Tuesday 29 June 2010


Last Friday I went to my children’s school’s last assembly of the year. I was a guest of honour; there were no other parents present. After the announcements, the prizes and a tearful retirement parade, the principal said that to the crowd that there was another special guest present. Then she turned to me. I felt the tears well up in my eyes. I had donated my family piano to the school several months ago and the children were going to sing a special song accompanied by the piano to say thank you.

This piano had been in my life for as long as I can remember. My grandfather had given it to my mother as a wedding gift. It had sat in my house for the last few years but I never felt that it was really mine. It held many memories of my life, as it sat, silent in my living room, gathering dust. This piano that I listened to for years as my mother practiced on it while I was a child, this piano that somehow brought beauty into a traumatic home, this piano that I tried to avoid playing for many years.... my mother’s piano, became for a moment, my piano.

When the day came that the school took it away, I felt a new, clear space in the house. I had not realised that the memories were embedded still in that piano for me. And now, with a few hundred happy faces staring up at me (“she’s the one that gave the school the piano!”) I felt a mixture of relief, pride, sadness and joy. Knowing that now this piano would become alive, bringing joy to many children, teachers and parents, set something free inside of me. It was my piano, if only for a moment, and then it was gone.

That is what this work is about. Recognising the story, honouring the story, feeling the sadness, but then letting it go. Transforming the pain into something of use, into something beautiful. Transforming it into something that will touch others, something that we can begin to value in ourselves as having worth. Being of worth. Worthwhile. The piano was my issue, but it is gone now, and the pain I unconsciously held onto is not gone, but transformed.

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Why do I need a Counsellor?

The solutions to most of our problems are within us, but sometimes they are hidden. Counselling is a space that you can use to explore your issues and problems safely, with gentle guidance from a therapist to help them find the “light inside”.

Each person is different, and even though we all have similar needs in life, our life experiences can affect how we perceive ourselves, other people and our situations. By getting to know you, a counsellor can point out patterns of thinking that might be stopping you from seeing all sides of a situation clearly.

Sometimes, to make life a little bit easier, all you need to do is become aware of a problem that you might not have already seen before. Sometimes, you might have a decision to make and counselling is a great opportunity to explore different angles and different options that you might have, before making a decision. And sometimes, decisions are made for you that you might find difficult to live with. Counselling is a good place to come to learn how to change your attitude towards something, to make it work for you instead of against you.

Above all, Counselling is a safe, confidential space that is there to help you improve your life situation. Working with a Counsellor happens at your pace, your timing. You take home what you put into it. And you will find, by forming a relationship with your counsellor, that in this world it is good to know that you have another form of support in your life to carry you through the difficult times.

Sunday 6 June 2010


“The thing you fear most has no power.
Your fear of it is what has the power.
Facing the truth really will set you free.” - Oprah

We heal ourselves with great risk. Risk that we change, and lose the familiar parts of ourselves, so that we no longer recognise ourselves. Risk that our friends and our families no longer recognise us either, and no longer wish to be around us. But we remain stuck with a fear of changing at great risk too, risk of getting sick as our bodies hold in our anxieties, our anger, our resentment. Risk of  "going postal" because we could begin to resent the people we love, the job we are in, and one day we wake up and implode. Or worse, explode.

Fear serves a purpose, yes. At its best, it holds us back and makes us think about what it is we need to do, before we jump right in and do it. At its worst, it prevents us from taking the leap and we remain in a box that no longer fits us, twisting ourselves up into knots in order to stay in a space that we have already outgrown.

Facing the fear involves realising that it is the fear itself, not the actions we need to take, that makes our heart race, our blood boil, our stomach tense. How do we move from this? I suggest we pour out a cup of tea and invite the fear into the room to find out what it wants from us. Talk to it, thank it for the warning. Ask it what would happen to you if you stay where you are. Ask it what would happen if you take the steps you are thinking of taking, the ones that scare you so much. Ask it to become your ally in your life's journey, to hold you when you are making a mistake, and to walk with you instead of against you. Things are difficult enough in this world to be fighting against yourself as well.  And when you do this, the fear is then seen, it feels recognised, validated. It softens, and delivers a message to you that you might not have considered before.

Like Oprah says, its the fear that has the power, because you are giving it that power. Turn fear into a friend, and you can do anything.