In pursuit of Joy

I came away on this 3 month adventure with a desire to unearth the person that I am now. To rediscover some of the old. To polish up the new parts. To find a little more peace and more of the whole of me.

I love my life. I truly do. And my biggest fear with writing out loud is that I will be misunderstood. That I sound ungrateful, privileged. Guilt and shame are a big part of this and it’s something I’m working on daily.

But, I guess the bravery is in writing the words that are burning, regardless. That’s the vulnerability I so often read about, advise about, but don’t put my own nerves behind.

Part of the process involves nurturing my own mental health. In fact a very big part. Mental health alongside embracing and allowing my creativity to grow. Post Partum Depression is real and hand in hand with anxiety, they are friends I know well. It’s sort of liberating to admit that. I honestly do see the magic in my daily life, in the world, in the minutae of motherhood and marriage and all that growing as a human entails. But I do also struggle with very dark days, with fluctuations in mood and fog, with fear, doubt. Sometimes I feel a bit crazy. I’ve found the last 5 years sometimes a really big struggle. There are mountains climbed that have had a huge impact on who I am and how I relate as a mother and a wife. And generally how I relate to myself and the rest of the world.

I wanted this journey away to be an uncovering. A re-discovery of joy that has fizzled out with spreading too thin, with supporting and guiding my babies, with running too hard for too long and carrying a lot of emotional weight around. There’s baggage to lose and things to embrace and old ideas to slake away. There’s gold to unearth and new thoughts and ideas desperate to be given attention.

The biggest part of recent times, when the going has got really tough, is the totally un-radical notion of self care. Lack of any sort of link back to self has made this pyramid collapse on more than one occasion and I’m too long now in the shade of grey that was left behind. I want to feel energised and motivated and loving and kind-hearted, and full. And just not so flaming tired of it all.

There is so much light leaking out that this shell is ready to be cracked, and I need to write about that process. I’m scared of what those close to me will think with all the honesty. It’s not really the done thing hey? But it’s turning me inside out keeping it inside. So I guess it needs to be said.

Sometimes motherhood and partnership and love and everything else is a beautiful monster that swallows me whole. I want to reclaim the part of that circle that is me. All of those other parts are the most beautiful of pieces, but when the piece of me is missing, the bigger picture can be a really empty place to be. And I start to lose the connection to purpose or the strength to make it out the other side when the hard stuff arrives again.

I don’t know what will happen. I’m not really searching for anything in particular. There is no grand golden dream. More a sense that I truly believe in the magic of feeling alive. I extoll this idea to everyone else around me, yet spend much of each day frustrated…far too angry and quick to explode. I have huge thoughts and notions of calm and loving guidance and nurturing, yet it only takes one thing to set off a cascade that does non of my family any good.

I write half hearted notes on here about revelling in little arms and the here and now and being present. But it’s not enough. So this is going to get a little deep. If I can squeeze past the embarrassment barricade at the door…..

It’s going to be #inpursuitofjoy. In the small moments. In the quiet times. In the hard and uncomfortable and mundane. I would love it so much if you would travel alongside me. To point out signposts on the way or tend to each other when we feel wounded or scared. To cheerlead along. To be positive but also hold space for the crappy feelings too.

I know its going to be a thousand small changes and steps. That’s one of the biggest hurdles, trying not to race to the finish line. There is no finish line. This is a lifelong thread.

And so to document those tiny baby bits. I don’t want to curate a life online that’s reaching out for help and support but half heartedly with a few words that are screaming for connection but never actually lay the door open to do that.

I’ve sort of gone off on a ramble here, but I suppose that’s how it’s going to go. I hope we can take a ride on this road together for a while.

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Incoming | Ubud – Bali

We made it!! And god we were as scared as hell. Even though it is exactly as we were expecting – it’s still shocked us how MUCH it is. A total overwhelm to the senses. And to two people who have become soft and safe and comfortable back in Yorkshire for the last 10 years – it was a totally thrown back in at the deep end moment. Even though we’ve been planning and conscious of everything we’ve booked and done, its all felt a bit like a dream. Something I didn’t get too excited for just in case it never happened, as it had done before. And then the plane journeys involving two children with croup in the end and no sleep for 48 hours…. Well I think it just added fuel to the fire of a total out of body experience arriving up in to Ubud.

The same things that used to fire me up and make me feel alive as a young twenty something in South East Asia, has me hyperventilating in panic now trying not to lose my mind and do a runner.

It is so extremely beautiful and lush. The people could not be kinder or more helpful. But the environment. It’s like I imagine being on speed would be like. Everthing is ramped up – heat, noise, smells, just the total strangeness of it all. And I knew it was all coming. I’ve been to similar places before and absorbed it like a drug. I so I am more shocked that we were so blindsided.

And all I can put it down to when I think of it it is that it’s becoming parents. Everywhere before were my faith and confidence was high , that something bad just wouldn’t happen. Where before I was aware and safe but not thinking of the worst case. Well now it seems I’ve become the opposite. It’s slowly lessening as the days go by and I hope that it recedes so that it is not my primary state on this trip. I want to fully embrace and appreciate and love this experience without the edge of fear. I know it will go, I just wish it would hurry up.

Both of the littles have been really sick. It’s been scary. Throw into that a moped ride with them both as soon as we arrived, another night of no sleep, and falling insects in the dark from the roof of our beautiful home…… I think anybody would feel the way we did on that first real day. Pretty much totally terrified and wondering what the hell we had done!?!

But. It gets better. God does it get better.

We found a great doctor who took care of our babies. We took some deep breaths and connected to some people within the community. We remembered that the rice paddies are naturally going to have loooots of creepy crawlies. Its normal. (can you hear the convincing going on here?).

Noah is just into everything. I mean he will literally touch (and eat) everything. He loves the people. He wont stop talking. He is not remotely phased by the heat or the noise. He just wants to do, and move, and be. He is our greatest blessing of the trip so far.

Erin has blown our minds with her ease at taking on this strange new world. She loves it. She likes our little home and has set up her own rhythms already. Each morning she is picking offerings to mimic those made by the people here. Leaving her flowers out around the house and garden. She has a little pouch of silver tokens from home that she gets out at every opportunity. Shes started to sit in her own little dreamworld. Happy but present. Its beautiful to watch. I don’t know if it’s the closeness our family is enjoying because its just us and no where to be. Or wether the strangeness and the change has done her more good than we anticipated. Or that she has been so sick but that we were all together and shes now confident whatever happens we will make it out the other side. Whatever the reason, I am happy for it.

Many plans to make, but for now, for these first few days we are just rolling with the hour. It’s a wonderful feeling.

xx

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Changes

Often we let time slip by and the days pass and we don’t have a proper conversation or look each other in the eyes as a family for too long.

It always takes us a few hours to find a rhythm to fit us all. Sometimes we row before we hit an even keel. But we always get there.

I am sitting on the truth of living each day as intentionally as possible. To breathe in more patience and kindness and let out more love and understanding.

We’ve really slowed down over the last few months. Shook off lots of physical and emotional binds. We are winding down to a real life change and I honestly can’t wait.

I know our trip won’t change us in itself. But the act of becoming more conscious, more aware, more thoughtful…..it’s already reaping massive rewards and the winds of change are blowing strong against us all.

Some of it feels painful. We do have bad days. But mostly, mostly its exciting and fresh and just what we have been looking for.

A rare day all together today. It was love-filled.

 

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Early Mornings of Autumn

We’re not in our forever home. In fact we’re sort of in limbo with our upcoming travels and trying to do up and sell this place.

We only have a little courtyard and since we’ve moved back in from the country, I’ve been yearning for some outside space, and to look up and see the stars again.

But. trying to stay in the moment and appreciate all that we do have. And we’ve started a little morning ritual of going outside early as the suns coming up. And letting this little one rub his hands through the dirt of the few tubs we do have. It’s like he gets reconnected first thing and then he’s settled. It’s lovely to watch.

And it lets me breathe in. and out. and seek gratitude before the day even begins.

Lessons learning every day.

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Let them be

So desperate for a culture where children are genuinely enjoyed. Where respect is needed of course, but where children are included and supported and encouraged to explore and be curious. The west still has a massive bent of seen and not heard or that children should be so meek and mild so as not to be an inconvenience.
Don’t get me wrong; I love adult time, shared time. But I also love my babies. They are a huge part of this world, not just the world behind closed doors. I love interacting with them.

Let them be little.

Let them be free.

Let them be all the shades that they are

So much show in this world and not enough heart. We need more heart.

 

More

I met my gorgeous band of women today for our monthly business/life support session. We met through wedding and photography related work years back now, and became firm friends, and now I couldn’t do without their breath of fresh air, love and friendship. They are mirrors, cheerleaders, shoulders to cry on, fire lighters and inspirations all in their own rights.

And today I got whipped back into shape. Splurged it out and let our discussion flow back and forwards as it always does, warm like the tide. Until the answer that feels right for me is right there in front of me, as if it always had been, ready for some attention.

Right now, I need time for me.

I need to make that plan that is structured but flexible enough to not feel like a cage

I need to set more loving boundaries to get the things I need, so I can be the example for doing this, that I so crave to be

I need to create and write out raw honest truths

That this is not narcissistic

That I will stop waiting for time. There is no time. There is enough time. Whichever way I think about it, the blunt answer is I’ve just got to do it. Not wait for the perfect time. Something I already know, but advice to which I feel so hard pushed to follow when I’m so utterly tired most of the time.

So,

Writing it out makes it real

I will write in any spare moment I have when the feeling takes me. Not wait for the night, for the time, for the space

I will listen to what my body and mind is telling me. Before I crash.

I can love with all my heart but still make space for the things I need. It’s the only way to show them they can do this too as they grow.

I will stay connected to those souls who truly lift me up. That those relationships deserve time and energy and everything else is just noise.

My choices. My intentions. My responsibilities. My life.

Nothing has to be perfect. Small steps every day. That is the way forward.

Small small, onward, onward. Grow. Bend, Change, Relax, Flow.

Be. But make it work.