At 1.36am this morning, after much thrashing about and mind acrobatics, I decided all the ideas jumping around just needed to get out! So I grabbed my journal, slippers and hoodie - which I later discovered was inside-out - and off to the kitchen I went. Sadly our kettle is so loud I didn't risk making a cuppa which in hindsight, may have been a bad call as a good solid brew may have helped formulate my thoughts into something more blog-worthy in the clear light of day!
However, here I am, compelled to get something down that resembles the importance of what was racing through my mind in the wee hours.
Cars, Community and Coffee. At first glance not a lot in common but the link in my mind is clear so bear with.
Last year my incredible husband surprised me, literally, with a brand new car. The whole nine yards, lured me along to the dealership under the false pretense of "just looking" then "voila"! The salesman dramatically revealed, from under a very shiny cover, a brand spanking new set of wheels with my name on the window and a rather large bouquet on the front seat!
How did I feel? Well, clearly overwhelmed, close to tears, beaming with gratitude and actually the best part was seeing the joy on "hubby of the year's" face as he knew he'd nailed it.
Now, turn back the clock 18 years and ponder this.
Young single mum, two little girls, tiny flat, week to week existence, working two jobs, no family close by, studying full time for a degree and trying to pretend I was like my kid-free friends. In all honesty it was an incredibly tough, lonely time and sheer determination, the support of a few very special friends, amazing children, a lot of coffee, muesli and tears got me through. Neither myself or my dear wee girls have come through unscathed but it has shaped my life and theirs and regrets are pointless unless we learn from them.
Why is this important? Reflection on where we've come from - always a good thing. Gratitude for where we are now - most definitely. Wisdom or life lessons to share with others - hopefully!
These days my life is breezy - I have the most amazing loving husband (second time around I got it right), I love running my small business from home, I'm so much more available for our 9yr old son, I can go paddle boarding whenever the surfs up, have coffee with friends, look after my granddaughter whenever I'm needed and there's certainly no colour-coded daily schedule on the fridge! I love being the home-maker, the one who keeps the household ticking along nicely, even though I frequently "drop the ball" and forget to come in from the garden in time for timely dinners. Read into this what you will but "hangry" comes to mind for all involved!
Why is it then that my darling hubby kept hearing me making excuses for my very happy and comfortable life and saying "don't worry we haven't won lotto"! It seems I felt guilty about the new car, my spare time and having the ability, both financially and emotionally, to enjoy my life and all of it's abundance.
I've figured out why. I am relatively new to the amazing community we live in and although I feel like I shouldn't give a toss what others think because I'm a grown up now and let's face it, I'm the 'old mum' at the school gate these days, I guess, like many of us, I fear judgement. There's a few old chestnuts that come to mind - "life of Ryley" "silverspoon" "she doesn't even work" - you get the drift.
This serves no positive purpose and so the wisdom I want to impart is this: EVERYONE HAS A STORY. As the old saying goes, "never judge a book by it's cover".
Recently I have been privileged to attend a couple of speaking engagements in our amazing little rural community where some incredibly inspiring women have told their stories. What I have come to appreciate is that these women weren't born amazing, they didn't suddenly acquire great careers or the ability to juggle family, business and the challenges of personal life. Past struggles, aspirations, the influence of others, encouragement at just the right time and the decisions they've made along the way have shaped them and that is true for all of us.
So now, when I go out in my new car, in our amazing community to enjoy a leisurely coffee, I take a little time to consider that everyone has a story. What makes a community great is the people in it and perhaps if we take the time to "read" a few of the stories the world will be a better place.