Heena

Published: 129 articles

My Streetlights

In the last twelve months, as I dealt with some unexpected lows as well as some welcome highs, there were a couple of quotes that resonated with me time and again. (Here’s the link to the blog about that time, if you’d like a peek.)

 

The quote I want to focus on today is this one…

“Good friends are like streetlights along the road. They don’t make the distance any shorter, but they make the road easier to navigate.” – Melchor Lim.

 

After publishing last week’s blogpost I was completely blown away by the kindness of my gorgeous readers, my heart touched and healed by the supportive messages I received. Almost all those messages praised my bravery.

 

Last year was unimaginably tough. There were moments when I got so tired of dealing with illness, of living with the pain and of feeling the white-hot darts of fear, I wanted more than anything to just crumple into a corner and stay there. That’s not very brave.

 

The reason I’m here today, writing this, is because of the people who lent me their bravery last year. I think real bravery is in seeing someone stumble in the dark and lending them your light. It is in lending them your strength and power when they feel weak and vulnerable. Real bravery is recognising the long, difficult journey someone else is taking, and unflinchingly stepping onto that path with them.

 

The path I was on last year was not a pretty path. It was not strewn with rose petals and fairy lights. It was a path lit by the glaring and unflattering light of despairingly long cold hospital corridors. It was littered with stones and gravel. I had no choice but to walk along it regardless.

 

The people I want to thank are the ones who had a choice. They could have chosen to send me a meaningless platitude or two, then continued moving on with their lives, without getting themselves tangled up in the mess of mine. But they didn’t. They chose to walk with me, to keep me company. On those days when I wanted to crumple into a corner, they pulled me back into the light, and into their love.

 

This is real bravery. To walk with someone else, when you don’t need to. To lend your strength, your courage, your love and your light to someone when you don’t need to. This is love. These are the real warriors.

 

I am grateful to every single person who has helped me through, but today, I would like to acknowledge my own personal army of wonderful warriors.

 

I will never forget how brightly you have shone your lights along my path. My gorgeous gleaming friends – Jemma, Angela, Pippa, Emilia, Gaby, Matt, Andy, Mark, Jo B, Jo L, Rajan, Ann, Linda, Lisa, Judith, Georgina. My lovingly luminous family – Mum, Dad, Ajay and Vijay. My stunningly stellar streetlights.

One Day, One Year, One Life

It’s been just over a year since I wrote my last blog post. For a very long time I haven’t wanted to write any more blog posts. In fact, I haven’t wanted to write anything at all – not blogposts, nor chapters for the new book, not even to-do lists (which I love and live by).

 

I’ve struggled with writing anything because for me, writing is about releasing whatever truth I’m working through at the time. And from the end of February 2016, I was dealing with a significant truth that I didn’t feel I could share. In the spirit of honesty, I’m still not 100% sure I want to share all the gory details of that truth – not yet, anyway. But I’d like to share a little of it with you.

 

The title of the blog post should really be two days, one year, one life. There were two specific days in February 2016 that changed my life.

 

The first was 17th February – the day the wonderful breeders I had been in contact with for the last few months told me that their gorgeous girl Amber had given birth to ten healthy puppies, and I would be getting one of the boys. Losing Simba in 2015 was one of the hardest things I’d dealt with, and there was a huge dog shaped hole in my life that was about to be filled. I was fizzing with so much excitement I felt like it was bursting through my skin into the air around me.

 

The second day was just as momentous, and as much of a low as the puppy announcement had been a high. Until February 2016, I had been in remission from Endometrial cancer for over seven years. But on that second life-changing day, 28th February, I was told that it was back.

 

I had had huge plans for 2016. It was going to be my year. 2015 had been consumed by the loss of Simba and learning to deal with the grief but by the end of the year, I had found my mojo again. My head was full of new beginnings and new plans – I was more than ready for 2016 so I could get going with them – more writing, better writing, publishing another book, a new puppy, maybe even getting back on the dating scene.

 

Plans. Lots of plans.I still have the vision board I made with my 2016 plans. But, just as in that famous quote “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”, my actual 2016 looked very different.  I spent March and April in a haze of weekdays coping with a full-time contract, as well as the side effects of the new medication, added to a whole new health and fitness regime to help my body fight off the cancer, and weekends full of visits to play with the puppies. I treasure those hour long visits with the puppies – they reminded me that I had something wonderful to look forward to and fight to get healthy for.

 

I limited my social life to time with the very few wonderful friends and family I had shared my diagnosis with. I lived 2016 in segments. Three months of treatment, two weeks of operations, recovery and results (results which just wouldn’t go my way, no matter which drug combination we tried), then another three months of treatment, and so on. I will be forever grateful and forever in the debt of that select group of exceptional souls for keeping me going, keeping me focused on the positive and holding me up when I couldn’t hold myself up.

 

The highlight of 2016 was 17th April, when I brought my new puppy, Loki, home. He was (and still is) absolutely adorable, and settled in so quickly it felt as though he’d always been with me. I was besotted. But I felt permanently exhausted from a crazy combination of looking after a new puppy, working full-time at a great contract, working on the book at lunchtimes, and trying to fight the side effects of the medication. Three months into this schedule, I conceded that I just didn’t have enough energy to juggle all those balls. But the only one I could let go of was the writing. I cried all weekend after making that decision. I was putting on hold one of my biggest, most dearly held dreams just when I felt it was within reach, and it hurt like hell.

 

Painful or not, it was the right thing to do. I needed to focus all my energy on getting better. I was going to be fine, and I was going to hold onto my womb. I held onto that truth with fists balled up tight, in case it slipped even a millimetre. Each time a particular drug combination didn’t work, I convinced myself that the next combination would be the one that did. At the beginning of November, my consultant told me we had run out of drug-related options. The only way to beat this now was to have a full hysterectomy. I’d always know this was a possibility, all the way back to when I was first diagnosed, right back in 2006. But I had always imagined I was the exception, I was the one that the drugs would work for, and one day, I’d have children. And for almost eight years I was the exception. In November, I stopped being the exception. The choice was … well, it wasn’t a choice. It was the only path left to take. Cancer was going to take away my chance to give birth. The operation was scheduled for January 2017. I was determined it wasn’t going to ruin my life or even the end of 2016. I chose to have the most amazing Christmas – I said yes to every invitation, went to every party, and spent as much time as possible with friends and family. I had a very lovely month indeed.

 

I didn’t make any New Year’s Resolutions at the beginning of January 2017. I didn’t do a vision board. I didn’t write a single goal. I focused on becoming as fit and healthy as possible in preparation for the major surgery I was about to face. My personal New Year would begin after the hysterectomy at end of January.

 

I’m pleased to say the operation went well. The tumour has been removed. I need a little radiotherapy, which I’ll have as soon as I’ve healed from the operation.

 

I’m still not making any plans for the rest of 2017. I don’t know what is ahead. I hope that it’s good. I even dare to hope that it’s better than last year. I do know that I have the most amazing friends and family (and a wonderfully supportive work family too). I know I have my lovely little Loki. I know I have options. They just happen to be slightly different to the options I thought I would have. So now I will take action. Every day, I’ll do something that takes me forward. I’m going to start writing again. I’ll be back at work soon. As soon as I’ve healed I’ll be able to start walking Loki again, which I miss more than I can say. I’m also going to make sure that every day I do something that makes me smile. That’s an easy win, as I have my lovely Loki around. And every day I will be grateful for the monumental privilege of being here, of living.

 

And then?

 

Well, then…life. Just life. Glorious, unpredictable, terrifying, exhilarating life.

Love is like a beard

REAL LOVEI saw this in amongst the myriad of ‘Love Is’ memes doing the rounds at the moment.

The actual quote is “True love is like a beard. It never ends – it only grows.”

I’m sharing it with you because it made me smile and it made me think. Maybe we should all be like beards.  Note – we should not BE beards. That would be weird and unhelpful. But if we decided to be LIKE beards, and we dedicated ourselves to always growing, how awesome would our lives be?

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit this weekend. It’s Valentines Day today, and my thoughts have naturally turned to those I have loved, those who have loved me, and those whose love I have wanted but haven’t had.

It was a lovely surprise, as I was going through that mental list, to find that actually, looking back at the way life has worked out, I’m glad that I didn’t get the relationships that I thought at the time I wanted so much. In some cases, it was a false idea, and has since come crumbling away. In other cases it’s because something better came along and swept away all old ideas.

The biggest thing – for me – is this. If I had gotten what I wanted, when I wanted it, I don’t think I’d be the person I am today. I doubt I’d have been following my writing dream. I’m not entirely sure I’d have had the time and the opportunity and the space to truly think about what I want and what I don’t want in a relationship, or in life. And I don’t think I’d have been as confident in my own skin as I am (don’t get me wrong, I’m still not there on this one. It’s a work in progress…but there has definitely been progress).

It’s a realisation that’s taken me a long time to get to. And I will probably need to keep reminding myself of it, especially on days like this. Days when I look around and I see lots of coupled-upness, and could easily fall into the trap of feeling as though I might be missing out somehow, or that I’m not enough because I don’t have any coupled-upness of my own. Because actually I’m not missing out. I’m happy where I am.

And I feel hopeful that being happy with me, or at least happier with me than I have been in a very long time, also means I might be able to allow someone else to be happy with me when the time is right.

I hope that wherever you are, whatever your situation, whether you’re coupled-up or singled-up, that you spend some time on you, on finding ways to be happy in your own skin, to really love who you are. Because it’s only then, when we love who we are, that our proverbial beards can grow.

What do you think?

The Power of Your Potential

the power of potentialHappy New Year!  I hope you’ve had a little time over the festive season to recharge, reconnect with friends and family and maybe even think about what you want to focus on in 2016.

I have to admit I’m not a fan of new year’s resolutions. I talk about it in a little more in today’s newsletter. If you want to see why, and you also want to find out how to implement ‘word of the year’ which I much prefer, then sign-up in the space opposite.

If you’re definitely a new year’s resolution fan, then you’re in for a treat. I actually found some, through the ever fabulous Judith Morgan, that I absolutely love and I hope you do too. Here’s the link to the Buzzfeed article – I’d love to hear what you think of these!

Whether you use resolutions or a ‘word of the year’ or nothing at all, the end of the year is a time when you can’t help but think about the past twelve months, and how you’ve coped with the ups and downs in your journey. I came across this quote, which makes me feel slightly melancholy and yet hopeful at the same time.

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice, and to make an end is to make a beginning.” – TS Elliot

I will be saying goodbye not just to a difficult period in 2015 when I lost my beloved boy Simba, but also saying goodbye to that whole chapter of my life. On the other hand, 2015 included one of the biggest highlights of my life, when ‘Coping with the Horroffice‘ was released. 2015 was certainly a defining year. As I say goodbye to the past twelve months, I also start to look at what 2016 might hold for me. And I’ve found a great guide in the form of the quote below…

“We spend January 1st walking through our lives room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws but for potential.” – Ellen Goodman

More often than not, our resolutions for the coming year are also a well-disguised list of our flaws –  for example, ‘I want to lose 10lbs’ might also be translated as ‘I’m not happy with my body’. Of course, it would be great to have a lighter, healthier body and it’s a great goal to work towards. But maybe it would also be great to acknowledge that the body you’re in right now has carried you through to where you are now, and that’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

So here’s an idea for us both to try out – whether you write out resolutions, or work out your word of the year, or do neither, perhaps you could find just five minutes to remember and give thanks for all the wonderful things you’ve experienced in 2015, and to look for all the beautiful potential you already hold as you go into 2016.

Here’s to a 2016 full of love, joy and the power of your potential.

 

Sending Love

Sending Love (1)I’ve been thinking about what I could include in this penultimate blog post of the year when it’s not quite Christmas Day, but it’s tantalisingly close. I was also looking through some pictures and quotes for inspiration. Nothing seemed quite right. I decided to take a break and make myself a tea, and as I was waiting for the kettle to boil, I read through the Christmas cards I’ve received and smiled as I thought of the people who had sent them.

And then I realised something. Do you know which word is included in each and every one of those cards? It’s not ‘Happy’ or ‘Merry’ or even ‘Christmas’. It’s ‘Love’.

‘With love’, ‘lots of love’, ‘love from’…it’s all about love.

And I think that’s part of the magic of Christmas. It’s the one time of the year when we are all, collectively and consciously, thinking of others and sending love. It might be a little extra patience with a work colleague who hasn’t delivered, but you can’t be mad ‘because it’s Christmas’. It might be spending an extra hour at the shops when you’re already exhausted, so you can get something that’s just perfect for a friend ‘because it’s Christmas’. Or it might be waking up at an unspeakably early hour so you can make sure you have everything ready for your family ‘because it’s Christmas’.

How wonderful to spend a whole month focussed on thinking about everyone who means something to us. Whether it’s a card, a phone-call, a text, a present or meeting them for a hug and a chat and a catch-up, underneath it all, what we are doing is sending love.

Even when we are thinking of those who aren’t here to enjoy Christmas with us, there may be sadness, but there will undoubtedly also be funny stories and happy memories, and love.

“I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still. – Rachel Cohn”

I think that this collective thinking of our loved ones and sending out loving wishes is a rare and special magic. For me, that’s part of the magic of Christmas.

So as you read this, please know that I am thinking of you, and I am wishing you a wonderful Christmas, and I am sending you love.

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”

Heena. x.

May The Force Be With You

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOUIt’s impossible to avoid it, so I’m not even going to try. This week we will see one of the world’s biggest and most extravagant and most eagerly anticipated movie premieres of all time – Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And although there are a whole host of memorable characters in the franchise, the one that I love the most is the teeny tiny green Grand Jedi Master and all around most awesome creature in the known (and possibly unknown) universe – Yoda.

 

Did you know that Yoda was involved to some extent in the training of almost every Jedi? It’s true – Wikipedia says so! It would be rude to ignore such a galactic level of wisdom, so today, I thought we could remind ourselves of three of Yoda’s most famous quotes.  Here they are, in reverse order….

 

#3 – “Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” – Yoda

A pretty meaty one to kick-off with, isn’t it? It’s something we all find hard to do – we learn to hide our fears from our colleagues, our friends and family and especially from ourselves. We’re taught to ‘show no fear’. But I’ve learned that hiding away from my fears just makes them bigger and more fearsome. Facing them, even if it’s initially painful, is really the only way to start to banish them. Rock on Yoda!

 

#2 – “Luke: I can’t believe it. Yoda: That is why you fail.” – Yoda

Another cracking quote with some power-packed truth behind it. For a very long time, I didn’t believe I could be a writer. When people asked me what I was doing or wanted to do, I would always say I was an accountant and working towards becoming a writer. I don’t say that anymore. I tell people I’m a writer, with an accountancy background. I work as a finance contractor to pay the bills whilst I develop my writing. I also believe there’s a shiny sparkly day not too far away when I will be a full-time writer, living comfortably from my writerly (yes, it’s a word, honest!) earnings. The more I believe I’m a writer, the more the Universe is conspiring to make that true. What do you need to start believing for it to materialise?

 

#1 – “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

I’ve saved the best for last. This is an absolute doozy. I spent at least ten years wishing I was a writer, telling everyone I wanted to be a writer and dreaming of becoming a writer. Do you want to know what my total literary efforts were in that entire decade? Three poems, one short story, and one very short children’s book (the first draft of which actually took me less than a week to pull together). Ten years, and not even 100,000 words.  So clearly, although I said I wanted it, I wasn’t actually doing anything about it. And what happened when I decided to ‘do’?  I decided in May 2014 to write Coping with the Horroffice. By February 2015 it was written, edited and up on Amazon. I’m almost at the end of the planning stage for my second book, fiction this time. I have notes on at least five other ideas for books (fiction and non-fiction) that I want to work on. Yoda was right – if you want something, there’s no space for half-hearted half-assed efforts. Go all in, and, as Yoda says…Do.

 

So there you go. Three monumental quotes and three mighty rules to live by. Let’s agree to put all three into place, awaken the force inside ourselves and see what a magnificent 2016 awaits us.

 

May the Force be with you.

Christmas Dazzle

ChrstmAs we head into the middle of December, all around me my friends, colleagues and family are getting into the Christmas spirit. It makes me think of two quotes that seem particularly relevant, and I want to see what you think.

“Remember, This December, That love weighs more than gold!” – Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

A great quote, don’t you think (And a great name too!)?  It’s a touching sentiment and strong idea but I think it can sometimes get lost as we let the marketing men dazzle us with golden promises. Love might be more important, but sometimes it can feel light as air.

Here’s the second quote, one that made me smile a little ruefully, because I have to fight the urge to do this myself, and especially at Christmas when I want to shower the people I love with fabulous treats.

“Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.”  – Author Unknown

You know how it goes. We start off with the best of intentions. We have ‘that’ talk, with our friends, with our family, with our work colleagues.  It goes something like this

“I can’t believe it’s December already.  I haven’t even started thinking about presents.  I’ve got so many to get, it’s just silly.  Really, Christmas has become too commercial, it’s all about spending money. I’m going to stick to a budget this time, and only get things people might really want” 

But then you hit the shops, and you start looking around, and you start putting things in your basket because you want to make Christmas feel really special. When the people you love open their presents, you want the present to shout out how much you love them. And so the budget moves a bit, and then a bit more, and then it goes out of the window.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?  Of course we have.  So why do we do it?  Do we really think our friends and our family will love us less because we’ve spent a little less money on their presents?  Or think about it from a different angle – would you really love your husband, wife, children, parents, siblings, or friends less if they spent on your present only what they could actually afford, rather than what they felt they should be able to give you.  If they gave you a huge box of your favourite chocolates and an ‘I Owe You’ for a whole evening, a whole day or even a whole week of their time and attention, wouldn’t that be even better than an expensive perfume to add to the ten you already may have, and a hurried half hour for a coffee and pressie exchange?

Think about why we love presents so much.  It’s very rarely the thing itself that we love.  It’s the feeling that someone you love has spent time thinking about you, and has made the effort to get you something they think you’ll enjoy.  And when you think about some of the best Christmases’ you’ve had, what do you remember?  A cosy couple of days with your family, or finally catching up with that friend you haven’t seen all year, and really being able to relax and catch-up, to talk, to share, and to laugh.  None of those memories are about things, they’re all about people.  Spending real time (not just a rushed coffee catch up, or quick call or text) with the people you love is the ultimate luxury, the most extravagant present you can lavish on someone.

If you choose it, and without spending any money you can have a very very luxurious Christmas with the people you love.

Wishing you a luxurious loving and festive season!

Heena. x.

Day by Day

I have a Facebook page, and every day I post up little memes or quotes that catch my eye. On Monday I posted the quote below. It seemed to hit a nerve.

Day by Day

I posted it because we’re just starting to hit the Christmas craziness. We’re bombarded by ads that paint a picture of the perfect Christmas dinner, the perfect Christmas tree, the perfect Christmas family…you get the idea. We take in all these messages, subtle and not-so-subtle, telling us what we should be aiming for and we start to run around trying to make that happen. We contort ourselves into all manner of uncomfortableness in an effort to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas. More often than not though, we don’t end up with the perfect Christmas. Mostly because our Christmas isn’t aided by soft-focus, soft-glow lighting, or set-dressers. It doesn’t have an immaculately dressed fake family sharing smiles and crackers over fake food painted to look deliciously deletable. 

No.

What our Christmas seems to include is frazzled nerves from the strain of shopping for a sackful of thoughtful, personal and unique presents for our loved ones. It includes headaches and worry as we try to be everywhere and do everything. And it includes disappointment when we finally stop to look around and we realise our Christmas looks nothing like the one we’ve been aiming for, the one promised to us if we just buy ‘X’ and invest in ‘Y’ and spend money on ‘Z’. What we actually end up with is a REAL Christmas.

And that’s ok. It’s more than ok.

We don’t have to feel the disappointment. We don’t have to believe the hype. Just ’cause they’re selling ‘perfect’ doesn’t mean we have to buy it. I’m not saying don’t bother making any effort. I’m just saying there is only so much you can control. Your time and resources are limited. So work out what is most important to you and your family. Then just focus on that. Forget the rest.

Here’s something my family changed a couple of years ago (I’m sure they won’t mind me sharing this little tradition). We don’t have any young children in the family. We’re all adults and whenever we need something we go out and buy it. Which is as it should be. It used to make things a bit difficult at Christmas though, because we always ended up getting each other things we didn’t need, and didn’t even necessarily want. Two years ago we decided not to do that. Instead, we all agreed on an amount that we were comfortable spending, and we used it to buy an experience. We bought something we could all enjoy, something we wouldn’t normally take the time to arrange, and it became our Christmas gift to each other. And it’s proved to be a present that keeps on giving. We relished the initial pleasure of choosing the experience, we loved the anticipation of the day out, we truly enjoyed spending time with each other having tea at the Ritz, or whatever we chose, and we now have some very happy memories to cherish. We didn’t have to hit the shops once. There’s no extra ‘stuff’ cluttering up anyone’s cupboards. The downside is there are no physical presents to open on Christmas morning. But that feels like a very small price to pay in comparison to the joy we get from our days out.

That’s just an example though. You don’t have to give up on presents if that’s what makes Christmas feel more Christmassy for you. Maybe you settle for a table haphazardly laid by little hands, so you have one less thing to do. Maybe you just say no to an invitation you don’t really want to accept, and spend the time doing something you enjoy. Maybe, just maybe, you go for it and day by day you do what you can, with what you have and you let go of the things you can’t control. But I mean really let go. Let go of the stress and the disappointment and the regret. You look at your lopsided tree and accept that it’s ok, just as it is. You look at the badly wrapped presents and accept that they’re ok, just as they are. You look at your messy, argumentative wonderful family and you realise that they’re imperfectly perfect, as is your imperfectly perfect, REAL Christmas.

Big Journeys and Big Magic

Big Journeys and Big MagicThis week there’s been a very distinct theme to the conversations around me. Journeys. Everyone has been talking about journeys. Some have talked of actual journeys being taken or being planned, but others, the ones that have really stayed with me, have been where people are talking about their personal journeys. I will never get bored of hearing about someone’s personal journey, their path to finding what they’re looking for – whether that’s love, or work or happiness or fulfilment.

I’m also in the middle of a wonderful new book – Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. In the book, I’ve just got to the part where she talks about the journey to true creativity, and it’s making me itchy with excitement and hope. (It’s also making me yearn to to go back and read Eat, Pray, Love in which she documented her own journey back from the wilderness – if you haven’t read either of them I highly recommend both). And of course, all this talk and reading got me thinking about my own journey to something I love.

My journey only truly started when I acknowledged that I wasn’t happy with my life the way it was. And it took some huge signs from the Universe (like two bouts of cancer within twelve months of each other) to get me to stop and really think about where I was going in life and whether that was a destination I had ever even aimed for.

It turns out I hadn’t aimed for it, and once I’d worked that out, I could set about trying to change course. Unlike those cheesy Hollywood movies, my journey wasn’t rags to riches, despair to delight or gloomy to glorious. It wasn’t easy or a linear path either. I’m quite impulsive by nature, and as soon as I realised I wasn’t happy in my career I jumped straight into another one. One that at the time felt perfect. When that still wasn’t quite right eighteen months later, I jumped again, into a completely different direction. Finally, when I’d run out of money and options I dejectedly shuffled back into the career I’d started in and wanted to escape from. It was worse this time, because I knew I didn’t want to be there. The problem was, I still didn’t know what I really wanted to do. And then, through a series of circumstances which at the time I raged against (including the contract from Hell that I had to endure for six months and was so awful I needed to share the experience it to purge it), I stumbled back into writing. And I knew I’d discovered my thing. Or to be more precise I’d rediscovered it after giving up on it the first time around.

Wonderful, right? Kind of. There’s a little bit more to it. When you find your perfect thing, the one that makes you feel like you’ve come home, please take a moment to accept that it won’t necessarily and magically fix things. It won’t make life suddenly perfect. But it will make the struggle worthwhile. That’s how it was (and sometimes still is) for me. I know what I want to do. In fact, I’m actually doing it. Sadly it hasn’t magically made my life instantly perfect. Instead, it has brought me joy, satisfaction and hope, and that’s pretty good, isn’t it?

Here’s what I’ve learned from my journey so far:

  • Sometimes the biggest win is recognising you are ready to go on a journey,
  • Sometimes it’s about embracing the search without worrying about the outcome and,
  • Always it’s about knowing that it’s ok to start again and try something new.

Finally, there’s an aspect of the journey that I’ve struggled with myself, and I’ve also seen others struggle with. And that is acknowledging that your ‘perfect thing’ right now might not be (actually, accepting that it almost definitely won’t be) your perfect thing in ten years. My perfect thing was writing. It’s always been writing. However, that perfect thing had never been in the shape of a non-fiction personal development style book. But that’s exactly what my first book is – a non-fiction, personal development guide to coping with working life. I’d survived the contract from Hell and I needed to share my experiences of the Horroffice. And so Coping with the Horroffice was born. I’m working on my first fiction book right now, which feels perfect for me at this particular moment. I also know that whilst I will probably still be writing in the future, that may be a different version of perfect to the one I’m pursuing today. I might choose to write screenplays or song lyrics or poetry. I might even be studying for a Literature degree. Who knows? The point is, there is no end point and no certainty. My search will continue and so will yours. As it should.

That’s the final thing I want to share that I’ve learned. It’s ok for your perfect thing to change – and for you not to know what’s next.

So if all that’s true, could it also be true that the trick, the magic ingredient, the way to create big journeys full of big magic is to find happiness in each step?

“Big dreams create the magic that stir men’s souls to greatness” – Bill McCartney

Let’s go out there and look for our big dreams, enjoying some big journeys as we do it – what do you say?

Light and Hope

Light and HopeI don’t know if you’re aware of this, but every week I write a newsletter to my lovely subscribers. In addition, every week, I write to you via this blog. Sometimes the theme of the newsletter and the theme of the blog post are similar. But each piece of writing is unique.

 

I’m changing that today. I wrote a newsletter on Sunday that I found really hard, but I felt I needed to share it. After this morning’s events, I feel strongly enough to share it again, in its entirety, with you. So, for the first time ever, here’s the newsletter I sent out on Sunday.

 

(If you’d like to hear from me on a Sunday evening, just drop your email details in the form on this page).

Here’s the letter…

“I’m going to be honest with you – I wasn’t sure I could write to you today.

Earlier on this week, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment, and scribbled it down – I thought it would make for a great letter. But then Friday evening happened, and I wasn’t so sure anymore.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and going back and forth on it. It feels wrong to stay silent on those events. It also feels wrong to keep going over something that I know has been filling your newsfeed, and timeline and TV screen and thoughts just as much as it’s been filling mine.

So I went back and looked at what I’d scribbled midweek, and actually I think it’s even more important now to say it – so here goes…

This week I’ve been celebrating Diwali with my family and friends. Celebrating Diwali mostly consists of spending lots of time cooking the most delicious food with my mum, and then spending lots of time sharing that food with those that I love. It means lighting candles and bringing out the twinkly lights, and it means enjoying that happy, ‘fresh-start’ vibe that’s ripe with hope and joy.

Diwali is the Hindu festival of light. At Diwali we celebrate the triumph of good over evil, of knowledge over ignorance, of love over hate, and the triumph of light over darkness.

One of the things I noticed over the course of the week is how kind everyone has been to each other. We’ve been more tolerant of those little niggles that family members are so good at honing in on. We’ve been keener to make an effort. We’ve been more willing to laugh. So the thing that I scribbled down was this. ‘How can I be kinder at work? How can I keep this feeling going?’

I know that I’m sometimes so focussed on getting the job done that I cut corners elsewhere – I spend less time listening to my colleagues, I isolate myself a little, so I can clear my workload. I’m not the only one. My colleagues do it too. It’s become normal. We’re all busy, we’re all stressed, we’re all working to impossible deadlines. So we all disconnect a little bit. We have less patience and tolerance. We’re more easily irritated. We might get the work done, but it makes for a less happy, more miserable work environment.

And actually, a little kindness can go a long way. What’s more, it doesn’t have to cut into my precious time too much either. So here are a few ideas I’m going to play with when I go in to work tomorrow – I’m going to pick up some coffees on the way in, I’m going to save the link to the funny cat video for a colleague who loves cats, I’m going to go out of my way to say thank you and compliment a colleague on making that extra effort. Probably not all at once. But every day, I vow to do something.

The way I see it, that’s how I can keep the light turned on. That’s how I can keep the underlying message from my week of celebrating Diwali alive. I know it’s not much, but it’s something, it’s a start, isn’t it?

In our darkest time, when we may feel that we have no control over anything, we can choose not to give up or give in. We can choose to find that one tiny spark of hope and we can nurture it. We can treat each other a little more kindly, with a little more patience, with a little more love.

 

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King

Wishing you a week ahead full of love, light and hope.

Love,

Heena.”

I hope you find a way to keep the lights turned on in your heart and your world, not just today, but every day.