Two T-shirts brought home to me this week just how much my life has changed in the last seven years. If not quite revolution, certainly revelation.
During May 2011 I took what was intended to be a three-month sabbatical from my 25 year career as a journalist. For various reasons I never returned.
I loved my job from the early beginnings on a busy local weekly, nine years writing for our daily regional newspaper, and learning a whole new set of skills reporting on BBC local radio for 12 happy years.
I covered every news item on my patch from sitting through parish council meetings to quizzing two Prime Ministers, from breaking emergencies to long thoroughly researched exclusives, from tragic deaths and sadness to comedic light-hearted hilarity, from telling the plight of homeless people in refuges to interviewing members of the nobility in castles.
It was a wonderful, rich, varied job that brought many privileges and insights. But I always had a sense that I was telling someone else’s story.
It was hard at first to carve out a new identity, to not have the comfort blanket of a big organisation, colleagues to share ideas with, no firm agenda to follow. Difficult to find something, which through my own efforts, I could directly connect with others.
Through running and writing – two of my passions in life, I’ve been fortunate to create original experiences that I know many have enjoyed – they are the Women Can Marathon and Relay and a children’s book about marine plastic pollution Tuamor the Turtle.
It was the T-shirts that made me smile and feel proud – I saw a woman in a sports shop on Monday wearing her 2017 Women Can finisher shirt and yesterday as I was doing a Tuamor reading, a passer-by who saw my shirt assumed I’d bought it after enjoying the book, and was very excited to learn I was the author.
Two T-shirts with a tale as originally told by me, but now taking on a life of their own.
*Women Can 2018 is on Sunday 27th May, enter/or sign up for marshalling through the website www.womencan.co.uk. A thousand copies of Tuamor the Turtle have been sold in three years. The book is being used in schools as part of National Curriculum Key Stage 2 work and part of the proceeds go to support the Marine Conservation Society.