It was in December 2014, just a few days before Christmas, when my key arrived. I remember being thrilled at arriving home from a day of Christmas shopping to find a parcel waiting for me. For it to come all the way from Los Angeles to my little town in the south west of England felt like a big deal to me; and then I opened it up.
I chose the word Grateful because it had become a theme for me through the course of 2014, a mantra. I'd spent a hundred days in the spring travelling - to Australia and New Zealand, then up to the US and Canada - and gratitude had been a feeling I'd wanted to cultivate every single day. It remains the best thing that I've ever done, and I wanted something to remember it by; how grateful I'd been to have had that opportunity.
I've had that Grateful key around my neck for much of the last 18 months, and it's been there through a progressive period in my life. Since completing my degree in the summer of 2013, I've struggled against the downward spiral that depression can be, lost myself, found myself again, and then resumed the path that I'd been following since 2009, and remain on to this day. This coming September, I shall begin training to become a Primary School teacher, for children aged 7-11. In preparation for that, I've been doing some voluntary work in one of my local schools; and it's made me realise something.
I've encountered so many children that are going through difficult childhoods, for a multitude of reasons. It made me unbelievably grateful that my own childhood had been safe, and secure, and a treasure house of happy memories. It wasn't perfect - my parents split when I was ten - but truthfully, I don't think such a thing exists. My childhood contributed significantly towards my own desire to teach; and if I've anyone to thank for that it was someone who's been there the whole time - my mum. So the Grateful key is with her, and as a new chapter is about to start, I've got myself a new key, with a new word... Courage.