The loss of a great mind

I hardly dare write my blog today in honour of the great Stephen Hawking an inspirational man not just in terms of his great scientific mind but his amazing personal journey and fight against motor neurone disease.

As a non-science girl I believe he made science accessible, interesting and inspiring to everyone. He attended the great St Albans School where for many years they have had their own Stephen Hawking’s Society through which his works have encouraged many an inquisitive young mind, and, will continue to do so.

My title for today’s blog is of course a contradiction in terms as we haven’t completely lost a great mind as he leaves such a fascinating legacy. Our generation have been fortunate to have had him as a brilliant mind challenging the way we thought about the universe and its secrets.

All forms of media will be recording his many thought provoking quotes today -following taken from an interview on Radio 4 with John Humphreys:-

‘If we discovered the complete set of laws, and understood why the universe existed, we would be in the position of God. We are making progress towards that goal, but we still have some way to go.’

 

Empathy and confidence

It is no secret that one can learn empathy but nothing beats having walked in another’s shoes to really know how they feel. Even the most confident person has experienced times in their life when experiences have left them feeling isolated and possibly insecure. It takes great courage to fight the natural instinct of flight and stay and fight.

However, as one gets older and reflects back on those conflict situations we would rather not have encountered we realise that they were all indeed character building. I often say to those in need of positive input and support that no experience is a waste and it is true that it is not what happens in our lives but how we handle it.

I am mindful what works for one person will not work for another as we are all different but we all have to move forward and grow in our own way and try to be the best we can. As my great mentor used to say ‘worrying about things won’t change them’ and that is sound advice.

My years spent in marketing and sales it was a case of every complaint is an opportunity and when things are tough in life it can be just the opportunity we need to make that change in our lives we are struggling to avoid making.

Seize the day and live one day at a time…as in reality that is all any of us can do. Remain curious and take that adventure as it is offered.

 

 

Helping the bereaved not ignoring them

Earlier this week during a visit with a bereaved lady we both agreed how we put on a brave face with those around who are also struggling in coming to terms with a loss of a loved one. Why is that? Over the past few years I have read many books on the beravement journey of others and have my own experiences to recollect too and what is blatently obvious is that to deny somebody’s right to grieve openly is of no use.

I am certain I would have said this before -my own mother said people crossed the road to avoid having to speak to her after my father died suddenly. It made me cross and upset then as a child and still does. However, shall we just be angry with the person that does that or should we feel sorry that they cannot find the words…any words?  As I have written in various articles just a hand on the arm or shoulder and ‘i’m thinking of you’ will suffice nobody who is recently bereaved expects you to say something profound honestly!

What we need as a bereaved person is for people to acknowledge our pain and the existence of those we have loved and lost. We have such a long way to go still in this country in dealing with how we approach the subject of death and it is something all of us will have to encounter and deal with at some stage of our life.

In a world where people post so many private things about their life (which frankly I would rather not see) I find it hard to believe that talking about death leaves them dumb struck.

As always I am sending a little reminder that it is after the funeral people need you to to phone or visit and let them know their loved one is not forgotten.  For anybody who is feeling alone in their grief then please talk to somebody, your loved one would not want you to suffer in silence and most of all celebrate their life.

Student wellbeing -The RVC

Our Prime Minister spoke this morning in support of awareness and assistance in terms of mental wellbeing within education. The move to train teachers to spot signs of mental health may be seen as a step in the right direction -however what we actually need is more funding within schools to employ more trained counsellors/pastoral staff to deal with the growing stress factors that face today’s students.

I sadly often hear how schools fail children in respect of not adhering to the anti-bullying processes they are meant to follow and/or taking individual cases as seriously as they should – much to the distress and frustration of both students and parents.

However, I must take this opportunity to congratulate The Royal Veterinary College who do take the wellbeing of their students seriously. This starts from day one aiding students considerately in preparation of their interview for a place. During a recent visit to the RVC’s Hawkshead Campus it was also good to see their new sports centre named as ‘The Sport and Wellbeing Centre’ which is free to all students.  I think this speaks volumes of how valued their students are and how the RVC recognise both education and preventing student stress need focus and investment.

Here’s hoping some of the stress can be reduced if our government address and implement some of the financial improvements being muted for students persuing a university education.

Supporting students

I am mindful that this week is mental awareness week for children and these events give us all a platform to encourage our children to open up, if they are able. Over the past few weeks I have had several discussions with colleagues working within education and one common theme is recognising how stressful it is for today’s students.

Thankfully proactive schools consider positive intervention which can take many shapes. I write often about the value of mindfulness and, of course, taking regular exercise and considering yoga both are great ways for staying relaxed and fit. The various breathing and calming exercises that take just a few minutes can really make a difference in quickly regaining a position of tranquility and calm.

As parents we must ensure that communication between our children during exam time is kept open without appearing to be nagging but encouraging and offering support.  Providing a base that is quiet when needed and positive social inter-action to stop them from suffering cabin fever by isolated studying!

As I discussed with a mother recently – at times we feel we are going through the exams with them! Good luck to both students and parents this coming year, stay focused, positive and be proud of your achievements.

 

NTA Awards -animal awareness

All forms of media is full of last night’s NTA awards and it is always great to see those who do their job so well getting recognised. Interestingly two of the awards go to two of our national treasures who work and help promote the plight of animals and our planet. Sir David Attenborough who continues to amaze and enthral us all and of course the lovable Paul O’Grady doing such fab work for re-homing animals.

We need those prepared to speak up for animals and who are not afraid to talk about the bad side of human nature as well as the kindness we can all apply to make things better.

A new blog follower has asked where do I get my info from to write my blog? It’s observing life, experiencing life over six decades, self-development through studies and finding time to find out what makes people tick.

People are important material things are not..sometimes we lose sight of that fact. Slow down and talk to one another.

Fighting our fears

Fighting our personal fears is a daunting prospect, but those fears may be holding us back from realising our dreams and even living a normal life. I have just watched the emotive ‘School for Stammerers‘ on ITV. What an amazing, sad yet hopeful documentary showing the journey of a group of mixed aged stammerers attending a course to help them control their speech problems.

As with many things in life the psychological impact runs deep and expressed in the show as being 90% fear for those with a stammer. It revealed how those suffering build up barriers preventing them from leading normal lives.

The course was a huge success with one thirteen year old boy saying ‘The course changed my life as I am free.‘ Being able to control their stammer all participants gained new lives,  were far more confident and with some being able to secure their personal and professional dreams. Whereas prior to the course even saying their own names was a real emotional struggle.

This is one well worth watching but be warned it will need the tissue box handy.

The value of life -A Mother’s Love

If one googles ‘the value of life’ all sorts of quotes will come up. The one I wish to share today though are lines taken from the poem by Helen Steiner Rice:-

‘The value of life is not measured in length but in deeds’

It reminds me of one of the many quotes from my own amazing mentor and mother:

‘The time to be good to people is when they are here..too late when they are gone’

It may seem obvious but in our busy lives we forget this sometimes she also taught us to be grateful something modern day people forget. In remembering to be grateful we actually become happier so it’s simple but oh so effective.

Currently reading: ‘The things you can see only when you slow down‘ by Haemin Sunim.

As with most books I read of this nature I hear mum’s voice and this voice was the reason I wrote and produced my kindle book  ‘A Mother’s Love’ available from Amazon to download:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Annie-Manning/e/B005XXYJL0

Cherishing the elderly

I was once told that I was born old…had an old soul! Maybe this is why I have always had a great affinity with those in their Autumn years especially those who keep spring in their hearts.

Over the years and during my working career holding various positions I have witnessed some truly amazing things, but, also seen and heard things that make me my blood boil.

I am appalled when people are dissmissive of our aged friends and family members who have so much to offer from their personal wisdom and even perhaps their local and social history knowledge.  Additionally, those who deem fit of ignoring people in wheelchairs…only yesterday whilst out shopping I met an amazing lady of advancing years who had great character and looked stunning and her wheelchair was only a barrier for those with a closed mind. The encounter was brief but memorable.

My professional working projects with the elderly have brought me great joy and borne friendships that I will never forget. It has been a real privilege during one-to-one session work to get to know individuals and their personal stories.

As I was only saying yesterday to one of my own mentors nothing in life that we do is a waste and we go on learning. Exercising patience, love, kindness and understanding can enrich the lives of others and of course our own!

Positive Monday

Mondays can be a bit of a drag some weeks even for the most positive soul. But isn’t it great when the week starts off with positive news? Over the past months I have had the privilege of helping a few friends, family and clients with keeping motivated after interviews have been non-productive.

Often the reasons we don’t get that brilliant job we felt we were made for are nothing whatsoever to do with us, our skills, or how we performed on interview…and sometimes it is because something better is out there with our name on it.

However, getting back on the job-seeking horse can be daunting when our self-esteem has taken a knocking, and would-be-employers or agents saying ‘you were over qualified’ is just simply unhelpful.

Sometimes we just have to be patient and that great opportunity will come along and have our name on it and all is perfect in the world. So for one talented young man, who may read my blog today well done…I am almost as thrilled as you.

As for me; well I had a surprisingly high mark on my first assignment on my  latest course. The first one is always the hardest… getting back into the swing of studying and trying to gauge whether one has ‘done enough’ to please the tutors is often daunting. We are never too old to accept positive feedback nor be excited to receive a great mark!

I am now in an excellent place, to a) start assignment number two and b) see what Tuesday holds.