Sunday, 18 September 2011


Throughout a person's life they will encounter many crossroads and it is the sum of the decisions taken at these times which build up and shape a life. When I was at primary school - I can recall the worry of self doubt. I could see some children excelled in lessons, others excelled in sports, yet others in music, it seemed that I would always be able to identify someone who was smarter/prettier than me.

Sharing my thoughts with my mum,  she persuaded me to see that this critical look at the world was not a good (or a healthy) way to see things. Instead, my mum explained to me that she believed every single person had a talent - in her eyes everyone was equal because every person had their very own gift, their totally unique talent. A person could be good at making others laugh, or listening to a friend in trouble or perhaps a skill at being able to look after someone who was ill. Not all talents could be evaluated in terms of exams passed and money earned. And, if everyone had a gift - there was no point competing with others, much better to discover what was your own talent and then to nuture that as only you could do. I was told that it was healthier to look inwards at myself and think, "what do I want to do and how do I go about learning the skills I need to try and achieve what I want to".

Firth of Forth as the sun sinks behind the Lomond Hills
Shona McMilan © All Rights Reserved

In pursuit of goals it can also be very inhibitating if we set targets which are not personally realistic. Recently, David Walliams (who has swum the English Channel and now the Thames) I heard him say - he had realised early on that he'd never be able to win a swimming race as he just didn't have the speed. But, he realised - that when others stopped, he could keep going and that this seemed to be his talent. In life, we can set unrealistic targets and fail but surely true failure is only when something might be achieved but that goal is not tried for in the first place. Later on in life, it can seem as if time is speeding up. When we watch the end of a sunset - how fast the sun seems to slip away in these last moments. In a person's life, the years appear to pass faster with age. However, it still seems to me that if a person wants to start 'a new' - then why not?   Nothing was ever achieved just by thinking about it. And nothing is ever accomplished without that first step on the journey towards a goal.

The eternal surge of the sea as the waves break on the shore
Shona McMilan © All Rights Reserved

In childhood, around the time my mum told me to concentrate on developing my own talents and abilities (and not to worry about others) I came across this poem below. Eventually, I copied out the words, put them underneath a photo of a sunset and every night before I went to sleep I would read this. Today, the same poem is displayed on my wall, a poem anyone can benefit from:

If you think you are beaten you are
If you think you dare not you don't
If you'd like to win but think you can't
Well then you surely won't

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster one
Soon or late the one who wins
Is the one who thinks they can

Boats in the harbour are safe
- but they weren't built for that

Photos and Copy
Shona McMillan © All Rights Reserved

Like a book we can see our lives to be like a collection of new chapters, new beginnings. We can not influence the start of our life's story but we can influence how our story turns out. Good and bad flows in to every life, sometimes it is useful to ride out the storm, at other times it is prudent to stop, re-evaluate the situation and start again with renewed vigour, with courage and determination to strive to get the best out of our time in life. This blog prompted today as, for two very different reasons - me and a friend decided Sept 2011 is a positive new start to the next chapter in our respective lives.

Onwards and upwards ;-D
celebrating a new beginning
in our lives, during our
45 yr friendship

1 comment:

  1. Your mother was definitely a blessing, as every mother should be, to you, Shona. My mother gave me a bookmark that was very similar to the poem you've shared. One of the most powerful things your mother said, and I think all parents should say to their children, is they're talented and not to view oneself as not talented. Finding and following one's heart and soul is often not easy. But doing so is so much more gratifying.