I read a lot of blogs. We’re talking 1000+, as I read them I begin to feel a connection, reading their stories, hearing about their joys and woes. They soon begin to feel more like friends.
Sarah Prout was the one which deeply inspired me to open up and write this post. Thank you Sarah for giving me the creativeness to be brave, and share parts of myself I never imagined I’d ever share – even with my closest friends — let alone here, now, for all the ether to see!
1. One sick day changed my work situation for life.
Looking back, it’s all quite surreal, but there was a time when my annual salary was £9,000, a PR Job I hated. I lived in a tiny studio apartment that cost three quarters of my monthly income and I’d double bolt my door each night to feel safe. A few times a week I’d walk to and from work to keep within my budget, it was a 3 hour round trip. I didn’t mind this so much, especially in the summer months as it gave me time to process the day. There was one particular day though where the situation left me feeling really blue and I called in sick to work and took a duvet day. I’ve never gone much on television, infact day time t.v. itself is enough to make me want to go to work, but on this particular day, Oprah was on. It was about her career and how she managed to progress. There were so many things she talked about that resonated deeply with me in that show, but the one that stood out was about knowing your worth and not settling for less that you really deserve.
And so began my experiment, when I looked at the education and skills I had, I realised that my current life was a reflection of my current state of mind and more sadly, the current state of my self-esteem and what I thought I deserved.
It was this day, I made a commitment to myself that I would not only get a new job, but I would double my salary every time I moved roles within the next 5 years.
The job hunting began. I applied online and only to roles that were paying at least double my current salary. I had to believe that I was worth it.
I also let friends know that I was in the market and to let me know of any roles that might have been a good fit. Three weeks later not only did I have a job offer, the salary they were offering was exactly £18,900. And a friend of mine offered a room in a share house that was cheaper than my current rent, and only 11 minutes’ walk from my new role.
Between 2004 and 2007, I trusted my instincts and tested the commitment to myself so much that I had increased my salary by seven fold in just 3 years.
2. Growing up I wanted to be a crime scene investigator.
I loved school, it was a positive experience for me. It had its ups and downs, especially being an all girls convent school. At year 10, we had to decide whether we’d focus on the arts or sciences. I loved both, equally, English and Creative Writing were also one of my passions, as were biology and, strangely physics. If I’d had more direction at the time I would have listened to my heart and studied both. However, I went the science route after hearing my mother continuously talk about how there was no money in fashion or the creative world. I was the teenager that watched endless hospital programs and would happily eat dinner watching open heart surgery. I have never really been squeamish and remain that way now.
3. Being present is very difficult for me.
I have a really short attention span, which means you get the best out of me when I’m doing at least two things at the same time. My college friends always laughed at me as I would get my best study done listening to music and cooking a meal at the same time. Over the years I’ve learned to be much more present and pay attention—I now take in the finer details. Especially working in the corporate world, where so much time is spent in meetings, where it was always easy for me to switch off and tune out. I’ve learnt to switch my focus to the observer. I am now acutely aware of the unsaid communications between people.
4. I’m a yoga teacher.
If you had told me 10 years ago that I would have any interest in yoga, let alone that I would be teaching, I would have laughed wholeheartedly. Yoga found me in 2008, and I practised on and off for a few years because I never felt comfortable at the studios I tried. I felt like I didn’t fit in and that the practise was about what you look liked. It was about the style and label of your yoga pants and which coffee shop you frequented after class, rather than the peace, spirituality and philosophy I was looking for.
In 2012, after a minor health crisis and a constant feeling of dissatisfaction I decided that it was time to hit the road once more. This adventure landed me in Guatemala where I dedicated time to seriously practise yoga, meditation and mysticism. This is where my deep journey of yoga began, and two years later I completed my teacher training and have been teaching classes ever since.
5. I had an eating disorder and I really don’t think they ever fully leave you.
When I was a child I remember my mum adding things to our meals and banging on about the f-plan diet. I had no idea what this meant apart from an awful lot of baked beans being added to our evening meals. Over the following few years my body exploded into being a woman, that’s exactly how it felt to me at the time, like an explosion. It’s like I woke up one day and I suddenly went from an average height, lanky girl to having large breasts, hips and standing full grown at 5’9 by 13 years of age. I was bigger than everyone else but it didn’t bother me until I hit 14. At 14, my circle of friends widened and I became friends with a girl that I later found out was severely bulimic. We became very close, I’d go to her place often and have dinner. She would eat dinner and everything seemed normal to me until a couple of months passed when her mum expressed her gratefulness for my friendship with her because she only ate when I came over for dinner. That made me acutely aware of the situation and over time I took on the responsibility for my friends health. I would make sure she ate, and looking back I realised I was eating way more than usual and it began to show. At first I cut down what I ate during the day, and would mostly eat when my friend and I were together. When that didn’t work I stopped eating completely but my appetite won every time and I would end up binge eating once my resolve broke. I controlled my eating the only way I knew how after watching my friend over the year, it seemed to work for her so that’s what I did behind closed doors. Eventually, I distanced myself from the toxic friendship we had built and concentrated on other friendships—slowly my eating went back to normal. Bulimia raised its head a few times during my late teens and early 20’s and I noticed that it was never really about the food, but about having control over at least once thing when everything else felt out of control. The damage I did to my body over those few years has taken twice, even three times as much work to bring back into balance. It will be a lifetime of commitment personally to deal with fears and emotions in a positive way.
6. The things I love about myself the most are my smile and my laugh.
Both are large and attract an enormous amount of attention. It makes me smile even wider when strangers comment on my smile and how its brightens their day. I just can’t help myself and my cheeky grin, it gets me in all kinds of trouble which is usually good trouble. Even when I’m sad or crying it’s easy to make me laugh or smile again and I think that’s a rare and valuable thing. You really never know what people are going through and your smile may be the only ray of sunshine in someone else’s day.
7. I learnt to make good choices young.
I grew up in a single parent household, and my nan was a huge influence in my life. I was an only child until the age of 11 and was privy to mostly adult conversations. Listening to my aunt and uncle’s conversations and the advice my nan would give them in situations made me think about the big questions in life a little earlier than most. My nan was an old school home maker type. She worked really hard her entire life, and had the life experiences of migrating from the West Indies, she had strong opinions on right and wrong. I would quiz her constantly about the choices I had to make, about the future and what I’d like, as she furiously mixed cake batter or seasoned chickens to roast for dinner. In many ways she was modern, and talked often about not conforming to the ideas of others and how I should just live my life as I pleased. As a nine year old I didn’t really know what she meant but I listened intently and filed it all away for later. Today I own my choices fully and know that I make the best choice in any given situation, at that moment in time.
8. I’d die without eggs.
Contrary to popular belief in my circle of friends, eggs are my favourite food. I just love them and can’t get enough. They don’t have to be fancy to float my boat. As long as they are organic or preferably biodynamic, I’ll eat them plain old poached with sea salt and be as happy as Larry. Im always open to new ways of experiencing eggs and my favourites are baked eggs with home made beans at The Grounds, Alexandria.
9. At the age of 16 I was sexually assaulted by someone I knew and I told no one.
It left me feeling vulnerable, disgusting, ashamed and filled with anger. I felt like my world had been put in a spin cycle, and kept hoping that someone would notice that I was different and ask me; are you ok? It didn’t happen and I coped the only way I knew how pretending everything was okay. I went to school every day, I dedicated my time to study and my first boyfriend, and time with friends. I did such a great job at brushing it under the carpet that I actually blocked out the entire thing until I hit my 30’s. I began having nightmares that ended with me standing outside a giant door. I was petrified and immobilised in every dream. I knew that if I didn’t go through that door I would never know the truth and never be free. The nightmares became so bad, friends came to sleep nights with me and eventually after a few months the door finally opened. I relived that awful day from a bird’s eye view in the corner of the room. Its been six years since that door opened and a long journey home to myself, filled with the professional help of therapists, self-care and forgiveness of myself and others.
10. I’m incredibly selfish with my time.
I need a lot time with myself and I enjoy my own company. I love my friends and family and I’m really quite social. In the balancing act of a corporate job, yoga teacher, energy healer and personal relationships. I need ‘me’ time to be able to turn up fully present for my clients and my loved ones.
11. I can control my dreams.
In my dreams it’s like I’m watching an action movie in high definition and there are times I wake up more exhausted than when I went to bed. I’ve always had a great amount of control over my dreams and this is called: Lucid Dreaming. I’m fully aware in my dreams more often than not and ask questions that can affect the route the dream takes. I’m also aware that I astral travel frequently but this is more rare for me to be conscious and navigate those experiences. I know weird, but true!
12. If I had three wishes…
I would have afternoon tea with my ancestors and listen to their stories and learn about my heritage first hand.
I’d have compete financial freedom which would allow me to focus on writing a book, spend more time with clients and generally do all the things I love like yoga, travel and coaching.
End poverty and equal the playing fields. There is more than enough for everyone on this earth, if only we were to take care of each other and the planet better.