Your Life Purpose

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why

Mark Twain

We hear so much about great life ‘purposes’, the people who achieve the wild and the wonderful things, the extraordinary achievers and achievements. We applaud and admire them (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but we can’t help but feel somewhat inadequate to them though. It’s almost as it we see ourselves as an inferior being because we perceive our achievements are not the out-of-this-world Nobel-award worthy achievements.

Or so we think….

But what if we changed our thinking around a bit and applauded what thus far we have considered the ordinary, every day things? What if we valued the roles that have been previously been so undervalued? What if we applauded being the stay-at-home parent? What if we celebrated the work of the cashier/cleaner/shelf-stacker etc.? What if we acknowledged the effort of the chronically ill person in getting through the week? What a game changer that would be.

There are two things we do as a society that we really need to stop so as to help this mindset change:

Comparing our journey to the journey of others:

This is a terrible habit. What we are not considering is our journeys are so different. Just because the destination is similar, does not mean the journey is. We all have our own unique mix of skills and experiences, which when mixed with the potential destination, makes for a very unique journey. But we don’t look at it like that do we? We constantly compare our journey to our family/friends/colleagues and then berate ourselves when we perceive our progress to be less than theirs.

Why do we do that to ourselves? We are being so unfair to ourselves when we do that, and we really need to just stop doing that.

Dismissing our Achievements:

The other thing we do that we need to stop doing is playing down or even dismissing what we have achieved. We should be proud of whatever we do. Because we do the best we can, with what we have, at any given time.

So, if your to-do list has two things, and your friend/neighbour/colleague has 12 things on their their list – why does it matter? They have their list, and you have yours. This is your journey and that is theirs.

And please don’t use the phrase ‘I’m just a….(insert title)’…..this is one of the most common ways that people put themselves down. You are never ‘just’ anything – you are something! So when someone tells me they are ‘just a housewife’ I remind them that they are a housewife, not ‘just’ a housewife! We really need to start valuing every role, every job, and every person’s contribution. And we also need to stop apologising for the role we play in life.

You are fulfilling a valid role, your existence matters.

Maybe you cannot see that, but trust me, it matters.

You matter.

Not everyone is destined to be a CEO, a great inventor or an accomplished artist. Not everyone is destined to work 9-5 outside the home. And not everyone is destined to be a parent. Maybe, just maybe, you are destined to be exactly who you are?

As Dr Seuss says, ‘there is no-one alive who is youer than you‘ ….and what a great life purpose that is……

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The Red Door

Everyone shuts their door in the end

André Aciman

It’s firmly shut now. Its once vibrant pillar-box red now faded and peeling in parts, but yet still eye-catching. You can still see the beauty within. The years may have weathered, but it’s as if the light has never dimmed. The full effect of the passing years not fully visible.

The hinges, now still and silent, could tell a tale or two, if one was inclined to ask. But no aged hands push the door open or closed these days. No youthful fingerprints smudge the once glossy paint.

Standing on the street looking at the door, the mind can’t help but wander to times of old; happier times when the sound of laughter echoed freely in the rooms behind that red door. Happy memories of busy school mornings where the struggle to get out the door seemed impossible to achieve. Memories of the more difficult days where you struggled through the hours before you could make it safely back through that same door.

It was a beacon of welcome and of safety. Spotted from afar, you knew you were safe now. You knew the warmth of the open fire, and the welcoming aroma of fresh baking would cocoon you as soon as you stepped through that infamous door. You never felt safer than when you had passed through it.

The red door saw so much of life. Brides, babies, first days at school, college and work. Graduations, big birthdays, and retirements. It saw you through them all.

Through old age and illness, it still stood as the welcome beacon, the signal that you were home and safe.

Doctors, priests, undertakers.

Estate agents.

Locksmiths.

And for you, the door is locked forever.

Own It!

These days we are all most likely familiar with the ever increasing volume of compensation claims. Now before I go on, I am 100% supportive of people who are genuinely injured receiving compensation for their suffering, especially when their suffering is a result of the negligence of another. What I am not okay with is people who exaggerate their suffering or claim, when it wasn’t even the fault of the person they are claiming from.

It is bad enough that people are getting ridiculous pay-outs for these claims, but the mindset that is behind this is equally disturbing….

These days, we seem to have a culture of blaming others when things go wrong. We spill a hot drink on our arm, and blame the company that sold it to us. We fall off the back of a moving tram, we blame the tram company (don’t even get me started as to why someone is jumping on the back of a moving tram!!). We fall of a swing, we blame the owner of the swing. We fail an exam and blame the teacher or school….I could go on and on with examples, but this is not a witch hunt….and I am sure you get the point by now….

What I find really disturbing about these examples, and the thousand more that are out there, is that there is no sense of personal responsibility. At no point in any of these ‘accidents’ was there any admission from the ‘victim’of doing something that they should not be doing (I use the term ‘victim’ very lightly – in fact I’m more leaning to the sarcastic by using it if I’m really honest!!)….

There is no sense of acknowledging that I should not be on a swing if I am drunk – and if I do get on that swing, and subsequently fall off (because seriously, what else is going to happen???) – why do I blame the swing owner for not supervising me? Am I not an adult? Do I really need instructions on how to use a swing? If that is the case, well you better accompany me to the bathroom, because I may just fall of that too! And those ‘crime scene’ pictures will not be pretty!!

If I buy a hot beverage, then should I not expect it to be hot and therefore exercise caution in handling it? I am not going to hand it to my toddler in the back of the car, unsupervised. And if in some bizarre moment of poor judgement I do hand it to my unsupervised-back-seat-toddler-passenger and they spill it….then is that not my fault? I, a competent adult in charge of a mini-adult, does not seem to know that a toddler should not be left with a hot drink….in a moving car. Should I even be driving????

There is a growing tendency to blame everyone else when things go wrong. And that is a worrying development. Why are we so afraid of owning our mistakes? We all make mistakes, so why run from this truth? When did we change from learning from our mistakes to cashing in on them? And why oh why does the system pay out on these?

At what point will we stop this madness of always blaming someone else when things go wrong? At what point will we accept our own faults and failings?

We all have a personal responsibility to accept when things are our own fault or just an accident with no blame – but at what point will we own it?

The Biggest Mistake

We fear them, don’t we, these things we call mistakes? Ever wonder why we fear them though? What is actually wrong with making a mistake?

Mistakes are usually built up by society as something terrible, an awful thing to do or happen. If we make a mistake, there’s nearly always somebody on standby to ridicule us for it. Somebody to point out that we are wrong or berate us for not getting something right.

All too often we second guess ourselves, for fear of making a mistake. Or we may avoid trying something new, just in case we make that dreaded mistake.

But if we stopped to think about it, what happens when we make a mistake? What does it actually mean? Well, what if I told you that a mistake is just another step on the road to getting it right. That sometimes mistakes are necessary. And that most of the time they are our best teacher.

Would it change your mindset if you knew that everyone makes mistakes? Would it make you feel better to believe that mistakes are quite common, especially when we start or try something new?

Perhaps we need to be kinder to ourselves, and accept our mistakes for the lessons that they are.

Because not learning from our mistakes is probably the greatest mistake of all.

Too Busy To Live

You know the feeling. The ‘to-do’ list is never ending. The time is ticking away faster than you can blink. All around you life is changing rapidly – children are growing, parents are ageing. It’s hard to catch your breath at times.

You pack so much into your day. Caught up in the modern way of being busy all the time – it’s almost expected to be very busy these days. You don’t know what to do with yourself if you have a rare day off. In fact, you feel guilty at the thought of such a thing.

While you are so busy doing everything you can, your children are growing up. You will never have these days back. 18 years at most – how many of those years are gone? And just as importantly, how many have you left? Are you sure you want to spend their remaining childhood flat out on other things, instead of enjoying the brief spell that is their childhood?

As you work your way through your to-do list, you cannot fit in time for a cuppa or phone-call with your parent(s)….not realising that one day they will no longer be there to boil the kettle, or answer the phone. It’s not a reality anyone wants to face…but it is also one that cannot be avoided. Memories of shared moments will be so much nicer than memories of missed calls or visits.

We get so caught up in our modern busy worlds that we seem to have forgotten some of the really important stuff. Nothing can replace time spent with family or friends. No job or chore should take their place. No-one should be too busy to live.

But – and here’s the important bit – what if sometimes doing nothing but observing and enjoying life was okay?

Guess what – it is…..

The end of the school summer holidays seemed to come around too quickly for you this year. As the days gradually turn cooler and shorter, the school doors begin to open once more. It is an event that you have waited on with a mixture of emotions.


Year on year, you’ve watched other parents wave their pride and joy off to school. You have witnessed the highs and lows, the pride and the sorrow, the tears and the smiles. All from afar.


But this year, it is your turn ….to wave goodbye….


You stand at the gates, or maybe even the classroom door, and watch your pride and joy take a step forward into the big world. Without you. And you are overcome with pride.


But the pride is equaled, and possibly even overwhelmed, by a sense of loss, a slow creeping realisation that those precious days of pre-school, those days of togetherness and freedom, are gone forever. A hard truth you did not want to face just yet.


And you are sad. Understandably, achingly sad.


Letting go is hard.

The Dark Ages of Modern Times

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We thought it was all in the past. Antiquated services, long waiting lists, cut back after cutback (for the ordinary and the vulnerable in our society, not the elite). Homelessness, evictions, job losses, poor wages. It could be an overview of a dark history.

Alas no, it is not about the past, it is about the present. Modern day Ireland….2019.

Where a child requiring psychological assessment is told to wait 42 months for an appointment. And this in an era of mental health awareness?

Where you can’t risk a heart attack in the south east out of business hours as there is no out-of-hours cardiac services.

Where three year hospital waiting lists are the norm.

Where people are financially better off on the dole than actually working.

Where families live in hotel rooms because the banks repossessed their home which now lies empty.

As a nation we are most definitely going backwards. Nursing graduates get offered work overseas, while our HSE does not offer employment despite a serious shortage of nurses. Hospital wards remain closed. Many medical posts remain unfilled. Services try to fill the shortfall with agency staff which bleeds the budget. But a recruitment embargo persists.

A national children’s hospital is being built in Dublin city centre – like that is going to be easy to get to – despite more suitable locations off the accessible M50….and the budget has over-run by millions.

Our national cervical screening programme has failed thousands of women. False results, inaccuracies. Deaths.

Shame on our system.

€60 million on a public service card that breaches data protection. €54 million on the never used electronic voting machines, subsequently scrapped for €9 each. The list could go on and on but you get the gist.

Child care fees cost more than a mortgage. House prices are way beyond the average wage. Our pensioners get a €5 weekly increase in their pension but have to wait 6 months for this. The rehabilitative training allowance (€31.80) is stopped causing serious financial hardship or even the end of training for those who rely on it.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and the social gap continues to widen. Those in power appear to be so far removed from the ordinary everyday lives of the people they are supposed to be representing.

The mind boggles.

And I’m sure George Orwell would be immensely proud of this live action version of ‘Animal Farm’ – such a shame it is real life though.

Just Getting Old…

This is it, this is how it ends. The journey into certain old age has surely begun.

Not only do the knees protest loudly with each step, the eyesight is starting to fail miserably, and the hearing isn’t exactly up to scratch either. Nature now provides natural high-lights, and fun games are all the rage now – the favourite apparently is ‘guess what you came into this room for’.

Back in the day a good looking young lad could raise the blood pressure…..and while they still might, its more due to the fear that will they be blaring music all night. Young ones wear far too much make up and skirts were never that short – were they? Turn down that music and put some clothes on will ya!!

Go out at 11? Are you mad – sure that’s bed time! And you’re now getting up to avail of the facilities at the time you used to be getting home at. You can’t listen to live bands in a pub – sure that’s mostly noise these days anyway. And on the occasions where you are not too tired to venture out, you need about a week to recover….and that’s from the quite nights!!

There’s a whole new language as well and you don’t mind admitting that you are a bit lost with it all – things are no longer ‘cool’, they’re ‘sick’ and now ‘dope’ means ‘cool’ – huh???? Do us old fogies need to go back to school and learn this new language???

Back in the day your favourite seat was usually in the local – these days it’s the recliner in your sitting room. You can’t pass a bathroom – that would be a waste of a good opportunity. People no longer try to guess your age – you are now the subject of respect rather than a slagging off. People apologise when they swear in your company and young (very young – are they even old enough to work??) sales assistants call you ma’am or sir….You can’t tell the difference between a leaving cert student and a teacher anymore, you swear that doctor is only 12 and that guard is just playing dress up!

For the most part you feel you are getting older and wider instead of older and wiser. There was a time you could dance the night away, not a bother to you….these days you can’t do a 2 mile walk without requiring a chiropractor.

Ah yes, this getting old lark is a hard one to figure out…..but isn’t it a privilege denied to many….and while we may have to grow old, we certainly don’t have to grow up now do we????

The Fight

….I would not change you for the world….but I would change the world for you…..

You never expected this. You never asked for this. You never wanted this.

You never thought that every day would be such a struggle. That every day would be a mixture of pride, love, anger, fear, sadness and frustration. Never in a million years did you think that the basics would be a fight, and the seemingly smallest of things be a major milestone. You never foresaw any of this, never imagined that life could be so hard.

Most days see you worn out by the time the morning school run is over. And then you have to face the ‘system’, battle your way through the myriad of red tape to access vital services, a system that is about as friendly as a shark at feeding time.

You are overcome with guilt on a regular basis. Why you? Why your child? You done everything right – ate what you were supposed to eat, avoided what you were supposed to avoid. And still, here you are, struggling and battling every day just to survive. It is your child who gets left out, your child that people do not understand. It is you who has to fight for everything – a school place, a speech and language appointment, support aids….the list is endless. And you are tired.

You lie awake at night, your mind ravaged by nightmares worse than any experienced under the cover of sleep. You cannot concentrate on things during the day because the anxiety you feel is so high. Constantly wondering and worrying about what is next – what will be the next hurdle, and will you get through it?

It is not fair. It is not right. All children are equal. But somehow it seems your child is less equal than others. It enrages you. It hurts you. It worries you. No-body sees your tears because you have become so good at hiding them. No-body really wants to walk in your shoes.

Day in day out, the struggle continues, a constant battle to live in a world which seems set on making the most simple things impossible. Day in day out, the way forward is paved with obstacles which always seem insurmountable, and the never ending fight continues.

Day in day out you wish for the day when there is no more struggle, when the negative and pessimistic attitudes are no more, when waiting lists are a thing of the past, when the system works with people rather than against them.

And until that day comes, you will never stop your fight. Because you are a highly trained fighter, with years of experience. Your motivation cannot be dampened. Your determination knows no limits. And the word ‘quit’ is not in your vocabulary.

Nothing will stop a parents fight for their child. Nothing.

Old Friend

Location doesn’t matter. Time has no bearing. The friendship is as easy as it is long. There is no need for constant calls and reassurances. Your presence is felt, the miles dilute nothing.

Through the years, the many trials and tribulations of life may have taken their toll physically, maybe even emotionally, but the bond of friendship is unscathed. Unbreakable.

Through good and bad, through thick and thin. Births, deaths and marriages. New jobs, old loves, new houses. Promotions, redundancy, empty nest syndrome. The old friend has been there through it all. And is still there, waiting in the shadows.

Though the energy and excitement of the 20-somethings, the more mature and settled forty-somethings, the devil-may-care-lets-finish-this-in-style 70-somethings. The old friend always nearby, ready to slot in whatever the mood, whatever the stage.

The old friend, may you know them, may you have them, may you be them…..