"Sometimes our plans don’t always work out the way we want them to"
In 1990 I completed my Leaving Certificate. I went on to Business College and completed a Certificate in Business studies. My dream was to become a successful business woman. As we all know, sometimes our plans don’t always work out the way we want them to. I became pregnant in 1993 and stayed at home to care for my daughter. I had 3 more children a few years after that and now I was quite stuck in my life. I completed some courses like jobs-club, flower arranging and communications. It was a great way to meet people and have a break from my children. Around 2004 I returned to night school and for 2 years I studied hard and successfully received my Diploma in Business Studies. It was a great achievement for me as I had 4 young children, worked part time and went to Night College.
"From that moment on my life has changed for the better"
After the birth of my last child in 2000 I suffered from depression, though this was not discovered as I hid it pretty well. I always had a smile and a positive word while inside I was dying. In 2009 I was under immense stress from personal issues. I had an accident in Christmas 2009, I have never experienced pain like it. Thank God I found help from an amazing counsellor and from that moment on my life has changed for the better. During 2010 I just about got through the day, some days were bad and some days were good.
In September of that year the Home School Community Liaison Co-Ordinator from Cabinteely Community School suggested I go to a course called Partners in Education. She told me I would enjoy it and it would help with my confidence as the first part of the course was Personal and Interpersonal Skills. The facilitator was brilliant, helping and supporting me. My confidence grew slowly over the course. Part of this course involved going inside yourself and seeing all the characteristics that were good. This was one hard exercise as I didn’t believe I had any skills. While on the course my doctor referred me to the Pain Management clinic in St. Vincent’s hospital. They recommended that I take part in their Pain Management Course which I did. This was an amazing 3 weeks. I learned everything from Yoga to Mindfulness. Here I was shown The National Learning Centre in Sandymount. This is a special college to help people return to employment by gaining new skills. I could not believe my luck. There was a course called Graphic Design and this made my soul sing. I went for the interview and the trial days and the tutor Billy told me I had an eye for design. I applied for the course and was accepted.
During the next couple of years I studied Graphic Design while continuing to attend Partners in Education. During the Partners in Education course I had the opportunity to attend workshops given by Jim McGrath a mediator from the North. He taught me how to solve conflict through Restorative Practices. I loved this very much and could bring this home and try it out in my home with my children. I didn’t always get it right with my children but it did cut down on the shouting. In 2012 as part of the group, we made a DVD to help other parents deal with conflict restoratively. I never in my life thought I could act. This was one fear I faced and with the great support of everyone we made the DVD and it was launched in May of that year. We continued as a group to learn Restorative Practices. I also completed a Fetac Level 5 course in Restorative Practices.
"I have had a few busy years learning all I can learn"
I have had a few busy years learning all I can learn and this has helped to build my confidence. I finished at the National Learning Centre in 2013 and passed all my exams with distinctions and also completed 3 years of Partners of Education. I decided I wanted to know more about Graphic Design and applied to Bray Institute of Further Education for a HND in Graphic Design and this is where I am currently. Its hard work and I have so many assignments to be completed. I love designing and making things and everything I make is like part of me. Last year 2013, I was asked to speak in front of about 70 Home School Community Liaison Co-Ordinators about my experiences of returning to education. I never imagined I could stand there with my head held high and tell my story, I even cracked a joke or two without being too nervous. A couple of weeks later I was asked by AONTAS to speak about my journey back into Education and I was told that it would be recorded for anyone to watch on their website. Again this was a huge personal achievement and my hope today is that my story might inspire people to return to education.
I have been so blessed and lucky that the right people came into my life and supported me. It takes just one step and if you’re willing to make that step people will be there to help you.