13 Nov 2017

Question Time: The Biggest Challenge?

Question Time: The Biggest Challenge on vickiarcher.com

“Dealing with challenges improves with age, it has for me.


It is not easier it is simply no longer a surprise. The bank of endurance is larger and the experience greater.”


“The biggest challenge?”

My answer is, I don’t have an answer. Well, not one single answer.

Some days just waking up can be a challenge and other days we fly through life with angel wings. Challenges appear that seem insurmountable even unfathomable, but mostly the human spirit endures and we make it through if we have the help, the skills and the friendship of others to guide us. I can see dealing with challenges improves with age, it has for me; it is not easier it is simply no longer a surprise. The bank of endurance is larger and the experience greater.

What I do know is the flipside of a challenge is the success. For every ounce of hardship, there is ten times the amount of joy on the other side.

Go figure; none of it makes perfect sense.

What are some major challenges?

Children. Having children or not? If we do, we face an enormous change physically and combined with caring for them, teaching them and keeping them safe, it is only the beginning. Helping them grow as individuals, encouraging them and watching their future evolution is when the real fun starts. Helping to solve their problems or at the very least trying to show them the way through is much more demanding than I ever would have imagined. Despite the challenges, parenthood has been my biggest high and my most outstanding achievement.

Partnership. It’s not easy merging lives, living in a partnership and sharing. Whoever said sharing was an easy thing? Compromise, another tricky concept. Does anyone ever like to compromise? Come on, really, I know we have to and I am aware that it is a regular requirement for a happy partnership but sometimes I feel it weakens rather than strengthens outcomes. We are celebrating 35 years any minute and I would be telling fibs if I said it was forever perfect.  Nothing is ever perfect but when it’s right, it is worth fighting for.

Loss. The feeling of loss, however great or small, is a massive stumbling block to happiness. The challenge of loss is to learn and grow from the heartache, to go forward and make those we have lost proud of us.  I don’t believe we ever “get over” a loss but I do know we can learn to live with it. Loss shapes and defines who we are and inevitably makes us stronger. The older I am the more I am accepting of loss and the more I try to find meaning in this challenge.

Work. I think of work challenges as positive ones, if we are fulfilled by what we do. I like to set my own challenges every year, both large and small. Having goals helps us direct and grow our achievements. Why do we work so hard? The answer is simple; passion and commitment.

Commitment. Seeing something through to the end is oftentimes a challenge. It can be easier to let things slide, fade out and fall away into nothingness. Whether we are thinking big or small, about work or about relationships, putting our hands up and stepping forward is tough. It is so much less confronting to let someone else take the lead.

Responsibility. Perhaps responsibility is the ‘big boss’ of all our challenges?  If we never take responsibility we will never fail but neither will we conquer.

And the little daily challenges.

Those every day inner conflicts that muddle our mind and tease us relentlessly – the getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of another, making a dreaded phone call or facing those jobs that have been piling up forever –  are tough. In other words the challenge of what we don’t really want to do. If we always did what we wanted, would we be happier? Probably not. Perhaps facing challenges is about finding the balance?

Then there are the exciting challenges, the personal bests – for to each his own. Black ski runs, a mountain summit,  a marathon, mastering another language; the list of pleasures/personal limits is endless. Every challenge is unique to the individual.

Challenges keep us on our toes and make life compelling.  We might not always sign up, but if we do we can be certain they will change us and mostly for the better.

Let’s embrace them, xv.

VA In Your Inbox

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Taste of France

I think that doing the right thing is the biggest challenge. Often the right thing is clear cut. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes good intentions turn out wrong. Or we haven’t accurately assessed a situation. Or we aren’t really paying attention.


Some of my greatest challenges have arrived because I wasn’t paying attention… great point!
If only I could wave a magic wand and get it right always :)


thank you so much for this email/communication… indeed we are wiser and more wonderful in so many ways now , with years come more wisdom , and challenges are opportunities to practice our wisdom. I love it, as now i find completing certain “difficult communications” with people from my past , so much clearer and honest and empowering. what has been “challenging” for myself is to find other , wise, mature ( not old , nor old fashioned) , filled with aliveness persons to share /communicate ( as co equals) with. now that i feel clearer as to what my choices are , finding like minded others, has been a challenge. ( to not just compromise for company , to actually long for fulfilling encounters /sharing/conversations/life affirming inspirational kind )

Linda B

What a great topic, Vicki! I have met many challenges in my life, and have grown every time from meeting them. Your list includes many of mine; I am proud of what I’ve done in all of those areas. Currently, I would add two more challenges that I am now facing: how to decide when it is time to give up my rich but demanding work; and how to shepherd my ailing, aging parents through their last years. The latter is the big one; I am doing it, but not always happily! Dad has Alzheimer’s, and Mom has become somehow very demanding and self-centered (and is having her own memory issues.) How to honor them in this last phase of life, and make things as easy on them as possible, is a constantly moving target. I feel that I am parenting my parents, and this is not necessarily a comfortable dynamic!


For me the biggest challenge has been to do all of what you say without losing sight of “me”, of what I believe and what I want for my self; we live our life within a life and understanding that whilst not losing sight of both is how I deal with almost everything…

Mona Turner

We are not alone in our challenges in life. I agree with Anita! That, and a good dose of faith!


one of mine is graduating from undergraduate school and then received my masters in graduate school . did alot of praying. i went later on in life – glad i did it, much better off


Dear Vicki
I recall reading a feature on your beautiful talented girls in an Australian glossy. It was a couple of years ago I think but I remember how they sang your praises and said you were their role model. It was wonderful to read – as so often girls at a certain age can be trying to distance themselves from their mothers (I plead guilty at one stage in my life) – and it showed how successful you’ve been with them. It must make you very happy.
I generally enjoyed work challenges, which usually occurred on a daily basis – in different work areas over the years I used to deal with everything from what to do when a neighbouring country had a devastating cyclone; a coup was predicted; a senior Australian politician was flying into a small remote country which suffered significant problems and he’d forgotten to let us know until he was well on the way (like a call to me from Singapore airport); when, because of a refuelling strike at its destination, an overseas airline’s plane was seeking permission to re-route to land in Sydney to re-fuel before proceeding to its overseas destination etc. Or when the Minister decided he would be visiting three of the countries I was desk officer for in two-three weeks and wanted briefing and appointments etc made (I worked till midnight every week night for ten days, and weekends from 10.00am-6.00pm). – That’s just how the cookie crumbled – but the work was fascinating and I loved it.
Life challenges are not so easy – not always possible to welcome them – like serious illnesses in the family or the ageing and increasing frailty of a parent and the sadness of seeing their deterioration through strokes and other age-related illnesses. But we deal with these problems – and eventually have to let go of the sadness, pain and loss and try to remember only the good times with them.
Have a wonderful time in Morocco. Can imagine it will be an absolute delight! Pamela


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