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Friday, 22 September 2017

Self doubt and fear - the enemy within?

I wrote a blog the other day, and at first the writing flowed – a theme close to my heart – words coming to me as I wrote, job done.  Or so you’d think…………

Of course once the words were committed to paper and I began to read what I’d written, doubt started to creep in.

What am I writing this for?
Is there any point?
Will it make any sense?
Is it too weird?
Is this the right theme to write about?
It’s probably been said by lots of others and in a better way.
I’m wasting my time, it’s rubbish
I really don’t want anyone to read this anyway
I can’t write (sigh)
Why did I start this?
What's the point of anything?!

Yes well, can you see where all this is going?!  It’s a downward spiral into a deep pit of despair….and a sense of failure……..self worth plummets.............

Do you do this too?

What if I said this thinking is all made up?

It’s just thought  - wonky thinking I don’t need to take seriously.

We have thousands of thoughts every day and we have no control over what comes in. Some we pay attention to and others drift by unnoticed. Well I was paying a little too much attention to my thoughts on this occasion and made up a story about being afraid to let people read what I’d written and experiencing doubt that I could write at all and what a waste of time expressing myself was.

False Evidence Appearing Real.

Yes, it felt scary for a while there! (And it will happen again and again)

Thankfully once I could see what a negative experience I was creating for myself, (took a while!),  I laughed at my innocence, at falling for this colossal lie and remembered, like everyone else, I’m human and simply forgot that we all take our thoughts seriously from time to time and it’s time for us to give ourselves a break and not spend so much time and energy in believing each and every one of them.

Self doubt and fear are natural emotions we experience particularly when we go outside of our comfort zone.  For me, this is expressing myself openly and not hiding away (my preferred option!).  Now, I'm moving into a position of 'feel the fear and do it anyway' (to coin a well worn phrase!) taking my thinking less seriously and moving forward anyway to areas I am drawn to, simply to see what happens.

I don't see self doubt and fear as the enemy, perhaps more of a misguided friend who thinks they are helping by trying to keep me safe but in the grand scheme of life, doesn't serve me very well and can persuade me to act in a more inhibited way.

So as part of my own self care I recognise that thoughts are just thoughts - neutral and ebbing and flowing in life - all part of our humanness - so let's embrace what shows up for us and make the most of life's mysteries on our journey through life.

Have fun

Shirley xx

Friday, 15 September 2017

The season of change

It feels like we’ve been catapulted into autumn this past week or two.  Anyone else noticed this?   As summer gives way to autumn, nights are drawing in and the temperature is decidedly chilly in the evenings.   I’m reaching for a throw and hot water bottle – lighting candles and snuggling up with a mug of hot chocolate.  The beginnings of the transition to autumn seem to have come around so quickly – my mind is drifting back to the beginning of summer – how did it pass so quickly?!

Nurturing, warming soups are back on the menu (welcome back red lentils)  and I’ve been blackberry picking, something I love to do. There’s something delicious about foraging for free food and rustling up a delicious apple and blackberry crumble – as well as freezing several trays of blackberries for the winter months.  All very satisfying and an essential part of my own autumn ritual.

After the active summer period, tending our gardens, traveling, holidays and generally being out and about enjoying the balmy long summer days, autumn signals a transition time – slowing down, resting, recuperating and preparing for those colder winter months.

Autumn has its own beauty of course. Glorious colours as nature puts on a final colourful display before leaves fall and growth becomes dormant. I get out into the countryside as much as possible and drink in those heady colours, collect conkers and pine cones (for my grandchildren of course - or at least that’s my excuse!).  I see wild creatures scurrying about – squirrels busily burying their finds and birds feeding on wild berries – a bit like my foraging, an instinctive desire to store the harvest before the cooler winter months.

So there are positive things to be enjoyed at this time as we make the most of the remaining relatively warm autumn days (yes ok, the last few days have been decidedly chilly!). Such abundance of berries and fruits to feast on, and store away, before the oncoming darker, colder months.

Taking time out - even 5 minutes of deep breaths and feeling where my body is tensed, gently stretching it out, can help us feel more present and savour the moment instead of our minds racing ahead. Try it.

Maybe I’m putting a positive spin on this although I do find something magical with every season.  Yes, I have to adjust to the shortening days - sometimes reluctantly - but there is also something for me that is  'New Yearish' about September and starting again with a fresh outlook.  Perhaps that's down to years of study first as a mature student and then teacher - so September has meant a new start for me for some time.

This year, for me,  autumn brings the start of a new training course, another group of students to teach and preparing for a busy Seashack season as we move through the rebranding process and naturally evolve.

I'm feeling grateful for having experienced the spring freshness, the uplifting birdsong and signs of new life, the balmy summer days and my wonderful Hebridean adventure and now the circle continues into a slower and more reflective period, loudly interrupted by the Christmas extravaganza of course then back to reflection and planning for another year.

The circle of life......simply amazing.

Shirley x

Monday, 4 September 2017

Back to school......and why you can handle anything!

As always the summer has been and gone in a flash!  Lots of lazy days, good times (some rough days too) & memories under our belts and all of a sudden we are in September.  And that means for many of us the return to school - and for some of us the start of a school journey for our children.  With September brings Autumn and so many changes too.


I won't lie, I've really been trying not to think about it too much.  No-one wants to wish away the lazy days and we've all settled nicely in to a new routine at home now, which is led by slowness.  It's been nice not feeling exhausted and frazzled by dinnertime!  But school is starting this week here so it's time to get my head in the right place and get myself used to it all again.

Our middle one starts next week too!  She's just a bit older than 4.5 and seems to be looking forward to it.  Again, I've been trying not to focus on it too much or make too big a deal of it; I'm well aware that our vibes rub off on them and now that we've made the choice to send our children to school she needs positivity and excitement about it from me.  This time is very different because I already have one there and she's very familiar with the whole process of going to school.  I have no idea what to expect or whether she's going to settle well but there's a difference in me this time; I know that whatever happens I can handle it.

And this is something I want to teach my children: resilience.

I wasn't so clued up the first time for the emotions you feel as a parent.  My heart wasn't in traditional schooling so I needed a lot of convincing.  I was dreading sending him and even put off getting uniform until the very last minute.  I had wanted to home educate but it wasn't our path and so I took a chance with the school I picked and thankfully things have worked out.  But I found those first couple of weeks so incredibly hard, wondering how he was coping and being only just 4 years old he felt so little.

He struggled with settling in to school and couldn't cope with being separated from me.  I had never left him crying at preschool and didn't want to start at school.  There was even a morning that I couldn't leave him so took him home against the teacher's advice. I was lucky that I could work with his teacher and we managed to get him in to a good routine and in no time he was absolutely fine and enjoying school.  It was such a relief! And by about 2 weeks in it got easier for me to come to terms with the fact he was now at school.  I tried to focus on some positives:
  • We had time in the morning together
  • The school day is relatively short and passes quickly when you are busy
  • We had time after school together and I would try to get anything I needed to done in the daytime
  • School didn't have to be forever; if it didn't work out there were other options

It got easier.

But the following year wasn't so easy.  Our 3rd child was born the first week back at school and I don't think it helped him settling back in very much.  The negotiations didn't work this time and he just didn't want to go in at all.  Nothing was wrong at school; I just wasn't there.  Which was heart breaking.  My head was still asking 'Should we home school him if he's this unhappy?'  After many traumatic mornings it got to the point where I had to ask the school for help.  We worked out a way to get him in (his teaching assistant would come and meet him every morning) and within a day or 2 things were back to 'normal'.

Some kids need some extra support.

You know your child the best.  Which also means you know what they need.  It felt like mine was the only one struggling to go in which may have been true or may not.  But it was the story I invented in my head and it didn't much help to be honest!  With that came feelings of guilt and questions over my parenting and asking myself what had I done wrong?  I can look back now and say he's an anxious child and it was no surprise he was going to take a little longer to settle in to somewhere strange and trust people that weren't me.  And I can also say that he didn't want to separate not because of the bad job I'd done but because of the secure relationship I had created for us.


Don't be afraid to ask for help if you or your child struggles.  It's nothing to be ashamed of and you don't need to deal with it all on your own like I tried to.  The school is there to support you as a parent and your needs as well.  You are important too!  It's completely normal to be sad or scared that your child is off to school.  It feels like a huge leap that they are too little to take.  Surely they were only just born? My best advice is to take one day at a time.  Try not to presume what is going to happen or overthink it.  Know that whatever happens you can deal with it.  Building on that strength and confidence from within will help throughout your life and resilience is a great skill to pass on to your child too.  More on that in another blog post ;-)

Gemma x