A love letter from me to you.
Hello and Happy Galentine’s Day. I thought today would be the perfect day to write you a love letter.
A heart felt sharing from my heart to yours.
I recently described my life to a friend as being in the rapids of the penultimate episode of’ I’m a celebrity’. Here I am triumphantly holding my stars, excited, proud, successful ready to win and the next minute I’m flailing around in the mud and guts of it all gasping for breath, my lofty goals reduced to simply surviving it all. Then I’m up again daring to dream, reaching out to others, being part of the team only to be knocked right back into the water, struggling to breath let alone swim.
This could well feel like a metaphor for the last two years with the never ending false hopes, promises, moving goalposts, new variants and changing rules. As a mother of two little ones and a f2f business owner and just as a flipping human being tbh 2020 was hard but I gotta say 2021 was harder. The weariness, the confusion, the resignation setting in, the lack of motivation against a backdrop of social media posts and news items encouraging us to get back out there and live our best lives were at stark odds with my waning confidence and lack of desire to do anything more then just make it though.
A Year of Highs and Lows
Last year was a year of so many highs and lows. I spent the first 90 days of 2021 running the most magical sisterhood circles with the most incredible group of women
It was the year we were able to properly reopen, it was the year we got back onstage, it was the year we finally graduated all our showgirls in waiting from March 2020. It was the year my sister got married and my eldest boy started school.
And last year was also the year my youngest developed a viral wheeze, a condition not uncommon in pre schoolers but bloody terrifying and exhausting all the same. The first time we experienced it was last April, We were enjoying the first social thing we’d done in ages, my brother and sister in law came over to us with their kids who together with our two boys played beautifully together for the first time ever. Lunch turned into dinner and we ordered pizzas and drunk beers in the warm spring sunshine. We talked, laughed even hugged each other and it felt so, so good.
A day later we noticed Aengus just wasn’t quite himself, teething , it must be teething. We carried on through the tantrums, until my partner noticed he was struggling to breathe, that lead to a three day stay in hospital. Now luckily Aengus is quite fine once he is given oxygen and an inhaler but the salbutamol sends him as high as a kite and from 7pm when we arrived until 7am the next morning I ran a marathon trying to control a hyper 18 month old as he literally climbed the ICU walls. Once admitted onto a ward it continued for further 12 hrs, until he finally collapsed with exhaustion but not for long, high, sleep deprived, hungry ( I just cannot make him eat on that drug) it all continued for a further 24 hrs. And due to Covid, there were no toys, no access to the outside play area and no visiting, just me, and a barely working iPad that he didn’t want to watch. Finally we were deemed safe enough to go home but were warned we’d probably be back the next time he gets a virus.
We went in a further 6 times in 2021, and although thank God it’s only truly serious if you don’t spot it in time, the endurance test is hard. The amount of wide eyed, manic, parenting I did in those 9 months really took its toll, during and in between hospital trips. There isn’t a night I don’t check my son’s breathing and not a day I don’t feel relieved and thankful for it not to be a wheezy day.
As a Mother you really are expected to be a super human, to parent on no sleep, little food, shit of no coffee and then be shiny and productive the next day.
The end of the year saw my little boy go back into hospital with a terrible episode. The very day we came out my partners mother had a fall, was admitted to hospital and within a few days the dementia she had been hiding so well at home was impossible to hide anymore. By Boxing Day we knew she would never be going home again and now the heartbreaking task of getting her into a care home and closing down a house she’s lived in for 50 years is our daily work in amongst managing two businesses, two little boys and ourselves.
On the 28th Dec the combined stress of the last two years, the constant hospital trips and stays. My partner’s grief at a life yet to pass but totally lost to us already. The mental and physical exhaustion of it all felt so overwhelming I thought I was going to spontaneously combust. The overriding feeling I had was actually rage, real guttural fuck this shit rage. I could barely function, I was losing it with my kids and more then that I was losing it with myself.
Everything I teach about being enough, remembering your magic, being in your body, using movement as your medicine, felt like a cruel joke. I could see it, but I felt so far away from the woman who can walk her talk, instead I felt like a fake, a fraud, a failure who daren’t let the world know how utterly joyless and empty she felt.
And as a woman who has done ‘the work’ (I can’t say that phrase without pulling a stupid retching face) or a big chunk of it. Who can and does walk often in her own her glory, wears her crown and feels pretty darn good about my life, body, career etc. It’s so blindingly obvious when I’m in a place of disempowerment. It brings for me at any rate a huge feeling of guilt and shame. The shame says, it shouldn’t be this way, you know better, you know how to get out of this, the shame has me desperately wanting to fix this – not good enough- mother/woman/human. The guilt and shame has me hide and be alone.
Note to self don’t be alone!!!
Further note to self and you……
I’m giving you permission
To feel in the depths of despair
To give two fingers up to any kind of action or measure or thought or molecule of energy it takes to change or better your situation or mood.
I’m giving you permission to just fucking exist because that is enough. Because you are enough. You are enough on minus 24 hrs sleep in iCU with your screaming kid
You are enough in your bubble bath listening to mediation music ( like this ever happens post kids;) and every place in between, lower and higher.
It’s uncomfortable to be face down in the mud. Metaphorically and actually.
But that’s what makes us fucking human.
You cannot write gratitude lists, set intentions, dance it out when you’re in flight or flight mode. Your cortisol is pulsing. Fear, stress and anger are running the show. So don’t even try.
It’s ok, I give you permission. I give you a pass, it’s ok to tap out and just get the fuck through it.
This is Enough, you are enough.
Because it will pass, it really will and when it does, if deep down you are committed to feeling that love, joy and magic that is your birth right, then you will. You will breathe, you will re set your intentions, your will dance, you will be tender and loving to yourself again.
You will blossom, and it will be beautiful.
So on that day, I broke, sobbing in the toilet leaving a message on my family WhatsApp group, I vomited the whole sorry story up through snot and tears. The sister who usually has it all together was a total fucking basket case, scared for herself, her kids, her family, her life. Scared and angry at everything. Within minutes the love came pouring in, I couldn’t even answer the phone but the calls came anyway. I could breath again, it was like letting a little bit of air out, just enough to feel a moment of relief, to feel the earth solid beneath my feet again.
Over the course of a week I spoke to every member of my family and allowed them in, I allowed their love to hold me, I started to feel safe to feel like I could cope again.
A week after that I felt a rush of the old me, that warmth that confidence, that love, that excitement, that knowledge that everything is going to be ok, I started to pick up old dreams and weave them again. I knew, my body needed to dance, I signed up for an online Qoya class with Meghan Field, a goddess and lioness of a woman, In Qoya you set an intention in your heart and allow your body to move it into existence. My intention was the phrase full of love, connected, and guided.
Within hours of this class life started to open up, I was aligning with my purpose, my joy, my love. I stayed in this lovely pace for a few days holding my winning stars, remembering my magic, but the water cannons were already on and it took a mild viral wheeze, a COVID scare and my mother in law back in hospital to have us all back in the rapids again.
But this time it was even worse because my beautiful big boy Osian was right in the cross fire. Obstinate, stubborn, triggering the hell out of me and Jason, with every defiance lighting a flare to show just how out of control life felt and just how rubbish we were at fixing it all.
And that word rubbish is the word my son used to describe himself.
Along with the anger, the hits, the punches, the kicks, the I hate you’s
That came with it.
“But why Osian, who told you that, why do you think that”?
“I just do, I’m rubbish” he declared again through gritted teeth, eyes full of tears, “I’m rubbish.”
I told him a million times, no, that he is clever and brilliant and funny and kind and that we love him, but it made no difference.
I left it alone, so sad and so confused and so full of my own self hatred. Im fucking this up, I’m fucking this up I muttered over and over to myself.
I don’t know how to do this, I’m a terrible mother. Terrible.
Now I was back to not only trying to fix myself but trying to fix my son.
What’s Missing Is Blindingly Obvious
Luckily In my ‘full of love’ moment a few weeks prior I had signed up for a two hour manifesting class with another gorgeous Woman Ashlie Walker. In that workshop I watched Ashlie coach 5 or so women in how to receive. When it came to my turn I already knew the biggest missing in my life. The reason life feels like rapids right now, why I’m up, down and sideways aside from life’s curve balls which I just can’t control. There is a missing piece in my ‘full of love’ declaration. What’s missing is the blindingly obvious, big old helping of SELF love.
But surely that’s what we are doing all the time right? I’m constantly telling my students to love themselves, we all know this is the quickest way to feeling good is the old self love mantra. But we also know that life is not set up that way. Our own conditioning whether that be our parents, school, the media, we pick up the very opposite message all the time, you are not enough, you need fixing, get smaller, shrink your dreams, your desires, shrink your very being. And those subconscious messages, that old conditioning is the very thing that will take you down when the water cannons come, and they come for us all at some point or another.
So although we talk about self love a lot it’s not always an easy thing to do, it’s against the curve, it’s a rebellious act. It takes commitment, action and community.
So I cannot stop the water canons, the what and why of life, I can’t stop my son from calling himself rubbish, in fact I’m not even going to try, he might just need to ride that wave for a while but what I can do is model what loving myself looks like, I can love myself how I love him, with every fibre of my heart, with the love, trust and knowledge that I am doing my best and from that place comes trust.
I can dig my feet into the earth and lean into the universal energy of love, knowing that the universe has got my back, that I don’t have to do it on my own. And when the calm comes after the storm I can take responsibility for my own self care. For me as as woman, a partner, a mother, an entrepreneur and a leader in my field and I can do it without having to control everything.
What It Looks Like
It looks like holding the space for my son to feel his feelings, to allow him and me that grace, to sit with the uncomfortable for a little whilst we process and move through it.
It looks like reaching out to my family and actively receiving their love and support, allowing myself to be vulnerable, to share the messiness of life. I categorically do not have my shit together and may never have my shit together but it’s not going to stop me and never has.
It looks like dropping all expectation to do anything then just get through it when I’m down in the mud. Because that’s ok, that’s more then ok.
And when I’m not in the mud, it looks like making time to dance, even if that’s for 5 minutes on my own in my pants. It looks like booking in time to see the women who make me laugh, who get me, who champion me as much as possible, it looks like spending time with light filled, authentic women as much as possible. (That’s all of you by the way, spending more time with all of you)
It looks like inviting the support of incredible coaches and mentors into to my life to hold me accountable to remind me to ground myself in deep, deep love whenever I can.
It looks like telling my kids in those moments of desperation, those moments of burn out, those moments of overwhelm and exhaustion that “ Mummy is just going to love herself right now!!” And I know what that sounds like…… so yes to that too ( but not when the kids are awake;)
It looks like saying sorry and forgiveness to myself when the ‘fix it’s’, self loathing and meanness creeps in. it looks like seeing myself with new eyes, with compassion, with kindness, with – let go – laughter, with love.
It looks like just loving myself exactly how I am and exactly how I am not.
So why do I share all of this, I share it because I want you to know that you’re ok, wherever you are at right now, you are not alone, to tell you that you can be achieving great things, have an incredible life be doing ‘the work’ and still be stuck in the rapids sometimes, or for a long time. To tell you that life rarely looks like the yoga poster, that we are all juggling and holding so much. To tell, you that there is power in honesty, vulnerability and sharing your messiness. That there is power in being with light filled and authentic women, that there is medicine in your movement.
And if that all feels really far away right now, it’s OK. Take a breath, call someone, cry, create space and start again.
Step by Step, Feel Your Way
Step by step, feel your way, there is a golden thread connecting you, the core of you to the rest of the world. I use the phrase Step by Step, feel your way that often, especially when I feel stuck, overwhelmed or in a needy place. The slowing down, has me curious, attentive and interested in the now and the magic all around me instead of a far off oasis of perfection or happiness that I, and I’m sure all of us could spend years striving for and never reaching.
So step by step feel your way back into your body, feel your way back to something true, something real. stop trying to prove yourself or slay the day, get quiet, listen, follow what feels good. Even if it makes no sense or is way off from what you think you should be doing.
Figure out what loving yourself feels like, looks like to you.
because you’ve still got all your stars and the game can be fun, the game can be amazing.
So whatever you are doing or whatever you are going through this Galentines , please give yourself a break, know that it’s ok, you are already enough and before you love anyone else you might just need to go and love yourself for a while…. In whatever way feels good to you…. 😉