Updated: Jan 24
As mums we are rarely present in the moment – we anticipate our children’s every need, which can feel like a never-ending treadmill of looking to the future, only to arrive and have something else arise. The feeling of never being ‘done’ and the endless ‘I’ll be happy when…’ pervades throughout our lives and often prevents us from appreciating the here and now.
On top of that, all too often we focus on trying to improve ourselves in some way - be more successful, better at parenting, relationships, work harder, earn more money - but in doing this we aren't acknowledging and celebrating how successful and amazing we are right now, in this moment.
In my clinics I see young people for support, but what I often observe is that behind that young person walking into my office is an exhausted mother. They share their guilt for not knowing how to support their child; that it’s their fault and they “should” know how to help them. In fact, none of these things are true. 99% of the mothers I meet are doing a great job - the problem is they are burnt out; they spend so long putting everyone else first they’ve forgotten who they are, what matters to them and how to think clearly or even make informed decisions .
After my treatment for Breast cancer ended in 2017 and I was juggling 2 toddlers and in a pretty tough place emotionally, a life coach asked me “what sparks joy? What do you love to do?” I burst into tears when she asked me this because it suddenly dawned on me that I had spent so many years doing things for or supporting other people, ensuring they were happy, and putting their needs first, I had no idea what my needs were, what I enjoyed and even who I was. Add in the horrendous emotional journey of medically induced menopause and I felt a fraction of myself and like I was fading away.
I was offered medication and talking therapies, but I declined because for me it was more than that - on paper my life was fine, I was now physically well, had started my own practice, had work coming in, my relationships were good - but a piece of me was missing and I was going crazy trying to figure out what that was. I needed to physically do something - to feel a sense of achievement, purpose and try to rediscover who I was away from everyone else.
In 2019 (after agreeing to it over a couple of gins at a neighbour’s party) I signed up to the London to Paris Bike Ride for charity. Don’t get me wrong I am no athlete, the last time I had ridden a bike it had stabilisers! But, somehow doing this was a huge turning point for me. I felt I had achieved something meaningful and for the first time in what felt like forever I felt proud of myself. Mentally I felt connected to myself again and a little piece of me returned.
Towards the end of 2022 I did it again – This time I took on the challenge of walking the Sahara Desert with 120 amazing women for a Breast Cancer Charity. This time the shift felt bigger. I was part of a community of wonderful people who had a shared purpose. I knew no one but that felt strangely freeing - I could be “me” … just me – there was zero contact with the outside world, no phones or social media, all my usual hats that identified me as a mum, wife, Psychologist, daughter, sister.... were flung off. I had time to reflect and think about what I needed, I rediscovered my wild side and belly laughed with these beautiful women until we cried, I felt safe enough to share moments of vulnerability. The trek was physically tough but “I had never felt so broken yet so healed” at the same time. I left a lot in the Desert and returned with life long friends.
“Self-care” is a term bandied around and we all acknowledge its importance but as women I think much of what we’re struggling with is bigger than just a bubble bath and scented candles - that's not what I'm talking about here. It’s deeper than that - it's about self-compassion and building a better relationship with ourselves. We want to feel appreciated, valued, to feel joy and connection to the people in our lives. We tend to look externally for these things, but nothing and no one can make us feel this but us! We must feel these things for ourselves and not rely on other people to change, we need to realise how amazing we are by stepping outside our comfort zone and achieving something for US. Once you allow yourself the time to be still and focus on yourself and step outside your normal parameters to rediscover who you truly are and what you can achieve, the result can be life changing and the impact will be felt by everyone around you.
Women & Wild Adventure Retreats has evolved from my personal experiences of overcoming difficulties, not only with my health but the day-to-day stresses and challenges of trying to be a good mother, wife, friend, colleague Psychologist! I wanted to 'bottle' how I felt on my journey and to be able to share how transformative it can be to take time away and give yourself space to reconnect to who you are, reignite your passions, rediscover your wild side and realise your strength and resilience.
Our adventures will be in nature with simple but cosy accommodation. We will be completely off-grid and phone-free, taking on tasks that challenge both physically and mentally. We will be led by a professional team, helping us navigate our way through obstacles and challenges. Leaving distractions behind, you will be stepping outside the normal parameters of life. Being in nature helps you focus on the present; you will process and work through anxieties or fears during the adventure that may have some parallels with your day-to-day life at home and be given time to reflect on this through journaling and group reflections around the firepit as well as meditations under the stars.
At the end you will leave feeling rested with a sense of achievement and clarity after reigniting and realising your potential, but most of all you will return with memories of laughing with a group of Wild Women who will likely become life-long friends.
To sign up to the mailing list for Women & Wild, visit this link. You'll be the first to hear about our upcoming adventures!