Sunday, 8 November 2015

7 Ways a Good Divorce is Like Strictly Come Dancing

 I am kind of an old fashioned girl at heart, I like dancing as a couple, a pretty frock and good music and so I took myself off to Strictly Come Dancing with my Daughter for a night to remember.

We were royally treated to a marquee, a few previous featured celebrities and a whole load of supportive friends and family.  All very, very excited about the next 6 hours ahead ....

So I am sitting in my seat in the 'oh my goodness I am here' audience watching Strictly Come Dancing. It a show that has become a dear part of many lives, a regular topic of conversation in coffee bars, on buses, news and internet and I was struck by how a good divorce can be so like Strictly.  

Now no doubt a big whoa will be uttered by some in shock but read on, see how you feel, have I allayed your fears and curiosity ...let me know did I get this right?

First up is the "I never thought I could dance" ... Yup I get that, I never thought I could divorce well and neither do any of us on hitting the divorcing dance floor. Just as the Strictly dance floor looks so much bigger on TV, divorce is also so very different in real life. There is no rule book for having a good divorce and it is a gut wrenching business. We each have a designated pro guiding us on how the process works, however, our personal reality is a dance floor of potential slip, slide and a screw up coming out of divorce, with little or no measure of self-empowerment and kindness to self for all to see.

2nd - The whole of your world is watching, married family members, friends that have been through a divorce and those with fearing anticipation waiting in the Facebook wings. Everyone watching checks out your every move, whether it's a Foxtrot Feather Step and the initial meeting with a lawyer, the Rumba Side Break with the mediation route beckoning or Paso Doble Drag with delay tactics and games. It takes practice, commitment and a generous laying out of your soul on the dance floor of life every week.  Removing your ego from the divorce or dancing process helps focus on what is really important. That is learning fundamentally as a human to become a little kinder and better at it every week.  

Thirdly - The Art of Discretion and not airing your laundry in happens... does it need to?  Strictly Come Dancing has a policy or golden rule of respect, sanctity and discretion. There is the understanding that even in this social media fuelled age, no one gives the result away before the Sunday night showing (it is recorded on Saturday night), everyone in mutual agreement that this would in some way debase this institution. Do we as divorcing peoples need to give our game away? Is that little social media contribution necessary? Does it make us feel any better giving energy to actions that cause hurt, mistrust and disappointment?  Karma, kismet, fate, power ... really do we feel any better in ourselves for wielding the social media sword?  Strictly doesn't seem to think so... I like that...

Fourth - Support is there - everyone wants your divorce to be okay, kind and respectful for you and your kids if you have them, for your family and friends.  Divorcees and dancers on either the dance floor of life or Elstree are all learning, feeling their way and ever so bravely taking on the challenges presented in their different formats every week.  It is our intention to have a good divorce that can keep us on that path, one full of support and admiration. Working on having a respectful, kind and gentle divorce heralds the same emotions from your loved ones as the audience does with Strictly. Know this, be proud of what you are achieving, being part of a movement to change the way we look at divorce and life. Know and believe it is supportive not lonely, understanding not judgemental, kind not harsh.   

5th - It gets uncomfortable... so the seats are small, 4 hours into recording there is a quick loo break, a gleeful handing out of a chocolate bar and a carton of juice.... With divorce it gets uncomfortable, it can be a long process sometimes especially when trying to get it right for everyone.  The offerings may be small along the way, but with the intention and the energy directed towards the end result of an experience that is truly positive is what keeps us focused.  Working together in your divorce for the good of the situation, for the final 'kindful' result is the binding, cohesive twine that exists in a life Waltz, a good divorce need not just be an illusion. There can be decorum, poise and a sense that with respect and kindness, a jettisoning of feel good emotions onto a visible dance floor can be a good journey ... 

No.6 - Be gentle with your brave, amazing and extraordinary self. Accept that some days are easier, as humans we don't always get it right, go with the flow and listen to your intuition. Understand that even with the best intentions choosing a Tango too early or risking
failure with a Progressive Side-Step Reverse Turn helps us learn.  

As Strictly shows us, the power of happiness, pleasantries and glamour hand in hand without the copious amounts of booze seen elsewhere on a Saturday night is a place we can all learn from. Hurting our bodies, our minds and souls with endless bottles of wine, unhelpful amounts of chocolate and no exercise is a well worn path to lack of self worth and feelings of failure.  Happiness can be found everywhere we choose to look; in a smile; a phone call; a walk in nature; giving someone you love a hug or telling someone you love them...

Finally as my 7th comparative we have the judges.  Life is full of judging types; there are those here to gently nudge and guide you; others with their straight talk with the necessary touch of the serious and judges that remind you of the lighter side of life.  Of happier times when we are feeling the creeping waves of failure, of self-doubt and judgement.  

In the end it is we, is it not, who are our harshest judges? We so often enshroud ourselves with the negative bias, this self-belief that we are worthy can be hard work and take much commitment. Taking those small steps, those empowering moves forward, every day, learning to be accepting, present and human is the big WORTH IT, we know this ... deep inside.

Time is a healer, it gives us space to reaffirm our good intentions, it helps us change our thinking, to believe in a future which is brighter, happier and easier.... we are not so different as divorcees trying to be kinder, than as the world of Strictly Come dancing; we are all learning processes which ultimately can benefit us; make us laugh again and shine a brighter light out to all those that are watching.

With love x

To Radio Times for Strictly Image 

Monday, 26 October 2015

My Top Mindfulness Tip to Help You on a Monday

Okay so it is Monday morning, the alarm has gone off and the week is beginning.  How many of us wake with a sense of feeling overwhelmed, overburdened and on the repetitive walking 'travelator' of life?  

As a mindfulness teacher I am often asked for easy tips people can use to help them feel calmer, more in control and less stressed. Monday mornings are a good place to start, setting your week with a good intention, even to practice a little mindfulness is a positive!

So quite simply I use a great practice called Belly Breathing which is a natural way of breathing... and it really is that simple .... have a read through, try it out in the car, before a meeting, on the train, at your desk, before seeing your Ex, whilst the kettle is boiling, in a supermarket queue, on your lunch break ... belly breath with your kids or at work... This little baby is great at anchoring ourselves into a more present moment state of awareness and can help give us respite from repetitive ruminating thoughts and worries.  

Try to practice this as often as possible, write the magic numbers down on post it notes around your home, office or in the car to remind you to practice .... 

Belly Breathing

If you can find a quiet place to sit. Once you’re comfortable, place one palm gently around the area of your navel and the other palm on your chest.  Continue to breathe normally and notice the movements of your hands. Does the hand on your belly move as you breathe in and out? And what about the hand on your chest? Which one moves the most – the hand
on your belly or your chest? If the hand on your chest is moving but not your belly, you are breathing in a shallow way.

By learning belly breathing, you’re likely to feel more relaxed and have more energy, as your body will be fed with more oxygen.  If it helps, think of a baby or a young child breathing, you’ll see that their belly, seems to expand and contract slowly and smoothly as they breathe in and out.

Begin by imagining there is a balloon in your belly….When you breathe in you’re inflating that balloon…. And when you breathe out, that balloon deflates ….. Now breathe in so that you fill the imaginary balloon in your belly as much as possible….Hold your breath for about two seconds and then breathe out as slowly and smoothly as you can using your mouth, as if you are blowing through a straw….. now let your breath be normal and natural again. 

Notice how you feel.  That was one belly breath. It was more exaggerated than a natural belly breath, but this technique helps to engage your relaxation response helping you counteract any feelings of stress.  Just taking one breath in this way can help you to find some relaxation when you are feeling tense.

Now you can try counting as you do a belly breath.  On your next in breath, breathe deeply and smoothly, expanding your belly as you slowly count to four ..1..2..3..4 hold for a count of two .. 1..2.. and now slowly exhale to a count of six 1..2..3..4..5..6 and now breathe as you normally do….just notice how you feel this time….by extending the amount of time you breathe out compared to breathing in, you encourage your body to relax and your mind to calm….Your breath has a direct link to the systems in your body that make you feel relaxed

Belly breaths, send signals to your body that it is safe for you to feel relaxed and at ease. Your blood pressure goes down, your muscles relax and you think in a more positive and creative way.

So the magic numbers to remember are .... 4, 2 and 6 .... easy ....

Notice how you feel now.  Consider how relaxed you feel. Are you more or less relaxed than when you started? If you’re less relaxed, try not to worry or judge yourself as to whether you breathed correctly, if this is the first time you have tried this technique, like everything it comes with a little practice.

Try to use a few belly breaths any time you feel excessively stressed or overwhelmed, to help you feel more calm, relaxed and in control. 

Give yourself permission to belly breathe for 5-10 mins a day for two weeks or so and see what effect it has.

A little mindfulness is better than no mindfulness ... 

Natasha x

**I am very excited that my blog is being updated very shortly with a whole new look and I am currently recording webinars for a course designed to empower, guide and help you through your divorce .... 

Friday, 16 October 2015

Is there shame in crying for 4 hours in the bathroom?

I was told the other day about a well known blogger state side who never presses the Publish button until he is really scared of what he has written. If not scared enough, he goes back in, has a rewrite, then presses the ta dah button. 

So often we get into a comfortable life modus operandi and we pop our 'stuff' on a shelf, kind of out of the way, nevertheless still visible and sometimes uncomfortably THERE. And it kind of got me thinking, have I scared myself recently with what I have written....? Would it still be too painful to share the even darker parts of life, divorce and my mental health? I thought about courage and vulnerability ....

One afternoon, 18 months into my divorce, I hit a mental and emotional wall. It was the middle of the week, the children were at school, life was seemingly OK and there were no obvious signs of distress.  I was in the kitchen making a cup of tea and I just stopped and I began to cry. The really big, full tears, the tears that drop onto your cheeks and splatter their heaviness onto your lips, chin and chest.  They kept on falling and I didn’t know why. My body began to feel very much smaller, I sunk into my frame, shrinking, my shoulders so low, curved protectively inwards and hands felt limp and physically lifeless. 

I looked about me and realised this room was far too big for me to be in, I needed to go somewhere, somewhere small, embryonic, dark.  My bedroom was not the place either and I stumbled around my home as if I had entered a shrinking Wonderland where nothing seemed as it should be.... feeling more and more nothingness. I found a small space, the downstairs loo, the smallest space.  I closed the door on my big eyed, concerned dogs, sank to the floor, knees up to my chest and I really began to cry. I felt the most helpless ever, feeling like I had no strength to do anything, but surrender to the waves of sadness, despair and utter numbness, feelings so unexpectedly engulfing me. I cried for the loss and the sadness, the shame and the anger of divorce. I sobbed out loud, cradling my knees, rocking myself as I would a baby. I                                                                                              

felt the most raw, open and surrendered human I have ever been, like a carcass on an arid desert plateau with a few responsive vultures picking over what was left. I envisaged the sun beating down on me, forcing me to cry, to release and to just be with my emotions and feelings… There was no trigger, I had no clear reasons, no obvious real drama that week or month. I knew divorce weighed heavily, but out of nowhere came this rising of a big red emotional flag and the present moment awareness of 'me' in this ‘state’.   

And then I began to think of the possibility of a nervous breakdown? Could it be that my mental health was not as robust as I had thought it was? What were the triggers for this - exhaustion, balance, stress? Any number of these could be queuing up for the fallout fest going on in my being.  My stomach wanted to wretch, to clear out the emotional detritus, I was eager for escape from the confines of my emotional control freakery, or ‘the holding it together’.  I wanted to sick out, expunge everything, to be clear and vulture cleansed of
whatever I was desperate to release.... So 3 hours later, I still was not ready and I cried some more. I cried for the world, for families torn apart by war, hatred and religious fervour.  I cried for the children who every day who, no matter what, have smiles that reach out and touch us from their beautiful innocent souls and hearts.... I cried until I began to feel a lightness entering into my mind, body and spirit, relinquishing divorce shame, grief and failure tears, all capitulating completely and with abandon that afternoon.

I came to and took the biggest breath of air, I needed space, to go and stand in the garden, to let the rain wash the salty trails off my cheeks, to feel my dog’s noses

nuzzling my palms and breathe new air into myself.  

What I learnt that afternoon was that what ever I was going through was real, human and although I had not understood the last few hours, I knew I was not done yet... I was not done with believing and trusting my inner extraordinary strength. I understood my vulnerability that afternoon, that I was not weak, I was resilient... I had shown my softest underbelly to myself in my surrender and I was still strong enough, whole and alive.

Holding on so tightly to stuff that exists in all of us inside and NOT crying can be exhausting. What I acknowledged and experienced that afternoon was a release that gave me the space. A space to be filled instead with positive change in my well-being, kindness to myself, less judgement and comparison, enabling me to take responsibility for my mental health. So do I have shame writing this blog?  No I don't, it has been liberating... has it taken courage to write it .... yes, very much so.  Am I scared to press the Publish button ...yes, I am human....

With love Natasha

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Divorce Goddess - blog, advice and mentoring: The Art of Mindfully Communicating with your Ex

Divorce Goddess - blog, advice and mentoring: The Art of Mindfully Communicating with your Ex: How  do you go about continuing the relationship with your Ex? Especially if a breakdown in communication itself was a cause of your divo...