cafe au lait dahlia paying it forward with kindness and goodwill

I have come to realise, recently, that for much of my life I have felt powerless; bouncing my way along from one situation to another, frequently feeling dissatisfied and frustrated while lacking the insight or tools to understand how I could have been taking control of the situation. On reflection much of my confusion and overwhelm has been the result of a perceived need to conform, which I imagined had been imposed upon me. I am not, by nature, a conformist I think, preferring to find my own way to do things (my inability to read instructions being a good example perhaps), yet I have lacked the confidence and self assurance to believe that I was deserving of success in my own right.

I have the great fortune to be happily married to a man who has always, if not entirely understood, supported me while I have searched for ‘the thing’ that would bring me the feelings of satisfaction and contentment which I have so often felt lacking in myself. Until very recently I have found it difficult to acknowledge his equal fortune in being married to someone who has been willing to play the supportive role in our relationship, while he has taken advantage of the opportunities he has created to build his own career and pursue some of his own personal goals. I don’t begrudge or regret any of it, for partnerships are all about give and take, and what he has given me in love, patience and encouragement over the years, as I struggled with feelings of impotence, frustration and sadness, is immeasurable.

However, the last couple of years have been a time of enormous learning and personal growth for me and I’m beginning to understand how I tick a little better. I have long felt a burning need to make or create, to have something tangible to show for my labours at the end of the day, but have struggled to identify what that ‘thing’ could be. Raising two daughters, of whom I’m immensely proud, and who demonstrate the qualities I host highest, gives me great pleasure and I sometimes feel this should be enough to satisfy me, but somehow I need more and I am beginning to realise that it is not selfish to pursue it.

I can acknowledge that I need time and space in which to think, that writing these blog posts, my monthly letter, my journal and even social media posts gives me not only pleasure, but a feeling of calm which I enjoy. I have a thirst for learning which I have been able to indulge in as I discover what is required to run a creative business, both on and offline. I have spent much of this year investing time and money into improving my photography (intermittently frustrating and rewarding), grappling with the basics of branding and marketing, experimenting with recipes to accommodate every dietary requirement, creating a home and garden in which people feel welcomed and comfortable, and becoming part of an online community where I feel at home.

Hosting workshops at Oak Tree Barn is something I am thoroughly enjoying,  and I have come to realise that while I will never become a world leader (god forbid!) that I do have a part to play in shaping our world. It is a smaller, less visible part than many, but I believe that I can be proud of the ripples of goodwill that originate from the groups of women who spend time being nurtured and nourished at the barn.

My own experience is that the happier and more fulfilled I feel, the better it is for those around me. I am able to give my time, attention and energy more fully to them when I feel this way, and they in turn are able to do likewise for others. I guess it’s the principle of paying it forward, and if I can ensure that those who spend a day here are able to play their part in making the world a kinder place, then I think I can feel satisfied and proud of myself.

The Simpson Sisters is becoming more than I imagined, but exactly what feels right. A community of like minded people who are drawn to spend time together to share and learn, to support and encourage, and to leave feeling full of warmth and hope. I am so looking forward to the workshops planned this autumn and have exciting plans in the pipeline which I hope will be appealing too. Keep an eye on my events page for soon to be published workshops, or sign up to my monthly letter to be first to know what else is planned. But more than that, if you feel (or have felt) as I have in the past then don’t hesitate to drop me a line. Frustration, overwhelm, and lack of clarity are troubling and exhausting, but there is something hugely comforting about knowing that you’re in good company.

In the spirit of practising what I preach I am spending a few days away now with a group of inspiring and like minded women to improve my photography skills. I am so excited to be off to the Island of Paros in Greece, spending a night in Athens on the way and Santorini on the way back. At least I will be, if I ever manage to pack my bag…….!