Last week I met a man that I shall call Billy.
We had a simple conversation over a mug of tea that lasted maybe 15-20 minutes but has had a profound impact on me.
Billy lives in the same town as me but inhabits a totally different world. His world is one of hardship, addiction, poverty, heartache, bullying and pain. But our conversation was full of hope, belief and determination. Quite frankly he put me to shame.
A bit of a confession. I have been feeling a little sorry for myself. After a glorious six months of realising a long-held dream and moving up here, living in our gorgeous house, discovering everything our new life has to offer, December was horrible. I spent a lot of time on my own, money was very tight, I missed my family and friends down south, my skies were grey. Whilst I was not regretting my move, I found myself doubting whether the life I envisaged for myself was possible after all.
After months of believing that I could do just about anything, be anybody that I wanted to be, the old doubting-Penny crept back and settled in beside me. She was whispering in my ear, and I was listening.
I heard her reminding me that I am not really good enough. That I am sitting on the outside looking in. That I am not entitled to join in the party, that I am not invited. And who the hell am I to think that I can help other people? Coaching skills? Pah! What a fraud!
And my hair! What was I thinking? Going out in public when I am nearly bald? Get your wig back on woman! (Yes I know, she is very judgmental!)
Not only did I welcome that voice in, I fed it and watered it. Gave it the best seat in the house. While I sat frozen on my sofa, or laying in bed too long thinking and thinking and thinking….
I had moments of inspiration, walking to the bay and gazing at the beautiful water colour that is our home now. Spending time with one of my oldest friends and my newest. Listening to guides and teachers of my new understanding, reading books, searching for that calm place in my mind, that I know exists, but is sometimes drowned out by that voice and many others.
On New Year’s Day while Nigel was at work, I had a moment. A beautiful feeling washed over me as I sat in my quiet house with the dogs. And the voice I heard in that moment told me that everything was going to be ok. I instinctively evicted doubting-Penny and rejected the thoughts that she had been feeding me.
Over the last couple of weeks there have been several moments where my belief has strengthened. Practical moments, such as Nigel getting a new, full-time job and emotional moments inspired by love for my family and friends, or simply by the view from my office window. A quiet feeling of contentment has crept over me, restoring my faith in the future
Meeting Billy actually knocked me for six. Some of the things he told me horrified me. I did not feel judgmental, but his life is so outside of anything I have ever experienced that I felt shocked to my core. His story hurt my heart. My empathy for him made me tearful, sad and breathless.
But Billy did not need me to feel those things. He enjoyed our conversation and thanked me profusely for a good chat, shook my hand and said that he really hoped we could meet again soon. He is facing a stack of physical and emotional challenges that would floor you or I, including a possible leg amputation, with incredible positivity and resilience. I am humbled by this man.
On Saturday I worked with one of my first clients, who works for the charity I am volunteering for. He is a kind, inspirational, and devoted man who has forgotten how to relax, and does not see how amazing he is. Already I can see that I am helping. That makes me happy. I believe I can make a difference. And I don’t need coaching skills or certificates for that.
All it takes is a conversation.
And the hair? Well I made a very positive decision. I decided to see wearing my wigs as a positive thing instead of a negative one! So I got them out, washed and brushed them. Tried them on. Liked what I saw. Felt brave and determined. Have I worn them? No, not yet. But I will if I want. Because I can!
I am a seeker. Most of us are. For a long time I didn’t really know what I was looking for. But I think I have an inkling. I am looking for that beautiful feeling, and to share it with people along the way.
Fancy a chat?
Cause you give me something
That makes me scared, alright,
This could be nothing
But I’m willing to give it a try,
Please give me something
‘Cause someday I might know my heart.