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I’ve wanted to work with clients around the world for as long as I’ve known that was possible.


Actually that’s a lie. Long before the days of Skype, Zoom and Messenger I once had a card reading that told me I’d work with people all around the world and decided that sounded bloody lovely… even if I didn’t know how it was even possible.


But within it all there’s something I always thought would hold me back.


This accent of mine that no one could understand.


And since it’s something I lot of people comment on, I thought I’d tell you the story of that accent… And maybe even teach you a little Geordie if you’re interested 😉


What is my accent


I’m from the North East of England; South Northumberland to be exact. And so my accent is somewhere between Geordie – from the area around the city of Newcastle upon Tyne – and Northumbrian – from a bit further North.


The difference between the two? Probably totally undiscernible to most people if I’m honest… particularly when you have folk out there who can’t tell whether a person is from the US or Canada, or from Australia or New Zealand, never mind what areas they’re from within those countries.


Sigh. But anyway.


I’ve been asked if I’m Scottish, Welsh, Irish – on holiday once I was even asked if I was speaking French (I wasn’t, I was just talking really fast!). But no, I’m a Geordie. This accent is born and bred in the North East of England.


The horror of a Northern accent


I know, “so what?” you’re probably thinking. “What in the hell is the big deal?” But you see for most of my life, it has been a big deal.


Here in the UK the North/ South divide has long been talked about, and never more so than when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s in what was – thanks to various political and economic things I won’t bore you with now – a pretty poor part of the world.


Having any sort of regional accent was considered working class at best, but one like mine?


Well that was often taken as a sign you were poor and, according to some people, stupid too.


For the longest time I only ever heard accents like mine on TV when football players were being interviewed (even during those tough times this part of the world produced some pretty damned good sports people!) or in the one teenage TV drama that was set up here to show the “gritty reality” of life in the North.


The drama wasn’t that realistic (are they ever?!) but I still loved it, partly for the novelty of hearing accents like mine and seeing places I recognised on the TV. And at least now when I went on holiday people recognised my accent… even if they did ask me over and over again to say the name of the TV show like some sort of weird accented comedy turn.


At least that was a welcome change from the people who turned their noses up at my accent though because it meant I was “uneducated” (yup, someone once said that to my face) or “from a poor background” (that one came from the friend of a friend trying to impress some men we’d started talking to in a bar).


Then there was the friend who told me she had to move away to raise her son outside of my town in case he “grows up to sound stupid like you”, and the many many people along the way who asked me to repeat myself, looked confused or laughed at my pronunciation of something because this accent of mine was just too difficult to understand.


Hell, I’ve even seen Geordies subtitled on TV. And when TV starts to subtitle your accent, you pretty much decide there’s no chance of a career in public speaking of working with people from outside of your part of the world right?


What I’ve come to love about my accent


Except then the world changed of course. Here in the UK the late 90s and early 00’s saw more and more people with different accents show up on TV; including stacks from my little corner of the world.


Meanwhile people were starting to realise that all of those “friendliest city in the world” studies that Newcastle upon Tyne kept winning might just be good for business…


Because if people considered Geordies to be friendly and trustworthy, then maybe they’d respond well to customer call centres based here.


Suddenly it was cool to be a Geordie, sexy even! Suddenly when I went outside of the area people wouldn’t laugh at the way I spoke but would instead grin broadly and say “I just love your accent, I could listen to you talk all day…”



I’d love to tell you my confidence in the way I spoke was totally unrelated to that growing trendiness, but let’s be honest – it definitely helps when the thing you’ve considered to be shameful suddenly becomes cool according to the rest of the world. So suddenly I started listening to my accent differently too.


I loved the fact it connected me to this beautiful part of the world I call home; loved the way I’d hear parts of the people I loved in the way that I spoke; and loved that my accent in itself told part of my story.


Yes, I’ve learned to speak more slowly than I used to (we Geordies tend to talk fast), and I’m definitely still asked to repeat things every now and again. But actually this accent of mine has never caused me any problems at all in the world of self employment… It’s even something I get complimented on over on the Divine Feminist.


Spreading the Geordie word

And that’s not all. The more people I meet in other parts of the world, the more I make it my mission to normalise this Northern accent a bit more, and to teach people bits of Geordie dialect wherever I can.


My friends in Minnesota and New York have both had Geordie dictionaries from me over the past year, and I regularly give clients little pieces of Geordie wisdom that may need a little translation but hopefully stay with them long after our sessions are over.


So in honour of that, I thought I’d share with you the top five Geordie phrases you’re most likely to hear coming out of my mouth… ready?


1. Shy bairns get nowt: My absolute favourite Geordie phrase! It basically means if you don’t ask, you’ll never get, translated as “timid children won’t get anything”.

2. Howay man: “Come on!” Bearing in mind that the word “man” in Geordie doesn’t necessarily mean an actual man… it’s kind of used in the same way Canadian people use “eh” (sorry Canadian readers!).

3. Up a height: Stressed out or anxious – when you’re spiralling in anxiety, you’re up a height!

4. Gannin’ yem: OK, I hardly ever say this since my mum (mam in Geordie) hates it. But every now and again when I’m leaving her house I don’t say I’m going home but “mam, am gannin’ yem!”

5. Alreet? I think this one’s pretty easy to get… “Alright?” Although we use it a bit more broadly – both as “how are you?” and “I’m fine.” Yup, you could actually have a conversation that goes “Alreet?” “Aye (yes), Alreet.”


Want to know how to pronounce these? I thought about being clever and recording some little sound snippets for you, but this guy is SO much better at it than I am…


If my Geordie accent isn’t enough for you, you can always check out some North Eastern celebs… there are plenty out there!


And by all means check out the videos of that TV drama I mentioned before… here’s the very Geordie theme song; or my most favourite Geordie song ever!


Overwhelm.


It’s a word I hear a lot. Hell, it’s a word I’ve said to myself a lot over the years, although it took me a long time to admit to it out loud.


Not because I ever thought there was something wrong with being overwhelmed, but because often when I got to that place of feeling anxious and overburdened to the point of complete stuckness I honestly couldn’t tell where the external burdens started and I stopped.


What I learned – the hard way, and what every overwhelmed client I’ve ever worked with has come to realise too, is that calling those feelings out for what they are is one of the first ways to take back control from them and find a way forwards that doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming.


Acknowledging when it gets too much


Of course that’s not to say it’s always easy to tell people that you’re overwhelmed.


For starters we live in a culture that praises and celebrates busy, while so often vilifying rest, boundaries and self care.


That can mean your worries and feelings might just be ignored or even laughed at. Not to mention the fact it can be all too difficult to speak up in the first place and ask for help when so many others seem busy and burdened too.


And some of those people will be only too keen to compare burdens with you, and no matter what you both have going on, those people will likely always tell you that they have it worse.


Or the other end of the scale – those people you ask for help who go on and criticise you for taking on too much. “No wonder you’re overwhelmed? What did you think you were doing?”


Sigh.


Are any of those things good reasons not to receive the help and support you need? Hell no.


It doesn’t matter how heavy a burden you’re carrying; like that old analogy about the glass of water anything you carry for long enough becomes heavy and challenging.


And just because we’ve agreed to or even chosen something, doesn’t mean it’s easy or that we can’t ever find ourselves drowning in that something.


Not to mention the fact that sometimes it’s not those big things we expect – or even call out – that leave us feeling overwhelmed, but instead the smaller ones under the surface we didn’t even know were challenging for us.


Unpacking the burdens


A few weeks back I had a conversation with a friend, who spoke about the weight it seemed she’d been carrying around for ages and how over burdened it made her feel.


She used the analogy of “carrying” that weight over and over again, until it took me back to my very first counselling teacher and a box of buttons.


Back then, he would encourage us to use physical metaphors with clients… A box of buttons could be used to represent all sorts of things clients didn’t have words for in something a little like play therapy for adults.


So I suggested my friend did something similar; take an actual bag and fill it up… maybe with random objects, stones or something else that is very unconsciously done without too much thought.


Then unpack the items one by one and see what’s really in there…


What do each of the items represent as you unpack them, and how heavy does each one feel when you hold it in your hand?


What are the feeling attached to them, and what feelings come up for you once the back is empty?


Talk it through with someone, journal on it; just let the bag tell you its story.


And then what?

The next step of course comes when you decide what to do with whatever you find in that bag and how you use this new knowledge to move forwards.


After all, once you see what you’re really carrying, and which are the heaviest burdens in there, you can see what’s having the biggest impact on your happiness and energy levels.


Maybe that will show you what you need to work on – with a therapist or in your own personal development practice.


Maybe it will show you what needs to change.


Hell, maybe it will even show you what can change – even if that’s not the weightiest things in there.


Either way this exercise is about helping you to see those burdens you’re carrying from a different perspective; as something you’re a little detached from rather than stuck with.


By laying them out in front of you as tangible physical things it can make your view of them a little more practical than it may have been before, helping you to potentially see a way around them that otherwise might’ve felt impossible.


All of that said I know this isn’t always easy to do on your own.


Some of those things we carry around with us are deep and painful; and sometimes when we dive into our overwhelm we find the things causing us the most problems are those we’ve been carrying forever and don’t even know where to start changing or fixing on our own.


But we don’t have to.


That’s where working with someone else who can create a safe space for you is a great way forwards.


Soul-Led Therapy is a perfect example of that; offering you a place to lay everything out and then work through it all… step by step until you find your way through it and out the other side.


Read more about that on the link above, and get in touch if you’d like to book your free introductory session.



I was recently invited to be a guest on Inspiration North, a fascinating podcast that invites business owners to talk about their stories so far.


The lovely hosts Michelle and James told me we wouldn’t go in with a theme for our episode, and to be honest I was pretty grateful for that… After all, my work is all about the stories, not the themes underneath them!


Then it got to the final question: “What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?”


I hate a spoiler as much as the next person, but my answer was a bit of a surprise even to me… and one that really made me think. So I’m going to break my own rule and share it with you as a one off.


My advice to my younger self – something I wonder if lots of us could do with hearing even as adults – was to do what was right for you, even if no one else is doing it.


Let me explain…


My story – the short version

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, in no small part because I’ve always loved stories; hearing them, telling them, writing to them and joining the dots to understand them.


Meanwhile, I’ve also always been fascinated by all things spiritual and soulful. Since I was the little girl talking to someone no one else could see while out with my parents and since I first read about past lives as a child.


But neither of those things could ever be considered jobs right? And there was definitely no way of putting them together and combining both things I was always passionate about in anything resembling work.


No one had ever done that.


Fast forward and here I am… working with amazing people to hear and join the dots on their stories – helping them to move forwards along the way; offering the Soul Journey Insight Packs that bring together so many of my soul-focused passions, not to mention incorporating those things into my work with clients; and then writing about all of the things that matter to me – through this blog, in my podcast, in books…


It turns out that just because no one else I knew had pulled all this together before, that didn’t mean it couldn’t be done.

We’re so often led to believe that we should only and always do what everyone else is doing.


I often think about it in terms of the old Game of Life commercial: “Be a winner at the game of life. Find a job, have money maybe, get married, have a baby!” Because that’s the order of things right? And if we want to be winners at the game of life then we have to those steps one by one…


Except that that’s not true. It’s never been true, but the falseness of it is even more apparent where, you know we’ve remembered that life isn’t a one size fits all?


That doesn’t mean it’s always easy to do something different though, even if that “different” is exactly what’s right for you.


Carving your own path


On the podcast I talked about my career path; how growing up all I wanted to do was write, and that as I got older I desperately wanted to combine what I now know as soul work with traditional therapies but couldn’t see a way to make any of those things happen…


Until I starting trusting my gut and went for it, carving out a path for myself along the way.

But if I’m honest, the work side of carving out my own path has probably been the easier one.


I come from a part of the world where people traditionally couple up relatively young. They couple up, finish their educations, find a job, get married and then – just like the Game of Life commercials – they have babies.


Hell, that’s something I could’ve done too; I got engaged at 18 and have been in another couple of long term relationships since then. In all of those cases it would’ve been pretty easy to stay, to settle down, to check the boxes that everyone else was checking.


But would that have made me happy?


In every case the answer was no. And after the most recently relationship I realised the answer was such a resounding no that I knew something had to change. I knew I had to stop trying to follow the same path as everyone else around me and figure out the way forwards for myself instead.


So I stepped away from the whole dating game to understand why I kept ending up in those relationships that weren’t right and figure out what I did and didn’t really want from my romantic life before I went back out to look for it.


I won’t lie, there are times that has been hard.


The last two years of conscious singledom have been potent and interesting and more valuable than I can explain in a single blog post… But there’s times they’ve also been lonely.


There are times I’ve attended a wedding and wished I had a plus one and times I’ve found myself longing for a special someone to drop me that morning text message that makes me smile all day.


And although every one of those times has come back to the knowledge that I’d rather be on my own than the alternative, that doesn’t mean that I’ve never considered just taking the easy way out and settling for what’s “normal” rather than creating the life I know is right for me.


I’ll be 37 next week and I don’t yet have children. That’s very much something I want in life but I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t worry sometimes that stepping off the beaten path and taking time out to understand whether motherhood was really right for me means that will never happen...



I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t get a little upset every time someone subtly (or not so subtly…) suggested I’d passed the point of having kids, or got angry whenever someone assumed I didn’t want kids just because I don’t have them yet.


Of course I’m not alone in that. I have friends who actually don't want to have children… and face a constant gamut of people telling them they’ll change their minds, regret the decision or – the most eye-rollingly ridiculous of all in my opinion – never be happy.

As if there is a one size fits all for happiness.


No, carving our own path definitely brings its challenges, but it is possible. And what’s more, I’d argue that it’s well worthwhile too.


The question of course is how do we do it? Where do you start without a set of footprints to follow behind?


For me, I’ve found four key steps to help (although of course yours may be different, that’s kind of the point 😉 )


1. Follow what feels right

I’m not going to tell you to trust your gut here, because I get that can be hard – especially when it’s telling you something different to the rest of the world, and especially when you haven’t quite figured out how to discern the voice of your gut from the voice of your rebel, your anxiety or your dreamer (more on doing that another day).


But I will say follow what you know is right. You there are paths you’ve taken and things you’ve done just because you thought you should that have left you unsatisfied. You there are things you absolutely must do with your time that you can’t imagine your life without.


You know what lights you up and you know what brings you right back down. Pay attention to those things and let them signpost the way for you.

2. Look to the people who inspire you

I’ve talked before about the idea of a Circle of Seven – in my case the seven women who inspire me – an exercise I love and would encourage anyone and everyone to try for themselves.


But for me, one of the keys to finding the people who inspire us is in recognising not just the ways we want to be like them, but those we don’t too.


Allow the people who inspire you to show you what has already been done and what can be done by someone following the path that’s right for them…


And then bear them in mind as you carve out and walk a path of your own!

3. Find the right support

That’s not to say you have to do it alone.


Carving out a path for myself has become infinitely more bearable – and even bloody fun – since I found people who understand what it is to do things differently, and who are willing to walk alongside me where they can.


For me that meant stepping out of my comfortable, my local, my expected, and building a network of people that was much broader than I’d had previously in my life. But broadening our networks and our horizons can only ever be a good thing in my mind.


Not all of those people have similar plans to my own. And I won’t lie, not all of them even completely understand my plans or why I feel the way I do…


But that’s OK. They support me, they lend an ear, they pick me up and/or help me dig when I’m struggling and they’re there, no matter what.


Find the people who’ll support you to do your thing and carving out your own path will become so much easier.


4. Know that it’s OK to be normal

There’s nothing wrong with being normal.


A lot of people strive for the kind of life by numbers that I talked about at the start of this post and are totally and utterly happy with that.


Hell, as someone who has dived into her reasons for wanting a relationship and children, the time will come when my life on the outside might in many ways look just like that version of normal.


And that’s OK. It’s OK if you want every part of your life to be exactly like the people around you and it’s OK if you want certain aspects of your life to look just like those around you.


The point in carving out your own path is that you get to decide how it looks – not only in its differences from the rest of the world, but in its similarities too.


5. ... But don’t be frightened to be exceptional

But equally, know that where there are those differences – where you are doing the things no one else has tried yet, that will make you anything but normal. It will make you an exception to the norm.


A client I worked with last year once told me that she felt she had something important to offer the world; something exceptional in fact.


Yet with someone in her life regularly telling her to calm down, to rein in her emotions, to strive for less, she was constantly terrified to be seen as too much.


And so one day I asked: “How can you ever be exceptional if you’re afraid to be too much?”

We agreed that it was a hard thing.


Because when the life you want involves doing something different, that will mean putting your head above the parapet; a place where people can point and look and laugh and criticise. A place that’s not always comfortable.


That’s part of the reason the support I mentioned is so damned important, because it helps to have a friend up there on the parapet with you.


But it also helps to remember that the only way you can be exceptional is by putting yourself out there in some way… even if to some people that looks like being too much.


If figuring out what this path of yours looks like, or carving out that path for yourself is something you’re struggling with, remember you don’t have to go it alone.


Soul-Led Therapy can help you to let go of the baggage and expectations you’ve been carrying so far and tune into your own self more fully.


Meanwhile Soul Support is a safe space where you’ll be supported and held accountable for every step of the journey you take.

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