bettina-maskThe road works going south on the M3 seems to last for ever and they seem to have been going on forever too.  It’s dark and, even with the heaters full on, it feels cold inside my car.  I left Northampton at 5pm today after delivering a workshop for managers with a couple of my colleagues and I was now on, what would be a five hour journey to Dorset for tomorrow’s meetings (all three of them) and a book launch.

I love my job. I work with some amazing people and I have the best boss you could wish for and in Dosh Financial Advocacy  we believe we are making a real difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities.  However, my life is not all about work (despite what some people might think) it is also about Castles, Magic, Dragons, Fantastic Beasts, slapstick comedy, love, romance, Pirates and Sinbad and happy endings.  It’s also about surprises, fun and laughter.

As I am driving along the motorways inside lane, in freezing fog towards my destination, I am focusing on the vehicle in front of me and watching to my right what the left hand drive HGV is doing as it comes increasingly near to my lane. it feels a long way from last weekend’s family visit to the Cinema to see the Harry Potter like ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ and still a couple of days to go before we are altogether again to see the New Wolsey’s Rock and Roll Pantomime Sinbad the Sailor.

The family film in Colchester and the Panto in Ipswich is an only a small representation of the world we embrace as a family because of our youngest daughter Bettina.  An awesome woman with learning disabilities and autism, there is so much more she shares with us that help us to find our inner child.   Bettina and her family never bought into the ‘age appropriate’ dogma that we faced when I started my social care career in 1996.  Nobody was ever going to tell a ‘RAW’ female how to lead their lives!  Believe me, as the only male in the family, my wife and both my daughters are strong, independent of mind and incredibly assertive.  Bettina likes what she likes and very often some of the things we do, and the way we look at life, is through Bettina’s eyes, joining in with the things she likes and loves.

So what are the benefits of finding your inner child and remembering not to lose it?  It helps you:

  • Be creative and imaginative. To dream things and say why not?
  • To see life (and work too) in simple terms without trying to over complicate things and therefore making your life even more difficult than it needs to be
  • Get things into perspective. This week has been ‘full on’ with long days stretching into the evenings but my spirits are always lifted thinking about the things we have seen and the stuff we are going to do with Bettina.
  • To be optimistic. Remember how you were when you were children and you felt that everything was going to work out ok? It still can and will.
  • Cope with setbacks, stress and pressure by providing a balance in life of peace and serenity.

Thanks to Bettina in helping me find my inner child I still get to do stuff I have always loved and enjoyed.

So here are Bettina’s 5 takeaways that you may wish to embrace:

  1. Don’t be restricted by your age. If you like the music play it
  2. Don’t be too self-conscious – you will find that those around you don’t really care, they are too busy worrying about their own challenges
  3. Hold on to your memories and keep to your traditions
  4. Laugh out loud as often as you can
  5. And share the love

My meetings and the book launch in Dorset were successful.  I met some inspiring people and, after another long journey home, I was back with my family ready for our annual trip to see the pantomime at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich for their Rock and Roll ‘Sinbad’   Especially for you,  here is a taste of what Bettina and her family loved: