Grit, Grace & Gratitude

Today, as I write this letter to you, I have spent a whole month on my own. I have never spent so long in my own company – and while I’m happy  to report that I haven’t started talking to the furniture or wearing my pyjamas outside – yet – I’ve come to the conclusion that my own company sucks!

Until last year, I had never lived alone, having always cohabited with family,  a partner or a friend. To be honest, I’d always kind of looked forward to an opportunity for solo living, but that was in the pre-pandemic world, when I imagined the solitude providing a welcome relief from the giddy whirl of social events and travel I’d also be experiencing. Ah, the sweet innocence of life Before Covid!

When my son left home in between lockdowns last summer to go and work in Russia, I was treated to Empty Nest Syndrome on Steroids. Unable to see friends or family, or even to write in cafes soaking up the hubbub of other people as I worked, hit me hard. But I got through it as I was still able to see my boyfriend at the weekends. But then a month ago, he got ill with suspected covid.

The worry and fear I felt during the first two weeks of this year was off the charts. Not being able to see him or be there for him was torturous. And then of course, I had my own ticking time bomb of anxiety – had I caught it too? Was I about to become seriously ill with no-one here to take care of me? Just before the pandemic began I moved to a new city. It had felt like the start of an exciting new adventure but Covid reframed everything, and living in a place where I have no friends or family within walking distance turned from feeling adventurous to downright stupid.

But I consider myself very fortunate for a slightly bizarre reason – I have had to overcome a lot of shit in my life! Highlights include; extricating myself from an abusive relationship, helping nurse a seriously ill loved one back to health, and going from a single mum on benefits to a self-sufficient, best-selling author. So, when I found myself beginning to slip into fear and despair at the start of the year, I thankfully had the presence of mind to remind myself that a) I’ve got through hard times before, and b) These hard times have left me with a handy toolkit of coping mechanisms. No, scratch that, thriving mechanisms. And those tools can be filed under 3 main categories: GRIT, GRACE & GRATITUDE. So here’s what I did to turn everything around this past month, using my trusty toolkit… 

GRIT: I told myself that while I mightn’t be able to control certain external events, like the pandemic, I can control my response to it and even in the middle of a national lockdown, there were still things I could do to improve my situation. I decided that I would move house at the earliest possible opportunity – something I have done before to completely transform my life for the better. It turned out that moving house was still possible and thanks to the wonder of modern technology, viewings could be done virtually. I had a look online for rental properties in a town a lot closer to my friends, boyfriend and family, and straight away saw a flat that I liked. I took a virtual viewing from the comfort of my bed, which turned out to be even better than a real life viewing, as you can watch the video over and over to your heart’s content, rather than have to be in and out in just a few minutes, promptly forgetting everything you’ve just seen. I realised that the flat would be perfect, so I paid a holding deposit – all within a few hours of deciding to move! 

Then it was time to call upon my old friend GRACE.  Trusting in a benevolent Universe, I decided there and then that this was going to be an easy move. ‘If this is what I’m supposed to do then please make it be effortless,’ I prayed in my daily meditations. I’m not a Christian but I do believe that the prayer, ‘Thy will be done’ packs one hell of a punch and I love the release it brings. If something is for you, it won’t go by you, is another way of putting this. Put your desire out there and then have faith that if it is meant to be it will happen effortlessly.

Then finally, I turned to my reliable mainstay GRATITUDE. Actively making myself focus on all I’m grateful for has got me through some of the very toughest times of my life – like the time I thought I might lose my son to illness. Even in that dark time I forced myself to write down 3 things I was grateful for at the end of every day – and why I was grateful for them, to really make the gratitude stick. I did the same this past month, to rewire my brain away from feelings of fear about my boyfriend’s health and stress about the house move. Forcing yourself to be grateful, even if it’s through gritted teeth, is one of the most powerful tools I know and it brings with it a certain magic too – the more you look for reasons to be grateful, the more you’ll find. 

And so I write to you after one month on my own, and two weeks before my house move. My boyfriend is finally on the road to recovery and I can’t wait until I’m living within walking distance of him. I hope that reading this has in some way helped you. I saw something online recently about how we’re all currently weathering the same storm but in different boats. I think it sums up the pandemic perfectly, but I’d like to add that we all have access to the same tools – GRIT, GRACE & GRATITUDE, no matter what our circumstances. 

The above post is taken from the first edition of a fortnightly letter I’d love to send to you. GRIT, GRACE & GRATITUDE is NOT a newsletter however, in that it won’t be trying to sell you anything. It is more of a personal letter, in which I will share practical tools, and heartfelt, personal anecdotes designed to help you live a life filled with more joy, Love, wonder and purpose – even during a global pandemic! These tools will include exercises you can do for yourself, plus links to any inspirational podcasts, books, songs or poems that I’ve found have really helped me.

I came up with the idea for GRIT, GRACE & GRATITUDE when I was trying to think of ways to create deeper, more useful connections with people via the internet.

The first edition went out last Sunday and I’ve been blown away by the heartfelt responses I’ve received. If you’d like to receive the next edition, simply subscribe via this link.

Here’s to helping each other via heartfelt connections!

Siobhan x

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