My Story – Chasing Change
If I was to give this as an ice breaker speech for Toastmasters it would take 4 to 6 minutes… that is how long it takes to get an insight into me!
With the title of my talk ‘Chasing Change’ I don’t want you all thinking this is about cutting out coupons or hunting down the back of the sofa to find lost pennies. I’m going to talk about a tough subject for many, books have been written regarding ‘coping with change in our lives’ but for me, I feel change in my life has been exhilarating, exciting and inspiring bringing both highs and admittedly some lows.
I will tell you about 3 of those changes. But first let me tell you how I learnt to be a chaser of change, let me tell you about the greatest Chaser I know, 1st generation change chaser for me – my Father. At the age of 50, Marketing Director of Rank Xerox, father of 3, (yours truly being the youngest), he announces to the family that he was ready to retire, put our family home, in the suburbs of London, on the market and move to deepest darkest Wales (a tiny country on the side of England). To a plot of 7 acres to start the ‘good life’ a life filled with a house cow, ducks and chickens. His enthusiasm was infections, the simplicity of his idea exciting. Yes possibly naïve but at the age of 13, I swapped my private school, the family nannies and chauffeurs for a pet pig and learning to drive a tractor. We were excited for the adventure that was to unfold.
By the time I was 19 I wanted to chase change by myself and chase it I did – straight back to London to be the youngest premises manager known to the 5th largest advertising agency in world. I ran their many buildings round London, had a staff of 30 to manage the kitchens, conference rooms, offices moves, offices parties, and much much more – change brought excitement yet again.
My second chase was into the arms of my life partner, my husband, award-winning British magician, comedian and speaker Keith Fields. Personally for me as a married women now Sarah Jane Harfield, I enjoyed the change of removing the hyphen and apostrophe in my name! (I was born Sarah Jane O’Brien-Gore). Plus starting my own business in the world of e-commerce. For Keith at that time, change came (not only being married to me of course), in the form of his career expanding to theatres, comedy clubs, TV shows, and the world of comedy celebrity. If that wasn’t enough we embarked on having a couple more partially formed adults, by having Oliver and Felicity our now 26-year-old and 24-year-old son and daughter. Our eldest son, Matthew had found his own change now with a wife, children (our grand children) and a home in Wales.
This leads me into my 3rd example of how life has moved on. Several years ago we had the opportunity to pursue a whim, an idea, and found ourselves in front of an immigration lawyer who told us how, the likes of us are called ‘Aliens of Extraordinary Ability’ and there is a visa for folk like us. We may have to wait a minimum of 18 months to be approved, and we may only get a visa for a year we were told, but ‘hey let’s put the papers together and see what happens,’ we answered. After only 6 weeks we were informed that we were in fact acceptable to you Americans as ‘Aliens of Extraordinary Ability’ and that we could come and live in the USA. We packed up and moved within 5 months, leaving loved ones behind – an aspect of change that is not so exciting or exhilarating.
The start of our journey in the USA for me personally, meant embracing new challenges and adventures in the form of selling my e-commerce business in London; tapping in to my #eccentricbutmature side with becoming an author. Yes I am rather proud of Delicious Delectable Sauce by Lady Sarah, illustrated by Emma Johnston-Donne and inspired by my Father; then we started to perform TOGETHER in educational programs such as Krazy Clues – Be a Leader. And starting a comedy magic dinner theatre – Lady Sarah’s Magic Soiree.
And lets not forget that Keith has also written, designed and produced our new theatre show, A Brit of Magic.net. Oh yes and then there was learning a whole new educational system for Oliver and Felicity; a new tax system for our businesses. The list goes on, its not easy moving countries, plus professional abilities being challenged as not only is he asked to entertain in theaters, or for corporate clients but now has to add a motivational entertaining message. Of course Fields is still inventing magic tricks sold purely to the expert magician.
Our visa turned into Green Cards for all, which turned in to duel citizenship (no we cant give up on The Queen), so change for Oliver and Felicity results in the opportunity of working, living, studying anywhere in the USA and Europe. And the next generations of Change Chasers takes over.