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

 

 

 

 

Love your life.

life kathleen tennant

Life – Kathleen Tennant

“A new day: Be open enough to see opportunities. Be wise enough to be grateful. Be courageous enough to be happy.” Steve Maraboli

Life can be tough. And if you’ve ever had one of those days, that turns into one of those weeks it can be to hard embrace the new day and be happy. Everyone has difficult times and whilst it’s essential to your overall well-being to feel your emotions, but it’s also crucial to have some balance. You have to love your life too.

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

I spent many years battling the depression and addiction that defined my existence. Whilst my circumstances had a huge part to play in how I felt, the fundamental issue was that I didn’t know how to enjoy my life because I didn’t how to enjoy being me.  

Somehow everyone else seemed to have life that I could only dream of, because I was never good enough. And it was that principle that fueled the cycle of negativity and the belief that I could never love my life because deep down I felt I didn’t deserve it.

Loving your life means loving yourself. It’s having the reassurance that you are okay, even when everything and everyone else around you is falling apart or in turmoil. It’s accepting that you don’t have to be perfect, and that your imperfections are part of your uniqueness. It’s being at home with yourself, wherever you are.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ~ John 14:27  NIV

Having a strong sense of self-worth and confidence in your own abilities will also help during those times when life has become chaotic because of the actions of others. When your world is impacted by someone else’s bad choices it can be hard to find a sense of peace.

But even though feelings of frustration, anger and resentment can be overwhelming, it is still possible to find some calm in the storm. There may be nothing in the physical you can do to change the circumstances, but you can take control through the spiritual.

When you dig deep with all the power your mind and soul can muster you can find a place of peace. As soon as you refuse to give into the darkness, the light will reveal itself.It may only be the slightest glimmer. But a glimmer of light means hope. And even a flicker is infinitely better than no hope at all.

I know what it’s like to feel completely hopeless. My rock-bottom pit of depression and alcoholism was a very dark place indeed. It was filled with turmoil and torment that raged through my spirit and crushed my soul. Exhausted and desperate I couldn’t imagine that I could ever find peace.Yet I did.

I found my serenity by focusing on the tiniest speck of light that gave me a whisper of hope. That little speck of light was faith. And whilst I would have loved that glimmer to have had the immediate effect of a firework, it didn’t. I wasn’t suddenly cured of my difficulties in a spectacular blaze. I simply allowed the light there was, to gently glow like a candle to my soul.

As the light grew so did my understanding and my acceptance. I realised that life wasn’t meant to be only good or only bad. Life is made complete through the complexities of pleasure and pain. And it is possible to benefit from both.

So now I intend to play the game of life, being receptive to whatever comes to me, good and bad, sun and shadow forever alternating, and, in this way, also accepting my own nature with its positive and negative sides. Thus everything becomes more alive to me. ~ C.G.Jung

The game of life isn’t about spending each moment in an unrealistic state of euphoria, although it’s fabulous when everything is going great. Celebrate, rejoice and look forward to more of the same!  And remembering those happy times will help reassure you will see the rainbow after the rain. Because sometimes trouble doesn’t gently drizzle down, it crashes through like a hurricane.

Believing that all things happen for a reason can help keep you positive in the hardest of situations. If I look back at some of the difficulties I have encountered, whether it be abuse, betrayal, alcoholism, self-esteem issues or loss, I can still remember the pain, but I have pushed through it. I may not understand why I had to experience some of those traumatic times, but I do recognise what I have learnt from them – insight, patience, forgiveness, empathy, serenity and gratitude.

So if you are finding it hard to enjoy your life, be reassured that something good can come out of something bad. And that from the darkness of today,  it is possible for a brighter tomorrow to emerge.

Bursting – Kathleen Tennant

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. ~ Steve Jobs

As clichéd as it’s sounds, life is short. And your days too precious to be wasted through wishing you were someone else, somewhere else. It’s wonderful to want to change and grow as a person. It’s essential to have aspirations and dreams. But most of all it’s great to be the unique and special ‘you‘.     It’s your life. Love it!  

Huge thanks to the talented Kathleen Tennant  for allowing me to use her 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/KathleenTennant

Joyful living.

“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” ~ Mother Teresa

Life can be tough. Yet whether you are struggling with issues from  the past, difficulties for today or fears about the future, you can still live joyfully.

When you struggle with adversity it can be tempting to look at others and envy them. Some people can appear to glide through life not only untroubled but totally blessed. In reality that is simply a perception. No one gets through life without trials and everyone has their own battles to fight.

I suffered many years of depression because I allowed the abandonment by my mother and abuse of my father to rob me of my self-worth. And with it my joy. How could I enjoy my life when so much had been stolen from me? How could I find peace when my mind was in such turmoil? How could I be happy when I was in such pain?

The answer was in the realisation that joyful living is a choice. One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt in my emotional recovery was that I couldn’t change yesterday, I can’t control what happens today and I won’t be able to prevent what tomorrow may bring.

However I can make the choice to accept my past, find serenity in each day and embrace the future. All of which enable me to live with joy.

“If you are not living in Joy, you are out of integrity with your Soul.” ~ Michael Bernard Beckwith

Joyful living is empowering. It can overcome both doubt and fear, both of which used to dominate how I approached every area of my life; home, work and relationships. Having grown up in an environment where intimidation ruled, I lived in trepidation of saying or doing anything that would annoy my father. With so much that could go wrong that I gave up finding out what I liked or enjoyed in life because it was his needs that mattered, not mine.

Then there was the ‘fact’ that I was never good enough. As far as my father was concerned I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough, clever enough, interesting enough. I had no value as in individual which of course was proved to me by my mother’s absence. In my mind she had left because I wasn’t lovable enough for her stay. Little wonder that I grew up finding it hard to find any pleasure in being me.

To live without joy is to live a life void of preference, purpose and passion. Your existence stifles your spirit and suppresses your soul. Yet it is in your spirit that you form your dreams and with the strength of your soul that you pursue them. It is in your spirit that you find love for others and in your soul that find love for yourself.

“There is no real and true Joy if that Joy is not imbued with love. Love cannot exist without Joy.” ~ Saraydarian

Joy goes hand in hand with gratitude and forgiveness. It also stems from acceptance and peace. Most of all though it’s birthed in love. Love isn’t simply an emotion, it requires action for it to be effective. So too, does joy.

Despite the difficulties you may be facing, you have the choice as to how you respond. Even though your circumstances may be in turmoil, you can be hopeful that no situation lasts forever. And when someone you depended on lets you down, you can feel proud that you have the strength to overcome. You can choose to be think positively and by doing so increase your light in the darkest of times.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ~Thcih Nhat Hanh

When you live joyfully, it’s not just you that benefits. When you live with hope your radiance shines on everyone and everything around you. When you find time to share kindness, your generosity is passed on. When you love unconditionally, your love is returned.

There are no grand gestures required. A gentle touch can reassure in a moment of grief. A genuine smile can break down sorrow. A heart-felt hug can reconcile and restore.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  ~Psalm 37:4

For me, the joy in my life comes from knowing that I may not have what I want, but I do have what I need. Self-worth, sobriety and belonging also contribute towards my happiness. And each day is made complete by the love of family and the companionship of friends.

But my greatest joy comes from the assurance of a faith that heals and renews, forgives and blesses. And from the promise that He will give me the desires of my heart.

Now that  is joyful living.

Huge thanks to Lori Portka                 http://loriportka.com/ https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LoriPortka for permission to use her beautiful artwork.

 

The gift of giving.

il_570xN.393890513_9c2gThe gift of giving is that it is in itself a gift. Whether you are giving or receiving, it’s an exchange of love.

Yet the message that surrounds us is that you should you get what you can, when you can. The daily bombardment of advertising tries to convince us that you will be happier, more beautiful, more successful if you have more. Believe me. You won’t.

“You can’t find happiness in getting, but you can find happiness in giving.” ~ Joyce Meyer

It’s easy to compare yourself with others and become disenchanted with your own life. However you can be content and happy if you accept that you may not have what you want, but you do have what you need.

But just as there is a law of attraction, so there is a law of giving – you reap what you sow. Therefore sow with abundance. If you are willing to share what you have, you could find that you end up with what you want – especially if what you want is to be loved.

“Every gift from a friend is a wish for your happiness.” ~Richard Bach

I know what it is like to have been given a second chance at life. I remember the times when it was practically impossible to give to myself let alone anyone else. Anyone who had suffered with depression will know how isolating it is and how even basic communication can be a challenge. Depression engulfs you in a bubble of despair and loneliness that prevents you from giving anything to anyone – physically or emotionally. You can’t give away to someone else what you don’t have for yourself.

One of the joys of my recovery is being able to share what I have and to be able to genuinely care about others. Every day I aim to give back in some way.Often it’s through the opportunity to respond to those who contact me to disclose their difficulties and challenges. My gift to them is a safe place to share and the promise of hope by switching on a little flicker of light as they go through the darkness.

Other times it can be gifts that I know will bless or encourage others. A thoughtful present, an offer of practical help, or an act of kindness are all things that are easy to do, yet are wonderfully rewarding.

It’s marvelous to receive, but in my eyes it’s infinitely better to give.  Paying back to those who have and continue to help me on my journey is important to me. It gives me a connection with others that I treasure and helps me appreciate what I have in my life today.

An anonymous donation reminds me that I am able to pay back what has been given to me, without the need for recognition or acknowledgement. Because life isn’t all about me. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an anonymous gift you’ll know that the joy is for more than the gift itself, it’s knowing that you meant something to someone, that they were thinking of you, that someone cared. For me, that is love in action.

“Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.” ~ Jean Anouilh

Sometimes the hardest gift of all is when you give something of yourself. If you have invested love in another only to be rejected or abused then you can become wary of giving away your love.  The fear of opening up old wounds or being hurt again can turn your heart to stone. Any trace of generosity of kindness can be overshadowed by bitterness, resentment and fear.

“The degree of loving is measured by the degree of giving.” ~ Edwin Louis Coleil_570xN.364132462_2nag

Any gift can be a gift of love if it is given willingly and without obligation. And whilst money and actual presents are always a wonderful way to show you care, there are many other ways to give that are just as valuable.

Sharing your time, your expertise, your advice, your encouragement, your support or your prayers are all ways to offer yourself to someone. .A gift can be given anytime or anywhere. It may cost nothing to you, but to them it may be priceless. And the return for you can be greater than you ever imagined.

The gift of giving is love.

Happily Ever After.

“And they lived happily ever after…..” That’s the fairytale. But life is more complicated than any storybook and when it throws up challenges and heartaches, happiness can seem like an unreachable dream.

“The darker the despair, the brighter the joy.” ~ Carolyn Hughes

My own experiences of abandonment, abuse, addiction, depression have all played their part in making me feel sad and despondent at one time or another. But faith, love, gratitude have helped me to find happiness in the darkest places. Learning to take each day at a time, and appreciating each moment in time reminds me that life is too short for regrets or fear.  Happiness, joy and laughter are to be enjoyed today.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Happiness is all about you. Only you can make yourself happy, so if you’re relying on something else to give you peace of mind, think again. Society persuades us that we can be instantly and permanently exhilarated and delighted – Buy this. Do that. Eat this. Drink that. Wear this. Look like that. We are bombarded daily with the promise of never-ending pleasure. That’s gratification. It’s not true happiness.

Inner contentment can be a fleeting feeling or a deep-seated emotion. Most of all it should be an established attitude.  Living joyfully and peacefully means accepting imperfections in yourself and others.

Happiness is appreciating what is right, not lamenting what is wrong. It’s being thankful for what you have, and not being envious of others. It’s looking forward to the destination, but enjoying the journey. So stop waiting for happy days. They’re here already!

 “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” ~ Dalai Lama.

A word of warning if you are looking to others to make you happy. They can’t. Of course you can enjoy a wonderful relationship, but it can’t be dependent on someone else’s happiness. Neither can you depend on someone else to provide you with total fulfilment. It’s not their responsibility.

Your happiness comes from within your heart. Only you hold the keys to your heart. And only you hold the keys to your ‘happily ever after’.