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Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Starting 2019 intentionally

Like with anything social media has its up and down sides but what I’ve really appreciated this January is all the reminders I’m seeing about it being ok to take the winter months slowly. And it makes total sense!

Have you noticed during the darker, colder months it’s not only so hard to get out of bed in the mornings but naturally you might not feel like going out so much. We might prefer to cosy up in the evening and keep warm, slow down and generally lead a quieter life. It’s ironic that Christmas, one of the busiest times, occurs during these slower months!

But this year I’m seeing January differently. For some it’s a month of cold and nothing...perhaps you feel down as you return to work and try to set aspirations for the year that might seem impossible. This is where intentions can be tricky because I believe our bodies aren’t always ready for so much ‘doing’. I’ve found a little voice in my head urging me to ‘go go go’ to try and keep up with the pace of others who seem to be creating and achieving amazing things. But deep down I know I have to go at my own pace.  It's so important to listen to ourselves and not feel the need to keep up with everyone else - it never brings you any true joy when you try to be something you're not.
So I’ve eased in to January slowly, whilst making some intentions for the year ahead. The action part will come but I’m going gently and being kind to myself when my body tells me I want to detach a bit from the January goal-setting madness. Self-kindness is SO important.

 How much of the time do you spend self criticising and having a go at yourself in your head? You aren’t doing enough and so-and-so is way ahead and you’ll never get anywhere in life if you don’t get a move on! I’ve been there and still do get the niggly head shouting at me BUT I’ve learned to thank my ego for coming to remind me of the things that I want to do and I tell her that I’ve got this sorted thank you ;-)

What I did decide at the beginning of the year is that 2019 needs some focus if I don’t want to end the year feeling like it passed me by in a flash and I hadn’t been certain of what I wanted to achieve. I’ve realised that without some clear intentions (and I’m talking very specific here), it’s hard to reach where you want to. I’m not talking about pushing and hustling and being a go-getter because I’m always going to want to approach my life in my own, steady way. But intention setting and then carrying out on the action needed to make these things happen is kind of my goal for the year.
So I have picked a word for 2019 that would help me focus this year. I thought about what it is I want to do and how I want to feel. I looked at where I struggle the most. So my word is SIMPLIFY.

This is in the sense of really committing to what it is I want in my life. Keeping decision making quick and purposeful. Not getting bogged down in details that stop me from living the life that I want to – and cause me much added internal stress! And this has so far helped me so much to focus in January. When things get dodgy (and I’ve had a couple of tricky decisions to make already) I come back to this word and check in with whether my values and feelings are in tune with it. This word is so important to where I’m at right now and the person I am stepping in to.
AND in the last week I’ve decided to add another word to keep me focused and that is COURAGE.


Because saying yes to things and believing in myself is another hurdle to get over some days. Courage to speak out, courage to say yes, courage to say no, courage to put myself first, courage to check out if I need it, courage to take the adventure, courage to forge in to the unknown, courage to make a mistake, courage to just be me!
And this year I fully intend to make the most of life, make some of my dreams and intentions become a reality and more than anything to have fun :-)

 Signature - Gemma

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Creating space can be a game changer

I lOVE to declutter. I’m on a constant drive towards simplifying my life, and one way for me is to minimise the stuff I have in my space.  Not just physical stuff, you know, those old CDs that will never be played in a million years – U2 I still love you but now prefer to watch you on You tube or listen on Spotify.  My old CDs are not going to be played and are just clutter filling an empty shelf.  I also have dozens of books gathering dust - though for me these are harder to let go of  :) .

There’s also the electronic clutter – those 1000s of old emails you’ve never deleted or scores of old files and folders on your laptop.  Are they not only taking up valuable space but also annoying you by simply existing?! Will I ever teach the free will vs determinism debate again??!! I think not. These old files have got to go!

Releasing this physical and electronic clutter does more than opening up space in your house or freeing up data, it works profoundly on an energetic level too.

Let’s not forget. We are beings of energy not just physical bodies and personalities. We are made of the same stuff as everything you see around you.  So freeing up the flow of energy in your space, whether physical or electronic stuff and releasing the stuck energy that may be unknowingly draining you can make space for something new to come in.

It’s the stuff you can’t see that often has the biggest impact on your energy – the stuff stored in your head.  Most of which we don’t even know we’re holding onto.  But is in fact holding us back. Outdated attitudes and beliefs that no longer fit where you are now, this accumulation of thoughts and old conditioning (conscious or unconscious) if released,  can create space in more ways than you would imagine.

If there is something you want to bring into your life, creating the energetic space for it can make a huge difference in terms of your alignment and readiness to receive. The emotional pull to hold on to something can be very strong, but ask yourself honestly, would you rather have something new and vibrant in your life, more in tune with your current state of alignment?  Making space, physical or otherwise is key to inviting in the new.

As an energy healer I once worked with a lady who had tried countless times to have a family - IVF, adoption – but nothing seemed to go right. The IVF failed and numerous attempts at adopting children fell through at the last minute.  She had resigned herself to giving up her dream of having a family and had decided that If the latest attempt fell through again, that was it. She and her husband would put their energy into creating a wonderful life without children.  While I was talking to her, it suddenly occurred to me, had she created space for this new family to come in?  We did some energy work there and then to create space for these children – there was nothing to lose by trying something completely different and I simply trusted that whatever the outcome, it would be in the highest interests of all concerned.

One week later she emailed me - the adoption was going through and the children were about to arrive into their family!  A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I was completely blown away.   Obviously I can’t ever know if this exercise really had anything to do with the arrival of much wanted children, and whether it was a complete coincidence that all the dots lined up for them at that time, but I do hold this example up as a testimony to the nature of infinite possibilities. The power of intention, clearing energy and making space for what you want to come into your life and the power of the human spirit to create a positive outcome for the highest good of all involved.

So for me, letting go and making space is a constant presence in my life and I know, if I feel stuck around something, whether a decision to make or a problem to solve, the answer is to stop and free up some energy and in that easier, calmer space, clarity will emerge to provide a resolution.

Try it - where could you use more space in your life?

Shirley x

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Everything you want is on the other side of fear

For most of my life I’ve kept myself small.  When fear came up I’d do all I could to stop myself feeling it as it was so uncomfortable.  I’d create stories I’d tell myself about the type of person I was and what I could achieve, I’d avoid certain situations and opportunities so that I didn’t have to go through the experience of extreme discomfort and even terror. I kept myself small and limited.
Of course there were times I stepped out of my comfort zone.  One being the decision to train to teach.  Yes I loved my subject and I felt drawn to learning how to teach it and through a number of synchronistic events, much to my amazement, I found myself on a prestigious teaching programme. The joy of that achievement was swiftly replaced with extreme fear from the actual act of getting in the classroom and the daunting experience of pretending I knew what I was doing in front of a bunch of 16 ad 17 year olds.  So many times I cried on the way to the college I had my work placement in.   I lived in a constant state of fear.  So many times I was going to give up – such was the challenge of standing up, teaching content I hadn’t come across before and managing a lively class of teenagers, most of whom were not interested in the subject.  I was mentally and physically exhausted.  But I pushed through and achieved my dream.
I felt I had really achieved something.  For me.  I felt empowered.
Everything I wanted was on the other side of fear.
The thing is, when you sit with the fear, when you come to realise that it’s keeping you small, you may find it’s stopping you from speaking your truth, from aligning with your heart’s desires, from taking up opportunities offered to you that could make a difference in your life and in the lives of others.    Sometimes the only thing to do is to do things differently.  Make that decision.  Take the plunge and go through the fear.     You may be very glad that you did.
‘In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make’  - Lewis Carroll.
If not now,  when?
Of course it doesn’t mean I’ve conquered fear.  It’s a natural human emotional response designed to protect us.   We tend to think of it in negative terms but fear can also make you feel alive, exhilarated – think scary rides!
One thing I do know is that if you can break through in the times you realise you are holding yourself back or keeping yourself small,  you will feel stronger, more capable and empowered.
Don't let fear stop you from being the person you always wanted to be.
Don't let fear stop you from living the life you have always wanted to live.
Don't let fear stop you from living your heart's desires.
Try it, feel the fear - and do it anyway - see where it takes you next.
Shirley x
'Its impossible'said pride.'Tt's risky'said experience.'It's pointless'said reason.'Give it a try'whispered the heart.(Unknown)

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The path to being seen and heard can be a long and winding road.

‘Children should be seen and not heard’….. As a child of the 1950s and 60s this view, although even then considered out dated, was still prevalent.  I certainly felt that in schools which, for me, were a fearful place to be in.   I certainly did not want to speak out and did my best to be as invisible as possible.  In that way I could protect myself and avoid trouble.

I would be the last to put up my hand in class to answer a question for fear of getting it wrong – teachers were quite aggressive and sarcastic in those days – adept at humiliation. Powerful strategies for silencing children.

There was a constant pressure to ‘be good’.  Monday to Friday in school and on Sunday there was Sunday school.  A huge amount of conditioning goes into a Christian upbringing – parental expectations were high and moral education handed over to religion. You definitely weren’t expected to express opinions, that would be frowned upon. There were many authority figures to challenge you.

The continual reinforcement of outdated attitudes and beliefs, going back generations.
Being quiet and good was expected for a girl. ‘Sugar and spice and all things nice’ – yes well, a lot to live up to. Not a lot was expected of girls in the 50s and early 60s.

The attitudes of not speaking up and being invisible do impact me still today.  I have spent the last couple of decades actively dealing with the fall out of these defensive practices and trying to push myself forward to speak up and be visible.   I have made significant inroads through countless personal and spiritual development courses and energetic healing practices but the programming is deep and sometimes persists.

The resistance that shows up from past conditioning is challenging but not impossible to overcome.
The fact that in my 40s I trained as a teacher and spent around 15 years teaching is testimony to that.
Although for most of those 15 years I felt a fraud.  I felt an imposter, I didn’t know enough, on paper my degree and teacher training showed me I was well qualified but I didn’t feel it and used every negative experience in the classroom to reinforce that attitude. It was only during my final year of teaching that I stopped comparing myself with everyone else and made peace with the fact that I had something useful to contribute to my students’ experience and that was good enough.

When I look at why I’ve continued to subdue my voice, and fear stepping forward and being known, there are several strands of thinking in the mix.

I’m afraid of getting it wrong.

As a child I did experience feeling silly, embarrassed, humiliated when at times I did get things wrong, particularly at school. Miscommunication or a child’s lack of understanding about a task – not tolerated so well years ago.  Thankfully (hopefully) today the education system is a little more tolerant. The same feelings will still show up as an adult – not all the time – but the fear hovers in the background.

If I get it wrong, the adult me knows it’s not the end of the world – but the inner child part of me fears feeling an idiot, fears rejection, fears she won’t be liked.  For her it is the end of the world and will she be brave enough to take the risk and speak up?   Speaking up means she’ll be noticed. She’ll become visible.

If I get something wrong, I’ll lose credibility and respect.  That was a big one for me as a teacher and it took a good few years for me to relax in the classroom enough to know that ‘not knowing’ was a great opportunity for whole class research to find the answer.  I taught psychology – how ABSURD to expect myself to know EVERYTHING about psychology?!

Letting the world know what I think means I’ll be judged and potentially criticised.  I might annoy or anger someone who may not be afraid of speaking out so it feels like an unsafe space to put myself in, so best stay quiet.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even me.  We all see the world through our own perceptions and experiences – why would be all think the same?

Learning to trust myself to be able to deal with the fallout and to feel confident to stand my ground if necessary – is an ongoing lesson.

As a child I learned to wait for others to speak first so I could judge what a right opinion or attitude might be.  I may not have been in alignment with their opinion but I could choose to agree so I didn’t stand out or I could simply say nothing.

My assumption was that others knew better.   Something I fall back into all too easily.
Perhaps it is not surprising I learned to be a listener instead of a speaker.

I am getting there, however, I am gradually releasing those invisible chains and am determined to open up to a bolder voice.   This comes from a deep place of knowing.   An authentic space of openness and vulnerability, of love and connection to express what is in my heart and to truly serve the best way I can.  For this to happen, I need to be visible.  People need to know where to find me – I cannot stay hidden in the shadows without a voice.

‘Children should be seen and not heard’… seems I neither wanted to be seen nor heard!  But we are not victims of our childhood, we can use our memories to inspire us to move forward. The journey home has been a long, winding road but, finally, I now have the key to the door.

Shirley x

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Just be yourself

I love this quote and wanted to share this with you today.    I wish I’d seen inspiring words like this when I was a bit younger.  I spent many years wondering why I felt different from everyone else – it didn’t feel as though I could fit in anywhere.  I stifled who I knew in my heart I was in an effort to fit in with others’ expectations of me.   In essence, I became a smaller version of who I could be.

It’s taken a long time but I now know and appreciate the fact I’m not mainstream – I make no apologies for that.  I have all kinds of perhaps unusual (to some) interests and I follow these with curiosity and passion.  Yes, I love to hug trees - the vibrant energy emanating from trees is something to be experienced,  it's very grounding and I love it.  I love to make sense of my world, and receive guidance,  by meditating and journaling.   I love to both give and receive energy healing and I'm fascinated with all things metaphysical and other worldly.   I love to holiday alone on remote Scottish islands where I spend all my time walking, beach combing  and connecting with nature.

I’ve finally given myself permission to live in a way that is authentic to what I know in my heart to be true and what feels right for me.

As I age, an inescapable fact for those of us fortunate enough to do so, who I believe myself to be changes as I naturally grow and evolve – as we all do.  I overheard a conversation on the radio as I was driving yesterday, which prompted this blog, where an older lady was saying how she had things in her wardrobe she didn’t feel she ‘should’ wear for fear of being labelled as ‘mutton dressed as lamb’.   This was a real dilemma for her.

Mutton dressed as lamb is a really old phrase dating back to the 19th century – but surprisingly still prevalent in our cultural thinking, and certainly alive in the media – showing the longevity and impact phrases can have in the way we choose to live our lives.    In this case those invisible rules around how an older woman should look or the way she ‘should’ conduct herself.

Naturally that got me thinking about how I show up in life and how much unconscious conditioning I may be responding to in my choices about what I wear, where I shop and even how I look.  Indeed, who is driving my bus?!  What invisible rules am I responding to in the choices I make about what to wear, how to style my hair and how to act as a 61 year old.

I'm fully aware that the thinking around what you should or shouldn't wear can happen at a much younger age too - particularly as we take on roles in life such as mother or even a young grandmother.  This can influence our perception around who we think we are - or worse still, we lose sight of the real 'us' as we become more identified with the roles we play.

The question is,  am I making heart centered choices that are authentically mine or am I being influenced by societal expectations?   Food for thought. I was a bit of a rebel in my younger days and now I find I am returning to that mindset.

Give yourself permission to listen to your heart, to just be yourself. Let people see the real, imperfect, flawed, quirky, weird, beautiful, magical, person that you are.

This applies to all of us – we are all affected by the modern day memes floating about on social media.  All that noise is more than capable of drowning out the whispers from our heart.
So are you proud of who you are?  Are you being yourself?  Who’s voice are you listening to when you make decisions about your life?

Remember, it's time to be proud of who you are and give yourself permission to be wholeheartedly you.

Shirley x

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Encouraging gift ideas for busy Mums

It's another snow day here in Essex!  I have been enjoying the quiet time at home (there have of course been a few arguments but overall it's been good!).  It is near on impossible to work with the children around but for some reason, I feel like I've gotten quite a bit down on paper, at least!  The trick I find is to grab 2 minute moments where I can.  So while they are playing or after I've spent some time with them, I cease the moment and get writing or planning!  It feels like I'm not moving anywhere fast but actually, when you can focus a little, all those minutes add up.

I thought I'd jump on this afternoon and show you some alternative Mother's Day gift ideas that are in our shop now!  There's only a few days to order as we need time to prepare and post them out to you.  As a rule we don't make items especially for occasions but I think these boxes are just perfect for busy Mums.

We have 2 types in the shop currently; Self care and encouragement and Bloom from within.  The self care box is aimed at reminding the recipient of how important they are.


It's very easy (whether you are a busy Mum or not) to put ourselves and our own needs at the bottom of the pile.  I do it myself, all the time.  The more we remind ourselves of our importance in our families, the more we realise that everything often functions around us!  When our needs aren't being met, it's so much harder to deal with juggling everything else in our lives.  We hope that our box filled with uplifting stationery and artwork will inspire a few Mums out there to look at where they can start to put their needs first.

Our second and most recent design is Bloom from within.


This box differs slightly in that the contents are aimed at boosting self esteem and confidence.  Again these messages can benefit us all.  But as Mums we get so caught up in the demands of our families that it's very easy to all of a sudden wonder who we are, where She went and how to possibly get back to the place we were at before children?!  Perhaps confidence was never high, but again, the best place to start is here.  Knowing that you want to make a change and being inspired enough to start.

Maybe you have a stationery loving Mum?  I know I do!  I don't think you can ever have enough notebooks when you love to get organised and make lists.  (My problem is more remember to look at all the lists I make!)  We've 2 brand new notebook designs in the shop, both printed from our original artwork as always:

And back in stock are our popular motivational quote pencils!  The rainbow of colour is so welcome at the moment and they really are the most happy treat, containing the perfect encouraging words.  We like to think they are something a bit different too and we've sold many of these as gifts! We also sell a sea-themed set and if you've followed us for a while you'll know how much we love the sea.   

Finally, (because otherwise this could go on forever with possibilities) we've bundled together some of our quote postcards which could be perfect for a feature wall or to use as stationery.  We've seen these framed by customers, popped up on a wall with washi tape or sent to cheer someone up.  Most recently a customer was going to send to her best friend in hospital to keep her spirits up!  How lovely!  My favourite set are these and you'll find them in the shop now:

IMG_20180217_074924   IMG_20180217_075412

So there you go guys, a few of our new and spring-like designs to hopefully inspire and encourage you in your day!  I love an alternative gift too - something that someone isn't expecting with words that might just help them in some way.

Lots of love,
Signature - Gemma

Sunday, 25 February 2018

It's never too late to follow your dream

You’re never too old to start following your dream………

You’ve heard this many times I bet.
Do you believe it?
I do.

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s too late to change direction or that dreaming is just for kids. That’s simply not true.

My 30s were challenging. I didn’t have the head space to even think about dreaming of anything.  Except wishing we were a ‘normal’ family.  My 30s were full of raising my 2 beautiful children, one of whom was autistic and epileptic.  I learned so much about me and them although there was not a lot of time for dreaming but simply getting through each day to the best of my ability.  I started to become interested in creativity and journaling and that, I found, a helpful form of expression to manage the extent of the challenges our family as a whole were experiencing.

A catalytic event, the unexpected death of my autistic son not long after my 40th birthday propelled my life on a quite unexpected path but which has ultimately had a positively transformative effect. I started to walk the personal and spiritual development path.   I studied psychology, I trained as a teacher, I learned how to meditate, to develop my intuition, I trained as an energy healer, I pursued my creative interests and began to dream of a time I might be able to serve others as a healing practitioner, as an artist, sharing my understanding and helping those starting on a similar path.   I didn’t see a clear picture of how this could manifest but I knew the future was calling to me.  I started to wake up.  I could see the world differently from how I had seen it before.    In my 40s I started to dream rather than just surviving on a day to day basis.   The old cliché ‘Life begins at 40’ appeared to be on to something.  I was still experiencing grief from losing my son but because I felt spiritually closer to him than ever before, with the continued exploration and development work I chose to do, I could continue to dream and could see a positive future helping others, not just myself.

In my 50s, initially my teaching career flourished and then I gradually became disillusioned with the red tape attached to the job, and I began to lose the sense of joy and fulfilment I had with this work.  Another catalytic event, the simultaneous deaths (unconnected reasons) of both of my parents propelled me further along the personal and spiritual development path,  at some speed.   I also separated from my husband after 30+ years together and set about following another dream – leaving my full time, well paid, teaching work (which I had allowed to take over my life – I now know to bury the grief) and creating a working life where I could see the value of multiple streams of income, allowing me to serve others using my interests and passions and thus live a more peaceful and meaningful life.

So I undertook further training in different healing modalities, made lots of new connections and set up my energy healing practice.  Many workshops and courses in self awareness and self development and using energy for healing changed how I saw myself and enhanced my whole outlook on life.  I began to realise I wanted others to feel and see that too as it was so life enhancing.  I still had work as a part time psychology lecturer and of course Gemma and I created The Seashack over 4 years ago now.  So you can see  I developed three separate but actually quite interconnected strands of income.  I loved to teach, I loved to paint and create and I loved to help people learn to open up through energy healing and to shed lots of the baggage they were carrying so they could remove any barrier to their own dreams.

In my 50s I continued to follow my dreams – as they were then – realising that as we grow and evolve, so do our dreams, so I remained open and flexible to what inspired me and showed up in my life.  All the while, learning more about me, my place in the world, and staying as true to myself as I could.

I’ve now reached my 60s – and the dreams have not diminished – if anything they have grown!
The Seashack grows from strength to strength as Gemma and I are growing and evolving. We continue to dream, collectively,  and luckily have similar aspirations and are on the same wavelength!
I still teach psychology and am evolving my energy practice all the time as my knowledge grows.   Strands are pulling together as I undertake more personal learning, enhancing my knowledge and understanding of energy and how our psychology works.

Over the last 7 years another, quite unexpected, passion has emerged.  To blend creativity and travel to my most favourite place on the planet   I am besotted with the Hebridean islands.  They are a wild and restless landscape,  a beautiful, magical, mystical and largely empty space that I am drawn back to time and time again.  The thrill of exploring uninhabited islands, seeing whales, dolphins and basking sharks, paddling in stunning turquoise sea so unbelievably clear (and freezing!), and exploring empty,  white shell sand beaches.  Magical wildlife – like seeing the puffins coming out of their burrows, the otters in amongst the seaweed and the great golden and sea eagles majestically soaring.   Ok so there is another blog in itself here it seems (!).

Scotland July 2009 083


 I digress.

Here’s the thing. I now have a dream to travel the Hebrides, beachcombing and paints in hand to capture the essence of the landscape, that others may be able to experience how I feel about them.    I have another dream (shared with Gemma I might add) to have an actual live Seashack space (rather than virtual space) where we can both work, play and authentically experience the message we are trying to share with people.  I also dream of living right next to the sea - maybe even on a boat (!).
To me, dreams are important. They lend themselves to purpose and meaning in our lives.  They may not always be fulfilled – maybe the universe has something even better in mind, so my dreams are always couched by a proviso – ‘this or something better’ – there are greater forces at work than I can ever hope to understand.   I know, if I listen to what’s in my heart and follow the threads I am inspired to follow, everything will work out for the best interests of everyone.

In the words of Henry David Thoreau:
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

So, whatever your age, dream well, dream big and take action.  It’s never too late.

Shirley x