Friday, 25 December 2015

Divorce - My First Christmas Without My Kids

This is my first Christmas without my kids as a divorcee and in truth I am finding this really hard..... 

I like to think I am usually a positive and cool, accepting and generous parent about my kids. The Ex and I have so very few arguments, disagreements or quarrels about our children. The Ex and I are mostly in agreement about visits, holidays and we really make it work.  So why have I felt so utterly sad at the prospect of waking up on Christmas morning, in my new home that the kids and I now so happily share with a gorgeous man, with no little voices squealing with delight at finding treasures at the end of their beds?....  

So this little unexpected 'saddie', is it because these times do exist in all our lives, just differently, whether you are divorced, separated or married.... acknowledging thoughts of past, unhappy and married Christmas days making my skin prickle. The thing is, it is my first Christmas without my kids and it is hurting... not because my Ex is enjoying their happiness, excitement and mirth, but because my home will just be .... well a whole lot quieter and a lot more different ....

We as humans are so adverse to change, the children included too, no matter how accepting they are, we are all feeling the weirdness of a first Christmas without each other. It is hard for us all.  I am mindfully aware to not allow my wobbled energy to seep into my children's thought arena, I want my beautiful children to enjoy their Christmas.  Despite a different dynamic... mindfully I want to let it go, just be without that little part of my brain and ego shouting for what I know has always been and for what is going to console 'me'...

What is now a normal Christmas in a divorced or separated world? Is it two Christmases, two turkeys with Boxing Day as now the added Christmas Day extra? Does the prospect of this upset children as much as it may do the parents? Of course it does, if there is one day of the year that my kids wish life was different it is Christmas Day. 

Letting that part of human control freakery go is an important step in accepting that life is different after divorce or separation and embracing the differences in all our new lives with positivity and possibilities a kinder and more generous way forward for all.... 
So here is a question.... would as many parents swop a possible day in bed, eating and drinking, being totally and selfishly indulgent, doing whatever they wanted with their Partner, for the sing song laughter of their children opening up their stockings on Christmas morning with a day of cooking, noise and busyness?  

Currently I am working on getting my head and heart around the prospect of a wonderfully self-indulgent mischievous Christmas Day.... to have gratitude that I am handing my children over to my Ex and his Partner who love and adore them and who too want this Christmas to be as special and wonderful as can be...

Have a wonderful Christmas, sending you all love, joy and happiness ....


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 black 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...

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 divorce. What do you do if you have children together?  Does the end of a relationship with someone who you may no longer love, connect with or even like any more give you the right to behave without a sense of dignity, pride or compassion?  Not one of us can truly take ownership of the mantle of behavioural perfection in a relationship.  

So are you are a good, kind and generous hearted human being or are you some crazy, hate infused, gun wielding (I could go on) pixelated screen monster that ought to be left to the plastic electrical games consoles (Ex-box :))... Visualise yourself as this on screen character – do you really want your Ex seeing you as the visceral chief gamer of more emotional, physical and mental destruction?   Do you want to see yourself as this character? Do you want the beginning of the rest of your life to be shored up under the guise of this confused, scared and frightened person?  How good would it feel to know that you could be strong enough to be respectful, kind and decent not only to yourself but to your Ex too? To leave your bruised, hurting and embarrassed ego at the door of the future relationship in whatever form it becomes thus lending itself to the greater good of all those involved.

So here are a few of my tips to help you mindfully communicate with your Ex:

1.  Your Amazing Grace 
Firstly grace doesn’t hold fair hands with a war mongering, shoot 'em up verbaliser. If you can, try to see yourself serene, calm and in your own protective cool power. If you are up against an angry Ex -  let them have their space to be the fighty one and just see if their attitude changes. It is a strange energy dynamic that happens when you change the energy of your own attitude and outlook, invariably those around you begin to also change. A breathing practise of breathing in for 4, holding for 2 then out slowly for 6, five times worked for me. Feeling and seeing yourself with a sense of calm can help your voice sound and you feel more relaxed, allowing you to pick up the phone, to go meet your Ex or have that necessary Skype conversation.  Trust yourself that you can be the calm person you know you can be.

2.   Preparation and Planning   Have a clear objective about what you both are going to talk about, email each other about subject matter, dates and times. Planning as with all difficult situations gives everyone due time to prepare, to think about what is to be discussed. Point scoring by landing a scenario on your Ex that could have been planned, although at times tempting, is very likely to upset you both and is unhelpful. Although life’s sneaky curve balls happen invariably when we least need them, be mindful that we can’t always keep our meetings or be on time.  As you would with your family, friends or workplace, text, email, even try an apology, rearrange and keep your cool kindly.
3.   Check in with yourself   Get into the habit of embracing the natural mindfulness inherent within you.  Every time, before communicating, get good at checking how you are feeling.  If you are minded to be vitriolic and get on the email then do - write down your thoughts, feelings and frustrations then take that critical step back, even for an hour, the rest of the day or overnight and PARK the written stuff in the Draft Box. Return when you've slept, eaten, not drunk wine and read it again – if it is bad stuff then better you wrote it down, to help clear it, do not feel guilty, just don’t press SEND.  Write your emails to your Ex as if you were writing to yourself, be gentle - you are both going through the ‘stuff’ no matter who is at fault. Our brains can filter differently, but the hurt, shame and sadness still exists on some level. Awareness is the key to mindfully communicating with our Ex, appreciating we are all so different, so read, reread and check again.

4.   Leave the expectations and control freakery alone Realistically controlling your Ex, is going to be about as easy as stopping a brilliant viral video clip.  Just let the talk, the meet and the seeing of your Ex happen, allowing it to be as it is, without negative or positive expectations of any interaction. You know the plan of the meeting, you arrived all prepared, calm and good and if your Ex doesn’t, don’t let the emotional mashup happen, let the "shoulds" just be.  Our automatic pilot of negativity can then send us down the angry mind monkey 101 disappointment dungeon …  There were times at this juncture where I would try so very hard not to swear a lot and I would ask the Universe why is it, with all our good intentions do we end up suddenly in this place? Because, dear beautiful people, this is life.  Acceptance is that we cannot control everything, sometimes letting go is the big one and none more so than when feeling vulnerable, fearful and unsure.

5.  Hearing The Rants. Your Ex doesn’t need to hear your drama. Okay, so leave the cross, ranty married or partner person alone – give yourself permission to not be that person any more! Do you in your most honest heart of hearts think your Ex wants to hear any more complaints or personal 'flea in the ear' grumblings? It’s dull, boring and now needs to not be an option for either of you, it leads to arguments or a closing down and then no talking which is worse ....Your Ex no longer needs to be your emotional crutch, so go shout at the clouds or sun at the top of a big hill, verbally pound a pillow or phone a friend. Not having that shoulder around no matter how much you’ve been hurt is hard – FACT, learning to deal with your drama yourself – now that is empowering. 

6.   Your Well-being  How 'angsty' can we all become, so very easily when we haven’t eaten, are tired and may be with a little alcohol under our belts?  How easy is it to give more thought to negativity that can so naturally flow when we least expect it?  Perhaps the meeting went badly at work, you are stressed about a project, the kids are ill, money is tight and the hot date cancelled....  this is just the stuff mind monkeys prod us with to send our well-intentioned conversations with our Ex ‘red’ side. Picking up the phone in this state feels defiant, the powerhouse ego expands and 5 minutes later your phone call/email has depleted the GOOD WILL pile you are trying so hard to build. Looking after your well-being is so important to our bodies and brains supporting us through these stressed times.  Get your sleep in, nourish yourself with good fresh healthy food, think seriously about the unhelpfuls such as alcohol or smoking. Go exercise, dance in the kitchen, burn off some of that mental energy and find laughter...anywhere.

7.   The drama triangle   Have a look, understand where you are in this, what aspect do you choose to adopt depending on the conversations you are having with your Ex. For me it was a helpful reminder of the roles we can all choose to play depending on how we are feeling at any given time.  So it shows us specific, co-dependent, destructive inter-action patterns, which in the end can have a negative impact our lives and future relationship with our Ex. So depending on how I felt; whether feeling so sorry for myself; being supportive and kind; or just plain cross, I became the Victim, the Rescuer or Persecutor. We can so easily slot into these roles and becoming aware and mindful of this when we are scared, lonely or angry helps identify and break the pattern. This gives us the opportunity to create a healthier relationship with our Ex and with importantly with ourselves.
8.   Remembering your manners   Your Ex, no matter how your mind has fashioned this person since your troubles began, is still and will continue to be part of the fabric of your life, whether you have children or not.  They have been in your life, they ain't going away, the memories may fade but really, will they disappear? Be kind and if not kind be polite... you can do this..... It is OK to say sorry if you are late, if you get upset, to be gracious if they mess up.  Divorce doesn’t have to be about winners and losers any more, but rather working together towards a common good, it is about keeping your cool and with it your balanced lovely head.

8.   Keep it Simple - Literally, the more we add drama and emotional baggage to the divorce pyre the more we keep it burning and the more management it needs, the longer it is going to hang around and the more money it is going to cost.  No matter how scary our futures feel with in most cases the lack of money, housing, savings, fancy handbags if you want and the like, keeping your eye on what matters, what is important and needs to be dealt with is your focus. Learning to be in a different relationship with your Ex is weird, tricky and hard, but what is harder is not trying ….

With love Natasha 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Divorce and Splitting Your Vinyl

'Stuff' in the dictionary amongst other definitions is the material used to pad out a taxidermist's delight... it fills out the skin of a dead animal or bird to restore the original shape and appearance... 

And with this comes the aspect of the 'dead' bit in relationships and the stuff that is bought and collected to keep the marital shell looking as it should. So when we as couples part ways, are we as readily able, with our exciting new lives ahead to allow the shedding of a layer of stuff. A layer which allows us much needed space to grow, breathe and rejuvenate.

Inevitably during separation and divorce there comes that time where you both take a big breath in and decide to take a realistic look at the splitting of your material assets. 

Now generally at this point, the wise choice would be to send any emotional and angry 'Mine' monkeys back as far as, well possibly another galaxy. Splitting the home contents can be tricky territory or it may not ... it kind of depends on how you both choose to draw that material line.  

Whether this line is a firm pen mark drawn definitively and ruleresque down the middle, or a casual pencil wiggle ...or no line and a 'strong with no regrets' walk away from the whole chattel minefield. 

However cool you both are, it can bring up a whole load of buried memories, good times and laughter that can unexpectedly knock you a little sideways. And it is like these 'Mine' monkeys have just crept back in to stir up the proprietorial emotional pot with shared smiles and laughter, still intimate moments that can add to the toughness of the task ahead. 

So when choosing to divvy up your worldly goods, you need to remember this is pretty much a life long decision. You really need to be sure you are not going to live to regret the day you walked or left stuff begrudgingly, because at that certain time you were "going to be fine without it" ... It can just be this little crazy laissez-faire that keeps those resentment monkeys living unhealthily inside your head and heart for years to come. Do we not all know someone who has anguished forever over a rash decision to leave granny's heavy writing bureau? The advice is I guess... when you walk you walk.  

Does padding our lives with "stuff" bear out the basic fundamental human desire to surround and protect yourself with possessions?  In our society we have allowed "stuff" to increasingly define us, our social positioning and something to shop for at the weekend. Stuff sneakily courts and entices enviable recognition, it can place us within the neurotic pecking order of a socio economic group and with it the easy come, easy go material reassurance of life worth.

So these lines we draw whilst sitting in anger, hurt and love? Which do we choose?  Do we choose to punish our Ex through material gain? Do we choose to be guilt free and act with grace?  So what to do? Here is a thought about letting go of all the material stuff you thought ever mattered? Do you trust enough in the Universal Law of Attraction that in letting go, it all comes back as it is supposed to, delivering with it a more altruistic joy?

For sure, especially with children in your lives is it not better to have a little of everything known and familiar to them in each house? But do any of us need the attachment of anger, bitterness and resentment to reside energetically in our future new homes ingrained in pieces of wood, metal or plastic?

That is until the possibility of stuff being taken from you becomes an ever so slightly heavier mantel to bear and you start to grip a little tighter.  Thought processes surrounding 'the stuff' kind of begins with the fears of being able to let go.  The irrational brain throws a garage sale party where everything costs emotionally double and the head monkeys are the security chiefs They aren't letting in any of those free thinking, mindful types and they are just not going to open the door to anyone who wants to play nicely.  

Resistance to handing materialism away is futile, the future of love and happiness versus the big houses, the expensive furniture, cars etc. Stuff hides away happiness, love and freedom and really THIS is the important stuff in life. So is this the time to decide the measure perhaps, of how much we want something? Why does it ultimately matter who keeps what? Where does the line of pride fall?

Nowadays everything linked to technical brilliance can be backed up onto a lofty cloud... the technological age has metered out its positives alone by diminishing the who has what CD or vinyl argument with a little downloading (well OK maybe not the vinyl). A smaller bit of kit to move into your maybe smaller house....  are the days of arguing over vinyl almost gone or maybe that is another blog in itself...  

How many of us would like to think we could be good at managing without the shackles of 'stuff'. That we could all live freely of so much that surrounds us, to live minimally, simply and cathartically cleansing our lives regularly. Sorting through your life accoutrements is a real life lesson in learning to let go of what does not necessarily serve you in your new, exciting and unknown future. 

Natasha x

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Gratitude .... what an incredible world and life we have ....

This is a gift from a friend of mine who posted this on Facebook this morning .... to all the people of the world .... this is another day .... with love x

A beautiful day - Gratitude

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Thank you Sunday Times and My Divorce Mentoring Packages

So very happy to be in the The Sunday Times this weekend with in with a mention!

This is the time of year where the divorce reality bites, the lawyers are busy... and so many good, kind people are in a world of pain, fear and confusion...

If you read my blog you will know that I used the mediation process with my ex-husband for our divorce.. and wrote a blog or two about our experience of Mediation. I support mediation and understand that whilst it is not for everyone, it was a process that worked for us coupled with the attitude of kindness which really helped. I created this blog to write about subjects that are the everyday issues and concerns that so many lovely people have when the divorce world arrives.

How can I help ...

My divorce mentoring provides 3 month and 6 month packages providing you with practical and emotional support during your divorce.  I work with men and women to help them navigate and cope with their divorce journey from a kinder, more compassionate and less fearful place.  I teach my clients mindfulness practices to encourage them to adopt a more accepting approach to the challenges of divorce, I teach the attitude of gratitude and with my help comes a big dose of happiness!

My aim is to create a safe, supportive and non-judgemental place for you to talk through your divorce fears, trials and difficulties.  I would love you to feel calmer, more positive and focused on having a kinder and less expensive divorce. 

Having a good divorce benefits everyone: You, your ex-partner, your children, family and friends.  So the well-being of your mind, body and soul is without question a priority in a divorce.  If you are in a positive place, the divorce process can become less fraught and much less expensive.

Benefits of Natasha's Divorce Mentoring Packages:

  • Weekly 1 hour divorce coaching sessions
  • Guidance on preparation for mediation meetings and what to expect
  • Guidance on defining your goals - will your divorce define the rest of your life?
  • Sharing with you daily practical mindfulness and positive life practices
  • Email support for those unexpected low days or moments
  • Free access to Divorcing Mindfully audio meditations
  • And lots more ...

Please contact me by email for an informal chat about how I can help you.

Thank you to Resolution for the opportunity of the piece in the Sunday Times.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Meet my Friend Lonely ...

I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone - Robin Williams

Okay so I am going to introduce you to an occasional friend called Lonely, who is part of a gang called Perception.  Other feelings in the collective are known as Alone, Unwanted and Empty and together they all have this canny little knack of sneakin’ up on so many of us and when we least expect it. 

Especially at the end of a marriage, relationship, friendship or through death, we experience varying degrees of isolation, fear and sadness.  It is pretty much guaranteed that our old emotional friend ‘Lonely’ will nonchalantly turn up to assess the state of our aching and fearful hearts as we live each day carrying our life 'grocery bags'. 

So in reality how alone are we? We know there are a very great number of human beings, on their own, living their good lives all around this huge planet of ours. There are millions of us all walking around wanting to be connected as friends, lovers, to be loved, hugged, smiled at and spoken to. And the best bit is this, lest we forget or ignore this simple fact that we also have our own incredible selves to be friends with.... hmmmm this feels a little tricky doesn't it... why is it so difficult to allow our ourselves to be the natural antidote to our loneliness? 

Is this why Lonely feels it's okay to rock up to and encapsulate our sad, hurting hearts? Could it just be that Lonely is the majority shareholder of that powerful and egotistical of all perception clubs - The Feelings Club of Human Pain? The club run by a bunch of Mafioso head monkeys, the club where Lonely takes us, endlessly dancing with Lack of Self-Esteem.   We partake in heart messing activities, generally taking us down the less compassionate route as we hang out with bar flies like Emotions and Feelings.  And so we dance ignoring the collective of Past, Childhood and Judgement Pain who get up to shimmy, pinch our asses and pull some of their saddest memory moves on the dance floor of our lives .... and Lonely is the DJ.

So do I have space for that feeling Lonely? Not so much any more,… not since I made the decision to take my life off mindless autopilot, with the help of mindfulness and some difficult self-befriending. Sure I learnt that observing and sitting with Lonely is a whole lot kinder to myself, than perhaps activities such as immersing myself in shopping at the Avoidance Mall or endless online dating. 

You see I had created my life to be very, very busy, blogging, working, studying, being a Mumma, helping friends and family and there wasn't that much space left for anything else.  So I didn't have to truly face why Lonely wanted to befriend me, I thought I was all good, managing the lonely, ouchy moments. 

And the reason we aren't quite so adept at Being, is because we are just SO very busy Doing.  Our exhausted minds are stressed and sometimes wildly unfocused on so much that is not always helpful. And this is where Lonely sneaks us into The Feelings Club with a very non-VIP pass.

Does it feel comfortable allowing your extraordinary and lovely self to be a human "Being", can we take present moment time to remember we ourselves are our own most precious sanctuary in life? Compulsive consumerism, avoidance dating and functioning without feeling are never going to make room for you to find that most important friendship of all...  Yeah the one with the interesting, worthy, funny, intelligent and beautiful self that is YOU...  

Here are a couple of questions ...would you treat a favourite pet or friend the way you treat yourself when you are lonely? Would you poison the ones you love with unhelpful food, or substances, would you berate them for being too stupid, too fat or so worthless? So why is it then okay to behave that way towards ourselves?..... 

So next time Lonely and the gang comes a knockin’ on your Manor door, welcome them in, sit with them, make them tea, be happy to see them and understand they are visiting you only because you don't want them to...

And Lonely ever our personal solace friend of choice? Well just may be.... if we are feeling a little mischievous ....

With love x 

Monday, 17 August 2015

Mindfulness in a Divorce Part I

SO, HO, HO... how did mindfulness become my "go to" when divorcing life got tough for me. Those mornings waking with THAT rock cosily tucked into my solar plexus, my mind full of juggling thought balls and my faithful mind monkeys partying day and night, how did mindfulness find its incredible way through the scary unknown? 

A very thoughtful, kind friend handed me - John Kabat-Zinn's Full Catastrophe Living and one day, after dropping my children off at school, the reality hit of another day of The World of Divorce and I took to my bed. Feeling embryonic and safe, I started to read, words that allowed me to understand the potential of mindfulness to be the salve to my emotionally supercharged life. 

I dipped into chapters that resonated, the words soothing fears of the future, actions of the past and what was offering itself to me during this present moment, in my bed, a safe place. Glimmer of Hope shimmied up and waved at resident Agitation, (a player in "unknown and scary single parent world ") and acknowledged Responsibilities unhappily holding hands with Divorce and all these aspects convening on a simple method of mentally changing your brain for the betterment....

The monkeys scattered unhelpful thoughts such as "YOU are too stressed", "YOU don't have time" and "can YOU even meditate?" BaHaHaHa they laughed........ 

I pondered over a definition of mindfulness "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, whilst, calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations" ... it felt right, my intuition spurring me on...have a go...

So I laid on my bed, found a Body Scan mindfulness meditation of about 30 mins and I began to listen...I fell asleep at the left ankle.....kind of first base... YUP!  Sleep deprivation, a dulcet voice soothing my frayed brain was inevitable. I woke up to silence, felt frustrated and negatively self-judgemental for my inability to even focus for 30 minutes on what I had thought would be an instant calm
panacea, a shining light on my journey to mental peace.

So that day I chose to feel beholden to my frustrations, continuing the day in a state of flustered disappointment. What I was fighting to understand was that mindfulness is about acceptance, without any judgement, whatever the outcome is, and being kind to yourself regardless. Acknowledging that maybe, it could take days, weeks or months to stay awake during a Body Scan, SO the thing is...YOU ARE DOING IT... IF you fall asleep it could just be that your body and mind maybe crying out for that extra 30 mins KIPPAGE.... it can be as simple as that.... 

Now being that quite headstrong person, I returned to the tome later on that evening and I read that mindfulness is NOT just about meditation, BUT living mindfully too....

So.... the next morning, with a reluctance of sorts, boosted by head monkeys hanging around the kettle, I decided to mindfully make myself a cup of tea...It felt hard, giving myself permission to make a cup of tea, slowly, amidst the chaos of the morning rush. I focused on filling up the kettle, putting a teabag into the cup, filling the cup, feeling the weight and heat of the cup in my hands, smelling and breathing in the aroma of the tea and then slowly drinking it.....savouring the experience ....

What I realised was this.... in my busy thought-driven automatic pilot day, I often drank a cup of lukewarm tea; something I was mostly disenchanted with, but in the thought driven day had never any attachment to the enjoyment of it...

So the hot tea mindful felt...good. I realised I had chosen to focus on the present and my mind had been given a mini breather. I felt surprisingly better as I finished the children's morning preparations.  I gave them focused attention and recognised this as being mindful and on balance, although my Body Scan meditation didn't work first time, this home tea "experiment" did.

SO ...I had a little chat with my head monkeys, I told them I was going to train them, they might not like it for a while, we would have good days and bad days... however ... with patience and possibilities, we could all have workable boundaries. The monkeys would be fed and watered regularly by a happier, less anxious head monkey keeper and our lives together could be more productive, kinder and a whole lot less judgemental. Of course the monkeys were cynical, change is difficult and mostly scary, but somewhere down the line in this commitment to mindfulness ....we all agreed life could be immeasurably better.

This is an ongoing Blog of my mindfulness journey resulting in me training to teach mindfulness to others. 

I hope very much you stay with me on this ... mindfulness has really helped me ... OH AND BY THE WAY...this word "SHOULD".... go write it on a piece of paper and burn it. It really is a word that mind monkeys enjoy us using and it serves no purpose other than to make us feel unworthy, guilty ....and when we feel these emotions, we generally are less kinder to ourselves.

With love Natasha X

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