Bouncing is what Tiggers do best

I haven’t posted a blog for a year. It’s not that I lack ideas, but when I get into any of them, I find myself curiously bewildered about what I want to say in this polarising world where every precious word can be someone’s micro-aggression, trigger, or unsafety. 

I don’t have a global following, so what I write isn’t likely to get serious oxygen, but it’s still depressing because I’m a Tigger type — it’s in my DNA. Remember AA Milne’s excellent Winnie-the-Pooh stories? (Are we still allowed to talk about these?) Pooh fans will know that Tigger is one of the animal characters in these stories who get up to all sorts of adventures and misadventures together. Tigger — unsurprisingly a tiger — is notable for his love of bouncing, which occasionally lands him in trouble with his friends or stuck up a tree he can’t get down from without help.

As a kid, my family used to joke about my Tigger tendencies as I bounced through each day — a happy little unit with a decidedly sunny nature who sang away to herself most days on waking. Like the unfortunate Elephant’s Child in Kipling’s Just So Stories (apologies if Kipling is no longer kosher either), I have “‘satiable curiosity” and am fond of shiny new things. I strongly lean towards seeing the good side of people and situations. Somewhat irritating qualities to the less Tiggerish in demeanour it has to be said. 

My Tigger gene has generally carried me through life with the wide-eyed expectations of a child in a sweet shop, helped by a succession of stylish rose-tinted glasses. Over the last few years, though, I seem to have acquired tinges of Tigger’s perennially pessimistic, gloomy and depressed friend, Eeyore the donkey. My vivid orange Tigger stripes faded like furniture left in the sun for too long. My bounce became more of a plod, and my enthusiasm for … well … pretty much everything, like my childhood dawn chorus, muted. 

It’s easy to blame everything on COVID, but that’s a bit of a cop-out. For sure, the COVID era has felt like a plague of locusts descending on the planet, consuming everything good and decent and leaving a miasma of misery, myopia and malice in its wake. It’s been a tough time on many levels, not least for owners of small businesses like me. The ‘global pause’ also saw the cancellation of so many rites of passage that bring humans together with some degree of harmony. Time has felt one-dimensional without them. We managed to flatten the curve of chronology even though we failed with the epidemiological one — COVID remains a Spectre at our feast, and chronology for a while morphed into one of Dali’s dripping clocks. 

I can’t blame COVID for everything. I can’t blame COVID for the results of my choices, tempting though it is. I can’t blame COVID for the gap the loss of my parents has left in my heart. Equally, I can’t give COVID credit for the good things that have happened — there have been a lot of those, and I’m grateful. I also am not prepared to give COVID credit for the decision a couple of years ago to adopt my sister’s favourite mantra, “Nothing changes if nothing changes”. Working on that basis, I made changes. I took back control and stopped being victimised by the times. My mantra has long been, “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it”. I realised I’d been merely treading water and started to strike out again with renewed determination towards my treasure laden ship.

The treasure I was swimming towards was purpose. The determination to re-invent my business. It was hard-hit during the pandemic and living on life support trying to sustain an outdated business model. It needed fresh thinking, so we defined an inspiring vision that would allow our Phoenix to rise in glittering splendour from the ashes of its previous incarnation. Nearly two years to the day, this vision is becoming a reality. I’m beyond excited and proud of the way it’s all coming together. I’ve written a book drawing on my professional expertise in brand development, which is being published next month, followed by the launch of an online learning platform by the end of the year. In my high-octane quest to re-calibrate and take our business into pastures new, I’ve been gobbling up apps and digital tools like the pursuers of wellness swallow Multivits. I’ve been at the edge of my comfort zone so many times mastering a heap of stuff, but l’m loving the journey.

Nothing’s easy, but it’s much easier when your gut agrees with your choices, and my gut is entirely in sync with this direction. It will allow me to focus on the stuff I want to do and not be a hostage to the place and time demands conventional businesses traditionally dictate. I’m not getting any younger, so this is a genuine need. It’s one thing I can unconditionally thank COVID for — we’ve all learned how to do things differently, and the pandemic accelerated the shift online by at least a decade, opening new ways of working and managing work. That feels a bit like freedom to me.

So, I’m happy to say Tigger’s back, bouncing around like a young grasshopper. The world once more feels like my oyster. Time has stopped dripping away. It’s not that I don’t care about what’s going on ‘out there’; I’ve just decided to stop letting the gloom darken my little corner of it. Our species has navigated into turbulent waters, but that doesn’t mean we must drown in the maelstrom. Life with purpose has always been a higher path. It always will be. Purpose gives our lives meaning. Purpose sees off pessimism. Purpose will get us through. My current purpose will keep me bouncing forward rather than up random trees I can’t get down from. 

I’m imagining the eye rolls of my family and the people I’ve lived with as I write. But hey, if I want to sing in the morning, I’ll sing. OK???

Illustrations from Winnie-the-Pooh books by E H Shepard. These are in the public domain.