As a child, all I ever wanted to be was a teacher; but not teaching in schools - I knew that much. Roll forward to the end of my secondary school teaching and I clearly remember having to fill out a questionnaire, devised by the careers section of my school, which would determine what jobs I was destined to walk in..........result 'Laboratory Technician'. Mmmmmm.
Whilst at school I spent the last 2 years of my teenage years helping out the local Ranger at Hoddom and Kinmount Estates, and yes became involved in teaching young children on the 'Nature Club' all about trees, plants, animal footprints and poo!! I'm an expert at poo trails....fascinating subject. But this enthusiasm for nature all started not by my parents influence, but by a dear friend of my parents. She instilled in me a real love for the great outdoors. Every walk was a library of information waiting to be opened. She spent time showing me, teaching me to love nature and her enthusiasm really rubbed off. So myself as a teenager, teaching those children really started my life's purpose.
I left home at 18 (actually on my 18th birthday) to start a new life and job with the Meteorological Office in Bracknell (a far cry from idyllic south-west Scotland). Walks in the countryside were craved as I ended up doing 12 hour shifts that didn't have any particular order, or regular time-off. Two years later I moved to join the Atomic Energy Authority and became involved in radiation testing.....this job didn't make my heart sing, but it did allow me to be in the most beautiful part of the South-West - Dorset.
I started investigating Druidism, Bon Buddhism and Wicca and joined lots of classes and groups. These teachings helped me to get a greater understanding of me and the natural world.
A devastating turn around happened soon after my 21st birthday....a car accident that really did stop me in my tracks and took years to recover from. In fact, I clearly remember being told by the neurologist who was treating me that I would be in a wheelchair by the time I was 25! The medical profession are so pessimistic. I didn't end up in a wheelchair, but I did spend a large part of my 20s in extreme pain, on morphine a lot of the time, and very little energy. Although the one thing that kept me going was having to take the dogs out into the countryside....nature was my healer.
During this time of recovery I also became quite heavily involved in shamanism. Learning the hows and whys of what had happened to me (a spiritual awakening) and learning new ways to see who I really was becoming. Much of the 'old me' wasn't there any more so I had to find out who I was and what I was here to do.......a long time of healing, almost 20 years to get to the point where I know my purpose.
Having a life changing event makes you take stock of what you have been doing and what needs to continue forward........I wanted to do something for me. I loved the natural world and I had a real need to be immersed in that world once more. So I joined Kingston University 2 years after the accident to start their Environmental Science degree.....wow, ticked so many boxes, and I couldn't get enough of the courses that I attended. I left Kingston University with a First Class Honours Degree and continued on to the University of Surrey to do a Masters, then PhD, then Post-Doc research. Whilst starting the Masters I was asked back to Kingston to teach part-time on the same course I had just completed - and I loved every minute of it. I also became a guest lecturer at Imperial College and started teaching students at the University of Surrey as I continued on through my own studies....and I loved teaching. One thing that always astonished me though on environmental field trips was the lack of knowledge of basic ecology understood by the students. Majority of the students didn't know the difference between the oak, ash and beech! Wild flower ID was pretty much non-existent, and the history of land use through the ages was only learnt by doing an ecology module. I was astounded. I thought every student knew from growing up, like me, the wildflowers, the trees, the birds......it was the start of me realising how disconnected us humans really are to the natural world around us.
I left the south-east some 19 years ago now, and reluctantly left. I had just been head-hunted by the British Geological Society to work for them and my then husband was asked to move to Exeter for his new workplace! Staying and working for the BGS was not an option, so I moved down to the south-west. At the time it felt like it had been such a wrong move for me.....no friends, no work (academically I was known in the SE, no-one had heard of me in the SW), and feeling completely lost. But I had one thing that kept me going......my dog and the natural world. We would spend lots of time out in Exmoor, the Quantocks, the Blackdowns.......these special places became our sanctuary, my healing space and my time to really get to grips of who I really was becoming. My teachings deepened. I met amazing teachers in the shamanic world from Alaska, Arizona, South America, Canada, Europe and New Zealand....all gave me hope and told me to always do 'what made my heart sing'.
Working on myself energetically since the age of 21 certainly gave me a tremendous insight into the natural world, and how I was listening and 'seeing' that world, both the visible and invisible. All my teachings through my whole life seemed to be amplified here in the south-west; I felt I had actually come home. I started to use the trips out with the dog as a form of deep therapy....when I look back at what I was doing I have been using deep ecology and eco-therapy for the past 30 years.
And the teaching........well I started to teach energy medicine work after realising the people coming to me for therapy where actually going through similar stories as myself. I knew how to teach them, advise them, help them. My teachings I had personally experienced with plants and trees as a child were now coming through energetically as plant medicine....so a real deepening into the plant realms. The fate of meeting a falconer on a land-fill site started my love for birds of prey and love for feather medicine and bird spirit medicine.
I don't know everything about the natural world, or birds of prey, but each day brings a new teaching, a new way of working a plant into my way of being, or a new way of connecting the medicine that my hawk has for me that day......all magical interactions within nature.
And why do I teach......? If we don't teach our children the basic's of the natural world they will never experience the awe and wonderment that is held out there, waiting for them every single day. The great teachings of honour and respect are things that nature and my teachers have instilled into me that it becomes daily practice. Some of the elders I have worked with are struggling to maintain the stories of the natural world are carried through their children....children don't want to know about the oak, the plants, the birds....they want to play on their computers and become even more disconnected. And yet there is a world of wonder waiting for all of us out there in nature....waiting for us to just go and sit and listen and become part of.
When I teach energy medicine it still amazes me that people don't know how to honour and respect the world around them; and yet when they do the connection is electric....a light bulb moment going on inside, a re-awakening to something their DNA remembered long, long ago.
This is why I teach...to allow people to remember how important our connection is to the natural world out there. We need to remember if this world has any chance of surviving and recovering from our abuse.
And 'the deepening of the teacher' was shouted at me from the trees, the wind, the land, the birds on a Medicine Walk I completed recently. I have a real passion to teach children....which I have done through a Falconry Club now for the past 6 years. But I feel it needs to cover more than just falconry, a great understanding of our environment, our ecology. A seed has been planted of starting a 'Nature Club' for children....the how's and where's will grow organically and when it has been birthed I will announce details on the website and Facebook. A Nature Club that teaches children the basics of the natural world out there, each month through the changing seasons. AND it is not a Forest School.....I want to go back to how I was taught by my parents friend. To bring in the enthusiasm and wonder of the natural world to children (and adults!) today.
"A teacher affects eternity; he/she can never tell where his/her influence stops."