Breaking the Chain an Ibiza story
It’s International Womens Day and our Health and Wellbeing Editor Lisa Chadderton talks to one of Ibiza’s inspiring women about how she came to be living the life of her dreams here in Ibiza and about how she recently used dance to contribute to the global message about ending violence against women. Ladies and gentleman, meet Sharon Edwards….
How i met Sharon
I’ll never forget the first time I met Sharon. I was volunteering at a fundraising event for Eivissa Animal Centre at Ocean Beach Club. I was looking after the cupcake stall which was laden with the prettiest cupcakes I’d ever seen. They were courtesy of ‘Cupcake Collection’, one of Sharon’s many successful ventures. She was also there donating her time for another one of her passions, face painting! Within no time at all I was painted up as a zebra and enjoying getting to know this friendly and energetic woman who, I learned, was also a Zumba instructor. Sharon was there with her daughter and I remember thinking to myself, ‘How does a busy mother juggle running three businesses and manage to strike a balance between one of them being an indulgent cake company and the other being a fitness orientated Zumba business?’ Well, six months down the line I got the opportunity to find out!
The Candida diet
Sharon is a woman who lives in the real world. Whilst she is clearly health conscious she also has a balanced attitude. “My cakes are for special occasions,” she says, “something that someone will treat themselves to maybe once a year. I wouldn’t advocate eating cake every day!” In fact, the irony is that for a long time, Sharon herself couldn’t eat cake at all. Or any other dessert for that matter. After years of suffering with her health and not being sure why, Sharon realised she had Candidiasis, a fungal infection that is severely aggravated by, amongst other things, sugar. She had to completely change every aspect of her diet but this in combination with homeopathic treatments, worked for her. “I used Ecobalance, p73 oil, and Ecodophilus,” she recommends. “I followed the Candida diet to the letter for six months and the candidadiet.com website was my bible!”
In trademark Sharon style, she turned this life challenge into an opportunity and after spending months researching and educating herself, had the inspiration to launch her “Free From” range at Cupcake Collection. Sharon gives one to one consultations with her cake clients and clearly delights in bringing happiness to people that think they can’t enjoy cakes. She offers Vegan cakes, dairy free cakes, gluten and wheat free cakes and can even make cakes for those who can’t eat eggs, by using flaxseed instead. She also prides herself in using only the finest organic and locally sourced ingredients. ‘’I love to support local businesses and farms. Ibiza is a wonderful community in that respect,” she says. “I’ve seen how the supermarkets and big giants make it impossible for small businesses back home and it’s really sad.”
Casita Verde Ibiza
One of her favourite Ibiza specialities is Carob Cake, a delight that she was introduced to by Chris at Casita Verde, Ibiza’s ecological living centre. “I will never forget the first time I tried it’, she says. “It looked so delicious and I just didn’t believe it when he told me I could eat it because of my strict diet. But they persuaded me to try it and I loved it instantly. It’s wonderful what the team up there are doing to bring back the Carob as so much of it goes to waste on the island and it’s such a tasty ingredient.” She gets out a large glass jar from one of her kitchen cabinets and it is full of ground Carob ready to make cakes. “I can’t wait to introduce this into my range” she says, full of enthusiasm.
I’m so inspired by Sharon’s passion that it’s easy to forget that this is just one of them! When we start talking about Zumba the same love for what she does is apparent. “Zumba is just so much fun and that’s why the women love it,’ she explains, “not to mention that they burn over 300 calories a session! But it’s more than that. It becomes a social event for them and it’s a really great confidence booster, especially for women who find the gym intimidating. Many women join the classes thinking they can’t dance or maybe they used to dance when they were younger and it’s been a long time. Within three or four classes they have started to get the hang of the routines and they are blossoming, it’s easy to learn and we all enjoy it together.” Sharon’s dance classes are empowering on another level as well. She recently took part in the global ‘V-Day One Billion Rising’ campaign to end violence against women and girls, which saw millions of women and men all over the world performing the ‘Break the Chain’ dance in positive protest. Sharon was so inspired and moved by the experience that she has incorporated the song and dance into her regular classes.
Zumba classes ib Ibiza
V-Day one billion rising
“When I first received an invitation to take part in ‘V-Day One Billion Rising’, I watched the hard hitting video and tears were just streaming down my face,” she told me. Sharon shows me the video and it stirs up the same emotion for me too. “Watching that video made me a little angry that any woman has to abused in any way by anyone. Everyone has a right to be themselves and not be controlled, abused or subjected to anything – physically or mentally. If we all did a little something to shame the abuser and listen to the sufferer it really would make a difference,” she advocates.
So for her part she got on her bike and rode down to participate in the local Ibiza event. “On the day we all got dressed up, put bindi’s on and Doris Eagle Feather Duster gave out pink articles such as scarves, tops and funny props,” describes Sharon. “We all walked down to the fountain in San Antonio, held hands and spoke about why we were there. We were all connected and even though I only knew a few people, I felt I had made some lovely friends and it was magical. The sun was shining and we all practised the routine. Kiki, who led us, was absolutely amazing and even the men who were there to support some of the ladies and were supposed to be just taking pictures ended up joining in! We all rehearsed the dance several times and at the end we all seemed to stay put for a while and just chat. It was a little overwhelming. From the moment I rode down on my bike I felt like I was giving a little piece of myself and I was really glad I did.”
“I rode home and couldn’t get the ‘Break the Chain’ song out of my head. It was beautiful. So I downloaded it, kept singing it and decided to add it to my Zumba routine. Most of my ladies are Spanish but I don’t think anyone in the class was aware of the worldwide activity that took place for V-Day. So I decided to add it to the class. I introduced the English one first and as soon as I added the Spanish they instantly understood the descriptive lyrics and loved it. They commented on how sweet and beautiful it was and after a few more demonstrations they really warmed to it. So I feel like not only did I contribute but I have spread the word a little more and next year I do hope that they will all join in with me.”
How dance helps other women
When I ask her how dance can help to empower women with regard to domestic violence she says, “The message is simple, break the chain! If we can open up the subject through dance and song, which isn’t direct or invasive, then it’s visible and not being swept under the carpet by society. Hopefully women can react, by either realising that what they are being subjected to is something wrong, that they are not on their own and that we together, by simply talking about it, can start to help them.”
It’s powerful to see Sharon using her dance classes in this way and yet there was a point when Sharon almost gave up on the Zumba. No doubt there are many women on the island who are so glad that she didn’t. “It really took a while to get it off the ground and I faced so many challenges,” she reflects. “Last year was a huge learning curve, I had to learn how the island worked and I struggled to find permanent venues. Ibiza is not like the UK, we don’t have community centres on every corner or dance classes in church halls! Whilst Zumba was taking off massively around the world, it was a slow burner here. It took me a while to realise that dance studios were the way forward. Also getting regular commitment can be difficult, ladies are free in Winter but not Summer and there is certainly no such thing as the 9 to 5 in Ibiza! I had to go through this whole process of reminding myself that it wasn’t me, I wasn’t a failure and I had met a lot of people and learned so much.” It’s this determination and perseverance that has no doubt brought Sharon to where she is today, which is that she is living the life of her dreams. “People wonder what heaven is like,” she says, “but I don’t. I know, I’m living it, I only have to look out of my window to know its right here.”
Uk is far away from Ibiza
It’s a long way from her old life in the UK where she was a high flying sales woman at BT. “I was literally up and down the motorway across the country every day for more than 15 years,” she says. “It was such a competitive environment and all anyone cared about was their bonus. I remember one day just thinking, “This isn’t me!”
Sharon has a great love for running and she describes how she was overcome with emotion when she had moved to the island to be with her partner and went running in her new neighbourhood for the first time. “It was Spring,” she recalls, “and there were beautiful flowers everywhere and chickens roaming freely. I started crying, I couldn’t believe this was going to be my life. I was used to running in the grey, in the snow, whatever the weather. But this blew my mind. I knew someone up there was looking out for me!”
She’s clearly a happy lady but I still wanted to know what her secret was. How does Sharon manage such a busy life? The most important thing, she says, is that she loves what she does. “When you enjoy what you do, the people around you don’t suffer. My daughter comes first,” Sharon makes clear. “I work around the schedule I have for my daughter, getting her to school and to her dance classes and then that’s when I do my baking or I do it when she’s in bed. I don’t really watch T.V, I’m always either modelling a new cake or working on a dance routine. My only real TV indulgence is a bit of ‘Come Dine With Me’,” she laughs. “It reminds me of home!”
The other thing is that she is super organised with a good routine. “Some people would call me anal I am sure,” she says, “But I am a list woman. Every night I make a list of what needs to be done the following day. Obviously I am careful about what I eat and I make sure I get plenty of sleep and lots of water. I have a treasured morning routine where I make sure I get a little time alone before I wake my daughter up and then off we go!”
Well there we have it. Sharon balances the needs of her family, with doing what she loves, eating well, getting plenty of rest and of course dancing and running! She clearly has a caring heart and a passion to help others and this comes through in everything she does. I’m truly grateful to have met her and can’t think of a better person to shine a light on today, for International Women’s Day. Her message to women is clear: follow your dreams, believe in yourself, show love for others, and whatever difficulties you may face, you are not alone!
Sharon’s Winter Zumba classes take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Estudio 64 in San Antonio. Mornings are 9.15am and evenings are at 8pm. It is 45 euros for the month. For more info visit Sharon’s website for more information