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Death + Dolphins; 2019 In Review

Hi beautiful ones.

I’ve been journaling (surprise)! over the holiday season and I wanted to share with you some of what I’ve been processing. It’s was a year of being all over the place – in every single way. Well, you know. More so than normal 🙂

Here we go… the extreme highs, lows, and some of the merciful inbetween…

2019 The Lows

I’m starting with the lows first, because I always like to end everything on a good note. To be honest, I debated whether to even talk about this stuff, as most of it is still quite raw. Well, very actually.

Death

Yeah. This is crap. It feels crap. I hate it. It still hurts. I cried every day until Christmas, which is weirdly when I stopped crying. The girls still cry.

It went a little bit like this.

Him.

At the start of summer, one of my friends from school killed himself. Now, I hadn’t seen him for years. But as another friend wrote in her moving Facebook post, we had this little crowd of us, (I was always on the outside of it but I was still there enough to share in many of the memories) that continued to be close for years after.

My mum reminded me of the time he took me home, together with our friend Jamie, after one very big night out, in a shopping trolley. Minus one shoe. They literally wheeled me miles from the town centre in a shopping trolley. I laugh at the memory now. I cried when she told me.

All over social media was this amazing celebration of our childhood, people adding one another, photos being shared, memories and stories being told. It was a beautiful thing to witness and be part of. I’m thankful for that.

But in the darker times I sat and thought about him, his life, what had been going through his mind at the time. I remembered the chocolate bar I bribed him with to make him my first boyfriend, age 8 or something like that. I remembered so many things, and I felt pain.

I couldn’t even imagine what his closest friends and family were experiencing.

I don’t know why I felt the pain of it so deeply, but I did. I just felt it was such a waste of life. I wondered how we could have all been so close as kids, but all ended up so distant that one person felt alone enough to take their life.

I wished, and wondered, like we all did, whether there was something I could have done, or anyone could have done, to prevent it, even though I know the likely answer.

And it kind of reminded me in that way grief always does, of all of the other grief I’d known.

Him.

I was crying one day in the kitchen, about David, and then my Nan, and for a whole day I cried about my Nan. She died ten years ago, but it still feels like a few months ago. I decided to send my beloved Gramps some photos of the girls.

We hadn’t spoken for a month, although he had spoken to the girls a few weeks earlier. I thought he’d like some photos of the girls, I know how much he loved our mails and photos.

I sent them to his email and waited for his reply.

I didn’t get one.

Ten days later he was found dead in his bathroom.

                                                                       RIP Gramps. You are forever loved.

I thought he had another ten years left at the very least, and then he didn’t. One day he was there, the next I was sat frantically trying to access my email account to see if I’d missed the reply. To see if there was something I’d missed.

Anything, to see his words, or hear his voice again.

I still feel like that now. I can’t imagine what my mum feels. Of course, I cry for her too. For his old friends, Tic and Evelyn. Tic wore all his old war medals to the funeral. They were on the same ship together in the Navy. My Gramps is free now, but death leaves the people behind tied to the weight of grief.

I know he is now dancing with my Nana in the sky but I can’t help but wish he was dancing with us here at Christmas like he was supposed to be. Like we had planned. But God has other plans.

And he was ready, I think. But that doesn’t make the loss any easier to bear.

Over Christmas though, the tears stopped. I loved being at home in the UK with Mama Moomin. I actually call her Moomin or Mooms. She has these tiny little Moomins I got for her one year sat on her fireplace. I love her. 

I loved everything about being back in England. (ok fine, not the cold or the grey. but everything else). We just had the loveliest time and it was nicer than I imagined it could be.

Her.

One day I was journaling about waves of grief and how one minute you’re fine and the next minute you’re entirely broken. I thought about how death comes in threes, but I felt that God had given me enough pain for now so that I’d escaped number three.

Just before the New Year, Tress died. Mother to one of my oldest and most beautiful friends.

Rob ran up the stairs to tell me as I was writing this post. Needless to say this post did not get written.

He ran back down the stairs, because I don’t think he realised.

I don’t think he realised that when my relationship fell apart in my 20s, Tress poured me red wine in her cosy kitchen and the world felt better.

That Tress helped Holly dye my hair white blonde and then inky black, helping me reinvent myself over and over. Something I still do. 

I don’t think he knew, that anyone could know, how we danced in her kitchen to some old album I don’t remember the name of. I don’t think he knew how I sat there, tears running right through me, thinking of fish bbqs in the summer sunshine. The first time I ever had fresh fish. We ate it wrapped in tinfoil.

And I thought of course of my sweet friend. I wanted to wrap her up in love and spirit her away somewhere. I felt her pain yet could not of course feel anything close to her pain, so I chose to feel the memories instead.

I chose the sunset, she sent me sunsets too. We bonded together like always, like we didn’t even need any words.

And I sat on the little bed in the cosy spare room at my Mum’s house, fish bbqs, a shoe that was never found, photos that I will never know that arrived, burning through me.

And so that was death, in 2019.

Somehow breaking me, somehow changing me, somehow making me stronger and better in ways I can’t even tell yet.

What Death Teaches.

I don’t have any lessons to share about death, really. One of my clients and friends who experienced something similar told me something she had learned was that death has many faces.

For some reason it reminded me of Game of Thrones, where the character Aya serves the many faced God after experiencing intense deaths within her family. Suddenly that storyline made so much sense to me in a way I hadn’t realised before.

Death is the the many faced God that we have to serve until we are learn to live with it. Some days you serve sadness and some days you serve pretence and sometimes you are blind to it and some days you are happy and strong and somedays you are on your knees with the force of it all.

Healed doesn’t mean back to how you were, but the new version of you. Stronger, tougher, because you had to heal from the piercing.

And you learn to run from it, hide from it, get sick from it, cope with it, until one day you become the stronger, tougher, more resilient you, made more beautiful in the truth of this crazy thing called life.

After all, that’s what we have. Life. And now I am, I guess, serving the many faced God until I become however I am meant to. Whatever and whoever that might be.

So, that was death in 2019. There wasn’t anything else, really. Or maybe I can’t remember because death overshadows most things.

Business was not good or bad. It was the inbetween. I guess that’s next then.

The Inbetween

Business was my mostly inbetween, with a few highs.

My Startup Summer

I didn’t focus on growth in 2019, I just focused on play, experimentation, and joy. With that came a really interesting kind of freedom but that also didn’t come without a little death.

The Japanese say a little death is good for the soul. This was the kind of death that felt good. Of course sad. Of course, brutally hard in points. But ultimately it reminded me of what I am really here for.

I’m talking mostly about the startup I founded in the summer. I was exhilarated to stay the course on the Y -Combinator startup program, it’s a fairly intensive and high-pressure competitive program, and I joined with my co-founders as we aimed to get our startup off the ground.

Around week 6 or 7, my Grandad passed away. I went into robot mode. Shut out everything. I don’t know if it contributed to the end of the startup. Maybe. But it all ended exactly as it was meant to.

I completed the course. I got my pass certificate in startup skills. Most companies fell off the radar and didn’t make it through, so I was happy to complete the course.

The business knowledge was kind of mind-blowing. I’ll talk more about what I learned in a post sometime.

I learned some powerful things about big business, (like, on the multi billions level) but mainly that I don’t want it 🙂 I was chasing it thinking it was what I wanted, but the truth is business models based on creativity, freedom, and joy excite me most. And making money doing that.

Which means, as per usual, concentrating on what I love. Blogging, writing, coaching. Creating. Building online things 🙂 But it was hard. I felt like a crap CEO because for the longest time I kept denying that my heart and soul are freedom-based.

It was my ego chasing ‘startup founder’ instead of honouring what I love. Freedom to live how I please, freedom to earn what I like, freedom to experiment, play, do different things.

As a result I was super hard on myself and my team but I was so blinded by it all it was no wonder that perhaps a death could be the only thing to unchain me from it.

I still believe in the changing shifts coming in the education system though, and I sometimes daydream about resurrecting Kinspark – even now, months later, people are STILL joining the mailing list every day! (I literally have a whole ton of content now on how to grow a mailing list crazy-fast).

I wonder whether there was a better way to work it, whether I could work differently now I empowered myself with the knowledge I don’t work well in that typical startup way. Kind of like mourning an ex boyfriend or relationship.

You always wonder whether you should or could have said or done something differently, even though you feel a peculiar pain that is freedom.

But mostly, I know my soul passion is NOT building a new educational system. It’s freedom. Education is certainly a part of that (read why we unschool, here), but it’s not my entirety. And I don’t have the heart to make it such.

Copywriting, Work, Grief

My copywriting was the inbetween too. I took on more copy clients, which was good. But I didn’t push anything, it was more just whenever I saw some work that looked interesting I’d pitch for it.

It’s funny, for the first time ever, I think, I’ve actually slightly envied people with a job.

I think maybe grief is easier to handle when you have to go to work no matter what circumstances you’re going through. I’ve got lots of free time on my hands, which is great, but I have no boss to ensure I’m on track, only my own targets to meet.

It’s easy to sit in the arms of grief for too long and spend too many mornings crying.

On the flip side of this, I’ve considered that at least I’m probably grieving properly, and not trying to escape or bury it. This can only be a good thing, even when it doesn’t necessarily feel as such.

Strength In Stability

But back to business. Most of it was in the middleground, but I’m happy it was there. I can’t imagine going through grief while dealing with a massive launch, or stressful deadlines, or working with a ton of clients. 

I have a beautiful handful of soulful and perfectly aligned coaching clients, which for the most part, are a dream to work with. I have beautiful readers who consistently open my mails and read all my posts. Even the long rambling ones. Most of them 🙂 And I have regular clients who purchase my courses, books, and programs whenever I do launch.

That’s not the middle ground, it’s awesome, so perhaps I should be on the highs by now.

But one more thing about the middle ground.

My business hasn’t shrank this year, but it stabilised. That’s not a bad thing. That’s an amazing thing. But sometimes we see it as a bad thing because most people think business is always about constant growth. The reality is that business for a long time is usually flat, punctuated by peaks of growth.

Business can also go down, and this is also not a bad thing. It’s a normal thing. It gives you opportunity to reflect, learn, grow, shift.

Then it can rise again.

To have relatively stable income, is a good thing, and I consider a great place to build from in the year that is 2020.

If your income has stabilised (or even shrank a little) you have to know this is an entirely normal part of being in business. Every business owner will have times where they go up, down, backwards.

You can’t control the economy, google search results, what Instagram decide to do with your account and you can’t always identify why, exactly, sales slow down or stop.

You can’t always control what happens in your life, either. and business tends to reflect life. And death, whether that’s the death of a person or relationship or other circumstance. 

But what you can do is know that this is entirely normal. The second you stop beating yourself up about that is the second you get chance to start building something stronger and better. I read the other day that women in particular take failure really, really personally. It was Denise Duffield Thomas, I think.

She said that women would rather die of shame than admit failure and as such there is still this existing stigma for women around failure, connected to guilt.

But men do failure brilliantly – Donald Trump and Richard Branson both experienced extreme failures, but for men it’s totally normal to file for bankruptcy and in the same breath file to open another business almost right away.

Isn’t that crazy, how society penalises women for starting over, while men just kind of shrug it off and take the good lessons they learn to build something better?? 

Stagnation isn’t great, it’s just been good for me personally this year while I managed life (and death).

But failure isn’t failure! It’s just another chance to start over. In business you get this chance every single day. Wipe the slate clean, start over. Wipe the slate, start over.

It doesn’t matter what anybody else has to say about it, you get this chance every single day anyway. So whether you stagnated, failed or just dropped off the radar in 2020 – now you get the chance to start over.

The Highs!

Travel

2019 was an amazing year for travel. Following on from 2018, we started celebrating the new year in New Zealand together with my brother and his family, including my amazing nephews. Istria said it was the best New Year she had ever had.

We spent the next few months chasing waterfalls, going to the famous art deco festival, and then ended up in the North of the north island on a gorgeous house there (complete with ponies. full heart overload). We explored beaches and shared many funny games of headsup with my friend Hanni.

I love New Zealand in a way I hadn’t imagined I would. It’s just beautiful, and free, and the landscape is so big it’s kind of this beautiful reminder of everything that will continue to live on after you. It’s oddly reassuring and revitalising all in one breath.

Plus, my brother in law’s family always do so much for us when we are there. They always think about how to support the kids. I am always thankful for their gifts and presence.

Dolphins

From there we travelled down to Australia in March to spend time with more friends. First, to Sydney, then on to Perth.

It was great spending time with them, and their beautiful newborn babygirl, and awesome to see the city. The highlight being of course, a boat trip to see dolphins swimming in the wild.

It was a bucket list moment for me, and for Istria, they’re her favourite animal, and the girls faces when we saw them jump above the waves, together with their little baby dolphin inbetween them. Magical.

Now of course, the country is burning. Like California did. Like the rest of the world, I sit in horror at the devastation. 1 billion animals and already too many human lives too.

I don’t feel I can even comment properly on it, on the tragedy and sadness of it all. I don’t know what to think about it, about how or why all of a sudden the entire country is burning, in a country so accustomed to extreme heat and bushfires.

I don’t feel I can legitimately comment on it either. It’s not my homeland, and I’m not empowered with enough knowledge to do so. But I did find this article interesting – warning, if you believe global warming is the sole cause of the fires, don’t read this post.

Mostly, I don’t have an opinion on it. I just feel sad that the world, and people, can be cruel sometimes. But

Life is tough, and so are you, my morning card read yesterday.

Yes. So much yes.

Island Love + Home

Finally, we decided to head back to Cyprus. After an unexpected year of travel (we had initially just moved to Thailand for 9 months)! we felt the need to rest, and Cyprus soothes the soul. Mother Aphrodite was calling, and so we flew back to the island we currently call home.

I had my heart set on a particular villa I’d wanted for literally years, but it simply wasn’t available. I was concerned my powers of manifesting were failing but then a friend of mine sent me over this villa we are now in.

And everyone that walks into it falls in love with it, because like our last home here, it has the most beautiful vibe and feeling to it.

No wonder then, a few weeks after moving in, I received a ‘notes from the universe’ email, reminding me that ‘you’ve now got your magical 5 bedroom home filled with love and light, Charlie’. I really do. And for it I am nothing but grateful.

The sea heals my soul every day with the view from my window and I swam almost daily in the summer in our pool. This morning we picked a lemon from our tiny lemon tree, we picked almonds in the springtime and grapes from the road outside in the autumn. The girls have space to run around, and be free.

We are home, in the island of love, and sea, and sky.

Italy

Later in the year I also went to Italy to meet with clients; I always love my 1:1 days but nothing beats doing them in Italy, I don’t think. I’ve now done them for the past few years and will most likely do them again in 2020, even though I said last year I was done with traveling, Italy called me!

The lovely garden of Milan’s Bulgari hotel, and the four seasons of Florence. What a beautiful experience that was – however, after hours of being in the Four Seasons; we actually opted to eat in a little local restaurant around the corner and I’m so glad.

My heart fills up not only on gorgeous buildings and luxe but mostly giant mouthfuls of tomato pasta, bulging olives, red wine to wash it down with. It was chequered-table-cloth glorious.  It was Italy, just like the beautiful man from the air bnb I stayed with (The BEST EVER view of Florence from my window).

Gabriele was my angel, of course.

He cooked dinner for me every night, made me coffee on his stove every morning, showed me around his rooftop balcony herb garden and his beautiful photographs scattered over the walls of his home. Gabriele showed me Italy, and I can’t wait to take Rob and the girls to meet him.

And then there was travel back to the UK. It wasn’t for the happiest reasons but my cousin flew in from Vietnam and my brother from New Zealand (yes, we all appear to have wandering souls) and we at least were together in our grief. It was sadness touched with happiness. Exactly as good grief should be.

Other things I’ve done in my business this year that I’ve loved;

* started a podcast and recorded over 52 episodes. I’ve LOVED podcasting! I’m so happy that my podcast has had over 2500 listens, which is amazing seeing as I’m rarely consistent with it, rarely publish my episodes on social media or send to my mailing list, took months off over the summer, and actually, well,  is just amazing anyway! Thank you beautiful listeners!

* worked consistently with my assistant. This is the longest time I’ve had an assistant for, I think! And she is all sorts of wonderful goodness magic and fairy dust. She keeps my podcast and pinterest accounts running for me as well as loads of ad-hoc tasks!

* launched my planners. I haven’t talked about them much yet, as I’ve been running experiments – in fact the whole thing was a kind of big business experiment! But you can see some of it over on my Youtube channel. I’m going to do a whole write up on my planner experiment, as I want to show how anyone can get started making passive income and earning from it asap!

* fallen in love with photography again. After a few years break, I’ve been going through my old images and realised how much I miss creating images and shoots and writing about photography! I’m not sure how this is going to unfold yet, but I feel photography is definitely going to play a part in my 2020!

* loving blogs again! I stopped reading blogs in previous years, not for any particular reason. But I have rediscovered blogs last year and I’m spending time daily reading them! I think where social media is so fast and fleeting, with micro moments from someone’s life, blogs really feel like I’m connecting to people on a deeper level, and getting to know them beyond the social media veil. Reading blogs has made me really, really happy!

Blogs I’m Loving

* Leonie Dawson (creative mama, entrepreneur)
* Twinsmommy (a blog about blogging)
* Steve Pavlina (life habits, though he doesn’t post that often anymore I’m enjoying all the old content)
* Neil Patel (SEO guru satisfies my inner nerd)

Do you know any good blogs? I’m always wanting recommendations, let me know in the comments!

*got featured in the UK national press. (massive thanks to PR Queen Nicola Russill-Roy)

God, this was massive. Massively weird for someone who is mainly an introvert.

It was weird to find someone here messaging me at some weird hour shouting YOU’RE IN THE PAPER!

It was weird seeing the physical copy, stacked at my mum’s house. She bought ten copies. Lol. I think I asked her to. Double lol.

It was weird that it went out on Easter Sunday. The most popular day of the year.

It was entirely weird that they’d omitted a ton of facts and ignored half of my edits. Non-lol. Which led me having to explain to people why they weren’t mentioned, etc. Not that it mattered.

Because I felt weird and uncomfortable around it for weeks, and kinda hid it away, until I learned my Gramps bought the paper and proudly showed all his neighbours. Now he has gone, I won’t ever forget that I made my Grampy proud.

And for that, I literally don’t give two shits what the local critic, the online haters, or anybody else has to say about it, or even the fact half of it wasn’t entirely what I’d said.

I made him proud. That’s what matters.

Get published. Not because it promotes your business (it does) raises visibility, or for ego purposes. But because it might make your Gramps proud, or your kids proud, and you, proud. Be proud, in a world that teaches you not to be. Be proud of who you are, what you create, and the life that you’re building.

And then be proud you’re here creating it.

See you soon for my 2020 Grand Plan!

xoxo

PS Here are 8 places and ways you can donate to support the Australian bushfire victims and relief efforts. 

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