Make Life Happen Graduate – Danielle Tolhurst
Danielle Is Running Her Own Show
One Sunday in January 2015, project manager Danielle Tolhurst ran eight miles. She felt great: happy, healthy, focused. The next day, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and told she needed a mastectomy.
Suddenly, a different challenge revealed itself. One she decided to tackle head-on.
2015 was a big year for Danielle. Along with the cancer diagnosis, she turned 50 and was at a career crossroads having taken two years off to care for elderly relatives.
She was running on empty and admits to being at a “low point” in her life. It was crystal clear that something had to change so she signed up for a taster session with The Leading Ladies Company.
More than two years on, she has conquered cancer, run a half-marathon and set up her own business.
Danielle, from Bowdon, said: “Seeing Make Life Happen online was a sign. At the taster event, I just clicked with Amanda and knew that I had to spend time on myself and register for the full programme.”
With her successful treatment progressing, Danielle caught a glimpse of how her future could look.
She added: “The most powerful exercise for me was based around the LIPSTICK principle Imagine. Amanda asked us to write down what we wanted to achieve over the next year and then imagine how we’d feel if we succeeded.
“One of my goals was to run the London Marathon. Amanda gave us permission to dream big and put ourselves in that mindset. I felt comfortable expressing those dreams with the other ladies, nobody was going to say to me ‘Don’t be daft, where will you find the time and commitment to train?’
“The fantastically supportive atmosphere at our meetings made it normal to think big which is powerful in itself.”
Danielle’s post-surgery recuperation meant she swopped the 2016 London Marathon for the equally as demanding Wilmslow Half-Marathon, but her big dream is still in the picture.
“I was very lucky,” she said. “I had a mastectomy and breast reconstruction which went really well. I had a few complications afterwards so running a marathon was a challenge too far last year but it will happen!
“Whatever distance you run, you are putting yourself out there, pushing your body and striving to achieve – whether that’s 5k, 10k or 26 miles.”
Another new perspective that Danielle has embraced is Passion and Purpose. Working as a teacher and trainer – and a stint at a high-end jeweller – were enjoyable but she knew her true passion lay elsewhere.
“In my 30s, working was all about paying the mortgage and looking after my son, it was a way of paying the bills,” she explained.
“In my 40s, I lost myself a little. I felt I didn’t know my purpose and didn’t have a passion. Finding time to identify your passion is hard, you have other obligations and distractions, but it’s so important.
“Amanda made me face these questions through some amazing exercises that I would never have thought to do by myself. Now I’ve found my passion and am working hard to make it a success.”
Danielle launched her shiny new business Loving Homes early in 2017. She offers a home design service improving function and form through renovations, building work and décor overhauls. She also advises on downsizing and decluttering, and can stage homes beautifully to prepare them to go on sale.
What was once a hobby has naturally evolved from a vision into a growing business, one with both passion and purpose.
“I firmly believe,” said Danielle, “That if you focus on what you love, money and success will come. I have faith that this will happen. If you don’t take a risk you’ll never know – what’s the worst that can happen?
“Now, even more so than before, I won’t take sloppy seconds in any way, shape or form. I know my value and know that I have the skills to earn what I’m worth. It’s an exciting time.”
Danielle has graduated from the Make Life Happen programme with a support network of new like-minded friends, as well as the tools to help her existing friendships shine.
She said: “My fellow Leading Ladies have definitely made an impact on my life: supporting each other is contagious! I’ve also solidified long-term friendships. Your true friends will be in awe of the programme and be spurred on to make their own changes.
“I couldn’t have done what I’ve done in the last three years in terms of personal fitness, the mental challenges from ill health and setting up my own business without the belief and support network of my wonderful girlfriends.”
And now Danielle is up and running again, she can reflect on her journey with The Leading Ladies Company.
“Make Life Happen is life-changing,” she said. “You have to put your heart and soul into it. It is challenging, it will push you, it will make you emotional and question things from your past.
“Go into it with no expectations and an open mind, try everything and see where it leads you. Some exercises will stick, some won’t, some will be more challenging, some will be easier and come naturally to you.
“Be genuine and authentic in your communications with others and yourself – you’ll only rob yourself if you don’t.”
And Danielle’s advice to anyone considering joining the 2017 Make Life Happen group? “Do it! It will be challenging and some tasks will be tougher than others but you’ll discover amazing things about yourself, meet some absolutely awe-inspiring ladies and create a fantastic support network.
“The most powerful lesson I learned from Amanda is that anything is possible. You can dream big, you can set the bar higher. You should believe in yourself and shed that old cape of comfort. Just fly and go for it!”
Inspired? Read all about the Make Life Happen programme here