About Your Facilitator

I set up Wild Willow Retreats because I wanted to offer other women respite from difficult times or busy lives, and a chance to care for themselves. I also wanted to offer them the kind of retreat I have sought at times in my life, but haven’t always found. For the future of Wild Willow Retreats I am aiming to offer a range of retreats; this first Autumn Equinox Retreat is an invite to enjoy a ‘magical mystery tour’ of your self and your dreams and to rest, heal, be inspired, and be supported.

I spent almost all of my adult life caring for others, initially in an employed capacity – then from the year 2000 as Mum and carer to my three girls, two of whom have a rare genetic condition causing severe disability. My girls have taught me a lot about life, and about thriving through adversity. They are now grown up and growing up, and my care role has lessened, leaving me the space to make sense of the decades of caring for others, and realise that in doing so I not only forgot to fit my own oxygen mask first, I often didn’t fit it at all. This resulted in me becoming ill, in a variety of ways, and should we meet one day (which I hope we do), we can chat more about the difficulties we can face if we don’t consider our own needs, and don’t practise self-care.

My saving grace during these intensive caring years was the many retreats I attended, when I’d managed to put other care in place for the girls. Supportive family and friends were crucial for this. I understand the difficulties involved in arranging to flee your daily life and commitments, and also the benefits of taking the time to do this. I’ve written on our family notice board for years, as a reminder to myself more than anyone, the much-quoted line from the Mary Oliver poem ‘What is it you plan to do, with your one wild and precious life?’ Whether your dream in life is to succeed in your life’s work, to write the novel you’ve always felt capable of writing, to move towards living your Dharma; or to be the best Self, Mum or Partner you can be – taking time to yourself and investing in your own well-being and self-care is vital. Amongst other things, one crucial thing I plan to do with my one wild and precious life is to create retreat experiences for other women that may help them heal, laugh, feel empowered, care for themselves and others and be cared for. My dream would be to help others on their journey towards realising their dreams, to connect or reconnect with the fire in their bellies, to turn adversity into opportunity, and to enjoy respite from busy lives. I invite you to come and join Wild Willow Women and move towards finding what it is you need right now; be it peace, your Mojo, your Dharma, the spark to your journey to health and wellbeing, or the spark to your creativity. I invite you to invest in your self as you move in to a new season of your life.

I am an honest, empathetic, loving individual. I have gathered together an amazing team of very experienced, qualified practitioners to make sure you have the best possible experience from your Wild Willow Retreat. We are honest, heart-led, authentic women with a host of life experiences. Myself, and each practitioner, understands that life is not always easy, and that our bodies or minds don’t always work the way we want them to, and that life throws us challenges. The team gathered to support you on your retreat journey are not only talented and experienced in their fields, they also have a huge variety of life experience and have themselves experienced difficult transitions and a variety of life challenges and adversities.

Why did I choose the name – Wild Willow? My middle daughter is called Willow, and has endured many adverse, beyond tough things in her life (despite being only 14 years old!). The odds for survival were against her when she was born, and for the first year/s. From just a few days after she was born, I could see and feel the wild spirit in her. This was despite her being tiny (2lb 14oz) and in intensive care and ventilated for a month and in hospital most of her first year. I remember saying to my ever supportive mum ‘she’s stubborn’ just from the look in her eyes when she was first born. I don’t know how I knew she would be my most wild child. I bought a Willow tree in advance of her 1st birthday. No matter how much I watered and nurtured it, it kept looking like it wasn’t going to make it. It made it to her first birthday, and on that day it was planted in front of my home. Since then, it has grown so magnificently, it actually uproots the pathways and is completely out of control, if not tenderly tempered. It reminds me that from fragility, powerful things grow. She is my wild Willow, and our tree is my wild Willow. She, and our tree, remind me that when we think things may not live or thrive, they can do quite the opposite.

Along with my academic degrees: MA in English Literature, University of Edinburgh; MSc in Social Research, Strathclyde University; and PhD from the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Edinburgh, I have extensive training and qualifications in a variety of therapeutic, healing, and fitness settings. These include: Jikiden Reiki Practitioner at Shodun (2009, 2013) and Okuden level (2013, with Gisela Stewart); Trained Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (2008, BrainTrain Academy, Edinburgh); Trained Practitioner of Eriksonian Hypnotherapy (2009, BrainTrain Academy); Trained Master Practitioner of NLP and Hypnotic SNLP (2011, Thom Shillaw of Thom Shillaw Methods, Edinburgh); Trained in Fundamental Pilates (2018 and 2019, Brigid McCarthy Pilates, Edinburgh); Trained Yin Yoga Teacher (2023, Gem Maryam, Glasgow). 

My experience with therapeutic, healing, and fitness trainings and practices I believe compliments my support and care work in the community prior to having my girls, and also my academic qualitative work (spanning over two decades) which involved listening to and seeking to make sense of the lived experience of mothers and fathers who have had difficult life journeys and experienced significant adversity and on-going challenges, as well as work on a variety of academic projects that involved working closely with adults, children and young people and making sure their views were heard.

I am an empathetic explorer of humankind who brings passion, enthusiasm, kindness, love and determination to all her endeavours. I have been carrying out Lovefield Leadership Retreat Training (with HolyMama) and I step into this new endeavour with a genuine desire to provide a supportive, safe space for women to be themselves. I invite you to come and join us, to be heard, supported and nurtured, and to gift yourself the time and love you deserve. Come as you are; you are welcome with an open heart and a wee bit of wild.

About Wild Willow Retreats

The first ever Wild Willow Retreat in September 2024 is perfectly balanced in the liminal space between summer and autumn, encompassing not only a full moon but also the Autumn equinox. The idea of the retreats being a kind of ‘magical mystery tour of the self’ came to me during a gong bath meditation (led by Jo McCoy) and has evolved since then. I have huge gratitude for the team of practitioners, all talented and highly experienced in their fields, who have joined to support you on your Wild Willow Retreat journey. Along with myself, they will lovingly hold space for you. You are in the good hands of the trustworthy, loving, empathetic, and dedicated women (and your Chef and crucial others who are making these retreats possible) who come to this endeavor with honesty, an open heart, and a genuine desire to help you make your world a better place. 

We may live in a world of uncertainty, with increasing global conflict, and be constantly on overdrive; and so the need to care for yourself is even more essential, as it is only in doing so that we may best serve others. Making the world a better place starts with your own wellbeing. Events in the world right now are truly devastating and impact those who care deeply about others. My dream is to support those who care – to care for themselves, so that they can make their own worlds and the worlds of others a better place. From a very young age, as a young child, I became unwell witnessing (albeit from afar) the suffering of others around the world. It has taken me nearly all of my life to learn that we need to be well ourselves to make a difference. Whether it is your own children suffering, or children and others around the world suffering, your own self-care and gifting yourself time to invest in your own wellbeing, your dreams and possibilities for the future, is vital. In nourishing and healing your own body, mind and soul, and discovering or rediscovering your dreams in a safe, supportive setting and as part of a like-minded community, you can soar. As the saying goes, almost everything works again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Imagine what can be achieved or realised if you unplug yourself for even longer; and explore, create, meditate, rest, play and heal for a week. Join me in the dream and journey to true self-care, in a magical mystery tour of your self. 

IMG 5084
IMG 5083
90ACB4AE 2E05 443C A09F 6388DC6CFC1E edited
IMG 5082
IMG 5070 1
IMG 5052 edited