January was a bit of a mixed month for me. It started off well with my 50th birthday celebrations. My husband and I went to Sandbanks, near Poole, for a couple of nights. We stayed in a beautiful hotel overlooking Poole harbour, our room had a large balcony where we could sit out and watch the ferries and boats sailing past. My family arranged a birthday meal when we were back home. It made me feel so happy seeing my sons, their partners and my grandchildren all together. After that it went down hill a bit. I was signed off sick from work for a week with a nasty virus. I have been working since I was 16 and have never been signed off work I fell behind in my studies and started to panic that I would not have enough time to do my TMA. I emailed my tutor explaining and he emailed me straight back saying he had given me a weeks extension. I was so grateful, I had worked myself up into a state of anxiety and those few words were enough to bring it back down again. As it was I was only a few days late submitting it. Now I'm anxious about the result!!! It's a never ending cycle.
This weekend I finally reached the grand old age of 50!!! I am now a quinquagenarian. It was an age I was dreading getting to although I don't know why, I didn't have any qualms about reaching 40. Half a century seems like a long time to be alive.
I was born in the year man landed on the moon and I am the same age as Sesame Street. Woodstock festival also happened in 1969. Gap opened it's first shop, Concorde made its maiden voyage. I am in great company, celebrities who are also 50 this year include, Jennifer Anniston, Jennifer Lopez, Cate Blanchett, Christian Slater, Jack Black, Catherine Zeta-Jones and the great Dave Grohl. Most importantly I celebrate my 50th along with the Open University which is also 50 this year. 1969 was a great year.
There are lots of things to do on my bucket list. Number one is to complete my degree with the OU, but others are a bit more random. I would like to learn to tap dance, I want to go paddle boarding, climb the three peaks and get a short story or poem published. I have many other dreams and I am sure over the next 50 years some of them will come true and I will have other dreams to add to my list.
Roll on the next 50.....
For the past few months I have been suffering from what I thought was anxiety. I would wake in the middle of the night and my chest would feel very tight and adrenaline would be coursing through the whole of my body. I would occasionally feel very hot and couldn't cool down even when I threw the covers off. I would wake up in the morning feeling like I had run a marathon. I've never really suffered from poor sleep, quite the opposite in fact. I could fall asleep even before my head hit the pillow and eight hours later I would wake up feeling refreshed. Now I wake up feeling like I have gone 10 rounds with Muhammad Ali. I've put on weight and my skin feels very dry.
It has affected my studying to some degree. Because I work full time I can only really study in the evening and at weekends. Now when I get home from work all I want to do is get in my pyjamas and veg out. The last thing I want to do is study. I can't seem to focus for any length of time. I've made an appointment to see the doctor but I really don't want to take any tablets. I have also been searching the internet to find some natural ways to help with the symptoms. There is so much information out there it's really hard to know where to start. I will start with my diet, limit my caffeine intake and cut out other stimulants and see if that makes any difference. It will be hard to cut down on caffeine, I do love my coffee.
Hopefully the symptoms won't last forever and my body will get used to its new normal soon. in the meantime I will have to adjust how I do my studying, little bite size chunks in the evenings and more studying at the weekends.
Ok, Christmas is over, time to get back to studying. Mother-in-Law deposited back to her base in Brighton, number one son sent on his way leaving me £100 poorer, "just to tide me over" he says, "I'll pay you back", yeah right, I'll add it to the tab! Number two son still has another week of leave but spends most of the day in bed recuperating after nights out and, finally, husband has gone back to work. I now have time to myself. And yet, I find myself tidying up, hoovering, polishing, ironing and watching Netflix. Stop procrastinating Lisa, get you arse into gear!! Coffee first though with my new Nespresso coffee machine and milk frother, can't study without a coffee by my side.
Does anyone study over Christmas? I had all good intentions of doing so but there was always an excuse, another mince pie to eat or a large glass of wine to drink. Visitors coming and going, phone ringing, grandchildren running through the house, how am I meant to study with all that going on. Order has now been restored and now I need to go through my study plan and put together a timetable for the next month. My 50th birthday is half way through January so I will need to factor in my celebrations too. That's one weekend written off, but you are only 50 once. Best get a wriggle on. I'll let you know how the celebrations went.
I seem to have hit a brick wall in my studies. Nothing seems to be sinking in. I really haven't enjoyed any of the chapters apart from, surprisingly, the chapter on Plato. I was really engaged with all of the activities and did some further reading on the subject. I feel quite despondent at the moment. Is it the time of year? It's dark early and I much prefer to study when it is light. I do hope this period of despondency passes soon as I really want to enjoy the course.
My husband and I bought a motorhome about 9 years ago. It was an impulse buy, we just happened to be passing a motorhome show and decided to have a look. We named her Polly as it seemed to suit her. It has been one of the best decisions we have made. We have had so much fun and seen so much of Great Britain over the years. At the moment we are in Bristol on a small site at the end of the Cumberland Basin. We come here at least twice a year as it is only around a 2 1/2 hour drive from home. You can walk out the back gate and emerge out onto the floating harbour and walk into Bristol City Centre which takes about 1/2 hour stroll.
Caravan sites are great for people watching and I like to sit at the table with a coffee and a packet of bourbon biscuits watching as other caravanners and motorhomers come and go. The mornings are especially busy. The morning starts about 6.30am when you here the first doors being opened and the first rush to the shower blocks to bag the best shower and sometimes the only shower! Some people walk around in their pyjamas and dressing gowns and others are fully dressed but they all carry their towel over their arm and wash bags of various sizes. At one site in Northumberland we watched an older gentleman who was wearing a striped dressing gown and leather slippers walk to the shower block with his toothbrush held out in front of him already primed with his toothpaste. He kept stopping every few feet to check that the toothpaste hadn't fallen of his brush.
We stay mainly in club managed sites but on occasions we have 'gone off grid'. In Scotland we stayed overnight in pub car parks, they let you stay for free if you eat in their restaurant. My favourite was The Barn at Beal which overlooks The Holy Island. The first time we went it was a bit of a free for all but the site is now laid out with pitches so that everyone has a view. There is nothing worse than pitching up and sitting enjoying the view and then someone comes along and parks in front of you!!
This year we were lucky enough to be at a site overlooking Skomer Island. We had perfect weather for the boat trip over to the island and spent the day watching the puffins. It was one of those days that cannot be recreated. It was just too perfect
I received my first marked assignment back earlier this week, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with my mark. Considering I left school at 16 with no qualifications I think it's a bloody miracle. The only reason I don't have any qualifications is not because I am, or was stupid, or even struggled at school, in fact I loved many of my lessons especially English, it's because I didn't take any of my exams. Home life at the time was chaotic.
My lack of qualifications has not held me back though, I suppose I was lucky to have started my work life when jobs were easy to get into. I started my first job at 16 working at Gatwick airport and moved on to an office job starting as an admin assistant and worked my way up to being a PA to the Head of Legal. After 17 years I took redundancy and now, at the grand old age of 50, find myself working towards a degree.
I'm very excited about studying, I won't pretend I find it easy, but I know when I get my degree in 6 years time I will have accomplished one of my dreams.
This Sunday is Remembrance Sunday and the centenary of Armistice Day. I have always worn a red poppy as I believe it is our duty to remember the men and women from all countries who gave their lives for the sake of peace.
I will wear it with extra pride this year as my youngest son, who is in the RAF, will be in a Remembrance service. He has been chosen to be part of the drumhead of the parade, standing guard by the Cenotaph near to where he is based. He is very proud to have been chosen and takes his duty very seriously. He has been in the RAF for two years and is so proud to wear his uniform and be part of the armed services. Unfortunately I cannot be there to see him but hopefully it will be televised and I can get to see him.
Last year as part of the Open University Access course we had to anaylse Wilfred Owen's poem Dulce et Decorum est . and remember vividly the horrific imagery he used to describe a gas attack. We should never forget.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
I attended my first face to face tutorial last night. I was so nervous beforehand but really needn't have been. Six of us attended and to be honest just as nervous as I was. It was interesting to hear what everyone wants to do with their degrees once we've graduated, it was a real mix. There were a few historians, one wanted to study religion and myself who wants to do creative writing. Our tutor put us at ease and we talked through one of the chapters and had a brief discussion on essay writing and how the OU would like us to set them out, we touched on referencing, which is my biggest worry but as our tutor said essay means "to try", which is exactly what I am going to do. I left feeling happier that I have not made a big mistake and that through 'trying' I will develop and become better and, most of all, enjoy what I am doing.
I haven't done as much studying as I would like this past week. I attended a two day course with work on Coaching and Feedback with an overnight stay. It took me well out of my comfort zone. It was a mixture of listening to the facilitators and group work. I was ok about working with one other person but it was the 'Quad' group work that I really didn't like. Being watched by two observers as you have a coaching conversation with someone you have only just met is not nice for someone who is quite shy. In my head I was having the perfect conversation but it came out of my mouth as a jumbled mess of spaghetti. Good luck with untangling that.
Despite this hiccup the rest of the course was very enjoyable. In the evening I manged to connect to the Student Hub Live session on 'Understanding your Assessment Question'. using the hotels WI-FI. I came away with some useful resources on how to decipher the assessment question which, this being my first year of study, is harder than I thought. Getting to grips with the definitions and really understanding what the question is asking you is key. That is the biggest learning I took from it. Take time to read it through several times, read it out loud and write down the definitions of the process words. After the session it was straight down to the bar for a large glass of whiskey to relax and unwind.
Recently my mother-in-law asked me to take her to visit the burial place of her husband. He is buried in a natural burial ground nestled at the base of the South Downs. She is in her eighties and cannot get there easily on her own. It involves a bus journey and a hair-raising game of Frogger to get across the busy country road.
The day was perfect, a beautiful autumn day, bright blue cloudless sky. We sat on the bench by his tree enjoying the sun’s rays warming our faces and bodies. It was so peaceful sitting listening to the sounds of birds, the gentle breeze blowing through the trees and looking up to the windmills on top of the Downs. We sat in silence, each with our own thoughts.
I started thinking about how different it was to where my mum is buried. My mum was cremated and her remains interred in a church graveyard in an area reserved specifically for cremations. A simple plaque marks her resting place, she is in the corner of the graveyard at the bottom of a hill adjacent to where the bins are kept and the area is forgotten. Whenever I visit, I get despondent. Don’t get me wrong it is not an unpleasant place to be it just feels oppressive. She is hemmed into a corner, it’s dark, the tree branches hang down so low and brush against you as you walk over the uneven, cracked path that lead you down the hill past headstones marked with age. It feels gloomy and dark and my body reacts the same way. I hunch up my shoulders and draw my arms around myself as if to shield myself from death. The natural burial ground is more open and light, I can see the sky above, and I can breathe and relax.
Perhaps, I thought, my feelings are a reflection on how they died. Both died from cancer but their deaths could not have been more different. My mum’s, although expected, was full of fear, confusion and a certain degree of chaos. My father-in-law’s was peaceful, calm and dignified. Maybe I am manifesting my experiences of their deaths onto the way I feel about their final resting places. The human mind works in mysterious ways.
So my plans to start studying early were waylaid, work and family stuff got in the way. I now have a week off by myself, I've read through the Study Companion and I'm ready to start.
Reading Facebook messages about how far along some students are in their study has made me a little anxious. Some students have even started their first TMA!! On reflection though I realise that study is personal and other students will have different events going on in their lives which dictates when and how they can study. I've made my study planner and have it stuck to the fridge so my family knows when I am not to be disturbed.
I am going to use One Note primarily for taking notes electronically but will also use an ordinary notebook and pen. I use One Note at work for project work and my development goals. I find it easier to locate relevant information and I can insert hyperlinks, emails, PDF and word documents and you can title the tabs and sections how you want. I've even personalised it so that it looks like a real notebook with lines and a lovely cream paper look. I can have different sections for the four books that we will be studying from. I find it easier and quicker to type and my thoughts formulate better and if I think of something else later I can easily insert it into the right section. For TMA preparation I just copy and past any relevant information I think I need and print it out. I don't know how it will work with online study, perhaps I will get two screens.
Best get started on Chapter One....
So, I had planned on studying this weekend or at least looking through the books and devising a study planner. As with all good plans they never go the way you intended. Saturday my husband wanted to go out and looked upset when I told him I was going to study, he spent the best part of an hour moping around the house so, in the end, you guessed it, we went out. I did enjoy myself, it was a beautiful late summer day and we strolled through the Laines in Brighton window shopping ending up on the beach watching the world go by.
Sunday my youngest son flew home from America. He has been away for two months on a deployment with the RAF. We drove up to his base to take him for lunch, we had a lovely catch up and heard all about his time away. By the time I got home, having negotiated the M25 and the M23, I couldn't be bothered to do anything. So here I am, 7pm on a Sunday evening, glass of wine in one hand and surfing the internet looking at books and stationery. on Amazon.
Tomorrow I plan on studying.... watch this space.
I thought I would jump straight into this blog malarkey. I am about to start on a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Six years of studying seems extremely daunting having left school in 1985. It seems a life time ago, Duran Duran and Wham were in the charts and I started my first job at Gatwick Airport.
My books have arrived and I have read the study companion from cover to cover. I will be using One Note to take notes, it is so easy to use you can insert webpages, links, record audio and video and best of all it saves automatically. I have it saved in the cloud so that I can easily access it from anywhere.
I read Doctor Faustus, which is part of the reading for AA100, over the summer and today I have booked to see it performed at The Globe Theatre in London in December. Only three months to wait! I'm very lucky to live so close to London. I've never been to the Globe Theatre, I have walked past it on numerous occasions and always wanted to go in and now I will be. I am a happy bunny.
This weekend I will be starting studying. I have no other plans so seems like a good time to get my head around what I have to do and put together a study plan. I'll let you know how it goes!!
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