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That was unexpected! Six major influences that affected my path in 2023

That was unexpected!

This year has turned out nothing like I expected – in both good ways and bad.

I started the year with clear intentions for both personal and business growth, but everything went out the window very early in 2023 and the year took a completely different path.

It’s a reflective time of year and I’m a reflective type of person.

In this blog I’ll share my personal story of six major influences that had a big impact on my life in 2023.

1. I lost my brother

The wheels came of my well thought out 2023 bus very early when my brother, Mark Andrew Rowen, passed away in February.

Mark had been through 9 years of cancer and horrendous treatment for it, so we all knew that day was coming. It didn’t make it any easier though.

I reflected in a blog post at the time how exercise helped me get through that difficult period.

Writing that article was also cathartic.

However, my grief did trigger a period of poor mental health.

2. Getting help with poor mental health

Grief progressed to profound feelings of unworthiness and low self-esteem. I don’t know how.

I had the insight to realise these beliefs about myself were holding me back from being happy and fulfilling my potential, but I had no idea what to do about them. I needed help.

Getting professional help with my poor mental health this year has been a major game changer.

I had counselling with a psychologist and worked with a mindset coach.

A big lesson in 2023 for me is that mental health takes planning and effort to maintain, just like physical health.

I take great care and organise my life to eat well and exercise for my physical health.

Throughout this year I’ve developed new habits to have better mental health too.

3. Listening to podcasts while driving

This might seem like a weird thing to list as a major influence on my life this year, but this small change of habit has had a massive impact.

People would often tell me about the great podcast or audiobook they’ve been listening to, and I would scratch my head and think to myself, ‘when the hell do people listen to podcasts?’ or ‘when the hell would I listen to a podcast?’…

Like many people, I spend a reasonable chunk of my life behind the wheel of a car.

But I was squandering that time getting impatient with other drivers holding me up by going under the speed limit. This often meant yelling my frustration into the void, which is a pointless thing to do.

I always listened to the radio in the car, trying to hold on to some youthful trait by tuning into triple J.

One day it dawned on me that I could listen to podcasts in the car and this has changed my life in the best possible way.

I’m learning so much from the podcasts I follow and get frazzled with the traffic only occasionally.

4. Epic trip to Europe

What can I say about the European trip with my partner, Pete, in the middle of the year?

I shared some of it in a blog post about it being a break from regular exercise routines but still very active.

I had a couple of issues to work through before embracing this trip though.

It was originally planned for 2020 when my life was completely different. I had a full-time job as a chemistry lecturer and was simply going on leave to take the trip.

Three years down the track when we could eventually go, I was still in the start up phase of my fitness business and having to shut it down for five weeks to skive off to Europe.

On top of that I was grappling with low self-esteem and feeling like I didn’t deserve to be going on such a holiday. I was racked with guilt.

With the help of coaching, I changed my mindset about the trip and approached it from a place of adventure and gratitude. It truly was a trip of a lifetime!

5. Deciding to get married!

Pete and I have been together for a long time (almost 7 years!), but we have never lived together.

Until this year, the longest time we had spent together was three weeks on an awesome trip to England in 2019.

Compared to day-to-day life, we had a lot more time for conversations during the five weeks we spent together in Europe this year.

The idea of getting married had only been broached in a vague way before, but we actually had a chance to discuss it more seriously when it came up while we were away.

The conversation continued upon return, and we decided soon after that we would tie the knot.

We’ve announced our intention and it’s very exciting, but have no idea when it’s going to happen yet 😊

6. Reviewing health and fitness habits

I could probably write a several articles on this factor alone, and I will pick up some of the points I make here in blogs next year.

The best podcast I’ve found since I started listening this year is ‘The Proof’ with Simon Hill.

It’s about the science of health, nutrition and exercise and I highly recommend it.

Through this podcast I came across Dr Stacy Sims, researcher, co-author of Next Level and an absolute legend whose mantra is ‘women are not small men’.

If you’re an active woman in perimenopause or post-menopausal, you simply must read her book, sign up to her blog/newsletter or follow on socials.

I am making changes to my nutrition and exercise routines based on what I’ve learned from Dr Stacy Sims. I’m still learning and will share more about things I’ve implemented in due course.

Having had some struggles with mental health this year, I’m developing a mindfulness / stillness / meditation practice. Call it what you will.

I’m not quite doing it daily, but most days I take time out (20 mins) to be still and focus on breathing.

That’s it. It’s very helpful.

Unexpected influences on personal growth

These six major influences that affected my path in 2023 certainly included things I’d rather not go through. But they have all contributed to significant personal growth.

I was recently asked to pick one word that would describe this year for me.

I chose journey. This year has taken me on a journey – literally and emotionally.

And I have grown.

Free resources at

Did you know that I have a bunch of FREE resources on my website?

I’ve developed them to help over 50s get started or return to exercise.

You’ll find a workbook with 10 things to consider when you’re considering exercise.

There’s a home workout that requires no equipment.

And TWO video series. One to help you develop a daily warm up routine. The other provides tips on how to care for your pelvic floor while you workout.

So much goodness available for FREE!

Click the link to check them out.

Keep in touch

Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.

You can email me at or connect via social media.

I’m on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

You can have a read of my previous blogs here 🙂

This blog was written by

Kate Rowen's avatar

Kate Rowen

A photo of Kate Rowen

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I wish to acknowledge and pay my respects to the traditional custodians of the land where I live, work and exercise, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation.