The latest book I have read is More in Common by Brendon Cox. The book details Jo Cox’s life. Jo Cox was the Batley and Spen MP who was murdered in 2016 by Thomas Mair who shouted Britain First. Thomas was linked to neo-nazi groups.
The chapters alternate from the time leading up to Jo’s death and the aftermath to Jo’s years growing up. You learn very quickly that Jo was very determined, very ambitious however very down to earth. She was a proud Yorkshire woman and loved where she grew up. Cambridge followed and then Jo started her career working as Neil Kinnock’s advisor and then worked at Oxfam and then also worked as an advisor to Sarah Brown, who was spearheading a campaign to prevent deaths in pregnancy and childbirth. It was clear that Jo loved being outdoors and had aimed to climb all of the munros in Scotland with her husband and spending time walking and renovating their cottage and their travels on their canal boat.
Understandably as Cox was an MP this features heavily in the book. It charts the time she decided she wanted to be an MP (before she moved to work in New York) she signed up to a Labour party session for women who were interested in making the jump to being an MP with a friend. When the position of Batley and Spen came up she was originally selected from an all woman shortlist. Jo spent hours knocking on doors and visiting residents and local businesses in the constituency to secure her vote and she won with 43.2%.
Jo criticised the vote against military action in Syria and wrote an open letter along with Neil Coyle about why they regretted nominating Jeremy Corbyn. the national chair of the Labour Women’s Network and a senior adviser to the Freedom Fund, an anti slavery charity. After a member of her consistency wrote to her and told her about how a member of her family died and that although she visited her as often as she could this member really suffered with loneliness. Jo did some digging and found it is a larger issue then she first realised. Jo had started to set up meetings with Age Concern and the Royal Voluntary Service.
From the book you can see that Jo was very principled and this started out from when she started at Cambridge and she felt out of her depth amongst those that went to private school. She was determined that no one missed out on opportunities due to where they came from.
Balancing motherhood with working was a common theme which I felt was worth mentioning. It is so clear Jo loved her children (the fact that her children were so young when she died really hit home to me) and she would even vote in her cycling gear so she could get home and put her children to bed and really hated the fact that the voting in the House of Commons happens so late.
The book gives a very comprehensive account of Jo’s life and the effect that Jo’s death has had on Brendon and his family. It is a real privilege to understand and have that much access about her life. I really do recommend this book.
Have you read this book? If so what did you think?
Today’s Blog 101 I am talking about how a vision and mission statement can help enhance your blog.
What are a vision and mission statement?
A mission statement is a statement on what your blog’s purpose is, a vision statement is what you want your blog to be in the future. It would make complete sense that your blog’s mission statement would inform the blogs vision.
Why are a vision and mission statement important?
A vision and a mission statement will inform the reader about the purpose of your blog and for yourself it can help you understand what you want your blog to be about. For example, if you want your blog to be focused on restaurants in the West Midlands and you do a content audit and you find a lot of your content is based on clothing shops in the West Midlands you have to think about possibly changing your content or the basis of your blog to help get yourself and your readers the most out of your blog.
How to go create your vision and mission statements
For myself I found it easier to focus on my vision first and work backwards. Questions I asked myself:
- What is my blog currently about
- What do I want my blog to be about
- What do I want readers to come away from my blog thinking
- What do I enjoy writing about
- What do I want to be writing about
- What do I want my blog to be known for
Keep your mission and vision statement’s short and sweet, 1-3 sentences will do it. It shouldn’t contain any technical words. There is nothing more off putting then reading a vision or mission statement that you don’t understand. A good mission and vision statement should invigorate, inspire and motivate you to keep working on your blog.
Do I need to publish my mission and vision statements?
It is entirely up to you. I don’t publish mine but I feel confident enough in the fact that I know where I am going with my blog.
Where do I start with this beautiful book. When Breath becomes Air is written by Paul Kalanithi who was a recently qualified neurosurgeon suffering from stage IV metastatic lung cancer. Paul died in March 2015 and he is survived by his wife Lucy and their daughter Elizabeth Arcadia.
This autobiographical book is split into three parts, before and after diagnosis and after he has passed away. Paul talks about his life growing up first in new York but then moving to Arizona and how he developed a love for literature from his mother who gave him very advance books to read at a early age. This love for literature lead him to study literature at Stanford University. Paul had always had an interest in what made life meaningful. Not satisfied in the answers that literature gave him, he wanted to learn from a medical point of view. This lead to a Masters in History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University before he took a place at Yale Medical School.
Throughout Medical School, it was clear that Paul was a high achiever, after Medical School Paul took up residency in neuroscience. Neuroscience is known as been the most demanding physically and mentally, the book details his operations in detail. One particular moment Paul remembers was after an operation he performed he walked out and was eating a cookie cream sandwich and he saw the patient’s relatives being given life changing news. ‘I was making more moral slides than strides’, he noted.
The second part details his his life after the cancer diagnosis. Paul grapples with suddenly becoming the patient. He details one time that a Junior Doctor wouldn’t give him the medication he requested. The Doctor that was looking after him tells him that if he wants to stop thinking like a Doctor and just be a patient he just needs to say. Paul also grapples with whether him and Lucy should have a child. Indeed they do via IVF.
Paul details the missed opportunities, he misses his graduation for completing his residency as he was throwing up very violently. Paul misses out on two very good job offers, one because he cannot bear to move across the country and leave Lucy alone bringing up their daughter and looking after him.
The thread throughout the book is the interest at what makes life meaningful. I feel that Paul does not answer this because the answer is different for everyone.
When Tanya Barad contacted me regarding her debut book How to Make a Decision asking me to review it, I was intrigued. My family could tell you growing up I was horrendous at making decisions. I could not make one and when I did I would change my mind all the time. It was getting to the point where I was seriously down as I could not trust myself to make the right decision. I have gotten a lot better now that I am older but I love a good self help book (read my review on The Defining Decade) so I decided to give it a shot.
Aim of How to Make a Decision
The aim of the book is to help you understand the theory and the science behind making a decision and how to apply this. Chapters 1-3 deal with the science of making a decision whilst chapters 4-17 is about how to come to a decision. Chapter 18 deals with helping someone make a decision and chapter 19 explores if you feel you have or have made the wrong decision. At the end of each chapter there is a section called Decision Time which allows you to apply what you have read with help worksheets. Worksheets include deciding if you are an audio, visual or kinaesthetic learner, seeing which bias’ you feel come naturally to you, allowing to think which environment to you make your decisions and the Johari Window to name a few.
What I learnt
- There are two popular decision making techniques called Gofer and the aptly named Decide.
- You can strengthen your decision making by planning for all possible scenarios.
- Split the negatives out to fully understand why they are negatives and how to turn the into positives or reduce the severity of the negativity.
- Talking through your decisions before making a decision is ideal.
The book contained a mixture of her own personal experiences and you can tell it was very well researched. My only criticism is that in one of the sentences it was talking about flipping a coin to make a decision and saying that is good in scenarios which have two answers and a lot of moral importance, and the example she used was deciding to have an abortion. That to me is poor taste. Other than that and a few spelling mistakes this it is a very good book to read if you struggle to make a decision.
How to Make a Decision is out now.
In my last blog post I spoke about that I was going to run the Birmingham International Marathon in October. I said I will update you on my progress every two weeks. This is to help keep me on track and I like writing.
Since I have last written my post the running has fallen by the wayside a bit. I was constantly tired as my legs were constantly aching. The weather really stared to grind at me, the coldness was just getting at me. Cross training at the gym increased as I wanted to keep my fitness up. Then last week, I was just disinterested in exercise, I would usually do at least 5k on the treadmill. Then I just caught the worse cold in the world – which has just wiped me out and has kept me wiped out since. I had to run to catch my train the other day and I noticed a difference in my lung capacity. I was embarrassed!
As my half marathon is next week, I am getting worried about it. I know I will run it but it was meant to be a test of my training and fitness up until this point. It won’t be an accurate reflection and I am gutted about that.
Food and the marathon training community
In terms of food, again in that department it has slipped. I have been trying to live a more vegetarian lifestyle. At home I have really kept that up but at work it has slipped, I bring tonnes of food in but once that has gone I struggle to get anything that doesn’t have diary in. In the last post I also said I would spend time looking at twitter feeds for other people in my position who are running their first marathon. I haven’t done that because I have been busy with my blog. Hopefully next week I will be back on track and have something more positive to report.