Assignment 1: Who am I and why am I here?
Wow, talk about throwing us in at the deep-end. These are big philosophical questions that I have struggled with for most of my life. Over the years I have found great freedom in deciding not to answer the ‘why am I here?’ question since there really is no point, its not a question that we can ever really answer. Far better, I think, to simply be present in the moment and do the best that we can.
I always do the best that I can but I find it quite hard to live in the moment. I’m a perfectionist which is not a good thing as it tends to take you out of the moment and into the past (focusing you on when what you did wasn’t good enough) or into the future (focusing on how good you want whatever you are doing to be). I tend to be very critical, an unavoidable side-effect of perfectionism. I am working on accepting ‘good-enough’ and trying to learn to enjoy the moment instead of stepping back from it to analyse how it might be better or compare it to how I had imagined or wanted it to be. Blogging 101 will be an opportunity to force myself to accept ‘good enough’ because I simply won’t have time to ‘perfect’ each assignment. So a warning in advance my blogs will be unedited, ‘stream of consciousness’ stuff. I am hoping that my writing will actually benefit from just letting the words flow.
So who am I? Well thats another biggie isn’t? In my childhood love was conditional on behaviour. So if I didn’t behave in a certain way love was withdrawn until I conformed. I was also not allowed to voice an opinion unless it conformed to that of my parents and as the youngest of five children I was last in line for everything. By the time my teens came around I rebelled as best I could, very mild rebellion really. I definitely didn’t fulfil my potential at school and while I hung out with a wide circle of ‘friends’ I didn’t really have any close friends. When I was 15 I fell in love with the coolest guy in the gang and he with me but my insecurities (I couldn’t see why he would want to go out with me) and my jealousy screwed that up and he dumped me with the line ‘I love you but I can’t be with you when you behave this way’.
I cried for weeks, I genuinely wanted to die. It felt like my heart had imploded and was weighing me down from the inside. I proceeded to make a complete and utter fool of myself as only a teenager who has been dumped can. Finally I was kicked back into the land of the living by an act of cruelty. He phoned me up and said that he had something to ask me about his debs (prom night). My stomach leaped with joy, my heart rate quickened. This is it, I thought, this is the moment we get back together. He said, ‘you know your your lovely white deb’s dress’ (prom dress), I said, ‘yes’. ‘Well he said I wonder would you mind lending it to the blonde girl who works in the local newsagents because I’ve asked her to my debs and she doesn’t have a dress to wear’….. thankfully I said No. I had finally found the level below which I wasn’t prepared to stoop and started to forget about him, move on and tried to rebuild my heart. I had a lucky escape really as he became a heroin addict, but it changed me.
Ok so that was very stream of consciousness and I haven’t thought about that for years. I should really fast forward to now to cover the who am I in the more traditional sense and save the rest of my life story for another blog.
I was just about to do the ‘demographic’ list (age, marital status, parent status, job, nationality) but what are those things only labels to allow us to tick preconceived boxes. So I’m going to resist that and tell you about the things that matter to me.
My children matter most of all to me and many of the big things that I have done in my life have been about them, for them or to support them. I am passionate about equality and each of my children has had to address challenges and each has worked very hard to pursue their dreams and I have helped to fight their battles and facilitate their futures. They are both currently on second degrees in university, they live at home and I support them financially and it pleases me because doing so gives them opportunities that I never had.
I went to university as a mature student obtained a first class honours degree in psychology, placing first in my class and winning all academic prizes open to me (did I mention that I’m a perfectionist). I was awarded a PhD scholarship which I completed in 3 years and I now direct a dementia research programme. I am passionate about empowerment through education and love giving talks about brain health and have been told that my passion when I speak about brain health and other issues is inspiring. I also use animation to address people’s fears and make complex scientific concepts simple, my films are free and have been viewed all over the world
I’m very mouthy and opinionated, a consequence of being told I should be seen and not heard as a child. While I am opinionated I am open to persuasion but the argument must be supported by evidence, reason and logic. I am passionate about equality and human rights. I believe that if we think, act and make decisions at the level of the human being that the world would be a better, more equal and more peaceful place.
I blogged for a year (2014) documenting my experience of a challenge to take a photo each week on a theme. The photo of the daisy in milk on my header is the photo that I took in week 52 of the challenge. To show my progress I ended the blog by repeating the first challenge, self-portrait, in the first week of 2015
The self-portrait as a first photography assignment is similar to the #Blogging 101 first assignment in that it is challenging to expose yourself completely in your very first attempt. But I understand from my photography challenge that this is actually a good way to start.
Jump right in at the deep end, metaphorically naked.
As I mentioned already I am a bit mouthy, very opinionated and very passionate. This year I was involved in campaigning for marriage equality in Ireland. I was very active on twitter but found that I needed more than 140 characters. So I blogged occasionally over the course of the campaign.
Three of my blogs were published by the Irish Times as letters to the editor. Many people shared these letters on social media and one of them, an edited version of my blog ‘Your opinion matters but only your vote counts’, seemed to particularly resonate with the general public and was shared widely on social media and many campaigners printed it off to distribute for door-to-door canvassing.
So this, I guess, explains why I want to blog publicly rather than keep a diary. I want to make a difference, I would like to effect change. I have been asked whether I would consider entering politics but I am not sure whether I am cut out for the ‘politics’ of politics nor whether it is actually the best way to be an agent of change. I believe in people power and change from the grassroots up. So I want to write about issues, mainly human rights issues, but other issues of equality and seminal events, as a means to empower and to effect change. I would like to connect more widely with people but have no idea how to do this.
What would blogging successfully for a year look like? It would mean that I will have connected with people on issues that matter, my blogs will have been shared widely, perhaps picked up by other media, I will have put in writing succinctly what others are thinking or what they never thought of, possibly empowering people by giving them a language to argue for and effect change in their own spheres.
Now I have to sign off and head to work to pay the mortgage and the university fees.