Walking and Talking is good for us all

May is National Walking Month and what a gorgeous month to have it in!!

I was out last weekend doing some #mindfulwalking, and I wanted to share some of the benefits with you.

When we slow down and start to notice what is around us, the temperature of the air, the smells (good and bad!), the colour of the leaves or buildings, listen to sounds we may not have noticed before, we activate our pre-frontal cortex which helps us to access wellbeing and self soothing.

Add to that being outside with a trusted friend or counselling therapist, reflecting on our challenges and having a conversation about how we would like to approach the next steps as we literally take our next steps.

Ending a counselling session refreshed and energised, having breathed fresh air and shifted the tension we might be holding.

I’d like to challenge you to invite someone for a walk this month. You could:

Meet your best friend for a chat and a wander instead of a coffee?

Walk the kids to and from school and have a chat on the way about their day?

There are lots more ideas on the Living Streets website, link below.

Who do you know who would benefit from these tips? Feel free to forward, or share this article.

#nationalwalkingmonth #nwm2019 #walkthismay #counselling #psychotherapy #wellbeing #happiness #thriving

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Let’s talk MORE about sex

I was still a little sleepy when I got a call from BBC Radio 5 Live on Wednesday morning, asking me to talk about the sex survey featured by the BBC on whether Britons are having less sex. Now there’s nothing I enjoy better than being asked to talk about sex on national radio so of course I jumped at being given the opportunity.

Because from the conversations I have with others, either in the therapy room or with friends and family, I see that we are not talking enough about sex. My take on this is if you can’t talk about sex with someone, it’s probably not a good idea to be having a sexual relationship with them.

Sex is communication of course, a wonderful way of talking with our bodies, but it’s not enough, and it’s too easy to miscommunicate, to get our wires crossed.

It made me chuckle when Nicky Campbell admitted to blushing when he was reading out listeners’ texts and tweets about their wonderful sex lives, because I remember clearly sitting in my training with the Relate Institute pushing through that discomfort of asking people about sex. I remember sitting in a counselling room at Relate asking couples the first few times about their sex lives and blushing furiously.

But soon I saw that talking about sex was a relief and a release. Starting to support people in sharing what they wanted and needed from each other in their closest moments, seeing the changes, made me realise that it’s more embarrassing NOT to talk than to talk about our desires, what turns us on, where we like to be touched, how we like to be touched.

If you’re interested the BACP wrote a little summary of the piece here.

So, today, right now , whether you’re single or coupled up .. ask yourself .. what do I want, what do I need from my sex life, and who can I share my thoughts with?

Stepping Forwards

I’m up early again today .. not just to enjoy a beautiful North Tyneside sunrise, but to put my walking boots on to raise money for Acorns, a charity that supports the recovery of children and young people affected by domestic abuse.

I spotted the charity walk in January on the North East Guides website when I was feeling a bit run down and looking for things to get me out. At the time April seemed pretty far away and I had ideas of sauntering along Hadrian’s Wall on a sunny Spring day, enjoying the views.

Well .. it’s looking a bit different now, rain forecast, and it’s pretty exposed up on the tops there.

I know it’s going to be tough. Sitting in a counselling room with my clients is massively rewarding for me, and together we make so many mental and emotional leaps forward that sometimes I forget to physically move enough. I’ve been practising but this will be the longest walk I’ve done in a long while.

I chose Acorns because I know what drives me in work and life is playing a part in making kids lives safer and happier. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realised how much fear had played a part when I was growing up, and that’s what led me to what I do today. Acorns provides a safe and welcoming place where children can make sense of what they’ve seen and heard, and start to recognise what loving behaviour looks like.

We can’t choose where we came from, and often we don’t choose what happens to us, but we can choose where we go from here.

So when I’m wet and cold and I can’t see the end in sight I’m going to put my head up and keep stepping forwards. I’m going to think of all the wonderful people who are supporting me in doing this walk and I’m going to remember that although sometimes life can be tough I am so very blessed in this life I’ve stepped into.

The Mother Dance

It’s nearly Mother’s Day here in the UK, and I’ve been thinking about Harriet Lerner’s wonderful book ‘The Mother Dance’ that I received years ago from a wonderful colleague, and dip into often. Part of my preparation for this Mother’s Day is going to be putting my feet up with a cup of tea and delving back into this wonderful source of wisdom.

‘From the celebrated author of The Dance of Anger comes an extraordinary book about mothering and how it transforms us — and all our relationships — inside and out. Written from her dual perspective as a psychologist and a mother, Lerner brings us deeply personal tales that run the gamut from the hilarious to the heart-wrenching. From birth or adoption to the empty nest, The Mother Dance teaches the basic lessons of motherhood: that we are not in control of what happens to our children, that most of what we worry about doesn’t happen, and that our children will love us with all our imperfections if we can do the same for them. Here is a gloriously witty and moving book about what it means to dance the mother dance.’

I’m a daughter, a granddaughter and a mother, and recently I’ve been mulling over what this means to me in the here and now, the Russian dolls fitting into each other. My maternal family come from northern France, with the history of upheaval and trauma that entails, through war and struggle. There are family stories of my grandmother having to abandon her beloved red bedcover as the family tried to escape the Occupied Zone because it was attracting attention from fighter planes above.

I’m going to be thinking about the things that happened in my family that continue to affect how I show up in the world and I invite you at this time that is focussed on mothers and mothering to do the same. You might ask yourself:

What are my beliefs about mothers?

Is this different to the mother I was given?

How do I mother the people in my life? (We can all do this, including those who don’t identify as female or feminine)

How could I mother them in a way that better aligns with my values?

What kind of mothering do I need right now?

How can I include more of that in my life?

I was on that there BBC World Service!!

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to go to the BBC studios to take part in an episode of The Why Factor! on the BBC World Service. The programme is billed as ‘The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions’.

I love when I get invited to do things like this as it’s an opportunity to try out a new experience, and being a media ambassador for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy brings me these challenges.

It was a bit nerve racking going into a tiny room by myself and putting on the headphones, but Sandra the presenter and I had spoken before on the phone and she soon put me at ease. We chatted for nearly an hour, although but if you listen you’ll hear just a couple of snippets of our conversation. It amazed me how much time and effort goes into creating a 23 minute programme!

The episode aired last Friday and I got a lovely email thanking me for taking part. This one is about Blame, and the description says:

‘When things go wrong, we crave something or someone to blame. It’s an emotional response found in nearly every culture. The Why Factor asks: why do we play the blame game?

See if you like it and let me know.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00xtky9

The Woes of Sibling Roles

I’m a media ambassador for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and I was lucky enough to be asked last year to contribute to an article for Psychologies magazine that was published in the January 2019 edition.

It was a great experience, I chatted with the writer for about an hour about research, theory and my thoughts on how sibling relationships are developed and maintained. We talked about how birth order can play a part in this, as well as family patterns and personalities.

She told me a bit about something she wanted to shift in her relationship with her siblings and I suggested some ideas of things to think about that she went away and tried. A week later she told me she’d been surprised at the shift that had happened and that she was planning to keep going with the changes she was making.

You can read the article here, I hope you enjoy it!