17

ImToday, 17 years ago my life was changed forever and has shaped who I have become. My eldest daughter came into this world prematurely. To say that I wasn’t prepared, was an understatement. There was not even an item of clothing, let alone a cot or a basket!

Weighing just more than a bag of sugar and with respiratory problems, she spent the first few weeks of her life in a neonatal intensive care unit. From that day onwards, life has never been the same – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually…

For the first 2 years of her life she was constantly ill, suffered from ‘colic’, eczema, asthma and rarely slept. Double cream and butter was added to her home made food to help her gain weight. Butter remains a favourite in our house!

She has provided fodder for continuous learning through the years enabling me to hone many such skills as negotiating, influencing, time management, communicating, organising, storytelling, creativity…And during that time has and continue to experience a range of emotions and feelings from  hope, laughter,  love, patience, empathy, pride to sadness, pain, courage, determination, resilience…

My many moments of learning include:

– When I coerced her to wear a dress (against her wishes) for her birthday – it was a lovely burgundy dress with a beaded pattern. She sat with her friends watching Colonel Custard and his puppet show, fiddling with the beads. As she stood up at the end of the show, there was a scattering of beads all around her. The only remaining beads hung on a single thread. It was the last time she wore a dress – until she bought her own about 8 years later!

– When she fell off her scooter going down the hill on the way to school and stopped at my friend’s house to get cleaned up. As I made my way down to pick her up, I was cross because I was going to be late for my client. As I drove her home she was not herself, not making sense and the detour journey to A&E was made in record time.                                   By the time we got there, she was incoherent, didn’t know who I was, who she was and was losing consciousness. She was hospitalised with severe concussion, head injury and remained there for a few days. A sharp lesson in who and what really matters.

– When she decided at the age of 14 that she was going to Peru on an expedition. She went across the globe for a month with a handful of young people and a leader that she had only met briefly once before.  During that period there was no contact with her.

13JWhat ever label you may give it – parenting , coaching, nurturing, ‘soft’ skills, emotional intelligence… they are the hardest and most difficult skills to master.

17 years..for me it’s about being ‘human’, learning and striving to being a better me…through the interactions, connections with those around me….

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. ‘Pooh?’ he whispered.
 ‘Yes, Piglet?’ ‘Nothing,’ said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. ‘I just wanted to be sure of you.’ (A.A. Milne)

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About verawoodhead

I'm an executive coach, leadership facilitator and learning & development consultant working with managers and leaders to develop the skills and behaviours to inspire performance and drive results; achieve promotion ; make successful career changes, be resilient and thrive at work. Within organisations, I help to facilitate better conversations, design learning interventions which deliver practical and lasting solutions aligned to business strategy and goals. Connect with me on Twitter @verawoodhead
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