Our Mission To Help Jamaica

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I recently posted about our recent experience with helping the children of Boscobel Primary school in Jamaica on a holiday earlier in the year.

You can read the blog here: Boscobel Primary, Jamaica. Can you help?

This is a follow up post because we’ve had a lot of love and support since I wrote the blog post. My phone was going crazy when I posted it. It reached people in the UK, Ireland, Canada, United States, Jamaica, Vietnam and Denmark!

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We set up the fundraising page and have been grateful for every single donation. Every penny means a lot to all of us involved in the fundraising, but even more so the children of Jamaica. Their faces lit up when they were dressed in all the football kit we gave them and I can only imagine their faces when they got tonnes more. 

The story made it into The Portsmouth News twice. A lovely and very patient photographer came and took photos of the four of us that went to Jamaica along with Padnell Football Club. It takes a lot of patience to get 40 odd children together for a photo! You can read the story here: The Portsmouth News

There was also another article in the ‘We Can do it Page’.

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Social media is powerful when it comes to things like this…

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Reaching outside of Boscobel…

We want to thank everyone who has donated more Football kit. So far Padnell Rovers FC have kindly donated 21 yellow kits and another goalkeepers kit. This in itself has kitted out the whole of Boscobel Primary’s football team. Further to that, another 15 Blue Padnell away kits along with another goalkeeper kit and 8 red kits that were used for mini soccer have been donated by the club meaning we can now donate kit to another school – Mango Valley. We only saw Mango Valley from the outside but we saw the lack of football equipment, pitch condition and unsafe goalposts and now they’ll be receiving kits too! I can remember us saying, “wouldn’t it be good if we could reach out and help out as many communities as possible”. It’s amazing what happens when people come together. One Love.

We’re currently arranging a charity football match to raise money. We’re asking local clubs to use a stadium for the match whilst also in the progress of putting together other fundraising events.

Thank you from Jamaica…

We also want to pass on gratitude from the people of Jamaica. We became good friends with one of the teachers there, Kajy. We even went on a massive hike with him, picking fruit from the “bush” and having to walk past massive cows that were quite simply intimidating haha! But he sent us all a lovely message along with a picture of him and a couple of students at the school, (how cute is their uniform).

 

We also get sent photos from our Jamaican friend Scientist. He recently shared with us their ‘fun day’, which is sports day. So sweet….

I know this might not be as close to people’s hearts as it is ours and that’s simply because you can’t actually explain what it’s like until you’ve been there and met the children and seen what it’s like with your own eyes. But if you could spare £1.. £2… £5… however little or however much you can, I will be forever grateful and so will the children who will benefit from it. Please click on this link to donate: JUSTGIVING – BOSCOBEL, JAMAICA

If you’re able to help us in any way or have any ideas, please feel free to message me or email – shannonmclarke94@gmail.com

The biggest thank you to everyone who has helped so far. It’s so appreciated.

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Dear Mum – A Mother’s Day tribute 💐

Dear Mum, 
Happy Mother’s Day! I just want to use this day as an opportunity to tell you how thankful I am that you’re my mum. 


Thank you for taking care of yourself to the best of your ability for 9 months to ensure I was a healthy baby. You sacrificed comfortable night sleeps, alcohol, said goodbye to belts and also your toes as I grew bigger inside of you, stretching your skin in the process. Let me tell you now that you are strong! I am so thankful but ever so sorry about putting you through 36 hours of labour so you could welcome me into the world – I was clearly comfortable in the womb! You endured sleep deprivation just to make sure I was full up on milk, comfortable, clean and well looked after. 


You disciplined me, even when you found my mischievous ways funny, but also stuck up for me when you didn’t agree with certain teachers at school – parents evening used to be quite funny actually. You were the cool mum! & you still are. 


You gave me the best advice, and although sometimes it seemed like you were moaning or on my back, I grew up to realise that you were telling me the truth and had my best interest in heart. Older and wiser as you would say. I will always appreciate the love and advice you give me. 


Thank you mum, for putting me into dancing when I asked at only 4 years old. This allowed me to come out of my shell and gain some confidence from that shy little girl I was. You put so much time and money into my hobby, driving me around the country to compete, making sure I had beautiful dance costumes but never once where you a pushy parent. You showed me you were proud of me regardless of how I did in my lessons or competitions. You were the type of mum to laugh if I messed up, instead of telling me off like a lot of dance mums do. 


Not only was I a dancer, I took swimming lessons, went to brownies, played football and did lessons in playing the recorder. This must have taken up all your time! But you never minded, because I was happy. Thank you. 


You put up with my hormones as I turned into a young woman, knowing exactly what to do and say to make me feel better. 


I’m sorry for getting absolutely paralytic smashed out of my mind when I was just 13 and ending up in hospital. I’ve never drunk vodka like that again and I am so happy we can laugh about that now, (I know it wasn’t the slightest bit funny at the time). But regardless of my antics, you still stayed with me all night to make sure I was okay, until I woke up with THE MOST banging headache. I know there’s been times when you’ve had to come and pick me from a couple of clubs due to my profession in failing at drinking games. I’m sure when I have my own kids, karma will come and bite me in the arse and I’ll be the one picking them up in drunken states… we’ll see! Or maybe they’ll ask their nanny? Hahahaha. 


Believing in me and constantly praising me is something that you’re best at. Having a daughter that has low self esteem and thinks of herself as a failure at times must be hard for you to see, and I know sometimes it might not seem like it, but your words of love and wisdom do lift me up. You tell me I’m beautiful even though I don’t believe it myself and always make me feel important. I know you put your children first over anything and anyone and for that I respect you. There’s a reason I always ‘need my Mum’. No one calms me down like you do. 


You are ALWAYS at the other end of the phone, no matter what time. I lost count of the amount of times I’d call you in the early hours when I was living in Ibiza and you would speak to me for however long I needed you, even if you had to be up early the next day. 

You’re such a fun mum. In fact, you’re more like my best friend. Some people are shocked with some of the things I openly tell you, but if I can’t tell you, then who can I tell. You always said I could tell you anything, and that always stuck. The reason I always tell you everything? Because you never judge me. I can easily express my feelings and share my concerns with you. You give me honest advice but you’re always understanding. 

You’re one stylish mama which is brilliant because we get to share a wardrobe. Not liking anything in my wardrobe? No worries, I’ll go take a look at ‘Jo’s boutique’ and see what she has to offer. Some days I’m dressed in your clothes and your dressed in my clothes. No wonder people say we’re so alike. 


Thank you for putting up with me through my down days, where I’m too anxious to see anything positive. You’ve guided me through panic attacks, wiped all my tears and been my shoulder to cry on at some of the most challenging times in life. 
I know life has been tough on us for quite some time now. But believe me when I say this mum – you are so incredibly strong. You inspire me to be a stronger person and try my best throughout the hard times. I am always here for you, too and I’ll forever be appreciative of the amazing bond we have. 
There are so many things to be thankful for. If I am half the mother you are, then I am succeeding in life. I hope that one day I can take your mothering skills and be as amazing as you are with my own future children. 


Happy Mother’s Day Mum. 

I love you higher than a rocket goes up, forever and always. 
Your number 1 baby, 

Shannon xxxxxxxx

Boscobel Primary, Jamaica. Can you help?

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My holiday to Jamaica was chock-full of amazing, crazy experiences and I am in the middle of writing a separate blog post about it, but I just wanted to share an uplifting experience that definitely opened my eyes and is worth sharing.

In the lead up to Jamaica, my dad had been gathering football tops together as he wanted to find some Jamaican children playing football and hand them out to them. With the help of others, we managed to accumulate a bulk of  Padnell Rovers kits which were kindly donated by the club secretary, Damian Ray, and Portsmouth FC tops from ourselves and others, in company with a few pairs of football boots, medals and a football.
Whilst in Jamaica, we gave some of the larger Pompey tops to our accommodation owner, Mr Thompson, his gardener, and also the taxi driver who wanted one for his son.. funnily enough he had the same last name as us too ‘Clarke’. I think the royal blue looked rather good on the Jamaicans and they loved them too!
We stayed on a farm with various other properties on it and soon met our neighbours, a retired couple from Canada. They were staying in Jamaica for 2 months because one of them, Sharon is a teacher and volunteers at the local school, Boscobel Primary. This was an instant link for my dad and on the first day my dad was introduced to the school principal by Sharon. My dad explained to the principal that he has come all the way from England and has two bags full of football kits and a few pairs of football boots that he would love to donate to the school. The principal was so overwhelmed by it that she was close to tears. Something that is so little to us meant the world to her. We didn’t think it would have this much of an effect on the school and how much it would help them.
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The young local Jamaicans then wanted a game of football every day… “be up the field at 5pm”. 
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One afternoon, whilst travelling back from the blue lagoon, (in the back of a truck may I add), we spotted a football match being played and us being the football fans we are asked Mr Thompson if we could stop off and watch. I have never seen a football match like it. Only a handful of the young footballers had football boots on, one child had one trainer on and the other foot was bare and the majority of them were playing barefoot. They were playing on an uneven, stony pitch with no shocks or shin pads, no corner flags – there weren’t even white lines on the ground! The goals would not be legal in England and would be seen as a health hazard as they were metal and would often collapse if the ball hit them. They didn’t have nets on the ‘goal posts’ either. We didn’t spot any first aid bags or water bottles and they didn’t even have kit; they were all wearing bibs. The two managers for each team didn’t offer any positive advice and often laughed at mistakes that were being made, (I know it’s a laid back country but these lads have potential and need to be directed).
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Football wise, they were all very physical when playing. They got stuck into the game and weren’t scared of getting hurt or going in for a tackle. A few of the players look really quick with good ball control and were clearly talented players. One thing I will say is that they all have tough, hard feet. I would not be able to run around on a stony, rocky field without stopping every 2 minutes due to the pain in my feet!
The principal at Boscobel planned a football training session with the schools football team with my dad as the coach, (and help from my brother and boyfriend). My dad has been involved in youth football for 10 years and has always been a successful football coach, taking his team from the D league to the top of the A league in 4 consecutive seasons and then winning the Portsmouth Cup. He is currently the Director of Football and Manager to the u14’s youth team at Padnell Rovers football club. Now can you understand why my dad was so excited by this?
The weather was overcast that day with a little bit of rain in the morning, but it was a good day to play football. Before the training session, we went into the school to speak to the principal and another member of staff there who did three jobs – first aider, sports teacher and security officer.

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We were sat in the school whilst a lot of the children were on lunch break. They loved us and were surrounding us. They were all quick to point at my bob Marley tattoo on my thigh, they all knew who he was obviously and even had Bobs quotes on the walls of their school. A group of little girls were surrounding me, touching my hair and asking me if it was real; one little girl could not stop touching my face and hair. She told me she really liked me, how pretty I was and kept hugging me. My heart melted a little, not gonna lie. I guess I’m not something they see everyday – a pale blonde woman with green eyes… it’s like they were fascinated by me, but they were cute and I enjoyed speaking to them. All the children were very hyper, running up and down the middle of the school. The school was small, it had one massive hallway and then different classrooms on each side. The principal told me she has 10 teachers in total. The little boys were typical boys, pushing each other around. One of them had beautiful bright eyes.
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When it came to the training session, all the little lads came out dressed in Padnell Rovers kits and also Pompey tops and shorts. They looked the part. All of the children were respectable and enjoyed the session. They replied to everything my dad said to them with “yes Sir”.. my dad told them to call him Steve. They understood everything my dad told them and enjoyed the training drills. My dad told them how he wanted them to play and we instantly saw an improvement as they all listened carefully and wanted to learn. It’s a shame our stay there wasn’t longer; I think it would take 6 weeks at one training session per week to get them to the point of staying in position, passing and moving and keeping the formation. They liked being told what to do and understood everything my dad was telling them. We played the crossbar challenge with them. For those that don’t know about football, the crossbar challenge is when you have to aim for the ball to hit the top post on the football goal post. None of them had heard of it before but they all thoroughly enjoyed it and the winner of the challenge was a happy boy. I wonder if they’re playing it at school now – I bet they are!
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*Also would like to give the Ska band “Orange Street” a thank-you for sponsoring some of the Padnell Rovers kits*
When we spoke to the principal of the school, we were keen to ask her some questions in regards to the way the school is run and what facilities they have. She told us that she doesn’t even have a laptop to run the school and that everything is handwritten, taking her a long time to get anything done. Considering you can purchase a decent laptop for £200-£400, this really opened my eyes. We don’t realise how lucky we are. I wasn’t the biggest fan of school like many, but I never really appreciated the fact that we had workbooks to write in, computers to work on, a library full of books, projectors, stationary etc. The football team usually play in bibs and the school also provides some of the players with very old football boots that were falling apart. They had very little or no equipment whatsoever. And that is when we decided that we wanted to help this school and community – essentially be their sponsor and provide a charity.
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We want to provide the school with football kit in different sizes, football boots for all of the children in the football team and we also want to provide the principal with a laptop to make her work life a lot easier. It was evident that the principal loved and respected those children and it warmed my heart seeing her comfort a young child who was upset, wrapping her arms around him. You could see that those children appreciated and respected her too and considering she was close to tears when we donated the football gear, I think it would make her day to receive a laptop. It’s the least we can do for such a lovely and hard-working woman.
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Here is the link to our JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/boscobelprimary

Please click the link and help us in any way possible.

We want to give this school the essentials they need to allow the children to progress in life. Trust me when I say the Jamaicans believe that children are the most important humans in the world. ‘They’re our future’ as they say.

 

I’d love it if people could share the blog post if possible, it all touched my heart and we really want to help them.
If you can donate as little or as much as you want or have any fundraising ideas or any ways on how you can help us help this primary school and the children of Jamaica then please message me via social media, (I’m on Instagram & twitter only), or email me at shannonmclarke94@gmail.com. You can also email my dad; stevekc67@ntlworld.com. Again, as soon as we have the link it will be post. The smallest thing means the world to them. I’m not rich myself, but I do know that I am better off than them and something that can cost or mean so little to me can mean everything to them.
lgostwitter & Instagram: shannonmclarke
 & here is a little video I chucked together on my iPhone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeSXbjVSSmQ&t=110s

Are you able to help?

 

Thank you for reading and ONE LOVE.

 

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0me “When you help other people, you help yourself. It’s impossible to not feel great when you do good for other people”

 

 

A letter to my younger self

Dear my younger self,

I don’t want to spoil anything for you because I know you love surprises, and don’t worry, you have a lot of those coming. But I just wanted to give you some advice….

You really want to be 18 don’t you? In your eyes, when you turn 18 you are classed as an adult, you are independent and no one can tell you what to do. You’re already using fake ID to party at the weekends. Appreciate these younger years – they’re easy and you’ll soon wish you could relive them.

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Your life now is drastically different to how it will be in 5 years time. Spend as much time as you can with your family – they’re important and you shouldn’t take them for granted, especially your grandparents. Your parents will tell you things and it may seem like they’re moaning and you wont believe half of the stuff they tell you, but when you get older you’ll realise that they were telling the truth and had your best interest at heart.

The thing that kills you the most right now is your desire to be thin. You think the skinnier you are the prettier you are without putting your health at the forefront of your mind. You think that skipping meals is the way forward. Exercise because you cherish your body and not because you want to lose weight. Stop comparing yourself to others, everyone is different.

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You fall for people and you fall for them hard. That boy you like right now – he’s not worth it. You’re better than him but you can’t see that because somehow you see the good in everyone. You’ll think you have had your heart broken and it will seem that way at the time but trust me, in the end you will learn how you should be treated and who is good for you. It sounds so cliché but never settle for less than you deserve. Don’t worry, this is a slow process.

You’re going to meet some amazing people and some not so amazing people. Friends will come and go but the terrible people will make you appreciate the good ones. Just don’t let anyone brainwash you or tell you who you should be. Don’t let anyone control your life and always trust your gut. Stay true to yourself and never let anyone tell you what to do.

Your partying years will be crazy and you’ll never forget the crazy friends that you got weird with at countless after parties in the early hours of the morning. It won’t be the healthiest point in your life as you guzzle back the alcohol but you’ll look back and be glad you did it. Never look back on something as a waste of time – it’ll either become a wonderful memory or you’ll learn from it.

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You’re passionate and it will sometimes frustrate you with your overactive mind and drive to achieve anything you can but it’s a great quality to have. You’re going to do things you’ve never imagined doing and they’re going to excite you.

You’ll realise that maybe you should have tried that little bit harder at school. Likewise, it will annoy you that school didn’t teach you the most important things in life, like how to get a mortgage, control your finances and how to use a washing machine. And by the way, all that algebra shit that your maths teacher is teaching you is pointless. You won’t need it, you’re completely right.

Most importantly, you are strong. You don’t believe it now and there will be times where you feel like you’ve lost all sanity. You’re going to experience a lot more heartache yet and some of your toughest days are yet to come. You’ll have plenty of times when you question life and sadly you’ll have times where you feel like you don’t even want to live in this world anymore, but you will get through it. You’ll eventually prove to yourself that you’re a lot stronger than you think. Equally though, you’re yet to experience some of the best days of your life and you’ll be able to put everything into perspective. You can get through anything, I promise.  

There is no right or wrong way to live your life. Do what makes you happy and smile a lot. Life flies by and you’re not getting any younger.

All my love, 22 year old me.

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Getting into a fitness routine…

So after pigging out over the Christmas holidays and not doing a single day of exercise, I decided it’s time to get back into a serious fitness routine. ‘5 months is enough time to get your summer bod’ is what I thought, until a last minute booking to Jamaica shortened that to 5 weeks!! I won’t be where I wanna be, but I most definitely want to feel more comfortable out there.


I cancelled my old gym membership because I wasn’t sticking to it. I enjoyed going and felt so much more energised but my life had no routine so I was wasting money. I work different shift patterns too so trying to fit it around everything in my unorganised hectic life was a task. 
I’ve recently been doing squats and crunches at home, and I always say there are plenty of ways to work out at home – you don’t even need workout DVD’s, you can follow workouts on YouTube! But with that being said there’s nothing better than squatting with a bar and weights on each end – that really makes you feel the burn! Not only does it work your muscles harder, it’s also a place I’ll be able to escape too when I need some ‘me time’ or release some anger, (I’ve seemed to be a little angry at times just lately). The gym is open 24/7 so it won’t cause any hassle in fitting in around my work and social life… I’ll always be able to find the time if it’s always open to me – at a good price too! 

I went to the gym with my boyfriend who is also part of ‘the gym group’, so he was able to show me some good workouts. I prefer going with someone, not only does it help when they’re on standby when you’re lifting or squatting heavy weights, but they motivate you with words of encouragement too. I do like going alone sometimes when you can just plug into some music you like and get focused. In regards to focusing, I need a little fitness plan to focus on. It’s too easy for me to go home early or not go at all when I have no idea what I’m going to do when I get there. If I have a plan that I can follow and tick off once done then I’m more likely to stick to it and see results. My boyfriend worked me hard, just the way I like it. I love feeling the burn and your legs go like jelly when you finish the workout. I love the pain the next day because you know it’s working. The endorphins that the body releases during exercise trigger such a positive feeling in side of you. It’s crazy how energetic and alert you are after a workout. That’s the best bit. The bit that I’ve struggled on in the past and that I know a lot of people struggle with is getting up and going to the gym. 

Consistency is the key in exercise and fitness. The way I’m looking at it; ‘once you’re there it’s not that bad and afterwards you’re happy you went‘. 


On Monday we did leg day – my favourite day! My legs have always been stronger; I think it’s from the years of dancing. My upper half is the feeble part! I love squatting with weights on my back and feeling the burn. It’s kinda a nice pain… am I weird? 


Most people have heard of the 80/20 ratio in dieting; weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. I don’t know the ins and outs of it but I do know if you’re workout out then you need to eat right. Eating is something I’m slowly learning to improve on. I wrote in a previous blog post that my diet doesn’t involve any consistency and that I need to eat more… little and often, little and often. So I’ve stocked up on salad, vegetables, rice, meat, yoghurts, fruit, all that healthy stuff and I’ve also filled my cupboard with healthy snacks. The chocolate slim fast bars are delicious! Try carrot and humus too – yum! 


Something I’d recommend to people wanting to get into a fitness routine that helped get me motivated is purchasing new gym clothes and some comfortable trainers. There are some really nice and comfortable gym clothes in shops for really reasonable prices as well. I know even primark sell them if you are watching your cash, even Tesco and Asda, too! I treated myself to some new trainers and gym bottoms. I think a gym bag and nice little gym towel is next on the list. Buying things adds some excitement into getting back into the gym in my opinion. Take before and after pictures and keep a little fitness journal if you can too, so you can look back and see how far you’ve come. (Again, more motivation). 


Another thing I’d urge anyone to do if you’re working out is to listen to music. Whatever music you’re into really, but it helps when they’re more upbeat or meaningful. I love listening to Eminem, the expression in his voice gives me more strength I swear 😂. It lets off a lot of steam. Music is the distraction from the sound of machines and other people around you. It puts you in the zone and you can keep a good pace. 
With all this in mind, you do need to find what works for you and your own personal goals and rules. I used to weigh myself at least twice a week when I was dieting and I’d always be disappointed or frustrated because I wasn’t losing the ‘5 pounds a week’ that I wanted. We all know that’s not the healthiest way to lose weight, but I lie many others expect to see results the minute the diet starts. I’ve come to realise now that that’s not the case. Not at all. You need to be consistent and you need to be patient, so weighing myself so frequently will be something I WONT be doing. Maybe once every couple of months just out of curiosity, but muscle weighs more than fat and if I can see changes in the mirror than I’m happy. I become too obsessed over the scales if I focus on how many pounds are coming off each week. I don’t want to get into that habit of skipping meals and teaching myself to get past that ‘my stomach is rumbling because I haven’t eaten for ages’ stage. It’s not healthy and you feel nothing other than weak. Remember; it takes 4 weeks for you to see changes in your body, 8 weeks for friends and family and 12 weeks for the rest of the world. 
Keep calm, discipline yourself and you’ll find that good things come to those who sweat 😉 

New Years Resolution or Inside Revolution? 

It’s that time of year again where two thirds of the population are deciding on things they want to do in the new year and the other third are taking the piss out of the whole ‘new year new me’ crap. I’ve never really been one for New Years resolutions… I can always remember having them when I was younger, (even though I can’t remember any of them – clearly didn’t stick to them did I), but for the past couple of years I’ve never been able to think of anything. I always think if there’s something you want to do or change, then you should start to do it there and then. Change doesn’t just happen overnight, you have to teach yourself to adapt to it so why would you wait to start changing something? 


With that being said, for me 2016 was riddled with negativity from January to December, so entering 2017 actually felt like a relief for me and a perfect opportunity to think of things that I want to change to make my life better. Last years problems don’t vanish just because it’s a new year so for me it’s about learning how to manage tough situations a bit better. Don’t get me wrong I’ve definitely got a few little things I want to achieve – the most cliche one of all is to get fitter and healthier but that’s not gonna happen for me until mid January because there’s too much Christmas food leftover lol…. the food doesn’t vanish cause it’s a new year either, does it? 😝 I also want to get into cooking. I want to actually enjoy cooking and get really good at it. My eating was poor last year. There’s no consistency in my diet at all, I eat little things at random times, sometimes I forget to eat and sometimes I just can’t be bothered to eat or sometimes I just pig out and eat way too much. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had breakfast, lunch and dinner in the same day. And of course if I wanna be fitter and healthier than I need to eat better so I figured if I learn how to cook nice meals, then I’ll eat better and have the energy to work out for longer. Never know you might see me on come dine with me in the near future or maybe even master chef? Hahahaha…
Life goes quick and none of us are getting any younger and it seems the minute you turn 18 life seems to fly. My 18th felt like yesterday and now I’m 23 this year and starting to think seriously about my future and stability in life. Why didn’t they teach us this in school? I don’t think I’ll ever understand why I had to learn what 4b-6+a (completely made up algebra) was, but zero knowledge on how to manage finances or use a washing machine. School didn’t prepare me for this shit! 
This year my goal is to feel more content in myself, to diminish the hypothetical worries that take over my mind every day of my life and to feel more at peace with myself and everything that has happened. I want to control the anger that evolved last year and be able to handle anything in a mellow and mature manner. 


This may seem easy to some but for me it’s a challenge. I guess this year will be the year I start to rebuild my life and get used to change and figuring out what I do from this point moving forward that will better my future. 
I wish everyone all the best with their New Years resolutions, no matter how big or small. 
Peace & Love. 

Dear 2016….

Appreciate every moment because life goes quick but a lot can happen in a year

 Dear two thousand and sixteen,

You’re a year that I will never forget. In all honesty, I couldn’t wait to see the back of you. In fact, I would rather break both my legs and be incapable of moving for 6 weeks or so than endure the emotional pain I did in 2016. You undoubtedly changed my life and made me question my own sanity. I didn’t even know what ‘normal’ was for a long time. My life was far from normal. I was completely lost. You see in 2016 I cried like I’ve never cried before, screamed like I’ve never screamed before and interrogated life itself. What the hell was my meaning? What did I have to do to make life a little more tolerable than what it was currently throwing at me. I started that year with one goal – to teach myself self-love and to stop worrying… something I’ve always struggled with. I was determined. But what do you do when the situation you’re in is entirely out of your control? I was teaching myself that I could get through anything if I was in control of it, but when there’s nothing you can do, you have no choice but to watch everything come crushing down around you. Being in a situation that you have no control over destroys you mentally. I also questioned the true meaning of love and whether I even believed in it. I lost respect. I lost dignity. And that’s when I learnt that the people closest to you are most capable of hurting you. I hid away. I distanced myself from a lot of people. I didn’t want to bring anyone down with the negativity that was going on in my life. I wanted to avoid people asking that question ‘so how are you, what have you been up too’. I mean, I could lie like I did a lot of the time and say I’m fine. But then you’re in that viscous circle of needing people to know what you’re going through but also not knowing how to tell them. Where do I start? I still don’t know where to start… 

 2016 showed me how much emotional pain you can take. It revealed true friends and true colours. But I guess I’m also thankful. 2016, The year I had to grow up and the year I learnt the most. It taught me that you cannot plan your life. By all means have goals and be ambitious but don’t expect it to be plain sailing. Anything can happen on your pathway in life – things you’re never prepared for or thought would ever happen. It taught me that no matter how hard things get, you’ll always get those people that are your angels in disguise and will help you. I’ve felt truly blessed by the kindness I have received from some people this year, a lot of them people I didn’t even know the previous year! And when people do good for you, pass it on and do good for other people. A simple act of kindness can make a tremendous impact on someone’s life and if we pass it on then I think the world will be going in the right direction.

 As for now, my life isn’t perfect. But what life is perfect? If life was perfect then we’d never learn anything. I’m still adapting to change and I still have a long way to go but thankfully the last week of 2016 gave me positive thoughts about 2017. I have plenty of perfect moments in my life and for me, that’s all we need.

 The biggest thing I learnt? I am stronger than I think. 

 We’re all stronger than we think. Some things you don’t think you can get through, but we all do, somehow. And each time you get stronger. peacelovesmile

Peace & love for 2017 to everyone 

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