This post was first shared with the Thoughtful Coaches Insider community.
So I went to Italy. To Jane’s Loving Kindness Retreat.
And I honestly thought I would get so much work done. At the very least, writing my new course and planning out the rest of the year. Oh I had such high hopes for myself!
But then Tuscany happened.
In particular, a moment during the first yoga practice while doing hip openers on the floor of a several-hundred-year-old wine cellar. It turns out that I did not have a relationship with my pelvis.
But once this cracked open a teeny bit, lots of stuff flooded out. Somewhat literally, as I lay there weeping on the floor, slightly embarrassed and incapable of stopping.
I cried every day for nine days. Often for no reason but the sheer beauty unfolding around me. And quite possibly the gelato.
It felt good to cry! And to laugh. We laughed A LOT. It was easy. Joyful. I want more.
After years of virtual connection, it was a complete gift to hang out with Jane who is a freakin’ divine light.
I have come home changed. Though I am not sure how exactly. It felt like something has been opened up in me, and lots of disparate parts have started to integrate.
I am wary of making big decisions during post-holiday euphoria, but I am also sensing that some shifts are impending.
I know I want to stop feeling so busy, I want to have more fun outside of work. I want more in-person connection, more writing (two posts in two weeks, I KNOW). I want to delegate more and ask for help. I want to feel more free and joyous in my work.
has wants to give.
It has been seven years since I started this business. I love the somewhat mystical theories around seven-year shifts and I wonder if this is also contributing to my restlessness?
And just to go Full Oprah on you one thing I know for sure, is that mostly as adults, and particularly as self-employed folks, we have nothing but choices open to us. There are very few ‘rules’ we need to follow (GDPR notwithstanding ;)) and when it is all up to us, we can often interpret that freedom as chaos. I know I attempt to create certainty all the time, to feel safe and in control.
One of the many lessons I learned from Jane, is how much power there is in not minding what happens.
‘I don’t mind what happens’ might be the secret to everything. I have been practising this for days (during flight delays and the oxymoronic “Easyjet” process, Bohdi rolling in something disgusting every day since I’ve been home, and yesterday I posted my mobile phone with the mail into a post box. I know).
I’m convinced there is something in this idea of loving detachment; of not holding on to tight to expectations, of trusting myself to deal with the outcomes.
So instead of my usual tendency to decide on the objective and work backwards with a nice colour coded plan, I am going to start by intentionally creating more of what I want right now and seeing what happens.
How do you know when you are ready for something to change? How do you go about making changes? Is all that choice more like freedom or more like chaos to you? What might help you embrace the inevitable uncertainty?
Psst: This article was originally shared with my email community in February 2018. I’m sharing it with you on the blog today in the hope that it may be of some encouragement and insight to you in your creative journey right now, and also give you a little sneak peak of what you can expect from Weekly Letters too. If you’d like to receive letters like this one straight to your inbox every Sunday, you can sign up below. You’ll also have access to all of my Mini Books too!
Psst: This article was originally shared with my email community in February 2018. I’m sharing it with you on the blog today in the hope that it may be of some encouragement and insight to you in your creative journey right now, and also give you a little sneak peak of what you can expect from Weekly Letters too. If you’d like to receive letters like this one straight to your inbox every Sunday, you can sign up below. You’ll also have access to all of my Mini Books too!SaveSave
From this dusty chair in the courtyard next to the restaurant, all I can hear are birds chattering and the occasional shouts of hotel staff preparing tonight’s supper.
I have come to Tuscany in the heat of early Summer with the specific intention of ‘risking being disturbed and changed’. Basically, I’m knackered. I have spent the last half a dozen years creating a beautiful business that I am so proud of, that I love, that is my favourite, most fulfilling thing. And I have no off-switch.
The not so comfortable thing is recognising that I have a pretty entrenched belief that my value as a human, is in my work.
This is a big hairy belief, inherited from my proud working-class parents and perpetuated through years of needing to constantly prove myself because external praise has always made me feel safe.
This means I will walk Bohdi each day because he needs exercise, I am not so kind to myself. And I don’t tend to listen to my body’s need for rest. Also: I am not very good at play, I am not really a joiner, am firmly in Hitchens camp when it comes to team sports, and I resist committing to public classes involving creativity or music. Especially if there is a high chance of glitter usage.
It wasn’t until Jac (who sees through my bullshit in the most loving of ways) suggested that maybe I consider what a Rest Ethic might look like.
Not ‘horizontal in front of Netflix covered in Dorito dust’, but my version of rest – something that would allow some spaciousness and freedom between bouts of writing and coaching.
So here I am in Tuscany resting and moving my body at my dear friend Jane’s loving kindness yoga retreat.
Jane has been a yoga teacher for almost 30 years and couldn’t be less interested in the beauty-body-youth-obsessed culture, that has always put me off developing a yoga practice.
Each morning we spend two hours gently stretching, meditating and learning about the philosophy of yoga. Yesterday we practised in a 500-year old wine cellar, this morning we were in an olive grove. We are staying at the only woman-owned and run vineyard in Italy. We eat at an enormous table, the food is made by people who love food and who love taking care of people. Each sitting contains several courses, it all goes on for hours. There is time for us retreaters to get to know each other, to let our conversations flow, to let people unfold themselves.
Essentially, Jane is gifted. This is as idyllic as it sounds.
My mind constantly wanders to all the writing I thought I would get done (nb: not one word written), I think about the new programme I am shaping and forming, I worry about Bohdi at doggy daycare and if he is ok. I miss Ash.
Actually being HERE is a whole other thing.
I arrived four days ago and I am starting to slow down, to let my heart open and allow Mama Italy scoop me up in her warm arms.
I’m leaving my phone switched off, setting aside specific times to check in on work, to respond to urgent emails, to allow myself time to meditate in the mornings and evenings, to nap, to swim, to eat.
I’m practising deep presence to Jane’s teachings, to be in my body and all its humbling glory.
I’m noticing that when I allow myself to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’ it is so much easier to be loving and kind to myself.
I’m noticing there is not a hell of a lot for me to do here. Stretch, eat, nap, repeat.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
~ John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us