Come on inside gorgeous ones, sit down, and pull up a pew.  I wanted to take a hot minute to introduce myself to you, tell you a little about who I am and what I do, before we hop in at the deep end and take the plunge to explore all things pleasure, joy, bliss, happiness and empowerment and the absolute ultimate in lifestyle by design.  

Before I was a blogger/writer and full time pleasure seeker, I was a corporate lawyer for a Fortune 500 company.   Okay okay, that's glossing, it was slightly more shadowy than that: I was a in house lawyer for a tobacco company.   And yes, in answer to the questions in your head, yes, it's almost exactly what you imagine it to be, perhaps more so.  However, arguably, for me and my kind, those scandal-loving and scoundrel lawyers of the world, I was at the top of my game.  Successful career, edgy industry, challenging work...you know the drill.    For so many of us, that is that crack cocaine that sustains us: money, success, ego and status.  

Well, it is, until it absolutely isn't.  And I was at at the top of my game.  Until…I, very suddenly, wasn’t

Burnout came knocking on my door a couple of times, quietly at first, then slightly less subtly in years to come, before it really ripped the rug out from under me in 2015, and I wound up in intensive care, unable to breathe with severe pneumonia in both lungs.   Aha, yup, tobacco lawyer, lungs - I get it.  You can laugh, I am okay with that.  The irony doesn't escape me either.  Don't think I haven't heard all the jokes by now.  The biggest joke though was on me. 

This time it was the real deal, I had burned out so hard I almost didn't make it, and as I lay there staring at the ceiling, just off the plane from a gruelling work trip, gasping for air in the Emergency Room, thinking it was about to be lights out for good,  I realised two things:

1. I was totally fucking alone; and

2. I had spent 15 years striving, stretching and grasping to become something I couldn’t stand, and let me tell you this: career and success is a cold comfort when you think you're going to die and there is no one to hold your hand. 

Your career is not going to give you a cuddle as you say Goodnight Irene for the last time is it?  It's not going to tell you, as doctors stick a tube down your throat to reinflate your flailing and failing lungs, that you haven't totally wasted your precious time on this planet, and that you will survive another day.  No, I assure you, it's not.  No one in that room was saying that.   All I knew was that I was cold, alone and flapping about like a goldfish out of water in that ER, and we all know what happens to Flipper after too long.  But there it was, the moment of truth, smacking me in the face (or chest actually) so hard, with such velocity, there was no way I could ignore it this time.     

At that time in my life, I can confidently say, I was separated from most forms of genuine happiness, personal pleasure, and I think ecstatic joy was something I think I read about once.  I had lost all sense of self.  I was driven primarily by shame and status, and was caught fast in a vicious cycle of trying to balance the two, while maintaining a flawless exterior of professional and personal perfection.  Trust me when I say I did neither well, but I kept the balls kind of in the air, so 10 points for trying right?  

For a while before that fateful moment, I had felt a strange bitterness creeping in, like the slow creep of long black cloud settling in for the Winter.  I was no longer able to smile that face cracking smile, and laugh that throaty laugh of happy abandon, the one I remembered from more carefree days.  More and more, I simply sought solace in anything external to myself, anything that delivered a little bit of pain with the pleasure, and kept me occupied on something other than what was going on inside me.  If you can name it, I'll bet you I have had it: sex, drugs, booze, food, shopping, I even managed to somehow co-opt health kicks and spirituality into the mix.  Although let's be honest, the latter never lasted long.  They weren't painful enough for the sado-masochist running rampage inside me.  

This rollercoaster was to be the hallmark of my professional life in my 20s and 30s, the ultimate imposter syndrome permeated most days/weeks/months, and I was without doubt a woman with a deep sense that I would never ever be good enough.   In any sense.  These thoughts though, sad as they were, were then promptly filed under "get the fuck over it, and get on with it", whilst I simultaneously scrambled around to ensure that what the world saw was some kind of fantastic projection of what I wanted my life to look like: Facebook-able, Instagramable perfection.  Nothing to see here folks, just the best life ever, having a fucking blast, move on....

But this, of course in the ultimate of cliches, begged the age old question: if I wasn't some kind of hot-shot, geared up, highly paid corporate whore selling my wares to the highest bidder for the cost of working in an industry that had the social conscience of a sewer rat, then who the hell was I?  Beats me. Probably not very much to be honest.  I certainly wasn't a good person, was I? 

And that friends, was the problem.  I was so busy trying to hide what was on the inside, I had completely lost track of who I actually was.  Let alone who I aspired to be, what I yearned for deep down, or what REALLY made me tick.  Lit up was something that applied professionally not personally. 

So, as I lay there on the gurney, probably with my ass hanging out of one of those insanely glamourous gowns, caught between the underworld and the world as we know it, I knew in my soul, something had to give.  And fast. 

So I made myself a promise.

I would put myself first.  I would change.  This time for good. 

So, I quit my job, sold everything I owned, and took off to find all the things I had discarded in the name of money and status.  I ran headfirst into the most wild and crazy personal soul quest seeking out something life changing from all corners of the globe, and chased it relentless for two full years - just me, my suitcase and my heart.  From Bali to Marrakesh, to Florence by way of India.   I searched long and hard to find all the bits of my soul I had abandoned throughout my life, and I tell you darling, you cannot imagine the joy that you will experience when you find them.  Each piece feels like a little bit closer to coming home to the house you always wanted.  Your truest self.    

My own soul quest story is a little like what I imagine Eat Pray Love would have been if that gorgeous woman Elizabeth Gilbert had been single for most of her life, on the verge of being an addict to just about anything that could be considered consumable, liked to party (really) hard, was a self-destructive alpha female and worked as a lawyer for a tobacco company.   Sex drugs lawyers and rock n roll.  Or some kind of life like it.  

What happened next is something not even I could have imagined, and to learn about all that, you're going to have to come on inside my world, let me show what I have collected and curated for you along the way, and see if we can't find a little of the same magic for you.   Take my hand and together let's find what lights you up.  On the inside.  

I can't wait.  

All my love in everything that's to come.  

Miss Cook