We are so excited today as we get to share an excerpt from a book that we have absolutely loved.  It's called Calm and it's by Fearne Cotton.
For anyone who doesn't know Fearne is a TV presenter, author, artist and mama amongst many other things and we absolutely love her here.

thirteen:fourteen is all about learning to love your authentic self and move closer to who you are meant to be and Fearne is the biggest example of this.  She is a goddess of cool and a unique, authentic, beacon of light.

We really took a lot away from reading her new book Calm.  It's a really personal and honest account of where Fearne is at with calmness in her life at the moment.  She is so open and it's super refreshing to hear from someone that is on the same journey as we are, to try and find more inner and outer peace in life.  Fearne also seeks advice and guidance from different people in the book and interviews them, which we found was really insightful too.

With books, sometimes its hard to really get the feel and tone without picking one up and buying it. Which is why we love being able to bring you an excerpt, to give you a taster and to let you get to grips with what the book is all about.

So here is Fearne talking about something that is super important to us here at thirteen:fourteen, listening to your body....



TU N E I N TO YOUR BODY
Have you ever taken an inventory of your physical self? I mean, just sat and scanned
over your whole being, noting what feels good and what doesn’t. As I sit at my kitchen
table now I can feel, very clearly, the bits of me that are content and relaxed and the
bits of me that hold tension and stress. My shoulders are tight and tired from carrying
kids and leaning over a laptop. My tummy feels full and content from the dinner
I’ve just eaten. My eyes feel a little sore from lack of sleep and my skin slightly taut,
which makes me think I’m probably a tad dehydrated. Doing this kind of body register
when you get a short moment of peace and quiet is a good idea. Ask yourself, how is
your body really feeling? Where do you store your tension and worry? Does it affect
your stomach and digestive system? Your back and shoulders? Your skin? Each of us
will have bespoke weaknesses that spark up whenever we are run down or pushing
ourselves too hard.
At times I get headaches when I’m mentally trying to accomplish too much and I
usually suffer with a grouchy back – not just from carrying the small people around,
but because it’s where I hold my tension. Worries and fears will cling on to my collar
bone and neck muscles and pitch up camp for a while, tightening their ropes and
tension the more my brain whirs.

WA R N I N G S I G N S
These are all signs – BIG warning signs – for us to take notice of. This is why the body
is so bloody clever; it tries to make it as easy as possible for us to see when we need to
change patterns of thought or lifestyle to keep it healthy.
Of course, we all ignore these signs or sometimes don’t even notice them as life
rockets past at the speed of light. It could be as simple as getting spots on your face,
or a recurring pain in your gut, but whatever the physical ailment, it is a sign that the
body isn’t happy and wants you to notice. Making time to check in with our bodies
is vital to support our general wellbeing. We all need to get out of our heads and into
our bodies more often.
After the release of HAPPY, something rather strange happened to me. In the book
I wrote a short piece about anxiety and stated that it hadn’t been something that had
caused me much grief in life. I always felt that depression was my weakness, but then
one day I was driving down the M4 with a great friend of mine, Clare, on a relatively long
journey. We were gossiping away about our favourite subjects – the Royal family and
Girls, the TV show – when I felt rather hot. I opened the windows and wriggled out of
my jacket without mentioning anything to Clare. (She herself experienced a pretty bad
car incident many years ago which makes me extra cautious when driving her about.)
Next my lungs started pumping like a pair of bagpipes. Uncontrollable, short breaths
flew out of my panting mouth as the world around me started to spin. This is not
exactly ideal when driving at 70mph on a very busy motorway, so I managed to pull
over safely and explain to Clare why our conversation about Prince Harry had come
to an abrupt end and why we were now on the hard shoulder half an hour from home.


I felt totally spun out and discombobulated. What was going on? I have always assumed
that personally my physical state comes from direct thoughts. If I think of something
negative, my body tenses. If I feel stressed, my body is twitchy. If I feel sad, my body
softens. But this was the antithesis of that. Our conversation in the car had been jolly
and upbeat and I was on the way home to see my gorgeous babies. No stress, no mental
drama, yet my body had taken a turn for the worse. I’d had a panic attack.
I had never experienced this physical manifestation before, so I had no reference
to grab hold of. All I know is that it felt like my very soul had jumped out of my
physical body; it had leapt out of my skin and was hovering, ghost-like, above me,
creating a separateness and intensity. My heart was beating for the two ’me’s that
were now in the car and my eyes were desperately trying to focus for both of us. It
was vastly different to what I had imagined. I’ve felt panicky and a little short of breath
before but this was potent and physically debilitating.


Embarrassingly yet thankfully, I was driven home by the AA that day (thank you,
lovely AA man, who also pulled over to let me wee in a pub due to the time it took to
get home!) and when I arrived home I sank into a strange mood of confusion. After
several hours of pondering and trying to understand why my body decided to shout
so loudly that it wasn’t happy, I sussed it. I know many people out there struggle with
panic attacks on a much more long-term basis and the reasons and catalysts for this
differ greatly, but for me I was simply exhausted.
 My mind has a habit of telling me to keep going, keep pushing,
keep trying, so I do, but now I was discovering I had pushed it too far and my body was
screaming out for attention. I’m not naturally good at relaxing so I do way too much most of the time. I love being a mum and a wife, I adore my job and I want to learn as
much as I can, but all this leaves no time at all for self-care. This motorway saga printed out some new rules in black and white for me:
NO MORE RUSHING AROUND LIKE A LUNATIC!


I took this experience as a one-off but unfortunately the very same thing
happened again, just a week after. This time it was brought on by the fear of what
MIGHT happen. Thankfully, though, after a few months of on/off panics I started to
find the fear dissipating. Now I can drive without feeling scared, just as I had done for
so many years before this incident, and I feel at peace with it all. A hangover of fear
has festered to some extent, but I have also pragmatically reasoned with these worries
and diluted them so that they stay in the past where they belong. More importantly
I’ve become much more aware of how much I physically push myself.
I know that my brain is often the messiest part of me, so short-cutting to physical
tools is my free pass to calm. Breathing deeply, relaxing my body and calming my
nervous system will keep me travelling in the right direction to calm. It is imperative
that we have some mental space without thought and this is often more easily
achieved with some physical activity.


The lesson I learned here BIG time is to listen to your body. If it seems unhappy, if
it is throwing you obvious signs, LISTEN to it! Maybe you too need to make tweaks to
approach life in a calmer way. I’m sure this applies to most of us out there as we chase
hundreds of goals, desires and dreams, but remember that calm is still attainable
alongside these ambitions with a little thought and a lot of self-care.

Calm by Fearne Cotton. Buy it on Amazon.