Posted in achievement, Art, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, Environment, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Ideas, Liberation, Modern society, Personal Growth, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts, Writing

Mindfulness: the Way to Declutter your Head.

I was in a newsagents last week when I spotted a new magazine called Breathe:it was the first issue.

  This magazine is written for a growing sector of readership, just like myself,whose desire is to enhance their physical,social and mental well-being. Designed to include four aspects of living: wellbeing, mindfulness, creativeness and escapism, the magazine is beautifully presented and covers a wide range of related topics, all of which are highly interesting and fresh in presentation. I am already eager to see the next issue on sale, September 22nd and have it marked on my calender. 

But what does it say about the reading habits, especially of women, and of a movement ( gathering an ever greater momentum ) where there are now courses and qualifications for a different type of practitioner? I am talking about the subject of mindfulness, and the interest clearly is growing enough for a publisher to create a new magazine, to include this subject, to live calmer, less stressed and more meaningful lives- lived in the present moment.

For someone who has experienced anxiety and stress, sufficient to have produced depression in the past, mindfulness is helping me now in a number of ways; the main benefit being in the unclutering of the mind. This mental dejunking has had several spin offs and I would like to share those here:

It keeps my anxiety into perspective and I will only focus on a concern in the present moment. A worry about a potential, confrontational meeting, regarding a thorny issue next week, can wait until then.

It has empowered me in my relationships. I am finally shaking off the need to be liked. Believe me, this has taken me years! I can be proud of who I am and have no need to seek others approval. I recognise my own power and this power has yielded results, so that gives me more courage to be assertive. This spiral is on a trajectory of only one way which is up. This excites me.

It has helped me to think more creatively. As a result, I am now starting to doodle mindfulness scribbles and pictures. I intend to share some.

It has helped me develop new hobbies. I have taken up drawing and really enjoy it. It does not matter about the level of skill. When I draw I forget everything. The concentration of the drawing keeps me totally in the present.

As a result of drawing, I have taken up postcard colouring. This is a nice spin off. This has brought joy to my family – so much so that one has been framed. This has brought me happiness, knowing that such a simple thing can bring other people joy.

I listen more, but realise I still don’t really listen at all well. There are gaps in people’s conversations that I don’t always pick up. This has been a shock. I am tuining in more to people and can respond better to them. Challenge yourself on this next time you listen to someone. Is your mind mentally on to the next task of what to cook for dinner?

I have started meditations and have returned to a much simpler form of Christian faith which includes prayer. I am beyond astonished that how these prayers have been recently answered. I search out quiet space, churches, under skies, on my walks for these types of moments. I am grateful so much for this.

I have found time to take up blogging again and to really think about what I want to write. Words jump out of my head randomly for future blog post. In the space of my mind, a book idea and even its title is already taking shape. I just need the belief to write it now and to say I am good enough to do it.

I have uncluttered the house. This has been going on for two years now since moving and embraces the minimalist movement. I like simplicity and space. Even my clothes tastes have changed. I like minimalism and follow Joshua Becker and his minimalist blog site.

Over thinking for me has been a real problem. I think too much most of the time. This is a hard habit to break. Recycling your thoughts have a shelf-life. Sometimes, you just have to bin the trash once and for all.

So these are the main changes and observations to date and these won’t be by far the end, of that I am certain . In the meantime, I am looking forward to reading Breathe and wish the magazine every success. My close friend tells me that when you are in tune with your heartfelt desires, things like books find you. I wish I had found mindfulness years ago but am glad to have discovered it now.

Go out and find out for yourself. You might be in for a few surprises! I would like to hear what you find.

 

Posted in goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Ideas, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Up and Down over the Hurdles of Food

It’s been awhile now since my last food blogging, but I have been busy reading and learning more about what you could and should be doing to help you feel better.

You see, this has become more than just loosing some kgs. Over the course of these last few weeks, it has been striking what patterns are emerging: the cravings, the set-backs, the disappointments in will power, the up and downs of this journey, as I try to kick the sugar habit once and for all.

One truth that has been demonstrated to me over the course of this time is: if you keep your blood sugars stable by eating regularly through out the day, your need to snack on chocolate and other processed sweet things, like biscuits, is so much more under control. Hence, this is now my typical diet for the day:

Lemon and honey, first hot drink of the morning.

One shredded wheat with semi – skimmed milk. At first it had a teaspoon of honey on it, now there is none at all.Take a look at the sugar content in cereals: Wheetabix, porridge oats and cornflakes are lower than most others. Incidently, I could never stand shredded Wheat, it was like chewing tasteless string. Now I love it and it’s a great low sugar breakfast. One biscuit fills me up until 10.00 am when it is break time for me at school.

Fruit mid-morning,low glycaemic index fruit ( low carbon value) such as plums, pears and apples. Banana is the highest one I will eat, scoring at 65. Take care with bananas. I don’t eat them every day, as too many and the weight is back on.

No sandwiches for lunch. Instead Ryvita, thins or a tinned mackerel salad as examples. Anything that is a whole food, carrots, nuts, eggs, it does not matter which. It is surprising how little you need to fill you up. I treat myself to bread no more than once a week. Preparing lunch is easy. I just throw anything into my lunchbox at random. It takes five minutes.

A fruit or nut snack on the way home from work. A crucial time for me when the need to snack is strong. Nuts and seeds are great for you. Protein is good.

My usual dinner at night. Again,trying avoiding anything that is processed. I have a treat sometimes or when I am busy and don’t feel like cooking, though you soon don’t want to go down this road.

No dessert, unless it is Greek yoghurt with small dash of honey or small portion of fruit. Banana, blueberries or strawberries are nice with this. Desserts are treats when going out to dinner- though again, I often decline, they are simply becoming too sweet.

Alcohol is consumed largely only at the weekend and usually then no more than one glass per night.

Small amounts of dark chocolate after dinner, though this is now occasional. The need to eat it is becoming less and less.

Variety and colour and different food groups. Colourful foods are healthy foods, rich in different vitamins and minerals. I don’t eat low fat products- to make them taste better they are loaded with sugar,  but I avoid trans fats. I eat bacon and eggs at the weekend.

Keep portion sizes down. I have seen a lot of people trying to eat really heathy, but the masses of pasta and salad on their plate is self defeating.Accept one thing. You can’t eat the amounts you could get away with it at 30 when you are 50. It’s a fact. Learn to eat variety but less of it. You will soon get used to it, as your stomach adjusts.

I have been studying that the effects of high sugar and insulin levels affect your ability to lose weight, reduce the rate of your metabolism which gives me a small but never-the-less apple- shaped tummy. My next step is to undertake a  small piece of research on myself to see how my blood sugars individually react to certain foods and how this affects my overall weight.

Results have been slow but the progress is in the right direction. The biggest barrier is social and family get-togethers and a husband who wants to tempt you. Seriously, I would have been at my target weight by now if it wasn’t for the eating desires of those around me. It is hard to eat low carbohydrate food when you have a buffet table in front of you and Dad wants to go out for breakfast. Typically, after a trip to Lowestoft to see him, a kg is back on and it can take sometimes a week to get it off, though interestingly the time it is taking to do that is becoming less and less.

Other measures are exercise as part of lifestyle incorporation, taking the five-minute longer way around in the park to work when walking, some cycling, brisk dog walking, yoga and weight lifting for five to ten minutes in the evening. More about exercise in another post. Avoiding fruit juice, a killer to low blood sugars and take water with you to work and drink it throughout the day.

Top tip: don’t become a slave to any of it. Do it when you want to, embrace the small changes and don’t beat yourself up if you cave in, just start again.

This is no longer a chore. It’s becoming a way of life that I don’t want to change. I feel great, have more energy, better memory and I have deliberately put this last, have lost five pounds. Ideally, another five would be the icing on the cake, or for me now, a bowl of fruit…..

More to come!

Posted in achievement, Personal Growth, Philosophy, Psychology, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Nobody yet Somebody

Born as a nobody and to die as a nobody, but in between to become a somebody.
To kiss the stars,
To touch the waves,
To paint the skies,
To dance away and
To flirt with today courageously,
As a place where new beginnings flow,
And where little radiances come and go.
Little shimmers of light in the greyness of that once foggy light,
Of holes and pits of many dark night.
To be reborn as someone new, no more to be forgotten as thyself,
We strive on to be that somebody, that someone once knew, before time steals it away from us,
As we return to mere ash and dust,
A cloud,an image that defines the us.
The nobody that becomes the somebody,
That is our in-print upon this Earth,
Of Heat,
Pain,
Passion
and
Lust.

@onethoughtfulwoman Feb 2013.

Posted in achievement, Change, Debate, Development, goals, Human Rights, Ideas, Liberation, lonelyness, Modern society, Personal Growth, Skills, Sport, Thoughts

Gold or Tin: some thoughts on disability as the Paralympic Games commence.

Watched the opening of the Paralympic games last night. The theme was enlightenment and it was quite spectacular. I know this post isn’t exactly going to be original because what I am about to say, though with different words, is being said by others at present. Steve Birrell’s article in the London Evening Standard, two evenings ago, is one excellent example. We might be giving Gold to our Paralympic champions from today, but in reality many disabled people are receiving Tin. This not just in financial terms, as benefits are squeezed and assessments for Disability Living Allowances become a mile field of impossibility, but in the attitudes of people and what opportunities those with disability really do have in society.

Steve Birrell told many facts I didn’t know. However, one of them, having recently worked with a child with Special Educational Needs, stood out for me. That only one in 12 adults will learning difficulties are actually in employment. Most people know very little about the real issues of those facing disability and may have never worked with, nor had an honest conversation with them. Last night, we saw amazing and brave people flying on trip wires with limbs missing and gliding through the sky with effortless simplicity. In reality, if you are in a wheelchair you have to face the problem of sometimes to few disabled parking slots and negotiating a mind field of obstacles; of pushing crowds too busy to stop or help another disabled person. It’s amazing what you find out when you have to actually do it for yourself. You are on two legs pushing the wheelchair or trying to find the parking pace in a popular tourist attraction. You quickly come into difficulty with frustration.

The question I want to ask is, do we really care about disabled people? Ask yourself that question honestly. An elderly friend recently returned from the Philippines was negotiating heavy luggage on the Tube on his way home. In the country where we had come from, a different kind of respect and tolerance is shown to the infirm and to those who need assistance. My friend had been back in the UK for only a few minutes when he was nearly trampled down by people pushing past his suitcase as he was hurled some insults about “getting out-of-the-way granddad” and he isn’t even classed as disabled. Do our society really champion those who don’t quite fit the “norm” in society or who appear weaker and infirm?

While I worked in the NHS there was a huge emphasis, within my mandatory training, on respecting diversity, equality and disability. In fact, on applications forms you are encouraged to declare your disability, even when it comes to mental health. Depression can now be on such a tick list, if you feel it has or does severely impact upon your life. Indeed, much has been done to potentially give equal opportunities to all disabled people with employment legislation. The promotion of an attitude, “you can come out of the closet and say how this disability has affected you and we will care and understand.” (However,whether you actually get the job or promotion is another matter)! There are aids for the disabled person that are imaginative and extremely useful like never before. My own father who is now registered partially sighted has discovered this and the support and practical help he has received has been excellent.

However, for myself, even with nearly 30 years of caring for others in the Health Service, it wasn’t until the last six months that I realised, even more the harsh realities, the struggle and for carers the loneliness of what living with disability can actually mean. I have said to most friends that the child I worked with in education taught me far more than I could ever teach him. The complexity of character, the uniqueness of the human being. The challenge of  my own mind set of  thinking of what I thought was “normal.” What is normal anyway? And how the blueprint of living is not the same, and to be happy can take on many facets. I learnt further patience, humility, compassion, new-found fun and laughter more than I had ever done before. It was an honour and a great experience to be part of that young person’s life and one, even though that period has now ended, of whom I shall still keep in touch with I hope for a very long time.

What has this got to do with the Paralympics? My message is simple. Examine your real attitudes towards those with disability as you watch those games. Really look closer at what the government is really doing to the lives of genuine disabled people and speak out against it. Go out and meet, connect with a disabled person if you have little or no experience of them. Look at the wider picture of how we treat people who may need help, or who appear frailer or weaker than ourselves. Acknowledge  the incredible strength, character and fortitude of a disabled person but also the power of our minds to help us adapt when disability strikes. How we can overcome the most appalling circumstances and injuries to still survive and to live with purpose. How disability could open doors and new ways of living and thinking, not close them?

Most disabled people do not expect to get a Gold medal or are a Paralympic champion. They have no need to prove they are worth Gold as they are that already. But let’s not give them the medal of Tin, of being let down, ignored, marginalised and really on the edges of society. As we clap and applaud them over the next 11 days, let’s make sure that once all the hype has died down and all games packed away, that we continue to really give the disabled person the respect and the attention they deserve. For them not to go back into the shadows and be forgotten as we, the  so-called “able-bodied”, get on with our lives.

I hope this blog will inspire you to think more about the lives of disabled people and how we can help them to achieve their full potential. Thank you for reading.

( The above image I know does not represent the Paralympic flag or movement but was the closest image I had, with an Olympic theme, to be appropriate for this blog’s content)

Posted in Art, Ideas, Learning, Men, Personal Growth, Relationships, Religion, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing

The Angel’s Game. Part 1.

Introduction prior to a personal book review.

There is a saying that dogs choose their owners, not the other way around. Once I had started reading The Angel’s Game, I wondered if this book had found me, had sought me out and had choosen me to read it. There are some strange coincidences to this novel in terms of its content. How the main characters names are the same as two very central and important men in my life. How one of the key characters had staged their own death on a date mentioned by the author, that being  the same date also as the birth of my daughter.Things die in the same place as where new life arrives perhaps? That was the message that came across to me when reading this same reference of date. Also, to read a page in a hotel room in Barcelona where the main character recalls walking along the hill road of Pedralbes where I had stumbled across the very same place that afternoon; being many miles away from home and having never set foot in Spain until that week. Well, it feels nostalgic if nothing else.

This year has seen old ways of living being replaced with new ones. This magnificent novel left me feeling three things that are new. The first being an desire to write a creative story, something that I have never felt an urge to do. Until now, all my writing and blogging have been concerned about the giving of facts, discussion or dissemination of information. I am not saying that I will do this but a touch- paper of wanting to do so was certainly lit.  Secondly, that life can not be placed neatly into packages of right and wrong. How good people, who behave out of character or even very badly, can still be inherently good inside. It is the only the outside world and their experiences from it that can drive them to almost anything if the circumstances are set in a certain way.  Thirdly, a re-enforcement of wanting to stay within my new world of work in education. To help and inspire other minds to want to know, and to have a desire to read all the magical stuff, thoughts, charaters and facts that can be found within the wonderful world of books.

Read on, I hope to the next blog, a book review as to why I thought this book was something quite special to read. It certainly should have a place in The Cementry of Forgotten Books in the author’s tale!

Posted in achievement, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, goals, Health, Ideas, Learning, Liberation, Modern society, Personal Growth, Psychology, Thoughts, Time, Women

So what’s new to the thinking?

Following on from my thoughts on the last post, I have had time to discuss and make some progress, at least in the ideas stake. This is what I have come up with so far.

1) Photography has  been a real plus and some images have been spotted by others for good works and greater promotion. This has not been sought after at all. It has just come my way. Call it luck or call it good exposure, probably both. www.flickr.com has done a lot of good for many image takers and the internet is a good way at getting your shots on a greater public viewing gallery. I should explore this further. There are many out there who would wish to make an income, many competitors but not to be overlooked. Photography is an art form that needs to be worked on as a skill. I could perhaps have this as one small income source. It could compliment other aspects of work.

2) I can’t sit around and expect the lucky break, someone to take notice or give me a leg up. I have to make my own luck and give myself a leg up. Have one big idea as to how I wish to do that. It is ambitious and sadly at this point requires a good bit of investment which I don’t have. Call it my long-term aim for the next five years. I have had it sitting on the back-burner of my brain for about 3-4 years and have turned away from it, afraid of the time and investment it would take. The risk of it coming to nothing. It pulls me back though as there is a need and I think a market for it. You shall just have to wait and see what it is, as I don’t want people stealing my ideas or plans:). It’s totally a health based issue where my knowledge on certain things could be utilised. This would be very meaningful to me.

3) Must not be side tracked. I have been up more than one wrong wall. Women’s health and education are at the centre of who I am. I can be nothing else now. It would be to deny myself. I can not do this.

4) Being organised and tidy in my life is very important, especially to my own mental well-being. Need to still get a grip on work-life balance. I need some order not chaos as sometimes this can happen. Less so but potential to be there. My evernote account is one good thing I have now to control and organise information. Still need to work on others.

5) My charity involvements should stop at the weekends unless it is very urgent. A friend would call it, a much-needed boundary. Weekends should be time out from it. The constant access to e-mails can be a disadvantage, especially if a partner engages in work which involves you. Tell them and him that weekend are now off the agenda for “good works.” It can wait until Monday.

6) Ideas are still coming in from the work front and an appraisal today was enormously helpful. At least someone has spotted that I could do so much more. That was uplifting. I am pursuing some avenues and another job application for a job that would start in September.

Finally one point from today. My daughter is studying psychology and wants to focus on depression for her specialist module next year. I asked her a frank question and got a frank response which I feel happy to share.

Question: Why do you think I may have been depressed in the past. The root cause of it?

Answer: Because you feel you haven’t got anywhere with your job, your money or your house? The frustration of it.

She’s not far off the mark. There are other reason of course. I think being in control and not having that taken away is important. Like you have no say in anything. You need a say in all things.

My daughter is one smart girl. She’ll do well. I am sure of it.

Next time, I may be ready to talk more about depression, though it is a little scary and exposes the vulnerable side.

We will see.

Posted in achievement, Change, Children, Debate, Development, goals, God, Human Rights, Ideas, Liberation, Modern society, Personal Growth, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts, Women

Revelation

Went to bed last night and gave my posting of yesterday evening some thought.

Revelation: I actually feel guilty if I am successful, richer or more powerful. Keeping humble and meek is after all a more virtuous option?

Today, I read all about Michael Gove and the King James Bible he has given to every school. I have recently been in an assembly where I was shown this large and beautiful book and how it arrived there as a present from HM Government. You see, I do have Christian roots. In my twenty’s I was part of a small evangelical church. While my faith has very much changed, ( I admitted to myself recently that I don’t attend church regularly because I find it too dull, ritualistic and boring) the essence of Christian thinking is still with me. Essentially, there is a faith there inside me. I don’t go to church preferring to do God’s work in the real world of charity, contribution and looking after God’s animals. Currently, a sick hen. This is where I fit in the Christian world. This is my work to God, not singing hymns.

Deeply ingrained in my mind-set is simply this. God teaches us that being humble, poor and mild, we will inherit the Earth. God likes” little people” like me, never boastful, never proud,( I think that came from St Paul). The idea that I should aspire to a four bedroomed house, double my salary, go for promotion or exactly say I am good at something that does not quite fit the script. After all Jesus hung out with the poor fisherman not the tax-collectors. He never sought fame of fortune. If we are to look at these texts we are told that money is the root of all evil and being ruthless for that job promotion is not at all cool In the eyes of God. We should not have avarice or greed and instead give our money away to those less fortunate- which I have.

Coming away from the Christian perspective, my own interest in equality, human rights, poverty and empowerment gives this view a double stamp of approval. How can I be seen to want to earn or have more when so many are starving? Each night, I thank God for my hot meal and my glass of fresh drink knowing I am the lucky one; even if I have to use the calculator to scrape some shopping together on dwindling reserves, seriously, I do this. I still say I am lucky to have. It’s a bit of a mind-set I have got into.

So to sum it all up in one sentence. My block to progress is my supposed guilt at wanting more. That I should not seek it, that I should never try to make money out of pictures or works. To legitimately sell goods on Amazon and e-bay is one thing, that is recycling and I can live with that. Someone else benefits and most are going at bargain prices. I will have to think how I can shape this attitude a little differently if I am to get further on in life.

And by-the-way Gove recommends Children should read St James as a good moral compass. I wonder what their little minds would think of it all if they did? Would they end up like me or reject it?

Hoping this picture would be at the start:) Try again next time. A posh house. The Petit Trianon of Marie Antoinette’s. You know what happened to her and why!

Posted in achievement, Change, Debate, families, goals, Health, Human Rights, Ideas, Learning, Personal Growth, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts, Time, Uncategorized, Women

Appraisal Time

Needed to write in a spontaneous way. So here I am and here this is. Have been figuring a few things out. I try not to write about myself, it seems for me personally a bit self-indulgent, but feel the need to do so to work some things out. By having it written down it feels orderly and I might get some new answers and forge ahead with some new meanings.

So firstly, I am concluding to date who I am first.

I have lived on this planet for 48 yrs. Married, one teenage daughter whose well-being has always come first.

Have been a Registered Nurse for 26 yrs of them.  A good and caring nurse and have done my job well and thoroughly. I have never lit with the skies with promotion, either by lack of personal opportunity, not being in the right place at the right time, putting family first or just simply watching other people with more confidence pass me by. Do feel disappointed in a way that I never really made it BIG in the role. All my friends who trained with me are now in high-paid jobs and specialist roles while I have just sat on a scale 5. One boss noticed I was special once and I started to fly like the wind but she went away and I was left back in the shade and out of the sky.

The care of women, empowerment, education and justice are all very important to me. Health too of course is quite central to who I am.

I work daily on a voluntary basis, with my husband, for a Kenyan NGO called Tareto Maa. A grass-roots project fighting female genital mutilation, my BIG life CONCERN and PASSION. This charity houses young girls fleeing this torture and we send them to school, all 95 of them.  I am the UK media and advocacy worker. A role carved out for myself. My job is to write the thank you’s for the Global Giving donations, write to partners and NGO to find sponsors and helpers, liaise with potential individual sponsors and help set them up. I read through the texts, drafts  of new material for translation purposes, for our forthcoming website and reports, Skype and e-mail with our central German Co-ordinator. I help fund raise though this is now on a much lesser basis.  One day, I hope to visit the project knowing it will change the way I view a lot of things. Enough about that.

I like taking photographs. Success to date have been one picture published online by an Oxford travel guide, a few used for private work and one used by a school for their composting campaign. My FGM picture taken for Int FGM day,( not sure which year off the top of my head,) was published by an online magazine and shown at a women’s conference. One picture has been used for a Canadian TV show, a while ago now, on a child education programme. To date, I have not made any money, nor sought it. No-one has asked to buy anything off me.

Climate change and the environment are important to me. I married an eco warrior and have become one.

Running is also something I enjoy. A slow runner, I can run 10km in 1hr 8mins, no more that that  but I enjoy it. Accept that I am probably never going to be that fast but enjoyed the GEAR run in 2010. Running is a central part of my life. Introducing other forms of exercise too. Learnt to swim on my back about 3-4 yrs ago but have a phobia about swimming on my front.

I worked in floral craft for 10 yrs, teaching, judging and small private work. I have an NVQ2 in floristry.

Blogging is an on and off thing, mainly due to how I am feeling and time, what else is going on. I enjoy writing and would like to develop it further. My English is not brilliant and I have always had a weakness with this. Important work is checked and I get frustrated with it sometimes because I can never understand why it should be written a different way. I have had an offer of English help but nothing has really come of that, so I help myself when I can. I read books and what I have learnt has been mainly self-taught. I have also written some poems over the years. Not many but I have most of them. One or two are pretty good. Can remember having something written, when I was in primary school, that was up on the wall. It was about the moon. See, I liked the stars and sky even then, to those that know me.

Risky confession due to what I was reading today, but I have suffered from depression twice and the last time was in early 2010. I am well now but have been told recently that is highly likely it will return. I am lucky, as I am to date a good responder to medication. So I see myself in remission and hope that it can last a long time. It frightens me to hell that I could go backwards. I never want to feel that way again and know the warning signs and know what to do now. I run to help me with this: “Green Therapy” is what they call it ( May not need the capitals there:)).

I don’t have a degree, love learning but recognise that I can’t keep studying forever, nor do I need to do so to feel good. It has taken me years to get as far as I have with my education.  It really doesn’t matter that much now as I have gone on one step further. A funny old mix of Higher Education Diploma and  now an award in July of Post-Grad Cert in Women’s Health. My 60 Masters points are a treasure. I did it and I was more than good enough and that was all that mattered. I trained to be a midwife for 14 months out of an 18 month pathway. I loved it and was good at the theory but to be fair, due to lack of confidence and peer/ culture environment, I just wasn’t that good at delivering babies or make a safe midwife on British terms.  I left before I was pushed with an intact reputation.

I now work as a one to one support teaching assistant, having a break from nursing. One of my major strengths has been teaching. Realising now, I would have been a great primary school teacher but was just up the wrong wall at the time. This ends in July. Then I will be unemployed  if no work comes along. Have no real strength to re-train again, even if financially I could which I can’t.  My major training days for a complete career overhaul are finished by my choice. I am very happy to go on with this line of work but 1) I can’t afford to for the long-term 2) I still have the care of women which is my love and life’s challenge at the centre of me.

A spot of gardening, a love of cooking, though I can’t make cakes and walking my much-loved dog. This is pretty much me to date. Now, I just have to start sorting out what I am going to do next.  Who I am? My overall aim is to do something good. I want to say I have made it somewhere. A few close friends know that my life has felt like second best, never first best. Nearly there but not quite, I want to be first at something. Is that wrong to want that? I don’t think so.

Will continue this blog theme. Set up some aims, will mull over this but have said enough for now.

Leave you with a picture. Actually, it was meant to be at the start:). I can’t remember how to change it on here.

Posted in achievement, Change, Children, Commitment, Development, goals, Health, Human Rights, Learning, Liberation, Personal Growth, Relationships, Role of women, Skills, Thoughts, Women

The Story so Far: Tareto Maa. A post for FGM/C International Day 6th February 2012.

  I recently asked a core supporter of Tareto Maa, as he had recently re-visited the project over the New Year, what had changed since his first visit in the early days of the centre’s birth and emergence. He said quite simply this:

” Then it was more like visiting a group of girls in a family, brought together over one core aim, to remain uncut and to have a better future, where they were safe from harm and from female genital cutting. Now, it feels so different. This time, it feels like an organisation, a refuge, an NGO, organised, structured, where there are now many girls and a team of people taking care of them.”

Since the rescue centre’s first origins back in 2009, when it first became a Kenyan NGO, a lot of water has gone under the bridge; a phrase the English say which means, a lot has happened. There is now a real bridge in Tareto Maa, one which was constructed this last year, so the girls could cross over from the refuge site, so that they can go to school, without fear of being drowned. Yes, this has happened. Who could think that in our Western World that a river stops someone from going to school, let alone them drowning.

This and many more obstacles are there in the lives of the girls and the hardworking and dedicated team of people working for them and with them. When I decided to write this blog post, it was suggested that an overview of key events to date would be a good way of commemorating International FGM/C Day 6th Feb but so much has happened. I have decided to look at events from Jan 2011, when the temporary new refuge was opened. This was to originally house about 35 girls in total after the circumcision season was over in the Christmas school holidays of 2010, in reality that number became 70. The sudden increase of girls, who had heard of the project from leaflets and posters that Tareto Maa has circulated amongst the community, caused its international supporters probably its biggest challenge and one of their biggest tests. To potentially turn girls away, after giving them hope. Or to keep accepting them but then not be able to deliver the promise of safety, shelter, food and an opportunity to go to school. We could not let them down and there were many late night discussions on the subject both in our home and with other key supporters. It was one of those exciting, agonising and tense times. No- one underestimated the seriousness of what we had done. For me, this was real. This wasn’t just writing or talking about it anymore. This was doing, and real lives were at stake.

To talk effectively about what was happening in Kenya, supporters in Germany and in the UK, first communicated by e-mail, then by phone, by text and now by Skype as the effectiveness and frequency of communication meant that once e-mails could fly to in boxes once a month, then every two weeks, 10 days, a week. Now, the change is such that e-mails fly into and out of in boxes daily. Net-working and constantly keeping in touch has been one of the biggest growth factors of Tareto Maa by those supporting it outside Kenya, as support grew and emerged, creating with it new ideas, new goals, new problems, headaches, heartaches, tensions, yes some fierce debate but a deep-rooted passion and commitment. The activites of this grass-roots project now spread among many nations, including the USA, its supporters were a key player in the fund-raising for the new Naitswang Riverside Academy, (Tareto Maa’s first school classroom) which opened in the New Year of 2012. www.Kiva.org was a central organisation in this development, with now over 800 members which brought in new supporters and new energy, as well as much welcomed funds to make the idea of a school a reality.

For me, one of the most incredible times of such a generous and magnificent effort both on www.betterplace.org and on www.Kiva.org was when the Horn of Africa was struck with famine in the summer of 2011. Whilst in England, London and major cities were seeing riots and burning, the heat and drought had seen the crops in Kenya dry to a cinder and fail, precipitating an international response to this crisis. The cheapest food in Kenya is Ugali, a maze meal. Its price had soared from 3,000 Kenyan Shillings to 10,000 Shillings. East Africa was in the grip of this food shortage and soaring prices. What was so remarkable was, not just about how much money was raised in such a short time, but that a far wider population could benefit from the effects of Tareto Maa. Food was not just reserved for the girls and the project, how could it be when the whole community was affected. Everyone could benefit.  I realised then this wasn’t just about FGM/C anymore. This was so much more. This event was amazing for me personally.

The rains came and the Well build, that has been started, came to a halt as part of the walls fell in. Such is the fight of the elements. Roads soon became a mud bath. At the same time, the girls needed dry shoes,( trainers were donated by a German company in 2010)  dry mattresses, ante-malaria protection with mosquito nets and de-worming tablets. People still die of HIV/Aids, a much taboo subject and the team now have run lectures and discussions about HIV awareness. While, there are many life lines of hope, death and illness can soon strike the heart of Tareto Maa. Our German friend and central supporter said to me awhile ago, that he had met a man over there who had since dies of Aids. And we have had girls with colds, malaria needing medical treatment and the need to sleep on dry beds. A solar panel, a fence and a security guard have all been added additions to the project this last year, along with Daisy the cow. One problem solved but another can be soon around the corner.

The challenge and opportunity of being part of Global Giving was a big break for us all. This competition to raise money on such a global stage was not to be missed. Months of hard work and preparation to be accepted went into it. The first two opening days were exciting as we leapt into an early lead but the struggle to keep the $2000 dollar bonus at the end was a fight like no other, where all forces were mobilised to find unique donors. A magnificent team effort was displayed.The team was so happy, when we in the UK were able to text a remote part of Kenya On New Year’s day to say what we had achieved, that we had secured that hard-fought bonus. We had reports that the girls sang and danced all day. A total of over $9000 jhas been raised currently on Global Giving so far.

The team in Kenya do not sit by and wait for the money to come in from the West. There is a common picture that Africa just waits for aid. A Harambee meaning “let us all pull together” was being conducted In November. This was an open day celebrating what Tareto Maa was all about and where local leaders, politicians and the community were invited to see the project. It generated 4,500 Euros. The future vision of the school is where fees can provide an income to Tareto Maa, as well as for educating the girls themselves without having to pay school fees. There has been a major effort to reach out to individual sponsors who can sponsor a child in return for two letters a year, news and progress about their child’s education. We have already seen girls grades improve since the rescue centre was opened,as they support and help each other in their studies. We have over 30 individual sponsors at present. But more are urgently needed. Get in touch with me by leaving a comment if you wish to know more about this.

The coming year: the aims are for a permanent rescue shelter, more sponsorships for the girls and forging links with other NGO’S and Foundations. The latter was started last year with a small response. We certainly need more success in this area. To sum it all up, one comment read on http://www. betterplace.org  by a villager of Kenya stood out for me the most when they said:

” At first, we thought it was all talk, but once we saw the rescue centre going up, we thought this is happening. This is not just talk anymore but real and true.” As as result, the village donated clothes and food to the children. Since them Tareto Maa has become an established place in the Kilgoris community, where the church is a major focal point and hub of the work, and where real things do happen. Some of these events have been tremendously positive and some of real hardship and problems. But I and the whole team from inside Kenya to its supporters of the outside world are behind it every step of the way.

Posted in achievement, Change, Commitment, Health, Liberation, Personal Growth, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Joining In

I have loved reading Stephen Fry’s book Moab is My Washpot and have only about  70 pages to go to completion. I can identify so much with him, really I can. This blog isn’t a book review. I don’t doubt I will say more about this early autobiography in a later blog. No, this piece of writing is about identifying with the need to join in.

You see, like Stephen Fry, I loathed, despised, hated, dreaded PE or games, as I refered to it at school. For Stephen Fry there was one reason for this. He just couldn’t do it but so badly wanted to join in. For me there were two reasons. 1) Because I was a shinny runt and everyone, especially the boys, laughed at me and made me as their sport. 2) I, like Fry, was rubbish at it. Well, that was hardly surprising was it?

So all my life me and sports of any kind just never mixed ever, ever. This world belonged to others. How could I possibly fit in, join in? But then last year in a fit of what seemed then madness I decided to run for GEAR. Many of you know my journey and I am not going to bore with another blog about how it all started. I just want to share this.

I was training with GEAR last Wednesday. In the middle of the session, we had to pair up and do a 200 metre faster run around the track  three times. The baton was handed to me and the guy next to me realised, that he was going to be my partner given our position standing in the crowd.

” Looks like you got me then I said.”

I’m sure perhaps it was my imagination, but maybe not. I perceived the look of disappointment on his face when he knew that me, old slow coach, would mean we would likely come in last. No criticism here intended but it was horrible feeling. I was transported back to school and could see myself on the games pitch. How I hated those team games when I was never picked. My stupid, stupid school elected to select two people at random always to pick  the teams. I was never picked and ended up just filing in to which ever queue was left. How dumb was my school for thinking up that psychological downer. (It was even more cringe-withering when I had to pick a team as I knew no-one wanted to be in my team, never to join in with me).

The sports field can be a cruel world.

But I ran with him and ran my best, Of course, I came last into the first handover and as he was waiting  I said:

” Sorry, you have got me, the slow one ” 

I thought drat why did I say that. I am not apologising. I am here and I am trying. Many competitors are not here because they feel just as self-conscious as I do now and don’t come. DAMN IT , don’t apologise.

I did all the running and kept up.  On the last final excercise later, I passed someone and thought, I am not going to be damn well last every time. I felt brilliant at the end for doing  it all and the trainer said she should see how much more confident  I was.

So this time next week, I am going to be doing everything I trained for 10 months to do. GEAR is next Sunday, 10.30 and I am going to be as nervous as hell. But, I feel good because I truly believe that at last I can and am joining in. I belong now to the world of running. You can’t imagine how good that feels.

I am joining in. Iam ACTUALLY ABLE  TO JOIN IN!

Please consider giving to my Just Giving site and help me along  my 6.25 mile race. Many thanks.