Guest posted from the Quiet Connections blog:
This week Ellie had the privilege of interviewing the wonderful Emily Wheeler from Strength in Feathers. We invite you to dive into the blue world with us as Emily inspires us on the benefits of blue health.
Ellie: Hi Emily, it’s great to chat to you and thank you so much for speaking with us, we really appreciate you being here! Could start by introducing yourself?
Emily: Hello! I’m Emily, and I’m a writer, wellbeing practitioner and Blue Health Coach based in Falmouth, Cornwall. Last year I started Strength in Feathers as a Community Interest Company to support people’s wellbeing and nature connection through expressive writing. I’ve always found solace in reading and writing, as a way to cope with and make sense of ‘the outside world’. As a highly sensitive person, I often find situations overwhelming, and really benefit from the balance and stability that written reflection provides.
Ellie: That’s a wonderful way to connect together, through the power of writing and nature. Life can feel very over stimulating as a highly sensitive person, so it’s lovely to hear you have found your solace. You do a lot of work around water, could you possibly explain what blue mind and blue health is and what it means to you?
Emily: Blue mind and blue health mean different things to different people, but for me they are about noticing the natural phenomenon of water and what it does for us. A lot of this is about gratitude, but it also serves as a powerful metaphor and reminder for me as I navigate my own emotions and experiences. It’s almost like a kind of spirituality; connecting to something bigger than ourselves and realising that it’s very natural to change and flow through different states – whether we like this or not!
To give a specific example, it brings comfort to me that the sea can be in a terrible rage and breaking itself into pieces one day, and then restore calm and beauty the next. And this balance is so necessary. But completely still, tranquil water would soon become stagnant and unhealthy – and before that probably quite boring! Crashing waves shift the shoreline and help evolve change. These metaphors could be over-done and cringe-worthy for some people, but I think that’s okay. They’re not for everyone, but they work for me.
A big part of the blue health and blue mind movement is also about protecting our planet’s incredible water resources. I have to admit that the environmental movement is the side of blue health that I want to increase my awareness of, mainly because I always feel ‘under-qualified’ in this area. As someone who has always been categorised as ‘artist’ rather than ‘scientist’, I always felt like I had no place in the climate discussion. In recent years I’ve seen how flawed this thinking is, and begun to recognise the role that creatives can have in supporting our environment. In fact, I think it’s essential. People protect what they love, and falling in love with the environment – particularly our oceans – can be hugely enhanced when people creatively express how they connect with nature, and how healing and beneficial that connection can be.
As an introvert, it can also feel as though I’m never doing enough for the environment because I’m not shouting about it. So much of the narrative around climate action is about protest, speaking up and being heard. It’s incredible that people are doing that, but the louder style of expression often feels out of reach for me. I’m still figuring out how my work helps the climate cause, and I think it’s got a lot to do with gratitude and connection rather than blame and fear.
Ellie: That’s a beautiful explanation, Thank you Emily, there is so much to blue health that I’d never realised. I love the metaphors you chose too, definitely not overused and a great reminder of how we are ever changing and ever shifting. I can definitely relate to you regarding the feelings of being either an “artist” or a “scientist” too. I feel naturally any of us that connect with nature naturally want to save it, whether we know “how to” or not; and we all have that ability to help in little ways which are all unique. I have no doubt that your work inspires many to create a connection and allow care for the ocean and nature; this alone is a beautiful and powerful way to allow others to care! So, how has blue mind thinking helped to benefit you personally and do you feel its made an impact on your feelings of confidence?
Emily: I don’t know if I could say that blue mind has had a direct impact on my confidence, but perhaps what it does is help me to understand and accept myself, which then has an impact on how confident I feel around other people or in challenging situations. That’s a very personal and internal thing, but also on a practical level there are wonderful communities that collect around blue spaces. Whether that’s a competitive sailing club or a chilled sunrise seaswim group, shared interests are always my go-to for meeting new people, and the water is my comfort zone which I come back to time and again.
Ellie: The understanding of ourselves is such a big part that blue mind thinking can bring to the forefront, and it’s really wonderful that it’s helped you to accept who you are. Thank you for sharing this personal insight. Could you suggest some ways for people to help ‘blue their mind’ – your top tips for getting more blue in your life?
Emily: Living by the coast in Cornwall, my blue practice is quite beach-focused, but people can tap into the benefits wherever they find water connection – or even the colour blue. There’s a lovely meditation I like to listen to which is about flowing downstream, letting the current take you and avoiding the urge to fight against the flow in pursuit of progress. I also love exploring blue writing prompts, which I post on my Instagram sometimes, and have just collated into a journal called ‘Blue & You’, which is available on my website. My hope for this is that a little bit of guidance will help people who haven’t had much experience of journaling or blue health to cultivate a nourishing self-reflective practice.
Ellie: Your new wellbeing journal looks fantastic Emily! I’m looking forward to having a look at this beautifully book. Finally, On your website you suggested some of your favourite water reads – Would you recommend any for us and our quiet community too?
Emily: Of course! I think Gifts from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh has a beautiful tone which I can imagine really resonating with the Quiet Community. It feels very poetic and peaceful to read, so I always find it very comforting. I’m also excited to read Easkey Britton’s new book Saltwater in the Blood which “draws on surfing as a powerful metaphor for how we can live more resilient, holistic lives, deepening our ocean connection.”
Ellie: Thank you so much Emily, these are all such brilliant suggestions and I can’t wait to get stuck in to some blue reading! Thank you again for taking the time to do this Emily, we really appreciate your delicate words and thoughts.
I’ve really enjoyed hearing Emily’s thoughts on blue health and hope you did too, it really shows us how water and its ever changing properties can reveal so much more about ourselves. I want to say a final huge thank you to Emily again for her beautiful, heart-felt reflections on Blue Health. Her experiences are really touching and something I personally can relate to. It’s been so lovely to be able to feel that connection and learn more about blue mind thinking and how blue health can benefit us quieter ones. Now, it’s time for us to think about how we can incorporate more blue into our lives…