Dear Diary: 20th February 2017

Don’t stroke the Mouse!

Mouse was rushed into hospital last Tuesday with a suspected stroke.

Nearly a week later all we can say for definite is that Thursday night his brain showed no sign of damage.

20 stroke like episodes later Mouse can barely move his left side or speak.

His NHS experience is far from positive but with every reason to be down my brave Mouse is still upbeat and planning new projects for when he finally comes home.

Mrs Mouse

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Monday Night Reflection: Trumped

Although a week is only seven days long, this last one has felt much longer. It started badly with no progress from meeting my Doctor, and then the new medication to help the pain turned out to not only have side effects in the common category that are worse than the pain, so I am supposed to go back and say. I don’t want to, and I can’t really face another 15 minutes of nothing happening. She won’t prescribe what I want to try and frustratingly I can’t find Actigall for sale. Without the prescription, I cannot get it here, and I would even fly to Europe if I knew I could definitely walk into a pharmacy and get it. To me, it’s utterly mad that I can have something with side effects Pregabalin has, and not the one I want which doesn’t have such nasty possibilities at all. That was a bad start, the pain this week has been up to the in a ball on the bed and blacking out level several times, and the baseline has changed with an extension of the pain to my kidney. The pain is distracting and exhausting, it comes with psychological sides. My bile duct is partially blocked and my liver has started malfunctioning as it cannot rid the body of what it has filtered out, I don’t like the word toxins, but essentially my liver is detoxifying away like it should and cannot get rid of that waste, so the waste products are going back into my blood. Jaundice is the yellow pigment of broken down bilirubin, and at the moment I am not yellow in a noticeable way, but the whites of my eyes are now grey and the corners do show shades of yellowing. Mostly I look a ghostly grey, which for someone half Italian with olive skin is quite an achievement. These waste products affect your brain, in my case at the worst my speech slurs and I have stopped recognising my wife, my short term memory is always affected, and confusion is really common. Added to that my emotional capabilities are altered, from getting really upset at things that are not upsetting and upset at the confusion because I cannot understand a really simple situation, to just a lack of any real ability to cope.

Overall, life has become difficult because while I experience the effects as real, I also know that this is not how I am. Literally, my body and brain are misfiring and I know it, and six months on its getting harder, not easier to deal with. The upside is that there are breaks where I feel a little more like myself and I am doing what I can to hit those windows of clarity, and in between trudge through those tasks I can do. At the same time as having less mental agility, creativity feels like it has tanked, I definitely type worse and my skills in dealing with my attention deficit traits are well below their usual level and while not disordered, it another thing making concentration difficult. It has been a difficult week on a number of levels, when you are not at your best and not really 100% the person you really are it affects personal relationships negatively, those around you are not getting the “you” they know and love, and you are not being that person either, so while I can medicate the pain away and even put myself out of life completely, what is missing from the medical assessment is that my quality of life is deteriorating the more this goes on. I have to hope that the ultrasound on Friday shows something up, at least lately I have a very direct and predictable reaction to food, with pain now getting swelling and heat coming with it, so not only do I feel it, but there is something to see. So the plan is a big meal before I go and provoke it to see if that can speed things along. My wife said that a good outcome would be to be in such a mess at the appointment I got admitted to the different hospital under a different team and something might happen.

On the back of this reflection has been difficult because unlike my plan I haven’t been making notes of the dominant threads of my thinking, and perhaps I haven’t really had any dominant threads to write down; reality is my ideas and thoughts pad has had a tablet on top of it all week and I haven’t used either, nothing much has moved forward at any pace all week on any level. The reality is that terms like behind and ahead do not apply to open-ended endeavours, but I am behind the day to levels of progress I would like to see.

Which is what I do, I accept that everyday is going to have a different one hundred percent because I am not a machine and that achievement has multiple measures. Three hours with a friend may not have any metrics of achievement but is valuable and worthwhile, whereas pushing forward some writing a few thousand words is instantly measurable but may have been the least valuable or worthwhile thing I could have been doing. In my system all tasks have merit, so cooking dinner and editing are not compared one more valuable than the other as absolute items, but rather as contextual assessments. At ten am cooking dinner could be a low priority, of it could be overdue depending on what is being made, and I have also learned to underpromise and over deliver with myself. In fact, the switch to pen and paper has really pushed me along in having realistic expectations. The discipline of having to get my Filofax and write my to-do list means that my actual “have-to-do” list has been culled of wish and would like to items. Everyday my phone would have 15 or more items on its daily to-do, now I have three. This has taken a massive amount of pressure off me and put my expectations firmly back as realistic. Important at any time; perhaps more important when I am less than one hundred percent.

So what has any of that got to do with the title of the reflection? This week has been dominated by the American President Donald Trump, even my little bubble has been made aware. I try hard not to get draw into political debates or discussions mostly because my viewpoint is unpopular with anyone partisan. Essentially both sides will hate me because I see problems and questions and ask them, and I am essentially pessimistic about things changing significantly. I have a dim view of what the collective “people” will do, and when it comes to the UK I am completely fatalistic because history tells a very poor story when it comes to collective action. Our last revolution was to put the Monarch back in power! However, I have let myself be drawn a couple of times into putting my pessimistic assessment of the world and its inhabitants and the response and I have allowed myself to engage with what happened.

When it comes to what people call serious subjects I have a strategy of first avoidance and then secondly detachment. Detachment I achieve by asking questions, this is hugely unpopular as they are things like where did you get that figure from because the three usual respected sources have completely different ones. It goes badly, interestingly the left think I am right and the right think I am left and the centre think I am both depending on where they are. If I think about that at all, then it is really funny. However, I engaged briefly but, rather like my personal circumstances, I felt powerless and rather irrelevant. The hatred, bigotry, things I avoid and find unacceptable were all I could see, and often in people I had considered to be more tolerant and accepting. Scratch the surface and there was not understanding and tolerance but hatred and fear. It was almost crushing. I have been “other” and as such on the wrong end of bigotry and prejudice, perhaps not to the extent of some groups, but being attacked, property vandalised, robbed, denied employment, decent healthcare and housing, I think, count as an introductory experience at the very least. I first experienced these at sixteen, the introduction was young, and prior to that, I had very little engagement with the real world, I had no need to and it was not required. I had decided a career, was chasing that, the rest I guessed would happen in due time. I had worked since thirteen, at seventeen I moved out of my parents on good terms and took things as a flow from there. I learned to cook and clean and manage my little life and get things done. As life expanded I went with it, not sure that was a great approach, it served me well then and its working well now, the patch in the middle where I went all planned did not work out quite so well. This is not saying I don’t plan, I really do, and methodically, I am known for being a lists person, something I have worked hard to put a lid on, however in terms of life direction I was never chasing the house, the car, the status and tangibles. When I did, things didn’t work. Instead, as a youth I sought out relationships and experiences, the difference is that then I was running from something and blotting out the painfulness of reality, now I am focussed on contribution and positivity. Back then it got me from almost no school qualifications to a Masters degree, something must have been working. I chased my dreams, and I let the rest happen along the way, let opportunities open up and took the ones I could and spent no time on ones I couldn’t because they were not opportunities for me, if they were I could take them. I was completely unprepared for the experience, I knew of it, but never expected that I would experience it first hand, it was like abuse, something I defined as impossible for me to experience because I really did not understand it. Experience is a phenomenal teacher.

What has that got to do with politics, it is that once again I feel despair and a desire to detach from the world. It is not a place I like. I have of course,  created a bubble of existence, something my young self would have recognised had I it pointed out. My life then as now is self-contained with a short range focus, being drawn into political discussion and engagement has opened my eyes to the truth that I am not about that level. I am too aware of my irrelevance, and my lack of any wish to do what it takes to be relevant, influential let alone powerful at a level where I could impact on these events. I would rather spend the day helping at a homeless charity/shelter than talk about anything with a politician because one makes a difference the other is just talk. And that is the crux of the matter, everyone is talking, people are making noise with marches and petitions but no action. Ghandi brought the British to their knees with passive resistance not marches and petitions, memes, tweets backed up with angry Facebook posts and shares. That would require the impossible, people to embrace the possibility of short term personal negative circumstances to effect change, however, with enough buy-in even those could be massively negated. The system everyone is so angry about is supported by their actions and as much their inaction, no one is saying, if we don’t engage after a while none of this can happen. In my own life, this has worked and I have stayed legal and within my rights of the situation, knowledge became my weapon, knowing where I stood meant I knew how to be passive in the most destructive way. I never moaned or bitched, I did something. The irony may be that as a student I was very close to the locus of power and did have influence, largely because I was completely uninterested in the exercise of power or control. I had the ear of people at the top of the student body, but no one knew, I never bragged about it, it was nice to be on the inside and know things, but they didn’t change my life or what I was doing. I had no desire to be a wheel in the political machine, yet there I was discussing those very things. I got in that position by proposing passive resistance, in that case doing what the University wanted the student body to do in the full knowledge that the en-masse adoption of the system would crush it and they would have to abandon it or change it to a working model, either being the outcome the Student’s Union required and wanted. It worked, and quicker than anyone expected, plus had bonus positives for the Student body that no one could have seen coming. The door opened, but I didn’t want anything out of it, I did learn how politics works at that level, saw the people who wanted to be part of it and how to get ahead. Hence my disengagement with politics and politicians. It is all a sham of self-interest and ego. Perhaps what I am driving towards is the mindset of “if you cannot change the situation, change how you think about the situation.

So my despair is based on engagement and understanding. I have then, by venturing out of my bubble found that I want to stay in it and cultivate it. Of course, I am affected by the world and what happens, but I have only got the option of awareness, preparation and reaction. What is coming, is coming and I am best being prepared and ready, or at the very least realising I am powerless and be ready to rebuild and pick up the pieces. Which is what last week was all about, close focus and the exclusion of worry about the things I cannot control or influence. As a coach once said, “control the controllables”. Right now I have situations which are not controllable, I am not driving the bus, not sure I even wanted on the bus, but here I am, and it will stop where it stops, and I will get off when I am allowed to get off, although if I don’t try I won’t ever get of off course.

I hurt, life has so many good elements that I have to be about not letting the immediate physical obscure that. Focus on what I can do, what I can control, cope as best I can with the rest, which is how I approach life and politics. Do I agree with what is happening or think it is right, no. Do I think good decisions are being made, no. Do I think my life is going to be made a lot harder and more difficult, definitely. Changes are coming, the best I can do is expect the worst, hope for the best and love my way through counting those blessings I do have.

Monday Night Reflection: Reflecting on Reflection

Monday Night Reflection: Reflecting on Reflection

 

The last week, aside from the Monday Night Reflection, was very much centred around both the discussion of prisons of the mind and the practical development that comes from recognising them. The thought from Elliot Wald was an expression of a deeper collective consciousness, perhaps due to new year introspection, that how we think is how we live out or lives.

I am privileged because I have the opportunity to talk to people in a meaningful way, small talk is limited and our conversations, often online, are rewarding and thought provoking. On the one hand, it is absolutely awesome to share any wisdom and insight I may have, and for my story to be a useful platform from which to help others, however, the most rewarding part is hearing other people’s stories, their insights and their lessons learned. While we all walk our own paths, we travel with others for parts of our shared journey, and to stretch the analogy a little, we are traversing the same terrain.

By talking to others, leads me to marshal my thoughts, in the same way as when some one simplifies and explains what you are doing back to you and saying out loud reveals the rather ridiculous nature of what you are doing (think the plot of Skyfall), when you talk ideas over with others, these conversations make me think through what I am doing. This process extends long past the end of the conversation and this week I stumbled into a behavioural road block which is very much rooted in the life I no longer have. I never planned anything for weekends, when I did I always had them approved a long way in advance and where possible would purchase tickets long in advance to ensure that plan would happen. However, the activity had to be worth it, very worth if it was something classed as just for me, I had to be sure what I was doing was worth the consequences that it would bring, both in the lead up to the activity, during and after. I never left for anything without being in the wrong about something, there was always at least some sort of making up to do.

I rationalised this by saying that weekends were ring-fenced family time and how important it needed to be to sacrifice family time. I would talk about how this was the time to give back for the support of my wife and child which they gave freely without really knowing all the time how much they gave up for me. It sounded great, and I had the line down like I was giving a BBC interview, the reality was I dared not to think about not doing what I was told when I was told at weekend. What happened of course, is that I believed my own lies, and I believed the story to the point where the reality was lost.

In my new life I kept the sanctity of weekends because that is what you do, that is what “good husbands” do. I had no pressure and it was never an expectation, it was just how married life works. This week that behaviour was challenged, because my illness has changed how I do life, and how I am approaching everything I do. In some ways the difference is subtle, in others the change is marked. In my wife’s words, I have gone from hoping to qualify for a British Championship, to retired, to planning my assault on a World Championship Podium. What hasn’t changed through the process is my ability; the change is simply how I am thinking. Instead of hoping small, somewhere I managed to start dreaming much bigger.

Part of that change has been reflection, not just this blog diversion, but generally. The move towards what I called living intentionally. In a sort of irony, the onset of health problems, and in particular this latest bout which is now approaching 6 months in duration with no end in sight, led me to a different place from which to make my evaluations. Previously I was, at first, firefighting and in the immediate present, with the transition to life as it is now, its calm and supportive environment, the welcome of a new family and the warmth of acceptance of me as I am came a focus on the baggage of the past. The ongoing task is, much of it done by Mr Mouse of course, is that of ordering and understanding both what had happened, and what I am to carry forward from those experiences. This blog is a reflection of this, and it mirrors my development and journey in that sense. The past definitely needed facing and dealing with, and it will always be my past, so in that sense it may be like a garage, just as it approaches done, something may need to be done, but it can also be parked and sorted out another day too. It would also be a folly not to recognise that for me, my past is repository of material and energy, in the words of Eric Thomas, it is time to let my “pain push me to greatness”. If I am already in pain, then I can get a reward from it only if I don’t quit. So contrary to many memes in internet land, I do not only look at the past to see how far I have come, I go to the past as a library of inspiration, lessons, and even fuel with which I can go forward better equipped.

The reality of the week was one of quiet doing, and return to routine after the Christmas break, it was a welcome calm. The decorations are gone, the kitchen table a working mess again, the fridge less crammed, the slow cooker back on the counter more than in the cupboard and us both back to work. Consciously there was probably not a lot happening, and even trying to reflect I was conscious that there was not an event to focus on per-se, just the settling of life into its new rhythm. However, there is a big difference at a practical level, with me deciding to walk away from my career a little more completely. In fact, the only client from that life left will be a close friend who doesn’t pay anyway, leaving is hard to do. The truth is, I lost a passion for the profession, but love learning and will no doubt be involved, just more detached and more relaxed.

In this more relaxed week I had decided to think about my blog, the direction it was going and any plans to change it, make it better, and if I wanted to deliberately push for more readers, or just let it be and let it grow out of its own energy. Part of that has been Monday Night Reflection. When I first had the idea, it was vague, to put it mildly and I will be honest I have not put a particular amount of intentional thought into what this Reflection segment is about, going to do, the purpose it serves, or how it is different from Thinking Out Loud, if it needs to be different at all. I suppose the fact that it is so much longer could be enough of a difference, not sure. What I did do way back then was get on Amazon (Marketplace) and order a couple of books on reflection.

I finally read one of my books on reflective practice, and what struck me about it was that I got nasty flash backs to my professional training and the rather unhappy time that was. It was about reflection as an academic discipline to be marked. I did persevere with reading the book and it was a diversion, maybe not a great diversion, to look back at trying to fit something I actually tend to do in an amorphous way anyway into a box to get boxes ticked on the marking criteria. I remembered that actually, reflective practice, in the academic sense, was an incredibly false activity, rather like putting on a stage performance of a day in your life. You mash together an amalgam of reality and what you want reality to be so its is presentable and in a certain format. Reflection to learning outcomes had no reality.

We based our reflection on Gibbs (1988) reflective cycle, and as a framework it looks appealing, but in reality to use it and then write about it academically, you are going to have to forget about honesty and transparency and write from the Conclusion and Action Plan elements so that you can tick academic boxes. While I am not deliberately writing to this framework, I am clearly carrying it around deeply buried in my subconscious because every Monday Night Reflection I feel compelled to both conclude and have some sort of

gibbs
Gibbs (1988) Reflective Cycle

point to carry forward. I am looking for something where I can vaguely or loosely go round the cycle, and I know it. As soon as I revisited the damn thing, I knew it was there all along just boxing me in. The question, of course, is what do I do with that. Using the cycle, feelings: horror and abhorrence at using any sort of framework, intrigue that it may be useful, Evaluation: right now, who knows, I need to think on this and do some Analysis: what analysis, it’s a framework what do you want me to say, how do I know if it is useful, it won’t be universally applicable, at best its going to help the publication process, but as a tool for life it certainly has massive limitations. Conclusion: there is no absolute conclusion, it is an open-ended process that can be revisited and done multiple times in multiple contexts, even just the applicability of a reflective framework is going to depend on the material and how far the development of thoughts on that material have progressed, my relationship to anything will change over time and therefore anything within the formal categories will shift too. Action Plan, I will think about it and probably pull useful elements out with a bit more conscious thought; more than likely I will be much more deliberate in my rejection of that which I do not want to do, is not useful to do or is not appropriate to do while recognising the root of any compulsion I feel to do those things.

 

Which drives me back to living intentionally. Reflection is my own thing, and I cannot escape it is guided and shaped by my learning experience, however, having spent time with the process of reflection I am better able to reflect deliberately in a way that I am comfortable with; or in short, intentionally. Without necessarily changing anything, my consciousness of what is happening is enough to move my behaviour from habitual to intentional. I feel this is okay because by being intentional I am also letting go of the sometimes overwhelming drive to change as if nothing about who I am is worth keeping. Which is coming from the messages of my past and not the reality of my present. By being intentional I can keep habits, behaviours along with patterns of thought and action just the way they are. The difference is that I can now be happy that I am happy with the situation, hopefully, lose the compulsion to change, and ultimately be content with any situation, changed or not.

 

 

Monday Night Reflection: New Year – New Me

I bet I almost had you with the title there. However, while we can make fun of the legions of overly enthusiastic New Year’s resolutioners that will start new exercise, crazy juice detox programs and other similarly well-intentioned but ultimately doomed ideas, it pays not to feel too superior or get too smug. Some of these people genuinely want to make a change, and I challenge anyone to honestly say that they don’t get a little reflective and perhaps even a little motivated to do something different when a new year rolls around. I feel a similar thing near my birthday, recognising that this line in the sand can be a good starting point or ending point.

I have not made a new years resolutions, the joke that I made the new year’s resolution not to make new years resolutions is somewhat appropriate. I believe, like Tony Robbins teaches, that I can make the decision to change in an instant, that like Ray Lewis has implored with passion, “I am not the man I was a few moments ago”, while I recognise that the act of implementing and embedding that change takes time, the decision, that choice, is instant. I wrote about wearing different shoes, that for me was a decision to change.

My big project, and if you like, my project for 2017 is to be intentional in implementing changes I have already made but failed to embed as habitual behaviours, like wearing different shoes. I have lots of shoes, more than one watch, bracelets that like, oodles of t-shirts that all fit perfectly, I have lots of choices. And because I haven’t really ever thrown many things away, I have now amassed a lot of stuff. I should say that with clothes, in my ex-relationship I only had around 10 t-shirts in my wardrobe at any one time and things could disappear for months, so it was prudent when I needed an item daily to have more than one weeks (I had 10 sets of thermal underwear for example). When I moved out, and it wall all brought to me, I realised how much stuff I really had and actually was able to get rid of things that were just not me, especially clothes I had worn trying to be someone else.

The thing is, probably like anyone with self-esteem issues coming off the back of a life marked by abuse of some kind, while I had choices available, I simply acted out of habit. Wearing the same t-shirt for days to save washing, not showering to save water or because I had got in trouble for the time it took. Things like why are you showering now when you could be with your kids, or you can’t shower now I am waiting on a parcel and going out, they create behaviours that stick. In my case, I’ve started noticing I have quite a few of these behaviours that I can break away from.

However to break these past habitual behaviours I have to be intentional. At one time, I thought simply making the choices available would be enough, and I have wasted a lot of money having multiple items in pursuit of the magic number of choices that will set me free. Failing to recognise that too many choices will paralyse just as no choice will imprison. The reality is, I had the same prison I had all along because the bars were in my mind. Breaking out of the prison of my mind has been the theme of the last few years, in fact, the purpose of the majority of what I do is now as a result of that endeavour. How I look, how I spend my time, the relationships I cultivate and who I cultivate them with have their root in destroying that prison. Somewhere along the line, I realised that while the doors were unlocked and I could now come and go as I pleased, I was choosing to return to the prison. The prison had become my home, and I was comfortable in it, I was scared of the outside world and of freedom. I would go so far as to say not only was I comfortable in my prison, my prison was comfortable for me, it protected me and kept me feeling safe, markers of my institutionalised brain.

Having had a dysfunctional and abusive childhood transitioned into troubled teenage years and into a dysfunctional abusive marriage I learned protective behaviours, patterns of reaction and thought that allowed me to be happy and cope with the situation. It felt normal, I believed that my experience was the majority experience, that what I saw was the same face that I gave to the world and that behind it people were just like me. Statistically, looking at the prevalence of abuse, I was onto something. The reality is, the majority of people do not live a life like the one I had, and that my belief that was happiness and “perfect” relationships were things other people had was based in truth. I still feel that the life I have now is somewhat unreal, going to end inexplicably and that something will be revealed that causes it to crumble away, even though I have nothing and no idea of what this “thing” could be. My experience of happiness is of something fleeting, transient that is replaced with hurt. When it came to happiness there was always a price to pay, and part of me is waiting to find out what that price will be.

That was my life experience, and when you experience a life of consequences and finding happiness in adversity, where success is taken away, belittled and celebrated so you can be knocked down, you build yourself protection. The sad fact is that the better you manage to protect yourself, the more effective your barriers and coping mechanisms are the more imprisoned you become, the easier you are to abuse and the tighter the abuser’s grip becomes.

I was lucky, I was thrown away, however, while I avoided having to run and escape, that ultimately was all I avoided. I am not a man who walked out on his family, instead, I was made into something worse. My freedom from abuse has come at a cost, the piper has to be paid, happiness has a consequence. The pattern is hard to break.

However, living intentionally is about breaking the grip of the past on the present. Being intentional is about living in a way that recognises that the situation that made my mental prison a sanctuary has passed and that the prison is only that, a prison that holds me back, confines me and isolates me, depriving me of my liberty to be happy. That living in the prison is no longer a wise choice, and that my enjoyment of life and the richness of relationships is never going to happen behind the walls and bars of isolation. The challenge is to act despite fear; fear transcends rational or logical thought, in my case this is a fear that used to be a danger. Because just as the film tells us, fear is not real, danger is real, when danger transitions to fear because the danger is over, acting on the change is much more difficult because your fear is rooted in what was a reality.

So this is not technically a new year’s resolution, I made it before new year, however, it as a resolution for the new year. It is not new, when I embarked on my post marriage life I was immediately living differently in a practical sense, but mentally I was also immediately living intentionally. The difference is that now, I recognise what I am doing is intentional and deliberate, I realise that it takes commitment, persistence and dedication to change intentional behaviour into habitual behaviour, and last of all, I am systematic about my intentions. I am not driven by not being someone, which my early efforts certainly were, I am driving by a positive vision of who I am and having how I act and who I am inside, be congruent. Not drifting along on habit, I feel, is a challenge for anyone, for someone escaping or surviving abuse it is more difficult because the behaviour previously had utility. In the same way screaming and crying works to get a new-born baby positive attention and its needs attended to, it doesn’t take long until the reaction is very different. Outside the abusive situation, it can be very much the same. What worked to protect you in danger does you harm when you are not. This can be extremely pervasive, not just in how you handle personal conflict, but in my case it extends to the smallest thing like how I get dressed, the clothes I wear, how long I spend getting ready, whether or not I shower, yes, which shoes I put on and even the music I have in a playlist.

While I may resist the temptation to make a New Year’s resolution, I am not immune to the pervasive spirit of reflection. In fact, I embrace it. If more people took the time to reflect, and even knew what constructive reflection was, as opposed to maudlin in the past, then I think people would find more happiness and direction.  When I write a Monday Night Reflection, I am not the same person when I finish as I was when I started, they change me because I want them to and because taking the time to pick a thread or two from my life and look more closely at who I am, what I do, how I behave and what I think makes me more conscious of what I am doing. Reflection drives me to be intentional, to choose who I am and how I act in the world. Reflections drive thoughts and other reflections as well as creativity.

Finally, while I may not have made any Resolutions, I have made plans. My big project to be more intentional extends past just wearing different shoes and taking a shower more often. Living intentionally is also about setting goals. I am wary of setting goals, I deliberately set only one or two big goals for a year because I know that within a big goal there are a lot of steps and milestones (little goals) to achieve along the way. In my creative life, there are an almost infinite number of possibilities I could explore, my focus is on a few, Learning to sew using a sewing machine, as well as by hand, and ultimately learning how to make clothes, and other fabric items is one of them. In my professional life I have one goal which will involve a lot of milestones, and when achieved could result in some amazing rewards for me. These rewards are what many people would call goals in themselves. For example going to a big conference would be a goal for most people, for me, the goal is what I need to do to earn the right to go there. The conference could be cancelled, I could get sick, I may have a responsibility that precluded my attendance, a whole bunch of things could stop me going to this conference, however, what I achieve to earn my place cannot be taken away. The recognition of that achievement can be denied, but the work, the effort, my achievement on the journey and what I learn on that journey I possess by my effort. That is what really matters to me.

It is then into 2017 with deliberate intentions and s.m.a.r.t. goals I go and I, of course, wish anyone who reads this a productive and happy year – new or otherwise.