It was October 2014 and I’d had enough.
I was single, stressed and miserable – stuck doing work I didn’t love because I needed the money and didn’t have the courage to change. I had dreams – to write a book, to fall in love, to move to the seaside – but I didn’t know how to make them happen.
I was 43. My life really wasn’t supposed to look like this.
A few weeks earlier, I’d taken my first ever anti-depressant, only to stop taking the pills a few days later. My mood had spiralled downwards following a number of injuries that had stopped me from exercising and had got worse because I’d failed to rest.
The bigger picture, though, was that I felt lost and lonely, bemused by my age and stage and by how things had turned out.
One Friday morning, I sat at my desk in my North London flat and stared out the window. The sky was a glorious blue.
“I need to get out of here,” I thought.
And instead of just thinking it, I took action.
A work meeting had been cancelled at the last minute. I had plenty of other work to be getting on with, but my heart was yearning for space, nature and the sea.
I quickly packed a bag with a sarong, a travel towel, my Kindle and some snacks, googled how to get to Camber Sands on the Sussex coast and raced off to St Pancras Station.
I’ll never forget how I felt as I walked through the turnstile and onto the platform – like a child who’d been given license to play; like a rebellious teenager who was escaping from school; or like a 40-something woman who’d suddenly realised she could choose fun and freedom over a punishing schedule.
I got to the train station at Rye and jumped in a taxi. Within minutes, I was walking barefoot on the sand, making my way to a quiet spot in the sand dunes, where I lay down my sarong and proceeded to spend hour after glorious hour, soaking up the autumn sun and losing myself in a really good book.
“You know how to make yourself happy, Katherine,” I said to myself over and over again.
Later, I left my little haven among the dunes and headed down to the sea. I wanted to swim but there was nobody else in the water. Other people on the beach were fully dressed. I felt silly going in.
But then I spotted two ladies stripping down to their underwear and rushing into the sea, shrieking with delight
“They know how to make themselves happy,” I thought.
Seconds later, I followed them in, splashed around a bit and then lay on my back looking up at the sky. I felt absolutely delighted. I had made myself happy, even just for a day.
That evening, as I emptied sand out of my shoes and rinsed my swimming costume, I felt like I’d made a breakthrough. I’d chosen to prioritise my wellbeing and give myself some extreme self-care. I had turned things around.
As I wrote on my own blog at the time: “I felt myself again, happy, confident, hopeful, trusting. And immensely capable of making amazing decisions.”
Three years on from that milestone day, I’m living by the sea, I’ve written a book and I’m in love, engaged to be married. I believe the process that got me to where I am today began on that October morning when I decided to do something to make myself happy rather than continue down a path that was making me miserable.
Remarkably, I’m also now offering that gift to others, running retreats for single women who might be stressed with work, looking for love and in need of a seaside escape from their everyday lives. To join us this November, click here.
I believe miracles happen when we find the courage to take a different course, to follow our heart.
I hope you share my view, because just as I know how to make myself happy, you know how to make yourself happy too.