Saturday, 15 September 2012

Gifts in My Life

Daddy & I on my wedding day
As many of you may know I have recently lost my beloved daddy after a short but courageous battle with lung cancer. He lived 3 short months during which he suffered terribly and passed away on 7 July 2012.

Since daddy died I have reflected a lot on our relationship, the gifts he has given me and his influence on my life. He was a colourful character who knew everyone, would talk the leg off a stool and smoked like a train! He was also the kindest, most loving person I have ever met. He gave so much to others and changed and influenced the lives of many. I am very proud and lucky to be his daughter!

Daddy has always been so proud of me for establishing Sign2Music and watched with pride as it blossomed. Initially a sceptic, he was a strong advocate of the benefits of the joys of signing, having seen it first hand with Cara and later with my nephews. I think the Seven Thirty Show got it's biggest viewing figures ever the night Sign2Music featured. He phoned everyone he knew (a LOT of people!) to tell them to watch it! He asked all his friends and family to vote for Sign2Music in 2011 and 2012 What's On 4 Little Ones Awards and I am sure those votes helped us reach the final in both years. The first thing I did after collecting my Award for Best Use of Social Media and Online Technologies in the Down Council Beyond business Awards was to send him a text. He was so proud, even though at that stage he was in terrible pain.

When I reflect on the gifts my daddy has given me I keep coming back to one! He always loved me unconditionally and exuded love in his life, helping and touching so many people. Like him I always follow my heart. Of course this had led to some very poor decisions in my life but it is because I follow my heart that Sign2Music is now in existence!

When I decided to try baby signing with Cara I had no idea what a life changing decision it would be. It was obvious to me when I first read about it that it was something special. I read every book I could get my hands on and trawled the internet for hours and hours on end. It was such an amazing experience that touched and ignited something in me. My heart screamed at me that I had to share it! It is fair to say that Sign2Music is my labour of love and the product of much blood, sweat and tears!

In the past 5 years my passion and love for Sign2Music has grown and grown as I see more and more evidence of how powerful it is. Like everyone I have moments of doubt. I wonder if am are doing the right thing, getting the work-life balance right. I am not a natural 'business woman', so these moments usually occur when I have to deal with something difficult or the dreaded admin / finances have to be tackled. However, the wonderful feedback I get from parents, carers, teachers, etc. is what fuels my passion and reassures me to keep following my heart.

There have been so many ups and downs the past few months while daddy was ill. So many times I went into a class with a heavy heart, but always left smiling from ear to ear. When I was feeling most low there was always fab news about one of the children doing their first sign or having a signing explosion. I heard wonderful stories shared by parents and had the most gorgeous smiles and hugs from the little ones. How could anyone feel sad for long while doing such a beautiful job?

Many of you reading this have been the most wonderful comfort to me in the past few months and have got me through some tough times without realising it. I have met some wonderful people through Sign2Music and many of you have become valued friends.

I want to take this opportunity to say how I appreciate all the gifts I have been given in my life: A wonderful father who loved and inspired me; A great family who encourage me; And last but not least..... Sign2Music and all of you who support me to continue to do something I love so much!

Deirdre x

Monday, 3 September 2012

Beyond End Of Summer BBQ A Networking Sizzler

Beyond End Of Summer BBQ A Networking Sizzler | Down News

This article in the Down News summarises a fun networking evening faciliated by the Beyond Programme. I was very priviledged to be asked to be one of the speakers at the event. I was a tiny bit nervous before the event as I knew I would be speaking in front of some well respected business owners and local councillors. I had also decided to take a risk and add an element of fun to the presentation by showing all present how to sign 'Old McDonald had a Farm'. It could have gone down like a lead balloon. Luckily everyone joined in and we had a bit of fun!

For those who have not heard of Beyond, it provides great networking opportunities and business support for small businesses in the Down Council area. Through Beyond I have been able to connect with some great local businesses. I have been able to avail of affordable business support, including much needed advice on accounts and access to a mentor for IT support. I also entered and reached the final in 3 categories of the Beyond Business Awards 2012. I am very proud to be the winner in the Best Use of Social Media and Online Technologies category. The Awards ceremony back in May was marvellous!

It was only sitting down to prepare the presentation that made me realise how much support I have actually gained from Beyond in the past year. I truly appreciate this support and would encourage anyone who has a small business to check out Beyond for great advice and support.