Oh boy, I've been hurled a few lemons over the past few years.

The heftiest one has been my husband's chronic pain and all its associated fall-out effects (which, if you've ever had the displeasure of experiencing personally, are no tiny matters*).

Also thrown into the mix has been a veritable fruit salad of anxiety, depression, body image issues and, to bring 2013 to a spectacularly challenging close, a pregnancy loss at 12 weeks (quite literally, the day after Boxing Day).

Fun Times.

No doubt, there are moments in which I've felt like a small girl wanting to curl up into a tight ball and be held by her mother and told everything will be alright. But mostly, I put one foot in front of the other and get on with my day. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but on with it I get.

What helps during these times? What enables, what makes life feel bearable, do-able, approachable when life serves up a whole lot of bleak shitfulness? I don't have all the answers (there's no such thing really) but I do come bearing a bagful of soothers that I wish to share on this blog, in case there are fellow humans going through some bleak shitfulness of their own.

I don't pretend to know what will work for everyone, but this 'bag of tricks' does help me. It really does. So here I go:

We all are. "Through 8 years of studying thousands of people, Brown identified a unique group of people who seemed to live truly wholehearted lives. No bullshit defences, no egos getting in the way of relationships or life, just wholehearted rawness and love and commitment. Turns out the one thing these people had in common was this: they fully embraced vulnerability.

In fact, they believed it was their vulnerability that made them beautiful. Each had a heartbreaking story to tell (don’t we all?) but nonetheless were more joyful and creative and were better able to make truly authentic connections with people around them than others. Brown’s research determined that indeed it was their vulnerability – their openness and willingness to stand judged - that allowed them these fortunes."

It's truly the only way to attain some peace. Miller says, "I know what the cure is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world."

Narrate your life to yourself. "When you're living through a crap situation, it's not about trying to be 'okay' with it, it's about not adding extra layers of crud to the crap. And the only way to do that is to learn to not focus on the torturous thoughts and emotions that throttle you like a giant crashing wave that drags you under, churning you listlessly in the asphyxiating turbulence. 

Thoughts are just thoughts. Emotions are just emotions. They come and go like crashing waves on a shoreline. You can't choose what thoughts and emotions crash onto your psyche. It's what you do with them, that's where you have Choice. You can choose to let them rule your actions and hurtle you into despair or rage or muteness (or whatever you do when things go wrong) or you can choose to keep being the person you want to be."

LEARN A COUPLE OF BREATHING TECHNIQUES. Breathing techniques (here and here) can help calm you down and allay rising anxiety.

LEARN HOW TO RELATE TO YOUR ANXIETY. Sometimes accepting your anxiety as present and saying "okay that’s your space and this is mine" is the only way to survive. A little like this poem:

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
Where I left them, asleep like cattle...

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
And the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.     
                - Wendell Berry

FIND THE THINGS, ANY THINGS, YOU ARE GRATEFUL FOR. No matter how hard life gets, there are always things.

Finally, to these I'd like to add:


That's a big statement, perhaps the biggest, and truthfully one I've taken quite a long time to believe. Sometimes, to be honest, my resolve to believe it wanes. It's a statement that puts Responsibility squarely on your shoulders at a time when your shoulders are bearing heavy weight and you are tired and bruised and lonely.

Sometimes, your choice is to fall under the weight, fall into a heap and stay there for a while.

But we must accept that this is a choice. And that an alternative choice can be made.

It's really the only thing to do.

* Those experienced in the ways of chronic pain would understand with unmatched depth when I say that the impacts are many and touch every aspect of life, not just (and obviously) for the person living with the pain but for their spouses and loved ones too.

Chronic pain, or any chronic health condition for that matter, takes life and everything you know about it and rips at it with its boney unrelenting fingers. It disassembles what you believe should be your natural order and leaves you with a fragmented mass of jagged pieces which you are somehow meant to piece together, back together again into something that resembles a life you want to live.

It's hard and it's exhausting but we're not alone. If you're living this experience now, please don't try to live it on your own. Reach out to someone and talk about it. If you're that 'someone', embrace your friend with open arms. And if, like me, you're the spouse, know that it's okay to collapse under the weight once in a while, but mostly, choose to put one foot in front of the other.


  1. I'm sorry that you've had a difficult time recently. By sharing your experience know that you are helping someone else. Sending love and light your way. x

  2. Thank you Maria for sharing your story - I'm very sorry for your loss. Your blog has been an inspiration to me and I can honestly say changed my life for the better in so many ways. Keep being the authentic person you are - your readers are grateful for it. xoxo

  3. Thanks so much to you both, kind words.

  4. Thank you for laying your soul bare here, Maria. It's a brave thing to do, and in doing so you're helping others more than you can know. Sending you positive thoughts on your journey to parenthood. The hard road can be so heart-wrenching and isolating. Be gentle on yourselves xx

  5. What a sh*tful time Maria - thank you for sharing your insights. Sending positive vibes your way.. x

  6. Oh that's awful - thanks for sharing and turning it into something positive. Hoping very hard the future is rosier for you. Hannah

  7. Thank you for sharing and making yourself vulnerable. You truly are an inspiration and my heart aches for you both for the pain you are suffering. I will pray that God will bless you with His comfort and His great love for you both. Bless you both, especially during this very difficult time.

  8. Thank you for sharing and being your authentic self, not always easy. You are a super human being, a beautiful soul and much more. Much love x

  9. Thanks all, means a lot to be connecting with such kind people through this blog. X

  10. very painful experiences Maria, I'm sorry to hear of your loss. Peter

  11. Thanks for sharing Maria. I am genuinely sorry to hear you've had a rough time. I find positive affirmations (Louise Hay is great) really helpful when life throws me lemons. Candi xx

  12. We have a saying in my family - Toughen the fuck up! Hardship is just there to test our resilience and make us more aware of how lucky we are - As the saying goes "It's all good" we just don't see it when we're in the middle of the shit.
    Lao Tsu wrote wisely that "without ugliness, there is no beauty.
    Love your page and your sharing - Thank you



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