I love my life, but there have been times when things have hit the fan.
I lost my Auntie, who was like a second mum to me. At the age of 38 I was told that I'd end up in a wheelchair by the time I was 45, if I carried on doing high impact exercise. Then I ended up in hospital to get a lump in my breast checked out - luckily it was fine.
But these experiences have taught me so much.
My Auntie's death taught me to love the life that I have and to not take anything for granted. She used to be a nun and wasn't scared of dying. In fact, after she died I had a dream where she told me that in Heaven she's 'just so free.' It's led me on a path where I'm more open to ideas of spirituality.
I was devastated when I couldn't run any more, or teach lots of my aerobics classes. However, that experience taught me to listen to my own body and do what it needs. I've replaced my love of running with a love of yoga and my body is thanking me for it.
Image: author's own
As I spent time in hospital with other women, waiting to get tests, I became grateful that I had my health.
Some women were given bad news that day and I often wonder how they can hold it together - raising families, holding down jobs and maintaining relationships, whilst going through their own health issues. I knew that I had nothing to complain about, and months later when I suffered from carpal tunnel, unable to get my kids dressed for school due to the numbness in my hands, I was still grateful for what I could do.
So many women reading this will be going through tough times.
If that's you, then I have some key 'go to' tips for you to try.
I call them my 11 commandments for happiness.
They're written tongue-in-cheek and for those of you who are religious, please don't take offence!
1.Thou shalt eat food that will nourish your body, rather than food that will harm it.
2.Thou shalt get enough sleep.
(I'm one to talk as I thought I was surviving well on five hours of broken sleep for five years. I was an idiot.)
3.Thou shalt take time out. From work, your chores, for yourself. Little and often. We all need to recharge.
4.Thou shalt exercise to gain strength, flexibility and to keep your heart healthy. Don't overdo it and don't make excuses not to do it. Make sure you do exercise that's fun.
5.Thou shalt know what makes you happy and do it. Try doing at least one thing a day that makes you smile - from a nice bubble bath, reading a chapter of a good book, to having a night out.
6.Thou shalt focus on your breathing.
(The golden thread breath got me through my three labours - along with a TENS machine - the days I was running on empty, it helped me through my grief after the death of my Auntie and it helps me stay grounded when everything seems to be going wrong. To do the golden thread breath you just breathe in slowly, then out nice and slowly - imagining that a golden thread is coming out of your mouth, bringing you closer to your goal. When I was in labour I imagined the golden thread bringing me closer to a healthy baby. When my kids are fighting, I imagine that the golden thread is bringing me closer to a quiet moment!)
7.Thou shalt listen, listen, listen. Listening is the key to good communication. Listen to your kids, your partner, your family, your friends, your body and your heart.
8.Thou shalt meditate.
(There are numerous studies that show the massive benefits meditation can bring, including more control over stress, depression and negative emotions. You can try all sorts of meditation from candle meditation, where you stare at the flame of a candle. Mantras are where you repeat a word over and over. Walking meditation is where you head outside and focus on each thing that you see, really living in the moment.)
9.Thou shalt treat everyone with kindness, including yourself. Judging others and comparing yourself to others only makes you feel bad. You don't know what each person you meet is dealing with, so give them a break. Give yourself a break too - do your best in any given situation, learn from your mistakes and celebrate each success
10.Thou shalt believe in yourself and in others. We all put ourselves down, with the voices in our head saying 'I can't do that, I don't have time for that, I'm not good enough, I'm too fat' etc. Ban the words 'should' and 'can't' from your vocabulary and start telling yourself that you can do the things you want to. You'll be amazed by the results
11.Thou shalt give thanks and be grateful. Always say 'thank you' and think of at least three things you're grateful for at the end of the day, no matter how bad it's been. This simple act keeps you grounded and happy.
The 11 commandments appear in 'The Happy Woman: What You Can Learn from Kids, Dogs and Men.' For more happiness tips follow Jaelithe on Facebook.