In this month's newsletter, Pippa Best shares a recent journey through mental and physical health challenges:
...one that taught her the power of slowing down, sitting with and accepting the difficult feelings, being brave enough to ask for help, and accepting that we are all worthy of love.
Maybe it's a lesson you need right now too?
It's Summer. In the whirl of encroaching transitions and holidays, are you slowing down or speeding up?
Personally, I'm in the midst of an unexpected slow down. I fought against it for a couple of days, and eventually realised that wasn't helping me in the slightest. So now, I'm trying acceptance... Some days I'm successful, some days I'm grumpy and frustrated. Which is fine, that's just part of being human.
I was running across the road towards the sea, en route to a meeting.
I had my 'smart' yet still pretty sensible sandals on - flat cork heel, several straps. As I ran, my sandal twisted under my foot, my ankle twisted and my foot smashed down. I heard the crack. But I didn't have time to think about it, because I was already careering onwards across the pelican crossing, and my main focus at that point was trying to stay upright through the pain as the momentum threw me forward. I got across and managed to get my hands on the low prom wall. Thank goodness, because if I hadn't managed that, it would have been knees, wrists, face, the lot.
Luckily, my husband was behind me. He, rather sensibly, hadn't chosen to run across the pelican crossing - but now he was. As I sat down to catch my breath, I looked down and realised that my foot was already swelling rapidly. Soon after that, I realised that there was no way I was walking home. A few hours at A&E later, I discovered I'd broken not just my foot but my ankle.
So now, here I am, foot propped up as often as possible, in this big black boot. The hardest bit has been not being able to get in the sea. And the second hardest, not being able to do anything else...!
But there have also been many many gifts.
Because sometimes, it's only when we slow down that we truly see how much we have. And what we actually need.
The love I have received has astounded me.
The visitors, the support, the kindness, the thoughtfulness.
The reminders of all that is good in the world.
Right now, the wider world can feel like a dark place sometimes - there is so much at threat, so many leaders making selfish divisive choices, so much to fear.
And yet, slowing down, it's easier to see the light. And the hope.
It's still a challenge to receive, to accept all the help and love that is offered - that's part of the journey for me too. To simply sit and allow. To be open to the hands of kindness, instead of taking the 'safer' position of being the one always offering a hand.
So, I'm curious - where might you slow down right now? What help, love or kindness might you accept instead of avoid?
Because you are worthy of that, just as I am. You are worthy of meeting your needs - whatever they may be. Truth is, you might not even know what your needs are - until you pause. I didn't know that I needed this beautiful piece of sea glasswork from Abstract Lucas until it arrived. It wasn't just a stunning reminder of the sea to me - a work of art. It was evidence of love - that somehow, my presence in the world had had enough of a positive impact on someone else that they thought to reach out a hand. To send me this precious thing that they made.
It turns out that what I needed was a reminder to keep going, to trust that I was doing a decent job of life, even at my most grumpy, miserable and unproductive.
Grumpy, miserable and unproductive because of a broken foot and ankle, but also because right now, I can't get into the sea - the place I'd found that eased all my problems whenever things got hard. An activity that always shifted my mood.
The sea was where I would go to get rid of the uncomfortable feelings and bad moods, to reconnect to joy, to empty my mind of the critical voice. And without it, here I am, sitting with all of that difficult stuff for a bit, without any easy escape.
In many ways, it's familiar. Because this is a situation that we often find ourselves in as we move through the many phases of motherhood. When we simply can't get what we need, for ourselves. When all the tools we'd previously used to hold ourselves together fall away. And all we have to fall back on - is ourselves...just as we are at our most exhausted and overstretched. And somehow, when this happens, we can't bring ourselves to ask for help. We don't believe that we need or deserve it - regardless of all that we're facing.
This feeling takes me back to those months without sleep, without any concept of 'me time'. To months when I couldn't drink a glass of wine to help me wind down (actually, I'm still in that now too - my peri-menopausal body seems to have decided that's not a good idea either). The months when there wasn't space to numb my fears with coffee and cake, or an exercise class, or shopping, or a night out, or whatever it was that used to help me get through. Before we were stopped by life, our bodies, motherhood, or a personal choice.
Rather annoyingly (especially while you're in it), it's a truism that these crappy months, of course, usually turn out to be the (painful) making of us.
When we can't get away from the discomfort and pain, and simply have to be present with our messy vulnerable imperfect selves.
When we simply have to find a way through, whatever it takes. To sink into what remains of our resilience and find our courage. Courage to reach on - and reach out.
These are the times - the "getting through it somehow" times - when we find the sea within ourselves. (Or the wine or the cake, depending on how it goes...!)
When we are in the thick of it, we can only find ourselves in the pause. In allowing a moment of feeling it all. A moment of being vulnerable and admitting we need help - because our usual strategies aren't working any more. And what I've learnt so beautifully since I broke myself... is that people really want to help. How I managed to forget that - when so much of my life is built around my desire to help and care for other people, I don't know.
So if you need that reminder today - to brave the pause - to feel it all - and then, to ask for help - I hope this letter touches you as all these kindnesses have touched me. Because there are people who love you, and want to help. And truly, deep down, you are not broken. And nor am I.
Can you pause for a moment, remind yourself of that, and ask yourself what you truly need?
And though all these things may be what you need sometimes: cake, wine, sea. What you need right now might simply be love. And there is often so much more of that around than we think. Maybe we just have to admit that we need it. Maybe we need to actively look for it. Maybe we need to show it to ourselves. Whatever it is that you need right now, know that I am sending you so much love - that what you do matters - that you are appreciated, and whole, and enough.
And if you need more love today, message us and we will send you some extra.
Because you, broken or not, are totally worthy of it,
May you PAUSE
Each visit to the sea opens space for respite and contemplation. A chance to be present in the pause. A movement away from overwhelm towards peace.
A wash of stillness to guide your movement forward.
May you find the quiet moment.
May you take all the breaths you need.
May you have time to consider.
May you know the pause as progress.
Find more Sea Soul Blessings at www.seasoulblessings.com (they make a perfect gift for sea-lovers and anyone in need of an extra boost...)