Have I always been ambitious – I don’t actually think so.
Thinking back to those teenage and early twenties years I was happy to be working but not overly ambitious.
Buying my first flat made me work even harder but not ambitious per se.
I did three jobs to keep the flat going and there was an added bonus in all the new friends I made in those weekend and evening jobs.
When Ian and I bought the land we built our house on 29 years ago it took every penny we had to do so! You couldn’t get a mortgage for a piece of land so we had to pay for it ourselves. It was a struggle to even get a mortgage to build the house as that wasn’t too common then. Our families thought we were mad to take on this challenge but we knew what we wanted. Ambitious? Perhaps. Stubborn, yes!
29 years later and I am proud of all we have jointly and separately achieved. First up, of our marriage – we have worked hard at our partnership and tried not to take each other for granted. We have a lovely house (that same house we built 29 years ago) which we have added to as the years went by.
We have family we love dearly and care for as best we can.
And now we have 2 charities. Perhaps middle age brought out the most ambitious part of me. I certainly now have a very strong desire to succeed but perhaps it is because I can be ambitious on behalf of others rather than myself. It’s the same with courage – I would never have labeled myself courageous and by most standards I most certainly am not but I have pushed myself hard out of my personal comfort zone to do physical challenges I wouldn’t contemplate for myself. I am terrified of heights yet immediately said yes when offered £14,000 for the charity to do a zipslide over the Clyde a few years ago. Didn’t hesitate. (well, I DID hesitate when I was on the crane basket and told to get off!!) I have trekked in the Sahara and the Himalayas and canoed in the Forth (I hate water too).
What for? Because there are different layers and levels of courage. Because I see the true courage that comes from facing a diagnosis of cancer head on whatever your age. The children and young people I know and have known over the past 7 years have inspired me beyond measure with their courage and achievements. As have their parents. The tales of their children’s fights with cancer (and, believe me, in many cases it is a really tough and long fight) would make many of us blench with fear. They put their heads down and just battle. Sometimes they win and sadly sometimes they don’t.
For those that win the fight it’s a long journey back to ‘normality’. And for those parents who have lost a child there is never ‘normal’ again. And then they need to find a different kind of courage to keep going.
I keep a gratitude journal these days – every single day I say thanks for all I have – for being able to walk, talk, pop in the car or hop on a bike whenever I want and do what I do. I say thanks too for the people in my life from my husband and family to friends and wonderful supporters of our charities.
I think often of individuals who inspire me like Melanie Reid, a Times journalist who, after a riding accident, is left with a spinal injury and who strives daily to get more mobility in her limbs. She regularly talks of things we take for granted (most things actually!) and she is right. Until something happens to take it away, we do take so much for granted. I think too of women like Olivia Giles, whose achievements were, quite rightly, this year recognised in the New Year’s Honours List. A quadruple amputee after contracting meningitis Olivia lives a fuller life than many and runs her own charity helping others who have lost limbs.
I remember Jane Tomlinson, a quite remarkable woman who fought cancer for several years and yet at the same time raised over £1m for UK cancer charities and ran marathons, took part in ironman challenges and cycled across the USA. Ambitious, courageous and what a huge number of achievements!
My very full life is filled with gratitude and inspiration.
May and June have been the busiest months I have ever experienced – the level of support shown to us is tremendous. I have worked day and evening for weeks – doing admin, attending events, organising events. I absolutely love what I do and am so fortunate to have a huge support team. Which includes this 3rdi network.
Let me leave you with a quote from Oprah Winfrey
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”