How To Say 'Fuck It' And Take Back Control Of Your Destiny
Yep I really did use the f word.
And - no apologies made - I'll use it several times during this article.
Not for it's vulgarity, but because I want to demonstrate why I use the phrase 'fuck it' for empowerment.
These two little words are at the heart of one my podcast series which returned this week for it's second coming...
See, my take on life is that our time is simply a series of 'fuck it moments', and the rest...is just a handful of cotton wool in between.
And in truth - we all have them. Those moments that have defined us, shaped us, helped change our destiny. Either through choice or circumstance.
What fascinates me as a journalist is not the build up and pivotal moment of change - it's what happens next.
Once you've made that decision to do something, to reach for your next goal, to lose the weight, to go run that marathon...what happens between that decision and the moment you achieve your goal?
Because the struggles and bumps in the road as you take the road to your new destination are where the learning and growth really happens. Not in the final achievement itself.
I know this because I've been on this path several times.
I'm on my third career since I graduated. I've moved home 18 times over 18 years. I've travelled the world for joy, for sadness and for work. I've grieved. I've loved and lost. And I've started my life over time and time again.
It's not easy, shedding your skin and changing your colours.
It can leave you feeling lonely, dissatisfied and an outsider as you let go of who you were - to become who you are.
But what gives me peace is to know there are tons of other people who've been there, have the t-shirt and just 'get it'.
People who are pushing themselves to be the best they can.
People who refuse to settle and take the easy path.
People who know they are capable of more and persist until they've found what it is they're meant to be doing.
And that's at the heart of 'The Fuck It Moments Podcast' series.
The inspiration for how I meet the guests comes to me in the most unlikely of places.
Like the time I sat next to Jeff in a coffee shop in Altrincham.
We were just two strangers sat in the only spaces left in a busy cafe. He asked me to pass the salt and somehow we ended up talking.
His wife Tara had just died of cancer. He was feeling lost with his grief and newfound supposed 'freedom'.
That morning we talked about my 'fuck it moment' philosophy. And two months later he messaged me to say that conversation had brought him hope and some peace. It gave him back control of his situation. And a new year was just the new start he needed.
We recorded a few weeks later in his home - a conversation of what was, what just is and what we hoped would become. It was an honour to be a part of Jeff's world for a few hours. And I've proudly followed his progress as an artist on Instagram ever since.
Then there was the time I sat down with a former drug dealer.
I wanted to understand why, how he got there, what it was like dealing with the Mexican mafia.
And why after he ended up in one of Arizona's deadliest jails did he turn to reading books and yoga?
Shaun Attwood described his journey from that first wrap of speed in Manchester right through to the day his family remortgaged their house to pay for his court fees.
He served his time inside, but by the time he was released he'd had a dramatic rebirth. Now he campaigns for better rights for US prisoners and runs workshops at schools in the UK to ensure other kids don't make the same mistakes he did.
Not everyone agrees and is sympathetic with someone like Shaun, it's certainly not the type of interview that would be broadcast on the BBC.
But it's still a conversation worth having. And that was the sole purpose behind me making the series.
In months to come I met a former bodyguard to Nelson Mandela who came face to face with the man who had waterboarded him moments from death during apartheid.
Then there was the NHS A&E consultant who had volunteered to help save refugees fleeing Libya, who were dying amongst the overcrowded boats heading towards the Italian coast.
And a woman who at 40 hadn't met Mr Right but decided she wanted to be a mum anyway. Bethan took me through the raw reality of the adoption process - warts, tears and all.
This series is no different.
It's 18 months in the making.
In fact it's been that long since I recorded some of the interview, one of the contributors died. Something which I struggled over whether it was appropriate to release that interview or not.
Her name was Katie Davidson.
She was told she had terminal cancer 9 days before her wedding. On her happiest day of her life she knew the man she'd be marrying would soon be a widow.
She was just 29. It broke her - and his - heart.
I never met Katie. She lived over in Ontario, Canada. We only connected once to talk over Skype but it was a conversation that changed me a bit. And I'm certain by sharing it with others, it will continue to champion her legacy long after her passing.
Katie wasn't someone who gave in to death. She was someone who embraced all the ups and downs that came with having fourth stage cancer. She tirelessly shared her journey on twitter and on her YouTube channel to make sure more of us knew how we could help, and that others in her situation knew they weren't alone.
Here are some of things I'll remember about Katie.
She loved maths.
She loved to travel in Europe.
She loved the boring random moments with her family where nothing much happened.
And she wore cool boots and awesome glasses.
But mostly - she loved to laugh. She was a natural born comedian who brought joy to my and thousands of others lives.
It's a 45 minute conversation which put life in perspective for me. To be thankful. To be grateful. And to seize every opportunity right now.
Released to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, the first episode of the second series is now live on Audioboom, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the usual podcast places. Or here's a link to play it right here...
First up is Andy Elwood who's earnt the nickname 'dope on a rope'.
The former search and rescue paramedic ran me through some of the biggest moments in his life - changing careers, facing divorce upon returning from a gruelling tour in Afghanistan to learning to manage signs of PTSD.
But at the core of our conversation Andy explains why he quit the 'best job he ever had' to take his Land Rover on tour, because he believes as a mental health campaigner he can save more lives talking than ‘dangling from a helicopter’.
There's the more serious conversations too about suicide - Matt recalls the moment he sat on the ledge of a balcony facing his end when the voice of his late partner Naz gave him a new purpose.
It led to him setting up a foundation which helps rescue men across the world facing the death penalty and violent beatings by their own communities because they're gay.
There's also a story challenging the unspoken taboos surrounding male infertility.
Radio presenter and DJ Sheridan explains how he and his wife's dream of wanting a family came to a heartbreaking end after 10 years of chasing.
Yet something surprised him - his life didn't. In fact, letting go and facing reality led them to a fresh start with new exciting opportunities awaiting them on the opposite side of the world.
And of course there are the bizarre moments as well - like the actor afraid of dogs and facing divorce who suddenly found herself having to walk a lion every Saturday... !
Personally, it's been one of the hardest series for me to put together.
I share myself more than I've ever done before.
But I know - especially on a day like World Suicide Prevention Day - these are stories that need to be heard.
These are ordinary people who have proved we're all capable of extraordinary things. And that in my humble opinion, is worth putting out into the world.
A new episode will be released every Tuesday for five weeks in September and October 2019.