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Five Things I'm Grateful for This Week

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Every week I'm going to introduce to you the five things I am most grateful for within those seven days; from words spoken by strangers, to actions that I've benefitted from by loved ones and anything in-between! It's a useful practice I picked up several years ago after learning the importance of gratitude from a book many of you will have read entitled The Secret.

I hope it gives you an insight into the things that 'do it' for me. The most common response I receive when I share them on Twitter is: "you've just reminded me that if you focus on the good you forget about the bad'". Simple yet effective, I hope it works that way for you!

1.

The Jubilee weekend was amazing, like most of us we packed so much into the holiday with parties, events and picnics, but my top moment was at one of my best friends Marvin's wedding.

The big occasion had fallen slightly awkwardly for me as it was on Bobby's ninth Birthday, 2 June. Thankfully Bobby was superb and agreed to compromise, a party for his friends the evening before on 1 June and a family get-together on 5 June.

Now on a child's birthday you need some kind of fuss to be made. Dutifully throughout the day in the service at the church, at the meal, and whilst dancing at the reception I would wish him Happy Birthday like a scratched record, but it couldn't measure up to the very kind act planned out by the bride and groom themselves.

Despite it being their big day they had got a cake for Bobby and, as I was the master of ceremonies, after the speeches I was to get everyone to sing Happy Birthday while he was presented with the football cake.

I felt excited to explain to everyone about the clash and to accentuate how kind Marv and Holly had been to have thought of this. As I asked Bobby to stand on his chair and started the song for the whole room to join in I was completely overcome with emotion. I stood in the doorway and blubbed while all eyes were fixed on Bobby in the centre of the room, standing up looking proud and enjoying his much deserved moment.

I can't thank the newly-weds enough for two reasons; my son got his moment, it was more memorable than any other surprise I could of orchestrated for him; but secondly because I got to release some emotion. It's not easy for a man to reach the point of tears but I actually quite enjoy it when it does happen because it feels so good to let go of the stacks of 'man stuff' I've got tucked away. Right, I need to make number two really masculine now!

2

Yeah let's make it about football! Some of you may know I used to be a professional a long long time ago, well these days I love a charity match. I'm not usually so fit whilst others often comment on the fact I have skills, in my mind I'll only ever have done 'okay'. Well Sunday's game was at Reading FC and guess what, at the moment thanks to the Stanley4fitness boot-camp in Harlow I am VERY fit and it made such a difference!

I was up and down that wing overlapping and taking players on, I wasn't kicking the ball into row z because my legs had gone, and I wasn't mis-controlling the ball because I wasn't confident that my touch wasn't what it once was. Well, I got a huge amount of satisfaction from my performance, some of that satisfaction may be appeased my biggest regret in life: not making it passed one lousy appearance on the bench for Leyton Orient away to Macclesfield!

Anyway we all dislike a 'I could have been this' type rant so I won't, but what I will say is I'm obviously grateful for the opportunity to add another premier league pitch to the footballing CV! I'm incredibly grateful to Kate and Gary who run the boot-camps for getting me back to my physical best, I didn't think I'd be seeing my DOI skaters bum and body again, but it's back! Yesssss.

3

Kids' birthday parties are sometimes a bit of a nightmare. In the organisational stage your kid is likely to change their mind from a sleepover, to a day at Chessington, to a bowling party, and the back again. And then when you do confirm the venue, you then have to get the invites sent out and wait three years for everyone to come back to you. (Even though I admit to being the worst offender usually).

Bobby decided, eventually, on a roller disco party at the local sports hall. We've been a few times on a Friday night and it has to be said, although I missed the skating thing when I was a kid it was actually great fun, but only when you've actually mastered how to stand up - as young Myles and Matt in particular can testify to.

In a group of 25 it was always likely that a few of the kids would have turned up out of loyalty as opposed to the love of roller skating. Fortunately, the guys at Razzamattaz had brought along extra stewards on this occasion because anyone would think these two poor lads had a puddle of marbles following them around every step they took!

An hour later the kids were ready to eat the table that the party spread was sat on. Although, hungry as they were, I don't remember the carrot sticks and obligatory fruit bowl being particularly popular... even after the chocolate spread sandwiches and jammy dodger biscuits had been hastily consumed from the equation with immediate effect.

A single dad can't arrange these parties without getting something wrong, and just when you thought I'd played a blinder I was abruptly alerted to the fact I had forgotten the party bags! Didn't matter because I'd arranged for the best cupcakes from a company aptly named 'cute as a cup cake' and anyway it was my mum throwing out the stinging critique and the kids, well they didn't even notice!

Many things to be grateful for here: the fact that nobody got seriously hurt seeing as their little bums touched the floor on many occasions - yet it was never with too much of a thud - that the company running the event were very well staffed for one and well organized with the skate sizes I had given them - because the whole skate fitting stage could of taken a lot longer than it did - but mainly, because without my mum and auntie Leslie helping with the catering, it just wouldn't of been the success that it was.

4

Some parents, whilst loving their own children would admit to not having a huge interest in children in general. I, on the other hand, am someone who really loves the company of kids, which is why my next installment of gratitude to pay would have to be aimed at two little friends I made on the Monday.

Little Sonny, aged three, was jumping all over me at on the bouncy castle and I have to admit, I prefer to entertain a cute and happy child than make excessive amounts of small talk at these things so 'kids' entertainer' is usually the role I end up with.

We moved on to my friends little girl's 10th birthday party, which just happened to be 94 miles away, but I said we'd be there so off we went. Another party, another bouncy castle and another group of kids that want to join in on the rough and tumble the minute Bob and Fred had pulled me into the mix.

The kids were all older at this one so it didn't take long to completely wear me out again. I went off and removed myself to the swing chair, only to find I had been followed by a little girl who wanted me to watch her do her 50th roly-poly of the afternoon!

Before long she was telling me all about her moving from the US to the UK only a few months ago and just as I had always assumed of American children, she was such a confident talker at such a young age. Her mum and I began to chat and she told me that she had come home after several years in the States because the child's father had 'come out' while they were married and had revealed the man in his life of whom he is still with.

I didn't dwell on feeling a bit sorry for the mum but I think it did explain why the little girl was happy to stand by my side all day. She must miss her Daddy all the way out there in Paris, where he now lives with his partner, so I decided she was going to get my full attention for the rest of the night. She actually ended up falling asleep in my arms as we all gathered around the TV to watch the Queen's jubilee concert.

I'm grateful that I have a knack with kids, it's what helps me to understand my own as well as I feel I do. I've always been such an active dad, I don't just take them to the fun, I get involved in it too, maybe it's one of the pros of being a young dad?

If I'm to be honest, I loved the toddler stage with my boys and I miss it dearly. I can just about carry them for 10 seconds, let alone hold them for half an hour while they drift off on my shoulder! It all reminded me of a time been and gone in my children's life that I really enjoyed so I'm grateful for that too.

5

Well not all of my things to be grateful for need big long explanations: I'm generally appreciative of the balance I have in my life. For the way my children continue to grow physically and intellectually, for the motivation I have that keeps me going to circuit training - despite how hard it is, for my mum who provides me with the extra pair of hands that I need at times, and for the love I receive from my girlfriend. For all of this and more I am truly thankful.

Right, now your turn!

Jeff

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