Margo Ward

Founder & CEO, KidsXpress

Roles in life and work:

I am the proud Founder & CEO of KidsXpress, a specialist children’s mental health charity supporting 4 to 14 year old’s who’ve been impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences such as abuse, neglect, family violence and bereavement. A world first, our evidence-based therapy program uniquely combines the healing powers of art, music, drama and play into the therapeutic process, while our Training & Education Services help build the capacity of caregivers to better recognise and respond to children impacted by trauma. This holistic model ensures no vulnerable child is left unsupported as we work towards creating a future all children deserve.

My role in life has so many different facets to it, like most of us I guess, and I am always conscious I can get lost in titles rather than focusing on the roles. My first role was that of a daughter, and although both my parents have now passed away, I do feel the honour of living the daily life they would have wanted for me. I am the youngest of nine, aunt to 21 and great aunt to 22. I worked out recently that in my lifetime there is potential for me to be a great, great aunt, maybe even great, great, great aunt if I live to a ripe old age. The older me is not too sure how I feel about this, but today it is a role I feel lucky to have.

Through my career, I am very aware that I have played a significant role in people’s life over the years. I have been privileged to walk beside people in their most raw, fragile, vulnerable moments. The crushing blow of deceit when innocence is ripped away, the guttural loneliness of hopelessness when not living seems like a better option, the incomprehensible depth of heartbreak when a child is lost. I have paid witness to many different versions of these circumstances for so many people. The privilege of paying witness to one’s life in these times has never been lost on me. 

What are you juggling right now in your life? 

Having come face-to-face with my own mortality a few years back, I became very aware of the role stress plays on our lives, health and ultimate happiness. I realised I wasn’t juggling  life well leading up to my ill health, so to recover against all odds, I dropped or perhaps threw away some of the balls I was trying to keep in the air, mainly toxic relationships, environments and habits that didn’t serve me in living my best life.

I have reached an age where having my own children is no longer a possibility. This hurts – I had always imagined myself being a mother. I have been trying to come to terms with this for some time and to some degree haunted by the dilemma of fostering or not. I am acutely aware of the responsibility I have to children on a much larger scale, especially within the children’s mental health arena. The question I keep asking myself is, am I juggling my own need to be called Mum or am I being called to do something greater?

How do you value your time?

My first priority is now always my health and my second priority is my time. I do not believe in work/life balance. I believe in the value of creating a pendulum life swing for time. Sometimes it swings to work, sometimes family, sometimes friends, sometimes health and so on. There is a constant momentum and you have the power of controlling how long and how often it swings towards certain areas of your life. Yes, sometimes life pushes it in a certain direction but I believe the choice is still yours to stay or to swing away.

For a significant ‘0’ birthday a couple years back, I sent my dearest an invitation for the greatest gift they could afford me – their time. It was an invitation to spend time with me over the coming 12 month period. It didn’t matter if it was for coffee, a show, a weekend. Whatever it was, it had to be about time together. It was very interesting to see people’s reaction when you asked them to give up their greatest asset for you in lieu of throwing the usual themed party! Some absolutely blew me away, not because of any grand gesture but because of the more intimate connection that took place as our time together unfolded. A few found it all too hard so we found a party and decided to dance our socks off instead. As for the rest, well let’s just say I’m still waiting! I remain deeply indebted and grateful for time. For all of us, time will eventually run out.

How do you manage your time effectively?

I am super organised; I love rituals and routine. They keep me grounded and focussed on what matters. But I work at keeping it that way too. Being organised also allows me the freedom to enjoy the funny, spontaneous, adventurous opportunities too. I think because I’m not bogged down trying to deal with the struggle of mundane tasks, life just feels better.

How do you separate work and personal time

Hmmm … not sure I do! I learnt separating life into two compartments created cracks where I’d often lose my identity and authenticity. I am working on myself at the moment and determined that regardless of circumstance, environment or situation, I show up consistently as Margo, not what/who/how someone else wants me to be. I’ll be honest, it can be very difficult to live up to the persona of a charity chick sometimes. It’s also not healthy for my own emotional and mental state to constantly be open to hearing trauma. This is particularly difficult in some social settings, so I have a rule; three stories and I’m out! I do find myself in need of trivial entertainment at times and I love occasionally going off grid for a good dose of giggles and adventures with friends.

What does your support network look like?

Tight! I have my core 5-6 people who I know have my back and if the call goes out, will be there for me no matter what. I do have others I seek guidance from, for work mainly, but my main support crew know who they are and what we mean and do for each other. I have an incredible therapist who I regard as one of the most skilled therapists out there. I started seeing her professionally because of the work I do. In the past, as a therapist myself I found I could scoot around most therapeutic techniques, but not so with Megan. She sees me and I am a better person because of it.

What kind of conversations do you have with your inner voice?

Sometimes helpful, sometimes loud or quiet and sometimes darn right annoying! It’s a constant job to keep my inner critic under control, she loves to come out just before I get up on stage or go on a date! I do journal daily as a way of connecting to and tuning into my intuition. It is conversation with self that I value highly and which has set me on the right path every time.

Do you have any time saving tips for the One P community?

That we all have enough time when we know what is truly important to us. Stop trying to control the world so that nothing bad ever happens. Life is going to deliver many high and lows – it’s called living. Oh and get off the “I’m so busy” bandwagon! It feels like we are always competing to see who is busiest. Try saying, just once “Hmmm, I’m not really feeling busy” and see what reaction you get. Sure you may get a few “oh, is business not good?” questions, but after a few of these reactions you’ll start to feel like you’ve just gotten off the treadmill.  And trust me, it feels so good after a wee while you’ll believe it and then it will be reality

 

A little more about KidsXpress

KidsXpress is a charity you wish didn’t need to exist.

Many of the children who are referred to KidsXpress believe life isn’t worth living or that it’s too hard to cope with alone. A specialist trauma-focused mental health organisation, KidsXpress was established in 2005 to support children aged 4-14yrs who’ve been impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as sexual abuse, neglect, violence, bereavement and illness.

Today, KidsXpress is leading the way in early-intervention mental health support through the delivery of Expressive Therapy and Trauma-Informed Education Services for children and their caregivers. 

Facebook: @KidsXpressAustralia

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/KidsXpress

Twitter: @KidsXpressAust

 

 

 

 

 

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