Long term dreams and long lasting encouragement

For my last post of 2016 I talk about what it’s like to realise that ambitions don’t have to be a short term plan. 

The year is almost about to tip into 2017 and on this ordinary December afternoon I’m sat in my home office, working on some educational stuff for next year. I’m not doing anything particularly exciting, just reviewing documents, some web planning, social media and editing work. One of the documents I’ve just opened though is one of the very first things I ever put together for this project – in the header, the text reads ‘2014’. Suddenly the afternoon doesn’t seem so ordinary, it feels like I’m actually achieving something.

For as long as I can remember I was suited to self-employment. I think I’ve spent my whole adult life accidentally or otherwise coming up with ideas to make money and plot out a career on my own. Hundreds of ideas must have come and gone, and I knew this particular one had been around a while. But I’m now about to enter its third year since those first plans, and I can finally feel confident that it is no longer an idea. This genuine business is registered with HMRC and about to begin its pilot scheme with real clients. It’s been slow, but it’s finally getting there.

Me and Elly on a school trip, just using the sick bowls as cowboy hats like you're supposed to...
Me and Elly on a school trip, just using the sick bowls as cowboy hats like you’re supposed to…

I don’t often write about personal events or feelings when it comes to work, I like to be as businesslike as possible, but there’s no harm in revealing where an idea came from, or who was involved. With this project, it all stemmed from sitting at work one afternoon with my then-colleague, Elly. We were both instructors in delivering alternative curriculums to secondary school kids with special needs and feeling a bit run down, overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, and generally fed up with the way things were. We talked about how we’d do things if we had our own way, how things would work better if we were able to implement our own work schemes, etc, until this eventually got round to talking about the future. We talked about how family fit into working life and our plans to have children. I remember asking Elly if she thought I could set up my own curriculum for schools. She said something along the lines of ‘course you bloody could’, before loading me up with books to read to help develop my ideas (and giving me a packet of crisps, I think she knew I always visited her classroom for the snacks she kept). So I did. I took my lesson plans and turned them into outlines for a creative curriculum for children with special needs, and in a couple of weeks I’m going to be delivering it to my first school.

Not long after I left that teaching job, Elly was diagnosed with motor-neurone disease. It took hold quickly and she died last autumn. I don’t say this because she died, I say it because it’s 100% true: Elly was fucking amazing. She was just an incredible, hilarious and extremely generous and supportive person. I really struggled at times and she was there for every shitty day and made everyone laugh constantly, and now I’m spending my working life making a project happen which she told me I could do.

I rarely make good friends at places I work, that’s another reason I love being self-employed, I’m just not really a sociable office butterfly, but Elly was someone who would have been a longterm friend. She was and still is one of my primary motivations for getting this project going, and I really hope within the next couple of years it grows to a point that could support my full time working week. If it does, I’d love to make a chunk of the profits go towards medical research for motor-neurone disease, so hopefully others in the future don’t have to go through what her family have in losing her.

You’ll be able to read more about the project in the new year when www.stitcheducation.co.uk goes live. I’ll be posting regular updates through the year on its success (hopefully!).

I hope you all have an amazing new year. Go and make 2017 awesome.



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