Entries organized under Guest Post

Strength in the Tenderest Places: You Are Not Broken (a guest post from Grace Quantock)

October 3, 2016

Today, I’m so pleased to present this guest post from my dear friend and colleague (friend-league?), Grace Quantock, an award-winning international wellness expert, coach, author, and motivational speaker.

Finding strength in the tenderest places: you are not broken. Building resilience and self-care when you want to change the world. By Grace Quantock. Plus get your free self-care workbook inside! >> www.christytending.com

Grace writes:

My strength today is not something with which I was born. It was not simply bequeathed to me in my DNA, nor floated into my crib as a magical christening gift. I didn’t incarnate, fully formed, as a tower of tenacity and stamina.

To me, strength arrived as a circle.

It lives in the shape of a kind heart. In fact, of many loved ones, of many connections, of blessings in person.

It is community and connection that has helped me build resilience, to live with my tender heart, to lean into strength through the hardest times of my life.

The connections forged in the dark nights when there seems to be nothing left; no space for soul, no hope and no light coming; bonds built then live onwards, no matter what comes.

The circle, reaching out across the internet, across the world. I was 21 and we were all confined to bed. All desperately ill, but weaving from our beds, from our tender hearts, connections, cards and caring, that changed the world.

This circle was all I had to hold onto, my connection to the outside world, the women were my comrades and my fellow soldiers.

Our bodies felt like battle grounds and we fought with love. I write what I write now for all the ones who died and all the ones who didn’t.

My first business was birthed from the piles of parcels and letters which flew between us. I built a business to send boxes of goodies to those hurting and in need of comfort. There is a handwritten card in every box, just like the ones we sent all the way back in the beginning.

These women listened to me, comforted me, needed me and taught me how to have a full life without being able to move or lift my arms.

It can be easy to seem strong when we are standing tall, but what about when we feel broken?

I believe there is strength inherent in vulnerability.

What is vulnerability? It’s the minute I saw myself split open and I knew that in the pain, in the moment of breaking heart and breaking bones, there was true strength.

Because in the pain was the hope and the trust that I would heal and grow strong again, to know that if it all falls, there is something inside me that will pull me through as I start again.

I see strength there.

I don’t believe that vulnerability is weakness, that illness is failure, that death is a dysfunction of the productivity machine or ageing as built-in obsolescence. I recognise this fallacy we are fed and I resist it.

As Esme Wang writes, “Maybe you’re disabled or ill or both. You receive benefits. But that’s hazard pay–it’s the check in the mail that you get for the dangerous life of healing that you live.”

But vulnerability has a poor reputation, and there are those of us seeking to build resilience like it’s magic armour, or to jump on the next band wagon like it’s the last evacuation vehicle. Check in, how much of your practice (if any), is arising from this space?

Resilience does not make robots, and world-changers need self-care.

Not because bubble baths change the world, but because we do.

(REAL self-care is a different and very powerful matter.)

Few people are willing to truly accept that bad things happen to good people and that life involves pain and struggle. (Many people support us thinking that it’s something WE did. As Kimberley McGill writes,”They’ll diagnose you with mental blocks, spiritual blocks, emotional blocks. They will tell you that the Universe or God is teaching you a lesson and as soon as you learn it your desires will manifest.”)

I know part of me would rather believe that bad things only happen because I haven’t perfected manifestation yet, and that the next class/teacher/book will be the one that saves me. There’s (false) hope there and pressure.

If it’s my fault, there’s guilt, shame, pain but also perceived potential. Because if I think that if I change or fix the bad/broken part of myself that caused the difficult situation to occur, then maybe, just maybe I won’t have to suffer through it again. Or that’s the (false) promise, anyway.

If I challenge and try to change myself, I’m not challenging the system.

Why would I challenge the system? What system? It’s not like there’s institutionalised prejudice against certain genders, classes, nations of people, skin colours, work, sexualities, ages, health statuses, weight and sizes, religions… oh wait, yes there totally is! And people benefit from it. There are people invested in us blaming ourselves, and I’m not ok with that.

I am doing what I can to resist it, I lean into my circle for support.

Strong women freed me from the confines of my own mind. I was out of bed but stuck behind bars of old beliefs about my abilities. There are women out there changing the world from their laptops, from their beds.

Women in business are making beautiful changes and every women they empower and inspire leaves that place and goes on to help so many more. It is a secret, sweet sisterhood and I am so grateful to have been sheltered by these women as I grew my wings.

Strength comes wrapped in airmail paper, in blue smudge ink and is treasured. Letters, back and forth across the sea, between my best friend and me. We ink down our souls and figure out how to live and, after you didn’t die, how to keep living.

Strength is not carrying on despite the pain, it isn’t becoming hard and resisting.

Becoming harder does not mean growing stronger.

I wish the pain didn’t come, but if it does, I wish for you a circle.

We are strongest when we feel the pain and choose to keep on loving. When we are bowed and aching but still wear body glitter. When we can’t see the way forward but take the hand of the woman who walked this way before us, and step out.

I am building circles still, a hundred thousand threads of golden gossamer, reaching out to women wellness warriors, blazing trails across the world.

From my heart to yours, may you grow strong, and have a circle to hold you as you do.

About Grace:

grace-quantock-headshotGrace Quantock is award-winning international wellness expert, coach, author, and motivational speaker. She is the founder of Healing Boxes CIC and Trailblazing Wellness Un(Ltd), creatrix of The Phoenix Fire Academy.

Grace is recognised as a trailblazer by thousands of people who have seen her speak and participated in her programs. Currently living – and thriving – with often debilitating illness, she is the real deal and knows, firsthand, the emotional and physical rollercoaster that accompanies diagnosis and life struggle.

Living in the valleys of Wales, Grace loves reading, gardening and early mornings. She firmly believes that life is meant to be celebrated, and has made it her mission to help others do just that …joyfully and on their own terms. Read more at www.gracequantock.com and www.healing-boxes.com

What Failure Taught Me About Balance (a guest post from Paula Jenkins)

September 19, 2016

Today, I’m so pleased to present this guest post from my dear friend and collaborator, Paula Jenkins, a Joyful Living Coach and podcaster, with whom I’m teaching a very special course this fall called Roots & Wings.  (This course is now closed, but you can check out plenty more digital courses in my shop right here!)

What Failure Taught Me About Balance – a guest post from Joyful Living Coach, Paula Jenkins. Read more and get the free audio meditation here! >> www.christytending.com

Paula writes:

A big fear that stops many of us, including my clients, is a fear of failing. This kind fear is tricky and sneaky, and it often masks itself as something else, but it lies below the surface. If you’ve done any inner critic work, you may notice that the the inner critic likes to fling this fear around with reckless abandon. It gets your attention, it can stop you in your tracks, and it can change the course of your decisions.

As a project manager for 17 years, one of the hardest lessons I had to learn was to let people (including myself) “fail.”

Inevitably, as projects progressed, things would slip, or, we’d find out something was not truly possible (creative ideas have limitations in website builds), or people would have other things come up in their lives. At first, it was very hard for me to let go of my perceived control around deadlines and meeting stated requirements.

It was hard for me to see that anything else could be as important as getting something done “right.”

But, over time, and over a series of failures ranging from small to epic (best shared over drinks.  I like scotch.), it became clear that even with my best intentions and in throwing every tool I knew at a project, failure was still a very real possibility.

The other hard and real truth I came to realize around failure was that I was tying the success of a project to my own perceived self-worth.

I wasn’t extending grace or flexibility to myself because I simply could not deal with the idea that I didn’t measure up, or worse (here’s where my inner critic was screaming at me), that I would become clear to everyone that I didn’t deserve to be on the team, and I’d be asked to leave.

What were the other options? I could keep fighting my reality and keep forcing a fit around something that was causing me pain.

Or, I could accept that people fail, I fail, and that things go on. And, in fact, people learn and grow and change when they fail, in ways that would never happen if I continued to try to control everything about every project I was on.

It was right around this same time that I started taking improv classes, which truly changed how I saw failure.

One of my favorite lessons around “failure” has to do with an improv troupe I worked with for awhile. Improv, while hilarious, is also deeply vulnerable. You get up in front of people and act out scenes from nothing, no script, no direction, no anything, except what you have in your head.

It’s a practice of total trust; trusting in your troupe, and trusting yourself. Improv folks don’t set out to be funny, per se, but they set out to be authentic.

We learned quickly that if you TRY to be funny, you won’t be, but if you speak from the heart and say whatever is on the tip of your tongue, the results are often hysterical. No one else can think the way you do, or make the connections you do.

When we worked together as a troupe getting ready for a show, we had a practice. If someone said something that sounded absurd, or simply wasn’t funny, or strangely awkward, they put their hands up in the air, took an over-exaggerated bow and yelled “I failed!!” Then the troupe would applaud, the weirdness would be over, and everyone moved on.

It worked because we all failed, all the time.

We acknowledged the weirdness, and let it go. The energy always changed after joyful laughter and we were ready to be back in the zone, together.

With this lesson under my belt, I started practicing it elsewhere in my life. I let people fail. And I let myself fail.  I refrained from taking a bow at work. Instead, I started acknowledging when things didn’t work, and thanked people for trying new things. I built more time into timelines. I spoke in different ways about what “completing” a task looked like.

Accepting, and then inviting, failure led to gentleness and grace with teams and with myself.

It created more rapport, more fun, more joy in the teams because it quietly stated that we were not fighting failure, but we were incorporating it, and making better projects because we made improvements based on our learnings.  I invite you to start playing with how you can allow failure in your life. How you can welcome it in and embrace it? See what starts to change.

If you’re wanting to play with the ideas of failure, here are a few thoughts on where to start.

Play with the idea of “failure” as an illusion.

If you’re worried you’ll fail at a task, try to define failure around any given situation. If it’s around changing careers, you might fear that no one will respond to your resume. Or you might be afraid you’ll dislike the new job as much as you do the current one.

Re-define failure again.

Once you have your definition in hand, ask yourself if that’s truly failing. If no one responds to your resume, there’s nothing lost. If you dislike the new job, you’ve still gotten experience interviewing and your resume is polished up and ready to go, again.

Make it play-focused.

Children experiment with new things all the time with no fear of “failing” because it’s play. The building they make from blocks can’t support the weight of a 12th story? They try again. The cardboard fort they build in the backyard gets rained on overnight and falls apart? They get out the markers!

Because now it’s a cave and they start making “caveman” drawing on the inside. The real genius of this point of view is that it builds change into the process. It recognizes that in trying and building in multiple iterations, innovation happens.

Failure is a feedback loop.

If that’s too fanciful for you, try thinking of “failure” as nothing more than feedback from the universe. Maybe something didn’t work the first time, but there was information on how to improve the idea.

Thank you so much for your wisdom, Paula! I am so honored to be your friend to get to teach by your side. ~ Christy

Interested in getting a taste of our course? Grab your free audio breathing meditation right here!

P.S.: Breathing for Every Mood and Breathing Can Heal You

About Paula:

View More: http://shelbyoliver.pass.us/paulaj-2015-headshotPaula Jenkins is a Joyful Living Coach and podcaster focused on transforming lives. From working one on one with coaching clients, to writing, and hosting a weekly podcast, she is dedicated to bringing more joy into the world.

Her purpose and her work all dance with the transformative nature of joy, even when we are faced with hard times and difficult questions. She is motivated by the words of Henri Nouwen:  “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”

She makes her online home at www.jumpstartyourjoy.com