Short version: was born, brought up, left home, made homes, had two children. Grew food, made bread, cooked proper meals. Had many jobs, two careers as teacher and psychotherapist. Now I’m an elder: half feral, own less possessions and no home (though I do appreciate the physical comforts of my borrowed four walls) and enjoying doing what I am drawn to do, rather than need to do. And enjoying less doing and more being. Though given our current situation, I also want to be as useful as I can before I ‘go’. I want to make the most of the life that’s left to me and want the life that’s left to make the most of me. I have recently brought my work under the new name of the Nemetona Programme, which you can read about here.
Long version: I spent most of my solitary early childhood climbing trees, getting lost in woods, playing in water… seeking outdoor adventures whenever possible. Forced indoors, I found adventures in reading whatever I could lay my hands on, and in writing my own stories. Anything to avoid the difficulties of home and school life.
From 11 to 18 life became even more difficult: a traditional grammar school where bullying teachers delivered unfathomable lessons; a mother with increasing mental health problems and a father, loving, but hopelessly out of his depth. I was without siblings or extended family, not allowed friends, pushed towards unachievable academic goals, all in parallel with the usual angst of puberty.
At 19 I ran away from higher education, from ‘home’, and from myself. I married young and spent the 70’s having a son and a daughter and doing a variety of jobs such as barmaiding, waitressing, routine clerical work, launderette cleaning and – glamour! – being an Avon Lady. All simultaneous with being a mum, housewife, chief cook and bottle-washer and generally doing what was expected of a good wife and mother. Until, that is, I listened to the words of The Ballad of Lucy Jordan and decided I too wanted to ride through Paris, in a sports car, with the warm wind in my hair.
Thus began the journey back to myself. Initially via the academic route by re-taking previously failed A levels, becoming a full-time ‘mature’ (not sure that I was) student of English Language and Literature – and French, so I got to Paris, even if not in a sports car. I subsequently took a PGCE in English and Drama and went into teaching: one way to resolve past issues with worse-than-inadequate teachers. I haven’t stopped educating myself – in the academic and also much broader sense – since.
In 1983 I divorced, engaged in my own therapy, and spent ten years teaching, until I left to train to become a counsellor and psychotherapist myself. Since then, I have worked in a variety of organisational and personal development settings as psychotherapist, facilitator, trainer, counsellor, mentor, life coach… There are many different titles for what is, fundamentally, the same process: facilitating the development of others to get from where they are to where they want to be. Read about the facilitation skills I offer here.
On my fiftieth birthday I had a powerful synergetic experience whilst walking a labyrinth. It was a moment of epiphany, one of Maslow’s “peak experiences” – and I continue to have similar experiences, particularly when outdoors.
Partly because of those experiences and partly because of my lifelong love for the natural world, where most of them occur, I have for the last ten years or so involved myself in conservation and environmental issues. I also became involved in what might be termed the ‘spiritual’ aspects of connection with landscape and nature, training in core shamanic practice with Caitlin Matthews and Simon Buxton; with teachers from Michael Harner’s Foundation for Shamanic Studies; and with lone medicine teachers in Scotland, Ireland, Uganda, and Nicaragua. The modern day concept of a ‘core’ shamanic practice has evolved from anthropological research into native Medicine traditions, as well as clinical research into both physiological and psychological benefits of contact with nature on the healing process.
My own research has taken me on both inner and outer journeys into the ancient Medicine practices of the landmass called Britain. More about this here. I continue to study natural history, green medicine, and ecotherapy via more formal channels too.
I honoured and consolidated my lifelong writing practice by taking an MA in Creative Writing in 2016. More about my writing projects here.
Now, I freely offer my skills – of whatever type – to anyone who thinks they might be helpful… do make contact if you think that may be you.