You may wonder why my blog title is ‘AWEgust′. The reason for this is that I’m undertaking a challenge to raise money to train more mentors for the I CAN Network. I will be writing a blog post every day between now and the 31 August. So far some good people have donated $18.50 and I’ve had a promise of $93, which is good but I am hoping the raise a little more than that. Here is the link for donations if you feel the need.
Today was a reflective day after a reflective evening. I was thinking about myself and my work in the Autism world. I wondered what my motivation for doing what I do was. I mean I put in around 20-30 hours per week of largely unpaid work. Advocacy, speaking and writing takes up almost all my free time. Mostly I love it. I like to be occupied and I like recognition and these are two things I seem to get rather a lot of in recent times. This got me to wondering whether I am self-serving and my motivation for helping people is in fact a wish to help myself and my profile. When I thought about it I couldn’t work out whether this was a necessary part of the work I do. I mean if the work comes with an attached level of recognition, it doesn’t really matter what I think about the recognition as it is an integral part of the worlk. At this point I gave up and cuddled Mr Kitty and had a cup of hot chocolate! When I awoke this morning and thought about it, I realised that it probably doesn’t matter what is motivating me to do my voluntary work. I think I probably help a lot of people and make a difference, so if the trade-off is that people say ‘ooh, we love Jeanette’ it probably doesn’t matter all that much.
I had an experience today which served as a strong warning to ensure I am a kind, humble, caring human being rather than an obnoxious, egotistical narcissist. You may wonder why I m concerned about this. Well, the experience I had brought home to me that who I see when I look at myself and who others see might not be quite the same person. I was recently asked to deliver a presentation at a forum. I agreed and quickly drafted a presentation and sent it through to the organiser for her consideration. After not hearing back for a week I followed up with an email. I didn’t hear back so – being anxious that she hated my presentation – I called her. She was away from her desk and had no voicemail. I resolved to be less anxious and ‘possess my soul in patience’ (as my mum would say). Five minutes after my phone call, I got one of the most apologetic emails I’ve ever had from this poor woman thinking she had offended Jeanette. I felt dreadful and sent a response letting her know that everything was OK. We were evidently coming from different viewpoints – me being worried my talk was terrible and her being concerned that she had offended an experienced speaker. At this point I realised that there is the potential for me to get carried away with all the recognition I have had lately and turn into a hideous ego-monster. And if I ever do, please, please let me know as I would hate to be like that. I want to help people, not terrify them and make them send off panicked emails.
Today my lovely dad, who all the family call ‘Dub’ for reasons almost lost in the mists of family history, turned 70. My dad is the nicest man in the world (OK, I may be a little biased). He is generous, funny, creative, sensitive, talented and the best dad a gal could ever have. Keeping this in mind I reflected on my history as a Purkis. People who know me now probably have no notion of just how monumentally screwed up I used to be in my teens and twenties. I was negative, something of a victim, angry at all the wrong things, confused, sad, isolated, wilful, without much of a moral compass, unknowingly and unintentionally extremely selfish, stubborn and miserable. I wanted bad things to happen to me and actively sought such things out (and got them, in spades!) My life lurched from one disaster to the next. Everyone who knew me – including family members – thought I would not survive or would spend the rest of my life in institutions if I was very lucky. But this was not to be my future. Instead, I turned my negative focus into drive and ambition and set about changing my personal universe for the better. Within eight years of deciding to change my life, I had a Masters degree, a published book, a professional job and a mortgage. I was about as conventionally successful as a homeless, drug addict and criminal can become. And things improved from there. I overcame obstacles and challenges, I built my resilience and I wrote a bunch more things. I became the Jeanette I am now and I rather like her. And almost all of this I can credit the faith and love and support from my family. They were there at every step of my journey, even the steps which looked as if they ended with a precipice. So happy, happy birthday Dub. You are truly wonderful. I suppose one gift I can give my dad is the way I invested his love and support and saw it pay dividends in my life. Thanks 🙂
Me signing things….