Maureen Bonner – My life in the therapy industry- Part 1

Maureen BonnerWhy I’m happy to share some really personal stuff with you!

Life is a journey as you may well know too well, it’s the challenges, peaks and troughs that mould us.It’s when you triumph over adversity, through all the obstacles that has been put in your way, that you get that sense of achievement, fulfillment, victory from whatever the particular mission or goal was.

I have hundreds of stories of triumphing over adversity, in my life and would like to share a few with you here today. You may resonate with some of what I’m about to say, and hope it gives you encouragement to win in all that you do. Remember persevering is already winning. We have two choices in life win or lose, there is no middle ground. If you are persevering, you are already winning because you have chosen not to give up!

Let’s get personal

My mum died a tragic death at the age of 22, I went to live with my grandparents and a year later my Grandad died too, they say of a broken heart from his youngest child passing.

My teenage years were spent in care and by the time I was 16, was given a council house to fend for myself in the world, making this my thirteenth home since birth.

So you could say quite an unsettled, chaotic childhood. The only constant in my life was school, and I was really very clever and loved the lessons, because at school the teachers would give me praise, something I never got at home, giving me a sense of achievement and drive to learn more new things.

From the age of 15 I was in an abusive relationship, which I thought was normal. At the young age of 19, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Finding the strength from the love of my son and motherly protection, gave me the courage to leave the relationship,

I had been working as a chef since leaving school, but the long hours were not a career for a single parent. With a seeking spirit, in need of a solution to find a new career that would give me the time I desired with my son.

Opportunity presented itself

A friend of mine told me about a new course at our local college for Beauty therapy, this was 20 years ago, I’d never even plucked my eyebrows let alone had a massage.

However being a bit of a free spirit growing up,I was different from others, and actually pretty comfortable with that. From the age of five I played with stones and crystals, made potions from dandelions and other wild flowers in a big steel pot at Grandad’s wood yard. Throughout childhood I searched for a spiritual path, attending different churches and Sunday schools, spiritualism, different meditative practices, invoking angels and a bit of wicca in my early teenage years, (general love spells and curses for the bullies).

I had no real memory of my Mum, but would always talk to my Grandad’s spirit when needing comfort.

Honestly I can’t say I went into this industry because I knew it was what I always wanted to do, the real reason was I needed a solution and more time with my son, and this happened to be the first opportunity that presented itself, and I went with it!

My life up to that point had been a never ending rollercoaster. Some pretty rough times since the birth of my son, homeless shelters, women’s aid hostels and temporary accommodations, making this another six homes before my son’s second birthday.

My life was now about to change. That first day of college brought back positive memories from my school days. This was my chance to learn and thrive, now as an adult in complete control of my destiny.

Throughout my two years at college, I volunteered for everything that was on offer, gaining lots of experience and by the end of my first year. I was feeling really confident and started to charge friends to make a little extra money.

Here I was in an industry that valued me and, I in turn created value to other lives. Having more time with my son was priceless and the greatest benefit.

Course junkie

This industry was not big when I started out especially in Scotland, in fact our town only had two salons, and I managed to bag myself a part-time position at Beauty by Irene Franks, a small family run salon specialising in complementary therapies.

Learning from Irene and her husband, I developed more skills in massage and energy techniques, Reiki, colour therapy, acupressure and Ayurvedic traditions from Irene’s love of India.I was also able to find a college that taught reflexology, and traveled attending night classes until qualified.

College had triggered the passion I had for learning new things and I became a course junkie ever since.

Loving introducing clients to new skills I’d learned brought excitement and fresh energy to my practice.

Once I’d exceeded all the courses available in Scotland, I began travelling in search for new techniques. Always wherever I went, I met with other like minded therapists, building up long term relationships and bonds,we would just click. Expanding a network of friends in the industry.

Oncology massage, where it all started

When my son began Primary school. I decided to do some volunteer work at our local hospice.There I met Jenny Gilbert who was formally a nurse turned therapist. It was unknown territory working with clients who had cancer back then. What we knew for sure was, we never got into this industry to turn anyone away. Linking with other hospices and therapists worldwide, we all learned from each other.

Looking back and especially, say only ten years ago, we see the development of complementary therapies being integrated in healthcare within hospitals and hospices and local charities too. To think of where we were almost two decades ago and where we are today, is a massive accomplishment. It makes me feel so proud of our united spirit, and gratitude for all the continued hard work in the studies that were conducted by researchers and therapists, the majority of which were not funded.

Everything begins with one- the great oceans from one drop of rain, a mighty oak forest from one acorn.

One person’s determination and courage, inspires others to take action for a cause, creating a united group which changes the destiny for humankind.

Although there was not the same demand for therapies in general back at the beginning of my career, I never seemed to have any problem being busy. If you love what you do and give your all, then everything follows. There honestly has never been a time when I’ve not loved it!

Growing together

When I first started self-employment, working together with other therapists at events and corporate functions introducing therapies, a lot of the time for the first time to people, to promote the benefits of complementary therapies, really was the start of a whole therapy revolution and boosted the industry in which we work.

A lot of the therapists I worked with back then had the same common goal and a love and drive for the industry too. We felt like we were moving mountains together.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, in fact they are still building it.

I am glad we all stuck together and continued to persevere in an industry we love, because all those collective efforts have resulted in raising the profile of complementary therapies are here in the west.

There is always potential for continued development in any area of life and the same goes for our individual potential, it is limitless, please believe this, I believe in you!

I’d say I’ve always had a determined spirit, some might say stubborn, but the fact is that if I put my mind to something I won’t give up and will always see it through.

It wasn’t until I met Ellen Keir that the spark to become a teacher was ignited, loving the relaxed atmosphere and small group setting, she set the bar high with her compassionate teaching style.

Find out in part 2 how I went from therapist to teacher and in the process changing my Family Karma.

And in the concluding part, how I went about developing the oncology course and the obstacles I had to overcome throughout the 2 years of development

 

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