Where’s the “good” in “goodbye”?

I was going through old cards and letters the other day as I began to put things up in my room (I’ve been very creative with command hooks. I should probably have bought shares in command hooks…). I found the last birthday card that Mum ever wrote for me (which made me cry). I also found the card my family wrote for me when I first went to uni, which has found it’s way onto my wall.

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The more I read it, the more I think it’s excellent advice for life. (I wish you could FaceTime dead people, though, but Mum was cremated and I don’t think ashes can talk).

I was wandering round a shop today when ‘No Good in Goodbye‘ came on. As it came on I was scrolling through my phone and people from my uni course began to post their results.

Admittedly I got a bit of a ‘pang’ and my mind began to race about what could have/should have/might have been.

It feels stupid because I feel incredibly lucky to be where I am right now and I’m more content with life than I have been in a long time. If I’d have stayed at uni I would most likely have become even more unwell and probably wouldn’t have finished. I wouldn’t have met some of the wonderful people I now have in my life and would have missed out on some fantastic opportunities that I’ve been granted. I probably wouln’t be blogging for Blurt, or have the job I have now (which is basically my dream job).

I’m struggling to match the ‘me’ that I am, with the ‘me’ I’ve always thought I ‘should’ be. I’ve had a few conversations in the past week or so when people have been really surprised that I did Art up to AS level and DT to A2 level. They’re really surprised that I have a bit of a creative streak (something I’m debating blogging about more…). I guess I sort of abandoned creative me, and tried to become academic. There’s nothing wrong with being academic, but I don’t think it’s really ‘me’. I’m actually not a huge fan of reading and writing, I’d much prefer to play with paint, talk to people, or design a website. I like doing and being rather than sitting and reading. I like learning through doing or talking to people.

Uni was so tied up in Mum’s illness. I didn’t notice it at the time. I didn’t really think I was any different from my peers. When I’ve gone back through cards, letters and photos, though, it’s become increasingly clear how much Mum being ill really did affect it. I can see my social life dropping off. I can see the distraction setting in. I can match photos and cards to points in Mum’s illness. We tried to keep everything as ‘normal’ as possible, but looking back  I can see how far from ‘normal’ things fell.

There is no ‘good’ in ‘goodbye’ and as each day goes by, I miss Mum more and more. There’s more I want to tell her, or ask her advice on, or just chat to her about. But maybe there is a bit of good in the bad? Maybe Mum’s illness and death and my leaving uni have forced me to reassess who I am and what I’m doing with my life, and maybe that’s no bad thing…

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Mini Film

A few weeks ago, I met with Harry from Ford On Film and one of his coursemates to film for his final piece of uni work for the year. Here is the result!

Little Things

As my life progresses I become more and more aware of the importance of appreciating the little things in life. Cliché as it might be, it improves my mood and helps me feel calm. Being someone who enjoys a bit of macro photography, I have a tendency to notice things that others sometimes miss, but lately I haven’t been finding the time to get out and about in the fresh air (blame essays…).

This week has been one of ups and downs. There have been some incredibly-exciting-squee-yay moments (like getting my first blog published on Huff Post) and some incredibly-not-so-great-meh-blergh-cry moments (like the other night). It’s been a weird one because for the past few weeks I’ve been a desk hermit; my life has revolved around waking up, essaying and sleeping. Then this week I’ve suddenly had some free time, no structure and a very long to-do list. I expected to be incredibly happy, very excited and seeing all the friends I hadn’t seen in far too long once essays were over but the reality has been different – having free time has given me chance to stop and think (never a good thing!), and I’ve felt really lost without having essays to focus on (not really complaining – I don’t particularly want any more right now but you know what I mean).

Today, after a week of a failed sleep routine, too much TV, weird food combinations and a bit too much sitting wondering what to do, I decided to sort it. Being like this doesn’t do anything but make me feel rubbish, I miss the best bits of the day, and all in all, it’s a bad plan.

After waking up too late (again), completing my morning run, writing a shopping list and doing all those other fun things, IDSC_7330edit decided to grab my camera and go on a walk. I don’t do this often enough. It feels self-indulgent and there are always others things I could (and arguably should) be doing.

I found my sunglasses (wahay, summer!), shoved on some dungarees and made it out of the door. I walked up through some fields, found some buttercups and started snapping away. It occurred to me that I wasn’t sneezing or wheezing and my legs hadn’t swelled up which was something to be majorly grateful about (modern medicine is wonderful). It was so amazing to have a gentle breeze, hear some birds, feel the grass moving in the wind and welcome a sense of peace.

A man walked past with four dogs – two spaniels and two black labs. We spent about half an hour chatting about photography and dogs. I stroked his dogs and they were so lovely, soft and affectionate. There was no agenda, no rush to be anywhere and I will probably never see this man again, but it was lovely to stop and chat for a bit.

We parted and went our separate ways, but it got me thinking; these are the things which make me happy and content. Being with people, the sunlight, dogs, my camera, the smell of a spring field. They fill me with a sense of peace and the knowledge that whatever happens in my life, these little things which will always remain. They will always welcome me back.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in my life in the next week, never mind the next few years and beyond. Hopefully I’ll graduate, I might be able to afford a house (probably not, but we can dream) and get my own dog. There’s a chance I’ll get a job (please be kind to me job market). I might meet someone who I want to spend my life with, or I might not. I’ll probably make some new friends and drift from others. Mum will probably pass away, hopefully nobody else will. The kids I’ve babysat will start taking their GCSEs and A-Levels and I’ll wonder how I got so old. There will be happy times and sad times. Times of distress, anger, joyfulness and excitement; lazy days and busy days; car trips and cycle rides. There are so many things to look forward to as well as the unavoidable difficult times.

I need to remember that though bad happens; there is also a lot of good. That even if I’ve neglected them for months on end, the fields will always welcome me back. Most importantly, if my life gets busy to the point that I don’t have time to stop and smell the seasons, it’s time to stop and revaluate things, because that is not a happy life and it’s not a life I want to live.

A Brief Part Of Life.

Last week, the young boy who inspired me to start Escape The Frame (https://www.facebook.com/EscapeTheFrame) left my Beaver group to move to Cubs. It’s a necessary, but difficult transition. I think I found it more difficult then he did!

Looking back, it’s touching to see how much he’s grown and developed in the last year. A boy who used to hide under tables and refuse to join in, looked up at me with excited eyes and told me how much he was looking forward to going to Cubs. He then assured me that he had enjoyed Beavers and said thank you he’d had a good time. He looked me in the eyes as he said this.

I’ve loved working with him for the last year. It’s been challenging at times, there have been good evenings and bad evenings, but it’s great, now, to see him being so confident. I’ll miss him asking me for my camera every week and coming to sit on my knee but he’s growing up and moving on to bigger things now. (I have been informed that his uncle bought him a camera for Christmas, so I’m expecting to be invited to one of his showcases one day!)

He’s been a major part of my life for the past year or so. If I’ve been feeling rubbish, sometimes he’ll come out with something that’ll brighten me up. I’ve felt needed and wanted and have known that I’ve been making a difference. I hope he’s felt comfortable in my presence and I hope he will continue to grow and thrive. I don’t think that I will ever forget him or his smile. I doubt he’ll remember me in a few years, but you never know.

It’s amazing how people’s paths can cross for the briefest amount of time, yet they can make such an impact on each others lives… I think that’s a really big part of what volunteering’s all about.

8 Letters.

Thank you.

It’s the time of year when people look back on the past year, look forward to the next year and contemplate their lives. It’s also the time of year where people say thank you for things that you have done for them throughout the year. I have been lucky enough to receive some wonderful thank yous this year, in the form of gifts, cards, smiles, words and emails.

As much as I love what I do (and I really, really do), I often struggle with my confidence, frequently believing that I’m not doing ‘enough’ and what I do isn’t ‘good enough’. This can lead to me feeling fairly rubbish about myself! Already, volunteering has increased my confidence massively, but it is still something I’m working through. I find it incredibly touching when people thank me for my work. So much so that it can sometimes bring me to tears (in a good way!). It helps to validate what I’ve done and reassure me that I am making a positive difference, that is my main aim, so knowing that I have achieved this aim is incredibly important to me.

It is also incredibly nice to be recognised for the hard work that you put in. It makes you feel like people have noticed what you’re doing and appreciate it. When you’re sat at home, you should be in bed and you’re filling in yet more admin work, it can sometimes make you wonder why exactly you’re doing this. But, when you see the difference you make to those around you, and when people acknowledge the work you’ve put in, it makes it all worthwhile!

You will find that most volunteers enjoy what they do and you will also find that they tend to do it because it’s something they want to do and they want to give something back to the community. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t need thanking. They do. Something as simple as a card or a text can really bring a smile to your face! It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture! Two words can make the world of difference.

It’s lovely when people bring gifts at Christmas but it’s aso equally lovely when people thank you year-round. It is incredibly imprtant to thank your volunteers, their work is invaluble and believe me, you would notice if they weren’t there! It’s 8 letters. They don’t take long to say, but I can’t stress how much of a difference they can make.

8 Letters
2 Words
1 Thank you.