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Resourceful Shelly

Adapting as life goes by

Celebrating small victories and learning from failure…

IMG_1023I haven’t written many blogs this year… in fact I’m not sure I’ve written any.   Possibly because it has been a highly chaotic year.  Therefore, it’s not that I haven’t wanted to blog, I have but life has had other priorities. Parenting teens is proving as challenging as ever and definitely a full time job and I also started tutoring.  Tutoring is a new challenge.  I have the knowledge but teacher training experience is occurring hands on, with the comfort that I have raised and continue to raise children and we have gone through a lot educationally together.  Never underestimate the power of parenting and the valuable skills you gain.

Chaos often means growth.  Problems arise and the only way is through them (something I’ve been telling my son this year). You know you’ve stopped growing when it levels out and things move slow and you get into a comfort zone.  In my mind that’s the time to try and go up a notch as it’s all too easy to sit back and stay in safety.  When really it could be the time to expand your wings and try for better.  I kind of guess it depends upon your level of ambition.

So if like me, you have taken the leap to a new challenge or challenges this year.  Either in romance, career, hobby, home etc…  Remember that reaching out and trying new things can result in failure which isn’t bad as it gives the chance to bottom out, learn and start again.  But they could result in a victory, whether it’s a small victory towards the big victory.

Today I’m celebrating a victory.  My first student has made a massive turn around.  Not just in subject knowledge but in perseverance and enjoyment of learning.  It makes me feel good to realise I’ve helped contribute towards encouraging somebody to keep going and not stop.  This is the first step to a positive spiral upwards and I’m elated with the result.

Private tutors can often get a hard time – we’re seen as assisting pushy parents.  But I’ve seen a different side.  I see it as being a parents support, support during times that often mean both parents have to work and can’t physically fit the time in to cover everything.  There are not enough hours in the day.  I know that one too well.

Chaos means growth.  You’ve got to want better for yourself to get better for yourself.  I feel like I’m growing (gaining experience) into a good direction and that feels good.

Now back to my blogging and many writing projects.  Hopefully the start of getting it back because like I tell my students ‘You shouldn’t stop.’

 

 

Getting up and showing up… even when you don’t feel like it…

1930873_26182604247_6957_nPositive people are annoying… Right???

They get up, make the best out of bad situations, have a smile on their face and give it their best shot.

Really annoying.  Especially if you want to be just like that and wonder how you can be just like that.

But why is it that while some people can shrug off life’s challenges as blessings in disguise?  Others view the same picture through a foggy lens?

The foggy lensed person is thinking how things could be better while the other is focussing on how it could be much worse.

Perceiving how life is tough and most of the time there is truth in it.  But here’s the truth, nobody has a perfect life.  But when a person is having a rough time they may sit and compare their life to somebody else’s.  Positivity is annoying, especially when you’re experiencing a rough time. Instead of being inspired, the resentment and self-loathing kicks in.  People are human it’s natural and a lot of the time we all want what somebody else has without thinking what we have ourselves. We forget that the moment in our life is just that.  It’s a moment and things can change.  The negative thought processes then leads to gossiping, belittling what others have worked hard for or achieved. Negative actions because we don’t believe we can do it our self.

The negative, self harming thoughts that turn into negative actions are wasted emotions that block the positive energy channels from filtering through to your own life. Then indeed, we don’t get because we don’t believe.

We don’t get or attract what we want, we get and attract what we are.

But like I’ve said, we’re all human, it wouldn’t be natural to have negative emotions from time to time.  It’s natural.  What we can do is work on that negativity to turn it positive and turn our lives around.

None of us are hopeless cases.

Everybody deserves happiness and inner peace.  It’s a feeling that’s the best in the world. If you’ve been living with a black and dark cloud around you, here are some pointers to start lifting that cloud and bring a bit more sunshine back in your life:

  • Stop comparing yourself to others. Often we’re just a bunch of competitive souls and if we feel we’re not measuring up then we begin to doubt ourselves and become fearful.  Remember  you’re brilliant just as you are.  Social media can be to blame for this.  People posting pictures or sharing sections of their lives.  Always remember that is just  section of their life and their perception and that is fine. In actual fact they’re doing what social media is designed for.  Switch your perception too and you’ll have no need to compare.
  • Take time to be quiet.  Very difficult in the modern world where we are taught to multi-task to the max.  But taking time for yourself, whether it’s walking, sitting down and staring into space, pottering around a town centre on your own, walking your dog, gardening or any hobbies that allow you to drift off.  They’re good for you.  Sometimes we’re too busy for our own good.  Switch off your busyness (if you can, I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past) it’s at those switch off moments that potential solutions to your problems can come to you. Otherwise, the negative alternative are those sleepless nights when you’re churning everything around in your mind.
  • Explore and question any self limiting beliefs that you may have about yourself.  Society conditions many to think a certain way – not that way then once again, you’re less than perfect.  And with that in mind, we can be tough on ourselves, turning ourselves into our own worst enemy.  Not taking the time to really ‘love yourself’  Question, what if those thought processes are holding you back.
  • Loving yourself is as important as loving somebody else.  Often we can give others good advice on how to take care of themselves and be gentle with themselves.  We put ourselves on the back burner.  Speak to yourself like you’d speak to somebody else.
  • Keep a personal journal to write those thoughts out and be honest.  If you feel negative towards somebody or have found yourself with negative actions.  Write them down, it’s the first step to working out why you feel that way.  I can’t praise free writing enough, it’s like unburdening the soul.  You can burn the pages afterwards if you really want to ensure that nobody reads it.
  • Accepting some things you can’t control.  You can’t control another persons behaviour over you but you can control your behaviour over them.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.  That doesn’t mean be a doormat.  But it means, should you really allow them to take away your inner peace, you’re bigger than that.  Keep doing your thing.
  • Similar with circumstances.  You can’t always control your current circumstances but you can change how you view them and work upon changing them.
  • Let go.  Forgive yourself and forgive those around you.  Forgiving others doesn’t mean you have to allow them into your life but it certainly gives you peace of mind.  And really, life’s too short to be holding grudges against anybody it hurts only one person and that’s yourself.  Forgive yourself too.  Everybody is learning and making mistakes.  But yesterdays mistakes shouldn’t define or label you or take you to your future.  Each day is a new beginning.
  • Have an attitude of gratitude.  So you might not have everything in your life right at this present moment.  But you’ll have something to be grateful for.  Remember just because you haven’t got something in your life now doesn’t mean you never will.  It is always the bigger picture.

The more you practise the art of positivity the more you’ll become aware of the negativity within your life and how to change it.  Remember you can’t change everything but you can always change how you think about it.  Choose an attitude of gratitude and watch it change.

 

 

 

 

Studying as a mature student… Is it worth it?

 

11391776_1606920132858181_2293318505982797895_nA couple of years ago I graduated with an Honours Degree as a mature student.  I was immensely proud of myself as it had taken many years to achieve.  Years achieved while facing adversity that would have made many crumble, accept their lot and forget studying.  But I wanted to do it and though my adversity started midway, I just couldn’t give it up.  It was a goal and I wanted to achieve it.

All the way through I worked jobs to keep my family and my head above water and there were so many times when I wondered “What was I doing it for?”  Studying doesn’t give you the guarantees in the field of your chosen study. I wondered if I’d be labelled forever by the job I was in.  I was being told by negative people “What are you doing it for?” “Why are you pushing yourself?”  “What are you going to do with yourself, you’re getting older now.” But I just couldn’t give it up.  I just loved my subjects.

My adversity changed a lot of my initial plans as to why I was studying.  It also meant I was told off by my Specialist. “No.” She said. “No studying around working and three children.  It’s too much.” I ignored her. I’m glad I did.

I continued and eventually graduated and I can honestly say it was one of my proudest moments.  Made more special that my children were there with me.  More special knowing it had been a huge mountain to climb.

But once it was over, I felt left with a void.  Still stuck in the job that had satisfied a requirement.  Payment.  A job that fitted around school runs, an element of flexibility which ensured I got that qualification and attended every sports day, nativity play and parents evening etc… I thank my old employers for that.

But I was so disgruntled.  You see, the job, it felt like a prison sentence that I couldn’t be released from. If my circumstances had been different I could have run like the wind.  I’d worked so hard, gained so much knowledge and it wasn’t being used in my job. Plus the age of my daughter and changes in circumstances and not real hands on support meant I knew it wasn’t the right time for any major career.  I still needed a flexible job – career jobs and flexibility do not always go hand in hand.  I had this massive fear that everything I’d done and worked hard for was for nothing.  It made me quite depressed.  I’d go out of the door in the morning, show up and turn up but each day – I was looking at my shoes, just getting on with it, going through the motions.

You see, work, it’s not everything but it’s a major part in life and work for me is something that must make me feel stretched not suppressed.

I looked at every work at home opportunity to see if I could gain a bigger income over less time.  You see I always wanted to be a Writer but most of us know that Writing isn’t always the profession to make money in abundance.  It takes time.

But the at home jobs, there were clues that felt as though they just were not the right path.

Then something hit me.  I needed to leave my job but I didn’t know how.  You see when you have dependents you just can’t walk out of a job.  Then out of the blue one night I had this dream.  I can’t describe how it felt fully.  But it was a dream that I left my job and had a new job and was happy.  I woke up with dread that morning.  Thinking “Do I really have to go to work?”  Once again, thinking how I could change it.

I went to work that day and I was given redundancy.  Rather than worry.  It was like the clouds had parted.  Many shocked at my calm reaction.  A single mother of three and walking out of the door, happy to be released.  But you see.  I knew it was time for change and I knew that everything I’d learned was being wasted.  My wings had felt clipped, that was the moment of release.

You see, I wanted to be a Writer or a Teacher.  So when I walked out of that door, I told myself that I was going to find a way to do both.  Writing.  It’s difficult to make an entire good income from writing but so far from the beginning of 2016 I’m doing pretty much ok in many of the Women’s mags.  Lots of opinions flying out there and I’m on the readers panel for others, which means I’m paid for opinions.  It was a good starting block. Not to mention my book reviewing.  (I’ve not forgotten, I’ve got one in the pipeline – New Year, new start)

I’ve got a fab little job in a Museum which enables me to keep on learning and be surrounded by a subject I enjoy which is local history.  I’m meeting fabulous people who are teaching me wonderful facts.  I learn something new each time which was something I was lacking previous.

I’m typing for an author and I’m home tutoring English to teens.

I now realise and have the relief that my studying wasn’t wasted and flexible opportunities to fit around my circumstances that are fulfilling are out there.  I just needed to get into the right environments and have the chance to find them.

I no longer feel held back by a job.

Most of us work for the need of money.  But as Richard Branson says:

“Do what you love and the money will come.”

Dear Mr (Philip) Schofield… You have turned ‘This Morning’ into the new version of ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show…’

Dear Mr Schofield,

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I was always a fan of yours.  I remember running home from school to watch yourself and Gordon the Gopher.  You were fun, jolly, cheerful and always had a joke.  I loved you with brown hair, I thought you were so handsome.  Then I still loved you when you became a silver fox.

But it’s past tense.  Over the past year.  Yourself and Holly Willoughby have turned what was once a day time favourite into a new version of the Jeremy Kyle show…  Richard and Judy the nations favourite.  Judy was such a feminist and actually if she disagreed with Richard, she’d argue and set the record straight.  Compassion was there.  The lovely Denise the Agony Aunt – helping people with problems.  Helping people – help, what a lovely word when used and put into action.

I no longer watch your show.  I can’t stand the fakery of it or the fact that yourself and whoever is beside you acting as your puppet Gordon the Gopher, no longer sit and debate or give a fair story – nope, this is no longer the case.  Forgetting your privilege and forgetting your viewers.  The vast majority who will receive some sort of household benefit or if not at present might do in the future or might have done in the past.  The very people who without, you wouldn’t have a wage and you  would be sat in your underpants on benefits with your curtains closed.  You’re lucky and privileged and that is because of your audience so I think it’s time you showed a bit of respect to the people who got you there.

Like I say, I don’t watch the show.  But on waking today and feeling all positive about life and the future I then turned on my social media and you were there with your angry face!  What happened to you?  You were once so cheerful.

Deborah Hodge was in the spotlight and sat on your blue sofa in front of yourself and Davina.  Judging by her shell shocked face she got a grilling like she was being told off by a Head Teacher.  Why does your show do that?  If you want to pick on somebody when you have your back up (ie Davina) then I think it’s time you stuck somebody on the sofa with her to back her up.  From what I saw on the small clip, you did nothing but judge.

You judged an ex Teacher with four children.  She had to give up teaching which she did for many years and she gave up her profession because her partner had a break down and her children had suffered ill health.  Yet you sat on the sofa opposite her and you were angry and without compassion.

She spent benefits money on Christmas presents for her children, quite a substantial amount but actually you can’t judge, she’s paid into the system and is now in it for a good reason.

After yesterdays blog you will see that I personally don’t believe in ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ even at Christmas.  But anybody in their right mind can see that she’s trying to soften the blow to her family who were once wealthy.  I daresay as her partner has been in the Army and has left due to a breakdown that the money from benefits will more than likely have topped them up and it is their entitlement to have just that.  Just as it would be if you were to lose your job and what a great lesson that would be for you to learn.

I know I’m not the only person who disagrees with how you handled an ex Teacher and current Writer on your show.  I’ve read the hundreds of comments and people are not impressed.  I think you were looking through a lens that had obscured your view.  For a man on television you displayed lack of vision.

Making a mountain out of a molehill:

“You got your £10 Christmas bonus from your benefits and you bought two bottles of Prosecco with it, which you’re perfectly able to do.”

But then your voice it became angry as you quoted her words:

“So cheers to the tax payer for my Christmas gift…”

Most of us can see she would have said that in jest or in mocking the measly amount, she’s making the best out of a bad situation.  Let us remember, it’s not a good place to be what with austerity cuts which you never seem to discuss.  Your place of privilege seems to have removed your humour and you have forgotten, she’s been a tax payer and she’s working on being a tax payer again.  Yet you want to whinge about a £10 Christmas gift.  Twist the words that she’s proud to be on the benefits system.  Probably said because she realises the stigma out there.  I hope she gets something good from her experience on your show and as she’s a Writer, comes back at you in years to come, sits on your couch, less shell shocked and more prepared…  And talks about her successes and how her struggles, adversity and time on benefits made her and her family strong in their time in need.  Because that’s what the system is about.  Putting in when you can and taking out when you need, then putting back in when you can.

Perhaps you’d like to trade places with Deborah for say six months – see how you get on.

Yours sincerely

Resourceful Shelly

ps once upon a time I’d have ended with a kiss.

 

 

Peer pressure – the Christmas present comparisons… and it isn’t pretty!!!

46523_431591714247_385207_nMany of us as adults have this understanding.  Not enough money and we have to go without until we do.  It can often be difficult explaining this to children and as parents we can feel the frustration.  We’re doing our best and following our beliefs to get our children moving on in the world with the realisation that life isn’t about ‘Keeping up with the Jones.’  But we’ve all been children and can no doubt have that empathy with them.

It was my daughters first day back at school and she started secondary school in September.  The Primary school she went to was not about ‘Keeping up with the Jones.’  A small school with the ethos of fairness, kindness and equality. It was not ‘show offy’ in the slightest.  But she’s now at an all girls secondary, a much bigger school and the girls are all trying to find their feet.  Not quite young children anymore but not that age of independence.  They’re not teens, they’re what I class as tweens, they’re in between.  Forming their beliefs about the world around them.   And naturally one of the things that young girls and indeed boys enjoy doing is showing off to their mates about what they have and what they got for Christmas.

I read an article a while back about parents not posting pictures on social media of presents around the Christmas tree as it might make other parents feel bad.  I could see the reasoning behind it but I generally have friends who enjoy posting their children’s presents on social media and I would say that many of us are on the same wavelength with what we can and can’t provide.  Christmas is about festivities and enjoyment and no doubt if any of us were aware of our friends struggling at Christmas, we’d be mindful.  It doesn’t take much to work that out.

Children on the other hand.

I thought I’d done well to provide for three children this Christmas.  As pointed out in other blogs, it’s a struggle every year (same as for other parents) and sometimes making sure the children have a great Christmas or the best I can provide has caused burn out.  This year I was clear in my thinking.

I’ve talked in my previous blog about the struggle with teens and gadgets.  How it’s difficult to monitor screen time and have time together as a family.  Single parent family, it falls on my shoulders and my shoulders are only so wide.  I’m not complaining, I do have a boyfriend, my life is good.  But the running of my house and providing for my children that falls solely down to me, particularly as our family circumstances completely changed the end of 2014 and then completely changed again the beginning of 2016.  I found myself completely playing mum and dad.  Going from single parent to sole parent is a big change – not only do you have to deal solely with life and problems but money becomes tighter still.  And don’t forget mid-way through the year I experienced job loss.  A lot of changes in one year – I can confirm in many ways for the better.

I decided this Christmas to battle the gadgets and go for a Christmas providing for the teens and tween with presents that catered to their other hobbies and interests.  To be fair I spent less money and had much bigger piles of presents and all of them, they were happy with the presents that they got.   We had a lovely Christmas.

But my daughter went to school yesterday.

“My friend has a lot more Zoella products than me… My friend she got…”

And she started reeling off the list of presents that her friend had got, lots of expensive gadgets and designer brands!  There is no way I can compete and as an adult there is no way that I want to compete.  And to be honest when I look back to my own childhood, I’d considered that she’d done very very well…

We live in a town where we have a Foodbank and  a Toybank.  My daughter is aware but in her circle of friends she doesn’t see it.  In her young mind, she got less than her friends.

But then I started to think about the area that we live in.  The divide between the people who need the Toybank then the people who don’t and I thought about the people like myself who are the ‘just managing’ and I thought there must be more like me.  So I explained to my daughter that nobody knows a financial situation in a household, people are often working extremely hard for not huge pay and debt in the country is rife!  I started to think of the lessons we’re teaching our youngsters if we’re just managing and pushing ourselves beyond our limits to provide ‘stuff’ ‘stuff’ that depreciates in value and is often cast aside.  I’ve explained that life isn’t just about ‘stuff’ that life should be more than just that, but try explaining that to an 11 year old. An 11 year old who no doubt loves the Christmas presents she has got (one was a sewing machine) but is just feeling that peer pressure.  No doubt a couple of years down the line and she’ll have a greater understanding and appreciation of how lucky she is in many ways but right at this moment she wants an IPhone 7!  Oh and to have her hair dyed because her friend does it and to go to the nail bar for acrylics!  It won’t be happening as I’m already concerned about the rising generation of mini Kardashians – they’re 11!  I’ve talked in the past about ‘capping the wealthy’ helping the needy.  I’m reaching the conclusion that maybe children should be capped at Christmas because the competitive ‘stuff’ ‘keeping up with the Jones’ it starts young.  And it’s teaching them just that.

We got over it, life goes on, it’s always best to get the issues out as a family and talk about it.  Then my son went to school today.  He’s fourteen.  The same problem, but it wasn’t really a problem ‘my wealthy friend got..’  However, he’s that bit older and has been fortunate enough to master making his own money.  For him it was easily dealt with, he easily shrugged it off.  He’s happy with what he’s got, he’s modest enough to know he’s smart enough to make his own.  Just as I’m sure my daughter will learn in time.  In his words… “Sometimes it’s better to get a bit less in life as it makes you appreciate what you have.”  Besides he’s not bothered about ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ I guess he’s lucky enough to be the Jones…  Just as is his older brother and I know my daughter will too. I think we’d all rather be the Jones and I’m not talking about accumulating ‘Stuff.’

 

Happy New Year to you all!

 

 

 

 

 

Mumsnet advice, ruined my cake toppers… When Christmas baking sends you to tears

15621657_1803187323231460_4337851962698204881_nI like many others get this image of Christmas perfection.  Home baked goodies, Christmas cards out early and presents wrapped.  Thoughts of Christmas eve chilling out, feet up, watching tv, enjoying all of the hard work.  For me it never happens.  Though I have made Sloe Gin this year.  I’m normally wrapping presents Christmas Eve.  And as for the baking I try, I try very hard. If God loves a trier then God will love me!  I get a picture in my head of perfectly baked mince pies or cakes with perfect little swirls on the top – Instagram and Pinterest worthy.  But they never turn out like the cakes on blasted Instagram. I’d like to blame my difficult kitchen but I guess ‘a poor workman blames his tools’ But I’m an ambitious girl.  Not deterred by the birthday cakes I’ve attempted this year.  It started with my sons cake, 13226940_1716666578550202_5605386369255904797_nthen I decided to make a birthday cake for my boyfriends daughter, then I had to make one for my oldest son and now just my daughter to go before I make the decision as to whether to go back to shop bought.  The faff and the mess that I create each and every time, followed by exhaustion and a patient boyfriend who comes in to the house, just as I’m questioning my sanity in attempting to bake cakes – he’ll kindly come in and start cleaning up the mess…

So I spoke to the company ‘My Cake Toppers’ specialists in Cake Toppers.  Pre-printed designs available or you can design your own which are perfect for businesses or charity events.  They very kindly sent me some Cake Toppers.  15590355_1803187416564784_7859927405278688042_n

I opted for a Christmas design and I was delighted when they arrived.  So colourful and I set to work with my plans of creating Orange and Cranberry Muffins topped with a Cinnamon.  The sponge themselves, they were perfectly fine.  But by the time I came to ice the cakes it was dark and I’ve had problems with my kitchen tube light so I attempted to ice them in the dark.  I wasn’t patient enough to wait until the next day.

First mistake… I used Chinese Five Spice instead of Cinnamon! This has had my partner laughing for a week and he did tell the tale to his work mates who still insisted that they would eat them! Well there is only a shade difference between the spices… But not only did I stick the wrong spice into the icing, I also stuck quite an amount of it in too.

I managed to blob the icing onto the perfectly fine cakes, feeling slightly irritated that once again they didn’t resemble anything that I’ve ever seen on Instagram.  How do they do it?  I need the secret.  But I shrugged, I’m a beginner, I told myself.  You don’t need to be an expert to use Cake Toppers.  Or do you?

Second mistake…

The Cake Toppers had arrived in perfect condition.  I thought how much nicer they would be than using say… Chocolate Buttons.  Surely their decorative appearance can improve any less than perfect iced cakes?  You can be a beginner and use Cake Toppers!  Well I thought so but it proved to be wrong.  You see I’d left the cake toppers at room condition for a couple of days so peeling them off proved disastrous, they just wouldn’t peel off.  Realising that maybe it was the room temperature, keeping them stuck to the sheet of paper.  I thought maybe putting them in the freezer might harden them off.  But before I did that I decided to go on Mumsnet… Mumsnet have advice for everything and sure enough there was advice.  Stick them in the oven to harden.  So I did it.

Big mistake…

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The paper was of the plastic sort and I ended up with a  shrivelled up mess… Another tale for my boyfriend to delight in. Thanks Mumsnet…  My boyfriend now thinks I’m Bridget Jones the second! Sure enough the cake toppers which had survived did peel off easy enough.  Thankfully ‘My Cake Toppers’ had been generous and sent me several sheets so I stuck those sheets in the  freezer for 10 mins and they peeled off with ease.

So never one to give in and to show the cake toppers I continued with the Chinese Five Spice iced cakes – they were terrible!  But the Cake Toppers – very pretty.

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There is still time to order yours for your Christmas Baking.  Who eats Mince Pies anyway?

Pretty Cake Toppers from mycaketoppers.co.uk

My partner said that for Christmas he is going to buy me baking equipment so that I don’t become deterred.  I think he secretly likes me covered in icing sugar.. Which brings me onto my next blog post.  A review about a book called ‘The Elephant in the Mirror’

Hopefully once I’m through my abundance of wrapping and organising.  I can start working on plans and goals for 2017 and this is the book to offer guidance.  To get the most out of what you want out of life and to step out of your comfort zone.  Even if it means potential fail.

Tips for organising Teenagers… Motherhood = PA/Lifecoach…

15327459_1797298080487051_9116961038374384576_nI was quite an organised teenager. I pretty much organised my entire self.  My experience of my eldest son is that he too is very very organised.  So it has come as a shock to me with my second son.  Organisation is just not something he grasps and I’m not sure they teach it in schools.  Teens have a lot of distractions and organisation may not be top of their priority list.

With the start of GCSE’s it’s important to be organised.  Many of us realise that to keep on top of our workloads we need to be organised.  For the average teenager who perhaps is plodding along, they are not realising the importance that organisation brings and how it can be a positive in everything that they do.

If like me, you need to give your youngster a push in the right direction, here are my tips:

  • Talk to them about the importance of organisation and how it can be a positive in making everything so much easier.
  • If you live in a confined space and don’t have the luxury of a desk with lots of lovely storage space.  Keep a school subjects box. We have large clear plastic boxes with lids. Many parents may have experience of teens throwing work around their bedroom or starting work in one area and leaving it laying around.  Hence the school morning struggle.  It is so much easier for teens if their work is in one place, ready for when they pack their school bag.
  • We had got that far.  All of his work was in one place.  However, inside the box was a mingle of Chemistry papers with English and History.  So we moved onto the next phase.  We needed to get inside that box, organised, like a filing cabinet.
  • Colourful envelope folders.  We’ve labelled each one with each subject.  For English, we’ve got one for each component, for instance, Macbeth, Jekyll and Hyde, Creative Writing, Poetry etc… The box was instantly looking much better.
  • Inside the envelope files, date order and attach work with paperclips.  Like I’ve said, when I was a teen this came naturally.  But for many it doesn’t.
  • I’ve then asked my son to create on word a homework time table.  He has one in his planner but I’ve said it would be a good idea to see it on his bedroom wall.  Nice and clear.  He’s artistic and creative, I think the visual will help.
  • We’re armed with colourful post it notes and he has nice pens.  Post it notes for reminders to go on his wall or around his computer screen, reminders for when he becomes distracted.   I think it makes a difference to youngsters in doing their work if they enjoy working with their materials.  Again, he’s artistic so I think that makes a massive difference.  But even for those who aren’t nice pens are nice to use.
  • I’ve also invested in lots of reporters notebooks.  One for each subject and to keep inside his envelope files.  To freely write notes, especially useful for revision.
  • Lastly, we’ve created a ‘Personal Development’ folder.  This is for us at home so that we can keep information and can pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses to help him get through the next two years.  He can also keep any school letters etc… or information that he needs to hand to me.  I bet many parents have had those letters – 5 minutes before they are due to get out of the door in the morning.  I can now actually check his file for him if he forgets.

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I’ve spoken to many of his teachers who have said ‘he lacks organisation’ now rather than see this as a negative, I’m now seeing it as a positive.  It’s feedback as to what needs to improve.  And that’s the thing with motherhood, it’s a challenge each day and we have to prioritise with the demands from the day.  This is just another.  Motherhood = PA/lifecoach.  But I’m confident that the organisation is now in place to push forward from.

Isn’t it time… we capped the wealthy and their wages – introduced a maximum wage?

FullSizeRender (4)A lot of people have this dream.  The dream to shatter the glass ceiling. The path to riches.  Money going to money.  If not that they at least have this dream about winning the lottery and having no money worries ever again.  Not having to worry about the need to ever depend on the NHS or worry about if they’ll ever need any form of benefits.  All of that worry just scrapped.  It made me think about how much money we actually need to live.  How big a house we really need to live in or how expensive the clothes we need or how expensive the car we drive.  It just doesn’t seem right at the moment.  Thoughts of people going to foodbanks, toybanks to get their children Christmas presents. While the other half worry about the next big car or extortionate priced car tyre.

We have so many wealthy people and we have so many more in poverty.  The divide is huge and it’s set to get bigger with not only talks but the action of cuts to families out of work, the talks of cuts to ESA, the ongoing difficulties of trying to obtain ESA and todays announcement of further cuts to families who have a third child (wasn’t it four not too long ago?) cuts to universal credit, increase in the minimum wage.  Hooray, the minimum wage has risen, that’s great news and it really is but still not for single parent families who don’t have the option of the second wage.   It’s turbulent times and all thoughts of it have today left me feeling totally shattered.

My partner and I went to watch ‘IDaniel Blake’ last night.  Twenty four hours later and I’m still recovering from the shock.  I mean, I’m not stupid.  I said at the general election and argued with people that everything that is happening now would be happening.  But oh no I had the arguments back that it would never get that bad. I argued and insisted that you can not just dismiss children who are born, we’ll end up with workhouses, more people on the streets, more crime, more people staying in bad and abusive relationships due to poverty.  Get that bad!  IT HAS GONE BEYOND BAD and is about to get worse. The topic reached out to the very core.

There were about thirty of us in the cinema room, sat on plush comfy dentist type chairs.  All cosy and comfy with large arm rests.  Drinking coca cola and eating bags of pop corn.  Nice full belly’s.

I’m not going to give you the storyline of the film as I think you should watch it yourself.  I think everybody should watch it, in fact I think it should be compulsory viewing for all secondary school children.  Perhaps too, channel 5 might like to replace Benefits Britain with it.  The Tory party say it’s fiction.   Well they would as they’re too removed and from where I’m standing their lives are far more fictional. But like I said the other day, Art in any form is a brilliant form at showing serious subjects and I can say as a Creative Writer that a lot of research must go into writing any piece of fiction to enable it to be as close to reality as possible.  ‘IDaniel Blake’ is the genre realism not fantasy.  Even in fantasy or science fiction you will incorporate elements of realism.  But then.  What does a Politician so far removed understand?  He/she certainly do not understand the creative process.

What I will tell you from the film is that it followed a part of a hard workings mans life after he had suffered with a heart attack.  First time in his working life and going onto the benefits system.  Worked honestly all of his life for a wage but a wage which would not have set him up for great riches and retirement.  A wage that enables you to live.  In fact not just going onto the benefits system, they don’t want to make it that easy.  No.  Struggling to get onto the benefits system in the first place.  Needing to use computers, being left to struggle without the help or support and actually not getting that help or support.  It covered the unfair ESA system which is designed to break you down, so that you have to appeal and appeal again.  A man has a heart attack and he’s asked how his fingers, arms and legs are working?  I know the accuracy in that film as I too tried to claim ESA.  The questions were like that and there to trick you at every corner.  Like a man said as we walked out of the Cinema.  Why are the Drs not giving out the ESA?  They are the ones who are most qualified to say who is fit for work.  Those were words, I’d used in the past myself.  So while you’re waiting for ESA you have no choice but to go on Job Seekers, even when a Dr says you are not fit for work.

And Job Seekers let me tell you now is much harder than actual work.  I’m thirty nine years of age and in my life I’ve been on Job Seekers for four months of it.  One month under the last government and this year for three months – it wasn’t even fully Job Seekers because I was doing an element of self-employment.  Luckily I managed to get work and I have varying self employment pursuits.  I’m the lucky one.  But Job Seekers they do put you through it.  They stick you on courses even if you tell them you can do them.  I’m a writer with an English Literature Degree.  I did not need to go on CV writing courses. I’ve held jobs down for years.  I did not need to go on a ‘how to hold a job when you’ve got the job’ I’m very articulate, I did not need to go on ‘how to behave in an interview.’ I’m well dressed, I didn’t need to go on any ‘What to dress for interview courses’ If anything I think I should have been telling them to watch and learn.  But I was just a statistic.  Just a number to get off the books.  I had many humorous moments in that job centre with a lady who spoke to me like a four year old “Oh I don’t know, self employed is a difficult route…”

and I’d tell her, “I’m not stupid, have you seen my qualifications?”

Then I’d go in the next month taking in my cheques.  Then another ‘Oh I don’t know whether tutoring…’ so I went in and showed her work I’d achieved.  Like I said I was in between that 0-16 hours a week.  Even though I was barely getting a penny I had to go in and show up and prove my worth.  I even took my daughter with me once and said to her,

“See that building, once you’ve got your National Insurance number, you’re indebt to that building for the rest of your life.”

She told me it looked scary.

Luckily for me a perfect job came up that I adore to work around my self-employment activity. The day of my sign off was class.

“Well that’s such a good job you’ve got. So many people would want that job. I knew you’d get it.” She said. “Look how far you’ve come.” She patronised.

I told her straight.  “I never doubted I would, I knew the self-employment would work out.”

Then she said again, “Oh but you know, I don’t want you struggling for money.”

I replied, “You barely gave me any.”

She went on, “Well I think you’ve actually done really really well, it must give you confidence.” I think they genuinely want you to feel broken so that it makes them feel good.

So I replied, “I always had it. I knew I was right. Now in the nicest possible way, I hope I don’t see you again.”  And I walked out.

I was lucky.  To a point I felt I conducted those meetings but then again I can use computers and don’t need that sort of help. For me it was a different experience, I’m strong enough to deal with the likes of that.  For the likes of ‘IDaniel Blake’ the job centre would be a terrifying and confusing place.  Surely the likes of me who don’t need silly courses, the money could be spent on the likes of Daniel Blake and more support.  But it’s one size fits all at the Job Centre.  One size fits all.  Criminals for needing support.

There were many tears out of the thirty who were sat in the cinema.  Real wailing at times.  The film covered a part in a single mothers life.  A single mother who was shipped out of London – social cleansing.  With her two children and no family support.  Daniel Blake befriended her and helped her and her family, even gave her twenty quid when he didn’t have the money himself.  There was a point in the film where the single mother gave food to Daniel Blake and went without herself, he didn’t want to take it but you could see that she felt indebted to him for his help.  Why should she feel like that?  I asked myself.  She shouldn’t need to feel that way?  It was clear she was going hungry to feed her children.  her face going pale. I heard something silly once.  “People who go to foodbanks go because of irresponsible spending…” ummm it was made up nonsense by somebody who I know for a fact does a lot more irresponsible spending just luxury irresponsible spending. Not basic spending at all.  But that’s another tale. And I think it’s natural human instinct in many to look at what others have and not to look at what they have themselves.

Daniel Blake took the lady to the foodbank.  Lines of people waiting to go in. Just like the days of rations. And those lines will be longer.  But the true horror and when I started crying was the moment she stood in the corner at the foodbank ripping open a can of beans and pouring them onto her hands and shovelling them into her mouth.  I cried.  The cinema were crying.  The lady next to me was crying.  Those tears in that cinema restored my faith in humanity.  For all the ignorant people out there who have nice and should have nice lives (I wouldn’t begrudge anybody a nice life), perhaps looking down their noses at people not so fortunate.  There are good people who genuinely care.  Real good people.  They were all in that cinema. You can guarantee it’ll be those good people offering the charitable services.  But why should they?  It should always be down to the government to make sure people in the country are not treated like that. Not broken down to a level of starvation.  To me it makes a mockery of democracy.  How can you have democracy when half the people don’t have a clue or simply don’t want to?

The lady in the film, I could relate to.  She moved into her house with such hope for her and her children, she wanted better.  A part time job and to study with the Open University.  I was fortunate I did both.  The hope to do her house and garden up.  I was lucky I did both. She should have what I had. My landing was soft in the sense I was fed so I could take care of my children.  Hers was much harder.  You can’t achieve those goals while in starvation. I cried and I cried because I thought “that could be me.” but not just that, it shouldn’t be anybody.

The thirty of us walked out of that cinema shell shocked and we stood around the cinema talking about what we’d just seen.  You see everything in that film I knew would happen.  But I’m not going to say anymore.  It’s a must watch film.

For me, I believe that the strongest who have shattered the glass ceiling are not actually the strongest.  For me, I believe that those at the bottom are.  It’s time austerity was abolished and that those at the top took a bit more responsibility. If I could be Robin Hood I would.  You only need so much to live a good life.  And the fact you have people at the top crying if they have to lose a bit is what is wrong with the entire country.  Greed and scrounging is at the top not the bottom.  Lower the glass ceiling and close the divide.

 

 

 

Why are local theatres not packed out?

wp_20161116_19_17_00_proEach year my partner and I like to see what is showing at our local Arts Centre. The Guildhall in Grantham.  If the truth be told it’s more me that organises these sort of events but that’s purely because he’s normally busy at work.  Once I tell him what the plan is he’s more than happy to go along.  In fact, I know he enjoys it.  Enjoys the new experience.  I’m really confident that more people would enjoy local theatre but I kind of guess this day and age many are too busy looking for the next big event, the next big concert, to see what is exactly on their doorstep –  the local theatres with smaller budgets can’t easily publicise and then it appears that they are overlooked.

Last year, my partner and I watched ‘Playing Maggie’  There was probably a dozen people in the theatre.  I’m not a Tory voter myself but the town I live in is a Tory town (not calling the town.  I like the town I live in, we’re quirky with lots of history. It’s just my views tend to differ) – I expected it to be packed out.  But it wasn’t.  Again, down to lack of funds and publicizing I dare say.  I chose to go along because I always think it’s a good idea to expand your mind and look at both sides of the story. And, I wasn’t disappointed, it was a marvellous one man show.  A man playing ‘Maggie’ he was fun, he was witty and he put across both sides and my partner and I learned some relevant historical facts.  To this day I don’t know why more people were not at that show.

It always seems to be this time of year when the shows are on at our Local Theatre.  Local Theatres don’t normally just have shows from local dramatists, far from it.  ‘Playing Maggie’ was a touring show.  As was the show we went to watch this year.  ‘Getting Better Slowly.’  A tale created by a young man in his twenties who was struck down with Gullian Barre Syndrome (GBS).  One day a healthy young man, out with his friends, dancing and drinking and enjoying his life.  The next day struck down with a syndrome that started paralysing his entire body.

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I’ve spoken in the past about my own difficulties with an auto-immune disorder (complete different one).  They normally start with a virus and your immune system becomes confused.  The immune system attacks the virus, is successful in fighting that virus but once the virus has gone, your immune system is still fighting something that is no longer there.  In my case, fighting healthy joints, trying to destroy healthy joints by causing immense pain.  In his case fighting his healthy body, causing severe pain and shutting it down to the point of paralysis – how extremely frightening.   I too was in my twenties.  Although different neurological problems there was so much I could relate to during that perfomance.  His paralysis came on immediately, my own meant I was walking like a ninety year old woman and could hardly pull myself off a toilet or open a door handle.

The feelings of ‘Why me?’ I’ve eaten well, I’ve exercised, I’m not overly unhealthy in my lifestyle, I’ve worked hard, I’m a good person.  But illness doesn’t always choose who it is going to strike.  It just strikes and for some it strikes with a vengeance and suddenly. It never discriminates.

And that’s often the biggest battle and hurdle.  It certainly came across in the play.  It’s not so much your physical symptoms, it’s how you’re mentally going to deal with it, deal with the loss of what you were and fight it.  It takes an amazing amount of strength and one the actor portrayed.  The actress alongside him had never suffered but it was clear she’d put that research in to bring across a jaw dropping performance.  They oozed chemistry as she played the part of the menacing disease.  Putting him down at every hurdle and showing us exactly the points that she was going to attack.  The actor on the stage took the audience through the stages of illness and recovery.  It was moving as it was clear his tears at times were real tears.  Disease does that, once you’ve recovered, it leaves deep scars, you never forget those feelings.  The despair once it strikes, the loss of dignity as you can no longer do things by yourself – even wash or look your best.  The feelings that the disease is laughing at you straight in the face.  The feeling of wanting to be normal again.  Then the slight hope that you’re going to recover, then the feelings of anger and how you’re going to fight it.  The fight, the win, the fear it’s laying dormant – thanks to medication.  But the fear it could come back. I know that fear, I’ve fought mine twice.  Then how you view the world with fresh eyes and be happy with your lot.  Then the realisation that you can’t just be happy all of the time.  Jobs, bills have to be met.  In my case children to be provided and cared for and various other things I’m still sorting.  The feeling you have to get up and get on.  How you look normal again but inside the disease is invisible and you’re still recovering but people can’t see it.  They can’t understand the fatigue.  I understood and related to every word.

I particularly enjoyed the moment in the play when he said he’d never claimed any form of disability money.  Neither did I.  Then the moment he said “I hate Job Seekers’ and how he showed a brief part of what it is like claiming Job Seekers and the unfair system and the snooty clueless JSA staff.  The moment he said “I never claimed disability, but even if I wanted to I bet I wouldn’t get it now.” So keeping with the times particularly as we’re currently hearing about ESA payments being cut by £30 a week.  Unfair when you have the handicap of disease and discrimination to hold you back.  And you don’t want that, you just want to be normal.  Would you rather be ill and get money anyway?  Or would you rather be contributing?

The audience was bigger than ‘Playing Maggie and at the end the actor took time to sit on the stage and answer questions.  Questions about the disease, the creative process, the research.  Alongside him sat the actress and also the charity ‘Gains’ who help people with neurological illnesses.  Again, this was a charity I had not heard of and I’m sure in my darkest moments they could have offered myself great support.  They’re a charity I’m definitely going to contact.  I enjoyed his interaction with the audience.  I like writing so appreciated the information on the creative process. I’ve been ill so his talk was informative.  It was clear that many themselves had suffered with the awful syndrome or had relatives who had suffered.  Probably why during the performances many had held their breath and there were many stunned silences.  My partner held my hand throughout.  Because although he hasn’t got any type of autoimmune disease, he’s been with me through the second fight until I too ‘got better slowly’ and it is a slow process from months or in my case – years!!! He said to me at the end:

“I have greater understanding of your struggles, I’ve always tried to understand but now I have greater understanding.  You also had to do that with three children, not taking away from his story, it’s powerful and he’s strong, but you didn’t just have yourself to think about and you went through and have been through numerous other problems.  Your story is huge, you need to write it.” And I will.  Art is powerful in any form at spreading awareness.  But I replied to him:

“I’m glad I had my children because off the other side that young man might have thought in his moments of despair that all of that future would be taken away.”

Which brings me back to local theatre and date nights.  Don’t dismiss them. They’re a reasonable priced night out and before the show my partner and I looked around the art gallery at the local artists ‘Life drawing’ imagining my 14 year old son with a piece of his on display.  Slightly off the subject but please let me a share a piece of his:

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and another:

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Shared experiences are what bond people and keep your relationship moving forward.  They keep your conversations alive as opposed to standard, tv experiences and meals.  Meals are great but I bet many parents find themselves sitting talking about the children all night or work problems.  A performance like ‘Getting Better Slowly’ is enlightening, informative and engaging, but theatres are not just about that, there are many other genre of shows.  We’ll be looking forward to our next one and that’s why I don’t understand why local theatres are not always packed out.

‘Getting Better Slowly’ is touring the uk.  Please check out their website for information on locations and prices – http://www.gettingbetterslowly.com

 

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