zena me

The Lost Elders and The One That Sees

I was born at home in North Manchester. My Dad was a detective, and my Mum was a primary school teacher. I’m the youngest daughter, and I have an older brother.

I was the youngest child in the extended family too. We were a tight-knit community, where one set of Grandparents lived at the top of our street and the others at the bottom, my mother’s sister and family the street behind.

The community I grew up in in the 1970s was very colourful

and full of creative and eccentric characters. When I was around 5, my best friend’s Dad, Barry, asked if I’d like to attend musical theatre school in Manchester. I loved performing and I loved my community and the streets where I lived. I also loved school and learning and the familiar rhythms of school life, and the community rituals of Sunday School and the Pagan Festivals.

When I was eight I came joint top of the year out of 64 children at the local primary school. I was labelled ‘clever’, which initially I loved, but it quickly led to me becoming separate and isolated as I stood out and was seen as ‘different’, even in my own family.

Within weeks my Dad, without warning, decided to take me out of my local school and community and whisked me into private education, which was outside the area, which meant that I now had to get on a public bus on my own.

Here I was, living on a working-class housing estate in North Manchester, and I was the only one going to private school wearing a ‘posh’ uniform which included a black felt hat, white gloves, and a briefcase.

I didn't belong anywhere. Not in my family and not in my community.

And now, I stand out in my community, and I’m seen as different. Plus, I’m going to this private school full of middle-class ‘posh’ kids that I just didn’t fit in with.

I didn’t belong anywhere. Not in my family and not in my community. Not in the private school. I quickly began to experience terrible bullying. My old friends excluded me, and I felt isolated from my family and at the new school. Dancing lessons and performing stopped, and I was now under pressure to deliver the results. It was overwhelming.

I had no words, no ability to talk about it. No voice. A complete lack of being able to express what was going on inside. I was also in a double bind, a no-win situation.

I couldn’t say how hard it was for me because I’d be letting my Dad down and seen as being ungrateful. 

Eventually, I found a way out. I joined a local church and put my name down for the church school where I wanted to go, which is where some of my old school friends were going (and where I was originally expecting to go).

I managed to persuade my Dad that I wanted to leave, and thankfully, I was offered a place. It was the worst and hardest three years of my young life.

The painful, traumatic experiences growing up made me sensitive to the social environment. The experience led to me having a deep curiosity about human behaviour and self-improvement.

At the age of 20, I became a Trainer for the Police, where I discovered personal development.

I became aware that I had a finely tuned intuition which enabled me to successfully lead groups and navigate challenging social dynamics.

The political environment I worked in at the Police was tough, particularly for young women, and I gained a reputation for being really insightful around group dynamics.

Being inclusive and creating safe learning environments was important to me. I always tried to create a very strong sense of belonging in the groups and teams I led and made sure no one felt excluded or scapegoated.

Working at such a senior level in power-driven, male-dominated (and often toxic) cultures left me feeling out of capacity, and I burnt out.

At the age of 27, I set up my own consultancy business.

Becoming self-employed gave me real agency. It gave me financial independence and the freedom to be creative and choose who I worked with and the work that I did.

The business took off straight away. Within a year I had secured a number of contracts with blue chip companies working with senior leaders on large change projects. My business career seemed to really take off.

Privately though, I was facing some challenging personal issues. Around this time, many close members of my family died, and one of my dearest friends, Julian, took their own life at the age of 42.

Julian and I had always shared a ‘soul’ connection, and his death led to a ‘spiritual awakening’ for me, subsequently leading to my ‘difficult’ marriage collapsing.

Not long after, I met an old soul mate, and we married and set off on a new path.

This new spiritual awakening led to me changing my work and business direction, and I founded a new business in partnership with another consultant. The vision was to support conscious leaders in finding their authentic purpose and developing their hidden gifts.

Around this same time, I gave birth to my first baby, who was born with a heart problem and sadly, after a year of working on the project, my business partner decided to walk away.

This came at a difficult time for me. I’d invested everything in this new venture and our partnership and now I had to go it alone with a poorly baby to look after and a new business to build. It really felt like a dark night of the soul.

This took me to a deep place. I began soul searching, asking myself: Who am I? And Why am I here?

To manage this difficult time, I learned to become very ‘present’ by focusing on being in the moment and listening deeply to my intuition. I began to write a morning journal and practised ‘free writing’ to tune into my felt sense and the emerging future. I knew now I was clairsentient and clairvoyant, and I began to use these gifts more consciously.

A number of synchronistic events unfolded, which led to me meeting Dadi Janki, the leader of the largest women’s spiritual movement and one of the UN’s 9 Keepers of Peace. I was invited to be part of a Global group of Women Leaders who represented many different fields.

Previously I’d worked in male-dominated environments; however, what was emerging was a need for me to open up more consciously to my ‘feminine’ energy, which felt like a completely new experience to me. I also needed to find my authentic ‘voice’.

What began to (re)emerge was my love of being creative and films, theatre and performing.

I co-created and performed a one-woman show using the work of Augustus Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, which involved taking the audience on their own inner journey into their own ancestral system to find their deeper purpose by exploring their history, the place they came from and their heart’s longing.

I felt I was working in a different space. A more heart-centred space. 

The show led me to revisit some old ‘hidden’ wounds in my family system and particularly around narcissism and covert narcissism.

During this time, I was asked to be a tutor on the High-Performance Leadership Programme at Cranfield Business School. The long-established programme took corporate leaders on a ‘Rite of Passage’ to explore a higher conscious approach to leadership. As Tutors on the programme, we acted as ‘Wise Elders’ and ‘Guides’, taking the leaders on a ‘Hero’s Journey to connect to their deeper purpose.

I began to study Family and Business Constellations to understand where the hidden patterns emerged from in human relationship systems. This led me to research unresolved trauma and how it created hidden and complex patterns that get passed down through time and generations, and I began to understand that this didn’t start with me.

I found myself becoming less entangled in the systems I operated in and feeling more power (ful). I felt more energised and focused and had greater agency. I started to build new heart-centred relationships and a community for my life and my work.

 

This felt like a ‘homecoming’, a place of belonging. I was no longer trying to fit in in order to belong; I was free to be who I really was.

For the past eighteen years, I have documented my journey by writing a daily journal and have turned my learning into an established Eldership Programme as a guide for other leaders and Exec Coaches who are on their own Rite of Passage to Elderhood.

Through my deepening practice of constellations and the releasing of old trauma, I learned to integrate my mind, body and spirit and become more embodied. 

As a result, I now own and express those exiled parts of myself, specifically my gifts of clairsentience and clairvoyance. These gifts mean that I can be a trusted Guide for those select leaders who are called to go on the journey to explore and reconnect with their own Ancestry. So they, too, can become an Elder in their Families, Organisations and Communities and build a new and better world for Future Generations.

Shortly after separating from the systems, I’d belonged to, I became ill with pneumonia. I knew this was my body’s way of helping me connect with the deep grief that I was experiencing. During my healing, I became drawn to this symbol, which was part of a unique jewellery collection by Vivienne Westwood.

When I researched the symbol, I discovered that the Orb (at the top of the ring) symbolised ‘The Defender of the Faith, which I translated into ‘Universal Truths’.

The Himalayan mask was a shamanic symbol and represented “the one that sees”.

The Shaman accesses hidden patterns that lie below the surface of awareness through their tacit knowledge (the unconscious place where we don’t know what we don’t know) and helps restore the broken connections that hinder the flow of information between them.

According to Oscar Miro-Quesada, a Peruvian Shaman and Psychologist, the function of the Shaman are to:

“Work with seen and unseen worlds with the intention to heal and restore harmony among people, social institutions and nature”

…Which beautifully articulates my deeper purpose as an Elder.

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