Style Coaching Session 3

It’s been a couple of weeks since my third Style Coaching session with Kim: Christmas has come and gone, and today hails the end of one year and the start of another. According to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar and prophecies, we have entered a new era of consciousness. I can’t speak for the Mayans, but I can say for sure that I am changing.

One of the beliefs that I have become aware of through the coaching process is an insidious little monster: Change won’t last. This belief has the potential to undermine any action I take, undoing newly tied laces of change and keeping me firmly on track to destinations of old. One glance at my life over the last ten years or so smashes that belief into a thousand smithereens.

Am I the person I was at the start of the century? Am I unchanged? Of course not.

Well then: long-lasting change may not be easy, it may come and go away again, but like anyone who has been truly determined to transform, who has fully committed that they want this new path more than they want the old one, change will come, and it will become solid, dependable, real. It is possible to choose a different way of thinking and of living. I’ve seen loads of inspirational people around me do this in so many ways.

This, I think, is perhaps the secret to any change in life – to giving up smoking, or eating sugar, to starting to exercise and doing it consistently, to learning a language, to being in a relationship – you have to want the new outcome more than you want the old one. When you do, you set out on an entirely different kind of path which leads in a completely new direction.

So begins session number three with Kim. Actually, that’s not quite true. The very beginning of the session involves me oohing and ahing over Kim’s eyeliner, a sultry purple, and her informing me that yes, this colour would indeed suit me, too. Kim checks in with me about whether I believe I can change, and I am able to firmly answer her, “Yes”. It’s already happening.

We spend some of the session honing my goals for the coaching process, which gives everything a sense of solidity and reality. I am really doing this. Dates and details are getting firmed up, and with Christmas around the corner, my requests to my sisters for gifts are very Style Coachingy – clothing vouchers, make up brushes and electric blue nail polish. I am delighted when I receive all three.

My new nail polish (but, ahem, not my nails)

My new nail polish (but, ahem, not my nails)

I’ve written in previous posts about the shame I’ve carried for years about not knowing how to be a woman in terms of grooming and so on. Kim talks me through nail care in our third sesh together; there’s so much more to it than I wanted to acknowledge. The old sense of fear kicks in around having to spend more money and time on it than I want to. The choice however is this: carry on doing very little in the way of self care in that area and keep criticising myself; carry on doing very little but change my thinking (very hard when you’re still doing the old behaviour – acceptance, acceptance, acceptance); try something new and think the old thoughts; OR try something new and think something new! I’ll go for option 4, please Bob (any Blockbusters fans out there?). We set a bunch of mini goals around me getting some base coat, top coat and cuticle cream. Sticking to them is harder. By New Year’s Eve I still haven’t got the base coat or top coat, and massaging my cuticles (aka my cutes from now on) has fallen by the wayside. Kim even wanted me to throw away my cuticle scissors, which look like an instrument of torture I must say. I am reluctant – and sorry to admit that they’re still in my make up box. Just in case of emergencies. I haven’t used them though, promise!

The Scissors of Doom

The Scissors of Doom

I’ve got another new goal involving Nige and an energy I want to call into my life… one area I’ve shied away from a lot is glamour and sexiness. I’ve just felt so uncomfortable with it. Kim said something very innocently that has stayed with me: “I’d always rather be overdressed than underdressed”. The stark difference of her attitude to mine has really stood out for me in recent weeks, and I’m starting to make a lot of changes in how I dress.

And people are noticing. I’m getting a fair few comments on how I look, on the changes I’m making to my make up and clothes. A gorgeous perfume makes its way into my life at Christmas. Hubby and I discover a new vintage shop in Darwen, Lancashire, and I fall in love with about six different things; Nige, who has really supported my process, offers to get me something for Christmas, and suddenly I have a wicked 80s mohair cardigan with huge batwing arms and a chunky plastic link bracelet with heart charms dangling off it in all my favourite colours to my name. I treat myself to a vintage 80s skater style skirt with deep front pockets in a nautical map print. This * is * fun.

My new watchwords, against which I am making my clothing choices are: Creative, Dramatic, Feminine. If it doesn’t fit into one of those categories, for the time being it ain’t getting in. I’ve done simple and natural for a lot of years and it’s time for a sea change.

I’ll close by saying that my old adage of ‘Can’t be bothered’ is fast becoming, ‘Be bothered’. And I am loving every minute of it. Right, off to take the old nail polish to get ready for a smashing New Year’s night out in another new purchase, a gorgeous feminine and rather dramatic frock.

Kim, working with you is rocking my world. xxx

For more information on working with Kim, call her on +44 7876 781 802

The Linguistic Genius of Babies

This is a fascinating watch for ten minutes. I think there are a lot of implications for the future which need careful consideration; us humans are always trying to know and understand everything, but in unethical, power-hungry or purely ‘scientific’ hands (detached from the innately interpersonal nature of our being), this knowledge can be very dangerous indeed.

Watch in awe, but ask questions too.

Au Revoir, 2012!

Despite my ego’s criticism of the formulaic predictability of reviewing the last twelve months as this year draws to a rainy, grey close, I am going to put down my highlights of the last twelve months anyway. Just because a lot of people are doing it, doesn’t make it any less sacred or important for me to do, too.

So, here is my year…

  • Married beautiful Nige, and planned our wedding in 37 days.
  • Papa Bear's speechHoneymooned in Italy – beautiful. Those 7am swims were glorious.
  • Choreographed Acorn Antiques for Henfield Theatre Company. I stuck with it even when I really didn’t want to.
  • Rode two sportives on my bike.
  • Rode my first ever 20% climb in Surrey.
  • Set a PB on Botolphs.
  • Supported Nige in his sportives, and cheered Claire along on her amazing 10k run.
  • Worked all year as an English teacher, meeting so many incredible people who touched my heart.

RAFO guys on their last day

  • Worked privately with English clients.
  • Started Learn English with Elloa on Facebook, on this blog and via my newsletter.
  • Edited and published 5 editions of The Ripple, Clearmind’s quarterly magazine.
  • Edited and published Graham’s book, How to be a Productivity Ninja, which got to number one on Amazon and got lots of 5 star reviews.

Went to Prague, Vienna, Rimine, Berlin, and of course Liverpool 😉 Vienna

  • Assisted an Awakening workshop. Life-changing.
  • Stayed connected with Nige throughout the year, getting to know him more, and letting him know me.
  • Strengthened my friendships with Lian, Liz, Helene and Anna – love you girls.

Friends of a very happy bride

  • Started writing a workshop with Nige. (Interested? Email me!)
  • Rode 1,500 miles on my bike.
  • Trained really well in the first quarter of the year.
  • Started my diploma in teaching.
  • Applied and was accepted to speak at the IATEFL conference in April.
  • Decided to do Drawing Down the Moon workshop, committed and paid.
  • Decided to do Prac and committed by putting it ‘out there’.
  • Started Style Coaching with Kim and have made huge progress (watch this space for the next installment!).
  • Had lots of fun dates with Nige including Pulborough Brooks nature reserve, tea rooms, Nandos, cinema trips, beach walks, amateur theatre, butterfly house and lots of lovely meals out.

Best mates and mighty companions

  • Went to Kiara’s birthday party and saw her again at the mind body spirit festival in Brighton.
  • Meditated every day for the last 5 or six weeks.
  • Did ACIM lessons 1-29 every day for the last 29 days.
  • Spoke to my maternal Granny for the first time in years, went to my Grandma’s 80th birthday party, and finally had that meal with Nige and Julie.
  • Had Sage to stay in January.
  • Roadied for Nige over Christmas.
  • Edited Kick Ass Fridays for Nige and put his website together.
  • Siblings met each other for the first time ever. Wow!

Disappointments

  • Didn’t save any money.
  • Put weight on towards the end of the year.
  • Re-allowed sugar into my life.
  • Didn’t see as much of my family as I’d have liked to.
  • Didn’t see my friends enough.
  • Jema and Rebecca… miss you both.

Looking ahead… What is 2013 for?

  • TRUST. Trusting that Spirit’s got my back, that things are unfolding perfectly.
  • Spiritual practice is non-negotiable. Daily meditation is to be as much as part of my life as breakfast and breathing.

That’s it for me in terms of intentions. I am keeping it really simple. I want God to be at the centre of my life. I may do a 10 day Vipassana silent meditation; I may not. I may write a book; I may not. I may blog; I may not. But one thing I am committing to is walking my path with God, Love and remembering the truth at the forefront of my consciousness.

What about you, dear one – how has your year been?

And what are you taking into 2013?

Love you. Thank you for being you.

Elloa xx

Style Coaching Session 2

Session 2, 5th December 2012

This morning’s coaching session with Kim was really good fun, and I use that word lightly, with an energy of playfulness. This is something of a minor miracle for me; fashion has not been synonymous with fun in my world over the last twenty years or so. It’s been stressful, full of comparison, inadequacy, needing to be approved of, constriction, confusion and frustration. No wonder I have scoffed and scorned at fashion mags, students and trends – my overarching experience has been one in which my stress levels increase, my adrenal glands get exhausted and I generally wind up feeling crap about myself.

I am aware that the outfit I wear to the session doesn’t necessarily fit with the colours work we did last week. My 1980s black and magenta batwing jumper with silver threaded through it isn’t a perfect match for my colouring, but it is oh so Elloa and I genuinely love it. That, I know my coach would say, makes it perfect. It comes in handy, too; in one exercise, I explore and discover what my Style Personality is, and vitally, what it has the potential to be, my £5 vintage store find from a couple of years ago aids me in completing the task. This exercise with Kim is actually really enjoyable; the sort of thing I would have hated to do on my own because of the potential it had to confuse me even further ended up being a positive experience of trusting my gut feelings, voicing things I haven’t admitted to before, and to allowing myself to be the centre of another person’s attention. As a teacher, I’m usually so focused on other people and their process, and it feels like a huge act of self-love to allow myself to be seen and heard in this way.

Prior to doing the above exercise, Kim and I review my mini goals from last week, and I am proud to report that I actually went into Boots and booked a seasonal skincare checkup at one of the make up/skincare counters. I have never done this before in my life; the women on those counters have always seemed like a foreign entity to me, almost clinical in their white tabards, their faces caked in artificiality which has always served to help me justify exactly why I’ve never approached them. ‘I don’t want to look like that has actually been a neat little defence, a cover for the underlying thought: ‘I’m ashamed to go and speak to them because I don’t know how to be a woman, how to take care of myself. If I approach them, acknowledge them or speak to them, these women, these made up sales girls will see that in me and another layer of shame will be caked onto my being. Even ten times the amount of make up they wear couldn’t hide my shame.’ Woah. That gunk is much heavier than even the heaviest of theatrical make up. Time to change my mind, methinks.

Where did this fear and preconception come from? What did I learn from mum about being a woman? Mum wore a bit of make up, and had perfume (Chanel No. 5, as I recall), and strings of faux pearls decorated her dressing table. As a little girl I used to adore hunting through her jewellery boxes and make up bags, examining the blushers, powders, mascaras and lipsticks. It wasn’t like my mum was unfeminine. But I don’t really remember doing much with her, or learning much from her about how to apply make up, what colours suited me, how to play with it and when to wear it. I learned what I learned from Bliss, Sugar, Cosmopolitan, More, New Woman and Marie Claire. I rarely did anything with female friends – one makeover experience when I was twelve or thirteen left me feeling so vulnerable and ashamed because I didn’t know if the two girls in my class – not quite friends – had humiliated me or made me look beautiful when they did my make up. I couldn’t tell if I looked good or looked like a clown. What was their intention? This two-hour episode has etched itself somewhere deep onto my psyche and I’ve never really done much with friends ever since.

I also remember another time, when I was living in Australia, where I went to a counter and asked for some tips on my skincare routine. I was 22 years old, fresh faced and beautiful and the woman ‘helping’ me was in her fifties. She launched a tirade of judgment on my un-made up skin, and I blushed crimson and wanted the ground to swallow me up in one gobble. It’s not surprising, I now realise, that I have such an aversion to beauty counters.

I’ve also been noticing different browns this week and have begun to be able to discern browns that are muted and cool, which would suit me. Suddenly, I find myself wanting to try on a colour that I have previously declared I “don’t wear”. This process is fantastic! Change, which keeps all things fresh and new, is breezing through my life on a daily basis at the moment.

I study A Course in Miracles which advises scrutinizing every value and belief that you hold and asking yourself if it is helpful or not. The Course says that there are two thought systems in the world – one based on love, the other on fear – and that we live by one or the other of these thought systems at any given moment. If a thought is rooted in fear, it will only generate more of itself. Conversely, a loving thought will generate more love.

Some fearful beliefs that I have been carrying for years have come straight to the surface through the process of Style Coaching, rising to the top of my consciousness, ready for examining, questioning and letting go of. One of these is that I am undeserving of enjoying fashion, that fashion and clothes are something other women can enjoy but which I am excluded from. Another belief is that I don’t know how to be a woman. A third is that change won’t last. These are powerful and have the potential, if left unspoken and unexamined, to undermine the whole coaching process.

I think that in some ways, I missed out on certain rites of passage when I was a teenager and young woman, for lots of different reasons (family situation, anorexia, self-hatred and so much shame). I have carried a deep belief that I am less of a woman because of it, or am defective as a woman in a number of ways. I don’t know if I consciously expected these beliefs to surface during coaching, but I’m very grateful that they’ve appeared because now I can take responsibility for my thinking and take steps to transform my beliefs into something more positive.

I sense that there is a lot to undo in how I see myself in this area of my life. The ball is rolling and I have more homework to do this week to keep the momentum up. I’m excited because I painted my nails this evening for about the third or fourth time this year, which must be a record. I also put some nice eye make up on today, still subtle, not doing anything new or experimental (yet – although I have now owned to another human being that this is definitely something I’d like to play with) but for two minutes worth of effort, it delivers a lot of positive vibes that last all day long.

I feel genuinely excited about stepping into my Elloaness. Perhaps style, fashion, clothes and how I dress really could be part of how I express myself and play with my creativity. Perhaps I too am entitled to that experience; it isn’t just something that other women can have, but not me. For a long time I think I’ve tried to deny to myself that this is even important, and yet I have been unable to state with conviction that I have felt happy, confident and, well, fully me. Perhaps, starting today, that is all going to change… Perhaps, in fact, it already has.

P.S. I painted my nails after writing this post!
IMG_0742

Style Coaching Session 1

Session 1, 28th November 2012

Excited about my first session with Kim this evening. Hair, clothes, make up, shopping, how I feel about my clothes and wardrobe, the physical space I keep them in and my relationship with myself in these areas isn’t something that I really ‘struggle’ with, but it is there every day, a mild discontent tingeing the edges of my day, day in, day out.

I learn a lot in this initial session: Firstly, we talk boundaries, outline of the sessions and clarify what my priorities are. We settle on the areas of style, grooming (to include hair, nails, make up and skincare), shopping (mostly of the window kind at the moment) and finally, an overall theme or thread running through everything: femininity. I almost forget how to spell the word, which is pretty symbolic of my disconnection from it in my life.

Kim tells me that because of my fairly ‘structured’ shoulders (love that word!), I am, according to Style Coaching, an hourglass shape. Very flattered to be considered in the same grouping as Marilyn Monroe, although I know that Style Coaching shapes are different from the traditional ones that are used in women’s mags. Nevertheless, I feel pleased that there isn’t work to be done on balancing up my physique; I can simply choose clothes that emphasise my features and that I love.

I also learn that my colours are primarily muted, and secondly cool. The note to self that I have known all my life (apart from one unforgettable mistake in California) is, “Orange = bad”. I can get away with some reds, some pinks, but am definitely on the green/blue/violet/brown/grey end of the spectrum

It’s time to set some goals – eek. Making it real, concrete and clear through setting goals really hammers home that I am truly engaging in this bold act of self-care. My four goals are:

1. Style: To find my true sense of style with a big injection of Elloaness!

2. Grooming: To explore and experiment with grooming.

3. Shopping: To play with window shopping, looking at colours and putting myself into expensive clothes and shoes.

4. To embrace femininity.

Meeting these goals will be an act of demonstrating my self-worth, playing and developing self-confidence, and giving myself the freedom to choose how to dress and show up in the world from a place of creativity, joy and self-expression rather than a dread and sense of stuckness.

The session brings up some really interesting questions for me: What does femininity mean to me? I have garish pictures involving pink, fluff and American beauty-queen style pageants running through my mind, clashing noisily with feminism, interspersed with various dances and the image of Woman they portray – Argentinean Tango, Charleston, Waltz.

How would it be to wake up one day and decide that I was going to have a fifties style day, or just wear bright pink lipstick because I felt like it, or chose not to wear make up but had electric blue nails? (Answer: really, really cool.)

I’m given four pieces of homework and sent on my way. In seven days’ time I need to have done free writing on femininity, been to the counter in Debenhams/Boots and got free samples of skincare products and if possible, make up, collected and started thinking about shades of brown (brown!) in order to explore warm and cool colours – if you can do it with brown, you can do it with the other colours too, apparently: who knew?! – and finally , done an exercise on self-limiting beliefs.

So, Style Coaching has gotten off to a fabulous start. Having voiced my fears – that I can’t go and try on expensive clothes because I’ll be judged just like Julia Roberts was in Pretty Woman (even though I’m not, ahem, a hooker), has already helped to dispel them, and I feel freer already.

Give me three months and I reckon I’m going to be more confident, more stylish and more comfortable in my own skin than ever before.

Isn’t life fun?!

Twenty-eight, twenty-nine

This post was written on July 14th, 2012.

I woke with a bolt this morning, body and mind jolting me into consciousness simultaneously. “I made it!” I thought excitedly and with a dawning freshness that comes from realizing that the slate is indeed clean. “Twenty-nine.”

Today is my birthday. Perhaps it was the coffee I drank at 5pm yesterday, but more likely it was the awareness in my mind and body that today, fourteenth July 2012, marks an important milestone for me. I’m not the kind of person to make a big deal of birthdays externally – I’m pretty lax when it comes to even getting a card to my nearest and dearest on their days, let alone a present, and I rarely do anything special or ‘big’ to celebrate my own day.

However, one thing is sure: I will take time to reflect, connect with myself and zoom out for a moment, getting a bird’s eye view on my life, going back and marvelling for a while, and giving myself a jolly good pat on the back for everything I’ve achieved and what I’ve come through, both in my life and over the last year. It’s an organic process; my waking up at 4.30am today wasn’t consciously intended, but it somehow seems inevitable. As I nodded off last night, the clock nearing the chime of twelve, I bid au revoir to the closing of the last twelve months. ‘Goodbye, 28’… and into dreamland I went.

Twenty-eight.

Twenty-eight was pretty darn good to me. I told Nige as we said our goodnights that if I were to die at this point in my life, that I would feel satisfied with it. I’ve had a good innings and I already feel a sense of completion. I wouldn’t be dying with regrets on my lips and heaviness in my heart. I’ve overcome enough obstacles in my life, have woken up on thousands of days and have wanted to live my purpose, have lived spontaneously and expressively, have loved, been heartbroken, and have gone on a journey of the soul to reclaim my wounded childhood self that has been so painful, so challenging and so integrity building that I know that I have already been, seen, felt and done enough. If I weren’t to wake up this morning, I thought last night, I would be really okay with that.

There is an immense freedom in this. I don’t feel bound by the weight of things not yet achieved. No house? So what. No public recognition of my outstanding achievement to humankind? I don’t need to prove my worth, thank you very much; my life is precious beyond description and I have made an enormous impact simply by trying to move through the umpteen layers of fear that have paralysed me and return to, and then extend, love. So I haven’t spent the last ten years building a high flying corporate career for myself. But I have come to a place where I know – or perhaps sense is a better word – in my whole body, that I’m where I’m meant to be when I’m teaching. And along the way I’ve worked in artificially lit offices, have travelled to Hong Kong, have waited on tables and served pints, have stacked and cleared and merchandised, weeded and punctuated and scrubbed, and have been disappointed many a time by the words, ‘We regret to inform you that your application’…

Twenty-eight.

You’ve been good to me. I met you at a time of internal turmoil, my life at a crossroads, my visibility lost. I didn’t know how to take a step forward. I only knew where I had come from was where I didn’t want to be. No more spreadsheets. No more pretending. No more sales targets. No more stress imposed from a job I don’t love in the very marrow of my being.

I didn’t know what I stood for in terms of tangibles; I only knew what I didn’t want. And so, I gardened. I returned to teaching. I edited. I wrote articles for a fledgling fashion-based business, duping them into thinking I was actually a fashion conscious young professional. And slowly, my professional life fell into place. I did a 30 day challenge, choosing one project and focusing on bringing it to life in thirty days. I started a women’s circle, and became overwhelmed with the old, familiar mindtrap – do they like what I’m doing? Do they like me? Am I good enough? I’m not qualified to do this. I’m not confident in what I have to offer. I’m less than. I’ve lost all desire to do it. The circle fell away, and a sense of disappointment set in; once again, I had bottled it, driven more by my deep beliefs about myself than by my heart. In the process, I learnt that I have a big impact on people, especially women – my choosing not to run a group one week left a lovely lady feeling vulnerable and abandoned, as she had turned up for the first circle two weeks prior to that and had poured her heart out into the space, making it truly sacred. I found out that another lady in the circle didn’t plan on coming again, and my confidence was shattered. I let myself draw all the conclusions and in the process, hurt another human being, someone who genuinely needed the space I was offering.

I forgive myself and move on.

Teaching English as a foreign language jumps back into my life in the form of a hectic summer school job. It ends in August, as these things do, so it’s quite a surprise to find myself teaching at a new school in October, November, December, January, February, March and April… and then returning to the first school for April to June before coming ‘home’ to Regent Brighton again in July. I realise how much I adore teaching and at the same time, how ready I am to step up, especially after running away from leading the women’s circle. I look ahead, take a breath and apply for a Masters in Applied Linguistics. I’m offered an unconditional place based on my application alone. I defer and accept a place on a hands-on, practical teaching Diploma instead. I begin teaching online. I discover Marie Forleo, and years upon years of lack of direction, confusion and inability to choose one thing for fear of missing out on something else fall away to reveal a clear, vivid vision of what I want to commit myself to. My own business: an online English language school. I start a newsletter and get great feedback. I pay a lot of money to do an online marketing course, about online marketing and running a business.

March 16th 2012

I get married. I should backtrack and say that in my twenty-ninth year, I first get a beautiful engagement ring that sets my heart alight as much as my love for the man whose existence is my reason for wearing it. Things get rocky when my goddaughter is born as the mother instinct is awoken in me, but it settles down again and the way ahead is clear – connection with my soulmate matters more to me than whether I will want a baby in a few years’ time or not. I stop trying to figure it out.

And, we get married. Our wedding is simply beautiful. Planned in a week, handled with care, rooted in love. A fabulous wedding night in the gorgeous Alexander House hotel. And a really difficult first month of marriage, but something which I think we both begin to settle into as the second month passes.

I edit a book. It is long, hard, stressful and in the end, an amazing accomplishment.

And right before my 29th birthday, I let go of sugar. My soul leaks out of my eyes on a daily basis, hot and salty. This is a dark night of the soul and one in which I meet myself. It’s decision time – live or die. I choose to live. I rescue myself, be my own saviour, my own best friend. It’s fucking difficult, but I do it.

At twenty-eight, I also start weight training and continue to ride my bike with a bit more determination, a bit more focus and a bit more skill. I enter my first sportive and struggle like crazy. I watch my friend run her first 10k and sign up for one myself. I pound out my anger on the streets of Steyning, pushing, breathing, speeding, willing myself to keep going, keep going, keep going. Don’t stop, don’t slow down. Gotta get there, got to be fast. My knees swell and hurt, reminding me that I’m not in control. I don’t run the race. I’m okay with that.

I celebrate ten years clean and sober.

I choreograph a musical (!).

With my newly betrothed, I go to Italy on our honeymoon. A week of riding carbon, climbing winding mountainous roads, eating and being with my best pal Nige. Bliss.

And July rolls around, and I turn twenty-nine.

As I look back on the last year of my life, I feel an incredible sense of happiness. I once read in a Louise Hay book the affirmation ‘All is well in my world’. This feels incredibly true for me right now. Life moves forward, and because of some internal sense that this piece wasn’t finished, I wait until September to publish this. But it’s never too late.

Today might be the first day of the rest of my life, just as it is for you, but have I really considered that it might also be the last?

One day. No, in fact, one moment: it’s really all we’ve got. So as I sit here at 5:56am, candle burning, green tea and dressing gown accompanying me, the darkness slowly lifting outside, I decide that it’s time to press publish. My reflections on being 28 are not perfect, but they’re good enough.

What is it that you would like to take the leap and give birth to, today? And will you join me in feeling the fear and saying YES to it anyway?

Love,

Elloa xx

How A Shower Changed My Life

Are you sitting comfortably?

Comfortably? Why yes, I hear you cry, and it feels rather lovely.

Well, that may not actually be a good thing.

Let me ask you this:

Do you want to be (merely) comfortable in your life?

Not thriving, passionate or living within a 100 mile radius of the Edge.

Just… comfortable. Sitting quite, quite comfortably.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? I mean, comfortable in my life means comfortable in my own skin – hell yeah! Gimme more of that.

But, hang on a minute… just plain ol’ comfortable?

Hm. I’m not so sure. Sounds rather bland, now that you mention it.

 

I’ve been reflecting. While comfortable is something I think I want, when it really comes down to it, I would rather be a million other things.

Alive, for example.

Or frustrated.

Challenged.

Stretched.

Frightened and doing it anyway.

In love.

Scintillated.

Aching from head to toe.

Breathless. Confronted. Inspired. Motivated. Alert. Moved.

Captivated.

Speechless.

But not comfortable. Or mediocre. Or just ‘fine’. Or (shudders), average.

Moody and pushed to my limits in Italy. Loving every moment – but definitely not ‘comfortable’.

Being average is one of my greatest fears, actually (all part of being a perfectionist).

And then you came along, Blog of Impossible Things, waking me from my living stupor, alerting me to the fact that life is here RIGHT NOW just waiting to be lived, tasted, touched, felt, experienced, grabbed hold of, basked in, held, caressed, stared fearlessly in the eye and, in the words of my personal trainer, grabbed by the scruff of the neck.

And grab it is exactly what I am doing.

DAY 4 of COLD SHOWER THERAPY

When I read about cold shower therapy the other day, something inside of me clicked. I knew in an instant that I had to try this thing. Showering in freezing cold water every day for 30 days? Sounds utterly crazy.

Sounds bloody amazing!

Joel’s article about how choosing to face the shower-head of fear every day provides a wonderful mirror for how you face your life, left me with no option: I had to dive in head first or else resign myself to a half-lived day/week/who knows how long. Having a history like mine, when you get the opportunity to live fully, believe me you grab it. Too many precious days have been lost to fear, self-loathing and self-destructiveness, and I find myself almost involuntarily propelled to live fully or find myself a prisoner to fear once again. A recent resurgence of binge eating has shown me the ‘life’ that my ego would have me live, and believe me, it is no life at all.

The ego or little mind promotes a fair few wares from its rickety stall:

Being right rather than being happy;

Independence;

Separateness and a sense of individual identity;

And definitely being comfortable.

This cunning, conniving monkey mind tries to convince you that being comfy is one of your life’s great missions, and I for one have drunk a fair few hundred lattes or cups of tea simply because I wanted that comforting feeling, because I couldn’t bear the ten mintue wait for a bus without something to consume, or because I felt ‘exhausted’ and ‘needed to rest’. It seems rather empty and sad to me this evening, that I have done this to myself for so much of my 29-year-old life.

No, this being comfortable lark isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Actually, on the contrary, being comfortable after facing a fear or a challenge (or something downright tough or horrible) far exceeds the experience of simply being comfortable.

A warm shower isn’t just ‘comfortable’ after a cold one – it’s sigh-inducingly blissful. A sofa isn’t just ‘comfortable’ after a 65 mile bike ride – it’s heaven. Bed isn’t just bed – it’s perfection made manifest. Living life at a cruise control temperature of ‘lukewarm but comfortable’ is NOT something I came to this planet to do.
So, on Sunday just gone, I took the plunge and welcomed the first intentional cold shower into my life.

And since then, amazing things have happened – or rather, I have stepped up and MADE amazing things happen:

– I’ve booked a holiday to Prague and Vienna for November with my dear and extremely lovely friend Lian.

– I’ve arranged to go to London on Saturday to see my beautiful, precious goddaughter and her incredible mummy and daddy.

– I’ve donated money to Pencils of Promise’s project to build schools to educate 1,000 of the 67 million children who don’t have access to education.

– I’ve taught courageously, open-heartedly and freely.

– I’ve signed up for the Brighton to Brighton 100 mile bike ride at the end of September. Gulp.

– I have kicked BUTT on my bike rides, training hard, pushing myself and being confronted with my wall again and again. I certainly am not Ironwoman but I do my best and something in me is toughening up, willing to be with the pain rather than quit as soon as it gets even a tiny bit tough and achy. I believe that this is going to pay huge dividends in my life, so much of which I have a tendency to cop out of.

– I’ve done two workouts and although I have been crap in terms of my mental strength with certain exercises, in other moments, I have worked out with the tenacity and determination of a true athlete.

– I have stayed off the crack sugar. My new mantra is “I don’t do sugar”. There is a whole book in this story, and it’s too lengthy and complicated to tell now, but let me just tell you what a victory it is to be getting through a single day sugar free.

– I’ve started to write and ponder my Impossible List and have been uplifted and inspired beyond belief by a flurry of amazing input via the interwebs, TED talks and amazing chats with husband Nige. More on this soon…
Is it possible to change your life in just four days? In times of trouble and self-sabotage, this concept feels almost impossible to me (no pun intended). Looking back on the last 96 hours, however, I can confidently say that clear, concrete ACTION in the direction of your dreams, or perhaps your impossibilities, and definitely in the direction of where your fear lies, is the number one way to smash through self-imposed limits, feel alive, and be able to put your head on the pillow at night knowing that no matter what happens, you can go to your grave one day knowing that for those few days in August 2012, while the Olympians were making history, you were writing your own story, a his-story or her-story all of your own.

Was it comfortable? Probably not.

Was it worth it?

………

You tell me. It’s your life…

Love,

Elloa xx

Leave a comment and tell me: 1. Are you up for the cold shower therapy challenge? 2. What is one action you’re going to take in the direction of your dream and/or impossibility?

I believe in us 🙂