The Platinum Crucible

Jen Day
Jen Day

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The Platinum Crucible.

The power of Pilates, it’s outer and inner transformations, a very personal account.

“Learn from every creature and object within each moment of your experience, bless every mineral, plant, insect, animal and person you encounter and fully fill the moments you’re alive in – trust your skills, you know how this is done” 

~ Guru Singh

I don’t know how many years The Platinum Crucible was in our possession. I most probably would have been around it in the early 1980’s as much as 40 years ago. As a small child I used to go to work with my Dad on a Saturday morning. I remember vividly the earthy smells, Metal, Grease, Chemicals, and damp acidity. Outside the basement lab there were skips filled with jagged metal, sheets, rods, cylinders, cogs, twisted poles all different thicknesses. Burnt orange puddles pooled at the door. Inside, never warm, monster like machinery with oversized buttons covered in soft plastic. Tools for measuring, hydraulics, grinding, melting, testing measuring machines often so noisy I’m not sure I should have been listening. Dad is a Metallurgist, he wore a white coat and always had a small blue betting shop pen behind his ear. It was such an alien environment but I loved it. It had an angular, pungent, uncomfortable, scientific, acrid, heavy, dense atmosphere. It was a fascinating place. We used to use the Photography Lab and develop our own photos, we weren’t really aloud ( and I’m sure I shouldn’t have been anywhere near it). It was absolutely magical aged six. I’ve loved photography ever since. Dad retires this year. He’s been in the same job since he left school in 1970.

Fast forward to 2006, I’m thirty one. I have two small children of my own, they are aged four and six, two of the most spirited little boys I’ve ever known. My marriage to my childhood sweetheart is over. We had been together for seventeen sweet years. Previously I had graduated from Art School with an honours degree in Textile Design, had a pretty lovely short career working in Knightsbridge for a creative genius ( slightly unstable and scary) I loved Chelsea Textiles. My first son Olly  was born, I was twenty five and Jack came along two years and two weeks later. At thirty one my life took a swerve off the rails. My husbands affair. My breakdown. After a year of depression and therapy I began to pick myself up off the floor, just about. I’m occasionally still floored by it all even today.

 I had lost myself, having failed at going back to my career pre children due to unrealistic expectations put upon myself. I lost just about everything. A family, my identity, my home, my security, and the one person whom had been loyally by my side since that first kiss on the 26th June when I was fourteen. I lost mutual friends, love, confidence and direction. All compounded and unbeknown to me at the time it woke up some very deep feelings of being abandoned as a child when my mum left, I was three years old. I grew up an only child just with my Dad for the majority of the time. I’ll leave you to ponder all of this but it isn’t really about all of that..its the story of The Platinum Crucible and how it came into my hands. ( you need a bit of background)

This is the story of how it came into my hands and how a gift can change the direction of your life. How this Crucible in a sealed plastic bag happened to me. It occurred to me yesterday as I was recounting this story that I akin the Crucible to the universe, a strong cup of the hands in which life can vibrate and be protected in. Platinum is a chemical element with the symbol Pt and atomic number 78. It is dense, malleable, ductile, highly un-reactive. My Dad used it to melt other metals inside as it has a very very high infusibility to any degree of heat. They last for years and years but eventually get replaced and ‘discarded’ in the top drawer of my Dad’s mahogany desk. Technically they should have been sent back but to protect my Dad’s integrity let’s just say they got ‘lost’ in his top drawer and sort of forgotten. Until one Saturday morning in the Kitchen Dad passes me a sealed plastic bag with the beaten Crucible. “Darling, go and sell this, its worth a few Quid” Looking at it you would have just trashed it, a burnt, out of shape bowl. 

Dad and I grew up with very little. Money was extremely tight and we lived frugally and almost in fear. I felt the fear especially at the end of the month. Dad would be way more relaxed on pay day. I was brought up to value and look after our things. I started to earn my own money when I was twelve. I have always earnt my own money and always look after my possessions proudly. So that Saturday morning I politely thanked my Dad with a quizzical look and put the Platinum Crucible in MY top drawer.

After Olly was born my body was in poor shape. He was almost 10 lbs, came out face up ( back to back labour, not ideal) I suffered Placenta Previa and would have bled to death if it hadn’t have been the year 2000 and in the presence of a skilled surgeon that was called out at 3am. Five days in hospital, several transfusions, infections, fever it was all a blur really, suffice to say it was a long recovery, given that at twenty five your body is supposedly at its ‘best’ to give birth. Very soon after I found Pilates or it found me. Physically it began to heal me. The method put me back together a little bit stronger than I was before, I then went onto have Jack two years later, he was born early morning and I was home eating Chinese takeout that evening, no complications, no drama. In 2001 my body and mind started applying the principles of Pilates, control, precision, coordination, centring, breathing and flow. Today 2020 I have been teaching the method for 10 years, thanks to The Platinum Crucible.

You see I was lost.  I cried so many tears for weeks and months over my divorce. I was lost, my marriage was over, I had two small children. What held me loosely together was Pilates. I also ran like Forest Gump. I’d come down from the loft one day after looking through all of our photos. Sitting there in tears I opened the drawer and stared at the grubby sealed plastic bag with the metal bowl inside for a long time. Having faith in my Dads ability to know his metal I there and then made a decision,  the next day I took a trip to Hatton Gardens. I remember feeling totally out of my comfort zone that day. Dad had given me an idea of its approximate worth and the first dealer I took it to declared without hesitation that it wasn’t platinum, “love”. I was almost ready to come home. I persevered and had nothing to loose so kept knocking on doors. Eventually I came away with the best offer just shy of £2000. 

I then walked up through Holborn to Great Little Russel Street to Body Control Pilates HQ. Feeling slightly dodgy, with almost to the penny, in cash, the exact amount to pay for my first mat work teacher training intensive that spring.

At last I had a focus. I had an anchor. I had a direction. I wholeheartedly believed I could learn to teach a method that had transformed my body. I knew I could make it work, raise my children alongside and share the work with others. Little did I know how much teaching pilates would begin to heal me on many more levels than just physically. Pilates put me back together on so many levels. It has healed me from the outside in and still to this day it enriches my life beyond words. The connections I have made, the deep Passion and Joy that it provides, the intrigue, I am forever learning. I do what I do because I believe in The Method,  in its power, in its inner and outer transformation capabilities, in its history and in its present. But I could have just honoured all of those things by being a student but thanks to my Dad and The Platinum Crucible I chose to become a teacher.

As Seneca said “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”

But I still feel totally blessed.


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