My journey so far...
This is where I stand...It's Autumn and my favourite time of year. The autumnal months for me evoke feelings of fresh starts, a new momentum gathers inside of me, and I relish the chance to embrace and notice change.
For Mr C and I Autumn is now marked by something extra special in our lives...on Saturday 8th October we got married! We celebrated by creating a personalised day that was full of details and moments that we will cherish forever. Preparing for the day was a real adventure, it took courage, planning, problem solving, drive and dedication. The past five months have been one of the most impactful journeys I have experienced in my life so far. The moments experienced during this time have given me a huge push and a wake up call to move forwards with what I want to do. I wanted to tell you all about it, so I'd recommend grabbing a big cup of tea, a blanket, and a yummy piece of cake as I bring you up to speed with a few things that have recently happened on my journey so far...
As I mentioned in my previous posts this year I decided to study again and in July I completed a course following 11 months of learning. I handed in thousands of words that made up a few assignments, and completed many hours of coaching, to graduate in September as an NLP Practitioner and a Business and Life coach. To say that I am delighted is an understatement. It was a dream to study to become a coach and one that I had wanted for many years.
In 2009 I completed a post graduate diploma related to my day job that sparked my interest in coaching and mentoring. However having spent a lifetime in education and formal learning up until that point, and experiencing the challenge of juggling a full-time job and weekly studies, I felt that instead of studying again what I needed was a break. I was mentally and emotionally burnt out at the time, I was dealing with personal challenges, and the passion for formal education seemed to just dissolve overnight. I didn't know if I wanted to go through a phase of 'formal' learning again, instead I found different ways to keep my passion ignited for learning new things. I took a sabbatical from my job and went travelling, I started this blog, I began learning crafts, I continued to read books about personal development, I used gardening as my own form of being mindful and a form of therapy, and used pockets of my time on my commute to and from work to be inspired.
For a few years I looked for courses however I knew deep down that if I was going to take on completing another qualification it would be about finding the right course and the right place to learn, to ensure I had the learning experience that I really wanted. I tip toed round the idea of studying, and I ruled out many options of courses that just didn't sit well with me. It took until Summer 2015 to find the course I wanted, and it was a brilliant choice! I do really believe that sometimes the good things come to those who wait.
I was incredibly lucky to be on a learning journey at an amazing college (UKCPD), with brilliant course tutors (some of whom are in the graduation photo below) and inspiring course mates. I had initially signed up for a diploma to dip my toe into learning again, however something special happened on weekend two of the course. I felt an overwhelming feeling of coming home, and a huge connection to what we were learning. I loved the set up of the course, the tutors who had an infectious energy and huge passion for their area of expertise, and I was surrounded by a unique mix of inspiring course mates who had a raw energy that I was drawn to. I felt an incredible feeling inside of knowing this was it, and so I went with my intuition and decided to go all in and study for the full practitioner course.
I felt so lucky to discover a course that was really 'me'. I was at last learning a subject that had real purpose in my life, and one that I knew could make a huge difference for myself and others. I took on a personal challenge of overcoming the uneasy feelings of studying again, and the additional things associated with taking the course. For example driving long distances by myself, this was a huge barrier to my learning journey and one I laugh about now, and giving myself enough time and head space to being able to study alongside my day job. Throughout the process I trusted my intuition...
Completing the course has meant that I have tapped back into my inner confidence. I now have the tools I need to enable me to feel comfortable taking my first step along an exciting journey of setting up my own coaching business, delivering workshops and one day running a coaching retreat. Studying NLP and coaching has been the most fantastic journey for me personally and has opened up even more ideas about how I want to deliver my way of coaching. During the course I could see the building blocks of what we were learning starting to come together...and along the way something really wonderful happened. During the process I spent time focusing on me and I gained belief in myself again...I managed to unravel my identity and move on from the past, and I had the courage to stand in front of my fellow course mates and let them know my future plans. It was a hugely emotional moment for me in so many ways, and it was confirmation that I really wanted it. It has been life changing. I have dealt with a few emotional and physical set backs in my 20s and early 30s, with questions about my career and job security, dealing with lost friendships, managing challenging situations and handling change over the years...and deep in my heart I look back and see that I had taken quite a knock to my confidence and had retreated a little. During the course I was able to own these feelings, heal them in my own way and move forwards from them. I think that without having done the course I wouldn't be where I am now. For me the challenge of studying for an exam, practical assessments and completing a number of assignments was conquered...after sending in my assignments I took three days off and then started the next big project...the preparation for our wedding day and making all the handmade items that would form part of the day...
Between February and July Mr C and I had made some of the big decisions for the day including date, location, and the general feel for the day. I had found my dress, the bridesmaids dresses, and we had sent out save the dates...But that's where it ended!
I set out completing one of the biggest practical projects I think that I may ever have the opportunity to plan in just over two months. Our wedding day felt one of the most special days of my life and I look back and am so pleased with the amount of thought and handmade elements that I created. We brought together our family and closest friends to witness a bespoke ceremony that I had written, and then enjoy a party in a marquee at Mr C's beautiful family home, decorated with handmade touches and details that summed us up as a couple, and as individuals. We enjoyed a specially selected menu with delicious seasonal local food that we love to eat, and a brilliant soundtrack of music that will forever be in our memories. In time I will share snippets here of what we did to create a heartfelt, relaxed and incredibly personalised wedding day. It was the most brilliant and perfect start to our married life. I really wasn't convinced that things would feel any different with Mr C and I when we got married as we have been together just over 8 and a half years, but it really does! There's a new level of connection, purpose and brightness about our relationship, it really is such a wonderful feeling to have.
A few days after our wedding we headed off on our honeymoon, travelling to Sri Lanka and then to an island in The Maldives. Mr C created the plan for our honeymoon, researching where to stay and finding all the places we were likely to want to visit. We sat down and booked our hotels together, and planned our own route that we would take us through Sri Lanka to see a variety of places. There were no tour groups, no package deals, just us and our plan, keeping to the way of travelling that we have always loved. We really enjoyed our time together, we soaked up the culture, tried different foods, went on a safari round a national park, enjoyed the hair-raising tuk tuk journeys, visited UNESCO heritage sites and the beautiful tea country, watched the amazing sunsets, and travelled by train and car to see different parts of the country.
Our final few days of the honeymoon were spent on a small island in the Maldives. It was the time we really used to rest, reflect and enjoy our surroundings. I managed to conquer my fear of snorkelling while we were there and really enjoyed the incredible experience of swimming in warm turquoise waters. We were greeted by so many colourful fish and corals, and on our last day we saw a large turtle swimming near by. It was the perfect final day of our holiday.
During our 20 hour trip to get home I felt swept up in so many emotions and for that period of time I felt completely in limbo. Our journey of our wedding day and dream holiday had come to an end, the studying had finished, and we were about to step back into reality. During the journey home I used the time to relax, reflect and mentally plan my next steps. For me I knew that it was time to make that change and start working on a goal that two years ago I had written down in a notebook...
I've been back at work in my day job for just over two weeks and I am into the swing of things again. Having time out from my job has made me feel refreshed and the past few weeks of work have confirmed a few things for me. My day job enables me to work with some great people on a daily basis, I feel passionate about and enjoy the industry that I'm in. I've learnt over the years to ride the structural changes that continually happen around me and I feel I'm learning more about running a business. My day to day role taps into some of my strengths, allows me the space at times to be creative and take some ownership. However I feel that there is something hugely missing, for me it's having more of a purpose, the ability to make impactful decisions, deliver really great things that get noticed, and do something that makes a real difference to people and how they experience their life.
I have known for a while that my strengths and my potential aren't being utilised to the full or in the right way in my day job. There isn't the space where I am to develop my skills and allow me to flourish in the direction I want to, but I still enjoy what I do everyday, mainly because of the variety of people I work with. I decided years ago that I was determined to tend and cultivate my own personal development and build my strengths outside of my day job. I started this blog to push my creative skills and I found pockets of time around the hours of my day job to enjoy things I love doing and to be more creative. I have taken on projects at work that have an element of creativity to bring out more of the inner me into my day job. I've taken courses to gain the qualifications and skills that I want to have that will help me move closer to being able to sculpt and create more control over my life, and now creating my own business.
One of the ways that I put a focus on my own learning and personal development was in April 2014 when I took an e-course called Do What You Love, run by the hugely inspiring Beth Kempton. It was a course that I had wanted to take in Autumn 2011 but at the time I didn't feel that I was quite ready emotionally, and mentally, for the journey that I knew it would take me on.
During that course I finally put into words in my notebook my dreams of what I wanted to do, and then I bravely and promptly updated my About Me page on this blog with the words that are still there today as I write this...
"my long term goals are to one day be a personal and creativity coach, to run or deliver a creative coaching retreat and e-courses based around restoring and finding more creativity in your life, to teach a practical craft, and to write an inspiring and practical book about my story and how anyone can build more creativity into a busy lifestyle and enjoy the simple pleasures in life"
Reading the plans today, over two and a half years on, I know that this passion project is still what I want to be doing...with a few tweaks here and there. I feel pleased that I have moved closer towards it and feel grateful for taking the Do What You Love course and opening my mind up and allowing my dreams to formulate. I may be at the very beginning of this journey but with small steps I will make progress. I know that I can make space for my passions with the pockets of time during the day I have identified. I know I have hours around my day job that I can use to establish and work closer towards reaching this dream job of mine.
At the moment I feel a great flow of energy to get important things sorted and scheduled. I am carefully prioritising my time to decide what are the most essential things to do right now for me. On Saturday I decided that it was time to take on my next challenge, to move my blog from Blogger to Wordpress, so that I could publish my blog posts from a more manageable platform. Moving my blog was a long overdue task that I wanted to complete a while ago, but I didn't feel I could get my head around the technical side of things. For me being on Blogger has felt like a huge blocker that has held me back in many ways, from how I connected with others online, to being a factor and contributing to my lack of enthusiasm I felt about my blogging journey. I felt continually disheartened with how my blog and photos looked and the processes involved in getting my blog posts published. I have the lovely Lou of littlegreenshed and founder of Sisterhood Camp, for sharing a very helpful tutorial with me in May, and giving me the confidence to go for it.
So on Saturday afternoon, armed with a cup of tea and a bag of Giant Cadbury Buttons, I calmly and carefully stepped out of my comfort zone and followed the instructions step by step, taking it slow and reading everything really carefully...I bought my .com domain name and web hosting, I downloaded Wordpress and imported my blog content from Blogger, I found a blog theme I liked, and I redirected my URL. It was a task that I was really worried about however with the right mindset, resources and confidence I did it. It was so important for me to do and I'm delighted that I fitted it in just in time for a special anniversary...The Pink Button Tree turns 5 years old on Saturday 19th November! I feel re-energised about my blogging journey and I now have a blog that I love the look of, and a space that I want to spend time more time writing content and capturing images for...I can't wait for what the next 5 years will bring in this space.
...It certainly has been a full few months and I am enjoying the feeling of flow and momentum that seems to be helping me move closer towards achieving my dreams. Over the next few months I will work through my notes and plans I have started making for my book and my business, taking things at a comfortable pace and not rushing. I am so excited about the journey and adventure that lies ahead. Like our honeymoon, my route will be personally planned, it may take a different route than the 'norm', it will keep to my values, and I will journey along a route in the way that I want to. However, unlike our honeymoon, this trip has no definitive timescale but a set of markers that will help signpost my route so that I know at a glance that I am making progress.
I'm really looking forward to cultivating and living the next phase of my creative and wholesome life through the seasons, as I build my small creative coaching business, my blog and write my book. I hope you will pop back and see how I'm getting on and follow my journey on Instagram too.
Thank you to the hugely talented Dan Pearce (dp-photography.co.uk) who photographed our wedding day and to the UKCPD for my graduation photo.