“Don’t cast a clout ’til May is out!”

When I was eleven in my last year of Primary (Elementary) School a school trip, on 23rd May, was organised for my class to travel to London. That was a distance travelled of over 130 miles and so it was an exciting time for everyone involved especially as the trip to London wouldn’t be by coach but by train!

I vividly remember being told that, although it had been quite dry recently, it might still rain that day. “Don’t cast a clout ’til May is out!” were the words I heard utter. Intrigued by what this meant I asked and was reliably told that ‘clout’ was in fact ‘coat’: don’t leave your coat at home until May is over. Abiding by the words I took my coat with me to London. I’ll tell you later if it did actually rain or not!

A ‘clout’: a coat provides valuable protection in inclement weather. Nowadays, my wife and I love nothing better than walking in the Lake District, Cumbria. If you know that part of Britain you know that a coat is an essential piece of kit to take with you if there is even the slightest possibility of weather change even if it’s fair when you start. Interestingly though, we have had many recent visits where a coat wasn’t necessary at all; yet, we still had a fleece and rain protection in each of our rucksacks.

Clouts protect us but they can also get in the way and restrict us when we don’t need them. We’ve all seen people with coats tied around their waists and those expressions that tell you that they wish they’d not brought those heavy waterproofs with them ‘just in case it rains’ when there’s not a cloud in the sky and there hasn’t been for hours! If they’re not tied around them they’re probably stuffed in their rucksack. Either way they’re being carried around and it feels so unnecessary to have them when there’s not a sign of rain.

What would it be like if we could just drop them off somewhere convenient and pick them up later? May be even have someone carry the burden for us for the whole of the rest of our journey! But that’s another story…

The simple fact of the matter is that a ‘clout’ can be heavy, restricting and we really wish we didn’t have them with us. How is it them that so many of us carry metaphorical clouts with us all around the place? Come rain – or shine – those metaphorical clouts journey wherever we go and often we don’t stop to ask if those ‘clouts’ are serving us or being a burden to us. Often, we’ve become so accustomed to wearing the ‘clout’ that we’ve never stopped to ask if we could leave it off in the first place. Specifically, what would it be like if I didn’t put on the ‘clout’ of worry, anxiety, fear or guilt? How much freer would we feel with the fresh air on our backs, as opposed to the sweaty, heavy-laden worry or guilt that can be the usual ‘clout’ on our shoulders?

As it’s the 1st June, I would like to encourage you today to cast aside your metaphorical clout. Go on! Imagine yourself doing that right now! You can, you know; it’s no longer May! Imagine the feeling that losing that ‘clout’ now gives you? And even better: leave it permanently off. That’s a weight off your shoulders isn’t it? Not sure if you can lose the ‘clout’? Contact me for an informal 15-minute chat and we’ll see what we can do.

Going back to my trip to London all those years ago with the school. Did it rain during the day? Yes, it did! It rained when we got off the train and were waiting to be picked up by our parents. I was glad that I had that kind of clout on my shoulders!

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