Compassionate Conversations with Ailsa Robson

Empowerment by the Sea

Claudine’s voice travelled across oceans to me from the United Kingdom (via Instagram) as her Body Positive offerings through Seascape Blue instantly connected to my interest in Health At Every Size®.

We discussed her coaching work that is based around natural waters, similar to my Walk and Talk Therapy work.

Claudine shared how she has broken away from unrealistic standards about her body and life, as well discussing burnout and giving yourself permission to honour the different types of rest you may need.

Enjoy dreaming about your own inner wisdom and the endless opportunities in your life as you listen to this compassionate conversation.

We had an engaging conversation and reflected on various topics including:

  • Unrealistic Standards
  • Perfectionism
  • Burnout and recovery
  • Compassion
  • Body Positivity
  • Self Confidence


Find out more from Claudine:



Links & Resources mentioned in our conversation:

Click here to read transcript of the interview...

Ailsa 0:06
Hello, I’m Ailsa Robson, and I love to listen to people’s life stories. I’m a psychotherapist and someone who has recognized that striving for perfection doesn’t make you happy. I now advocate for adding more compassion to your life, while simply doing the best you can. This has brought me far more happiness and ripples out to those I love. I know through conversations with lots of interesting folk, that they’ve also been exploring how perfectionism shows up for them, and today, I can’t wait to chat with the lovely Claudine Nightingill-Rane. Hello Claudine, so pleased to have you. Let me tell the audience that I’m speaking to you from South Australia, and you are in…

Claudine 1:02
Hove near Brighton on the south coast of England.

Ailsa 1:05
Lovely, so this is an absolute pleasure to have a chat with you, and thank goodness for technology and having the opportunity to meet people from afar. I’m grateful for you to trust in me in having this conversation. Claudine and I haven’t actually had a zoom chat before, we’ve sent messages through Instagram and we’ve certainly been watching each other and have shared interests we’ve been messaging each other from the oceans haven’t we?

Claudine 1:43
Absolutely, yeah.

Ailsa 1:44
Across the oceans. So maybe we’ll start with a little bit about what fills your days.

Claudine 1:58
Absolutely, so probably my children first and foremost, I have an eight year old and a 10 year old on Friday. So yeah, I’ve been a mum for quite some time, and a wife, I’m a sea lover so whenever I get the chance I am at the sea, I’m really lucky to live 10 minutes walk from the coast along there somewhere. I get in it or to it or by it whenever I can. Yeah, what else do I do? I try not to go to work first because we so quickly go to what do we do for work don’t we? So I love spending time in my garden in my hammock which I bought last year getting locked down and it was the best purchase I’ve ever made.

Ailsa 2:49
I have a hammock too

Claudine 2:54
I love a bit of yoga which I’ve really missed. I’ve got a class book tomorrow actually first in person class, they literally only opened up for in person in their classes on Monday over here. So can’t wait to be in a studio with people and just feel that energy again.

Ailsa 3:11
Yes, it’s wonderfully intoxicating.

Claudine 3:14
Absolutely. And then in my spare time, I’m a life coach. I specialize in body image work and work with women to help them make peace with their bodies and overcome all the negativity that we are bombarded with from a very, very young age. Around diet, culture, fitness, culture, beauty, culture, etc. and I’m also a blue health coach, which means that I work with the ocean or natural waters to enable them to enhance the work the coaching work that I do. So that could mean for me it means coaching at the beach wherever I can when I’m doing in person coaching, sitting in the friend’s beach hut when the English winds and rain are howling around. And taking women in the water if that’s something they want to do. Yes, the healing power of the water is just so, so potent.

Ailsa 4:17
That’s wonderful. I also take people into the water but so far we’ve kind of only got up to our calves with the walk and talk, but certainly down by the ocean it is mesmerizing. And, and regardless of the weather. It’s just so invigorating and cathartic and healing so I was drawn immediately to your work. I’m not sure how we popped up in each other’s Instagram feeds but it was meant to be oh yeah, and we’ll get, you know more into your work, I’d like to explore more of that, but maybe first of all, in a few words, what do you think our connection is?

Claudine 5:16
I just I was drawn to your walking talking on the beach as well and I really enjoyed, maybe a week or so ago, you did a post around, giving people the choice. I love that because I kind of, I hadn’t thought of it that way from my own work, and I kind of we work at the beach, and off kind of thing, and yeah, in pretty much most weathers, that’s where we’ll be. But I loved your approach that, you know, sometimes people do want a small contained safe space, where they’re not going to bump into anybody they know or any of that stuff. Other times, they might want that massive expanse, and that I really feel like working at the beach. You know, all all natural water is massively beneficial, but there’s something about that endless horizon that I think just really puts life and our own stuff in perspective, and yeah, the expanse of being able to look out, the freedom it gives us, I always think about the opportunities of what’s on the horizon and its endless and all that sort of stuff. So, yeah, maybe that’s what one of your clients wants another day, and I love the idea that you are so empowering to them that even if you get out for 10 minutes, and it’s too expansive, they need a bit more, you know, you change your plans, and you go back to the consulting room, and yeah, I love that.

Ailsa 6:44
I appreciate that, that actually, it’s funny when you said that you hadn’t thought about it that way but yet you probably work in the same way yourself. And that was kind of born out of another conversation with another walk and talk therapist that I’ve connected with in Atlanta, in Georgia, in the United States, and I think it really came to me whilst I was also walking on the beach thinking, it is about choice. It’s about flexibility and choice, and so, thanks I’m glad that resonated with you because I felt like it was needed to be, it was part of the therapeutic opportunity. And yes, and often when I’m walking along the beach, there’ll be epiphanies and there’s an abundance, you know, an abundance, of opportunity, of thought, of reflection. So yeah, that’s great. So getting back to our theme, because today we’re talking about perfectionism and compassion, which is so important when it comes to how we feel about our bodies, and the lessons that we’ve learned about our bodies. I’m with you, I have children around the same age, and I think that for me, as I’ve become a mother, I’ve certainly blossomed into more acceptance of myself. And yeah, so I wonder for you, Claudine, where has perfection shown up in your life?

Claudine 8:44
I think it easier to say where it hasn’t. Actually i’d struggle to find somewhere it hasn’t I think over the years, yeah, and in childhood and teenage years it was about well, teenage more so, about being the perfect young woman, the perfect friend, having the perfect personality, you know, everything, everything seemed wrong, so I was you know, I was quite shy and quiet, quite introverted, but I thought that was wrong, you know, people only like the bubbly one and the outgoing one and I wasn’t as loud as my best friends and I wasn’t as pretty and I wasn’t as blonde and I wasn’t as you know, the right shape. So I was quite boyish as a child and then developed very quickly and then, you know, grew boobs that were too big bum was too big, all that sort of stuff. I felt in my head. So yeah, always wanting that perfect body, the perfect skin, the perfect face, the perfect everything, to enable myself to be the perfect person and then I think, that carried on into my 20s, and, you know, wanting the perfect life, the perfect relationship. expecting my partner to be perfect, expecting me to be perfect in that relationship. And a lot of these I’ve massively overcome with self compassion, and that’s the key, isn’t it to overcoming those things? And I think the one that lingers, most of me still is trying to be the perfect parent, and I know, I know, yeah, of course, I know, perfection isn’t achievable and attainable. But yet, it’s the one place where I still need a heck of a lot more of self compassion around it. Yeah. So I get that, like, yeah, everything we do is test such lasting impact that I’ve gotta get it right. We can only do our best,

Ailsa 10:55
we can only do our best. Like, the generations before us, you know, were only doing their best, with the information and with their own self reflections. So yeah, I’ve also wondered, then, when did you notice that possibly, you could feel slightly differently about? or when did you notice that perfectionism was coming into your life? Like when did it need to change?

Claudine 11:38
Hmm, good question. I guess it’s been such a gradual process, it’s hard to kind of pin down the start. So I think I first went to counselling in maybe my late 20s, and I think that was probably the first time I started to kind of really reflect on myself in a really personal deep way, and yeah, notice that I was holding myself to standards that were unrealistic, and that was making me miserable, I guess. But in the last, it’s been the last few years, I think, since there’s been massively profound change. And I kind of want to find a different answer, because it makes me sad that it’s taken me till 40 to really, really get there.

Claudine 12:34
Yeah, I mean, in terms of specifically the body image stuff, which I think for me and so many women, is some kind of at the core of some of our self worth stuff. And my realization, that shrinking myself diet and constantly exercising as punishment, the idea that that didn’t have to be the way only came to me four years ago, and actually the trigger for that, the kind of lightbulb moment was a woman very, very close to you. So Taryn Brumfitt and watching her film Embrace, which was literally life changing for me. Yeah, like I say, just showing me that I had a choice. I didn’t have to diet. I didn’t have to hate my body was like, Yeah, woah. Yeah, huge journey ever since. Absolutely. So from there, I started hosting screenings of Embrace because I just wanted to take that film to as many women and men and teenagers as I possibly could. I did lots of that before COVID hit. And then I started doing workshops and talks and any opportunity I could to share that kind of message around positive body image. And then everything got turned upside down last year with COVID and my previous business, so I turned what was a hobby into a career.

Ailsa 14:05
Yes, lovely. The true pivot, the true pivot. Yeah. Well, that’s wonderful. I certainly remember the first time that I watched embrace too and now I’ve watched it with my two daughters as well, and they are 10 and 12. And that was really significant as well. They were passing tissues to me as I was sobbing on the couch. So yes, if anybody hasn’t seen that, then please look it up. Taryn Brumfitt, Embrace, it’s on everything these days. It’s on Netflix and everywhere, which is wonderful because back in the day, you did the hard yards getting you know getting the movies shown out amongst the community. Which was great. So, you said that you were, you know, possibly a little bit disappointed that it wasn’t until you’re 40s you know, you’ve been breaking down perfectionism. Isn’t that funny? That’s such a, perfect answer as well, when we want that knowledge or we want that insight much earlier. But of course, it comes when the time is right. Absolutely, yes. And so, when, you know, there was there was another point in your life to more recently, your health that has quite, you know, impacted a lot too, you think that’s also part of understanding your body as a vehicle and then how important it is to tend to our mental health as much as it is our physical health?

Claudine 16:17
Yeah, definitely. So yeah, so I first really struggled with my mental health about four or five years ago, had a, I still don’t know what to call it really break down sounds really dramatic. But yeah, I kind of stopped functioning fully, and realized it was really time to make a change. And then so I’ve been working on that since. And then last year in summer, who knows whether it was brought on by the stress of, you know, COVID, and I’m working on all that stuff. But I had a stroke out of the blue. And yeah, that really is a pretty, obviously pretty horrendous experience. It was, I’m grateful that it was so much milder than it could have been. I’ve got full use back of everything, and I know that doesn’t happen to everyone who has a stroke. But yeah, very traumatic week in hospital, followed by a long, long recovery. And I’m kind of 90% there. But yeah, there’s still lingering symptoms and stuff. But yeah, really made me stop and check, and I feel like in those nine months, or whatever it is, I’ve learned so much about myself. So, for example, you know, I was less over the last few years, but I have very much been that one of those people like many of us who kind of wear busy-ness as a badge of honor and yeah, I’m doing all the things we’re spinning all the plates and looking beyond tired, great, I’m throwing myself into my life, my parenting, my work my everything. And yeah, I’m trying to be Superwoman. And it all came crashing down really all those plates spinning came crashing down. And a lot of them didn’t break. Yes, so my husband is more capable than I always give him credit for and really stepped up, my kids were super resilient around it all. It’s just Yeah, I don’t want to say took that to make me believe I deserved a lot more rest than I was allowing myself, but maybe it did. And now I feel like I am so much more aware of, so fatigue was one of the biggest struggles straight after all for a good few months afterwards, and really learning to listen to my body and not just rest when I needed it, but rest before I needed it, and all that sort of stuff. And knowing what rest look like and it wasn’t, you know, I still do it, far from perfect. But rest wasn’t always sleeping more hours or it wasn’t always sitting on the sofa watching Netflix was scrolling through Facebook or whatever knowing I needed different types of rests because different activities made me tired in different ways, which I’d never realized before.

Ailsa 19:15
Now that’s that’s fascinating. checking in on your body learning. Learning new ways of checking in is really important. I heard something quite interesting at a talk, a breakfast meeting for South Australian women in business. And it was Annie Harvey she was talking about when you feel yourself kind of, well I imagined like when you go around like going down a drain and you kind of spinning around the drain. When you notice that that’s happening. What do you Pick up on in your life. And she talked about eating peanut butter with a spoon straight out of the container. I noticed that I, consume far too much coffee. And think that that’s a meal. You know, but I’m learning, I hadn’t considered that check in on my body because I do lots of other check ins when it comes to hunger levels and satiety, or satiety levels and how, you know how I’m feeling emotionally, and if my body is achy, or if my menstrual cycles come up, and I need to rest in that way. So I’m learning all these different ways. But that’s, another way I haven’t considered different rest. So I like I like that. Yeah. So. that’s also added to your to your work that do you think as well, another layer?

Claudine 21:11
I think so. Yeah, definitely. It’s kind of that, Yeah, I think what’s changed since then, since that thing last year is appreciation as well. So appreciating what my body does and what it’s fought, what it’s got through, what it’s overcome. Yeah, I do. I’ve got a meditation that I do with, with people around like it is a body scan, but it’s about going through each part of your body and thinking about what does it do for you? What are you grateful to it for? All those things that we just take for granted? Like our hearts beating away right now, our digestive systems working, our blood pumping around our veins, our lungs breathing are always things that we just don’t take time to notice until they go wrong?

Ailsa 22:03
Yes, I agree. I use a few of dropping into your senses and noticing, you know, each of your senses and and quite often, that’s a lovely way of pausing in the middle of a therapy session as well when you’re outside, or even inside. Just to bring you back into that present moment. Interesting enough, I have this calendar that I have in the kitchen usually. And it’s a it’s a tear off calendar. So for each day, there’s something different. And it’s Louise Hay calendar. So bless her. And today is I recognize my body as a wondrous and magnificent machine and I feel privileged to live in it

Claudine 22:56
Oh that’s wonderful love that.

Ailsa 22:58
How’s that for popping up on our day when we’re chatting together? Meant to be.

Claudine 23:03
The universe is listening.

Ailsa 23:04
Yes, yes. So how do you think then? How important is compassion to you now in your life?

Claudine 23:17
Massively, massively. Yeah, I feel like I’ve always been, like so many women, so compassionate and empathic towards other people really holding space for people. And then just forgetting to turn that on myself. And I, as a result of the stroke, I had some psychology sessions with the neuro rehab team. And one of the exercises the woman did with me was to imagine my compassionate other I think she called it so I’ve kind of built that into some of my practice now to think about what that, it doesn’t even have to be a person, it can be an animal, a thing, an energy, a sense, whatever it may be, but create a picture in a sense of it in your mind, and mine is future me. For some reason, dressed in a very white cloak, she gives me a hug, so it’s all cozy and warm when she gives me a hug, while I’m just being really unkind to myself and she reminds me that it’s okay. And I do my best and all that stuff.

Ailsa 24:34
Wonderful. That’s a lovely, lovely image to bring in. I often consider my inner mean girl because I’ve got a really nasty one. And, she could often do with a hug from your compassionate self from my future compassionate self, too. Because really, she’s just needing a bit of validation, and to be seen.

Claudine 25:07
I love that I’ve done a lot of work lately on inner critics and the mean girl stuff. And yeah, I always think about turning the volume down on them and turning the volume up on the inner wisdom inner best friend, whatever we want to call it, but actually getting her to give her a hug might might be really beneficial as well, yeah you’re right.

Ailsa 25:28
Yes, yes. Because sometimes I think it’s just our inner critic calling out to us. And they’re just trying to protect us. But the only way they know how is to criticize us. Because if you know, because otherwise we won’t listen. And we’ll embarrass ourselves and do something stupid, and you know, and people won’t like us. So yes, it’s coming to terms with that person within us. Yeah, so you’ve got some offerings that you’ve been doing some lovely stuff by lakes I saw last week. So what have you got coming up?

Claudine 26:18
The coming up one I’m working on now is the body kind mind code, which is a 10 week online group coaching program to help women from wherever they’re at, which obviously summer over here just beginning of summer, which is when people look in their wardrobes, past all the joggers and the sweatshirts they’ve worn for the last six or nine months in lockdown. I certainly have a very full wardrobe of those sorts of things. Yeah, elastic waist bands and all that, and dig out their summer dresses and shorts and all that and just think, oh god, have I got to show my body in these in the next few months?

Claudine 26:56
Maybe nothing fits, maybe it’s just the thought of it, maybe it’s, you know, all the things that hold us back from because of how we feel about our body. So like I say, living really close to the beach here. The amount of women that I know either won’t go to the beach because of how they feel they look. They won’t put a swimsuit on because of how they feel they look, they won’t play with their kids and just get on a surfboard, get in the sea, because of how they feel they look, and how they feel they look isn’t how they look most of the time it’s a distorted image so often. So yeah, taking women from there, the dread of the eating an ice cream on the beach and the guilt and shame that comes with that, and all those things. And as lockdown is lifting here, we’re starting to go out and meet friends I keep hearing people saying oh what my friends and family gonna think of me. I’ve put on so much weight since I last saw them, and I just have been saying to them, if they’re going to judge you that harshly then maybe you don’t need them in your life, and that is quite harsh, but actually, people don’t judge us the way we think people are going to judge us. And if they do that, honestly, we need to question is that someone we want in our life if they’re so judgmental? Yeah. Anywho, so taking people from that to getting summer body ready, which is not about changing their body. It’s about changing their mindset to their body. They are summer body ready right now, because they’ve got a body, summer’s coming. I made a comment on an advert I get so sick of seeing adverts about I’ve been really, I was talking to someone last night about this. I’m really careful to detox my social media feeds. But the adverts still pop up, 42-day transformation to get some body ready. So you can go to the beach. And I sent this ranty comment saying I don’t need your permission to go to the beach. I don’t need to be in a, I don’t need to slim down. I have a body I’m taking to the beach on a regular basis. And yeah, don’t need your bloody permission to do that.

Ailsa 29:01
How did you go? Did you get some? some feedback?

Claudine 29:05
I got lots of supportive comments from my own followers and friends and all that stuff. But no comments back from the people who placed the advert. So yeah, who knows whether they saw it or deleted it or what I don’t know, don’t know. Yeah. So we take, so I take women from there to just, having I think, with anything, the first step is noticing, isn’t it? We’re so indoctrinated by diet, culture and fitness culture that we don’t see those images that are always airbrushed, we don’t see those adverts for what they are, we don’t see. Yeah, we don’t see things for what they really are, so it’s noticing is noticing how harsh we are to ourselves. It’s exercises around you know, what would you say to your best friend and stuff around that inner critic and inner wisdom. So I use some, a bit of hypnotherapy and mindfulness and NLP and coaching techniques, and set my ladies challenges so that they can push themselves gently out of that comfort zone and do things they wouldn’t have done before.

Claudine 30:12
So they end the program in summer feeling great, not giving a shit about what they think other people are thinking about them, because they’re probably not thinking that, and just making peace with their bodies, being friends making friends with the mirror, and just feeling fantastic. Because that, as I said earlier, I think body image stuff for men as well. My focus is on women because I relate to that experience much more, particularly mums, but all women, and that body image stuff is so at the core, and it reflects our, to the reflection of how we value ourselves and our levels of self worth. So we don’t always realize I think but negative body image can filter out and have negative impacts on every area of our lives. relationships, parenting, lack of relationship friendships, what we do with our social life, even work, you know, women have said to me things like I can’t, I can’t go for that job promotion, or go to that interview, because I just don’t feel right in any of my clothes. And I’m not going to get it anyway, because she’s prettier, and slimmer and more confident, and she’s going to get the job so what’s the point? so it holds us back from everything, so therefore, of course, on the flip side, I believe that if we are able to overcome and have a positive body image, it has that ripple effect, and can make a massive difference to our confidence and self worth and that has a knock on to every part of our lives. And then second part of it is I don’t just work with mums I work with any women. But I want to filter that positive body image down to the next generation, our own kids or, you know, any kids in our lives so that, yeah, because, the toxicity of social media these days, which we didn’t have growing up, is making the problem worse, and not just teenagers. But younger than that, you know, five year olds are saying they want to diet and lose weight. And that’s not right, we need to pass down some more positive body image and attitudes.

Ailsa 32:15
Absolutely, I agree with everything, everything you say, that’s similar work, to what I do with people one on one. And it’s very hard, often, when you meet with somebody, too, I find it sometimes tricky, because of the work that I’ve done within my own life that I need to remind myself of where I was, back, when I first started learning, first started learning about that diets are bullshit, and that there is a movement called Health at Every Size, and how important it was, and how important intuitive eating is, and lots of other ideas. But I need, I’m very conscious to meet people in the place that they are at, and often that this journey is up, down, up, down, sideways, backwards, you know, all over the place, it’s really it’s not linear, but that’s okay, because you can’t unlearn this stuff. It’s like, you know, finding out dare I say it, that somebody isn’t real, and around Christmas time, and you can’t unlearn that. So once you start on this journey, it’s such a positive, beautiful place to be, and I know myself personally, it has been finding more self acceptance and self compassion toward my body has then empowered me to feel comfortable to go back to university and study a master’s degree. when my children were little, it’s given me the empowerment to open my own private practice to decide to be a walk and talk therapist, you know, to all of these different options that if I stayed in that box of thinking that I wasn’t good enough in the body that I have, then I wouldn’t have ever pushed the boundaries within other aspects of my life.

Claudine 34:54
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And so often women are kind of like What’s the connection there? I don’t I don’t think there’s any connection.

Ailsa 35:05
Yeah, there is there certainly is.

Claudine 35:09
Now, this culture. Can you hear me? Sorry?

Ailsa 35:16
Yes, I can. I can hear you and you have paused in your video, but in a beautiful reflective way. We’ve done well Claudine.

Ailsa 35:28
I might actually ask you here if there’s any particular kind of gold that surfaced for you during our conversation. Oh, I may have lost you. Now. Claudine.

Claudine 35:50
Well, I think I might be back. I was.

Ailsa 35:55
So is anything particularly sparkly or golden, you know, turned up for you during this chat? Today?

Claudine 36:17
The screen is frozen. I’m hoping you can still hear me. I can hear you. Yes. Awesome. Yeah, the self compassion piece that is just that’s absolutely got to be at the core of everything hasn’t it? And yeah, I was just kind of going through some of the activities for the first week of the course next week, and, yeah it keeps coming back down to that about noticing and challenging ourselves when we’re, we’re so used to looking at ourselves in the mirror zooming in, or in a photo as well as zooming into the flaws and not looking at the bigger picture. I had a conversation at the retreat you mentioned by the lake the other day, I had a conversation with a woman who, yeah, I’d taken a picture of the day and she asked to look at it, cos we’d said, you know, if anybody’s uncomfortable with us sharing these pictures, let us know, and she needed to see it, and she zoomed in and looked at her bum, looked at her cellulite, and I was like, Yeah, okay, let’s just zoom out and are you having a good day? What were you doing in that moment? How were you feeling in that moment? when she was on a stand up paddleboard for the first time, and it was absolutely joyous, and it really yeah, helped her shift, shift that perspective. Who cares if you’ve got some cellulite, that doesn’t take away from the joy of being on the water in a beautiful setting.

Ailsa 37:42
That’s right. That’s right, absolutely, we get lost in those details, but you need to get lost in the bigger details. Oh, that’s well, Claudine. It’s been wonderful chatting with you. I think we’ll finish our recording now, and I’ll provide all the links to your business, and to your Instagram. So it’s been lovely, and I’m so very grateful that you have entrusted having a chat with me tonight.

Claudine 38:21
It’s been amazing, thank you. It’s been great.

Ailsa 38:25
Thanks so much.

Ailsa 38:26

Claudine 38:27


Assumptions are the mother of all f@ck ups

Assumptions are the mother of all f@ck ups

Assumptions are the mother of all f@ck ups... my mum has taught me (and she doesn't usually swear!) To be honest it didn't really sink in for me until I became a psychotherapist and of course starting exploring my own relationships. One of them in particular - my...

The Love Peg

The Love Peg

For all the parents and beautiful kids struggling with school nerves xx ・・・ I fixed my sobbing child with a peg....not just any peg - a LOVE peg! 💖 My daughter Tess was sad and teary just before she caught the bus to school. She...

You are already all that you need to be

You are already all that you need to be

I still have a love letter from 24 years ago. Gifted to me as I left a relationship to come back and live in my home state. In it, is one line that has been utterly profound in my life. Sometimes I invite my clients to consider it for themselves. Each time I say it,...

Ailsa Robson has a private counselling and psychotherapy practice in Adelaide and consults with clients in Stirling and Glenelg, SA as well as online. She has a Masters Degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy and is the author of Perfectly Imperfect.