It’s never to late to follow your dreams and there is no time like the present to start.
Are you feeling despondent, disappointed, strangled, wondering if what you have experienced thus far, is all that life has to offer?
To date, there has not been to much to celebrate. You battle to think of the positives. You don’t feel your life has any direction. Money has always been an issue, you didn’t get to study, you don’t believe you are very attractive. You haven’t been lucky in the relationship area. Your parents were always fighting. Your grades were never that great. You stood out at school, not for your achievements but because you were always one season behind with the latest fashion trends.
If this is how you feel, I so relate as my granddaughter would say, “I feel your pain” I was raised in a single parent home. My mom and dad were divorced by the time I was six. He was an alcoholic and so any memories I have of my family before he left were not good. He made very little contact with me from the day he left. In fact all I really remember was being sent down to Durban once to see him in the holidays. I never received a call for my birthday. He never contacted me over the festive season, he never enquired about my grades and we never shared a meal together after he left. He made no financial contribution to my upbringing and quite honestly could be described as an absent parent.
Strangely enough I didn’t seem to let this affect me at all. I always used to say “I don’t need a dad, I can manage just fine on my own.” I’m not sure where that strength came from but I’m sure glad I had it. As humans, even as children we have the ability to block out negatives and there are times when this serves us well and there are other times when the demons come out to haunt us.
I only realised the impact of his rejection when I was in my forties. I was at a friends dads 70th birthday, when the realisation of what I had gone through hit me like a ton of bricks. Her dad stood up and delivered the most unbelievable speech about how immensely proud he was of his kids and he listed all their accolades and he spoke of the many memories they had as a family. His cheerful demeanour said it all, he had loved the responsibility of being a father. It was at this point that I realised my dad had absolutely no idea how I turned out. He was totally unaware of any of my achievements and there were no memories to speak of, in fact I don’t even have a photograph of the two of us. In essence it was a really sad day for me but I understand that you can’t reach for the stars when you are tied to your yesterdays woes.
My mom was a single mom, she worked hard for a living and struggled to raise four children on a single income, or so she reminded us often. To be fair though, it really was only me that she had to take care of. There is a ten year age gap between myself and my next sibling. This made them self sustaining and my two older sisters married young and my brother went to live in the UK at 21.
My mom suffered with depression and we would have to go through drinking binges and medicine overdoses. I was always made to feel guilty that she never remarried, after all how would that be possible since she had the burden of raising me. My mom also refused to learn how to drive, so every weekend we were made to feel guilty if one of us did not provide transport or a place for her to go.
She never travelled, she never did anything outside of her daily routine and her life consisted of going to work, coming home, to get ready for work the next day. There was no goal setting, there was no forward planning, and each day literally melted into the next. So put together was her routine, that she sat in the same chair every night, in her same blue dressing gown and did her crossword puzzle, day in and day out for as long as I can remember.
Now while all the above sounds like a whinge or maybe even a pity party, it is neither. It is what in fact prompted me to turn my life around. I was determined to live a different life. I was determined that I would love my life, I would explore the world. I would take up challenges, I would be a different kind of parent. I would create memories. I would not work the 40 year plan and die broke, taking all my dreams to the grave with me. It’s so important that you don’t confuse your path with your destination, just because its stormy now doesn’t mean you are not headed for sunshine.
A different life however is only possible if you are prepared to make some different choices. Here are just a few of the things I did:
DEVELOP A STRONG WORK ETHIC
I remember working from the age of 13 at a hairdresser every weekend just to be able to put some pocket money together and to be independent. I later worked at a supermarket on weekends and during the week to ensure that I took responsibility for myself. They were tough times since most of my friends didn’t need to do the same but today I am so grateful for the fact that I learnt work ethic at a very early age. The truth is there is no free ride and anything worthwhile achieving, will take work. It will also take work from the bottom up, starting out doing small things but always keeping your sights on the ultimate prize. Today both my hubby and I are financially free and live the life of our dreams. To achieve our lifestyle took a great degree of work and focus and both of us drew our strength from our childhood.
BE PREPARED TO FAIL
While I had every intention of marrying well and being the best example to my kids, of what a wife and mother should look like, I failed miserably. I married a compulsive gambler who never provided for the family. The biggest lesson I learnt from that experience was “If its going to be, it’s up to me”. From the time my kids were very young I was the sole provider, which helped me to grow in leaps and bounds. It brought to my attention, what I was really capable of. It made me stronger in every area of my life. I could however have chosen to go my moms route and play the victim but I chose never to repeat the pattern. Your choices will quite honestly determine your destination.
While earlier on I described my marriage as a failure, it certainly was not. It was a stumbling block, a learning curve a stepping stone onto something greater. I obviously got divorced but today I am very happily married to my best friend, Martin. We made it a life goal to be an example to our kids. We have demonstrated to them what it’s like to have a good marriage based on love and respect. We teach them about goals and dreams and we encourage them to spread their wings. We share an incredible relationship with each of our three adult children and our three gorgeous grandchildren.
We make them understand that life will deliver you curve balls, there will be difficult times but its not so much about what happens to us as it is about the lessons we learn from the experiences.
BE PREPARED TO GOAL SET
Goal setting was very foreign to me, since I was never encouraged to chase a dream. At some point though I did realise that I had a deep seeded desire to travel. This too came from my past, since we very rarely went on any family vacations and if we did, they were very rustic destinations and always courtesy of my older sisters. In contrast to that our neighbours children, friends of mine went overseas every year without fail. They always came back with the best stories, the best suntans and the best photographs and I have to admit I was always green with envy.
As I matured, I rekindled my desire to travel and my man and I worked constantly on our dream. We jotted down where we would go. We cut out pictures from magazines and created a vision board. We also did something that seemed a little crazy at the time and that was, every week without fail we would visit the airport coffee shop to drink cappuccino and watch the airplanes take off. This fuelled our dream and we would say “one day…..one day, that will be us.”
To date we have been to forty eight countries together and have a pending goal to do 60 countries before we turn 60. This energy has absolutely no resemblance to our past, where dreams were taboo and reserved only for the rich an famous. Never allow anyone to steal your dream, not even those closest to you. We have learnt that with hard work you will always achieve what you focus on.
CHANGE YOUR SELF TALK
This is by far one of the most crucial of the lessons I learnt. In fact it will probably be the topic for my next blog. As young children we are programmed and conditioned to think in a certain way. This thought process takes us through to adult hood. If we are constantly reminded that we are poor, fat, lazy, or just plain stupid, we accept this as the truth. It contributes to our self image and most importantly to our self esteem. If everything around us was negative, we grow up with a negative self image believing we are not special, not capable, not worthy. This is sad but the truth.
The best news however is we have the ability to change our thoughts. We can reprogram our minds. We need to stop thinking bad thoughts and start believing that we are capable, special, bright, generous, smart, deserving. This process does however take effort. It involves committing to affirmations, it also involves checking to see who we are associating with. It is hard work and you will often find yourself slipping back to your old habits but the gift lies in recognising your mistakes and rectifying them.
So truth be told, you are only one decision away from a totally different life. You will have to take baby steps. You will have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off when you realise you are regressing. You will have to goal set and create a mental picture of the you that you want to be. You must understand that it will not be a smooth ride but look for the lessons in every set back. Refuse to fail, refuse to settle for second best. Focus on the fact that you are a winner, that you were born to be great for the only thing that separates the successful from the unsuccessful is the quality of their thoughts.