We all have times when we feel fragile; we may have felt unloved, undervalued, tired, and worn-out with nothing left to give and even broken. This fragility however is what makes us human, enabling us to love and offer compassion, but besides that it offers us learning far beyond what we could imagine and holds hidden gems of just how strong and resilient we are. Even when we feel at our lowest, we are in fact collecting an inner wisdom which we can draw upon later.

In my early twenties, over three decades ago, I was dealing with some life changing moments. Moments that would shape my life forever, though I didn’t know it then. I was starting my career in finance, developing a steady relationship like many at that age but I was also supporting 3 people close to me who had chronic and terminal illness. My Mother had ongoing illness with diabetes, angina and eventually had three strokes, the last fatal. My Father had a heart attack when I was in my teens but it was cancer of the liver and lungs which was the last battle he fought. My then, husband, I married at 22, had a brain tumour removed at age 19 and had many follow up operations.

Over the years I have looked back on those times and how we coped day to day with hospital trips, care, and work. Emotions were put aside and family just waded through what had to be done next.

When the dust settled from what were 3 or 4 challenging years it gave way to a life review.  I knew I was grieving and out of that I knew I wanted to be happy again and I knew I wasn’t, I was only 25 but felt as if I had lived a lifetime of responsibilities already. My husband had stood beside me throughout the trauma of losing my parents, which I will be forever grateful for, but deep down I knew our marriage wasn’t right. So we parted and eventually divorced. We remain friends.

I didn’t go looking for change, it found me, it came right up to my door and said here I am and this time I listened. I moved home, took on an easy job I didn’t have to think too much about with little responsibility and I met someone. I wasn’t even looking but there he was!

The next few years were brighter and led to marriage to the man who had suddenly appeared in my life, two children, study, a new career and a life learning all about spiritual ideas and healing. Well it started because I needed healing myself of course.

My path through spiritual awareness made me resilient for the everyday challenges and yes there were more to come. My first son was resuscitated at birth and we were lucky to have him survive. My second son had some learning hold ups as he was 5 weeks premature.

Each challenge though led me to new learning. I was open to do the best I could for my children and if that meant reading up on something or finding a therapy or technique that would help then I was there.

So, urged on by my need to help my own family I ended up studying a degree with the Open University (I had wanted to go to University earlier and hoped I would be able to get a degree one day). I studied health related subjects, world religions as I was interested in people’s belief systems, psychology of child development and philosophy of mind, along with some learning for all courses and even one on death and dying for bereavement work. I graduated at age 46.

This opened up my choices and I started to work with children who had autism and others that had hurdles to jump when it came to learning, which led me to investigate techniques such as yoga breathing, meditation and links between food and behaviour.

My own health issues played their part in my learning too, a chest infection which lingered on for 12 weeks left me completely wiped out. No medicine touched it, so I turned to acupuncture which relieved it a little and then one day a friend recommended Reiki.

That was a turning point. All my grief I had carried around lying heavily on my chest and heart chakra was released, I cried and cried. I had heard a voice whilst receiving the healing and had felt so much lighter, something I couldn’t explain then. I thought it best not to say anything. Then the practitioner at the end said “God spoke to you didn’t he?” Well, then I knew it wasn’t my imagination and that she had felt something too. The words I heard were simply “There is nothing to fear, I am always with you”.

After this amazing experience I asked her, (the words seem to just trip off my tongue before I knew it) if she taught Reiki. She had a course place in two weeks and so I trained to Master/teacher level.

Reiki opened up my connection to Spirit, I went on to learn many other healing modalities and as I did I realised I was becoming more spiritually aware of the assistance from my guides; I worked intuitively and started to rely on my inner guidance system. Then came channelling and the book Spirit worked on with me. Recently a new gift from Spirit has come along so I am working on light language healing meditations.

So why tell you all this now? Well I didn’t know as I was going through all this how it all fitted together but at every stage, each challenge, there was an opportunity to remain open to learning and I found that if I stepped into that, keeping open, I found a way through gaining some wonderful nugget of experience I could use later.

Now retrospectively I can see how all this learning fits together. In the beginning it was to heal myself but also to enable me to go on to help others. It has left me with the most wonderful tools, treasures, which hold me up through new challenges.

I don’t often advocate looking back into the past because I am a ‘live in the now’ lady, but occasionally it is worth it, to see how far you have come. I too have felt overwhelmed and anxious recently but looking back on what I have come through and what I have achieved I stand proud.

So, that fragility which is often seen as a weakness actually opens doors for opportunity and to hold yourself in great esteem for all you have survived and to stand proud too. Life isn’t easy…but if you are wise, and I know you are, you can look at those difficult times and say to yourself “I am not going to be determined by these moments. I choose change, I choose something better, and I choose happiness.”

I believe deeply that every human being has the capacity to survive their challenges and to dig deep to find their inner wisdom warrior. Just remember fragile we may be, defeated we are not!

Patricia McDowall  

Author and More to Life Elder

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