Play Wednesday

In an alphabetti spaghetti salute to ‘Play Wednesday’ – making play part of every week – from the book Screw Work Let’s Play, I thought I would share this little creation…

Who would of thought tinned spaghetti could be so much fun?

It’s also been a good opportunity for me to test embedding Instagram images into my blog – it’s the future!


University… to go, or not to go…

Northumbria University City Campus

Too late was the cry!

I should, had I followed my plan for 2012, be over four weeks in to a degree in Human BioSciences at Northumbria University but, after writing a winning personal statement and putting myself through an intensive HEFC Diploma, I changed my mind. The question is, was that the right decision?

Everything I wrote in my personal statement is true. However, what I don’t believe to be true is the romantic idea that going back to university would magically lead me into a fulfilling career.

As a mature student, who didn’t go to university the first time around, I’ve often felt I missed out. However, what I think I actually missed out on is the hedonistic aspects of going to university. Second time around, there are numerous factors which need to be considered before embarking on a return to education.

It is true, there are many mature students enrolled on courses at universities throughout the UK but they are still a minority. Most will go on to have very rewarding careers but, their time at university will be quite different to how it might have been had they gone as a carefree 19-year-old.

I would be 37 when I finished my degree and would leave a novice, my scientific knowledge would be improved but I’d be unable to get a job as anything other than a medical laboratory assistant (MLA) without specialising and going on to do a MSc and ultimately a PhD. I dread to think just how many thousands of pounds that little lot would equate to? Plus, even after I’d completed this marathon educational adventure I’d be up against younger, more experienced scientists.

Simon Dolan, author of ‘How to Make a Million without a Degree’ reports, “Nearly 1 in 11 graduates are still unemployed six months after leaving university – the highest proportion for nearly 17 years, according to a  2011 poll by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit charity 2011 figures.”

Who knows, had I gone to university the first time around I could be an extraordinary neurosurgeon by now but, for the moment, I’m going to save myself a fortune and a considerable amount of stress by following the path mapped out by Richard Branson, Simon Dolan and other great entrepreneurs – giving university life a wide-berth!

I will talk more about this in my next post but, my decision to go to university was based almost entirely on the results of a Myers Briggs Personality Test…

Anyway, for any young whipper-snappers out there, with time on their hands, who want to get in to university. Here is an example of a winning personal statement:

I aspire to make examining the link between nutrition and disease my lifetime’s work. From the moment I looked at my first cell under the microscope I have been fascinated by human biology. I am particularly interested in the science of nutrition, the effect it has on the human body and the manifestation of disease. If my application is successful I look forward to broadening my scientific understanding of the biology of the human body and subsequently specialising in clinical nutrition. I am hugely passionate about this subject and have read many books on how the human body functions, specifically relating to nutrition, including; The Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford, Liver Detox by Patrick Holford, The Truth About Food by Jill Fullerton-Smith, Metabolic Typing by William L Wolcott & Trish Fahey and The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain to name but a few. In addition, I attended a series of seminars on Nutritional Therapy with the Nutritional Healing Foundation which increased my knowledge of anatomy and physiology along with building upon my understanding of how food and other environmental factors can influence homeostasis. I also relate this knowledge to my personal life and have experienced first hand how what we eat and drink can directly affect health. Most importantly, after my father was diagnosed with bowel cancer, I used my extensive knowledge and additional Internet research to help him make some positive lifestyle changes, resulting in a dramatic improvement of the management of his symptoms. It is the science behind how nutrition affects the course of disease that I find most intriguing. Being involved first-hand in scientific research into some of the major diseases, such as cancer and type II diabetes, would enable me to realise my ambition. I am a 33-year-old, mature student and have had a very successful career in the advertising industry, spanning over 12 years. Having worked my way up from an admin position to Account Director, a role that required a great deal of responsibility and organisation. Over the past two years, I re-trained as a beautician and started my own mobile beauty business, allowing me to work around my studies. Although I found this work enjoyable I have had a long-standing desire to return to education and obtain the necessary qualifications to make working in a scientific field a possibility. After extensive research, including the Myers Briggs Personality Test (INTP) and the Stamford Test, I am confident that I have the commitment, desire and required skills to fully embrace the challenging course of study I have chosen, Human Biosciences BSc. My brother-in-law has been a great source of inspiration. He has an Msc in Haematology and works as a Biomedical Scientist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead. Some of his research was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology. He has given me an excellent insight into working in a laboratory and will continue to be a great source of support and an excellent sounding board. I am currently enrolled on the HEFC Diploma (Health & Social Science Pathway), the first step on my journey, which will prepare me for the university experience and provide the required number of credits.

Openness…Easier said than done!

Completely coincidentally, my previous two posts on how I would spend my year of freedom combined to create a list of 12 items. You may think I did this intentionally to give me one item per month. I didn’t. It was purely coincidence but, as I do like to mix things up a bit, I’m going to add one more thing to the list for good measure. Well actually, this one is lots of things all rolled into one. In simple terms I’m going to teach myself how to do the yoga move pictured above, often referred to as ‘camel pose’. Purely based on my currently level of flexibility, this item may be the hardest of all to achieve.

In more complicated terms, this move signifies complete openness in mind and body and is a principle I plan to apply to all aspects of my life.

I will be more open with myself and others about what I want and what I don’t want and, in doing so, I will have to make some hard decisions but, ultimately I will remain true to what I set out to achieve.

Being open in all areas of your life takes courage…

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” Anais Nin

Working out what I really want… Part 2

In a follow-up to Part 1 (genius), here is the continuation of how I would spend my year of total freedom:

7. Clinch a deal in NYC
I’m not entirely sure why this one is on my list but, I promised the unedited version of exactly what came into my head, so, I would ‘clinch a deal’ in New York City. Not any old deal, a big deal, one that would pay handsomely and one which I am hugely passionate about. Of course, I’d pull the whole thing off in a sharp designer suit and patent black Christian Louboutin’s : it goes with the territory!


8. Share my Knowledge
I would share my experience of good clean living and pass on my humble knowledge of nutrition. I would share this knowledge with those it would make a real difference to; everyday people not aware of the profound effect basic changes to diet and lifestyle could have on their health and well-being. I would offer an alternative perspective as my ideas are a little left field, taking inspiration from the paleolithic lifestyle but, more importantly, based on what works for the individual.

9. Creating a Career
I would carry on writing Creating a Career: telling my story to see where it takes me, then maybe go on to develop it as a source of information for people embarking on a similar path – what I don’t know about job interviews isn’t worth knowing! I could share my tips about CV writing and how to creatively craft one to disguise poor educational achievements or a ‘varied’ career history.

Or, I could go right ahead and turn it in to ‘The Church of Screw Work Let’s Play’.

Suggestions on a postcard, if you will, to my New York address.

10. Volunteer
I would devote some time to volunteering, for a cause that enables me to make a difference.

11. Organic Food
I would get involved with local, organic food. I’m not sure whether that would be growing it, producing it, cooking with it, promoting it, writing about it or campaigning for wider availability and better prices. Who knows, as with most things on my list, it requires more investigation.

Greenbrae’s Rare Breed Pigs

12. Brand Me
I would create ‘Brand Me’, using my newly purchased domain, to communicate my unique talents, values and passions to companies and individuals I may wish to work with in the future.

I expect the content to come together naturally as I work through this process. However, I have considered recreating this flyer, ingeniously created by my Dad in the 1980’s, for the digital generation? Especially relevant considering it’s mostly sandwich recipes that come up if you Google ‘Francesca Roll’.

As a final note, I could go on forever writing this list but, I think that lot should keep me busy for the next 12 months in addition to, generally doing more of what I’m good at, doing what I love and loving what I do. For me, that means: multiple projects, dealing in ideas, creative writing & copywriting, working with other creative people, creating brands, problem solving, flipping everything on its head, supporting others to realise their ideas and dreams and, last but not least, not letting the grass grow under my feet.

I’m not Bi-Polar. I’m Bi-Scanning…

I was talking to a friend who is now reading Screw Work Let’s Play this morning. I asked him if, like me, he was disguising the cover of the book whilst reading in public. All credit to him, he said no but, it got me thinking. Why did I feel the need to do this?

I know why. I knew people would think I was crazy and be thinking “yeah right, you crazy fool!”. For most people, the getting up and dragging themselves to work, politely suffocating in a job they hate and going home miserable and exhausted, ready to get up and do it all again tomorrow is ‘normal’. Thankfully, I’ve always been a little crazy. I’ve always believed I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Being a little crazy makes me creative and interesting. I can think outside the constraints of the box that ‘normal’ people are locked inside; which brings us back to unique talents. I wonder how ‘a little bit crazy’ would go down on the average CV?

To break free from the chains of a miserable work-life and become a successful scanner you need to be a little bit crazy. You need to embrace risk as part of the process and not be dis-heartened by the non-believers who brand you crazy. You might fail but, you will never know until you try and the conformists will always be left wondering, what if…

Charlie Sheen is considered the epitome of crazy. So, with this in mind, I’ve re-worked the words of his famous rant to create a motivational rap for myself and my fellow scanners.

For the non-scanners among you, specifically my good friend Victoria who really doesn’t understand why I’m writing this blog, a scanner is a creative person with multiple interests and lots of ideas.

Scanning Lyrics
By Francesca Roll

I have one gear: GO – epic scanning
Are you bipolar?
I’m bi-scanning
Scan here, scan there, scan scan everywhere
Absolute victory
(Everywhere, where)
I’m on a quest
(We’re gonna scan everywhere)
Right every single wrong
(Right every wrong)
I’m a total frickin’ rock star from Mars – scanning
C’mon bro, I got tiger blood – scanning
You borrow my brain and you’re like DUDE, can’t handle it
Scan here, scan there, scan scan everywhere
I’ve got a list — help me sort this
From the epic scan to the desperately scanless
Aim for the stars – SCANNING
Chasing your dreams – SCANNING
Do something different every day – EPIC SCANNING
Joyfully jobless – SCANNING
Do what you love and love what you do – SCANNING
Following a career plan because ‘that’s what you do’ – WEAK
Changing your mind – SCANNING
Go with the flow – SCANNING
Get paid for playing – EPIC SCANNING
Creative ideas – SCANNING
Multiple interests – SCANNING
Living the dream………
7 figure income, that’s how I roll – scanning
I have one gear: GO – epic scanning
Are you bipolar?
I’m bi-scanning
Scan here, scan there, scan everywhere
I’m a total frickin’ rock star from Mars – scanning
C’mon bro, I got tiger blood – scanning
You borrow my brain and you’re like DUDE, can’t handle it
Scan here, scan there, scan scan everywhere, everywhere

I make no apologies for how my brain works.

Original Charlie Sheen version.

Image: Carbon Clothing

Working out what I really want… Part 1

The first stage of getting paid for doing what you love is, of course, working out what you love…

One of the first exercises, in the Screw Work Let’s Play book, suggests imagining you’ve been given 12 months off work, with all the money you need, to do exactly as you wish. How would you spend a year of total freedom?

I think the key to this task is not to think too much about jobs and careers. Just try to catch exactly what your heart desires before your inner-voice steps in and starts shouting things like “that’s ridiculous” or “how is doing that ever going to translate into actually paying the mortgage?!”.

Scribble your little heart out… Notice how you feel. Do any of your ideas scare you?

Anyway, back to me. I have to admit that the perfectionist in me feels compelled to produce a finely executed list of everything I want and everything I love doing but, Rome wasn’t built in a day. So, I’m going to break from the old routine and in an out of character experiment chuck everything out there and refine later.

Here is the raw, unedited version of how I would spend my hypothetical year off (Part 1):

1. Italy
I would travel to Italy; take cookery classes in Sicily, sample the finest organic olive oil – maybe even try my hand at making it or stomping grapes to create an award winning red wine.

I would drink good coffee and visit local food markets & delicatessens whilst taking in some of the grand architecture and historic monuments.

2. China
I would visit China and spend some quiet, reflective time up in the misty Huangshan Mountains amongst the pine trees.

3. India
I would experience the colour and vibrancy of India, embracing my spiritual side and learning how to practice Yoga.

I would take photographs, write about my experiences and sample freshly grown Coriander before it even gets within sniffing distance of a supermarket packet.

4. Whale Watching
I would go whale watching. Seeing these animals in the wild, in their natural habitat, must be a life affirming experience! It’s a wonderful world…

5. Chase the Aurora Borealis
I would chase the Northern Lights in Iceland. This one needs little explanation but I’d experience everything Iceland has to offer while I’m there too…

6. Glamping
I would go Glamping and have some good old fashioned fun with my nieces and nephews, exploring the countryside and cooking on an open fire…

To be continued…

I am part of the revolution…

The Original iPhone (2007)

It was five years ago, in June 2007, when Apple first introduced the iPhone. However, up until earlier this week I was a conscientious objector. I re-buffed the whole phenomenon, branding it ‘techy’ and unnecessary and anybody who owned one as distinctly anti-social.

Now, what can I say, I can’t put the tremendous thing down!

In truth, this humble device is actually making me more of a social animal as my WordPress, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media accounts are now easily and readily at my fingertips. So, for that, I must be thankful.

For now, we’ll just ignore the fact that I no longer require any kind of human interaction because this device does it all and I’ll save my thoughts on people being in love with inanimate objects for another post.


Watch Steve Jobs announce the original iPhone

Image: Daily Mail