give yourself a break...

'twas (almost) a normal Friday morning. I got up, got the bunnies their breakfast (they always get fed and watered first in our house), had my shower, drank my juice.

It was a public holiday (hence why I said it was almost a normal Friday morning) and my husband was still in bed.

We had made plans to go on a short hike a bit later so I decided to turn on my computer to check out the route. I turned my computer on, however, after a few moments the most awful squealing sound was radiating from it with a warning flashing which read something like 'hard disk corrupted'. My heart sank. I felt sick. Was the real?

To shut off the noise I quickly switched off my computer.

And then I switched it back on again... a part of me hoping that it was just 'one of those things' and that by turning it off and on again (the best advice any IT person will give you) everything would be fine again.

It wasn't. Again, the wall-shaking squealing happened and, again, I had to rush to shut it off before dogs started going crazy and neighbours started complaining.

When my husband got up, I told him what had happened. Deep inside I hoped he would be able to wave a magic wand and make everything okay. Unfortunately he couldn't. What he did say was that we should go immediately to the computer repair shop. And we did.

Again, hoping for some kind of miracle, I walked in and presented my laptop to the guy, explaining what had happened. "Ooooh... that doesn't sound good" was all he could say. He took the laptop, disappeared for a few moments and came back, shaking his head and confirming that, indeed, the hard disk had crashed and would need to be replaced.

"What about everything I had on my computer?" I asked. "Can it be retrieved before you change the hard disk?"

My heart sank and I wanted to drown in a million tears when he told me that I had lost everything that hadn't been backed up externally or to the cloud.

I'd only had the laptop three months so whilst I hadn't lost years of work, I had lost a lot. You might be shaking your head and tutting at my stupidity at not backing up my work and I wouldn't blame you. However, within the space of only a year, the pen drive I had used to back up my work had crashed and although I could recover a lot of it, I did lose some files. Then an external hard drive I had where I kept all my digitial photos, including (the most heart-breaking of all) all the photos of my beloved little princess, Forrest, who had passed in September 2022, it crashed. With such a run of 'bad luck' with external backups you might forgive me for thinking that the safest place to keep everything was on my laptop. After all, what's the likelihood of the hard disk crashing...?

Something I share with my clients and students alike is to embrace the challenges in life because without them we do not grow, change or become a better version of ourselves. In every challenge there is at least one lesson to be learned, if we are open to it. Even if we do not know or see the lesson while we're going through the challenge itself, when we remember to look back afterwards with an openness, we tend to understand and make sense of why that challenge came onto our path.

Equally I also share that, whilst something may seem difficult and hard, where it may not seem fair or right, you've got to trust the Universe, that things do happen for a reason and, again, if you are open to it, you will learn and gain something through trusting that the Universe has your back.

Such lessons seem easy-ish when you're encouraging others to heed them. They're not so easy when you have to apply them personally. However, I try to walk my talk rather than just talk a good talk. And, so, in the midst of panic and confusion that I'd lost a few months of work, not to mention all the photos and videos I'd taken of my bunny boys and my husband's and my many adventures, I tried really hard to trust the Universe, to accept that this had happened for a reason.

My husband could see how upset I was and so he suggested, rather than hanging around all day waiting to pick up my repaired laptop in the early evening, that we should still go on our hike. When I'm in nature, when I'm walking and hiking amongst the trees and the mountains, everything always takes on a more positive perspective. And my husband knew this.

So, even though mentally I was really struggling to get to grips with everything I had just lost, I agreed to the hike.

We weren't even walking 5 minutes and beside me along the path, I spotted little heart-shaped leaves. I knew it was the Universe encouraging me to trust, that the Universe had my back.

However, I really struggled. I was feeling broken and really down thinking of everything I had lost, wondering how I was going to pick up the pieces.

As the day went on, as I was surrounded more and more by nature, my mood started to lift a little and I moved from feeling broken to feeling more accepting of the situation and desperately searching for a reason why this had happened, and what lesson I could retrieve from it. And whilst I couldn't find the reason or lesson, I started to lean towards the belief, although not completely convincing, that the Universe had my back, that something positive would come out this.

After our hike, we went back to the shop to collect my repaired laptop. My weekend plans would be completely focused on setting my laptop up from scratch, re-installing all my programmes and platforms, and getting ready to try to piece together my work and pick up where I had left, accepting that I had lost so much.

Saturday arrived and I was up early, still trying to make sense of everything, still wondering how the Universe had my back, still seeking the lessons to be gained from this personal nightmare.

I turned on my laptop and I started to set it up.

I don't know how it happened, however, somehow I accidentally opened a file or area on my laptop and just sat there gobsmacked. Having never opened or used it before (or so I thought), I had opened up the cloud. And before me I saw files and folders I recognised, files and folders containing work I had done over the last few months.

Unbeknown to me a lot of my work had been automatically saving to the cloud. Not only that, all the photos I had taken had also been backing up to the cloud. I did lost some work in files I had been working on that I had recovered from my crashed pen drive, however in the great scheme of things the files and folders I had been unknowingly backing up to the cloud were the most important files and folders, the ones that, had I lost them, would have caused me quite some pain.

Turns out the Universe really did have my back.

And when I realised that, when I understood that the little heart-shaped leaves were the Universe's way of desperately trying to bring me comfort and reassurance that all wasn't lost, and when I realised that I had really struggled to take comfort in those little leaves, to truly trust the Universe... that's when the guilt kicked in, that's when I started to beat myself up for not believing, for not having faith, for not fully trusting.

Trusting in the Universe is easy when life is trotting along and flowing smoothly. It's not so easy when you're slammed by a curveball and your world, even for a short time, seems to be crumbling around you. Whilst I have tried to walk my talk, I haven't always done a good job of it. However, for me personally, this was such an epic flashing neon-sign "trust the Universe" experience that I truly feel I have turned a corner and can, from now onwards, have more faith, more belief, and more trust that Universe always has my back.

When life throws you a curveball, it's all too easy to fall into victimhood and cry to the Universe, "why me?" rather than trust the Universe, seek out the lessons, and be grateful that the Universe knows you've got this, knows you're strong enough and that's why you. And then when your doubts have been proved wrong and the Universe shows it always has your back, it's all too easy to punish yourself for failing to trust and believe.

As we walk this journey of life, we will make mistakes. And no matter what any parent or teacher may have told you as a child, mistakes are good. Mistakes are what help us to grow, to learn. What's important is that we do learn from those mistakes, that we don't keep repeating them. And to learn to forgive ourselves for our mistakes so we can move forward in life.

When it comes to the concept of forgiveness, once we grasp it, once we understand that forgiveness is about enabling you to move forward in your life, then it becomes that bit easier to forgive others.

However, whilst we may become better at forgiving others, often we struggle to or forget to forgive ourselves.

Shouldn't you be the #1 person in your life? Then shouldn't you be learning to better forgive yourself? Indeed, shoudl you be asking...