Tag Archives: depression

10 months on – The daily fight

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Ten months on from stopping smoking, I don’t feel any fitter or healthier. My body has been through hell, ridding the nicotine and I never want to have to go through it again. Keeping cheerful has been difficult. We get to the coast as much as we can. This is me with my feet in the North Sea two weeks ago.

 

At the beginning, the constant gnawing and craving preoccupied me, but as my hormones began to party without the nicotine hanging on for a ride, my weight gain has become my focus.

That’s me in the purple and black in October 2017, and here’s me in March 2018

If one more slim, yogatastic, enlightened 30 something tells me to embrace this new part of being a woman and be excited about my crone phase, I’ll punch them in the face…not really, but you can hear my frustration. I didn’t ask for this. I thought stopping smoking would make me feel better…I’ve never felt so depressed and anxious.

Smoking held back some, but not all my menopausal symptoms. Everything has been heightened since stopping putting nicotine into my body, so my IBS has been chronic too. I feel like my body is returning to factory reset, shaking everything up along the way, but rather than settling, everything feels off kilter.

I had to stop running, my knees couldn’t cope, partly because I’m running on the road and there isn’t a single flat section anywhere near me, and probably because I already have knee damage and I’m heavier than I should be.

I am not alone. Thousands of women are waking up one morning to find their once taut bodies have softened. I haven’t been this fleshy since I was pregnant and the irony of that is like a stab to the heart…you’re no longer capable of conceiving a child, but your body looks like you’re carrying one. Wicked.

It isn’t all bad news… I’ve stuck to my walking every morning as soon as I get up, and my new morning best is 5.2k steps. I always do at least 2k, and often do 4k. Having said that, I do walk some lunchtimes too, but now the evenings are dark, I’m not walking in the evening. I’m guessing I put on two stone at the beginning of the year with eating a bit more and the change in hormones and have now lost one of those, but I still can’t get my clothes on. In fact, last week I bought bigger jeans. Gutting.

I am a fighter. Every morning when I walk, Dr Dain’s affirmation rings in my ears ‘All of life comes to me with ease and joy and glory’. Life is amazing. I have a wonderful partner. My friends and family are dear to me. I live in an amazing house in a fabulous part of the world, with a roof over my head. I’ve started doing a little yoga after my walk, just a few balances and stretches…the plan is to build up to more, making sure my thighs don’t get too bulky with all the extra walking. Loki likes to be carried around on my walks…He is a fidget though

There is other good news. I’ve gone back on my original HRT. I now sleep through most nights. I sweat less during those nights. The day time sweats are occasional.

But every day is a battle, making my steps count and attempting to balance my body. As you may know, my diet is already plant based and I cook most meals from scratch, so how I lose this lump orbiting my middle, I’m not sure. Food and I have battled for most of my life and I’m gutted I’m being forced to re-evaluate again, when I thought I was doing the right thing becoming plant based.

Women need to stand up and say, ‘This isn’t just hormones! Have you any idea how life changing their fluctuation can be?’

I’m re-inventing myself. I may have had to buy bigger jeans but I also bought the cutest pinafore dress, and I’ve booked in for a new tattoo. Support the women around you while they deal with this life changing transformation. No more jokes about menopausal women being grumpy!

 

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Awakened Bellydance™ – 7 months on

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At the end of April this year, I embarked on a personal journey with eleven other women in Bulgaria, guided and supported by Katie Holland, dancing and learning to facilitate Awakened Bellydance™. I wrote this a few days after returning home…

‘We breathed, we feared but we trusted and within the safe, protected space of our room, we danced, allowing the music to shake up our bodies and free our minds. We let go and the layers began to peel away.

Every day, we learned, shared, discussed and laughed and then we danced again, fear, judgement, disempowerment and pain, relinquished from our bodies and minds, into the earth to be transmuted to the love we craved.

Together, we healed, allowing our minds to be free to think, to create and to manifest and to step closer to our bodies, to feel the emotions and energy rising through us.

Deeper we delved into the closed off parts of ourselves, removing all obstacles and reinstating the power of the goddess, the women we truly are.

We reached up, beyond ourselves, out into the universe, to the stars from whence we came.’

Awakened Bellydance™ changed my life… I was no longer afraid. Without fear, I chose music for Tribal Unity Wales to dance to, confident that I had chosen well and in every lesson I taught, I allowed my heart to guide me.

I published my second Witchlit novel ‘The Orphan Witch’, knowing it was the perfect magical sequel to The Naked Witch’ as Lizzie Martin, my main character, followed her heart. The third novel, ‘The Flowerpot Witch’, flowed from my pen.

I grew a few vegetables in a bath tub and a tractor tyre and cooked plant based food, gathering new recipes and sharing time cooking with my partner.

I sang in the car…and in a hot tub in Essex in front of other people!

And so much more! Everything I did was different…I was different. I shone with a sense of ‘me’ I’d never felt before. There was no ego, just a deep connection to myself, who and where I was and an understanding of where I fitted into the universe.

Life hasn’t been easy. I’ve had a lot to deal with but trusting from the heart, I could cope with anything.

One morning, a few weeks ago, I awoked to depression, anxiety and fear. I wanted to cry. I wanted to stay in bed and hide from the world forever. Why had the fear returned? How had the depression manifested when I was so much more in tune with my mind and body? What had I done to bring this on? What had I done wrong?

But I refused to revert back to the old stories. The past is gone, no longer my story to tell so, I chose to see this time as a different kind of chaos and Awakened Bellydance ™ had equipped me with tools I could use to live in it. If I cared one iota about myself, now was the time to use them. I grounded and protected myself every day, sometimes outside in my wellies and dressing gown in the frosty morning air, sometimes indoors. I danced every day to my favourite song at the moment, ‘Wild Things’ by Alessia Cara and allowed myself to laugh or cry, however the music moved me. I continued to write, sometimes choosing to research or write a short story rather than my novel. I taught my dance classes from the heart, allowing myself to be swept up in the music but always focussed on creating the best lesson possible for my ladies.

I facilitated Awakened Bellydance™ solar plexus chakra, guiding and supporting women to clear away the old stories where they lacked confidence and self esteem and where they sought impossible perfection. We opened our hearts to new opportunities, stories we could create of focus, achievement, perseverence and resilience. We stoked the fires, burned away the obstacles and rose like the phoenix from the ashes.

I’ve focussed on strengthening the connections to the things I care about. On my riverbank, beneath the magnificent full moon, I blessed my physical sacred tools and sang to the goddess of the moon with my singing bowl.

 

I’ve lived with depression since my teenage years and learned to cope in many ways but Awakened Bellydance™ provides the dancer with the ability to reconnect with herself and the universe. It’s not about coping but living in confidence and love. Not only are the old stories confronted but they’re dealt with and binned and new stories are created, ready to manifest and be the story of the life you want to live.

For more information about Awakened Bellydance™ and its creator, Katie Holland, visit https://www.awakenedbellydance.com/awakened-bellydance

Lift the veil and live your life as the person you really are.

 

 

The book that changed my life

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More than ten years ago, I was struggling with life. My daily battle with depression was compounded by debilitating and fatiguing IBS. I was dancing Egyptian belly dance but feeling stuck and uninspired. A new lady came to dance class and loaned me a book. It changed my life and the rest, as they say, is history.

Violet Mary Firth, aka Dion Fortune, penned her first short stories in 1919, as a way to bring spiritualism, psychism and inner awareness to readers, otherwise unfamiliar with these practices. Two of her novels, Sea Priestess and Moon Magic greatly influence Doreen Valiente, in many people’s opinion the resurrecter of modern British witchcraft, and it was the first of these books I opened all those years ago.

I devoured every page. My magical practise, until then, had been purely personal but Sea Priestess opened up new possibilities, especially the opportunity to share, heal and inspire, not only through my writing but my dancing as well. In 2007, I created Phoenix Bellydance and began teaching Egyptian belly dance. Over the four years I taught in Essex, I was able to teach and, hopefully, inspire over 300 women and girls.

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At the time, my first novel was underway and I spent 3 years (30 minutes in the car every day waiting to pick up my children from school), writing and editing. ‘Hubble Bubble’ was about an English teacher who lived her life through her passion for literature. I was wordy, over 100k but it started me on the path I follow today. The characters were vivid and the imagery exciting…I just needed to learn how to plot and write story more effectively.

For three years, I taught dance, practised self healing and gathered holistic healing experience. The premise for my first novel ‘Destiny of Angels – First book in the Lilith Trilogy’, ‘what if a traumatic childhood experience sent a woman on a different life path?’ inspired me to write my first novel about the use of magic, contacting other planes of existence and the Qabalah, in our physical life on earth.

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Although my books are fantasy, the characters are real, living live like you and I, falling in love, raising children, finding new jobs and moving house. Relationships are an important element in my novel, often unconventional and sometimes surprising. ‘Destiny of Angels’ relies on the strength of friendship, as Angel’s friends help her dispel the hurt of the past. In ‘Wrath of Angels’, Angel’s love for Aidan is tested, as is her self belief and self worth.

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Bringing magic, inner awareness and affinity with nature into my stories brings them to life. In ‘Sea Priestess’ and ‘Moon Magic’, Vivien Le Fay Morgan, the main character, is both of this world and ‘other worldly’ and this other dimension, almost a secret side to her personality, fascinates me and is always with me as I write.

The three women in The Standing Stone books, inspired by my arrival in Wales, appear to live ‘ordinary’ lives across three different points in time but, all three are searching for something. Even Fern, the only one who already has a connection to the goddess through ritualistic nature worship, is seeking more. In Home for Christmas, they are guided by Binah, the Great Mother, the dark goddess who stands proudly beside Chokmah on the left hand pillar of the Qabalah Tree.

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My only foray into non-fiction is ‘Wendy Woo’s Year- A Pocketful of Smiles – 101 ideas for a happy year and a happy you’, written at the request of friends who kept telling me to write down my tips to combat depression and bring peace and self healing to your life. The book is often practical, sometimes spiritual but never religious, occasionally witty and full of ideas to bring a smile to your day.

Have you read a book that changed your life? Be lovely to hear from you.

 

Welcome New Moon

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Catching up with friends and family in Essex after Christmas was lovely but saying goodbye to my children is never easy, especially as I had no routine to return to.

With firewood stacked in the lounge, my partner set off for a job in Oxford and left me home alone.

I’ve always found the final week of the waning moon a challenge. Though my mind is keen to ‘tie up loose ends’, complete started projects and have something to show for my endeavours, I’ve found it difficult to apply myself.

Edits are going well on the third Standing Stone book, The Gathering and I finished one short story which you can read here https://wendysteele.com/2016/01/06/short-story-scratching-the-surface/ and wrote, edited and polished two more which I’ve submitted for magazines but my energy levels were low and I could feel the tears close to the surface.

And then Tribal Unity Wales came to my rescue! A suggestion of an evening get together gave me something to look forward to and catching up was just what I needed. Inspired by my ladies, I set myself the challenge of completing the lime mortaring/rebuilding of the wall up the stairs.

The tiny window was a later, hasty addition and needed my attention. I mixed one bucket at a time (3:1 sand and lime), pretending to be a cement mixer for ten minutes until the consistency was right. The old earth mortar needs to be scraped out and loose stones removed ready to be reset. All the resident earth mortar needs to be wetted to give something for the new mortar to adhere to. DSC_0195DSC_0197After half an hour, I use a damp paintbrush to remove excess mortar and to give a slightly smoother finish. DSC_0198This side needed a lot more rebuilding, finding suitable stones to fill the gaps rather than just mortar. DSC_0199Two hours on Friday and four on Saturday got me this far…and then I fell off the planet.

I was so pleased with my achievements but with rain pounding the windows, seeping up through the hall floor and leaking through the roof, I despaired that my efforts were worthless and my plans to commune with the new moon seemed hopeless…so I lit candles around the lounge and danced.  I danced hard. Breathless and exhausted I sat in the middle of my circle with Rosie Rabbit and the goddess Isis spoke to me. I scribbled on my pad, tearful but excited and once I was calmer, I turned to my Tarot cards and the future looked brighter. DSC_0160

Taking small steps works for me. Yesterday I set myself lots of small challenges and completed them all, starting this new moon phase with a clean tidy room, notes and plans for the new term of dance and lots of story ideas.

Everyone is different but if you are looking for ways to live with depression or you want to bring happiness to your life every day, my non-fiction book may help. Love, light and new moon blessings xx

http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Woos-Year-Pocketful-ebook/dp/B00AAVPXVU/ref=la_B007VZ1P06_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1354202723&sr=1-5http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Woos-Year-Pocketful-ebook/dp/B00AAVPXVU/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354202865&sr=1-3

The spring in my step

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When I’m depressed, I lose the spring in my step.

I function, exist in the hours of the day and night but I don’t live. Creative pursuits lift me but focussing, using the joy of inspiring, helping and healing others, is tough when I’m depressed, really tough.

DSC_1431And of course, real life, the every day labyrinth of work and bills and relationships, has to be negotiated.

Summer wanes, autumn beckons and I sink into the yawning pit of despair. The Wheel does not cease to turn because I cannot climb aboard. The leaves begin their fall in a blaze of fire and fury, pelted to the earth by the gathering wind. Scuttling eddies announce my way through the lanes, raining flames on my misery.

And then I dance. DSC_0005I still carry my burden of darkness but the bliss of those few dances lightens my step allowing me to appreciate the moment: a chilly Autumn morning, surrounded by friends I love, talking to new people, dancing to live music, dancing with friends, spreading the love of ATS® and making people smile.

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My steps are lighter. My heart is lighter.

Surround yourself with those who love you and find the spring in your step this Autumn.

 

In search of the sun

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Wales to 1 August 2014 005It’s been a wet, grey summer spattered with a few glorious days.

From the moment spring arrives and crocus takes her first breath, I use the momentum of new life to begin new projects and look forward to the sunshine. DSC_1234 I look forward to the prospect of hot, sunny days to fuel my passion and drive my intentions to fulfillment. Living with depression, this concept has served me well.

We had two hot days at the end of May 11053065_1610337169224773_4219450298485072431_n but Midsummer’s Day was a wash out when it should have been the peak of the sun. Four days of solid rain led to a sunny day for the Lampeter Food Festival 17005_1637467316511758_8560746038090504212_n

and the momentum of this fabulous dancing day carried me on to the Cardigan Bellydance Festival 11875606_10153165243553867_114847764_obut I’ve struggled.

We’ve made the most of every glimpse of sunshine, spending time on the riverbank and working on the land but I’ve found cold, grey mornings a real damper on motivation. On the days I’ve rallied, I’ve been writing and the third Standing Stone book, The Gathering, is finished and being edited. I’ve attempted to cook new food, create new recipes and put good food in to get the best energy out. It’s been hard work.

So now I need to get to December 21st, where the Holly King passes the crown to the Oak King and his strength uplifts and inspires me to look forward to spring.

At Mabon, 21st September, the day and night are of equal length all over our amazing planet. It is the time to think of and support our wonderful ‘world family’. Where people live in fear and without basic rights and needs, I shall support and give wherever I can.

As we wend our way to Samhein, a time of change and of choices and a time to look back as well as forward, I shall focus on the aspects of my life that make me smile. I shall surround myself with family and friends, indulge in dancing, sharing, cake and writing. I hope to bring the sun into my life and warm and brighten the days of others.

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If you need help and inspiration at this time, Wendy Woo’s Year – A Pocketful of Smiles gives 100 ideas, used by me to enable me to live my life with depression, rather than suffer from it:

http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Woos-Year-Pocketful-ebook/dp/B00AAVPXVU/ref=la_B007VZ1P06_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1354202723&sr=1-5http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Woos-Year-Pocketful-ebook/dp/B00AAVPXVU/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354202865&sr=1-3

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Woos-Year-Pocketful-ebook/dp/B00AAVPXVU/ref=la_B007VZ1P06_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1354202723&sr=1-5 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Woos-Year-Pocketful-ebook/dp/B00AAVPXVU/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354202865&sr=1-3

The Standing Stone book series is inspired by the beauty of Wales, allowing the reader to connect with the forces and elements of nature. It’s easy to lose sight of where we came from, who we are and where we fit in this amazing world but the Standing Stone brings people together, to support each other and to look within themselves to the beauty and power that lies within.
http://www.amazon.com/Standing-Stone-Home-Christmas-ebook/dp/B00OCPBVV6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414328713&sr=1-1&keywords=wendy+steele
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Standing-Stone-Home-Christmas/dp/150272278X/ref=asap_B007VZ1P06_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415177277&sr=1-1

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A Lifetime of Experience

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At the beginning of this year, I went under the needle for my first tattoo. Four years I had waited, making sure I chose wisely before embarking on this piece of permanent jewellery. I chose a triskele. For me it represents the three stages of womanhood, maiden, mother and crone so, it was appropriate to begin my journey in Wales as the sum of all of me and my lifetime of experience.

Wales 2014 020I didn’t enjoy the ‘maiden’ bit, to be honest. My childhood and early teens left me naive and vulnerable, insecure and bereft of confidence. My children became my passion and I was happy to lose myself in their lives, supporting them through their childhood while my personal relationships crashed and burned. Though I had always written, heartfelt poems for my eyes only and accounts of where I’d been, what I’d seen and how I felt about it, it wasn’t until I was forty and I attended a two day writing course about characterizarion, that I knew it was part of me, who I am. Around this time, I discovered dance and the two combined filled an enormous empty hole in my life.

For forty years I was living on this planet for other people. Whenever I gathered my strength, put myself forward and asked to be acknowledged, I was squashed, physically beaten and verbally abused. I tried to fit in, be the daughter, sister, friend, wife I was expected to be but wearing a mask every day while I sunk lower into depression left me exhausted and miserable.

Regrets are unnecessary baggage, while lessons learned make us the person we are today.  Pocketful of Smiles is a good indication of how far I’ve journeyed and how much I’ve learned about myself, my world and how I choose to interract with the people around me.  Having the benefit of experience makes me the person I am today, promoting my passions, dance and writing and living my life with respect for the earth and all that life upon it.

This person, the real me, attracts people to her that enhance her life, providing opportunities and ideas for the future. For example, the lovely Cwrtneydd Scribblers have welcomed me and we’re planning our table for the Christmas Fayre at Lampeter University and I’ve been invited by one of the Transition Lampeter organisers to have a table at a ‘Make It’ day, a day of creativity in the Victoria Hall, to sign and sell my books and talk about my writing. He suggested I might like to consider running workshops to help new writers.

And my first reaction to the writing group and ‘Make It’ day invites? I can’t do it. I’m not good enough. I don’t have enough experience. My second reaction recognises these are past doubts, worries and fears and sets the third thought into motion insisting, why not have a go? What’s the worst that can happen? If I go, I’ll meet new people and, if they don’t want to buy my books, they might like to join a dance class but if I don’t try and I don’t face my fears, I will never know and be the old me, living in fear again.

In March, I had my second tattoo, an eight pointed star, the symbol of Ishtar, goddess of love, war, fertility and sexuality. To me she represents womanhood and I’m proud to wear this symbol as myself, the earthly manifestation of the goddess and as part of the sisterhood of Tribal Unity.

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Don’t let your past life be a burden but an inspiration for what you can achieve today.  Surround yourself with people who inspire, love and respect you and live every moment with joy and excitement. Open your eyes to the beauty of the world, to positive people who want to make a difference and to the happiness that can be found in the simplest of tasks. Be a human ‘being’ and be your true self every day of your life.