Real-life reads

Honor’s or s heal­ing re­treat; league ue mum’s fight for her girl; the woman sav­ing ng monarch but­ter­flies

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - Contents -

From the out­side, ou Honor Strat­ton Stra has it all – a lov­ing lovi hus­band, healthy ch chil­dren, a thriv­ing busi­ness and a peace­ful home ho away from the city.

But the Auck­lan­der has clawed her way through a se­ries of life chal­lenges, in­clud­ing heart­break from ad­dic­tion, fer­til­ity is­sues and solo mother­hood. It’s those very tri­als that led the mum-of-two to a ru­ral idyll north of the city for those strug­gling with life.

Born in Eng­land, Honor was 19 when she first thought about vol­un­teer­ing. Her un­cle had died from Aids, along with his boyfriend, dur­ing a time when neg­a­tiv­ity sur­rounded the dis­ease, which af­fected many in Lon­don’s gay com­mu­nity.

“It was around the time Fred­die Mer­cury died and Aids was huge, but it wasn’t talked about a lot,” she says. “There was a lot of blame on the gay com­mu­nity for us­ing drugs

and be­ing pro­mis­cu­ous, and it re­ally im­pacted me.”

Ea­ger to help, Honor joined as a buddy at the Ter­rence Hig­gins Trust, a char­ity work­ing with HIV and Aids pa­tients. Not long af­ter, she met a Kiwi on his OE, who she mar­ried at 25 and spent a year with in Sri Lanka, where she learnt yoga.

“He was this amaz­ing, gor­geous guy and the ab­so­lute love of my life,” says Honor, who moved with him to Auck­land and con­tin­ued her buddy work. “We spent 11 years to­gether, but the last few were re­ally hard. He slipped into drugs, al­co­hol and ad­dic­tion, and couldn’t hold down a job by the end. Our bank ac­counts were be­ing cleaned out and leav­ing him was the hard­est thing I’ve ever had to do emo­tion­ally.”

Not long be­fore the mar­riage ended, Honor was given the sad news she prob­a­bly couldn’t have kids, so when she fell preg­nant at 35 af­ter a sum­mer fling, her world was flipped on its head.

“A lot of peo­ple around me said not to do it be­cause it’d be too much, but I de­cided it’s what I’d al­ways wanted and told my­self I’d be OK,” she re­calls. “I felt like I was a ris­ing phoenix tak­ing it on, which was em­pow­er­ing.”

Leav­ing her pri­mary school teach­ing job, Honor wel­comed daugh­ter Min­nie, now 12, and ran baby yoga classes to make ends meet. One day, she was told about a holis­tic re­treat north of Auck­land, called An­tara.

In­vited to teach yoga as a vol­un­teer at the venue, Honor ner­vously clutched her four-month-old and in­tro­duced her­self, set­ting eyes on the re­treat’s then­man­ager Craig Parker. Now the re­treat’s chair­per­son, he’s also her hus­band and fa­ther of their son Milo, 10.

“I re­mem­ber us ly­ing on couches in the liv­ing room that first evening, chat­ting about ev­ery­thing,” she tells. “The next day, Min­nie was ir­ri­ta­ble and Craig came over to help. He picked her up, rocked and held her for a bit, and then she fell asleep in his arms.”

Two weeks later, Craig turned up on Honor’s doorstep hold­ing a fish he’d caught. “He said, ‘Do you like fish? I’d love to cook you din­ner.’ He whisked me off my feet,” she smiles.

Af­ter Milo was born, Honor be­came quite sick. “My di­ges­tive sys­tem packed up and I had pain worse than child­birth. The doc­tors didn’t know what was go­ing on, so I saw a nat­u­ral health ther­a­pist, who said I was eat­ing all the wrong foods.”

She turned to raw in­gre­di­ents, smooth­ies and sal­ads, be­fore study­ing Ayurveda – an area of health ded­i­cated to the di­ges­tive sys­tem – and start­ing her own prac­tice. Still vol­un­teer­ing at An­tara, she also joined its sis­ter char­ity An­tara Nat­u­ral Health Clinic in Auck­land. She’s still there, help­ing vol­un­teers to pro­vide holis­tic ser­vices to peo­ple who can’t af­ford it.

“There’s so much wis­dom be­tween those walls and it’s re­ally busy, but we all work for free and rely on fundrais­ing.”

Honor – who works along­side or­gan­i­sa­tions like Rain­bow Youth and Youth­line – has sup­ported peo­ple with all kinds of phys­i­cal, men­tal and emo­tional prob­lems. Since many guests are deal­ing with trauma, the re­treat bans smok­ing, drugs, al­co­hol and sex, fo­cus­ing on in­ter­nal health with mainly or­gan­i­cally grown, vege­tar­ian food. It’s her hope that more peo­ple will come through the doors, leav­ing health­ier and in­spired.

“Good peo­ple can go through bad things, but we have the choice to be an in­spi­ra­tion to oth­ers by shar­ing our sto­ries,” she says. “What’s the point of hav­ing wis­dom un­less we share it?”

Craig won Honor over as the baby whis­perer when her daugh­ter wouldn’t set­tle, then by cook­ing her a meal. “He whisked me off my feet,” she says.Honor-ing hher call­ing: Teach­ing yoga at An­tara (right), where vol­un­teersvo of­fer free holis­tic ser­vices.serv Be­low: Mar­ry­ing CraCraig in 2012.

it s In­spi­ra­tional mum: Honor with her chil­dren Min­nie and Milo at the re­treat. “There’s so much wis­dom be­tween those walls,” she says.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.