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WHY I LEFT INSTAGRAM

Why I left instagram

Back in 1999 I was one of the last people to get a mobile phone. Years later I was also one of the last people to get a Facebook account and one of the last people to get a smartphone. Even my parents, who at the time were in their late 60s, had smartphones before I did. My old job involved me travelling to a different location each and every time, so I used to hand draw my route on a scrap of paper (using Google maps on a desktop) and watch tentatively out the bus window, scanning nervously for my destination. I often missed my stop. I often got lost. All because I didn’t want a smartphone!

Why I left Instagram

Photo ~ Asim Bijarani

I knew in my bones that these ‘advances’ were more disadvantages, seemingly connecting us together more easily, but disconnecting us from ourselves more deeply. The more time our brains are ‘logged on’ to an online world, the less time we spend tending to our needs and emotions in the offline world, thus increasing our susceptibility to low moods, depression, despondency, anxiety etc

I knew all this as a teenager in the 90s but have experienced an insidious dissolving of my resolve as society seemingly ‘progresses’. Everything I knew would happen to my brain has happened, and it’s time to take my power back.

THE EXCHANGE WAS OFF

Why I left Instagram

My teacher David Elliott describes exchange as the flow of energy or consciousness given and received as energy, respect, value, appreciation and love. The reciprocity in my relationship with Instagram frequently felt off. I was pouring immense amounts of myself into it, sharing vulnerable pieces of myself, my wounding and my healed parts, transmuting my life energy into 2200 character posts and 24 hr stories. My expansive energy was being containerised.

screaming into a void

Photo ~ Greg Rakozy (Unsplash)

I was also warring against a living, breathing beast of an algorithm and people weren’t seeing or responding to my posts. I do what I do and I write what I write in the hope of connecting with people – to offer hope to the hopeless, to be witnessed and to witness, to be appreciated and to appreciate, to be heard and to hear. 

Sometimes this need and intention would be met, but more often than not I would be left feeling bereft and disjointed, like I was screaming love into a void. It’s very easy for us humans to feel discouraged in a vacuum, and Instagram was sucking the life force out of me.

MY LIFE THROUGH A FILTER

Why I left Instagram

Photo ~ Fredrik Solli Wandem (Unsplash)

Whilst I’ve always loved creating stories for Instagram and enjoyed the ensuing conversations, I became very aware that I was living in a self-created goldfish bowl. In sharing my joy I was subtracting from my own – I was removing myself from the present moment. Every experience, everything I saw with awe, became currency for content. I was documenting my life and it was depleting my life force. 

My mind became an Instagram filter, calculating whether everything I saw or experienced was either postable or not postable. I was living through a lens, rather than just living. Life had stopped being a felt experience and was more about how it looked through other people’s eyes.

ATTENTIONALLY CHALLENGED

Why I'm leaving instagram

Photo ~ Gaelle Marcel (Unsplash)

At one point I was spending 3+ hours a day on Instagram, under the guise of marketing and forming connections. The modern day equivalent of networking. That’s 3 hours actually on the app, but the time I spent on it mentally was so much more. If I wasn’t on it, I was thinking about it. Again, distracting me from the present moment. Filtering everything in my life for content. Wondering what I could write about next. Worried I would run out of ideas. Worried I wouldn’t get enough engagement. 
 
Instagram was like an app running in my brain – always online even when I was physically offline. An ever present white noise interrupting and disturbing my consciousness, repeatedly throughout the day.
 
Why I came off instagram

Photo ~ Max Cavallari ‘Loneliness’

I am deeply adverse to labels and definitely adverse to calling myself disordered, but for ease, I will explain my brain as an ADD brain. I’ve struggled with attention deficit issues all my life, often joking that I have the attention span of a gnat. I have the capacity for hyper-focus on an activity with deep meaning and resonance for me, but otherwise I can be flighty, foggy and unfocused.

The speed at which we scroll through social media, scanning the plethora of stimuli for something satisfying is a recipe for disaster for even the most stable of brains. (Studies show that in the last 20 years, our attention span has decreased from 12 to 8 seconds, which is less than a goldfish!) So dangle this dopamine dispensing device in front of an ADD/ADHD brain day in day out and it can feel like it’s breaking your brain. 

PRESSURE TO PERFORM

Why I left instagram

Getty images

It felt as if I’d been brainwashed into believing that my business couldn’t survive without Instagram. I’d even recently spent a small fortune on a ‘Build Your Instagram as a Business Asset’ course by a very reputable coach. But when there’s that level of importance attached to anything, particularly a social media platform, it can create a dangerous degree of dependence and a huge fear or anxiety of not being on it ‘enough’. 

If my business depends on Instagram, then surely I need to be working on it all the time? If I’m neglecting Instagram, then I’m neglecting my business, right? This created a constant pressure to show up, irrespective of whether I felt like it or not, and created an impending sense of doom and relentless guilt when I wasn’t showing up.

COMPARE AND DESPAIR

Why I left instagram
Before I was on social media I rarely indulged in a game of compare and despair. Even despite all my suffering I was always very rooted on my own path and rarely looked sideways. 
 
My experience on Instagram uprooted me in a rather unexpected and unwelcome way. I found myself frequently looking sideways and falling into the trap of comparing my insides to other people’s outsides, and comparing the beginning of my business journey with the middle of other people’s. Even with all the tools I’ve acquired over the years, this unappealing new habit often felt unavoidable. 
 
Reframing the platform as a source of connection and a way to meet new people definitely helped transform my relationship with it, but the low hum of inescapable exposure to other people’s highlight reels became exhausting. 
 

MY EMOTIONAL RAINBOW

Why I left instagram

Photo crop ~ Oladimeji Ajegbile (Pexels)

Being conscious of the impact Instagram was having on my emotional health did help to an extent, but it didn’t eliminate the fallout. 
 
As a business on Instagram there’s an expectation to relentlessly churn out content and this in itself can feel depleting. I was also not immune to the feelings of futility and despondency when my posts weren’t ‘liked’ enough. I know too well the limitations of instant gratification and my brain was not sufficiently resistant to the little red notifications designed to deliver a dopamine hit each and every time. And the perfunctory pops of pleasure are almost always interluded by periods of gloom.
 
Mood stability and freedom from emotional volatility have taken me a long time to achieve throughout my recovery, and my relationship with Instagram was starting to threaten that. 

All of this (and more) was all too often overwhelming me to a point where my brain just felt flooded. I was spending a considerable proportion of my life in a relationship that was not nourishing me – it was harming me more than it was helping me.

And so I’ve decided to walk away and see what happens. I already feel a full body exhale and a spaciousness within my soul, much like the feeling of coming out of a toxic relationship.

MY HOPE AND INTENTION

• To be more present in my life.

• To feel at a cellular level the wonder of a brand new shoot or an unfurling leaf. To feel the wind on my cheeks and really listen to the sound it makes rustling through the trees.     

• To experience more flow and ease with how I show up online for my business, and to create a routine and rhythm that work for me.

• For my attention span and focus to improve significantly. 

• For my time back, which will open the valve for more motivation, inspiration and ideas to flow in.  

• To re-root unwaveringly on my own path, without the incessant sideways glances.

• For a feeling of groundedness and connectedness in my own body, less attached to outcomes.

I have no idea how long this will last – whether it’s a break or the end – but I’m excited to see how my Instagram-free life will unfold.

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SELF-CARE | MORE THAN JUST A BUBBLE BATH

Self-care is a loving, compassionate journey of self-discovery – the conscious, deliberate attention to our needs and feelings, and the development of ways in which we can tend to them. 

With the practise of self-care, with the implementation of tools to nourish our souls, we have the capacity to rewire our brains and nervous systems. We can diminish the ways in which we are dominated by our patterning, our old beliefs, our conditioning, and gently, lovingly reconstruct our habits and our hearts, turning towards love, beauty, kindness and generosity – for ourselves, and each other.

Self-care in essence is the mindful taking of time to pay to attention to you, that ensures that you are being cared for by you. – Maria Baratta

self care nature

Dr Victoria Burns acutely observes the distinction, but interconnectedness, between self-care and self-soothing.

Self-care often involves doing the hard things (eg setting boundaries, health care appointments). Self-soothing helps us recover from doing the hard things.

WHAT SELF-CARE IS NOT

It can be particularly illuminating and helpful for our understanding of self-care to look at what it’s not.

Over indulgence 

It can feel so good to binge on Netflix for hours or eat a whole family-size bar of Galaxy caramel, but in essence, these are not acts of self-care. By numbing or escaping our feelings, we are actually contributing to more discomfort in the long run.

It can be really helpful here to consider the concept of ‘short-term gain & long-term pain vs. short-term pain & long-term gain’ – to consciously question ourselves about which of these categories our actions fall under.

Treats, play, and relaxation are absolutely all integral to our self-care, but it’s important to be conscious about the extent to which we are meeting these needs in preference to maybe some of our more prevalent needs eg. peace, ease or wholeness.

Avoidance

Again, this might feel like the easier option by means of its immediacy, but by retreating from life, from relationships, from responsibility, and deliberately evading conflict and difficult situations, we actually only prolong our pain and minimise our sense of wholeness and peace within.

Selfish

Nurturing our needs is essential for our growth, peace of mind and reducing the risk of physical and emotional pain and strain. Imagine if you neglected a plant – what would happen? It might shrivel, yellow, wilt and prematurely die without nourishment, light and water. We humans are living, pulsing, breathing beings, just like our plants. Neglect our needs and we too will emotionally shrivel, wither and waste away.

One off/ isolated actions

Self-care is an ongoing practise of building self-connection, emotional integrity, and resilience, resulting in the reduced possibility of burnout, fatigue and depletion. It requires consistency and perseverance in order to be effective.

Reactionary

Ideally self-care is not a reaction to illness, or an accumulation of stress, precipitated by external or internal circumstances.  The truest sense of self-care is an ever present, undercurrent of practises, internalised regularly with deliberate, gentle awareness.

self care what it is

HOW IT FEELS WHEN WE DON’T PRACTISE SELF-CARE

This list is an invitation for self-exploration. It is by no means conclusive or exhaustive.

Strained and Overstretched

Minimal self-care can contribute to elevated stress levels. Gabor Mate states that excessive stress occurs when the demands made on an organism exceed that organism’s reasonable capacities to fulfill them. Just like a rubber band will snap with excessive stress, so too will a human.

Fragile and Overly Sensitive 

Without rest, emotional safety or community, our internal resources may become depleted and our edges can feel frayed and frazzled. 

Overwhelmed and Volatile

In the absence of balance, support and stability, we can easily experience feelings of overwhelm, leading in turn to freezing and emotional shutdown, or explosiveness and volatility.

Angry and Resentful

Without freedom, autonomy, self-expression and self-authenticity, it’s very easy to fall down the rabbit hole of resentment and anger. Erin Telford explains the importance of speaking our truth (which is not necessarily ‘the’ truth), in order to live with alignment and integrity. If I’m not speaking my truth, if I’m saying yes when I mean no, I run the risk of encrusting resentment around my heart.

Ungrateful and Disconnected

Ignoring our need for love, connection, reciprocity and empathy can easily ripple into ingratitude, isolation and feelings of disconnection.

ACTS OF SELF-CARE

In addition to the obvious eating and sleeping right, drinking enough water, exercising, connecting with nature etc these are perhaps some of the less obvious ways to nurture yourself, but central to any self-care practise.

self care nature

Setting Boundaries

There is enormous power and autonomy in knowing our personal capacities and limitations, and it is within this space that our boundaries are rooted. Boundaries enable us to architect our own personal sanctuary, facilitating a life of more fulfillment, flow and alignment.

Areas that require the dedicated and diligent communicating of boundaries include: your time, the way you speak to yourself, your spiritual practise, your mental/ emotional/ physical space, the way in which other people speak to you/ treat you.

Self-Empathy and Compassion

This might be the most difficult, yet most potent, act of self-care. How many times a day do you ‘should’ yourself? eg. I should be able to cope with this. I should’ve known better. I shouldn’t have lost my temper. I should have responded differently. I should have said this. I shouldn’t have said that. I should be braver/ bolder/ stronger. I should be less emotional/ less needy/ less greedy.

Every time we ‘should’ ourselves we create an internal war in our psyche (M. J. Ryan), consolidating layers and layers of shame within our souls, and the effects of fortified shame are hugely toxic.

When we replace the ‘shoulds’ with self-love, immersing ourselves in compassion, non-judgment and open-hearted acceptance, we create fertile soil for healing. If we can hold space for our own pain and discomfort without shame, if we can meet all our emotions with curiosity instead of ferocity, we are providing ourselves with the utmost, almighty care.

Cultivating a Conscious Relationship with your Self-Talk

The often relentless, tyrannical voice of our inner critic can have a devastating impact on our wellbeing, so developing a gentle, loving relationship with that voice can be transformative. Transmuting the score of self-criticism and shame to one of compassionate cheerleading and support IS possible but requires persistence and commitment.

Releasing ‘Bad’ Habits & Creating New Ones

Humans are essentially a collection of habits – habitual thinking, behaviour and actions. We have healthy habits and we have not so healthy habits. It’s integral here to bring in boundless amounts of self-love and compassion, and know that our ‘bad’ habits don’t make us bad people.

Behind each habit is a need and a reward (Charles Duhigg), and by deciphering what these are, it can help us create new ones.

For example, the need behind ‘mindless scrolling’ might be for connection, or for inspiration, or for beauty, but it may leave us feeling lonely, fatigued, and insecure, and like we’ve been sucked into a time vacuum! To create new habits we can identify the needs we’re requiring to be met, and develop some new behaviours to meet these needs instead. If I’m needing connection, I could text or call a friend instead. If I’m looking for inspiration, I could read or listen to a podcast. If I’m needing beauty, I could go for a walk in nature with my camera.

Our needs are varied and run deep. With a little playful experimentation and lashings of love, it is possible to create new habits to meet our needs, rooted in self-care, rather than self-neglect.

*When habits become addictions, there is help and community out there to support you. My own experience with addiction (drink, drugs, self-harm) has shown me that recovery is possible, that we do have the capacity to change our habits.

 

Connection & Community 

Part of practising self-care is in the seeking and cultivating of meaningful connections with others. We all have an innate need to be seen, to be heard, to be understood, and to feel like we matter; these needs cannot be met in isolation. We flourish when we experience a sense of belonging within a community, where we can be witnessed and appreciated for our true, uncensored selves.

self care community

Saying Yes

Sometimes, self-care involves doing the hard thing, the thing we don’t ‘want’ to do. Excuses and procrastination can feel easier than doing the ‘thing’, but for the relief, the release, the growth and the spaciousness it creates, it’s so worth it.

Inactivity, sloth and isolation, or conversely compulsive over-working and organising, can feel so much more appealing than nurturing ourselves. But sometimes saying yes to that self-care commitment, saying yes to that coffee with a friend, saying yes to that yoga class or women’s circle, is exactly what our soul needs.

Creativity

We are inherently creative beings, vibrating with creative life force energy. To stifle that is to stifle ourselves. Birthing something out of nothing is to express our innermost selves, fosters a deep sense of presence and purpose, and meets our needs for achievement, vitality and spontaneity.

WAYS TO IMPLEMENT SELF-CARE

The ways in which we practise self-care, the patchwork of tools we use to facilitate all of the above, are probably as wide and varied as there are humans.

I’m a firm believer in finding what works for you, approaching each technique with as much openness, willingness, honesty and vulnerability as possible.

1:1 support and/or immersion in a healing community are indispensable. Healing circles for me are heart medicine, providing a safe harbour for our souls, and the strength, support and inspiration for solo practises. 

self care womens circle

Circles provide care & sustenance, each a much needed commodity and energetic infusion for our hearts, minds, and spirits. In Circle we may experience deep inspiration, find healing for parts of ourselves seeking answers to our questions, and we can relearn important lessons or find new ideas about our lives. We learn to listen deeply to poignant stories, we witness the full spectrum of human emotions, we learn to hold space and allow feelings and emotions to enter the healing circle, and we honor the ability to transform in circle and to be transformed. – Marilyn Wilson

JOURNAL PROMPTS FOR SELF-CARE

Exploring the ways in which we practise self-care and unraveling our resistance to it, via journaling, can be an illuminating exercise in itself.  

Self-exploration is always an invitation for self-compassion over self-judgment, for self-love over self-criticism. Go gently and go slowly.

  • Do you prioritise self-care every day?
  • If not, what obstructs you from practising self-care?
  • In what ways do you currently practise self-care?
  • What new ways might you introduce to practise self-care?
  • How do you feel when you don’t practise self-care?
self care journal
Olivia is passionate about all things healing. Having spent the last 11 years on a personal recovery journey from substance abuse and self-harming, she has a uniquely gentle and compassionate insight into this world.
She believes that connection with others and connection with ourselves is at the root of all healing and uses different modalities to explore this essential truth – breathwork, healing circles,  creative arts, 1:1 spiritual mentorship. 

** To join The Journal Circle if you’re in the US, click here.

*Alcoholics Anonymous UK – 0800 9177650 // Narcotics Anonymous UK – 0300 9991212
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FREE HEALING CIRCLE FOR SOBER WOMEN IN RECOVERY

It is with the deepest joy and excitement that I bring to you my FREE online healing circles for Sober Women in Recovery.

I’m now in my 12th year of recovery and as my own healing has deepened, so many new and exciting paths have opened up for me. My wish is to remain deeply embedded in this wondrous journey and to be able to share it with you.

Each circle is lovingly crafted around a spiritual theme eg. Self-Love, Self- Trust, Boundaries, and held around the New Moon. The circles are 90 mins long.

sober women circle

MARCH 2021 CIRCLE

  • Saturday 13th March 2021
  • 5.30-7pm UK 
  • Theme: Self-Trust

Through an intricately woven sequence of meditation, sharing, journaling and ritual, we will explore together the theme of Self-Trust –

  • what it means to us personally
  • what blocks us from trusting our intuition
  • how to cultivate a deeper connection with ourselves

This circle is designed to create a very warm, loving and deeply nurturing space, in which you are free to share as much or as little as you are comfortable with.

It is a space to show up and allow ourselves to be held and witnessed as we truly are. A space in which we can drop our masks and just be our glorious, shining, authentic, wounded, brilliant selves.

It is a space for connection, conversation, understanding, and love.

TESTIMONIALS

Olivia’s circle was very calming, very open and very safe. The experience was extremely powerful as I can now see a glimpse of the self-love that I have. Thank you for helping me see that glimmer. – Vanessa A.

Olivia’s cheery and calm disposition instantly made me feel relaxed. The circle was very cathartic for me, allowing me look at things I’d previously swept under the carpet. It felt deeply meaningful and so worthwhile. – Emma B.

sober womens circle

FREE TICKET

My intention is to keep my circles small, with a maximum of 11 spaces available. This ensures that everyone is gifted the opportunity to share with their voice, not just the chat box. It also ensures a more intimate and trusting space.

To claim your FREE space in my next healing circle for Sober Women in Recovery, simply register here.

The Zoom link for the circle will then be emailed all attendees.

I’m so looking forward to welcoming you.

All my love,

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THE JOURNAL CIRCLE – UNLOCK YOUR OWN INNER POWER

journal circle header

Welcome to the newest tier of my Patreon.

 The Journal Circle – is a magical, empowering journaling-based sisterhood circle.

  • Discover the magic of guided journal prompts
  • Unlock your own inner power
  • Connect deeply with yourself
  • Experience the support of a loving community with like-minded individuals

Each month centres around a spiritual theme eg. releasing, self-love, boundaries.

The theme is then experienced and explored with journal prompts, a playlist and a full moon circle. 

THE JOURNAL CIRCLE

Every month you will receive

  • Daily journal prompts
  • A monthly playlist
  • Membership to the monthly full moon circle

DAILY JOURNAL PROMPTS

journal prompts

You will receive daily journal prompts , released every Sunday for the coming week, lovingly crafted around the monthly theme.

Why use prompts? Why not just use free association writing, or just write about your feelings?

Whilst it is hugely important to explore and honour our shadow and our darkest thoughts, it is also equally important to access our light. Sometimes this is difficult to do on our own or unguided, so journal prompts will lovingly, gently guide you back to your true self, your light within.

Journal prompts are an invitation to explore the hidden parts of you. You will be guided to question, reflect and investigate parts that might otherwise not be reached.

Writing from our hearts in response to prompts can bypass our busy minds and overactive thoughts. It’s a truly magical way to connect to the deepest parts of you.

self love journal prompts 1

The journal prompts will mostly use ‘I’ instead of ‘you’, as in my experience, this deepens the resonance when reading them.

The prompts are of course just a guide, and can be rephrased and reworked to suit you. I’m a big believer in finding what works for you.

MONTHLY PLAYLIST

Each month you will receive a Spotify playlist centred around The Journal Circle theme.

These are created from my heart to yours, with the intention of gently holding you, while you hold space for yourself. 

Do expect a lot of Beautiful Chorus ( who doesn’t adore swimming in their exquisite harmonies?!) and an abundance of other heart-centered artists.

MONTHLY FULL MOON CIRCLE

journal prompts

Each month you are invited to attend an online full moon circle, with other members of The Journal Circle (and also The Soul Library).

This will foster a deep sense of support and trust within an intimate, loving community.

The format each month will vary, but will include a lovingly crafted combination of meditation, creative activities, journaling and sharing.

You will be free to participate as actively or as passively as you are comfortable with.

Any questions at all, please feel free to ask!

Drop me an email at olivia@arttohearthealing.com or find me on Instagram or Facebook.

Can’t wait to hear from you! All my love, 

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THE SOUL LIBRARY – A UNIQUE HEALING CIRCLE FOR BOOK-LOVERS & SELF-HEALERS

Since announcing my brand new membership for THE SOUL LIBRARY  I’ve received a few questions about it. 

This post covers how long each session is and how often it’s held, why it’s weekly, what kind of books we read, and the group guidelines.

HOW LONG IS EACH SESSION, & HOW OFTEN?

We meet once a week for 1.5 hrs.

WHY WEEKLY?

Growth & healing require commitment – deep, long-lasting commitment to oneself. Being part of a weekly circle is a loving, gentle reminder to stay on this path.

I adore one-off sessions & monthly circles, but in my experience, they are not sufficient to bring about lasting change. I might experience connection, internal shifts and profound insights, but without sustained daily practise, regular reminders and consistent support, I would not be able to implement change.

self healers community

When trying to change old patterns & deeply ingrained habits that no longer serve us, it is often only through the consistent repetition of new behaviours that make this possible. Doing this in community can make the whole process feel more digestible, manageable and tangible. 

Our old neural pathways are deeply entrenched and never disappear completely – we need to create new ones. Establishing a new indelible imprint requires perseverance and a tender tenacity, which with the regular support of a group, becomes a much softer, more manageable practise.

Our healing and inner work is endless, which can sometimes feel intimidating and self-defeating. We don’t tend to reach a plateau of perfection.

By regularly ‘doing the work’ in an intimate community, we are gifted a deeply nurturing, nourishing flotation device whilst we do it.

sisterhood circle

Please know there is NO obligation to attend weekly 💛

Many people choose to attend 2 or 3 times a month instead.

But the option is there, to attend every week. I will be there, holding space and available for you.

IS IT ONLINE?

Yes, on Zoom. So the circle is open internationally! 

We will find a day & time to suit all time zones – currently looking at a start time of 5-7pm Monday-Saturday.

WHICH BOOKS DO YOU READ?

All our books fall under the spiritual/ self-development genre. Each one is selected by the group from a poll.

In my current group, we have read/ are reading:

 • Women who Run with the Wolves – Clarissa Estes

 • The Body Keeps the ScoreBessel van Der Kolk

 • The Inner Child Workbook – Cathryn L Taylor

 • The Wisdom of Anxiety – Sheryl Paul

 • A Return to LoveMarianne Williamson

spiritual book club

HOW DO YOU IMPLEMENT BOUNDARIES IN THE GROUP?

We have some very gentle guidelines that ensure that whilst the conversation is flowing, everybody feels safe, is heard equally, and feels they can share without being judged.

• When someone is sharing, please allow them the space to do so and refrain from interrupting.

• After someone has shared, please refrain from offering advice. Our ‘MO’ for sharing is to share our experiences, never to offer opinion or advice (unless specifically asked for)

• Please be mindful of the length of time you share. Everyone should have the same opportunity to share.

These gentle guidelines really create a safe, intimate space where everyone can feel comfortable.

EXCHANGE

Membership of THE SOUL LIBRARY is priced at £21.50/ month.

Or a combined membership of THE SOUL LIBRARY & THE JOURNAL CIRCLE is £25.50/month.

𝗟𝗜𝗠𝗜𝗧𝗘𝗗 𝗦𝗣𝗔𝗖𝗘𝗦 𝗔𝗩𝗔𝗜𝗟𝗔𝗕𝗟𝗘 𝗙𝗢𝗥 𝗣𝗘𝗢𝗣𝗟𝗘 𝗢𝗡 𝗟𝗢𝗪 𝗜𝗡𝗖𝗢𝗠𝗘.
I don’t want money to be an obstacle. If any of my offerings resonate with your heart and you’d love to join but money isn’t flowing right now, please message me and we’ll work something out based on what you can afford. I’d love to welcome you, and I know what it’s like to have a low income/ live below the poverty line.

Any questions at all, please just ask! Drop me an email here.

I’m so looking forward to welcoming you,

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*NEW* THE SOUL LIBRARY – A BOOK-LOVERS WEEKLY HEALING CIRCLE

At the end of this year, I will be introducing THE SOUL LIBRARY – weekly healing circles where we journey through soul-nourishing, spiritual books together.

Our aim is not to ‘fix’ ourselves, but to make peace with the ebbs and flows of growth, of life and transitions, of being human.

In a world that seems saturated with courses and workshops that promise to fix you in a matter of hours or weeks, this circle acknowledges that the commitment to our growth and inner work is endless. We come together in circle to honour and hold space for ourselves and each other.

Livi olivia healing circle ad poster ps soul library

 • We meet once a week in a deeply nourishing, safe and loving (virtual) space, to discuss spiritual & self-development literature.

 • We read beautiful books* at a very gentle pace, sharing with each other our experiences and insights about what we’ve read each week.

 • We explore and discuss spiritual ideas, concepts and practical exercises.

 • You will be given the opportunity to share openly and freely in an attentive, non-judgmental environment.

 • You will be listened to, supported and held unconditionally.

*(We select the books as a group – each of which fall under the spirituality and self-development genre.)

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This is a community where our stories no longer have to be swallowed, they can be shared.

We show up as our glorious, shining, authentic, wounded, imperfect selves and come together to form a truly unique healing circle.

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 • Day & time TBC – currently looking at Mondays 7pm GMT London time. (This could possibly change to accommodate more people if necessary.)

 • Limited to 8 spaces – this allows us to build trust and intimacy within the group.

HOW TO DECIDE IF THE GROUP IS FOR YOU

This women’s healing circle could be for you if:

  • you feel alone in your personal development journey and yearn for support as you take steps to grow
  • you long for a community of like-minded individuals, also committed to their spiritual growth, but don’t know where to find them
  • you read spiritual/ self-development books already and wish you had people to discuss them with
  • you sometimes struggle to find the motivation to take the actions you know will help you
  • you crave gentle, non-coercive encouragement to stay focused on your personal growth
  • you like to read spiritual/ self-development books, but often skip past the exercises as you’ve no one else to inspire and energise you
  • you feel shy in groups of strangers/ sporadic healing circles & need familiarity and connection to share your vulnerable side
  • you belong to a 12 step fellowship and wish to read more spiritual literature to expand and deepen your existing practises
blog me quote 2

REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK

This is a replica of a group I already run, but which is now at full capacity. It’s been such a beautiful experience for everyone involved so I felt drawn to creating a new one.

Here is what some of the current members of my womxn’s healing circle have to say about belonging to the group:

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blog ginny quote 1

HOW TO BOOK

Membership of THE SOUL LIBRARY is priced at £25.50/ month and is available exclusively through my Patreon.

  • I will be creating a special tier for the group as soon as all 8 spots are filled. This entitles you to all the rewards of my other tiers, in addition to membership of the healing circle.
  • To secure your spot beforehand, a £10 deposit is required. There are only 8 spaces available. Please email me for details how to pay, or DM me on instagram. (Deposit refunded once Patreon subscription is made.)

Any questions at all, please just ask! Drop me an email here.

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YOU ARE FUCKING AMAZING | BRAND NEW SOBRIETY CARDS

After months of quite frankly an extremely emotionally draining lockdown, I have re-emerged from my cocoon and re-entered my studio! 

It had been my intention for a long time to extend my range of sobriety celebration cards, and I’ve now added four more sobriety cards to my collection.

YOU ARE FUCKING AMAZING

‘You are fucking amazing’ greeting card – click here to buy

The first card is not exclusively for those celebrating sobriety milestones. It can apply to absolutely anyone who is quite simply, fucking amazing! Or it can be for you, from you 💖

If you’ve survived the last few months, you are fucking amazing.

If you’re still trying to get through this, one day at a time, you are fucking amazing.

If you’re committed to your healing journey, despite how much pain you may be in, you are fucking amazing.

If you’re trying to shift your mindset from shame and judgement to compassion and curiosity, you are fucking amazing.

If you keep picking yourself back up after you fall, you are fucking amazing.

If you’re feeling your feelings, or even trying to, you are fucking amazing.

If you have reached out to ask for help, even when it was the last thing you wanted to do or felt capable of, you are fucking amazing.

If you’ve had to exercise flexibility and adaptability when these things don’t come easily to you, you are fucking amazing.

If you’ve managed to limit your scrolling for even a short period of time, you are fucking amazing.

If you’ve managed to unclench your heart and loosen your grip on old, unhelpful ideas and beliefs to allow space for new ones, you are fucking amazing.

HAPPY SOBRIETY BIRTHDAY

‘Happy sobriety birthday’ greeting card – click here to buy

I wanted to create a gloriously bright and sunny yellow sobriety card and after months of thinking about it, it finally came to fruition.

This was the first piece I created with the inks after a 6 month absence from my studio. It was made with alcohol inks on ceramic tile, scanned into my computer at high resolution, then collaged butterflies and text added later in Photoshop.

SOBER AS FUCK

‘Sober as fuck’ greeting card – click here to buy

This one pretty much does what it says on the tin! For all your sober as fuck, sober AF buddies and loved ones out there, help them celebrate their enormous achievement with this beautifully vibrant rainbow card. Blank inside (as are all my cards) for your personal message.

YOU’RE A FUCKING MIRACLE

‘You’re a fucking miracle’ greeting card – click here to buy

Any addict/ alcoholic who gets sober is a fucking miracle. It’s literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done and still, 11 years in, I’m constantly in awe of others people’s recovery journeys.

When you’re so deeply entrenched in a pattern of self-destructive habits and you find a way out and a way to heal, it’s truly miraculous. So many people don’t and it’s utterly heartbreaking.

If you know one of the lucky ones, please celebrate them. Addiction is an illness, not a choice. To recover really is a miracle and takes work every single day.

 

For Olivia’s full range of sobriety cards, shop here.

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UNSUNG HEROES OF COVID-19 | LGBT & ADDICTION SUPPORT

With the temporary closure of in-person meetings during lockdown, all addiction recovery groups have been forced to migrate online. Zoom meetings are now the ‘new normal’, with AA meetings, support groups and counselling all taking place in this format.

I questioned how ‘behind-the-screen’ connection could possibly be an adequate substitute for the real thing, but from my own experience and witnessing that of others, I have been reassured that my doubts were largely and surprisingly unfounded.

The adaptability and resilience of addicts in recovery consistently leaves me awe-struck and deeply, deeply inspired. Their ability to lean into uncertainty and dive into new territory with so much strength and grace always amazes me, and I wanted to celebrate these wondrous cape-less heroes. 

I spoke to Simon, a Dramatherapist, drug & alcohol counsellor, and  LGBT meeting facilitator, who in 3 months time will celebrate 13 miraculous years of sobriety. His capacity to meet a situation that looked like it might defeat us and transform it into an opportunity for more growth and healing is truly inspirational.

Simon – an unsung hero of Covid-19 – doing extraordinary things for the recovery community

You describe yourself as a Drama Therapist. Drug and alcohol counsellor. LGBT meeting facilitator. Please could you tell us about what these involve.

Dramatherapy is a form of  psychotherapy. It powerfully fuses the therapeutic process with the creative arts, in order to help heal inner wounds and trauma. Many of these wounds may have developed in childhood, and so the practice also involves working with and healing the inner-child.

Dramatherapy works differently from traditional talk therapy by bypassing the cognitive and analytical thought processes, instead connecting directly to the unconscious, where hidden aspects and ’shadow’ parts remain obscured. Working with stories, myths, the body, character and play, these parts can be projected, explored, expressed and re-integrated to help the reparent the whole self. I work both individually with clients, and with groups.

As a dramatherapist who specialises in addiction and  LGBT mental health,  my work is specifically focused on helping these two minority groups find recovery of their wounded-parts, to help overcome their ‘inner-demons’.  

As well my work as a dramatherapist,  I also work in a rehab as an addiction counsellor and talk therapist, and also facilitate a gay men’s discussion group called A Change Of Scene – as well as facilitate a private gay men’s talk therapy group. Most of my individual and group work has been moved on to Zoom during Covid-19.  

Simon’s weekly group therapy sessions are now running on Zoom

What did a normal work day look like for you, before the pandemic? 

A day was split both between my private practice, and my work in rehab – both of which I love very much.  Usually, it meant lots of travelling to and from South London to where the rehab is based  – to Central London where my private practice is. It’s usually a very full week! And then in between that, there were regular meetings for my own recovery at the Soho Recovery Centre.  I live pretty centrally between these places, so by the time I got home, I had dinner and went straight to bed!

The Soho Recovery Centre – a dedicated space in the heart of London for 12-Step recovery meetings, temporarily closed due to Covid-19.

How has this been affected by lockdown? What changes have there been in terms of your role and daily structure?

A few weeks into lockdown I was furloughed from my rehab. Understandably, the daily working practices there changed, with no new residential in patients or day/ clients being taken in.

I’ve been very fortunate that my private work has continued, and moved on line.  Actually,  I’ve had more enquiries from new clients during lockdown.  I think that’s because people’s mental health has obviously been affected by this whole process.   Obviously I’ve had to make sure I look after my own mental health and recovery too.  I continue to do meetings online myself, as well as attend various workshops,  meditations and yoga – all on zoom – which have really helped keep me grounded.

What have you found to be the biggest challenges of lockdown so far?

I think the isolation.  For both LGBT people, and recovering addicts, isolation and anxiety can often seem like a normal part of life.  There is a often true desire to connect, but perhaps a fear of intimacy for so many of us – with many experiencing rising levels of anxiety.  Really I think this is what addiction is,  an escape or  attempt  to cover-up and numb very painful feelings and anxiety we may have about ourselves, and our difficulty in connecting to others.  

Often addicts and many LGBT people are highly sensitive. I believe that’s what so many of us have in common –  our sensitivity, which can be a gift. But because our sensitive nature also be experienced as intensely overwhelming, we might use alcohol, drugs,  shopping, food, sugar, sex, work, codependency, relationships – or  whatever else it may be for you – to escape it.  

In recovery and the therapeutic process, the limbic brain needs to be around others – especially like minded souls. We crave it, and may not even realise it. This is why group therapy, and fellowships in recovery, tend to work so well. They allow the limbic brain, which may have been traumatised, the chance to heal by connecting with others. It is the nature of the ‘herd instinct’ in all mammals. We were not intended to be alone.

Of course in lockdown, where imposed  isolation has been enforced, it can be devastating for people in recovery (as well as anyone else trying to improve their mental health to stay connected). Loneliness, fear, grief, loss, depression. They are experienced by sensitive people at alarmingly high levels. 

Has there been a silver lining of lockdown? What joys/ blessings/ lessons have you and your clients experienced?

Yes absolutely.  Some have talked about feeling like they have been in their own private rehab!  It’s been a unique chance to be with their feelings, without the usual distractions and business of life. By staying connected to online meetings, recovery and therapy, many have gone through huge shifts and transformations in their lives over the last few months. Generally, I think it has given people a real opportunity to slow down and take stock of their lives.  

I have been witness to many people finding their way in to recovery or being able to ask for help and support for the first time.  I was very grateful, as were others, when recovery fellowships began appearing so fast on Zoom. For those in and seeking recovery, it has meant the difference between sobriety and relapse – literally life and death during this time.
 

Obviously lots of people will have been affected by Covid – physically, emotionally and financially. And devastatingly, many have lost loved ones.  I can’t begin to imagine what this must be like.  I’m always very mindful of this process of gain for some, and loss for others.

I think there’s been a collective grieving process going on. The loss of life, culture, routine, society, commerce, economic structure and so on. As we come out of lockdown, there’ll be another process to come as we try to re-intergrate back to life and a new kind of acceptance. But there may be denial, anger, bargaining and depression to work through too. 

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How are you being supported? How are you looking after yourself and your recovery?

For me, I think getting the balance right between my own recovery, and being able to support other people is vital. As quite a busy person professionally, it’s been wonderful for me to slow down and be with myself more.

Like many people, I have missed being around people I love –  friends, family and my home group meetings especially. I have been attending recovery meetings online which has really worked for me.

Also – just after lockdown began I got the app Disney+.  That was a real gift for my inner child!  I must have literally gone through the entire Disney back catalogue from Snow White to Inside Out!

What have you learned about yourself throughout this experience?  

That my own inner-child needs more time to play. I’ve realised that he really loves – and is quite good at – jigsaw puzzles! 

What are you looking forward to most after this all ends?

Being able to hug my friends and family. Friday night curry after work. Scented candles from Muji. Coffee in Old Compton Street watching the world go by. And a night out at the movies. 

Simon facilitates a weekly gay men’s discussion group called A Change Of Scene, now on Zoom

For more info you can contact Simon at simon.marks@thepractice.org.uk or find out more about his work at  www.thepractice.org.uk 

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TO ALLOW OR TO WALLOW – WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

To allow or to wallow… what’s the difference?

Just one letter. One tiny letter with huge significance.

How do we make the distinction between wallowing and allowing our feelings? Should I allow my feelings when they’re based on cognitive distortions/ faulty beliefs? 

Thoughts create feelings. So should I allow my distorted thoughts to create distorted feelings? By allowing these distortions am I then wallowing?

There is this trend at the moment encouraging us to allow all of our feelings, but I think there is an extremely fine line between allowing and wallowing. I invite you (and remind myself) to tread very cautiously with this paradigm.

Absolutely acknowledge your feelings with gentleness and self-compassion. Meet them with love and hold space for yourself. Place your hand on your heart and tell yourself that you are listening. Denial after all is no one’s friend.

But then gently investigate your thoughts that preceded the feelings.

I can experience feelings of sadness, anger, overwhelm etc that all feel hugely justifiable and valid, but if I skate on the thin ice of allowing too long, I invariably fall through the cracks into the icy waters of wallowing.

So allow but investigate. Challenge the thoughts that led to the painful feelings.

Have I been outsourcing my strength and power?
Have I been fearful of not getting what I want?
Have I been fearful of losing something I have?
Has a situation or person not turned out the way I thought it/they ‘should’?
Are things not going ‘my way’?
Am I indulging in black and white thinking?
Am I being single minded, obsessive and unable to see the wood for the trees?
Am I believing my own inner critic?
Am I trying to manage someone else’s life, thinking I know what’s best for someone who isn’t me?
If everyone is pissing me off, am I considering who the common denominator is?
 
Meet your fear and disappointment and anger and frustration with an open heart. Let go of self-condemnation and self-expectations and be sure to drop all those ‘shoulds’! Nurture yourself and practise self-empathy.
 
But then investigate. Release your tears and explore with curiosity. Journal, meditate, sing, dance, create, bake. Whatever works for you.
 
Thoughts are thoughts. They don’t represent truth but they do create feelings and those feelings can feel very true.
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Red flags for when we’re wallowing rather than allowing:  
 
  • Self-pity and resentment 
  • Self-righteousness & justifying anger
  • Endless thought loops – stagnating in the same thoughts
  • Feelings of resistance to flow and growth
When we’re allowing:
 
  • Curiosity about our thoughts, rather than self-criticism
  • Self-compassion & gentleness
  • Self-responsibility over blaming others
  • Openness to lessons and growth
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UNSUNG HEROES OF COVID-19 | ONE RECOVERING ADDICT HELPING ANOTHER

Addiction stops for nothing. It doesn’t wait. It doesn’t choose its time. It can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of age, race, gender, corona virus or no corona virus. So what happens to those addicts reaching rock bottom, ready for recovery when there’s a global pandemic and the world is in lockdown?

There are no in-person AA/ NA meetings at the moment but there are rehabs still open. Rehabs admitting addicts at the start of their recovery journey in desperate need of help. And it is only because of the wondrous heroes working in those rehabs that this is possible.

I wanted to speak to those people, going about their – quite literally – life-saving jobs in spite of corona virus. Jobs that are utterly essential and entirely under-appreciated. Jobs requiring immeasurable empathy, humility and love and where social distancing isn’t always possible.

I spoke to Pete, a recovering addict who has just celebrated 3 years clean! His role as a support worker in a rehab includes accepting admissions, clinical observations, distributing medication, maintenance of client records, general welfare and support, and under normal circumstances, accompanying clients to 12 step meetings.

There’s an unmatched resilience and capacity to adapt in adverse circumstances that often shines through in a recovering addict, and I believe Pete embodies this beautifully. 

What did a normal day look like in the rehab, before the pandemic?

Work starts at 7.30am with a handover from night staff. We would get clients up at 8am for meds and breakfast, then clients go into groups all morning. We are left to clear up breakfast and empty cups. Lunch is at 12.30pm, meds at 1pm. Groups start again at 2pm and we clear up lunch. We complete patient notes during the afternoon. Tea is at 5.30pm, meds at 6pm. We also clear up tea and finish the day at 7.30pm, with a handover to night staff.

Groups include workshops on addiction, co-dependency, 12 steps, SMART, ACT, group process, check ins and check outs, music groups, art groups, and counselling workshops and therapies.

How has this been affected by lockdown? What changes have there been in terms of staffing, your role and daily structure?

There was a decrease in admissions at the peak of lock down but as we have put screening processes in place the numbers are creeping up again. People need help and we continue to provide that. We just have to safeguard clients and staff alike.

Not much has changed in our daily structure though, as we try to keep things running smoothly and as normally as possible for residents.

However, there are no visitors to the centre for residents now & we don’t take residents into town or 12 step meetings. They have to engage in meetings online a couple of times a week. 

They can go on socially distanced walks once or twice a week. We have precautions in place for admissions, and carry out health checks on everyone regularly to keep an eye on any changes in wellness. There are staff off due to the lockdown, so we are having to fill in for them the best we can.

How are the residents coping with no visits, and how are they finding online meetings? 

They are mostly new during lockdown so are used to no visits at the moment. But yes it can be challenging not seeing loved ones during a difficult time in their lives. We just support and explain the current climate and they do understand. We make sure they can have phone/ video contact when they need to. They are taking part in the meetings on their phones or tablets. Some take to it regularly, some not so well, but no more than regular meetings. People will always fight against meetings in early recovery so no different here!

What have you found to be the biggest challenges of lockdown so far?

Keeping an eye on our own health I think. And trying to balance health with wealth! If I have time off how do I pay bills if on sick pay only? I had to have a couple of weeks off as I was worried about my health as I have asthma. Now we can get furloughed so its not as big a worry if I become ill. I have now used a home test kit for the virus and hope we are a bit safer in the management of the illness.

Has there been a silver lining of lockdown? What joys/ blessings/ lessons have you and the clients experienced?

We have all been up for the challenge. We have spent a lot more 1 on 1 time with clients and the whole virus situation has brought us together as a team.

1 on 1 time is spent carefully! The facility is quite cosy. We have a lounge and outside smoking area (I don’t smoke) and we just spend the day with clients as they live their rehab lives. Sometimes we chat in the office or in a therapy room.

Pete connects to NA meetings via zoom

How are you being supported? How are you looking after yourself and your recovery?

I continue to take part in online NA meetings and help with service in the function of those meetings. I don’t mind them. When the lockdown happened and our NA meetings stopped at the church, we very quickly jumped online and adapted really well. A blessing of all this is we are connecting all over the world and are connecting with each other a lot more. I really pray we continue with this unity when its ‘business as usual’!

I also continue with my step work and connect with my sponsor and friends almost daily. Work supports with our recovery and understands when we must take time to get well.

What have you learned about yourself throughout this experience? 

I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with myself. I have a meditation program in my life which I lacked before. Spending time alone and with myself and my feelings has always been a challenge and I can now do this more comfortably without it slipping into isolation, an addicts biggest contention! I’ve also learned I can deal with any situation and still not use! Its been a massive challenge for all of us.

What are you looking forward to most after this all ends?

Getting together with friends and get to a meeting! To travel to outside meetings as the lockdown is connecting us far and wide. To visit my family in Shropshire. To finally go to Croatia which has been postponed!