The Wise Why
#33 Gloria Wilkinson – Abandoned to Inspiring: A Remarkable Journey
About This Episode
Gloria who most people call Glo is a fitness professional, who specializes in teaching Yoga, Barre, Zumba and 1-2-1 Personal training sessions combining HIIT (High Intensity Tempo Training) with aerobics and dance and chair-based exercise for the more mature and people with limited movement.
I asked Gloria on the show as exercise must be for all, it is very easy to fall into despair if you find yourself unable to undertake your normal exercise due to injury. Gloria also runs regular Rose and Pose retreats where she combines wellness through creativity, movement, Yoga and art.
When Gloria is not working on all the above you can find her working full-time as the office manager for a canal boat cranage and vessel repair company in Watford. I find Gloria’s work ethic inspiring as well as exhausting and I promise this will be yet another open, honest, and frank conversation.
Episode #33 : Full Transcription
This episode starts off with technical difficulties due to phone signal. Gloria Wilkinson did manage to join the call, in the meantime Kirsty van den Bulk filled in the time.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Good morning, and welcome to the Wise Why. We’re a bit late this morning because, as usual with lives, we had some technical difficulties. And I love that about going live. Now, this morning, I am joined by the fabulous Gloria, who is currently sitting in a car and moving the phone around, as you can see. Now, Gloria is is incredible. She’s known as Glow. We have got so many crossovers, as we were just discussing in our lives, that is absolutely incredible. Her journey is powerful. Everything that she has achieved and Pivoted, my goodness, she is just an awesome lady. So enough about me over to Glow. Please introduce yourself. I’m hoping she can hear me. Can you hear me? Oh, we’re on mute. That’s okay. As I said, lives go wrong. And it’s really good not to panic. And it’s really good to take a breath when things go wrong, because they will. And I know what’s known as, infinite spaces. We tried to get Gloria’s microphone to work. We may actually have to log, um, out and log back in again. And this is one of the things I really want to talk about, about going live. Everybody has a fear of it going wrong. And actually what you have to do is you have to lean into it and breathe. And you have to accept that things will go wrong, because if you don’t, you’re going to end up panicking when they do. As you can see this morning, Gloria is trying to come in. She’s trying to go out. We may even have to stop the live and come back in on another stream. We don’t know yet. And, that’s the thrill of it. Here we go. I’m going to let her back into the studio. And, fingers crossed, we are all ready. I’m just going to wait and see. OK, let’s press that button. Are we ready? Here we go. Are you ready? Just speak for me, Gloria. No, you’re still on mute. This is the beauty. So let’s just talk about why the why’s why didn’t happen last week as Gloria’s getting ready. are you ready? Still no sound. Okay, so last week, I had a family emergency, and that’s actually why I canceled. Now, Caroline will be coming on the show shortly. It’s just life, and you have choices in life, whether you go and put work first or you decide to go with your family. In my case, I decided that family was far more important and it had to be my priority. Now everybody knows I set up this company, which was opening doors and is now KBB. And I set it up, so that I could have work life balance. I set it up so I could collect my daughter from school. And in this case, my husband needed me. And you know what? That is what I did. So that is where I went. Now I’m about to release a new video. I haven’t done it yet and I’m debating what to do now. I thought I would do it on body language, but, as we’re waiting for Gloria to join us, I’ll talk about body language right now. So a couple of things that you need to do when you’re on camera is you mustn’t take over the whole space, because if you do, and that means that you’re looking directly back to camera, you’re not giving the camera an angle that it really likes. And let’s see if Gloria is going to work. So that’s just a tip for this morning as we try to get Gloria into this, into the studio. Fingers crossed. It hasn’t given me a mute yet. I love it when things go wrong. There’s nothing better. No, still not working. Okay, so, Gloria, you can hear me. You should be being asked for to give access to your microphone before you come in the studio. Are you being asked for that? Nod your hair, shake your head. So, I don’t understand why this isn’t working.
Gloria Wilkinson: Oh, I heard you.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Awesome. Well, how was that for a start? For the Wise Why and infill and not panicking, everybody. So I hope the people who are watching this and enjoy the fact that things went wrong will actually applaud and go, Yay, well done. Enough about me. I’ve been talking now for a whole two and a half minutes. Enough about me. Gloria, take the floor.
Gloria Wilkinson: Thank you so much. I mean, my chewing gum slipped. I couldn’t hear you. anyway, that’s what happens in life, isn’t it? You’ve just got to pick it up and go with it. So, my name is Gloria. Thank you for having me. Thank you for waiting for me. a little bit about me. I am 56 years young. I’m a mum and a grandma and a mum of three grown men. And I don’t know how that happened, because when I see them come through the door, I’m absolutely amazed that they’ve got beards and everything. They’re 35, 33 and 27. I’ve got two grandchildren coming up to eight and the other one is six and they’re all boys. So I’ve had to be a pretty strong person because I’m the only girl. Although I do have a girl dog now. So, yeah, so that’s a little bit about me. I teach fitness and I work full time at Canal Boat Firm in Watford. And that’s why I’m m sitting in there oh, no. Right now. And pressure washing, and it’s very loud.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Yeah, I remember you saying that you just read something that was, really key there. You said you have to be a strong woman. And I know that’s a scene that’s gone all the way through your life. And I wondered if you could expand a little bit, because, I mean, in Dutch, everyone knows my husband’s Dutch. It’s called straw frau. Hopefully I’ve got that correct. And I absolutely love strong women. Ah, there’s a song from I’m getting my act together and putting it on the road called Strong Women Number. So strong women, we are powerful I’d love to explain you expand a little bit more on why you are such a strong, powerful, amazing lady.
Gloria Wilkinson: well, powerful, amazing. Well, thank you very much. I think you just got to keep going. I tend to launch into different piles of, shall we say, poo at various points in my life. So I think from the beginning it may be just an excuse, but I always feel that from the beginning it was quite a struggle. So I was a child that was abandoned on a doorstep. And although you don’t think it affects you, I think in the back of my mind it does. Because I’ve always thought, who am m I good enough or am I good enough? So the biggest thing I have is am I worthy? And I know it’s a thing that a lot of women go through, but I really feel that sometimes because I was an abandoned baby, that somewhere in the back of my head I think, if I’m not good enough for my birth mother, who am I good enough for? And I try not to hold on to that, but I think somewhere along the line I projected that. And then I then get myself into awkward situations in relationships, trusting people, and just being taken advantage of because I’m quite a nice person and sometimes I’ve had a lot of wolves and sheep’s clothing. So I think then coming out of those situations, I’ve had to be strong. And then the other things I’ve had to be strong is when you’re working in an environment where it’s mostly men and you’re the only woman, obviously, then you’ve got to be very strong as well. And it was very hard for me to get thick skin when I worked in distribution. So I worked in John Lewis for a long time. I’ve been the only woman in the warehouse with twelve other managers. It was hard. I had to, you know, grow very thick skin and it was kind of against my nature to do that. so I guess from launching from bad relationships and working in very male environments, you then tend to become strong. And then having three boys, that made me strong because I did the majority of that as a single parent as well.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Well, thank you so much and respect for you for that, because we don’t necessarily look at the impact of childhood trauma. Everyone knows that I have had, traumatic things happen in my life and the impact of that trauma we try to push down. So thank you for sharing about that. It’s really important being the only female in a male dominated parent. I identify with that completely and I know that a, ah, lot of people who will be listening to this do and it is hard, it is challenging. You do have to be strong and you do have to hold yourself up. I can’t identify with being the mother of boys because I’ve got a girl, so I get to do pretty dresses. Although she is very much a, while she’s not at the top of the tree. But thank you so much for sharing and I know the challenges. as I said, I’m not going to touch on the abandonment because I can’t imagine what that is like. I can see from people I know who were adopted and, adoption is very passionate and something I care about very passionately. I can see the impact of that. So I can see it from an outsider. and I think sometimes with adoption we get it wrong. ah, even if you’re an adoptive parent, you might get it wrong because we project what we think. I don’t see from that.
Gloria Wilkinson: You know what I have to say, I’ve had an amazing childhood. So I was a brown baby in a white family, which obviously I was born in the 60s. So a being a brown baby in the 60s wasn’t a great idea. My dad was one of the first black barristers in this country. He was sort of gone ain’t and he met my mother. I have never met her. She was blonde, blue eyed, Scottish. And I don’t know how they met. I don’t know why they’d parted. But I ended up, being left at a place where he was renting and she walked away, obviously, in the sense of men don’t really look after babies. For me, luckily, the landlady was very liberal and I am everything I went through. I’m everything because of this lady. She, had two daughters and the youngest was 18 that just got married. And she took me in and became my mum. And when my father sadly died when I was five, she legally adopted me. So I’ve always been in that household, with those people. For me, being a brown baby in a white family was never really a problem. It was other people’s problems. you know, the name calling at school. There wasn’t many brown faces in my school at that time. But it never really affected me badly. It’s only recently that I kind of started to think, hold on a minute, I need to see where I come from. It sounds really bad that it’s taken me all this time to really get to grips with not being embarrassed that I was adopted or not being being embarrassed that I was brown, or not being embarrassed that I didn’t know my family. and now during COVID I just had this feeling that I need to kind of find these things out before it’s too late. Because obviously my mother will be in her and I have never been to Ghana. People go, but that’s your home.
Kirsty van den Bulk: But it’s not you’ve just frozen on us, unfortunately, gloria, hopefully you’ll come back in. And that was a really important point.
Gloria Wilkinson: I was born in Essex. I think I disappeared then, so I was born in Essex. So, I feel I’m really English.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Honestly. Thank you so much. I hold that really dear. Well, you know why I hold that dear? So, I hold that really dear?
Gloria Wilkinson: Because you’ll hear me, you’ll see me now.
Kirsty van den Bulk: I hold what you just said really dearly. I, hold it in my heart and I hold it in my heart and you know why I hold it in my heart and, I obviously don’t share that. So thank you so much for sharing that. I hope you go to Ghana. I have been to Ghana. I’ve got friends who are out there. I, have been to The Gambia. That’s as close as I’ve been. So go. and then tell me all about it, please.
Gloria Wilkinson: I do plan to now, and I plan to kind of dig a little bit into my path. My mum will always be my mum. I mean, she has had to put up with oh, was that, one of your one night’s terms? Because I have a white brother and a white sister, which now in a blended family in this day and age is not that unusual. But obviously back then, I was the oldest, so maybe it was just a little bit odd. But for me, it didn’t affect me too much, I have to say. And I just had a happy childhood and I was always just scoria. But what you mentioned about maybe how we have parents project, I was always just Gloria to my mum as well. And sometimes I think she feels maybe that was not the right thing to do because maybe it needed to be discussed a bit more about why I was discloriger. but it’s made me a strong person. Sometimes you have to put up with some kind of comments. But we blended family. It doesn’t matter who we are, we’ve all got a blended background. and so I think we just have to be kind when we’re speaking to people and just be aware.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Thank you.
Gloria Wilkinson: That the background of people. You have no idea who you’re talking to.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Thank you. And again, you have no idea how you could trigger somebody by just saying a innocuous. Ah. Oh, that’s a good word for me this morning. A comment that you’re not even aware that you’re going to say. so thank you so much for absolutely sharing that how which is what I’m really interested in is you’ve pivoted. So you’re now doing Gloria Fit and 50. Is that right? Gloria Fitz and 50.
Gloria Wilkinson: And you’re also doing the Glow Fit and 55.
Kirsty van den Bulk: There you go. And you’re also doing this is really I’d like you to talk about this because I love the fact that you use you run the rose and pose. I hope I’ve got that correct. Ah, retreat. And I love the way that you take something that’s broken and you bring it back together to show something of beauty. So, I wonder if you could expand a bit more about the rosemposed retreat so people can understand what the whole concept of bringing over an art together is.
Gloria Wilkinson: So my good friend Luisa Katado, who is an artist, she was a participant of mine when I used to teach in the gyms and we linked together because I loved her sculptures of roses and they’re made from paper, from just torn pieces of paper that kind of signified if your life is in pieces, you can then put those pieces together and make something really beautiful. And we just thought to blend it together with yoga, which is very meditative. It can be energizing, it can be empowering. There’s lots of different ways you can do yoga. so we do a yoga session, we make the roads, we have conversations with all the people. There’s only ten maximum in and they can share as much as they want to share with us. And then we eat, and then we do a gong bath so that you’re very nice and relaxed. And they take their own home and they are really surprised that these torn bits of paper something beautiful.
Kirsty van den Bulk: But that is life, isn’t it? You get chucked some really bad, horrible bits in your life and you take me last Friday and you do just have to put it back together again. You do have to make something beautiful. In our case, I had to make sure that our daughter was happy and content and it didn’t impact on her. And she had the best weekend, she had a play dates all weekend, so oh, we’ve lost Gloria, which is a real shame. I’m sure you’re back. Yay.
Gloria Wilkinson: you did.Kirsty van den Bulk: So, I was just explaining about how last Friday I think it’s because there’s.
Gloria Wilkinson: So much equipment here in Yard, it’s just interfering, interfering with theconnection. Anyway, the sculpture and the yoga, you put that together and it makes a, great afternoon.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Thank you. So.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Along the way can you still hear me? I’m loving this one this morning. I can see you and I can see that you can hear me. Can you hear me? You’ve gone very quiet. Can you hear me, Gloria? so we’re having I was asking yeah, just about who’s inspired you along the way on your journey?
Gloria Wilkinson: I think I have to say my NAN, who is the landlady, of the house where I was left because she was so open to everybody. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. My mom, who has obviously been there the entire time, whether I’m good or bad, whether I’m successful or not. And then obviously there’s people that I teach zumba so I’m very inspired by Berto Perez who invented Zumba because he was told, no, no, this is never going to work. You’re nothing. And now look at Zumba. Over 200 countries in the world, everybody knows what Zumba is. Well, pretty much, anyway. It’s 20 years old. And that is something that I always look back on and think, you know what? He was told no. But he still went ahead and did it. And don’t get me wrong, this ties. And I think, oh, my gosh, I just can’t do this. I’m going to give up tomorrow. Like, COVID has had an enormous effect on selfemployed instructors. It’s been really, really difficult. I’m just trying, as you say, pivot, into a different direction.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Okay, we’ve gone again. I’m hoping Gloria will come back in. This feels a bit like an episode of the news where we’re trying to bring in a stream, and it’s just not very stable. It’s not anyone’s fault. Gloria is coming from the car in a working Marine. oh, my goodness. They still have one, in a working marina. I’m hoping Glory will come back, and if not, we will get Gloria back on the show in March next year, because that’s where my next face is, because we were actually booked up till the end of February. So I’m really sorry Gloria’s gone this morning. That was a fabulous conversation. Thank you for joining us. Sometimes tech lets you down.
In this episode:
00:01 Introduces Gloria
00:58 Kirsty fills in time whilst we wait for Gloria to join
01:01 Kirsty shares public speaking on camera tips
04:12 Gloria Talks about being a Mum and working life
05:25 Strong woman
06:20 Abandoned on a doorstep
06:32 Asking if I am worthy
07:28 Working life
08:12 Trauma and life
09:27 Adoption Brown baby – white family
11:21 Signal Issues
12:14 Blended families
13:06 Strong person
13:50 Gloria fit and 50
14:00 Rose and Pose Retreats
16:20 Signal issues
17:03 Nan and my Mum are my Inspiration
17:30 Zumba, how to overcome being told No
17:55 Covid and Self-employment
18:05 Pivot into a different direction so the
18:18 Signal Problems
18:49 Kirsty fills in time
Connect with Gloria:
Daren Elsley talks with Kirsty van den Bulk about The Unspoken Truth of Male Cancers and how losing his best friend to cancer inspired him to launch MYBOLLOX underwear, a brand with a mission to raise awareness for men’s cancers through unique branding.
Ep 59, Paul Anderson talks about banking, acting via security, and embracing life’s twists on The Wise Why podcast with Kirsty van den Bulk.