“And so rock-bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life”. JK Rowling
I confess to never having read a Harry Potter book. Nor do I have any desire to do so. However, the quote by the author, JK Rowling, reflecting on her life as a single mother at the time before the book hit the world, resonates deeply.
In the early 1990s we moved into a new home with two young children, one still an infant. I took a significant salary cut (a quarter of my annual salary to be exact) just so I could work 10 minutes from home instead of a 45 minute commute. Less than two years later my marriage ended. I found myself in a state of panic. I had mortgage commitments at a time when I lost my job due to a restructure. I also started a degree and did not want to walk away from my studies. At this time of my life, academically, I focused on one essay, one assignment at a time. On a personal level, I focused on my life in 15 minute segments. If I could get through that short window of time and be functional, I could push forward to the next. I had no choice. The children were dependent on me on a day to day basis.
So far, my story is not special in any way. It is the same as millions of women who find themselves in a similar situation.
On reflection, during pause, I have had to face some truths. My son, the infant in the story, insists on this. So, this blog is for him.
Somewhere within me was a dream that remained intact when all else had shattered. I needed to know I had something to contribute that would be valued more than I was not. So strong was my desire that the universe conspired to deliver it. Through a convoluted set of circumstances, my path crossed that of a young professor who encouraged me to write, creatively and academically. Always in the background, now, writing became my lifeline.
Before long, second year into undergraduate studies I was published in professional journals. The following year I was invited to present a paper at a conference in the USA. I had poetry published, by invitation, in an anthology. I did poetry readings around Perth. I was an active member of writing groups. Then tragedy struck again. The young professor, my mentor, was killed in a freak accident, just before I was invited into the postgraduate program. So I did what I do best. I carried his legacy, his research, into the next phase of my academic journey. It was the best way to honour his memory and his presence in my life.
I completed my postgraduate studies at a time when I was at my most fragile. Yet, when I look back, I was at my strongest and most resilient. It confirmed for me, I could rise to a challenge. I rebuilt my life.
I am not wealthy as JK Rowling. Nor am I beautiful. But, like JK Rowling, I am successful in my own right. I am strong. I am resourceful. I am resilient. I have a good heart and spirit.
I allow no one to mess with those truths. Not even myself.
May you, too, find some truths within you, that are undeniable.
a dawn bird
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