This article “My best life – in service of others” has been written by Lynne Bardell, one of the wonderful people I’ve met on my Age Life Balance journey over the last few years. Her story inspired me so much, I asked her if she’d consider writing a guest blog. I’m grateful and honoured that she’s shared her story with us through this blog.
When I was a little girl (and that was a LONG time ago!) all I wanted to be was a police officer, like my mum’s friend. She was tall, elegant, looked so smart in her uniform. It seemed such a wonderful job, to have a career where you can help people.
Me, the police officer!
Fast forward nearly 50 years, and a couple of detours along the way, and I was fortunate enough to realise my dream and served for 25 years as a police officer, finishing in 2018 as an Inspector in the Metropolitan Police Service.
However, my policing journey was so much more than I could have possibly imagined.
During those 25 years, I worked in various operational policing units (response teams that answer emergency calls) at three ranks and in two police services. I also held two national roles and was posted by the UK Government to the Balkans, being part of a national and international team supporting the post-conflict reconstruction of two police services.
Work hard, play hard
I worked hard and played hard during my time in the police. Along with fantastic work opportunities, I had the chance to meet and work with some amazing individuals but there were also some significant sacrifices.
I learned valuable lessons about life and who I was. I pushed myself out of comfort zone more times than I care to remember, getting up and dusting myself down numerous times when things didn’t work out as I had hoped.
Life changing events
Then one day, everything changed.
I always knew that if given a chance, I would be there to support my beautiful mother when she couldn’t live on her own. It was just that that time came a lot sooner than either of us had imagined, when she was diagnosed with dementia.
Knowing I had to make some big decisions in the near future, I started to retrain as a coach and saved all the money I could. A year later, I sold the home I loved, resigned from my career and moved us halfway across the country to be able to afford a home for us both and to be closer to a support network of friends. I continued with my education and took and graduated with an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology and am now in the process of learning how to be an entrepreneur and start my own business.
I feel so blessed to be building my own business and have another career helping people, but this time supporting clients in achieving their goals and dreams. After 25 years in public service and after nearly 40 years of being an employee, I have discovered that there is so much to learn about setting up and running a business, it feels overwhelming at times. However, as soon as I start to feel like that, I check myself and remember that I have done some remarkable things in my life, which were new and different and took courage.
Some of them were things I never thought possible, such as classify as a firearms officers and completing two degrees despite having Dyslexia and ADD. I know that I can and will succeed again in building my business, I just need to think differently now.
When I made the decision to completely change my life, I thought about all the practical things I would need to do. However, those things, although useful, pail in significance when facing the emotional challenge of caring for a loved one, anyone, whose working memory is being depleted a little more every day. As the cruelty of dementia starts to reveal itself to us, I often feel alone in witnessing the effects of the devasting consequences this disease has on our lives and that I am not good enough to do this.
The emotions hit you like waves, such as guilt that you are not enough and gratitude that you have this opportunity to care for the person you care love most in the world. I am beginning to learn how to ride the waves, I don’t get it right all the time, but I am learning, just like on the first day on the beat in my smartly pressed uniform!
When there are difficult days trying to balance the two roles of a start-up business owner and caregiver and I feel that I am not enough. I stop. I take a mindful breath and remind myself that I am doing the best I can.
This time is precious, and I don’t know how long it will be for. So, as long as I can be of service to my clients, help them to achieve their goals and dreams and be the best daughter and caregiver I can be, then that’s my best life and I am truly grateful.
Lynne Bardell, is the founder of Paragon Growth and Wellbeing, focusing on supporting people going through major life changes. Using a range of evidence-based coaching tools and techniques, they support their clients to rebuild their confidence, develop resilience and establish a new sense of identity and direction, as well as supporting them to focus on clear, achievable plans to maximise their potential.
Thank you for reading! For more on Age Life Balance, browse the blog at www.agelifebalance.com to find out more.