It’s never too late to dream.

beauty of their dreams‘You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.’ – C.S. Lewis

It’s good to dream. As your mind takes you to a place of endless possibilities and infinite destinies a dream can be anything you want it to be. It can be a pleasurable reverie that you enjoy in the moment and let fade.

But the thoughts which lead you to fulfill your aspirations and visualize your future should never be allowed slip away.

Because a life without dreams is a life without hope.

‘Hope is the dream of the waking man.’ – Aristotle

Childhood trauma stole many things from me; my sense of self-esteem, my ability to trust and my capability to expect anything good. For many years my hopes for the future were never an issue because I was too busy trying to numb out the past and the demands of each day were worrying enough.

If you too have been brought up to anticipate the worst, or if your life has been continuously tough, you will understand how hard it can be to be optimistic about your prospects or to follow your desires.

For many years I believed that dreaming was frivolous and pointless. In fact my mantra was, ‘why bother it’ll never happen’. I was convinced this was the best way to protect myself from further disappointment and rejection. Deep down I wanted to envisage success, happiness and love in my life, but I was overwhelmed by my belief that I didn’t deserve any of it.

‘Faith is like a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is dark.’ – Rabindranth Tagore

One of the greatest revelations to me in my journey to recovery was discovering my self-worth. And if you don’t believe that you are worth it then it’s time to started to make that journey too.

For me it started with making the decision to embrace who I was on every level; physical, social, emotional and spiritual. It was a gradual enlightenment stemming from the love that I experienced when I chose to reclaim my faith.

Faith helped me to begin to love myself for who I was and for who I was not. Once I was able to love myself (and my imperfections), I could believe that in not only did my life have a purpose but that I had a right to pursue my passions. As my confidence increased so too did my ability to dream. For faith enabled me to believe in the unimaginable; to reach for the unattainable and to the dream the impossible.

‘Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.’ – Gloria Steinem

It’s not enough simply to have aspirations though. What has begun in the imagination has to make the transition into reality. Dreaming isn’t a passive past-time. It’s the active pursuit of your vision and the determined mind-set to see it through.

As someone who battled with depression and alcoholism for 20 years, I often dreamt of being happy and sober. But imagining such a life was futile until I made the commitment to change.

Achieving my dreams took courage, faith and determination. It wasn’t easy and of course there have been many challenges along the way, but the wonderful thing about setting your goals is that you can determine what they are and how you reach them. How long it takes is not important, as long as you keep moving forward.

‘Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’ – Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Know too that while some aspirations stay the same, your hopes can change too. Yesterday my dream was to reach a day when I could live without a drink. Today I strive for that same goal and it’s also what I wish for tomorrow. God willing that never change.

In sixteen years of recovery, many of my other dreams have transformed as I too have transformed.  My ‘why bother, it’ll never happen’ thinking has been replaced with the expectation for good things to transpire. My ‘barely getting by’ attitude has been renewed by anticipating abundance. My ‘I’m not good enough to deserve this’ philosophy has been superseded by the conviction that I am perfectly imperfect which is good enough and always was.

it's never too late to dreamNot every vision has to be a huge life-changing event. Little steps are just as significant. Big or small, it’s never too late to dream.

‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 

 

 

A little ray of sunshine.

you are my sunshineKeep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.’ – Helen Keller

Do you believe that every day brings the possibility for a little ray of sunshine? Or does negativity overshadow your life? Is your glass half-empty and running out fast? Or is it half-full and waiting for a sparkling refill? The choice is yours.

An upbeat attitude can bring brighten up the gloomiest of circumstances. Choosing to think positively can revive you when you feel weary, provide clarity in chaos and keep you encouraged during uncertainty And when you make a conscious decision to refuse to allow the darkness to engulf you, you keep the way clear for your optimistic thoughts to shine.

Admittedly there are some days when tragedy strikes or a huge disappointment has to be dealt with and it is impossible to feel anything but despair. That’s a natural and expected way to react to a serious life event. It’s during those times however that you need to dig deep into the warm memories from the past until the shadows of your trauma have passed.

‘Whoever is happy will make others happy too.’ Anne Frank

Some people however have a consistently pessimistic outlook that overshadows everything. Their negativity can be emotionally draining not only for themselves but those around them. My advice is to steer clear of those who continue to wallow in self-pity and misery. You don’t need that in your life.

Instead surround yourself with those who can nurture, support and encourage you. Allow their positive support to strengthen you and motivate you. Happiness is infectious, so keep near to bright, cheerful souls and catch hold of the light. 

If that sounds too simple or too good to be true, I understand. It took me many years to catch hold of that light.

I grew up in a fearful atmosphere of darkness. As a result depression and alcoholism took their hold on my life at an early age. I developed a self-fulfilling prophesy of doom and gloom. Experience taught me not to expect good from anything or anybody, so I set myself up for repeated disappointments.

Whilst I had alcohol – ‘my sunshine in a bottle’, I could manage the rejections and failures in life. But of course my reliance on a drink rapidly developed into addiction and I spiraled into the darkness of despair.

‘Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.’   Psalm 119:105

An alcohol induced suicide attempt signaled the need to give up the drink for good, yet my pessimistic self feared the worst. I couldn’t imagine how I would ever be happy again. I held on to the tiniest glimmer of hope and somehow found the courage to make my way towards the light. The light of love.

It was faith that shone the light of love in my way and helped smash through the bleakness of my life. My journey of recovery involved breaking down the psychological barriers that were keeping me in dark oppression.

I replaced each negative omen with a little ray of sunshine that came in the form of trust, kindness, hope, healing. And if you are fighting your way through some dark times let me offer each and every one of those to you too.

On those days when I feel the clouds have gathered or I’m in the midst of a personal storm I am reassured that it won’t be long before I feel the warmth of affection. Those that love Rengahenk_by_Doriahme are my little rays of sunshine. They are family and friends who illuminate my life and reveal the glittering promises of good things to come.

And it’s good to return the love. Even the smallest gestures can bring brightness to someone’s day. So follow the wise words from Amma;

‘Always have a smile on your face, kind words on your lips and a compassionate heart.’

 And you too can be a little ray of sunshine.

Image thanks to http://doriah.deviantart.com/

A Soft Place to Fall

Amanda Cass

Amanda Cass

‘I will soothe you and heal you,
I will bring you roses.
I too have been covered with thorns.’  Rumi

Life can be wonderful yet sometimes it can simply be tough. Whether it’s a broken heart, a damaged relationship, work problems, an unexpected illness or a disease that you’ve been battling with for years, there are times when everyone needs a soft place to fall.

As a mother, it’s something that I accept without question for my children.  If they hurt themselves, if they fall-out with a friend, if they didn’t do as well as they had hoped in exam – I’m there to hug, hold and soothe. Then later when we have more time I can reassure them they are not alone and encourage them to put the difficulty behind them and move on.

I do it without hesitation and for as long as required, for the knowledge that I am their soft place to fall is as beneficial to me as it is to them. They are loved unconditionally. They are wanted and needed. And so am I.

‘My heart is as strong as the depth of my scars.’  The Hurt Healer

In an ideal world everyone would grow up feeling secure and safe despite the stormy seasons, but many don’t. I didn’t either. Being abandoned and abused as a child left me searching for anything that would numb the memories and heal the scars. Alcohol became my soft place to fall, or my ‘hurt healer’ as I called it. It worked for a while but soon the drink turned from friend to foe and I was forced to make a choice between ‘addiction and death’ or ‘sobriety and life’.

The thought of losing the security of alcohol and having to join the real world was terrifying. And by that time the depression I had battled with for years had spiralled out of control. Fearful of the real world, my worry was ‘Who’s going to catch me if I fall?”  In reality I was so physically, psychologically and spiritually broken that I was at rock bottom anyway. I’d already fallen, there’d been no one to catch me and I’d never felt so completely and desperately alone.

 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’  Matthew 11:28 NIV

To get up and stay up though I had to find another sanctuary that would fill the void of alcoholism and lift me out of the darkness of my mind. Initially it was through faith that I started to find healing. It offered me a resting place of comfort, and peace. Nothing was required of me except that I stay in the presence of spirit of love. Faith was and is my ultimate and infinite soft place to fall. And even during those times when life seems like a roller-coaster of chaos and disappointment, it never lets me down.

As started on the slow process to self acceptance I began was able to leave behind the need to be critical and judgemental. Instead I choose to view myself with compassion and empathy. And rather than stay trapped in the torment of the past, I decided to forgive the unforgivable.

‘Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.’  Brené Brown

As I travelled along my journey to recovery I discovered that my vulnerability was no longer my weakness, it was a revelation of my authentic self. So I didn’t have to be confined by my past and I didn’t have to be defined by others. I found the freedom to recreate myself as the person I was meant to be.

But I also discovered that I had a new soft place to fall and that was within me.

Amanda Cass

Amanda Cass

Life will always have ups and downs, celebrations and disappointments, miracle moments and tragedies. So when times are hard make sure that you surround yourself with those who will nurture and care; inspire and encourage. Whether it’s faith, family, friends or from inside your soul, it’s always good to have a soft place to fall.

Where’s yours?

‘Smile, breathe and go slowly.’  Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Huge thanks to Amanda Cass for allowing me to use her beautiful artwork  (May not be reproduced in any form without her permission.) Take a look at her other work here: http://www.redbubble.com/people/theartoflove

Sorry.

mariana stauffer

Mariana Stauffer

Sorry. A little word with a big impact. Genuinely meant as an expression of remorse, it has the power to restore a relationship.

But how many times can someone say sorry before it becomes valueless?

If you have heard ‘Sorry’, once too often or worse still, don’t hear it all,then it’s time things changed.

‘How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.’ – Wayne Dyer

My damaging and dysfunctional childhood resulted in a complete lack of self-esteem and worth. So it wasn’t surprising that as an adult I found myself in a relationship where sorry was never spoken. In his world sorry was a sign of weakness and to preserve his perception of his superiority he would say or do anything but apologize.

It didn’t matter how abusive he became, it was always someone else’s fault. Actually it was nearly always my fault – I was too sensitive, too intense, too controlling, too critical. And even when I would feel brave enough to confront him about his name calling and put downs, I would be accused of having no sense humor. But believe me, there was nothing funny about the verbal abuse and his unreasonable demands.

Thankfully I started to challenge my own victim mentality and realized that although he wasn’t going to change, I could. Finding the courage to make the transition from victim to survivor, I learnt that the responsibility for my happiness lay with me. And I grasped a truth that was the catalyst for my healing –  you can ‘t change other people and you can’t change the past. But you can choose how you react.

Of course I did want to hear ‘ I am sorry and I shouldn’t have behaved like that’ or ‘I won’t treat you like this again’ and ‘How can I make it up to you?’, but I didn’t need to hear any of it, in order for me to make a decision about my relationship.

For those of you who have the opposite experience of someone who apologizes all the time only to carry on hurting you time and time again, remember that ‘sorry’ can be the last thing they say before you walk away.

‘Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate — thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising.’ – Maya Angelou                          

As I learned how to define my boundaries, and to hold others accountable (myself included) I realized that it was also important to maintain a sense of serenity whenever I was offended. For me, a peaceful soul keeps me joyful and positive whatever my circumstances.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, people do act thoughtlessly and cause harm. But a heartfelt apology from a place of love can heal the deepest wounds. Sometimes a simple ‘Sorry’ is enough, but you may require something more. Sincere remorse and a willingness to make amends are all steps to restoring trust and love.

Whatever is spoken or promised however, what really matters is how the person behaves afterwards. When it comes to apologizing, actions do speak louder than words.

‘Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble’ – French proverb

I love the gentleness of that statement and the sentiment of remembering the positive rather than the negative is how I would like others to view me. Nobody is perfect and when I mess up and say things I regret, I want to be able to say sorry and for my mistakes to be forgotten and forgiven.

Mariana Stauffer

When I say sorry it means I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. It means I didn’t intentionally want to cause offense and I want to make amends. It means I am hurting as much as you. and I don’t want either of us to feel that way again.

When I say ‘Sorry’ I mean it. Do you?

Huge thanks to Marianna Stauffer for allowing me to use her wonderful and inspiring artwork  (May not be reproduced in any form without her permission.) Take a look at her other work here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/malorcka

Travelling light.

vintage-luggage-winona-steunenberg“The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. What is grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.” ~ Lao Tzu

Take a look at the baggage you are carrying around with you today. If grief, resentment, pain or regrets are weighing you down then it’s time to unload.

When you’ve suffered disappointments or been left disillusioned by love-ones it can be hard to move on. The shock, denial, guilt, anger you can experience as a part of grieving are natural for a time, yet if you don’t progress through those stages it is all too easy to become trapped in the past.

But life is about living in the present and anticipating the future. You can’t do that if you are carrying the baggage of yesterday into today. And when difficulties arise they simply add to your luggage of psychological pain. It gets heavier and you become encumbered.

Instead of embracing each day afresh, you return to the same mental battleground. You replay the same scenarios or repeatedly hear the same negative thoughts, only to be hurt yet again. Your bags are stuffed with rejection, shame, bitterness, jealousy, mistrust, apathy, confusion, anger, fear. In fact they can be filled to the top but it doesn’t matter, you find another bag and carry that too.

“Live, so you do not have to look back and say: ‘God, how I have wasted my life.’ ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

I spent years carrying the baggage of my childhood abandonment and abuse. I carried them for so long that they became part of me. Where ever I went those bags came with me, because the loss of my mother and abuse by my father were all I had to define me.

Instead of using those traumas as stepping-stones to a better tomorrow, I used them as a prison wall. Instead of taking each day as an opportunity to restore and renew, I added to my pain. Instead of living my life as the person I wanted to be, I lived as a victim of my past. Not surprising then that depression and alcoholism became my coping strategies to help me carry my emotional load. Until they too become too much to bear.

Like many who have gone through life clutching on to the baggage of trauma or tragedy, I realised the damage being caused physically and emotionally. However, not only did I not know how to let go, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to.Because the prospect of change was so terrifying.

I had dragged those issues of rejection, abuse, depression, alcoholism with me for so long that I couldn’t imagine being without them. My fear of the future overwhelmed the familiarity of my existence. And what a terribly dark existence it was.

The truth was that all I possessed defined me as a victim. When I finally crumbled under the pressure of my past, I knew deep down though that I had to make the choice to give up or get up.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

The only way to move forward was to throw away all those things that held me as a prisoner of my past. I was so weary. I’d had enough of it all. Still it was only when I hit rock bottom that I turned to faith.

It wasn’t easy, but I gave myself permission to hand over everything that was harming me. Gradually over time I released all the pain and fought the demons that had troubled me for as long as I can remember. Faith taught me that I didn’t have to understand why I had endured such trials and that there was nothing I could do to change the past.

Acceptance of what had gone before helped me to begin living in the day and start looking to the future. Then forgiveness provided the key  that set me free to clear out all the baggage. With my lightened load I could  reclaim my life and fill it anew.

Now I have a faith-filled heart full of hope, love, joy, and trust. I continue my journey in sobriety with gratitude and serenity. No longer burdened by yesterday I choose to appreciate today whatever it brings and eagerly await tomorrow.

And that is what I would wish for you. Don’t let the events of the past keep you from enjoying the future that awaits you. Put down those bags crammed with destructive negativity. Leave them and don’t look back. You don’t need them those things any more. .

liberty-london-suitcasesTime to find some bright, new vibrant luggage and fill them with everything that can bless and fulfill your mind, body and soul. Those things that nourish and uplift are weightless.

Believe me, it’s time to start travelling light.

Miss you.

miss you“Even though you’re always in my heart, I long for you to be with me today.” ~ The Hurt Healer

As the seasons in our lives change, so do the people. Transient relationships that are meaningful in the moment can disappear into our past without detriment to our selves. As quickly as they transpire, so someone new takes their place. People come. People go.               Life moves on.

 

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”     ~ Aristotle.

Then there are those relationships that you wish could last forever. Everyone has someone who plays an intrinsic part in their life. There is a bond that you never want broken. There is a uniqueness that you never want to share. It’s special. It’s precious. And it’s all yours.

Unthinkable then that one day you may have to live without your kindred soul. Unimaginable that you may have to go through each day without the one that filled your heart. Yet it happens. It doesn’t really matter how, because the outcome is the same. You have lost a part of you. And you will never the same again.

But even though that person is no longer present doesn’t mean they are gone completely. You can’t be with them but you can sense them. You can’t touch them but you can feel them. You can’t talk to them but you can hear them. What a comfort to know that whilst the physical relationship has ended, your deep connection continues in the spiritual.

“True love stories never have endings.” ~ Richard Bach

Sometimes it takes me by surprise when I start to miss someone whose existence has long passed from my life. The heartache has ceased but still the emergence of the memory of that special one can bring reminders of the agony of my loss.

        “Even though you’re always in my heart, I long for you to be with me today. Maybe it’s because I’m facing a season of change that I wish you could be here to share it with me. I miss you more than anyone can imagine. 

Strange though that missing you reminds me of just how far I have come. In those dark days, the lack of your presence would have fueled a cloud of despair and kept me in a depth of depression. No matter how hard I tried to numb the pain, your absence was an endless void.

           Now I can dwell on your memory and know that it’s because you went away that I found my strength. It’s because you left that I could find out who I really was. And I’m grateful not only for what you were able to do for me, but for what you were not. You have helped me become what I am, but that doesn’t stop me missing what we might have had if only you had been here.”

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ~ Psalm 73:26

Thankfully I have a faith that not only comforts and heals, but gives meaning to my life. You need all of these things when you’re heartbroken. For when there is nothing you can do in the natural, it is the spiritual that must relied upon.

Making that connection didn’t come easily for me, because I blamed God for the loss in my life. It took time to learn how my anger and bitterness was misplaced and that God had been with me through the tears. My pain had been His pain too.

heaven and loveGently and tenderly faith restored my brokenness and replaced the emptiness with love. It healed me of the past, gave me meaning for each day, and the assurance of a hope-filled future. But most of all I have the promise that the one day, I will be reunited with the one I love and no longer will there be the need to say ‘ Miss you.’

Thank you to Kim Sisto-Robinson whose fabulous blog My Inner Chick, written in memory of her beloved sister Kay, inspired me to write this post.

Who do you think you are?

happiness“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Are you happy being ‘you’? Do you have confidence in yourself and your abilities? Or have you become your own worst enemy by believing what others have labelled you?  So that instead of living your life as you the person you were meant to be, you are simply a reflection of someone else. If so, it’s time to find out who you really are.

I’ve always had difficulties with my identity. Being abandoned by my mum as an infant left me growing up with extreme insecurities about being unloved and unwanted. It changed how I perceived myself and the thought that I was worthless was reinforced by growing up with an abusing father. My dad defined me in terms that reflected his misogynistic attitudes,which as a child I accepted as truth. There was no-one else to tell me otherwise.

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” ~ Maya Angelou

It’s wasn’t simply the amount of derogatory traits that were attributed to me that caused the damage, it was the lack of anything positive or encouraging. The result was that for many years I really didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to say or do. I didn’t know what I liked or didn’t like. I didn’t know what I wanted out of life. Because I didn’t know who I was.

All that I knew was that I didn’t want to be me. I wanted to be someone else. The onset of depression in my younger years held me trapped in the view that I was never going to be pretty enough, thin enough, clever enough, confident enough. I was never going to be good enough for anything or anyone.  I lacked so much, yet everyone else seem to have what I desired.

So to numb the pain of the disappointment in being me and to help to manage the idea of being me for the rest of my life, I turned to alcohol. And for a while it worked. It gave me the confidence to be indifferent to my failings and took away my fears for the future.

Unfortunately, self-medicating led to addiction and over time the depression and alcoholism took over my life.Together with my lack of self-love I existed through others and allowed relationships to continue to define me. All to my detriment.

“True happiness is living life authentically.”                                                   ~ The Hurt Healer.

Perhaps you have also allowed past events to define you, or perhaps you used to feel you knew who you were but somehow your sense of self has disappeared over time? You can take on so many roles which meet the needs of others that your true identity is overwhelmed, leaving you mourning the loss of who you used to be,whilst your dreams and hopes have been abandoned.  Whatever your circumstances, maybe it is time to give the real you a chance to shine.

The turning point for me was a complete physical and mental breakdown. I could no longer go on existing as a product of my past. Enough of the fake smiles that covered the heartbreak. Enough of the false mask of confidence that hid the fear. Enough of the pretense. Enough of the uncertainty.  I had had enough of it all.

It was time to reclaim my life and find out who I really was. It was time to listen to my inner voice, nurture the child within and allow my authentic self to emerge. And in doing so I found out that I was everything I thought I wasn’t and a little bit more.

Refusing to enable my past to have power over my present, I was able to allow the real me to emerge. Initially the fears of who I had become revealed my rawness and vulnerability,, but over time my confidence and self-worth grew. No longer was I controlled by others.  No longer did I compare myself to others. After all the years of believing otherwise, I was okay being me.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14

fearlessWith faith as my guide, I allowed my mind to explore, my heart to love and my soul to bloom. Faith taught me too that I am valuable and precious. And that even my failures have a purpose. My weaknesses have become my strengths and my imperfections have become my uniqueness.

Something I could never have conceived in those dark days was that I was ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ But to today I think am.

What about you? Who do you think you are?

Who cares?

catherine jacobs 2“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” ~ Margaret Mead

The world is so chaotic. Depression, suicide, and addictions are increasing world-wide at a rapid rate. It shows that people are hurting and feel alone with their pain. But why care?

Because even if you feel you can’t change the earth, you may be able to change somebody’s world.

“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda

No matter how small your gesture, it can make a difference to someone. A smile costs nothing but it may just brighten someone’s day. A sympathetic ear can help someone feel that they are not alone with their problem. An offer of help may give someone an extra boost to achieve their dream.

It’s not important how you show you care, as long as you do. For when you do, you initiate a chain of kindness that is passed on to others and it is this collective caring that helps to change the world.

Sometimes though it isn’t the lack of care that is the concern, it is the ability to receive it that is difficult. If you’ve experienced rejection you can be left with a lack of trust that forms a barrier to accepting any level affection.

I went through many years convincing myself that I didn’t want anyone to care for me out of pure fear that I would attach to their love only to have it ripped away from me. And even believing that someone would want to care was improbable. How could anyone care about me when my own mother had physically abandoned me and mentally killed me off in her mind?

Yet I did need someone to care. I needed it desperately. Whilst I was too terrified to take the risk to reach out, it was impossible for anyone to reach in. The combination of depression and alcoholism constructed an emotional barricade that was impenetrable.

“The walls that you build as a safeguard are the same walls that will in turn isolate and imprison.” ~ The Hurt Healer

Unfortunately my mental fortress served only to trap me further in my own cycle of despair by restricting me to living each day based only on the my experiences of rejection and abuse. Worse, it prevented any chance of allowing healing or restoration.

There was only one way that I was going to ever be able to be helped and that was for the walls to come down. Of course this was an inevitability that I hadn’t the courage to face, and so it was my mental breakdown that resulted in the collapse of my barriers. As they came crushing down, my vulnerability was exposed and I waited for the end of my life to come.

But it didn’t. Because someone cared. Professionals stepped in and there were friends who stood by me. They cared for me when I was unable to care for myself. Over time I learnt how to renew my boundaries in a positive way. Life stopped being simply a battle against the bad, and became a home for the good.

“Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.” ~ Psalm 62:8

Most importantly I found a faith that cared unconditionally. I realised that God cared, and that He had done all along. When I was willing to receive the love that had been waiting for me, I was then able to heal.  And as I handed over my past, present and future into the security of His hands, so I found the refuge I had longed for. Today I am safely in His care. 

We all need someone to care for us. But that love needs to be rooted in truth. And it needs to be given freely. If someone is showing you that they care only to want something from you in return, then it isn’t genuine. Steer clear.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”  ~ Dalai Lama

catherine jacobsIt bothers me that so many people are hurting and nobody seems to care. Yet I know that the best way to feel cared for is to care for others. Doing something kind for someone makes you feel good too.

So in answer to the question ‘Who cares?’                                                 I do. I care.

All rights reserved. No part of these images may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission of Catherine Jacobs.

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I love you.

untrue love“There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.” George Sand

Love is a word that is seen and heard everywhere. It is used freely to describe emotions and feelings. It conjures up romantic notions and lusts. Yet there is so much more to love than just a sentiment which makes you feel good.

Of course it’s wonderful to make people feel wanted and needed through words that are encouraging or compassionate. But when you use the words ‘I love you’, it can take the relationship to a completely different level. Those three little words aren’t just a statement of affection or admiration, they can be the ultimate declaration of attachment and loyalty.

When you tell someone you love them you are investing your heart, mind and soul. ‘I love you’ should never be spoken lightly. In my own life I have found it very difficult at times to express my love or receive it. Because I never wanted to feel so desperate, lonely and unloved as I did when I realised my mother had abandoned me forever.

“The love you seek is seeking you at this moment.”                                                              ~ Deepak Chopra

My thinking was that if I didn’t allow anyone to love me and if in turn, I didn’t love anyone then I couldn’t be hurt again. But I did hurt. And the more I used alcohol to numb the pain, the more I distanced myself from ever being able to love not just others, but myself. And so too will you be distanced  further from what you truly desire if you try to avoid loving or being loved. A loveless life is merely an existence void of real joy or happiness.

So when I reached the point that existing was no longer an option for me, I started on my journey of recovery. If you have ever been on that journey you will know how vulnerable and raw it can be. Not to mention terrifying. But it is worth it. You are worth it.

Through faith I experienced a love that forgave everything I had been, accepted me for who I was, and helped me believe that I could live a life of value and worth. Most importantly it taught me that I needed to love myself because it was only through self-love that I could truly extend that love to others.

“Love one another.” ~ John 13:34

It wasn’t easy but I had to learn to look at myself and say ‘I love you’, before I could declare it to anyone else. Even now I have to admit that I am much more at ease at telling those I care for deeply that I love them than reassuring myself. But the reality is that you can’t give away what you don’t have, and that includes love.

illusionAs well as needing to be loved, we need to love others. For me this means not just speaking of love, but showing it. Gifts, tokens of generosity or sensual actions are all ways to demonstrate love, but just as important are respect, empathy, commitment and authenticity. ‘I love you’ can then have huge impact and meaning.

I am so grateful that today my life is filled with friends and family that I have genuine love for and who reciprocate that love time and time again.

My message to you is as always, ‘I love you.’

Untrue love’ and ‘Illusion‘ images thanks to the fabulous talent of Boryana Gold   http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BoryanaGold

 

Miracles.

denise“Everyday holds the possibility of a miracle.” ~ Elizabeth David. 

What’s your definition of a miracle? An unexpected and unexplained blessing? An extraordinary healing?  A life changing event?

Of course what constitutes a miracle for me, may be something that is quite usual for you and vice versa. And I have to admit that I have previously been pretty sceptical about miracles. Mainly because I associated them with unbelievable instantaneous incidences and also because I had never considered the possibility that anything so wonderful could ever happen to me.

                        “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:10

For anyone who suffers with low self-esteem or lack of self- worth as a result of trauma or abuse, the ability to anticipate positive results or expect good things is seriously impeded. I know that  years of rejection and abuse had a massive effect on my own perspective on life, causing chronic periods of depression and alcoholism. I never felt  good enough for anyone or anything. I didn’t dream of the future because there was no point. As for the chance of a miracle, no way.

Yet as I started on my journey to recovery I learnt that it was through my weaknesses that I could find my strength. Faith helped me to heal by accepting my past, not by trying to deny it. Everything that I had previously held as a truth about myself was confronted. With time and courage I grew to let go and let God help me discover the real truth.

And that was a person who was so much stronger than she ever thought she was. A woman who could reclaim her life to become the person she was meant to be. And if you’ve been in that dark place or are still struggling, be encouraged. You are stronger than you think.

“Hope is the companion of power, and mother of success; for who so hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles.” ~ Samuel Smiles

I know the amount of healing and hope I have received through my faith. It  has brought me to a place of freedom and happiness in a way that I could never have dreamt. For many that would be a miracle, me included.

let goBut over the past few months, I have experienced a new level of miracle in my life and as  I am very protective of my family it’s with a little hesitancy that I am revealing this.

Fifteen years ago I met my husband in England and we moved back to his native N.Ireland to the village he was born and raised in. I had recently found my faith in a pentecostal church whilst my husband had grown up a Catholic. Many of you will be aware that a mixed relationship like this is still very taboo in many places in N.Ireland, so I agreed to support my husband in his choice of faith and become part of the Catholic community with the proviso that I could still maintain my own form of worship at home.

When we decided to marry, the priest was reluctant and advised us he could not bless or conduct our marriage. So we went one day to a registry office and became legally married. No wedding day as such, but my husband and I agreed we could do that later on.

As time passed a wedding day didn’t really seem to matter because we were blessed with two gorgeous daughters and anyway the priest was still not going to change his mind and my husband was still a catholic, as were our children.

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~ Matthew19:26

A few months ago though, things began to change. Although I was quite content with where I was at in my life I started to feel distracted. I had an urge to move on to a new level. It’s hard to explain but I knew that something significant was going to occur but I didn’t know what. All I knew was that I had no control over what was going on.

All sorts of serendipitous incidences started to occur with a synchronicity that I could only explain through faith. I became aware that every day brought an unexpected blessing. And whilst I was totally grateful there was always that little doubting voice from the past reminding me that I didn’t really deserve all of this goodness.

So I decided to challenge that voice once and for all. So much of my life had been stolen, so much of my life had been ‘make do’, so much of my life had been willing to accept just enough to get by. Well, no more. I refused to listen to it for one more second.

Then came the miracles! Out of the blue my husband talked of not only a blessing but a wedding vow renewal and for the whole family go to England so that my friends could attend. And then he suggested we have a non-catholic service. Exciting ideas except that practically and financially it was impossible.

Except it wasn’t. Within a few hours we had found the perfect church, the perfect pastor ( a charismatic vicar who happened to originate from a few miles from where we live now), the ideal venue for a small reception, and beautiful accommodation. Amazing friends helped with the arrangements long distance. Wonderful friends locally offered us gifts and money to cover the costs.

Yet still more extraordinary events were going to take place. My own faith was being stirred up and I knew that I needed to return to the fellowship of my  church. But how could I attend without abandoning my husband and children? Take them with you, was the answer. And by a miracle, I did.

My children joined me and embraced the youth ministries. My husband stood by my side and after attending for a few weeks gave his heart to God. They have left their religion to find their faith and our lives have changed forever. It’s not just me moving to a new level, it’s my whole family.

P1060121And the reaction from our community? No insults or rejections. Just acceptance and kindness from every corner. Another miracle.

I walked down the aisle on the arm of my lovely faith-filled husband, in the presence of my cherished daughters and loving friends to have my marriage blessed and renewed. It was precious for so many reasons but all the more fulfilling because of how it happened.

I appreciate that many might not see these events as anything out of the ordinary, but the point is that miracles are everywhere and can happen every day. You just have to recognise them.

The greatest lesson I have learnt over the past few months though is to start expecting more. I need to stop limiting myself and allow God to do what he wants to do in my life, because it’s going to be infinitely more than I can ever have imagined.

Well that’s enough of me for the moment. I would love to hear of the miracles that have taken place in your life. And if you don’t think you have experienced any. Think again. There is no one else on this earth like you. You are a miracle.

Top image thanks to the fabulous Denise Wandt at Naturally by Denisehttp://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/NaturallybyDenise.                                           Bottom image thanks to the talented Sunni Chapman at Mimi and Boo http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/mimiandboo All rights reserved. No part of these images may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission of Sunni Chapman or Denise Wandt