Are you at a turning point in your life?
Has there been a critical event that has left you
wondering what direction you need to go?
that this may not be the first time you’ve found yourself in this situation.
If it isn’t.
Are you wondering why you’ve found yourself here again.
Maybe you’re thinking that this time things need to be different.
I want to share a particular turning point in my life.
I’ve chosen this one because the decision I made led to
changes in 3 significant areas in my life.
If you prefer listen to the audio below.
I remember sitting in my flat.
A ground floor flat in house.
I lived there with my partner and 9 year old daughter.
Upstairs was a single mother and her teenage son and daughter.
I’d just been released from the hospital psychiatric ward.
It is too long ago now to remember how many weeks I’d spent in hospital.
Maybe it was my state of mind a the time.
I joked about being mad.
Well I thought it was funny.
I was finally given the all clear to return home.
The psychiatrist said I was not depressed …
just unhappy with my life.
So I’m sitting there on my sofa.
I’m looking out the bay window.
I’m listening to the children upstairs dive bombing
Well that is what is sounded like.
There was that feeling again.
The swelling in my chest.
The pounding in my head.
I’d forgotten about this whilst I was away.
Yet this is one of the reasons I had got so down.
As well as sharing the front door and the hallway …
We shared the back garden. Well there was a low fence between.
But it didn’t make much difference.
A big Alsatian.
Would jump over to our side of the garden.
Do it’s business.
Then jump back over.
We did complain but nothing changed.
I was even too scared to hang my washing up in the garden.
I’d looked forward to having a garden when we moved there.
We were in a third floor flat before.
The garden was there in name only.
My thoughts moved onto my job.
I was a Youth Worker working with young women.
I’d been away from work for two months.
I was the youngest in the team Youth Workers
and I caught the attention of management
because I was quick to take on the new technology at that time.
I sensed the older more experience workers were too happy about this.
A couple of colleagues who I got on well with left.
One day in a meeting something I said was taken the wrong way and
this affected my relationship with the rest of the team.
I was reminded often of what I said.
I began to feel isolated.
I started to doubt my myself and questioned my abilities.
At home I had problems too.
My relationship was going through a rocky patch.
All in all I was unhappy and my way of dealing with it was to run away inside myself.
So whilst I sat on the sofa back home again I started to think about my current situation.
I realised that there are things I have control over and there are things I don’t have control over.
I had no control over what had happened to me in the past.
I knew I needed to let go of those things.
I started to think of the other things that I did have control over.
Where I live is within my control.
Where I work is within my control.
Who I’m in a relationship with is within my control.
I had a really odd feeling.
I didn’t realise it then but this was important turning point in my life.
I took a good look at myself.
I decided that I and only I am responsible for my life.
My daughter was about 9 years old then and she was dependent on me.
I had a responsibility to her to do something about my life.
I still had a feeling of desperateness. Of being overwhelmed.
The feeling of wanting to run away.
But that is what I’d been doing for the last 10 years.
In and out of hospital.
I knew that things had to change.
I knew that I had to change.
At the time I didn’t realise it but I had taken a step towards my own personal development.
I had set an intention.
I decided that I needed to move.
Before I had thought it impossible.
It was a housing association flat and there was little chance of getting a move.
We had looked into buying our own home a couple of years back but
the mortgage company had been turned down because of
previous depression and hospital admissions.
A few days later I was on the telephone to a friend who was excited.
She and her partner also lived in a housing association flat.
She’d just got back from a meeting where she had been offered
the opportunity to get involved in a shared ownership scheme.
She would jointly own the house with the housing association.
Part buy part rent it was called.
She would pay rent on the half the housing association owned
and she’d have a mortgage on the other half.
They were looking at houses.
I thought this would be ideal for me.
I rang my housing association straight away to find out if they were also part of this scheme.
I was told that there was in fact a meeting the next week and I should attend.
I decided to start looking for a house straight away.
So each day I would contact the local estate agents and arranged to
view houses after work and the following weekend.
Before the meeting we’d visited several houses and
been back to view one twice.
We had found our dream house.
I turned up to the meeting with house details in my hand.
At the end of the meeting we were told that we we eligible to participate in the scheme.
We were told to go off and find a house.
I went up to the presenter and said we’ve found the house we want.
I held up the paper.
I remember the surprise on his face.
We were told to expect that house buying can be a difficult process and
we may not get that first house.
We moved into that house on 30th June 1992. Less than 4 months after that meeting.
I’m still in that house 24 years later.
All because I made a decision.
I set an intention.
I had a telephone conversation and I saw an opportunity.
I took immediate and massive action.
I wonder if things would have been different if
I hadn’t experienced that turning point.
The next thing that happened concerned my job.
I’ve always had an interest in teaching and helping people.
I loved my job as a youth worker and I used to borrow books from the library about psychology.
I wanted to know why people behaved in the way they did.
Maybe it was about me.
Maybe I wanted to have a better understanding of me.
I was a qualified teacher but did not want to go back into that profession.
In 1993 our youth project was burgled 3 times in one week.
The project depended on local authority funding.
We were told that to continue we had to take cuts.
That meant redundancies.
I realised this was my opportunity to look for something else.
Around the same time a friend told me of a job going at a women’s bail and probation hostel.
I also remembered that I once wanted to be a Probation Officer.
My best friend was a Probation Officer and so I thought about applying for the
Diploma in Social Work which was the qualification required at that time.
It is interesting how things come together.
I didn’t know how I would survive on a student grant.
However, I decided to apply and found that an extra grant was awarded to applicants
who wanted to take the Probation Officer pathway.
I applied and I got an interview.
I remember being asked a particular question.
I was asked to talk about something that I found challenging.
I can’t remember what I said but I remember fumbling a bit. I wanted to show that
I could handle anything.
I was offered a place on the course but not the probation pathway.
I had applied to the bail hostel around the same time and been offered an interview.
During the interview I told them that I was interested in training to become a probation officer.
I remember getting the call offering me the job and being told that they would be happy
support my application to do the probation course the following year.
So in 1993 I left youth work and started my job in the bail hostel.
A year later I applied again to the college and was successful in getting a place
on the probation officer pathway of the Diploma in Social Work.
I qualified as a Probation Officer in 1996.
And I recalled the decision I made when I was discharged from hospital.
Where I worked was within my control.
I just had to take responsibility.
I saw redundancy as an opportunity.
It did seem as if the universe was conspiring to help me.
I should tell you what happened when I went for that second interview at the college.
I walked into the interview at the college and noticed the same interviewer from the year before.
I was asked the same question about a challenge that I’ve had to deal with.
This time I chose to speak about my initial difficulty in dealing with my mum’s physical disability.
Instead of trying to show myself in a good light I was honest.
I talked about my impatience.
I talked about not looking forward to taking my my mum shopping.
I talked about my frustration and resentment.
I explained how I realised how unhappy my mum
looked when I would leave her.
How I saw in her face that she was being an inconvenience to me.
I don’t know where it came from but I realised that if my mum
wasn’t here that I would want to have those times.
So instead of getting frustrated because my mum moved slowly …
I saw it as spending more quality time with her.
I started to make it fun. It started to feel like fun.
It was a better feeling to leave my mum knowing that she’d enjoyed our time together rather than feeling like a burden.
One day in between classes the lecturer who interviewed told me
how happy he was that I had decided to return the following year and had not given up.
There was a third thing I was unhappy about.
In 1995 my partner told me that she didn’t want to be with me anymore.
I can remember feeling upset on the outside but when I think back to that time I think I was also relieved.
After the initial split she wanted us to get back together again.
I said no. It took some strength not to go back.
This all blew up a few months before the completion of my course.
I remember having an assignment that needed to be in by a particular deadline.
I also had an open book law exam.
It was a difficult break up.
I went to my tutor and asked for an extension on my final dissertation.
He sat me down.
He looked straight at me and said that he was happy to give me an extension.
He also said that he didn’t think giving me an extension would help me.
I would probably still find myself struggling to meet the extended deadline.
It would also impact on other tasks I had to do.
I’d still feel pressure.
I made the decision to get my assignment in by the original deadline.
I did it.
I also got through the open book exam.
I found my soulmate in that same year we’re still together 22 years later.
I share this story because we all have turning points in our lives.
The decisions we make then dictates what happens in our future.
Of course I’ve had other turning points in my life.
I guess a significant one is my current entrepreneurial journey.
I guess I’m always looking for more.
I felt that I was capable of much more.
I like to set goals.
I have a strong desire to help people.
When I take action I take massive action.
In the past I ran away from my problems
but now …
I use turning points in my life to make critical decisions.
These days I seek out problems.
In fact I would find life very boring if I didn’t have problems that needed solving.
If you are at a turning point in your life right now I want you
know that there are things within your control.
It is up to you to take responsibility for your life.
You have choices.
You just have to make a decision.
What is something you have control over?
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