Shalini Bhalla-Lucas is an award-winning author, entrepreneur, speaker, teacher/trainer, and the founder of Just Jhoom! – A dance, health, and wellbeing company. A motivation for us all, proving that when life throws you obstacles persevere through the tough times and the sun will shine again.
What inspires you?
I choose to live life fully, compassionately, and to make a difference to others through my work. I am inspired to continue to do this when I see how people overcome challenges and hardships using techniques that I have taught them.
What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why?
I am a published writer, so the book I have probably given away most is my own Amazon Bestselling memoir – ‘Always With You’ – A true story of love, loss…and hope. Otherwise, ‘The Art of Happiness’ by the Dalai Lama is a book that I highly recommend.
What purchase of £100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months?
A small, lined notebook that cost me £3… I had always written a gratitude diary (until my husband passed away). Last month I decided to start again – and bought this small notebook. Now every evening I write: • Three things I am grateful for • Three successes I had that day • A quote of the day
For me, expressing gratitude is such an important part of my wellbeing. It reminds me of just how lucky I am – and how grateful I am for the life I have.
How has failure set you up for later success?
I was diagnosed with clinical depression in my late twenties. For me, this was a huge matter of shame and failure.
The fact that I was hospitalised, couldn’t hold down a job and couldn’t function socially was deeply humiliating for me. I felt like I was letting down all the people in my life, including my partner Jeremy, my family and friends. I remember thinking how a strong person like me can be so weak? How can I, a confident and determined woman, be diagnosed with a mental health issue? How will people look at me now? Will they think I am weak and not trust me anymore? Will I ever be taken seriously again? I feel like I am a failure and a disappointment. Will I ever get better? Will I ever get over this?
Being diagnosed with clinical depression made me feel like I had a weak mind – and therefore, I was a vulnerable person. But, with time, medication, and therapy, I learnt that it was a medical condition that I needed treatment for. As my understanding of the illness grew, I became less worried about what people thought and began to realise that I was ill, but I could get better – and I did.
As I got better and stronger over the months and learnt more about depression and mental health issues, I decided to be more open about what I had gone through. I started talking more openly about my experiences, blogging, and then became a Voice of Mind – the mental health charity in the UK. I was featured on media, in House of Parliament lobbying MPs for better funding and awareness for mental health treatment. I became an accredited mindfulness teacher and started working with people who suffered from stress, depression, and grief. I have become a champion for a better understanding of mental health in the UK.
I had the desire to share my experience of true fear and vulnerability, from which then came courage, empathy, and positivity.
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it —what would it say and why?
There is a lovely Samburu (Kenyan) proverb: “Keata nkishon sarin” meaning Life consists of seasons
Life is not one long season or one smooth journey; instead, it is a series of chopping and changing times, both happy and sad, serene and tumultuous. Each of these seasons brings with it experiences – good and bad, and through these experiences of success and failure, we learn the lessons we need to in this lifetime. And so, as the seasons change, so do we. Over time we learn to be true to ourselves, we learn to speak our truth, and we have the courage and desire to show up when we need to. We learn, we grow; we fall, we rise; we cry, we laugh; we love, we live.
Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?
When my husband passed away, I was greatly comforted by this quote – and I read it every day. It helps me move forward.
“If ever there’s a tomorrow when we’re not together… there’s something you must remember… You are braver than you believe and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think… But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” —Christopher Robin (in Pooh’s Grand Adventure by Crocker Carter)
In the last two years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?
When my husband died three years ago from cancer, I lost all my confidence, all my self-esteem – my very core, my very being was shaken. I didn’t think I could carry on.
But over the last 18 months, I have adopted ten steps to better my mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. These techniques have helped me build the resilience of mind, body, and spirit so that I now feel I can face any challenges that life throws me. The techniques include mindfulness, gratitude, nutrition, exercise, amongst others.
I am once again learning to show up when it matters, to speak my truth when I once thought I couldn’t, and to once again stand in my power both in my professional and personal life.
I have now created an online course called Mindful Wellbeing – based on these principles. https://www.justjhoom.co.uk/mindful-wellbeing-programme/
What advice would you give to a smart, driven student about to enter the “real world?
The three things I live by are: • Do what you love! – You need to be passionate about what you do • Don’t be afraid of change! – Things may not go to plan, or opportunities may arise that you weren’t anticipating…don’t be closed to adapting. • Look after yourself! Self-love is not selfish – it is hugely important when starting a business.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
I stop what I’m doing – and I remove myself from the situation. If I have time, I will go and do some dancing – or some meditation. If I only have a few minutes, I do a 3-minute breathing meditation. Going back to your breath is extremely centering!
Tell us something that would surprise us about you?
Last year I learnt to ride a motorbike and bought myself a 125cc Honda Grom.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
The biggest obstacle in my life would have to be the death of my beautiful, beloved husband, Jeremy. Adjusting from being a happily married wife to being a widow on my own at times felt impossible. Jeremy’s death completely devastated me personally and affected my business and professional life. I am now moving forward with both.
In the last 18 months, I have published two books, built a log cabin in Kenya in Jeremy’s honour, set up the Jeremy Lucas Education Fund in Kenya supporting deprived children through secondary and tertiary education, started modelling and am now a mentor for TRESemme’s Power Your Presence Masterclass.
What would be your message to the AWMB community?
Supporting each other, championing each other and working together makes us stronger. Inspire, motivate, and empower each other. This is the way forward.
And…please, please do make contact with me – I’d love to connect with each and every one of you!