For years the same question haunted me, ‘Who the heck am I and why am I here?’
So decade or so ago, with naïve, bravado, I began a series of serious self-development endeavours, determined to overcome self-doubts and discover the authentic ME – whoever I was, warts and all.
Which led me to joining a year-long transformational workshop that could only be described as boot camp for the soul. Ironically the marrow of the work I chose, posed an intriguing question, ‘what do you love?’ ‘What do you love’ was the starting point and compass throughout the experience of change.
My ego threw up an imposing and confusing maze of things I loved — family, friends, creativity, theatre, literature, cooking, history, cold chicken and bubble and squeak, flowers, music, romance, knitting, patchwork, watching netball, friends, puppies, beach walks, public speaking, travel, lunches out, organising anything, movies, ABC radio/TV, writing, beach walks, coffee, George Clooney and new clothes. It seemed I loved everything ….
I was in a hurry for answers as time was a-marching but I found this quote that spurred me on…..‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ George Eliot, ‘Mill on the Floss.’
I found transformational work capricious, one minute I was rutted and gutted and the next it cleared as though it never was. Gradually I began to understand that while I broadly embraced so many aspects of life, the vital and intrinsic ME is at home when I am — communicating either through the written word or public speaking as a means to serve and connect with the rest of humanity.
The first glimpse of this love and service of communicating to others happened well over seventy years ago. My family lost everything in the London blitz in World War 11. Homeless, my mother, sister and I moved drifted around England wherever a billet or bed could be found.
My constant companion was my imaginary friend Sonny; I carried him around in my father’s battered attaché case. It was an earnest relationship — I shared secrets with him that I would never tell another soul. I remember – in between air raids — telling Sonny ‘One day I will write a book and I will talk about it and people will listen to me.’
It was a momentary whim that never really saw the light of day, mugged continually by an impoverished sense of worth embedded by the wartime loss of education and deprivation.
Instead everyday life – marriage, children, bereavement, single motherhood, sickness, a new relationship, family growth and building a business in midlife with no experience and no capital — became my world.
But I was always scribbling short stories and in my working life getting my food and travel articles published by newspapers and magazines. I was contributing to a writing group and doing creative writing courses. This coupled with an eighteen-year membership of a speaking club, meant I was incubating my dream.
My writing was a hobby. Communication to a wider audience through my public speaking was a hobby. Hobbies – yes simply hobbies but somehow I never strayed — the more I wrote and communicated the more I began to hunger to be true to myself. I wrote more, communicated more to wider audiences. The more action I took the more realistic the dream became.
Today I am centred, I find joy and fulfilment in expressing myself through the written and spoken word.
I am living testament to ‘it is never too late to be what you might have been,’ I have written two non-fiction books and one fiction. And I talk. On cruise ships. I lecture on history, culture, travel, and writing enriching guests’ travels.
Oh how I love it.
Who’d have thought that little girl’s fantasy of achieving something beyond her wildest expectations could happen?
It just goes to show that you should never ever — not ever give up on your dreams.