We don’t think of retirement as a difference but it is.

By Alison Green, the creator of  Level Playing Fields:

Once upon a time, the editor of this Level Playing Fields blog would arise at stupid o clock, get in her car and travel to work, stopping only for a healthy thirty lengths in the close-at-hand swimming pool. After this, she would arrive at work in an irritating state of alleged healthiness and settle down for a day’s advice, guidance and possible tuition with a range of students. Then the editor retired and became the ex-editor. She still gets up at une bonne heure to go swimming – habits are hard to break. However, now she goes home and returns to bed, generally with a book; mostly, at the moment, Dickens because there’s time to pass on all those words. I heard Howard Jacobson on the radio the other day decrying folk who say Dickens is too wordy: ‘what’s the rush’, he asked (quite vehemently)?

alison green

This is a blog about difference. We don’t think of retirement as a difference but it is. Mostly, it’s a difference driven by choice – a choice aligned to money. By this, I mean a choice of whether to enter penury or not. Feminist baby boomers like me, who have raised our children as single parents, fortified by that back-in-the-day self-indulgence which saw no need for redundant husbands and partners who weren’t up to scratch, fought our brave onward path without a thought that two pensions might be better than one in later life. We’re paying the price now.


On the other hand … my daughter says, ‘do you miss work, mum?’ You must be joking. I had a lifetime of ‘ejucashon’ and responsibility: an adult existence of consoling myself with the edict that you don’t go into that world if you want to make money. A friend of mine, in a quite high powered job, recently paid hundreds of pounds for a course on ‘how to retire’. I’m thinking of going into this business but I don’t know how to make it last longer than half an hour. There’s only one obstacle to overcome: reassuring yourself that it’s ok to do what you want when you want. It’s alright to spend a day reading a book. No-one cares. It’s quite acceptable, on a dull day, to take your Heinz tomato soup in the company of Time Team repeats – it’s educational. It’s perfectly ok to sleep a lot – you just spent thirty odd years dragging up children and going to work to pay bills – why wouldn’t you be tired?

People who retire have a sorry truth to learn: how do you fit in?  There’s no homeland for the excluded. I go to exhibitions. I venture on long walks. My social life is better than it’s been for years because I have time to spend with individuals and because I’m not permanently storing up time for the next day.

And because I’m lucky enough to not care too much about anything.clown 002

I’m a sociologist and I know how important identity is. And mostly, you get your identity from work. And if you’re not at work, then you’re ‘different’. Doesn’t matter how up to date you are with the latest news: if you’re not having that interaction with colleagues, you’re in trouble. No-one tells you that…and we all need benchmarks when trying to locate our place and fit in.

Embrace who you are

‘Being weird is a wonderful thing’ says Ed Sheeran to the American Institute for Stuttering:

Thanks to Ana for sharing this inspirational speech from famous musician Ed Sheeran who shares his childhood experience to encourage us to embrace our uniqueness and differences.

Bravery Organisation

Thanks to Gill for this exciting news:

A group of final year students at Bournemouth University are using Toby’s company ‘Bravery Organisation’ as a final year project.

On Tuesday 28th March, Toby and the group will be conducting market research in the courtyard of BU, and Toby will show off his Bravery branded Gazebo, motorbike, flags and surfboard.

Watch this space for more updates on Toby the entrepreneurial ALS student!


Mindfulness to help children’s mental well-being in schools

Thanks to Ana for sharing this BBC news story:

Over 5,000 teachers in the UK have been trained to teach mindfulness, according to the Mindfulness Initiative, and that number is growing all the time.
It’s a meditation technique being used to help pupils improve their mental well-being.

Wheelchair man: Turning myself into a superhero

“I want to celebrate the powers and abilities that wheelchair users have”   wheelchair man    wheelchair man#2

Mohammad Sayed was abandoned by his family in Afghanistan after his house was bombed and he was left paralysed. Now he has become a US citizen, and designed a comic book superhero – Wheelchair Man – based on his own life story.

An inspiring BBC interview: man comic book

University Mental Health Day

Thursday 2 March is University Mental Health Day (UMHD), raising awareness of mental health on campuses across the UK. The theme this year is active mental health. Everyone’s mental health will fluctuate daily, keeping physically active is just one way we can help to manage it.Web

Promoting this theme, SUBU and BU will be running a full day programme of activities and tools to support mental wellness for students and staff. From sporting activities, through art and music, to a ‘talking wall’ and online tools such as ‘Emoodji’, a free appto help you track your mood over time and Elefriends from Mind, and the monitored blog the ‘Big White Wall’ It’s also ‘take a break’ morning where staff and students are encouraged to take a break from their desks.

Mental health is a part of our broader physical health. In fact, ‘Be Active’ is one of the five ways to wellbeing. Keeping physically active is one way in which we can manage mental health.



‘What is it like to be Dyslexic?’

A question often thought about but rarely acted upon. There are many organisations, companies and individuals who work to help individuals with dyslexia and the daily struggles that they face. I as a dyslexia student, wanted to take a different approach with this university minor project:

Thanks to Steevie for this interesting article & video: