Hi all, how you been? Here I am with another inspired interview with a lady I had the privilege to meet at the Professional Speaker Association (PSA) and who has inspired me beyond belief, she is one amazing woman who has not let ill health stop her from anything ... in fact I think it's made her a much tougher and kick-arse woman then ever. Read on...
Describe your personal situation (i.e., disability, illness, caring responsibilities, as much as your comfortable with) and your business?
I live in a fabulous apartment in Leeds near Roundhay Park. Although I am classed as "terminally ill" by the medics, you wouldn't know it and I am keeping really well and enjoy working and socialising in equal measure.
My work is my speaking business. I use the name Nina Joy (Joy is my middle name) because I like it! I speak on two major topics - Who has got the remote control - to your life? which covers how to cope with massive challenge or change. The other is on Mind Body and Business, how to be healthy and deliver peak performance.
What motivated you to start your business?
After over 25 years in corporate life (working in financial services), I had the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy. I grabbed this with both hands, thinking that it was time to go freelance and do my own thing. Throughout my career I had delivered presentations, enjoyed connecting with people, and was told that I was rather good at it. So in 2011 my speaking business was born
How do you balance your personal needs with your business/work?
I make sure that I have play time as well as work time. I make it a priority to do things for me, and have a pretty healthy daily regime. Most weeks I will have a treat, maybe a massage or healing session. My ideal way to wind down is to spend time with friends and family and that's what I do evenings and weekends. Plus I love to sleep! I always make sure I have enough rest.
What is the toughest thing you have had to deal with in life/business and what got you through?
My toughest time was in the summer of 2012. Not only did I find out that I had breast cancer, but that it had spread to my lymph, lungs, liver and bones. This means it's classed as incurable. I was devastated. It seemed that my life was at an end, and all the plans I had wouldn't be fulfilled. However, I decided to take on this challenge and see what I could achieve, despite the awful prognosis. I have taken charge of my own health. I have learned a lot about cancer, and have undertaken a range of therapies, from the cutting edge through to the alternative. Now, almost two years on, although I still have cancer, I am well and carrying on living my life to the full, and building my business.
What is the most “WHAM BAM” exciting thing in life/business that has happened and how did you celebrate?
I suppose the most exciting thing is that I am alive, when the doctors thought that I wouldn't be! I celebrate by making sure every day I do the things I enjoy, and make being happy a priority. I can't take life for granted, and I don't. I feel so proud of what I've achieved - it is devastating to hear that you are "incurable". I wouldn't want anyone to feel as I did - hopeless and helpless. So I have written a book The Adventures of a Cancer Maverick to share what I have learned with other "Incurables". I want to show that there are many things you can do for yourself outside orthodox medicine, and that it is possible to live, and even to thrive, with cancer.
Which business/person has inspired you and why?
My initial inspiration came from my parents. My dad was in sales, and we used to talk about PMA (positive mental attitude to the uninitiated) over the dinner table. I remember him teaching me "you can if you think you can, and if you think you can't then you're probably right!" My mum was an incredibly energetic vibrant lady, and she had absolute confidence and unshakable belief in me. If ever I waver, I imagine her looking at me with those twinkly brown eyes, telling me " you can do it, I know you can".
The business people I admire would be Richard Branson, and Anita Roddick. I like that they remained very human, don't really care too much what others think, and believe that success doesn't have to be at the expense of others. They are both a force for good in the world.
Do you have any life/business tips you could give my readers?
Decide to be happy. Now. Do the things you love, that make your heart sing. And then do them some more.
Make yourself a priority - it is only when you are fulfilled and happy that you then have enough to take care of others.
Look for the good - in people, in life, in each day. You will find it by the bucket load.
Don't take life too seriously. A playful approach is a lot more fun
Hey Peeps, don't ya know it's been awhile since I have down one of my interviews of amazingly awesome and rad ladies, but here is my latest one, and boy is this chick inspiring, motivated, and showing us all how to kick our fears and anxieties in the butt! How? you might ask? By swimming the English Channel this year!! How mind-blowing, exciting, and extraordinary is this?!? Hazel is only 16 years of age, and has already achieved many inspirational swims in the past few years. So grab your cup of tea, pull up your chair, and get ready to read an incredible interview ...
Hazel, you are going to embark on an amazing journey in August next year – swimming across the English Channel – can you explain how you first came to the idea that you wanted to do this?
I started open water swimming around 5 years ago this is when I was completing the smaller swims such as 3k. I then found out that USWIM had a Channel relay going out that year and I was massively interested in making my challenge harder. We had long talks with coaches, successful channel swimmers and also family as it is a huge investment and also you have to be 100 percent sure you want to do it, it was the best decision I ever made and I cant wait for the day and for the rest of the other swims.
To swim the English Channel is a huge challenge and not a lot of people would choose to do it, just over 1000 swimmers have been officially recorded as crossing the channel successfully! How are you preparing for the swim and how do you envision the swim to be like?
When preparing for something like this you cant do enough of something. Practice makes perfect and you cannot afford to not practice or prepare something you think you wont need as you probably will need it. When you think you have enough add a few more because when your out in the channel there is no way of accessing more things which you might need, Preparing is a massive part of the channel challenges, everything has to be prepared and your crew need to understand it fully but you also have to practice; you have to practice failing, being sleep deprived, being hungry or not being in control. I have an idea of what I want my swim to be I think everyone would like the perfect swim with the 7am swim start and then swimming into the night or starting at night and swimming into the morning with the perfect conditions which would be the calm sea and being able to get into France without a fight but really we all know that wont happen. You go out when the weather and conditions are at there best
What equipment, assistance, etc, will you be using to help you cross the channel?
While I swim the English channel I will have a support vessel. Mine is Louise Jane with Andy King as my pilot for the swim. Andy has the final decision about everything during the swim and he is the only person other than me who can stop the attempt. I will also have a crew: a crew of around 6-8 people which so far include, My support swimmer and successful channel swimmer Ella Dunn who I have been training with for a few years, My dad as I have never completed a big swim without him, My brother to complete Social media I.e. updating face book, twitter and blogs and hopefully another one of my very good friends one who is also a channel swimmer and the other who crewed my two way Windermere in August this year.
You have swum distances before, what is the longest distance you have ever swum?
In one swim: it would have to be Two way Windermere which was 21 miles in 10 hours 50 minutes and then following that it would be the back to back 6 hour swims then 7 hour swims. I have also competed 6 x 6 hour swims ; you only need one 6 hour swim to qualify to swim the channel solo.
How do you prepare mentally for such a long swim?
Its just a swim.. you have to make sure you stay calm and fully understand what you are doing. There is so many other things that you cant control for example jellyfish, other wildlife, weather and the tides these are things you cant change or prevent so you have to be mentally prepared to be able to adapt; if the tide turns and your on the last mile to France you could be facing another 6 hours to get in and you have to be able to keep your mind strong enough to think “ yes I can do this” which after 12+ hour swimming could be a bit tricky or if you miss cap griz nez due to tides or your feeding times being too long this could add another 9 hours on to the swim as you would have to swim to the other side.
As a swimmer, when I had long, distance training sessions to get through, I would often sing songs in my head, particularly high beat songs, as I would set my stroke rate to the pace of the beat. Do you have any mental coping mechanisms that you use to get you though long training sessions and/or races?
All my training sessions are long, from 2 hours up to 6 in a pool and then the swims in open water could go on for 10 hours + so singing is definatley something that ALWAYS happens. I also spend a lot of time while training thinking which is not always a good thing but it depends what kind of day I have had. I enjoy thinking about things that have happened and being in the water they are no longer there, its just me and the water. Bit of friendly competition always keeps the session cheery so maybe racing a fellow swimmer or changing the sets a bit to keep it fresh helps. Overall the main thing that happens is I go into a day dream where I have my swimming pace and im kind of in the zone, this is when I use quotes such as “just keep swimming” or if I am finding the session hard I say to myself “you wont get to France if you don't do this” bit harsh but it works and it keeps my legs kicking and arms moving.
What is a typical training week for you? AND how do you fit your training in around you education and social life?
A training week starts with Mondays off for a rest day the reason for this is weekends are full of morning swim after noon sea/lake swim and then back in the pool in the evening so the Monday off gives my body time to repair itself. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday usually are one hour morning session before school and then 2 hours in the evening or in the summer/open water season Wednesday nights are at Salford and Thursday evenings are at a lake in Cheshire with USWIM. Weekends are usually spent either away from home training or Saturday in one place and then Sunday another sea/lake swim and then masters on a Sunday night. Fitting a social life around this is not easy and I cherish all the free time I get but mainly spend it sleeping or doing paperwork for the channel arrangements. My friends and family have understood that I am not available a lot of the time and they plan around me which I appreciate so much. When I have to say no to things it is hard and sometimes can make you feel down because your missing out but the social time with all the people I train with makes it worth it, the hardwork and achivement that comes out of training makes saying no worth it as well. I am not going to say that my education is easy to fit around my training or should I say my training around my education because it is not. In some cases it is not too bad as there isn’t as much work to do or there are no exams coming up but when im flooded with coursework or have to revise for exams it can get a bit tricky but it can also go the other way where I have to miss school to attend swims and do things due to swimming commitment. For example this year I was lucky enough to be part of a world record group who swam the Caledonia way in Scotland for pancreatic cancer but with this amazing opportunity I had to miss 6 days of school which is a lot of work to take or come back to, I do not struggle to complete all work or get my grades as training has been part of me since the age of 5 but missing the days do definatley make a difference to your knowledge and you just have to work extra hard when you return. On the other hand my school are massively supporting me and actually only found out how successful my swimming had become when I won 1st junior girl for the British Long Distance swimming in June but ever since then they have been behind me all the way and supporting me as much as they can over the next 8 months before the swim.
Is crossing the English Channel your biggest swimming goal? Or do you have other goals in swimming that you would like to achieve?
The EC swim is only the tip of the ice berg for me, its classed as the Mount Everest of the long distance swimming world but if I am successful in my attempt next year I will go on to complete the Oceans 7 swims. This includes swimming : Irish Channel, the Cook Strait, the Molokai Channel, the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Tsugaru Strait and the Strait of Gibraltar. Being a winter swimmer as well I am also in training to complete my ice mile in February which is a mile in waters under 5 degree.
If you could choose to hold a dinner party for the top three swimmers of all time who would you choose to invite and why?
I really cant decide with this as im actually lucky enough to know a lot of the best swimmers but if I had to pick it would be Lewis Pugh who is one of the most inspirational people I have ever known. Lewis the 1st person to complete a long distance swim in the north pole which was -0.3 degrees.
I would love to continue to help you out in any way I can Hazel, because I think what you are wanting to achieve is pretty special, so over the next year I would love to do occasional updates for my readers on how the crossing plans are coming. In the meantime, is there any particular support you are looking for or needing that perhaps, some of my readers, could help you with?
If you would like to support me with my swim your business / organisation might like to provide sponsorship for…
Free or discounted services, for example;
Entry to swimming pools / Open water venues
I also asked Hazel's parents a few questions about how they are supporting Hazel and what it's like to be the parent's of a highly motivated and big dreaming athlete ...
Mr and Mrs Killingbeck, thank you for letting me interview you and Hazel and to try and find out more about Hazel swimming the English Channel. Firstly, how do you feel about Hazel wanting to cross the channel? Was it a surprise, or is choosing big challenges such as this a usual thing for Hazel?
We are incredibly proud of Hazel for her decision to swim the Channel and all her training. It was not a surprise when hazel decided to swim the channel as we had discussed it in depth together and with her coach who at the time was actually down in Dover on the Manchester USWIM channel relay.
How will you be supporting Hazel in the lead up to the crossing and during the crossing?
I will be part of her crew on the boat which is a massive privilege as I will get to see first hand what happens and the whole thing.
Is Hazel the only swimmer in the family, or is it a genetic trait?
It is a genetic trait as I was a swimmer before I was diagnosed with MS. When Hazel was born we were very strict about making sure she knew how to swim just for safety reasons but Hazel began to compete and then took it further as she got older.
What advice do you have for other parents out there who’s children are setting great big dreams and lofty goals?
We believe as parents that you should allow your child to want to do as many big dreams in their life’s. Especially at a younger age like Hazel it is something they have for life the people they meet, them experiences that they will get to have like Hazel. Make sure they want it and make sure they work hard.
Wowee, what an interview, Hazel is one very special young lady, and she really deserves all the support that people can give her (and her parent's are pretty special too - supporting her on her big journey to English Channel glory). If you would like to support Hazel you can check out her blog, her MS fundraising page, or her twitter feed. Please get behind her 100%, we, as a society really need to support young people in whatever their dreams are and help them succeed, because it is youngin's like Hazel that are our future!
Sorry I haven't been around much lately peeps, between trying to get my book written and getting organised for Christmas, but the past few months have seen a huge shift in my life, a renewed sense of motivation and inspiration and a great desire to go into the next year with positivity and fun.
I am loving life at the moment, with my Mastermind group up and running, and the amazing, positive support I am getting from so many people in my life - both professionally and personally, I am feeling very blessed at the moment. Part of the fun and excitement of life at the moment is the fact that it is almost Christmas time and also nearly 2014.
What does Christmas and the beginning of a new year mean to you?
Christmas has always held such fond memories for me - and whether I am with my family in Australia, or with my UK peeps, I always have a wonderful Christmas day. With Capitalism taking so much of the focus of Christmas away from spiritual meaning, I always try to remember the deeper side of the day - being with those you love, giving, openness, and acceptance. For about the past twenty years I have always received more pleasure from giving presents then receiving them, I have always appreciated the food shared with family and friends, and the quiet reflectiveness of Christmas night, when you are stuffed to the gills with turkey and pudding, and reminiscing not just the day, but the past year.
I still have to decorate the tree!! I still have to make some presents!!
But this is the fun, the pleasure, the outside-of-reality that Christmas embodies, the tossing aside of the mundane everyday and the embracing of overeating, making, buying, and wrapping of fantastical items for those you love.
However, Christmas also signals the coming end of the year, and boy what a year I have had. It had been an up and down year, good things and bad things, lessons learnt, things let go of, and new promises made to myself. In fact the past two years have been like this, but I feel that this topsy-turvy time has been a huge signifier of change. I am changing, as we all are, opening up to life and all experiences, both negative and positive, and recognising that no matter what life throws at you you have to remain true to yourself and your own life aims and goals.
So on reflecting on the past twelve months, here are some things that I have learnt:
- Truth and Honesty is King; trust myself because that is the most important thing
- Be as open as possible; holding onto hurt does no-one any good, better to let go and move on
-Embrace those that support you and love you no matter what, a big shout out to my twister and PSA peeps here
- You must always look after yourself first, then you can look after others
- Forgiveness is the path to freedom; I have forgiven and I have moved on, I am looking forward to the next journey that life has for me
- Be Present, enthusiastic always, I have knocked some talks right out of the ball park this year, simply by being absolutely present to the moment and embracing the enthusiasm for life that this brings
-Yoga, what more can I say, it has been a lifesaver
- and lastly, but most importantly, reaffirming my love for my Ma and Pa, they have always believed in me and I wouldn't be where I am today without them and for that I will be forever grateful.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
So what are you reflecting on this year? How has your life been the past twelve months? What lessons had life taught you?
Comment below ....
I Love Yoga!
There, I have said it, I love it, it is time and space and stretching and strength all for me. I am allowed to be in the inherent here and now through my breath, to feel the stretch of my muscles when I am in Uttanasana (or standing forward bend for those who are thinking huh?!?), to find my balance when I am in Tadasana (tree pose). Each action, each conscious breath, each taught muscle brings me home to myself and to my peace, to my calm.
In my developing yoga practice I have come to consider what yoga means when it comes to disability.
So firstly, here are some experts thoughts on yoga . . . (cause really . . . I ain't no expert!! Not yet anyway!)
(image via pinterest)
"Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self"
- The Bhagavad Gita
'Yoga is a powerful vehicle for change. As you build strength, you start to believe in your own potential.'
- Tiffany Cruikshank
'The very heart of Yoga practice is abhyasa - steady effort in the direction you want to go.'
- Sally kempton
'Yoga is not about touching your toes. It's about unlocking your ideas about what you want, where you think you can go, and what you will achieve when you get there.'
- Cyndi Lee
"To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.'
- Thich Nhat Hanh
(Okay, not a quote directly linked to Yoga, but its essence sits with the idea that in yoga class there is no judgement, you are in a pure space where you can accept yourself as you and that that is a beautiful thing.)
Yoga is a journey, a physical and spiritual journey inside, into your heart. Yoga is not a competition where you are trying to out-pose the person next to you, or pushing yourself to be the first person to layer through to Vrschikasana (don't know what that is? Google!). Yoga is about exploring your space, your limits, with a gentle and open heart. It's about trying things out, modifying, getting bad-ass creative with your body and mind, finding that stretch, that open-mind. Through yoga, you come to realise that we are who we are and in that moment we are free of the past and the future, that we are truly in the present.
So, how does this seemingly intense physicality and spiritual mojo link in with disability? How can people with various disabilities DO yoga?
(image via pinterest - please go check this link out, this yoga chick is awesomely rad!!)
Both Yoga and disability can be regarded the same - difficult, hard, and stuck within the paradigms of peoples perceptions. However, as discovered above, yoga is all expansive, flow-able, open, wide, like a bright blue sky on a clear Autumn morning. What if I were to say disability is the same? And when you combine disability and yoga together, sometimes the most creative moments can arise.
Disability is so varied, so open to all, it is not reduced to the other as many would think - we are all affected in some ways. In this respect, however, disability can be the ultimate human experience in creativity. Think about it - the marvelous adaptions, adjustments, ideas, and thoughts emerge into world through the experience of disability. Just the same as yoga, right?
My experience of yoga, with my disability, has been exactly that, working with what I have and seeing what I can do, gently pressing the limits of body, mind, and space. My disability is not a barrier, but a creative force with which to approach and consider each pose, each breath, each moment. Nothing is impossible, with the right support, the right thought, the right attitude - and this can really be said about life for all of us.
No excuse exists, no denial, no doubt.
we can all learn to accept and grow with what life has given us.
(image via pinterest)
I haven't had an epiphany for awhile (a few weeks at least!! LOL). However, the practice of yoga, I have noticed, is helping me notice my thoughts and really pay attention to what they are saying, allowing me time to let go of the "rot" and really listen to the 'gems.' AND these 'gems' are proving to be quite revelatory, or epiphany like.
On of these revelations was about the thoughts that create anxiety/stress/worry, and how these thoughts truly stop you from expanding into life, living the life of your dreams, from really being YOU! I also saw where these thoughts are coming from - they are coming from the past and the future (not literally, of course!!).
When you look at your life outside of the present (you know, this moment right now, this moment as I am typing or you are reading this post), your thoughts turn either to the past or to the future. What do you see in that past? What do you see in the future?
Negative crap? Long held issues and disaster movie scenarios? Anger? Sadness? Frustration?
about things that have happened and you can't change or things that may or may not happen.
This, quite obviously, is not a path to happiness, acceptance, and gratitude.
Being in the present? Inhaling Prana? (Prana = life force or breath) Going inside to see what's going on . . . how you feel in that moment, what you are thinking, seeing, tasting, hearing? Noticing and accepting change? (because frankly change is the only thing you can be sure of). Exhaling that which is mad, bad, and sad?
(image via pinterest)
This was my epiphany the other day - an epiphany I have had a few times in life, but one, it seems, I have to have over and over again . . . hopefully this time it will stick. Our stress and worry is all a construct of the mind - what causes us stress are moments from the past and thinking about the future in negative terms. Our minds create stories that are designed to leave us in a heightened state of awareness, that leaves our bodies on alert to potential danger, that drags our adrenal glands through the wringer (adrenals - controller of all icky stress hormones).
But how to release ourselves from this self perpetuating stress? One thing yoga has been teaching me is that our bodies and minds are as they are, no fiction or fakery about it! Well, what if we approached our thoughts with this idea of our thoughts being fiction; that we should step back and look at the fact before buying into the tragic disaster our minds are telling us has happened or is going to happen?
when we step back and allow our minds to take account of the here and now, we can see that the stories we have told ourselves, especially about the future, are in all likely hood a good trick from the brain trying to control the hype that is reality - when in actual fact, reality cannot be controlled.
So, how I am trying to combat the storyteller that is residing in my head? I am practicing and practicing and practicing focusing on the moment, being present, living in the here and now. Of course its not an easy, quick fix, the process of awareness, breathing, meditation, and yoga is an ongoing process - hence why it is called a practice and not a goal (or solid concrete ball of unchangeable limits). When I find my mind wandering to the past or the future in a non-nostalgic/optimism kind of way I gently remind myself that this is the storyteller that is trying to make drama and I bring my thoughts softly back to my breath, bring my awareness back to what I am going in that moment - I take note of how my body is feeling, what I am smelling, hearing, and seeing. You see, we cannot change the past, we cannot control the future, and we certainly can't control other people, but we can control how we respond to the current moment and if we respond to the current moment with a positive light that can only step us into the next moment and the next moment with a peaceful calm and a smile on our faces.
IMAGINE NOW, when you let go of your fears, your worries, and your stress, HOW MUCH MORE OPEN LIFE IS TO YOU NOW - THERE ARE NO LIMITS, JUST YOU IN THE MOMENT!
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright