My 30’s were dominated by a barrage of bereavement, a double digit of death over six years. My brother Chris died of AIDS related illnesses on my 34th birthday, in 1991. My Dad and friend Jo were in their sixties. All the others were in their mid-20’s to mid-40’s. The causes of death were varied. It was a strong teaching on the uncertainty of death.
In the spring of 2000 I trained with Cruse as a bereavement counsellor. And that autumn I joined the Western Buddhist Order, a deepening commitment to following a buddhist way of life. (I was given the name Siddhisambhava, which is why some of my testimonials refer to me as that.)
I began to learn to meditate in 1987, when I was 30 and stressed out from working in politics and publishing. Buddhist teachings in general, and its remarkable teachings on death in particular, helped me enormously. My training with Cruse, combined with my years of personal reflection on death, helped me to clarify the issues and forge creative ways of approaching them.
In 2002 I began to offer workshops and retreats, mostly in a buddhist context. Although death awareness is a central part of buddhist practice in the east, it struck me that it’s often left out of buddhist prasctice in the west. We just don’t want to ‘go there’ here!
I’ve done enough of this work to be convinced of its value, and not just to practising buddhists, a broad range of people have always attended my events. Now I’m keen to offer it to a bigger audience and a variety of contexts. I’m confident there’s a need and an increasing openess to this unavoidable yet tricky topic.
Curiously, my way into ‘energy medicine’ was through the death of my neighbour and friend, Anthony. That’s how I met local kinesiolgist Sally Alexander, who I subsequently went to see myself and then trained with. I was ‘blessed’ with suffering throughout my kinesiology training, on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. So I got my money’s worth and tested its range of application!
At the time of writing this, 2013, I’m 55 and – I’m happy to report – a post-menopausal woman. Some kind of shift has happened. A major strand of stepping into the second half of my life is a reclamation of personal authority. I’m still involved with my buddhist community. I’ve also explored and benefited from teachings and practices in other traditions, notably Taoist teachings and practices in the shamanic tradition or with an indigineous lineage. This website outlines what I now offer. Feels good to me. May it be of benefit to those who chose to come and join me on one of my events.
here are a few reasons why I do what I do
I love learning. And I love sharing effective tools for growthful change with others.
I want to see a kinder vision of death and dying in our country. Rather than children being ‘protected’ from death, let them be introduced, while young, to the true nature of death and what they can learn from it. I’d like to see knowledge about death, and how to help the dying, be shared and taught, in depth and with imagination, in schools, colleges, and throughout society, and especially available to those who look after the dying.
It’s my belief – and hope – that our health-care system is changing and that there will be a return to the forces of nature and personal authority in health-care. Energy medicine is empowering. It puts healing into good hands – your own. It’s safe, simple and effective. It doesn’t take long to learn tools and techniques to unlock your body’s natural healing power. Join the energy revolution for optimal health and potential in all areas of your life. And pass it on to your family and friends. That’s my dream.
Travelling through my menopause was quite a trip. I talked about it with my friends a lot, because that’s the way I am – I’m interested! And most of us, including men, were struck by how little we understand this stage of our life. The second half of life workshops are an attempt to address that and share a soulful approach to these precious years.
Meditation saved my life and continues to enrich it. Meditation has been a part of every society right up to this crazy paced time we live in now. Just about everyone can do it and learn to do it. It’s normal! What I offer is a small yet heartfelt contribution to creating a meditative culture here and now.
‘professional’ bio – the CV bit
First job was tearing up cardboard boxes after deliveries to the sweetie shop I grew up in that dear old Dad managed. Graduated to counting the (pre-decimal) pennies when he cashed up. Things were looking good… First girl in my family to go university. Graduated again 1979, this time with a BA Hons in International Relations from Sussex – the same month Thatcher elected, so things not looking so good…
Bravely embarked on working for ten years in politics. Includes…member of the Spare Rib collective, a monthly women’s liberation magazine. Management team of the Women’s Unit at the GLC in Ken Livingstone’s first reign. Lesbian & Gay Policy Advisor at the ALA (the London Labour boroughs). Founding co-editor of The Pink Paper. Non-staff: Greater London CAB management committee, Board member of Stonewall.
1989 packed all that in. Trained in massage. Painting & decorating a back-up – on and off for years. Went travelling India & Sri Lanka. Left London 1992, moved to Norfolk. Excelled at pottering about on an allotment whilst grieving. Marketing manager, Project manager, then managing editor for Windhorse Publications (buddhist books). Co- managed Norwich Buddhist Centre. Left Norwich 2001. Year in Australia and NZ, followed by an itinerant phase…
Moved to north Wales 2004. Creative writing tutor adult education. More painting & decorating to support retreat leading. Trained as Fundraiser for european collective of fifty buddhist centres. Trained with School of Creative Kinesiology, qualified 2012. Voila.
bit more life
I live by the sea and the mountains on the edge of Snowdonia National Park in north Wales. I go walking which – rather than notching up the miles – is often more akin to just ‘hanging out’ on this precious land, looking and listening. I love birds – you may have noticed that! My friends are jewels in my life and always have been. I also savour solitude. I read a lot, mostly non-fiction, and poetry. (Some of my blogs are book reviews.) Music – of all kinds – is important to me, and so is silence. I garden. I relish long soaks in the bath and devote time every day to non-doing, to simply being. In 2013 I began sea-rowing in celtic longboats with the lovely mad gang of rowers at Porthmadog Yacht Club. One of my favourite role models/hero/teacher is Ryokan, the Japanese Zen poet monk whose chosen nickname was the Great Fool.
Let’s connect! Sign up for my free occassional newsletter (top left of this page). You’ll get updates about my events plus all-sorts on the four areas of my work – death, energy medicine, meditation, and the second half of life. Invite me to your group/area. Contact me with any questions you may have or to book onto one of my events.
My website was built by my friend Jonathan Shaw, who aspires to be a Buddhist hermit but doubles as a nifty website architect, marketing strategist and all-round business adviser. Check him out – he likes to help.
My portraits were taken by Natasha Lythgoe, artist and teacher of photography.
“I have come to realise that the disastrous effects of the denial of death go far beyond the individual. They affect the whole planet.”