He looked across the desk at me intently, brown eyes sparkling, in a playful challenge.
"What makes your heart sing?"
He leaned a little closer, elbow on the desk, his jaw resting on his palm, relaxed. Anticipating.
"What makes your spirit soar?"
There was a pause.
A sense of space opened up between us.
Like the space that hangs silent over a lake.
Full of enormous potential. A space waiting to be filled. A life waiting to be fulfilled.
I sat, dumbstruck.
I gratefully realised out loud,
"No one has ever asked me this before."
- - -
It was my final interview at the Army Officer Regular Commissions Board in Wiltshire.
This was the final hurdle in a series of challenges to see if I had 'what it takes' to be offered a commission as an army officer.
Over the previous couple of days I'd:
As he looked at me, his eyes meeting mine, the moment froze.
Somehow everything I knew and had experienced passed through my mind in that instant.
Just Being there was an extreme strange twist of fate. I'd never even thought of being in the army until a month before. A background of economics and politics at Uni, environmental economics, accidentally falling into PR, then marketing. All so-so and winding up in an immune crash as my soul tried to point me away from this non-calling.
The army seemed oddly fun from my small dabble with it. It was the people. Everyone I met there in the recruiting challenge was incredible. An inspiration to my uninspired, bored corporate mind.
At 26 years old I was astonished as I realised this potential employer was the first to care about my dreams, my aspirations, my who-I-am. In fact, he asked the only question that mattered.
And one I had never asked myself.
In that moment I realised that what I sought in life wasn't success.
(Well, not on its own).
There was something else, something currently intangible, shining ahead of me, leading me on like the strongest guiding star.
Its voice was in my heart.
In my spirit.
It was something BIG.
I couldn't yet speak the language, but I knew it could teach me what I yearned for.
Adventure. Excitement. Joy.
I can barely remember what I answered. Something about travel, probably, and wanting to work with people. I don't think it really matters.
What does matter is what I learned in that moment, and have treasured ever since:
that THAT question is EVERYTHING.
So here's what I'd love YOU to do.
Right now, take a moment to breathe...
and then just ask yourself the gorgeous, life-changing questions
"What makes my heart sing?" and
"What makes my spirit soar?"
Just cradling these questions in your mind and heart starts to awaken a slumbering heart and spirit.
And your heart, and spirit and spirits (more on them another time!), hold the keys to what you were put on earth to do.
You may not know the answers yet, but they will start to form in you. Like some magical cloud drifting across your subconscious until your consciousness can start to see it clearly. Signs from the Universe, Spirit, God, Spirits (whatever words work for you) will appear if you start to play.
And this is the first key - just play with these thoughts.
Repeat the question to yourself. As you're in the shower, driving to work, washing up, sorting out the children's clothes, sitting in a lecture, walking the dog, flicking through channels.
Mentally doodle the answers. Grab a journal and start writing a stream of consciousness. Talk it over with a good friend and treat them to the same questions.
You don't need clarity. That will come (and I have many ways to share how).
Stir the inner longings of your heart.
Wake it gently, and trust it to remember its dreams.
I'm noticing lots of articles, some saying 'Yay, great! Let's DO stuff. You know the sort - 'Learn Tibetan' / 'become a master player of musical wheelie bins' / 'teach your dog to type'...
And then the latest flip side articles - 'We don't have to do anything', 'It's okay to fall apart', 'Cocooning is the way forward'. And the more opinionated "People shouldn't be offering us courses and activities at this time".
I guess I'm just thinking it's okay to do both, either or neither.
Some days I wake up WANTING to DO stuff. I've discovered lost food at the bottom of my freezer; I've worked out allotment parsnips AND pears go well in curried soup (recipe on request); I've offered free shamanic sessions to people I love working with.... and designed the Covid-19 Change Cycle (work in progress I hasten to add!)
Some days I wake up CONFUSED; fed up after a bad night's sleep (suggesting some inner anxiety I haven't yet got to the bottom of); feeling OVERWHELMED at the prospect of taming teenagers; and thinking it must be immoral to offer my work to people for money as my moral compass veers around this new social construct I haven't been taught the rules for.
I guess I'm just looping around. Not Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's wonderful 5 stages of grief - the shock/denial, anger, bargaining, sadness/depression and acceptance that we can flip around and between over and over after grief or loss (loss of routine and uncertainty sure can count here).
But the Covid-19 grief cycle... where the 19 refers to the number of emotions I can experience in one day... or even one hour.
So it's okay that sometimes I want to leap up and do a Joe Wicks video.
And that sometimes I want to hide under my duvet and come out around about October when we find our new normal.
That sometimes the birds, trees, sun and bees inspire me to heightened levels of appreciation and joy....
And that sometimes the budding new hawthorn and singing birds leaves me feeling untouched, isolated and lonely.
I guess I'm just trying to keep my emotional rollercoaster on the rails, and I'll get around to slowing down the carriage, and even redesigning the track to smoother and slower curves when it feels easier to do so.
So, must get back to my soup. I've said I can mix pears and parsnips, but we haven't yet tasted it....
I fear it may rank in the Peapod Wine category for those Gen X amongst us....😂
A new chapter and a big change An exciting new time is beginning - a blank page filling with ideas and options. But to be gutsily creative I have decided to take a sabbatical from homeopathy. I have given a lot of thought this move. It has been a tough decision. My patients mean a lot to me and are a huge part of my life. Yet the time has come and I have new ways of working to offer the world.
Why the change?
After 20 years of homeopathic learning, working and teaching I am taking time to refresh my approach. I became a homeopath after experiencing its phenomenal healing capacity and my spiritual practice showed me that this was the way for me to work. I have loved my time so far! I have met amazing people. I have seen over and over the incredible power homeopathy has to help with physical and emotional symptoms. But now I need to experience a new way of working that fits with my other passions, my family and my life. A year may seem a long time, but it will fly by. And I have suggestions below to find a new homeopath or work with me in new ways until I return back to homeopathy. These are being both a 'Martha Beck Wayfinder Life Coach' and a shamanic practitioner.
My experience of being coached and the glowing feedback I have from my clients has astonished me - because the tools are deep, quick and easily learned. You may have heard of Martha Beck - she is famous for being Oprah Winfrey's life coach and is a prolific author. I have loved meeting her in person and working with her and her Master coaches weekly. This way of coaching is both hugely practical and deeply spiritual. 'Wayfinding' refers to helping people to find their way, to connect with what they are really here to do with their lives and to life fully with purpose. Please feel free to call, email or ask me more. I will be sending out more details in due course. I have yet to build my new website, but you can find more about the year long training I am finishing this month here.
Shamanic healing and teaching is something I have done for 20 years. Shamanism is the oldest known way of connecting to 'spirit', the world beyond the physical. In fact we have all evolved from shamanic communities. You can learn to connect to your own spirit guides or 'power animals' in group or personal sessions, or receive one to one healing. I have courses running in June, September and beyond and sessions to suit. Contact me or check out my Wild Bear shamanic website for more information.
What's next with homeopathy?
Some of you have not seen me for a while, so this interruption may go unnoticed. However, many of you will want to find a new homeopath, or maybe try something else like acupuncture, nutrition or herbalism for example. I am not qualified to advise on alternatives to homeopathy. But if you wish to find a new homeopath then the best place to look is the Society of Homeopaths website on the 'Find a Practitioner' page. There are some excellent homeopaths and I hesitate to name those I know as there are many I don't know who are excellent as well as wonderful rising stars coming from colleges every year. I recommend calling at least 2-3 and getting a feel for them. Ask questions, check websites, find out their availability and fees and trust your gut feeling. I am always happy to provide a list of remedies if the homeopath in question wishes, but this is not usually necessary.
Some of you may prefer to try some other form of treatment and wait for me to return. It is of course entirely up to you. I will remain on the Society of Homeopath's register as a non-practising homeopathy, saving my seat for my return next year!
Meanwhile, my homeopathy practice is still running until mid June. At this point I say goodbye to my students at Salisbury Homeopathy College, finish a few consultations with those who want one more before I pause, and then prepare for a year of doing things differently. This includes revising how I practise homeopathy to allow me to continue to work, offering help and healing, for many decades to come.
And last, but by no means least....
It has been a heartfelt joy working with you so far. I sincerely wish you many blessings with your health and happiness journey from now onward whether working with me or others. Keep in touch!
I feel refreshed - which can only be good news for my patients! I love my job - which is running my clinics, seeing my lovely patients, and teaching and tutoring homeopathy students. But every now and again I need to come up for air. So at the beginning of September I took 4 days off to do just that.
Was it worth it? Well, although term is about to start at Salisbury Homeopathy College, and I'm scurrying around researching lectures as well as keeping clinic going strong, I feel I can still easily stay in touch with the benefit. In fact, the photo above connects me with how I feel - even though I didn't go to this lake!
Have you ever tried a retreat yourself?
After a retreat you could feel
Yes, it seemed like an indulgence back in early 2017 when I planned it - arranging time off work, sorting out childcare plans, spending money on me. But everyone has benefited from my action - including my family! I spent days out in nature, getting in touch with the me that gets forgotten and letting my heart refill which is what sustains me when I am offering my work to other people.
But how do you choose a retreat?
Well, it could be anything that makes your heart sing (or your headache stop!).... meditation, yoga, chi gung, a religious setting, a non-religious setting, a health spa, a weekend in a B&B (but no internet and time in nature). It could be near, it could be far.
I like to have a 'teacher' or facilitator I really trust to run my few days away. Last year I went on a homeopathy course in Greece with my favourite homeopathy teacher, Professor George Vithoulkas. This year I chose to spend time contemplating nature and the cycles of life with one of my favourite spiritual teachers, Annette Host.
So if you're contemplating a retreat I urge you to make the time! All of those around you will benefit - and so will you.
Last week I gave a talk in Shrivenham, entitled "FEVER! What fevers and what you can do about them." I used this event as part of Homeopathy Awareness Week to raise funds for the charity Homeopathy Frontline.
The evening was good fun, the room was full, and we learned and shared experiences about several remedies commonly prescribed in fever. I got some lovely feedback (thank you all!) and even better, we raised £30 for the Homeopathy Action Trust's organisation, 'Homeopathy Frontline'. This may not sound a huge amount, but given that I organised the evening in less than a week this was a great achievement - so thank you all who came.
Frontline Homeopathy is the banner under which the Homeopathy Action Trust encourages and helps provide treatment to those on low incomes who might not otherwise be able to receive it. They promote homeopathy as an effective, low-cost primary health care system in communities disadvantaged by social, economic and political circumstances on a global scale.
If you would like to donate to Homeopathy Action Trust or simply find out more, click here for further details. Thank you for your support.
Would you like to host a coffee morning in the Shrivenham / Faringdon / Highworth area? Why not enjoy a relaxed and fun session with friends whilst you learn together to prescribe for you, your family and friends in basic first aid and acute situations?
In return for hosting this enjoyable session, hosts get free homeopathic goodies and vouchers towards homeopathic treatment or books. I provide all the teaching, handouts where needed and have a range of interesting props and items to look at. The morning is aimed at beginners or those with some knowledge of using homeopathy at home and is a general introduction to homeopathy. The session can also be themed, focusing on a particular topic such as babies and young children, first aid, pregnancy/childbirth, menopause, etc. We can discuss this and tailor the morning to meet your needs. I can also provide a few items for sale such as books, creams, remedies and other homeopathy-related products, if wished.
Please note that as I am a practising homeopath with a busy clinic my available mornings are limited, so booking is on a first come, first served basis.
I am a fully qualified, registered homeopath and NCT antenatal teacher experienced in teaching homeopaths and non-homeopaths in homeopathy. The military families may wish to know that I am also a military wife. My aim is to make homeopathy fun and accessible to as many people as possible in the Shrivenham area.
Please contact me to arrange your morning, of for more information, using the form below. Or call me on 07811 398642 to discuss options. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Would you like to come to a 'Homeopathy Coffee Morning - Home Prescribing Made Easy?' in Shrivenham?
How about a relaxed morning (with coffee, tea and cake!) whilst you learn to prescribe for you, your family and friends in basic first aid and acute situations?
More information to follow, or contact me to register interest and ask for more details!
Image courtesy Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net
I am delighted to say that I now have the new Society of Homeopaths leaflets for you to read! These have been updated, and include information about what homeopathy is, references to clinical trials whilst focusing on specific areas of health. If you would like any please call me and I can put them in the post to you.
The leaflets available are:
If you would like information about any other conditions I see patients for, then please call me on 07811 398642 or use my contact form to connect with me.
14-21 June 2013 is the 13th Homeopathy Awareness Week - and the focus in on holidays. As the Society of Homeopaths leaflet says (on the left):
"Homeopathy has a consistent history in alleviating the distress of bumps, bruises, sore muscles, digestive problems, sunburn, fear of flying, jet lag or vertigo and nausea from motion sickness (cars, planes and boats)."
How Can I Use Homeopathy Whilst I'm Abroad?
Homeopathic remedies can be bought over the counter from pharmacies and some health food stores. However, they can also be bought individually or in 'kit' form from. This means you can take your own remedy kit abroad with you. This is the most cost effective way to buy remedies as you can get 18 remedies for about the same price as 5 over the counter.
Kits (like the one shown on the left from Helios pharmacy) contain several remedies, and have a comprehensive and straightforward booklet on how to use them.
There are kits available over the internet, but you may wish to speak to a pharmacy to get more of an understanding of what's available. There are different kits for different purposes and different budgets. What's more, the remedies last for years and can be used for friends and family, children and adults alike, for a long time after the holiday has ended.
Here are some links to pharmacies selling homeopathic remedy kits (click and they will open in a new window):
Underlying chronic symptoms are best seen by a qualified professional homeopath, but minor injuries and ailments can be treated at home using these over the counter remedies.
Homeopathy works just as well for babies as for adults, but giving them the remedy can be tricky. As remedies are made from milk sugar or 'sac lac' they are compatible with a tiny baby's digestive system, so there is no minimum age for treatment.
Here are 3 easy ways to give a remedy to babies.
The great thing about homeopathy is babies is we get to see remedies without any placebo effect! There is no way a tiny baby can think itself better by knowing it's receiving a remedy - so the results just speak for themselves.
Image courtesy of phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Joanna Shipley RSHom, Registered Homeopath. Loving homeopathy and natural health and passionate about sharing through practice and teaching. Lecturer and tutor at Salisbury Homeopathy College. Informal talks, courses, workshops and provide one to one consultations for all ages.