2018’s Bucketlist: Ambitions, hopes and dreams.

What can I say, other than the last twenty-two years of my life have gone in a blink of an eye; and the end of my flirty thirties is almost upon me.  Last year, I read a newspaper article about a former IT worker in London, who had given up a very successful career, and became a professional dog walker, and made an extremely comfortable living from it.  I had tinkered with the same idea, along with dog grooming, and running my own business in time, from home.  I looked into various training courses at my local college, and training courses at established grooming salons within the local vicinity, and thought, yes, dog grooming for sure is a possibility and a definite career move for me.  Dog walking, was something I hadn’t done for some time, until I started walking my next-door neighbour’s dog around our local park.  And from there I built up a brilliant bond with the pooch, pet-minding for my neighbour, checking in on him whilst she was out working.  And the unconditional love and trust that this little four-legged friend has given me, well it’s incredibly beyond belief.

At the beginning of this year, I was still struggling with the rollercoaster of emotions that the sudden breakup of my relationship in 2016 had left me with.  However, after discovering, or should I say being informed by a friend as to the real reasons that my relationship broke up, I was determined to work through my trust issues.  Whilst this may sound strange, as I am in a fulfilling and caring new relationship, I knew that if I didn’t sort this stuff out, then it would plague my new relationship with ongoing problems.  So, after a topsy-turvy weekend in January, where I felt at breaking point, I went straight to the fantastic ladies at The Chrysalis Centre for Change, and attended their Positive Me course, for eight weeks.  The course helped me to reflect and reason as to why I was feeling as such, and it gave me a safe space to talk about my thoughts.  And looking back now, if I hadn’t done this course, I can’t imagine being where I am now.  It’s helped me put things into perspective, and see things much more clearly, as well as giving me confidence when needed the most.  I bought myself a fantastic journal; which allows you to track your moods on a daily basis; a section to plan future goals and how you’re going to get there; you can also jot down the number of hours you sleep and the quality of sleep you’ve had; a section on mindfulness – focusing on being in the present and noticing three things daily; and finally, healthy lifestyle pages – noting down what you’ve eaten during the day/week.

The eternal student that I am was also looking for a new educational challenge too.  Having registered with Starting Point the previous September and seeing a careers advisor, I was able to book myself onto a Digital Marketing Course for Beginners, at St Helens Chamber, which started in January.  This was a three-day workshop which dealt with all aspects of using social media for business.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and got to meet a variety of like-minded people.  After attending a jobs fair, I then registered with the Chamber for the Level 1 Award in Understanding Enterprise, accredited by SFEDI Awards.  This comprised four core workshops: Understand the Skills and Knowledge Required to Run a Business; Understand the Importance of Business Planning; Understand How to Manage Money in a Business; Understand How to Market Your Business.  I’ve also attended two additional workshops, Business Start-Up IT, and Health and Safety.  I have one more workshop to complete this course, which is Marketing for Success – basically, Advanced Digital Marketing.  Thankfully, I was awarded my certificate for this course in April.  I am, yet, however, to fill in my own business plan, and arrange another meeting with my business mentor at the Chamber.  For anyone thinking of starting their own enterprise or going self-employed, I can’t recommend these workshops enough.

In February, I had updated my CV, and sorted out my LinkedIn Profile, I am yet to start connecting with more people who I know or have worked with in the past.  From there, I started applying for jobs in business administration, or customer services, and set myself a goal that I would have a job by April at least.  I was lucky to land an interview with a recruitment company for a position at their head office, however, after attending the group interview, I wasn’t successful.  This led me to reassess what I actually wanted to do in the here and now.  My group leader at Slimming World, and a professionally qualified dog groomer, recommended the college where she trained, MCDT Dog Grooming, Fazakerly, Liverpool, and then sent me the link to their social media page.  And having made initial enquiries with them as well as visiting the college, I enrolled on the City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants in May.  So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed the course, it’s most definitely a rewarding challenge, and therapeutic at the same time.  It hasn’t been without teething problems, as I am a complete newbie to the industry, and there is an abundance to learn, both theoretically and practically.  It has meant staying with my Mum over a three-month period, and will no doubt continue until I am fully qualified (and yes, I do intend to complete the City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma, after completing an accredited interim bridging course).   I am hoping to do Canine First Aid next week, and will be looking into a Basic Dog Handling/Training course at my local college.  And Sundays, well I have started walking dogs for a local rescue centre.

In March, I went along to St Helens Council for Voluntary Service, and became a volunteer for Willowbrook Hospice, in their Living Well shop, which I started in April, and is ongoing.  A tactical move to help rebuild my face-to-face customer service and retail skills.  Another role which I have taken on board, is as a publicity/newsletter editor for the Royal Airforce Association in Leigh.  Having watched the much celebrated centenary on BBC One on Tuesday at Buckingham Palace, I am so proud to have met briefly veterans at the branch meeting I attended in May, and I look forward to attending their meeting in July, and hopefully having a meeting with the Treasurer, Welfare Officer and Branch Secretary, as to how I can help them out.  This is to tie in with my BA Hons Arts & Humanities Creative Writing and Philosophy degree, which I am currently studying with the Open University.  I am patiently/impatiently waiting for my results for A105, Voices, Texts and Material Culture – and the 17th July can’t come quick enough.  The three-hour written exam seems like a lifetime ago, when it was only on the 11th June.  I have passed the continuous element of the module, and as long as I have hit the overall 40% benchmark pass for the exam, I will be a very happy bunny indeed.  Anything else above that, will be a bonus.  I am registered to study A215 this October, which will be my first Level 2 module – and yay, it is Creative Writing.  And fingers crossed, the powers that be, may grant me the same tutor that I have had over my last two modules.

On June 29th, I finished a ten week cognitive behaviour therapy course, specifically for folk like myself living with Bi-Polar Mood Affective Disorder.  It’s been a good opportunity to meet others, and again, have that chance to listen to and talk about individual experiences.

So here we are, the 13th July, and just under four weeks to go to starting the next decade of my life, I can say for sure, I may be tired, I may be cranky, and I may be altogether too pooped to properly celebrate – but you know what?  I’m blooming happy…

You don’t always get second chances in life.  Take the first one!