Up until 6 years ago, my life was settled. Prior to six years ago, my life followed a pretty bog standard pattern – I left school, knowing that I wanted to become a teacher. I went to University, graduated, got a job, bought my first flat, met my now husband, got married, we bought a house, voila. Fairly big changes each time but this was spread over 12 years. 6 years ago we adopted our boys and for the first 4 years, I simply just survived. The past 2 years though have just been a complete and utter whirlwind and it doesn’t seem to be stopping yet. Just over 2 years ago, I decided that I wanted to try and use my brain again and make a little extra pocket money. I decided to join Usborne Books and set up my own pop up shop. This involved selling at various events, working in schools doing sponsored reads and selling also to friends and family. I really enjoyed it and was doing well – I promoted to a team leader. As part of promoting, I got to have 1-1 support from Head Office where they would encourage you to look at your business and really focus on what could help you take your business forward. I knew the answer to this but it took me a long time to admit it – I needed a car. I was constantly lugging a suitcase of books on the bus or expecting M along with the kids to drop me off and collect me from events. The only problem was that I would have to actually learn to drive first! I had already sat my test 3 times and failed when I was 18 and then I completely gave up. 16 years later, was I seriously contemplating it again….for the whole of those 16 years I convinced myself as well as those around me that I didn’t need a car, we couldn’t afford one, I lived on a bus route so there was no point… the truth was, I was scared. Every time I failed my test, I had cried. Could I really put myself through the humiliation again? I knew it would be a huge amount of work, but I needed to do it – it would actually change my life and that of our family. I saved up every penny of Usborne money and set about taking lessons. I found an amazing instructor who was hugely patient with me but equally gave me a kick up the backside when I needed it – mainly about my lack of confidence. 20 lessons later and after passing my theory test, it was time for the practical test. I was so unbelievably nervous. I was so desperate to pass but was so scared to get excited about that prospect because it would be further to fall if it all came crashing down with a fail. I had no choice but to just to go for it though and with only 2 minors, I got the pass I was craving – 1st (erm, 4th) time. I was elated. I went home and surprised the boys – they didn’t even know I was taking lessons! That very weekend, I went to see a car I already had my heart set on. A week later and it was mine.
You would think that my Usborne business would then be booming…..but a few months later, my heart just wasn’t in it any more. I had started writing a blog (this one) about our adoption experience and the response was just unbelievable. I was getting so much feedback and messages from teachers asking for advice. It gave me such satisfaction to know I was helping others. Blog posts were in full flow and with it, the slow wind down of all things Usborne. I knew it was time to move on.
So the blog was my main focus. Shortly after making that decision, I attended a conference in Edinburgh for bloggers. One of the key messages I learned was that you don’t make money from blogging – it’s about the opportunities that present themselves because of the blog. I wasn’t sure how that would happen but I just kept on with the writing anyway. A week later, I had a message from the lovely Fiona at Adoption UK Scotland who had read my blog and thought I might be able to help them out. I headed along to their office, met the whole team, joined as a volunteer and am now in the office twice a week and loving it. My blog was also picked up by Dr. Suzanne Zeedky and I was asked to be on the panel after the screening of resilience in Stirling. This was amazing – I loved every second of it. This was when I was handed a badge to join the Unfearties too – a movement, part of The Children’s Parliament.
The conference also encouraged me to try my hand at vlogging. I did a few with a little success but then I did a whiteboard drawing vlog telling the story of our eldest being excluded from school. It now has over 3.5K views and it is leading me to a meeting in a few weeks with the Interim HM Chief Inspector in Scotland to discuss how this can be prevented from happening to other families. The video was also picked up by the head of an adoption agency through in the west of Scotland and they would like to work with me to develop their Post Adoption Support (even though it is already amazing!!).
A few months ago, I came across an amazing program to help children with learning the vocabulary of emotions. I attended a training course, ran a pilot with my boys and completely loved the results I was seeing. I knew it would be a tool that so many parents and their children could benefit from and so suggested taking this forward in to a parent workshop. Yesterday saw us starting to plan this and it will soon be ready to roll out. I will soon achieve my accreditation as an Emotion Works Parent Facilitator and will be able to run workshops in this on a freelance basis.
I have decided that I would like both my children to experience a lot more outdoor based Education and have been granted a 6 week trial to flexi-schools them. Looking at the kinds of activities to do has naturally lead me to investigate in much more detail, forest schools. The ethos of this approach really resonates with me and I know that this is something that I also wish to take forward. There is potentially an opportunity for this to become a joint venture with Adoption UK and so this is something I am investigating just now.
2 years and Ive learned to drive, bought a car, started blogging and vlogging, been on my first panel, become a volunteer for Adoption UK Scotland, trained in Emotion works and am about to deliver training, soon I will be supporting another Adoption Agency, I’ll be becoming a flex-school Mum and maybe (hopefully) I will start training as a Forest School Leader…….whirlwind.
These are not opportunities that I have been seeking out – they have somehow, presented themselves to me and I have felt drawn to accept them – it really is very much a case of what’s for you won’t go by you. What I would say though is that it is certainly really exciting, but also very tiring too. My life seems full of twists and turns right now (in a good way) and it would be nice to have a little bit of straight road for a while. But then maybe that would just be boring!
Thanks to all of you fabulous readers for joining me on this crazy journey. Who knows where we are going next!