Walk the walk…

So yesterday my estate agent came around to take the pictures needed to put the house, that I have lived in for 20 years, on the market. I was away at the weekend so Nigel had done loads of sorting out to minimize the detritus of daily living that fills our home. Needless to say, we didn’t take a picture of the garage! I got up early to remove dog hair and mud from the conservatory and living room floor. and a bit more clutter, such as the nearly dead poinsettia that has hung on since Christmas. I replaced our old cushions with some new ones that actually match the curtains, placed fresh flowers in the room and generally spruced up what I could. Weirdly I was really nervous about the whole thing!

Angela arrived with her wide-angle lens and snapped away. The results were astonishing, and looking at them I was left wondering why we were selling!

Afterwards, I sat on the sofa with the dogs and found myself overwhelmed with emotion and really tearful. Not quite sobbing, but not far off.

I have lived in this house for 20 years, 13 of them with Nigel (that doesn’t really seem possible!). The first 3 years were some of the most miserable of my life, the next 3 were a real struggle and since then there have been ups and downs. But I have loved this home. It has sustained me, even when the financial struggle to retain it seemed insurmountable. I think the process of getting ready to sell has brought the realization that it is a home.

Lots of lovely memories flooded over me. The first night here when Mum, Steve and I ate a take-away curry on paper plates because we had not labelled the box with the plates in! Zoe growing from a tot to a teenager and then into a young woman. The Labradors as puppies. All the parties and friends coming to visit. Nigel moving in. But also the bad memories. Of violence and spite. Of tearful lonely sleepless nights when I could not see an escape from the misery of a broken marriage. And weirdly the bad memories were as valid as the happy ones.  They are all part of Penny as she is now. Stronger, wiser and more hopeful. A little braver. A bit more determined. Maybe even a little more selfish.

We want a different life, a life that we cannot have here anymore. A new future. To achieve what we want we have to close one door and open another. There is a cost. I won’t be living with Zoe any more, I will be a long way from my mum. I will be moving away from some pretty wonderful friends, some of whom are new in my life. But the door to our new future is bright and shiny and calling to be opened soon. A door to a brave new world.

I spent this weekend in the company of several women that I greatly admire. They are leaders and friends, with dreams, desires and passion. At one point I was watching one of them, Kelli, deliver some training to around 30 of us, and I had one of those moments where a flash of lightning strikes you, and turns things on its head.

Over the weekend we shared many stories, over dinner, breakfast and during our discussions about the future. I shared something from my past, a story that many of you may be familiar with already. Let me take you back to the 90s. I was 36, a mum with a small baby, working full time, in a difficult relationship and spending a lot of evenings on my own. I had discovered the internet very early and it was my salvation. To cut a long story short I ended up working on Compuserve, managing 3 “adult chat” forums. (To be honest they were pretty tame even by Facebook standards today)

Anyway, my online handle was “Wench” – the story of how I came to that name is another story, which I am happy to share if you need to know!

Wench was an amazing woman. She was sexy, sassy, totally believed in herself, and basically didn’t give a s**t. She was fair, generous, kind, strong, fearless and funny. She was all things that Penny wasn’t. Penny did not believe that she was any of those things. She was frightened, downtrodden and stressed. But she was also hard working, loyal and fairly determined. She kept going, and in the end she and Wench became one.

In reality, Penny and Wench were always the same person. We all have many sides to our personalities and at different times in our lives different abilities come to the fore. It’s like the fight or flight response. When we really need a strength somehow it materialises.

But I think that the real transformation comes when you can call on the strength that you need when you need it. And what drives that is passion and belief.

Kelli is successful in business. She has a lovely family. She is completely passionate, believes in herself and her future. She has a plan. None of this has come that easily. She has worked incredibly hard. She delivered some amazing training. She shared her journey with us honestly and openly and at times tearfully. She stood in front of us with confidence and passion with a desire to show us a way of finding our own path, she wanted to ignite our passion. For the products we sell and the future we want for ourselves. We left the event revitalised and excited.

I was totally inspired. As I sat watching Kelli I realised that although I constantly talk the talk, I do not always walk the walk. But I wanted to be Kelli. I want to be that person standing at the front of the room delivering inspiration. Sharing my success. I wrote these words on my notepad

MAKE THAT DECISION! WHY NOT?

About 2 weeks ago, I went to a vision board workshop. To complete the circle, it was organised by Angela, my lovely estate agent! I have done vision boards before but this time felt different. The words and pictures that I placed on it jumped out at me. I think this weekend has given me the tools I need to complete it. When it is done I will share it with you all.

We are about a month into 2017. Events are gathering pace. I can feel a bit of me trying to slow them down when they are actually racing ahead at great speed. Penny is going with the flow, but Wench is stepping in and taking control. She knows that they are heading in the right direction and that everything will be ok. She is confident and determined.

My house goes on the market tomorrow. My home will travel with me. My destination is success. More talking the talk.  Time to walk the walk!

Baring all…

Sometimes life just throws you curve balls and you have to deal with stuff you would really rather sweep under the carpet, or lock away in a cabinet to bring out and brood about from time to time. Those of you who follow my blog regularly will have read about my total meltdown concerning my hair in December. It was so painful, and really quite scary. But I received huge support from friends and acquaintances which bolstered and encouraged me. Thank you for that.

Wearing my wigs has been interesting, sometimes depressing, and sometimes downright hilarious! Like the time that I was scooped up into a big Christmas hug from a friend in a crowded coffee shop, and as I pulled away my wig got pulled sideways and I was reduced to hysterical laughter, as I tried to right it without anybody noticing! Thank god for my well developed, sometimes inappropriate sense of humour! It has helped me greatly to see that my own hair is actually improving, which is what I hoped would happen.  Without the volumizer covering and pulling on my scalp the hair is not breaking and I can see a real improvement. I am using a serum recommended by Ann, my lovely hairdresser, and also taking a supplement which is said to benefit hair growth too.

The major, major, improvement to my life is being able to wash my own hair and feel the pounding water on my scalp! It is total bliss and I have been known to simply stand under the shower for an extra few minutes, just enjoying the sensation!

But after the response to my previous blog, and several conversations about it, I got to thinking about my reaction. I also heard from several women who told me that they too wear wigs and have done for some time. I had absolutely NO IDEA about these beautiful women, who had made the same decision as me. It definitely made me feel that I was not alone.

As I said in my previous blog, I have spent the last 4-5 years happily telling everyone who would listen about my hairpiece. Wiggling it on occasion when it was loose, to show people! As with many things I do, I really hoped that my experience would help someone else. And I know it did. So, in the interests of continuing to help I made the decision that I was going to step out of my comfort zone and take steps to “own” my “problem”

Through my business growth group I recently met a lovely photographer called Sarah. Now Sarah does not normally take pictures of people. Her specialty is taking beautiful photographs of inanimate objects (although I have to say, once she takes the photo, they are anything but inanimate!) Sarah and I have become friends, she is gorgeous inside and out. So I asked her if she would do something for me and take a photograph of me in all my balding glory!

She came to my house yesterday, put me at ease over a cup of tea and took the photos. Although I do find them hard to look at, I am going to be brave and share them. I should say that after 3-4 weeks of rest my head does look so much better, but I am still not able to go out in public without a hat or a wig, and I think it will be a while before I am ready to do that.

I know that many of you will tell me that I look beautiful. I shared one with Ann, my hairdresser, last night and she told me that I look serene! I can tell you, I felt anything but serene!

I will appreciate every compliment you will share with me, and as always I feel incredibly lucky to have some pretty wonderful friends, both in real life, and on Facebook. But I do not feel beautiful or confident. I am simply sticking my fingers up at my fears, both real and imagined.

So here I am. In all my glory. This is me. Penny. Scared, but doing it anyway. Sort of a blueprint for my life in 2017. This is the year when I am going to stop being afraid. Stepping out of every comfort zone I exist in and racing ahead to a new life. And if I can do it…anyone can!