At the start of this year, like you, I was hopeful for the new decade and starting afresh. Rebuilding my business after what had been years of emotional ups and downs since around 2016.
Helping my brother get back on his feet after being made homeless and suffering with depression.
Becoming a carer for my grandmother as she slipped into the grips of dementia and having an episode so severe she became a danger to herself and others. Having to make the inevitable decision to put her into a care home for her own safety.
But the lowest point was the unexpected death of my dad in June last year. If anything can throw you completely into turmoil, it is definitely having to deal with losing someone you love.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve had endure and although I know it won’t be the last, to pull myself through that tragedy took a level of strength I never knew I had. No longer having his physical presence in our lives and missing that bond, hearing his voice, his laugh, his smile, those small things we take for granted.
I remember being in Jamaica after his funeral and one night feeling so distraught and crying uncontrollably, I’d finally had enough. I’m very close to my family and have always been someone who will do whatever I can to help them, so all of these things had affected me so deeply.
I hadn’t been able to run my business the way I wanted to through these times. I felt like I was failing. Like all these personal challenges were conspiring against me.
That night I decided to close my business down. I needed one less stress to deal with and that seemed like the easiest option to regain some sanity.
I felt some relief and my mood lightened. I got back home and spoke to my accountant who advised me to think about it for a little longer and gave me some options to consider. Then I received what appeared to be a lifeline from one of my previous clients who needed help with running his business, then another client came forward needing help and another…maybe now wasn’t the right time to give up?
Somehow, I had to push myself through all of the emotion I felt and find a way forward. I’d worked so hard to build my brand and my reputation with all of the amazing clients I’d supported over the years. Was it right to throw it all away?
I knew my dad wouldn’t want me to sit and wallow in grief. I reasoned with myself that he didn’t give up when his parents passed away, so why should I?
So, I pulled myself together, made my plans and pushed forward.
Unfortunately, the tragedy didn’t end there!
Early in this new year, I found out that my mum was seriously ill and had to fly out to Jamaica and bring her back to the UK for treatment.
Stage 4 lung cancer that had spread to her spine!
The conspiracy raised it’s ugly head again!
We got back to the UK and mum was admitted to St Thomas’ hospital as she could barely walk after having several falls and damaging her legs.
After two weeks and with the coronavirus starting to make it’s mark on the world, mum was discharged from hospital into my care and has been with me ever since, with the occasional stay here and there with my siblings.
Now, this virus starts raging across the world taking lives and wiping out livelihoods all in the same breath! It feels like the world is coming to a complete standstill.
We adapted to this ‘new normal’ which has now become an ingrained buzzword across the world. It got me thinking, what does that even mean?
We’ve been adapting and changing for centuries, some of those changes are small and some, like now, are huge, but we adapt, we change, we refocus, we move forward…then something else happens and we adapt, we change, we refocus and we move forward.
There is no such thing as normal in my opinion, it’s just the evolution of life. That's my point of telling this story I guess? Most challenges are personal and some are global, but throughout life there will always be something we have to deal with.
Growth, change, challenges, feeling fearful and uncertain about what's to come, are all 'normal' if you want to call it that.
Crap can get thrown at us from all corners and a lot of the time it's unexpected, but we also have light in what can sometimes seem like an endless dark tunnel.
Those instances of light come and go to varying degrees as do those instances of darkness, but that contrast is needed for our growth.
I’ve learnt a lot over these last few years. The key mindset change being that light and shade are inevitable throughout my life. It's rare that anyone can go through a year without something negative happening. Accepting that fact has prepared me better for coping with how to adapt, change, refocus and keep moving forward.
As for this latest ‘new normal’ or new 'phase of evolution' as I prefer to call it, will there be a second wave that sends back into lockdown? In my opinion it’s likely.
Are we now more aware of how to deal with it? Definitely!
Will it defeat us? Only if we allow it to.
Keep talking, keep trying, keep pushing forward.
Despite the tragedy that so many of us have seen these last few months and no doubt there is more to come, we have to remember that the human race has survived a lot worse.
We can survive this.