Body Image, Self-esteem

And Exhale

Wow. I’ve just got back from Exhale festival. It was another wonderful experience this year. There is so much to process from the weekend. So many feelings, ideas and inspirations are running through my head. Yesterday I had the honour of running a body image talk. It was to my great delight that a packed barn of men and women came together to share, discuss and listen to what I had to say. If I think back to three years ago when I first publicly talked about my eating disorder I realise how far i’ve come. It’s still hard and emotional to talk about but this time there were no tears just big smiles. I just want to say a HUGE thank you to each person who showed up, your presence was greatly appreciated. And to those who shared thoughts and feelings in the circle thank you for being brave. Thank you to my partner Gerard for being there, supporting me and always believing in me, even when I struggle to.

I remember wishing the ed had never happened to me. Now I realise it’s one of my greatest gifts. When I was ill I NEEDED to hear and see stories of recovery, that there was a way out, that I had a hope to be back to myself. It is this that pushes me to keep talking about it and to keep sharing because I know that if it makes a difference to one person then that is fucking amazing.

There is far too much pressure on people to look a certain way, to attain to an ideal that is unachievable for most. We are all unique, that is what makes us so special. We all have something to offer this world, to share and a unique inner strength. It’s so important to appreciate all that we can DO and all that our bodies do for us. The image stuff, well it’s there but you are perfect just as you are. If you want the cake then eat the cake, life is too short not to. I really worry for the younger generations growing up in a world where social media is at their fingertips. With constant expectations about how you ‘should’ look then how we can we ever match up to it if you don’t achieve it?

I did some powerful work with Mark Walsh yesterday on yoga for social change. It was thought provoking and timely. I want to see people being kinder to each other and most of all kinder to themselves. We need to have communities and support, not segregation, isolation and wars. I want to help people who are suffering with body image issues, whatever that may be. I need to use all I have learnt, keep sharing and develop ways for actionable change. It’s not enough to say ‘love your body’, if only it was that simple right?

So thank you to each and every person who I spoke to this weekend and Carl & Darren for making Exhale festival possible. The sharing, connecting, love and community had a powerful presence and i’m sure a lasting effect on everyone. Lastly but by no means least as I write this I think of my wonderful parents who looked after me when I was ill. You encouraged me to keep fighting and to always keep learning, thank you.

 

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Love, Poetry, Yoga

Sublime Moments 

Diary entry – dated 28th March 2015.  The day I left Suryalila and a week into my YTT training.  Sat on a bench outside the airport in Seville.

“Just know that in this moment everything is sublime.  I sit alone, perfectly alone in my own company.  I sit on green grass, sun beating on me, music through my headphones.  Appreciative of everything I have right now.

The two feet I stand on, the New Balance I bought, jeans that cost £9, an old tank top and my Senheisers.  The fact that all I need right in this moment is here. Everything I need is here.  

I’m about to fly to Barcelona, the trip continues.  I’ve just been paid the most money I’ve ever been paid in one month.  All the fruits of my labour are beginning to pay off.

From within the gentle appreaciation of all brings great pleasure in the smallest of actions.  Be grateful for what we have, for it is so rich and wonderful.  The grass, the light, the shadows and the trees.  The flows my heart wants to make.  Energy follows thought.  In each sweet encounter be glad for all that encapsulates it”.

Words that flowed so naturally from me that I had to capture them.

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Uncategorized, Yoga

Go Where Feels Good

I’ve just had one of those self practices where you get on the mat, shut your eyes and just see what happens.  I can highly recommend it.  No leggings, no sports bra, just jeans and a vest and just a good dose of ‘needing to move’ without my self imposed routine.  I’ve felt a little ‘out of sorts’ recently, my body just doesn’t feel as ‘strong’ and vibrant as usual and my shoulders are tense*.  I’m putting it down to a few things; busy with work and teaching, a bit stressed, trying to balance an incredible man in my life coupled with associated feelings of guilt that i’m never spending enough time on just one thing.

It’s hard to just be though isn’t it?  Isn’t it?  I mean at the start of the yoga classes I teach I try to create a space for the practitioners to just ‘be’, to connect with their breath and their body.  Yet sometimes I have to remind myself that I need that time too.  I need to move around on my mat like no one is watching (mainly cause they’re not), put some melodic music on and just swirl around, going where feels good.

I recently went to an ‘Ode to the Moon’ workshop led by Eleonora Zampatti.  A former sufferer of domestic violence, Eleonora created this sequence in harmony with a musician to create a space for those to feel and to let go of hurt.  Her workshop encouraged us to be vulnerable on the mat, to listen to what our bodies said, to move slowly and with care and to ultimately be kind and nurturing to ourselves.   It definitely touched me, I felt calmer, more tuned in and inspired by how gentle her teaching was.  Check her out, she is quite an inspirational woman.

After so many years of being out of touch with my body, of wanting to punish it for letting me down I need to remember to be kind to it.  My body actually IS getting stronger all the time.  Sometimes it might not feel that obvious but it is.  The body and mind, although one, can occasionally feel like two, I know that all too well.  That’s why it’s such a beautiful experience to get on the mat and just try, because right now something might feel hard physically, but soon both mentally and physically it will feel a little easier, or maybe it might take longer than you want, and that is just fine.  Just go where feels good.  Close your eyes during your practice,  close off a little, move into the space, invite in what comes to you.

*The shoulders and my mind feel happier after that practice!

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Uncategorized

Proud – India Rose

“When one woman puts her experiences into words, another woman who has kept silent, afraid of what others will think, can find validation. And when the second woman says aloud, ‘yes, that was my experience too,’ the first woman loses some of her fear.” Carol Christ

It´s funny how you can stumble across a quote which just perfectly sums up a pivotal moment in time.

Last week my dearest darling India stood up in front of a mix of our friends and those she didn´t know and so bravely read an extract from her diary and experience of Bulimia.  This was a huge step for her on many accounts, I don´t think I can do it justice in describing what this moment meant to her.  But what I do know is to publicly ‘admit’ that you´ve suffered and have lived through this time and come out the other side is a HUGE step.  I’ve known India for 12 years and throughout this time she has been nothing short of bold, brave and an incredible person.  We’ve always been close and by strange twists and turns of fate both found ourselves starting the journey of adult hood with eating disorders.

But just like every human is different, our experiences took us down very different roads.  Whilst mine has been in the public sphere for the past three years India has never told anyone beyond those closest to her.  That´s fucking tough.  How can we ever know the suffering going on behind a person´s beautiful exterior?  To see someone you love in pain is terrible, and to see them come out the other side is just, well, amazing.  What i’ve learnt from India is to be a shoulder and an encourager.  An encourager to keep fighting, to know there are better times ahead and a life that can be free of eating disorders.

If sharing your experience helps one person that it makes it all worth it right?  Knowing you’re not alone, that someone understands.  I am very proud to say that India´s incredible words are here https://andbreatheblog.wordpress.com/  On her blog you will find words of understanding, of thoughtfulness, of openness, of contemplation and above all, inspiration.

For my badger, I am endlessly proud of you xx

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Dating, Love, Yoga

Learning to sit with Vulnerability

I went on one of those date things.  After a bit of a hiatus on the old dating scene I thought I would give it another go.  As fine as it was I immediately got the impression he wasn’t interested.  Yes I am going on assumption but from the look is in eye I felt it was a ‘thanks but no thanks’ situation.  We’ve all been there, you know when someone isn’t keen.  Yet it still kinda sucks, rejection doesn’t taste good does it?  I know some people love the dating lifestyle, seemingly swinging from date to date.  I on the other hand find them a little less enjoyable.  I never feel nervous before one, my attitude is what will be will be.  Yet i’ve been trying to work out why I don’t particularly enjoy going on dates and have come to this conclusion…..

Nude photo shoot?  Not a problem for me!  Yet put me in front of a stranger on a date and have me talk about myself and my gawd I feel vulnerable.  Vulnerable is the best word I can think to describe my feelings.  I feel like i’ve been opened out for this person to judge me, I feel exposed.  For someone who is so confident in many ways when it comes to the opposite sex I am like a little turtle popping my head back in it’s shell frightened of the outcome.  Am I boring?  Am I hideous?  Is what i’m saying really dorky?  I haven’t worked out how to turn these feelings around and be more confident in myself when it comes to guys.  I guess it’s a journey I just have to figure out for myself.  If I feel intimidated I just pull back, for fear of making a fool of myself.

London is a tough bugger to be single in.  Us London folk don’t tend to strike up conversations with attractive strangers.  The likes of Happn now mean that cute girl or guy you passed may just be on the other end of this app available to chat behind the security of a mobile phone.  Messages to and fro are great but until you meet that person face to face and can feel chemistry you don’t really know if you will like them enough to take it further.

Anyway enough with the self-pitying.  I was in a grump and you know what?  It was really fricking dull, hence some writing and a blog post to express myself.  At the moment my life is a continuous cycle of yoga and work and i’ve never felt better for it. In the run up to my YTT I’ve been practising at Stretch everyday for the past month or so.  I feel more connected, more aligned and more open than ever before. Asanas are what we practice on the mat, yet the yoga really begins out of the studio.  I’m learning daily about what my body can and can’t do.  I’m finding spots that are tight, emotions that are hidden.  Practice needs a healthy dose of patience to go with it.  I am truly having to learn to sit with patience and just be.

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Love

Sofa Karma

New Cross at dusk

New Cross at dusk

 

Herein lies the end of my time sofa surfing in London for 2014.  Or, to be more specific; sofa-bed, sofa and bed surfing courtesy of some very kind friends.  Lest I forget my wonderful parents who welcomed me back when I was fresh off the plane back in March and kept me fed and watered for six weeks before I found myself back in the flurry of London.

Sofa karma.  The act, I believe, of offering one’s personal space to a friend who is in need.  The ‘big smoke’ is a hellishly expensive place to live, and with very little money and a new internship I was asking India and Lizzie if I could kip on their sofa bed for a ‘while’.  Sure enough I knew I could rely on them and I spent my first month working and filling their living room with my clothes, shoes and towels.  Ladies, thank you.  That first month was tough and your warmth and openness to me being there won’t be forgotten.

Fast forward a few weeks and I awoke one Saturday morning to a vague re-collection of my friend Mikey offering up his sofa for grabs.  After a month spent at the girls I felt I was erring on the edge of outstaying my welcome (no one needs my shoes clogging their living room for longer than that).  So I left the comfort of the gals to finding myself looking out of the enormous balcony of the gated community belonging to Mikey, Joe and Harry.  It was quite the contrast going from my badger’s place to boys and the World Cup (by the end I actually quite enjoyed the football…..).  Yet again I felt very fortunate to have kind friends who would let me into their beautiful home and share tea and numerous digestive biscuits.

By the end of the second month my good friend and fellow travel buddy Jonny was off on another travel adventure so offered to allow me to take this room for the month.  So thanks to Jonny and Flynn I spent the hottest nights of summer in a bed for the first time in two months, oh such hot, sweaty bliss!  By this point I was fortunate enough to have only paid for bills during my time crashing at peoples’ houses.  Guys and gals you have no idea how much this helped me and allowed me to stay afloat.

So this brings me nicely onto what I believe is ‘sofa karma’.  Just the simple act of letting a friend stay when they need it most can be a small act but one that is hugely appreciated.  I hope to always be able to extend that kindness to people who want/need to crash with me.  Whilst on my travels I experienced various different scenarios meeting generous people who would let me into their homes, offer me delicious meals and a safe place to rest my head.  It’s been no different since arriving back in the UK four months ago.

So this post is dedicated to my family, friends and those over the world who have let me stay with you.  Thank you.  And always know that my doors are open for you too.

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