Aged 9 – 2 years to live: 10 Life Tips from a Cancer Survivor

Aged 9 – 2 years to live: 10 Life Tips from a Cancer Survivor

Do you know anyone who has been struck down with Cancer? Anyone who might be on that journey at the moment? A young person needing encouragement? I was struck down with cancer at the age of nine and underwent some radiation treatment (2.5 times the adult dose), followed by significant major surgery during the next couple of years and then again when I was 18. My parents were told that I probably had two years to live and, during these two years, my mother died suddenly. Thankfully, I survived the Cancer and now, 50 years later, reflecting on my life journey to date, I happily share 10 Life Tips that I have learnt, through trial and error, highs and lows, over the years and which helped me through challenging adolescent years as I came to terms with my disfigurement and responded to it. I share these experiences with teenagers I mentor, encouraging them to keep on keeping on through the confusing adolescent years, especially when the odds are stacked against them. Following these key tips has taught me the importance of living a positive life journey filled with HOPE, experiencing unconditional love and care from those closest to me, whilst also feeling valued and, ultimately, leading a life of meaning and purpose with a strong sense of serving others. Renowned Basketball Coach, John Wooden, defined success as, “peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” It’s a great message to share with all who are trying to find...
Life can be like a Cross Country run for adolescents – guide them!

Life can be like a Cross Country run for adolescents – guide them!

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” (Epictetus) “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, they make them.”  (George Bernard Shaw) Read through those two quotes a couple of times and think about your response to them. There is a strong message here about the way we choose our future pathways. In many discussions I have had with teenagers over the years, there have always been students who will make excuses for not reaching their potential, especially when they do something wrong and are found out. Some of the more popular comments would be: • “It’s my parents’ fault. they’re always fighting. Life at home sucks!” • Or maybe a parent has an addiction of some sort which makes life at home tough to cope with. • Or they want to keep their circle of friends. These friends keep breaking rules, but being with those friends is more important than reaching their potential? Negative peer pressure tends to lead to negative behavior. We drag ourselves down. Why? • “It’s the teacher’s fault. He/she doesn’t like me!” • Or, one of the classic comments: “I didn’t think about the consequences of my actions.” (Brain research tells us that this can be a genuine situation, as the Pre-Frontal Cortex, the Chief Executive area of the brain, where decision-making is taking place, is still developing until the mid-20s) Do...
10 Ways Youth Mentoring Can Inspire Young People – a true story

10 Ways Youth Mentoring Can Inspire Young People – a true story

Can you remember times during your adolescent years when life seemed to be particularly hard; you jumped one hurdle and then something else occurred and knocked you down; up you got again and something else happened? Small rocks to stumble over, bigger rocks to obstruct your pathway.  How did you respond? Thinking about this led me to some work I did a while ago looking at how youth mentoring programs help young people coming from a high risk environment, reminding me of a check-list, if you like, that would be invaluable to anyone mentoring such a young person. As I thought some more, I was reminded of the years I spent informally mentoring Walter (not his real name), a teenager from a high risk, volatile environment in South Africa during the dark days of apartheid. I learnt so much about life from many interactions with Walter – an amazing young man. Walter arrived at the School where I was teaching at the time and was placed in the Boarding House of which I was the Housemaster. Walter’s mother was a domestic servant and he was, in his own words: “.. a young man from the townships who could not even speak English. I was scared but excited. I had to prove myself. Here were the white boys who had privileged positions all their lives. Their primary education was preparing them to be the bosses, whilst mine was to serve their interests. Here I had to compete with them on the same footing. I can tell you it was not easy.” There were approximately 60 to 70 boys, aged between 12 and 18 in each...
16 of the best Mentoring quotes

16 of the best Mentoring quotes

“If you really want to give your children [mentees] a few worthwhile gifts in this life, leave them with a sense of curiosity, good manners and a considerate nature. You will have made a bequest of inestimable value.” (Clive Simpkins) If you were asked to describe in 100 or so words the mentor who has most impacted your life to date and why you have chosen that person, what would you write? While going through my mentoring resources, I highlighted 16 possible responses to that question.The quotes come from a variety of resources and further details for the majority of them can be found in the extensive Bibliography on my website. I have given a short heading to each quote to further reinforce important aspects of mentoring: The Mentor’s Spirit “We seem to need mentors – wise and faithful guides, advisers or teachers – the wisdom keepers of an entire family, a sprawling corporation or a community. Much more, we need the mentor’s spirit, an unseen affirming influence and positive energy. The mentor’s spirit is the heart’s posture pervading healthy relationships in every family, classroom, organization and town … When the mentor’s spirit is absent, we find dependency, an erosion of optimism and impaired problem solving.” (Marsha Sinetar) This is Mentoring “Mentoring is a lifelong relationship, in which a mentor helps a protégé reach her or his God-given potential. Mentoring is like having an ideal aunt or uncle whom you respect deeply, who loves you at a family level, cares for you at a close friend level, supports you at a sacrificial level, and offers wisdom at a modern...
Adolescents share truths about the impact mentors had on their lives

Adolescents share truths about the impact mentors had on their lives

I often ask adults the question: when you were a teenager, who, other than your parents and friends, had a significant or POSITIVE influence on your life? Sometimes, sadly, people were living in homes that were not functioning too well for a variety of reasons, so positive parental influence might have been lacking. No matter what the situation, so many young people will talk about a teacher or a Coach, a person who cared about them and believed in them. The world mourns the death of many innocent lives and the injuries others have sustained as a result of the bomb blast in Manchester earlier this week, though we must never forget the tens of thousands, maybe millions of young people living in poverty or traumatized by war or some other traumatic event in their lives.  It has spurred me to action. For many years I have been thinking of a way to inspire young people to become the best they can be, the quiet ones who retreat into their shell, who perhaps lack confidence, who need to be reminded that they can take charge of their lives and being shown how to do this. I am working on developing an App, which will have to be free, with an inspiring message each day; not a well known quote, but something more personal, which links to common themes linked to adolescent development and resiliency and which I have written from my experiences working with young people for over 40 years – can’t hide my age! I actually began this project about 15 years ago and there have been a number of rewrites! I have...