Humans of Wellbeing

By | Flow, Humans of Wellbeing, Pause, Wellbeing | No Comments

We relinquished the knots and unpicked the ties that bound us thread by thread, layer upon layer. Those knots, aches, and pains we felt often, the tension in the shoulders, the ache in the back and the neurotic tendencies to control and self-preserve with that nagging voice in our head telling us we are not enough. The one that told us to do more, get more, consume, buy, repeat, repeat, repeat.

We let go!

We realized those knots and ties were mythical in our mind. We fabricated layers to fill our gaps with momentary stuff. We got distracted.

We let go!

Well-being is personal to each and every one of us. In this short human race called life, we come to learn that we cannot buy it. We are it! Being well is a possibility, a perspective, a place within us all.

We take a momentary pause. It is always there, the rise and fall of our belly, the subtle sensation of our breath as it passes our nostrils, the desire for our body to move, explore, the mind to create and sense and our hearts to love and share.

The moment we look within, we will find it. What do I seek? How will I know? What do I need? Now is the time to be curious, patient and trust.

In this short human race called life, we let go, we find our flow in becoming a human of well-being.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.
–Lao Tzu

The Wilds Ones

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Nature lies within us all

The experience of being immersed in nature at its fullest is slowly beginning to teach me a lot about myself. The years of moving away from her, distancing and misaligning myself with the ebb and flow had taken its toll.

Over the last few years, following my ‘wake up’ call reminding me that life is not some dress rehearsal, or slumber to drift through, I’ve made some very different choices in life. The biggest decision came shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, within a few weeks our family home went up for sale. The practicalities of our decision made sense, yet it was the trees, golden fields, wild flowers and rolling hills that felt like a home that I needed to heal my sorrow and in time allow us all to flourish.

By the winter we were closing the door on one house and opening the door to the countryside and mother natures herself, who at that time had shed her leaves and settled into hibernation. I was starting to synchronise with her, without really knowing at the time.

What struck me in those early months was the sky by day and night! It looked so vast, and for the first time in my life, I noticed the sparkle of the stars in the dark sky, untouched by bright street lights. By day the birds would flutter and flap with intent, and as the evening drew closer, they would slow and quieten acknowledging day becoming night.

Over the course of those years, I have made unconscious choices that signalled to a more natural way of life. The garden was a blank canvas of grass, rolling into the surroundings of the rolling hills. We put up fences to give structure and boundaries, and I too started to recreate my own, when my mind was too loud, and darkness often graced it, I dug a garden path to help me find my way through. Chronic stress and anxiety plagued me in the summer, and I planted lavender to slow me down. I left the ‘corporate’ world in March of this year and started sowing seeds, seeds in my garden and new seeds that would help grow my own business.

Bare foot and bare faced a few months on, and the shock of coming out of the ‘corporate world’ that often dictates your rhythm of 9–5 was a shock to my system. For weeks I would sit at my kitchen table by 9 and work until 5. It was an interesting time for me to explore the pitfalls and positives of working in this way because now I had a choice: To work in the way I had always worked for 17 years or find a new way. I choose the latter with much resistance! I wanted a new rhythm and flow in the way of living and working and still, at this time I was unaware of how nature could guide me! I was drawn to the water, and for the first time in years, I started to swim. She works mysteriously, and I know now — I was finding my flow!

Each week I took to the water and swam up and down. In those moments I breathed deeper and made sense of what I wanted to do. Soon after I needed to find a new daily rhythm to compliment my flow, so I jumped on my bike and used the gears and pedals to guide me. My new working day started to unfold, and synchronicity emerged.

With a new rhythm and flow developing, I acknowledged the need to boost my inner belief and confidence that the work I am embarking on and dedicated to, like many others, is required by me too. There is room for us all.

As I begin to build a new a health movement in work and life for all those looking for another way, a healthier way, something bigger is needed to push me, support me and help me navigate how to land the change required.

The timing was perfect and over the course of a weekend I drove hours to the depths of Cornwall for a retreat ’The Wild Pause’ designed by Danielle Marchant, partnering with Ian Prickett, a well-respected Polar Explorer, who joined Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the world’s greatest living explorer, on the ‘Coldest Journey’ Expedition as the team’s engineer.

In my 38 years on this planet, I have never gone past my hips in the ocean — Yep that’s right! The deepest waters I have been in has been an indoor pool. As Danielle describes “… you will meet the wild one that lives inside of you. The silent risk taker, the inner rebel and the forgotten warrior”. I was ready to meet her (again) because now she was needed consistently and in a considerable way.

We ventured to the ocean, and for five hours we explored the coast line by Kayak and Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Boards. Being sat in a kayak felt relatively stable and comforting, yet the moment we were asked to switch over and head back, my legs trembled, and my body slumped. I choose the kneel down option initially while on the SUP board. Ian guided me and encouraged me to stand, and I realised my fear of standing in this vast ocean was no different to my fear of standing tall as a business owner and change-maker. Day one gave me perspective. The SUP was my stand point!

We gathered around the fire that evening, sharing stories and reflections of our day on the ocean and acknowledging the powerful lessons we learn in nature. Day two rolled in and we were all in for a surprise — two hours of coasteering. As we made our way to the rocks, I prayed my fingers and feet would always follow. Three-points of contact was the mantra in my head as we climbed, side stepped our way along. We got to our first ledge, and the height was relatively low, yet it was the depth of the ocean and the leap off that hustled my mind. I learned at that moment that when you take a leap, it is always more powerful to have cheerleaders and supportive faces around you. I looked down to see smiling faces beaming up and cheering me on, and I took my first leap!

Sinking, sinking, sinking in those few moments submerged in the unknown, not dissimilar to the feeling of following your heart and not knowing what will come of it. As I made my way back up to the water surface, I felt sheer exhilaration and pride. I can leap, and I will rise.

By complete immersion, I was beginning to tap into the wild one, the inner rebel, the forgotten warrior that Danielle had so eloquently described. Nature once again had supported me on a grand scale, and it does not surprise me to know that both earth and our bodies are approx. 70% water!

So if you have ventured this far in my blog and you too have lost your rhythm and flow and seeking to thrive, then turn to Mother Nature and let her guide you. Surround yourself with her and watch with care.

If you need flow, take to the water, if you are seeking rhythm, pay attention to the seasons, align to them and do something that has a rhythm. It may be playing music, banging a drum, taking a walk, bike ride, or a gentle run.

Be a wild one too!

Why 10 days of silence felt loud!

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I went for peace & became more productive

As I sat in the hall on the fourth day, you could hear a needle drop, yet in my head, the big band were only just getting started, and the constant beat of thoughts was creating a ripple effect of how I sat in stillness.
The decision to go was not something I took lightly. In fact, at the time I felt I was under immense pressure at work, experiencing daily panic attacks and suffering from chronic stress. On top of that, I was trying to be a great wife, mother and friend with barely enough energy for all. Something had to change. I went to learn, to change my mindset and to experience something that is rare — slowing down!

– You’re irresponsible; you won’t stick at this, you’re going crazy, you’re too trusting, run away, get out, get out, get out!

As I rolled into day six, the band was in full swing, and I wanted to throw in the towel, or cushion I had been perched on for 6 hours each day. I was distressed and confused. I had gone expecting to find peace through slowing down, yet it was, even more, louder in the slow lane. I scribbled frantically in the writing pad by the hall entrance to seek support from one the team. Within moments of writing it, I was approached and helped, Anna helped me make sense of what was going on in my mind, and at that moment the shift took place.

“You get to a place where you begin to be guided by something greater than yourself. You stop fighting and striving (indeed the need to expend this type of energy is often a strong indicator that you are not in flow and where you are meant to be) and instead, surrender to your higher purpose and be guided from there, allowing things to happen, trusting in source, focusing on your why and letting go of the how…”
― Wayne W. Dyer, The Shift: Taking Your Life from Ambition to Meaning

My inner dialogue that had been faint, yet humming in the background for years, often blurring into the hyperconnected web of life was now fully present and at maximum volume. It had my attention, and my role was to sit with it for the next four days and not react. Walk a little slower, explore this noise and create a new melody.

On day ten I stepped out the meditation hall with belief and relief. As I drove through the tranquil valley on the edge of the North York Moors National Park back home, the world looked and felt very different. My awareness within was now reflected in the outer world.

The days that following was about integrating back into the hustle and bustle of day to day life and at times, the overload of my senses. I did this gradually, yet the smell of paint fumes, to my surprise, was the hidden secret of those ten days in silence. I stood proudly in my newly decorated bedroom. What usually have taken two days had taken me half a day. I was surprised by the level of focus and flow, but not as surprised as my husband who thought I had got decorators in!

So when I need to boost my productivity, focus and flow, I minimise the distractions from the outer world and explore what is going on inside.

Being in the flow

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Using our senses to navigate our way of being

Everything in life needs to flow. At this very moment you are in a natural relationship with the flow, and despite the flux, you naturally have the abilities to guide and choose your next move.

The flux can often become our crux of the very thing that allows us all flow.

Flow is undeniable in its energy and movement. Flow doesn’t need to force, push or try harder; it circulates, slides and glides while helping us make our strides. Flow is a natural state, a way of being, despite the pressures and stresses of life, full of endless possibilities and potential.

In many Eastern traditions, flow is a form of energy. From my studies in Yoga, the Sanskrit word and is derived from the root nad, which means “flow”, “motion”, or “vibration”. Identified in many Tantric texts, the human body consists of 72,000, or more nadis that provide universal energy (prana) to every cell in the human body. When the nadi system flows freely we are healthy and well, yet when it becomes weak and congested, we struggle with poor mental and physical health.

How is your flow? 

Are you working too hard? Tangled up in thoughts and to-do lists? Working daily to land that deal, or seek that decision, Do you feel fatigued by your day and often hijack your meals with coffee and snack bars (and that’s when you remember to eat!)?

It’s time to plug into your natural abilities and guide yourself back to the choices you always have:
– Choose an optimal choice that brings flow (e.g. set a daily routine for when you eat, sleep, etc…)
– Choose a suboptimal choice that forces, or diverts flow (e.g. eat on the move, or when you can squeeze it in, while sat at the desk of course!)
– Don’t make a choice and run the risk of becoming stuck

Now stand up and take a closer look our your window and notice the flow happening — traffic, people, nature, the time of day. Pause a little. What do you notice? Use all of your senses.

Next turn your attention to your resources — time, energy and money. Where are you investing these to support your flow, or where are you not? Your legacy to be well, feel well and do well in all aspects of your life is synonymous with your reality.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

If you feel you’ve strayed from your flow, reached a transitional period in your life, or strive for better balance in work and life then invest in harmonising your natural rhythms first — sleep, eat, move and most importantly rest.
Your ability to recognise and change how you perform, make decisions, listen, focus and succeed are all based on your flow, except don’t find your flow, get in your flow.

 

Three steps to get into your flow:

  1. What do you love? Or what’s your ambition in life?
  2. Plot your daily rhythm – Grab a piece of paper and draw a horizontal time line from 6 am today, to 6 am the tomorrow, or use your calendar. Block out time for sleeping, eating, moving, resting and relaxing (note — relaxing is not sat in front of the TV every night! — let’s save that for another blog!)
  3. Now reflect on what resources (time, energy, money) you current invest in your dream, or ambition on a daily, or weekly basis and how much is achievable for you to do going forwards?

“The idea flow from the human spirit is absolutely unlimited. All you have to do is tap into that well. I don’t like to use the word efficiency. It’s creativity. It’s a belief that every person count”.

– Jack Welch

The Hopeless Wanderer

By | Being Present, Bereavement, Pause, Wellbeing | No Comments

The search and quest to find ‘me’ in my forest of thoughts

“You heard my voice I came out of the woods by choice
Shelter also gave their shade
But in the dark, I have no name”
– Hopeless Wanderer, by Mumford and Sons

Over 14 years ago my beautiful mum lost her battle to breast cancer and I sadly watched her slip away as she took her last breath. I took on the role of ‘be strong’ for everyone. I felt it was my duty to mum & my broken family. I became a serial perfectionist, control freak, strived for achievement no matter how much strain it put me under… And looking back now, hindsight is a great thing, I was the sole contributor to it all!

After an enlightening holiday to Australia in 2013, some nine years after my mums passing, I realised I had been running from bereavement for so long and only last week I was reminded of this when I listened to Prince Harry share his own personal experience of losing his mother and the impact it had on his own health. I must admit listening to him helped me appreciate that I am ‘normal’ and bereavement really has no timeline, textbook approach and differs for each and every one of us. Sometimes the pain of accepting it is too much to bear and no ‘bereavement curve’ is going to get you there quicker.

Over that long block of time in my life, I found it easier to distract myself, although I wasn’t aware that I was actually doing that for years. My distractions went from minimal chores to significant changes — moving house 3 months after mums passing (so we had a house big enough to host a family Christmas!), cramming work hours into my week until I was too exhausted to do anymore, fundraising and organising charity balls to bring something good out of the mess of losing my mother.

Like many people that lose a parent, you eventually arrive at significant family occasions where their physical presence is hugely missed and my wedding day, birth of our daughter, birthdays and ‘Mothers Day’ are moments when I have and still feel unsteady on my feet and mind, often wishing to embrace the moment and also get through the day/event as quickly as possible without tears of the special memory not being shared with her.

What are you running from, or what are you running to?

Wandering in Manly above the trees! — Sonia and I

This powerful question was left rattling around in my head and I got curious. In March 2016, on top of a mighty hill not far from Manly Wharf and for the first time in ten years, I got perspective, I slowed down, relaxed, ‘paused’, practised yoga, walked and spent deep quality time together as a family.

Three weeks allowed for this and I will always be eternally grateful for that opportunity to visit a beautiful country and the special memories I am left with and the rituals I have embedded into my life to this very day.

Each day I remind myself to be more present, to count my blessings, to be cool with the ‘lack of control’ with life! I’m by no means saying “I’ve cracked it”, I still have my wobbly days, but every day I try, and the days I don’t succeed, I notice and acknowledge it. After all, perfection is an unattainable goal and the moment I think I have ‘cracked it’ will probably be a sign that I stepped back into the woods again!

Notice, what you notice!

My family, friends, early morning meditation and yoga, walking, daily moments to pause and good food are the gifts to me each day to be well. Being well is a daily practice for us all.

Manly Beach — Beach Wandering!

As they say in Manly (well my brother does!) Live. Love. Smile — What great advice!