creating outside your comfort zone

It sounds cliché to say but stepping out of your comfort zone and forcing yourself to do something brave and new is hard. It’s challenging. It’s going to be tough – maybe even painful – but that’s growth.

Before we headed back for the summer, I was really starting to feel settled in our new Caribbean community ; I was making friends, I knew people to wave to on my bicycle, I had a routine, I had a teaching schedule, I knew where to buy the best avocados in town, and where to eat the best brownies… I felt I had things sort of figured out.

But, when thinking about returning after our holiday hiatus, I felt called to make a bigger impact. To integrate myself further into this community bursting with like-minded people, interested in conscious living, healthy lifestyles, yoga (union), and being a community.

During a previous new moon cycle, when I was journaling and contemplating new goals and dreams to manifest, I wrote: “host Sister Circle by the end of the year – 2018”. This was among many other longer-term intentions that seemed big and scary and far away enough to maybe (not) happen.

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At my yoga teacher training, one of the things we participated in a lot was ceremony and ritual. It was a new concept for me, women gathering in a circle and sharing how they felt, opening up and being vulnerable in a sacred container, free of judgement. In the world I came from girls were mean about other girls and if there was a support network it was found over coffee or a glass of wine. But these sacred rituals that uplifted women and held space for whatever emotion arose turned out to be one of my favourite events. We didn’t have those things in London, or so I thought. But of course there were – I just wasn’t aware of them.

Women have been gathering in circles for millennia, and while these ceremonies allow women to open up and communicate without fear, they are primarily a beautiful ritual; a coming together of souls; of women walking the same path; of women who are looking for support and sisterhood. And that’s what I wanted to find in my new community. I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to be seen and to see others.

So, rather than wait to be invited to one, or to find one, I thought – hey, I can do it myself. I can host a Sister Circle.

Errrrrrr, I can? Came the little doubting Debbie deep within my comfort zone.

Sure, how hard can it be? I retaliated.

limitations

Before I left Puerto Viejo for the summer, one of the first friends I made was Marina and it was to her that I floated the idea, during one tea and cake date, that we should start a Circle. While the idea was mine initially, to be completely honest I needed the support and I wasn’t sure I could do it by myself. I needed a Sister there with me. I was stepping out of my comfort zone, but also allowing myself the comfort of doing it with someone. And, as they say, two heads are better than one!

She was thrilled. Let’s do it! she said.

So that was that. We were going to do it.

While I was away on holiday the idea – the INTENTION – was sizzling on the back burner of my mind, cooking away, stewing the how’s, the when’s, the who’s, the where’s…

At the same time, Doubtful Debbie would come tip-toing back in uninvited, trying to persuade me to stay inside my comfort zone where it was nice and safe and easy. I don’t know enough people, who were these ‘sisters’ I was going to invite? I’ve never hosted a Circle before, how am I going to do it? I hate public speaking, how am I going to lead? How am I worthy of guiding and holding space for women in the community? Don’t be silly, concluded Doubting Debbie.

But who was anyone to tell me I couldn’t do it, so why was I telling myself?

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I honoured my courage and my conviction to manifest this intention that I felt so called to create, challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone and putting myself forward in a new community and being vulnerable to share my vision. I am worthy of hosting the Circle. I can figure it out. I have support and Sisters to invite. Even if only 3 people show up, I’m going to do it anyway! And so what if I get nervous butterflies and stumble over a few words (which I absolutely will because I’m HUMAN!) it’s a learning experience and I want to grow. I want to give back. I want community. I want to create and share and be in ritual with these women in my community.

The Circle slowly shaped up over the next few weeks after my return as I sat down at my laptop, scribbling out ideas, noting down quotes, thinking of places to host it, themes to talk about… It was exciting. It was new. It was different. I was slowly breaking down the walls of my comfort zone and that’s what made it all the better.

On the 23rd September, Marina and I finally brought this intention, this little seed of an idea, into fruition. We teamed up with my friend Aly who kindly offered her beautiful home and space in Playa Chiquita, a house-come-community centre, perfect for the occasion. It was open, warm, inviting; we lit candles, incense, laid out an altar, picked some flowers – and then waited for the Sisters to arrive. We had no idea how many people would show up! I had accepted that if it were just Aly, Marina and myself we’d have it anyway and it would still be great. In the end we were 10! A beautiful number, filling all cushions we’d laid out expectantly, serendipitously.

Of course, I was nervous before but I felt calm and assured that I was doing the right thing. I honoured myself and my integrity and I honoured the Sisters who had chosen to join us in this Circle and chosen us to spend the evening with.

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Everyone came willing to share, to open, to take part in this ritual. People had brought their own items for the altar, food to share, hearts to welcome in new people, voices to speak and chant. One of the best things about it was that it was a coming together of souls who, mostly, didn’t know each other. By me being the new girl and wanting so badly to meet new people and fit in with the community to create this circle, I had actually inspired many other new faces to also come along and meet new and likeminded souls, too.

So many more beautiful things happened that night all thanks to just stepping out of that comfort zone. By pushing the limits of what felt safe and easy allowed me to grow and achieve and create something that benefited so many others. In the ritual and ceremony we shared, we laughed, we cried, we shed, we set intentions, we meditated – all together. Had I had stayed within my comfort zone, there would have been none of that.

Now, we have the next one planned for the end of October and I can’t wait. I can’t wait to gather with this strong tribe of Sisters in the community again this month, and again next month, and the months after. I’m excited to have watched this intention manifest and come into fruition and excited to see how it develops and how we develop in our Circle as Sisters, united in this ritual we hold sacred.

It’s so true that beauty and magic lie outside of your comfort zone, so think – is there anything that makes you a little scared? If there is, that’s your goal. If a dream doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.

I dare you to be bold and step outside your comfort zone and just see what happens.

For those of you in Puerto Viejo who are interested in our next Circle, we’d love to have you join us! https://www.facebook.com/events/1856035761099798/?ti=icl

journalling

When I was younger I used to keep a diary. I remember it had bears on the cover and a padlock that I locked religiously to keep my brothers out. I used to write all sorts in there; which boy I fancied at the time, whose house I was sleeping over at – deep stuff – but also things I wanted to manifest, my deepest desires (usually to go out with the boy I fancied) and other wishes and goals important to a pre-pubescent.

I fell out of the habit of writing in my diary during my teens when I didn’t think it was ‘cool’ enough, I suppose. But what a shame.

It’s taken me a long time to get back into the habit of writing, personally, intimately, for noone else but myself. I write my blog, but that’s different, I’ve written for magazines, for my work, all for other people, but I found it hard to write for a reader closer to home: me.

For years I have noted down thoughts, inspirations, quotes, and intentions on my phone but putting pen to paper and striving for a consistent journalling practice, for some reason, was so much harder to do. I didn’t think it was important enough, I guess.

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Recently, that’s changed and I’ve tried my hardest to make it a routine – surprisingly, it actually came quite easy. Now, I take the time, usually each night before bed or during a quiet moment in the hammock, to write. To release. Whatever comes out; stream of conscious, zero censor, verbal diarrhoea, to be crass. It’s not all gushy ‘Dear Diary’ dreaming, some days I’ll have nothing to say – as much as I try. Others I’ll surprise myself and write pages and pages at a time cramping up my hand. There are also days I’ll be more attuned to my emotions, deeper needs and higher Self; there are also days I feel uninspired and unmotivated and the only thing I can think to write about is what I had for dinner. But that’s ok. It’s the process of writing that’s the point – and sticking to it.

Journalling is cathartic. You’re releasing, no matter what you write. Some people even go back and make a habit of rereading their entries to chart their growth or changes in their life – not a habit I do, personally. And not for any reason in particular other than I don’t feel the need to. If I’ve released, I’ve released. But maybe I should. One day.

So my question to you is: when was the last time you wrote anything that wasn’t a shopping list or a to-do list? Did you have ‘Dear Diary’ days like I did as a kid? If you did, I challenge you to try and rekindle that habit of writing, of journalling, and to look within. If you didn’t, I still challenge you to try. Humour me.

I want to encourage you to start writing for yourself. About yourself. About what inspires you. What scares you. What ails you. Even if it feels like escapism rather than release, it doesn’t matter.

What you write doesn’t have to be an essay-length entry, just a few sentences at first. You can even start with what you did that day. Then move onto observing how you’re feeling. Maybe try putting into words your deepest desires, goals you want to manifest. Later, you can reflect on how you are moving forward to achieve these goals.

Allow your journalling to be a stream of conscious; an uninterrupted flow of words, thoughts. It’s ok for your mind to be on one track and then suddenly switch to another, like that game of lateral thinking. Just keep writing. And whatever you write be truthful. Write honestly. There’s no judgement between these pages. Use your journal as a place of 100% transparency. It’s only you who will be reading it – and maybe not even at that.

journal and ritual

Once you start, you might find you enjoy journalling so much you keep your journal in your bag or take it out with you in case you feel called to write something down spontaneously. Even if you don’t have it with you when you need, jot your thoughts or inspirations down on your phone or a scrap of paper to remember for later. Sometimes if I’ve had a burst of inspiration I literally stop myself in my tracks and get out my phone to write it down then and there. If I don’t, I forget – the curse of a colander brain.

Your journal – physically – doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I bought mine (a bright yellow exercise book for school kids now water damaged from the beach) in the sale at the supermarket. Classy. It doesn’t have a padlock on it either, like it used to, and I no longer hide it away under my pillow or stuffed deep at the back of my drawer. Usually it’s lying open, pages to the sky, beside my side of the bed. [My boyfriend will never read it. That’s an unspoken rule.] You can get a fancy journal though if it helps you cultivate this ritual and a feeling of sacredness. Also, if you feel like you want to keep yours more private and secure then do whatever you need to do. What happens between you and your journal is your business.

Ok, then what? It might help to have a nice bath or enjoy a contemplative yoga practice or meditation beforehand. Next, sit down, open up a clean page and try muster up a few sentences. See how it goes, even if what comes out seems forced or a little twee at first – it doesn’t matter. Then, can you can dig a little deeper… What are you really feeling. Be honest.

Don’t be afraid to let your pen run away with you. And remember there’s no wrong answer.

You’re just doing this for you.

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Some questions to kick off your journalling practice:

  1. How did I feel today? (Or: How do I want to feel today?)
  2. How did I step out of my comfort zone? (Or: How can I?)
  3. What am I avoiding?
  4. What am I taking for granted?
  5. How can I grow?
  6. What can I let go of?
  7. How can I show more compassion (to self and others)?
  8. Who can I appreciate more?
  9. What did I learn from today/yesterday?
  10. What is my goal (short or long-term)?
  11. And if all else fails – What did I have for dinner?

[image credits]