This is the fourteenth in our series of interviews to deepen the connections between all of us who love the sea and Sea Soul Blessings. And today, we’re interviewing Jade – I was so inspired by her recent blog post about using wild swimming and Sea Soul Blessings to support her mental health. Today, she talks about grief and PTSD, finding the balance between work, exercise and life, the joys of taking her dogs and Shetland pony for a walk, smiling at strangers, and why David Attenborough is her hero…
Tell us a little bit about you:
I’m Jade Smith and I’m 28 years old. I live in Penzance, Cornwall and I work for the emergency services. I’m a keen gig rower and lover of all things outdoors by the sea. I have suffered with PTSD and I use the sea as my outlet and my escapism.
I enjoy promoting health and wellness through my social media pages, and by giving honest accounts of mental health in my blogs, sharing the things that have helped me overcome some difficult times. I share my pictures and stories in the hope that it may help others who can relate.
What does nature, and the sea in particular, mean to you?
“Nature and the sea means to me a sense of calmness and space. A place where the sound of the waves and the feel of the water can clear any unwanted thoughts from my head. Nature and the sea reminds me to have time to myself and to reflect and unwind from my super busy lifestyle.”
How do you feel on a good day?
Jade on a good day is confident and brave, and willing to help people in the most traumatic situations to restore a sense of calm and order with empathy.
…She’s also someone who’s extremely competitive and pushes herself in her sport of gig rowing with her team-mates to achieve good results.
A good day means Jade believes she can achieve more than she realised, feels warmth and love from family and friends – and very blessed to be alive and well.
I feel on a good day a sense of calmness, space, and not really worrying about anything.
How do you feel on a bad day?
On a bad day, I really don’t feel like myself. I really miss the family members that are no longer with us, and I sometimes have awful flashbacks of them when they were unwell in their last days on this earth. I can sometimes become upset and still grieve.
“On a bad day, I can also feel an overwhelming need to have space, and I’m keen to seek a spot by the sea or on a cliff path where I can restore a sense of calmness and confidence in myself and remind myself that I will be ok.”
I try to distract myself on a bad day with time by the sea or with my animals. Bad days I can sometimes overdo it with exercise to try and distract myself.
Who or what is inspiring or influencing you right now?
“I’m inspired by the community of wild swimmers in and around the Penzance area that I have followed on social media, or have met in person. All these people, including myself, have a story to tell and have a reason to enjoy the water every day.”
They inspire me because they have a similar outlet to mine, and share the same love of the sea, and the same love of Cornwall.
These people are also very mindful of the planet and the steps we need to take to save our oceans. This is something I feel passionate about.
I have also found these people to come across as very friendly and kind. In a world where those things are rare, meeting people with those lovely qualities is very refreshing.
What do you worry about on a typical day?
My work load for my job – wondering “have I done everything I was meant to?” before going on rest days.
Where do you find joy?
I find joy with my loved ones – spending time with them is so precious, as none of us know what’s around the corner.
I find a lot of joy rowing in a gig boat, training hard with my friends and racing at regattas.
My most joyful place is in a tidal pool on Pedn Vounder beach in the clear turquoise silk-like water, with my family and friends.
What do you love to do, read, watch or listen to?
I love to take my two dogs for a walk, and my shetland pony, Marble. Yes, the pony comes too! He has his own harness, and he comes on wonderful walks with us all to places like Porthcurno Beach. These walks are just magical, and bring others so much joy as well as us – as we walk by, we get lots of smiles and questions asked.
It’s also wonderful to connect with other people on those walks who wouldn’t otherwise have the confidence to talk to you. The animals act as a gateway to starting a conversation.
Marble always makes me feel happy when I feel stressed, worried or sad. He’s just the cutest, the best character – and is damn gorgeous too. His soft nose is just the best.
My new found love, starting in spring 2019, is finding local tidal pools and spots for wild swimming. This has been a wonderful outlet for me in times of stress or when my PTSD has crept back in. I have loved exploring new places that I didn’t know existed, not that far from my home.
What makes you cross?
I really find it difficult when people don’t say hello or even smile as they walk by. I find the older generation are always very polite and will say good morning – well, most of them anyway.
It’s such a lovely kind thing to do, even if you don’t know people. Even just a smile can make someone’s day.
I get upset seeing the crisis our planet is in currently – and the state of some of our beaches the day after a storm is strong evidence that we have really messed up as a species. Plastic is everywhere and it’s quite frightening for our future generations.
It really infuriates me that supermarkets are still wrapping things in plastic that have a skin and don’t need it.
It seems that most of our species would prefer profit over saving our planet. I would ask them: “what are you going to spend that money on when our planet is a wasteland?”
“Watching the current David Attenborough documentaries sometimes brings me to tears and makes me feel cross. The amount of species that are almost extinct because of us is frightening and so very sad. If only there were more David Attenborough’s in the world. What a marvellous human being he is. I guess you could say he’s a hero of mine, and someone I really admire.”
How do you look after yourself?
I try to be in tune with my body – to allow it to rest when it’s very tired, and have space when I feel overwhelmed. This isn’t always easy when you lead a busy lifestyle, but I try to schedule in time for that on my days off.
I’m conscious to not burn the candle at both ends with my job, and all the training I do with rowing. I try to achieve a balance by having moments in the water in between to cleanse and feel like I’ve had time and space.
Night shifts can be hard going at work. I make sure I sleep plenty afterwards, and learn to write the day after them off, and use that day to catch up on sleep and recharge.
What would you most like to change about your life?
I feel content and blessed with the things I do and the wonderful people in my life. The only thing I would change is to do the impossible – and still have my family members here who are no longer with us.
What have you learnt about life that you wish you’d understood earlier?
That if worrying won’t help the situation, then there is no point in worrying about it.
Something my Nan passed on to my Mum and then passed on to me. This is a lot easier said than done, but it is helpful at times.
I’ve learnt very early on in life that life is very precious, and can be taken from us at any moment.
Tomorrow is never promised – and for that I try to live life to the full when I’m able.
How would you describe Sea Soul Blessings in 3 words?
Precious Ocean Moments
How do you use your Sea Soul Blessings? What do they help you to change?
I use Sea Soul Blessings before I go for a swim in the ocean, or in a tidal pool.
As I’ve mentioned, the ocean is my outlet in times of stress, worry, or having flashbacks from my PTSD.
Prior to using Sea Soul Blessings, I would get in the water and try to let those feelings wash away – which did work, but it required me to work my mind hard to let go of those thoughts.
Now I have the Sea Soul Blessing cards, I will choose one at random and then go to the book and read the blessing for that card.
I then have that blessing in my mind when I enter the water, and I try to feel and focus on that. I make sure that I get out of it what I want to get out of it – which is a sense of relief, space, peace, and feeling cleansed of those horrible worries and thoughts.
If someone was thinking about trying Sea Soul Blessings, how would you encourage them?
If I was to encourage someone to use Sea Soul Blessings, I would say to them it’s a wonderful way to try and find a sense of calm in the very busy lifestyles we all live in this day and age.
You don’t know if it’s going to work for you unless you try them. I wasn’t quite sure whether it would work for me. I’m so glad I gave them a try.
Now it’s an added lovely thing to do in my day before going in the sea or by the sea.
To get yourself or those you love some Sea Soul Blessings, head here.
You might also enjoy the other interviews in the Sea Soul Community series so far: