The Wildness…

Those of you who have faithfully followed What Penny Did Next know that over the last couple of years I have experienced a significant spiritual shift, marked by several major insights, usually involving a sharp intake of breath and some tears.

You may also have noticed that of late I have been quieter than usual, with my blogs becoming less frequent and somewhat shorter in length.

I think I am ready to share why. Settle in, this is a longer one!

It has been a challenging few months. A time of ill health, with constant infections and a bad fall which laid me out for a couple of months. But as always, I think that these challenges were presented to me by the Universe for a reason. It was time for some reflection on the meaning of life!

If only it was this simple…

This time out brought on another insight. But rather than the sharp intensity of a moment of recognition, this insight has been like riding a wave across a turbulent sea.

It is 5 years now, since I was gifted the opportunity to rediscover myself and start the process of creating a new, less stressful, and better, life. Its been quite a ride. Our relocation to Morecambe was both incredible and inevitable. Both of us feel that we are exactly where we need to be and have a sense of belonging that we have never felt anywhere else. Last summer we welcomed friends and family to The Corner House and celebrated our first year here, and 10 years of marriage, in the sunshine outside our new home.

And then we sat back, to start getting on with our lives.

It was time for me to sculpt my new life, both personally and professionally. I spent time studying, reading, networking and all the other things that small business owners need to do. New opportunities presented themselves. But I felt a little displaced. As if there was something just over my left shoulder that I needed to pay attention to, but couldn’t quite see, or get a hold on.

My poor physical health left me feeling vulnerable and although not depressed, sad and a little lost. There were financial challenges too, and they are always unsettling.

Christmas came and went. It was gentle and quiet. Then it was January.

To be honest, my natural inclination is to hibernate in January and February! Conserve energy, sleep, wait for the spring flowers to poke through the cold soil. I was intensely irritated by all the New Year New You crap on social media. All the endless energy of people flogging the latest nutrition plan, or exercise routine. Pledging to be a better person, lose weight, making resolutions to do things that they should be doing anyway. Boy, was I ever in a blue funk! The wave I was riding threatened to drown me.

I had an idea. I created a Facebook group called Find your Fabulous in February. I wanted to help people feel better, have some fun, step into Spring early. It wasn’t about me, although I admit it was also a way to promote my businesses.

It was amazing. We created a tribe. My wave picked up momentum and rose gently with the tide. There were a few wobbles and the wave dipped but the collective positivity soon had me back in balance and kept me moving forward.

Suddenly I knew what was hovering over my left shoulder.

Thanks for sticking with me this far. Here is the point of this blog.

I was feeling disconnected from myself.

Exploring that feeling further I realised that there are only two places where I ALWAYS feel like the Penny that I want, need and deserve to be. The Penny that is totally, authentically and undeniably who she is meant to be. Who is totally at home in her own skin. Who does not care what people think about her as long she knows that she is the kindest, most loving person she can be to everyone she meets. Who does not judge anyone. Nor expects to be judged.

The first place is my Greek home, in Poros. I have always felt different from the moment I step off the ferry onto the soil of this place that I love. Even when I was there with someone who judged me for just breathing, I always felt more peaceful, more in touch with my soul and that has never changed.

The second place, and slightly surprising, is at CarFest, the annual festival organized by Chris Evans. From our first visit in 2012 until last year in July. There is something about the anonymity of being in a field with thousands of other people simply enjoying the moment that frees you from conformity and allows you to be anything you want.

In both these places I allow my wildness to surface and run free.

Why does my wildness stay concealed for the rest of the time? It’s fear. Fear that I will be judged. As a person, a business owner, a fat woman, with terrible thin hair and a bald patch, a type 2 diabetic, a 60-year-old…you name it, I am afraid. Terrified of being judged.

In my heart I know that none of those things make me, me. I am a good, kind and loving, empathic person who wants to help people and needs to make a living. I discovered something 2 years ago that changed my life and I want to share that because I know it is true and can help other people. Its why I chose coaching.

I made a decision. I am letting her out. She is going to step out bravely and share what she knows, honestly. Without fear of judgement. Speaking her truth. Starting on Sunday when I am giving a talk at an event.

She is going to stand up and stand out. In bright colours and her trademark red lipstick!

Something else. A couple of people shared with me a little of how they see Penny. It was surprising. Perhaps we all need to see how other people see us. It is very enlightening.

The final realisation came when I heard this song last week. I have heard it before but as so often happens with music, this popped up and resonated so strongly with my thinking it almost broke me. There were tears. It reminded me of being young, with everything ahead of me, and there was so much hope. On Friday night, on Monday morning, every day, every journey brought the promise of something amazing. Just because I am 60 does not mean that I am giving up hope. There is always a road leading somewhere wonderful. Or a wave to ride to the beach.

I just need to let the Wildness have its way.

Make your mark…

 

vote

I am sitting in my living room on my laptop on a damp, miserable Thursday morning. There are limp England flags plastered to the walls of houses down my street, looking rather dismal despite our success so far in the Euros. My dogs are miserable and damp, and quite frankly I could live without the odour of wet Labrador while I write. Across the country people are visiting their polling stations, voting on whether or not the UK should remain within the EU or strike out on its own and leave.

In the last week I have been pilloried by people from both sides of the argument when I dared to publically state on Facebook that I was struggling to decide how I would vote. I was looking for more input to make up my mind, and as I value the opinions of my friends and family it seemed a sensible thing to do. Find out what they were thinking, browse more facts and figures, share some questions. This little exercise has resulted in a culling of my Facebook “friends” since I do believe in free speech and I believe that everyone has a right to an opinion. What they don’t have a right to do is to privately and publicly attack me on Social Media, I can choose not to be “friends” any more, so I exercised my right to eject them from my life! Felt quite liberating too!

However, some of my other friend’s comments did lead me to me questioning some long held beliefs that I have held. Asking myself what I meant by one of two sweeping statements I have made during the long months of campaigning. I have wrestled with my conscience and thought long and hard about the pros and cons of MY vote, from MY point of view.

I went through a stage of thinking that I would not even go and vote because I was simply unable to choose. But then I thought about how hard we fought for the right to vote, and how there are still places in the world where women are fighting to have a voice, and I realized that not voting was not an option.

I did not actually 100% make up my mind until I was there, standing in the booth with the voting paper in my hand. I looked at it, in black and white, and listened to my heart and my head before placing my cross in one box, posting it in the ballot box and heading back out into the rain.

It was actually a huge relief that, for me at least, it was done.

So much rhetoric, and warnings of dire consequences whichever way we voted, and the truth is NOBODY actually knows what will definitely happen, and whatever the result, we will never really know how it would have turned out if the vote had gone the other way!

I am not going to share which way I eventually voted. It’s between me and my conscience. No one else’s business, and whichever way it goes we will simply cope with the circumstances like we always do, and always have done.

Life goes on. My family and friends love me. The rain is still raining. The sun will shine again. (Actually as I proof-read this, the sun burst into my living room through the window!) People will continue to post cute pictures of puppies and kittens on Facebook, and tweet meaningless….erm I mean meaningful things on Twitter in 140 words or less, the world will continue to spin on its axis.

I have realized this week that whatever I am “going through” and sharing in my blog, it is nothing compared to some people. Trying to get my head around a lack of self-esteem, a struggle with my health and weight, learning to deal with my “issues” is a very small thing. There are people out there struggling with so much worse. I am really working on “living in the moment”, appreciating every small thing in my life that is good, and there is a lot! And those things will not be affected by a vote on whether to remain in the EU or not. They are the important things and will transcend whatever economic reality we find ourselves in.

Appreciate the good stuff! But don’t forget to vote!

Here are my damp, and smelly, dogs, Barney and Ben 🙂

dogs voting