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Doorway

When One Door Closes…

…stop banging on it!

The past couple of weeks, I have been dealing with some really huge emotions. I’ve gone from being positive and excited about our new life (new home, new jobs etc) to utterly miserable about the things that we simply cannot do.

It started with sickness stopping us doing something as simple as a day trip to the beach (reminding me of how often our health keeps us from doing “normal” things) and continued with a really bad month with my Endometriosis (just in time for the ten year anniversary of my diagnosis) that made it even more obvious how much my health issues have prevented me from doing.

And then it was just a slippery slope (made worse by hormones, of course) into remembering how much I had looked forward to having and raising kids, only to have to stop after “just the one“. I cannot tell you just how much my heart and soul yearned for things to be different, for another baby to be in our future, for our “baby days” not to be over. So when the Endometriosis kicked off and made me realise that not only could I not have another child, I was also struggling to do all the things I desperately wanted to do with the family we already have, it all just got a bit too much.

Of course, it all became immeasurably easier once the hormones started to settle down (!) but there was still a sadness underneath it all that wouldn’t go away. Until yesterday…

I was busy looking up quotations to send in a little book to a friend who is going through a tough time of her own right now, and I came across this:

When One Door Closes... Reflections on Life

I can only describe my reaction to this as a kick in the gut. Within those two short sentences I found so much truth that it hit me right to my core. I realised that I had been desperately banging on closed doors, like a woman possessed, for far too long. And it was time to walk away…

When I look back on my life, particularly the past few years, I can see many moments in which I chose to keep fighting a losing battle. I chose to invest far too much of my precious (and limited) energy on trying to make something happen that I knew, deep in my heart, wasn’t right. I’m not saying that what I wanted was wrong, just that it wasn’t my journey to take. And whilst saying goodbye to our dreams is very often the hardest thing we can imagine, sometimes it is the best thing we can do.

I’ve known this, at some level, for a long time. I know that I have touched upon it, more and more over the years, each time coming closer to accepting it as one of life’s great lessons. I know this, because I can look back on my blog and see what I was thinking 3 months ago, a year ago, even five years ago. This is one of my favourite things about blogging – it gives you a tangible record of where you were at each point in your life, how you were feeling, and what you were thinking at those times.

When I look back over old posts, I can see recurring themes that crop up time and again. I see acceptance – accepting my limits, accepting the realities of life, and accepting myself. I see understanding – understanding the journey I’m on, the lessons I am learning, and how this impacts on how I live my life. And I see purpose – what I feel like I’m here to do, and how I achieve that.

However, I also see myself making the same mistakes, over and over again. I realise that this time last year I understood that it’s okay when life doesn’t turn out as planned, yet I still continue to try and make everything fit into an old ideal for my life. I see that at the beginning of this year I fully embraced living a life of “surrender” in which I allowed life to unfold as it did, without desperately trying to “fix” it, and yet I find myself forgetting how to do this. And I see that, yet again, I have been trying to ignore my body’s signals that something isn’t right and I need to make a change…

I have an appointment with my GP next Tuesday to discuss moving forward with dealing with the Endometriosis. It may well involve seeing a consultant to fight for something I have been thinking about for several years now but so terrified of pushing for. It certainly means walking away from a closed door. And in many ways, that scares the hell out of me, because once I walk away, there’s no turning back.

But the reality is that this door has been closed to me for a very long time. I’ve been banging on a closed door, holding myself in limbo, waiting for someone to find a way to unlock it and let me through. Even though that will never happen.

So today, I wanted to share with you the message that is carefully working its way into my heart and helping me to move forward… When one door closes, stop banging on it! Trust that whatever is behind it is not meant for you. 

How do you define yourself?

How Would You Define Yourself?

How do you define yourself?

Do you ever think about how your define who you are?

This past month or so I have had to define myself a lot. I’ve had to create a “profile” for my CV, explain my skills on job applications forms, and express said skills in interviews. I’ve also had a journalist request a basic introduction to myself, and created both a vision and a mission for The Family Patch. Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg.

We define ourselves every day by the way we live our lives, and the things we believe about ourselves. We’re more than just the things we put on our CVs. But those things we do put out there in the world of employment and business hopefully reflect who we are deep inside.

Yesterday I attended an interview which I really enjoyed. I actually quite enjoy interviews anyway – blame it on the communicator in me, I love meeting new people no matter what the circumstances – but this one really stood out. The final question they asked particularly struck a chord:

“Imagine a few years down the line you wish to move on from employment here and I had to write a reference for you. What would you hope that I would put on it?”

Good question, hey?

Finding key words and phrases to describe the qualities I hope would shine out through my work was an interesting exercise and it got me to thinking… could I do the same thing for defining who I am as a person? So I had a go…

I’m a believer.

I don’t mean just in a religious or spiritual way, I mean I believe in the goodness of life. I believe in people – I trust people implicitly, even when they have given me no cause to trust them. This often turns around to bite me in the butt. And yet I continue to do so, it’s just who I am. I believe that everybody has the ability to be the best person that they can be (whatever that may mean to them), and that translates into an inability to suspect anything less.

I’m a supporter.

This follows on pretty much from the above – I believe that everybody has the ability to be the best person they can be, and I will support them to become the best they can be no matter what. If you look at my CV it is littered with roles which have a support element: volunteer, child carer, student support worker, information assistant, PA, team leader, manager… I thrive in any environment where I can focus on enabling others to reach their potential. Sometimes this is through leadership, other times it is through taking care of the basics so that others can focus on the bigger things (my very favourite jobs are those which combine the two).

I’m a dreamer.

I dream big things, perhaps sometimes a little too big! But I’m also a do-er. If I get an idea in my head, I cannot sit still until I have had chance to do something towards making it happen. Whether it’s jumping straight in and having a go, or throwing myself into researching my options, I just have to get going. Take my book, for example –  who on earth decides to write a book on a medical condition when they have a 3 month old baby to care for and no medical background from which to work from? That would be me, the dreamer. But also the do-er, who took no time in seeking out help and advice from those who did have a medical (or research) background, so that I could access the relevant information and check I had understood and relayed it correctly in the book.

I’m going to stop there, because it’s been quite difficult defining myself in just a few key words. And I think that’s what I’ve learned from this whole thing… we are such complex beings, with so many aspects to us, that defining ourselves can be pretty tricky! But it’s still fun to try.

There are so very many ways in which we could define ourselves. It could be how we look. It could be the genre of books and movies we like. It could be the food we eat, the place we grew up in, or the cultural traditions we uphold. I chose to focus on themes that seem to run throughout most of the things I do, but what would you choose? 

Leave me a comment and let me know how you’d define yourself, I’d love to hear from you!

The Return of Simple Pleasures

Do you remember how everything was so exciting when you were younger? It really and truly didn’t take much to make your heart sing with the sheer joy of simply doing something.

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Little Man reminds me of this daily. The way he can sit for hours just playing with the simplest of things (usually not his toys, I might add!), chasing rainbows across the floor, or falling into a fit of giggles just because someone says, “boo!”

And slowly but surely he is starting to change the way I view the world too.

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We went out for a walk today, a real treat after being stuck indoors with a virus for most of the past week. And I enjoyed simply walking around the orchard where we were, taking photos of the way the light played on the trees.

There was no purpose to this. I have far more photos of light and trees than I care to admit (shhhh, it’s bordering on an obsession!) But I did it anyway. Just because.

And it reminded me of how life used to be. Before deadlines, health issues and financial worries wore me down. My control mechanism had always been to “take control”, or rather try to at least. But therapy helped me to realise that the more I grasped for control, the more I lost. And the more “perfect” I tried to be, the worse I made things for myself.

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I “graduated” from therapy last week. After 7 months of looking deep into myself, I finally feel a peace has settled. I’ve shaken out all those areas of uncertainty, pain, guilt and fear and allowed happiness, acceptance and wonder to fill the empty spaces. And it feels good.

I have my “toolkit” to help deal with the wobbles that life throws at us all, and I feel more confident in myself and what I’m doing.

There are things in my life that require dedication, determination and sacrifice. Things like parenting, writing the HG book, and making a secure future for ourselves. But there are just as many things that provide the freedom to just express myself, no matter what the outcome.

And those are the “Simple Pleasures” I’m talking about.