Suzanne Collins, author of ‘The Hunger Games’ series wrote in her novel that “hope is the only thing stronger than fear” and never a truer word did she write. Fear is the epitome of negative emotion leading only to other negative emotions and even life limiting choices. Hope trumps fear every time. It gets people out of bed in the morning for if we didn’t have hope what would we have? And despite many negative experiences I still hold onto hope. It is sometimes more diminished than at other times but we hold on, just in case…
And hope leads us nicely to possibility. You can have hope without truly believing that something amazing might just be round the corner but it is the possibility of what could be that keeps us thriving. The possibility that tomorrow could be better, that this year might be better than last, that one day we might be truly happy…
Even when life gets tough I am happy surrounded by my family. We share the same sense of humour, traditions and memories to last a lifetime. I take pride in what they do as much as in myself and I am grateful every day for each and every one of them.
I mentioned humour underneath family because one of the things I love the most is how much we all laugh together. I remember one particular period in my early 20’s looking at my mum and telling her I didn’t know if I would ever laugh again. That’s how it felt, like all the laughter had been sucked out of me. It was one of those ‘had to be there’ moments that made me laugh again but to this day mum and I still chuckle heartily when we remember that day…
- TO BE BETTER THAN I WAS YESTERDAY
I am always striving to be better – a better dancer, a better teacher, a better person, fitter, stronger, happier…. And I like it. It gives me goals to work towards. I work hard at the gym, I try to eat healthily and this year, for the first time, possibly ever, I am taking some time to work on me – who I am and where I could go?
- TO SEE THE WORLD
Number 5’s ‘where I could go’ may have been more figurative than literal but I like the latter form too. I love seeing new places and discovering new things. My aim is at least two new countries a year. It makes me feel like I am doing things, getting on, moving forward. It makes me feel alive.
In order to travel you need to have a job which allows you to do it so a job with good holidays helps! But teaching is more than that for me. When tough things happen I feel fortunate to have a job that I can throw myself into. I can think of nothing other than the young people I teach from 8am to 4pm and that has got me through some dark times. As well as that I see young people going through tough times and I like nothing more than to try and help them through. It may be cliché but it is why I got into teaching. Young people are inspiring and reason number 7 on my list of why I keep fighting.
- BECAUSE I WON’T LET ANYONE ELSE WIN
I am stubborn. In many ways it is a character flaw but in this battle of minds between the happy me and the depressed me I will win! And the battle isn’t just with myself but with all those who have hurt me in the past. I don’t want you to be the reason I didn’t survive this. I will keep going and I will become a better version of myself.
I may live in Edinburgh but home will always be the Highlands and at home I will always find peace. I love going home, then get stir crazy when I am there for too long, then miss it when I leave. I can’t win but who wouldn’t love this view day after day?
August has become a great month for me – I still have a few weeks off and yet there is nothing quite like new beginnings to motivate you. The new school term starts, the new football season starts and new plans get pressed into action. And one more thing – Edinburgh Fringe! I started reviewing for an online publication two years ago now and so the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has taken on whole new meaning as I get to fully immerse myself in it with media pass included. The Festival combines so many of my favourite things and the year just wouldn’t be the same without it.
Of course August also heralds the start of the football season and football is about so much more than 22 men chasing a ball round a park for 90 minutes for me. Hearts gave me a focus and passion when I was young and directionless, then it gave me friends and a reason to go out when I had just arrived in Edinburgh and knew nobody. Those friends are still there and so I always have something to do on a Saturday whether I’m having a good day or bad (of course the score can always ruin that…).
From August to December in one quick flash. The festive season does bring about mixed feelings. It can be an incredibly difficult time when thoughts of everything you don’t have come to mind, but then you smell a warm mince-pie straight out of the oven, you hear the excitement of your niece and nephew and you enjoy one too many glasses of champagne with family and friends and soon it is a happy time to cherish what you do have.
- BECAUSE I AM STRONGER THAN I THINK
It is easy to assume when you suffer from a mental health condition that you are weak but in fact I believe it is the exact opposite and we are stronger than everyone else because it is not easy to get up every day despite the burden on your shoulders – and I am still here.