This beautifully kind, wise and compassionate book has been a wonderful reminder of the parent I aspire to become. It goes without saying, of course, that I am not a perfect parent. Who is? The joy of this book is that it does not set out to achieve perfection (which would only set you up for failure), nor does it reprimand you for mistakes made in the past. It gently encourages you to explore your words, actions and the examples you set to your child, observing how they might affect your child(ren), how they affected you when you were a child and the possible long term effects on your relationship with your child.
It’s not about how many times you mess up, lose your rag and end up crying in a corner (with at least one child screaming on the floor at the same time). It’s about accepting that these things happen, putting actions in to place to minimise them (ie recognising your own limits and how to manage them), and ‘repairing the rupture’ by being compassionate with yourself and authentic in your restorative actions.
It has great examples and case studies of where parents have struggled with their child(ren), even to the point of wanting to leave the family unit, and offers tender, considerate and often humorous responses to the challenges we all face in our parenting (and indeed all) relationships in our lives.
It ties in perfectly with the La Leche League philosophy of ‘loving guidance’, which is one of the many reasons I kept going back to La Leche League. I knew I wanted to follow the gentle parenting path, I think even before I became pregnant, and it was demonstrated so admirably by the mums present at the meetings.
It reminded me that loving guidance is a long term investment (it also has short term benefits too), that patience is a virtue (no one has taught me more about being patient than my son), and that if you’re not looking back at your life and cringing at certain moments, you’re not learning and growing as a person, parent and human being.
I had a wander around the Winter Gardens in Sheffield the other day, a stunning feat of architecture with huge timber beams soaring cathedral-like towards the heavens.
Inside is housed a collection of plants often found in temperate climates and sections devoted to Australasia, including a tea tree. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the flesh before so I was delighted!
Tea Tree is one of the most commonly used essential oils as it has great antibacterial, anti-infectious and anti-fungal properties, to name just a few. It appears in many different products from skin cleansers to natural toilet cleaners. According to Tisserand, it is also an emotional tonic for lethargy, anxiety and depression. It is often known as the bottle brush tree due to the formation of the needles, as you can see below.
There were also some great examples of New Zealand’s Norfolk Island Pines, which have been around since the Jurassic period.
As far as I’m aware, these pines aren’t used in aromatherapy. I dare say they are used medicinally in some way in their native home though. Other plants I found that are harvested for their healing properties were eucalyptus, aloes, jasmine and the olive pictured above.
A selection of Aloes
There was also some beautiful colours dotted around, although I don’t know the name of those plants as there’s no essential oils produced from them! The Winter Gardens are well worth a visit, I’ll definitely be hanging around in there again soon.
This is a personal one for me, I’m not one for wearing my heart on my sleeve or being in the spotlight but I’ve felt the need to reflect on and share where I’ve been, how far I’ve come and how I want to shape the future for myself and my beloved son.
2.5 years ago I left my husband after our marriage exploded and left me in a heap on the floor (literally). There had been a few rumbles leading up to the explosion, but nothing could have prepared me for the destruction and devastation of that day, or the waves of shite that kept breaking over me and swiping my feet from under me, again and again in the months that followed.
When I got married, I had a house’s worth of savings in the bank. By the time I left, I had incurred more debt than I’ve ever had in my life, and ever will have again. Debt that did not benefit me or my son and yet was in my name. There were other issues during the fall out that caused deep distress and led to ill health, both physical and mental.
I have long been ashamed by the debt and the circumstances that lead to the state I found myself in. This, and the inevitable grief of a relationship ending, led to a period of depression. But as the great Brené Brown says ‘Shame can not survive being spoken. It cannot survive empathy’. Which is why I wanted to talk/write about my situation, to shine light into the darkness, for myself and maybe others too.
When I look back on that time in my life, I see a woman who had been trodden down, rolled around in the mud on the floor and expected to be happy down there. I didn’t see it coming, or realised it was happening until I stepped away. And even then it took a while to see just how much I’d been in denial. If I just did this, or that, then everything would be better. It wasn’t better. Not for me anyway.
I am supremely fortunate, and eternally grateful, to have a wonderful mum who took me in (and my son, who was 2.5 at the time) and has supported me in so many ways over the last few years as I have rebuilt my life, piece by piece. I have amazing sisters who have provided loving shoulders to cry on and fabulous friends who have mopped my many tears.
I felt compelled to write this post as there are two significant events that have marked the end of the troubled times and the start of new, exciting and enriching times. The first is the end of my counselling sessions*, that I’ve had on and off for the last 2 years. I highly recommend being brave and digging around your life with the guidance of an experienced, qualified and compassionate counsellor or psychotherapist. It has helped me to grieve, stand up for myself, see situations from a different angle, be more resilient and confident in my ability to handle whatever life throws at me.
The second event is that I will very soon be getting the keys to my own house. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this, and what an impact it will make on myself and my son. I’m also anxious about it, as it is a huge responsibility for one person. I’ve no doubt it will be challenging and stretch me in unfamiliar ways but I also know that I’m up for the challenge and can’t wait to have my own space. A home to put my own stamp on and express myself in creating a warm, welcoming and comfortable interior, and a relaxing, healing garden.
I can see a path of where I want my career to take me, and the people I will help as a product of that. I have ambition again, fire in my belly that I’ve not had for a long time. I can see my son and I building a wonderful home together and making lots of mess along the way. I can see myself going on dating sites/apps for the first time in my life. That’s a very scary thought, but you don’t get to feeling brave without feeling scared first.
Thank you to everyone who has been there for me in the last few years. Thank you to everyone who has offered a helping hand or a spare piece of furniture for my new home. It has been the worst of times, and the best of times. To quote Hannah Gadsby, “There’s nothing stronger than a woman who has rebuilt herself”. Here’s to the ones who have rebuilt themselves 💪.
What do pole dancing, writing, Argentine tango and singing (shouting) all have in common? They are all things I do to help me vent, distract myself, escape the inside of my head and generally keep me sane.
I have been pole dancing on and off for 6 years now and it’s a fantastic way to strengthen and push my body physically. I was hooked by the second class I went to when I’d improved vastly from the week before. It took me a week to recover from the first class though! I feel strong and confident when I master a new trick and for some reason I like the feeling the day after a class when I’m stiff and achy, perhaps because it’s satisfying to know I’ve worked my body.
Writing down my feelings helps me to process them and work through whatever is going on in my world. I express my inner most thoughts in a safe place that I don’t have to share with anyone, unless I want to.If I want to share, I write letters (emails) when I have scrawled through the fury and got to the point where I can make sense of what I’m feeling and how to communicate that in a way that hopefully isn’t confrontational. I’ve kept a diary at various times since I was a teenager, mostly when I’m depressed and angry (I’m too busy enjoying myself when I’m happy). It has helped me through teenage angst, grief and most recently a traumatic divorce.
Argentine tango is a new form of alternative therapy for me, having started taking classes a few weeks before Christmas. I have danced modern jive for well over a decade, my first class being just before I launched my clinic, Peak Wellbeing, in 2007.At that time, it was the only two hours of the week I wasn’t in charge, and it was wonderful to be lead around the dance floor and legitimately blame someone else when I got it wrong! Argentine tango is quite a different kettle of fish, but still requires me to empty my head of all other busyness and tune in to my partner and the music. I’m finding it very technical and am getting used to the increased level of intimacy, but I am enjoying the challenge and am looking forward to it flowing effortlessly.
Singing is also relatively new for me, having had a course of lessons in spring last year.I was told at primary school I couldn’t sing and am naturally a quiet person so to be heard in a new way (even if it was just by my teacher) was daunting. I loved learning how to shape my mouth to hit the notes and turn the volume up. I’ve no plans to sing in public and I’m never gonna be Nina Simone but it’s fun to practice in the car on my own or with my son.
I included shouting in brackets because sometimes, when I’m really, really angry, I shout in my car as loud as I can.It can be an aggressive ‘aaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!’, or yelling along to a song, or roaring an imaginary conversation (including obscenities!) to whoever has riled me. I find it’s a fab way to disperse my rage and makes me laugh at myself too. You can’t be angry when you’re laughing 😂.
And I nearly forgot, which is appalling behaviour for an aromatherapist, that I also love to have an aromatherapy massage! If I could I’d have at least one a week as it’s so soothing and relaxing. The oils are tailored to my needs in that moment and work on multiple levels, the massage relieves aches, pains and stress and reconnects me with my body. I am still surprised when I feel which parts of my body are holding tension, and occasionally by which areas aren’t!
I’ve shared the ways I look after my mental, emotional and physical health. I know others find running, gardening and/or cooking helps calm their mind and bring balance to their life. What do you do? What can you add to this list?