I started out in life as the proverbial wallflower. I was shy, quiet, incredibly self-conscious and lacking in confidence.
That is until I found a way to break out of my shell and acquire some of the skills that the most successful people naturally have.
As a result, I have achieved things that would simply be impossible if I hadn’t come out of my hidey-hole. See below for more about my story, including photos and videos of how I did it.
“You’re never an introvert”
When people meet me these days, they find it hard to believe I was once a shy introvert. In fact, the first thing they say to me is “You’re never an introvert” – because I appear to be more outgoing than most, very comfortable on stage and in front of an audience, and somewhat of a free spirit.
And then they wonder how on earth I managed to effect such a thorough transformation. Since being an introvert is something that you’re supposed to be stuck with. There’s no cure for being an introvert!
Best of both worlds
Well, I am still an introvert, and very happy that I am. I wouldn’t want to stop being one, because there are many wonderful things about being introverted.
I now feel I have the best of both worlds – the ability to go within and think and experience things deeply, and the ability also to be outgoing, expressive and social.
The Sunflower Effect
I am on a mission to improve the lives of quiet, shy and introverted people. I don’t want anyone to go through what I did. I started up Making Moves in 1997 and over that time have developed a fast and effective system, The Sunflower Effect.
Over the years, my courses have enabled many hundreds of people to free themselves of these disadvantages and develop a natural self-confidence. It has transformed their lives.
Some people achieve this in an incredibly short amount of time; for others, it can take a little longer. It has been my greatest pleasure to support them through their journey and watch them change their lives.
Here’s more about my story and how I got to where I am
Be aware that’s it’s a long read.
I was a quiet, shy, introverted child. We lived in flats where childhood noise was not liked, and my mother says that she deliberately repressed both my sister and me from a very young age. We were so good and so well behaved that teachers used to comment on it. There was something unsettling about having such good, well-behaved children.
The photo was taken when I was 13 but looked more like a nine-year-old – I felt as awkward as I ever had.
I had to do something about my shyness
Shyness followed me into my early twenties.
My first career was in nursing because as a shy introvert, I didn’t think I was capable of doing anything else. But I was a square peg in a round hole, and I was miserable. I staggered from one depression to another and was making myself ill.
I got to the point where I knew I had to do something about my shyness.
How I did it?
It didn’t happen overnight…. it happened over a period of time. And it didn’t happen because I had any special gifts or abilities. In fact, I was for most of the time, stumbling blindly in the dark.
Through a series of coincidences, I became involved in drama at university, where I discovered that drama naturally built confidence. In a relatively short amount of time, my shyness became a thing of the past. (See my full story in my book From Wallflower to Sunflower.)
See also this video:
I speak more about my journey from Shyness in this Facebook live: Say goodbye to living your life on the sidelines. It’s about 30 mins long.
Undoing negative programming
Drama enabled me to come out of my introverted hidey-hole and undo the negative programming that had kept me locked away in my shell.
And for the most part it was relatively easy and highly enjoyable.
A career in theatre
However, after building my confidence through drama, much to my surprise, I found myself pursuing a career in the theatre – something I would never have dreamed of doing.
In my theatre career, every acting role enabled me to explore and develop new aspects of myself, and that was empowering. It enabled me too to free up parts of myself that I had suppressed for years. And it was fun.
Saying goodbye to social anxiety
In the course of this, I came across the improvisation techniques of Keith Johnstone and Viola Spolin. On top of the discovery that improvisation was nothing like I thought it was, improvisation released creativity in me that I never knew I had. Along with this, my social anxiety disappeared. My whole life, my confidence in myself, and what I believed I could achieve, began to open up.
(This is why I also run the “I don’t know what to say” improvisation course because this is the most effective way of building social confidence and developing many other aspects of self-expression.)
And I discovered much to my amazement that there were so many gifts locked away inside me – gifts I never knew I had.
Because as an introvert, these gifts were all held within me. And there they would have stayed if I hadn’t have found a way of getting them out of me.
The power of achievement
It is powerful to achieve things. It builds self-respect and confidence. Because the fact is, we live in an extroverted world and that isn’t easy for most introverts.
I have achieved all kinds of things as an introvert which I would never have thought possible if I hadn’t discovered drama.
La Dame de Flamme
One of these was creating my solo fire-eating act “La Dame de Flamme, the fire-eating ballerina” which I performed on the alternative comedy circuit. I was featured in women’s magazines and on the radio. I also performed at a Royal Function attended by H.M. the Queen.
Becoming a playwright
Sometime after this, I started writing my first play. Suddenly I could write with ease, even though for years I had been blocked. The play seemed to be writing itself.
Much later, I realised that all the improvisation work, had freed me from the self-imposed restrictions of a lifetime, and I could finally let my ideas flow.
Later on, this play, CORYVRECKAN, was produced at the Old Red Lion Theatre in London, an extraordinary experience for me. Not only did I see my play enacted by a talented and committed cast, but I also had two agents who wanted to represent me. One was Margaret Ramsay, at that time, the most famous agent for stage writers.
The play went on to be nominated for three awards in the London Fringe Theatre 1991 Awards, and Julia Tarnoky won Best Actress (pictured with the award and publicity). She considers her role in CORRVRECKAN, as some of the best work of her career.
I won an Arts Council award for Corryvreckan and had other plays performed too.
Founding Making Moves
Years later, when I trained as a dramatherapist, I was able to bring all of these experiences together. The drama had liberated me to be true to myself, and the extensive personal development work I had done, had given me insight and understanding.
I founded Making Moves and over time, developed the Sunflower Effect. I soon realised I had hit on a highly effective system that was radically changing the lives of quieter people.
Raising my profile
I’ve given presentations at large-scale events including the Women’s International Networking Conference in Rome, and run programmes in business for advertising professionals, CEO’s, Organizational Development Consultants and Innovators etc.
In 2017 my book From Wallflower to Sunflower, the quiet person’s path to natural self-confidence was published, which explains how the Sunflower Effect works.
It is now my mission to make the Sunflower Effect more available so that more people can benefit.
How I work
My style is open and encouraging, allowing each individual to emerge from their shell at their own pace and in their own way. Laughter and humour is an important part of the process.
I share openly about my own life and experiences: as one who has been through many dark places in my life, I have come out the other side stronger and with a renewed zest for life.
I continue to pursue my growth bringing back what I have learned to the groups and individuals I work with.
These are some of the things people have said about the way I work, which at one time I would have been too embarrassed to put on my website!
She is very intuitive and sensitive to the needs and dynamics of the work. And fun to work with. Open-minded, great inner strength, expertise and professionalism. She creates a very deep space for a wide range of emotions to be re-experienced and expressed in a safe way, allowing people the time and space to do that.”
You are a marvellously ego-less workshop leader. You empowered a bunch of potential starts to twinkle and shine – I ended up feeling like a 1000 watt light bulb.”
Scilla Elsworthy, Author and Director of Oxford CND
A wonderful transparency. No apparent difficulty in being with whatever is happening. Deep understanding of everyone’s process and full acknowledgement of where we were.”
J.W. Communications Coach
Here’s some more detail about my training, qualifications and background.
I am registered with HCPC – the Health and Care Professionals Council, as well as a Member of BADth (the British Association of Dramatherapists)
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Inspiring stories of the people whose lives have been transformed by my approach.
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