Each Inspirational Story is special & knowing the storyteller well makes it’s extra special & this is the case with Becs. We first met in a yoga class around 4 years ago &, as we practice with the same teacher, I see her online regularly. Over the last couple of years, I’ve valued our walks & how we’ve become closer.
Becs is one of my wisest friends, I can always count on her to be there if I’m struggling with something & we regularly share experiences of being on the paths to ‘becoming at home in myself’ & ‘remembering who I am.’
I love how Becs presents her story & life as a work in progress & is ‘learning every day about myself’ & I applaud her for her honestly about ‘learning that it’s OK to honour my own needs and preferences,’ (something I suspect is work in progress for many of us).
I don’t know if Becs would describe herself as courageous but changing her career because it didn’t meet her core value of integrity is to me, the epitome of courage. I often write about how it’s important to live in accordance with our values & Becs’ words describe what a difference this made to her & her life.
There’s much to learn from Becs’ inspirational story, so I’ll hand over to her (& please leave a comment if her words resonate with you).
I’ll just add that, if you’re a regular reader, you’ll notice a change in the questions to reflect my new broader focus.
1. Where are you now?
I am sitting at my dining table. Which I realise is very literal, but it makes me reflect on my home; which I love very much. And realise that this is such a major component of my life. I have lived here for over 10 years, it has seen the ups and downs, the joy and grief, the devastating darkness and the fun and silliness. I am 47, married to John, human to cats (though just one now, Cooper) and we don’t have children. I am broadly in a good place. I am at home in my home; I am becoming at home in myself.
2. How did you get here?
Winding and spiralling through life. Through circumstances beyond control and happy choices made. Not strictly in chronological order… Experiencing divorce of my parents when I was young and living with a continuing complex family. Losing my father by suicide when I was 18. Experiencing miscarriages and subsequent infertility and adapting to that. Living for a number of years with severe depression and anxiety. Starting a career looking for external validation, unfolding to the possibility of changing that from banking to a charity. Doing that! Getting married, loving my friends, trying new things, making new friends.
3. What does, ‘living authentically, in tune with your values’ mean to you?
My core value is integrity. Ironically discovered at the bank I worked at that as part of a rebrand, stated it was one of their values… and I thought hmmmn. Really? It didn’t sit right. And the more I thought about it, I thought “wow, this career is completely unaligned with my personal understanding of the value of integrity”. So, after a long time complaining to my friends, who were initially loyal and supportive, became somewhat fed up of the same old story from me and said – shut up or do something about it. And I did; I quit, I took time out, which I was very privileged to have the support in place to do so:
I started living authentically. And it was really hard. After so many years of living with other people’s values – this is the expectation of school, achieving grades, going to uni, working in “the city” and never quite understanding why it didn’t quite fit me.
Informed by my loss through suicide I wanted to work in mental health, so volunteered to understand more. It caused a significant mental health crisis for me personally. And I hid, and came back, and hid, and continued. And I learn every day about myself – and capture what living in integrity truly means to me. The dual definitions of integrity as both “being honest” and “being whole”. And adapt and adjust and get through the self-loathing and become more self-accepting. But being OK with both – the dislike and the like for myself is the very essence of integrity. And being OK with the fact that I’m not always OK with it – well therein lies my continuation of integrating integrity.
4. I believe my path is ‘to discover who I am at the deepest level, to find my natural alignment, feel it & follow that feeling.’ How does this resonate with you? And if it doesn’t, how would you describe yours?
It’s the remembering who I am. Following the echoes and reminders of my natural tendencies without the experience of years of over-riding to please others. For example, I don’t care for big group gatherings – the anxiety I experience… oh my gosh – in the run-up, while it’s happening, afterwards… and yet for years forced myself as it was expected, it was fun, why wouldn’t I… but I was over-riding who I really was. It’s hard to say no to invitations, there’s anxiety in that too of course! However, I am learning that it’s OK to honour my own needs and preferences. Which were always there but squashed down for the sake of others.
And it’s always OK and right to do something for others on occasion, of course it is, but I choose wisely now. I recently spent a number of years building self-trust, following a method to start with small daily promises to myself as I came out of depression, simple things like I will brush my teeth every evening before bed (sadly a habit that I hadn’t kept while ill). Building on these things each day to show myself I was worthy of my own care, I was reliable, I can trust myself.
So as I more recently realised I don’t like doing big group gatherings, I had built up an understanding that my feelings were valid, I really didn’t like them, wow – I heard myself, I felt my truth, I followed that to ask what I did want instead… and am starting to honour that.
5. How would you answer the questions I’m exploring, ie ‘who am I, what do I want, what’s my purpose, what’s important to me, & how do I want to spend my time?
I’d answer it by saying I don’t always know! And that for me, it’s important to feel that it’s OK not to know, to be in the unknown. I am nowhere near always being OK with this state of course. It confuses me, it’s hard not knowing. I thought I did know, and for all the years of following others’ hopes and expectations, to unpick that first part and start changing needs a lot of self-reflection. As I say, remembering how I like to do things, until it was socially conditioned out of me.
So I ask myself questions often, carefully – what do I need right now, what am I thinking right now, is it helpful, do I want to change it. I still resist my kindness often and have good old arguments with myself in my head. But I do feel aligned with my purpose in my career now and I do know what and who are important to me, and I mostly know how I like to spend my time.
6. My own experience plus previous story tellers have found that focusing one or more of these areas to be helpful both in overcoming grief & self-discovery.
Some sort of body work &/or spiritual practice, such as yoga, dancing, walking, Pilates, meditation. Creativity. Curiosity. Those tricky concepts beginning with ‘self,’ such as acceptance, love & kindness. A writing/journaling practice. If one or more of these (or anything else) supports you in any way, please explain how;
I practice yoga and I mostly love that; sometimes I get grumpy that I can’t because of body parts playing up and sometimes I get grumpy because I’ve planned to do a class and find myself not really fancying it… definitely something there to explore further.
I struggled intensely with the definition of creativity until I realized that it doesn’t have to be making art, or crafting – but when I realized that my home was an example of my creativity, the items I select, the layout, the colours – it somewhat blew my mind, and I went on to realise that my creativity is in other areas like meal planning and creating (I mean, I’ve been calling it “meal creating” for years rather than “cooking” … the clue was always there!).
I walk, and while walking I notice. I photograph on my phone simple things that catch my attention and I collate them into an online album – that is a kind of creativity. When I glimpsed that, it really helped, as I had for a long time tagged myself as uncreative.
The other thing I do, which has a bad rap, is think. I like thinking. I appreciate that there is a difference between being caught up in thoughts – having experienced depression and anxiety I’m all too aware of when thinking becomes damaging. But – thinking is my preferred way of helping me deal with grief and learning more about myself, rather than writing, journaling – or even talking… though that can help sometimes after I’ve had a good old think!
7. What brings you joy/what makes you happy? (& it may be one or more of your answers above)
Spending time with friends one on one, being with John my husband, reading all sorts of different books and novels, hanging out with my cats, being engulfed in live music, word play, being outside and flipping from thinking to being in the present moment and then back into a think, yin yoga, doing one thing at a time (I can’t read and listen to music for example, but love both), walking, being on the edge of the land and the sea, occasionally being in the sea, going on holiday to new places, coming back home.
Do you think your story could inspire others?
I started publishing stories because I wanted readers to discover first-hand what others did to heal. And of course, it does this. And it helps the story tellers so much more.
- You get to own it; you say in your own words, yes it was really hard, then this is what I did & I’m Ok now.
- Stories demonstrate that there are many paths. I believe that, although the challenges we face are universal, our path is ours we can find inspiration from others. I’d like to show readers that, whatever situation they find themselves in, there is a way to discover who they are.
- Your story will inspire & support others. Whatever our challenge, we believe that we’re alone & reading stories of other women in a similar position reassures us that this is not the case.
So if you think your Inspirational Story could help other women this is how it works.
I’ll send you a list of questions, and you choose and answer a minimum of 6. I’ll post your story in your real name or any other that you chose to give me. If you have a website or blog I’d be happy to link to it so I’ll need the details and a short bio.
If you think you could inspire others please contact me or leave a comment below.
Over to you
Has reading Becs’ Inspirational Story helped you? If so please add your comment below.
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