The best things happen unexpectedly…

I remember a few months ago my friend trying to encourage me to give online dating another go despite my reservations about it, and I was adamant I wasn’t going to. However, curiosity got the better of me and so I decided to join just to have a look, but my heart wasn’t really in it. Then I started to get some likes and of course you can’t see anything unless you get a subscription so after deliberating for a while something made me sign up.

Fairly quickly I remember regretting it but decided to make the most out of it and so I put effort into my profile (rather than leaving most of it blank or vague) and put a few photos of myself on. I didn’t have much faith that anything would come of it as I had it in my head that realistically it would be unlikely to find someone that would entertain dating a woman in her 30’s with 2 young children.

However, I started chatting to someone, but I didn’t expect anything to come out of it especially as people often talk about trivial things and then things fizzle out or they just disappear! 

After numerous messages we decided to meet up…this was my first date in years! To say I was nervous was an understatement!

When you meet someone for the first time you never know if you are going to get along in person or how you will feel and so I was fairly reserved in my expectations of how it would go.

I remember seeing her for the first time and thinking how pretty she was and that her photos didn’t do her justice and that’s when the butterflies kicked in!

I never expected to feel so at ease with someone I had just met or to chat away about all sorts for hours…it was evident at this point I knew I liked her and wanted to see her again.

It makes me feel emotional to think of how amazing she is. She came into my life at a time when I had just found out I was pregnant, and she was with me throughout the miscarriage. She was incredibly supportive and caring and I remember feeling as if it was too good to be true.

I never imagined it would be possible to find someone special and to be in a relationship again let alone for someone to embrace my girls and be fully supportive of my surrogacy journey. It is safe to say that I feel incredibly lucky to have met such an amazing woman and I still pinch myself now.

My girls adore her, and it is very heart-warming seeing her with them. It certainly makes life easier knowing that they all like each other even if I still feel like it is a lot for her to take on. It’s one thing being in a relationship with someone without children, it’s something very different to be in a relationship with someone with children.

It is such a lovely feeling when you can truly feel like yourself with someone and I love the fact that we are so open and honest, and we have shared a lot with each other. It takes a lot for me to let my guard down and open up to people, but I feel safe when I am with her.

She has certainly put a sparkle in my eye, and I can’t remember the last time I felt this happy.

I am excited about what the future holds, and I am looking forward to embracing this new chapter in my life…no longer as a single mum!

Happy News…

So, this week the news has brought our attention to quite a lot of upsetting and distressing events around the world. I could talk about it or sit and think about it but like most human beings I have a limit as to how much I can handle at any given time. Sometimes my mind feels too full, and I find myself wishing I could empty some thoughts or have a ‘mental’ filling system clear-out. Although I am aware of what is happening in the world, I know that unfortunately I do not have a magic wand (although I wish I did!) and therefore there is not a lot I can do. In order to protect myself I can’t always think about these things and so I decide not to read all the news articles and instead go in my ‘bubble’.

I have spoken to people about recent events, and most are horrified, upset and some are even scared about what lies ahead.

I read an interesting article about ‘doomscrolling’ which basically means getting lost in news or social media threads and seeing the comments. People can find themselves almost getting drawn in even though what you are reading is disheartening. The article gave suggestions of how we can avoid doomscrolling including making your mornings sacred meaning not scrolling through social media as soon as you wake up (or before bed) and instead allocate time for this. If you do find yourself doomscrolling try telling yourself to stop (out loud), put your phone down, walk away and try to distract yourself. Finally, try to find something positive to do instead of doomscrooling such as reading a book, calling a friend, doodling, or journaling.

As a way to help prevent doomscrolling (especially given recent events), I have decided to dedicate this post to Happy News…things that have happened around the world in the past week that are positive!! It is rare for the news to cover happy stories which is why I am sharing some with you now…

  1. Scientists have reported seeing a remarkable number of blue whales around South Georgia. They spotted 55 compared with only 2 in 2018!
  2. A woman who fled the war in Syria as a teenager by swimming for 3 hours in the sea, saving passengers from a sinking boat along the way and finally walking from Greece to Germany has recently competed in the 100m Butterfly at the Olympics.
  3. I love this one…Japan has appointed a ‘Minister of loneliness’ to tackle the mental health crisis. This has been sparked by an increased in suicide rates since Covid-19. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every country had a ‘Minister of loneliness?’
  4. A social enterprise called Change Please is taking over 55 coffee outlets around the UK and Ireland. Change Please trains homeless people as baristas, offers them a living wage, helps them access housing, a bank account and mental health support. It is able to do this by using profits from selling coffee. What an amazing and life changing project!
  5. A wildlife survey in Scotland has revealed that beavers are rapidly recolonising the country’s waterways, more than 400 years after they were hunted to extinction. It is estimated that there are now 1000 wild beavers in Scotland.
  6. Sebastiao Salgado grew up in a part of Brazil that was full of beautiful rainforests, however when he returned in 2000 only 0.5% of forest remained. However, he founded an organisation which planted more than 2 million seedlings of more than 290 species of trees and plants. In 20 years, 1,500 acres of rainforest have been recovered, and 293 species of plants, 15 reptile species, 172 bird species, 15 amphibian species, and 33 mammal species have returned. What an amazing individual! It goes to show that we are capable of anything!

And if those positive news stories haven’t put a smile on your face, a scientific study has proven that forcing a smile actually makes you happier. So even if you don’t feel like it, smile! This can trick our brain into thinking there is something to smile about which then improves our mood.

Achievements

It has been a very challenging 10 months, what with living through a global pandemic, court cases, getting divorced and the first year of my counselling course amongst other things!! 

I questioned whether to even apply for the counselling course with everything going on, and doubted my ability to get offered a place, let alone anything else. However, after a very intense and demanding interview, I got offered a place. I knew in my heart that my passion lies working with children and young people, and I found out about a local charity that offers counselling and different forms of therapy to young people and their families. I decided to get in touch to see if they offered placements (not expecting anything to come of it) and I got offered an interview. 

I had no idea what to expect, so I couldn’t really prepare for it and I remember feeling a little daunted as I was interviewed by 3 people including the founder and director. However, I loved the fact that her dog was also part of the interview panel, and although I was grilled we also had a giggle, and they made me feel very comfortable. I had no idea what they were looking for or how it went, but then the director told me that they have a secret code to say if they like someone and that they had used it, meaning that they’d like to offer me a place. I remember feeling myself grinning from ear to ear, and I was so happy. Not only had I secured a placement early on but also my dream placement! 

The course itself has been challenging as we spent the first 8 months online, therefore we’d not met anyone on our course, and we didn’t get that interaction that you’d normally get in the classroom or when meeting for a drink as we were in lockdown. We also had to work in triad groups practising our counselling skills online with strangers, bringing real material, and it was scary. I was very lucky that everyone I worked with was very supportive, and I have no doubt that they’ll all go on to be amazing counsellors. Despite the challenges I became comfortable having sessions online and could keep quiet in the background but this all changed when we had to go back into college and I admit I wasn’t looking forward to it. 

However, in the 2 months that we spent in class together, I think has seen the biggest change in me. I’ve certainly come out of my shell more and when I had my end of year tutorial with my tutor she commented on how much she had watched me grow personally and within the group and what a pleasure it had been to watch. It was lovely to hear such comments, on top of which, I also got told that I had passed all my assignments, case study and skills sessions meaning that I can go onto my final year in September and that I can officially start my placement! 

I am very proud of myself and everyone else on the course. We’ve had so much to learn and do in such a short space of time, and without the support of each other, I think we would have found it even harder. It’s hard to believe that in a years time I will have (hopefully) completed the course and be a fully qualified counsellor! 

It’s a shame that when we all went out after our last day in college that we couldn’t really celebrate as we didn’t have our results, but that just means that we’ll have to arrange another night out during the summer!!!

I don’t think we acknowledge our achievements enough, particularly as adults, yet I believe it’s important. We should feel proud and enjoy celebrating our achievements, however big or small. I feel that quite often achievements are taken for granted or just expected, but every achievement requires hard work, effort, strength, courage, resilience…to name a few. 

Sometimes just getting through the day can feel like an achievement and so that should be celebrated too, even if you just acknowledge your achievements and say well done to yourself, it’s worth doing as those positive affirmations are a vital part of our mental health. 

It can be useful to remind ourselves of what we’ve achieved by writing it down, as it’s all too easy to get swept away with life. Before I sat and wrote down everything I’d achieved since September, I didn’t realise, yet seeing it in front of me gave me a sense of pride and belief that I am stronger that I think.

I’ve not had chance to celebrate passing my first year yet, but I intend to! 

I’m very nervous at the idea of starting my placement, yet I’m also incredibly excited to be closer to achieving my dream of being a counsellor.