How do you know your worth? What is it, about yourself, that you feel makes you worthy? Is it the things you say or do? Maybe it’s your achievements and successes? What about your career? Or your relationships to others? What do you hold on to tightly, whenever you feel doubt begin to creep in?
For me, it is my goals and achievements. It is the things that I have done which I feel give me worth. Which is a problem for me right now, because at the moment I am too sick to do anything. I am barely getting by with the day-to-day tasks, doing the odd bit of work here and there and just about surviving, but certainly not achieving any real goals. And that is terrifying, because without those who am I?
a change in perception
You may remember that I shared 18 things I wanted to achieve this year recently. When I shared them with a close friend, I was reminded that these are ambitious goals for someone much healthier than I am right now. And it made me realise that I am struggling so hard with redefining my worth now that I am so sick…
And it’s not just the achievements that bother me, it’s the interactions with others and my perceived role in relationships that bothers me too. How can I be a good mother, daughter, sister, and friend if I’m too sick to do anything beyond the odd message here and there and a call out for help when I need it. What am I bringing to those relationships right now? Where is my worth?
Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever felt completely worthless, like you simply cannot do or be enough, just as you are? Have you ever carried feelings of guilt and fear over where you are and who you are becoming? Do you recognise what I’m trying to say?
If so, I hope that you’ll find the video below helpful. It is a poem I wrote on one of my darkest days recently, which also turned out to be one of the biggest turning points of my life so far. It starts with a feeling of helplessness, and ends with a message of love, which is exactly the journey I went on whilst writing it.
How did the poem make you feel? Can you relate to it? Did your mind fight the message at the end, not wanting you to believe how worthy you truly are just as you are? I’ve certainly been there and experienced that, which is why I love the powerful healing that I experience when I create something like this.
the healing power of creativity
For me, letting the creative juices flow enables me to get out of my own head and let the wisdom of the Universe speak through me. It inspires me, gives me hope, and reminds me that there is so much worth in the most simple of actions. By taking a moment to be quiet, allowing myself to be inspired, and then letting the poem work its way out into the world, I facilitated a shift in my whole perception.
Of course, as soon as I had done it I began to doubt myself again. I worried that the poem would make no sense to anyone else. Not that it would matter that much if it only made sense to me… except my experience whilst writing has always been that this is where my true worth lies, this is what I can bring to the world. So I wanted it to mean something to others.
So I swallowed my fears and shared it with a few close friends. And the response was more than I could ever have hoped for. Seeing others respond to my words not only increased my confidence in my writing, but also reminded me that we all hold these fears within us. I’m not alone in feeling this way, and so sharing my heart with you all is just as valuable as anything else.
I wanted to share it with you straight away, of course. But life had different plans, and I’ve been too sick to do it until now. But that’s okay because I’m learning patience as well as everything else. My worth is not in producing content constantly, rather it is in allowing an idea to flow and grow until it is ready to be shared, no matter how long that takes. There truly is worth in every step… even when that step might be resting in bed!
How often do we put everyone else ahead of us instead of actually prioritising our own self care? How often do we think that in order to be a good friend, spouse, parent, or worker we must put the needs of everyone and everything before our own? And how often does that actually work out for us?
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have spent most of your life putting others first. When I look back on my life I can see how I have done this at every step along the way. And when I actually stop to think about that I realise that there is no wonder that I have been so sick lately. Because by ignoring my own needs I have presented a situation in which my body has had no choice but to say “no more”.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. And I’ve realised that if I’m ever going to truly heal and learn to live in a way that is sustainable to my own health, I need to start prioritising self care. And I need to do it right now.
Of course that’s really hard for me, because it goes against everything I have ever believed about myself and what it means to “be a good person”. It makes me feel selfish and I worry so much about what others might think of me. But that’s where the courage comes in, that’s where my word for this year is so very apt for what I need right now. With courage I can feel that fear and do it anyway. Because it is worth it.
And I wanted to share with you how I am doing that, partly because I’m sure I’m not alone in struggling with this, and partly because another aspect of self-care means using this blog for what I need on this healing journey. But as much as I love to write things down, I also find it really helpful to simply share my heart verbally too. So I took to Facebook Live this afternoon and shared the following… it wasn’t very well planned, it certainly wasn’t highly polished, but it was pure, unadulterated passion that poured out.
I mention several books and resources I’m using in this video, which I have listed links to below if you’d like to check them out. And I’d love to hear about your own ways of prioritising self care, so please do share those in the comments below too.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how things that inspire us can also be the things that stress us out and make us feel bad about ourselves. The internet is particularly good at presenting these things to us, don’t you think? All those Instagram posts and Pinterest boards and Facebook memes that show us, time and again, that we do not have to be beaten by life’s circumstances, that we can choose to thrive even in the darkest of moments, and that anything is possible if only we decide we really want it, are all shared with the greatest of intentions. And most of the time they achieve what they’re meant to – they inspire us to aim for something better. And yet, sometimes they can make us feel so much worse, because they seem so out of reach for us. Have you ever noticed that?
Don’t get me wrong – I love a good inspirational quote, positive affirmation, or success story. But sometimes, just sometimes, it all gets a bit unbalanced. We see snapshots of people’s lives, hear the stories of how they overcame difficulties to achieve great things, without ever truly seeing the reality of what they had to overcome in the first place. We come into the story at the end, after the battle has been forged, and though we may be shown snippets of the battle, a quick overview from where they were once to where they are now, they present us with the idea that it’s not okay to not be okay.
Maybe it’s a personal thing, maybe this isn’t relevant to you at all, but I’ve found that there is a very big difference between wanting to make change in your life because you want to improve it, and feeling like you have to overcome a challenge because it’s somehow unacceptable for you to be struggling with it in the first place.
Take, for instance, my healing journey right now. I am so terribly sick at the moment, and I am so anxious and stressed about what this means for me and my future. I do not want to be defined by my illness, and I certainly don’t want it to control my life. In that way, I am completely inspired by those who share their stories of overcoming ill health to become happier and healthier than they ever have been.
But on the flip side of this, I feel pressure to not succumb to ill health, to make sure that I do everything in my power to ensure that it doesn’t define who I am and what I do, so I hide the struggle and aim to be positive, even when deep down I am terrified. Because, at some point along the line, I have come to believe that it is not okay to not be okay.
I feel shame that I have been signed off work sick, I feel guilty that I am so heavily reliant on my family for support and have hardly seen friends in months, I even feel bad that the receptionists at my GP surgery now know me by name, and worry that people will judge me as a hypochondriac when I list off all the symptoms and specialists I am seeing right now. And this all stems from that belief that it is not okay to not be okay, that I have to somehow fight this battle and come out victorious, ready to shut the door on this stage in my life and show how I overcame the odds to create an amazing life for myself, whatever that may be.
But here’s the thing – this is a false belief, I know it is, but it is so hard to break. Because it is not alone, it is supported from all sides by similar beliefs we have ingrained into our psyche: it’s not okay to be unproductive; it’s not okay to feel sad, anxious, or depressed; it’s not okay to need help; it’s not okay to fail; and so on and so forth. We live in a society where mental health is still a taboo subject for many, and being poor, sick, or out of work is portrayed as being something you can simply change, if only you tried harder. And we’re so used to that mentality, that we don’t even think to question it.
I know that my shame and guilt and fear right now all come from these very beliefs. I recognise that my habit of worrying over the future and desperately trying to fix things, come from this feeling of not being good enough. I understand that I am my own worst enemy, and that I need to change my own perspective so that I begin to truly believe that it is okay to not be okay. Because right now I’m not okay, far from it. Right now my battle is with myself, to learn that it is okay to simply be and that doing so doesn’t mean I have lost.
Inspirational change doesn’t happen overnight, it is a journey that begins with a single step. And sometimes that first step is accepting that it’s okay to not be okay, at least for now.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, I’m sure you know by now that my health has never been great. And if you’ve followed me on instagram lately, you will likely have noticed a big “healing” theme to my posts. But the truth is, I am more sick that I have ever been in my life right now and it has been really hard for me to accept that life as a spoonie really sucks sometimes.
I first came across the term “spoonie” in my early twenties, around the time of my Endometriosis diagnosis. And it felt like such a relief to realise there was an explanation for all I was feeling. I had struggled to keep up with people for years, spent most of my University evenings staying in and getting an early night whilst my friends went clubbing, and would sleep for hours during the holidays to “recoup” from late nights and early mornings studying and finishing a multitude of assignments (language degrees tend to be pretty heavily weighted in the coursework department!)
Of course, you don’t get as many weeks’ holiday to rest once you move into the world of work, and adding in a commute meant that my mid-twenties taught me a lot about my limits as a Spoonie and that sometimes you just have to make sacrifices. By the time we started trying for a baby I thought I knew my limits and how to honour them. How wrong I was!
The past 5 years have been filled with events and experiences that have pushed me beyond my limits in a way I could never have imagined. Hyperemesis during pregnancy (with anaemia, Obstetric Cholestasis, and an unstable pelvis to boot) meant that I started my life as a parent physically beaten and emotionally exhausted. Sleep deprivation, which continued for years with our Little Man, who still at almost 5 years of age only sleeps around 9-10 hours a night and wakes regularly in the night too, affected my ability to rest and recover.
Returning to work, to help make ends meet and pay off our debt, meant that I had less time than ever before and suddenly had to split myself between work and home life. This became increasingly difficult when I moved into a homeworking role, one where my passion for the cause blinded me to the dangers of being “on the front line”, meeting people’s needs when those needs were intrinsically linked to my own personal trauma. And on top of all that, my husband was diagnosed with Small Fibre Neuropathy, meaning he lives in immense daily pain and, as he struggles to come to terms with his diagnosis, his emotional and mental health has taken a real beating.
So, as you can imagine, by the time we reached the end of 2014 I was completely and utterly spent. I remember crying as I walked the long route to nursery to collect Little Man, because I didn’t know how I was going to take another step. I remember being so terrified that I was losing my mind when I became obsessed with what was happening at work and I couldn’t eat or sleep as the anxiety made me so ill. And I remember praying for an answer, knowing that I had given it my all (and more) and I just could not go on any longer…
Of course, I was made redundant at the beginning of 2015, and things began to pick up. I felt well again, I had energy, I was sleeping and cooking and eating and enjoying life. Heck, when we finally moved back to my hometown I started two new jobs, working far more hours than I had initially contracted for, and spent almost every weekend busily attending conferences, visiting family, and having a great time. I thought that was it, that I’d survived the burnout of the past few years, and things were finally on the up!
Except, now I know better. That initial sense of relief that came with making positive changes in my life, was short-lived. No Spoonie can run themselves dry, borrowing not only days’ but weeks’, months’, even years’ worth of spoons without repaying it at some point. And yet still I tried to ignore it. The latter part of 2015 was overshadowed by three-day migraines, daily nausea, awful cramps, all of which I assumed were symptoms related to my Endometriosis. I ended the year with surgery and new meds that had helped previously and I thought 2016 would be okay. But it wasn’t.
I began this year experiencing extreme fatigue that seemed to last for days, especially after a week at work when my shifts all fell on consecutive days. I also began to suffer from joint pain again, as my left hip kept trying to “pop out” without warning, day after day. So I saw the doctor, thinking it was my Hypermobility. Except this time the word “autoimmune disorder” was mentioned and I was referred to a Rheumatologist. Since then I have had another GP, a consultant, and a physiotherapist all mention various autoimmune disorders to me, and I am awaiting screening for Lupus as various things in my blood report suggest it as a possibility. And I finally have to accept that after all I’ve been through, all my body has endured, this is perhaps inevitable – if you don’t respect the spoons you have, things are gonna get worse!
And I look back over the past few years and wonder why I was so determined to ignore that. It’s not that I didn’t know it, because I’ve always known it. My mum was diagnosed with ME when I was in my teens, so I have known about autoimmune disorders for most of my life. I also knew that there is often a crossover of these conditions, where someone like me with Endometriosis (for example) could have a higher risk of developing an autoimmune disorder. It’s one of the reasons why I finally decided I could never have another baby – my body did not recover as well as many of the other Hyperemesis mums seemed to, and I’d watched a dear friend go on to be diagnosed with Lupus following her own Hyperemesis pregnancy. I just didn’t want to risk that. No, I knew about the risk, I just chose to ignore it.
Perhaps that is unfair. The reality is that I had very little choice – my baby needed caring for, my husband needed support in coming to terms with his diagnosis, and the debt needed paying off. Whilst in hindsight I may have made different decisions (for instance, we paid off our debt much quicker with me in a part-time role than we did when I was working full-time!) I can’t go back and change it now. All I can do is learn from it and move forwards.
The reality of life as a spoonie is really clear to me right now. I am so sick that I do not have good days, not really. A good day to me is one in which I can get out of bed, eat without feeling too sick, play with my child a little bit, and maybe put a load of laundry in so that we have some clean clothes. On days like that I have to remind myself to limit what I do, that whilst my house is a mess and I’d love to take my son to the park and enjoy the sun, if I do so I will regret it tomorrow. Because my bad days are really bad. On a bad day I can barely move – I just do not have any energy – and I run a fever, feel dizzy and sick, and struggle to even concentrate on the smallest of tasks like reading a book or sending an email. And I want to avoid those bad days as much as I can.
I know there is no quick fix to this. I know that I ran on borrowed energy for far too long, and that I have to repay that debt with exactly the same amount of care and patience as we paid off our financial ones. But it is hard, so hard! There are days when I feel like a terrible mother, because all Little Man hears all day is, “I’m sorry, mummy feels too poorly to do that.” There are days when I feel like a terrible wife, because TJ is also struggling and I simply cannot do anything to help him out any more, I have to look after myself first. And there are days when I feel like the world’s worst friend, because I’ve not been in touch with anyone for weeks (not even on Facebook) and my mum has to call me to tell me a friend has announced her much wanted pregnancy so I don’t miss it entirely. But that’s the reality of life as a Spoonie, especially when you’ve run out of spoons.
I’m hopeful that as and when I embrace this life of a Spoonie, really accept that this is how things must be and that the sacrifices I make are for a better future, that things will get better. I know many people who have been where I am and have then gone on to manage their condition better over time. I know it is possible to come back from this, and that is what is keeping me going right now. But the only way to do that is to listen to my body, honour its desperate need for rest, and do whatever it takes to begin to heal. I mentioned to someone recently that I know if I am ever to heal, I need to make BIG change in my life. And that’s the reality of life as a Spoonie.
Tell me, if you’re a Spoonie, what does life as a Spoonie look like for you?
This afternoon I was sitting with Little Man and asked him, “do you know who I love?” When he turned to look at me, waiting for my answer, I told him, “I love you, and I love daddy, and I love Thomas and Percy (our two new guinea pigs)”. And do you know what his reply was?
And you love yourself too!
This isn’t the first time he’s said this to me, but every time he does I am blown away by how deep and profound his response is. And yet, to him, it isn’t deep or profound at all, it just is. And therein lies the beauty of it – if we can love another, we must surely love ourselves.
And it makes me wonder – at what point in my life did I stop seeing things with this kind of clarity and start leaving myself off that all important list of those I love? If asked about self-love, I’d say that of course I think it’s important that we love ourselves as well as others. But thinking it is important is not the same as actually loving myself with the same level of intention and intensity as I love and value others.
Which is why Little Man’s response is so powerful to me, because it challenges me to really consider not only whether I truly love myself (and what that may mean) but also how that love manifests and why I have (until now) valued it far below the love that I have for him and others. I want to live a life with that same kind of simplicity that says, “you love yourself too, don’t forget that!”
But then, of course, my rational mind comes into play and I start over-analysing it all. I begin to ask questions like “what does loving yourself actually mean?” and “what does that even look like?” I don’t know about you, but whenever I think about self-love I often come across a wall where the bricks are engraved with words such as “fear”, “ego”, “pride”, and “selfish”. I am so worried that by loving myself fully I will become unbalanced and “full of myself”, and that scares the hell out of me.
And I wonder why that is, why do I fear love so much when I know how powerful it can be? Of course, therein lies the crux – love is so powerful. I know that by loving myself everything will change, but instead of focusing on all the positive results this could bring I see only the negative possibilities. Why is that? When did I stop trusting love and start fearing it?
I’d like to be able to blame it on all the bad things that have happened in my life, all the difficulties with my health, struggles with finances, challenges in the workplace etc, but the reality is that I can’t blame any of these things. The circumstances of my life have naturally had an impact on me, but the lack of self-love goes much deeper. No matter what has happened in my life, I have continued to have a great love for so many people, that side of love (the giving side) has never been compromised. But the receiving side, that’s where I struggle. And that goes right back as far as I can remember…
This lack of self-love has manifested in so many ways – low self-esteem, lack of confidence, inability to say no, acting like a martyr, I could go on and on! In fact , over the past couple of days I have begun to realise that the only reason my dreams of making a living doing the thing I love most has never quite come true is because I do not value myself and my skills enough to expect payment for them. I feel hugely uncomfortable at the idea of charging for my services, even though I know that I do it so well. And so, the reality of this is that year after year my dream remains just that, a dream that other people get to do but I don’t, not because they are any better at it than I am but rather because I do not value myself enough to get out there and do it.
And even though I know this, I find it so hard to change. But change I will. I want to love myself, I want to follow the advice and inspiration of so many who have said time and time again that the key to living a happy and successful life lies in loving yourself enough to feel you deserve a happy and successful life. And I want be like Little Man, with the knowledge that self-love is the most natural thing in the world. And that starts today…
Tell me – do you love yourself too?
I’m linking this post up with the #sharethejoy linky hosted by Michelle at The Joy Chaser and Regina at You are a Daisy, because this post really was written at the start of a very incredible week for me, one which brought me a huge sense of joy! I have so much more I want to write about the amazing shift in perception that self-love can bring, and just how much that changes everything in your life, but for now I am sharing the post that started one of the most amazing weeks I’ve had in a very long time!
Have you ever noticed that there is a real expectation in society that it is not only admirable to “have it all” but also entirely possible to do so? And yet, I don’t think I have ever met (or heard of) anyone who truly “has it all”, have you?
Sure, I’ve read all those inspirational books and interviews with people who appear to have it all, those who balance work and home life beautifully and have created a lifestyle that suits them perfectly, but I’d like to hazard a guess that there are things that they too have had to let go of or leave behind in striking such a balance.
What we see in these stories are the good points, the bits that work, but we never see the failed attempts made along the way or the things that have had to change whether change was wanted or not. And yet it is those parts which really speak to me, remind me that we are all human and that we all have limits.
Recognising and honouring our limits can be so difficult, especially when we are bombarded with messages that tell us that we can “have it all” so long as we want it enough. Sometimes this message isn’t even meant in a negative way – inspirational and motivational messages of hope really do have a place in helping us to achieve our goals and make our dreams a reality. But without the balance of messages that remind us that sometimes we just have to accept our limits, we can easily find ourselves pushing beyond boundaries that are there for a reason.
I say this from experience. Over the past few years, since becoming a mother, I have tried to “have it all”. I have wanted to raise my child in a happy and healthy home, help my husband provide financially for my family, achieve multiple dreams connected to my writing, be the best friend and neighbour I can be, improve my skills through ongoing education and personal reading, and all whilst still finding time to relax and enjoy life. I never thought that this sounded like too much – it’s what anyone would want, right? But in trying to do it all, I have worn myself to the bone for far too long and am facing the consequences of this.
You see, this past year my health has been appalling. Admittedly it hasn’t been great for years, but for a long time this was masked by the fact that I had the time and space to rest and recover whenever I pushed myself beyond my limits. This just isn’t the case now that I am a mother, even less so since returning to work and trying to balance work and home life. And in my attempts to carry on regardless (because, hey, it really is possible to “have it all” don’t you know?) I have not only ignored my limits but have downright trodden all over them.
And the reality of this is that my body has begun to fall apart in ways that make me stop and reassess the situation. I have no choice to carry on regardless these days, I have to respect and honour my limits. But in doing so I am beginning to realise that this really is the key to healing – it is only when we understand that we need to be healed that the healing can begin. And this, for me, means accepting my limits and making changes to ensure that I can honour them too.
Of course there are some things I cannot change – my responsibilities as a parent must always come first, and I have to work in order to continue to pay the bills. But when I look at all the other things I was trying to achieve I realise that some things will simply have to wait. That novel I’ve been wanting to complete for years now can wait a few more years – the time I could spend writing could be spent sleeping instead! And those crochet patterns I’m just dying to try out will still be there next year, when the yoga I begin to do this year helps my body heal and I have more energy.
As for that blogging conference I always attend and love so much, well as much as it pains me to sell my ticket I know that spending my annual leave resting and recuperating rather than travelling and networking will be time well spent. There is always next year, after all! And the added bonus of not attending it means that the money I would have spent in getting there can be put to use in my healing journey. And that’s what it’s all about…
You see, honouring your limits doesn’t mean giving up on everything. Yes, it means making conscious decisions about what is and isn’t achievable and yes it also means realising that trying to “have it all” can be a dangerous game to play, but it doesn’t mean giving up on everything. I have some pretty big dreams right now that, if they come together, will make things a whole lot easier for us as a family in the long-term. But in order to make them a reality I need to invest in my own health and well-being first, something which is really quite alien to me.
So by honouring my limits and prioritising the most important things in my life right now I am not really deciding it is impossible to “have it all” but rather looking to “have the best for me”. And that, my friends, is what I think it’s all about.
Since re-opening The Family Patch my to-do list has grown immeasurably. Not only am I now writing two blogs, but I am also working on products, services and resources behind-the-scenes for both (and a new venture that pulls them both together under a single brand). No easy feat, especially when you consider I also work 3 days a week and Little Man still only does 15 hours a week at pre-school!
But my to-do list became pretty epic last week when on top of all of the above, I was struck down with the flu (so out of action for several days, and still not fully up to speed). And I’m pulling extra shifts at work to cover holidays and absences. Let’s just say spare time is not a word I recognise right now…
So you’d be forgiven for thinking that taking time-out for a walk in the local Arboretum would be bottom of my life of things to do. I mean, with laundry piles as high as my waist, a house to tidy, and two blog posts to hash out today, a walk in the park really shouldn’t be a priority, should it? But you know what, I’m starting to learn that the less time I have the more time I should make for simply stopping to smell the roses.
I’m far more productive when I take time out to relax and breath and recentre myself, especially in light of my focus on “Healing” this year. And so that’s what I did – I dropped Little Man off at pre-school and then went for a walk. With my camera. Because it’s a beautiful day. And I’m so glad I did, because here’s what I found…
Such happy sights of Spring! They filled my heart with joy and reminded me of the wonder and beauty in nature that I so often overlook and miss as I whizz about from one task to the next, forgetting to sit back and watch as nature unfolds her bounty year after year!
Tell me – do you ever ditch the to-do list in favour of taking some time out?
I’m linking up with #sharethejoy again this week as my walk in the park really brought me so much joy today!
Well, hello there! It seems like such a long time since we spoke, and I have missed you on so many occasions. How have you been?
I kind of disappeared all of a sudden, without very much warning, didn’t I? I hadn’t realised just quite how confusing that would be until several of you mentioned wondering where I had disappeared too. The truth is that I had an epiphany moment one day when I realised I needed to step away for the sake of my own well-being and I wasn’t even sure I’d come back.
Have you ever had a moment like that, when out of nowhere you just know you need to step away for a while in order to find your feet once more? Looking back I can see that I had known deep in my heart I needed to do it for such a long time but, as is so often the case, I resisted it for far too long. So when that moment of clarity arrived I acted upon it swiftly and surely and I didn’t look back.
I cannot tell you how good it has been for my soul to put that distance between myself and what I had been doing here at The Patch. The past 5 years have been such a massive challenge for my little family in so many ways and by blogging so openly and honestly about it I found that every time I came online I was reminded of each battle, each wound, each pain. I wasn’t able to give my heart, soul, mind, or body chance to heal and that was what I so desperately needed to do.
So you can imagine how amazing it felt to get away, put some distance between myself and the past, and allow myself the chance to begin finding out who I am now and what I want from life. It’s an ongoing process but I finally feel like I have reached a place where I am able to see the scars healing where there were only open wounds a few months ago. I think the best way to sum this up is in a thought that came to me just the other day…
If you want to add value to the lives of others, you have to first add value to your own
It’s akin to the old saying “Healer, Heal Thyself” really isn’t it? For too long now I have been trying to help inspire, encourage, and support others when I desperately needed to do that for myself first. Over the past few weeks I have started taking great strides in that direction and I have to say it is really making things flow in such a different way than they were before.
Words are suddenly pouring out of my heart and onto the page where once the fear within me kept them locked up. And opportunities to make life-long dreams come true are starting to appear, making me wonder how on earth I ever missed the connection that seems so obvious now (more on this later, it is a whole new direction for me which I’m currently working on behind the scenes).
Even more amazing, for me, is that now that I have started to value my own well-being enough to ask for help I am finding that support is coming from so many different directions I can hardly believe it . Just this past week an unexpected package arrived in the post which came at exactly the moment I was beginning to question things that only a gift like that could answer. And suddenly I find that I have the overwhelming urge to reopen The Family Patch and start reconnecting with you all with a lighter heart and a happier mind.
I’ve given it all a bit of a freshen up, to mark the occasion as I come back to blogging here, but don’t be surprised if it continues to change over the coming weeks. For the first time in far too long I actually feel like it doesn’t matter what I write or how I write it here at The Patch – this space is my own and it is a place for me to do what matters to me. That freedom is something that has been lacking for far too long here and I am so happy to change it.
So, all I have left to say is that I am so very glad to welcome you back here to my little online home. I do so love having you here and I cannot wait to catch up with you all.
I’m sharing this post with the #sharethejoy linky over at The Joy Chaser as being back here at The Family Patch really does bring me a lot of joy!
Today marks The Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year and the point at which the light begins to return to the world once more. This time last year I wrote a post called Solstice Reflections and reading back over it I am reminded of both major similarities and differences between this time last year and where I am today (it’s like a spiral dance).
Like last year, I have been very sick lately, pushing myself further and further until breaking point at the beginning of December. What is it about me and refusing to stop until something (usually my body) forces me to? But unlike last year, I am in a much better place both mentally and spiritually, if not necessarily physically.
I remember writing about how 2014 had been a year so tough that I felt like my soul had shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. Whilst that sounds horrendous, and it was in many ways, it was also a total blessing in disguise. It led me to choosing “Surrender” as my word for 2015 and surrender I have.
These past 12 months I lost my job, moved home, watched a loved one suffer greatly, found two new jobs, supported my husband in a new job as well, helped Little Man adjust to a new home and nursery, and begun to really find my feet with blogging again (two major highlights of which were reading this poem as part of the BritMums Live Bloggers’ Keynote and my recent post on the BritMums Blog about Endometriosis).
I could never have coped with all of these changes without first surrendering to the natural flow of life, which has taught me that no matter how dark things may seem, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in my life, I learnt to accept what is and go with the flow rather than fighting a losing battle. And it has been great.
But I still have a long way to go – this journey is far from over! Whilst I have moved with the flow, this year has moved at such great speed (how can it be December already?!) that my heart, body and soul all need time to adjust. Physically I am beat, and despite my best efforts, pushing onwards regardless has left me very weak. Which leads me to only one conclusion – my focus for 2016 needs to be that of Healing.
If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen that recently I started reading a fascinating book called The Healing Power of The Sacred Woman by Christine Page. Within its pages I have discovered the need to really embrace that which fills me with joy, making time to express myself creatively rather than stifling that great spring of inspiration whilst putting everything and everyone else first. As the author states, it’s often those who are “too nice” who get ill… I feel very much like this is a message I needed to hear (from someone other than my mother – sorry, mum, I know you’ve been telling me this for a long time now!)
Whilst it feels totally against my nature to do so, I have decided it is crucial that I do it. Putting myself first doesn’t mean that I no longer care about others, but rather that I am beginning to understand that only through self nurture can I have the strength needed to truly nurture others (without burning myself out entirely).
So, how am I going to do that?
Well, my thinking is this – I need to take a serious amount of time “out” to focus on the healing power within me, which for me comes very much through the time and space to create and write. I am a writer, it’s what I do. My teachers knew it at school. My friends and family have known it for years. My blog readers have often commented on it, and so have colleagues from time to time. And when I think about it, I realise that I know it too and always have – writing brings me complete joy (regardless of the subject) and when I write I tap into a powerful force of nature, that flows through me, easing my soul.
Looking back over the year I can see that I have started to do this, sharing poems such as Yet Still We Stand and How Long Must We Wait this year, but would you believe there was a time, around 10 years ago, when I wrote something new almost every day? And that year I was happier and healthier than I think I have ever been!
So, for the next few months I want to focus specifically on this – finding time to write and be inspired by the world around me. There is a novel I wrote a first draft of in 2010 which I am longing to rework and expand, and there are opportunities to write stories and poems that reflect all that is happening in our lives. There is also Spirit Kid Network to begin building, a process which I hope to turn into a creative rather than business one. Already I know the way to release the blocks I created through trying to make it “fit” rather than allowing it to be what it is meant to be.
And in order to do this, I need to really make the time and space for it. In recent months I have chosen to sit in bed and read, rather than staying up late watching TV, but I still struggle for time. There are things I have to do – work, cook, clean, look after Little Man etc – but equally there are things I can cut back on. And social media is one of these things.
For years now I have been saying I need to step away, but it seems so much like “social suicide” to do so, especially as a blogger. But you know what, blogging began long before the likes of Facebook and Twitter, and I do think a break from those will do me good. I spend so much time scrolling through them, time which could be spent creating something or actually reading someone else’s blog posts and commenting on them! So that’s what I’m going to do – I’m going to focus on the reading and writing and less on the sharing and tweeting, at least for a while. I want to find the “gifts within”, rather than relying on the outside world to feed my soul!
I’ve decided I want to be as symbolic as possible with this – today is 21st December and the Winter Solstice, in 3 months’ time we’ll reach 21st March and the Spring Equinox, or first day of Spring. That feels like a beautiful metaphor for this journey I wish to take – a hibernation of sorts, through the dark winter months, turning inward to find the source of my spark ready to burst forth with life once the Spring appears.