Mindful Living My Way
A few years ago, I would never have dreamed of doing this, but here I am, writing a blog all about myself and my mindful journey over the past couple of years. The super lovely Suzanne wondered if I would be happy to share, and I am quite excited about it, so here goes.
Who am I?
I am Sarah, maker, creator and small business owner at We’d Rather Lather, and have been since October 2019 (yes, I started a business a couple of months before Covid hit). My journey of self-care and mindfulness actually started a while before this. Here’s a bit of info about me, so you know where I am coming from:
- I qualified as a teacher in 2005 and LOVED my job, working in Kent, when my children were born in 2013. I was incredibly lucky to have the most amazing friends and work colleagues.
- My main job now is as a mum to 9-year-old triplets. They are the real superheroes in my life, overcoming so much adversity and many challenges to just be the awesome humans they are today. They were born at 26 weeks, due to the 4 of us having sepsis. My poor hubby watched all of us fighting for life for a while.
I have always been highly driven and ambitious, always looking for the next challenge and ‘big thing’. On reflection, I would always consider myself to be quite fiery and highly strung too. So, trying to teach while being a new mum (following a house move to return to Wales) to now 1-year-old squids was really hard.
Have you ever felt that you were trying to be so many things to so many people, that you never do anything well? That’s how I began to feel, particularly after returning to work full time when the children were 3. I missed everything, clubs, morning school runs, pick-ups, dinner, sometimes bedtimes, sports days, concerts… Looking back, I may well have been ignoring PTSD and postnatal depression.
It was clear that something needed to change. I was seeking some calm in a crazy life, leading me to mindfulness classes run by the lovely Suzanne Kent.
She helped me more than she knows, even this early on. It was the only time in the week that I truly relaxed – so much so, that my friends would laugh at me for snoring through the class by the end.
But it only really covered the cracks for a while. I was still hard on myself, calling myself a terrible mother, feeling guilty and prioritising the wrong things, overcompensating for not being around.
So it continued, and I spent a few years being really unkind to myself.
I told myself awful things every day about myself, called myself the ugliest and most hurtful of things – it was a habit. At my lowest point, I couldn’t look anybody in the eye, walk into a room, or approach a friend to start a conversation.
I also started to hurt myself physically daily as I was so frustrated and my self-esteem was critically low. I felt sick with anxiety the whole time I was awake. This is difficult to admit, but I didn’t treat my husband or children well either, thinking they were better off without me – I mean, I was a truly awful person after all.
I was, however, strong enough to know that I needed help, and in the beginning, my children were the reason I sought this and persevered. In time, though, it became OK to do this for myself.
When everything changed
My support came from a couple of different directions, including 1:1 sessions of mindfulness, to help me clear and calm my mind, so that I could begin to think.
Then I was incredibly lucky (if that’s the right word) to be put in contact with someone else who has changed my life forever. This person asked me to write down all the awful things I said to myself – I saw this as a challenge and wrote eight A4 pages.
Then the teacher in me wrote it up in my best handwriting to hold onto in my handbag (it took months for me to bin this, which turned into quite a momentous occasion). This person deepened my understanding of linguistics, had a stubborn ability to challenge my thinking and call me out on my excuses.
During this time, I learned some very important lessons:
- Self-care is allowed.
- All people don’t feel the same way as I did.
- Some people actually feel really confident (and genuinely).
- I was creating scenarios and dangers in my mind that were not real.
- I was the only person being horrible to me.
- My memories included good times as well as bad.
- Positive self-talk is a habit that can be learned.
- Judgement was not my friend. I was judging myself as lesser than other people, therefore making judgements about other people.
- No one was talking about me, I was making it all up!!!!!
I can remember sitting in a session once and he told me that other people walk into a room and feel completely comfortable doing so. This was massive to me – I honestly believed that low self-esteem and not belonging was normal.
There were days when I was completely mute and would cry silently at my desk, my head was always angled to the floor. Some days I needed coaching to get out of bed, or to leave my car to go into work and on reflection, I’m not sure I hid it very well.
It hasn’t been easy to revisit this, but I do know that with a positive mindset, I cannot return to this place.
From teacher to We’d Rather Lather
The story does indeed get better from here. I wanted to share the above so that you understood what drove me to start my business and work from home. In the beginning I was scared that I was running away from people. But now I know for a fact that it was because I was taking steps to balance my life.
And We’d Rather Lather was born! While I was doing well at this point, starting out on your own can be mentally challenging. Worries about making the right decision, imposter syndrome and a sense of responsibility all challenged my ability to be kind to myself.
Surrounding myself with positive people, encouraging Facebook groups and building up a support network has helped immensely. I have learned what my triggers are, and more importantly, I have learned the signs that hint towards negative habits, so I can stop them.
I now don’t look for things to worry or be anxious about, I don’t criticise myself. I absolutely don’t worry about what other people think of me. And it’s so liberating! This is why I feel like a completely new person.
My priorities have changed too, focussing more on health, wellbeing, my family. This led to my business being driven by an ethical and family ethos. We try to change those things we can and those that matter. I know I can’t control everything, and by truly knowing this, I know that life is a series of ups and downs. Now, when the unexpected happens, I can accept it more easily as part of the journey that is life.
Be kind to yourself
I’m not sure I’m the best person to give advice, but I’m hoping that by sharing my story, someone else may relate to it. Give yourself time to yourself and talk to yourself kindly. I now teach these lessons to my children: be kind – to others AND yourself.
I am hoping that our children live in a time where self-care is not selfish and that a high self-esteem isn’t regarded as unattractive. Let our children continue to think they are awesome and may we learn these lessons from them. Teach them and ourselves that we don’t need to sweat the small stuff, we can let it go – we don’t have to fight what we can’t change.
Say yes to that cuppa with friends or to trying something new now and again. Do things that are good for the soul. Prioritise what is going to make you feel better, like sleep and healthy eating. Join that meditation or listen to the hypnotherapy CD.
Let’s make it fashionable to love yourself!!!!!
When you look at yourself, accept that this is you. This is what people see.
This is what I am and I accept that – I am more than enough.