In 2010 I woke up!
Steve Hill Photography
It was an extremely difficult time for me, because I lost almost everything, including my life. But it's in adverse times we grow and learn, even though we don't see it at the time.
In a book called 'How to be Compassionate' by the Dalia Lama he speaks about his own life.
"In my own life, the most difficult periods have been the times when I have gained the most knowledge and experience."
And I say I lost almost everything, because what remained after being stripped of all the superficial garbage that I perceived for nearly thirty years to be the key to all happiness was me - my true authentic self.
Steve Hill Photography
I lost my job as a top sales executive with a British brand leader, my company car, wardrobe of designer clothes and shoes, credit cards, my home and consequently my self-respect, because I placed all this material stuff above everything else. How I thought I needed to be, how I thought I needed to look in society had somehow become the focus of my life and sadly this self centred approach of my this, my that, my body, my car, my promotion, affects so many of us, galvanised by years of cleverly constructed marketing, engineered by banks and large corporate businesses to make huge profits.
What baffles me the most about this time is how I couldn't see that my constant bouts of severe depression, anxiety, stress, low self esteem and debt - a consequence of my spending addiction, were all painting a completely different picture - and it wasn't happiness!
I owe my life to nature and wildlife, which is one of the reasons I made the decision to set up the campaign 'A Compassionate Voice' It was at my most desperate time, nature and wildlife reopened my heart and reminded me who I truly was. The little girl who wouldn't shoo a pigeon, who spent most Sunday afternoon's picnicking in the Derbyshire countryside, who grew up and even during her façade still couldn't tread on a spider and who is passionate about the welfare of every damn creature on this planet. From the abhorrent slaughter and captivity of dolphins in Taiji, Japan,the plight of African elephants killed for their tusks, the horrendous bear bile farms in China,the increasing cruelty endured by farm animals and the inhumane and unnecessary badger culling on my own back door.
Passionate, but being heavily influenced by a possession led mentality; I didn't consider that I could possibly help to make a difference. We can all make a difference - by bringing the changes into our lives that we wish to see in the world and then inspiring others to do the same.
However, judgement doesn't help, because no one is perfect and there isn't one country who can point the finger at another, without three fingers pointing back. The persecution and cruelty of so many beautiful creatures is worldwide! And the reason why? Far too many decisions are triggered from the mind, from the ego's perspective, rather than from the heart and we need to help to turn this around. Decisions made solely from the mind encourages greed, competition and power, which is why we have animals sadly labelled as commodities, entertainment tools, pests, trophies and targets, rather than the sentient beings that they are, who feel fear, pain and stress just like we do!
But I repeat - we have to be the change we wish to see, so that others will be inspired to follow and the only way we can do that is from the heart. The only way is to be the purveyors of compassion and kindness, which coincidently is also the cure for hatred and the instigator of happiness!
"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." ~ Dalai Lama
We live in a society fixated by status, competition and consumerism, yet it's through this type of thinking we can so easily become attached to a particular person, situation or object, believing this will open the door to a more fulfilling and happier life. The bigger house, the faster car, the next job promotion, or relationship - whatever external entity we perceive to be the conveyor of instantaneous happiness is merely a distraction - unless we are at peace with ourselves.
I found my peace in nature! At a crossroads, I had no idea how I was going to turn things around. A few years on though and my work as an inspirational speaker is not only helping others to overcome their personal hurdles, not only helping to raise awareness regarding the importance of nature and wildlife to our well-being, not only allowing me to be a voice for the voiceless, but most importantly, it has enriched my life in ways I could never imagined.
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We are all connected to nature and wildlife, equally though, we are all connected to each other. For me, unity, compassion and kindness is the only way we will ever see positive changes in the world we live - Be that change!