Have you ever had that moment in your life when you thought to yourself, ‘Dreams really can come true’? I had that moment just a couple of months ago. It was a moment when everything seemed complete and wholesome. I had just become a beautiful aromatherapist at the age of 48 and it was a wonderful feeling! I left Green Tara College after sitting my final exams and I had tears of joy and happiness in my eyes. This was everything that I had worked so hard for. Yet again I told myself, “I am strong, loving and powerful”.
My name is Eileen Smyth and I started my career as a bank clerk when my son was eight months old and for many years I enjoyed my work but I later found myself wishing for a new career. I longed to be in an environment where I could be myself. I wanted to explore my creative side and find out what else I was good at. It was when I reached the age of 40 I felt I had to change a lot of things in my life. Bit by bit I did make changes and I’m still making them.
When I fell into ill health as a result of a very bad back and ended up on crutches for nine months, I found myself in a situation where I had no choice but to make some major decisions. I decided that I had come to the end of my career in the bank and after eighteen years in a pensionable job, I resigned. During this time there was a lot of uncertainty in my life and I had a fear of the future, especially in terms of financial independence. Here I was, embarking on a whole new journey with no fixed agenda, except a yearning to do something with my life. Something for me!
A New Beginning
Still feeling crippled with my back problems, I began to explore ways in which I could self heal. I became interested in energy and chakra healing and I began experimenting with angel meditations. I then decided that I wanted to learn more about reiki. In April 2014 I visited Green Tara College where I met with College Director, Majella Fagan. I was immediately captured by Majella’s obvious passion for reiki healing and the peaceful and harmonious energy in the college really impressed me. And so began my journey of self healing.
I completed levels one and two in reiki and I absolutely loved it. I was enthralled by the whole holisitic approach of Green Tara College and I knew that I was on the right path. I wanted to take my holistic therapy training to the next step and with so many therapies to choose from, I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to study. Since anatomy and physiology (A&P) is a mandatory unit in the ITEC diploma courses that Green Tara has to offer, I decided to enrol in this to get a head start.
Finding my Inspiration
When I left my job in the bank I moved out of town into a lovely little cottage surrounded by beautiful fields and plenty of places to walk our dog Bruce. It is while I’m out walking in the peace and quiet that I am at my happiest and it’s a time when I like to meditate and ask for guidance about what is next for me. Throw it all out to the universe! This is also a time when I feel inspired to try new things. New ideas! I decided that I wanted to be an aromatherapist. This wasn’t exactly a new idea because aromatherapy is a subject I have always had a special interest in. Down through the years I have enjoyed making lip balms, bath salts, facial creams and blending oils for treating aches and pains. I love the synergistic effect of the oils and I enjoy experimenting with them. I have always been very much aware of the diverse effects of the individual aromas on our emotions. Many years ago I worked for a wine and spirits company and I very often nosed drinks for them. I was known as a “good nose” in the company and I really did get a kick out of this.
As soon as I made the decision to sign up for the ITEC diploma in aromatherapy, I was very excited about it. Excited about the fact that I was now on the road to becoming a qualified aromatherapist and I will learn how to mix unique personal blends for my clients. I started in November 2014 and I was hooked from day one. When our lovely teacher Gloria, explained the concept of aromatherapy and how it works, I was intrigued. Although I had some insight into the world of essential oils, I knew I had so much to learn. I made a personal commitment there and then that I was going to become the best aromatherapist I possibly could be.
My Highs and Lows
By this stage I was half way through my A&P course and the exams were approaching, so I was a little bit stressed to say the least. I found it very factual and quite difficult. I couldn’t afford to fall behind. I learnt the importance of staying focused and sticking to a study plan. My biggest challenge was keeping my nerves and anxiety from holding me back – I get very nervous when I’m under pressure – so I had to work very hard at staying calm. I use affirmations and my favourite one during times like this is, ‘I am strong, loving and powerful’. When I got the call to tell me I had successfully passed my A&P I was absolutely thrilled. It gave me a boost in confidence and encouraged me to push forward.
The weeks flew by after this and in no time we were half way through our aromatherapy course. I absolutely loved the aromatherapy lectures and I looked forward to each class so much. The encouragement and enthusiasm of our teacher was outstanding. I loved everyone in the class and we had many laughs. We really were a great bunch of budding aromatherapists.
I am an honest person and I do not mind sharing that I did struggle enormously with learning the massage. This was my biggest fear! I did not feel good enough. From the moment we started to learn the massage routine I struggled. I felt awkward and clumsy and I found it extremely difficult with my back being so bad. Some days I was very stiff and sore and I felt like crying and running out the door. I also struggled with my self confidence. There were times when I just froze during class and wasn’t able to think – as if my mind just shut down.
I come across as being a very sociable and chatty person. I look well and can present a very positive and competent attitude, but inwardly I struggle during times like this. It brought back some sad childhood memories for me. I was bullied and picked on by a teacher when I was in primary school and it is something that I have had to come to terms with as part of my own personal healing journey. This was about me and nobody else and it was up to me to overcome it.
I believe what helped me the most was being honest with myself, my teacher Gloria and my class mates. I was not afraid to ask for help. One day I picked up the phone to Gloria (who I always received plenty of good advice from) and I explained how bad I was feeling.
This really helped me. During my low points, my self esteem would slip and yet what comforted me was the fact that I knew I was not giving up. I have had some low points in my life and I have had to pick myself up and carry on as best as I could. Now I had discovered in myself a new determination. What also helped me throughout many challenges in my life was my faith and spirituality. I used meditations, walks, many prayers seeking guidance and reassurance and regardless of how I felt at times, I found this to be of great benefit.
Learning to Say ‘No’
Outside of the lecture room and away from the banter of my ‘Aroma Buddies’, I threw myself into my work. I found the case studies quite challenging but I enjoyed doing the consultations for clients and making up the blends for them. It was interesting to see how they progressed from week to week. In order to keep up with the case studies I had to remain focused and firm in my decision to say ‘no’ at times to family members and friends. Although this was difficult at times, ‘no’ had to really mean ‘no’! Definitely a word we all need to learn how to use effectively.
As the exam dates approached, the pressure was on in the college. We had to start putting all our new found knowledge together like a jigsaw puzzle. Perfect our practical skills, get our timing right, display our understanding of hygiene and safety regulations and the importance of client care and communication. By now we had to be more particular about blending our oils to perfection and work hard at improving our oral skills. I was very scared by now.
A Friend in Need
I got along particularly well with one of my class mates Dawn. I teamed up with her and she came around to my house every week from March until exam day. We worked really hard together and kept each other motivated. We laughed and we cried but we stuck together because we were so committed. We made up funny poems (which I don’t think I’ll ever forget) about the chemical constituents of essential oils to help us learn them. I did this a lot to help me remember things associated with aromatherapy and A&P. I would highly recommend this as part of a study plan.
I always say that if I could put Dawn into a bottle, I would label it ‘The Best Tonic Ever’. She really kept me going at this stage of my training. She had the ability to make my world brighter and more beautiful.
Practice Really Does Make Perfect
Because of my bad back, I personally felt that I was weaker at massage than the other students. It was the thorn in my side and it meant I had to work extra hard to keep up the pace. This proved to me though, that it really is possible to achieve anything once you put the work in. Practice really does make perfect!
Dawn and I kept up the pace until the final exams on the weekend of the 6th and 7th June and along with the other students we completed our final exams. The atmosphere in the college that day was amazing. All the students were looking so well groomed and professional. I put my heart and soul into it that weekend and I felt very proud to have come so far. And even though I was nervous I kept it under control and didn’t let it show. I just kept repeating to myself, “I am strong, loving and powerful”. We all received very positive feedback from the examiner. We all did extremely well and we were so proud of ourselves. I even thought to myself, ‘What was I worrying about?’
When I left the college that day, I knew I was highly capable and yes, I had become a beautiful aromatherapist.
The experience of studying in Green Tara College as a mature student has helped me enormously. I have gained more confidence despite my inward struggles and I feel I have healed some more. I am excited about my future and I look forward to developing my skills further.
I have a fondness for the story of how French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé realized the exceptional healing qualities of lavender essential oil as far back as 1910. This piece of history along with my love for aromatherapy and the french language, prompted me to choose the words ‘J’adore L’aromathérapie’ for my business card caption. I aspire to be the best therapist I can be and take special care of my clients and it is my aim to share my new found and on-going knowledge with those who come my way.
Yes it’s a cliché, but “If I can do it, anybody can do it”. Sometimes, the first step is making the decision in the first place. Follow your heart and start as you mean to go on. When you are passionate about something, you will learn more and you will have the motivation to carry on. Draw up a study plan and stick to it. Be consistent with your studies. Keep on top of the case studies as they are very time consuming but they are a very important part of the learning process. If you are struggling, say so and confide in someone you trust in. A problem shared is a problem halved. Team up with like minded people. Remember to put yourself first and learn how to say no. It is also very important to take time out for yourself. Keep a journal of your dreams and ideas and tick them off when you complete them. Keep believing in yourself. Things are not always how we imagine or perceive them to be. You don’t know what is around the corner for you.
Thank you Green Tara College
I am grateful for what I have learned in Green Tara College. My journey with holistic therapies began here and no doubt part of it will continue here. It has been a wonderful experience for me and I will always remember the great support that I received from the college staff, my family and my friends.
Thank you so much Eileen for sharing your story. I have no doubt that you will be a very compasionate therapist and I wish you all the best for the future. You can connect with Eileen and learn more about her on Linkedin.