The Other Side of 90!


With the Queen turning 90, it made me think about longevity.  She is still looking good, active and working for the realm. In a position of privilege, it is perhaps no wonder that she is able to maintain and sustain a life of duty, not having to do the everyday chores that the rest of us have to endure whatever the weather and how we feel.  My thoughts turned to my own grandparents. Both well into their 90s and both with health issues. One had a stroke five years ago, one lost an eye. With my grandad currently in hospital, my nan is at home.  She is not alone, there are carers and family running shifts to keep her company and sleep over.  Whereas grandad is on a ward with five other gentlemen of varying needs. A ward that is understaffed. A lack of people to cut up and assist with feeding the patients, maintaining dignity through even putting false teeth in for them. This is the reality of our 90s. My grandparents have celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary this year. They are lucky in so many ways that they are still together, getting by in their bungalow, with the support of their extended family – immediate family who themselves are now past 70. But everything is a fight. A fight to get help, a fight to get appointments, a fight to get heard. Far removed from the life of our Queen.  As our population ages what does the future for those of us in the boom years. It is a scary thought.

My hope for this week is a small one, I hope that someone can spend a little time with my grandad helping him get out of bed and walk again ….so that he can go home and continue life with nan. All the time he is bed-ridden through lack of staffing, he will seize up and the vicious cycle will continue. NHS staff deserve better.  Our nonagenerians deserve better too.
Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY




To test or not to test, that is the question!

It has already begun…the build up to the biggest pressure on a child in their early school years.  The pressure inflicted because the politicians believe it is the right thing to do, politicians who chop and change jobs with regularity and very few of whom have a background in education.

Yes, it is the joyous time leading to the dreaded month of May, the SATs!

There are no teachers who wish to inflict any extra stress upon any pupil, but sadly it is the result of the knock-on effect of what it being given to the staff, the school, the authority by the government. Who is at the very bottom of this food chain – the pupil.

I can see that there is sense in having something that allows a measure of ability, of what has been learnt by the individual. I wholeheartedly disagree that this should begin at Year Two, especially now as the anti has been upped and the rules and regulations are more on a par with GCSE! The children should be enjoying school, having a wealth of enriched experiences in all areas of the curriculum, not being given mocks and test papers galore aged 6/7. If ever there was a time to sow the seed of failure and self doubt, I feel that this year group is when it occurs. Children become more aware of where they fit within the ability in the class, of who can achieve and who cannot. Peer pressure is tough. Experiencing spelling tests etc have been built into school life from day one, so that the word ‘test’ is not a new concept, but a silent booklet of words and numbers is HUGE! Teachers will move heaven and Earth to try and create the best low-key atmosphere possible (or should do so) but for them, the results are vital as more performance-related pay indicators are used to denote their ‘worth’. Who wins? Good results, happy position in the tables – bad results and woh! Morale, self-esteem, negativity all kick in – and that is just the staff! I do not think that figures can really show the true nature of the school and  its demographic. There is not an even playing field. Let them be children.

Go compare – doesn’t work!

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY


A Happiness Fund!


So the UAE, the happiest nation in the Arab world,  has a Charter for Happiness and Positivity.  Stemming from that their theme park has recognised that staff work better when they feel happy and positive about life and have set up a Happiness fund which will offer support for major life events of the staff. A downside maybe that it is to be funded by the employees themselves rather than handouts from those in power. Nevertheless, any initiative to promote well-being can only be a good thing.

With the UAE launching its Ministry of Happiness earlier this year I do wonder if any other countries will follow suit! I can’t see any of our current political stalwarts fronting such a chamber when the mere word ‘politics’ drums up other words which are far-removed from positivity!

Something needs to change.

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

The Sound of Silence



In our modern world, in our modern daily lives, who experiences silence? It is very easy to avoid that space in our world that promotes quiet, a stopping time where we are left alone to our thoughts and the inner workings of our minds. For some that is something to avoid, a place best left hidden as it is too difficult to face and embrace.  We can be silent, but the world around us has always something to offer, something to tune into, albeit manmade noise or the natural world. My favourite place to be to gain some semblance of peace is by the sea or the river. Watching the ebb and flow of the tide is my relaxing space, but it is far from silence. The noises of nature have a profound impact on my emotional and physical well-being.  I enjoy being still at home. A contemplative stare at a naked candle flame or a glance out of the window at the garden all give peace, but are we ever truly silent?

I am guilty of living too much in my head. A criticism I give myself, thinking too deeply about things, a constant mull of my virtual reality mind. Some people talk to their pets, I jabber to myself!

In a  Lifehack article, Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think,  by Rebecca Beris, it states that consistent noise can elevate our stress levels. Children can suffer from reading, attention and memory deficit due to noise pollution. For those kids who plug themselves into tech, music and television, where is the escape into silence? With experience in the developmental changes occurring in pupils over the past 20 years, I can see the huge impact our thirst for outside stimuli has had on minds and attitudes.

I fully advocate the need to introduce some quiet meditation within schools to teach a different way of being, to incorporate stillness into a very transient and busy world. We all need stillness, we all need silence. With no access to a truly silent world, learning how to switch off and cut off the outside world is a must. We have become so far removed from the world of our ancestors that I can only hope we find a pathway back to the simple, the free and just be.

Silence is not the absence of something, but the presence of everything. John Grossman
Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY