Saturday 25 May 2019

Former PA (34) 'pays it forward' by using €20k Lotto win to create a wellness retreat

Jen Corcoran
Jen Corcoran
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

A 34-year-old former PA who "paid it forward" by turning a Lotto win into a wellness retreat is expanding her business of achieving "sustained happiness".

Dublin woman Jen Corcoran said she witnessed first-hand working with high-powered executives over the last decade how these C-level employees were regularly overworked, stressed out and "running on empty".

Looking at how they handled the pressures of the workplace and how it affected their personal relationships prompted her to look after her own mental health, and ultimately choose a different career path.

"For the last 12 years, I was working as a PA, absorbing the knowledge of these CEOs and executives, understanding how they make decisions they make, and helping them as much as I could," she told Independent.ie.

"But monitoring how they went about their day-day business and how they treated other people, I realised that they didn't value taking time out, and never took a holiday or completely switched off.

"With the money they were on, they would have to be contactable 24/7, which meant that I was working around the clock too and my health was starting to become affected."

Having a couple of glasses of wine to de-stress and sleep at night was a temporary route for Jen as she realised that was simply adding to the anxiety of her role which required her to work at a high level.

She started to meditate, to go away on retreats, to do Reiki - and the changes that these lifestyle decisions were recognised by her peers and executives she worked for.

"People start asking me what I was doing as I always remained calm and had a positive effect on them. I would always try to stay ten steps ahead, scheduling the smaller jobs and preparing as much of the schedule in advance as possible to allow them focus on the bigger stuff."

But when Lady Luck fell into her lap in the form of a €20,000 Lotto pay out, Jen said it was like a test for her to do something good with the money.

From her home in Kilcock, the now mum-of-one launched and has managed a wellness retreat - Zen Wellness - which offers one-day corporate packages, one-on-one appointments and additional services including holistic coaching and Reiki healing - for the last year.

Even when a big marquee that she had erected at the side of the house to facilitate larger groups was blown down by Storm Ali, Jen managed to turn it into an opportunity to expand the business.

Following an timely conversation with a real estate agent, she took a large premises in Park West Industrial Estate on the edge of Dublin where, along with herself, she will be leasing out nine rooms to 25 other therapists.

"I had put off another unit as it didn't feel right and when I rang this estate agent, he had just been handed back the keys of this larger unit as a beauty salon enterprise hadn't worked out.

"Initially the landlord thought I was a complete witch but I transformed the area and sub leased the other eight rooms - and showed him my business plan and projections. Now he's on board to offer other spaces if this centre works out."

The launch event for the new centre took place last Friday and Jen has offered some tips to get people started on building sustained happiness, "which takes a little work".

1. Morning Ritual

Set your intention for the day. If you have any ideas then pop them down onto paper and keep looking at this each morning until your perfect day starts to happen for you. Plant the seeds now for your “perfect day” in the near future.

There are so many good - and free - guided meditations on here that will help you get started or advance in your meditation practice. It also keeps tracks of how much you meditate each day / week / month and it’s great to keep a log and look back.

Set that alarm a little bit earlier, don’t press the snooze button, jump out of bed within five seconds of waking up, wash your teeth, drink a cup of warm water with a slice of lemon, become fully awake and turn on your guided meditation.

Just close your eyes and connect in with how you are currently feeling and follow a simple guided meditation to get your energy grounded for the day ahead. 

2. Gratitude before bed

Write down three things for which you are grateful for every night before you go to sleep. Don’t worry if they seem simple or mundane - just get something down on paper. Writing gratitudes will help you identify positive aspects of even the worst days. The thoughts you think in the last ten minutes before you go to sleep usually determines the quality of your dreams and that usually has a knock on effect & impacts the mood we wake up in the next morning. Keep yourself positive, calm, grateful & upbeat before bed!

3. Acts of kindness

Make a conscious effort to do something nice for someone else for no reason other than to help them. You might be surprised how a simple act of kindness can turn around the day for both you and the other person. This also helps to raise your vibrational frequency plus helping you to create great karma.

4. Exercise

The positive effects of exercise are astounding. Physically active people have increased energy, superior immune systems, and a frequent sense of accomplishment. Exercise can reduce insomnia, stimulate brain growth, and even act as an anti-depressant. If jogging or lifting weights seems like too much, don’t be afraid to start with a 30 minute walk. Wrap yourself up, listen to a good podcast and get the happy endorphins flowing through your mind & body.

5. Positive journaling & positive gossiping

Take some time to write about positive events in your life. Write about a fun day spent with friends, a good movie, or an activity you enjoyed. Positive journaling will get you into the habit of focusing on the positive.

If you are in a group of people and the conversation is going negative, toxic or bad judgement is happening towards someone, try and change the vibe and say something positive about the person.  Be the bigger person and point out that persons strengths and change the vibration within this group of people.  When you judge others or speak in a negative way about someone you are not coming from a place of love and you are lowering your vibrational frequency. Basically you are creating a cracks in your aura & nobody wants that.

6. Nurturing your relationships

Strong social connections are thought to be one of the most powerful influences on our mood. Those who are dedicated to spending time with friends and family show the highest levels of happiness. If you can’t see your loved ones every day you can still send an email, post them a card, a text or pick up the phone to them. If it feels like you never see your loved ones, schedule time that can be dedicated to them and put down your phone, listen carefully to them and be fully present when you are with them. Tell them how much you love them on a regular basis.

7. Reiki Healing:

A Reiki Healing is a Japanese healing technique where hands are placed on different parts of the body & positive energy is channeled which replaces any negative energy that might be stuck.  The healing starts from your head and moves to the feet and more time is spent in areas that might feel blocked.

A Reiki energy healing lasts one hour and helps your chakras to become balanced and you feel more grounded afterwards.

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