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Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Looking back, looking forward, looking inward, looking outward

Today I am 32. Tomorrow I will be 33. Pretty old, pretty young, depending on your perspective. Or maybe just right, for me, right now.

It has been quite a year. 

1. I quit my job
Some say change is stressful, I say it is energising, important, refreshing. Quitting my job was hard. It wasn’t a boring, draining, rat-race type office job.  It was an uplifting, challenging experience that taught me so much and I loved it. I had five amazing years at UNICEF, the world’s biggest organisation working for children and children’s rights.It took me to the edges of humanity, introducing me to amazing people shining brightly in the darkest of situations. I travelled the world, venturing far beyond the urban jungle out into the places where life happens for so many.

Photo: Francois d'Elbee

I met children with bare feet, guns, no parents, ambition, hope
I met world leaders, religious leaders, and gang leaders
I travelled with sports stars, famous actors and cabinet ministers
I dined with a prince, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner

I learnt how to shoot a camera,
how to shoot a handmade football,
how to shoot a bow and arrow,
how to shoot an AK47*
*obviously not at people or animals

Photo credit: Francois d'Elbee

We shared childhood games
We shared long bumpy car rides
We shared untold secrets
And we shared our stories

Photo: Francois d'Elbee

I saw pain, beauty, courage, love
I questioned and I listened
I changed and I grew
It will stay with me always

2. I started my own company
Shortly after my last birthday, I finally recognised that although I loved my job, it ate all my time and there were other things I wanted to do. I took the plunge to start my own company and set off in a new direction. It has been a fantastic roller coaster full of unknowns, challenges and new experiences. I love this delicious freedom.

3. I moved house

Enjoying a cup of tea in my new studio in (quite often rainy) Yorkshire

4. I learnt to surf… (well kind of)
(no chance you are getting a picture of that!!!)

5. I watched a moon rise in the Sahara Desert, and welcomed in the new year from the top of a giant sand dune with my man

photo by me, dunes by some mysterious natural phenomena

6. I became an auntie for the third time, and experienced the magic of meeting her the day she was born

Photo: Chris Nicholls

Photo: Chris Nicholls

7. I bumped into my old friend ‘me the artist’ at a mountain retreat in California, and we have been hanging out a lot together ever since

...and much more besides.  I loved it all, and I have a feeling there is a big year ahead. Join me on the journey!

Photo: Francois d'Elbee

When you are in your 30s you are old enough to know better,
but young enough to do it anyway
Bridgette Bardot


  1. Happy birthday Beth. What an amazing story to you have to share. I'm so glad that we met at An Artful Journey and that you started your blog. I hope we get to paint again side by side some other day.

  2. I just read the horoscope you left over at Louise's blog. I'm a taurean too (18th May). Those words resonated so strongly for me given that I've also just left a job at the end of April.

    I meant to say in my last comment that the photos in this post are beautiful. I love the last one of you skipping/dancing.

  3. Ditto, LOVE these photos and LOVE this post Beth.... oh how i wish we were all close by to do this in person, but I feel our sisterhood even so far away! Us Taureans eh! Who says we are stubborn and steadfast! Such amazing times ahead. Beth you are amazing honey - and you too Tinniegirl, im popping over to see you now (wish that was the pacific ocean i was popping over!...soon). xx

  4. Wow! This was an awesome post Beth. Happy birthday to you. These pictures are beautiful. And what a great experience you shared here about your work with unicef and all of your adventures. You continue to surprise me as we get to know you here and it is such a great thing!

    Enjoy your day/year and enjoy 33. I think there is no doubt that great things are in store for you.


  5. what a wonderful reflection, Beth! wishing you a happy happy birthday!

  6. A very Happy Birthday to you! What a year you have had. I envy you your adventures and all you have seen. Thank You for sharing your photos. I also discovered "me the artist" at An Artful Journey. I am just struggle a bit to hang on to her. I hope your next year brings you many more wonderful journeys!

  7. Happy Birthday to you my sweet friend. Your journey has been a beautiful one with so much adventure so far...can't wait to see what goodies 33 brings...

    Thank-you for sharing such a beautiful and heartful post.

    I'll be drinking a glass of red vino in your name tonight! Muah! xox

  8. Happy Birthday. What an incredible year. You are so brave and inspiring. It is so wonderful to find someone else who is following their heart. Thank you for sharing your story. happy creating for this coming year!

    xoxo, juliette

  9. Happiest of birthdays Beth! We met during your time with the UNICEF & Manchester United partnership and I loved hearing of all your adventures back then, so this post is not only extraordinarily beautiful, but also very nostalgic to read. And how time flies! But on that note, I don't think it'll be long before Bridgette Bardot is quoting you! ;-) Here's to another fabulous year of you continuing to spread your magic across this planet. Have a truly spectacular birthday. Kathy xx

  10. happy birthday, Beth! i hope 33 brings even more amazing experiences for you!

  11. As always, utterly and randomly AWEsome Beth. I'm taking a bit of a leaf out of your life book and ditching China this year. It's time...following my need to study again. Not sure where, could be from my laptop in a hot country or at Oslo University...quite でたらめなのええ?

    What's your new business? And Yorkshire! Oooh aye lass yer finally living in the reeeet part of t'country! Chuck me a mail on to let me know about your biz.

    Well done Beth, you've grabbed life by the cojones it never knew it had.

  12. Have a very very Happy Birthday Beth! I had no idea that you had done all those things but I am not surprised because there was a deep pool of grace behind your eyes that I knew life had taught you and brought to you somewhere. I really believe you are one of the most naturally beautiful girls that i have ever met and feel very blessed to have done so.
    YOur photographs were astounding!

  13. That is great Beth. Keep writing and sharing.

  14. Oh, I am so happy we've found each other. What a YEAR. What an inspiration you are. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! May this year be filled with adventure and wonder and delight.

  15. what an amazing year, journey, life - happy birthday, beth~ am happy to have found my way over here to your lovely blog. warmly, s

  16. Happy Birthday Auntie Beth..when I am big I want to be just like you! Till then I just want to play with you and listen to your cool stories...My Daddy wants proof of you learning to shoot a football and if it involved 'helicopter arms'???

  17. Wow, thank you all so much for these lovely comments and thoughts. I look forward to sharing all the adventures with you in the coming year, some here on the blog and some in person I hope! Big hug to all of you

  18. Beth....i missed your birthday.
    i have to say that this is one of the best birthday posts i have ever read hands down!
    your photos are BEAUTIFUL. i only DREAM of doing what you have done in your short years.
    you are so wise.
    and so experiences.
    i love you and love watching this grow and journey you are on.
    the photo of us all made me smile.
    i wish i was standing next to you seeing "art" in the simplicity of how you keep a journal...your writing, your book, your hands.
    thank you for your friendship.
    i am so grateful our paths crossed and are now CONNECTED!
    huge hugs.

    (im on my way to listen to the interview you did recently)

  19. Happy Birthday Beth! Missed it on the day, but I totally hope you're celebrating for at least a week. Chocolate cake must be in order! Loved the reflections and the pics - it's so o o good to be inspired by your progress and brave choices this last year. Hip hip hooray!

  20. wow. what a fantastic year of change you have had!


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