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A question for you to ponder on a long autumnal walk…

Hello friend

How have you been? I hope you have weathered the COVID storm and are doing OK in your corner of the world. It has been a while since I blogged regularly because, you know, life! But as we come into the last quarter of this extraordinary year, I wanted to reach out and check in.

A question for you to ponder on a long autumnal walk… PIP HORIZ ME2 1

I know of many people who can’t wait to see the back of 2020, but personally I am not rushing toward December. Autumn is a gorgeous time out in nature, for wrapping up warm and taking long walks, for catching up with old friends and harvesting the lessons from the year.

So for the remainder of 2020 I am going to write a new love note a couple of times a month, offering a question to ponder. I hope that’s OK with you. Sometimes it will be a reflection question, other times it will be one to inspire you to look up and ahead. Sometimes it will be a deep question, other times, simply something to get you looking a little differently at the world.

To begin, today’s question is this – an obvious but essential question to begin with:

What is the best thing that has happened for you this year because of all the disruption and chaos caused by COVID?

Perhaps you’d like to take this question for a walk, or chat about it to a friend or partner, or pop over to Instagram @bethkempton and tell me. I’d love to know.

Beth Xx

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PS If you are like me and love to use this time for reflection and planning ahead, but have become disillusioned by planning (because, well what’s the point when everything gets cancelled?) then you might like my brand new Perfectly Imperfect 2021 Digital Planner, which comes with an audio guide read by me, to help you distill the lessons from this crazy year and dream about what 2021 might bring. This is not your usual achievement-led goal-setting exercise. It’s more soulful than that, and encourages you to dream and scheme in the full knowledge that things might change, because they often do.

This planner has just been released and is available to buy here for just £7 (around $9) or you can get it for FREE with any order of my book Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year, which comes out in the US and Canada next week. To get it for free, simply order Calm Christmas in any format (gorgeous hardback, ebook or audiobook read by me) from any retailer and then put your receipt details into the short form here.

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If you bought the book last year, why not get a copy for a friend, then use that receipt to get access to the planner for free? Just a thought!

Inviting a Calm Christmas this year

What a year it has been! No-one could have predicted what would unfold in 2020. I hope you have weathered the storm and are doing OK. I wonder how you are feeling about Christmas this year? Perhaps you are looking forward to it more than ever, given all that has gone on this year? Perhaps you are dreading yet more stress and financial pressure, after the tough times you have already been through? Perhaps you are unsure how you will spend it, given the COVID restrictions, and any related health concerns. Perhaps you really need connection after a lot of time feeling isolated this year. Whatever you want and need from Christmas this year, I hope you will find ideas for it in Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year, which is published in the US and Canada on October 20, 2020.  

*FREE 2021 DIGITAL PLANNER WITH EVERY COPY OF CALM CHRISTMAS*

For the vast majority of us this past year, our plans have gone out of the window, travel has been halted, work has been impacted, our health has been at risk and much that we thought we could rely on suddenly stood on shaky ground. There was much about it which was tough, and for planners like us, it was disconcerting and destabilising in many ways. Our ‘perfectly planned’ version of 2020 vanished, and suddenly, like never before, there were gaping holes in our schedules and all sorts of new challenges in our lives.

Given all that has happened, is there actually any point in trying to plan for 2021? Well, I think so, because planning can be a creative and motivating act, as well as giving some kind of shape to our dreams, making them feel more tangible and possible. But perhaps this year there is value in doing it in more of a light-touch way – more like a hopeful visioning, whilst knowing that many things may or not work out as we expect.

The truth is, the uncertainty we have all felt so viscerally this year has always been there. It’s just that we built structures and routines and habits that make us think otherwise. The pandemic exploded so many of our assumptions, and revealed the truth that we never really know what is going to happen next. But that doesn’t mean there is no value in thinking through the choices we are making now, to make the best of things in the present and support ourselves in the future, whatever that future may hold.

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Perhaps 2020 taught you a few things about what really matters to you, and about what doesn’t matter so much, after all. Perhaps it made you realise that life is short, and it’s not worth wasting it in a career you don’t enjoy. Perhaps it made you feel financially vulnerable, and you want to do something about that. Perhaps it brought your health into question, and you realised you need to take better care of yourself. Perhaps it made you realise what pace of life suits you best. Whatever you learnt this year, this is the perfect time to reflect on that, and use that information to inform your choices about the way you enter 2021.

To help you reflect on 2020 and look ahead to 2021, I have created a special digital planner for you, which is free with any purchase of Calm Christmas. ‘My Perfectly Imperfect 2021 Planner’ is a beautifully designed interactive PDF, full of thought-provoking questions to help you reflect on 2020 and look ahead to 2021. If you’re a paper lover like me, you can print it out, pop in a binder and take it with you to a favourite café. There are even three different designs to choose from!

Inviting a Calm Christmas this year PLANNER OPTIONS

It’s not just your usual ‘set your goals for next year, then break them down into doable steps’ kind of thing. It’s more deep and soulful than that, and it recognizes how so many of us had our carefully laid plans decimated in 2020. It encourages a more dreamy, floaty and fluid kind of planning for 2021, which inspires and motivates, but also leaves room for things changing, as they so often do.

To get your free planner, just order a copy of Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year from any online or physical bookstore, in hardback, ebook or audiobook, then go to bethkempton.com/Christmas and pop your receipt details in the short form there. You’ll be able to download your planner immediately, and start reflecting, dreaming and scheming right away. Let me know how you get on – you can find me on Instagram @bethkempton #perfectlyimperfect2021

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A poem to make you think

I stumbled across this beauty of a poem today. I found it completely arresting. At first it felt sad, but then I remembered that it’s sometimes these tiny glimpses that prompt action to change something… or gratitude for what the settling has given us.

The Price by Stuart Henson

Sometimes it catches when the fumes rise up
among the throbbing lights of cars, or as
you look away to dodge eye-contact with
your own reflection in the carriage-glass;
or in a waiting-room a face reminds you
that the colour supplements have lied
and some have pleasure and some pay the price.
Then all the small securities you built
about your house, your desk, your calendar
are blown like straws; and momentarily,
as if a scent of ivy or the earth
had opened up a childhood door, you pause,
to take the measure of what might have been
against the life you settled for.

(found in The Poetry Pharmacy edited by William Sieghart)

Being prepared to follow the butterfly: a true story

“One of the most powerful things I’ve ever read. It describes exactly how I felt about the world before the pandemic, the stress that we were living with and how this enforced pause has allowed a unique chance to evaluate our lives. A revelation.” – one reader’s review of my new book ‘We Are in This Together’, which has just been released

After many hours sitting at my writing desk working on my new book a few weeks ago, I went for a walk in a conservation area near my home. I have been there many times and have a favourite route, which takes me over a bridge and past a pond, where I like to watch for ducks and water boatmen.

That afternoon, for the first time, I noticed a narrow turnoff leading to a small wood. Beyond a short corridor of green the path forked into three. Just at the point where it diverged was a fallen tree, split vertically, perhaps by lightning, into three perfectly equal parts. Each of the three shards of the trunk had fallen so precisely that one-third lay directly across each of the three forks of the path. Every visible route forward was blocked.

The vibrant young leaves clinging to the branches told me this was a recent, sudden event, although we haven’t had a storm in weeks. As I was pondering the mystery of this, a butterfly flitted past and pulled my gaze to the right. There was no path there, only long grass leading round the back of the copse, but it was passable.

I studied the scene, moved by how this felt like some kind of living metaphor for what is going on right now, and how we are being called to accept that the tree has fallen, and the path we know is blocked in every direction. Yet there is a way round and beyond if only we are prepared to change course and follow the butterfly.

There are so many stories in myth of going into the forest, and there is something distinctly mythical about what is going on now. The point is not to clear the felled tree and patch up the damaged pathways. It’s to forge a new path.

The time to start pondering what lies beyond is not when we get there, but now, as we step into the long grass. Because the sooner we start influencing that trajectory with our own actions, the sooner and further the trajectory shifts.

This is our chance to reimagine what could be, and ready ourselves for a cleaner, more conscious inhalation as we step forward into whatever follows all this.

But reimagining is not always easy, especially when we are being pulled in many directions, weighed down by uncertainty and unsure of what the rest of the world will do next. That’s why I wrote We Are in This Together. I have brought to this book a decade of experience helping people to navigate turbulence and reconfigure their lives to do more of what they love.

It’s a short read – about half the length of Wabi Sabi, or just over two hours in audiobook format, but it may be just what you need to turn the remainder of this time into a catalyst for something new and good.

You can get your copy here (or here in the USA or Canada).

Here’s what some of the first readers have had to say about it since it came out on Thursday:

Just finished this wise and comforting book in which Beth brilliantly captures the crazy, emotional rollercoaster we’ve all been on over the last few months. It’ll be a future classic but for now it’s a must-read for anyone who’s struggling or simply wanting to take stock of their lockdown-altered lives. That will be all of us then!”

“It made me cry because it was like suddenly finding a language that I understood. I had been struggling with loneliness and periods of depression and then the lockdown happened and I just began noticing things and feeling an immense freedom. Then I discovered your beautiful writing and this book and I will always be so very grateful and amazed at the path that led to it.”

“I can’t stop thinking about this book.”

“Can’t recommend it enough.”

“This is an essential, urgent message that everyone needs to read.”

“A soothing and reassuring read to help you take stock and make enlightened choices in these strange times.”

“Just devoured this (audiobook) in 2 hours. You’ve done it again.”

“It is just amazing.”

“I will hold onto this as a way of reflecting on all the things, good and bad, that the pandemic has brought. It’s a keeper!

Sound inspiring? I very much hope it is! You can get your copy here (or here in the USA).

Do hit reply and let me know what this book sparks for you, or come and share on Instagram over @bethkempton.

Much love

Beth Xx

There is no rush, but there is a window. Thoughts on motivation at this time.

Greetings from my garden, where I have been spending a lot of time lately. In fact, I’d go so far as to say my garden has been one of my greatest teachers during this time. When lockdown hit I was overcome with an elemental desire to plant vegetables. I think it was a combination of wanting to feel more self-reliant when so many decisions were being taken out of my hands, along with uncertainty about the food supply, and a desire to spend more time outdoors. Whatever the motivation, the garden has been a place of solace these past few weeks, and I am so grateful for it.

As I studied the backs of the seed packets, trying to figure out what to plant where and when, I was struck with the realization that in nature, there is no rush, but there is a window. A particular variety of lettuce might be best sown between March and May. So if you are in early March, there is certainly no rush. If you haven’t got round to it by April, there is still no rush. Come May, the window is closing, but there is still no rush really. There are plenty of days to find five minutes to sow those seeds. But if you leave it until June, or July, or September or December then the window will have closed. There will be another window next year, just not the one that was open to you back in Spring.

I think that is going on now. I know from your messages and questions that a lot of you are feeling under pressure to do something significant with this time, not least because you have seen lots of other people posting about their commitments to lose weight, or launch something new, or write a novel during lockdown or whatever. I have a couple of things to say about that.

Firstly, nothing beautiful is ever born from comparison. Creativity flourishes when the pressure to do what you think you should is OFF, not when it is on. The fire burns when the heart is attuned to something that matters to you because it is aligned to who you are.

Secondly, there is ebb and flow in all of life. If you were rushing and pushing and jostling and being super-productive before this, it’s not surprising that you are now in a lull. That’s your body finding balance. The time for output will come again soon, but perhaps now is not that time, and that is okay.

Thirdly, pottering can be part of the process. When I go on writing retreats to write long books, I spend a lot of time physically writing words. But I also spend a lot of time walking and thinking, tidying my pen supply, making tea. It’s pottering, and it looks pointless, but it is where the gold is being shaped. So perhaps your current pottering is part of your process, and it is to be welcomed. This is a very special opportunity to step back from everything and notice the details of our lives and there is real value in that too.

So if you feel like you want to do something significant, but things just aren’t flowing right now – or you can’t even imagine having the energy to think of something you’d like to do, just remember what the seeds teach us: There is no rush, but there is a window. It’s fine not to do it today, or tomorrow, if the timing is not right. But there is a window for everything, which will close eventually, so it’s good to keep coming back to things and seeing if you are ready yet. And if not, perhaps it’s worth accepting that this window might close, but another will open, because it always does.

I talked about this at the Morning Meeting on Instagram @bethkempton this morning. I have started a new daily practice of showing up on Instagram Live to answer questions you have about dealing with the uncertainty of what lies ahead, and reimagining a hopeful future. If you have any such questions, please just hit reply and I’ll add them to my list. I’m going to be on Instagram in the morning UK time every week day until all the questions are answered. You can also watch the replays on IGTV (just go to my feed @bethkempton).

If you want to really explore what this time has meant and could mean for you, and get a host of inspiration for life beyond this, don’t miss my new book We Are in This Together which is out on Thursday! (Yes, I had a big burst of creative energy and wrote a book during lockdown, but then I had a big rest, and now I’m back. Ebb and flow, see?) You can get your copy here(or herein the US/Canada). And for everyone pre-ordering it I am offering FREE access to my new writing course ‘Words Heal: Writing in times of crisis’, a beautiful new two week workshop to help you explore your feelings around this situation, and create beauty from it. If you want free access to that class (worth £20) just click here and fill in the short form after you have ordered the book.

Much love

Beth Xx

I have something for you…

I have something for you…
 
If your head is spinning and you want something to calm it, and bring clarity and hope, I have something for you.
 
If you want a shot of positivity and reasons for hope, I have something for you.
 
If you know you don’t want to go back to how things were before, but are not sure how to move forward, I have something for you.
 
It’s called ‘We Are in This Together: Finding hope and opportunity in the depths of adversity’. It’s my new book, and I wrote it for you, for this moment. It’s out on Thursday in audiobook read by me, or ebook (can be read on the Kindle app on any device). You can get your copy here: https://hyperurl.co/iz4l69 (or here in the US/Canada: https://www.amazon.com/Are-This-Together-Opportunity-Adversity/dp/B086XJ79RV )
 
And I have something else for you too… if you pre-order it, you can come and join my new writing class for free. It’s called ‘Words heal: Writing in times of crisis’ and it’s a two-week, gentle yet inspiring live writing class run by me in June.
 
To sign up, pop your book receipt details in the short form here: https://dowhatyouloveforlife.com/course/words-heal/
 
I hope both of these are a friend in the weeks and months ahead.
 
Much love
Beth Xx

Writing is medicine and it can help us get through this together.

How have you been doing lately? I have been thinking about you, in your corner of the world, dealing with the things that have been thrown at you, and I have been quietly sending love.

We all deal with difficult situations in different ways. For me, writing always helps.

Whether that means journaling to get something out of my head, penning poetry to find beauty in the darkness, exploring ideas on paper or channelling my fire into a new book,

I always find that words are my medicine.

We are all grieving something right now. Lost loved ones, lost freedoms, lost jobs, lost rites of passage that will never take place, old pieces of our lives that will never return in the same form.

Collectively, our healing is going to take a long time, but we can begin where we are, putting words onto paper, and letting our hearts speak.

That’s why I have created ‘Words Heal’, a short writing class, offering gentle guidance, inspiring prompts and an insight into the writing life, to help you write your way through this. You can join me for this live class over two weeks in June (worth £20) for FREE when you pre-order my new book ‘We Are in This Together: Finding hope and opportunity in the depths of adversity’.

Writing can be medicine, and we need it more than ever at times like this. This short online class will equip you with tools to help process some of the complex feelings that bubble up in a crisis, stabilise your ship and find reasons to be hopeful. It will also help you hone your writing into something deeply personal which will help you connect with others.

If you want to join me, it’s simple:

  • Pre-order We Are in This Together on Amazon. If you are in the US/Canada, the audiobook is here. The ebook will be available for pre-order from early next week so please check amazon.com then.
  • Click here and fill in the short form with your details. That’s it! Then you’ll get my new book as soon as it is out, and I’ll see you in the writing class on June 8.

Much love at this time

Beth Xx

We Are In This Together. A book of hope for unsettling times.

A book just poured out of me in sixteen days. I didn’t know it was possible, but there was an urgency so loud in this unsettling time, and it is done. 

It’s called ‘We Are In This Together: Finding hope and opportunity in the depths of adversity and it has been one of the most important projects of my life. 

We are in this together. We will get through this together. And maybe, just maybe, the world will be a better place on the other side.

If you only ever read one thing I have written, may it be this.

It’s available for pre-order in ebook and audiobook read by me) here and will be out on May 21. NOTE: If you are in the US/Canada the audiobook is available for pre-order here now, and the ebook will be available on amazon.com from next week.

Huge thanks to every one of the hundreds of you who responded to my questions about your experience just a couple of weeks ago. I read every word, and your thoughts informed this book. We wrote it together.

I really hope you are doing okay.

Beth Xx

A few thoughts about the times we are in

And the day came when the world slowed and started to remember the good things, like how much we need and care for each other, how the simple things matter most, how we need less than we think, and how a good book can see us through all manner of things.

I have seen a lot of people posting about ‘these uncertain times’. But let’s remember that times are always uncertain. Us twenty-first century humans tend to construct our lives to give a sense of permanence, forgetting how fragile everything really is. I can’t help feeling it would be a whole lot better for our collective mental health if we took a moment to remember that everything is changing all the time.

The impermanence of things is a fundamental law of nature. Things come and they go. Whatever things are like at the moment, they won’t always be like that. They won’t ‘always’ be like anything. There is ebb and flow in the river of life.

If you are finding yourself all at sea with the not knowing, this is for you:

Acceptance is alignment with the truth of the present moment. In this present moment, what is true about your life? You are holding your phone, or sat at your computer, reading this. Perhaps you are drinking a cup of your favourite tea, or you keep getting distracted by a fly buzzing around the room.

Maybe your window is open and you can hear cars going past. Or the sun is casting shadows across your desk as you try to get used to working from home. Or you are washing your hands for the twentieth time today. Perhaps you are at the hairdresser’s, getting ready for a special night out, or perhaps you just phoned to cancel your appointment because the night out isn’t happening now. Perhaps you have stumbled upon this post just after an inspiring conversation, or a big argument, or some surprising news.

Maybe you are reading this on the bus, with half an eye on someone coughing a couple of feet away. Or maybe you are in your kitchen with a sudden urge to nourish your family with organic food, watching the oven to see if your homemade pie is cooked.I wonder if you are hot, or cold or just right?

If you can smell cooking, or the garden or the impending rain. Do you have music playing? Is the clock ticking? Are you soaking in the bath listening to the sound of your own breathing?

Take a moment to think about the facts of your life in this exact moment. This moment is the one you are living right now. You cannot extend it for ever. At some point the pie will be done, the bathwater will go cold, the night will close in.

Accepting that we cannot hold on to or control the status quo is a powerful teaching from wabi sabi, reminding us to treasure the good we have right now, and know that the bad will pass.

Any time you feel stressed or worried, upset, lost or lonely, anchor yourself in the facts of now. Notice what’s going on in your body, and what’s going on around you. Feel what you are feeling. Know that this is just a moment, and soon it will give way to another.

Any time you are feeling overwhelmed, try to accept that what is possible in the present is limited. You can only do what you can do. This is not a shutting off of possibilities, but rather a recognition of your own capacity, so you can stop expecting impossible things of yourself and give yourself a break.

Any time you recognize a moment of true joy, soak it all up. Anchor yourself to the sights, sounds and smells of right there and then, so they can transform into a precious memory when the moment has passed, which it will.

Take good care. It’s going to be OK,

Beth Xx

A few thoughts about the times we are in BethKemptonAugust2018 195

*New book for you!* Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year

Friends, I wrote a new book for you. It is a book about Christmas. But it’s also a book about belonging, connection, self-care, joy and ordinary magic. Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year offers inspiration for a new kind of holiday season – one where you radiate calm and cultivate delight. Spanning late November to early January, Calm Christmas embraces the festive build-up, the celebrations and the turn of the year in a holistic, nurturing way.

*New book for you!* Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year BK Christmas 218 BLOGCROP

Let me whisk you away from the frenetic energy of the high street and invite you to come sit awhile by the fire, pausing to explore what a more mindful festive season could mean for you.

Full of personal stories, tips and advice for slowing down, staying calm and connecting with others, it offers a welcome retreat from the pressure to create ‘the perfect Christmas’.

*New book for you!* Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year BK Christmas 557BLOGCROP

At its heart Calm Christmas is about a book about wellbeing in winter, which will encourage you to use this time of natural hibernation to germinate new dreams and nurture a beautiful life in the year ahead. Instead of entering January exhausted, further in debt, and already regretting broken resolutions, you will begin the New Year with precious memories, feeling rested, rejuvenated and inspired.

This atmospheric book will lead you through the darkness of winter, back to the enchantment of an authentic and meaningful Christmas and New Year.

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I hope you will pick up a copy for yourself, or gift it to a friend. You can get your copy here or from any good bookshop. If you are in the US/Canada you can get it from bookdepository.com with free shipping!

Beth Xx