I had a moment of inspiration yesterday, at the toll plaza on the Portlaoise by-pass to be exact! It happened like this....
I'm not really a morning person and, in general, if I have the opportunity to have a lie-in I just can't resist. Strangely enough, though, if I'm told to get up at 6.15 on a Sunday morning to drive to Limerick to help with some photography I have no problem hopping out of bed as soon as the alarm rings. However, I do tend to feel it's expected of me to grumble a little bit about being up at that unearthly hour so naturally I oblige!
Anyway, my husband, Gareth, and I were driving to Limerick and on the Portlaoise by-pass road we went through the e-toll lane of the toll plaza (the one that scans the tag on your windscreen as you drive through instead of having to stop and pay at the tollbooth) and I realised that there's something about driving through e-tolls that just makes me happy! I think its to do with breezing through while all the lights turn green, and how the barriers spring open to clear the way through. I said to Gareth that they should have lines of people at the side of the road cheering you on and clapping as you drive through. He laughed but he also agreed with me when said that if I was at home asleep in bed (as any sane person would be at 7.45am on a Sunday) I would never have had this curious idea.
It started me thinking about encouragement and how a few words or a pat on the back can sometimes help you to do great things. By great things I don't necessarily mean big things. Sometimes a little bit of encouragement to do something you've always wanted to do, to contact someone you've lost touch with or simply to keep on going has a life enhancing effect. I don't mean platitudes like "you'll be fine" when you know you won't. I mean genuine encouragement from someone who believes in you telling you that you really can do something, you really should follow your heart, you really will make a difference.
I have to say that when it comes to encouragement I'm pretty lucky. I have a husband who goes with the flow when I make rather loopy pronouncements about toll booths and the like, because sometimes those weird ideas lead somewhere more coherent....eventually! When I had a really tough time in university my friends spent not hours but days helping me with drawings and models, and more than anything else,with their encouragement I got through it in the end. I can think of so many of examples of every member of my family encouraging my creative endeavours over the years from my Dad's "Great stuff, Sue!" to my brothers actually arguing over which of them would buy my clay model of a duck's backside!
There is one phrase that my Mum used regularly to encourage all of us, particularly in situations such as acting in a play, public speaking or doing an interview. She'd say "Go out there and tell yourself 'My mammy thinks I'm lovely'", and somehow it works! When I say it to myself it makes me sit up straight, take a deep breath, put my shoulders back and as an added bonus it makes me smile at the fact that it works!
So why am I telling you all this on a Monday in April? To be honest, if you've read this far without giving up you deserve a prize. No really, you do!
I'd like to hear your stories about words of encouragement, phrases that help you to keep going or that thing that your mother said as she sent you out to face the world. If I post your story on my blog I will create a very special message in a bottle for you, with your very own words of encouragement typed on a satin ribbon, and send it to you (anywhere in the world!). All going well I'd like to make this a fortnightly blog feature on Mondays because, well, everyone needs a bit of a lift at the beginning of the week!
You can email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Words of Encouragement' as the title.
ps Feel free to borrow "My mammy thinks I'm lovely" and substitute "mammy" with the loved one of your choice.... "my husband thinks I'm loopy, I mean, lovely" "my doggie thinks I'm lovely" etc etc
pps Don't substitute my actual Mammy... that's not allowed!
ppps Some words of discouragement (just in case): Please don't go hanging around at toll booths applauding the cars driving through. That would be silly, distracting and very dangerous! (Not that I think you would)