To all my new subscribers, I wish you a heartfelt and very warm welcome. I hope that you have found my book You ARE Good Enough – 10 Step Strategy to Stop Sabotaging Yourself useful.
You may not be a regular reader of my blog, so I think I should introduce myself.
I used to be a medical doctor. I worked as a general practitioner. I loved my job, I really felt I was making a difference in my patients’ lives. I worked hard, earned a good salary and eventually paying off the mortgage was becoming a real possibility.
Until disaster struck. I developed a debilitating eye disease. Both my eyes were affected. I had more operations in those first 5 years after diagnosis than I care to remember. I ended up blind in one eye and with only a limited amount of vision in the other eye.
My medical career was over before I reached my fortieth birthday.
Strangely enough, no longer being able to do the work I loved was not the worst of what had happened to me. Much more devasting was what the tragedy had done to my self-esteem. I had lost all confidence in myself and my abilities.
Rebuilding my self-esteem to a level where I was capable of contemplating starting a new career was hard. It took a long time. I was often plagued by doubts. I often felt like giving up. I was uncomfortably aware of how different I now looked when saw the shock on my friends’ and family’s faces when they saw me. In all honesty, I felt like crawling into a dark hole and never coming out again.
Convincing myself that I could still make a valuable contribution to society was the biggest challenge that I had faced in my entire life. Restarting from scratch, training for a new profession I could continue to practice even if I should lose my sight was the hardest thing I had ever done.
I did manage to do it. Against all odds.
Today I run workshops and I write books helping people build or rebuild their self-esteem. In the south of France, where I have always dreamed of living. On a little farm, in an ancient French farmhouse, surrounded by vineyards, sunflower fields, woods and meadows, in the foothills of the mighty Pyrenées mountains. I live here with my husband and our six horses. I am grateful that I have survived this catastrophe. I am grateful for what I have learned during the process. I am especially grateful for the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience with others.
Apart from the personal empowerment workshops and the books, I also write my Mpower blog and this monthly magazine. It is heart-breaking how many people have such low self-esteem that they remain stuck in dead-end lives when they have so much to give! My mission in life, for as long as I am able, is to show my readers and workshop participants how utterly amazing, unique, powerful, gifted, beautiful, strong, generous, appreciated, valuable, talented, brilliant, admired, respected, courageous, special, caring and lovable they really are.
Enough about me. The rest of this magazine is about empowering YOU.
Leading article, hot off the press from the south of France (the printing press, NOT the wine press!)
I thought that Leo was a lost case. I thought that he had been so severely neglected, so fundamentally mistreated, so intensively abused that he would never recover. On the day we met, he was little more than a bag of bones. He was infested with lice and so profoundly malnourished that he had difficulty staying upright. His eyes were lifeless. His breathing was shallow. When I reached out to him, he tried to get away, but he was so weak that he fell to his knees.
I was ready to give up on Leo.
The chances of ever reaching him again, to lure him out of the dark hole in his mind where he had taken refuge for the last two years seemed like an impossible undertaking. Might as well give him up as a bad lot. He had clearly given up himself a long time ago. Leo would never trust anyone ever again. He tried to make himself as small as possible. He shied away from any physical contact. He offered no resistance and no engagement. He wasn’t present. His broken body was there with me, but his damaged mind was somewhere where no human could ever reach it.
Once, he must have been young, playful and full of energy. Now, at barely twelve years old, he was a tired old man.
I had worked with damaged horses before, but I have never encountered a horse as far gone as Leo was when we met. I did not even know where to start. I seriously considered having him put to sleep, even if only to end his suffering. The festering wounds on his legs desperately needed aggressive treatment, but he was so weak that the antibiotics that he needed would probably have done more harm than good. From his swollen stomach, it was clear that he was full of worms, but I wasn’t sure if he would survive treatment for that either. His teeth were in such bad condition that he could not chew even if he did get access to some decent hay. Even if I managed to get him through this, he would never be a healthy, happy horse again.
How totally, utterly and completely wrong I was!
I did not give up on Leo, against my better judgement. Leo has been with us for 24 months now. As I walked out of the front door this morning, I found a happy, healthy, well-fed horse with a shining coat and a twinkle in his big brown eyes standing on the front lawn. He knows full well that he should not be there, but he has that «you know that I am a bit special» attitude down to perfection. He knows that he can melt my heart wth a single pleading look. No longer does he shy away when I approach him. I can see that it takes every ounce of self-control that he can muster to remain standing on the same spot when his every instinct tells him to run away as fast as he possibly can. He knows, though, that when he does that, I sigh and turn around with tears in my eyes. So he stands there, glued to the spot, trembling with effort.
We have, between us, developed an understanding. I know that as soon as I take the pressure off him, by changing direction, he relaxes. If it looks as if I am going to walk past without handing over his «because-I-am-worth-it» carrot, he will step sideways, to block my path.
Even when be was little more than a skeleton, Leo was courageous. Leo has the heart of a lion. That is why we called him Aurileo – the golden lion. It was his courage that kept him going and it was his courage that kept us from giving up on him.
Leo taught me a lot in the last 2 years. He taught me not to give up, no matter how bleak the outlook. He taught me to persevere no matter how impossible a task may seem.
2017 is just around the corner. Looking back at 2016, you may or may not be satisfied with what you have achieved. When you look forward to 2017, remember Leo. From somewhere deep inside himself, Leo found the courage to give people one more chance. You can do that too. In 2017, you can have another go at realising your dreams.
The last 24 months were not easy. It often felt as if for every step that we took forward, we took two back. But looking at him now, it was all worth it. When you are working towards making your dreams come true in 2017 and you hit an obstacle, remember Leo. If one way doesn’t work, try another. Do not give up, not on yourself and not on your dreams.
I wish you a 2017 as empowering and as prosperous as 2016 was for Leo.
Regular Monthly Features
This month’s Mpowering Quote: Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds. Orison Swett Marden
Mpowering Free Download of the Month:
How to Increase your Self-esteem (available till 31 December)
December’s Mpowering Prompt
Think of the most courageous person you know. What can you learn from this person?
Mpowering Articles I came across this month:
- My favourite Confidence Boosting TED talks
- Confidence Quiz
- My Collection of Self-esteem and Self-Confidence Articles and Quotes On Pinterest
This month’s best posts from my Mpower Blog:
- What is wrong with the south of France?
- Christmas Lunch in the south of France
- I am writing a Gratitude Journal
- Author Antics
Mpowering Meme of the Month:
News from the south of France
We have rescued another black cat! Sophie des Sources Sacrées is only about 6 months old and arrived at a friend of ours’, tired, cold, hungry and obviously abandoned a few days ago. They already have 5 cats who did not welcome the competition! So we took her in. Our cats are not that enamoured either, but our dog, Melchi’ore (see photo in the slide show below), thinks Sophie is just the cutest little puffball she has ever seen.
Pictures from our part of the world this month:
That’s it for this month. It is my dearest wish that you have read, seen or heard something in this e-magazine that will empower you to make the changes you want to make so that you can live the life of your dreams.
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Copyright © 2016 Margaretha Montagu
All rights reserved.