This time last year, you may remember, I'd just been advised that the only option available to me was to sell my home in France, giving half the proceeds to my estranged husband, the rest to the Scottish debt agency who were advising me, and take out a loan to repay the remainder of my creditors. So, had I taken their advice, my son and I would have been left homeless and in debt, while 'he' would still be free to continue living in our Edinburgh flat (for which he had not been paying the mortgage) and would also have had a lump sum of money. Pah!
Boy have I moved on from there! It's been tough and the challenges have been relentless. Yet at every step of the way I have absolutely refused to take no for an answer. I've learned that 'professionals' all have their own opinion - and that those opinions can vary tremendously. It would seem that there is no such thing as 'the' law, there is just 'a' law, which can be flexible to the extreme depending on who I'm talking to and how I phrase the questions. And let me tell you, some of the so-called professional advice I've received this year has been utterly laughable - shameful, really, when I think that there must be many people in a similar situation to me who would not have known how to fight. Many times as a child I was chastised for being stubborn or pig-headed... but you know what? Those qualities have served me well throughout these times.
I'm glad that I'm stubborn, and I've also learned to love so many other aspects of my personality that I'm finally getting to know and understand. When I qualified as a Louise Hay trainer in 1997, we were taught to accept ourselves and others exactly as we are - and since that time, I've done my level best to do exactly that. And the thing is, whilst I've been good at spotting hidden treasures in others, I simply hadn't realised what else had been buried beneath my own shell. The soft, squishy parts of me, the little me, that had hidden away for so long!
Yes, this year has taught me to fight. I've learned how to make £10 last for two weeks. I've learned how to turn up at business meetings with a confident smile on my face, not knowing how I would even find the train fare back to my sister's place. I've learned to keep my head held high and my principles strong, fighting for justice against a stream of legal and financial obstacles. I've learned how to create a new business from scratch - and with nothing - and secure a wonderful range of clients doing the work I love. I've learned how to listen to other people's problems, even while feeling overcome by my own situation. I've learned humility and gratitude for the smallest acts of kindness that people have shown me - anonymous deliveries of vegetables, fruit and flowers from surrounding gardens, invitations to dinner, introductions to new friends and colleagues, shoulders to cry on, forgiveness for some of my more outrageous antics. I've learned that even though there were times I may not have been able to buy a loaf of bread, that I'm always safe and rich beyond any 'outside' measure. For I am surrounded by a host of people I'm lucky enough to call my friends. People who care for me, and who will never let me fall - or fail.
So that, my friends, is why this year has been a good year. Perhaps the best. Because the lessons I've learned about myself and others are absolutely beyond measure. And I am grateful. And happy.
As this year draws to a close, I am excited and clear about my future. Next year is going to be an extraordinary year for me - I know it in my bones. Will it be as extraordinary as the previous year? Yes, I'm confident that it will - this time, though, it will be much more joyful because I am already starting it from a place of safety and happiness. Yes, finally I am content and secure - finally ready to accept all the good that life has to offer me, leaping in to life with my arms and my heart wide open. If I achieved so much from a position of hopelessness and fear, well, who knows what endless possibilities are in store for me now.
Thank you, life, this has been a good year indeed!