October brings dark evenings, leaves crunching under your feet and the countdown to Christmas – my kids’ favourite holiday.
The first of any month brings an opportunity to start new challenges but for reasons best left to statisticians and philosophers, October and April appear to be the months when these new challenges are most successful. I find if I start something on January 1, usually is it a dim distant memory by January 10th.
So to capitalise on the fact that I complete challenges started in October, I am setting myself five. Yes, I am using the “Go for it or go home” method.
Commonplace Book: I am the Queen of notes, I have them everywhere, quotes I like, paragraphs from books I have read so I am putting them all in one place. Ryan Holidays has written a great post about How and Why to keep a Commonplace Book and this has inspired me to do the same. I love the idea of a journey of my reading, life and inspiration in one place. I also like the idea of being able to go back and use the quotes and passages as inspiration for posts.
Bullet Journal: This is something I started earlier this year and to be honest, I dipped in and out of it over the summer but last month, I got organised and starting using it properly and what a difference it made. If you have not had the pleasure of bullet journalling, then I would strongly recommend it. If you have to do lists everywhere, have tried every app or procedure (Getting Things Done, etc) but have not quite got there, then give this a shot. You can personalise as much as you like but this has definitely made life easier for me.
Health and Fitness: Twelve weeks today is Christmas Eve. Christmas brings parties and party clothes and whether you are currently a size 8 or a size 18, parties always bring out a dread in many women – what shall I wear, will I look ok? So in twelve weeks, you have chance to tone up some of those flabby bits or you can start a healthy eating plan. I always put off these things until tomorrow, so I am starting today.
Declutter my home: A Bowl of Lemons is running a 31 day Purge of your home in October. You can follow the blog or follow them on Facebook or Instagram. Today is purging pantry cupboards so wish me luck.
And my number one challenge for October?
To try and achieve this state of mind. Wish me luck!
So, what challenges can you start in October?
If none of my challenges appeal, what about some of the national challenges? You would have to be living in the middle of the Amazon with no method of communication to have missed them.
Stoptober: A challenge to quit smoking for 28 days. This is being supported with an app, tweets, Facebook, emails and other regular updates to support smokers to stop in October. The theory is if you stop smoking for 28 days, it will be make it five times easier to quit for good.
The app is definitely worth downloading, it’s free and some great tips in there.
Are you having a go?
Go Sober: Taking a month off the booze can have many potential benefits. Just imagine what you could achieve without a hangover! This is being organised by MacMillan Cancer support as a fundraising campaign
Have you tried this before? I have to say I don’t drink enough for this to be a real challenge. I like a glass of wine but I had a dry September, not by design, I didn’t plan that, it just happened.
Good luck with any challenge you decide to take on in October.
There was a little girl
There was a little girl,Who had a little curl,Right in the middle of her forehead.When she was good,She was very good indeed,But when she was bad she was horrid.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” - Maya Angelou
Most of us did not chose to live in this community, we were dropped into it. Dropped in from a great height, very quickly, with no warning and no safety net or soft landing
We eventually start to find our feet, although most of us probably fell back down on a number of occasions and, as my son would say, many of us have probably said more than a few naughty words during this time.
Some of us would be given the “Welcome to Holland” poem or be told “God only gives special children to special people” by those who meant well or those who didn’t know what else to say. Some of us would appreciate it, some of us would quite happily have shot the messenger.
We would learn the jargon we thought we needed, only to go into another meeting and hear yet more new acronyms.
We would have total strangers in our homes, advising us how best to have our child eat, sit, walk, talk and we would feel, on more than one occasion, that we were just useless and our poor child was so unlucky to have drawn you as their parent.
We would learn to navigate a system, that is, at best, difficult or at worst, not fit for purpose.
We would complete pages of forms explaining at length the things our child couldn’t do, how they were lacking in their own ability.
We would also sit in meetings with practitioners discussing our child’s development, or lack thereof, often with the very child having to sit in the same room.
All of this just seems par for the course and we accept it. However, the one thing that continues to amaze me is the fact that so much of our strife and stress comes not from practitioners and poor systems, but from other fellow-parents or from those who are supposedly there to support us – those who should know better – not working together or judging us.
Recently, there was an amazing social media campaign: 107 days – Justice for LB. The one thing I loved most about this campaign was the absolute solidarity it created. Everyone stood with LB’s family and supported them. Everyone was working together towards the same goal. I felt proud to be part of that amazing Community. We all left egos at the door, politics and personalities didn’t matter; everyone just wanted to get on board and work together.
Then the campaign finished, making some great achievements in the process, but with it went that feeling of togetherness and a true team. We have quickly reverted back to making it about ourselves and how these thing affect us rather than thinking “wow, we managed to achieve some great things together, what next?”
Sadly, we appear to be heading back to “every man for himself” and not “we’re in this together”. As a mum of three children with SEN/Disabilities, I know the challenges that we face and how difficult it can be to think of the bigger picture when we are fighting for our child but I know that if I want things to improve for my children, it has to improve for all children, or we will continue to have a system that works only for those who shout the loudest. I am absolutely exhausted from all the legislation I have had to read and comprehend, I am emotionally drained from all the appeals and battles we have had and I am frustrated beyond belief when I have to spend time being “advocate/secretary” when I want to spend that time being “mum”.
My children will be young people one day and I know from the Justice for LB campaign and Mark Neary’s Love, Belief and Balls blog the difficulties that may lay ahead. As difficult as it to read some of their experiences and as much as I would love to believe it could never happen to us, I know that sadly if we don’t stand together now to make it better, then it really could happen to us, and it could happen to you. I am grateful that they have taken the time to share their stories because they are stories we need to hear. There are many stories out there and we need to do something together to stop these stories being repeated in the future.
Bringing Us Together has launched a concept of “Mastermind groups“. People with similar interests, working together towards the same goals.
However, I am not arrogant enough to think that everyone would want to work with us at Bringing Us Together, nor do I think it should be the only option. In the same way that our children and young people do not fit in just one box, neither do we.
- Some of us like Facebook to stay involved, some of us hate Facebook;
- some of us use Twitter, some of us just don’t get it;
- some of us love on-line forums, some of us find them quite “cliquey”
- some of us are involved with local support groups, some of us would rather not;
- some of us are involved in parent carer forums, some of us dislike even the idea of them;
- some of us read blogs and respond to questions and surveys on there, some of us find that eats away at our data package.
We are all different and we all have something to offer. We can all get involved in making a difference but we have to work together for this to be effective. Being told that the only way you can make a difference is by taking one route takes away our choice so we don’t engage. We need creativity and new ideas/suggestions and more importantly, we need to learn that we don’t all have to be in charge to make a difference, we can achieve more as part of a great team.
When we work independently, we are duplicating the work, coming up with the same results and getting exhausted. Then guess what? Nothing changes. No one wins.
The Justice for LB campaign showed us it is possible to do it. So, think about how you could make a difference. Then think about what you would like to change. Then find a team that works for you and share their progress with others.
I lost an amazing friend who has been part of my life for over 20 years. He was the type of friend everyone should have. My life was certainly richer for knowing him.
Who was Jeremy?
A friend who didn’t judge.
A friend who helped put me back together when relationships failed.
A friend who made me laugh more than any other person.
A friend who made me laugh with just one word or one look.
A friend who knew how to have fun and party.
A friend who would dress up as a Gypsy fortune teller at company’s parties
A friend who spent hours making a papier mache Island for a company party with each member of staff having something on there named after them. I had “Swindley’s Peaks” for fairly obvious reasons.
A friend who would give up his bed for his guests
A friend who would leave Action Man figures in his bed so you didn’t feel lonely or bad about having no boyfriend
A friend who holidayed with me (before children)
A friend who loved that the Turkish cafe owner asked him was he “happy” and did he like other “happy” men?
A friend who happily line-danced with the over 70’s in the bar
A friend who loved charity shops and bargains
A friend who loved music from every era
A friend who knew more about the history of this country than any history teacher I had ever had
A friend who made history come to life
A friend who researched his family tree and was determined to find that we were related somehow – he was adamant he looked too much like my Dad for us not to be related.
A friend who shouted “D H Darling” whenever you left the room to get anything. D H = Do Hurry.
A friend who took me into a gay bar and insisted on calling me Lesley Ann.
A friend who left messages on my ansaphone which started “you’re probably under a sweaty lorry driver” – when he hadn’t realised that my mum was visiting.
A friend who assured me I could still do handstands in my 30’s after a few drinks – I really couldn’t
A friend who believed in Narnia.
A friend who brought a bag with his drill to work instead of a bag with his lunch – we were never sure how heavy his lunch must be
A friend who organised my hen night and turned his home into “Aspland Manor” for a weekend.
A friend who organised top hat and tails for the men at the hen night.
A friend who dieted more than I did before my wedding as he had to give his measurements for a kilt he had to wear
A friend who worried for weeks about what to wear under the kilt
A friend who gave a Best Man’s speech at my wedding that shared the real you with my friends and family
A friend who was proud of what I achieved in my career
A friend who was so proud of my family and all their differences
A friend who asked if I was sure my daughter was mine when he first met her – because she was so pretty
A friend who made me realise I had to celebrate what I had achieved rather than focussing on what I hadn’t.
The list could on for a long time.
Jeremy was Jem. Jem by name and a Gem by nature. He was one of life’s good guys and was loved by so many. He was someone I am totally honoured to have called my friend.
I will miss him everyday.
RIP my beautiful friend. I hope you find the peace you need.
Jeremy Ian Jones
03.12.58 – 12.07.14