Busyness v. Stillness

Once upon a time I was a mother of two little children, rushing around from one activity to the next, surrounded by a sea of plastic toys and answering hundreds of random questions every day.

I was always busy, always thinking, always moving. I never stopped. A ‘mummy drink’ of Bacardi and coke and a generous portion of reality TV simply numbed the senses but didn’t really allow me to switch off.

I got irritated really easily, kicked toys, drove too fast and ate a lot of chocolate.

My body, mind and soul were constantly swept up in a tornado of ‘doing’ and ‘stuff’.

Fast forward a few years and in contrast to busyness, I now enjoy stillness.

The change did not happen overnight. It’s been a long process of aligning to my inner truths and core values; a journey of learning to understand and love the real me on the inside.

Because, the truth is this…

Sometimes we just get swept up with life. The boyfriend, the house, the wedding, the baby, the nursery, the toys, the school, the activities, the jobs, the money, the food, the shopping, the socialising. The endless accumulation of stuff to do and stuff to own. We find ourselves constantly irritated by minor things and filling the void with food, alcohol, caffeine, sugar or substances. (Because stuff does not equal contentment.)

I realised I had enough stuff in my life. In fact, I had too much. All this stuff was drowning my spirit and making me stressed and overwhelmed.

There wasn’t one point at which I suddenly said ‘that’s enough!’, it was a gradual process; a mirror of the process it took to get there. The layers piled on and now they needed peeling off again.

When I moved from a bungalow in 2013 I had ten years of stuff in the loft to clear out. Every painting and drawing the girls had ever made, every pair of shoes they’d ever worn, every outfit, every toy, every blanket, every photo … plus there were boxes of mine and my ex-husband’s that we’d not looked at since the late 90s! Emptying the loft took longer than emptying the actual main living space. (Although, carrying boxes down a ladder every day for three weeks is great for your legs and bum! #silverlinings)

In the last five years what’s changed the most is the realisation that I need stillness, calm, peace and time to reflect every day. Not just once a week for an hour between other activities, I need it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

When I’m out with friends, networking or at an event, I love being with people. I love listening to their stories and finding out what lights them up and fuels their creative passion. When I’m with my children I love to listen to their stories of school, work, social media and friendships and understand what makes them tick as they grow into amazing young adults. And when I’m by myself I love to just BE. To look up at the clouds and watch the trees swaying in the wind, to spend quiet time with a purring cat on my lap or watching my bunnies wash their faces or eat daisies – stem first (it’s the cutest thing!).

As a small business owner I’ve tried making schedules and timetables and plans but I’ve realised that they don’t work for me because they don’t allow for time to just be. This precious time (and precious moments with children, partners and pets or in nature) can’t be allocated within a spreadsheet. Sometimes you have to seize the moment or the opportunity when it presents itself. If you’re trying to stick to a schedule then you’ll always feel like you failed, even if you actually took time off to do something that made you feel great.

So, what really changed over the last five to ten years? How did I get from overwhelmed, rushing, stressed out mummy to calm, serene business owner?

  • I switched my mindset. I read The Gratitude Diaries, Eat Pray Love, Big Magic and countless other books that helped me to live life from a place of gratitude, not scarcity. I wrote daily gratitude lists and made more time to enjoy the simple things in life. 
  • I cut drama and negativity out of my life. I stopped watching the news, daytime TV, reading newspapers and reading the negative comments across social media. I actually sold my TV too! Now I watch just the documentaries, movies or programmes that I choose, online, at my preferred time.
  • I began decluttering. I realised that simply tidying the stuff from one room to another or rearranging it into yet more plastic storage boxes simply wasn’t working! The stagnant energy was still sitting there. Slowly, I’ve reduced our possessions to perhaps a tenth of what we had back in 2013. I’m working on creating a capsule wardrobe where I love everything in it and every item fits me well and makes me feel great. This stops that ‘I have nothing to wear’ scenario and reduces the stress of washing mountains or packing for holidays.
  • I stopped trying to make everything fit and just tuned in to ME. I realised that I was happiest when I wasn’t constantly trying to be something that I wasn’t. I shared more of the real me online which attracted more of my ‘tribe’. Now with an amazing, extended group of like-minded people all around me, I feel supported, respected and loved. And the best part is that I get to make others feel good too! #connectionsandcommunity
  • I switched back to a mainly vegetarian diet somewhere around 2012 … and then tried four months as a raw vegan before ending up at a 95% plant-based diet that suited me and my family really well. In the last year I’ve committed to a completely plant-based lifestyle and the last pieces all fell into place. Love, compassion, peace, kindness, stillness, nature, lunar cycles and Mother Earth – it all fits together like a beautiful hand made wooden puzzle.
  • Plus (and you may not like these!), I stopped drinking diet coke, rarely drink alcohol and never drink black tea or coffee. Before switching to a plant-based diet I’d also stopped eating over-processed milk chocolate bars (like the ones in purple wrappers) and switched to dairy-free dark chocolate instead. So, basically, cut the caffeine, sugar and alcohol and you’ll feel much less stressed! Eating a healthy, vegetable and fruit rich diet with primarily home cooked foods will support and nourish your body.

So that’s me, now it’s over to you…

  • What can you do today to bring more stillness, calm and joy into your life?
  • What can you do today to reduce the amount of stress and overwhelm you feel? Where do you need to be honest with yourself? What difficult conversations do you need to have? Where do you need support?
  • What can you do today to connect with people that will lift you up, support your goals and make you feel great? How can you make other people feel loved, respected and heard?

 

Lorraine xx

If the song of my heart ceases to play, can I survive the silence?

‘If the song of my heart ceases to play, can I survive the silence?’

– Shonda Rhimes

When you suddenly realise you’ve lost the joy in your life, the silence can be deafening.

You pause for a while, looking in on your life from above, like an out-of-body experience. You barely recognise who you’ve become.

 

Where did the vibrant young woman go? What happened to her dreams?

Where was the laughter, the music, the giggling, the song?

Where was the dancing in the rain and the wind-swept hair?

❤︎

When was the last time you felt excitement, like the fizzing magnetism of a first date kiss?

When was the last time you felt truly fulfilled – your heart overflowing like marshmallows and whipped cream piled high on a steaming mug of hot chocolate?

When was the last time you didn’t get through a whole week on autopilot? Numb to the simple pleasures of life and a slave to something you can’t even put into words.

❤︎

When you’re broken and burnt out, or just feeling totally empty, there IS a way to find the magic again.

You see, the magic is LOVE.

Always has been, always will be.

The secret to turning your life around isn’t really a secret at all.

It’s about living each moment with love – in its simplest form.

Play. Laugh. Write. Run. Paint. Stretch. Sleep. Create. Give. Cook. Share. Sing. Dance.

Indulge your soul for 15 minutes a day doing something that brings you pure joy.

Fifteen minutes.      900 seconds.       1% of your day.

Everyone can find 15 minutes…

  •   The more you do the things that light you up, the more creative and enthusiastic you’ll feel about other projects in life.
  •   The more you follow you heart, the more you’ll attract the right people and opportunities in to your life to help you reach your personal or business goals.
  •   The more you tune in and listen to the whispers of your soul, the more aligned you’ll feel and life will begin to flow effortlessly.

 

As Shonda Rhimes says, in her TED talk My year of saying yes to everything:

‘The more I play, the happier I am and the happier my kids are.

I said YES to less work and more play and somehow I still run my world.’

Balancing online overwhelm for introverts

As an online small business owner with a wonderfully visible woo-woo side and a heavy dose of introverted characteristics, I’m frequently asked how I balance the overwhelm of social media and the energy of ‘putting myself out there’ on a daily basis with the delicate aspect of self-care, family boundaries and energy levels.

Firstly, I will say that it hasn’t been easy!

As someone who comes from a face to face business background, the initial lure of social media, websites and the internet was incredibly enticing, fun and a gave me a massive learning curve.

But that came at a cost: addiction!

It’s so easy to get hooked on to online coaches and Facebook groups and feel like the people you meet are your new best friend and saviour and that their magic, golden ticket will solve all your problems.  Before you know it you’re sucked deeper and deeper into a tangled web of poorly qualified ‘experts’ and ‘coaches’, handing over hundreds of dollars for services you never knew existed just six months earlier and falling prey to narcissistic sales strategies.

Rather than becoming the next ‘six figure leader’ you’re left with crumbling self-esteem, a clunky website that doesn’t really reflect who you are and a bad taste in your mouth from being the victim of trolls, money-grabbers and an unregulated, and sometimes downright nasty, online industry.

Except it doesn’t have to be that way.

Every week I hear these kind of horror stories from women who have an incredible gift to share with the world but have been burned by their experiences. They’re wondering whether they even want to continue.

  • Should I go back to the safety of a regular job?
  • What if I show who I really am? Will anyone like me?
  • Do I even want to be online 24/7?

And it makes me really sad to think that women (and some enlightened men) are pushing their dreams, talents and special unique qualities aside because they just can’t figure out how they fit in to the online space.

As I recalled my journey to one of these beautiful women today, I realised how my online lifestyle has changed in recent months and how grateful I am for the truly life-changing experiences I’ve had and the amazing women with whom I’ve formed incredible connections.

If you’re currently feeling stuck, unsure of which direction to take or feel like you’re drowning under the pressure of balancing your personal life with small business financial pressures and raising your visibility online, then my top tips might just offer you the lifebelt you need to pull yourself out of the water and see the horizon again.

  • If you feel like you need time out, then take time out. Turn off the screen, go for a walk, take a long weekend off, even take a holiday. Just step away from what you feel you should be doing and tune in to what you really want to do. What lights you up? What makes you feel creative and inspired?

 

  • When it all gets too much, ask yourself this: ‘If I could completely re-start my business again, what would I do differently? How would I do it differently? Why?’ Spending some time thinking about (and journalling) around this will often give rise to a whole cacophony of new ideas and inspiration.

 

  • Remove yourself from most of the Facebook groups you hang out in and remain only in the ones where you feel a genuine connection to the leader and the people in it. Some groups have an amazing vibe and others are a breeding ground for negativity and constant in-your-face selling and promotion.

 

  • Have a healthy balance of Facebook groups in terms of those that you’re in for personal development and meeting like-minded souls and those who teach you the skills you need to achieve your business goals and to network with other small-business professionals.

 

  • Join a paid membership group (or two). Joining a membership group instantly raises the energy within the group because everyone wants to be there and is making an investment in their business or self-development. Depending on your personal goals, I would suggest one paid membership for business goals, strategy or support and one for personal development, soul journey and sisterhood.

 

  • Take the time (online) to form genuine connections and relationships. I can honestly say that some of the women I’ve met online have become some of my closet confidantes and give the best hugs in real life! I know I would never meet this many vibrant, passionate, spiritual, like-minded women locally who just ‘get’ me. When we meet in person all around the world it’s such a different relationship to having a social group of girlfriends (often from school, college or work) with whom you have next to nothing in common. There’s none of the jealousy, insecurity or worrying about what to wear, how to split the bill or whether anyone will tease you for not drinking alcohol. Meeting like-minded souls just feels ‘right’; there’s no other way to describe it. And it’s a beautiful experience.

 

  • In your personal, family and home life, set some really firm boundaries. Create opportunities to give those you love 100% of your attention. No one wants to be pushed aside for a mobile phone, and no-one’s business is more important than life, love and laughter. Ditto for the teenagers and partners in your life. Ensure everyone takes time to put their devices down, step away from the computer and create real life experiences together.

 

And finally, the biggest and most exciting, life-changing switch for me came about by sharing more of my unique essence; more of the things that really light me up and make me feel connected, grounded and complete. I realised that the kind of people I wanted in my life were like-minded souls who were passionate, curious, interested in exploring their spiritual side, compassionate animal lovers and people who were always ready to learn and grow.

In order to attract those people, I had to step outside my comfort zone, knowing that my message was bigger than my fears. I had to show up as who I really was deep inside and have trust and faith that the right people would appear and those who weren’t would walk on by.

It was about releasing the expectation of who I thought I should be and just being me.

If I can inspire one woman every day to share more of her brilliant inner light, then that makes me one very happy, very lucky and very content girl.

online introvert_

Photo credit: Nathan Boadle @ Unsplash

 

Lorraine is a magical blend of intuitive feminine energy and creative, word-whispering talent. Her skills for writing go far beyond the basics of grammar and professional copywriting and enable her to deeply understand her clients’ unique essence and special talents so that she can help them to shine more brilliantly across their website and social media. In uncovering their hidden truths and sparkly gems, Lorraine not only creates beautiful content but also boosts her clients’ confidence, enabling them to step up, become more visible and attract their tribe in a way that creates a greater impact and a lasting legacy.

Social media links:

Facebook Page – The Soulful Word 

Instagram @thesoulfulword

Want to connect or find out more about my work?

 

What to do when creativity leaves the building

When creativity disappears and leaves you lost for ideas, it sucks!

 

Waves of frustration wash over you.

‘Why can everyone else put out loads of new content all the time and I’m stuck?’

Every day you try new tactics, but your mind just becomes overfilled and overwhelmed.

There’s that lingering sense of ‘I’m not good enough’.

‘Why can’t it just be easy?’

 

It’s in these moments you either give up or become fiercely determined to succeed.

 

Frustration is replaced with a new commitment.

Overwhelm is swapped for a shiny new schedule.

Deflation morphs into creation.

 

You leap into your new plan filled with all the energy of a space shuttle launch.

But just as rocket fuel quickly burns away, so does your dedication.

You’re back where you started.

 

So what’s going so wrong?

What needs to change?

 

Here are my top 3 tips to bring creativity back into your life:

  • Creativity flows when you’re in alignment to your inner values and desires. What does that mean in real life? Well, when you’re being true to who you really are, that’s when your authentic voice shines through. Your words are warmer, you attract your ideal clients with ease and you come across as honest and real. Humans are naturally wired to sniff out truth or deception and those who are more intuitive (i.e. regularly have that ‘gut feeling’ or instinct about people or situations) can pick up on this in seconds. So figure out what you really believe in and then stand up for that. Be bold. Be courageous. Be you.
  • Creativity is drowned by overwhelm. When you’re trying to do everything by yourself you simply have too many tabs open in your brain. What are the basic tasks needed to run your business successfully? What tasks could you delegate? What tasks can only you do? Do you have a schedule to stick to? How could your family help around the house? Could you get a cleaner? Do you waste time being reactive to social media? There are so many things that we all do every single day and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. Start by scheduling 1 hour a day just for you. This can be in 2 x 30 minute blocks or 3 x 20 minutes if you prefer. This hour is for anything you desire that isn’t connected to your business or creativity. So, read a book, go for a walk, sort your wardrobe, meet a friend for coffee and cake (cake makes everything better), watch a TEDx talk or take a candlelit bath. Then for all the other ‘tasks’ in your life (business and personal), just write down the 3 most important things and get them done first.
  • Creativity is all about connection. In the online space it’s vitally important we connect with people every single day. Whether it’s through your own posts, engaging in groups or paid memberships, simply showing up, being visible, sharing your knowledge, being known as the expert in your field or offering support and inspiration, it’s all connection. It doesn’t matter whether your preferred medium is video, audio, photographic or written – use whichever one most lights you up and the one that is most applicable to the tribe you wish to attract. Then show up every single day.

 

If a relaxing writing retreat sounds like the perfect antidote to your creative struggles, check out my Corfu Writing Retreat (October 2017).

 

Lorraine xx