This is an excerpt from a speech I gave at a tea not long ago.

I have built, through my life experiences, a toolkit – the #MyLifeToolkit. I often open it and find the appropriate tool – sometimes after trying one or two others first. I love #MyLifeToolkit. It’s blue, with fold-out shelves. And it’s growing – more tools being added all the time. I’m only 62 – I still have a lot of learning to do!

This excerpt focuses on Tool Number 3 in the #MyLifeToolkit : Find the Good in Every Bad. It’s an entirely personal reflection. You will have similar stories. ☺

“Everything happens with a reason – there is a greater purpose to everything. Most often the purpose is elusive. We don’t know it.

Especially when bad happens, the trap of victimhood and self-pity can be very real. It’s often hard to escape that. I find it hard.

About 30 years ago, I saw a therapist when I was in a state of deep depression. She advised me to find a place or a person that needed help, and to offer my help. She was adamant that, by helping others, I’d start to heal.

I wasn’t sure, at that stage, that I had any help of value to offer.

But I went through the motions. I would have to account to her at my next appointment, so I did what she suggested.

In 1982, I had given birth to my son Ryan. He was born badly deformed, and he only lived for 4 days. I never really knew him. And I never knew why he was taken from me.

I decided, in his honour, to offer to help at the Lake Farm centre for physically and mentally challenged adults.

I ended up serving in the little shop at the centre most Sundays for the next few years. And I ended up involved in Riding for the Disabled too.

I came to know and love the Lake Farm staff and the Lake Farm residents.

I came to love going to Lake Farm, to add the value that I could.

And so I found a way to make good out of the bad that was Ryan’s birth and death. I had a special bond because any one of those residents could have been my child.

What a debt I owe that therapist. I did start to heal. My depression started to lift.

I learnt so much. I learnt more about caring and reaching out than I’d ever known before. It formed the platform for my later entry into politics, and two decades dedicated to serving South Africa.

I learnt the value of making good from bad.

Over the years I’ve come to realise that there really are no mistakes.

It is as it is. Why ? I don’t know most often.

But I can try and find the lesson or the nugget that I can use to make some good from the bad. Not always straight away. But it must be done.

If I’ve experienced hardship, it equips me to help others who might be having tough times. I must put that value to use. “