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Webinars

As with most things at the moment, COVID 19 is having an impact on our daily lives, and it’s making us think about how we carry out our day to day activities.  I normally spend a considerable chunk of my time travelling for work.  Mainly visiting education trade shows and conferences as well as customers, and the occasional celebratory event.  When WHO (World Health Organisation) declared a global pandemic, all things ‘travel’ stopped for me.  What are we going to do!?  It’s not a common occurrence.  We didn’t have a back up plan. 

I’ll admit that I was worried.  Worried that the health of my children and family would be affected, worried that friends would become ill, worried that work would no longer need me, worried that people weren’t taking it seriously!!

Word came that all non-essential travel had been stopped, shows/conferences and the like started to get cancelled.  This was a huge relief for me.  I was faced with the prospect of home schooling my two children and I didn’t know how that was going to work.  Nobody did.

A few weeks in, and with a very supportive workplace it meant that I was starting to get a handle on what the new norm looks like in our house.  We had a rota.  PE with Joe, schoolwork, walk the dog, lunch, schoolwork, finish.  I’d squeeze in as much work as I could.  Probably half of what I’d normally do, but it was a start.  Rather inconveniently… we had a half term after 2 weeks of us being at home which was badly timed really, as we’d just gotten into a good habit and then it felt like we had to start all over again.

‘Unprecedented’ and ‘Pivot’ became the new buzz words.  At work the Education team produced some activities name ‘home learning series’ and my colleague (but also a good friend) Katie and I were asked if we’d be interested in running a webinar series to compliment the new resources.  We didn’t need to think about it for long, we’d obviously love to do this!  Most of our time prior to Covid was spent talking to educators and customers, this was a new way to reach them.  We had to do it.

It took us a few weeks to work through a plan, and we also needed to upgrade our Zoom plan so we could host a webinar.  100 people max, with the intention of live streaming to YouTube.  It’s amazing the amount of time and effort it takes to host a 30-minute webinar.  Getting up to speed with the registration process, communication channels, live streaming and the format for the session itself was fun.  It’s good to learn new things, and Katie and I make a great team.

We decided on a slow and steady start, so we didn’t advertise too much, and we didn’t live stream to start.  We needed to build confidence in ourselves, and this was the best approach.  The first webinar came ‘My Micro:bit’, it was soo much fun! We had a format that we’d talked through several times, we stuck to that, and it worked.  Katie and I were feeling great, so we immediately planned the following weeks.

As we went through the webinars we started uploading content to YouTube, then we started the live streaming.  Our numbers have been increasing each week, and we’re reaching new people.  This is exactly what we’d hoped to achieve.  We had a good flow.  Katie and I talked about who would show each project on the webinar, and by choosing the ones that excited us the most we covered them all.  Great teamwork!

Here we are, preparing for the last webinar in the Home Learning Series which goes live next week. 

I had been saying for a while that 2020 was the year to do more stuff that makes me feel scared.  I want to get better at speaking in public.  These webinars have given me more confidence, and now I’m writing a blog… It’s no coincidence!

Sometimes you have to dive in, keep your eyes closed if you have too…. but try to keep them open.  It’s a beautiful and scary world out there and experiencing that with friends makes the journey better.

Football – My volunteering history

Back in 2013 when my Son had just started school, I found myself looking for activities for him to take part in, and clubs for him to join.  I think all parents are pretty much the same here… They start off with intentions of their child have one or two hobbies, they’ll meet new friends, it’ll be lovely!  In reality… you overcommit, you wind up having a ridiculous schedule of pick ups and drop offs, washing uniforms/kits and being coaxed into volunteering along the way.  It’s okay, it’s just the start of a 12-year commitment to your kids.  It’ll be over soon, I promise.

When Matthew was in Reception class he came home with a flyer in his school bag advertising a local grassroots football club, we knew one or two others that had recently joined, so my Husband (ex) and I decided that we’d give it a go.  Saturday mornings in the Forest of Bowland would become our norm, we’d brave the weather (it was always horrid) and we’d drag our 3 year old with us.  Poor Erin, she’s a victim in all of this really.  Often cold, bored and invariably soaked to the skin due to the rain, but always fuelled with sweets.. so, you know, it was fine.

When the coach pulled me to one side to let me know the ‘rules’ I felt an immediate need to help.  The Rules – The coach for Year 1 is to coach new recruits currently in Reception, and when they move to playing league games in Year 2 they have to recruit a new coach for the team below.  This was the one that Matthew was currently in.  What happens if a new coach isn’t recruited?  The team folds and they can’t train.  It’s that simple.

I spent a fair bit of time talking to all the Mums and Dads, somebody needed to step up, but guess what? Nobody wanted to.  I don’t blame then really, it’s a big commitment.  A really big commitment… So, before I could stop myself, I’d stepped forward to save the team from folding and I approached the Committee at the club.  The Club were great, they paid for me to obtain my Level 1 FA coaching qualifications, as well as First Aid.  I’ll remember that training course forever.  It was Jan/Feb time, it was freezing! I turned up in my kit unable to feel my toes and spent many an hour trying out my newly gained skills.  I made lots of notes and turned up to the sessions with prompt cards, or drills that I wanted to practice.  I was the only woman.

Clutching my certificates, and just enough equipment to run a session I was the proud new coach for Year 1.  A few months passed and heading into playing actual games shortly… I did my duty and recruited a new coach for the reception children.  We were on our own, a new team, ready to start playing for a league!  We were a popular club, and naturally I had too many players wanting to join.  There wasn’t anything I could do really, so I started a second team.  Yes, I’m now running two teams!! Oh, I did I mention that I’m now the Club Secretary and I’ve split from my husband?  Indeed these were testing times.  Luckily my ex and I get on well, and he offered to obtain his licence to coach and take one of the teams. 

I’m not joking when I say that these were very stressful times.  2013-2017. Time passed, and I was able to get support from other parents, and eventually I was able to step down as coach and secretary.  It felt like a huge weight had been lifted!

Matthew now plays for 2 teams, at two totally different clubs, and I’ve been really enjoying cheering him on from the sidelines.  I always get to training and matches nice and early in case the coaches need any help, and Erin still gets dragged along, poor love.  One of the clubs more recently put a shout out for volunteers.. there are lots of positions that they’re trying to fill, from social media, web, schools liaison, to club welfare officer.  So here I am, looking at the plea for help and having spent a few years in a relatively relaxed state.  One evening I reply to the secretary offering to take on a small role (school liaison), I’m thanked, and the job is mine!  A few email exchanges and I’m starting to really enjoy the feeling of being in a football family again… which leads me on to offering more support.  So, after a few weeks and an AGM to wait for… I’ve been appointed the Club Welfare Officer! A much bigger role than the one I originally took (here we go again).  I’m just waiting to see when the Lancashire FA can start with their courses again, as they’ve been impacted by COVID – 19.  Who knows where this is taking me, and how long I’ll be in this role, I guess we wait and see.

I think the important thing to note here is, It’s in my blood to volunteer.  I simply can’t help it!  I want to support children and young people, I want to support adults that give up their time to support my children.  I am grateful to them, and I’m grateful to Every. Single. Volunteer out there.  Thank you!

Blog #1 – My hair!

My first blog. Eek, that’s exciting (scary)!

 

I wasn’t sure what to write for my first blog, but figured I’d just start typing and see what happens!

Whilst looking through old photos I am reminded of all the things that I’ve done throughout my life. I thought that when I started my job at the micro:bit foundation I became this brave independent woman, travelling the world and becoming more confident with myself, but actually, I was already doing all of those things. It is funny how I dress down most of the great things that have happened throughout life, I almost disregard them, because who cares about what I’m doing or have done!

2020 has been a year of change for me personally.  Covid 19 reared its ugly head and stopped me in my tracks.  I usually travel a lot, and my mind would be racing at 100mph trying to organise my life, look after my children, the dog, the house, look out for friends and family, exercise,  and keep up with my volunteering roles.  All of that stopped and I found myself at home all the time with my 2 children (and the dog), trying to home school as well as work, not able to see or meet up with anybody. Crazy times!  I know it has been tough for most people during this global pandemic and we’re far from over it, but for me personally it’s allowed me to take a step back, reflect and take the time that I need recharge and grow.

Backing up 12 months…

I’ve had a stressful year.  Lots of things have happened, and when in isolation I’m sure they’d have been quite easy to manage, and to be fair to me, I did cope with it all quite well until I started losing my hair.  The thought of losing all of my hair was all I could think about.  Day and night I would look at myself in the mirror, take pics of my hair, ask my kids to take them for me.. I’d go to bed every night worried that when I woke up, I’d have either no hair at all or very little.  I’d check my pillow, the plug holes, clothes, chairs, the car.  I would count the strands in every clump that fell out, I’d cry a lot and look up the styles and costs of getting a wig.  I’d tell anybody that would listen to me, often feeling like they didn’t really care (I know they did now), ‘it doesn’t look that bad’ was what I was always told.  I know that’s what you should say, you should be encouraging and positive, but I just knew how bad it was and I really wanted somebody to acknowledge how hideous the situation was.  So, feeling very alone in the world and not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel with the situation I decided that I needed to make an appointment with the doctor, maybe I needed some help with my mental situation.  I’ve never really struggled with anxiety or real stress, but I was definitely in a dark place.  As usual my local surgery only had an appointment 3 weeks away, so I begrudgingly accepted and decided that I would probably be bald by the time I got to see a doctor, and even then I wouldn’t get any treatment or support for weeks after that..

I decided to try some meditation, I have heard great things but have never done any myself, and I used to scoff at the idea that meditation could really help. I downloaded an Audible book called ‘Mindfulness’ by Dr Danny Penman and Prof Mark Williams, deciding to listen at night before bed.

I went all the way through the book listening to 30 mins a night before the actual meditations started, I had been getting a bit frustrated before then if I’m being totally honest.  ‘The Body Scan’ really helped me relax, I felt myself drifting off to sleep, the most relaxed I’d been in a long time.  From there I started to practice mindfulness daily for a few weeks, I even set up a mindfulness session for other friends at work who I thought might enjoy it.  We’d join a video call without video (or sound for everybody other than me) and I’d play the chapter.   It only took 15 mins max out of our day and we’d meet twice a week.  This was the start of my hair recovery. 

The doctor’s appointment came, and I cancelled a few days before because I felt like it was going to be a waste of the doctors and my time.  I must be on deaths door to take an appointment as there is bound to be somebody in more need than me. 

Practising meditation and cutting down on my alcohol intake did wonders for me, as did my hairdresser.  Now, when I say hairdresser, I mean my new hairdresser… I am not a regular at the hair salon and I’d say that I probably visited one maybe once a year.  They’d always be randomly chosen and I’d only go out of some loyalty to my hair.  I would expect wonders, and never get it.  I have always hated my hair so why would I look after it?  I met a lovely lady called Nelda, I told her about my situation, and she was so kind.  She had various suggestions for me including rubbing vodka on my scalp!  I didn’t do anything that she suggested as I was still losing clumps and I was worried, so so worried about causing the scalp more stress unnecessarily. After my first appointment where she acknowledged that I was shedding a lot of hair (but it was slowing), and that it did look a mess, and that it was going to take a good few months for it to grow back…I left feeling great actually.  I immediately made another appointment.  6 weeks later, after continuing my mindfulness, my reduced alcohol intake, and a general awareness of the need to be kinder to myself… I went to my next appointment.  Nelda confirmed that my hair was indeed starting to grow back.  I had little tufts of hair, measuring around 2cm.  I could feel it when running my fingers through my hair.  I would do this a lot.

A lot of things happened in 2019.  I split up with my boyfriend, that was really, really, hard.  I’m still hurting, and I don’t know when that’ll stop.  I had an operation, and I was crazy busy with work and travel.  My kids are my absolute world, and they helped me so much more than they’ll ever know. Always ready to give a cuddle, or make me a cup of tea :).

My hair is growing back now, and it’s not like it was before. It’s curly!  It’s going to take at least another year before I have a full head of hair, but I’m not stressed about that now.

Work is calmer, and I’m becoming more confident.  So, I’m actually loving it a lot more (if that’s even possible).  I’ve even started doing webinars with my good friend Katie.  Something I never thought I’d be doing.

I’m looking forward more.  I have a 10 year plan, and woe betide anybody that tries to get in my way.

Life is for living, and I plan on blogging all about it!!

Rach x

 

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New hair growth.