Tristan Fahey is an entrepreneur in the Health & Beauty world, a marketing consultant, an author, a single mum, a lover of health, fitness & the outdoors, and a practicing Christian. After a very ‘normal’ & uneventful childhood Tristan has come face to face with repeated challenges and traumas throughout her adult life. Her choices to forgive and rise above, and her determination to move forward through the traumas that have helped her unlock personal growth in every situation and freedom and peace as the foundation of her strength.
This is Tristan's story:
My diary entry from January 2003 included a list of dreams for my life. One of them reads “to live in abundance of spirit no matter what my circumstances”.
Looking back at that diary entry 17 yrs later seems incredibly strange. A goal I wrote way back then, which in hindsight has propelled me forward as I have navigated life’s twists and turns.
Let me introduce myself. I’m an entrepreneur in the Health & Beauty space, a marketing consultant, an author, a single mum, a lover of the outdoors, a fitness obsessive, a health nut and a Christian.
I turn 53 this year, and I’m totally convinced someone got the dates wrong, because I’m sure I was 39 only a year or two ago!
I don’t see myself as someone particularly outstanding, but I do know I was born to have an impact in this world for good.
This is my story from one of many angles I could choose. My desire is to tell my story with raw honesty about some of the choices and decisions I have faced, but also to share some of the powerful seasons of growth that have come from life’s darker moments. I hope you are in turn inspired to make your own impact for good in this world.
I’d describe my upbringing as very ‘normal’. A close family with 3 siblings, parents who were very much in love, strong work ethic, high moral standards, firm discipline, constant encouragement and a solid foundation of faith. Nothing particularly remarkable. Nothing particularly traumatic. I can see that I grew up in an environment which equipped me with a strong sense of belonging, self-worth and personal capability. “You’re capable of achieving anything you put your mind to” I recall my father saying.
My adult life
My adult life however, has involved some pretty major personal traumas and challenges each of which have shaken my very foundation in a different way, but there is one universal truth; the person I became after the experience was stronger, more aware of self & others, and more capable than who I was prior. There are so many lessons I’ve learnt along the way – too many to share here – but two things really stand out for me. Firstly, I can never remember adopting the stance of being a victim, choosing instead to stand tall & secure in who I was (I put that down to my upbringing and my faith). Secondly, I always chose to move forward through the pain instead of getting stuck inside it or consumed by it.
It was New Year’s Eve 2010. The house was dark. The household was asleep. Within the hour, the clock would strike midnight and a new year would be born with all its opportunities, mundanities and challenges. I was sitting on my favourite lounge, feet up, glass of wine, a bit of music…and my book of business ideas. I was quietly excited, as I usually am on NYE, anticipating whatever life had in store for me in the year ahead, and seeking clarity and direction for the following year.
My 1yr old and my 3yr old were thankfully asleep. My husband – in the depths of suicidal depression – also thankfully asleep. I distinctly remember feeling a sense of anticipation as I sat waiting for the new year to tick over. I had just been through 10 major traumas in 10 years, including a near death experience after my car ran under a truck, the honeymoon from hell, the diagnosis and eventual passing of my beautiful mum from a brain tumour just as I was having my family, the loss of two babies and various manifestations of mental illness & abuse, including incidences such as being abandoned late at night on a dark country road, locking myself in my bedroom at home, and police being called to our Paris hotel while on holiday. Little did I know at the time, I was about to embark on several more difficult years.
There were of course many precious and joyful moments during this time, including the birth of my two truly amazing children (now almost 11 and 13) and the birth of my two businesses, Longjump Marketing & Rubifresh Skincare 10 years apart. I remain grateful, daily, for so many blessings in my life, and the opportunities which have crossed my path.
As I look back to that NYE in 2010, I realise that life was actually really hard.
I had two pre-schoolers & a depressed husband on the verge of suicide. I was trying to keep his business alive as well as my own consulting business. I’d lost my mum only two years previously, and the hole she left in my life seemed so huge, especially at that time. And I was just climbing out of my own experience of mild postnatal depression. Yet while I know these were my truths, my recollection of this December evening on the lounge waiting for the clock to tick over into a new year, was of a great sense of optimism that something new & fresh was just around the corner. It’s an important distinction in my approach to life – I do worry, I do wonder ‘why?’, I do dig to find understanding…but I err on the side of optimism and forward movement, rather than wallowing. Life’s hard at times. It’s just the way it is…for all of us. I look at that quite pragmatically, and I believe that helps me rise up from the muddiness and pain of life and keep moving forward instead of remaining stuck.
That December evening
That December evening, as the clock struck midnight, the partially formed idea for my second business Rubifresh literally rose off the pages of my ‘business ideas book’ and slapped me in the face. “This is the one!” I sensed in my spirit. In an instant I felt a great sense of purpose and a vision way beyond myself being birthed. Two years later, the business was ready & launched. It was the culmination of years of hard work and great passion. A small start-up business with a big vision to shift a whole industry…to create a new language of beauty, to seed the notion of ageing gracefully, and restore women’s belief in their inherent beauty. There was also a new sense of congruence between my life purpose and my work that made it clear to me that this was something I had to birth.
One week after Rubifresh was launched, trauma struck again.
My father-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and during his final 10 months, I’d pack up the kids every Friday night and we’d drive the 3hrs to stay with him for the weekend, returning home just before midnight on Sunday night before we began another week with its own challenges at home. The week before his father passed away, my husband sank once again into deep suicidal depression. 7 months later, against medical advice, he refused to take his medication, and 6 weeks after that he snapped, walking out on the kids & I in a flurry of anger and abuse, cutting us off financially, and eventually taking me to court, first to try and take the kids from me, and when unsuccessful at that, took me back to court to try to take my house. There’s a lot of detail I could go into about this season of my life, however what’s important is what I learnt from the experience, and what I believe got me through.
Let’s be really honest here. There were times…many times…when I didn’t think I could even breathe, let alone get to the end of the day. The pain was so very deep, the confusion very real, the safety of me and my family not assured…and nothing of what was going on made any sense. At various times I was forced to seek the help of the police, domestic violence specialists, counsellors and solicitors. These days the situation is less intense, yet there are still challenges in the relationship. People used to say to me “I don’t know how you do it – you’re so strong”…but I say, how do you NOT put one foot in front of the other…especially when you have to turn up every day for your kids? I truly believe we all have this strength inside of us. The strength to choose to move forward through our situation, or to be swamped by it. I did make the personal choice to keep moving forward, but my choices around this time were also based on some very good advice from people around me. Loved ones would repeatedly say to me “be the person you want to be, don’t get sucked into mirroring someone else’s toxic behaviour”, so I chose every day to RISE ABOVE…SHOW GRACE…RISE ABOVE…SHOW GRACE. Believe me, it was a choice, not a feeling. I knew with absolute certainty that I didn’t want to become an angry separated woman. So I kept thinking, what do I need to do to make sure that happens – and I chose it. Everyday. I chose grace. I chose my reactions. I also chose to forgive. Forgiveness is the choice we make to gain personal freedom. We hurt no one but ourselves by holding onto unforgiveness. We may need to choose forgiveness everyday afresh. But ultimately, it will lead to freedom and peace.
Over the past 6 years
Over the past 6 years I have gradually, persistently, determinedly, pushed forward with that goal in mind. Who do I want to be, and what do I have to choose now in order to make that happen? My choice to push into God, rather than blame Him has been critical to that journey.
Today I know real freedom because I worked hard to gain it. I’m not talking freedom from a person or a situation. I’m talking freedom in myself…deep down where I live. Today I am healthy in my mind because I chose grace and forgiveness. I am fit & healthy in my body because I made it a priority. It makes me feel great about myself and gives me the energy I need to live a great life (and keep up with my 10yr old son!). My spiritual life is deeper and stronger than ever. And I know & accept myself better than ever. None of this came easily. It takes consistent, persistent hard work, allowing yourself to feel the deepest pain and then choosing to move through it to find who you are on the other side of that pain.
I think through life, the experiences that have really scarred me are the ones in which I’m on the receiving end of disappointing or unjust human behaviour. Those experiences tend to floor me, and I have to work really hard to climb back out of the pit to see the light. I think possibly because my optimistic nature sees me look at people through optimistic (and sometimes overly trusting) eyes. I just believe everyone has authenticity and kindness inside them, and although I’m now in my 50s, I seem to be a slow learner in this area. Some people just don’t act out of goodness or kindness. Ho hum. Full stop.
It's interesting how sometimes various parts of our life take time to converge into something that is truly congruent with who we are. Two years ago I had a real shift of growth – moving out of my past, and looking forward into the new. All legal battles had been fought well and won. My kids were in a happy place. I was in a new relationship. Business was thriving. It was in this time when the strength I had gained on my journey allowed me to make a shift in my skincare business that better embodied my truth and the foundation of many of my life experiences. I shifted the business from playing in the ‘beauty space’ to being more of a Health & Wellness brand. I hadn’t had a background (or much of an interest) in the beauty industry, yet I had created a brand that played in that space (albeit with a skin health message). The shift to Health & Wellness was consistent with my science, fitness, food & nutrition background, plus my broader approach to health beyond the skin. Rubifresh Skincare became Rubifresh Wellness, and I added wellness events and inner health products to our offering. My proudest moment in this shift was launching our Skin Fresh Skin Health Workshops for teen girls. SO much fun and a great way to impact the next generation of girls!!!!
Time to write the book
At the same time as all this was happening, I decided it was time to write the book I had wanted to write for years. They say you are the most productive when you’re busy, and that’s certainly true for me. I struggle to be productive when I have too much time or not enough focus, so planning has been a really important part of my work life, especially important when I’m trying to be effective at both parenting and business. It was the newfound congruence between my personal journey and my business life that provided the real impetus for the book. Living Well & Ageing Gracefully was published a year ago. It is not only a beautifully presented book (thanks to my niece and designer), it is also a melding of my personal life vision, my own journey, my expertise, and my great desire to see women thrive in their own skin. I felt I had finally gained enough experience and expertise to share that with the world. I teamed up with a book coach who essentially poked and prodded me to get all that content out of my head and onto the pages.
I’m so proud of that book. But I’m prouder of how I have handled the bumpiest parts of my life journey so far. My hard-earned inner peace from making the tough choices to rise above and move forward. My incredibly strong and rich relationship with my kids, that developed from putting them first in everything. Prioritising my health and fitness, as well as the depth of my faith have all been the difference between life and death. I am forever grateful for my journey.
So in summary…some of the guiding principles that keep me moving forward in this crazy life I’m living…
KEEP MOVING FORWARD
ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL THE DEEPEST EMOTIONS
KNOW WHO OR WHAT YOU PUT YOUR FAITH IN
LIVE GENEROUSLY…EVEN WHEN IT’S HARD
GET TO KNOW YOURSELF AND LIVE OUT OF THAT AUTHENTICITY
CHOOSE GRACE - BE KIND…ALWAYS
Written by super mum, captivating author and self-made business woman, Tristan Fahey
Owner/Founder of Rubifresh Skincare & Wellness
Contact her: email@example.com
Check out: www.rubifresh.com.au