8 gifts of inspiration from Save Me from the Waves  

A new book from Jessica Hepburn is always a joy & I was honoured to attend the launch of Save Me from the Waves.

If you don’t know Jessica, she’s the author of 2 previous books ‘The Pursuit of Motherhoodwhich described her journey through 11 failed IVF attempts, & 21 Miles; swimming in search of the meaning of Motherhood’ cataloguing swimming the English Channel & answering the question ‘does motherhood make you happy?’

Since then, she has become the first woman in the world to achieve ‘The Sea, Street, Summit Challenge’ – swim the English Channel, run a road marathon (London) and summit Mount Everest (or Chomolungma as she calls it, which is the original Tibetan name) plus she’s listened to every episode of Desert Island Discs. Save Me from the Waves describes these last 3 challenges.

If (or hopefully when) you read Save Me from the Waves you’ll realise that lists are important to Jessica & the magic number in a list according to Desert Island Discs is 8, so what better way to celebrate the book than listing the 8 gifts of inspiration I received from reading it.

1. Answering the question ‘what do I want’ will change your life.

Jessica describes how hearing Jimmy Carr say, ‘What do you want?’ changed her life & it’s a question I’ve asked myself regularly over the years. It’s a big question & tempting to avoid as we distract ourselves by living day to day. It takes commitment to step back & ask & then to follow the answer.

Jimmy’s full quote is ‘What do you want? This strikes me as the most important question in life. What do you want? Finding out how to get it is comparatively easy?’ I don’t completely agree with him that finding out how to get it is comparatively easy, but for me the challenge of exploring different paths has been & continues to be part of the adventure of life & brings me great joy.

2. What will make you happy?

How often do you stop & ask yourself, ‘what makes me happy?’

I’m guessing not often. It’s tempting to carry on day after day & not pause & ask yourself if what you’re doing is making you happy so I encourage you to take time to do that. In these past few years, I’ve been a lot more conscious about this, doing less of the things which don’t bring me joy & more of those which do.

3. Life is lighter when you follow your passions.

Another obvious statement but important because it’s tempting to keep putting things off & say ‘I’ll do that when…’ To repeat Jessica’s full quote; Life is always lighter when you find & follow your passions, & we should try & enjoy it as much as we can because death is always following close behind’. 

I love that she uses passions not purpose because, for me purpose feels heavy & permanent whereas passion feels lighter, more fun & as temporary or permanent as I want it to be. I also love that she uses passions (plural) because this gives me permission to have as many as I want, which I do.

In the past few years my husband has lost friends who were younger than him, a stark reminder to live for today because death is never too far away.

4. Are you LIVING your life?

When I interviewed Jessica for my book Finding Joy she quoted Kazuo Ishiguro; ‘There is another life I might have had, but I am having this one & she repeats this quote in Save me from the Waves.

I firmly believe that, for the majority of us life didn’t turn out as planned and the way to find happiness & joy is to accept the life we have & live it fully. I appreciate that it’s not necessarily easy, but the effort is absolutely worth it. There is no better example of this than Jessica, & I agree with her when she writes, ‘It’s a different life from the one I’d wanted & planned. But it’s not at all bad’

We are now childless and parentless so are in the process of re-shaping our lives & I believe that the answers to these 4 questions will provide us with a basis for doing that. I’m ready to set aside time & commitment to answer fully & am looking forward to seeing what emerges.

I hope you will do the same, set aside time to ask what do I want & what makes me happy, to discover your passions & commit to following them so you too will be fully living your life.

5. Embracing your ‘shit’ enables you to feel the joy.

It’s tempting to sit on the sidelines of life & drift along from day to day believing that nothing can & will change. It takes courage to take control, to delve into the dark places but as Jessica writes her ‘sadness gave her strength’ & her ‘shit is her superpower.’ It is also my experience (& that of many others) that working through my ‘shit’ enabled me to fully experience more joy than I ever thought possible.

6. Sharing your story is a game changer.

Sharing our story is powerful & you never know whose life it will change. When you’re stuck in the mire of whatever you’re going through you feel alone & once you share your story, you realise that you’re not. The process of writing moves you from being the victim of what you’ve been through to owning it & only then can you take control of the ending.

You don’t have to write a book or blog, you could share it on a forum or another site, & it doesn’t have to be in your name but I encourage you to take control of your story by writing it.

Sharing my story has helped many other women & reading Jessica’s will help you. As this quote from Morgan Harper Nichols says, ‘Tell the story of the Mountain you climbed. Your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide’

7. It takes time to become yourself.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending all 3 of Jessica’s book launches & it’s been wonderful to see her grow & flourish. As she has said, at her first book launch (in a Waterstones basement) she wore black, at her second, black & white & at her third there she was sitting on the stage at a prominent London theatre wearing bright red declaring proudly, here I am & here is my story.

At the time I was reminded of this video of This is Me from The Greatest Showman & I was glad that she includes the song on one of her lists. I love how the video demonstrates evolution from hesitancy to confidence & to me it mirrors how Jessica has grown so that she is now truly living big and brave.

I believe this takes time & is a bit like climbing one of those mountains where you think you’ve got to the peak, then there’s another peak …. & another. When I wrote Finding Joy, I thought I’d reached the top, but I’m glad to say I was wrong & my adventures since then have brought more joy (& some ‘shit’).

Maybe, when she published The Pursuit of Motherhood Jessica would have said that she was comfortable in her own skin, but I suspect not. Her pursuit has taken her literally to the top of the world via more challenges than most of us would want in a lifetime. To go through everything she’s been though & come out smiling shows incredible determination and strength.

Save Me from the Waves demonstrates what I firmly believe, that working through our ‘shit’, & harnessing what we’ve been through to summit the mountain we want to climb enables us to become ourselves & to live the life we have.

8. The book itself is a gift.

When I first made this list, it was longer, but 8 is magic number & I don’t want to give too much away because I know you’re going to want to read Save Me from the Waves.

It is a truly inspiring read & will encourage you to think hard about what you want in life & maybe you’ll want to take an adventure or 2 for, as Jessica writes ‘an adventure will always change your life for the better’.

I for one am looking forward to following Jessica as she continues her adventures through life, as she continues to #livebigandbrave

Thank you for reading

You can read more about Jessica & Save Me from the Waves here

My blogs on 21 Miles & Jessica’s Inspirational story (interestingly her 6 word memoir was ‘If you don’t, you never will’ – well she’s certainly done that 🙂 )

I’d love to read your thoughts on my list or what you think of Save Me from the Waves. Can you add to my list of 8 gifts?

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