A Hero’s Journey
The monomyth, otherwise known as the hero’s journey is unique to the hero but simultaneously the same for every hero. Same goes for our participants. Their working life journeys are all individual but often share similar challenges and paths. The call to adventure is when most women join the Keystone Programme.
Ailsa Lochhead has written beautifully about her adventure to her new business, Move To Feel, and why she joins Keystone Women. Ailsa explains perfectly how this is our why. This is why we created Keystone Women and will continue to strive, together, to make it the best programme and community.
It’s not always obvious
My professional background is in Visual Arts and with a Masters degree in Fine Art I love the world of creativity. I was making artwork for exhibitions, working in a gallery and facilitating creative workshops for children, adults and underrepresented groups. In fact, in 2016, I led some mixed media art workshops for 5-11 year olds at Tribe Porty – this was my intro to Dani and the great scope of activity that happens at Tribe. I loved teaching and facilitating, however I wasn’t working on my own art and I’d always believed that the best teachers were the ones practising themselves. So, I decided that during my maternity leave with my first child, whilst raising them I’d create phenomenal artwork and come up with a magnificent product that I would love making and selling.
Hah! Ideal right?
Squeeze your fists so tight that your knuckles want to burst out your skin, now clench your jaw, gritting your teeth, arms tight glued to the front of your body and lock your breath holding everything in… and from this state, share every ounce of your body, feel magnificent and create something phenomenal.
I pushed, I punished, I shamed and I depleted myself into a permanent state of fight, flight or freeze. I’d given birth, my Mum had passed by my side, there was a wave of loss in friends and extended family, I bought and renovated our first flat, I became a wife and a mother to two sleepless children. Slowly, my parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest state that supports easy, joy, intuition, creativity and wellbeing was compromised. My mental health struggled and physical symptoms crept in. My nervous system was out of kilter to the point that my body was screaming for me to listen and connect with it, there were a couple of years where I was fainting almost daily. During one collapse, when I still couldn’t feel my limbs, I remember a paramedic asking me to breathe slowly, but I felt so disconnected to my body I couldn’t locate the control of even doing that.
I couldn’t do it alone. Do it with me.
Open your jaw so that your teeth aren’t clenched and your tongue is soft, roll your shoulders up, round and down your back until your chin naturally wants to lift and your chest expands forward, and from here, take full, easy fluid breaths, noticing the air coming into your body through your nostrils and out through your lips and open mouth.
It wasn’t obvious to others that I was really struggling, and it wasn’t obvious to me how to change anything as I was now addicted to adrenaline and a state of disconnect felt safer than connecting. What I needed however, was to feel safe to connect with myself and others, so that I could begin to regulate my nervous system again. To allow joy, to hear my own intuition, loosen the grip of my saboteur mind, sense my spirit, allow creative play and permit rest. The ‘how’ wasn’t obvious but I knew it was going to take a big leap and a lot of little steps to get there. Then in 2018, Keystone launched on my doorstep and I jumped into its first in-person programme.
A room full of inspiring, powerful, successful, able, beautiful, grounded women – intimidating as f*ck was one way to describe it! It really was, and what was not obvious was that I was this too. Only, the best I could do with what I had at that point, was to simply show up – to manage to leave my flat, leave my family, allow myself time and trust the unknown. I wasn’t even able to write my name on the ‘who are you and what do you do’ post-it notes on the wall, but I am proud of myself for making the commitment, consistently getting there and making the connections I did. By the end of the programme, I still had no magnificent product ready to launch but I was back in a place of creating and exploring ideas, relearning to trust and be vulnerable, feeling inspired, motivated and supported. Keystone really does meet you where you are at and from there my mind, body and soul kept unfolding.
To melt the creative freeze I started the 100 days project where I painted a shape on my hallway wall for 100 days resulting in a fun mural greeting me as I entered and exited my home. Another 100 days of collage shifted me from small palm size artwork to full A0 works. At this point I discovered Nia, a mindful movement practice. While consciously moving to music, I found that I was able to start connecting to my physical body and could better process my emotions. Surprising myself, I went on to train in Nia and coupled this movement practice with training in transformational coaching. I relearned and felt my way back into my intuition, started to break down conditioned habits and reignited my passion for facilitating space to play and create.
My ability to now feel and regulate my thinking body before my thinking mind has literally saved me.
I created a business grounded in my values and passion, Move To Feel, as a safe space for others to nurture their parasympathetic system and to connect to themselves. Move To Feel facilitates healing movement and somatic coaching for individuals, groups and bespoke events. It is a practice that supports regulation, grounding, pleasure, activation, healing and wellbeing. As business approached its first year, I was ready to launch a website, create a logo, explore social enterprise options, and showcase at the Edinburgh Wellbeing Festival, so I joined Keystone’s online community to receive support and be around the energy I needed for these next steps with my business. A sizable shift since I first participated in Keytstone Women and equally supportive in my working journey.
Since leading the kids art workshops in Tribe 6 years ago, Dani and I continued to connect, quietly questioning and challenging and supporting each other in different ways. It’s a delight to bring the body centred elements of Move To Feel into Keystone, so that we can to deliver an integrative programme of online courses, coaching and mentoring. Wherever you are on your journey to redefine your working life, the Keystone programme will support you.