First posted on Gary Cookson's website: https://epichr.co.uk/2020/04/12/nottheadventblogs-we-will-rise/ on April 12th 2020.
When I saw that Gary was looking for contributions for his #NotTheAdventBlogs, I thought that it would be a lovely opportunity to share my thoughts on a different platform – I hope you enjoy the read…
I have spent the past couple of days considering what I might write and thinking about ways that I have personally risen during my adult life. I was intending to write something quite light-hearted, but in the current circumstances that would just be a façade, one which I’ve had to use as a veil so many times in the past to hide pain and/or vulnerability. I decided that for this post, in the current climate, I would remove the veil and talk about how I feel I have risen to overcome obstacles, and how we can all continue to rise, even though we are surrounded by so much uncertainty.
Many experiences in my adult life have required me to put my ‘game face’ on, to ‘get the job done’, ‘keep going’ and ‘perform’, even when my world has been crumbling around me. If you’d asked me at the time how I was doing, I would have given the automatic response that here in the UK we seem programmed to give:
Some of the most challenging periods of my life: living in a violent relationship; a marriage which ended in divorce; lone-parenting my daughter from the age of 9 months through to the age of 8 years; the devastation of miscarrying a baby that I had so desperately wanted; deaths of people I loved dearly, have required me to dig deep to be able to find the strength to rise up from rock bottom and somehow keep moving forward.
I love the poem ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou, it really speaks to me and even though we are different women, from entirely different backgrounds, her words truly resonate:
Just like moons and like suns,
You can read the entire poem at the following link: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46446/still-i-rise
Even during those worst of times in my life, if you’d asked me how I was doing, the answer would still probably have been the automatic: “Fine, thanks.”.
But this strange time in the world feels somehow different, perhaps because collectively we are experiencing the challenges together. If you ask me now how I’m doing, you will likely get a much more honest response than ever before – I will no longer be hiding behind the veil of “Fine, thanks”. How I’m doing is just how so many others around the globe are doing: we are scared for ourselves, our families, our friends and our communities; we are doing our best to adjust to the new ‘normal’; we are trying to protect our loved ones from danger; we are more grateful than ever for even the smallest things in our lives and in our surroundings; we are taking each day at a time and trying not to get overwhelmed by the statistics, the upsetting news and the lack of control; we are connecting with our networks much more often to check not just how they are, but how they REALLY are (that’s not only me, is it?!).
Something that is truly remarkable during this difficult period is the way that communities are coming together around the globe, showing kindness to each other, offering support and showing solidarity: together, but apart. It gives me hope that there will be a brighter future on the other side of this, that there will be change in the world as we know it and that ‘care’ and ‘kindness’ will be key values that drive our collective actions, both in organisations and in general.
We can all have hope.
My hope for the future is that we will put our energies into lifting humanity up rather than tearing people down, that kindness will spread its wings and we can all soar.
I firmly believe that we, as individuals, rise by lifting others. It is the reason that I am so passionate about helping individuals develop their skills, encouraging them to believe in themselves and achieve what they set out to. At different points in our lives, we all need someone to rise and lift us up, to support us until we get to the point where we can discover our own brilliance, or strength - the brilliance, or strength, that was there all along, but perhaps hidden behind barriers, or veils.
In my adult life I have learnt the true importance of not only rising up for ourselves, but also the importance of rising up for others: being there to speak up for those whose voices cannot be heard; being there to support people who are being treated unjustly; being there to help members of our communities who need it; being there to raise issues when nobody else will; being the listening ear, the friend, the kindness; lifting those around us and building a domino effect community of hope.
I will rise for myself.
I will rise for you.
I will rise for us.
I think it’s apt to leave you with a song that, in my opinion, truly reflects this moment, ‘Rise Up’ by Andra Day. Take a few minutes to listen to the song and its beautiful lyrics, remember that we WILL see the other side of our current challenge and we will continue to rise up, for ourselves and for each other.
“All we need is hope, and for that we have each other”.