The gift of having a life…
Early 2016 my dad bought me a tent! It may seem silly to some, but this was by far the greatest gift I have ever received. It was the gift of “having a life”, An opportunity to collect moments and make precious memories. A simple tent changed everything.
I so desperately wanted my children to experience the childhood my sister, and I enjoyed. We sat down for family meals, camped, holidayed in Europe and The States. As a family, we frequently spent quality time together.
In my opinion, being a single parent life is hard. For several years I struggled with financial hardship, mental health issues, and my children’s behavioural problems. (Two of my three children are diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder). It seems as though, up until this point, my life was consumed by medical appointments, financial burdens and making the wrong relationship decisions. “Boy have I made some terrible decisions”!
In short, I felt I could not provide my children with all the lovely experiences I was blessed with growing up.
Things needed to change
Over the years guilt completely consumed me. I knew as a family we were just struggling through each day. My battle with depression coupled with the struggle of raising children on the autism spectrum, left me feeling alone and unloved. I stopped speaking to all my family for almost a year in a bid to avoid my pain. I honestly thought they just didn’t get it!
My parents emigrated to the States in 1998 so support was via the internet, ‘phone and financial aid. My sister was married to a man who couldn’t tolerate my children, and in turn, we drifted further apart.
That said, I have since realised all they ever tried to do was help me! For this reason, I decided I had to make a change; and quickly before life spiralled out of my control.
Making the change and learning to collect moments
After realising I was always trying to achieve the unachievable. Fictional perfection! I was striving to create a life I thought others had consequently digging myself a deeper hole.
You can create your own perfection by not worrying about what everybody else is doing or thinking. Concentrate on those you hold dear and collect moments from the precious memories you create along the way.
My dad buying me the tent created a kind of snowball effect. Life started to look a little brighter and I realised I didn’t have to own a fancy car or a ten bedroom house. I didn’t even need to own the latest tech or fashionable clothes! The best things in life really are free.
The most important lesson to learn
I recently read an article in The Guardian which really struck a cord. The article is about an Australian nurse, Bronnie Ware who spent several years of her life working in palliative care and looked after patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. Bronnie ultimately wrote a book called the top 5 regrets of the dying; After all these people have nothing left to do but be honest.
Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:
I wish I…
- Had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- Hadn’t worked so hard.
- Would have had the courage to express my feelings.
- Had stayed in touch with my friends.
- Had let myself be happier.
Given these points, it is important to be grateful for what you have and spend time with people who enrich your life in a positive way. Happiness is creating the best life you can with what you have; Love and inner peace are completely free.
It is important to realise whatever your situation the change can come from within.
Starting today collect moments, not things and make a conscious effort to do more “living!”
The more time you spend planning fun activities, the more opportunities you will have to share special moments. This is the glue that connects your “family” and builds deep healthy relationships.
- Pick up the phone, call family or friends you may have lost touch with
- Plan a day trip
- Play with your children
- Give big hugs
- Practice gratitude
- Sit down to eat together
- Take photos
- Watch a movie together
- Arrange a get-together or a party, get the BBQ out!
It doesn’t have to be complicated, with a little bit of effort you can turn bonding into a lifetime of fun, sweet stories and lasting memories. ❤