Miss

Special Group of People

Yesterday was my final day on a project encompassing a series of creative sessions and workshops that came to mean a lot more to me than a job and I am going to miss very much.  How I was even able to get this job came as a result of a sequence of events that began with me simply being vocal and putting myself out there, but that is a subject for an entirely different blog post.

I first became acquainted with Mitcham Library last September as a facilitator for the Young People’s Laureate for London Tour, which was a wow moment to say the least, as I stepped into a library atmosphere I had never seen before.  Faced with a group of young people that were unlike any I had ever worked with, I knew that I had to take a particular approach to engage them and get at least some activities done in a workshop.  Fortunately, the approach I took led to me working with a group of young people that were very engaged, despite the number being small – this had to be the case though if we were going to get work done.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with them from the get-go and was given a quick reminder to not judge a book by its cover – these individuals will never be what you expect.  When I was given the opportunity to return to Mitcham Library as part of the tour, I jumped at the chance, as I wanted to follow through on the work I’d started.  I never imagined that I would be offered a long-term job opportunity at the library, but that’s what happened and I am so glad it did.

Not only was I going to get paid for doing what I loved – getting creative and working with young people – but I was going to have the chance to get to know these particular young people more and hopefully have some sort of positive impact in their lives.  I was ready and willing, although I knew it would not be the easiest of tasks and it ended up being one of the most unpredictable projects I have ever worked on.

I have loved it though, more than I can describe, and I was really sad when it came to an end yesterday.  I have genuinely looked forward to going into work every single week, and I missed being there the weeks that I was away – I’m really going to miss going there now that it’s over.  I love these young people, who have had a bigger impact on my life then I think they realise.  They have made me a better person and challenged my mindset even further, while helping me to find an affection for teenagers that replaced the disdain I had from them.

Week on week, I was cracked up with laughter and involved in some seriously interesting conversations.  I was blown away by their intelligence and impressed by the potential seen in most of them, which I hope they are able to tap into.  Slowly, I began to see barriers breaking down and trust being built, which I wish we could build on further, as six months wasn’t enough time to fully engage this group – they only got used to us more recently.

I adore my Mitcham Library Crew – the name affectionately given to the participants of the music workshop – and I was beyond proud of their growth over time, especially those who were brave enough to take to the stage and perform in Wimbledon Library.  They quickly became some of my favourite people, particularly my partner in crime, Conrad.  Everyone had a special part to play, including one girl who never got involved with the any of the music related activities, but would regularly come to simply support her friend – it would not have been the same without her.

And then there was drama, that varied to big groups playing games, to drama activities with four individuals, to in-depth chats with just one young person.  You never knew what you were going to get, but my drama partner, Rachael, and I enjoyed it all the same.  Some of the best conversations were had in those sessions and that is when I was able to develop a deeper understanding with a truly special young man who is going to do great things some day.

Being around all of the library staff was great too, engaging in conversations with them while having their support and expertise.  They were all lovely and greatly encouraging, but I have to give a special mention to the lovely Caprice, who would always chat to me and Rachael as we waited for Drama to begin, and also the wonderful Kurtis for a number of reasons.  Special mention to Sarah and Priyanka too.

Hopefully I’ll be able to do some work in Mitcham Library again, but for now I’ll just have to do with making visits to see the group of people I have come to care about so much.  With determination, learning and support, these young people are going to go on to do great things and make me proud.  I will never forget them.

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My Kobe Bryant Heartbreak

Kobe Bryant, one of my favourite basketball players and one of the best to ever play the game, announced that he would retire at the end of the season.  When I read his beautiful, heartfelt letter on The Players’ Tribune, tears filled my eyes and ran down my face.  It was official.  My favourite [male] basketball player was officially coming to the end of his career.

It hurt me to see Kobe suffer from major injury, after major injury, over the past three seasons, especially as his age made it harder for him to fight back.  Kobe’s decline in this current season has broken my heart, as his body continues to break down, preventing him from being the stellar player we all know he is.  Unfortunately, he won’t be going out in a blaze of glory in his final season, but at least he can see that his time is up and I rate him for that.

When I became a basketball fan, Kobe Bryant was the first player that I fell in love with.  In fact, he was one of the main reasons why I became a Lakers fan and why I always will be.  I could see that he wasn’t perfect and had many flaws, but I love him for who he is.  One of the main reasons why I love Kobe is because of his work ethic.  He is tenacious and he will fight to win, carrying the whole team on his back and trying to get them back into a game all on his own.  It didn’t always work, but when it did, it was magic.

Kobe is also resilient, playing through pain and displaying the most unbelievable endurance.  His strength inspires me and sometimes when I work out, I think about what he does to motivate me and push me harder.  I may not be a sportsperson, but I definitely have the ability to push a little harder if he can shoot two free throws with a torn Achilles — that was an amazing moment for me.

Seeing Kobe play for the Lakers and appear in All-Star games has been a constant for me since I started following the NBA, so knowing that he will no longer be a part of that is really sad for me, but time does move on and people get older.  As much as I hate to say it, this is definitely the right time for Kobe to retire, but at least I’ve had the opportunity to see him play and watch him win two of those five championships.  I also got a close glimpse of him in London, after he’d won his second Olympic gold, which is something that I will treasure forever.

I know that this couldn’t have been an easy decision to make for Kobe, as you can see how much he loves the game, which made me love it right along with him.  Basketball is clearly his first love and having to give up your first love must be one of the hardest things to do.  However, Father Time is knocking and Kobe is showing grace by answering the door, so now it is time of us to start waving good-bye.  I just wish this goodbye could have ended in one final playoff run for him.

For now, I have to say thank you Kobe Bryant for the dedication you showed to the game of basketball and providing us with so many great moments.  You will forever be one of my favourite players and one of the best to ever grace the court.

Kobe Bryant

Missing the Old Times

As I celebrated the birthday of a friend I’ve grown up with, it was funny to hear many of us say that we missed the old days or wonder how we had all drifted so far apart.

Growing up results in numerous changes, as we all head down different avenues in our life and start doing new things.  Some of us will be more busy than others and some may begin to drift apart, which can lead to broken friendship groups.

However, no matter how far apart or busy we may be, our group will come together to celebrate a birthday, a baby blessing or any other big occasion.  When we need to be there for each other, then we’ll be there for each other and I know that the majority of us will continue that tradition.

One of the best things about being around the huge group of my church friends again was getting jokes and watching their crazy behaviour, which always leaves in me in fits of laughter and then a sore throat.  Being in that upbeat, joyful environment always makes me feel fresh and a lot younger again.

Celebrating with my lifelong friends and reminiscing about old times was definitely the boost I needed and no matter how lonely or strange I may feel, those moments with those people always make me feel good.  I know that they’re going to be a part of my life forever.