How a bad day at work changed my life:
There I was, a month before my 30th birthday (2005) in a job I no longer had any passion for at all – Retail Merchandising. I just didn’t care if our top store ran out of Dior’s “new must have” lipstick in one day, and that we couldn’t get more stock for another week.
I would be working at my desk, before one of my flatmates had even gotten out of bed. She was lucky to work flex time and most days didn’t start until 9:30 am, whereas I was at my desk by 7:00 am each morning. I would work until literally being kicked out of the building by security guards at 8:00 pm – which I was glad about, or else my boss would have had us working even later. I would then travel across London, usually grabbing a take-away, or simply have a liquid dinner (a few drinks) with friends. In the winter time, I wouldn’t see daylight until the weekend – as it was frowned upon to leave for lunch, so I ate at my desk.
One afternoon in early August, my boss called me in for a meeting to say I wasn’t performing well, and she would have to give me a disciplinary warning. It was just to much, so I told her I would resign instead.
When I got home from work that evening, one of my flatmates came home with take-out and the other with wine. As I sat rocking in the corner of our living room, I realized I had just quit my career. I was turning 30 in a month and did not have a job lined up. WHAT HAD I DONE??????
Turns out, it was the best thing I had ever done!
As I still had four weeks notice to work through, I decided to only work from 9- 5, and it was liberating to say the least. During that time I googled ‘temporary jobs’ with the idea that I would temp for a bit and find a new field I was interested in. My search turned up a website for seasonal workers, so I clicked it. Now, I had never been skiing or sailing, or done a year of traveling etc, so I didn’t know that half the jobs advertised even existed. Roles in a ski resort caught my eye!
I then remembered a conversation with a woman I worked with, whose sister worked the ski seasons in France and Canada. So I dropped her a line, and asked if she could hook me up with her sister to ask a few questions. After an hour long phone conversation with her sister about the role of chalet host, I called the company she had worked for in France and to my surprise they invited me for an interview. It was a good interview, and towards the end, much to the surprise of the woman who ran the interview, I asked if it was possible for beginners to take lessons as I had never skied before. Thankfully I would be able to take them at the resort. So, I went shopping with my new friend to kit me out with ski gear – as I had no clue what I needed.
It was nice to be able to tell everyone, over drinks that I was going off to work as a chalet host for the ski season. I left my career behind at the end of August. I worked a few temp jobs for the next few months, and then left London on a coach bound for the French Alps on December 1st 2005. I have neither looked back nor regretted my decision since.
I had a great season, met some amazing people, learned to ski and take on any run in the 3 Valleys Ski area. I discovered that I loved the lifestyle of a seasonaire. No longer was I caught up with having the latest fashions or gadgets, I was just living life day to day and chilling out after work with friends. During my second week, I realized one of my guests worked in tourism – but we didn’t get the chance to chat about it much. On his last evening he gave me his business card and said I should call him if I wanted a summer job. Turns out he was a Managing Director at Sunsail – a holiday yacht flotilla company. Once again a world I knew nothing about, however some of the people I worked with did, so I picked their brains.
As the season progressed I realized I didn’t want to go back to London, back to the rat race of my old lifestyle, so I emailed him to ask about summer opportunities. The company called me to conduct a Skype interview, and offered me a place on the crew of a flotilla in Croatia for the summer. I had only ever been on a small yacht and then only for a couple of hours, but it was only for 7 months so I decided to give it a go.
Five days after returning home from my ski season I headed to the airport to board my flight to Croatia. When I arrived, we were still missing an engineer for the base I was to be based out of. I originally went to fulfill the role of a ‘Hostie’ – which meant I would be responsible for organizing group dinners and entertainment for guests. Having had some practical knowledge I instead swapped it for the role of engineer! It was my responsibility to look after guest yachts and deal with everything from changing a light bulb to engine failure. Fortunately, the fleet was new so there weren’t many major problems to be dealt with. During that summer I learned to sail, again met some amazing people, and enjoyed life sailing from Dubrovnik to Hvar and back every two weeks. The following winter (2006-2007) I returned to the Alps for a second ski season, and that summer I changed sailing companies and headed to Greece to work on a flotilla. In Greece I was taught how to repair sails, which would be my job for the season.
The winter of 2007-2008 I was back in the UK, but before heading to Greece for the summer, I became a qualified RYA Keelboat instructor and spent some time teaching guests how to sail. During summer of 2008, I met someone, who was being offered his dream job – teaching kite surfing in Aruba. We wanted to be together, so I decided to go with him.
At the beginning of January 2009 we headed to Aruba. Fortunately a few weeks after we arrived I found a job on the beach – at a waterspout company. I booked tube rides, wave runners, scuba diving and took guests out for sailing sessions on “Hobie” catamarans. I finally took the opportunity to try scuba diving. I had always wanted to, but I thought it was far to expensive.
On my first dive I fell in love, I had finally found it – diving was what I wanted to do. It was truly amazing!
The relationship I had with my boyfriend began to break down, he was drinking more and became violent. So as the new year dawned onto 2010, I decided I wanted my life to change and I broke up with him. I also decided I wanted to become a PADI Instructor. A new instructor from the UK that joined us, told me about an internship he had done in Ireland to become a qualified instructor. The internship would start in March and run through the summer, but here we were already at the end of January, so he said he would recommend me for it.
I contacted Waterworld, in County Kerry and they still had room to join that year’s program. So yet again I packed my bags and headed back to the UK, with the vision of getting qualified as an instructor and then returning to Aruba. I spent 6 months completing the internship program and qualified as PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor on October 31st, 2010.
Since I had been away from friends and family for a long time I would stay in the UK for a bit. I got a job with a UK dive center, and on December 2nd 2010, I began a new chapter in my life as a PADI Instructor.
But the travel bug was still in me. Two years later in December of 2012, I packed my bags, and boarded a plane heading to Sharm El Sheik, Egypt. I would take up the role of a Dive Operations Manager for a diving live- aboard company there. I only lasted 10 months in Egypt. I found it hard being a single female there, and I wasn’t finding the job satisfying enough.
I used my contacts in the diving industry to search for a new job, and in December 2013 I boarded a plane for Cebu, Philippines, to begin life as an Operations Manager for a diving live-aboard company. I had never been to SE Asia and had no idea what to expect – thank goodness for Google research! With the help of my office assistant I found an apartment and settled into life on Cebu. I stayed with that company for 2 years, before deciding I missed working the front line of tourism. I wanted to leave the office scene and get back into a more guest focused environment.
In January 2016 I began work at a diving resort on the neighboring island of Bohol. I took a temporary 3 month contract as the “Dive Center Manager” to cover a maternity leave. The resort owner/management asked me to stay on and move into the role of “Assistant Resort Manager”, which I agreed to. This was such a beautiful part of the world, white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and cheap living expenses. As I grew in my role I began to do some overseas marketing trips to Australia. It was during one of these trips in early 2018, that I met someone.
As you may have gathered by my story, I am someone who leaps at opportunities. I figure you can always leave, if it doesn’t work out. So when this guy said he wanted us to be together after only 3 dates (I felt the same way), I decided to go for it. I returned from my trip, handed in my resignation and booked a flight back to Perth.
I arrived in Perth on March 23rd 2018, and we immediately began living together. On June 13th, while on a trip to the UK together he asked me to marry him, and on August 31st, 2018 we were married.
If it hadn’t been because of a “really bad day “at work I wouldn’t have worked in France, Croatia, Greece, Ireland, Egypt and the Philippines. Which means I would not have traveled to Australia and met the love of my life.
Resigning that day …. is the best decision I have ever made!
Member Spotlight highlights stories of inspiring women from our She Hit Refresh group. We hope that by sharing their stories of change and travel we can expose the unconventional paths that thousands of women 30 years and older have chosen. There is no one way to live a life, just your way.