Guest Blog: Ready for Spring

By Paula Carnell: Creating a Buzz About Health

To wake up listening to birdsong is truly a magical experience and something that, having always lived in the countryside, I could too easily take for granted.

This year, spring seems to have come all of a sudden and surprised us all with the sunshine and the warm, sunny, longer days.

Since working with Bees, my awareness and appreciation of the natural cycle in the order of things has changed. I used to dread the long dark nights of autumn. October, November and December would be very difficult months for me. With my birthday in November, what I would do is always organise a big party; a big celebration to distract from the depression that would set in as the days grew shorter.

After spending seven long years of my forties in bed and wheelchair bound, I had to learn to appreciate the small things in life: a blue tit sitting on my bedroom window ledge; watching spiders weaving webs in the roof lantern above my bed; and watching the bees from the hive I could see through the bedroom window.

Recovery has taught me to appreciate the small things, every day, and not to take wellness or health for granted. We are all merely a breath away from disease or disability.

I’ve learned that the winter months, as for the bees, are my rest time. They are my chance for hibernation and the time for my body to heal. After a busy season with long summer days where I’m enjoying every ounce of daylight, either with work or play, I then need the long winter nights to sleep.

Back in February we suddenly had warm days which were getting longer, and I didn’t feel ready. It felt too early to be busy with Bees. They were awakening with the sunshine, and the plants were slowly awakening too, but were they quick enough for the bees? Was there enough food for them? I wondered about us: had we had enough time to rest and recuperate before another busy summer?

A bee research project found that healthy bees in a colony that is lined with propolis and filled with honey, spend the majority of their time resting.

So, when we say ‘busy as a bee’, we are not referring to them being busy all the time, but just when they need to be busy, pollinating flowers, collecting nectar or building wax comb. The rest of the time they are together in the hive doing nothing, maybe Meditating?

In contrast, an unhealthy hive which has its honey taken away and replaced with sugar syrup, (lacking the trace minerals essential for healthy life), this colony spends none of its time resting.

The bees emerge from the cocoons and begin a busy race for survival. Each of the phases of life is shortened and sped up: cleaning their cells as they emerge; nursing the new bees; and, finally, whilst still immature, they begin their foraging flights to collect nectar and pollen for the rest of the colony.

These bees, living a life shortened by almost half, are found shivering and twitching with their wings in tatters exhausted from life without rest.

This behaviour is caused by the toxins that the bees are exposed to. A cocktail of insecticides and pesticides and environmental poisons sprayed on our plants, leeched into our soil, drawn up by the flowers and given to the bees through the nectar and pollen. These toxins are then deposited in the honey or used to make the wax cells that they lay their eggs in.

Keeping their colony at a constant 35° ensures that the vapours from these toxins vaporises, allowing the bees to inhale this man-made mix of poison from the moment they emerge.

These toxic fumes affect the nervous system, preventing the bees from pausing between each nerve impulse. Each cell in their body is constantly bombarded with stimulation. Without these important pauses, the muscles are exhausted, the brain is exhausted, no organ in the body has been able to repair itself which it can only do during rest and sleep.

Could we be seeing parallels in our own lives?

What if the same poisons we use on our land and in our homes to keep us pest free, have now poisoned the water we drink and the air we breathe, and are now affecting our own nervous systems, pressurising us to work and play hard, not to rest or meditate.

We haven’t yet reached the ‘silent spring’ that biologist Rachel Carson wrote about in the 1960s. I can still hear birds and I do have bees in my garden, but there are places in the world where insects are scarce, and birds are scarcer. As we dispose of unwanted nature are we slowly disposing of ourselves?

As we have this respite from winter with bright sunshine, clear skies and dry feet, let’s use it to enjoy nature and to care for the wildlife around us, using this time to nurture ourselves and the environment we live in. Should more of winter return, let’s use that time to rest so that when we have the longer days and we need more work to be done, we have the energy reserves, and the strength to make the world a better place.


Bio

Paula’s book ‘Artist to Bees’ was published in February 2019 and is available from her website and local independent bookshops. www.paulacarnell.com

Paula Carnell was born in Dorset, England and has spent much of her adult life living in Castle Cary Somerset. Forming ‘Possi’ in 1990 as part of the Prince’s Youth Business Trust’ scheme, she soon had a successful enterprise selling her original paintings on silk, and printed greeting cards of her work in over seven hundred shops across the UK and exporting to eleven countries worldwide. Opening a gallery in Castle Cary in 1995 established her as a familiar face in the town, until she ‘retired’ from retail in 2004 and focused on her personal painting career. Exhibiting in London and the USA, Paula was fulfilling her dream as a globe travelling artist. Then in 2008, she began to fall ill, becoming bed and wheelchair bound with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome in 2009. The following seven years were spent on a personal quest to find meaning in life, transforming from an artist to a bee speaker. Achieving a full recovery in 2016, she is studying as a medical herbalist with the IRCH, runs her business ‘Creating a Buzz about Health’, working as a Global beekeeping consultant, writer and speaker. She lives in Castle Cary with her husband Greg and three sons.

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Guest blog – Is your horse Spring ready (part 2)

By Catherine Howes of UniquEquine Equine Therapy

The therapies I use are:

  • McTimoney-Corley Skeletal Manipulation
  • CranioSacral Therapy
  • Massage
  • Reiki

I also have training in Saddle Fitting and Rider Biomechanics.

McTimoney-Corley Skeletal Manipulation is a gentle form of adjusting/ realigning the bones of the body. Freeing and opening the joints allows better range of motion and function.

The adjustments are delivered with speed rather than force, and stimulate the body to respond by releasing the bones, opening the joint and easing surrounding muscle spasm/ tension.

In correct skeletal alignment the body is stronger and more functional in many ways. The soft tissues are under less strain and torque so can work efficiently.

The nerves have a clearer, less interrupted path to follow so are less likely to suffer impingements or overstretch…which can lead to issues in any of the bodily systems.

The joints are under less force and twisting, which can lead to short and long term injury and issues.

CranioSacral Therapy works on the horse right at their core. Using the lightest of palpation, I feel for the CranioSacral pulse… this is the rhythm of the flow of cerebrospinal fluid being excreted in the brain and pushed down the spinal canal.

This flow can be compared to, though is not in direct association with, respiration. The CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) carries nutrients through the brain and to the spinal cord, bathing and protecting the nerves, and carrying away any waste… toxins, cell debris etc as it is goes.

When feeling this pulse, I am observing any disturbances, irregularities, restrictions etc. I will then work to release these.

This ‘breathing’, whilst contained in the brain and spinal canal, can be felt and influenced throughout the body.

I work to release cranial compression and trauma directly on the head, ‘unlocking’ the sutures between the cranial bones providing the space for the skull to expand with the production and filling of CSF in the brain, allowing it to move freely.

It is of utmost importance that the cranial bones are addressed. Being the casing and protection for the brain is a responsible job! If these bones are compromised… which can happen so easily… trauma, infection, dentistry, tack, stress etc, their whole system suffers.

Benefits of CranioSacral Therapy can be –

  • Improved function of the nervous system, not only helping physical symptoms, but aids the body to deal with stress
  • Alleviates pain and dysfunction
  • Improves mobility by releasing tension and restriction
  • Improves digestive heath
  • Improves the immune system
  • Unwinds stress and injury patterns
  • Helps the flow of energy
  • Releases emotional stress and trauma
  • Gives a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation
  • Helps reconnect the body, mind and spirit.

Massage is a great way of palpating and treating muscle tension, spasms etc.

Whilst palpating the horse I will be feeling for these as well as any changes in heat… hot or cold, reaction to my touch, change in tone, twitching etc.

These findings will be worked on with local massage but also the above therapies.

Reiki is the transfer of universal energy from one being to another. The energy flows through the healer, who is used as a conduit, to aid physical, mental and emotional healing. The body will take the energy where it is needed.

Areas covered:

I am based in Mid-Somerset and currently cover Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset, Bath and North East Somerset and Bristol.

I am happy to travel to new areas.

Contact details:

Please contact me for a chat and more information:

  • or on 07734874673.

Alternatively, you can find me on:

  • Facebook at ‘Uniquequine

Thank you for reading! I hope you have found the article helpful.

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to get in touch.

Wishing you and your horses happiness and good health –

With love, Catherine x

Guest Blog – Is your horse Spring ready? (part 1)

This month I’m exited to share this great piece by Catherine Howes of UniquEquine Equine Therapy. It’s a wonderfully comprehensive article on the points to consider when supporting your horse in getting ready for Spring. Part 2 follows next week and includes a great offer, so you won’t want to miss it!

For the majority of horses, the winter routine and lifestyle is quite different to that of the summer months.

With the shorter days and colder weather there are many environmental and management factors that come into play that affect our horses… and in more ways than we may first think.

These include:

  • Reduced activity – turnout/ exercise
  • Less interaction with others – socialising/ grooming etc
  • More time wearing rugs
  • Change in diet
  • Less time in a grazing posture
  • Ground conditions
  • Less sunlight

Each of these will have a small to significant impact on your horse, depending on the individual and their circumstances. However, there are things we can do as horse owners to counterbalance and minimise these issues, and keep our horses happy and healthy into spring.

Reduced activity means the body is used less. The muscles, ligaments, tendons all become shortened and less elastic. The joints open and close less and go through less range of motion.

This all leads to stiffness, reduced mobility and the potential for injury is increased.

Alongside this other systems slow down… metabolism – leading to potential weight gain. The circulatory system is less active, so the feed of nutrients and oxygen in the blood is slowed. This can affect healing and detoxing in the body.

Less interaction with others has varying results for our horses.

The stimulation provided by the social interaction is so important to horses. Socialising/ grooming/ playing/ observing …even the ability to ‘be’ in their place in the pecking order.

Depending on their management, they may have contact with others, and take the opportunity to mutual groom. This isn’t always simply about ‘itching that scratch’ but can be a way for them to help each other out with a sore or tight spot.

Although it can look as though horses do very little other than graze, being flight animals they are constantly aware of and reacting to their environment.

So, not only does their physical activity become lessened, but also their mental stimulation.

I am sure many of you are already thinking ‘No wonder horses have stable vices…’

So, the more that can be done to keep the horse’s brain as well as it’s body active, the better for both physical and psychological reasons.

A few ways of doing this are –

  • As much turn out as possible, or as your horse is happy with – not all like being out in the dark and cold!
  • Regular exercise – ridden/ in hand/ lunging/ long reining/ loose schooled/ led from another etc.
  • Grooming – a fantastic activity, and quite underrated for physical and mental health.
    • It improves blood flow, relieves tension and increases relaxation.
    • Brushing your horse mimics the mutual grooming  interaction between horses.  
    • It gives an opportunity to get to know and monitor changes to your horse’s body.  
    • Grooming is a lovely bonding and connecting experience.
  • Hand grazing – if there is no opportunity for turnout, lead your horse to a tasty patch of grass and let it graze, especially if there are hedgerows and other greenery for him to forage, and he can pick out what he wants and needs.
  • If you horse is stabled, try to ensure that a constant (or regularly replenished) source of forage is available. This is better for their digestion rather than to have long gaps with nothing to eat – an empty stomach is more susceptible to ulcers. It also helps to relieve boredom.

Horses are very sociable animals, and are herd animals. Even if they seem ‘ok’ on their own, many of them will internally stress if kept in solitude. Having another equine, or even a goat/ sheep/ alpaca (!) will have a huge influence on your horse’s well being. As mentioned earlier, they are flight animals and so constantly are in a degree of fear, even though they’ve never seen a predator in their field, they rely on other members of their herd to alert them of any danger. If they are alone, they never have the down time and relaxation they do in a group when someone else is on watch.

Throughout our colder, wetter months we often choose, or need, to rug our horses. Whether it is for warmth and protection against the elements, maintaining condition or simply cleanliness, most horses wear rugs.

I wholly appreciate these needs and think that, on the whole, with the environment horses are in, rugs are helpful and have many benefits.

However, there are a few downsides to wearing them, especially for prolonged periods:

  • Pressure – usually on the withers. It is essential that this area is checked regularly for sores, heat, irritation, hair loss etc. Frequently removing the rug, and, if necessary, interchanging them as the weight and cut of the rug will put pressure on different areas.
  • The shoulders are another area that is prone to rubbing.
  • Restricted movement – even with the best fitting rug, the horse’s movement will be slightly reduced or altered. With poorly fitting, tight, heavy or multiple rugs, this is significantly worsened.

Also inevitable over these months, is the change in diet.

The nutritional value in the grass will decrease in winter. Apart from potential weight loss and the loss of some nutrients, horses don’t tend to display too many ill-effects from this reduction. However, with the warmer weather, sunshine and longer daylight hours, comes rich grass… delicious, sugary ‘goodness’! And the horses love it!

This brings it’s own cluster of potential problems –

  • Laminitis
  • Colic
  • Azoturia
  • Weight gain
  • Behavioural issues.

With the reduced hours of turn out, horses adopt the grazing posture far less. They are anatomically and physiologically designed to spend hours a day with their neck and back open, head down with their jaw in a vertical position.

In their natural environment horses will cover 30 – 40 miles per day. Much of this will be at the walk, foraging and grazing, meandering along. This is done in the aforementioned posture. This posture keeps the horse’s body in great shape

topline naturally open, allowing more range of movement in the axial and appendicular skeleton and also the jaw is in correct alignment. In this position, the horse will be less susceptible to unnatural, uneven and problematic tooth wear.

With the head down and the jaw vertical to the ground the upper and lower jaw line up at their optimal position. Biting and chewing is easier, the correct alignment also means that the TMJ (temperomandibular joint) is working as it is designed, so there is less compression/tension, and the masseter (large muscle covering the lower jaw) is less worked.

The masseter is the strongest muscle in the horse’s body (per square inch) and is a huge pattern setter. Therefore, if this is affected negatively, it will have significant knock on/ secondary effects throughout the body.

Stabled horses are frequently fed from nets, or above the ground which takes away their natural posture and function. If we can recreate as much of this natural positioning for our horses, we can eliminate many issues.

Hay / feed given on the floor, while messy, is so much better for their body. If they waste some in their bed, try feeding less initially until they get the idea!

Also the positioning of their food is relevant.

Ground conditions can be testing … this last 8 months or so we have seen the driest, hottest summer in years. With this glorious weather, came the hard ground….and it was relentless!

While in many ways it was absolute bliss for horses and their owners, the going did take its toll. As a therapist I saw many horses still showing signs of being jarred up right into the winter months. I also found horses struggling with more muscle / body fatigue related issues as the hard ground was a constant source of concussion. Added to this, horses were lying down for less time outdoors, as it just isn’t comfortable lying on ground that hard!

Following that, the inevitable happened and the rain came… bringing with it slippery, greasy conditions; and the increased risk of overstrain, tears, etc to muscles and other soft tissues.

Both the jarring up, and the decreased range of motion from less activity can heighten the chance of injury. Therefore, it is important for us to reduce these risks as much as we can.

Therapy for your horse – to identify and alleviate any issues they are having – includes:

  • Stretching
  • Exercise
  • Grooming
  • Regular turnout
  • Prevention of getting too cold
  • Good diet

Like us, less exposure to the sun can cause the horse to feel subdued, depressed and lethargic.

The sun has physical and psychological benefits…  Vitamin D absorption, warmth on stiff / aching muscles and that feel good factor as well.

When there is a sunny day, take off the rug for a while, or even just the neck cover.. allow your horse to feel the sun’s rays on their skin.

Therapy for your horse can provide many benefits…

  • Improved relaxation
  • Improved comfort
  • Improved circulation
  • Improved immunity
  • Improved digestive heath and metabolism
  • Improved nerve function
  • Improved muscle tone/ evenness/ mass
  • Improved range of motion
  • Improved flow of energy around the body
  • Improved connection with body, mind and soul

Therapy can also

  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce chance of injury
  • Aid recovery and rehabilitation
  • Release emotional trauma

It is also a great way to have your horse monitored if treated routinely; issues can be detected and dealt with quickly and more easily.

Invitation!

This week’s blog is a little bit different, as it is an invitation to an event that I’ll be hosting next month.

Having moved to Wales at the end of last year, I’m very excited to be relaunching Equenergy with an Open Day to showcase our new site
on the Blorenge, near Abergavenny!

Equenergy has been offering Health and Wellbeing therapies and coaching to people and animals for several years now and as soon as I saw this new site, I fell in love with the space, and knew that it was perfect for expanding my practice.

I’m passionate about supporting individuals in their journey towards creating a life of greater wellbeing and joy. I do this by:

  • holding a space where they can reconnect with Nature
  • focusing on getting back in touch with their inner wisdom and balance in order to live in a way that feels authentic and true.

This is what gives us that sense of peace, integrity and congruence that allows us to feel comfortable in our own skin.

What will you get from the Open Day?

It’s a chance to come and experience a little of what I offer.  There will be the opportunity to

  • have a Reiki taster,
  • go on a tour of the site (my work is all about nature and feel, so there will be a walk around the woods and fields, and also the chance to see the room I use for sessions and workshops)
  • see the horses (one of the sessions I offer is to experience mindfulness in the presence of these amazing animals.  I also offer wellbeing sessions for animals, primarily horses, and equine massage)

Who is this Open Day for?

I work primarily, but not exclusively, with women, focusing on those who are experiencing stress, overwhelm and / or chronic health conditions.  I also support those who are feeling lost; those who, on the surface, have a good life, but who have a sense that something is missing and they don’t know how to ‘make it better’.  Together we explore ways to reconnect with our inner wisdom, our emotions and the information and direction that they offer, in order to create a life of more fulfilment and joy.

I also work with animals – of any shape and size, though my main passion is horses and so this open day is also aimed at anyone who cares for an animal and would like to explore ways to support their health and wellbeing, and ways to develop an even deeper relationship and connection.

What will you come away with?

This Open Day is to give you a greater understanding of what I offer and how this support people and animals to feel more in tune with who they really are, to live congruently and with authenticity in order to feel comfortable in their own skin and to experience a greater sense of inner peace and ease.

It’s also the chance to have some time-out for yourself, to experience the peace and healing stillness of this place, and to have a taster of Reiki with me.

Date:
Saturday 23 March

Time:
10.00am – 3.00pm

Venue:
Equenergy, Rose Cottage, Oak Lane, Llanellen NP7 9LD

*Entry is free and there is some space for parking available on site.

NB: Please be aware that there are steep slopes and stony / muddy areas at the venue and so it might not be suitable for those with limited mobility. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me (details below).

If you would like to take the tour of the new site, it is advisable to bring strong, waterproof footwear, and clothes suitable for the weather on the day.

I will be publishing a full programme shortly.

You can book tickets through Eventbrite.

If you have any questions, please contact me at:

  • robyn@equenergy.com
  • 07980669303
  • or through my website

I hope you can come along. It would be great to see you!

“I don’t want to feel this way any more!”

I came across a post on Facebook the other day that shared a wonderful TED Talk given by Susan David (The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage). That, and some conversations I’ve had recently, got me thinking about why I do what I do.

Susan grew up in South Africa during apartheid which affected her deeply. I spent my childhood in Belfast at the height of The Troubles and while I was fortunate not to see some of the worst of the fighting, it was an ever present background that coloured my younger years. Perhaps that’s why I am so passionate about getting in touch with our feelings and learning how to work with them in a positive and creative way.

One of the lasting memories of my time in Northern Ireland is the banner that used to hang across the City Hall which read ‘Belfast Says No!’. That spoke volumes to me of the rigidity of people’s thinking and the lack of openness that was keeping so many trapped in their fear and pain.

And I think this is just as true on an individual level.

In her talk, Susan says that she has come across so many people who say they don’t want to carry on feeling the way they do. They are referring to emotions such as anger, sadness, disappointment and fear. But Susan believes that these are ‘dead people’s goals‘ because only people who have died no longer feel these emotions.

We generally live in a society that pushes for a positive outlook and has little time for what it has come to label ‘negative’ emotions. (See my earlier blog series: ‘Positive thinking – is it always a good thing?’) I think this has forced many people into feeling that they have to play a particular role, and to disconnecting from their true feelings, causing a part of them to ‘die’ inside. From this place we can easily feel lost, overwhelmed and hopeless.

Susan talks about the women who are told that they ‘shouldn’t’ feel angry, or the person who’s been diagnosed with cancer being told to ‘just stay positive’. And of course there are the commonly held beliefs such as ‘boys don’t cry‘. But what does this do to someone who is feeling angry, or who is reeling from hearing that they have a potentially life-limiting illness? And how are boys – and men – supposed to deal with feelings of hurt and loss? This creates a society of individuals who feel unheard, unseen and forced to wear an uncomfortable and ill-fitting mask, just to be accepted.

So what happens to the real feelings? Do they go away?

No, they just get pushed down, go underground, where they grow and fester.

And we can start to use outside things to cover them up – or push them down and keep them buried – eg food, alcohol, busy-ness and other ‘addictions’.

But deep down, our body still knows that all is not well. E-motions are meant to flow. The word itself gives us a clue to the fact that these feelings are energy in motion. They are there for a reason – they are our barometer; our guide to what is working for us and what isn’t; data that we can use to find our way to a life of joy and wellbeing. In an ideal world we would explore these emotions and process the data they offer in order to make the choices that best serve us. But when we push the feelings down, when we haven’t developed the tools to learn from them and grow, then they get stuck, magnify and lead to dis-ease.

I heard, just yesterday, about a friend of a friend, who is living a life of chronic anxiety. Even when there is nothing immediately obvious for her to worry about, it’s as if she has to find something to fret over. She has become so accustomed to this way of being and her body craves the adrenaline and the energy it brings, but her health is suffering and she’s no longer able to cope with many of the things that she used to do, including her work. Even just leaving the house has become an ordeal for her.

I believe that this happens when we don’t face the truth of what we’re feeling. For a while we can get by behind the mask, but as Susan says in her talk, it’s not sustainable. Like one of those stress balls, we might be able to push our feelings down in one place, but they will generally then surface somewhere else.

As I said above, our feelings serve a purpose. Not only do they give us valuable information but they can be our motivation to make things better.

I think that a large part of the problem is that society labels our feelings and conditions us into certain expectations of behaviour and conduct. However emotions are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, they just are. You feel how you feel. It’s what you do with those feelings that’s important. If we could stop beating ourselves up when we feel certain emotions then a large part of their hold over us would be gone. Instead we could choose to look at things from a more objective viewpoint and with the perspective of a beginner’s curiosity.

We need to start by exploring the nature of the feeling. Giving a name to the emotion – being as accurate and un-dramatic as we can – is the first step in developing Emotional Intelligence. When we do this, we know exactly what it is that we’re dealing with which helps us to move on to the next step…

What is going on behind the feeling?

  • Why am I feeling this way?
  • What triggered this feeling?
  • Is there an unmet need here?
  • What resources can I draw on to meet that need?

We can use journaling, somatic dialogue (tuning in to a part of the body and asking it about how it’s feeling and what it might be holding), art, movement and other techniques to explore the many layers of our being in order to tune in to our inner wisdom.

This can be a very empowering process but with that comes responsibility. We need to be conscious in the way that we use this new knowledge about ourselves. The aim is to show up with authenticity, integrity and even vulnerability and to allow and encourage others to do the same. (You might like to explore Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B Rosenberg for further ideas on this.)

If you are someone who has wanted the painful feelings to stop, or you feel that you’re wearing a mask, and you feel ready to explore a different way, then please get in touch. I’m very happy to have a no obligation chat to discuss ways that you can tap in to all the wonderful resources that you hold within yourself.

Some thoughts on my highs and lows of winter horse care!

The last couple of weeks have felt pretty tough here at Equenergy. This is my first year of being a horse carer, having welcomed Dax back in May last year, and Rika in October when we moved to Wales and got our own land. It has been a steep learning curve!

About a week ago, on Friday, we had the first snow of the season and, obviously, the first since our move. Suddenly I was having to feed the horses much more hay, as they were unable to access any grass. We were already running a little low, and had arranged an order for the Sunday anyway, but it quickly became clear that there probably wouldn’t be enough to get us through the remaining day, night and morning before we picked up more supplies.

I went through uncomfortable feelings of guilt at not being better prepared and getting into a situation where the horses might suffer because of my lack of foresight…

This came on top of me already feeling rather low, mostly due to exhaustion, which was the result of a combination of factors:

  • the short days which never seem to have enough daylight to get everything done
  • the relentless-seeming round of daily poo picking; often in wind, rain, mud and semi-darkness at this time of year
  • juggling appointments, working on the house, business stuff (such as updating my website, networking, etc) and caring for the animals
  • still not having any proper internet, phone or TV connection
  • the time it takes to get things done because of the above challenges.

As you might have spotted, reading the above list, another drain on my energy has been the high level of expectation that I place on myself!

At times I’ve felt rather alone and vulnerable, and it was at one of these moments that I received some comments on a post that I’d made on Facebook. From the perspective of this low point they hit a nerve and felt like criticism. I was tempted to hide away and feel sorry for myself, but instead I decided it would be more productive to take a step back and look at the situation with a more objective view.

Doing this I quickly realised that the comments were far from being critical. They were actually just someone who cared deeply about an issue, expressing their thoughts. However their message threw a spotlight on a need in me that I hadn’t been addressing (old insecurities about how people see me and being ‘good enough’), which was bringing up old hurts and leaving me experiencing emotional discomfort. I could see that this provided a great opportunity for me to work on this inner pain in order to release it, taking a further step in setting myself free from the things that hold and restrict me. I explored the sensations I was experiencing and used them to identify where I needed to change my thoughts to be more supportive.

There are a variety of ways that we can do this kind of exploration:

  • journaling
  • mindfulness
  • meditation
  • talking with a friend or a professional coach / therapist
  • I personally used EFT (emotional freedom techniques, or ‘tapping’) as this helps to reduce painful emotions, meaning that I could look at things with greater clarity

I’ve had to remind myself, too, that change is often painful, as it pushes us out of our comfort zone. This is true, even when we were the ones who decided to make the change. Even when we know in our heads what to expect, the raw reality, and the unknown duration of the discomfort, can make it hard to keep going, and to keep trusting that we’ve made the right choices. This is especially true when we’re feeling tired, alone or unsupported.

Often when we’re feeling low, our inner critic goes into overdrive. I had to remind myself that this part of me is just trying to keep me safe, but in actual fact it’s made up of thoughts and beliefs that are untrue, or at least greatly exaggerated, and viewed from a negative bias. But I am able to choose my thoughts and beliefs, which in turn impacts on my perceptions, emotions, behaviours and the outcomes I experience. If I choose to focus on more positive, uplifting, optimistic thoughts, then I will experience more supportive, hopeful feelings, leading to behaviours which are more likely to produce the outcomes that I desire.

Sometimes we can get stuck in a negative cycle, particularly when we’re feeling run down, which is why it’s so important to take care of ourselves, doing our best to get quality rest, eat healthily, spend time outdoors in the fresh air and engage in exercise that we enjoy. It’s also important to reach out for help when we need it. Things can feel too big to face alone, but with another pair of hands / eyes, suddenly they seem much more manageable. Also, we are social creatures. We need to feel connected. When this is missing from our lives, the world can feel like a very big, scary and lonely place. Even if you feel that no-one can help, it’s still worth reaching out, as even doing something as simple as meeting a friend for a cup of coffee can bring a bit of brightness to your day and make things seem much less bleak.

Taking action in this way has also helped me to remember the many ‘highs’ of our new life here in Wales, and having horses with us. It’s so lovely to be able to spend time with them, either connecting through activities, or just being in their presence and feeling their calming, grounding energy. I’ve been seeing some subtle changes in Dax, where he seems to be processing things and being less reactive. He can tend to show some fear aggression, reverting to inappropriate behaviours – such as biting and pushing – when he feels anxious, but having started some clicker play with him, I’ve seen how he’s using his brain to find other ways to approach situations. Doing this in a safe environment seems to be giving him confidence in other areas of his life as well. Occasionally he seems to take a backwards step, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it can take time to change habits that have been held for long periods of time so I just need to remain patient and keep remembering all the good things in him so that he can see these too and step into them more fully.

Another ‘high’ is that Rika is opening up more and more each day. When she first arrived here, everything was so new for her. She’d been taken away from her people, her herd and the environment that was familiar to her. It has taken her a while to find her feet but she now regularly approaches us to say Hello, or for a cuddle or a scratch. She’s such a gentle and graceful creature that it’s a joy to spend this time with her!

I’m also deeply grateful for this amazing space all around us. The landscape is so beautiful and the light changes almost in every moment! We are surrounded by birdsong from early morning to well into the evening and it’s magical to watch the onward march of the seasons.

If you are experiencing painful emotions that feel like they’re taking over your life, and you’d like to explore some constructive ways to address the underlying issues so that you can reconnect with your balance, joy and wellbeing, then please get in touch for a no obligation chat.

PS For those of you wondering about the horses and their hay: I rang our lovely hay man, Gwyn, on the Friday and he happily gave us a couple of bales the next day which easily got us through to Sunday when we collected our order. This reminded me again that worry is unproductive and that when I reach out, help is there, supporting me through the ‘dramas’ of my life and showing me that, in fact, all is well in the end 🙂

‘I don’t know what the problem is, but I’m just not happy…’ (part 2)

Following on from last week, where I looked at physical ways that we can support our wellbeing and happiness, I will now turn to exploring the more emotional and ‘spiritual’ aspects.

Perhaps it would be good to start by explaining that, when I say ‘spiritual’, I don’t mean in any religious sense.  That might play a role, if it is important for you, but I believe that we all have a spiritual part of our being – whether or not we’re religious – that needs care and attention in order for us to be living a whole, balanced – and happy – life.

I believe that it is only by being in harmony with our inner nature, and the Nature all around us, that we can truly experience balance, wellbeing and flow.  For me, being in Nature feeds all the layers and aspects of our being and offers us many lessons on how to better care for our health on all levels.

One of the main attractions of the property that we recently moved to in Wales is the amazing Nature all around us.  I’ve known for some time that I wanted to move out of the city.  I’ve been finding it claustrophobic and stifling, feeling squeezed uncomfortably into a role and space that no longer felt ‘right’ for me.  I longed to find a place where I felt I could breathe; where I could see the sky above, and green, living things all around me.  We looked at a variety of places in our search, all of them more rural than the Bristol suburbs where we’d been living, but not truly ‘countryside’- until we found Rose Cottage!  Here we have woods, fields, trees, natural hedges and even a little stream.  I instantly felt the sense of peace that fills this place, and it was as if the coiled spring that I’d been carrying around inside of me began to unwind and relax.

Spending time outdoors, in Nature, has proven health benefits.  There are the obvious ones of fresh air, exercise and the fact that we need daylight for our bodies to synthesise Vitamin D.  In addition there is something calming and healing about the colours green and blue – the main colours that we see, at least in the UK, when out in nature.

Connecting in with the earth is beneficial, both in terms of a physical connection and also on an emotional / spiritual level.  It is very grounding, especially if we can take our shoes off and feel the earth beneath our feet, tuning into its energy and allowing it to bring us peace and balance.

Since moving here, we haven’t been connected to the internet (if you’ve been following this blog you’ll know that it’s been an ongoing saga with BT…) but I’ve really come to know and appreciate the truth of the saying:

There is something very special about getting away from the world of work, busy-ness and all the normal daily demands.  Sadly we are often so used to this ‘noise’ that we’ve forgotten how to be quiet, and lost touch with our own uniqueness – who we are without all the ‘domestication’ of our every day lives, and also the wonder of our being and all the amazing gifts that we alone can bring to the world.

So many people are experiencing stress and overwhelm in our society.  They might push it down, using work, food, alcohol, smoking, shopping, over-exercise or some other form of addiction in order to dull the pain.  But it doesn’t go away, and often it can fester inside us, leading to physical or mental dis-ease.  Sadly, trying to stop ourselves from feeling the pain in these ways effectively dis-connects us from ourselves, and from our internal guidance system, meaning that we can find ourselves feeling lost and/or making decisions that don’t serve us.  We can end up feeling discontent, unfocused and lonely, knowing that something is missing but not sure how to fill the hole…  This is what leads us to look outside of ourselves for the answer, the thing that will help us to feel fulfilled and ‘complete’, but in reality, nothing outside of ourselves can ever satisfy this need, if we don’t first take care of our inner selves.  This is where it is so important to spend some time in quiet, allowing ourselves the space to reflect, reconnect and tune in to what we really need.  Mindfulness and getting present are great ways to start.  Also practising gratefulness.  I often recommend keeping a gratitude diary, making a note of all the things you find in your day to feel thankful for, or that make you smile.  It can be as simple as a warm cup of delicious coffee, reading a good book or seeing the smile on a child’s face.  Focusing on these things will reset your focus away from negativity.  Where your attention goes, energy flows and will attract more of the same into your life, so feeding the positive is a great way to support your wellbeing.

Basically ‘overwhelm‘ is when we find ourselves in a situation where we feel that we have little or no control, and yet we’re having to juggle a high level of demand.  We feel overloaded; trapped with nowhere to go to escape.

When we make time to get out into Nature, it gives us space – both literally and emotionally – allowing us to take a step back and regain a degree of perspective, in order to reconnect with what is important to us.

I love this quote from Emily McDowell:

To me, this is what it’s all about, and it’s what being in Nature gives us the space to do.  It allows us to strip off the layers of conditioning, the masks we wear to survive in the worlds outside of ourselves, and to reconnect with Who We Really Are.  When we can do this, and appreciate the amazing being that we are, ‘warts and all’, then we can start to explore what it means to be that person, more fully.  How can we tap in to our gifts and begin to truly share them with those around us…?  This will both benefit others, and help us to grow and to feel more fulfilled – more ‘in tune’ with ourselves – that is, more comfortable in our own skin.  The feelings of stress and overwhelm begin to melt away as we step into the niche that was always there for us, waiting for the time that we would stop trying to please others, and instead allow ourselves to be all that we can be.

It’s like Marianne Williamson says:

We are ‘powerful beyond measure’ when we connect with our authentic selves.  The Universe has created you with great care, bringing many elements together over aeons of time, to result in the person that you are.

Stop and think about this for a moment…

Let the miracle of your being really settle into your consciousness…

This doesn’t just apply to others – those who are rich, or famous, or have won the Nobel Prize for something…  it applies to each and every one of us.  Being ‘small’ doesn’t serve ourselves, and it doesn’t serve those around us.  As Marianne says:

“… as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So don’t think of it as selfish to take time for yourself and to listen to your heart and follow where it leads you.  That is what you are here to do.  That is how you fulfil your potential.  That is how you be your best self and give permission to others to be their best selves.

This magical place is supporting me along my journey, and if it resonates for you, I’d love to offer you the opportunity to experience this healing space for yourself.  Together we can create a bespoke package for you to explore Who You Really Are, within this safe and supportive environment.  I work with energy, using techniques such as Reiki and EFT (‘tapping’), and also offer workshops and retreats.  If you would like to know more, please get in touch:

You can also see more on my website: equenergy.com