Life doesn’t end with divorce

By Lizzie Tricks

I’ve always been a ‘glass half full’ type of person, but when at 47 years of age, my second marriage ended, I was probably down to the sediment. It was his decision to leave after 11years together and during that time I had given up my career as a senior midwife to support him in his career and be the anchor for our combined families – a story familiar to many of you out there I suspect. At first, I spent a considerable amount of time crying, until I was boring myself and decided I had to do something. I wasn’t really sure what ‘something’ was at this point and I went from feeling really positive and upbeat to being gripped by self-doubt and fear of what the future would bring.

It was on a trip to London that I saw an advert on the tube to join a ‘Round the World’ sailing adventure – no previous experience required. I rang the number, went along to an informal interview and promptly signed up for two legs: across the North Pacific from China to Seattle, and from Seattle through the Panama Canal to New York! What better way to invest my settlement money? My mother was horrified.  I should be saving it for the future apparently.

After the required training, I flew out to join my crew. It was a roller coaster trip with tragedy, exhaustion, pushing my personal boundaries and huge amounts of laughter, but above all, camaraderie. So positive was this experience that I have actually been back and joined the race again, this time around Australia, where we competed in the Sydney to Hobart 2017 Yacht Race. And this year, I also competed in the Fastnet Offshore Ocean Race.

Now, do not get me wrong. I’m not some huge, seafaring, super yachty type. Yes I will go and bounce around on the bow of a boat, but it takes me twice as long to get there as some of those way younger than me.  So let them go, I say.  There are lots of other jobs that require attention on a boat. The most important aspect of all this is the friends I have made. They are of all ages and from all backgrounds, but all with what some might say is a warped sense of humour.  Laughter is good for the soul.

Coupled with the events of my divorce, was the beginning of my joyous menopausal journey. Oh lord, the sweats!  But the BEST treatment I have found is one soya latte a day and lots of adventures. I always make sure I have some trip on the horizon to look forward to. No, it doesn’t always involve going to sea; it might be visiting a girlfriend in another town or city, wandering around a glorious art museum or signing up for a charity fundraiser: I recently abseiled down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth for Cancer Research and in 2017, I trekked across Costa Rica for Cancer Research. That was truly an amazing country and once again, I made some amazing friends whilst doing it.

Exercise for me has always been important as the endorphin release really keeps my mood buoyant and positive and it helps reduce menopausal symptoms. No, I’m not a gym bunny, but I do try to keep the weight off which seems to now collect, infuriatingly, around my waist. So I go to the gym religiously for several months, then become rather bored, then maybe join a class for a few months, then I’ll be back at the gym… There’s a bit of a pattern to be honest, but who says we should just stick to the one thing?! I never run any more as I’ve decided all runners look knackered and I really don’t want to encourage my face on its downwards path, a path it seems keen to follow these days!

Bar Pilates has just come onto my radar. I might give it a go.  I envisage myself looking rather Royal Ballet-esque whilst performing the perfect plié, although I suspect the reality may well be different! My one regular thing is yoga; that is so important as it keeps me supple and relaxed whilst also filling me with energy.

Last year, I decided to become self-employed and set up two businesses: one as an Independent Celebrant and the other, a hire company which specialises in tableware  Never before have I worked for myself. I’ve always been part of an organisation.  So it’s all new and exciting. I am constantly learning.  My house is overrun with stacked boxes of beautiful glasses, as is my garage and I’ve traded in my car for a delivery van! It’s a slow burn, but it’s happening.

My children, now 24 & 15, have been amazing. Both have been so supportive of my adventures and my new businesses. Occasionally, there is an “Oh god, you’re doing what now?”, but they tell me they are proud of me, and I have noticed a real determination appear in their own work ethics. I really hope that I can show them how to be brave and fearless and to give something a go at least once.

Over the last five years, I have practiced a lot of self-reflection and mindfulness. With two failed marriages, it would be easy to just sit and ask “why me?”, but I’ve chosen not to. After a lot of work, I can now see the similarity of patterns in my previous relationships, the ‘type’ of personality I was repeatedly attracted to. I now realise that I do not actually require somebody to be there every day as I enjoy my own space; I like wearing big knickers some days (actually quite a lot of days), eating scrambled eggs on toast for supper whenever I fancy and having full control of the TV remote. After a few hilarious dating app debacles, I actually met a man through my sailing. After a slow start, it’s now been almost two years. He lives two hours’ drive away, has his own busy professional life and a daughter from his first marriage who he sees every other weekend. We see each other several weekends a month, go out for lovely meals, (I wear beautiful underwear for several days), we chat and message regularly during the week and go away on holidays together. Our conversations are brilliant and stimulating and he is incredibly supportive of my businesses, continually encouraging me to push myself further. Yes, he can be a funny bugger sometimes, but then I suspect I can be too. I have managed to change my patterns as he is totally unlike anyone I’ve had a relationship with before. We haven’t introduced our children or family to each other – there is no need to.  There may well come a time when it’s appropriate to, but until then, we are just enjoying our relationship as it is. It feels so liberating to be in a relationship with no expected outcome.  Who knows where we’ll go, what we’ll do?

Please do not think I am one of these irritatingly, perpetually cheerful women…I’m not. There are some days when all I want to do is cry, so I do! But I’ve learnt to be gentle on myself and go with the waves of sadness that occasionally come over me. I light a beautiful scented candle and spend an age in the bath (my go-to space) with a glass of wine, a book or magazine, or call a girlfriend.

So here I am today, not far off 53. I like to think I am a bit wiser, perhaps with a few more fine lines, but my glass is unequivocally overflowing. If you gain anything from my musings, I hope it is this: life is short, so grab it and live it. Don’t dwell on the past, live in the here and now. Love yourself. Be brave and fearless. Laugh lots. But above all, have adventures and maintain fabulousness at all times.

Lizzie x

PS. I put on lip gloss for that sailing picture.

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