also means I can avoid taking responsibility. Not avoiding responsibility in the usual sense, but avoiding fully taking responsibility for myself - I had to realise that there was a little 'victim' me in the picture. At the time I wondered how come I 'knew' this stuff but didn't 'know' it really? The knowledge was in my head but it wasn't until the knowledge dropped in to my heart that I could actually begin to feel and truly understand. That word seeking is perhaps a clue - seeking instead of being.
One of the first things we looked at were my values - it is so much easier to prioritise when I view things through the lens of my values. It's kind of like getting my head out the road so my heart can see....
I want to share my values with you as these are also the values of Woodland Elements :)
After defining my values, we worked on a creating life purpose statement using words that carry deep meaning for me. Here is the result.
I feel I have my L plates on, I am practising my path of ease; my life of unbusyness and space - it's hard work, I know I will wander off and yet there are positive signs - I can begin to recognise when overwhelm threatens, when my diary starts to fill. I can take steps to catch myself gently and with compassion - this is a new skill, it takes time to nurture and practise.
I would recommend life coaching to everyone – Saskia, my coach and I agreed how we would work together and I learned much from her integrity, her boundaries and her example, she also called me out on my bullshit lol, often catching me as I drifted off in to story and guiding me back to focusing on the issues which is very good for me. My website and blog are part of the courage I found through her support and I've got a 6 month check in booked for next month. Saskia resides online at https://rawfreedom.co.uk
So, at the beginning of May this year was Scotland's first yoga and adventure festival - Scapafest - and it was held in Argyll. Such an opportunity right on my very own doorstep - yoga, sea kayaking, bushcraft and camp fires. Imagine that - my favourite passions in my favourite place. It would've been rude not to go......and yet, I nearly didn't. Here is my Scapa story...
Scapafest gave me so much - I made new friends, I shared amazing experiences and I learned lots about myself. By the end of the 3 days I knew I had regained something I had lost - I was changed - refreshed and full of wonder at the power of festivals, yoga and selfcare. Having injured myself a few weeks before, I was still practising yoga but pretty much from a chair, in a knee brace, unable to get off and on the floor - by the time I left Scapa, the knee brace was off and I had been able to practise a supported handstand (and I haven't even tried a handstand since primary school lol). I began to learn to look at my story from a different perspective. How did this happen?....
As I said, I nearly didn't go - I bought a ticket right at the last moment even though I had known about the event for ages. I remember seeing the early adverts on social media and thinking - yahoo. that sounds fabulous, that's exactly my kind of thing........ and then....... my ego got involved - my head was like - hey - who's this, why are they doing this here - I do this - this is my patch - who's coming to sit in my chair and eat my porridge..haha....And yet, of course, the reality is, I so don't do this - I don't set up big festivals, I don't take that risk, I wasn't even out there publicising that I teach paddlesports and yoga and love crafting and nature and, and..... And actually - what does it matter? It is funny this story, the goings on in my head.
All photos courtesy of Scapafest (except the ones of the trees)
Time is a funny thing. I turned round the other day and discovered that it’s 20 years since I was a Winston Churchill Travel Fellow. And so, I shall use this moment of nostalgia and amazement at the passing of time to reflect how this lifetime opportunity changed my life and continues to influence it to this day. Pull up a comfy chair, get a cup of tea - this is a long one. In short - the trip was EPIC.
What is a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship? These life-changing opportunities to travel and study are still available every year – check out www.wcmt.org.uk for more information.
All of these seem quite inconsequential now but at the time they were huge. And hilariously my report mentions me using the internet to do research on companies and email to contact them – I had even signed up for a Hotmail account. Jings! Imagine that. So much of what I take for granted today was new back then.
Most of my lasting memories are based around the people I met and the landscape in which I travelled. In looking back, I sometimes wonder how I found the courage to do what I did – not sure I could do that now, things like:
Driving from Toronto to Cape Breton and back via northern Ontario was a fabulous experience (including the breakdowns – the radiator blew up in the middle of Algonquin Park and the rear end fell off one night in Halifax – hey ho). These too became experiences – getting a new radiator built from scratch and the garage who ripped out the ignition so I could start the car with a screw driver as the key broke in it. I drove most of the way through Quebec in one go because although I reckon I could get by in French in terms of sorting out a campsite and coffee, French for my fan belt needs tightened was utterly beyond me.
The companies, the people and the landscape from this time continue to inspire me to this day. I learned loads about working with different groups on, in and around the water. I learned a lot about myself too including the 2 sides of travelling alone – I meet more people but visit less places with no-one to share the experience. On what sounds like a really shallow thing to say - I renewed my entire wardrobe – Mountain Equipment Co-op being my first experience of a big outdoor store and more importantly they made and sold kit and proper outdoor clothes made specifically for women – but this was revolutionary to me back then. In the past, I often struggled with the whole being a woman thing – often being driven to prove I can do something - feeling bound to that old adage of ‘you have to be twice as good as a man to be thought half as good’.
My jobs over the last 20 years have involved less water but still been based around landscapes and communities. Working for Community Woodlands Association took me to the 'real' Knoydart and the opportunity to support the wonderful Knoydart Forest Trust. Although not waterbased, the Trust and the whole peninsula is full of dedicated people, passionate about their community and their landscape. I love how transferable these qualities are.
It is fantastic to see the new paddlesports centre at Pinkston Basin, Glasgow – I like to think that somehow the aspirations of the Forth & Clyde Canal Community Project - we undertook a feasibility study for a watersports centre at Firhill Basin, tried to encourage polo pitches at Pinkston and took 100s of local we’ans paddling every year; and a report I produced when working for ROCK DCM on the social inclusion benefits of an artificial whitewater course may have had added some slight influence out in the ether, tee hee…
My paddling has mostly become confined to a hobby and yet still there are always opportunities – 10 summers ago I helped restart kayaking and canoeing as part of Craignish Boat Club. Again, the people involved are dedicated and passionate; and over the years we have shared the paddling experience with most of the children in the area. In 2016, the club was recognised as SCA (Scottish Canoe Association) club of the year which was a great boost to all of us. This summer, the club is out on the water without me – our newer, homegrown coaches and assistants now leading the way.
Where does time go? I am so grateful for the experience and opportunity this travel fellowship gave me even if I can’t quite believe that it is now ‘ancient history’ in the journey of my life. I am the sum of my experiences and yet I am not defined by them – they are only my interpretation of what happened. Stories, reflections and memories – snap shots of time. The experiences become part of the cells of my body and the stories part of my personal myth...
I am still working on becoming less of a burn out, stress head – still working on creating space in my life, letting go of old patterns of business although I do believe I have made some progress towards living my intentional path of ease. Inspired by the companies and people I met, I will remain forever passionate about creating opportunities for young people through watersports, landscapes and community.
Musings from wandering about woodlands, paddling in the sea and meditating by rivers ...