Synchronicity arriving from the Depths

April 11th, 2021

The synchronicity at the moment is just blowing me out the water. It feels like I ask for something and it appears. No I don’t mean things or money, and sorry I don’t have the winning lottery numbers. But somehow, weirdly and wonderfully, new opportunities are arising and changes are happening which are just spot-on what I wanted, and not always even what I asked for.

Of course, there is a skeptical part of my mind that does its usual thing (huge thank you to that part of me, but right now let’s you and me stay with this feeling of flow and curiosity so we can see where it leads … ! 💃🏻 )

Sometimes you just have to be open to things. And, more often than not, the skilful question to ask is more about ‘why I am feeling closed or stuck?’ rather than ‘why can’t I be more open?’

Physically I am not feeling great. My body is still chooching through the vaccine and building up the antibodies and I can’t say that it’s been a pleasant process. And I’ve been feeling really down and small while all this has been happening. It’s been about staying with the difficulty. Letting myself run on minimal resources. Keeping my conscious brain occupied while letting the work happen underneath. And letting it hurt like hell.

And then … it felt like I woke up again. My parts are starting to work together. I am so very much more than just my conscious part (bless her she is always at least half a second behind, and sometimes that stretches out to decades) but lately my whole system seems to be functioning better, more in flow. Everything feels right while at the same time it also doesn’t. Curious!!!

Daily focusing, meditation and yoga are really helping me to listen to my wider, wiser self. And daily creative externalising, whether that be writing, drawing, painting, ceramics, dancing or making music, enables the inner world a way of expressing of what’s happening inside, without the conscious me getting in on the mix. She can just sit back and watch! 😎 🍿

So, even from within what is quite a difficult time, things are feeling curiously fresh and exciting.

Gratitude to my parts for working so well together and playing nicely 🙏

Let’s go … 💃🏻

My latest canvas – externalising the internal

Carl Rogers on People and Sunsets

April 4th, 2021

“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if I can let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, ‘Soften the orange a little on the right hand corner, and put a bit more purple along the base, and use a little more pink in the cloud color.’ I don’t do that. I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch it with awe as it unfolds.”

~ Carl Rogers

This quote is one that really inspires me. Because I love sunsets and because I am in awe of people. In Hakomi we learn about loving presence- being with a person and just allowing yourself to sit in awe. This being has made it through their life this far. They are brimming with life and experience. No matter how old they are they have a whole lifetime’s worth! This being has unique resources and skills. They may have developed those as a result of trauma or pain, but they are still superpowers. Looking at a being with kindly curiosity. Listening, not only to their words, but also the prosody of their voice and intonation. Noticing the emotions and the body language which shares more eloquently than their words ever could. Resonating limbic system to limbic system with this individual.

This unique being before you is as beautiful as a sunset. And just like sunsets the moment passes, and they move along with their life – but what a wonderfully rich memory remains!

Knowing that you were present with them for that moment is pure gold.

Knowing that you were fully present with yourself in their presence is beyond riches.

Knowing that you are forever changed by the encounter – just like pausing to watch a sunset.

My Old Boots – kickstarting a growth mindset!

April 1st, 2021

I need new walking boots. My old ones have served me so well. They did a lot of miles.

I bought them a long time ago in a shop where you could try them on and have a go at walking over some simulated rocks. Buying boots was a somewhat time consuming process of trying on a pair, tying up all the laces and then waking over this lumpy track feeling where the boots rubbed or whether you felt sure-footed in them. You tried on many pairs that felt wrong until eventually finding the boots that felt just right. The owners of the shop didn’t want you leaving with the wrong boots. Sadly, that shop is long gone.

The thought of shopping for walking boots online is a bit daunting. How can I manage without the expertise of those shop assistants? What if when I get them, the boots feel wrong? Can I keep on sending them back until I get the right ones? How long is that going to take?!

And I have had a year of mostly not wearing shoes at all. So nothing is going to feel right on my feet anyway.

And then after I find the right boots there is the breaking in period which is an uncomfortable process. And with my old boots I spent years customising them for my feet by wearing them and walking. They’ve walked in lots of different places and countries. New boots will feel strange and probably unpleasant for quite some time. It’s all going to feel a bit weird.

Then there is my fitness. How far will I get up the mountain before I feel exhausted and need to sit down? Probably not very far at all. And I’ll have to go on my own because who would want to walk with me if I’m just going to have to sit down after a few yards? It would feel awful to give up and then get back in the car and go home again.

It’s tempting at this point to decide that I won’t buy new walking boots.

It’s a natural thing to ponder if perhaps my days of climbing mountains are over.

An impatience arrives. Kat, just buy the bloody shoes!

Our brains hate ambiguity. We want all in or all out. We want the situation fixed!

But fixed is a word with two meanings. It can mean to fix or mend. Or it can mean fixed and rigid, or stuck. If you think about it they are really very similar. And it can be so easy to jump to fixing something and when we do that it’s usually to a fixed position of thinking. Either walk or give up!

If you have a fixed mindset you want rigid rules about how things are, what’s happening, what you can or can’t do, what others can or can’t do.

The alternative to that is a growth mindset. That allows for all sorts of possibilities. A healthy system is not one with a fixed position. A healthy system has flexibility.

Perhaps I will buy new boots. Perhaps I will find them uncomfortable and send them back. That’s OK. With a growth mindset, trying things on for size is just a part of the process.

Or perhaps I will wear them and walk 50 yards, sit down exhausted and then head back to my car. With a growth mindset, that’s OK. I just try again another day. And next time maybe I will get 100 yards. ‘Failure’ is an essential part of the process.

A fixed mindset – and jumping to fix something – often causes so much discomfort and stress. And we all do it. That ‘all or nothing’ kind of thinking is everywhere. Our society (and especially the media) are largely based around fixed thinking. Just scan some newspaper headlines and you’ll see it. We are told umpteen times a day that we should be thinking one way or another. But it’s in the middle where the flexibility can be found. And flexibility offers real hope for growth.

So what do you do when you catch yourself with a fixed mindset? Well that’s easy. Jump into a growth mindset straightaway by cutting yourself some slack! Life is a learning process.

The key is noticing those fixed thoughts and stepping back a little from them. What are the extremes in this situation? How could I find something in the middle?

Where am I jumping too fast to a fix? The above thought process from looking at my old boots to remembering the process of buying them, anticipating the difficulties of buying new ones, to deciding it was pointless and that I should probably give up hillwalking forever took about 8-10 seconds. It’s literally an open and shut case before you’ve had time to even notice what’s happening or even that you’re thinking. So we need to slow it down.

Slow it down so you can see how you might be skipping over some place in the middle that feels uncomfortable or brings impatience. How would it feel to hang out in that middle for a while? Actually feel the ambiguity and muddiness of it all? Jumping to anger or irritation is another quick fix. Giving up is a quick fix too.

Also mindfully ask your body how it feels about it. So often we want to skip over uncomfortable ideas because they bring uncomfortable sensations in the body. How would it be to hang out with those sensation for a moment or two? When we stay with a difficulty long enough to feel it, flexibility has the room to emerge. Oftentimes answers are right there waiting to be heard.

So I am not going to end this post by telling you if I bought the boots or not.

Nor will I tell whether I climbed the fifty yards or the whole mountain.

I am deliberately leaving it open. Notice the mind reacting to that! 😉

Live the ambiguity … love the flexibility … find the growth!

Happy trails … 💃🏻

Get this book NOW: Become Safely Embodied

March 14th, 2021

Ooh my friend Deirdre’s book is still available for FREE. Grab it while you can. I can put my hand on my heart and recommend it. Deirdre held a space for me and handed me the skills to do so much healing. She is a huge part of the village it took to raise me (Happy My Many Mothers Day Deirdre! 💐Thank you!)

And I’m proud to say that I’ve completed the certification for using the Becoming Safely Embodied skills in my work and they form an important part of both my wellbeing coaching work and mindfulness teaching. So if you have any questions do get in touch. I’m always up for a chat about this!! I am loving this journey 💃🏻

My Many Mothers Day

March 13th, 2021

I’m thinking about Mother’s Day (tomorrow in the UK) and this is my first without my lovely Mum. My heart is breaking a little bit but it’s also full. She and I found a space in those last years where we could really understand one another. All the difficulties were let go. We saw each other as people or as much as that is possible between parent and child.

Tomorrow I will miss her and honour her. But I will also be honouring all those other mothers who taught me so much and nurtured me so much.

It took a village to get me to where I am and I am grateful to all who have raised me and re-mothered me, made safe space for me to soothe my trauma. Those other mothers in my memory include my friend’s mothers, mothers in law, wise friends, my sister in law, so many mentors, teachers and therapists. My heart feels full to burst as I reflect on those who guided me 💜

Happy My Many Mother’s Day! Thank you 🙇‍♀️💕

Feeling Safe and the Experience of Trust

February 13th, 2021

I’m thinking about trust at the moment and what informs that feeling of being safe with an individual or in a group or situation.

How do I know when I am experiencing trust? What is my mind like when I feel safe? What does my body feel like? What am I noticing in the other person or the group or the space?

How do I know when I am not feeling safe? What is that really like? What is happening inside, outside and around me?

What do I notice when I look back at those times where I felt trusting but that feeling of safety was misplaced? What can I learn from this so I can be more discerning and take better care of myself?

As ever it’s about slowing it right down. And it’s listening to myself deeply and really checking it out.

A strong felt sense is developing around trust and the experience of safety. My body relaxes. I feel more open. I feel warm and soft in my belly. My shoulders drop. My eyes soften. My mind slows down. It’s easy to relax further still. I am gentle with myself. My younger parts feel safe and connected. I breathe deeper and easier.

And lack of trust? My younger parts will be jumpy. My shoulders will be more tense. I feel pain or tension in my chest and my throat. My eyes are more jumpy. My thoughts are faster. I have less feelings of well-being in the moment, and settling myself is more of a doing than a being. My thoughts are more of judgement and non-judgement. There’s a whole lot more shoulds showing up in my thinking!!

So that’s a little of what I have learned about my felt experience so far of trust and non-trust.

And then there are the thoughts around trust. What do I need to see and hear and experience from others in order to trust?

Brené Brown has some great research on this with her B-R-A-V-I-N-G seven elements of trust:
Vault – keeping confidence

I’d love to hear your of trust and safety experiences too. 😊 🙏

Deciding not to hate

February 11th, 2021

Some days ‘go wrong’ real early. Sometimes I step into a trap. Sometimes I trust when my instinct tells me it’s not safe. Sometimes I am asked to share an opinion only so the asker can jump on it. Sometimes people just want someone to blame. Sometimes people pick a fight because they can’t have a hug. Sometimes people are too avoidant to reply to you. Sometimes they dump all their baggage on you. Sometimes people seem really scary. Sometimes I have to love them anyway just as they are. Sometimes I have to remind myself there is no point expecting anything different to what is. Some days I have to be my own best friend. Some days there is a lump in my throat the size of a grapefruit. Most of the time I choose not to hide my vulnerability. Sometimes that makes me a fool. Sometimes that gives people power. Some days, like this day, I have to work all this through from first principles, through all the pain and all the confusion and all the shit, and then decide not to hate anyway.

Good morning.

Wishing you a peaceful and safe day 🙏

Ruminating about Rumination

February 10th, 2021

What’s the difference between reflecting on past events and ruminating? I don’t know how many mindfulness teachers and supervisors I have asked about this and not yet had a useful answer. Today this feels a little frustrating.

I understand rumination is unhealthy but I am often asked to reflect. Sometimes I am told rumination is normal and the goal is to accept my mind does it. Sometimes people confuse the two terms so their answers make zero sense.

Perhaps it is something each individual brain must discover? In which case how do we know it is unhealthy?

In my practice I got to the point where I thought all reflection was rumination, so I avoided doing any. Trust me that was not a solution to anything!

There is more to mindfulness than simply coming back to the breath. There is more to life than simply coming back to the breath!!

I might be the ‘teacher’ but I am also still the student, learning and asking questions and still trying to figure this out as I go.

Any and all answers gratefully accepted 🙏

Failing that pictures of pets 😉

Letting the growing come … even in the darkest times

February 3rd, 2021

It may be hard right now. But trust that even in the very darkest times, change and growth is happening inside you. Just like a seed in the darkness under the earth, you are nourishing and nurturing and getting ready for something new to emerge and to flourish. Trust this.

Throughout our lives, we change and grow, and little-by-little we release the rules that kept us stuck.

Sometimes we grow out of other people along our journey, or they grow out of us. Sometimes we grow out of bits of ourselves, like a lizard shedding its skin.

Each layer is a loss that necessitates a process to mourn its passing. Of course, we don’t always notice what has gone, until one day we realise that whatever it was, good or bad, it has now past. And in that moment, don’t push it away or hide, be in that experience of loss, for this is the journey of your life, and you are living it.

As ever, don’t hold too tight to anything, just notice your hand closing to grasp something new, and then, as it releases its clasp, let go of what has gone.

Flow into your future unafraid, as the changes constantly hone the very best version of yourself. ♥️


Relationships & Mental Health

January 24th, 2021

I read this quote earlier and it just clicked: “the reason that distress in a relationship so often plunges us into inner chaos is because our hearts and brains are set up to use our partners to help us find our balance in the midst of distress and fear. If they instead become a source of distress, then we are doubly bereft and vulnerable.” – Dr Sue Johnson.

Feeling safe in relationship is such a gift. And it is a gift I have given to myself, but if you’re reading this you probably helped. Thank you.

I wasn’t safe in relationship before. I cried every day and for much of the day. People tried to get me to see what was happening, but I just couldn’t let it in. I was wilfully blind and it played into my childhood rule that goes: ‘if someone says or shows that they don’t love you, then you love them all the more and work all the harder at it.’

Boy did I work hard. In truth I drove myself crazy. I can remember the constant tension in my body, the agitation, the effort, the lack of a space to settle or to just be. There was no settling. Even sleep did not provide the rest that I desperately needed.

In truth, the same or similar is probably true for my former husband. I am sure it felt as bad and toxic for him. That’s his journey, not my business, but I accept that the other side of the experience was likely equally stressful and depleting. I can only speak of my own journey and it’s been long and painful. And so confusing.

Healthy relationships make a huge difference. I used to have just one person in my world. I often visualise this as fitting like a giant virus onto my attachment needs receptor, taking all the oxygen from the room and leaving very little space for me. It felt complete and abundant but also was so damaging and unsupportive. I felt criticised down to my bones, while I played mother to his needs and utterly neglected my own. And I needed people. There was a whole world of them out there and I couldn’t reach them. And I needed not to be chastised for needing that connection. I needed relationships to be plural not singular. For me that one person stood in the way of 7.8 billion. And I felt so guilty for wanting to connect with others besides him. Even as I am writing this I am worried that maybe you’re thinking I mean sexual partners or lovers outside marriage. No I just mean friends, acquaintances. To be able to say: ‘I met a nice lady at the shops today. We talked about the weather’ without getting that look or that lecture like I had broken my marriage vows. I was isolated. Social distancing and isolation during the pandemic is nothing like my life as it was.

Having relationships is healthy and, as I’ve discovered, it is essential to mental health. Gradually people populated my world. And again, I feel compelled to thank you for this. Whoever you are. (Even now, even if I don’t know you, this is still relating. Even if you’re thinking I’m the biggest arse on the planet, that is relating. And I am still grateful for it. I do think you’re wrong, mind, but that’s just my opinion. You are entitled to your own. And I love you for that too!)

For a long while, having other people in my world felt strange. I felt like I didn’t have enough spaces for them. Like each one needed a ‘slot’ or a ‘pigeon hole’ to fit into my heart. I worried constantly about forgetting people, letting people down, or not making enough effort. I even kept lists of names just in case someone I had met dropped off my radar. Gradually this feeling has subsided. Now people can flow in and out of my awareness and it seems easy to bring faces and hearts to mind. I feel grateful for every single one. You each had an impact that I value.

And I am grateful for something else which helped with the process. It was the worst pain I have ever felt: my kids cut off from me. For the largest part of 2019 I was alone. And I admit I was a wreck. People who met me that year will likely agree. I was like a tiny ship at sea on a huge turbulent ocean. To those people who stuck by me, even though I was such a shipwreck in the making, I am so deeply grateful. Sometimes people are going through huge things that we cannot see, and are definitely hard to be around. But if you can be the land that stays solid and stable while the little ship learns to steady itself, you have done a huge service to them. And I am learning in my own efforts to be that sturdy shoreline, that just being present is often healing enough.

So back to my kids. They gave me space to do that journey. They’d grown up seeing their mother as not quite a person, not self-actualised or whole. And they suffered too for having a mum that was never quite able to settle. Or at other times struggled to haul herself out of bed. If Mum can’t feel safety within herself, how can she offer safety to you?

So they knew I needed to go that journey alone, not just to switch my attachment to my kids instead of to my partner as so many of us are apt to do in midlife. And it was wise of my kids to look after themselves in that way too. It’s not their job to provide emotional support to their mother, and that is especially true where a mother is struggling to find her own sense of self. I am grateful that they looked after themselves. I learn so much about life and about boundaries and wholeness from them. Things my mother was never able to teach me. I feel guilty at times that my kids seem to be the teacher and I the student, but maybe that is how it always is as we go on this parenting journey, just as therapists have a parallel journey with their clients. We are all learning as we go. As Ram Das said: We are all walking one another home. In 2020 my youngest told me she hoped it would work out that I would find myself and that she is proud of me. I couldn’t be prouder of all of us!!

My sense of self came gradually during 2019. I gathered a piece here and a piece there. Many shorelines helping me along the way, as I put out to sea again and again, all the while learning to find that strength inside myself.

And one day it was there. My sails unfurled and I realised I felt for the first time in a long time like a person. ⛵️

Then about five minutes later, Covid and lockdown happened, but I am grateful that I had found that spark in those months before. And truthfully lockdown has only helped to ignite it into something that feels sustainable and self-sufficient.

And now relationships feel so nourishing, knowing that I can give and also receive. So many of my friendships before were paid ones – the nail technician, the yoga teacher, etc. There is nothing wrong with those relationships, but at the time I felt like I only had the choice to buy friendship. Now I realise the friendship came for free. I was the one putting a price on it, because I truly believed I had nothing to offer. Give and take is beautiful. Having friends I can rely on is so comforting. Having friends who rely on me feels wonderful. It’s all so nourishing and wholesome. It feels good!

And now I know: there is nothing to be ashamed of in seeking connection. In truth, if I hadn’t held the belief deep inside that needing others was somehow shameful, then my ex could not have fanned those flames with judgement that there was something wrong with me if I sought connection with other people. As if talking to a friend on the phone or sharing a good morning wave with a stranger was somehow a perverted and deceitful need. I laugh when I look back. It does take two to make a toxic relationship. I already had what he needed to hook into. I swallowed it willingly. It felt amazing when he was loving towards me, like our relationship was an impenetrable fortress. But it felt awful when I was alone behind those fortress walls. It was unhealthy and wrong, but I was a prisoner of my own love – which incidentally is what the plaque his sister gave us on our wedding day read. 😱

Now, I am happy to say that my relationships support my other relationships. My friends even get to meet each other! I feel part of many communities and those communities get to join together through me. Your vibe truly really does attract your tribe. I feel like I am surrounded in belonging.

I remember Deirdre teaching me to fill up the whole of myself, to take up the whole room. I hadn’t realised I was squashed into a corner inside my own psyche, my own body and my own home. (Thank you to her and Jack and all the community that I’ve met through them.)

Paul helped me to take back my home, to smudge the love from those communities all around my house. Yes I carried my laptop around all the corners with all your faces on the screen. You are all my sage!! (Thank you!)

Francis my therapist provided a secure gestalt at the same time every week of my fragile process. He knows me better than anyone else on the planet, probably including me! He has witnessed my change and my growth and kept me aware of my progress. (Sending out huge thanks to him across the ether as he is far too ethical to be reading this.)

All the Hakomi community made me so welcome. They are my family now. Finally a place to be that feels completely safe – and what’s more I know that if it didn’t feel safe I can bring that feeling and work with it.

My hypnotherapy and well-being coaching friends have been so supportive. My screenwriting friends have been stalwarts and they’ve witnessed me through some of my worst so huge kudos to them for sticking around!! I like to think that if nothing else I provided some fodder for writing their more insane characters! 😂

My school friends going way back – thank you. It’s been some journey hasn’t it? Just knowing you are there keeps me grounded.

And to one relationship in particular (who isn’t quite ready to come into the public eye just yet, but some of you may guess who he is) has been so steadying, so strong and nurturing, so wise and so vulnerable in equal measure, he has taught me what it really means to be loved – thank you!

Now I’m not saying my ship is completely steady, or that my crew is well trained or that the sails aren’t luffing about in the breeze at times. Or indeed that the boom doesn’t come about and smack me in the head and dump me in the ocean all too frequently. But I am beginning to feel seaworthy at long last. And I have a whole bunch of tools and resources to shiver me timbers to help me carry on. ⛵️(Ok ok I am letting the nautical metaphor go, it was useful but then it wasn’t. At least it may provide my ex with some nifty ‘my ex wife was a battleship’ jokes should he be reading this. If so, have at it, sir, and be on your way! I don’t feel any animosity but may we keep our distance from now on.)

My divorce came through last week. I am finally – and legally – a whole me.

And I’ve never really been one of those before.


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