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Beacons of Light

Words from a very wise woman who recently said to me ‘ save something for yourself’.  She heard it from her daughter.  So whilst I wear my heart on my sleeve, I’m going to try to heed some of her advice.  In the meantime, the spotlight is angled towards some of the women who have lit up my life.

Amazing women; I’ve been surrounded since an early age by inspirational and formidable women.  Take my Mum for example, for years she was always Mrs Evans to all of my friends (I still think she is referred to in the same respectful way), Class 1 football referee, runner of marathons, arguer of lost causes, carer and nurse extraordinaire.  My eldest younger sister who battled through her degree final exams apparently on a drip, Iron Man finisher and demolisher of anything that seemingly stands in her way, especially with her black belt in Thai Boxing and downright stubbornness.  My youngest younger sister, who in spite of everything just seems to put a positive spin on things, who has been hit (by life) and still keeps moving forwards (the Rocky award goes to her; I’ve been on the end of one of her ‘soft’ punches), she’s even taken up ‘bloody’ pigeon racing and is taking to it, like, well, a duck to water?  My Grandma who endured plenty but was still one of the most giving women I’ve ever known and whose door was always open.  Where is this all going you might wonder?

The bravest woman I know is my ex who after putting up with all my crap for years finally kicked me out and gave us and our children a new lease of life.  It was brave and I’m glad she found the courage to do it.  She works incredibly hard, is exceptionally well organised and is dead straight.  An amazing woman.  There, I’ve said it.  Wasn’t that hard.

Equally I’ve been positively affected, moulded and manipulated by some amazing women I’ve had the absolute pleasure of working with and calling my friends over the years; Trev and Debs who both made the daft journey to come and see me cross the finish line back in May (I thank you both, for being there for me in the past when I perhaps didn’t deserve it and for remaining my friend now that I do), Mrs Purdew (Champneys Health Farm) is so street smart and an incredible business woman but also an inspirational person and leader, Lynette Reid at Springs Hydro who used to always look out for me (or so it felt), Sherree Hamblin who was incredibly supportive of me at Ashdown Park, Hayley Rand who was relentless in her energy and enthusiasm at Eastwell Manor, Carolyn Henderson at Warren House who never appeared to compromise on standards, Nikki Spink who put up with me for four years at both Cringletie and The Roxburghe (although I will never fathom why) and, of course there are more besides, some whose names I choose not to mention but I hope they know I respect them, even though I perhaps did not say or do anything for them to realise how important they are.  Our generation also had the like of Dame Margaret Thatcher; you don’t have to like her policies or politics but surely (and I appreciate that some might dislike me for saying this) you must admire her determination and lack of compromise, proud to stand for what she believed in?  What about those women who have had their lives blighted by abuse, discrimination, health or simple lack of opportunities who just resolutely deal with life and quietly and consistently are the ‘rocks’ for those around them.  Take Rachael Bland for instance who is facing up to mortality in the most honest, frank, compassionate and motherly way; she’s committed to dying but not before she achieves the task of passing on a mother’s advice to her very young son.  To me these women along with many others are beacons of light.  I admire and respect them even though I may well be a misogynistic dinosaur who by simply writing this has become inadvertently un-PC.

Some thirty or forty years ago I remember waiting up, to watch the Two Ronnies (was it a Friday or Saturday night) and this was first aired, ‘The Worm that Turned‘ when in the year 2012 women were in power.  From my perspective, I think more women should have achieved parity with men and should be ‘in power’ (but you can leave me out wearing a dress or manscara).

It has been said that everyone has a book inside them.  Now, I’m not sure about that, but what I am absolutely convinced of, is that each and every person has a spark inside them, a little glowing ember that can burn as bright as magnesium and they ought to be passionately proud of.  Equally, everyone has a voice, even though we all seem to use them more and more, especially with the advent of social media and blogs (like this).  For years I’ve wanted to do something that would stand out, to achieve the memorable, perhaps write a book and be remembered, perhaps accomplish an indelible record, or reach the pinnacle in my profession, in essence to be successful, in other people’s eyes.  But, in the meantime I’ve been too busy comparing myself to everyone else’s success and achievements to recognise that in sky full of lights, why would mine burn any brighter than another?

When I was a kid and ran away from home (who knew where I was going, crazy little teenager) after an argument with Mum, Dad, both, or even my sister, I occasionally used to run to the woods nearby.  I loved running under the light speckled canopy with dapples of sunlight on the forest floor beneath my feet.  I used to love running up the hills during PE cross country with either Phil Manning or John Parry (our teachers at William Allitt) and then passing them occasionally (yeah right, every time). I remember a photo taken of me in a Bug Bunny T-shirt running in a Burton-upon-Trent 10 mile race (aged about 17 taken by Mr Mitchell, Ian’s Dad) and there is a look of delight on my face, probably because I think I posted my fastest ever ten miles in 61 minutes or so.  Thirty years on, I’ve fallen in love with running once more, I’m not measuring distances, just getting out there and feeling it.  If I feel comfortable, I’ll run until I want to go home, if I want to plod, I plod, if I want to push myself, I push but there’s a feeling of happiness in my running at present much the same as those teenage years.  Next May will come around soon, let’s hope this enthusiasm remains.  I’m trying not to judge myself at present or place any expectations but for years I’ve always looked at myself from outside.  How might others judge me, how might I be perceived, what they are thinking?  Did I sound okay, did what I say make sense, more latterly do they believe me?  Always a bit of a dreamer, an old romantic at heart.  I know I can still achieve many things to be proud of but it is highly unlikely I’ll become the successful household name I youthfully imagined (the professional footballer, inspirational teacher or enigmatic author).  Yet, I feel somewhat unshackled by the past, my present truth a reprieve from judgement, perhaps I’m the worm who’s turning?  Or perhaps its simply a different perspective?

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