Sometimes, it can be inspiring when you let certain thoughts go and simply open yourself up.

At the beginning of 2018, I knew I needed to make changes in my life to become the type of person I wanted to be, but had no idea what that was. I know, sounds clichéd, right? It’s true though. I wanted to be the type of person people just liked being around and wanted to spend time with, but the reality didn’t match up. I can’t tell you how many times I have had people say to me, “Oh, you’re actually really nice” once they have gotten to know me. As much as I have desperately wanted to “fit in,” something about the energy I was giving off was negative, prickly, whatever you want to call it, and it wasn’t doing me any favours.

So, being ready, I was referred to a wonderful woman Ailee, (I call her the Witch Doctor), who can be found at This wonderful Kinesiologist has helped change my life. Now, I’m not going to lie, it is still a work in progress, but there have definitely been positive steps forward.

I’ve always felt like I’ve been trying desperately hard to make friends, but seemed to always feel on the outer. I do say desperately, because I ached to be part of a friendship group that felt like my tribe. Too many episodes of Sex & the City I guess. I moved around a lot as a child, so I have no long-term school friends, I had a child very young, so when I was working, a lot of the people I was working with didn’t have kids and I as I was working, I wasn’t able to be a part of the school community where mothers make lifelong friends.

Up until seeing the Witch Doctor, while I was trying to create this close friendship group, I now recognise that I wouldn’t have been giving out a great energy. I guess, behind the effort, there were negative thoughts of feeling if I was the one who was doing all the work to catch up, was it a real friendship or did I just have lots of acquaintances? Loneliness is a terrible thing.

After lots of sessions with the Witch Doctor, I began to let go of the negative thoughts that followed my efforts to be friends with people. It no longer mattered to me if I was making all the effort, what mattered was I liked being around certain people and if they weren’t okay being around me, they could easily say no, but they usually said yes. You know the funny thing? Once I let go of those negative thoughts around my efforts to build the friendships, people actually started contacting me to organise to catch up and now, I’m happier in the tribe I am building.

Still, how does this relate to the name Bag of Hearts?

More on this later, but as part of my journey of change, I had decided to walk part of the Camino Trail. I wanted to walk it in honour of my beautiful daughter Bree, who succumbed to her illness 20 years ago. The thing is, when I mentioned it, nearly every second person would respond with knowing someone who had just done it or was just about to do it. I started to wonder if this was the walk I wanted to do to reflect on my life without Bree. I could feel myself almost becoming resentful of everyone walking it and the people telling me about them.

Enter the wonderful leader of my hiking tribe – If you want a group of supportive women, Sex & the City style, these gals are it, just replace the heels with hiking boots! Anyway, after expressing my concern about the number of people on the walk, this wise woman said to me (and yes, this is word for word because that is how much it seared into my brain), “You know what though, there could be a million people on the walk, but every single one of them is walking a different journey to you.” I did say she was wise right?

That single statement helped me let go of my concern and I started to openly listen to the stories people were telling me about the Camino. One lady told me about being able to ride a Clydesdale horse across the Meseta (my heart leapt at the thought of sharing time with such a beautiful creature). Another beautiful lady who I am building into my bereaved tribe told me about someone she knew whose mother had passed away who went and did the Camino in her memory. As she was walking along, every 100kms, she would hang a heart that she had written a message to her mother on. I loved the story and I decided it was something that I wanted to do.

I did a hike in Warburton soon after this conversation. Following the hike, I went into a shop and they had these lovely wooden hearts with a white wash that I instantly fell in love with, so I bought a heap of them to take with me on the Camino. After I paid, the shop attendant gave me the bag and said “don’t forget your bag of hearts.” I don’t know why, but it made me pause, literally physically halt in the shop.

I thought of all the meanings with that statement. If only it were that simple, to go to a shop and buy a new heart and not feel heartbroken. But then I also thought of all the hearts of the people that have come into my life that I feel blessed to consider my tribe. These people will carry me through every part of my journey, and I will be carrying their hearts with me, no matter how small the link is. By letting go of the negative and opening myself up, I have received such wonderful gifts in return, including the name to this page.

So, Bag of Hearts is my space to share my journey of learning to live a life without my daughter, while honouring her memory. It is the space to share her story so that she lives on. I need to do this for me and if someone else gets something out of it, then it makes it all the more powerful. I need to do it.

For Bree x