Everyday Courage

19 Apr Everyday Courage

What gives me the right to teach people how to have courage?!   I have not saved innocent children from a near death (aside from my own), nor have I swam with sharks (I did once sleep very close to a black panther but I had no idea until the next day when my heart almost stopped from my shock).  I’m just your average girl who grew up in a good home.  BUT…..

What I do know quite intimately is the concept of ‘Everyday Courage’, the type that we need to face a bully at work, deal with a touchy in-law or to get though an everyday difficult situation.  I certainly have a resume full of those!  Below is a courageous tale of becoming a single mother, told with a twist….

525600 minutes, that is how many minutes there are in one year.

The year is 2004 and I was living in London, working for a very large company, when suddenly, my amazing boss, was abruptly fired and asked to leave the building.  I was devastated! and quickly decided I needed to change jobs.

After some searching, I was hired by a small but growing company.  But before resigning  I booked a 2 week trip to Nepal where I would spend one week in a Buddhist monastery, meditating, and another week in a 5 star hotel, relaxing. 🙂

There is 347 200 minutes left in the year, I am in Nepal meditating with 50 people from around the world, when I start to feel extremely nauseous.  I run to the most prehistoric toilets you have ever seen (which does NOT help), and stay for about an hour before I manage to crawl back to my room, and wait for this horrible bug to pass.

But after 4500 minutes, I realise that it is not passing!  I have not eaten anything in days and I decide that it is time to see a doctor.  I leave the monastery and go to the hospital in Kathmandu.  After some basic tests, the doctor speaks the words that will change my life forever: ‘Janet, you are not sick.   My dear you are pregnant.’

After 3000 minutes, I regain my ability to speak, and I immediately start thinking: OMG! This can’t happen to me! I am about to start a new life.  A new job!  Having a kid is not part of the plans…….. Especially because I do not have a boyfriend!  

When I get back to London I make 3 very difficult phone calls:

  1. The first was to my parents. I should tell you that I come from a  Jewish family where I was bred to grow up, get a career, get married and move within 5 minutes of my parent’s house.  So when I called mum & dad from across the ocean, to tell them that I am about to become a single mother, it may not surprise you that they started crying.
  1. The second dreaded call was to my ‘friend’, where I had to tell him the very exciting news that he is about to become a father. Suffice it to say that he is was in no way excited, and he reacted in a similar way to my parents and asked the ridiculous question of: How this could have possibly happened??
  1. The third phone call is to my future employers. I tell them the news and then I quickly assure them not to worry, I will not take more than 3 months off and that I will continue to achieve all our agreed objectives.  They thanked me for my honesty, and promptly sent me a letter of withdrawal for the position offered.    Apparently the company felt that I was no longer suitable for the role and they wish me the very best of luck in my future.

So just to sum up: I am pregnant, my family is not speaking to me, my ‘friend’ is not talking to me, I no longer have a new job, I am constantly sick, and to top it all off….I am told that I have gestational diabetes.  This means that I cannot indulge in any oversize chocolates during the ONE time in a woman’s life that she actually has a valid excuse to do so.

There are 20,000 minutes left in the year and I am in the Royal London Hospital in some serious pain, despite having been given enough drugs to sedate several horses.  The midwives are exhausted, the doctors are close to tears wondering when I will get out of their labour unit.

With 18500 minutes left in 2004: I take that final breath and give birth to the most perfect little girl in the whole entire world. She is calm, she is so strong and she is so beautiful.   And she looks straight into my eyes….  Time stops.

525600 minutes in each and every year.  Can you remember a difficult year in your life?  When you felt weak, alone and scared….

Never forget that COURAGE can be found in the most unusual of places.

Watch the live speech here:


Thank you for reading,


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