Interview and writing: Jonathan Moore and Catherine Moore
Images: marklordphotography.co.uk and Carol Lake
Let’s face it, life can be hard! At Moore and Moore Living, Catherine and I are always looking for a greater understanding of how people are creatively building and sustaining a connected life with the things that matter most to them. When we met Carol, we were struck by her intimate relationship with nature that has evolved with her creativity on a beautiful and spiritual journey. We love to think that her gentle humility and openness has been a nurturing vehicle for her incredible creative talents to unfold and evolve with such integrity and love over the years. Carol gave us plenty of food for thought and we hope you will get as much from the following interview and Carol’s work as we have!
Seasons and the botanical inspire the beautiful paintings of Artist & Designer Carol Lake. Carol’s work has been used on textile products internationally for brands including Ted Baker, Nina Campbell, Debenhams, Designers Guild, Next, Sanderson, Laura Ashley, and Lulu Guinness (the list goes on). You may have even seen her interior design of Norwich’s Haggle Restaurant or spotted her textiles in the series Friends and Sex and the City!
Carol now lives in North Norfolk and sells her work from her inspiring shop space Studio at 91, which is located on Upper St Giles Street in Norwich. As you enter the shop, you are struck by smell of Cire Trudon candles and the sight of wood and mirrored walls, which have been inherited from the premises’ former life as a chocolate shop and are now filled with botanical luxuries. Moving through into the back of the shop, you pass beautiful and tactile textile products. You then enter what is, personally, my favorite part, which you might never know was there from outside, a light filled artists studio/kitchen/shop which looks out on a courtyard - which I can only really describe as splendid! Throughout this space, you get a sense that every element has been curated with love to make a sacred little ecosystem which nourishes and inspires.
MML: What’s the craic and what are you grateful for today?
Carol Lake: I am blessed and all my dreams have come true.
MML: The botanical and the qualities of paint seem to be recurring sources of inspiration and conversation in your work and life, and for many people before you. What is it that has kept this fascination alive for you?
CL: I was born loving nature and can’t imagine there being any other way of being.
MML: What is it that you hope your work brings to the world?
CL: To help others feel special.
MML: How would you describe yourself in three words?
C: Perfectionist; passionate; serene.
MML: What is one of the best pieces of advice you have been given?
C: Whatever you want for yourself, you should want for other people; there’s enough to go round.
MML: Loving oneself is a ongoing process as we journey though life. What has helped you deal with your internal critic when approaching a new creative project?
C: Having a shop has given me great confidence and allows me to hear people loving my work. My internal critic often raises its head though but, maybe, with age and experience, it has mellowed ..( hence the perfectionism ).. I used to think everyone else could visualise what I could visualise.. but it slowly dawned on me that maybe they couldn’t and I had a particular talent for colour, light and space .
MML: What do nature and the seasons mean to you?
CL: Everything ...just everything.
MML: Has the transition from London to Norfolk life influenced the creative direction of your work and business?
CL: Yes ..affordability ...then visibility. Better to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. I wouldn’t have got to design the Turkish restaurant “Haggle”, if in London.
MML: What sources of inspiration do you return to regularly?
CL: Flowers ...flowers ..and flowers .
MML: What internal or external elements do you see as particularly important for creating and enjoying your personal and professional life?
CL: Quiet ..peace ..and physical environment. I have to create beauty all around me (hence serene).
Winter interview feature
Images @dennistirch and Timothy Gordon
Dr. Dennis Tirch is a leading New York based compassion psychologist, wonderful author and President Elect of the ACBS. And, if that wasn’t enough, he’s also a great guitar player! So yes, he is a pretty cool and accomplished guy but it goes much deeper than that. We love the refreshing way he ‘says it how it is’ and asks really important questions of all of us. Even if you don’t have the answer to his questions, it doesn’t really matter because they can help you to start communicating with different inner qualities within yourself that you didn’t even know existed and guide you as you cultivate them. Amazing right?
As part of my clinical practice, I have been blessed to have attended training over the years with Dennis and his lovely wife Laura and surrounded by a wonderfully inspiring and nurturing clinical community called the Association of Behavioural and Contextual Sciences (ACBS). Dennis brings to the table of life a fierce compassion of authenticity and love and dedicates his career to sharing his gifts with the world. We are so thankful for such kind of leaders in our lives. So let’s jump in!
What's the craic and what are you grateful for today?
It’s great to connect with you, and I so appreciate the opportunity to think about these really important concepts together.
Today, I’m grateful for the rare opportunity to practice and study how to awaken our mind, and how to work with suffering from a place of loving awareness. It’s hard to imagine how rare it is to be born under the conditions that allow us to study and practice mindfulness, compassion and wisdom disciplines. It’s a gift.
For those who don't know you, can you give me a bit of background of the key professional moments that have shaped where you are at today?
Working with Bob Leahy at the wonderful American Institute for Cognitive Therapy was a huge gift. The name of the place might sound like an orthodox Cognitive Therapy situation, but it really was like a think tank, where brilliant therapists and researchers all played with new and emerging technologies together. In particular, this gave me a context to apply the dharma to psychotherapy in new ways, and to build on what I had learned. From there, working with Kelly Wilson, Steve Hayes, Paul Gilbert, and Roshi Paul Genki Kahn have all shaped my ways of working in the last years, integrating years of study and practice of Zen, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy. Beyond these, working with the English Guitarist, Robert Fripp, applying the teachings of John Bennett and George Gurdjieff have radically altered my approach to the mind and to life.
Loving one's self is a ongoing process as we journey though life. What has helped you deal with your own internal critic and to learn how to bring a loving, compassionate approach to your individual quirks and differences?
My own shaming and blaming inner voice has been very strong throughout my life. Living with PTSD and ADHD set me up for a lot of shame, just as so many of us experience. I have found that creating the conditions in my life that allow for mindful compassion practice to become a habit, to become absolutely central in my life, has been key. I’ve had to move from a life that was focused on everyday success/failure and challenges, and re-focus on a life that is organized around the awakening of all beings. This means that my practice of compassion needs to be front and center, and a part of the conscious aim of my every day. That allows me to practice deeply, and to relate to everyone I meet with as much of an open, loving heart as I can have in that moment, which is every moment.
Tell us a bit about the role of meditation in your life?
Meditation, as a practice of coming into the reality of being and training the mind in mindfulness, concentration, and compassion, is the central act in my daily life.
I see mediation as an act of love, re-dedicating ourselves to awakening, and to living from love, service and devotion. In time, the meditation cushion is more than a physical space, and is really an approach to every moment, so that our meditation extends into everything we do, especially the way that we relate to one another.
What drives you to be the best version of yourself?
When I pause and reflect that my life is no more valuable and no less valuable than any human life, I am immediately inspired again to work for the alleviation and prevention of human suffering in all ways that I can. When I recognize how interconnected all life is, and that compassion is a natural, arising motivation that follows from remembering our nature as one wave in a vast ocean of inter-being, it is a lot easier to hold my own stuff lightly, and be less hooked by my suffering, fear or anger.
We believe in the value of living a connected and balanced lifestyle and think it is really important, rather than getting caught up in the 'hamster wheel' of society's values to do more and be more. What's your thoughts on that?
I admire and support your vision and values. In order to help ourselves stay off the treadmill of cyclic suffering that you describe, we need to wake up. In order to wake up, we need to be able to move beyond our habitual, fear based and craving based patterns. Training the mind in mindful compassion can help us wake up to who we are.
My husband, Jonathan, would like to know, do you think compassion has a part to play in turning around the current politics of fear?
Compassion, and the empowerment of our moral courage, has everything to do with overturning the domination of fear, in our politics and in ourselves.
Congratulations on the appointment of President-Elect, Association for Contextual Behavioural Sciences. How would you like to be remembered for your time in this role?
I would like to observe two principles. First, leave the place better than you found it. That means that my time in leadership should involve maintaining and cultivating the basic practices and values of our community in responsible ways. Second, I wish to advocate for an “outward facing” ACBS, that builds relationships with other organizations and communities, to bring our concepts and technologies out into the world with more confidence and energy.
We are big fans of your compassion focused quotes. Would you ever consider having a podcast?
I would love to have a podcast, and we are taking steps with some partners to make that happen.
In the mean time, I would love to share a one episode podcast with you that features a very intimate and meaningful discussion that I had with ACT co-founder Steve Hayes some time ago. It is a little long, with a lot of real connection, and I hope that you enjoy it.
Here is the link:
What was the last record you listened to?
Deja Vu, by Crobsy, Stills, Nash and Young - last night.
Cheers for reading and if you would like to share your experience with us then we would love to hear your feedback via the comments below. To read more on Dennis and access his wonderful resource list from his website here http://www.mindfulcompassion.com/
Things tend to get a bit hectic around this time of year with lots of parties and seasonal cheer. It can be especially tricky if, for whatever reason, you’re not a fan of the festive season. Here’s how I’ll be using self-compassion to get through the next few weeks, I hope they might help you too.
· Be honest with yourself that you’re not a fan. Its ok. You don’t have to keep up the charade. Treat all your feelings the same. Allow them to come and go without the judgement.
· Letting other people know where you’re coming from can be helpful too, you don’t have to go into detail but a quick ‘heads up’ will give them the opportunity to be more accepting of your position and ease the pressure if you need to step out for five minutes.
· It’s a two-way thing though; if they want to be the life and soul of the party, let them get on with it!
· Face into the festive season with courage and the wisdom that you’ve got through it before and you’ll get through it again. Pull on that wisdom to think about what works well to get you through.
· You might need to dip into courage to share how you’re feeling with others for the previous point too…
· Have the courage to say no or step out if it all gets too much.
Space for self-care:
· Proactively block out down time and think about how this best fits into your schedule; do you need some time before an event or is recovery time more helpful for you?
· It doesn’t have to be big chunks of time. It could just be stepping out of a party for 5 minutes or doing a quick breathing or mindfulness exercise before you go in.
· Do regular body scans, noticing breathing into any areas of tension you find and practice letting it go with permission. Listen to your favourite guided meditations, take a walk, sit by the fire, give yourself a compassionate hug, ask for a hug, talk to yourself like you would do a close friend, take time to write yourself a compassionate letter and contact the things that you are grateful for in the moment.
You might like this short one https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/self-compassion.break_.mp3 or click here for Catherine’s guided meditations.
I often find that taking time to pause and reflect at the end of each season really helpful with the transition into the next. It helps to maintain clarity, wider context overview, gratitude and committed action to those all important yearly goals set out at the beginning of the year.
I have adapted the recommended format by James Clear (www.jamesclear.com). I would like to mention Jonathan Foust who inspired me to write using this format after reading his. Jonthan Foust and his wife Tara Brach are a huge inspiration to me in their aproach to life and work.
The review explores 3 questions and you can make it as detailed or simple as you like. I would recommend spending no more than 30mins on the whole thing but that’s just me. Find what way works best for you and how to like to reflect. So let’s jump in!
What went well this summer?
Slowing Down and Living in the Countryside
Intentionally creating space to slow down and immersing myself in the garden, the woods and the expansive life that surrounds us living in a national trust park. Our house is everything we could have hoped for to experience as our first home together as a family (Jonathan, Basil and I). It’s deeply touching to have your own front and back door, stairs, the flexibility of having the back door open all day after many years of city life where space is limited. I am deeply grateful for this space that we get to cultivate and take care of. It’s been a challenge to slow down. The woods and forest are so healing for me to spend time in as I comfort my grief process and take care of myself generally.
Health and Wellbeing
This has been my main focus this summer. Anyone who has grieved before will know how deeply physical it is. I am jogging up to x3 per week and still working towards joining the park run crew here at Blickling on Saturdays. At present we watch from the breakfast table and take our coffee back to bed. Both are competing values and so I keep working at it and to get healthy generally. I commit to regular massages. My body is a temple and all that jazz.
More Health Tweaks
Improved nutrition - eating more plant based foods.
Alcohol - reducing alcohol to special social occasions. Not sure even then that the hangovers are worth it.
Sleep - bed early and usually asleep by 10am. I prefer this so I can get up early. The early hours are a sacred space for me to either exercise or greet the day with sitting meditation.
Reduced caffeine - I have been drinking decaf drinks since end of May. No energy spikes and I feel calmer.
Simplifying - Creating diary space to breath more, grow and enjoy our own fruit and vegetables, marvel in the sunshine, not over stretching with commitments, letting go expectations to do lots of creative work based writing and connecting authentically and wholeheartedly. I also turned down facilitating training in London in Sept because I would over stretched myself. This was a tough but important decision.
Wishing Others Well - Daily practice of offering silent wishes of good will and care and gratitude towards others. Being kind costs nothing but goes a long way. I have really made the effort to hold the gate open for riders as they pass the house (and have a lovely sniff of the horses :)) or a door in the car park for others. I have reached out and congratulated others on their work and developments. Doing this with an open heart and letting go of any unnecessary comparisons. We are all on our own path.
Connect With The Homeless - I make time time each month to stop and have a chat with homeless people on the street, stroke their pets (I met a wonderful ferret) and give £10 in food or money.
Savouring - My relationship with light, the orchestral sounds of dawn/dusk with the windows/doors open, cleaning our windows in prep for Autumn so to capture it in it’s fullest, daily check-in time with Jonathan/family and good cup of tea.
Travel - Had a staycation and enjoyed exploring the North Norfolk coast.
Serving - Nurturing the business as it evolves at a pace that feels healthy. Offering our practice space freely every fortnight to the Norwich OCD Peer Support (NOPS) Group (https://www.ocdaction.org.uk/support-group/norwich-ocd-peer-support-nops-group)
Other Creative Exploration
As Oprah says, “ We only get in life what we have the courage to ask for”. I love this because for me, it can be just about getting started with things especially when it comes to writing, photography, putting the business out there, taking risks to reach out or send that important email and also knowing when to say no and knowing it is not the right time. Here’s some of things I’ve done this summer.
Writing - Started to write more openly and freely from my own voice for the business rather that feeling the need to hold back in case I sound a bit other there. I am embracing all of it in the service of myself and the business to grow authentically. Feedback has been really helpful.
Pacing - totally taking the pressure peddle off the need to be anywhere other that where we are and at the same time to work towards a flexible timeline.
Absorbing - Staying open to exploring new reading and podcasts.
Photography - Finding our voice gradually as a business with image exploration. Also just playing with the camera.
Connecting - Reaching out and connecting with others that I really admire in their field which has been really inspiring and helpful. People are really so helpful. Making new friends.
Contributions & Training - I had the honour of working along side world class therapists as conference committee member as part of the Association for Contextual Behavioural Science (ACBS) World Conference held in Canada. I did the work remotely and contributed to the review of workshop submissions. To see my name amongst some people I hugely admire in the field is just amazing. Next year it is in Dublin (yes!) I went to the British Association of Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) annual summer Conference in Glasgow and attended some really great workshops and symposia. I also signed Jonathan up to IDEO training which felt very exciting to encourage him to nurture his gifts.
What’s Didn’t Go So Well?
Holidays - I had sporadic days off here and there. I want to try and work at having block time off going forward.
Marketing - I am still trying to talk less like a clinician when it comes to the lifestyle stream of the business. Sometimes I can talk using jargon which reduces my opportunity to connect with our wider growing community. I am really working on this as I get really helpful feedback along the way.
Driving - Had planned to take my driving test this summer. I never made time for it. I will keep driving with Jonathan in the meantime. It doesn’t feel so important right now.
Writing - That book I keep talking about and developing MML products, talks and events. I decided to hold back, take my time, let others help, enjoy and involve others in the process.
What Am I Working Towards?
Embracing the life that is here fully with an open mind and heart no matter what
Daily immersion in nature
Daily immersion in the creative process
Daily quality time with Jonathan and Basil
Cultivating intimacy and authenticity in my relationships
Continue to work towards balanced living
Continue to solidify the business model
Writing that book
Creating talks and events
Collaborating with others with similar values and interests
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
The Bottom Line
I am truly blessed. I will continue to greet each day with fresh eyes and an open heart and bring loving kindness, care, creativity and integrity to all I do. I hope if you are reading this far then this might be useful and helpful for you in your life. I would love to hear how you found reading this and what was most helpful about it. What would also be great is to hear how you got on with your own review if this has inspired you!
It was such a pleasure to do our first feature interview with the awesome guys at Back to Front. You can click and read what we talked about here http://backtofront.london/backchat/
Have you noticed all this recent language about "living my best life". Ella Mills has been posting on instagram about it. Hardy Caprio and One Acen have been singing about it on my spotify running playlist. Can we assume that living your best life is new language related to a powerful purposeful life that embraces change and our fallibility as human beings? I would like to think so.
We know that living to our values and what is important to us helps us to feel healthier and happier and live longer. It helps us to sleep better, have a greater sense of belonging and connection, It also helps our ability to exercise our imagination and improve our problem solving skills which are critical for survival in this light speed paced world we live in. So, considering everything I have said so far, let's explore the window of imagination for ourselves.
As we grow through life and gain more contact in awareness of our values we will revisit these question often so don't feel like you need to have it all figured out by the end of reading this. Try not to judge any of it as this is an exercise of imagination, self-care and purpose :) There are various ways I use values exploration with all my clients using worksheets and mission statements. However, we always start here with a chat about it together.
What kind of life do you want to live?
Observe what words, images or phrases that automatically come to mind. Allow yourself the space to notice any themes, or descriptions that have a gently touch on your heart strings as you practice being curious. It may be that you start to evaluate what's in your life currently and then compare it with the things or experiences you would like to have. You may have a 5 year plan or avoid it like the plague. Either way, it is a nice way to exercise your ability to think about yourself in a meaningful way.
What is important to us at different times in our lives can change. It depends on the space and phase of life you are in. For example, I used to love going to gigs often when I was in my late twenties/early thirties. It's not that it's not important to me now, it's just that it is less important at this current period in time. I used to socialise several nights a week when I lived in London and now I find myself longing for more time in nature, having less nights out and even the odd broody moment.
You Can Live The LIFE You Want
The other really important part to this exercise is hearing and remembering you can live the life you want. It doesn't mean that it appears overnight but it does require various skills to help you get closer to it, maintain it and work at it. For example, this may not always involve making huge changes. It could that you want to learn appreciate the life you have and would like to have a deeper sense of contentment. In this case it would be looking at the areas where the blocks to contentment arise and targeting that directly and using mindful appreciation skills to be more present from a mind and heart space from moment to moment.
Break them down, start small, pace yourself, stay committed, be patient with the uncertainty and embrace the over all process journey itself.
Change can be overwhelming (pace yourself) and it can also be a source of so much growth and learning. Let others in on your plans, read about how other's done it, ask for advice and reach out where it could be helpful.
WE ALL HAVE THINGS WE WOULD LIKE TO ACHIEVE IN OUR LIFETIME. HOWEVER, THE VALUE IN THE PROCESS IS ABOUT PRACTISING APPRECIATION AND BEING OK WITH WHERE WE ARE AT IN ANY GIVEN MOMENT.
"Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, moment on moment, without judgement."
Jon Kabat- Zinn
To me, mindfulness is a dedicated meeting space to fully see and connect whole heartedly with your core sense of being. A rhythmic opportunity for silence, stillness and solitude that has a ripple effect and quality which permeates your daily life, creating a space where life can truly unfold. It's like having a soul friend who doesn't judge you. An inner sanctuary amidst the frantic 'doing mode' of modern living. If formal mediation, breathing practice, or zafu sitting is not for you, then fear not, as I have some suggestions coming right up. But first...
A Little Science Bit
Neurons that fire together, wire together. This is really important for anyone interested or practising mindfulness because growing scientific evidence shows many benefits from using mindfulness practices to directly work on the middle of the pre-frontal cortex (largely thinking part of the brain which is most developed as humans). The most typical psychological term for functions carried out by the prefrontal cortex area is executive function. Executive function basically relates to abilities to differentiate among conflicting thoughts, determine good and bad, better and best, same and different, future consequences of current activities, working toward a defined goal, prediction of outcomes, expectation based on actions, and social 'control' (the ability to suppress urges that, if not suppressed, could lead to socially unacceptable outcomes). Research outcomes show that mindfulness improves our wider perspective functioning, self-awareness and insight, empathy and emotional regulation and even morality.
In theory, this all sounds amazing but finding the time and practice that suits you can be challenging. Formal breathing mediation is not everyone's cup of tea. Others may find that they are quite energetic and would prefer to be moving around more. For others, they may be fearful of unwanted thoughts, feelings or sensations that might arise when they sit with themselves and so it can at times be overwhelming to even consider.
Here are some suggestions for anyone who is interested (or who has tried and struggled but is still interested) in finding what works for them. Let's get that executive functioning warmed up and see what works for you!
1) Keep An Open Mind - This is all about flexibility and being willing to explore other forms of practice.
2) Make Time - Finding what form of practice works for you will only happen if you actually protect and value the time in doing so. No excuses here. That said, it is also your choice if you decide not to, so there is no judgement attached. Don't beat yourself up about it :) We are all different.
3) Reflection - Reflect back on previous activities or tasks you engaged in that brought a sense of calm, attention in the moment, focus and presence. Also reflect on the things that didn't work for you and note down why that was. Was it a physical, emotional or psychological discomfort?
4) Try New Things - Finding your thing is so important. Give yourself permission to actively try new things for example, if it a moving form of practice for example yoga, or playing music, gardening, cooking or walking etc. Connection to yourself fully in the present moment for that time is really key.
5) Be Curiously Bored - Being bored is not a bad thing. It is a sign that you are being with yourself. It may be that you are finding it hard to slow down because of stimulation. Allowing yourself restful periods can be helpful. Don't rush into doing something right away. Refine how you wish to use that time with yourself that is calming, soothing and connecting.
If you would like to explore mindfulness reading and practice guidance further in more depth, including compassion and creativity, then check out our Connected Lifestyle Design eBook which you can download for free by signing up to the website newsletter. Feel free to send over any questions and comments on our Instagram grid. I look forward to chatting :)
Founder, CBT Therapist, Moore & Moore Living
Images - Denai Moore
Denai Moore is one of the most exciting artists that sits within a flourishing British Music Community. Scrolling through the prestigious artists list of independent record label Because Music, you can totally see why she is there. It has been such a joy to watch her growth since her 'Gone' days back 2013. I first came across her when living in Hackney and I knew that she was one of those artists that will be in my playlist for years to come. Denai's compelling sounds have been played on Radio 1, 2, and 6Music. She also has a stunning debut EP, has appeared on Jools Holland, has collaboration with SBTRKT, and the list just goes on. Her recent album 'We Are In Bloom' is a refreshing relationship with the vulnerability of growing up, self-image and exploring who she is on a deeper level.
We sat together in the sunshine in East London with our green genie juices. We talked openly and authentically, as fellow travellers on this earth, about the importance of establishing and maintaining assertive boundaries in the service self-compassion, mental wellbeing, creativity and meaningful living. At 24yrs old, Denai's self-awareness and willingness to talk about the difficult things in life through her music demonstrates deep courage. She has her feet firmly on the ground and her heart gently open. It is so evident in her commitment to supporting her friends, learning together and sharing as part of larger music and vegan communities. Here's what she had to say on the day!
Catherine Moore How is life and what are you feeling grateful for today?
Denai Moore Excited to explore different parts of myself. The biggest thing for me in music, or with anything, [is] the ability to push myself in that field and explore new sounds or anything. Umm, I guess I am feeling grateful about the community of support I have, people I work with and the love I have around me and the people that kind of see me. It's great, I think the internet is an amazing way to connect with people that wouldn't have been able to connect with in any other way.
CM For those who don't know you can you give me a bit of background of the key musical moments that have shaped where you are at today?
DM I'd say the massive pivotal thing for me was seeing Lauren Hill unplugged. It was the first time that I saw someone perform in the most human way possible. She cried on stage and forgot new lyrics and played a random new song that she wanted to play. I quite like it because performances before I had seen it were, not perfect, but so rehearsed and I love that side of performance too but seeing her like that made me realise I can be whoever I wanted to be in this format.
CM You are very much shaping your own path in terms of being a genre free artist, you produce, you have a huge input to your visual and how you gig etc. What do you value about having your voice and taking risks?
DM The thing about being creating is self validation, and there is something really amazing to really look at yourself, and making music is the only place where I have really faced myself. I confront what I want to talk about and it is very insular so it's very therapeutic. Being genre free for me was about stepping out of the gaze of other people and really understanding the importance of making the music that I want to make, as opposed to attaching myself to different genres or feeling the pressure to create something that other people may want me to make or hear me as. This is something that I have always done. It's just my way of kind like to dismiss the boxes I tend to be put in.
CM What drives you to be the best version of yourself?
DM A moment of me being excited and exploring something new. I think it's something that always keeps me inspired. It's always the pursuit of the ideas in your head, it's very child like. It's something you think of and go for it without the means of ambition, maybe, it's the feeling and expression that makes you feel good. So, I think that's what drives me to make music for sure.
CM Connected Lifestyle Design is all about being mindfully present so we can live with greater compassion and life purpose on a deeper level. Embracing the universality of human suffering helps us to bring a compassionate resilience and courage to how we creatively take risks and embrace uncertainty of our individual values. We believe everyone has the right to learn how to cultivate and maintain their own connected lifestyle, rather than getting caught up in the 'hamster wheel' of society's values to do more and be more. What's your thoughts on that?
DM I think it is important that people continually self-assess - if that makes sense. I don't know, I think a lot of people are disconnected from the idea because people don't like confrontation but then what is confrontation when it is coming from yourself? Can you easily pick out the parts of you that you don't like? Lots of that comes up when making music and you have an ongoing conversation with yourself about it, how it feels and about what's going on in your life for example, mental health, or a mental block. People are really afraid to confront that in themselves and don't talk about it with friends or family and become so insular that they are too afraid to talk about it.
CM Loving one's self is a ongoing process as we journey though life. What has helped you deal with your own internal critic and to learn how to bring a loving compassionate approach to your individual quirks and differences?
RM I think it is important to experience the entire human spectrum. There's a strong obsession with happiness that is unrealistic and just no human. It's about understanding that there are many things we are meant to experience and we shouldn't demonise certain parts of ourselves to conform with what is socially acceptable, I guess. I definitely don't have any guilt in cancelling things if I don't feel mentally here for sessions. I think that is so important to remember to protect the head space more that anything.
So without further a do, here is the lady herself in action in Berlin as part of the COLORS SHOW. I hope you have enjoyed reading this and if you can spare a few seconds to give some comments as feedback that will bring joy to my heart. It also means that we can tailor any suggestions for our future blog features. Thank you in advance and feel free to have a wander around the website and explore other resources at your leisure. Catherine
"No one ever told me it was going to be like this". "I felt completely helpless and out of control". "I felt like no one was taking my views or feelings into account". "Maybe this is what everyone experiences and I am a bad Mum for not coping like everyone else".
In an age when women are being empowered to be strong and authentic, I wish from the bottom of my heart that individually and as a society we could refrain from using the term "yummy mummy". It creates a status of "motherhood perfection" which is an unhealthy and toxic ideal which breeds amongst social media and baby and toddler groups. I wish women could truly and genuinely support each other more.
25-34% of all women find some aspect of their birth experience traumatic and it can lead to prolonged distress for everyone involved (Mum, Dad (including same sex couples) and baby). Key themes that are often part of birth trauma are feeling out of control, unheard, helpless or fearing they might die or their baby might die during labour. It can lead women to fear having another pregnancy or avoid/delay getting pregnant again.
When we talk of birth trauma, we mean Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that occurs after childbirth. We also include those women who may not meet the clinical criteria for PTSD but who have some of the symptoms of the disorder. Quite often this can be in the background of Postnatal Depression and/or Anxiety and identified at assessment.
Characteristic features of PTSD include:
An experience involving the threat of death or serious injury to an individual or another person close to them (e.g. their baby).
A response of intense fear, helplessness or horror to that experience.
The persistent re-experiencing of the event by way of recurrent intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares. The individual will usually feel distressed, anxious or panicky when exposed to things which remind them of the event.
Avoidance of anything that reminds them of the trauma. This can include talking about it, although sometimes women may go through a stage of talking of their traumatic experience a lot so that it obsesses them at times.
Bad memories and the need to avoid any reminders of the trauma, will often result in difficulties with sleeping and concentrating. Sufferers may also feel angry, irritable and be hyper vigilant (feel jumpy or on their guard all the time).
It is important to remember that PTSD is a normal response to a traumatic experience. The re-experiencing of the event with flashbacks accompanied by genuine anxiety and fear are beyond the sufferer's control. They are the mind's way of trying to make sense of an extremely scary experience and are not a sign individual 'weakness' or inability to cope.
There are risk factors for Post Natal PTSD which include a mix of objective (e.g. the type of delivery) and subjective (e.g. feelings of loss of control) factors. They include:
Lengthy labour or short and very painful labour
Poor pain relief
Feelings of loss of control
High levels of medical intervention
Traumatic or emergency deliveries, e.g. emergency caesarean section
Impersonal treatment or problems with the staff attitudes
Not being listened to
Lack of information or explanation
Lack of privacy and dignity
Fear for baby's safety
Birth of a damaged baby (a disability resulting from birth trauma)
Baby’s stay in SCBU/NICU
Poor postnatal care
Previous trauma (for example, in childhood, with a previous birth or domestic violence)
In addition, many women who do not have PTSD suffer from some of the symptoms of PTSD after undergoing difficult birth experiences and this can cause them genuine and long-lasting distress. If you or someone you know is suffering from any of these symptoms do tell them help is available.
Treatment: I offer both Trauma Focused CBT and EMDR which are the NICE Guidelines recommended treatments and are really effective. Compassion is an integral part of treatment and helping clients to develop a compassionate mind and heart towards themselves and the circumstances they find themselves experiencing.
A typical course of treatment ranges between 6-12 sessions. The initial phase is all about learning how to understand what is happening and bring a compassionate awareness to it. The middle is about processing and updating unhelpful thought or belief patterns linked to the experience. And the third is about enhancing inner qualities of compassion as part of resilience for the future and parental life. Relapse prevention may include revisiting the place of birth, speaking to staff involved or attending a hospital lead reflection group.
As part of my perinatal work, I will often involve partners. Father's access treatment too where the adjustment to change in role and increase in responsibility activates significant distress. Therapy considers the wider context and is here to help!
"Just wanted to say thank you for all your help so far, I know it’s your job, but really couldn’t have chosen a better therapist to reprogram my mind and help me become a more tolerant, relaxed person. For the first time at aged 29 I feel like I’m really starting to enjoy my life!
Your emphasis on kindness, compassion, mindfulness and self care has been particularly key for me in this, as combined with the CBT approach has been a perfect combination and I don’t think either would’ve worked without the other. In a way (at the moment) I’m feeling quite grateful for the way the birth panned out and that it’s allowed us to have this time to bond when he’s more aware of his surroundings rather than when he was born and didn’t really know what was going on!" - Juliet
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