What is going on in my life right now from so many directions is so painful I cannot share it here. As I write tears again stream down my face. I am at a point that every aspect of my life has been turned upside down from work home family and friends nothing will again be as it was before. I am grieving and it hurts hard. As a really positive can do individual however challenging life gets I can always see a glimmer of hope but feeling so distressed and crying so much means I am having to look really hard for that glimmer of hope.
I am weary with the grief of it all. This year feels that every time I have dared to celebrate life and feel good then some other major miserable hard challenge has come crashing into me. I pick myself dust myself down only to be knocked down again. I know that at this very moment in time the tears are good and I need to grieve. I am struggling to find any kind of meaning in what is happening to me but what I am finding myself doing is reading and writing, talking to wise caring friends and trying to seek meaning and some direction to go on.
I have now stood still and I am crashing down from flying high as superwoman the wonder woman who can fix everything. This woman has lost her cloak of hope and is empty of energy and solutions. I can never stop giving it goes on and on from smallish boy to smallish step girl to next work project to giving and organising lifts to dance workshops, to dropping stuff off, to listening to friend in crisis, to caring for elderly Mum, writing large boys CV, to earning the money needed to put food on table the list goes on and on. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told to focus on self-care and looking after me but each time something blocks or overtakes all the energy I have.
I can’t work out how other folk do it. There does seem to be folk though who manage to trip through life making sure their needs are met in a way I find so tricky to comprehend. My life is always complicated and always someone or something needs something from me. I am realising I have no idea how to put myself first. Actually that is not true. I tried really hard to do this on our wedding day. In the doom and gloom thinking of my wedding day feels me with colour and brightness and joy. But if I was to tell you that weeks before and after wedding I was doing over 40 hours a week at work trying to deliver a challenging organisational restructure, I was at a formal appeals panel two days before my wedding and doing hands on care the day after and cleaning bathrooms the day after that you will see the challenge there was to overcome? For us no honeymoon, no chance to share some quality time together as a couple no we are back on sorting out everyone else’s needs.
Even writing this makes me feel bad. I know some other people who have worse challenges than me and I should stop moaning. Even when I went to the GP I felt guilty for asking for time off from work to recover! This is time off from an organisation that has had me working over 40 hours a week and then has not given me a job in the new restructure and has completely and utterly worn me out so I have lost my sense of professional self. I feel guilty about taking time off to care for me ? You have to remember I am superwoman and I am the strong woman with strong sense of self who never falls over. I feel guilty and bad that I have failed and am admitting defeat.
I am sat here now consciously remembering the number of times I have been told of the need to take care of me. I have had healers, doctors, friends, coaches and family all tell me this. The thing is I do try. But to carve out an hours dance practice results in a blended family drama, or more chores left to do later. An afternoon out means a stressful drive to school pick up, a weekend off means a long drive on M5 to go care for elderly Mum. It is just not easy, so many aspects of my life I cannot say no.
The big one as well is that I have to earn money. Not pocket money I am not a lady who lunches but I have to earn a significant amount of money to contribute to keep the roof over our heads and the family show on the road. This is a biggy for me as when I read the touchy feely stuff about self-care people don’t seem to lead the life I lead. When I think about life changes it always comes back to how can I earn enough money? This needs clarification. I have worked part time for work life balance to bring up large and not so small boys. To do this poverty sat right behind me every step of the way. I was supported by my loving Mum but most of my life I worried about money. For last two years working fulltime has giving me respite from money worry and allowed us to do some happy things like travel but as I have described it has come at a cost to me. Work life balance means earning money and choices are compromised whilst you bring up children and put them first. It is also worth noting that a lot of our resources in the last year have flown out to support others.
I am trying however not to moan but to write it as it is. This way I can own it and try and find a different direction to move on. Something has to change and owning where I am at has to be start. Even at this point there is family stuff going on that I have to pull together, sort out and try and get going. Blended families are such a challenge and yes I shall admit really hard work. I am the glue that keeps us all together and this takes effort and energy. Even now I am fighting to find some headspace as well as time for me. Folk tell me to do this and we all know what I need to do but it is the how that is proving challenging.
So I am writing this out as reflection looking at all that has gone on and wanting to capture some glimmers of hope. Or indeed some way of making sense of where I am in my world and if there is possibility of a different way. So even though I am laid out on the floor crying here are some things and stuff that I have been given or experienced in recent weeks that I have started to think about. Here are some events and information that others have shared I am using to try and make sense of where I am at and the how to move on:
I arrived at The WME coaching conference at real low ebb. I love coaching and mentoring and am passionate about being a coach and John Blakey woke me up by talking about a “trust vacuum”. He said that organisations both public and corporate have lost the trust of the people hence the reason for Brexit and Trump being voted in. For me it resonated in the stress caused by working in an organisation that has a trust crisis when everything is shifting in restructure, where there is nothing or no one to place trust in anymore.
John however gives us hope he talks of Trust becoming the new glue for society and organisations. He cites trustworthiness as an organisational lead aspiration, and offers 9 habits as practical tool:
Ability – to deliver to coach to be consistent
Integrity- Be honest be open be humble
Benevolence – evangelise (spread good news) be brave be kind
You can explore more of this at John’s website:
For me this was self-affirming. Personally and professionally I could describe these 9 habits as what I fundamentally believe in. Such as shame as there was no opportunity to explore this way of working at recent job interview but perhaps a reality check that it is time to move on.
Then late afternoon just as I am preparing to leave this woman gets up and starts talking about selfcare. I am reading my notes on her presentation:
“Life is a work in progress” “What are we doing? And big style: SELF CARE IS A PRIORITY. She went onto challenge us about what are restorative practices and indeed how did we cultivate emotional resilience?
I shelved these notes and scribbles from this day to read now. Away from job interviews and deadlines I have time to ponder and reflect. Yes Jackee gave me yet another wakeup call regarding self-care. She also gave me some validation. At meetings and when I am out and about I use notebooks. I write notes, ideas, record information and doodle and draw pictures in my notebook. This is often when others are sitting behind screens and laptops answering emails. Even when listening to Jackee and John’s presentations there are doodles on the page! What Jackee encourages is do more notes more doodling more ideas, use writing and doodling as part of your self-care!
I loved Jackee’s ideas and have started to read her books you can read more about her here:
Dancing and Collective Soul One weekend
Earlier in the year I signed up for Collective Soul One; a weekend dance course with Deirdre Macdonald. I knew I would be learning and developing Paulette Rees Davis’ Gypsy Caravan dance format and I was interested in trying a new dance style and approach to dance. To be honest I had lost my dance mojo so I had been a bit random signing up to this thinking it may re spark some dance inspiration.
Before the course I read some of Paulette’s books and listened to music and followed some videos. You can find out more from Paulette’s website:
But interesting about this weekend was that both Paulette and Deirdre are coaches so an immediate connection into a way of thinking that I have passion for, I found this so affirming. I enjoyed the straightforwardness of connecting into dance. I have been overthinking it I just need to dance with lovely women and Gypsy Caravan format is giving me a framework to do this. What I really liked is Paulette’s approach of respectfully learning from women’s dances of past and present and creating a new aesthetic, a new dance for women of the 21st century.
The weekend also quietly called to me about self-care. Where is my moment of stillness? I have taken from this Morning pages and have consistently written in the last month anything and everything. It has quietly woken my creative soul of which I am placing a little hope that it will support me to get out of this mess I find me in.
Deirdre also quietly gave me a wakeup call that weekend. She noted that in the external world I was struggling and was able to give me some pointers to start to walk away from the layers of stress work is causing me and reconnection into the skills and talents I have.
As well as a dancer Deirdre is a talented coach and creative problem solver you can find more about her here:
The irony is not lost on me her website is called limits and choices!
The other thing about undertaking the Collective Soul One for me is a reconnection into Jude the creative one, the girl who likes making and creating stuff. I also passed and was so excited to get all my Arabic rhythms correct! This is now taking me on a new dance journey where I can quietly and gently dance to the beat of the drum.
So this week in between the tears I have had my notebook out. I have stuck to my morning pages and done them every day, writing any old ramblings that pour out of my head. I have attempted to sit still at least for ten minutes and tried to still my mind of “Mrs who does she think she is” thoughts. I have danced alone and with friend and played my drum. I have met up with wise and wonderful women who have listened and shared my sorrow, validated my feelings and importantly not offered any “you should do” advice.
I will keep crying as I am sad. But that is okay. I will sit. I will wait. I will dance drum and dream, creating notes and doodles in my notebook. Then hopefully I may be ready to make my dreams a reality.