18 in 2018 June Review

July is here, and we are in the middle of The Worst Heatwave here in the UK. I am beyond fed up with it at this point. But I’m trying to push that all aside and get some more progress towards my goals under my belt!
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18 in 2018 February – April Review

I blinked, and suddenly both February and March have been and gone, and it’s nearly the end of April! Things have been insanely busy over here, with lots going on at work and at home. I’m now in the middle of a week off work and just looking around like ‘when did all this happen?’. I know that I haven’t made as much progress on my goals as I would like, but there’s still time to turn this year around. Read more about what I have managed to do below!
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Mabel: My Stupid Dog

Saying goodbye to the best stupid dog

It’s quite obvious that I am a cat person. If you didn’t know that already, then where have you been? I do have a special place in my heart for all the dogs we have had through the years though. One stupid dog in particular. But more on her later.

Offie (full name Othello), was my first dog. It took an exceptionally long time to realise that no, he hadn’t gone to live in the attic (a place four-year-old me wasn’t allowed to go). My parents had made the heartbreaking but wise decision that an ageing dog in the same house as four children under four wasn’t the best living situation.

It was a few years before we got Dizzy (full name Desdemona), an amazing Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. I have an image in my head of Dizzy being quite a serious dog, but I know that in reality she probably wasn’t. She was certainly pretty well skilled with the ‘Toller scream’ (see – and hear – below). When she was a few years old, we decided to get a second dog, Mabel (full name Mabel.)

Mabel: The Best Dog Ever

I remember the day we went to get Mabel. It was quite a drive from our home, but I was so excited. It was unfortunate that when we got there we discussed she’d had a bit of a dodgy tummy, but because of the long drive, we had to take her home that day.

The smell of doggy diarrhoea is one I can remember vividly to this day. It didn’t help that my and my sister refused to put her in the boot because we wanted to play with the cute puppy.

Mabel seemed to stay as a puppy for most of her life, both in appearance and behaviour. When Dizzy was still around, Mabel was always beta of their pack of two, so never really needed to grow up. After Dizzy went over the Rainbow Bridge, we got Hector and Cassie. Mabel seemed happy to bow down to her feline overlords rather than acting like an adult dog. Even now, she has a cheeky smile as she climbs onto the sofa next to you, and she gets overexcited about any little thing.

She is getting older though. It’s what surprises me most when I go to my parent’s because I’m not there to see the gradual decline like when I lived there. When I visited last weekend, even sitting up made her pant. She wasn’t eating her food (although she was eating plenty of ice creams when offered) and would look at me in confusion when I tried to send her into the garden to go to the bathroom before bed. Whilst we’ve joked for many years that she was a dead dog walking, it became apparent that the date was fast approaching.

Saying Goodbye

When I left my parent’s last Monday, I made my last goodbye to Mabel. I was half expecting her to still be dragging herself around the house when I return later in the year.

It’s a weird thing with pets, isn’t it? That sometimes we know they’re going to die before it happens. It’s written into the calendar as something that will take place at a certain time.

My mum phoned me on Thursday to let me know the veterinary appointments have been made. One on Wednesday, for a checkup. One on Friday for the procedure. Part of me hopes that the vet may still turn around and say ‘Don’t be silly, she’s got years left in her.’ But it’s unlikely.

I know it’s not a decision that has been lightly by my family. It’s a topic we’ve come back to again and again. It is a kindness, to have her put down. But it’s still heartbreaking.

Owner lying on bed next to her red and white pet dog

Mabel has been around for half of my life. I don’t really remember a time before her. She’d been a constant companion – one of the best – and she’ll be greatly missed. Here’s hoping that my parent’s give her a good send off this week – with lots of ice cream.

A Good Send-Off

I’m going to be posting my favourite pictures of me and Mabel over on my Instagram throughout the week, so please check it out.

Love you Mabel, my stupid dog. Cassie, Moët, Chandon and Dizzy will meet you on the other side of the bridge.

Update: Good news! When Mabel visited the vets, they said they felt that there was one last thing they could try before putting her down. Something nmust be working, as at time of updating this post (1st Dec.) she is still with us! Fingers crossed we get to spend one last Christmas together.

2017 Achievements and Goals Revisited

 

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We’re nearly a quarter of the way through 2017, so now seems as good a time as any to review the goals I set myself for this year. This is also a chance to share my 2017 Achievements so far with you all, and for you to let me know how you’re getting on with you own in the comments  below.

1. Finish My Master’s Degree

Back in January, I submitted my first essays for my Master’s degree. I’m not going to lie, it was terrifying. I barely scrapped through my Undergraduate degree, so have been going through some serious imposter syndrome since I got accepted onto the course.

All of this taken into consideration, imagine my surprise when I more than passed my first two modules. My university doesn’t do merit grades for Master’s degrees, but if they did I would be well on my way to getting one. I honestly couldn’t be happier! I’m holding onto my achievements so far as I head into the Easter break – the time to get my next two assessments done and dusted. A distinction isn’t completely out of the question if I score well on these, so I’m going to be throwing myself into the work to make it the best that it can be!

2. Fit in More Crafting

I’ve been a little up and down with this goal. Some weeks I’ve been doing loads (generally when I have something to procrastinate from),and others I haven’t gone near anything craft related. I’m slowly improving though, remembering to make time for myself. I’ve also been reminded that I always feel better when my downtime still seems productive. With this in mind, I’ve taken to adding craft projects to my to do list, so that I feel like I’m getting stuff done whilst still making time for myself to relax. I currently have a couple of projects on the go, which I hope to share with you all soon. I’ve also just finished a huge cross stitch project that I’ve been working on for over a year. I’m hoping to post about it soon – it just needs to get to it’s recipient first!

3. Develop My Career

I started the year by returning to a career I thought I had left behind me long ago. In hindsight, adding a full time job on top of full time studies probably wasn’t the wisest of choices. Regardless of this, it went really well, and I began to question why I had ever left it in the first place.

So, since then I have been seeking out stage management work again. It’s been a little difficult, as I’m restricted by my contact hours at university, but I’ve been making a couple of applications a month. I even have a job interview this week for a perfect sounding job that would combine my stage management experience with my growing applied theatre knowledge. So, fingers crossed for that.

In the meantime, I’ve been continuing with my work placements for university. On top of my pre-existing one from last term, I have a new placement each Wednesday. This one focuses on Marketing and Administration; Two areas I have very little experience in but which will be essential in my future involving an amount of freelance work. On top of my work placement, I’ve started doing some paid reception work with them, which should help make ends meet!

I’m still not sure where all this is leading me. I suspect though that I might be heading towards a series of odd jobs to make ends meet, interspersed with the work I want to do. When I work out what that is, exactly.

4. Make New Friends

I kind of hate myself for putting this on my list of goals for the year. It’s not that I don’t want friends – it wouldn’t be on my list if that was the case. It’s just so difficult! I hate having to put myself out there. Years of social anxiety and trust issues have built a massive wall I have to climb over whenever anything remotely friendship like comes my way.

That being said, I have been making baby steps in the right direction (mainly with help from my lovely ‘Mental Health Specialist Mentor,’ courtesy of the university.) I met up with an old work colleague. I’ve been pushing myself to join more conversations between classes at university. Most scarily of all (for me, at least) I went along to a London Craft Club meetup earlier in the month. The bonus of this is that there was very little pressure to socialise, as everyone was engaged in their own crafts. Plus, it helped me towards my second goal of making more time for my crafts. I haven’t managed to go back since then, but I’m hoping I will some time soon.

So basically, no huge leaps of progress towards any of my goals as of yet, but a couple of little achievements worth mentioning. I’ve listed them below, mainly for personal bragging reasons. It also helps boost my mood when I’m feeling rubbish to remember everything I’ve achieved. Don’t forget to add your own achievements and goals in the comments!

 

2017 Achievements

  1. I have received good marks for my Master’s degree assessments so far.
  2. I worked on a show as a Stage Manager for the first time in three years. The show got great reviews, and I received high praise for my part on the show.
  3. Pushing myself to the edges of my comfort zone, I went to a craft group meetup.
  4. I completed a super secret craft project that I’ve been working on for over a year. Hopefully you’ll hear more about this really soon!

Christmas Card Challenge Day Three: Panels

I feel like this is a such a lazy design. I pretty much just found two papers I liked, stuck it through the die cutter and put them on paper. Still, the paper has so much detail that it feels like to add anything would be too much, and as the saying goes, ‘Less is more.’

That’s my excuse anyway.

But for a card that took less than ten minutes to make, it looks a lot nicer than some of the stuff I’ve made in an hour, so I’m going to leave it as is and send off to a relative with a nice greeting inside.

Ch-Ch-Changes

Way back in 2013, I was just starting my career in stage management. It had been my life since 2008, when I undertook my first Assistant Stage Manager role on a production of ‘His Dark Materials.’ I immediately fell in love with the craft, and for the next two years, most evenings after school were spent at my local theatre, working on productions as part of the Young People’s Theatre. (At one point, my English teacher pulled me aside and told me I needed to stop wasting time at the theatre if I wanted to get a decent A-Level grade – I got a B, and the highest exam result of my class.) When it came to applying for university, there was no question as to what I wanted to do, and I was accepted onto the stage management course at the (now-Royal) Central School of Speech and Drama.

Shortly after starting my career however, my mental health problems reared their ugly head again. By the time graduation rolled around in December, I had moved home and was unemployed. There was little chance of getting a stage management job locally, but even if there was, I couldn’t see myself doing it. I’d fallen out of love with it and, more importantly, I wasn’t mentally in a position to cope with it.

Looking for a new job, I re-examined my core values and came to one conclusion; I wanted to be helping people. After a brief time driving a van for a local supermarket, I found my dream job as a Support Worker for Adults with Learning Disabilities.

After a year though, I started to feel restless in the job I loved. I was starting to reach my peak, with no opportunities to grow becoming evident. I took on a part time role with a youth organisation, working in the development team to set up new provision in deprived areas. Like with my full time position, I fell in love immediately. But it was only so long before I became restless again.

I guess you could say I was bored. Whilst my part time job was providing the opportunities I craved, a majority of my week was the same thing, day in, day out. Part of the reason I loved theatre was that no two days were the same. And I wasn’t ready to give up my past. I wanted theatre back in my life, one way or another.

So here we are. September 2016 – time for a change.

Change One 

As of the 23rd September, I will once again be unemployed. I’m in the process of wrapping up loose ends at the moment.

Change Two 

I am moving back out of the family home, and returning to the frighteningly expensive capital city of London. Five bedroom house to a tiny bedsit.

Change Three 

And this should explain some things. I’m heading back to my alma mater as a postgraduate student, studying a Master’s in Applied Theatre. Applied theatre is “the use of drama in an educational, community or therapeutic context” (Wikipedia) – in other words, the perfect combination of my two passions.

It’s a lot of change in a short amount of time, and I’m constantly shifting between excited and “Oh my god, what have I done?”. But I’m mostly looking forward to the challenge and the change of scenery. And I’ll be sure to share my insights along the way!

Off-Topic Tuesday: My Latest Obsession

It started with just one pen. Now there’s three.

Fluffy Pens

I would be more, but they keep falling prey to the kittens at work (my poor Easter Bunny lost his ears.)

Who knows what it is about these pens, but I can’t stop buying them. Look at all that cuteness! (And at least no one steals them from me.)

Think Resilient

Last year, a survey conducted by Girlguiding revealed that 46% of girls between the ages of 17 and 21 have personally needed help with their own mental health. In response to this, Peer Educators such as myself voted that Mental Health and Resilience should be our next resource topic. (For those who don’t know, a Peer Educator is a member of Girlguiding between the ages of 14 and 25, who has had training in running sessions on social issues such as body image, sex and relationships and youth health.)

As mental health is a subject very close to my heart, I applied to be a part of the Task and Finish group, developing the resource and was very fortunate to have been selected. Following a lf and the rest of the team have been reviewing the resource, making it the best it can be. After a year of development, the resource was finally announced to the public last Tuesday. (Possibly even more exciting, a quote I provided about the resource was picked to go in the press release, so I now have a little collection of news reports I’m quoted in!)

Think Resilient
“I know low mental wellbeing is a major issue affecting the daily lives and ambitions of lots of young women my age. Many girls feel there is a stigma attached to talking openly about their mental wellbeing. I hope this resource will help to change that, giving girls the positive and practical solutions they need to build resilience and a safe space to share what’s on their mind.”

As I said in the quote above, I’m really hoping that this resource is going to have an impact on young women. My own mental health problems started to surface while I was a Guide, and access to the activities in this resource would have meant I was a lot better prepared to deal with what was ahead. If I can help just one girl who is in the position I was in, I’ve achieved my goal!

On the 2nd April, I’ll be off to Sheffield with my sister to be trained in the resource, and I cannot wait to finally hold it in my own hands. I’ll be sure to report back on the final product after that!