For this month I’d thought I’d share a single chapter from my first book ‘Ignite Your Potential’ for the blog. For two reasons.
Firstly I recently received such a lovely review from a bright, articulate uni student, Aaron, who also happens to work with H (at HandCo Clothing). When I asked which chapters stood out he highlighted Chapter 17. In reading it he said he discovered a new level of appreciation for his own mother: something she was also super chuffed about!
The ‘Acceptance’ chapter, titled WonderMum, is a creative tribute to my own mother. Hence the second reason to share this chapter. After more than 30 years in service she has retired from public service. I know it is in part from her own passion for books in wearing her long service badge of honour as a librarian that, in part, has influenced my own passion for books and writing.
The chapter, below, whilst written for my own mother is really a tribute to the gifts of lessons we receive from often unsung, unknown super heroes to many: our own parents. This is for all mothers and fathers, regardless whether they have passed or are still present. From their love, much is born.
– Jessica Lange
I hope most people consider their mother a superhero.
In my case, it’s closer to the truth than you can imagine.
My mum, Linda Bowler, married my father and became Linda Carter. While she spells Linda with an ‘i’ instead of a ‘y’, she still shared the name with the actress who played Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter.
My mum has since remarried and is now Linda Kaiser, but to me, she is still synonymous with Wonder Woman, even if the name has changed. So as a tribute to all superhero mums around the globe, here are eight things we can learn from our Wonder Mums.
1: Pain comes before the joy
My mother had three sons by the age of 21. As a male, I cannot imagine the pain and discomfort of pregnancy and birth, but my mother has always said it was always overridden by the joy of motherhood.
Apparently, I was an easy birth compared to my older brothers. An easy birth here is relative. Every mother has gone through some extent of hell so that we may be a part of this world. Mothers are bulletproof when it comes to enduring pain to bring joy.
The first lesson we can learn from our Wonder Mums is that we too may have to go through periods of pain to reach the joy. Embrace and endure. It will all be worth it.
2: Acceptance and forgiveness are a base operating system
My brothers and I drove my poor mum mental at times (especially my middle brother. (Never me, of course)).
But she always had a way of accepting and forgiving us for all our shortcomings. She still does, even though we’re all adults now. The art of acceptance and forgiveness seems to be a stronger natural gift in mothers than many other human people.
If the ability to accept and forgive, the way other mothers do, were inherent human qualities, the world would surely be a better place.
If only we could find a way to harness, bottle and dispense acceptance and forgiveness as medicine – a modern day prescription for humanity.
3: Retirement isn’t an option
Mothers don’t get to retire. Motherhood is for life.
My mum was still sending me parcels with jocks and socks well into my 30s – I didn’t have the heart to tell her I’d been buying my own in the correct size for years. Not only do mothers not get to retire, but the reward and recognition also leaves much to be desired.
Laundry, cooking, cleaning, nursing, problem solving and entertaining for years – to name but a few jobs – without pay.
Mums never get promoted. There’s no career progression. They’re literally in it for love.
That’s a beautiful lesson I’ve had from my mum right there. In the same way that motherhood itself is a lifetime reward, make sure you’re doing something you love to do. Don’t worry about the surface, social success or recognition, which may or may not come as a result.
By doing things you love, you’re more likely assured a full, rewarding life.
4: Even superheroes cuss
Mum would spit out her favourite cuss word in sheer frustration at times, which is hardly surprising when you have three young boys. As young kids, we would fight over toys and form bands with empty boxes for drums while yelling and swearing instead of singing. As we got older, we would play soccer in the hallway as if it were a full-sized football pitch. And then once we turned 18 we would come home after curfew and attempt to make a pizza, only to pass out in the process and fill the house with smoke from the oven.
I’m amazed the cussing was mostly limited to “Stop fart-arsing around!”
If you struggle with your time management or productivity, I’d highly encourage you to learn this Wonder Mum cuss. Write it down, laminate it, put it on your desk, lap it up, commit it to memory, say it to yourself aloud and hold yourself accountable. There are times in life where you just have to stop fart-arsing around and get meaningful s**t done instead.
5: The route you take is irrelevant; just get there safely
Wonder mum is the life of any party, yet she’s completely hopeless when it comes to getting to the party in the first place.
Reading maps has never been my mum’s high point. She knows front and back, and left and right – well, 90 percent of the time anyway – provided she hasn’t topped off a couple of glasses of sauvignon blanc with brandy. “Going round in circles” in my Wonder Mum’s case is a reality rather than a figure of speech.
Her old school, printed maps turn into tea coasters; Tom-Toms are confusing – which way are you facing? The little arrow keeps moving!
It takes more effort to try to translate the robotic GPS voice than it does just to drive in the right direction.
My mum never learnt to drive, so she doesn’t care so much about the route, she just enjoys the journey. As long as you get to where you want to be, who cares how you got there? As long as you arrive safely.
It’s easy to get fixated on your route, but it’s equally important to be flexible. There are many different ways to reach a destination.
6: You have a voice, and you should use it
As a superheroine with public life as a librarian, mum lives by the philosophy that the pen is mightier than the sword. The ‘pen’ in any given situation could be beautifully written prose, or even a completely cutting spoken word.
I’ve seen train station masters, check-in counter clerks, naval officers, store managers and even random strangers put in their place after receiving a finger pointing or tongue lashing from Wonder Mum.
Lesson number six is that to get what you want, you need to learn to speak up. It’s important to make a stand and be heard.
7: Take calculated risks
I asked my mum to share her life’s philosophy. She said: “Take calculated risks. Recognise that whatever decision you make is the right one, and if it turns out pear-shaped, you can always make another choice.”
Given she moved from Scotland to New Zealand at the age of 50, I see how she lives by this motto frequently. She accepts, adapts and changes. She takes risks, and if they don’t work out, well it’s just another story for the memoir. Those who take risks lead the most exciting lives. After all, no one’s going to read a biography of The Man Who Sat Still And Did Nothing.
8: You can’t always wave your magic wand
Mothers have a tendency to want to solve other people’s problems; to wave a magic wand for the people about whom they care. Unfortunately, the concept of a magic wand is reserved for fairy tales, Hollywood blockbusters, and fantasy books (the kind you’d find on my mum’s library shelves).
So, lesson number eight: when you’re desperate for a magic wand, remember Wonder Mum’s first lesson – accept the situation as it is, because the pain comes before joy.
While the connection between Wonder Woman and mothers may be clear, you might be wondering how it all connects to this chapter’s theme of acceptance.
Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, was a lawyer, inventor and psychologist. He believed that cartoons and visual storytelling were viable avenues for education.
Marston is credited with inventing systolic blood pressure testing – an integral part of the polygraph, or lie detector, tests. His fascination with discovering the truth may even have been the inspiration for his heroine’s major weapon of choice: anyone caught in the whipping grasp of Wonder Woman’s ‘Lasso of Truth’ was forced to give up the gospel.
Marston also published a paper in 1928 entitled Emotions of Normal People, in which he laid out theories and concepts that became the basis of DISC theory. DISC is a behaviour assessment tool based on four different behavioural traits: dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. It’s perhaps one of the better-known behavioural science and profiling tools available on the market and one I am accredited in.
Marston’s original paper proposed that behaviour was, in part, influenced by whether the person perceived of their environment was favourable or not. There have been suggestions that his work was based on lessons from his wife, Elizabeth who he noted, “when she got mad or excited, her blood pressure seemed to climb.”
Marston saw women as being full of strength and power, while inherently more honest than men. So, throwing this all together, he moulded a superheroine of significant qualities who “would triumph not with fists or firepower, but with love.”
Through the creation of Wonder Woman, he leveraged the vehicle of visual storytelling. He noted that “Comics speak, without qualm or sophistication, to the innermost ears of the wishful self. The response is like that of a thirsty traveller who suddenly finds water in the desert – he drinks to satiation. “His style of storytelling certainly made an impact, and in fact, in 2006 he was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame. In choosing comics as his medium, he could use Wonder Woman’s sagas to show readers the benefits of “becoming more readily accepting of loving submission to loving authorities rather than being so assertive with their destructive egos.”
It takes mastering acceptance, the good and the bad, to tap into this power.
Link To The Traditional Tarot: The Hanged Man
The Hanged Man is the card of ultimate surrender, of sacrifice for the greater good. He advises us to accept and surrender to our present circumstances because, once when we realise that there are some things we just can’t change, that is when we are free from our worries and anxiety. The expression on the man’s face shows us that he is tied to the tree of his own will; he has chosen to forsake temptations of instant gratification for a higher cause – he is completely selfless. The card signifies the need to consider the areas of our lives where we could be more selfless – to benefit others or even fulfil our deeper needs. We should always be willing to lose something lesser to accomplish a greater goal.
‘Ignite Your Potential’ Acceptance Card Illustration:
A dandelion floats freely through the air. A journey through the dark backdrop of forest and forage may provoke fear, but this path represents the need for acceptance of things that are beyond our control. The dandelion accepts the wind, irrespective of the force, as it makes its way back to earth to ultimately reseed. The journey may be varied and difficult, but the end result is the same.
Three quick tips:
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