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29th Mar 2023

The Beauty of Broken – An Interview with Author Angela Trainer

Scots psychotherapist and Harvest Clinic founder Angela Trainer launches new book The Beauty Of Broken, the story of her breast cancer ordeal and a guide to coping with trauma.

The Beauty Of Broken is the story of one woman’s journey through breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, treatment and recovery – but it is so much more than that. Click this post to read an interview with GGC community member and author Angela Trainer.

What made you decide to write the book?

I didn’t decide to write the book. I wrote a book about loss and grieving after my father’s diagnosis and death, put together from my social media posts, a blog I had written through the process. I later discovered there seemed to be a huge benefit. People were sharing, people were asking for copies. Then I had my own cancer diagnosis and I decided to continue my therapeutic journal of writing about my experiences.

As a psychotherapist I know the value of reflective and introspective writing, journalling, and I did that again with my diagnosis and journey. After is often the part that people leave out, the part after the drama or after the rain. People need to learn to live with a lot of medical diagnoses. Not just cancer but how do you live afterwards, with the insecurity and post-trauma we experience after huge life resets and challenges. So I didn’t decide to write a book, I decided to continue using therapeutic journalling. We decided to turn it into a book a couple of years later.


What do you hope to achieve with it?

I hope to achieve what we have already achieved. I said if it helped one person I would be happy and so far it has helped a few in the proof-reading, so I have had good responses. I hoped to transform my challenges and suffering into something beautiful. Just like the title of the book, The Beauty Of Broken.

It’s based on the concept of Kintsugi, the Japanese form of art where a broken vase or bowl is more precious and valuable when it’s been repaired with what they call golden joinery or golden glue. My hope is that I can transfer and transmit what I learned, what was helpful, what was useful, what didn’t work and how that can be applied in other people’s lives. I want to share those experiences and learnings and provide some kind of toolbox that may help some other people as a resourceful, helpful toolbox for people facing challenges and adversity.

So it is about a specific journey for you but it relates to any difficult time?

The learnings. The things I discovered along the way and the approaches I tried and tested, I believe, relate to any life challenge at all. I believe the distillation of what I am saying in the book, the basic principles of it relate to any difficult life experience and that certainly has been the feedback that I have had so far. People going through all sorts of adversity have been able to relate and connect with that sense of alienation, isolation, finding resilience. Where does the resilience live inside us? We are all broken and I think it’s part of why we are here. I think we have to be broken open to find the deeper well inside.

It’s not an accident, it’s not a mistake, I believe it’s part of the journey here in Earth school. It does relate and apply to anyone in any situation in their life. Even people whose lives are going well, it’s good preparation for when the going does get tough, because I don’t believe anyone escapes.


How does it work, what should readers expect?

Readers should expect to go on a journey I hope conveys the seriousness of some of the situations I found myself in. Confronting and facing your own mortality, dealing with anticipatory grief, loss, loss of lots of things. My life was turned upside down, most of our lives are turned upside down when we hit these big transformational challenges.

Also the importance of a positive mind frame, the way we see our situation rather than coming at it purely as a victim. Although I was a victim a lot of the time..

How we move into a position of strength and also the power of relationships, the power of reaching out for help, asking for help, receiving help fully. Not trying to do everything on your own but recognising at times you are absolutely on your own in the big stuff. So learning how to form a relationship with yourself and not having to depend on others all the time.

The positive reframe of how we view what’s happening to us in life is almost a challenge to deal with and opportunity to find out what we are made of. They’re not punishments. Recognising when it is time to come out of position and to get off the pity pot, to get out there and accept the realisation there are always people who are worse off. Being able to still find that gratitude just for having the opportunity to overcome some of these challenges. I would say, ‘a lot of people didn’t wake up this morning’, I say it still.

There were people who were worried about me on my cancer journey who are not here any more, who were taken years younger than me and left young children behind. That whole attitude and that whole sense of positively reframing what has happened to us, not starting with the premise that somehow we are entitled to a very long, happy and prosperous life. That doesn’t seem to be the case when you actually scratch the surface of most people’s lives. Readers should expect my story of dealing with it and how it can be adapted.

I realised quite quickly these themes were universal and could be applied to virtually any process or challenge whether that’s redundancy, divorce, overcoming addiction, bereavement and loss, recovering from any kind of illness or managing life with a long term diagnosis, a not great prognosis, or just learning to manage life a bit better. For people who have charmed lives – my life was very charmed for a long time.

It’s almost a handbook of teaching tools and techniques for building resilience, building attitudes that are helpful mindsets. No matter what is going on in your life even if it is all great, how to live more fully and deeply.


What is the retreat for?

The retreat is a sharing of some of the tools. It is ideally a 10 to 21 days retreat, the choice is the reader’s. Actually, it is so jam-packed with ideas it could become a month or more. There is a list of focal points to work with and on, and they are set out in bite-sized chunks. It is a task a day and if you really want to dig deep, two tasks a day you take on and commit to following for the duration. They are not all things you would do every single day. The idea is you just build on it. You add different strategies, and different ways of being in the world. Different ways of building relationships with yourself and others.

I used all or most of them a large part of the time I was going through my treatment and beyond. Learning how to live after a cancer diagnosis in a world that was completely changed forever because the world is different when you have faced your mortality, the world looks like a different place. It is learning how to live a day at a time, how to live in the present, how to build a relationship with yourself and to connect inside and outside with firstly, nature, the greatest healer of all. Secondly other human beings. How to make connections, how to connect inside and outside. How to live fully and deeply.


You are amazingly sharing all profits from the book to two charities that are close to your heart. Can you tell me more about the charities and share any links for them too?

All profits are split between Lily’s legacy and The Everyone project , in memory of two dear friends who died a year ago .

Lily aged 14 was a Pride of Scotland & Children of Courage Award winner who had Ewings Sarcoma. She was a huge inspiration. We met up in the Skybar for afternoon tea on her last outing before she passes a few weeks later. My book launch was all the more significant to hold there. Lily’s dream was to build a home in the Loch Tay area for kids with cancer who needed a break as she knew how much holidays mean when your life is short. She knew the lifespan of children with Ewings is currently less than 20 years …..

The Everyone project was set up by Chloe Homewood through the Mindfulness Association to provide training in areas and situations where it wouldn’t normally be available. They have now run over 180 groups & training – for example children with cerebral palsy, working with the homeless, addiction groups, and in areas of deprivation & poverty.

Chloe was my friend for over 20 years, a BAFTA award-winning BBC Film Director and she had a sudden death aged 51 leaving three children under the age of 14. She was so proud of the charity & its outreach. I feel we are keeping both of their presences here with us in spreading the energy & the love they both shared so freely. So far we have raised around £2500 from the launch and still counting, with 2 more events this month   And the book is available on Amazon so sales are ongoing for the future

Syndicated interview with author, psychotherapist and Harvest Clinic Glasgow founder Angela Trainer Her second book The Beauty Of Broken is available now as paperback or ebook from Amazon priced 11.99/5.99

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