I don’t think I ever had a career plan as such! I became a Registered Nurse in the late 1970s, always loving the personal interactions with my patients. One day, while in the newly-opened Body Shop in Covent Garden, I stumbled across a book on Reflexology, and was forever changed in my attitude to health and wellbeing. Since then I have maintained the belief that we are holistic beings, and it’s no good trying to compartmentalise parts of the body, and separating out mind, body and spirit. I took a course in Swedish Massage, and later Indian Head Massage – it was the latter that really resonated as it incorporates a deep understanding and respect of a person as a whole.
I became a mum and shortly after the birth of my second child spent time in America with my family. During this time all my qualifications lapsed, and on my return to the UK in 2000, I had a blank canvas for “what’s next?” I still needed to be available before and after school, so I decided to enrol on a Foundation in Art & Design at college. The next two years were an absolute joy as I found a creative streak I never knew I had. At the end of the course I knew I didn’t want to continue further with my studies in art and design and was drawn instead to starting a new career. A lifelong love of theatre, along with my new-found creativity, led to me opening a children’s theatre school. This was a truly fulfilling 14-year episode of my life. Both my children attended, and as grown-ups still feel they benefitted enormously from the skills they learned there. It was wonderful to see how our classes gave confidence and self-esteem to so many children and young people – I know we made a difference.
In 2011 I returned to college, and gained qualifications in Counselling Skills and Counselling Studies, which resulted in much self-exploration too. In 2013, I came across an article by Felicity Warner about gentle dying. It was a real “lightbulb” moment. I signed up for the Intro Day immediately, and a month later trained as a Soul Midwife. The knowledge I’ve gained has been invaluable in helping friends and family through difficult times, and it’s incredible how little nuggets of ancient wisdom get into conversations over coffee and then used months later when someone is dying. The TLC Training Day grew out of Soul Midwifery, and is an accessible workshop for anyone who wants to understand more about death and dying from a practical viewpoint. I’ve taught hundreds of people through TLC workshops, webinars about advance care planning and Soul Midwife Intro days and know from their feedback that accessing the ancient wisdom really helps us tap into our own inner knowing, giving us a calm confidence around those who are dying.
In 2018 I decided to train in Infant Massage so that I would be able to teach my daughter how to massage her baby. There was something magically “full circle” about engaging with newborns as well as people at the end of life – there are indeed many crossovers, perhaps most of all the importance of touch. I’m not currently holding regular classes but am open to setting them up in future if a group of new mums approach me to teach them.
I have developed workshops and webinars to help professional staff facilitate conversations around death and dying with their patients. Advance Care Planning has come into its own since the onset of Covid, and yet people are often so reserved about the subject that they find potential end of life decisions almost impossible to talk about. My professional training day/webinar helps everyone to feel more at ease, and the increased uptake of ACPs following the training is testament to its success. Advance planning is also a subject we cover in The Lost Art of Simple Dying workshop.
Aside from work I spend a lot of time outdoors, walking with my husband. We like to wander through woods and meadows, and along the river or canal, in all weathers! We’ve been introduced to herbalism, and enjoy identifying and harvesting various medicinal herbs and plants on our walks. We also like going to the theatre and cinema, to galleries and museums, and enjoy inspiring talks. I practice yoga and meditation too, which all combine to help lead a balanced life. I’ve also recently started teaching Circle Dance, which is a complete joy! I am grateful every day.
I have gained much on a personal level by learning new skills, and feel it’s an enormous privilege to be able to share these with others, giving them agency and confidence in their own lives. I have been deeply moved by the ethos of the professional bodies, and the love and care warmly given to me by my teachers along the way; Narendra Mehta at the London College of Indian Head Massage, Felicity Warner the founder of the Soul Midwives’ School, Sylvie Hétu my Instructor Trainer with the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) and Judy King my Circle Dance teacher.
I will always be grateful for the inspiration that has informed my journey thus far.