Real Life

Slice of life: End of a dream

The highly publicised liquidation of her Canterbury cook school, café and shop has had our popular columnist Jo Seagar reflecting on the various turns life can take.

Jo Seagar

Counting your blessings has always been part of my family’s DNA. It is our way, my mother would tell us as children, when we were faced with disappointments.

Well here goes. I’m counting…

I am fortunate to be very healthy and well – except for that awkward little fractured leg problem – but that is being dealt with. Mental health has always been vastly underrated, and I’ve got buckets of that.

I have lots of life skills and talents.

I have the support of wonderful friends and I enjoy the kindness of so many people I’ve crossed paths with.

So, despite my recent battering in one of life’s little stories, I do feel ever so slightly and cautiously optimistic.

I now tick the ‘Age: 59-64’ box on survey forms, although sadly, as many of you will be aware by now, I don’t also tick that top end of the scale for household income. But I do strongly believe there is a purpose behind every problem and that we are given the skills to deal with it accordingly.

This, of course, doesn’t stop an annoying little tune going around and around in my head – I think I am channelling Topol in Fiddler on the Roof: ‘Would it spoil some vast eternal plan, if I were a wealthy man?’

I am now at the stage where I need to strongly focus on where I am going – and that is in a forward direction, not looking backwards.

We Seagars have been through a really rough patch of choppy seas – actually, read ‘perfect storm’ of catastrophe – and, to be perfectly honest, it has poleaxed me. You never think a business disaster will happen to you – until it does.

You have to accept the negative things that happen in life – but also use them to move on. I do believe incredibly good things can happen even late in the game.

Right now, it feels as if I’ve entered a little period of winter after the storm. This is my time to mend my nets and re-energise for a hopeful spring. Winter isn’t terminal, and like this rubbish period in my life, it too will pass.

In the past few years we have lived through one of nature’s cruellest, most devastating episodes. The big quakes were bad enough, but the post-quake period of aftershocks and the general aftermath continues to affect us here in Canterbury. The Seagars, like many others, have lived from liquefaction to liquidation, and it is personally very, very sad.

I loved my cook-school dream, my cooking classes and my kitchenware store. And I did so love my AGA oven. Ten years of seven-days-a-week hard work seems to have been for nothing. But, of course, we have some wonderful memories. The ending is not how I wanted it to be, but I guess we will find acceptance before we can make peace with ourselves. There is a huge hurdle of sadness, money worries and sense of failure to get through before we move on to the next phase of our lives.

Happy people don’t have the best of everything in life. They just make the most of everything that comes their way.

As I age, I grow and mature. This maturity helps me deal with issues in a more reasoned and thoughtful manner. A number of lifestyle tweaks and a big change in attitude is how I think we are going to survive both the failure of the business and then the next stage of our lives. I can’t change the odometer, but I can alter my speed for the driving conditions.

Failure is not the process of falling down, it is staying down. That is not for me.

This is a new stage in my life. I have attacked every other stage with gusto and determination; there is no sense in changing that now.

I have been stunned with the words of comfort from so many people. And more importantly, in a time of trouble, it is reassuring to know you are not alone. The examples of others who have been through financial trouble have been truly beneficial. We tend to hide financial woes, so hearing others’ stories of what happened to them, what they have done, and how they are now, is greatly reassuring. Even writing this down is cathartic.

I’ll keep counting those blessings as I move forward.

Photo: Jae Frew

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