Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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Two in One

Posted by Oli on Saturday 11th October, 2008

It’s been an absolutely manic last couple of weeks, I literally haven’t had more than about an hour to myself in a single day since, well, actually, I honestly couldn’t tell you without looking back through my diary.

Suffice to say it’s been extremely hectic, but pretty good, too, I have to say.

Last weekend was spent with the Live Life Then Give Life gang, hashing out our plans for the next couple of years.  It’s a bizarre feeling to be mapping out plans that I actually believe I have a chance of being part of.  I’ve been so used to limiting my planning no further ahead than the next few weeks or couple of months, but now I find myself looking further and further into the future.  I have often helped people plan for things in the future – I’ve certainly helped Emma and Emily with it before, as I also did with K’s uni application – but I never really joined in with the expectation that I’d ever be a part of it.

Now things are looking brighter and brighter and my horizons are stretching further and further away.  It has just occurred to me that for the first time ever, I think, I’ve stopped worrying about whether or not I’m going to be around for things.  My cousin is just 6 weeks away from the birth of his first child and this time last year and for a good while before that, just the news of the pregnancy would have set me off wondering whether I’d ever get to see Baby P or not.  Sitting on the sofa tapping away now, I realise that the thought of not being around hadn’t even occurred to me up until now.  I guess this is what “normal” life is like!

Anyway, that’s the last couple of weeks.  Today was different again, being as I was engaged to speak at two different events in one day, both for the CF Trust.

First off, was back in an old haunt – the Mermaid Theatre (sorry, Conference and Events Centre) in Puddle Dock near Blackfriars, the very same Mermaid that supplied the venue for the enormously successful Laughter for Life event way back in February/March last year (for some reason I can never remember when it was without looking it up).

The event was a Parents and Carers conference that the Trust had laid on, this time for parents of teenagers following their enormously successful Under-12s conference previously.  I was engaged to speak, rather oddly for me, with my dad, which threw up all sorts of weirdness around having to “plan” what we were going to say.  Anyone who’s ever been to see me speak knows that generally, I just stand up and ramble for 10-15 minutes, but this time it was a joint presentation with Dad on teenage rebellion which was to last 30 minutes.  Nightmare.

Actually, it all went rather well.  The planing process was interesting in and of itself, sitting talking to Mum and Dad about how they dealt with the various ways I found to do myself a mischief back in the glory days of the 1990s.  I clearly put them through a great deal of angst through my teens, even though I don’t consider myself to have been a massively rebellious teenager (I’ve certainly come across many more people with CF who were far worse).

The speech went fantastically, though – we worked very well together as a team and managed to both entertain and inform the attendees, who seemed to spend most of the half-hour slot nodding in tacit agreement with everything Dad said about my various misdemeanors and rebellions.  Glad it helped.

Once that was over and we’d done a quick Q&A panel with the afternoon’s other speakers and spent some time chatting individually to some parents who came up to address specific points with us, it was then time to dith the grey one and for K and I to hop back in the car and head North up the M11 to Bishop Stortford, or there abouts.

One of the regional fundraising managers for the Trust had helped put on a ball for a couple with a teenage daughter with CF and had asked me to come and speak.  The very same Trust-lady who’d had me along to the Press Ball in Ipswich earlier in the summer, in fact.

The night was amazing – you’d have been hard pressed to find any hint of a credit crunch among the 150-strong crowd, who managed to raise by way of pledges and auction bids a total of £43,000.  Phenominal.

I was, to be honest, pretty diappointed with my speech.  The afternoon had taken so much planing I’d frankly neglected the evening’s event and didn’t allow myself sufficient time on the night to prepare myself properly and go over what I wanted to say and do.  That being said, I still received the usual praise from the people I spoke to, but I wasn’t pleased with myself for it.  Must do better next time, that’s how I’ve marked my report.

Still, it’s been a great day and I’ve enjoyed both events greatly.  The CF Trust has offered me so much advice and support for so long and through such tough times that it’s really important to me to continue to do whatever I can to help them and to offer, if I can, some crumbs of comfort or advice to people who may be struggling now.

Someone suggested this weekend that maybe I should think about getting myself on the after-dinner speaking circuit, which got me thinking.  If I was touring the country being paid for my time and talking to groups of business people for inspiration and the like, would I be as good at it as I am at the moment?  Is it the drive to inform and the will to get people to pledge ever-important donations for the work of the Trust or the transplant community that makes the speeches and talks what they are?  Would paid-for talks be able to engender the same passion and commitment?  I honestly don’t know.  Mind you, it can’t hurt to try…


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