Time for the Inverness Half Marathon

Good news – I think I have managed to shake the worst of the cold/infection that I had.  I am back at the running and I am hopeful for a good day on Sunday at the Inverness Half Marathon.  I really just want to get going and run it now.  The build up to this event has lasted so long that the excitement to get going is now very real.

I will be travelling up on Saturday with my two colleagues who are going to be running the event with me.  We are staying in a guesthouse not too far from the start of the race and I am hoping that I can just dump the car there whilst we go and run the half marathon.  It has been a good number of years since I participated in an organised running event like this and I am slightly apprehensive about it in a way.  But ultimately I am looking forward to taking part and hopefully helping to raise some more money for Cancer Research UK.  Fundraising is slow at times however I know if we keep plugging away then we will hit the target and help fund more vital life-saving research.

I have heard some people talk about how much money is spent on cancer research and is it good value for money?  For me it most definitely is!  I have seen the benefits of research – it has saved a number of members of my family ultimately.  There are massive quantities of money invested into the research of cancer.  But what we must always remember is that research is expensive.  Developing and trialling new drugs is both expensive and takes significant amount of time to complete.  The research into cancer over the last 40 years has been quite incredible and survival rates have been doubled in that time.  I really want to help Cancer Research UK improve these survival rates even further.  It may be some time off – but one day we really will beat cancer.  The only thing that stands in our way is the funds to conduct the research and that is why I will continue to try and raise as much money as I physically can.

On Wednesday the 8th I was at Brechin High School giving a talk to the senior pupils about my fundraising.  I talked to them for about 15 minutes covering all of the the different parts to my ambitions and the various challenges that I have planned for this year.  They seemed to be fairly interested and listened to things I had to say which was really encouraging from my perspective.  There was certainly a eureka moment when they realised that Mr Smith their teacher was in fact my dad.  I also spoke about how cancer had effected my family and the very real understanding my family have of this disease.  To me, my ambitions to raise £1 million are also about positivity as I am sure I have said before.  This was really the key thing about my talk and that with a positive mind you can achieve any goal that you set for yourself.  Hopefully I will be able to start visiting more schools and groups to continue to spread my message and speak about my fundraising in order to take it to a wider audience.  That is the plan at least.

“Spread as much positivity as possible – that’s my goal” – Stephen Sutton

So a bag needs packed and the car could do with a little clean but otherwise I am all set to begin with my challenge for Cancer Research UK.  It does feel like it has been a long time coming in many ways.  But on the flip side the time has genuinely passed extremely quickly and I am sure the other events will be upon us before we know about it.  In a way I underestimated just how much time I would spend planning each of the events that I am taking part in.  It is easy to forget about the travel to and from the event, where you are going to stay and and all of the things that you need to take part.  I think my planning skills are improving a little though and it is making that job slightly easier than it once was.

It is my intention to try and take plenty photos of the trip up to Inverness and hopefully some following the event.  Thank you all for hanging with me over the last few months whilst I have looked into events and been organising for them.  But now the start is upon us and I hope to get back into my munros and out cycling again in the coming weeks.  The last few weeks I have focused solely on running with this event in mind and it will be good to get back into the other things that I enjoy.  I suppose it’s an extra part of the challenge that I hadn’t really considered – how you have to train for the different disciplines.  I know now that if I have been running constantly and jump back on my bike then it takes me a little while to adjust.  It sounds strange and I certainly don’t forget how to ride my bike during those periods.  But the muscles in my legs really know about it and they are pretty good at letting me know in turn!

The weather hasn’t been overly bad this past week but it certainly is not as good as it was in Madrid – if only I could go back!  I doubt Madrid will be on the cards again before this summer but wouldn’t it be great to be able to get away to some sun every few weeks.  Maybe I am asking for too much!


Check back to find out how I get on in Inverness and I will be sure to post some pictures of the event.

Many thanks as always,



Not what I need…

IMG_1272.pngThis week I was back to work after 12 days of annual leave.  The leave was welcome and my trip to Madrid really was great.  At the minute my next trip abroad will be to Kilimanjaro in September and that really does feel like a long way away.  But I am sure that it will come about a lot quicker in reality.  I swear that the days, weeks, months and years just seem to pass you by quicker and quicker as you get older and I don’t feel particularly old.  I am still on call with the ISAR team for a further 3 months and a trip away could come up anytime.  Albeit that sort of trip will not be for relaxation or leisure and would have very real and most likely quite drastic implications for the people of an effected country.

It is a strange position to be.  We train regularly for the worst case scenarios.  But to put our training into practice, someone, somewhere will be suffering.  As much as I like helping people you would not wish those kind of events on anyone.  There may be a lot of us humans here on this earth, but ultimately mother nature has the ability to be destructive beyond comprehension.  But I guess that is why there are international teams such as UKISAR to help pick up the pieces when it all goes south.

I am lucky that I have been in the profession that I aimed for since the age of 18.  I am thankful that things worked out the way they did and that I have the job and life that I do.  There are definitely a  lot of people out there who haven’t been anywhere near as lucky as I have been and we must all remember that when we are moaning about the most trivial things.  Life could be very different for every single one of us.

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries” – James Michener

At this minute in time I do not feel particularly great.  What started out as a tickly cough seems to have gotten a bit worse over the past few days.  My back is now extremely sore and moving about is hurting a bit.  It feels a bit like a chest infection but I haven’t been to a doctor so I don’t know that for sure.  Not what I need with just over one week to the Inverness Half Marathon.  I am really hoping that I shift this before then.  I will be completing the half marathon one way or another.  I just really hope I don’t have what ever this is then.  That would be less than ideal.

It is really frustrating me.  I have been building up to this first event and the beginning of my challenges for what feels like ages now and this really wasn’t in the plan.  I am going to take a couple days of good rest and hopefully that sorts me out.  But what I am trying to remember, is that those who are fighting cancer have unexpected hurdles to cross all along the way.  Their journey towards being cancer free is never easy and I guess this is helping put that back in perspective for me.  In a month or two (I can’t remember the exact day) it will be a year since mum was diagnosed for the second time.  I can’t really believe that a year has passed already and so much has happened since then.

As always I still really need your help.  If I am to hit this target we really need to spread this message of positivity, of overcoming adversity and the ability to tackle massive challenges together.  I know for a fact that if we are able to get enough people on board then raising £1 million is quite simple really.  But getting the people on board is difficult and I would ask that you keep sharing the things I get up to.  I know that it may seem a bit repetitive and you may tire of hearing from me a bit.  But I can assure you that every time you help out on social media or mention what I am trying to do to people you are helping beat cancer.  The more awareness and discussion there is about this disease will only help towards putting an end to it once and for all.  £1 is all it takes to make a difference and I am extremely thankful to every single one of you who have made a donation towards the things that I am doing.

It is my intention over the coming weeks to look at other possible running events for this year.  When I first made the decision to try and raise this money, a lot of the running events for this year had not opened for registration and I signed up for those that I could.  It is my intention to try and get ones that work around my shifts and hopefully that shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.  Google is mighty handy when it comes to trying to find different things to take part in.  The ‘Scottish running guide’ is a particularly handy website.  It lists all of the various events and the associated details which makes finding suitable events much easier.   I definitely want to get some other events in my diary though so this is going to become a priority.

This coming week I am going to be at Brechin High School giving a talk to the senior pupils about my fundraising and my motivation for doing it.  Hopefully it will give some of them the encouragement to help charities like Cancer Research UK out by fundraising for them.  I am sure I said right back at the start that this journey was as much about raising lots of money as well as spreading a positive message and this is hopefully the start of being able to take that to a wider audience.  If it goes well hopefully it’ll be the start of a series of sorts where I will be able to talk to larger groups about the things that I am getting up to.

“Everyone goes through adversity in life, but what matters is how you learn from it” – Lou Holtz

Thank you as always.



Me gusta Madrid


What a week in Madrid.  If you haven’t been to this incredible city I couldn’t recommend it any more!  There is so much to do and so much to see.  I landed lucky with the weather which undoubtedly helped.  But Madrid is a very friendly place, the metro network is fantastic and getting about is super easy.  The food is fantastic and the sites are amazing.  In need of a city break at all?  Well Madrid should definitely be on your list.

I think it also helps that I was here with my sister who knew a lot of good places to visit and the good cafes and restaurants.  Although stepping away from the major tourist areas it isn’t too difficult to find them.  One of the best things and something you should try is a ‘bocadillo de calamares’; basically a squid baguette…  But it is far nicer than it sounds!

I have really taken to photography this week.  I have always taken photos but I really got into it this week.  Working in manual and setting up the camera properly is somewhat new to me but it definitely helps produce better photos; at least I think it does!  I am pretty picky with my images though and there are few which I genuinely really like.  I have captured hundreds of memories however and photography is incredible in that why.  I think I am going to pursue it further and maybe look into a course.  I would really like to get better at it and be able to take even better images and capture more of the moments that I am experiencing.


In all honesty for a long time I never really used social media.  I had it but I never really used them and I have not long gotten back into the way of it.  In fact I am still really working it all out.  I tend not to always be thinking about posting or mentioning what I am doing.  But I like that.  I am not always fixated on posting to the internet and in a way there are so many people who run their lives by the internet and I don’t know how that can be healthy at all.  This blog is probably the most consistent thing that I upload online and I do enjoy it.

I do want to start a ‘vlog’ of sorts but I am still trying to work it all out.  It really is strange speaking to a camera when you have never done it before but as with everything, practice makes perfect.  I will keep working at it and hopefully in time I will be able to put out some videos about my challenge.  Just keep watching this space!  I really think it will be a good way of showcasing the challenge and the things that I am getting up to.  At the end of the day, the more people we can get the message to – the more money we can raise.

I have been looking through all of the documentation for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and in some ways, the documentation is as daunting as the mountain.  I  can understand why there is so much paperwork involved.  It does carry some risk in the form of ‘Acute Mountain Sickness’ and health and safety is clearly important.  It has given me more confidence that Jagged Globe are the people to do this trip with.  They seem to be incredibly well organised and that bodes well for the expedition.

Travelling is now one of the things which I most enjoy to do and I want to continue to do more of it.  I just have one gripe and and it is in reference to airports.  Well more specifically, people in airports.  There is one thing and one thing only which makes travel through an airport difficult.  If only people were organised!  Such a simple thing can make travel through an airport absolutely painless.  Yet, I would suggest in excess of 50% of people completely fail at this.  I guess it becomes easier the more you travel.  But it is possible to get your things ready whilst you are standing in a queue.  My one pet hate is people who stand in a  long queue and fail to prepare themselves for whatever lies at the end of said queue.  It just slows the whole process down and really does frustrate me.

Unfortunately, my annual leave is already pretty much over and I will be back to work in a couple of days.  The 6 Nations match between Scotland and Wales at BT Murrayfield is on Saturday and I am hopeful for another good game.  It will be a tough game for Scotland however, now that we are missing our captain Greig Laidlaw.  But it is a team sport and I would hope that they will still give Wales a good game.  Scotland have certainly improved and I hope that they are able to continue with the good performances that they have shown they are capable of in recent games.  Time will tell though and we will see what the squad is really made of.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas A. Edison

It would be incredibly easy for me to give up.  Giving up is always easy.  But there is one thing that scares me, which means I can’t ever give up; failure.  I hate failing.  I always have done and I am pretty sure that I always will.  Being scared of failure influences everything I do really.  Nothing is worse for me than when I don’t succeed at something I try.  It applies to everything and I see it in the same way that people with OCD must obtain perfection.  Except I just like being good at things.  I am sure that everyone likes to be good at things, but it really does frustrate me when I am not.

I have no idea where it all came from.  But it is something which now has a real and genuine influence on the way in which I approach everyday tasks.  It makes me fearful at times and sometimes stops me from trying new things.  I am trying to rein it in a little however, especially now as I try and raise this money.  I need to do more and try more, it is something which excited me about the prospect of this challenge.  Having said that, ultimately only time will tell.

I just need to try; just one more time.


Family is always most important

IMG_0342.pngIt has been another productive week!  I must admit I am enjoying the challenge of constantly having things to do and people to go and see.  To put it in context, this time a year ago, when I wasn’t working I wasn’t doing anything really.  It wasn’t good for me in any way and by setting this goal of trying to raise £1 million for Cancer Research UK I have found a renewed purpose in a lot of ways.  It sounds strange but I had gotten to the point of work being the highlight of the week because it gave me something to do.  Whilst I still enjoy work on the whole, I now have other things to do out with it and it has meant I have a far better work/life balance in my mind.

As this post goes live I will have just arrived in Madrid to visit my sister for the week who is studying there as part of her degree.  It’ll hopefully be a fairly cheap trip away with the only real expense being the travel there and if I want to do things.  But at the end of the day family is always the most important thing to me.  It is something that I have come to realise in these last few years as mum and others have fought through less than perfect situations.  When you have watched them struggle through these times and come out the other side fighting and remaining positive it  really does give you a whole new perspective on life.  Far too often, we fail appreciate what we have and how easy it can be lost.  Your family are precious and I’d ask you to never forget that.

With the job that I have, I am privy to the fact that the lives of ordinary people can be thrown into turmoil at anytime of any day of the week.  I hold a position where I see people in their darkest hours fighting some of the most difficult sets of circumstances that anyone can face.  But ultimately it is family and a belief that things will get better which sees them through.  I like to find a positive in every situation, regardless of how small it may be.  At the end of the day, a positive is a positive and that allows me to have hope.  Positivity and hope will help you through any bad situation; I can guarantee that.

So, as much as I am getting a cheap holiday to Madrid, ultimately it is really to visit my sister who I haven’t seen for around a month.  I am not entirely sure when I will see her next after I come home to be honest.  She has become a bid of a nomad in recent years and is always on the move.  If I could speak different languages and spend lots of my time abroad in the sun then I probably would as well!  It will be a good week in Madrid I am sure, despite the fact that it looks likely that the weather won’t be all that great whilst I am there.  Although that will mean that I can go running without a guarantee of being tortured by the sun.  We can’t have everything in life though I suppose.

The ‘Evening Telegraph’ ran the story that we did with Cancer Research UK this week and it seems to have had a pretty positive response which me and mum are both extremely thankful for.  If you are new to my page, this blog and what I am trying to achieve – welcome!  It is good to know that  the publicity has helped to bring people on board and we can share our story a little bit further.  My thinking is that if a million people can donate £1 then raising £1 million is actually quite easy!  At least that is how I like to think about it!

I’m feeling good about how my running is progressing.  I am by no mean the fastest runner out there, but I am building up the distance and for me that is a really positive step.  For me, exercise is 20% about what your body feels like it is capable of and 80% about how mentally tough you are.  If your mind stays strong you can achieve far more than you maybe feel like you can.  Over the last year in a lot of ways I let my fitness slip and its something that has genuinely frustrated me.  My fitness certainly wasn’t where it once was.  But, taking on all of these challenges is helping me get back to where I was and hopefully go well beyond that.  That is certainly a goal of mine.  I want to finish this year significantly fitter than how I started it.  But I think that is more than achievable if I stick to all of the various challenges I have organised for this year.  They are forcing me to get out and do exercise where in recent times I would have maybe avoided a training session and become somewhat lazy.  But I have identified a problem and I am working to fix it.  Improving your fitness takes time however and I have to be patient.  If I keep plugging away then I am sure I will get back to where I was!

I had a really positive meeting this week about the possibility of getting to speak to some school assemblies about what I am doing and the mindset that I have for achieving my goals.  I think it is a really good opportunity to spread the word and help get more people on board with this fundraising.  The more people we speak to and spread this message of positivity, the greater our chances of hitting the target are.  I still don’t doubt for one minute however that we will not hit the mark.  I know we will.  Lots of little actions can combine to effect real change in this world.  Donating £1, clicking that like and share button. It’s all it takes to make a difference.

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny” – C.S Lewis

Thank you all as always.



A busy month ahead

World Cancer Day was on Saturday past (4/2/17) and I spent the day in Edinburgh for the RBS 6 nations match between Scotland and Ireland.  I was quite surprised with how well Scotland performed and I was super happy that they managed to get the win!  The atmosphere inside BT Murrayfield was incredible and it looks set to be a really interesting 6 nations tournament.  Scotland have definitely made significant improvements in a positive direction and as someone who has experienced a huge amount of heartbreak inside that stadium it is good to see the team performing as well as we all know they can!

With it being World Cancer Day I made sure I was wearing my ‘Unity Band’ to show support for those who have had to deal with the disease.  All those who I know that have been effected by the disease were firmly in my thoughts throughout the day.  We are slowly making some progress with the fundraising and starting to manage to get the word out to some more people which is always encouraging.  I am in this for the long haul however and I never thought that the money would be raised overnight.  It is taking time just as I thought but progress is progress and we are definitely moving in the right direction towards achieving this goal.  Folk still say I am crazy but I am getting pretty used to that now!  However;

“The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones that do”

Last Sunday was Superbowl 51 between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons and I am sure to a lot of you that doesn’t mean much.  But for me it was a pretty big deal.  I have been a New England Patriots fan for my entire life and for them to be in the Superbowl was pretty exciting.  You may have heard about it in the news, but I really couldn’t quite believe the outcome of the game never mind how it played out.  If I am totally honest I gave up when the Atlanta Falcons went 28-3 up.  I genuinely couldn’t see how my team could get back into the game and avoid a complete whitewash.  Having now watched the entire match after discovering the somewhat remarkable result in the morning I am confident it has to be one of the greatest comebacks in all of sport.  New England won the game in overtime having tied the game up at 28-28 with under a minute left on the clock.  It showed the importance of never giving up on a goal or dream even when everything seems against you.  New England never gave up despite being so far behind and engineered the most amazing 4th quarter I have ever seen.  I can understand all of this will mean absolutely nothing if you don’t follow American Football, but I would recommend that you watch the highlights at the very least.  It really was an extremely special display of the sport.

I have been looking at my calendar and I have realised that the next month or so is going to be extremely busy indeed.  We are heading into the final stretch before the Inverness Half Marathon now and I now know that their will be 2 of my colleagues running with me.  Next Friday (the 17th) I fly out to Madrid for a week to see my sister (taking full advantage of free accommodation!), the day after I get back I have an ISAR training day and then the day after is the next 6 nations match at BT Murrayfield betweens Scotland and Wales.  I think that could be an absolute cracker of a game!    The day after that I will be back to work again, 2 weeks before Inverness.  Hopefully I will be able to see a lot of Madrid since I am going to have to keep running while I am there, it should be a good way to explore the city!  I generally have a fairly good sense of direction so I will hopefully not get lost.  If all else fails I have a sister who speaks fluent Spanish so I should never really get into too many problems.  Albeit her sense of direction is virtually non existent!  I’ll stick to the map and she can translate for me – I think that’s quite a good deal in my opinion.

I have noticed that the speed of my typing has increased since I started writing this blog, although I guess practice makes perfect.  I never considered myself to be an overly slow typer but I am confident that I have improved at it.  Mainly the fact that I can now touch type which helps speed up the process.  I still spend a good while each week on this blog but that is mainly due to thinking about what I will write about.  The physical production of it takes a lot less time now than it did when I first started writing these a whole 4 months ago.

In a lot of ways I really can’t believe that a whole four months have past since I decided to start writing this blog.  The time really has flown by however I have enjoyed every minute of it so far.  At the time I really did need a new challenge in my life and this is living up to the expectation I had of it.  In all honesty if I had set a ‘normal’ target then I probably would have already hit it.  Trying to raise £1 million brings with it its own unique set of challenges and I am discovering them one by one as I go.  But that is what I really wanted; a challenge, so I am by no means complaining.

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.  Hard work is the price we must pay for success.  I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price” – Vince Lombardi

Thank you all as ever, the support really is fantastic!



I’m going to Africa!

After what seems like an extremely long wait I have finally been allocated my holidays for the rest of the year.  We are transferring to a new shift system at work in April and our holidays are linked to the watch that we are assigned to.  Until we knew our shift postings we didn’t know when our holidays would land post April.  I am remaining on the watch which I am currently assigned too as are some of my colleagues.  However, some of my colleagues and good friends are moving watches which is a shame, but it is just the way things go at work.  They are all remaining at the station though and I will seem them about the place.

What does this mean then?  Well now that I know all of my leave periods for the rest of the year I have been able to make some progress with the planning of my challenges.  Kilimanjaro is booked and I will be travelling to Tanzania on September the 16th with ‘Jagged Globe’ to take on Africas highest peak.  Jagged Globe are a British company based in Sheffield who regularly lead expeditions and climbs all over the world to some of the most sought after and dangerous mountain summits on earth.  Fundamentally, they really know what they are doing and have the experience that I lack for tackling high altitude summits.  It will be a 10 day trip returning on the 25th of September.  It certainly makes it a little more real!  I am sure you know the feel of having an ambition but it seeming like you will never get the chance to fulfil it.  For me, Kilimanjaro was just that, it is something that I have wanted to do for a while now but I didn’t think that I would ever get the opportunity.  To know that I now have  a place on a trip and I will be going there this year has got me excited.

It looks ever more likely that the ‘North Coast 500’ will take place in early July and the rest of the planning for this trip should be completed in the next few weeks to a month I hope.  So some important planning needs to be done in the coming month or two and by then we will be seriously underway with my challenges.

I think I have a few companions from work possibly running the Inverness Half Marathon with me which will be a good support.  I reckon we will head up to Inverness on the 11th and stay over with the event at mid day on the 12th.  The support that I have had from everyone has been absolutely amazing and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.  I think I mentioned in a previous blog that the promotion of my challenge was going to be one of the most difficult aspects of what it is I am trying to do.  It most definitely is but I think that we are making the move in the right direction and I have now got an established relationship with a number of people at Cancer Research UK and they have been unbelievably supportive of everything that I am trying to achieve.  I am remaining positive however and I know that we will get there in time.

I have really gotten into the routine of writing this blog now.  This is my fifteenth entry and next week will mark four months since I started writing my weekly entries.  I can’t quite believe that so much time has past since I decided that I would start writing.  All through my life writing a piece of content regardless of what it was for was always a struggle for me.  English and writing just wasn’t something that my brain liked or found easy.  In many ways it still doesn’t!  But unlike normal I am enjoying the challenge of writing this blog and thinking of what content I can produce for the week.  I look forward to the weekly challenge now, I just hope that you find it in some way interesting!

I am a great believer in the need to challenge yourself and do things that are out with your comfort zone.  The problem I often find it is that my comfort zone is generally extremely small.  Once I am familiar with something then there is never really an issue but up until then I find most situations quite stressful.  I just know that if I am going to improve or enjoy an experience that I need to get on with it.  I would suggest that the phrase “quiet until you get to know me” almost certainly applies to me.  On the whole I just keep things to myself, but I really like the fact that this blog gives me the opportunity to share my thoughts and tell you a little bit about who I really am I guess.

Whilst the roads have been extremely icy I have been getting some more time in on my turbo trainer as well as attending spinning classes at the gym.  For me spinning is the perfect exercise, cycling with good music.  It’s hard going though and I always know I’ve worked pretty hard when I leave.  My legs usually feel pretty hollow when I jump off the bike but I guess that means the training is working!  Building up my running distances is also on the agenda for the coming weeks in the build up to the Inverness Half Marathon.

This coming Saturday is World Cancer Day and I will be sporting my ‘Unity Bands’ at the RBS 6 nations game between Scotland and Ireland.  Rugby has always been one of the main sports I have been a fan of along with American football and cycling.  My dad played rugby when he was younger and it was the sport which he always followed so I guess I just followed in his footsteps.  Football was rarely on the TV in our house and therefore I never began following any of the local teams.  I suppose I am slightly biased but I have always maintained that rugby is a better sport than football.  I know that is maybe a slightly controversial statement and I know that football has a much bigger following across the world.  But, for me, rugby is a sport which has a very powerful set of values at its core and is a sport that promotes respect, discipline and sportsmanship.  Unfortunately a lot of people these days don’t seem to be able to respect one and other and it really does frustrate me.  At a rugby match there is never any trouble and fans from both teams sit side by side with the ability to have a great laugh and enjoy the game in each others company.  If you have never been to an international rugby match I would highly recommend it!  I must apologise, I have gotten sidetracked again…  But on World Cancer Day I will be thinking of everyone I know who has been affected by cancer while I am enjoying the rugby at BT Murrayfield and hopefully Scotland comes away with an upset victory over Ireland.

“If you really want to do something, You’ll find a way.  If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse” – Jim Rohn

Thank you as always and I hope you have a fantastic week.



Keeping an open mind

“If you don’t go through life with an open mind, you will find a lot of closed doors” –

Mark W. Perrett

This week I most definitely learned the importance of maintaining an open mind.  On Saturday past I took part in a ‘photoshoot’ with my mum and two of my colleagues for Cancer Research UK.  The photos were taken to accompany a piece for the media about World Cancer Day on the 4th of February and it also gave some coverage for the fundraising which I am doing.  If I am totally honest the word ‘photoshoot’ intimidates me a little.  I’m not entirely sure why but I am not exactly the most photogenic person on this earth.  I agreed to take part though and I am glad that I did.  It was a very enjoyable experience and I felt a lot more comfortable than I thought I would.  We also did a little interview I guess which was something I have never done before.  It took me a bit to relax and try and forget there was a camera focusing on me, but after that it was fine.

I would suggest that not too long ago I would have refused to do things like this, but I guess that is one of the hidden positives of doing this fundraising; I am exposing myself to new experiences that I would likely have turned down in the past.  I guess it is good to keep an open mind!  I can’t think of a single negative thing during the first part of this journey towards trying to raise £1 million.

The one thing that can be difficult from time to time is convincing people that it is possible.  The vast majority of people are pretty surprised when I tell them exactly what it is I am trying to do.  I understand why, setting big targets like I have done isn’t exactly a common thing to do and people are often sceptical that my target can be reached.  What I always try and do though is encourage them to keep an open mind.  If you don’t attempt something then you will never know whether it is possible.  I know that raising £1 million is possible, I often struggle to give a quantitive time when people ask me because I genuinely don’t know.  But I know that with the help of others and through lots of little donations then the target is more than possible.

The ability to keep an open mind can be extremely useful in virtually every situation.  I guess it isn’t alway possible but I find it often vastly reduces the stress that I am feeling at any given time.  Things usually work themselves out and by keeping an open mind we remain positive of a successful outcome.  When my mum was first diagnosed with cancer I think it helped me more than anything else.  I couldn’t treat her, I suppose I never really knew the true intricacies of the treatments that she was having.  But what I did know was that the doctors and nurses were doing everything within their power to try and make her better.  Keeping an open mind gave me the ability to reduce the amount of anxiety that the diagnosis had given us all.  Mum kept an open mind too and rather than being upset at the prospect of loosing her hair she used it as an opportunity to try out a variety of different hair styles as her hair slowly came out; which we all found quite amusing and helped relieve a bit of stress for us all!

Last year when mum was diagnosed for the second time it was a shock.  No one was expecting the news that we were given and at first we were of course upset about the diagnosis.  But when we looked at the situation that we were in as a family it became apparent quickly that it was a far more manageable set of circumstance than the first time round.  I have found through experience that failure to maintain an open mind makes difficult situations harder to deal with.  I am not claiming that an open mind will cure every bad situation, but the positivity will help you deal with the process of working through it.  At least it certainly does for me.

This week is a busy one, writing this blog, spinning classes, running and the gym.  Along with this I have work and a training day with the International Search and Rescue team which is always good.  My team’s rota group goes back on call on the 1st of February so we will be on call for 4 months to respond to disasters around the world.  There’s two rota groups made up of teams from 15 fire services around the UK as well as engineers, doctors and vets who work a 4 month on/4 month off rota.  I hope that makes sense!  It wasn’t all that long ago that when I wasn’t at work I was literally doing nothing and I am glad that I am keeping busy and enjoying myself a bit more!  My consumption of pointless tv has gone down and I think that is certainly for the better.  I only watch the ‘good stuff’ now and I am feeling better for it.  My consumption of Youtube (not prank videos) has gone up a bit I suppose but I find the content far more interesting and worth while.  For me it’s far more creative and that gets me thinking which is always good!  If you don’t know what I am on about check out some of these people: Casey Neistat, Mr Ben Brown, Jon Olsson, Sawyer Hartman and Sara Dietschy.  I find them all interesting at least!

This week I launched a twitter account for my fundraising and you can find me ‘@jdcancermission’  – there wasn’t enough characters to put the ‘e’ in as well… But if your on twitter check it out, *DISCLAIMER* – I am by no means a twitter pro!  I will get there eventually but at the minute retweeting is my thing!  Hopefully twitter will give a more instant up to date version of what I am doing and when.  I just need to suss it all out first.

“Everything will be okay in the end.  If it’s not okay, it’s not the end” – John Lennon

Remember donating is both quick and easy just follow the link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

Thank you all as always,