I first met Life Coach Emily Hodge when I interviewed her back in June to understand and explain what life coaching is all about. When I found out that Emily was running her first group coaching course in July called How to Lead a Gentle Life I knew I had to join in! Considering the vast majority of what I’ve been writing about since starting this blog in September 2016 has been on slowing down and becoming more mindful, the course really called out to me. And I’m super-glad I decided to do it!
So here’s a very public reflection of what the last 4 weeks have looked like for me, personally and ‘behind the scenes’, while I threw myself into Emily’s coaching course, together with another 9 amazing women.
At the very start of the course, we were asked to create a vision board for our gentle life. Now, I’ve seen some amazing vision boards online – both on Pinterest but also made with cut out’s from newspapers and magazines. And I sat there for a while thinking: “Ah, I don’t have any magazines at home, and I’m rubbish at Pinterest, so woe is me. This is never going to happen!” The next day I gave myself a virtual slap and snapped out of it. I got a big piece of paper, got my sons’ colouring pens out, and instead of having images, I used words and quotes that called out to me.
It probably doesn’t tick all the boxes of your traditional vision board. And it’s certainly not a work of art! But it works for me – it felt right. And the more I explored it in the following weeks, the more I loved it! With Emily’s help, I was able to pull out three clear, small-enough goals for me to start working on. Unsurprisingly, the wish to slow my life down clearly stood out on my vision board. But interestingly, other things started to emerge. It was almost as if slower living was just a tiny part of a much bigger plan. And something that could only work if a lot of other things were at play too.
And bingo. In week 1 I made an unexpected discovery. Yes, I have taken steps to slow myself down, but what I hadn’t realised yet is that I’m not very good with time management. A big part of my rushing is self-inflicted. I get up in the morning at the very last minute. And then I effectively procrastinate.
It was really quite hard to admit this, you know? I didn’t like it. But I do procrastinate. I’ll end up on social media or doing bits around the house that don’t really need doing at that point in time. Which then leads us to rush out of the house for the school run like a bunch of total loonies. But you can’t do much about something that you don’t know, right? So I had to go back to my own advice and address this a lot more consciously.
Week 2 was all about self-talk. When you start to pay attention to your own patterns of self-talk, your self-awareness goes up another notch. Now, did you notice some of my self-talk earlier on? Like, for example, the fact that my first reaction to everything is to see obstacles? To think that I can’t? Or to think that something isn’t really possible for me to do or achieve?
When I noticed this, it took me right back to the phase in labour and birth called ‘transition’. Your baby is effectively ready to be born, and there’s a switch in the hormones guiding the process from that point on. I’m told women say the most random things during the transition phase. And guess what my thing always was? “I can’t do this!”. But it turns out that I can. I totally can. I gave birth to my third son at home and with no pain relief (out of choice) because I knew I could. And I’ve made a lot of other things possible for me before and after that as well. So why is my first reaction to always say that I can’t?
How about I start to rephrase this and ‘open myself to the possibilities’? How about I stretch my vision a little further and start to look straight past the obstacles? It was easily done when I stopped myself from thinking that I couldn’t possibly have my own desk at home. But when I allowed myself to think that I could, I found a home office space really easily!
In week 3 we looked at self-care, and this really cemented a thought that’s been going round in my mind for months. Over time, and certainly since becoming a mum, I’ve been looking at self-care all wrong. “Go and have a relaxing spa day with your friends!” or “Join a gym”, they’d say. And it’s not like I wouldn’t love a spa day (the gym, however…), but having a big, special treat here and there isn’t really going to cut it for me.
I’m an introvert, and self-care for me means taking small, frequent breaks from the hustle and bustle. From the rush of the activities. And from responsibility. I need small mini-breaks in my day to reduce the ‘mental load’ that comes from being a busy mum of 3! Self-care isn’t a whole-day silence retreat (although of course that would be lovely!) But it can be a lot simpler – and cheaper, in fact. And if you’re wondering what I mean by little things that you can do every day for yourself, at little to no cost and often without even having to leave the house, I can send you a 30-day self-care challenge I put together. You never know, it may give you some inspiration.
Following week 4 and a great 1-2-1 coaching call with Emily, I know I still have some work to do. I have some more changes to implement, but I feel like I’m definitely on the right path to achieve the gentle life I long for, according to my own definition. Before joining the course, my focus was mainly on slowing down, but now I know I’m looking at other aspects of my life too. And I wouldn’t be here without Emily and this course. So if you’re considering joining the next intake to find out what leading a gentle life means to you Emily is running the course again in October 2017, and I can totally recommend it!
Time for you
And last but not least, if you’re a woman who’d like to take an afternoon out for yourself and dig a little deeper into your own relationship with self-care, you can join myself and Life Coach Corinne Worsley for our very first event called Time For You. Be well, be true, be you on Sunday 1st October in London. Spaces are limited to 20 people and filling up already, so if you would like to find out a little more about the event or book your ticket, you can get in touch or head over to our Eventbrite page.
What do you think ‘leading a gentle life’ means to you? Would you be interested in using life coaching exercises to dig a little deeper into your current behaviours and beliefs and move forward in a way that serves you and your life better?