Tag Archives: challenges

How time has warped for me

I post this in tribute of my dear, yet sadly, departed mother:  Veronica Worthmann

How time has warped for me.  Two years.  Personal loss, life… work… COVID-19!

Let me backtrack a little.  At the beginning of February 2020, I made the trip from the Netherlands to South Africa with the sole purpose of visiting my 80-year-old mom.  Getting on in age, and showing the signs thereof, this was an incredibly important trip for me to make.  COVID-19 was already making headlines, but somehow, tucked away in South Africa and spending precious moments with my mom, I was sticking my head comfortably into the sand.  On the evening of the 13th of February Mom had a fall and was admitted to hospital late that night.  Diagnosis – severely broken hip.  On a couch in the visitor’s room at the hospital, I tried to make myself comfortable and did my best to “settle in” for the night.  Running through my head continually was what I considered my options for the immediate circumstances to be.  Before dawn, I returned to Mom’s bedside, she was awake. Considering that my return flight was in less than 48 hours’ time, I proposed that I delay my return home.  Her response:  “No my girl, it’s your time to go home!”.  We chatted about that for a while, but her response remained unchanged.

Later that morning I returned to my family’s home to shower, change, and pack my bags. I returned to Mom’s bedside, repeating my proposal to delay my return to the Netherlands.  She was unwavering in her response:  “My girl, I love you, but the time has come for you to go home!”.

Those are words I will never forget.  I hold onto them every single day. They comfort me.

Return home, on schedule, I did.  Within a matter of weeks lockdown was in place in the Netherlands, and progressively, the rest of the globe.  Any thoughts of return to my mom’s bedside were curtailed.

The remainder of 2020 was, for my beloved mom, full of tremendous pain and suffering.  She never did recover from her injury and subsequent surgery.  It is nothing short of tragic. She found peace in her sleep on the evening of 25 December 2020 when she gracefully did not awake the following morning.  May she rest in eternal peace!

Receiving my brother’s phone call in the early hours of that fateful morning feels like yesterday for me. It’s like time has been standing still for me, until several weeks ago.  In response to an overwhelming gut feel, one of those that force you into acting, I booked a trip back to South Africa in November 2021.  A gap in the COVID-19 travel restrictions indicated that such travel was permissible and so I seized the moment.  In my gut was the angst that this is most arguably the highest risk that I’ve ever undertaken.  Nonetheless, I undertook a whirlwind trip to South Africa where I placed extreme emphasis on spending time with immediate family only – hyper focus!

I learned a tremendous lesson … as one who has always felt “removed” from the sense of family, I learned that family, and the sense of family, is vitally important.  This trip has been healing for me in the most amazing ways, and a tremendous growth point.  The entire experience was cathartic for me.   Ralph, Jennifer & Tracy, you have no choice in being my siblings, but you have a choice in how you engage with me.  Thank you, each of you, for being such gems in how you do so.  I love each of you more than I can express. 

Family – honour them. Love them. Support them.

I love and miss you Mom x x x

Laura

Getting out of the box

For a long time I’ve had the terrible habit of putting myself, and others, into boxes.  Not physical boxes, but mental boxes, boxes that carry labels.  Oh I’m just a techie.  Or, he’s just a teller at the checkout counter.  Perhaps you have done the same at some point or another in life and can relate.  Recently I became acutely aware of this rather disappointing habit.

What happens when we put ourselves, or others, into boxes?  I have come to understand that by labelling, by putting into boxes, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to get to know and understand each person, including ourselves, as individuals.  Each of us has hopes and dreams.  I believe we all have hidden and uncovered talents.  I believe that labelling ourselves, and others, puts us at a distinct disadvantage in our interpersonal relationships.  It doesn’t matter if we are applying this to the relationship we have with ourselves, or the casual encounter we have with the person at the checkout counter.

We can take this one step further.  Have you ever had somebody introduce themselves using this as the opening part of their introduction:  “I’m just a…..”  Now how’s that for a label?  “I’m just a….” do we even hear what comes next or do we subconsciously place that person into the insignificant or unimportant box?  Can we honestly say that we take the rest of the conversation with that person seriously, or do they remain in our mental box?

Perhaps it’s time we start dismantling the boxes, removing the labels along with their negative connotations, and get to know each other as people, as individuals, and see the incredible wealth of talent in each other.  We all bring something unique to the table.  I firmly believe that the only way to do this is by removing our own labels first.  To label is to hold onto pre-conceived ideas.

I recently victimised myself and sabotaged my own performance by placing myself in a box and assuming a label – I am a technical support engineer.  I fix technical issues, that’s what I do.  The challenge facing me was a training workshop for sales people.  I wore my label and lived in my box, subconsciously telling myself that I would not pass the final grading let alone excel at it.  I wore my label so stubbornly that other delegates put me into the same box with the same label.   To my surprise I got more than just a passing grade.  It surprised the course facilitators too as I had let them subconsciously accept the box I’d placed myself so firmly in.  What if I had kept a more open mind going into the workshop?  What if I had more readily embraced the opportunity to learn and grow in uncharted territory?  Instead I trapped myself and hampered my own growth.  All my own doing.

So this brings me full-circle in this article.  I start with myself.  I need to consciously step outside of any box I may want place myself in.  I need to break down those mental labels I apply to myself.  If I don’t do this I will forever hold myself back and hamper my own growth.  If I don’t stop labelling myself how can I expect others to stop?

Getting out of the box

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura

The End of an Era

Today I write about something not so philosophical or perhaps profound as I have done in the past.  I write about the end of an era, the closing of a chapter in my life and, indeed, the beginning of a new one.  After twelve years I have resigned from my current place of employment.   The past twelve years have been a tremendous journey of opportunity and growth.

So why would I make this change now after such a long period of time, time that has been happy and joyful?  Sometimes in life opportunity comes knocking at your door totally unexpectedly.  Out the blue a potential new chapter in life presents itself.

Let’s take a step back here for a moment and look at some of the history behind this.  I’ve been working with email and email systems since 1994.  Essentially from the birth of email as a communication and collaboration tool in businesses.  I’m passionate about email systems, fascinated by how they work.  This passion of mine led to extensive participation in community forums – answering questions, assisting with resolving issues experienced by folk all over the globe.  I’ve written technical articles, published [amateur] training videos all in my quest to share knowledge.  Some call this my hobby, I call it my passion.

My contributions in this area appear to have been noticed.  Suddenly I get a phone call from a global company asking me to come work for them doing just this, supporting and assisting email administrators globally.  My hobby, my passion, has now turned into a new job!  I will be in a position to continue sharing knowledge whilst remaining a lifelong learner.

I’ve spent some time reading my own previous posts and realise, yet again, just how much they apply to my life – how I have prepared for this day, how I’ve prepared for new opportunities, how I can approach this massive change by starting with that first single step.

So where to from here?  We are relocating to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in a few short weeks.  A new country, a new job, new opportunities to learn and grow.  I am excited and nervous simultaneously.  This is a huge step, a massive change.  But I remind myself of taking that first step and how I plan my journey in small stages.  So here I am walking along an untrodden path and climbing a new mountain one step at a time.

 

The end of an era

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura