I’m not totally clear on the definition of a Kindred Spirit but I think I’ve just met mine.
The best way for me to describe Gina is as though at some point in my life, and I can’t pin precisely when, I had a sliding doors moment. I went off and did what half of me wanted to do, and Gina went off and did the rest.
While I lived out the ladder-climbing European Nomad stuff, Gina went to teach English in Japan, met her future husband and they travelled the East together. To keep funds flowing for their travels they set up Global Groove Life and eventually settled in Thailand for fifteen years to raise their children, living a richly multicultural life.
Gina is the half of me that never was.
And just at the exact right moment, we both appear in each other’s lives…
Written in the stars
Looking back on the past four to five years, it’s as though they had been scripted out for me on purpose. Various pillars of my life collapsed in swift succession and I was taught so many valuable lessons that I would have otherwise completely overlooked. It all led to a switch flipping in my head, a true light bulb moment, and encouraged me to press the reset button on life.
I’ve stopped to think about what I want, I’ve opened up the doors to spirituality and I’m really looking hard into the mirror to understand who I was and who I want to be. And it’s all been building up to this moment.
A couple of months ago I started toying with the idea of setting up a consultancy and the whole purpose of it was to help conscious brands grow, but the one thing I saw as a stumbling block was the experience of actually working with this type of business – so I decided to put it on the burner for now.
Then, a few weeks later, I was browsing WorkAway.info looking for my next volunteering adventure. My preference was somewhere East but actually my hunt settings were on global, and all I really wanted was something that didn’t involve cleaning and stayed in line with doing good stuff to be a better me.
I followed up with two potential opportunities, but neither of them lead anywhere…. then I stumbled upon Gina’s profile:
Sawadee kaa and greetings from Chiang Mai! We’re a cross-cultural co-creative community content-house building content for our socially responsible Bohemian and Yoga Lifestyle company. We design and develop Fair Trade products with ethnic minority groups in Thailand and Nepal.
At this point, Thailand was never particularly high on my hit list and I knew nothing about Chiang Mai, but something in my gut told me it was right. I knew this was it.
And so that’s why I got goose bumps when I walked through the front door. I didn’t feel overwhelmed with excitement nor did I think oh god what have I done, but what I did get was that stomach-settling feeling of being home.
A genie will appear
While all of this was going on with me, Gina and her husband Greg were making plans to relocate to the UK with their two children, Kai and Deva.
The family have already moved over to get settled in Oxfordshire while Gina has stayed behind to manage the existing volunteers and work out what’s next. They don’t want to sell the business, in fact, quite the opposite, they want it to stay here, and they want it to grow.
It’s a new chapter for their family and also for the brand and they were hoping for somebody to come in and give the place a bit of a strategic direction. They were also wanting that person to be based here in Chiang Mai to oversee operations but weren’t quite sure if they’d find anybody or how it would all work out. Then while she’s visiting suppliers in Nepal… my message comes through.
And this is where our fates collide.
If fate doesn’t make you laugh, you just don’t get the joke
We’ve hit it off straight away and it’s quite baffling how alike we are in many ways. If I’m thought of as a whirlwind then Gina’s a tornado; we both get so excited about things that we talk over each other, go off on hundreds of tangents but always come back to the original purpose of the discussion. We love people and understanding what makes them tick. When she has a vision in her mind, I see it.
At the same time, we’ve got enough differences to balance us out – and two circles that overlap makes the perfect team.
While we were driving into town this morning for breakfast, she turned and coyly asked how I feel about sticking around. I burst out laughing. I knew in a nanosecond of walking through that door that I wanted to stay.
I’ve gone from having zero responsibility and being totally incapable of looking after my own mobile phone, to heading up a fair trade lifestyle brand in a new city along with a house, a dog, two cats, a lovely cleaner called Anna, multiple artisan suppliers and a continuously changing group of five volunteer workers all living and working under one roof.
What’s Thai for JACKPOT?