How did I get here? Part 1.

Friends of mine already know this story – well part of it anyway. If in time enough people are following this blog they may want to know where Uncorking the Finer Things came from so I thought I would share.

Three years ago I had a rather acrimonious split with an ex. It was an incredibly stressful time. In a short few weeks we broke up, I moved home twice (once to a friend’s and once to my new home) and took on huge extra responsibility at work. I burned the candle at both ends, was caning the gym and one day it became too much.

I remember it distinctly. It was the Friday before Christmas and I posted on Facebook how much I was looking forward to a night in. I was cooking and then I just felt faint and knew I was about to hit the deck. I had every sign of having a heart attack. My Uncle died from his second, my Dad had one – I knew something wasn’t right. Paramedics came to my home – and well, nothing. No issues, no problems. But I had really bad chest pains and they wouldn’t go away.

I went for my bi annual health test and long story short it turns out I was suffering with stress / anxiety. The doctor wanted to sign me off there and then but I refused. Instead I went to a counsellor; after our first session she said, it’s not me you need, it’s a break. And so that’s what I did.

By the time I had got to deciding I needed to leave I was simply exhausted – mentally and physically. People assumed I was ok after moving into my new home; they thought I was ok once the doctors had given the all clear but in fact I felt worse than ever.

I spoke to my incredible two bosses at the time about taking a sabbatical from work. They agreed.

I made all my plans without telling anyone really. I didn’t want any advice. I didn’t want anyone telling me what I ‘should’ do. In fact if anything I dropped out of circulation for a while – I didn’t really want to speak to anyone.

Anyway – I Googled ‘where is hot in Asia in June / July?’ And the answer was – Malaysia and Borneo. So that’s where I went. You can read for the full story of my time there (and a little more insight into how I got that far).

The nine weeks there were without doubt probably the best weeks I’ve ever had in my life. I totally unwound and importantly I learned to make my own decisions.

My happy place – above the Borneo rainforest

And by the time I was ready to come back I had sorted out the huge piles of written brain dump into these simple actions:

• Leave my job

• Get a dog

• Do up my flat and make it home

• Do my wine qualifications

Such simple things on paper but ones I knew would make a difference.

The dog was simple. I arrived home on July 20 and by August 20 my handsome border collie Rex was at home with me.

The flat was easy too. I’d been in it about eight months before I went away – when I got back I just went to town – redesigned; redecorated; bought new artwork and furnishings.

The wine qualifications came thick and fast. I love the West London Wine School and the more I learned about ‘wine’ the more I came to appreciate it (rather than just drink it!),

The job was a little more difficult. I came back to the fallout of the Brexit referendum (a completely different post!) and had no idea what the contractor market would be like and I knew at that time I would need it. Then within weeks I also found out that my Dad had stage 3 lung cancer. It was a very difficult time; they live overseas so I couldn’t spend as much time with them as I wanted to. My work were fantastic during all of this. I’m pleased to say that he’s ok and cancer free now – it’s still not without its worries but each day is easier. By this time I’m 12 months on from when I returned.

So then, I found myself in the position of ‘everything seems to be ok’ maybe now I can think about something else.

The simple four decisions I’d chosen to make on my return from Malaysia had a greater impact than I originally thought.

Rescued from the Dogs’ Trust Rex has made an incredible difference to my life – a large part of me being here now is because of him – I love our bond, I saw how happy he was at weekends when we were walking out in the country or on a beach and I wanted to be the one who took him on his lunch time walks – not the dog walker. Having Rex has also calmed me down – I was always the party girl – always up for ‘one more drink’ – he gives me a reason to come home, he gives me responsibility and I love him for that and so much more.

The flat had become ‘home’ – I initially had thoughts of moving to the continent but I had become so attached to this pad – it may not be the forever home but it’s certainly what I want right now.

And then there was the wine. The more I learned the more I wanted to learn. I became utterly fascinated with the viticulture; the winery techniques; the geography. Everything enhanced the taste. I live near many a small vineyard and thought that maybe I could use the skills I’ve had as a communicator to help them promote their beautiful wines.

So I formulated a plan. And that plan took 12 months to come to fruition – and that will be the subject of a future blog…