Monday, 29 June 2015

If I love my job so much, why would I choose to leave it?

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.
- Nelson Mandela
I am not totally sure when I thought the idea of giving up my career and the security I had built for my family over the last twenty five years was a good one, what I do know is that this idea is now about to become a reality.
You don’t need to be employed by Cloudera to know just what a great organisation it is, evidence can be seen from the high calibre staff it employs and retains. The high profile customer successes it announces in the press. The reputation among the analyst and press community and so the list goes on.
As a marketing professional living in Europe, you may be forgiven for thinking I may have slightly lost the plot if I share openly that as the senior director of marketing in EMEA for Cloudera, which is quite possibly one of the hottest marketing jobs in IT right now, I have made the surprising decision to move on. You may ask, why?
If you love something, set it free if it comes back it’s yours if it doesn’t it never was.
- Richard Bach
Three years ago I received a letter from the Bishop of Winchester that was to change my life forever, I had been recommended for training to be Ordained Priest in the Church of England. Since September 2013 I have been undertaking studies part-time at Ripon College, Oxford. This has been a mix of Tuesday evenings (when not travelling on business), six or so residential weekends a year and a week residential each summer; in addition I have undertaken a residential placement with the Royal Air Force and about to do a parochial placement at Winchester Cathedral. I have also spent time in hospices, hospitals and nursing homes. It’s a far cry from the five star hotels and beautiful cities I come to visit as part of my day job. I am now entering my third and final year of studies and found myself becoming more concerned that I would not be able to give all of myself to either my studies, the associated formation in readiness for ordained ministry and my job. It was a difficult decision, but I needed to release one of them.
In a world where religion for so many people is either at one extreme completely irrelevant or at another so full of hate, distrust and competition to see who is most right, my decision can to some seem a rather surprising one.
If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you.
If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.
Back in 2008, whilst working as senior director of marketing and alliances for Riverbed Technology I embarked on an Open University degree. In this I explored Social Science aspects of the British society and its multi ethnicity, it is a richness in diversity that I am proud to be a part of. My studies then took me on to take a closer academic look at Sikhism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Christianity. It gave me an opportunity to get a slightly better understanding of some of the underlying cultures I came to spend time with on business travels across Europe, Middle East, Africa and the US. What I also came to understand was not so much the differences we have but the similarities we share. I have friends in all of those faiths mentioned above and many friends of no faith at all; we all share so much more in our values than where we may differ. At times we all struggle, we all love, are loved, we all get some things right and other things wrong, but we are all always learning. As I embarked on these studies I came to realise just how little we may ever come to fully understand, such was the depth and breadth of each and every faith. But what it did leave me with was an ever-growing desire to learn more and fully engage with my own faith.

I have read of many people who have embarked on journeys of discovery, some I’ve met while others I’ve read about, for some it’s climbing Everest or to sail around the world, for others it’s to write a book, a spiritual journey or follow a dream, perhaps performing arts such as composing, to become a professional musician or even to act on the stage or on TV. But whatever the journey, they all share one thing in common, the willingness to let go of what has become normal in their daily lives and take risks by going into the unknown. When I started on my journey, I never believed it would one day lead me to make a decision to resign from a very successful company in a secure job.
Whoever sits in solitude and is quiet has escaped from three wars;
those of hearing, speaking and seeing.
Then there is only one war left in which to fight,
And that is the battle for your own heart.
- The book of mystical chapters
As I come to my third and final year of studies and formation before being ordained, it is time and space I need to help me theologically reflect not just a better system of time management. And for me it wasn’t a case of simply getting various tasks completed, but needing to allow myself to be immersed in the experience of my faith a little deeper, this is mostly found in the silence of solitude.
As I embark on this next chapter in my life, I am not sure if I will leave IT for good, in fact I am hoping to find some kind soul that may be interested in employing me for some part-time consultancy work over the next year, perhaps 2-3 days a week, to keep food on the table, books on the shelves and the lights on. It may be that in a year or two I return full-time to my career in IT related marketing or maybe not, who knows? But for now I am looking to give more of myself to formation as I prepare myself for ordained ministry.
Some reading this maybe wondering, how can I consider returning to full-time work if I am to be ordained? It would be a fair question and one I have been asked by many people. I am going for what is called non-stipendiary ministry that is un-paid and the commitment would be planned accordingly to fit in with any job.
So in short I am giving up a lot of what I have built up over the last 25 years by way of a fairly steady career in pursuit of a journey of discovery. I am not looking to make myself a better person than anyone else in this time of formation; I just hope to be a better person than I once was.
I will be sure to keep in touch with many of you and share progress of where it all leads. Watch this space! And of course I wish Cloudera and its entire staff every continued success and happiness and thank them for all their support and friendship during my time there.
Let your dreams be bigger than your fears, 
your actions louder than your words, 
and your faith stronger than your feelings.
 My journey into my Christian faith started after I attended an Alpha course, you can learn a bit more about Alpha here:

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Old Sailor

The Old Sailor
by A.A. Milne

There was once an old sailor my grandfather knew 
Who had so many things which he wanted to do 
That, whenever he thought it was time to begin, 
He couldn't because of the state he was in. 

He was shipwrecked, and lived on a island for weeks, 
And he wanted a hat, and he wanted some breeks; 
And he wanted some nets, or a line and some hooks 
For the turtles and things which you read of in books. 

And, thinking of this, he remembered a thing
Which he wanted (for water) and that was a spring;
And he thought that to talk to he'd look for, and keep
(If he found it) a goat, or some chickens and sheep.

Then, because of the weather, he wanted a hut
With a door (to come in by) which opened and shut
(With a jerk, which was useful if snakes were about),
And a very strong lock to keep savages out.

He began on the fish-hooks, and when he'd begun 
He decided he couldn't because of the sun. 
So he knew what he ought to begin with, and that 
Was to find, or to make, a large sun-stopping hat. 

He was making the hat with some leaves from a tree, 
When he thought, "I'm as hot as a body can be, 
And I've nothing to take for my terrible thirst; 
So I'll look for a spring, and I'll look for it first." 
Then he thought as he started, "Oh, dear and oh, dear!
I'll be lonely tomorrow with nobody here!"
So he made in his note-book a couple of notes:
"I must first find some chickens" and "No, I mean goats."

He had just seen a goat (which he knew by the shape)
When he thought, "But I must have boat for escape.
But a boat means a sail, which means needles and thread;
So I'd better sit down and make needles instead."

He began on a needle, but thought as he worked,
That, if this was an island where savages lurked,
Sitting safe in his hut he'd have nothing to fear,
Whereas now they might suddenly breathe in his ear!

So he thought of his hut ... and he thought of his boat, 
And his hat and his breeks, and his chickens and goat, 
And the hooks (for his food) and the spring (for his thirst) ... 
But he never could think which he ought to do first. 

And so in the end he did nothing at all, 
But basked on the shingle wrapped up in a shawl. 
And I think it was dreadful the way he behaved - 
He did nothing but bask until he was saved!

Monday, 14 April 2014

How to avoid the titanic mistake

My prayer life has changed over recent years, I'm careful not to use the word evolved as that denotes improved, but it has simply adapted to the changing circumstances, sometimes driven by recommendation and sometimes just a simple desire to understand more of the faith I am a part of.

To help with this I have used different methods, I started by randomly opening the bible at a passage, reading it then praying on it. Then I started a book written by John Stott, 'Through the Bible, Through the Year. I would make lists of things I wanted to ask for and at other times I would just randomly start talking to God as though he was in the room next to me. Today I use reflections for daily prayer, which provides a daily reading from Psalms along with a reading from both the Old Testament and The New Testament. It also provides some reflective text on either the OT or NT.

But in between all this I would regularly read my Bible In One Year (BIOY) prepared by Nicky Gumbel from Holy Trinity Brompton. It's free and after a simple registration you can either receive the daily e-mails or download the App (BIOY).

I don't now generally have time to read them, but today's was particularly interesting for me. I would like to respectfully share todays readings commentary, with full credit to Nicky Gumbel.


How to Avoid the Titanic Mistake

James Cameron, producer of the movie Titanic, says, ‘The Titanic is a metaphor of life. We are all on the Titanic.’
When the Titanic set sail in 1912 it was declared to be ‘unsinkable’ because it was constructed using a new technology. The ship’s hull was divided into sixteen watertight compartments. Up to four of these compartments could be damaged or even flooded, and still the ship would float.
Tragically, the Titanic sank on 15 April 1912 at 2.20am. 1,513 people lost their lives. At the time it was thought that five of its watertight compartments had been ruptured in a collision with an iceberg.
However, on 1 September 1985, when the wreck of the Titanic was found lying upright on the ocean floor, there was no sign of the long gash previously thought to have been ripped in the ship’s hull. Now scientists posit that the collision’s impact buckled or loosened the seams in the adjacent hull plate’s core, causing them to separate and allowing water to flood in – thus sinking the unsinkable ship. What they discovered was that damage to one compartment affected all the rest.
Many people make the Titanic mistake. They think they can divide their lives into different ‘compartments’ and that what they do in one will not affect the rest. However, as Rick Warren (from whom I have taken this illustration) says, ‘A life of integrity is one that is not divided into compartments.’
Jesus was described as a ‘man of integrity’ (Matthew 22:16; Mark 12:14). David led the people with ‘integrity of heart’ (Psalm 78:72). The writer of Chronicles says that God tests the ‘heart’ and is ‘pleased with integrity’ (1 Chronicles 29:17). 


It caused me to think further, as part of my journey as an Ordinand to Ordination I find myself compartmentalising my life, 

1. Family (the most important), 
2. Work (My sense of purpose)
3. Christianity including Church and College. 

For those who may question my order of priorities, no this isn't an accident, neither does Church and college equate to God, he is above all and in all. But that is a separate discussion which I will avoid for now.

It is often a struggle to keep the three worlds going without some form of feeling torn, for as soon as I get a rest from one the other is calling me, following me around all the time is a guilt of not spending enough time with each. It is a daily battle and one I am coming to terms with.

I offer no words of wisdom, nor an answer to this predicament but as I said at the start of these blogs, I wanted to share some of my journey to ordination and not just the good bits. The journey presents more questions than answers, maybe in a future blog I can share the path to wisdom and how I managed this particular challenge.

How you you manage your life? Do you find yourself keeping it all together in one place or do you often find your life divided into compartments?

I think the main aim of this piece from BIOY is where people are living without integrity from the obvious, for example adultery, I am of course not seeing the passage in this way, just the everyday different roles I play in life. But don'w we all revolve around various roles, mum, dad, son, daughter, sister, brother, director, manager, nurse, doctor, servant, master etc. 

Maybe I should be reading the book mentioned by Nicky, 'A life of integrity is one that is not divided into compartments', Rick Warren


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A little water under the bridge…

 Yes, it has been a while since my last blog, I see my fellow Ordinands are well ahead of me here, but I do have a few good reasons, or to put another way some relatively creative excuses. I started a new job, which has proven extremely demanding, I have been stretched up and down and left and right and in a few other directions that I didn’t even know existed through my college studies, nothing more than what they term formation, but it took me to some interesting spaces, I don’t mean the glorious buildings one may associated with church, I mean the emotional roller coaster of life. And of course, I need to ensure I have quality time with my family, for all our sakes.

It was tough.

I don’t mind admitting, I have found myself in some dark places since staring training, challenged in ways I hadn’t been fully prepared for and so it didn’t seem the right and proper thing to write down my thoughts before now, but now on reflection I think it is safe to say that I have perhaps become a little wiser from the experience, though you will not find me admitting to being wise.

Lectures have been running at what could possibly be calculated at approximately 100MPH and in a language that was pulling me out of my depths, could this be the Hebrew they speak of in the Old Testament, or perhaps the Greek of the New Testament, or maybe it was the contemporary language in Jesus’ time of Aramaic? I fear it was just English, but not as we know it Jim..!

I would never profess to be what one may call an expert in biblical academia, but whereas I thought I had a reasonable grasp in the Old and New Testaments, at times it felt like the whole bible was becoming the Apocrypha, that is a text I had not read nor heard before.

So you see, I was hearing things coming at me at an incredible speed, in a language I didn’t understand and texts that were as unexplored as a mission to Mars.

To put simply, I felt out of my depth.

And to top it all, the first assignment handed in came back with some shocking news that threw me off balance a little; I’d missed some pretty key elements. So what does one do in a situation like this? Panic, give up or take a step back and figure out a more productive next step, I am pleased to report I took the latter option.

I soon came to realise that although I had a fair grasp of some aspects of Biblical texts, there were far more dimensions than I had considered, most of it around the historicity of key events.

Then it all made sense.

But with some carefully planned reading of some easily digestible texts, mostly calling themselves something along the lines of ‘An Introduction to…’ suddenly all the foreign language and pace of lectures started to take shape. I can’t tell you what a relief that was.

And so I found myself not only understanding what was being said and at a pace I could digest, but actually enjoying the lectures, embracing what was being said and, not trying to sound too clever, even managing to critically evaluate what was being presented and discussed.

And although I am quite probably the least likely to ever set the academic world on fire with my revelation insights in to new ways of thinking, I was now getting grades worthy of a good pass, I started to understand more of just how much I didn’t know, but this wasn’t a problem to me as I am now beginning to build what I believe are the foundational building blocks of what will be a lifetimes learning. Some subjects and one or two lecturers have even inspired me to what I think may one day become a future areas of ministry.

However there is one area, as with life, that has pulled me through more than any other. I know you expect me to say, prayer, or God or some such, and of course, there is no doubt this played an important part, but however you look at it, whether answer to prayer or God working, it is my fellow Ordinands that have quite possibly been the biggest help. There is nothing like comradery or people who are going through a similar harrowing experience and I know many of my fellow Ordinands were experience pretty much the same as me, maybe subtly different areas of challenge, but challenge nonetheless. And it is this shared experience and share compassion and shared practical help and discussion that has kept me smiling, encouraged and getting my assignments in on time. Oh and I mustn’t forget the humor, there are one or two who should they ever decide ministry is not for them, I think the comedy circuit would welcome them with open arms.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Holy Hogwarts…

Ordinand induction is over and I survived…

Stunning views over the Oxford Countryside from Holy Hogwarts
Holy Hogwarts was the name affectionately given to Ripon College Cuddesdon during the course of our Ordinand induction period, though not as yet sure if this is a wider shared name for the College, it does somehow more than fit. What was slightly harder to figure at this stage is just who the characters will form in to in this new adventure…

Which leads me nicely on to one of the main topics of discussion during this induction weekend, that of formation.

Our very own ‘Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore’, or as he is more affectionately known The Reverend Canon Professor Martyn Percy, our principle (who bears no resemblance in character, name or stance of course to Dumbledore) took a little time to explain this formation process.

Who we follow plus our growth in our relationship with whom we follow is our discipleship, this otherwise known as our formation process. And in following Christ we form a Christ shaped pattern in how we form.

We were then reminded of Galatians 4:19

“My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…”

Now this took a little to get my small mind around, but the idea shared is that we do not change to form in to Christ, but Christ is formed in us..!

And if I am being absolutely honest, I am still getting my small mind around that thought.

What was easier to grasp was the idea that we need our nourishment from the scriptures, and to be attentive to the actions of God in the world.  Though interestingly it was highlighted how much harder this may be as a part-time student, which I am, to that of a full-time student.

What was incredibly reassuring, is that despite this being recognised as clearly an academic institute, though with a slightly different enrolment process, we were reminded several times that as humans we are natural people of love not study and this is something that is to be embraced as we follow our faith and journey to Ordination. There may be a fear, for some, of loosing our heart to head knowledge. There will be study time, there will be essays and there will be marks for work, but make no mistake Christ is at the centre of it all.

So it would appear that I can allay my fears that there is more to being a religious professional than tea and cucumber sandwiches.

More Tea Vicar..?

I am very excited about the people who I will be on this journey with, though we are not all taking the same route, some are part of the OMC (Oxford Ministry Course), that’s me, some are part of WEMTEC (West of England Ministerial Training Course) some are Mixed Mode and others are part of CMS (Church Mission Society). That was quite a mix when you consider there were just 22 of us! But it was yet more confirmation as to the reason I chose Ripon College Cuddesdon in the first place, diversity and breadth of learning.

Let formation commence… 

My Fellow ordinands.

Friday, 13 September 2013

First day of school…

Well not quite, but this weekend I am about to embark on a very special journey. A journey which, in a way, started before I was born, but with a few twists and turns the odd obstacle here and there has finally started to turn to reality.

So what is this journey?

In short I have been recommended by the Church of England for training to be ordained priest. The training will be part-time, Tuesday evenings with six residential weekends a year, plus a week in the summer. All taking place at Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford. during my training I will continue to work full time.

Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.
- 1 Corinthians 8:2-3 (NLT)

This weekend will be my first official weekend away, step one on my training path to ordination. Actually it’s just the induction weekend, so I’m not quite expecting to be conducting weddings, funerals or baptisms from Monday, but it is my first official time away from home spending time with people I do not know, sleeping in a strange bed and starting what at some level may only be three years of education, but a lifetime of formation and change.

I won’t hide though; the thought of this is a little (read a lot) scary.

It is a bit like the first day of school, from being surrounded by a familiar and comfortable environment to being hurled in to the unknown.

I married my beautiful wife Sharon nearly twenty years ago, she is always by my side, even when I’m being a right pain or coming up with some other hair brained scheme that might help satisfy my limited curious mind.

I have three amazing sons, of whom I am immensely proud.

Daniel is keen on sport and as I write is off to University next weekend for the first time.

Sam is a very talented musician playing guitar and piano and in his GCSE year at school.

Adam is interested in science, technology and animals and gifted with an awesome sense of humour finding it easy to make almost everyone he meets laugh.

I work in a well-paid job with frequent opportunities to travel. So you’d have thought I have it all and have no need to stress my life any more?

But my curious mind can’t help but get a sense there is something more out there and I want to try to understand a little of what that more is before my brief time in this life comes to an end. And more importantly, how I can serve in sharing a part of that natural human desire for hope.

Back in 2008, as mentioned in my last blog, I embarked on an Open University degree. For this I studied various subjects, but mostly around religion. I read about Judaism, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism. All from an academic aspect of understanding the underlying cultures that surround us today.

As a regular and active member of my local Church, some people were a little surprised that as a Christian why would I want to learn about other faiths? Well it is a fair question, and too deep to go in to in detail in this blog, but it did give me a lot of insight. Most notably that despite having achieved a degree for my studies, how little I could possibly ever understand of each of these faiths let alone how little I understood of my own faith. And just how difficult it is to be totally impartial, however hard we try to be. Our lives and surroundings have a natural way of shaping our thinking, the way we behave and the way we see and respond to thoughts or ideas.

There is a story behind every person, a reason why they are the way they are. Don't be quick to judge. Be kind and assume the best.
- Nicky Gumbel

Yes I pray, read the bible, lead sung worship and lead a home group. Have been privileged to preach and even lead services. I’ve even been a Church Warden; I’ve never been in charge of so many keys in my life!

So why I do I feel called to ordination? You may well ask.

It is a difficult and complex answer to a seemingly simple question, but let me try to outline a few thoughts.

What do I know of a parent who has lost a son or a daughter? What do I know about two people who are terminally ill where both are prayed for, yet one dies the other doesn’t? What do I know about loosing a parent at an early age? What do I know of loneliness, suicide, depression or despair? What do I know about being a single parent? Or living with so little money I can barely heat the home or feed my children? What do I know about being persecuted or even martyred for my faith?

Very little, actually almost nothing.

Yet God is bigger than all this. He’s bigger than our understanding could ever possibly be.

I also ponder the question if two faiths live side by side. Is one of them really wrong? Should we be intolerant towards our neighbour until they understand our point of view? Should we bow down every time someone tells us we’ve got it wrong and heed his or her example regardless of what we know? Or should we each strive towards opening our hearts and minds to understand more of the world around us, try to see it from someone else’s point of view whilst helping them to understand ours?

I must admit I have quite a few more questions, but I am not looking to just learn the answers to these questions and more. I don’t believe I’ll even be able to answer even a few of these questions, nor be able to give people the answers they think they seek.

But there is hope.

I have a faith and a belief that helps me understand this. I have also seen it help countless others. I feel called to ordination to help share this good news of hope, I feel called to broken humanity, not just Christian activity. Called not to be better than everyone else, just to try and be a better person than I was and not to look down nor judge others for their beliefs or unbelief, but be ready for those who need someone to turn to but are not sure who in times of crisis and not to forget times of joy and celebration.

What I do not know right now is what form or shape this will take, as there are many areas where ordained priests can find themselves, hospitals, universities, parishes, military, places of work, overseas in deprived areas and so on. But I am following what I believe I am being called to do and although inside I will admit to having some thoughts as to how my calling may take shape, I am trying to be as open minded as I can to where God is calling me.

You can’t have peace with people until you have peace with yourself.
- Joyce Meyer

Some aspects of this journey will be lonely, as there is no one out there like me, there is no one out there like anyone, we are all unique.

In another way, it will be a journey surrounded by many people, some on the course with me, some having done something similar before and some just watching on with morbid curiosity to see what happens next.

So I have decided to document my time during, through and even after training. I want to be quite open and honest, I am sure it’ll be a roller coaster of emotions, so I want to share what I feel as I go through this journey.

So on tight and get ready for the journey…

I look forward to all that God has in store. I thank all those who have prayed for me and continue to do so.

God bless

God is never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers, never absent in your pain. He sees. He hears. He is with you.
- Nicky Gumbel

Sunday, 29 April 2012

It’s not about us.

This April I completed two half marathons, attended my degree graduation ceremony and started a new job. It’s been quite a month, the culmination of many weeks, months and years of work. But I have come to realize more than ever how it’s not just about me. It could be an age thing, but I think that I have come to another milestone from knowledge to understanding.

Let me try to explain.

If you want to see a rainbow you have to learn to like the rain
-        Paulo Coelho, Aleph

 As I sit and write, it is Sunday 29th April 2012. I am sat in the conservatory trying not to pay too much attention to my aching bones and muscles after completing the Bracknell half marathon earlier today. It was brutal, the rain poured down, much of the route was flooded and a chilling wind blew, biting through to the bone. As I ran I began to warm, there were a few high spots where all runners were completely exposed and cooled very quickly, but as we dipped we warmed once again. At every corner we were greeted by marshals stood guiding and clapping all the runners, they may have been wearing better rainproof clothing than the runners, but they had to stand relatively still for three or more hours in the wet, cold and chilling windy weather. Teams of other volunteers happily distributed water and sponges at the various water stations. I didn’t count but I heard it announced a couple of times that in total 150+ volunteers were out on the course at various points, clapping, cheering the runners on and giving kind words of encouragement. It seems an obvious thing to say, but without them there would be no race to run, no achievement to be had and no money to be raised for charity. And it dawned on me, everything I had thought I was doing in the aid of charity was not me at all as without the hundreds of volunteers on the day, the organizers who plan and manage the race, the sponsors who so kindly and generously supported my chosen cause and of course the various people at my chosen charity from fundraisers to support staff, to carers to professional medical staff and so on, who make it possible for the monies raised to be put to good use.

I’m not saying it was nothing, that would be false modesty, it was flipping hard work and it hurts right now, but it was an enlightening run as I had time to think of how so many people are behind all that we want to achieve in life.

Don’t be intimidated by other people’s opinions. Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do.
-        Paulo Coelho, Aleph

I left school in 1984 with a handful of O - levels, I was fairly quiet at school, not very academically bright, not particularly good at any sport but I loved music, some things never change. I remember a meeting between the headmaster and my father, the headmaster explained that I was a nice lad, but probably wouldn’t do much after O-levels, as annoying and discouraging as it was, it sadly turned out to be true.

After leaving school my parents separated, instead of doing A-levels I took up business studies. But as a result of a slightly uncertain home life, University was the last thing on my mind, so I went out to work. After a few years my employer sponsored me through college and I ended up achieving my HNC in Electronics. And believe me that was tough, certainly for me, far too much advanced mathematics for my liking.

At the back of my mind through the years was this continual urge to complete a degree, never quite sure why. As the years went by I got busier and busier, my career didn’t suffer as a result of my alleged academic set back, but my inner desire to achieve my degree never really went away, nor did the words of my former headmaster.

So in 2008 I decided I would give a degree a go and enrolled on an ‘Openings Course’ with the Open University, it’s a 3 month introductory course a chance to see how you get along with study without over committing your time or your money. What I feared the most was simply not being bright enough to do it, but with the help of my tutor, it was more a case of getting my head down. And in 2012 I finally graduated with a BSc. I must add, due to previous study, including HNC Electronics and a Marketing qualification, I managed to get some study credit, so I wasn’t starting from scratch, but I can’t state how elated I was at its final completion.

I have however, come to realise, it was as much down to others as myself in achieving it. The sacrifice of my family, my wife and children, was as important as my determination to complete it. Not to mention the support of my fellow students, the tutors and the course teams who research, put the courses together and get the relevant accreditation.

Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do, accept the past as past, without denying it or discarding it. Learn to forgive yourself and to forgive others. Don’t assume it’s too late to get involved.
-        ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’, Mitch Albom

I know I’m not the brightest, I know I am not the fittest and I know I am not the fastest, but I will have a go at whatever my heart desires and somehow with the help of many other people, some I know and many I do not know or will ever meet, I am able to do interesting things. I think it helps me to realize, that many coincidences and people have brought me to where I am today, but it’s those who give that will help me get to where I want to be tomorrow.

The two tough questions I have now are. 
1. Where do I want to be tomorrow? 
2. How can I best give to help others achieve their hearts desire as others will mine?

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you