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Category: BoboMama’s Quest for Authenticity

Anyone for a forest bathe?

Anyone for a forest bathe?

Can you feel how the energy in a wood is unlike that of the urban ‘jungle’? Do you feel different when you are in nature: more calm and more embodied? Perhaps you’ve noticed that your breathing slows, your thoughts are less scattered?

If so, you are not inventing things. Because it has been scientifically proven that being around ‘greenery’ (in any form) reduces the risk of depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, stress and many other scourges of our modern lives.  

Not surprising really given that we are animals at heart. But we seem to forget this and then wonder why we feel like we do when we have been deprived of Nature: cooped up indoors, immobile in front of our computer screens with little natural light, central heating and no expansive outdoor vista.

Which is why “shinrin yoku” or forest bathing is where it’s at for many of us over-civilised, urban dwellers. This Japanese therapy was developed in the 1980s and is so well regarded as a preventative healthcare treatment that it now even has its own dot org.

I try to practise shinrin yoku (sounds more impressive when you say it in Japanese), at least once a week to de-stress, clear my mind and reconnect to my ‘higher self’ or what I also call my ‘whole woman’ – the one lurking behind the mama, daughter, partner, yogini, solopreneur, superwoman masks. The part of me that is tuned into Nature, to my instinctual self, to my body. She who is wise, unflappable, endlessly patient and trusting; an objective observer of my monkey-mind.

And it works! The mountainous issues on my radar shrink back to manageable molehills, the urgency of deadlines falls by the way side, and pleasure – bit by bit – takes over the need to perform.

In a forest, I can be unashamedly myself. There is no judgement so I judge myself less. Trees never fail to reset my hard drive and remind me of what (rather than who) I am. 

Why don’t you try it for yourself? The spectacular autumnal show that is put on for us at this time of year when the Earth’s seasonal cycle turns to releasing and death (a bit dramatic but that’s the truth of it) is the perfect excuse to go for a Nature walk. And if you really can’t face leaving home, try hanging out next to a potted plant or staring out of a window at some nearby greenery. Even a patch of grass will do.

We all need regular self-care boosts in life and this is probably one of the easiest to implement and maintain.

Green is the new black…

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Happiness is a choice…

Happiness is a choice…

Unlike kids, who seem to be able to return to a state of uncomplicated joy so easily – being pushed in a swing high and hard (see photo) is pretty much guaranteed to do the job –  adults can find it a little harder to get back to their inner happy place. There just seem to be so many more barriers in place.

But because I’d been in a bit of a grump about various things on and off for the month, to the extent that I had even bored myself with my attitude (after all, it takes quite a bit of effort to be in a grump for that long, and I don’t have that much spare energy), I thought I would try something different.

So despite waking up yesterday with lots of potential reasons to feel irritated – very tired and like I’d eaten too much the night before (not the best start to the day) – I made a conscious decision to be HAPPY.

And knowing that you sometimes have to ‘fake it to make it’ and that weirdly, your psyche knows no different, I started by telling myself (out loud) that from this moment on, I was choosing to be happy.

My second related action was not to ignore the many positive mantras and cards I have strategically placed around my working area, but instead to incant these every time I lay my eye on them. I began with the “I am amazing and great things are going to happen today” post-it note, which I have slipped inside my laptop so that it’s the first thing I see when I open it. I then proclaimed out loud the very complimentary statement that I have set as my actual password, followed by my newest abundance-attracting, pin-board, post-it note: “my actions create constant prosperity”.

Needless to say, I started my work day feeling quite pumped.

I continued my efforts by making sure I actually adhered to my daily alarm (set to remind me to take at least 10 minutes out to meditate half way through the day). And because I really didn’t feel like I needed it, I let it turn into 10 minutes of just sitting in silence staring out of my bedroom window at the tree on the street. Which also had a positive effect. Not surprisingly really, because a change of scene = energy reboost; silence = mental refresh; and if you can’t actually get out INTO nature, staring at it can have the same grounding effect (kind of).

Lastly, I ended my working day by actually implementing my achievement list. This is like a to-do list (of which I have many dotted around the place) but one that is based on the past rather than the future: each day you write down what you have done really well and what you are proud of yourself for. Yesterday afternoon, I focused on what I had done to grow my business (because I have recently been wrestling with the re-emergence of my powerhouse perfectionist and she thinks that I could ALWAYS do more), and last thing at night, I focused (in my head) on my mothering “skills” (another area of my life in which my inner bully could be described as overzealous).

And guess what? It felt really good!

So instead of transitioning back into motherhood mode (ready for school pick-up, homework, supper, bath, bed palaver) feeling frustrated and a little resentful that I hadn’t done enough, I was remarkably calm, content and most importantly, present with the kids.

Because having physically written out what I had already achieved, I didn’t feel the need to keep popping back onto my iphone or to wander off elsewhere in my thoughts. And because I was feeling content in myself, I wasn’t knocked off centre by the three tiredness / hunger tantrums that kicked off throughout the early evening. I even managed to squeeze in some post-homework, pre-supper mama ‘funtime’ (hide-and-seek) and didn’t even get angry when everyone decided to stop playing half way through and leave me hiding (and nearly suffocating) for almost half a hour. Result!

Which all goes to show just how goddamn powerful our minds are. And that if we set an intention, magnify it by saying it out loud, and underpin it by writing positive things down, that intention can carry us through the whole of the day (however many potential anger/sadness booby traps might be lying in wait for us).

How long will my happiness last? Who knows. But I do believe in the Law of Attraction and today I felt I was being rewarded for my say-it-out-loud-for-two-days-in-a-row-mantras by receiving this incredible compliment from a coaching client (who has just finished a 3 month series with me):

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the life coaching series with you. It helped me consider options I thought were impossible. It helped me rebuild my confidence and the self esteem I was gradually losing. It helped me pluck up the courage that I needed to set myself free, to see a clearer picture of where I am and where I want to be. I feel in control. You are such a talented and inspiring life coach and an amazing person.”

Well. If those are the kinds of results that I’m going to continue to attract, then Project Happiness is ongoing!

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On celebrating…

On celebrating…

I used not to be very good at celebrating my successes. I’d take for granted all the hard work that had gone into achieving something and move right onto the next potential goal. I got a kick from the constant forwards momentum, not really knowing what to do with the downtime in between.

So I made sure there was no downtime.  I went from one thing to another, ticking them off the list, not really stopping for breath and definitely not stopping to acknowledge the journey.

Until recently. When I decided to change things.

Because effort is great and all that. But so is surrender. BOTH are required to reach a state of ‘grace’. And all work and no play doesn’t leave much room for joy. And I kind of want more joy in my life; more fun, more laughter. Don’t you?

So yesterday was the perfect opportunity to take some time out to enjoy a rare tootle on my own trumpet:

🌟  I celebrated becoming a QUALIFIED LIFE COACH 🌟

6 months of hard work and commitment (3 of them whilst travelling), 14 modules packed full of learnings and gruelling assignments, 14 live training calls with our incredible BYCA teachers and expert coaches, 3 months of being life coached through my own personal goals and 4 months of supporting 4 awesome, pro-bono clients, each through their own six-week coaching series.

I celebrated the fact that back in January this year – whilst living in Bali – I chose to follow my heart by signing up to my amazing course. My intuition had been nudging me towards a career that supports others to become their best, most fulfilled selves for a while, but it took the prospect of all three of the kids going to school, and looming ’empty nest’ syndrome to push me over the line into action.

I had a (far-fetched) dream…I took concrete steps towards making it happen…And yesterday, I graduated.  

The result? My soul purpose and my career are in alignment. I am walking my talk. I am embodying RADICAL AUTHENTICITY. 

Since yesterday was also Samhain – the ancient festival that celebrates the end (and beginning) of the Celtic New Year, a time during which the veil between our world and the next becomes its most transparent, I decided to pick a tarot card as a symbol for my vision for next year.

And I got the six of wands, symbolising “success, achievement and public recognition”. Even the tarot was celebrating with me!

More poignantly however, the card has an even deeper meaning: it is about having faith in what you have achieved, about not letting fear or guilt get in the way of your success, about feeling proud of yourself and feeling worthy of others’ attention. 

It is about BELIEVING IN YOURSELF. 

And this got me thinking about both how easy but also how hard this is to do. For how often do you hold your head up high and feel worthy of other people’s attention? How often do you have faith in yourself and how your achievements will be seen by others? How often does fear or guilt stand in the way of your success?

It takes guts. And commitment. And courage.

Which is exactly what I’m going to practise.

Because like most things that don’t come easily, they require exercising, just like a muscle. The more you practise courage, the more natural it seems.

Habits break habits. 

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On embracing your beauty…

On embracing your beauty…

Me and my big, goofy smile. That takes over half my face.

I’ve always had a big mouth – physically and symbolically. “Shy, retiring violet” would not be the label most would give me. And yet, I used to wish it was. I wanted to be less visible, less opinionated and have a smaller mouth.

Most kids have a temporary gap when their adult teeth first come through but mine became a permanent feature. And big lips, a big mouth and big, gappy teeth are not what your average 10 year old needs. So I used to get teased. Alot.

The older I got though, and the more examples I came across of gappy teeth being valued in their own way, the less ill at ease I became with my particular looks: as a 12 year old in France I learnt that they are called ‘dents du bonheur’ (and that one of the nation’s hottest sex symbols – Vanessa Paradis – also shared my ‘diastema’); and as a 17 year old at school, I stumbled upon Chaucer’s “gap-toothed wife of Bath”. Her gap symbolised her ‘lasciviousness’, and whilst I didn’t really have a clue what that meant at the time, it did make me secretly a little bit proud.

So I grew to live with my gap. And to even sort of like it.

And then….it went.

Just like that.

Aged 42, I still have a big mouth, big lips and big teeth but I am no longer gap-toothed. (Who knew that teeth continue to move all throughout adulthood?)

And now that it is gone, I kind of miss it. I realise that my gappy teeth were actually quite a big part of who I am. They were a tiny bit of me that made me stand out. A teeny, tiny definer of who I was.

Which got me thinking about which of our physical traits we identify with the most: what is it about you that makes you feel really you: your hair (its colour or length)? Your eyes (their shape or colour)? Your height? Your shape? Your size? Your skin colour and tone?

And do you identify with this feature because of what other people have said to you? Or because of how you yourself feel about it?

I realised that it is definitely easier NOT to stand out for something that defines you as physically different to other people, but it is also way more boring. And since different cultures value different forms of beauty, what could be seen as ugly in one, might be the epitome of sexiness in another.

Because beauty really is subjective. And those that feel beautiful inside really do radiate that out, regardless of their individual, physical features.

Embrace your unique traits and your particular form of beauty now. Because you never know, one day they might disappear and you’ll never have had the chance to question why you identified with them and to relish just how amazing they were…. 😇

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On breaking the rules…

On breaking the rules…

To the mamas in the house: would you wear this dress down the pub? This Dolce & Gabanna meets granny-going-to-a-funeral dress to a casual, school parents’ social?

I did.

Sartorial code dictates that one wears jeans to the pub and cocktail dresses to a party. But the more I thought about this, the more I realised how ridiculous it is that there are dress codes for certain types of venue. And that how you choose to portray yourself at any one time, and how you feel as a result, can be dictated by someone else’s social “rule”. ⠀

So I broke it.

My decision was inspired by two things: Zoe Kravitz‘s latest interview in Vogue and one of my current life coaching client’s goals.

Zoe said “I believe that fashion, art – all of it – is about making bold choices, unapologetically. It’s not ‘Is this OK?’ It’s, ‘This is who I am – deal with it…’

And boy, did this resonate with me. Sure, she’s got youth and beauty (and fame), on her side but why on earth shouldn’t this apply to me? To anyone? To all of us?

My beautiful client on the other hand, was exploring new and different ways to feel self-confident. And clothes – our “look” – is a very important strand of how we choose to express ourselves. So she had challenged herself several times over the course of the past two weeks to experiment with this: by not wearing any make-up, by asking someone else to choose her clothing for her for a couple of days, by wearing something she would normally wear to a party as day wear, by enjoying showing off her curves. Pretty brave, eh?

And the result was astounding. A total disengagement from social peer pressure and a wholehearted embrace of what made her feel good, inside and out. 

Which also resonated with me – after all, if I was able to successfully support and encourage a client to stretch their self-imposed limits, surely I could do the same for myself?

So I wore the dress. In an “inappropriate” setting. And I felt awesome.

And guess what? I know that I (quietly) inspired others to do the same.

It wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But at the same time it was huge: I chose to express myself authentically when it wasn’t necessarily the done thing.

Courage. Confidence. Which comes first?

Both lead to one another.

And both are cornerstones of my life coaching business: I am passionate about supporting women to regain the confidence and courage to remember who they really are, rather than who society or others think they should be.

Last week, I applied my mission statement back to myself.

I walked my talk.

And it felt great.

How can you channel some courage and self-confidence today? How can you make a ‘bold choice, unapologetically’? Which self-imposed rules are you ready to break? Let me know in the comments below!

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On trying to ‘connect’ as a family and why hygge doesn’t work…

On trying to ‘connect’ as a family and why hygge doesn’t work…

This Sunday was declared ‘family day’.

It was an attempt to put aside at least one day a week where none of us was distracted by other things: no kids’ sport lessons/parties or homework were scheduled and no parent keep-fit/yoga/work or socialising was allowed.

That might sound a little draconian to you, easy-going folk. But unless we do that, I find that none of us actually connects properly.

When we were exploring as part of our year-long travel adventure, spending time together was natural. Every day was spent discovering the unknown, exploring new things – we shared each and every experience and had the time to discuss and savour them.

But now that we are back in the UK and firmly ensconced in the rat race, after-school activities, learning to read and write, homework, keeping fit through sport, remaining sane through yoga, working for a living, household chores, staying in touch with friends and family – suddenly there are a million and one demands on each of us. And only slithers of time to lever them all into.

And what suffers the most is what we took for granted when we were away: quality family time.

It either needs to be scheduled in, or it doesn’t happen. Because in my case at least (Mama Truth Bomb on its way), I often find an excuse not to connect, because doing something away from the family and just for me, comes so much easier and feels so much more beneficial. At least in the short term.

Yup. I said it.

Pretending that the kids don’t exist and escaping to do something ‘more important’ (aka ‘more selfish’) is a lot less difficult than being entertaining-kind-nurturing-fun mama to three kids under 8 at the same time.

(Particularly as the moment you do set aside the headspace to put on your supermama mask, they start fighting for your attention so that ‘connection’ time actually becomes angry mama time spent either reprimanding or mediating).

So what do you do with it once you have scheduled in family time? 

Well, the Danish concept of hygge hasn’t yet worked for us unless there is a movie or colouring in involved (too many bad losers to play a game and too many itchy feet to just sit and ‘talk’), so we decided to go for walk.

I’m a bit of a wild nature fan myself (I find there is nothing better to remind me of the insignificance of my day-to-day anxieties than an untouched landscape), and so we headed for one of our local nature and birdspotting reserves.

Here, surrounded only by plants, trees and animals, suspending the reality of the many to-dos in my life seems relatively effortless and I instantly feel part of something bigger, better and more timeless than myself…

The ‘family connection’ plan went relatively well too: two out of three actually managed to walk the whole distance, no-one was bitten by a horse (unlike last time) and Bobomama didn’t have to remove any dog poo from any wellies on our return. Bonus.

We even caught sight of this quaint, upturned boat: broken and derelict but etched with the message “Life is Beautiful”: a cliche of course but none the less poignant.

I did have to spend the rest of the afternoon laboriously checking for nits and Andrew did selfishly sneak off to play squash during the kids’ supper/bath/bedtime routine but no-one said anything about life being perfect.

Beautiful – for at least just a couple of hours a week – will have to do; family day may well be here to stay…

How do you balance me-time and family time? Does hygge work for you?

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How to tame your ‘should monster’…

How to tame your ‘should monster’…

Sometimes I like to pick a tarot card for myself. Even though, officially, I know that you are not supposed to. I shuffle the pack, ask the question “what do I need to know, right now?” and pick the one that is winking at me. And usually, I find it confirms or guides me towards an insight or message that I had already clocked – deep down – but perhaps hadn’t fully admitted to my conscious self yet.

The card acts a bit like an intuition sign post. And let’s face it, in today’s era of the ‘glorification of busy’, we need all the sign posts we can get…

So, the other day I got this bad boy – the seven of swords – which came out upside down, which means it is “reversed”.

And as always, it was spot on.

I really should know how to read the pack myself by now but instead I prefer to rely – lazily – on an expert whose area of genius this really is. And so, according to Biddy Tarot (whose interpretations really resonate with me), this is a card of “mental challenges and rites of passage”: I need to “break free from old habits and ways of thinking in order to overcome the blockages that currently stand in my way. I need to accept what is happening to me and act on it, rather than trying to escape. I need to do things differently, releasing myself from past behaviours or limiting beliefs so that I can move forwards in my life”.

Ring a bell, anyone?

Given that autumn is a time of letting go, of releasing any habits or beliefs that no longer serve us, this card felt pretty apt. Because I am indeed trying to move forwards in a different direction. I have explored in depth over this past year who I am and what really turns me on, I have released whatever doesn’t, and I have made my passion – supporting others to regain the confidence and courage to be who they REALLY are rather than who they THINK they should be in order to be ‘accepted’ – into a new business: life coaching.

And that brings up stuff: having to own what you really stand for and publicise that (scary), as well as facing potential rejection for what you really believe in (double scary).

But these are all good fears to release right now, in the same way that the trees are releasing their leaves and Nature in general is starting to hunker down in preparation for winter.

Which is also what I’m trying to do: hunker down for winter. Which for me – Miss Duracell Bunny – is nigh on impossible. But just as I don’t let my life coaching clients off the hook (remember, NOTHING is impossible), I can’t let myself off the hook either.

So I am really, really trying NOT to ‘make the most’ out of my newfound, day-time freedom now that the three little muskateers are all at school. And if that sounds counter-intuitive, I’m not surprised. Because we are taught – all the time – to ‘make the most’ of everything.

But it dawned on me the other day just how crazy this is. That this whole concept not only instills a fear of deadlines and that time is running out, but it also implies that there is a wrong (= wasteful) and a right (= productive) way to fill it up. Hence the glorification of busy.

So having realised this, I’m trying instead to insert (teeny, tiny, manageable) spaces of not-doing, of non-achievement, of non-improvement and of non-learning into my day: such as meditation for at least 10 minutes; taking a mini time-out in order to take a really conscious, deep inhale and a really conscious, deep exhale or just by appreciating the beauty that surrounds me inside the house and outside in nature.

And it’s WORKING.

Small pockets of pause dotted throughout the day = less overwhelm, more inner peace and a quieter ‘should’ monster.

And with the season of autumn well and truly upon us, my seven of swords reversed tarot card, tonight’s full moon, and my on-and-off-aching right shoulder (telling me that I have taken on or am ‘shouldering’ too much), I have all the reminders that I need to LET GO, to TRUST and to simply enjoy and take pleasure in being NATURALLY me.

What is the should monster whispering into your ear? Which unhelpful self-belief could you do with letting go of this autumn? Do you have a fear of deadlines or of getting things ‘wrong’? Do you find it hard to step off the achievement hamster wheel? Share with me in the comments below! And even better, book in for a complimentary 45 minute life coaching “discovery session” and we can work on it together! 

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Is it time to reboot and recharge?

Is it time to reboot and recharge?

This week marks the rekindling of self-care. Which has lapsed considerably over the school holidays. Indeed pretty much since June. Which not only shows, I can feel it in my body. I feel tired, lacklustre, my skin is a bit rubbish and I’m once again resorting to wine a little too much in order to zone out.

I feel like I’ve had adrenaline coursing through my body for weeks on end. And even though I’ve known that I need to take time out to stop and just BE rather than rushing on with my to-do list, I’ve found this nearly impossible to implement.

If I lived by the beach and had access to this glorious, Ikarian view, it might come easier. But I no longer do, so it’s about putting an end to the excuses and making the effort to get out from behind my desk and scheduling in some non-negotiable, me-time down-time. 

Because if we don’t, we end up running on empty. Which is what I discovered is happening to me, yesterday during my Chi Nei Tsang treatment (an incredible Chinese medicine abdominal massage that detoxifies the internal organs and removes energetic blocks). Not good.

So today, I set aside 10 minutes to meditate before getting down to work and I’ve reset my AIRIN app to 25 times a day (it sounds a gong to remind you to take a mindful breath). It bongs so often that even the kids are now trained in it : )

As autumn sets in and the wind and rain start to ramp up, the seasons are telling us to SLOW DOWN.

What would help YOU to reset your hard drive?

What do you need to give yourself PERMISSION to pause?

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A new chapter…

A new chapter…

It’s on days like this that I feel super grateful for the place I live in. A city that is architecturally beautiful in its own right but also dotted with meadows (containing actual, live cows) and crossed by a beautiful river (populated by houseboats, punts and rowers).

This was our first ever family bike ride – 5 people, 5 bikes – and not a cargo bike or stabiliser in site.

It felt amazing!

I might be mourning the loss of my babies (all three of my muskateers are now at school), but little trips like this show me that there is a whole new world of adventure that is out there, just waiting for us now that they are older.

And that is exciting.

A new chapter is always a double-edged sword: loss of the old and apprehension for what lies ahead sit alongside excitement for the new and growth as we adjust to a different comfort zone.

I often forget to acknowledge transitions, allowing my focus to zoom immediately into the next stage. So I’m practising noticing this one and almost savouring it. Because when I do that, I become more present. Alive in the now rather than distracted by the past or daydreaming about the future.

And what does that bring? Freedom! And a release of energy (just think how much is wasted by dipping into stories about the past or future)…

Which is lucky, because I had to carry one of these bikes back perched ontop of my own. The new chapter has started. We’re just not quite there yet 😁.

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How the Goddess Lilith got me out of my funk…

How the Goddess Lilith got me out of my funk…

Meet Lilith. A Middle-Eastern goddess of abundance and fertility (she gifted humans with agriculture) as well as death and transformation. Pretty powerful, eh?

I picked this beauty from my Goddesses Knowledge Cards pack last week and she’s been perched on my laptop ever since.

Not just because of the abundance – after all, we could all do with a bit of abundance – but also because of her story.

I was feeling a bit fragile as well as angry last week (solar eclipse + heavy work load + 14 weeks of 3 small kids at home with me + pre-menstrual + trying to work out what my soul “message” was = overwhelm), so the fact that she was the first woman created and the first wife of Adam “who refused to be subordinate to him in any way” inspired me. In a just-get-out-of-your-own-head-and-start-seeing-the-bigger-picture kind of way.

Because that is my kind of feminism: refusing to be subordinate to ANYONE. Not out of defensiveness or from a place of aggression. But out of a place of self-worth. The energy is very different. Lilith honours who she is by respecting her own needs, dreams and desires. She sees these as equal to anyone else’s.

For when you are truly empowered, there is no need to put anyone else down in order to feel good about yourself. There isn’t a finite amount of “feel-good pie” which requires one to have less than the other.

We are all entitled to abundance, self-worth, success, fulfillment and happiness. Every single one of us. And wishing for it for yourself DOES NOT mean that someone else has to make do with less. There is more than enough to go round.

True empowerment comes from within. A knowing that you are unique and beautiful and a gift to the world, whatever your flaws, whatever your imperfections and deepest secrets.

And Lilith models this beautifully because she is also associated with the lotus – that gorgeous flower that blossoms out of dark, decaying earth.

The symbolism here is that Lilith therefore encourages, and challenges us, to integrate our own darkest shadows however they manifest in us. She inspires us to look at the aspects of us that we prefer to keep private because they are shameful or “not nice” – our meanness, our superiority, our unkindness, our manipulation, our viciousness for example – and accept that they are indeed part of us.

Because when we can do this, they then have less of a hold over us.  We can can control them or choose whether or not to act out upon the impulse behind them. We become aware: conscious not just instinctual.

And that leads to FREEDOM…

THIS is what I needed to be reminded of last week. When I was feeling overwhelmed, emotional and frustrated. Lilith inspired me to own all of my feelings, even the “negative” ones, to love and accept that part of myself, and then from a place of wholeness and self-worth – subordinate to no-one – to pick myself up and get on with being me. Unique and flawed and precious. Just as I am. Just as you are.

Lilith helped me see the bigger picture. I’d love to know if and how Lilith resonates with you? Let me know in the comments below! 

 

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