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Women What Whistle

This podcast is about not falling in line or fading away. Stories of bravery, accounts of resilience and even tales of sheer bloody-mindedness. It’s about finding our voice, and sometimes our brave, through the stories of other women who’ve had to find theirs.

Apr 9, 2020

A marathon runner trains for the long race both physically and mentally and when we are in the midst of the marathons that life throws our way, such as the corona virus lockdown, there are some tools that help. So like a long distance athlete, we can find ways to keep going, with a sense of hope, peace and belief in a world that heals.

I think we are at that stage where for many, its beginning to hurt. We’ve all put our best foot forwards and embraced this newness but the feeling of weariness is beginning to set in. How do keep going and hold on?

  • There are thousands of key workers keeping the country going, daily putting their own health and the subsequent health of their families on the line
  • There are families stuck at home within the same 4 walls who no doubt at times the patience with each other is running thin
  • There are those who live on their own who really are done now with peace and quiet, even though Zoom, facetime and skype have all been a tremendous support

I could go on – the reality is, whatever stage of life we are at, however this has effected us and will continue to effect us going forwards, as I mentioned last week, the not knowing can be exhausting, IS exhausting

Lots of people are watching more TV, ploughing through box sets and reading books but even those eventually become tiresome ….so then what …

There are many tales we can draw on – I’ve a few friends who run marathons and so did a bit of research on how they cope with the boredom, the exhaustion, the pain, the fear of not making it and have found some really great tips that can help us as we pace ourselves through any period of difficulty, especially right now as so many are in isolation

  • Get your language right – safe at home, not stuck at home or I hope I don’t get ill – I’m glad I am well, this is hideous / this is an opportunity for something new
  • Visualise good things – when we imagine something, we fire up the same neurons in our brain as when we are actually experiencing it – so close your eyes and go somewhere different – relive a party, remember a holiday or an adventure, revisit some of your favourite memories – your body will enjoy it!
  • Find your routine – the body functions best with routine and pattern. I talked about the circadian rhythm a few months ago and how the body has patterns for feeding and sleeping, hormone production, cell regeneration and loads of things that help it function well – having a physical routine in place helps us function so try not to fall into the trap of not having to get up for the school run or going to work, but instead, get up anyway – do something with that extra time that you might have spent in the car or elsewhere
  • Set small goals – not anything crazy but small things that help you feel that the day hasn’t been wasted – clean the bathroom, sort a cupboard, do some exercise – if we feel we have achieved something with our time, we feel good
  • Embrace the process, not the outcome – winners don’t think about winning, they think about putting in a winning performance – so winning this for you will look different for me and so forth –
  • Find a way to block the bad thoughts – there are times when diversion is an excellent life skill! I find music and dancing ALWAYS lifts the mood, it might be painting, or cooking, cleaning or gardening – having a project that you see growing – maybe changing a room around, sorting the loft or the garage …
  • Look up and look around – get off the screens!!!
  • Smile – when we are happy, we have more energy, the synapses in our brain fire better when we feel good, our bodies function better


And during those days when you feel that this is going on for ever, remember

Terry Waite was in captivity in Beirut for 5 years in the 80s, and spent 1,736 days in solitary confinement, often blindfolded, not seeing a single soul – sometimes under ground, sometimes in bombed out buildings which his captors blocked all the light, chained up to the wall for most of the 5 years, for the first nearly 4 years no books or papers or communication with the outside world, basic bread or rice and beans to eat ..

Aung San Suki – under house arrest for 15 years

Nelson Mandela was kept in isolation for 27 years, no family, no luxuries – held on to hope and vision

These people all not only survived their isolation, but rose to become leaders, voices of authority and right now, their stories all show us a common thread. They kept going by holding on to hope and vision

Interview with Terry Waite – decided that looking after his inner health would help protect his physical health….

  • Coming to terms with the fear, worry and anger by trying to live for now, trying to make the moment as full as possible …. He did that by mentally adjusting to the situation, with nothing, he began to write in his head, ….things have a habit of turning out ok and for the majority of us it will be fine, but we need to find the capacity to accept it as it is
  • One day at a time – taking the positives – we are SAFE at home, not STUCK at home
  • Keep your dignity, take pride in your appearance – mentally it helps …he used to fold his trousers
  • Form a structure for the day …we are surrounded by books, papers, have access to the internet and so can use the time creatively

Ultimately, and most importantly, I that holding on to hope is the most powerful and over arching thing we can do to keep us going – whatever it is that you are hoping for, all these other things that we have talked about will give you the strength to keep holding on, keep going and keeping hoping – we can and we will get through this because we, as humans, have been through it before and will no doubt go through it again.

1k million lives were lost through TB

Smallpox 300 million 1900-1980

Measles 200 million lives in the last 150 years

Spanish flu took between 50-100 million 1918-1920

…war, natural disasters and so on

So we know this is part of the human experience, and we know that the other part of that experience is coming out the other side – as we talked about last week in episode 55

So for me, also embracing the fact that there is more to life than what we physically see, also gives me hope, also gives me peace and helps me feel joy – episode 39 joy

Brene Brown says “gratitude will enhance your ability to enjoy life and experience joy without fear” and right now we all have so much to be thankful for -thankful for our health so that we can love and give to others, thankful for all the care staff, doctors and nurses who are looking after those who need medical help, thankful for all the key workers who keep the country going as best as they can, keeping provisions available for us and looking after those who are more vulnerable ….on a more personal level we can be thankful for our homes, our books, our loved ones, our friends, our future, our past, and our moment right now …

You know my story, I come from a horribly abusive and neglectful background, I went into care for a time and was pretty broken for a long time. I had experienced a LOT of pain and loss over the years but it’s in that loss, in that darkness, you realise that it’s not all about you, somewhere along the line, we twig that there is more than what we see with our physical eyes and I think once we start to go deeper into that thought process, deeper into the belief that there is so much more than just us and our experience, that we start to have the ability to look further, to feel deeper and to hope for longer.

I prayed on my igtv earlier this week, it’s not something I tend to do on social media, I’m more used to praying myself or if its public, then in church but I really felt that it was the right thing to do. My peace in the fact that there is more to life, and that there is purpose to be found in every situation, comes from my faith and I wanted to share that and I’ve had so many responses off the back of it from people who felt that peace too - what a gift!

This obsession with self and achievement is skin deep, it serves very little greater purpose and so to try to grasp the bigger picture and lean into the fact that there is more, there is a higher purpose and an unconditional love that stretches way beyond the mistakes we make, our imperfections and our darker moments is what gives me hope. By believing in a greater essence that allows us to fully know and feel a life of love and connection.

So at this time when we might be feeling as though our wings have been clipped, we lean in to hope and we lean in to love – and also perhaps loving ourselves – maybe you’ve been so busy over the last few years that you’ve not looked after yourself properly? Maybe during this time of learning how to really live in the moment, its your chance to make friends with yourself again because actually, loving yourself is of utmost importance – not because Loreal says we are worth it or because you want an excuse for a new handbag, but because those around us, deserve the very best of what we have to give. We take care of ourselves so that we are able to take care of others. We put them first by putting ourselves first – its not linear, its love, true love in action

I’m not sure that life was ever given to us to be ours, I think we are way more connected than that, that life isn’t mine to own, instead, it’s mine to give, as it’s been given to me. There is no greater joy than we find in giving ourselves through love, unconditional, unscripted, unashamed, undivided and whole hearted love.

So when things get hard, when pain sears through your heart, when fear courses through your veins or sadness weighs so heavily that you can’t stand, hold on to the hope and belief that this is not all there is ….

Lily posted a quote from Harry Potter today – Albus Dumbledore “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light”

In many ways, darkness could be considered as being the beginning. The beginning of a new day comes from darkness, the world coming into being came out of darkness, we’ve talked before about spring following winter ….and indeed with this time of the corona virus we too will come into the light …we just don’t know when that is + – when we look at figures such as Aung San Suki and Nelson Mandela, Terry Waite and others – we can do this, we can hold on to hope for a new day, a new era, a better society and a healthier planet.

So, may peace be with you, may joy lift you up, may you smile, sing and dance knowing that it will be ok again soon.   …..and if you want to share your smiles and joy, which we all know are infections, please keep in touch, you can find all my social media links via my website