In the last year, my outlook on life has changed dramatically. On the surface of things, you’d look at me and think not much is different, but this little brain of mine has been working frantically and at full speed for a few months now, and I’d like to share with you all the little things that have made this happen.
With a lot of life-changing realisations comes sadness, and my first ‘little thing’ is one of those. And it’s not that little either to be honest. In May last year, my dad passed away. I tend to always follow this up with ‘but he was 84’ or ‘but he was unwell for a long time’, but to be honest neither of those things made this event any easier for me. I am currently still 29 years old (for another few days anyway), and although I’ve had friends whose parents have passed away I still find I am in the minority on this one. Losing a parent is gut wrenching, confusing, gruelling and just downright painful. One day I’ll probably write about it properly just to get it all down, but for now, those are the words I’m going to use. So as not to dwell on the sadness of this, I wanted to point out the positive things that this event gave me.
Firstly, I learnt that I was a lot stronger than I thought. I moved in with my mum and helped her with everything from paperwork and finances (you wouldn’t believe how much paperwork comes with death) to attempting to sell the family home. Propping my mum up during those first few months also helped me prop myself up and gave me a purpose that I hadn’t felt before. I found myself waking up feeling more energised and going to sleep feeling more accomplished than I had in a long while. It helped to build my confidence up again, and also made me feel proud of myself for what we’d both achieved together in a short space of time.
Secondly, I found myself reflecting a lot on the lessons that my dad had taught me and focusing on how I could use these to better myself. It’s sad, but helping my brother to write my dad’s eulogy made me so aware of all the things that he did is his life that I just couldn’t imagine accomplishing myself. And then I thought – why not? I’m no less capable than he was, and I have all the time in the world! I often find myself thinking “I wonder what Dodd would have done in this situation” and although a lot of what I come out with is guess work, it helps to think he’s holding my hand through it all.
The next life lesson was a lot more fun to learn. In October 2015, my partner and I started planning an adventure, and on 2nd September 2016 we embarked on it. We flew to Calgary in the west of Canada, picked up an RV and drove ourselves over 2,000km through the mind-numbingly beautiful scenery of Alberta and British Columbia until we ended our trip in Vancouver. Literally everything about this break – every single day – changed my life. I’ve been on plenty of holidays in my life, but nothing has compared to the freedom of waking up in your hotel and driving it on an adventure every day. We showered in car parks, cooked pancakes on an open fire, had a few ‘black water’ related mishaps (grim), saw a moose in the wild, climbed mountains on foot, climbed mountains in the RV, and saw places I couldn’t have even imagined existed. This trip made me realise that my world was so much bigger than London – bigger than England even. I no longer feel tied down, I can pick myself up and plant myself anywhere and the thought of it doesn’t fill me with fear.
So, my final life lesson is going to look really pathetic in comparison to the other two, but has had no less of an effect on me. At some point last year – I can’t for the life of me remember when – I spotted someone on Instagram who caught my eye, gave her posts a quick scan and decided she was worthy of a follow. She’s not someone famous, no one particularly ground breaking in the wider scale of things; but to me she’s been like a glaring beam of light forcing me to take a look at myself and think “now, what would make me just that little bit better?”
It’s a woman called Ruth Leiser, a 24 year old who is the owner and founder GRLCLB. GRLCLB is all about equality, openness and decency and since following Ruth, I’ve come to realise that a lot of her values are things that I hold very close to myself too. Her posts are always completely honest, never judgemental and often incredibly funny and she gives a very real insight on what it’s like to quit your day job and chase after your dreams. I get so much motivation and encouragement from her posts as although she often writes about how difficult it can be to set up a business, she seems genuinely proud of herself and that’s all I strive for in life.
You can find out more about GRLCLB at http://www.grlclb.com, or on Ruth’s Instagram (roobs_grlclb)
So there we have it, three totally different experiences that have completely changed my outlook on life. No matter how difficult or insignificant these things seemed at the time, they’ve led me to a very happy and fulfilled place on this lovely February day and I’m 100% grateful that I experienced all of them. I’m sure there are a whole host of exciting, sad, challenging and wild experiences waiting just around the corner, and for the first time in my life I feel completely ready to take them all on.