Life is good. We are back from a fabulous and much needed five days at the Coral Reef Club in Barbados (thank you Patrick O'Hara for looking after us so well) and Robert 'Bertie' Portal is home and dry with a smile as broad as the Atlantic Ocean itself.
After rowing the Atlantic and spending 63 days at sea, last week Bertie finally shaved off his 10 week's growth of beard. I gasped in astonishment. It was a great moment seeing that particular face as the last time I had seen it was well over 18 months ago and long before the creases of fear, anxiety and strain had crept into his everyday expression.
He's a very modest man and despite now being in the position to look back with relief at what he's accomplished, I doubt he would ever stand up and say: "Hey everybody, look what I've done" - I don't think he sees it that way unlike the rest of us who bask in the sunlight of his glory. Of course he's thrilled with the amount of money raised for the charity http://facingtheworld.net but he rightly now wants to get on with his day job as an actor.
The relief I personally feel is inexplicable. The worry that ate away at me disappeared the day he rowed in to Barbados and it is only now I see how distracted I had been by a constant voice in my head reminding me that Bertie was out at sea, in a tiny boat and it could all go horribly wrong at any moment. Perhaps I am a natural born worrier, I don't know, but that's not really the point is it?
To be honest though, I'm struggling with a few things here at home. I had been warned that there might be some kind of a post challenge come down - but for Bertie, not for me - and this has taken me by surprise.
I think Bert is just so very delighted to be at home; a comfortable bed, a view of land, good food, friends and family is all he needed. Yet I'm at home too and the challenge is over, my working from home job has finished. I am redundant. I very willingly spent the last two years helping Bertie with his project and wouldn't change it for the world. I was very busy, met and worked with some truly great people, learnt a huge amount about things I never thought I would, rediscovered skills that had got lost between nappy changing and Maths homework and I loved it. Yet now I feel at a loss as to what to do with my seemingly endless days.
So what now? I can't go back, only forward. I need to take stock and re-think my working life. Is this the new normal? Nothing feels the same any more. Things have changed. I have changed and view things in a different light. Perhaps this is what they call a mid-life crisis but I like to think I'm far too young for that.
I shall just call it being at a crossroads and not knowing which way to turn. Oh SatNav of life, where are you in my hour of need? Answers on a postcard please.
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