I’m an Australian-born farm girl, now living in the US with my dear American husband. I studied psychology, philosophy, social work and fitness leadership, and worked a number of jobs in Australia from coaching team members in a government department to picking vegetables on an organic farm, before emigrating from my home country to be with my beau (you can see my full CV here). I have always been interested in spirituality, personal growth, physical health and fitness, and an ongoing exploration of my inner and outer world. I first attempted meditation 25 years ago, and have been returning to that still place ever since.
In 2012 I knew that something was missing. In my meditation practice, in my relationship with myself, in my ability to connect with others, in my commitment to my core values. I’d known it for a while, but didn’t know what to do about it.
Then, because a little voice inside me just wouldn’t let up, I went to my first Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) course. And I wept the whole weekend. I wept for the many years of missing out on the love I yearned for; I wept because something deep and fragile in me was finally being acknowledged; and I wept because I knew I was saying goodbye to an old, familiar way of (not) being with myself.
This was the missing piece. This was the place in me that made it safe to feel my feelings, knowing that I would be there for myself. This allowed me to follow that root down into the earth, to where it tapped into the well of my core values, an often forgotten font of strength and nourishment. This was how I found the resilience to be with my own pain while also being there, continuously and lovingly, in the presence of the pain of others. This was where the gauge of “What do I need?” and “What do I still need?” and “What do I need right now?” registered consciously.
And so, I knew what I had to do and I began … I resigned from my full-time job, because I needed space to heal, gather my skirts, pull on my boots, and move onward. I committed myself to a Mindful Self-Compassion practice, sometimes through formal meditation, but mostly through simply immersing myself in MSC courses, reading, communing with like-minded people, and therapy.
Once I had healed enough, an invisible thread of purpose started to tug at me.
I knew that I wanted self-compassion, mindfulness and a new relationship with myself. And there were people willing to be there with me along that journey.
I lived and worked at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies where I learned about the comfort in community and the safety in a philosophy based on ethics and wisdom. I worked for the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, where my online skills developed, and I learned that I could have work relationships that weren’t based on hierarchy or fear. I worked for Susan Kaiser-Greenland on her InnerKids Professional Training Program, where I saw how adults can choose to relate to children, and I started to develop a new way to talk to the child still within me. I attended Internal Family Systems Level 1 training, where I got to speak my whole truth, my ugly, shameful, dirty, sad, tormented truth, and no-one abandoned me – no-one.
I helped out at as many MSC courses as I could, spending precious time with Chris Germer and Kristin Neff, developers of the program, and eventually created the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion (CMSC) website with them. I became the Administrative Director for CMSC as MSC became more widespread across the world, answering questions, supporting Chris and Kristin, working on projects.
And then, we rolled out MSC Teacher Training, piloted at the place it all began for me, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. And I’ve been teaching as much as I can ever since, to learn to really be with the material, to go deeper into my own experience of being compassionate with myself, and to follow that thread.
And so, here I am still following the thread. It’s not an easy journey, but I can’t imagine going anywhere else in my life right now. I teach so that I can learn, and I learn so that I can teach. The skills of mindfulness and self-compassion are some of my most valuable developing skills, and I am committed to continuing to learn. I hope you and I get to learn together sometime soon.