Updated: Jul 16, 2020
Change can be the most amazing thing in life, it can lead you on a path to a great adventure, it shakes you up and gives you a positive awareness to everything around you. So many people have said to me that they are afraid of change and I say, “don’t be”.
Change has brought me so many incredible experiences and opportunities, through my entire life. From complete career changes, love life changes, to country changes. I’ve had them all and I don’t regret the changes I’ve made. Some could’ve been easier, but I know wholeheartedly that my biggest regret would’ve been not having made the changes.
I grew up on a tiny island, Hayling Island, on the south coast of England, with only a bridge connecting it to the mainland. Island life was idyllic, with it's easy and friendly atmosphere and just like in Cheers, everyone knew your name. With village schools, shops, fun fair and pubs, wherever you went on the island there was always someone you knew. I did love the familiarity, but I was also curious about the world beyond the bridge.
My career started at a small engineering company at the age of 16, in England that’s when you leave senior school. I was basically a girl Friday, answering phones, making tea and giving messages to the men on the shop floor to sound of wolf whistles. I learned accounting, climbed the ladder and decided I wanted to work in a more fun environment.
I decided on the radio industry. This was such a great move. Working in radio really was so much fun. The job took me London’s number one radio station Capital Radio, based in Leicester Square. These were dizzy heights compared to the little engineering company on Hayling Island. When I first went to work at Capital Radio, I was nervous, but I knew they wouldn’t have employed me if I wasn’t up for the job. My boss gave me the tour of the station and I was standing on the roof of the building, with the impressive skyline of London at sunset, I knew this was so worth the change. Each morning I would arrive at work not knowing who I would be sharing the elevator with, from the DJ’s and special guests, which included bands like The Spice Girls, to actors I’d seen the night before on the telly. Then there was also sampling the food cooked up live on the air. The smell would fill the building, and everyone would rush to taste a sample.
Don’t let excuses hold you back from opportunity, it’s so easy to find numerous reasons not to try something new when your heart starts pounding at the mere thought of change. How could you possibly cope? It just takes a little positive self-belief. You have the power to push yourself out of your comfort zone and just maybe, you’ll find your new zone is even more comfortable. Travel could have been a reason to put me off. Here I was going from cycle my bike to work with my little dog, Sammy, in the front basket. To being one of the millions commuting by train and jostling for a position on the underground. I made one of my best friends while commuting. We were stuck on a snowy train station platform, laughing and commiserating with each other as we waited for a delayed train. 22 years later, we are still friends.
When you live your life with repetitive mundaneness, you can end up living with your eyes closed. You are so used to the sights and sounds of the immediate world around you, that you stop noticing them.
The biggest change of my life was coming out! I had no idea who to talk to, I didn’t know anyone who was gay. So, I decided to go to see my family doctor, who, after his initial surprise, was very supportive and pointed me in the direction of a gay helpline.
At the age of 42, I finally embraced my true self, and this led me to meet an American woman, Laurie, who completely up-ended my life. I was living in a West Sussex village and she was living in the city of Fall River, Massachusetts in the United States. Our lives were completely different, but we made an impossible connection. After just over a month of constantly talking on the phone and messaging, I hopped on a plane to Boston and we spent eight days incredible days together, learning EVERYTHING about each other and falling in love. Laurie made me feel so completely happy and truly loved for the first time in my life and I knew I could not imagine my life without her in it.
This new phase of my life came with massive changes! Coming out to family and friends, introducing Laurie to everyone I cared about. The following year we married, twice, first in the US on July 29th, 2006, then in the UK on August 18th, this way all our family and friends could attend our weddings on both sides of the pond. As we danced to “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross, it felt like all the pieces of my life had fallen into the most magical and perfect puzzle.
Laurie and I juggled a crazy 18 months of traveling bi-weekly, maintaining our families in two counties, never quite remembering in which country we had run out of toilet paper. Then, in 2007, I moved my entire life to America, more exciting change, living in a new country. Starting a new photography business with Laurie, we began photographing weddings and quickly we had a thriving business. Unfortunately, our own marriage wasn’t recognized by the U.S. federal government, which caused us many challenges. We fought for change. For the change to be treated equally under the law. Our love story gained tremendous support, from Sharon Stone, Debra Messing and Betty Buckley, to New York Congressman Jerry Nadler and Martina Navratilova, to name only a few. These great people took the time to advocate for us, along with LGBTQ allies from around the world. It was humbling and we appreciated each and every person who stood with us.
By taking a very public stand, our story reached the US Judiciary Committee in Washington DC, filed in support of the late Edie Windsor’s landmark civil rights case, United States vs Windsor, which resulted in finding section 3 of DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) unconstitutional.
This change caused Laurie to finally be able to sponsor me for my green card! What a day of celebration that was. The joy was immeasurable. Finally, our love and marriage were recognized under federal law and all because of a fight for change!
Our life together continues to evolve and change, each corner turned bringing new friends, places, experiences and we LOVE it . . . and we're ready for our next ADVENTURE . . .are YOU?!
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