So, I am back in Manchester after a whirlwind trip to London to compete in the National Massage Championships. It was an amazing day. There were so many talented therapists there and to be amongst them was a real pleasure and a great learning experience. The first lady I met in the registration queue had been practicing for over thirty years so for her to tell me she had read about me on social media through the Massage Warehouse competition and had been inspired by my story was a great start to the day.
I was a little unsure of what to expect as we arrived as I have never entered anything like this before. Whilst Kath and I enjoyed a lovely meal in the Hand and Flower pub we were staying in the night before we contemplated what lay ahead. It was nothing like what we discussed. As we registered I was asked if I would like to go 1st and 2nd round or 2nd and 3rd round. I jumped at the 2nd and 3rd as I wanted to get my bearings and take everything in, not just be thrown right into it. That’s the thing I have begun to learn with sight loss you need to prepare physically and emotionally for a lot of things. This way you stand more of a chance of getting the best out of the experience.
So as we sat there we sat taking it all in Kath was giving me a description of what the first round of competitors were doing, which was interesting but kind of glad I couldn’t see them. We got talking with another lovely therapist who sat behind us with her model. She had been practicing for 35 years and gave some great tips. As lovely as she was, I still felt a little intimidated. Then it hit me I was the baby in this arena! Which felt weird as I am nowhere near a spring chicken as I approach the big 40! I did start to worry but then for once in my life my sight loss was a positive and on my side. I said to myself “Nina, you can’t see anyone else so why worry. Just do your thing and that will be enough!” So I did!
The competition rounds flew by so quick. The first round where I chose to do aromatherapy, went well. I was happy with what I had done and felt confident. The second round didn’t go so well. This was the freestyle and as I didn’t know what this really entailed as the information from the organisers was very vague. I could hear banging of wood blocks, ringing of Tibetan bowls and what sounded like yoga instruction, I thought oh no! Then I started to cough and that was it! I recovered but I knew it was done. I continued with the treatment but it was not my best work. Yes I was a little disappointed but that is life! Things happen in life that is sometimes out of our control. It is how we react to them and handle the aftermath of it that changes the experience. Yes I messed up but I handled it well and I was there and didn’t run away. I was proud of myself for this.
So once it was all over, I managed not to flash Kath’s bits (well I nearly did – Sorry Kath!) but it was all okay. We packed my bits up and then had to wait around until 4pm for the results. There was only prizes for the top three in each category. The competition was a part of a beauty show so we thought we would check out what was on offer. I wanted to see if there were any companies that aligned with Five Senses Therapies ethos. The only one really was Neil’s Yard, but since I already have an oil’s supplier and I have recently become an ambassador for Tropic I decided not to enquire further.
Earlier that morning before the competition started, we popped to the toilet as the nervous belly kicked in. On the way as the stands were setting up Kath spotted a nail bar stand that was promoting Braille nails. Yes, you heard it right, Braille nails! They spotted me as we did them and they were so excited to have a blind lady at the show who could test the nails out in person. The lady Amanda was so lovely. She started the business with her partner and they have created a space that combines their two areas of expertise. Hospitality and nails, boasting a bar in the salon with a great experience which we intend to check out when we re-visit London.
Anyway, back to the amazing Braille nails. When we were mooching about, we went back to the stand and they offered to do our nails. The lady who did my nails was called Carla she was so lovely and concentrated very hard to make sure the nails and Braille letters were just perfect. She did not disappoint.
We had to choose what we wanted on our nails and as I was having such a great day and feeling supported and loved I wanted FEEL LOVE, Kath went for GOOD TIMES as I think that is what I felt Kath was having. We felt so welcomed and pampered. Carla was telling me how she is trying to bring the initiative to other salons across the country. I want to help! The more salons that have this, the more awareness of sight loss can be made. I offered to share it with some of my contacts in Manchester. So, watch this space! Who knows, one day soon you may be able to pop to your favourite nail salon and get some Braille nails yourself. You can find more out about it and their salons on their website here. Amanda worked with the RNIB to come up with the idea and how to put it into practice. A great project all round.
After our nails and making some lovely friends it was time for the winners announcement, The nerves were kicking in but I was ready, I know I tried my best and I know there were lot’s more experienced therapists up there than me, but I was ready…….
I didn’t win this time!!!
The lady from Iris Avenue who competed in the second round came in third. We were so happy for her. The banana man won first prize. I should probably tell you why he is called the banana man. Earlier on we were walking to the cafe to get a tea and we wanted a banana. Kath spotted a man eating one and asked him where he got it. He said he brought it! I guess he saw the disappointment and he brought a banana over to us to share. How lovely, so we were super happy he won.
Sat on the train back to Manchester I was a little deflated. Then Kath reminded me of all. The other wins I had that day. The biggest one being travelling on the London Underground. That is a whole new blog post, which I will share soon. It was challenging but we did it along with so many others over the weekend. That is what was the important and most empowering thing to take from the weekend. It is always good to find the positives in life to take from an experience. Yes the negatives are there too, but it is about where you want to spend your energy. I believe that is what makes the difference between a good or a bad experience.
Thank you to my amazing PA, Kath, for supporting me throughout I couldn’t have completed the whole experience without you. Thank you to all the lovely people who helped me on the day and to all the amazing people I met, some of you will remain in my heart and some of you I will see again.
Thanks for reading lovelies.