Category Archives: Taking Stock

This Country Is A Mess

There, I have finally said it.   Those who know me will know that isn’t an unusual statement from me, but I tend to keep those sorts of comments to private conversations.  Now and then I’ll share a link on facebook that will hint at my frustration for this country (UK) but more often than not, I keep silent.    But my silence is starting to weigh on my conscience.  I do believe that you are guilty if knowingly say nothing when things are obviously not right, and I have had enough of saying nothing.   Perhaps the biggest reason for saying nothing is that I do not have a solution to the problems we face.  At least, I know I can’t change anything over night.

What I can do is make small changes and improvements to our lives as citizens of the United Kingdom (soon to not be so united if Scotland get their independence.)  What I can do is calmly (cough) and systematically work through all the issues and wrongs that are connected to us as a family unit.  What I can do is improve our status, while being mindful of those around us.  What I can do, when the time comes, is be a good employer who pays an honest wage and provides decent working conditions.   What I can do is encourage my children to work hard and well at whatever they choose to do.  What I can do is ensure I pay the right taxes for my income.  Will any of these steps make a difference? Well, they will and do to my immediate circle.  And it can only be through these small steps that we make a difference and generate a positive impact.    If I were to throw my hands up and give up trying to make life better then I would have to accept unconditionally all that is thrown at me.  No complaints. And I just can’t do that.


I am Late!

Possibly one of the most irritating (but conversely, soothing) things about learning differences is how much of a stickler you need to be to get through your day.  For me, it’s time keeping.  I cannot function without some sort of timepiece.   I was able to tell the time well, before I could read.  I plan journeys to the minute.  And as for being late…no, just NO!

This morning I woke up to the sound of my phone informing me of an incoming text at 6:40am, and on seeing the time I groaned at the prospect of losing almost an hour of my morning.   Not only do I like to keep time, I also like to get up early and start my day in the blissful morning peace, with the darkness beyond the window as my companion, and if possible, before the birds wake up.

So, I didn’t quite manage to get everything I wanted to do before the kids and birds were up this morning, and I am still trying to catch up!    Tidying up my office space isn’t on the cards, so this is pretty much my space as of 4 minutes ago.   I am very blessed to have such a great space to write and work in.  And, this is one of two great spaces I have!   My studio space is just as wonderful.

Studio space photo really does need updating!  This photo was taken just before I gave the presentation I had to give to join the art group.  It is a lovely place to work…although this space looks rather bare! Doesn’t look like that now.   Maybe a studio tour post will be worth doing at some point in the future?

However! I digress!  Another thing that is good at eating up my time is getting side-tracked and distracted – I am a bit of a magpie for that, which is probably why time is so important as it serves to remind me to get back on the ‘right’ path!

And today I am writing my business plan…yeah, right 😉

When Everything Changes.

I have just realised my new year starts at a slightly different point than that standard 1st of January.  Or the changeable Chinese New Year (31st of January this year).  It actually dawns of the 10th of January, tomorrow.   Along with my own new year date comes a taking of stock and a nod to wear I’ve been and how far I have come, and we have come.   As my new year of the 10th of January only started 6 years ago, it is still fairly new, and yet in that time I have:

  • Moved house twice, including clearing, packing, organising, unpacking, etc, etc etc, the whole thing.  The first time my eldest was 14 and youngest was 5.  The second time my eldest was 18 and youngest was 9 – second time was much easier! Both moves were down sizes, so both required huge clear-outs.  Loved both moves.
  • Learnt to drive.  Took me a year and one failed test.  It is still one of my most favourite achievements to date (after having kids that is).  Bought my first car.
  • Went back into education.  Firstly just one morning a week, then full time university for 4 years.  Loved every minute of it.
  • Got divorced.  I can’t say I celebrate this, but it is notable nonetheless.
  • Completed the Race for Life.  Epic wonderfulness.
  • Stood up to one local authority, and won.  Shouldn’t have had to do it in the first place, but given that I did, I am so proud I managed it.
  • ‘Diagnosed’ with Dyslexia.  This is here as, after I recovered from the shock of it and stopped being angry with everyone (and myself) for not noticing sooner (I was 41 when it was ‘discovered’), I embraced the difference fully and started to understand my coping mechanisms.  Two of my children are also Dyslexic, so we share tips and understanding.
  • Graduated with a 2:1 in Fine Art. Say no more.
  • Became a student representative and was nominated for Faculty rep of the year.  Loved that too.
  • Learnt to love public speaking.  Now, if you had known me 6 years ago at this point I could barely caste my gaze off the ground, so to be able to stand in front of a room full of people and debate the merits of employment education, give talks on artists, debate with lecturers about the strengths of another’s work, etc, well, let’s say, you wouldn’t recognise me.
  • Gave a presentation that enabled me to join the artist group I am now with. This is my future.
  • Taken part in and/or co-organised 5 exhibitions in the last year.
  • Found myself. I didn’t know I was lost till I discovered myself.  This is a good thing, although I think age has turned me into a bit of a gobshite at times.  Tough.
  • Had therapy.  Fabulous stuff.  If you are willing to work hard on yourself, this is so worth it.
  • Discovered my ‘other’ side.  The bit that makes me special. 😀
  • Got a paid job, and another voluntary one.
  • Rekindled and maintained my relationship with my father.
  • Found love – couldn’t find it elsewhere until I learnt to love myself again.


And many many more things, this list seems tiny compared to what I have achieved, but this is perhaps the most palatable (for want of a better word) and publishable.  This list is not in any particular order.  So, it has been a busy 6 years.   Here’s to the next six!


Ok I am the first to admit I am a routine junky.  In part it is because I am a parent, but most of it is to do with learning differences and the coping strategies I have put in place to help me function ‘normally’.   You know those people who have post its all over the place to remind them of things? Well, that’s the same sort of thing, except for me I need all my ‘post its’ to be in one or two very safe places.   I am, by difference, a very organised person, but still prone to leaving keys/purse/boots/phone in unusually random places, despite each of these items having a very specific home.

So, today I am playing catch up as my weekend’s organisation was slightly (very) thwarted by an arrangement I wasn’t aware of yesterday.  People who know me well will know I need to be very clear about arrangements, and may well ask for the same details in a number of different ways, just to ensure my brain has processed it all correctly (my youngest daughter and son are both just the same, which can be frustrating for those who get fed up with the being asked for the same information over and over again).  So, a passing suggestion will remain so until I have digested it, talked about it, mulled it over, and agreed to it.   So, this passing suggestion happened yesterday, and it was a lovely day for it, even though it messed up my OCD type organisation for the weekend.   See, even I can cope with changes! Most of the time.

What brought me to mention this was a question I have been asked ‘How do you cope with time away from your favourite person?’  Well, that’s something I do on a daily basis, so actually thinking about how I cope means a trip back to the days of old when I learnt how to deal with those sorts of separations.   I am talking about my children of course.   So, each time one of them started school I have had to deal with a new form of ‘missing’ to cope with that particular person.   As they are all different, they have all required a slightly adaption to the change, usually brought on by their own adaption to the change.   My youngest son found leaving me very difficult so there were plenty of tears to deal with, whereas my middle son, after the first day or two, walked off without batting an eyelid.   Needless to say, I found it harder to cope with my youngest son’s misery, than my middle son’s delight at new adventure.

Now we are all dab hands at saying good-bye in the morning, and there are no more tears, although having a houseful of teenagers means there are lots of bleary eyes and moans.  But they’re old enough to know I’ll give them the usual ‘maybe you need to go to bed earlier/get your homework done sooner/eat something sensible for breakfast’ as lets face it, you can’t really tell teenagers anything.  It doesn’t mean I don’t miss them, as I still do, it just means I have got used to being apart from them.  That time will carry on increasing as they get older and move away from home, but I am sure I will always miss them, no matter where they are, and how long they are away for.  But oh imagine the peace…and the tidiness…every cloud has a silver lining. 😉

I Can’t Get No Sleep.

I lied.  But I am an insomniac.  So last night’s 8 hours straight is something that doesn’t happen very often, and today I am feeling slightly shell-shocked and more than a little bleary-eyed, but pleasantly well rested.

So, if life were a song, which song would yours be?

Faithless’ Insomnia did spring to mind first as it was the last track I listened to last night while traveling to pick my son up from work at 10pm.  I don’t usually pick him up but mistimed puncture put an end to his usual mode of transport so yesterday saw me doing a mad dash back home to pick him up, take him to work, then, with my eldest daughter in tow, we stood and looked at the bunny rabbits in the local pet shop/store for ages before walking away.   I do feel a furry creature is on the plan for this year, I just don’t really know what or when yet.   Anyway, I digress!  Song!

Well, Insomnia is great one for me.  But I am aspiring to another even older track that is going to be my song for the moment, Kiki Dee’s ‘Star’ from 1981…1981! For anyone old enough to remember that one, I salute you!  Actually, are there many bloggers in their 40’s?  A curious mind would like to know…

Resolutions Are Not Just For The New Year.

“What’s your new year’s resolution?”  How many times do you hear that at the end of one year, into the beginning of the next?   Interesting as I don’t think I have ever been asked “How successful was last year’s resolution?” Which to me is probably a far more important question as so many of us manage our amazing new year resolve into just about the first week of February.

So, how successful was your resolution for last year?

Mine was amazingly successful, as it always is, but then my resolution is always the same “I promise to make this the only resolution I make this year” and it works every time.   It is an important resolution to me as I strive to improve and maintain all areas of my life, constantly, 365 days a year.  I am a sponge for knowledge and information so I don’t need to promise to learn something new.   I eat sensibly (although I will admit sensible has gone out of the window this Christmas, but as soon as the decorations are down, and everything gets back to ‘normal’, so the eating does too, as always.)  I am always busy, which is why I make time to meditate.  I live in moderation, except for laughter which is something I have in great abundance.   I have passions, plans, wishes, dreams and all the other things that keep us going when maybe times are a little rough.   Although they don’t stay as thought bubbles in the air, they do become part of my reality, one way or another.   But none of these things are limited to the first few weeks of the year,  in fact, in the last two weeks of 2013 I was putting new plans in place for the next venture.  My whole year is one big adventure.

Do you feel as confident about your resolution?


Day ONE.

First day of the year two thousand and fourteen and I am in WOW mode…last year was such a busy year that I am stalling myself to just think back on it and marvel at how much I achieved.   Being a single parent of five (four teenagers, one pre-teen) and finishing my full time Fine Art degree with a 2:1, as well as getting a First for my essay is just the tip of the iceberg of achievements for 2013.  Taking part in the Race for Life, landing my first paid job since having children (we are talking many many years here), joining a studio group and getting my own studio space, being nominated for Faculty Student Rep of the year, dabbling in auctioneering, hosting, public speaking, standing for election, voluntary work (although that is something I have always done), graduating, organising/co-organising and taking part in four major exhibitions, gaining my computer drivers licence as well as certificates in environmental sustainability and employment and business studies, and finally, taking the first steps to branching out into self-employment… yes, it really has been a breathtakingly wonderful year.

This year is going to continue in much the same vein and I will spend some time later, when the children are peaceful, reflecting on where this year will take me.  It will be the year of the Horse by the end of January, so we can expect a lot of good times as well as hard work ahead, so the next couple of weeks will give us a gentle run in to what will be an interesting year.   Those of us with good work/play ethics will enjoy this year very much.

We never really need an excuse to count our blessings as this is something we should do on a very regular basis.  Today I am infinitely thankful for all the lessons of last year and to all those who have shaped it into the year it was.   I look forward to much more of the same this year and can sit here and be truly thankful for every moment that is to come.