onwards & upwards

As a general rule, I don’t tend to label days or weeks as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but last week really was a BAD week, and so this week has been about moving onwards & upwards.

Or as a friend often says in such moments: ‘AVANTE!’

I had some (mental health) homework to do over the weekend which has been surprisingly helpful. The first part was to identify some key personal values; the second part was to find activities which support/match each of those values. For example, if one of my values was ‘feeling a sense of achievement’, completing a DIY task would be an activity which supports that value.

The idea behind the homework is to find a whole range of activities that support my values, so that I can spend more time doing those things (because they will help me to feel better) and less time doing mindless things (such as watching TV) which might be a  good distraction but which don’t contribute to a sense of well-being. To start with I was a bit flummoxed about my task, but once I gave it some thought it all became clearer and I have used it this week to help me feel more ‘me’.

I have also taken some inspiration from this gorgeous picture (by Lori Roberts) which is called ‘ABC of Life’ – I think it encapsulates all the things that matter to me (maybe apart from the voting?!):

ABC of life by Lori Roberts

So armed with my list and Lori’s art, I thought I’d share some of my wins from the past week:

  • a long walk on Saturday morning in the company of friends, followed by tea and cake at The Avocet Gallery in Rye Harbour got the weekend off to a really great start. The sunshine and stunning views made the early start very worthwhile. I walk everyday but really love to venture out for longer walks when I can – it works like a meditation for me I think. This week it will be Fairlight to Hastings, chips on the beach, and walk back again…
  • after-class drinks in the pub on Monday evening was a good start to the week – even though I don’t drink and I didn’t want cheesy chips, it was great to be in the company of those who do & did. Thank you lovely FP ladies x
  • I picked up my crochet hook (after a gap of 2 years) just to check I could still remember what to do (and I can!) ready to join a CAL (crochetalong) at Hoop in Tenterden on Saturday afternoon. I can’t wait to get started again – creating something (anything) is most definitely one of my key values – and I’ll be able to show what I made in 3 months’ time… [Do have a look at their website for details of upcoming events and workshops if you like to dabble with hook or (knitting) needle]
  • skiving off for an hour to pick damsons in the middle of a working day was a real feel-good moment – the sun was shining, buzzards were circling & calling overhead and there was no-one else around to compete for my bounty. I don’t often eat jam but I’m going to make it anyway to make use of my hedgerow harvest and add another tick to the ‘creating something’ activity list
  • bizarrely, and I never thought I’d say this, but I have even gained pleasure form starting on my tax return this week! Partly because it fits my ‘moving forward’ value but also because looking through the receipts has brought up many fond memories of planning & delivering my first retreat event this time last year. It’s odd that so much joy can be stored in an invoice, but I will definitely look for it every time I complete my tax return in future.

Rye Harbour

(Saturday morning in Rye Harbour)

It has surprised me how much a piece of homework which initially had me weeping (so much so that I literally kept turning the sheet of paper over so I didn’t have to look at it!!) has helped me to move beyond a difficult week and feel much more connected to myself again, and I haven’t been feeling that for quite a while. It’s just one step on a long road, but it feels great to make a start.

Obviously we all have our own unique set of values that keep us grounded. Maybe you already know what yours are or maybe my homework might help you too –

  • what are your key values?
  • what activities do you do to support them?

Onwards & upwards.

Avante!

self care

Written in November 2017:

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about #selfcare & what I can add to my life to fill up my bucket over the next few months. I think over the course of 2017 I lost the balance of work & life a little bit and I don’t want to continue this way.

I’m very aware that if I’m not careful the things I add will start to feel like stuff-that-has-to-be-done which of course takes away the joy of doing them… The hours I work don’t leave much time for regular extra-curricular things so I’ve decided to focus on adding ‘ad hoc’ things I can do when I feel able to. My goal is definitely to add quality but not quantity. I already have enough quantity going on…!

In the context of my own life, I was already thinking about how important #selfcare is when I had a conversation with a client one evening and was quite saddened by something she said.

She has recently experienced some leg pain and after some successful soft tissue work with her last week, I advised her on a couple of simple release exercises she could use during the week to keep her feeling more comfortable. She has been frustrated by her limited ability to exercise and is keen to get back to running. We were catching up on her week, and talking about whether she had done any of the releases I had suggested and she said that she had literally not had the required two minutes on any day since I had seen her last!!

Really??!

We had a pretty light-hearted chat about where she might have found those two minutes each day, but I really hope the message was loud & clear:

if we never put ourselves at the top of our own to-do list, we’ll never be at the top of our to-do list!

My lovely (& undeniably very busy) client had put everything else on her list – stroke the dogs, sort through the post, organise the children to practise their music, make the dinner, a large G&T…and I’m not in any way saying that those things are not important BUT I am definitely saying that those things are not more important than her leg. I hope she heard me – I’ll be checking with her next week for sure!

Self-care comes in all shapes and sizes.

If we ignore our body when it is in pain, the pain is not going to go away, and it will probably get worse and require more time in the long run.

In the same way, if we ignore a lack of balance in our work & life, it probably isn’t going to become any more balanced…

What shape does your #selfcare look like?