It is October and its still warm! Leaves are turning colour, some are already falling and some of the berries are coming out. I seem to be seeing a lot of these beautiful things happening in the countryside as I negotiate the many diversions because of roadworks. Roadworks always signal winter is looming. People seem to be making plans for Christmas and the first catalogues are arriving. Little people are looking forward to half term and working parents are making plans to cover the break.
So, what am I thinking about?
Replenishing and refuelling!
It started because I realised my positive mindset was slipping a bit – lots of reasons but let’s just call them life. I needed to put some fuel into the tank. Whilst I was planning how, I found myself at a school reunion. These trips down memory lane are not usually my cup of tea. However, I do belong to the old girls’ association, so I get regular newsletters. Just recently we get end of term newsletters from the head teacher as well which are quite amazing.
Like most of us I barely skim newsletters. However, having been asked by the school magazine editor to write something for a series on former pupils I decided I should take more interest in the old place. Then an invitation came for the reunion. Apparently it is sixty years since we all arrived at grammar school – who is counting and why?! Then it became irresistible to see the others and what we have become (and who has aged least!).
It was fascinating. Twelve women whom I spent up to seven years with, some of whom I have not seen for over fifty years. I feared it was all going to be marriage, children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren. Of course, there was some of that. However, it was mostly chat about what we had done, people we remembered and what they had done, people who inspired us.
To my amazement I came away refuelled and inspired.
- The girl who went to university to read chemistry, graduated and then had the courage to change course and become a lawyer
- The girl who went from a girls’ grammar school to university and then found her way to an all-boys school where she had a successful and enjoyable time teaching history.
- The girl who became a doctor and went off with Medecin sans Frontiere to Ethiopia whom we all saw on TV news reports. She is now dead and we do not know how but all think it was during another rescue tour. We would never have dreamt she would be so brave.
- Girls we remembered for their beauty – particularly hair!
- Those who were brilliant scholars.
- Those who encouraged us to be the best we could be
- Girls remembered for sports prowess – one girl with us had worn the England shirt.
- Girls who had become vets, lawyers, civil servants, health specialists, social workers, businesspeople.
- Girls who had followed their passions.
- Women who remained true to themselves but contributed to their communities. Women who have lived up to the long-forgotten school motto “Not for our own advantage but for the common good”.
Apparently when I was house prefect I was always on the touchlines at sports games or in the room for other things – I remember none of this.
We toured the school remembering dreadful toilets, revolting showers, drafty corridors, art rooms and domestic science rooms. In the school hall there is still the same lectern we stood at giving reports – just like Hogwarts! However, we saw some wonderful developments. The IT suite, the head teacher’s room which has a partly glass door so you can see in, a dining room with healthy food choices, a fabulous sports hall! There was wonderful artwork in the corridors.
During lunch we had spoken about the dreadful male teacher who would have been sacked (rightly) these days as a sexual predator and the strategies we learnt to survive him; and how fortunate we were to suffer no bullying. To my great pleasure in one of the corridors was a noticeboard “How to be a good friend” there were lots of pieces of advice. The three I loved the most were:
- Be kind
- Stand up tall ,look people in the eye and be yourself.
- Listen – really listen
It was an inspirational day and I do feel recharged by my peer group. So, when you think about recharging your batteries think laterally. Who is there in your group you need to spend more time with to share their energy? Who is one of those everyday heroes in your life who can teach you so much? Who is quietly being themselves and inspiring others by what they do?
And mostly who is doing these things in front of your very eyes and yet maybe you do not notice? How about sitting with a cuppa and thinking of each of your family, your friends, your colleagues and identify their one special skill, that incredible ability that you admire but take for granted. Value them for it. In our work teams we are sometimes so busy we become blind to those around us. Take a long , hard look and build on what each person brings. This inspiration is all around you and free! Why not use it?
If you need some help with all this then please speak with me. My work is to help you be more effective in your work. Sometimes that means helping you to value yourself by valuing others and understanding the value that they put on you. I love speaking with people, off the meter, to help them explore possibilities and whether/how to take them forward. I hope you will be one of them.