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Life lessons from the paddle board: 4 steps to radically care for yourself

As I looked behind me, I saw her paddle board begin to turn to the right. She, meanwhile, had every intention of turning to the left. The tide had other ideas, clearly. I could hear her nervous laughter as she realised she wasn’t actually controlling where she was going. It probably makes me a bad friend that part of me found it hilarious. (If she’d fallen in, it might possibly have made my day). We decided that maybe we’d go right after all! Sometimes there’s just no point in fighting when you’re being pulled off course.

Floating reflections

My oldest friend and I were spending the first truly sunny day here in the UK having an early morning paddleboard. It was her first time and she nailed it (and yes, she’ll read this so figure I better praise her!). we drifted back down the river, much more comfortably now we were flowing with the tide. Our conversation turned to the year just gone. How so much of what we’d hoped for just hadn’t been possible. All of the momentum and direction radically shifting underneath us as things unfolded. The disorientation of finding ourselves far from where we planned and unable to influence what was happening. This moment on the river seemed like the perfect metaphor.

Ebb and Flow

When you first clamber onto a paddleboard it can feel disconcerting. The slightest shift and you’re close to toppling over. You have to find that sweet spot where you can be stable and balanced but also be flexible and responsive. And of course you’re dangerously at the mercy of external forces. A passing boat’s wake can knock you off unless you face into it and ride it. The wind and tide are constantly shifting. You need to predict and plan to make sure that you’re not stuck fighting the elements to keep moving. So many parallels to this last year.

Best laid plans

I took a week off working last week and it was interesting.

Like for many of us, the thought of a week off was exhilarating.

You plan everything you need to do so that nothing needs your input.

You organise fun things to do and all the deep rest you’re going to get.

You cross your fingers and pray for the English weather to behave.

And then when it comes?

It’s rarely what you think it will be!

Drifting off course

This brings me back to that paddleboard. This last year has felt like trying to paddle against the tide and the wind. The force of the elements driving hard towards us with such strength that at times it’s been virtually impossible to stay upright. And then those periods of complete slackness with no movement or momentum. It’s been one hell of a ride. And when I finally stopped this week, I felt the exhaustion of that journey. A kind of deep, slow reckoning has rumbled up from inside of me. My body and soul letting me know that it needs some time and some compassion from me. Not because I’m not where I want to be, but because the cost of that progress and survival isn’t sustainable.

The Racing Tide

What I realised last week is that since the lockdowns began to ease things have been more intense than I’d acknowledged. Do you feel it too? Like suddenly we’re rushing with the tide. Being pulled along almost against our will. Rushing. Flowing again. Exhilarating but also a bit terrifying. How can we slow it down?

The Gift of Time

I made a decision during this week of reflection to radically care for myself. For me that starts with setting intentions. Taking back control of the drift and setting a course that feels in flow. neither racing faster than I can cope with nor pushing against the tide. Here’s my 4 step formula for how to do just that: 1. Review and Reflect Create a scheduled time to review and reflect. This sounds a bit basic but how often do we create space for just reflecting? I know for me there’s always the more urgent and pressing demands that shout louder. So committing to that time is vital. 2. Accept and let go Part of that reflection process may mean truly noting and acknowledging all that you’ve experienced. You might uncover difficult thoughts and feelings that haven’t had any air time. It can feel disorienting to have them burst out when on the surface you’ve felt fine. So if you notice that you feel low or emotional, take that as a good sign. You’ve made room for them to be released. 3. Set intentions Make some decisions about how you want to show up in your life. What matters to you? What type of person do you want to be? What’s your deepest desires for your life? Express them even if you feel a long way from being that person or living that life. The expression of what you want is vital to make it a reality. 4. Take small consistent action What’s the smallest actions I can take that will take me towards the life I want? For me that’s re-commiting to my daily practices that I know keep me balanced. Reminding myself that just a few minutes a day really can turn the dial the right way. Setting yourself up to succeed means choosing wisely and compassionately. You don’t need to radically overhaul your life, just take the first baby steps.

Let’s Forgive First

We all have scars of one sort or another from this last year. Things that we need to let go of and forgive. I’d love to welcome you to my next guest expert session with Jane Lewis. Jane’s focus is on helping people release the blocks and baggage that block the flow of energy through our bodies and cause tension and even disease. She’ll take us through a release process to help free up blocked energy and bring lightness and a deeper sense of connection. I can’t think of a better way to kick start getting back in flow! You can sign up to join us for free here.

21 Days to releasing Stress and Overwhelm

If you know you’d like a gently baby steps journey to help you get back on track, my 21 Day Stress and Overwhelm Detox is the perfect solution. You’ll receive a daily email with a bite sized learning and practice. Designed to be both practical to manage but also powerful for results. I’m here to support you all the way with access to my membership community throughout your 21 days. Join us here

Laura @ Be. x

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading". - Lao Tzu


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