Home » It is my birthday and here is my wish

It is my birthday and here is my wish

Marnong estate

Ahhh, how do I start today’s post without mentioning that I am one year closer to another new decade – eek! How did that happen? It is funny how each milestone brings new insecurities you didn’t even know you had. When I hit thirty, I was not ready for it; I hadn’t completed our little family (I did that before I was 31, though), I wasn’t where I wanted to be in my career, and I was still living in Australia and studying full time and working two jobs – I know crazy right? 

When I hit forty, I was loud and proud! I was living in Hong Kong, loving my life, raising a fantastic family, and in a better head space than I could have expected. I wasn’t exactly in the “I Love who I am” stage of my life, but I was sure close to it. 

Now here I am, counting down to when the next century begins, loving my grown-up children, living in Singapore, loving my newfound love of writing, and most of all, I am finally at that “I do love who I am stage”. Of course, my body isn’t as it was in other decades, and my face has a few war injuries to show, but I am okay with that. “How?” I can hear you screaming through the post. Well, it is easy; let’s start by working with what you got. 

sitting in the pool

Working with what you got

Yep, for those who know me well, I am not tall, I don’t have one of those killer bodies all us women long for in our earlier years, and my face doesn’t belong on the cover of any fashionable magazine. I have never been recognised for a sporting profession or named one of the world’s wealthiest women. It is about being realistic with my goals; each year, I set out and write achievable goals that don’t include any of the above categories. I understand what I have to work with and why I am so grateful for what I have been given.

I have been given a healthy body that can climb mountains and hike for hours across all types of terrains, and next year will see me ticking off another one of these incredible adventures. I have also been given a supportive family, whether it is my partner who believes in me, my kids who encourage me or my close family members who inspire me. I have friends who have my back, celebrate my wins, and console me in my losses. 

It is the community I belong to, the friends I have made along the way, and the life experiences I have created from stepping out of my safety net and taking risks. The belief others have in me allows me to have the belief in myself. However, most of all, this journey is about me, about being my own cheerleader and allowing myself to be kind to “ME”, even when I may fail at things. 

sentosa island walk

Hitting rock bottom

Not everyone has the luxury of a positive, confident, healthy mind. The past two years have really shown that isolation has been hard on many people, and I, for one, will put my hand up and say wholeheartedly that 2021 and 2022 have been by far the most challenging years I have ever experienced. It took me and my thoughts to places most have never been and, if I am honest, should never want to go. To say I hit rock bottom is probably the only way of describing how I felt during this period of my life. 

I have always been a person who can see the positive in most situations; I never ask for help, which I discovered is my worst trait and being vulnerable is the scariest part about being a human (to me). So it took me a while to realise that I was falling down this tunnel of nothingness, and not asking for help was my own downfall. My life felt a little like it was crumbling around me, and I just didn’t know how to stop sliding down a path I knew was too dark to handle on my own. 

sydney lock down

Telling the truth about my situation

To even write this is difficult, but to explain why I am where I am today, I have to tell the honest truth and be as vulnerable as I am ever going to be. So here goes; I was a little broken and spent two and half years in a broken family unit while my partner was living in Singapore, and I was living in Sydney with the kids. I was being told by friends and family that my partner shouldn’t be coming into the country to visit and that he should just quit his job and move back to Oz.

I felt like I was being blamed for a world pandemic and judged by those close to me at the time, and the only solution was to quit our former life and move home because if not, then well, it was our own fault. No empathy was given for our situation; the people I love had views that hurt me more than they will ever know. 

To add icing to the cake, during this time, we spent a tonne of time locked up at home, my dog had a health scare, and I was in constant pain with a back injury. 

To some, it doesn’t sound much, but to me, my world was crumbling, and most days, I couldn’t even answer the phone as it took more energy than I was willing to give. I wouldn’t say I had given up, but I couldn’t see much of a future. I felt helpless, isolated and worthless, with constant pain as my only companion. 

Sydney Lockdown

Allowing others to help

It took some time before I realised that what I felt wasn’t just sad or in a bad mood, but I felt depressed. Not wanting to leave the lounge (I couldn’t walk up and down the stairs, so I had to sleep on the lounge during this period), I didn’t want to speak to anyone, not even the people in my own home. I had no energy to do anything but sleep, watch tv and think; during this time, I had long discussions with myself with an internal dialogue that had me crying at the drop of a hat.

During this period, I had come to believe that I couldn’t tell anyone how I was feeling, and nobody cared anyway. I had made myself think that no one on this earth would understand how someone like me could live in a home full of children but be so lonely that my only thoughts were ….. “who would care if I was gone?”

Ouch, this post was never supposed to be this brutely honest, nor was it supposed to be going down the path of self-destruction. I never thought in a million years that my thoughts would honestly be able to be read by people I have never met, more suited for a journal than a blog post, but here I am and here is why I am telling you this. 

Walking on the beach

Be kind to yourself

During this time, two things happened: a friend reached out and asked if I would do a 28-day course that was all about me! At first, I thought it was a little indulgent and that I didn’t really have the energy even to want to invest time in a program that sought other alternatives to not only medicine but alternatives to your current lifestyle. 

The second was a persistent friend who kept trying to ring me, and although it took me a while to have the energy to answer her call, little did she know she had saved my life without even knowing it. Personal contact, chatting to someone about how you are feeling, and being vulnerable brought me back from what I now know as rock bottom.

I went on to do this course; I started to learn more about nutrition, alternative medicine, natural energy and how to get up and move again. After months of chiropractor and physio appointments, my physical health also started seeing an improvement. I began to turn my life around by learning to love gentler exercises for my age (in love with yoga and pilates, who knew). 

rugby mum

My wish for my last year in this decade

So here I am, happy, healthy and loving life once again. Never wanting to feel that way again is a huge motivator; never wanting to be back in that place of darkness and being kinder to my mind are all aspects that keep me going each day. There is only one life you are given, and we aren’t always given the best cards in the deck, but we need to allow ourselves the strength to seek help when we need it and help others when we can. 

So here I am in my life, ready to give back to those most vulnerable, help in any way I can, and prevent another life loss. My goal this birthday is to raise money for a cause that digs deep inside me, that I am sure everyone at some point in their life either was in that place or knows someone close who has or could be right now. 

I couldn’t love this charity more if I tried; I have for years donated to many charities and many go-fund me pages and volunteered in many areas of the community, but nothing hits home more for me than Mindfull Aus. I aim to raise $10,000 in 10 months. For the first time in my life, I am reaching out and asking everyone I know to help make only this dream of mine come true but to help Mindfull Aus keep producing all this fabulous work for those who are just as I was, feeling like they are in a hopeless position. The more people they reach, the more chance they have to reduce the number of suicides, and the more of your loved ones have someone to reach out to and give the voiceless a chance to speak. 

So yes, although I have turned my life around, many haven’t, and many don’t know how to. So all I ask is that you could reach out and donate that cup of coffee money to a cause that could save someone’s life; – all I ask is that you click here to donate. 

people laughing

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It is my birthday and here is my wish

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8 thoughts on “It is my birthday and here is my wish”

  1. Love love love and thank you for sharing beautiful lady. The more of us that share makes it less odd! Most of us are travelling a very challenging and individual journey – but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Always here for you 🌸

    1. Paula Barreca Barnes

      Thanks, Nic – I am not sure what is harder at times, hitting rock bottom or having to admit to yourself and those you love that you have hit rock bottom. Hope you are well x

  2. I love this post so much! 🥰 Thankyou for being real 🥲 and sharing your lowest point in life with us. I admit I take the easy route and dive for the meds to fix things. I do believe that making lifestyle changes is the better route 😊 but they are so hard 🥲 you’re so amazing! 🤩
    I feel honoured that you have let me become part of your journey and I hope we will be friends for years to come 🥰🥰🥰 Happy Birthday and keep being amazing 🤩

  3. So glad I read this, brutally honest to help other people – recent times have been challenging for many. Thank you for sharing.
    Hope you have a fabulous Birthday 🥳

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