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Women What Whistle

This podcast is about not falling in line or fading away. Stories of bravery, accounts of resilience and even tales of sheer bloody-mindedness. It’s about finding our voice, and sometimes our brave, through the stories of other women who’ve had to find theirs.

Feb 27, 2020

One of the requests for topics to address on the podcast has been how to bounce back and stay positive so over the last couple of weeks we have been looking at exactly that. Last week we talked with my friend Tanya Leary on who has just started Feed your Fabulous, a podcast talking with other women on how they take time out to do exactly that.

On top of finding things we enjoy to do is finding purpose. Success doesn't come overnight and its worth pointing out that success for one person looks entirely different to success for the next. On top of that success shouldn’t be muddled up with fulfilment.  I often quote Professor Paul Dolan’s recipe for happiness. He says that happiness is the combination of pleasure and purpose over time.

So in this episode we are going to look at purpose, hence the title, what gets your goat?

I’m currently writing an article for a magazine on mental health and so I’ve been digging a little deeper into those habits and patterns we employ on a daily basis. Just this morning as my son left for school he said to me – so what are you doing today mum? He knows that my days always look different and anything could be happening but then when someone messaged me a bit later asking if I was working today, I was a bit stumped. Well, I’m not in London and I’m not being paid – but what I’m doing is important and has purpose, so no I’m not “working” but that doesn’t mean I’m twiddling my thumbs either.

I think sometimes we can get hung up on work v play and often purpose can get dropped in the middle somewhere. You could say that the luckiest people are those who get paid to do the thing that drives them hardest, that fuels their fire and makes them feel alive but not everyone gets to do that. But just because you might not get to do that as your paid thing doesn’t mean that it’s not out there for you to do.

So how do you know what your purpose is? How do you keep going when the going gets tough? How do you pick yourself back up again and start over ….I’m reading a fabulous book which was just published last week by Cathy Madavan called Irrepressible – 12 Steps for a Courageous, Resilient and Fulfiling Life and in it she reminds us of Sir James Dyson who ploughed through endless prototypes until he eventually created the famous cyclone vacuum cleaner, he is quoted to have said “success is made of 99% failure”, she reminds us of JK Rowling who wrote her first Harry Potter book sitting in a café because her flat was so bleak, living on benefits, pushing beyond all the rejection letters with no idea of the success ahead. Of Tiger Woods’ impressive comeback, of Monica Seles defeating her opponents after being stabbed courtside – all these people had every reason to give up, countless times – but what they had was stronger than reasons to give up, and it was a passion to keep going DESPITE the hurdles and mountains.

Nobody gets to get through life unscathed and the more we are ok with the fact that it’s the journey that counts, the less likely we are to stay down when we fall. You will fall, I will fall, we will all face obstacles that say “this road is closed” but that doesn’t mean we stop, it means we find another way. I guess what matters most is knowing what matters – what is it that gets you out of bed in the morning, what is it that gets your goat?

It might be that you love walking your dog, playing tennis or going to the gym – it’s easier to find the pleasures in life that might make us feel good – I love to ride my horse, I love to walk in the woods, play board games with the children, sit in the sunshine with a cold drink and ice cubes rattling around, drink coffee and watch the world go by - but lasting happiness and fulfilment comes from pleasure AND purpose.

So what is your purpose? Have you ever asked yourself what that is? I had this conversation with someone once who said they wouldn’t be so arrogant as to assume they had one – so if we don’t have a purpose, what is the point? Pablo Picasso said “the meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”

I was listening to Woman’s Hour podcast last night on my way back from London and they were discussing mercury retrograde with a couple of astrology experts and they touched on how we are becoming so much more open to life beyond the physical domain, astrology is having a bit of a comeback – not so much reading your stars in the paper, but the general understanding and concept that there is more out there that influences and effects who we are and the world around us.

When I was young, I had a poster in my room that said “What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God” – have you been to Hobbycraft lately? I love to paint sometimes ….that canvas comes to life in a whole new way. I have a piano which is an ornament until I play it. In the same way, we are a blank canvas ready to take shape, we are a vessel to create our own song – and our purpose is that song, is that picture and for some, that song will be sung world wide and for others it will be sung for a select few but that doesn’t make the purpose any more or less valuable.

We all count.

Cathy Madavan goes on to say in Irrespresible “a purpose filled life is far more than making yourself look good or just getting a job done. It’s connecting your desires, your talents and your strengths with a need or a cause that means you know you are genuinely making a difference in this world. That’s not to say that living out your irrespressible purpose won’t be hard work or that your circumstances will always be easy. It is rarely the case that you won’t need to persevere and not everybody in the world will queue up to affirm your efforts. A shame, really. But you will always find your courage when you know your calling In fact, when something really matters to you, you find your inner reserves, you dream audacious dreams, and you might even consciously make life uncomfortable for yourself in order to get to where you want to be"

I’ve been here a number of times over the years when I ask myself this question – what am I doing? Why am I doing it? And if I’m doing something that doesn’t line up with what truly matters, if I don’t change it, I will only feel worse about myself and life in general. A couple of years ago I questioned how I was using social media, what it’s purpose was in my life and came up with a plan in order to align it with what gets my goat.
So coming full circle – bouncing back and staying positive I guess I would ask you this ….where would we be if Marie Curie hadn’t been determined? 

She was the youngest of 5 children in Poland, her mother died when she was young, her father couldn’t afford to support her but she found her way. She went on with Pierre her husband to make such phenomenal discoveries in the world of science despite being poo pooed by her piers and industry for a long time
They were awarded the Nobel prize and she went on to be awarded a second after he was killed on the streets, knocked down by a vehicle ….you’d think she would stop but she kept going – something got her goat! She didn’t bounce back and stay positive because all was well, she picked herself up, time and time again and chose to be positive because she believed in something bigger than her.

I think sometimes with the self help industry being as powerful as it is, we become so entrenched with looking inwards that we forget to look and reach out despite our failings. We aren’t supposed to be perfect, and we certainly aren’t born the finished product ….its in the falling down and the getting up that our stories are written. As Brene Brown says “if you own your story, you get to write the ending” so its about taking responsibility, which is really uncomfortable and often quite passe – we pass the buck, we have created a blame culture so that we blame everyone else but essentially, our lives are our own and we can either be a passenger on the bus, or we can take the wheel and choose the path, change the tyre when it blows and give the engine the maintenance it needs.

Please do rate, review and subscribe to the podcast if you enjoyed listening and you're more than welcome to join in with the conversation on our Facebook page called Inside My Wardrobe, please come along! Also, if you would like to get in touch, find me on social media or via my website - Pipa Gordon