Coping with triggers

Today I have experienced an unexpected trigger.

Psych central describes a trigger as ‘something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma’.

Triggers are usually set off by something associated with one or more of the five senses – smell, sound, sight, touch and taste.

Today my trigger happened like this…I was out walking the dog when I noticed a parked car that had its rear passenger door open. As I passed the car I was hit with a new car smell that took me right back to being a 13 year old girl, stuck in the back of a car that was taking me to be trafficked.

The smell filled my nose and even my mouth and I felt like my breath had been taken away. My head was filled with the view I had as a 13 year old girl sat in the back of the car. I could feel the fear I experienced then as though it was happening to me right now.

As you can imagine this experience was extremely upsetting and completely unwelcome and unwanted.

Triggers can happen at anytime and are just one of the realties of life after abuse that many survivour’s have to endure. They are very open ended in that they can occur at any time after experiencing trauma and there is no way to predict how long a person could be affected by them.

I personally have accepted the fact that I could be affected by triggers for the rest of my life. This acceptance has gone a long way towards helping me deal with triggers as and when they happen.

So what can you do to help yourself after experiencing a trigger?

Here’s what I did today…

  • Immediately after the trigger I was able to recognise and accept the situation for what it was.
  • I then reminded myself that I was no longer a 13 year old girl in a situation I could not control, but an adult living a life of my own choosing.
  • I then practised gratitude, giving thanks for as many things I could think of that I am thankful for right now, today.
  • I then used some of my five senses to help keep me grounded in the present moment, focussing on what I was experiencing now.

After the initial fear and panic created by a particularly upsetting trigger has passed, I know that I am usually left with a deep sense of sadness that lingers around usually until the next day, so for the rest of that day I am mindful of taking care of myself.

For me this might mean taking some time to myself or reaching out to someone I trust. I might have a bubble bath, watch a film or read a book.

Today I have reached out to you.

I hope that my thoughts on triggers and how to cope with them will be useful to any readers who are experiencing them too.

Please do not suffer in silence. There are many organisations and counsellors out there who know how to help you help yourself if you are struggling.

Thanks for reading,

Love Zoe

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One year on

Today marks one year since my story of fighting back was published.

Sharing my story is just one of the ways I have fought back and I have done so not only for myself, but for anyone else out there who may need a reminder that they are not alone, there is always hope, and that much beauty can be found from pain.

I am incredibly thankful to all of the readers who have taken the time to read my story, and to all those who have reached out to let me know how much my story has helped them.

I had no idea of just how many people I would reach when my story was first published and from so many different parts of the world too!

I hope that my story will continue to help and inspire others for many years to come.

With much love and gratitude,



So it’s almost time to say goodbye to 2018 and hello to 2019.

This time of year is often associated with changes, or to be more specific, the changes that we choose to make. And as I stand in the doorway between the old and the new I wonder, what exactly makes for a successful ‘change’?

Planning seems to be an obvious factor in the success of intended changes. An example of which is outlined by the SMART acronym that I discovered over ten years ago when I began my personal training journey.

S – specific

– measurable

A – achievable/attainable

– relevant/realistic

– time bound

There are a few changes I would like to make in the new year, and for me, spiritually speaking , there have been three important considerations that along with SMART planning, has underpinned my most successful changes. 

  1.  January 1st is a good a time as any to make changes, but don’t forget about the other 364 opportune days of the year.
  2. When planning your changes, make sure you focus upon changing what you do, not who you are!
  3. Be consistent

One day, one moment, is all that is needed to make a change.

No matter the date or time we are only ever one moment away from making those inner shifts in our thinking that help us to create the outer changes we wish to see.

Think of a tightrope walker, balanced and present upon the rope. Thinking only of putting one foot in front of the other.

Life is the tightrope and you are the tightrope walker.

The moment the tightrope walker loses their awareness and looks too far ahead, or God forbid, tries to look backwards! He/she risks their place upon the rope, and what was once a place of calm soon becomes chaotic as a fight for balance consumes the walker.

For some, a fall from the rope may not be so bad, for some a fall could be life threatening. Think of those with addictions or facing mental health difficulties. 

I know this imagery may sound a little dramatic and maybe a little disheartening too. Staying focussed and present sounds like hard work. And what is the point of it all, giving so much from moment to moment just to get from one point to another?

The point is to find a peace within yourself that allows you to endure all that must be endured in life without losing yourself in the process. 

When we focus only on putting one foot in front of the other and the things we can change, instead of looking behind or too far ahead, we find an inner peace and stillness that allows the rope we are walking along to disappear. 

There is an old Buddhist saying that goes something along the lines of – there is no path to happiness, happiness is the path.

When we look to change what we do instead of trying to change who we are, and consistently practice this from moment to moment, we will be successful and a lot happier too!

I have been blessed this year to see my life story published in not one but two languages. I have also started this blog which has allowed me to connect with readers all over the world!

I want to take this moment to thank all of you reading this for your continued support. I wish you all the very best for the New Year and beyond.



scrabble resolutions
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So, a few months ago I shared the story of the Christmas cactus.

I could not help but be reminded of the power of hope when I witnessed the enormous effort the plant went to to survive, even though it had no way of knowing whether or not it would be successful.

I could identify with this in so many ways, for so many reasons. I have been hoping and ‘sending out roots’ for most of my life.

A few months after the above picture was taken, you might be surprised to learn that this Christmas cactus burst into bloom!

And so I discovered that for the Christmas cactus, it is actually darkness that triggers growth as oppose to light. I could identify with that too!

So the winters darkness, along with some loving care from myself and a determined effort from the plant, yielded beautiful results.

See for yourself…

What a beautiful transformation!

And so, nature has again given me an example of what can be achieved in times of darkness.

Let this be a reminder for all of us that hope, when combined with determination and love can transform our lives completely.

This has worked for me, it has worked for the Christmas cactus, and it can work for you too!

May you have a wonderful December and a lovely Christmas.




A soldier saved me long ago who did not wish to fight, but still, for truth and justice fought, and fought with all her might.

She took the brutal stabbings. Shielded me from vicious lies. Almost dying every night for me, so I could wake up each morning and rise.

Because of this trusted soldier I could go to school each day, and hold it all together when asked something normal, like… let’s play.

But I’m no longer small now, and I know deep in my heart, that I was that brave solider taking bullets in the dark.

We made it through the war my friend. We grew up and now we are free. And with a grateful heart my friend, the good life I dedicate to thee.

Greatness is natural. Apologising for it is not.

I woke up in the middle of the night with an urge to write. I couldn’t remember what I had been dreaming about, and I was still half asleep as I scribbled down a total of seven words.

The next morning I was excited to read what I had written. I couldn’t remember exactly what it was, but I knew that it had been important enough to wake me, and so I discovered, that with blurry vision and a mind that was still half asleep, I had written…

Greatness is natural. Apologising for it is not.

I still could not remember the dream I had had, but as soon as I read the words I had written, I was filled with a sense of knowingness and gratitude, because I knew what those words meant to me even though I had never put them together before.

When I say the word greatness, I am not talking about anything physical or anything that is associated with the ego. I am instead referring to our true nature and truth.

The greatness I am referring to is the spark of consciousness that exits at our core and connects us to all things, our natural life force.

Denying our true greatness, our true nature and truth is something I am sure we can all relate to. Holding ourselves back, both personally and professionally, out of fear, afraid perhaps that our truth will not be accepted or understood.

This is not natural behaviour.

These are unnatural habits, that have been passed onto us from outside sources that have nothing to do with greatness or truth.

Learn to recognise and tell the difference between what is your truth and what is not. Listen to the great wisdom that is at your core and let it guide you come what may.

As Carl Sagan famously said – we are made of star stuff. So let’s not deny or apologise for our greatness any longer!

Unapologetically yours,



Autumn leaves

Truly seeing a person is like witnessing a bunch of freshly fallen autumn leaves that are suddenly and unexpectedly lifted up from the earth and spun, swirling around each other, perfectly supported and perfectly timed, as if performing a well rehearsed dance, just for you.

Revealing such beauty, truth, and colour that it is enough to take your breath away, before all too soon being gently laid to rest back upon the earth, as if there had never existed such a thing.

Our lives are short, as short as a gust of wind that carries the autumn leaves. And like the autumn leaves, we don’t have much time to be or be seen.

So flow unbridled with the breath of life. Let it lift you and guide you as high as you are willing to go. Dance wildly, whilst you may, with and around all that you encounter, unyielding.

Boxing and Yoga

Recently I treated myself to a 1:1 yoga session.

I am very much interested in learning as much as I possibly can about the practice of yoga. I have been familiar with the physical practice of yoga for a number of years, but my understanding of its principles and origin is limited.

During my first 1:1 I was introduced to the Ahimsa principle which means, do no harm.

The term ‘do no harm’ includes harm to yourself, others, animals and objects. As a boxer and boxing coach, I wondered; is the sport of boxing something that goes against this principle?

For me, boxing training has always been a way for me to connect with my spirituality. I wanted to explain this at my 1:1 but couldn’t find the words. I just know that it’s something I’ve always had a deep passion for. Something innate.

On my way home I wondered how to put into words my feelings about boxing and spirituality.

So here we go…

What does the word spirituality actually mean?

Spirituality: The quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.

When I was around nine or ten years old I was lucky enough to see a film called, Rocky. For those of you who don’t know, the film is about an underdog boxer who is given a chance at a world title.

The film made a deep and lasting impression on me. Here was a man who had no family to speak of, no friends and no money. He lacked in every area that our society deems so valuable, and yet, he was full of kindness and compassion. He was concerned only with doing what is right, both inside and outside of the ring.

This mans heart beat with love, with no trace of anger or bitterness and all he wanted to do was ‘go the distance’, which in boxing terms means reach the end of the bout. Despite his perceived lack, this man only ever wanted to give, and give his best.

I guess you could say he was a spiritual man, concerned with the human spirit as opposed to material and physical things.

At the age of nine or ten I could not have put this into words but the way he was and the way he chose to behave resonated with my core. I really felt like I could understand him and it made me determined in my own life to give my best despite my personal challenges, following my own moral compass in the absence of a caregivers.

When I put my gloves on as an adult, I am reminded always of these spiritual principles. When I step into the ring to spar or compete, it has always been with a willing participant of an equal ability.

So, does the sport of boxing go against the Ahimsa principle?

In short…No.

Namaste : )






So far, my blog has been viewed in 59 countries since the publication of my book in March of this year. I never imagined that my story and messages of hope and love would travel so far around the globe. So I decided to buy myself a scratch map of the world, so I could see for myself just how far my story has travelled.

Every time I look at that map now, I can not help but be reminded of myself as a girl of 13, sat alone upon the roof top of Denver House, gazing at the stars and hoping for change. The memory is a sad one but also a powerful one, that serves me as a reminder of the power of hope and faith.

At 13 I learned that it is quite possible to find yourself in a situation where you are completely alone, without anybody to care for you. My family had told me that I was not wanted and that they were better off without me. The staff at the children’s home, my social worker and even some of the police officers I encountered, did nothing to protect me from being sold and used. And yet, in my darkest moments I was still able to hope, even at the age of 13.

I am so very thankful to the universe for all of the ways it has inspired hope in my life.

Hope is life saving and life changing. Hope inspires faith, and with faith you can summon the courage needed to keep moving forward, even when everything else around you is trying to hold you back.

I have taken a picture of a Christmas cactus that I believe sums up beautifully the power of hope. For those of you who don’t know, the Christmas cactus is a small genus of cacti found in the coastal mountains of south eastern Brazil.

There are around 6-9 species and the Christmas cactus gets its name from a legend about a young girl called Pepita from Mexico who was too poor to buy a present for Jesus’ birthday. Instead she gathered what greenery she could find in the mountains and placed it on the church alter. Then, when what was thought of as weeds by the local villagers suddenly burst into bloom, the legend of the Christmas cactus was born.

The Christmas cactus in the picture below was in need of watering. It was dying and it knew it. I know this because it had started to send out roots, in the HOPE of preserving its life. It had been trying to move to a new place that would better fulfil its needs so that it could live and bloom.

The Christmas cactus can not see, but still it sends out roots and reaches out when it is in need. Like the Christmas cactus, we too must reach out whenever we are in need or blinded by dark situations. We must hope and have faith in the universe that created us.

Since the publication of my story in March I can not believe how far I have been able to reach, and all of this has stemmed from a 13 year old girl who never gave up HOPE!

May you always carry hope in your heart,



Christmass cactus
Christmas cactus

What does your 100% look like?

Effort – A vigorous or determined attempt  (Oxford dictionary)

Giving 100% of your effort is something that will mean different things to different people. For example, what I can give in effort towards a particular goal or task  may not be the same as what you could give, and that may be different again for the next person you meet etc.

Although we share many similarities, there is no denying that we are all different too. We are different physically; we are different psychologically and spiritually, and we each have different and unique life experiences, all of which can influence our capabilities at any given time. So when I say that giving 100% effort will mean different things to different people, it is a perfectly plausible comment to make… right?

Of course it is.

However, over the years I have had great difficulty accepting my 100% as ‘good enough’.

Sound familiar?

Since my last blog post I have been in training for my first fight as an amateur boxer and I have been unhappy with my 100%. I had hoped that by writing to you and putting my intentions out into the open, I would be able to muster the motivation I need to get to where I want to be, within the time frame I had set myself.

Unfortunately this has been easier said than done.

I haven’t written anything for a while because I had wanted to wait until I was able to write a glowing report about how my training is going and give you all some positive news. I have decided not to wait for that ‘perfect time’ and instead share with you from where I am right now, on this journey towards my goal of becoming a boxer.

I am still having nightmares that make me physically sick. The nightmares leave me feeling exhausted and sometimes I find it physically difficult to speak as my face and mouth feel numb. It’s frustrating and disheartening. On days like those I manage to get to the gym and train my clients, but then have nothing left in the tank to train myself.

That being said I am seeing improvements when I do spar. I am running faster and my footwork is improving. I have realised that I need to take a step back from my worries and self judgements and take a look at the bigger picture.

Those of you who have read my book will know that I have fought very hard already to be where I am today. One year ago I was about to start an alcohol detox programme and found it very difficult to leave the house for any other reason than to buy alcohol. Today I am in preparation for a boxing match!

Whilst I have not been happy with my 100% I know that it is good enough.

It is good enough because it is MY 100% and that is all that need concern me.

Accepting my 100% as it is now is an act of self-love and kindness. It creates space for self-improvement and removes any negative self judgement that can hold you back indefinitely.

So if you too have been, or are unhappy with what your 100% looks like right now, don’t let it stop you from giving it. Know that whatever your 100% looks like on any given day, it is good enough, and that your best can get better with patience, time, and a little self-love and kindness.

Written with Loving intentions,


adventure attraction blur calm
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