Did you know that next Friday, 12 July is National Simplicity Day?
I’ve been a fan
of simplicity for a long time, believing that we as humans – and certainly
myself as an individual – can have a great tendency to overcomplicate things.
I think this is
at least in part due to our brain’s negative bias – its need to always be on
the lookout for things that could potentially do us harm. As a result, it comes up with all sorts of
scenarios of what could happen, or why something is happening or why that
person is looking at me that way… Our
imaginations run riot with complex and convoluted permutations – not just one,
but several for each scenario. It’s no
wonder that we think life is multi-layered and difficult to understand!
But when we
relax and go with the flow, it usually turns out that things were actually much
easier – and simpler – than we’d thought.
At the very least, it means that there is only one way in which things
play out, not the many possibilities that we’d imagined in our heads.
So I’m all for
getting back to simplicity!
I love Nature
and what it can teach us about keeping things simple. On the surface it might look complex, but in
reality it’s often a simple pattern that repeats itself many times. The deeper we look, the simpler it becomes.
Animals too can
help us, because they generally live very much in the present, concerned with
the basic needs of eating, drinking, finding shelter and the continuation of
their genes. They don’t worry about
tomorrow or last week or about what their herd or pack mate is thinking about
them. They mostly go through their day
just Being. This allows them to be
mindful and grounded because their minds aren’t distracted by anxious thoughts
Of course it
also means that they aren’t as creative as humans and our brains obviously have
an important role to play in this tapestry of Life, but I think we often get
too caught up in thought patterns that don’t support our wellbeing and so it’s
a good idea to take stock from time to time in order to check in with how we’re
feeling and to make sure that we’re keeping a healthy balance.
This is some
information I found on why this National Day was started:
National Simplicity Day was founded in honour of Henry David Thoreau, who was born on July 12, 1817. Thoreau was an advocate of living simply and wrote a number of well-known books on the subject.
In the complicated world that we inhabit today where mobile phones, laptops and other modern day gadgets mean that we very rarely experience true peace and quiet to gather our thoughts, what better excuse to leave the technology at home and experience the feeling of truly being in the moment.
…and what, if anything, does it have to do with me?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
is a great sense of stillness and peace here, and everywhere you look there is
the green of trees, bushes and grasses.
this time of year we also have many wonderful flowers in bloom.
sounds are wonderful too:
the stream gurgling
breezes blowing through
the branches of the trees
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.
mammal neighbours include rabbits, squirrels, voles, mice, and shrews, and I’ve
also seen a couple of lizards.
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!
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:
been doing a lot of thinking about perspective this week – by which I mean the way
we look at things.
perspective that we take has such a huge impact on the experiences that we have!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
been very fortunate, too, and I can testify that the old saying is true:
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.
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.
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
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
Being ok with
It can be a great
teacher, helping us to look at our needs and find supportive ways in which to
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?
do something active,
such as going for a walk in Nature
Talk to a good and
Read things that
encourage and inspire you
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.
I’ve noticed that my body is still holding tensions that come from my old way
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.
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
I know that if I can help myself to release this tension, it will bring many
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.
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.
the task I’ve set for myself is to:
Notice when and where I’m
Accept that this is how
I’m feeling – without adding to it by beating myself up about it, or worrying
Commit to finding ways
to support myself and to release the tension
Look for ways that I can
bring more amusement and delight into my life, on the small scale as well as
the bigger scale
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!
some of you might know, my ‘other job’ is as a British Sign Language / English
interpreter. It’s an amazing role and
often teaches me so much that benefits me in my role as a holistic wellbeing
recent example of a crossover learning came from reading the interpreting
journal that I subscribe to: Newlsi. A
woman called Christina Healy was commenting on growth and learning within the
interpreting profession, but it struck me that it could be about so many
things, including personal growth.
“[It’s] a bit like we’re climbing an enormous, multifaceted mountain. We reach summits, gratified to see the distance we’ve come, we traverse plateaus, relaxing into needed rest and rejuvenation and we climb ascents that challenge our perseverance and commitment to growth.”
me, this describes perfectly the journey of personal discovery, leaning and
growth. Sometimes it does, indeed, feel
like a steep climb with lots of rocks and challenges along the path. At other times we might find the going
easier, allowing us to rest and build our strength for the next uphill section.
valuable analogy was that we can think the summit is in view only to find, when
we reach that point, that there is another, higher peak ahead:
“It can feel like we’ve climbed miles up the mountain, finally breaking through the cloudbank in exultation, only to see [others] ahead who have climbed higher than we imagined possible. We’ve opened a new Zone of Proximal Development. We can see the next summit above the clouds, but we don’t yet know how to get there.”
hadn’t come across the term Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) before so I
looked it up:
The zone of proximal development refers to the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner.
similar to the concept of the Conscious Competence ladder:
Healy also explained why we can feel competent one day, and the next, feel that
we have lost all our skills – and possibly that we never really had them in the
“… the ground that seemed far below has vanished beneath the clouds. The lowest spot we can see is only inches beneath our feet. It feels like incompetence has appeared from nowhere! But perhaps it’s just that we’ve been Unconsciously Incompetent in some aspects of the work, and our new Conscious Incompetence indicates advancement despite the sense of regression.”
think it is so important to be aware of this!
we are our own worst critic and when we feel moments of doubt our inner voice
compounds our discomfort by beating us up about our perceived shortcomings.
often heard people say that they thought they’d ‘dealt with this issue already’,
feeling that they must have failed in some way because it has suddenly ‘reappeared’
in their life. To me, it can be a
positive indication that the person has actually moved to a point where they’re
now ready to address a new aspect of the issue – a further peak
(challenge) that they now have the strength and skill to climb.
also regularly encourage clients to pay attention to their self-talk and to
catch it when it is being critical. The
first step in making a change is awareness but then we also need to take
action. Knowing that this sense of
self-doubt and feeling de-skilled is normal, and that it doesn’t
actually mean that we’ve become incompetent, can be so helpful in redirecting
our thoughts towards being more self-supportive again. We can use this information to talk to
ourselves as we would to a good friend, reassuring ourselves that this is just
a part of the process, and in reality probably means that we’ve moved further
along the path than we were yesterday.
Ms Healy goes on to say, this is uncomfortable and yet valuable, in that it can
prompt reflection on our motivations, values and beliefs. This in itself can be of great assistance in
our personal growth, allowing us to reassess Who We Really Are and how we can
step more fully into this essence of our deepest Being.
concept of our ZPD also shows that there will be times along our journey when
we can benefit from support and help from others who have more experience. They can help us to develop the knowledge,
skills and resources we need to reach our next peak.
So if you find yourself feeling that you’re stuck, or even going backwards; or that you’ve lost your way and you’re not sure on what your next step should be; or that you just don’t have the strength to move forward, don’t be afraid to reach out for help! Remember that it’s perfectly ok to feel like this. It doesn’t mean that you’re weak in any way. Probably all those ‘successful’ people that you see around you have been right where you are now! In fact, without these ‘dips’ we wouldn’t feel the challenge that motivates us to change and grow! Remember that ‘you got this’ – you have the resources within you – and it’s great to ask someone to give you a bit of guidance. After all, this could be just what they need too, since we really do learn and grow from helping others to find their way:
Exploring ways to align with authenticity, integrity and congruence
journey of Life is such an interesting thing, isn’t it?! Full of twists and turns that bring lots of opportunities
for growth and change.
time ago, I would have described things differently! I would have said that Life was full of ups
and downs, and probably many more ‘downs’ than ‘ups’; that it was a struggle
and often difficult and uncomfortable.
I’ve changed 😊
journey has slowly taught me – or at least my learning and beliefs have taken
time to shift – that Life just ‘is’,
and it’s my response to it that determines my experience. Therefore, I can actually choose whether my life will be one of ‘struggle’,
or one of valuable learning experiences.
my ‘other job’, I’ve recently been involved in an ‘ACTivate’ course, here in South
Wales. I’d never heard of this before,
but basically it is a 4-week course to support people through learning
mindfulness techniques and helping them to develop the skills of Acceptance and
Commitment to new practice (the ACT of ACTivate stands for Acceptance
attended 2 sessions so far, and we’ve been looking at the concept of ‘You are
not your mind’ – ie that the mind is only one part of who we are. It talks to us constantly and it’s impossible
to switch it off, however we don’t always have to listen to it. It has a tendency towards negativity, often being
critical and cautious, or even fearful.
But by practicing mindfulness and conscious awareness of our thoughts
and responses, we can choose when to listen to our mind, and when to make a different
choice on how to act.
also learnt the truth of the saying that:
physical and emotional pain are part of Life.
They can be helpful because they give us information and can help us to
avoid further injury, and to learn and grow.
however, comes from our response to the pain.
When we fight the pain, trying to resist it, it often actually makes the
pain worse, and can add new pain to
the original hurt. If, instead, we can
accept that the pain is there, and explore it with curiosity to see what it can
teach us, then the suffering is greatly lessened. We can, in fact, end up being grateful for
the pain and the growth that it brings.
and change can be challenging though. We
can find it difficult to change our beliefs and habits, sometimes not even
seeing a need for the change.
recent example of this for me has been highlighted by our move to this new
rural location. It has challenged me in
many ways to be more reflective on my choices and to be more conscious of how I
‘walk my talk’, particularly in regards to my relationship with Nature, as this
is so much a part of what I do.
exploring ways to be authentic to Who I Really Am, and to live in congruence
and alignment with my beliefs. This is
obviously a very individual thing, but the more we can do this, the more we are
in balance and can feel comfortable in our own skin, knowing that we are being
true to ourselves.
years I have gradually been trying to be more ‘eco-friendly’ and I thought I
was doing pretty well. Isn’t it
interesting how these things happen? It’s
a process really. You make some changes
and think that you’re doing the best you can do, but then as those changes
settle in and become your new ‘norm’, you become aware of further adjustments
and begin to explore these and eventually take them on as well.
example is my use of plastic. I’ve been using
my own bags and travel bottle / mug for years but I’m becoming more conscious
of other things, such as my toothbrush, plastic vegetable bags at the
supermarket, plastic bottles and jars for toiletries, cling film, etc. As a result, I’ve done some searching and
made some new purchases. The following
are some of my recent acquisitions:
are lots of great websites available now for eco-friendly products. One of the best for avoiding any plastic that
I’ve found is: https://www.plasticfreedom.co.uk/
. And if, like
me, you’re looking for animal-friendly options, they have a dedicated Vegan
Life, to me, is a journey of change, learning and growth. It’s about exploring our thoughts, emotions
and experiences and seeing which ones resonate and support who we want to be –
who we really are – and which ones take us further away from this. We can then choose which ones we want to have
more of, and give our energy and attention to these, and which we no longer
want to engage with, allowing them to fade out of our lives.
love to hear your thoughts, and if you have an experience that you’d like to
share, please post in the comments below.
much-loved friend of ours, who we haven’t seen in way-too-long, came to stay
the night last Friday… and didn’t leave until Monday morning!
you just love how that can happen?
The original plan was for a catch-up and to show him our new
place, but it ended up being a whole weekend of laughs, reminiscing and
creating wonderful new memories to treasure.
This got me wondering – what is it about ‘old’ friends that
makes them so special? New friendships
are great, but there’s a precious extra dimension to being with someone that
you’ve known for years…
I think that, particularly as we get older, it’s nice to have friends
that we’ve known for years, who are still in our lives. It gives us a sense of connection, both to
each other and to the past – our past – a shared history. And if that history involves lots of silly antics
and ‘foolish’ things that we might not do now, but can laugh at the memories,
all the better.
Human beings are a social species. We are wired for connection. Our brains naturally seek patterns, making
comparisons and looking for similarities.
Having a shared interest can bring us together and help us to create
I think too, that the world is ever changing, and as the pace of
that change seems to be speeding up, we can easily feel that we are being left
behind. It can be comforting to have friends
of the same vintage who share a similar framework of memories, for example the
music of the 80’s, fashion trends and major news stories.
TV programmes and things that we learnt at school can also be
common frames of reference. I was
travelling home on the train yesterday and heard a conversation behind me
between a woman and the man selling refreshments from the trolley. She told him that he had arrived at just the
right time as she was half-way through her journey and really fancied a cup of
tea. He replied that it was ‘Kismet’
that he had come along to serve her at that moment, but she was unfamiliar with
this word or its historical reference.
Having ‘old’ friends is like being part of a ‘school gang’ – you
can use your own ‘in’ vocabulary, talking in a kind of short-hand, because you
know the other(s) will get what you’re
talking about. This also separates you
from those who are ‘outside’ the gang – those who are ‘other’ – helping to give
you that important sense of belonging.
Having a friend who’s known you since your younger days, and
sharing a history of fun times, silliness and various life events, gives us that
‘warm, fuzzy feeling’. If some of these
stories are mildly embarrassing, even better!
But it’s not just about the good times. Friendships are tested and strengthened by
going through challenging times together.
Here too, it is sometimes good to know that we don’t have to explain
ourselves. The other person immediately
knows and understands. With new friends
we might have to tell the story again, or choose to keep it to ourselves, but
an ‘old’ friend gets it because they
were there with us and felt our pain right alongside us.
We are becoming much more aware of the importance of friendships
for our health and wellbeing. I recently
read an article which said that:
“Loneliness is as big a mortality risk as diabetes. Research links social isolation to dementia, heart disease, stroke, depression and a 29% greater risk of dying. … recent research shows the quality of friendships also helps keep us alive…”
So, treasure your ‘old’
friends. If you haven’t seen them in a
while, call them up and reconnect. The
internet is a great tool for this as we now have Facebook, Messenger, Skype, Zoom,
Facetime, WhatsApp and all the other wonderful ways that we can stay in touch.
Share the memories and the laughs – so simple to do and so good for our souls!
As #mentalhealthawarenessweek2019 draws to a close, I thought I would take this opportunity to reshare a blog that I wrote a while ago on why I think we should exercise the ‘3 C’s around #PositiveThinking :
– Conscious consideration
Sometimes I think that the trend for advocating Positive Thinking has got a little out of balance, where people are pushing themselves to feel happy all the time and then feeling that they’ve failed when they fall short of this impossible expectation.
Our lives seem to be full of contradictions! On the one hand we’re bombarded by news that is often negative and full of doom and gloom, while on the other we’re encouraged to be positive, smile and avoid negative thoughts for the sake of our health.
So what’s the answer?!
Well, first of all let’s look at why positive thinking can bring great benefits. The cycle goes like this:
The thoughts that we think create the perspective from which we look at things. This influences the filters through which we interpret the world around us. This determines our experiences, which help to form our beliefs about that world. Our beliefs are what our thoughts are based upon, and so the cycle continues…
Obviously if we think positive thoughts, and can carry this on round the cycle, then we will be happier than if we are plagued by negative thoughts, however…