Tell me about yourself! Tell me more about being a Holistic Transformation Coach, and how you came to do what you do.
Hi, I’m Greta Solomon and as a Holistic Transformation coach I give people the space and guidance to transform their lives on a fundamental level – from the inside out – using the tool of writing. Through my book, Heart, Sass & Soul and my talks and workshops I show you how to access the deeper layers of your self-expression. So, instead of simply swirling around your surface mental chatter, you’re able to access your inspiration, creativity and the heart and soul of who you are.
I did a Psychology degree because I was fascinated by the mind and human behavior. But I’d always wanted to work as a journalist. And in 2002, by the age of 24, I was working as a Features Writer at one of the top-selling weekly magazines in the UK. I had been the quintessential overachiever – Head Girl at High School, an A student and an award-winning athlete and musician. But underneath I was feeling blocked, and stifled, and uncreative. Until one day, while walking to work, my legs gave way beneath me. I later found out that there was nothing medically wrong with my legs. It was just a manifestation of my internal stress. After that, theperfectionist, overachieving armour that had served me so well began to crack and the highly sensitive girl underneath emerged. I took it as a wake-up call that something had to change.
I went freelance as a journalist and found myself in the wilderness, not really knowing who I was. And as a writer, I picked up a pen and started to really pay attention to my feelings. This enabled me to heal a lot of inner pain and understand why I had adopted that overachieving persona in the first place. And over a four-year period of writing, journaling and song writing, I was able to uncover, discover and recover who I was. I found my voice and it completely transformed my life.
Through this newfound sense of self, I was able to find my purpose as a writing coach and teacher, 13 years ago and I trained in life coaching, teaching and lyric writing. Initially, I taught students and then created and delivered business writing workshops for organisations, including multi-billion-pound companies. Three years ago, this shifted. I realised that I wanted to teach writing for creative self-expression. I dipped my toe in the waters with a workshop in Oslo (where I was living at the time) and it sold out within hours. More workshops ensued and then later retreats, and my book Heart, Sass & Soul was born – outlining my own transformational journey, stories from my clients, and giving you everything you need to use writing to create a life that doesn’t just look good, but feels good.
I love your focus on journaling as a route deep into the soul, encouraging women to become more aware of their mindset, inner confidence and emotional landscape and what they actually want from life. Tell me more about your journaling experience and teachings, and about your book Heart, Sass and Soul.
My journaling teachings are all based on my personal experience of how writing transformed my life. You can read my full story at https://www.gretasolomon.com/about-greta. When I looked back on my life, I realised that writing had kept my heart open. That writing – in all its forms – had held the space for me to transform, filling the liminal space with creativity instead of anxiety.
My transformation toolkit (https://www.gretasolomon.com/toolkit) and all the lessons, stories, prompts and food for thought in Heart, Sass & Soulhelp you to bypass fears, blocks and doubts so that you can get your inner thoughts and feelings freely on the page. So that you can get out of your own way and allow yourself to process how you feel. This way, writing can act as a creative buffer for criticism, throwaway comments, insensitive observations and even downright nastiness. You can process things that happen in your life from the heart space. This helps you to transmute powerful emotions such as anger and fear into creativity – which can act as fuel for your life.
The book looks at perfectionism and how it stops you getting what you want; what really lies beneath people-pleasing behaviour; how you handle small losses, so that they don’t pile up on top of you and cultivating serendipity so that life can feel magical. I also look at deep grief and transmuting pain into art so that you can release it. You’ll also learn how to pay attention to the signs and signals that your body is giving you and how to prescribe poems as emotional remedies. Plus, how metaphors can help you to access the soul. It’s packed with writing exercises that are fun to do and bring your creativity to life.
What are your personal mental health tools in your own toolkit? Did they change much when you became a mum?
I became a mum in 2012, at the age of 35. I met my now-husband aged 32, and we married exactly a year later in Ethiopia while working together for a charity. We then moved to Norway a month later. I was completely unprepared for how much of a culture shock moving abroad would be. As I was in a new landscape, quite literally, the onus was completely on me to keep the centre of who I was. So, writing and journaling became even more important to me.
I also learned how to ask for help from my new expat friends. My mum died several years before my daughter was born, and with no family close by in Oslo, I had to allow myself to receive support from my new community. For instance, asking a friend to come over for the afternoon after I fainted from mastitis, to safeguard my daughter in case it happened again. By the time my daughter was two though, I realised that I needed to get back in touch with myself.
That year, my husband and I decided to go on separate holidays, so that we could each do what would nourish us. This raised some eyebrows among people we knew. As it happened, I went to a detox retreat in Spain, which included bodywork, breathwork, dance, meditation, yoga, nutritional coaching and, of course, lots of journaling using my own tools and techniques.
It was a complete mind, body and soul reset, which has enabled me to take better care of myself and my daughter and has inspired a lot of my current work. I’ve realised that the things we need to do to safeguard our mental health are very often the things that other people judge us for. So, it’s essential not to put too much weight on the opinions, criticisms and judgements of others. We moved back to London in 2017 and being back in my hometown has made me feel more grounded. I think that the environment you live in is a huge contributor to your mental health.
I absolutely agree! Speaking of the environment in which you live – how do you balance creativity, mumming and life?
Unless we’re on holiday, or I’m super tired, I always get up an hour earlier than everyone else. I need to just have my own headspace and very often that will spark ideas and I’ll start writing, or creating something, or I’ll do some journaling. But I’m very flexible and don’t believe in having a strict morning routine. I like life to ebb and flow according to how I feel. And whenever I get ideas during my day, I stop and jot them down.
My core work / creative time is generally during school hours. I wrote the bulk of Heart, Sass & Soul during a three-month period in early 2018. I booked a babysitter to do the school pick-up twice a week and sat down and dedicated myself to it. I needed to have large stretches of time to write, rather than grabbing an hour here and there.
I prefer to look at life as cyclical. In some periods I go to Zumba class and yoga a lot. In other periods, I rarely do. In some periods, I’ll have a busy social life, and in others I’ll crawl into bed at 9pm. Having said that, creativity and writing are a non-negotiable part of life, so they always get done. Not a day goes by when I haven’t written. Having said that, the bar is set very low. EVERYTHING I write counts as writing. There is no real writing, and un-real writing for me. And it’s this kind of self-compassionate attitude that I try to imbue my clients with.