With everything that is going on in the world, I wasn't sure about writing this post. Yes, I have been through difficult, dark times but I have never had to leave my home with a backpack, not knowing if I will ever return and if I did return, that my home would still be there. However, I have decided to go ahead and share some of what I understand to be 'building resilience'.
We all have different battles, different challenges and we all have different levels of resilience. But we do all have resilience. We all have the ability but we sometimes need a bit of support and encouragement to believe that the resilience is there. There are simple steps we can take. To start with, go to the internationally recognised 5 Steps to Wellbeing.
Practising these steps regularly will begin to help build up a more positive mindset. For some people, the above 5 steps will be challenging. Celebrate each time you manage one of them! Then begin to find new, small challenges. We are all different, so our chosen small challenges will all be different.
I tested my resilience last weekend by taking a dip in Knockburn Loch. The ice had to be broken in order for us to go in so it's fair to say it was cold!! I wasn't sure I could do it but I focused on my breath, took my time, didn't beat myself up about having doubts but reminded myself that I have overcome my negative mind many times before! I am NOT saying that you all have to dip in freezing water to build up your resilience but do challenge yourself in some way this week. As I have said already, we are all different. That is what makes the world a more interesting place!
We have much to be grateful for. It's not always easy to practise gratitude, but today I am grateful to have a home, a bed to sleep in and a night without bombs crashing down around me.
PS I am wearing the pink hat because i am currently taking part in a Cold Water Challenge in aid of Cancer Research UK.
'There is enough in this world for everyone's need, but not for anyone's greed.' - Mahatma Gandhi, India
'Aspire not to have more, but to be more' - Archibishop Oscar Romera, El Salvador
After randomly picking 'Contentment' as the 16 Guidelines focus for March, I found myself having to dig deep. However, in my experience, I have always found that picking a card that makes me step back or feel resistance, is when I will learn the most about myself, so stay with me and let's find out how we can use the filter of Contentment to support us, as we witness the horror of what is happening in the Ukraine.
'Contentment is a state of mind that has nothing to do with money, objects, or other people. Nor does it concern itself with how much we have, or how little. Instead, it's about finding a point of stillness within ourselves which allows us to be quietly happy whatever our situation might be, and to be at peace with who we are.
Unless we learn to live in the moment, and to accept it as it is, we may never function well or feel fully alive. Contentment releases us from the restless desires that drive us blindly forward, and which prevent us from being open to the needs and gifts of others. It frees us up to direct our energy in fresh and more conscious ways. Can we discover how to enjoy contentment despite the hurry and worry of our contemporary existence?'
16 Guidelines Handbook
For me, after reading the above quotes, I feel that focusing on contentment is helping to put any of my own worries or concerns into perspective. It is helping me to be grateful for what I have and gives me a greater desire to do something to help. Most of all, it has given me a lot to mull over.
'To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own.' Jack Kornfeld.
I fully appreciate that the title of this blog might meet with resistance from some but I gently invite you to stay with me and follow through. Over the years, I have experienced what I might have described as 'good' years and 'bad' (even horrendous?!) years. However, looking back, I can see that not of all of any year was completely good or completely bad and I would go even further to say that in my very worst years, there were golden moments when I realised that good will always shine through.
In recent months I know several people who have lost a partner, parent or a four legged friend. It is only natural that they will be experiencing the pain and grief of what they have lost but I have also been aware of how their individual communities have come together to support them. This has been in practical ways like providing food (copious amounts often!), offering to sit and be, reminiscing over old photos, going out for long walks, sending cards or messages and hugs - thank goodness we can do that now with those who are close to us. My hope for them is that the positive memories and experiences will begin to gently ease and balance the pain they are experiencing in this moment.
Later this year I celebrate 60 years on this amazing planet of ours. The guideline I randomly chose for this month is 'Aspiration'.
'Aspiration is the profound longing for purpose and fulfilment, joy and happiness, which lies deep - and sometimes buried - in our hearts, and in the heart of every living being. It is the voice inside that urges us to use our life well and to make the best of whatever gifts and passions we possess. The way we choose to respond to that voice will determine all the other choices we make in our lives.' 16G Handbook
This defininition of aspiration resonated very strongly with me. I do believe that I am now 'using my life well and making the best of whatever gifts and passions I possess.' I am now open to that voice deep in my heart and follow it to the best of my ability. It was not always possible.
This weekend I attended a monthly Drumming Circle near Tarland, where I was brought up. The site looks onto Morven, a very special hill to me. It is a hill I have walked and run many, many times and it is where my Dad's ashes are scattered. In the circle on Sunday, we drummed on a negative thought, emotion or feeling that we had brought with us that we wanted to let go (or let be?) and mine was 'insecurity'. I hadn't realised that was what I had brought until we began drumming. It felt good to be drumming it away and letting it go - or letting it be! The following round was something we wanted to invite in, to fill the space that had been left and the word that popped in for me was 'courage'. I felt lighter and brighter as I drummed confidence in.
On the drive home, I pondered on what it all meant. I recognise that I have often felt insecure in particular situations but I feel a shift! I am not perfect. Life is not perfect. To be honest, I'm not even sure what perfect is?! However, I do believe that I am 'good enough' and my life is 'good enough' and, for me, that is good enough!
So, I invite you to join me, supporting each other along the way, and celebrate 2022. Let's celebrate the joyful moments but also take time to acknowledge the moments that cause us sadness, because that's how we experience and appreciate the rich tapestry of life. Through it all, I invite you to remember that:
'To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own.' Jack Kornfeld
'Delight' is the randomly chosen guideline for December. It was picked a few days before the 1st December, as I prepared for the month ahead. I was 'delighted' because I thought of the various festivities taking place over the next few weeks and thought how lovely it would be to find 'Delight' in life. Then Storm Arwen happened...
A week on from Storm Arwen and there are still people without power and water. So many people have experienced freezing conditions, with little access to hot food or water to make a cup of tea. It has been a very difficult time, especially with the new variant of Covid that's making plans for Christmas uncertain, yet again.
All of this has quite possibly affected you. You might be feeling more anxious than usual, more stressed and maybe finding it difficult to relax. Take time to acknowledge how you are feeling. It's normal to have a reaction to such a difficult time but once you have established how you are feeling, decide what you are going to do to help yourself. It's how we recover and move forward from tricky situations like this that influences future challenging situations, building resilience and creating a positive mindset.
Be kind to yourself. Take time for some mindful breathing. Focus completely on the in-breath, (not changing anything, just noticing) be aware of the chest moving in and out, the feel of the air as it comes in through the nose, notice the details. Then focus on the out-breath, again noticing the detail. It's good to do this for 10 - 15 minutes but it will help if you take just THREE mindful breaths. The more you practise, the quicker you will respond to mindful breathing when you are feelng a bit stressed. It's a great calming tool.
If you are needing a bit more support then please get in touch. The AndBreathe123 tools can help ease stress and anxiety, leaving your mind clear and more able to meet the ongoing challenges in life.
So, back to 'Delight'... It's at times like this that I find that the guidelines from 16 Guidelines most powerful. When times are hard and we find ourselves down a dark hole, we can find it difficult to climb back out. Holding 'Delight' in your thoughts over the next few weeks may help you to begin to look at life with a different perspective.
In the past week, since the devastating storm, we have begun to hear heartwarming stories of communities gathering round to support neighbours who have not been so fortunate. I know that my sister was delighted when her electricity went on after 5 or 6 days with no power. We take electricity for granted but it's moments like this, where we can truly find delight. Being able to switch on a light with the flick of a switch. Being in a warm home once more. Having a hot mug of tea or coffee. Having survived the storm. Having a roof over our heads.
Once we begin to find delight, we begin to notice it more and more. It doesn't change or diminish the challenging experiences we are going through but bringing 'Delight' into our lives can help to change our perspective, strengthen our resilience and positive mindset. Let me know if you notice a difference!
Optimistic October has a certain ring to it! It brings a wry smile to my lips, as historically, the latter months of the year bring the challenge of SAD (Seasonal Adjusted Disorder - more about this in an earlier blog) which has to be carefully managed, if I want to be there to support other people! It got me to thinking, I have said it so many times before but it's all about mindset.
I had a few personal challenges in September and found myself feeling a little sorry for myself. Like so many people, over the past eighteen months, I have missed seeing friends and had begun to imagine they had forgotten all about me! You see, even seasoned, mindful living people can have blips?! It pulled me up, so I asked the four questions that I find so helpful in life: 1. Is it true? 2, Can you absolutely know that it's true? 3. How do you react when you believe that thought? 4. Who would you be without that thought? They are the four questions from Byron Katie's, 'The Work'. Definitely worth searching out.
Of course, I quickly came to the reality that these thoughts were coming from my 'monkey brain', making mischief yet again! I got in contact with a couple of longtime friends and got caught up on all the chat. I also realised that they value my friendship as much as I do theirs. The chat about shared experiences of years ago, mixed in with our current lives and plans for the future left me with a warm glow! I value the loyalty of friends.
I came home from one such visit to randomly draw the 16 Guideline card for the month of October and surprise, surprise, it was 'Loyalty'! I love how the guidelines pop up at just the right moment. I will be sharing more about loyalty throughout October.
Loyalty has the potential to:
In response to my 'blip', and in preparation for the winter ahead, I have also been refreshing and embedding my selfcare habits. More about that another time...
A Lesson Learned…
Ego: a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance.
Gratitude: To acknowledge and repay the kindness of others
Over the past year there have been many stories about hillwalkers needing help in some way. Although sympathetic, being a hillwalker myself, I admit there have been times when I questioned if the hillwalkers had been prepared for what they had set out to do.
Yesterday was a big lesson for me. I have been hillwalking my whole life, across the globe, not just Scotland but in the USA, Himalayas, Europe and Kenya. I have been out in ALL weathers, including extreme heat and extreme cold, but yesterday I was not prepared and I became one of the statistics. Luckily I got back to base in time to stop the whole mountain resuce team setting out but I did need the help of the police officer and rangers at the centre, as well as other hill walkers out on the hill.
Having had Sepsis, I am told that my body has less ability to cope with any external stress now, so in addition to not planning for the extreme heat yesterday, I had also not taken that into account.
Next time I read about a mountain rescue call out I will reflect on what happened to me yesterday and yet again be so thankful we have people out there who come to our rescue when we need it the most.
What an amazing few weeks I have had! As I approach my THIRD anniversary as AndBreathe123, I have been reflecting on where I have come from and where I want to go. As if the universe thought I needed a push, several opportunities came my way and I wanted to share them with you!
This weekend I began my EFT Level 3 certification. I realise not everyone will be as excited as me but this level opens up even more possibilities with the work I do and I cannot wait to get started! One of the aligning moments came when I took part in a discussion about EFT and education earlier this year and became aware of Kathryn Temple. Lo and behold a few weeks ago I saw the ad for her Level 3 course and that is who I have shared my day with today. One of the most special moments for me was learning how she integrates music into her sessions. As a musician, that struck a chord (yup, I realise what I've said!). More about this soon.
A few weeks ago I began my training for EMMETT 4 Horses with Tony Sherry. I am developing the work I do with the equine community and the EMMETT technique is another tool for the AndBreathe123 toolkit, alongside EFT, Mindfulness and Reiki. All four tools can be used with humans AND animals! Being able to work with animals and their humans is a privilege.
Why the picture of the calf? Well, I have been practising EMMETT on calves and cows too! The result has been so heartwarming! One cow (a massive Friesian) bent her whole body in towards me as I worked with her and one of the calves began to push other calves out of the way so that he could get more EMMETT! Very grateful to have friends with a dairy farm!
I intend to send updates more often. Shorter and to the point but I want to keep you up to date with what is happening and what I am offering the AndBreathe123 community. There's so much more to come!
Have a great week!
There are times in our lives when things come together and what seemed like such a difficult time begins to evolve into something better than before!
These past few months particularly have been tough. That’s why there was no blog in May. I have been ‘skiting’ (good Doric word for skating) along, ‘just’ managing (barely) to keep all the balls up in the air. Like so many, I have several titles in my life - mother, daughter, granny, friend, auntie, flute teacher, musician, sole trader, EFT practitioner, wellbeing facilitator. Juggling all these roles can be tricky. Each of them needs more attention from time to time, but over the past few months it seemed like they all needed their turn at being my ‘Number One Priority’!
I reached a dark place, and it has taken everything I have in my toolkit to climb back out. I have taken time to note what was happening before, during and after the crash, learning even more about myself along the way. We are complex creatures! The one thing that reassured me was that so many colleagues were also commenting that they had been feeling ‘out of sorts’. We all have different language and ways of expressing those dark times. Some make light of it, some go quiet and others spell it out loudly and clearly! The effect of the pandemic on all of us is not to be taken lightly and not ignored. It’s going to take time for all of us to feel completely ‘safe’ again. Even the people who say ‘I’m fine’ have been impacted more than they realise. Our amygdalas have been on overdrive.
I have noticed recently that quite a few people I know had come off social media for a period of time, in order to ‘look after their mental health’ and that is one of the first things I decided to look at. I took all social media, email and bank apps off my phone. That has cut down my screen time considerably! I do monitor how I use my laptop but have to acknowledge that I do need to be on it a lot for work. The mindless browsing during breaks is being gradually cut out completely. Some habits take time to sort?!
I have recognised for a long time that my eating habits become erratic when I go through tricky times, so I am back planning my meals better and making sure I have a good variety of food in the house. I have also signed up to an EFT programme with Peta Stapleton and Carol Look (both are worth Googling!), looking at issues around food and how it relates to so many other areas of our lives. I am looking at this programme for professional development but, honestly, it’s for me too. I’ll let you know how it goes! I’ve watched one video so far and can already look in the mirror more comfortably. Mirrors (and getting my photo taken!) are something I have avoided studiously most of my life!
Yet again, I have looked at my calendar and diary and blocked time that is ‘selfcare’ time. I am back swimming, which is something I LOVE. Sandy and I have signed up to older puppy classes, something else I have also wanted to do. I have also made sure that I have a gentle start in the morning, as often as possible. That is something that I need to keep my life balanced.
A genuine concern that ran through all of the dark time was the worry about the impact of lockdown on AndBreathe123 and the huge dent that had been made to my financial situation. I know I am not the only one. It’s been scary, hasn’t it?!
But that brings me to the turnaround!
16Guidelines permeates my life, both personally and professionally. At the beginning of every month, I randomly choose a guidelines that will permeate through everything I do for that month. For June, I picked Kindness (Kindness: To be friendly, caring and considerate). Immediately, I could feel my body relax and a feeling that ‘all would be well’ began to spread throughout my body.
We all have a slightly different understanding about what Kindness means but the 16 Guidelines handbook describes it beautifully. I invite you to read more: https://16guidelines.org/explore/browse-the-guidelines/how-we-act/kindness
The same day, a colleague recommended Katy Lesson’s podcast ‘I shouldn’t say this but… my brain crashed’ with Dr T, throughout her social media. I don’t often take time to listen to podcasts (something else I plan to change) but I did listen to this one. I recognised so much of what was discussed and would encourage you to check it out. It is powerful.
“In this episode I talk to High Performance Expert & Psychiatrist, Dr T. We start this amazing conversation with WHY - why we’re both invested in preventing burnout and helping deal with crisis’. We also talk about how we both deal with being people pleasers but the positives this has brought to both our lives. Finally, we look at how restriction, change, uncertainty and threat can impact our emotions and the profound effect the past year has had on all of us. If you want some tips about how to move on from the past year, this is the episode for you.” Katy Leeson
Over the past few days, a number of new clients have booked appointments, new contacts have been made and plans are beginning for other longterm opportunities. The sun is shining and the future is looking bright!
I cannot say just how much I appreciate being able to work face to face again. Online EFT works very well and it’s good for clients who live too far away, but I do like being in the same space. In addition to my studio in Insch, I have started back at the Urban Wellness Hub, Bridge of Don. This is such a lovely place to work, as well as a perfect place to treat myself to good quality selfcare! Urban Wellness Hub has the only float room in Scotland and I am currently counting my sleeps before my next float! If you don’t know what I’m speaking about, please click on this link: https://www.urbanwellnessfloat.co.uk/
If you are struggling right now, you are not alone.
This week, two 16 Guidelines cards dropped out when I was choosing one with a client. They were ‘Honesty’ and ‘Humility’. I chose to be honest and write with humility, as I shared my experiences over the past couple of months. If you are struggling, please reach out to someone. I am fortunate to have the AndBreathe123 tools, in addition to good friends and family members who have been there to listen and give me space to reflect. Their kindness has been appreciated. I am here to share the AndBreathe123 tools, so that you can create your own toolkit. The tools are for every day, not just when the going gets tough.
If you would like to learn more about 16 Guidelines, please sign up for the Building Inner Srength: 16 Guidelines for Life, Level One course at Haddo House & Country Park on 19th & 20th June. It is a unique opportunity! If you are unable to join us, I invite you to read more about humility and honesty by clicking on the following links:
Humility – To be willing and able to learn from others.
Honesty – To act with transparency and fairness
I look forward to seeing some of you very soon!
Every month, I randomly pick a guideline, from 16 Guidelines, to focus on for the month ahead. 'Aspiration' has now been picked for March AND April! I don't think that has happened before, so I thought it was worth taking time to create a short video of the meditation on 'Aspiration from the 16 Guidelines handbook.
As we make our way out of lockdown and the strange year we have had, we have the opportunity to make positive changes in our lives. Now is the time to dream! Now is the time to move on in a more positive direction. I hope this meditation is helpful.
It’s been a tough year! (How many times have I said that this year?!) There have been so many highs and lows and at the beginning of March, I was beginning to fade a bit again. When I reached for the 16 Guidelines cards, I was really looking for inspiration and I got it! Aspiration is the guideline for March!
‘Aspiration is the profound longing for purpose and fulfillment, joy and happiness, which lies deep – and sometimes buried – in our hearts, and in the heart of every living being. It is the voice inside that urges us to use our life well and to make the best of whatever gifts and passions we possess. The way we choose to respond to that voice will determine all the choices we make in our lives.
The happiest and most contented people are usually those who have found a way to put their aspirations for self and others into practice and have thereby played an active part in creating a better world.’
16 Guidelines Handbook
16 Guidelines is a framework that can help pre-frame and re-frame situations. Getting Aspiration was exactly what I needed. It got me back on track and reminded me of why I do what I do. I’ve been working as AndBreathe123 for 2 ½ years and in the past few weeks, I feel that things are finally beginning to come together. Sharing tools to support mental health and wellbeing in others is a privilege and something I am so passionate about. It is a vocation. I want to give people what I didn’t have over the years, when my life was challenging.
I am just back from an outdoor session with teens, at Haddo Country Park. These sessions have been a highlight of mine since I began AndBreathe123, so sharing what I do with ten teenagers today was special. I’ve had to cancel the last few sessions, exactly when teenagers would have benefitted from being together in the outdoors. The wait was worth it though! They are a brilliant bunch and a credit to their families. Working together to create dens, make a rope swing, build fires, put up a hammock, make hot chocolate and, I’m not sure if I should share this or not, but they tidied up perfectly!!
I came home feeling the benefits of being in the outdoors, surrounded by trees, having taken time to appreciate the sounds of nature and socialising with such amazing young people. These sessions have a positive impact on my mental health too and that’s one of the spin offs of the job I do now!
Thank you for being part of my journey as AndBreathe123!
Thank you for reading this far! AndBreathe... is a very exciting venture and I am glad you have joined me on the journey!