Pressing Pause… As We Enter 2021

I’ve never believed that a New Year should mean New Year’s Resolutions, people making promises to themselves to start afresh, to make changes, etc. I’ve always believed that these things should be done throughout the year, as and when we feel the urge and recognise the need. I just so happen to recognise my need now…

The past year has been a whirlwind, nobody could have predicted that this year would in fact bring a world pandemic! 2020 has been an experience which we would have previously related to a book or a film, not that of our reality! It’s been a challenging year for everyone, and we have all had our own struggles in relation to Covid-19.

My primary role has been to raise my precious rainbow baby, Oliver, who turned One this year and his sister, my Sophie sunshine, now 6 years old.

With regards to the charity, we have made huge progress starting the construction of our Jolly Josh ‘Place to call home’, we have transformed the venue beyond recognition to create our inclusive, accessible centre. As a charity solely run by volunteers, I feel that we have worked exceptionally hard to achieve this and we are incredibly grateful for those who have supported our journey and cause! In addition, we have worked to provide our families with a Counselling Workshop to support anxiety and isolation, and we also created our treasured Lockdown Photography Project, capturing a wonderful gallery of our families shielding their loved ones in the grip of the nationwide lockdown, the reality of Covid-19, through the glass! Also, we collaborated with Rochdale Soup Kitchen who have been kindly providing our families with weekly food parcels, we are extremely grateful for their generosity.

We think of our families who have been shielding since the very start of the pandemic, most of whom still are, we cannot begin to imagine how very difficult this year has been for you, please know that we are here, you have a Jolly Josh family/community.

Our deepest thoughts, love and hearts go to our families who have since been bereaved, we know your pain, we send our continuous love and support.

This year, we have been isolated from normality, and like many people, I have ‘juggled many plates,’ I returned to work from ‘maternity leave’ in September as a teacher at the local Special School, teaching children with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities. However, I have recently felt the need to ‘press pause.’ I read a poem ‘Walking With Grief, and though I’m an atheist (of no religion) the repeated phrase struck me. It reads ‘Do not hurry as you walk with grief, it does not help the journey.’ Anyone that knows me can confirm that I’ve not just ‘hurried’ since Joshua passed away, I’ve actually behaved like a champion sprinter, perhaps they’d compare me to Usain Bolt! During the past three years since losing Joshua, I have ran, I have ran with all my might, to try to escape the grief that is child bereavement, and I can confirm, that the poem is accurate, it does not help the journey!

I opened Jolly Josh exactly one month after Joshua passed away and I also began volunteering at the special school 2 months after Joshua passed away, I have submerged myself fully into keeping busy, trying to distract myself from reality, I vividly remember, my counsellor (in the 1st year of bereavement) warning me that I ‘would hit a brick wall if I continued.’ She explained that I was ‘filling everyone’s cups’, giving 100% of myself to each of the roles that took onboard, and that actually I didn’t have that to give. She understood when I discussed the fact that I felt constantly exhausted, walking with grief is incredibly tiring but running from it becomes debilitating, trying to summon up the energy and efforts to function is a huge challenge, but to then add increasing roles and responsibilities has been exceptionally tough.

I am therefore incredibly proud of myself to have finally recognised this, I now know (finally) that I need to allocate some time towards self-care, ‘giving myself permission to press pause’. So, with this in mind, together, with my incredibly supportive husband, family and friends, I have made the decision to ‘press pause’ on my teaching career. This will no doubt come as a shock to many, it certainly came as a shock to me too, I feel that I was ‘born to teach’ and it’s all I know, my whole career has been in education, over the years I’ve been compared to ‘Miss Honey’ from the Roald Dahl book, Matilda, teaching is in my heart. I honestly leave behind I job that I absolutely adore, a class and team that have taught me more than they will ever know, colleagues who became lifelong friends and will always have my upmost respect as I have witnessed their love and care for our most vulnerable children, and a school that will always have a place dear to my heart!

I have no idea what the next chapter holds but for me it needs to be one which allows for a better work-life-balance, and I look forward to being able to begin my journey to find some inner peace, to being able to return to my counselling sessions which the past two years I have not had the time for, to seeking out and making time for activities which will support my mindfulness and more than anything, I look forward to being Mummy, for this is one job that many take for granted but I know how precious this role is!

Carole x

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