At 32 I had single-handedly created a Burlesque dance school across Essex and Herts, and had trained a team of tutors who ran classes and workshops for me.
What began as my once-a-week ‘Burlesque Jems’ side project grew over the next four years to include weekend hen parties and specialist workshops, performances, solo mentoring for new performers, a few Burlesque Glamourpuss retreat weekends a year and a tutor team supporting me in spreading the empowering work of burlesque.
Women were really benefiting from the classes and I was seeing them grow before my eyes; from their first tentative steps through the studio door in sportswear, to a few months later ending up on stage dancing confidently in nothing but a thong and nipple covers.
My classes were about allowing women that weekly time to play with those saucy and sexy aspects of themselves that they couldn’t take elsewhere, in a judgement free space which was held with love. With this much success, exposure and empowering work, suddenly it was as if I had a celebrity status amongst my women.
Of course with every 100 women who loved me, there was a few that somehow turned to haters. I’m not too sure even how these happened, but I believe when someone puts so much trust in you, they decide they already know your character and actions, and when my behaviour failed to meet their expectations I fell from the rather tall pedestal they had put me on.
But I kept going – by this point I was working like a dog, no longer having any time for self-nurture, I’d employed a great PA to assist me and we were rushed off our feet – the business started running itself. I had got it to a stage that it was sustainable, but I was about to burn out.
It was this point, after a particularly nasty exchange with two of my ‘haters’, that an evening of unstoppable shaking took over my body and the migraines began…and…ultimately lead to my brain surgery a month later. Cancer had found its way in over a sustained period of no self-love, and was reaching its climax.