Lottie’s Story

Welcome to this timeline of my adult life. If I were to write my entire life story it would be quite a  book, and perhaps one day that might actually exist, but for now I’ve opted for a timeline to give you more than a snippet or promotional soundbite of my life; an idea of who I really am and what I’ve experienced, without going into tons of detail. I hope you enjoy it and find in me a comrade who might be able to inspire you to Rediscover YOU.

1999 - aged 23

After a few years working in financial planning I decide it’s not for me and become a Recruitment Consultant.

I marry the man I’d been in love with since the tender age of 21.

We are famous for a day as the last couple to marry in the UK in the 20th Century. December 31st 1999 just before 5pm, the legal deadline for marrying at that time. We leave the church to be greeted by local and national journalists and photographers – our very own paparazzi!

It was the beautiful day one anticipates.The medieval-style wedding I designed was stunning, and perfect…apart from one small detail—the caterers got the colour of the napkins wrong! I jest, though they did indeed mess that up, there was a much bigger problem, I was seriously ill. I had been struggling with undiagnosed bowel problems (that bit’s coming!) for months, then a week before the wedding I was knocked out with flu, which hit the UK at endemic levels in 1999. I weighed a mere 72lbs and had zero voice, only able to mouth my vows—supposedly they’re still binding!

I am complete with my very own cliched Prince Charming (for real, a more charming and loyal, adventurous and committed man you will never meet), but I could not imagine that crossing the threshold into a new century was the beginning of a real-life fairytale complete with terrifying darkness and challenges determined to kill me before old age.

2000

  • Move to London to be part of the Dot Com revolution. An exciting time working for a startup that is the first to produce a library of downloadable music in MP3 format. I work with major record labels such as EMI, BMG and Zumba selling production music and sound effects to TV and music studios including the BBC, Channel Four, Cartoon Network, Abbey Road and Air Studios. I’m having a lot of fun!
  • My symptoms increase and the day we move to London my doctor calls to tell me to find a specialist immediately as I have Ulcerative Colitis, an Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This news is about to take my life down a surprising road.
  • By the end of the year I’m signed off work for two months and realize that I can no longer work in a wild startup environment so spend time considering what my dream job can look like. I decide I want to use my skills for good, to work for a charity, and settle on the NSPCC, which supports victims of child abuse.

I learn to slow down and take the time to consider what it is I really want in my life, and how I want my life to look and feel. Something I now do regularly to support me in living a life and having a business I always love.

2001 - aged 24

  • Get dream job as a Major Gift Development Manager for the NSPCC. In this job I further develop my love of connection; creating relationships with donors, organizing amazing events in places like the Houses of Parliament, organizing and collaborating on activities with volunteers, and masterminding with colleagues to ensure our endeavors successfully raise vast sums for the FULL STOP Campaign (which ultimately raises more than $250 million).
  • My sister-in-law is killed in a car accident aged 32. A devastating tragedy for for our family.
  • With our massive losses came unexpected gains and I ended the year feeling as though I was working with purpose. For the first time, I was doing something wholehearted and good for my soul. It’s healing work both for myself and the children my work at the NSPCC supported.

I learn that great loss can be a great driver but that moving through grief is full of ups and downs with no clear path through.
I also learned that I’m always divinely directed to learn the skills I need for my purpose, receiving amazing leadership, organization and events training at the NSPCC that built the knowledge I eventually need to support women to rediscover themselves and create and implement important things in their lives and businesses.

2002

  • Promoted to manage the Core Individuals fundraising team. A huge achievement as I’m the least formally qualified for the role. My boss tells me that the fact I’m in a position to apply for a job alongside other formally more qualified candidates speaks to my tenacity and dedication, and that’s what they want.
  • My health is struggling but my bosses are super supportive, giving me the flexibility to work from home as needed.
  • My doctors tell me I will need bowel surgery that could render me infertile so I might want to consider having babies sooner rather than later. I get pregnant with my first child much quicker than anticipated, having to tell my bosses just a couple of weeks after my promotion. Not the best way to announce a pregnancy!

I learn that it’s not what you have certificates in that prove your worth, it’s what you DO and what you’re committed to doing that counts; who you are and how you shine. That the things I often consider to be inadequacies are actually my biggest strengths. I also learn to ask for what I need, no matter how much doing so fills me with fear of not belonging, not being good enough, standing out or being different.

Me, on the right, after months on steroids.

2003

  • My beautiful baby boy, Brogan, is born at home in my lounge. I’ve chosen a home birth as I’m spending far too much time in and out of hospitals and they don’t feel like a safe space to birth my baby. Plus there’s an outbreak of MRSA so our midwives have literally advised us that it’s safer for me to birth at home (How crazy is that?!) . This is something I never imagined myself doing in a million years, but it seems my body and mind are stronger than I imagine! I don’t yet know that this is good endurance training for what is to come.
  • We move out of London to start our family life back in Cambridgeshire where we originally met.
  • Our baby is seriously sick. Over a period of months his health deteriorates and after being told I’m “an overwrought, first-time mom” and that he’s simply colicky, he eventually ends up in hospital where it’s discovered he has a partially imperforate anus. He essentially can’t evacuate his bowels effectively and they have become blocked. He has a minor surgery to open his anus, but he has a long uncomfortable road of recovery ahead.
  • Over this time my health has deteriorated significantly – probably due to stress. Brogan sits on my knee screaming as he tries to poop, whilst I’m sat on the toilet crying that it’s so agonizing for both of us! Not the picture of family bliss I have envisioned for myself.

Yet here I learn important lessons: to trust my intuition and own inner knowing, and to trust that there’s something here for me even in the worst of situations. I also learn that when on purpose and motivated stepping out of the box comes with ease.


Psst – Join the Treasure Hunt!

Look for these  icons throughout this website, then click on them to find if they reveal treasure. There are nine great free treasures to discover.

2004

  • Make the heartbreaking decision not to return to my dream job after my year’s maternity leave. My baby and I are too sick.
  • Become a freelance professional fundraiser, supporting charities with their first major fundraising campaigns, working a handful of hours a week. I guess I am not an entrepreneur – a stay at home working mom!
  • Brogan and I muddle along in recovery together.

I learn to slow down and accept my limits. I learn to set myself up as a freelancer, and start my self-employed, entrepreneurial journey.

2005

  • I go through various toxic treatments that prevent pregnancy but I know I want another baby. Being the oldest of eight children, I can’t imagine my son not having siblings to share his life. I really want three children, but two is clearly my limit. I come off all meds to get pregnant.
  • My pregnancy is as hellish as anticipated as my UC deteriorates. I also develop Gestational Diabetes as a result of prolonged steroid use. Fortunately, we have an amazing team managing us and I give birth to another baby boy in our latest home in January 2006.

2006

  • Willem, my second son is born.
  • My health deteriorates significantly and I struggle to recover from the labours of childbirth.
  • A raft of new medical therapies have become available so before looking at the surgery we go on a journey of chemotherapies and biologic therapies to try to save my bowel, and, of course, my life.
  • At this point I am going to the bathroom up to 30 times a day, and consequently in and out of the hospital with dehydration, as well as to have regular urgent steroid infusions to prevent my bowel from perforating.
  • I start to dance, not mystically or spiritually (that comes later!), but literally. I have wanted to dance my entire life, but as a child, my parents couldn’t afford the time or money for me to dance (oldest of eight, remember) and since becoming an adult I’ve been too sick. But I’m tired of waiting, it’s likely I’ll always be sick, so I decided to go for it regardless.
  • Start my first blog, aptly titled “Jiving on Regardless” where I document my life adventures with Ulcerative Colitis.
  • By this point I have lost so much of myself to my illness. I’ve had to give up work and deal with the naturally overwhelming process of new motherhood, but it’s clear to me that I need more than medical appointments and drugs to heal me.
  • Movement and socializing are incredibly challenging, but I am determined. I learn to dance Modern Jive and before long am a regular on the UK partner dance scene, even if some nights I can only make it through one dance. One dance is better than no dance.

My mantra “Something is better than nothing” is born.

2007

  • I work my way through various medical therapies but they all fail, ending in a variety of toxic reactions. There’s just one left, the new biologic released called Remicade.
  • I continue to explore dance and now dance West Coast Swing and Blues. My husband starts dancing too – it’s a case of, ‘if you can’t beat them join them’. When well enough we travel the country with dance friends, attending freestyles and weekenders. The dance community supports me through many challenging times and always give me something to look forward to.

I learned to dance literally and metaphorically, no matter what challenges life throws my way.

2008 aged 32

  • I admit defeat and agree to have my colon and rectum removed and a JPouch created, with a temporary ileostomy bag for six months. I’m lucky that I get to plan the surgery, though once the surgeon removes my bowel it’s clear it was only a matter of days until I would have needed emergency surgery as my colon disintegrates in his hands.
  • This surgery was incredibly traumatic. The operation was difficult with me losing a lot of blood, needing a transfusion of five units. They then struggle to get my pain under control (the answer as to why this happened, would not to come to light until much more dramatic circumstances in 2013), and only hours after this double major surgery I spent three hours screaming in agony as they wait for an anaesthetist to get to me to administer pain relief.
  • Learn to live with post-operative PTSD
  • This surgery takes me a year to recover from physically and much longer to recover emotionally.
  • Live with an ileostomy bag (external bag you poop into) for six months.
  • Start new blog: ‘Lottie Loves’ – I realize I need to support myself in my recovery by rediscovering more about myself and positively relearning who I am, despite my health challenges and the copious amounts of literal $hit I deal with. So, I start this new blog to document the new chapter of my life, post-surgery. This marks the beginning of my journey into vintage and vintage pinup.
  • I share every single, tiny step I take. Eventually, there is an entire A-Z of 26 steps.
  • Learn to knit and crochet.
  • Despite mostly being in bed, I still manage to step into my fundraising/event planning role and raise £2000 for the NACC (IBD Charity) and our local preschool, through organizing a street party and a Christmas party.

I learn that the darkest of times always, eventually move into the light.

2009

  • Have “Take Down” surgery to remove the ileostomy bag and connect my JPouch (you’ll have to Google that to find out exactly what it is). I am now officially a JPoucher.
  • Create an outfit to attend Ladies Day at Ascot to celebrate my recovery and my mom’s 50th birthday. For the first time in ten years, I willingly step in front of a camera and my husband takes photographs that epitomise my rediscovery of true me—the woman who no longer wades in $hit!
  • We take our first trip abroad in five years, to Las Vegas, USA, to further celebrate my recovery and our tenth wedding anniversary. We renew our vows in the Little Church of the West, Las Vegas (Oh yes, we really did but no Elvis impersonator present!). A week’s holiday, just me and my husband as husband and wife, no longer patient and carer is life-changing.
  • We decide that now my health is improved I need sunshine and a new start, so we decide to pick up our life adventure and move abroad as we have always dreamed. Despite the fact I had never been there, when Noel mentions how much he loves California our decision is quickly made. What’s not to like about the sound of California?
  • I launch #ThinkFrockItsFriday on a slowly growing social media thing called Twitter, to great acclaim. Hundreds of women commit to wearing a dress on Fridays and sharing their photographs online. (Social Media was a new phenomenon then and “selfies” didn’t exist at the time, we were simply taking “outfit shots”.)
  • ‘Lottie Loves’ grows in popularity and I launch Finishing School (this is an early version of what becomes Rediscover YOU in 2014, which marks the launch of my Rediscover YOU brand.
  • I make jewelry to sell locally.
  • I start working with a sex therapist, as years of poop and pain have drained me of my sexuality. I also start Burlesque dancing to get back in touch with my sensuality – it works a treat! I absolutely love it and for the first time in my adult life I discover that I am sexy, sensual and beautiful, rather than a $h*tty mess!

This year I truly start to rediscover my body, sexuality and sensuality, and again, am divinely directed to acquire knowledge that will eventually support me in my work as a life coach.

 

 

2010

  • My first vintage photoshoot with a photographer other than my husband!
  • ‘Lottie Loves’ has grown and I am now a fully-fledged part of the UK vintage lifestyle and blogging scene.
  • Dancing four or five times a week, and have now learned most of the swing dances. I even Lindy Hop in wellies!
  • Emigrate from the UK to California to start our new life in the sunshine.

 

 

2011

  • We’re fully immersed in our new expat life, adapting to the new culture we find ourselves in. It takes a good six months to feel at home and comfortable—Culture Shock is a real and difficult phenomenon to navigate, but we get through and start to thrive in our new life. My boys are soon American in all but passport.
  • My health is improving massively and for the first time in years I feel like a regular human being.
  • We travel California, and visit Europe and Hawaii. My love for global travel is cemented and I want more of it in my life. After years of being housebound, even worse than that, bathroom bound, this new found freedom is intoxicating.
  • Volunteering for my son’s school and for various communities events.
  • Quit blogging to focus on writing.

2012

  • My first professional vintage pinup photoshoot. I’m still struggling with various health issues as a JPoucher who can’t absorb nutrients and vitamins well, and living with frequent migraines, but my general health is vastly improved. The images show me how far my body image and bodily health has come.
  • Plan the launch of new a website and online business ( it doesn’t get very far as 2013 happens!)
  • The travel bug continues, though keeping it more local, traveling California extensively and spending the summer in the UK.

2013

  • January – My health deteriorates out of the blue. I start to suffer regular incapacitating small bowel obstructions and regular hospital stays. After the second hospital admission, I’m advised I need more major surgery, this time to remove part of my small intestine.
  • June I have a Small Bowel Resection, another major, open surgery. This surgery goes well, but minutes, after they wheel me into recovery things, take a turn for the worse and I spend five hours fighting for my life. You can watch a video about that on my Facebook page.
  • July – depressed and struggling with my recovery my photographer calls to say that a vintage company has picked up my photos for one of their campaigns and urges me to get better. I don’t know how. I feel lost, in shock and de-motivated, but then I remember I documented every step I took to recover from my 2008 surgery – what if those steps could work again?
  • I work through the steps in two months and by October 2013 am determined to do another photoshoot and put this terrible experience behind me.
  • August – my youngest son undergoes a colonoscopy to investigate his bowel problems. Nothing found but that’s all three of us with bowel issues *sigh*
  • October – My two boys and I are diagnosed with chronic anaemia and Fibromyalgia (I’ve been anaemic for years, but now it’s clear my boys are too, probably caused by our bowel issues).
  • November – Kelly and I create that photoshoot and have an amazing time, producing beautiful photographs. The family and I also have to go back to England to renew our visa and enjoy a break with family which I really needed, my homesickness hitting high levels.
  • Read around 60 books, largely losing myself in fantasy novels full of elves, fairies and magic, and books expanding my spirituality – you get through a lot when you’re in bed for months on end.

I relearned what I had already learned in 2008/2009, the magic of which re-energises my commitment to sharing this important work with others. I also learned that there’s some serious familial healing needed in our household, and set the intention to bring even greater healing to our lives.

2014

  • 2014 was going to be the year to really embrace this third chance at life – I know, three chances, what can I say, I’m slow to get the message!
  • Launch new website and online business – ‘Who’s That Lady’ was born.
  • Time to fully honour my creativity, in particular, my writing, and do more and get published. I have a run of publishing success all year, including numerous magazine spreads, and online articles that go viral.
  • Diagnosed with chronic migraines, pouchitis, GERD and Sleep Apnea. I feel like I’m playing illness bingo, anytime now I’ll call “Full House!” – I start to wonder what on earth the big prize is! Turns out it’s called Life, and mine was now headed towards betterness.
  • Share my vintage photographs with magazines and have numerous spreads published. It’s a bizarre thing to see myself, someone who once had up to 30 bowel movements a day, posing in a swimsuit, in public, in a magazine!
  • Launch a Facebook support group and create and launch an online course – Rediscover YOU and my Rediscover YOU branding was born.
  • Do another vintage photoshoot with Kelly Hsaio.
  • Read around 40 books and complete one training course.
  • Learn to use and love Oracle and Tarot cards.
  • Spend a week at a yoga retreat in Mexico which is an incredibly healing experience.

I acknowledge my learning to focus on what ‘I Can Do’, ‘One Step at a Time’ and ‘Just Keep Going’


Psst – Join the Treasure Hunt!

Look for these  icons throughout this website, then click on them to find if they reveal treasure. There are 9 to discover!

2015

  • Become a full-time, fully fledged, business and mindset coach – and I fully arrive at my purpose.
  • Start a 1:1 coaching practice, working with women to rediscover themselves through their lives and businesses.
  • Start working a great coach for myself, who is also a coaching expert, to train and develop coaching acumen and skills, through 1:1 coaching and group coaching training.
  • Continue to grow my online business and community; list building, creating audio classes, an online course and online coaching.
  • Launch 4 successful and inspiring masterminds for women entrepreneurs.
  • Get Green Card to be Permanent Residents of the USA
  • Read 42 books, mostly business and self-development, and complete two training courses.
  • Travel to the east coast of Canada, the UK, Rome in Italy, and various places in the US.

2016

  • Grow my Facebook support group creating an amazing community of over 600 actively engaged women.
  • Launch two intensive, six month business masterminds.
  • Continue to grow my full-time 1:1 coaching practice.
  • Start my Time to Think training, having fallen in love with Nancy Kline’s work and deciding to become a certified Time to Think Coach.
  • Launch a series of collaborate offline workshops.
  • Created a series of meditative guided visualization audios called The Magical Forest Series.
  • Read 48 books and complete three training courses.
  • Travel to the west coast of Canada, the UK, Venice and the Almalfi Coast in Italy, and numerous places in the US.
  • Turn 40! Celebrate with a beautiful 1920s tea party.

2017

The now! Aside from launching this website, my intention is to continue to work with amazing women through my 1:1 coaching, business masterminds and groups, as well as finally see my book published, which documents my steps in self-care and rediscovery.

I’ll continue to travel, to the US, UK and Canada and hopefully Australia.

I’ll also be aiming to crochet 3 items a month for refugees and the homeless {link to charitable causes page}, and, as usual, I’ll be reading a ridiculous number of books, which range from self-development, research, popular best sellers and of course, my beloved fantasies full of elves and fairies!