on starting (to write an actual book)

January 30, 2018

We have lickety-split fibre-optic broadband.

However, due to 125-year-old unfathomably thick walls, the wi-fi signal within our Old Lady house is awful. Especially in my office.

In early January, I received an almost £100 bill for my mobile data charges for the three weeks since we moved, and a lightbulb went off in my brain.

I have been looking at stuff on my phone in my office for literally hours. Clearly, there is no internet emergency that I need to keep tabs on. So what the hell have I been doing?

My mission this year is to write a book based on my research and coaching work into self-doubt. I’ve spent the last six months changing my entire business to enable me to have the time to write.

Except I haven’t actually been doing any writing. Because I have no time. Because of all the bloody scrolling.

Procrastination is an old dance for me and I know I am usually protecting myself from some perceived risk. What I also tend to do is procrastinate from looking too closely at the actual procrastination, lest I find something ‘tricky’.

I know.

Journal in hand, I wrote myself some questions to try to dig a little deeper and realised that I have been avoiding starting to write, because I am waiting…

Perhaps for some magical ‘right time’ to begin. Some genius first line of my future best-selling book (ha!). I want to get it ‘right’. I think I secretly want it to be easy and flowy and I know it won’t be. I want this to be really good. And helpful. I don’t want to let you down. Or me.

So I have been waiting for all conditions to be perfect. Meanwhile, I am not writing and that is breaking my heart.

This is EXACTLY how I felt when I discovered coaching.

It felt so right to be doing this work, but I just wanted to be in the place where it felt natural and easy. I wanted to be a good coach. Excellent, even.

Okay, honestly, I wanted to help all of my clients make some massive life-changing transformation and credit me. Oh and I wanted to be financially wealthy, and have a four-hour work week and float around on my cloud of abundant enlightenment (in a floral crown: natch).

So every time I came up against a challenge, I faltered.

It felt a bit shit to discover that much like every other creative endeavour without a script, choosing to become self-employed was really about learning how to sit in ambiguity, learn humility and realise that everything is going to unfold at its own pace (and everything would take much longer than I had optimistically predicted).

Last week I had a long chat with my dear friend Jane who is miles into her first book draft. As she described her writing practice I had a huge realisation.

I need to love the process.

I need to remember the magic of putting uncertain, partial thoughts onto the page so I can play with them. To trust that there will be moments where words, sentences, perhaps even entire paragraphs click into place. To believe I have something to offer here that is helpful and thoughtful.

While holding it all lightly and remembering there will be entire sections of the book I will spend months labouring over, that will be unceremoniously cut from the final edit.

That I just need to show up. That no one will care about this book as much as I do. And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be (it’s precisely what it feels like to be self-employed).

The morning after my conversation with Jane, I cracked open a new journal, immediately after my meditation, before I had opened any screens.

On that first day, I wrote seven whole pages by hand.

It felt SO good, and I’ve done it every day since. A whole week of rough notes and ideas and questions.

I am just playing with ideas, what I want to say, but not how to say it.

I’ve spent five hours this morning, structuring everything into a Scrivener file.

After years of stumbling alone in the dark while I was setting up my coaching practice, I know just how incredibly valuable it is to allow myself to be supported. My birthday present to myself was coaching sessions with a patient and kind book coach who believes in me and in this project.

I have a pen and some paper. The beginnings of a writing practice. Some excitement in my belly.

I have everything I need.

So I am going to string these morning pages together, one at a time.

I am going to write this book.

twenty seventeen: my top nine

December 31, 2017

According to the numerologists, 2017 is a ‘one’ year, signifying the start of a new global energetic cycle. Here’s what I’ll remember 2017 for:

Self-doubt. After years of researching and studying this fascinating phenomenon, I got super clear that the work I am here to do is to help people transcend self-doubt. I staked a claim on an attachment-based, shadow-work approach to coaching. I started a podcast. I stopped outsourcing discomfort and got to grips with money and marketing. It has been my most fulfilling year: creatively, spiritually, emotionally and financially.

I coached with the best humans. Books were published, programmes created, businesses established. Destructive friendships, relationships and marriages ended with thoughtful intention. People made sense of their beliefs, their memories, the meaning they made about their own capabilities, which led to a LOT of resignations, followed by retraining in entirely different fields, embracing creative passions, and finding the exact same job in a whole different place that felt ‘right’. Mostly there was a sense of reclaiming a quiet, resilient courage, which I think is the ultimate outcome of making peace with our self-doubt. Sara wrote so generously about what it was like to coach with me.

We became dog people. Deciding to bring Bohdi into our lives has been both more stressful and more joyous than we imagined. Watching him run along the beach with utter glee and freedom is one of my favourite memories of the year. He’s the best sidekick.

We went to couples therapy. After a decade of togetherness, we needed some new tools and approaches and ways of understanding who we are now. I’ve realised our relationship is a constantly evolving thing the requires a certain amount of daily tending in meaningful and conscious ways. Mostly for me, this is about surrendering control and certainty. So we beat on, boats against the current.

I took my health seriously. A persistent cough finally led to a doctor’s appointment, followed by a barrage of cardiac and respiratory tests. I faced some demons around my own mortality (the women in my family die young), uncovered some limitations around Western medicine, allowed myself to trust my body. I’ve been outside every day walking, breathing, playing.

I watched the beginning of the fall of the patriarchy. Before the most bigly inauguration I was convinced that Trump was necessary to wake us up. He represents a cultural projection of nostalgic fear; the last gasp of the wounded masculine. Now I believe his role is to help bring down the patriarchy, and the creation of the resistance necessitated his being so cruel, stupid and arrogant. I super-duper hope the fall happens before the nuclear war with North Korea.

I meditated almost every day. So much is born in this silence, in that peaceful conscious nothingness. As a ‘doer’ it feels revolutionary to keep learning how to be still.

I listened. I read over 30 books by women of colour. I stopped having so many opinions about things that are not my experience. I got curious about unconscious bias, unearned privilege, how we fetishise the individual and what constitutes ‘otherness’.

We came home. Ten days ago we finally moved into our new house. It will take us a while to renovate, but the sash windows, the ceiling height, the light. As the millennials say: I can’t even.

beware the well-rested woman

November 22, 2017

I spent five days last week running my annual retreat. Usually, I would be pretty much back at my desk asap, under some delusional notion that I had things to do that couldn’t possibly wait. Back in my corporate days, I would actively choose to fly into Heathrow at 6 am and go straight in […]

reclaiming bossy

September 19, 2017

Usually, there is a word. Some phrase or sentence that when uttered, has the power to leave us feeling small and powerless. Diminished. Childlike. I wonder what is it for you? For me, that word is bossy. I have a vivid memory of being eight years old and being called a ‘bossy little girl’ by […]

five ways to be online, while the world wakes up to itself

August 16, 2017

Current highlights of my Facebook feed include: A photo of a pensive looking dog. Someone apologizing for sharing an image of her (gorgeous) hairdo, after learning neo-Nazi’s were marching in Charlottesville. Someone sharing their latest e-course about mindfulness. A genius video that offers a valid explanation for Trump’s absurd rhetoric. Someone stating that if you run […]

for your aural pleasure…

July 20, 2017

This Summer, I am currently extracting no small amount of pleasure from driving my aces new car, with Bodhi the Wonderpup in the wingman seat, while listening to a juicy podcast. I’m feeling a little obsessed with the medium, as I’m preparing to launch my very own podcast! Courage & Spice is the podcast for humans […]