Dyslexia and Me

Dear Reader,

From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for visiting Learn Together Grow. I really appreciate your support.

The name Learn Together Grow came about in a discussion with my three beautiful children while driving them to school one morning.  So, it is special to us, and I hope it will become special to you and your family too.

Learn Together Grow is a place where, through mindful coaching, we can all learn meaningful life skills. It includes overcoming learning difficulties such as dyslexia ( which is something I have), but it is not limited to that sort of diiffculty. It may be something more straightforward such as learning to overcome the fear of revisiting missed educational opportunities. Going  to college or university, or gathering the courage and resolve to launch out in business or in some other way. Learn Together Grow does what it says. It is about learning together and growing together. I bring my life experiences and learning difficulties and coaching experience to the table to inspire and help you to develop your own potential and achieve your goals.

On our website you will find  inspirational, instructional and lifestyle articles helping you to move towards your desires and goals.

 As I have said, I have dyslexia as do my children. I struggled at school, but people just assumed I was lazy and stupid. I struggled at college after leaving school and, later, had problems at work reading instructions. it wasn’t until I gave up hope and decided to study beauty treatment and therapy so I could work for myself that I realised there was a problem. Everyone was excelling, but I was struggling to process information in the classroom.  It would take me weeks before I could grasp one module. One of my classmates had these coloured papers for her texts, and I asked why her texts were in different colours. She explained to me that she had dyslexia. As I tried reading text from her papers something just felt right.  But I still could not work out what the problem was.

I could not, of course, take her materials  home with me, but I explained to my teacher that I was able to read the text better on the coloured papers my classmate had. I was told that I needed to go and get tested with a dyslexia organisation in Leeds. The Beauty College organised it and I went. The dyslexia organisation couldn’t diagnose me fully. They explained that because English is not my first language they could not be absolutely sure, but I displayed some signs of dyslexia and some of those were not processing information quickly and a lack comprehension.

So, I spent over 14 years searching  ways for me to learn, and I studied many online courses before, in 2015, plucking up the courage to attend a classroom training. I was scared. My body was shaking and I couldn’t focus. I believed that everyone was better and smarter then me. But I continued going. And I started doing well. I acquired a qualification for teaching in the Adult Learning sector, and also one for teaching English as a second language. I then studied counselling and I got my diploma at level 4. I couldn’t believe it. From there I pushed on until I got to study for a Postgraduate certificate in Business and Executive coaching at level 7 which I just completed before my 40th birthday this past August.

When you have a learning difficulty it is hard to share it with others. If you do, some people will empathize with you, but others will just assume that you are lazy.

I believe the learning difficulties that you may be facing are an opportunity for you to stare the situation down, challenge it and see where your courage and confidence will take you.

My learning difficulties have lead me to help others in the same position. I have helped single mums in smilar positions who felt they could not face the challenges of life, but they have gathered together their courage and made a success of learning and growing.

When I am not running  Learn Together Grow, I have gone back to studing for my GCSE in Maths. I didn’t pass it at school, and I wanted to understand the subject and also help my children with their maths homework. That is my current challenge.

To support the Learn Together Grow mission, please subscribe, leave your comment and share  with your friends and family.

Thank you

3 simple ways to slow down

Covid-19 has brought added stress, insecurity and fear into our lives. No matter what your background you have to admit we are worried. About our jobs, finances, families. There have been reports describing increases in divorce rates during this Covid-19 pandemic leaving children to be raised in broken homes. Stress and money worries prevent us from seeing the beautiful lives we have created for our families. We cannot change the past or what we said yesterday, but we can change today, doing those things we need to do to find inner peace and tranquillity. We need to let go of stress and allow our minds to locate calmness so we can have better clarity and decision- making for ourselves and our family.
Learn Together Grow is a coaching service that helps not just to promote and encourage those with learning difficulties but also those who are looking to make changes in their lives by creating a calm way of living and acquiring stress reduction techniques.
Ines Newell, the founder of Learn Together Grow has tried the following methods to help find tranquillity and peace in troubling times.

1. Going Camping
Mother nature knows what she is doing. She has some of the best stress release techniques for getting us to slow down. Have you considered camping? The numbers of people going camping have noticeably increased during the lockdown. I have been camping in Edale and the Lake District recently and there is no doubt that people are appreciating the value of nature. She has a way of making us slow down. No, you don’t have all the comforts of home, but it is marvellous to sleep in the tent after using the BBQ to cook your supper and get up in the morning to look outside the tent and appreciate the glory of nature, have a leisurely prepared breakfast and then go walking in the hills and lakes being greeted by friendly and warm people, and when the evening shadows lengthen and night falls to gaze at the vastness of the darkened sky and wonder at the twinkling stars and planets.

2. Comedy
Do you want to drain off your energy and diminish your enthusiasm for life? Then turn on the news or pick up a newspaper. On the other hand, if you want to get the bounce back in your life watch at least thirty minutes of comedy a day. Comedy works. It sets something positive off in your life. Good comedy is like a release valve for the things you are worried about. It drains them away. There is a reason we love to laugh. It is like taking medicine. Take your medicine and whilst you are taking it to take time for a laugh.

3. Give Yourself Permission

You don’t have to be given permission to do things. We are in a season where it seems we need permission to do all manner of things. There is a list of things we cannot do. Life has been limited. Turn this around and begin to give yourself permission to do things. Stop looking for others to validate what you are doing. Try doing something you have not done before. It doesn’t have to be planning to climb Mount Everest or a trek in the jungle. Let me start you off with something small and simple. Here is an exercise:

• Breathe in slowly three times and breathe out slowly three times.

• After each time say the following three times:

‘I am sorry I feel stressed. But it is okay. My mind is calmer now, and I know I can deal with my difficulties. I am becoming stronger.’

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As Anyone Climbing With Long Fingernails?

Hello everyone,

I do a bit of indoor and outdoor rock climbing and with lockdown, I haven’t done any climbing. I naturally have long fingernails that are strong and last a long time months before their break. I take care for my nails, coming from a beauty background your appearance is important from head to toe. I’m a member of the climbing group and I posted the following text:

‘This a stupid question to ask I know but I wanted to know as a lady going climbing with long fingernails? I naturally have long nails. I used to cut them when I was beauty therapist as used to do a lot of massage treatments but since the lockdown, I closed my beauty business and I have started another business which means I don’t have to cut my nails any more but I’m worried about going climbing.

Any advice to keep my nails and still go climbing?’

What is your advice? And don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates

Dyslexic C Pen Reader Review

A Review of the C-Pen Reader
The C-Pen reader is a clever little fella. It is a breakthrough in technology to help people learning to read or wanting to improve their reading ability.. It is particularly helpful for people like me who have dyslexia. You scan a portion of text with it, and it speaks out the text you have just scanned. What I do is read the text out loud first then scan it and listen to see if I got it right. I have three children (12 and under). They also have dyslexia to some degree. The C-Pen reader has helped them significantly. My little boy can now read his bedtime books by himself and he loves the scanner’s internal dictionary. His reading ability has improved massively.
Whilst it helps dyslexic people it can be used by anybody wanting to improve their reading ability including their foreign language learning. My C-Pen reader can also speak French and Spanish ( you just change the setting) and the kids have used it for their foreign language homework.
The C-Pen reader is lightweight and can easily fit into your pocket or handbag. It is entirely self-contained. It requires neither a computer nor wi-fi. This has been great for us when we have gone on holiday. We usually go camping in remote places where there is no access to wi-fi, but we have still been able to use them.
The C-Pen reader is a quality product.

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How to do you increase your followers on WordPress?

There are many platforms for bloggers. All good in their own way, but many bloggers ( myself included) use WordPress.com. I fell into blogging hard many years ago. I wrote on various platforms back then. Mostly poetry, book reviews and short stories. At the time I was just testing the waters, and I wasn’t a very serious blogger. One thing I have remained shy about  though is making video -blog content. I feel far more comfortable sitting in my chair, tapping the keys of my laptop and sipping my delicious herbal tea.

I suppose it was easier to blog back then because there was less competition. So you could be more relaxed and write at your own pace. Now we have many, many  blogging competitors some of whom are really very good and covering a lot of different areas. I admit I love reading other people’s blogs and learning from them.

I moved to WordPress three years ago and I have played with the settings, and I just find it fascinating;  I moved my beauty business onto WordPress three years ago. But, I was very busy with my clients so I spent less and less time blogging and used it mainly for information billboard purposes.

After the lockdown came into force, I had to make the hard decision to close my beauty business that I  had operated since 2007, I had a beauty room in my home and covid-19 made me rethink about having people in my home and possibly passing the virus on to my children. Being a single mum of three I had to find a new avenue to make an income. I don’t like the idea of being on benefit so I retrained and started my life coaching business. I also  have an online shop where you can find inspiring, motivational books to help beat whatever mental struggles you are currently facing. Don’t forget to visit and if you want to support me then feel free to buy something.

In my time using WordPress I have found that you have to ask people to follow you or whatever else you want help with. Think about asking/telling your beautiful readers the following:

  1. Ask them to follow you- whether you have a free or premium account just ask and you will find that most people are kind and willing enough to give a helping hand
  2. Tell them why they should subscribe. I find it helps to tell your readers why you want them to follow your blog.
  3. Tell a story to kick- start a conversation instead of writing posts that give too much information.
  4. Your posts have to contain life and establish a real connection between you and your readers
  5. If you have other methods to get your readers to follow your blogs or subscribe to your website do share it on comment below to help other bloggers, thank you.

Most importantly have fun writing your blogs.

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Learning difficulties – Dyslexia

When you are reading do you find yourself asking ‘what does this sentence mean?’ Or ‘how can I explain to others what I have just read?’ Have you experienced embarrassment about expressing your thoughts in reports that you had to write?

Different people experience dyslexia differently. Some are able to read books and reports but struggle to process the information to help them understand it. This is frustrating and humiliating for many people who have dyslexia. Your disability usually causes you to take jobs where you will be safe from embarrassment. Even if you are smart and intelligent enough to do a particular job or business you are still afraid that other people will call you dumb for not being able to explain what you have read in business meetings or take accurate notes. To make things even more stressful, diagnoses on people whose first language is not English is difficult. All you are told is that your difficulty might not be dyslexia at all but could simply be a language barrier.

At school, I had a teacher who came once a week to help me with my reading. I speak French and English fluently, but I needed help reading in both languages. When I was growing up in Switzerland, I was the oldest kid in my class. I was what they called a dumb kid. At the age of eight, I was struggling with counting numbers from 1-10, do basic maths, and I didn’t know my alphabet until I was twenty-seven. It didn’t matter how many nights I practised, nothing stayed in. My family called me many names. The word ‘stupid’ was a common one at home and at school.

When we lived in the French-speaking part of Switzerland I was told that my difficulties were because I was born in Angola and when we were there we spoke Portuguese, and that was the reason I was struggling at school. So, when I was about nine, I decided to stop speaking Portuguese and focus on French. When I turned eleven, we moved to England, and my brain went back to ground zero. It was blank. So, I was in high school with literally no basic learning experience behind me. No alphabet to navigate me through the books, no numbers, and I was stressed. I cried silently. To compensate for my learning disabilities, I was always in the midst of fights and getting told off.

Before I left school, I saw a career advisor, and I expressed my desire to teach young children. I was advised to go into hair and beauty instead. Even today the thought of teaching young children scares me. I keep thinking that I am not smart enough, I don’t know anything to teach them. So, I have made learning my life- long friend. I study hard, but then I take a few days off and everything is forgotten. If I have deadlines at college or university, I have to study day and night non- stop until I finish everything because stopping for me is not an option.

I hate having learning disabilities, so when I had my children I decided that they would only speak one language: English; have one culture: British; so as to minimise their chances of catching my learning disabilities Even with all that, my kids each display learning disabilities like mine. It breaks my heart when my kids share their school experiences; how their brain just goes blank or they cannot understand the lesson until it is over. It is a case of information-processing delayed.

I was told I might have dyslexia, but it could not be properly diagnosed because of English not being my first language. I can’t speak Portuguese anymore. I can speak French, but I cannot read or write in French. I can speak English, and I can write with the help of Grammarly apps and help from friends, I read mostly via audiobooks.

The International Dyslexia Society said in a report that about 700 million people have dyslexia. Having dyslexia does not stop us from pushing hard to learn. I have overcome some of my learning obstacles and continue to do so. Because of my learning disabilities, I resorted to using procrastination. I became my own internal bully: ‘I’m not good enough. I’m not going to remember anything so why bother. They are just going to fail me because I’m not academic enough.’

I left many jobs out of fear. I was fine until I was offered more responsibility that needed paperwork to be done or reports to be written or letters to prospective customers. I was afraid I would not be understood so I would run away by quitting the jobs. On the outside, it looked like I was lazy and had no interest in having a job, but on the inside, I was scared that people would laugh at me. I was scared to make mistakes that could cost the company I was working for money. I worked at Alders before they shutdown. I was a supervisor and my manager did all the paperwork, so I just did the practical stuff. I was happy until I got promoted to manager at another branch. Fear overtook me. That fear leads me to have nightmares that caused a 21-year- old with only £41 in her bank account to go to Victoria station in London and catch a coach to Leeds.

The longest job I have kept was my beauty business. I worked on my own. I slowly developed my own system of completing paperwork, and slowly got into enjoying reading and that is when I started taking online courses to study at my own pace. I have spoken to other people who procrastinate because of fear of their learning disabilities, and I believe we should help one other. This why ‘Learn Together Grow’ was born. Having learning disabilities does not have to be a hindrance, and we should inspire others to see it as an opportunity.

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Au Revoir -Goodbye

 She gazed through the bedroom window. Angry clouds hurled every atom of their contents as if they had not a moment to lose in getting on with making the day as difficult as possible for another poor soul. She had to collect the children from school. As she summoned her resolve to move, the phone rang.  Flying downstairs like a cat frightened by thunder she grabbed the phone terrified that she would be a second too late. She wasn’t. There was that bass voice, coming across the English Channel (or ‘La Manche’ as he had always insisted upon calling it). Trembling, she got her words out, ‘Jean-Pierre, how are you?’

‘Oui, je vais bien. I am okay. Is this how you say it?’
She and Jean-Pierre had met on a week-end break in Paris. Love came quickly, and seeped away, step-by-tiny step when she was back home. Back home where she belonged with her children: Sam and Lisa.

Stepping off the fight from Paris that Sunday evening she believed it could work. But six months on she knew all was not well. It had become very costly.  He never contributed financially. Broke, always broke. With two kids and no job, romance with a French artist was not exactly practical. Romantic, yes; practical, no. He was barely working. She was supporting him financially and resented it.
He did not understand why she had become distant.
‘You don’t want me now you are back to UK?’ he said accusingly. He did rejection well. ‘Speak in French, don’t understand English well. Your French is good, okay?’  But her mind could hardy function in English never mind French. Last night she had taken her children shopping. On their return, dense choking fumes had emerged from under the bonnet getting into the car. It was dark, and it was terrifying. In the middle seemingly of nowhere and with no signal on her mobile.  Her feeble but frantic attempts to attract the attention of the few passing motorists were studiously ignored. She could hardly blame them: a smoking car on an unlit country road, a wildly waving woman.

As she stood listening to Jean-Pierre, thoughts of the night before came flooding back. She recalled looking at her children on the back seat, little ones having every confidence that mummy would deal with the situation. She remembered image after terrifying image skidding across her mind like a series of nightmares. She closed her eyes as tightly as skin on a drum praying as she had never prayed, ‘God, send your angels.’

She turned the key in the ignition. The engine reached within itself and found some life. The smoky fumes were still there, but life was also there. The smoking, groaning car made it back, just. Reaching the front of the house, knowing its job was done, sensing it had delivered its precious cargo, it stopped. The angels had carried out their assignment.
Her evening slumbers had restored her perspective. She had spent the morning taking stock, and the car to the garage. The low-throated French voice asked
‘Are you still there, ma cherie? ‘
What sort of time was this to be thinking of love and romance?
‘Yes, I’m here.’ she replied, ‘ just thinking about the car, whether it can be fixed and how much they are going to charge me.’
‘I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be there to help you,’ he said, without conviction.

‘You know it’s over between us, right?’ she said sadly.
‘Why is it over?’ came the reply with a seeming sob.
‘Our relationship is over, but you don’t want to believe it. You look for signs of life, but unlike my car’s engine there is nothing to re-ignite. No life within to revive. Nothing to bring us safely home, nothing amidst the smoke and the fumes.’

She glanced at the clock. It showed 3 pm. She was glad of the excuse to tell him that she had to go and collect the kids from school. She peered through the small window in the front door. It looked bleak but there were now breaks in the angry clouds. Au revoir.’ she murmured
‘Yes, he said. ‘A bientot.’

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