Thursday, 29 August 2013

Coke Floats & Chemo: Juggling Treacle & Social Media

Coke Floats & Chemo: Juggling with treacle on Pinterest?: Have you ever tried juggling with treacle whilst being hit by trucks? No I haven't either, but I think it would be at least as easy as n...

Juggling Treacle & Social Media

Have you ever tried juggling with treacle whilst being hit by trucks? No I haven't either, but I think it would be at least as easy as navigating my way through this past week. Having a chest infection which me quite low both physically and emotionally didn't help one bit either, but I suppose if the universe thinks it's your turn to have a really pants week, it probably best to get as many horrid things out the way as you can possibly manage. That's why it was so like juggling treacle, the issues were hitting so thick and fast and each new one just made the whole situation seem messier and and stickier. Some of them were so sticky and messy that clearing my way out of them will take forever, but we are slowly getting there, and I'm back to nearly breathing normally at least sometimes this week. 

Maybe I've just stepped away from the treacle to spend loads of time daydreaming about another new possible project. Over the weekend, lots of people started to suggest I should write a book. I've always secretly wanted to, but I've always put it off to "another day" when there might be more spare capacity in terms of energy and time. Having my type of cancer concentrates the mind somewhat though, how many "another days" have I got to indulge in procrastination? So I've had to confront another reason I've been putting it off, which is all about my insecurities and confidence. What if I wrote the best book I was capable of writing and nobody bought it? What if, even worse, they bought it and didn't like it, or laughed at it, or laughed at me for being so stupid? What if I wrote it, and I just got rejection slip after rejection slip from publishers? At least if I never write it, I can dream of the "one day". Once I've done it, if it crashes, that "big dream" is shattered, and I don't have any Plan B back-up contingency dreams to dream. 

So I've done a load of research, OK well maybe not a "load", but at least some. These days, a publisher is more likely to take a new author on if they have a "platform", a ready made audience of people that might buy the book. I'm a blogger, so I have this platform, thanks to the many lovely people who continue to read my thoughts, but I'm not sure its a big enough platform, largely due to my lack of expertise in social marketing. 

I share it on Facebook and on Twitter, and that's easy to do because there is a ready-made little button for each that I can click when I've written it, but I've spent a shocking amount of time trying to figure out ways to share it on other sites like Linkedin, Tumblir and Pinterest, and I'm still bashing my head against a wall. Can anyone help please? If I just copy and paste the URL link, how can I be sure that it won't be my own password-protected link that would allow trolls to take over the site and cause havoc? Even better, how can I import an easy-to-use button to do it as simply as I can with FB and Twitter? Yes, I've spent hours pouring over websites with "Handy to use Widget Tools", but I'm just not handy enough, and although I understand every individual word in the instructions, it makes no sense when whoever wrote it collected those words in that particular order. 

Yes, I know I have teenagers, but have you ever asked a teenager for help with an IT problem? They love that this is their moment to completely and utterly rub it in that you're way too old and somewhat intellectually challenged, then they fiddle with your system, do something completely other than what you asked them to help with in the first place, meaning you will never be able to make your device work in even the vaguely semi-friendly way it used to, and then they slink off mumbling something along the lines of "Oh God, Mum, just get over it, OK?"

So if anyone has any ideas of how I can take this blog to the next level of exposure, I'd be really grateful for any help. Also, if you like a particular blog post, I'd be very happy, in fact delighted, for you to share it on your own social media networks. If I'm ever going to be pitching to a publishing house, it really is a case of "the more the merrier" in terms of readership. 

What will I write about? I could write about cancer, but then so could squillions of others. That's a double-edged sword because there are so many "I did cancer my way" books out there, but then because cancer touches so many people, I suppose there is also a huge potential audience. Personally, the way I'm thinking at the moment, I would prefer to write about how to bring up the "quirky kids", the special needs ones, like mine. There aren't many families who have three children each with different disabilities, and I'd like to write the book that I needed, the one that would have held my hand and told me to trust my instincts and to ignore the "helpful suggestions" that just left me feeling useless and hopeless over and over again. I'd make it funny and supportive without being preachy and prescriptive, a book that would help not just the thousands of bewildered parents of newly-diagnosed disabled children, but also the armies of professionals who so often don't quite "get" it. In fact I'd like it to have the odd nugget that any parent of any child might find useful. The children themselves would be central to the book - any child with any disability can, with the right amount of love, nurturing and support, blossom and thrive, becoming confident and happy young people. I would also be honest - there are some clangers of mistakes I've made along the way, but learning to accept them instead of beating myself up over them took a long time. Comments please!! Is this the sort of book that people might want to buy? I could always write a second one about cancer if this one doesn't go so pear-shaped that I want to hide under a stone for the rest of my days. 

Writing is something I can do without even having to get out of my pyjamas, so cancer or no cancer, it should be doable in a way that maybe having a nine-to-five job is no longer an option. I have a new health issue to contend with too now - heart disease caused by some of the cancer drugs. My blood pressure is off the scale and I'm now having to take beta-blockers too while I'm waiting for a referral appointment to see a specialist Cardiologist. It looks like the very drug that is keeping the cancer under control is causing this, so it wasn't the best news I've had recently. The beta-blockers made me smile though - did you know they are actually heart-shaped?! 

I was just about to finish but an email has arrived with some of the best news ever - Sutton Mencap have reached their fund-raising target for their new sensory room! I've just been invited to the launch party for when its finished as a thank you for raising some of the money with Laughter Yoga sessions, and a promise of my very own moment on the waterbed! Count me in!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Coke Floats & Chemo: Puppy Love

Coke Floats & Chemo: Puppy Love: A friend asked me earlier this week, in response to hearing about yet another piece of devastating family news, how I manage to keep going. ...

Puppy Love

A friend asked me earlier this week, in response to hearing about yet another piece of devastating family news, how I manage to keep going. I told her I think it's because I've gone just a little bit mad, controllably so, but a bit crazy all the same. I now see that the final straw hadn't quite been placed at the top of my pile. Today that last straw has well and truly arrived, and I'm overwhelmed with sadness, disappointment, anger, despair and what on earth are you supposed to do with all that negativity and overwhelmedness? Is there even such as word as overwhelmedness? 

Other conversations I've had recently I've found myself telling people how, on the days when I write blog posts, even when I'm feeling a bit low, that somehow sometimes the humour just creeps onto the page all by itself and even cheers me up. I'm so deeply embedded in a pit of hopelessness this evening that it feels like the boot is on the other foot, as if the universe is having a fabulously long and loud laugh at my expense. 

Some good things have happened recently, but when you're flattened under the sheer weight of too many straws it even manages to rub the shine off the nice bits of life. 

Toby is home, getting fitter and stronger by the day, and so bursting with happiness and life and laughter that he really is just a delightful joy to be with. Last week, he and I had a joint party, my birthday, his welcome home party. Debbie, a lovely friend, even made us each an absolutely delicious cake, so we were able to blow our candles out in tandem. I got some wonderful presents and so did Toby, but I think one of my presents topped anything anyone could ever buy him. It was the present I've been wanting for over 40 years, and had given up hope of ever getting it. Some of my friends are amazing, and go to all sorts of lengths to achieve the impossible. It was, you'll never believe it, it actually was, a signed "To Yvonne,Get Well Soon" framed photo of Donny Osmond with his sister Marie! Wow wow and double wow, now how cool is that? 

Forty years ago, he was the man I was going to marry and have all his babies. Yes I know that virtually the entire female population of the western hemisphere thought that too, but you see, I really knew it. One cold, dark evening in December, my mum and dad took me and a friend up to London to see the Oxford Street Christmas lights, something we did every year. It was a particular ritual that I used to make my Dad drive through Piccadilly Circus several times over whenever it was Christmas Light Night. I only discovered recently that he lied to me, and that it isn't against the law to drive through Piccadilly Circus more than three times in any one night, and if a policeman sees our car again we won't all go to prison. 

Anyhow, this particular night, we'd driven the whole length of Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street, countless other streets and done Piccadilly Circus to see its enormous Coca Cola moving neon advert the regulatory three times, when we got stuck in a traffic jam. 

You need to know that in those days, my parents had a two-door car, so there weren't any passenger doors for the exclusive use of those of us on the back seat. 

The traffic seemed to have come to a complete standstill, and then we could hear singing in the distance. Mum opened her window, and clear as day we could hear what they were singing. "We love you Donny, oh yes we do.......". The penny dropped, the lightbulb "OMG" moment occurred, and before my parents could do anything to stop it happening, my friend and I wound down our windows, shimmied out of the car, and legged it the 100 yards or so to the Dorchester Hotel, where the Osmond brothers were staying. It was brilliant. One of those magic nights that will stay with me forever. I was part of a huge group of several hundred other young girls belting out undying love songs on Park Lane. The best bit was the total sense of freedom, I knew darned well my poor parents would take ages to get out of the traffic jam and find somewhere to park and then to find me in this huge crowd. 

Suddenly a couple of black limos came from nowhere. As one, my crowd of girls ran towards the cars and threw ourselves at them. My face was pushed right against the glass, and peering straight into my eyes from the other side was Donny himself. Unbelieveable. I managed to hang on to the that window all the way down the road, around the corner and halfway down the slope to the underground car park. Donny was still looking straight at me. I knew, in my thirteen year old heart, that he was totally smitten and crazily in love too. That's why I knew it was me he was going to save himself for. I'm sure he waited years and years for me before marrying the lovely Debbie (not the same lovely Debbie who bakes cakes) but unfortunately my parents had me firmly locked in a turret for the next several years lest I ever do anything so ridiculous ever again. 

Just as the barrier to the car park went up, some rather mean-spirited security guards turned the hoses on us, really powerful, freezing cold ones, and I was nearly half drowned as Donny and I were forced apart. I'm sure he was as heartbroken as I was. Don't the people at the Dorchester Hotel know anything about true love? 

My parents were not best pleased to have 2 soaking wet and shivering drowned rats in the back of the car, and they were really cross all the way home but I don't really think I even noticed, and I don't think I even cared if they threatened to ground me until I was 47. 

So, now I've finally got Donny at home with me, just where he's always belonged, taking pride of place on the mantlepiece. Although if WM turns the photo to the wall even one more time he may find himself double dumped for real. 

Actually no. I could never dump WM. Donny's a mormon so I'm sure he can share me. WM is probably the best thing that's ever happened to me, and if my friend was to ask again how I keep going, the honest answer is, it's WM who manages that one. 

And here it is, my Donny photo. Actually, "Get well soon" is his secret code for "I still love you after all those years and I'm totally yours". He can also spell "Yvonne" correctly - see, it's meant to be.