We really enjoyed speaking to Mary last week! Mary is a wonderful woman who has completed ‘The Real Me’ programme and is currently working her way through our new programme GLOW Academy.
So tell me a little bit about yourself Mary, where are you from?
I’m 59 from a family of six children and I’ve lived in Belfast all of my life. I was married at 21 to my first real boyfriend during the troubles and I worked as a legal secretary for most of my life! I left work when my husband bought a business but boredom led to me starting university. During my first year, my husband left but I continued on (with three primary aged children) with my 4 year degree in Applied Psychology.
What was it like studying for a degree and raising three children?
It was tough but it kept me occupied and focused. People were advising me to drop out. Saying I couldn’t possibly continue but I persevered and studied between the hours of 12am – 3am.
After graduation I slid back into legal secretarial work. I had a new relationship and a fourth child. This relationship didn’t work out so I raised my 4 children as a single parent. Unfortunately I lost my secretarial job due to bad health so I haven’t been able to work since. I had never not worked so it was strange!
How have you coped with lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions?
Lockdown has been particularly difficult for me emotionally as it has coincided with my empty nest syndrome. It’s shown me how much I need company and stimulation as well as cementing my need for purpose. This is the first time in 37 years I have not had a child at home as my focus, so the focus my now me on me and my personal development.
How did you find out about GLOW and GLOW Academy?
I needed company, new friends and mostly mental stimulation. Two of my sons are settled in England with their own families and my daughter is in Belfast. My youngest son is now at University in London so I was experiencing empty nest syndrome. I had started taking classes at Womens Tec (gardening, woodwork etc.). I realised I needed to find my purpose as I had been trying to keep busy with gardening, puzzles and TV. Womens Tec then introduced me to GLOW and I was really enjoying the personal development, meeting new people, particularly from cross community which taught me that regardless of background, we are all the same.
How has GLOW helped you progress so far?
GLOW is adding to my personal development. I want to build my self confidence and gain the skills and knowledge to eventually become a facilitator/life coach in order to empower other women. Particularly those younger than myself who can use the guidance to reach their potential. Women are more likely to encourage children and I believe if you educate a woman you educate a family. Boost a mother’s self esteem and she will foster belief in a child’s potential.
GLOW is my current lifeline with others. Without my classes, I would have no reason to get out of bed. I look forward to the company, to learning new things and most importantly to know more about myself. I see this programme as a springboard to my future!