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Self-expression, Self-care and Self-leadership. A 2020 Trifecta

Helen Wilkes is a community leader who creates regular events focusing on creativity and self-expression, clarity and change, spirituality and self-care. Her desire to bring wonderful humans together so they can connect with their local communities and themselves has secured her a global following as she continues to strive for a better world…one small step at a time.

#yogasydney #collaborationovercompetition #newwayleadership


and welcome to the wine and wisdom show

thank you for being here uh you’re here

for the first time welcome it is so

wonderful and i feel uh

filled up the fact that you would like

to be here on a wednesday night with us

thank you so much

uh for those of you who are returning i


i love it when i see familiar faces and

comments so please make sure you do that


as you know my name is heidi denning and

i am the host and producer of the wine

and wisdom

show and let me tell you what it’s all

about because

you might think it’s about wine and

wisdom which of course it is

but it is what it is really about

is connection firstly

for me to be able to connect with you in

your lounge rooms or wherever you are

with a little bit of you know plonk in

your glass

cheers and secondly

it is about me being able to bring to


some of the most courageous and

resilient self leaders that i know

are changing our world in their little

ways and their big ways

day after day after day and i feel so

lucky that i have been surrounded by

so many amazing people and this is my

opportunity to bring them to you because

i think

one thing that 2020 has taught us it’s

taught us many things and we’re going to

talk about them tonight actually

but the one thing i know that it just

taught us

is when you can connect with amazing


who bring a smile to your face some

warmth to your heart

and some wisdom to your brain oh my gosh

that’s all we really need uh

so this gives me a lovely segue into

introducing our incredible guest for


uh if you have read anything about her

you will know

that she is one of those amazing


resilient self leaders who are

changing the world every single day

by what she is doing now she connects

amazing people

in her local community with incredible

events around creativity and

self-expression and self-care and

self-leadership but she also connects

with this global community

uh with her online presence and i tell

you what if there’s one thing there will

be a few things that you will want to do

tonight but if there’s one thing you’ll

want to do

is to get on her email list because

helen has

this oh yes helen wilkes is who we’re


but helen actually she has this


beautiful way of seeing the world

and helping not just her way but helping

you see the world with a

totally different lens and i know we

all get overwhelmed by all those

newsletters that we get into our inbox

and i certainly do it’s delete delete

delete delete

and i’ve got a you know an ai thing that

tells me which ones i

perhaps should read and which ones i

shouldn’t but i tell you right now

helen’s e e news is one i

pretty much read from top to bottom

every single time

it comes into my inbox because her


and her beautiful way of seeing the


and it’s just remarkable and that is why

i wanted her on this show so let me

introduce you

to the incredible helen wilkes i’m going

to bring her on

now and you get to see her

smiley smiley face hello helen oh my god

i’m fabulous

you met me so much but you are fabulous

you definitely are digging that intro

would you like me to do that for you

always i mean please

please record it send it to me

now i’ve got one question before

anything else helen ah

do you have a little bit of something of

your favorite in a glass this is the

wine drinking

i’m drinking red wine in a champagne

glass that is how invested i

am i’m impressed

cheers cheers to you and cheers to

everybody who is watching we would love

to know

are you drinking red wine in a champagne

glass because it doesn’t matter

we’re going to talk about creativity and

self-expression because you should be

able to do it

any way you want right that’s right

so please let us know in the comments

what are you drinking

are you drinking white are you drinking

bread a little bit of bubbles a little

bit of bourbon i don’t know but whatever

it is let us know we want to know don’t

we helen

yes we do and cheers to you tiffany

uh what are we uh sushma nice to see you

are jade

you’re looking beautiful clear with your

baby bump let me say

i can’t see it right now

helen wilkes i’ve given you a little bit

of my intro

what i would really love for you to do

is to introduce yourself

and share with everybody who is either

watching now or who will be watching

later which we know happens a lot with

facebook lives

i want you to share with the world the


that you are sprinkling day in and day


yeah so thanks so much for having me

it’s a privilege

to be here with you someone that i love

and admire so much

so thank you and acknowledging the

wonderful work that you do

and not just with this but every single


so thank you um so

what am i i’m so many things but i guess

for reference today to keep it you know


um i am a yoga teacher

i am um i guess at my essence right now

someone who builds communities

yeah um i am a mentor i’m a speaker

and i’m someone that is just entirely

obsessed it’s like it’s in my dna what i


you know sent to earth to do i think

um just obsessed with breaking norms

and just creating new ways of doing

things and not because i’m like trying

to be cool or trying to do things


um but just because i see things a

little bit differently

apparently um so that’s that’s kind of

who i

am right now on what i’m doing yeah in

terms of

what my work is influencing

um so i guess

i have a studio at maroubra beach in


and it is a yoga space it’s an event


and it’s somewhere where hopefully

transformation can happen

and one of the biggest intentions with

this space

or a couple of the biggest intentions

with this space that four years in

is um you know we have these intentions

when we create things but you never

actually know until it goes live

what it will be and what the kind of um

what what its own life form will will

take on

um and luckily my intentions and what it

has become

have have become aligned um and the

biggest thing

really is to create a safe and

supportive space for people

um i think right now i mean we’re always

and especially right now in 2020 we all

have so many roles

and so many um labels

and so many things that we are doing so

many responsibilities

we often don’t have places where we can

go and we can just put that down for a


and we can just walk in somewhere

and feel safe enough to remove all the


and all the personalities and all the

people that we have to show

up and be and just allow ourselves to be

taken care of

and supported because for me if we don’t

feel safe and we don’t feel supported

yeah sure we can still create incredible


from um not having that foundation

but when we have that like what we are

able to actually

offer the world and how sustainable that

can be

is it’s everything if we don’t have

safety and we don’t have support

like there is no flaw there is no flaw

to literally

have beneath you and be able to catapult

yourself out into the world

so for me that’s one of the most

transformational things that we offer

um in terms of all of the things that we

do there and we do so many different

things which i’m sure we’ll talk about


yeah and that’s one of like the main

things that i offer and i think just

just transforms everyone who walks

through the door of which we have so

many different people who come and

share space with us um and secondly

i always felt like and especially in the

age of social media but even before that

i always felt like everything exciting

and everyone inspiration

inspirational was always never where i


you know it was always like oh when i go

to that event

or when i go into the city or when i

like go on instagram that’s where i’m

gonna find all of the people that are

doing great things

but they’re not where i live where i

live is boring and where i live nothing

much is going on

and yet what i’ve learned over many

years of you know

just being a human and traveling around

the world is that if we actually have

the opportunity to connect with people

where we live

you’ll realize that there are incredible


you just haven’t spoken to them yet yeah

and that often you’re sat next to them

on the bus

or you’re in the cafe or you’re doing a

workout next to them

so i really wanted to create this kind

of excuse

if you will this opportunity for us to

actually see

that amazing people are where we live

like there’s people living incredible

lives and they’re here

you don’t have to turn on your phone you

don’t have to go like you can if you

want to

but it’s already here so to really just


people of the brilliance that they are

surrounded by

that they often just forget because

they’re too busy on their laptops

yeah so that was a huge um yeah

intention of mine and i’d say that the

last thing on that is

um we spend so much time in our heads

um we’re very mind focused and very

logical and i feel like that

in the last you know however many

decades has been so

um amplified and like we need to be able

to work things out and

be logical and make plans and

for me the way that i think about this

is we’ve kind of been living from here


yeah and we also need to remember to

live from here down

and come back to embodied leadership

and in what like whatever it is that

you’re doing whether you’re a leader or

you’re a mom

or you’re just someone who does whatever


just to reunite people with the wisdom

in their bodies

because when we actually have a

connection from here down

we are able to show up in whatever role

we are showing up in yeah like a

thousand times more amplified so through

the practice of yoga and the way that we

offer it

um really is to reunite people with

living from here down too

and to show them it’s not some woo woo


like spiritual thing but this body

is full of innate wisdom and if you’re

not tapping into it then you’re really

missing out

on being like an even more powerful


of who you are yeah i mean there’s just

so much in that

so much there’s a few things oh my gosh

you know um and you know you remind this

this place of safety like i want to

start with that so you talked about

having a place of safety where people

can turn up

and be who they just are you know i

i was i was talking to my um husband at

dinner tonight about

this whole thing and my girlfriend

madeline had been talking to me

that we all have this we have this

center of who we

really are that’s our foundation of who

we really

are now our jobs and our friends and our


they pull us and push us to be different

versions of that but we all have this


you know who we really are at all times


if we have the safety and if we have a


to go back to that where we can just say

piss off ego like jesus i’ve had enough

of that

i’m sick of turn having to turn up in

whatever form everyone else seems to

require of me

that i can just be me and i’ve got a

place where i can do that

and people will embrace me they will

still think i’m okay

they’re not going to disregard me

what gold absolutely

like you are okay to just be you yeah

you’re okay like how amazing is it to

just go anywhere

and you turn up you know you know you’re

a hot mess one day

or you’re feeling pretty sassy the next

day like whatever the thing is and for

someone to just see you

yeah for someone to see you and be like

you’re all right like you’re okay

you know like that’s just however you

are and wherever you

are right now you’re okay you’re safe to

be who you are

yeah helen was i mean i i know you’ve

you’ve gone through your own kind of


yourself like from where you are now to

where you were

five years ago 10 years ago you know 20

years ago

but do you think there was a defining


that led you to where you are right now

before you answer i had this amazing guy

on the show

a couple of months ago michael dixon and

if anybody would like to see

previous shows of this you just go to


to the wine and wisdom in the tabs there

and he he talked about

the magical dance of choice and chance

your life is choices

and it’s chances and how like you know

what is that like because

there are these opportunities that come

to us left right and center and

we it’s you know that whole self

leadership piece actually about whether


we take them and we grab them and we

keep moving forward

but there’s also these chance moments

right you know those sliding door

moments that

happen so can you share with us

i mean was there one of those or has it

been just a slow

evolving into who you are and what

you’re doing now

um i don’t know if we have an episode

long enough to cover all of those



right okay my idol i will write a book

until then i’d say

kind of relevant to where i am now um

in the last like say five years yeah

if we went back that far um i’d say

a pretty defining moment as you know was

my um partner

who um i’ll set the scene for you

i had just opened up the collaborative

which is the studio’s name and

we were about three weeks in and like

everyone who starts

a project especially when you’re taking

on like a commercial space

and you’re doing this very like big live


um it’s all done growing up thing

growing up things

i’m not someone who plans or like i’m

not a planner

i’m not someone that waits until like

i’ve got x amount of money in the bank

like that’s just not

that’s just not my jam if i’ve got an


i honor my urge and i just go with it

um and so when the studio kind of came

into its carnation which was also by


exactly what you’re saying by these

chances and choices that i could have

taken or could not have taken and

decided to run with it

and we opened the studio on a bit of a

wing and a prayer

and neil being the like stable in the

job person

so you know you do that conversation of

look if this all goes wrong

are you going to pay my lease for the

year you have to work bloody hard

keep going don’t stop because you’re the

one that we’re riding on if i have

really followed the wrong urge

okay so just so we cool great

we’ve got our like foundation set

and um we were three weeks into the

studio opening and


neil rang me or text me one morning and

said i

i’m feeling absolutely awful and i can’t


and i just thought vanilla was doing the

classic man flu

sorry for all men listening i was like

oh well you can’t move

like i’m sure he’s fine like he’s

probably just being over the top

and then he texts me and he was like no

really like

i can’t move i was like okay so

i went up to the apartment and i

happened to be with my friend

who happened to be a nurse who was like

i’ll just come up with you

and we’re just going to see how he is


we got to my apartment and neil um

was basically switching off he had

something that we later found that was

called gilliam

syndrome which is when your immune

system starts attacking your peripheral

nervous system

and this can happen to anyone at any

time neil didn’t have any like

precondition and he was an incredibly

healthy like 33 year old

and from the moment that i kind of

walked up to the apartment and saw him

i mean i don’t know if you’ve had this

moment but there is a really

kind of like taste in your mouth when

you’re like something’s really wrong

and you never question it it’s more like

a statement isn’t it you know

i think if you have to ask the question

it’s not the moment the moment is like


okay something’s really not okay yeah


about 36 hours later he was fully


on uh in intensive care and he’d lost

his vision

and no one really knew what gilliam bar

was at that point the hospital had

treated it

but they were like look we don’t know

how long he’s going to be down for we

might have to intubate him

we have no idea what recovery is

going to look like he could be like this


he like he can really go anywhere from

this back to recovered but we have no


so um that was you know less than

fabulous timing for a star i was like oh

like we are in the midst of

i can learn


helen go through this experience so you


i know that you know

and and being it was interesting helen

and i’ve we’ve not talked about this

i’ve never expressed this to you but

knowing that you know because i i had


a personal training business at one

stage you know

same same but different knowing like

what you put into

that opening moment and what like what

requires of you emotionally let alone

physically financially all of that but

emotionally what it requires of you

in those first few months

and when you can like when you have to

when you’re in the situation that you

were in like with a

am i going to lose my partner

i i mean how you’re even

still operating and being the success

you have still blows my mind from those


but i mean that says a lot about you but

sorry i’ve interrupted so please no not

at all

what happened next so we had about a

week where we thought neil was going to

pass away

and um i remember i

remember actually thinking oh i

wonder if i can get out of my lease

yeah do you reckon if i write to them

and say look i’m really sorry my

partner’s unwell

will they let me out of the lease yeah

and all these like funny things that you

think about when you’re you know

partially traumatized um uh fully

traumatized let’s just say yes fully

traumatized fully traumatized yeah

um and

important to say that i remember

thinking okay what am i going to do with

the studio i

had someone cover and as you know from

running a personal training business

it’s such a live business

you can’t put an out of office on you

can’t not turn up

and then you’ve got no money so you

can’t even pay anyone

like you’re just like you’re just at

every angle you’re like

yeah yeah so i remember


you know what i’m gonna go and teach

because i can’t just sit

thinking about whether neil was going to

pass away like i have to go and do


because i just can’t do this and

i decided to go back and teach and i’ll

circle back in a moment but i think this

is really important

and i remember going in and teaching

that first class and my dad was in that


because my dad had flown over from

england at the time to be with me

and i remember him sat there like at the

front just as like a show of like you


i’ve got you you’re okay yeah and i

remember remember thinking i’m either

gonna say

nothing or i’m gonna have to tell

everyone everything

like i you know like i don’t and i don’t

know what’s gonna happen until i sit


and start talking and when like

everyone’s in front of me

and the studio is quite a small space

and it was absolutely

packed like honestly that someone sat

like this

close to me in front of me and i

remember just sharing what was happening

and i just told them and i was like look

i’m i’m not coming from this conclusive

space but

this has transpired over the last week

and right now

i don’t know whether he is gonna live or

pass away

um but what i do know is as someone who

practices yoga or just has a spiritual


is that this is what we practice for

like there’s a there’s a quote by rolf

gates and it says you practice in the


what you wish to remember in the dark

and that to me i know and that to me was


you know yoga sounds all fancy and it’s

all you know tree poses at sunrise

and doing all these beautiful matcha

lattes but in reality

what it is is creating a practice when

you’re feeling really great

for the moments where hits the fan

and you really need something to sustain


and it never dawned on me at the time

because evidently i wasn’t thinking

about it but that could have been the

worst thing for my business

ever because it was so honest

and i don’t know what i would have done

that in front of someone like that

whether i just would have been like

do i go back what if i go back and then

share partners you know like what do i


and thankfully i had no room to

entertain that all i had

was honesty which was so amazing because

when you don’t have any of this

mind chatter you actually just get to be

this beautiful channel of truth

because there is nothing to conflict you

or say you’re being an idiot you

shouldn’t say that or that’s not a good


you’re just so clear and that really is

what built the foundation of our studio

and really is what built the very thing

that neil and i needed not at that point

but when he started to recover

so he had a week where he um

we thought he was going to pass away and

they wanted to intubate him

and my sister is an icu nurse and she

said to me at the time

she was like look don’t let them in

intubate him early because people don’t

realize sometimes intubation can

come with its own issues so i just want

you to like promise me

that you they wait until the very last

minute to intubate him and i was just i

didn’t didn’t have any idea what she was

even talking about i was just like

taking orders

i was like yeah yeah whatever sure i’ll

go and tell the doctor that he can’t do

his job like sure no probs

um and thank god i did because i really

wanted to intubate him

and neil’s lung capacity went down to

something like five percent and they

were like look we’re gonna have to

debate him and i was like just give him

one more day

because you don’t know neil yeah so

you don’t you don’t actually know what’s

going to happen and right now

you’re telling me that

neil shouldn’t be even in this position

so if anything is possible

anything is possible you know like let’s

just flip it because

anything can happen and lo and behold

neil’s lung capacity went

up about five percent and they were like

it’s not good enough

he needs to be intubated and i remember


well one way is death one way is life

and it’s creeping up to the life marker

so i think we’re just gonna hang on in

there and see like how he gets on

and um he ended up walking him himself

out of the hospital 21 days after he was

taken in um which was just like the most

like remarkable recovery of like just

show of strength that he had and that we

had together

at that time of course um

so that was a really defining like it’s

been four years coming up to four years

since then and the learnings have just

been like

every year has held something different

i think in the beginning

when i basically had to care for him he

couldn’t do anything

he was so tiny he had a weight on him or

you remember he was literally looked

like a tiny child he just was so

like thin and he had a paralyzed face

you couldn’t walk anywhere he couldn’t

do anything to the bathroom by himself

so i was like single-handedly running

the studio and then also i felt like i’d

gone home with a newborn baby

i remember thinking this is must be what

mums feel like

yeah because now suddenly i’m

responsible for this person and they

can’t take care of themselves and now

i’ve got to take care of them

um and so yeah like in opening the

studio at the time i’m

thinking god this is such a bad timing

and actually

we unknowingly built the very thing that

we both

needed to sustain us over the last four


um so that was yeah a really defining

moment in what it’s taught

me about myself in what it’s taught me

in the power of community

the power of being an embodied leader

and you know i don’t know whether that

had or hadn’t have happened to me

whether i would really have gone into


feeling like i had to be the person that

knew yeah i’ve opened the studio so i

must know everything

you know like you feel this expectation

you think this is what’s expected of you

but because i couldn’t do that i feel

like i was going through my own

like transformational

process but i was doing it with

everybody watching me

and i was also doing it with them yeah

does this make sense it was it was such

like an inclusive process

and i think that really taught me what i

now understand

to be embodied leadership and that it’s

way more powerful when we

we can still lead and lead alongside


rather than this kind of more older

dynamic of it needing to be a top-down


um and yeah that that was one of the

massive learnings that i had

there’s so many there oh there’s so many

and yeah

and one actually who um is listening

jade who would perhaps like to think in

um the comments of gillian barrett just

so people could understand a little bit

more about it

and perhaps how they might

care to support it that would be amazing

ah thank you

jade um uh

i want to just just check back on that

though helen because

you know you know talking about those

sliding door moments you know

like we all know the movie it was just

like an amazing movie and i

refer to it a lot of those sliding door

movements moments of course where

and that of course was for you because

when you think about how perhaps you

would have turned up to your business

how perhaps you would have been a the

leader that

in your business how perhaps you would


decided to do certain events

even like every decision

that has happened since that sliding

door moment

you know could be completely different


what it is now because of that moment

you know this is the thing with

adversity right like we do not know

we cannot predict the curveballs or the

cannonballs that are going to be

shot at us at different times of our

life we cannot prepare for them and if

we we

if we sit and if we spend time with the


days months years trying to prepare for


that might come far out

you’ll be casting

the joy out of what is possible for your


so like don’t bother with that i say i

mean i

you know forget it don’t try to prepare

for it

because we can’t predict it we can’t

predict it right

so you know going back to even our title

for tonight about

self-care and self-expression and


like what we do today without

caring about what might happen in the

future because we don’t know

and they could be little things and they

could be monstrous things we don’t know

but all we can do is live in today and

try to do what’s right for us

right now and you know

from reading your emails from bottom

to top to bottom i mean i know that’s

what you

are trying to give to the world that

like what can we do to live in today


and you know 2020 for many people has


the greatest adversity of their life

without doubt

yes a hundred percent we’ve all

experienced it very differently

without doubt um but i suppose from your


your unique ex lens on the world which i

know you have which is so beautiful

this embodiment leadership what do you

what do you think we can extract from it


without you know we don’t none of us

care for

to talk about politics here or anything

like that but what are the

things that we can extract from 2020

that will set us up for some new version

of fabulousness going forward

i feel like the first thing is exactly

what you’ve said

is that i feel you know 2020 is called

on a lot of things

excuse my french and i mean that by we

were all hiding under our

veneer of venus and distraction

and then suddenly we couldn’t be busy

and distracted so much anymore

so we really got to see what was

underneath our busyness and distraction

and sit with that which i think has been

so like confronting and difficult

and all of those things but such an

amazing insight to really see

really see where you actually

are with the world so i feel like it’s

given us this

incredible unique opportunity to

understand understand ourselves on such


um more truthful level than perhaps we

kind of had before but i guess what i’m


away from it is um

kind of what i said earlier that

anything is possible

if you’d have said that we were going to

be doing this a year ago

we would have all been like you’re crazy

that would never happen you know even

when i look at

friends who have who have you know not

not made

massive changes and leaps toward la they

want to live because their job is really


or because they could never do that and

yet this year has shown us that

nothing is really anything anything can

be changed at any point

and at any time and that whilst you can

look at that

in like oh my god anything can happen

and anything can change

i always think just change the diet

change the tonality

anything can happen and anything can


yes anything can happen like so often

the the kind of caves that we’re living


and the barriers that we’ve surrounded

ourselves are in

even though i know they feel so real


they’re things that we’ve built or we’ve

created or society has put on us

so i feel like one of my biggest

learnings is just just to keep checking

in with myself

and to keep asking myself like hang on

am i trapping myself

here or actually has this year taught me

that anything is possible and i can

actually make

anything a way out of no way yeah

so i feel like that yeah that’s

definitely been been one of my

like biggest learnings from this year

so helen i mean when new south wales

sydney went into

its lockdown earlier in the year i mean

your yoga studio had to close

your events prep program had to be


all of that was deleted really

what did you do what did you do

business wise to keep afloat to keep

some cash flow to keep your staff

because of course when you’ve got staff

you know that’s this

other pressure i’ve got to find a way


i know they’ve got to pay rent they’ve

got to pay mortgages they’ve got a life

i need to somehow find a way so

i can actually support them which is

you know in 2020 i think all all leaders

no matter what have really struggled

with that part because if it’s just


all right i can perhaps manage in myself

for whatever reason but when you’ve got

people who are relying on you to adapt

and extract something different and and

and operate in a new way

that’s a full-on responsibility so what

have you done

to be able to cope with that first of

all that is my jam

that is like that’s a big turn on for me

i’m like oh

oh so everyone’s expecting me to not

expect me but the general you know

uh conversation around this is that

everything’s gonna go wrong

and that you know we’re all gonna

collapse and i’m like all right

challenge is it okay okay i got it i got


my dad once told me like when i was

younger my dad had many different

businesses like

you’re not paid for when things are

going well you’re paid for when

hits the fan

like that is when you’re that’s when you


get to see who you are so i remember

hearing that and ever since

when something comes up even if it’s

small um

or like that massive i’m like okay like

this is this is what i’m being trained

for you know

like rather than trying to get through

it or panic how can i really

um yeah take it as the challenge that it

is so i think

first off i paid no attention to what

anyone else was doing

i don’t care like what anyone else in my


or anyone that could seemingly be

compared to what i do

because i think that’s the first thing

that takes you out of your own intuition

and your own gut instinct and especially

with social media

and that feeling of like especially you

know when the rugs being pulled we want

to look to people

because we want that kind of are we okay

are we doing the right thing

and whilst i really get that before i

think before we ever do that we just

need to be with ourselves

and what would i what what do i really

feel like the right thing to do

is next and it might not be the right

thing when i get there

but what’s the thing right now that i

know to be like

the best move so that’s the first thing

i just switched everything off was like


what do i feel like i need to do and

secondly just keeping everything so

simple so the one the glimpses that i


of everyone in my industry just felt

like absolute chaos

and everything just felt so complex and

so hard

and i don’t believe that things are

complex or hard

i think if we if if that’s where we are

we’re not seeing the most obvious simple

thing that’s right in front of us

that could probably just make our lives

way easier

and even though we might not stay with

that thing we can do the most simple

thing to buy us time until we figure out

what the bloody hell we’re going to do

so for me um i did both of those things

i literally just took my whole studio

online i made sure that all of my


with all of the studios run on

membership so we have a

like a um yeah a big regular following

of people that are really

invested in what we do um and was really

honest with them

like i think there’s two two ways of

showing up and the first thing is

to lead and people want leadership

during these times

but i want you to lie to them they don’t

want you to tell them you know

tell them what to do but they want to

know that you’re there

and i think the first thing i did was

just send an email out and say to

everybody like i’m right here with you

and this is really and hard and i

don’t know what’s going to happen but

what i do know

is that i’m not going anywhere and i

know you’re not going anywhere

and together we will figure this out so

just know that

firstly there’s that and secondly

really honest with people we’re a small


and i’m frightened and right now the

thing that

sustains me and all of my staff and our


at large is at risk and so

you know this is a really scary time and

if you can still be here and you can

still support us

i would love you to do that and if

something’s happening in your world then

just talk to me

communicate with me and let’s just see

how we can get through this together

um so that was something that i feel


you know part of me like my ego wanted

to be like don’t tell them that you’re


yeah yeah not what leaders do

tell them that you are fine everything

is great

yep yep and yet when i really actually

drop in

i’m like no like because we all feel

like that in our own way

and that’s okay it’s okay to feel

we can still be strong and powerful and

really bloody vulnerable at the same

time and people respect and receive that

so much more than just do whom it may


you no like it’s just it’s a whole

different energy in it

um so really honest with people closed

the studio

put everything online um

kept all of my teachers on kept paying

all of my teachers found different ways


maximize our online presence in terms of

live classes

pre-recorded classes um

we planned retreats way back when for

when we thought that we were going to be

reopening which was a little bit ballsy

to be honest

um but we did it and this was how we


sustained ourselves the whole time and

we didn’t lose one staff member

everyone still got paid um you know our

membership retention was

of like i think 80 percent of what we

were when we were open which was just

amazing and i don’t think that any of

that was by fluke or by accident

yeah it was really you know the way that

everyone came together and just

you just adapt and people don’t care if

it’s messy

no well we just really don’t care

just like tiffany’s just said that the

truth will set you free people

we are so sick of leaders

crapping on and telling us untruths and


yes we just want truth

so thank you tiffany for saying that

because that’s

all we want because none of us you know

there’s so many

fake news things and click bait and all

of this i mean how beautiful it is to be

involved with people

who will just say i

don’t know what i’m doing right now but

i’m making the best decisions

for the information i’ve got today which

could be completely wrong

next week and i will have to change them

but right now

this is what we’re doing that’s all i

can do

because you know what perfection is a

fairy tale

yep we cannot try to be perfect

especially when there’s so much

uncertainty yeah it’s

absolutely impossible and i would

imagine helen

like going back to that time when you

open the studio

and neil was on life the life support

and you had to make the decision whether

to be

either that stoic leader who is like

i’m going to be fine look at me i’m

dealing with it all

and you know you can all turn up and i

i’ll be here for you

or you say like oh my god

this is like the most traumatic adverse

thing that could possibly happening to

me right now but

i’m just gonna try and show up every day

and be here for you

because that is all the control i have

on everything that is so uncontrollable

a hundred percent and exactly like

you’re saying like the

truth piece is just ah just yeah

the truth has a certain energy to it has

a certain taste to it

and if you can find it within you to be


with your own truth in that moment like

to me that’s the most powerful

leadership you can offer

yeah ever

helen uh 2020 has rattled

so many people people i mean beyondblue

tells us that

there is a 30 increase with people

contacting them about anxiety double the

amount of people contacting them about


um what what are your what do you say if


one two three things self-care things

that we can all try to put in place

right now

to help us just calm

the anxiety calm that uncertainty that

we can’t control

so we can just try to ride this through

turn off your phone and turn off the


apart from this yes oh when you’re

pressing yoga you keep that on then yeah


yeah those two yeah those two yeah

really like turn off the television

for a while turn off your phone for a


like i know everyone’s like oh that’s

not possible i need to stay up to date

yeah but what about okay yeah

part of that is true but we’re not in

the age where if something happens we’re

not gonna know

we will always know someone will always

come and tell you when something

important’s about to happen

it’s like almost one of the annoying

things about life right now

is that you never don’t know you know

everything all of the time

all of the time all of the time so i

just think like

turn everything off for an

hour for a day and get outside

like your nervous system

your nervous system doesn’t know that

you’re not being chased by a bear

when you’re watching something stressful

on the news

like you are sending you we us are

sending ourselves into such

disarray 24 7

with our technology and our bodies just


cope with that they weren’t designed to

be in that state

and whilst we can come up with all of

these fancy practices and all of these

things to do

and that’s great really what i do is

turn off my phone

turn off the television go and put my

feet in the sand go and look at some


go and look at the ocean go and sit with

my friend

and just have a hilarious conversation


anything um laugh

like i know so many people myself


before feel such um

guilt about laughter

or even saying that you’ve derived

anything good at this time because so

many people are

in hell they’re having a awful

time excuse my french

and i i totally i hear you

but we must reclaim our joy we must

because we are no good to anybody


stressed tired knackered with nothing

left to give

so even just sitting down with your


talking rubbish you know looking at cat

videos on youtube or talking about a

thing you did those

years ago then i know and i beat her or

wherever you’ve been whatever

like just not me obviously

i just like to come back to laughter and

come back to nature

like those two things we all have

that even if you’ve got a tiny bit of

grass outside of your apartment

even if you’ve got a phone and you call

up you may like everyone’s got this

access whatever your current

like reality is and that to me

then when i do have to go back and face

life and its challenges my nervous

system can actually handle it

like my nervous system is like thanks

you just gave me a really nice break

and i’m ready to receive whatever else

i’ve got to do for you but if we

never give ourselves that opportunity to


yeah bad things happen yeah yeah

and i think you’ve you’ve just answered

the next question i was going to ask you


you know i i talk about your resilience

bucket you know you

if you think of your resilience like a

bucket and

when life’s good that bucket feels

strong and sturdy and you’re on fire

but when times get a little wobbly

like like now little rusty holes start

forming in that bucket

and as we know little rusty holes become

bigger holes and

and all our strengths and capabilities

start flowing out

so my question was going to be which i

think you’ve really answered

is what do you do to keep your

resilience buckets strong

and sturdy despite the challenges and

the uncertainty

and the cannibals and the curveballs

that get thrown your way i mean

you’ve mentioned joy and nature

i mean are they or that they your go to

two things

um they are my go-to’s the two other

things that i would add

is rest yeah sleep

again like we want to make everything so

complicated with superfood smoothies

and like eight supplements and actually

just go to bloody bed

go to bed and get some sleep and some

rest or even just

being on your sofa without doing

anything without looking at your phone

without just quickly checking the

television like to actually just

rest and do nothing and again turn

yourself into that more like

parasympathetic state of your nervous

system that rest and digest

is something that i practice every

single day like i actually cannot

not do it otherwise i just feel like i’m

a nutter

um and this might sound like a

a strange one to add but

for me also staying resilient

and kind of filling up that resilience

bucket like you so beautifully

call it is it’s also just to come back

to the fact that people are really good

and there are good people everywhere

and when i’m struggling when i’m


with 2020 when i’m struggling with my

mental health when i’m struggling with

anything and all of those you know we

all have that kind of

inner witch in our minds that likes to

tell us

all of these awful things i just like to


that there are people like me feeling

how i feel

that i’m not on my own ever i’m never on

my own

in how i feel everyone feels the way

that we all feel and it might come

dressed in different clothes but at the

root of it we all feel the same

and if i’m feeling lonely or especially

now with all of the news on with this

kind of

very much like you know be frightened of

people and people aren’t good and

like there are great people everywhere

there are great people where you live

people are kind people are good and

they’re probably in your neighborhood

and that honestly even though

that might sound unrelated to rest in


genuinely really fills me back up

in my like relationship to other humans

that makes me feel so

connected what is that whole connection

piece isn’t it like you know we know now

how i think more than ever this year

people have realized that

connecting to good kind calm

wonderful gorgeousness people

from who live from their heart far out


this is all we need in this well no we

need other things of course

we do that’s pollyanna but we that we

need to have them around us yeah

we need to seek them yeah and we need to

we need to extract

the others who do not fit into that mold


it’s not worth it having those others

sapping you of life and energy and

joy and all of that just keep

those good and make it your priority

make a priority

building community and being with good

people is uncomfortable

everyone has the first or ten first


conversations and you feel like an idiot

and you feel like no one likes you and

what are you doing i don’t know what i’m


god this is awkward can’t believe i came

and yet actually

like you have to go through that process

everyone does

even the people that are now the bestest

of ever friends

like put yourself out there in whatever

capacity to build those relationships

because when you are surrounded by

whether it’s in your your greater

community or your inner circle

by good people it restores your faith

in everything and if you can restore

your faith

when you’re feeling terrible or things

aren’t going your way

like that’s what we turn to we turn to

our beliefs we turn to our faith

you know and i think that’s so important

helen i have one last question for you

tonight i know we’ve gone over time as i

always seem to do

with that um but it’s such an

interesting conversation i could talk

for hours

but my last question uh to you is

out of all the pearls of wisdom that

have been handed down to you

over the years what has been

the most impactful to you and what has

that piece of wisdom that someone has

given to you that you’ve been able to

apply to your life

and it’s had a positive impact what is


um yeah i thought about this one long

and hard and again

as with everything i’ve said it’s really

simple but really profound

um on the first night that

neil went into hospital i rang my dad

and my dad was in london and i’m in

australia and it must have been about

3 a.m i think this time and it was one

of those phone calls where you’re in

absolute like i’d fallen to sleep and

then woken up and remembered what

was going on and it was one of those


screaming crying what am i gonna do

like a dad i don’t know what to do

like just help me and i remember like

just like

crying and just feeling like someone

give me

something because i actually just don’t

i don’t even know what to do

with myself right now and i remember my

dad saying to me

like i can’t tell you that he’s gonna be


but i can tell you that you will be like


will be okay and i know

right now it’s really and it might


even worse he’s like but you don’t even

know yet

who you really are in there and you will


okay like you will find within you

what you don’t even know that you have


and you will get through this regardless

of what the outcome is

trust yourself trust yourself to know

what to do next

trust yourself that even if it feels

like it’s falling apart

for longer than you would like that you

will be okay because you have

more in you than you will ever even

realize or know

until you need to know it yeah yeah like

and that

i just remember like i’ve probably heard

you’ll always be all right like a

thousand times but i remember just being


oh my god he’s

absolutely right like i know me

i can rely on me you know like i i i can

do this like i can actually

yeah and and i feel like again in those

moments when we’re having such down

moments it’s so

easy to say oh everything’s going to be


and actually it’s a lie we don’t know

so again rather than him lying to me and

telling me that everything’s gonna be


oh don’t worry about it so annoying

just the truth the truth right now is i

don’t know

but i do know you yeah and i know that

you will always be okay

so just remember that and that to me

like when i’m

really just feeling whatever the feels


is just to be like you know what i’m

always gonna be okay

like i will find something in me even if

it’s in the 11th hour

and i’ll get through it yeah yeah which

you did which i did yeah yeah yeah

what a long hour actually

a big call out and thank you to dad

amazing legend for

yeah thank you dad my gosh

yeah and so helen right now um

you i mean you’ve you’ve had retreats in

australia and overseas uh the borders

are closed obviously so we

we don’t have any of those in the diary

but when is your next

one going on here on our land

that we could perhaps have a look at

yeah so i have one more retreat

um with one space left in

november it’s a three night retreat down

in berry

beautiful on the south coast yep so um

anyone who is interested in just


i call yoga retreats well my yoga


it’s like adult babysitting which sounds

probably really weird

but what i mean by that is you basically

just get to come along

and take off all of your

responsibilities hand them over to me

for the whole three nights and four days

and again like i was saying earlier

take off all of your hats take off all

of the labels and the rolls

and for three nights and four days you

literally just get to be taken care of

and fed sleep in practice yoga

roll around in the grass have a glass of

wine like whatever it is

like these retreats are like a

kind of like a yeah a bubble in which

you can do that

beautiful yeah and for those who don’t


in maroubra or in the in the surrounds

uh you do have online programs that they

can tap into

right yeah i have an online yoga


which is like a series of pre-recorded


um and our studio is an ocean view so

it’s so beautiful because

it was actually filmed it’s very bougie

our online collection was filmed by

part of the crew who filmed spider-man


i’m a big dog you are freddy pants oh my


so what i say that because it’s so

beautiful you literally feel like you

are walking into the studio and you’re

just watching the ocean

um so you can yeah you can practice with

us online and you can also practice with

us live we live stream classes from our


and yeah onto

the internet anywhere in the world

and i’m going to put all those links um

after we finish up so if anyone would

like to click on

and have a look around please make sure

you do and

as i said if you don’t do that and if

you don’t do the retreat

just get on the email list um so you can

have this beautiful wisdom that

helen has oh my gosh it’s just divine so

helen we’re at the end like way over the

end actually

but anyway that happens sometimes i

think don’t get a plan

it’s all about self-expression right we

indeed do it whatever way we need to do

it for us

so and thank you so much

for being here for sharing a wine with


and everybody who’s watching either now

or in the future you’ve got a smidge

left i’m at the end

and uh yeah truly appreciate

your amazingness at all times

but uh for you sharing it tonight and

you know telling your

bravery to telling your story uh you you

are a woman with courage who i truly


and i just think you know if we can just

make more of you in this universe it’ll

be such a better i don’t know if the

universe can handle any more helens

actually there’d be too much chaos

there might be a yeah there might be but

anyway thank you for you

um thank you to everybody who’s been

listening uh tonight

and if you’re watching later on which i

know most of you will

um that will you know any questions that

you have please pop them in the comments

helen and i will come back and we’re

we’re more than happy to

answer anything you’ve got but for

tonight we say goodbye

um you enjoy your last bit of wine

that you’ve learned and we’ll see you

again at a fortnight

thank you so much good night

About Helen Wilkes:

Helen Wilkes is a community leader, lit up advocate of working in a new way and founder of the collaborative Maroubra.

Not just a yoga studio, The Collaborative Maroubra conspires with the best local talent, to create regular events focusing on creativity and self-expression, clarity and change, spirituality and self-care. Our desire is to bring people together, to connect with our community, ourselves and way beyond.

People can practice and learn with Helen online anywhere in the world, in person at one of her many weekly yoga classes, events or retreats in Australia and around the world.

Her Contact Details:

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