How my life got turned upside down, and it turned out to be sunny side up!
Isn’t life crazy? When you look back you can sometimes see one of the worst times in your life turned out to produce the best life changing opportunities.
In May 2011 I left New Zealand for Paris on a one-way ticket. My 40th birthday was looming, and I suppose I was running away from facing that reality.
I had come through a bad separation, being left to build a house on my own, running a business, being single and coming up 40. My friends were great support, but I felt like a 3rd wheel.
Along with small town talk which quite often exaggerates your life. Soon you find out your up to stuff you didn’t even know about! Anyone whose experienced small-town gossip knows what I’m talking about. Being single and “ready to mingle” as they say, you suddenly become a threat. Even though that was the furthest thing from my mind. I had a couple of whirl wind love affairs and one dysfunctional “friends with benefits” relationship, but nothing too serious. I was managing the mortgage but only just after paying my partner out and I was always on the go with work. I was running over the same old tread mill, something had to give.
To put it in a few words I was bloody over it!
I started planning and set a goal. I got my ancestral UK passport, did a few interviews online for work in the UK, and joined WWOOF a work in exchange for food/board organisation so I could save money while traveling. Then booked a one-way ticket to Paris. There was no going back now.
So just before my 40th birthday I left with very little money. Even though I previously had a business and home I sold up just to come out with enough to buy myself another small property and a little money to leave behind to pay the mortgage for 6 months, but not much else. (Note to self; Separations are not cheap!) I ended up being away for 8 months, only coming home early for my brother and sister’s weddings. I had a lot of amazing support from family and friends without whom would have made my goal so much harder to reach.
My 40th birthday was spent in Paris.
I had always wanted to travel, and as a young child did so with my Grandparents. But as life took over and all my friends went and did their big OEs I stayed behind and worked for a home and relationship. Well that didn’t really go to plan in the end did it! I had gone on short holidays here and there but this was going to be the big one. The leap of faith to leave everything behind and venture into the unknown.
I literally left with a £500 and €500 and my credit card with not a very high limit on it. Headed to Paris and had the most amazing week with people I only had just met. It blew my mind. The first night as we sat under the Eiffel Tower at midnight, its lights came on and sprinkled the dark sky. With cheap bottles of wine and a bunch of new friends I spent my 40th birthday. OMG what a week that was!
I worked for 3 months solid as a live-in carer in the UK, this funded the rest of my travels. It was damn hard work but worth it. I worked on an Estate in Wales and a farm in Morocco WWOOFing, again this saved me money. I traveled through Europe, Morocco and Turkey. Met some amazing people, went way outside my comfort zone and did some pretty cool shit. This literally was the best year of my life!
I proved if you set your sights on a goal with so much passion and determination anything is possible!
Since then I’ve been a live-in carer & health care worker (even though I’d never even changed a baby’s nappy). I have done WWOOFing in Morocco & Wales, Volunteer work in Thailand, and WorkAway worker in Italy. Worked a summer in a busy beach pub, and drove earth moving machines for a contracting company (even though the closest thing to a digger or bulldozer I had driven was a tractor). Now I’m also a health & safety rep, doing general accounting and started my own travel company. Who says you can’t teach old dogs’ new tricks. I’ve traveled to 23 countries, brought, sold & moved properties, learnt to fend for myself and take care of others. Built a house and a studio shed to live in. I started a blog, built a website; OMG, and started a business. I learnt and I’m still learning a lot, but that is all about growth!
So what else have I learnt?
I still have some of the same insecurities that come with baggage you carry over from those failed relationships, but I’m slowly getting rid of that excess baggage.
God if I had a gold coin for every time someone asked me ” why are you single?”. You know what I don’t bloody know, how long is a piece of string? Maybe I’m a total bitch? Who knows, I do live in a town of 7000 so the odds are not good. Maybe I don’t want to settle for just anyone. But being by myself is not all bad. I have learnt a lot being on my own, considering from 13 to 37 years old I had been in long term relationships.
The silver lining.
Every shitty situation I like to think has a silver lining. Even though you might have to give it time to look back and recognize this. If my partner and I hadn’t separated I wouldn’t have had the amazing experiences I had.
I wouldn’t have the confidence I have now and the decisiveness to know what I don’t want. I know I don’t want to “settle” to keep everyone but myself happy. Being single isn’t the end of the world nor not having children. I’m doing OK! If you aim high for whatever goal you want don’t let anyone bring you down or let obstacles get in your way. Just use them as ways of thinking outside the box to get around them.
Have passion and determination, then anything is possible! Don’t let age or circumstance stop you following your true desire, it might not happen overnight, it might even take years. But as long as you can set yourself that goal, aim for it!
So, bring on the next adventure. To surrounding myself with positive people, always being open to learning new things and having exciting new adventures. Never settling for anything less than what I deserve and making sure I follow my own advice!
PS; On a side note update-since writing this piece I have meet a partner in crime while traveling. He is supportive in every way, including my solo travels. We met while I was in Thailand and plan to have many adventures. You just never do know what’s around the corner. Remember to leave your heart and mind open, you never know the opportunities that will come your way.
#FOLLOWYOURDREAMS #NEVERSETTLE #NEVERGIVEUP