Tag Archives: learning

#metoo

Well what a shit storm this has created. 

Not long ago, I was open about some of the abuse that I have received – and it took A LOT for me to commit that to a blog. I never talk about it. Ever. I don’t talk about the guys who have grabbed by boobs, my ass, pushed their hands into my crotch, who have pushed the hands up my skirt, who have molested me, who haven’t even asked let along ignored ‘no’.

#Metoo is important. We need to voice this sort of thing, because like I said in previous posts, we are continuously conditioned to keep quiet, to find a reason why it happened. We are told that we must have done or said something, that we should be ashamed over what happened. 

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This hashtag is supposed to highlight how many people are effected, to show that is isn’t just some bint that is featured in a news report or writes a blog or is featured on a documentary. That is is your mother, your sister, your coworker, you neighbour, it is your bus driver, your postie. It is anyone and everyone and these are not isolated. 

And you know what else, it doesn’t matter if that person misinterpreted advances. Because … oh hey there, advances, you were unwelcome. Your cat call, unwanted, you comment over the cut of the dress, unneeded. That hand on the boob over the line, the time you forced yourself on her, unforgivable. 

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Now, what else have we had over recent DAYS because of this, we have have the men complaining that it isn’t just women that are assaulted, although to be honest I think it is more women pointing this out… so okay. Sure. I get it, I really do. But one step at a time. I am all about inclusion but could we not just appreciate this for a moment before … no? Oh okay… lets all quietly change the wording on the blurb we are busily copying and pasting. 

Then we have that the men stepping up and apologising for any time they made a woman uncomfortable or if after reflection they did take things too far, didn’t listen, didn’t stop. These men have reflected, using the benefit of hindsight and been brutal in their analysis. And brave. Really fucking brave. Not only are they admitting they were wrong, they are not hiding behind ignorance or youth. They are not hiding. 

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Well, now let us move onto something else that quickly happened, to do with hiding. Women, who, like me just cut and pasted the blurb and didn’t go into their own story. Because to us, just saying #metoo was enough. It was enough to stand in solidarity to show that we are not lone, not the exception to the rule. But no, we are then told that we are faking, or hiding, or not being forthright, that we are jumping on the bandwagon. You know what. SO WHAT IF THERE ARE WOMEN OUT THERE USING THE HASHTAG ERRONEOUSLY it got us talking about it and for each woman who is just joining for solidarity’s sake, 10 more are sitting in the shadows ashamed of what might happen if they stand up.

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Oh then, yes, then we had (let us all remember this is a matter of what, 3 days?) men using the #methree hashtag. Men that have been FRIENDZONED and let us not get me started Nice guys finish last Welcome to the friend zone… and a few other blogs have covered my feelings on the matter. Or that women have had a free meal, a night out, a trip to the theatre, or a new bag out of a man and … and … get this. THEY DID NOT RETURN THE FAVOUR WITH SEX. Yes, yes I am shouting because I can honestly not fathom a time, reason, or excuse for this mentality and so I think I will leave this point alone before I do something silly. 

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Well, just when I thought that things couldn’t get worse, bear in mind every time it pops up on my news feed there is a different take on it, a friend sharing their own opinion, experience, their feelings or an article. 

This woman, I won’t utter her name. I am leaving this here. I have said quite enough about it on my own FB page, and if you are friends with me, I am sure if has popped up and I appreciate your comments on it. dickmove

Boobs are fantastic

So in a recent post I explored (albeit briefly) the no existence double standard that suggests that women can (and do?) star at a man’s crotch with impunity, but if a man looks at boobs he is a pervert. I won’t really bother going over this again, it is a waste of time and energy.

But I would like to take a moment to discuss boobs. Boobs to a degree are seen as public property. That goes no matter what size you rock, or whether you have a small child latched onto the nipple.

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It is almost as if, as a community, we are all predisposed to have an opinion. For the record, I have large boobs, I grew them myself. And most of the time I hate them. I have been propsitioned by men on my walk to work and offered money to touch them, I have been attacked, man handled, groped and had items shoved inbetween, under or over them. I have had long discussions about their size, as if the cup size makes a different to most people. The assaults on my boobage is not gender specific and certainly not often able to be excused on alcohol. 

Every set, and often, the individual boob, is different. In the same way dress size, or weight is a bad way of generalising. So what might work for one, will not work for another. 

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A prime example is a conversion that cropped up on a friend’s facebook following something she posted that may or may not have been directly related to, boobs. It then descended into the ‘first thing I do when I get home’ discussion. Honestly, I LOVE not wearing a bra. Not because my inner feminist loves to spit in the face of patriarchy but refusing to wear the constraints passed down to me… or whatever bollox is behind bra burning. And let me ask you, can you afford to burn bras? I certainly cannot! But of course there was the argument for not wearing bras, that it is better for the boob etc. I pointed out that honestly, if I had smaller, or better positioned boobs, if I had boobs that didn’t run and try and hide in my arm pits at every opportunity, I would in fact not wear a bra. I spend more of my free time braless. Or rather, most of my time at home, after all my chores have been done, and I have no plans on leaving the house, braless. 

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At this point, not a single person had volunteered their bra size, and again all boobs are different so even a larger cup size does not mean that they would not be comfortable without a good underwire. But me? Nope. And of course someone chimed in to suggest I wear a sports bra. Because they are supposed to be more comfortable. Nope. Sorry no. When you get to my cup size you are pretty much just strapping things down to minimise any movement and therefore minimising pain. But I do know plenty of people who do wear them, they are generally speaking, wireless and this is a large part of the appeal. 

Now, I am trying not to repeat myself, but again, everything is individual. so what works for one may not work as well for another, when seamfree bras became mainstream I was so excited, the promises of comfort and support without things digging in or hurting. Yeah… no. They work great over a normal bra for extra support (or like me you just hate sports bras and aren’t planning on doing much cardio. I am going on a tangent. I was pretty offended that someone who had no idea about my personal situation or preferences, lifestyle or frankly, anything, would make a sweeping statement on what I should be doing in such a condescending way. 

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BOOBS ARE NOT COMMUNITY PROPERTY.

Unlike, say.. suggesting that wearing a pair of jeans to work out in might not be such a good idea.. when it is something so personal. But we all seem to have an opinion. We are all obsessed. We all love boobs, or have boobs, or are fascinated with them because you don’t really understand the attraction but… aesthetics ? 

One thing I will say, is that conversely, and with express consent by all parties, I have had plenty of discussions with other women regarding boobs, comparing and discussing issues we either shared or were unique to us. We are encouraged to check our boobs to ensure that there are no changed. We should be aware of our own boobs, shape, colour and encourage our partners to be aware. But please, please do not assume you know anything about boob life until you have lived boob life, and be aware, your boob life can and will be a different life to your friend, cousin, coworker or neighbours 🙂 

But boobs really are fab, be respectful though.

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Fighting Fit part 4

Well, since I have a couple of weeks off from training, I am being more than a little reflective about what the Combat Training means to me, personally and generally.

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You see, as I briefly looked at in my last blog in the series, self defence is to a greater degree, different depending on your sex. Men will find themselves in a protecting situation either protecting their friends, family or pride. Women often defend themselves against predators, against sexual assault or domestic abuse.

Now, in my formative years, leaving teenage years and becoming an adult, I spent a lot of time with a group of guys who were all very interested in martial arts. They trained with me, it was interesting and they wanted me to be able to protect myself. It often involved jumping out of stairwells at me or having a foot land on my head at random intervals (although let us be fair, I don’t think there will be a real life situation where this will happen) and at no point did they suggest I couldn’t do something based on my gender. Although equally they were very protective when we were all out.

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That said, I remember them coming home more than once having been attacked on the way home, and I don’t think, on reflection, that their years of martial arts training helped them. Not that they would ever admit it. But their ego and confidence rubbed off on me, I am a fast talker and have often found myself in situations where I have engaged my mouth before engaging my brain. False bravado. But, as close as I have got, and my absolute refusal to back down if I know that I am right… I have never, ever been in a fight with a complete stranger. Nope. Never been attacked. I have got close, and even jumped into a taxi in broad daylight when I realised that I was being followed, and that the direction I was going would lead me to a very quiet part of town.

But I digress, like i have just said, I have never been attacked by a stranger. Most women are attacked in domestic situations. That, is to say, I have been a victim of domestic violence. I grew up in a household that suffered heavily with domestic violence. So you could say, I should have seen the signs. But no, there were really no signs. Or none that I was prepared to notice.

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It was one of the men that I had known for years, it was one of the men that had protected me on nights out, who had taught me to defend myself, correct form, how to punch. It was the same man that I had had a relationship with, who I trusted.

I honestly don’t really think about it often, I compartmentalise. And it was only on thinking about my last training session, and how broken I felt following it. I was thinking about something that was said, about training my reactions so I am able to react in a positive way if I ever find myself in a situation that I have to protect myself.

And what happened when I was attacked? Well, let us be frank. It was not a slap, it was no a shove, and lets remember, I had trained with this man before. I still have a pain in my breast bone from when he hyper extended a punch directing it to my spine. Training. So, it wasn’t just a tap. It was a full on punch, that I was no prepared for, or expecting. It wasn’t during an argument or an exchange.

I shut down. I totally, and utterly shut down. I had no response, I lacked the tools to be able to deal with it. I didn’t train for this, because this was done out of maliciousness and not in a safe spce.

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This is why self defence training, combat training in ‘real life’ situations is important. It is why I will keep going. I will keep pushing myself. It is why I am working hard at the gym so that I am able to participate more fully in the sessions. Because what happened to me, that attack? That was exactly what the training is talking about. It isn’t about same spaces, with comfortable mats on the floor, with a referee and people cheering you on. With a bell to announce the start of the round.

The Combat Academy will continue to challenge me, it will probably break me, I will try, I will keep training in the gym to work on my fitness. And I will do this, so I know, so I am prepared. So if I do find myself in a situation I have no control over, I am able to react.

As always, if you want more information CLICK HERE

Life before the internet

I woke this morning to the following question in a group ‘Older WOW players, what did you do before the internet’ – it is was posted in a game specific post and of course garnered plenty of answers along the lines of ‘we went outside’. The game itself, if you are not already familiar with it, has players of all ages, and worrying as it is to think about, there may well be players who have only known a world in which the game exists.

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But this question is very ambiguous – what is the question asking? Older – how are we quantifying this, if we don’t know how old the original poster is? Older than the internet maybe? But then, the internet is pretty old, broadband is still relatively new in the lifespan of the internet and MMORPG’s (massively multiplayer on line games) are also relatively new. I only really had free access to a personal computer from my early twenties. Before that I was relying on a flatmates or more often, using one at work in my free time. I understand that things have changed, and that most people will have access to the internet freely whether that is via their phone or another computing device.

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My reply to the question as posted in the group is as follows :

What is the question, how did we game or how did we entertain ourselves? Because they are 2 different questions. For example, old as I am, there have been computer games of a sort my entire life so really the only difference is that I now play an mmorpg. If the question is what I did for entertainment with friends?! We would go to each others houses which meant giving our parents a break for a few hours while we ate our friends out of house and home. With regards to entertainment generally, if you are asking how hobbies have evolved, are you asking what people did when they were younger? Because that hasn’t changed a great deal for me. The biggest change for me is communication which is that I no longer tie up the phone for hours on end and can have a conversation spanning and hour, an evening, or days as the participants dip in and out.
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For me the question is still troubling, is it asking what did we do for entertainment as children? Which I guess is implied as it is directed to ‘older’ players? But then, we would have changed what we do naturally as we get older. We might go out more, go out less, have more responsibilities, or more disposable income to spend on expensive hobbies. But the internet is more than just a game, for example, to link in with a recent show – we have access to things like Netflix. So not only do I get to play online, with other players and therefore interact real time with people, I can stream tv shows, movies, documentaries that are ready when I am, and… well let us now get started on my love of social media. 
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What did we do without the internet? Or what did we do before the internet? The answer is, we did things differently. We did most of the same things, if you enjoy outdoors, walking, running, cycling, riding… the internet has not changed this. If you enjoyed gaming with friends, tabletops? This still happens, but now you can also play games like WoW, gaming itself has been around long enough that really the internet has not changed this either. If you enjoy reading? Well, now we can buy books online and have them transferred onto our kindle (other reading devices, I am reliably informed, exist… ), if you love movies, cinemas still exist, people still love going out to see movies on the big screen. But yes, we can no stream movies, and shows etc when it suits us. There is very little that has ceased existing because of the internet, or been entirely replaced because of the internet although it might have been supplemented.
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So what is the answer? Well maybe the question might be, when you were my age, what did you do? That might have made more sense! 

Learn by watching

So this week on the show we are looking at You Tube and of course I look at makeup tutorials for inspiration and direction from time to time. But what actually prompted this blog was a ‘light bulb’ moment. I am going to be doing a blog on eye brow products – mostly inspired by my own mother. And then I realised, there has been a monumental shift in how we learn about makeup.

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Years ago, really people of my generation and above, will say that they remember how their mother applied their lipstick, watching her getting ready for work, or to go out in the evening. Often our first makeup was ‘borrowing’ our mothers products. So our first, hesitant steps into the work of face paint would be whatever our female relatives have at hand. Obviously if you were lucky enough to have an older sister it would broaden your experience.

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We would learn what products are ‘normal’ to use, and probably be guided in colours by our mother. When we first go out into the world to pick up makeup, we would go with what is safe. Although shopping with girlfriends would involve glitter EVERYTHING and hair mascara.

Recently I was at an Urban Decay event (which I am going to be writing up) and we had 3 different age groups, and it was funny that the uni student commenting on how on point the school leavers are, and they in turn saying that the year 7’s are even more on point with makeup. Year 7’s in makeup? I am not even sure how to process it. But you will have to forgive me, I grew up in the Eighties, so that was not exactly a great decade for makeup inspiration… nor were the Nineties if we are going to be honest. However, things really have changed.

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Are we not all guilty of utilising You Tube to learn new skills? I don’t know about you but I spend plenty of time on You Tube researching makeup, seeing new ideas, learning new skills. So really the only difference is that girls first learning about makeup are using the tools available to them, no different from anyone else. It is just that when they are first experimenting with makeup they are being exposed to trends, and brands and their expectation is different. And let’s be honest, the make up market has exploded in recent years. There is a lot more choice, both drug store level, high end but many more independent brands to choose from.

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You Tube gives people, of all ages, background, ability a platform – a platform free of big advertising and marketing budgets. It is honest, it is personal. There are so many things that you can find on You Tube. I spend as much time looking at makeup as I do listening to music. You Tube is my tool for procrastination. Because you have so many awesome suggestions to go check out. And often (in my experience) it doesn’t matter what you started off looking for … you end up looking at entirely unrelated videos – just ask Robb who in last weeks show explained that while he might start off looking at workout videos… somehow he finds cat videos.

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And it offers skills, for me, there are numerous videos showing different makeup techniques, hints, tricks, dupes, a fabulous resource that will help you nail the look you are trying to polish. And what is really great about these videos is that you will find one that clicks. You will watch countless that while very well done, and easy to follow… it doesn’t quite gel. Now for tomorrows show, I am going to be following a video uploaded by Moth Queen Makeup (go find her on You Tube and Facebook – tell her I sent you!) for the radio show. To make things interesting, I will not be doing a trial run, and will try and cobble together a video myself. I have followed MQM for a while and find her videos really easy to follow and she uses a mix of products often finding products that are a lot kinder on the wallet. So… I will see how that goes and do a write up following the show!

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You Tube is a fantastic resource, you will find help for almost anything. But please, please sure a little common sense when copying anything you have learnt. If it feels wrong, makes you uncomfortable, or you just aren’t sure… don’t do it. Keep looking and see if there is another video that might offer a better solution. And one more thing – while I may be older than a lot of people watching makeup videos, and am learning tips, and tricks that many a 14 yr old will do without thinking – do not for a moment think you are too old. I see so many comments on various makeup themed groups asking if people are too old for a certain look (always discouraging when the person asking is younger!). What I love about makeup is that like any other art, it is constantly evolving and changing and we have access to so many tutorials now be it You Tube, Facebook, or any other number of social media platforms. We are no longer beholden to the makeup of our mothers, we are able to make choices, find new brands, new ways of using the makeup we already own, different looks, the possibilities are endless, and best of all – you can do it all in the comfort of your own home! 

Fighting Fit

So, last weekend I went to Combat Academy, I was invited along with my Lifestyle:MK co-host Audrey who had met the brains, and brawn behind the enterprise earlier that week on a T.V show. On a Sunday morning, in a unassuming part of Leighton Buzzard which on the drive there led me up the garden path quite literally. To find out more – please CLICK HERE

We finally realised that we had arrived when we spotted people standing around in camo fatigues – is that even the right word? Berets were also employed. It all looked very serious. And I am not a serious person (despite all the ranting blogs I throw around!) so I was genuinely worried that I would immediately find a clash of personalities. There were smiles and warm welcomes from everyone, we were then ushered into the porta-cabin that serves at the head quarters. It was open with plenty of room, and the people already in the room were again welcoming. Not long after we sat down, we had another group of girls join us – who were also invited, including the utterly inspiring Rozana McGrattan who has been through so much growing up on the streets in Sao Paulo – she has released a book titled Street Girl which you can pick up easily on Amazon by CLICKING HERE (although I am sure other booksellers carry it).

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It was a lovely environment, we all talked about ourselves, that is, everyone in the room, staff, senior members, and of course, those of us hoping for a spa day (thanks Aud) and it was a really relaxed atmosphere. We felt a little closer to each other, breaking the ice. Once that was over, we had a little training session discussing common mistakes, issues and how to avoid, and what to do in certain situations. This was laying down the theory behind both predictor and prey and putting things into context before the laying of hands.

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Now, given the choice, I would have stayed out of the physical part of the day. I didn’t think I would be fit enough, that I would catch on, I was worried about my shape (I am squishy). Would I be able to do any of these things, would my leggings stay up? (the last is a legitimate concern!) And of course I didn’t want to make a complete prat out of myself in front of strangers, and worse, professionals who no doubt would be judging me.

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It got worse, after warming up, being show some simple moves, instead of being split into small groups, we would be going out in front of the rest of the group? KILL ME NOW! But the atmosphere was wholly supportive, cheers and clapping. And while you are in the moment, you actually do forget everything. It was fun, the first part of the training was about distance and how to keep the distance between you and your aggressor. Which reminded me of the boxing training I did all that time ago.

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As the training progressed, it got progressively harder, punches coming, remembering to block, and block well. Looking for openings and grappling with people who were making it harder and harder. Oh and did I mention that we also had to drop and pin someone? I am sure I am not using the correct terminology. But for those seconds (felt like hours) I wasn’t worried about what I looked like, I wasn’t pulling at my t shirt, shifting my weight, avoiding peoples stares. I was in the moment, I was doing my best, I was learning skills that I genuinely could use.

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During the time we were outside, there was a real sense of family, we cheered each other one, we congratulated each other. It felt like a group of friends, not people who to a degree had never met each other. We felt elated when we did well, we were not looking for our team mates to do badly, we were watching their techniques and cheering when they nailed it. At no point did it feel like we were being judged for anything other than how we implemented what we had learnt.

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Toward the end the session, we got to watch the instructors and regulars pitch against each other, it was interesting to see how simple techniques and ideas could be used in different ways. And inspiring, very inspiring! The day was finished off by a debrief where we all had a chance to chat and go over what we had learnt and how we felt about the day. Even though I initially had reservations about the boot camp, and given the choice, there are many, many things I would have chosen to do? I really, really enjoyed it! Four hours flew by, all preconceptions that I had when I first arrived were quickly, and thoroughly dispelled. There was no macho, regimented, army atmosphere.

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What you will find, and what I found, is a safe, supportive environment. You will learn a lot about yourself, about habits you have, what you may want to change. The thinking is based in fact, and practised. You come away with a lot to think about, and have the understanding of why, and not just how. And you feel like you made friends, and that everyone there wants to help, and support you, and for you to succeed. And you don’t get to go before a round of hugs. All barriers that may have been in place, any nerves, any apprehensions that you had when you first get out of your car…. all completely gone by that last hug.

And I am going back tomorrow for another round – wish me luck! 

Learning to be flexible

Life long learning

An ongoing, voluntary and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.
The concept of Lifelong learning was
 introduced in Denmark 1971 and which is, formal learning, informal learning and self directed learning.
A result of curiosity, good humour and self-motivation, leading to personal wellbeing.
learning
is intrinsic and we engage in learning from cradle to grave.
Does not necessarily link
 to attainment of formal qualifications.
Particularly those aged 45+, remain far below the target of 12.5%.
Implementation of adult learning remains weak and has not gained recognition it deserves.
It is essential to ensure that older people’s skills keep them active and meeting functional demands of life. Much more needs to be done and achieved in this area.

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I guess this isn’t the article you are looking for 🙂 This week on the show we looked at lifelong learning and it is something that I have always been surrounded by from a young age. But it is also something that links in with the other aspects of getting older. Maintaining flexibility – both mentally and physically. I remember my elder relatives commenting on limitations when getting older and many doing what we would now call braining – crosswords and puzzles.

With that in mind, I have always made sure that I keep a degree of flexibility in my body and mind, even though for various reasons I am not at the healthy weight I would like – a gym buddy exclaimed ‘you are really flexible’ mid training session a couple of weeks ago. I was pretty pleased with this as I don’t think I am exceptionally flexible but we all have our strengths.

Anne Martlage agreed to share her experiences on lifelong learning with us, and here is some what she wrote for us on the matter.

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As a young adult I travelled , perhaps more than was usual in those days. This exposed me to direct contact with different cultures and languages.

Working in the Embassy of India in Stockholm, made me learn Hindi by distant learning. In the meantime I had also obtained qualifications in the Swedish language.Alongside, I assisted a journalist to translate the news Headlines into English, which in turn he sold to the various embassies in Stockholm. These contacts and influences accounted for a steep learning curve.
I started a university course in Stockholm, never finished as once again I was on the move.

After several more adventures, I landed in the UK and was offered a job at an educational agency. First priority was to learn all I could on the British Educational system and write a short handbook on the subject for the embassies and parents who were looking for schools and further/higher education for their children in the UK. My learning curve went straight up during those years. I also went to classes for a proficiency cert in English.

Lifelong-Learning

When I started working at a College of FE as European project co-ordinator and manager, I was on a constant learning curve, courses in the evening (Spanish, Italian, French conversation). I was the first at the college to complete an NVQ in business at the workplace, when this was first introduced. My work also made it possible for me to study the educational systems in the various EU countries I worked with, their cultures, languages.

The young people on the programmes I organised, taught me even more, understanding, staying young in spirit, looking at the world and history around us more closely. I attended other courses relating to the Hospitality industry and had the privilege to visit and learn about the workings of many prestigious establishments.

Since I retired, which was far too early at 65, but..,.I have taken up book restoration, volunteering ( a really good way to meet people and make friends and get immersed in history) and various other crafts and trying to update my knowledge of languages on a regular basis.
It is very easy to just remain at home, read a book, watch a film and ignore the rest of the world, when you don’t have to get up at 06.00hrs and be alert all day long.

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I find it very important to get out, (some days I have to kick myself in to action) meet people ( I have membership at a gym, I try to go to 3 or 4 times a week), took up Nordic walking. The gym especially is a social hub and an incentive for many to leave their home. (Many of the day time regulars are middle to old age) It is important to find the motivation to undertake activities, meet people, especially when you reach a certain age.
I try to catch exhibitions in the local area, even after all these years in the area, I constantly find more to discover about the local history, geography, language etc I also try to visit at least one garden, historic house in easy reach of the town I live in, on a regular basis.

Travel has been part of my life so far, the best way to to keep mind and body active.