How are you doing today...?
I feel tired (not enough sleep), a little tense (crazy hormones and back to school tomorrow), and yet, hopeful (a new year stretches ahead...).
I also feel a bit overwhelmed and under pressure...
Probably because in January, it's all too easy to get sucked into the marketing push that tells us we need to make ourselves better, different, more this or less that.
This is a time of year when we can be hard on ourselves, self critical instead of kind. When we can set ourselves unreasonable targets, and get frustrated when we 'fail' to meet them.
It's a time when it's useful to ask - is change something I really want right now, or is it something I feel I should do?
Because the truth is, of course, we don't have to make any new years' resolutions unless we want to.
And if you want to, great. For some inspiration, I'm sharing some gentle resolutions that have been guiding me for the last few months below.
And if you don't want to, that's great too.
In fact, ironically, one of my resolutions has actually been to practice accepting myself as I am right now.
Personally, I know that making big bold life-changing new year's resolutions at the start of a new year really doesn't work for me. In the same way that I know diets don't work for me, (tell me I'm on a diet and I immediately start craving cake...).
But I also know that I enjoy learning and stretching and seeing what I'm capable of - whether that's jumping into the sea on a cold day, re-learning the trombone, or trying my first ever Facebook Live.
If I want to make a change of any kind, I know I have to find a balance between the two, and I ask myself...
- Do I really want to make this change for me, or do I simply think that I should do it? (Because if it's the latter, it's pretty much a guaranteed failure..).
- What will the actual benefits be to me of making this change? How will I feel when I can do this thing with confidence? (My answer better include feeling awesome, or again, it won't work...).
- Is it realistic? Is my next step close enough to my last to make it achievable? (If I decide to swim the channel, when I haven't yet swum a length in my local swimming pool, again, I'm setting myself up for failure).
- If I really want to do this, how can I make it more fun than tough...? (This is vital... for me, a bit of tough is OK, as long as there is laughter and joy and music in there. I need to give myself permission to be playful with whatever this change may be).
If you're curious about my resolutions for 2018, which are resolutions that really started some time last year, without any pressure to be big or bold, here they are. There are some actions:
- I want to keep getting into the sea.
- I want to write my screenplay.
But mostly, they are really all about my mindset - about the way I talk to myself inside my head.
- I want to allow myself to be both flawed and good enough.
- I want to keep reminding myself that I am doing the best I can with what I know right now.
- I want to continue to practice self compassion when I mess up.
- I want to see my own beauty more (more on that one below...).
Whatever kind of resolutions you resolve to make, or not make, this year, consider this email a gentle reminder to check in with what you really want before you start. And as you move forward.
It's also a reminder to always motivate yourself with love. You can be patient and kind with yourself when things don't turn out as you hoped. You can change your plans as you learn more about what really works for you. You can be persistent and focused and gentle and compassionate, all at once.
Being beautiful as we age
Which takes me smoothly onto other inevitable changes that we make in our lives... A few days ago, I wrote on social media about how the new year also makes me reflect on the ageing process, and it seemed to touch a chord, so I'm sharing that with you here too.
Another set of wrinkles (below my mouth, around my chin, who knew?).
Another hair (or ten) growing in a random place on my chin.
Another gentle drooping of everything downwards, a growing roll of soft tummy folding further forward. Yet more grey hair.
More love, more knowing each other, more knowing myself, more confidence, more connection, more friendship, more self kindness and ease, more faith, more appreciation of all that I am and all that we have. Of what truly matters.
On New Years' Day, my husband was looking through old photos and sent me a photo of the two of us, ten years into our relationship, just before we became parents.
I barely recognise myself (though he looks the same to me...!). But I can see my beauty - oh the beauty of youth.
I don't think I saw that at the time.
And I'm pretty sure that ten years from now, I will look back at a current photo like the one below and think, wow how beautiful the 40s were.
This year, I want to try to see that now. I don't want to wait for the benefit of hindsight.
Because we don't become less beautiful with age. We have a different kind of beauty.
It's a beauty that society makes much harder for us to see. But if we look beyond the magazines and the size 8 thighs, and the perfume adverts and the clear skin and the facelifts, and the idea that our outsides represent our value, it is there.
(Especially in the golden pre-sunset light, after a swim, feeling in love, on holiday - that's definitely the best time to look for it - it's much harder to find on New Year's Day with a hangover... Still there though!)
If only our culture valued all that we gain with age - so much more than we value what we look like on the outside.
Growing older is inevitable, and especially as a woman, it can be hard. And yet, with it comes hard-won wisdom.
Let's support each other in seeing our deeper beauty as we move up through the generations. Because you are beautiful, just as you are, Pippip, I promise. Shall we resolve to remind each other of that this year?
Can you join our Mamas' Retreat on 14 January?
Would you to think about the year ahead with some other lovely supportive mamas?
Time for you that's not about making hard-to-keep resolutions, or being mean to yourself about all the things you ought to change.
Instead, we'll be making time to think about how you want to feel, and how to do more of the things that make you feel that way this year.
If that sounds good, we have two spaces left on our first 2018 Mamas' Retreat coming up in Penzance on 14 January. Tickets available here.
The first retreat of the year is always one of my favourites. We get to stretch out our aching bodies, create space to hear ourselves think, collage a vision board (no skills required) for the year ahead, and eat lovely healthy treats together (hearty warm soup, and lemon and pistachio vegan cupcakes made only with unrefined sugar anyone...?)
365 Amazing Women
Every day, on our public Story of Mum facebook page, we've started to celebrate an amazing mama - another mama who, like you, probably doesn't realise just how amazing she is. (Here's today's amazing mama as an example).
We would love to celebrate the amazing women in your lives too. Who would you like to share with our community, and remind of their awesomeness?
To join in, all you need to do is reply to this email with a few words about the woman you would like to celebrate. You can include a photo of them if you like (or a photo of something that reminds you of them) and we'll do our best to share your appreciation publicly some time soon...
In the meantime, whether you can join us for a retreat or not, whether you make resolutions or not, whether you remember to send us your Amazing Woman nomination or not, know that you are enough, just as you are. You don't have to change for anyone but you, if you want to.
Your needs matter, your human 'failures' don't make you any less loveable, and you are worthy of compassion and gentle care, every single day of the year.
Be kind to yourself,
Pippa and Penny
PS Book for our next Mamas' Retreat here.
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