I love seeing and feeling the change of the seasons. It is an increasingly important part of my life as I feel the need to connect to the natural world. The gift of the garden at our current home is one I will always be grateful for. Never before have I had the sense that I am just one in a line of people who will get the joy of nurturing, learning and being supported by and in this space. We are visitors here, resting and restoring ourselves for a while in its grounds with a promise to also leave it feeling restored.
We arrived over 2 years ago to a dark and damp cottage, no central heating and despite the promise of a light at the end of the light switches on the wall they were curiously lacking. As the removal men deposited the last of our belongings under candle light our time here began. Inside to be fair was a challenge to live in in the early weeks but we nest well and we manage very well without the few everyday things that for most of us have become essentials such as central heating, a dishwasher and the shower. It is by no means a hardship and we feel lucky each day for the shelter and joy it provides us. Many have no such luxury and here the cottage just needs some extra love before it transforms into a beautiful home.
Outside is where we made the decision to buy this place, at the end of the garden with our backs to the woods and looking up to the house. The previous owners had built a garden which was, in our minds stunning.
We spent the first year watching what grew before we touched anything other than what is now the lawn and an area overgrown with ivy. What a great year that was. We sat out often, with a fire to keep us warm on colder nights. We listened to birds’ wings as they flew past us on the patio heading for the feeders. We cursed the moles but gave them a reprieve thanks to a thoughtful book purchase from a colleague at work. We have watched buzzards overhead, seen the Swallows arrive in the Summer and decided it is time to move inside when the owls start to hoot across the woods we reside between.
We could stay here forever but the plan is to move on so it is easier to be grateful as we know it is not forever. Spending time outside is so important to our wellbeing and connecting to the natural world. It may be a garden, it may be a local park, sitting amongst the flowers on a balcony or simply looking out of a window to watch the birds fly by. Whatever the space the connection with nature is key.
Scientific studies are supporting our awakening knowledge of this need to connect to nature, to reset our emotions and feel grounded, literally, to connect to the earth, to feel its calming rhythm, its comforting routines as we move through these challenging times. An awakening to the need to slow down and listen so you can connect and feel these changes too. If we pause for a few moments and stand outside we can feel that energy and see life bursting forth as Spring moves us into Summer or the desire to hunker down as Autumn approaches, preparing for the Winter months that follow.
The events of the last few weeks have given me an opportunity and the time to reflect and also to prepare for what I want to bring into my life with a positive lens. Setting intentions and building goals around those intentions. To start to think about what is coming next and what may be helpful for me to do to ready for that. Its time to make a plan, nothing too detailed, just a few goals to set and a few steps I can take which will help me to progress. There is an inevitability that things will change on the way and that is fine but an initial plan and somewhere to aim for helps provide some control and sets a way forward. It has also been a good opportunity to think about what may stop me moving forward and how I may deal with those curves in the road, welcoming them as an opportunity to reflect and adapt rather than looking at them as an obstacle. Easier said than done. Learning new things is tough, it takes time to form new habits but it will come. Add to that our inbuilt desire to berate ourselves on how we could do better as I compare myself to others – something I work hard not to do as it’s a dangerous and unhelpful use of my time. Being happy being me is enough, accepting I am exactly where I should be. Showing kindness to myself and others by changing my thoughts and actions from berating to celebrating.
I remember the importance of having a purpose I believe in and moving forward towards it one small step at a time. A step that is as long as I want it to be. These are my steps, no one who cares for me will judge me on the speed at which I take them or the success or failure that occurs along the way.
My initial steps into the world of setting up The Healthy Head company have been slower than I hoped, harder and scarier than I imagined they would be but, they have been some of the best steps and the most energising.
My head is healthier. Having more time and space to reconnect to what is truly at the heart of who I am, continues to be a journey I enjoy, even when it throws up something challenging that I need to face and deal with. At times I am afraid and my head is full of self-doubt, those unhelpful messages I give to myself and that fear of failure, but it is also full of ideas and permission to try new things…and to fail, learn and try again.
As uncertainty of what is to come continues, I am taking time to reflect on what I have achieved and taking time to celebrate some of those achievements. Sara Milne Rowe, an amazing executive coach and author of The Shed Method*, talks about having a “trophy cabinet filled with your proud past” and it is the best advice so I have taken time look back over the last few months and have done just that.
Taking the first step to leave my permanent role and set up The Healthy Head Company achieved my initial goal of creating space which I have spent on being properly selfish, restoring myself so I can fulfil my goals as well as having reserves of energy to share in support of family and friends.
My second goal was reducing my 4-hour daily commute, which impacted negatively on so many areas of my life. Working from home is providing an even bigger boost to my wellbeing than I could have imagined, albeit the circumstances of how this has come to pass were not part of the plan and at times the isolation is hard, I miss those real face to face discussions!
My third goal of doing more of what makes me happy has flowed from all these changes. I am now a Mental Health First Aid Instructor through Mental Health First Aid England, I run weekly meditation sessions to help quieten busy minds, (offered free of charge at present in support of surviving the impact Covid-19 is having on so many of us in lockdown). I have developed and delivered mental health workshops for Managers and have just qualified to run the half day mental health awareness training online through Mental Health First Aid England. Not bad for my first 12 months and all while working as a contractor to keep paying the bills.
Despite where we find ourselves at the moment there is still plenty to feel positive about between the moments of great sadness and disbelief of the world we currently live in.
Next for me is to plan what now, to check in on my purpose to ensure it is in service to my values and goals because I know that when those things align life flows more easily, despite the challenges we face along the way.
*Ref: The SHED Method; Making Better Choices When It Matters by Sara Milne Rowe