Acorns to Oaks #3: Hope & Humanity

This blog is called Acorns to Oaks because, ‘mighty oaks from little acorns grow’. And that’s pretty much why I’m called Acorn Academy Coaching too; because coaching is about taking the seeds of hope and possibility that people have inside and helping them grow those seeds in to mighty things.

I am and have always been of the opinion that when hope and humanity meet, great and amazing changes and occurrences can happen. It is this thinking that keeps me going in my coaching, social work and run leader roles; that if I show humanity and my clients show hope, together we can achieve amazing things. However, if one of those elements is missing when we come to work together, then it is very unlikely that changes will happen. If I am burnt out, feeling angry, or I am physically and/or mentally so low that I can not muster the energy and motivation to help and support someone who needs it, to show humanity in my responses, then I will extinguish hope in someone else. However, no amount of empathy, motivation or willingness to help will be effective if the other person has no hope. The two, hope and humanity, need to collide in order to create change.

This was not how this blog was meant to start out today. It’s not even, in any way, a blog topic that i had thought of writing at all…..before now. I’d been preparing something else entirely in my mind all week, and was ready to put fingers to keyboard after I’d dropped my boys to school this morning. But then a few things happened within a few hours of waking up that really resonated with me. So for now, the other ideas have been shelved and will make an appearance in the coming weeks. Because today I want to share with you how YOU, yes YOU, can make a difference. Whether this is a negative or positive difference however is down to you, and your sense and demonstration of humanity.

This morning, over my morning coffee, I came across this post on Instagram by Rita Simons, the very talented ex-East Enders actress now appearing on stage in musicals. The post probably came up on my feed because it was a video of her daughter, who is deaf, singing….and I have a son, who is also deaf and so I follow a lot of deaf themed stuff. I didn’t know Rita Simons daughter was deaf so, aside from her daughter’s singing being AMAZING, it was great to see such a positive role model for other deaf young people, and such a proud mum extolling her deaf daughter’s talent. So I visited Rita’s Instagram, gave it a follow and had a look around. And there, a few pics down, was a video that Rita took of a guy, Liam C, who had approached her at the stage door recently and asked her to listen to him play a ukulele and sing. He had hope (and the balls) to do it, and she had the humanity and grace to not only say yes but to video it, post it and tag him. She didn’t have to give him that time; I’m sure as a famous and busy lady, she had places to be. But she did. And, as a result, he’s got thousands of likes and is probably feeling pretty proud of himself. And then I read the comments. Most of them were lovely. Except this one guy who felt it was okay to quite brusquely and rudely state how rubbish Liam is (he’s not) and I thought to myself, ‘wow, there’s a guy trying to make his way in the world and this other guy is trying to take him down’. And what an extinguisher of hope that lack of humanity may have been. Who knows what impact on Liam’s mental and emotional health that scathing, unnecessary comment may have had. Let’s hope that the thousands of likes and lovely comments won out.

About an hour later, I was driving back from the school run, and Desert Island Discs was on (yep, I’m definitely a Radio 4 girl, and more so now since appearing on Woman’s Hour on Wednesday – I’m at 9m 44s in). Today’s guest was a very inspiring lady called Sabrina Cohen-Hatten, who is the Chief Fire Officer of the West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service. Sabrina gave an account of her teenage years, some of which she spent on the streets, homeless. She said lots of things today that resonated with me but two just made me gasp out loud. Firstly, she recounted how one day, she’d been on the streets, aged 16, and a teacher of hers walked past, made eye contact and then practically scuttled across the other side of the road to avoid her. She then spoke about taking hot-dogs out of bins to feed herself whilst people looked on in disgust. She spoke about the lack of humanity that other humans showed her and how dehumanising that was. I wanted to cry just listening to her. Then, secondly, she was asked if she had hope during these dark times. And her reply has stayed with me all day. She replied that she didn’t have a lot of hope, but she had enough. Enough to make it through and get to where she is today. And this is amazing, that she was able to hold on to enough hope that when she met people who showed her humanity, the two collided and something special happened; her world was changed and she was enabled to grow, to become one of the most influential and inspiring Fire Fighters of our time. How much sooner though might that have happened, and how much less pain and suffering would she have experienced if people had shown more humanity sooner?

This year for me has been a very mixed bag so far. On one hand I’ve had a fantastic year with my immediate family of my partner and two boys; my friends; my social work; and my coaching and running businesses. I have made some great connections, joined some amazing networks and undertaken some fulfilling and effective work with people. This continues to motivate me to grow and develop so I can continue to help others on their change journeys. Then, on the other hand, I’ve also been dealing with something very stressful and personal and in the course of this, I’ve reached out to several friends and family members, clearly asking for belief, empathy and understanding. When I have done this, I have had hope that I would be afforded these things, and in the main, I have been met with love and compassion; my hope has been met with the humanity of these people, which in turn has enabled me to manage the very complex and mixed emotions the situation had engendered in me. However, it didn’t start out like that and I have had to reach out to more people than I originally intended because it turns out the two people I needed most to help me are incapable of meeting my hope with humanity, compassion, empathy and understanding. And then, the next two people I chose to confide in, both of whom have known me from a young age, were also unwilling or unable to meet my hope that they could and would help me. And at those times, after putting myself out there and asking for help, to not receive it was devastating and all but extinguished the hope I had been holding on to that things were going to work out okay. My faith in people and some close relationships have been tested this year, to breaking point. But how thankful I am, and what a difference has been made to me as a person, as a human, when people have listened, accepted and supported me. I have felt validated, uplifted and loved, which has enabled me cope, to mange, and to thrive.

I could carry on for hours, probably weeks, giving examples of hope and humanity meeting to create positivity, which in our current age of political and environmental breakdown is such an important thing, and probably the thing that keeps many of us going. So, in our daily lives, I ask you, are we contributing to the dehumanisation of our fellow humans, or are we creating change and growth and mighty oaks with our compassion and humanity? Please don’t let this be just another thing you read today. Let it resonate and speak to you. Where and how can you show humanity to the people in your lives, to those strangers that cross your path, and even to yourself? If you’re in a caring role, don’t underestimate how your work can help, humanise and grow someone. When you write comments on line, think about how what you’re writing will impact on the person reading it. When you meet someone who is asking for help, see the hope they have that enabled them to ask, and meet it with some humanity. And when you talk to yourself, treat yourself kindly, and don’t extinguish the hope you have inside.

And remember, always, when hope and humanity collide, great things can happen.

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