Always take your colouring book with you

Archive: Sep 2009

Action 17: Try watching less TV


i actually don’t watch that much TV. As long as I can watch Ugly Betty, The Choir, The X Factor, Grease: The School Musical, Sonny With A Chance, Wizards of Waverly Place, Hannah Montana, JONAS … OK so maybe I do watch more mindless Disney shows than I really need to. Well more accurately I do. we all have guilty pleasures though. Anyway, I still think I don’t watch so much television. The problem is more being on the computer for too long but that will be dealt with in another action.

TV is good. It helps us relax and I genuinely thinks it can help us get through tough times in our life, which might explain why I was the only person in the country who enjoyed Britannia High. But when you sit down and flick through the channels because there’s ‘nothing else to do’ or when you start planning your day around This Morning and Loose Women (I’ll owe up to that one too) maybe it’s time to switch off and preferably not turn on the computer instead.

As I go off to uni I will have to watch less TV, seeing as I won’t have a TV license. I’ll miss Sonny and Selema and all my Disney Channel favourites but I’ll get over it, I’ll find other tasks to do, like write essays. If that doesn’t appeal to you why don’t you go for a walk in the park. Or join a choir. Bake a cake. Do some colouring in. Write a letter of complaint. Write a letter of thanks. Read a book. Write a book. Go see a play. Have a kickabout. Go to the pub.

There’s so much that can be done in the world. Turn off and turn away otherwise you might miss what else is out there.

Action 36: Take time to listen


I can’t just sit there and say “OK so I’m going to listen to eveyone’s problems and that’s another action done.” That would make for a very brief blog entry and wouldn’t do the task any justice. Taking the time to listen isn’t a tick box exercise. It’s not as easy as it sounds, because people can be really quiet and silent at the times they want people to stand out and share their fears and troubles with. And then you’ve got to listen – not judge, not solve, just listen.

It’s a job Samaritans do rather well all the time and although we can’t all be Samaritans on the end of a phone line, we can all be samaritans to the people we meet. Just prepare your heart and mind so that you’re ready to listen when someone needs you. I’ve been blessed by so many people doing exactly that for me just this week, and i appreciate it far more than they realise. You can’t know how helpful you might be to someone, but you can know you won’t be any use if you don’t try to listen.

Action 26: Give blood


I wanted this to be a glowing advert to persuade you all to give blood, how it’s really not a big deal. luckily it’s not quite a horror story about me fainting – I just about managed to avoid it.

I’d already gone on the website where you can search for local sessions where you can donate, and book appointments to minimise your waiting time. It also has a really good step by step guide through how it all works, from walking through the door on your way in to walking out again, so I knew what to expect. except for the almost fainting, but I’ll get to that bit.

After the questions, the registering, the double checking on the questions and my identity, the initial finger prick test, the water and the triple checking on my identity, I was ready. they laid me down on the bed and set everything up and then put a needle into me. It wasn’t painful, but I wouldn’t say it was pleasant. And then I knew for the next 5 minutes I had this needle in me. but I was doing some calming breathing and you have to open and close your hand so I was doing that too. How the person in the bed opposite was able to read at the same time I don’t know.

Anyway as I slowly got up, I was feeling OK. not “Joey Jump” energy levels but I wasn’t expecting that. I went over to the refreshments, started eating some crisps, drinking some water, and then I felt worse, and could start seeing black spots. Which I thought would pass but it didn’t. So when one of the staff soon asked if I was OK, they quickly put me onto a bed, put my legs up and gave me wet towels. And I felt better. This was while everyone was packing up wanting to go home, so I felt a bit bad for prolonging their exit. Mum came to pick me up so I didn’t ever make it to choir, let alone the pub. About an hour later I felt “Joey Jump” better, not that I did one.

I would like to say I’ll do it again, because I did actually give blood and survive. And well if not enough people give then the people who need the blood maybe won’t survive. Only about 4% of those able to give blood do. Some people might not have a body “that agrees with it” mas one of the nurses said to me, and if I do it again and almost faint again, that will be the end of my donations. But I was the lucky 2% of donors who feels faint afterwards, so you’re far more likely to be just fine. Don’t let my story put you off something amazing, something like saving a life.

Action 123: Don’t start a war


Today is World Peace Day. It’s a great idea. Of course I’d say that, becuase I’m a hopeless dreamer holding out for a kind of Disney fairytale world where in less than 90 minutes, everyone turns out happy becuase evil is defeated. But I’m glad I’m not the only dreamer, and there’s a great guy called Jeremy Gilley who for the past decade has been running Peace One Day and he mde a rather inspirational film about it that I think you should all watch or pester your Citizenship or PSE teachers to let you all watch.

So today I decided “it’s World Peace Day, I’m not going to argue with anyone, I’m not going to start a war.” Andd I’ll admit I got annoyed at people. One was because I couldn’t get in contact with them, so I couldn’t speak to them to argue and start a war which is kind of good. The other was Mum, which isn’t that surprising becuase we all annoy and get annoyed by our family. I calmed my temper though and told her I was “more than a little annoyed” about the matter.You see, we make 217 decisions a day (and that’s a stat I swear I didn’t make up but I don’t have a source for it) and well we can decide to speak out, and sometimes that’s the right thing to do. I’m going to have to write to Waitrose this week because they’ve stopped serving Sunday roasts. Which is a far bigger deal to me than you could imagine. But most times it’s better to be quiet and swallow your tounge and get on with your day.

Today though I want to take the third way. It’s all very easy not to start a war, but when you’re in one, for whatever reason, it’s very easy to drag your feet and stay there. Well this is the moment I lift my feet up and say it’s over. I’m sorry, I’ve said bad things to good perople and bad things about good people. I’ve clinged onto the actions from the past and turned them into grudges. I’ve runied friendships that I miss. I surrender, I end the wars. I know I’m not in my Disney world and that won’t suddenly make everything OK again, not least becuase the people I really want to read this won’t. But if I don’t try, if I don’t vow to make a change in me then everything becomes static when life’s too short to stand still.

Action 120: Give lots of compliments


All too often we criticise, get on our high horse and shout out about everything, like when someone gives you a job to do when you think it should be their responsibility, or your friend starts going out with someone you don’t like, or when someone is holding up the traffic, or when its raining and then everything is just rubbish. But it’s just all bitching and moaning and gossiping. And that can be far more hurtful than people realise, it brings people right down and it breaks relationships.

So you need to lift people up instead, and that might lift the whole nation up and make the sunshine. Just maybe. The best way to lift people is to say nice things – to give lots of compliments. It’s really quite simple. Meet a person – what can you say nice about their outfit? Or their hair? Their bracelet? And BANG, that’s one compliment already heading someones way before pleasantries are even over.

And then someone makes you a drink, you like – say well done, that’s a lovely cup of tea. Or someone write you a beautiful letter – tell them how grateful you were for it. Even something so small like how someone just walkas around with a smile and a spring in their step. Or as I like to do from time to time, a “Joey Jump”. If you like what someone does, they’ll love to know you do.

Set a target of 5 compliments to give out a day. That’s a tiny tiny almost criminally too small amount of compliments to give when you think of the number of people you probably see in a day. But it’s a chance to make 5 people have a brilliant day instead of a bad one, which is something pretty special.

Action 47: Buy a copy of this book for a friend


As great as it is me taking on the actions of the ‘Change the World’series of books, and slowly ploughing my way through all 130 of them on this blog, it is rather slow. And you can’t appreciate the original creativity of the presentation of each action. So if you had your own copy of the book, you’d be more inspired to do more actions equals bigger and better change made in the world.

I gave one friend a copy of ‘Change the World for a Fiver’ yesterday, and she’ll hopefully take away more from it than just the unusual illustrations for Action 8. The great thing is I have more books to give away, and you can have a copy. Just take it and committ to lifting the actions off the pages into the real world, where they will make a difference.

So if you want a book, if you want to change the world, just ask me. It’s thats simple.

Action 31: Turn off the tap whilst brushing your teeth


The great thing about these actions is that they’re so varied. Some of them are amazing things to say you’ve done, like giving blood, which is something I am hopefully going to do over the next few weeks. Although I have to cover my eyes during Casualty whenever a needle appears so I have no idea how I’m going to cope. Some of them are interesting – I enjoyed emailing the Disney Store. But it involved Disney so of course I would. Some of the actions though are, well, they’re pretty boring, but simple. And they do actually change the world.

This is one of the simple, boring ones. And this is something I’ve always done becuase it’s just common sense to me. But apparently most people don’t do it. If you leave our tap running whilst brushing you teeth, well thats up to 9 litres of water your literally pouring down the sink every minute. Thats over 4 times the amount of water you should drink a day. In fact, if yougot a plumber in and kind of diverted your pipes, and next door’s pipes and the whole street’s pipes, you could have yourself an olympic size swimming pool in 12 months time. It’s such a waste – not just a watse of water that people don’t have elsewhere but a waste of money.

So next time you brush your teeth, picture that olympic sized swimming pool at the end of your street, and then you’ll realise actually you don’t want one on your street because it will be too big. Unless you’re super rich and live on a big wide street. In which case you maybe won’t want the pool becuase you’ve already got a perfectly nice one in your back garden. So either way you should turn the tap off.

Action 30: Bake something for a friend


This is so simple. If I ever need to thank a group of people I will always bake them something, because generally the share better than gift vouchers do. So today I needed to thank all the staff at Early Learning Centre for their help with my fundraising. There was no other option but to make flapjacks. I’m now immortalised in a drawing on the staff room wall as ‘Joe – the flapjack man’. And that makes me feel special, because it means people appreciate them. Which is good becuase really it’s the only thing I can cook apart from scabbled eggs and cheese toastie – what a brilliant menu that would make for Come Dine With Me. And I didn’t need to leave my house and go into town and spend ages trying ot find a present, or even spend money really coz I just stole all the ingredients from the kitchen. I even enjoyed it a little.

So I’m probably going to regret saying this now, I think I’m already regretting it as I type. But, if you want me to bake you something, I will. I can’t promise it will be amazing or even tasty, but it will be made with care and love and I think they’re pretty good ingredients. So if you want me to bake you something, just tell me what and it may take me some time, but I will do it.

Action 97: Say thanks


Today was a good day. Apart from the bit where I had to go to Canvey. but even that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I’m even still up beat despite morrison’s not having the DVD I wanted in stock. And making that’s because I’m an amazing person. Or maybe it’s because I spent quite a bit of the day saying thank you.

Now my hand and arm may have started hurting pretty much as soon as I started writing, but I thought it was worth taking some time out (not that I have anything to take it ‘out’ of at the moment, except for catching up on The X Factor) and doing hand written letters for some people who really helped me out. And it may have been 7, even 8 weeks ago that they helped me but it’s never too late to thank people, and it’s never inappropriate to say. Unless it’s sarcastic. Which I do way to often.

So I am going to say another thank you now. Which actually reminds me of when I was watching Loose Women earlier, but hopefully this will be a lot less, well, loose. Thank you to everyone who reads this and everything else I write. I never say it, because I never think there’s even an audince out there until someone ‘likes’ what I’ve written. And even then I shamefully don’t say thanks. So that’s why I’m saying it now, because the support people offer me in Youth Council, choir, fundraising, my writing, just anything I do, well it really is humbling and I really do appreciate it. A lot actually.

Action 20: Find out how your money is invested


Now in “Change the World for a Fiver” (the first of three books that this and all other actions are taken from) it wants you to ask your pension provider “Can you ensure that my investments don’t harm the planet or hurt my fellow man?”. I don’t have a pension fund, I doubt any of us under 20 have one. So I got a bit more individual with this action.

Disney Store now charge 5p for a plastic bag. Not that I ever get one, because I always have my reuseable Disney bag with me. Marks and Spencer do the same for food bags these days and saw it said all money went to Gronudworks Environment Charity. So I thought to myself, I love Disney, I need to email them just to check I love their policy on plastic bags.

And three working days later I got a reply, although she was a girl called Chloe not a guy called Mickey. But she said: “1p from every bag sold is donated to ‘The Woodland Trust’ charity and I would also like to stress that no profite is made from the sale of these bags.” And she was happy to hear I take my bag with me everywhere.

So pick something you bought, something you’ve invested in to think about how much you paid for it and where that money goes. It may be a banana or a CD or finding out more about a charity donation you made or where some of your tax goes. But just do a teeny bit of research and try and get some idea about it. And when you find out you don’t like it, then that’s the time to tell people you don’t and why you don’t and that you’re taking your business elsewhere.