Saturday 30 October 2004 was the day when I finally started listening to what my life had been trying to tell me for several years. It was the fateful day when I received the phone-call that every parent dreads.
My 9 year old daughter, Georgia, was out playing at a friend’s house and, when I answered my phone, it was the friend’s mother ringing me to tell me that Georgia had been hit by a car. I raced round to their house in a complete state of panic and found Georgia lying in the middle of the road surrounded by ambulance drivers, police and on-lookers. My precious child was covered in blood and as pale as a ghost. As I rushed to her side, I really thought she was dead and I felt as if the bottom had just fallen out of my world.
Miraculously, after several spinal and head x-rays and a good clean-up in the hospital, it turned out that Georgia had escaped with a few stitches on her chin and some bumps and scrapes on her legs. But as I sat beside her hospital bed that night, the question rattled round and round inside my head “Why this had happened to her?” (and, therefore, to me). After I got her to sleep, I sneaked outside for some air and watched the Halloween fireworks lighting up the Belfast skyline. It suddenly struck me that it was exactly 11 years to the day that I had watched the fireworks going off as I lay in a maternity ward during the delivery of my first daughter, Hope. That night, 11 years previously, had also altered the path of my life because we knew that Hope was not going to survive the birth. We had been told that she had severe abnormalities and, after 19 hours of labour, my first daughter was still-born. My world had collapsed around me that night and here I was, exactly 11 years later, wondering what on earth was going on.
What was my life trying to tell me and why had this awful accident happened to Georgia? Why had I nearly lost my only surviving child? The timing was too ‘coincidental’ and, as someone who believes strongly in paying attention to the signs that life gives you, I knew I could not ignore this one. I sat up in the hospital all night trying to figure it out and finally the answer came through loud and clear.
I had spent nearly 4 years making excuses to myself and Georgia. I had been running myself ragged trying to be the mother that I wanted to be and also holding down a demanding job in TV production. A job that often required me to work long, anti-social hours and left me so stressed and drained that, when I did have time with Georgia, I was far from the mum that I felt she deserved. I simply never had enough energy and was constantly running from one place to another, having to off-load Georgia on friends, after-school clubs and family, juggling being a working mum and trying to run our home efficiently, trying to be a loving partner and parent and feeling guilty if I ever thought about taking time just for me. My relationship with my ex-husband was awful and my relationship with my partner was far from satisfactory. I was doing everything half-heartedly and not really succeeding in any area of my life. I was starting to become resentful and frustrated with all of the demands on me. I was over-weight, smoking and drinking heavily, not exercising, sleeping poorly. The doctor had already prescribed me anti-depressants which I refused to take because I knew this was not clinical depression. Quite simply, for a long time, I had felt trapped by my circumstances and my life choices.
For several years, I had talked about leaving my job and I desperately craved the flexibility of hours that would allow me to be the mum that I wanted to be. But how could I possibly walk away from the big salary that my job gave me? How would we survive? We were barely holding it together financially as it was.
As the dawn broke on Sunday 31 October 2004 and Georgia started to stir in her hospital bed, I finally understood that I simply HAD to change something and that thing was ME. My daughter was my top priority, she was the one single thing that mattered most to me in my life – not my job, not my home, not paying the bills. All the money in the world couldn’t replace the precious time that I was missing with Georgia and, if she was taken away from me, my life would be empty and I would crumble. In those moments, I made a very simple decision - I would leave my job and to start to create the life that I really wanted and that my daughter, my partner and I all deserved.
Two and a half years later and what a journey we have been on. I left my TV job within 6 months of Georgia’s accident, re-trained as a Life Coach, set up my own business and am now mistress of my own time and destiny. I work my hours around Georgia’s school routine and am able to manage my energy so that she gets the best of me when we are together. I was able to devote time and energy to my relationship with my partner and heal a lot of the damage that my stress had caused it. After 7 years together, we finally got married in 2005 and have never been happier. My schedule also allows me to build exercise and ‘me time’ into each day and I am now my ideal weight and looking after myself better than ever before. After a few scary months when I was trying to establish my business, far from struggling for money, we were able to move to the house of our dreams last year. On the whole, stress is a thing of the past. I finally know that I am fully in control of my life. And, of course, the Life Coaching and Personal Development teaching that I now do fulfils me on every level and is making a positive difference to the lives of others. I wake up every day with a sense of excitement and look forward to the next step of my journey. I am living my life on my terms and I am living authentically. At an event that I was running recently, my amazing daughter, Georgia (now 12), told a group of women that her proudest achievement was getting hit by that car because “if that hadn’t happened, then mummy wouldn’t be helping so many people to find happiness.”
In her life-altering book, “Wild Love”, Gill Edwards writes….
“…how we deal with these turning points can mark the difference between living a half-life filled with regrets, lost dreams and unfulfilled potential, or an authentic life that is deeply passionate, rich and meaningful – a life which makes a difference.”
Through my work with my clients and through my own life story, it has become clear to me that if we suppress our desires or don’t heed the gentle nudges that life gives us, sooner or later, it will give us one almighty slap around the head to wake us up. The calling of your heart that craves change, the little voice in your head which keeps telling you to do something differently, the events which occur in your life……these are all the things that we MUST listen to. The simple reason that most of us ignore them is fear - fear of change, fear of not having enough money, fear of loneliness, fear of failure, fear of loss etc.
James (43) came to me for Life Coaching because his life choices were quite literally killing him. After a massive heart attack at 41 years old, he continued in a job that caused him serious stress and left him with no time or energy to relax, exercise or eat healthily. He knew he was heading for another heart attack, he knew he had to change, yet he was so consumed by the fear that change held over him that he simply was not willing to listen to what his life was trying to tell him.
Suzanne presented herself to me looking for help with her marriage which was unfulfilling and hollow. Through her tears, she proceeded to tell me about all the adverse situations that life had thrown at her and her husband over the 8 years of their relationship. They had overcome each and every massive obstacle that had been put in their way but she was still deeply unhappy. As I listened to her story, I knew that I had to ask the question “Has it ever occurred to you that these obstacles to your relationship were there because you and your husband were simply not meant to be together?” Her fear of loneliness and failure were keeping her trapped in a relationship that simply wasn’t making her happy on any level and, even though life had been trying to make her see this, she was too scared to listen, too scared to be alone, too scared to walk away.
“When we are in emotional or physical pain, we badly want the pain to stop. It wakes us up. The contrast – the gap between ‘what is’ and how we want life to be - now seems like a chasm. This chasm launches huge desires, which can lead to enormous change and growth. It can therefore be a fast-track way to learn and grow.”
Most of my clients are people for whom that chasm has opened up. They have got to a point where the emotional or physical pain is so strong that they realise that they have to do something differently. Each and every client and each and every one of you reading this knows in your heart what your life is trying to tell you. The challenge in this busy, speeded-up world is to take the time to listen and then find the courage to act. Don’t leave it too late to listen to your life. If fear is holding you back from making the changes, then invest in yourself and your future and find the people that can help you to let go off that fear. Work out what really matters to you then do whatever it takes to create your own reality, be master of your own ship. As soon as you start to listen and to focus on what you DO want from life, you will be amazed at how quickly life responds to you.
“Make today the day you stand up with all your spirit, all your intent, all your passion, all of the real you and decide that you’re going to change your world, one moment at a time.”
If you are ready to start listening to your life then why not book a FREE Introductory Session with one of our Accredited Coaches today to see how they can support you?