Mindfulness probably saved my life!
It was 17 years ago. I’d just moved to Liverpool from London to fulfil a lifelong dream to study fashion. The day my course was due to begin, I got diagnosed with blood cancer. Not ideal. I felt awful. My Partner and I had uprooted our lives even taking our daughter from school to start this new dream life which was fast becoming a nightmare.
I felt physically unwell, anxious, isolated, guilty and sad. That’s where mindfulness came in. It felt like a gift. I found an amazing mindfulness and meditation teacher who became my guide for the next five years.
It was with her that I fully began to understand the mind/body connection. I learnt to get out of my head and into my body. To breathe deeply for seemingly, the first time in my life and to rest my nervous system so that I could give my body a chance to heal.
I finished my bachelors degree in fashion design, specialising in slow fashion as the much needed antidote to fast fashion, and went on to become an arts educator in mainstream education (textiles specialist) for the next ten years.
During this time I noticed a negative shift in mental health generally. Teachers were stressed out and reaching burnout. Students were becoming more depressed and anxious, employing dangerous coping strategies.
My classroom was becoming an unofficial ‘safe space’ where students would come to self-soothe by drawing or embroidering lyrics to their favourite comforting songs in a judgement-free space and find some temporary relief.
It was during this time I felt the call to become a mindfulness teacher myself.
Not being one to take the easy route, I completed a four-year master’s degree with merit in Mindfulness-Based Approaches at Bangor University (a world leader in mindfulness education) enjoying the luxury of regular commuting to this beautiful part of Wales.
I am now grateful for being able to work with people from all walks of life, both in the UK and globally online. Helping them to bring awareness and acceptance to their current life situation and patterns of behaviour and opening up their ability to make necessary changes in their lives so they can learn to better deal with stress and develop healthy habits and relationships – ultimately bringing more peace and joy into their lives.
As well as core mindfulness teachings such as MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) I have developed courses and workshops that also incorporate my passion for slow fashion and textiles and creativity.
My Formal Qualifications
- Masters in Psychology: Mindfulness-Based Approaches from the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University, Wales, UK. This qualification is the longest and most in-depth mindfulness training currently available in the UK and includes certification in teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as the Neuroscience of Mindfulness
- Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) from John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
- Bachelor of Arts with honours in Fashion Design with a specialism in sustainable design from Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
- Qualified Teacher Status through the UK Teaching Regulation Agency
- Embodiment Practitioner Certificate
- Global Healing Circles Training
Read more about my personal journey
Like many young people growing up in the UK in the 1980s going to university wasn’t really a viable option for me. Coming from a large, working-class family, money was tight which made me eager to leave school as soon as I could to make my way in the world. I did pretty well and started my work life in a junior role and ended up running the operations for large, mainly creative companies, including a prominent West End theatre production company.
I had a great time and met some wonderful people. But something was amiss. I wanted to be absorbed in my work, have the opportunity to use my creativity, and make a difference. As cheesy as it sounds, I wanted to ‘be the change I wanted to see in the world’ so, in my 30s I decided to go to university and as I had always been able to design and make anything out of fabric, fashion seemed a logical subject choice.
I relocated with my family to Liverpool to study with the added benefit of giving our daughter a taste of the good life whilst she was young by moving near the beach on the Sefton Coast. Unfortunately, this transition into university life didn’t run smoothly, on the day my classmates were having their induction to the course, I found myself having a biopsy, which confirmed I had leukaemia. Not ideal.
My diagnosis led me on a healing crusade. I explored a whole range of healing modalities, from energy healing to collective healing in wild women and cancer survivor groups and everything in between. It was at this time that I found meditation and mindfulness and was lucky enough to meet the most wonderful teacher, who continued to guide my practice for the 5 years I stayed in Liverpool, and until she was aged 84. She shared so much of her wisdom and life stories, which to this day I feel privileged to be a guardian of.
My fascination with the mind-body connection grew and I read everything I could find about stress, trauma, repressed emotions, the nervous system and traumatic loss and grief and finally did the inner work I needed to do in order to heal from the traumatic loss of my firstborn child, who after a 42-week‘ perfect pregnancy’, caught an infection during delivery and died one hour after his birth ten years prior.
Whilst studying for my bachelor’s I became disillusioned with the fashion industry and in particular the exploitation of garment workers throughout the world and the catastrophic environmental effect of fast fashion. I became passionate about adopting sustainable and fair practices and techniques and incorporated these principles into my life in general as well as my textile design work, writing my dissertation on greening the clothing industry.
Once I completed my Bachelor of Arts with honours degree, I continued my education with a postgraduate certificate of education. Subsequently, I went on to teach textiles as well as a broad spectrum of creative subjects to young people in secondary schools in London as well as adults in community settings for the next ten years.
Over these years I saw a rapid increase in young people struggling with their mental health. School was becoming a toxic environment for many of them and oftentimes they would gravitate towards my classroom, which was becoming an unofficial ‘safe space’ where they could be themselves and talk about their worries without fear of being judged and ridiculed and of course where they had access to cupboards full of wonderfully healing textile and art supplies.
My teaching colleagues were also struggling with stress due to an ever-increasing workload and their well-being needs being ignored by a chronically underfunded and failing school system which puts exam results and league tables above the well-being and happiness of its children. It was then, almost six years ago, that I decided to try to make a difference and began studying for a master’s degree in Mindfulness-Based Approaches.
Fast forward to now, my focus is split between helping people cope better with living with chronic illness, reducing stress and implementing positive habits with mindfulness training and developing my own, and helping others to nurture their own mindful creativity practices.
As well as delivering programs within a variety of workplaces, I offer community mindfulness drop-in sessions, workshops, and a range of mindfulness courses mainly online with some in-person courses coming soon in London and I am currently writing several online courses.
I am also hoping to fulfil a dream and start my mindful creativity retreats next year with trips to Ireland and the Greek Islands in the planning stages.
As a firm believer in the power of both mindfulness and creative expression to help people feel alive, engaged and happy, as well as help them to reduce stress and anxiety, I love how taking a mindful and compassionate approach to creativity can help with re-framing self-critical voices and be a catalyst to a more loving relationship with the self, with all the benefits that brings.
My long-term vision is to help as many everyday people as possible discover the benefits of mindfulness for themselves.
I plan to do this by offering mindfulness courses (both live and online), workshops, retreats and coaching to individuals and within workplaces and educational settings collaborating with my mindfulness colleagues along the way.
I am also currently developing a range of mindful creativity resources for use by individuals as well as in group settings including slow textiles kits to do my bit to help change the throwaway culture.