As I’m writing this, I’m on board a ferry from Dublin to Liverpool. The waters are getting choppy. Walking across the restaurant area feels a little unsteady, but not so turbulent that I’d spill the cup of tea over my hands. Although the coffee machine did suddenly spit out a hot chocolate at me in a rather alarming manner; rather unexpected and that’s often what choppy waters in life feel like.   They come out of nowhere. Though, I realise the captain of this ship may have some idea of how flat the sea may be for the voyage, so forgive me for the slight hole in the metaphor. However, what I’m getting at in this blog is how life can sometimes feel choppy, and occasionally strong waves can come crashing down. Recently, things for me have felt rough and uneven.

The main shock happened a few weeks back when my parents rang myself and my brothers to tell us that Mum had suffered a suspected stroke. At 53, this would be a surprise and with that news, I felt quite anxious about her upcoming scan, a scan that revealed she hadn’t had a stroke after all. Instead, Mum has what’s called a pituitary tumor. When I heard that word, my heart sank, but quickly I understood that 99% of these tumors, located in the pituitary gland underneath the brain are non-cancerous. For the whole week after the news, I felt low, gutted that Mum is facing such a battle, one that will most likely uproot her life in ways she hasn’t before experienced. Of course, I am incredibly thankful that things aren’t worse than they are and my hearts goes out to people who hear much more disastrous and heartbreaking news. Yet it’s still rocked the sails and I’ve felt like I’ve been floating slightly. Coupled with what I think is an infection or perhaps even a serious hayfever attack, I’ve been battling through times of no motivation and a serious lack of focus. These have been choppy waters.

Choppy waters are all around us; the war in Ukraine and the pandemic are probably more like tsunamis, causing widespread uncertainty, death and devastation. What do we do with a life of choppy waters? Where disasters, disagreements and discontentment constantly rock the boat? How can we stay positive? How can we hold on to hope?

As a Christian and a strong believer in the power of God to settle storms and guide us through battles, I know I can rest in him for all that I’m facing. But whether you believe that or not, there is power in focusing on the right things to maintain a positive attitude. To help us feel uplifted and not downtrodden. In life’s choppy waters, we can concentrate on whatever is lovely, joyful and encouraging, rather than dwelling in our deepest anxieties. Indeed, we do have to face hard times and difficult situations, but by focusing on greater things we can have the strength to tackle them. For example, I know that whatever is coming with Mum’s treatment might be hard, but I plan to focus on the love and support that exists within our family unit and our larger networks. The amount of texts and calls we’ve received collectively over the last couple of weeks reminds me of how much love exists within our lives and that’s where we need to invest our time and focus. Through that, we can be strengthened to do anything. I know, I know, “the power of love” - a bit cliché. But there’s a reason so many songs are written about it! Because it works.

What choppy waters are you facing? Remember to concentrate on the good things you have and look forward to the ones that are coming next.