Everyone has a story to tell; each one of us a writer of poetry – some, without even realising. That stream of consciousness that runs in our veins? It’s poetry waiting to be written. We believe in the power of words, and that power is what urged us to set up PoetsIN.

It’s because of those inner streams, that we bring you this regular interview feature, Writer Profiles. An interview with a writer. Some you’ll know, some you won’t.

This week we meet a lovely lady that is now a PoetsIN Ambassador. Her name is Jo Hodson.

So grab a herbal tea and some cake and read this week’s writer profile.

Jo Hodson – PoetsIN Ambassador

Hi Jo. Who are you and what is it that you do?
I spent a long time figuring this one out… but I’m getting there at last!
In essence I like to capture it as “I help people experience all of themselves”. In my work as a coach (and as a human being) I believe life is richest when we allow ourselves to embrace the messy as well as the magnificent – I help people tap into that space.

I am also a passionate plant-based foodie and that creeps into all the experiences, retreats and workshops I create.

What journey led you to where you are now and to do what you do?
Ha ha, if I told you it all started with a Nakd bar would you be curious? The full story is here.

Until 2011 I was living life coasting along in neutral. I was working at an architecture practice in a job that to many had glamour and prestige but inside my soul was dying. It was only when I met a guy who happened to have Aspergers, was vegan and didn’t play by societies rules, that my perception of life and its meaning was flipped on its head. My reality shattered and I began to question everything I thought I always knew, and I saw my life for what it really was for the very first time. It was if a veil had been lifted.

We all have a mind, so we all have mental health.

Tell us what mental health and mental wellbeing mean to you.
We all have a mind, so we all have mental health. In the same way that we all have a body, so we all have physical health. It’s a spectrum.

The curious thing about mental health is that we can’t see it. We, as humans, have a tendency to want to understand everything, but when you can’t see something that can make it trickier to understand, and this creates fear.

I have always been drawn to those who ‘see the world a little differently’, yet it is only in my recent adult years I have come to the awareness that I have ADHD, which created a lot of ‘aha’ moments when I reflected back to my childhood ‘tantrums’ and also more appreciation and understanding of the way my brain works now. It’s on ongoing journey of unravelling this ‘gift’.

We’re excited that you’re going to be a PoetsIN Ambassador. What is it about what we do that makes you picture helping us?

I’m passionate about supporting mental health, but in particular the lens through which you approach it captures my heart and has personal meaning for me. Writing has been such a huge part of my own journey of self-exploration and it’s something I continue to share passionately. For me, the work you do is an effortless fit.

What is your opinion of what PoetsIN do and their impact on those in need?
I think the power of creating space for self-expression is so often overlooked, yet you create that opportunity beautifully.

I love how you seek to reach across different platforms both in person and virtually, so that however someone may choose to connect there is a platform for them to do so.

Jo makes exquisite plant based food

One of the things you do is leave positive notes for people to find. Tell us more.
Yes indeed… Sharetheloveletters! Well, I’d like to mention straight up that the original concept for the movement itself was not created by me. I met Sam Livermore at a series of events in 2013 and was so taken by her concept that I offered to visually rebrand the movement and also design a series of quote based postcards for people to more easily get on board and #sharethelove.

It’s fundamentally an act of writing an anonymous love letter and then leaving it somewhere for a stranger to find. For me, the real beauty and power is in the fact that through writing positive words for someone else to read, I find myself writing what I most need to hear.

What are your future plans with PoetsIN?
Oooh so many ideas and excited moments of conversation…. Time will tell how this may manifest!

Find out more about Jo by clicking on her picture.

What is your relationship with words and how has your style evolved over time?
I find words are a channel for expressing and processing the ‘noise’ in my head.

This has been explored through the evolution of my blog Includingcake.com which I began in 2011 shortly before quitting the ‘architecture dream’.

At first, I focused simply on writing recipes with a little intro blurb to each one, but as my personal journey deepened I found I had way more to say beyond the food itself. I remember feeling conflicted and very unsure about bringing this ‘other side’ of me out to play, and thoughts such as ‘but what if people are only hear for the recipes’ niggled away at me for a long time.

Over the last few years, my style has definitely evolved into a more vulnerable and authentic space, and that’s an ongoing process. I believe that when you share vulnerably and openly, you give others permission to meet you in that space. It’s a truly beautiful relationship.

What are you reading right now?
Well, I can tell you what I have stacked up on my ‘to read’ pile!

So, here’s some vulnerability for you. I love the idea of reading but I really struggle with focus, often reading the same sentence over and over. I also struggle with giving myself permission to read as if there is always something ‘more important’ that I should be doing. In the last few years I have probably only ready 2-3 books a year and I am committed to changing that!

In actual answer to your question- I am between books, having just finished ‘The Dark Side Of The Light Chasers’ by Debbie Ford – which was incredibly insightful. It contains a lot of exercises that I plan to go back through and do.

A childhood favourite

What is your favourite book and why?
This is a tough one to answer… different books for different reasons! I’m going to be a rebel and give you a few answers to that question.

My childhood favourite was ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton. Purely for the magic it allowed me to conjure up in my mind. I read it again as an adult and still loved it.

More recently I loved ‘Chose Wonder Over Worry’ by Amber Rae and all of Brene Browns books speak to my heart.

You’re very spiritual. How do you see spirituality fitting into the modern world?

Interestingly, when my eyes first glanced across this question, I noticed a subtle sense of resistance with me. “You’re very spiritual” – Am I? – Compared to who?

I almost feel like an imposter wearing that ‘title’ as the word has such ingrained connotations.

But yes, as I reflect, I guess I am AM very spiritual. But not of the ‘fluffy’ kind (my mind wants me to make sure that is clear). I am not a ‘love and light’ or ‘angels’ kinda spiritual.

My personal take on spirituality (and I guess the answer to your question) is that spirituality is a conscious act of getting out of my head and into my body and into my heart and living life from that place. Living my truth.

We need more people living their truth.

Is there one part of the many things you do that you enjoy the most?

Creating, creating, creating…

So basically, whichever thing at any given time has got the highest possible degree of creativity attached to it. When I am creating I am in flow. (In reality I am also likely to be procrastinating and ignoring a more important task! Ha ha)

What achievement are you most proud of?
Quitting my architecture career and going against all expectations and the ‘rules’ of society to figure out what it means to live life on my own terms.

Jo gave up her career as an architect

If there’s one tip you could give us when it comes to wellbeing, what is it?
I am writing a book at the moment, the theme is centred around how we connect with our innate creativity.

In all the conversations and interviews I have had so far, there are two themes or patterns that are coming up again and again. Both of which I think are worth considering in answer to this question.

1) ‘creating space’ for creativity – and not physical space by way of time, but more the mental space to tune into the quiet voice of the heart that always has the answers.

2) ‘giving ourselves permission’ – we often know deep down what we most need in any given moment but so often we don’t give ourselves permission to go for it because we get sucked along by the ‘should’s of society.

oh, you wanted one tip… ooops 😉

It’s all about the words.

We all have moments where we truly connect with words we read. What quote inspires you the most and why?
Again, this can change from moment to moment, but I’ll pick one that I keep coming back to a lot…

“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” – Mae Jemison

I also love ‘The Manifesto Of The Brave And Brokenhearted’ by Brene Brown. It’s such a beautiful piece.

What is your favourite word?
Ooooh this is easy… Petrichor (aka the smell of the earth after rain) It’s been my favourite word for years, but I have no idea why really!

Petrichor is one hell of a word.

Finish this sentence… “Photography is the epitome of…”
Capturing a moment and allowing it to last forever.

What projects do you have now and coming up?
I recently created a Facebook community called ‘I AM’. This is a community of people committed to growth and committed to showing up authentically in ownership of their journey. I AM is a space to express who we are, who we are becoming or maybe who we are leaving behind. I welcome anyone within this group to find me there if it resonates.

I also invite anyone who feels drawn to what I have shared to connect with me for a conversation.

I host various workshops throughout the year and hosted a spiritual firewalk at the end of January. It was a space to be present, to face fears, to raise your energy and allow yourself to be seen and to step into your greatness.

I am currently writing a book centered around how we connect with our innate creativity. If you have a powerful personal story to share, I would love to hear from you!

For all of the above you can find me at: hello@includingcake.com

What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is that I will disappoint you.

That at some point along the line you will realise ‘I am a rubbish person after all’.

This story stems from my behaviour as a child. There was no such thing as ADHD back then.

I was an angel at school. A people pleaser, quiet, bright and always seeking to get the top grades. Yes, at home within the four walls of my house it was a different story. The ‘excess energy’ I had no idea how to vent manifested as dramatic outbursts and tantrums in the company of those closest to me.

Jo suffered with excess energy.

I carried so much shame around my behaviour and felt so out of control when it took over me.

I am not the seven-year-old Jo any more, I have grown and evolved. Yet almost three decades later I still carry this fear that if you invest in me (with your time, energy or money), at some point I will let you down, that you will find out I’m not really the person you think I am. I hold myself back because of this.

The irony is that yes, I will likely disappoint you at some point down the line. You will likely disappoint me too. That’s just life.

Even if I was the perfect example of the most perfect human being, I would still disappoint someone, somewhere along the line because the truth is that we cannot control how other people perceive us. We see others through the mirror of our own reality.

So, my greatest fear is that I will disappoint you, and I am working on being ok with that.

Thanks so much to Jo for answering these questions so well, and for wanting to be a PoetsIN Ambassador. We look forward to some super successful future collaborations. In the meantime you can find and follow Jo by clicking the following social media links:

Website: www.includingcake.com

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