Farewell Facebook

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Currently I’m experiencing a common 21st Century problem of facebook addiction.

It’s not the site that I’m addicted to, as day by day I find it increasingly annoying but it’s the habit that has incurred since having the app on my phone and tablet.

  • Sitting in the doctors waiting room – check facebook.
  • Sitting on the bus – check facebook.
  • Waiting for a lift – check facebook.
  • Waiting for one of the kids – check facebook.
  • Finish one bit of work – check facebook.

And really, what am I checking for? What am I hoping to see that will add value to my day? Initially it was the newness of social media and reading all about the people you know. That’s how the habit formed. But now?

When it’s not a list of every single product, or video, or photograph that somebody has liked it’s the oversharing attention seeking status’ that make me cringe.

Occasionally there will be a status update from one of the few people whose presence you appreciate online. The ones that have something worthy of noticing, or post something that interests you and they are the reason you don’t de-activate your account. These are few and far between though.

I was going to deactivate my account last year but after having found a couple of writing groups on there decided to stick with it. If only I’d stuck to my guns last year I could have gone through the cold turkey and it be out of my life completely now.

Those writers groups are now not giving me the inclination to keep online as they too perpetually not only annoy me but make me question myself. People posting about how many pages they’ve written today, articles that they find useful that I have to read and it goes on and on.

What I should be doing is spending less time online reading articles about how to write better and actually get on with my writing.

So where has this dilemma left me?

Weaning myself away I think. First step is getting rid of the Facebook app and Messenger off my phone and keeping it off. That should help me lose the habit of checking everytime I have a spare ten seconds.

I’ll give myself a couple of months to unbreak that habit before I have the dilemma of saying goodbye to it for good.

Unless someone can convince me of a valid reason to keep the account. Don’t all shout at once because I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel this way.

Facebook – it was a blast but now it’s time to bid thee farewell.facebook like

2015 Year of the Sheep

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I’ve just read the 2014 Happy New Year blog post and it made me laugh.

I think I managed to achieve just one of the goals that I set myself this time twelve months ago and that was passing my masters degree.

Weightwatchers – well I joined and I did lose a stone last year but I’ve probably put that back on towards the end of the year with a decrease in exercise and an increase in baked goods for breakfast = no that’s not me below but if I don’t watch myself it might be………..fat mums

Backing away from Facebook – that lasted a few days and instead of tying myself in guilty knots about it I just accept that it is part of my life. Well, until Mark Zuckerberg starts charging for it.facebook

Buying clothes on payday – I don’t even remember writing that one……haha. Needless to say that it didn’t happen. I’m still happily living in jeans and converse, but after listening to an interview with the uber-cool Mary Anne Hobbs on Womens Hour I am going to embrace the fact that I like feeling comfortable. Hobbs states that she still wears jeans from seventeen years ago because she likes the comfort in them. That’s good enough for super-cool Hobbs then that is good enough for me – I might even get my global hyper-colour t-shirt from the loft and revitalise that.

Therefore for 2015 there shall be no resolutions. Resolutions merely state that there are elements about yourself that you are unhappy with and to be perfectly honest……I’m quite happy in this place that I’ve found myself in.

What about everyone else? Have you made any resolutions?

Ditching technology for paper

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This month I have gone back in time by three years, as I have purchased a paper moleskin diary in an attempt to get myself more organised.

I’ve been struggling to manage my time and the amount of tasks that I do during the week – and this is not even tasks to do with the day job.

Since beginning high school at the age of twelve I have kept a paper diary. I’ve even still got old diaries hidden away in my cupboards which now and again I’ll have a look at.

Three years ago I decided to embrace technology more, ditch the paper diary and keep everything on my electronic calendar which is on my mobile and on my work Outlook.

It works a treat. Every single appointment for myself, the kids and even the husband are added to the electronic calendar.

I’ve even gone as far as colour coding the various appointments.

It was working a treat until last month I ended up being asked to take on regular online writing, putting together match programmes for my sons sports team, arranging interviews for my weekly radio show and not to mention my own writing deadlines with the radio soap.

A lot of deadlines to remember every week, and I was starting to feel overwhelmed that I couldn’t keep a track on tasks and appointments.

Being organised is one thing that I am really good at in my day job. I can organise as many activities that are thrown my way, multi-task, prioritise and delegate.

Yet in my personal life I always feel like I’m drowning.

So I decided to go back to 2010 and purchase a paper diary so that I could see if it would help me in my aim to organise my private life.

Not that I need much encouraging in purchasing new stationery items. I decided to purchase a small moleskin diary which has the week listed on one side and a lined sheet on the opposite side which I use as a to do list/reminders.

Not to mention the colour-coded stickers.

Amazingly going back to the retro paper based product has worked a treat.
There’s also something really satisfying about crossing off items on a ‘to do list’ as well.

It has also made me realise just how much writing I am actually doing each week.

I may not be making progress on my personal scripts. I am however, writing two scenes per week for my collaborative radio soap, several features for a sports programme per week, online articles and submitting sketches and one-liners for a BBC radio show.

Have you ever ditched paper for paper-less, did it work for you?

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Radio Soap Writing Group

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My last post about Collaborative Writing was over 14 weeks ago, and I’m happy to report that I’m still part of the writing team for a new radio continuing drama series for a Manchester community radio station.

We started out five months ago as a team of fourteen writers, of all writing ability and over the weeks have now dwindled down to a regular writing team of six.

We have a full cast of characters with their back stories, storylines, real life actors have now been cast to start recording the series in two weeks time and we the writers are all frantically scribbling at an amazing speed to ensure that the scripts are ahead of each recording.

There is finally a name for the radio soap too although not sure if that is being officially launched in the upcoming weeks. Maybe not the best of ideas to publicise it on here in case there is going to be a big PR campaign planned for it in a few weeks time.

It’s great to be part of a writing team. I experienced it as part of my Masters degree in Scriptwriting for the Radio Drama module, but nothing is better than experiencing it in real life.

The best thing about the weekly writers meeting is that we all have our own ideas about how a character should react to a situation etc. However, the collaborative process means that we get to bounce ideas off each other and just having those discussions (sometimes heated) means that what could start off as a good idea can be bounced around and with a few heads getting together can come out as a great idea.

It’s certainly made me think about my future writing and the possibility of trying to find a writing partner to collaborate with.

I’m going to London Screenwriters Festival later in the month so maybe I should be on the look out for a collaborator.

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A Level results – a guide for parents

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The past seventy-two hours has been consumed with discussions, media and posts about A-level results.

Tip-top advice for any A-level student who need to know what to expect next with their achieved results.

But what about us parents? The world seems to discard the anguish and anticipation of what we go through during the lead up and on the day of that all important Thursday during August.

My Wednesday nights sleep was disturbed several times as I lay awake hoping that my son will pass his exams. A last minute change of university meant that he was holding out for clearing at a local university. images

I did advise him back in October 2013 to select one university close to home in case he had a change of heart about moving away. As usual, he didn’t listen to me so was left declining all his places and taking his chances in clearing.

I drove him to Sixth Form at 8.00am on Thursday morning and even before we got through the front door I could feel myself getting emotional. I knew I had to keep it together in case the news wasn’t good. Nothing prepares you for that roller-coaster of emotions, it was more nerve-wracking than two months prior when I was waiting to open my results for my Masters degree.

My son’s results were superb but he was a grade away from his first choice of university course. Being adamant that he would resit I left him with his friends and advised him to not completely disregard other courses or universities in the area.

Later in the day he informs me that his chosen university has an even better course that he is interested in and he has the grades to hopefully be offered a place through clearing.

Being laid-back he decides to wait a day to contact them. This is the part that I struggle with. I’m one of these that will get onto things straight away and not chance anything. He’s eighteen though, it’s his future and his life so I had to bite my tongue and offer support when he needed it.

He was offered a place on the course the next day and I was over the moon. The relief I felt was immense as I struggle with anyone having control over members of my family – and yes I know it’s not really strangers having control, but it felt like it.

Again though as a parent you are just thrust into the support role which you have to learn as you go along. Only being able to do so much and hope that your children make the right choices, work hard and succeed in life.

It’s all about the students, quite rightly so but nobody ever asks the parent how they are holding up throughout the stress and strain of exams. For good parents it affects us too so if you’re a young person going through this too – spare a thought for mum and dad.

Graduation

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Although I received my official MA results back in June, last week was the graduation ceremony to officially celebrate my achievement.

The ceremony was held at The Lowry, Salford Quays on a glorious, hot Thursday afternoon.

I was thrilled to arrive in the robing queue at the same time as members of my graduating cohort so the lengthy queue went by without incident as we caught up with each other from the previous summer.

What made this day extra special for me was the attendance of my loved ones. Sons, husband, parents and father-in-law all braved the blistering heat to watch me walk across the red carpet at The Lowry.

The ceremony began with a band and a singer all associated with the School of Arts and Media at the University.

Speeches were made and thankfully I wasn’t waiting long before we were gathered to begin our queuing to the stage. I’d forgot that they award the highest to lowest educational attainment.

Those receiving their PhD’s were first up, followed by my group of Postgraduates.

I recall being extremely nervous when receiving my undergraduate degree in 2009, but this time I had my family on the front row and I could only see my youngest son’s huge smile when I walked up to the stage steps. How could I be nervous when that beautiful smile was beaming proudly at me?

The ceremony lasted an hour and it was superb from start to finish. I savoured every minute of it, being with my classmates and family under one roof.

Once the ceremony closed I marched my family upstairs to more queues. I wanted a professional portrait with all of them before we finished the day with a lovely meal.

It was the perfect day to mark the end of one of the biggest journeys of my life so far.

From that very first lesson back in September 2011 when I nearly didn’t go back to class after the break because I thought I was in way over my head. The course not only educated me in terms of learning the craft of scriptwriting, it has sparked a real passion in radio drama which I didn’t know was there and has given me the confidence to rise to any challenges that come my way in future.

Thank you University of Salford. Here’s to the next journey.

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Celebrating Manchester

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Yesterday was the fifth year that Mancunians celebrated “Manchester Day”

The day boasts a mile long parade of various community groups, organisations and clubs through the streets of Manchester.

Attended by a record breaking 20,000, the Manchester Day parade was a successful event. A gathering of Mancunians and visitors to the great city for the one day of the year where we can toast our diverse communities and remember how we prevailed during the riots of 2011.

Parading down the streets of Manchester were Read the rest of this entry »

Farewell 30s

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This week I passed my Masters Degree in Television and Radio Scriptwriting.

It has taken two years and eight months of hard work, tight deadlines but to be totally honest I enjoyed every minute of it so much that it never felt like I was studying at that level.

Having a passion for storytelling and writing, it meant that I had a reason to sit at my laptop for hours on end, buy different coloured writing books to make notes on and spend a ridiculous amount of money on text books.

It is also a good excuse to binge watch fabulous television shows where I’m merely analysing how the storyline runs, how characters conflict etc.

The MA is also a fitting way to say farewell to what has been the best decade of my life so far.

I turn the big 4-0 in September and I’m already trying to think of things I need to plan on completing in my forties. How on earth can I match the past decade in terms of developing as a person?

I don’t recognise me as a thirty year old. Back then my life was all about getting through every day and not suffering with another panic attack, or a bout of depression. Anxiety and low self-esteem were part of my character back in 2004.

I was in an unfulfilling job and seemed to be afraid a lot of the time. Don’t ask me what I was afraid of – perhaps just living? One things for sure I felt stuck in a rut and the only focus in my life were my young children and husband.

Family is of course important but I also felt like I needed more in my life.

Then I had one of those life changing conversations with a work colleague.

I’d always wanted to study for a degree. My colleague had studied for her degree with the Open University when she was a single mother. She was then an Early Years Advisory Teacher, who ended up getting a job in the Grand Cayman islands training their teachers. She encouraged me to study with the Open University too.

“I’ll be 35 by the time I get a degree” I’d wailed to her, to which her response was just the response I needed. “You’ll be 35 anyway – you can either be 35 and with a degree or 35 and without one”.

That moment right there changed my life forever. The person I am sitting on my sofa typing this blog post is not the same person contemplating her future on her 30th birthday.

I graduated as an undergraduate in BA (Hons) Humanities with Media Studies in July 2009, age 34 (combining credits).

I will graduate in July 2014, age 39 with a Masters in Television and Radio Scriptwriting.

I learnt to swim age 33 years old. I can still remember my boys faces when I dived in the swimming pool in Spain and swam under the water with them (instead of my usual clinging to the side).20130821_140843

I went on a Fear of Flying course age 34, my first flight as an adult and since then have travelled to USA, Canada, Spain, Portugal, France, Menorca, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Amsterdam and Ireland.

From being paralysed in fear at talking to groups of people, I now present a weekly entertainment show on my local community radio station.

I have a fulfilling job working for a university in Media City where I get to help students on a daily basis. A complete career change for me leaving local government finance to move into Higher Education (wouldn’t have been possible without the degree).

It really has been a metamorphosis of character for me in the past decade and it both worries and excites me at the prospect of the next decade.

Will it be as exciting? Is there anything else I should do to improve my life? Or is this the decade where I should just chill out and appreciate life in general, enjoy the extra time now the children are getting bigger and swim in as many oceans as I can?

One thing is for sure. I’m a firm believer that there are key moments in your life and you can either choose to ignore them, or embrace them and make those changes.