We have all been there…our relationship breaks down, we lose a loved one, our job becomes more demanding and our health suffers. It can all get too much sometimes. How do we cope? How do we get back up and start again, when every thought involving our future is bleak, almost non-existent. How do we find courage and hope again? When we are faced with challenges and life-changing moments, a simple change in thinking might be a good place to start. It sounds easier than it is, but giving it a try might bring fruits sweeter and harvest more nourishing than we ever imagined.
For Charlotte Reed, everything changed in 2008. Charlotte was diagnosed with depression, a time she describes as “one of the most difficult things I’ve ever been through in life”. She was working as a legal secretary, hiding her condition from colleagues and most friends. She tried to remain as positive as possible throughout these challenging times and committed to thinking at least one positive thought a day, which would then end up on her Facebook page. This is how May The Thoughts Be With You, a collection of affirmations and drawings, came to life. It was a “little way of helping myself”, admits Charlotte, and says that she began creating it as a tool to help her through her depression. Then, when it looked like things were turning, she developed RSI – Repetitive Strain Injury. Pushing through another year, she was signed off work in 2009. She knew something had to change radically and the only way to take the next step was to resign from her job. For Charlotte, this was a scary time in her life – having to leave the security of a job and not knowing when the next pay cheque would come in. To add to her suffering, she was also diagnosed with adrenal exhaustion. What followed were days filled with doctors appointments, acupuncture treatments and physiotherapy sessions. “I had to wear a special ‘cellotape’ on my back to pull my shoulders and back into alignment, and that was really painful”, she remembers. Her diet was given a complete overhaul – no coffee, alcohol or sugar, or anything else that might stimulate the nervous system. As well as being in constant pain, her hair started falling out, and she had really bad insomnia due to the pain.
In the mean time, her page was growing in followers and friends were telling her to turn her drawings into a book, which she thought was a “ridiculous idea”. She eventually gave in. Taking her savings and some inheritance money, she set herself six months to concentrate on making the book. “It was really scary at times because I was incredibly low on money but the great thing was that kind of pushed me to make it succeed. Because I was really enjoying doing it and I didn’t want to get a job now, I wanted to make this my full-time income”. When she got to her last £200, the very next day she decided to get a market stall and spend the remaining money on stock – a risk that paid off. “It changed everything and it’s been absolutely amazing. It literally was a leap of faith”, says Charlotte.
She self-published her book, which sold 2000 copies in the first year. This was 2013. Today, Charlotte’s book is being sold through major retailers across the UK, USA, Canada, and South Korea. On her 36th birthday, Charlotte signed a publishing deal with Hay House publishers and counts celebrities such as Natalie Imbruglia amongst her fans. All because of a customer who passed her stall and bought her book.
It is very apparent that Charlotte loves her market stall and meeting her customers and fans face to face. Even now, despite her book being published, she doesn’t plan on leaving Portobello Road Market. She would love to see her book being turned into an animated series (she has already been approached with that idea) and dreams of having her own shop. “Deep down my big dream is to have a shop on Portobello Road and be selling the book there and lots of merchandise, having a lovely place where people could come”, she says.
Charlotte might never fully recover from RSI, but she has learned to listen to her body and recognise when it’s time to slow down. “When I get the symptoms coming on I know that’s my body saying I need a break, I need you to not work tomorrow.” It has been a long and challenging journey for Charlotte, but she has learned to see the positive in it and believes none of this would have happened without it. “When I look back, I feel almost sick when I think of that time but I don’t wish it was any different because I wouldn’t be in this situation now. I totally believe that this journey had to happen to get me to this place right now”.
Many of us will experience difficult challenges in our lifetime, and I ask Charlotte what her advice would be. “If anyone could learn from my mistakes, then it would be, listen to your body, the moment it starts communicating, there’s something wrong”, she says.
So, has Charlotte found her true calling? “Yes, I think I really have. It could have been anything creative I think, it just had to be creative. And this is just a lovely way that it’s come out. I always knew deep down to be happy I would have to create something. So yes, it was just a case of what.”
May The Thoughts Be With You makes a wonderful gift for anyone, from grown-ups to children, and it is guaranteed to inspire, encourage and most definitely will bring a smile to anyone’s face.
Charlotte can be found selling her books and prints at London’s Portobello Road Market. To read more about her and May The Thoughts Be With You, visit www.maythethoughtsbewithyou.com.