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Guest story: life begins again

Back in July Azul ran a competition to win a stay at the retreat. Here one of the competition winners shares her story…

I was 25, in a new relationship and working 12-hour days when I found out I was 16 weeks pregnant. Some would say we were silly to marry. I like to think we were both headstrong, determined and with similar viewpoints of trying to make the best of a difficult situation and do the right thing.

We were both in our 20s, working in London, leading the typical work hard, play hard lifestyle. I think I panicked. I took a year’s leave, went home to my parents in Scotland and planned a new life. He followed after 6 months, leaving behind his family and friends. This perhaps was our downfall. I like to think there were many!

Our second child was planned and both of us were determined to make amends and do it the right way. But the cracks were there from the beginning and in the eight years we were married we buried our heads in work, further education, starting a business and children. Everything was pretty great – apart from the marriage bit.

Then things changed. My dear friend and old flatmate from University found out the cancer she suffered in her twenties had come back and sadly she passed away. We were the sort of friends who didn’t need to speak all the time but could pick up where we left off when we did. I had confided in her a lot about my doomed marriage and her death sparked my own sadness and loss. Then the recession happened and my little precious retail bubble began to burst, taking with it my distraction.

It was around this time I joined a Pilates class, looking for a bit of ‘me time’ and a chance to relax. I really loved Pilates and it became a welcome, much needed break from my wandering mind and thoughts.

I found addressing the obvious issue of a dead marriage a real struggle. I have a fairly logical, problem fixing personality and admitting defeat really wrestled with my heart, which had started as a whisper and had slowly become a screaming beacon.

In classic textbook style I started reading spiritual books. I guess looking for the answers I already knew. Celestine Prophecy, A Road Less Travelled, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior and The Alchemist were all insightful and gave me a clearer focus.

On 24th February 2011 I left my husband and my life as me began again. The kids and I moved into a new house and we slowly and pretty tentatively started again. I remember reading a line about divorce. ‘When two people decide to get a divorce, it isn’t a sign that they “don’t understand” one another, but a sign that they have, at last, begun to.’

The kids started to flourish at school and looking back we went from four unhappy souls in a tense and unhappy home, to a solid little camp of four, finally able to chill out and find some peace.

I kept up with Pilates and found myself realising how it felt to feel happy. I met a guy and we hung out as friends for a while. He was a great listening ear and logical reasoner. I took up running at his suggestion and found it a great stress release. It gave me time to clear my head and think before acting. Divorce is pretty stressful! I soon came to really rely on my Pilates and running routine and I suspect it helped me hold everything that was going on with life together – juggling working, trying to bring up three kids on my own, walk the dog, look after the house/garden and keep everyone happy.

Things started getting more serious between me and my boyfriend around May – but he was due to move to Angola with work and this move was like a massive elephant in the room. While I knew it was happening, I wasn’t ready to confront it, nor the feelings I was starting to have about our relationship.

In his usual straightforward fashion, one evening he remarked ‘Hey Ang we can either talk about us and what’s going on here, or I can just move to Angola and do my own thing’. In 2002 I think I put my emotions in a box and vowed never to let them come out again. Up until that moment I had refused to acknowledge the box let alone open it. I like to think it’s what most people do after a bad experience – protect themselves and put fences up!

From then onwards things have only gotten better. We had THE best summer, hanging out on weekends with no kids and enjoying family time, going to the beach, camping and having impromptu bbqs on weekends with the kids.

I found myself faced with my first ever week without the kids when my ex-husband had them for a week in the summer holidays. I entered a competition for a stay at Azul Retreat and we won! I can’t tell you how much Pilates, yoga and the whole Azul experience has helped to change my life for the better.

Ok I can do sit ups now, and press ups but it’s really the inner peace inside my soul that’s changed. Azul gave us a week to really get to know each other, without the complications of kids and exes and work.

I had never done yoga before (I remember telling my boyfriend ‘I’m not doing any of that chanting hippy stuff’) and now the highlight of my week is my hatha yoga class on Mondays.

I can handle pressure much better now and I sleep like a log. I smile and feel happy and calm and relaxed. I still go to Pilates on Fridays and still check out my beloved Azul website scheming about when we will be back!

I can’t thank Azul enough for letting me come and enjoy the time out I so badly needed. Fuerteventura is a special place and I’m a nicer person having had the privilege to experience it first hand.

About the author

Angela Grant was one of the winners for Azul’s recent competition to win a stay at the retreat. A keen practitioner of Pilates and now a hatha yoga enthusiast we hope to see her back at Azul soon.