With journalist Rose Rouse
Rose Rouse has been a journalist for over 20 years. In 1984, she was pelted with bread rolls by Frankie Goes To Hollywood in the green room at the infamous TV music show The Tube in Newcastle. She’d given them a bad review a couple of weeks before. She talks about how journalists in those days took more risks and how ‘interviews weren’t just a gentle PR exercise’. She has great passion and a unique style of writing.
Rose writes about her exploration of Harlesden in north west London where she lives. In her blog, Not on Safari in Harlesden, she records a series walks she has undertaken at different times of the day and night, sometimes alone, sometimes with others. She’s been walking with all sorts of people from local Labour MP Dawn Butler to actor and writer, Alexei Sayle to poet, mother, artist and ex gas meter reader, Sue Saunders to documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux. And now me.
This summer I offered Rose a taster coaching session in a green space in harlesden to link in with her blog. Rose suggested our session takes place at The Welsh Harp – a site of special scientific interest – it’s 17o hectares of open water, marshes, trees and grassland.
Here’s an extract from her blog entry ‘The Welsh Harp with a Green Space Life Coach’ published this month.
We park at the Youth Sailing Club on Cool Oak lane. It has the air of having seen better days. Bits of litter, information boards covered in grafitti, but a wonderful view of the reservoir.
We set off towards the reservoir. Somewhere here there is a breeding colony of Great Crested Grebes but I have a feeling we are not going to find it today. There are weeping willows instead – so deliciously green – and she (Karen) asks me what my area of focus is today.
I decide to take a risk, and tell Karen, I am having difficulty opening my heart to men. And that’s what I want to change. I’m single. I’m happy and single. But I’d like to be happy and in a relationship with a man, so I want to address whatever it takes in order to allow that to happen.
As we’re passing a noble swan paddles across the reservoir, and a Polish family wander over to feed him with bread. At that point, Karen asks me what it would feel like if my heart was open. In a quiet, caring voice. She has a very graceful, compassionate presence.
I’m usually good at answering questions, but this is quite difficult. And the start of many similar ones. “Expanded,” I say feeling that is a very limited reply, so I continue, “when I’m camping in summer with a group of friends doing emotional work, I always feel expanded, and because I’ve just done lots of crying and laughing with others, my heart is more open than it normally is.”
I’m circumnavigating her question. She persists. “What would that feel like?” she asks as we notice a sign saying ‘Beware Blue Algae’. Oh dear, not so green after all. The Blue Algae is reflecting my fear of answering that question. I could have said ‘like ice melting’ or ‘like wood disintegrating’, but I can’t quite feel it.
And then we come across the most inspiring sight. A meadow of blue and white vetch. It’s almost unreal, it looks so untouched by fertiliser or gardener. We stand and take it all in – in silence.
This is the point. Difficult questions followed by enough space to reflect a little. We walk on, and talk about what has happened to me in relationships with men. “I’ve been hurt,” I explain, “so I closed my heart to protect myself. I needed to have time to recover and also for my heart to beat gently on its own, without needing another to relate to.”
“What is stopping your heart opening around men now?” she asks. I reply:”Fear and a fierce critic that can find fault with men.”
Are you afraid you are a little too independent now? “Well,”I say, “I know what I want and it doesn’t have to be conventional in terms of a relationship. I don’t need a man to move in. I would be content with someone who has their own projects and passions, but wants to spend some special times with me. I’m at a time in my life where I don’t need to have a relationship but I would like to.”
“So you sound like you know what you want,” she says. And I do.
We stare across the water as moor hens and mallard ducks pootle around. I like that word. It’s an idyllic afternoon.
I wonder where around here the naturists used to gather in their glorious nudity between 1921 and 1930 when some puritanical locals objected vociferously? 200 angry anti-naked voices. This was known as the Sun-Bathing Riot of 1930.
We turn back on ourselves now but via a different route away from the water. We see a group of ancient oak trees and allow ourselves to be truly fascinated by them. In that innocent, wondrous way.
I start to tell Karen about my last true love affair which lasted 5 years, which was torturous and extremely painful. He really couldn’t give in the way that I longed for. “It sounds as though you opened your heart too much to this man,” she says, “and it was wounded for a while, but now you are ready to try again.”
Exactly, I agree. At this moment, we’re walking very slowly and we stop.
Well, I do have a date with an artist this weekend.
This was like manna to a life coach who is eager to give to her clients.
“I’d like you to imagine how your heart would feel if it were really open to this artist?” she says.
I have to close my eyes and really let myself into a situation where my heart is soft. “What does your heart look like?” she continues, refusing to let me off the hook.
“My heart feels like a rose where the red petals are falling off to reveal its centre, and it smells very fragrant,” I say as I sort of sway in an involuntary swoon. Oh gosh, I’m really getting the Mills and Boon of this now.
Will this satisfy her, I wonder. No, no, not quite.
“And how will you know if your heart is open when you meet this artist?” she says.
I have to stop again and really allow myself to feel. “I’ll feel a golden, warm feeling flowing from my heart to his, “ I reply like a true heroine.
Now she seems content. She remarks that I was doing a little dance at the end, and she likes that.
But back to my critic. “What will I do if I feel critical about something to do with him?” she asks.
“I do feel a little critical already,” I say laughing. “because he smokes. And I do smoke but only occasionally when I’m at a party.”
This throws her a little. “Ah, well, there’s criticism and there are value judgements,” she says, “for me, personally, I couldn’t go out with a smoker.”
Ah ha, well, we’ll have to see.
By this time, I can see the Sailing Club car park appearing amongst the trees. “How will you deal with your critic if she raises her head whilst your on the date?” she asks. I suggest I have an internal dialogue to ascertain how worthy the criticism is, whether it’s coming from a value I hold dear, or is arising from my fear that I will get hurt if I get close to this person.”
Oh good, she’s OK with that. “Yes, remember, an internal dialogue is a great resource,” she says finally.
I want to come back to the Welsh Harp, there are butterfly and moth walks that I’d like to go on. I feel as though that was just the beginning.
And as for Karen’s coaching, I loved being asked lots of questions. Usually, I ask the questions. I revelled in having to reflect, and go through a mini-process with her.
To read the full article click here.