Beat

It’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week and I’m supporting the #sockittoeatingdisorders campaign by @beat.eating.disorders.

I was anorexic (and briefly bulimic) the year I turned 15, and I still remember the trigger which was a throwaway comment from my gymnastics coach about how I’d put on weight. I lost nearly 20% of my body weight over that year, could no longer sit without pain as I had no fat left, and my hands could encircle my waist. I recovered and avoided hospitalisation through lots of love from family and close friends. I am no longer anorexic, having learnt to actually love food while at University and in the intervening years to finally love myself too. Which is a good thing, because a few years ago someone in the queue behind me at work commented quietly about me, “So she does eat after all.”

Beat provides support, tackles barriers to desperately needed treatment, and challenges the stigmas around eating disorders. Education and understanding is important – a thoughtless comment in itself might not normally have much significance, but when you’re already battling several psychological factors, sometimes the combined heft is enough to push you over the edge.

So everyone, please be aware, be kind, take care with your words and don’t be afraid to be there to support people when they fall.

You can support Beat in this important work too. If you’re in the UK you can easily donate directly from your mobile phone by texting the code UAUA05 followed by your donation amount to 70070 – for example, to donate £10 text: UAUA05 £10

To anyone who’s battling right now: talk to someone. It’s possible to recover and you are worth the fight.

Goodbye 2017, hello 2018

A year ago today, I bid goodbye to my year of crisis. In 2016 depression got the better of me and I spent the rest of the year hauling myself back to a better place. I learnt lots of things, including how to take much better care of myself. Like how not to take things personally, leaving work in the office, knowing when to say no, making micro-resolutions, not sweating the small stuff, and embracing lots of new experiences. I started playing rugby and running regularly, joined a choir and dabbled in acro yoga, and attended my first music festivals and live gigs.

2017 has been kind to me, and I’ve been kind to myself. I’ve been altogether more sanguine about life. I completed my postgraduate qualification in career development and coaching, then took the plunge with a year-long work sabbatical. In just two months since leaving the 9-5 in October, I’ve launched Quiet Space, established a website and social media presence, networked, designed and developed programmes, and learnt so much about business development, branding, sales and marketing. None of this has actually felt like work, because I finally feel like I’m doing what I should be. And above all – I’ve been proud to be part of the transformational journey of my amazing clients.

I have lots of plans for 2018, but for now I’m looking back to appreciate all the things I’ve achieved. I’m proud of myself, and enormously thankful for all the love of my family and friends, who’ve gotten me through it all.

Look back on 2017 and see just how far you’ve come. Notice what skills you’ve learnt. The insights you’ve had. The people you’ve helped. The new experiences you’ve embraced. The challenges you’ve faced head-on. The friendships you’ve made. You are amazing. I guarantee it.

I wish you all an amazing 2018. Love is louder than all of it.

Show them you’re worth it

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Just a few days left of 2017; time to do a final bit of soul-searching!

What were your adult relationships like this year? Were they a healthy meeting of minds; a set of equal partnerships? Or did you fear what others were saying about you? Did you feel judged? Were you a doormat?

If you want people to treat you differently, first you have to show them how you should be treated. Start by looking inward. Healthy relationships start with you being whole and valuing your worth. You need to realise your value and start to treat yourself differently before you can show the world you’re worth it.

I’ve been there. It’s hard. But I’m here to show you that it is absolutely possible. Come follow me and let’s be awesome together in 2018!

With love, Natalie x

Reclaim your freedom

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Too many of us have minds that never stop working and bodies that don’t work enough. Reclaim your balance and your freedom. Move. Find your mental quiet.

Coaching on the Run

 

This is me and my running buddy, Maria, on one of our favourite routes. We started running together in January 2016 and have since shared rather a lot of miles, not to mention laughs, tears, and confidences. We’ve compared bruises; talked about kung fu and rugby, religion, politics, relationships and much more; and supported each other through a mental health crisis, relationship problems and work woes. She is an amazing woman and mother whom I am very fortunate to be able to call a friend.

These photos were taken today on a gorgeous run, during which we talked about Gavin and Stacey and British Bake-Off, David Tennant’s red silk pants in Don Juan in Soho, Adrian Scarborough and Noel Fielding (although no one could actually remember his name), and also had a couple of rather exhilarating sprints.

Running’s been there in the times when things weren’t quite as jolly, too. Logging the miles, along with the supportive companionship, helped me stay sane and get the necessary headspace to deal with what life was throwing my way.

This is why I like to take my coaching clients outdoors for some of our sessions. Quiet Space’s Coaching on the Run programme brings a different dimension to the coaching process. The natural environment, distance from the stress of home or the workplace, physical exertion, more headspace – the combination can have a cathartic effect that can be a real kickstarter for coaching. Drop me an email at enquiries@quietspacecoaching.co.uk to find out more.

You don’t need to think of yourself as a ‘runner’ to reap the benefits that the outdoors can have for mental health and wellbeing – you can do any combination of walking, jogging or running and it doesn’t matter how slow or fast you go. A mile is a mile, and you’ve got this.

Self-care

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I’ve been thinking about self-care. The course of 2015/16 for me was a year of crisis, during which I learnt how vital it is to be nice to yourself. Everyone’s needs are different, but I thought I’d share some of the things that helped me recover my sanity and wellbeing.

1) Running and spending time outdoors
2) Singing in a choir
3) Leaving work in the office
4) Seeking out new experiences
5) Listening to lots of new music
6) Giving and getting hugs (and flowers!)
7) Not taking things personally
8) Knowing when to say no
9) Making micro-resolutions
10) And remembering:
– Not everything has to be excellent
– No one has everything sorted out
– Sometimes it’s all just stuff.

What do you do for self-care?

Pilgrimage

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In May this year, my 9 year-old son and I walked the Sarria to Santiago stretch of the Camino de Santiago. It was about a year after I’d had to take time off after having had a mental health crisis and going on pilgrimage was a decision made as part of a new direction and a resolution to embrace new experiences.

This photo was taken just before our final day’s walk into Santiago de Compostela – pilgrims nearing the end of this stage of their journey, hand in hand and stronger for it.

I think life is a pilgrimage. We rise each morning, fulfil what we need to fulfil, and take rest so that we can rise again the next day. Part of the beauty of life on the Camino is its simplicity. It’s a lesson for us all in this ever-more-complicated and cluttered normality – we need much less than we burden ourselves with. You don’t need to go on a physical pilgrimage to commence the same journey of discovery.

Crisis, discovery and reinvention

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2016 was a year of reinvention, sparked by a crisis that I’d been building up to since 2013. Hitting rock bottom can be the making of you, given time and space to heal, a little bit of determination, and someone to hold your hand.

One of the key things in my recovery was seeking out new experiences. We don’t figure out ways forward by sitting down and figuring things out. For me, some of those new experiences were joining a choir, going on pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, and starting to play rugby. I’ve just embarked on a year-long sabbatical to focus on what I have learnt brings me genuine fulfilment: helping people to reach their full potential through awareness, understanding, openness to learning, and action.

I like this photo because for me it epitomises doing things that you’d never normally expect of yourself. I’m often the smallest on the pitch, I’m far from being a good player, and I have loads to learn. But I’m going to get out there anyway, pushing the comfort zone (notably when it comes to tackles!), and remembering that you are often your biggest obstacle. You don’t need to be.