Monday, 10 December 2018

I know pain - you can’t hurt me; I’ve seen defeat - you can’t stop me - Day 11

Tuesday 11th December 2018

11 was the number of the Apollo spaceflight that landed the first two people
on the moon on the 20th July 1969. To this day there are regular allegations

that the whole mission was/is a hoax with evidence such as a 'flapping flag'
and a star-free sky being used to substantiate these claims.
Today we have a very personal blog, written from the heart, by Gary Cookson. He is an HR, OD and L&D expert who runs a consultancy business, EPIC HR. Gary is a key member of the HR community and I am proud to call him my friend.

However, the most important thing in Gary's life is his family - his adored wife and four wonderful children. His eyes light up whenever he talks about them. 

Gary is a caring, brave and wonderful man. He took note of my plea for interested parties who might want to run the Advent Blog series to contact me. I really do believe that the series (and you the readers) would benefit from a fresh pair of eyes and a new focus. 

Let me tell you a bit more about Gary: his business, EPIC, helps people to Evolve, Perform, Improve and Compete. Gary himself is physically competitive - a keen sportsman, he is a regular participant in triathlons and has managed some representative sports teams. Prior to running his own business Gary worked in HR in various sectors including Housing, Education, Not-for-Profit and Public (for the DBS). Prior to HR he qualified as a secondary school teacher (teaching History). He has a way with words - he blogs on the EPIC site and you can also catch his wisdom on Twitter (his handle is @Gary_Cookson) as well as hearing him at various conferences and events throughout the year.

I a delighted that he has come forward, as I can think of few who would match him in running this series. I am quite looking forward to being a contributor...


The theme for this year’s advent blog series is Heartaches, hopes and high fives. The announcement of the theme prompted some deep reflection on my part - as per usual, my year has contained all of these in good measure, and, as usual, my blog is a personal account of this.

I’ll take them in theme order even though as I’ve planned this blog I’ve thought about things in chronological order. The quote which makes up the title of this blog is one of my favourites and comes from the ex WWE wrestler Tazz, but somehow seems appropriate here.


I’ve had a few.

My mum, who last year I said was having treatment for cancer and who I was estranged from, went into remission for part of the year but the cancer returned and she has resumed treatment. Perhaps the only good thing to have come from this is that it has helped us begin to repair our relationship.

My brother's partner, only in her early 30s, is also undergoing similar treatment and it seems out of proportion to be affecting our family like this.

My youngest son, at the time only 5 months old, was rushed into hospital for 3 days with suspected meningitis and whilst we were glad it ended up not being, it was still a serious virus and a very worrying time for us. 

My eldest daughter, now 13, decided this year that she no longer wished to live with me half the week as she had done since aged 3, and has gone full time to her mum's. Neither she nor we have any real explanation for this, but it shows no sign of changing and I’m heartbroken that someone to whom I was so close, for whom I was her hero and prince, who I loved beyond measure, can suddenly decide everything has changed for no apparent reason. I barely see or speak to her now and it’s left a massive gap in my life and heart. Worse is the effect this has on her two younger siblings, one of whom cries every time the elder daughter comes and goes, and wants nothing more than to play with her, and the younger of whom is growing up not knowing his eldest sister.

And finally I’m reminded of my own physical weaknesses. The male members of my family have a history of heart disease that strikes in their 40s. Knowing this, I’ve kept myself more fit than any other family member for a decade and had thought I might buck the trend, but there have been signs in the last year that my body thinks differently and I’m having tests to check what is going on with my heart, which aches.


I obviously remain hopeful that all the heartaches will resolve themselves but in addition to these I have the following specific hopes.

That my eldest son passes his driving test and does well in his mock A levels, giving him a clear path to University.

That my two youngest children make a successful transition into full time school and nursery respectively.

That my wife makes a successful return to work after her maternity leave ends. 

And I hope my business, EPIC, continues to grow and develop in its second year. Even though I’ve done well in year one, I would like to be able to secure more income streams and add more value to clients and be able to relax more. 

High fives

Thankfully there have been lots of these. In no particular order:

My business was set up and has exceeded my wildest dreams in terms of its success. I did it at the right time and for the right reason and that fuel has helped me do things I didn’t think possible.

My eldest son got some impressive GCSE results and even bettered my own tally. He also began to realise his potential in our main sport and began to surpass my own levels of achievement and ability (even though I had a great year myself).

I’ve seen my eldest daughter develop some real and unexpected artistic talent, previously no one in the family has possessed this.

And I’ve seen my fourth child born and grow so well, with the high five going to my wife who managed a home birth with no pain relief!


Apologies for the very personal blog but it seemed appropriate for the theme. Often this year I have focused on the heartaches as these tend to dominate one's thinking and emotions, but having a theme like this reminds me, and all of us, that life doles out heartaches, hopes and high fives in roughly equal measure, not necessarily equally in one given year but certainly across a lifetime.

One can dwell on any of these areas but remember - they’re all there and more will come in each category too.

If, like me, you’ve not had a perfect year, then maybe, like me you’ve had an average year.

And that’s neither good or bad. It’s a sign that you’re living your life.

Doing your best.

When things go well, celebrate the successes, but when things go wrong, learn from the fails and stresses.

You’re going to have more of both. Get used to it. It’s called living.


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