Looking around us, at home, at work and in the wider world, we see a vast array of women showing up for themselves and for others. From the female key workers in our medical services, shops and food banks here in the UK to the new Vice President and the Youth Poet Laureate showing up for women and humanity in the US Inauguration. To my friend, who shares a snapshot from her day to inspire others and normalise what mental health is and isn’t.

I’ve been reflecting on what does it mean to show up. Is it to be seen or heard? Is it to stand up for others? Is it to hold a position of influence? Or is it to be an example or role model? I’ve filled pages and distilled it here.

Showing up is a bit of a Pushmi-pullyu (the two-headed animal from Doctor Dolittle) as it can both draw us forward and use our anxieties to hold us back. We need clarity and faith in our intentions, what these will enable in us and also how to move beyond any concerns, negative emotions or past experiences.

Women smiling as snow falls around her

For me, I lean into the One of many® Powertypes of Sorceress, Queen and Warrioress in order to show up with impact. Practising daily connection with Source in the Universe and nature to shape my direction and create flow through journaling, mediation and immersion into the outdoors all help. Using my Queen to align my tasks in service of my clients and community, and Warrioress’ playful energy of action help me to make each day count.

I show up for my teams, my clients, my peers. I make introductions, offer an ear and shoulder to ease a concern, support them in the practice new skills or approaches to achieve their ambitions. I combine my wisdom from 20+ years in my field and my talents to enable them to show up with authenticity and joy. I bring a positive energy and hold the vision and desire to move ahead together.

Yet, I find in this ongoing lockdown loops, their isolation and uncertainty, I’ve spotted that I sometimes show up less for me. Somehow it easier to show up for others than prioritise my own needs and desires. Or as my inner voice says I’m “letting myself go”. 

With restrictions on exercise options and our ability to see others, I’ve found it hard to ensure my needs are met – I look at my needs creed on my noticeboard, I know I feel better if I eat the rainbow and move my body – then I still spend all day at my desk, snacking on oatcakes whilst squinting into my zoom room as my eyes get overtired. My mental fatigue is increased by my lack of movement and evenings of Netflix series, instead of getting up and out or cooking a delicious colourful plate from scratch. 

I know what creates my best platform for leadership. Yet I decide not to show up for me. I’m letting myself self sabotage and allowing my bad habits space to bloom. 

How am I focusing on showing back up for me? How do I get passed the resistance and shame I feel? How do I ask for help without looking weak and pathetic?

I’m reminded of the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and my way back to showing up for me as much as I do for others won’t be either. I need to be kind to myself, to recognise this is a phase and I can get back on track.

I’m setting myself little challenges and using the accountability around me. When my watch tells me to get up, I stick on a song and dance around in the next diary gap have. I use the accountability group I’m in to share a small action I want to make each week and with my coach, I’m working through my thinking and feelings to this moment in time and how it impacts my purpose. I’m seeking out inspiring people, who are sharing their real experiences.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Woman enjoying an open sandwich

I think it’s important to recognise where we are. I’m still saying YES to joy, playing in the snow, a virtual brew with someone I’ve not spoken to for a few months, but really want to collaborate with and delivering a couple of workshops in a free 21-day challenge with a team of coaches for those impacted by furlough and redundancy. I’ve also baked and listen to inspiring podcasts as I walked. My gratitude practices remain solid and open to a flow of “this and more please”.

And I’ve worn yoga pants or pjs under my desk, I’ve avoided going for a walk with a friend and eaten toast for several lunches. Some days are hard going, but each has a sprinkle of joy.

I work with women using the same tools and approaches I use myself. I teach breathing exercises and stretches from Pilates. I share resources that make good life habits easier like Good Club for organic store cupboard supplies delivered to my door. I create a safe space for vulnerability and honesty where it is ok to laugh, cry and get real about ourselves in all our glory. I hope my sharing today, demonstrates my ethos of living and leading through joy.

Keep showing up and be compassionate with yourself – whatever that inner voice says. Connect with others who you trust and you know want the best for you; let them support you, encourage you and motivate you. I hope you count on me as one of those people, whether we work together via my retreats, coaching programme or intensive sessions or your membership of the Haven, my Facebook group for women leaders.

If you’d like to know more about any of those ways I can support you or you’d like to simply share with me, drop me a line sarae@saraepratt.com