I began 2017 feeling a little flat. I’d spent NYE at home on my own, albeit accompanied by some delicious cheese from Wholefoods, an incredible dessert from Ladurée and, of course, a bottle of France’s finest fizz.
But things really weren’t great. I’d started a new job at the end of 2016 which I knew had potential, but I was feeling really unsettled. A number of my closest friends had got married or had babies in 2016 and while I was of course delighted for them, I couldn’t help feeling that life was leaving me behind. I finished the year feeling massively run down and with a cold, cough and chest infection that I just couldn’t shake. Getting out of bed was a daily struggle and, more often than not, I could barely find the energy to face the world.
I knew things had to change but I felt completely stuck.
Given my day job in leadership development, I’d figured I could coach myself through most things but I finally conceded I was in a rut and needed someone independent to help me to move forward. So I got myself a Life Coach. With an appropriate amount of empathy accompanied by a healthy dose of tough love, Caroline helped me turn things around, encouraging me to live with intention. The very first thing we did was create a bucket list, facilitated by my good friend Carla one evening while sat in our PJs with a glass of wine. I was amazed at the things I’d written on my list, many of which weren’t necessarily obvious, nor were they all big goals. But writing them down somehow made them possible and then the planning could start.
Reflecting back on 2017, I can hardly believe how many wonderful things I did, none of which I could have imagined at the start of the year. Here are my top ten highlights.
- I visited the enchanting country of Iceland to experience the Blue Lagoon, Geysir, Gullfoss, and in pursuit of the Northern Lights. While I was unable to see the lights without looking through a proper camera lens, I will never forget the spine tingling memory of standing in a pitch black and freezing car park in the middle of nowhere and singing O Holy Night with fellow members of the London City Voices choir. Truly magical!
- I dyed my hair for the first time in my life! I know this may seem a little trivial to some, but to me it was quite a defining moment. They say that blondes have more fun so I invested in balayage as a metaphor to live life with more adventure. It’s definitely working!
- I took my first flight in a jumbo jet and it was, officially, the furthest I’d ever flown. Despite starting my career with British Airways, I’d worked really hard to overcome my fear of flying these past few years and found the entire experience liberating and empowering. The flat bed and unlimited champagne in Club World certainly helped!
- I definitely left a little bit of my heart in San Francisco. Taking trips through the city, out to Alcatraz, Napa Valley, Sausalito and even Yosemite, were all incredible experiences. And of course I went to my first ever Baseball game… Go Giants! I can’t thank Ellen, Adam and their family and friends enough for the time, effort and friendship they put in to helping me have the most amazing time in their home city. I will forever cherish the memories.
- I went to Las Vegas! I’m so pleased I went but would need to be really convinced to go back. I struggled with the air quality in the hotels and ended up in the Urgent Care Centre with a dose of steroids and a Ventolin inhaler to help me breathe properly! But I saw an amazing show in Magic Mike Live and got to spend my time with a whole load of lovely Stella & Dot stylists from across Canada and North America. It’s all about the sisterhood!
- I took my first flight in a helicopter. Flying through the Grand Canyon was without doubt one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I never thought I’d do it but I’m so glad that I felt the fear and did it anyway. Fear converted to exhilaration was the reward and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
- I moved house! After five years of living in Maida Vale, I realised that I needed to leave behind the exhaustion of a central London hamster wheel lifestyle and sought solace in leafy Zone 6! My move to Teddington was by far one of my best decisions of 2017 and I’m looking forward to enjoying my new neighbourhood even more in 2018!
- I took a super fun road trip through Emilia Romagna with my sister, falling in love with Bologna and revisiting the places we used to go when we were growing up. Visiting my nonno’s grave in our family mausoleum after almost 25 years felt really special, as did visiting Bardi to celebrate our lovely cousin Luisa’s wedding in the castle. And talking Italian in general makes my heart so happy!
- I went skiing three times – to Verbier, Cervinia and Sauze d’Oulx! I absolutely love being in the mountains – the combination of sunshine, snow and fresh air is the perfect tonic, especially if I get to speak French or Italian. I have however concluded that I am most definitely a social skier best suited to wide, flat runs with plenty of opportunities to take photos of the views and sit outside a mountain bar in the sunshine with a glass of something fizzy in my right hand!
- And finally, 2017 was the year I turned 40. I felt so much pressure to make it memorable and, as such, got myself completely stressed out! After chatting it through with a work colleague, I decided to take the week off and create memories by doing things that made me happy. From opening so many lovely cards from far and wide, lunching and karaoke-ing with my besties on my special day, to the sixty friends from all areas of my life who took the time to come and celebrate with me at my party; my heart was literally bursting with happiness.
And of course there were many more wonderful experiences, all with friends and mostly involving a glass or two of fizzy wine. More new people came into my life this year than ever which has brought so much more colour to my experiences. As for my own “happily ever after” story, at times I get quite lonely and a bit sad as I wish I’d been able to meet someone special to share life’s journey with, but the only men that seem to be attracted to me are gay so I’ve not had much luck in finding Mr Right! That said, the chance to drink pink fizz in the park, sing songs from Wicked until 4am at a piano and dance the night away at a Bananarama concert with these gorgeous guys really isn’t all that bad!
Thank you to everyone who shared the 2017 chapter of my life story. I’m so blessed by the variety of friendships I’m afforded, all enriching my life in more ways than any of you could ever know. And thank you 2017. I’ve laughed a lot and I’ve also cried a lot too (mostly when skiing and proper ugly crying at that!) and here’s to a 2018 filled with more of the same. (although perhaps a little less of the ugly crying)
What a difference a year makes…
Note: If anyone would like to learn more about Life Coaching programmes, you can get more info on Caroline’s website – http://www.raisethebarlifecoaching.com/. She was worth every penny.