It’s been a tough time of late for our family. Last week we remembered my mum’s twin sister who left us a year ago. In these times we are prompted to reflect, to question and to search for a deeper sense of purpose.
It was no coincidence that in the same week I watched a TED Talk from Emily Esfehani-Smith about the pillars of meaning and how we innocently pursue happiness as an endgame, when it’s the very act of relentless seeking that can cause us confusion.
I also attended a lovely fundraiser with my dear cousin as one of our Smile mums, Ellie, arranged a Pamper & Prosecco night and brought people together while raising money to help other families who come though our services. We’ll be joining Alex and co from Awesome Mums Brunch Club this Friday for ‘Festive Frolics’ – a night for mums to relax, unwind and have some fun. I’m always blown away when people choose to raise pennies or us – it feels like the Smile family never stops growing – and in a truly organic way.
Today we held the Smile AGM and looked back on another year of growth and consolidation – a year which has seen us welcome a new Board of Trustees as well as new faces in the team and we’ve nurtured relationships in the public and private sector with people who share our passion and values.
In a week of great contrast, I found a dominant theme. While Smile Group is a peer support service in the context of perinatal mental health, there are no boundaries to the context. If we live wholeheartedly, sharing our highs and shouldering our pain as an extended family or community, then life itself is one big peer support experience. And the glue that binds us together? Kindness and compassion are the essence of humanity and they stem from the heartspace – they are all expressions of love.
Amidst sorrow, bewilderment and pain everything can feel so constricting and overwhelming. We can’t fast-forward sadness (nor would we wish to) and we can’t always find answers to some of the biggest questions. However, we can afford ourselves space to experience the emotions fully (even when we want to run far away), to lean hard on those we love and trust and to simply ‘be’…whatever that might look like.
Even amidst the most difficult times we witness small acts of kindness that can fleetingly lift the veil of sadness. A hug, a cup of tea and a listening ear, a thoughtful gesture or simply a smile can remind us that we are all connected. Fear creates separation and the illusion that we are somehow alone in our experiences. We can feel exposed and vulnerable like little splintered rafts bobbing on stormy seas. When we open our hearts to the shared experiences of life we realise that there was only ever one boat.
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