As a partner of someone with long term disability and mother of 3 young children, I have a very genuine and unique perspective of how difficult and challenging life can be. At the time, it was difficult finding the right support and balance in my life as a wife, mother, friend, working woman, and budding entrepreneur.
Although my late husband was fiercely independent, he was also very much dependent on me as a result of his disability. In these circumstances and in trying to have a balanced life, I became aware that it was quite easy to lose sight of my focus and life's direction, lack the motivation or ability to work towards my own goals and dreams. I also realised how possible it was to be resentful and angry.
So, I am using this platform to highlight my story and personal mission which is aimed at supporting people in similar positions like myself.
In 1998, Chris was diagnosed with Spino-cerebellar Ataxia (SCA7). When I met Chris, he was in very good health. He could roller blade, dance (we used to go Salsa dancing), drive and do all things any able-bodied person could do.
As the years progressed, some of our activities were reduced as a result of the deterioration in Chris’s health. His gait and balance were being compromised. I realised pretty quickly that our lives were changing. We unfortunately also lost our first son, a few weeks before his 1st birthday due to cardiac and renal failure as a result of SCA7. But that did not stop us having three more healthy children.
I remember in 2008, when I had my last child. I had to drive us home from the hospital, five hours after a normal delivery (thankfully!) because it was a bit foggy in the early hours of the morning. As macular degeneration is one of the effects of Ataxia, Chris’s eyesight had been severely compromised than he imagined. Hence, his inability to drive us home. A situation I had to react to, without preparation.
Over the years, the challenges have increased and I have since had more responsibilities fall on me such as; returning home after a 5 hour travel journey due to the nature and my position at work at the time and still having to help the children with homework, learning to do menial DIY jobs like assistance with screwing something, pumping the tyres for the children’s bikes and sometimes helping Chris with basic personal needs like putting on his cufflinks.
One of my major challenges, was discovering and realising that Chris's sometimes lack of confidence and physical condition was affecting our relationship, most importantly my attraction to him. I also had to learn to manage my strong personality and ensure that I was not dominating at home – a very challenging thing to do when you become the main breadwinner and everything else.
While I was struggling and dealing with these challenges, I quickly realised that if I didn’t do something and take responsibility for my situation, I was going to feel depressed, overwhelmed and that nothing will change. For me, taking responsibility didn’t mean the situation was my fault, but that the outcome of the situation is. I needed to control and manage the best outcomes for my family and I.
I eventually joined my local Carer group although I don’t consider myself a Carer. However, I soon realised that nothing the group offered was meeting my needs. So, I got a mentor, a coach that worked with me through these challenges which included work and home. I also had to resign from a well-paid permanent job rather reluctantly, in order to spend more time with my family and support Chris a lot more. I wanted to be in control of my time and earning power.
I have always had a desire to help others and after 13 years of a career in Information Systems Testing, I decided it was time to pursue my vision of helping others with their lives' vision.
When I was a Senior Test Analyst, I undertook a number of Personal Development courses that were not only beneficial at work but empowered me through my personal challenges. I also undertook personal training and coaching courses at the Coaching Academy. These programs helped me to contribute to my goal of being a life, self-belief & empowerment coach.
In the last few years as a Test Manager and Project Manager, I have been involved in testing business systems and Project Management. I bring many skills with me that can work in the world of coaching. One of those skills is training. I enjoyed explaining information to teams and colleagues regarding their business needs. I can now use this skill to educate and empower my clients about the tools they need to get out of their current situation by inspiring and directing them toward their vision and goals. I believe that coaching as well as training, involves a high degree of listening and observation. By listening to others you can learn how to best guide them to meet their goals.
Part of my desire to empower and encourage people led me to coordinating a Book Club for like-minded people who want to be successful in their careers and businesses - the book was Success Principles by Jack Canfield. .
I am currently serving as a Trustee as well as being the Head of Operations at Fresh Inspiration, a Christian charity dedicated to transforming lives. As part of the operations team, I was on the 2018 Mission trip to Uganda and Kenya, and I am actively involved with its other arms - the Fresh Inspiration Bible Institute and Fresh Youth MK.
My newest passion is i_Authentiic which was created as result of my experience of not finding a suitable forum for people like me with spouses battling a disability and/or neurological condition. I want this to be a safe environment for people like me to come share and encourage each other. My desire is that the i_Authentiic YouTube videos will be able to encourage and inspire people to believe that no challenge is too great to overcome, and that they are not alone in their situations.