At 33 I sought counselling for the first time, I discovered that up to that point I had been letting other people rule my life. I had been brow beaten from birth, I had a difficult childhood and was severely bullied at school, this continued right through college and into the workplace.
My default, survival strategy had been to absorb and collapse, making myself as small as possible in order to disappear and go unnoticed. I was a good boy, quiet, timid and shy. I had no voice. I lived my life in fear.
Consequently, by the time I reached adolescence, I had little confidence when it came to women and it felt impossible to speak to the girls I really liked. I had a lot of shame around my sexuality and I felt emasculated. It took me until the age of 30 before I had any meaningful relationship with a woman and then ended up being with more maternal types that liked me more than I did them.
Adopting a nodding dog style of communication, giving away my power to others, I also made poor career choices, not right for me. I was creative, and my tutors advised me to follow a textile design route when I really wanted to do graphic design. It took me 9 years to get back to where I wanted to be in the first place. By the time I had been made redundant from my second textile job in 1995 I had lost all faith in the system and decided that I would take responsibility for my own learning and development in the future.
My counsellor showed me an alternative way to live. I received my first tools in order to try and create change in my life and I began to realise the true power of personal development.
It was more difficult than I first thought however and the Universe needed to intervene to get me back on track. I had a car crash. I came across a farm boy going Mach 3 with his hair on fire in the back lanes of Liskeard and there was nothing I could do but watch him hurtle at 60 mph right towards me. Fortunately I had the foresight to let the handbrake off so my car was able to absorb some of the impact, but it was a write off and I had the effects of whiplash for 2 years afterward.
This was enough to make me think about how I was living my life and whether it was truly rewarding enough for me. I still felt as if I was being bullied, in a way, because I wasn’t being paid well, even within my graphic design career. But then, I didn’t really know my true worth or where I was heading then so how could I expect anyone else to know that either?
In a dark night of the soul moment I reached out to my network and a marketing lady I knew asked me if I was aware of the work of Neil Crofts. He was a life coach, who had written a book called ‘Authentic - How To Make A Living By Being Yourself’. His was the first book I had ever read that spoke to me as if I had written it myself. He used nature based teachings in his work and I took a Medicine Walk with him one day out in nature and discovered with him that I was to become a spiritual guide.
I followed him to Majorca to attend a transformation course he was running out there but even before the course had started I encountered a beautiful butterfly in the garden, the like of which I had not seen since my early childhood, a swallowtail. It was a truly magical moment as I glimpsed a reflection of my own identity for the first time and I was filled with a spiritual energy like I had never encountered before, an explosion of heat was released from my lower spine right up over my head as if I was being touched by god. I was experiencing a kundalini (spiritual) awakening. This prompted me to become a life coach too.
As a result, I started to care more about nature and the planet. I joined environmental organisations like the Transition Town Network where I was able to sit in circles and begin to speak my truth. In time I headed up my own initiative and started more formal public speaking. I started to take on a number of coaching clients too and I helped people feel less anxious about their life, increased their confidence, gave them permission to be themselves and helped them establish their own life purpose, my own confidence soared as a result too.
Personally though, I was still struggling to share my heart with those with whom I liked the most. A seven year journey of unrequited love ended in disaster and I rather naively made mistakes with other women too. I had an affair with a coach of mine and a relationship with an ex-client too. Neither ended well even though I never wished either of them anything but love. I realised I had to work on my boundaries!
At this point I began to question my own ability to be a life coach and I withdrew from the profession. I felt as though a rug was being pulled from beneath me and I was devastated.
I chose to take time out to properly heal. I went to work in a finance department and even followed my passion for sailing for a while.
Finally, I saved enough money to complete three years of training to become a Shamanic Practitioner with Northern Drum and a one year training to become an Accredited Flower Essence Practitioner with The Chalice Well too.
It feels like I have been blessed, I am thankful for it all, even the bullying! I continue to learn about our true allies of nature; the flora and fauna around us. I have found my masculinity, my true self and my medicine name, ‘Swallowtail.’
Best of all, I am now ready to help others to overcome similar issues to that I have encountered myself and I have launched my own flower essence and shamanic practice, Allies Of Nature, which incorporates a range of flower essences too.
I work with my clients, online and in nature, to help them move from a place of fear and isolation to one of love and connection, to awaken to a life beyond bullying to claim their true power. I use nature as an ally by connecting with the spirits of both flowers and animals in order to help my clients live their lives more in harmony with the rest of the planet.
We engage in transformational talks and shamanic practices together which take place in all kinds of natural locations: on a hill-top, by a river, at the beach or in a forest. Our natural surroundings help us to go deep and discover the way to heal.
The flower essences are here to help support us throughout that process the whole year through, they bring with them individual restorative qualities and unique messages month by month in order to help everyone come back into a state of wholeness and balance and become the best they can be through improved emotional wellbeing.
When we commit to the shamanic path we become more aware of the allies of nature that come to support us from the animal and plant kingdoms. Our power animals gift us with unique qualities, so it becomes perfectly natural to help them if we can too. That's why in 2013 after engaging in both a Shamanic Doorway with Northern Drum as well as The Journey program with Embercombe, in the same week, I started to adopt animals through the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). A lot of my animal messengers are cats, so, I started to sponsor a tiger for myself, a snow leopard for my niece as well as an elephant for the planet. I could not bear the thought of these signature animals disappearing on my watch before my niece got to my age, so anything I could do to help would ease some of my conscience.
Once more as I began to progress through my three year shamanic training it soon became necessary to find a bird spirit ally to assist me with my feather healing. In consulting with my spirit guides, a condor was selected. I thought 'golly, where am I going to get a condor feather from without going to Peru?'. In investigation however I found there were a couple of captive birds in the UK, most notably at the Welsh Mountain Zoo.
I was incredibly lucky when inquiring into the possibility of getting some feathers that might have molted from the birds in question, there were in fact some available, but in no way shape or form should any money pass between us for their acquisition due to CITES regulations that protect endangered species like the condor. I have felt immensely blessed by having the feathers presence in my life and I believe my clients have been equally thankful for their gifts too.
It was always a thought of mine to go and visit the bird at some point to say thank you for its generosity in giving me its feathers. In a recent trip to Wales I was able to do just that. To my delight, when investigating the possibility of meeting Tupac, the male bird that gave me the feathers, I realised it was possible to adopt him also and so I now pay for a portion of his food throughout the year. This seems like a rather just way of honouring the bird for the medicine it gives me to be able to help others heal. It was a pleasure to meet him face to face. This is what it takes, I believe, to be a true ally of nature.