I keep going on about how the last 2 years have brought forth radical transformation in my life. Without telling you what is going on. Nor am I going to share here and there is a reason for this. Sharing isn’t always safe and it’s a privilege to hear my story, it’s going to be gritty and chewy and eyewatering when we get there, and still, I’m not there. I’m not ready to share and you know what that is totally ok.
In the meantime what I am truly finding out is how hard it is to actually share who you are and that people shouldn’t feel entitled to all of you. Yet they do. Like in my previous blog post when I talked about basically being utilised to do the admin work for community activism when it would have been far more beneficial to be put to work doing what I actually do. Which is healing trauma.
I can’t even begin to tell you how long it’s taken me to get here to the whole trauma thing. It’s an origin story of note, that probably started ten years ago. That started with a friend of mine called Cait where we sadly concluded that more people were suffering from trauma than we might even be able to identify. That back then we had no idea how we might tackle the epidemic. That we didn’t know what all the answers were. All we knew really was that people were suffering, even ourselves. We knew that symptoms of trauma tended to isolate people and that most people had no clue what to do when their friends and family were in crisis. That we were more likely to ostracise them for their behaviour, rather than include them out of love. That diagnosis was woefully unable to define the true human story behind the tears, the tantrums, the self-medicating, and the withdrawal. That even Eeyore deserved to be invited to the party. Yet what if the symptoms were more pernicious? What if the behaviours were more troublesome and asked people to question everything that we knew and understood? That the school systems was fucked and equated to child abuse. The corporate working world was nothing more than wage slavery, that made us complicit in a planetary tragedy. That governance was built on nothing more the imaginary lines in the sand and maximised on the idea of human separateness. That modern medicine was looking to kill us. That communities were deliberately under threat from the sickness of greed. That it all felt vapid and soulless and no one had the depth of character or will to dive into another’s pain, because they were totally unable to face their own.
Yet here I am tens years on and I’ve garnered some answers, secure attachment, trust, nurturance, time, and the old fashioned idea of succour. Succour, we even have a word for it, long since forgotten. We know how to heal ourselves, it all boils down to human connection, inclusiveness and of course love.
This year it feels like I’ve taken a crash course in all of the above. I’m also feeling pretty proud of myself in the process. For the first time in the history of my own community activism, I have refused to take on other peoples shit. True Story.
Emotional Labour is the work of me, The Life Doula. I create space, I hold space and I offer up time as if it is an infinite resource and utilising a lost healing magic that seems to have been long forgotten in the realms of 21st-century healing. You can’t hack everything. It is at the very moment we can become grateful for the ageing process, proud of the whispy grey hairs and that wisdom usually has to be earned.
The truth is that Emotional Labour is, for the most part, the work of women. The absorbing, the explaining, the understanding, the coaxing and sustaining of families and communities. It’s the care of the dying, the nurturing of children, the comforting of the ill and distressed and the perpetual maintenance of the household. It’s also the commitment to healing, healing ourselves to be of better service. Healing our selves to create better homes, stronger families and resilient communities and yet so little of this work are appreciated and honoured even though it is the very stuff of life.
These days as healers and let’s be honest here as women we now have to resolve to set boundaries for ourselves. We have to decide to take care of ourselves first, heal our selves first before we ever hope to have a deeper impact on the world at large, even though there is so much to heal. Too often now I have had the call to action. “Kimberley we need your help” and too often now I have learned that the help I have to offer is mistaken for something else. That somehow I can do the work for you. That by me showing up and listening to the problem at hand is a cure and that due to my caring nature I might be willing to solve the problem by taking on the role of community enabler. That I will be project manager, researcher, facilitator, admin assistant, fundraiser and counsellor. All for free of course.
The answer is I can and I won’t. The truth is my house isn’t in order. I expect too much from hurt people. The best remedy I have for this is, of course, is getting back to the drawing board and straight back into dharma. Chopping water and fetching wood, figuring out where the mix up happened and re-committing to healing myself first, loving myself best and serving reason from a cup that radiates joy.
The age of Aquarius is here. The divine feminine is on the rise and emotional mastery is calling to us. Nurturance is key and taking on the emotional labour of others is over. Nothing is disposable. The energy we put out into the world is the energy we get back. After all, it’s the circle of life.
You may have guessed I’m trying to up my game, be deeply authentic, pretend that I know what the fuck I’m doing with my life in order to be able to guide you in yours. Yes really. So I’ve been reading some pretty awesome blogs of late where funny women with high standards and a heavy dose of reality are literally recording their daily fails to serve as an inspiration to us all. Me, Baby & The Beard.
My life which is very comfortable revolves round dysfunction that I’m still figuring out. In the last week or so I’ve been having flashbacks to my 24-year-old self who seemed very together and super capable of fitting into the capitalist dream. I was even using my anti-wrinkle cream a year early. I was soooo together and then whoops that millennial life crisis or should I say xennial life crisis hit. Since then it’s been a whole load of figuring out who you’re brushing your hair for? If Mrs Flemming isn’t going to scream at you? Equally well who are you brushing your hair for if everyone isn’t going to fawn over you? Do you really have to pretend to look this good to get a job? To be noticed? To be valued? Is the amount of care I put into my appearance really representative of how much I love of value myself? Or am I really just buying into a value system that has been imposed on me rather than ascertained for myself? Or am I forcing myself to question something that should just be universally accepted? Would this idea then be dogma? Praise and blame they’re all the same. So that question [Who am I brushing my hair for?] alone has lead me down some long winding passages and thought trains, that have ultimately lead me back to the idea of nurturance. That we have to be able to invest in ourselves enough in order to create our own growth. It’s a step beyond caring. It’s practical love. At first, I thought of it as self-parenting. Lately, I was introduced to the idea that nurturance might be the process of learning how to mother. I think in many ways that nurturance is more radical than mothering. It’s a step beyond, as it releases the obligation of a perceived role that we may never have experienced. Why should we be mothering ourselves if we never had a mother? Why should we be re-mothering ourselves if the lead female in our lives didn’t meet up to the perceived norms of “mothering”. Or that we should know how to parent when the truth of the matter is that anybody with an ounce of self-reflection will admit that parenting is nothing more than terrifying, experiment with no clear outcomes. Self-parenting leaves us with nothing more than unpacking a parental programme that we have most likely survived rather than thrived through (that is certainly true for me, I’m open to the idea that I am projecting). Nurturance gives us an opportunity to ask a question of ourselves. What do I need right now? If I wanted to grow what would I provide for myself? If thriving looked a certain way, what would it look like? How would I feel? All these questions help us figure out what is true for us and find deeper alignment with ourselves. Making our lives easier in the long run.
Last year I thought I’d cracked it with a course in Dharma (My own personal course) which involved largely getting water in my mouth first thing in the morning. Resolving situations as they arrive and then realising that largely I was doing a very good job of doing an all singing all dancing performance of sweep it under the carpet. Humans -they don’t do what they say they will even the one you actually control.
Getting married will do that. Then, of course, the minor shit storm becomes a major one and oh well. Back to Dharma, Carry Water, Chopping Wood. Pay Attention to your feelings. They are fucking wild and take you on the craziest adventures without even leaving the room. The stories that we tell ourselves.
Do you every get to a point where you think I might never nail this? I think that’s where I am today. I’ve got unfinished projects, new progressions and self-nurturance projectories that I just can’t keep up with. Then I fall back let go, look around and realise my head is driving me crazy. My life is great. I have enough insight to know that my life is on a gentle upward trend. I have a secure homes, running water (Which this time last year might have seemed an impossibility. Find out more here) money in the bank. More importantly I like myself and for someone who often feels like that there personality seems to be bouncy castle embedded with hidden razor blades I love myself plenty. I just have no idea what that looks like to the outer world. For the most part I don’t really care much about that, excpet of course I’m always doing my best to serve and love other people. Cause after all who wants to end up with a personality that’s a bouncey castle with hidden razors blades. quite frankly that’s a lot of what I deal with – Yes my personality me. Sometimes I wonder how it is that I make it into the future and other times I wonder how I used to managed that so well way back in the day.
Working for yourself is such a different ball game when it’s almost entirely customer facing and perfectionism isn’t the end goal. That you need to keep it real that you need to say. You know life? It’s fucking hectic and messy. There are so many things that act and do exactly what they want and they are wonderful. Sometimes I just want to follow my intuition down rabbit holes or do what’s easiest in stead of what’s hardest. That sometimes placating a situation is far easier than drawing lines in the sand. Every day feels like a negotiations tournament of priorities of me, my clients, my husband and then the things you own that own you. And of course then there are such things as the greater good. The collective will. Collective futures and better ideas of how life is. Then you stop and take it all in for a minute. I’m here for you. I really am. If you reach out to me I’ll pick up the phone, I’ll answer the mail and I’ll get to you where every you are if it your fucking falling apart and it bits and their is nobody else to call.
So from here on in – with my consistantly inconsistant self I’m letting me off the hook. Cause I live a real life where Mondays aren’t predictable. I don’t know most days what time my husband comes home from work (cause he does shifts) and well feelings are important to me. That my feelings almost always come first because thye dictate everything that I am and am able to do in the best possible way. That if I can manage my emotions. It might take coffee, it might take sleep or even some kind of meditation. If I can make that time for myself then fuck I’m doing the best you can and showing you what that looks like. That it’s part of a greater goal of what a wellbeing economy really looks like.
It all started with a road trip down the longest dirt road in South Africa, a car crash and a desert retreat and it ended up right here telling this story to you. I first met Karyn when I drove into into the Tankwa Padstal on the way to a small festival in the middle of the Tankwa Karoo. I drove in alone after a 4-hour drive to be immediately approached by a guy asking if I was alone? Of course, I was a little perturbed by this as I had essentially arrived on what seemed like post-apocalyptic film. I was completely vulnerable. This guy had been in a car crash and inside the bar, I found his new girlfriend and her mother, Karyn. Who were all heading the same place as me. It would have been anti-human to refuse them a lift and that is how my relationship with Karyn of Purple Chilli started. We spent the weekend talking about unicorns, universal energies, past-lives, her role in Afrikaburn and her plans than to set up a new burner festival called Sentella, never mind her role as a Consultant for the South Africa FIFA Football World Cup. She was an is an impressive lady.
Fast forward a couple of years and Karyn found her self reaching out over Social Media over a personal crisis she was going through. I can easily class myself as a crisis specialist, having recently self-diagnosed my self with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and being a Master Life Coach. Due to my own life experiences I am always happy to reach into the unknown, wade into the dark, then swim in the abyss for a while to witness someone’s pain. It’s one of my superpowers and I’m very good at it. It’s also an intrinsic part of what I do and even who I am. In the process of engaging in what was Karyn’s radical transformation, I discovered that she was changing career. That she was setting up a digital marketer. I have been building a business for nearly a year I was very interested in this. As I had been trying to push up engagement on Social Media in order to get some clients. In exchange for some coaching work, I got a full marketing review with some great feedback on how to build on what I’ve got and invited to join the Purple Chilli 21 Day Accelerator course when it was up and running.
I have to say I was excited to sit down to the challenge when it came but I had no idea how hard it would make me push myself in the process. It feels like it has cracked open my soul and made me meet my source purpose and this is even after being a qualified Master Life Coach for quite a few years. This process has made me step more deeply into my own healing journey. I won’t bull shit you at moments it’s been terrifying.
I started Karyn Reynolds Purples Chilli’s Accelerator 21 Day course with the intention to build confidence & strategy for digital marketing (I have achieved so much more than that). My intentions for The Life Doula was to create radical community focused business grounded in my local area that works on a donation basis that creates emotional health and promotes a wellbeing economy.
All very straight forward until you get into the why story…..the thing is it’s complicated and within that it was complicated and scary because explaining my “why” meant I had to delve deep into the origins of my business and thus into the origins of me…… which was something that will become obvious from this developing story.
My why is because I wanted a better world and in order to have a better world I need to to be a better person. I’m a good person with a challenging history. I grew up in a highly dysfunctional family where physical, verbal and emotional violence is accepted as a norm to this day. What even more shocking is that my family comprise of well read highly educated and professional people. Some of them even in the healing professions. Yup it’s fucking mental. In essence, I was terrorised as a child and for most of my life, I’ve been riding a roller coaster of emotions. Intense emotions have always been very difficult for me to self regulate which have to lead to issues with self-harm and co-dependency. As well as attracting some very unhealthy associations. The truth of the matter was that from a very young age all I’ve wanted to do was run away from it all and express myself freely. I wanted to be a gypsy. However for many years the trauma from my childhood has prevented me from engaging in almost anything creative. As being myself was essentially continually scorned or violently punished. After years of attempting to appease people to no avail, I fell prey to an incredibly abusive person. I had a complete nervous breakdown at the age of 26. Where I was signed off on the Uk welfare system for five years fully paid because I was a risk to myself and others. It was like being given a golden ticket you could never cash because you were too unwell to go anywhere. What it did get me was a stable home and a place to call my own, with the greatest luxury of all time.
Separately to that my own mental health and sense of wellness had been greatly diminished by the destruction of my village’s natural environment when I was a teen. The places that I had run away to to escape my family were removed from me. I was completely discouraged at all times from standing up for anything I believed in. All my joy was stolen and I ended up falling into a deep depression. The destruction of the environment had in essence spiritually crippled me.
As I progressed through my adult life the environmental theme kept coming up everywhere I went and there were no easy solutions to it. You couldn’t outrun the concrete, you couldn’t escape plastic pollution and the further you ran you destroyed a little bit more of that thing that your sought and hoped to protect.
It was an endless list of catch 22’s. Then luckily I got paid for 5 years to sit down and think. The pain of development and the capitalist system had crippled others too and that is why vast swathes of people were moving out of London and taking over villages in the hope that a beautiful spot in some quaint countryside may ease their suffering. Gentrification spurring on a new pain of displacement and community disintegration. The dislocation of tribe and creating new intergenerational trauma. People with no way to connect, no tradition to guide them, to places to gather. Town councils obsessed with money, developers obsessed with profit. The word was a sick place with no end game. Yes this had always been in the word, yet now it seemed somewhat critical. Clean air, land access and environmental security and personal wellness were rapidly being depleted all in the name of progress. We had to change the way we think, the way we consumed, what we valued. I had always wanted to buy a big house by the sea, plant some trees, grow some food and dance and paint on the lawn. That now seemed increasingly part of the problem?
My solution we had to deal with ourselves. We had to sit with our emotions however painful or destructive to stop them from having any power. Hurt led to hurt. Pain grew more pain. Unless we just found the strength to quietly sob into our pillow or even better found someone who had seen it all before and listen to our story without judgement. We were destined to run forever taking our pain with us where ever we go. Fuck it’s a mission. Fuck it’s relentless, brutal and exhausting. This was the work that needed to be done.
Then hope upon hope the world conspired to support me, I had a counsellor and a kinesiologist that worked with me for free. The held me together with masking tape and glue until eventually, I could hold myself again. Then I acquired a friend, a proper one. The kind that actually gives a shit, that turns up listens, helps.
With five years off (and all the therapy) I actually became a person that people wanted to be around, even if I was ill. Before you knew it I had a regular flow of people who would come to my door and overspill their challenges, despair and often dreams with me. I ended up with a caseload of informal client referrals that simply started with a cup of tea and a long chat. A morning, an afternoon and sometimes dependent on the unique dilemma a three-day intervention. Everyone left feeling better, even me. In exchange, I got just about anything I needed from anybody that asked because I had helped them sort there shit out and that is how The Life Doula was born.
Why did I do that – It eased my own personal suffering, made me feel useful and minimised the pain and curtailed anyone else from making the same soul-destroying life choices I had based entirely on fear. Yes, I was ruled by fear. However, I was able to offer love. Love in the shape of a sandwich, love in the shape of a bath, love in the shape of kindness and this was something I came to know as nurturance. Love was the answer, love was the question. It just needed one simple act of kindness that was intended for another person’s growth and that was enough. Nurturance offers an action based solution that created secure connections for people that had none. I started building communities in sustainable ways. Started to propagate the skills of nurturance. Taking back the human life cycle, so that grief is recognised, love is celebrated, mothers are supported, the elderly are respected, children are heard, babies are cherished, the dying is held. That we needed access to humaness. That life purpose is only a part-time pursuit in experiencing the joy and beauty that we already have. That is the work of The Life Doula to get everyone to create their global awakening. Time for a change.
If the ideas of self-nurturance, healing humans, communities, human geographies, wellbeing economy, global awakening and collective futures appeal to you? You can find out more here
Sooo if you want to grow balls big enough to write this story, that will help you explain your painful past and find out how that informs a powerful future. I’d get hold of Karyn immediately and gently coerce her to tell you her magical unicon secrets. It’s free for now. Purple Chilli
First of all even though I preach love, light, compassion and nurturance you’ve got to know that I am human. I’m espousing about the mastery of the potential human condition that I myself have am still working on. I get angry. I’m far more likely to jump to angry than to sadness any day of the week and I have a reputation for resolving conflict somewhat aggressively, even in what should be serene moments of bliss. I kid you not. What has that got to do with love? The fact that I am able to love myself in that process. I don’t reject the feelings. I don’t judge anger bad, I don’t judge aggression as bad and I also know that we all make mistakes. That although at times I can be a dick, it’s because I am not yet able to permanently tap into endless universal love. Yup that’s me. Imperfect. Fuck it’s wild huh? To find the solution is always love. In 2019 I have finally come back to myself and my way of thinking. Where my own personal mantra is “I trust myself”. Yes little old me. I trust me.
Trust isn’t exactly love though? Is it? No not exactly and yet most people would say that in any relationship that you can’t have love with without trust. So they kind of go hand in glove. The connection of love and trust is far harder to put a finger on when we think about love and trust when it come to our own interpersonal relationship with ourselves. Through my own journey I am becoming increasingly aware that self-trust is the key to any kind of love. That we have to trust ourselves, our preferences, our feedback, our story in order to experience love. That if it feels right it is right. That something feeling right is only a hop skip and a jump into personal happiness. Happiness is only a 1/2 a centimeter from love. Any kind of love, love of a person, love of a situation, a place or even a thing. If we can create love by trusting ourselves, we can change our world.
Sooooo I trust myself.
This year after many years of trying to figure out how to be a coach I’ve made the decision to go donation based. Sounds crazy right? or does it really? I trained as a Life Coach as I wanted to find great tools in order to be able to assist the people that I talk to on a daily basis. I knew that if I was able access conversational tools that allowed people to truly feed into their own potential, that there was totally new way of accessing how each of us engaged with the world. For a very long time I have always known that each of us has the ability to create positive change in the world. For some of us it’s a lot easier than others. There are a whole plethora of situations, family experiences and personal circumstances that can seriously impede our ability to thrive as adults in what can be a cruel world. Combine a few short term problems with that physical or mental health concerns and it can create a maelstrom of events that have the ability to rip lives apart. All to often the people who need the most help are totally unable to access any positive support systems. Where a small intervention for a little bit might constructively allow someone to simply make a few better choices.
This anomaly has been something that I have witnessed and experienced over and over again. That entirely capable people end up living hand to mouth as they do daily battle with painful negative self-talk and limiting beliefs. All fueled by spiraling anxiety based on a perspective of lack and scarcity. For people on the outside it can be mind boggling and frustrating to witness what they consider an intelligent person making the same mistakes over an over. So that’s what I’m doing putting and end to this bullshit for free. I’m here to help. All you have to do is turn up.