Is Our Future Mapped Out?
I am unwritten
Can’t read my mind
I’m just beginning
The pen’s in my hand
Some say our lives are written for us even before we are born. I always knew I was going to be a teacher. Some of my earliest memories are of my mum and grandad sitting on chairs alongside my dolls and teddy bears with me standing at the front of the make-believe classroom, chalk in hand ‘writing’ on the black board. I could have only been about three at the time.
I was keen to learn. I don’t remember learning to read but I don’t remember a time when I couldn’t read either. When I was little, we didn’t have a television. Evenings were spent reading and being read to. I just seemed to learn by osmosis. Same with numbers. If my mum wasn’t reading with me, my dad was playing with numbers.
When I eventually started school, I was reading fluently, very numerate and very bossy. My poor reception class teacher. I can still see her now. She must have been tearing her hair out. 29 crying infants and one over-confident little madam who took one look at the Janet and John book in the desk and asked for something ‘with a proper story please’. By Christmas I was bored and decided I was going to teach the other children to read. I used to go round the desks and listen to the ‘babies’ read. Precocious wasn’t in it.
Throughout my school days, I worked hard and played hard, becoming not only a top scholar but also, because I was exceptionally tall and strong, becoming a top-class athlete, eventually winning international colours for swimming. Everyone thought when I was choosing my college course, I would do PE and become a games teacher, but I’ve never done what was expected of me, and went to university to study Geochemistry. On graduation I was expected to go into industry but my desire to teach was still as strong, so I gave up the chance of a PhD and did a PGCE and eventually taught physics, chemistry, maths and geology in an all-boys’ school.
Transitioning – early days
Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate
The words you could not find
Fast forward a few years and I got the chance to do a PhD after completing a degree in psychology. Six years before this I had been diagnosed with MS. I worked out a physical programme – taking up swimming and running again and learning how to shoot – eventually becoming a national modern triathlon top three in my age group. The neurologist warned me I might lose mental as well as physical capacity hence doing the degree. I was bitten by the study bug and had to complete the PhD.
Not long after getting my PhD, I got divorced. I started work at a very prestigious university. Even whilst doing the PhD, I was asked to run an undergraduate module. Whilst I was writing up the PhD, I was head-hunted by another faculty to take over the psychology element of a speech therapy degree. A new area for me but I rewrote the whole curriculum over the summer and very quickly, senior managers in the university started noticing me. Over the next three years I got rapid promotion to senior manager, and now felt completely out of my depth. I’d never had any management experience previously but as I’d just won a big monetary award for my teaching, I used part of this to pay for me to complete an MBA and some to pay for me to complete a diploma in personal and professional coaching. I had already decided I was not going to manage but to become a leader, leading by example, using a coaching methodology rather than a more traditional management style. I was tearing up the book but who knew what I was going to write on the pages!
Making the transition to coaching
I break tradition
Sometimes my tries are outside the lines
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes
But I can’t live that way.
Over the next several years, my coaching became my new passion, but I needed the security of a regular paycheck to live comfortably, not even in luxury. I stayed in a management role for a few years but I really missed the contact with the students and eventually went back into the classroom. I was much more able to coach in tutorial groups and my students thrived on it.
Eventually I started planning my retirement. I knew I couldn’t sit back doing nothing. I knew I could be a great coach but felt I needed a narrower niche. I retrained in holistic health and wellness but even that seemed too broad. Eventually I found my niche, or rather speciality, in divorce coaching, having done yet another course as a certified divorce coach. Of course, every cloud has a silver lining, and why shouldn’t I combine my life experience of rebuilding my life after divorce with coaching so that I could help women, especially those like me facing divorce after 50, to get a fresh start.
Writing your story – rewriting your life
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No-one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No-one else can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wise open
Today is where your book begins
Earlier this year, I took the plunge, and retired from academia. I am now a full-time, and very busy, coach. I should have had more faith in the system. I’ve still got a lot of things I want to achieve with coaching. I’m writing a series of books on topics related to marriage and divorce, I’ve got the material written for three on-line courses, I just need to make the time to record them! But most exciting, I’m working with two other coaches and we are opening The Divorce Coaching Academy in the autumn. I always knew I was born to teach. Coaching and teaching are not that different. But how rewarding it going to be to see new graduates going out into the world helping far more people than I could ever help on my own.
Reach for the stars. Follow your dreams. Have confidence to make the transition into coaching if that is where your dreams lie. Don’t wait nearly 70 years like I did!!