Date: 13 September 2009
Place: Hull, UK
What: The start of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race
Exactly one year ago today I set sail from Hull en route to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil via La Rochelle, France. Anyone who followed my More to Life than Laundry blog will know the huge amount of effort involved in getting to this point. A mum to then 3 and 5 year old sons, a business to run, a normal busy life to take care of. But I wanted to get off the hamster wheel of life for a little while and do something for me.
And so after months and months of very hard work organising, fund raising and training, I was finally ready to set sail. What followed was a six week experience that had been billed as life-changing. A year on, my question is, was it?
On paper, my life is exactly the same. I have two (slightly older) boys, my business, a busy life and house to run. I have the same frustrations that were always there (the laundry pile never gets any smaller). But something has changed. And it's very hard to define.
What's changed is me. It's a very subtle thing that probably isn't visible to the outside world. But I'll try to explain...
I feel empowered. Not in that in your face women's lib kinda way. But in a quiet, understated, gently simmering warm feeling of knowing that I can do whatever I set my mind to.
I feel free. The constraints of motherhood, adulthood and responsibility can feel suffocating, stifling with the question of 'Is this it?' loitering in the dark corners of your mind. I'm free of that now. Because I know that there's a horizon out there that is blue and golden and it's perfectly possible to go explore it.
I live life. I used to berate myself for not having a global business empire or greater business achievements. I've made peace with that now and set myself a new objective. To have fun, to enjoy life, to cut myself some slack. And I've spent most of this year doing exactly that.
I feel peaceful. Obviously not all the time as my last post highlights, but when times get tough, I go to my mental sanctuary. A place I discovered in the middle of the Atlantic. It tastes of salt. It smells of clean sea and fresh air. It sounds like rushing water. It feels like a warm breeze tangling hair tendrils that whip against a sun-cleansed face. It looks like a never-ending blue canvas that arches around me in all directions. It is bliss.
So yes, it has been life-changing. Not in the 'I'm changing career and taking up adventure sports' way, but in the ways that count. Best of all, I did it, and nothing can ever take that away.