Earlier this month, Brodies hosted its Enlightened Thinking webinar Life and Limb: For those who might say 'can't', a reminder that with challenge comes opportunity with mountaineer and motivational speaker, Jamie Andrew.
In 1999, Jamie and his best friend, Jamie Fisher, spent five days hunkered down on Les Droites in the French Alps, having been caught in a terrible storm after completing the North Face. Jamie F sadly lost his life due to hypothermia, and Jamie A's life hung in the balance.
With life-changing frostbite to his limbs and subsequent blood poisoning to contend with, together with dealing with losing his friend, Jamie’s story is one of strength and resilience. The frostbite took his hands and feet, leaving him a quadruple amputee, but it wasn't just the physical recovery he had to deal with – it was also mental.
As a family solicitor, parts of Jamie's speech rang true with me. It sounds silly – what on earth could mountaineering and family law have in common?! – but hear me out. Two things Jamie said stuck with me:-
- He knew he wasn't facing the road to recovery alone; and
- His recovery didn't have to be one big challenge. Instead, he broke it down into a series of smaller, achievable goals.
Take Point 1.
If you are going through the separation process, remember you are not alone. Jamie relied on the mountain rescue team, doctors and nurses, physios, his prosthetic technician and his friends and family. You can rely on a solicitor, a financial adviser, a divorce coach, a counsellor, support groups and of course, your friends and family. The support may come from different people, but the idea is the same. Work as a team to make progress. Care, love and advice is readily available – just be open to it.
Now Point 2.
Jamie realised that he wasn't going to be back on the mountains anytime soon after the incident. He knew that, for his own mental health, he had to break things down into bite-size, achievable tasks that he could work his way through.
One day in Chamonix hospital, Jamie set himself the challenge of brushing his own teeth. No mean feat for you or me, but doing it with no hands?! And he did.
Within three months, he was standing on his new prosthetic legs and re-learning how to walk.
Within four months, he climbed Blackford Hill in Edinburgh.
Within six months, he was running again and completed the London Marathon in 2001.
By May 2006, Jamie and his wife Anna had a little girl and twins. Children brought their own challenges – changing nappies with your teeth?! Kudos Jamie.
When you're rebuilding your life, whether because of a physical accident or a relationship breakdown, winning back your self-esteem and independence is vital. It will take time, it will be hard and at times, you'll want to give up.
As Jamie said, it's important to focus on and be grateful for what you have. While that is hard in the seemingly never-ending darkness, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
It won't all be easy. There will inevitably be setbacks, but the way you handle them will shape you – for the better or the worse. It's your choice which one. Never underestimate the power of counting to 10!
In August 2016, Jamie climbed 4478m to the top of Matterhorn in Zermatt. This had been a personal challenge of his for years and reaching the summit gave him a huge sense of achievement.
Now, I'm not asking you to hop on a plane to Switzerland and run up a mountain, but what would be your Matterhorn? Setting up a new home for you and your children? Learning how to budget? Having a better understanding of your finances? Achieving financial independence from your spouse?
If you haven't done so already, I'd encourage you to watch Jamie's webinar in full.