To outline a life in a few paragraphs is difficult but I will try and do this in order to explain my path to developing an interest in health. Born in Catford, South East London I lived with my mum, dad and older sister. Dad worked hard as a Newsagent and stamp dealer but played equally hard in the snooker halls. Mum supported their business from home whilst looking after us and I'm sure this was a challenge at times but Mum always did the best that she could do.
I bimbled my way through school, drawing on most of my work books. Art was and still is a passion. Home life was quirky and very much based around earning money so I worked from a very early age. Some of those money making schemes were unconventional and I would never have repeated this life for my own children. I grew up listening to Music. Only taped or vinyl but the sounds of the 50’s played almost constantly and my love of music has never changed. In fact, when faced with the sound of a ticking clock I cringe. A ticking clock makes me aware of my mind and I will look to fill the space with music, I don’t have the memory for the words or even often the artists names but that doesn’t matter to me.
By the age of 14 I was spending hour upon hour at my Dads Bookstall on Norwood Junction train station. After the rush hour I read all the magazines and newspapers but was always especially excited by the glossy's. The genre that drew my attention was health and fitness. So many titles and so much information accompanied by beautiful pictures. I just loved it. A lot of my views started to develop around this time and I became pretty unconventional for the 80’s, embracing a vegan lifestyle, turning my back on many Government supported ideals like fluoride and I enjoyed reading the immunisation debate. I started to exercise and would run and attend the gym. I also started to look into homoeopathy.
Preferring a work life to education, and supported by my Dad, I left school unchallenged far far to early, confident that I would show my teachers that I knew best. The only sadness I felt at this time was towards leaving my art lessons. But I dug my heels in, ignored my inner worries and walked away, proud that I was going to work with my dad. I worked both in London and on the Kent coast at the shop my grandma owned. My grandma was a very modern thinking lady and embraced my vegan lifestyle. I enjoyed working with her, I would visit the health shops for new foods to try, and attend the gym of an evening although I was also attracted to the nightclubs and built up a friendship base through them. Doing things alone never phased me and if I felt awkward I would just push myself through.
I wasn’t paid much but saved hard and bought a horse and a Mastiff. Exercise and the outdoor life was and still is incredibly important to me, as are animals. They have a fabulous impact on mental health, showing us true friendship and dogs especially encourage us to get out among nature.
Aged 22 I couldn't cope with working for my dad any longer and with limited qualifications I jumped head first into the Prison Service. Maybe if my dad had been easier to get along with I might have lasted longer but it got to the stage where I knew that even though he needed me to help him run the business, I had to find some independence. I felt well prepared but in hindsight my age was not well received by the prisoners I was to encounter. Only as I got older did I begin to find life behind the wall easier. This was where I began to understand the depths of 'mental health'. Over the years I specialised in areas around this subject including hostage negotiating, suicide and self harm as well as violence reduction. This coupled with the death of my dad, a marriage and the birth of our three children I began to really appreciate life. I feel that we choose our path by either continuing the one that our parents set us on or we choose another. I began to understand that people can be the product of their history and upbringing and I felt empathy towards them, aware that they were someones loved one.
When my children got a little older I branched out into areas that I had a real interest in. I started my own business face painting and then I registered as a child minder and chose to study this subject further, enabling me to understand how children are impacted by their environment. I did this alongside the Prison service as I had been part time since my first child came along. I went on to have a really successful career as a face painter and worked for some fantastic organisations and events.
In 2016 I left the Prison Service. Sadly, they are not an organisation that supports work life balance and I was tired of the fight. However I took the skills that I had built on and became a Family Liaison Officer at a Primary school. I work closely with the children and their carers and draw on all that I have learnt about child care and health and fitness to support these children and their carers to lead happy positive lives.
My life has changed a lot over the years but what has stayed with me consistently is a passion for art, an interest in health, a need to exercise and a love of music. Don't get me wrong, when I say I have an interest in health it doesn't mean I have it cracked, I haven’t and won't pretend that I have. I have given up alcohol and chocolate more times than I can mention. I am normal. I believe that every individual has their weakness in life. However, never let those weaknesses control you.
I recently closed my face painting business. The time was right to slow down. My early years have driven me to work long hours but the Coronavirus lockdown forced me to stop this line of work albeit temporarily. However, I decided that the time was right to retire from face painting permanently and learn to relax more. With my website www.facepaintingbymel.com soon to be closing I want to share what I have learnt over the years with others and this has prompted me to design this site.
I have always had an urge to improve myself and most of what I have learned is self taught. I want to share my enthusiasm in the hope that it is catching. I’m constantly learning new things about the human body. My children sometimes laugh at my wacky pieces of information but it's not often they tell me I'm completely wrong. Just a few months ago I learned the importance of nose breathing… read more on my blog! What I will say is that cases of obesity are on the rise as are fast food outlets. There has got to be a simple way to get us back on track? Who’s nan ate dripping on toast? Mine did! Was she fat, have diabetes or heart disease? No! Okay, so lets look at this a bit closer...