Small Steps, Big Changes: Lesley Graduates At Chester Cathedral

About 12 years ago, when the worldwide web was new to me, I went to night school class to learn how to use a computer. I was terrified of being left behind in the ever complex world of new technology. Little did I know then that it would lead me to graduate from the University of Chester with a Masters Degree in Clinical Sciences.

1982 computer

When I look back I was so nervous walking through the door of the classroom. I hadn’t been in an educational setting since I left school age 18 after my A levels (as it was then) in 1982. I took a job in an office and shortly after married in my early 20’s. As was often the case, you took a job, got married and had a family. Gosh how we have moved on as women!

Stepping back into the learning environment in 2007 was quite daunting but I told myself it’s only night school; no one will know me and if I don’t like it I don’t have to go back. In other words I was filling my mind with negative thoughts.

However, as with many things, the experience of night school was much better than I had anticipated. Everyone was in the same boat, nobody knew how to send an email and I stuck it out for 6 months – we all helped each other. I was also lucky enough to meet an amazing lady who was our teacher and mentor and I got chatting to her one night after class and she told me she had a degree in psychology. I had secretly always felt I’d missed out not going to university in the early 80’s and psychology was the subject I was fascinated with. People are just so damned interesting. Everyday I’m amazed and inspired as to what the human race can achieve.

I went home with my head spinning and the next week I applied to the University of Chester to take a Psychology degree. To my utter amazement they accepted me and I began the course in 2008. It wasn’t easy – life got in the way, sick in-laws, financial problems due to the crash that started in 2007 as well as feelings of self doubt. However, four years later, after lots of hard work, determination and support from my family, I graduated with a BSc (hons) Psychology degree. I couldn’t believe it.

I started working and write about psychological issues, mental health and well-being and upped my walking activity to get a bit fitter. Healthy body, healthy mind, etc. I then started to walk a bit faster and in May 2016 ran a local 5k race without telling a soul. Doubting myself again, as many of us do, but I finished it to my utter amazement! It inspired me to run a little further, and the weight started to come off for first time in years. I really struggle with my weight and the menopause doesn’t help!

11 months later I ran the London Marathon, finished, got a medal and was in total shock. Aged 52 I had only taken up running 11 months earlier.

I then started a Masters of Clinical science age 53 and graduated from that two years later. A few days ago I was lucky enough to be presented with my Master of Science degree by the wonderful Gyles Brandreth. To top it off two amazing actresses – Patricia Routledge (90) and Joanna Lumley (72) were receiving their honorary doctorates at the same time. It really was an absolutely fabulous day!

I’m now a professional psychotherapist, health and well-being advisor and guest writer for the wonderful CountryWives’ community run by the inspiring duo Annabel and Grace. It’s a career that I thoroughly enjoy.

If you had told me 12 years ago that this was where I would end up, after walking in the night school class to be shown how to send an email, I would never have believed you. But more than that, I would have found the whole experience just too daunting and would never have started the journey.

My very best advice to everyone out there considering any change in life is “Small steps BIG CHANGES”

It’s the smallest of action that can lead to enormous changes in life. Who knows where it will take you, who knows who will inspire you along the way? The important thing is to take that first step. Even if you have been reluctant to venture out recently, try going for a short walk in the countryside with a friend (or alone with a pet if you have one) – the fresh air and nature will make you feel so much better!

Have a wonderful week ladies and remember “Small steps, BIG CHANGES!”

If you would like to read Lesley’s post on mindfulness, please click here