When I started Life Beyond 30, I was 36, had one child and not an awful lot to do with my time. I hated my job, missed my friends back in Scotland, and was pretty fed up and sad. My husband and daughter were out most of the day and had lots of opportunities make friends and connections as they could chat to others at work and school. Me? I was like Shirley Valentine, sitting at home and “chatting” to the F&*^& Facebook wall. My biggest achievement during the day was pairing the odd socks. Go Me!
Things came to a head one night at a neighbour’s party. I felt socially awkward, drank too much, sat on tomato sauce (in a white skirt, which is NOT a good look), and went home in tears. From then on, I watered the front lawn whilst hanging over the fence so I didn’t see or speak to anyone. I’m sure the neighbours thought I was nuts, and to be honest, I kind of was. I had no direction, no enthusiasm and no clue as to what to do with myself. I was used to going to the office each morning, having structure and chatting with people at work. My IT skills were not required in Noosa, I was overqualified for most jobs I applied for, and was only one of thousands of applicants for available positions. What on earth was I meant to do with myself?
So, I volunteered. I would advise anyone who is in a similar situation to do the same! At the very least, it gets you out the house, you meet people of all ages and backgrounds, and you get to learn new skills. There is a huge volunteer section on Seek or Volunteering Sunshine Coast’s website, or do what I did and approach a company you are interested in and offer your services for free.
As well as volunteering, I got myself a Life Coach. She was worth every penny. She helped build my confidence and understand what it was that I was truly struggling with. It was lack of social interactions, my own friends that I chose, and socialising without the family so that I could let my hair down as ME, and not just as a “mum” or “wife” for a few hours.
Out of that, Life Beyond 30 was born. We’ve had fits and starts, and I’ve felt like jacking it in now and then, but finally we are on our way and bringing it to women everywhere.
It is impossible to spend time with the women in our groups and not feel uplifted and/or thankful for what they have given me. We’ve gone back to basics in a time when most social interactions happen online. We are meeting over coffee or drinks, at book club or doing a walk together – laughing, chatting, having face-to-face interactions and at the same time supporting local business. It’s not rocket science, but the Life Beyond 30 movement is solely to support and help women get back in touch with their fun side, while re-establishing a female community essential through the ages.
I’m 44 now, have another child who is now 5, yet I feel younger and more confident than I did 10 years ago. I am finally doing something that I love and I am incredibly lucky that I found my “thing”. Life Beyond 30 is a success because of each of you, with new groups popping up across Australia. I can’t claim that this is all my doing but did I have the vision? Yes! Do I have the drive? Yes! Do I need help and support? Absolutely! I have had incredible encouragement and help from Life Beyond 30 members throughout this journey, and it will be those ladies and others like them who will continue to make Life Beyond 30 a success. I’m just providing the tools, with a lot of help from my friends.
So this is my job now: To provide the tools and encouragement to other women so we can get these groups started and available to the women who need them. Women just like you and me!
It’s simple, really – women need women. Without each other, we would be raving looneys!! Well, I would be anyway. Here’s to the next Life Beyond 30 adventure!