February 29th was my Nanna’s birthday. If she were still alive she’d be approaching 104. She was born in the west of Ireland at the time of the Easter rising. She grew up in poverty and recalled the guilt she felt after sneaking in to a neighbour’s home and stealing a potato from the fire because she was so hungry. An old photo of her at school shows many of the girls without shoes and although she loved school she had to leave age 14, as this was a luxury the family couldn’t afford. At the age of 20 she left her home in Ireland to come to England to look for work so that she could send money back home.
What do I remember her by?
Her love: she had 5 children and 13 grandchildren but each of us felt that we were special.
As Nanna got older she lamented that people were so busy and no longer made time for each other. Nanna was never bitter about the opportunities she didn’t have but she lived her life to the full.
Now look two generations later at the choices we have: the idea that I could create a business online, reach people everyday via social media, no matter where they are in the world; write a blog post that reaches 100s of people; coach and teach using video conferencing. The idea that I can go into a pub and teach local women, go into an investment bank in the city and coach women on confidence; speak at the Professional Speakers Association; teach women to create vision boards and plan retreats; create a product and sell it in a local shop.
The opportunities we have available to us are phenomenal. We don’t have to stay stuck in jobs/ relationships or situations that make us feel stuck.
But that could have been my choice. Only a year ago I was still in teaching. On paper it was perfect: part time and term time; a high achieving school with amazing staff and students, 10 minutes away from my children’s school and I didn’t have to work in school holidays. Amazing right?
But I felt trapped. It met 2 of my top three values: Love and Contribution. Honestly there’s plenty of opportunity for those in a school. But my one of my top values: growth was not being met. I need to learn and grow.
I often refer to book The Five Regrets of The Dying – I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Being a teacher was what others expected of me- I loved my subject English; I loved teenagers and I know that’s not for everyone! And I loved teaching.
I could have chosen to stay stuck. I could have chosen to play small.
Yes leaving teaching and starting a business was scary but even scarier is looking forward and knowing that if I didn’t find the courage I would feel regret.
My nanna left her home at age 20 to move to a new country and find work. We’re not doing this alone: we stand on the shoulders of our grandmothers.
What could you do?