When 2020 came knocking, not once did any of us expect or realise to the full extent of how it would impact our lives.
Life for us in France had already been quite tough. We thought we had seen it all and that not much else could happen. We had lived in a historical building that came with a lot of unwanted attention, cared for my father in law until it was recognised we could no longer cope and the authorities took over, we have watched my father in law’s health rollercoaster with Alzheimer’s until the last few weeks where he has started to plateau, we had the unexpected pregnancy and birth of our daughter, my health deteriorate, post-natal depression and then slowly start to improve, buying a farm, start farming, deal with French paperwork and bureaucracy, renovating a farm and houses; the list goes on.
When the schools shut in March 2020 it took us some time to adjust. The children needed our attention more than ever, I had a new business that was away from the farm and we weren’t able to visit my husband’s dad. Little did we know that this particular year would actually help us onto our road of recovery, self-discovery and to finally realise we can do this!
The first few months in lockdown were tough going. Trying to be everything the children needed and what we thought they wanted, farming and setting up my new business. My new business as a Life Coach should have been flourishing with people needing guidance, someone to talk to, a sounding board. But the reality was I had lost confidence; I didn’t feel Life Coaching waving back at me. I had decided to train in life coaching in 2019 when I found out arthritis was hindering my performance as a Hairdresser and Photographer. I thought I was ready to do something and by being a Life Coach this would be it.
By the time July hit we found that we had started to change, the people we were surrounding ourselves with had changed. It was like we had awoken from this deep dark slumber that we had absorbed ourselves in for some time and with the combined help of a break from society and being just a family it was what we needed to kick start us both. My husband’s attitude towards his farming changed and he began to feel more challenged and motivated in a positive way. The children were happier; we stopped home schooling after a few months. Home schooling a teen and a then 3 year old was stressful on us all and in two different languages; it wasn’t working and was causing more stress and anxiety in the house. The moment it dropped, I think this impacted us as a family hugely. It was like a lifeline had been thrown, things were starting to wave back at us, even though it was a tiny moment, it was happening. And being able to notice the change in our children made things slot into place for us. Watching our teen see how the world spins and works making him sit up and listen more. And then at this point is when I realised that Life Coaching really wasn’t for me. I still had an enormous amount of healing to do myself. I had struggled and fought my own demons for some time and thought I was on the mend, when in reality I still wasn’t quite finished.
Then one day this email dropped into my inbox. It was from the Celebrants Collective, something I had followed for a long time since I first saw Natasha Johnson on TV some years back with a Place in the Sun or something like that. This email was my new start, my light turning back on, me becoming me again. This email contained information about a course to become a Wedding Celebrant with Celebrants Collective. I mulled it over for some time as I still wasn’t 100% sure if it was really for me. I had looked into it two years previous with other organisations, but something wasn’t right back then. I talked it over with my husband for several weeks when I suddenly said, that’s it I have to do it now or I will never know.
And that’s how it started… by the end of August I was enrolled onto the course waiting for the start date of 21 September. I was beyond excited and truly cannot describe all the emotions I felt bubbling magically inside of me. I started to really slow the pace on my coaching and I started to look after my own wellbeing more, I set up my own harsh boundaries to move away from the negativity that made me uncomfortable and constantly question myself and to zone in on the positives. My life changed, our lives changed. The positive energies were brewing in our home. When September came our teen started in his new school learning about farming, the youngest was back in school playing with friends combined with a renewed passion for farming and a renewed passion for us as a couple, individuals and as a family. By the time France had a second lockdown, we were in this bizarre chilled out zone. We kept everything simple and kept positive. Some days were harder than others and other days were incredibly harmonious as if it was another family enjoying life, a surreal experience at the time but a more normal and warm feeling experience now. When I started my course the bubbling was just continuous. To realise my dreams of not only socialising and working with people from all kinds of life adventures, but to help people achieve something so beautiful and to write! To write again has been the most amazing and heart-warming experience for me. And when Celebrants Collective announced a full on 4 day intensive of a Funeral Celebrant Course, I was there too despite being in a second country lockdown I knew we could work around it and I would be able to focus on virtual learning.
Becoming a Celebrant has been the most soul satisfying journey I could ever imagine. I felt the world was finally waving back at me, my husband, my children and us as a family.
Since I completed my courses in November 2020 I have continuously set about growing my business slowly. I use a name for my business rather than my own, something that reflects me, Celebrant of Life, Life being the Greek meaning of Zoe. I’ve slowly built my own website and gradually finding my feet amongst the well established in the profession. The tremendous support I have had from the two trainers at Celebrants Collective – Claire Bradford and Natasha Johnson – and all the other trainees has been phenomenal. And to write, well I can’t explain that feeling; to write makes me so happy. Having tucked one article under my belt for The Celebrants Magazine and now writing this article for this project with Colin Usher I am so pleased to be able to show and tell our story to others and prove that you can turn your life around.
For us, our renewed motivation and inspiration for the farm, my business and our family life has been building stronger each day, with a more positive determination to do what we want to do and to move forward with options. There is always an option.
Finally the world is waving back at us and we feel stronger to fight on.
Visit Zoe’s website