When you walk through a storm…

Well hi there, its been a while hasn’t it!  What a great line from the best song – You’ll never walk alone.  Not only have I sung that to death for my beloved Reds, but its words have certainly rung true recently!

To be honest I haven’t felt like writing as its been a trying few months in many ways, but now things are starting to clear up a bit and I can see the fog lifting I thought it’s time I updated you all. 

Lets rewind to January. Usually a pretty boring and dull month – not this year. 

I’d started January exhausted.  What with commuting 5 days a week into the City, working weekends at the cafe and running and cleaning a holiday let, I was burning the candle at every end.  Something had to snap, and I had a feeling it was going to be a strange few months – call it just a vibe. Anyway it certainly did shake my world… 

Firstly one of my closest friends was diagnosed with Breast cancer. They say 1 in 2 people you know will now get it, but still you never think it will be your friends – the people you laugh with and care for so much. Needless to say it rocked me to the core. But from the start she was incredibly positive and I knew it would be ok somehow. Don’t ask me how, but I just knew.

Sure enough after a tense and difficult few months all the ops and treatment she has the all clear. The relief was immeasurable. The happiest text I’d got all year. 

It did put everything into perspective really quickly.   I realised fairly early in the year (15 days in) something had to give but what do I give up?  All the things I did in life were as important for many reasons, I spent hours trying to juggle them all. I genuinely didn’t expect the ball that dropped to be my full time job! I’ve never been told things weren’t working out in my professional life, I’ve always been extremely happy and stable in my career, but I guess I knew this one was a risk – one I thought was worth taking.  How wrong you can be. But I have to agree it wasn’t working and it was uncomfortable for everyone involved, so off I went…

However as you can imagine the 2 businesses were relying slightly on that income – especially the holiday let. The Insurance Industry that has served me so well for 22 years (I know, I don’t look old enough hey) is in a cycle of uncertainty at the moment and there are several equally wonderful people in my area also out of work. So with a heavy heart I have had to sell the holiday let. Now for those of you who have followed me or know me that REALLY HURT. Not only am I reeling from my safety blanket being pulled away, I now have to sell my pride and joy. But like a plaster the quicker you remove it, the better, so it’s gone. The bills are all paid and I have a nest egg now to see me through the future months. 

Just when I thought it couldn’t get much worse we then had to make some changes at the cafe. It doesn’t do any harm to regularly review your businesses and I have never been too proud to admit when things aren’t working or need tweaking. We realised we just needed to be there ourselves. The cafe industry is a bloody tough one, and you really need to pour your all into it. And I mean your all. So we did. 6 days a week, just the two of us with little rest, we have given it everything. That place was and is my sanity.  It reminded me how life can be so much simpler, and it has totally helped me press my reset life button.  It really is the most fun and totally worth it to see the results in such a short space of time. I couldn’t be prouder of Toast. It’s a gorgeous business with a real community feel and heart – even I would be a regular customer there. 

Now we have seen what works, what doesn’t quite as well and what we need to do to drive it forward we enter phase 2 so to speak – longevity. Along with a little revamp to really give the people what they want and to show off our best ideas, we are also hoping to expand the private catering and potentially some private dining in cafe. We just need to get our license completed (Council bureaucracy at it’s finest there) and we will be ready to up our game! 

Happy ever after?  Well not quite.  As much as I love Toast it is not going to pay my bills each month. Unfortunately Insurance is not the easiest place to get another job right now so I needed to think a little differently.  After going to several local networking events (including our own Toast Connects evening) the cogs started to turn and I am beginning to see a plan evolving!  After all I always remember someone once saying to me “make your true passion your job and the rest takes care of itself”.  

For 22 years I have worked in an Industry where the people constantly evolve and grow.  I love watching people have the confidence to really shine in the areas they are best at – and I am a huge fan of encouraging their development from their everyday lives and careers right up to running their own teams or businesses.

So hopefully I can expand on that in a way that I can see a career change!  I’m sure over the next few weeks my plans can turn into reality, I know what I am aiming for now and I can really see a little glimmer of light….

So watch this space – you’ll never keep me down for long…..

Speak soon

Al x

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