What a difference

It’s my birthday – yay!

I woke up early this morning, excited for a special day of celebration and I’ve spent a few moments reflecting back on the last year.

And, geez Louise, what a difference a year makes!

I was going to write about how I’ve progressed professionally, personally and in my relationships with others but every time I wrote the words they came out sounding smug and self-satisfied (and to be fair, on my birthday I do feel a bit smug with life!).

But the message that I feel most keen to share with you is the phrase I said at the start – what a difference a year makes. Because it’s true, things can turn around radically in a matter of 12 short months.

I remember on my birthday morning last year feeling grateful for all that I had but also longing for change. More courage to speak my truth, satisfaction at work, greater acceptance of myself. Sure, things were pretty good this time last year, but I was still left feeling unsatisfied.

And in moments life felt pretty dark and I couldn’t see a way out or forward from where I was. And that is why my heart breaks when I see so many of those I love who are struggling with that same longing for change. Because I’ve been there, I know how hard it can be, and whilst I may not have been in your exact shoes, I can imagine how tricky it is to have:

  • A longing to have a baby but struggles to physically conceive
  • Struggles with coming to terms with hardships from the past
  • A yearning to find someone to love and to love you back
  • Frustration and a feeling of ‘there must be more than this’ with work
  • Challenges coping with the pressures of life
  • Crippling expectations of perfection
  • Difficulties breaking addictive patterns and behaviour
  • Sadness over loss

Alongside the happiness in life, there is much sadness. I know. I’ve been there. And when you’re in the midst of the sadness and struggles, it can feel like there will never be an end. It can be all consuming.

So on my birthday, I want to spend a few minutes encouraging you that things can change. Things will change. And I want to share a few of my thoughts about bringing that change about:

Reach out

We all struggle with life and when we do our natural instinct tends to draw us away from others. Out of shame, feeling isolated, not wanting to drop the mask of being ‘ok’ or ‘fine’. But the best thing you can do is to reach out. Ask for help. Get some support as you navigate this tricky turn in the road of your life. It’s a cliché but it’s true – reaching out and asking for help requires more strength than suffering in silence. So be strong and ask for help.

Take steps but accept the present

Working through real difficulty requires two things in my experience – taking steps to progress but also accepting that you are where you are. If you don’t take small steps forward, you will wallow and even regress further into your situation. But you also need to take moments of quiet to feel how you feel and accept that you are where you are. The two things seem like they don’t go together – action and acceptance, movement and stillness – but I’ve found that you need both to move forward.

Find gratitude

I remember feeling frustrated at work this time last year but the truth was that there were many things to be thankful for:

  • I was paid a good salary
  • I worked with lovely people
  • I could travel into work with my husband each day
  • I had good holiday entitlements and flexibility

And finding that gratitude brought me pockets of unexpected happiness. Sometimes it was hard and I couldn’t or didn’t want to find gratitude in the moment, but it was a good thing for me to do.

Know that this too will pass

It can feel like sadness and suffering will be never ending when you’re in the middle of your struggles. And I don’t want to belittle your suffering because I’m not in your shoes, I don’t know what you’re going through.

But regardless of the level of struggles you’re going through, know that this too will pass. I’m not saying that your life will turn rosey and perfect, but life will change. Things will move on. Maybe not always for the better, but things will pass.

So these are my Birthday words of wisdom to you. I hope they’ve brought you some happiness, something to think about and some measure of connection ❤️

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