Shalini’s Highlights of 2019

Try fitting in one year’s highlights into one minute. Especially when it has been such an eventful year like the one I have had!

But here is my attempt at showing you all that happened this year… And if you want more detail then take a look at some of the notes below…

I started January in Kenya welcoming the New Year dancing with my family, and then spending the last few days I had at Jezza’s Cabin in the warm sunshine before heading to freezing cold England…it was really difficult leaving this time – and I began to realise that Cranleigh, without Jeremy and Tabasco, was beginning to feel less and less like home.

In February I released my second book – Online Dating @ 40 – The Nobheads, Nutjobs & Nice Guys and I am so pleased to say that it has been really well received. It was such a lot of fun writing it – and it is a very honest, candid look at the murky world of online dating. Get your copy HERE if you haven’t already done so.

March saw me drive down to Southampton to attend the Widowed and Young (WAY) AGM. This is a truly special charity – supporting people under the age of 50 who have lost spouses or partners. I met a lot of wonderful people and have made some good friends through this charity.  I also started the Mastermind programme with Jo from How Does She Do It? – and met some inspiring women and made some friends in the process.

April was a jam-packed month with the excitement of being filmed for TRESemme’s new online masterclass Power Your Presence – with filming in London and Cranleigh – and the fantastic opportunity of being filmed by Emma Willis. On a low side, the personal challenge of having to have a small operation – which actually really knocked me for six – made me realise just how vulnerable and alone I really felt in Cranleigh – with no family around to take care of me. It was perhaps the time I really started feeling that it was time for me to move on and find “home” elsewhere.

And so in May I began to consolidate the business and prepared for the big announcement to my Jhoomers and the stakeholders within Just Jhoom! I had decided that I would be renting my house out in Cranleigh, giving away about three-quarters of my stuff and putting the rest in storage. The decision to leave Cranleigh after 19 years (Surrey after 23 years – pretty much my whole adult life) was not an easy one…but it has proven to be the right one.

June was an exciting month as the Power Your Presence masterclass became live online – and some of you may have glimpsed me on the TRESemme’s ITV advert teaching Just Jhoom! I also had another amazing photoshoot with the wonderful photographer Sian Tyrrell – and this time I was keen to really do something out of my comfort zone – and so came up with a semi-nude photoshoot. We have released some of the photos on social media and a couple of blogs – but trust me when I tell you that the best is still to come in early 2020…

Over the whole year I was lucky to be featured on so many, many podcasts; (all of which I have featured on this blog) the Huffpost wrote an article featuring me; and I was also interviewed on BBC Asian Network and BBC Surrey (twice). I was also featured as an inspirational woman on the Asian Women Mean Business website. In July I was given training to be a presenter – by the wonderful BBC presenter Lewis Mason. It was a blast and I learnt so much – so if anyone wants to give me a radio presenting job – I’m ready! I also attended an Asian Woman Festival supper club – and was so inspired by the many talented and strong women I met there. In the same month I started my new blog series – Global Inspirational Women – and have to date featured 6 women who truly inspire me for reason or another. More to come soon.

August was solely focussed on packing up the house and getting it ready for renting. This proved to be an exhausting, expensive and emotional experience. But now it’s done I know it was absolutely the right thing – although as I drove away from the house for the last time I was once again overwhelmed with grief for the losses I had borne over the last 3 years. On a sad note, I lost my ShantiPop – my uncle who was also like a father to me – this following the loss of John to cancer earlier in the year – a friend and colleague of my sister Shivani.

All change in September as I moved in with my lovely cousin Bharat into his flat in London. Although I was hardly there to begin with as I had my End of Life Doula training in Lewes, and was back and forth to Cranleigh to honour commitments I had, as well as speaking about my forthcoming book ‘Happiness! Is It A Mindset Shift?’ at the Guildford Wellness Day. On the 14th I held my last Just Jhoom! class in Cranleigh – and it was a fun-filled, joyful occasion – as we jhoomed for 2 hours – and I was lucky to connect with Jhoomers past and present, as well as team teach with the old Just Jhoom! team – Beccy and Simon. That evening 80 people joined me for a party at Cranleigh Arts Centre – to bid me farewell as well as celebrate my 44th birthday. There was much laughter and a lot of tears too. I will miss my Cranleigh family.

October started on a real high when I was invited by Lord Loomba of the Loomba Foundation to attend a dinner at the House of Lords. I will be writing for the Loomba Foundation about widow empowerment and raising issues that they face around the world – but especially in India. More about this soon. And then, I began packing in earnest for my trip to Sri Lanka – where I would be joining 15 other people as we drove tuk-tuks around the country. And what an amazing experience that turned out to be. I’m looking forward to going back and doing that again! I officially launched my new blog about my world adventures on 10 October (Jeremy’s birthday) – take a look at The Jhooming Nomad blog.

On my return to the UK in November I immediately embarked on a Jhooming Tour – visiting Instructors and Jhoomers in Kent, Northumberland, Scotland and Devon – to teach Just Jhoom! and promote my books. It was wonderful to see how instructors and their students have really embraced Just Jhoom! It is a legacy that I am truly proud of. Before I could catch my breath my sister arrived from Kenya – and a whirlwind of activities included going to see musicals, meals with friends and a fantastic night spent at the Tusk Conservation Awards – as Shivani’s colleague Jeneria was nominated for an award. We joined 600 people at the Imax Cinema in Leicester Square – and thereafter dinner at the National Portrait Gallery. A night to remember.

And then finally to December where I packed up my room in London, and flew out to Kenya to spend time with my family and friends. The first 3 weeks were busy catching up with people – but over Christmas I spent some quiet time in contemplation at Jezza’s Cabin in Nanyuki at the foot of Mount Kenya. I find Christmas a truly difficult time – because it was so very special for me and Jeremy – and without him I struggle. I am thankful that I am here at the cabin because it is such a peaceful, beautiful and healing place – and I always feel Jeremy’s presence here. And that makes me happy.

So, I sign off with a big Thank You to all the people who have touched my life in so many ways this year. If I have forgotten anyone – please do forgive me.

It has been a year of change – of endings and of new beginnings. A year that will always stay in my heart and mind.

All that remains to say as we come to the end of this incredible year is that I hope your 2020 is a year of much fulfillment, love and happiness.

Shalini Bhalla-Lucas