grandmothers

Are you stuck in your story? Ways to get out of the drama …


What's the drama of your story?

What’s the drama of your story?

They fuck you up your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.

I recall reading that poem (along with another two verses) during the decade of my thirties. It was part of my ‘scrapbook’ of inspirational quotes, sayings and articles which served to motivate me as I did my best to bring my two daughters up ‘successfully’ as a single parent, while shift working as a midwife. Looking back, I’m not sure at the time I REALLY appreciated the meaning of the words. I did, however, sense their importance and hoped I wasn’t filling my children with too many of my ‘faults’!

Those children are now inspiring and beautiful adults. One of them is a parent themselves (meaning I’m a grand-mother), whilst my parents are amazingly still alive at 93 and 80 years old. I’m very aware of how blessed I am to be in a position to spend time with these special people, and continue to explore some of the limiting beliefs I’ve formed over the years.

One of these, from my perception of my father’s authoritarian position, is ‘I’m powerless’. Now he’s the one who’s relatively powerless, and my life has brought me to a place where I can support him to retain some control over his finances and destiny.  Ironically, my younger sister and I have recently signed a lasting power of attorney for if/when he becomes incapable of financial decision making.

Identifying life’s gifts amongst the drama

As my relationships strengthen and grow, with my parents, children and grandchildren, I find myself reflecting on the sentiment expressed by Mr Larkin in a much deeper way. However, I’m also recognising the importance of identifying all the gifts my parents gave me – which are varied and numerous.

Returning from NZ the first time, in 2002, I vividly recall my sudden realisation that all the striving, proving and working so hard since leaving my second husband, had been to show my dad that I was ‘good enough’ to replace the son he’d always wanted, that I wasn’t a ‘failure’ because I was born a female. I could see how much I’d missed out on by trying to be everything to everybody, thinking that if I was ‘the best’ midwife, was endlessly promoted, earned more and more money, that he’d love me. Of course this wasn’t his ‘fault’, of course he loved me, it was merely the drama I’d concocted for myself.

Since March 2011, during my ‘Holistic Life Coaching’ training and subsequently with every client I’ve had the pleasure of coaching, my story and theirs are heard and reflected upon.

It’s such a huge honour to listen to people, and realise how immensley powerful these stories have become, and what meanings we’ve given to them.

From birthing babies, and empowering midwives and women along the way, I’ve changed direction to support people to birth a new life for themselves; one that serves and nourishes them.

Now in my fifties, I find myself reflecting with my three sisters too; discovering what meaning they’ve given and carried along from their childhood, and why.

It’s fascinating!

Because when we break it down, however ‘traumatic’ and/or ‘dramatic’ we each believe our individual story to be, there will always be someone else who feels they’ve ‘had it worse’ than you.

And then, when you look at the stories your parents could have manifested into their lives which shaped and limited them, you can begin to look on the poem in yet another way.

If you can ‘get over your self’ even more, and focus on what you gained from your childhood, however ‘bad’ it may have seemed, you can enable those to strengthen and lessen the power of the drama.

Getting out of the drama

It’s not about making excuses, or feeling sorry for your parents, it’s about:

  • Standing in their shoes to feel how it would have been to walk their respective journeys
  • Accepting that we’re all human and therefore prone to fallibility
  • Realising we do the best we can, with what we know, and which resources are available to us at that time and place
  • Allowing ourselves to let go of the need to ‘hang on tight’ to staying stuck in the drama of our story
  • Reflecting on why we believed what we did and how it helped us to feel ‘safe’ at the time
  • Seeing all the amazing love and gifts your parents DID give you
  • Loving your self first and foremost, then finding it in your heart to love your parents in spite of what you feel they did or didn’t do for or to you
  • Making the most of this life – because for things to change in the ways you desire, YOU need to change

Choosing to change

We may not realise it, but we all have a choice to change.

We may believe our happiness is dependant on others, and once they change, our lives will be different and/or better.

But they have their own stories to work through and let go of.

We are responsible for getting out of our own dramas.

Alternatively we may choose to remain there, acting out the victim role and blaming everyone and everything else for whatever happened and continues to happen ‘to’ us.

Looking back, what have you made the story of your life mean to you? And importantly, what will you choose for the next chapter – and why?

Wise woman grandmother power


Between 7th and 14th May, hundreds of bloggers around the world will be writing about ‘Grandmother Power‘. This opportunity resonated with me following my talk at U3A (University of the Third Age) in Gisborne, New Zealand in March, where I was inspired by a room full of wise women (admittedly it included men!) over 60 years of age.

Preparing for my talk, I read Ram Dass’s book ‘Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying’, and during the presentation I read out the following poem from this:

If I could live my life again.
Next time, I would try to make more mistakes.
I would not try to be so perfect, I would relax more.
I would be sillier than I have been.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would be less fastidious.
Accept more risks, I would take more trips,
Contemplate more evenings,
Climb more mountains, and swim more rivers…
I would go to more places where I have not been,
Eat more ice cream and fewer beans.
I would have more real problems and less imaginary ones.
I was one of those people who lived
sensibly and meticulously every minute of their life.
Of course I have had moments of happiness.
But if I could go back in time, I would try to
have good moments only,
and not waste precious time.
I was someone who never went
anywhere without a thermometer, a
hot water bag, an umbrella
and a parachute. If I could live again,
I would travel more frivolously.
If I could live again, I would begin
to walk barefoot at the beginning of the spring
and I would continue to do so until the end of autumn.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds,
I would contemplate more evenings and I would play
with more children.
If I could have another life ahead.
But I am 85 years old you see, and I know that I am dying.

Never too late

I wasn’t sure if anyone was taking on board what I’d been saying about it never being too late to let go of limiting beliefs and find more ‘life’ in your life, so was touched shortly after reading the poem when a small, effusively smiling lady in the front row said “I have that poem printed out and on my fridge, and look at it every day.”

How many of us can say we’re truly embracing allowing ourselves to ‘make mistakes’, rather than taking life too seriously and working so hard we don’t have time to be silly? Do you really have to wait until you’re retired?

My grandmothers both died many years ago, in their eighties. I was only 12 years old when my paternal grandmother died (her husband had died when my father was just 13 years old), and she’d been senile for many years before that. My maternal grandmother I recall being quite eccentric, with so many regrets about things she hadn’t been able or ‘allowed’ to do during her long marriage to my grandfather due to his ‘fear’ of most things in life.

Since 2011 I’ve become a grandmother myself – how amazing! I don’t FEEL like a grandmother. When I was growing up, the word conjured up images of sitting in a rocking chair with my knitting. Instead I’ve just moved hemispheres, am in the midst of changing careers, and living very joyfully (with a lot less money but a lot more time) on a narrowboat with my husband!

Grandmothers, I feel, need to be revered and respected as wise women – we’ve had so many experiences in our lives, had to be and do so much to and for so many people, and through this learnt an abundance of useful lessons.

I recall thinking my grandmothers were so old, and couldn’t imagine anything they had to say was relevant to me. Looking back, I’d love to go back in time and talk to them, now I’m open to hearing their wisdom and words, and learn more about their worlds, the experiences they had, and what made them who they were. I wonder what they would make of the technological age that we’re living in?

What does it mean to be ‘wise’? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as ‘…having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgement’.

I hope I’m able to live a long and healthy life, and be seen as a wise woman to my grandchildren, supporting them to embrace the magic all around us in the world, instead of getting drawn into the dramas of the media and politics, and definitely to not be too ‘careful’ but to take risks, have adventures and truly live.

And I hope that as a grandmother, they’ll see me as a role model rather than someone who should be sitting in a rocking chair knitting!