It is fair to say I have been a bit in the doldrums recently, hence the lack of bloggage. Overworked, underpaid, with a husband about to lose his job. I had overspent AND overeaten at Christmas, and the lack of pounds in my purse combined with the extra pounds round my waist were weighing on me heavily. Life had turned into an eternal, infernal Groundhog Day of getting up, making packed lunches, going to work, coming home again, making dinner, helping the kids with their homework and finally collapsing into bed exhausted to do it all again the next day. Even a trip to the cinema to see 12 Years a Slave left me traumatised the next day such was was the brutality depicted on the screen. Plus I had had a article published in a magazine. This should be a moment of great joy, but I haven’t been commissioned for a second piece, so the bad feelings of rejection have greatly overtaken the ones of satisfaction of achieving a goal. For the first time since starting my blog I really wondered if I should ever put pen to paper again. On top of all this my mother-in-law has been suffering from an acute attack of mental illness due to anxiety. I have been powerless to help, and knowing she is feeling so bad doesn’t make you feel too good about yourself either.
So yes I was feeling very sorry for myself. Worrying about the future, especially about money, the future felt doomed. A massive black hole with an unavoidable event horizon. An empty bank account which would lead to a loss of home. I have been driving my work colleagues crazy I was being such a misery, but I really couldn’t see anything to look forward to. My sister is getting married in April and all I could think is how the hell are we going to afford the hotel room if Paul doesn’t have a job?
By Tuesday night I was at my wits end. Paul had been given his finishing date, the end of March. A long, laborious task at work was proving to be even longer and more laborious than cleaning Buckingham Palace from top to bottom with a toothbrush, by yourself in a day. With an impossible time deadline I was feeling more dispirited than the Russian responsible for the fifth snowflake misfunction at the Sochi Opening Ceremony must have felt when they looked at the media coverage for the event. You know you have work load issues when you are worried about how little time you have left until the weekend on Tuesday don’t you!
A good night’s sleep helped, so did the team talk with myself. Best foot forward I thought. Little did I know I was about to walk into a life changing experience as I travelled down the corridor to have my lunch.
I work in a school and our Year 10s were having an extra special assembly with a motivational speaker. I was following the stragglers and just asked if I could listen during my lunchtime. It is on these seemingly inconsequential moments our lives pivot isn’t it?
The speaker was Richard McCann. A wiry ginger shot of adrenaline and positivity. He held the 240 odd teenagers in his spell with his story. Just before his 6th birthday he was the youngest child of the Yorkshire Ripper’s first victim. It was only a twist of fate that stopped him and his sister discovering her brutally attacked body. His life before and after that event hadn’t been a picnic either, in foster homes, on the at risk register, physically abused by his “feckless orge” of a father (Social Services description at the time). A man who drown the family pet in bath when the dog was annoying him. Richard, understandably grew into angry young man and his life took the familiar path of destruction including a spell in prison before he found his way.
At school an English teacher had spotted his talent for communication and got him to entry a speaking competition. As Richard said he had never don’t this before, but he thought well why don’t I have a go. I can do it. He said it was that first ray of positivity in his life that a boy in second hand clothes, a boy who had to endure the comments and curiosities of the playground about who he was and who his mother had been, could stand up in front of the class, and not only speak but win the competition.
He realised that something good can come out of everything. Because of his experiences he helps other victims’ families to overcome of the pain of losing their cherished ones in horrorific circumstances. That even being the child whose mother was murdered by a serial killer can be a gift because you can use that experience to help others.
The cliche is that your eureka moments are like a thunderbolt hitting you. I can confirm this to be no cliche. It was like my whole being was cleaved in two I thought about the magnitude of that statement. If this man can turn the most unimaginably horrendous events around in his life, I can bloody well cope with my lot. You can do anything you want to do with the right attitude. You overcome anything life throws at you with a positive outlook. All at once I could feel energy rising in me, I felt the ability to deal with all my (seemingly very minor ) problems.
I went home buzzing and excitedly explained to the family how we lived in a Can Do house. Everything seemed so much easier, opportunities seemed to spring up waiting to be delved into. At school the next day students were in a similar frame of mind. Inspired to achieve. Instantly I wanted to write again because I felt I had something of value to say.
It is very hard to convey just how powerful Richard’s speech is. I urge you to read one of his books and if you ever get the chance to hear him speak seize it with both hands. He is speaking again in Leeds on 6th June, I think it is too good an opportunity to anyone to miss.