My journey so far…
Contributing to my supporting people like you
now & always
I start with indescribable gratitude to my parents, my family, partners, friends, and to all, near and far, who have contributed to my life and experiences. Without you I wouldn’t be who and where I am today.
Born ‘on a cliff’ in southern UK, facing the sea, to loving parents, into a veterinary household and lifestyle, full of pets and other animals (my two dear, crazy, loving siblings!)
Always proud of my Dad, with his stories of Antarctica in 1960s, and with such dedication to his work and service that, at the end of a night call to a farm, he would sometimes fall asleep in the hay. Always in awe of my Mum, at the hub of everything wholesome and uplifting. I hope they both know.
70's & 80's
Sitting on rocks and boats and staring out to sea since my very first felt-memories, in awe of beauty and wondering “What’s this place all about?”
Earliest recollections were infused with adventures on Thorne Island, and its whole mythology since my grandmother, aged 20, bought it for £90 in 1930s “for adventurers and lovers of the sea”. Without this Welsh ‘rock’ my grandparents would never have met.
Educated in the south of England, via the ups and downs of boarding school life. Active imagination and hungry curiosity could be channeled into schoolwork, or keep me awake as a ‘nocturnal tyrant’ – to myself and family. Perspective would become the lesson. Sport and art were always the outlet.
School, then University of Nottingam, seeded lifelong friendships. Studying languages would allow me to travel, communicate and discover different cultures and far flung corners, of our fascinating world. A taste for future journeys, inward and out…
Nothing for granted
Always the enthrallment of the sea, and all things related. So many holidays messing about in boats. And…respect the elements, always.
One major sailing experience, at 17, from Spain to UK, facing the mountainous waves of the Bay of Biscay, reinforced in me an ever-deepening awe of Nature and daily appreciation for life.
Finding my way
Other explorations included selling wine in Paris and Normandy, and teaching English in Barcelona. With hospitality experience for good measure, a couple of favourites being a ski season in the French Alps and at the Ryder Cup in Spain (with Seve Ballasteros as captain).
Becoming a Druid
Missing friends and hearing the fuss about corporate working, the new millennium, and city living, I wanted to move to south-west London while working elsewhere without the city commute.
A small consultancy near London, named Druid, provided project work within multi-national organisations away from London in UK, Ireland and France. I listened to the complexity of intra-department, multi-functional business processes – where human and technical meet manufacturing – then designed, coded and trained workflow solutions.
But I was 80% in front of a screen and 20% with people; and realised I wanted to flip this ratio.
‘Normality’ for someone of my background: loving relationship, first home and career possibilities. It was ‘work hard, play hard’, including co-organising a local league football team and a handful of annual ski tours, which grew from 12 people to 60 in the space of 4 years. Falling in love with mountains almost as much as the sea.
Fun times, good times!
9/11 had other ideas, inciting profound and frightening rage (Why is humanity so ‘****ed up?!’) and even more scary questions (What are YOU going to do about it?)
These lit a fire of enquiry that I’ve been exploring ever since. What’s my purpose here? What’s the point anyway? What do I know? What’s my role in all ‘this’?
Persistent self-questioning, new choices and their consequences, would lead to a radical life-redirecting 3 months in 2003: end of long-term relationship, no more shared home or future, decision to leave job.
Intense, depressing, scary, life-changing times. Ultimately transformational…but definitely didn’t feel so while still deep in it!
Travel as healing
Travel (the ‘easy’ kind) was the outlet and ointment. Diving in Fiji, sky-diving in New Zealand, sailing and more diving in Australia while following the Rugby World Cup. Very fortunate and privileged. Amazing places, wonderful people, great memories.
Yet while also covering up the deeper emotions and lingering questions.
A 2-week visit to South Africa became a 6-month love affair with a beautiful country and people, that would open doors in my heart and mind, as well as to other parts of this mighty continent.
Two friends had recently set up a boutique travel business and needed extra hands. My eyes were opened to exciting possibilities, challenges and lifestyle options that accompany entrepreneurship and self employment.
I am very proud of Ingram & Tom for what they started, and what their African vision & service has evolved into today.
Returned from South Africa with 3 pledges: to love my daily work; to have autonomy to choose my own life path; to live a legacy (not just leave one) of positive impact and influence. Sounded great at the time…but no idea what that meant or looked like in reality!
I slipped back into what I ‘knew’ – business consulting, this time in Munich. Again working hard and playing hard. Yet internally empty and confused…and ultimately depressed. Hindsight would teach me this was less the unresolved emotions, and more the breaking of my promises to myself…
Breakdown led to breakthrough. I quit. I started again. Assisted by therapy (to make sense of the past) and coaching (to face forward into the future). Not to mention never-ending support and encouragement of family, friends and inspirational tutors, mentors and role models. Slowly, surely, life felt possible again!
Started re-investing in self development through coaching, NLP training, business training and networking. Introduction by Daniel Priestley into an international network of social entrepreneurs was of particular significance. Inspiring, incredible individuals across the globe and more lifelong friends to this day.
My search was always for alignment between personal fulfillment, authentic self expression and social business impact.
My simplest-yet-hardest ongoing reminder is that only I can have my own answers. As my first mentor said: “Nothing I tell you is the truth; and I never lie”. In other words, find out for yourself! (Thanks always, Geoff Cullum).
During this re-invention period, I would still find ways to throw myself into other travels and adventures: kayaking along the Orange River in Namibia, touring with the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand, trekking chimpanzees and mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda, road trip through the mighty Drakensberg in South Africa. Time and again, Nature blows me away.
Truly blessed for these epic experiences!
Loving my work; less so running a business while living in expensive London (and spending a fair amount on travel, you may have noticed!)
Time for changeand refinement: first some quiet time abroad for reflection, learning meditation, followed by a decision to partner with ‘inspiring people, projects and programmes to whom I can offer value’.
A ‘sliding doors’ moment led to a serendipitous meeting with Simon Edwards, the co-founder of Mowgli Mentoring. I joined as a mentor in Jordan, was matched with Lina Khalifeh, the incredible young founder of SheFighter, and subsequently invited to return as a facilitator of mentoring programmes in the Middle East and Africa. Such key moments from seemingly tiny decisions.
Mentors & veterans
Further facilitation opportunities in both corporate and charitable sectors – in particular with UK charity Help For Heroes (since 2013), delivering Pathfinder transition programmes, coaching skills and mentor development.
The experiences of soldiers and veterans are intense and extreme. Working with them allows no space for bluster or bullsh*t! All while staying compassionate, fair and firm with them, their situation, their choices. If ever there was live training in staying grounded and present, inside and out, this is it!
Also another example of cross-team collaboration that I so value for my work and in the world: inspiring, dedicated, humble, humorous, straight-up people caring for each other and the needs of those who need a hand up (not a hand out).
to this day
Such fruitful partnerships continue to this day. With Mowgli Mentoring, I have been honoured to collaborate across a range of sectors (for entrepreneurs, women leaders, nature leaders…) and diverse environments (in Jordan, Syria, Algeria, Morocco, Palestine, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa…) mostly in English, sometimes in French with occasional and hilarious ‘faux pas’ of linguistic mishap or misunderstanding!
I continually learn diversity is appreciating both uniqueness and what’s in common, and inclusion is creating sacred (brave, safe) spaces and places for that diversity to feel welcomed, acknowledged and expressed.
the only constant'
Left London, for good…for something ‘different’. I knew not what. New call to adventure: Research Vessel Heraclitus, ‘a floating platform for arts, science, ecology and adventure’. Hand-built in 1975 by the Institute of Ecotechnics, this ferro-cement Chinese-junk ship sails the world’s oceans conducting conservation research and action missions to protect ecosystem biodiversity in our oceans.
Bonkers and brilliant experience! Learned more about whole systems, living in close proximity and processing emotions, while folding into small spaces, than anywhere previous! Again, Nature and the sea provided the outlet for decompression and expansion.
Surviving summer storms, and cooking for 15 crew, at an angle in a squall with the galley window under water, certainly stick in the memory!
the white rabbit
2012 - ?
Multiple travels for broadening experience, expanding awareness, enquiring into diverse cultural contexts and indigenous wisdom during these times of huge shifts in consciousness. Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, Egypt, India, Zimbabwe…to name a few. Travelled with shamans, sat with sangomas, while also learning from fellow travellers, the person next to me on the bus, the shopkeeper or café owner… underpinned by healthy relationship to Mother Nature and timeless wisdom that is so needed in our world, here and now.
Whether meeting a farmer in Zimbabwe sharing his heart-felt hope and vision for his barren piece of land, or mountain treks with Peruvian shamans, or spending a night in the Great Pyramid at Giza, these lived experiences humble and inspire that we have SUCH capacity to co-create a shared world that is truly different and extra-ordinary.
Many experiences were alongside dear friend of many lifetimes, mentor and fellow explorer of consciousness, Dr Helen Kogan. Thank you always.
Leaders for nature
An invitation to join the delivery team for the MAVA Foundation Leaders for Nature Academy, via collaborative partnership between Mowgli Mentoring and Common Purpose. An honour, a revelation, as these dedicated individuals raise optimism and hope for ‘better’ as they open up to even wider possibilities and innovative solutions in their leadership and work.
The common pledge is to commit courageously to inclusive leadership that goes beyond scientific research to place inclusion and community development at the heart of a healthy planet. All stakeholders have a voice: the Natural World, education, local community, global governance, financial policy…together.
Impact has inspired investment into additional cohorts, plus spin-off programmes (also in French) for other partners.
This story continues…
Walking the walk
Hunger and delight for travel turning ever closer to ‘home’ and what that means to me. A distinct pull to rediscover and reconnect with my roots and origins, to honour the land and ancestry that gave/give me life.
Walking solo ‘Coast To Coast‘ across the north of England has been one standout. Another was wild trekking and camping in the all-weather wonder-land of the West Highlands of Scotland, for two weeks between 2020 lockdowns.
Both experiences took me deeper into the core of myself, intentionally, intensely, and with liberating effect.
Devastated at the sudden passing of dear soul brother and true ‘Renaissance Man’, Martin Armitage-Smith; subsequently invited by his co-founders at Unifying Fields Foundation to join their Advisory Board and continue their and Martin’s quest to “unify diverse fields of science to develop integral solutions for the numerous complex challenges facing our society in the next 30 years”. What a profound honour!
The journey continues…