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    2020.  Talk about a challenging year!  My personal journey through this year has felt like a test of my physical, emotional and spiritual existence.

    It all started well. There were rumours and whisperings of a virus coming, but it wasn’t a serious issue here – until it was!  I went to a talk at The Royal Society of medicine, ate lunch with a friend and travelled to and from London by train, just as I had hundreds of times before.  The day before, my husband and I went to see Sandi Toksvig speaking in a packed Southbank Centre as part of the Women of the Word event.  4 days later, as I was seeing a client out of my clinic I started to cough. That was the start. 

    I’m not going into the details of the symptoms – suffice to say I had them all!  I have never felt so ill in my life.  My husband and daughter followed me in short order and I could barely keep going myself, let alone help them.  Fortunately, none of us were so ill that we had to be hospitalised, but the recovery was slow. 

    As I returned to a level of health which meant I could go to the supermarket, the lockdown had begun.  The first unexpected effect for me was the loss of my confidence.  Leaving the house, just to go and buy food was both frightening and exhausting.  What nobody knew at that point was how slowly many people recover from Covid 19.  I would find myself having to lay down after the slightest exertion – unable to keep going, even having a conversation was shattering.  My husband took months to shake off the cough and even now, 9 months on, we both get breathless and cough if the air is cold or we over exercise. The tiredness still rears its head when I experience high levels of stress. 

    The unexpected aspect of being unwell was the emotional struggle, and this was compacted by a deep sense of disappointment.  With hindsight I can appreciate that I needed rest and my body and mind were sending me messages which I foolishly (and somewhat predictably) chose to ignore.

    It is hard to reach out and explain why you need help when you haven’t recognised that need yourself.  I knew I had no sense of smell or taste (apart from ’alarm smells’ such as bleach and cat pee!)  I was tired, struggling to speak for more than a few minutes at a time due to the lack of air, and then my hair started to fall out in handfuls. I’ve always had thick hair so it wasn’t apparent to most people, but I knew, and I didn’t know if I would go completely bald. This fed into my underlying fear and paranoia. All these symptoms were ahead of the information curve. 

    As I was recovering, a colleague asked if I would record a meditation for a group of nurses she was supporting and, feeling grateful for the opportunity I did just that. And then created an online resource offered free to key workers.  And marketed it.  All whilst I was continuing to run The Healing Tree Network, trying to keep my hypnotherapy practice running and maintain some semblance of a happy home.  That whilst knowing our daughter and her family were struggling with the isolation of living in Germany and not being able to visit my Mum who lives 2 ½ hours drive away.  The final straw was being removed from an online marketing group for missing a day (that was the day the plumbing sprang a leak!)  A couple of people on Zoom meetings commented that my energy was lower than usual.

    Then I had a staggering revelation.  Very few people cared whether I kept going or not!  Please don’t read this as my whining!  It was a relief.

    I coincidentally renewed (via Facebook) a friendship from my teen years which brought back memories so challenging I struggled to stay stable. He did remind me of my love for the written word. Someone else disclosed lies which had been lingering for 50 years. 

    I put the Healing Tree Network on a back boiler; stopped the relentless round of Facebook groups and LinkedIn posts; stopped worrying about where the next client would come from and started to write poetry to vent some of the stifled emotions from my teenage years. 

    Thankfully, the self-employment grants helped fill the gaping income hole and I started getting some work as a Civil Funeral Celebrant. A trickle of clients still contacted me and many from the past reappeared.  And my hair stopped shedding.

    Some of the things I’ve learnt are so fundamental and simple.

    My husband and children are the most important things in life no matter what.

    My dearest friends are very few and very precious.  Some people I thought were friends aren’t really, and there are others whose friendship I underestimated.

    Not all people in business are ‘my people’. Those who are have started to trickle into my life again and those who aren’t are subtly dropping away. I’ve stopped trying to be other people’s idea of what I ‘should’ be.

    Pushing too hard is pointless! When I feel tired I rest.

    Somebody asked where my dark curls had gone!  It triggered a need to let them come back. They may be edged with snow white borders, but with no chemicals, no colouring and no restraint!

    Writing matters to me.  It will play an important part in my life moving forward.

    2020 has been a tough year without a doubt.  I’ve struggled to maintain a semblance of physical health.  There have been times when it felt like my sanity was dangling by a very fine thread and grief has come close to overwhelming me.  My spirit has been stomped on – by others and indeed by me.  I’m done with that.

    I’ve started to recognise my true worth, and others seem to do the same – hence my Gold Shining Star Award!  My spiritual side started to push back through the protective shield I have surrounded myself with for years.  I’ve started to return to my true self and will be letting her fly free in the new year!

    I am truly grateful to have survived this year, and looking forward to having a much better 2021. 

    I wish you and yours a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.



  2. The world is still experiencing a global pandemic, even as we start to exit ‘lock-down’

    We are living in extremely uncertain times - and that uncertainty can be difficult to cope with. 

    You may feel worried right now.  You may struggle to keep anxious thoughts in check.  And you may feel unsure about the future.

    But you and your children CAN learn to live with uncertainty.

     Facing Uncertainty is Scarier than Facing Physical Pain

    A recent study shows that the uncertainty of something bad possibly happening can be more stressful than the knowledge of something bad happening. 

    In 2016, a group of London researchers explored how people react to being told they will either "definitely" or "probably" receive a painful electric shock.  They discovered an intriguing paradox.

    Volunteers who knew they would definitely receive a painful electric shock felt calmer and were measurably less agitated than those who were told they only had a 50 percent chance of receiving the electric shock.

     Researchers recruited 45 volunteers to play a computer game in which they turned over digital rocks that might have snakes hiding underneath. Throughout the game, they had to guess whether each rock concealed a snake. When a snake appeared, they received a mild but painful electric shock on the hand.  Over the course of the game they got better about predicting under which rocks the snakes were lurking, but the game was designed to evolve, constantly changing the odds of success to maintain ongoing uncertainty.

    When we’re facing uncertain outcomes, it’s the fact that something bad might happen that makes us anxious.

    The volunteers’ level of uncertainty correlated to their level of stress. So, if someone felt “certain” he or she would find a snake, stress levels were significantly lower than if they felt that maybe they would find a snake.

    In both cases, they’d get a shock, but their stress was loaded with added uncertainty.

    Archy de Berker from the UCL Institute of Neurology said: "Our experiment allows us to draw conclusions about the effect of uncertainty on stress. It turns out that it's much worse not knowing you are going to get a shock than knowing you definitely will or won’t.”

    Uncertainty Ignites our Primitive Survival Instinct

    If we can’t neutralise a perceived threat, we engage in the unhelpful process called “worry”.  We try to find solutions to the threat, but with no certainty there are none.

    Does this make us feel better? No, of course it doesn’t - it makes us feel worse.

    In our need for certainty, we are wired to “catastrophise” - we view or talk of a situation as worse than it actually is. This leads to worry, which in turn leads to anxiety.  We become like those meerkat sentries who stand guard over their territory, seeing threats everywhere.You see, the modern brain struggles to distinguish between real threat and perceived threat. The result is that the primitive brain takes over and triggers the primitivesurvival instinct - fight-flight- or freeze.

    question-mark-2306526_1920It asks questions:

    What is going to happen…?

    What is around the corner for me…?

    Should I be doing more…?

    Should I be doing less…?

    What if my business is threatened…?

    What if my livelihood is threatened…?

    What if my life is threatened…?

    The lack of answers can lead to emotional responses including:





    What Can we do to Mitigate Uncertainty?

    There are a number of things we can do to lessen the effects of uncertainty:

    • Awareness is your superpower - be aware of your feelings and emotions

    • Notice the “worry story” you are telling yourself - try to distance yourself from it

    • Focus on breathing - long, slow, natural breaths

    • Recognise the need to rise above fight-or-flight

    • Accept uncertainty - the 'I don't know' - allow yourself to stop the struggle


    Stand up to Anxiety with Some Mood-Boosters

    • Exercise and movement - dance to your favourite music perhaps

    • Meditation, mindfulness and self hypnosis (I can help you and your kids with these)

    • Achievement-oriented activity - set manageable targets and celebrate your successes

    • Something pleasant or fun - and if it gets you laughing - all the better.

     Just 15 minutes a day, focussing on yourself, will help you regain a sense of balance.

    The more you practice all these strategies, the better you will become!

    To help you with the mood-boosting, check out my free download