WORDS, WALKS, WISDOM
Local writer and businesswoman Wendy Bowers tells Lauren Molyneux all about her journey of rediscovery and the inspiration it has provided for her new book
It isn’t every day that you find yourself at the doorstep of a Buddhist monastery in Scotland as you evaluate the journey you have made through life, but for Clitheroe-born Wendy Bowers this is exactly what her career as a high-flying businesswoman culminated in.
Laura, the eldest of Wendy’s four children, decided to take matters into her own hands after realising that her mum was utterly overworked. Burned out and exhausted from a life of managing her own business, winning awards, travelling, becoming the UK’s first Ambassador for Women’s Enterprise and sitting on national boards, while also managing to raise a family and care for her mother, Wendy was encouraged into a week-long stay at the monastery in the hope that the escape from daily life would revitalise her and draw her back from breaking point.
“Two major things happened during my stay at the monastery,” explains Wendy. “On the first night I couldn’t sleep, so I began reading a book from their library. It was the biography of a nun who had lived there and it contained some of her poetry. One particular poem, Gnosis, had such a powerful effect on me and forced me to realise that searching for success ‘out there’ was all wrong – true fulfilment comes from within. Her words triggered entirely new thinking for me, and I began to realise that the goals I had been setting for myself had been all wrong.”
“A few days later I met a woman who was spending just one day there. Her name was Jenny, and the conversation I had with her was extremely inspirational. She made me think about the way I had been living my life, the way I was working, and she made me believe I could change.”
Wendy’s epiphany led to her taking a huge step and she began to work from home. After giving up her staff and her offices, she embarked on her journey to become a HeartMath practitioner and continued to pay regular visits to the monastery where her life goals had been so drastically altered. Now, after a long period of discovery and healing, her own business, ROLE, sees Wendy working alongside some amazing partners to share her learning with women who need to slow down, de-stress, stop feeling guilty and appreciate life.
“After my first visit to the monastery I began to write letters to Jenny. They were designed to document my progress in altering my state of mind and the process of writing was also therapeutic for me, but I never sent them. I had the idea to compile them into a book when I realised the good that others may gain from them. Words, Walks, Wisdom charts my journey from overwhelmed to overjoyed and also features some of my poetry.”
Having prevented herself from falling over the edge and with a completely revised plan for her life in mind, Wendy now manages several campaigns to provide support and inspiration to women of all ages.
“Oysters & Pearls is a programme I run for girls and young women in schools and colleges who may not necessarily be aware of the opportunities that lay waiting for them. The days are designed to build self-confidence, change perceptions and encourage communication, and we get a panel of inspirational women who are successful in varying careers and other aspects of life to come and provide talks and exercises. The days are always so much fun and afterwards some of the girls even keep in touch and gain a mentor.”
“After such a life-changing experience I also wanted to do something to reach out to the women who are living my old life. In April I launched STOP, which is a programme providing retreats for women who are overworked like I was and need time to recuperate from the stresses of everyday life.”
Wendy’s STOP retreats feature workshops for leadership, acting classes centred around communication, guided walks, HeartMath classes and opportunities for reflection, all in tranquil surroundings that allow visitors to return to nature.
“I wanted the women to return home with a new understanding of how stress and conflict is impacting them and how to respond to that in a different way. We teach techniques for mindfulness and how it can be used in the workplace and provide guidance to help them make advances in their careers but also teach them to love themselves.”
“It’s so important to remember that you cannot pour water from an empty jug, and nothing in life is worth burning yourself out over. I want to remind people to stay healthy and strong, and this is all about reconnecting with yourself. Even if Words, Walks, Wisdom helps just one person, I would be so happy with that.”
The next Oysters & Pearls day is due to be held at Blackburn College on 19th November and Wendy is inviting women with a story to tell to take part. To find out how you can get involved, visit: www.wendybowers.co.uk