Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Pursuit of Happiness

According to government research, the recipe for human happiness has three ingredients, “meaning, mastery and autonomy” and as I take a moment to evaluate my position and make plans for the coming week, I realise how fortunate I have been to have had the perfect blend of all three attributes throughout the summer months. This period of respite has been largely due to the fact the Financial Ombudsman’s Service has been investigating my case against HBOS throughout July and August leaving me a very welcome period of thumb twiddling on the debt fighting front.  

Now that autumnal high winds have replaced gentle summer breezes and a week of the school term is already under our belts, I am aware the time has come to pick up the proverbial baton once again.  Hoping, in the words of  Rich Dad, Poor Dad author, Robert Kiyosaki, “the size of my success is measured only by the strength of my desire; the size of my dream; and the way in which I handle disappointment along the way”, I have endeavoured to,

·        Restore order to the homely chaos that goes hand in hand with having three children, and frequently several grandchildren, at home over the school holidays.

·        Kick start the Friends of the school’s schedule for the coming year by ensuring I can answer a whole plethora of questions my fellow committee members do not yet know they wish to ask.

·        Encourage a sense of urgency in my teenage son for the completion of his university application form, personal statement and campus visits.

·        Embark on all manner of lodger related cleaning and furniture moving in anticipation of the arrival of a new tenant.

·        Mount an attack, with the help of my invaluable friend Chris, on the pile of debt and Ombudsman related paperwork which has been waiting for some child free time to induce clarity of mind


·        Research scholarships and bursaries for September 2012 in an effort to secure my daughter’s education in an independent senior school.

Although each and every task carries a unique demand on my ever expanding need for expertise, the hurdle of my daughter’s ongoing schooling has consumed me with an over whelming sense of trepidation not least because, in the case of  bursary assistance, the all important autonomy is most definitely the province of the bursary provider.  In order to explore the chances of securing funding, not only will I have to suffer the indignity of repeatedly disclosing the gory details of my current financial position and aggravate old wounds which are still struggling to heal, but in addition to laying myself bare, I must then listen attentively to the answers I will receive.  Sadly, experience dictates, not everyone wishes they could help.

Over the past three years I have been told by people working within the independent sector,

·        Embarking on the education of my children in a fee paying school, without having secured funding for its completion may well result in them being irreversibly damaged psychologically should they have to leave and enter the state sector before their education is complete.

·        Allowing my children to mix with the those of superior affluence during their school years could cripple their self-esteem for life.

·        Procuring bursaries for the independent education of my children when my husband is unable to repay his business debts is not a lifestyle choice  that endears bursary support.

·        Accepting an independent school place with financial assistance yet without the means with which to fund extracurricular lessons and extracurricular school trips will leave my children feeling ostracised and second rate citizens throughout their educational years.

·        Keeping my children in their prep school increases the risk of the devastating effects of  bullying if they return to the state sector should I be unsuccessful in securing an ongoing bursary funded place for secondary education.

Needless to say these comments all came from schools declining bursary assistance for my daughter because they made a personal judgement about our indebtedness. Thankfully, however, there are also individuals working within the independent sector who, on hearing my sorry tale, appear to have thought, “There, but for the grace of God go I” and it is from these people I have heard the following words of kindness,

·        Bursary and scholarship places are a fundamental part of the Independent Educational Sector and not only do they facilitate the charitable status of these schools but they provide a valuable opportunity to offer education to a broad socioeconomic group.  Bursaries are designed to aid people in your circumstances and it delights us to be able to help.

·        Your daughter will greatly benefit from what we have to offer and would undoubtedly be a credit to our school.  For these reasons we look forward to having an opportunity to help.

·        We are in the fortunate position of being able to offer charitable funding to assist people suffering financial hardship and are very sorry to hear about your difficulties. We are happy to help and hope your financial position improves very soon.

Hoping, this time, when I embark on my bursary quest the size of my success will be measured only by,

·         the strength of my desire to find independent education for my daughter,

·         the size of my dream and not the size of my purse


·        the way in which I have handled disappointment and social prejudice along the way,

I made the decision to approach my daughter’s current prep school Head with my dilemma.

To my great relief, not only has he suggested which school I should consider for her but he has also assured me that his personal introduction, extolling the virtues of my daughter’s caring disposition, integrity and scholarly application in all her endeavours, will make her a very attractive and bursary worthy prospective student. His selfless commitment to support me in this matter has instantly restored the autonomy I lacked in the pursuit of my daughter’s educational happiness while providing me with a welcome opportunity to preserve my dignity from further extremely uncomfortable and degrading assaults.

 For this simple act of kindness and gift of human happiness I am truly grateful.

Ernest Hemingway once said, “ In order to write about life, first you must live it,” while William Wordsworth  insists one should “fill the page with the breathing’s of your heart.”  Ever hopeful that I may have succeeded in achieving both I can only conclude that for me finding a bursary for my daughter and writing my blog have proved to have much in common.  The words of newspaper columnist Walter Wesley “Red” Smith describe the process perfectly.

 “Writing is easy. You simple sit down at your type writer, open a vein and bleed.”

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