The curse and gift of eco-awareness

“As the ecological mesh that holds us, falls apart, As the animals leave us, As our hearts grow heavy with grief, As the trance that has bound us to this world unravels, What then?”

4 Idiots

Recently, at a workshop run by the 4 Idiots, I surrendered myself to my ecological grief. I allowed myself to sit with the gaping bleakness; the tangled suffocation of frustration; the deep and paralyzing fear for my children; the guilt and shame of my complicity to the devastation of the earth.

Through myth, song, connection with nature and ritual we sat with the darkness. And then we gently stirred the metaphorical embers and set a fire of compassion and courage in our hearts as we imagined what the future called for.

Read More

A brave new world? Waking up to the environmental crisis

“It’s so much worse than we thought, Lis.”

I woke one morning to see my husband’s face creased with worry. He had that look in his eye reserved for the worst of news. He’d gotten into bed after I’d fallen asleep the night before. The temptation to wake me to share his burden had been overwhelming, but instead he’d wept silently next to me, finally falling into a fitful sleep.

He told me I had to watch the Rupert Read talk he’d seen last night. He couldn’t be alone with what he’d just learnt.

Our commitment to reducing our impact on the earth had intensified recently. But this felt different. It was as if I was on the edge of a precipice and I knew that once over the edge there was no coming back. My husband had already jumped. Would I follow? Could I? Could I not…?

Read More

A collection of free-writing

My last blog post was a how-to for the magical art of free-writing. I’m following up with a few examples of my own to share what can happen when we surrender to our intuitive self and allow our inner-wisdom to spill onto the page.

As you read these, please remember that every person is unique and will have their own natural way of writing. Sharing my writing is meant to inspire, not direct. When you come to do your own free-writing, it’s really important that you let your intuition guide you and trust that what flows is right for you. And remember how the unconscious loves to communicate through metaphor. So let it flow, however bizarre it may sound.

I tend to take my stimulus from what is around me or within me as I begin to write. I am very often nature inspired as you’ll see! Sometimes I free-write in response to something I’ve created. There is a selection below – the headings hint at the stimulus.

Reminder! You can write your way to calm, clarity and connection with my Free-Writing for a Free Soul group e-course starting in September. Sign yourself up before August 26th to enjoy it for half the price. Details here.

Read More

Top tips for finding freedom with free-flow writing

Free-flow or stream of consciousness writing is one of my absolute favourite, most immediately soul-enriching, bring-you-back-to-the-present, intuitive, revealing, creative practices ever. Ever ever.

And it takes little time and requires just a pen and paper (although I have a tendency to paint all over my writing too…)

So how do we do it? Firstly, set a limit. Either give yourself a set amount of time (setting an alarm will help you focus on the writing) or decide on how many pages you’re going to fill. My advice would be to start small – a page or 5 minutes, building to 10/15 minutes or 2/3 pages. And then…. just write. Whatever comes into your head, even if it’s what you had for breakfast or “I don’t know what to write”, more will flow from there. I find it so permission giving because you can’t get it wrong – whatever comes is what is right for you in that moment. And I always gain some kind of release or insight or strength from it. A sense of dumping out the crap to reach what is really important.

Read More

Acceptance. And shampoo…

Ever feel like you’re not getting where you want to go fast enough? Maybe you feel guilty and shameful when others appear to be doing more than you? This blog is not about shaming. It’s about acceptance. And it’s about shampoo…

As I washed my hair with an organic, locally produced, plastic-packaging-free, toxin-free shampoo bar this morning (still not shaming! – keep reading…) I took a moment to reflect on my relationship with shampoo and the journey we’ve been on together. It’s one thread in the larger tapestry of sustainable living – a conscious intent to live more lightly on this earth and restore harmony between myself and the natural world that I’m a part of. A return to simplicity and care for all living things.

Making changes in our lives isn’t just about WHAT we do, it’s about HOW we go about it. The reason that Kon Mari’s method for decluttering tends to be sustainable (rather than houses returning to clutter-mode) is the psychological aspect. She invites us to be conscious about our emotional attachment to material possessions.

By slowing down and breathing space into our busy lives we are able to be more mindful about WHY we do things. This acknowledgment is the first step towards change. We can then accept what has been and find the necessary clarity on what happens moving forwards.

Read More

5 Simple Ways to Bring More Ease and Joy Into Your Life

What goes through your mind, what happens in your body when you feel challenged in life? Deciding whether you can make that jump, or that presentation, that job, that promotion, or allow yourself to be vulnerable with another person?

The other day I watched my just-turned-two year old jump from the top of this box and land safely on the ground. And I was proud. Not because it was high for someone his age or because he’d landed the jump, but because he’d been capable of deciding for himself to jump. He doesn’t always jump – he’ll often reach out a hand for help or tell me he’s scared. I’m equally proud in these moments too, for the same reasons.

When my kids find themselves in a position like this my aim is not to control them – “get down from there, it’s too high, you’ll fall!” but encourage them to explore their limits by ask themselves questions – “Does this feel safe for me?” “What are the potential hazards?” “What do I need to be aware of?” “What is the next step?” I’m right there with them. If there’s a chance they could fall I’ll be ready to catch them. But I’m not going to stop them falling, because that’s how they learn about themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, their ever-changing upper limits.

Read More

Why pizza night matters

“Meaning hides in repetition: we do this every day or every week because it matters. We are connected by this thing we do together. We matter to one another. In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the blow-out trip to Disneyland but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.”

Kim John Payne: Simplicity Parenting

We are slowly weaving pizza night into our little family rhythm. The moment felt right a few months ago to bring our sourdough starter into being and maintain it twice daily (something there just wasn’t space for sooner). Now we use it to bake bread (so my IBS-inflicted tummy is happy) and pizza, plus the discarded starter makes a mean gluten free pancake! And gives our muffins a bit more oomph.

The thing with sourdough is that everything takes time. It practically demands that we slow down. I really respect that about it. With both processes spanning two days, it’s taking time to incorporate the weekly bread and pizza making into our rhythm. It was the same with the starter maintenance – I remember wondering if we’d ever get used to the morning and evening dumping ritual but we’re (kind of…) there.

Read More

The 8 things that helped me recover from mental illness

It’s #maternalmhmatters awareness week in the UK and I’ve been all over it on Instagram. Today the focus is on publishing and sharing articles and blogs about recovery, looking ahead to the future and self-care – so it felt fitting to share my experiences in blog form. Please do share if you find it helpful. There are so many women out there right now feeling desperately isolated as they suffer in silence.

Mental illness to me felt like drowning. My ship had sunk and I was plunged into a deep ocean, completely submerged. Each time I struggled to the surface I’d desperately tread water, trying not to sink. But I got sucked under again. And again. When I finally managed to get hold of something I held on for dear life. I didn’t dare move, I barely breathed, my world became very small and very isolated. I couldn’t chance sinking again. When my head had stopped spinning I hastily knocked together a makeshift raft from some debris and I was off.

I had a mental breakdown aged 18 and my instinct was to run. I didn’t know any better. I ran so hard that I had a physical breakdown 3 years later. Guess what I did. Yup, I kept  on running. Until I ran straight into my husband-to-be. It was and still is an incredibly healing and nourishing relationship. A new path opened up to me, only it didn’t lead forward. It led inward.

I reconnected with my creative self, a part of me I’d been exiled from.  I reconnected with nature, planting my feet more firmly in the earth. The door to my

Processed with VSCO with  preset

soul creaked open. My theatre work shifted from technical (set building, lighting, sound, etc) to facilitation (running workshops) to therapeutic (dramatherapy). I love this as a metaphor of my recovery – I went from creating an illusion, a facade, to accepting myself fully for who I am.

Each step brought me a little closer to the woman in me I’d been running from for so long – the imperfect, vulnerable, feeling woman who had been violently cracked open and instinctively shut tight again. She needed a whole lot of love to recover. My husband was the first to love her, and then it was my turn. I slowly began to open the doors to other healthy, nurturing relationships – I began to create a supportive community around myself.

My dramatherapy training involved three years of therapy. I cracked open again, this time willingly. I emerged more resilient and more at peace with myself than I ever remembered feeling before. But I didn’t close the door on my soul. I kept it ajar and visited regularly through wellbeing practices that would one day become as commonplace as eating breakfast.

Processed with VSCO with  preset

When I cracked open again after my daughter was born I was better prepared to deal with it. I was so overwhelmed with anxiety that I couldn’t bear to hold my two day old baby. I was terrified I wouldn’t love her and the judgement that would inevitably come when everyone found out what a terrible mother I was. I shared what I was feeling over and over to my husband, my mum, certain friends, my midwife. I opened that door and shined a light on what was inside. There was no hiding. And this time I recovered quickly. I processed what was happening to me and I walked on with clean wounds that slowly healed.

This is my story of recovery:

  1. A healing relationship with someone who was able to love me unconditionally: for me this was a romantic relationship but healing relationships come in many forms. It might be a friend or a family member, or it may be a professional. In psychotherapy, the focus is on the therapeutic relationship. The idea is that whatever interpersonal difficulties the client has will eventually be played out in his or her relationship with the therapist.
  2. Learning to love myself: are you cringing? I used to too, and now I get it. I understand how important it is to accept all the parts of yourself. How incredibly necessary it is to feel whole. It’s not at all straight forward, it takes effort, and it is amazing.
  3. Expressing myself creatively: creativity promotes a more positive state of mind, makes us more energised, enhances our relationships, encourages flexibility, boosts our mood. And that’s just the beginning…. read more here.
  4. Getting outdoors into nature: breathing fresh air, listening to birdsong, feeling the soft grass beneath our feet – there are so many wonderfully joyful, calming, healing offerings to be found in the natural world. I like to bring as much as I can back inside too…
  5. 1-1 and group dramatherapy: I’m a huge believer in the power of dramatherapy having experienced it firsthand. Working creatively with metaphor gives us the distance we need to be able to safely work through the tough stuff. Read more here.
  6. Developing a creative expressive self-care practice that allows me to process on an ongoing basis: this is going to be the focus of my very first e-course! I’m a staunch believer in self-care (I actually believe it can change the world, but more on that another time…). Making more space in our lives for the things that bring us joy, peace and connection, allowing time to reflect and process – these things keep us well and, for the mothers out there, more able to look after teeny tiny people.
  7. Finding my people and building my community: humans are built for connecting, without it we wither. Leaning on others for support is not a weakness, it’s a necessity.  Developing healthy, meaningful relationships is essential to human growth and survival.
  8. The understanding that recovery isn’t the final destination: we mere mortals are all on a spectrum of mental health that we slide up and down throughout our lives. And there is no shame in that, only strength. The healing journey continues. It is not linear but cyclical – we return again and again, understanding and releasing more and more each time.