When we first asked Emily to be part of our Inspiring Human series - she was like almost everyone else we spoke to. Unassuming and believing that there are other women out there that should be featured well before her. So to describe her initially we'd call her humble, intelligent and caring. Meeting Emily is like meeting an old friend, she's warm, calming and never too far from a smile.
Growing up near Manchester, Emily had one of those childhoods we seem to only dream about now, close friends all around, quiet streets and playing outside until it got dark. She has one sister who is four years younger, and they share the same birthday. Emily was always active, from trying to beat a Personal Best on the pogo stick in the garage on rainy days to playing rugby league in her teenage years.
Emily studied Physiotherapy in the UK and decided to take an OE to New Zealand after finishing her studies. And while she did return home, it was pretty clear that her heart was left here and she moved back, settled in Tauranga and met her now husband Tim. She's now been here 15 years and when she has that spare moment to walk around the Mount she still pinches herself to make sure it's all real and that yes, this is where she lives now.
Now the proud Mum of two, Matilda (8) and Stanley (5), she was for their early years a stay at home Mum. As all new Mum's do, she found exercising really challenging with her little ones who weren't sleepers. It was tough times trying to find the balance of moving the body for mental and physical health, but remembering that it's ok to be still and rest - also for mental and physical health. Getting outside was her favourite though so she'd often be seen with one baby in a carrier and the other in the buggy.
In 2016 Emily was diagnosed with breast cancer for which she received treatment for a year. From surgery to chemotherapy, Emily had to shift what being active meant to her. After weeks on end of barely being able to move from the bed to the sofa, slowly and surely she developed a love of walking. In her own words, she'd never walked for exercise before, being too impatient and wanting a higher intensity, so this was all new. During chemo the simplicity of walking to the letterbox and 50m up and down the road outside was a great day. To Emily, true bliss. It was the combination of movement and feelings of mindfulness that meant she kept on walking throughout her recovery. Being in nature and fresh air became a huge part of her return to wellness.
During her treatment, Emily was privileged to be supported by a Pinc & Steel Physiotherapist. Being a physio herself, she knew that this would be a benefit to her but through the cloud of being a full-time patient, she couldn't take her own advice, nor was she trained in cancer rehabilitation. Enter Megan, trained Pinc & Steel Cancer Rehab physiotherapist from Mount Physio. Working with Megan, Emily felt supported, respected and was given guidance that made her feel like someone else 'got it'. What it was like to be where she was at with all and where she was coming from. Emily worked with Megan for around 8 months and as a result felt she could take what she had learned to continue her rehabilitation successfully, knowing Megan was only a phone call away,
As part of Emily's rehabilitation, she felt compelled to undertake an opportunity which would not only help her own healing process, but give hope and laughter to other women undergoing breast cancer treatment. She created The Dear Boobs Project. A collection of letters from women of from all walks of life addressed to their boobs. Intimate, courageous and sometimes hilarious, these letters were brought together by Emily to help others grasp their own experiences and feel part of the healing power of a sisterhood who understands how it feels.
It was through the Dear Boobs Project that Emily met the Founder of Pinc & Steel, Lou James. Earlier this year Lou was advertising for an Operations (Support) role, and Emily just knew she had to apply. Successful in getting the role she now has an even bigger opportunity to give something back to those going treatment for cancer or recovery. A perfect alignment for her beliefs, experience and her new purpose.
Emily simply loves her job. She has the opportunity to plan her own day and meet the needs of her health and children, she gets to work with Lou in a very small team where they can be super flexible and respond to the needs of the physios they/ train on our certification courses.
I get to connect with physios – who I think are incredible at what they do.
Emily gets to work with those trailblazing the non-profit platform, and to collaborate with organisations who love and understand the importance of being active. Ultimately what she does every day supports those who have had a cancer diagnosis to reach their goals, which she knows the importance of personally!
All these connections are valuable to me, these groups and people feel like they are my perfect community, my tribe, and I am grateful that the cliché about work not feeling like work when it is what you love, truly applies for me.
Talk about not working a day in your life when you love what you do.
Emily's inspiration comes from the women she sees and meets on a day to day basis, not the big names making changes in the world. But those making decisions everyday to be better. The frail looking elderly woman still out there walking despite bad knees and cold winds. The mothers out there going to through sleepless nights and little time for themselves still offering words of nurturing and care to their little ones. Those who have been through tough childhoods and opted to say "I'm not okay and I need help" because the courage to say those words comes from a place of inner strength. Its these women, who give her strength just by being themselves that keep her looking up and forward with hope for the future.
Having gone through uncertain times, Emily tries now not to plan too far ahead as things can change anytime. But she does know the importance of taking time to listen. To herself and to those around her. Her advice to others is to stop and listen to your inner voice. She believes that if we can accept rather than push away tricky emotions as they come up, then we can be more effective in the roles we choose, be it as a woman, wife, mother or entrepreneur.
Allowing ourselves to feel what we feel is a powerful wisdom that we already have; we just need to choose to listen in.
You can read Emily directly through The Dear Boobs Project here
For more information on Pinc & Steel, you can visit their website here
If you want to support Pinc & Steel with your next pair of Zeenya's - check out our collaboration print Feroz or Fierce here