Day 27: Giving thanks for the opportunity to live in England
In addition to the obvious joy of family time and turkey dinners, this time of the year also makes me always think of when I lived and worked in England. It’s hard to believe that it has now been 10 years since I boarded a plane at LAX and waited in Heathrow Airport for a man to walk up to me and ask if I was Nicole Matthews from San Diego. That man, Tony King, would become my guardian angel. He is the reason I ever had the opportunity to work abroad. He created a position for me as a consultant simply because he was impressed with my resume and his organization needed some polishing. We were two strangers until that moment in the airport but yet we became fast friends. He made sure I had fabulous housing, a car and could make my way around from the moment I arrived. The project worked out great for both of us – he benefited from me infiltrating his organization and giving my opinion on marketing, event management and organizational leadership issues, while I benefited from really coming into my own independence and making friends for life. I adored my time in England and working at the Rivers Health & Fitness Club in Reading (about 40 miles from London). It was truly a defining moment in my life and I was very sorry to have to leave because of an expired work visa. To this day, I continue to keep one eye open for opportunities that would afford me the chance to move back. England is in my soul and forever in my heart. It also yielded the name of my business, The Henley Company, because of my time in a quaint English town called Henley-on-Thames, which become my little happy place on earth. I carry my memories of Henley with me every day.
Thanksgiving weekend is always special because Tony’s wife (who is a caterer) researched the menu for a proper American Thanksgiving dinner. My family was visiting for the holiday, so Tony & Jill graciously hosted us at their home, which was a thatched cottage built in the 1300’s. Imagine the significance of celebrating one of our oldest traditions in a house that was older than our country. It was a meal we will never forget.
Living abroad changes you in a positive way. It gives you more appreciation for the world and different cultures. It gives you a chance to grow up and most importantly it yields memories for a lifetime. Until the day I die, I will forever be grateful for my time living in England.
I am confident that if everyone was forced to spend time living in a different country, the world would be a very different place!