RUTH FIELD is an unlikely guru.
A trained barrister — she is not practising at present — and mother of two-year-old twin boys, she is constantly battling to keep her home ship-shape and her life in order. What sets her apart, she says, is the ‘grit doctor’, her alter ego and an inner voice that casts aside doubt and insecurity to achieve what many consider unthinkable.
It was the ‘grit doctor’ that propelled her to take up running and write a book based on her experiences, Run, Fat Bitch Run, that became an unexpected bestseller. Now, in her latest book, Get Your Sh!t Together, Field presents theories on getting through the grind of daily life and living more simply by taking control of what’s grinding you down.
Quite clearly, it isn’t another self-help guide that panders to insecurities and encourages women to ease back on self-criticism. Field, 37, who has a supportive husband, says her Grit Doctor is anything but the kind and nurturing type. She is clearly driven with an inner steel that leans towards perfectionism. Yet what comes through is that she knows too well the daily battles faced by ordinary women whose lives are crammed with work, children and social duties.
“I’m by no means perfect,” she says. “With two young toddlers I always feel like I am managing chaos. What I have had to learn is to surrender to some of that chaos, to let go a bit and accept things aren’t going to look perfect when you have kids.”
For someone whose life seems dictated by self-imposed rules and facing things head-on, I wonder how she relaxes.
“I’m actually quite good at relaxing... I read and I run — both are relaxing to me.”
Exercise, she says, is hugely important in helping create balance in daily life. Much of her advice she describes as “simple stuff” that works if you have lost your way a bit “or are the kind of people who maybe needs a bit of a push to get sorted”. And we all have a weakness.
Mine is my handbag. “What’s in it?” she asks “An unpaid bill, old receipts, food covered in fluff?” Oh, yes and more.
Tidy it, she orders, stressing it could be a metaphor for the rest of my life. What appeals to me is her directness, her no-nonsense approach. If you do nothing else, she says, take a good look at your life and identify what you would like to change. “So often people don’t even do that and I wonder how they ever think they are going to move forward.”
She says her mantra is that “nobody knows what they are doing”, advice given to her by her father when she was a trainee criminal barrister.
“It may not be true but it is a great way of looking at other people rather than being intimidated and thinking they know everything.”
I’ll quite happily take that one away with me.
* Get Your Sh!t Together by Ruth Field, littlebrown.co.uk
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