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What Did You Love About 2019?

Unlike New Year Resolutions, a year review can make you feel good about yourself and give you a stable base for what you’d like to have happen in the coming year. Resolutions can trigger your Inner Critic, especially if you don’t fulfil them, for whatever reason. Feeling crap about not doing your resolutions can spiral into negative self-talk about other areas of your life. You could end up feeling unmotivated or worse, depressed. So, here’s a way to feel great about 2019 and build a solid base for what you’d like for 2020!

Image of 2019 Year Review by Julia Fry
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A Short Story: Weird Fish

I’m being swept along in a fast flowing river. When my head is above the river I feel afraid and I grab at things. If I stop struggling and let myself go with it, what happens? It feels better, less tiring than struggling. I can look around for rocks and try to avoid them using my hands. I can take deep breaths and put my head under to see what it’s like. When my head is below, in the river it’s easier to go around obstacles. I can swim. If only I could breathe under the river so I didn’t have to stick my head above so often.

There are big bubbles under the river. I swim over to one and stick my nose in it; there is air in there! I suck it in and slowly let it out until I see the next bubble. Now I notice there are different kinds of flows, like streams within the river; some are faster, some slower. I experiment by moving from one to another. The faster one is exhilarating and the slower one feels gentle.

Fish swim by me and look surprised by my presence; I wave at them and they scurry away. Then one stays close and watches me. It mirrors me. Soon we are laughing together, going fast, then slow, over and over again. The fish asks my name and tells me his is Simon. He’s never met one of whatever I am before and is really enjoying the experience. Me too.

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Kind Communication With Yourself

Image courtesy of Jotform.

Paying Attention to Your Inner Voice

How we talk to ourselves has a direct relationship to how we feel and what we do. This has been documented in psychological research (see references below) and there is a correlation between self criticism and feeling crap. You can see for yourself how true this is by paying attention to your inner voice. If your inner voice is hard to notice at first in daily life, you could pick an activity that you’d like to be able to do well, but haven’t clocked up the hours yet to be able to do well in it. It could be drawing or painting or parkour, for example.

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Instead of Presents This Christmas, How About Presence for Christmas?

To not conform to social expectation and norms can generate a profound sense of isolation and alienation

Rebecca Greenslade (2018)
Drawing of Christmas Tree by Julia Fry. Watercolour pencils on paper.

Not Conforming to Social Norms Can Also Feel Free and Refreshing

The first year (2009) I didn’t buy Christmas presents for friends and family it felt kind of Grinch-like, but also refreshing. I was free from the expectation that had been laid on me by my ancestors. The funny thing was my Grandma hated Christmas but continued to buy presents, decorate a tree and cook incredibly large amounts of food for the festivities. When I asked her why she did it, she grimaced and said something about just getting on with it. Yes, social norms can be incredibly powerful but I wasn’t with my family that first year, so I rejoiced in my new found freedom. I had more time and energy without the worry of what to get for each person.

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Intuitive Christmas Soup Recipe

This time last year I was working on converting my van into a camper at my fab friend, Margaret’s, house. We’d already been eating our way through the vegan mince pie stock from the Sainsbury’s Local nearby since October. I love Christmas food! It’s one of the few things about Christmas I love. My favourite food is a yummy vegan nut roast with all the trimmings. This year we’ve been boycotting Sainsbury’s mince pies because they use palm oil but I still need my early Christmas food fix.

A hearty bowl of vegan Christmas Soup
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Two Trees Van Conversion (2019)

This is my van, Two Trees, and you’ll see why it’s called that when you see the porthole. I bought Two Trees in May 2018 and converted it into a tiny camper. I was incredibly lucky to have an amazing friend, Margaret, who let me park on her driveway for many hours to work on my van. She also taught me how to use power tools (yes!) and some woodworking techniques. We discussed creative ideas and how to bring them into reality. I could not have done this without her and am so grateful for her. Scroll down to see its transformation from light goods vehicle to camper-for-one.
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Seeing is believing: how an expressive art grief ritual helped me gain clarity and strength

Last night was the anniversary of my dad’s suicide in 1980. Most years I just ignored it and tried to carry on, but this year I decided to do a letter writing ritual. My ‘letter’ turned out to be a piece of expressive art as I followed my intuition and did what I needed to do throughout the process.

My expressive art ‘letter’ to my dad who killed himself 39 years ago.
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Could being ‘trauma informed’ help you in your work and personal relationships?

Given that an estimated 20% of women and 4% of men in England and Wales* have experienced sexual violence since the age of sixteen (and those are just the reported cases; therefore, these figures could be just the tip of the iceberg, not to mention the child sexual abuse figures; see Rape Crisis for more statistics), there is a high probability some of them will be your clients or customers or colleagues or students or apprentices or family members. There are also many people who have experienced emotional and/or physical abuse and/or neglect. You might not know this about them because they may never tell you. Since some of the people you spend time with at work and home are likely to have experienced trauma, it follows that being trauma informed in the ways you communicate with them will be helpful to both you and them.

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Overcoming irrational fear in climbing

In January 2018 I was experiencing deep frustration at the fear that was paralysing me when I went to climb. Climbing was one of my passions and had been for about a year, yet when I went near the wall I felt crippling fear. I wondered whether my fear was related to the effects of trauma that pop up in my life, so I decided to research trauma and recovery, and set myself experiments to overcome fear. I recorded my journey in a series of blog posts, in case anyone else was going through the same thing as me. I thought I’d share links to those posts here because the sports psychology I used in my experiments might be useful to you. Here they are:

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Wonderland (2019)

I came up with the idea of Wonderland – an indoor adventure playground for grown ups – in 2005. The prompt came from a job interview where I was invited back to make a presentation based on this premise: “you wake up on Christmas morning and you’ve given a gift to the world. What is your gift?” I was training to be a coach so I used the resources available to me and what emerged was a heartfelt desire for a place to escape the daily grind and play with childlike glee.

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