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!]
…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…
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’!