Making lemonade out of life’s lemons…

On Monday night I went home from work for the last time, and the next morning I woke up in a new world as an unemployed person.

I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever been totally unemployed before, and the truth is, apart from a few months here and there while studying full-time I haven’t been.

I was really grumpy last week, realising that after turning down the opportunity to be a leader at a Surf Camp due to already having used a good chunk of my annual leave to do Erasmus earlier this year in Würzburg – I could have done it after all. I had enough time off in lieu and annual leave hours leftover to finish my job a day early.

I’ve applied to several jobs – all of which I am capable of and would even excel at. Jobs I have the qualifications and experience for. I haven’t got so much as an interview for any of them.

It’s a hugely humbling experience, because never have I not got an interview for jobs I’ve been qualified for. I knew it wasn’t going to be a case of walking straight into another job – but I honestly expected to at least have been invited for a few interviews.

The idea that my job hunt could go on for a really long time, that I can’t go on ‘the dole’ due to my student status is very daunting. My student status also means that I can’t look geographically further than the central belt in my search too. I desperately want to get my postgraduate qualification, and wish so badly that I was graduating this year instead of 2015.

I was ready for some serious wallowing, but lucky for me I’ve got some incredible friends. My friend Kathy is one of those who knows me really well, and she made sure that I had something to occupy me on my first day of unemployment. I’m most productive when I’m busy, and when I have nothing to aim for I struggle. As I’ve mentioned previously a lot of things ended at once. Being the end of term, I was also finishing up Girlguiding and Spanish classes last week so I went from being insanely busy without any free weekday evenings to having a totally empty calendar in the space of a weekend! We planned to use our Zoo membership and were gifted with a gorgeous sunshiney day.

And then my friend Nicola called, and spoke the words of wisdom that I needed reminding of. Rather than be upset about how my plans hadn’t worked out, and worrying about the future, I needed to look for the opportunities in my present.

It turned out one presented itself, as my friends leading Surf Camp wanted to give a commentary with photos of how it was going – only there was no internet connection available at the outdoor centre. By being at home in Edinburgh and having my smartphone and iPad I was able to do this for them running the social media page with their updates sent to me via text messaging. And so while visiting the zoo, and sitting on buses and during lunchtime on my last day at work and even wandering the Scottish National Portrait Gallery with another friend – I was busy with my social media coordinator hat on for Soul Surfers.

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I’m now pretty sure that August or September will be the earliest I have paid employment again…and so I have this summer, and want to consider how I should use it. Already I’ve been able to catch up with friends that have been neglected by my busy schedule and lack of car. I definitely want to continuing doing that while I still can – I know that once university gets going again there’ll be little time for socialising. There are things to investigate and things I want to reflect on, research and write about. I feel it would be unwise to rush into another phase of life for the sake of just doing something as opposed to waiting for the right thing.

Though I won’t lie, I am fearful of running out of money before the right job is offered to me.

I have been taking encouragement from the words of wise women, and actually had found this speech from Julianna Margulies probably only days before I found out the charity I was working for was going to be shut down. That phrase ‘I realise my mission in life was to learn more not earn more‘ has run round and round my brain for weeks now. The knowledge that some of the most fulfilling times this year have been the moments I’ve been learning…through Girlguiding, taking Spanish classes and going Germany (I genuinely feel I learned more through those 2 weeks and doing my research prep beforehand than I did the rest of my year at Glasgow). I just pray that it will be used and it all does have a purpose…

I’ll leave you just now with the speech from Julianna that she gave to the graduating students at Sarah Lawrence (which sounds like an amazing school with an ethos I could get behind!)

 

From being too busy to a totally empty diary…

A few months ago, I sent this picture to my friend when I realised that I couldn’t squeeze in a coffee and baby cuddle date with her before I went to Germany to do an Erasmus programme at the University of Würzburg. At that point life had got so ridiculously busy that I was ready to just skip the Germany trip altogether because I felt like I was missing out. I didn’t even look forward to it as the reality of classes, work, Girlguiding and long cold winter days hit and there I was throwing in extra stuff into the mix. IMG_2012

 

I think my quoting line was ‘Who needs to go to Germany anyway?’. Of course, had I not, I really would have missed out on a great learning experience both in terms of researching and understanding more about the politics of Lifelong learning, making new friendships, discovering the Children’s Literature course at Glasgow and getting to travel in Bavaria. Oh. And käsespätzle. My roommate and I really loved the käsespätzle. And strawberry yoghurt milka chocolate. I came home with every last oodle of space in my rucksack taken up by German chocolate. Which I shared with my friends when I got home.

When I came back my work was in crisis. I had my final presentation and assignment to do for my Educational theories course. My friends insisted that in spite of all stress and busyness that I had to have a party on my 30th birthday. Preferably with a bouncy castle.

It’s my final week in my job this week. I’ve been applying for new jobs, but still haven’t had so much as an interview. Next Tuesday I will be officially unemployed. It’s a little daunting now. I’ve never been unemployed before – even during the majority of my undergraduate studies I had a paid work at the same time. Pretty much every job I applied for, I got.

This week I have Girlguiding, Spanish class and my job.

Next week all three of those things won’t be there.

I have no idea what I’ll do with all that free time because I’m so used to being busy. I mean looking for jobs is an obvious one. And I will probably  read the massive pile of books that I’ve been working through any spare moment at home since I handed in my final assignment for the year. I will write. I will investigate opportunities for Girlguiding next year.

But usually I’m trying to squeeze it in. What happens when you’re not running in the door to run back out again with different bags of stuff 15 minutes later?

I guess I’m about to find out.

But I don’t really want to. I love working. :)

Why complaining has me exhausted…

Oh. my. word.

What a battle this week has been.

Last weekend really and totally sucked. I had to switch my Monday shift at work to a Tuesday one so I would be there to explain to client about the closure of the charity and what that meant.

After the weekend I just wanted to be back at work. It was lonely and horrible.

Monday I met up with my sister who was in town. In the evening I went to the Guides campfire. I came home to an e-mail from Girlguiding HQ that made me very angry as they’d changed the Young Leadership Qualification syllabus with no warning. 10 days after I’d given out the girls packs of the now ‘old’ syllabus. Because they hadn’t yet started, they have to use the new ones. A lot of time wasted as we heave a big sigh and start from scratch the work of printing out workbooks, speaking to leaders and commissioners…

To wake up on Tuesday discover mail at the front door regarding our Senior Section bank account. In September we’d sent off forms to add the other leader as a signatory. I feel comfortable enough sharing this photo as basically NONE of the information on it is correct. They have me married, they have the incorrect name, they have me living in a church hall in another part of Edinburgh (which has no connection to our unit whatsoever!) and they actually spelled the wrong address incorrectly. And apparently it took eight months for them to work out their mistake and send it to my correct address.

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I was later into work than I intended as I went into the nearest branch of the Bank of Scotland to make a complaint and try and get to the bottom of the mystery. The staff there was just as confused and ticked off as I was (and I got compliments for being very pleasant while making my complaints!)

The complaint making continued once I got to work as I made yet another call to our local Council. You see, the Scottish Government introduced a new law at the beginning of this year making it illegal for businesses to put anything recyclable into a general waste wheelie bin, or to dispose of recycling in domestic recycling bins. I’m sure environmentalists out there think ‘Hurrah! Great!’.

But there are a few problems. Firstly how crippling it is for small businesses to pay extra for all the different recycling bins and collections you now need. Secondly there was no exemptions or discounts for charities. We are classed as businesses. The government spent more money on fun ‘projects’ to teach about recycling rather than sending leaflets and information to businesses so they’d know this new law was coming and how it would affect them. And the local councils weren’t prepared for the sudden increase in workload.

Cue us spending 6 months with an ever growing pile of recycling in our office as we continually call our Council to speak to a Trade Waste officer to get a recycling contract. I’ve made complaints to local councillors, complaints to the Council, complaints to the Environmental Wardens…

Wednesday. I’m exhausted and I smell of campfire from a Soul Surfers marshmallow toasting session. I’m also slightly hacked off that out of a group of 9 students only two bother to turn up to a visit they requested. Kudos to the two who bothered to call to let me know they couldn’t come and apologised. I really appreciate you taking the time to do that, and wish the others had too. I head home from work and realise I’ve misplaced the church hall keys. I find them in a handbag. And I have to explain to the girls that the YLQ packs I gave them two weeks before are now out of date and I need to get them new ones.

Thursday and it’s another rubbishy day at work. At the moment there is such a state of flux and everything ‘dying’ that  it’s just not a great place to be. It’s also awful as we have to face the anger people express when we hear we are shutting down. Part of me is with them. The other part of me wonders where the heck they’ve all been the last seven years when we needed their support. Either way I get a grumpy feeling. I make it to Spanish class though, and get cheered up by a gorgeous view of the city in the evening light.

Friday and Jo comes round to help me count the Active Kids vouchers. I go onto the website to ‘bank’ them so we can then do our order. The website comes up with this message:

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Frustrating, but I figure I’ll just try again in 10 minutes or an hour. When I do, it informs me that I can’t bank any vouchers this year because my order is now in process. EVEN THOUGH I HAVEN’T ORDERED ANYTHING. I call their expensive “helpline” and speak to a friendly dude who basically tells me ‘Sorry, the website sucks and we can’t do anything to fix the problem. You’ll need to print off everything and do it by hand with the pack I got sent.” When I explain my pack has never arrived he says “oh well, sorry. Must have got lost in the post.” Yep. I wasn’t chuffed. I’m trying to imagine why a company would even bother having a helpline if it isn’t even going to attempt to fix problems that are not the fault of the customers?! I send tweets to Sainsbury’s and a strongly worded (but polite) e-mail.

Mostly, I don’t want to tell Guides I couldn’t get the stuff we’ve all been collecting vouchers for when I go back after the summer.

By this point I’m ready to lose it, and decide for my own sanity, it’s either buy a printer to use for Girlguiding or quit being a Girlguiding leader. So I go to buy a printer. Later that night I take it out and set it up try to print the end of term Guide letters……and it won’t print in black.

I really do lose it at this point.

Realising that throwing myself out a window is probably not a particularly productive option I resist the temptation to take that route and instead take to facebook and twitter to let out yet another rant. Because I realise that I’m going to have to phone another company and make another complaint. I’m also worried that it’s the printer that is faulty because did I mention the struggle I had carrying it up a hill in the warm sunshine while my flip flops cut up my foot with every step?

(It was the cartridge…and no I’ve not had the chance to go return it yet).

So yes. It’s been a battle this week. I don’t think I’ve had to make so many complaints in my life, and it is EXHAUSTING. The thing that has kept me going is remembering why I volunteer with Girlguiding. Why I go to work each day.

Thankfully, I’ve had a great day at a Girlguiding workshop helping to give feedback on developing new web platform for Girlguiding UK and went to the Zoo on my way home as it wasn’t raining (and days where it doesn’t rain in Scotland have to be utilised and appreciated wherever possible).

Rest tomorrow me thinks!

Answering the FAQs of the moment…

Hi Everyone,

Since the charity I work for broke the news about the closure I’ve been inundated with e-mails asking if I’m ok, how sorry they are, how angry they are (in some cases) and what I’m going to do next. It’s really lovely to know that so many people care, but also overwhelming and I haven’t managed to get through all those messages to be able to reply to each one individually as I want to.

I know many of my friends read this blog so I’ll answer some of the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

It’s not a question, but usually the first thing people say is ‘OMG! I’m so sorry. :( ‘ Yes. I’m sorry too. It’s really sad, and it honestly feels like a death in the family. We are as a team grieving and with that comes the stress, the dread of telling people, and our heads not being quite fully screwed on (like on Monday, my colleague passed the phone to me and I answered “Hello, I’m Laura Anne, can I ask who I am phoning to…oh wait, no. I mean speaking to” thankfully the person on the other end of the phone laughed with me! And my colleagues who overheard were giggling too.)

I do also get why some are feeling anger, especially when they know how much the charity I worked for has helped so many people and still very much needed. But for reasons I won’t go into here, I think it’s right that it is ending. I just hope that something else provides for the need.

Why don’t you start your own charity? It has crossed my mind, but I’m also very aware of how exhausted I am from the battles that I’ve faced working for this one. It is hard work, it requires long term financial support and also I think I need time to get used to the idea that my workplace won’t be there when I leave. I never imagined leaving without handing my work over to someone. I can see myself possibly starting a charity similar to the one I’ve worked for these last 7 years in the future, but I don’t think the time is right to do it this summer!

Are you ok? I’m not going to lie and say that this process is easy and fun. It is not. But I do have peace that there is a reason for this, and there are opportunities that are going to come from this chapter of my life coming to a close. There are a few things in the back of my mind, well, one in particular that I’ll not mention here at the moment as it’s just an idea and I don’t know whether it’s possible that it could happen. I’m waiting for some direction from the universe for that!*

*If by some chance a random thought pops into your head that you think you need to share with me, then no matter how ‘out there’ it may seem, do share it. If I think it’s totally unrelated I’ll just tell you. After all, I’m the girl who told her friends that they needed to go find a blue camper van when the only one for sale seemed to be green. It turned out the green camper van was actually  blue.

What am I going to do? Well there is still work to do in my job before this month ends and my notice period has ended. I have 3 more Spanish classes to go at Edinburgh uni. There are two campfires to plan for and badges to be awarded. I have some gymnastics tickets that will be used this July. And my friend has just booked us tickets for Shakespeare for Breakfast on one of the first days at the Fringe because we enjoyed it so much last year. There is a lot to look forward to. I’m hoping that when my last day at work arrives it is going to give me time to skype with my friend to brainstorm about the children’s book we are hoping to write together. And I’ve applied for a few jobs that I think I’d be a good fit for (let’s hope the prospective employers think so too!) In between I’m trying to make time to do internet searches for jobs and apply for them, and willing my little MacBook to please stay alive until I get another job (it’s about to turn 4 which seems to be the magic number that each of my laptops always die on. This MacBook is already showing signs of following this particular trend). Oh yes. And one more year of university….I need to decide if I want to upgrade my diploma to a Masters. Eek!

I hope that settles some burning questions. I know I’m super lucky to have been blessed with a sense of humour and have been able to laugh at some of the ironic moments that have been occurring and the days where we get overwhelmed by the unknowns and the sadness of farewelling something that has been a huge part of our lives. I’ve always been a laugher more than a crier, and I plan to keep it that way. :) The great thing about times of upheaval is that they force you to reflect, reassess and affirm you are on the right path, still holding integrity to your values and beliefs and make you realise who your true friends are. I’ve been blessed with oh so many incredible people to call my friends and I know exactly how lucky I am in that regard.

I’ll be keeping you posted!

LA x

 

 

Because balloon antlers are fashionable…honest…

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Oh man, what a crazy week it’s been! I didn’t sleep after coming home from Guides last Monday, and when my alarm went off on Tuesday morning I was feeling very pathetic and miserable. I just couldn’t get moving and felt pretty ill. I knew that the last two classes days before going to Germany are important for our final assignment for this module though so I managed to get out the door – though very late. Lucky for me, the 8.30 train to Glasgow was running just as late as me so I ended up being to class just in the nick of time. Phew! I was however, very grateful for a lift home in my friend’s car to our Soul Surfer gathering – the thought of repeating the subway-train-bus journey back home wasn’t an encouraging thought.

By Thursday I was full of the cold. I had Friday off to do uni work and to go to a meeting about the workloaad for Germany. Saturday I had promised to volunteer as a Steward at the Alpha Scotland vision day being held at our church. It was an early start, but lovely to see some old friends – including my pastor and his wife from my Aberdeen days (and two of their sons I babysat sometimes when I was a student. They introduced me to Star Wars). I did however get SOAKED trying to get home – I really miss having a car. Pilates got cancelled for the third day in a row. 

Finally on Sunday, we got there. And my friend came with  a flashdrive full of photographs from the Baden-Powell Award party we had for two of our ‘graduated’ Guides taken by her husband. The photo above included…

Now, I’m feeling much better, though still a little scabby and sneezy. There’s a lot happening on the Landlord duty front. A friend of our family was buried today having lost a battle with an extremely rare form of cancer a couple of weeks ago. We just had the CEO of Girlguiding UK visiting our Guides (more of that on The Girlguiding Life soon). I have my last uni class tomorrow. I head to Germany this coming weekend and I’m trying not to freak out about it.

Oh, and I still need to finish the reading for my class tomorrow. And it’s almost Midnight. 

Deep breath.

Phew.

I can do this. 

:)

What the kids need to know…

Ok. Confession. I got an iPad for uni and I started taking it into work because our office computer is decrepit. I was working over lunch, and switched from my work e-mail to twitter and saw a link to the latest Kid President video on SoulPancake. This time of year is the busiest for people coming for counselling after termination and miscarriage, and it does get you feeling kinda blue. This video just gave me a little bit of hope and lifted my spirits…

Last week my friend came to visit my Senior Section to tell them about a charitable organisation she volunteers with. And she brought with her one Jambino* . He spent half the meeting chewing on my finger and an ice cold flannel (teething is rubbish) and the other half asleep with his face smooshed against me. The first night I met him and held him last summer I had him semi-awake lying flat on my lap and I told him everything that he needed to learn about. You know…important stuff like Jesus, being a Hearts fan, knowing Gibbs’ rules and how his father is totally wrong about Starbucks brownies. Oh, and cartwheeling on beaches…

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Welcome to the world Miles (and PS to Kid President Robby Novak, I don’t know about being an uncle, but I know that being an Auntie totally rocks!!)

*don’t worry, it’s another one of my nicknames! he has a real name that suits him well that his parents put on his birth certificate. Jambino means ‘wee jambo in the making’ in the Laura Anne baby name dictionary and is only used for blogging purposes. Just like Miss Sweetroot, Elastaboy, Mr Teapot, Mini Kahuna and Princess Monkey. And bump yet to be nicknamed…

Halfway through January already…

The next crazy quarter has begun. I went back to work and Senior Section last week, and it wasn’t the best start to the year ever. Knowing that university classes and Guides joined the timetable this week, I spent Sunday in preparation. Making sure all the laundry was done (though I stupidly forgot to do my bedsheets – doh!). Making a big pot of chilli and a loaf of chocolate banana teabread both to be divided into lunch-sized portions and frozen. By bedtime I had a raised temperature and a nasty headache which I figured was no big deal until I got up on Monday morning and realised that I was seeing dots and feeling sick and dizzy. Right back to bed I went (after phoning work and taking some paracetamol) and I didn’t wake up until 1 p.m. – thankfully feeling a good deal better.

But ugh, it wasn’t how I wanted to start the week.

I started a new course at university on Tuesday, learning about Educational Models for Community learning and development. It was like two worlds collided for me – counselling and education as we were given big pieces of paper to reflect on our ‘learning journeys’ with the barriers and facilitators to our learning along the way.

I’m terrible at drawing, but it was nice that I finally got to use ALL the contents of my pencil case from my Paperchase “I’m a student again” shopping spree back in September. All three of my recycled pencils got used. My pencil sharpener and the eraser. And the mini highlighter pens.

Yes. I’m easily pleased!

This is the course I’ve most been looking forward to, as it is all totally new to me and I’m intrigued to learn more about educational theories, models and practice.

Germany is edging closer too – my paper is due in on Monday (eek) and it’s less than a month until we leave. It’s come around super fast and I’ll admit I’m starting to get super nervous for the plane ride. I got myself into a right state the last time I had to fly and I already often feel like an idiot amongst my super intelligent, worldly experienced classmates quite a lot of the time (even though they are all so lovely!).

Now it is time for a work meeting. I’m typing this as I eat my tea in the office! So long for now…let me know how life is going (mine is going to be work, uni and guiding for a while again).

It’s a strange thing this life…

I’m not sure how we got 6 days into January already.

I spent the first 4 days of the new year with my older brothers. It’s the first time in a long time we’ve spent more than 2 days together at one time. For four days, we existed in our family bubble. And then all of a sudden it was time to get ready for going back to normal life. Going to the supermarket to get ‘normal’ food. Doing laundry. Finding work bags. Checking and replying to e-mails amongst the screeds of spam. Realising how much I didn’t get done during the holiday period.

And how many friends I still hadn’t seen.

I was reflecting after being at the beach with the Soul Surfers crew yesterday on the strange life I lead. Believing in God, but avoiding church. Being a Christian yet being deeply immersed in social issues that are polarising politically. Being known as the person that ‘knows everyone’ but rarely seeing people in person.

I find myself challenged as I head into this new year, working out my beliefs and values. Being drawn to gain understanding of different belief systems and practices. Examining myself to recognise my prejudices.

On the simple side, I think of all the tasks I have a responsibility to complete but haven’t yet. Research papers, travel insurance documents, lease agreements, keys, programmes to plan, reading lists to be conquered…it is exhausting to contemplate. And as this day ends, I realise all I can do is to take one day at a time. Get as much done as I have the energy to do. Rest. Replenish. And start over again a-new tomorrow.

Deep breath.

…and sleep. (Ok, read a book or watch something for a bit then sleep). :)

Courage over fear…

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At the beginning of this year, I said that my ‘word’ for 2013 would be more of a phrase. Courage over fear. We’re now almost at the end of 2013. This year has been such a blur, and as we head into Christmas week I cannot believe it has been 2 years since we got the call that my friend had been found dead on Christmas Eve.

Perhaps it was the Olympics, perhaps it was realising that whether I like it or not, as a Girlguiding leader I am a role model for the girls I work with – for good or for ill! I just remember looking out the bucket list, and looking at my wall. As I gazed at the wise words from two of my favourite authors, I realised that I need to start applying the wisdom rather than just acknowledging it.

I have not failed this year.

There are things I hoped to do that I didn’t get done – my ALQ is yet to be completed and I never got my Open College Network coursework all handed in.

But I did start coming up with ideas for a children’s story based on my two reindeer who never went back into the box with all the Christmas decorations and sat on my chest of drawers all year instead. I applied for a dream job with British Gymnastics. I didn’t get it, but I went for it without regrets. I worked up the courage to do a spacehop for charity and was overwhelmed with the support I got. I got people collecting Active Kids vouchers for our Guide unit and friends were kind enough to post me vouchers from as far away as Northern Ireland to help us. I investigated universities and finally took the plunge of submitting an application, even allowing a few friends to know I was applying despite my fears of rejection. I gave a guy my number when he asked me out after we got chatting on the bus one day. I did ring my friend Kathy in a panic almost straight away after, because I have pretty tight boundaries now when it comes to guys given my history until I know that they know they are in the ‘friend zone’. I handed in a pieces of work I knew I hadn’t had time to do my best on instead of simply quitting my degree. I applied to go to a winter school in Germany. I went on long road trips with people I don’t know very well yet. I went rock climbing – twice.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of things that I considered doing and didn’t because of being unsure or not having the time or money to do it. But as I look back, I realise that I have come farther this year than I have since being in Australia 6 years ago.

There are a lot of things I’m afraid of still. But I remember that courage is not the absence of fear, it’s the bravery in facing fears.

Next year I hope to do my best in Germany and not be too afraid of me getting ill or others getting ill. I hope to use my time out of uni wisely. I hope to get my ALQ finished. I hope to get a new kitchen in my flat and to start saving for a car. I hope to meet up with Rebecca and Holly in York. I hope to catch up with friends like Nicola and Sinead that I didn’t get to see in person this year. I would like to go visit my friend while she is studying in Paris. I would love to do some more rock climbing. I would love to do a dance class. I would love to try and learn some more sign language. I would like to help grow Girlguiding. And I’d like to see more films (I am gutted that Kill Your Darlings is not showing in any of the Edinburgh cinemas now).

I lost two grandparents this year and two close family friends – all to cancer.

That, and remembering that the boy I spent my first formative years with who I said I would marry when we grew up has already been gone from this earth for two years…reminds me that I need to keep pushing to do all I can to make the world a better place. To enjoy life as much as I can. I don’t know when my time will be up, nor when any of my loved ones could be taken.

So here’s to 2014 when it comes, and making the rest of our lives, the best of our lives!

2013 in review…

What, for you, was the high point of 2013? Were there any other highlights?

For me, the high point of 2013 was my April trip to London. I loved seeing Matilda, I loved seeing Miss Sweetroot’s responses to her first time in the city, I loved being with such great friends and a special memory was made watching the Sunset from the London Eye.

Other highlights include Soul Surfer Road Trips to Polzeath, Aberdeen and Cardiff and watching two of the Guides getting awarded their Baden Powell. And getting accepted to do my postgraduate qualification at Glasgow uni!

What, for you, was the low point of 2013?

2013 has been the year of the Grim Reaper. Two grandparents, two uncles, one of my Mum’s best friends and my childhood friend’s Mum.

Plus Feb-April being ill with flu, my café spill and some weird sinus/viral infection thing was just a bit rubbish.

Tell me some things you learned this year.

I learned how to use moodle. And I learned how much I hate moodle too! I learned the art of nagging to get things done in girlguiding. I was reminded how passionate I am about learning over teaching, education in general and how education will always be more of a passion than counselling ever will be.

Who would be your “person of 2013″? It could be someone you know or a famous person who’s inspired you.

Back in November, my friend asked the leader of Christian Surfers International for his one bit of wisdom he would share. It was this: think about who’s kingdom you are trying to build. The main reason being that it takes jealousy, competition and pride out of the playing field.

Amen to that.

What was the best film you saw this year?

I’ve seen very few films this year, but probably Les Miserables.

And what was the worst?

Thor 2.

Or Lincoln – does it count if we switched it off half an hour in because we were so bored watching it?

What was the best book you read?

I can’t pick between How the Girl Guides Won the War and The Perks of Being A Wallflower.

What was the best thing you saw on TV?

I was not impressed with how NCIS ended last season….DUCKY!!!!!! (and if you are in America, Australia or you have fancy TV in the UK – yes, we’re only on Season 9 and you’re all on Season 10 and 11).

And of course…How I Met Your Mother.

What, for you, was the sporting highlight of 2013?

The European Artistic Gymnastics Championships. If anyone thought that London 2012 was a fluke, think again. Our lads took home a lot of medals…and then Kristian Thomas and Max Whitlock followed it up by bringing home a couple more from Worlds later in the year. Happy British Gymnastics fan here!

What was the best album or song you heard in 2013? What song did you play most?

Back in May, my friend Judith and I ended up wandering round a branch of Fopp in London’s West End. They had a tune playing and I loved it so I asked what it was they were playing. I ended up bringing home Sam Amidon’s Bright Sunny South album home with me to Edinburgh.

Unsurprisingly the most played song on my iTunes is ‘My Old Friend’.

What are you looking forward to in 2014?

I am looking forward to going to Germany with some of my coursemates from university to do the Lifelong Learning winter school. I’m hoping to meet up with friends from around the UK. And I hope to do lots more fun things with the Guides and Senior Section! :)