Who are the people and what are the achievements you're proudest of in your life? I recently took the opportunity to reflect on that, and found it both joyful and informative. In considering key people and occasions in my life, I came to see a wider perspective on my own life and the value of pride in your achievements. Why not try it yourself? You never know what you might uncover?
So in no particular order, here are 10 things of which I’m proud along with a few things I learnt about myself along the way. Enjoy.
1. Running a marathon
I ran the Bedford Marathon in 1983 completing the 26 miles 385 yards in 4hrs 2mins (half marathon - 1hr 52mins).
An incredibly emotional experience, I cried at the end of the run; overcome as I was by a sense of exhaustion and achievement. Training had been intense too: day in, day out rising early to run in all weathers.
These days there is such a wealth of information out there on how to prepare – from what to eat, through your training plan and nutrition to such considerations as music and motivation.
I ate a couple of boiled eggs for breakfast, taped up my nipples with plasters because somewhere I’d heard they can get sore if they chafe on clothing, put on my running shoes and off I went.
The support of family and loved ones was vital; they drove to various parts of the course and lifted my spirits with a familiar ‘come on Julian’.
The marathon taught me the value of persistence and sticking at a task.
2. Doing a Bungy Jump
My sister Hilary and I did a bungy in Taupo, New Zealand in 2001.
According to the website, it is:
“one of those fear-busting ideas for anyone who prefers to confront rather than avoid. “
You’re released off a 44-meter platform, swing with speeds of up to 100kph through a 150 degree arc on New Zealand’s highest water touch (the head dips in the water, though I didn’t chose this) before enjoying a topsy-turvy view of the Waikato River Valley.
At the time I remember thinking:
‘Why have I just paid money to kill myself?’
and though not an experience I’d repeat, I’m glad I did it and in such amazing surroundings – off a platform on a cliff in New Zealand and into beautiful clear waters below.
Hilary and I still laugh at the video recording, which shows her walking towards the edge of the platform and asking a supervisor ‘Is this the way?’ You can be sure it was down, big Sis!
Post jump they want to get you down quickly, but I was having none of it and insisted on being allowed to bounce up and down on the end of the bungy so I could savour the thrill of the moment.
The bungy jump really was feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
3. My immediate family
My lovely wife Kathryn and our fantastic son Alexander, I couldn’t ask for better.
Alexander is huge fun to be around, always making me laugh, and challenging me to widen my horizons (still not sure I like rap, Ali). He’s making great steps in his desire for a career as a cameraman and is a shining example of someone pursuing his passion.
Kathryn and I have been together since 1995 and are coming up to our 7-year wedding anniversary on 27th July 2013 (see I can remember dates!) She is the love of my life and the backbone of all things good in my world.
Looking back on the years before we got married, I remember thinking that I loved Kathryn and therefore didn’t need to make a commitment of marriage, but I’m so glad I did.
I soon realised that long-term commitment and being accountable in front of others is something to celebrate, not be afraid of.
4. Wider family, friends and loved ones
Of course my own family must also include my lovely Mum, Dad, sister and brother. I am so lucky to have them. In my teens I tried rebellion but being the youngest it had little effect! Perhaps Mum and Dad had seen it before.
I often hear of difficulties and splits, which other families endure and it is to my own family’s credit that if we have differences they are never left unresolved.
Then there is wider family, my sisters and brothers in law and their families who I am always so glad to get together with. With all that’s going on in their lives meeting is generally a time for laughter and getting in quick to be heard amongst the fray.
Kathryn and I are also lucky to have great friends. From the group of six (you know who you are) who regularly meet up to share time together – goodness, we could write a play on our conversations and laughter together – to wider friends, relatives and loved ones too numerous to mention. You all live in my heart.
Relationships do matter and need to be kept alive and nurtured
5. My ‘A’ level results
I’ve always said that I passed my A levels (like the USA’s High School Diploma) with ease, but it would be more truthful to say I passed my A levels with E’s – the lowest grade. So why might I be proud of this? Academia did not come easy and I remember a schoolteacher saying that I wasn’t going to make much of my life.
Never the less I got my A levels, went on to complete a Bachelor of Education (Honours) degree and then lectured for many years prior to us starting our own business. Not too bad for someone who wasn’t ‘going to make much of his life.’
There’s a lesson here in proving to yourself and others that you should not be written off.
6. God, the devil, Jesus, a king and being beheaded
At various times in my amateur dramatic career I’ve had the great pleasure of performing significant characters: God and the devil in two Christian musicals; King Arthur in Lerner and Loewe’s ‘Camelot’; and Sydney Carton in a dramatic reconstruction of Dickens’s ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ where I was beheaded!
One of the most moving roles was as Jesus in a passion play and included being crucified in front of a large crowd in our town park.
It’s a great privilege to be offered the opportunity to connect with people through self-expression and your own creativity.
7. Music in my life
Having a father who was the Queen’s organist at Sandringham (where I was born) and a mother who is a gifted teacher of piano you’d think that music would always have been a part of my life.
It was 29 before I came to music: initially through the Ipswich Gilbert and Sullivan society as a singer, later through numerous music and amateur dramatic groups (notably Musicology, Company of Four and Savoy Singers) to more recently taking up the piano with my mum as teacher.
Why did I leave it so long? Perhaps initially I couldn’t make the beautiful sounds that I heard around me as a child, but later I think I was scared just in case I was no good at it.
Of course I came to realise the only thing to be scared of is not trying something – that way is the path to regret.
In 20+ years in education, I can honestly say that I can count on one hand the students who I would say were hard to get on with. Each person has their own story and it’s particularly gratifying to see them grow and occasionally be thanked for the help I had in their lives.
Those early difficulties in my own education made me more understanding of those who also struggled in their learning and hopefully made me a better teacher.
9. Our business
Despite its inherent risks, I’m enormously proud that we are starting our own business. In my old job the next step could very easily have been retirement in fifteen years time and I knew in my soul that this was not something I wanted.
I love that we now stand and fall by our own actions, hard work and the trust that we have to earn in others. I recommend the experience, particularly those interested in living life on their own terms.
With highs and occasional lows, I remain proud that we are making a real go of it. You can’t ask more of yourself or your life.
10. To you reading this
To the people who come to our website on a regular or casual basis, I’m proud that you have taken the time to explore our world and our ideas and express yourself through the medium and message of our site. If we can help you to achieve a step towards brilliant living yourself then our time’s been well spent.
I hope we can come to know you as part of our wider friends, relatives, family and loved ones and can share in what you are proud of too.
Pride in your achievements
In writing this, apart from the lessons learnt from each individual experience I came to reflect on a wider consideration:
If you try this process, and I hope you might, you might also come to reflect on:
- Gratitude – Coming to realise what you are grateful for in your own life and recognising that it is always good to show that to those you love and care for.
- Goals – Understanding the goals you have striven for and remembering and reinforcing those skills you found within to achieve those goals, perhaps also recognising these don’t have to be monumentally large to be significant.
- Gifts – Appreciating and using the gifts you have been given in your life.
- Growth – Reminding yourself of the growth you have made in your life and that you are perfectly capable of growing further in new, exciting and unexpected ways.
I’d love to hear what’s made you proud in your life.