Monday, 29 December 2014


#Nurture 1415
2014 saw some real highs for me as well as inevitably some low moments too.
1.       Tommy
The biggest highlight of the year was the birth of my grandson Tommy. I read a quote somewhere that said ‘I didn’t know how much love my heart could hold until I became a grandmother’ and that is so true. I have never been the natural ‘maternal type’ as I’m sure my son will testify – I loved him so much but he very quickly learnt to become independent – he’s a much better cook than I will ever be. BUT becoming a grandmother was amazing – I miss Tommy if I haven’t seen him for a couple of days and my heart literally contracts when he sees me and smiles.
We have seen several specialists from plastic surgeons to mobility experts all of whom are happy with him as he is learning to use his ‘little arm’. One of my proudest moments as a mum was when my son wrote this, explaining how Tommy came to be born with only one hand and how they would always support him.
Christmas this year was very sad for lots of reasons but for the first time in 27 years I managed to visit my eldest son’s grave without collapsing into a heap and this is due to the healing and love that Tommy has brought with him. I have a wonderful daughter in law who lets me have Tommy regularly – even for ‘sleepovers’ (yes there is a reason that ‘sleep’ is in inverted commas!) I cannot wait to spend more time with him next year – we have a pile of books everything from ‘Guess how much I love you’ to the ‘Tiger who came to tea’ complete with their corresponding toys. Tommy is probably the most photographed baby ever but he puts up with it with good grace.

2.       Family
Many of my blog posts this year have been under the heading of ‘Dementia Diaries’ and have chronicled the downward spiral of my mum and the toll that this has taken on us as a family. It has brought us together and we shared highlights such as my Dad’s 80th birthday but a lot of our celebrations are tinged with sadness as although mum is there physically she is not mum as we know her to really be.

3.       Working with the ITL family
It has been amazing to work with these wonderful people. From Big Days out, to trips to Brussels to planning sessions – all done with good humour lots of banter and a shared goal. To the new members I’ve met its been lovely to get to know you – to  many of the old hands, thank you for your support and total madness! Hywel I think we are jinxed whenever we go on journeys together – our track record can only improve!

4.       Photography
This year has seen the publication of my own book ‘Learning through a lens’ (thank you to all at Northern Rocks for allowing me to have my launch there)as well as books for which I provided most of the photographs ‘21st C Assemblies’ Will Ryan ‘Dirty Teaching’ Juliet Robertson and ‘Teaching with Flowers’ Julie Warburton. I am stunned that I have my images in books – I suffer from crippling self-doubt and always think that my work is not good enough – thank you to Crown House for believing in me.

5.       Dens
Dens has definitely got to be a highlight – my wonderful friend @cathy_cross has introduced me fully to the world of den building and I can now use cable ties like a professional! The moment we sat in the car (reminiscent of an Only Fools and Horses episode) after our first ‘official’ gig at MMU last January will stay with me forever J Many thanks to friends and schools who have helped us with this.

1.       Tommy has to head this list too – I have promised him ( we have lots of chats when we are on our own) that I will support him always and will not let his little arm hold him back – I am passionate that he understands he can be and do anything that he wants to be. I wish all children had a champion – someone to support and cheer them on however hard life gets. I’m working on a special project around children like our Tommy with @ArtBethan – watch this space J

2.       My personal goal is to realise that I can’t solve everyone’s problems, I’m not responsible for everything and it’s ok to ask for help. I worry about so much – I need to realise that some things aren’t worth worrying about. If I’m true to myself and my values it doesn’t matter what others think of me. I will try to have more self-confidence but this is hard!

3.       Photography – obviously this is my passion but I’m going to push myself this year – new projects, stop being lazy and shoot in manual mode more often! Develop different styles – my Instagram account is already stylised – I need to develop this.
I am thinking of opening an online store on Etsy to sell some of my images – just need a shop name now – thinking ‘Faded Images’ as I tend to shoot lots of things which are decaying – any ideas?
I have set up a new blog to work on a 365 project with a difference – no prompts just images I choose with quotes and other things thrown in!

4.       Making a difference
I’m involved in two major projects which will take me well out of my comfort zone – I’m excited but scared at the same time. In March I’m going to Kenya with @WWEP  and Debra Kidd to work at Kakuma Refugee camp and then bring this work back to Schools in the UK via ITL and WWEP

I’m also involved with the Pop Up Farm @popupfarm  and Paul Clarke with Lots of interesting projects such as the 30 year Dance in time and coffee projects beginning with a visit to their headquarters at the Chateau Millemont in Paris next month

5.       Continue to work with teachers and colleagues who have the same values that I do – when we are told – ‘no you can’t do that’ we find a way – I've had amazing times this year – throwing paint at pupils, building dens, building from scrap, using photography with pupils, working with famous artists…

Who knows what 2015 will bring but one thing is certain – it won’t be boring!
Oh I forgot!! Cathy we have that book deadline looming

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