Transcription of interview
Time: 36:35 minutes
Jessy: Fantastic well, welcome Ali to this Wild Within interview. So, part of these interviews is to talk to other people to learn about, you know what helps them stay true to themselves and to connect with the wild within. So, Ali is a lovely, dear good friend of mine that has helped me so much, and I’m so blessed to have in my life. So, Ali is a soul inspired by creativity, stories and nature and ideas, and you’re a visual artist, and writing your first book, yay. And what I love about your work and everything is that you use creativity to kind of nurture these very deep connections as a way of kind of expressing yourself and in turn, enabling us to express ourselves as well. So, I absolutely love your work and everything that you do, it’s absolutely brilliant. Andi t’s almost like giving that permission for us to give it a go, like just be, everyone’s creative. Just have a go. Brilliant. So, did you want to just tell us a little bit about yourself, what’s made you want to be on this path? Just tell us about you really.
Ali Roe: Okay. Yeah, it’s, wow, what an expansive question. Yeah, it’s basically the place to start is, but I’ve had a really interesting journey with myself to this point in my life that, you know, I can see is, it’s going to be an ongoing path of learning and development and change and mistakes. And you know, and that I haven’t always been, although I firmly believe that I have a soul that is creative, wild, natural, imaginative, and deep. I haven’t always allowed that. And I took quite a different path in the earlier part of my life in that I loved school. I loved learning. And so, I followed a traditional route of A levels, University.
You get sucked into this sort of funnel I think of, this is what’s expected. And if you don’t do that route, this is what you do. And all the way along right through to finishing my degree. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. And still don’t think I’m grown up.
Jessy: The say growing up is, no, yeah, sort of becoming old is, you know, you have to do it. But growing up is optional.
Ali Roe: Yeah, that’s great, exactly. We have age, but growing up, yeah, no, I love that, it applies for me. So that whole, I chose the university course based on subjects I love doing. It wasn’t about what am I going to do as a job. And you get sucked into this funnel at the other end of university or certainly at the time. I mean, we’re talking late 80s when I finished so it’s rather a long time ago, it may be different nowadays. Harder, I think for younger people and coming out of university. You go down this huge route of graduate interviews and graduate jobs and graduate traineeships and I just fell into that without really kind of consciously thinking does this suit me. And, cut a very long story short ended up in a, after a couple of years doing other things and realizing they didn’t work out including a trainee accountancy based at a big accountancy firm and starting after a year going, what am I doing? This is not me.
Jessy: I can’t imagine you as an accountant.
Ali Roe: Oh, exactly. I mean, it was so really boring, stuffy people really horrible, very, very patriarchal and male. I mean, they were trying to get more women in but you just knew if you were a woman, you were gonna have to fight twice as hard as anyone else to get anywhere, you know, and, oh, the whole thing just makes me shudder now. As you can see, I’m physically doing that. But I did it for a year and I learned a lot about myself, but then I fell into another graduate trainee scheme in human resources after doing a year of postgrads training in human resource management. And that’s where I established my career. And I suppose it’s a long way of saying, I went into management, I went into business, I went into the whole graduate, you know, right, earning money, ambition, get promoted, move here, get a car, do this do that and without actually consciously knowing if that’s what my heart and soul really wanted.
Jessy: Wow, yeah.
Ali Roe: And so, in my early 30s, combined with some sort of stuff around fertility and children and other issues that were coming up at that point of my life and struggling with my hormones, which was also linked to the stress of my situation at work. I had a burnout and serious sort of medicated depression.
So, in my early 30s, and that was my first big awakening to Whoa, life, you know, life is not what I expected. And I made some choices that have got me here. And, you know, what am I doing? And so, really a big enlightenment moment, that still wasn’t the final piece of the jigsaw of realizing what my inner self wanted. But, you know, that was a big part of my journey and why I’m doing what I’m doing now.
Jessy: But that’s it, isn’t it? It’s Like we? What we don’t know, do we but as kids, we sort of think, Oh, this is what we, this is success. This is what we’re aiming for. And this is kind of part of all the conditions that are put on us. Actually, you know, we need to be married with kids and, you know, it’s like that. This image is sold to us all the time. This is happiness. This is acceptance.
Ali Roe: Yeah.
Jessy: But then, you know, and you’re not the only person. So many people get to a certain point and you have a breakdown because it’s almost like we’re feeding the ego when the, almost like the physical body, but not the soul. And that’s what’s missing, isn’t it?
Ali Roe: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Jessy: That is massively what’s missing, yeah.
Ali Roe: Absolutely. And it’s like when I look back now, what I see more of is how I was up till about the age of 10. A wild yeah, what was called then, and I’m not sure I like the term but it’s the best one I’ve got, a tomboy. I would always have scraped knees. I always had bruises. My hair was longish but so tangly that my mom actually carted me off to the hair dresser’s one day and said, “right, I warned you often enough, it’s all coming off,” which, as we can see, it also is now. You know,
Jessy: This is your choice though; we have to say.
Ali Roe: I was, you know, I was a, I wasn’t a girly girl. I loved nature and I loved going out to look at tadpoles and things with dad in the ponds. And so, when I, you know, this kind of period of disconnect between what happened you know, when I do ask myself that question, What on earth happened between the ages of 10 and the age of around about, you know, 18 to 21, enjoyed University at that time, but then after that what happened.
Jessy: How do we get on?
Ali Roe: Yeah. What taught me to forget, and to repress and to ignore all of those childhood excitements, and yearnings and doings, you know, that actually inform.
Jessy: Desires and passions.
Ali Roe: Yeah, those inform me of who I really am. And what happens to us in between, to force us into these very narrow channels of this is acceptable, and this is what you must do. And I fell for all that hook line and sinker, I’m not blaming anyone.
Jessy: And anyone else, yeah.
Ali Roe: I fell, I thought, Oh, yeah, I could have a company car. I could have this. I could have that. But it’s all an illusion and the kind of first, the burnout and the first period of depression I suffered woke me up to some of that. That’s now nearly 20 years ago, and I’m still learning. I’m still on that journey of recovering from that whole process, very fascinating.
Jessy: It really is, isn’t it, but then it’s almost like it took you 20 odd, 30 odd years to get to that point.
Ali Roe: Yes.
Jessy: It’s not going to go away in a year. Well, I was gonna say an hour, but you know, a year. It’s gonna take almost as long, isn’t it?
Ali Roe: Yeah, yeah definitely.
Jessy: It’s not only learning a new way, it’s unlearning. So, it’s like getting all those conditions.
Ali Roe: Oh, absolutely and if I’m honest Jessy, No, I haven’t, I haven’t unpacked all of it. And I’m not sure I ever will. But it’s kind of now, you know, seeing it as cycles of learning and spirals.
Jessy: The spirals, like yeah, you know, I love the spirals.
Ali Roe: Your beautiful picture behind, yeah, I do see it as that and that you learn something, and you integrate part of it. But the truth for me is that I only ever integrate part of anything really at any one time. And then I might circle around again and have to learn a little bit more and a little bit more. And actually, I’m learning to love that process, really, I’m learning to love myself going through that process.
Jessy: Fantastic and you do it so gracefully as well, from what I’ve seen, but I always think that, with these kinds of things, I mean, the spiral is perfect for it. It’s almost like, each time you come round, you’re that much wiser, that much stronger, so you can handle the bit more. So, it’s always like, if you’re sorting the loft out or something, you can’t do it in one go. That’s kind of what I compare it to. You can only do it a box at a time, and then you need a break from it, don’t you? And then you go back and you’re stronger when you go back. So, tell me who or what inspired you to kind of go down the creative route? Because I mean, HR, to. I mean I know the breakdown had a massive part of that. But yeah, kind of what were your inspirations?
Ali Roe: Well, yeah. Isn’t that a fascinating question? And there isn’t one, there isn’t one answer. There isn’t anything that pops into my mind that says, well, this was the moment or this was the person or this was the thing. I think it’s been a gradual reawakening and reclaiming of who I was always meant to be.
Now I don’t, I don’t have an any religious or particularly strong spiritual beliefs or faith. But I do have this sense that there is a core me, and the best word I can use for that is Soul. And that it’s almost like it’s so strong in me that, that is what influences me to reclaim and come back to myself and reawaken to myself all of the time. So, there have been different things along the path, different books that I’ve read or sometimes films that I’ve watched, or people that I’ve met who sort of share something or something comes from that, that I can add another piece to the jigsaw of healing if you like.
But there isn’t, there isn’t honestly one thing other than to say, you know. I just think it is that kind of gradual process of reclaiming and reawakening to what was always really meant to be me.
Jessy: So, the one thing is actually, You, it’s your soul talking to you.
Ali Roe: Yeah, it’s, yeah.
Jessy: It’s not external, you’ve kind of turned around and looked inwards. And it’s like, oh, actually, I do know the answers, It is all here. And it is just the case of, not just a case of, but process of connecting with it. So, what kind of.
Ali Roe: No, no, it’s just that I mean, it can sound a little bit. Yeah, I don’t want that to sound arrogant at all. But actually, you know, the truth is, that we all have that, that inner core, it’s about finding it. And things have influenced me, as I say, there’s been a lot of different influences over time, in any particular moment, or for periods of time where I’ve been particularly inspired by somebody say, like, Elizabeth Gilbert, the writer. Her work, for example, has helped me and supported me. But those things are not like something I would say is Oh, my only inspiration, it comes from everywhere, and it comes from nature, and it comes from something I might read on social media, and it just clicks. And so, it’s all these tiny, tiny pieces that are helping me to reclaim Me.
Jessy: Yeah, but no, it doesn’t sound arrogant at all, because this is what I talk about, as well. It’s that we have a deep knowing inside us. We are the experts in our lives and its sort of like, why do we take on external messages to kind of define who we are. And then and then it does end up where our soul or like what I call our wild within just screams at is like, No, I don’t want to do this anymore.
Ali Roe: Yes, Stop!
Jessy: And it turns out as illnesses, as you know in my work, I work with a lot of depression, anxiety, you know, things like that and this is it because we’re so disconnected.
Ali Roe: Absolutely and I think just to add there, and another part of the story is that, about 11 years ago, now, my husband and I gave up our career jobs in response to some of that learning that I’d done and we relocated but then I had another episode of depression. So, I was in what was meant to be my perfect life, my redefined lifestyle, you know I’d made deliberate, we’d made, deliberate conscious choices to change how we live, to work for ourselves. All these things that were meant to be the right thing. And I had another serious depression, that saw me spend probably around six weeks pretty much living from my bedroom. And so, that was another piece of this jigsaw of Oh, well, this is meant to be perfect now, what the hell is going on?
And something was still not right. So, that was another example. I think of what you said you know. Illness, some kind of internal mechanism is going on to communicate with you. That’s certainly how it felt to me that.
You still haven’t quite got all the pieces in place here Ali, there’s still work to do. And that, if I’m very honest, was as much if not more of a shock to my system as the first burnout and depression had been. Because life was meant to be perfect. That was meant to be my I’ve done it all now, this is okay, this is what I want.
And I think is really where I latched on to the whole creativity piece. Because after I’d recovered from that, that’s when I decided, right, I’m going to art college. And that’s when I allowed the creativity to start to lead me, and I started to feel into that as right that’s where I really need to express myself. It took the second episode of illness to kind of wake me up to, you’re still not quite there yet girl.
Jessy: So, it was almost like the illness pushed you didn’t it, into really finding your soul purpose in a way? Yeah. And again, it’s almost that expectation, we put this that Oh, okay, I’ll do X, Y, and Z, that’s going to cure it. I don’t believe it’s about curing it, It’s about really connecting with it, isn’t it? Is that we can’t run away from it.
Ali Roe: Yeah.
Jessy: It’s facing it isn’t it?
Ali Roe: Yeah, it is, isn’t it? Yeah, facing it and stopping repressing. Actually, that’s been a keyword for me lately, realizing I was still repressing, so that real physical, putting down the desires and the needs and the methods of expression that I want and I’m still not quite there, I’ll be honest, you know, I still.
There’s still stuff to work on in terms of fully allowing myself to be as creative and free and expressive as I want to be but I am getting there. And oh, yeah, I just feel like I kind of know so much more about myself. And I’m so much more, happy to stand in my own truth. And know that some of what seems right for other people isn’t for me.
And own that and live that. I really feel that strongly that that’s, I mean, I’m in my early 50s, now, you know, and that feels like it’s also a life stage thing. But I’m kind of able to say well, okay, maybe that’s your script of what I meant to do. But Nah, that’s not for me
Jessy: You’re too wild to fit in anyone’s script, and I love what you posted the other day about what was it? Creativity that’s not allowed out, sort of turns into illness or something along those lines.
Ali Roe: Yes, it was a Brene Brown quote that one. Yeah, she’s I mean, she’s another, you know, amazing researcher and writer that I, has influenced me. Yes, and her quote was about unexpressed creativity is not benign. And she says something along the lines of it metastasizes, like a cancer and fills us with grief, rage, shame, anger. And I thought, you know, I really connected with that quote, because I have experienced all of that over such a long period of time. And I actually think that’s what the depression was trying to tell me. That I was grieving what I wasn’t allowing myself to be. And I was, yeah, I mean, shame has been a big one for me since my childhood. That’s a big button, a big script for me that I’m still working on. And so, I really identified with that quote when I saw it, and realizing how, and you know, I define creativity so broadly. It isn’t just about art, and drawing and painting, we can be creative in almost infinite ways.
Jessy: That is what I love about your work, because it’s almost like, I’ve always had this thing of, I’m not creative.
Because It’s like, I can’t draw. I mean, my stickmen are just hilarious. But you know like the other day when I just sat out there, and I was playing with the gravel that we had in the garden, and I mean that’s creativity.
Ali Roe: Yes, you’re creative. Your photography as well Jessy, your beautiful photography, that is, in fact, creative expression.
And, you know, yeah, yes, I call myself, one of my labels for myself is visual artists. But, you know, I actually, I can’t do perspective and depth, and my brain just doesn’t work that way. So, my drawing skills are patchy at best. But I challenged myself to go to art college and to reveal all of that vulnerability, which wasn’t always easy. And to kind of defy the whole, I need to be able to draw to be creative. And it’s what’s helped me broaden out that definition. Creativity can be how we dress, how we talk, it can be through dance, it can be through cooking, it can be the way we decorate our homes. So, yeah
Jessy: How, how we do our hair? And we’ve had this conversation before, haven’t we that, that permission to be creative Is a sort of, such an expression of the soul. Like everything that we do around us, that is who we are and that’s what we need to kind of get out there. And like images or a piece of art or anything that is, you know. What is it? An image speaks 1000 words?
Ali Roe: Yes, yeah.
Jessy: That just captures it. Just in one essence, and I love that. I love that. And I love that you give us permission to, do that. And, you know, like the things that you’ve run the last few months. And it’s sort of like, well, actually, yeah, I’m gonna try this thing. And, you know, it’s almost like, you can’t get it wrong. And it’s like, whatever you create is an expression at that time. So, how can you get it wrong?
Ali Roe: Yes, yes, absolutely. And what one of the other key, you know, the key traps that I have fallen into in the past is the comparison trap of, Oh, my art’s not as good as that, or my, this isn’t as good as so and so on. And so, this whole philosophy around creativity, having such a broad definition, is also attached to that whole don’t compare, because if you’re comparing, actually, you’re not being creative, probably because you’re trying to copy or imitate what someone else has done before you. So, go ahead, do your own thing. And it kind of goes back to what we were talking about earlier around the whole script were given.
Right. Why don’t you just try deviating from that script, just a bit of ad-libbing in your life and don’t think you’ve got to have your garden look exactly the same as someone else’s. You can be creative in your flower bed in your this, in your that. You don’t have to do it, how the book says or how someone else does it, for me that’s other side. The other element of creativity is yes, you can do it in many different ways. But you’re, it’s about your personal expression, and therefore you can’t get it wrong. It’s impossible to get it wrong if It’s expressing you. And the only way you get it wrong is by comparing it to something or have, even if that comparison is the expectation of what you had in your own mind. This is how I wanted it to look and that’s how it looks and uugh, but actually, it is wrong because it’s got to come out and maybe I need to do it again or practice again to get it nearer the image I had in my head but that doesn’t mean the original was wrong.
Jessy: Yeah. Oh, I love that. So, it is really about the kind of expectations like externally, internally, all of that, it’s like letting go of that, yeah.
Ali Roe: Internal as much as external I find. Yeah, that whole you know, you build yourself a script don’t you of what it should be like, so yeah.
Jessy: So, what kind of things do you do to kind of stay true to you and your soul? And I mean, I know you said you flip the script and think like that. But have you got any kind of strategies or things that you?
Ali Roe: Yeah, you really have made me think there. Well, I think it for me, it is just about diving in. It really is just about saying, Okay, well, what does it feel like today, what wants to come out? And then diving into, do that. Now I, again, I don’t always do this. And I’m actually yeah, funnily enough in a cycle at the moment of not allowing myself to do that, which is probably why it’s coming up as the first answer to your question. Dive in, and just have a go. What I often find is when I do that, something different emerges than I was thinking would come or I go completely off the script, sometimes. But what comes out is very often, something even more amazing or fun than I could have ever imagined. Or it’s, you know, telling me something that I hadn’t even realized I needed to hear or see. So, I think yeah, one of those strategies is dive in and just do it don’t think too much. Because I can, you know, my mind gets too over-involved in everything. So, like with writing the book, and you and I have been on this journey together around writing the book, more often than not, when I get blocked, it’s because up here is got too involved and I’m not just sitting down with pen and paper or keyboard and doing it.
Jessy: Brilliant, yeah. So, it’s really kind almost like coming out of our heads and really just getting into the, like, embody it. And then the messages from the soul will come out, won’t they? And there’s so much better than we can think really.
Ali Roe: Quite, yeah. And that’s the point, you know, if you just get on and dive in, and not working too much to a plan. I mean, I wrote that very thing in my journal this morning about my writing process, was right, the more I think I need a framework and a plan. The more I’m, and I wrote these words, the more I can put myself in a prison cell. And I haven’t got the freedom I need to create if I’m trying to do it from a plan and a framework up here. So, what I’m learning on the unbound writing mastermind with Nicola Humber is the freedom of the unbound way of just allowing yourself to write and then at some point in the future, I’ll come to the realization I’ve probably got enough there to put a book together now. What should we call it? What should it be? You know, and it’s that, it’s totally the other way around how I ever expected.
Jessy: I think the writing mastermind has been the other way for all of us as an as we do have these expectations of, oh, a book… chapter one… that isn’t. our soul doesn’t, we’re too wild it not work like that does it?
Ali Roe: But yeah, that’s right. For us unbound women, us unbound writers it doesn’t suit us does it to do that. It is too much of a cage. I mean, I’ve used prison cell in my journal, but a cage, and we are wild, wild women, wild beings that do not enjoy being caged. It’s that mental image of myself as the caged Tiger going up and down. And you know, oh, you know, that feeling of the power that wants to come out, but isn’t being allowed out because it’s caged.
Jessy: Oh, gosh, that is so powerful. And, and it’s almost like we get into this point, we’ve been uncaging ourselves from all sorts of things haven’t we, like jobs and family and idea of creativity.
And now it’s sort of, well, we’re at the point of this idea of actually what a book should be and actually, we can’t get it wrong because it’s our inner selves talking. It’s our soul to speak out, isn’t it?
Ali Roe: Yeah, absolutely. And I think the recognition as well, that probably means it won’t be for everybody. And that’s something I’ve you know, really had to try and come to terms with and I’m still not quite over that block and barrier of fear yet of so, this ain’t gonna suit, everyone, how am I going to deal with the people who don’t like what I’ve done or don’t receive it well. But you know, that that comes with that, I think. That wildness comes with some elements of not everybody’s going to like this because not everybody is able to see that, the joy of that freedom. They’re still choosing perhaps to be more confined within the script.
Jessy: Yeah, yeah. And you know, it’s fine, it works for some people, and they can live quite happy lives kind of being that that’s absolutely fine. It’s when we find ourselves feeling ill and unhappy, that’s when we do need to kind of almost like, connect with our inner selves, and, you know, like you do it through creativity and I do it through photography. You know, all that side of things. It is so powerful, isn’t it?
Ali Roe: It is, I mean, I’ve realized I can’t happily live any other way. You know, and sometimes it’s not, it’s not always easy. When I’ve tried to kind of do it a bit more to script, I can do that for so long, and I can bring so much energy to that, and then I burn out. And then, illness will follow and because I’ve gone through that cycle two or three times, I know enough now to know that I have to allow myself that freedom. Even if that means earning less than my potential may have otherwise had, having less than some of my peers who have chosen a different route. But that’s okay with me. I’m really happy to give those things up to have the level of freedom of both lifestyle and expression that I have. I’m happy to give up some of the material things and actually realized, you know, the last five to 10 years, I don’t actually even want them.
Jessy: Well, we don’t need them, we don’t need half of it do we?
Ali Roe: Exactly, it’s not just about wanting is it, I do not need or want those things. I’m getting a real feeling of “enoughness” I make up my own words.
Ali Roe: I love your words.
Jessy: It is isn’t it? Like we get to a point I think, and I find is like the goal isn’t happiness, it’s contentment. And it’s like, I’ve got enough, yeah, and it’s fine what I’ve got, my own good thing and this trend is good. But we are fighting daily messages of, ah, you’re not enough because you’ve not got the latest car, the latest phone or, and it’s like well, actually I’m quite happy where I’m at I content with what I’ve got, it’s not like, I don’t know what top of the range or
Ali Roe: Yeah.
Jessy: Super expensive, but
Ali Roe: Yeah.
Jessy: It doesn’t need to be because it’s like you say, the soul expression and that kind of freedom. That’s worth any amount of money really.
Ali Roe: Absolutely, and contentment to me is such a deeper thing than happiness. Contentment, to me, is an inner state, whereas happiness is a temporary outer state. And I find that if you chase that whole, I’ll be happy when I have…
Ali Roe: X, y, z, you know the new phone, there’s always another one of those coming, because that’s how other people make their money from you. And so, to me turning inwards to find actually what’s the truth of what makes me content and those for me of very simple things. Peace and quiet, freedom, nature, intimate connection with one or two friends and people, I don’t need loads of friends, I don’t need loads of socializing. I’m introverted so, I don’t like to go out a lot. I’ve kind of worked out over these 50 years what makes me deeply content and luckily, you know, I am lucky, I do appreciate how lucky I am to not have that challenged too often. I’ve got those things, there in my bubble, and I can hold on to most of them, most of the time, and I am very grateful for that. But that comes from within as well. Yeah, it’s totally a thing within its, and happiness to me is often I mean, yeah, I want moments of happiness, but they’re often related to things external to me, and then they go as quickly as they come.
Jessy: I love that, that’s brilliant. Okay, so lastly, my cheeky question, if you were an animal, what would you be and why?
Ali Roe: Oh wow, wow, gosh. I’ve always had an affinity to predatory animals, I don’t know what that says about me! But, well birds of prey.
Ali Roe: And so, I love owls.
Ali Roe: Birds of prey but I mean, I think oh, my soul answer. And this goes back to I’m thinking I can see the image of a book or the cover of a book that I had as a child, Tiger. It’s the Tiger all the way for me and whilst one of my animal guides is a fox, no, for me, it’s the Tiger.
Ali Roe: There’s something so regal and self-possessed to me about the Tiger and secretive and you know just that air of mystery and wonder and power. Yeah, yeah it’s got to be the Tiger.
Jessy: That kind of that confidence, that kind of I’m here, that presence that goes with it.
Ali Roe: You know sometimes that’s, a lot of that is in the background hidden away, doesn’t need to be overly showy, but oh gosh it’s there, that majesty, that power.
Jessy: I love it that is SO you and I can just imagine you kind of also curling up kind of having a nap when you need to. Oh yes, spending most of my time asleep, yes, on the jungle floor, absolutely. For definite Yeah, I mean, I love, you know how I love cats. So, I think the whole feline thing is a thing for me. But the tiger for me is the epitome of that felineness.
Jessy: Oh, I love it. I love it full-on wildness, be really cool with it.
Ali Roe: Absolutely.
Jessy: Oh, well. Thank you so much Ali for your time.
Ali Roe: Jessy it’s my pleasure I’ve loved it.
Jessy: Brilliant and always for your friendship and connection as well, fantastic. Well, thank you.
Ali Roe: Thank you.
Jessy: I’ll stop the recording now, take care.
Ali Roe: Thank you, Jessy, goodbye