We never know where the road may lead

Who would have thought all those years ago, as a child living in ‘The Valleys’ of South Wales, that I would be part of Sant Elia Lifestyle together with an olive grove and vineyard!

The drink of choice for the men then was beer, and copious amounts of it, the only ‘wine’ drunk was by the women within my family, and that was a small glass of Bristol Cream sherry, and only on special occasions!

We can all look back and wish our parents had done things differently. I look back and thank my parents for everything they did for me. We had very little money, no bathroom until I was about 18 years of age...a metal bath in front of the fire was ok by me.

I was slightly relieved though, that by the time I took Jerry home, my parents had converted a bedroom in our ‘end of  terrace’ to a proper bathroom!

So why do I thank my parents? They taught me basic values, to be kind, to respect one another, I was as good as, but no better than anyone else, to work hard and do my best at whatever I chose to do.

My mother was ‘old’ when I compared her to my friends parents, she was 40 yrs old when I arrived, a mistake, I was frequently told, but with no sign of regret. Mum was strict, no ‘valleys slang’...she was born in Hertfordshire! No staying out later than 8pm, no hanging around street corners, and no answering back!

As a result of my early curfew, our house was always full of friends, evenings would be spent listening to music, trying out new makeup and talking boys and fashion.

I loved fashion, and at the age of thirteen made my own clothes, cutting out patterns from sheets of newspaper and making items of clothing that were only seen and worn by the ‘pop stars’ on TV.

Not once did my parents criticise my clothing, they did occasionally comment, “are you going out in that” :)

My love of fashion took me half way down the road to art school, but for whatever reason I declined my seat there, actually my parents were quite happy with that decision as they thought only ‘drop outs’ went to art school and that I would find difficulty in getting a job after graduating. They were probably right with regard the job situation!

So, what did I do instead, I became a nurse, which at the age of four years old I had always wanted to be anyway!

That was such an exciting path to walk, I loved every minute of it, apart from the night duty shifts!

Having had the best and toughest of training, I soon realised, not only how precious our lives were, but also how strong we all are, I have to remind myself of this, as we now all live such hectic lives.

My career stretched ahead of me, I knew there would be slight diversions, especially if I married and had children, although children were definitely not on the top of my agenda.  

After a couple of years of married life and my career looking rosie, shock horror I was pregnant! Exotic holiday had to be cancelled, but I was definitely working until the end of the pregnancy and returning after six weeks post-birth...Ha, well that didn't happen!

To my surprise, I loved this little person...most of the time, and couldn't leave her, little did I know that within four years two other little people would arrive, all unplanned. I actually went to our GP on number three, thinking I had a tummy bug! Yep, and I had been an acute nurse!

I was strict, routines from day one, early to bed, regulated sweet intake, I could go on…my mothers influence no doubt.

I loved every minute of these early years, and my nursing background enabled me to deal with all the little health problems that occur in those early years, but the path started to feel a little rocky, the flash cards were wearing thin and my days on playgroup committees coming to an end.

But the road ahead look bright…

I went back to work and my career went from strength to strength...until I went head long into a collision. Everything came to an end, my husband had the opportunity to work in the U.S. and off we went.

Having been promised a work permit that didn't materialize, I did research and a lecture tour, in my field of nursing, with the intention of returning to the UK after a year, leaving Jerry to finish his assignment alone.

The children loved the US, what an experience they were having... I stayed.

My dilemma, which path do I take now? Alcohol at 15.00hrs?  That would have been so easy, but I couldn't walk down that road, so I dug deep and took myself off to the local gym.

People were friendly, I was given a programme to follow, and then there was no going back. I can't explain the difference, my head was clearer, I was happier, I was able to cope with my life again.

I trained hard, little did I know then that from then on, it would always be part of my life.

We returned to the UK, but to a different area of the country, a return to my original hospital was now impossible.

So where next? Open a nursing home for the young physically disabled of course! Challenging to say the least, but I had the best team working with me. I could write a book on that adventure, love affairs played out in the store room, stolen towels being sold in the local pub, I could go on… we laughed and we cried, but always together.

My fitness training continued, it gave me the mental and physical strength to cope with my everyday workload, which now included working with an HIV and AIDS charity in my spare time.

I could not understand the stigma towards AIDS, I had three children all in their teens, any one of them could have taken that road and been affected by such a terrible disease.

Hours and hours of training followed, until I became ‘a buddy’.

Rule number one, no boundaries to be crossed, not a problem for me, it was part of my working life... until the charity folded!

What was going to happen to my ‘buddy’, should I say “sorry it has to be goodbye”, after all I was told he only had three to six months to live... No, we became even closer friends, in fact he became part of the family, as well as part of my social group. His life expectancy of three to six months quickly passed, and he died two years later, living every minute to the full, yet another reminder to me that life is so precious.

Throughout all of my ventures, since my ‘crash’ years earlier (living in the US) the straightest road has been that of health and fitness, it’s just carried me along.

So now was the time to follow my passion. I’d actually done a gym instructors course years earlier, but now with all my past experience it was time to share my knowledge, so I trained to become a personal trainer and performance coach at Loughborough. It goes without saying that I was the oldest student in my PT training, I could have been a grandmother to everyone of them, no one knew my age and no one asked, until the very last day, the comments are unrepeatable :) I trained as they had all trained.

I was, and still am, very happy on this fitness road, working both in the UK and at Sant Elia in Italy, but the most unexpected road is now in sight.

It will run parallel to the one I’m on now, but will involve wearing several extra hats. What started as a project ten years ago, renovating an old property, the planting olives, vines and fruit trees, is now becoming slightly more serious! So much so that we are now selling the olive oil and developing a winery, I will have company on this road, Jerry and I will walk it together.

Yes, I have walked thousands of ‘experience miles’, but I’m forever grateful to my parents and my place of birth, for giving me such a wonderful grounding, which in turn has given me the strength to grow into the woman I am today.