A beautiful racket

I have woken early in my bed and breakfast bedroom today. Too early really as I have a long drive back home tonight, but as I lay there I was reflecting how still it is here in this little village, in this lovely comfortable house. Then I had yet another moment of realisation. That stillness is internal, not external. It’s me, I am still! Or rather my mind is. That’s cool huh?

This week has been a strange mix of excitement and peace. New people, new ideas, revelations popping in my head like popcorn. There have been quite a lot of tears as I have learned new things, found a new acceptance, made new friends, and discovered a future that is calm and centred. It has been a big week!

I feel as though I have finally broken through my past, and stumbled upon something rather wonderful. Like walking through a dark forest and discovering a sunlit glade where the sunshine hits your shoulders and warms you through as you leave the shade of the trees. Bits of the forest were beautiful but some of it was dark and scary, and stepping into the clearing lifts your spirits, you can see some blue sky, green grass, and there is colour in your world again.

Too profound for 6am? I apologise. But there might be more of this over the next few weeks!

Much of this blog over the last few years has been me looking back at my past. Mostly the bad bits, some good, and trying in some way to create good from the bad. This summer has been pretty much all good. Our move north has turned out to be the best thing we have done. I am feeling a contentment that has escaped me for many years.

During the course this week I have shared my story with many people. Eager to share how amazing my life has become, wanting to shout to people that no matter where you are you can change things. I have talked about my house, and how important it is to me. How when we got to Morecambe it felt as though the house invited me in and welcomed me, wrapping me up in a good place.

I have also bared my soul to people. Talking openly about my fears, my misery about being overweight, all the things that have held me back in the past. All those thoughts that were spinning around in my head creating a reality in my mind that has dragged me down, held me back from truly finding something that I have been looking for, for a very long time. But all those thoughts are just that. Thoughts. Good and bad. Thoughts do not create reality. I do. I don’t have to think thoughts. I can push them away, not dwell on them. Find that stillness in my head and heart, to make room for something else. Something more profound, a wisdom that was always there, there was just too much noise in my head to hear it.

David shakes and holds up a snow globe. He likens the thoughts in our head to the snow swirling around inside the globe. We have to let it settle, wait for it to stop swirling, let the peace into our heads so we can listen.

I don’t think I am all the way there yet. But I am in a rather beautiful place. You know when the first snow falls… at dusk, how the world grows still and quiet as the huge flakes of snow begin to fall to the ground. Everything becomes still and silent, as though the world is waiting for something rather special. And every flake is unique, individual, joining together to form a comforting, beautiful white blanket that somehow softens all the sharp edges, but brings the world to a different, somehow sharper focus. That’s where I am. I am one of those beautiful unique flakes, settling gently, with many others.

I often wake with a song in my head. And this was todays, the one that inspired this blog. I have often identified with these lyrics, but today that words that resonate, and seem to match where are am are:

“The infinite wisdom, between a smile and a tear…”

I wish you peace.

Beautiful Racket – Mary Chapin Carpenter

So your day begins like this
Wondering what might have been
Old regrets and chances missed
Borne away on some lambent wind

The job’s okay, so it doesn’t inspire
Thoughts of leaving it all behind
You used to have dreams of settin’ the world on fire
All you want now is peace of mind

And a beautiful racket an’ whispers and roars
The bitter and sweet between the truces and the wars
The noise and the quiet, the courage and the fear
And all of the wisdom between a smile and a tear

Do your dreaming in traffic jams
You do your running in shopping malls
You do your breathing the best you can
Between car pools and cell phone calls

Who cares, you’ll never live in Paris
So what, you’ll never travel by Lear
How do some of us learn what matters
While others never get to hear

Such a beautiful racket an’ whispers and roars
The bitter and sweet between the truces and the wars
The noise and the quiet, the courage and the fear
And all of the wisdom between a smile and the tears

Hold on
Hold on

So your day will end like this
Turning slowly down your street
Silent worlds of kitchens lit
Front yards full of fallen leaves

Trees are bare, the garden’s done
Another season gone to earth
Before you blink a new one comes
Reminding you what the old one’s worth

And a beautiful racket comes in whispers and roars
The bitter and sweet between the roses and the wars
The noise and the quiet, the courage and the fear
And the infinite wisdom when you hear

Such a beautiful racket
Such a beautiful racket, hold on
 

 

 

Me, myself and I…

Image result for heart

Those of you who have been following my “journey” this year will know that back in the spring I had a bit of a revelation at a free workshop I attended with a coach called David Key. That overwhelming moment of insight showed me a path that I had not considered before. A way that I could use my natural inclination to help people, by learning to be a coach and combined with some products that have helped me, creating a business built around well-being and personal development.

I booked onto a course hosted by David, and got on with my relocation to Morecambe and all the other positive and dynamic changes in my life. Nigel and I basically took the summer off to settle in and start working on our new home. I don’t think that either of us really realised just how fatigued we both were. From years of working hard, stressing out and just getting by. My sleep patterns improved, my blood pressure is better, it has been a very positive time.

We rounded the summer off with two weeks on our favourite Greek island, Poros, in the Saronic Gulf. Time spent together, in sunshine, with friends, great food and lots of time to do nothing. Bliss.

Back from Greece I headed south to see my mum and daughter and to visit with some friends. Then I headed across Hertfordshire to attend the course I booked so many months ago.

You, dear reader, will be aware of my many battles with my health, my hair and my lack of self-belief. It has all been well documented in this blog.  If you are a new reader, feel free to visit my past ramblings!

Anyway. Fast forward to Saturday morning. Getting ready for the first day of the course I caught sight of someone in the mirror. I almost did not recognise myself. That relaxed, tanned beauty with strawberry blonde hair. What was she doing in my room. Looking closer I saw Penny. And Penny was smiling. I stood taller and set the sat-nav for the course venue, with a song in my head and excited anticipation in my heart.

It has been amazing. David is an inspirational speaker, and the other people on the course are all really lovely. There is a great dynamic and the principals that David is sharing with us make total sense. There are no questions in my mind. For once in my life I am in the right place, at just the right time. I get it. I am positively brimming over with enthusiasm. I make a conscious decision to spend time with the people in the group that I do not know. Not something I would have done in the past. I share my wonderful stories with them and they share theirs with me. I tell them of our brave relocation to Morecambe. It makes people smile. I cannot stop talking! No-one seems to mind.

Each night I download the days information to Nigel. Making room for the next day. I sleep like a baby!

Today, around 4pm, I had another “moment”. Listening to David telling us about the lowest moment in his life, when he was talking about how he nearly lost everything, how he used drugs, alcohol and gambling to cover up what was going on in his life I felt a ping in my chest. I couldn’t draw breath. My throat closed. And tears filled my eyes. In that moment, I could not see the Penny that I had seen in the mirror earlier in the week. All I could see was Fat Penny. The Penny that cannot lose weight. The Penny that battles with her body all the time. The Penny with a bad back, bad knees, who treats going up to her office on the 2nd floor in her new house as a mountaineering expedition. The Penny who sometimes ignores her diabetes, knowing that she is damaging her body, unable to make the choices she should make to improve her health, so that she can live longer for her husband and daughter. For herself.

I could not see the improvements that I have made. The positive steps that I make every day in the right direction. All I could see was those moments of weakness where I cave in, ignore all my instincts and make bad choices that I know will make me feel ill, weak, bloated and pathetic. My mind kicked up several gears, my thoughts racing at 100 miles an hour.

But. In the exact same moment that Fat Penny re-emerged and slapped me, the principles I have learned this week kicked in and with them the realisation that I have the power within me to change all of this. By recognising that these thoughts are just thoughts. By believing that I was born perfect. That I have everything I need to return to that perfect state. That I love myself enough to do that.

In those few moments, many of my past experiences spun around in my head and fled. I have spent so long examining and re-examining my past, when all I really needed to do was to concentrate on the now and accept. That acceptance was what brought tears to my eyes. Acceptance that everything will be ok. Acceptance that I do not need to worry. It’s all ok. It is. That’s right.

 

 

 

Notes from a Greek island…

 

Selfie at my desk…

 

Back again in our favourite place, a little oasis of peace in this troubled world, the Greek island of Poros. Please don’t tell everyone about this place, it is very special and we wouldn’t want the hoi polloi coming here and spoiling it! I am joking of course, we have many friends here with businesses and things have been so dire for Greece over the last few years we would love to encourage people to come here. It does not have the best beaches and it is quite a trek to get here, but the welcome and the friendship you will find here virtually guarantee that you will want to come back.

It has been a little weird. I am used to arriving here exhausted and on my knees, barely able to hold a conversation for the first few days. But over the last few years since leaving behind the stress of full time employment I have settled in quickly and easily. But this year, we have felt like we have been on holiday since relocating to Morecambe, and our Poros stay feels simply like an extension of our prolonged staycation in our little bubble.

This illusion was helped by our last day in Morecambe bringing us blue skies and sunshine with a visit to a fabulous event, Vintage by the Sea, held there every year. I will not easily forget walking into the glorious art deco hotel, The Midland, and finding myself surrounded by people dressed like an episode of Poirot! (Which incidentally, was once filmed there!). A very surreal and delicious moment!

Anyway, the plan is that this two weeks (yes! Two full weeks and a day!) break in the sunshine will mark our return to a new reality. Nigel is applying for part-time jobs, and the day after we return to blighty, I will be heading down south to see Mum and Zoe before embarking on my training course to move myself into the role of coach, to launch myself on the unsuspecting public and help people in the way that I have received help over the last year.

As regular readers will know, Poros always makes me thoughtful and reflective. It has been my go-to place for so many years now. I have had unhappy times here on occasion too, but Poros heals. My friends on Poros help with the healing. And this year after everything we have achieved Poros is still moving me forward, restoring my confidence and pushing me onward. My visits to Poros will also motivate me to get my business going, so that I can visit more often. A great incentive to be successful.

I have always loved the greek people. They are argumentative and noisy, but always passionate and caring. Loyal, kind and hard-working. Surely somewhere in my genes there is a bit of greek! I hope so.

Poros sunset

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had to take a few reality checks. Our gorgeous house is going to take a long time to renovate, and my kitchen will go on the back burner for a little while. Our bedroom will be finished by the end of the month, and our guest rooms will be ready to receive visitors. The rest of it may take a while longer. But that’s ok. Along with that reality check a few doubts have crept in. That old negative voice in my ear, started whispering its poison. Are you good enough? What makes you think you can help people? Will you ever be a “success”? And so on and so forth. It’s a voice we all have, and we cannot control it. It comes when it wants, creeping into the corners until it has you surrounded.

What I can control is whether I listen, whether I believe. But if this last few months has taught me anything it is that I am brave. I am strong, and I do believe that I can make a difference. Here on Poros I am always the best person I can be. I am always the Penny that I like and love, and she exists in Morecambe too. Here in Poros I do not need to hide from anything. I do not wear my wigs, I never bring make-up, I expose parts of my body that quite frankly are probably better covered up! But no-one cares. They see the Penny that I sometimes hide, conceal from the world for fear of rejection. And no-one criticises or turns away. They welcome and embrace me.

Yesterday I signed up for more training over the next six months and I am feeling excited and cannot wait to get started. I am reading and learning here in the sunshine. I am going to enjoy every moment but when I return I am going to embrace that Penny, and love and nurture her, help her become everything she can become. In Morecambe. Come rain or shine. Bring it on!

View of my desk