Sunday, 3 March 2019

The 100 Job Challenge is back

I am sat here writing this with absolutely no idea what to say, but I'm going to carry on typing until I do! (I bet at this point you're really glad you clicked the link to read this! - I am very grateful that you did though, so thank you!). Basically this challenge is my baby, I came up with this crazy idea about 4 years ago, and even though almost everyone that I told about it thought it was a ridiculous idea, I went ahead and did it anyway. It turned out that people actually thought it was a pretty cool idea and donated lots and really got involved. I was even on national TV talking about the challenge 'my brilliant idea' and the condition (I should add it was a tiny channel that has since shut down! But still it was a huge achievement!). I just tried to find the link in case you wanted to check it out, but apparently they have even been removed from YouTube! You'll just have to take my word for it...so here's a still of it instead! Also in case you haven't been following me, that's Stich the challenge mascot, that I made for one of my jobs (I don't usually go everywhere with a teddy...honest!).


If you followed this challenge from the start, then I'm sure that you will know that it all started because I developed a rare condition called a Migraine Variant Balance Disorder...something which even doctors hadn't heard of! (which was really helpful!). I won't go into all the details, but if you're interested I have earlier blogs about it - so check them out! In a nut shell this meant that I couldn't work, and trying my best to turn a horrible situation into a good one I decided to focus on the things that I could control instead of the things that I couldn't. The things I couldn't control were the condition itself, or the fact that I couldn't work. But the things that I could control was how I reacted to it, so I decided that if I could no longer do the jobs that I had done previously - then I would explore what jobs could I do (by trying 100 of them!).

I was also pretty upset that I hadn't been able to do any charity work either. My job pre MVBD had been for a charity. I also tried to do one fundraiser a year to raise money for Cancer Research UK - I did quite a few 5k runs, a half marathon (with zero training which I definitely wouldn't advise!!) it started at about 11pm and I had a Nando's just before heading for the start line - which funnily enough I don't think you will find recommended in any blogs about how to prepare for a half marathon, and for good reason! Basically by the end I was seriously weighing up whether to pass out in a bush or finish the race. I'm pleased to say that I chose the latter! I also did a skydive which I loved, but was slightly terrified as my boyfriend at the time said he wouldn't come and watch in case I died...great way to help calm the nerves babe! (I should point out that he had a serious phobia of heights so the thought of me throwing myself out of a plane was the most ridiculous idea he'd ever heard - although come to think of it, I think a lot of people would share that view even if they didn't have a phobia of heights!). Anyway where am I going with this! Well because my head felt like it was mostly in space and no longer attached to my body I couldn't do these kinds of things any more. Which is why I decided that whilst I hoped the 100 job challenge would help me to learn about this new me who possessed (lets try and keep this positive, and say...) limited skills compared to the old me. I figured I made up the challenge, so I could make up the rules too! So I decided that it would also be to raise money for charity - win win.

Fast forward and I have done 37 jobs to date....although only 2 jobs in the last 2 years, which I have battled with in my mind because I am not the best at putting my health first. That part of this learning about how to be the new me has certainly been an interesting one. Naturally I am someone that always pushes myself to do everything to the best that I can, which I have done - but my best now doesn't really measure up to my standards of what my best SHOULD be. I am a massive shoulder by the way, my life coach even told me so! I have been trying to convert from a shoulder to a coulder (those of you who have delved into self help books should know what I mean...see I do it without realising, I'm shoulding again!) and for those that don't, it means I have been trying to rephrase things in my mind from I should do them to I could do them, the idea being it reduces my expectations of myself. So unfortunately the 100 job challenge took a back seat as I got myself back into paid work, and my health wouldn't allow me to do both. Me being me, I then stepped it up a gear and am now doing a full time psychology degree (with the small ambition of hoping to cure MVBD, and get my memory back...more about uni life with a lack of memory another day!), whilst also working and trying to stay well - which has not been easy! My life coach had some other wise words for me...you can do anything but not everything. I have really missed my challenge, so I gave myself a good talking to (not out loud don't worry), and asked myself - what things are most important to me? You might think that being someone who's intrigued by anything and everything is a great way to be (and I wouldn't change it), but it certainly poses difficulties, especially as I have less energy than some these days.  My 100 job challenge is pretty far up the list of what's important to me, so I have tried to restructure things to fit it into my life again.

Something else that I have learnt on my journey is that baby steps are key, I am notorious for setting these huge goals and making things difficult for myself! So I've started off by messaging a few places about seeing if I could go along for the day (FYI working as a dementia researcher looks like it will be the next job on the list). Next was to start an Instagram account which apparently I had already done and forgotten about - so that one was easy! Although I clearly didn't tell anyone about it because I currently only have one follower...me!! It would be amazing if I could have some followers other than myself...so I'd be super grateful for you to have a little peak next time you're on insta! @100jobchallenge.

Next on the list was a bit more tricky - another random and annoying aspect of this condition is that I now get overwhelmed quite easily. I have got quite a few notes about jobs I've completed that I have written on my phone but that I haven't yet edited and transferred into actual blog posts, the thought of that put me off writing anything at all. Today I decided that it's ok that it's not perfect and not totally up to date - I just need to break that fear by writing one blog....even though I had nothing to write about! I'm actually pretty pleased that it appeared I did have something to write about, woo! So if you've made it to here without getting bored then thank you so much for being part of my huge step of overcoming my overwhelm (good job I'm writing this and not saying it as that's a bit of a tongue twister!), seriously though, I'm super grateful. It's interesting (or frustrating...potato, potatoe) because I started my previous job as a volunteer, and quickly worked my way into a paid role and (I can't remember what word I want right now, hi MVBD. If you could see me now, I'm acting it out trying to get my brain to remember!) ah that's it progressed!...woo hoo I'm making progress ;) because of my rather good organisational abilities. The downside to being super organised is you get given more and more work to do! About a year before I was diagnosed, my work that I would usually find really easy suddenly became really difficult and started to pile up all around me. I would put it off and put it off until my boss sat down with me and worked through it with me (I was so lucky to have such an awesome boss, I had to pay for my life coach to do that with me for everyday life stuff!). It wasn't until I was diagnosed that it all made sense, I was told that was one of the many random symptoms of MVBD...whoever said a migraine is just a headache really has no idea! Trust me to get something so weird!

So anyway I think I've taken up enough of your time with my ramblings, what I really wanted to say was please share my challenge as I am starting it again! wooo! And keep your eye out for future blogs (so apparently I could have said this whole post in less than 3 lines...soz about that!). I'd love you to spread the word, and definitely get in touch if you have a job that I can do for the day - even if you think you have a boring job, I can assure you I will find it interesting!

Again thank you so much for your support, and for taking the time out of your day to read this. We'll speak again soon!

Bobbie :)


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Best & Worst Parts of my Journey to Recovery


I want to start by saying that I am so sorry for being so quiet the past few months, I had some serious recovering to do! I promise I will publish a blog about that, but today I wanted to focus on the end result rather than the process! (I should be writing a 5000 word essay right now, but I figured that this was a productive way to avoid doing that! Although it’s pretty incredible to be able to say that I am now capable of writing an essay – all previous attempts have come back with sentences finishing midway or making no sense! I’m finally the healthy and improved version of the old me!).

So anyway, today is quite possibly the best day of my life to date, and I now know that there are many more to come! Today is the day that I am moving back to the house where this whole rollercoaster journey began! I am so incredibly grateful to my mum for letting me move home two and a half years ago, if she hadn’t who knows where I’d be now. I do know I would probably have lost one of my very best friends. One of the symptoms of MVBD can be extreme mood swings – and in my case getting seriously angry over errr not a lot! One particular memory that I have is when I suggested to my friend that we start getting milk delivered instead of having to go to the shop. We had friends over all the time, and we’re pretty rock and roll so got through a fair bit of milk! He wasn’t up for the idea, no big deal you would think!...except I got sooooo angry.  I apologised – I didn’t even care where we got our milk from! I knew I had to move out or I would risk causing irreparable damage to an awesome friendship! Luckily he forgave me for moving out the next day and leaving him an orange ceiling that took 12 coats of white paint to cover…and I am now moving back to my old room! I honestly never thought that the day would come that I could move back out and start to live like a fully-fledged adult again!
Work was equally amazing today - it was one of the busiest days that I have known in the year of working there! Why is that good I hear you ask? Well I must confess that I am one of those weirdo's that loves work (hence doing 100 of them free of charge!), but it was also the first day that I finally realised that I have my brain back! Until recently a day like today would have been a disaster with me struggling to work out how to write peoples phones numbers down let alone do ten things at once! (I work at a florist for those who don’t know – it was job #5 of my 100 jobs and I loved everyone there so much (and luckily they thought I was alright!) that I never left!). Did I mention that I am well enough that I doubled my working days from 2 to 4 last week!
 
I felt quite teary this morning when I thought back to two years ago, when I had reached the point in my condition where I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel and honestly didn’t want to be on this wonderful planet any more. When I look back now I have no idea how I got myself through those dark days, the prospect of spending the rest of my life feeling the way I did was just not an option. Thankfully I somehow managed to keep the faith that one day I would be able to find a cure, in spite of the fact that everything was pointing to the fact that was the impossible. I am so glad that I am still here today to tell my story and live the fantastic life that I have been given. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to share with the whole wide world that I seriously considered taking my life, but unfortunately I know that I am not the only one to have those thoughts - I think it’s a side effect of having a long term ‘incurable’ condition that not many people are aware of. This whole experience has made me realise that you don’t have to be anything extraordinary to help people. I always thought I had to be something amazing to make a difference, but I now know that just by being ourselves and living honestly, we can help others to do the same. After having my life blown to pieces, it is finally coming back together – except this time it is a million times better than I could have ever imagined with so many more incredible people, experiences and life views than I had before. The worst time of my life was actually the best time of my life because it forced me to discover who I really was and what’s really important to me. Anyway I think I have talked enough for now, but I just wanted to share my story – even if it helps to give one person hope that a seemingly hopeless situation can get better then my whole journey will have been worth it. Thank you so much for all of your support, I have been truly astounded by the kindness of those following my challenge. If you would like to sponsor my journey for an incredible cause then please visit: http://bit.ly/1rUotsK
 Lots of love
Bobbie J  

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Have I found a cure for MVBD?

I would like to start by apologising for being so quiet on here for the past few months - it has partly been a conscious choice and partly a choice made by the universe! As you have probably gathered, this 100 Job Challenge has been so much more than just trying out jobs for size. I have been learning so so much as a person, and am constantly evolving. It's been such an incredible journey, but certainly an unexpected one! 

Before I was struck down by MVBD (which coincidentally I think I was meant to get, so that it would guide me to all of these wonderful lessons!), I was let's say a perfectionist - to put it mildly. I had so much crap going on inside that I really didn't want to deal with, so looked for self value in perfection. I seemed to think that the more perfect I could be the less I would hate myself...apparently it doesn't quite work that way! I ended up being unable to spend even a second in my own company, and as a result had absolutely no idea who was! Then along came MVBD who not only forced me to spend a LOT of time alone both literally and mentally but also made it very difficult for me to fill my time with mindless distractions as a lot of the time I couldn't even leave the sofa! Anyway why am I telling you all this - well the whole experience has made me believe in something so much bigger than myself. I now believe that everything that happens is for a reason, and there is no such thing as a good or bad experience - it just highlights learning that needs to be done! I am now able to say that I am so grateful for getting ridonculously Ill! Anyway, I thought I'd learnt a lot and so I asked the universe to be healed (if it was the right time of course, as I believe it knows what's best for me far more than I do!), and low and behold I received a message from a friend telling me about a unique treatment that they had tried and that had cured them...thanks universe, and Giuseppe! That was on the Monday evening. On the Tuesday whilst having a lovely morning stroll with my dadio I asked if he fancied a road trip to Germany so that I could try out this new treatment! He said yes - no persuasion required! By the Tuesday afternoon the appointment was booked, work for that week was cancelled and in a few weeks I would be on my way to freedom! Something else that I have learnt is that if something is meant to be then it isn't an effort, not to say it won't be a lot of work (nothing like a couple of 24 hour road trips to test your endurance!), but it will all come together easily without having to be forced! 

So on Monday 15th February 2016 we drove 800 miles through 5 different countries in 22 hours to try this new treatment. I just knew this was the answer to my prayers, quite literally! We travelled through rain, wind and snow but everything worked out to perfection. We arrived for the ferry at 1.30 in the morning and drove straight onto the boat, after a 6 hour drive we arrived at my appointment with about 5 minutes to spare, as I'm sure you can guess we drove straight onto the ferry home too! 





At the start of the appointment we discussed the numerous symptoms that I was experiencing and the possible causes. I should probably tell you what the treatment is first shouldn't I?! At the very top of the spine there is a bone called the Atlas bone, this is a ball and socket joint that is held in place by a LOT of muscles - it holds your head on! There are various reasons why it can become dislodged (and held out of place by all those muscles), which can then cause unlimited symptoms, makes sense as its where all the messages are carried from the spine to the brain! Now you know what it is I shall continue! I then had to whip off my top and have a photoshoot with a laser level to see the state of my back...it was pretty bad! I guess when you have had something for so long you just learn how to deal with it and don't realise how painful it actually is. I knew that the treatment involved 2 rubber tipped 'drills' that vibrate at seriously high speeds to relax the muscles, but that was about it! 

I laid face down on the bed and Immo felt to see if he thought the bone was misaligned (incidentally if it isn't then you aren't charged for the visit), he thought it was, but had then do an hours massage with these drills to check it wasn't just that the muscles were giving a false view on things. This was supposed to be the nice bit, but unbeknown to me my back was in such a state that this was far from relaxing! Luckily I had my meditation to get me through, although I still think it's amazing that he managed to get my muscles to relax when I was far from it! He then had another feel to see if the atlas was out of place, which is was! Hooray - after reading their extensive website I just knew that it had to be. He sheepishly said that now would be the next part of the treatment, that was a little more painful...he said in that tone where you just know he is lying when he says a little, and I can confirm he was! Luckily this was the quick bit! I had to sit with my head against his chest (so that he could get maximum muscle power!), he then got one of the drills and pushed it as hard as he could into my skull 3 times - wow! I was so proud that I'd managed to get through it...then he says let's check the rest of your spine...whaaaat?! I thought that was it! Of course my C2 was also out, and this one has to be drilled from both sides...yay! A fair few other vertebrae were also not where they were meant to be but luckily they were done manually rather than with the drills! Immediately after the treatment I felt like I had been given a brand new body - whilst at the same time feeling like I had been beaten up...Ironic eh! I had actually grown an inch and a half taller! My shoulders finally sat where they were supposed to and I felt like an owl I could twist my head so far! I headed back over for more photos which showed just how much better my back was looking. 

It turned out I had scoliosis - which is a curved spine. I remembered I had been diagnosed with it when I was about 12 but after several osteopathy appointments thought nothing could be done so had forgotten about it and learnt to deal with it. Apparently the type of scoliosis that I had is caused by the atlas bone being misaligned...it all started to make sense! I was also in a pretty bad car crash when I was 16 that broke my nose and collar bone when I head butted the person next to me (sorry Owen!) - which was obviously a big impact to my poor little head! Then a few days before the whole MVBD saga began I was at a festival, and went on the most furious funfair ride I have ever been on throwing my head all over the place! Doh! 





Since starting the challenge I have now sadly got quite a few friends that I have met with MVBD, although I am very glad to have them in my life and think they are awesome! I often propose my latest theories to them to try and find a common link between all of us! Turns out all of us except one suffer with bad backs and have been involved in some sort of accident! The atlas can also be misaligned at birth, so my theory definitely isn't ruled out! Anyway, I have taken up enough of your day! I will publish a separate post to tell you whether the treatment worked or not! Thank you so much for reading and for all of your support.

Love
Bobbie :-) 

P.S If you would like to find out more about the amazing treatment that I had then here's the link: https://www.atlantotec.com/en/


We were still smiling after 22 hours...just about!! 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards



Why have I started making videos? Well after the filming on Friday I was really proud that I hadn't let my nerves get the better of me and that I had taken back the power to be how I want to be rather than letting fear control me - that took a lot of work by the way! But I was also really disappointed as although I had spoken about my challenge and how I had got to that point, I didn't really manage to get across the journey that I was on or insights that had come up along the way...you can't schedule inspiration, especially with a head that works on its own terms! Lol. So I thought why don't I just start making short videos whenever I feel inclined to do so - which is what I am doing!
 I spoke a bit yesterday about being a perfectionist and trying to unlearn that. At the start of my 100 job challenge I had a list of 100 jobs that I wanted to try, the plan was set I just had to follow it - just how I liked it! But pretty rapidly things would happen, such as my condition getting worse, suddenly not hearing from the job or whatever - something would happen that meant I had no choice but to deviate from the plan. Can you imagine how annoying that was, I had even worked out the order of the jobs so that one would help with the other and now all of a sudden the order was getting changed and there was nothing I could do about it! Now i realise how ignorant that was - life is unpredictable and that is what makes it beautiful! How could I possibly anticipate the best journey for me to take in a world of infinite possibilities?! I now go entirely with the flow! My list is null and void! If I see a job i fancy trying, I send an e-mail - if I don't hear back it wasn't meant to be. If someone asks me to try a job and I really don't want to do it, I say yes anyway! If suddenly get to ill to go to a job - I thank them for their generosity and apologise profusely - If they are happy to reschedule excellent if they don't respond then that is all part of the journey. At my interview on Friday he asked what jobs I would really like to try - It made me realise I am so into just going with the flow in relation to my challenge that I hadn't given it any consideration - I actually couldn't answer! I just know that wherever this is meant to lead it will happen with no input from me! Life knows far better than I do and I trust that now! I am working on applying that to every area of my life...I didn't say it was easy but it is certainly worth it! So far I have found that if something becomes a struggle then I am probably trying too hard with something that isn't meant for me! I have put a lot of time, passion and energy into my challenge, but no real effort. When you want to do something and you know it's right then I don't think any effort is required - effort to me means it's something you don't want to do or isn't right for you if you have to try that hard at it! That being said its a lot of work overcoming fears that I come up against in my head, but again I don't see it as an effort because it's something I wholeheartedly want to do. 

I love writing and really enjoy it as a way of communication (something I never knew until I started my challenge).  I'm not sure videos are my forte, but they are a great way to instantly record what I'm thinking! Sometimes it all comes to me too quickly to write it all down before I forget, so a video could be the solution to that! Plus I can't be as perfect with a video as I can with writing as it's instant - I can keep remaking it but it will be different every time! It's not like writing where I can spend hours rereading and reworking it until I'm happy with it - I have to just do it and then send it out into the big wide world! I've been watching live videos by an inspirational speaker called Scott Stabile (you should check him out), I love them because they make you feel way more connected to the person which is awesome! Writing connects differently as I think it gives you the time and space to explore what is being said in your own time and in your own way. Anyway I think that's all for now! Follow me on my Facebook page 100 Job Challenge if you would like to check out my videos! Thank you for your support. Much love Bobbie xxx

Monday, 16 November 2015

Job 26 - What it's like to run a craft centre




Job #26 (woo hoo I'm over a quarter of the way through!) was working at a craft centre. It's really the lady that runs it and the people who go to it that make this place the crafting wonderland that it is!

 I'll start off by explaining a bit about the company. It is a community interest company, so is almost a charity but not quite! The company is called Unravel & Unwind and is held in a wonderful space called Intra which just oozes art appeal everywhere you look! There is another artist who is also based in this space and it is just magical. Unravel & Unwind hold 'drop ins' 6 days a week - which they are hoping to extend to 7. There are numerous craft sessions that people can come along to. You don't have to have any previous knowledge and can even just come along for a chat without joining in if that's what you need! Sometimes they are directed by an expert, and sometimes they are like the session that I attended today where is it a learn as you go format so everyone is teaching each other which is great! The company formed very organically and Faye very much wants it to continue that way. There were a couple of volunteers there today who were coming up with new classes that they would like to run. Faye wants it to be a real community project, so goes with the flow when it comes to new classes. The felting class that I attended today is once a month and started in January as it was something a couple of people fancied giving a go - they watched a YouTube video and away they went! It's an absolute bargain too, for just £7 people can come along for the day, and all materials are provided. I should add that all the materials that Faye sources are made by local suppliers to continue with the community theme. People also have the chance to display their work, quite a few have had their pieces sell too!


Felting was so much fun and something I hadn't even heard of! It's very therapeutic, and we had great fun experimenting and seeing what we ended up with! I can't wait to go back and try some more classes and learn some new skills! 

 
The most amazing part of Unravel & Unwind however has to be Faye who runs it! She suffers with a condition called Fibromyalgia among many other things. This is a very difficult thing to live with, and left her unable to work. This is how Unravel & Unwind was created, a business doing what she loves on her own terms! Unfortunately companies aren't too quick to hire people with invisible conditions like ours and in a way I can't blame them as our bodies can be pretty unreliable at times. For those of you that don't know much about Fibro, the body is in extreme amounts of pain and gets tired very easily along with head fog and a multitude of other symptoms. You would think this would make it pretty impossible to run a business, but with an extreme amount of determination Faye is a shining light to all of us to show that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. Pretty much everyone that attends the sessions at Unravel & Unwind has an invisible condition of some kind or another - although it's not a requirement! It creates a wonderful place for people to come and socialise without worrying about the affects of their condition. Every person in the room today suffers with memory loss, so it was completely acceptable that we didn't know each other names, how we take our tea or what we were even doing there! It's a great deal of pressure that we put on ourselves in the outside world to seem 'normal' but faye has created a safe environment where we can be our own kind of normal with no need to worry about being seen as rude or feeling judged. There were even two people there with MVBD too! It always makes me so sad to hear people's stories about invisible illness, but it also gives me the determination to carry on the struggle to find a way to overcome these things. Each and every person there today was a true inspiration, I can appreciate the struggle that it would have been for them to come along today. What a fantastic project, it really is a magic that needs to be experienced to be appreciated as it is impossible to put into words. Invisible illness can be so isolating and what Faye has done is create somewhere that people can go and for a few hours can feel completely understood.

This has definitely gone into my top 3 on the job list so far! What an incredible job helping the community whilst helping your health, being creative and helping others at the same time...I really don't know what more you could ask for from a job than that!

I asked Faye a few questions to unravel (see what I did there!) what it's like to run a craft centre, here's what she had to say:

1. How long have you worked in your job and how did you get into it?
I've been working on Unravel & Unwind CIC since December 2013, with the studio space opening in March 2014. The job found me, I had been having visions of it while I was unemployed and recovering from the last serious cfs/me/fibro flare that caused me to become unemployed. I had started to teach myself to crochet as part of my personal healing and was having no joy in finding employment. So with the help of the job centre I built my own job.

2. What's the best thing about your job?
I love being able to be creative in the company of like minded people. Sharing skills, knowledge and ideas is just touching the surface of what I love. Everyone I interact with have their own story to tell, but the common factor is that many suffer from hidden illnesses such as depression or fibromyalgia, and all any of us want is to spend time with people who understand while crafting. For some reason, while we are being creative we don't "feel" our illnesses and we feel "normal" for a while.

3. What's the worst thing about your job?
The paperwork - I deal with all the bookings, accounts, social media and the end of year tax returns. This takes up a fair chunk of the working week, but hey if it's gets too much I just turn my back on the computer and get back to crafting 😊

4. If money, time, education etc were no object what would your dream job be?
I'm going to be truly honest and tell you that I am in my dream job. I just need more hours in the day and more energy to do all the different types of arts & crafts that I want to try.

5. What stress rating would you give your job (where one is super relaxed and 5 is super stressful) 
Most of the time it's 1. I only reach a 5 when I'm working out the accounts. 



Thank you so much for letting me come along to experience your wonderful centre! If you too would like to Unravel & Unwind (what a great metaphor!) then visit www.unravelandunwind.co.uk


If you would like to sponsor me on my challenge by donating to the wonderful charity that is The Meditation Trust & their project researching the impact of Transcendental Meditation with helping people (particularly soldiers) to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder then please visit: http://www.100jobchallenge.co.uk/donate

Friday, 13 November 2015

If you could swap lives with someone would you do it?


People have said in the past that they would love to trade lives with me. The caveat to that would be that they would have to swap absolutely every aspect, it can't be all rainbows and unicorns after all. I wonder if they knew the full story whether they would be so eager...

Truth is the parts that they have seen that they quite like the look of are all a result of hard work and the support of my incredible friends and family. The bits they haven't considered when making such a statement are probably less desirable, and things that unfortunately I have no control over. But none the less I have to find a way to live with them each and every day. 

Let's have a peek through the looking glass and delve deeper into this grass that appears to be greener! This is how your life would be if you made the swap, should you wish to accept it...

You work part time. We only have to work as much as we need to to sustain the lifestyle that we choose. If you want material possessions - the biggest house, the newest car or latest smartphone then of course you're going to have to work your arse off. Maybe your at work so much you don't even get to enjoy the things that you work so hard to get, but at least you can say that you have them. In your new life however, you have opted for experiences over possessions. You value life more than you value status within society. That being said, some people are just dealt shitty cards and have to work their arse off just to scrape by. They are going through their own struggle. You are lucky enough that you have a loving family to support you whilst you recover. 
You work part time because that is all you are well enough to do at the present moment. You have some pretty fierce criticism to deal with mainly from yourself but sometimes from others. You have to keep reminding yourself it's not because your lazy that you can't hold down a full time job. When you do go to work, you work at a florist. You love your job. Sometimes you'll feel amazing, but most of the time you will be battling trying to stay awake. It can take a great deal of effort to walk in a straight line, your head may be attached to your body but a lot of the time it feels like it is orbiting somewhere in space! A customer comes in to place and order, the majority of the time it's a real struggle to remember all the details you need whilst trying desperately not to give away your dirty little secret...your head doesn't work - that wouldn't look very professional now would it. You find it so difficult just to get your head to tell your hands how to write the correct phone number. When you have to add the cost of the flowers to the delivery cost, you might as well have been asked to perform some sort of complex algebra as it's just as difficult for you. You look forward to going to work and the variety of tasks and challenges it provides. As well as being surrounded by awesome people. You are one of the lucky ones who loves their job. 

You have all these great plans. you do have so many amazing opportunities (you made those happen though), but a lot of the time it will take several cancelled attempts before you manage to get a day where you are well enough to go and do all of these cool things. You will have to deal with the frustration, wishing you didn't have to cancel so many plans and the internal battle that ensues. You look at a funfair in awe, it used to be one of your favourite things to do...now if you get brave enough you might go on it, but you will be ill for at least a week. If you don't do it however, you feel sad about the things that you can no longer do. It takes a lot of determination not to feel sorry for yourself sometimes. You do the best that you can, and now accept that all anyone can ever do, is try their best. 

Your at university. The course started off as 2 evenings per week, but you couldn't handle just 6 small hours of learning, it was just too much for your head. You had to deal with the feeling of being a failure, making the decision to change to just one evening, 3 measly hours per week. You also had to make yourself vulnerable and try to explain your stupid condition that you wish you didn't have and that no one has even heard of to the university so that they could help. The lecturers were great, but have had to change aspects of their lesson just to give your stupid head a chance to learn. Those 3 small hours of learning made you feel terrible for a week on more than one occasion - learning used to be one of your favourite pass times, yet it's now so difficult. You may have an incredible evening of inspirational thoughts and ideas, but whether you will remember it a week from now, tomorrow or even in an hours time is left to the gods. Your getting through it though, and loving every second. 

You went travelling for a few weeks.  but only because you weren't entirely convinced that you weren't going crazy! You came up with the theory that as your condition is caused by stress if you completely got away from all your worries for a few weeks you would be able to see if you were making your illness up or not. You put this experiment on a credit card that you are still struggling to pay off. Was it worth it? Of course, you discovered your not crazy and your not making it up either. People saw the photos and thought it looked great. What You didn't get photos of however was you crying in the street, on the phone to your mum at 5am because you feel so unwell in a country where you know no one - you weren't well enough to move on with your friends. You didn't get photos of when you had to have your friend hold your hand when walking up the street because your head was so bad you may aswell have been drinking all night! You didn't get photos when you were tucked up in bed on your own in a strange hotel battling to stay awake due to the copious amounts of medication you were taking whilst your friends were out having fun. It was a great experience though, and a very relaxing time out. 

You go on meditation retreats. You have an incurable condition. You can't put a price on feeling human again, even if it is only for a few days. You will literally try anything that makes you feel even slightly better. This is probably your favourite place on the planet, you can have conversations freely without your head holding you back...you are you again when your here. 

You sometimes seem rude, boring or maybe both to people when you are unable to think of anything to say when having a conversation. You may even walk off mid conversation because you can't bare the fact you have no idea what to say. You have to deal with the fact that you are a shadow of the person that you used to be, and people will not often but occasionally take the time to remind you of that in case you hadn't realised - like there's something you can do about it. Most people however say they don't even notice you have difficulty finding the  words, I think because you can feel the struggle you think others can see it - but they rarely can. 

Your head will no longer be able to comprehend the time, you will have to have your mum help you to manage when you have appointments as it's no longer something that you can do. You will lose hours of your life in the blink of an eye. Your very blessed to have someone that can help you though, and luckily you usually get it wrong so that your early rather than late which is a bonus! 

You used to like things done a certain way, and were a highly strung person. Now every day you become that person less and less because you simply can't be. You have had to learn to accept that you make mistakes - about 50 a day! You do however get great pleasure in chipping away each of the last remaining parts of you, the old you. Which then enables you to come closer and closer to being the person you were destined to be. Like a caterpillar shedding it's skin.

I do have a pretty awesome life - one that I love and am very proud of. Of course if I was given the opportunity of a magic wand or a genies lantern I would get rid of my condition. I am working on that part, and all that I can do is be happy with the cards that I have been dealt and find joy in the lessons that it gives me each and every day. There is a strange satisfaction in completely falling apart and having to piece yourself back together again. 

So next time you say to someone that you want to trade lives with them, make sure you have truly considered all that entails. There are plenty of people who my life is significantly better than, but I suspect those are the people who wouldn't make such a sweeping statement as they are painfully aware of how little we can know about what is going on for someone. 

Everyone has a struggle of one kind or another. Be the one who helps make it easier for them rather than more difficult. Even a smile can turn a hopeless day to a happy one. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, I would be so grateful if you would share this.

Bobbie :-)

I am doing my 100 Job Challenge to raise money for The Meditation Trust. If you would like to sponsor me and donate money to this life changing charity then please click the link: http://bit.ly/1J6pUam

Thank you :-)

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Job #20 - A Day In The Life Of A Scaffolder


 
Job number 20 was working as a scaffolder which was a brilliant one to mark me being a fifth of the way through my challenge already (I'm actually pretty sad about that!).

As I have mentioned before I live in a pub, so you will not be surprised to hear that I know a scaffolder or two! After returning from my day of happiness spreading in my crazy outfit, I got talking with one of the regulars and decided I would work with them for the day! I have to say this was the only job that I have been scared about doing and it wasn't because of the heights!

They really kindly had a T-shirt made for me (in apprentice colours of course), and promised to take me to a scaffolders cafe - that the was the bit I was scared about...being the only girl in a cafe full of men! I needn't have worried, breakfast was actually a surprisingly civilised affair! After being picked up at 5.45 - which was a lot later than I had anticipated we grabbed the lorry and headed off to Dover and in search of somewhere for brekkie. It was a really nice way to start the morning and to wake up properly ready for some seriously heavy lifting!
 
Brekkie!
 
It took quite some time to get to Dover with the lorry being limited to 55 miles an hour, plus the fact that between them Ian the navigator and Ben the driver kept directing us the wrong way! Weirdly they still have a tachometer (which records their days driving) and have to take rest periods like a lorry driver even though that's not actually their job!

We arrived at the job and had the task of erecting 3 scaffold towers. Luckily they didn't need to be as high as originally anticipated - apparently I wouldn't have survived the day if that had been the case! Phew a lucky escape on my part it seems...I was regularly reminded that it was actually an easy day - although I have to say it certainly didn't feel that way! The lifting although easy for them certainly wasn't for me - especially as according to my consultant I shouldn't exert myself...what does he know! It did make me feel rather dizzy and light headed, which isn't ideal but I carried on anyway!

The job!

 

 

There were many things about my day working as a scaffolder that I was in awe of, one was how well they could drive the huge lorry! First off had to be manoeuvred into a spot on a road with cars parked down one side! Then later on they parallel parked in a space I wouldn't have got my little hatchback into! (Maybe that's only exciting for me as I'm terrible at parking!)

 


We were all parked up at the job and ready to go when we spotted something that could have potentially made our day pretty tricky...baby seagulls! I have to say I thought they were winding me up at first (I was also expecting to be sent to the shop to ask for a long wait at some point!), but thinking about it if we had of been going on the roof, I don't think the mother would have taken too kindly to us being there! Thank goodness we weren't going up that high, crisis averted!

I was the labourer for the day which meant that I carried the bits from the lorry and stacked them up for them to then put the scaffolding up...I have to say I did really want a go with their action man drills and tool belts but alas it's a super important job which can't be undertaken by a mere apprentice! As you can imagine the health and safety is extensive! If something goes wrong then they are likely to be held 100% accountable...hence the huge price tag! Their biggest job they have ever done was £49,000 - but it does cost them £15,000 to buy enough poles to fill a lorry so it's certainly not a cheap business to start!

I have to say I was pretty impressed with myself for being able to lift the big poles, although after the first few I was getting laughed at for the ridiculous methods I was using to carry them trying desperately not to use my shoulders! I was told that everyone has a fatty bit on their shoulders...however I think mine are the exception and are all bone! There were points where I was laying my neck to the side and resting them on there but I have to say I don't think that was overly successful either! As I am finding with every job that I go to, there is a technique to it - you have to make sure your standing in the centre when carrying them, as otherwise gravity tries to pull down on one end or the other making it harder! If you get it right you can actually carry it with no hands...I didn't advance to that stage! I really did have to use all my effort to lift the big poles, and even then I was shaking trying to carry them. All of a sudden I picked one up with great ease, I honestly thought it was a eureka moment where I had finally mastered it...only to be asked by Ben why I was cheating carrying the alloy poles! No one told me there were light and heavy ones - I would have cheated the whole time! Unfortunately they are about 3 times the price and not as strong so that was actually the only one that I found!

I took great delight in watching people's faces when they notice my Fawkham Valley Scaffolding T-shirt and see little old me carrying these big long poles! Each length pole, bracket, piece of wood etc had it's own weird name and place on the lorry. I was actually pretty impressed with myself that by the end, even with my terrible memory they were asking me to go and get things and I knew not only what it was but where it was! When we finished Ben (one of the owners) took some photos of me at the top of the scaffolding. I don't know if you have read my blog about working as a theatre technician but when I climbed the ladder there it took me ages and I had to hold on even when I got to the top as it made my head really bad - yet I whizzed up the ladder here and felt fine. It highlighted to me just how much the environment around me affects my condition, I am definitely better at working outdoors than indoors now.

After we finished in Dover we made a pit stop at the newsagents for a drink. I couldn't believe how thirsty it makes you...now I understand why scaffolders are renowned for having a beer after work - see this challenge is helping me understand all sorts of things about people!

Next up was Chislehurst. This was a bit different as we were just putting another lift on an existing scaffold (see I know all the lingo!), another level to you and me! We had a bit of story time on the way there, which I found highly amusing! I asked the obvious question which was - do you ever see things that you shouldn't do...with the answer being of course! They told me a story of a job they did in London where there was a lady who had a shower at the same time every morning, apparently when they arrived on site they would be offered a cup of tea which they would politely refuse as they wanted to get straight to work...I wonder why! I couldn't help but think that it can't always be women that they catch in the shower!

 
There was another story where one of them had been very polite and asked to use the bathroom facilities - nothing wrong with that...except he didn't specify that he would be doing a number two so the lady phoned and complained to his boss  as it made the house smell - when you've gotta go, you've gotta go! Weirdly I was actually thinking that the fact you don't always have access to a toilet could make it tricky for a lady scaffolder...they have never seen a female scaffolder before apparently - maybe that's why, along with the fact it's never men in the shower!
Shameless selfie!

 The funniest story for me however was actually the next door neighbour of the house we were on our way to. Apparently on their first visit she had been shouting at them saying that they are ruining her life because she didn't want the extension, they explained that they were only doing their job but apparently when they left she was laying face down on the front lawn kicking and screaming like a small child #awkward. I never knew scaffolding could ruin your life, but there you go - you learn something new every day!

There were builders at the second job who actually offered me the chance to do one of my jobs with them which is pretty cool! I think they found it pretty hilarious watching me pass the massive poles to the guys on the roof. The biggest one that I carried was 21ft, which I was told when I got back weighs 5 stone...no wonder I struggled to carry it, it's not that much lighter than me! (I must confess that I only held the biggest one long enough for a photo to be taken, even then it had to be put on my shoulders for me and removed pretty rapidly!!). I also have it on good authority that one of the guys at the firm can carry 5 of those in one go! I can't confirm this as I didn't see it, but that is pretty impressive stuff! I spoke earlier about being in awe of them and had I seen that, it would have made it onto the list! but when I was passing the bits up to them it absolutely amazed me that they could grab it with one hand whilst up so high and lift it with such ease...amazing!

Pretending to lift the 21ft pole!
 
Trying to play it cool holding a 21ft 5 stone pole!


Once we were all finished we headed back to the yard to load up for the next day. I was shown the painting room which is where they paint all the equipment so that people don't take it. some people eh! Although I'm not sure just painting it green will deter them too much! There were also some trainers and other items in their that had also been painted but I don't think that was for identification purposes!

The green room!
 
 


A few other phrases that I learnt on my day out was instead of saying the number of people you need at a job Ben would say handed so 3 people would be 3 handed - which I'm not sure if everyone is only allowed to use one of their hands but there you go! Then there is striking which means to take it down! A day taking down scaffolding is a good one as it frees up equipment and means they don't have to fill the lorry but it does mean that they have to do more jobs as they always have to do enough work to cover the costs for that day (pretty sensible actually!) and the taking down only accounts for 20% of the cost.

I was surprised to learn that when I asked if they were afraid of heights they said most days their fine, but they do have days where they look down and get the shivers!...they seemed pretty fearless to me!

 
Post scaffolding shoulder...ouch!
 
Post scaffolding muscles!


Overall I had a brilliant but very difficult day! My poor little shoulders even had marks on them by the end of it and over a week later still hurt! It's funny, it makes you realise how much you use your shoulders when it hurts every time you move them! Obviously I had to make the day authentic by going to the pub with them afterwards!
 
The pub!

Stitch having a shandy!
 

 I spoke with Ben to find out about the ups and downs of scaffolding...

1. How long have you worked in your job and how did you get into it?

'23 years because I worked for my friends dad to start with, then decided I wanted to start my own business'


2. What's the best thing about your job?

'Definitely has to be the money, we are able to charge a lot - but it does cost a lot to run a scaffolding firm, plus the fact that it can be dangerous at times.'


3. What's the worst thing about your job?

'The weather - coming home when it's dark is horrible, scraping ice off the window at 5 in the morning isn't nice either. We even work when it's snowing! The only time we don't work due to weather is when it's thunder & lighting because that would be just silly!'


4. If money, time, education etc were no object what would your dream job be?

'I would have loved to be a formula one driver.'


5. Why didn't you do that instead of scaffolding?

'Erm because it costs about 40 million pounds to do!'

 
6. What stress rating would you give your job (where one is super relaxed and 5 is super stressful)

 If you have read this blog and realised that you are in desperate need of some scaffolding, then these are the guys for you! Visit their website on http://fawkhamvalleyscaffolding.co.uk/. They were kind enough to donate £50 to that challenge - thanks so much for that! If you would like to donate too please visit http://www.100jobchallenge.co.uk/#!donate/c1n0m.