STV’s RBS Finding Scotland’s Real Heroes & Scottish island mum

On arrival it became clear very quickly that this was going to be a very special night. I am a big fan of ‘shiny moments’ as the little lights in our lives that make us smile.  I knew, instinctively, that this was going to be an evening of shiny moments thanks to STV’s RBS – Finding Scotland’s Real Heroes awards.  My first footsteps on a red carpet did, however, feel less than shiny as I skipped across it as fast as possible.  One couldn’t help thinking that that was no place for Scottish island mum.  With lovely smiling faces to meet and greet the shining had begun as I was led upstairs to a champagne reception.  A little group of fellow bloggers were already there ready to capture every moment in words to share with their readers.  I like bloggers as they are always interesting people.  Bloggers make the world their personal study and you can see that in their eyes.

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Researching for this assignment had really thrown up some delights. I was covering two categories – Community Champion and Environmental Project.  If it had been up to me I would have made them all winners and I very much suspected that would be the emerging theme for the evening.  I was right.

Sitting in the auditorium waiting for Carol Smillie to arrive a quick glance captured lots of shiny moments. The atmosphere was charged with expectation and when Carol walked out (in a particularly shiny dress) we were ready to go.  There was lots of clapping from the off and as the first category was Community Champion it was time to focus.  The three nominees had something in common as they were all incredibly determined souls.  Whether individually or as part of a team these community champions had clearly invented the word ‘giving.’  Each of them gave so much of themselves in making sure others had the support they needed and it was the start of a series of deeply moving stories.

First up was Margaret Gibb who responded to a community need almost 40 years ago and is still going strong today. Finding a positive place for children to spend time was uppermost in her ambitions as a housing estate grew up and young children tumbled out of the doors.  Margaret was on it and set up a play scheme where these children could come together and have lots of fun.  As with all good ideas this first scheme expanded into groups and holiday clubs and so a whole network of children’s provision was established.  The people of Bellshill have Margaret to thank for this and the applause must have told her that we were all very impressed.  I am not, however sure Margaret would care whether we were impressed or not.  She doesn’t do what she does to impress others.  She does it for the children and their families and that was a particular shiny moment that shone very brightly for me.

Next up was the very adorable Street Pastors of Bathgate. The ‘granny squad,’ as they are sometimes referred to, walk the streets late into the night offering support to anyone who needs it.  Not put off by drunken behaviour they are there for a chat, cup of tea or even a pair of flip flops to aid sore feet.  This was the moment when I thought ‘I couldn’t do that’ and you instantly understand why these people are special.

Last in the nominees was another lady who knows how to give – Jackie McIntosh. Jackie took over the running of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Therapy Centre four years ago and, in that time, has established it as a living life-line for all who use it.  Not fazed by her own diagnosis of MS she set about making the centre a place for support, therapy and, above all, laughter.  I was not surprised that Jackie was nominated as I had managed a quick chat with her before the ceremony got underway.  There are some people who are put on this planet to become drivers and Jackie is one of these people.  I don’t imagine Jackie accepts failure and I don’t expect there are any limits on what Jackie can achieve.  If she has to throw herself off a great height using a zipline to help raise the £140,000 a year (that is needed to run the centre) that is what she will do.

As the winner was announced the cheers and tears began as Margaret Gibb took her place on the stage. She was an incredibly worthy winner and I will be blogging about Margaret in much more detail in a subsequent post.  This woman is truly one in a million and her story will touch your hearts.

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Margaret in the middle of the shot.

My second category was Environment Project and this was very dear to my heart and I know many of you reading this. Treading lightly on the planet we all call home is a bit of a personal motto so I was delighted to be shedding my own light on these remarkable projects and the people behind them.

First up was the Killi Can Cycle project that trades tin can waste in for parts to refurbish bikes to then sell in the community for affordable prices. I loved this idea the minute I connected with it.  It is the type of project that all communities should have as it ticks so many boxes.  It recycles, reuses and upcycles while making a positive impact on both the environment and people’s health.  Quite a list of accolades and very worthy nominees.  Once again it is the people that make a project like this work and this group are not short of ideas, skills and wonderful community spirit.  You just want to bottle the entire project and pass it round so we can all have an enriching sip.

Second up were two gentlemen that I have quite decided to carry around in my heart forever and one of my favourite shiny moments of the entire evening. Bob Brown and Sandy Adams wanted to help Mother Nature reclaim some old industrial land and they wanted to build a woodland path that could be enjoyed by all.  Sounds simple doesn’t it?  I doubt very much whether it was and what I am absolutely sure about is that it took a huge amount of time and physical effort.  Slowly, but very surely, Saltburn Woodland Walk began to emerge and with every metre built more and more possibilities were being opened up for Mother Nature to reclaim.  The gents gave her a helping hand by asking the local community to bring plants to plant at edges of the footpath and they did just that.  I am not sure personal legacy gets much better than that and I felt blessed to have met them and chatted with them about their project.

 

Next was a community environmental scheme to reclaim from landfill sites and make a place where people could bring unwanted but perfectly useful things. From kitchen sinks, to wooden pallets and flooring just about anything that is useful to others has been saved.  With an army of volunteers this Yooze Recycling and Reuse project has grown from strength to strength.  It fills a need and it helps to reduce landfill so it is right up there in the best ideas category.

 

When the winner was announced I shed the first tear of the night. The two gents won and I will take enormous pleasure from blogging about them in much more detail in a future post.

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After a while the evening became a blur of shiny moments but each one seemed to understand its place in the scheme of things. Heroes is a difficult word but one that we all use and recognise.  There was no doubt that everyone that stepped on that stage was a hero and I felt incredibly privileged to be part of their shiny moment.  They all understood the importance of thinking beyond their own needs and that bound them together and set them apart both at the same time.  In a world that is increasingly complex and impersonal these people had found a way to simplify and personalise and they are all champions at their craft.

 

Ultimately the ceremony recognised one winner above them all as the RBS Hero of the Year. Unsurprisingly this was awarded to Margaret Gibb in recognition of her decades in the service of others.  With her now established cheeky charm she took to the stage once more as applause lingered and lingered.  More on that part of the story to follow.

 

Celebrities are used to shiny moments but I loved the way they stepped aside recognising that the person standing next to them was outshining them. It was a great community evening and Scottish island mum was truly blessed to be invited.  There is nothing better than a good story and these good stories starred some very good people.  Trust me, in the detail that is to come we all have much to gain as we come together to delve under the surface of what it really means to be a hero.

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scottish island mum

It is in these changing times….

It has been a very busy couple of weeks for Scottish island mum and a growing sense of change.  Everything changes all the time but sometimes we need to make the changes happen.   I am 50 in a few weeks and perhaps this is the catalyst for the changes I need to make.  My children are all almost grown up and the dynamics of the family is shifting and this is exciting.  Suddenly I seem to be surrounded by a bunch of adults that are all taller than me.  As the family changes so do our relationships and it is a truly magical time.  My heart seems constantly full of pride as I watch all four of them forging ahead with ever-increasingly independent lives.  My role has shifted from a hands on parent to a new role of friend and, sometimes, mentor.  I like this change as it is just how it should be.

graduation 040My working life is changing as well as Scottish island mum continues to spread her wings and take flight in new and exciting directions.  As October trundles forward readers will be introduced to some of these new directions and I hope these will be engaging.  I am writing more and more of my time and my growing portfolio of e-courses is a source of great delight.  I have the privilege of working with a diverse range of people through the online courses and my thinking continues to develop as a result of these interactions.  Feedback from the courses has been consistently excellent and I am very humbled by that.

As I settle to begin writing my new year e-course ‘The Year Ahead’ I fall back on planning methodologies that I have trained in in recent years.  These methodologies are challenging but they have taught me how to focus on where my essence needs to take me rather than be distracted by other people’s agendas.    This new e-course is about sharing this practice for people who want to approach their year differently and return to a place of contented being.  In the past few weeks I fear I have drifted some distance from my essence as I have allowed myself to get rather caught up in issues that are not in tune with the way I think.  This happens to all of us from time to time and makes us feel unsettled.

PicMonkey CollageI was off-island last week and although it didn’t become the week I had planned it did offer me the chance to reflect from a distance.  If I am brutally honest I was not overly impressed with what came into view.  Somehow I seem to have lost my way a bit and drifted far too far from my essence. Thus, the unsettled feelings have been growing.  It is absolutely time to put the breaks on and that is exactly what I have done as far as is possible.  In my trip away I met the most remarkable woman I have ever met in my entire life and she has altered the way I view some aspects of my life.  I will introduce you to her fully in the new year but for now I want to focus on where this shifting viewfinder is leading me.

At the core of my essence is my relationship with Mother Nature and I can clearly see how this has become depleted and unhappy.  Autumn is a gateway to the colder, darker winter and my absolute favourite season.  This year it is passing me by on the other side of the street and I feel removed from this most sacred of relationships.  My life is so full of other things that my essence has been rather eclipsed.  Sometimes my enthusiasm for projects takes over and I go marching off in an entirely new direction.  I am thinking that this process will be familiar to a lot of you reading this.

In putting the finishing touches to my e-course ‘An Alternative Christmas’ that launches on Wednesday I could clearly see where I had lost my way a little.  Thankfully, the writing of these courses have hauled me back somewhat and I shall be forever grateful.   The answer is a rather premature approach to the planning of 2015 which I normally take the month of January to complete.  But I have started that process now  as a way of reconnecting with my essence and restoring a more balanced sense of priorities.

I will always be a mother first second and last and that is how it should be.  More than that I am a home schooling mother and that comes with extra responsibilities.  Thankfully, I have always managed to maintain those responsibilities no matter what chaos breaks out around me.  But I am also a grower and somewhere along the line I have lost touch with that.  There is a fairly good reason in the bag though as my on going battle with fibromyalgia is making it more and more difficult to do all that I would like to do on the land.  There lies the most obvious of lessons that I have been missing.  I need to trim back my growing aspirations to make them more achievable and it is nothing more complicated than that.  And so you can see a plan being re-written slightly….

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It is not all bad news however as my ‘crafting’ bit of me has been well fed this year with the busiest year I have had for some time.  The sewing machine I purchased earlier in the year has been very well used and I now just keep my older vintage machines so that I can look at them for time to time.  A very dear friend also gifted me her old singer non-electric machine and that is in my garden studio and comes out to play very regularly.

I have never been much of a fan of the excuse that ‘I don’t have time.’  Time is an odd concept that we all grapple with but it is entirely possible to create time and this is the premise of my new year course.  Within this premise lies Mother Nature as she teaches us about changes in time that will affect our relationship with the planet we inhabit.  Older civilisations like the Celtics and the American Indian tribes had fascinating relationships with time but we have rather lost that.  Our time is dictated by a ticking clock that appears to speed up as we age.  That does not need to be the case and my studies over the past few years with two important wisdom thinkers has retrained my relationship with time.  I am calling this little drift away from my essence a small hiccup and it is no more than that.

My premature planning is thus allowing for a re-grounded approach to what will be the remainder of this year and then my 2015.  I always imagined that I would begin a deeply outrageous decade when I turned 50 and I intend to gather that up from the cutting floor and reinstate it with renewed vigour.  It seems the most obvious way to proceed.

Inevitably in my planning some things do land on the cutting floor and I fear there will be more things down there than there have been for some time.  While that is always a source of some regret I instinctively know it is for the best for me and my children.  Scottish island mum is not just a neat label it is a belief system and I now look forward to a shifting view of mum as my children move forward in life.  They will, of course, be highly embarrassed by the whole body tattoos, earrings to the floor and punk hairstyle but that will be their problem….

Speak soon,

scottish island mumxx

A Nation Begins to Heal

Last week was a tough week for Scottish island mum.  The lead up to the referendum for independence in Scotland has been a testing time.  Scottish island mum has been fire fighting increasingly aggressive communications for weeks and feeling a general sense of disappointment.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that will form a view that will take them to the ballot box.  I have lost count of how many times I have been asked how I was going to vote.  My answer remains the same;  that was between me and the ballot box.  It is not fear or cowardice that prevents me sharing my view.  It is about my own internal debates and my right for privacy.  I was disappointed with the behaviour of many and I am not afraid to say that.  The rising level of aggression suggested that people had separated themselves from a mutual respect for the views of others.  I will never sign up to that interpretation of democracy and I was glad when the process was over.

Regular readers will know that Scottish island mum was asked for her review of the white paper from the SNP that outlined their vision for an independent Scotland.  There was some good stuff in there but there was also some very worrying things that leapt out at me.  Firstly, I was expecting the underpinning to be one of aspiration but this was lacking in almost every section.  Sadly the authors had fallen into a negative trap and became pre-occupied with the English systems that they wanted to divorce themselves from.  With successful countries like Finland to learn from I couldn’t help feeling that they had missed a massive opportunity.  But there was enough good stuff to engage me with the campaign that developed from this paper.

I remained engaged throughout even when the beginnings of disappointment began to creep in.  Buddhism as taught me a huge amount about compassion and I drew on that in the final days.  There was always going to be disappointment and it was always going to hurt.  For many the result was shattering and they now begin a long process of healing.  I want the nation to heal though and I want it to recover its sense of dignity and pride.

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Yesterday I attended a whole day of skills workshops on the island.  Many islanders gave up their time to share their skills with others and there was a steady flow of people all day.  From floristry to bike maintenance and everything in between was shared and there was much chat, tea and laughter.  Scottish island mum shared her passion for flowers and sewing and took little opportunities to look round the room.  The gentle sense of healing was palpable and it made me smile both inside and out.

If I have one wish it is that we learn from the referendum and I am quite sure where the source of that learning is located.  I have the complete honour of working wit lots of young people.  The day before the vote I listened to a conversation by a groupf of young people – some of them were eligible to vote and some were too young.  It mattered not as they discussed the issues in a measured, reflective  and calm way.  They demonstrated enormous respect for each other and I was overwhelmed by a sense of pride.  Young people were a massive part of the voting process and what we have ignited in them should never die out.  I fear that as the media portrays a new titanic struggle between Scotland and England to secure what was promised by the UK government we will lose this opportunity to learn.  I have already written to Alex Salmond about this massive opportunity and if you agree a wee note from you would be most welcome.    You can contact him HERE.

So as a small nation begins its recovery I am always keen to hear from others on any of the topics touched on by this article.  I am particularly keen to learn from people who live in other nations and their experiences of working collaboratively and/or independently.  This is the last time that Scottish island mum will comment directly on the referendum process in the hope that moving forward is supported by great compassion and increasing belief.  Blessings to each and every one of you.

Speak soon,

Scottish island mum.  xx