This is an easy one – my son’s graduation from university. At an early age he was diagnosed as being on the Autistic spectrum and non-verbal. He was told a number of things growing up:
That he may never speak – he went on to be a radio DJ
That he may never learn mathematics – a frustrating time for his teachers and purely by accident and perseverance they found a way to get him to understand
That he may never write a piece of original work – he did
That he may never sit his UK GCSE’s – not the greatest results but he sat the exams and did enough to get into 6th form college
He then chose to do a BTEC course rather than A-levels as the practical nature of the course fit with his personality and traits. He then went onto university.
It was hard and he struggled, eventually settling for a Ordinary degree rather than take the extra module needed for an Honours but…a degree is a degree and he became the first person in the family for many years to do so.
Graduation day was something i thought I’d never see as my son was growing up so to stand there and watch my boy in his cap and gown pick up that certificate is an event I will always treasure and will always be my proudest moment and proof that, even with barriers, if you believe it you can achieve it
I’ve really fallen out of the habit of updating this blog. No real reasons beyond laziness and being preoccupied with reading and book reviewing along with some crafting. But life changes and it’s something I want to re-start.
Yesterday I submitted my first university assignment in three years. I was studying with Open University but I suffer with depression and anxiety and was finding studying really stressful. So the beauty of online university studying is you can take a break for however long needed.
It doesn’t always work in your favour. Doing so lost me the cheap education I had access to when the government put tuition fee prices up. And you can’t always re-use all modules. I lost a 30 credit course so something to look at to finally finish off the degree. But I finally feel ready to get to those last few hurdles and finish the race.
I have a couple of career change ideas for when I finally do finish but I started the degree as a way to prove to myself I could do something worthwhile after I had a breakdown and was rebuilding my life. And regardless of outcome I’ve done that. There’s been tears, tantrums, evenings unable to sleep as I wondered what on earth I was playing at but I do believe that when I graduate it’ll all be worth it.
I feel so much stronger now that 2014. I feel fired up and ready to embrace some things my self esteem had been saying I couldn’t do. I can almost taste the graduation ceremony. I know the next couple of years will fly past and I’m ready to rise to the challenge.
That’s life (that’s life) I tell ya, I can’t deny it
I thought of quitting, baby
But my heart just ain’t gonna buy it
And if I didn’t think it was worth one single try
I’d jump right on a big bird and then I’d fly
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate
A poet, a pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing
Each time I find myself layin’ flat on my face
I just pick myself up and get back in the race
I’m a few months late really for a mid-year review but I’ve just spotted my gratitude/good- things-happening jar is 3/4 full. Without looking through it (that’s a treat for between Christmas and New Year) I’ve been thinking about the last 8 months.
Work – It’s been a roller coaster year. Some days I love my job and some days I just want to hide under the duvet and pretend it’s not there. Pretty standard with most people I guess. I’m just a Geminian drama queen so when the horrible days happen I’m telling everyone I want to quite and having mini-meltdowns (as I did about 6 weeks ago). However I’ve recently taken on the role of well being advocate so I get to put together events such as our team walking challenge. Events like that make me happy enough to push through on days when it’s not so great
Self employment – I had a push to re-start this in 2017. It’s also had it’s ups and downs to the point where I decided to take a step back to see if it’s really what I want to do with my life. Turns out I’m passionate about these things but not so hot on working for myself. I’m just not business minded. There are so many things I could be doing besides updating websites, pushing the business, and doing all that annoying paperwork. As I have a day job guess what – the boring admin jobs don’t get done. The task now then is to find ways to utilise the things I love but maybe not on a self employment basis. Or just plod along and see what the universe has in store.
House – This is an area with lots of success this year. Tomorrow I get a new hall carpet after it twice suffered through a burst boiler. I’ve talked in previous blogs about having a debt plan and little spare cash so this is a big deal for me at the minute. I’ve also repainted all the rooms. Still a little bummed that my lovely coloured walls are all pale magnolia/barest peach but if I follow through on my plans to sell up in 2 years these are the colours buyers want. If I decide to stay then Oh I m going to have so much fun repainting everything red/orange and yellow! I’ve also replaced lots of little things like lampshades, kitchen utensils, pots and pans and so on. By the end of the year the last few rooms (kitchen and cupboards) will have been repainted. I may have to give in to the idea of pale walls but I’m getting my colour in my accessories.
Health – My diet blogs are ongoing. 6lbs so far and I’m keeping up to the diet. I’ve a walking challenge on this month but I’ve been pushing the number of steps for a while now. One thing about being a wellbeing advocate. It means I have to practise what I’m preaching so less pizza more health. I’ve reconnected with a dentist and currently saving for some cosmetic dental treatments. I finally started having the money to get my hair styled and coloured on a regular basis. The second half of 2017 is all about me and these small things are going some way to not finding myself but rediscovering myself.
Fun/Life – Oh this needs work. I’ve been to a few events this year. First music concerts in a couple of years and some drinking nights out. What I’ve discovered though is that I miss being out and about. I’m a sociable person but the debt plan is killing that. Me and my friend who lives in a different city had a heart to heart about this with the plan that we will take turns visiting each others houses per month and go out on the town. That’s one thing to look forward to. I then made a list of who I am and what I like to see how I can use it to start reconnecting with people. How do I get out without much financial investment. I’ve started at a couple of book clubs which are ok. It’s early days yet. One of the things I thought of was a night class. Instead I decided to re-start my open university degree/ I have 2 (part time) years left. That will give me the opportunity to go to some study days and connect with people on Facebook forums. I’ve a little list of some other bits to look at too.
Money – This is a biggie. I am now half way through my debt plan. I’ve managed to reduce the end date by 3 months and most importantly I have cleared 50% of my debt. Seeing the figures last month was one such a happy moment and one I didn’t think I’d see
So when I have a bad work day or a day when my mood is low I can actually look back and see actually this year has been pretty amazing. They’re all small steps but they’re adding up to one great year.
About 18 months ago after a bit of sulking on how my life was going I decided to keep an achievements jar rather than a gratitude jar. I’ve emptied it today to free it up for my 2017 goals and thought I;d take a look at what I’ve done
I’ve given some thought (and written a few blogs) on setting up as self employed. I was pretty much ready to go then got a promotion in my day job so decided to put everything on hold to get to grips with the one that pays my wages. Hopefully at some point in 2017 I’ll revisit as everything is set up to do so and I enjoy it.
I found in the jar:
I qualified as a EFT therapist
I qualified as a crystal therapist
I qualified as a Angelic Reiki therapist
I’ve almost finished both my Business/Life Coach diploma and when I find some enjoyment again for it my hypnotherapist diploma.
I’ve started a course in CBT
My house was redecorated to enable me to work from home. I got the insurance and all the equipment.
I got a promotion.
There are also some Get Out of Debt achievements in the jar:
I gave my debts to Stepchange and set up a repayment plan
I read Marie Kondo’s de-cluttering book and too action by de-cluttering the house. I went through my precious bookcases and gave up any book that I did not love and would not read again, I traded them in and used the money to pay towards bills
I did the same with the shed and my wardrobes. I took part in a number of car boot sales and made myself a little money.
It’s not a huge list but it’s still god to be able to look back and see some of the good things I worked on in the last year. I’m looking forward to seeing what will go in the jar in 2017
It’s no wonder I’ve been so tired. As I sat waiting for my Open University exam it struck me I’ve actually been studying for the last 14 months without a break. As I’d dropped out of a module two Christmases ago I needed to make up the points to complete the degree by 2017 and allow me to keep the transitional fees. So I have had to do 3 courses and due to start dates there has been overlap rather than doing one after the other. In that time I have suffered two deaths, changed jobs, applied for a promotion(still ongoing), had a new bathroom and supported my son through his own dissertation and first ever photography exhibition. And that’s just the things I can remember.
But the biggest thing to take away from the last year and a bit is that I survived. I made it though and am waiting for the next one to start in October. When I dropped out of my module 18 months ago I was worried I’d never complete my degree, that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the stress and that the pressure would set my depression off again. It was too hard, I wasn’t clever enough. So many excuses and negative points went through my head. So I went back to basics, literally for the OU and enrolled on one of their beginning courses. I enjoyed that so much I applied for the next two to get me back on track. At certain parts when I had 2 essays due within 2 weeks some of the negativity crept back in. There has been tears and even the odd tantrum but I got through it. I’m now officially half way through with three more years to go.
But I don’t believe I’ve done this all by myself. When the stress creeps in you find out who is there for you. My family have helped and I have the most fantastic friends. I have the support network I wished I’d had many years ago.
So the remaining years of my degree should be fun. I have (hopefully) 2 years of creative writing and one studying Children’s Literature. But I know I can do it now and am looking forward to whatever the future brings.