It was a gorgeous summers day in July, with blue skies overhead, as I hopped in the car to drive over to Haney’s Holistic Well-being, to interview Carol Dodson for this blog.
I’ve known Carol for a few years now. We first met at a workshop, and she has featured throughout my journey to discovering more about being truly me. I had never considered meditating until I met Carol, and through her guided meditation groups I was hooked. I would love to say it’s a daily practice, however that’s still work in progress.
Taking tea in her tranquil treatment room, set in the garden of her Wiltshire home, we talked about her journey, and how she now helps to nurture and guide others to heal and follow a path of self-discovery. One that is more about being truly them.
It was an absolute privilege to interview her, so grab yourself some tea and take a seat to just be for a moment to read Carols fascinating story.
Carol, I would love for you to share just a little of your story, and what first fascinated you about holistic therapies.
Sometimes I wonder myself, as it was quite the leap from my publishing career. Like chalk and cheese really.
However, looking back as a little girl I always was intuitive about people or situations, but didn’t really understand my feelings, or know what to do with information that used to come to me.
I loved the mystical, angels, stories of the spirit world, crystals and magic! Taught religion didn’t satisfy my questions about the Universe or the part I could play in shaping and creating my own life.
I kind of fell into publishing after completing my English degree. I was drawn to magazines, newspapers, and books, and I loved it! I got to travel and see a bit of the world. It was an exciting, crazy time and I really didn’t tire of it.
I loved living and working in London and loved the industry and all the exciting people I met. It really was a fulfilling time for me and looking back I feel privileged to have had the career I did.
It was only after getting married and having my children that I realised I wanted to be at home and be a Mum, not a part time Mum. I had several miscarriages after having Ollie, so when Grace came along 5 years later, I knew I wanted to cherish this very special time with my children, as they are not a God given right, but a gift.
It was when the children were both at school, I remember talking to my husband about what to do with myself for the few hours I had during the day. I loved the odd coffee morning but knew this would not fulfil me.
I started dabbling in different things and took myself off on courses in the evenings and some weekends. I found things that fascinated me, like meditation and energy healing. I had meditated on and off since I was in my teens, so it seemed a natural direction to take.
From making perfume from rose petals in the garden as a child, I’d always loved natural smells too ( although I have to say my early attempts were pretty disastrous) and I got interested in things like Neal’s Yard Remedies and started to play around with essential oils.
I loved it so much I decided to study Aromatherapy. As I was studying, I questioned that once I got my diploma, what was I going to do with it? and this prompted me to learn different treatments to offer to clients, using my aromatherapy skills.
Whilst I was studying, my brother sadly had an accident. Paralysed from the neck down and with a serious brain injury we embarked as a family on a very traumatic year. I used to take my aromatherapy oils to him, massage his limbs, and would lead him on little meditations to take him out of himself. I don’t really know if he followed them, although he always had a gorgeous smile on his face, and they helped him to relax and sleep better.
He sadly died a year to the day of his accident, and although it was a devastating time, it was a very special time when I look back on it. I feel deeply privileged to have had that time with Will and to have held his hand for the final part of his journey here on Earth. This year changed my life.
When Will died, I threw myself into finishing my studies. Not just in aromatherapy, and doing as much blending as I could, but also qualifying in facials, full body and Indian head massage, amongst other things.
From this I was led onto my Reiki path, and my healing path. I would say a combination of leaving the publishing world, having the children, and exploring what was essentially a hobby, a passion for scents, flowers, nature, and my own intuition, is what led me to holistic therapies.
As well as my brother’s journey which became part of my journey. I was so grateful and still am for everything that conventional medicine did for him, because without it he would have died sooner, and we wouldn’t have had that year together. However, I believe it was the holistic things that we did that eased and calmed him and gave him a deep sense of inner peace.
I knew that I wanted to create something inspired by Will’s memory, with wellbeing at the very heart, and so Haney’s Holistic Wellbeing was born.
I suppose all the dots have joined up in my life so far. Sometimes you don’t think they do, but the older you get, the more you realise as you look back how they have. Everything so far has brought me to this stage and where I am now.
You have created a beautiful space here in which to work, can you describe it, and was this always the dream?
Thank you, it is one of my favourite places to be.
When we moved here 17 years ago, it was an old shed, which we had re-built on the same footprint. With neutral décor, wooden beams, windows to each side and doors facing out onto our garden, it’s completely private, and peaceful.
My husband runs his own business and works from home too, and this was originally an office for him. He worked in here for years, and it was only when I retrained, that I found working in the garden room in the house quickly became untenable. It was also nice to have the energy out of the house. So, I moved in here and Phil moved elsewhere.
Over the years the energies have built up in this room as have the aromatherapy smells from all the oils I use. Whenever I enter this room, I get an overwhelming sense of peacefulness and calm.
I feel the magic in this room, it’s like a little vortex, detached from anything else with a completely different energy. No matter what’s gone wrong in the world, I know I can always come in here, shut the door and feel safe.
It’s so private, and I love the scent of the roses round the door. Everything in this room means something to me. The pictures on the walls are gifts from friends and clients and each angel and Buddha ornament is a gift from a loved one.
I can’t say that this was always my dream, as 15 years ago I couldn’t have imagined myself doing what I am doing, but this is definitely my dream space now.
Looking at you now in your treatment room and having seen you guiding a meditation, you look completely at ease, like you have discovered your true purpose, and are being truly you. What would you say to someone who may be feeling stuck and looking to make changes in their life or to discover their purpose?
I think we all get stuck at some time or other in our lives. I often get stuck and reach barriers, especially if I’m not enjoying things, or things are feeling too repetitive.
I question myself, and at least once a year have a crisis of confidence, where I just think, do I want to do this, is this me? Whenever this happens it’s usually because something is changing, and it needs to fall apart to then reconnect to be stronger again, or to put me on a slightly different path.
What occasionally stops everyone at times, me included, is fear. Familiarity is easy. The thought of changing, maybe leaving the job you hate, or walking away from the group that isn’t healthy for you or feeding your soul, is scary. All because every time we change, we step into the unknown.
I think it takes real courage to change, and the only person in control of it is you. It’s up to you. No-one can do it for you. You just need to dig deep and sometimes it’s hard.
Even if you feel as though you don’t have one, there are always choices. You can choose how you react and just know that you don’t have to have it all figured out before moving forward.
This is something I learnt some time ago, although wish I’d learnt it sooner. I used to procrastinate all the time. I’d work this map out in my mind, if I do A it will lead to B and if I do B it will lead to C and so on and so on. I used to get myself in knots and be the biggest worrier ever, planning every stage before even starting. Thank goodness I don’t do it anymore as it was exhausting!
My advice to anyone who is feeling stuck, would be to cut out the noise first. We often don’t take time to “be,” in the western world. Everyone is busy “doing” and feeling guilty if they aren’t.
With the advent of computers, social media and constantly being in touch, it’s sometimes overwhelming. Cutting out the noise, meditating, practicing a bit of gratitude, being in nature, doing things that you simply love doing, can help. Then if you are drawn to something, go and do it. Join that new group, go to that talk, take that first step, because you don’t have to have it all figured out.
Taking tiny steps and being open to where it can take you is my best advice, because we don’t open a book and immediately and want to know the ending. Each page we turn is revealing something new and exciting, and that’s the same with life. If you don’t turn the page, you’ll never know where it could lead.
You connect with your clients through all your holistic treatments, your workshops as well as teaching and guiding them through meditation. What journey do you go on with them? and what changes do you see in them?
What I’ve learnt is that I am here to hold their hand, as they’re the ones doing the hard work, having summoned the courage to come here, to embark on making a change.
I’m full of admiration for people who choose to embark on their own personal journey, and if I can ever be part of it, even for a little bit of the way, truthfully, it’s an honour.
I know people may dislike the word journey, but how else can we describe it? We are all on a journey through life and it is never a straight line. Sometimes you turn right or left, sometimes you stand still for a bit, or even go backwards. I like to think I help my clients to navigate their way through it and show them how far they’ve come.
Supporting them to accept that sometimes it’s one step forward and two back, and hopefully by sharing the journey I’m on they can see that it happens to me as well as everyone else, and that it’s ok.
It’s lovely to see those breakthrough moments with clients, when they are healing on so many different levels, whether it is emotionally, physically or they are letting go of past hurts or grief. It is so rewarding and makes me very happy.
I love getting feedback when clients share with me the positive changes they are seeing in their lives and in themselves once they have adopted a meditation practice. It makes them calmer, happier and more appreciative.
You spend a lot of time giving to others, how do you give back to yourself?
I’m going to be truthfully honest and say this is where I love taking my own advice. The advice I’m always sharing with my clients about the importance of making time for yourself.
The one thing that really grounds me is my own meditation and reiki practice. Sometimes I only achieve one or the other, and there are times when both go out the window, especially when I’m out of this environment, like on a family holiday. However, the practice that I have developed over the years really helps me to see what’s important. It grounds me and makes me more appreciative, happy and confident in trusting my intuition.
I go on retreats both here in the UK and abroad. I put myself on different courses and join other people’s meditation sessions. I love yoga and making time for the things I want to do.
I’m not someone who needs to be “doing” all the time, I’m a content person and I know when things are getting too much, and I’ve nothing left to give and need a break.
Having that awareness that our batteries are low, just like our devices is so important. We all need to go on to sleep mode occasionally and plug in to recharge.
I also love little rituals! Like filling my house with fresh flowers, either bought or cut from the garden. Lighting candles and burning oil whilst I’m writing and creating special places to just be. All these things lift my spirits.
I don’t save anything for best anymore either. I use my China cups and crystal glasses and expensive oils! It’s these things that make everyday life lovely and every day special, no matter where you are or what you’ve got.
I believe everybody should give back to themselves. I don’t feel what I do is any more or less than anyone else, the pressures are the same for everybody.
Which fascinating women have inspired you throughout your life and your business?
There have been so many it’s hard to mention just one. People have always fascinated me. I’m not so much in awe of famous people, but it’s people I meet every day who fascinate me more.
I’m drawn to people who embrace who they are. Those who are unapologetic about it and are not trying to be a version of someone else.
I love people who show all their dimensions, not just the ones they view as perfect.
Women who inspire me are kind, honest and compassionate, and want to help others on their journey, not just themselves.
In my profession I recommend where I can, and I love it when this is reciprocated, or becomes a collaboration. I believe there is space for us all and by encouraging each other it makes for a happier world.
In my publishing days, it wasn’t the archetypal power women who inspired me, the women who acted like men to progress their careers. It was the women who brought a sense of humanity and femininity to their role. Those who weren’t ashamed to show their softer side, or their feminine strengths and got the work done with a conscience and a heart.
I am fascinated by women who are genuine, have an interesting story, and embark on self-enquiry and growth. Women who have a talent and who like to share their knowledge with others.
I like women who are good friends to other women and who are fun! I have been blessed to learn from several such amazing women on the path I find myself on. I respect them greatly and am so grateful for the things they teach me and the friendship and advice they give generously.
My 15-year-old daughter Grace fascinates me. I am so enjoying watching her bloom into a beautiful young lady. She is deeply intuitive, and I really value her opinions and advice. I listen to what she tells me as she isn’t often wrong. I love her company too.
I am also very lucky to have my sisters Cath and Liz in my life. They are my true friends and we have grown together over the years to support each other through what have been some pretty challenging times for each of us. We rely on each other and listen to each other, something so important, even if we don’t always agree on everything. Most of all we have fun together and laugh a lot.
What are your top tips to leading a fulfilled and happy life?
Happiness and fulfilment mean different things to different people. For some it’s having an amazing career, or it’s being the best parent or partner they can be. For others it’s being adventurous and exploring the planet. We are all so different.
One thing I have seen and learnt over the last 8 years working in this environment, is that the ‘feeling’ we get from doing what we love is the same for everyone. Whatever it is that floats your boat, that feeling of joy and fulfilment is tangible, and it’s inside all of us.
Happiness is so often seen as a destination and I’ll be the first to admit I was once like this, until I realised it’s a choice. I am a happy person most of the time, because I choose to be happy. My happiness is only affected by external circumstances, like a bereavement, or something negative beyond my control.
I don’t choose to be unhappy and I don’t put conditions on my happiness either, because life’s passing with each day. I believe it’s no-one else’s responsibility to make you happy, only yours and a great starting point is with gratitude.
A sure thing to switch a negative mind is gratitude, and at first, if you are new to the practice it can be hard. Even if you don’t believe it, I would say just give it a go, because the more we affirm something, the more we begin to believe it.
When we are grateful, the universe gives us more to be grateful for. So, my top tip would be to practice gratitude morning and night and see where it leads you.
I realised a while ago when I started on this path that I didn’t want another career; I wanted a fulfilling life. I’m very lucky that what I’ve found fits into every crease and corner of my life, so much so that they often merge.
I genuinely meditate. I really do give myself Reiki, and what I teach, I live.
I don’t always get it right. I get things wrong. I have good days and bad days, like everyone else, yet I do stuff that I love, and I work with people I genuinely like. I mix with those who lift my spirits and have fun with.
If something isn’t working, I change it, and that’s the life I choose.
If you would like to find out more about Carol and Haney’s Holistic Wellbeing, why not hop on over to her website here.
I hope you enjoyed taking a moment to read this blog, and I can’t wait to bring you the next in this series of interviews next month.
Until next time, be truly you!