Continuing my reflections on living as if I only have a year to go. And joining in on a ‘Blog Tour’ too.
A friend has contacted me this week and asked me to take part in a sort of blogging chain letter. Naturally my normal response to this kind of thing would be a firm ‘No.’ But the request was gently done. And pondering the questions asked in the chain letter, I thought my answers might contribute to my own chain of thoughts in my ‘Year to live’ series of posts. So I’ve decided to start writing and see where my thoughts take me. Let’s go, four questions:
Q1 Why do I write what I do?
Well I didn’t start out by writing on this blog at all. My early blogging all happened to help out my partner Sarah. She was running a blog called ‘Being Sarah’ about a book she’d written and her continuing experiences as someone who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. A couple of times she’d encouraged me to contribute some of my own experiences whilst caring for her through her treatments and recoveries. And over time I became a fairly regular guest contributor, writing particularly about the walking we’d do to shake out all the hours we were spending in surgeries and waiting rooms. The walking we’d do just because we liked it.
In writing and generally helping with the editing of ‘Being Sarah’ I found myself in regular contact with Sarah’s friends in what they called ‘the Blogosphere.’ Women from all over the world who’d had breast cancer diagnoses. And it was several of them who began suggesting I start a blog of my own. Because I seemed to be enjoying writing and to have ‘found my voice.’ For a long time I resisted the idea. Having no common and binding subject to write about, as they all had, I thought I wouldn’t have much to say.
It’s my birthday tomorrow, Monday 20th January, happy birthday to me. And on Friday Sarah suggested we go for our tea at Leaf in Bold Street ‘to mark the official start of your birthday.’ She said we’d go upstairs to eat ‘as it’s a bit quieter up there.’ We got the bus into town and I was mildly irritated by her continual texting, both while we were on the bus and as we walked across from Leece Street to Leaf.
But I was glad to walk into warm, friendly and always popular Leaf, though a little surprised to see that the curtains were all drawn on the way up the stairs. ‘How on earth will they get people to come up here when it looks like it’s shut?’ I was thinking as Sarah drew back the curtains to the upstairs room. At which point a camera flashed and loads of, forewarned by Sarah’s texts, voices shouted out ‘Surprise!’
Naturally I looked around wildly for Cilla Black, but found that the camera was being held by Sarah Jones and the voices all belonged to people I recognised and was delighted to see. Continue reading “The Birthday Surprise”
A few weeks ago I began living as if I have only a year left to live. Not thinking with any certainty that I do, but wanting to value my days and my life and see what differences it makes if I act as if I will soon be no more.
As soon as I made the decision some things changed.
I immediately ditched the ‘Finding the work you love’ course that ‘A year to live’ had been part of, and removed it from this website. Realising that with a year left I’d want to talk with people about their lives, not simply their careers.
I re-started the Friday Walks, the ritual and the rhythm of walking and therefore never working on Fridays. And immediately started to feel calmer, less driven, quieter. Me and my friend Sarah Jones writing about this calming in ‘A quietening down of the rage to succeed.’
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while and now something BBC journalist Helen Fawkes has written has prompted me to get on with it.
Helen has been diagnosed with incurable ovarian cancer, and told she will die some time within the next five years, possibly within the next few months. And one of her responses to this has been to create a list of things she wants to do before then. Not a (kick the) bucket list, as many people call them. But a list for living, containing 50 things like having a go in a racing car, getting a dog, going to Paris on Eurostar for lunch and presenting a programme on BBC Radio 4. She’s done some of her list and is very close to this last as she’ll be on the BBC World Service this coming Monday talking about her list.
Unlike Helen, I’ve had no terminal diagnosis and am feeling very well, thanks all the same. Nevertheless I’ve decided to live this next year as if it’s my last. I’ll explain why. Continue reading “A year to live”
Ten years ago, before a ‘big’ birthday, I wrote Sarah a book called ‘The car next to you.’ Oh yes I did. And a few years later she described the book on the ‘Being Sarah’ blog she used to write:
“Ronnie wrote the book in 2003, during the six months before my 40th birthday, for a present for me. As it happens it was a year in which nothing in particular happened. So Ronnie writes about sitting in the parks in Liverpool, the allotment, my energy levels dipping as my period arrives, painting and quilting, my little blue 2CV car, about stillness, observing tulips, making films, lunch in cafés, our first holiday in a camper van, our lives for six months of 2003. The book is illustrated with small photographs, some of Liverpool, some of the pots and pans in the kitchen, our coats hanging up together under the stairs. It’s just perfectly ordinary. Ordinarily perfect.
The title, ‘The car next to you’ is a joke we invented together. It’s a made up American style self-improvement book we’d been talking about writing:
‘Your fate could be riding in the car next to you.’
So it’s a new year and as everybody gets moving again there’s the usual talk of how determined people are to make this one different. Resolutions about personal change, ‘this is finally the year when…’, future goals being resolutely set. A world full of determination to make the best out of difficult times.
‘Determination’ – it’s a grim word isn’t it? Sums up the hard work involved in changing. And the reason why most of the changing people are talking and thinking about probably won’t happen. Because it seems like hard work, and life’s too short to add a load more hard work in on top of the hard, busy work you’re probably already doing, isn’t it?
Well no, not if the changes you want to make are really and truly what you want to do. But how would you know?
One of the most read posts on the blog this year has been ‘Busy doing nothing.’ Written on a balmy early summer’s day, this celebrated one of the great joys of self-employment. The freedom to do nothing, if all else is well, and if you feel like it.
Today was another such day. Not balmy and warm of course, but that kind of bright, frosty, blue, brittle sort of day it would be a shame to waste by staying indoors.
Apart from going on scenic walks and being opinionated about all things Liverpool, a lot of the work we actually get paid for is around people doing work that they love. And a lot of that is concerned with social enterprises. It’s easier to love the work if your enterprise is doing some good in the world, as well as bringing in the profits it needs to keep it going.
We’ve been working with social enterprises for over fifteen years now. Helping them to generate new ideas that will make them even better social enterprises and even better places to work with and work in.