Hello! I’m coming in with an extra post following my Uncles Jack’s funeral last week, because I wrote a poem for it and so many people have wanted to read it I thought I’d pop it on here, see further below.
I also had a really interesting week as I finally got to record a podcast interview with my lovely friend Lesley Ellis who will soon be launching ‘The Midlife Manifesto’ podcast on the 3rd of April! Lesley is so open and engaging, I know her podcast is going to be great and I can’t wait to hear the stories of the other guests she’s interviewed!
We had a fascinating chat, all about not letting any traumatic events in you past define you. This is something I’m really passionate about, having had an interesting childhood to say the least, further challenges in my early twenties and thirties and of course the latest spanner in the works – getting through Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and chemo! – no spoiler alerts though, you’ll have to wait for the podcast!
It did also get me thinking though about why some people react differently to these things. I avoided talking about my past script because I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or to feel like a victim of my circumstances.
My view was simply; I’m not going to let this ruin my life, I was ambitious and just wanted to get over it all and on with life!
I also think that, the family around you have a big impact on you growing up in terms of resilience. For example, my Mum is a very strong woman, having had some very tough times in her life and is part of the ‘keep calm and carry on’ generation. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly, doesn’t create a fuss, has a good sense of humour and keeps herself busy – all characteristics I think I have inherited.
When she was a single parent to me from the age of 12, she worked hard, taking on 2 jobs and the focus was on keeping her head above water financially and looking after us both.
She installed her work ethic into me and from age 13 I had a washing up job in a pub, and then a babysitting job at 14, looking after 3 children on our street including an 8-month-old! – I can’t believe they let me! I then moved on to working in a fish and chip shop but that didn’t last long as I kept burning myself! Next came waitressing jobs and bar work – I’ve worked in many pubs in Huddersfield, before setting off for Uni in Plymouth of all places and I still got myself a bar job down there too to top up the measly grant I got!
Got to love a mortar board and gown! Receiving my BA Hons degree in Public Relations and Language studies.
My Mum continues to be a big influence in my life, and she’s had a particularly testing year with both myself and her brother, having forms of cancer. Both my Uncle and my Aunty (her sister who passed away 10 years ago very suddenly) were also very strong, larger than life characters, full of fun and mischief.
It was unfortunately a very sad ending for my uncle who deteriorated quickly after a fall but up until that point he was fully with it, asking about the children, how I was doing, still cracking jokes and listening to his beloved football team, Huddersfield Town’s matches on the radio, all despite being in horrendous pain for a long time. He is my role model to get to the end of this treatment, be as brave as he was, do him proud and once again crack on with life.
Similarly, when my Aunty died without any previous ill health and also a close friend 4 years back who I worked with as a governor at our local school, it only served to remind me that life is too damn short to take it for granted.
I had this belief anyway, but even more so now and this is why I’m constantly encouraging people to drop the fear and just go for it on creative things they want to try because what is the worst that can happen? It really does not matter if your first go/s turn out to be a disaster, you’ll learn from any mistakes and improve, just like we did as children at school!
Life is too short to waste time thinking. ‘oh, I’d be no good at that’ or ‘I’d like to have a go but my I’m too scared to walk into that group that looks really interesting!’. Joining such groups can literally change your life, I know they have mine! I really cannot imagine not taking part in these creative groups anymore, which is why it has been so hard over the last 6 months not being allowed to go (because of potential infection) but as soon as I can get back to them I will!
And to the people who don’t think they are creative – I hear this phrase soooo many times it drives me crackers! Every human is creative, I firmly believe that, it’s just about finding what really interests you. Creativity isn’t just about art or writing or knitting, it can be so much more than that including problem solving, different ways of working, meal-planning, designing your website or logo, finding genius ways to motivate a team, writing engaging posts on social media, as well as of course the hundreds of other creative hobbies out there.
Creative skills are now in demand, known as the softer skills, work-places are seeking more individuals who are in touch with their creative side to balance out teams, businesses are starting to realise its importance.
Plus, by now if you’re a regular reader, you know that taking up a creative interest is fundamentally good for your well-being and if you don’t believe me, check out an older post here that I wrote on this.
Yes you need to have a positive mindset and a bit of courage to just start, so if this is something you struggle with, talk to friends who you know will offer encouragement and support you, or better still, ask around and see what creative hobbies they do and maybe join them for a bit of Dutch courage?
The best piece of advice I was given when starting out. Instead of trying to create a master-piece. this gave me permission to just play!
Strong self-belief will come later but at the beginning you just need to find something that you really enjoy, something that will keep you returning to it until it becomes a habit (a good one!) that you can’t do without. If the fear is holding you back, have a read of this older post too to help you.
Creativity can boost confidence and build resilience in all areas of life which can have the knock-on effect of transforming your mindset. If you create something that you are proud of, when you initially feared the result, then just maybe you can take on other challenging areas of your life too?
So, on that note, below is my poem for my uncle that took me a while to do to get it right; convey the great man that he was, add in some in-jokes that the family would get and also hit the right note of hope as there were children at the funeral.
I didn’t want it to be gloomy and too sad as that was simply not him. My mum did my uncle and the poem proud, overcoming her emotions and reading it out with pride to over a hundred people who came to pay their respects, proving what a well-loved and highly thought of man he was.
Until next time…
Juliet, The Funny Onion (as my uncle used to call me) x
What we hope for you now…
It’s a complicated journey death
As you take your last breath
And fly high to the stars
We crumble and cry and try to deny
That you are truly leaving us…
You, are welcomed with warm embrace
By treasured relations gone before
Together, protected, a unit once more
There, gardens are filled with spring flowers
And the sun, shines, super-powered
By the love from below
There is no darkness here
No endless pain or fear
Just a world where dreams come true
Town score plenty of goals, just for you…
Neat, clipped greens, wait for you to bowl
No tin knees now, you’re on a roll
Children chase and gather at your feet
A real-life hero, they’ve come to meet
Of course, he misses the ones he’s left behind
But then he searches and finds
He can still keep an eye, through his view from the sky
And he’s listening too,
So still have a chat…he’d really like that
And for us that are left, feeling bereft
With a hole in our soul and missing his smile
Fond memories will stay with us forever
Of how brave and funny and kind he was then
The king of our family,
A legend amongst men…