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A woman's journey to wholeness...

A woman's journey to wholeness...

I describe here the inner journey undertaken by one woman.  How it began by her 'selfishly' risking to take timeout for herself.  How this investment fortified her body and soul for the subsequent years of transition that lay ahead. How the moral of this story is especially important if you’re a person who juggles a number of different - and sometimes competing - responsibilities and rarely enjoys a moment totally to herself.

 
Three summers ago Viktoria came on the Soul Alive Retreat – that year in Istria.  She was working full-time in financial services yet it wasn’t nurturing a single bone in her body, let alone making use of her natural creativity.  But she had two sons to raise and a husband to care for and domestic life was full on.  She came on the retreat to explore what she might do to change this state of affairs using the creative processes I offer.
 
The following year she joined me again for Soul Alive - that year in the Algarve.  She’d already reduced the hours she was working in financial services to give herself time to teach young children again. This was important progress.

Two weeks before the start of the retreat her mother died suddenly.  Viktoria chose to join us anyway, using this time to be with herself without having to be overly concerned about her family.  The weight of loss rested heavily on her and, at the same time, brought into sharp focus the things in life that were most important to her. 

Cooking, healthy food, love of nature and art where the themes that consistently emerged, no longer to be side-lined, yet Viktoria was left wondering how she might combine all three.

A few weeks after she returned home, however, her grandmother passed away too.  
 


I kept in touch with Viktoria during her time of grieving and a year later received a wonderful surprise.  The financial services job had gone for good.  Still teaching one day a week, she had taken a part-time job as a commercial cook - for the first time ever.  The hours were long but she wisely regarded them as the training ground to prepare her for a more corporate setting. That was her vision.

 

A year later I heard from Viktoria again.  It's so interesting to see how her story is evolving and to appreciate how organic transitions are.  When we stop trying to engineer everything, the right time and the best way forward presents itself, in ways we could never have dreamed of.  In her words:

 

“I´m so happy with my new job!  I´m now working at a treatment centre for people with drug and alcoholic problems. I´m employed in the kitchen where we also take care of the various trades people who support the centre. It is a good mixture of working with food and working with people, combining my passion for both.”

 

“The centre is situated on an island which you can only reach by boat. I work one week on, staying over, and then I have one week off. It's been a smooth start and this is my first whole week away from home - then I’m free entirely for a whole week.  Time flies by and I’m having a great time in a wonderful environment.”  

“I think this job will give me a lot more opportunity to do the other things with my life that I love when I’m not working - including art. The nature out here is fantastic.  I work in full view of the sea and also enjoy this view from my bedroom – you know how much I love the sea!”

I wish you a quiet moment now to reflect on what this story might mean for you.


I wish you a quiet moment now to reflect on what this story might mean for you.  

#retreat #somatic #imagination #sensoryplay#presence #embodiment #phenomenology #kinaesthetic #engagement #relationship #responsive #sensuous #standyourground #gettingcreative #confidence #connection #beherenow


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A single women's heart's desire

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Most single women who make a Vision Board have in the back of their mind the desire for a partner to share their life with.  I often see images of couples in an embrace or enjoying each other’s company.  It’s rare the vision board maker is so brazen as to pick an image of a couple quite blatantly getting married.  But on Anne’s board there were two!

Anne was in a long-term relationship of 16-year duration.  During this time her partner had proposed a couple of times but Anne hadn’t been ready for it.  Her hands were full running a family business, which she’d taken over from her parents, and she’d been raising two children too.  Because she couldn’t see her way beyond these commitments, her partner had dropped it.  So when the images of wedding couples first appeared, she assumed it was to do with her son getting married.

Five months later it was a different story.  She had now sold the family business and shed the all-consuming identity that went with it.  She was entering a new phase of her life with a different set of needs and values emerging.  Not surprisingly, marriage seemed entirely appropriate to her now and it was she who popped the question to her partner - who readily accepted.  It was only after this she remembered the images of the two wedding couples on her Vision Board.

When people are making their Vision Boards I always encourage them not to plan in advance what images should appear.  The creator begins their exploration with an empty mind and a blank sheet of paper. And I continue to go to great lengths to ensure their cognitive mind is occupied in order to give their intuitive intelligence the chance to have a voice. 

If a single woman desires a relationship - yet an obvious representation does not fall into her hands on the day of the workshop - then I encourage her to leave it alone.  It's safer to assume it’s not part of her programme for the foreseeable future and she has other priorities.. 

Obviously she can still willfully find a picture and stick it in the centre.  However, in the grander scheme of things, this might be a distraction and cause her to miss out on something important beckoning to her, if she'd stayed out of her own way.

I speak from experience.  For four years the only images of men I found were either in the distance or with their backs towards me!  I had to accept for whatever reason I needed time alone and kept following the signs to learn what was required of me in the interim.  In retrospect I can see that what I’d been doing would have been quite difficult had I also been developing a relationship as well.  C’est la vie.

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Diamonds are forever.  There's one final twist to Anne's tale.  Within a month of completing her Vision Board, Anne came across a craftsmen and fell in love with a stunning pair of his earrings.  She told her ‘James Bond’ partner about them who gallantly purchased them for her. 

 

Now take a closer look at her Vision Board above.  Can you see how Anne had already pictured a pair of earrings next to the couple getting married – and next to the same couple, a picture of daisies in a similar shape and style to the diamond earrings?  Magic! 

So here’s to a woman’s heart’s desire and to the James Bond’s of this world willing to meet it, warm wishes Mary.

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#activeimagination #seeintofuture #desire #intentions #creativity #empowerment #mindset #goals #hope #dreambig #planning #gratitude #positivity #possibilities #supported #encouraged #motivation #thelittlethings #progress #gettingcreative #magic
#visionboard #arttherapy #imagination #family #craft #crafting

 

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 Too much to do and not enough time? Five good reasons to favour a Retreat

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A client was musing-out-loud recently and touched on something that resonated with me and possibly is true for many of us.

"I have too much to do and not enough time.”
“But when I get time, like on holiday, I can’t sit still for long because I want to explore where I am."
  

“It's just occurred to me the kind of ‘free time’ I really need is contemplative time just to be still and with my own thoughts and to take more notice of what's going on around me."

"I'd need a specific environment and particular conditions to provide me with this kind of free time.”
“So a holiday is not the ‘free’ time I need.  It's something else... like your Retreat!”

 

Yes, there is a big difference between taking a holiday and all the joys and pleasures it brings versus the virtues of taking contemplative time-out just for you.  

I've been running the Soul Alive Retreat  for five years now for the purpose of giving people time to themselves because:

1. You have too many plates spinning and it feels relentless  

While you’re busy spinning the plates, it’s impossible to decide which ones to drop.  Yet continuing to spin them - and more - is exhausting, especially if you’re being pulled in different directions at the same time.  

Recognising that you have a choice and deciding what changes to make is impossible when you’re in full spin  Taking time-out on a Retreat allows your head to clear and the better, alternative options become evident.

2. You're starting to snap at 'nearest and dearest'  

In fact, they may be part of the problem!  No kidding, I’ve often thought I should rename the Soul Alive Retreat “Escaping Housewives” - not that they’re exclusively for women.  It’s just that typically women leave it too long, giving so much of themselves to others; we forget to balance this with receiving - until we’re so replete and desperate to leave 'them' all to it.  

When you go on holiday with your partner, children, or friends – delightful as it is – they naturally want a piece of you so you’re still on call 24/7.  There’s no time to switch off completely and be idle and daydream with your thoughts and feelings.  On a Retreat you can.

3. You need to take stock of where you are in life because it’s been too long

Trundling along in the daily routine, there’s very little time to rise above it all and get a hot-air balloon perspective of what’s going on below.  Continuing as is, you could end up at the wrong destination before you know it.  Much better to get that higher perspective and make any adjustments now before it's too late.  

Not that any course is irreversible. It may just take a little longer to get back on track, beginning again where you are and at whatever age you’re at.  I know that one.
 
4. You've had a recent loss or change in circumstances

Hitting a wall can happen to any of us at any time – whether through health issues, bereavement, relationship problems, a career change – this is life.  The difficulty arises when you can't address this properly  because you’re so preoccupied with it, sat right in the middle of the situation.  

You cannot figure out a way through when you’re knee-deep in.   You must step back from the wall in order to come to terms with it and to receive the inner guidance you need to determine the next step… and the next.  This is the grace a Retreat offers you.

5. You have a ‘dream’ that won’t go away.  

It keeps nibbling at your ankles to get your attention and you keep pushing it to one side because it’s not convenient.  

The truth is that there’s never a perfect time to begin so why not start now.  The mind will always come up with very good reasons for you not to pursue the dream  - or to delay its start.  By going off-duty on Retreat you can see a way to begin.  You’ll also gain the support, energy and motivation to keep going.  Remember providence can move with you only after you’ve taken the first step. 

If any of these 5 reasons resonates with you, a Retreat will serve you well.  

There are many types of Retreat you can choose from but whatever the focus, its ultimate value is to restore balance, repair your sanity and improve your well-being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  When you stop being swept along by the agendas of others and start favouring your own, it's life-promoting.  

This requires longer time-out than an hour’s therapeutic or coaching session, valuable though they all are.  To make a deeper, sustainable connection to your self and to receive the powerful guidance this can provide, requires you to slow things down and slip into a more spacious experience of time and rest there for a while.  

A Retreat isn’t a selfish activity.  Returning home feeling good about yourself, empowered and confident, you have more to offer your loved ones, your work, and the world in general.  You are making a  solid investment in yourself, your happiness and well-being - and this is priceless.

If the promise of six unadulterated days to yourself lights your fire, consider joining me and other ‘blazing’ women.  

Please RSVP below or email mary@marynonde.com.   I’ll send you details about the Soul Alive Retreat in SW France, which rolls twice a year.  Set in beautiful sunshine and countryside bursting with life, this is an opportunity to be still, take stock of where you are, and arrive at what needs to happen next.

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#humanspirit #self-reflection #contemplation #timeout #sensuous #possibilities #mindfulness

 

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When I nurtured my wealth corner with Feng Shui

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You know how it is when a part of your home or office doesn’t feel right. 

Perhaps you’ve tried various ways to resolve it – including ignoring it.  At best it remains plain irritating and at worst it drives you insane.  When you factor in what this irritation costs you in terms of lower productivity (if it’s in your office) and an emotional drain (if it’s affecting your relationship), thank goodness I got around to attending to my own space when I needed to!

I'd been too busy to attend to it  but one morning at 6am precisely I knew what I had to do and I was on it….

My office shares my lounge/dining room.  In rearranging the space I shed a coffee table and invested in a cheap but cheerful standing lamp.  The whole room opened up, felt lighter, and more pleasing.  I added some roses from the garden and a fragrant candle. I raised my money plant off the floor to sit prominently in my ‘wealth corner’ and to conceal the TV when I wasn’t watching it (most of the time). 

Both my desks now have a stunning view of the garden through the patio doors so lots of daylight falls on them, which is so useful during the duller daylight time of year.  The end result is that it’s given me a big boost of ‘hygge’.

The icing on the cake ...within three days, four new pieces of business showed up I wasn't expecting.   Now that’s a good outcome for nurturing my wealth corner – and I still get to enjoy being in the room so much more.

If you’d like my Feng Shui advice on how best to nurture your wealth corner, please do get in touch: mary@marynonde.com.  To find out where your wealth corner you can also request a Bagua map. 

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#fengshui #decluttering #sacredspace #livethechange #livingmindfully #soulathome #humanspirit #possibilities #mindfulness #sensoryplay #inspiring #inspired #memories #somuchlove

 

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When one door closes another one opens by making an Intuitive Vision Board

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Recently I was faced with a conundrum.  I was ready to let go of my lovely flat in Marlow which had served me well for two years, yet where I was to move to instead was a mystery. With my daughter due back from University any minute for five weeks, I chose to park fretting about it and enjoy my time with her instead.

About a week later out of the blue a very good friend called me.  Her mother had just died after a long and graceful decline and she asked me if I'd go over the next day and give her some Reiki.  As I lay my hands on her shoulders, she said:  “Mary would you like to come and live here until I get around to selling this house.  You can finish writing your book.  There’s a room for Celine too.  And Willow is accustomed to sleep overs here anyway.”  I was gob-smacked - and delighted. Here was a clear way forward without me having to use willpower and must to arrive at it.

I recalled the two doors at the top of my Intuitive Vision Board: one door closed and the other slightly ajar. When the imagery of front doors appears on Vision Boards, it frequently represents moving house. Front doors often and also sit in the “Career/Path in Life" area of the Bagua map used in Feng Shui, which is the entry point of chi into the home and the area to work on to encourage movement generally.  I had no plans to change home when I made this particular Vision Board but the deeper part had clearly known otherwise. 

"Hidden Treasure."  The words alongside the two doors resonated with me too. The value of the intuitive work I do with Vision Boards is to help people to reclaim their hidden treasure - the diamonds in their back yard which so often get overlooked because they're right under their noses.

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Ou est Marie? Now folks to find me you cross the white ornate bridge with Marlow behind you and zig-zag up the steep gradient of Winter Hill, heavily populated by cyclists at weekends since the Olympics.  Be sure to take in the wonderful view from the summit before dropping into Cookham Dean and coming to rest at my friend’s home nestled in the trees opposite Herries prep school.  All that playful, creative energy coming my way surrounded by nature.  It affords me the perfect environment to complete the writing of my book. 

We have our own dance studio too. YES!  Since we’re both dancers we’ve dedicated the large open-plan lounge, with floor to ceiling views of the garden,  to somatic movement. Now anyone wanting to book in for a dance-movement session it's easy peasy.  Drop me a line using the sign up below, or email mary@marynonde.com, or give me a call on 0782 7017188. 

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#visionboard #arttherapy #imagination #activeimagination #seeintofuture #desire #intentions #creativity #empowerment #mindset #goals #hope #dreambig #planning #gratitude #positivity #possibilities


 

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The most incisive psychic reading ever by making an Intuitive Vision Board

I have three clients in the West Country.  So what are the chances that two of them live 7 miles apart when I live 225 miles away from them!  And that their names both begin with the letter “J”.

Since this was too much of a coincidence to miss, when I visited Jay1 recently to review her Intuitive Vision Board and use Feng Shui to align her home with her vision, I called on Jay2 beforehand.

Jay2 made an Intuitive Vision Board with me in February 2016.  Prior to this, she and her husband had decided they were going to up-sticks and move West at the first opportunity, close to her favourite beaches.  

There were three hurdles to overcome first: 

1.  He was still in full-time employment.  
2. Putting their existing house on the market and selling it. 
3. Sourcing a new home.

When I'd gone through Jay2’s Board, we looked together at images of a grandiose house and extensive landscaped gardens with high chiseled hedges as in a maze.  “I don’t know what that’s about”, she said “ we won’t be able to afford a place like that!”

8 months later I arrive on Jay2’s doorstep just as the sun is going down.  But with just enough light for her to walk me through extensive terraced gardens with tall chiselled hedges and secret hideaways little people would just love to explore, and every turn in the path revealing yet another bird table. All this situated on their own private hillside which cascaded down to a stream at its base, lined with beautiful trees we imagined filled with daffodils and bluebells in the springtime. 

HOW MANY OF THESE IMAGES DO YOU NOW SEE ON HER INTUITIVE VISION BOARD BELOW?

As darkness descended we retreated inside the stone-clad home - Yes, like the one on her Board. The wood-burning stove - just like the one in the photograph and came with the house, welcomed us into the lounge, creating a gorgeous hygge effect.

Jay2 could hardly contain her excitement as she talked about the plans for the new off-white kitchen – a sizeable undertaking that would begin in three days time and take three weeks to complete.  How did she know her new home would require a new off-white kitchen when she placed it on her board 8 months earlier?

We laughed as she showed me around the rest of the house and described how they were spoilt for choice when it came to toilets because this house had five!  No wonder the elephant is dancing upside down on one of those loos!

With the money from the home they’d sold in Beaconsfield, they’d been able to afford this grand property in Cornwall in the grounds of an international Golf Resort used by pros and providing Jay2 with a glamorous health club right on her doorstep.  Maybe that's why she placed three different swimmers enjoying the water on her board.

In the centre of her Vision Board is a charming photo of two penguins walking together.“ That’s me and my husband” she explained. “We hope to travel when he retires.” 

Within four months of making the Intuitive Vision Board her husband did indeed retire.  They put their house on the market immediately and shot down to the south west to take a week viewing properties in their chosen location.  The moment they stepped into their new home they fell in love with it.  It, on the other hand, had been waiting for them for two years -  empty.  On their return to Beaconsfield, their house sold quickly and they moved - all within 5 months of creating her vision board!

Postscript to the Penguins.  Jay2 and her husband did indeed start to travel, only one month after moving in.  They took off to Canada and saw mountainous scenery just like the backdrop behind the penguins.  Staying with their son on Vancouver Island, they visited wild and windy driftwood beaches which closely resembled those on her board.

Their son lives in a timber-framed property with 360 degree views of forest and has the odd black bear who likes to visit and rummage through their bins.  Most intriguingly of all, he had placed a line of coloured vases in a row on a high beam in their home to catch the light.  Oh, you mean like the colourful collection of vases on Jay2's board?  How intuitive is that!

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#visionboard #arttherapy #imagination #activeimagination #seeintofuture #desire #intentions #creativity #empowerment #mindset #goals #hope #dreambig #planning #gratitude #positivity #possibilities #presence

 

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A close shave with retail therapy

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A client of mine, Susan O, has admirably came to terms with her retail therapy habit by using Feng Shui and De-cluttering methods.  

I caught up with her recently and she told me how her resolve to stay solvent had been severely tested.  

See if you can relate to this.  Or maybe you know someone who is similarly prone to shopping rather than confront what is real causing the behavioural problem?

“In the space of one week I found myself buying a brand-new carpet and a new car.  One was on order and the other sitting in my parking lot while I sat inside the house painfully ruminating on both decisions.  I felt psychologically drained and tethered by the credit arrangements I’d just taken on."

“The car had come about because I’d gone in for a routine service and was persuaded to try a Fiat courtesy car.  Even as I drove the vehicle home, with all the papers signed, my daughter’s words rang in my ears: "we don’t need a new car, Mum.  We can manage with the one we’ve got!”

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“Fortunately, there was a loophole in Fiat's financial calculations.  I didn’t have the money to sustain the increased payments required, which would have left me with no disposable income. I used this as my get-out opportunity."  

“With the carpet I was even braver with no loophole to fall back on.  I was booked to have it fitted on a Saturday and on the Monday beforehand I called and cancelled the order.  The carpet man was confrontational but when I said I was very sorry and would he accept a cancellation fee, he backed down and even wavered the fee.  Now I'm clear of the danger zone, I can clearly see we can manage perfectly well with the existing carpet and avoid the upheaval the fitting of a new carpet brings."

“It was a close shave on both accounts and I felt I'd been tested.  It was evident to me that my psychological perspective had shifted.  I feel stronger and no longer a victim so I'm much less of a risk to myself and far less prone to putting myself under financial pressure again."

If you consider Feng Shui and Decluttering might help someone you know please put them in touch.  The advantages of this therapeutic approach is its immediacy;  the changes are made on the spot and often directly where the dysfunction occurs.  Please give me a call if there on 07827017188 if there is anything you'd like to explore or email mary@marynonde.com or use the sign up below.

The obvious advantage is you don't have to leave the safety of the counselling space to return home to implement the remedial actions on your own.  I am right there with you.  

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#fengshui #decluttering #sacredspace #livethechange #livingmindfully #soulathome #humanspirit #possibilities #mindfulness #sensoryplay #inspiring #inspired #memories #somuchlove #balance #joy #visualise #connection #dreamitdoit #manifest

 

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"I'm not interested in how people move but what moves them"

Pina Bausch, dancer and choreographer extraordinaire strikes a powerful chord.  Dance is not just about technical perfection which means only a minority should pursue it.  It's also about giving the soul a voice through movement.  And this practice is inclusive and as old as the hills.

I’m in the throes of learning West Coast Swing.  There’s a woman in my class who’s in her late 70s.  You’d never believe it to see her move, let alone the way she dresses.  She always has a big smile on her face when she dances, while her husband is at home watching the rugby.  I’ll wager a bet on which one of them lives the longest.

While I’ll always try my hand at any dance form, the method I believe offers the greatest potential for restoring your equilibrium on all levels has no prescribed form.  It’s organic.  It’s natural. And has nothing to do with following the prescribed moves of the teacher. 

The fastest route to stillness.  I currently call my practice Moving with Mindfulness. I used to call it Dancing for Joy.  But since we're all very familiar with the concept of mindfulness, it requires only a small stretch of the imagination to see how mindfulness applied to the whole moving body can have a marvelous effect.  It's also described as Somatic movement.

It’s the fastest route to stillness, returning you to the inner river-of-life and at a pace and a rhythm that is nurturing for you.  And believe me, anyone can discover this for themselves.  You don't have to be a dancer to arrive there.

With the impulse to move arising from within, who's to judge whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad; it is as it is.  You have total freedom to be spontaneous.  

With the subtleties of movement taking priority over getting steps right, this practice creates a bridge to deeper intelligence which is impossible to language through words alone.  Carl Jung called this engagement with the unconscious 'the active imagination'.  To explore this way is both liberating and delicious - like arriving home to your playful self after a long time away.

Moving with Mindfulness is an embodied practice that awakens your creative spirit and refreshes your relationship with your living, breathing body.  As you grow to recognise what it is you feel (through the sensations, intuitions, emotions and instincts that arise naturally), so  too your trust in your yourself to know what's right for you grows.  

When you over-ride these feelings because you don't understand their value or can't find a file to put them in can leave you disenchanted with life - and then wondering why.

If you'd like to find out more about what moves you please drop me a line: mary@marynonde.com or call 07827017188.

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#dancemovement #organicmovement #naturalmovement #somatic #imagination #sensoryplay #presence #embodiment #phenomenology #kinaesthetic #engagement #relationship #responsive #sensuous #standyourground #gettingcreative #confidence #connection

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Being comfortable in your own skin is worth more than the bigger house.

A personal epiphany that began 8 years ago ...

My relationship with Catherine began when she attended my weekly dance-movement class. What a great class it was too! Both men and women lapping up that liberating feeling that moving freely to music gives you.

Catherine arrived without expectations.

Since she’d never done any dance-movement improvisation or expressive art before, she anticipated Moving with Mindfulness would open her up to new experiences and she was ready to bring them on.  

After these classes she came along to make a Vision Board with me.  

Then she joined me for two Soul Alive Retreats in a row.  

More recently she returned to the studio for a Moving with Mindfulness workshop. 

“My creativity has snow-balled," she says.

And finally Catherine is now embracing Feng Shui & Decluttering as a valuable mainstay for living an authentic life.  As a person inclined to hold on than let go, she would never have believed she'd find herself getting into that at the outset!

I remember Catherine in her first class.  She had a big smile on her face throughout the movement section.  But when it came to capturing on paper what was alive and moving through her in that moment, she declared that she might skip this because she had trouble drawing anything beyond matchstick men.  I gently told her it was not about being artistic but giving her inner creativity a voice .... and so she continued to draw.

Reflecting back on this 8 years later, she recognises the limiting beliefs operating and had been in place since her childhood.  But working with expressive creativity over time has helped her to salve these wounds – not that this was visibly top of her agenda at the outset because she wasn’t aware she was holding those beliefs.

As the only child growing up in the early 50s, her mother worked in the home while her father was the breadwinner.  She remembers with fondness her mother encouraging her to cut out images from greetings cards and sticking them into scrapbooks. Colouring in was also very popular and she enjoyed that too. She cannot remember being encouraged to do any freestyle drawing.  “You simply weren’t allowed to unless you evidently had a talent for it.” How curious is it that artistic talent is expected to descend on us from the heavens without any cultivation while other subjects like Maths, say, don't carry this expectation. 

When it came to writing, the pressure for Catherine to get it right, "i-dotting and t-crossing" she recalls, removed any joy for her and burdened the task with perfection.  This was before the days of computers; writing was long-hand - and in pencil - and you were only allowed a rubber if you were lucky. In using a typewriter, any mistake required you to rip out the paper and start all over again.

Hardly surprising Catherine developed a creative block – a fear of committing pen to paper in case she got it wrong and was reprimanded.  Coupled with the fact that she was the youngest in her year group, resulted in her repeatedly finding herself near the bottom of the class which was tough on her self-esteem.

She remembers her mother as the grounding force in her life, consistently encouraging Catherine in all her extra-curricula developments including amateur dramatics and Scottish dancing.  Then suddenly age 10, her mother died.

Catherine’s first thought as she watched her mother being wheeled into an ambulance from an upstairs window was: “Oh no, there’s going to be lots of letter-writing now!” 

Catherine was left alone with her father and dog.  After 10 months of being shunted between relatives, Catherine arrived at a Royal Masonic boarding school at the other end of the country.  To her horror she’s learned that she would be required to write home every week.  From school she went to catering college and from there took a job as an au-pair girl in the South of France.  Returning to the UK for a holiday, she stayed with a friend in High Wycombe and has lived and worked there for 40 years since - and still thinks of herself as a Lancashire lass at heart!

"I am convinced that the creative journey enabled me to become fully myself for the first time ever."   What a profound realisation!  Catherine believes that by eradicating her fear of not needing to be perfect restored her confidence in herself. And with my encouragement, she came to realise it was more than ok to just do it – move, write, draw, make – and not have to worry for one moment about the end result because the transformational power was in the process itself.  

"It could be make-believe, abstract, representational – whatever.  My creative expression didn’t need to be anything in particular.  I came to trust that it was only and always about me being authentic with whatever I was feeling, sensing or imagining at the time.  This enabled me to become unstuck from my old story, which was most liberating.

Her journaling and freehand drawing has continued in spurts.  Over time Catherine has clearly observed themes emerging in her writing as she reflected on issues she was working through at the time.  

“Journaling slowed me down and allowed me to look over my own shoulder so I became much more self-aware.  In the beginning, the theme of 'time' was very evident in my creative work, particularly during the first retreat; what I was doing and how I was spending my days preoccupied me.  

I’ve now moved into a ‘sifting and sorting’ mode that comes out in my journalling too.  It also compels me to condense, clear and clarify all my belongings and this focuses my mind and body in the home.  It's highly creative and productive work yet demands a lot of my energy so I can only get stuck-in on my days off.”

With only 12 months to go before retirement, Catherine’s creativity is clearly preparing her for this major life transition and will guide her in deciding “what next?”  The sorting helps her prioritise what is truly important and how best to arrange her life for easy access to this – and to ditch the rest.  

“What began as an exercise in ordering my material things has turned out to be all about sorting me out - and it’s very satisfying.”  "I am now very clear what my life is about and what I truly enjoy.  As a young woman I needed to be accommodating in order to survive.  I've now released the need to do so and I only accommodate what is right for me." 

"I can see how the creative process opens doors to different people in different ways depending on where they are in their life.  For me it’s been all about my giving myself permission to be authentically me.”

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