On Monday 1 January 2018 I was browsing LinkedIn and I noticed this post from a contact I have called Mark Sephton:
When I read it I thought what a great idea! Having been off course with setting myself relevant goals over the past few years this seemed like a great way of getting things down onto paper (or onto computer, so to speak) and holding myself accountable for them this year.
I then decided to take this a step further and write this letter as a blog so I can go and look at it whenever I feel l might be coming off course in any way. The letter I have written to myself is below, and printed out in an envelope to open and read on December 31st 2018.
Today is 2nd January 2018, and this letter is to be opened and read on December 31st 2018. For the last few years I haven’t made any real goals, nor have I made any new year’s resolutions. Up until November 2013 I was religious about setting goals, setting myself KPI’s and being on a strict tight schedule. Every day was a myriad of task lists, to-do’s and diaries, every second, never mind minute had to be accounted for and used.
Then in September 2013, when I was 5 months pregnant after having six early miscarriages, I found out that my unborn son would have a severe cleft lip and palate requiring multiple operations, care and treatment throughout his life. It’s okay, I told myself, he has these problems, but it is nothing that can’t be fixed. I will be a full-time Mum and organize my time for that and for his operations and constant hospital appointments. It will be fine.
I gave up my career to prepare for his arrival and being a full-time mother. Businesses and ideas went on hold. Ties were severed. Nothing was as important to me than my unborn son. This was my new path, my new life, and my new direction and focus. I was now a mother first, foremost and only.
But on November 27th 2013, when I was 33 weeks pregnant, I was told these few devastating words.
“I’m so sorry, but there is no heartbeat.”
My son had died inside me. Part of me died with him.
Francesco “Frankie” Enrico Ventura was born sleeping at 4.43am on Thursday 29th November 2013.
This was not the only thing to happen to me. Since that date I lost my father-in-law not six months later in horrific circumstances, two very close cousins (one of them died of a heart attack at only 57 years old leaving behind his wife, a son and his parents in their 80’s), my beloved German Shepherd to old age and my beloved Aunty Maria of dementia. It was relentless, as just when I got over one death and subsequent funeral, another one would occur. Thankfully, 2017 was a much kinder year to me and while I did have to attend one funeral this was for my Great Aunty who reached the wonderful old age of 97. Sad as it was she did have a great innings and life and so I am very grateful for that – not like the others who were taken way too soon. My son didn’t even get to take a breath in the outside world.
If there is one thing that life has taught me since I was thrown so drastically off course from being a full-time mother, something I had wanted my entire life, it is that you never know what is around the next corner. I have not made resolutions, set any goals or made any real concrete plans since November 29th 2013. I threw myself into many things to try and numb the pain of losing my son when it happened, I was relentless and worked myself into the ground – I set up a charity and fundraised in my son’s memory, I set up blogs, I went back to work but the bereavements and losses kept coming, one after the other. It is a miracle that I achieved anything at all navigating through the myriad of grief at the same time.
2017 was a year of healing for me, of acceptance and of letting go of things that no longer served me. I had bereavement counselling and understood that death was an inevitable part of life, and I couldn’t change any of what happened. It was just unfortunate that I lost so many in such a short space of time, and that’s the roll of the dice or the spin of the roulette wheel.
2018 will be the year that I go back to doing what I love and what I do best. It took me a long time to find the right work role for me and I have had a few howlers since I lost my son as I went from pillar to post trying to stay afloat from the grief I was experiencing. I have accepted the fact that I will never be a mother – a diagnosis I received in 2015 put an end to that – and although at first I struggled and felt a huge failure for not being able to do what I was put on this earth to do, I realized through my counselling sessions that it isn’t my fault, and I am not a failure. I was born with the condition I was diagnosed with, I didn’t ask for it and nothing can change it. I am not meant to be a mother. My path in life is back to where it was before November 29th 2013, and although I am forever changed as a result of the losses and bereavements I have been through, the world is my oyster.
I can put on festivals and events. I can be a public and motivational speaker. I can blog. I can write that long overdue novel. I can produce great content for my work at Corinium Global Intelligence. I can be the tower of support that my Dad and family needs as my Dad is not at all well now. I can practice mindfulness, self-care and look after myself to the best of my ability. I can do anything I set my mind to.
So in no particular order, here are the things that I pledge to achieve by the time I read this letter on December 31st 2018:
- Write a full-length novel.
- Finally launch the UK Cyber Security Association (UKCSA).
- Do more blogging and writing for cybergeekgirl.co.uk, www.lifebodysoulspirit.co.uk and www.frankieslegacy.co.uk.
- Launch a digital festival for Worcestershire and the first ever Worcestershire Digital Awards.
- Use my experiences to become an inspirational and motivational public speaker.
- Do the Reiki 1 and 2 master courses and learn to use Reiki to not only heal myself, but to help and to heal others too.
- Be the best I can be in my role as a Content Marketing & Editorial Manager at Corinium Global Intelligence, my perfect day job that I have been searching for years to find.
- Support my Dad and my parents through his period of ill health and be there as much as he and my Mum needs me.
- Most importantly, look after myself and practice self-care. Watch what I eat. Walk and exercise with my beloved dog Poppy loads. Get plenty of quality rest and sleep. Don’t fill every waking second, minute and hour with things to do.
The last bullet point is very important, because if I don’t achieve this or do this, I will be in no fit state to accomplish or undertake any of the other bullet points. It has taken me a long time to realise this, but I’m sure it will be the key to my accomplishing more, not less.
I know more than anyone that things may happen that are out of my control that get in the way of these things. I cannot control my father getting worse with his health, or something happening to another family member or loved one. I might get ill myself. But I can control how I react to it, how I see it, and how I deal with it. The future is a great unknown, we can plan until we are blue in the face, but I know first hand that life has a wonderful way of destroying those plans in the blink of an eye. Based on what I have been through previously, it will be very interesting to read this in 12 months’ time and see just how much I have managed to achieve from my list.
Until December 31 2018,