Mental Health Resources and Wednesdays.

First of all it is fair to say I am not too keen on Wednesdays. For me it means early starts leaving home at 6am, and late finishes, yesterday it was 7.30pm before we arrived home again. With chemo in between and over 40 tablets to take I am pleased when Wednesdays are over. Being the first day of another cycle however I had my monthly appointment with my lovely consultant. The news yesterday was good with the latest MRI showing that the mass around T12 in my spine is shrinking. I won’t know the para protein results for a few days but the signs are all good. So the plan is to continue on this path, completing a total of 6 cycles of the three chemo drugs, so I should be finished sometime in July and then we shall just have to see what happens next.

Meanwhile, now that the BrainBox resource is out and available, I am passionate about building a website and business that provides mental health resources that will help make a difference to both children’s and adult’s mental health and emotional well-being. It is sometimes quite difficult to find the right resource for the job so I want a site that reviews the resources and promotes the best product to meets the needs required. During my career I have been lucky enough to meet up with other creative and innovative health professionals at awards nights etc, that have designed and produced resources that are really making a difference to their clients. Hunting these products down can sometimes be quite a challenge so I would love to have a one stop place which provides reviews and information about products that work. Marketing and web design are challenges in themselves so there is quite a lot of research to be done yet but it’s something to work on. Any marketing tips will be much appreciated.

So there’s lots more to do, you haven’t heard the last of me yet, as my passion for improving mental health continues.

Have a great day

Deborah x

Together we can and do…

…make a difference to the people around us. And there is no better day than today to celebrate the difference even a small change, of a number of committed people, passionate about our health and the NHS can make. Today is NHS change day but it will go on well beyond just today. Driven by real people for the benefit of us all. Because it is not politically driven, or backed by financially heavy flashy advertising campaigns, so far it hasn’t hit the top news stories but it’s early in the day yet.

“The beauty of the NHS Change Day movement is that it is far more than making a promise, it is a statement of intent to make care better for those who need it,” says Pollyanna Jones

My pledge was to share my skills and experience as a mental health professional, especially about children’s mental health and the importance of a good work life balance.

If you have any particular concerns about a child’s mental health drop me an email and I will advise you as best I can. I may not be able to individually help you all but I can point you in the right direction and I have a number of books and resources I can recommend for using with young people of all ages and for different situations.

One of the tools that has really helped with both children and adults mental health, by explaining what happens inside the brain when we become very anxious or angry, is the BrainBox resource.

Today we are launching the updated version of the BrainBox and it is now available to order online for £39.99 +PP
You can make an order by using the paypal button on our website or by sending in a purchase order

http://thebrainbox.org.uk

The BrainBox has been around for quite a few years now and has proved its worth in helping both children and adults make sense of the situation they may have found themselves in and empower them to do something about it. The updated version is more portable than before making it more accessible for use by youth workers, teachers, health professionals and in fact anyone working with young people or adults. It is easy to read with clear explanations and pictures to demonstrate the fight and flight response as well as some breathing and visualisation techniques you can immediately put into practice.

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As the stresses and strains of everyday life takes it’s toll on the mental health of adults this in turn has a knock on effect for our children. They cannot escape from the financial or relationship anxieties that may be causing problems in their own homes. Anxiety is more catching than the common cold. If you as a parent feel anxious it is very likely those feelings will be passed on to those closest to you. In today’s world with the modern technology available we could work 24/7 and I often hear of colleagues having difficulty in switching off. I myself have been a victim to the work gremlin leaving little time for myself or family but for whose benefit was this? Indeed did anyone at all benefit from such an unbalanced work and life regime?

Having experienced such a life changing event brought about by a diagnosis of cancer I have had time to reflect on my own experiences. As a Service Lead, my mantra to my small team was for them to look after their own mental health first and foremost and I did all I could to enable this to happen for my staff. However I am not so sure I was as good at listening to my own advice. Being able to reconnect with my family and friends has made me realise what I could so easily have missed out on if I had carried on the way I was. I was not unhappy as I loved my job it is just about finding the right balance. So I urge you just to check out that you are using your time well and especially making sure you have enough time for YOU. By valuing yourself and giving yourself and your family and friends the time they deserve you will be acting as a good role model and will help towards better mental health for all.

Good luck to Kate and Lorna today who will be playing their part for change day by offering healthy eating advice at our local hospital. And to Pollyanna and her colleagues who will be speaking at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester today. In Pollyanna’s own words
‘A seemingly simple gesture could end up being the one thing a patient remembers about their care’

So a very happy and health day to you all.

Deborah

PS Bathroom progressing well

The Roller Coaster ride of Myeloma

When I don’t really fully understand things happening in my life I tend to look around for a metaphor for my little brain to take it all onboard. Yesterday had started so well but then I was plunged into a world of darkness that had me searching for answers.

I started the day off in a buoyant mood, arriving at the UCLH Cancer Centre before the security guards had left and the day staff had arrived. Colin and I walked round the corner and enjoyed a leisurely Starbucks breakfast. I can thoroughly recommend their porridge.

I was first in line for my blood, in and out first time with hardly a moment to notice the small scratch. The blood is quickly sent off to be tested before the results can determine the amount of drug that needs preparing for the Wednesday and Thursday’s regime.

Colin and I then sat around in reception, him working on the laptop and me catching up on all the latest gossip in the glossy magazine.

At 10.30 we made our way up to the Parallel Universe (floor 2 to everyone else),even though my actual appointment wasn’t until 1pm. This is where I have my cannula inserted and we wait patiently for my chemo drug to be ready.

There is one particular nurse who usually gets the cannula in first time. This is not an easy process as my veins are small and well hidden, so it usually requires sticking my arm into hot water. The Super Cannula wielding nurse was busy seeing to another patient, so I had another lovely nurse, but prepared myself, for perhaps a third time lucky scenario, which is often the case if super nurse is away or busy? I needn’t have feared, the hot water and the excellent skills of this new nurse ensured we were in first time. Whoppee, this was a really good start to my Wednesday.

The day got even better as I managed to catch the eye of the tea lady and order myself a free lunch. Better than that, I was hardly out of my cannula bay when a nurse from the other side of the room called me over to start hydrating my body. This is done by IV and is necessary before I can have the toxic chemo entering my blood stream. The nurse hoped that by the time my body was well and truly hydrated the drug would have arrived from pharmacy. Now most people say that I am a pretty optimistic person, my cup is usually well than half full, but with my experience of waiting for my drug to be prepared I doubted the hopeful wishes of my nurse. Still I was in the right chair now and could get on with some work on my iPad.

Well you could knock me over with a feather. I had hardly started my lunch when the tell tale yellow bag arrived and inside it was my very precious brand of poison. By 1.30pm I was up and out of that chair, as quick as lightening and heading for home. No fighting with the rush hour and time and to spare to pick up the evenings supper lovingly made by my parents, and a quick visit to my lovely grandson, with the excuse of helping Jem with her computer problem.

We were back home by 4pm in a jolly good mood, but having Myeloma as anyone who experiences it knows, nothing can be taken for granted. The post bought with it a copy of the monthly summary letter that gets sent to my GP. Here it informs the doctor of the previous months blood tests, results from any other test carried out, the present situation and the plan of action. So it was not really new news. My consultant always very kindly and gently explains what is going on in a way that he feels appropriate and enough to take in during my monthly clinical appointment. However, the letter puts it in a much more formal ‘doctors language’ which often doesn’t make easy reading.

I read through the letter carefully, compared the results from the previous month and then usually file it away with all the rest. However when there is something new written, words I don’t understand, I end up trying to look them up on the good old internet. Knowledge is power isn’t it? I am always careful to look out for what appears to be the most professionally of sites. I didn’t like what I read, and my mood plummeted and the tears started to fall. Colin hugged me as together once again we tried to make sense of it all. Colin’s stress causes him to literally reach and vomit as his body tends to react physically to anxiety. I tried calling Myeloma research for information and support, but they were on staff training. Eventually I did get hold of a lovely nurse on the Macmillian helpline. (I’m not sure what I would do without the amazing support from this service) Macmillan is open to friends and relatives too is if you ever feel like a bit of extra support yourself just give them a call or email them. They even have a chat group for carers. The nurse, on the line, couldn’t have more caring and compassionate whilst remaining very factual as she explained every part of the letter I read out. By the end of the call I felt more reassured and able to get on with the evening, including my mammoth Wednesday night drug taking regime, consisting of 46 tablets in all.

This morning I started thinking of a metaphor, to explain my Myeloma journey,and for me being at a Theme park works pretty well, especially as I am not a big fan of these unless there is a game of ‘Pluck a Duck’going which I doubt there is at Thorpe Park. The park is unfamiliar territory, but from reading the blurb I can tell its one place I would rather not go! I however, in my world of fantasy and nightmares have found myself locked in by closely guarded gates. The roller coasters representing my Myeloma ride’s. They are scary and definitely something I would never choose to step onto even before it starts moving, but I am forced onboard to face my worst fears?

The rides at the Thorpe park describe a whole host of thrills and spills, tucks and turns.
Take for example the extreme terror of the Saw (their words not mine!).

“Now more terrifying than ever, you won’t know what lurks around the corner as you enter Jigsaw’s blood-curdling twisted world in the dead of night! You’ll be fired through a gauntlet of twisted metal then dragged up 100ft before being dropped through sharp rotating blades. Will you survive?”

Do people actually do that for fun?

Or you could try the Mighty Samurail

“Only the bravest of thrill seekers will conquer the challenge Say your prayers as you spin relentlessly through 360 degrees of stomach-churning terror, in one of the most extreme thrill rides the UK has to offer! This ride will show no mercy as Samurai slices and dices through the air reaching brutal forces of up to 5G’s! Be dragged backwards into a blind 127ft drop before hurtling through the wasted landscape in a series of gut-wrenching near misses, including, new for 2013, the mangled metal of a devastated billboard.”

Can you see the similarity?

Yes for some the rollar coaster comes to a sudden end, and you may get to climb off and not be called back on board for months or possibly years. (5 months in my case), But you never actually leave the park. Meanwhile you wander around grabbing hold of any exciting but much less dramatic amusements on offer. You can eat and drink, have fun, laugh and cry, you may even being to work whilst in your park but you ain’t leaving it. It dictates your life from here on in. You become acutely aware of your body, for every sign and signal that will have you rushing to the First Aid tent, or in my case Accident and Emergency department.

My letter formally stated in medical terms the findings from the MRI scans and clinical examinations. It described a large number of ‘red flags’ warning signs that MUST not be ignored. The gist of it being, the bones in my spine (T12 to be exact) have come in for some pretty serious hammering from the myeloma. A mass has also formed around it. This puts my spinal cord at a pretty significant risk of developing Cauda equina and conus medullaris syndrome. In lay terms this is a bunch of nerve cells popping out between the vertebrae with the risk of permanent irreversible damage. Hence the reason for the ‘finger up bottom’ test. The good thing is at least everyone is aware of this and we will take precautions to avoid it happening and the chemo should help. So it’s not all bad, and like I and the Macmillan nurse said “knowledge is power”.

When writing these posts it really is difficult to know what to include. The last thing I wish to do is give my family and friends more to worry about, but at the start of the Blog writing process,I promised my honesty. Also lots of people reading this are on their own myeloma journey and may find this sort of information useful, although myeloma is such an individual disease. Anyway I do apologise for any difficulties this may have caused you and Thank You from the bottom of my heart for your continuous support.

Looking on the bright side I am on the whole feeling physically and mentally very well and particularly enjoying our various projects that we have on the go. I have not even had any real succumbing to do as yet!

Today Kate will kindly take me up to the hospital and I hope for an even smoother experience, as I have still got yesterday’s cannula already in place.

Keep up your own energy levels and positive mental health state, I hope I can act as a good example as to how this works for me.

Thank you for listening.

Deborah xxx

Yesterday was a good day.

I woke up yesterday full of energy and enjoyed every minute of seeing my lovely daughter and grandson.

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So many things I have taken for granted in the past that I am now very grateful for. The biggest one is to have the energy to enjoy the day. Soon I will get up (previously I would have done an hours work by now) take my medication and slowly do a bit of housework. My only appointment today is for a reflexology session at the hospice. I do consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. We may not have much money and OK I have Myeloma but I have a husband, family and friends who I know love me and I live in a lovely place surrounded by country side. Prior to having Myeloma I am not sure I really appreciated theses things so for that I am truly sorry.

Take a look around you and just think of the things you can be appreciative of today. Then say a little thank you before getting on with your day. If you can do this every day you may be surprised at the difference this can make to your mental health.

Enjoy your day

Deborah x

Scores on the board (see scoring system above)
Physical Health = 2
Mental Health = 1

Book Proposal

I thought today I would share a book proposal I put together in 2004 (I can’t believe it was that long ago), the idea was to send it off to a publisher. If I decide to finish this book I would bypass a publisher and just self publish. One of my best friends has done just that and is earning nearly £100 every month. OK thats not enough to pay the mortgage but it’s a start.

I would be grateful for your thoughts, please be honest as I have other book ideas and don’t want to waste my time on this one if you don’t think it’s worth it.

So hear goes:

Welcome to the Meday Concept

An inspirational guide to taking control of time that will change you’re life forever.

Written for all those busy people who think they haven’t the time to read it!

Because….Smart People do Lunch!

What is ‘Welcome to the Meday Concept’ all about?

‘Welcome to the Meday Concept’ is a self help guide to improving emotional wellbeing. The term Meday is being used to illustrate a moment in time taken for oneself. This book is for anyone struggling to balance the demands of the workplace, school or family life or for those who just want to step off the treadmill and claim back some time for themselves.
The concept is accessible to anyone regardless of age, culture, religion, or gender. Very soon the idea will become common practice and people all over the world will be taking a Meday. Employers will encourage staff to take a Meday as they start to recognise its contribution to increased productivity and its ability to reduce stress. Single parents to busy executives, children to grandparents will soon be talking about their own unique Meday experiences.

This book will discuss the importance of the Meday and how it guarantees to change your life. Packed with invaluable advice, checklists and action plans it will provide a simple easy-to-understand guide on how to achieve the perfect Meday.
Taking small steps and periods of time out from a busy schedule will allow individuals to revaluate their strengths, and put some balance back into their lives.

The concept uses a solution-focused brief therapy approach by focusing on solutions rather than investigating problems.
It can be used by the reader alone or with the help of a therapist either way; by investing time in ones emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing the improvement in quality of life can be unbelievable.

Who will buy this book and why?

This book is aimed at anyone interested in improving their emotional well being. Self help books have become increasingly popular over the past few years. The strongest target group most likely to buy this book will be women who want to make sense of their lives and slow down. It will also be of interest to professionals who want to explore its concepts in order to increase productivity in the work place and therapists who want to use its ideas in their own work.

This book is just the beginning and will be followed by more books on the subject such as; ‘365 Meday Ideas’, ‘Celebratory Meday’s’, and ‘How the Meday concept changed my life around’. There will be a range of Meday products and services for sale. The Meday concept is revolutionary and will change lives forever.

The Meday Concept will be talked about on morning TV and late night shows. The author will travel the world giving conferences for business professionals to women’s institutes.
I have no doubt that this books willing formula will make it a best seller with many by-products, making its author and publisher a household name and a tidy sum of money.

Contents

Chapter 1 – Introduction
Explanation of the Meday Concept
Why we need it? – Research into effects of stress on physical and mental health.
Benefits of following the Meday program
How it will work
Who this book is for – Check list with tick boxes

Chapter Two – Why taking time for yourself has never been so important
Living in today’s busy world
Juggling time
Pressures and its effects both long and short term

Chapter Three – What is a Meday and how it can help change your life
Taking time for ones self
Lunch breaks
Weekends
Annual Leave

Chapter Four – Recognising the signs/When to take a Meday
Symptoms of stress

Chapter Five – How to plan the perfect Meday
The importance of planning
Ideas for the perfect Meday
Charts to help you successfully plan your time

Chapter Six – How to help others achieve their perfect Meday
Using the concept in a therapy setting

Chapter Seven – Noticing the changes within yourself
Recognising the differences you’ve made to yourself and the effects on those around you
Sharing the secret

Chapter Eight – Lie back and enjoy the sunshine
Recap
Reflection
Evaluation

So there you have it, I have written quite a bit already but will need to hunt it out because all I could find so far was the above book proposal I put together.

Happy Tuesday another day we need to wrap up warm unfortunately.

Deborah x

Two sleeping tablets later…

…and I managed 8 hours sleep, I want to jump out of bed with joy but feel the remnants  of my deliberate choice to increase to double my dose, holding me back.

Yesterday I was yet again reminded of the kindness of the human spirit. Another beautiful new scarf was left on my doorstep, and some lovely friends from the village delivered us a whole truck full of logs. This will make such a difference as Colin should not really be chopping away and putting further strain on his heart, and I am feeling the cold more than ever
So Thank You dear friends and village buddies.
Kate will drive and chaperone me to my final beetle juice and stomach injection of the week, today. This will give Colin a much needed break from it all, and a rest from my continuos steroid fuelled chatter.  On the journey I may get the chance to help Kate explore some of her excellent training ideas. I like helping others and feel disappointed when my body has other ideas and I have to go back into succumbing mode.
Tomorrow is my planned day of rest but I do have some other ideas for it so I am willing my body to synchronise well with my mind.
I am excited about the future.
Firstly I am really getting excited about the Village Secret event on a March 22nd I do hope many of you will come and support me. I hope I have enough clothes and shoes that you will like but if not we will just have a fun evening together any way.
Secondly I hope to deliver all the new scarves to the cancer centre next week, I should have received the white paper bags that I want to decorate by then and have written all the positive messages to accompany.
Thirdly I now have the NHS Change Day  to attend  on March 13th, so I can share my pledge and join with colleagues nationally who want to make a difference and improve the services we deliver to our patients.  I will just need to find myself a healthy chaperone who is  willing to wander around with a blown up baldy, (that’s how I feel sometimes), maybe I had better get the wig out!
Then it’s the BIG one, the prep for the Hinxworth Charity Birthday Festival. I want it to be the best night ever so I am busy visualising a lots of sunshine and plenty of people willing to lend us their patio heaters, just in case the air gets chilly in the evening .
I need to stay as well as possible, as does Colin, to acheive all of the above, so we are doing our best to follow instructions ( not my usual modus operandi) and succumbing when we really have to!
Please note,  this blog has been complied  in rather a drug induced state so I hope the above makes some sense.
Back on form tomorrow is the plan,
All the best
Deborah x

A very proud mum and the NHS change day…

I am very proud of both of my daughters but today I want to share with you the success of my eldest daughter and how I feel so proud of her, especially in the last few weeks and months.

Pollyanna is undoubtably a very bright and focused young lady. This is not only demonstrated by her academic achievements that include, a first degree in politics and philosophy, a distinction in Masters of research, and her recent completion of the CIMA
(Chartered Institute of Management Accounts) course, (so far she has passed all of her exams for this with flying colours and is all set to receive her qualification as a charted accountant). I also want to acknowledge her dedication in supporting my own organisation, me personally and the rest of her family.

Pollyanna is always ready to help her elderly grandmother calling her most days and visiting her weekly, she supports her sister with her baby Elliot, and of course is there for me and her step father, calling us daily with offers of support and regular visits.

She finds the time and energy to do all this whilst finishing her NHS graduate scheme, which was no mean feat to get on (the competition was very tough) and is juggling her studies with her regular work place.

I am sure like me, having the support of a caring partner helps, so I must also thank her lovely boyfriend for his contribution.

I certainly appreciate that I couldn’t achieve all I do without the support and care of my loving husband and I often think Colin should be on my trusts pay role with the unseen time he spends rushing around printing, binding and generally supporting me behind the scenes. No wonder the poor guy has chest pains! Maybe I had better take a look at his work / life balance! Colin really is the wind beneath my wings.

Pollyanna has lots of resilience factors and her mothers drive, energy and enthusiasm for life.

Only a few years ago her paternal grandfather, to whom she was very close, died of Myeloma and her biological father has only recently got over ( if you can get over such a thing) bowel cancer. Now with my own diagnosis to come to terms Pollyanna’s powers of resilience and positive mental attitude are really coming into play

She is presently being offered various jobs and has to consider her next move very carefully. There is nothing tying her in to the NHS and with her connections in the city she could easily get a job with a bank earning mega bucks.

But not Pollyanna she is passionate about the NHS and making a difference, (now where may that have come from, I wonder ?).

Relatively recently , together with a few of her young graduate colleagues, they came up with the idea of the NHS Change Day.

This day is drawing close, it is set for March 13th, so only one week to go.

If I had been well and working (not signed off on sick leave) , I would have been more involved in our trusts drive to get our staff involved. I do hope, however, that many of the staff have read the newsletter that came out on February 27th . It was all about the NHS change day and how our chief exec David Law, is calling on us all to make a pledge.

David Law, will pledge…….”We will discuss how to reduce paperwork for the clinical teams”

and…The Quality Directorate Team pledges that on that day, each member of the Quality and Governance Directorate will visit one of the Trust’s services to meet the patients and team members, find out more about the services offered and support them to get involved in the day.

If you are working for our organisation have you made your pledge yet?

You didn’t think a little thing like Cancer would keep me quiet and off your back did you, even if I am running a little behind schedule?

For the many readers of this blog who aren’t health professionals and we are up to nearly 10,000 views now , let me explain to you what this is all about.

This information is taken directly from NHS Change Day website:

NHS Change Day is a single day of collective action to demonstrate how small changes can have a big impact.

On the 13 March 2013 NHS Change Day will bring together the individual creativity, energy and innovative thinking of thousands of NHS staff from across clinical and non-clinical areas of work, in a single day of collective action to improve care for patients, their families and their carers.

Change Day is an NHS grassroots initiative devised and driven by new young and emergent clinical and managerial leaders from primary and secondary care across the NHS in England, who want to make this call to action the single largest simultaneous improvement event in the NHS.

It is an ambitious programme of activities aimed at galvanising and engaging the frontline in the process of improvement through individuals and teams pledging to make a change in their practice which will improve patient experience and/or clinical outcomes by spreading and adopting best practice and championing innovation.

This will be a country wide event covering the whole of the UK and will coincide with Healthcare Innovation Expo at Excel in the same day.

The idea of NHS Change Day is to create a mass movement of people working in the NHS
demonstrating the difference they can make – by one simple act – and proving that large scale improvement is possible in the NHS. The aim is for 65,000 people to take part, 65 being the number of years the NHS has been in existence.

Those who wish to take part can go to the NHS Change Day website at http://www.changemodel.nhs.uk/changeday and make their pledge online, join in the discussions on the forum and become part of the growing list of active supporters and organisations taking part on the day.

You can see how proud I am of Pollyanna for coming up with such a great idea , (alongside a few of her colleagues of course)

My pledge is…to increase the resilience of our workforce by empowering them to improve their own mental health and emotional well being and achieve a better more healthy work / life balance.

I intend to do this by writing a blog for our organisation, very similar to this one but perhaps more specifically sharing the mental health parts of this blog with all the Hertfordshire Community NHS staff.

Should I just share this blog, which could perhaps act as a good role model for coping with adversity and demonstrating resilience?

Or write a more specific new blog? I am not sure as this one is quite a bit more about me rather than how I can help others.

I know some of you reading this are working in our trust so I would value your opinion in particular. Also have you made your pledge yet?

Remember you only have a few days left to deliver your pledge.

I am also considering going down to London ( yet again but not for treatment this time) to take part in the Heath Innovation Expo being put out on to celebrate the day.

I just need to find some one to go along with who is happy to perhaps drive or at least accompany a bald, bloated but enthusiastic cancer patient who is still holding on tight to her passion for work and mental health.

I think I must also ask the nurses etc at UCLH today what they know about the NHS change day and check to see of they have put their pledge in yet.

Hmm I wonder if my own team have put out their pledges, it’s hard being out of the loop. Hopefully one of them will be reading this blog and encourage the others to get their pledges in. It doesn’t have to be anything big just one thing that you are pledging to do to make a change in practice that in turn will improve our patients experience. Please let me know.

I urge you all not to just read, or necessarily believe all the bad spin stories often reported about us in the daily papers. We are, in the majority, a caring bunch of extremely dedicated people who want to keep the NHS alive and something that our whole country can feel proud of. I do however feel thst we have the private sector biting at our ankles, hungry for a piece of the action, and just perhaps offering a cheaper but not necessarily greater quality of service. In this day of financial constraints , even at the cost of reduced quality, money talks, and with new commissioning arrangements we are all having to work with a business head on. This is not necessarily something nurses have had needed to think about never mind worry about and do before.

Well it looks like I have got plenty to keep me motivated and out of mischief, so I am so pleased those cancerous cells have been taking note and dying off. They really do have no place to hide in my body. Together we are seeking them out and if one rat gets pregnant we shall be after it and its young, (sorry poor rats I didn’t mean to necessarily pick on you as my metaphor).

I am also grateful for my ten plate spinning abilities and will certainly not let the ‘Village Secrets’, ‘ Especially for You ‘ charity scarves or ‘Hinxworth Festival Birthday Charity Party’ , fall to the ground, with much family and community support they are continuing to spin well.

So just to finish off, this post is dedicated to Pollyanna.

Thank you for being the beautiful shining star you are and letting others benefit from you glorious rays of sunshine.

Your very proud mum

Deborah

X

Plate spinning and apologies…

Firstly let me yet again apologise to my early morning readers for the lateness of this blog I have been up since 3am but blame the steroids for me getting distracted.

Today I want to talk about plate spinning something I allured (allure is a good Miranda word and I like it) to on face book.

Some of us are completer finishes I am not one of those. A completer finisher enjoys doing a task where he and she will get pleasure from the end result. They can be trusted to do the job thouroughy and are much needed members within a team.

I am a planter I will start  several projects off but will usually need to find a completer finisher to see some of them through, I enjoy the journey but have usually completed them  in my head so don’t need to personally do the completing in practice to gain satisfaction and gratification.

Imagine the plate spinner at a circus spinning as many plates as possible. I would go for at least 10 if not more plates enjoying the risk and excitement of keeping as many up in the air as possible. Not too concerned if some drop to the ground.

The work place needs 10 plate spinners (well maybe just one per team or organisation) and 1, 2 and 3 plate spinners. It would be no good if we were all trying to spin 10 plates we would have a hell of a mess to clean up!

So knowing what you are and adapting the way you operate to fit into this may be helpful to yourself,  business and your family.

If you are a fewer plate spinner I think you need to plan your time carefully. Chunk your tasks down into small achievable parts . Make sure your goals are SMART
Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Relevant
Time – bound

Paul J. Meyer describes the characteristics of S.M.A.R.T and I quote “goals in Attitude is Everything ref.[1]
Specific
The first term stresses the need for a specific goal over and against a more general one. This means the goal is clear and unambiguous; without vagaries and platitudes. To make goals specific, they must tell a team ( or yourself) exactly what is expected, why is it important, who’s involved, where is it going to happen and which attributes are important.
A specific goal will usually answer the five “W” questions:
What: What do I want to accomplish?
Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
Who: Who is involved?
Where: Identify a location.
Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
Measurable
The second term stresses the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal. The thought behind this is that if a goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether a team (or yourself), is making progress toward successful completion. Measuring progress is supposed to help stay on track, reach its target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs it on to continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal.
A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:
How much?
How many?
How will I know when it is accomplished?
Attainable
The third term stresses the importance of goals that are realistic and attainable. While an attainable goal may stretch you in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme. That is, the goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. The theory states that an attainable goal may cause goal-setters to identify previously overlooked opportunities to bring themselves closer to the achievement of their goals.
An attainable goal will usually answer the question:
How: How can the goal be accomplished?
Relevant
The fourth term stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter. A bank manager’s goal to “Make 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by 2:00pm” may be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Time-Bound, but lacks Relevance. Many times you will need support to accomplish a goal: resources, a champion voice, someone to knock down obstacles. Goals that are relevant to your boss, your team, your organization will receive that needed support.
Relevant goals (when met) drive yourself, the team, department, and organization forward. A goal that supports or is in alignment with other goals would be considered a relevant goal.
A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:
Does this seem worthwhile?
Is this the right time?
Does this match our other efforts/needs?
Are you the right person?
Is this acceptable for correction?
Time-bound
The fifth term stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time frame, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps you or your team focus their efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise at home or in an organization. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.
A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:
When?
What can I do 6 months from now?
What can I do 6 weeks from now?
What can I do today?

I hope you might find this useful

Now off to try and spin lots of plates some of which I will undoubtedly drop but I’m ok with that remember.

I shall try to be a bit quicker with tomorrow’s blog and put it further up my to do list.

Have a good day spinning your plates and remember it’s not the number of plates that’s important but being able to recognise your own best way of spinning and what you want to achieve in the long run to ensure you reach the ultimate goal of happiness for yourself and family.

Take good care

Deborah x

PS I would like to thank my special friend Julie who brought me round a lovely healing bracelet I believe it will get the rest of those cancerous cells running – So thank you Julie for that and the 15 new scarves you donated to the charity, they are perfect!  I just hope I didn’t bore you with my incessant chattering!

[1](Meyer, Paul J (2003). “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals”. Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond. Meyer Resource Group, Incorporated, The. ISBN 978-0-89811-304-4.)

Resilience …

Psychological resilience is an individual’s tendency to cope with stress and adversity and I am very fortunate to have it by the bucketful.

Resilience has been shown to be more than just the capacity of individuals to cope well under adversity it is also their capacity to navigate their way to psychological, social,and physical resources that may sustain their well-being. This blog is a good example of gathering emotional support.

There are a number of other factors that promote resilience, they include:

  • The ability to cope with stress effectively and in a healthy manner
  • Having good problem-solving skills
  • Seeking help
  • Holding the belief that there is something one can do to manage your feelings and cope
  • Having social support
  • Being connected with others, such as family or friends
  • Self-disclosure of the trauma to loved ones
  • Spirituality
  • Having an identity as a survivor as opposed to a victim
  • Helping others
  • Finding positive meaning in the trauma

Here are my 10 tips for building resilience

  1. maintain good relationships with close family members, friends and others.
  2. avoid seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems.
  3. accept circumstances that cannot be change.
  4. develop realistic goals and move towards them.
  5. make good use of the power of visualisation.
  6. look for opportunities even in the most adverse of situations.
  7. develop your self-confidence.
  8. keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful event in a broader context, looking for any opportunities it may bring.
  9. maintain a hopeful outlook, expect good things.
  10. take care of your mind and body, paying attention to your own needs and feelings.

The universe is really pushing my powers of resilience to the limit.

Yesterday one moment we were celebrating how well I was doing on the chemo, (My latest report on the number of para proteins in my blood showed a further decrease in cancerous cells) the next moment we were calling for an ambulance.

Poor Colin has had a heart attack in the past and now suffers from angina. This has got worse over the past few weeks, not surprisingly really as we have had quite a lot to deal with and his resilience factors are much lower than mine. Yesterday his chest pain reached a point that couldn’t be ignored. Colin is quite a stubborn man, he doesn’t like hospitals and is very squeemish even when certain medical terminology are used. He wasn’t happy about calling the doctor and we hadn’t been able to get an appointment when we called the surgery earlier,so he decided just to rest and take more doses of his magic spray hoping it would all just go away. After a short sleep he woke clutching his chest and agreed at least to give the surgery another call. They of course advised a trip to hospital, not only that, they insisted he call an ambulance..

So further drama went on in the Bone household. A quick response car was followed by an ambulance guided in by my sister who responded very quickly to my cries for help. It is so lovely to have her just down the road but I fear we are fast becoming a full time job between us. Kate accompanied Colin to the hospital because my immune system is compromised and it was felt that I was better off staying put. Before Colin had even left the house I had an army of friends and other willing volunteers stepping into action. Bless my good friend Angela, she makes an excellent wife and soon got the fires going and dinner cooked. She was joined later by Sue and Jo and as news spread I could probably have had a house full of visitors ready to take care of either Colin or myself.

Poor Colin kept in touch by text as he was wired up to various machines and had to be a very patient, patient and wait for hours to be seen by the cardiologist. Tests were on the whole looking good but he had a number of presenting risk factors and they weren’t taking any chances so requested he stay in for the night in order to monitor him further.

So hear I lay at 2.30am without my soul mate and only a hot water bottle to keep me warm, reflecting on the previous days events.

Was it the anticipation of waiting for more results, him worrying about our bank balance due to my recent passion for eBay or the 2nd episode of 24 that we had just watched that was the final straw, who knows?

What I do know is the doctor talking to him about angioplasty and stents won’t have done his anxiety levels any good at all and I wonder if he is ok or lying there worrying. He is at least a good sleeper so hopefully he is snoring to his hearts content. We certainly want a content heart!

So what will today bring, plans already made will probably need to be adjusted, I just hope Colin gets the all clear and can come home where we can take care of each other.

Never a dull moment!

Have a good. but perhaps not too eventful, weekend and thank you all for your never ending help and support.

X

Education and co-incidence…

Our education system failed me I dreaded every day of school and after years of wasted opportunities I came out with nothing. (OK one English O’level). Such a disappointment I am sure to my parents who encouraged me to stay on another year in case I was a late developer, I was late alright by another 20 years! Never mind it was probably the school and they would have more luck with my sister who they somehow managed to get into an all girls catholic school. Guess what she did about as well as me. Perhaps my brother had a better chance of shining, his father had at least been to university so just maybe he had the more intelligent gene (not that our mother is stupid, far from it!) but alas he didn’t fair much better.

Back in the early 90’s I completed a full year of teacher training in order to achieve a bachelor of education degree but I dropped out at the end frustrated by the lack of opportunity to use any creativity. The education system seemed so rigid to me and my teaching practices didn’t allow for the sharing or exploration of new ideas with other teaching staff. With the curriculum as it stands , you deliver it as and when you are told and are measured as to how good a teacher you are by the number of A stars your pupils achieve.

Today I visit schools to deliver training or to take part in meetings to discuss a particular child and there so called problems and it seems not much has changed. Teachers are dictated to about what they teach and when and the children must be able to sit still and learn in a particular fashion. Now we know we all have different maps of the world and different learning styles so it must be an enormous challenge to deliver a lesson on a subject that quite frankly is probably completely irrelevant to a class of thirty very different individuals. Ah Ha you’re not allowed to be an individual, stray too far from the norm and you will end up being referred to our service! We mostly see very creative intelligent young people whose contribution to the world could be enormous if they could be channeled in the right direction. Instead these kids fit like square pegs in a round hole. They don’t do boredom and won’t sit there for hours just because that are told to do so. They don’t see the point and quite frankly I often have to agree with them. Unfortunately in this country unless your willing to pay a lot of money there doesn’t seem to be many choices available if any?

Have any of you read the Celestine Prophecy? I digress a little but bear with me. This is just a simple, easy to read, book of fiction (although the author admits his intention of it being more of a parable to illustrate a point) . It discuses various psychological and spiritual ideas and talks much about co- incidences. The book is a first-person narrative of spiritual awakening. The narrator is in a transitional period of his life, and begins to notice instances of synchronicity, which is the belief that coincidences have a meaning personal to those who experience them.

The book starts like this:

“For half a century now, a new consciousness has been entering the human world, a new awareness that can only be called transcendent, spiritual. If you find yourself reading this book, then perhaps you already sense what is happening, already feel it inside.”

Recently I have met a guy, well I haven’t actually met him yet, but he is coming to sing at my charity birthday festival. And by co- incidence he shares some of mine and Colin’s beliefs about the education system on offer for our children here in the UK today. (see there is a link) David kindly sent me a link to a school in America, which he was fortunate enough to spend some time visiting. At this school the children choose what they want to learn and when, If they choose to play video games all day then thats what they do. Now before you make a judgement, about what you think about that, take a look at the film on their website and then come back.

http://sudval.org/

I was reminded of a conversation I had with a teacher who couldn’t understand why this particular boy had no interest in attending school. I asked her for a good reason why he should. She was flabbergasted by this question and looked at me in horror as she firmly stated to get an education of course! Is that the only way we become educated?

Here is a quote from one of the children who attend The Sudbury Valley School.

“I didn’t really think about getting an education. I didn’t understand the idea of having to artificially “get” an education. I thought that you lived in the world and you got smarter because every day you were learning. I thought that there was no way you could get dumber unless you were erasing stuff out of your brain. It seemed to me that one day you were talking to someone about one subject and another day you were talking to someone about another, and eventually you’d get around to all of them.”

A few years ago now a colleague and I were asked to speak to a large audience of teachers, on an inset day about managing stress. It was the end of the summer holidays and the day before the new school year. ( I’m not sure the timing was great). Besides speaking we were also on hand to offer a few individual sessions for any teachers wishing to make use of our skills and time. I think we only had time for 6 slots between us and they soon got filled. Each one of the teachers we saw broke down in tears as they described the stress of teaching, lack of supervision and support, bullying and fear of failure, and the new year hadn’t even started! How were these teachers meant to act as good role models? I very strongly believe to have mentally healthy children we need to start with mentally health adults. Sue and I ended up with recommending to some of these teachers they visit their GP as.the signs of clinical depression were clearly there.

Surely it is time for us to rethink our educational system.

Would you agree?

Have a great weekend

Deborah

ps just in case your worried about your kids spelling this ones for you:

I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh?