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How I’m Doing Things Differently

Sharing my creative process

Over the years I have spent so much time formalising my writing into articles and blog posts, carefully crafting, editing, revising. But that’s not how I want to do things anymore after reading Austin Kleon’s book Show your work’. In it he advises Think Process, Not Product.’

Sharing the process allows for connection

Austin says that by letting go of our egos and sharing our process, we allow for the possibility of people having an ongoing connection with us and our work”

This! This is what I want. After all, I know that there is an art to what I do. And I know that there are people who will be interested in that art. So sharing my writing, and thinking process allows the connection with people along the way rather than when I have finished’1.

Sharing more, more often

Creating something takes time. A lot of time. Like, shit loads of time. So. Much. Freakin’. Time. But I have so many notes, links and connections that may help someone else right now.

So rather than sharing when I am 100% finished (and I know some writing projects may even be abandoned), I want to share what I have…NOW!

And because I am a compulsive note-taker and note-make, I can share much more, more often when I am thinking process, not product.

Tricking my ego

As a lifelong learner I appreciate that everything is a work-in-progress. But I have let my perfectionism get in the way for far too long causing me to stress over sharing anything less-than-perfect.

And honestly, I am so done with the pressure to get everything right immediately and to create a post that supports my brand’ (whatever the hell that’s meant to be)2. Hence the way I post on this website is in part, a trick to play on my ego as it gives me the permission to post my incomplete thoughts and disorganised notes…in public.

Instead I want to test ideas, get feedback, and revise my opinions along the way. I want to show my work, my process and help people realise that I am an equally mediocre human doing The Work of trying to understand the world and make sense of it alongside you” (Maggie Appleton). Hence that brings me to my next point…

Learning in Public

Learn in Public; the practice of sharing what you learn as you’re learning it, not a decade later once you’re an”expert”3

(note re: expert”) A label you may never officially earn unless you’re in a highly structured and bureaucratised industry that loves explicit hierarchy rankings. The rest of us are left to deal with perpetual imposter syndrome.” — Maggie Appleton

I know nothing. Seriously! The more I learn, the less I know. Which means that I am always learning. And learning is scary. It makes you feel inadequate. A beginner. Not good enough.

Which is exactly why I refused to share some of my work in the past because I was worried about being judged by other people. And it is this fear that has led me to sharing my creative process and learning in public.


Surely I am more likely to be judged for not knowing enough when I am being open in this way? Maybe. Maybe not. Let me explain…

Benefits to Learning in Public (I hope)

I have a few reasons for wanting to learn in public:

1. I will not be an expert

I hate that word. Like, really hate it. And I want others to know that I am not an expert in any field (despite being called it many times). I simply put in the hours (and hours) to figure shit out. Honestly, no experts here!

2. There is no room for shame

Sometimes there is a shame to not knowing something. We always feel that everyone else knows more than we do and will be judged for not knowing. But as Brené Brown said…

If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”

Learning is usually done in secrecy. In silence. And often with (our own) judgements. But because I know I have the most amazing, empathetic people who follow what I do, I know there is no shame to me learning in public.

3. A source of truth

We have all been trained to present ourselves a certain way in digital spaces. You know what I mean, right? Perfect. Clean. Filtered. But that’s not the truth when it comes to learning.

Learning has rough edges. It’s messy. And disorganised. And scary. That’s why I want to learn in public and share my creative process with you. To show you what’s really behind the scenes. To show you the truth.

4. Learning along with with me

I always believed that I needed to know more than anyone else. That I needed to know it before anyone else. Like it was some sort of, competition. As if all the knowledge in the world was a piece of pie and teaching something to someone else took away my slice of the knowledge. That I needed to keep everything to myself4. What a load of bullcrap! To quote Austin Kleon:

Teaching people doesn’t subtract value from what you do, it actually adds to it. When you teach someone how to do your work, you are, in effect, generating more interest in your work. People feel closer to your work because you’re letting them in on what you know

Hence, it is my intention to share everything I learn, and continue to learn…with you! So the minute I learn something, I am going to turn around and teach it to you. And I’m hoping in doing so it will not only be intimate and public but weird and welcoming too.

What this means

However in sharing my creative process and learning in public, that does mean 3 things:

1. Posts are always open to revision and expansion

Posts on my site are not 100% complete. And nor will they ever be. They are a work in progress, living documents that are designed to evolve alongside my understanding. 

After all, the more I am open to learning in public, the more mistakes I will openly make. Which means that I will need to correct, amend  and edit as I continue sharing my creative process with you. 

And because they are an imperfect presentation of what I know at this moment in time, it means that when I do learn something else, they will inevitably need revising. Again. And again. And again.

2. My posts are not a set of polished, carefully crafted posts

As I have already said, I am working hard at letting go of my inner critic and perfectionism, something that can often paralyse my creative process. As a result you will not find a set of polished, carefully crafted posts for the majority of my posts.

They are not pretty. They will not have images just for the sake of making things look nice5. They will have spelling mistakes and be grammatically incorrect, especially when they are in the early stages. But they will change. They will be corrected, moved around and linked to other posts. They will evolve. And so this brings me to my final point…

3. Please be kind!

Again these posts on my website are not complete or representative of my best work. Instead they are often a way for me to share my own interests and current state of knowledge6.

But as it is my website, I have a right to be wrong or incomplete in my writing (either due to lack of time or knowledge). And so I ask politely that you will not hold this against me. Because I will keep learning and the site will keep evolving…with your help.

Feedback and sharing is welcome - that is the whole point of this being public! You are expressly welcome to message me, counter-argue, or disagree with anything here. And I promise I will listen to you (even if I do not agree). I will be especially grateful if you could suggest what else I should include, read, watch, or listen to.

But please, please, always remember to be kind.

  1. btw if you’re one of the ones who love to see the process…let me know!↩︎

  2. I guess after making the best mistake ever I don’t have to worry about what that actually means any more!↩︎

  3. Quote is from Maggie Appleton who wrote a A Brief History & Ethos of the Digital Garden”.↩︎

  4. I guess this links to the feeling of shame, inadequacy and perfectionism?↩︎

  5. So much time has been wasted trying to find the perfect’ image. Seriously. I mean I have often spent more time looking for the right image to go with something I have written than the writing itself. Talk about backwards.↩︎

  6. So if you have the same interests, then this space is also yours to use as a reference.↩︎

November 9, 2022 article

I Made The Best Mistake!

Yesterday I turned 40. But if I’m honest, I’ve been feeling mid-lifey like crazy for the last 2-3 years. Maybe Covid had something to do with it. I’m not sure. Either way, I knew I wanted things to be different in the second half of my life. I just didn’t know exactly what, or how. 

Hence over the last year I have been playing around with my business, with work, with how I write, with how I share what I know.

Then a week before my birthday, it hit me. I needed to stop using social media. Obviously it’s not just about social media. But this was the main thing that I knew I needed to start with.

10 years of posting to facebook

After all, it’s been 15 years since I created my facebook account.  10 years of which has been writing and sharing everything I had learned. 

That’s 10 whole years that I had my Body Mechanic’ page where I wrote about movement, fitness, Biomechanics and therapy. This then evolved into Sarah Keates Andrews’ and focused on female health, hormones,  menstrual cycles and menopause. 

That’s 10 years of posting, almost daily, sometimes multiple times a day, the majority of which was new information. Building up a following of 16,000 people.

A Love-hate relationship

I love collecting research, connecting the dots with other areas, and creating something. I love being able to take a subject that is highly complex and make it easy to understand, to help others relate to. 

But I hate the expectations that I put on myself. The expectations to keep creating. To keep posting. To work on getting likes and followers and fucking shares. It’s exhausting. (I know many of you who have your own business pages and will know what I’m talking about.)

I Deactivated deleted my account

Anyway, my point is that I needed to take time away. So I made the decision to deactivate my account which I was intending to do for the rest of my 40th year. 365 days of no social media. Of no posting. Then after that time I could make a decision of how to move forward. 

BUT it turns out, I didn’t read the small print (which actually wasn’t small at all). And I DELETED my page. 

Oh, my ego had a field day. What the fuck have you done?” Well done for screwing this one up!” 10 years of work down the drain”.

But, my deeper self, well she took the longest breath out and smiled. She knew that this was what I really wanted. To untether myself from everything. To cut the ties that had been holding me for so long. Ties that had been binding me so tight that I struggled to breathe. 

My husband, well he just didn’t get it. Just don’t go on it” he would tell me. But it was never that simple. It was an addiction. To write. To share. To read comments. To take to heart everything anyone said. 

I can finally breathe again

Now it’s over I can finally breathe again. Whether it was subconscious or not, deleting that page was the best thing that I have done in a long time1.

What now?

Now one thing I have learned over the years is that things change whether we like it or not. And when they do, we are often faced with the question…What now?

This in itself can send us into a spiral of panic. A dark unknown territory. With fear and anxiety expanding with the uncertainty of it all. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Asking What now?” can also be our joy.

As Ann Patchette says…

It is a declaration of possibility, of promise, of chance. It acknowledges that our future is open, that we may well do more than anyone expected of us, that at every point in our development we are still striving to grow.”

So, what now? Honestly, I don’t know. I have some ideas but the first thing I am doing is lowering my expectations. I am letting go of control and letting life unfold. I am surrendering to possibility and chance. Because I know the more I tether myself, the less I can breathe.

And I want to breath. I want to create space for wherever life takes me.

Keeping my website

That said, I have decided to keep my website up. And I will continue to write and share what I learn. But I will do so on my own terms rather than following all the should’s’ that the gurus’ tell you to do when it comes to keeping a website.

I will write and share because I have something interesting. Not just for the sake of it. Not just because I need to maintain a presence’ within the digital world or because I need to grow my following’.

So, I will not set a schedule of how often I will post (or email you if you subscribe to my newsletter). But rather, when time allows, when I feel the nudge’ to research and write and share, I will pop by and say hello.

And although I may continue to write about the body, about pain and fitness, hormones and therapy, wellness and female health, I may also write about other things too. It will be more like us sitting down as friends for a coffee 2, and me sharing what I have read, learned, thought and felt recently. Should you be so inclined, you may want to write back and share your thoughts too. 3

  1. I have to admit, if I knew I was actually deleting the account I know for sure my ego would not have been able to let me.↩︎

  2. and cake of course↩︎

  3. Which would be amazing by the way!↩︎

November 8, 2022 blog

Perimenopause Is Like Climate Change

I used to be able to identify each of the 4 phases (Inner Seasons) of my menstrual cycle.

Firstly, Inner Winter or menstruation where my hormones are low and I want to hide from the world, restore my energy and reflect on the past cycle.

Then my Inner Spring or follicular phase where oestrogen begins to rise and my energy, motivation and excitement do the same. I am a playful, social, mischievous version of myself that doesn’t want to miss out on anything.

After Spring comes Summer, ovulation, where my oestrogen and testosterone peak, and I’m an absolute boss at everything. I am the most authoritative, eloquent and confident version of myself.

Then it’s into Inner Autumn or the luteal phase where progesterone dominates and I’m getting things organised, focusing on the essentials and making decisions. I’m a mellower, more mature, empathetic version of myself.

And then are my transition days. The voids’. The in-betweens.

The transition from summer to autumn and from autumn to winter, when my hormones are dropping and I feel the ground giving way beneath means I need to lower my expectations and get more sleep.

The transition from winter to spring and from spring to summer, when my hormones are building, I experience headaches and anxiety (a bit like a caffeine hit) meaning I need to take more breaks and not let my ego (oestrogen wild side) take over.

This is my cycle. This is what I have studied and got to know at a profound level. I could literally predict my energy, my motivation, my moods. Each cycle would be the same as the last. And I could pinpoint when my vulnerabilities would show, what days I would have certain strengths’ and what I would need each day in order to support myself.

But as my cycle and hormones have changed over the last few years, and more so the last 12 months, I am struggling. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally.

Some cycles are my normal’ 4 phase (four-season) cycle where I am ovulating and my body (and brain) knows what’s going on and what to expect.

But then there are more and more anovulatory cycles.1 Hence I am spending more time in the void’, in the in-between.2

Not only that but my oestrogen surges over and over again as my body does it’s best to make ovulation happen. And obviously in-between the surges we have drops in oestrogen.3

As a result, I am experiencing more hormonal shit-shows. Take last week for instance. I went from feeling and overwhelming gratitude and peace within my body one minute into an uncontrollable rage the next.

This then moved into a deep, end of the world, black hole, sinking feeling before leading into an excitement and energy for the possibilities ahead. A confident, change-the-world feeling.

Which then dropped into anxiety and an whelming fear which made me want to run and hide from the world I was supposed to be changing just one minute ago. Honestly, it was over and over and round and round for days.

The thing is, I can cope with these feelings as they arrive through each season of my cycle (which they do). But when they come at me all at once I feel…crushed. Lost. Confused. Raw. Vulnerable.

After trying to explain to my husband what I was experiencing last week (after he took the brunt of my meltdown), he said it sounded like climate change’. Like I was experiencing all the seasons in one day (like it does here in the UK). And he was spot on.

That’s how it feels. And funnily enough, in the book Wise Power, the authors have written the same thing about perimenopause…

The Inner Seasons don’t work in the way I’m used to - they can all happen at any moment in the anovulatory cycle. It’s like climate change. It is climate change!”

I have learned to cope with my vulnerabilities as they arise in each of my phases. I can predict them and I know what I need to support myself. After all, each phase has different vulnerabilities, and so different needs.

But when all my vulnerabilities come at me at the same time and I have no way of predicting, I don’t know whether it’s suncream, a rain coat, snow boots or an umbrella that I need.

However, one of the things that has helped the last few days is reading Wise Power by Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer which I highly recommend if you’re going through perimenopause or as they call it, the Quickening.

It’s made me realise that even though I may feel lost and disorientated as my menstrual cycle, my anchor, starts to come adrift, all of this is entirely normal.

In your 40s you hit the autumn of your menstruating years. It’s normal now to feel a restlessness kick in and an urgency to answer life’s deeper questions: What’s it all about? What do I really want?’”

The authors say that our 40s are all about listening more strongly to that deeper pulse within us, the one that is beyond societal expectations and demands.”

And that we may find an awareness of the impact of our past and a desire to understand ourselves better.

In a nutshell, this autumn phase of our life really is the time for inner work and healing.

It’s true that, hormonally, you do shift in your 40s, but that doesn’t need to spell declining health, as though it were an inevitability. Your hormonal health is a monitor and mirror of your overall health and wellbeing. So, think of it as a report card on how you’re doing — with any symptoms as a cry for attention, for self-care. You can’t ignore or take your health for granted any longer. Self-care is now non-negotiable.”

So as I approach my 40th birthday, what I need now is to use this time to learn. To rethink how I support myself during this time. To heal. To nourish. To continue to grow. To understand this normal transition and to use it to guide this next decade of my life.

  1. This is when an egg is not released and so ovulation doesn’t happen. No ovulation means no progesterone.↩︎

  2. Or maybe I should call this the upside down!? Just a thought↩︎

  3. I can always tell what my oestrogen is doing by observing my cervical mucus. Cervical mucus increases in response to rising oestrogen. Therefore more oestrogen means more cervical creamy or egg-white mucus. Low oestrogen means dryer days.↩︎

November 7, 2022 blog

The Reality of Disc Degeneration: Understanding Pain and Abnormalities on Scans at Any Age

According to research by Brinjikji et al.(2015), more than half of us have disc degeneration in our 30s. And obviously these percentages only rise with age1.

You can’t see this, but I’m getting balder. Every day I look in the mirror, I’m getting balder. But nobody would ask me if I’m getting terrible headaches because of it, because there’s no suggestion that — you could joke and say I have degenerative scalp disease, but really that’s just genetics and a process of aging. The stuff we see on scans is very much like that. But people tend to think this disc degeneration is a pathology and it’s not, no more than baldness is a pathology.” — Dr. Kieran O’Sullivan

68% of us have disc degeneration at 40 years old. 80% of us have changes in our 50s. And 88% of us in our 60s.

The thing is that all these subjects were found in those that had NO pain at all. They were what we refer to as asymptomatic.

So again, these people had something that many medical professionals believe is an issue (and some believe issues that require surgery), but they are experiencing no pain or dysfunction.

How on earth then can we take a scan of someone who is in pain, who have the findings of those people above, and determine that it is the reason for their pain.

Surely if that was the case then EVERYONE who had those findings should have pain, right? Wrong. Again, see the results from the study!

Everyone is different. For some, their findings may actually be the cause of their pain. For others, it may not be quite as simple.

Again, many people who are are symptomatic (who have symptoms) will have scans that show the same degeneration as those who are asymptomatic (who have no symptoms).

So the fact is, scans are only one part of the jigsaw. And as a result they should be interpreted closely with other clinical findings to determine the cause of symptoms.

And if nothing else, please remember that pain does not always correlate with damage (or abnormalities). Sometimes the changes found on scans are simply wrinkles on the inside.

  1. (Brinjikji et al., 2015) Brinjikji, W. et al. (2015) Systematic literature review of imaging features of spinal degeneration in asymptomatic populations.’. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol, 36, 4, 811-816. Available at:↩︎

November 6, 2022 blog

The 4 Second Workout

OK. OK. I admit. The title is not exactly accurate. But it’s still good I promise. Hear me out…

So there are no two ways about it. We all know that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an effective tool to improve fitness. But what I really liked about this study is that they looked at VERY short bursts of high-intensity intervals paired with short recovery time. Which is perfect for those of us with limited time to exercise.1

During the study the participants exercised 3 times a week for 8 weeks, completing Power Cycling training sprints. Basically the workout consisted of a 4 second maximal effort followed by a 30 second recovery time. This was repeated 30 times for a total of 17 minutes. 2

Over the weeks the recovery time was reduced to 24 seconds and then 15 seconds, meaning that the total session time dropped to just 10 minutes. And in reducing the recovery time this meant that the cardiovascular stress was increased ie they had to work harder. 

The conclusion? After 8 weeks the results showed that the programme was effective for improving total blood volume, VO2peak and maximal anaerobic power. In a nutshell…they got fitter! 

Of course there are limitations to this study. There were only 11 participants. And the average age was 21. But still, exercising does not have to take over our lives. Even short bursts are beneficial. Something to think about when we’re putting it off.

  1. Or who just don’t like it!↩︎

  2. (Satiroglu et al., 2021) Satiroglu, R. et al. (2021) Four-Second Power Cycling Training Increases Maximal Anaerobic Power, Peak Oxygen Consumption, and Total Blood Volume.’. Med Sci Sports Exerc, Available at:↩︎

November 5, 2022 blog

Sex Reassignment Gives Interesting Insights Into Hormones & Pain

A study by Aloisi et al in 2007 gives us interesting insights into how hormones influence pain during the process of sex reassignment. 1

The study looked at Male to Female (MtF) transsexuals as well as Female to Male (FtM) transsexuals. 

They found that a third of the MtF subjects actually developed chronic pain during their treatment with oestrogen.

And even those that did not develop chronic pain, they still reported a decreased tolerance to painful events and an enhanced sensitivity to thermal stimuli (both warm and cold). So to simplify…

↑ Oestrogen = ↑ Pain

Not only that, but when looking at the FtM subjects who had chronic pain before the start of treatment, more than half improved after starting Testosterone treatment. 

And they reporting reduced numbers of painful episodes & shorter lengths of those episodes that did occur. So to simplify again…

↑ testosterone = ↓ Pain

So does this mean that oestrogen causes pain whereas testosterone improves pain? Unfortunately, it’s not as straight forward as that. 

  1. (Aloisi et al., 2007) Aloisi, A.M. et al. (2007) Cross-sex hormone administration changes pain in transsexual women and men.’. Pain, 132 Suppl 1, S60-S67. Available at:↩︎

November 4, 2022 blog

Women’s Health is NOT Niche!

There is an idea that women’s heath is niche’. At one point I even believed this myself. But is it really??

There are 8 billion people worldwide1

  • 3.96 billion females Worldwide → 49.5% of the world’s population are females
  • 34.9 million females in the UK → 50.8% of the UKs population are females
  • 170.2 million females in the USA → 50.6% of USAs population are females
  • 699.4 million females in China → 48.1% of China’s population are females

I have heard some coaches and therapists say that women’s health” is not relevant to them. But no matter which part of the world you work in, you WILL see a lot of women in your career!

  1. Current world population by country. Population data for every country as of 2022↩︎

November 3, 2022 blog