Some people might remember that I wrote a blog a couple of weeks ago about a really extraordinary teenage girl I know, called Abby-Jo.
Abby-Jo is thirteen years old and has a pretty vicious form of cancer which is waging war on her body. She is currently on a drug trial which brings with it some hope but also brings hideous side affects which make the poor kid feel like she's in some sort of washing machine of doom.
I wrote two weeks ago about how amazing Abby-Jo and her family have been throughout this ordeal. How I haven't heard this child bemoan her state at all. I have only heard good humour and positivity from them. I wrote about my own awe at their strength and grace.
I also tried to encourage a little revolution in Abby-Jo's name.
While talking about it all with my best friend and house mate, actress Annalea Doyle, we decided to try to encourage everyone to be a little #morelikeAbbyJo by challenging themselves to spend a day, an hour, a week without moaning, complaining or whining about anything.
And Annalea did something wonderful. On Easter Monday, she went to work at TGI Fridays in Piccadilly and did a double shift (about twelve hours) - without one complaint. Not once did she grumble about her sore feet or fussy customers. And in return, her manager, Lauren Whaites, has offered Abby-Jo and her family a slap up meal whenever they can get there. Which is super ace in my opinion.
But the bigger issue here is how the challenge changed the way Doyle thinks.
Here is a word from the lady herself -
"To begin with, it's worth pointing out that Lauren calls me 'Whinge a lot Doyle', so it's fair to say that this was always going to be a challenge! For the first two hours it was more about snapping myself out of thinking negative thoughts. Every time I wanted to huff, puff and sigh I gave myself a psychological pinch telling myself to man up. Of course, working in one of the busiest restaurants in London on a bank holiday Monday with a small hangover and a lot of colleagues trying to make me whinge, took its toll! However after a while, every time I wanted to moan or indeed think negatively, I started to think about what my mum has always said - "someone else has always got it worse" - which on this occasion was most certainly true. By mid afternoon my mouth was aching from smiling and a realisation came to me... I was starting to enjoy this experience! A fair few had said "its easy for you - you are an actress", but this wasn't acting - this was real true life! And a massive learning experience. I had thought I would end the day on the floor with my brain fried and my legs sore... and that was partly true! But it was more in the way that you get a buzz from finishing a show - not in a negative way at all. It was my little thing I can do to raise awareness for such a special girl and her wonderfully brave family and think everyone should have a go... guaranteed you will surprise yourselves. It's changed the way I deal with those little irritations in life. I don't need to create negativity around me by complaining. I can just let it go."
Doyle has offered me an audio clip of her singing Disney's Let it Go but I've declined. For the good of humanity. Seriously. Abby-Jo has had it bad enough.
Lol. Jokes. #iamhilarious
I do hope you have enjoyed hearing about Abby-Jo and her plight. And I hope some people might try their own #morelikeabbyjo challenge. Don't forget to hashtag on the twitters and all that. It would be lovely to know what you're up to.
Once again, keep donating to the Royal Marsden - they do incredible work down there.
And keep challenging yourself. You don't need to open your gob to let negativity fall out at every opportunity. Remember, these things are infectious. Turning to your friend on the train to say "I hate packed trains." causes the man next to you to think about how he hates trains too. So he goes to work and maybe he grumbles about the woman with excessive perfume in the lift. And so on and so on. It would be nice to think that we could swap that for positive, happy thinking wouldn't it?
I'm well aware of how saccharin this might seem. It's all a bit Pollyanna maybe and you might think it's not for you to go skipping through town handing out daisies and lolz. I'm not saying that, just to be clear. I'm just suggesting that we all try checking ourselves before saying it out loud. Just be aware. You'd be amazed how much better you'd feel.