Picking Up the Pieces

Recently I attended Kelly Donegan‘s fundraiser for the Irish Cancer Society #Trek4Life campaign at which a number of bloggers spoke about the challenges which shaped them. It happens to be quite poignant for me as it has been 2 years since a very low period in my life where I found myself with nothing but a suitcase full of clothes and living in the boxroom of my parents house. I feel enough time has passed for me to finally tell the story about how my life fell apart and I picked up the pieces.

The Ten Year Plan
I had it all planned out. I would be married at 27, start a family at 28. I would have a big house and a beautiful Audi in the drive. I would have a successful career and wear a power suit and have perfectly manicured nails. At least that’s how I saw myself at the age of 18. It was my ten year plan and I was focused on chasing all of these warped measures of success.

The Crash
Fast forward ten years. The only box I had ticked was the big house, but I would often neglect to admit that the big house was accompanied by an even bigger mortgage. I was so far away from being married, instead I was clinging to a relationship that made us both deeply unhappy, but I couldn’t leave. I was afraid. Afraid of being single, afraid of being alone, afraid of what people might think, afraid that I might never meet another person who would accept me. In terms of my career I was working in an entry level job that I despised. Having recently completed my Master’s degree in psychology and pouring all of my savings into tuition, I had no choice but to take on every shift that I could. I didn’t wear a power suit to work. Instead I wore a tracksuit or jeans. I won’t even mention that state of my nails, because grooming was a luxury I couldn’t afford. The years of neglect and unhappiness had taken its toll and I was overweight and under stimulated. Children were a no-go area since I had sworn that I would never bring a baby into the world while I was so unhappy. Finally the Audi? Well, I couldn’t even drive. 

I had to do something. I had to change my entire life in one foul swoop. I had to walk away from my life. I had the heart breaking conversation and I left my relationship of 9 years. I walked away from the house that I thought I would raise my children in and moved into my parent’s box room. I realised that I had nothing to show for the last decade of my life other than a suitcase of clothes. A suitcase of plus sized clothes.
It was tough. I had to admit to myself that I had been on the wrong path and I had walked so far down that path that I had almost forgotten the way out. What followed was a frenzied attempt to pretend everything was wonderful. “Celebrating” my new found freedom by drinking every night for a fortnight. But the party couldn’t go on. All of the people who had rallied around me slowly eased back into their own lives and then there was just me. Just little old me, in my parents box room with my suitcase full of plus sized clothes and turning 29 years of age. 
I realised that it wasn’t enough to simply walk away from unhappiness. Happiness is something that you have to make for yourself. I decided first to start with myself. My first step throw myself into work and I started to achieve little things here and there. Work became something I loved and was interested in.

Down-sizing Me 

I then started to work on reducing the size of the clothes in that suitcase. The years of neglect on my mind and body had rendered me unfit, unhealthy and unattractive. So I contacted a personal trainer. I was so nervous and unfit but Michael from Bodycoach helped me to overcome all of my fears and body issues. I lost 12 kilos and began to feel confident again. I started to do things for myself again. I took a course on how to do my own make-up and I finally felt comfortable in buying new clothes and making the most of my appearance.

Getting stronger

Getting out of my comfort zone
I started to date and I won’t lie to you this was pretty terrifying. I had never really dated before and I didn’t even know what people did on dates! I met some really lovely people and some not so nice. Some dated me for weeks and never called again, some told me I was fat and some verbally abused me. Before I would have let this get to me but the New Clair was stronger than that.

Learning to Love myself again

Broadening my Horizons 
The third step was the reason I write to you today. I began to travel at every available opportunity. I travelled with friends and I travelled solo. I made my mind up where I wanted to go and I used all of my free time travelling to 12 countries and 4 continents in 12 months. Travelling made me feel alive again. I realised that I was far more resilient than I ever gave myself credit for. I danced salsa, drank Mojitos and smoked cigars in Cuba. I watched a bollywood movie, saw the Taj Mahal, crashed a wedding, survived a sleeper train and sailed on the Ganges in India. I saw the Northern Lights in Iceland. I haggled in the Souks in Morocco. Above all of this I fell in love on the beach in Latvia.

Getting spiritual in Jaipur

This blog was created to tell my story and this has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. By continuing to push myself out of my comfort zone I have experienced more in the last 2 years alone, than in the decade before. I am finally learning to drive and have signed up for a comedy improv class. I will turn 30 fitter, healthier and happier than I was when I turned 21. It feels hard to believe that just 2 years ago I felt like my whole World had fallen apart. To anyone who is reading and feels this way, just know that you are the creators of your own happiness. Only you can change and direct you life in the way you want.

This is the challenge that shaped me.

The future is bright


  1. Oh Clair, this is such a wonderful post and you are such an inspiration! Travelling made me stronger and a better person – you wouldn't think it if someone said to you “travel, and find yourself” but it's true, you really do! I am so glad that you feel fulfilled in life and you are achieving your goals – long may this continue and I hope to bump into you on an exotic beach somewhere in the world 🙂


  2. Wow, this is really raw and honest. Changing direction in life is one of the hardest and boldest things you can do. Its great to hear about such a positive transformation and thank you for sharing it!


  3. Your story shows well how important it is to face anxieties and embrace change even if that means, you need to let go. You can be very proud of yourself. I wish you all the best and strength for further challenges to come. You'll be much stronger now and get over them much quicker, because: Now you know, you can!


  4. Oh, how I relate to your post… I had the same plans 10 years ago and look at me now, at 29, with no house, no mortgage, no pets (at least not with me, they are in other country), no husband, no driving license… while everyone seemed to have their lives figured it out a while ago. And I'm scared and I'm thinking what the hell am I doing wrong and why am I so different than everyone else… but then I realise that I have my trips and my adventures and all the experiences that everyone else who hurried into choosing a family life is missing. I have been following you and I found myself so many times in your shoes, we have even traveled in the same places. 🙂


  5. Yeah girl, so inspiring!! 😀 I love to read posts like this, as I had a similar experience (as many seem to do) before I realized that I was meant to be traveling the world. The only piece that's missing for me currently is taking care of my body. I am traveling constantly, but that's seemed to make it harder than ever for me to get healthy. Have you written at all about that journey? I would be curious to learn any tips you might have!


  6. Such a heartfelt post Claire, we all have dreams that never come true but life goes on and we must learn to pick ourselves back up and keep going. I don't know you but your pictures show a beautiful stunning lady that travels the world. Best of luck on your journey x


  7. Very inspirational. It is great to see real emotion being displayed within a blog. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is essential in life and that is what travel has taught me too. Have a great 2017


  8. “You are the creators of your own happiness”. Thank you for putting into words what I try explaining to my friends that are sad with their lives. We decide if we are happy with what we have and where we are in live. And if we aren't happy then we also decide what the next step will be in order to be happy. So glad you were able to find what makes you happy (and healthy).


  9. Thank you for sharing your story. It is really hard to take responsibility for your own happiness and “making the break” and “stepping out of your comfort zone” are two very hard challenges a person can face (at least they were for me!) Well done, give yourself a pat on the shoulder. All the best for 2017 – I'm sure you will make it great!


  10. So glad you shared that – so inspirational. You are right that no matter what you have to take charge and make things right for you. I never did the conventional stuff and that came with a lot of criticism – I still don't to be honest. But you sometimes have to step out of your comfort zone like you have and challenge things if they aren't making you happy.
    Good luck for 2017 – really looking forward to reading more of your posts 😊


  11. Yes! Not sure how I came across your blog but this post is me..now! I’m writing this from my parents boxroom,my life packedup in boxes in their garage. I’m overweight, lost & disappointed my life hasn’t worked out the way I’d imagined. I have the job & a long term relationship but I’m stuck. The only thing that keeps me going is travel. New places, new experiences & adventure. I’ve been toying with starting a blog for a while now so reading this post gives me great inspiration! Thank you!!


    • I am so glad you took the time to read and comment. This is what makes writing worthwhile. Make the most of that boxroom and make it the base for you to follow ypur dreams… what ever they may be x


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