1947451_10153855060170106_2107508348_nI can’t believe how much my life has changed in just a year.  This time last year I was knee deep in plans and preparations for getting married to my wonderful husband Russell.  We decided that we didn’t want a big wedding so we booked the registry office at County Hall and went out for lunch with just a handful of the close family and friends.  It was the most perfect day.

At the time we got married I was working relentlessly hard on the third Worcestershire Literary Festival, to the detriment of my then business and other things I was doing.  I founded this in 2010 but the first festival didn’t take place until June 2011. I very much enjoyed the 2011 festival, and the 2012 one, but by the early part of 2013 I wasn’t enjoying it quite so much.  But because I had founded this event, I felt I had to carry on with it regardless and that I had a duty to it, but now I know better.  People change, circumstances change, plans change, and the reality is that the festival no longer fitted in with what I wanted out of life.  Then the month before the festival took place I found out that I was pregnant with Frankie.

The events of the coming months changed me in ways that I would never have believed.  If you had said to me this time last year that by now I would be married, pregnant and had a stillborn baby boy I would have laughed at all that like mad.  I was so relentless with my work and what I did before Frankie was born, I would cram as much into every day as I possibly could and work 24/7 round the clock to achieve things.  But it was never enough, as soon as one set of tasks were completed I would add another set immediately to my every growing list.  So it was a huge shock when I was hit with extreme tiredness when I was eight weeks pregnant, which was right when the festival took place, and I couldn’t be at every event.  All I wanted to do was to get into bed by 6pm every evening as I felt so exhausted all the time.  For the first time in a long time I just couldn’t achieve everything I wanted to, although looking back I now realise that I piled way too much on my plate and that there was no way I could realistically achieve it all.

After the festival was over I wanted to leave it, but instead I thought a change of direction would do it the world of good and make it more modern, contemporary and funky.  The then team took it completely the wrong way about what I wanted to do with it, and with hindsight I could have perhaps communicated it better but I’m not perfect.  I spent a night in hospital with abdominal pains thinking I was losing Frankie in early September and while I was in there I said to my husband, “I don’t want to do this anymore, I don’t want to fight for it – because I’ve had enough”.  And boy was that one of the best decisions I EVER made, because unbeknown to me it paved the way for everything we are doing with Frankie’s Legacy now.  At first I was resentful of the amount of time I had put into the literary festival over the years when I could have been doing other things, but it was MY choice and I could have done something about it, and I’ve learnt some very valuable lessons.  But from the moment I started Baby and Cleft as a blog just after Frankie was diagnosed with his cleft lip and palate I knew that everything I had done for the literary festival had not in fact gone to waste.  It was to come into its own even more when Frankie was stillborn, because I had already done a lot of research into setting up a charity for the festival, what’s involved and what to do (although it never happened for the festival) so I was able to get Frankie’s Legacy up running in record time over Christmas and New Year.  I would never have been able to do that if it hadn’t been for everything I did and learnt with the literary festival as everything I had done for that was completely transferrable to Frankie’s Legacy.  Now I spend less time working so I actually get time to relax and spend with my husband, but I seem to achieve a lot more.

I’ll never be the person I was this time last year – driven, always driven, rushing to the next meeting, next event or next diary engagement.  The events of the last year have taught me many things that I wrote about in this entry at the start of this year.  I’ve slowed down immensely, things won’t fall apart if I don’t do them and I won’t miss out on anything events wise if I am not there.  I pick and choose what events I go to now very carefully and only go if they will be a good use of my valuable time.  I take time to smell the roses, spend time with my husband and my family and yet I still have time to see my friends, relax and still achieve everything I want to.  For the first time ever I can achieve things on my to-do list and not replace them with a million other items and other diary engagements to keep.

I have been through many things where I felt I was being rejected, the literary festival included.  I felt very betrayed by people who I thought were my friends, and that hurt me at the time greatly.  But a couple of days ago I saw this quote by Steve Maraboli: “As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” It is so true, everything that I thought I was being rejected from that hurt at the time was actually the stepping stone to something bigger and better in my life than before.  It feels like everything I’ve done, everything I’ve been through, every single rejection I’ve had has led me to where I am now with Frankie’s Legacy and do the very best I possibly can to raise as awareness as possible of cleft lip/palate, stillbirth and chromosome 15 duplication syndrome, as well as raising funds that this year will benefit the delivery suite at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.  Everything I’ve learnt has enabled me to be as far ahead as I am with Frankie’s Legacy so quickly, and I’m forever grateful for it now even if at the time I couldn’t see the point in why I was still doing it.  I forgive all of those who hurt me over the years, for they unknowingly and unwittingly led the way to where I am now, for which I am forever grateful.

I wish them all well and that they have every success with what they are doing.