I was going to have a whinge but have decided to reflect, and celebrate instead!
My life is and has been ups, downs, hard work, making changes, difficult choices and grabbing opportunities when they come along and going out to actively seek change when needed. I want to celebrate all those wonderful women out there, working hard, balancing work life family and fun, getting on with life without whinging whining and not insisting on being needy!
Let us rewind ….
At 19 I went off to London to art college. The days of free education and grants I do indeed count myself lucky to have had the time, space and opportunity to develop my creativity. I painted, draw pictures and made art. Leaving college I balanced part time youth work and care work to realise my dream of becoming an artist. As time went on and I got older the need to pay bills got greater and I found myself working more hours as residential social worker. Luckily I was offered and accepted a secondment to undertake my Social work training and I completed my MSc in Social work and Social policy.
Having a baby wasn’t in my plan. But “lucky for me” I got pregnant! Babies fill your head and take up all your time especially when juggling with keeping a roof over your head and paying the bills. Creative endeavours went out the window of our 12th floor tower block. Considering ourselves “lucky” to have a council flat but also “lucky” to be able to choose to move we left London. I “luckily” secured a reasonably well paid job.
As “luck” would have it we managed to buy a little house. Our first Christmas we were so poor paying our mortgage I remember having a £5 tree with decorations and baby boy a few gifts from the £1 shop!
During this time I was “lucky” to rediscover dance ( having gone looking for it) and indeed discovered belly dance. Having a second baby, getting sick, dad dying and marriage ending wasn’t so lucky but “lucky” for me I could cope. I was “lucky” as I got the house and I am able to work and pay the mortgage with my well paid job. I was “lucky” to be offered a class to teach, “luckily” I danced every day and was able to go find teachers across the UK to teach me.
So what a lucky girl I am!
I live with the anxiety of paying my bills every month. My financial management is to lurch from one month to the next precariously paying one bill and taking from one pot of money to pay for another. I am not on the greatest of incomes but I am “lucky” that my job pays me enough to enable me to work part time. I am “lucky” that my teaching and events organising tops up this. I am “lucky” to be a single parent with such a good job. What a lucky girl I am.
So here is the thing. I do not believe we all come from equal starting point in life. I know that I did not come from a background of poverty and even more so know how truly lucky I am to have had unconditional love and parents who instilled great values in me and taught my some basic life skills. I may not completely be “living the dream” nor indeed be a heroine or amazingly clever or brave . But like other women I have a tendency I think I shrug off my achievements , hard work and sheer tenacity in challenging times as “luck” But my life and other working women’s lives is not about luck. Let us look again –
– Going to art college- I was told I would not be good enough, there would be no money. I just kept on working at it and applied and found a way! I was petrified but left for London to follow my dream. This was not luck but fulfilling a dream that I had had since I was five years old by taking practical action
– Being a social worker and getting trained- I loved working with people and was good at it. I am a kind and good person who cares about humanity. I got given a secondment as so few folk were able to get a place at college back then and I was capable and hardworking. The course was one of the hardest challenges ever. I am not academic it was not luck that got me through but in the end getting the work done.
– Parenting. Getting pregnant and having a baby is indeed random and luck certainly is involved . Being a single parent is a lifestyle choice. I chose to bring children up on my own when I ended my marriage. Juggling my life is hard work as I chose to be financially independent. No luck involved parenting – you invest love, practical support and tasks and care and resources into little people and hopefully they grow up into nice humans who love you and others back!
– Living on my own /my money time is my own! Leaving/ ending my marriage was the hardest thing I ever did. I was broken hearted but knew that it was unhealthy and destructive relationship for me to remain in. I also knew that the bitterness and anger would affect the children. I had the courage to go it alone.
– Owning my own home. I work hard constantly hard. I have a responsible sometimes stressful and to be honest a not very nice job. It would at times over the years have been so much easier to have rented, claimed housing benefit and work less hours doing something less challenging. But home life is very important to me. The security of knowing we can stay put here as a family until I want to move is important to me again a lifestyle choice that I made and continue to make every month by paying my mortgage .
– Dancing so much- I choose to do this. I juggle money resources and time to do this. I do not decorate my house, buy fancy clothes objects etc . I choose to spend my money on dance. I work hard to develop my own dance skills so I can teach others. All my spare money and time goes on dance! I choose to do this as life is too short.
– Finding a good man. Oh am I so lucky to have found a good man? Possibly but I did go looking for him. I didn’t sit at home I went out to find a man! A story for another time!
Right I am off now – Here is hoping I am lucky this weekend can win the lottery and help out all my hardworking happy friends!