Dougal, Dinner for One and Dolph Lundgren

I haven’t been on the blog much at all over the last week or so, mainly due to this:

This is Dougal, my sister’s dog, who I have been looking after while she went on holiday. My sis lives quite a distance from me, so I moved into her flat where (for the first time in about nine years), I was living on my own for an extended period of time. Continue reading

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I Quit My Job Today: A Year On…

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It’s been a year to the day that I decided to take one of the biggest risks of my life and hand in my resignation. Those of you have followed the blog for a long time will know of the mental state I found myself in a year ago, and as I sat in the classroom this morning with a group of students that I was covering on supply, I took a moment to reflect on just how much everything has changed in the last twelve months.

The unfortunate thing is, I love teaching. I love being in the classroom with the students. I love it when a child suddenly understands something that they have been struggling with. I love the banter that is possible with some of the older students. However, it was the changes made by the government and the pressures that accompanied it that made the job unbearable, and my initial idea was to leave teaching and education behind completely. Thankfully, things have worked out in a way where I still get to be in a classroom environment, but without any of the issues that caused the stress – no marking, planning, paperwork, reports, data… On some days I arrive in a morning and am told what classes I am going to be working with, I am given the work that the students need to do, I teach, then I leave. On others, I do singing workshops, rehearse with an orchestra or assist in coursework catch-up. No two days are the same – I’ve covered almost every subject and every year group – and while there are still occasionally days where I feel stressed or anxious, the good days now massively outweigh the bad, and sometimes I actually look forward to getting up and going to work when I know I’ll be spending time with a fantastic group of students

Admittedly, a large amount of my experiences have been down to the luck of being in the right place at the right time, the lack of responsibility in that I’m not married and don’t have children (which means that financially I have fewer worries than some), and the support of the people around me, including employment opportunities that were offered by my headteacher at my former school and another headteacher and teaching assistant at a primary school that I had previously worked with.

However, some of it has been a leap of faith with very little planning, and I’m genuinely grateful that it seems to be working out. I’m in the position where I can choose the hours and days that I work, along with the responsibility of being able to budget for the months ahead just in case the work dries up for a while. Consequently, I now work to live, rather than it being the other way around, and more importantly, I’m actually living it. My relationship with The Bloke is even better, I see my family and friends more and I’ve got so many things to look forward to over the coming months – parties, blog meets, events and a holiday in Scotland.

Life is good.

While I don’t feel confident enough to categorically state that it has been a successful decision as yet, I do feel comfortable to say this:

It is never too late…

Thank you for all your support – it means the world xx

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.

A Nice Mother’s Day

I’m already back on the train so I can get down to Birmingham before it gets dark. Today seems to have gone really quickly – I cooked us a Sunday roast type lunch and we’ll spent a large amount of time fussing over Dougal, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He’s certainly grown since the last time I saw him! Continue reading

A Realisation…

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I received the final wage slip from my school today.

Eight months ago, I made the decision that I needed a change. I handed in my resignation, started saving up and have been as frugal as possible in that time, but this morning as I opened the envelope I had quite a frightening realisation.

This is it. I’m on my own. Sh*t just got real.

The confidence I’ve been building up has withered a little – I know that I have steady work lined up, and if I’m very careful it will be enough to live on, but what if? What if it all goes wrong? What if the work dries up? What if I get to Christmas and find that I won’t be able to pay the rent? Continue reading

Microphone Rage

imageOn Friday night I went to karaoke for the first time in months with some friends, and after working my way through some of my favourite songs I got home at 1.30am. I’ve had about five hours sleep, which I’m expecting to hit me at around lunchtime.

Some may laugh, but I take karaoke a little more seriously than I should. I’m not going to be auditioning for the X Factor anytime soon, but I can hold a tune and, in complete contrast to my nerves when having to speak in front of large groups of people, I’m reasonably confident when doing so.

We went to a Chinese restaurant with private karaoke booths, where we indulged in lovely food and rocked our way through a whole plethora of songs. At 11.00pm we had to leave the booth and move to a central room where there was a stage, and the singing continued.

As always, there was a large group of drunken people who decided that the restaurant was theirs for the night. Not only were they loudly screaming songs from Robbie Williams and Oasis (and I realise that many of you from outside the UK won’t have a clue who they are), but they remained on stage to scream their way through everyone else’s songs too as there were several microphones.

That is, until we walked in and the microphone rage set in. Yes, there is such a thing as microphone rage, and a slightly inebriated Suzie who is being screamed at while she’s trying to sing Bon Jovi is not a happy one. Luckily, my friends stepped in and we took turns holding the spare mic while the others sang, and in the end the morons retreated to jumping around in the dance floor instead, and eventually left.

Let’s just say my throat was a little sore the following morning…

What about you guys? Is there something you take more seriously than everyone else?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks

 

Regrets I Have in My 30’s

imageI remember my eighteenth birthday like it was yesterday. Technically, I suppose it should be ‘birthdays’ – it lasted for about a week as I had four or five celebrations with different people… my poor liver wasn’t happy for some time after that.

Back then, my world was a very different place. I was in my final part of my A Levels, and after twelve years of education I’d had enough, and knew that I was taking a gap year before applying to music colleges to study the violin. I lived at home with my parents and sisters, I was working in a cinema while I was studying, with plans to apply for a job at a local nightclub that had recently opened, and I had spent my holidays doing tours with the International Youth Philharmonic and the European Vacation Chamber Orchestra. I had plans. I was settled. Life was easy… Continue reading

A Beautiful Story To Make You Smile: There’s Still Hope For Humanity!

Axani and Gallagher in Bangkok

Axani and Gallagher in Bangkok

I hate watching the news. The world seems to be an increasingly violent and depressing place and each new day brings stories of cruelty, hatred and injustice that leave me feeling helpless and in despair of humanity. However, every so often I will see a story that reminds me that there are still wonderful people out there…

Last year, Canadian Jordan Axani and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Gallagher, booked a three week round-the-world vacation for the Christmas holidays, but then they broke up before the trip took place. However, instead of letting the spare ticket go to waste, Jordan turned to Reddit in an attempt to find another Canadian girl with the same name as his ex who was willing to join him. Asking for nothing in return, his criteria was simple:

1. Be sane, smart and (hopefully) interesting.

2. Have always wanted to travel, but maybe haven’t had the opportunity or cash to see much of the world.

3. Be named Elizabeth Gallagher and have a Canadian passport.

4. Be ready for a rather spontaneous life experience that will, one day, be an epic story that you’ll tell your kids.

5. Pay it forward. I’ve been lucky in life and this is me giving back to the universe. Do something similar today.

The story went viral, Axani received thousands of applications and the lucky recipient was a 23 year old student, Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher, from Nova Scotia. Gallagher, who has a boyfriend (apparently he wasn’t hugely impressed with her plans to spend Christmas with a complete stranger), initially thought the idea was a little crazy, but was quickly put at ease by Axani in a number of conversations over the phone. They met in the airport departure lounge at Toronto on 21st December and visited eight different places – New York, Milan, Venice, Prague, New Dehli, Khao Lak and Hong Kong, before returning on the 8th January. Because Axani stopped planning the trip further when he and his ex broke up, there were no hotel rooms booked, but when Marriott International heard about it, they provided separate rooms at each stop of their journey.

Paris

Paris

New York

New York

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

It seems that they developed a great friendship, joking on their return about Axani’s fear of heights and Gallagher’s frequent ability to get lost, they had a wonderful time and I’m pleased for them both.

However, the beauty of the story doesn’t stop there. Axani was inspired by incredibly touching message that he received from and eight year-old boy who was losing his sight and wanted to see the world before he lost his vision completely, and has now set up an charity organisation with his brother called A Ticket Forward to help people travel but don’t have the money.

What a wonderful story, created by a kind and generous person. Perhaps there is hope for humanity after all!

If you wish to make a donation to A Ticket Forward, simply click this link

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

Putting Things Into Perspective

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I’m sitting on a train on the way up to Manchester. It’s 7.00am – I have been awake since 5.00am, and currently resemble the closest thing to a zombie that a live human being is going to get. Despite this, I always enjoy travelling at this time in a morning – it’s quiet, there aren’t usually any screaming children and the nutters haven’t yet surfaced, so I’m enjoying the calm of the carriage at the minute.

I’m spending the weekend with my mother, who is still reeling after the death of her little dog, and tonight I am going to meet up with some friends that I made during sixth form college when I was sixteen. We’ve always kept in touch, mainly through the efforts of one or two of them, and we meet up at least once a year. Most of them are married, some have children, and over the years we’ve supported each other through our various achievements and life events. It’s nice to be around people who enjoy each others company, and it’s always guaranteed that I’ll have a good time.

I’m in need of a good night if I’m being honest – the last week has been a sea of paperwork and headaches as the new academic year has started. While it usually eases as time passes, the initial list that I find myself working through is always astronomical, and I always marvel at how calm and relaxed my colleagues seem during this period. I have managed to keep up, but don’t mind admitting that the pressure has reduced me to tears in the privacy of my own home on a few occasions.

By Friday afternoon I was feeling a little down – I was saddened by the news that a teenage scumbag had set fire to Manchester Dogs Home, resulting in the death of sixty animals (yet another reason why I don’t like people sometimes), and my friend informed me that his Nan passed away. Her death wasn’t unexpected, but I still feel sad for him and his family. If you’re reading this my lovely, you know I’m here whenever you need me.

However, when the chips are down, things always seem to happen that put me firmly back in my place and offer a little perspective.

Our school has its Open Evening next week, and my choir (who are brilliant) have been asked to perform. I have been a little worried as a few of the members of the group left at the end of last year as they had graduated, and so our numbers were down and there wasn’t the time to rehearse new starters. However, when I went to my classroom at the end of the day to start a rehearsal with the remaining students I was surprised to see all the ex-students sitting there, complete with a visitors pass and a big smile on their face. It turns out that they had heard about the performance next week and wanted to help out. I gave them a massive hug, and one of them told me that they wanted to surprise me ‘because you’re a legend Miss.’ Suddenly, the paperwork worries didn’t really seem to mean anything – THIS is what the job is about. I almost cried.

The Bloke, as always, has been pretty amazing throughout as well. Last night, after I had regaled him with the story about my choir cherubs, he told me that he was quickly going to the supermarket around the corner, and when he returned I saw that he had bought all of my favourite foods, and we cuddled up on the couch while watching NCIS: LA and talking rubbish at each other. It was exactly what I needed.

I’m lucky. I’m lucky that I have a job that (while challenging and frustrating at times) continues to give back. I’m lucky I have a lovely bloke, a family, amazing friends and the opportunity to spend time with them…

…And this morning I heard that Manchester Dogs Home has received over £800,000 in donations since the fire.

Good things will always happen during bad times.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog.

An Anxious Week

hodgepodgedays.co.uk

hodgepodgedays.co.uk

I slept for hours yesterday. I remember getting up, eating breakfast, watching a little bit of television, and then I remember waking up after about six hours of very intense dreams that involved screaming at one of my favourite students for spamming my house with flyers, trying to have a bath at my friend’s house (which was on the beach for some reason) and being constantly interrupted, and having conversations with people that I haven’t spoken to in years. I awoke just ten minutes before The Bloke returned from work, at which point he found me sitting on the couch in a daze and still wearing my jammies.

I’ve had quite a bad bout of anxiety over the last few days, resulting in a permanent feeling of butterflies in my stomach and regular nightmares, which I don’t understand as I have had what I would consider to be a lovely relaxing week. My brain can’t seem to switch off.

However, I’ve had some lovely exchanges in the bloggy world – I was interviewed by the lovely Ronovan Writes (click on the link to see our chat), I’ve had an awesome response to my WordPress Community Experiment (there is still one day left if you wish to participate), and I’ve been really pleased to see the response that my Summer Competition Week 1 Winner, Aidan J Reid, has received. I’ve got a whole new set of posts sitting in my draft folder that need a little more editing, I met my friend for lunch, spent some quality time with the cats and I’ve managed to further my addiction of Castle because The Bloke purchased Season 6 on iTunes.

Time seems to be passing far too quickly. I spent the last few weeks of term wishing for the clock to tick away, and now I’m finding that my wish was granted. Perhaps it’s because I’m enjoying my days…

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

Bliss…

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It’s an absolutely glorious day today – the weather is clear and warm with bright sunshine and a cloudless blue sky. The cats are dozing in the streams of sunlight that are coming through the window, it’s quiet and peaceful and I have had a good night’s sleep. I’ve been a domestic goddess this morning and there are already two loads of clean clothes drying on the line outside. 

I’m still trying to relax – after spending months feeling anxious and tired I know that it is going to take a little bit of time to wind down – but it’s certainly a good step in the right direction. I don’t have many plans for the day – I’m meeting my best friend for breakfast later, I fully intend to have a long, hot bubble bath and I am going to continue with the my blogging endeavours. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting back into my writing routine – I caught up with people that I haven’t spoken to in a long time, I’ve had fun reading lots of thoughts and ideas and one of my posts was featured on Mumsnet Bloggers again yesterday. I’ve also spent some time developing my other social networking sites…

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

Twitter: @suzie81blog

Tumblr: suzie81blog

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks

Check them out – I’d love to see you there! 

The rest of the week is looking to be just as fabulous. I am taking my mum to see The Commitments in London at the weekend – it’s her favourite film and we were disappointed when we discovered that we had missed the musical adaptation last year, but I found out that it has returned after a European tour and I have surprised her with tickets. I have also managed to book us into a hotel right in the centre of the city (very convenient for walking home after the show rather than navigating the Tube late at night) and as an extra special treat I have reserved us a table for a late lunch at The Ivy, a Michelin starred restaurant that is famous for it’s popularity with celebrities. I’ve always wanted to go and I’m really looking forward to it…

What about you guys? What are you looking forward to this week?