Enjoying the glorious autumn sunshine at Widnes train station last Thursday, waiting for my train to arrive, thoroughly looking forward to being reunited with boo Nik Maguire, proceed with an exciting work project and hang out with newly found friends, I found myself striking up a conversation with a fellow traveler, both on our way to Manchester. Isn’t it funny how you often seem to attract like minded souls on your travels, or on an ‘out out’ night, both on very similar personal journeys and straight away have a profound connection and deep conversations you often keep to yourself let alone bother your bff or your mother with. Trudy, a vet and woman like myself in her mid forties, started our conversation off talking about redefining your identity in your forties. Every time one of us shared a personal experience, a struggle or new found realisation, the other was hanging off every word, nodding our head with an enthusiastically; “I so know where you are coming from!”
“Don’t let your struggle become your identity”
I have made it no secret that I have been and still am finding myself again after my 20 year marriage broke down. My children are growing up fast and needing me less and I am left with no choice but to re-think and reset my lifestyle choices and ask the questions: “Who have I become and who would I like to be?” A firm believer of not hanging on to the past for too long and taking responsibility for my actions, I can assure you my life has been pretty much a roller coaster for the last three years or so. Unlike my son Fin who is a roller coaster enthusiast, I had no choice but to jump on, hold tight and just go with it. There have been days of utter dread. You know that feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach when the roller coaster comes crashing down fast. Now and then this feeling still rears its ugly head, but as me and Trudy discussed, it’s in times of struggle and change that you often want to go back to old habits and thought patterns although you know they serves no purpose anymore and even could be harmful. Sometimes you even reach out to old friends for reassurance who are no longer on the same wavelength. This reaction is totally normal. I would state feeling like this is even healthy as during times of transition you can feel at first unbalanced, unsure and a little anxious whilst working on new set goals. Accepting this and keep moving forward no matter how small the steps might seem is the only way to improve, learn and win. The thing Trudy shared with me that stayed with me all weekend was, and I quote: “If only I would have known 5 years ago how much happier I would feel making these changes I would have taken the jump straight away. However old habits or thoughts of what might go wrong and even worrying what people would think held me back. It has taken me 5 years to finally take action. Even if it felt scary at first and left me feeling tired at times, as getting used to new ways can cost mental energy at first, it has been so worth it. I lost a few friends but I’ve gained others and it wasn’t half as hard to make a change as I anticipated it to be.”
“We all need a past – that’s where our sense of identity comes from”
Arriving in Manchester and giving Trudy a heartfelt hug, it was time for me to proceed with my own personal journey. If you would have said to me over a year ago I would find myself in a loving and supportive relationship, I would have probably thrown you a dirty look! If you would have told me two years ago I would work for myself, building up relationships with business people in the world of fashion and hospitality, I would have laughed at you. If you would mentioned three years ago I would have built up new meaningful yet fun friendships with people that inspire me I probably would have rolled my eyes. As I really thought I didn’t had the courage and ability to start turning my life around. I was lacking self-esteem and felt trapped. However today, even though I am still fighting a few battles, feel at times out of my depth, overwhelmed or unsure I think I can finally say I know who I am and where I want to be and go in life. I know I still have a huge mf-ing mountain to climb to conquer but I couldn’t be more excited. Even on those days, like all you have for sure too, where everything goes wrong from the moment you get up or you feel you are stagnant in moving forward. Having a clear sense of understanding your identity and knowing your personal journey, you simply know going back to the old you is not ever going to be an option.
“We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges”
Anyway happily back in fast evolving Manchester, which I have grown to appreciate and love over the last year or so. First stop was to reconnect with Nik and get back to business. Currently working as Head of digital content and advertising and working on an exciting new project promoting the cities coolest places to visit, and there are so many, this new role is challenging me to step out of my comfort zone but it makes me feel alive. Thursday and Friday were spent concentrating on building, planning and connecting with new people. I have embraced the fast pace of vibrant city life, however going for a stroll in a beautiful park on Saturday in picturesque Knutford, embracing being a country girl, the sheer contrast of both was a perfect balance and nurtured me on different levels. Well a country girl in over the knee heeled boots of course!
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”
I wouldn’t be me with a few scatty Essy moments! I used to hate this and for years I would frantically do anything to try and cover up those embarrassing moments, most of the time unsuccessfully. However, I have learnt to embrace these scatty moments as its part of me and life is way too short. The first one was after treating myself to a cute black bodysuit from H&M, with at the time of buying it, in my eyes a very sassy item with “floaty” material attached from the sides of the sleeves to the sides of the body to create a wing like effect. Proudly presenting and showcasing it to Nik, waving my arms in the air to tunes of Gadio blasting out and insisting it must be a new fashion trend. I had to shamefully admit, after being questioned, I discovered it among all the other Halloween outfits!! Oh well. That’s my Halloween outfit sorted!
“Today you are you. That’s is truer than true. There is no one alive that’s is youer than you – Dr Seuss”
The second one happened on Sunday when we were heading out for a birthday lunch for Bodaskins frontman Nathan. We were asked by his beaut of a wife if we could pick up the cake on our way. Setting off in an Uber to new on the block Portuguese restaurant Canto in Ancoats (this place is perfect if you like tapas like dishes to share among family and friends in a cool setting). I jumped out of the car in a busy road and ran to the shop in my heels to quickly collect the cake as we were of course running fashionably late. Whilst queuing in the shop both Nik and the Uber driver wound their windows downs and were pointing their fingers frantically forward. I stuck me thumbs up and gave them both a friendly wave thinking they had to park the car a bit further down the road in case it would take too long. Only to find out I was suppose to be in the shop next door to collect the cake! Duhhh!!!
And now it’s Monday again but I am still smiling after a great weekend and looking forward more than ever to continue evolving, learning, experiencing, meeting new people and taking on new challenges. To keep chipping away to become a stronger, more balanced, happier and an ‘in better shape than ever’ me. Most probably with a few epic fails!
“Your identity is your most valuable possession. Protect it”
I would love to hear from you and how you felt, after making a conscious decision to make a few changes and work on your identity, personal growth and your new set goals. Did you feel straight at ease after resetting your direction in life? Did you find it hard at first, but after overcoming the first hurdles you just knew, like Trudy, it was the best decision you ever made? Also I would love to hear all about your fashion faux pas?
Before I go and get ready for the soft launch of brand new cocktail bar, Kiki Marple in Stockport, I hope you are in a place where you know who you are, where you are going and loving the journey getting there ! If not… it’s really never too late to make a few changes!