Opportunities aplenty

At some point during my recovery from burnout, I figured out that I needed a different job. I needed to find flow and to align my work with my strengths and talents. It’s so easy to put the words together but so hard to implement. It’s not easy to figure out what it is that you’re passionate about, especially when your brain is buckling with stress.

I knew that I could not return to the work that contributed to the burnout. It’s also hard to know what to do next when you’ve been a business owner and managing director. It’s hard to go backwards ten years into corporate middle management or to your original trade. I always try to go forwards but I can tell you that it was very hard to figure out the road ahead after burnout.

I spent a long time just letting myself recover and dabbling with things that brought me joy. I did a lot of creative things initially. I drew, I did mosaic and decoupage, knitting and crochet. I tried to ignite a passion that could point me in the right direction. I did a lot of journaling to understand what had happened to me and to express the emotions at the time: confusion, fear, anger.

I started this blog to express my feelings and to share with others what it’s like to be on this recovery journey from burnout. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I gained energy from writing at a time when I was desperately depleted by everything else. I finally found flow in something that could lead me towards a new career.

I went on a writing course to polish my writing skills and I think to earn the right to call myself a writer. I learnt on this course that it’s pretty much hopeless to expect to make a living from writing. Many writers get 8 – 10% of the retail price of their books and the chances of selling millions of copies are very low. Even knowing all of this, I felt that writing could lead me towards a better future and I did not know what else to do.

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I attend many personal growth seminars and workshops. I seek guidance from spiritual healers and teachers. All of them confirmed that I’m on the right path and that writing is an important part of my future. I felt it in my gut that this is the thing I should be doing. So I persisted. I wrote the book and published it. My book launch about two weeks ago felt like a great milestone, a foundation on which I can build my future.

Many skeptics since have told me not to bank on becoming rich from my books or my writing. And that’s okay. I have my own inner knowing that I’m on the right path for me. I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know where I’ll be in five years’ time. All I focus on is the next step. For me right now, my next step is the deck of cards aligned to my book. I don’t know how I’m going to get it mass produced and into the world but I have every confidence that I can figure it out.

I also joined Toastmasters and polished my speaking skills in the past year. I’ve spoken at a few events and enjoyed it tremendously. It’s a chance for me to spread my message about living a full and happy life and not letting stress get in the way. I’ve received so much advice about what to do next, what not to do and I remain focused on my inner compass. Just doing the next thing.

In the past few months, I’ve met so many interesting people who have helped me to spread my message. Many have connected me with others who help me to find speaking engagements or more readers for my book. I’ve joined a networking organisation that has been so welcoming. November was a bumper month for book sales and I’m constantly amazed by the sources of these customers.

I’ve put together some great speeches about living your best life possible, workshops on my seven principles of self-preservation. Next year I want to do podcasts, webinars, an audio book and so much more. I’m so excited about all the great things in store for me. Work doesn’t feel like work. I don’t need a holiday because I love what I do so much. Some days I struggle to believe that this is really my life now and how incredibly lucky I am to do the work I do.

opportunites

People have approached me with opportunities that have come completely out of the blue. I keep thinking about the skeptics and those who insist I create a five year vision. The path I’m on is something very hard to explain to others. I’m listening to my inner voice. I’m open to receiving opportunities from unknown sources. And I’m constantly surprised and excited about where this adventure is leading me.

If you are too scared to follow your dreams because you cannot understand how it’s going to happen, I want you to think about what I’ve written in this post. We cannot know the how, all we are in control of is being open to what comes next and to trust in your own wisdom. You know what you are good at, passionate about and interested in. It’s entirely possible to make money out of your passion in ways that you haven’t begun to imagine.

Learning to receive love and support

This week I had my book launch for my first book: Avoiding Burnout. Writing a book has been a dream for most of my life and it felt surreal to be standing in front of a group of people talking about my book. It has been a long and difficult path to get to this point. Of course I’m not talking about the writing because that’s the fun part. I’m talking about the experience of burnout and understanding how I got sick and how to recover.

Receive

I attend many personal growth workshops and I read a lot about happiness and resilience. On many occasions I’ve received the feedback that I struggle to receive. Receiving love, money, help and support. I spent most of my life feeling unsupported. And I stood there on Thursday night looking at all these faces of people who had come to support me and to celebrate the launch of this new book and along with it, my new life and career. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude.

It still feels a little like a dream that I’ve actually been allowed (by myself) to pursue this passion and to embark on this new career. Before I got sick I was so hard on myself and I would  never have allowed myself to indulge in this creative nonsense. Not when there are bills to pay and responsibilities to fulfill. Life can feel really heavy with thinking like that. I feel so much lighter in the knowledge that following my passion is what I’m supposed to be doing. And in so doing, I provide an example to others to do the same. I also act as a role model for my children, showing them that doing what makes you happy is not only allowed, it is essential.

The days leading up to my launch were difficult. We had the largest water outage in our area in history and we had no water supply to our home for several days. The dishes and laundry were piling up which makes me edgy and we were not able to shower or bath. The kids thought it was great fun to swim instead of bathing but I was not comfortable. Coupled with the preparation for the launch, I was feeling stressed.

My last blog post was about my eight-year-old daughter and her difficulties at school. She has been desperately unhappy and oppressed in the classroom, her creativity squashed and her spirit dampened. We were hoping she could hang in there for a few weeks before the school year is up, but just before the launch things deteriorated. Worrying about her kept me up at night and I was feeling really fragile on the day of the launch.

I felt stressed pushing to get the launch done while worrying about how to best help my child. We have decided to abandon the last two weeks of school which is quite uncharacteristic of our family. We don’t give up, we suffer through. But this experience of burnout has taught me some major lessons and it feeds into our family culture. No longer will we suffer and be bullied. We are fighting for our happiness and we stand by each other. This family has endured a great deal in the past few years with my illness. Now is our time to stand in the sun.

Receive

I had my moment at the launch, to receive love and support from so many people. I was completely overwhelmed with all the messages before and after the event. It really feels incredible to let yourself receive and I’m going to open myself up to more of it. My children and husband also deserve to experience some joy and fun after several years of struggle and suffering. It makes a family very strong to endure difficulties. On the other side of burnout we hold hands and proceed towards a happy future together.

Just how much should you help your children?

My eight-year-old daughter is very unhappy at her school and she has been experiencing high levels of stress in the past few months. We have managed to get her into a new school from next year and she’s excited to move. She is dealing with a lot of feelings at the moment in this struggle: anxiety and sadness about leaving her school and friends, coupled with the disappointment that her school didn’t meet her needs.

struggle

I am doing my best to provide her with methods of reducing stress and increasing happiness. I learnt a great deal during my experience of burnout, so much that I wrote a book about it. I’ve realized through this period in our lives that I need to share my lessons with my family. I’m teaching both my girls a regular gratitude practice that we do on the way home from school every day. I have taught my eldest breathing exercises to do when she’s feeling overwhelmed in the classroom.

There’s not much more I can do for her in these last few weeks of the school year. I don’t like the concept of crossing days off the calendar because it seems like we are wishing time away and I like to promote being in the moment. However, I’ve started crossing off the calendar to provide her with a visual cue of just how little time is left. I’m hoping it offers her hope that the end of her struggle is near.

I’ve also spoken to her about how struggle makes us stronger. I’ve talked to her about the concept of God giving her this struggle as a way to prepare for bigger struggles later in life. It is my belief that our children choose us and that we are all here to learn lessons. I believe that she chose us as her parents for a reason. When I saw how stress was affecting her health, I immediately began to help her every way I know how. This is what I can offer her.

But how much must I help her and how much is she meant to struggle through on her own? As a parent we want to remove pain and suffering. I’ve felt tempted to pull her out of school altogether. But perhaps she is learning how to persevere through hardships and I don’t want to take that away from her. The trouble is that she is really unhappy and it shows even in her body language. All weekend she is happy and bouncy and on Monday morning her shoulders slump and she’s tearful at the drop off.

It’s one of the hardest things to do as a parent to watch your child suffer. I really feel for parents who are enduring such difficulties as drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, depression and self-harm. We want our children to make their own decisions and to learn how to cope with life’s challenges. But we also want to save them from pain. Sometimes we can take away the lessons in taking away the suffering.

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I’m finding it very hard to help her because I’m not in the classroom and I can’t be there to comfort her and reassure her when she’s drowning. The frustrating part is that she is doing so well academically and doesn’t seem to realize it. How do I get across to her that this too shall pass and that being perfect is an illusion? I have an inkling of where this perfectionism comes from and I know that children don’t do what you say but rather what you do. I thought I’ve come a long way in the past few years as I changed my life for the better. But perhaps she’s still seeing my desire to achieve and my frustration of how stress affects my output.

Parenting becomes so much more complex the older a child gets. It pushes us to evolve and to find better ways to model good behaviors. I don’t have the answers about how much we intervene to  mitigate the pain and how much we wait to see how they grow from struggle. It’s a fine balance to provide enough support and encouragement and to allow them to grow as people. I’m not sure I’m getting it right but I’m doing everything I can do to help her through this difficult patch.

What to do when Stress is Engulfing you

I’m no stranger to stress and you’ll know all about my burnout if you’re a regular reader of my blog. Lately I’ve been under a great deal of stress and I’m really feeling the effects of it. I’m feeling that same fatigue I felt when I was really sick. I’m not sleeping well and I’m waking up feeling so awful that I’m nauseous. In the past few days I’ve been so stressed and anxious that I’m finding it hard to enjoy anything.

When I lack sleep, it has an inflammatory effect on my autoimmune thyroid disease. That means I feel more fatigued. I am also irritable and can’t be as patient with my children. I then beat myself up about being a bad mother and a horrible person to be around and it spirals even more. I worry that I’m slipping backwards into poor health, leading to reduced income and inability to function in everyday life.

stressI’ve also been feeling unsettled in that I’ve written this book, Avoiding Burnout, to guide people towards living a life of joy. And here I am buckling under the strain of a few stressful things. Then I reasoned that I can’t completely avoid all stress in my life from recovery onwards. There will be periods of great suffering and loss in my future. There will be stressors that I simply can’t avoid. The trick is to identify what’s happening and to work out how to address it.

The first step in my process is to identify the sources of stress. At the moment, I’m very stressed about changing schools for my girls. I am a people-pleaser and I want people to like me. I’m so uncomfortable letting people down and rejecting the school. I’m also stressed about the short-term impact on my children, knowing that this decision is causing them sadness to leave friends and the discomfort of knowing that they are not going to be part of next year’s events.

The change in schools costs money in the form of acceptance fees, new school uniforms and other unnecessary costs. Our family has suffered a great loss of income in the time that I haven’t been able to work. These are unplanned costs and it does create stress for us as we could be spending the money on other important things.

Another source of stress is my book launch coming up. I have planned an event for the end of November and if you’ve read my book you’ll know that the month of November is typically so busy and stressful already. My book has been out since August so I really don’t want to delay the launch any longer. It will trigger more book sales and enable me to sell my book for a few months at the store where I’m launching. In preparation for the launch I am also busy with my website which is a lot of work as well.

I’m also trying to finish my first five speeches in my advanced series of Toastmasters. This occupies many evenings and takes time to prepare. I also expend energy and increase stress levels with the anxiety of presenting a speech to an audience.

As mentioned, November also brings a lot of commitments: concerts, teacher gifts, dancing exams, my tax return, children’s parties, school galas and all the year end parties and demonstrations for extra murals. We have even made a rule in our house that we are not to have any house guests in the month of November. It’s just too busy and we can’t cope with the additional stress.

It feels that I’ve taken on so much at the end of the year and I’m feeling overwhelmed by it all. The school stress has been the most significant and it’s difficult for me not to overthink all the events and unpleasantness that comes with leaving. Rumination can be very harmful and it’s best to notice it and put an end to it as soon as possible. Click here for an article on how to address it.

The second step in my process after identifying the sources of stress is to think of benefits of the things I’m doing:

  • Leaving school: long term benefit to the girls to be in a place where they can be themselves and be valued for their own unique gifts and talents.
  • Book launch: increased book sales and hence income, as well as exposure for boosting my brand.
  • Website: I’ll be able to sell books to local customers which is of great benefit to me when I’m doing speeches and directing potential readers to my site.
  • Speeches: I’m becoming a better story teller and will allow myself to practice my professional speaking skills starting early next year.
  • November: It’s great that we made that rule about house guests as in the future we wont struggle as much as we have in the past.

I’m also ever aware that my health is incrementally improving over the long term. If I think back to three years ago, how I felt and how little I could manage, I realise how far I’ve come. Because of what I’ve been through in the past few years, I’m much more in tune with my body and I realise much quicker when things are getting out of hand. I’m able to correct course faster to ensure that I don’t get quite as sick as I once did.

The next stage for me is to apply techniques that I learnt during my recovery period. I learnt that meditation is an amazing stress buster and I realised that as I’ve been becoming busier, I’ve been sacrificing the meditation. In the past week I’ve made time for meditation, simply sitting still and connecting with my body and mind.

Stress

I was feeling so terrible on Friday that I skipped yoga and that’s a really bad sign for me. Yoga is truly therapeutic and it is a great way to bring calm to a frazzled mind. At the moment I’m trying to figure out whether yoga is good or bad for me because it can be pretty tough and intense at a time when my body is really struggling under the strain of stress. I’m spending this weekend doing very little and sleeping as much as possible in the hope that I’m strong enough for yoga on Monday and I can return to my usual routine.

Another really important remedy is enough sleep. Inadequate sleep has such a dramatic effect on my day that I really have to fight for more sleep. I made it clear that there is no story time for kids this weekend so that the routine is quicker and I get to bed earlier than usual.

Making loved ones aware that we are struggling is an important concept as no-one can really know just how awful you feel until you speak up. Asking for help is essential so that those around you can provide you with the support you need. I asked my husband to cook on Friday night and I insisted on afternoon naps this weekend.

It’s clear that boosting our happiness levels is a way to combat stress. There is a plethora of research showing that social relationships are the key to boosting happiness. Yesterday morning I met with a school friend and had a wonderful catch up after many years. I really enjoyed hearing all about the past twenty years and how she has connected with her passion. Even though I was very tired, this activity of connecting with an old friend brought me benefits.

It’s easy when we get very stressed to seek crutches or negative behaviours to help us to feel better. People often turn to alcohol, eating or other unhealthy patterns of coping. I have had to find other ways of coping because I had to change my diet so much as part of my recovery. I no longer drink alcohol, have caffeine or eat gluten so drowning my sorrows in wine, coffee and pastries is not an option for me. I have to face my emotions head on, understand where they are coming from and find healthier ways of combating stress.

I’m going to continue following these steps to address my current stress levels. I’m going to keep an eye on the sources of stress, think about how each aspect is benefiting my life and find ways to reduce stress levels and to feel better. The most meaningful of those are adequate sleep, asking for help, meditation and building social relationships.

What methods do you use when stress is overwhelming in your life?

When we Thrive, we can show Empathy

My eight-year-old daughter used to be such a happy child. She used to thrive in any situation and show such optimism. She has a natural sense of generosity that is often surprising to those around her. She has always relished her sister’s birthday and has made such an effort to give her a special day and celebration.

This year is different, however. She is showing jealousy and is having emotional outbursts that are most unlike her. One could argue that kids change as they get older and they go through various phases of development. For me, it seems out of character.

Thrive

She is extremely unhappy at school at the moment. She is in a school that has a high focus on academic achievement. There is a great deal of pressure to cover a lot of schoolwork, with piles of homework each day and her teacher complains that she is too slow. She is a creative child and a highly intelligent person. But she is very young for her year in that if she were born twelve days later she would be in a different grade. She is also an older sibling so has to be the trailblazer and has no one to copy in terms of school life and training her parents. (Yes, we do get better as time goes on.)

My assessment of the situation is that she does not belong at the school. She is not in an environment where she can thrive and be herself. She is not being nurtured and encouraged by teachers and peers who actually believe in her. Of course she is nurtured and encouraged at home but I cannot be in the classroom with her making sure she gets treated with patience and respect. She has become so unhappy and stressed that her health is affected.

Thrive

I have realized that I have to get her out of the environment. It’s difficult because the school does make every effort for families to stay and to give the school a chance. They also insist on a term’s notice and threaten to charge for a full term if you don’t communicate your intentions of leaving in time. The school fees are very expensive and I would certainly not like to waste any money, especially considering the fact that I haven’t been earning income for a few years.

I find myself torn between my child’s happiness and the practicality of not throwing thousands away. It is a difficult place to be. I know that my child’s happiness matters more than money. I know that this will not be a concern in a few year’s time and we will look back grateful for having made this change for her. But it is difficult nonetheless.

I have come to realise that her lack of generosity and kindness at the moment is linked to her happiness level. I know people who seem to have such difficult lives. They complain about the smallest things and everything is so hard for them. I think it’s because they are unhappy within themselves. I have noticed that it’s far easier to be kind and to show empathy towards others when you are happy within yourself. Once you find more joy, the small things don’t seem to matter that much.

I experienced a burnout about three years ago and have been recovering since. I decided to research happiness and to apply science-based strategies to make my life happier. It worked. I now do work that I love, my relationships are better (not perfect, but better) and I actively work on enhancing my quality of life. Of course, I share these lessons with my family and encourage my children to be mindful, grateful and to savour the joy of small things.

I also know from my experience that it’s impossible to build our happiness if our environment is negative and unhappy. If we feel rejected and disliked by those around us, we can’t thrive. My child is not thriving because because of her environment and a lack of fit between her and the school culture.

My only logical action is to move schools so that my child can be in an environment that is more aligned to her character. And the sooner, the better. I’m hoping she will thank me for it later, that we are avoiding depression, teenage suicide attempts, and eating disorders by listening and acting on her needs now. I don’t want to be filled with regret later because I failed her now. As difficult as it is to spend this money and take on the stress of such a change, it’s worth it in the long run.

What’s so special about me, anyway?

Yesterday I went to an event, a conference organised by a friend. It was a great chance for me to network and to meet some executives and business owners. These people could be my clients in that I’d love to speak at their organisations in order to reach more people about my message. I want to share with people my story of how I burnt out and how not to do that.

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At the moment, I feel like it’s impossible. Thinking about the day and the people I approached to introduce myself, I thought about how these people don’t want to hear my miserable story about how I got sick. They think it will never happen to them. And I don’t blame them because thought the same thing. I thought my life would go on as it was and I’d just find a better way to cope. Or things would get easier as my kids grew up. But it didn’t. Things got harder and my health collapsed to the point where I could not function. I don’t think anyone really wants to hear about that. And yet it’s an essential part of my message.

I have been under a lot of stress lately. Especially last week and it’s showing up in my health. I visited my functional practitioner this week and the stress is evident in my body. In fact it’s evident in how I feel: exhausted. Too tired to really push myself out there into the world and to appear confident and capable of bringing a message like mine to the world. It takes strength to open people’s eyes to something they don’t want to see.

Yesterday as I sat at the conference watching the speakers, I thought “I can’t do this”. I’m just not strong enough. I can’t stand in front of these people and tell them it’s possible to live a life where we are thriving and enjoying our passions. It doesn’t feel true for me a the moment. Maybe that’s something that will resonate with people more. That I don’t have all the answers. But in seeing all these clever people who have achieved so much I felt small. I felt that I don’t have an interesting and successful story to share. What makes me special enough to get up on stage and talk? This is a question that is often asked by agents and marketing professionals and frankly I don’t have an answer.

Last month I sold about twenty books. I gained income for the first time in two and a half years. It’s a miracle and it felt amazing to collect money from friends and acquaintances who bought my book. I’ve received some great feedback in that many people find the story of how I burnt out compelling. Some are using the words “couldn’t put it down” which is fantastic. I’m super thrilled with the feedback and I am humbled and grateful for the support.

It’s such a pity that I feel so exhausted right now. How do I gather enough energy to recover from the stress of the past few weeks and still push my career forward? I feel like giving up and just resuming next year. I am so behind on all the demands of the school. There are about eight things I haven’t done and I’m so worried about forgetting something. I’m trying to organise a party for my six year old in ten day’s time and I’ve done nothing but the invitations. She’s so excited that she’s literally bouncing up and down and counting the sleeps. And I’m just not sure where I’m going to get the energy to offer her something worthy of her enthusiasm.

It’s just that I had such expectations. After publishing my book, I had visions of myself doing talks a few times a week and spreading my message to people so eager to buy my book. And here I sit at home, trying my best to muster enough energy to take my kids to a party later. My tank is empty and I have nothing left for my career right now.

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I have realised that I need to slow down right now and recover from the stress of the past few weeks. I know that I’ll never get as depleted as I did before because I’m much more aware and I see it coming. I need to spend extra time on self-care and making sure my tank is refilled. That means saying no to some things and ensuring I put my well being first. I find that hard and frustrating since I’m so keen to be actively in my new job but it’s a reality that there are times when stress knocks us backwards.

It’s ironic that the conference I attended was one for diversity, about celebrating our uniqueness. I didn’t feel very special and unique at all but hopefully that’s just a factor of being a bit run down. Hopefully next week I’ll be stronger and able to conquer the world again. Hopefully I will have gained a bit more self-belief and pick myself up to do this work I’m called to do. But for now, I’m focusing on self-care and taking one day at a time.

Reconciling the Spiritual and the Business

I keep having this thought that there is friction between following a spiritual path and living in the real world. For me, it presents itself where I am at the moment in my career and my life. I’ve just published my first book as an independent author and I’m busy with sales and marketing. I’m having trouble reconciling my destiny with the everyday aspects of a business.

One of the most important things I did on my recovery from burnout was to change careers. It was clear that my previous job and environment weren’t doing me any good so I needed a new job. It took me some time but I eventually figured out that writing was it. I wrote my book about what brought me to burnout and what I did about it. A key learning was to connect with what I’m good at and what I enjoy doing. Key signposts that I’m on the right path are when I’m feeling light and joyful. I’m following my divine calling to do what I believe I’m here to do.

reconciling

Things were simple when I was connecting with my divine purpose in the solitude of my sanctuary. But now, I’m out into the world, working on marketing, my website, doing talks and selling my book. I’m encountering a lot of feedback about my book. People are telling me what they like, what they think I should have done differently and what I should do next. I love that I get to engage with the world and that my story is having an impact on people. I am always open to learning so that I can keep improving in my craft and work those improvements into my next book.

I keep wanting to respond to people who have advice on what I should have done, that I did what I felt was needed and what felt right. That doesn’t sound like it comes from a very rational place. It doesn’t. To get better I had to surrender to something greater than myself, let go of my inner critic and all the advice around me and do what resonates with me most. It’s quite hard to defend those decisions but I didn’t feel that I had much choice in the matter.

I’ve done the work for the foundation of my career in getting the book out but it doesn’t stop there. I’m arranging for my book launch, working on my website and doing some networking. I need to spread this message as far as I can because that’s what I’m here for. It’s not only the need to generate income from this investment I’ve made but it’s also about fulfilling my destiny. I don’t believe it’s enough that I create the book and spend the rest of my time meditating to allow the universe to deliver. I actually have to hustle to get the work done and not everything feels light and joyful all the time. This is quite confusing for me and leads to a lot of doubt.

For the first time, I have other people poking their noses into the work. And yes, I’ve invited them in to help me with various aspects of this new venture. But it’s tricky for me to discern which pockets of advice are useful and are aligned with my path. They won’t all be beneficial and I’m needing to return to my compass to figure out if this is really good for me and my task. I’m also being told to work on the next book as soon as possible. But I have other plans in that I’m working on my deck of cards and that brings me joy right now.

reconciling

The path to success and happiness is not simple and clear. It’s full of obstacles and some blessings disguised as obstacles. It’s hard work to follow your passion, to stay true to your purpose and to keep moving towards the future you envision. But I’m not giving up on this dream of mine. I’m stronger than I have been in years and I’m closer to the future I desire than I have ever been. I’m just going to focus on the next right step in front of me and to let rest unfold as it will.

What steps are you taking towards a better life?

Inspiration, awe, beauty and dreams

Travel offers so many benefits. The chance to see different scenery, cultures and lifestyles. It offers perspective and the opportunity to step back from our own lives for a period. I travelled to four new places recently and they all offered me something different.

The Lake District in a England is so beautiful. Flower pots hang from every store front and pub. The flowers seem to be on steroids – thriving from plenty of water and the right amount of sunshine in summer. It reminded me of when we are at our best. In flow. Thriving.

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We visited Dove Cottage where William Wordsworth lived for many years, writing much of his famous poetry. We also visited two attractions for Beatrix Potter, the author of many children’s books including The Tale of Peter Rabbit. It occurred to me how easy it would be to be inspired in such a beautiful place, and how important it is to spend time in an environment that makes you feel inspired.

Iceland was fascinating. So barren in many areas, with volcanic rock and black soil. It has natural wonders that are awe-inspiring. The people make use of nature’s resources to generate power in a way that leaves minimal or no environmental impact. We visited a waterfall with a story of a hero willing to sacrifice her life to save what is now a national treasure. We also visited the geysers that burst water into the air at intervals of around six minutes. People gasped at the joy of seeing the water shoot into the air. It left me with a sense of wonder for our beautiful planet.

We travelled to Scotland next and stayed in a community in Findhorn where the environment is respected and where you can feel the connection to the divine. The way the residents live in harmony with nature, creating masterful structures and systems is truly inspiring. I was able to attend group meditations and to learn about community initiatives. I felt envious of the children who grow up there, in that they live in an environment of acceptance, love and harmony. I felt such a sense of peace and harmony, knowing that there is a force greater than ourselves, offering us guidance if we’re open to it.

On the way home we stayed in Dubai for a few nights. The stark contrast of the desert with the lush greenery of Scotland was dramatic. It also felt barren, as Iceland felt, but on the other extreme. The heat is oppressive and there is little water available. And yet the people have built an impressive city including the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. I was reminded that humans can overcome great obstacles to create what once felt impossible.

The first 300 copies of my book arrived at my house the day I flew out for this trip. I could not decide whether it was good or bad timing. I’ve waited so long for this book to be ready that I wanted to get it out into the world. But perhaps I needed a holiday before I launch into my new phase of marketing my book. Perhaps I needed to step back and to absorb the inspiration from nature and from human feats before I start my new chapter. I feel so incredibly blessed and lucky that I have found my passion, I’ve started my career as a published author and that I have so much to look forward to.

inspiration

The Lake District flourishes and provides beauty and inspiration to anyone who is open to it. Iceland is covered in snow and ice for most of the year, yet the locals have used natural resources to create industry. The founder of the Findhorn Foundation followed the guidance she received and built something incredible from a simple piece of land. The bustling city of Dubai was created out of a desert.

Are you listening to the whispers of inspiration you receive? What will you create out of nothing?

Facing the Fear of Fruition

A while ago I wrote about how I was so frustrated with the waiting for my book to be finished. I know that patience is a virtue but I wasn’t blessed with a lot of patience. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease caused by stress two and a half years ago. It has taken me that long to recover. I have been without income and the confidence that comes with it for a long time. Finally, I want my hard work to come to fruition. I want my suffering to be worth something.

On the other hand, I do like things to be right and it’s important to me to honour my own qualities. I have perfectionistic tendencies that I regularly grapple with. I notice my children getting upset with themselves for making mistakes and I know exactly where that comes from.

fruition

I found two mistakes in the printer’s proof, the rough draft of my book. I wrestled with what to do about it. If I did the printer’s proof again, I needed to pay for it and wait another few weeks. I have an impending trip overseas that makes me feel that everything needs to be resolved beforehand. In the end, I decided to proceed with the two errors and just to be content with the book anyway.

Maybe I was trying to send myself a message that mistakes are okay. Or to let my readers know that I am indeed human and fallible but still worth something anyway. My oldest daughter was horrified that I sent the book out into the world with two known errors. I told her that I’m only human and that I make mistakes. It doesn’t make the book bad.

To be honest with myself, I went ahead with the print because I just couldn’t wait for my new life any longer. Now I’m regretting the decision, feeling uncomfortable about the end product’s feel of quality. I’m also wondering how authentic I’ve been in fighting my perfectionism. I’m all about authenticity and I went ahead and published something with mistakes in it. Is that really me?

My publisher is going ahead with creating the eBook and the release is imminent. And all of a sudden, I feel like finding excuses to halt the book going out into the world. Why would that be after all this frustration? I’ve also noticed my hip flexor muscles (iliopsoas) being really tight and shaky during yoga. In looking up their connection with emotions, it relates to a fear of the future. Why would I fear this future that I’ve been so eager to welcome?

Along with my book being released into the world, my personal stories come along for the ride. My childhood experiences, my relationships with my parents, siblings and husband are now being examined by strangers. It’s a scary feeling although I know it’s a necessary part of telling my story. I know that being honest and vulnerable is part of my brand. I feel naked and exposed now that my personal life is about to become public. My worst parenting moments, my failures and mistakes will be read by many, some strangers, some not. I’m not sure which is worse.

fruition

But, I do need to make peace with this part of the process. I need to trust that this is the first step in my life as a writer. My genre is non-fiction and I like to share my stories in the hope that they help other people. I can’t be someone I’m not. I can’t pretend to like writing fiction because it’s not true.

Before I had a chance to take a breath, I feel like my destiny is unfolding like a tsunami. There’s no stopping it now. Warts and all, errors or no errors, it’s happening. I have mixed feelings of sheer excitement one moment, and paralyzing fear the next. Perhaps it’s a good thing I’m going on holiday for three weeks. Whatever happens in my absence must simply happen and I’ll be relaxing with my family and waiting to see how the world receives my work.

Addressing the Underlying Cause

This week I had a meeting with my eight-year-old’s teacher. My child is doing well, understanding all the work which is reflected in the results of her tests. However, her teacher said that she’s lethargic and her pace is slow. She asked for a neurological assessment. What’s she’s really saying is that she wants me to drug my child.

underlying

To be honest, I’m appalled. I’m horrified that she didn’t ask if there’s something emotional happening that might be distracting her. I’m amazed that she didn’t ask about her overall health, how much sleep she’s getting or her diet. Her first call for action is to seek mind altering drugs. Is there anyone else who feels that’s unacceptable?

Two years ago, another teacher said the same thing. I asked for my child to see the school counselor because I suspected something emotional. Our family was in distress from my burnout and the resultant illness. It turns out that my daughter thought she had caused my illness by her noisy playing. She was carrying an enormous amount of guilt that was leading her to be distracted. She spent a few hours with the counselor and it was resolved. Her concentration was back and she could continue learning.

I knew my child well enough to know that something was not right. I know my child well enough to know that there’s nothing wrong with her or her brain. I remember how she was doing 100 piece puzzles at four years old. We marveled at how she sat through a ninety minute movie at age two. This is not a child with a brain injury or any dysfunction that would require mind altering chemicals. Last year’s teacher could not stop complementing us on our parenting and this wonderful child of ours.

I prefer to find the underlying cause of a problem so that I can address that instead of putting a band-aid on something I don’t understand. It feels to me that schools have become drug pushers. Some parents take the teacher’s opinion as gospel and follow instruction as if from an authority figure. I am my child’s primary advocate and I know what she needs better than anyone else. My daughter needs me on her side to make sure her best interests are met. She’s counting on me to make decisions that affect her career, health and well-being for decades into the future. The best way I can do that is by getting to the underlying cause of what’s troubling her.

I know this is a heated debate and there are many parents who have seen great improvement in their child’s behavior since medicating them. I understand that everyone must make the right decisions for their families. I just hope that every parent takes the time and effort to understand the underlying cause before making such a radical decision. We live in busy times where we want instant gratification but instant solutions are rarely the right ones.

It’s so clear to me from my experience of illness that conventional medicine only knows how to medicate. Doctors are merely trained to match the illness with the drugs. In the same way, if you visit a surgeon, they recommend surgery. If you visit a psychiatrist, they recommend drugs and if you visit a psychologist, they recommend therapy.

I see it as a great blessing that I found a specialist who advocates lifestyle change as the main treatment for my auto immune disease. I also feel blessed that I have experienced this major health collapse and through it found the gift of functional medicine. It focuses on finding the underlying cause of illness and addressing that. In so doing, the body can return to its natural, healthy state. I’m so lucky that I found it before the teachers convinced me to drug my child.

My daughter has a range of minor issues in her body that are easy to fix with natural medicines. It will take approximately four to six weeks until her body is restored to full health. That will allow her to function properly and to concentrate. Even in the past 24 hours, her energy levels are up and she is so much more buoyant. If I had not found functional medicine, I might have been convinced to put my child on medication that would affect her brain function, her personality and that she might never be able to stop without serious consequences.

I’ve also taken her for an independent assessment with a psychometrist who can advise whether she requires occupational therapy or any other remedies in the emotional sphere in order to support her. I really feel that the schools are far too quick to push drugs on parents as a suitable solution before investigating further.

I know parents are only able to do the best for their child as per their knowledge at the time. Five years ago I might also have taken the teacher’s advice as the right thing to do. It’s my experiences that have enabled me to fight for my child better. It was a combination of my own health collapsing, conventional medicine failing me and finding functional medicine that helped me be a better parent. I am her biggest champion and I’m doing the best I can, as we all are, to help her to thrive.

underlying

Until she is a parent, my daughter won’t know how difficult it is to make these decisions or how much we worry about her. I hope in ten or twenty years time that she understands that everything I’ve done for her is to support her health and to give her the chance to be the best person possible.

It’s okay that other parents think I’m flaky or weird for my approach that is non-conventional. My child will thank me in future when her peers aren’t thriving. My child will have her personality, her health and her passions in tact. And that is worth all the resistance from school, teachers and parents. My daughters have put their lives and well-being in my hands and I won’t let them down.