Nadia ‘at peace’ with Jimmy split
The seemingly never-ending COVID lockdown for Melburnians has been an unexpected blessing in many ways for Nadia Bartel as she rebuilds her life following her painful break up with ex-husband, former AFL player Jimmy Bartel.
The devoted mother of Aston, almost 5, and Henley, almost 2, says she's "at peace" with things and trying to make the most of the simpler existence.
"I'm happy, I'm in such a good place at the moment," Bartel says.
"I actually feel like COVID, for whatever reason, maybe it was meant to happen, because we're all meant to slow down. But I feel for me personally, it's actually been a good thing. I've really gotten into my fitness, I've really connected with the boys and recharged.
"I think it's been really a nice time to refocus and just almost sit and be at peace with things and just focus on that.
"I was a spiritual person before lockdown but I think being in lockdown and having more time to focus on that, I've probably become a lot more spiritual and a lot more focused on breathing techniques and meditation and I really love all of that and I'm passionate about all of that. It's been fun and good to focus on something else."
Bartel, 35, is also counting her blessings when it comes to her fashion label, Henne, which has flourished this year despite the global uncertainty.
"We were so lucky because with Henne as it is, it's all about pieces that are very wearable, ribbing and casual pieces that you can dress up," Bartel says. "We were really lucky that when COVID first hit, because we're such a nimble business, we could change and swap out the dressier items because we work so close to market and we bumped back in all our knitwear."
While she does the bulk of work from home, Bartel has had the benefit of seeing and working alongside her sister, Michelle Ring, who is a partner in the business and one of her best friends.
"With my sister, we've got a work permit so I've seen her from time to time for work. I'm still working quite a lot but I'm doing it obviously mostly from home. I'm so lucky," she says. "Henne has been the one thing that has taken my focus because that hasn't stopped. I think having all of that and having my routines with work, even though I've had the boys, it makes it easy because you feel you've got purpose when you wake up in the morning."
Juggling work and young children as a single mum is hard at the best of times, but Bartel concedes the strict lockdown restrictions have made the situation more challenging. But she says one benefit has been Aston and Henley's relationship has blossomed thanks to the extra time together.
"They spend time with Jim for one night a week and then another day, so they see him for a few days, and on those days it's sort of handy because I can obviously get all my work done but apart from that they've been with me the entire time," Bartel says.
"It gets challenging at times, fortunately the playgrounds have now opened up. They've been good, I think they've connected and they've got that little bond as well because normally Aston would be at ELC, but he's been with Henley the whole time.
"So they've been pretty good actually, they're pretty happy and we've got our cubby here and there's a bit of space for them to do different things every day."
Bartel says it's been a relief that the sale of the St Kilda West home she once shared with Jimmy - and still lives in with her sons - has been put on hold because of real estate restrictions.
"It was hard because it went on the market as soon as COVID started so it's been a bit of a difficult time because you can't look through houses at the moment. So obviously no one's looked through the house in a very long time, but we are selling the house."
She's hoping to find another house in the same area.
"Definitely, I hope to stay in the same area because my parents live in Middle Park and my sister's around the corner and I love this area."
While the intense lockdown period has had its benefits, Bartel says she's ready to focus on something fun as we head into spring.
She says being appointed this year's Melbourne Cup Carnival ambassador could not have come at a better time and she can't wait to get into more glamorous racewear.
"It's been a really nice time to recharge, but I do think that we're all ready for something like the Melbourne Cup Carnival that we can get excited for. It's a thing that just brings everyone together, there's so much excitement. I'm really glad we're still doing it and we can still enjoy it and everything that we love about the carnival is still going to be there," she says.
"We're going to be doing it from our front lawn and everyone this year is going to have a ticket to Cup Week, which is pretty exciting. It's going to be very inclusive, which is great.
"I'll be at home with the boys, but I've got a really beautiful front yard. I might have my one person over, my bubble person. I was just chatting with a few of my girlfriends and we were thinking about doing a little Zoom set up.
"I'm ready to get dressed up, I'm so over the whole activewear and loungewear. I'm actually so excited to do my hair and make-up, put on some spring colours, put on some heels."
Bartel thinks the new digital Myer Fashions on the Front Lawn competition will inspire more people to enter than ever.
"You know a lot of people actually want to get involved in Fashions on the Field, but it's something they may feel is a bit hard to enter.
"So I think it's pretty cool that we can just do that from our home and have a little bit of fun with it.
"It's something that I look forward to every year and I think it's fun to still do all of that and be really involved with the traditions."
She's planning on her boys getting in on the fashion action as well.
"I'll put them in something cute. I would have loved to take them to Stakes Day. They're really into all sport and they love watching the races, sometimes I've got the horses on in the background and they're really into it."
Once the lockdown is lifted Bartel is looking forward to catching up with her friends in a cafe or a bar.
"I just think going to a cafe on a Saturday or Sunday and ordering avo toast and having a coffee. I mean, just going to a cafe with a few girlfriends or even a bar and ordering a drink, would be amazing," she says.
"Seeing people and being together is what I'm really looking forward to more than anything, and in the future, travelling as well."
She says she's really missed her close network of supportive girlfriends.
"I think we're all very in tune with mental health and what everyone's going through and in these COVID times, more than ever. You see that on social media as well, you really see people are offering their support to people they don't even potentially know that well. But even with all of my group of friends, everyone is making sure you're OK," she says.
"If you know that someone might be alone, like a lot of my single friends are in the same position as me, I'm just making sure there's continued contact with them as well because it can get quite lonely in this time. But I think we're all aware of it and everyone's very supportive.
"We've obviously had some of the strictest restrictions here in Victoria so I think we've really bound together. We all know what we're going through because we're all doing exactly the same thing. And in one way with COVID that's what it's done, it's levelled everyone out to be in the same position."
Bartel says she has learnt much about herself over the past 18-months, but more particularly from life in lockdown.
"I guess just enjoying life and enjoying the simple things, not overthinking too much and just enjoying what's in front of you. And just how lucky we are even just to have our health, you see all the crazy things happening and I'm just so lucky to have my boys, and they're healthy and happy," she says.
"It's really just focusing on those simple things that make you happy."
Originally published as Nadia 'at peace' with Jimmy split