• Eleni Kirby

Getting to Know Me

Thank you so much for taking the time out to read my blog, I thought it would be good opportunity to share little bit about us with you.

My name is Eleni Maria,

I was born in what was known as the breadbasket of Africa… Zimbabwe in a place called Harare. I come from a family of four, my dad Phillip, my mother Sophie, and my sister Angeliki but we called her Kiki as not everyone can pronounce it, like my name too however its great to hear all the varied pronunciations.

We are half Greek, well actually ¾ to be precise. Our dad is half Greek and our mother was full Greek and then as you can imagine being Greek, we have a very big extended family, lots of cousins, lots of aunties and uncles, and you pretty much related to everyone who is Greek. Family is everything to us and I seem to have had the same hair cut as my dad at some point in my life.

The first 7 years of my childhood were wonderful and so memorable, that even when I talk about them today my heart just lights with joy. We lived in a beautiful home opposite a golf course in a very small town. My sister and I were very fortunate as our parents gave us the best life possible and made sure we were never short of anything and were always there for us. There are 5 years between us…. I am the younger one! We always get asked are you twins?

My sister and I were very fortunate as our parents gave us the best life possible and made sure we were never short of anything and were always there for us. There are 5 years between us…. I am the younger one! We always get asked are you twins? Or who’s older?! Or are you older…. It could be all the wrinkles from not washing my makeup off at a young age after nights out… or at least that what my sisters tells me! I do wash my make-up off now by the way.

My dad was a precision machinist, a director of a company and fortunate to us my mum stayed at home and took care of us along the side of making the most beautiful cakes. She was always around to take us to our outside school activities and the most supportive mum you could ask for. We as a family were very close. My dad had a big love for cars and my mum had a big love for her garden, cakes and fashion. The one that I won’t forget was our family car, a yellow Mercedes Benz which was a left-hand drive, most cars in Zimbabwe were right hand drive.

I love all things fashion, being in the sunshine, by the sea, going on holiday, spending time with my loved ones, and lots of self-care. I love to help all those around me and I will always go the extra mile.

The town we lived in was called Gweru. We had such a wonderful strong community and to this day even though we are spread all over the world we all still keep in touch. Its pretty special.

When I was 7 years old our mother unfortunately, died to lung cancer, it was one of the hardest and painful things I have experienced in my life, and to be honest, I don’t think I will ever get over growing up with no mum. My dad did the most wonderful job of raising my sister and I are even to this day we are still very close.

Life has been challenging and extremely hard growing up without a mum and I will write around grief and the impact that this has children soon.

Zimbabwe was hit with a political crisis and we left when I was 15 years old and moved to Bradford-on-Avon in England.

I completed my final year at school here which was a huge eye-opener and made me appreciate my school back in Zimbabwe. I then went on to do a hairdressing apprenticeship and worked in two amazing family-run salons before pursuing my dream of working on the cruise ships as a hairdresser. Whilst working on the ships I met my Little Lady’s father. I left my job working on the ship and returned to England. I wanted a career break change for a while so I decided to take on a role as customer service agent for a mobile phone company.

We stayed together and had a long-distance relationship for a year and then I moved to Greece to join him as he did a year of National Service in the Navy.

A year of being in Greece, I did a some mobile hairdressing and then found a job working at an English Travel Agent. It was time for him to join the ships again to which I left my job and sailed with him. We were desperate to have a family and always said we would have 5 children, I guess us both being Greek we were used to big families. We got engaged and 2 years later welcomed our little girl…. My Little Lady Sophie into this world.

Becoming a mother has been the best gift in life and I am truly grateful I have got to experience this, prior to having Sophie we did have a miscarriage early on and after loosing my mum and being a mum to Sophie is so important to me. I don't always get things right but I do my absolute best to.

6 months after Sophie was born our relationship faced some difficulty and we ended up splitting up. In respect to our daughter and to him, I will not be sharing this. I returned to the UK where Sophie and I have lived for the last 6 and a half years and made it our home. The last 6 and half years have been challenging, hard and heart-breaking. Like all families, we have our challenges, but we do our best to work through them and be the best parents we can be, however it isn’t always easy and has come with a lot of heart break and lessons.

Sophie and I live in the beautiful Cotswolds, we have a beautiful home which we were truly blessed with.

I returned to working life in 2015 after being off for 5 years in our local supermarket it had been such a long time since I had a job so it was a real shock to the system, becoming a mum, and then our family splitting up really knocked my confidence. I remember I used to go hide in the aisles in case I saw any one I knew.

After 12 months I gave that up to go and help my sister in her business. She has a Life Coaching Business. I was her Personal Assistant. I had never worked in this line of work before so I learned alongside on the job.

Unfortunately, 10 months later she was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma Cancer. After losing my mum and my grandma who we never meet to cancer this came as a real shock and was very surreal. We continued the business as normal alongside chemo, her getting married and Sophie's dad getting married. Everything all happened at once and when I look back now it was a bloody crazy time but I got through it.

In the first 4 years of my little lady's life, she has been through so much and really is an absolute trooper. She is now 7 years old. I can't believe I have a 7 year old. She has bought so much love and light back into our family after we lost my mum. She is a real gift and such a child of God. She inspires me to be the best person I can be.

No matter how challenging life has been, we cry and let it all out, we push through and continue to have fun and live life to the full. Losing my mum at Sophie’s age has made me realise this year and especially with COVID that life is so short, and we have to make to the most of it. Life is a gift. We get one life, often we can’t change what’s transpired but it’s important to look forward and trust that there are always much bigger plans for us.

My sister is now almost 3 years in remission. I still currently work for me for her as Business Operations Manager, dog walker, personal shopper, cook… only jokes. I am her Business Operations Manager. I still love doing hair dressing and have kept up with it.

I have a half-written book on Self-worth, a journey which I have struggled with. I haven’t quite plucked up the courage to go any further... however watch this space and lastly I wanted to have my own blog.

One of my dreams was to always go to Disneyland and meet Minnie Mouse and I got to share this experience with my Little Lady in 2017 before three months before my sister was diagnosed. We always used to watch the Disney Parade on the TV and wished we could go but living all the way in Zimbabwe it wasn't quite possible. BUT dreams do come true, so don't stop dreaming!

My family has and will always be at the heart of whatever I do. We all live within 5 minutes of each other we facetime around 10 times a day. We are all very different, very opinionated about each other's lives and amid the craziness, there is so much love that flows and we always have each others back.

I have a great brother in law who has fitted into our family and always makes so much time for Sophie. She loves having sleep overs with them.

Before I end off I want to introduce to you a very special person, a real superhero, the rock that holds us together… my daddy… Phillip... Papou which means grandad in Greek.

This man is a true example that whatever happens in life never give up. He lost his mum at a young age, lost his wife, brought two little girls up, moved countries, and started all again with nothing but two suitcases. He has helped me to raise Sophie, he is always there for each of us, he can fix anything, has so much knowledge sometimes a bit too much! But we adore him. He always has such a positive outlook on life and really is so special to us.

So that’s us. Me and my Little Lady Sophie and my crazy family... well the immediate side...

Until next time x

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