2015 is/was tough

I can’t believe how long it is since I posted!

Tonight, I am on control duty for SERV Kent and, as I was logging an earlier call, I realised that it will soon be a new year. Now, I am not stupid, I realise January and 2016 happen in a few weeks but seeing January 2016 pop up on the calendar made me realise just how close a few weeks seems.

This set me to thinking about 2015 up until now. It has been tough but also fun; sad but also happy. At the beginning of the year, the new neighbours showed just how noisy 2 skinny girls can be. I’ll gloss over the neighbours a bit as legally, there are things I can’t say and morally, things I won’t. They’re beyond noisy, music, fighting, all sorts. Some of the other neighbours and I have been forced to call the police on several occasions and, thanks to all the stress, lack of sleep etc, I gave up on uni for the rest of the last academic year. It’s been a tough ride with them and isn’t yet finished. And that is all I have to say about that.

At the beginning of the year, my lovely step nan died which was really sad (that sounds so lame!) I felt hugely guilty about being happy to reconnect with various members of the family at her funeral but that is what happens. I loved her so much but hadn’t really been able to put it into words with her, I hope she knew.

A couple of months later, I was made head controller with SERV Kent, a massive honour and responsibility which at the time, was a much needed boost. I hadn’t realised just how much work went on behind the scenes but I attacked it as I always do with new learning curves and am thoroughly enjoying it.

Then, in the summer, something that I had been thinking about a for a while got given a sudden push, I dumped my boyfriend. He had been there for me in the days after I filed for divorce which was great but our relationship never developed which was not so great. My only (and I mean only) regret is that I didn’t tell him face to face. I couldn’t, not because I didn’t want to but because he didn’t turn up to see me when he said he would which was becoming a regular occurrence. I am no longer a notch on someone’s bedpost (sorry to my family for that sentence!) I had spent a long time, several months, now I look back, feeling less than important to him but hadn’t had the courage to do anything about it for way too long. The speed with which the musings about it became an action hit me like a truck but, thankfully, I didn’t fall apart over him, far from it. That tells me it was absolutely the right thing to do and the right time to do it. I actually smiled when I met with my university mentor and told her what I had done, I genuinely feel like a huge weight has been lifted and even admitting that doesn’t make me feel sad.

I am back at uni, my attendance thanks to ongoing lack of sleep hasn’t been anywhere near great but I am doing OK. My first essay got submitted on time and, despite me convincing myself that it was the worst one I had ever written, I got a mark of 62% which I am so proud (and a little suspicious) of. It made me remember that I can do it, that I really do deserve to be at university and that I actually do have a reasonable amount of intelligence in my brain! All those doubts will come back in a day or two, I’m waiting on the mark from my second essay and a plank would be able to tell me that was nowhere near as good as the first!

I sent my mum a text telling her my essay mark for what I described to her as a crap essay and her reply made me giggle:

“You clearly have superior and higher goals than your lecturers. Well done”

Thanks mum and, I think you’re right. In case she’s reading this, yep, I said you were right! I am unbelievably hard on myself when it comes to my studies, I constantly berate my own work and abilities and this absolutely needs to stop…now! Ah, who am I kidding? I will probably never stop it but will do my best to be less hard on myself.

So, a tough year but also, in a weird way, one of the best I’ve had in a long time. That reads weirdly, even to me. How can a tough year be a good one? Because I am still managing to function, I am coping with all the crap being flung at me by others as well as by myself. And, get this, I AM strong. Until today, I had never believed that but now I do and I will remind myself of that every time I feel like just giving up and hiding under the duvet forever. I expect I will still fall every once in a while but I know that I won’t stay down for long and that every trial that gets thrown at me from now on will lead to me getting even stronger.

I hadn’t planned on such a long post, it just turned out that way so I will end it with this:

2016, bring it on, I am ready for you!








Meeting Maggie

As well as getting Pete from The Cinnamon Trust, I have recently been approved as a volunteer dog walker. I didn’t know how long it would take for me to be allocated a dog but it didn’t take very long. Last week I met Maggie a cute and cheeky Westie. Her owner is a lovely lady, very chatty and makes a great coffee. The 3 of us went for a short walk just to see how Maggie and I got on. We had a good little trot although I ran out of treats and had to pretend I had some to persuade her to walk rather than sit. She obviously enjoyed herself as she went straight to bed when I got her home. 

On a Wednesday I will now be found somewhere round with a little westie walking about 10 steps before sitting for a treat but as she is an elderly girl, I will of course bend to her will. 

If you have some free time and would like to volunteer to walk a dog for someone who is unable to do so themselves, think about doing it through the Cinnamon Trust, have a look at their website and send your application in. 

Pete’s first few days

The day after the Cinnamon Trust volunteer had brought Pete to me, I had to leave him, I had a ticket to see the Olympic men’s hockey and I wasn’t giving that up for anything! I was a little nervous leaving him as I was looking after a kitten at the time and they’d only really had a few supervised hours together. 

Olympic day dawned and I left, worried about I was going to come home to if I’m honest but it had to be done. I was fairly sure everything would be OK as Pete really didn’t seem to harbour any visciousness towards the kitten but you can never be sure. I came back late that night and was relieved when I opened the door to not find clumps of fur and blood all over the place. In fact, it looked very much like they’d been sleeping next to each other before I put my key in the door!

The next few days were dedicated to making Pete feel settled, it was quite warm but I couldn’t keep the back door open because the kitten hadn’t had his jabs and I didn’t want Pete disappearing. After he had been with me a few days, I went out into the garden with Pete. He wandered round, sniffed the air, rolled in the dirt, all the things that cats like to do and then he went back indoors. Over the next few days he spent longer outside and showed no signs of running away so I was able to calm down and worry less when he was outside, especially as I found he was quite biddable and responded to his name. To be fair, not always the first time you call him but he gets there fairly quickly. 

The kitten was rehomed and then me and Pete fell into a comfortable routine, he’d shout for food and I’d feed him, he’d shout at the back door and I’d open it, honestly, what more could a cat need? 

How I got Pete the cat

Have you ever heard of the Cinnamon Trust? I hadn’t until a good friend of mine volunteered wuth them as a dog walker. I looked into them and they are amazing. They are a charity dedicated to helping elderly pet owners (primarily) look after their pets. There is a team of dog walkers who give up their spare time to visit the pet and owner and take the dog out for a walk, this is a hugely important thing especially if the owner is unable to exercise their dog anymore and, of course, it gives the dog the exercise it needs. In addition to this, they also have foster carers who will look after an animal on a short term basis if their owner goes into hospital or on a long term basis if the owner goes into a home that doesn’t accept pets or they feel they are unable to care for them anymore. 

After my cat, Gerry, died last June, I felt lonely but also didn’t feel that I could afford to have another cat and then I remembered the Cinnamon Trust and gave them a call. I was told all about Pete and that his owner was going into a home, the trust had offered to find Pete’s owner a pet friendly home but that wasn’t to be for a number of reasons. 

Anyway, that is how I was lucky enough to be selected to have Pete, I may foster him but he is here with me forever and I love that (and him, don’t tell him though he’ll just want more food!) 

If you feel you could give a small amount of your time to help a housebound pet owner or have some space in your house and heart to foster a pet, check out The Cinnamon Trust, they really are brilliant. 

Something voluntary

My University offer a programme of awards that all students can earn through volunteering. All you need to do to sign up is log the details of the voluntary work you are doing and then log the hours as you do them and as each threshold is reached, you are emailed to congratulate you on getting the award. So far, I have earned the bronze award and am over halfway through the silver. How have I done so well I hear you ask? Easy, I volunteer for SERV Kent as a controller. Now, unless you have heard of them you are probably a little in the dark about what they(we) do. Well, put simply, Monday to Thursday from 7pm until 6am and Friday from 7pm until Monday 6am they collect and deliver blood supplies to and from local hospitals. You can read a much better description on the website.

The runs are ordinarily done by motorbike unless the temperature dips too low for the products being transported, cars are then used. Every volunteer rider/driver uses their own vehicle and fuel for these runs as well as giving up the chance for a full night’s sleep in a cosy bed.

I’m not in possession of any wheels except for my mountain bike so I take the calls from the hospitals and task the riders from there. It is as responsible a role as the riders, after all if there was no controller, they wouldn’t have any runs allocated to them!

At this point I feel that I should make it clear that I do not do this for extra credits on my degree although that is a bonus! I do this because it is something extremely important and the way SERV operates makes it cheaper and I am sure, quicker, for the hospitals to get the products they need. I am doing the day shifts this weekend which means I am on duty from 6am until 7pm both days, my bank balance loves it as does the housework that I do with one ear listening for the phone!

It really is an amazing feeling when the first rider you have sent out texts you back to say their run is complete. I was extremely nervous on my first call until I heard back from the rider, I calmed down loads when I got that text! Now, I would love for there to be hundreds of you rushing to volunteer with SERV either in Kent or your local area but I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you are in a position to give it a try, voluntary work of any sort is very rewarding. See what you can find in your local area and give it a try. I chose SERV as it is an amazing service and I can do it from home which as I occasionally feel the need to hide indoors when my depression gets to me, I can still volunteer and feel useful without forcing myself outside my safe front door.

So, look up your local volunteer agency, most councils have them and give it a try and if you approach SERV Kent, be prepared to meet and speak to some amazing people.

It’s 2013!

So, I survived my own cooking at Christmas which is always a good thing to admit. I have also not set any New Year’s resolutions for a change. Considering I am one of those people that has usually broken them 2 weeks into the year I thought I’d better not bother this year. Instead, I am committing to improving up my weight loss/exercise regime. Since last March, I have lost 20lbs which is pretty good going to be honest, especially for someone who is not exactly 100% motivated all the time. 

I have also started volunteering with SERV Kent as a controller and tonight is my first shift. I have had control of the phones and men on bikes since 7pm last night and will hand it back at 6am. For my information, click here to be taken to their website, sorry but I am not awake enough to type that much info for you, it has just gone 3am you know! The University encourages students to volunteer, we can be awarded a variety of certificates dependent on the number of hours of volunteering we have done and which of a vast number of skills we have used during that time. 

I go back to University next week and have been missing it a fair bit this week. I have a small piece of work to finish off, nothing that is desperately needed but it has to be in before term starts which is made extremely easy in the age of internet and email.  

I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year, normal service will be resumed after the start of term.