This is a very special post this time folks. I wanted to take a moment to devote a few words in celebration of the wonder that is my parents; John and Tricia Penfold.

These two humans have taught me to love without prejudice, forgive instantly and with a full heart, and to shine that love out into the world upon the people I come in contact with.

My parents, however, have not always had such an easy ride with me. As a young person, I was incredibly challenging. Fiercely independent and intent on growing up way ahead of my years; the adolescent Penfold was a force to be reckoned with.

At that age, I saw my parents as a hurdle to get over. Sure, I loved them. But they were the thing standing between me and the rest of the world, the freedom that I craved so mercilessly.

So I lied. A lot. I gave little care for the impact of my behaviour on these two beautiful souls; getting suspended from school at one stage, alongside general drinking/smoking and other slightly suspect (largely nocturnal) teenage activities.

Strange then, that a creature that craved and chased freedom so fiercely, ended up landing herself in a prison of her own making, and one she the chose to serve 12 years hard time in. When I met my ex husband, my parents could see how wrong things were, and tried hard to steer me in the right direction with a big dose of tough love.

Sensing their challenge, instead of heeding to their age and wisdom, I chose to create a false existence that I hoped they could be proud of me for. I fabricated a happy life, a balanced existence and a loving husband; when in truth, I had none of those things.

What did my parents do about that? They simply loved me. Without judgement. Much as it broke their hearts to see their beautiful daughter fail to feel the joy that it was her true destiny to experience. They supported me with their love, and continued to do so no matter how hard I tried to cast them adrift.

When I turned 30, and finally left my ex husband, I finally found my parents. It was them in fact, early one Saturday morning five years ago, in late November 2010, that came and collected my dog and I from the house I had shared with my ex husband. My mum helped me to make the decision to leave early that morning, as I was in complete turmoil. They then drove for six hours to collect me, before driving us all the way back to Hartlepool, where they lived at the time. Passing that five year milestone this past week feels incredible, much as it all feels like a lifetime ago.

By finally letting them help me, I finally let them ‘in’. The sense of relief within me was palpable, and I allowed myself to love them as abundantly fiercely as they have always loved me. It broke their hearts to learn the reality of the world I had chosen to exist in, but it equally filled them with joy that I had been able to break free from it, and that they had been able to support me in doing so.

They are truly exceptional people, and I am thankful every day to have them in my world. They not only helped me physically break free, they also emotionally propped me up through the torturous months that were to come, each day presenting a new challenge. They helped me to make small steps and not just freak out at the enormity of the change I was making, they helped me to stay present. Between them and my Aunt and Uncle in London, they also managed to make sure I ate every day – which was no mean feat!

Aside from the obvious help, love and support they have given me, I am also thankful to have had this beautiful demonstration of love, acted out to me and my siblings over many years and in many different roles. I use them as my example when it comes to the love and care I give others, even when that love isn’t reciprocated, in the way it wasn’t always with me. I let my love set an example for others, in much the same way they have done for me.

They continue to love me, my sisters, my brother and all of our respective people, in the same indiscriminate way. Celebrating our successes and holding us steady when we face our battles, helping us move, helping us generally sort our lives out, collecting us from airports… I could go on and on.

So; Mum and Dad, this is my love note to you. Your love continues to inspire me each and every day. Thank you for never giving up on me. You have created the most magnificent blueprint and I hope to make use of your beautiful parental road map one day. In the meantime I will continue to hone my hard loving skills on you guys. I love you to the moon and back.

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