Taking a break

I came across a great blog post the other day by ‘The Flying Witch’, Gabriella Guglielminotti Trivel entitled Time for Wholeness.  Ms Tivel’s blog carries the subheading ‘Flying with the feminine’ and in this particular article she writes about her experiences of going through perimenopause and needing to observe and honour the changes going on within her body.

This made me think about my own situation.  I, too, am at this stage in my life, while also going through a lot of other changes – home, location, work, animals, friends, etc.  It’s been an exciting, stressful, wonderful, and exhausting 12 months, and so I felt it was time to take a look at where I am, currently, and assess how I’m doing with all that’s been going on.

The answer is that I’m feeling rather drained, and a little bit lacking in ‘mojo’.

I’ve therefore decided to take a step back from writing this blog for a while.  While I love writing and sharing with you – and would love to engage more with you all – it’s time to take a short break.  Instead I’ll be using the time to focus on resting, recharging and reassessing where I want to go next.  I also have some other writing that I want to make time for, such as the mindfulness course that I’ve had sitting on the back burner for a while.  It’ll be good to get this done rather than having it sitting, staring accusingly at me from my To Do list! 😉

Also, I have a VIP guest coming to visit next month – my Mum is coming over from Ireland to see our new home for the first time.  I’m so excited and can hardly wait to share this magical space with her.  It’ll be her first time meeting Dax and Rika too!

So, I wish you all a wonderful September with whatever you have planned, and see you again in October.

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Is your summer feeling like a bit of a wash-out?

How is your summer going?  I hope you’re getting at least some sunshine, though the UK has been experiencing some very unseasonable weather this August!  This can make such a difference to our mood and motivation levels, particularly when we’ve been holding on for our summer holidays and counting on warm sunshine, only to find that it’s cold, damp and grey outside.

We were thoroughly spoilt with hot dry days last year so the contrast can add to our disappointment.  All those plans we’d made for a ‘staycation’ or day trips with the kids during the holidays, might have ended up being a bit of a wash-out. 

Many of us work hard during the winter months, thinking that we’ll be able to take some ‘down-time’ in the summer: images of sitting on a beach, or park, or just in the garden, sipping a cool drink, and soaking up those warming rays, are what keep us going during those cold months…

We can end up running our batteries down, promising ourselves that we’ll top them up again in the warmer months…

At least, that’s how I’ve been feeling.  We moved here in October of last year on the day that storm Callum arrived and ended the 5 glorious months of sunshine.  We then spent the winter working hard to fix leaks and get the place set up for ourselves and the horses.  I know that I, for one, was hoping for a nice long summer to recharge and have more time just to enjoy being here, before the challenging weather returned.

But these things don’t always go to plan, do they!

So, what can you do if you’re finding that you’re sitting indoors feeling depressed at the wet, grey view from your window?

This can actually be an opportunity to go within and to rest deeply.  Sitting in the sunshine obviously feels amazing, and does great things for our wellbeing, but cooler, greyer weather can call us to a kind of ‘hibernation’ and it can good to take advantage of this, listen to our bodies and relax into that deep state of rest.

Also, if we’re not careful, sunny days can draw us into a different kind of busy-ness, with parties, weddings, barbeques, gardening, outdoor repairs, and so on.  All of these can be fun but it’s important to balance them out by taking a break every now and then.

And rainy weather is the perfect opportunity / excuse!

In my work I meet so many people who are frazzled and run-down.  They have an endless To Do list that just seems to get longer and their holiday, or time off, is a distant dream that keeps getting put off to another day.

But remember that:

And…

So, on those ‘not very summery’ summer days, don’t despair!  Try not to feel frustrated or upset at the weather, because after all it’s not something we can change.  Instead, use the time for some self-care:

  • book a massage, or some Bowen or aromatherapy
  • have a session in a jacuzzi or float tank
  • do some yoga, mindfulness or meditation
  • read a good book
  • or just have a lovely, indulgent afternoon nap!

And remember:

I’m sure you can come up with lots of other things to do!  Please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments below.

If you struggle with taking this time out for yourself, and some little inner voice is driving you to keep going even though you’re exhausted, then I can help.  Together we can explore where that little voice comes from and how to address it, so that it can let go and give you the peace and permission you need in order to fully rest and recharge.  After all, this will mean that you can function much more effectively and enjoy greater wellbeing.  You’ll also have the energy to include those fun things in your life that you’ve just been too tired / busy for previously.

If you’d like to have a chat, you can contact me by phone, email or through my website:

What is guilt? Is it healthy? Does it serve any useful purpose?

According to some, having been raised an Irish Catholic, I should practically have a PhD in guilt!  Seriously though, seeing the effect that it has on people’s lives, I do ponder this feeling, and its consequences, from time to time.

Recently I’ve been thinking about how strongly it relates to shame.  For most of us, this is something that we learn at a very early age.  This means that it’s acquired during the phase of our lives (0 – approximately 6 years of age) when we accept things without question, and without the ability to judge their validity or helpfulness.  As a result, shame is something that is very longstanding, deep rooted and can have a profound impact on our lives.  It is also – as alluded to in my, slightly flippant, comment above – often embedded into our culture, helping to perpetuate and strengthen its hold on us.

So, is it healthy, and does it serve any useful purpose?

If I can address the second part of that question first, I believe that guilt is only useful in as much as it alerts us to discomfort.  It shows that there is an issue that needs addressing.

When we experience discomfort in this way, it indicates that our thoughts are out of line with our Higher Self’s views on the subject.  For example, if I do something that makes me feel guilty, my inner critic is telling me all those self-shaming thoughts, such as:

  • You’re a bad person!
  • You never get anything right!
  • You’ve failed again!
  • What a stupid mistake that was!

In contrast, our Higher Self never judges us, and certainly would never address us in less than loving terms.

So, our discomfort makes us aware that we’re out of alignment.  We’re not being true to our Higher Self.

If we drill deeper, we’ll probably find it’s not just the shaming thoughts that are off balance, they’re most likely coming from our deeper awareness that we’re not living as our Best Self – we’ve allowed ourselves to be distracted by other things.

In today’s world we’re spoilt for choice on ‘distractions’:

  • Social media
  • ‘Will we / won’t we’ Brexit?
  • And, whichever way it goes, what impact will this have on the economy?
  • Has environmental damage gone beyond repair?

Then, of course, there’re also the ‘minutiae’ of our everyday lives:

  • What to have for dinner
  • Who will get together with whom on Love Island?
  • What are people thinking of me / of what I said / of how I look?

All of these things can occupy our thoughts, meaning that we’re not fully present much of the time. 

As a result, we often act, or make decisions, on a largely subconscious level.  We can end up going through our days on autopilot, reacting rather than consciously responding to situations, allowing the nervous, anxious, fearful part of our mind to make our decisions for us.  This can result in things like:

  • Over eating
  • Over spending
  • Not stepping out of our comfort zone – eg trying something new
  • Avoiding situations that we find challenging – eg meeting new people
  • Self sabotage

When we notice that we’ve made decisions that were unwise, and maybe got us into trouble, we then feel guilty.  This isn’t ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ – no feelings are, and it’s impossible to turn them off anyway – it’s what we do with this feeling that’s important. 

Do we get ‘stuck’, listening to, and engaging with those shaming thoughts?  

Or do we explore the feelings and learn from them, seeing what changes we can make to move closer into alignment with Who We Really Are, in order to live a life where we make conscious choices that serve us, and that feel authentic and honest, and where we can be responsible and accountable rather than feeling guilt and shame?

This can be challenging, and will require us to look deeply at conditioning that we’ve carried since childhood.  Others have referred to this as ‘un-domestication’ or ‘rewilding’.  It’s a visceral process and requires deconstruction and reconstruction, but you don’t have to do it alone, and the rewards feel amazing: self awareness, autonomy and freedom.

I think that this is the only value of guilt and therefore I don’t feel that it’s a place where we should spend any more time than absolutely necessary.  In fact, to return to the question of ‘is it healthy?’, generally, beyond the initial recognition and finding the issues to be addressed, I would say that the answer to this is ‘No’.

On the contrary, guilt is often very restricting and deeply uncomfortable.  It keeps us small and can be very stressful which, as we know, impacts on our wellbeing.  That inner voice also isn’t content with just criticising our current choices.  If we are prepared to listen, it has a nasty habit of dragging up every perceived failing and every ‘mistake’ we’ve ever made.  It also projects its beliefs onto others, telling us that they, too, see us as not good / clever / skilled enough.

So, what can we do? 

Start by taking a step back and observe the things that your mind is telling you, without engaging with them, knowing that they are merely the product of your conditioning and your natural negative bias.  Don’t try to fight your mind, it’s just doing its job, and it’s not really open to persuasion anyway!  Observe, without judging, and accept that this is what the mind does – not just yours, but everyone’s.

You can then make a conscious decision about whether to go along with what your mind says, or choose a different option.  You don’t have to push yourself too far out of your comfort zone.  Small steps and small challenges will help you to build your ‘consciousness muscles’ allowing you to stretch and grow.

As you become more self-aware you will be able to identify the things you really want in your life, the things that light you up and fill you with excitement and joy.  These are your guide in creating the fulfilling life that you long for.  These are where you discover your ‘purpose’.  You aren’t here for the ‘should’s, ‘have to’s or ‘ought to’s.  You’re here to Be Who You Really Are and to let that light shine out.  You’re here to experience and grow and en-joy the journey.

My animal is showing anxious and defensive behaviours – what can I do?

How to recognise the escalation steps and know the appropriate response at each level

In another role, I recently attended a 1-day refresher course in MAPA® (Management of Actual and Perceived Aggression) run by CPI (the Crisis Prevention Institute).  This course looks at what happens when an individual’s tension starts to rise, and how we can respond – rather than react – in order to hopefully diffuse the tension before it escalates further and possibly turns into aggression.

MAPA® teaches that there are 4 stages in this process:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Defensiveness
  3. Risky behaviour
  4. Tension reduction

When we can respond appropriately at each stage, it allows us to address the level of tension in the ‘least restrictive’ manner.

The suggested responses are:

  1. Be supportive
  2. Be directive
  3. Use (minimal) physical intervention
  4. Engage in therapeutic rapport

Listening to the trainer, I began to realise that this makes a lot of sense for our interactions with our animal friends too! 

I like simplicity (as you might have seen in my recent post) and so MAPA®’s 4-step process resonated with me and I thought I would share, in case it might prove helpful for others too.

The first step we need to take is to observe, and become familiar with, our animal’s baseline behaviours:

  • How do they appear in a variety of situations and settings?
  • What does their ‘happy’ look like?
  • What does their ‘slightly uneasy’ look like?
  • What does their ‘worried’ or ‘anxious’ look like?
  • If they have a disagreement with another horse, what behaviours do they show and how do they behave afterwards? (ie during the tension reduction phase)
  • What do they enjoy? What are they good at?

When we know the answers to these questions, then we can start to gauge where our animal is on their scale of tension, and how we might begin to support them at each level.

Sometimes however, we don’t notice / recognise the subtle signals an animal displays to say that they’re beginning to feel anxious.  These might be a tension around the eyes, mouth and ears, or behavioural clues such as yawning or looking away.

Most – if not all – animals would prefer to keep their tension levels as low as possible, therefore their early signals are an invitation to us to offer support in some way.  If we aren’t able to at least attempt to offer this – and animals are generally very forgiving, tolerant and accepting of our sometimes stumbling and clumsy attempts – then their anxiety will probably move up to defensive behaviour.

At this level we could see things like threats to kick or bite in horses, or bared teeth and growling in dogs.  Unfortunately, particularly with animals who have been punished for giving these signals, we might perceive that they ‘suddenly jump’ into the risky behaviour of charging or biting.  However, if we are able to spot defensive signals, then the MAPA® suggested response is to be directive.  With animals, since we don’t have a shared verbal language, this will need to be in the form of body language or movement on our part.

You could, of course, use a verbal command such as ‘No!’, but I believe that if this was successful it could have the same outcome as punishment, in that it might restrict the animal’s choices in communicating their feelings.  Over time they might stop showing the lower level signals all together, meaning that we no longer have the opportunity to step in and respond to help them release / channel their tension.

Our animals can’t learn to speak, however with a bit of effort and practice we can learn to read their body language and facial expression (see more about this in my blog series) and work together to create a set of signals that have meaning for both participants.

At this level we can use ‘re-direction’, that is shifting the focus to something else.  The ‘something’ would depend on the individual, but you could use things like movement, play, touch or breath.  Obviously, this should be something that you know the animal likes, or already knows how to do, and so can feel the reassurance of doing something that is ‘easy’ for them and at which they can be ‘successful’.

At this point, the individual is beginning to lose the ability to think rationally which is why the response is to make the decisions and direct the activity at this point.

However, if we miss this opportunity for the animal to release their tension, the next step is risky behaviour.  This is when their behaviour becomes much more dangerous, that is, the animal attacks in some way.  At this point they have completely lost the power of rational thought and their entire focus is self-preservation. They have lost the ability to be conscious of our vulnerability!  The training from CPI – which I highly recommend – covers a range of disengagements from various holds, but with animals, unless you’re trained and have the necessary protective gear, the best response at this point is to get out!  Move away and get to a place of safety.

No animal, including ourselves, can hold this level of tension for a sustained period.  It takes a lot of energy and is exhausting.  When they run out of steam, they need to be allowed a period of tension reduction.  For some this will mean being allowed to have some quiet time by themselves, whereas others might want contact and reassurance. This allows the individual to recover their sense of balance and can give us a chance to re-establish bonds of friendship and trust that might be feeling a little frayed.

We too might need support after being the target of an animal’s risky behaviour, to help us recover and not lose our confidence

It’s important to point out here that these steps don’t necessarily progress only in a linear fashion. An individual who has started to ‘de-escalate’ in tension, could be re-triggered back up the scale at any point, if they haven’t yet reached full tension reduction, so be aware of possible triggers and of any signs that their arousal level is increasing again.

I hope this simple set of steps helps to provide a useful way of approaching tension in your animals, but please remember that your safety must come first at all times.  If you feel that you need support, I recommend calling on the services of a good behaviourist to help you build a deeper – and safer – connection.

(Images courtesy of Google Images and Canva)

So, you’re a horse whisperer then?

Clarifying some misconceptions about the work that I do

Often, when people hear what I do, I get asked this question, but for me it’s not so much about whispering, it’s about listening.

Another misconception is that I offer Equine Facilitated Therapy.  This isn’t strictly true either, at least not in the traditional sense.

So, I thought that it might be a good idea to explain a little more about my work, or at least a part of it.  In this post, I’m going to look at one of my favourite aspects – where the horses and people come together.

My aim is that this should be a mutually beneficial experience, that is, that both the horses and the people should be supported by their time together. 

I often see animals used in therapy or assistance roles and I wonder what, if anything, they get from this.  Sometimes they have a particular role to play, a ‘job’ if you will, for example a guide dog, and they provide a much-valued service, but when do they get something back?  Guide dogs, I know, are well looked after and they’re given regular health checks, but their role can be stressful at times. 

Things are shifting and there are many programmes out there now that are seeking to come from a more heart-centred and animal-led perspective.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all assistance and therapy animals were given more support in their roles?  This could be offered in the form of massages, Reiki and self-selection sessions, for example, just like we might take a ‘spa-day’ if we’ve had a tough few weeks at work.

I used to volunteer with a group who gave horse riding lessons for people with disabilities.  This offered many benefits to the riders, but the horses were often stressed, which came out in ‘unwanted’ behaviours.  Some of these horses had to be retired as they were no longer suitable for the role.  I struggled with this and wanted to find a different approach, one where both parties felt better after their sessions.

So here at Equenergy I’m exploring a different way.

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll know that we have 2 horses living here.  Both have had challenging experiences in the past.  Dakota (Dax) was taken from his mother at 1 month of age and left to starve.  When he was rescued, he was riddled with worms and had to have extensive veterinary support.  Thankfully he is now a very healthy 8-year-old, however his tough start in life has left him with some emotional issues.

‘Rika was a brood mare for many years.  She was used for breeding and all of her foals were taken from her to be sold on.  When she didn’t conceive after being put with a stallion, they decided that she was no longer of any use and put her out for the meat wagon.  She is the most beautiful, gentle soul you could ever hope to meet, but she was considered ‘worthless’ if she couldn’t produce any more foals.

‘Rika (left) and Dakota (Dax)

These 2 beautiful animals support me in my work, and I want this to be something that benefits them too and supports them in becoming happier and healthier individuals.

I believe that for anyone to offer a therapeutic space for another, they should have the space and opportunity to have that support for themselves.  As a therapist and coach myself, I need to have worked – and be continuing to work – on my own issues in order to be able to hold a healing space for others.  I think this is also true for animals who are involved in this field. 

All of us are still ‘works in progress’ and there is much to be gained by travelling the healing path together. Take, for example, the programmes in America where offenders are paired with rescued dogs or horses and together they learn how to create a healthier, more balanced life for themselves. 

I’d love to see more opportunities for mutual learning, creation and growth of this kind.  We might not have the perfect answers yet, but with time and an open, curious mindset, hopefully we will find a way to walk alongside our animals in ways where they benefit from the partnership as much as we do.

I recently wrote about ‘rewilding’, and I believe strongly that our animals have much to teach us on this subject, too.  But in order for them to be able to do so more fully and authentically, they must be allowed to be as ‘wild’ as possible themselves.  I know that this is a real challenge, on even a small scale, with the resources that most of us have available, but I think that the more we can give healthy freedom to the animals in our care, even when it challenges us, the more we can learn and grow.

So how do I bring people and horses together?

A session with the horses here at Equenergy means that you get to stand just outside the field and start by getting grounded and tuning in to the energy of the place and all the living things around you.  Horses are naturally curious animals so often they soon come over to meet with us and may spend some time in this shared space.

I encourage people to be ‘mindful’, that is, to be fully aware of their surroundings: the sun, breeze or even rain on their skin, the sounds, sights and smells around them.  This helps us to get present, and when we’re fully present it helps us to release anxieties and tensions as these generally relate to memories from the past or worries about the future. 

When we can be in this ‘present’ state and hold that energy / vibration, it encourages those around us to enter this same state.  It’s rather like a tuning fork that causes other things to resonate with the same frequency.  Calming our breathing and our heart rate, through getting present, supports others to do the same.  It’s a phenomenon known as ‘entrainment’  and you can read more about it in the work of the HeartMath Institute and Dr Ellen Kaye Gehrke.  Horses are particularly sensitive to this, so when we can enter this state in their presence, it supports their wellbeing as well as our own.  Not only that, but their electromagnetic field is much larger and stronger than ours, so when they enter into this state it strengthens the energy for us – this creates a wonderful healing circle with the energy flowing in and around and bringing benefit to all within the space.

Another aspect of this for the person / people in the session is that I ask them to observe and take note of any feelings and thoughts that are coming up for them.  I might also ask them to see what they can feel from the horses: can they get a sense of their energy? Do they pick up anything when they tune in to either / both of them?  These are things that we can then explore if they would like to work further with me, using a tailored wellbeing package, looking at any issues they wish to address, or objectives that they would like to achieve.

If this is something that would interest you, or you’d like to have a taster session with the horses to see if it resonates with you, I’m happy to have a no-obligation chat.  Just give me a call or drop me a line:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980669303

https://equenergy.com/contact-location/

what is self-compassion?

I was recently having a discussion with a small group of friends and the term ‘self-compassion’ came up.  One member of the group was unfamiliar with this word which made me wonder how many others are in the same situation?  It’s a fairly self-explanatory concept, and one that’s very common in my field of work, but perhaps it’s incorrect for me to assume that it’s part of everyone’s vocabulary.  And if you haven’t come across it in any specific sense, is it something that you would consciously apply in your life?  I therefore thought that I would post something to make self-compassion more explicit and also maybe to say what my thoughts are on what it is, and what it is not.

To start with, I thought I’d look at some definitions.  Compassion itself can be defined as:

“a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering or bad luck of others and a wish to help them”

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/compassion

Synonyms: pity, sympathy, feeling, fellow feeling, empathy, understanding, concern, solicitude, sensitivity, warmth, gentleness, tenderness, consideration, kindness

According to vocabulary.com Compassion “is a word for a very positive emotion that has to do with being thoughtful and decent… When you feel compassion for someone, you really want to help out.” https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/compassion

The literal meaning of compassion is “to suffer together”. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/compassion/definition  Its qualities are “patience and wisdom; kindness and perseverance; warmth and resolve.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compassion

Self-compassion then, is when we show these feelings towards ourselves.  If we’re experiencing feelings of inadequacy, failure or suffering of any kind, instead of being critical of ourselves – a very common response – we can choose to be warm, understanding, sensitive, gentle, considerate and kind.

So why, you might ask, would we want to do this, and isn’t it a form of selfishness and self-indulgence?  If I’ve done something wrong / foolish, don’t I deserve to feel guilty / stupid?

Well, firstly I would say that if any – even small – part of you resonated with that last sentence, I would like to gently invite you to notice your self-talk.  Using labels like ‘wrong’, ‘foolish’ and ‘stupid’, I believe, is unhelpful.  They put us into a state of shame which is deeply uncomfortable and only adds to our emotional suffering at a time when we’re already feeling pretty lousy.

I also think that there is very little to be gained from feeling guilty, other than to notice the emotion and to learn from it, by which I mean to observe the discomfort and to explore what triggered it and what wisdom that holds for you about who you really are and the choices that you make, so that you can make choices that are more authentic for you in the future.  Beyond that, I feel that guilt serves only to make us feel bad, and how can we be our best selves from that place?

Image from Jennifer Petty Psychotherapist

I would also like to reassure you that self-compassion is not selfish, or self-indulgent.  It’s an important part of self-care.  I’ve written about this before https://equenergy.wordpress.com/2017/07/08/positive-thinking-is-it-always-a-good-thing-part-24/ so suffice it to say that I believe it’s necessary to take care of ourselves, and to practice self-compassion first, before we can truly offer this to others.

In fact, if we don’t do this, we can end up experiencing burnout and ‘compassion fatigue’.  This is basically when we’ve exhausted our inner resources, leaving ourselves ‘running on empty’.  This is not sustainable and can result in becoming ill and unable to function fully for a time, until we can rest and recharge.  If we’ve allowed ourselves to reach a very low point, this recovery could even take years…  so much better to learn how to look after ourselves now. 

Also, a phrase that really hit me a few years ago when I was pushing myself too hard and not taking time to replenish my resources, was:

How then do you recognise if you’re experiencing compassion fatigue?  According to goodtherapy.org the main symptoms include:

  • Chronic physical and emotional exhaustion
  • Depersonalization
  • Feelings of inequity toward the therapeutic or caregiver relationship
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of self-contempt
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Poor job satisfaction

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/compassion-fatigue

You can help to avoid this by:

  • Developing greater self-awareness, eg through journaling, mindfulness or meditation
  • Practising self-care and self-compassion
  • Setting – and holding – good emotional boundaries
  • Spending time outdoors, in nature with fresh air and natural light
  • Cultivating healthy relationships with people who boost your mood

If you would like to explore self-compassion further, please get in touch.  I offer bespoke wellbeing packages which address this, and I also run workshops helping you to develop self-awareness and learn strategies for self-support. 

(My website is currently ‘under construction’ but hopefully will be back up and running by next week)

Diversity

Last week I wrote about the importance of Keeping It Simple & Straightforward so, on the surface, the title for this week’s post might seem a bit of a contradiction.  And maybe this is one of those fabulous paradoxes that I love!  But as well as valuing simplicity, I also feel that diversity is essential and should be celebrated.

This world would be a dull place indeed if we were all the same – and we don’t really want that… or do we?!  In many ways we like variety.  It offers us lots of choices, and when it’s about food, clothes, holidays, jobs, even breeds of dog(!) it seems our view is that ‘the more the merrier’.

But when it comes down to ‘our neighbour’, it appears that we’re sometimes less flexible.  Even here in the UK I see signs of some people being uncomfortable around those of a different colour or religion; or those who have made different lifestyle choices; or who express themselves in a ‘non-binary’ or ‘atypical’ ways.

In a way, I ‘get that’.  I grew up in a society that was almost all white.  My family was middle class.  Gender was much more clearly defined – at least in my little corner of the world.  This was my norm, my comfort zone, and these were the values that I subconsciously absorbed.

Sometimes, now, I notice my mind throwing out thoughts that come from these unconscious values.  Or I find myself judging, or feeling uncomfortable, in certain situations or with particular people.  But I’ve learnt that I can look at these thoughts and feelings and decide whether or not they are how I choose to respond.  Generally, they come from ‘voices’ that I have internalised, and not from what I actually believe.

Subconscious conditioning runs deep, and lack of experience can make us feel awkward in some situations but, as everyone is an individual anyway, I generally find that it’s ok to ask questions about how people wish to be referred to, or what their needs, beliefs or choices might be, as long as this is done from an open and non-judgemental mindset.  In fact, it shows that we’re taking an interest, we’re open to learning, and that we care.

The biggest ‘difference’ that I saw when I was young, was that of age, as I was fortunate to have regular contact with my extended family.

I was fascinated by ‘other’ though, and how experience might differ when viewing the world through other eyes, or from another perspective, be that cultural, religious, experiential, or whatever.

Going to secondary school brought it home to me that for many in my part of the world (Belfast, Northern Ireland), I was ‘other’.  Being a Catholic in a mixed (mostly Protestant) school and as a girl from a single-sex primary who went on to do Physics, Chemistry and Biology A levels with mostly boys in the classes, I was the one in the minority.

Later I moved to Manchester and then greater London, before settling for many years in Bristol.  I’ve also been fortunate to travel round much of Europe and to have visited the States a couple of times, and it’s true what they say – it really does broaden the mind.

In addition, I’ve worked in the Deaf Community and become fluent in Sign Language.  Now there’s a way to really explore a different way of perceiving and interacting with the world!

If you follow my social media posts you might be aware that I’m a fan of Abraham Hicks.  I love what they say about difference and not resisting the things that don’t align with our own world view.

The misunderstanding we often make is to feel threatened by difference, but in reality there is plenty of room for us all to co-exist and no-one else’s life choices can have a negative impact on us if we just allow them to do their own thing while authentically, and gently, holding our own boundaries.

Nature is a great example of this.  Each species finds its own niche.  They live in ways that are authentic to their needs and don’t demand that other species change to be like them.  Some are predators and some are prey but, when left to live in a natural way, a balance is achieved that benefits all.  As conditions change, plants and animals have to adapt.  To resist this change is to risk extinction.

Here at Equenergy, we had a visit from someone from the Gwent Wildlife Trust.  He came to survey the land and to record its flora and fauna.  It was exciting to see the range and variety that we have here.  We should receive a report later in the year, with suggestions on how to maintain, and even enhance this diversity.

Here in the UK it’s currently looking like it might be a lovely summer, so if you’re looking forward to some holidays – either abroad or more locally – I encourage you to notice how you respond to being in a new environment and enjoy this opportunity to see things from a perspective that differs, even slightly, from your day-to-day norm.

I’d love to hear about what you notice and I invite you to post about your experiences in the comments below.

It’s a rich and beautiful world out there!

Let’s celebrate all its colours and flavours 😊