My friend Annalea Doyle has set herself an amazing challenge today. A double shift at work without a single moan, whinge or complaint.
Sounds easy huh? Well, why don't you give it a try?
Think of all the negativity we create around ourselves every time we let out a little grumble - the tube is delayed, the queue at Starbucks is slow, rainy days, bad traffic, annoying work colleagues....
How many times a day do you think you moan? Five? Ten? Fifty?
Now think, what have you really got to complain about?
I want to tell you about the most extraordinary girl I know.
She's thirteen years old. She's mad on sports of all kinds. She ALWAYS beats me at chess.
And she is battling through gruelling treatment for stage 4 cancer.
I say battling. It's a word we like to use when talking about the sensitive issue of cancer and illness. But in my experience, it often doesn't feel like a fight - certainly not a fair one at any rate. Sometimes, it feels like no amount of positivity or healthy diet or whatever can have any influence on this malevolent, insidious creature treating your body like an amusement park.
In actual fact, the reality is that you feel more as though your body is the battle ground and you the powerless spectator as cancer and the white coated soldiers throw grenades at each other. In short, dear reader, cancer is a complete bitch. But we knew that.
The thing is that in spite of all that, this kid just keeps going. She's got a smile that would knock out an elephant, a wicked sense of humour and more courage and grace than you or I could ever hope for.
I've never heard her complain about any of it. She tells me the details with a wry smile and sheepishly admits to 'a bit of a swear' when she was told she had relapsed; she chuckles as she tells the story of how her brother sat on her feeding tube and nearly hawked it out of her nostrils. And let me be totally clear that this is not down to some naïve misinterpretation of the situation. No. She is bright as a button and, so her mum tells me, calmly asked the consultant at a recent appointment,
"Am I going to die?"
And let's take a moment here to appreciate Mum and Dad. No child gets to be this level of awesome without awesomeness passed down from their parents. And this is no exception. Nicola has the air of steely determination about her, like a plucky mountaineer. She talks freely and openly about her daughter's illness, smiles, jokes, laughs... as well as caring for her other children. Strength and valour run deep in their family.
I'm sure that when the door closes behind them at night, they must all hold each other and rage and rail or cry about the deep, deep unfairness of it all. How could they possibly not?
But the point of all this is -
I want to spread the word about this young lady and see if we can't all be a little inspired by her grace and courage.
If she (and her family, come to that) can remain smiley, grateful and positive during this horrific ordeal, then you can deal with that white van that just cut you up on the A3. Or whatever. Annalea can do twelve hours in a restaurant on bank holiday Monday with a slight hangover while still remaining positive and complaint free. I can deal with the idiots at British Telecom.
I want to be #morelikeAbbyJo in life. Because that's her name - Abby-Jo.
Remember that name. It belongs to the fiercest person I know. Someone who is generous, kind, funny as hell, graceful, courageous and beats me at chess. Every. Damn. Time.
If you're inspired like Annalea has been, you can maybe set your own goal. An hour, a morning, a week maybe? No moaning. Just seeing the positive. Or you can tell your friends about it. That would be ace. Can we make the world a little more Abby-Jo?
Or just donate to the Royal Marsden who have been treating Abby-Jo -
And lastly, there is a fund raising page for Abby-Jo and her family which you can donate to here -
Tweet me on @lucyfrederick or use the hashtag #morelikeAbbyJo to share your personal challenges like the glorious @annaleadoyleSuggest a correction