Story of Love – Episode 4

This Month’s Episode

In conversation with Nicola’s husband, Graeme, on Love

What’s love got to do with it?

That’s the question host Nicola McDonald muses on as she leaves her husband and family behind and flies to Australia.

In this episode of Right Time Write Now we join Nicola and her husband Graeme on a trip to the romantic capital of the world, Paris. We hear how Nicola sent love letters home as she embarked on her life-changing trip to Australia, and hear about the importance of self love.

Follow this month’s writing prompts to write a love letter to yourself and discover or rediscover self love.

An IT professional of 25 years, working across varied industries in a variety of roles from analyst programmer, through product development to consulting and finally consulting management.
Passionate about extracting as much fun out of life, within carefully constructed and constrained parameters.

Over six monthly episodes Right Time Write Now encourages you to explore writing to reveal the joy of being human. Write 1250 words after each episode and complete your own novelette by the time the series ends.

Nicola McDonald is a creative coach and author of “Plain Janey” and “In Search of the Christmas Spirit”.

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Instagram: @writeyourwaycoach_auth_podcast


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This series is produced by Big Tent Media.

RTWN04 Transcript

Nicola McDonald 00:03
Welcome to Right Time Write Now, a monthly podcast helping you to write yourself into a better place. My name is Nicola McDonald. I’m a creative coach and writer. And each month I will be coaching you through a writing exercise to reveal the joy of being human. Ready to get curious and creative? Let’s get started.

Nicola McDonald 00:28
Hello, and welcome back to Episode Four in my series Right Time Write Now. Thank you for tuning in and I hope you enjoy this episode and the series. To fully appreciate the process of this creative writing series. Start at episode one, and work your way through to now. Alternatively, listen to all episodes first, and if you are inspired, begin at episode one and enjoy the exercises. Each time I write I don’t completely know what will show itself what picture I will paint with words. I understand the topic I’ve decided. But I don’t quite know what will happen on the page when I let go and get to the heart of my learning. This month I am exploring – what’s love got to do with it? Well, plenty it seems. Each chapter you and I have written so far is an expansion on the previous. We are sticking to the topic. Love has much to say for itself. It will go on and on if you don’t rein it in. Remember to let go of the idea of perfection. This podcast is not about how to get published. It’s for you or anyone you wish to share it with. Enjoy the process. You have a month between each podcast to write, so don’t rush it unless of course word spill out. Let your creativity flow. As always write first and yep you’ve got it edit later. If you need time to think about what I say or ask, remember to use your pause button and take all the time you need. You have two writing challenges today. So grab your preferred device to write the first but have a pen available for the second. You’ll see why at the end when it’s your turn. As in previous episodes, I’ll give you some pointers to help you on your way at the end.

Nicola McDonald 02:24
I’m also very excited and slightly nervous today as I have the pleasure of chatting with my husband Graeme. As well as being my husband, a parent and my best friend, Graeme is also an IT Consultant. We met when he came to take my job. Long story short, my house sale fell through. We both stayed on at the same organisation. He was nice, intelligent and attractive, but not engaging in any way other than work. Suddenly, six months into his new role, he started talking to me in front of the grey filing cabinets behind my desk and not our typical one liner about a programme or process either. As our friendship grew, we would share tips and programme knowledge and he even babysat my cats when I visited my parents. We were competitive in our roles. Yes, we were nerds together. Or were we geeks? We certainly fell into one of the categories. Our love knew no bounds. We would sit for hours discussing CLP RPG and HTML, the power of SQL and we mustn’t forget Java, stored procedures and sub routines. This sweet talk turned us from friends to more. It was the next logical step! Well before I share our chat, let’s get started and remember, pause anytime if you need time to think or feel inspired to jot something down.

Nicola McDonald 03:49
Love. Chapter Four.

Nicola McDonald 03:53
I wrote eight handwritten letters pen on blue paper butterflies in flight depicted upon each sheet and in the curves and flicks of each letter of the English alphabet that made up the words, I recognised my mother’s handwriting. I felt both comfort and the loss as this memory surfaced unexpectedly. Love letter one to my husband was posted at Heathrow Airport on the day I left. He received it six days later with a first class stamp. Love letter two written at Singapore Changi Airport was posted two days into my stay in Western Australia (WA). It arrived long after I have chosen to return with resilience decided to face difficulties head on. Seven letters of love sealed and enveloped posted from a small town in WA to the UK. Asynchronous communication, whispers, love, wonderment, freedom and feeling good carried across land and waters for his eyes only. Intimate. Honest. I had never been away from him that long. 21 nights door to door airport to airport. I set my intention about relationships when I was a child. I never wanted a relationship where being apart was expected or the norm. As an Army BRAT or British Regiment Attached Traveler to explain the acronym, I wanted stability, and I knew what that looked like for me.

Nicola McDonald 05:23
Some years ago, my husband began traveling for work, and he would visit countries and cities on my wish list. Places I wanted to explore since childhood. It has always been important to me that we create virgin memories. So those countries or cities started slipping off my list. And my world of exploration appeared to shrink. I didn’t want memories conflated with those he had experienced already. I saw a future where the children would grow, leave home and my husband and I would travel. But life is what happens when you’re busy planning. Eventually, I had to concede this safety net I had put in place based on not wanting to feel an ounce of the misery or loneliness I witnessed in my mother, through her husband’s absence, was constraining and not sustainable in a modern world. I wasn’t winning the battle. More to the point it had no place in my marriage. It was time to write a new chapter, cross out the tired script written from a place of innocence.

Nicola McDonald 06:23
We are all responsible for our own happiness. Working on a project together was the hook of getting on the plane. My sister and I have spent more of our lives apart than together. And I had no idea what living her life is like. I didn’t know this version of her. I had no feelings of guilt, it surprised me. I chose to be selfish. And at that time, I did put my needs above everyone else’s. Because I’m not sure what continuing along the worn out path would mean. There was a little bit of control I had to let go of as I wondered how they would cope without me. And as soon as that idea popped in, I knew I had to board as many planes as needed and work on this project in Australia. Traveling alone on reflection is liberating. My husband was supportive of me taking this trip, perhaps he always knew I needed it. Everybody around us is on their own path. I would have experienced that trip differently if my husband were with me. I know we would have had a wonderful trip together. But the trip we would have taken was not the trip my heart and soul was craving at that time. I didn’t understand this when I said yes. I have already imagined our return to this beautiful country, him with me. I grew whole again in that space. Because I just was, My soul was healing with each day that dawned. I needed to change, I wanted change.

Nicola McDonald 07:49
Towards the end of my last week in WA, I had my aura photography reading. I’ve never experienced anything so uplifting. When I left, I was walking on air, floating. I was conscious and aware and validated. I could have spent hours in the spiritual space. I spent hours comforted by my spiritual state of being afterwards. This experience is still with me. I feel released and relieved of something that I cannot qualify, yet. It reinforced the truth about me. I am the maker of me, but I can equally be my destroyer. The power is all of ours. So I choose love. I choose self love. In order for me to nurture who I am and how I am when I am not a wife, a mother, a sibling, a friend or a support for the wonderful people I meet, I need to feel good about myself. That includes challenging myself and my tired narrative. Stepping out of our lane can feel like fear. But it’s not really. This irrational fear is a false friend keeping you captured. It’s liberating to cross that threshold and know that your repertoire, your skills have been expanded.

Nicola McDonald 09:02
I believe that in order for relationships to grow, you have to feel whole as an individual. I expect much of relationships. Synchronicity is about mutual energy. We meet people all the time, not all become part of our tribe. To maintain relationships, whether with a life partner or a friend, we first have to decide whether we are a good fit. I believe good friendships work because they are transactional and caring. Perhaps we offer discussions or literature or a good night out. Maybe we work out or walk together. Perhaps we are creative, paint or write? Perhaps it’s based on knowing that no matter the time, no matter the circumstance, we show up for one another. And those transactions, the give and take make us feel good on so many levels. We feel in a safe place. We’re seen and heard. But ultimately, while we can thrive on others’ energies for a short time, our responsibility to ourselves is much greater. We cannot run on empty. We do need to recharge our batteries. I would much rather be a radiator than a drain in my relationships. So I choose to grow and challenge myself when I can see I’m running low. And if alone is not possible, I find the right support.

Nicola McDonald 10:21
It is my choice to have a place beside my husband because he is my home. It transpired, it was a love and appreciation for who I am and how I am that was needed. I sent him eight love letters. I shared some of my experiences so he could feel a little part of it. I have renewed, and a new energy through my experiences. And no, I still can’t believe how much I love chickens. I love my sister. I admire her intelligence, tenacity, her wisdom and strength and she is kind and she is tough love and much love. I miss her and her way of living.

Nicola McDonald 10:57
When I flew home, I was greeted by my youngest son and husband at Heathrow Airport. They barely recognised me when I ran towards them. Gone was the black drab clothing I had left in charity shops. The oversized scruffy cardigan that when I dumped it, my sister said’ Phew. Thank heavens for that’. She had a twinkle in her eye, it made me laugh. If she had said that on the first day I’d have probably cried. I wore it like a shroud. Of course I arrived back home a cliche, wearing a hat. I’m only sorry it didn’t have corks on it. Nah I’m not really. The truth is that when you feel good It shines through. It’s evident in your smile and your attitude with which you pursue life. I have had to let go of many beliefs these passing years. I’ve shaken off old narrative and put ghosts to rest. My nails are no longer bleeding since I loosened my grip on yesterday’s regimes. 9200 miles away, you truly remember what it is that you were attracted to in someone you are in love with. But you also remember what you bring to the table, how you add value. I choose my husband as he is handsome and fun, and he is intelligent and sexy. He finds his alone time walking the dogs, or jumping on his motorbike. And our mental health is always improved by long walks where we talk for hours. But he has the wonderful capacity to smile every day and wake up singing. I typically can’t understand what the song is. So we get Alexa involved. And when he says Alexa play and I hear the version from the artist, much of the time, I’m quite literally speechless. Imagine that. A writer without words. He doesn’t always listen well, but he doesn’t try to change me and I have plenty of quirks of my own. I’m certainly nobody’s perfect. He is affectionate and sensitive. And there is nothing more attractive than a big sensitive man in my mind. We chose each other. We said forever. Here we are evolving together. Leading our lives and challenging our narrative. Being apart helped me to put on my oxygen mask. And I’m still breathing. And I’m still feeling good. I am still in love with him, 21 years on. I still heart us. And the project, the hook? It feels good to be part of it. I have much to feel good about.

Nicola McDonald 13:31
In February 2023 Graeme and I were lucky enough to have visited Paris. It’s a place I’ve never been before and had previously not wanted to go. It’s my own self talk that prevented me and I have to say that it surprised me. This city of love presented us with some challenges but more joy than I did imagine. We had no plans at all. But we seem to have visited the recommended tourist spots, including Galarie Lafayette, where I made my way to the fourth floor to admire and salivate over designer shoes. This love is much different to that which I hold for my children, husband, family or friends. I suppose my love for shoes is the same as another’s for diamonds. It’s pure desire. But I was good. These days I walk to most places and as much as the shoes I caressed were magnificent, I left them all on the shelf for others. I know kind of me, wasn’t it? The truth is, some shoes are like artwork that need to be shown off and putting them on a shelf at home to gather dust would be very unfair and make me very sad. My life has moved on from those days of stilettos and these days a nice pair of trainers to run or walk in is what I need for self love.

Nicola McDonald 14:49
Speaking of love, it’s time for my chat with the man of my dreams and occasional nightmares, Graeme.

Nicola McDonald 14:57
Where are we Graeme?

Graeme McDonald 14:59
We’re in Paris in the Mob Hotel.

Nicola McDonald 15:02
Yeah. What are we doing here?

Graeme McDonald 15:04
We are celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary?

Nicola McDonald 15:09
No! 18th! And that is staying in.

Graeme McDonald 15:14
Yeah. 18th anniversary, 21st anniversary since first date,

Nicola McDonald 15:21
and throwing Valentine’s in there

Graeme McDonald 15:23
and Valentine’s as well, it’s a smorgasbord of anniversaries.

Nicola McDonald 15:29
Last year was the first time I’ve actually been on holiday without you. So how did you manage when I was away? Don’t say really well, please don’t say really?

Graeme McDonald 15:39
Well, we did manage really well, though.

Nicola McDonald 15:41
No, but you didn’t.

Graeme McDonald 15:42
But that’s what you want to believe. That’s genuinely what you want to believe.

Nicola McDonald 15:48
Which is actually when I said

Graeme McDonald 15:49
we fell apart as a family and almost like a, like castaways when you eventually came back. We were there licking the food stains off the kitchen floor, because we’re all so hungry.

Nicola McDonald 16:02
So what did you think when I went to Australia?

Graeme McDonald 16:04
It was just, yeah, just do it. My biggest fear wasn’t you getting lost on the way. My biggest fear was you worrying about getting lost on the way because you were asking me questions around, What happens if? When I get to Singapore?

Nicola McDonald 16:18

Graeme McDonald 16:20
What do I have to do what get my suitcase off the carousel and then go put it back on another plane? And I was explaining that. No, they just that just happens automatically. You don’t need to do that.

Nicola McDonald 16:29
Yeah, I was kind of like a child because I’ve not done it.

Graeme McDonald 16:32
Yeah, that’s the thing. If you haven’t done it, of course you’re not gonna know how it works. So I was more worried about you worrying, but I knew as soon as you got through security at Heathrow, you’d be fine. And I knew you wouldn’t end up in New Zealand or South Africa, going Graeme, I don’t know what I’ve done!

Nicola McDonald 16:52
I think for me it was just the whole rigmarole. Did I have the right paperwork?

Graeme McDonald 16:58
Yeah, that was your biggest fear

Nicola McDonald 17:00
yeah, the visa and even the visa coming so quickly. I just thought this, this gotta be a mistake. Something wrong. So it’s all what was in my head. But it’s interesting, because obviously going and coming back home completely different. And I still am, I still feel very different. Now I’m challenging everything I used to think. Now we’ve had some good holidays, good together. But actually, it was really good to go on my own, not to try and get away from you, because I needed to change my story. I needed to change what was going on in my head. And nothing that was going on my head in my head actually happened.

Graeme McDonald 17:37
But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to go and do something without each other. No, I mean, that’s not inherently wrong.

Nicola McDonald 17:45
No, but in, I think that’s what I’ve been realising when I unpack it is that if, if we all couldn’t do it, then none of us can do it, that kind of thing. But actually, then the mental health aspect of where I was going with this control of, I mean, the reason I didn’t get there before was because I thought well I need to take the kids or want to take the kids then couldn’t afford it,

Graeme McDonald 18:13
and then the multiplier of cost,

Nicola McDonald 18:14
and then the cost and everything. And then it turns out, they didn’t actually want to go anyway. But it was a project that I genuinely genuinely worked on. Going out there and that freedom, that freedom that I felt, I just thought, oh my god, I can breathe.

Graeme McDonald 18:28

Nicola McDonald 18:30
It was liberating. A lot of what I’ve done, since I’ve come back is quite liberating as well, just actually doing this. It’s liberating. I’ve got my butt off the all these years I’ve talked about, where’s my voice in all of this? Because I’ve been shy as well. I can do my roles and stuff like that. There’s a shyness in me going well, what have I got to say? 21 years into our relationship, and we’re still evolving. And I think actually that’s the key, isn’t it? Because we’re not the same people that came together?

Graeme McDonald 19:05
No, we

Nicola McDonald 19:06
but there’s a massive amount of love and it’s going okay, we can’t make it work this way forever, because otherwise we none of us can grow.

Graeme McDonald 19:18
No, I think, you’re still the, you’re still the person at core. I think that never changes. When you have your morals and your principles.

Nicola McDonald 19:27
Your values and beliefs guide you

Graeme McDonald 19:29
but that doesn’t stop you wanting to experience something different. And you know, that was one of them. Right? I mean, there was a time when you hated me going away for work and still do right?

Nicola McDonald 19:40
Yeah, I don’t like you going away.

Graeme McDonald 19:41
I go away for work, I think the longest I’ve been away was for a week.

Nicola McDonald 19:46
I suppose what I’ve decided to do is to just, I have to let go of it. I have I have had too many worries where I’ve thought I haven’t heard from him. There’s a knock on the door. What’s that knock on the door? And it’s

Graeme McDonald 20:00
UberEATS! It’s the catastrophisation, isn’t it? The very thing you fear the most is the thing that is probably the least likely to happen.

Nicola McDonald 20:11
So what’s love got to do with it? That was one of the questions that I asked myself when I started writing and realised this was all about love.

Graeme McDonald 20:20
What’s love got to do with it?

Nicola McDonald 20:22
This evolution of us?

Graeme McDonald 20:24
You know, I’m not that deeply connected type of person.

Graeme McDonald 20:31
To anything?

Graeme McDonald 20:33
I feel things, but I can’t describe things with words,

Nicola McDonald 20:36
Well you’re gonna have to, because this is a podcast, or it makes it very dull.

Graeme McDonald 20:40
Can I do dance and we make it a vodcast? At a superficial level, it’s just everything is, it’s that connecting string for everything, isn’t it? The wines from everything you do. And even though you might be in Australia, or I might be in Dublin, or wherever, that still that kind of tether that pulls you back? If you know what I mean? It’s like the umbilical cord of

Nicola McDonald 21:05
I’m never, it’s not about being disconnected from one another.

Graeme McDonald 21:10
You just go off and do that. And then you always come home.

Nicola McDonald 21:12
The kind of thing that I’m not experienced before was the utter excitement about coming to tell you about all the brilliant things that I’ve done.

Graeme McDonald 21:21
Well this is it, but that was, and I was really excited about you coming home and I’m even when you were going I remember getting the, what was it, flight 24 app. I was watching your plane taxiing. And I watched it, takeoff. And then you know the bottom of our garden…

Nicola McDonald 21:34
You sent me a picture.

Graeme McDonald 21:37
I watched it go and then I could see Yeah, that’s a video that flying around that way. But I mean, that’s it, she’s gone.

Nicola McDonald 21:44
It could have been any plane to me, you know that don’t you?

Graeme McDonald 21:46
But it was definitely your that was the one you were on.

Nicola McDonald 21:48
Yeah, that was quite nice receiving that.

Graeme McDonald 21:50
And then I remember like, when I was coming back from Dublin, I actually came in through Terminal Two where you came in from. And I came out the bit that you came out of, and I remember you coming out and I actually very momentarily just had that same similar emotion of when you kind of appeared out of the doors like that. You know that when your eyes well up ever so slightly. And then immediately, the tide goes back in, they draw themselves back into you don’t. Oh, and I saw the cafe was down. And that’s where we went and had a little coffee and a chat. And you came back wearing your hat like a well seasoned traveler,

Nicola McDonald 22:27
the cliche. When I was writing I was thinking it just needed corks on it.

Graeme McDonald 22:34
Now that would have been such a cliche.

Nicola McDonald 22:37
No, I couldn’t go that far. Yeah, but you also commented on how I looked different from the person who went and I felt exactly that.

Graeme McDonald 22:48
Yeah, I think well, I guess it’s always that you were so, so anxious before going to travel about something going wrong, because you always think something’s gonna go wrong. I think we all do a little bit. And that’s why we that’s why we try and prepare

Nicola McDonald 23:01
Planning in your head for things that you have no evidence is ever going to go wrong.

Graeme McDonald 23:06
No, no, but I am the same, but I have lost my passport at an airport. Well felt I’d lost a passport. And that is a horrible feeling. Yeah. And so that’s why I’m always tapping and checking the pockets taking out three or four times check. It’s still my passport. And as soon as you get through the other side of the barrier, then things just tend to work. You know, it was a big, big build up to you going away. And then when you came back, in my head I imagined you’d come out come on and get in the car you want to get home or to get home. But you didn’t you like out is I want to still live in this vibe.

Nicola McDonald 23:40
I was exhausted.

Graeme McDonald 23:42
It’s what 13 hours on the plane from Singapore?

Nicola McDonald 23:45
23 hours I worked out. I can’t remember, different they’re in different back. But on the way back, it was just

Graeme McDonald 23:52
I think on the way there is even longer. It’s 26/27 hours.

Nicola McDonald 23:56
Okay. So having all that worry going there. The evidence was nothing like what was going on in my head.

Graeme McDonald 24:04

Nicola McDonald 24:05
You know, I know the distance between A, B and C

Graeme McDonald 24:08
And it was familiar like Changi Airport,

Nicola McDonald 24:10
And the insights wonderful. But yeah, it was a much better experience. And definitely something that I would now do again

Nicola McDonald 24:23
So, day two, I’m gonna let you tell everybody where we’ve been.

Graeme McDonald 24:28
We went to Monmartre, where we saw because St. Pierre’s church, and the Sacre Coeur and then lots and lots of people. So that’s where we went before that we went to the flea markets, which I can’t remember the name of

Nicola McDonald 24:44
Oh the fleamarkets was brilliant. Kind of interesting, isn’t it? Because I’m a planner. So at home, everything is planned. And I’ve come here and we’ve booked the hotel, not knowing where we are. And it’s really, essentially it turns out we’re in a really good place, surrounded by flea markets, places that I never find when we’re in London.

Graeme McDonald 25:07
So we’ve seen the Eiffel Tower

Nicola McDonald 25:09
We’ve seen it, we don’t need to go there now.

Graeme McDonald 25:10
No. Oh, heres the coffee. Merci!

Nicola McDonald 25:15
I’m still thinking, how surprised I was to actually see tourists.

Graeme McDonald 25:22
You did look almost offended at the number of tourists. You’re like this is ridiculous.Did they not know I was coming? Merci!

Nicola McDonald 25:31
I wanted to challenge myself because obviously the whole point of the podcast is challenging the stories that I’ve got in my head. I’m thinking okay, I know there’s a lot of people, but I’m just gonna go with it until I just got to the stage where I thought we need to go now. It’s the crowd and that’s what I was trying to challenge today. Have I made this up? Is it really the crowd? It genuinely is just too many people. I cannot enjoy something when all I’m doing is bumping into people or looking past people. And I kind of I suppose I have this romantic idea that somehow be able to do these bits on our own, which is nuts. Even me saying out loud is actually really nuts.

Graeme McDonald 26:16
The top of Monmartre, there were just a couple of couples just wandering around having a Gauloise in a cafe on the corner. When the reality is it’s heaving of people, every table outside and in is taken. Yeah, it’s just it’s just full of people holding mobile phones up at themselves.

Nicola McDonald 26:35
So I’m going to ask you again today. You knew I would, I told you yesterday I’m going to, so what’s love got to do with it?

Graeme McDonald 26:43
So we are in international city of love aren’t we? Paris. I don’t think you have like a singular amount of love to give that’s it, and it’s a pie chart if you give that much to that person, that much to that person eventually run out. I just think it’s limitless. I think you can..

Nicola McDonald 27:01
There’s different kinds of love aren’t there? I will say that I’m in love with you and I love my children and obviously love friends and…

Graeme McDonald 27:11
And I will say, I like you back!

Nicola McDonald 27:15
Sorry, I think we’re going to stop here so that I can just… [laughing]

Graeme McDonald 27:20
No, I love you, you know I love you. That’s one of the things that I love the most is I love making you laugh. That’s the bit that genuinely …

Nicola McDonald 27:30
What you actually said last night was I love making you corpse

Graeme McDonald 27:34
Yeah, when you’re with you’re cry laughing when you can’t speak or breathe purely through laughter That’s it cheers me up watching you turn to funny shade of blue

Nicola McDonald 27:52
Day three

Graeme McDonald 27:53
yeah really really enjoyed that.

Nicola McDonald 27:55
Tell everyone what we’ve done

Nicola McDonald 28:04
Right we’re sitting on a boat that’s a giveaway. We’ve come in from the cold

Graeme McDonald 28:08
yeah just kind of yeah but we then Nicola bought us a little trip in a Citroen 2CV

Nicola McDonald 28:15
What colour was it?

Graeme McDonald 28:16

Nicola McDonald 28:19
sorry love.

Graeme McDonald 28:20
Yeah, no, it was really good. We saw all the main sites. We ticked up all the big ticket stuff

Nicola McDonald 28:27
All in a 2VC

Graeme McDonald 28:31
We didn’t have to get out.

Graeme McDonald 28:34
He took us to the nice spots to get the best photos as well.

Nicola McDonald 28:37
Yeah, he was brilliant. So where are we now we’re on the…

Graeme McDonald 28:40
The River Seine

Nicola McDonald 28:43
Yeah. And we’ve been down

Graeme McDonald 28:46
we just came from the Champs Elysees, via, well we we drove through the Place de Concord got out on the Champs Elysees and then came over the Pont d’Alexandre

Nicola McDonald 28:57
And literally dived into here because it’s so cold outside

Graeme McDonald 29:00
so cold

Nicola McDonald 29:01
The temperature has really dropped. So I don’t really know what we’re gonna we’re gonna carry on walking aren’t we?

Graeme McDonald 29:06
Head down by the river towards the Louvre

Nicola McDonald 29:14
and then get the Metro go and get our luggage and then that’s it we’ve

Graeme McDonald 29:18
get the Metro, get the luggage, get another metro, get the train, and then home!

Nicola McDonald 29:24
So have you worked out what loves got to do with it?

Graeme McDonald 29:27
Yeah. Love is sharing a pot of potato bravas.

Nicola McDonald 29:34
It is

Graeme McDonald 29:35
that you want to share but your wife knows that.

Nicola McDonald 29:38
You’re actually, I’ve only had one, you’re actually eating them while I’m talking. It’s all about love. It’s in the coffee, it’s in the sitting in the car, me booking the 2VC drive because you spotted it opposite your work…

Graeme McDonald 29:53

Nicola McDonald 29:54
…one day and thought that would be fun and it was, didn’t disappoint.

Graeme McDonald 29:58
It’s about sharing

Nicola McDonald 30:00
about nurturing relationships and nurturing self love really.

Graeme McDonald 30:04
Well I think it’s about having a shared experience but also knowing what makes your partner happy. And, and wanting to make and wanting to make them happy. And sometimes that might mean a bit of self sacrifice. Anyway tuck into your potato bravas!

Graeme McDonald 30:24
I’m going to before you do

Graeme McDonald 30:25
because I’ve eaten most of them

Nicola McDonald 30:27
and that’s it, it’s a wrap. Well, it’s not…

Graeme McDonald 30:30
It’s just potatoes in a pot. There’s no wrap involved.

Nicola McDonald 30:42
Take action.

Nicola McDonald 30:45
We carry the burden of our ancestors, generations before, their worries, their struggles, but we don’t live in their past or our past. We exist in the now. And we need to work through what is truly ours. And that which has been left to us through good intention, or misguidance. We physically mimic our parents, carers or influences from such a young age. They may live on in our smile in a phrase our handwriting or body language. I don’t wish for a time that was and I don’t wish my children to live with my all so exhausting old narrative, born of my struggles and my concerns in a time gone. I am lucky to have chosen joy by coaching through writing and in talking to you. My story is not your story. Relationships are different for everyone. In the context of life, my marriage falls under traditional, and that is my choice. You will certainly have different relationship dynamics to me. After all, we are unique and our needs vary. I love that we are all so different. The most important relationship you can have is with yourself. So today I have two exercises for you. But first, a reminder of your story so far. In chapter one, you wrote about joy. In chapter two, you faced your blockage, anxiety and chose courage. In chapter three, you wrote about empowerment. Today in chapter four, that big discussion on love is here for you to explore.

Nicola McDonald 32:25
So here is exercise one, pick a device of choice to make notes and continue with your chapter four. Remember to pause as often as you need. Under the subject love, write about what love has to do with you choosing joy in chapter one. You might consider any of the questions that are relevant to your story.

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What did you achieve?

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How great was your need?

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Were your principals involved in the decision to be, do or have?

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How, if at all. were your principals a hindrance?

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How was your energy level before and after?

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Who did you leave behind to do that something?

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What does love mean to you?

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What does self care look like?

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What was your learning?

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How does your story about love begin and continue?

Nicola McDonald 34:12
By now you know a lot about yourself, which you perhaps hadn’t put into words before. If you have stuck to the brief in your stories, you will be more aware of your values, strengths, beliefs. And I hope you have a deep affection for that person who faces you in the mirror every day. It is only right that you should look yourself in the eye and tell yourself how special you are. My unexpected learning was realising I wasn’t affording myself enough love in my daily life. That’s not the same as saying I don’t like myself. Self love is about celebrating you and your achievements and decisions. Love is so very complicated and yet simple and difficult to write about. And then it flows. And yes, my sentence is an oxymoron. If anybody had the formula on how to be loved, do love and to have love, it would be bottled by now. Dive in, but not just yet, as I have a second writing challenge for you. And remember to press the pause button, make notes, take time to think, before carrying on.

Nicola McDonald 35:24
For writing challenge two, you will write yourself a letter of love. I ask that you whisper onto the pages in pen, I use the word whisper because it’s how it feels to me. The exchange is private, secret and intimate. It’s a whisper only you will hear. While you’re in your creative mode, find, design or purchase a special piece of stationery. You can use what you have to hand if you prefer but ask yourself, Do I deserve the extra effort? I can’t translate pictures in my head onto a page. So if you’re the same, find another creative way to make your stationery, pressed flowers, a heart, colourful shapes? Each process I asked you to undertake, I have already experienced. I have written two love letters to myself in my life. The first was written a very long time ago and I was bleeding pain onto the pages. I wished the future to be brighter. And so I finished with hope that travelling the unknown would be okay. When I opened it years later, I was in a much happier place, in a completely different space. What strength I had shown to get here. When I was made redundant from my IT management position around six years ago, I lost sense of who I am. But I had a determination about me. A good sense of what I wished to be, do and have. And it looked nothing like what I had left. I was specific – publish a book, become a coach, use my voice for good. I had attended a retreat run by Nina, featured in episode three, and Anna. They set the task to this positive letter of love to self. We handed our letters of love to another someone with the promise that when we needed it most, they would post it to us. Nina took mine. When I opened it a year later, I realised I had exceeded my own expectation of me. Or to put it another way I had underestimated me. Your words are powerful to you. Your self-talk is important. Be positive. You may not always know how you will get there but you never will if you don’t decide to try. Love yourself enough to write the letter. You may wish to keep hold of your letter of love. Put it in a safe place for a time in the future. You may wish to hand it to a friend and ask them to post it when they believe you need it. Or when you decide it is time. Whatever you do, be kind and highlight your amazing qualities. Remember who got you to the here’. Imagine where else you can take you with a little love and trust in you.

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Here’s a tip. If you are struggling to recognise your wonderful qualities, send a message to loved and trusted ones and ask your tribe to give you one word to describe your strengths. And for now, we’re just going to shake it off before you begin.

Nicola McDonald 38:31
Before you get to your writing challenges, it’s time to shake off a little tension. Sit or stand with space around you. Outside if possible. Close your eyes and smile. Starting with your right arm, begin at your fingertips and start to shake all the way up to your shoulder.

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Move across your shoulders right to left and back down your left arm, to the tips of your fingers.

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Continue shaking both arms. Spread them out in front of you to the side and above your head and down again. Shake them back down to your side. Then starting with your head, shake down through your shoulders to your chest, your tummy and hips. Shake your right leg, feel it in your toes. Do the same with your left leg. If you’re standing, move around your space a little otherwise, continue on your chair until the music stops or until you’ve had enough.

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When you are done, tension alleviated, grab the device of your choice and begin with your first writing challenge. Enjoy the process. Feel the Love. Remember when the time comes to pen your letter, get intimate with a beautiful piece of paper because you’re very much worth it.

Nicola McDonald 40:23
Thank you for listening to this episode of Right Time Write now. I would like to say thank you to a wonderful audio specialist and entrepreneur Suze from Big Tent Media who has helped make this podcast possible. And the thank you also goes to Emily from Emily Crosby Media who is assisting with the transcripts. If you have enjoyed listening then do tell a friend and consider leaving a rating or review wherever you listen to podcasts. All material in this podcast is the copyright of Nicola McDonald 2022 and must not be distributed without permission.