As the title suggests, I’ve been pretty busy this week and have been appreciating just how important conversation can be. I seem to be surviving on snippets at work and am actually looking forward to the chance to sit down with my boss on Monday and exchange more than two sentences without being interrupted by the phone or a query. There’s a limit to what can be got across via email. Wherever possible I’ve been trying to make time to talk to my new co-workers and have spoken to a few with some degree of length but there are others I’ve barely said more than good morning to.
Similarly, exchanges with the boyfriend have largely consisted of updating each other of our days and discussing what to eat. When we are together we’re mostly quiet. It’s a good kind of quiet, infused with affection certainly, but I look forward to the weekend when we’ve some family visiting and will be sitting at a table with good food and wine and actually talking about something other than the Tesco order.
It’s something you take for granted however and so I want to raise a bit of awareness about aphasia. Aphasia is a communication disability which usually occurs after a stroke. I wasn’t familiar with the term myself until the tail end of last year when I spotted an advert on Gumtree asking for conversation partners. As someone who loves to talk as much as she loves to write, this immediately attracted me. I’ve had my training with NHS Speech and Language Therapists, had my CRB check and this week met with my conversation partner.
All I have to do is find an hour in my week to have a chat with someone. The important thing is that I’m not a Speech and Language Therapist or a doctor and so there is no monitoring or tracking “improvement.” There is no objective to the conversation beyond conversation as something good in itself. While obviously, having a stroke brings a host of challenges to the individual, it is also difficult at times for family and friends but again, there’s none of that for me. To us volunteers, the person we visit is the only them we’ve known. There’s a fresh slate and lots to talk about.
Strokes are something that make me quite angry. They seem to strike without warning and seem like a theft against a person. Being a bit of a stroppy tart I like to fight back against the things I feel are unjust (I’ll confess this often extends to little more than a daddy longlegs killing spree as I accuse them of trespass!) so this is my way of trying to help things. I’m feeling really enthusiastic about my volunteering and my conversation partner seems lovely and has a really cute dog (shallow, me?).
I’m not going to try and convert you all but I’d like you to take a moment and just appreciate what you have because that is the key to happiness.
Oh yes, brace yourself, I’m entering guru mode now people!
Being happy has a formula. I am genuinely a very happy person because I have discovered what it is that must be done in order to be happy. I’m no Pollyanna and can get as grumpy as the next person but my base level is sparkly.
1) Experience gratitude
The more you appreciate the things you have, the happier you’ll be. Keep a note of the little things. For example, each evening we have the boyfriends’ kids I go through a little routine with his youngest. The kid stands at the top of the stairs shouting “Kay story, Kay story.” I go to the bottom of the stairs and then crawl up them quickly while growling. When I reach the top he throws himself into my arms and shouts “Raaaaar.” Tonight I was in the middle of designing a formula for calculating the ROI of social media but I left it nonetheless because I am so lucky to have that moment so many times a month.
2) Live in the present
I sometimes look back with a degree of regret and of course I daydream about a future the boyfriend and I might have (particularly regarding holidays) but generally I try to live in the now. As I wrote that sentence, the boyfriend brought a bowl of potato wedges and a glass of red wine to the table < nom nom nom > I just ate a lovely meal that the lovely boyfriend cooked. I bought a gorgeous loaf of bread from Over Farm Market (along with £30 of other stuff we didn’t need) that he fashioned into burger buns. I have money to buy ridiculously expensive loaves of bread (it was £3.29!!!), a great bloke to share them with and a roof over my head and a table to eat at. Sure I’d like a bigger house one day but I’m not pining for it. I’m enjoying my life, doing a job I like while I work towards my bigger goals.
3) Have meaningful relationships
This one I struggle with a teeny bit. Not because my relationship with the boyfriend isn’t meaningful because by god he is absolutely the one if there is such a thing. Hmm maybe I take that back – he just came into the room to tell me that the dishwasher worked first time for him. Nah, I don’t take it back – he put the dishwasher on. No, my gripe is that it’s a touch self-satisfied, as though it was written by a smug married. It’s still true though so put effort into your friendships and if you are single, consider a fuck buddy over a one night stand. Wow, that is epic on the guru scale... screw around my children but make sure you like them enough to give them a piece of toast in the morning!