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Endings for new Beginning: Meeting 2020 with Horns

Written by Lara Just – December 2019…

In this blog we will look a bit at a roundup of 2019, what to expect ahead, a bit about transitions and change, the paradox of opposites, a trailer clip for a film I was recently interviewed for, and a few book recommendations for the Christmas break. [Disclaimer: this is not about NY resolutions, as they don’t really tend to work, right; more ‘anti-resolutions’ and ‘intentions’ to create more successful change. Get your horns ready.]

I haven’t written a blog or a newsletter for a while. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind year full of challenges. I am sure it has been for you too.

I have been repeatedly told that 2018 and 2019 have been somewhat ‘tester’ years. HA! Let’s see then how 2020 – the new ’20ies’ will develop. (It’s odd to use this word ’20ies’, isn’t it? 20ies and 30ies have always been used for the 1900s – well now we arrived in the future!)

How do we ready ourselves for the New Year 2020? How can we ease ourselves into any imposed changes and challenges ahead AND fulfil our desires to change something for ourselves perhaps in our personal lives? Perhaps you want to change something (or anything) in the New Year? 

It could really be anything, a job, studies, hobbies, changing house or even just the overall desire to be happier, healthier, wealthier – whatever it maybe. It may also be driven by our deeper needs to heal and grow to enable change as we may feel a bit stuck. 

It is pertinent reflecting on this, as the year comes to an end.

We may evaluate all the things we haven’t done or haven’t achieved and along with that may also be forgetting (again) all the things we actually have!

In the previous newsletter we talked about stress and burnout. And how with this going on, it can be even more tricky to achieve or change (something). When we don’t take enough time to rest, recover and have time left-over on top of this to reflect and ponder about new ideas – more creatively. If we are constantly firefighting or ‘surviving’, things will not change. We are just continuing to do the same thing in different ways. 

That’s were the paradox of opposites comes in. When we feel desperate or are fighting hard to change, to stop or to get something, and it feels like wading through treacle. Then, it is just not going to happen any time soon. And the paradox is, once we let go of being desperate about that thing or stop wading through the thick sirup, there may be new and different ways opening up, easily by themselves. It seems impossible. Aren’t we meant to fight things and aren’t things meant to have to be hard to be worthwhile?

No. Actually they don’t. Things are allowed to be easy, smooth, enjoyable, more relaxing, invigorating, inspiring. Sounds impossible? A little bit. I’m still working on it too. The concept is, that when we let ourselves go with it, ‘get into the flow’ or flowing with it, surrendering to the stream, while still keeping our core values at heart and dreams in mind, other often unexpected paths open up which we haven’t been able to see.  

Not being able to ‘see’ something that was actually right in front of me, has happened to me a number of times in the last three months. It was so in my face that I couldn’t miss noticing my own stubbornness and blindness. I had been so locked into a way of fighting through certain difficulties in a certain way that I couldn’t see another way. This was anything from bigger bureaucratic, legal things to tiny little things like ‘where the heck did I place my cup of coffee/keys (etc.) – again’. I was so adamant and sure that something was wrong, or had been taken that I caught myself on multiple occasions wanting to pass blame. When in the end it was not what I thought or it was literally right in front of me. In plain sight. I just couldn’t see it. Maybe when we are stressed or in a state of fixation we cannot be flexible and cannot see something in a different light or from a different angle, and it is literally hidden from our view and senses. Often we are also completely unaware of this happening! 

So one could see how ‘going with the flow’ could ease these situations, as we could take things more lightly. Like water that just keeps flowing through the stream. It doesn’t stop at obstacles, it keeps moving around them and through them in all sorts of wonderful fluid ways. So the stream or feeling like water in a stream will be my personal metaphor for 2020. Not that this is always easy but its more about setting an intention – and for me personally I would like to remember to be a little more like water. There may be rocks and boulders in the mountain stream, it maybe slower at times, faster and tumultuous at other times. Yet still being able to enjoy more of the view and more the ride at the same time – that would be a nice intention. 

What does any of this have to do with ‘horns’?

Well there is a number of reasons why I also thought that ‘horns’ would be good for an intention and metaphor for 2020. And it is not that unrelated. There is an expression in various languages: “taking the bull by the horns”. It often means tackling an issue head on, not be afraid about going for something, challenges, obstacles, and also goals.

‘Horns’ to me also mean ‘boundaries’ as part of our healthy defence mechanism. Not in terms of locking horns, getting stuck on something but skilfully utilising these if needed. To have healthy boundaries in saying ‘no’ and not being pressured into ‘yes’ when we don’t feel something is right for us.

Another paradox: how can we be fiercely strong and soft both at the same time?

On our path we may encounter obstacles. It’s more fun to think of it like an adventure fantasy story. In adventure stories these often take on the form of dragons, demons, evil beings or the shadow creatures. (These can be our thoughts too!) Sometimes we have to fight them to continue, sometimes just protect ourselves, or have good strategies for a secret move, at other times it is just holding our head high showing off the shiny horns, without using them unless absolutely necessary. 

2020 is bound to be full of challenges as it looks – politically, environmentally, perhaps also personally and professionally for each one of us differently. Maybe more, maybe less than other years. Horns may be a good thing to have.

My main point here is that each one of us is able to set an intention. 

Maybe we have some goals. Sometimes there will be delays, or even detours. That’s the nature of an adventure story.

But perhaps we could just set the intention to do our best in getting on that path and trying to stay on it – towards these goals. And to be more present while we are on that ride. One step at a time.

Or like water in a stream that keeps flowing. 

To view this trailer use the passcode: ‘CelebrationDayCoH52’

This autumn I was interviewed for a film in the pledge to establish a ‘National Bereavement Day’ in the UK.  A London film production crew came, who are currently commissioned to work on this. It should help raise awareness to talk about our grief and loss but also how to help us celebrate and remember those we lost. Unfortunately there is still a lot of taboo in our society about this topic.

We did a whole day of filming on Hampstead Heath, North London. It was quite an experience and I was somewhat nervous beforehand. Luckily this settled soon. I was talking about things I am passionate about whilst sat amongst a groups of peaceful pine trees on the Heath! And I really don’t envy people working in film production. Having to capture hours of footage when you are only ever going to use a fraction for the final cuts. In this short trailer here you will see me only for a few moments, but there will be more of the interview in the full movie where I was also filmed with a client who is one of the key characters in the film. Despite the seriousness of the topic, we did have fun filming in ‘my office’ at the time – on the beautiful Hampstead Heath!

[The full film has not yet been released. You will hopefully see a copy of it in my next newsletter soon – so stay tuned!]

Winter Endings…

…for new beginnings. A month ago, I decided to stop my outdoor practice over the winter months, and into next year. It was a really difficult decision. It was also sad to end with a number of clients, and those who have worked with me for a number of years. But there can also be healing in ‘good’ endings. It also means we can give a chance for new beginnings to emerge.

For me this was an important step. I also needed to ensure that I could continue to remain effective as a therapist for those clients that I still work with. There were many reasons for this, including my need to reduce some of my workload, to sort out various pressing administrative things in my personal life, and my desire to travel for a few months to find inspiration to write more, and perhaps to find some more collaborative projects.

This means I will be mainly working online for now. I am planning to do some workshops and events outdoors. Going forward this change also means re-locating my home practice to somewhere with more natural surroundings again. Yes, I do intend to plan future face-to-face sessions in urban and city areas again, for example around Hampstead Heath, North London and other locations. But I do not yet know the dates.

Healing through Nature

Connection to nature and animals has been incredibly important to me and my own state management, as well as in my work. I believe it is important for all of us and our mental health and wellbeing. This is probably one of the main reasons I decided to move into the eco-psychotherapy field and incorporate nature and the outdoors into my practice.

I am also currently exploring alternative ways of working with some existing ‘online’ clients where we employ ‘walking therapy’ at a distance. So we ‘talk’ over the phone (via cellular or data) while we ‘walk’ outside, in different locations, in a safe park or natural surroundings away from roads. This has proved an effective alternative for people living further away or who still wish to have sessions outdoors while we are working over a distance. And it always surprises me how nature still enters our sessions in different and healing ways.

Well stay tuned as I may be sharing anecdotes in future blogs of how a is going…

Therapy Online

Working online or doing ‘online therapy’ can have different forms as described above. It can be via live video consultation, audio (phone), email or live chat – or even ‘walk and talk’ via phone/audio. Working online means no additional time and cost required to travel, park, or sitting in traffic or delayed public transport. It cansupport you at a time and place that suits you – anywhere (in the world). If you have any questions about it or would like to know if it could work for you read more or contact me!

For the latest Newsletter and some book recommendations for the coming Christmas break, view here.

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.”

Roy T. Bennett

Here’s to a successful, happy and healthy 2020 – with the right intentions, a pinch of good luck and a pair of strong ‘horns’!

Nature as Therapist – Preventing Burnout

Written by Lara Just – June 2019…

It’s been a busy summer month so far and it seemed fitting to write about how to manage some of the symptoms of stress, including low mood and energy. A good friend of mine is running some burnout retreats at the end of this month and clients are eligible to receive a fantastic discount. Also, we will look at how “Nature” can become a healing element.

We probably all know that prolonged stress isn’t good for us. It can lead to burnout, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue and many other symptoms. “Stress” doesn’t just mean having a lot to do or being too busy to see friends or go on holidays. Although yes, a long-term imbalance between work and play can create burnout symptoms.

However, stress is also created by continuously doing things we deep down don’t like or don’t really want to do – but feel we have to, or feel we have no choice or power to change them. It could be doing jobs we hate, being stuck in a negative relationship, dealing with toxic family members, being unhappy with the boss or co-workers, or our home or the environment we live in.

Many people also report feeling more stressed (mentally, physically, emotionally and in overall health) in the fast paced crowded urban environments in our cities. 

The disappointing truth is that none of these things will likely change until we are ready to change them. And most of the time the impetus to change has to come from ourselves. But to find the power within to recognise this and to then take charge to make changes is often frightening or seems even impossible at first.

And for most people to be able to do this successfully and sustainably, we need to do something else first…

“Only a relaxed mind can come up with new ways of thinking, perspectives, different ideas and creative solutions.” Christina Glyn-Woods

To be able to actually do any of these things, to look after ourselves (self-care), and to make changes, we have to first recognise it as a problem.

The second step then is to figure out what to do about it. The third step is to figure out how to do it! Of course this seems like a logical approach and it is easier said than done. So what stops us?  

The second step is actually the hardest for most people. To start making any changes successfully and sustainably, we need to understand a little more about ourselves. Those stubborn parts of ourselves, that make us stay in our old ways of thinking and doing things. We may have an idea of what to do about our situation or perhaps rather what we ‘should’ be doing about it (i.e. what other people might think we should do about it). But that’s the point that becomes a real issue here. It may not really be what we want to do, even if our logical rational mind tells us so. Despite the fact that we may know what it is we don’t want, we may not be fully clear yet on what it is we do want!

The second step requires some personal re-evaluation.

Who am I…really?
What is it that I really want in life?
What drives me?
What makes me feel good…anything?  

But understanding our true underlying needs and wants, doesn’t tend to happen with just a snap of our fingers. It tends to need some space and timeto allow us to even start reflecting and exploring this a bit more fully. It requires some ‘grounding’ and state management first. 

Physical movement can help us with this and to be in our bodies more mindfully – more in a state of ‘being’ rather than focussing on ‘doing’ something all the time.

For example, moving in nature can create a renewed sense of mindful ‘presence’. By noticing and observing our bodies and physical surroundings more (= being ‘mindful’ not ‘mind full’), space can be created for our thoughts to flow more freely. Only a relaxed mind can come up with new ways of thinking, perspectives, different ideas and creative solutions.

Some questions you may ask yourself around the theme of prolonged stress:

  • What are currently three things in your work that stress you out?
  • What stresses you about your current relationship or life in general?
  • Do you frequently fell exhausted, drained, low in mood, get angry quickly, have difficulties sleeping or experience lack of energy?

I like to use nature-based approaches in the therapy work I offer to clients to encourage this type of ‘creative nurturing’. There are other ways of re-connecting with nature, ourselves and others and I hope this newsletter can give you some useful ideas on how to approach it. 

Apart from the walking therapy that I offer, there will be some workshops planned for later this year on ‘mindful gardening’ and ‘gardening therapy’ in North London.

If you have any questions about walking therapy or any future workshops, please contact me

Burnout & Wellness Retreat Offer

If you are interested in getting away from the city and do some more intensive de-stressing, the burnout retreats by Pure Circle that are launching this June may be what you need! This amazing nature retreat venue is located near the northern border of the Cotswolds. A historic place with an old mill in a stunning luxury location. The ‘inner wellness centre’ is opening this month and offer an exceptional discount for their new pilot weekends. If you book before the 21st June 2019 this month you can receive an additional 10% discount on top by using the coupon code ‘ADADSU‘.   

The retreats are run by experienced and friendly, fully qualified facilitators. Raina and Mark have extensive experience of what it means to be in the busy corporate rat race and want to support anyone who is close to a burnout, or is recovering from one. At Pure Circle, the retreats are designed to help you find your path again by offering you the inspiration and tools to recharge and reconnect to yourself. For more visit their website. If you do go, let me know how you found it!

Recent Media Publication

In this latest article by Xenia Taliotis published in the Calm Moment Magazine, the The Walking Therapist was mentioned amongst other outdoor approaches. Read the full article here to find out why walking therapy can lift our mood and spark our imagination!

For other published media articles, see also in the resources section of this website.

If you have any questions, please contact me