Who am I personally?

As an individual, I possess a curious and philosophical mindset. I am an Earth child who loves nature, animals, reading, experimenting and exploring. I often find myself asking odd and random questions. My unconventional approach to life has led to many journeys that have ended in adventure, and I can share many exotic stories about the surprising outcomes that have arisen.

In my early twenties, I took a course called Rei-flexology that had a profound impact on my innocent mind. This course opened my eyes to new possibilities of health, mind, and body beyond what I knew at the time. During the course, I met a fellow attendee who worked at a place that could recreate the taste of things without using actual ingredients. For example, they could make something taste like a strawberry without using any strawberries. The concept was mind-blowing!

Wiggle who?

One day, I was standing in the kitchen, the sun outside was shining brightly and the blue sky radiated calm. I was in deep conversation. You know the type where you are making right all the wrongs in the world. I turn around to get the milk, and there before me, Lilly (my German Shepherd). Sitting, looking at me, her head slightly slanted sideways and back, her eyebrows lifted, and her jaw serious. I burst into laughter, and said “Lilly, I’m not crazy, I promise, I was talking with wiggle-bum”. She turned and left the room.

Wiggle-bum is the wasp that comes late each spring. As the name suggests, he wiggles. In fact, he followed me around wiggling and that is how we became friends – one of the wiggles said give me honey – and then he had me trained. He normally stays till autumn. He inspired a research project that I’ll be doing called the wiggle-bum theory of joy.

Me, the mentor and Coach

I have always been a listener, a mentor and curious about behaviour. My interest sparked when I had to see psychologists to assess the damage to my brain after a brain injury at the age of 18. I was fascinated by the way they explained how the brain works. I remember one particular conversation with a psychologist who was assessing my memory. I had lost all my memories prior to the injury. My mum and I were sitting in his office when he asked me: 'What do you not remember? To which I promptly replied, 'Well, if I knew what I'd forgotten, I would not have forgotten it, would I? That made us all laugh."

When I was in my 30s and doing my Masters in Applied Psychology, I was tasked with documenting the stages of my childhood and linking them to the theories of the phases and stages of life development. However, I found this task challenging as I did not know where to begin. How could I start a story with memories I did not even have? Eventually, I decided to document my developmental stages following my brain injury and my development there after. This exercise taught me a lot about myself and about the importance of memories and experiences in shaping our identity. Before this, I had no clear concept of who I was and felt that I was just like everyone else. At the time, I was working as a software developer and analyst.

I love walking in nature with my dogs and just experiencing, trying new trails, and getting lost and found. I always talk with animals no matter where I am or what kind they are. I feed the animals in my garden and once watched a grey lourie eat a grape. It was such a fascinating experience - I watched the grape go down the neck. From observing birds, I now feed them marrow bones, and even Tits and Robins love them, much to the dog's dismay.

One morning I woke to a strange sound - "bash, bash, bash". A sudden curiosity leered me out of bed to investigate where the sound was coming from. I walked into the lounge, in time to hear another "bash, bash". I saw two birds playing fly bash into the window from my hanging plant. I couldn't help but burst into laughter, then checked the time and realized it was breakfast time. I collected the seeds and fruit and went outside, the birds following me, pleased as pie that finally it was breakfast time. After this event, they became more savvy and found that the hanging plant outside my bedroom window was far more effective. Cheeky buggers!

"When you stop learning, you stop growing"
Kenneth H. Blanchard

It was the next major event in my life that threw me completely off balance. It caused me to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I went through many experiences, some of them beyond my control. It was a tough time. I totally understand the sheer effort it takes to pull through from trauma and mental illness. I am also proof that it is possible to turn your life around.

Now I can laugh about the crazy situations I have experienced. For example, during a panic attack, I got out of the car to open the gate and forgot to put the handbrake on. When I turned round, I saw my car hurtling down the hill. It was no fun chasing a runaway car with legs like jelly and in a state of turmoil. Picturing it all now makes me giggle. Overcoming trauma is a challenge, but with Post Traumatic Growth you can often experience the lighter side of those experiences and this helps you to create a healthy space for those emotions.

During a session with my trauma psychologist, he suggested that if I ever gave an inspirational talk, I should base it on a quote from Winston Churchill: “If you are going through hell, keep going”. He said, “You have achieved so much through adversity and have been so brave, the whole time, you just kept walking all the time”. That's where I got the name "Don't Stop Keep Going".

Through my life and academic studies, I have developed a deep understanding of the human mind and spirit, what I call “Your Human Journey”.

Mad the duck

As part of my recovery and personal journey, I have met a duck on my dog walks along the canal. Her name is Mad, and she rightfully lives up to it. She has helped me to express myself more openly and confidently. My home office looks out onto the garden. One early spring, I was sitting at my computer, working quietly. Suddenly, I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye. Turning my head, I saw Mad Duck standing at my back patio door, swaying from side to side to get my attention. She was hungry. How she found out where I lived, I have no idea. In a fit of laughter, I went outside with a bowl of water and sprinkled some food for her and Little Head (her mate). They have been coming to me every spring since then, swaying and quacking away at my back door.

In addition to my usual activities of meeting and greeting them on the canal when I walk my dogs. On some occasions, up to 20 ducks follow me and my dogs up and down the canal. Ducks are not quiet, so there is often a chorus of quacks, squeaks and swoops as they fly to catch up with us. Lilly, my German shepherd, loves this. She dances back and forth along the banks. She follows their swoops as they glide up and skid in the water. Whenever I stop to look at them, the ducks give me duck language for food. I ask them: "Oh no, are you hungry? Do you want something to eat?" They wiggle their bums excitedly and come closer to me as I scatter some food on the water. They can do this up to 6 times during a walk, you can be sure that you are not hungry.

I was once advised to just be myself. That seemed like a very simple idea. But it was quite a challenge. It took me a long time to really understand what it means to be myself, the real me, because I had spent my life trying to be someone else. But now I am grateful for those wise words that encouraged me to embrace the real me and that has made all the difference in my life.

The curious searching mind

During one of my walks with the dog, I had a strange and random epiphany that struck me like a lightning bolt. It was: "Plants have senses." At first I dismissed the idea as ridiculous, as I had never seen a plant with ears, a mouth or a nose. But my curiosity soon got the better of me and I decided to investigate. During my research, I found out that plants do indeed have senses. As I delved deeper into the subject, I learnt many amazing details about our senses and their functions. Even more fascinating, however, were the people I met while making this discovery (without being pigeonholed). I also learnt that humans have more than just the traditionally known five senses. Researchers have identified up to 23, although this field of research is still very young. I have my own theory, of course :D

Where I am now

After completing formal training, I continued my education and took courses in humanistic approaches, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Person-centred (Carl Jung), Psychotherapy, ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), Addiction, Stress and Post-traumatic Stress. But I yearned for more. I wanted to expand my understanding of the metaphysical and energetic realms. I read "The Embodied Mind", "Infinite Mind" and "The Living Energy Universe", just to name a few. All the possibilities I had learnt about in my 20s came back to me, it was like mystical magic, yet very possible.

I heard Joan Parisi Wilcox speak on The Universe Within podcast. Joan has spent over 27 years studying the sacred arts of the Andean mystical tradition in Peru and receiving the rites of the Q’ero and other Andean masters. What Joan talked about in the podcast resonated with me, so I completed the Andean mystical arts with her. I enjoyed it very much. I learnt how to live on the fourth level of consciousness, to be in Ayni and to understand our Inka Seeds. I gained a lot of personal growth and wisdom from Joan's teachings. I appreciated the simplistic and down-to-earth way Joan taught the complex details of Andean energy. I also appreciated the teaching style of Caroline Myss with her honest and straightforward approach in her workshops. Caroline is a medically intuitive teacher of energy anatomy.

My ever-curious mind is now immersed in permaculture and learning the patterns of nature. As hard as it is for me to observe behaviours, as I'm sure you know (wink, wink), I thoroughly enjoy the experience. It's a lot of what I've always done. So it's exciting to combine my self-observations with knowledge to gain a greater understanding, and of course, a field of new stories to enthusiastically share. This will add to my repertoire of knowledge and skills for mental health and personal development. The current interactive workshop I am working on is "Get Lost! mental health problems" - very exciting.

It's these life lessons: to keep learning, keep going, keep growing and keep trying – no matter what – and never give up; and the tips and tricks I have learnt that have made it easier for me; that I want to pass on to other people when it's most important that they ‘Don’t Stop keep going’.

My story