Friday 31 December 2010

11 Things I will do in 2011

The end of 2010 is upon us and in a few short hours we will be stepping into 2011. It's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for my family and I this year on a personal level, but it's also been a positive year for my own personal goals.

I've completed and passed a couple of difficult courses with the Open University, gaining myself 70 credits towards a degree. I have also started writing. This being a very recent activity. Writing is something that I have always wanted to do, but never really did anything about it and 2010 proved to be the year I would act on this and take it seriously. My novel stands at a little over 21,000 words. It was started in October. It's been a little slow, but I have set myself 11 targets for 2011 and one of those is to complete the manuscript.

Instead of making myself a News Years resolution, I have set myself 11 goals. The majority of them are writing related because I really want to work on this in the coming year, but there are some personal ones in there.

1. Read 40 books ( Inspired by juppppy)

2. Complete first draft of novel and subsequent edited drafts

3. Query agent with completed novel

4. See a musical

5. Lose 1.5 stone

6. Start yoga

7. Submit 12 pieces of writing to competitions

8. Write at least 6 blog posts a month.

9. Be more organised. Set goals. Write things down.

10. Raise the profile of the blog and have an extra 12 followers by the end of 2011 (one a month. Today it stands at 15)

11. Push Doctors until a final diagnosis is agreed for son and I.

What do you have planned for the coming year?

11 things at two become four

Sunday 26 December 2010

iPad and Relationships

You may think it a strange combination to link an iPad received as a christmas present with a relationship, but for me it's perfectly logical. Let me explain.

My other half loves me to bits and I know this. Christmas day I knew this when he handed me a shiny new iPad for my gift. At first I was completely and utterly thrilled. I'd been coveting one for months. Well ever since they came out to be honest. I was so thrilled with my present that I didn't want to take out of it's perfect looking box for half an hour and just hugged it.
Once I removed it from its box, downloaded iTunes from my pc and syched it, I played with my new pad. Its lovely and stunningly beautiful as I expected.It's a little strange getting used to it as I'm used to my iPhone and the pad is, unsurprisingly a little bigger, but I'm getting there. 

I found the new iBooks app and downloaded several classics such as Little Women, Wuthering  Heights and Pride and Prejudice. I downloaded them because they were free and also because they are classics I would never have otherwise read and my reading experience should really widen it's horizons. I also bought some other ebooks and downloaded them. I think I went a little over board with the ebooks because it was so easy. I do have a pile of physical books waiting to be read, in my spare room, so I have a bit of a task on, to get through them before I can look at others I am interested in. One of the free books i downloaded is War and Peace. It could take me a while!  

Anyway, after playtime had run on for a while and it was starting to get late I started thinking about my precious pad and where it had come from. My other half had a bit of a windfall a couple of weeks before Christmas and without thinking of himself or anything else he went out and ordered me this because he knew I wanted one. 

Now I feel guilty. We're by no means flush. I wanted to go away for a weekend for my birthday next year and that money could have gone towards it and that would have been something we both could enjoy not just me. Now his complete determination to give me what he thinks will make me happy, actually makes me feel a little sad. I never knew this was coming and had I known I would probably advise we go away together for a weekend without the kids. 

Its not that I'm being ungrateful, but the idea of owning an iPad is just that, an idea. My other half doesn't need to buy me expensive gifts to make me happy. I love him and i didn't need an iPad to do it. I love him, I love he wants to do nice things for me and I love my iPad. I just realise I didn't need it. I hope that we still get that chance to go away in March. I would love to spend some quality time with him.

What have you received that has made you stop and think? or boot on the other foot, what would you get your other half if you got the chance? 

Friday 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Wishing all, Life in Clarity readers, a very Merry Christmas
                             With Love, Rebecca                                                                                                        

Thursday 23 December 2010

Error with Writing Competition

Today I learned a valuable lesson regarding entering writing competitions that require postal entries.....

Make sure you put enough postage on!!

I sent a postal entry for a short story competition at the end of November. To my complete mortification I received an email today from the organiser informing me that I hadn't paid enough postage so the entry didn't get to her in time and to make it all worse, she'd had to pay the extra £1.10 fee. I wanted to cry into my phone. (Where I'd read the email)

I was upset that I hadn't been able to enter the competition but I also don't want to get myself a name for not putting postage on. Horrifically, I sent only my second postal entry yesterday, which I now know will be short on payment. I'm thinking I have to email the organisers and offer to rapidly pay the extra postage that will be required and hope that this can be done.

I mistakenly thought that because my letter was completely flat it was the ordinary first class stamp fee. I know that if it is thick you have to pay, I didn't realise that if it was wide you have to pay. (It was an A4 envelope) You see, I don't really post letters. In today's age where everything is electronic, I've become ignorant in the ways of the postal service.

I have learnt an extremely valuable, painful and embarrassing lesson today - Make sure you put enough postage on mail!

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Decision Between the Open University and Writing

I've recently had to make a difficult decision between continuing my studies with the Open University towards a Geosciences degree and leaving it for a year to pursue my dream of writing a novel, something I have always wanted to do.

It would seem that as I am getting older, I feel the need to push myself towards goals I maybe should have started or finished before now. The concerns about my ageing however is for another blog post.

The Open University 

I started studying with the Open University two years ago. Originally planning on doing a psychology degree, but after getting my knickers well and truly in a twist with a level 1 social science course, I decided to change direction and go for something more solidly science based. I am interested in the world around me and the how's and whys so chose geosciences. A study of our planet.

I've just completed the last of my level one courses with a very taxing 60 point basic science course that covered biology, chemistry and physics as well as the more interesting geology and global warming. It was difficult especially as I had health issues with my youngest and don't forget my very excellent excuse of working full time as well. I managed to get to the end however, despite these things. The next course, geology, started in November but I really wasn't ready to pick up the books that quickly so looked at my choices and found an environmental module starting in February. My problem was, it really is a big level 2 course whereas the geology was only 30 points (equate points to time required 60 is more than 30)

This is where I started to get confused about what I want to do in 2011. If I could have done the geology I could probably write as well, but I doubt I could write and do the 60 point environmental course. The option was taking a year off and doing the geology course next November.


Since I was at school I can remember enjoying writing. Wanting to write a book but I never did anything about it. Now as I rapidly approach 40 I decide I will do it, no matter what. I will write it, I will edit it to within an inch of it's life, do all the writery things I've been reading about on writery blogs and I will the get myself an agent. I will.

The problem here is that writing is time consuming. It is a little less pushy than doing a course because I don't have deadlines banging on the door. Saying that though, I really don't intend for this to take me the rest of my life, so I do what I can when I can. Between work, kids, housework and procrastination I do try and keep my word count going. My current first draft is on, at this point 20.5 thousand words. If I take the year off the OU I can concentrate on the book. I really want to do this book but feel a little guilty just letting go of the OU.

I had to make this decision by today as that is the registration deadline for the environmental course. I made the decision. This books needs finishing and a year off gives me that time. I just feel as though I'm letting myself down a little even though I'm still working on something.

Saturday 18 December 2010

Creating the Pseudonym

During the last couple of days I have made a firm decision on using and choosing a pen name for my writing. It wasn't a difficult decision to use one as I want to keep my day job and writing completely and utterly separate, and after a brilliant idea by a colleague, the name itself is a natural. I have found the practicalities of actually creating the name on various on-line platforms quite difficult. I'm creating a brand and that brand is me, but under another name.

I have created a new email address and I have also created a facebook profile, using the same photograph I use here and on twitter to save confusion.

Confusion however, did arise for me yesterday, when I emailed for a writing competition entry form, using said pen name email address and nearly signed off with my real name!

You may notice that I have changed my name on this blog to Rebecca (my chosen name). This caused me a few issues as blogger won't let me change my initial log in email, so it feels like I have a split personality, posting as Rebecca, but having to log in as Jane still.

I have then  had to consider changing my twitter username, the @ name, to my pen name so my online platforms link up. I need to be able to do this without causing confusion to everyone as well as myself. I think this is a sensible option, but I'm concerned about my twitter friends who know me as Jane. Do I appear sly by completely changing it? I created my twitter account as a personal social networking tool and have grown to love it and the people and interactions I have on it, but I have to face the reality that as a writer I need to be seen to have and use social networking sites. In changing my twitter name I'm not changing who I am, I will still keep it personal to me, but it will help link up everything that creates the platform for my dreams. The dream being, one day I will be a published novelist.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

What Christmas Means to Me.

Christmas is rapidly approaching, at a rate of knots that is unstoppable. The problem with Christmas is that it means so many different things for so many different people that in the end, the main factor that comes out of it is, we spend an inordinate amount of money trying to make people happy, specifically the little people in our lives, our children. It has become one big present fest with lists as long as your arms for what they want without a flicker of recognition that it could be difficult for mum and dad to do this.

What else is there at Christmas?


I've regularly been told from being, I don't know, a teenager and probably about the time I started to get less interested in it, is that Christmas is a time for families to be together. This can be seen as a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your family I suppose. You either love getting together with a bunch of brilliantly socialising cousins or you're left shouting into great aunt Betties hearing aid. Personally due to this little Christmas add-on of what you should do at Christmas I never really get to spend the Christmas I want to spend, which is at home with my own family creating new and special memories for my children. I always feel pressured to do what other people want me to do or expect me to do.


I can't really say a lot about this part of Christmas other than I thought Christmas was supposed to be about Jesus being born and a celebration of his birth but I hear little about this other than knowing a bunch of drunks grace their local churches for midnight mass Christmas eve just to say they've been and the ignore the whole religious thing for another year after that. I have my own thoughts about God and religion, but it's not something I'm going to go into here. I don't go to church the rest of the year, so I'm not about to go for one event in an attempt to soothe myself about the greed that occurs over the Christmas period. Do many families thank God for Jesus Christmas day or is it literally all about the presents now?


The gifts that children want now are far more expensive than anything I ever wanted as a child. Their worlds are now filled with gaming machines and the TV throws up adverts for the very latest releases, creating very loud "I wants" across the country. This places immense pressure on families to provide, because as I've noticed, every Tom, Dick and Harriet seem to manage to acquire their hearts desire (and that's not just confined to Christmas!) we shell out because we believe the expensive items will make our little darlings immensely happy and then try and catch up with running a normal house for several months afterwards. 


This is something I do want at Christmas. An ability to create happy memories for my children at Christmas and not by buying them everything they want (though they will get most of it I admit) but, as I read in A Mothers Ramblings, blog this week, memories of things that come with Christmas. I want them to remember the little things. The pretty tree we had in the corner of the living room and the huge one that took up so much of the hallway that you have to turn sideways to get past it. The tin of chocolates that was a treat and not a norm. A trip to eat rubbish on Christmas eve at the nearest McDonalds that seems to have become a tradition. Getting excited about finding the stocking as we never remember where we put it in the past year. All things that aren't expensive, but come with Christmas, they're not forced or demanded of us, but things we do and feel. These things are what I enjoy about Christmas.

So what does Christmas mean to me?

Between the pressure to conform to what other people want and expect me to do and the money tree not really being at the bottom of my garden I find Christmas generally a pretty stressful experience and imagine I'm not alone in this. The saving grace for me however are the memory making moments. The small things. They may not be mentioned as something brilliant about the day at the time, but I know from my own memories that the little things do matter. I can't remember many of the gifts I received but I most certainly do remember Christmas, so it kind of shows to me that it's not the present giving bedlam I generally believe it is, there is a little magic involved, it just doesn't poke you in the face, it's a subtlety that is lasting and it's what I will be doing this Christmas - making memories for my children. 

What does Christmas mean to you?

Monday 13 December 2010

Decembers Monday Mentions

OK, so it's been a while since I did my one and only Monday Mentions blog post, where I promised to make it a weekly occurrence of what I had found interesting to read that past week. Well as you can see, it didn't quite materialise, so how about we try doing it once a month? It sounds a little more achievable doesn't it? We'll see....

Anyway, important matters, what have I found interesting this past week or so? Three blog posts that have drawn my attention recently are;

A chat with Melissa Hill on the blog High Heels and Book Deals. Lets see why I liked this blog post... Oh yes, I won one of the books!! Plus I loved the little snippet of advice that was, it's ok to use the word, said. 

No Ferroro at Christmas is like not having turkey on the blog A Mothers Ramblings. A little reminder that Christmas brings with it, not just bundles of gifts for kids, if they're lucky, but so many other memories.

Why Many Authors Choose Pseudonyms on the blog AOS. A topic that is an issue for me personally. WHEN I get published, it will be under a pen name. 

Saturday 11 December 2010

Assessing Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

Early last week, following my diagnosis of fibromyalgia by the rheumatologist, I visited my GP. I broached my concerns regarding the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, talking to him about what we had been through this year with my son. I talked about the initial diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome by the paediatric consultant, the concerns that it was a collagen problem raised by the haematologist and the diagnosis then being rescinded by an EDS Doctor. My obvious concerns being that Fibro pain and exhaustion are very similar to EDS problems and I felt it a little strange that EDS was considered by two consultants in relation to my son and I'm diagnosed with fibro.

For the first time since my son and I's health became an issue, I actually felt listened to and heard. Instead of making notes, appearing to have a diagnosis at the ready and not listening to what I was saying, he listened and acknowledged that it did seem strange. He said that he would write to the rheumatologist asking if EDS could account for my problems, especially as he had stated that I am hypermobile. He also agreed to refer me to a specialist in London if the rheumatologist doesn't want to reconsider his diagnosis. The London consultant specialises in fibro and EDS so he should know one way or another which it is.

The reason I want this sorting out for both of us one way or another is that fibromyalgia though pretty debilitating at times, it is not progressive. EDS on the other hand brings with it various health issues that need monitoring. If it is in fact EDS, I want my son to be cared for properly.

I know I seem to update my blog about these things weeks after they've occurred, but it takes me that long before I can get my head around the words.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Being a Working Mum

Today I found the harsh realities of being a full time working mum quite difficult to take and became quite stressed about it.

I work about an hours drive away from home, so, an hours drive away from my children's school. Add snow, ice and freezing fog to the "normal" drive to and from work and you can imagine it's a bit of a trek.

Today whilst at work I received a phone call from my son's school, saying, "Nothing to worry about but son has stabbed himself in the neck with some pencils and he's a little upset"

What happened it seemed, is that son was walking in the classroom with a pencil pot and he didn't see one of the other kids shuffling under a desk after dropping something and tripped over him. Said pencil pot and son went for a tumble and as he fell to the deck, the pencils stuck themselves in the front of his throat causing bleeding and lots of tears.

"I'm coming to get him" I said. Only I have an hours drive...

This then turns into one stressed out mum, trying to drive in the above conditions attempting to get to a crying child after having pencils rammed into his neck.

I struggled to care about the conditions on the road, only concerned with getting to my son and wrapping my arms around him. I had to remind myself as I drove as fast as the conditions would let me, that I wouldn't be able to soothe him if I was dead in the road, so I tried to hurry and keep safe. The longest hours drive from work I've had so far.

He's fine. He was sat with staff eating his lunch when I got to school. His neck has three small cuts covered by drying blood where the pencils have actually punctured his skin. I've given him ibuprofen for the pain and he's now happily watching Phineas and Ferb as I type and is perfectly ok.

I have to go out to work. I think many families now have two working parents, but today was hard. It wasn't serious, but it was stressful. I think we both deserve some pampering today.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

The Snowiest December.

I wasn't going to do this as I imagine you are overloaded with snow pictures today, but it's so picture postcard, I couldn't stop myself.

I was supposed to be heading to work today, but last night blew a snow blizzard and there was no going anywhere this morning.

So instead we took our little boy out and our dog, a beautiful Springer Spaniel who happens to love being out in the snow!

It's completely disruptive. I couldn't get to work and the local shop is running out of milk as they aren't getting their supplies and this is terrible news, but it really is a picture postcard.

We also spent some of the afternoon clearing drives for a couple of elderly neighbours. It's quite scary for them, so let's not forget to see if they are ok.

I've seen the pretty snow now. I'm ready for life to get back to normal!