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/

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

My broken heart.

my tears my pain‘I see the tracks of ev’ry tear that ran right down your face.                         I see the hurt, I see the pain, I see the human race.’ ~ Annie Lennox, Universal Child

Is the person you love hurting you? They express remorse, promise to change, declare their love for you, but then it happens again. The let down. The lies. And all you have is the pain. The tears. And the broken heart.

When I look back now it is hard to imagine why I stayed in a loveless and destructive relationship for so long.  I was devoted yet received so little in return. I gave my all and forgave all in the mistaken belief that I was being compassionate and supportive.  Yet tolerating isn’t loving and existing isn’t living.

I poured out my unconditional love because even though my head kept telling me it wasn’t worth it, my heart disagreed. Because you reap what you sow. Right?

Not necessarily. Just as to reap good crops you have to sow your seed in good soil, you have to sow your love into a good relationship. That is, a shared partnership of mutual affection, trust, commitment and respect. My relationship was void of all of those.

‘You either teach people to treat you with dignity and respect, or you don’t.’ ~ Dr Phil McGraw

The problem was that I should never have got involved in the first place. The abuse I had encountered in my younger years had destroyed my sense of self-esteem and self-worth. Consequently, I didn’t require anyone to treat me any better than I thought I deserved.

Additionally the rejection issues I had experienced as a child had left me with a fear of attaching to anyone, so that even when I did form a bond I never expected it to last.

Little surprise then that my relationships were at best short-lived and superficial, at worst destructive and detrimental to my well-being on every level. One thing I knew for certain though and that was the result would be a broken heart. Usually mine.

If like me you have been hurt or are hurting still, it’s time to heal. If you thought that your love would be good enough for them, it was. But their love was not good enough for you. Not then and not now.

Remember that the more you invest in a relationship, the greater the harm to your soul if the commitment is not reciprocated. And when the love you have given is exploited, it strips your spirit of joy and dims the light of your inner-being.

‘He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.’     ~ Psalm 147:3

Faith taught me that just as love hurts, so does it heal. In the rawness of an ending of a something you believed to be special, it can feel that your heart is broken beyond repair. But it is possible to recover and to discover a love so infinite and so complete that the pain of the past is but a wisp of a memory.

That same love you gave away you must now be used in abundance to nurture your mind, body and soul. Stop telling yourself that you will never love anyone again. You will. But only when you completely and unconditionally immerse yourself with the love that lies within.

‘The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.’ ~ Steve Maraboli

Your new life, your new love awaits. But you can’t embrace either if your heart and mind hold on to what’s gone before. As devastating as it feels, the ending also signifies a beginning.  And forgiveness is the key to unlock your wonderful new start.

All that resentment, anger, fear and loneliness can only be overcome through a willingness to forgive. Forgiveness isn’t condoning what someone else had done or said.  It is empowering yourself by replacing the negativity of the past with compassion, happiness, truth and peace.

Forgiving yourself is equally as important. Release yourself from the blame and shame that keeps you captive for by doing so you will find the freedom to live your life with the love of your life.

Help your heart to heal by accepting that love is accountable. You can’t make anyone change but you can take responsibility for your own life. It’s time to stop living your life through someone else and start taking your love to a new level by putting yourself first. Because if loving someone else means you have to stop loving yourself that is too high a price to pay.

‘He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.’ ~ Epictetus

Finally, in those times when the pain is ripping you apart, dig deep into your soul and search for those things for which you can still be grateful.  When your wounded heart is screaming for attention, focus on what you have and what you will have. Whatever your circumstances you can always find something or someone who gives you a speck of hope.

broken heartIn my own journey of recovery, I found it was my moments of despair that the light of my faith shined the brightest. It provided me with the strength, comfort and gratitude that I needed to affirm my worthiness. And it reminded me that as broken as I was, I was lovable and precious. And that I could be restored.

Join me by resolving to be stronger than the pain of yesterday, find peace for today and pursue your dreams for tomorrow.

For my broken heart has healed. So can yours.

‘You have within you more love than you can ever understand.’ ~ Rumi

 

 

 

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

Betrayal.

Abstract Nude by Aja

Abstract Nude by Aja

“Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.”              ~ Mineko Iwasaki

Loving someone and being loved is wonderful. But when your love is rejected as a result of betrayal, the pain can be agonizing. Possibly the ultimate form of rejection, betrayal can shatter your mind, body and soul.

Where once you knew that you were the only one, you know now that there is another. But true love can’t be shared. That love that you had for each other was too precious, too deep, too tender to be passed on. Yet it has.

And from the moment you become aware of the betrayal, so begins the incessant and intense aching of your heart.  For someone else is now receiving the love you believed to be rightly yours.

When the man I loved betrayed me, I tried at first to pretend he hadn’t. I refused to consider that the relationship was anything more than a brotherly friendship. This of course, was exactly the way he justified his actions. He was simply offering support and consolation to someone who had been through a difficult time. So who was I to be challenging such kind words and offers of help?

With all my mind, I tried to convince myself that he was innocent, yet deep-down I knew differently. In matters of the heart, a woman’s intuition is rarely mistaken. And whether it is an emotional betrayal or a physical infidelity, both are deal-breakers in a loving relationship.

Actually I had known right from the start. His over-exaggeration of how he disliked her, while his body language indicated the opposite. The not-so-subtle comments about her stunning looks and amazing figure, which when repeated back to him were dismissed as a joke. Making special efforts to look nice in her company and being the first to volunteer if she needed a lift. Goodness, I saw it all.

And I heard it all too. Soothing words to reassure her in her time of need. Tender offers of assistance day or night; nothing too much trouble. Then inevitably the words I least wanted to hear were declared with passion; ‘I love you.’

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s a unique brutal pain at hearing the one you love profess their love to someone else. You listen with outraged incredulity, whilst being completely powerless. The reality hits hard.

It was when I stopped being in such denial and raised my objections, that things turned ominous. Instead of an admission of guilt or remorse, he tried to convince me that the problem was all mine. It was my paranoia, my jealousy, my insecurity.

Except it wasn’t. It was his lies. His deceit. His betrayal. And it was at that point that I learnt that the level of betrayal you feel depends on the level of love you invested. The greater the love. The greater the pain.

And betrayal raises a huge number of questions that refuse to be answered too. How could they do it to me? Why would they risk destroying everything we have? What did I do to deserve that? What do I do now? And the question that I repeated daily to myself: How could I have been so stupid to let myself become this vulnerable?

Whatever the answers, when it comes to betrayal there is a fine line between love and hate. You love the person, but you hate what they do. You love how they make you feel when you’re with them, but you hate them when they reject you. It’s the rejection that stabs you in the heart and crushes your soul.

“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”  ~ Marcus Aurelius

Being betrayed can leave you with feelings of revenge, but there are three reasons why it won’t do anymore than provide momentary relief.

For a start, it won’t undo what has been said or done. God himself can’t turn back time. Secondly, your emotions may override any sense of common sense and you may live to regret what you did. Finally, and most importantly you have integrity and self-worth, so don’t demean yourself by stooping down to their level – you are better than that!

“As long as I have a heart I can heal, as long as I can heal I have a heart.” ~ The Hurt Healer

Anyone who has gone through or is going through the trauma of a broken heart knows that the pain can overwhelm. It might feel like the agony is never going to end, but it is possible and more importantly essential to find a way to let go and move on.

Good friends can listen and comfort, family can empathise and nurture you. Yet only you can heal your heart. The fact is that no matter how hard you try to hide your hurt from the outside world, you carry your brokenness within you, where ever you go.

So let the betrayer go and it will release you too. Because the longer you hold on to what could have been or what should have been, the longer you are trapped in a relationship that is finished.

Of course that’s easier said than done. I know that had this situation occurred when I was in the grip of my addiction and depression, I would have turned to the bottle to numb the pain and blamed myself for being so unlovable.

Thankfully, my journey of recovery has made me stronger and wiser. No longer a victim that crumbles at the actions of another, I am a survivor who accepts that although she can’t control what someone else does, she can control how she reacts to it.

“All healing is first a healing of the heart.” ~ Carl Townsend

Initially you may try to manage the damage with things that gratify you.  Alcohol, drugs, relationships, work, even food can all help fill the void, numb the pain, and distract you. Yet temporary respite fades and the reality of your raw soul is exposed.

You may feel like you will never love again. But it’s love that hurts and love that heals. And there is strength to be gained from your vulnerability. Learning to confront the truth, even when that truth is excruciating, is empowering.

When you love someone deeply, you assume that your level of investment and honesty in the relationship is reciprocated. Being betrayed is the realisation that not only have you been deceived by another, but you have deceived yourself. Ultimately, that can be soul destroying.

Yet reclaiming you ability to trust is essential to emotional healing. Reassure yourself that you were right to believe in the relationship, but it was the betrayer who was in the wrong for abusing your trust.  Rebuild your faith in others by surrounding yourself with those who care for you and allow them to nurture you. Then focus not on what you have lost, but on the good things you still have in your life. Gratitude is a great pain-killer.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” ~ Lewis B Smedes

Once the initial shock has passed and you have started to trust again, the next step to freedom is through forgiveness. Personally, I couldn’t have undertaken any level of forgiveness without my faith to guide and comfort me. I learnt that forgiveness wasn’t about condoning the actions, but accepting what had taken place.

Forgiveness also meant that instead of being burdened with fear, resentment, bitterness and anger, I was free to fill my heart with hope, expectation, joy and peace. And in doing so I was able to redefine my expectations and boundaries of relationships.  Most of all, forgiveness was about saying goodbye to the bad, so that I could embrace the good.

Femme 104 by Aja

Femme 104 by Aja

With the love of friends and the strength of my faith, I was able to manage the stormy days which fuelled the tears and the trauma. It was also faith that reassured me that after the rain, there was the promise of a rainbow.

And if betrayal has darkened your days, that promise of a bright future filled with love, awaits you too.

“Everybody wants happiness. Nobody wants pain. But you can’t have a rainbow, without a little rain.” ~ unknown

Huge thanks to talented Aja, owner of the Sagittarius Gallery 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/SagittariusGallery

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.

Time for change.

change 2“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu

Kindness, generosity, compassion, patience, trust, loyalty and honesty all make for a good relationship. But what if the person you extend these forms of love to doesn’t reciprocate? Not just on the odd occasion but consistently using or abusing your friendship? Then it’s time for change.

In the past I have been caught up in relationships that were simply no good for me. On reflection I can see that I was willing to put up with being let-down and mistreated because I didn’t believe I deserved any better.

Anyone who has been involved in an abusive relationship knows how difficult it is to think clearly in that situation. It starts with comments and actions that undermine you. If you have self-confidence then you are able to deal with these incidences appropriately. But if you’re feeling vulnerable or depressed as I often did then the doubt is set in your mind and so begins the downward cycle.

From my own experience I know how dangerous that can be. The longer I stayed the more I enabled the other person to carry on belittling me and making me believe that I was always at fault. Which in turn confirmed my uselessness as a human being. I gave my all but my all was never good enough.

Then when it reached the point that I literally couldn’t do or say anything right, instead of questioning how wrong it was to be living in a constant state of fear, I kept trying to change myself to fit in with the other person’s demands.

I ended up feeling like something that had crawled out of the ground and had no right to life. Except it wasn’t a life. It was an existence. It wasn’t a relationship, it was a one-way ticket to hell on earth.

“Even the worm will turn.” Proverb

You may feel like a little worm that is worn-out and weary but you can fight back. You are still alive and you as long as you have breath in your body you can change your life. It won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight, but you don’t have to live one more day as a victim if you don’t want to.  Get ready to tell yourself, “It’s time for change.”

I had to hit rock bottom before I could make that choice, but with the support of friends, the guidance of professionals and the grace of faith I was able to reclaim my life.

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

When my time for change came I knew it was never going to be simple or pain-free. It was time to accept my failures, time to let go of the past, time to forgive and be forgiven, time to live each day as a new beginning.

change1Time to live my life as the person I was meant to be.

What about you? Time for change?

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Ghandi

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

Sanctuary of the soul.

starbrightWhen life feels like it is a constant challenge or you’re simply having one of those tough days, it’s important to be able to find some peace within the turmoil. You need to find the sanctuary  in your soul.

“When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself.  When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.” Eckhart Tolle

Our body and mind can deal with the practicalities of life, but the powerful depths of healing can only be encompassed through the soul. We may think similar thoughts or behave in the same ways but it is our soul that makes us unique. And only you can reach it.

Acquiring relief in things like alcohol, food, drugs may provide a temporary solution but learning to find that contentment inside yourself can help you manage even the most difficult dilemmas.

“When we feel whole in ourselves there is no need or desire to present ourselves as anything other than simply being” ~ Catherine Ingram

During my dark days of depression and alcoholism, I had been taken to breaking point both physically and mentally. Recovery was going to be huge. I was battered outside and inside, but my soul was completely shattered.With a whisper of hope and a speck of faith I fought to pick up the pieces and gently began the restoration that was to set me on the path to peace.

Initially the renewing of my soul came through love, which came through faith. It came through learning to find not only a physical peace but a mental tranquility. It came through accepting the past and living in the present. And while my soul healed so grew the gentle force of self-belief.

“We may get knocked down on the outside, but the key to living in victory is to learn how to get up on the inside.” ~Joel Osteen.

As my spirit became strong I learnt to have confidence in my intuition. Anyone who has been abused develops a sixth sense as to what is right or wrong, who to trust and who to doubt. Yet the impact of abuse can overwhelm your natural instincts, leaving you mistrusting even your basic feelings. When you start to heal emotionally, you can choose to reclaim your gift of discernment.

I was reminded of this only last week, when I was asked to do something for someone I  knew only a social media site. A little alarm bell had rung initially and I responded with caution. Their retaliation was plain nasty when I was unable to meet their request.

In the past I would have been filled with self-doubt and blamed myself for not being good enough. But now I know how to find the sanctuary in my soul I was able to step back, take a deep breath and see the situation for what it was. It was an issue for the other person and not for me. Calm and reassured by being able to rest in my inner refuge I could let it go in perfect peace. And also with a sense of gratitude to that person for reminding me just how far I had come.

moonbright“If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. ” Chinese Proverb.

Whilst your soul is a place of safety and restoration it can also be a wonderful place of energy and light. Just as our body and mind needs to be healthy, so does our soul. Learn to nurture it and treat it well. Then enjoy the illumination of your soul as it sheds light over the shadows in your life. And reveal the desires of your soul through vitality and passion.

Whether it is serenity or energy that you seek, may you find it in abundance within the sanctuary of your soul.

Images thanks to the wonderful talent of Jen Garcia at Etsy.com http://www.etsy.com/shop/xXSnapDragon