Being kind

Being kind and grateful feature frequently on my blog and I often say how kindness is not a weakness. Today I will quote a few words from ‘Alfie’ by the great Burt Bacharach to ponder:-

‘What’s it all about, Alfie
Is it just for the moment we live
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind
And if only fools are kind, Alfie…’

On speaking about kindness and being grateful with various pastoral colleagues it often seems that to some modern day people it’s uncool to be either…but I am an old-fashioned girl and believe we only get out what we put in and demonstrating kindness in all that we do, considering others… then we are happier ourselves. At the end of the day be grateful for any small achievement, success or happy moment and I promise you will wake up the next day feeling more positive and ready to face the day ahead.

Speaking to a recently bereaved gentleman yesterday; I reminded him to think about the good times and funny moments he had shared with his wife and after our unscheduled encounter he said he felt better and that made me feel grateful for my training too.

To the icecream man who gave me a free icecream this week after a hot afternoon invigilating- thanks for that tiny act of kindness Mr Whippy. You made an old girl very happy.

 

 

Getting ready…for exams

When I started my psychology course in the Autumn I chatted with my tutor saying how I had been putting off  beginning my course for one reason or another. After sharing for a while I soon realised that this was not the case as my work and life experiences had been preparing me to a certain degree to be in the right frame of mind, and, be better equipped to respond to what would be required of me.

I had great momentum going throughout the course returning each lesson promptly and starting reading and research for the next whilst my tutors marked my latest offerings. Then…suddenly the past few months when I should have been starting my exam I seem to have been distracted and whilst there is no time restraint (aside of those I impose) I feel I am starting it later than I intended.

The sunshine of the past few days and the welcoming blue sky brings us all out of the winter blues which I know a lot of my colleagues have found to be never-ending this year. I am now sitting in the garden re-visiting one of my reflective reading books and ready to resume my studies and face my exam. Maybe it is partly down to the fact that I will be invigilating exams the coming months and the student in me is coming back.

I am mindful that as I write my blog students all over the country are also starting to revise for exams. I will of course start to post blogs about exam stress…or should I say how to avoid it very shortly but for now here are a few quotes from ‘The things you can see only when you slow down’ by Haemin Sumin.

‘Wear confidence, It is the height of fashion’

and

‘Love, not righteous words, can change people’s lives’

 

 

 

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.’

 

International Women’s Day

Today I started celebrating International Women’s Day by having a ladies breakfast at the Waffle House with two of my favourite women. I am extremely fortunate in having known and worked with with some amazing women in my life many of whom have been great mentors.

I look on with pride at the younger generation of females who are so confident, sassy and non-judgemental and who have ambitions and the energy to follow their dreams. Spurred on by positive supportive mothers and great role models in other female family members and successful friends no challenge is insurmountable.

As a mother of a daughter for many reasons I realise the world can be both a cruel place and one of great opportunity and for those wanting to take the plunge and make something good of their lives…it will happen.

Last year I attended a great women’s conference where a speaker suggested that world leaders and heads of large corporates should adopt the many positive female traits of compassion, empathy, caring and sensitivity to work towards world peace and fairer and more honest business practices.

Here’s to being a women with the world at our feet.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

The love of a pet

For many people who are animal lovers they may be accused at times of going over-board in terms of how they care for their pets. The reality is if you have a pet you should be prepared to look after it properly and consider all aspects of its health and wellbeing. Animals rely on you to love and protect them and ensure that all their needs are met.

Over the years we have had several cats and loved them all with each one having different characters. Our beloved maisy was a rescue cat and has given us many years of love and affection, such a sweetie but very sensitive.  Today she has been to see our lovely local vet as again she is suffering from detachment issues which manifest themselves in over-cleaning. This is part of her fretting for her human sibling proving one cannot under-estimate the love and attachment a pet feels for its family members.

My followers will remember last time we had similar problems I enjoyed the effects of the pet clamer plug in a little too much, so this time I am only plugging it in for a few hours at a time. Maisy is sat next to me whilst I am blogging and relaxing following her steroid injection. Hopefully I will be able to report that her fur reverts to its pristine condition very shortly.

So for those parents suffering from the empty nest syndrome as our children return to university following the Christmas break…remember to check the furry family members who may also be feeling the void they have left.

 

Personal statements

For many students this will be the time of year where they are considering their options and university choices. They will be required to write one of the most difficult documents they have probably encountered so far. I am mindful that this is created within 6th form/school and those within the education sector may enjoy and share my thoughts.

Please view my article on Innovate My School’s website which also includes some useful tips-

http://www.innovatemyschool.com/industry-expert-articles/item/1617-seven-tips-for-writing-your-personal-statement.html

 

 

Preventing bullying

As the new term at schools commences there will be many children and parents concerned about the bullying that sadly exists within schools. Hardly a day goes by when we are not hearing about a tragic account of either face to face or cyber bullying and the drastic affect it has on the victims. Schools and parents should be reminding pupils to take responsibility for their actions and just how dangerous bullying can be when it gets out of hand…banter is only banter when everyone is laughing.

Only this week I was talking to a mother who expressed her frustration in the poor way her son’s school had reacted to her pleas for help. This was also the subject of a phone in today on This Morning TV.  Sadly, parents who are faced with a distraught child are often feeling so understandably emotional and helpless that they do not have the energy to fight their child’s corner. In addition they can be met with reluctance by some schools to actually deliver the ‘anti-bullying programme’ they are duty bound to impose.

I echo the advice given today; if your school are not proactive, talk to the chair of governors, local authority or when appropriate the Police.  Please read my piece on tackling cyber bullying on Innovate My School’s website:- 

http://www.innovatemyschool.com/industry-expert-articles/item/1670-how-schools-can-tackle-cyberbullying.html