Getting Political (Big “P”)

Oh my it’s been a while since I last blogged !!! It’s not because I have had nothing to say but rather that so much has been going on that I just haven’t had the time to put  pen to paper.  I thought about perhaps doing another series of Vlogs and then realised that this almost takes as much time as typing as I need to ensure that my hair is in some sort of presentable state …. maybe a series of podcasts is worth considering ?? Anyway … I’m rambling …. let me get to the point :

commonsA few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to the Houses Of Parliament for an event that celebrated the Petitions Committee “A Year Of Action” It was a fascinating event and it was really lovely to be joined by Student Nurses Hannah Smith (Salford University) and Julie Woolman (Plymouth University).  The reason we were invited was due to a #WeNurses discussion that was held back in January around the NHS Bursaries, the discussion was held in conjunction with a London South Bank University live debate and we then fed back about the debate and the Twitter discussion at a Houses Of Parliament round table event.  This in turn informed the House Of Commons debate on the NHS Bursaries and we were able to watch this debate live.  The initial discussion came to the forefront because of a petition that was started and although, in the end, the petition did not result in the Government changing the plans to stop the NHS Bursaries but it was interesting to see how nurses can have an impact on what goes on in Westminster.

So what I did learn from the event last week?  I learnt how important it is for nurses to be aware of Politics (although i am talking “big P” Politics here I am not talking party politics, which is perhaps a whole ‘nother blog!) As nurses I think that we need to know how Politics works, how we can influence it, what it takes to be heard and what it takes to make an impact.  Here are some of the specifics I took away from the event:

Firstly - Health is BIG, health is the number one thing that people petition the Government about, take a look at this great diagram below:

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Secondly - Most petitions that get rejected are duplicates of other petitions! So it’s important to search the petitions and not reinvent the wheel – tap into what other people are doing

Thirdly - Social media has made a huge impact on petitions … some go viral and reach 100, 000 signatures (the amount of signatures needed for the petition to be considered for a House Of Commons debate) in less than a day!

Fourthly - There are some really wonderful examples of where people have made a difference and have been listened too and action has been taken.  Some of the health related ones include The Meningitis B Vaccine, The Sugary Drinks Tax and Funding For Brain Tumours Research (you can read all about them HERE)

Fithly - Petitions are taken seriously.  The team at the event told us how petitions used to be put into a bag behind the speakers chair in the House of Commons .. hence the phrase “its in the bag!” However the digital age has made the bag so much louder, more visible and transparent.  The Petitions Committee are there to help anyone who petitions.

And lastly – The petitions that have made a difference are those that has persistent people at the heart of them. people who use the petition as a starting point and not and end point, people who keep going and keep campaigning for what they believe in.

The event very much reminded me of one of my most favourite quotes:

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As nurses I think that we need to not only believe that we can change the world but also we need to understand how we can change the world …. if we have both belief and understanding then we can make a difference.

Taking time out – Day 13

After a bust early shift I have to admit to not having really looked at any social media today – but during the 5 minutes I have just spent “checking in” this picture caught my eye:

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I think its so important that sometime we switch off and relax both as caring nurses and as tweeting nurses.  There are times when I step away from it all and I spend time reading, baking, walking or just spending some time being me … not Nurse Tree or Tweeting Nurse Tree … so on that note, and as its Sunday .. this nurse is off to have a cuppa and read a good book :D

Dreaming of being a nurse

Last week was the end of the school term and our local school invited parents in for the afternoon to look at their child’s work.  It’s always lovely to see what my daughter has been up to and she takes great pride in showing me every page however this term I have to admit to having a little tear as I turned the page and saw this lovely drawing:

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Underneath it was written “It’s my hope and dream to become a nurse like my Mummy” To say that I was overwhelmed was an understatement and I found myself searching the depths of my handbag to find a tissue.  My daughter was very proud of this picture, which is in fact her future self taking care of a lady with a broken leg – she also has no feet but that is only because it’s tricky to draw feet when someone is lying down and not due to a medical condition!

Over the week I had some time to reflect on this picture and I started to think, that although humbled by my daughters wish to do what I do would I really ever advise her to become a nurse?

Almost daily there is news of not only healthcare but nursing being in turmoil and nurses struggle on through the toughest of times.  In my own career I no longer keep count of the times that I have cried or returned home from a shift to exhausted even to eat, fallen into bed only to wake up and return to do it all the very next day.  There have been times that I have felt alone and times when I have felt despondent with nursing.  And to top it all the pay that a nurse receives will never make any of us rich …. Yet I feel I am one of the wealthiest and luckiest people I know .. due to nursing!

Only as I have gone through my career have I actually realised how diverse nursing is, as a nurse there are many opportunities and different paths to choose.  In addition to this every day is, in itself, diverse, I have never had two days the same when nursing. .  On my last clinical shift, at the weekend, I was helping an elderly lady to eat her lunch. She really didn’t want to eat anything at all so I said “How about having pudding first?” and she looked at me like the cat that got the cream with eyes full of mischief.  “Oooh” she said “We were never allowed to do that at school!” So almost conspiratorially we started the meal with sticky toffee pudding and custard.  I asked her if she liked school dinners and she told me how awful they were but they had to eat them or sit there until they had. I asked her if she liked school dinner puddings at least and she said that “she didn’t much care for them either!” We then had a wonderful conversation all about semolina, tapioca and rice pudding! There is no doubt that I can recall hundreds (and have forgotten hundreds more) of stories like this, where a small and seemingly insignificant human connection can make a difference.  The chances are if I had not suggested pudding first this frail lady would have missed a meal – as it was she ate everything.  Do I want my daughter to be able to make a difference to people lives like this?

Nursing really is in my soul , those of you who are nurses reading this will know how that feels.  Nursing makes me laugh and cry and through the tough times I hold on to the good times as for every negative there are 20 positives.  Life isn’t perfect and whatever my daughter does my only hope and dream is that she is as wealthy in spirit as I am nursing.

However having said all of that I believe I have neglected to mention that my daughter is only 8 years old and this week wants to be Princess Anna from Frozen (#LetItGo !) when she grows up … which doesn’t sound like a bad career move to me :D

Keeping Up – Infographic

A little while back I wrote a blog called Keeping Up which was all about keeping up during Twitter Chats.  The blog was quite widely shared however, as well all know sometimes a blog is just too many clicks or even too much to read when surfing the world wide web … especially when viewed vis our mobile phones ! In the interests of keeping this information, short, shareable and sociable I have developed a little infographic .

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I have to say that infographics are one of my favourite ways of sharing information via social media, they are a fab example of colourful content – content that is useful, engaging and shareable. The world needs less boring un-engaging typed pages (imagine your organisations policy folder!) and lots more infographics – so happy sharing #LongLiveTheInforgraphic :D

Smiling when you Tweet

Before you go any further dear Reader this blog comes with a sparkling and fluffy warning … I happen to like sparkly and fluffy but I know there are many who do not.  If you are a decidedly unsparkly and unfluffy person then I suggest you close your browser right now !

Ok so now we have everyone here who can do sparkly and fluffy we can crack on with this blog post.  This blog post is inspired by a Tweet that I saw out of the corner of my eye this week.  It the split second in which I merely saw it and didn’t read it I thought it was a picture sharing Twitter tips:

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Of course the picture was not tweeting tips but a “Wellbeing Bucket” – which I can only assume is a pictorial representation of things to help with our wellbeing … and its very lovely. (Thank you to @KathEvans2 for sharing it)

It’s pretty easy to see why, at first glance, I thought it was about Twitter – being polite, being kind, sharing, listening, being helpful and including others are all great traits to demonstrate in the Twittersphere.  However it was the inclusion of “smile” that got me thinking … would I also include this? Is smiling relevant on Twitter?

I started to think about all the Twitter users who I really like, the ones who brighten up my day:

egg-680584_1280@kathevans2 (who shared this tweet) was the first person to spring to mind, Kath is definitely a Smiley Tweeter, her tweets are both informative and positive.

@lillybubs was another person who I felt definitely smiles when she tweets, her bubbly and sparkly attitude shines through

Perhaps some not quite so obvious Smiley Tweeters are people like @TrishaTheDoc and @LisaSaysThis – they may not always agree with what you say but their tweets show a kindness of heart just makes me feel that they must smile.

But it’s @Pam007Nelmes who is clearly the best Smiley Tweeter ever, Pam proves that 140 seemingly insignificant characters can do so much good.  I bet my nursing hat and cape that Pam smiles and tweets.

I figure that I am sounding pretty sickly sweet fluffy and sparkly, probably with oodles of glitter on top by now (you were forewarned) so I guess I should explain what I mean by a Smiley Tweeter.  I am not sure I really know myself but I know I am not talking about having an inane grin on you face whilst you check your Twitter stream on the bus, and I know its not merely laughing out loud at the latest cat picture to hit our screens.  Its also not about agreeing with everything that everyone says as Smiley Tweeters can, and do, disagree and challenge thinking.  I think its more about an inherent kindness and compassion, its about caring for others, its about respect for fellow Twitter user no matter who they are, its about sharing and its about being human.  The more and more I think about it the more I know that people who “smile” when they tweet are the people I enjoy being around.

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Nursing shoes?

Way back when I first started Tweetchatting and WeNurses someone very lovely shared the Starfish story with me:

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Being a nurse on Twitter is much like being a nurse full stop, we spend our lives throwing starfish and “making a difference to that one” however very often we do not know the true impact of our actions and the ripples that we create, we often just hope, that once we have played our part, things are better for the people we care for, in one way or another.  Being a nurse on Twitter I often have conversations and chats with many other nurses and healthcare professionals, never knowing if conversations have any impact, but hoping that the ripples created go some way to improving things and making a difference.  This week I was “totally floored” (as the kids say) when I finally met a long time Twitter friend and found out how the work that WeNurses does had made a difference to her.

Now there are a few people on Twitter that I feel I have grown up with, they are the people who have been there from the start and have supported and shaped (even though they may not know it) WeNurses into what it is today.  They are indeed a very small amount of people, I can count them on one hand, and some I have met and some I have yet to meet.  @NursieDeb – Debbie – is one of these people.  I remember from the start the amazing energy she had and how her passion for nursing really shone through on Twitter … however as Debbie lives in Scotland and I live in Bristol the chances for us to meet are practically non existent … or so I thought …..

At the weekend my lovely husband and daughter took me to London to go hat shopping, for my forthcoming MBE investiture, we had planned to spend the day in London, see some family and hopefully come away with the all important big hat!!! Whilst walking down Carnaby Street we came across one of my favourite shoe shops “Irregular Choice” – or as my daughter and I like to call it “shoes for princesses” – it was an entirely co-incidental, or so I thought. My husband encouraged me to go inside and try on some shoes! Ok, at this point I have to say I thought my husband was acting a bit weirdly, as he would never normally encourage me to buy shoes, however I brushed it off and made the most of it.  My daughter saw a lovely pair of flip flops and asked if she could try them on, so the shop assistant went to get her size and we waited.  Another shop assistant then appeared with a shoe box and opened it and started to pull out some very lovely shoes that clearly weren’t flip flops ….. by this point I was feeling a little discombobulated and said to the shop assistant “ errmmm those aren’t flip flops” at which point she looked at me and say “no Teresa they aren’t, they are very special  shoes for nurses!!!!” Ok, so now I must have looked absolutely lost and confused because I certainly felt it ……. The shop assistant asked “do you know who I am?“  I kind of did, but the confusion was still rife ….. “I’m Debbie” she said !!!

Oh my goodness !!! It was @NursieDeb – DEBBIE !!! With shoes, for me !!! Of course the shoes were by the by for a moment and Debbie and I had a huge hug and I incoherently started to talk about forgetting tissues and not having waterproof mascara on! Then I noticed there were lots of people in the shop, and someone taking pictures … and remembered the shoes !!!

So heres what had happened (the bit i didn’t know but slowly came out over the next half an hour) – Debbie had written to Irregular Choice asking them if they would make some special nurse shoes for me to go to the palace in for my MBE investiture, and they did …… and here they are:

shoes

May I stress that they are nurse shoes and NOT shoes for nursing !!!! ;D

I never knew the impact that WeNurses had had on Debbie but as we talked more, and I tried not to cry a bit more (no waterproof mascara!), it became apparent that some of the ripples I had created had made a difference to one starfish.

Debbie is one of the most amazing people I have ever met and I am truly blessed to know her, she is knowledgeable, passionate, friendly, supportive and most of all she cares – I felt truly humbled that she thinks so much of me to have done this amazing thing, when in actually fact Debbie has also made a huge difference to me. Nursing friendships are one of the most awesome things and although Debbie may feel that I picked her up and threw her back into the sea … I know she has also done the same for me.

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So this blog is to really say thank you …. Thank You to my Husband and Daughter who are the most sneaky secret keepers ever, Thank You to Irregular Choice for taking the time to listen to Debbie and to stop and care .. and, of course, for the lovely nurse shoes ….. Thank You to Josh from Irregular Choice for making us feel so welcome …..BUT most of all THANK YOU to Debbie who is more than a starfish she is a SHINING STAR :D

Gold-Star

Saying the right thing .. (PUNC Response Part 2)

As with my previous post in this series “Keeping Up (PUNC Response Part 1) I have been meaning to write this blog for quite a while, but the feedback I have had from some PUNCs. (Plymouth University Nursing Cohort) regarding Tweetchats and their value has kick started my thinking – for which I thank them for :)

I remember when I first started Tweeting … It was some 5 years ago now … There were no NMC Social Networking Guidelines, no advice from NHS Employers and my employer didn’t have a social media policy … I wasn’t even sure if I could Tweet as a nurse, but knew I wanted to reach out to other nurses and so tentatively took some first Tweeting steps as the anonymous @AgencyNurse.  It was very difficult in those early days to know what to tweet, to get comfortable and confident with what to say …. Today things are very different, there are lots more nurses tweeting and there is a plethora of guidance to help nurses take those first steps.

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Until I read the PUNCs feedback it hadn’t really crossed my mind that Student Nurses would be so worried about what they Tweet during Tweetchats … So I am so grateful that they brought this up.  Tweeting as a nurse for the first time can be scary however tweeting as a student nurse requires a huge amount of courage.  Thinking back there are a few things that may have helped me gain confidence in my early anonymous tweeting days around what I should tweet and how I should approach things during Twitter discussions, so let me share them with you:

Know your guidance - Have a read of the NMC’s Guidance On Using Social Media Responsibly and your local Social Media Policy – its helpful to know whats what and is a really good place to start.  I also really like this, as its short, sweet and to the point, and it goes beyond a do this and don’t do that approach and leans more towards a way of thinking:

think

Be a lurker – spend some time just watching and see how other people do it. watch a few tweet chats and learn from other nurses.

Its not what you say but how you say it – someone once said this to me and I think it’s a very wise piece of advice. If you make it a rule to always be polite and kind then this helps enormously! It can be tricky to get your meaning into 140 characters but saying it nicely always helps :)

Be bold ? - Instead of making a bold statement I sometimes take a questioning approach Especially if I know it’s not my area of expertise. eg “What do people think of the use of honey to heal wounds?” Instead of “I think honey for wound healing is the best thing since sliced bread!”

Refer to evidence – if someone says something you are not so sure about or you don’t know about ask them if they know of any evidence around that Tweet. Or if you want to make a bold statement then add in the evidence that backs it up.

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Remember it’s a discussion – Tweetchats (as with Twitter in general) are a discussion not a broadcast, be prepared to engage in the discussion and be engaged with! Through discussion we can learn so much.

Everyone adds value – no matter who you are or where you are in your nursing journey (or even if you are not a nurse!) remember everyone has a valuable perspective and has something interesting to say …. Even you !!

Getting it all in – of course there are times when 140 characters are just so darned difficult, especially when taking part in a Tweetchat & you are going for a speedy response. In these situations I tend to write my tweet know I will go over the word count then cut out the bits that are not needed ….or cheat and use two Tweets!

Most importantly …..

Just be you ! What you bring to and what you tweet in a Tweetchat is valuable.  It brings your unique perspective, it gives other Tweetchat participants an insight into where you are coming from.  Be proud, be confident, be you :))

Once again can I extend my huge thanks to the PUNCs for taking the time to feedback and to Professor Ray Jones for passing on the feedback to me.

Keeping up (PUNC response Part 1) …

I have been meaning to write this blog for quite a while, but have been spurred on by feedback I have received about Tweetchats from some PUNCs.  By PUNCs I mean the lovely Plymouth University Nursing Cohort, and not rockers with green and pink hair and loud music! In their feedback the PUNCs said that in general Tweetchats were valuable, however one of the points made was that some students found it difficult to keep up, especially when new to Twitter. I hope in this blog I can help with the keeping up part of that feedback …

tweeting-150413_1280When I first started #WeNurses Tweetchats were a lot slower paced with fewer participants – these days Tweetchats can have over 200 people taking part at any one time ….keeping up can be tricky !!

Here are are few tricks to help the PUNCs and you (passing blog reading person) get the most out of Twitter chatting:

twitter-245460_1280Don’t stress !! Sounds simple doesn’t it? Twitter is merely a conversation and we each do that many times a day, don’t we ? Well maybe not if you are a hermit but I am guessing as a nurse a hermit existence many be a little challenging!  . There is a little secret that I will let you into that helps me not to stress …. no one keeps up !! You can’t possibly read it all in such a short space of time and you will miss stuff … So don’t worry, just stick to the few tweets that catch your eye and answer them.

Try seeing things from another perspective – try a different platform to Tweetchat from. WeCommunities have the Chat Now page, but others worth try are Tweetdeck or tchat. Find a platform that you are comfy with – what works well for one person doesn’t always work well for the next.

Screenshot 2015-04-04 10.19.54Look out for the #EBP tweets.  Although lots of knowledge and experience is shared throughout Tweetchats the links to evidence are also important.  When people add #EBP to their tweet too (in addition to the chat hashtag) it means they are sharing a relevant piece of evidence.  Unless you are a super fast speed reader it’s probably not best to read these links during the Tweetchat but search for them all afterwards … Just type #EBP and the Tweetchat hashtag into the search box and hey presto all of the evidence is before you eyes!! Find out more about #EBP here.

Check your notifications – ok I know I said don’t stress but it is really important as this is “social” media that we are polite and kind and don’t ignore people …. So take time directly after the Tweetchat to check your twitter notifications and reply to any direct comments or questions.  Just politely say “Oops sorry missed this .. But ….” (Or words to that effect) People don’t mind, in fact they are normally quite please that you responded.

There’s always a transcript !! Here I refer to and reinforce my first point too of “Don’t stress” … Most Tweetchats have a transcript shared afterwards, with WeCommunities it’s automatically generated so available straight after the discussion, so just head to the relevant chat page on the website and read at your leisure. #NoStress

kringel-277997_1280Slow it down !! With some Twitter chats a summary of the discussion is available – this is usually someone’s reflection of the discussion written in blog form.  With WeNurses discussions we aim to do this within 24 hours of the Tweetchat … In addition to this you can also add comments to these summaries, so any points you wish to make in the longer and more considered format of blogging you can.

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Follow afterwards – Twitter is all about people and making connections so it’s really important to follow all of the interesting people you have just met on the Tweetchat afterwards.  That way you can continue to have useful and interesting conversations beyond formal Twitter chatting … So connect and make new friends .. Be social !

Practice makes perfect.  Ok so who of you out there managed to ride a bike the first time you sat on it ?? I am betting not many (if any) as with any skill tweet chatting takes a little practice. Spend some time lurking and watching, then send a few Tweets, maybe post a post chat summary comment, then see how you get on with adding a few tweets into a discussion.  Take it at your own speed … and always remember my first point .. DON’T STRESS !!

With no time at all and the few tips above you will be getting a huge amount of value from discussing with your peers via Tweetchats…. And the you are ready for the next step of running a Tweetchat !!

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Of course these are just my tips and I encourage you, Dear Reader, to add your own tips below by adding your comments.

In my next few blogs I hope to address some more of the PUNCs very valuable feedback and in turn provide a little more of an in depth guide to Tweetchats and getting the most out of them.

Lastly can I extend my huge thanks to the PUNCs for taking the time to feedback and to Professor Ray Jones for passing on the feedback to me.

No purpose, no point!

Last Friday I spent a day at Nottingham University with a small group of healthcare professionals from BAME Connect – a black, Asian and minority ethnic group.  Myself and Sarah Amani (@s_amani) were invited by Stacy Johnson (@misssdjohnson) to hold a workshop around the use of social media and how it can be used to connect, learn and support.

ID-10094437As a little bit of an ice breaker Sarah and I got the group to kick off the day by talking to each other and then introducing each other – you know the type of thing, great to get people chatting at the start of a day.  The first person to introduce the person sat next to him politely told us her name, and her job role and then said “and she doesn’t do all of this” (at which point he waved his hand in the general direction of computers and ipads) “as she thinks that often theres no purpose!” …….

(Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

sign-429419_1280Well time seemed to slow down and I think I must have visibly paled! The words “tough crowd” went through my mind …. But then both Sarah and I seemed to instinctively take the same approach …. We agreed with her !!! She was right ….. social media is pointless if it has no purpose.  There has to be a reason for organisations to engage and for people to engage otherwise, there has to be some sort of direction, otherwise its just time wasting.  Of course those reasons can be wide and diverse, from support to spreading a message and from learning to sharing cat pictures (lets hope less of the latter!) but purpose has to be defined and clear in our minds.

“Purpose” then set the tone to the whole day and we kept returning to it again and again and the day turned out to be one of the most wonderful workshops I have ever attended.  The group were one of the most engaging, sharing and supportive groups I have ever met ….. they already naturally had social media skills and it seemed that purpose was all they needed. Towards the end of the day they all signed up to twitter – and you will find their tweets if you search #BAMEconnect.  They are definitely a group to watch – inspiring, friendly and purposeful.

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My heads underwater

Last year I really wanted to take part in the School for Health Care Radicals however I was just too busy to commit, however this year when the opportunity presented itself again I was determined to take part.  I have to admit to being a bit behind as my diary has not allowed me to take part in two of the live webinars, but the wonderful thing is that they are all recorded and shared and I can catch up! (Well done #SHCR :D)

Anyway, this week, (which was actually last weeks session … I said I was behind!) I felt a bit discombobulated during the webinar because I started to feel like I was looking at things from a very different perspective from most of my classmates.  For quite a while now I have felt like I have been on the outside of organisations, struggling to know what they know and struggling to make contact with the inside however recently what I have realised is that many people inside organisations are struggling to make contact with outside and to know what we outside know.  Helen Bevan describes this well when she says there should be no us and them but us and us … and I have to agree! But this was not the reason for my discombobulation, this was all due to this little diagram:

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I have seen this diagram before (see The Collaboration Pyramid Revisited) and it unsettled me and I am afraid to say that it still unsettles me … why your ask? Well the reason is because it’s designed from the perspective of someone from inside an organisation struggling to make contact and know what we outside already know ….. which is not my perspective at all !!! From my perspective this diagram is upside down … so lets just turn it’s on its head:

photoNow that feels so much better (I can feel recombobulation happening as I type!) The only problem with this is that from my perspective I am underwater.  I have to admit this is what it sometimes feel like – being on the outside struggling to make contact with the inside and to know what they know ….. but here’s where I had an epiphany …. In the world where its us and us, working together some of us need to be underwater, some of us need to be a bit stealth like, some of us need to be working from this perspective.  I had the sudden realisation that the upside down underwater perspective that I am coming from is ok ! In the words John Legend “My heads underwater, but I’m breathing fine”  and its all down to us and us.

Of course this picture is just my perspective – from your perspective it could very well be different again.

So here’s to seeing things from a different perspective, turning things upside down, sideways, slantways or anyway because in the world of us and us we need all perspectives.