Jane Hutcheon


03 Nov

What's the Regret You've Learned to Live With? Personal Event Life FAQ deliberate life

Jane Hutcheon

Event Start: 6 months ago

Question: what's the regret you've learned to live with?

A tricky one, which is on the theme of regret, one of the most common themes in my decades of interviewing.

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30 Oct

My Answer - the Little Known Thing You'd Like to Be Remembered For Personal FAQ deliberate life

Jane Hutcheon

Nelson Mandela looking blissful

Dear Friends,

Thank-you for your colourful and heartfelt responses to the question I posed: what little-known thing would you like to be remembered for?

What is fascinating to me is that most of us singled out ordinary things that matter to us; what we are passionate about and our deep desire to learn and to love.

Sarah writes,

I realise the things I’m most proud of are often completely unpaid and not on my CV.  I don’t talk about them either.  

MaryAnne speaks of being remembered for unselfishness and generosity when she was in need of these things herself.

And Joseph speaks of the people whose lives he helped put back together after they had life-changing injuries.  That is enough, he says.

Joseph is right. That is enough.  It is more than enough.

We should just get on purposefully with our lives or as the notebook cover says ‘Do Good Everyday’, because for many people, life itself can be a struggle.  I know it is for me.  Writing this series gives me the opportunity to imagine how I’d like Jane to be.  But Jane isn’t like this all of the time.  She can be petty and mean and small and demeaning.    

As for my answer to the question about the little-known thing I’d like to be remembered for, I haven’t yet achieved it.  What I would like to say is that I was good at saying sorry.

The younger Jane, regarded apologising as a weakness.  I saw it as giving in.  My apologies were shallow and full of excuses.  

Even now, it takes time to arrive at a point where I can make a wholehearted apology, which is one where I accept full responsibility.  I am a work in progress.

Most of us will never reach the heights of David Suchet with a glittering career forged by wonderful acting skills.  But I’m with him on remembering the smaller roles we play in our lives.  By searching deeply we might find something richer and possibly more exciting than our familiar, favourite Belgian detective.

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23 Oct

My Answer - Toughest Time of the Year Personal Life deliberate life

Jane Hutcheon

Dear Heidi,

Thanks so much for answering my question: what’s the hardest time of the year for you?

Most people replied that Christmas is a difficult time of year due to loneliness, nostalgia for their childhood and reminders of the loss or distance of family.

Can I share something with you, Heidi?  The hardest time of the year for me is New Year’s eve.  I think resolutions are pointless.  A ‘commitment’ is much better and it doesn’t need to be done on January 1st.  Over the past few years I’ve worked hard to ignore the hype around NYE.  However, a certain person in my life loves fireworks, so our family attends the early show, just to see the joy on her face.

[By the way, I don’t make resolutions anymore, I do a regular stock-take which I’ll talk about in another post]

Heidi, the hardest time of your year is school exam time. 

“I have two children with learning difficulties (dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia),” you say.

I can’t prepare myself. I know it’s coming and I feel so much for my kids. For me personally, it’s like an impending tsunami.  I try so hard to prepare myself for the anxiety and the stress. The kids know they have to go through this process at school and I have to let them go…my heart just breaks.

You say your experience with children who struggle with literacy and numeracy difficulties is a kind of grief.  This makes complete sense. You grieve because it’s confounding and upsetting how hard life can be for people that you love. You wish you could change something to make it easier for them.  However, you know they will eventually have to navigate their own way.

I have not had a personal experience with learning difficulties, Heidi.  However I have interviewed many extremely successful people who live with dyslexia.  The singer Leo Sayer couldn’t tie his shoe-laces by the age of twenty-one. Until he was an adult, he didn’t have a diagnosis for the way his brain worked.  However, he seems to have made a truce with his dyslexia:

“I think sometimes those things allow you to train your brain in other ways, and your heart in other ways, to actually get through life in different ways.  It certainly grew my creativity,” Leo Sayer said.

Another person who touched me with his story was the artist Joshua Yeldham:

“Well, I was drowning in life in that whatever I touched at school was deemed a failure.  So every exam I failed.  And no-one at that point knew that I had learning difficulties.  Later the word 'dyslexia' came out.  But back then it wasn't picked up and so I was a failure.”

The blue owl image on this post is Joshua’s work.  It fills me with joy and curiosity and I love it to bits.  He wrote about his childhood experience in a brilliant book called Surrender.

Heidi, I know you also help other parents of children with learning difficulties and I thank-you for the work that you do in growing our understanding.  

Don’t forget a bit of self-care.  When exam time comes around again, I wonder if there is anything you can do to try to ride the approaching wave - apart from run, which you playfully suggested :) I feel confident your wonderful kids will make it through the giant maze and I imagine you waiting at the exit, arms open wide, ready to guide them through their next challenge.

Love, Jane x

(Blue Owl - Morning Bay' used with kind permission of Joshua Yeldam)


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