What makes you WANT to smile?  

 

What makes you want to smile

Sometimes, I catch myself feeling really contented or even joyful. And I realise I’m not smiling and this compounds my happiness.

Like so many people, especially women, I was raised to smile even when I was raging inside. When I was having therapy as a trainee counsellor, my therapist often commented on my propensity to smile or laugh as I recounted something that wasn’t a smiling or laughing matter.

And I remember visiting other parts of the world, especially in my 20s, and seeing unsmiling women and thinking, obviously, I had no idea about their inner experience but it appeared to be freer in some ways.

Faces just expressing whatever they wanted to express rather than the forced ‘women laughing eating salad’ smile that beams out from so many magazines and adverts.

I feel triumphant when I allow my face to do whatever my face wants to do. Even so, I smile a lot (I cry a fair bit, too).

To celebrate today being World Smile Day, you might want to ponder, when can’t you HELP smiling? When are you most likely to grin from ear to ear? To beam at the world?

And when are you faking it? When might it behove you to pause and check in with how you’re actually feeling rather than arranging your face into a pleasing countenance for the alleged benefit of others?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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Highlights from my Colchester book launch at the delightful Tree Room

Evestanding

I adore this space. Right in the heart of Colchester town yet peaceful and quiet. When I got in touch with the owner about the possibility of having a Colchester book signing  / workshop event, I liked the space so much I decided to expand my practice from Witham (where my Feel Better Every Day Consultancy is based) to offer a few slots each week in Colchester.

On Saturday, I facilitated a yoga and meditation workshop in the loveliest space I’ve ever taught in.

Evesitting

We had a little visitor before the yoga nidra segment.

Cat

Enormous thanks, Jo, for welcoming me to your spectacular space.

JoReception

love,

Eve

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This World Heart Day, you might want to ponder what makes your heart sing

  whatmakesyourheartsing3

It’s a question I ask all my new clients and it often takes a while to answer.

We’re so used to noticing what brings us down. What makes us feel as if our hearts are breaking.

But what about what makes them soar? When was the last time you noticed your heart singing? Or even lifting just a little?

How do you find answering this question? Do you immediately know and have a list of things that bring joy to your heart and to your life?

Maybe you have an inkling of what used to make you happy but it’s been such a long time, you’ve forgotten?

Take a look at your diary/planner and notice which items lift your heart and which maybe make it sink a little.

Maybe you don’t have anything planned which actually makes it SING. If not, how can you fit something joy enhancing in?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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How pain can* become a real gain

 PhysicalPain

I loved seeing Lisa Sanfilippo’s segment on Save Money, Good Health recently. She shared some of her yoga for sleep tools (I did some sleep yoga cpd with her years ago and love this gentle way of working with the mind-body connection to aid sleep without any side effects).

What astonished me was the presenter’s conclusion that asking people with insomnia to do 5 or 10 minutes’ yoga before bed was ‘a big ask’. When my insomnia was terrible (from primary school until my mid twenties), I’d have LOVED to know about yoga but it wasn’t part of my world. Instead, I felt doomed and permanently exhausted and on edge.

At the turn of the millennium, when I was in pain every day, not just a few days a month, I think I’d have wanted to punch (and me practically a pacifist!) anyone who suggested that one day I’d be grateful for the pain.

But the other day, I realised that the pain was a catalyst to my completely overhauling my life. Without it, I wouldn’t have celebrated my 13th Business Birthday this month.

Thanks to the pain, I have created a business that is sustainable throughout my energy cycles. After minor surgery, I was told I’d have to keep having surgery every couple of years until menopause (I was in my 20s) and there was no cure. Volunteering on the (then called) National Endometriosis Society helpline meant I routinely heard far worse stories than my own and I became determined to find ways to deal with it myself.

Feeling let down by the medical profession led me to yoga and quitting caffeine (apart from in chocolate) and alcohol. Cat Cow pose was better than hospital prescribed painkillers. I think modern medicine is wonderful and always recommend people see their GPs but am maybe more aware than many, because I was in so much daily pain and desperate, that there’s an awful lot we can do ourselves.

Thankfully, due to all the major and minor lifestyle changes I’ve made, I generally only have a couple of painful days each month and even they are much better than they were. I’m taking fewer painkillers than ever before and some months, don’t need any at all.

How motivated are you?

Everyone who knew me back then didn’t believe I could quit alcohol (I had drunk too much from my early teens) but, with immediate pain from my abdomen encouraging (yelling at me), I managed to find other ways to deal with my emotions. It was hard – I remember imagining myself taking myself for a walk into the depths of the woods in the snow with a giant bottle of whisky in an effort to stop feeling things. Quitting alcohol was probably the most dramatic change I made. And I needed that pain or I wouldn’t have done it.

Are your symptoms easy enough to continue living with or are you ready to try something different?

Back then, my work’s EAP meant I got some counselling to support me pre-surgery (and pre-diagnosis). I still remember the counsellor asking me what my ovaries (where I felt so much of the pain) might be trying to TELL me. I thought she had lost the plot completely but quickly realised that it was worse when I was bottling up my emotions and not saying what needed to be said. My body, in being so painful, coached me to learn to be a little (progress not perfection) more assertive and expressive.

If there’s a part of your body currently screaming for your attention in the only way it has available for communication (ie PAIN), what might it feel like to tune in? Just for a moment? What have you got to lose? No side effects (other than potential embarrassment but this is just in your imagination – no one else need ever know).

What might your symptoms be trying to tell you?

Louise Hay, who died recently, has left an amazing legacy helping the mind-body connection become more mainstream.

Her books can be a lovely starting point, a bit like a dream dictionary might give you ideas about yours but ultimately, you know yourself and your body best. Even when you’ve been ignoring it.

What clues is it giving you now?

 Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

*please note that while this was the case for me, am not by ANY stretch suggesting that everyone reframe their pain

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Happy International Day of Peace!  

 

InternationalDayofPeace

When I became a freelance journalist in 2004, I’d met many incredible peace activists and thought I’d be sharing their stories with a wider audience.

Am blushing writing this because I realise that 20-something me was imagining myself as a Christiane Amanpour type without the experience.

Still, this was the impetus behind my going freelance in 2004.

Unsurprisingly, I only got a couple of ‘peace’ pieces commissioned but, as a coach and complementary therapist (later adding other therapies), I was being commissioned to write about what I began to see as personal peace and self-care. It was better known as wellbeing.

Over the years, I’ve learned that I’m far better able to focus on the larger world when I’m OK. Otherwise, I don’t have the energy to take any kind of action in the direction of contributing to a more peaceful planet.

Even on a micro level, if I’m not well myself, I’m far crankier than usual. For example, if I then hold a door open for someone and they don’t say thank you, I’m likely to feel irritated. This then has the potential to ripple out and connect with others’ irritation and anger.

With all that’s going on in the world, it might seem futile to attempt to, as Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ and yet, as individuals, we have more impact than we sometimes realise.

Irritation and anger (rage even) have their benefits but when we’re taking good care of ourselves, we can use our emotional storms to make us stronger.

What are your warning signs that you’re contributing to angst rather than peace in the world?

What helps you take better care of yourself and those you care about?

What are your dreams for peace at a global level? If you have children and/or grandchildren, what kind of world do you want to be leaving for them?

How can you infuse more peaceful energy into your day today?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

 

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Last weekend’s library workshop in Witham

afterworkshop

Thanks again to everyone who came to my first library event for 365 Ways to Feel Better: Self-care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing and to Witham Library for hosting.

I wanted to share a taste of the tools from the book without (I know, a lot of my weirdness is there in the book) being too weird. So we started with a simple goal setting exercise moving on to some exercises that worked with the mind-body connection to boost confidence in the moment and while thinking about goals.

We also did some meditation and grounded the workshop with some crystal work. It was delightful to meet everyone.

If you’re Essex based (or near enough) and would like to find out more, I’m doing a couple of library workshops at Frinton on 16th October and a yoga and meditation workshop in Colchester on 30th September – click HERE for more information.

love,

Eve

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Happy Positive Thinking Day! (Bleugh)

 reframe

 Urgh. It’s a bit forced, isn’t it? The idea that no matter what’s going on personally and/or globally, we ‘should’ be seeing the positive.

Sometimes, it’s really important to honour however we’re feeling even if that’s saying ‘Bleugh’ to the idea of seeing the positive.

Still, in honour of the day, if you’d like to reframe something you’ve been seeing in a limited way, it’s an ideal time to play with it.

How might you feel if you think about the potential benefits behind whatever issue you’re finding challenging right now?

Maybe it’s making you stronger?

Forcing you to learn to ask for support even when that’s the last thing you want to do?

Recognising that you’re not a machine and need to say ‘no’ to some of others’ demands on your time and energy?

Even if you have to dig deep, notice the possibilities that arise as you imagine how Future You will have grown so much stronger as a result.

What problems have turned into benefits (long term) in the past?

How did you do this?

This isn’t about rushing ourselves through the bad to feel the good, just holding the possibility that something positive is trying to emerge and being open to that.

Feel free to comment below.

 love,

Eve

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What helps you notice the beauty in life’s dramas?

 innerturmoil

I left for today’s sea swim in the rain. The forecast for the coast was (a little) different but I genuinely like swimming in the rain. We’ve been spoiled by so much glorious weather this summer.

The sea was so choppy that it actually knocked my goggles away so they filled with water. Not my most restful swim. It felt like a proper workout even though I only stayed in for 20 minutes. The water was much cooler than last week but still divine.

On the way home, my soul felt happy to have had its sea swim fix (am still hoping for a couple more this year). Sitting on the train home, watching the dramatic rolling clouds over expansive fields and basking in the beauty of it all, it occurred to me that I’m much better at appreciating nature’s moods and rhythms than I (still – after all these years of doing this work) my own.

I see a thundery sky and think it’s stunning. But in my actual life, I can still get caught up in judging myself for feeling whatever turmoil I may be feeling.

I am far quicker at doing what I encourage clients to do and notice that judgment and instead ask myself what I need in that moment but still, it’s far from instant.

Which problems feel like storm clouds brewing over your life right now?

How might you see the beauty in them even as you batten down the metaphorical hatches and take whatever practical precautions you need to take?

What might help you express your needs and wants to the people around you? How can you access all the support available to you?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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Do you have TOO much empathy and compassion for others?

boundaries

 When someone hurts you, do you immediately imagine where they’re coming from and see their point of view in an effort to forgive and forget?

I was raised Catholic and when I was about 5, I had the very odd ambition of wanting to be a saint. Ideally a martyr (I blame having read waaaayyyyy too many Lives of the Saints books).

As I got older, I stopped going to Mass but hugely admired fictional characters like Atticus Finch (in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, NOT Go Set a Watchman) who turned the other cheek.

While still very pro peace, a key aspect of my work (and I was my first client) is encouraging clients and students to look after themselves first.

When people have experienced interpersonal trauma, been in any kind of minority group or have been bullied, it’s easy to automatically connect with the needs of more powerful people than your own.

But by recognising you deserve so much better, you can set healthy boundaries and maintain them even when people are taking the p.

It’s another practice (progress not perfection) but so worth doing.

Next time you notice yourself being compassionate and empathic towards someone you’re struggling with, ask yourself if you’re also being compassionate and empathic with yourself.

The more we can be whole ourselves, the more we CAN extend that compassion and empathy towards others but now it won’t be in a way that gives mixed messages or leaves us vulnerable to abuse.

Being boundaried is a practice – I have been working on it for decades and still get sudden crash courses which remind me I’m still vulnerable to getting hooked into old habits – but it’s so worth getting better at.

And now, when I get triggered, I’m a bit better at saying, ‘Thank you, Universe, for this new opportunity to practice setting and maintaining healthy boundaries’. Not immediately. I still often shame spiral wondering what I’ve done to attract the situation but not to the same degree.

Have you ever sided with a bully, abuser or oppressor over yourself?

What helps you turn your compassion and empathy spotlight back onto yourself?

 Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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