Daffodils are out. Crocuses are blooming. And on my table outside the kitchen, my white Carnegie Hyacinth is proudly sprouting flowers. Spring, my friends, is finally coming. And I welcome it with open arms.
Don't get me wrong, winter this year has been an extremely colourful season for me. Lots has been happening and I have finally become comfortable with this feeling of being... well... comfortable! More relaxed in my own skin than I can ever remember, and confident that I can now overcome any obstacle, means that now... now... I am now consciously focusing on accepting more joy and love in to my life.
You see, since my earliest memories, I have learned the art of survival. Not the kind of daily fight for life that face much of the world's population, forced to eek out an existence in abject poverty and cruelty. No, of course I'm not talking about that sort of monumental survival challenge. My battles have been more on the 'inner world' - the emotional, psychological blows that you could say are harder to spot. Bearing no physical scars or disfigurements, and (to the outside world at least) living a life where it seemed I was looked after, there were no questions asked about my well-being.
Much of my life since childhood has been about proving myself - seeking acceptance and constant reassurances that, actually, I am ok. Fighting against injustice, championing the underdog and determining to find another way in the face of adversity, I've found solace in the world of self-development, motivation and coaching. Because each time I am able to help someone work through their issues, I am also helping myself. Yes, you might say my chosen profession is somewhat self-serving. To which I would respond loud and clear - "absolutely. Spot on." Because that's exactly what it is.
It hasn't always been that way. You may remember in a previous post from 2009 I talked about my sudden realisation that all the time I had believed I was coaching people for them, it suddenly dawned on me that I was coaching them for me? That through helping others, I was actually helping to heal myself in the process? You may also remember that, at that time, I decided that my coaching days were therefore over and done. My thought behind it being that surely, if I'm coaching for me rather than my client, then I can no longer call myself a coach? Because to me, my work had been about giving my all - heart and soul - to helping anyone who requested my services. And the realisation that underneath it all, my driving force had likely been the need to heal myselfwas a bit of a shock to say the least!
Thankfully I've moved on since then. Thankfully I now have a much greater understanding of the saying "if the man is right, the world is right" - and so now I look back at my early coaching days with a misty eyed fondness for the person who threw herself headlong in to her profession, determined to make the world a better place. Because, in the process, and since I started writing this blog, I have indeed succeeded in making the world a better place. My world. The inner landscape that my soul inhabits. The place that, until relatively recently, was cold, brittle and grey - too scared to bend, too bruised to hug, too hoarse to shout.
I hadn't realised that, as well as the castle walls I had built to protect myself, I also had hundreds of bloodthirsty sharks circling in my moat. I had thought, as you know, that the castle was there to protect me - and in my early years it certainly served its' purpose. But as the years rolled by, I became a prisoner in my own fortress. But the strange thing is, I hadn't even noticed.
It's only been over the past few months that friends have told me how difficult it can be to 'help' me. How darned self-sufficient I am, and how obstinate, capable and forthright I will be when faced with a challenge. I'm the first one to jump in when anyone else has a problem - and yet people struggle to get in and give me the kind of help they see I need. Heaven forbid they push too hard, because those circling sharks can attack in a moment's notice should anyone get too close! So the fact that my friends have finally felt able to tell me this, coupled with the fact that I am listening, is a big sign for me that I am finally freeing myself.
Which brings me nicely back to the point about my chosen career to coach and develop teams and individuals. And I can't help but laugh at the irony. Because for more years than I care to remember, I have been advising people to put themselves first. To find ways of accepting more of who they are, and to live their life through choice rather than need. And you know what? Now that I've finally 'got it', I am more than happy to embrace the fact that everything I do is indeed for me - because that's what life is about, and it's the only way to truly walk the talk and be authentic! So... yes, I coach and encourage people because it's good for me. I choose my profession because I like what I'm doing. I live my life to please myself - because then, and only then, can I help others as well.
And by accepting that, I believe I have finally and completely moved out of the 'survival' mode that has been my unconscious programme for nearly all of my life. Because finally, by putting myself first, and by listening to my body and my soul, I can live life in joy. Today, for example, it's now way past 2pm and I'm perched in the middle of my French kitchen in my pyjamas. I am wearing a pair of high heeled shoes I bought yesterday because I like the feel of them on my feet. The double butler sink in front of me has dirty plates in it, and I've just eaten some home-made tomato soup that I made last night. Now I am about to make myself a Nespresso coffee with sugar - and I might even have a square of dark chocolate with it! There are countless things I could be doing for work - but quite frankly I am choosing not to. This is my time, and today I shall spend it as I like, because we never know what's around the corner.
A couple of weekends ago, my dear neighbour died very suddenly from a brain haemorrhage. She was loved by many people, and was always full of life and laughter - so it came as a huge shock to everyone who knew her. She leaves behind grown up children and a husband who now simply doesn't know what to do with himself. Would she have approved of my get-up today? Silky pyjamas, high heeled shoes, and writing my blog in the middle of a messy kitchen?
Darned right she would. She'd probably have laughed like a drain and come along to join me. Bless you, Jacqueline, and rest in peace. I'm sure your smile and laughter is now lighting up the lives of many others who have passed before you. I raise my coffee cup to you my lovely friend - one day we'll see each other again. Until then, I shall continue to live life to the full and wear pyjamas and high heeled shoes whenever I like - Cheers!