Christmas has always been a fun time of the year, but I would have always said: “Start thinking and celebrating Christmas on the 18th and not before!” Bar humbug!
This Christmas is the 6th Christmas since I separated from my now ex-wife and well over 6 years since I have lived full time with my wonderful Children. Divorce is a very strange thing. It is an unusual badge of failure! Every time you fill in a formal form, you have to tick a box declaring you are a divorcee – why is that? What relevance does it really have on anything? I cannot think of many things where you are often reminded, and you regularly have to declare that you have failed. However complicated or not a relationship has been, no one goes into marriage expecting to fail by ending in divorce. You never know, maybe one day I will be able to tick a different box again.
There have been many highs in the last 6 years, so many great experiences. Travelling to places like New Zealand, Brazil, China, Australia, USA & Thailand, so many great and new friendships, meaningful relationships, success in business, completing 3 Ironman triathlons, and maybe most importantly watching my two, remarkably wonderful, daughters, Emily and Noami grow 6 years older and see first hand their personalities develop, watching them blossom and start discovering themselves.
I could never describe these 6 years as a happy time, in fact, there was a strong undercurrent of unhappiness running through this period of my life, a version of me existed that I am not particularly proud of, not necessarily bad, but too self-centered. My Christian faith, (which I never fully turned my back on) became far too secondary in my life, God was an afterthought, not a forethought! I was too harsh with people that were close to me and my agenda was the only agenda that really mattered! I was far too quick to be prickly and had a tendency not to see the best in people – maybe it would be fair to say I became a bit of a grumpy old man!
During this time I turned forty and as I am naturally optimistic, realised I might only have 40 years of productive life left, so no time to waste! Was everything I was doing living out of purpose? Or was I more interested in what other people thought, trying to impress people I didn’t even really like? Maybe even living for their purpose? Was I living to buy the next sports car or designer outfit, was owning 30 pairs of expensive footwear enough? Did I really need more?
My genuine New Years Resolution, coming into 2018 was to get myself to a significantly happier place and the manifestation of this would be that I become happy enough to buy a Christmas tree! I had not had a Christmas tree for the previous six years, which looking back, reflected my state of mind. In many respects, I was burying my head in the sand and trying to ignore my own unhappiness. I had spent the last 18 months living in a house I bought and I did not even like it! I never even unpacked. A small number of friends did visit that house, but not a single dinner party was had! So a New Years Resolution of buying a Christmas tree was apt.
2018 has been a year of walking away and drawing closer, of letting go and holding on tight, on giving up and being more determined and a year of giving away and starting over.
I am now no longer the CEO, co-founder or shareholder of a successful media business and I no longer live in a house I own, but on the 1st of December 2018 (not the 18th), I put up the most beautiful 7 foot real Christmas tree in my new house. A house that must have seen over 100 different guests in the last 8 months – most of them to eat food.
There has never been a time in my life I have been happier and more grateful for the people in it! Having the best relationship with my creator and taking the time to stop and enjoy the moment, rather than constantly thinking about what’s next.
I may well have had more money in the bank when I graduated art college in 1995 than I do now and I certainly have had periods in my life when I have earned more in a month than I currently make in a year. A set of tyers for my Porsche 911, of a few years ago, used to cost me more than it cost to buy outright the 13-year-old hatchback that I currently drive. The world has its own measure for success and I have definitely dropped from the Championship to Division 2, but the truth is, I would not swop all the gold in the world’s mines for the gold I have in my life right now (I still have the desire one day to play in the Champions League – just no longer at any cost!).
2019 promises to be an exciting year – a year full of untapped opportunities and untold potential, a year of seeking first, and a year to start every day with a heart overflowing with gratitude.
My tree is my proof that 2018 has been the best year yet, but I am sure 2019 will be even better!