It's been a while ...

Wow. I cannot believe that it is September 2021 and this is the first time I have posted this year!

Please excuse my long absence, but as you can probably guess, life has gotten in the way of many things this year.

For many of us, Covid-19 changed our lives for good. The pandemic in the UK, turned a lot of peoples worlds upside down, many lost loved ones and others were lucky enough to survive. We were truly blessed not to lose a friend or family member to Covid-19, but it was touch and go for a good few months with Anthony's Uncle. Sadly, my husbands Uncle will never make a full recovery, but he is well enough to be alive and living a quieter pace of life.

For those of you who do not follow me on social media, I have many a health update. The most recent, being resuscitated only just a few weeks ago. Physically, I am still fragile yet recovering slowly. Mentally and emotionally, I found the experience harder to bear but again, I am coming to terms with my "brush with death" and coping well now. As usual, I have had fabulous support from my husband, friends and closest family members. I am truly blessed to have such a strong, positive, caring & fierce support network.

On a happier note, I was able to celebrate my Grandfather turning 90, this June. I feel that nothing we could ever do, could aptly convey the pride and love we share for my Grandad. My Grandparents are a genuine treasure and two of my favourite people of all time. It was a real privilege being able to spend a week celebrating such a fantastic human being, as a whole family. My Grandparents played a large role in my upbringing and due to my poor health, I am unable to spend as much quality time with them as I would like. So to be to immerse myself in their love and home for a whole week, well ... it felt like heaven!

I am also extremely proud to announce, that my amazing husband has finally graduated as a Dog Trainer. He is now officially one of the most qualified Dog Trainers in Surrey! Not only did Anthony complete there equivalent of a degree within a 9month period, but he passed it with 100%! As always, I could not be prouder of the man I love. The pandemic had postponed his final exams and graduation roughly 4 times, but all good things are worth waiting for. When Anthony puts his mind to something, he does not stop until he achieves it. This year, Anthony hasn't had it easy at all and yet he still surprises me with his strength and determination. I love you, Beardy and congratulations, my darling.

If my recent brush with death, the pandemic, my worsening health & our 'new' world have taught me anything, it is to be unapologetically myself. I have always fought for the underdog and as a youngster, I was never afraid to speak my mind, stand up for others and fight battles on behalf of "friends". But over the last 9 years (since my diagnosis), I have been grieving for the person I had been, as that person no longer existed. That included to loss of my independence, my active social life, the friends that came along with that and many other things.

I have always been a loyal friend and once I am your friend, it is hard to get rid of me! I have always struggled when it came to cutting those people loose who were a drain on my resources. Along with growing up and my rapidly declining health situation, Anthony has empowered me to find myself again. Yes, the old Willow died a long time ago, she will never come back and do you know what - that is okay, I get that now! However, my spirit didn't die, she just needed time to heal. With Anthony's love, support, encouragement and sheer stubbornness, I found the new me. She is a mix of my old fighting spirit and my new found determination to only pour from a full cup. In other words, I no longer feed or pour myself into people or situations beyond my control or when I am not respected or treasured back, equally.

I am a firm believer in "everything happens for a reason" and "you create your own happiness". As my husband, Anthony contributes enormously to my happiness, he isn't its creator and we 100% make an unbreakable team. So why shouldn't all of my relationships be like that? Relationships should be equally respected & treasured by all parties involved. We can't always give 50/50 to our loved ones, but a decent friend will give 80/20, when 20 is all you have the capacity to give in that moment. They will remain loving & loyal, not drain you of your kindness, loyalty or emotional energy, because they know it will be returned with a full heart when they also need it most.

To my nearest and dearest, my family and my closest friends, I thank you for your continued and unwavering support - especially recently. Please know that I may not always be present in person, but my love, loyalty and gratitude will last forever. And finally, for those of you who have moved along or been parted with, thank you for your contributions to my life and for teaching me these invaluable, without which I would not have blossomed into the person I am today.