Life Lesson

We had elocution class once a week when I was in secondary school and I don’t remember anything about it except the very final class we had.

The teacher seemed middle-aged which probably means she was in her early 40s and I had always liked her. On that last day she stepped back from how to speak correctly to deeper issues about moving on in life. She said that she had one bit of advice to give us – ours was an all girls school – and we were all agog.

Her words of wisdom were that if we ever got married to make sure that we had at least one hobby/interest separate from our husband. She felt that this was crucial for a number of reasons: firstly, because it would ensure that we had our own separate space that we would always have a clear sense of our own identities; and secondly, that if, for some reason, the marriage ended that we would have time that was not associated with our husbands and, in the event of being widowed, for example, that we would have activities and friends who were not all tied up with our husbands.

Her words never left me all the years and I have arguably taken them overly to heart in that hubby and I have a vast array of different interests and don’t live in each other’s pockets. It was clear from when we met that that would never suit either of us.

I often think of the teacher and wonder how much thought she put into this advice and how wise she was to alert us to matters which, although quite a bit down the road, are of key importance in life.

I know that some couples like to be together all the time, share the same friends and pursue the same hobbies and that’s fine but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and it may well be something they have fallen into rather than given any prior thought to.

There is lots to be said for teachers who are prepared to veer off topic and introduce ideas which get you thinking and keep you thinking years and years after they have planted the seed.

Imaginative Teachers

A couple of teachers that I had over the years up to school-leaving age have left a very positive imprint on my heart and mind.

One was a guy who always seemed to look for ways to make us think and not just focus on sticking rigidly to the syllabus.

One day, he arrived in with a list of sayings and distributed one to each of us. I got: ‘Success breeds success.’ I can vividly remember fumbling around trying to explain what I thought it meant but knew I wasn’t being very coherent. He encouraged me to think through what it might mean.

All these years on, it has stayed with me and it springs to mind in relation to everything from the way seeding in tennis is a prime example as is managing to build confidence from attaining what may seem like a tiny goal to others – walking 2km consistently and getting the confidence to push on to participate in a 10km or 20km walk.

There was a scheme in our school where kids in their final year were paired with a teacher to help out with the younger kids.

I was paired with my Success breeds Success teacher. One of the assignments he set me was to give a 20 minute talk to a group of 12 year olds about how technology was likely to impact on all our lives in 50 years time.

I didn’t have Google to help me but tried to let my imagination run wild. Computers were the size of houses back then and we were still in the era of telephone operators and black and white televisions. Robots were central to my talk. I think Dr. Who was my inspiration there. I certainly didn’t foresee the massive impact of the internet and virtual world.

But, almost every day, something from the life lessons taught by this teacher flash into my head.

I hope you were fortunate to have at least one teacher who left a lasting, positive impression on you?

Comfort Zone Malarkey

Comfort Zone Quotes - A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but n

I don’t know when all this stuff about comfort zones started ‘trending’ to use that terrible word that always gets me thinking of bell-bottom trousers!

Here’s the one that  got me really fired up:


Surely to goodness, life is about ‘finding your comfort zone,’ not jumping off it into a metaphorical bed of jagged rocks.

Have you ever trying growing  sun-loving plants in the shade? I have on a few occasions and they all died. A similar fate befell tender plants that I insisted on leaving out in heavy frosts.  I remain to be convinced that people are any different to plants in terms of requirements.

I contend that we prosper if and when we find our comfort zones ~ be it in school, college, employment, relationships, hobbies.  What a wondrous thing to see a people who are clearly comfortable in their jobs. For some reason, teachers come to mind here. I’ve known those who clearly loved what they did and both they and their pupils shone. Equally, I’ve known a few who were obviously not in their comfort zone and the consequences for the pupils (and I presume the teachers in question) was a living hell.

Where does the ‘get out of your comfort zone‘ leave older people who wish to remain in their own homes to see out their days? Should they be pressed towards ‘growth’ in a nursing home or some kind of assisted-living centre?

I certainly intend to pursue a path towards my comfort zone. Will you be coming with me or will you be the person I see out of the corner of my eye as I sit on the cliff top soaking in the sea air?

The Copper Coast, Co. Waterford
The Copper Coast, Co. Waterford