“The best way to change the world is in concentric circles: start with yourself and work your way out from there.”James Clear
Well it’s been a minute. How are things with you? It has been all sorts busy here. Still we await the arrival of the northern hemisphere’s spring season, as in really arrive and not disappear again tomorrow! The winter has been long, the busy has been good and oh my gosh this is my first post for the year! And.It.Is.May.Already. There’s been learning, trying new things and settling into life as I chill my nervous system.
Learning by living is my modus operandi, so when I am quiet in these times and sharing less, never fear. I’m simply off being human and growing with that experience. It’s nice though to feel ready to come home and to begin to grow something with words. To once again write to you from a sturdy place. There’s so much to talk about!
Hey, so, I know we aren’t really talking about the C time and I know we all experienced that time differently, but during my deep dive into being human I had to think about how the pandemic affected me. It’s not the first time I’ve had to face some really tough feelings but it was probably the hardest.
It wasn’t the actual pandemic time that was hard for me. It was more so the years after. Specifically, this notion of simply returning to life that’s a ‘new normal’, one that doesn’t accommodate for changes. It is not quite ridiculous to expect to simply go back to being the same with a new tag?! I mean let’s be honest … who is the same two years on, ever. Even without a pandemic – things, life changes. When I look back at the amount of change in my usually quiet life I feel a great deal of sympathy for my nervous system, no wonder it got itself stuck in survival mode.
My family of little kids, those kids who danced behind the pide piper when she (me) played the next tune went and grew up. Really grew, the buggers. Two became fully fledged teens and boy that was something I did not have a manual or a script for. It’s taken some trial and error. After being locked out of our home country during the pandemic, the connection with our ozzie’ness shifted and this happened differently for all of us. Our parents downsized, aged and our old life at ‘home’ felt like it lost its roots.
We renovated a house (ha never again, ever). Th challenge aside from the actual living in a building site was that as someone who keeps it small and prefers the company of kind, interesting, honest, pay it forward types and a lot of quiet space was that I had to live with builders in that space everyday. Builders who regularly took the piss, lied and instead of 6, took 18 months. Oh and then there is the peri menopause, yep that hit at the same time. JESUS that peri – it took my energy, brain, confidence and what resilience I had left. Lol and they’re just the big things!
The good news is that I have found peace with all the change. Time is a great healer, yes, this is true … but also it is what you do in the time that heals. There has been plenty of sitting in my shit. A bit, hmm maybe a lot of woe is me. But, maybe this is necessary sometimes. Some time to feel sad for yourself, or to feel your sadness so you can uncover what it is you are really sad about and what you need. I am glad for it. Obviously, it isn’t fun but to accept change, but to step out of the flight, fight, fawn or freeze response it felt necessary. To me, this is self love. To love yourself enough to give yourself the grace to not be ok when you’re not, to give yourself and those around you compassion, to accept being imperfect and the imperfections of others, humaness. To recognise where and who you are and to be ok with that.
Anyways, that’s just a little of where I’ve been. If you’re interested in where the peace came from well a number of ways. I talk to someone. She helped me rip off a few bandaids. Under those bandaids were some wounds that I needed to give air to. We all know wounds heal better when exposed (if ready). I realised some of my teenage wounds were causing me to react rather than to respond to my own teens. Flight/fight. My catholic upbringing, schooling and life experiences still have some real impacts on me – fawn/freeze (don’t be seen). In survival mode it felt boundless and just as a river can’t flow without banks I couldn’t find my flow without boundaries which explained the bewildered state.
Anyways, from the chats I began thinking about how to step out of the fear mode I was existing in and how I could settle my nervous system. Diet came next. I was eating for survival. My gut health needed some love and based on tests – gluten, sugar and dairy are gone for now. I feel better. I gave up alcohol in favour of special occasions but kept coffee, I drink a lot of hot water and herb tea too. it’s not easy and these changes are a work in progress.
On a whim I picked up and read a book (this book) and honestly it changed my life. Peri/menopause is a feminist issue and we need to talk about it. I started HRT and that is something I never thought I would ever do. I have learnt that as women we are completely gaslit when it comes to our hormones and what this change means. We cannot rely on all caregivers to provide accurate, evidence based, individual information. An oestrogen deficiency played havoc with my body just as a thyroxine or insulin issues can for some. Those oestrogen receptors that live from my head down to my toes are now dancing with happiness to be awake. My energy has returned and the brain fog has disappeared. So now I can move, hot yoga, cycling and walking (always walking) are my things right now.
There is no magic bullet in my story here, just a few different paths I took to try to find my way through to post pandemic ‘new normal’. The gem for me was to learn that I can’t do what I’ve always done to cope and what that meant for me in terms of action. I couldn’t run/hike my way through it – injuries. I couldn’t write my way out of it – brain fog. I couldn’t eat my way out of it – health consequences, I couldn’t do something new (study) or adventurous (plan a move) – no energy. I simply had to sit still and move slowly and be open to and accept new things. I am not there yet but I am better for it. I need to give weight to all the puzzle pieces.
So, new things. Well, yes. As you all know I’m a little bit of a gypsy soul and I
like need some excitement … some sweet synchronicity, some of those oh-wow-what-a-coincidence type moments and really I just need to find and hang out with my people. The ones get that about me, about life and that keep it interesting. Writing has always been such a beautiful doorway for me to stay connected with and to find the finest of kindreds. I started a new blog and gosh I’m excited (and nervous) to be in this space.
It is something different for me. This current blog you may remember started as the fundraiser for my first camino and it’s veered off is so many directions I don’t know what it is anymore! It is boundless. Of course that is ok. But like the river needs its banks, I want to do something that is in flow so I need boundaries, banks. I need to create something with direction. Already in the short time I’ve been playing over on your camino I’ve had some sweet interactions. I’ve felt a shift in what my mind thinks about and where it goes, my step and I’ve felt that feeling of ‘good’ fear. Like I am actually doing something that scares me a little. I like that I can connect people.
It feels time to challenge myself and see what I am capable of in this time. With commitment, the work of that feels doable. There are of course many sites dedicated to the camino, and yes there’s that shadow part of me that thinks and says ‘how do I fit with those, how can I compete, what if you fail’? But you know, I am tired of wondering about that, and it’s not a competition. So, I am creating my own unique space dedicated to camino walking, not trying to fit in. I am just going to write my stories and walk my walk, write to connect people and that alone feels like success.
I wanted to write this open the conversation about ‘new normal’ and change because it feels important, how are you with yours? And I am thinking a bit about this blog and I think perhaps this will become a letter about life here or maybe it will disappear. We shall see what flow says. We did have a beautiful weekend away last weekend in the fabulous south where the wildflowers are in bloom and there are hills. Hills in the flatlands, yes it’s true, they really exist. I am out of time and page space so I’ll share that with you next time.
With much love and grace,
Sneak peak from next week … the wildflowers