My journey to self care + empowering others to make their own rules

dionne my journey to self care

Over the last 25 years i've had a few different careers (that intersected across media + arts), as well as worked in a fair few different spaces and places. From the UK to the Caribbean, the south of France, Monaco, Barcelona, Norway and beyond. Before starting my own business, i've mostly been in media, radio, music, film, wellness and arts, but in between, there have definitely been some sprinkles of randomness like:

  • working on a superyacht in Monaco hosting guests at ridiculous parties and cleaning up bodily fluids (don't ask...or do!)
  • "acting*" (*read: eating pizza) on the rooftops of Dublin for a music video
  • presenting for a grime music channel in East London wearing a sequin bolero
  • serving terrible cortados and Irish whiskeys in Bergen, Norway
  • talking to gallons of cheerful engineers on the London Underground from Canary Wharf
  • serving saltfish and rice and peas and toothpaste (not together) from a store in the eastern Caribbean
  • working in a call centre and writing a book (simultaneously)
  • scrubbing lots of toilets and sweeping lots of floors (in most places past + present)

...it's certainly not been boring and i'm grateful for it all! To some, this synopsis of my CV might seem absurd, but to me, it interconnects. Because...

1) I learned a lot about humans.
From the richest to the least affluent. How business run and about work culture. How people take care of themselves or not. I've seen humans from all kinds of perspectives. And it made me constantly reflect on how i wanted to show up in the world... 

2) It's continuously pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Often, i was told people like me couldn't do most of these things, so i shouldn't hope for much, therefore i felt it was imperative to go out there and do it anyway. It made me unafraid to start again -or embarrassed to begin from scratch and work my way to where i want to be. I'm grateful to have fearlessly plunged into a number of careers.

3) It's gifted me with skills and broadened my perspective. 
Ok, some of the skills might seem a little random but they have come in surprisingly useful! I questioned many of the "rules" around how you had to perform and ways you had to do things just because "that's how it's always been done". It made me curious. Reflective. Aware of my privilege. Purposeful. Because i've always felt you can "do you", being kind and encouraging to others no matter were you are or what you are doing. PS that also taught me about boundaries, cause you don't have to be a pushover just because you care about others.

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WORK-WORK-WORK-WORK-BURNOUT

dionne by Emma Croman

As most working class children of immigrants know, you’re taught from birth that you have to work twice as hard to get anywhere in life. I was warned that being of mixed heritage and (also) self-identifying as Black was provocative. Hair, skin and body, political. Taboo. The shame. As a teen, my teacher echoed the caution, warning me i'd need to work three times as hard simply because I was a woman and a person of colour. I guess this mantra has deep roots.

It was clear that there were spaces i wasn’t supposed to inhabit. The glass ceilings felt claustrophobic. Rules around what rooms i was allowed in have followed me into adulthood and fuelled my fire. 

Underlying everything was a need to somehow prove i was enough. Capable. Worthy...or something. But it compromised my physical and mental health.

In my 20s and 30s i experienced numerous burnouts accompanied by old friends anxiety and depression. I moved houses over 20 times in six years. Changing countries, cities and small towns in the process. Of the list of countless jobs and careers, i juggled many simultaneously to, you know, “survive”. I learned to graft from a young age, my first job at 11 and finally starting my own business aged 30. I wanted to prove that we can choose to exist wherever we want to. Create what stirs or soothes us.  

I'm not afraid to start again. I've done it many times in my life. Lost everything. Was close to breaking. But knew deep down there was something more for me. And i want to help others to connect to that for themselves.

It has driven me. To deepen my own explorations around self care, Otherness, trauma and mental health using art, wellness and creativity as my mediums. To strive to create spaces that are inclusive and accessible. To be an encourager. To support people to feel empowered to make their own rules, and to live their own life in ways that feel good.

Sometimes it’s difficult to explain to people what i do, as i run numerous projects relating to yoga, wellness, creativity, coaching, self care, writing and music both here, in Norway and beyond (thanks internet!).

But the mission that connects it all is to facilitate ways for people to feel empowered to design a life that feels good, whilst sustainably implementing their own real-life self care strategies into their everyday.

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I've created events that use spaces that weren't often used for yoga/music projects, i've taken over art museums and culture houses and fro-yo warehouses and chicken shops and schools and offices and basically anywhere that let me in to hold events combining wellness, personal development, yoga, music, art and self care, trying to challenge stereotypes and expectations around these subjects. For me at least, it makes sense that they overlap, and sometimes there is this weird snootiness that tries to keep them exclusive and inaccessible. I want to continue to break down those walls and create spaces and environments and experiences for people to feel empowered and to feel better, to cultivate community and connect good people.

It can be political to be a woman of colour leading and sharing these kinds of offerings, especially because i use non-standard physical and online spaces. But to me it makes sense, deconstructing and redefining boundaries and spaces too. It’s political to be a polymath. To not fit into a box. But hopefully that’s changing. And i want to support others to redefine and design their own lives that feel good - balanced, real and meaningful.

Everybody deserves access to transformational tools that are authentic and accessible and it's my mission to empower other humans to adapt and “take home” these techniques so they can create their own versions of self care in creative and sustainable ways.

So, interested in stepping forward into the life you deserve? Let's move beyond burnout and overwhelm and all the noise from the "rules" that clutter your path. Get clear and find your flow and design a life that feels good,  is meaningful and impactful and dare i say, joyful (whilst creating your own rules along the way). Join me and let's do this together! 


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 📷 Images by Emma Croman + Ketil Kinden Endresen 💕