Wednesday, 22 May 2013

No ordinary woman!

"In my life, I've lived, I've loved, I've lost, I've missed, I've hurt, I've trusted, I've made mistakes, but most of all, I've learned".
I came across this quote  on Twitter, my new source of inspiration it seems. There was no indication of who said it but it was obviously someone who's living or has lived, a very full life. I know for sure that I can relate to 7 of these actions and I'm hopeful that I have and still am 'learning'. 

Perhaps the fact that it wasn't attributed to anyone in particular means that it was written or spoken by an 'ordinary' person. someone just like me who, to date at least, has never done anything exceptional and is only 'famous' to family and friends.

I've recently finished reading 'Diary of an Ordinary Woman', by Margaret Forster. It was recommended to me by a friend who has watched me transform from a 'couch potato' thinking that at 50+ with health problems that all I was capable of was 'taking things easy', watching TV, reading, socialising and participating in a Movement and Mobility class, where the average age was 60, into someone who doesn't even have time to watch her favourite TV shows! Oh and who does Zumba and Street Dance, (at least I turn up each week and have a go).

"Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people".

Once upon a time I might have read this and dismissed it as pretentious tosh, something that didn't have any bearing on my life. Reading Margaret Forster's book made me see that this can be true. On the face of it the plot of a book based on the diary of a women from being a teenager until she passed away in her 80's, doesn't seem like one that would grab me. I'm a Lee Child, John Grisham James Patterson type of girl. But from the moment I opened the book and started to read, I was gripped.

The character in the book reminded me of myself as a teenager. She complained at having to look after her younger siblings, something I could certainly relate too, being the eldest of 5 children. She voiced the resentments that had boiled inside of me but was too afraid to acknowledge thinking that people would think of me as a terrible person for feeling this way. In fact allowing people to see that I'm not perfect has made me more friends! Everybody makes mistakes, it's how we deal and learn from them that makes the biggest difference.

During her life this 'ordinary woman' worked as a Social worker, drove an ambulance during World War Two and even worked at Bletchley Park helping to break enemy codes, a vital service in helping to win the war. Then tragedy struck and she had to step in and become 'mother' to her niece and nephew when their mother, father and elder siblings were killed during a bombing raid over London. Suddenly this woman who had resented looking after her siblings as a child was thrust into motherhood, a role she embraced with the same vigour that she attacked her other roles. Eventually she took part in the human circle that surrounded Greenham Common in 1983.

What a life for an 'ordinary woman'!

Now I haven't done anything as amazing as this woman, but I know that I have been able to help people in the past. I also know that as long as I live I want to keep on 'trying to make a difference'. Simple acts of kindness, especially to strangers, can really make a difference.

Take time to speak to the old lady that you see each day or the young mum pushing her baby in her buggy.

 Smile at the old man on the bus with the food stains on his tie.

We are all 'Jock Tamsin's bairns' as my granny would have said. Being kind costs nothing, but it could make a difference to the lonely person that you just made feel worth while.

A very special lady who was a neighbour of mine died recently and her husband thanked me for being a good neighbour. I'd be proud to have that inscribed on my tomb stone.

Just because we may not do anything worthy of winning a Nobel prize doesn't mean that we can't make a difference. It seems to me that it's the everyday actions of 'ordinary' people that keeps the world turning. If we all do whatever it is that we are good at and try to be kind to each other, imagine what an amazing place this world would be. By being the best we can be as an 'ordinary woman/man', together we could make this world a much better place to live in.


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