On being a teacher

I honestly didn’t know I had it in me to be a teacher. Teaching is standing in front of a classroom, surely? It’s exams and text books and grading. It’s what people with The Knowledge do and for the longest time I felt I had no knowledge. I had nothing to share. Yet I’m sitting here putting the finishing touches to my newest course — I am so proud of this one, I think it might be my best — and preparing the space for two more of my babies, and it just hit me that I am, in fact, a teacher.

Who knew?

I’ve been doing this running-of-courses thing for four years now (four!) and with every year that passes I get better at doing it. I know how to make an ecourse awesome. I know how to share information in a way that’s inspiring and encouraging. I know how to build online community. I know how to decant my passions into a course format and share them with others in a way that makes sense. And I really love doing it. I love writing and creating and sharing.

I still have wobbly moments when I wonder who am I to be teaching. But then I remind myself that I’m not teaching quantum physics or cake decorating, two subjects that are equally baffling to me :) No, I’m teaching the stuff that I know inside out. I’m also sharing the contents of my heart, I realised, as I wrote deeper into the journalling course.

When I was studying photography at college 20 years ago I had no idea that something called the internet would be invented, and digital cameras, and phones with cameras (how Buck Rogers is that?). When I was working as a journalist I didn’t know my writing skillz would eventually be shared on the internet for all to see (and without an editor, no less!) When I was healing my way through loss I didn’t know that the lessons I was learning, the unravelling I was doing, would be worth sharing with other women years later. On the internet.

It’s funny how things work out.

I honestly don’t take any of this for granted. I sometimes wonder what I’d be doing now if I hadn’t started a blog in 2006. That blog was the beginning of so much — it’s probably just as well I didn’t know that at the time. The other day someone asked me what I did for a living, and I ummed and ahhed as I usually do, because I never know how to explain what I do. But then I smiled and simply said: I write, I take photographs and I teach.

I think it’s time for me to claim the teaching thing. Which I guess makes this my coming out post ;-)


The spring sessions of Unravelling and Photo Meditations both start on Monday — I’ll leave registration open till Saturday in case you’d like to join us. Journal Your Life will run again in the summer xo

Unravel Your Story

It was while painting on a hillside in Italy that Megg, Sas and I came up with the idea for our retreat. It’s probably bit of a cliche dreaming up a retreat while ON a retreat, but being away from our routines for a few days gave us the space to think bigger. We talked about connections and soul work and how essential it is to take time out for yourself to keep you sane. We imagined bringing a group of women together in the autumn and sinking into the luscious English countryside, toasting crumpets by an open fire and napping before dinner. We pictured the healing that comes from sharing stories and digging into our life experiences. And the more we talked about it, the more excited we got.

So I’m delighted to announce that our dream has become real. In October 2013 we’ll gather with 27 women in a gorgeous manor house in the Somerset countryside for Unravel Your Story, five soul-nourishing days to get back to the heart of who you truly are. We’re bringing our three superpowers together to create an experience that will stay with attendees for years to come. I’m British so I don’t like to hype things up unnecessarily, but it’s going to be bloody brilliant :)

Plus, this is the only in-person teaching I’ll be doing this year so if you can join us I’d love to see you there!

Learn more about the retreat over here. Registration opens next Tuesday at 4pm GMT. Check your time zone here. x

Memories from the sea

This was the moment, when I spoke my wishes to the wind and threw a pebble into the ocean.

This is the dead house that we loved to photograph.

These are the women who made my week 100x more wonderful.

These are the sweet souls who took my class on the Thursday.

This is the moment we paused to make coffee.

The was when nature showed her true majesty.

This is how my class participants connected with each other.

This is how the day began, every day, for four days. Bliss.

These are the sweet souls who took my class on the Friday. We all loved Bettie.

This is peek at gallery night.

This is when Elizabeth danced in the ocean.

This is likely the last time I’ll have sand on my toes for a while…

Next stop… LONDON!

On balance…

Something I’ve been pondering lately is how to balance my publically viewable life (ecourses, blogging & now a book) with my private life (everything else). How do i give as much of myself as I can — for that is what I feel called to do — while also maintaining some boundaries? At a couple of the book events last month I was asked how I felt about sharing so much of myself online and in a book, and my answer each time was this: there is actually a LOT that I don’t share. I don’t know why i feel so comfortable sharing the way i do here. I don’t mind talking about PMS or grief, or whatever I’m chewing on in that moment. I like to share the realisations i have as i really value when other people share the same, so i hope that whatever I’ve realised will be helpful to someone else experiencing a similar situation. I guess being able to write in such an open and expressive way does make it seem like i’m spilling my guts all the time, but in all honesty there’s a lot I keep to myself. I mean… of course, right? If i shared the minutiae that fills my head you’d all have switched off by now :)

I talk about setting your own personal boundaries as a creative blogger in Blogging from the Heart. I think it’s important to know what you are willing — and not willing– to share online. For example, I decided early on that I didn’t want to share details of my relationship with my love, that i wanted this blog to be a chronicle of my new life rather than a memorial to the past. When i’m in my next relationship I will no doubt have new boundaries to define, sharing my experiences in a way that respects the privacy of my new partner. It’s all down to personal choice and your own comfort levels, another reason why I love blogging so much — we set our own rules!

The other side of my online existence is my business. It still blows my mind that i even HAVE a business, because that was never my intention. In fact, I don’t really see what i do as a “business” at all. I see it as another part of me, one that’s so integrated into who I am and how I feel I find it hard to separate the two. It’s amazing that we are living in a time when people like me, someone who had no biz skills whatsoever (i’ve had to learn the hard way) can find a way to pay her rent with the power of her MIND. Because that’s what it feels like sometimes. Sharing knowledge and experience is such a time-honoured profession, and add in the internet and shazam — a whole new way of working has been born. Online biz is all the rage these days and I say hallelujah to that — so many people, women especially, are finding ways to support themselves using their talents and strengths. It’s exciting new ground, and I’ll admit I have days when i worry it will all fall away and I’ll be completely stuffed, but for now I try to trust that if I follow what feels true to me — sharing what I know, working with absolute integrity always, being of service — then I’ll continue building something that has value in the world. This is my hope and my intention.