What Katy Louise Did...

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Katy Louise writes about health, wealth, happiness and relationships, and the spiritual insights she gains along her path. She is currently editor of Top Sante magazine (www.topsante.co.uk). Prior to that she was editor of Bodyfit magazine (now Your Fitness www.yourfitnesstoday.com) and the launch editor of Soul&Spirit magazine (www.soulandspiritmagazine.com). Katy is also a certified Fitsteps and STOTT Pilates instructor. She is the go-to girl for all matters relating to health, wellbeing and spirituality.

Thursday 2 October 2014

STOP being your own worst critic!

Are you your own worst critic? Always berating yourself for something? Join the club. I was just watching an episode of SATC where Carrie has her book published and is fearful of bad reviews. She says, in her 'wondering out loud' way as she writes her column: "Why are we so quick to believe our own worst reviews?"
I know how she feels. I'm a number one, A* student at being negative: not to other people but to myself. I sometimes wonder how I got where I did in life with all the negative self-chatter that goes on in my mind. Of course, it's not 100% of the time as I've been able to manifest a great number of amazing things, including my first job as a magazine editor. I remember how I visualised emailing off my application forms, and how I used to wish I could edit a spiritual magazine. And I was obviously confident and self-assured enough to bag the job at the interview. In some areas of life I can excel but in others... well... it's a disaster.
And even professionally I often doubt my abilities and skills. There are people doing things that I know I can do, either as good or better, but something holds me back from even trying. If it involves other people, and having to convince them, often I shy away as my inner critic says things like, who are you to do that? No one knows who you are; you have nothing different to say or add; your skills are not that great; it will take too long so why bother; other people are already doing it better and are further ahead than you so why start? You should have begin that project three years ago, it could have been a success by now but you left it too late; it will be too much effort; it might be a waste of time; you're not good enough' (and that last one is probably at the bottom of most people's fears).
Sometimes this voice gets so loud that I end up curled up on the sofa watching the aforementioned re-runs of SATC (or other daytime TV guilty pleasure like Say Yes to the Dress), avoiding the uncomfortable feelings I have to face when trying to break out of my comfort zone and do or create something of meaning. Procrastination is my best/worst friend.

Being kind to ourselves
So, now it's time to be kind to myself. I've realised that beating up on myself and skills just drags me down. Saying what is wrong and what I can't do does not take me any closer to where I want to be and what I want to do in life. As Wayne Dyer says in may of his talks and books, if you have the choice to think a thought that is going to get you closer to where you want to be, or a thought that will pull you further away, why would you choose the latter? The former may not physically, right in this second get you to your desired goal, but it's a heck of a lot more likely to bring your vibration up to a level that's more in alignment with what you do what to achieve than the negative thought.
And manifestation, as all the Abraham Hicks videos I watch says, starts in the mind. How we feel is an indicator of how we are doing. How we feel about ourselves and our lives, and what we focus on, is what we will attract more of. Being mean to myself and reminding myself of all my 'failings' and what I didn't do right last week or last month or last year, like a nasty teacher getting me to write out lines, is only going to keep me stuck in that pitiful, self-defrating vibration. If I am to change my life in any significant way it has to come from within, beginning with positive self talk.

An attitude of gratitude 
I have kept a gratitude journal for a while but I often forget to use us, thinking it's something trivial I don't have to do, which I can forget every now and then (which ends up being most of the time). But actually, being grateful is probably one of THE most important things I could do!
My work with Katie Philips on her MightyMind programme has forced me to look at what I say and how I talk to myself. I often trivialise these things and think 'yeah right, what can writing a whole bunch of affirmations and journalising about my dream life really do to change things?' but in fact, nothing will change without those starting actions!
How I speak to and about myself has a massive impact on how I feel, so if I just keep focusing on the negative things it makes me more likely to procrastinate than if I focus on the good things I've achieved and that I have now.

Even if life doesn't' look quite how you expected or wanted it to look now, you can still choose to focus on what is right, and what can go right, as you'll feel so much better for doing so. And, when you feel better, you'll more likely line up with the right opportunities for more good to come into your life. It's always the way!

Here's to speaking kindly to ourselves today and everyday.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Autumn equinox - a time to let go and shed the past

Are you ready to let go and prosper? It's time to get down to some serious autumn cleaning and clearing as the equinox is upon us. Mabon, as the Pagans call it. Today is the day of equal day and night, when, in the northern hemisphere, the nights now grow slowly longer until we reach Yule, on December 21st. It's the time to let go of what no longer serves you.
The Autumn equinox is where we reap what we've sown in the first part of the year and, in traditional farming terms, the fields offer up their bountiful crops. It's also the time for clearing out and making way for a more restful winter period. I'm sure I've written about this subject before, and definitely did when I was editing Soul&Spirit magazine, as autumn is just as good a time for a life laundry session as spring. It brings with it a theme of shedding: leaves falling away from trees, plants slowing down their growth, animals beginning their hibernation process.

12 months of change
I've been reflecting on how much has changed in my life in the past 12 months, and the current process I'm going through of 'tidying up my life' so to speak, physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually. Firstly, I left permanent employment as a magazine editor to pursue freelance work and set up a fitness business. The latter has been a challenge to say the least, as until now I'd only done dance as a hobby. Now, I make money from it and so am faced with the same issues as all new start ups: drumming up new clients, client retention, costs of advertising etc etc. But letting go of my old job wasn't easy; it was a scary thing, and I often wondered whether I'd made the right move. But you have to 'carry on carrying on' as I once heard someone say. Move forward and trust in the new things coming.

Growing up and letting go of childhood
Also, my parents moved out of the house they'd lived in for 30 years (in Feb, close to Imbolc, another Pagan festival), which had been my childhood home. I felt serious pangs of sadness when they left, as that home was a massive part of my life. I equated that house with my physical, emotional and spiritual home. It was where eI felt safe. Where I'd experienced ups and downs, been ill, cared for, had fun, birthday parties etc. For them to move felt for me like losing a part of myself. Or so I thought. I cried after I left the house for the last time, but soon realised it was the best thing for my parents as they are so happy in their new, better home. And, now I don't miss the old place. It just showed to me that nothing in life is permanent and change is the only constant. Holding on the past just slows you down. And really, it's the people that make a place, not the actual place. I get the same warm feeling at my parents new house, it's just I didn't grow up there.

Becoming a new person!
Then, on the summer solstice, I got married, which was by far the biggest change! Adapting to a new surname, living with someone, being part of a committed relationship: all these things were totally new to me so I had a period of readjustment, feeling at first as if I was losing the old part of me, and wondering who I would now be. I went through times of mourning my childhood, which sounds a ridiculous thing to say as I'm now 35, but I was still holding on to some earlier dreams of things I'd wanted to do in my 20s, which were now no longer appropriate. I had to reconcile two conflicting parts of myself, and realise I could still 'be me' and do what I love to do, AND be with another person. But at times, in the months between our engagement and wedding, I felt 'lost in transition'. But then I realised that, as with the house, you can't hold on to the past, even if it was happy, and you have to make way for the fresh, new exciting future. So here was this momentous event in my life that was both exciting and slightly scary, only in that it meant having to 'grow up' (and I think I still felt quite childlike in my mind). I always associated being grown up and getting married with something 'old people' did. And here I was, doing just that. So, I guess now I'm old (another readjustment).
Anyway, the wedding was fabulous, I could't have asked for more. All my family and friends attended, and my husband and I had the perfect English country wedding where we all ate cake and danced - well, I did! - into the early hours.

A time for consolidation
And then onto finances. I decided it was time to sell a property I've co-owned for a while. It felt the right thing to do, to cash in while the market is buoyant and consolidate my finances. In fact it's going on the market right now - perfect timing I hope.
This process of consolidating and conserving my physical energy (not dashing up to London at every available opportunity and spending all my available income on dancing and buying whatever I like) has meant I've had time to look at my life and realise I've created a lot of loose ends - bits of money here and there, the odd share certificate, direct debits for things I no longer use, unused credit cards and bank accounts that could probably all be cancelled in order to simplify my life. The house sale is by far the biggest thing, and though intellectually I know it's the right thing, I was still surprised, when I went round there, to feel an emotional attachment. Again, there are lots of memories attached to that place, not just for me but all the tenants who have come and gone over the years. It's a lovely property with pretty park views, and I felt peaceful and tranquil sitting in the living room, doubting my decision slightly and wondering should I keep hold of it and wait another ten years for  the market to hopefully improve even more? But I'm not going to live there again. Why hold on? As much as it's a lovely place and so part of me wants to hold on, it's not part of my life anymore, so it has to go. It barely breaks even, and renting it out had become a bit of a hassle, so selling it will be one less things in my life to have to deal with.

Harness the equinox energy for yourself 
In what ways could you have an autumn clean up? Even if it's on a small scale like clearing out your make up bag (which I've also done and it feels amazing to have it all organised and clean!), chipping into those credit card bills, cutting back on some things you no longer need, or even just spending a few more nights in to conserve energy and reflect on what you've achieved so far this year, and what you need to do for the next few months. It makes you feel lighter and more energised to clear the clutter. I started on some old photo albums the other day, as next time I (and now we) move house, I'm determined to haul much less stuff than I usually do.
Letting go is hard, sometimes even with small things, especially if you have hoarder disorder, which I do a little bit. But a streamlined life is so much better for your energy. Holding on to things from the past just clogs you up on all levels.

Friday 19 September 2014

Your Journey to a better life starts NOW!

FREE meditations and satsang this Thursday with Brandon Bays, creator of The Journey
Click here: Journey Global Gathering

Ever feel overwhelmed and in a total rut? Or does the past weigh you down? If you find yourself wasting hours a day re-hashing past mistakes, decisions, actions or non-actions and are fed up of not knowing what to do next, or feeling crushed by the perceived weight of your situation, then it's time to banish negative behaviour for good and begin to see the light (which, by the way, comes from within yourself, not some far-off paradise).

Re-playing events and wishing you'd done things differently, or getting mad about things you wish you'd said, only keeps you trapped in the past, cycling round and round. When you do this, you're missing the moment and stopping potentially wonderful outcomes in their tracks.

I know how this feels. One of my worst habits - which I'm working on changing - is to beat myself up on a regular basis for not having achieved more in my life; for making certain decisions and thinking they were wrong in some way; for feeling so incredibly frustrated with myself that I stay locked in a cycle of negativity instead of seeing and using all the positive things around right NOW.

Yeah, I've read the Power of Now, and loads of Buddhist books about staying in the present moment, allowing negative emotions to pass through like clouds in the sky, but it's easier said than done! Especially if you're on your own, reading a book, wondering how the hell any of it is going to have a direct effect on your, as you sit alone in your living room. Change often seems unachievable.

Putting knowledge into action - your Journey to freedom
That's why having assistance from others, and from practical processes, helps you shift your energy. It's no good just reading books over and over as I've done, and not applying what you are learning.
One way to really make a quantum shift in your life is with something called The Journey. It was developed by Brandon Bays, who healed herself of a massive tumour at the age of 39 thanks to a process of forgiveness, releasing, letting go and moving on.
Back in 2008 I came across this process and wrote about it in www.soulandspiritmagazine.com, which I was editing at the time. During the 2-day seminar, in which 300-or-so people came together for what can only be described as mass healing, I learned how to peel away layer upon layer of excuses and fears to leave me open to creating life afresh.

Feel it to heal it 
On The Journey, you come to realise that if you don't deal with your rubbish/baggage/past call it what you will, then you'll haul it around with you until it becomes so heavy it breaks you. The process they teach allows you to rid yourself of negative beliefs, sabotaging behaviours and old emotional wounds in a safe environment. You may not even realise that what a teacher told you at age five has been having a detrimental effect on your career all this time, or that something your mum did when you were a child has impacted upon your relationship with food, or even men.
So, if you keep repeating a negative relationship pattern, or money is a constant word, or maybe you feel trapped in a destructive cycle with food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, anything, then The Journey may be able to help, as it has for thousands across the world.

The Journey Intensive comes to London this autumn (11th Oct in Cardiff, and 15th Nov in London), and as someone who's tried it and benefited, I wanted to let you know about it. This type of work is challenging and will push your buttons, but if you dare to take it on, and face all the fears and repressed emotions you've buried inside for far too long, then you'll reap massive rewards.

You can experience The Journey and what the course has to offer this Thursday, September 25th with their first ever Global Gathering event, which is online and available for everyone to attend. Meditate, break through limiting blocks, and get a feel for how The Journey might be able to help you. All for FREE :-) Click here: Journey Global Gathering

Thursday 22 May 2014

Older, wiser and more interesting… how flowers stay beautiful past their prime

I wrote the other day about the ageing process, how I was trying to come to terms with it, and how it would be good to appreciate different ages in our society, rather than only prize youth. I’d like to add to my previous musings, this time using flowers as an analogy, which is apt as the  Chelsea Flower Show is on this week. 
While the best, most perfect floral displays will be on show for the judges and public, flowers can still be beautiful even when they are past their ‘perfection’. I particularly love keeping roses and tulips long after they’ve gone ‘past it’ because I see a new beauty in them: their colours darken and intensify; their petals change shape and become more interesting; the intricate pattern of veins that run through each petal begin to show, which adds another layer of detail. When most people would have thrown them in the bin, I keep these flowers in the vase for weeks on end, enjoying each stage of their life and still seeing beauty in them, in a new way. 
Tulips are the best, as they begin as soft, tightly woven buds (like babies) that slowly unfurl to reveal the beautiful stamen and stigma (taking me back to biology at school now!), and other colours inside. 

Painting birth to death
Talking of school, my GCSE art course work was to create a painting with the theme ‘journeys’. Being a rather deep, introspective child, I interpreted that as the journey from birth to death, and chose to paint a vase of tulips - red and yellow hybrid ones, which are my favourite - showing new ones on the left, opening gradually in the middle of the vase, then ageing ones towards the right-hand side, dropping their petals on the table. 
My parents recently moved house and found this picture, still in its glass clip frame, up in the loft. I decided to ressurect it, and it’s now hanging in my bedroom. It's pretty good for a 16-year-old (I look back at a lot of things and see how good they or I were, which I never did at the time). But the picture reminds me that it’s the older tulips that looked and were the most interesting to draw and paint. If people could only get past their judgement that the flower looks old, they'd begin to appreciate these delicate, intricate patterns and shapes created by the flowers in their final phases of life.
Age changes our physical form until we disintegrate, physically, and go back to source. It’s all a huge cycle, and completely natural, so it makes me happy to see older people being celebrated in campaigns such as that for Selfridges #BeautyProject, which runs all of May and into June (the-beauty-project). Here’s to beauty in all its forms :-)

JOURNEY: My GCSE art project depicting the journey from birth to death in a vase of tulips. (ignore rumbled bed sheets reflected in the glass!) 

Saturday 17 May 2014

Resistance is futile! Gracefully accepting the ageing process

Why is it getting older such a bad thing? If we eat well and exercise, surely we can age gracefully? So why does it feel like everyone, including myself, is obsessed with youth and trying to fight with Mother Nature?
I just returned home from a walk to the Co-Op, where I’d gone to buy a wine for my dad’s birthday. Having picked up a bottle of Malbec, and seeing the warning signs for anyone appearing to be under 25, I wondered for a brief second whether I’d get asked for ID. It would really piss me off, as I’d not taken anything with me to the shops but my house keys and a £20. Secretly though, I always want to be asked as it makes me feel young, but I felt sure, aged 35, I was well past that grey area for being ID-d for alcohol. 
After picking up a few more items and having perused the weekly women’s mags, littered with the usual depressing cover lines - ‘she’s so fat and unhappy!’ ‘she’s tormented by her ex!’ ‘looking thin after her breakup’ - I went to pay. 

Mistaken for 25?!?!?!
The lady behind the counter began scanning my items; when she got to the wine, she began studying my face intently, wondering whether she’d done the right thing. Oh my God, she actually thinks I might be under 25! This caused a small smile to break out on to my face. I did have my hair in a pony tail, no make up on and was dressed in jeans, trainers and a tracksuit top, which does makes me look a bit younger. I knew I ought to have gone to the young cashier, as she’d instinctively known I was much older than she was.
Anyway, the lady saw my smile, and must have wondered whether my smirk was due to  having fooled her into serving me, so she said: “You’re young aren’t you?” to which I replied “No, but I often wish I was.” “Well you look about 28, but I wasn’t sure,” she said back. “I’m actually 35. I’m smiling because you’ve just made my day by thinking I could pass for mid 20s. But look here...” I said, leaning forward and pointing to my grey roots, as if those alone were proof of my age. “I’m now off home to dye those.” “Tell me about it, I know how you feel,” she empathised. 

A false happiness
The sun was shining as I left the store and I had a spring in my step. ‘Yay - a stranger thinks I can still pass for 25’, I thought to myself, smugly. But another thought immediately raced into my brain to quash the smugness. ‘Why does that make me so happy?’ Why indeed? Because we all, myself most definitely included, want to stay young forever. And why is this? Because our culture doesn’t value older people, it values youth. Young, attractive people have it easier (well, on the surface at least - often they can be miserable on the inside). Youth is treated as a commodity in our society, which depreciates with age. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, such as those fabulous women in their 70s and 80s who front ad campaigns (check out Selfridges #BeautyProject and see Jill, 71, a model fronting the ‘hello beautiful’ campaign) but by and large we dismiss older people in our culture, so we fear getting old ourselves, and sinking into obscurity. 

Creating a new paradigm 
Unless we work to change society and what people value in others, youth will always trump age and wisdom, at least when it comes to commerce. Getting that ‘affirmation’ from that cashier gave me a lift because it made me feel like I’m still ‘in my prime’ so to speak. But the times I get ID-ed will grow fewer and fewer, and then what? Feel permanently unhappy that I’m no longer young? Be miserable at my lost youth?
A former colleague I’d spoken to the night before had had a great attitude. She seemed happy to be leaving her 20s, and said: “People often brand you as unexperienced and stupid when you’re young, and they don’t take you seriously”. She also reminded me that young people might look great but most of them feel insecure, scared, and bewildered. I know I did in my mid 20s, trying to prove myself and carve out a career and definitely not thinking I looked good (I only see it now, looking back ten years). 
What I’m trying to get at here, is that feeling good about ourselves must come from within; from self-acceptance, appreciating the way we look now, whatever age. Also, we can do massive amounts to slow the aging process and stay looking good for as long as possible through diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors, especially relaxation and stress management, all of which reduce our ‘biological age’ if not our chronological one. 

And some of the we age will be down to genetics. We can either fight it tooth and nail - and spend a lot of money in the process - or learn to love ourselves as we are. Maybe that;s easy for me to say now, age 35. I wonder how I’ll feel in another 10 and 20 years time. But what I do know, is that if I want to be at peace and feel content in life, I must learn to accept the passing of time and to let go of what once was, in order to fully be present to the now, which is a really great gift after all. And at least, being older, you don't have to worry about taking ID with you to the shops :-)

Friday 14 February 2014

Love your money (and yourself) this Valentine's

Happy finance Friday! Yes, it's also Valentine's day but I want to talk about cash, and why I've made Fridays my day to appreciate and care for my finances, both incoming and outgoing.

This all came out of the book I read over Christmas and New Year, called Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup (Kate Northrup), which really got me thinking hard about my financial life up to this point.
Having just recently gone self-employed as a journalist and dance aerobics instructor teaching FitSteps, the new Latin and ballroom workout inspired by Strictly Come Dancing, my income has decreased rather rapidly. The savings I had in an ISA have dwindled faster than I expected, and so I've had to make major cut backs to my outgoings. However, I'm probably taking more care of my finances now than I ever have. Last year when I was earning around £2K a month, I thought nothing of buying shoes, holidays and clothes whenever I wanted. My outgoings were relatively low (sharing a home and bills), so I had lots of expendable income. If I wanted to join a salsa dancing group in London, I could. If I wanted to train with a professional dancer and perform in a showcase at Karen Hardy's prestige studio in west London, I could (and did! ) And while I don't regret a penny of the money I spent on dancing, it pains me to think of all the income wasted on things I didn't really need: salsa shoes I liked the look of but already had loads of; eating out when I could have prepared my own lunches; the bills I could have cut down drastically with just a few hours of research (i.e phone bill and dental insurance).
Having now been forced to be careful with my money, I've managed to cut down at least £150 a month, which I could have done last year but didn't because, well, it didn't' matter so much as I knew I'd be getting a nice juicy pay cheque again very soon.

Kate Northrup's book also gets you to look at your values around money and yourself. I completely identified with her when she spoke about not wanting to cut down on her spending to live within her means, as she viewed doing so as some sort of deprivation. I too felt that saving was 'boring' and I wanted to 'live in the now'. But I also realise a lot of that was coming out of the pain I felt back in 2011 at the sudden breakup of a fledgling relationship, which plunged me headlong into activities to take my mind and heart off the pain. I decided then and there that I had spent too much time, money and emotions on men, and it was time to do things for me. So, that is when I began my dancing adventures in London. However, I went OTT and tried to cram in too much, and spent pretty much all my disposable income on dancing whenever and wherever I could. I wasn't saving anything, or attempting to lower my £2K credit card debt. Kate showed me that actually, it's an act of self-care to live within your means. She came to the realisation that she was just trying to show off and live to a level that would make others think she was successful and happy, when all along she was plunging headlong into more debt.

Always putting things no credit...
When I looked at my own finances, though I wasn't heading more into debt, I certainly hadn't managed to get myself into the black. The £2K I put on a credit card TEN YEARS AGO to buy furniture for my first flat, was STILL THERE! OK, the original debt was paid off, but it got replaced with something else that cost £2K. Then as soon as that was almost paid off, I found a reason to add another £2K! So it was always the same. This was despite that fact that over those ten years, my income doubled and my outgoings reduced, as I went from living along to sharing a flat. So, there really ought to have been no excuse not to have paid off the debt. So why didn't I? Like Kate said, it was the feeling of not wanting to 'go without' and to enjoy myself doing what I wanted, however much it cost. Trip to Australia? No problem. Expensive holiday in Ibiza? You bet. Handbag for £300? Just stick it on the Amex and pay it later. I did this for years. And I've only stopped now because I'm self-employed, my ISA has almost run out, and thanks to prompting from Kate's book (Money a Love Story)

Finance Fridays!!!
So, why Finance Friday? This is Kate's suggestion, as when she first started to turn her life around from a £20K debt (mine pails in comparison), the very first action she took every day was to check her account balances. In the end she dedicated Friday to managing all her finances, so this is now what I do too. I log on to all my accounts, and write down the balances in a red diary, which I've saved just for financial matters. I give thanks for all the gifts that come my way, and pay my invoices with love. Being grateful for what we have, no matter how large or small, is one way to value ourselves, says Kate.

Why not show some love to yourself this Valentine's Day and give some special attention to your finances? Unlike the saying about 'the love of money being the route of all evil', it's the contrary: if you appreciate and show respect for money, it will show respect for you. Throw it away like there is no tomorrow, and one day it might run out. But, nurture it and appreciate it, like you would a plant, and it will hopefully grow and increase in size and value.

Katy xxx