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!
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