A story by Michael, Across the UK
What challenge does this story focus on?
Mid forties my husband and I realised we weren’t going to have our own children and we sought the adoption route. However, after three years of going through a particularly challenging and lengthy process (successful at panel) we decided to think very deeply if that was what we really wanted? After much prayer, a weekend retreat away and lots of torn up pieces of paper, we drew out creatively what we saw as our ‘dream’. It was to leave the UK and run creative holidays on foreign shores.
How has this challenge affected you?
When we faced being childless, it wasn’t the end of the world but it was hard, very hard. I was a happily married woman and had been super fit as a ballet teacher, so not something I would have imagined. The issue pertained to an infection of the fallopian tubes and I had little chance of conceiving. Adoption or IVF were the choices, I felt a deep grief for a number of years and jealousy too of others who were successful.
What has or is helping you to move forward with this challenge?
When we drew out what we wanted in our lives it was a picture of a boat, and us two on the seas with a pet dog inside the boat. To be honest it wasn’t far from the truth of what happened as we adventured over to Portugal between 2013-2017 to run creative holidays. I am an RAD ballet teacher and lecturer and my husband an engineer, but we met at art class 27 years ago and both loved visual arts. So it was our shared passion from the beginning of our marriage. What helped us was to look outside of the situation that prevented us from having what we thought we wanted, but to accept what we did have instead, the gifts and talents and how we could bestow those as best reflection and as service to others in creativity, compassion and hospitality
What have you learnt as a result of this challenge?
I have learnt both by doing (running creative holidays abroad) as my strength and enjoyment combined with my understanding of mental health (2nd year masters currently doing) that our fulfillment or flourishing comes from PERMA: positive emotion, engagement, relationship, meaning and accomplishment. It’s not a perfect answer but life lived hedonistically (money, power) doesn’t make you happy and invariably listening to your treasure, your inner voice telling you to do something you have a natural character strength in is empowering…and LOVE always, (for others and loving yourself)
How do you use this learning in your life now?
We are now back in the UK since 2017 but this was necessary due to older members of our family needing support. However, it has dawned on us most recently that we were most alive and happy living the dream or adventure in most respects and having a normal safe existence in the UK is not what makes us feel whole. However, this is to say our personal journey as we are now mid 50s and very much perhaps at that point in life where we are not wishing to pursue the same things that we did when we were younger, build a home, family etc. It didn’t work for us, be the best you can be, don’t be something you think you should be.
What positive message would you like the reader to go away with?
There are I hope many positive messages here; but in adversity when you think you want that perfect marriage, life, income, education, children, and you can’t have what you think you want, maybe there is a perfectly good reason for this. I have a faith and so my value beliefs are that we are spiritual beings and that creation and creativity is good and we are never alone. Embracing your strength or characteristic that you own will help you to self identify and remember what you want and need to be, rather than what you believe someone is telling you to be or think the world wants to see you as in order to fit in. That’s the secret…. where your treasure lies, that’s where your heart is.