Helen in Full Flight!
We were given a real treat last week by new member Helen Forrest who has had a most interesting and colourful journey in her life so far.
Helen currently runs her own massage therapist business.  In reflecting back on her journey she said it felt more like writing a eulogy to which our resident celebrant, Rob, piped up and said “Send me a copy” which got a good laugh. 
Born at a very young age in Greymouth, Helen shared that she was very shy which included often hiding when visitors were in the house. “I was scared of lots of things and especially my maternal grandfather who was a farmer and would often be quite angry when things weren’t going right.”
She did love the farm, though.  After a brief stint at smoking a few cigarettes at an early age she gave it up from then on. 
On starting school Helen was not happy and went home at lunch time but her mother took her straight back.  “Overall I had a confused childhood but I got through it” she smiled.
At age 14 she moved to Reefton as her Dad had got a promotion that required them to move there.  She loved Reefton and was able to reinvent herself which included becoming involved in a wide range of activities including climbing and horse riding.  Both her parents became Rotarians when she was 14 and she went along as well. 
“We lived life as Rotarians and when asked where I was from I said Rotary” laughed Helen
Her dad was a bit of a joker which included making fake cakes with sponge in them so she became wary of food she did not make.
“When I got older I wanted to leave school early but was told that I had to have a job in order to do so.  So I went to Greymouth and started shortly after as a nurse.”  Her biggest fright in this role was seeing older people naked for the first time which was a real education! 
The job taught her the value of money and how to clean her teeth properly.  “I loved working with the men especially as I found women tended to be more grumpy” shared Helen.  After training she returned to Reefton which became her ‘safe place’.    
She started driving without a licence and met an older man who had hurt his leg and she told him she needed to get one as there was a new policeman in town.  He said “That’s me and when I get this cast off my leg I’ll be coming back to talk to you about driving without a licence.” 
During her years at Reefton Hospital the ambulance was often staffed by nurses who lived nearby.  By age 22 she had delivered babies in various weird places and had also attended some scary events including one where a number of youth had died in a car crash at 2:00 am one morning. 
“When we got to the scene I opened the door and a body part rolled out and down the slope.  I had to go and retrieve it which was quite the challenge” said Helen. 
Her next role was a nurse was at Nelson Public which was the only place she had been where she never got lost as up to then she had tended to be directionally challenged.  “I worked in acute surgery followed by moving into a psychiatric hospital where the staff seemed to be as bad as the patients” quipped Helen 
Next she started to travel quite a bit including visiting Australia and the UK but always loved returning to here safe place in Reefton. 
“After that I got married and raised 2 children in Harihari.  I worked there as a play centre supervisor and after seven & a half years returned to Greymouth.  My next job was assessing high needs families and putting volunteers in place for up to three months to help meet what would best support the family which I felt was a great scheme.  I also taught parenting skills.”
Since a young age Helen was interested in belly dancing and so decided to give it a go.  She especially loved the amazing fabrics that they wore and can still ‘wiggle’ to this day!  She also did night classes in stained glass.  “I was getting a bit sick of shift work and so decided to do a massage course in Christchurch” shared Helen.   
In 2004 Helen moved to Canterbury to get her Diploma in Massage Therapy which was the hardest thing she had ever done.  She also gained a number of post graduate certificates which include sports massage, foot joint manipulation, reflexology and human nutrition. 
“This led to me becoming self-employed which I really love” she smiled.  One especially fun programme she developed was called Self Massage for Women.  “The women and I had a great time with lots of laughs” said Helen.  She also developed ‘one bucket gardening’. 
For the last few years Helen feels she has happily plodded along and also fell into helping people plan their funerals.  She initially helped a friend who asked her to do this and has now done 15 more funerals since. 
Helen shared that on her journey she eventually decided she didn’t like being scared and has instead become courageous.  One saying she especially likes is:
“It takes courage to do some of the things which I now wish I’d never done.”
Prior to ending her presentation one Club member suggested that Gordon might like to come up and have a massage which he seemed a little perplexed about.  Perhaps another day?
We thanked Helen for sharing her interesting and quite colourful journey so far and look forward to her new ventures with much interest.