Updated: Jan 8
Could this be an inspiring blog post for the closing of the year? Maybe its going to be a post you always come back to, as a reminder that you can step back into your own light and power whenever you need to. This is a gentle exploration about keeping up appearances and actually reminding you that you don't have to, shouldn't need to and have the freedom of choice to stop life in its tracks for your health and wellbeing.
This month has been tough, probably one of the hardest months in my life that I can ever recall? Why? Because everything hit me all at once, I was knocked off my feet, reminded of everything that could possibly happen in my life, flashbacks, anxiety, social anxiety, self doubt, self criticism, panic attacks, loss of eating, pain, tears and everything else that I guess appears with an emotional breakdown. Facing Christmas was a no go for me, to continue with the soft smile of 'Im okay' when Im really not okay. I spent Christmas with my parents and brother and boxing day decided to 'do one' and go to Wales with Gus, it was the most healing and nourishing time and I needed it, I knew I wanted to be away from it all. In a village that has no signal, where I wouldn't know anyone or have to interact. That is was the breathing space I needed for such a long time. (Its the first time Ive also ever felt comfortable to stay away from home with just me and Gus), I had anxiety and thought what I would do if I started to panic and I gave myself a talking too. I had the courage, I have the strength and I am capable, even if things feel uncomfortable. Its what I teach for goodness sake!
Ive had to face loads of things within my mind that I still have to process and heal, all the while suffering with crippling anxiety that made me cut everyone off, shut out the world and stop functioning. I have never experienced anything like it within my life, ever. I took an emergency week off work within all of the years of teaching I have never done, I couldn't face it. I couldn't make eye contact, I couldn't talk, I wouldn't leave the house and I cried and cried and cried. For the first time in my life I felt out of control and was releasing so much that I didn't realise needed too. I have mentioned in classes before that sometimes you might cry, within practice, certain poses or you might feel tears rolling down your face at the end while you rest in relaxation. There might be a reason, but sometimes we will never really know the deep releases of our body, it could be elation, sadness, grief, shame, hurt, love or joy. Your body is a beautiful intelligent sponge that soaks up billions of information daily and still carries around everything from days past, and well, the past.
Maybe one day I will share with you about what Ive felt and experienced as a means that you can relate, that just like you I am human. Yoga has healed so many parts of my life, and that is why I am the teacher you see in front of you. Yoga changed my life for the better and I told myself that I needed to teach it to as many people as I can because if it can change my life, that it can change yours. My mission is to heal people, to shine a light on their capability, to give them a nudge into new perspectives, to guide them into different realms of self healing. Did you know that when I did my first teacher training I couldn't read out loud of a book to the other teacher trainees, I caved in on myself, that I would rather the world swallowed me whole than to stand in front of a class and be looked at, let alone heard. This stemmed from childhood. A lovely lady Georgie gave me a little affirmation card... It said 'courage' and from that moment I knew if I wanted to help other people I had to believe in myself and have courage to be myself. 10 years later and I am the teacher you see here right now.
Imagine the burden the brain has, carrying around so much mental and emotional weight, and imagine how heavy it would be if we never gave ourselves time to let go of things. I have also taught many meditation practices and remind people that letting go of things isn't forgetting. Can you forget something? Sure it could be the keys for the house, something from the shopping list, but things you have FELT you wont forget. They leave an imprint, and in doing so they mould us into the character we are now.
By naming the blog post 'Keeping Up Appearances' its not guidance that teaches you to run away from things, its a reminder to hold your heart and make known how you feel and take a step back when you need to. We have all heard the saying 'its okay not to be okay', maybe its fashionable, maybe its thrown around without little meaning because things are easier said than done. If you have read those words, have you honoured them and taken them to heart and really felt what you needed to feel?
Keeping up applies so much pressure, to be seen to be doing, we feel guilt when we cant, we have thoughts within our mind about outcomes and probably create a few more just for good measure. There may always be an expectation. How often have expectations created ruin? In your life, in friends and family, in relationships. Keeping up appearances implies you have to do all the stuff all the time, and lets be honest with ourselves, even if we think we are capable of doing 'all the things' we will burn out at some point.
We have all experienced so many things within our lives personally, we have periods of smooth sailing and periods of discomfort, sadness and we all share situations that have had an impact on our lives. This year my brother was in a motorbike accident and if it was one fraction of an angle different he wouldn't be here. I still taught my classes as normal and supported my family as 'the wise one' as my dad said through this period of time. This happened when I was enjoying life at Orbit Fitness Festival with my boys and friends, I was teaching classes and not a single person knew what was happening in the background 'Keeping Up Appearances'. My partner lost a family member suddenly, which has been hard to process and its something we still cant understand, out of respect I wouldn't publicly share this because its personal but again I was feeling so many things, teaching as normal and giving him and his family all the space they needed to feel to. 'Keeping Up Appearances'. And these are the only two things I feel comfortable to share with you, they don't even touch the surface, but we are all like that aren't we? Somethings really are for ourself.
Ive taught non-stop since lockdown one and came back to work, Ive adapted, switched things around and been lucky enough to make the call on where I stopped offering online classes (which I really do miss!), Ive taught at festivals, held my retreat, ran 2 workshops biweekly on a weekend. I don't stop, and have had a beautiful balance within my work and home, self care life. BUT things can creep up on you, this creeping up wasn't planned and I didn't realise it would have the impact it had but you know what, its a healthy recalibration and is and has allowed me to create change, start therapy on healing my past, to look at things in a new way and find the boundaries I need to put myself first.
Your life and your path are priority here and I think when it comes to keeping up appearances we are all to caught up in what everyone else thinks, does that ring true? It hurts a bit right? Maybe this is what got me into my meltdown and after journalling and writing page after page, the puzzle pieces are slowly fitting together. That I have always moulded into other peoples expectations, haven't ever expressed myself clearly because I didn't feel safe to do so and had been influenced by other peoples thoughts of what I should be doing, you know when other people know best. Maybe growing up from childhood we have to accept other people do know best because we haven't the development or capability but there will be a point you need the independence to find your own feet, to fail, to fall, to f**k up, to feel hurt, to feel ecstatic, to laugh, to feel scared, to face the unknown, to FEEL. To really and truly feel and be all alone in doing so. Away from the fast pace of life, the chattering words from other peoples mouths, the adverts on tv, the lyrics in songs, the expectations of social media, the pressure of keeping up.
When everything seems overwhelming, take time. Take a step back and know that its okay no to keep up. Not to keep pushing through. If you really don't feel like doing something don't be afraid to voice it, or act upon it. Don't be afraid to change something or create a boundary that resonates and falls into alignment with YOU. Take a day off. If you are feeling unwell, do less, ask for help. Write a journal, take a walk, be alone, be with those that listen. Find your pace and step out of the human motorway that is life.
Think of it as breathing space, and whatever that means for you take it and do what you need to do, stop saying yourself there aren't enough hours in the day. Imagine a day without a clock ticking away at you, deadlines, alarms, emails, time restraints. (Im a little bit like captain hook, I remember I used to take batteries out of clocks at my parents and nans when I visited), I also owned a watch once when I started teaching and sold it swiftly as couldn't stand it. Time keeping is in my mind, I know where I am.
So my gift to you this new year is to find your own time. If you get a day off or a few hours to yourself, don't go on your phone, don't look at the time, ignore the emails (they can wait). You don't need to reply to messages, you don't need to do ANYTHING except be with yourself. YOU. Your feelings, emotions, thoughts. Be alone to create a connection of self growth.
Who are you if you're not keeping up appearances?
You are held, loved and supported from my heart, always.
I hope this post inspires you to be more human.