I woke up on January 1st, 2023 with my head swirling. Not because of a self-inflicted hangover due to the slap & tickle effect of tequila, but because I’ve been sitting on feelings for a while. I kept asking myself, ‘why do I keep sitting on this?’ I was enjoying another strong cuppa this morning and again still asking myself why has this been so hard to share.
Like many, January 1st always brings this expectation of a New Start to be perfect or set out with such high expectations that by the end of week one you fall flat. I stopped committing to such nonsense decades ago. I vividly remember as a kid during the holiday setting out the New Year as I’m going to do so much better in school and be so organised. Again, by the end of week one back in school I either skipped class, faked an illness and found myself just back in the studio dancing and closing out everything else. Personally, I have had it up to my eyeballs with expectations. I feel I have always given my 1000% as a professional, a friend, a wife and now a Mom. Perhaps I haven’t always been the kindest to myself but I have always given my best to others.
I found my “New Year” happening well before the ball dropped for the start of 2023. This early new year wasn’t filled with expectations and agenda. It was simply filled with assurance and love. Nothing beyond that and I needed that.
I hit a pretty significant low point early in 2022 when I had to hand the keys in for the Define London property. It has been quite the battle but I really don’t want to get into details as I hit burnout on it. What I will say is that the day I finally launched the Bizzimumzi podcast was the actual day they slapped a “For Let” sign on the front window of Define London ( April 27th, 2022). I remind myself daily of my broad shoulders, and on this particular day I reminded myself several times. I remember calling Rikki, as he was in Uganda, and asked if I was allowed to scrape the sign off the window. I had a cry, he talked me back to reality and I called and arranged for things to be moved out of the studio.
A week later I worked in 82 Great Portland Street not to help clients move and groove to fab tunes while sculpting their bodies. That day I found myself with the trash company breaking down and demolishing furniture, gym equipment and paperwork. It was guttural. What were once so many familiar faces with crop tops, Sweaty Betty leggings and excitement for Mat, Glide or Barre Balance was now a space with me and two disgruntled middle aged men that kept asking me “Trash it?” in their finest british flair. It stung. My ego started to take a beating many years prior to this so the left, right and upper cut punches weren’t fully going to knock me out, just a little further down in the dumps than expected. I remind myself again, I have broad shoulders. Rikki told me many times prior to this day that the walls of Define London did not in fact ‘Define Me’. At that moment, even though I was down and it all hurt, I knew I could get myself back up eventually and believe his words.
Like many in the fitness industry, I had already shifted my business to virtual and it was running smoothly. What was pretty awesome on top of it was that I was also able to establish Define classes within another established fitness gym in London, Digme Fitness. Honestly, the stars aligned on this and it was and has been a great silver lining to a pretty shitty exit out of its original bricks and mortar. If you want a fab barre class, head to Digme to train with my incredible Define London team. Go on, book that class;)
So where does early ‘New Year’ come into play?
I found my spark of a ‘New Year’ on my second trip to Uganda in June of 2022. A trip that was meant to be two weeks turned into five weeks. I taught all my virtual personal training clients from Uganda. Adiya was going to a summer camp and waking up in the morning was 10 times more enjoyable as we were all together as a family. I had time during this trip to actually sit and analyse what was serving me. What made me happy? What made me tick? What was giving me purpose? The question of purpose was something I don’t think I ever really asked myself. From a very young age I simply knew I would be a Broadway performer, tick! Then I would be a fitness instructor and open a fitness business, tick!Then I would become a wife, tick! Then I would become a Mom… aha, PURPOSE. Now, I don’t want to discredit anything prior to becoming a Mom but this hit me differently then anything before. The moments in life like losing a property for your business, being screwed over by friends, being let down by an employee here and there all seem to roll off without any sort of left over burnt taste. It’s true, becoming a mom, becoming a parent, becoming a guardian changes you. Honestly, this is the special sauce that has created fire, magic and purpose deep in my belly that I never experienced before.
My ‘New Year’ officially began on October 12th, 2022. A moving van, a storage unit and the ultimate swift kick in the ass to acknowledge,
I actually do got this!
We have officially moved to Uganda. There you have it. Why was it hard to share? Maybe I wanted to hold it close to me because it was mine and I didn’t want anyone to try and destroy it. My #1 main attachment, meaning, purpose in life is my family. My unapologetic magical family, my tiny little circle of me, Rikki, Adiya and Lord Baxter… Yes, Lord Baxter is living his best life in Uganda.
I have spoken very openly about being an Un-Single/Single Mom with lots of laughter on the Bizzimumzi podcast but the reality was there was a lot more sadness behind the laughter and a lot more rock bottom that I was hiding all while trying to make all engines run on my own. I was privileged to have child care three times a week where I did in fact lock myself in a room and nose to the grind, work. I felt isolated and unsupported. At times I felt suffocated and many times I resented my husband because he was in Uganda and not a present father.
On that glimpse of a ‘New Year’ in June, during an early morning coffee, Rikki and I spoke about our relationship and our family in great length. What we love doing, why we love working and what really made us, TICK! We agreed that We made each other Tick and that making the move would be the best thing for everyone. We would be able to support each other to our best abilities and also give Adiya a full-time, fully supported Mom & Dad.
Is it a forever move? I seriously doubt it as we both miss Amazon Prime, Dominos, Deliveroo, real cheese and the bottomless potholes on the streets can really knock you. Overall, it has been the best decision and outcome of 2022 that has brought real love, protection, strength and has already made day #3 of 2023 way better than I ever imagined.
I must confess the constant doubt is there and most likely will become more heightened as she develops. The stakes are high as new parents, one can only hope to set the best positive example as they grow.
Such a beautiful post!! Thank you for sharing Ashley. I have to admit the first time I saw the to let sign, I felt so so sad as those bricks and mortar represented so much happiness and support to me but knowing Define lives on and you are so happy and all thriving in Uganda kicks that to let sign’s ass!! 🙌🏻😘
Thanks so much for reading and being such a great support. xx
Good luck Ashley! I know you made me love ‘Define’ and pretty much saved me during an otherwise miserable lockdown. Wish you and the family all the best in this new adventure 😊 xx
Happy 2023 Sil! I miss seeing your face daily for Define London sessions. I’m working to see if I can make that happen again from sunny Uganda. Lots of hugs and love. Thanks for following the journey. xx
Karibu in East Africa!! I don’t know Uganda well but if you need adjustment tips, “hey do you know anyone who” etc, hit me up! I live in Bujumbura with my husband and our 3 month old, if you’re ever down that way, or want to be 🙂
Hope all is fab in Karibu! Happy 2023 and thanks for following Bizzimumzi.