Life is a journey not a destination

Reflecting on your past life, key milestones, mistakes made, and lessons learned can be very therapeutic!

Join me as I reflect on what I have learned through each decade, maybe it will help you!

As I approach the tender age of 60 this month (how did that happen?) I ask myself:

Am I “older and wiser” or simply just “older”?

After all, I still have not decided what I am going to be when I grow up! 

Do we learn from our past experiences and mistakes, or just keep repeating them?

I thought I’d take a look back at my life by decade and highlight the key events that impacted that decade for me, the big mistakes I made, and the key reflections and lessons learned!

Decade 0-10

My Key Events: Born in the UK and moved to live in Ireland at the age of four, a middle child in a family of five children. 

My father owned a bar in Ireland, which I recall was not much of a family life as we lived in the house alongside it, and I think this took its toll on my mum with five young children.

Coming home from school treat was sitting on a barstool watching my Mum or Dad pulling pints of Guinness for the old Irish men, while I drank my coke and ate my packet of crisps! We had a piano in the lounge area, which usually meant a lively Singsong was going on at night, usually when we were trying to get the baby to sleep, as Mum and Dad worked in the bar!

We moved back to England when I was 9, and I remember having to re-learn how to speak the queen’s English as some words simply did not translate from Irish!

My Big Mistakes – Probably many! But I can’t recall any!

My Key Reflections – My older sister forgetting to collect me to take me home on my first day at school! I was left sitting in the empty playground alone! – Obviously, left some deep psychological scars for life – Thanks Sis!! 😊

Running away from home when I was five, I was taken in by a lovely old couple, who put me to work peeling mushrooms, (I still love mushrooms to this day!) We later discovered my dad had called the police out to find me, while I was happily eating mushrooms! Boy, was he angry! 

I also recall being given a ring by a boy from the first avenue, where all the kids would play. He turned up at my door with an entourage of his mates and offered me the ring as if he was proposing marriage.  I was probably seven! I refused the ring and slammed the door in his face! Maybe, I reflect, a start of things to come, as I am still Single! 😊

Decade 11-20

My Key Events: Passed all my exams with good grades, however, the commitment to my education started to go downhill when I met my first true Love and regularly skipped school to meet him! 

 The hormones were raging, and the passion was strong! I recall my German teacher asking me during class registration – “Pamela, do you mind not taking Fridays and Mondays off with such regularity?”

Sadly, my mother was ill for most of my childhood and died when I was 12. Thereafter, childhood involved shopping after school, cooking for my father and five brothers and sisters, and locking my younger brother in the front room with a hoover to get the cleaning done!

I went to university at 18 to study Economics and German and left early. 

My reason for leaving. “Love!”

My Big Mistakes: My first big mistake in life, allowing my emotions to overpower my sense!

Key Reflections: I was sensitive and emotional and seemingly made most of my decisions based on whatever the strongest emotion was at the time! Clearly, lacking in any parental guidance to steer me in a sensible direction.

Decade 21-30

My Key Events: Still passionately in Love, I got engaged on my 21st birthday! 

Six months later, I left him to work in Switzerland, where I met my next true love! 

My twenties were about discovering travel and the world, as I started working in the travel industry. I moved countries every 6 to 12 months during this decade, including Greece, Morocco, Tunisia, Russia, Switzerland, France, Austria, Italy, Florida, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean. I worked hard and played hard and found true love in most countries, a Ski Instructor in Switzerland, a beach bum in Greece, a hotelier in Austria, a sailor in the Indian Ocean! I progressed upward in my career as I traveled but had lots of fun on the way! 

My 30th birthday was celebrated on the grounds of the Sheraton Hotel in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, where I lived and enjoyed all the islands had to offer!

My father remarried, but I did not get an invite to the wedding as they were not sure where I was, and I had forgotten to phone home to tell them!

My Big Mistakes: Maybe not having any real goal, not planning, living too much in the moment and wearing too much pink!

My Key Reflections: I was enjoying life and was lucky to travel around the world, but I was lacking direction – I went wherever the next plane took me!

Decade 31-40

My Key Events: My father dies of cancer! I continue to work and travel around the world, I meet my next true love in Italy and live there for the next 10 years! 

My work was 24/7 as my responsibilities grew, so it was less fun and more hard work! 

As Area Manager, I managed major incidents like the evacuation of tourists impacted by hurricanes in the Caribbean, planning how to move hundreds of tourists impacted by landslides in Italy and managing operations involving tens of thousands of tourists and hundreds of staff. The stress and pressure were often high. 

However, I eventually settled down in Italy, where I lived for ten years. This was the first time I felt I had a home and a semi-normal life. I learned how to cook, loved living in Italy and enjoyed my newfound Italian relationship.

The relationship, however, was like living on a roller coaster with its highs and lows. I soon realized that true love with a southern Italian man with different life values to me was not going to be the happy romantic story end I had hoped for, and that life was not black and white!

My Big Mistakes: Allowing the pressures of work to overcome me and again making decisions on emotions rather than sense!

My Key Reflections: Listen to my intuition, as it is very strong and usually correct. However, my emotions are stronger and very powerful, which means my heart sometimes rules over my head! Accept it; it is who I am!

Decade 41-50

My Key Events: Eat, Pray, Love.  Julia stole my story! 

My relationship ends, my heart is broken for the first time in my life, I leave my job, experience health scares, a close friend’s suicide, go in search of the meaning of life, discover yoga, travel to India and all while going through the menopause!

Looking back now, I wonder if I can blame it all on the hormones???

 I left a great job and the company I had worked with for twenty years, a ten-year relationship and the only home I had made in Italy to return to England with no home and no work! 

I broke up the relationship for good reasons and then cried about it for the next 2 years! I was an emotional mess!

I turned again to travel to find myself. My savior was a month on an Ashram, where we got up at 5 am, practiced yoga and meditation twice daily, sang Satsang, went to lectures, engaged in karma yoga (which means cheap labor cleaning toilets), and I trained to become a yoga teacher! 

I eventually found myself again and decided I needed to jump back into real life!

I needed a job and money! So, I again started working in travel, but this time-based in the UK, and I enjoyed re-establishing my roots and setting up a new home.

My Big Mistakes: Too many to mention!

My Key Reflections: No woman should be allowed to make any decisions while going through menopause!

Decade 51-60

My Key Events: Career Progression followed by redundancy, financial stability followed by instability, stable world, followed by a global pandemic, building a home then losing it and having to start all over again!

It is no wonder I feel tired!

My fifth decade has not been the usual let’s prepare for retirement and put my feet up decade! I lost all the stability I had built when redundancy came, followed by Covid-19. 

However, there is hope and light at the end of this most recent tunnel.

I have learned a lot, made new friends, found a new home, started teaching yoga again and built a new business in my fifties. For the first time in my life, I had time, no money, but time and enough resilience to see me through! 

And you can do a lot with time and resilience!

My Big Mistakes: Thinking that I finally had it all sorted!

My Key Reflections: You never know what is around the corner. Make the most of it and appreciate TODAY! Whatever does not kill you, usually makes you stronger! 😊

My final reflection is:

 Life is a journey, it is not a destination, so try to enjoy the journey with all its twists and turns!

 You will experience a lot of challenges and some of these will knock you down! Have faith in your own strength and resilience, have faith in your own potential, have faith that life has a lot to offer for those with hope and that the sun will always rise the following day. Embrace each day as a new opportunity to live and learn and whenever you can, Love and Laugh!

Pamela O'Donnell
Professional Certified Leadership and Wellbeing Coach
Pamela is English, however she has been extremely fortunate to have lived and worked around the globe during her career in the Travel Industry. This included working and living in Italy, France, Switzerland, Greece, Russia, North Africa, the Far East, North America, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean. Her wide travel experience has allowed her to develop a global awareness of different cultures and perspectives. She can speak Italian, French and German to various levels and is learning Spanish! She spends her time living both in the UK and on the beautiful Island of Menorca in Spain.

Pamela has worked as a Global Leader, with 30+ years’ experience of managing teams around the world. Her last position was as Director, Global Customer Resolution, leading a large team, based in 15 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia.

She decided to step out of Leadership and into Professional Leadership and Wellbeing Coaching after being made redundant, and as Covid-19 hit the world devastating the Travel Industry.

It was time to share her knowledge and experience by helping others to develop. She is interested in using her extensive leadership experience and combine it with her passion for Wellbeing to help others to maximize their potential.

Pamela is also a Yoga teacher, is passionate about learning and development, and has a particularly keen interest in Human Behavioural Psychology. This led her to study Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychology, which helps in her coaching practice.

She loves to swim most days even in the winter, enjoying the wonderful health benefits this brings to the mind and the body. She enjoys walking in nature, cycles, and teaches and practices yoga by the sea when she can. She is passionate about the positive effects movement and nature has on mental wellbeing.

Pamela does, however, admit to having a weakness for red wine and chocolate!
2 Comments
  • Rachel Cartwright
    Posted at 09:21h, 08 March Reply

    What a fabulous life story, Really appreciate the candor and honesty in Pam’s story, so generously shared.

    Excited to hear the next installment !!!

  • Dana Hilmer
    Posted at 22:35h, 10 March Reply

    What a beautiful article Pamela. Thank you for sharing your adventure, honesty and courage with us. Looks like you’re living a life that is very well lived!

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