Heart Hugs

Heart hugs are the hugs where you are as close as humanly possible to another person and are enveloped in their arms. It is the most vulnerable and yet secure hug. I call them heart hugs because when I give a heart hug I try to get as close to the other person’s heart as possible, almost imagining 2 halves becoming whole and our heart rhythms synchronizing.

Coupled with a heart hug I slow my breathing right down. Slow, deep diaphramatic breathing has been shown scientifically to reduce stress and calm the nervous system down in healthy humans (Russo, MA, et al., 2017). It also builds deep connection, especially if the person receiving the hug is overwhelmed.

Hugs have been a part of my life, from my upbringing as a child into adolesence and adulthood. It is how I feel, and express, love and care for another human. With the coaching work I have done for my own personal development, the depth and openness of my heart has grown exponentially bigger. When I work on something truly personal, deep and resonant it feels like my heart becomes a little fuller and a little softer. It is warm and safe, yet alive and ready for anything.

How does this fit into coaching?

This fits into coaching because the feelings I describe above of closeness and support are the feelings that I aim to create between my clients and I. I do a lot of Trauma-Informed Process Coaching work with my clients and it requires a level of vulnerability that can be very intimidating and triggering for them.

Disclaimer, sometimes this can be so triggering for clients that therapy is the most appropriate treatment for a client. Where that is the case I work with them to find a therapist if they do not already have one or know one. As it stands, the majority of my clients have either had therapy in the past or are in therapy currently. The combination of coaching and therapy is incredibly powerful.

To create resonance and that safety to explore deep emotions requires a lot of enquiry into a clients boundaries, exploring how they feel safe when they are triggered, and offering an invitation into what is possible when we explore those boundaries.

Triggering is that feeling of wanting to run away and hide, or fight. Otherwise known as the fight/flight response, or sympathetic nervous system. What is fundamental about this response is how we respond is unique to all of us and is a culmination of all of our past triggering experiences right back into our earliest life experiences, including pre-conscious memory. This is where coaching and therapy share ground because personally I cannot affectively Process Coach with a client without exploring how they respond to triggers, which come in all shapes, sizes and forms.

This is especially true when working with clients who are looking to make big life changes but find they are constantly giving up or feel helpless as they try to make the changes. Saboteurs feed triggers so also become part of the conversation. With the conversation about what triggers a client comes the opposite end of what supports them. That can lead to a whole labrynth of discovery especially if they have never felt supported in their lives before.

What is possible when you lean into heart hugs?

In my honest opinion, anything is possible. If you can practice showing up with vulnerably it not only opens up the opportunity for transformation coaching but also spills into the rest of your life. Life Coaching is a commitment to elevate your life to the levels which far surpass the limiting beliefs you consciously and subconsciously allow to determine how high or how far you are prepared to go to realise your dreams.

I can safely say from my own experience of working with my own coach there is not a single area of my life that has not been touched by the work I have done. I have laughed, cried, danced, screamed, gotten angry, wept, ached with unimaginable pain, and celebrated at a depth never experienced before, all from the work I have done with my own coach and having the accountability that goes with coaching.

The best gift of all is that by exploring the deepest, darkest depths of my pain and sadness I have been able to feel love, intimacy and connection in ways I could only imagine or dream about before. And for me it all comes back to that feeling of safety and connection between my coach and I, which I describe as a heart hug – I know I am safe to feel all the feels and my coach will not bolt and run on me. She also has her own coach and does her own work to be able to do this with me, that is the cyclical nature of coaching.


If what you have read above has resonated with you and you are longing to find out more, get in touch. I create a safe, judgement-free and open environment, and welcome all who are curious to come in. No sales pitches, just open invitations.

Sending a big hug from my heart to your heart.


Russo, MA et al., (2017) The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5709795/ [Accessed 5/13/2020].

How to cope with Anxiety

With Everything that is happening in the world right now, there are a lot of people who are experiencing elevated levels of anxiety. Flick through social media or talk to people you know and in all likelihood you know someone whose response is ‘my anxiety is at an all time high right now’.

I think we can all probably relate to feeling a little more anxious than usual given the present situation. We are in unpresidented times with borders being closed for the first time ever and self-distancing and isolation being the order of the day. So, how do we calm down the anxious beast inside?

Get clear on what your truth is and stare it square in the face and meet it. Running from it does not achieve anything except make it think this is a game of chase and this beast is a relentless son of a bitch. Here’s how you get clear on what your truth is:

Acknowledge Anxiety

Anxiety is very real and is not something to be dismissed. Acknowledging your anxiety is the first step in helping you cope with it. Dismissing it just compounds the anxiety further or makes you feel like there is something wrong with it.

Ways you can acknowledge your anxiety

Give it a name. In coaching we can the destructive habits and feelings saboteurs. They are the pesky things that always come up at the worst time and they feel all-consuming. As a way to create a new relationship with them we give them names. Grab a pen and paper, or your phone and write down a name for your saboteur. You may have a few that you want to address independently. The name(s) can be real or made up. For example, my first saboteur was named after an old boss I used to feel undermined me, much like my saboteur would try to do.

Now you’re going to create a relationship with it. You’re going to get to know it, how it feels, what it thinks. You don’t have to own any of what it is saying but you do need to hear it. Now you’re going to share with it how you feel when it gets right up in your face and stops you doing what you want.

A visual I like to use is that the saboteur is like a child poking your leg. In the beginning you can ignore it, but give it long enough and you end up exploding and getting angry. Rather than ignore it you need to start addressing the child early on and hear what they have to say. You’re the adult in the relationship so you have a choice about whether you choose to accept it or not. For purposes of an example let’s call my saboteur Fred. Here’s how the conversation could go:

Fred starts poking me just as I am about to hit publish on an article.

  • Me: ‘Hey Fred, what’s up?’
  • Fred: ‘You know what you’re writing is garbage and nobody gives a shit about any of it?’
  • Me: ‘Damn Fred, that’s harsh. I know it doesn’t resonate with everyone but that’s ok, it’s not meant to resonate with everyone.’
  • Fred: ‘Nope, that’s rubbish, you just suck.’

Right now I have 2 choices, accept what Fred is telling me, that I am garbage and nobody gives a shit about anything I write, or to thank Fred for sharing his thoughts and say I choose to do something different. Here’s how I address him:

  • Me: ‘Fred, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me and your honesty but right now I choose to do something different and keep writing. I know my work doesn’t touch everyone but those it does, it touches deeply.’
  • Fred as he walks away: ‘You know it’s going to fail, I’ll be here waiting when it does.’
  • Me: ‘And I’ll still be here if it succeeds too.’

This conversation can happen in any situation. Take the current coronavirus situation and fear that many people are feeling. I’ll use Fred again:

  • Me: ‘Hey Fred, not seen you for a while, what’s up?’
  • Fred: ‘You know this coronavirus, it’s literally going to take over the world and we’re all going to die. You’re definitely going to get it because you are weak.’
  • Me: ‘Wow, Fred, that’s brutal. You know what yeah I’m scared of coronavirus. My family is 1000’s of miles away and flights are getting more and more restrictive. If anything happens I might not be able to get home to see them. It makes me feel sad and it can be an emotional challenge. But, regardless of whether I go back to the UK or not, I have to look after myself first otherwise I am no use to anyone. I have covered my basic needs; food, medication, shelter, safety. I have also cut back massively on social interraction. My world has become work, home and seeing my girlfriend when I can.’
  • Fred: ‘You know the fact you’re leaving the house means you’re going to get sick and then you’ll die.’
  • Me: ‘I do know there are some risks when I leave the house but if I am sensible and keep direct interraction with people limited then I keep those chances at a minimum. I also work as a key worker with youth who can’t get home to their families so it is even more important for me to look after my health.’
  • Fred: ‘Why would you want to help anyone else at the moment, they don’t care about you, they’d walk over you to steal your last toilet roll and not think twice?.’
  • Me: ‘Well, thanks for your honesty Fred but I choose to do the work I am doing because they need my services right now and I have faith that if I should get sick I have done the upmost to put in place resources to get myself through it.’
  • Fred: ‘You’re kidding yourself, but ok, go for it.’

It is not a case of winning the argument, it is a case of giving your fears and saboteurs space to have their word. Denying they exist compounds everything they are telling you.

These conversations you can have in your head or out loud. I have been known to have them sat in front of a mirror talking out loud, it just depends on where I am and if anyone is around me.

Learn to ask for help

Right now is a great time to lean into any discomfort you have about asking for help. Over the coming weeks and months we are all going to need a little help. Create relationships with your neighbours so you can call on each other if you are running out of supplies or if someone is doing a grocery run so you don’t all have to go out and do it. The more you learn to ask for help and accept help from others the smoother this time is going to go.

Help might also come in the form of simply having someone you can talk to about what is going on. A safe person who you can openly vent about frustrations and fears you have. They don’t need to fix the problem but simply hear it and allow it to be ok for you to have these fears and frustrations. They are all normal and natural feelings to have.

Coping strategies

  1. Breathing – Breathing is such a powerful way to self-regulate. It is so fundamentally basic yet we all can forget from time to time how to do it properly. Deep belly breathing is effective and calming. Forgotten what belly breathing is, watch a baby breathe. We’re all born doing this but as we mature into teens and adults we forget how to do it and breathe from the top of our chests, only belly breathing when we laugh until it hurts, cry in pain or have severe coughs.
  2. Be around genuinely positive people – Being around genuinely positive people is really important. It helps to feed more positivity into your own life and provide perspectives that differ from your own. The crucial part about this is making sure those positive people are genuine. We all know a person who is ‘fake positive’, they say positive things or falsely act positive when they are anything but. These people suck the life out of you as you yearn for them to be honest for once.
  3. Journal – Writing in a journal is a skill many people seem to have forgotten about over the years. Journals are your safe haven to write about how you feel, what’s your truth and really get ideas out of your head. It can be very cathartic to write, especially when you feel overwhelmed. I am a big advocate of writing by hand vs online or on a computer. There is something very therapeutic about using a pen and paper journal. If you struggle with anxiety make sure to include at least 1 win for the day in your journal entry. Examples might be, ‘I went to the superstore when I was super anxious about being in a crowd’, ‘I spoke to a stranger to ask for directions’, ‘I got up and got dressed despite having no desire to leave the house’, ‘I made the bed this morning when I got up’.
  4. Bring back silence and Meditation – People these days are so afraid of silence. They fear being overwhelmed with emotions, boredom, wasting time. Silence is a gift. Silence is when you get to stop and hear your thoughts. Meditation is one way to make use of silence. This allows time to filter through them and let them go if they do not serve you. This can be a great time to journal. Silence also creates a space for boredom and boredom is great for coming up with new and creative ideas. Many businesses started from people being bored and starting to think about a solution to a problem. You do not need to sit for hours and hours in silence (unless you want to), take 5-10 minutes a day to intentionally be alone and be silent. There are also some great apps out there for guided meditations; Calm and Headspace are 2 off the top of my head.


If you are struggling with any of the above or want someone to help you walk through it please get in touch. I am available in a number of different ways from E-Coaching through to Video Coaching.

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Values – The Foundation of Everything We Do

Our values are the foundation of everything we do. It determines the satisfaction in our daily lives and affects how we show up in our relationships, careers, for our family, friends, and in the face of adversity.

Early on in my coach training we did an exercise to identify our own values in life and as coaches. It was a life-changing experience for me and created the foundation on which I made many changes in my life, from ending a relationship, completely changing my career and digging into my own depths to really look at who I am and what I want in my life. At the time I was not completely clueless but I also wasn’t mindful about what was missing in my life and why I was not feeling fulfilled.

This is common because people are often living to meet values that are not their own because nobody stopped them and gave them the opportunity to look in the mirror and decide if these values were theirs or not. Many of our values are informed by our parents, either we adopt them or we steer the completely opposite direction depending on our upbringings. It is common to find that values people are trying to fulfill are values they were told directly or implied by their parents and/or teachers, and now as adults they have never questioned them.

With every client I work with, we start by identifying their values. This becomes a continual source of reference throughout our coaching relationship. For every change a client wants to make we look at the values that will be being met with that change they want to make, and whether the change will dishonour any values. During times of adversity, like right now when there is so much uncertainty around us regarding the Coronavirus and potential job losses, values are what can help keep you grounded. They also give you great guidance when you are scared and the strength to articulate those fears out loud.

My Values

Right now, like many of you, I face the possibility of being laid off from a job I love, clients asking for cheaper rates or stopping coaching altogether, but I still feel grounded.

Why? Because each day I make it a priority to make sure I do at least one thing to honour my own values that doesn’t cost me money. My top 5 values are:

  1. Honesty
  2. Integrity
  3. Silence/alone time
  4. Serve others
  5. Genuine

Right now with social distancing I am spending a lot of time alone. I like being alone and silent. It is when I find I become most creative; I meditate, I walk alone, and I spend time on introspection and checking how I feel emotionally.

With this time I am writing more and enjoying exploring my thoughts. I listen to the sounds around me. Right now I am sat at my desk listening to the birds chirping away and the faint sound of traffic and an airplane overhead. It is telling me the world is still alive and full of lots to celebrate. I am also more aware of what visually surrounds me; the sun, blue skies, and green trees. Physically, I feel a light breeze and the warmth of the sun.

Honesty and integrity I use all the time. In my relationship they are fundamental parts that have to be there. If there is a problem or concern in the relationship it gets spoken about. If there are feelings of lust and love they also get voiced too. I also work with youth, some of whom are struggling with social distancing and being away from their families. I create a safe place for them to say how they feel unedited. People often fear other people’s honesty but I believe with honesty although I might not like what the other person is saying at least I know their truth and with that I have something to work with. My job is not to change their truth, my job is to help them change their truth if the truth hurts and they don’t want to feel that way any more.

Serving others. My whole life is about serving others because in serving others I feel purposeful and fulfilled. Serving others does not mean being their doormat, it means working with people to help them live the life they want, being there when others run away, and creating safety for them to be their genuine self. In my service of others I am genuine, honest and have integrity.

Being genuine to me means being true to myself and why I do the work I do. It is vulnerable and not everyone likes it but it’s me, and I am ok if people don’t like me for it, because there are others who are attracted to work with me because of it.


If you are interested in finding out your own values and exploring what they mean to you, get in touch for a 30 minutes discovery call. I am open for business and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Sessions are available online over Skype, FaceTime and Zoom, and over the phone. I work internationally so if you are outside of Canada, still get in touch, I would love to hear from you.