Love what you do

I love what I do. I am an acupuncturist. And have been for 10 years now.

I wasn’t one of those kids that knew what I wanted to do when I was younger. I didn’t even know what acupuncture was until I was in my 20’s.

I left home at aged 19. And never looked back. I did a degree that was completely useless to me. All the jobs I had after that did not require a degree. But it was my ticket out of Wales and The Valleys. Most youngsters either got married or went away to University, or Polytechnic.

At school, I was really good at English, Maths and Art. The teachers kept on trying to encourage me to do subjects that went together more. I resisted that. Stuck to what I was good at.

Then when I left school, I had a mean A level teacher who held up my art work one day announcing to the class,

“This is an example of how not to do it.”

I was mortified and unfortunately, it put me off doing any art for 20 years.

Imagine that… Shelving one of your passions for all that time! It happens.

Looking back, I realise that that teacher had given up on her dreams. The impact, call it whatever you like rippled out.

20 years later, I went on a quest to learn to tattoo after my love of art and passion for the Far East in Thailand was sparked. I trained with an ex Monk in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, practising most days on pig skin brought from the market. The closest thing to human skin. When I came back to the UK I searched for an apprenticeship in tattooing. A tattooist in South London told me to go away and tattoo myself as much as possible for practice. I didn’t do that!

One visit to an acupuncturist, whilst I was looking to change my career.  Was all it took. I was really curious about this strange practice that I hadn’t experience before. I asked the acupuncturist lots of questions. He said it wasn’t easy to learn. That got my curiosity even more. I remember walking back through North London really noticing all the trees an d being really in touch with nature and the elements.

I went on a couple of Open Days at Acupuncture Schools. Susannah Dowie the Principal of the School I eventually went to gave me a treatment on the open day. She was spot on. On point as they say. Ha! It didn’t matter what she said. I knew the school was for me. I was on a complete high that evening. The same feeling I had  after doing my first tattoo. Completely EXHILIRATED!

From tattooing to acupuncture. Same or different? It’s similar in that it takes an enormous amount of trust to allow some one to tattoo you, more than to acupuncture needle you.

Both of them are very healing. I know some people use tattoos to mark special occasions like births of their babies or death of their loved ones. Acupuncture is very balancing on an internal level. You can’t see the effect but the person knows how they feel. They always feel better.

I was TOTALLY BLOWN away this year, when I visited Chiang Mai again. We met up with some friends and as we were leaving the restaurant. I said to my partner,

“I would really love to show you the tattoo shop that I used to go to.”

We meandered along the road.

My daughter announced she wanted to get a tuk tuk, one of her favourite activities in Thailand.

My partner hailed one.

I sat in the back looking at snippets of the tuk tuk drivers profile in his side view rear mirror. All the time I’m thinking it can’t be him. The first guy I ever tattooed. But somewhere, all the fibers of my being knew it was him.

Love that. What are the chances? The synchronicity. Serendipity. Wonderful.

I know in lots of ways I have been tremendously fortunate to be able to pursue my dreams and explore different avenues of work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

athomas Family, Inspiration

Gratitude

What am I grateful for? Where do I start? I am on the last day of a trip I took to Thailand. I had planned to be here for 5-6 weeks.

I got the dreaded call, nobody wants to get.

Not quite the middle of the night.

My father had passed away ‘peacefully’ – thankfully.

I will always be grateful for that. And that he passed on the same date as my Mother.

Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s only about 18 months ago. But, for a few years we wondered what was going on with his health. He seemed to age all of a sudden very quickly & looking back he had started to struggle to do things that were once easy. He was a mathematician at heart and in his early days of marriage to my Mum, he trained as an electrician in the evenings. As my Mum tells it, he would physically work hard during the day. But, happily take himself off to night school. He was clever. Always had been. He could have gone to University but, chose to marry my mother instead. Mum was only 17 when she got married, he liked to joke that she left home with only a carrier bag in tow. He had a sharp sense of humour. He worked hard.

His persistence, dedication & focus to achieve the goals he set out for himself and his young family. In 1972, with 2 young children in tow Bobby & Jackie left the Valleys. It was pretty unheard of in those days for people to even go to London. So, to head to the Middle East was incredibly adventurous. I still remember waking up in Saudi Arabia in the middle of the night, hearing some strange noises I had not heard before. I thought it was crickets. Lizards probably. Bob worked for A.R.A.M.C.O – Arabian American Company of Oil. Was & still is a very prestigious company & in those days it was responsible for building a lot of the infrastructure in Saudi. I didn’t know that then of course. I was aged 2, my brother was 1. My days consisted of hard tasks like swimming every day in the glorious sunshine, playing naked outside in our enclosed camp with cockroaches & lizards. It was a lot of fun. My Dad worked away all week in the desert & came home on week-ends. We were part of the ex-pat community. When we travelled around, a lot of times people would rush up to us wanting to touch our hair. Most had never seen hair like that before. Long. & bleached white blonde in those days. On weekends the ex-pats would always get together. Parties galore – everyone taking turns to host. My brother & I loved it when it was at our house as we got to stay up a bit later. Everyone was in good spirits. Literally. Bob was quick to build a distillery to make ‘booze’ in the back of the house. We were given strict instructions not to allow any kids back there. My brother Russell would enjoy ‘standing guard’ telling the kids they weren’t allowed back there. Dad had a friend called Harry who introduced Bob to the world of Sidiki. It wasnt long befor Bob had mastered the tecnique & Harry was always curious about how he could make the alcohol a lot more quickly. The innovator in him had ingeniously thought of a way to speed up the process. He used a washing machine, the old Hoover type – he used this to heat up the the mixture first. It drove Harry mad as he couldn’t work out how Bob was speeding up the process. He would call by ‘on the off chance.’ The ‘monkey’ in Dad loved to play in that way.

I guess it’s ok to tell this story now, as Harry will be well gone himself by now.

Memories. Lovely memories. And immense gratitude for having had such a lovely Dad.

For You Dad

In the end,

there is no You,

In the end, there is no Us,

In the end, it is always the way it was meant to be,

In the end, it just is.

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Life is so incredibly precious. Enjoy!