The Wilds Ones

By | Flow, Nature, Pause, Wellbeing, Wild | No Comments

Nature lies within us all

The experience of being immersed in nature at its fullest is slowly beginning to teach me a lot about myself. The years of moving away from her, distancing and misaligning myself with the ebb and flow had taken its toll.

Over the last few years, following my ‘wake up’ call reminding me that life is not some dress rehearsal, or slumber to drift through, I’ve made some very different choices in life. The biggest decision came shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, within a few weeks our family home went up for sale. The practicalities of our decision made sense, yet it was the trees, golden fields, wild flowers and rolling hills that felt like a home that I needed to heal my sorrow and in time allow us all to flourish.

By the winter we were closing the door on one house and opening the door to the countryside and mother natures herself, who at that time had shed her leaves and settled into hibernation. I was starting to synchronise with her, without really knowing at the time.

What struck me in those early months was the sky by day and night! It looked so vast, and for the first time in my life, I noticed the sparkle of the stars in the dark sky, untouched by bright street lights. By day the birds would flutter and flap with intent, and as the evening drew closer, they would slow and quieten acknowledging day becoming night.

Over the course of those years, I have made unconscious choices that signalled to a more natural way of life. The garden was a blank canvas of grass, rolling into the surroundings of the rolling hills. We put up fences to give structure and boundaries, and I too started to recreate my own, when my mind was too loud, and darkness often graced it, I dug a garden path to help me find my way through. Chronic stress and anxiety plagued me in the summer, and I planted lavender to slow me down. I left the ‘corporate’ world in March of this year and started sowing seeds, seeds in my garden and new seeds that would help grow my own business.

Bare foot and bare faced a few months on, and the shock of coming out of the ‘corporate world’ that often dictates your rhythm of 9–5 was a shock to my system. For weeks I would sit at my kitchen table by 9 and work until 5. It was an interesting time for me to explore the pitfalls and positives of working in this way because now I had a choice: To work in the way I had always worked for 17 years or find a new way. I choose the latter with much resistance! I wanted a new rhythm and flow in the way of living and working and still, at this time I was unaware of how nature could guide me! I was drawn to the water, and for the first time in years, I started to swim. She works mysteriously, and I know now — I was finding my flow!

Each week I took to the water and swam up and down. In those moments I breathed deeper and made sense of what I wanted to do. Soon after I needed to find a new daily rhythm to compliment my flow, so I jumped on my bike and used the gears and pedals to guide me. My new working day started to unfold, and synchronicity emerged.

With a new rhythm and flow developing, I acknowledged the need to boost my inner belief and confidence that the work I am embarking on and dedicated to, like many others, is required by me too. There is room for us all.

As I begin to build a new a health movement in work and life for all those looking for another way, a healthier way, something bigger is needed to push me, support me and help me navigate how to land the change required.

The timing was perfect and over the course of a weekend I drove hours to the depths of Cornwall for a retreat ’The Wild Pause’ designed by Danielle Marchant, partnering with Ian Prickett, a well-respected Polar Explorer, who joined Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the world’s greatest living explorer, on the ‘Coldest Journey’ Expedition as the team’s engineer.

In my 38 years on this planet, I have never gone past my hips in the ocean — Yep that’s right! The deepest waters I have been in has been an indoor pool. As Danielle describes “… you will meet the wild one that lives inside of you. The silent risk taker, the inner rebel and the forgotten warrior”. I was ready to meet her (again) because now she was needed consistently and in a considerable way.

We ventured to the ocean, and for five hours we explored the coast line by Kayak and Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Boards. Being sat in a kayak felt relatively stable and comforting, yet the moment we were asked to switch over and head back, my legs trembled, and my body slumped. I choose the kneel down option initially while on the SUP board. Ian guided me and encouraged me to stand, and I realised my fear of standing in this vast ocean was no different to my fear of standing tall as a business owner and change-maker. Day one gave me perspective. The SUP was my stand point!

We gathered around the fire that evening, sharing stories and reflections of our day on the ocean and acknowledging the powerful lessons we learn in nature. Day two rolled in and we were all in for a surprise — two hours of coasteering. As we made our way to the rocks, I prayed my fingers and feet would always follow. Three-points of contact was the mantra in my head as we climbed, side stepped our way along. We got to our first ledge, and the height was relatively low, yet it was the depth of the ocean and the leap off that hustled my mind. I learned at that moment that when you take a leap, it is always more powerful to have cheerleaders and supportive faces around you. I looked down to see smiling faces beaming up and cheering me on, and I took my first leap!

Sinking, sinking, sinking in those few moments submerged in the unknown, not dissimilar to the feeling of following your heart and not knowing what will come of it. As I made my way back up to the water surface, I felt sheer exhilaration and pride. I can leap, and I will rise.

By complete immersion, I was beginning to tap into the wild one, the inner rebel, the forgotten warrior that Danielle had so eloquently described. Nature once again had supported me on a grand scale, and it does not surprise me to know that both earth and our bodies are approx. 70% water!

So if you have ventured this far in my blog and you too have lost your rhythm and flow and seeking to thrive, then turn to Mother Nature and let her guide you. Surround yourself with her and watch with care.

If you need flow, take to the water, if you are seeking rhythm, pay attention to the seasons, align to them and do something that has a rhythm. It may be playing music, banging a drum, taking a walk, bike ride, or a gentle run.

Be a wild one too!

My long term absence

By | Cancer, long term absence, Return to Work, Wellbeing, workplace | No Comments

The elephant in the workplace and it’s not a ‘fit note’

In this picture, I felt relieved and relaxed of the fact that I had got through the most testing and terrifying time in my entire life, with life still ahead of me and most importantly sharing it with the most important people in my world.

A few weeks before we flew off for this much-needed break post-surgery I had been given the ‘all clear’ ‘crystal clear’ by my wonderful consultant. He remains my hero for his speed to solve.

After the momentary pause away from work from the crappy day of my diagnosis, tests, more tests, surgery and recuperation from having pretty much my entire womanhood taken from me, I returned to the workplace. Isn’t hindsight such an excellent thing — What a big mistake the way I returned, turned out to be!

I hope that as you read this and should you be in a position to make some changes in your workplace that you feel compelled to do something different. From hereon in I will be candid with my personal experience of returning to the workplace as a cancer survivor.

Over the last few years, many workplaces have been more generous with maternity, paternity and long-term absence for their people which having benefitted from two of those I will be eternally grateful. Before cancer came along, I was proud of the fact that I had not had one single day off sick EVER. I just didn’t get ill that often and if I did I ‘worked from home’, of course — the modern day work around!

Along came the blessing of pregnancy and during my maternity leave, I found different ways, rewarding and joyful ways to spend my time each day with my daughter. Fast forward ten months later, returning to work after maternity leave and I was fortunate to have a network of new mums in my workplace and in my wider network to call upon for support, advice and a few guilty tears.

Then one sunny day I race off to my appointment with my daughter and husband in tow and BOOM. Enforced leave. I didn’t choose this leave. I didn’t want this absence. In fact, I remember vividly driving into my then workplace and just wanting to stay at work that day and pretend nothing had happened and get on with my job and my meetings for the rest of the day. I was lost. A complete lost soul, not knowing what to do, who to do it for and what would happen if I didn’t have much time left on this planet — What would I want to do with my time?

I went home reluctantly with my tail between my legs no longer sure of my place and purpose in this world to start to make sense of the shit storm. I use that term lightly! Kris Carr nailed it in her book ‘Crazy, Sexy Cancer Survivor’.

I’d crawl over broken glass to go back, but I know I can’t. So what should I do?

What happened over those weeks leading up to results, D-day and surgery were nothing short of amazing with complete and total support from family, friends, colleagues helping me deal with the shock. A few colleagues from work knew the real reasons I was away from work, and I did rely on that private network of individuals. I wanted it that way initially because I didn’t have the strength to deal with people’s responses following a few mixed experiences and I was still in shock myself not sure what the hell was happening. I have also been on the other side of trying to be there for someone diagnosed with cancer when my mum was diagnosed in 2001. It’s tricky to navigate because so many things don’t get communicated through fear!

I returned to work after 11 weeks and that day was probably one of my most humiliating and saddest days of my working career. It wasn’t until I parked up and walked in with my hubby, who thankfully worked there and ushered me across the large campus that I realised the overwhelming fear and shame rise. Walking into a huge open plan office, I could feel my cheeks starting to burn, and my skin starts to sweat. I wanted to hold on to my husband’s trouser leg, scream ‘please don’t leave me’ and go and hide under his desk, but that would have been a bit weird. I left him at the stairs and walked towards one of the free desks.

I sat down and kept my head down. I got out my things, and everything just felt different. Who was I kidding, I was never going to be the same person. I stared at my laptop and was hit by a comment from a colleague that had all the best intentions, but floored me with his sense of humour. I sobbed my heart out in the toilet to hide my embarrassed face. I wasn’t ready for work and work wasn’t ready for me.

My first day back was spent pretty much on my own. My team and the Management were out and busy in the throws of what it takes to work in a fast-paced organisation. My return to work was so different to my previous return to work after maternity. No immediate network in place to call upon that shared a similar experience.

As the week progressed I spent time with some brilliant and caring individuals who helped me navigate my return and the job I was returning to but really, truly and only now can I see I was numb, angry and totally pissed with my world. I had gone from my bubble at home feeling protected, looked after and safe, to walking into a hustling and bustling business with people who looked like they were working in their own crisis. I had walked from a personal crisis and pretty much stayed in that mode when I returned to work.

As the weeks and months passed, I continually tried to shoe-horn my energy into my role, yet continued to burn out. It felt, and this is my truth, which may differ from THE truth that I was avoided by some, perplexed by others and an anomaly that just didn’t make sense (I even recall someone saying to me I just don’t know anyone that has lived after cancer!). I was sensitive to how it felt to be back at work, and I sensed unease, discomfort and more. I was all over the place mentally and emotionally although tried telling myself and others I was fine! I was naive, not strong or bold enough to say what needed to be said. ’Survival mode’ in a person and workplace can create unprecedented actions in people!

Over the last few years, I have tried to make sense and consider what could be done differently. Here is my personal view of what needs to be said and shared for future survivors from all walks of illness and absence when they return to work because for some walking back into the workplace is like stepping into the arena finding your place in your new reality:

  • Talk to the person and ask how you can ensure their return to work is supported from the minute they arrive, until the minute they go home on that first day.
  • The person returning isn’t always the best place to give you advice on how to deal with their return due to the shock, or conscious or unconscious change they are inherently experiencing. Get Occupational Health involved from the outset to ensure a smooth transition and return to work plan is devised alongside their GP/Consultant. If you don’t have an Occupational Health Team, either speak to your Private Health providers to get direction or use the guidance from their GP.
  • Ask the person what has worked for them previously when they have had time away from work (holidays, paternity, maternity — often they will have some previous habits that can assist) and what would help them feel supported. This helps bring logic to the forefront of creating a plan and exploring what could work.
  • Encourage complete openness and communication from the outset and discuss the elephant in the room. I spent some time with an amazing leader last week who supported a colleague returning to work following cancer and treatment. They had a session with the whole team to discuss what happened, how the person was feeling and how they team felt welcoming them back etc.. I know different ways will work for different people, but by ignoring the elephant it will NOT make it go away. You will all feel so much better after it, and if you work in a big department it ends up being Chinese whispers, and often the person returning to work has a different outlook on life and something urgent for example, may no longer be urgent in their eyes!
  • Build a network in your business of survivors, patients and people impacted by illness and disease. It took me a while to find them, but when I had the opportunity to sit and talk with people that had been off with cancer, heart attacks, depression, bereavement we found an understanding that was hard to get with others that hadn’t experienced life after…..
  • Introduce Keeping in Touch days (KIT) for people on long term sickness, train managers how to communicate in what can feel like uncomfortable territory and keep that practice up when they return for the first few months. Four in five (87%) line managers are not given any training on how to support people with long term conditions including cancer[1], according to new research by Macmillan Cancer Support[2].
  • Read up on ‘Return to Work’ information for the particular illness/disease the person has. The NHS, charities such as Macmillian, Mind, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research etc…
  • Be aware of the laws protecting you and the workplace from the Equality Act 2010 to Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

I would love to hear from any organisation that has practices in place to support people returning to work from long-term absence, or organisations that provide line manager support. Feel free to get in touch via


References from
1 Line managers surveyed were asked whether they had been given any training in how to support employees with long term conditions including cancer.
2 All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1010 line managers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5/25/2016–6/11/2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of line managers in the UK.



Leading ‘sustainable engagement’ in the workplace

By | Engagement, Leadership, productivity, Wellbeing | No Comments

The wealth of your business is reflected in the health of you!

If we take inspiration from successful sports teams, our natural aspirations to do well and be successful is something that is multifaceted and embedded into the daily habits and rhythm of life and should also come with a rule book, just like any sport!

The optimal performance of human beings is simple to communicate and share (the wisdom on social media), yet harder to achieve and embed in life.

Over the years many scientific and management studies have provided evidence on how to engage and motivate your people, build high performing teams, told us what to eat, do, think, say and why we should do it! However, with all the best-selling books, well-intentioned advice from experts, proven research, that often gets updated, we still find ourselves in an escalating health dilemma. We see more people in workplaces experiencing an energy crisis, there is an unease within various socio and economic ecosystems, and we are witnessing a decline in performance and productivity in some countries.

“In 2014, US workers worked the most hours per week, followed by Japan, Canada, and the UK. An overall downwards trend can be observed across countries for hours worked” (1)

So, we know more, do more, have more, fill our days working more, yet the very thing that we seek to become — successful, productive, healthy human beings, is moving further away at an unrelenting pace from the masses, or bare minimum sticking on autopilot.

The World Health Organisation predicts that workplace stress, depression and burnout will top the world’s most prevalent diseases by 2020.

Engaged people feel well. To be well and do well is a daily practice based on a few simple principles of moving, resting, recharging and reflecting. These need to be embraced by you and your team(s) at all levels in the workplace, with the ultimate intention to role model better and healthier ways of working and living, if you wish to create sustainable engagement from your people and a thriving workplace(2).

I get it. I do. You feel like you are on your own at times, striving, fighting back. You have targets to hit, costs to reduce, customers to serve, people to engage and motivate and policies and processes to simplify.

You find yourself racing from meeting to meeting, going faster on the road, treadmill, and barely taking a breath, and yet you crave more time to make better decisions, seek creative solutions, create white space in your diary to spend with high performing teams to have deep conversations and spend time with the people you serve — your customers. You don’t need to fight back! Where is the fight taking you? It’s the very shadow of the organisation that has become tired and drained of all energy. Start to conserve your energy for something much bigger. There is another way. A better way.

Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.

I invite you to join me and adopt new management practices into your workplace and re-write the rules.

Drawing on over a decade of leading research by the LSE with McKinsey & Company, Stanford University, and more recently other participants…Results have consistently shown a statistically significant correlation between good (management) practices and firm performance: well-run companies are in general more productive, profitable, and have higher sales growth than those with inferior practices. (1)

38,000 feet in the air on a flight back from Sydney I listened to the airline safety video expressing the need to ensure your oxygen mask is on before helping others. This is a great metaphor for optimal performance and being well, particularly when the majority of your daily journey is served in the workplace.

Create your + rule book for performance in an engaged workplace:

  • Develop your set of personal and professional rules that give a framework for each day and be consistent. It may be that all calls you take are standing. You value the energy and presence of your team, so in meetings, all phones are banned. You know the importance of good food to keep you energised, so you gather with colleagues and create the time just to eat.
  • When you prioritise your energy requirements to perform at your best, you, in turn, prioritise others.
  • Focus on the decisions you want to make and space (time and environment) required to make them, and in turn, you empower others to do the same.
  • Carve out white space in your diary to re-charge and re-focus daily and others will come to you with comprehensive and creative solutions

I’m not a deep expert in any area of health and wellbeing; I am a practitioner of wellness for sustainable human performance in work and life. An unconventional and former Human Resources (HR) professional who is moving further from the term ‘Human Resources’ to valuing that our place of work requires a ‘Human Performance’ team to support and enhance performance rather than supply the people! I am on a quest to find a better way of working and living, that is different to the current way because let’s be honest it isn’t working out that well!

sources: (1) The Power of Productivity Report, Dec 2016 by Dr Alexander Grous, London School of Economics and Political Science. (2) Workplace Wellness that Works by Laura Putnam

Why 10 days of silence felt loud!

By | Flow, Pause, productivity, Wellbeing | No Comments

I went for peace & became more productive

As I sat in the hall on the fourth day, you could hear a needle drop, yet in my head, the big band were only just getting started, and the constant beat of thoughts was creating a ripple effect of how I sat in stillness.
The decision to go was not something I took lightly. In fact, at the time I felt I was under immense pressure at work, experiencing daily panic attacks and suffering from chronic stress. On top of that, I was trying to be a great wife, mother and friend with barely enough energy for all. Something had to change. I went to learn, to change my mindset and to experience something that is rare — slowing down!

– You’re irresponsible; you won’t stick at this, you’re going crazy, you’re too trusting, run away, get out, get out, get out!

As I rolled into day six, the band was in full swing, and I wanted to throw in the towel, or cushion I had been perched on for 6 hours each day. I was distressed and confused. I had gone expecting to find peace through slowing down, yet it was, even more, louder in the slow lane. I scribbled frantically in the writing pad by the hall entrance to seek support from one the team. Within moments of writing it, I was approached and helped, Anna helped me make sense of what was going on in my mind, and at that moment the shift took place.

“You get to a place where you begin to be guided by something greater than yourself. You stop fighting and striving (indeed the need to expend this type of energy is often a strong indicator that you are not in flow and where you are meant to be) and instead, surrender to your higher purpose and be guided from there, allowing things to happen, trusting in source, focusing on your why and letting go of the how…”
― Wayne W. Dyer, The Shift: Taking Your Life from Ambition to Meaning

My inner dialogue that had been faint, yet humming in the background for years, often blurring into the hyperconnected web of life was now fully present and at maximum volume. It had my attention, and my role was to sit with it for the next four days and not react. Walk a little slower, explore this noise and create a new melody.

On day ten I stepped out the meditation hall with belief and relief. As I drove through the tranquil valley on the edge of the North York Moors National Park back home, the world looked and felt very different. My awareness within was now reflected in the outer world.

The days that following was about integrating back into the hustle and bustle of day to day life and at times, the overload of my senses. I did this gradually, yet the smell of paint fumes, to my surprise, was the hidden secret of those ten days in silence. I stood proudly in my newly decorated bedroom. What usually have taken two days had taken me half a day. I was surprised by the level of focus and flow, but not as surprised as my husband who thought I had got decorators in!

So when I need to boost my productivity, focus and flow, I minimise the distractions from the outer world and explore what is going on inside.

Being in the flow

By | Flow, Pause, Wellbeing | No Comments

Using our senses to navigate our way of being

Everything in life needs to flow. At this very moment you are in a natural relationship with the flow, and despite the flux, you naturally have the abilities to guide and choose your next move.

The flux can often become our crux of the very thing that allows us all flow.

Flow is undeniable in its energy and movement. Flow doesn’t need to force, push or try harder; it circulates, slides and glides while helping us make our strides. Flow is a natural state, a way of being, despite the pressures and stresses of life, full of endless possibilities and potential.

In many Eastern traditions, flow is a form of energy. From my studies in Yoga, the Sanskrit word and is derived from the root nad, which means “flow”, “motion”, or “vibration”. Identified in many Tantric texts, the human body consists of 72,000, or more nadis that provide universal energy (prana) to every cell in the human body. When the nadi system flows freely we are healthy and well, yet when it becomes weak and congested, we struggle with poor mental and physical health.

How is your flow? 

Are you working too hard? Tangled up in thoughts and to-do lists? Working daily to land that deal, or seek that decision, Do you feel fatigued by your day and often hijack your meals with coffee and snack bars (and that’s when you remember to eat!)?

It’s time to plug into your natural abilities and guide yourself back to the choices you always have:
– Choose an optimal choice that brings flow (e.g. set a daily routine for when you eat, sleep, etc…)
– Choose a suboptimal choice that forces, or diverts flow (e.g. eat on the move, or when you can squeeze it in, while sat at the desk of course!)
– Don’t make a choice and run the risk of becoming stuck

Now stand up and take a closer look our your window and notice the flow happening — traffic, people, nature, the time of day. Pause a little. What do you notice? Use all of your senses.

Next turn your attention to your resources — time, energy and money. Where are you investing these to support your flow, or where are you not? Your legacy to be well, feel well and do well in all aspects of your life is synonymous with your reality.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

If you feel you’ve strayed from your flow, reached a transitional period in your life, or strive for better balance in work and life then invest in harmonising your natural rhythms first — sleep, eat, move and most importantly rest.
Your ability to recognise and change how you perform, make decisions, listen, focus and succeed are all based on your flow, except don’t find your flow, get in your flow.


Three steps to get into your flow:

  1. What do you love? Or what’s your ambition in life?
  2. Plot your daily rhythm – Grab a piece of paper and draw a horizontal time line from 6 am today, to 6 am the tomorrow, or use your calendar. Block out time for sleeping, eating, moving, resting and relaxing (note — relaxing is not sat in front of the TV every night! — let’s save that for another blog!)
  3. Now reflect on what resources (time, energy, money) you current invest in your dream, or ambition on a daily, or weekly basis and how much is achievable for you to do going forwards?

“The idea flow from the human spirit is absolutely unlimited. All you have to do is tap into that well. I don’t like to use the word efficiency. It’s creativity. It’s a belief that every person count”.

– Jack Welch

The Hopeless Wanderer

By | Being Present, Bereavement, Pause, Wellbeing | No Comments

The search and quest to find ‘me’ in my forest of thoughts

“You heard my voice I came out of the woods by choice
Shelter also gave their shade
But in the dark, I have no name”
– Hopeless Wanderer, by Mumford and Sons

Over 14 years ago my beautiful mum lost her battle to breast cancer and I sadly watched her slip away as she took her last breath. I took on the role of ‘be strong’ for everyone. I felt it was my duty to mum & my broken family. I became a serial perfectionist, control freak, strived for achievement no matter how much strain it put me under… And looking back now, hindsight is a great thing, I was the sole contributor to it all!

After an enlightening holiday to Australia in 2013, some nine years after my mums passing, I realised I had been running from bereavement for so long and only last week I was reminded of this when I listened to Prince Harry share his own personal experience of losing his mother and the impact it had on his own health. I must admit listening to him helped me appreciate that I am ‘normal’ and bereavement really has no timeline, textbook approach and differs for each and every one of us. Sometimes the pain of accepting it is too much to bear and no ‘bereavement curve’ is going to get you there quicker.

Over that long block of time in my life, I found it easier to distract myself, although I wasn’t aware that I was actually doing that for years. My distractions went from minimal chores to significant changes — moving house 3 months after mums passing (so we had a house big enough to host a family Christmas!), cramming work hours into my week until I was too exhausted to do anymore, fundraising and organising charity balls to bring something good out of the mess of losing my mother.

Like many people that lose a parent, you eventually arrive at significant family occasions where their physical presence is hugely missed and my wedding day, birth of our daughter, birthdays and ‘Mothers Day’ are moments when I have and still feel unsteady on my feet and mind, often wishing to embrace the moment and also get through the day/event as quickly as possible without tears of the special memory not being shared with her.

What are you running from, or what are you running to?

Wandering in Manly above the trees! — Sonia and I

This powerful question was left rattling around in my head and I got curious. In March 2016, on top of a mighty hill not far from Manly Wharf and for the first time in ten years, I got perspective, I slowed down, relaxed, ‘paused’, practised yoga, walked and spent deep quality time together as a family.

Three weeks allowed for this and I will always be eternally grateful for that opportunity to visit a beautiful country and the special memories I am left with and the rituals I have embedded into my life to this very day.

Each day I remind myself to be more present, to count my blessings, to be cool with the ‘lack of control’ with life! I’m by no means saying “I’ve cracked it”, I still have my wobbly days, but every day I try, and the days I don’t succeed, I notice and acknowledge it. After all, perfection is an unattainable goal and the moment I think I have ‘cracked it’ will probably be a sign that I stepped back into the woods again!

Notice, what you notice!

My family, friends, early morning meditation and yoga, walking, daily moments to pause and good food are the gifts to me each day to be well. Being well is a daily practice for us all.

Manly Beach — Beach Wandering!

As they say in Manly (well my brother does!) Live. Love. Smile — What great advice!

How do you wear your body?

By | Body Positive, Wellbeing | No Comments

So, how do you wear yours?
Upright, or slumped?
With love, or negativity?
With confidence, or with discomfort?

This was a great question that a dear friend and an amazing osteopath, Sophie, used in our wellbeing workshop and I saw everyone’s ears prick up and backs straighten!

So many of us roll out of bed each morning and go about our morning routine without even thinking about what we carry around every day. I had previously spent too much time thinking about how I wear my hair, makeup and what clothes to put on.

We blame our bodies for various things, or we fail to see the beauty in the reflection of the mirror each day. Your brilliant body performs so many tasks each day without us needing to consciously think about it, from our heart pumping blood around our body that keeps the life flowing through every system in the body, the hormones working as our ‘internal sat nav’ to keep us on track and in balance, the trillions of cells that work 24/7 to clear, protect and grow and the more visible parts that allow us to experience life.

So wear yours well, be gracious with all the things it allows you to do and if you need to make changes, then first find what you like about it. Start there!

You are a perfect little potion
A miracle to earth
A river of love and energy
You are the beauty that is birth
You’re a cloud of hope and feelings
In a never ending sky
A branch entwined with those around
Growing side by side
You are a candle in a lantern
On a dark and rainy night
You’re a log a burning ember
A fighting shinning light
You’re a tide that falls and rises
A single grain of sand
The wind that roars so wildly
And the silence in my hand
You are my BODY, you are my FUTURE
My love, my life, my view
And you will carry me forever
So I will nourish a better you…

Anxiety Disorder

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Over the last two years, I’ve come to realise the psychological effects the cancer diagnosis had on me in March 2014. Physiologically changes took place immediately from surgery and the repercussions of surgery. Menopause sucked, it was distressing with no HRT, yet I learned a lot about what nourished me, versus depleted me during that time. (Nearly said period ! Ha!)

​I was caught in a whirlwind of big decisions and scary things happening in a matter of weeks; which I could never prepare myself for. My mind was storing it away for another day, though!

Since then, I’ve always strived to acknowledge my feelings, face into the pain and discomfort with the help of experts, especially after a huge & painful lesson learnt after 10 years, following my mum passing in 2004 – You can’t ignore pain, run away from negative emotions, bereavement; it stores up and eats away at you.

Despite being honest with myself on how I was feeling – good and bad, and I’ve truly experienced more moments of deeper joy since having cancer ( it kinda makes you extremely grateful for ALOT in life). I’ve also had this annoying crushing feeling of panic and anxiety that has continued to build up to points, more recently that are so debilitating and damn right scary. ​


I’ve had some, what I call, ‘real‘ threats to my health, a colonoscopy to check for lynch syndrome, remission check-ups, a CT scan in 2015 and more recently bloody Dengue Fever BUT, it has also been brought on by less threatening places; like work, a mountaintop in New Zealand, driving to an appointment, walking along the tow path with a buggy, being around people (!), aeroplanes, a thunderstorm & so on… In my mind, I logically know there is nothing ‘life threatening’ about it, butthe ‘feeling‘ takes over and consumes me.

This is one of the most frustrating things about having an anxiety disorder; knowing as you’re freaking out that there’s no reason to be freaked out, but lacking the ability to shut the emotion down.(

Over the last 6 months, I’ve seen my anxiety disorder completely go off the scale due to a build up of stress, mainly generated by work and the pressure I was putting on myself. I’ve experienced the theory and it’s been true for me :
… over 70 % of your bodily systems are utilised during an anxiety disorderFinally I now understand why I’ve felt tired, drained and experienced pain and lethargy in my body. The cancer wasn’t back. It was anxiety. Anxiety is also known to ride shotgun with depression and those two have been a driving force in my life, whilst I’ve felt very much like the back seat driver, not listened to.Thank goodness for a brilliantly CBT Therapist and a very supportive husband and family. I’ve slowly been able to piece back together the parts of me that have been vacant for many months now. I’m changing my paradigm when it comes to ‘stress’. I’m seeing it as a helpful positive tool to pay attention to, so it works in my favour more often than just at times of exercise.Stress, like fat, sugar, gets a lot of attention and bad press. I too have been guilty of ‘dissing’ stress and how bad it can be. I almost became too fearful that stress = getting cancer again! Yep – welcome to the world of an anxiety disorder!

This interesting and stimulating talk on stress by Kelly McGonigal-How to make stress your friend, looks at why our thoughts about stress are so important to how we feel and deal with it.

_I’ve come to realise that I’ve actually suffered from degrees of high anxiety a lot throughout my life – always ‘on guard’ worrying the absolute worst was going to happen to me, or loved ones! It’s exhausting.

My first memory of this was when I was 6, or 7 years old and I was on a boat swing with my younger brother. I vividly remember saying to my brother “please don’t ever die and leave me!” Heavy stuff for a 6/7 yr old to have on her shoulders worrying about that !!

I’m learning that anxiety, through awareness can also transform into excitement…. Just like stress, anxiety can be beneficial, which has been another huge paradigm shift for me, knowing that I can use it to my advantage.

A great book by Dr Dave Alred MBE ‘The Pressure Principle’ summarises this beautifully with his ‘pressure principle model’.

So whilst I continue to hack through the ‘ugly zone’, the place where change and learning takes place and start to change learned habits and behaviours I’ve had all my life and foster the environment I’m in, which at times is unstable, I will now look at how both stress and anxiety can help me and just like my 7 year old self – call out my fears to others and as Dr Alred writes, conquer my fear of failure and obsession with outcomes.

​What I’ve learnt (so far):
1. Don’t suffer alone, reach out for help and get help. Others can help with their awareness
2. Awareness of your feelings and behaviours are the first steps to change
3. Change your perception by answering this question ‘how is this helping me now?’
4. Now – Be in the present! Mindfulness, meditation, affirmations are hugely powerful
5. Regain your power and know that so many people suffer from anxiety disorder too – athletes call it ‘performance anxiety’


“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is
that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that
most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened
about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are
all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory
of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And
as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our
presence automatically liberates others.”
~ From A RETURN TO LOVE by Marianne Williamson

The Vicious Little Flower

By | Uncategorized | No Comments
For months I have been sat looking at this flower, plucking each petal with full attention. I knew this flower would never bloom again and I knew deep within me there was a little bud just waiting to be cultivated and nourished.

If Wellbeing was a choice, something we could pick each day, then everything and everyone encountered would fill our hearts with joy and in moments of darkness, we would know a light still shone. I wish this was a choice that was easy for each and every one of us, every day, but with 1 in 4 people that now suffer with a mental health problem this is a choice that can seem untouchable.

After months of psycho-therapy for anxiety and depression, I sit here reflecting on how far I have come with the help and support of an amazing team of professionals from Efficacy and Nuffield Health and some of the best friends and family a girl can have.

I have blogged about anxiety disorder, something that has been lurking in the shadows and tapping me on the shoulder for many years in a very subtle way. I have learnt that the more you bury emotions and thoughts, the more they begin to manifest themselves in challenging ways and it took two wonderful women in March, who I had connected with through work to spot the signs and get me help.

I almost don’t recognise the person I was back in May this year that sat in her CBT session and wrote, ‘There is no point being here’. Even writing that now brings a tear to my eye and yet it still took weeks after that sunny day in May to finally press the ‘pause’ button and heal my mind.

My weekly CBT sessions had focused on my anxiety over cancer and the fear of it coming back. After dengue fever in the March and tough times at work, it felt like I was no longer welcome in this world. My emotions and thoughts were spilling out of me and I withdrew from everything and most people I knew.

After months of panic attacks, constant anxiety and worry about life, relationships, health, work, I called a dear therapist, who helped me to take the brave step and finally put my hands in the air and surrender to the depression and anxiety. Suicidal thoughts and even writing the note in my head was the final straw…. I felt so frightened of life itself. I didn’t recognise the hands on the steering wheel shaking with panic as I drove away from work that July morning.

Physically, I suffered with stomach pains, constant sensations of nausea, lack of energy, binge eating, sugar craving and throat tightening. Emotionally, I was angry, upset, tearful and scared and thoughts to match.

I had choices, yet, the choice of complete wellbeing, still felt out of touch. I so passionately believed in wellbeing and it is the best professional role I have ever done in my life. I was truly practising wellness for mind, body and soul – I just hadn’t fully grasped it …. Have I ever really had wellbeing?

I continued to stare at my vicious little flower and a 10-day silent meditation retreat gives plenty of time and space to do that. It has been my biggest challenge and most brutal experience I have ever encountered sitting with my emotions and thoughts – I literally was scared of my own shadow.

Through my weekly CBT sessions we’ve explored childhood, belief patterns, traumas, relationships, emotions and behaviours. I have learnt that wellbeing is truly an inside job.

“Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world”


Fast forward to now and after a transformational 10-day meditation experience, weekly CBT for 7 months and some EMDR (Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing)  therapy I have finished picking the petals off my flower and I have awoken from my slumber. A new perspective on life, just like the eye of this Daisy.I have come to learn that my anxiety screams louder when I am off track, people pleasing, shrinking and compromising the very values and beliefs that make me who I am. Like physical exercise, I also appreciate I need to exercise my mind with the great CBT tools, mindfulness and meditation techniques I have learnt and surround myself with cheerleaders and spirited people I identify with.

I am deeply grateful for all the love, kindness and support I have had from a circle of people I had the courage to tell at the time. Thank you x

For further reading and support on mental health, please hook in with the following useful resources:

Professional Help and Support:
Efficacy – CBT Therapy 
Nuffield Health – Links to emotional wellness and resilience
Mind – Charity supporting mental health
Time to Change – Campaign to end mental health discrimination

The Well of Being – Jean Pierre Weil
The Chimp Paradox – Dr Steve Peters
Peace of Mind – Thich Nhat Hanh
Calm – Michael Acton Smith
Frazzled – Ruby Wax
The Pressure Principle – Dr Dave Alred
The Wisdom of Healing – David Simon, M.D
Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig

Retreats and nourishing acts of kindness
Life by Danielle – Weekly tools, life coaching and retreats
​Traditional Yoga – Registered Charity that offer meditation weekends, retreats, resources and great tea!
Soulstice Wellbeing – A place to unwind, relax, enjoy a yogi tea and treat yourself to a class, or treatment

Being Present

By | Being Present | No Comments

As a former control freak, aspiring to become more present, or what some may say ‘living in the moment’, as cliched as that sounds, I’ve made plans and set expectations my whole life. I should get a gold medal for project managing my life. I was so distracted with living in the past, or future, that on too many occasions I hadn’t fully soaked up the moments in the ‘present’.

After some mind-blowing and devastating news in March 2014 about my health, I found myself in a place where looking to the future filled me with worry, anxiety, immense fear and lots of questions! My habitual approach to thinking and feeling about the future kicked in, before it had even arrived and immediately it impacted the present moment. It was time to re-frame as much as I could, otherwise, I would be more of a wreck than I was at that moment, spiralling out if control.

Within one week I learnt I had uterine cancer, which is extremely rare for a young woman, I had trembled through the CT and MRI scans, had blood tests and received the results to confirm that it was contained in my uterus. My wonderful uterus that had protected our daughter whilst she grew for 9 months was now protecting me and preventing the cancer from spreading if I acted quick and went ahead with surgery as recommended by the Oncology Team.

What kept me going over those seven days was the strength, love, kindness and immense support from family, wonderful friends and colleagues. I also found an inner-strength by being present every day, counting my blessings, taking small steps, facing my fears and believe me you have countless fears when you are told you have cancer… Dark thoughts about not seeing my toddler grow up, my gorgeous husband, my family, my health.

I slowed down and paused. A vital skill for our health, especially in the frantic world we now live in. I spent time meditating, walking, becoming very aware and when I mustered the courage to face into my anger, anxiety and fear, I tried to be kind to those feelings, rather than cursing myself for feeling that way.

Each day during that life changing week and the months that followed was a reminder of how quickly you can lose something you thought you always had — Health. When you become caught up in your tomorrows, workload, and the long and ever expanding ‘to do’ list then it is time to Pause.

I felt like I had been given a gift of new senses and I now see the world so differently through the same eyes, yet new perspective. I’m now more present than I ever have been and at times that can be equally as challenging!

There is a mission in my remission, to raise awareness and support other people beat the burnout by slowing down and pausing and ultimately re-charging the ultimate battery in life — You!

I have run all my life; I am not going to run anymore; now I am determined to stop and really live my life.
Thich Nhat Hanh