Change – Viv come’s out

Change for the better

Its now Autumn and the winter season is looming with the clocks turning back. After a busy year at the retreat it’s been a time for reflection and that is just what I’m doing as I write this. 2016 has been a year of change for me personally and now as I contemplate over some difficult times, I’m feeling grateful.  Challenging times in life always seem to be learning curves, I think that can be true for many of us, sometimes in a not so good way, but coming out of the other side intact, is always a relief and then a time for more awareness and good changes.

Almost a decade in Spain

I have spent almost a decade here in Spain and from the moment Dan and I started the retreat business, I was adding to the difficulty that goes with running any business, by rescuing dogs and worrying about the abandonment and neglect of animals in Spain.  I eventually set up Actin association  I felt that was something I could do, as rescuing was impossible to maintain when looking after visitors and trying to keep healthy and well, in order to be a good host and Pilates and Yoga teacher.  I felt like an alien sometimes, who am I, what am I?   Am I a teacher of spiritual awareness – someone who improves people’s health and wellness, physically and mentally, or am I a warrior fighting for animals who are neglected and worse?  The responsibilities of running an association to fight cruelty, neglect, and abandonment, raising awareness and changes of people’s attitudes towards animals in Spain, was exhausting and so distracting from the retreat.  Teaching inner peace and helping my clients, whilst my mind was with a neglected dog, or a campaign for sterilisation was becoming more difficult.  I tried to keep the two roles that I loved independent and it took it’s toll.

A freak accident

Last year after a freak accident left me unable to walk for five months, I had time to reflect.  Why was I embarrassed and ashamed that I rescue dogs and was trying to lead a way forward for better treatment of animals? Why was I hiding my other persona as a teacher and a retreat owner and the necessity to run a business to survive, to the animal welfare world?  Because I thought I would be judged wrongly on both sides of the fence, or people would not want to visit us.  I was wrong!

Resigning as President of Actin

Earlier this year I handed over Actin to a new President and a new committee.  With a sigh of relief I let go of my two different personas and became myself and something amazing started to happen.  I stopped feeling embarrassed, that our guest/clients wouldn’t like what I do, or may not visit us; I stopped worrying that my animal welfare friends wouldn’t understand my other life and that I needed to work.  I was delighted to find that most of my guests love that we have rescue dogs – and we seem to be attracting MORE animal lovers!!   I CAN balance my life, when I don’t try to take on the whole world of animal problems in Spain!

The retreat house

Our retreat  house is kept scrupulously clean and our lovely rescues have their own garden and space separate from the guests, so we can cater for people who are nervous or allergic to dogs.

Bambi the retreat therapy dog

Bambi just has to have a mention; she was one of my first Spanish rescues.  We call her the ‘retreat therapy dog’.  We once had a guest who was sad and crying after a relationship break up.  I asked her if there was anything I could do and she replied, ‘yes please, can you bring me Bambi’?  It was a sweet confirmation that Bambi has a special effect on people.  I feel sure she raises people’s Oxytocin levels – that feel good chemical that the brain produces and uplifts mood, its proven!  See this link pets make you happy

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Bambi our retreat therapy dog

Coming out and feeling happy

I have never felt so happy and relaxed as I have the latter part of 2016, I feel as though I have come out!  I’m proud of who I am and what I’ve achieved, I’m proud of my partner Dan, who has enabled me to do my animal work.  And I am truly proud of my ten rescue dogs; proud of my friends and the people who have supported what I do.  I am now true to myself and will continue, as a supporter and rescuer of animals that need it, where I can. 

Prompted by a review

I was prompted to write this because of a lovely review from our most recent guest,  Juliette, who talks about our rescue dogs and just made it all seem right and natural.  So thank you Juliette and all the guests this year that liked and approved of our dogs and what we do. Juliette’s review

The moral  is  

For almost a decade I cried inside, ‘how can I do something else that I am passionate about, when I have a retreat business to run.’  Simple – don’t try to separate your vocations but work at unifying what you love and feel passionate about in your life.

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introducing our rescues


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