I find my ‘Todoist‘ app wonderful, but sometimes, especially for someone who is motivated by a feeling of achievement, have to celebrate what have done these past couple of years! How do I recapture this sense of joy that I got from the one run I made on my own on a surf board in Australia in 2007!
In summer 2012, I searched, bought and moved into ‘my first house’ in 6 weeks flat, starting a new job in Durham on 1st September 2012.
So, CODEC constitutes 80% of my working week. I moved up for a contract until August 2015. I have signed a new contract to August 2018, although it is still funding dependant, but there are promising leads for that! It’s been a difficult couple of years with lots of challenges, moving offices, seeking to find friendships outside of college… so I’m thinking of a few of the things I’ve done:
- Continued management of bigbible.org.uk, including relationships (online and offline), reminders, content, own blog posts, and #bigread13 and #bigread14 (which sounds small, but are intensely time consuming). 2014 included arranging displays in Newcastle Cathedral, and obtaining funding for the banners to display there, and running ‘Online Praise‘.
- Undertaken a lot of work on CODEC website, including restructuring, sourcing new content (still ongoing).
- Spoken at a range of #NMTrain Events with CODEC/Premier, the National Stewardship Conference, at a significant EA event, CODEC Preaching Conference, spoken at Newcastle Circuit, and undertaken a Social Media Masterclass for Methodist Chaplains.
- Taught on MediaLit13 and MediaLit14, whilst encouraging social media participation.
- Co-organised and spoke (twice at each, including main stage) at #CNMAC12, #CNMAC13 (where also was a ‘final judge’), and co-organising #CNMAC14
- Spoken at Spring Harvest 2013 and 2014, preparing 5 sessions solo, and 3 with Sheridan Voysey, and invited onto the Event Leadership Team for 2014, and at CRE for Woman Alive/BRF event on ‘Restoring Confidence in the Truths We Believe‘
- Co-publication ‘Experience of developing Twitter-based communities of practice in higher education‘ in Research in Learning Technology with David Rush.
- Academic conference papers accepted for ASREC, European Conference on Social Media (with accompanying 5000 word ISBN publication), Media, Religion & Culture in a Networked World, Global Network of Public Theology, Ecclesia and Ethics II (online), ALTC2013, SOCRel, Social Media Values conference.
- Attended Thinking Digital in 2013 and 2014, including useful networking, Church and Media Network conferences, Gathering of Women Leaders (2-3 times per year) and JISC Learning and Teaching Experts events (2-3 times per year), and a regional JISC event – spoke at 2 x JISC events about Raising Children as a digital literacy exemplar. Networked extensively at Greenbelt 2013, and will be speaking/running digital worship session at 2014, repeating at Spiritus NE. Dropped in for a day at the Death Online Research Symposium.
- Academic Book Reviews: Tami Heim and Toni Birdsong: @StickyJesus: How to Live Out Your Faith Online, Elizabeth Drescher Click 2 Save, Heidi Campbell Digital Religion, along with 3-4 popular book reviews on BIGBible, and 6 products reviewed on 2 Premier Radio review programmes.
- Hosted Heidi Campbell, COFUND Senior Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University (October – December 2012)
- Attended 2-3 meetings with Church of England looking at digital strategies.
- Written pieces for other websites, including Bible Reflexions, Threads and Church Growth.
- 10 x ‘Thought of the Day’ for Premier Radio, and 5 for UCB.
- Visited Uganda with Tearfund, on their first blogging trip. See #TFBloggers
- Contributed judging 2 x sets of Jerusalem Trust Awards. Shortlised for bigbible.org.uk in 2013, and onlinepraise.wordpress.co.uk in 2014 (obviously didn’t judge those categories).
- Organised Research Seminars for 2013/14, including seminar on ‘Raising Children’ book, as well as series of online Bible studies with LST in 2012/13.
- Range of internal meetings with ITS, Digital Humanities people, extensive with Cranmer College staff/students (meetings, worship, social, meals)
- Courses attended: Changing Leaders, Enhancing Communication with Emotional Intelligence, Preparing for PhD Supervision, Writing for Publication, Moving Mountains: Negotiating and Influencing Skills, Emotionally Intelligent Leadership.
- Supervised 2 x BA dissertations, and part of an MA dissertation, and Andy Byers contributions to BIGBible .. as well as working with Pete, Tim, Marika, Penny B, worked with Sheridan/DJ for #digipilgrim, and managing Emily/Edd P for summer internships, and Steve, Wendy & Jo on placements after #medialit13.
- Writing annual reports to funding body (Jerusalem Trust)
- Reached Inbox 0 on all email accounts from several 1000, and largely keeping it down! A number of items on the backlog are also gradually being cleared…
- Just about kept on top of reading Times Higher Education
BUSINESS: DIGITAL FINGERPRINT
It was getting to a stage where I was spending around 120% of my working time on CODEC, so at Christmas I started to re-focus and re-address, with renewed vigour – to own the label given by a radio station ‘thought leader in digital culture’. Taking on some business coaching to develop Digital Fingerprint – which needs to provide 20% of my income, with a USP that people think it’s worth getting me down (usually down) from Durham.
- Wrote ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age‘, with associated ‘press’ activity, including Steve Wright in the Afternoon (BBC Radio 2), interviewed by Paul Hammond on UCB, Jeff Lucas on Premier Radio, half-page in The Daily Telegraph, and coveted back page of the Church Times. Sold 2000 copies in first 10 weeks, including reaching top 1000 books sold on Amazon for several hours. Spoken about book at various events around the country.
- Completed ODHE Project for JISC, including 3 ‘residentials’. See continued activity on ODHE Blog, and end of project video identifying attitude change. Led to invitation to run an event at the University of Limerick on ‘Raising Your Academic Profile‘, and am in conversation with University of Westminster re sessions on digital confidence.
- Re-themed Digital Fingerprint, drbexl.co.uk and ww2poster.co.uk + content/blog posts.
- Run 7 workshops for CofE nationally, 2 for URC nationally (with 2 more booked), plus regional events in Norwich, York and Stafford, and at St John’s Nottingham. Slideshare stats indicate over 100,000 views of presentations (of all time).
- Spoke online to Hand-in-Hand annual conference and Children Matters Event.
- Written for magazines, including Country Way, Manna Magazine, Woman Alive – and don’t forget others as marketing for book.
- Taught students at Oasis College and DNA, and youth events for Doncaster Diocese in 2012 and 2013, and Revolution Conference.
- Provided an intensive week of teaching in Romania for Christian media students, via a translator.
- Invited speaker for TWR event in Prague, and undertook a day’s consultancy in the UK radio station.
- Further bookings coming in for the forthcoming year, including some work with Girlguiding HQ, and potentially regionally.
THAT ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’ THING
In June 2004, I passed my PhD viva ‘with no corrections’. I keep promising to get it written, and this year have actually allocated some time, and am fighting to retain it!
- Interviewed for LA Times and a German newspaper re ‘Keep Calm and Carry On‘
- Started the conversion of PhD thesis to book, with help from Dr Martin Polley (who was my PhD supervisor)
- Met with Henry Irving, who is working on a publishing history of the Ministry of Information.
HEALTH, FITNESS & WELLBEING
A few final thoughts on this. As someone with declared mental issues, I am thankful that these are managed through medication and exercise. Life has to be more than work, right … although I’ve not managed to really “just sit still” – always something to do, read, think about… or sleep to be had!
- Swam a lot, gained yellow belt in karate (nearly ready for orange, apparently), with a few Body Pump/Jam thrown in + lots of walking through London, etc. Plans to walk lots of the local region have not yet exactly taken off, aside from a one day hike!
- Learnt 250 words of Brazilian Portuguese (in the last month) using Mind Snacks.
- Made it on holiday to Marrakech, and off to Portugal next week. Some visiting of family & friends (not enough) – with a few National Trust and Alnwick visits thrown in + Merry/Bryony ordinations, and a handful of visitors in this direction (those who can get over how far away it is)! Not enough simply hanging out with friends, though I get some great chats with friends on FB, etc… especially Mel and others who try and get me to slow down or sit still…
- In the first year I painted house, a lot, furnished on a shoestring, and this year have been having a better go at gardening (3 raspberries so far!).
- Counselling and coaching sessions are always hard work, but worthwhile. Sourced and shared stories on Beyond Chocolate.
- Making participating in ‘Faith and Fellowship’ housegroup from Carrville Methodist Church a priority, whilst thinking about if/where might want to be on a Sunday (Tuesday at College = my main service).
- Been learning to switch off earlier in the evening, seeking to not spend all evening working, nor up late with TV/book. Hmmm…
- Dealt with a number of technology issues – just had 4 extra MB of RAM put in laptop – SOOOO much faster!
- Decluttering, including kitchen cupboards (I used to hoard).
- Streamlined finances, paid off debt to parents, still working on Student Loan (2016!) .. and of course mortgage!
Once the PhD is turned into a book, a couple of articles written, paperwork has been scanned, photo albums complete, and a bit of a digital declutter, then everything becomes forward looking.
This is not necessarily comprehensive & I reserve the right to add things if I remember them – this post is for me really!
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.