Not much Warrior in this Woman
I remember soaking in a lovely, warm, Epsom-salt filled bath, gazing at my toes. Perfumed candles flickered and speakers in the bathroom filled my ears with the velvet sound of a voice which guided me through a soothing meditation.
It felt amazing. Not least because I never did that kind of thing. Surely I must have known that relaxation and self-care was what I needed. And yet I felt so guilty for allowing myself the… luxury, even though (or especially because) I was off work with mental illness and had been instructed by a doctor specialising in stress to do just this type of thing. Every day.
Although it felt so good, it was rare that I indulged myself. If I wasn’t ‘busy’, I felt guilty. Even if this particular form of ‘busy’ – the only kind of ‘busy’ I was capable of at that time – involved me busily worrying about how to map out a future that I could busily thrive in. Or even just a future that I could cope better with.
So after my wonderful bath, I resolved to put ‘relax more’ on my ‘to do’ list. Hummmm.
That must have been about three years ago.
It took me a long while for the importance of a self-care mindset to sink in. I read the articles, knew the theories. But putting it into practice was damn hard! And sometimes I confused self-care with self-improvement. Two very different fish!
The making of a Warrior Woman
Roll time forwards to about a month ago (June 2019), and I found myself – for the second year – participating in Nicky Clinch’s Seven-Day Warrior Woman Challenge.
Each daily challenge is in two parts. The first is to do a bit of work on yourself – ask yourself some fundamental questions (yup, ‘Who am I really?’ and the like…) and journal about it. But the second part is to share. Scary, huh?!
A couple of slightly ‘odd’ posts appeared on my Instagram feed. Instead of my usual choice of nature photography: you know like flowers, landscapes, maybe a dewdrop-covered spider’s web or two, I posted pictures of… me (shock horror).
Highlights (and lowlights) of my Warrior Woman Challenge
In the 2018 challenge when we were asked to share in the private Facebook group, as well as on our IG accounts, I had to ask:
What’s an IG account?
Nicky explained that it’s short for Instagram (she didn’t add ‘duh!’) and maybe this was an opportunity for me to open an account. So I did. I didn’t share much on it though.
In the 2019 challenge, I shared all but one photo on my IG feed, plus a shortened version of my FB group posts.
Snippets from the challenge
Day 2 – Listen to your needs and be fully responsible
My knee-jerk reaction to this was resistance.
My internal voice:
What? Listen to my needs? How am I supposed to do that? What does that even mean?My internal voice
But I gave it a go, tuned in to the meditation, and tried to listen to what I really needed.
In 2018, the reply came.
Bananas!My internal voice having fun
Was my internal voice playing tricks on me, taking the mickey? Or did I really need bananas?
I reached for the fruit bowl to be on the safe side…
In 2019 I still struggled to ‘listen’ to my needs. But I did get a picture of myself curled up having a rest… and as I couldn’t do that due to ‘life’ obligations, I did commit to go and spend time in nature, or as I more poetically put it:
Day 4 – Nourishment
Nourishment… so much more than simply the food you choose to eat.
Day 5 – Honouring your Sacred Body
Uh-oh! In 2018 it was another huge challenge for me (and many of the other women in the group). It seems that the relationship women have with their bodies is very complicated but if we pick it apart and remember how amazing our bodies are, how many challenging (and fun) times they have walked (or run or jumped or danced…) us through, then we can begin to reframe our relationship with our body.
We only have one body. Til death do us part. It makes sense to make this relationship a loving and respectful one.
Day 6 – Voice and Truth
Our task involved saying ‘no’ to something we didn’t want in our lives (which, in fact, means saying ‘yes’ to something we do want)
Here’s part of my entry for 2019
Day 7 – Celebration
Throughout the challenge, there’s this build-up of female energy. It feels empowering. It’s palpable. But I also find it exhausting.
Day 7 is supposed to be a celebration, but I was struggling.
Instead of finding some made-up stuff to cover up what I was really feeling, share with the group, and try to make myself believe… I summoned up the courage – which is becoming a habit – and shared. And the very act of doing that, made me feel better.
I feel vulnerable and sad. Truth be told, I don’t feel good today. I feel angry with everything. Frustrated with everyone – especially myself. I have no direction.
Today I am impatient and see time flying by so quickly. I am scared. I still don’t know where I’m going in my life.
I know that I’ve come a long way. This time last year when I did the Challenge my mindset was very different. I have blossomed and grown in confidence and authenticity, learned healthy boundaries and have a better body image. Nourishment has taken on a whole new meaning.
I am generally so much happier with my life, more mindful and peaceful and just… better.
So I need to take my own advice. I need to listen to what I would tell a friend if they were to confide in me like this.
I would comfort them, be kind, say it is okay. I would tell them they are brave, talented, that this too shall pass… and they are loved, strong, and allowed to be vulnerable. I would give them a hug (virtual or a real one).
So I have just made myself smile. And I feel already a little better.
I have ‘mothered’ myself (or been my own best friend).
And I remember that life is beautiful. My life is beautiful.
I might be a bit crumpled. I am getting older. I am imperfect, human and real.
This is me, as I am. Perhaps a Warrior Woman!
For every end is there a beginning?
After you complete the (free) challenge, Nicky invites participants to sign up for her eight-week transformational online programme, Homecoming.
Emotions run high in the seven-day challenge. Women from around the world share how they really feel about themselves. So many commonalities come up and I really felt part of something. I realised how, as Nicky would say, we are ‘all different, all the same.’
Last year (2018), at the end of the seven days, I reluctantly told myself that it had been great, but that I really couldn’t afford Homecoming. It wasn’t just the money (although this came into it, massively). If I’m honest, it was also that nasty little guilt monster that I was carrying, telling me that I couldn’t dedicate that much time and energy just to… me! What was I thinking?
I had indulged myself with an online course before. And it had been hard enough to justify an online writing course. But at least that was (kind of) practical. It was (kind of) quantifiable. You learned how to ‘finish your novel’. And I both started and finished mine (very nearly.) But this… this was… woo woo, self-loving, out-there, hippified, crystal-gazing, moon-cycle, being-in-touch-with-who-knows-what-next… witchy women sacred weirdy scary stuff!
Not my bag.
Woo woo witchy Warrior Woman
So I was in the kitchen on Day 8 of the Seven Day Challenge (yup – that would be the bonus day – shhh!). And I was resolving to myself that, no, I wouldn’t do it… I was a bit sad about it, but hey. There you go!
And the weirdest (woo woo, self-loving, out-there… you know where I’m going with this) thing happened.
I heard a voice call out, ‘Mummy!’
I swear I did!
So I turned around to see which child had come into the kitchen.
Neither of them.
And I just got this… feeling (and I’m working on listening to my ‘feelings’ as it’s never been my strongest point) that the right thing to do was sign up for Homecoming.
Was it my intuition? My gut feeling? My inner child?
Or maybe it was the fridge wheezing and whining in that funny way it does sometimes… (do you know what I mean? Does yours do that?)
Whatever it was, I felt like I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t take notice, so I signed up.
I have not one single regret that I did. For me, it was life-changing, and yes, it was empowering. I needed it. And I was ready for it.
I’d been in a bad place for too long. And I’d made huge progress, but it was still a struggle, as I was kind of doing it on my own. Homecoming was the next thing in my healing journey (I know, so woo woo you can hear The KLF in the background! Or was that ‘mu mu’?)
So what’s it all about? The format of Homecoming
The format of the Seven Day Warrior Woman Challenge is basically a taster, a very condensed version, of Homecoming.
Each week there is a theme to concentrate on.
Nicky has brought together lots of practices that I was already aware of (vision boards and journaling and many more) – as I’ve always been interested in psychology and mindset, plus when you’ve hit rock bottom, you need to work on yourself to find out what went wrong and how to heal into a healthier version of yourself (oh yes!). But she has framed these tools into a very specific structure which is really clear to follow.
I didn’t say ‘easy’ because easy it isn’t. I was squirming around for much of the time as I was learning how to ‘feel’ again, really.
You are given your ‘homework’ at the beginning of each week which you work through on your own. Then you share part of it with the private Facebook group.
You laugh, you cry, you may even, as I did, discover and share things about yourself that have been buried deep down.
It’s devised in such a way that the weeks follow on in just the right order. You can’t learn about ‘Using your voice and setting boundaries’ (Week 5) before ‘Self-awareness and self-responsibility’ (Week 2).
Focus on your own Warrior Woman
At the beginning of the course, I found myself jumping onto the forum with advice to offer the other women… and trying to ‘rescue’ people. And this was actually one of the core take-aways from the course for me.
Why was I trying to rescue people? Because – at least in part – it took my focus off me.
Sometimes Nicky’s replies and advice to the women surprised me. For example, in very simplified terms, a participant was saying that she wanted to leave a ‘bad’ relationship, but it was hard. My jump-to response was, ‘Yes, get out of there!’ But Nicky’s replied that she should look inside herself and work out how she was reacting, what she was reacting to, how she could change her own behaviour… and just perhaps, the relationship would blossom again. Whether it did or didn’t isn’t really the point here.
The point is more about changing your own behaviour. And you need to know how you are behaving and why – what are your triggers? – before you can begin to change your own behaviour.
As I used to say, but not put into practice, ‘Put your own oxygen mask on first!’
There was a weekly meditation in the group and I found myself really looking forward to these Thursday night virtual get-togethers.
My little girl, who had trouble sleeping, walked in one time just as Nicky was saying ‘make sure that you are not going to be disturbed’. Nothing we had tried so far had helped Lily to fall asleep. So she curled up beside me. Within minutes she had lost herself to the soothing tones of Nicky’s invitation to ‘relax and welcome anything that comes up’… and very soon, she was peacefully sleeping.
Nourishment and cooking
Cooking lessons were part of the Homecoming package, and quite honestly, for me, this was a bit of a joke at first. My relationship with food has always been a struggle (i.e. I saw cooking as a necessary evil, if you have family – and something to be avoided, when alone). I was in for a surprise.
By the end of Homecoming, I can honestly say that my entire relationship with food had changed. I don’t claim to be a goddess in the kitchen these days and I still struggle sometimes, but I have made enormous progress and am enjoying (mostly) learning how to develop a healthy relationship with nourishment – and share these lessons with my children.
A whole Community of Warrior Women
Homecoming included membership of Nicky’s Warrior Woman Community (another Facebook group) which, since publishing this post, she has decided to leave due to her other engagements.
The Warrior Woman Community had a monthly theme, with journaling exercises and a monthly ‘Live’ coaching session given by Nicky.
I had never attended an online event such as this before, and was surprised by how intense it was. To be led in a meditation, knowing that women all over the globe are on the same vibe makes you feel connected.
Another wonderful (but scary, at first) part of being in this community is that Nicky organises a meet-up every now and then. I went to an event in London in November of last year. It felt really special to meet some of the women I’d (deeply) connected with during Homecoming, in person. Nicky led us for a couple of hours through meditations and other exercises. It was pure magic!
Homecoming costs a lot of money! But if you have that money, and if you are ready to really do some intense work on yourself, this could be the course for you. And if you pay the money, you’re going to do the work!
Nicky does teach about abundance, money and knowing your worth. At the end of the week’s challenge in 2019 she asked what could be ‘blocking’ us if we decided not to enrol in Homecoming after the challenge.
In my opinion, changing your mindset and welcoming abundance is possible but it takes time. There are huge shifts and changes involved. A single mother on benefits, for example, is – sadly – probably not going to be able to afford to enrol at that particular point in her life. I personally believe there is no ‘block’ to welcoming abundance in her case.
If you are a reader who can’t afford it – but who is drawn to it, I would urge you to use that magical word ‘yet’ at the end of the sentence. (I can’t afford it… yet.) And for the time being, work on your mindset. Work on yourself. Take steps towards self-care and always be super kind (to yourself, remember!).
We are all Warrior Women
And whatever your situation, I would urge you to…
…run a bath, light some candles. Treat yourself to things that feel like a ‘luxury’ and know that these moments will buoy you through life. Do this regularly. Relax with a meditation… or do whatever floats your boat. And if you don’t really know what that is, find out!
A few key lessons I learned during Homecoming
- Nourishment is so much more than just the food you put in your body.
- Bodywork does not necessarily mean pushing yourself harder!
- It is okay, no, actually, it is a good thing… to feel the whole spectrum of emotions, including pain and sadness.
- There is strength in vulnerability.
- You need to (gulp) ‘mother’ yourself.
- Everything you need is within you (already).
- You cannot control everything… you can only change yourself.
- Don’t try to protect others by not speaking your truth – it is doing you both a disservice.
- Healthy boundaries are worth working on.
- ‘Don’t go to the Hardware Store for milk’ – if you constantly go to the same person and hope they will give you something they haven’t been giving you so far, they probably aren’t going to give it to you now.
Don’t be a duck… Don’t go to the lemonade store for grapes 😉 – Thanks for that one, Gus 😊
Wrapping up the Warrior Woman
Going back to this year’s Warrior Woman Challenge, my little blip on Day 7, wasn’t, in fact, a blip.
It made me realise how I now put into practice some of the most important lessons from Nicky’s programme and maybe even (eyes widen, breath inhaled deeply) …from life.
I have learned how to recognise and accept my feelings.
I have learned how to be my own best friend, to support and nurture, like, love, encourage and trust myself. And I have even (widen eyes even further) found out what this whole mothering yourself thing means.
And it works.
If you decide to do Homecoming for yourself, there’s no doing it by halves. The work is powerful and becomes – for those eight weeks – an intimate and close part of you. By the end of it, you’ll have learned the tools you need to move forwards in your life with confidence, and once you’re ‘in’, you can redo the programme any time it’s running.
You’re a lifer. No going back. Once a Warrior Woman, always a Warrior Woman!
Mantra Music: Ong Namo by Snatam Kaur – A favourite in the Warrior Woman Community
Right then. I’d better dash, um, I mean, I’m just going to shimmy off in a peaceful and angelic fashion because… I’m running myself a bath…