Thursday, 27 October 2016

Here & NOW is not your final destination

When I sit in the library now reading and working, it takes me back to the time when I was doing my A Levels and caught the bus to Leeds City library every Saturday morning and spent the day amongst the books, newspapers and lots of interesting people. I realise now that was probably driving me towards my destiny in writing and learning. It’s funny how certain smells, noises and environments trigger memories you have suppressed yet were probably fundamental turning points in your life. I admit though, by the time I sat my A Levels I was totally dejected and demoralised – having no support around me at all.

As you get older, you realise you don’t need to support to drive you forward. Don’t get me wrong, I think we all need that reassurance of someone backing you but its not the be all and end all to you achieving your personal goals. It has taken most of my life to understand that not everyone wishes you success, even the ones to closest to you although I think some do wish you success so long as you are not more successful than they are! I should have listened to other people and especially one person. When I see again I will tell him, he was right! He was also right that I should have been a researcher too!

Ultimately I believe the anxiety caused by being surrounded by such negativity (you get 99% on a test and no congratulations, just what happened to the other 1%! It may be a joke to the person saying it but to a young child, it’s a self-doubting catalyst or the time I was selected for junior masterchef but missed the deadline because of my asking for help was ignored) was the driving force behind my determination to prove people so very wrong. More so, to prove my inner doubt wrong.

Over the years, it has become more of a nod of the head, confirmation I was right about where my anxieties came from, right that people who love you don’t bring you down and right that, whilst I want everyone to succeed in their own unique way, others don’t share my spirit. People are mean – some out of their own characteristics, others out of sheer ignorance. Nevertheless, you do have choices – you put up with it or you speak out and take action. For years, I didn’t speak about it. The only time it became a major issue was when I could see my children were being treated the same way. Then it became A MAJOR ISSUE.

Today, I am a better person for all the S*** I have been put through. I am still working through the process of laying the demons to rest and it will take some time but I take comfort in the fact I know what the game was, I have exposed the game and my children aren’t pawns in that game. I still have a way to go but I’m finally on MY PATH, MY WAY and no one can stop me now.


I’m probably stating the blooming obvious, but Masters study is tough! It’s such a balancing act between reading too far and not reading enough. I start with one article and three hours later I am off on a tangent and found something totally unrelated but equally as fascinating. I’ve handed in my first piece of work. I was stressing it would not be good enough – yes, I reprimanded myself as six weeks in and I expect to write a complete Master piece – haha pun not intended.


I am still writing the Nanny and love the new direction I am taking it in. I am also formulating a plan for a new idea I have. Streetwise is still out in the market place and believe me, if I am successful I am sure you will all, in every corner of the earth, hear me cheer – possibly Richter scale magnitude!! I keep reminding myself – everything comes to those who wait.

I, Daniel Blake

If you have not seen or heard of this…. PLEASE, PLEASE see it. This is the latest film from the amazing Ken Loach.  Wes and I went to see and I sobbed my heart out. When you have lost your job through illness (like me), when you have paid tax and national insurance all your life before that illness (like me) to then find there is no safety net for you, you begin to realise how close you have become to losing everything and worse – losing everything for you children. Meniere’s hit me like a ton of bricks; the NHS didn’t help as it took 3 years to diagnose then I don’t claim employment support because the stress brings on Meniere’s and Meniere’s stops me from working. Instead, I had to declare myself self-employed and we have been destitute, living very basic lives. This film really hit home for me. Poor Wes had to listen to me blub all the way home about how tough it has been for me as a single Mum and hiding all this anxiety away from him and his brother, whilst still trying to focus on finding a way forward.

I cried too because it made me realise that, in spite of every odd being stacked against us, we have survived and come through the worst of it. I have managed to bring up two fabulous boys single-handedly and still remain optimistic enough to pursue a better world for us. I also realise not all people can do what I have done and that is why they need people, like me, to speak out and make a difference.

I paid into a system on the basis it would be a safety net if things went wrong. When they did go wrong, unforeseen, the safety net was not there. The hoops were to jump through but someone, the Tories, had taken the net away.  Honestly, I can’t recommend this film enough. Only heartless people would be critical. 2016 UK is the only place you can be punished for surviving a heart attack!! I find it really hard to believe, in the age of technology and connectivity, a system can not be implemented where the Consultant/Doctor confirms the diagnosis electronically which automatically triggers the financial assistance for the individuals. This would cut out some fraud too!

The fascinating part of all was Wes and I picked up on the way the hypocrisy of capitalism and idealism of the right wing is depicted so well. The part where Daniel is waiting for his appointment and stands outside an opulent jewellers and the sale of the designer trainers. Whether it was intentional or not, Ken Loach is a genius.

Wherever you are now, whatever position you are – it is not your final destination. I’m here to listen if you need help. Don’t suffer in silence. Sometimes all you need is someone to point to the door where a new world awaits.

This weekend is Halloween. This year I am truly blessed that I am spending it being pampered by a lovely, caring friend. Whatever you are doing – please don’t dress as a clown! Have a fabulous weekend. I can’t believe half term is almost over. Next holiday – Christmassss!!

Much love

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Soap box…what soap box?
It's going to be a short one this week – I hear you all cheer!! I'm in the middle of working on one of my Masters assignments (Masters as in academic work not the male dominant Donald Trump would want all us women to succumb to). I'm writing about the environmental impact of ICT use in High Schools. It is riveting and I find it really hard to put the literature down. I am a Mum on a Mission - more dangerous, yet more productive than any politician!!

Last week's blog caused another backlash from the very people I expected, who have no understanding of perspectives and outcomes of peoples' deceptions. A word to the wise – you demonstrated the exact traits I have fought against all my life AND it won't stop me from speaking the truth. In the words of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men "you can't handle the truth." Great film and great actor. On the bright side, while they are slating me, they are leaving some other poor soul alone - maybe I should call that 'public service'.

I have learned to grow a thick skin but not thick enough to have no feelings towards my fellow human beings. In fact, the harshness of how I have been treated has made me the sympathetic, caring soul I am today. As my son commented this week, our lovely home is peaceful and calm – a place of tranquility and love. I must be doing something right.

Wes and I spent Friday working on our University work, bouncing ideas and thoughts off each other, I loved it. 

On top of striving for world domination through education (I think this should be my logo!), I have been continuing to write. I thought it would be impossible to educate myself at this level and work part time on writing. Whilst I'm broke, the end justifies the means. As one of my heroes, Nelson Mandela, said – "It always seems impossible until it is done". I feel more alive when I am inundated with projects. I feel even more alive knowing the example I am setting to my boys is reflecting in the success of their life, both in and outside of education. We can all make a difference in our own unique way.

Anyone else sick of Brexit? I am totally sick of it. I voted to remain in the EU and my reasons for this decision have been well documented. However, I am a democratic socialist and believe in the democratic process even if I don't agree with its outcome – which has been nearly every vote since the 1980s!!! Anyway, Brexit now has become this drama of words with no practical moving forward. It highlights the ineptitude of some of our elected elite but people won’t remember this when it comes to re-election! Brexit will now be used by the Tories as a stick to beat people, like you and me, with. All the damage they have done to the economy will now be "it wasn't us, it was Brexit, which you voted for so it's your fault." I'd say send in the clowns but even they are turning violent!

I had a conversation with someone this week who thought, by Parliament wanting to discuss the triggering of article 50, it was a signal they were trying to stop Brexit from happening. My reply, "So, we let the Tories ride rough shot over all of us and we all end up worse off. What are you truly prepared to forfeit for Brexit? Workers' rights? Jobs? Standard of living? By debating we can ensure some protection." His response – I'd not thought of it like that. Whatever happens in this country, I don't want to be part of an arrogant, xenophobic country where Tories use immigration as a wedge to divide communities when it is their lack of investment that has resulted in poorly paid, insecure jobs, no public services, a collapsing NHS or no social housing. Stop blaming our EU fellow citizens and start blaming the true culprits.

I said I wouldn't get on my soap box this week. LOL. That went well!

Regardless of the world around us, please remember we can ALL make a difference in our own way. Don't give up hope and don't think you have to be stuck in the same, dark place you are in now. I was there and bit by bit I am crawling my way out of the dark hole and creating my own footprints. 

Stay safe, stay strong.

Much love

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Old dogs CAN learn new tricks…

Where to start this week?

I am livid, embarrassed and thoroughly depressed at the state of politics in the UK. Beam me up Scotty!! We have elected MPs purporting to support democratic socialism undermining a democratically elected leader, we have Tory MPs degrading and insulting people and MEP's scrapping in Brussels. What a total shambles!! Thank goodness we have the cool, calm and collected Jeremy Corbyn and his team to steer us away from the depths of nationalism!

And while these people, being paid a bloody good salary are playing their silly, childish and dangerous games, we have children in poverty, students facing tens of thousands of pounds of debt, food banks, a NHS close to collapse and an education system not fit for purpose but then the latter is exactly what this Government wants because uneducated people can't see through their lies and bigotry. Let's face it, this Government has trashed all public services and the economy – the EU referendum was a tool they used to hide their incompetence. Even worse they are scapegoating immigrants to divide communities. It is disgraceful. We need urgent laws to stop politicians from being able to blatantly lie – is there an integrity bucket outside the Houses of Parliament for it to be thrown in once they cross the threshold? Thankfully, Jeremy and his team by-pass that bucket. LISTEN TO HIS TRUTHS.

One thing I love about University is the diversity of people on campus – student and staff. I feel part of the big, wide world, surrounded by amazing people with fascinating lives and backgrounds. I feel I spend my whole life apologizing for the bigotry being peddled by the politicians. The ignorance scares me and repulses me. I do not and will never support segregation and alienation. Prejudice repulses me. I wish people would understand it is Government policies across the world that prevents us all from living in peace and harmony.

Last night (Friday) we had our constituency Labour Party meeting with guest speaker, Angela Rayner, Shadow Education Secretary. I almost had a very embarrassing moment when she talked of her childhood and the lack of support. Honestly, I had to fight back the tears. It hit right at the heart of how I felt. I managed to hold it together until I got home, when I burst into tears telling Wes what had been said. It's tough getting over deeply embedded feelings - it's little reminders that bring them flooding back. 

BUT…and it's a HUGE but… last night I realised how far I have come… ON MY OWN. I know I can achieve my ultimate goals. I have had a brilliant week at University – I am organized and learning things I never imagined I would, including Portuguese. I am proof you can teach an old dog new tricks. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Today (Saturday) the boys are happily doing their own thing so I am going to be reading – ICT and the Environment AND Managing Information in a Digital Economy… it won't float everyone's boat but it does mine.I guess the lesson this week has to be to find something you love and go for it. Don't let people put you off. For me, it is books and reading and writing. I feel reinvigorated even though I am physically exhausted. The exhaustion is from being a Mum of a student who has well and truly found student life!! It was Leeds varsity this week…need I say more.

Sometimes it is really tough and seems impossible, to break a downward cycle. I know from bitter experience BUT it can be done.My advice, for what it is worth:
1.    Pick something you love
2.    Ignore the doubters
3.    Get rid of the doubters – yep! Totally GONE.
4.    Never, ever accept you have to 'fit in' or 'conform' - Some rules are meant to be broken like shackles off slaves!
5.    Get support – surround yourself with people who believe in you.
6.    Work hard
7.    Keep going

Sod what 'society' expects! Nothing ever changes if we all stay the same. For thirty plus years I've been an outcast, daring to use the 's' word – SOCIALISM. Ha…now…I can say…I was right!

Be the exception to the rule. For the first time in my long, bumpy road, I know I want to be a researcher/lecturer and continue to write. Me…from a council estate and a single Mum. How dare I break the mould. How dare I get ideas above my station?
I DARE and I WILL. I hope you will too. Whatever 'it' is – DO IT! FLIPPING DO IT!!

We can all change the world in our own, unique way.
Much love