A bend in the road 

Seven months ago today I left my well paid job to start my own business. I didn’t hate the job – far from it – I just felt I should be capable of more. That it no longer   challenged me. That I would be letting myself down if I didn’t at least try.

I had always had it in mind that I “should” be running my own business. I assumed some day I would – partly why I didn’t worry too much about pension provisions – but it needed to be the perfect idea; risk free if such a thing exists; and I needed to have the confidence I could deliver. All of these took some time to come together. I am now 48 years old. 

I started this blog two or so years ago. It was self help. I needed to get the words out over a major trauma in my life – a failed affair with someone I was very much in love with. It was good  therapy at the time. I flailed around trying all sorts of methods to recover, discovering a formula four months on, which included howling at the moon (literally) shouting and screaming to the wind (again literally); a decision to spend more time alone. Six months on, through the advice of a medium (which I don’t believe in!) I made a decision  not to date any men for the foreseeable future but to take some time to heal. 

All through this trauma, my intuition told me that something was coming . Something big. I knew it was work related. Something perversely made possible by what he had shown me was available for me.

Upon tentatively declaring myself recovered, this time last year everything came together so that I was ready. A conversation with an industry friend; a pledge of support here and there. I knew what to do. I had no fear. I was ready, 

Thus began a year of a huge amount of work. My new business was to be in training, launched via a conference. 

I had to get a competence in so many new areas, and I literally worked mornings, weekends and evenings – initially around my current full time job then just because I needed to. An old colleague based in Portugal showed up to support me. Now another one has shown up to work with me. 

When I look at what I’ve achieved in the last seven months it is unbelievable. Training with some major blue chip companies; very good feedback in the main. A conference which some famous people spoke at.

I started very much considering my health. I joined the gym. Started the 5:2 diet and lost half a stone. Then halfway through May this year I started to work above all else. I should also say I am diabetic. 

Since May. I’ve been constantly tired, anxious about my material and delivery; worried about childcare and income; eating badly; knowing I have become a bit of a bore. I don’t do much aside from work. I have become uninteresting. 

Last week I trained 4 days in a row. I slept fitfully, worrying about the material each night. On Friday I woke up in my own bed wondering what was the point of it all? When it exhausts me and my ego gets damaged by any tiny deviation on 5 out of 5 for delivery….

I spent two days not leaving the house, watching box sets, eating chocolate. Whilst slightly guilty it also felt marvellous. 

On Sunday I had a realisation that I have reached a turning point. I felt a sense of peace and possibility for both my health and for relationships which I haven’t felt for a long time. I realised that if I can keep my new team member busy two days a week and train only two days a week myself I will make a good living! I have got to grips with most of my material so I feel competent. 

I can now slow down. Address my health and what I want for my future.. 

As always when you reach a turning point, things start to show up to support you. Things which might always have been there but you are tuned in to noticing them. So my 12 sessions with the chiropractor are paying off – my shoulder isn’t jammed any more. Meantime I gave a free place on a course to a woman who turns out to be a naturopath. She’s offered me support with nutrition. 

But unbelievably,  with a little headspace, into my newfound peace , back he came again. I almost bumped into him two weeks ago and he’s been on the edge of my consciousness ever since. 

The reality is that since our time together, outside of my anxiety about work, peace about my life has been restored and I am grateful for that all the time. But real joy is missing. Glimpses of it watching the sunrise  over the horses on the bridge at Laramie in Colorado. Pride mixed with joy seeing my daughter thriving. But the pure unadulterated joy of my 20s and early 30s – watching fireworks , diving for the first time, spotting a cassowary, theatre in the rainforest, delighting in the views from our first house together which R and I renovated. Ecstacy all redoubled in my 40s when looking at “S”being held by him… 

I realise that I have become jaundiced. 

Whilst I have a work mission I am not clear on what I want for me. The road ahead is now clear to create that. I feel peace and the itch of possibility.

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Coalescence 

A year ago anxiety stopped me sleeping past 4am. Now it’s excitement.

In the depths of despair, knowing that underneath it I was more than this passion for an unavailable man, I read a book designed to uncover your purpose, and did the exercises 

I worked out that I was good at creating community, making things happen and enthusing large groups. That I was passionate about people putting happiness and mental health at the forefront of their lives and about how amazing women are. That despite all its bad reputation, I love the industry I serve.

I wrote, mulled and took no action. I somehow knew stuff would show up.
A few months later I had this idea for events for women in our market. We’ve now run several, which are generally over subscribed, and we have 900 members. Then I started to get asked to chair stuff and I started to write the odd feminist article.

I’m on a nice number with my current job… But does this businesses’ goals align with my passion? Next steps for my career involve running multiple rxhibitions and losing touch with that market, spending my time in internal stakeholder management – an end game with little satisfaction in it.

So I started conversations with people I know, about what I would actually like to do. The first was with a man I’ve known a long time, who is very famous in the industry and who had literally disbanded his former company the morning he took my call. Oh, how about a partnership says he? The second and third conversations were equally positive. 
So that’s it. It’s going to happen. I’m going to take a massive pay cut and learn to wipe my own arse again and have no staff just a business partner. I’m going to create it all for myself. 

All those conversations in this blog about fate and destiny….I knew a year ago I was on the cusp of something and that it was work related. 

That my love affair of last year, yes proved I was loveable, but also showed me that playing small in life to make sure I don’t frighten the next man, wasn’t working for me. 

More than that, it proved that I can survive. There are few things which can be as bad as having your head inhabited by insane obsession and agitation and misery for a long period of time. It reminded me of how my sister describes her OCD. Work is a breeze compared to that. 

Life IS a journey and an adventure and your experiences and the people you meet along the way are constantly mingling away in your subconscious, ready to coalesce at the right time for the next big thing. 

But none of that explains the mystery of perfect timing. How is that they events align at the time you need them to? 

Or perhaps they don’t always… 

Otherwise I would be sitting here with Simon today. 

What’s that I hear you say? 
It Just wasn’t meant to be? 

Grrrr. Seriously. 

When you pare it down…. It’s about acceptance.

On our holidays in the USA where we were pretending to be Cowboys, we met a 24 year old man who lived up there alone in the freezing cold on the Colorado mountain all through the winter. Just him, the dog and lots of books. He’s the best informed person I met about world politics. On his day off he went for a hike by himself.

A holiday like that can be life changing. 

Up at sunrise every morning, out on horseback all day, eating simply, watching the sun go down over the river at the end of the day. The owners said a lot of people wonder about how they’ve chosen to live their lives to date,  once they get up there….

Going all that way by myself (well with the girl); driving thousands of miles, getting to grips with the horse thing… Even falling off. I felt very empowered.

I know roughly what I’m going to do next. There’s s lot to work out but  I am calm and contented. This blog started when my mind was in utter turmoil and having the lack of that in my life is something I am grateful for every day.

Last week Facebook suggested I become friends with his wife. The picture which popped up showed the two of them cheek to cheek smiling. I quickly removed it. I’ve not been moved to stalk and don’t want to start now, but it did get me to thinking. I think it is absolutely possible that they have reached some semblance of happiness between them which is greater than the denial in which they lived before he started his relationship with me.

I watched a documentary about St Quentin with the wonderful Louis Theroux at the weekend. A man serving several life sentences who lived in a cage –  said that when you accept your situation as it is, you can still be happy and create a life for yourself. After a while, missing women or enjoying a sunset from a boat on the river means nothing. 

In the end acceptance is a route to contentment. The trick is to constantly combine this with growth which inevitably requires change. I think about this a lot. I’m very content being alone right now, but that still feels like a sell out too.   

 

 

To my stalker 

I’m fascinated by what makes you tick.

How can you still be thinking of a life with me when you live in a country which means you have to get a visa from the government to visit mine, when message after message on a daily basis goes unread by me, or read and ignored, when the last time I had any communication with you was 5 months ago?  

What kind of fantasy world do you live in where you think you are in love with someone you have never met?

How can the very act of-unblocking you, be for you a sign that you should still harbour hope in my direction? How often do you check if I’m there and have unblocked you, that the day I do so you come leaping up with several more messages about how you can’t forget me?

So last night overcome by curiosity, I unblocked you on whatsapp – up you sprang so I blocked you again. I then sat up for an hour reading all those messages and listening to all those recordings you had sent me which I ignored utterly at the time. All the same. Protestations of undying love and assertions that I don’t believe you and/or am frightened of you.

 Those assertions are what had led me to respond to you in the past. My indignation that just because you think you love me that my unwillingness to engage is because I don’t believe you

I am just not interested in you. 

Is it your culture, your previous arranged marriage which makes you not understand that? That any woman pursued by a man should immediately feel the same?

I don’t think you are doing it to other people because remember at Christmas your sister rang me and said I should give you a chance!

I understand obsessive love. I don’t understand this. 

How ironic that of all the dodgy websites I have been on to meet men the one which yields the true oddball is Linked in!

Liar liar liar

I am more convinced than ever that most relationships are pretty fucked up. 

Women’s retreat this weekend

Or  am I just a magnet for the worst tales? 

I’ve been told twice in the last few days that I have the most interesting stories…Perhaps when life is smooth and dull you attract people whose lives are also smooth and dull….whilst when you live a little further to the edge people tell you their woes and actively seek you out, knowing you won’t judge? Or perhaps people who speak to me are honest because I am honest.

I don’t know. But today I had reason to feel lucky that my story wasn’t as bad as my friend’s. 

My lovely psychologist who came over from Oz very early in January and provided the perfect end to my “putting to bed the awfulness of 2015” trip to Cornwall – with her life affirming -ness, her successes, her happiness… Is over in the UK again. 

She has fallen in love – with a Dane living in London – who was preparing to move to join her and her kids in Sydney later this year. They had spent lots of time between Europe and Oz, skyped and texted constantly … It was a grand affair, the love of her life

On arriving in London having traveled 30,000 miles to be with him, to accompany him to Denmark for his granny’s funeral, she prepared to Skype her kids and came across a conversation with “Electra”. A brusque conversation lasting several months, the gist of it being “I’m naked come over”.

He’s flying back from Florida this morning to meet her at his flat and she knows it’s over. She can’t trust him again. His best friend is dismayed – she knows he really is in love with her and that he will be devestated. 

Is he, a manipulative narcissist who just takes what he wants in life or a genuine guy who’s fucked up. 

Can his type of love be real love?

I know enough cases – not thousands but certainly handfuls – of cases of true lasting love. This would just not happen to those people.

I cried when she told me that it had made her lose her trust in men completely. It brought up so much stuff for me too. Whilst I’m happy, genuinely happy, and settled and content – with even the latent tension in my jaws disappearing – the idea of meeting and dating another man seems far away, and if I’m truthful, pointless. 

The truth will set you free

Quite a few people asked me how I was doing last week given that during the show this time last year the huge success we created was overshadowed by the tumultuous but brief reconciliation with my married man. 

One of my colleagues said I was a better woman for it. Far from being diminished by the affair,  I am stronger and more powerful in the face of having come through that pain. 

As time goes on my fearlessness and love just grows. 

There is something inside me which drives me to seek and speak the truth about myself but I understand and don’t judge people who sit and stew in awful situations which demand them to hide their feelings because they are afraid of the truth.

 10 years ago I justified to myself  for several years why I should stay in a marriage which didn’t fundamentally make either of us really happy. The fear of not having enough money; of failure; of being judged; of losing his family; of making mine ashamed. Most of all the fear of never meeting anyone else. 

To some extent these fears were justified…..I did spend a few years counting every penny, I was in grief and ill for the same number, and my mum still hasn’t told all her friends I am divorced (which incidentally, I am now able to laugh at her about…). But I am self expressed, proud and free.

The difficult days seem to be  behind me, mostly because of the resilience I have been forced to develop. The roller coaster, in which I am truly myself, is better than the alternative. If I had stayed I would have ended up small, bitter and full of self justification. This is the way I was going….Now I am big (and not just in girth) and full of love. I can even love those stupid fuckers who voted for the UK to leave the EU #brexit 😉 though it’s hard at times!

For with love and truth behind you,  you can be anything…. 

with the wonderful Kate Adie at the show 

Life is long

  fun fun fun

It’s not true that life is short- especially these days. As the last to suffer from the curse of procrastination, I’m already panting like a rabid dog to do it all and do it all now.  I fight for what I want – grab onto it tooth and nail.

The challenge for people like me – who live with a degree of velocity – is to slow down, calm down and let things unfold a little….

I’ve talked about fate in these pages. My belief it has to be utter bollocks that our life is in any way pre ordained and yet I do believe that character is destiny.  I’ve been learning to trust my instincts that the right things will come up when  I need them to because of who I am – not because someone has mapped a path for me. 

And I’ve learnt that in the main I am someone who deals well with the durm und strand of it all – except , oh except when the madness of disappointment in love takes over.

Given that was how this blog started how are we on that point now then? Are we, as one friend put it “healed”?

Well, on the one hand the whole experience has strengthened me. I recognise my power far more than I ever did, my career, social life, empathy and confidence have all expanded – aided by my little list of life priorities completed at new year. 

On the other, there is still a disappointing latent tension in my jaws which I never had  pre Simon. I can only hope and be confident that that will ultimately disappear. I find the mention of his name and any reference to the “affair” to be embarrassing. I don’t expect to see him at my show next week (about which there was all the panic las year) but I would not know how to deal with him if I did. I want him to be very unhappy. I want him to suffer. All of which indicate that I am not entirely all right yet. 

The other thing I still shrink from is any desire whatsoever to date. I listen to stories of rough patches in relationships around me, understand the compromises people make to stay together but also know that I am never now of a mind to compromise. That I think I would rather please myself forever than stay somewhere through powerlessness or fear of the alternative. 

Yet I know that three times in my life I have utterly lost myself in love.  I’ve thought my life would be completely devoid of colour without that person.

 Is there such a thing as falling in love reasonably?
Anyway, back to the title of this blog. Its now 9 years since we returned from Australia, toddler in tow, and decided to separate. 9 years in which I’ve built quite  a good career, bought two houses, had lots of lovely holidays , fallen in love, suffered and laughed. And grown and changed. 

Life is long with many chapters. Each chapter provides something new which you can either use to expand or shrink. I’ve used the last six months to take every pleasure I can in life. I have a new path I want to take for my career. I am confident that I will tackle my expanding waistline later this year. And perhaps love will ultimately unfurl…

Intelligent action

There is only one other time in my life when I can remember being indifferent to whether I was with a partner or not. That was three or four years ago when we were working to turn around the business I had been made MD of. 

Then I was consumed by work.

Aside from that, from my teenage years up, I’ve either been looking, struggling, clutching on to love, or resigned about ever finding it.

Whether she was communing with higher spirits or not, the tarot reader was right. Right that I take time to heal, to be on my own, to rediscover simple pleasures I have been blind to for years in my chaotic, rushed blundering at life. 

There’s nothing wrong with being hugely action oriented as I am, but what has been missing is clear purpose. Outside of the desire to have someone to love, to get promoted as quickly as possible, to have fun with friends, what has been the point of all that rushing around ?

My life right now is distinguished by an extreme calm. I sleep like the dead. I walk more slowly. My to do list is shorter. I am thinking. Thinking and waiting for things to emerge. 

I am starting to define where I want my energy to focus and it has something to do with the wellbeing agenda. I am passionate about people doing whatever it takes to live as full a life as possible. To get emotional obstacles out of the way so that they fulfil who they really are inside.

A bit like the course I went on which described the way to find a high value man as taking intelligent action, it’s interesting that in this area, as in the rest of my life, I have always preferred to throw mud at walls.

The idea of deciding then taking intelligent action around it, is confronting – because failure is possible. 

It’s a wonderful wonderful life

  Let’s hope that was my last slump for a while. 

Last week, in the middle of my funk, I was at the station and the big screen was showing a picture of my old friend Colin Vearncombe -I was his team leader for a year on a landmark course. Colin sang “wonderful life”. It’s the only one he’s known for , but has become iconic . Colin has very sadly been in a car crash and is in a coma which he is not expected to recover from. 

Far from putting me in a worse mood, it was exactly the kick up the backside I needed to remind me that I am alive and have so many reasons to be grateful.

On Friday we had a full day’s offsite training for the hundreds of people   who work for our company and one of the sessions was called “how to be brilliant”.  It wasn’t actually about how to be brilliant but about how to be happy. Whilst people around me were acting like planning for your happiness, practising gratitude and chosing to be a 2%er – one of those upbeat people – was news, I learnt only two things. One that you have four minutes in order to make a lasting impression on someone’s day and the second that I take all my training and learning in this area for granted. 

I went up to him afterwards and said I felt there was something disingenuous about the “paint on a smile ” school of positive psychology and that I preferred Jung’s idea that when you are miserable you should invite it in, look at it, process it. He agreed with me that it was over simplified but he had only had an hour.

Then we went on to have the best evening. Me and my team swept the board for awards including innovation of the year and I also won Business Leader of the Year. 

  
I spent most of the weekend continuing the declutter process and reclaiming my home. 

2016 is my year.