Looking Beyond …

thoughts and deliberations .. a theme is too restrictive


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To friendships – long and strong

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A thank you note to a special friend:

Four couples embarking on a new journey of parenthood sit on scattered cushions around the front room of a National Childbirth Trust enthusiast and teacher. They are wondering just what on earth they have signed up for. As the first group exercise unfurls and the earthy, left leaning tuition in all things maternal begins, they eye each other up suspiciously.   Right now, it isn’t parenthood they are worried about, as much as the unfolding nature of the forthcoming classes and instruction.

It is 23 years later, and we have lived to tell the tale. Having quickly identified each other’s reservations on that day, we dealt with them by meeting socially outside of the classes in order to assure ourselves that we hadn’t joined some kind of weird sect.   What some of us unknowingly had embarked on, was the beginning of a journey of lifelong friendship and support; the sharing of trials, tribulations and landmarks way beyond the birthing of those most special children that brought us together.

It was you, who sat at the helm of these developing friendships, bringing us together, spurring us on, challenging us and showing us over and over again with your energy, zest and enthusiasm that all situations in life are to be tackled head on and positively. With your generous nature, your optimism and perceptiveness, you were there at every turn and difficulty, as those of us new to parenthood stumbled our way through sleepless nights, weaning, teething and tantrums. You mopped up the tears, took our children off us for respite, gathered us together, and were constantly available. Even after we became separated as families geographically, you were the one that ensured that the friendships continued and thrived.

More than all of this, your friendship has been so special to me because you never once entertained the notion that my youngster, in his continual series of illizerof frames, hip spikas, plaster casts and splints, was anything other than one of the group, and you never once made me feel that our friendship through these times was an inconvenience. You gave this family total acceptance in our troubled journey and showed a generosity of heart beyond that of anyone else around us. I am not sure that you will ever know the significance of the times you took our two young lads to stay with you and give us a break, taking on the daily cleaning of wounds and medical care as if it were all part of the standard child-sitting duties. We will always be indebted to the love, acceptance and practical help that you gave to us during those years.

As the years went by, and our circumstances changed, it was you that fed our excitement at getting together for new year celebrations, and more latterly the infamous folk festival summer rendez-vous. Thank you. You ensured that we had many happy times together and we are still hopeful for many more.

Accompanying your generosity of spirit and your ability to organise and cajole, many other attributes – a sense of adventure, a continual striving to reach your full potential in life, to experience new and deeper things and to grow your identity – have brought many successes, adventures, joys and challenges along the way. When I look back to some of those conversations we had twenty years ago, who could possibly have imagined the journey on which your life has taken you since then? I am in awe of both what you have achieved and what you have survived.

Strong woman, not only have your nurturing, caring and loving characteristics ensured that each of your own children developed into wonderfully vibrant individuals who are able to offer and enjoy so much in their worlds, but you have enriched, inspired and encouraged other lives around you.

Long may you continue to give, and I pray that you will also receive abundantly, as you enter life’s next adventure.


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Having put my mouth where my money is……

….. it is time to put my money where my mouth is.  Or in other words,  talk can be a dangerous thing.

What I have found is that  once I start verbalising thoughts it becomes much easier to act on them, and in the build up to my decision to search for a different work life, I have done a fair amount of verbalising.

It helps to talk, not least because one is obliged to make a fair attempt at putting together something coherent to express.  I become acutely aware that I haven’t thought things through properly when I attempt to voice them to those that know and understand me best.  These same people make no hesitation in pointing out the flaws in my thinking.  I thank God for them.

I mean that literally, because my brain is capable of taking me to some very unhelpful places and frequently does at times of self-doubt.  And so it has been, that the first thing I have had to address on my journey is the unavoidable matter of self-image.  I happen to believe that I was made in the image of God, so for me, this has meant exploring how the image I have of myself gets in the way of being who I was made to be.  But whatever you believe, or don’t believe, it is true to say that if you have a poor image of yourself, then you will certainly get in the way of fulfilling your potential.  By the very nature of the problem, this is a difficult one to sort out by yourself.  Good friends and family who believe in you are invaluable.  Ignore them at your peril.

Quite apart from this mentoring type of talking to which I refer, there is another kind of confidence boosting talk that has helped me thus far.  I think it is commonly known as bravado.  It goes something like this….. “I don’t intend to be in this job for much longer”…… or for me, more latterly ….”I’m thinking of taking a bridge year.  A year out to find a new direction” .  There was a particular day, just a few weeks ago when I must have voiced this to nine or ten different people on the same day.  People I barely knew but had bumped into in the street were getting a full run down of my proposals.  I was rather alarmed at myself.  But this all had a purpose.  Have you noticed that if you say something about yourself enough times, you come to believe it?

I tend to be a woman of my word.  If I say I am going to do something then almost without exception (although I can think of one now and feelings of guilt and panic are being fought back) I will do it.  I guess I must have mentioned that I was planning to move on a few times at work, and so it comes to be that having put my mouth where my money is,  I now find that I am having to put my money where my mouth is.  So perhaps my next blog entry will be all about how to plan for a year with no income.