In 2006 I was in a completely different world to where I left my rollercoaster career back in 1999 as a competitive dancer, representing my great country of England and travelling the world doing what I love most “dancing”.
At the time of my retirement it seemed life just stood still for an eternity. I guess this would only be experienced by a small minority of people who have dedicated their lives to their sport or art and reached the heights that so many can only dream of to find that eventually it all has to come to an end. Nobody prepares you for that moment when you wake up in the morning feeling numb and lost and wondering where had your life gone?
It took a couple of years for my mind to grasp the idea that life was no more about trying to be number one in the world anymore, but just about surviving each day that came along. And without realising it there was a person in my life that was standing by me more than I noticed at the time. A person that stood by me through good times and bad times was Conrad, who after over a decade together, is now my wonderful husband.
Largely owing to his guidance and seeing obviously that life was just a blur for me, Conrad insisted that I should go with him every week to watch him play rugby and meet HIS friends. This was just a concept I thought ridiculous, in my mind I was a champion of dance whose life definitely did not include sitting on a rugby field in the cold and rain with no high heels or designer clothes on…what would I even say to these people.
Looking back now I can only feel ashamed of my feelings. I did go to the rugby club every week, and I sat in the corner not having anything to say to the other wives or players. I did put my killer heels on every week and tip toe on to the field to watch Conrad play. And as I stood there I did keep standing and dreaming of my days when I was dancing and that I was missing so much, until one weekend two of the ladies there started to say “hello”.
That was however about as long as the conversation lasted, until I began to talk to them about their children, their jobs, their family lives which to me was so alien as life had always been about just “me and my dancing”. I cannot thank the Mitcham Rugby Club enough for helping me to start to wake up and see that there was a new life out there with lots of really great people to share it with. As a result of this newly found friendship, several years later most of the rugby team, their wives and children joined us for our wedding on the island of Santorini in Greece.
The second and quite demanding change in my life was in October of 2001 when on my husband’s guidance he once again challenged me to move on in life and some how persuaded me to walk the Inca Trail in Peru! Most people in the dance business don’t even know what the Inca trail is, I certainly didn’t! And when I looked at the pictures I thought my husband had lost the plot. It involved “walking”,”sleeping in a tent”, “eating from a make shift stove” and “climbing” to the sumit at 4,200 meters in the Andes… How was I going to do this in 3inch high heels? And where was I expected to change my clothes, wash and do my makeup?
Well, I did it, and there are many amazing stories to tell you of my journey to the top of the world. Everything from, blisters to bleeding feet, breathlessness to violent stomach upset and being air lifted by helicopter. These stories I will hold for another day but let me tell you once I had achieved that climb to the top, I never looked back.
Many great things have happened in my life now. I am proud to be the wife of my wonderful husband Conrad Murray and back in March 2005 we were delighted to welcome our gorgeous son Callum, into this world.
I am also honoured and say thank you to so many people who now invite me to adjudicate all the competition I had once fought so hard to win around the world. Every time I judge I stand and I look into the eyes of the dancers who are in that place that I once was, where nothing exists for them but their dance. Of course there is always that pang inside me as I see the passion, the drive and dedication of the students in front of me but that is not my life anymore.