Life Changes aka Levelling Up


How fitting of me to use the term levelling up when referring to my personal journey and experiences. As a Fortnite Mum and avid gamer, levelling up is part of the fun. So why, when my own life goes through more changes than I can count, do I feel the fear within me?

I am human. That’s why. *Insert shocked gasp here*

It has been an incredibly emotional few years for me. There have been high highs, the lowest of lows, and a lot of flitting around the middle. Every emotion has been felt and explored at great depths and learning to process all of these experiences has been a journey in itself. It is no secret that I am my own worst critic and in the past, I have been reluctant to celebrate my own wins. As time moves on and life continues to present new challenges for me to face, I find that I am questioning myself now more than ever. Questioning my role in society; on this earth; in the lives of my children and my presence in the world. Some may refer to this as a quarter-life crisis but I see this as more of a soul searching period. A time of great and needed reflection.

Life is full of highs and lows. We need them both to grow to our fullest potential. Just hang on tight & enjoy the ride.

Dawn Gluskin

The best-laid plans…

I had big plans. High hopes. Big dreams. Up until 2017, I had a rock-solid 15+ year career in the travel industry and I had built a relatively decent reputation for myself both in South Africa and in the UK. I loved being in travel and I loved being a travel consultant; I was damn good at it too. I had always felt that business travel was my calling and I was pursuing a career that was just right for me. It was as a travel consultant that I felt most comfortable because there was little unknown to me – I knew what I was doing, I did it well and I was recognised for it.

That said, it was an office job. A part of me has ALWAYS believed that I should not be in an office job; that something else was destined for me and I was yet to find it. 15 years is a very long time to be following one path, especially if that path is travel. I had grown tired of the high-stress environment that business travel had become; the industry had (in my humble opinion) lost the spark that it once had and I often questioned what else it was that I could do. I seldom answered myself.

Then, life happened.

2017 was the year of my hysterectomy and subsequent Deep Vein Thrombosis. Definitely not the root of all of my medical problems but the catalyst for change. It was this DVT and my very delayed recovery that resulted in me resigning from my job in travel and walking away from the only career I had ever known.

DVT – 2017

Lady of leisure… levelling up?

I was very fortunate in that at the time of leaving my travel career in order to recover fully from a year of medical procedures and near misses, my husband had a well-paid career in the IT industry. Not well paid that we were swanning around in cash money but well enough that we could afford to comfortably survive on one salary with little change to our lifestyle. This, of course, opened up a world of opportunities. Suddenly, I could do anything and be anything that I wanted to be! At the time, this was extremely freeing but later became a noose around my own neck as I put an extreme amount of pressure on myself to achieve something. Anything.

Not one to sit and do absolutely nothing, I investigated new and different ways of making some extra money. I dabbled in content writing and influencing – Moonsomnia was born – and later ended up doing a brief stint as a retail assistant in our local Dr. Martens store in Reading. I absolutely loved creating content and writing for Moonsomnia but I quickly realised that this was a much-loved hobby (writing) which I had attempted to convert into a money maker. There went my love for blog writing and it has continued to wax and wane over the years – I have since found my love for writing once more. I adored working for Dr. Martens and loved being able to represent a brand that I loved but sadly the hours on my feet took its toll. I resigned after only a few short weeks to allow myself to properly heal as I battled with the Post Thrombotic Syndrome that came with having had a very severe DVT a few months earlier.

For the most part, in 2018 I was a lady of leisure. I recovered as well as I could from the blood clots and was looking forward to forging a new path for myself. I decided that I wanted to give more of myself to the world and took up a degree in Child Psychology with the Open University (start date October 2018); I was excited about earning a degree and working with children one day. Until tragedy struck and my husband, the father of my children and the love of my life, was taken from us.

In November 2018, very suddenly and quite shockingly, we lost J-P.

My world was once again, on its head.

Lord Jean-Pierre du Toit

Ground Zero

This specific post is not about grief, tragedy, or loss but I would remiss to dismiss the impact of losing J-P on my life. As husband and wife, we had plans. I had grown to enjoy being his cheerleader and he had come to love the role of breadwinner and provider. Suddenly and quite tragically, we were both stripped of these roles and I was faced with the terrifying prospect of having to start again… alone.

Although, I wasn’t actually alone. I was (and continue to be) surrounded by the most incredible human beings that I could ever have wished for. I was supported by everyone closest to me and trusted that I would make the right decisions for the girls and me. My life plan had imploded but I was ready to forge new ones, if not for me then for my children; this was my coping mechanism. My degree in child psychology came to an abrupt end and I chose to document my journey in a series of blogs over the coming months – Young widow, too soon; Carpe Noctem and later Happy Healthy Shevy which has since become Shevy Blogs. Though the pressure I placed upon myself to write something valuable and have my say in the world mounted, my need for writing never died.

I started again. The Queen of reinvention.

I dabbled a little bit in photography and Shevy Marie Photography was born in February 2019. Studying photography seemed like a great idea and a perfect way to once more attempt to ‘be my own boss’. Being my own boss in a job that didn’t involve sitting behind a desk was becoming a common theme, as was the realisation that turning much-loved hobbies into hopeful moneymakers was actually not working. As much as I loved photography – I still do – it became apparent that this was not a career that was going to sustain a single income household. The same could be said for the Younique business that I briefly started and ended. If I was adamant about not going back into travel – I was and still am – then I was going to have to retrain in order to pursue a career that paid the bills. A career that not only paid the bills but provided a sense of achievement; a subject that I was passionate about and was relevant; an industry that would accept a uniquely tattooed individual like me.

Digital marketer extraordinaire… levelled up!

By August 2019, I was making life decisions. The time had come to adult once more. In the grand scheme of things, not even a year after losing my husband, this was relatively impressive. That said, this was nearly 2 years after leaving my role as a travel consultant and I can confidently say that I had never felt so lost in all of my career. In travel, I always knew what I was doing and suddenly I did not even have a clue, let alone a plan.

I knew that I was very interested in marketing and psychology (back to psychology) behind purchasing and customer decisions. I had a little bit of marketing experience when it came to the blog sites I had run and the social media I had used for marketing and a light bulb moment happened. I decided to study Digital Marketing and obtain a CIM marketing qualification through the Oxford College of Marketing and enrolled for September 2019 start. I knew that marketing was a sought after skill no matter what industry I went into and decided that marketing job or not, these would be expertise I would use in many aspects of my life. A year of my life dedicated to digital marketing with the assistance of an internship role through Digital Raspberry Marketing resulted in graduation in September 2020 and a Level 4 certification in Professional Digital Marketing awarded with DISTINCTION.

It was at the same time that I made very important decisions and goals for myself with regards to my health and wellness. At the start of August 2019, I tipped the scale at 133.7 kilograms (295 pounds / over 21 stone). For various medical and personal motivations, I made the decision to get healthy and take control of my life. I have subsequently lost over 60 kilograms (132 pounds / nearly 9.5 stone) and am the healthiest and happiest I have been in a long time.

Shevy September 2017 vs August 2020

Oh, hey COVID19!

At the time I graduated from my marketing certification, we had already been in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic for 7 months. I knew that finding a job in marketing with almost no experience as a mid-thirty-something career changer was going to be difficult. What I wasn’t prepared for (I don’t think anyone was prepared) was job seeking in the thick of a global pandemic when thousands and thousands of people were in the same (if not worse) positions than I was. As each role was advertised, I publicly made light of the fact that the number of applicants per role was almost laughable.

I tore my hair out (what little of it I have)! Hours and hours were spent overhauling my CV; preparing my social media feeds for employment; keeping my LinkedIn profile up to date and applying for endless digital marketing opportunities. For over two months, the job hunt has overtaken my life. The only constant? Keeping fit, keeping healthy, and continuing to share and inspire by my personal journey and takeaways.

Levelling up… a U-turn.

Truth time

It is truly difficult facing the fact that I have not yet found my path. I am 36 years old and I still feel like the only thing I know how to do is the one thing I don’t want to return to. I used to know what to expect from my career; I had realistic salary expectations and had grown accustomed to being a full time working mother. I was and always have been hard-working and ambitious; when that is taken away from me, lost is the only word I can use to describe the replacement.

I have tried so many things, been involved in many business endeavours, and dipped my toes in various industries. I have attempted to turn hobbies into businesses and though others may be a little more successful at this, it just didn’t work for me. I have studied and applied my knowledge and pushed myself to do what is required of me to stand out in the job market. I continue to put myself out there, with every blog and every social media post and every single page/account I ask you to like or follow… which you, without complaint, continue to do.

I have never cared to be rich, never cared for title or notoriety. I only ever wanted to make my mark on the world. Wanted people to see ME for who I am and what I can do; see me for what I have achieved and what I continue to push myself to do. To be heard. All I wanted was the chance to help someone, anyone. To have someone read something I wrote or seek inspiration from something I did. To be someone’s strength or guidance when they could not be that for themselves. To be a light for someone when they too know what it is to live in absolute darkness and to lift them up, if only for a little while.

I want more.

A better me thanks to you!

Over a year ago, I sought to be a better version of myself. A healthier version; a happier version. I am proud to say that this self-investment has resulted in a woman that I am very proud of.

I am proud of the fact that I have lost an extreme amount of weight; that I have improved my overall health and fitness and proud that I managed to stop taking Warfarin for long term DVT management. I have found confidence that cannot be taught and I have learned to treat myself better; treat my body better and talk to myself with a level of sensitivity and compassion that I never did before. I am not perfect and I still have my moments of doubt and negative self-talk but I remind you, once more, that I am human. I have learned that we need to afford ourselves permission for imperfection. I learned to appreciate my body for the instrument that it is; a marvel. A body that kept me alive through operative childbirth; surgery; blood clots and heartbreak. A body that deserves far more credit than I ever gave and far more care than I ever showed. I learned to heal… my body; my mind; my heart and most importantly my soul.

I shared this weight loss journey publicly. You watched as I grew smaller and stronger. You supported, you applauded and you cheered. Many of you told me that I was the inspiration in your own journey – that you looked at what I had achieved and it gave you a kick up the rear to do the same. You celebrated my wins with me, watched me reach my goals and set new ones. You applauded my transition from weight loss journey to fitness journey and stuck with me through the only constant that kept me sane in these trialling times.

What you did not know is that you were applauding me toward a path I definitely didn’t set out for myself!

Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexels

A new adventure, new levels. A whole new game.

A little while back, I jokingly did the government skills assessment to see which career would best suit my personality. Brewery worker or royal marine were strong options but perhaps a little outside of my comfort zone. Fitness Instructor snuck its way into the laughable list and my head has since been turned.

Throughout my year of health and fitness (nearly 15 months now), many of my friends and family have mentioned that I should become a personal trainer. I laughed this off as a compliment; until recently, because the idea had wedged itself into the forefront of my mind.

Let’s not underestimate the power of a personal trainer and the skills and knowledge it takes to become one. I truly did not think that this was something that I could just do… Surely having personal experience of a fitness journey alone would not be enough to make me a candidate for such a massive career shift? Not to mention the fact that I definitely do not LOOK LIKE a personal trainer. You can imagine my surprise to find many PT’s enter into the world of personal training thanks to their own weight loss/fitness stories and not every personal trainer is built like a brick sh1t house. I had a very open, candid conversation with my personal trainer and friend who admitted to me that she had thought about me being a trainer as well. She believes that my personal experience, dedication, and understanding of a weight loss journey would see me as a great addition to the fitness world.

I have always wanted a non-office job. I have always wanted a role where I could help, guide, and inspire people. I want to work in an environment that doesn’t care what I look like (tattooed etc). I have always wanted my own business and to work for myself. Hard, rewarding work. Making a difference and showing people what is possible with their own bodies and the power of the human mind!

Many sleepless nights later and I have bitten the bullet. On the 3rd of November 2020, I embark on an intensive 10-12 week Level 2 in Fitness Instructing and Level 3 Personal Training Diploma through Premier Global NASM -this will be followed by Level 4 Certified Nutrition Coach as well as a range of other specialisms that I have chosen purposefully (Corrective exercise; Level 2 in Mental Health; Behaviour change; Senior fitness; Youth exercise; Level 3 Pre & Postnatal; Women’s Fitness and Practical Yoga).

Shevy Marie PT (in training)

Never stop levelling up…

I wish I could say that this will be the last of the studies. That this will be the last time I change my mind, change my business or change my goals but I cannot say where this road will lead. What I do know is that I am excited and nervous about this course and what is to follow. I have not left marketing behind me; as my PT reminded me, a large portion of personal training IS marketing. Everything I have learned and continue to learn will be put into practice in my own personal training business.

I have a long road ahead of me! More studying, more exams, more learning and application! I am really excited to get stuck in and take yet another path on this crazy life journey. I have new hopes; dreams and perhaps a successful personal training business is in my future. I am taking control once more.

Keep an eye and ear out for what is to come… thank you for your continued support, love and encouragement AS ALWAYS!

Stay healthy. Keep grinding (as my brother would say).

Shevy xx (in training)