Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The road to recovery

Photo is pure vanity and totally un-blog-related. Like a guy who can make me look good in a photo so huge shout out to @FABSNETWORK Thank you!

And now to business....

Why have I been procrastinating about writing tonight then? I have an inkling of an idea and it's not just the distraction afforded by the twitosphere this evening. Neither is it the fact I've been catching up on #downton and #corrie having worked Sunday evening and played yesterday.

I'm thrilled, honoured, delighted and surprised that this humble blog now gets a goodly number of visits each day, and has been picked up, recommended, linked to and retweeted in many corners of cyberspace.

But in the words of that great superhero as he spun his sticky web across NY City, with power comes responsibility. Note I omitted "great" on this occasion as one thing I don't have is delusions of grandeur. A couple of hundred followers doesn't make me Stephen Fry, and by reading this you're probably in the company of just a hundred or so others who've done so today.

When I started out on this bloggy road I spent a lot of time agonising about putting my thoughts "out there" for the consumption of others, and for a while the agony stopped me altogether. When I had to make the decision about spinal surgery the blog took a different turn as a way of keeping in touch with friends and family. It replaced round robin texts, emails and phone calls, at the same time giving each day a focus. There were days when typing a couple of hundred words on here was all I could manage, but it did provide a sense of achievement.

Recently I've moved away from blogging my scoliosis journey - there hasn't been much to report. But writing has become addictive and I've experimented with allsorts (see my twitter profile - @lindaaanderson - where that word makes another appearance!) It would be great to have more comments on here and really get a conversation going - I love all the texts, emails and FB messages but confess I don't always get round to responding - sorry.

Allsorts however doesn't make for an easily identifiable blog. I follow several others and they all have a definite theme and purpose. Generally music, politics, or theology which of course betrays my areas of interest. Why then don't I blog in a similar vein?

I've been giving this some thought and had a bit of a revelation about it all today. What's happening now is still in fact part of the scoliosis journey. I may repeat that as it's so important. What's happening now is still part of the scoliosis journey.

Pre-surgery I barely blogged. Fear held me back from speaking out - even speaking at times - for fear of what others might say. Or think. Pre-surgery I didn't give much thought to what interested me or what I wanted to do with life, I just got on with it, probably working too hard in the process. Pre-surgery I didn't use Blogger or Twitter so this probably wouldn't have been possible anyway but had they been more widespread I'm not sure I'd have jumped on board then. I'd have been way too worried about what people might say. Or think. Do you see a pattern emerging yet?

Opting to undergo scoliosis surgery is a massive decision. Go back to my early posts and you can see how I agonised over it. The surgery itself is painful; if you are a teenager you can expect six to eight weeks off school. If you are in your twenties or thirties it will take you longer to recover as your body has been in its twisty position for that much longer.

Fast forward twenty years or so to a fifty year old with a pretty large curvature and you are looking at a couple of years recovery time. It's not fair to say it's more painful - which is after all a relative phenomenon. One person's papercut has another screaming for morphine :-)

But it's not wrong or unrealistic to say that recovery is likely to be prolonged and more challenging if you are of ...erm... more mature years. Perhaps this blog with its ups and downs, highdays and downdays, rationale and ramblings, is actually still just a record of that recovery purpose. A very public record I confess, and one that I am sure some might dismiss as self indulgent. But if it helps anyone else going through this process then I am glad so please tell me!

And for anyone else reading this - I hope this offers an insight into life-changing surgery. Into an experience that changes you body, mind and dare I say it soul. I hope it makes you smile and makes you think, though I accept tonight it may be making you yawn as it is waaaaaay too long!

Perhaps I need to revisit the dinner party guests idea - still loving that and Mr Gary Barlow is so much in the news lately it might make for an interesting post!


Oh - almost forgot - thank you for all the messages about my job! Another subject to write more about soon!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A Life More Ordinary

Where to begin - one of those days today where a lot went wrong, a few things went right, a lot happened but I didn't seem to get anything done...

Meanwhile, more of you lovely people than ever seem to be reading this blog, and it's been picked up in a few places which means it will be shared more widely. I've been asked to write a 1000 word article for SAUK and hopefully more writing work will be coming my way from other directions. As if this weren't exciting enough my Klout score has increased and I'm now almost in the 95th percentile! Granted my expertise and influence are primarily in the areas of ... erm... tea and the X Factor :-)

I confess to being slightly bemused by all this. It's not as though I have half a million followers on Twitter, or massive influence when it comes to politics, or even international development it being the area I work in. Some of the stuff that interests me also embarrasses me if I am honest. But maybe it's a sign of older age that this no longer worries me.

That doesn't mean that I don't want to be well informed when it comes to events on the international stage, politics, economics or business. It does mean that I am happy to listen and learn from others and not always feel that I have to compete or even contribute. It doesn't mean I've been seduced by the whole celebrity/I want it and I want it now quick-fix culture of reality TV. It does mean that love it or hate it this is a popular part of today's culture that many find entertaining and I want to engage with it and comment in an informed way, especially working as I do with young people.

I've heard it said that if you are going to engage on the social media stage you need to be strategic, stick to one subject and choose when to tweet/update your status with care and precision. I'm not arguing with any of that, other than to say that perhaps there is also a place for those of us that tweet about allsorts, post a huge variety of stuff on Facebook, disappear for a while and receive a warm welcome back when we re-emerge into cyberspace from what has been called the real world. But nowadays surely it is less the real world and more just an alternative reality - is this post, this evenings posts and conversations, any less real than the meal I cooked for the family earlier on?

I read a fair number of blogs, follow a lot of people on Twitter, have a mass of friends on The Book. Somewhere in the ether a GooglePlus account with my name on it is trundling along. In spite of my rant a few weeks back I'm not really going to take a hammer to my hard drive and I fully accept it's not practical for us to knock on each others doors the way we used to. Perhaps what we do on here - a Retweet for example - is the current day equivalent of the request for a cup of sugar? Something you could live without but opens the door to a conversation and communication?

But - and I really must wind up and get to bed - I worry if we become so hung up on the way that we use social media that it's all about rights and wrongs. Heaven forbid we start to worry if someone has tweeted us back or liked our post, if our Klout score has gone down or our hits dropped, when for much of the time it doesn't matter.

If we're in business and using social media as a tool then of course this does not apply - all power to those elbows and get out there and get noticed! But for those of us trundling along, much like my Google Plus account, is there really any shame in simply enjoying the ride and perhaps being a little more ordinary?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Why don't I write more often?
More specifically why haven't I written more often recently?

It's not as though there hasn't been plenty to write about - personal stuff about pain levels, job situation, half term holidays, amazing family and friends doing incredible things. And less personal stuff about St Paul's, the birth of the 7 billionth person, Greece...

Maybe because I've been busy writing? My first proper writing job - two series of Advent reflections for Christian Aid. The first one being twenty nine 180 character daily thoughts, the second being four weekly reflections, for use in churches on the Sundays in Advent.

It's been an interesting process. I absolutely loved the research, planning, writing, editing. The sense of satisfaction in coming up with something that reads well and will be useful to others - much as I hope this blog has been over the months and years.

The more challenging aspect of the project was the sign off process and for me personally realising that everyone has an opinion on what should be said and how. It's been hard to choose where to concede, where to insist on sticking by what I wrote, and not to doubt my own thinking and writing.

It's made me totally appreciate how tough it can be to write, and the importance of a good editor. For a while it made me think it's something I could never do again. But now that the second of the two projects is finally signed off I am itching for another...

Maybe this is an indication that writing really is my thing, if so that would be encouraging as today I also had my end of contract meeting which means my post is not being renewed and I need to start looking and thinking again about what is next.

I may write a piece for Backbone - the Scoliosis Association magazine. Hopefully to encourage and not scare off others considering surgery! I still feel I have that novel in me - maybe if there really isn't another role for me in Christian Aid it will be time to sit down and get it out?

Meanwhile, I've deferred the surgery to remove the dodgy screw, or any more of the metalwork, for the foreseeable future. I simply cannot put myself in a situation where if a job arose that I was interested in I would miss out because I wasn't in the office. There are days when the pain is bearable, and nowadays there are even whole periods of time - an hour or two maybe - when it is not uppermost in my mind. There are other days when the pain makes me sick and I can't get out of bed. But I know that those days will pass, perhaps they are a sign of the need to pace myself and do a little bit less. Perhaps take the Jubilee line in the rush hour a little less often. Which reminds me - I really am going to suggest a "priority seat" pass to Mayor Boris so that I can discreetly flash it at those sitting in these spaces oblivious to the needs of those around them.

Not a particularly inspiring or interesting post maybe - sorry but was one of those days today. At least I am back into writing here again so more soon!

Linda x