Thwack. The wooden ruler yet again struck my forearm. Over and over again my junior school teacher punished me for not understanding maths. I will never forget the humiliation of having to queue along with a boy called David, to get smacked with a ruler. I was about 7 I guess. Maths and stroppy teachers were a big puzzle to me.
The best subjects for me at senior school were art, needlework and music. Definitely not maths - which is ironic when you hear what I did in later life.
I left the English grammar school system having failed all A levels and a love of all things creative. I was made to feel like a failure. If I couldn't do science and all the normal subjects I wasn't good enough for university. Personally, I could see little reason to learn how to dissect a frog. Why would this be useful in my future life? I could have gone to a teacher training college. But the freedom from overbearing parents and earning my own money had a bigger pull on me. That way my parents could not enforce their rules and beliefs upon me, if I was independent with my own money.
So I learnt secretarial skills and travelled a lot. I always thought that if I could learn to type super fast - it would be beneficial to me. I didn't know why but my intuition told me I knew it would benefit later on - as this was in the age before computers.
Eventually, after a sequence of jobs and temp jobs to allow me to travel, I got to work as a private secretary. This was for the directors/owners of an international Interior Design Company. And it turned out to be as close to the art world as I could get. This proved to be great fun, working for film stars and princesses across the world. The bosses spotted my organisational skills. They considered me a great fit for bookkeeping and tracking money. Finally, I ran the office as manager/accounts manager. This I did for years with a million-pound turnover. So much for being bad at maths and being reprimanded with a wooden ruler on a regular basis for it.
I met my husband-to-be and had great fun, got married and had a good time socialising. This was until I was expecting my first child - a daughter. My husband took to drinking and became an alcoholic.
I was very lonely with a new baby having no support from local relatives.
I started an AlAnon group locally. The first with creche in the UK - to help relatives of alcoholics. It made no sense to not have a creche. Most of the members were girls struggling on alone and with children in the mix too.
(The group is still going today 33 years later)
I had another child - a boy.
I was fortunate that the daytime job allowed me to work from home. It was a thing all those years ago.
So I pitched up at the office two times a week and worked like a whirlwind. Remember the fast typing speed that I learnt years earlier, but didn't know why it was important? This speedy completion of work, meant that I had less to do from home - whilst still earning my full wage.
Just because I worked fast, I did not see any reason to earn less money!
I developed quick lists as reminders of what needed doing. Lists of what not to forget. And repeatable spreadsheets which allowed quick wins to be tracked. In truth - I ended up mostly with three days in the week free of work. This allowed me to have quality time with my children or anything else I chose to do. I considered myself very fortunate.
In my spare time, I started to learn how to decorate cakes for the children's birthdays. And I actually got quite good. People started asking if they could pay me. I loved making novelty cut and carved cakes - the craft gave me a platform to use my creativity. And the squash club I belonged to asked constantly for celebration novelty cakes. Their big zero birthday parties had one of my special cakes as a centrepiece. I studied City & Guilds Sugarcraft and got my certificate which I was proud of.
When my children were 5 and 2 - I decided to throw my husband out. He earnt nothing, contributed nothing, swore and was in a ferocious mood all the time. It was like having a very grumpy non-paying lodger in the house. So enough was enough. How much worse could it get?
Could I really survive single-handedly?
I continued my quest and thirst for finding personal development books. Scouring the local bookshop shelves to learn all I could.
I knew I had to become strong enough to be both mum and dad - as well as juggle the bills and keep us afloat. I had a choice. I could either go down the "I am a victim" route or take the higher path. I decided to fight back.
I became adept at finding fun low-cost things for us to do. And the children and I became a close-knit trio of us against the rest of the world. We laughed and had memorable picnics. We clipped coupons from newspapers to get a caravan or boating holiday. We had fun with little money. Even now my kids say picnics and egg mayonnaise sandwiches were the best.
The biggest transformation came from a book called Creative Visualisation by Shakti Gawain. She taught me how to write things down that I wanted and to add dates to the goals. I did this - and put the book away.
There is an addition to my story. A couple of years after I became a single mum by choice - my best friend at the time became a multi-millionaire. Her husband floated a business on the stock market and they became instantly wealthy.
So imagine - we had a weekly play date with my friend and her two similar-aged children. Once a week we would go to her 12-bedroom mansion - and my kids got to play with the amazing toys. The other week they came to my teeny tiny house for tea. My friend's kids loved coming to me. Why? Because I lived on a normal street and the ice cream van came to visit. It never went up their private road. So it made me smile - for all the privilege and expensive toys - ice cream won them over!
Fast forward 7 years from the goal writing session.
After I divorced, I met a new partner and when the kids were 9 and 12 we bought a house together. Sorting out the furniture from the removal van I rediscovered the box with the dated goals.
I had these written goals in 1993 when my son was one. And at the time I could barely make the mortgage payments. And had not even begun divorce proceedings.
On the sheet of paper, one of the goals I had written was "I have a detached house in a fab part of town (naming the district). It is halfway between a girls' school and halfway between a senior school for my son" Also, I had added a date. 1st May 2001.
I moved in on 26th April 2001 - so 4 days before the date I quoted all those years before.
I got curious and got out a map. I wanted to know where exactly was halfway between the two schools. By using a compass to make an arc I measured measure halfway between both school entrances. The cross where they intersected was exactly where my new house was.
There is a lot to be said for Creative Visualisation. And another lot of "coincidences" happened too.
But it made me realise that if you live your life on purpose - you can improve any situation.
One day - my ex-sister-in-law rang and told me she had booked 3 of us in to walk on hot coals. Being naturally competitive I agreed and then felt sick for 4 weeks until the day came. Achieving this walk - also showed me, that I could do something that I thought was impossible. And if I could walk on hot coals without harm, what else could I be capable of?
The hot coal walk - led to qualifications in NLP Practioner and Masters Level. And ultimately to become an accredited Accelerated Business Growth Coach. And love helping people see life from a different angle.
So I combined my qualifications in Sugarcraft, NLP Masters, Business and Life Coaching. Recently adding in a diploma in the Law of Attraction. A mixture of all these strands put together formed CakeCoachOnline. So helping cake decorators and bakers on their business and personal growth journey. I help them to learn to thrive and gain clarity. And get tailored guidance towards unlocking their full potential.
Recently I was chatting at a party and mentioned that I had started the local Al-Anon group all those years ago. This still runs now.
The girl I spoke to said her aunt attributed being a member of that group to saving her life.
I was very humbled to hear that. And wondered just how many others had been blessed by being a member of that group. The support group that I started at the local Baptist church.
I would love to look back in a few years time - and think that CakeCoachOnline had a similar impact. And inspiration for a lot of people too.
I did experience trauma while struggling with an alcoholic. But I made a decision to claw my way out of the mire.
I hope that I can help many along their journeys too.