Your Guide to the different Yoga Classes

Starting out in yoga can be daunting enough – pulling on leggings and preparing to do something you’ve never done before without having to navigate all the confusing names of classes!

Who knew there were so many types of yoga? You thought yoga was yoga, right?! Wrong.

Here’s your quick guide to what’s in a yoga class so that you know which one will be best for you.


Ok. So this is as it sounds. An introduction to yoga philosophy, breathing, the different poses and meditation. Teaches technique and physical alignment. You can do this class as many times are you like – taking a ‘beginners’ mindset is always useful.


Vinyasa is a Sanskrit word (Sanskrit is the traditional language of yoga – who knew you even had to learn a different language?) and means “to place in a special way”.

This means in a Vinyasa class that we will combine our breath and our movements (so we might ‘inhale to bend the knees and ‘exhale to step the up with the right foot’)to bring both mind and body together. There are certain poses that link together to form sequences or ‘flows’ in this style. This is a dynamic class for those who are familiar with the poses and techniques outlined in Beginners.

Goddess Yoga

This class celebrates everything divinely feminine. Open to all who identify as female it seeks to carve out a space to rest, recharge and regroup in a uniquely female way. We will focus on pelvic floor health, body image and empowerment through our yoga (a mixture of Vinyasa and Yin depending on how we feel!) and meditation practices. And play some kick ass tunes while we let it all hang out!

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

Prenatal Yoga

Yoga for pregnancy.

Learn to cope with the changes happening to your mind and body, develop strength and soften into intensity.

Currently available for one to one sessions.

Group sessions coming soon to Soul Sanctuary Studios.

Read more about the Poppy approach I use here :

Photo by on

Postnatal Yoga

Yoga for post natal birth givers.

Building on from pregnancy yoga (although you don’t need to have attended any pregnancy classes) classes will focus on adjusting to and healing the physical body post birth and give the birth giver space to navigate the emotional transformation to parenthood – and all that that involves!

Currently available for one to one sessions.

Group sessions coming soon to Soul Sanctuary Studios.

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on

Yin Yoga

Yin takes it’s name in contrast to our usual ‘Yang’ practice (and lifestyle) and moves at a much slower pace.

Suitable for even complete beginners, this class takes it’s time over postures so that we begin to work into the connective tissues and fascia. Rather than strengthening muscles, this practice is about releasing tension and enjoying the stretch.

Poses are held for 3 – 5 minutes and are supported with cushions, props and blankets for max comfort.

Yoga Nidra

Nidra translates from Sanskrit as ‘sleep’.

This is a class of pure, unadulterated relaxation. You are guided into a deeply relaxed state on the edge of sleep to allow the mind and body to heal regenerate.

This class is currently taught online.

For more information listen to this short audio guide.

Photo by Elly Fairytale on

So there you go. Now you know you’re Vinyasa Flow from your Yoga Nidra you’re all set to book a class!

There are plenty of on line and ‘in person’ options to choose from also look out for ‘Special’ Classes and Workshops…

Our Daily Breath















Suck in












Social media













A compliment













A bath

A drink


















Let Go




The cursor blinks.

The rose blooms sway their heavy heads.

The spot light is over me.

The eye of the storm approaching.

Do I shrink away, play small, hide my light, soften my voice?

Or do I step up, step out and speak out?

The crows, in their black, circle and jostle high in the silver birch

Brazen and loud, confident and raucous.

No space for self conscious, over-thinking.

They leave as suddenly as they arrive, on to the next thing.

The robin lands on the gate,

it’s red breast plain to see, to all but him.

Perching proudly, lightly, quietly, softly.

He flies off only to return to the same spot.

A life half as high, still valid, still visible, still lived,

Photo by Efdal YILDIZ on

Change is a powerful thing.

I wrote this post almost exactly 12 months ago. It appeared on a good friend’s blog at the time and I realise now I never shared it here.

Although things have moved on massively for me in the last year it’s never a bad thing to remind yourself how far you’ve come…

Change is a powerful thing”

Lana Del ray

Change –  we think –  happens in big Blockbusting Hollywood Movie style moments.  We quit the job – Jerry Maguire style;  we drop the mic on all the unsaid in a relationship, we walk out of the door, we kick the habit, we do a 180.  And although this does happen, these moments are in the minority. They account for maybe 1% of our lived experience. What about the other 99%? The days that drag, the days where we just exist, get through? In each of these days we make a million and one choices. Choices that in fact end up shaping the direction of our lives little by little. 

Change, as it turns out doesn’t have to something massive and scary. Something extreme or perfect. So often we visualise an ideal outcome and then scare ourselves silly when we have no concept of how we will achieve it. The result? We do nothing. Paralysis takes hold. Old patterns persist. We stay in the job, the relationship, we keep the weight on, we distract ourselves and numb our discomfort rather than taking steps in the direction that we really want to be going.

Take me for example, I have done the unthinkable this year. And it has felt like it’s happened pretty rapidly in the end. Just a few weeks ago I began a yoga teacher training course. Something I had always daydreamed about but never really thought I could do. 

Five years ago I I left my professional career to save my mental health and raise our young family. In doing so I also left behind my professional  identity.  This left me pretty lost most days.  Although I loved being at home to raise the children there was a nagging question hanging over me all the time. Who was I? What did I want? Did I have anything to contribute anymore? There were some days when I didn’t even feel real or visible. Throw in a another new baby, a double family bereavement and I was scuppered. But that’s when things got seriously interesting in terms of personal growth. Uncomfortable yes , painful even,  but interesting as that’s when I finally gave myself the permission to re-craft who I thought I was. As the brilliant Elizabeth Gilbert puts it: 

“When you come to the end of yourself is where all the interesting stuff starts.”

Elizabeth gilbert

I started by quieting the noise of the world. This was a coping mechanism primarily, in the early days, but in hindsight this was the valuable tool which helped me to get to know myself.  I threw myself into yoga, meditation, journaling,  cut myself off from my usual friends, patterns, obligations and instead turned inwards. Through this process I began un-unearth the things that soothed me, comforted me and made me ME. Me as separate from work, from belongings and status. Separate from my husband, my children, my family or friends.

The me I was at my essence. 

The noise of the modern world is so all consuming and our lives are so frantic that unless we carve out time (or have it thrust upon us by a major life event)  we rarely take stock of where we are and where we want to go. This is different from just moaning about where we are. It’s looking at everything in your life objectively. In the ’12 Step Programme’ they call it ‘Taking Inventory’. I’m not suggesting you need to take a ‘jack in all in’ to figure it out but taking some time to open up some thinking space can really help.

 I would get up a few minutes before the rest of the family and pick and choose from some of the things on the list below. I began to notice that when I started / ended or punctuated my day with these things I was able to keep a focus on how I want to operate within the world. My choices were more conscious and mindful. More in line with who I was and who I wanted to be. 

  • meditation
  • yoga
  • journaling / doodling / vision boarding
  • Swapping social media ogling for reading something uplifting / inspiring
  • Listening to a podcast on a subject you are curious about while driving or washing up
  • Going outside 
  • Looking or listening to something beautiful 
  • Pausing for a moment instead of keeping on keeping on
  • Doing something creative just for fun

Until recently, I didn’t know where any of this was leading me or why I was drawn to much of it.  I just knew that in small parts this journey was healing me from my grief and trauma and giving my brain time to relax, play and focus on something outside of the daily routines of motherhood. 

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”

Steve Jobs.

Following your curiosity is a much gentler and permissive idea than than attacking something with passion. Which we often mistakenly think we need to have in order to change direction.
Passion can burn us out and burn itself out quickly in the process. It has a pressured, demanding, obsessive  energy to it where success is determined by a particular outcome. Curiosity meanders, wanders, takes its time and has no expectation of where it is going, or why. There is no outcome associated with curiosity. Merely pleasure and fascination. 

Doing things that we enjoy, with no end in mind or any particular outcome makes us feel energised, empowered.  When we feel energised we make different choices. When we know where it is we want to go these choices quickly begin to stack up and begin shaping our life in a different way. We become more open to opportunities and feel more confident in our ability to tackle them. Any action towards your desired direction is a positive step. You don’t have to have it all figured out. As you take one baby step the next step will become clear. Keep trusting that the next step will become obvious when you get there and eventually you will realise you have either gotten to or surpassed the place you had been day dreaming of. 

I began my yoga training course, with an abstract longing to be a yoga teacher, but telling myself and everyone else that I didn’t really know whether I would or could do it in reality. I pulled out all the excuses. “I’m too old, I’m not fit enough, I haven’t got the time or the money, what about childcare?” the list of reasons why I couldn’t was endless. The bottom line? I was scared. Fear was running the show. I didn’t want to fail, to be the ‘worst’ (whatever that was) in my class or make a fool of myself. What if I went through all of this and I was no good and nobody came to my classes? 

On day 1, our teacher encouraged us to be there for ourselves. Not for anyone or anything else. To absorb the knowledge and the experience and allow wherever it would take us to unfold naturally. I listened and threw myself in. 

Even by the end of the first week  I had began to not only visualise  myself as a yoga teacher but also feel myself becoming a teacher. Through some hard work, emotional graft and practice at teaching this new identify began to take form. Taking my curiosity for yoga and working with it has helped me to realise that the steps to actually becoming a teacher  were really quite logical and straightforward and definitely something that I could do.

Once I had put myself in the energy of possiblity (i.e. became a ‘yes’ instead of a ‘no’ for things) and stopped fear from running the show then oportunities began to flow to me. A name for my business, a logo a website  and opportunities for teaching manifested themselves easily and quickly.  I was now putting myself out in the world in a completely different way. I felt differently about myself, my abilities and my future. I feel proud of what I have acheived so far and excited for the changes that are to come as I finally begin to step into the the life I have imagined for so long. 


Yoga teaches us to be flexible. It works deeply into the muscles, stretching and elongating, releasing tensions and introducing new ways of opening and moving the body. Making space where there was none, shining light in the dark.

The point of this is not simply so that we can learn to touch our toes or sit in the lotus position, but so that we can be flexible in our mind. In our approach to life. My teacher always told me that ‘The way that we show up on the mat is how we show up off the mat’ – that fear that holds you back from trying those balancing poses is the same fear that holds you back in your career or personal life. That drive that sees you pushing yourself in every pose is the same drive that pushes you to over-commit, over-schedule and over-achieve off the mat. That resistance that holds you back from fully nailing a pose, from pushing through the procrastination to get on the mat or to try something new is the same resistance that keeps you stuck in your life choices. Fear is fear, Drive is drive and Resistance is resistance wherever it shows up and play out in your life.

“Everything is everything”

– Lauren Hill.

Therefore if everything comes back to the same starting point then what we do on the mat impacts how we feel off the mat. That’s the reason it feels so good and keeps you coming back for more. Opening up the body into shapes that we wouldn’t usually feels so luxurious after days or weeks stuck in our habitual movement patterns. Moving the spine, working the large muscle groups in the legs, torso, arms wakes up the small muscle groups around the face, within the hips, shoulders, and feet. It opens up possibilities that we had been unaware of in our planes of movement and allows energy to flow in a new way. Sparking the same flow of energy in our perspective.

Maybe it’s sitting in stillness that is hard for you, chair pose or inversions, whatever it is we will all have something that we resist, dread even (hello pigeon pose) that once we’ve done it we feel a flood of relief, achievement and sometimes euphoria. For me it’s headstands. I still need assistance, I don’t practice enough alone and spend so much time talking myself out of it, but when I do get there it feels amazing to have pushed myself and turned my world upside down. Doing this one (or many) small things on the mat lead to approaching things differently off the mat. The mental stillness or clarity after a class significantly impacts how I manage my time and my focus of attention, the physical strength I feel after a fiery flow leads me to feel emotionally stronger and the satisfaction gained from momentarily getting into a pose I previously thought was unavailable is so freeing it opens me up to think – ‘what else can I do?’.

Today needs some flexibility. It is three years since I lost my Dad. It is a day that needs space, memories need remembering, emotions need feeling. It is a day to be marked. My usual routine of a yoga class and supermarket shop is off limits and instead a puncture has appeared in my car tyre. This has meant a 2 mile walk home from the garage and a flexible approach to lunch with my Mum. This might have been a source of stress in the past, letting someone down, not getting the time I need to stay ahead, not having the house running as usual.

Instead today I accepted the day that I had been handed, different to the day I thought I wanted and took a deep breath. I set off on the walk home, with no headphones or company for distraction and found the space I craved. The cold biting and refreshing and by the end the blood pumping and endorphins singing. My trainers are a little less pristine and my mum has had to wait longer than I would like but everything is as it is. Why make it harder for myself by piling on the emotions and suffering to an already potentially painful day? So, channeling all I’ve learnt from yoga I plan to approach today (and hopefully the rest of the week) with flexibility.


E x


I find myself seeking out space.

Winter makes way for Spring.

The sun rises earlier and sets later, a spectacle of light.

The sky is blue and clear, it captures my attention and catches my breath. I turn my gaze upwards and sense a world opening up.

The light is changing in the house and charges the air with hope, possibility and freshness. I clear out drawers and piles of papers, sweep away cobwebs and open up windows. Physical space appearing in my wake.

On my mat I open my chest, lift my heart and lengthen my spine. I create the space I crave within my body.

I focus my attention and feel the opposite effect on my awareness. An opportunity to reflect and gain perspective.

The children are changing, growing and becoming more independent. There is space for me in longer periods. Space for us.

The garden calls me to make space, cut back, clear away. Spaces open and soon shoots will appear.

Space is rarely empty for long.

Soon the space will begin to be filled. Light will shine there and growth will occur.

New habits will form or old habits will resume and where there once was space will soon be overgrown and tangled. Tangled responsibilities, worries, distractions and clutter.

So I savour this space while I have it and all that it brings along with it.

Space. Clarity. Stillness. Wisdom. Choice. Power. Peace.

Meeting Your Own Needs.

The ‘Self Care’ movement seems to be gathering pace and I’m all for this, but it does bother me that when something becomes a trend or a hashtag it can turn into a bit of a cliche that we all start eye rolling about – think mindfulness and veganism. Will #selfcare go the same way?

It got me thinking … what IS self care? What does it really mean? Is it just an excuse for a bubble bath or a manicure or does it run deeper? The answer is I suspect different for each of us, what is self care to me might not be to you and vice versa.

But what is underneath all of it, is meeting our own needs. Meeting our needs as well as other peoples, meeting our needs before we meet other peoples, meeting our needs as often as we meet other peoples and the biggest one of all meeting our needs ourselves without waiting for someone else to rescue us or give us permission.

I remember being blown away in my twenties when I read that the only person who can make me truly happy was me, that I had to stop waiting for other people to make me happy and get on with the job myself.

Mind. Blown.

I expect it was a result of being drawn in to all of the schmaltzy rom coms and women’s magazines as a young woman that had programmed me to expect a man to give me the life of my dreams and make my every whim a reality without the need to be told. He should just know right?


And the same goes for self care. Other people are not going to notice when you need a break, unless you are on your knees begging. They are too busy with their own lives to notice or be able to take care of any more people. Especially a grown adult. It is up to US to meet our own needs – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

The really interesting thing though is how can we meet our needs and do this for ourselves and by ourselves, without needing anything external.

The evidence is there to show us that all of the things we most often reach for – alchohol, drugs (prescription and non), nicotine, shopping, eating, phones, sex, tv – none of these things are doing us much good at all. At least not in the quantities or frequencies some of us use them. All of these things are external (except arguably sex) all of them are things we have to pay for and consume in some way (including arguably sex!) and all are things that alter our chemical make up in some way shape or form. Some of them cause horrendous diseases in the long term if abused and many of them are impacting our mental health and relationships but still we continue – why?

Because we are using them to fill an emotional hole. We might have used them once and they made us feel good. Amazing. On top of the world. And we want to recreate that feeling. We want a quick fix so we reach for our dependence of choice. (Mine is chocolate btw.) Or we want to escape our current situation and distract ourselves into a different reality – think phones / tv / shopping.

We also use them because they work. They fill up that emotional hole instantly and they are a quick fix. But longer term they start undoing us, we need more and more to get that instant fix and they start doing damage to our systems. Their impact becomes more negative than positive but by that stage the habit has formed and we don’t know another option.

So how do we meet our own needs?

Well firstly, we would have to be able to identify what our need was –

Physical – am I actually hungry / thirsty / in need of energy / have too much energy?

Mental – Am I overwhelmed/ disorganised/ scattered/ mentally restless/ can’t switch off?

Emotional – Am I lonely / sad/ happy/ ecstatic / envious / disappointed?

Then we would need to find a way of meeting that need, have a bank of ideas and strategies that we know and that work for us and that we could go to at any time. So many of us rely on the external, socially acceptable ways to unwind (glass of wine / netflix and chill) or energise (food, caffiene, shopping) that we have no idea how to manage our emotional states without these things.

You can alter your energy in an instant by simply moving your body, the more upright your spine, the more energised you will feel. If you want to feel empowered stand like Wonder Woman if you want to feel energised dance and jump up and down for 2 minutes. That’s all it takes to begin to change your body’s bio-chemistry and you can do that by simply moving your body. But unless someone tells you that then we will keep reaching for the caffeine / refined sugar / energy drink that some company is making money from in order to feel the same internal change.

Our consumer society means we no longer know how to meet our own needs without all too often dashing to the shops or making a Dr’s appointment. There is so much we can do to help ourselves and to care for ourselves on a daily basis so that we can choose when we rush to the shops or make that Drs appointment becuase we know we’ve done all we can to help ourselves.

Here are a list of ways to meet your own needs yourself. They are not necessarily things you need to stick to all day everyday, I believe in balance in all things, but the next time you find yourself reaching for something external to meet an internal need ask yourself if you could try something new.


Eat nourishing foods – greens, fresh fruit veggies, something un-tampered with and wholesome.

Drink water or a herbal tea.

Move your body – run / walk/ yoga/ swim whatever is your thing.

Get some fresh air and be in nature.

Change your state (mood / energy) by jumping up and down or dancing to an upbeat song.

Give yourself a massage – massage your temples / feet / hands / shoulders.


Change your state – as above

Journal or write down how you’re feeling. Is there one feeling that is dominant and how could you release that?

Cry / laugh / scream – express the emotion, call a friend.

Find something to be grateful for – especially good when you’re feeling envious/ lacking or not enough.

Get creative – write about or draw / paint about how you’re feeling

If crystals are your thing, find one that resonates with your mood or need that day.


Meditate – even 5 minutes of meditation can alter the way your brain focuses.

Breathe – breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathe in how you do want to feel and breath away any negative feelings. Try alternate nostril breaths to re-balance both sides of your brain.

Write a list

Repeat a mantra – find a positive mantra that says how you want to feel that day and keep repeating that.

Read or look at something beautiful

Spend a few minutes looking at the sky / landscape where you are

Get present in your body, feel your feet on the floor and ground yourself in this moment.

We all need down time and chance to indulge ourselves and relax in whatever makes us feel good – I love to chill in front of the tv as much as the next person, pass the wine please, but I try to make sure that when I do it is because I want to, that I am driving the habit and not the other way around.

Ultimately no one else can tell you how your self care should look because it’s all about how it feels. It should meet whatever need has arisen or go some way to meeting it and it doesn’t have to look like any one else’s self care. So if some tells you should ‘go for a run’ when you’re feeling low but all you want is a bath then go for the bath. Only you know.

A Post It with the following question hangs in the pantry of the brilliant social researcher Brene Brown – maybe meeting our own needs begins with asking ourselves this question…

“What are you hungry for?”


For 2018 I chose the word ‘Alignment’ as a guidepost. I wanted to align my actions with my thoughts, my choices with my values, my body through a physical yoga practice but most of all -my days with the life that I so often dream about.

One of the things I wanted to try was a Moon Group. Not just attend one, I wanted to run one. A Moon group meets on the New or Full Moon to meditate and journal together. Everyone on Insta’s at it.

Blogging and writing in general was also on the list and in the early months of the year I did well at getting my writing on different platforms.

Then somewhere in the heat of the Summer it all went to pot. I fell apart a little bit, went under with all of the pressure I was putting on myself and also from the strain of keeping all the balls in the air. Felt like I couldn’t keep up the momentum in any area of  my life let alone these ‘added extras’ so they fell by the wayside.

But before I went off the boil I put in an application form to a Yoga Teacher Training Course…

I began the course, at a pretty low ebb of self confidence and self esteem. Being absolutely cock-sure that everyone else would be ‘better’ than me, fitter than me, stronger than me and more able than I was. There was no way I was going to commit myself by saying I was going to actually teach after I did this thing, just that I was doing it for my own self enjoyment.

But HOLD THE PHONE. The most powerful transformation has happened in that little studio over the last four weeks. Slowly something has shifted out all of that negative rubbish that has been circling me for months on end and replaced it with positive, encouraging and exciting self talk. The support of the group, the self enquiry and the teaching has been impeccable and I have learned more than I ever though possible so far.

But the biggest breakthrough? A headstand. A wobby, wonky old headstand.

Before we got started I made it clear that I couldn’t do these things, I never had, not even as a kid. I was gently made aware that when we tell ourselves this and we let fear run the show  then we will never let go enough to try. So with a slightly more open mind I listened as the physics of the pose were explained and demonstrated (and made to look SO easy).

Then it was our turn to pair up and have a go … I volunteered to  go first and POP there  I went! UP! Feet in the air, head on the floor, my world literally turned upside down. I felt ecstatic! Light as air, powerful and brave. So chuffed with myself that I had broken down such a huge fear that I couldn’t wait to have another go.

The volume of the negative chatter is literally turning down in my head and I although I am vaguely aware it it is no longer the dominant voice.

Sitting here I see how far I’ve come in aligning myself and my life this year, as I am planning the next Moon group, setting up my new Yoga business and look – writing a blog post!

I realise that changes do not happen over night, they are so long in the preparation but when they come it is like the universe is stitching together all of those disparate parts with golden thread and urging you along the way. We can all feel stuck and frustrated and in turn out of control in our own lives,  but often the way out of this is by taking the tiniest baby step. Some action, any action that takes you in any direction because action is energy and energy is momentum. Inspired by one small change you begin to wonder “what else is possible?”.

Who would have thought a headstand could be the action I needed to take towards my own business? But in a round about way it was. Today I’m tackling the ‘crap -drawer’ at home – I wonder where that will lead me?!

The Raft Race.

A river raft adventure - you tube

When I decided to walk away from my career 5 years ago I thought it was going to be a temporary move. Five years on and I honestly have no idea if I will ever go back to it.

I look around at the other mothers I know who have returned to their former roles at work after maternity leave and now as their children are at school and older their careers begin taking off again. But what about those wilderness years, when the children are small and the family is growing what happens to us then?

Your job is a life raft on the sea of life. It keeps you afloat financially most obviously, supporting your needs for food and shelter within this material world. But its much more than that. It is a large part of our identity. A breath after you meet someone and you have introduced yourself they ask you what you ‘do’. What you do and who you are are inextricably linked in our society. We value the contribution that people make in the world and the sort of contribution they make is a shortcut to the idea we hold about who they are.

So you paddle like mad in your early twenties to get a head-start on the other ‘rafters’ around you, rowing with anything you can get your hands on to get qualified to just get your space on that raft. You continue this thrashing, splashing shark fight until you are established in your chosen field.

At which point you might then coast for a bit, your stripes now earned, you give yourself just a small bit of space to look to the horizon. You begin thinking about giving the raft an gentle nudge in another direction. If you’re lucky, the waters are calm, money is coming in, you can spend it on just yourself and do what ever you like when ever you like. The horizon is interesting, exotic and tempting, the world is there for the adventure and you are most definitely the captain of this now pretty luxurious raft.

During this time you might have been lucky enough to meet someone, to start a life with them and then to consider starting a family. You have naive rose tinted ideas of how this new person will just slot into your already pretty cool life. You will still do all the things you want to do, but now you;ll have a really cute little mate to do it with. You will rock the workplace and the homestead. You will be the one who juggles it all and still looks good doing it. You definitely won’t be one of those zombie moms, or co-sleep, definitely no co-sleeping.

Fast forward to six months into maternity leave. You are still in pajamas at lunch time, covered in mushed banana and you haven’t washed your hair for a week. You can’t remember what day of the week it is let alone any of your passwords to access your work laptop, even if you could contemplate ‘Keeping in Touch’… But soon you have to think about going back to work. Your life as you knew it has been completely obliterated by this small, adorable but screaming presence in your home. Day rolls into night and weeks roll into months.

The ‘Work You’ seems like a hazy memory, a stranger almost compared with the you that confronts you now. And the panic of how you will ever be that  person again sets in. You never wanted to be one of those people that parenthood changed but here you are…changed beyond all recognition, both inside and out. Your work life raft is floating alongside you just waiting for you to haul yourself back aboard. Waiting to take you back to yourself. The problem is, you just can’t find the strength. Now you have a half stone baby clutched to your hip and you haven’t slept in months, the effort to heave your combined body weights to the safety of the raft feels impossible.

This is where you make your decision. Whatever gives you that push to haul your ass up aboard the raft, be it financial, personal, or professional you manage it and pull yourself back aboard the raft-race. Things move more quickly, priorities have shifted and times swallows you up in a constant whirlwind of responsibilities – home, work, home, work, home, work. The waters are rougher some days than others when teething or noro-virus strike and you still have to carry on regardless desperate for a break in the weather and some blue skies.

You look around and expecting to see other similarly sea sick exhausted faces all you see is everyone else looking fine. Managing it well, keeping all the balls in the air and paddling their raft at a steady pace every day. You examine your oars – is there something wrong with them? With your arms? With the raft itself? Am I on the wrong raft? The waters begin to seep up through the floor of your raft and you find that you are bailing out the water as well as rowing. Working twice as hard just to stay still. Bailing out the financial burden of childcare and a mortgage, spinning the plates of your old life, old friends and commitments and still being there for your family and home. But where did you go? Where did the time for YOU go? It’s gone in to all that bailing out and rowing there seems no time for floating now. When you float, you sink and you have to work harder to get back to where you left off. It hardly seems worth it.

So you keep going and going and going and day by day you make small progress and day by day you become more and more exhausted. The raft race is far ahead of you now. At this point you either make the decision to fish or cut bait. To stay in the race or to slip over the side of your raft and surrender your position.

I slipped over the side of my raft in 2013. I watched as my career of 12 years floated away from me taking my financial independence and part of my identity with it. The water was soothing and cool though and I had plenty more energy for treading water and even the odd backstroke. I enjoyed the sunsets on a lilo with a mocktail (as I was pregnant again) and having the sea all to myself everyday. Now I have three children and the waters are a bit muddier and a bit choppier and some days they totally come up over my head as the responsibility of three small people leaves me sorely outnumbered. On those days I search for that life raft, desperate for a break in the monotony of being a stay at home mum. But I can’t even catch a glimpse of it, my life now so different to way it used to be.

And then I remember myself and catch a glimpse of the other parents on rafts all around me, desperate for a day to sneak in to the water and catch their breath. The energy is different down here, people up there on the rafts move faster, more loudly and make bigger waves. Their impact and contribution clear for the world to see. They are validated and recognised, seen and heard. There are days when nobody sees you when you are in the water or hears you. Rarely does somebody recognise your efforts at home or in parenting and more often than not you feel like you’re muddling through only to make no-one very happy.  But the energy is slower, more predictable and more under your own volition. It is more joyful and more uplifting on the days that go well than any good day in the office. But the rewards will not be reaped by payday at the end of the month or even by bonus time at the end of the year there is no magical finishing line and no one will get a medal of participation.

But we each of us know deep down that THIS is the most important job we will do. Even if society (that’s us) doesn’t always value it as much as we’d like. As parents we are making the biggest contribution to society in shaping how the next generation think, feel and behave. So give yourself time for floating and cocktails and lilos and sunsets along the way. Take a breather, recharge. Don’t expect to ‘find’ the time to do this, you have to ‘make’ the time and you do this by not doing other things. I don’t mean by leaving your job and giving up on everything but by leaving somethings undone, by letting some things go, by lowering your expectations. By leaving space and choosing to float every now and again. Give yourself that permission.

I write this to recognise us all whether we’re still in the raft race working, not working, surviving or thriving in the deep oceans of parenting. Keep paddling, swimming, bailing it will get easier as each storm passes. Wherever you can throw out a rubber ring to those around you – even if they don’t look like they’re struggling. Especially if they don’t look like they’re struggling – making it look easy comes at a cost too. You can forget how to float.

Photo Credit – Alistair Humphries – You Tube.

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