Brrr...cold days and nights have arrived at last. I love cold, crisp, sunny autumn days. I love to sit by the window with the sun warming my face, drinking coffee and reading a book or a magazine. It is a delicious feeling knowing it is cold outside but feeling warm and cosy. I can while away many hours sitting, contemplating. It is my therapy. Autumn is my time to rejuvenate. As I watch the squirrels collecting nuts from the table to store away for colder winter days, I collect my thoughts and store them in boxes inside my mind. I have a 'reflection box' where I ponder conversations I have had that day, people I have seen, friends, family or just random people I have seen walking down the road. My 'feelings box' is where I store my moods, sensations, my impressions of people, sights and sounds. I also have boxes for regrets, aspirations and a final one, which I keep locked, is for all those thoughts that can darken my soul. Compartmentalising my thoughts in this way helps to keep them in some sort of order and not muddled up. It's a bit like keeping your socks and underwear in different drawers, it makes them easier to find and sort out.
This is a poem I wrote incorporating characters from my favourite authors stories.
Hope this letter finds you well
It’s been so long, I have lots to tell
This morning Georgie passed by the house in his yellow coat
He was playing in the rain with his paper boat
Am I right in thinking you made it for him?
Seems he has gone missing, the searchers found a limb
Yesterday, Carrie White caused mayhem at the school prom
A fire raged and the school went up like a bomb
Arnie Cunningham has a new car. A Plymouth Fury
I heard it took itself for a drive and drove over a bully
Oh, By the way Annie Wilkes has a new fella
She keeps him hidden away down in her cellar
Anway Stephen, give my love to your mommy
I’ve got to go as Here comes Johnny!
Work life seems to be getting back to normal or the 'new normal' as the press like to call it. The company I work for are trialling a hybrid way of working. I'm back in the office three days a week and working from home for two days. It's a shock to the system having to wake at 5.15am. It's still dark!! It's strange having to get dressed for work. What do you wear? Pyjamas and lounge wear just won't cut it. Work trousers and tops seem to have shrunk over the last 18 months and my shoes have half an inch of dust on them.
We have to wear a mask while 'on the move'. This means every time I go to the photocopier, kitchen or toilet I have to mask up. Which is fine until you forget and you're half way to the toilet and you see the scowls from your colleagues as you walk past them smiling and saying hello. "You're on mute" has been replaced with "You've forgotten your mask" although it is said with a bit more malice. So you trot back to your desk and then think 'Sod it' and wait another hour before you feel safe enough to try again.
On the plus side seeing colleagues face to face is lovely albeit without the hugs. Just being able to sit near someone and have a coffee and chat or have lunch with is priceless. I missed that. It was lovely being able to sit at home in my pyjamas and watch Netflix while scrolling through emails but after a while you start to crave contact and face to face conversation.
Yesterday I sat in the garden with the sun on my face catching the last of the summer sunshine. I shared a Mediterranean lunch with my husband, drank wine and read the newspaper. Today, by contrast is grey and wet. It's still quite warm so I have the French doors open onto the garden where I can listen to the rain and watch the birds on the feeder. Scrub that, I meant watch the squirrel on the feeder. It's entertaining watching him bound across the grass, climb the fence and then hang upside down on the feeder, it's like watching the rodent version of Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.
Study is not going well either. I've been so busy at work. I am working from home mostly. I sit down at my desk at 7am and work through until 4pm with a short lunch break. Then I start preparing dinner and once that is done and washing up etc is done I don't have any desire to start reading again, my job is mainly reading and looking at text so my eyes are very tired come the evening. My husband is very good and encourages me to do a little bit each day just so I don't fall behind and I am very appreciative of this because if he didn't I would just sit on the sofa and watch trash tv whilst drinking a glass of wine. Another distraction is the grandchildren, my son brings them over for dinner most Sunday's and by the time they have left I am worn out!! I'm not complaining, I just wish I had the energy of my 21year old self.
Tomorrow is the day the module website opens. I am so excited. I received my module books a couple of weeks ago and have started reading through and completing some of the activities. It will be good to know what the first TMA is about so I can take appropriate notes and get some initial thoughts going. It feels such a long time since I finished AA100, and I'm itching to get studying again.
I will need to be on top of my work this year, we are hoping to move just before the first TMA is due. We have sold our house and will be renting until my husband and I decide where we want to live. We have lived in our house for 30 years and now that our two boys have moved out and are dispersed at various ends of the country we can relocate anywhere. I'm torn between Littlehampton on the south coast or Westward Ho! in North Devon. The world is our oyster, and I can't wait for our next adventure to begin.
I feel so down today. I can't put my finger on why I should be feeling this way, I just woke up feeling very sad. I have been very anxious over the last month, I can feel it in the back of my mind. I will be working away and suddenly my shoulders are very tense and a tight feeling goes across my chest and I start to feel dizzy. It's overwhelming at times. I worry about everything, even things I know I have no control over like Covid-19. I find I get cross over silly things, I'm going to bed at 9pm and falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow but waking up around 4.30am. I know I'll feel better tomorrow, it's just a blip. I have so much to be thankful for, family, health and a job. I just need to get over it. Tomorrow is another day as they say
The novelty of working from home has well and truly worn off. My concentration levels have gone way down. I'll start something then my mind wanders off and I forget what I was doing and start something else. We have a morning team call on Zoom which initially was fun, seeing everyone in their various homes, some would be in the garden, kitchen or at one point one of them was still in bed with her partner!! But, personally I have found it difficult. Being an introvert it's hard to join in a conversation, especially when there are a few, how shall I say, more forceful characters on the call. One of them is always eating breakfast on the call, I'm sure she takes great delight in doing so, all eyes are fixed on her as she piles porridge into her mouth, licks the spoon and then flicks her hair. God, give me strength, I just want to reach right into the screen and tip her breakfast all over her head.
I have one more TMA to submit but can't get the motivation up to start it. I know once I have started it I will be able to finish it in a couple of days, I just need a kick up the bum to get going.
I have to say I am quite pleased with how much studying I have done this past week and I have also found the time to do the icebreaker exercise set by my tutor on the forum page. It feels good to be slightly ahead. I enjoyed the chapter on the Kula Cycle and even made a little diagram to make it easier to remember the cycle and the important words. I need to stay ahead of the game as my husband and I have decided after living in our house for 27 years to move to Littlehampton. Our two boys are grown up and have moved out so we can downsize. I love Littlehampton and the surrounding area, the sea front is gorgeous and it has a lovely harbour and it is very close to the South Downs which we both love walking along. An Estate Agent is coming round next weekend to give a valuation. Eek... it's very exciting.
I am lucky to work in an office where dogs are allowed. I don't have a dog myself as my husband doesn't like dogs so having access to dogs at work is a real benefit. Just being able to sit down next a dog and stroking their fur and having a cuddle is heaven. All the dogs are well behaved, they are vetted before they get a pawsport to enable them to come to the office, and love all the attention they get. If I want 10 minutes away from my desk their is always a willing dog owner who will lend me their dog to take for a walk in the garden. Very therapeutic.
Below are a couple of my favourite dogs in the office. Buddy and Lily.
Right, I am back from my holidays and ready to get going on my second year of study. My books have arrived, I have my tutor details and I have booked all my tutorials. Now all I need to do is get my arse into gear and start studying. It is so easy to procrastinate and find other things to do. I'm glad my husband is around to nag me, without him I would spend all my time reading.
I have looked through all the books and read the assignment booklet and though it looks harder this year the modules look really interesting. There appears to be a mix on self study, searching for information outside of the OU website, some collaborative working and the dreaded exam at the end of the modules. I have glanced at a previous exam paper and that has relieved some of the anxiety. The OU's website is fantastic and full of resources, I could spend all day looking through it but I shouldn't procrastinate. Tonight I will hit the books. Wish me luck
I passed my first module with the Open University. Well done me. I am so relieved to get over this first hurdle on the path to my first degree. I have so enjoyed my first year of study. Some of it was hard going and there were occasions when I cried because I could not even form the first sentence of a TMA. But somehow you get it done and submitted.
After a lot of thought I have decided to study A105 as my second level 1 module. I was seriously thinking of studying L101 as being the easier of the two modules. But, on reflection, I believe A105 will give me a greater grounding in the Arts and Humanities. One other reason for choosing this module is that I have been tempted to maybe change my degree from English Literature and Creative Writing to the new degree of Religion, Philosophy and Ethics for which A105 is a requirement.
I've spent the summer re-reading the module books at a more leisurely pace and making notes that I think will be helpful for the second module. The set book for A105 is Charles Dickens, Hard Times. It's not my favourite Dickens book, it's quite a slog at the beginning but does get easier. As the start date for A105 gets nearer I am getting more excited. I cannot wait until the courier delivers all the module books and get started with the next year of study. Only 19 more sleeps to go.
I got an unexpected 82 on my latest TMA. I really struggled with this essay on the Benin Bronzes. Normally I write more than double the word count and then have to cut and reduce it down. This time I barely managed to get to the word count. I have been wracking my brains trying to work out why and have so far failed. I thought I was engaged with the subject, I even travelled to London to see the bronzes at the British Museum. I hate making excuses, but I do wonder if going the menopause is having an effect. Having a hot flush whilst trying to analyse a text is not easy!! But my score suggests that something is sinking in, so I guess I will just plod on.
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.....
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.
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.
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....
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