Be a fisherman

I haven’t written for a while, so have been searching for inspiration to help me out. I have been reading a book called your story, which talks and goes through the pitfalls of writing and offers some great advice about writing your own story. One of the questions are “why are you writing it?” goood question eh?

I want to be able to demonstrate how navigating this one life we get can be hard and very challenging. This book is as much about my learning, about me and what I have learned throughout my 48 years. I fundamentally believe that if we’re all honest with ourselves deep down we all are searching and want to know what the meaning of our lives are. For some the meaning of life might consist of chasing and achieving dreams, for others it might be being a doing for others but for me, its more about being happy in my own skin, learning to accept and come to terms with the fact that life can be pretty shit at times, and be ok with it? We all carry some sort of varying invisible pain, possessed by invisible demons, you know the ones? the dark shadows that follow us on our journey that can keep us awake at night? the ones that only you can see or feel.

So my story consist of five parts. 

The first part is my childhood, early childhood then the journey to adolescence, it is a journey that we all have to go through in order to get to adulthood, no one can skip that part! I want to explore the challenges I faced, dealt with, using my immature that only a child possesses, how hi saw life through my childlike eyes and how my relationship with dad and how he influenced my perception of the world.

The second is the transition from being a teenager and my transformation into a young adult being a grown up, (whatever the fuck that means) what that looked and felt like for me, a child having a child, becoming a parent, being a partner and trying to make sense of the on going, tomenting diagloge that would torture my mind “Is this it? is this my lot?”

The third part is about what I would describe as being my personal rebirth, overcoming a crisis in my life that could have quite frankly taken me down a completely different path, journey that I am on now and about the learning that took place, how I found the new adult version of me. 

The fourth part is about Dad coming back into my life, about how our relationship had changed because I had changed. The personal struggles and challenges of being metnally and demotionally swept back to a time in my life when I felt confused and vulnerable, a time where I felt I owed dad everything, but owed him nothing struggling to find the new version of me whilst trying my best to stay afloat and care for him at his time of need, when he’d never been there in mine. 

The fifth part is basically summarising all the lessons learned, my observations on not just me own life, but life in general, the coping strategies that I adopted, which acted as a lifejacket in my time of great need, it about the many people who threw me the lifejacket when I was at the verge of drowning. 

But ultimately the key message and Moral of the story is that we can all make mistakes, but we often only realise that we have made a mistake after the event. The decisions we make in our life are often based on our environment and how we think and feel at that particular moment in time and our thoughts, feelings and ultimately this dictates our actions and reactions. 

Throughout life, we gather so many untrue and limiting beliefs about ourselves, I would describe life as being like the trawler fisherman who goes out to sea, in search for rich pickings the prized cod, he prepares his net, then tosses it out to see and waits patiently before reeling in his catch. Now a good, moral fisherman will then sieve through his catch, in search for the prized cod and toss the unwanted fish back into the ocean, Its time consuming but it’s important after all his other catch serves no purpose, it has no financial value, and it may well serve someone else but not him. I am just a mear fisherman in search of my prized cod, trawling through all the limiting beliefs about myself and throwing them back into the ocean, let someone else have them! they don’t serve a purpose for me.

Like a  fisherman’s can never guarantee to catch his prized cod and neither can we, like us, like life, he has had to learn to navigate, search for the places where the desired cod hides, hiding amongst the shawls of other fish, he has to follow and track them down, take a risk that the place where he lowers his ankor that will be the spot where the cod is. Never knowing if this is going to be the BIG one the BIG catch?

He goes out all weathers facing elements that are out of his control, wind, rain or relentless waves, taking a risk with his life and fellow fisherman, but that doesn’t stop him fishing, they all know the risk involved, but in order to survive back on shore, they need that catch to take home, to survive, feed not only themselves but their loved ones too.

Apparently, a Fisherman’s job is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but so is ours, we should never underestimate our own journeys, underestimate our own strengths, but we should always be in search for our own prized cod, well that is if we want too? I want to and want to be my own fisherman, dictating my own journey, throwing my net out wide never knowing what the results are, but also knowing that whatever the catch I can save or disregard the parts that don’t serve me and throw them back into the ocean.

Right, I am back on track, for now anyway! I have a free weekend, our old man is away, I have the house and keyboard all to myself and I will be spending it fishing and if I find any cod, I might share some with you….

Love Fordy x

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Dealing with change and learning to accept it

Change is always inevitable, like it or not shit is going to happen in life that can leave you feeling pissed off, down hearted and low.  This ultimately can influence and flip any positive thoughts, we may have into having negative and defeatist thoughts in a nano second

I have always questioned, I have always been inquisitive, but I mainly questioned stuff on the outside for example  “Why are some people twats? Why didn’t something go my way? Why didn’t I get the outcome I wanted? Why? Why? Why? Why? And all the what ifs?” Fuck me I come to realise that I have spent far to much time and energy of the last 48 years asking the same old fucking questions?  Rather than learning to accept that sometimes you may never get the answers you are desperate for?

We are complex being us humans, we are all each unique and our beliefs and values have all been shaped by our own personal experiences and life journeys. I see a lot of people who never challenge their own belief and values, and yet many of their beliefs and values are unfounded, old, stale, no longer serving a purpose but yet they still carry them around like an old friend. 

Our experiences from the past cannot ever be changed but how you see and view those experiences can. Making the time to self reflect, #Haveawordwitheesen, to recharge your own batteries, to explore, question or even challenges some of your own limiting assumptions and values in the longer term will help free you of the constant self doubt and help you come to terms with the fact that you will never get some all of your questions answered. 

Whilst having a relationships with loved ones is important learning to have a relationship with yourself is more important. Relationships with others come and go, but you will always be present, you don’t go away apart from the times when you might get off your nut, pissed to forget who you are, but the reality is that as soon as you sober up, your there again, present, with the same uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and emotions. 

There are those who are afraid to check themselves out or unwilling to question themselves, the ones who will never accept that they might be wrong, but this doesn’t mean they are right? And it doesn’t mean you have to be one of those people neither! 

Learning to accept and understand that I have my own faults, I will never be perfect, that I cannot control everything, that I may not always get the outcome I desire helps frees me from all those limiting assumptions that in the past has left me feeling low, depressed, down hearted when the reality is #shithappens but whats more important is to recognise how you deal with ya shit! 

We all have choices in life you can allow shit situations, circumstance shape you as a person OR you can accept #shit things happen and learn to live with it?

The End

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Just be fucking nice

I have been busy delivering briefing sessions to front line staff including Housing, DWP, University security teams who in their day to day work come into contact with people on the street, begging, rough sleeping, intoxicated or causing anti-social behavior. The aim of the briefings is to not just raise awareness about what support provision is available in Sheffield, I have focused it more about trying to educate, help people understand WHY someone who they have come across may not be engaging in services, why someone might be refusing the help offered, why someone might be uncooperative or even aggressive! Here are some of the questions that have frequently that have come up during the sessions…

“Why would someone continue to take drugs even though you can see it is clearly killing them slowly?”

“I have offered, arranged support even taken them to support, but yet there is no change?”

“Why someone would sleep out on the streets, risking hypothermia and still refuse help?”

“They won’t do anything to help themselves”

“I have done all this! tried that! to help support someone, but none of it works – why?”

 The other Friday morning I had agreed to go visit a Broomhall breakfast club that operates just on the outskirts of the city center, the club has been operating for the past 18+ years, my plan was to go there for 8 am stay for a while then go deliver a briefing session to University of Sheffield security staff, just up the road at 9.30am.

Walking down the street, looking for the church, I saw a guy who assumed was going to the same place, my assumptions were founded by the fact he looked street homeless, he was carrying a black sack and a Sainsbury’s carrier bag for life, and looked like he hadn’t washed or shaved for weeks. I asked him if he was going to the same breakfast club and offered to help carry one of his bags for him, turns out he was going to the same place,  he declined my offer to carry one of his bags, but he did recognize me which took me back a little. Because as I looked more closely I realized that I knew him too, only he looked a lot different to how he did the last time I’d seen him. (to protect his privacy I am using a different name)

You see the last time I had seen Tom, had been at one of the Recovery Support groups that from one of the larger homeless support projects in the city center, he had been a regular attendee to the groups, he was rather a shy guy but was always polite and when he shared his story he would always capture my attention, he was very articulate, calm, a self-deprecating person who was well aware of his own weaknesses and shortcomings and wasn’t afraid to point them out. He had his own place, was stable on a script and was generally finding his own way on his recovery journey.

As we walked together towards the breakfast club, Tom told me how he was currently sleeping rough, up by the university, the very same one I would be delivering training too later that morning. As we reached the doors to the project and Tom, bid me fair well and went to order his breakfast before finding a table, notibly a table where no one else was sitting, I sensed he wanted to be alone and didn’t much feel like talking, so I went to meet the manager and the other staff to find out more about the project, whilst all the time observing Tom from my position the serving hatch. I was intent on going over to sit with him, once I had been told the ropes, but just as I was about to walk over, one of the other volunteers, a lady had beaten me to it, so I bided my time. Half an hour later I saw Tom, start to gather his belongings to leave, as he headed for the door to leave, I made my excuses from my conversation and followed Tom outside.

Tom seemed embarrassed, ashamed and slightly reluctant to chat, knowing he was back on the streets sleeping rough, I asked if he wanted me to call Framework? but he politely declined my offer, I asked if he was still getting his script to which he replied no, he said he hated having to go the Fitzwilliam Centre,  being around other people, hence why he’d stopped going to the Archer project and was keeping a low profile. My gut wanted to jump into rescue mode, get on the phone call the rough sleeper service, get on the phone to Fitz, get him an appointment sorted, but my instinct told me that he wasn’t ready for that. As the conversation flowed, so did the tears he shared how he felt he didn’t have another attempt of recovery in him, he was fed up with his lot and just wanted out! and truth be told, my gut instinct was right, he was defeated, he felt he was a failure, it was literally heartbreaking.

One not to give up, I remembered Addaction’s new breakfast club that was running, it wasn’t Archer project, it wasn’t Fitz, there would be no pressure or expectations laid upon him, he could just go there and socialize, eat and relax and get some respite from the streets and it ran 5 days a week. Tom was aware of the project as he had previously been required to attend as part of a court order. I told him about an amazing worker down there, who I thought he would get along with, some who I think he would have really connected with, someone who was great at working at the client’s pace, who himself has been where Tom was now and had the scars from years of digging into his veins to prove it. He said he would consider going and I wrote down the workers name for him and encouraged him to make contact when he was ready!

Tom was restless, you could tell he was ready to leave, I gave him a big hug and wished him well, as he turned the corner I got onto the phone to the worker I had mentioned and explained Tom’s circumstances to him, totally unfazed the worker was more than happy to see Tom and agreed that he would inform the reception staff that should Tom access the service or ask to speak to him, to inform him straight away. The only thing I can do now is hope that Tom makes that first move.  It was heartbreaking to see Tom, a shell of his former self, defeated almost.

There is a little model/framework, called stages of change or Cycle of change that I use when presenting or delivering briefings about what treatment and support are available in Sheffield (see diagram below) I strongly believe it is as important to try and get workers/staff to understand that by simply knowing where to refer or send someone into treatment and support, isn’t enough. My belief is that if staff understand where and why someone may be acting irrationally or “not normal” (whatever the fuck “Normal” means,) that they can try and be understanding and less judgmental and that if someone refuses help, not to take it personally, its just could be that they might not be ready, or more likely scared to take those steps to change.

The last time I saw Tom, he was clearly in Action mode, making attempts to take his addiction, seeking support, was in receipt of a script he was attending groups, he had a flat. Today when I saw Tom, he had slipped back into contemplation mode, he knew he had a problem, he knew what he needed to do, he knew where he could go for help, he knew it all, BUT he didn’t have the psychological or emotional capacity to consider the work required to move him back to where he was the last time I saw him.

Later on, that morning in the training I used Tom as the case study, it transpires that the security staff knew of Tom already, the regarded him as being a nice polite guy, who actually didn’t cause them any issues, but after the briefings, at least they had the knowledge to know where they could signpost him to support, should he be receptive to the offer of support.

In today’s society, addiction, mental health is more prevalent more visible, it’s not like breaking a leg, where you can go to a GP, get an x-ray, get a cast, rest up for a while until its fixed and carry on with life… It’s no wonder some front line services, workers who work in a system struggling to understand why they can get frustrated and deflated if they identify a problem, offer a solution but don’t get the desired outcome.

The point I am trying to make is you don’t have to be an expert in addiction, nor a therapist to recognize that us humans are complex and unique you may never get to know or understand someone’s journey, where it started, where they have been, how long they have been traveling, where or what their final destination will look like, BUT you CAN be nice or kind, after all, you may never know if your kindness that day might just be the one thing that influenced that persons change in direction.

I do not yet know if Tom has taken the advice, or gone to the service, but what I do know is that I treated Tom with dignity and respect, I didn’t push, nor judge, I just listened, I was there for him for those few minutes, being there for him. One thing that i have learned about myself and others is that if someone isn’t ready for change, regardless of the reasons, you cannot force people to change, that change has to come from within. So even if you cannot help someone, you can always help or make someone’s day, or journey by just being fucking nice!

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