Making Waves: Pippa's Body Story

August 23, 2023

Making Waves: Pippa's Body Story


When you meet Pippa, you’re immediately struck by her beautiful, joyful energy. It’s little wonder then, that her incredible presence supports so many others through her Sea Soul Blessings, Sea Soul Journeys Oracle Cards and Sea Circle community. But how has Pippa’s own story given her this strength?

In our third Making Waves Body Story, Pippa tells us how first motherhood and then the sea brought her into her body, helping her to connect with herself and others. From the beauty of nature to the beauty within, Pippa’s story is one of self-discovery, connectivity and community.

Deakin & Blue X-Back Swimsuit Cobalt

Where you are now in your life journey?

Over the last five or six years, my connection with the sea has pretty much changed the direction of the work that I do and the way I live my life. Everything has changed: my spiritual connection, my emotional and physical wellbeing; it's transformed everything and I'm really grateful for that. I feel really lucky that now I get to do the work that I do. I think you don't necessarily know how your life's going to unfold or what your purpose is going to be, but there's this idea that there will be something that you're guided to do. For me, time in the sea cleared space in my brain for that to come. And when it did, it made sense of everything that I've done up until now.

I’ve taken several leaps of faith along the way. I’ve worked as a writer, a coach, and as a script editor for most of my working life. Script editing involves working with writers to help them tell their stories. So I’ve spent a lot of time helping people to connect with what really matters for them, to apply that to their lives in different ways, to interrogate their own stories and work out ways to share them more widely. When I started sea swimming regularly, Sea Soul Blessings just came as an idea. Because the sea had been transformational for me, I thought, wouldn't it be amazing if there was a set of cards that could capture some of that experience - and then, when I'm away from the sea, I could just reconnect to that wisdom. Use them to create a little space in my day or some rituals that would help me to feel as I do when I'm in the sea. So, I made them for myself. I tried the cards out with some friends and was like, you know what? This actually really works. And so, I literally just printed some up, not knowing anything about how to set up a product-based business. I wanted to do it as sustainably as I could, but with relatively limited knowledge about how to do that.

That grew into Sea Soul Blessings, and I started to share my cards with the world. I created this space where I was sharing the sea every day and connecting with people all around the world who had that same relationship with the water. When I broke my foot and couldn't get into the sea for six weeks, people began sending me pictures and films of the sea to help me stay connected.  The sea brings such a beautiful community together.

It all evolved from there. I kept saying yes to whatever the sea seemed to be suggesting that I do next. What would it be like to deepen that sense of community and create a group programme that shared some of the other elements that were supporting me, like ocean meditations and sea sounds and images and films? That became The Sea Circle, and another big experiment in how to share the things I loved more widely. Then came an opportunity to make the Sea Soul Blessings cards into Oracle Cards. And there are more exciting developments on the horizon.

Deakin & Blue Plunge Bikini Black

You say the sea suggested what you did next. How did that manifest in you?

I think there's something about when you get into the water, it clears out all of that chatter. You're just in the sea. You're just in the present moment, and there's space there to connect to your intuition, so those ideas come through. It makes space to re-programme your brain and find a different way to talk to yourself. In fact, my whole journey into sea swimming was very consciously about stepping into something new from a basis of self-compassion. It was about being kind to myself, not pushing myself, not having that workaholic hat on, or saying, I'm going to be the best swimmer in the world – this constant pushing energy. It was much softer, like, I'm really going to tune in to how I'm feeling and what feels possible today, so maybe today, I feel like I could just swim to the next wall and back. And maybe the next day I could swim a little bit further or actually, it's a bit rougher, so I'm not going to - and that's fine too. It’s been about really listening to my body and being kind, and motivating myself with kindness instead of anything else.

Have you always been connected with the sea?

I grew up in London, so I was really far away from the sea. But we used to go up to the Isle of Arran, to my grandparent’s house where my great granny had lived too. They had this gorgeous cottage with a gate to the beach at the bottom of their garden. The sea was very cold, very clear, with lots of seals around, and that's where I fell in love with it. It was where I felt at peace, even at that young age. Also, at school, swimming was the one sport that I showed any aptitude for whatsoever. I also had dodgy knees, so swimming was easier on my joints. I think that combination of feeling free and weightless in the sea, as well as associating it with holidays and special places, created this connection.

It wasn't until I moved to Cornwall with my Cornish surfer husband that it started changing my life. My husband and I met in Yorkshire, lived together in London for a bit, and then he eventually persuaded me to come here. And now it's 20 years later and I can't imagine being anywhere else. Not living by the sea seems like a complete impossibility to me now.

Deakin & Blue Plunge Bikini Black

When you go into the sea, do you feel like you're reconnecting with that happy childhood version of yourself?

I've never thought about it that way actually. There’s definitely a sense of freedom and simplicity that I think is similar to being a child; you're very tuned in to that sensory experience. And certainly, there's a playfulness in the sea that really feels very joyful. There are childhood qualities amongst the Blessings and Oracle cards too - like play and curiosity - that come to life when we’re in or by the sea.

You talked about how the sea creates connections with people across space and time. How important are those connections for you?

The ocean feels like such an inclusive space. I think that if you feel that connection to the sea, wherever you come from, whatever your interests are, you find that sense of belonging and of being held and supported by the sea. I swim with people who I wouldn't have met otherwise, who lead different lives to me, and when we're in the water, that's not even relevant: we're just all together, sharing that space and passion and really appreciating it. I think there's also that sense that the sea connects you to something greater than yourself. That gives you a very different perspective on the world, and kind of evens everything out in some way, doesn't it? There's a sense that we're all equal, we're all part of nature, and we all belong here.

You also touched on how you feel when you see photos of yourself. How has the sea changed your relationship with your body?

Our bodies go through all these different shifts, don't they? And each time there's a new adjustment that we have to make, there’s a new process of falling in love with them or appreciating them anew. For me, motherhood was the first point at which I started to appreciate my body in a different way for all that it could do instead of what it was supposed to look like, and I think sea swimming takes that to a new level. I really appreciate that my body can get me into the water, that I can have this visceral, physical experience of being here, with all the benefits that brings my mental and physical health. That I'm able to move freely despite my joint problems and my arthritis.

Is that about being able to appreciate your body for what it can do, from carrying a baby to getting into cold water?

Yes, because before motherhood, I wasn’t in tune with myself at all. I was very much in my head, working long hours, defining myself by my work identity, my brain, my capacity to think and be efficient and be super-organised. I had a great job running a media development agency, but I wasn’t taking care of my body. I don't think that I had a particularly aware relationship with myself, and therefore I didn't have a deeply aware relationship with my body. I was just in this other identity, trying to be the person I thought I was supposed to be.

I think I did a lot of numbing in the earlier parts of my life. I didn't engage with the things that I was feeling. I probably had quite a high level of anxiety and squashed that by overworking and going out dancing. Now, I'll be really in tune with what's happening for me. Whether I'm feeling anxious, or I need to eat more greens, or I'm tired. These days, I’m constantly in conversation with my body about how I'm feeling and that will be part of how I make choices. Before, it was about external productivity - not what do I need as a soft, human body and tender person with emotions.

That changed with motherhood and I found the identity shift difficult because I had been so defined by my career. Suddenly, to not have that job anymore and to be really bad at this job of mothering was very hard to reconcile. I was quite low and anxious, but with very little time to put any energy into dealing with that. At that point, I set up Story of Mum, which was a space for mums to come together and take time out to be creative. I started to run retreats for mums so that that we could have a space on our own to say, look, this is really hard. And that came from me coming up against it, not able to numb, and realizing that I had to look at what was happening, work out what support I needed - and then find ways to support other people to do that as well.

Deakin & Blue X-Back Swimsuit Cobalt

So, did Story of Mum give you the model for Sea Soul Blessings for a new phase of your life?

I've been running them alongside each other for the past five years, actually; it's only in the last couple of years that I haven't been doing so much on Story of Mum. As my kids grew a bit older, my world shifted, and I wasn't as solely focused on my experiences of being a mother. There was a little bit more time for myself, and that allowed space for the sea to flow in. And now it feels like Sea Soul Blessings has overtaken Story of Mum and expanded the audience beyond solely being mothers. So, in The Sea Circle, there are people of different generations, genders and life experiences.

Life can be really lonely, can't it? Especially if we’re experiencing mental or physical health issues, it can feel really isolating. You need places where you feel you belong and you're accepted, flaws and all – both the mum retreat space and the sea have offered me that. When you're standing there in your swimsuit, you can't be anything but honest about what your body looks like and who you are. I hope that's what I offer within the Sea Circle as well, a compassionate space to honestly share our journeys, whatever they may be.

Some people are quite happy to feel part of that community without actively connecting with others, but other people really love coming along to a meet up. So we have an Ocean Heart Space each month, where we reflect on whatever our theme is, and what's going on in our lives. It’s about asking questions that allow people to connect to different aspects of their own stories, that bring people towards some new understanding. And in sharing and witnessing each others’ stories, we connect to each other - a bit like we do with D&B’s Body Stories. That's the common strand of all the work that I've done. I think when we share our stories honestly, just as when we share our bodies, we connect to other people because we're here showing up as we are.

Is that part of the reason you joined the Deakin & Blue photoshoot?

Yes, well, I feel like I've been on this journey to get comfortable sharing my body in a public space. The first step was just walking onto the beach. Initially, that was an edge, being on a beach in a swimsuit and feeling self-conscious. Then, doing that in a bikini was a big step forward. Another edge was a photoshoot in swimwear for a friend. And then, being interviewed in swimwear on camera at Jubilee Pool. Plus, my synchro team, Out of Sink, have had to get used to being photographed – though it’s less scary doing it in a group, and from a distance.

When I share photos on social media, I can also choose which photos go public. And even though I haven’t been in control of images from other photo shoots I’ve done, I’ve known that they would be as flattering as possible. But from seeing Deakin & Blue’s images, I knew that this was going to be real. It wasn't going to be about trying to hold my tummy in, or standing with my legs in a flattering pose. It was going to be about showing up and being there as myself. So, I knew that was going to be another big edge – and, for some reason, my voice was telling me that I needed to do it in a bikini!

I do struggle a bit with mental health in perimenopause, and I had a real dip a couple of days before the shoot, crying all day and feeling anxious. I don't know if that was just what was happening hormonally, or whether that little bit of extra anxiety about coming to do the shoot took everything up a level. But I had to stay really present with all of that - listening to my body, listening to my head and what I needed. One of the practices that really helps me is having my bare feet on the ground or lying on the earth and looking up at the clouds. I know that if I can't get to the sea, then being in nature is the next best thing.  When I turned up for the photoshoot, I was relieved to see we were in this beautiful, lush location. It was tipping down with rain, but that really helped - it was as if the sea had arrived for me in the air. I could sense my bare feet on the earth, and feel really grounded and deeply connected to the elements. That connection calmed me and made it possible for me to step into the challenge. It also helped that we did lots of dancing and prancing about in the rain and there was lots of laughter and joy.

The pictures are gorgeous. My essence was fully present; my full elemental self was there. What more could you ask for? There's also that sense of the courage it had taken to get me there that brings an extra something. You feel that little bit more alive when you're doing something that's an edge, when you're at that stretch point. And that seems to be where I like to live my life these days – saying a gentle yes to the next opportunity to expand my sense of what’s possible – and hopefully inspiring others to stretch too.

Pippa wears the X-Back in Cobalt in size 16 Hepburn and the Plunge Bikini in Black in size 14 Hepburn with the High Waisters in Black in size 16.

Deakin & Blue X-Back Swimsuit Cobalt

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Did you enjoy reading this Body Story? Discover the other stories in our Making Waves series, and read about amazing women whose life-changing work inspires and moves others.

“I had a giant mermaid sculpture made of recycled plastic to highlight the plastic pandemic, and I swam the length of the River Thames as a mermaid. Then, one day, I rescued a drowning cow and my story made it into The Sun newspaper.” Read Lindsey’s story.

"It’s relentless how I continually got labelled growing up. I didn’t know if I was coming or going: I'm a child, I'm a woman, I'm fat, I’m too tall, I'm beautiful. It was totally bloody bonkers." Read Farrah's story.

“I watch people and I have an obsession with how they're standing and how they're moving; it's probably just what I zero in on… I notice the way anatomy hangs together and the way people stand.” Read Nancy’s story.

“For me, it was this acceptance that this is how my body looks and I need to stop looking at it as a transitional body and just get on with it… Life happens and you can't put everything on hold just because of the size you are; you just need to carry on.” Read Becca’s Story.