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I changed my life, you can too

31 Jan Posted by in Personal Thoughts | 32 comments
I changed my life, you can too
 

For those of you that have read my story, you’ll know a lot of this already but today is a special day and I wanted to be able to show that whilst you may struggle, things can change for the better, it just takes a little time and determination.

We all struggle in life. We have bad times, lost times, sad times. You don’t want to look to your past because it’s painful, you feel bored living in the present and the future looks just as bleak as you feel. You don’t think your life is ever going to change and you’re right because nothing is every going to change unless you make the first step towards it. Life is about learning through making mistakes, not perfect decisions.

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A couple of years ago, I thought I would never be happy. I knew there would be moments where I would experience it but I didn’t think I would ever be able to say that I was content or happy with my life; I thought that only happened to other people. I didn’t think I would ever know what I wanted to do with my life, or feel driven but then, something happened. I experienced something that altered the course of my life and I wanted to share it with you…

Two years and 1 day from today, I was in London by myself for the weekend visiting the Adventure Travel Show and scared to death but extremely excited about my three months solo around Asia which I had planned for March 15 2010. Life felt pretty damn good. I was also, although unknown to me at the time, pregnant. One day later, two years ago to this day, I found myself in a random London Hospital, alone, having a miscarriage. My world stopped and all that happiness I felt was within my reach came crashing down. I was at one of the lowest points in my life.

On the way home, I wrote a letter to myself, as a promise to the ‘future me‘, that I now carry with me wherever I go to remind me of how bad I used to feel so that I can appreciate how far I’ve come and how much life has changed. It’s deeply personal and I’ve never shown or told anyone about it but I want to prove to you that if I can change my life, you can to:

Dear H,
I miss you.
I’m not sure why you left or even where you went but I want you to come home; I need you.
Life hasn’t been the same since you went. I’ve made so many mistakes and lost so much; I can’t help feeling that if you’d stayed, none of this would have happened.
Did I say or do something to upset you? I wish you would tell me so I could fix it and you would come back to me.
You know, I thought I’d found you last year?! I was so close to reaching you but I fell over and when I looked up you had gone again. I’m still looking; I haven’t given up but I’m finding it harder to keep going, the more false leads I find.
How long has it been? 10? 11 years? I can’t even remember what you look like anymore and worry that when I do find you, we won’t recognise each other. I’ve changed. No matter what I’ve said in the past, I do need you. I know I pushed you away and I’m sorry for that; I just didn’t feel as though I deserved you.
I hope we find each other soon. I worry that the longer it takes to find you, the less likely it is you’ll want to see me. I’m not very well right now but I know that seeing you again would help. Even if you said ‘hello’ and left me with only a forwarding address, it would be better than nothing. Just knowing we were back in touch would put a smile on my face.
I hope you can forgive me?! I just want, no, need you to give me a second chance. I promise I won’t push you away again. You will be my top priority and I won’t let anything get in the way of our friendship.
I feel incomplete without you; life doesn’t feel worth living. I promise to respect, love and celebrate you if you’ll just come back to me Happiness.

Where have you gone H?
I miss you.
I need you.

It brings tears to my eyes writing that letter out knowing I felt so low but….
How have things changed since? Firstly, I took that first step to change and got on the plane to Asia. I’m not going to lie. Getting on the plane when I felt so scared and heartbroken was one of the hardest things I ever did and I didn’t have the ‘time of my life’ in those 3 months; I struggled. I cried beside pools, on the beach and booked private rooms just to be alone BUT I experienced moments of happiness so great that I knew I could keep going and that I should.

Life isn’t measured by the amount of times you fall down but by how many times you get back up again. When I had the moments so happy only my heart could measure, I knew that travel (and writing about it) made me happy, really happy. The type of happy that words fail to explain. That’s when I knew that despite everything that had happened in the past, travel and writing were my future. I was on the way to mending my heart and I began to feel that I could be content in life.

I won’t lie, coming home broke my heart all over again. Every street reminded me of my ex, every guy I bumped into looked just like him and friends announced their pregnancy at times I should have been expecting her. My heart ached with grief for six months before I finally felt ready to let her go and move on. We said goodbye when Sweetpea captured her own sunset…

 

That’s when my life really began to change, when I knew that I would be happy in life because I felt ready to live again.

So I began to prepare for my next trip…six weeks overlanding through Africa from South Africa to Kenya a few months later. I felt so much stronger heading into the trip and although the sheer thought of it scared the hell out of me, I knew I could do it.

Six weeks travelling through 7 countries was hard but incredible. I spent hours on the truck thinking and couldn’t sleep for all the thoughts running through my head; I was working through all the baggage in my life. The pain in my past, the routine of my present and the unknown fear of my future. But then it happened, I ‘found myself’ and suddenly everything in life clicked. It felt like I suddenly found the key to unlocking everything about myself. Right there and then, in that moment, I knew that, not only, was travel and writing what I was meant to do in life but I knew I could make it happen. I’d never known such confidence and self-belief before and couldn’t stop smiling, thinking about the endless opportunities ahead.

Travel did the talking.  It allowed me to quietly unpack all my emotional baggage and gave me time to put it all back together neatly and in that, I found my own level of spirituality. I’m not sure I could have ever achieved it or truly appreciated it if I hadn’t gone through such hard times before I realised how happy travel makes me feel.

You can take the same journey. You can do something out of the ordinary and push yourself to achieve your dreams. It doesn’t have to be big; it can be something as simple as trying something you’ve never done before such as taking a day trip to a place you’ve never been.  Knowing it’s something different and new can give you enough confidence to take on something bigger and better for the next step! I’m not travelling at the moment and I have a few big obstacles standing between me and my next trip but you know what? I’m ok with that. Before Asia, I would have just given up; I think, if I’m honest, I would have given up before Africa too but now that I’ve experienced nature at its finest? I feel whole and a whole heart can take you a long way in your life journey.

Two years ago today I lost Sweetpea, never thinking I would be happy and whilst I can still cry over my loss even today, I am content in my life.

If you think your life will never change and that you’ll never find your way you’re wrong. Take the first step and your feet will find the path for you.

  1. Melissa01-31-12

    Wow, hun. This is a really powerful post. I have goosebumps. Thank you so much for sharing it and sharing your letter. Losing your daughter is something I cant even imagine and the fact that you’re able to pick up the broken pieces of your heart and finally be content – even happy sometimes is incredible.

    <3

  2. Jen01-31-12

    Ahhh Toni I was nearly in tears reading that letter. I’m so happy and proud of you about how far you’ve come, You would never believe you ever were that person knowing you now so it just shows that, however bad you think things can get, you have the power to turn things around! You’re an inspiration to a lot of people out there and it’s so brave of you to be a voice for people out there struggling. xxx

  3. Beverley | Pack Your Passport01-31-12

    Toni, you’re such a strong girl writing such a personal post. Honestly you nearly had me in tears. When I first read about your story on your blog many months ago when we didn’t even know each other, I emailed you with my personal experience and I loved your honesty.

    Just remember how far you’ve come Hun and how many more amazing experience you’ll have xxx

  4. Jayne01-31-12

    Oh poppet, you are such a brave, courageous and inspirational lady. Thinking of you today and always here for you *picks up bucket full of tears* can’t find the right words but I think you are supercalifragilisticexpalidocious x

  5. Heather02-01-12

    As always, thank you for everything that you share and being so open. It takes time to be ready to share certain stories or aspects of ourselves — and when you do, it’s always beautiful.

  6. lunaticg02-01-12

    Thank you for sharing your story.
    I also go out and take vacation sometimes to forget something in my head.

  7. Toni02-02-12

    Melissa – Thank you for you lovely words! I really don’t know what to say apart from THANK YOU – it really does mean so much to know that you appreciated my story :)

  8. Toni02-02-12

    Jen – aww THANK YOU for being proud of me; that means a lot hun. Your words are lovely and I’m so pleased I can call you a friend :)

  9. Toni02-02-12

    Beverley – thank you for calling me strong; I don’t always feel like I am so that means a lot to me. I was thinking about our emails just the other days…it was obviously destined that we ‘meet’ and become friends :)

  10. Toni02-02-12

    Jayne – all thank you lovely…you’re such an amazing lady yourself so I really appreciate your kind words, especially calling me supercalifragilisticexpalidocious :D

  11. Toni02-02-12

    Heather – you have been one of my ‘supporters’ for a while now and I still love that you come back for my honest posts…I can’t thank you enough for that hun :)

  12. Toni02-02-12

    Lunaticg – Sometimes, getting away is all you need to clear you head isn’t it?!

  13. Ryan02-04-12

    Hey Toni. Thank you for sharing this, as much as I tend to quip about my travels (of only 2 months) in reality I faced the hardest decision of my life and the most frightening as well. It’s heartbreaking hearing about your loss, I have lost as well and I can never know your exact pain, but I can relate to the journey and how travel helped. Writing about my travels, and my past has helped me deal with something that I hid away for years, and lied about. But you are an epic person, strong willed and inspiring, and I’m glad I’ve had the chance to tweet/blog with you! People will need to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and you can make your way through a shroud of darkness, and travel can help. Keep your chin up =)

  14. Hannah02-09-12

    This is a beautiful and inspiring post Toni, one that took great courage and strength of character to share. I am more and more impressed by you with every post I read. Your words are always so moving, motivational and real. Though I cannot understand exactly how you feel, I do know how it feels to go through pain and emerge on the other side forever changed. I’m sure your daughter is very proud of the incredible woman you have become xxx

  15. Toni02-10-12

    Ryan – thank you for your lovely words! I couldn’t agree more with what you say …travel really does help you deal with bad things in your life and come through the other side. I’m really glad that I found you and we’ve begun talking; you’re awesome! :) I’m sorry to hear about your loss but I’m glad to hear that your travels are beginning to help you through it :)

  16. Toni02-10-12

    Hannah – Thank you so much for you compliments…I really don’t know what to say other than ‘thank you’. I have tears in my eyes! :) I’m so glad I ‘found’ you in the huge expanse that is the internet…you really are a treasure :)

  17. flipnomad02-14-12

    got goosebumps reading this… so happy for you toniwoni :-)

    PS: Now I know Im not the only one crazy in this world LOL I used to write a letter to myself too to remind myself of the things that I need to do to improve my life…

    take care

  18. Sheryll02-16-12

    This really brought tears to my eyes Toni. I am so happy and proud of you. You deserve every single bit of happiness in your life. Thank you for sharing such a powerful post with all of us, I feel honored!

  19. Toni02-21-12

    flip – thank you for the lovely words and for your continued support :) Good to know that other people write letters to themselves!! It’s a pretty good thing to do when you get to read them back after a while!

  20. Toni02-21-12

    Sheryll – awww thank you lovely :) And thank YOU for being part of my life…makes me feel honoured too!

  21. Christy07-03-12

    Wow. You are truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story.

  22. Toni07-03-12

    Christy – coming from you that is an honour :) Thank you!

  23. Pernilla10-20-12

    Wow what a brave, honest and powerful post! Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  24. Toni10-31-12

    Pernilla – Thank you for your kind words :) It means a lot!

  25. Spencer11-29-12

    Great post! My RTW changed my life back in 2004/05. I am so glad I did it.

  26. Toni01-02-13

    Spencer – that’s GREAT to hear! :)

  27. Albin06-14-13

    “If you think your life will never change and that you’ll never find your way you’re wrong. Take the first step and your feet will find the path for you.”

    This struck me the most. As everybody has said those are some powerful words. Kudos to you ma’am! You and your experiences are giving me the kick I need…THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

  28. Toni06-24-13

    Albin – No, thank YOU for your kind words; they’re really appreciated :)

  29. Yana09-25-13

    Hi Toni,
    Thank you for sharing your story, it’s very inspiring.
    I’ve been a fan of your blog for quite some time now and i love reading the posts!
    Thank you.
    Yana recently posted..“The mountains are calling and i must go” – My PAST adventures with mountains (part 1)

  30. Toni10-09-13

    Yana – Aww it’s lovely to hear that I have a ‘fan’ :) Hopefully you’ll continue to read for many more months in the future :) Lovely to have you around and thank you for your very kind comment!

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