I long ago gave up setting resolutions for a new year, but I do like to start it with some conscious intention. To help me do that I usually reflect on the year that has been but with this being the year of years (!) I wanted to keep it simple. So I went with five lists of 5 things! They are:
5 things that I am grateful for in 2020
5 things that probably wouldn’t have happened this year without the pandemic
5 things that I was sad about in 2020
5 things that gave me joy in 2020
5 words (my intentions) for 2021
If you like to reflect back too then they might help as a guide.
Here are my lists
5 things that I am grateful for in 2020
1. Best friends: For keeping each other jovial, holding each other’s tears, kicking up the proverbial every so often and knowing just what to say when.
2. Technology: I can be guilty of slamming technology, but where on earth would we have been this year without it!
3. Nature: For having fields and trees and countryside on my doorstep and for teaching me the cyclical nature of everything
4. Books: I eventually picked up on the unread books on the shelves and then some. I can’t imagine a evening without reading now
5. Sleep: When lockdown came, I started to sleep through the night for the first time in years. I think I finally gave up trying to control everything that I couldn’t!
5 things that probably wouldn’t have happened without the pandemic
1. Writing: I had a strong sense in March that I needed to write weekly to my email list to send out positive vibes. The writing evolved, I started a daily writing habit, I joined a writing group. I now call myself a writer and am working on ‘stuff’
2. Homeworking: I’ve been wanting to work form home for 2-3 years now and while I dipped my toe in the water, I hadn’t really fully committed to it. Well now I am!
3. Online Classes: Both teaching and participating! I’d never have thought of teaching online, but it now makes so much sense and is now part of my long term business model. Online classes have also allowed me to ‘go’ to classes and trainings from other teachers all over the world.
4. Walks with my husband: a need to just get it of the house has left us with a regular walk habit where we catch up with each other and take in the joys of the countryside around us. I cherish these walks
5. Appreciation of what’s actually important: Honestly, I reckon without this year I probably wouldn’t have appreciated what and who keeps the country going, how important community is, how little words make a big difference and how the busy-ness of life can get in the way of seeing the real stuff of life
5 things that I was sad about in 2020:
1. My brother and sister-in-law split up after 30 years together. I didn’t see it coming and I cried for days.
2. One of my best friends experienced an acute and serious deterioration in her mental health. She’s still not well but she is now getting support she needs
3. Clashes in values around how we all interpreted limitations and some of the divisiveness that came from that
4. Foodbanks, poverty, businesses going under, businesses hanging on for dear life
5. Not being able to hug
5 things that gave me joy in 2020:
1. Dancing - in the kitchen, in the supermarket, anywhere really!
2. Box sets in the evening - in particular ‘Schitts Creek’.
3. Being outdoors - every single damn day
4. Walks with friends
5. Growing my hair long again and faffing about with updos, plaits and accessories
5 words that I’m taking into 2021:
The issue of 'form' has come up several times this last week or so when working with clients. And it’s been mulling about as a concept for me as I’ve been doing my own practice.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase ‘I want to know I’m doing it right’ over the years. And certainly way back in the beginning of my time as a movement practitioner I also wanted to make sure my clients were doing it right. I looked at their shape, their position, their symmetry and what I believed to be the best form in the movements we were practicing. My head hurt. I was analysing, thinking and focused on what wasn’t right, so I could help them to ‘get it right’. And I was constantly disillusioned with my own lack of ‘good form’ no matter how hard I tried.
I'm not exactly sure when it was, other than a good few years ago now, but I realised I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture. I wasn’t seeing all the GOOD movement that was going on. And I wasn’t building the support that I was giving clients around that - as I could have been! I threw the rule book out, and instead kept concepts, connections, guidelines about what ‘good’ movement is.
I’m not going to lie - that wasn’t an easy direction take. I questioned so much of my training. I drifted massively from my association of being a pilates practitioner (and I’m not sure I’ve ever integrated it back in). But the more I studied psychotherapeutic and other somatic practices the less I could believe in there ever being a ‘correct’ form.
We are all as unique in our anatomy and movement patterns, as snowflakes are from each other. We are each formed by our DNA, our early physical and emotional development, our experiences, our beliefs, our personality, our environment, our interactions.
How can there EVER be ONE right posture, version of a pose or movement??
And yet, somewhere and at sometime ‘they’ decided there was. (I have no idea who ‘they’ are either!!)
So we learn to lack trust in our own ability to FEEL form. We get caught in the visual of what it might look like & seek confirmation we got it right - even if it means overcompensation, lack of easy breath, increased tension and it feels painful!
Yet, we ultimately know better than anyone when form feels right - in the same way that we know when a jacket doesn’t fit (or maybe it does but we know it’s ‘just not me’).
I get that if you’ve never known how to feel the best form for you then how can you know? And I guess that’s where I come in... i’m not here to contort you into a version of yourself that you can’t do life as! I’m here to help you do YOU! To feel how YOU stand, sit, bend, walk, run, jump, do cartwheels (if you wish).
And we both know it when it’s ‘right’ for you! I see it, yes, but not as a text book symmetrical posture or movement. I see it as an ease in how you breath, or hold yourself. I see it in the brightness of your skin and the lightness in your energy. I also in my own way FEEL when your form is right for you. I’ve learnt to trust that as being gut feel and intuition.
Someone this week called it ‘magic’, someone else called it ‘weird shit - good weird shit’. To me it’s the thing that happens when we stop trying to conform and fit into shapes that suppress who we are. And instead explore who we are and our own unique form.
I am Caroline Toshack. Movement is my passion, my mirror, my creative source and outlet. I am a therapist, coach, educator, geek, yogi, mover and creative who loves getting muddy on her bike, running in the hills and having pyjama days.