Keeping your Balance

Balance can be such a fragile thing, can’t it? Even when we think we’re pretty solid and stable, it can take a fairly ‘small’ thing to unsettle us, knock our confidence and sense of security, and leave us questioning where we are, what we’re doing and where we’re going.

On the morning of 20 November 2019 Tim, my husband, came in and woke me, saying: “We’ve been robbed!”

He’d been getting ready to leave for work when he found that one of the sheds had been crow-barred open and many of his precious belongings had been stolen. As he investigated further it became apparent that they’d taken much more than we originally realised, including bicycles and tools.

This has come as a hard blow, following a year of challenges since moving to Wales. It feels doubly unfair that most of the things that were taken were Tim’s, and many of them were part of his sense of who he is.

The blow was also very unexpected. Just a couple of days before this, we’d had a rare day off together, going to the cinema and enjoying a lovely sunny walk on the Blorenge – a chance to appreciate, and see more of, where we now live.

Then suddenly it felt that our secure and stable world had been shaken to the core.

Of course, viewed another way, only things were taken or damaged. The house wasn’t affected and Tim, the horses, the cat and I are all safe. It has been another big financial blow, it’s true, and some of the things that were taken are irreplaceable, but we are physically unhurt.

The most difficult aspect to process is the psychological and emotional one. For Tim it’s been about the security of our property, the loss of what all the items represented for him, and the cumulative effect of all the energy that he’s invested in making this our home.

For me, it’s the upset that it has brought for Tim, worrying about how stressed and unhappy this has left him, plus the feelings of guilt that it has triggered in me, as it was me who wanted to move from our previous home.

I recognise, too, that the guilt I’m feeling is more than just from this one incident. It’s an old and longstanding feeling that I’ve carried – and added to – over many years. It started back in my childhood, so is deeply ingrained and even feels ‘normal‘ to me, in that I don’t really know what it would be like to live without its presence in my life.

You might remember that I’ve written about guilt before, showing that I’ve had plenty of opportunity to give this some serious thought. And it’s still a work in progress for me.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you might also know that I like to look at situations, even – or possibly particularly – the challenging ones, as opportunities; that is, opportunities to explore what they bring up for me and through this to identify beliefs that are / aren’t serving me, in order to choose the things that support me and my wellbeing, and release the things that don’t.

From this experience I’ve come to see that my sense of balance isn’t a static thing; it’s an active, dynamic and ‘living’ one, a process that is ongoing and shifting depending on the circumstances around me. My challenge, I think, is to practice keeping the process a more conscious one, so that I can be responsive rather than reactive to whatever situation I find myself in.

Here, it’s been a matter of balancing my needs, my sense of security and my feelings of guilt in the face of the burglary.

I’ve also been exploring the concept of balancing my needs with Tim’s. As with every relationship – romantic or otherwise – this, too, is an ongoing process, and one that helps us to get clear on our boundaries and sense of self in the shared space with the ‘other’.

This brings me back to my values of seeking to live with authenticity, integrity and congruence (see more about these in an earlier post). How can I best maintain and express these, even when feeling threatened, shaken, and drained of energy?

It’s been an interesting chapter, and certainly not one I ever want to repeat – nor one that I would wish on anyone – but when these things happen, I find that, for me, it’s often about trying to get through as best I can and looking for those inner resources to keep me from ‘giving up or giving in’.

One lovely thing to come out of the whole episode has been the kindness, good wishes and offers of support that have come from so many people! At a time when it’s been tempting to become cynical, hard and suspicious of others, it’s so good to be reminded that the vast majority of people are caring, warm and helpful and that the world is still a safe and beautiful place in which to live.

What tools / practices have you found helpful when your sense of balance has been shaken? I’d love to hear from you and I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you 🙂

(Images courtesy of Canva – other than the photo of our house)

Coming Home to the Self

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about why I do what I do, and why I love working with the people who come to me.  Basically, it’s because I was that person

Rewind a few years and I was very unhappy.  Initially I tried to tell myself that I was ‘fine’, or at least that I was ‘coping’ and that “many other people have things much worse than me”, but I was experiencing health problems which were leaving me feeling low, exhausted and overwhelmed.

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At the time I thought that if this or that thing changed, or if this or that person would just do things differently, then ‘everything would be ok’.  In short, I was looking for answers outside of myself.  I tried various options, including counselling, but they just weren’t helping to make the changes I so desperately craved.  I wanted someone who would really listen, and give me the advice, support and tools I felt I needed for things to feel better.

I continued searching, which led me to an online course entitled Integral Enlightenment , run by Craig Hamilton.  This course encouraged the participants to view life from both a relative/duality perspective (our daily experience) and also an absolute perspective, ie the perspective that is outside of Time and Space.  This helped me to develop a deeper self-awareness and a consciousness of my responsibility for my own actions, thoughts, beliefs and feelings, while also knowing where this responsibility ends; that is, to discern the things that are not mine to take on board.  (Having been a first-born child, a ‘fixer’, a ‘control freak’ and a ‘perfectionist’, this was a big step for me!) 

I started to see – and accept – that the only thing I could change in my situation was me!  I had been trying to ‘fit in’, and to go along with others in order to ‘keep the peace’, thinking that this was my only option, but each time I said ‘Yes’ to something that didn’t feel right to me – either verbally or through my actions – I was effectively saying ‘No’ to myself.  This was causing me high levels of stress and deep unhappiness.  It was part of a pattern that I had learnt as a child, but it was no longer serving me.  Something needed to shift in me for me to feel better.  The answers had to come from within, not without. 

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Far from making me feel helpless, I suddenly felt that I had the power to choose which direction I would go from there.

For me, this naturally led on to exploring:

  • Who am I, and what do I want in my life?
  • What are my values, and how can I be more aligned with these?

I began to understand that when I am honest with myself about my feelings, reactions and responses – and I take responsibility for these – then life is simpler, and feels more authentic and less overwhelming.

Also, when I was able to get clearer on my values and I how I could express these with integrity, I felt empowered and recharged.

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I came to realise that when my thoughts, values, beliefs and actions are congruent, it’s a very peaceful– and also powerful – place to be.  It brings new clarity, insight and energy, and allows me to feel comfortable in my Self.  That is, I feel ‘at home’ in my own skin.  And, isn’t this sense of knowing who we really are, and feeling safe and able to fully Be that Self, isn’t this what we really want from Life?

I came to realise that although I had thought I needed advice, support and ‘tools’ in order to change my life, what I really needed was a safe space to explore who I really am and how to Be that more fully.  I worked with a couple of therapists along the way who helped me to do this exploration.  They mostly just held that safe space and walked alongside of me, sometimes asking me questions or helping to shine a light for me to find my own steps.  I discovered that this was actually what I wanted and needed, rather than advice.  Their support was gentle, encouraging and offered with a ‘light touch’, mostly just allowing me to see that the wisdom and resources that I needed were already within me, all I needed was a way to connect with them. 

I’m sharing a little of what my journey looked like, not to say that anyone else should take these same steps, but to give hope to anyone who is struggling right now.  I know that everyone is an individual and so their journey will be unique to them.  There is no ‘one size fits all’, but that is the wonder and beauty of Life in all its richness, variety and colour.   That’s why I don’t have a fixed programme for people to follow and my work is always tailor-made to the person and their situation.

I am now honoured to share parts of the  journeys of some amazing people, holding space and shining light for them as they find their own path and reconnect with their inner power and beauty.  Each one of them is an inspiration and a joy to me, and I love to watch as they find their feet and step into their ability to continue on without me, or to return periodically for a bit of self-care.

If you’d like to know more about this process, please see my website:

            equenergy.com

And if you were wondering about how my health is now:

  • I haven’t had a migraine in years
  • My eczema has cleared
  • I haven’t had an episode of IBS either
  • We now live on a Welsh hillside and I care for 2 horses which means that I’m pushing barrow-loads of hay up and down to the fields and poo-picking a couple of times a day, so my energy and fitness levels are also much improved!

Having reached a vey low point myself, I know how despair can suck all the Life and fun out of everything.  But having found my way back I can tell you that the sun shines even brighter now, because I appreciate it all the more 😊

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Equenergy blog is back!

Hello again! I’m back – a week later than planned, but I’m here now, and I thought I’d give you a bit of an update on what’s been happening here at Equenergy.

The original plan was to take time off from posting here and to use it instead for reflection and for focusing on some other things that I’d been wanting to do for a while.

Well, as is often the way of things, this didn’t entirely to to plan! Life got in the way, as it tends to do, and the month seemed to pass much faster than I’d expected.

One of the big things I noticed in slowing down a bit and giving myself a little more ‘space; was something that I’ve felt brewing for a while was able to come to the surface…

Today is the 1 year anniversary of our move to Wales. The seasons have gone through a full cycle and we’re once again approaching winter with its shorter days and change in the weather. (I’m partly welcoming the cooler temperatures of Autumn, particularly as I’m currently in the throes of ‘power surges’ – aka hot flushes!) I also love the light, colours and fruitfulness of this season and the fact that the recent rains have restored the spring and the stream.

We’ve done a lot of work on the place over the last 12 months (mostly my wonderful husband, without whom none of this would have been possible) and we’ve learnt a lot about what it’s like to live here ‘on the mountain’.

Although I love living here – and have such a sense of space and connection with Nature and ‘wildness’ – I freely admit that it hasn’t been easy at times.

I knew that stepping back from some things and giving myself some extra time, would bring me face-to-face with some of the feelings that I’d been too busy to deal with before. It’s felt like a kind of ‘deconstruction’ – taking myself and my hopes and dreams for this place apart, re-examining them and then seeing if I could put them together again in a way that ‘fits’, both for me and for this place.

In parallel with this, I’ve been looking at how I work, and what I offer, and I decided to make some changes. Partly these are to streamline things for greater clarity, and partly to be more effective and to make better use of my time – with less procrastination or doing things that are not bringing me closer to my joy.

As a result of all this I’ve merged my 2 Facebook pages into 1, and done the same with the groups. Originally I’d separated them into the work that I do with people, and my work with animals, but this ended up feeling more confusing due to all the overlap and duplication, so I’ve brought them together. I will be doing the same with my newsletters.

If you’d like to see, and perhaps follow, my Facebook page you can find it at: https://www.facebook.com/Equenergy/

The connected group is ‘Closed’, but if you’d like to join, the link is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1745719752397794/

If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter please click here: Equenergy newsletter

In addition, my website has been updated and revamped, courtesy of Swarm ICT. I’d love to hear what you think, and any feedback you might like to share. Click on this link to see the new site: https://equenergy.com/

Another change is that I’ve decided to post to my blog on a monthly basis, rather than weekly as before. This is in order to allow time for other projects. I’m considering exploring podcasts and video posts, so we’ll see how it goes…

One of the things I’d hoped to do over the last month was to finish a course / workshop that I’d been working on. (I’m not quite sure what format it will take, and it could potentially be run in a range of different ways.) It builds on the concept of ‘mindfulness’ to look at how we can be more ‘mind-body-spirit-conscious’ in order to live with deeper authenticity and congruence. When we are able to do this, we experience less stress and also greater ease and wellbeing in our lives. If this is something that would be of interest to you, please get in touch.

I wish you a happy and healthy October. For those of us in the UK it’s going to be a month of change as Autumn sees the leaves turn all the colours of the rainbow, the temperatures dropping and shorter, wetter days. The clocks will be changing soon and of course we have the upcoming Brexit. All of this can take a toll on our energy levels, so don’t forget to include lots of self-care in your plans for the weeks ahead. If possible, include time outdoors too, as sunshine and fresh air are so important for our wellbeing as we approach winter.

See you in November!

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.

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 this thing called ‘Rewilding’?

…and what, if anything, does it have to do with me?

According to Rewilding Britain:

Rewilding is the large-scale restoration of ecosystems where nature can take care of itself. It seeks to reinstate natural processes and, where appropriate, missing species – allowing them to shape the landscape and the habitats within.

https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding

To me, though, rewilding can take place on a smaller scale too.  I think that we can look at our own lives and see how we can add a bit of ‘wild’ in order to have greater balance and wellbeing.

In fact, this is something that I have been exploring for a while and it’s part of the reason why I was so keen to move to a more rural location.

When we started house hunting last year I was just thinking of a house, with a paddock for the horses, situated in a more rural location, but the more properties we saw, the more excited and inspired I became about the possibilities that were opening up to us, both personally and for my practice.

Finding this place was like a dream come true!  We first visited on a glorious summer evening and as we viewed the woods and fields and felt the energy of this place, we both fell in love and could picture ourselves living in this magical space.

In many ways, it’s the perfect location – when you’re here, you feel far removed from the hustle and bustle that characterises most people’s daily lives, and yet we’re within easy reach of the town of Abergavenny. 

There is a great sense of stillness and peace here, and everywhere you look there is the green of trees, bushes and grasses. 

At this time of year we also have many wonderful flowers in bloom. 

The sounds are wonderful too:

  • the stream gurgling over stones
  • breezes blowing through the branches of the trees
  • birds singing
  • insects buzzing…

There’s also a wide variety of wildlife.  Obviously there are lots of birds, including many common species such as robins, blackbirds, bluetits and wagtails.  We have birds of prey too, such as owls and buzzards, and some summer visitors such as swallows, but also the less common pied flycatcher. 

Our mammal neighbours include rabbits, squirrels, voles, mice, and shrews, and I’ve also seen a couple of lizards.

This Wednesday we have a guy coming from the Gwent Wildlife Trust to do a survey of the land and give us tips on how to work with all the species that we have here, to do our best to maintain and support this little eco-system.  I’m very excited to find out more!

To me, the joy – and challenge – of living here is to find ways to live in harmony with this place and its diversity of life.  I want to find a balance where we can all enjoy this wonderful space – humans, plants and animals. 

I believe that there are many benefits to reconnecting with Nature in this way.  Research has shown that spending time outdoors helps us to let go of stress, find our inner balance and recharge our batteries (This is your brain on Nature).

Rewilding doesn’t always come easily for us though.  We are so used to our ‘creature comforts’ and having whatever we want right there at our fingertips.  We live in a society that seems to be built on – and value – speed: fast food, broadband speeds and instant messaging.  We say that ‘time is money’, and we tend to prefer things that will get us what we want in the shortest time – eg travel, delivery services and searching the internet for information.

But this ‘need for speed’ comes at a price.  It is exhausting!  And it’s addictive.  Once we’re hooked, it can be difficult to slow our pace again, to reconnect with ourselves, to take the time to listen to our bodies and to give ourselves the nurturing and support that we need.

Often, we have lost sight of the fact that we, as humans, are just a part of the picture.  We are simply one thread of the rich tapestry of Nature.  We need the other threads in order to create a rich, colourful, dynamic and sustainable world.

I believe that when we are connected, conscious and aware of this, we can live in balance, harmony and respect with all Life. 

Here in our little cottage, we’ve had other beings come to share our space.  Sometimes this can make us uncomfortable – we don’t want the spiders, ants, mice, wasps, flies or whatever in our homes! 

But I tend to look at it another way… 

  • this is their space as much as it is ours
  • their kind has been living here much longer than I have
  • they too just want to live out their lives, and do their thing, whatever that might be – they’re not ‘invading my space’ and it’s not personal!

That’s not to say that I want all these creatures sharing my home – and in an ideal world they would often be better off being back outside – so I then try to explore why they have been drawn inside.   What am I doing that is making my home attractive to them?  For example, am I leaving food available for them?

On a larger scale, there are often complaints about the rat population of cities, or seagulls stealing food from people in coastal towns, but I think that we need to look at our own responsibilities too, such as the amount of food that goes to waste and is dumped outside in containers that are not animal-proof.  This both supports the current population – and its growth – and attracts more individuals to the area.

So, for me, part of rewilding is to look at my responsibilities as a part of this eco-system:

  • How do I become aware and conscious of my actions and how they affect the other threads of this tapestry? 
  • How do I minimise my impact while also supporting the local flora and fauna?

Doing this, I believe, will support me in my balance and wellbeing.  After all, how can I be fully well if I live in an environment which is out of balance?

If this is something that is of interest to you too, or you’d just like to have a taste of the healing power of Nature, then take a look at my day retreat which is taking place next Saturday here at Equenergy: Wellbeing Naturally.  If you’d like to know more about the day, or you’d like to book a place, please click on the link below:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reconnect-through-nature-day-retreat-tickets-60580175937

It’s all about perspective

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about perspective this week – by which I mean the way we look at things.

The perspective that we take has such a huge impact on the experiences that we have!

I used to be someone who was always waiting for the bad things to happen.  For a variety of reasons, I had learnt that Life was difficult, rarely went to plan, and was often against me.  I just ‘knew’ that good things couldn’t last and that sooner or later – probably sooner – there would be another big problem to face.  I was anxious, worried and operating in stress mode.

I’m still a work in progress on this, and a deeply ingrained perspective can take time to shift, but overall there is a lot more ‘sunshine’ in my life now.

Moving to our new site here in Wales has really tested me on this!  It’s been a huge shift, leaving the city suburbs and moving to a rural smallholding.  Nothing seems to function in the same way!  Cities have such a solid infrastructure: services and utilities generally flow smoothly to and from one’s home, and you rarely have to think much about it.  Here we’ve struggled with internet connection and our water is from a spring so we’ve had to sort out an alternative for the horses as their pond and stream have dried up.  The house still has good water at the moment, but if we have a spell of dry weather, will this continue?  Will we be able to wash ourselves, our clothes, our dishes?

We now have to manage our own supplies of gas and oil as these have to be delivered, where previously our heating and cooking facilities were constantly available at the flick of a switch.  The septic tank, too, requires attention.

All of these things are easily done, it just takes some getting used to, and can be a source of those little niggles – Will I notice when the gas cylinder / oil tank is running low?  Will I order in time to avoid running out?  Will I be able to do this at a time when the price is good?  Will the septic tank block up / overflow… and if it does, what will I do?

I’m sure that in time the management of these things will become the new ‘norm’ but for now it’s still new and a little out of our comfort zone.

It’s good, though, to challenge ourselves.  It’s only through challenges that we can learn and grow.  If things stay the same all the time, there is no incentive or motivation to push ourselves and we can end up stagnating.

In the past, I craved ‘safety’.  I didn’t really feel ‘comfortable’, but still I had a kind of comfort zone in the routines that I’d built up, as these gave me a sense of having enough control to be able to cope.  And yet there was the constant worry that things would go wrong and the knowing, somewhere deep inside, that I didn’t really have control and things could suddenly shift away from where I felt safe.

Over time, I came to see that the more I tried to hold rigidly to my ‘structured life’, the more I felt overwhelmed.  The more I tried to control things, the less control I actually had.  I also began to see how unhappy I was and how my wellbeing was suffering.

Having spent a lot of time pondering on this – in my head and heart, and through keeping a personal journal – I began to see that the only thing I could control was my perspective, my choice of lens through which to view the world and the experiences that came my way.

I’ve been very fortunate, too, and I can testify that the old saying is true:

When we open ourselves to new learning, when we set the intention that we’re ready to grow and ready to take on the challenges that this brings, then something shifts and we will see opportunities where we might not have noticed them before, or someone will come into our lives and challenge, guide or inspire us in some way.

The thing with stepping out of our comfort zone is that it is… well… uncomfortable!  If we’re not prepared for this then we can end up rushing back to where we feel safe.  This is why people ‘fall off the wagon’ and return to old behaviours.

But if we acknowledge that there will be challenges, and we address these constructively, then we’re much more likely to succeed in making the changes we’re aiming for.

So, how can we address the challenges constructively?  Some suggestions would be:

  • To consider what triggers the behaviour you want to change – knowing this allows you to put plans in place for when you face these situations
  • Accepting that there will be times when you feel triggered and that this will result in you feeling uncomfortable
  • Being ok with discomfort
    • It can be a great teacher, helping us to look at our needs and find supportive ways in which to meet these
    • Trusting that it won’t last forever and that it’s just your body adjusting to the new way
    • That it is a short-term thing that will lead to a happier, healthier you
    • Knowing that it helps to build greater self-knowledge, resilience and emotional intelligence
  • Having a list of things to do when feeling triggered
    • How can you support yourself to stick to your commitment in making this change?
    • For example
      • do something active, such as going for a walk in Nature
      • Talk to a good and supportive friend
      • Journal
      • Read things that encourage and inspire you

As I said, I’m still a work in progress with all of this.  My mindset and thinking have changed greatly, and I now view the world in a much more positive light.  I believe that the Universe is a supportive place and that Life is bringing me so many wonderful experiences and encounters that are helping me to step ever more fully into Who I Really Am.

However, I’ve noticed that my body is still holding tensions that come from my old way of thinking. 

Whereas before I might have worried about this and listened to lots of critical self-talk, I am now able to view it as an opportunity to address another layer in my personal growth and development.

This is where I am now grateful for my earlier challenges and discomfort, as facing myself and exploring those less pleasant feelings and those aspects of my personality that I’m not so proud of, is not as daunting as it would once have been.

Also, I know that if I can help myself to release this tension, it will bring many benefits!

Thankfully I now have a wide range of tools to draw on, and also a number of great colleagues that I can ask for help as necessary.

But one thing that I was pondering on as I poo picked in the fields the other day – a great time for reflection, I’ve noticed! – is that the things that help me to let go of tension, anxiety and worry are amusement and delight

So, the task I’ve set for myself is to:

  1. Notice when and where I’m holding tension
  2. Accept that this is how I’m feeling – without adding to it by beating myself up about it, or worrying about it
  3. Commit to finding ways to support myself and to release the tension
  4. Look for ways that I can bring more amusement and delight into my life, on the small scale as well as the bigger scale

Some of my joy recently has come from:

So, in moving here I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, but it has brought realisation that:

  • I was feeling stifled in the city
  • Structure can be good, but it can also become rigid, inflexible and constricting
  • New experiences can be stimulating and inspiring
  • Challenges can help you discover hidden strengths and skills
  • New adventures can be fun
  • Overcoming problems can bring such a sense of achievement and learning
  • Living closer to nature is teaching me so much about myself, and inspiring me to greater care for the planet
  • Meeting new people and making new friends is wonderful
  • There is so much more to me than I had dared to believe!

So I highly recommend getting out of your comfort zone (even just in little ways to start with), pushing your boundaries, trying new adventures and exploring some new perspectives. You might be surprised at what you find!