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Muddy Boots

by Sandra Patterson

Today, like most Sundays, I collected my niece from her mum and brought her to my home for dinner. This usually means that my daughter and I can go for a nice walk in the forest near their home before collection. 

However, this week my daughter was feeling tired and stayed at home and I had a tough week; death in the family, a sick friend and my values were challenged this week together with the usual January hurdles. 

This was a difficult week. I needed a proper walk today to clear my head.

Two Paths

Therefore, I left home earlier than usual and went to our usual spot to start my walk. 

This week, walking solo, I chose a different path. 

The walkways were more challenging and uphill in many places plus the weather was getting worse which made me nervous at times as I wasn't sure where I was going! But I knew the direction felt right so I kept going. 

What happened?

I finally saw a kingfisher. No photo as I was busy enjoying her before she flew away, but I saw her!

This made me think about my usual work habits.

Am I being 10%braver often enough by choosing a different path, the path which is harder but takes me further? It is perfectly fine to just keep enjoying the usual path, the one that is well trodden. I know where it will take me, and I know what it will look like as I have been there before.

But the muddy path requires more bravery. But bravery requires resilience.

There was a moment when I doubted that I had taken the correct path, my boots were getting very muddy. But I knew I was doing the right thing by taking a different path and if it didn't work out then I would have learnt a lesson about this path. I thought about the blog written by Farzana Akther recently. How has teaching changed you as a person? She asks. I feel that resilience has been built through many learning experiences however when I reflect on the past three to four years, I feel that this is when I have been bravest professionally.

Why is that? (My mind wandered to change focus while ascending a difficult part of the path!)

The answer is support. I can be braver as I know the #WomenEd network are behind me and wanting to celebrate my bravery while also there to offer guidance and support when the path gets challenging. This network, and especially the #WomenEd Northern Ireland team, have enabled me to be braver and choose more challenging paths and for that I cannot show enough gratitude. So, I pay it forward which is the absolute beauty of this wonderful network.

When we can take the harder path and we are facing bigger challenges our impact will be greater.

Not only will we feel better for overcoming the challenge, but we can enjoy the view from a newer perspective and elevation. The goal that we may have struggled to achieve by repeating the same actions may be achieved in the same way that changing paths enabled me to finally find a kingfisher.

Safely back to the car and reflecting on the morning I considered –

  • Be #10percent braver more often.
  • The path may be a challenge but is worth it.
  • Teaching has changed me, and that is OK.
  • Support of the network has changed my career path.
  • Pay it forward as much as I can.

When I got home my daughter asked me about the walk and I explained that I finally saw a kingfisher. She was delighted as she knew we had been searching and hoping for a while. Next week she wants to take the challenging path as well.

This also made me think about the women I had seen when I was a beginning teacher taking the challenging paths who inspired me. We are being watched when we push ourselves, we are inspiring others, even when we do not realise it.

So, I challenge you to be #10%braver in 2024 and get your boots muddy; go find your kingfisher.

Images all the author's own

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Friday, 01 March 2024

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