Work.

Work is a funny thing.  It is something almost all of us will do for the largest part of our lives.  But some of us live to work and others work to live.  In the fast paced world that we now live in, work defines who we are.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have gained full time employment at the age of 18 and had the ability to earn my own money and to enjoy it how I see fit.  My move from university to a uniformed  service forced me to grow up and learn new things.  From the start I always felt that I had the attributes to be there and do the job but I have to admit, it did force me to learn how to iron properly!

I enjoy work on the whole.  At my work, no two days are ever the same and that keeps it interesting.  When I start a day or a nightshift quite literally anything could happen.  I have served with the fire service for almost 5 years now and I have been to plenty of strange incidents I can assure you.  If you can think of it, its probably happened somewhere!  I think there is a common misconception about what we do.  A huge number of people don’t realise the vast array of skills and specialisms a modern firefighter now has.  We aren’t as busy as we used to be, but that is thanks to the hard work that firefighters have put in to stop traumatic incidents occurring.

I would suggest that shifts tend to know each other better than the average colleagues ever do.  We are in each others company for around 50 hours a week so watches almost become secondary families and the station becomes a secondary home where we cook for each other, clean and train together.  I guess that’s part of what makes the fire service unique and sometimes hard to understand for people who don’t work there.  For me you should never live to work, you can still enjoy what you do, but I have been faced with the fact that life can be all too short.  There is an amazing world out there with so many incredible experiences waiting to be had.  Living purely for  work is a very narrow life.

What a lot of people don’t realise about firefighting is that it puts you at a significantly higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer because of the work we do.  The extreme heat you are subjected to affects your body, it thickens your blood and can cause significant dehydration.  Modern synthetic manufacturing materials contain carcinogens which are released in smoke when they burn.  Follow this link if you would to know more:

‘The Atlantic: How Modern Furniture Endangers Firefighters’

My family has been affected a number of times over the years, indeed the disease has been widespread in a number of different forms, which I would suggest raise the chances of me developing this disease.  When you also take into account my line of work I suppose my chances of developing cancer are fairly high.  But, I don’t spend every minute of every day worrying that I am going to get it.  I understand that risk is there and I should take the appropriate measures to try and lower that risk where I can.

Unfortunately though that risk is there for all of us.  No one is immune from developing cancer and that is why research is so important.  It’s why I believe in it so much.  It’s why I decided to try and raise £1 million.  Researching cancer, understanding it and developing new drugs takes time and a lot of money.  In the last 40 years research into cancer has doubled survival rates and Cancer Research UK want to improve those chances by half again.  But it will only happen if we all pledge to support them and pledge a pound to ensure that their vital life saving research continues at the same pace.

I have been working on a logo of sorts for the past few weeks so that I can give this ‘mission’ an identity of sorts and I will hopefully be able to publish it soon!

I had a good chat today (12/12/16) with Sarah who is my local fundraising manager for Cancer Research UK and we discussed what it is that I am trying to do and how the charity can help me work towards my goal.  I left feeling super positive and ready to take this challenge head on as the new year starts.  Positivity is something that I usually have a lot of but I am more positive than ever about what I am trying to do after my chat with Sarah today.  I’m trying to pack a huge amount into 2017 to try and raise as much money as I can and I know that the year will just fly by.  It wont be long until I’m running my first half marathon on behalf of Cancer Research UK and I can’t wait for that day to come.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney

Just follow the link below to donate if you haven’t already it’s quick and easy:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

J.

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My ambitions. My ideas.

In order to raise £1 million I am going to have to diversify my activities.  Running one half marathon won’t get me there I don’t think.  Nor will running a couple.  I need to take on every possible opportunity that I get and learn how to promote them successfully.  That means giving myself more work, but I kind of accepted that when I started this whole thing anyway.

I’ve had so many ideas of different events to take part in and to run.  One of them which is quite high up on my list of which will require a lot of organising is a charity ceilidh/auction night.  Ultimately it has to make sense financially, I don’t see any point pouring vast amounts of time into organising an event like this unless it is going to raise a significant amount of money for charity.  It will only raise a fraction of the total amount however every little helps!  I think it would be good way of bringing people together who have been affected by cancer, to celebrate what they have achieved and have a good old laugh.  For anyone who isn’t Scottish, a ‘Ceilidh’ is a traditional gathering where people join together in song and dance in order to have fun and make a fool out of themselves, at least that is how it was described to me!  If it happens you should come, they are always great fun and everyone usually has a great time!  I’ll keep you posted!

Another idea of mine that I am working towards is starting to make videos that document this journey.  I know that I have started this blog, but I understand that not everyone enjoys reading.  I also believe that a picture paints a thousand words and using video will allow me to physically show you all what I have been up to.  Over the past year I have begun watching YouTube more and more, to the point where I often watch YouTube over regular TV.  There are some amazing creators on YouTube who produce work that is as good, if not better than TV.  I am by no means saying that my videos will be able to compare to some of these creators, but I hope to bring you all along and help share this whole experience more.

I am finding that this whole blog and charity work pretty fun so far!  It has been a lot of work, trying to get things started, to speak to people about what I’m trying to do and why.  I’ve come to realise that when you tell someone that you are trying to raise £1 million for charity they will be slightly surprised.  I suppose it’s not the average target to set.  Although if everyone was the same the world would be a pretty boring place I think!  People often take a bit of convincing, but I think I am being fairly successful at encouraging people we will get there.  We are still quite small at the minute and there is a huge amount of work still to do, but I have faith and there is plenty positivity in me still!

Christmas will soon be upon us and the New Year hotly on its heels.  I think that once the 1st of January arrives that I will feel that we are on our way.  I’ve been working on this for a couple of months now and I think it looks like we haven’t made much progress.  What I am trying to remind people however is that I could never expect to raise this money overnight, it’s a long-term goal and one that will take time to achieve.  Stick with me and we’ll smash the target, I’m sure of it!

My sister is home in a couple of weeks for the first time since August which I am quite looking forward to.  She is studying for a Masters in Interpreting and Translation in French and Spanish and has spent this semester in Lyon, France.  I haven’t had the opportunity to go out and visit Lyon unfortunately which is something that I did want to do.  Maybe in the future, it’s another place to add to my long list of places that I would like to visit.  She’ll be home a few days before Christmas and will be home until mid January I think before she moves to Madrid, Spain for her second semester.  The life of a university student!  I definitely want to visit Madrid though and I have a block of annual leave in February so hopefully I will get some free digs for a week.

Unfortunately, my annual leave for April onwards won’t be released until January at the earliest and at the minute I haven’t booked my Kilimanjaro trip or put my John O’Groats to Lands End cycle firmly in the diary (these being the two biggest undertakings).  There is a trip to Kilimanjaro that I have my eyes on and I am tempted to book it and take a gamble.  Worst case scenario is that I have to try and move my annual leave or swap my shifts with colleagues which can be done, it’s just an extra thing to think about!  I think I am going to have to make a decision soon however, places are limited and I want to ensure that I definitely get to go and climb this mountain.  In terms of travel vaccines I am lucky that through my work with the International Search and Rescue team I am vaccinated to travel pretty much anywhere in the world.  Although I am due a couple of boosters which I will have to get sorted out soon!  Needles are my arch nemesis, but sometimes you’ve got to do things you hate in order to have the experiences that you want most.

I will let you know as soon as the dates are firm and the trips are organised!

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour” – Elon Musk

If you haven’t already, please donate today.  Just follow the link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

J.

Positivity, Promotion and Perseverance

I have set myself an almighty challenge of raising £1 Million for Cancer Research UK.  In my last  blog post I discussed how, well an element of the how.

I am not particularly good at making ad hoc, unplanned decisions (especially with a project as large as this) and so I have done my best to try and set a plan or strategy that details how I aim to achieve my goal.  I mean I can make a quick decision about going to the pub or how I am going to make my cup of tea, but this project/challenge requires a vast amount of planning.

Goal setting is my thing, it gives purpose and drive to life.  When an objective is set, we can work towards it, adjusting our actions along the way in order to ensure final success.  I can’t function properly without objective setting.  It’s something I have done for a very long time without realising.

I am extremely fortunate that I was successful in lots of different things throughout my childhood and it moulded me into someone who is extremely competitive, who hates losing and doesn’t take failing well.  If I am on the losing side of my shifts Christmas quiz it frustrates me.  I will never profess to being great at everything, I know for a fact that there are lots of things I am terrible at.  But, the things which I am not good at are the things which I never planned out.

“Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” – British Army

As time goes by I think I am beginning to understand the enormity of what we are trying to do.  But I am not deterred and, having read so many fantastically positive comments I am more motivated than ever to make sure this dream of helping Cancer Research UK becomes a reality.

I tried writing a number of possible plans, but none of them answered the significant question of ‘how’ definitively.  In doing this, I did notice that I seemed to reiterate the same three words over and over again.

Positivity, Promotion and Perseverance.

These three words summarise just what we need to do I think.  We must always remain positive that we will achieve the target.  There are amazing people who are dealing with Cancer who never let the disease affect their spirits.  So we should follow their incredible example.  If they can battle cancer with a positive can do attitude, we can raise all this money.

As for promotion – if no one knows about this campaign and all the various challenges that are going to be taking place how can we expect to achieve the target.  Where a positive opportunity for promotion exists we have to take it.  I want to get out and talk to people, talk about the disease and how it has affected myself and my family and I want to talk to people about why research is so important.

Finally perseverance.  Raising £1 Million will never happen overnight, unless your some sort of rich person with the moral conscience to donate it to such a cause.  Maintaining a dedication to positivity and promotion is the most critical part, I can never allow myself to get into a rut and give up on the target.  There is zero point in doing all of this otherwise.  I’ve got to raise this million pounds.

I have heard people say that we will never beat Cancer.  But I can’t agree with them.  It is only when we solely adopt this negative approach that we will never beat it.  We are beating Cancer, as every minute, hour and day go by, research is helping us get closer.  I do not know when that day may be.  But it will come, of that I am positive.

On the 4th of November I had a very positive and helpful meeting with my Station Manager.  We discussed a number of things about this challenge and just what I am trying to achieve.  But I think we can now begin promoting this challenge and engaging with more people.  I have spent months agonising over all the different aspects of this challenge and to finally get the green light from my work feels like a very significant step in the right direction.

Letters and emails need to be compiled and my strategy finalised.  But we are now in the position to start making some real progress.  We can start the true fundraising and spreading the positive message to those who are suffering from the disease.

I am learning a lot as I do this and I am finding that raising money for charity does so many things for you as an individual.  It has to be one of the most underrated things in this world.

If you want to develop yourself, raise some money for charity.

J.