Why are ‘old’ friends so important?

Good friends are just so valuable, aren’t they?!

A 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!

Don’t 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 lasting bonds.

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that it was ‘Kismet’ that he had come along to serve her at that moment, but she was unfamiliar with this word or its historical reference.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…”

www.theguardian.com

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love this quote from Emily McDowell:

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

It’s like Marianne Williamson says:

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

Stop and think about this for a moment…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes the lack of internet and TV connection here is a blessing!  This week it has inspired me to write this blog…

As we can’t watch any of our favourite programmes at the moment, I’ve been going to the library in Abergavenny to borrow from their collection of DVDs.  One of the movies that I picked up last week was called ‘A Long Way Down‘.  When I chose it, I didn’t read the blurb on the box so had no idea what the story was about and, to be honest, to start with, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to continue watching it, as it’s about a group of 4 people who happen to go to the top of the same building, on the same night (New Year’s Eve) intent on committing suicide.  They obviously hadn’t planned on doing this in front of anyone else and so there’s a bit of awkwardness and they end up agreeing to form a pact, promising not to kill themselves before the next most popular suicide date, Valentine’s Day.

The film then follows them through all their misadventures together, but what struck me was that one of the characters, JJ, feels like an outsider in their little group because, from his perspective, each of the others has a reason for feeling the way they do – one has been publicly shamed, one has lost her sister and the other has a disabled son and spends all her life caring for him.  JJ on the other hand confesses that he doesn’t know why he is unhappy.  He feels hopeless, and also jealous of the others.  They know what is ‘wrong’ in their lives and so they know what they need in order to ‘fix’ things, however as he doesn’t have an obvious ‘problem’, he has no idea how to improve things, or indeed, if that’s even possible…

This got me thinking…  This seems to be a not uncommon situation in our society.  So many people are unhappy, unfulfilled and dissatisfied, without knowing why.  On the surface their life might appear to be ‘good’, or even ‘perfect’, but to them it is a miserable, and perhaps painful, existence.  The issue is compounded because they don’t feel they can complain about this apparently happy life, particularly when so many others have ‘more obvious’ challenges to deal with.

Just look at examples such as Robin Williams.  On the surface he had an amazing life and his public persona was very upbeat, but behind this he was very unhappy and deeply troubled.

I’m glad that there is now a greater awareness about mental health issues, and much work is being done to reduce any stigma.  It’s great to see well-known personalities speaking out about their experience and letting the world see that outward appearances can be deceptive.  Even the most amazing lifestyle, or having lots of money, doesn’t protect you from feeling unhappy.

I believe that these feelings need to be addressed holistically.  It’s not something that will generally be resolved overnight, or with a simple fix.  It takes time for someone to reach this point, and it will take time for them to find their way back to balance and wellbeing, but every step along the way will bring improvement and valuable learning – about themselves, their needs, values and desires – that will be of great benefit in creating the life that they long for.

So, what do I mean when I say that the issue should be tackled ‘holistically’?  We are many layered beings and for us to function at our best, all of those layers need to be healthy and in balance.  When we feel any form of dis-ease, it means that something is out of balance.  In order to resolve this, we need to look at each area of our lives: physical, emotional and spiritual.

These aren’t discrete layers.  They flow from one to the other and are interdependent.  Any separation is artificial, but for simplicity, and ease of explanation, I’ll look at each in turn:

Physical

Did you know that gut health plays a huge part in our mood, as well as in many other aspects of how we feel and of our self image?

For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to what we eat.  For example, did you know:

It’s not just what we eat, either – it’s also about the whole of our environment.  This includes the products you use, both on yourself, and for cleaning.  Did you know that you absorb things more quickly through your skin, than by digestion?  For this reason I try not to use any harsh chemicals.  I use natural, organic, vegan products where possible.  I’m a consultant for Arbonne and I also buy from sites such as Green PeopleNorwex and Forest Hog.

Next week, I’ll look further at the emotional and spiritual aspects.

 

If this post has struck a chord and you’d like to ask any questions, or have a chat, please get in touch:

A challenging week!

In my last post, I was excited as we’d finally been connected to the internet via a Minihub and I was at last able to catch up on some work that had been on hold since we moved here, 3 months ago.  But things went downhill from there!  My computer had been in for repairs and I thought that when I got it back I would be able to get stuck in with many of the things that I’d been planning to do, such as updating my website and planning the Equenergy Open Day, however when I turned it on it made a kind of ‘pfft’ noise, there was a smell of burning and it immediately went off again.  Not good!  I wasn’t too worried though, as I now have a laptop to fall back on, but when I switched it on it was obviously not well either!  It went into a diagnostic loop and then crashed.  Consequently, both are now back in the shop and I’m typing this on my husband’s laptop.  As someone who likes to feel independent and unrestricted, this is frustrating for me…

You might not be aware that in addition to my health and wellbeing business, I also work as a British Sign Language / English interpreter.  This week I’ve been supporting communication for a case at family court.  I was booked by the solicitor representing the mother which has meant that I am interpreting instruction from the client to her solicitor and barrister.  These conference meetings are normally fairly brief and less formal than the court proceedings, and so I have been working on my own, unlike the court interpreters who work in pairs.  The case has proved quite challenging with heated and emotional issues coming up, resulting in long and serious discussions outside of the court room.  I realised that I was going home at the end of each day exhausted and still carrying these emotions.  As you can imagine, the case is highly confidential and so I am unable to offload to anyone.  I am self employed and don’t have a supervisor or line manager to confide in so at times it can be a lonely and isolating experience.  It didn’t help that this was happening at a time when my plate already felt quite full due to my technological challenges back at Equenergy.

Thankfully, as is the nature of court work, although I was booked from 9-5 each day, the times when I was needed were subject to change, meaning that I finished earlier some days, and on a couple of occasions I wasn’t needed until later in the day.  This allowed me to have some time with the horses, doing the regular duties of feeding and poo picking.  (The rest of the time my wonderful husband had taken this on for me.  Without his fabulous support I wouldn’t be able to work these hours.)  These regular duties might not sound very exciting, but they were a great way for me to relax, re-ground and recover my balance and perspective.  Spending time in court listening to evidence of abuse and seeing witnesses caught in perjury can make the world appear to be a very negative and threatening place, but being back in Nature, around these gentle beings, helped to restore my faith in the goodness of Life.

It helped me to remember to focus on the positive and not to get too caught up in the things that seemed to be going against me.  It can be so easy to think of all the ‘problems’ that we’re facing, all the things that are going ‘wrong’ in our day, and to forget about all the little wonderful things that make our lives better.  These can be simple things like the sun shining, a smile from a friend, or enjoying a nice warm cup of tea.  The more we can notice, and be grateful for, these little things, the more things we will see to be grateful for – and the more of these things we will attract into our life.  For me, it was:

  • noticing again the beautiful, restorative stillness of this place
  • the opportunity to spend quiet time with our cat and the horses, whose gentle energy is so calming, smoothing out the wrinkles of my day
  • coming down from the fields to a nice warm house with our little woodburning stove glowing nicely
  • enjoying our outdoor, more physical lifestyle, and being grateful for my health and strength which allow me to do this
  • the beautiful sights and sounds of being in this rural setting
  • being able to cook tasty and nutritious meals to support my wellbeing, particularly when I’ve had a busy, demanding week and need to look after myself

These things are very individual, so what is important to you could be quite different from my list, but these things are particularly precious to me as there have been times in my life when I haven’t had them, and so I’ve come to understand the impact they have on my wellbeing.

What things in your life support your health and balance?  Are there ways that you can bring more of them into your day to day experience?

So when your day is feeling really tough and you’re struggling with lots of challenges, look around for those little moments of brightness.  Take note of them and hold them in your heart.  Perhaps even keep a gratitude diary.  You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference this can make, and how much fun it can be looking out for things that you can be thankful for, or that make you smile.

If you feel that you would value some support in this, or everything just feels too big and you don’t know where – or how – to start, please reach out to someone you trust and ask for their support.

This is one of the areas where I can help, and if you would like to have a (no obligation) chat, then you can contact me at:

 

Feeling our way from Stress into Flow

Thank you for your patience while I’m without regular WiFi connection and my blogs aren’t always posted on time.

This week I thought I would share with you a little about a presentation that I gave earlier this week.  It was the last session of 2018 for The Business Haven, a networking group based in Portishead, and was followed by a fun Christmas lunch.  The lunch included a draw with many wonderful prizes, donated by members of The Business Haven group.  I was very fortunate to win a beautiful necklace made by Katie Bird of Birdsmith Jewellery.  I couldn’t believe it when I opened the parcel and found that it was a delicate silver horse’s hoofprint!  Could it be any more fitting for me?!  Everyone around me was also in awe of the synchronicity of this prize coming to me, particularly as mine was the last number to be chosen and so this necklace had been sitting in the stocking waiting for me!

The presentation I gave was 90 minutes of looking at ways that we can Feel our Way from Stress into Flow.  It was the first time that I’ve run the session in this way.  In the past I’ve given a short 20-minute, interactive session as a Women Mean Biz keynote speaker, and offered a 3 hour workshop from the EQUENERGY healing space.  I was interested to see how it would work in this new format.  In the end it turned out that they were such an open and engaged group that I really enjoyed it!  This is a huge change for me…

About 3 years ago I was working with a business coach who encouraged me to start networking in order to build my business.  I’m naturally quite a shy person and the idea of walking into a room full of people that I don’t know or – heaven forbid! – standing up in front of them and telling them about what I do, was enough to make me want to run away and hide.  But I strongly believe in all that I offer, and I love supporting people to step into their joy and freedom, so I took the leap and tried out some networking groups.  You can read more about this process in my earlier blog post.

Having found the group that worked for me, I was then working with another coach who said that the next step was to offer talks and workshops.  Again, this felt very out of my comfort zone, but I went on a fabulous workshop with Helene Jewell of Jewell Facilitation and learnt how to put together a good workshop and to deal with any challenges that might arise.  This helped to build my confidence and again, reminding myself how much I love what I do, and that it would just be sharing my passion with others, I started to offer workshops and make contact with groups who might be interested in hearing me speak.  At first, I was nervous, but I’ve found that people are usually open, welcoming and interested in the topic.  I love when they ask questions and we start a discussion where everyone can share from their experience.  It’s very much a 2-way learning!  I find it exciting to meet new people in these sessions and to hear a little of their experience and the wisdom that they’ve learnt along the way.  The questions, too, always get me thinking and challenge me to be more aware, and clearer on my message.   For example, on Wednesday Tamsin, the group leader, asked me a question that reminded me of the importance of remaining curious when faced with challenges, rather than feeling overwhelmed, taking things personally or getting angry.

Running this workshop also makes me think of the role that emotional intelligence plays in our wellbeing.  So often we can become detached from our feelings in order to survive in this world, which is sometimes so busy and full of noise that it can leave us feeling overloaded.  I believe that often the key to keeping our balance is to be realistic about how much we can do on our own, to not be afraid to seek support, and to be aware of our own needs, doing our best to meet these rather than expecting someone else to do this for us.  In some ways I think that while our brains have evolved beyond those of our ancestors, we often haven’t learnt ways of responding from this new place.  This can result in dis-ease, as our bodies try to cope with the stress and tension that we hold, unable to indulge in more ‘animal-like’ behaviours, due to etiquette and the rules of polite society, but we’re not yet fluent in alternative ways of releasing the tensions.

Those who have attended these sessions have found them helpful and full of ideas to put into practice in order to support their wellbeing.  This is some of the feedback that I’ve received:

If you’d like to know more, you’re interested in booking a place on a workshop, or you’d like me to run one for your group, please get in touch on 07980669303.

 

A Perfect Storm

perfect storm is an event in which a rare combination of circumstances drastically aggravates the event. The term is used by analogy to an unusually severe storm that results from a rare combination of meteorological phenomena. (Wikipedia)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where one thing after another seems to be going against you?  It can really zap your energy and optimism!

Recently it’s felt a bit like that here.  When we moved to this beautiful part of the world, we knew that there would be some work to do on the outbuildings, and managing the land, but we thought that the house was sound and all we needed to do was move in and we could do any necessary repairs, etc, at our own pace.

However, this has turned out not to be the case.  Of course, this summer was one of the driest on record – even here in Wales.  But the day we moved we had storm Callum, and then in this last week we had storm Diana.  All that wind and rain tested the solidity of the buildings and revealed leaks that weren’t apparent on our earlier visits.  We’ve found that water is coming in, in several places – through roof, doors and walls.  All of this of course means extra expense, which is scary when you’ve just moved house!  There are also leaks in several outbuildings, and the roof on the cabin was threatening to lift off.  We lost a panel off the side of one of the storage buildings and several items were blown into the stream.

The winds also turned poo picking into quite an adventure!  One afternoon I lost my hat, barrow, rake and poo skip – all blown away from me.  The horses were rather spooked by the waving branches and the sound of the wind in the trees and hedges.  Dax quickly settled once he got some hay, but Rika was more uncertain.  She seemed to gain confidence, though, when I stood next to her and reassured her.  She pushed in a couple of times for a scratch and it was lovely to think that my presence put her more at ease.  Thankfully both have still been keeping warm, despite the weather.

Added to this is the fact that we still haven’t been connected to the internet and phone.  TV is also part of the package that we’ve ordered, so we don’t have that either.  This has been a big challenge in many ways and my husband is finding it particularly frustrating.  I was managing reasonably well, using WiFi in a local café as and when I could, but when hubby was away with work for the night of the storm, the sense of isolation from a lack of contact with the outside world, hubby’s frustrations and the fact that he is very unhappy that we’ve moved here, concerns about the effect of the weather on the horses and financial worries, all piled up, and I suddenly felt hopeless and just wanted to rage at the world!

This made me think about what I could do to support myself, when I felt I had run out of energy and resilience.  These were my tips to myself:

  1. Remember to breathe! A simple thing, and it might seem small and insignificant in the face of the storm, but it helps you to be more grounded, to find balance and perspective when the storm is threatening to blow you away.  Also it can be heartening to know that you are still holding on.  When you look back and see what you’ve managed to come through, it can build your confidence and awareness of your inner strength.
  2. Take one step at a time. When you’re in a ‘perfect storm’, everything seems overwhelming.  Each issue appears to be too huge to manage.  We can feel lost and uncertain of where we’re going or what the future might hold.  But keeping moving, even at the slowest pace, means that we’re taking action rather than getting stuck.  And again, we can discover an inner strength and resources we were unaware of, which is a great boost to our confidence and esteem, and contrasts against the things that seem to be knocking us down.
  3. Don’t make any big decisions. When you’re struggling, feeling lost and out of your depth, it’s not a good place from which to make important decisions.  If others are pressing you for an answer, it’s ok to say that you need some time.  You need to be able to restore your sense of balance, perspective and hope, reconnecting again with your inner sense of who you are and what matters to you – your inner compass – before you can hope to make a choice that will serve you.
  4. Spend time with those who lift you up. When you’re struggling to find anything positive or hopeful inside of yourself it can be good to spend time in the company of people, music or books that soothe and encourage us.  I’m very fortunate to have some wonderful friends to call on.  I rang one the night that my ‘perfect storm’ hit, and she immediately suggested getting together.  We’ve arranged to meet up tomorrow and having this to look forward to, I suddenly felt a little better, almost as if I was drowning and had found a rock to rest on allowing me to catch my breath and have the space to regather myself.  It’s said that we become like the 5 people we spend most of our time with, so pay attention to the people – and the energy – that you hang out with.  Are they uplifting?  Encouraging?  Supportive?  Reassuring? Optimistic?  Do they build you up?  Encourage you?  Believe in you?  Reignite your passion?
  5. Take time to rest and reflect, and be gentle with yourself. When everything seems to be yelling for your attention, it’s important to take some time out for yourself. Peace and quiet are invaluable for helping us to recharge and think about where we would like to be once the storm has passed.  For me I noticed that getting outside into the woods, or into the fields with the horses, helped me to put some distance between myself and most of the things that were stressing me.  It helped to restore my balance and sense of positivity.
    Also, don’t be too hard on yourself for being in this situation.  Life can throw us curve-balls.  Finding yourself in the middle of an emotional storm is not a poor reflection on who you are.  It’s our responses to our situation that show our true character.
  6. Take good care of yourself. In the midst of the storm, everything seems to be demanding your time and attention, leaving no time for yourself.  But this can lead to draining your batteries, leaving you exhausted and even ill.  At times like this it’s important to eat healthily – including lots of fresh, preferably organic, produce, including fruit and veg of a wide variety of colours to boost your vitamin and mineral intake – and to get as much sleep as you can.
  7. Hang in there and remember that even the worst storm passes. Suddenly something will shift, or it can be a slow and gradual change that you don’t even notice at first, but then, one morning, you look up and there’s a glimpse of sunshine poking through the dark clouds.  For me, I arrived home yesterday to find a strange car in the driveway.  When I went into the house, I found hubby talking to a lovely bloke who turned out to be, in my husband’s description, “a jack of all trades, and master of all of them”!  In short, it appears that we might have found the guy to help us put our place in shape and get us through the winter intact.  Of course, it’s going to cost money, but those financial concerns seemed to fade into the background when presented with this solution to our other worries.  Also, the fact that hubby was now in a much better mood lifted my spirits immensely!

So, what about you?  What are your tips for dealing with a ‘perfect storm’?  I’d love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you ever feel like the ‘perfect storm’ is building, and you need a break away to think, take stock and recover your balance, you are very welcome to book a session here at Equenergy.  I offer Reiki, Emotional Freedom Techniques (‘tapping’), mindfulness through reconnection with Nature, and workshops on rediscovering that sense of ‘Flow’ in your life.  Please contact me for further information:

Or you can see more on my website:

 

 

Giving our horses the time they need

Friday 2 November

Often, I think, our horses need us to give them more time and space than we realise.

An example of this came up just this morning.  I was poo picking in the fields and I noticed that Rika was yawning.  She seems to have been finding the transition to Wales more challenging than Dax; but then more of this has been new to her than to him, since she has also left her people, as well as her herd and her place.  I hoped that the yawns might mean she was releasing and starting to relax a little more into her new home.

I’d been spending some time scratching Dax and Rika had approached us, so I thought I would offer her some scratches too.  At first she seemed uncertain, so I stepped back to get a clearer idea of what she was trying to tell me.  I sensed that she was just a little unsure but still open, so I gently took a step forward again.  She accepted this so I continued with scratches and a bit of massage.  I heard some long, loud gut sounds and it seemed that she was relaxing a little into my touch.  I decided to offer some rebalancing of her energies along her bladder meridian.  As soon as I started her eyes began to blink, long and slow and I could see that she was working through some stuff.  I only got about half way along her neck when she walked away, putting some distance between us.  She didn’t stop until she had crossed the gateway into the next field.  She stood there for some time, just processing whatever had come up for her.

Part of me would have liked to continue encouraging her to release, and trying to build a bond with her, but I think that to have done so would actually have pushed her further away and perhaps have caused her to shut me out.  I knew that my desire to carry on in that moment was coming more from my need than from ‘Rika’s – my need to connect with her and for her to be happy here.  A part of me wanted this to happen straight away, rather than allowing ‘Rika to find this balance in her own time.  I had to remind myself that horses, like humans, need time to adjust to change.  Everything here is new to her – the place, the people, the food, the grass, the ‘herd’ – so it’s a lot to take in.  Horses can take up to a year, or even more, to fully settle into a new environment and to really feel comfortable enough to ‘be themselves’.  ‘Rika has only been here 3 weeks so I need to be patient and proceed at her pace.

In our human world we are so conditioned to expecting instant results.  So many things are at the touch of our fingertips: news, information, entertainment, even food.  I’ve been made very aware of our dependence on this due to our lack of internet access following our move, and the remoteness of our new location, which is taking us back to slower ways of being.

Horses live to a different timescale from ours.  They tend to be thoughtful beings, weighing things up and exploring them from all angles before deciding what action to take (except of course in the case of instinctive responses to potential threats).  Because of this, they are generally better at being in the present moment – with more of an awareness of the wholeness of their being – and they are less ‘in their heads’ than we tend to be.  We often want them to respond within our timescales, and with the exact movement, or whatever, that we’re asking for.  If this doesn’t happen, we ask again and again until it does, often increasing the volume or adding more energy.  How must this appear to these gentle, slower-paced animals…?  In fact, when we work with horses, it’s often a case of ‘less is more’ – the quieter and more subtle our signals, the more responsive the horse becomes.

There is much that we can learn from horses in this.  Spending time with them and sharing their energy can help us to take on that slower pace, allowing us to let go of the stresses and pressures of our everyday lives in order to find greater grounding and balance.  This has huge benefits for our wellbeing.

 

 

Saturday 3 November

This morning I went up to give the horses their hay as usual.  Dax is always the first to push in for a mouthful, whereas ‘Rika hangs back, knowing that he will move her away if she comes too close.  I dropped a few leaves from the bale in one of the feeding spots then, while Dax tucked in, I called ‘Rika to follow me to where I would place some more hay.  I left her happily munching while I put out the rest of the hay, then came back to check in with each of them, as I do every morning.  ‘Rika was nearest, so I approached her first.  Normally she adopts a very defensive stance when I come up to her when she’s eating.  On previous days she would tense, become very watchful, put her ears back and sometimes block me with her hindquarters, but today there was none of this.  Her ears stayed forward, or tuned in to me, she appeared relaxed and she even turned to say hello.  Shortly after this she approached me and accepted some gentle stroking.  This is a big change in her behaviour.  Nothing earth-shattering maybe, but she definitely appears to be a more settled and engaged horse this morning.  I believe that listening to her request for space yesterday, and allowing her to take the time she needed, has helped to build more trust and respect between us.  She is such a big-hearted girl and beautiful soul and hopefully she will find contentment here in this wonderful place with us.

 

Alice Griffin, writing in a recent edition of Horsemanship Magazine (Issue 109), about her time on a horseback tour of the Alentejo region of Portugal, says:

“In this increasingly busy world there are few places that offer a true sense of peace; where roads are empty, passersby rare and where we can truly find a way to switch off and be submerged in nature.”

She noticed that the Alentejan people are

“… often teased for their lackadaisical approach to life, but I can’t help thinking they are all the smarter for refusing to get rushed along by expectation, instead choosing to soak up every moment with deepened relish”

I too, think there is something very special about being able to slow down and reconnect – both with ourselves, and with the animals and nature all around us – and to be able to appreciate the richness and wonder of it all.

Alice goes on to say that:

“Somehow animals – unlike humans – have not lost their ability to be at one with the earth, remaining unchanged in their effortless navigation of rivers, rocks, hills and valleys despite the centuries that may have passed.”

If Portugal isn’t for you at this time, you can still experience a little of this magic of Nature and horses for yourself here in the UK.  I offer mindfulness and wellbeing sessions here at our wonderful retreat space in rural Wales, not far from Abergavenny, Wales (map) Just get in touch to find out more:

Or take a look at my website: www.equenergy.com

   

Lessons from the mist and a formal introduction

Well, we’ve been in our new home for 3 weeks now!  In some way the time has flown by and it feels like we’ve been here for much longer, and in other ways it still feels very new.

The time has flown by in a blur and at times it has felt very overwhelming.  It’s a huge change living here, compared to our old life in the suburbs of Bristol.  Suddenly having 8.5 acres of paddocks, woodland and vegetable and fruit areas feels rather out of our comfort zone!

  • How on earth do you care for all these magnificent trees and hedges?
  • How do you support Nature to do her thing while still keeping the land manageable?
  • What’s the best way to care for our little orchard?
  • What veg should we grow here – and where do we even start with that?!

As you’ll know, if you’ve been following my blog, we’ve been without WiFi since we moved in.  On one level this is quite nice, as it allows us time to focus on other things – wow, I can now see how social media has eaten my time in the past! – but it has also meant that we don’t have a working landline in the house, our mobile connection is patchy, we have no access to emails or looking things up on the internet – and we have no TV.  (Lots of DVD watching and actually having to have conversations!)

All this has left us feeling rather out of our depth.  At times I’ve felt like I’m lost and can’t see my way…

One morning I was pushing a barrow full of hay up to the field for the horses.  Dawn was just breaking and there was a mist hanging over the fields.  I could only see clearly for a few steps ahead of me.  But as I walked I realised that, as I moved forwards the path ahead of me was revealed, step by step.  I couldn’t see any further ahead than a few metres, but the fact of moving forward was meaning that those few metres were also shifting with me, allowing me to see my next few steps.  This felt a bit like my life at the moment.  It made me think that if I could just ‘go with it’, and trust the process, choosing to be content with only seeing the next few steps and not stressing about being unable to see the whole of the path, then I would feel more at ease and less out of control.

This, and spending time with the horses surrounded by the beautiful fields and woodland here, has helped me to be more grounded and to feel more balanced and settled in this new life.  I’m more able to look ahead to how I might be able to develop my practice by drawing on all the wonderful resources of this place.

In this week’s post I also wanted to introduce you to our newest addition to the family.  Her formal name is Ulrike, and previously she was known as Eureka, but we’ve shortened her name to ‘Rika.  As you might remember, I believe that names can be significant and I love the meanings that this beautiful girl’s name holds:

Ulrike – a German name meaning Mistress of All

Rika – a Norse name meaning Forever Strong

Rikka – a Teutonic name meaning Tranquil Leader

I had been hoping that this mare would be a leader for our ‘teenager’ gelding.  That hasn’t quite worked out as planned as he tends to be the one who bosses her around, but I think that her steadfast, gentle presence will still be a wonderful asset.

Next week I’ll share a little more about how things are going with her but for now I need to sign off as I need to get home before dark to feed these two!

 

 

We’re in!

I’d like to apologise for the lack of posting last week.  We moved to our new home on 12 October and have not yet been connected to the internet, so everything is being done as and when we can get WiFi or 4G when we’re out and about.

Our new home is very beautiful though it has brought many challenges.  The weather on the day of our move was wild and windy which caused some issues with coming across the bridge from Bristol to Wales.  This seems to have set the tone for the following days, too, as it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride.

The removal itself went past in a blur.  The team arrived and seemed to sweep all our belongings up and into their lorries then head off to our new location, without even pausing for breath!  We then discovered that they’d been so thorough in their sweep that they’d taken my car keys with them! This added a whole new dimension to the process.

My lovely mother and father in law had come along to help with the move but unfortunately they took a wrong turn on entering Wales and were lost for a couple of hours with no way to contact them as they don’t have mobiles.  When Tim and I finally arrived we found that the lorries had already been emptied, but everything was in the wrong place, leaving us with lots to sort out and heavy things to try and move around over the next couple of days.  It also meant that we couldn’t find anything – though this meant that we had to unpack every box which helped us to make the place feel a little more like home.

We couldn’t have done it all without the wonderful help from a couple of Tim’s friends from work.  Thank you so much guys – we owe you big time!!

The property is a cute little cottage which is very tastefully renovated, however we found that there was some… creative wiring in the house and the office which needed to be sorted as a matter of urgency.  We’ve also found that the sockets and outlets in the other outbuildings do not work which is posing some interesting challenges as the days grow shorter.  Also some of the outbuildings leak, meaning that we don’t yet have the storage area we thought we would have.

The horses were due to join us the next day, but the wind was still blowing hard and so we had to reschedule.  Originally we thought this was going to be for the following week, but thankfully we managed to move them on the Sunday and so they’ve been here for nearly 2 weeks now.  Dax seems to be loving it in this new, wild, Welsh space – we think he might be part Welsh Section D so perhaps some of his genes feel like they’ve come home – and ‘Rika is settling in well.  This involves rolling in the mud so she’s hardly recognisable now!

     Dax and ‘Rika – before the mud bath

‘Rika after her roll in the mud!

Despite the challenges, I love it here.  Walking up to see the horses every morning and evening is such a special time.  I love watching the light, which is constantly changing and subtly altering the landscape and its moods.  Also, the changing colours of the leaves at this time of year are turning the surrounding countryside a glorious golden hue.

The woods are amazing and there’s lots of wildlife.  Most of this we hear rather than see, but there’s a wonderfully cheeky robin who is a frequent visitor.

In one of the fields there is a fabulous old beech tree.  It holds an ancient, mystical energy and is a wonderful place for some mindful meditation.

I’m so looking forward to opening this space up to share its healing energy with others!

I will be inviting people to come and spend time in this peaceful place and allow it to open their hearts and bring healing.

This is an opportunity to take some time, just for yourself, to get out of your head and into your body.

To Be present…

To Feel

To get in touch with your body and emotions and see how they can show you what is working well for you, and what isn’t, so that you can make supportive changes.

It’s a chance to reconnect with the Earth beneath your feet and the Nature all around you to bring balance, harmony and wellbeing.

And Breathe…

If you’d like to know more, please get in touch, or see my website for more information: