When wounds heal, they form scars

I’m going
through a phase of journalling a lot.
This happens sometimes; I can go for weeks without opening my Moleskine
then spend a month scribbling furiously.
Right now it’s the latter.  I’ve
written before about the power of journalling, with some tips and ideas (see here and here).  This included posting a picture of a page
from my journal listing ‘Things that make me happy’.  Turns out this is one of my most popular
posts, and it has been reblogged and liked and seen by numerous strangers.  If I think about too much, it is terrifying
to realise that so many people have glimpsed so deeply into my soul – but then
that is the purpose of writing, of blogging, of sharing.  Connection is what really matters in life.

has been a major theme in my Moleskine musings over the last week or so, thus I’ve
decided to be brave again and share directly from my journal (I’m currently reading
Brené Brown’s latest book, Rising Strong,
so her previous exhortation to ‘dare greatly’ is much on my mind).  The following short passage is something that poured
out from me yesterday, all in a rush, flooding the page with not just words but
difficult memories and strong emotions too.
Yet it was amazingly cathartic to say these things to myself.  As I finished the final sentence, I felt
compelled to share these words.  Today,
that urge remains, although it makes me feel hugely vulnerable.  But perhaps that is a good sign.  If these words helped me, then maybe they can
help others too:  

“I’ve got
scars, like everyone.  I’ve been hurt and
that will always leave its imprint.  But
I’ve worked hard and dug deep to heal those wounds so that now they really are
just scars, markings in the tissue of my being that I can trace and feel but no
longer flinch when they’re touched.  They
are there and they are real but they no longer hurt.”

We all have
wounds that we would like to heal, but even when they do we continue to carry
the scars.  And we can learn to live with
them and grow with them and even thrive with them.  

If this
post helped you in thinking about your wounds, or if you think it would help
someone else, then please do share it.
Connection is what stitches those wounds back together again.

And if you
would like to connect more with me and A
Life Of One’s Own
, there’s Instagram,
Twitter, Pinterest or the A Life Of One’s Own
Facebook page
.  Starting next week, there is also The Fourth Quarter, a gentle and informal group exploration of the treasures and meanings bound up in autumn and early winter.  All the details are here.

The announcement: not the one I was expecting.

I’d excitedly posted on social media the other day about a new group programme announcement coming at the end of the week.  Here it is.  It isn’t the announcement – or the programme – that I was expecting to make…

I had
developed a group programme under the title The
Fourth Quarter: use the time that remains
I was excited about, thinking about the different ways it might help
participants.  I put out a few announcements.  I even put all the bits of paper in their own plastic folder, a definite sign that
this was real and happening.

It would
have been a good programme, I’m sure.
But…you knew there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you?  But it felt out of sync.  The material was strong but ran contrary to
where I am in my own life.  Right now I’m
all about nestling down, whereas the programme was about gearing up.  After an intense few months of work and
travel, I’m craving quiet nights under a blanket with a good book – a retreat,
not an expedition.  Whilst I knew I could
do a good job, I began to wonder if I’d be at my best if the programme’s
purpose was out-of-step with the ethos I’m channelling at the moment.

original plan also felt a little out of sync with what A Life Of One’s Own is all about.
Not contradictory or in opposition, just at a different angle by a few
degrees.  Lots of coaches could deliver
similar material.  Cerebrally I liked it
a lot, but it didn’t resonate deep down in the way 24 Days Before:
an advent journey
(my previous group programme) had.

deeply authentic material by some of my favourite fellow-travellers on this
exploring/writing/coaching journey made me pause the preparation process.  A beautiful offering from Sas
, a heart-warmingly honest missive from Susannah Conway, a thought-provoking blog post from Courtney Carver,
a blossoming community with Tori’s Tales
#talesofseptember Instagram challenge: these made me stop and think this this is what I want to do, want to offer, want to create – things
that touch people on a deeper level.
This is what A Life Of One’s Own is
about, this is where I want to get back to.

In the
spirit of my latest read, Brené Brown’s new book Rising Strong, I wanted to be open
and honest about this change of heart.
It makes me feel very vulnerable saying ‘I wanted to do this but now I’ve
changed my mind.’  The story I’m telling
myself (to use Brown’s phrase) is that you’ll think I’m at best a dilettante,
playing at self-help and navel-gazing, and at worst incompetent, not having a
clue what I’m doing.

I hope not,
dear readers.  I hope that you recognise
that this kind of work is always in progress, never complete, never
perfect.  I am working to create a product
– and more broadly a practice – that gives voice the deepest parts of my inner
life and in doing so speaks to yours.  My
original design and concept for the group programme was a good idea, but it did not do that.

And now the
instead…Instead I’m putting out there a much softer programme.  The Fourth Quarter
remains as a title, but this comes from a different place.  The Fourth Quarter now
is about scaling back, toning down, sinking deep.  It’s about growing in one another’s company,
hence the new subtitle: let’s
spend it together

With three
quarters of the calendar year now almost past, The Fourth
is about using the time that remains in 2015 to embrace the
seasons around us.  Let’s show up for
autumn, and then for winter too.  Rather
than simply trudging through the darker nights and trying to ignore the cold, let’s
work with this time of year to make it our own – a period with meaning.  

I was out
of sync and now am getting in line simply with where I am and where the world
around is.  I invite you to join me in
doing the same.

information about The Fourth Quarter: let’s
spend it together
is available here.

Last night, I wrote a long and heartfelt blog post about Brene Brown and “I Thought It Was Just Me” and sex and shame and vulnerability. As my train pulled into the station, I saved it into crafts. Or at least I *thought* I had saved a draft. This morning I’ve come to edit the post, only to discover that it hadn’t saved. Nothing. No trace of the post anywhere. All those words, all that emotion, all that trying to share my story, all gone.

Is it a sign? Maybe it’s a timely reminder, should I begin to get smug, that I still have a look long way to go on my blogging journey. I certainly have a lot to learn on the technology side; as well as how to save draft posts, there is the frustrating matter of how to insert hyperlinks into text written in the Android app version of Tumblr (if anyone knows the answer, please tell me!). There are lessons about over sharing as well. How much is too much? Perhaps my lost post was too much.

So I will keep on. Keep on writing and learning and sharing (mindful of boundaries). Keep on, like the little tugs chugging up and down the Thames.

One Person (Me) / Multiple Careers (Maybe)

Last week, I re-read Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection.  In it, she mentions Marci Alboher’s book One Person / Multiple Careers and I decided to look it.  The book’s blurb states that it is ’essential reading for anyone who is loathe to answer “What do you do?” with a singular definition’.  Whilst I would hesitate to use the word loathe, I certainly struggle to answer this question.  Usually I just say that I’m a historian, which is true but doesn’t quite seem to really reflect how I spend a lot of my time or the work that I identify with.  

Reading One Person, which I did in two straight sittings, I realized that I’m not alone in my dilemma.  Lots of people feel similarly and others have forged a path, with the book drawing on these examples to provide some useful tips and pointers for developing multiple careers.  Crucially, Alboher doesn’t offer a ‘one size fits all’ solution.  On the contrary, she emphasizes the varied ways in which multiple careers can develop and the different forms that they can take.  

It was inspiring to read about others’ experiences.  It was also fascinating to learn about people’s self-definitions.  In particular, I was intrigued by those who identify most strongly with activities that don’t actually pay, or aren’t the means by which they earn their living.  I’ve always considered these areas of my life as more like hobbies, but what if they form part of what one views as one’s life’s work?  What if those things are what we were born to do, and the stuff we are paid for is just a way to cover the bills?  What effect would re-defining them have?  

As if on cue, a conversation with my five year old niece in the last few days revealed that she thought my Quaker meeting is where I go when I am at work.  An interesting perspective that added to my sense of needing to rethink and redefine how I classify different aspects of my life.  I initially assumed this would involve exploring what I want to do, but maybe reconsidering what I do already would be equally as enlightening.  Rather than viewing multiple careers as something I’m striving towards, maybe I’ll see that it is already my way of working. 

Wholehearted Living

Last night, I spent a very contented few hours sitting on my bed continuing to re-read Brene Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection”. Yesterday morning, I posted about how much Brown’s writing has influenced me and shared her definition of love, which comes near the beginning of the book. As I settled down to sleep later the same day, a passage from towards the end of the book rang in my ears and my soul. I thought I would share this quotation too:

“However afraid we are of change, the question that we must ultimately answer is this: What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?

Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It’s about cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

A great way to end the book; a great way to end the day.

The Gifts of Imperfection

Last week, I issued a book amnesty, whereby I declared that I had stopped reading any of the books I was currently part way through. It was such a relief from the self-imposed guilt of a half finished pile! With a clean slate in place, I had the joy of beginning to re-read Joanne Field’s “A Life of One’s Own”, from which this blog is named, over the weekend. Also over the weekend , I had a conversation about favourite books. Always hard to pick one, or even a handful, but I straightaway cited Brene Brown as an author who has really influenced me. Barely a day goes by when I don’t think of something she writes about in “Daring Greatly” or “The Gifts of Imperfection”. It’s no exaggeration to say that they’ve been life-changing reads (I guess this is a sign that I should read her other book, “I thought it was just me”, soon too!).

One of the things I like most about Brown’s writing is that she takes seemingly nebulous concepts and gives very precise definitions that she’s worked up from her research into shame and vulnerability. In particular, I like her statement about love, which has helped me to explore what it means to me. How can we ever know what love is? Are we “in love”? Are we loved? Big, challenging, scary questions, but her short definition has provided a guidepost when searching for answers.

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honour the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.

Love is not something that we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivates between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows.
Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed, and rare.”

Brene Brown, “The Gifts of Imperfection”, p26