This seems like a nondescript thing to write about. However, next Thursday will be 4 years to the day that I lost my mum.  The thought of it even a mere few weeks ago would have sent me spiralling and into floods of tears, however as per my blog of a mere 7-10 days previous I no longer have the urge to cry, but to think and focus on the teachings of what my mum, brought to me as an individual.

This article was triggered by the reading of an article by the Mustard Seed entitled on the Hardest thing. The writings are true but it is more than that and it got me thinking about what my mum had said to me and tried to install in me to allow me to succeed and be the person I am and am still becoming today.   My mum was a strong and passionate person, but could also be hard and at time spiteful and vengeful.  This may not seem like a pleasant thing to say about someone now deceased, but I have prided myself on being brutal honest about all things at all times.  People saw many different facets to my mum, I saw the empowered woman forced to survive and struggle with a situation she never wanted and never truly accepted for herself and her own life.  She fought against it ever day, and her reliance on others crushed her.  In case you are not aware my mum was placed into a wheel chair when I was only 18 months old.  For me there is a huge disconnect between seeing images of my mum pregnant with me walking about and with the reality of what I remember.  For my sister there is only the notion of mum being in a wheelchair. Yes I have a sister, are we as thick of thieves, of 32 years of growing up together we are starting to get there.  It has been a long hard battle but that is a story for another time.

As a result of mum being such a strong woman, this was something I have personally always aspired to.  It is obvious how much mum prided intelligence, study and independence.  She always encouraged us to read, go out and learn for ourselves.  Understand the world, to go make our mark upon it before our lives changed forever.  Looking back I can see where she is coming from and how she has felt strangled and had her ambitions and needs cut short by circumstances.  I am not saying she then did not go out and achieve, this is a woman who taught infant school children to bake, taught my sister and I to ride our bikes, how to Double Dutch skip, taught our friends to skip, went to computer classes, ran a local brownies and guides club, and won mum of the year on Going Live in 1990.

More than that though, she taught us passion, independence, strength and survival.  She taught us to look at our actions and make informed decisions.  There are three things that mum said to me that have almost become my personal mottoes for the way I live my life.

1. Never be beholden to a man – today this could be another person

(Please note I will use the term man here but purely as a generic form for person or people rather than any reliance on any given sex)

This can almost sound very deprecating and disrespectful, but it was more about having our own independence, not needing to have a man to supply for us or be there.  That we can live of our own means and survive with or without a man.  A man should  not be so encompassing in your life that you cannot life without one there for moral support.  For me this is as much about independence, being able to support yourself and your dreams and ambitions without needing sources from elsewhere.  The alternative tangent of this is also about being comfortable in your own skin, accepting of who you are as a person and being comfortable in your own skin.  Accepting you are, making decisions and living by the consequences and most importantly of all, taking ownership.

2. What if

This beyond all other things have helped guide my choices and the decisions that I make in my every day life, from the very mundane to the big important gambles.  Mum said the two worst words to wake up with in a morning was what if?  i.e. playing the if game.  Not always a sensible decision to play but an interesting one to do so when having to make a decision.  I sit and think about what is being proposed and ask myself if I make this decision am I happy and could I live with it long-term or this one.  Based on the outcomes of this I usually make  my decisions two examples of this are as follows.

Choosing to leave my post-graduate studies half way through the second year for mental health problems.  What is the outcome if I stay – I fail the course – Can I afford to re-take the year – How do I feel – This conflicts with my third rule – will I have regrets leaving the course – is it the right decision for me.  Following this process and putting myself in an imagined fantasy of my own making I chose to leave the course.  Now some 12 years on from making this decision, do I have what if moments about this choice?  No, do I regret the decision not really.  Why because it was the right decision for me at the time.  Staying on the course would have been more damaging to me and my mental stability than leaving.  The reasons for leaving and quitting were valid and helped me to maintain rule 1.  Which for me is the over-riding rule of my life.

The second scenario happened 4 years ago when I had the chance to up and move to Switzerland and again I used the same reasoning and argument as above.  In this instance I knew that if I did not take the chance now the chances are it will never come again and this would be something I would regret for the rest of my life.  A decision based on playing what if in the here and now.  A bi-product of this is if it does properly and effectively then like Edit Piaf you should have no regrets.

 

That is one thing I can honestly say, as a result of living my life, honest and true to me, the only regret I have is a hateful thing I once said in an argument to my mum. Personally I think getting to the age of 37 and having purely only one regret is pretty remarkable.  Are there things I may have changed in my life, maybe, do I regret the decisions I have made – hell no – all courtesy of two little words What if

3. A winner never quits and a quitter never wins

This is the third most practical bit of advice I have carried with me that my mum taught me and has often been a source of conflict with rule or motto 2 above, as noted by my example.  However by being true to you and what you need you should never feel like a quitter if the decision was the right decision at the time regardless of the consequences.  For me it built into me tenacity, resilience and willingness to follow my dreams and ambitions, and a willingness to want to be the best and rise to the top.  To show the doubters that it can be done and I will to coin a phrase survive and be the best I can be.

 

 

This stubbornness can often lead to a blanketed approach and the determination of an immovable object.  It can lead to me being so focussed on the task in-hand that all other tasks can be ignored.  However, it has given me passion, energy and a thirst for life that leads others exhausted and very often a trail of destruction in my wake.  I am lucky enough though to have a strong partner by my side who can say stop, breathe and carry on.  However as a result of this I have achieved things never though possible.  I have acquired the nick-name no fear as a result of my ability and willingness to tackle things head on and to keep going some more.

As a result of living by the above rules, which are listed in order of importance for me anyway, I have achieved the following:

  • Lived and survived living in another country
  • Learnt to Scuba Dive
  • Passed my A-Levels when others did not have faith
  • Got a Law Degree when others believed it out of my reach
  • Travelled and gone on holiday on my own
  • faced my worst fear of spinal surgery and come out the other side
  • Got married – eventually
  • Be comfortable in my own skin and who I am
  • Be proud to stand up and be counted
  • Not being afraid to stand up for my beliefs
  • Defend my friends to the death
  • Be not afraid to cut the ties, and then walk away regardless of how painful
  • Take ownership of my mistakes, own them and learn from them
  • Be Brutally honest regardless of how hard it is – applying tact when needed
  • Being me

So Mum thank you for being you.  Thank you for giving me the skills to survive in todays tough world but most importantly, THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME .

MY mum, me and Ella

The most precious thing I’ve Lost

 

Most Precious thing I lost

My mum

 

I love you and always will;  miss you and hope you are proud of who I am, what I have become and what if anything I have achieved.

RIP Barbara Josephine Potts nee Seal 22/11/2008

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