When I moved to Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland to do a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, I had HIGH hopes. Which, I have to say were sadly not met.
In my mind, I was going to get the degree – along with three amazing trips sponsored by the school, of which we only had 1 and half – and then find a job in the conflict resolution field, earning a U.K. work visa that would allow me to stay in Europe for several years.
The reality was more like – get the degree, not get a job, struggle to make ends me without a full work visa, take care of friend who became increasingly ill, then move back to her home in the states and desperately search for a job to keep going. Oh, and in the midst of that have, not one, but two grandparents pass away while I was abroad.
Yeah… it was rough. So rough that some days I didn’t know how to keep going.
Sometimes our darkest days hold our greatest lessons. It’s in those times that faith in ourselves and the universe needs to be the guiding light.
To give you a glimpse of my mental state at the time this journal entry from September 2009 sums it up quite nicely:
“Still out of sorts within myself. Trying to fit together the pieces of the puzzle I feel is my life now. Been reading very slowly a book on metaphors and our construction of life. It’s interesting and makes me think – perhaps too much. Last bit I read was about the metaphor “life is a story” and the significance of “life’s a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” It discussed how we wish to see coherence in our life stories and often try to make the facts fit to make it so, whether it really does or not. That’s where I feel I’m at now. Trying to find coherence when there is none. Sound and fury. Signifying nothing. I’ve talked a lot about faith and trust recently. Maybe that is the antidote to non-coherence. Making things true because you wish them so desperately to be so, even though you know they aren’t. Sound and fury.”
However, the very next entry 3 days later, I wrote that every painful experience is a lesson to learn from and not meaningless sound and fury. Luckily I bounce back pretty well, especially with help from my friends.
Several of my dear friends and colleagues at the university knew of my plight. I even had to end up asking one of them for a loan, which she wisely refused and instead helped me find some other work to do to earn the money I needed.
But more than that she gave me the greatest gift – HOPE.
I know it’s cheesy as hell, but love the tv show Once upon a time. Any time I’m feeling low and starting to think there’s no point to anything in the world, I just need to watch one episode to remind myself that “there’s always hope.”
So how did my very wise and kindhearted friend remind me when I felt at my lowest? She simply gave me a postcard that read:
“There is a light in the dark. There is the door which only you can open.”
This postcard has kept my spirits up for years after the initial gifting of it. Not only is the image on the front perfect, including the name of the artwork – “Breakthrough. Changing Planes.” But the message she wrote made my heart open and break at the same time. I even changed the name of my travel blog to “Light in the Dark” for a time.
I’d love to say that all my days have been sunny since then, but that’d be a big fat lie and nearly impossible to boot. However, I am more aware of how I’m seeing things during those inevitable rough patches. I could sit and wallow and despair at the unfairness and general misery of the world, or I could find one little glimmer of light in the darkness. I chose the latter.
Choose to see the light.
Late last year I started keeping a daily gratitude journal. I know, I know, it’s all the rage now, but they really are amazing. First thing in the morning, as part of my wake up routine, I write a few sentences about what I’m grateful for (recurring themes are the cat, coffee and nice weather). Even when I feel utterly lost and annoyed with life, I can still find one silly thing to be grateful.
For instance, on Monday I was “grateful for morning walks and warmer temperatures. For cheesy romantic comedies [had a binge fest the night before], and for inspiration.”
I recommend you try it, even for a week. And remember that writing it out is immensely more powerful than just speaking it out! Plus, you can go back and look at all your gratitude and it’s much harder to “forget” to have one moment of gratitude.
And if you need a little more guidance in your quest for gratitude… allow me to suggest Soulful Journals Gratitude Journal, Gretchen Rubin’s One Sentence Journal or any of these amazeballs journals that can be more than just for gratitude. Though you’ll definitely be grateful you have them!
Start today! – What are you grateful for right now? Me, I’m grateful I get to write and hopefully inspire others as my day job. Life doesn’t get much better than that. 🙂
Looking for a way to connect to the Moon? Check out my 4 steps to New Moon and Full Moon rituals!
Need to set intentions that really end up manifesting your desires? Then use the New Moon Intention Ritual to do just that! Know you need to let go of a lot of old baggage before the good stuff has space to come in to your life. The use the straightforward and vastly uplifting Full Moon Release Ritual to make room for all the new blessings to come!