What would you do? - by Sarah

If you’ve spent any time with me, you’ve probably heard me talk about my late Great Uncle Harry. I have him to thank for many happy childhood memories including kitchels (he was the caretaker of and lived above the town hall) and his cuckoo clock (he’d turn the hands to 12 o’clock).  

Whatever challenges life threw at him (infertility; his beloved wife Rose’s Alzheimer’s; a broken knee at 92; spending his final couple of years in a nursing home) Great Uncle Harry’s favourite saying was: ‘Mustn’t grumble’.  And he didn’t. 

Uncle Harry came to all our family dos. He loved the food, the banter, the board games. But the thing he loved best of all, I think, is our ‘Christmas dinner scratch card’ tradition.

Silence falls. The oldest person in the room is handed the lucky coin. They scratch while everyone watches. The coin is ceremoniously handed to the youngest person. Then it’s the next oldest person’s turn, the next youngest and so on. Oh the thrill of winning a tenner, or even a £1!

Since Uncle Harry died two years ago, we continue to scratch cards after turkey, before pudding, and we begin by raising a glass to him. It’s the time of the year I miss him most.

This Christmas the conversation turned to ‘What would you do if we won big?’. What would I do? While others talked of ditching or switching their jobs, I thought, ‘I’d do exactly what I already do!’ Even if we won squillions on a scratch card.

Several years ago, I went to a ‘manifest your dreams’ workshop and I made this vision board. I found it recently and was thrilled to realise the fun, nurturing and stillness I’d tried to capture on card are all high up on the agenda on all our retreats, and in my Reiki and Nia classes. And whether I’m penniless or rolling in it, fulfilling this dream will continue to be the reason why I jump out of bed in the morning.

If you can say the same then we’re one of the lucky ones. If you’d make massive changes then why wait for an unlikely lottery win (especially if like me you only play it once a year)? Even if you can’t ditch or switch your job, you can take steps, even small ones, towards creating a life you really love. That’s what Great Uncle Harry, the happiest man I’ve ever known, would do.

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My relationship with my feet - by Sarah

When I was a teenager, somebody told me I have ugly feet. I looked down. My feet are wide. My toes are long – if they were cigarettes they’d be Super Kings. There are lumps at the back of my ankles. And my little toes curl inwards like tiny Wotsits.

I blame ballet. From the age of three, I squished my soft little feet into snug fitting ballet slippers and eventually I went up onto pointe shoes.

For three decades after that comment, I longed for straight toes and – oh the irony – for narrow feet that slipped elegantly into flat ballet pumps. Mine bulged over the sides. Muffin-feet.

 Along came Reiki and my practice was helping self-acceptance to blossom, but my unconscious foot shame remained. I shunned strappy sandals and feminine flip-flops, opting for DMs, Fly boots and chunky clogs. In summer I thanked the footwear gods for Converse and Espadrilles.

But then in 2016, I trained in Nia Dance barefoot fitness and unexpectedly fell in love - with my feet. When I lose myself in the music, I am flooded with gratitude for every inch of bone, joint, ligament, skin, muscle and sinew in my body. And of course when I’m dancing, my feet step, flex, tap, stretch, glide and kick. I’m glad they’re wide and strong.

Learning to love the attractive, semi-attractive and neither-here-nor-there bits of myself was difficult enough, but it’s really challenging learning to love the unattractive bits. My size sixes are more Shrek than Dr Scholl, but I’m determined to take my self-love all the way.

Don't let it go - let it be - by Charlotte

Have you ever been advised to ‘just let go and move on’ - whether that’s of an unrequited love or an unresolved conflict? To me, it’s the one of the least useful pieces of advice around. Because we’d all do it, if we could. Obviously. If you can’t let go of something it’s because…well, you can’t.

Once, when my heart was smashed to smithereens, I thought longingly of the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which centres around characters erasing memories of the lovers who’ve left them, so they no longer have to live with the pain. Deep down, though, I knew such a shortcut - if it existed in reality - wouldn’t really be an answer. We always have to grieve a bit and learn the lessons from these situations before we can feel better.

So all I could do was give it time and distance myself from the situation. I couldn’t let go but I could do something else - something the late Sally Brampton, brilliant journalist and agony aunt, told me about when we worked together several years ago. ‘I never tell people to let it go,’ she said. ‘I prefer to think of letting it be.’

Letting it be simply means leaving it alone - whatever it is. You stop engaging and you stop trying. You don’t necessarily stop feeling sad/angry/frustrated/whatever, not straight away - perhaps not even for a long time. But you stop putting your energy into something (or someone). Letting go is - annoyingly - rarely something you can do at will. Letting it be, though, is always possible.