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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Ok, I didn't want to do this but...

I know it's the run up to Christmas an'all, but I've been very observant recently (some people might call it nosey) and there have been an increasing list of things I've seen which are getting on my nerves.
I've already blogged about the irritating habit shown by some women who apparently lose their capacity for thought when they give birth, and fail to show their children simple lessons in how to behave towards others, but this was just the start of it.

I am NOT going to pretend that I am perfect - NEVER guilty of a silly mistake, or not realising that I'm doing something which might cause an inconvenience to another person BUT (and it, as far as I'm concerned is a big BUT) I am also able to admit my inadequacies, failings, weaknesses... whatever you wish to call them, and apologise when I have caused something to get in the way of one of my fellow human beings. Not something I see happening very often sadly.

So here, for your reading pleasure is a list of all my complaints about the world...... (I'm sure you can add some - please feel free to comment at the appropriate moment!!)

1. If you are using public transport & are accompanied by small children (or not so small bags of shopping) and there are seats close to the front not required by those less able than yourself - SIT IN THEM!!
Please do not traipse down the vehicle right to the back, no matter how much little "milly" or "frank" might beg.... all you are doing is delaying the departure of the bus for everyone else, and said small person is at risk of falling up the inevitable stairs at points along the gangway of the bus, causing them discomfort and you to lose your temper .....

2. Again, If using said public transport & you have to bring on a wheel case of some sort (i.e you are lucky enough to be going away or just possibly carrying a laptop in one of those poncey wheeled cases - or even, dare I mention, a damnable shopping trolley) SIT AS CLOSE TO THE FRONT AS POSSIBLE!!

The rest of the passengers do not wish to have their shins, toes or other bodily parts damaged by your luggage. And besides this there is not enough space for the aforementioned luggage between the seats unless you are going to be selfish enough to take up two by yourself.

3. When out shopping with your family & your mobile phone rings, it is probably a good idea to keep this item somewhere you can get to it fairly quickly - i.e. your coat pocket or just maybe a handbag pocket if you feel a little more secure with this. WE DO NOT ALL WANT TO HEAR YOUR STUPID RINGTONES!!
I, myself, have had my fill of Rihanna, JLS, Take That etc......coming out of a mobile device speaker which produces, at best crap quality sounding music......especially when it is just a short burst going round and round and round until your voicemail decides to pick up (thats if you ever got around to setting it up!)

4. I actually don't care what happened on YOUR night out! ..... Funny that, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that. So PLEASE KEEP IT DOWN!
I do not want to listen to half a telephone conversation & no, I'm not eavesdropping, its the individuals who seem unable (or unwilling) to keep their voices down whilst holding a chat with someone on their mobile in the middle of a public space - shopping centre, bus station, cafe, bus...... you name a place & I've probably been subjected to a half-convo there!

5. As parents (well some of us are anyway) you become familiar with particular behaviours exhibited by children, especially when they are small - pulling hats, gloves & socks off are all games they love to play - not many small people like them on.... HOWEVER.... if YOU as the responsible mother or father are out on a cold winters day wearing nothing but a sleeveless top, leggings and sandals (yes, I've seen this at least a dozen times in the past month alone) then how is YOUR child going to understand that THEY need these things on? You are the example they follow..... DRESS APPROPRIATELY..... Help them learn that in the cold they need to wrap up, not expose themselves!!


Okay.......

I'll stop there for fear of being accused of, well being a miserable old cow........ and start looking for positive role models in my local population.

I'll let you know when I find any.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Why social media can get you job .. or .. plaster yourself over cyberspace!

Readers of my blog over the recent few months will know that I've been getting every desperate - to get back to work! But that despite trying everything (so I thought) I was getting nowhere.... I had spent hours online hours applying for almost everything I could find, got hold of "local" papers and combed the pages for adverts I could apply for, and then walked around my town high street handing out my CV left, right & centre, and filling out so many application forms I got cramp in my hand!!
And still I only got 2 interviews, neither of which came to anything............... it was heartbreaking.

Now, as someone who uses social media to communicate with friends & family on a daily basis (and had gone so far in putting myself out on these platforms) even I hadn't fully appreciated just how powerful SM could actually be.
Once I actually realised this, I started to push as much as I felt was acceptable, on all the streams I used each day - Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc, and found that when my contacts realised what was happening they began to respond to my requests in a positive way, either by showing me places to look (specific websites etc) or by offering to keep their ears & eyes open for positions which they could refer me to.

SO.....
It was through one of my contacts placing a job advert up on Facebook that I applied for & the subsequent conversations arranging the interviews via Twitter that I now have the post I'm in now.
In my interview my new boss was quite open about the fact that they had found it amusing to see how "widespread" I was over Social Media, and that my LinkedIn profile was really useful, both facts I was rather pleased about - and had worked quite hard to achieve - so to have this recognised was satisfying.

Words of advice...

1) Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete - it is your online CV & will be looked at - DON'T FOOL YOURSELF IN TO THINKING IT'S A WHITE ELEPHANT!

2) Make sure you clean up your behaviour on your Facebook & Twitter streams - I'm not saying you should become a robot, just watch what you are saying and control your temper!

3) Start writing a blog - Choose a topic you are really comfortable about & can write about regularly and reliably about (a hobby, favourite film genre or anything) and make sure you post links to your blogs out on your other Social Media streams whenever you write a new article & if they are less frequent than weekly, repost the link every week.

4) Get an up to date photo of yourself & use it uniformly across your social media platforms - please don't choose one of you in a silly pose or as part of a group - try and get one taken of you looking comfortable, well let & tidy - this will be a reference point for people when they meet you after seeing you on your profiles (especially in an interview situation)

Anything else than this should be common sense - just get yourself out there and keep asking your contacts to help you out! You never know... it might just be "who you know" and not "what you know" .....

Monday, 21 November 2011

Pop music Icons.

I was born in the 1970's but even as a little girl growing up in the 80's I listened to music constantly and by the age of 4 I wanted to be involved in playing music somehow. Now, by this time my family and I were living in the South-East, in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, and my nursery school didn't have the facilities to offer me that opportunity so I had to wait until my mum, brother & I moved to our own home (we had been living with our Grandparents) across the county border in Hertfordshire, to a new school and in fact had the chance to join a church choir some 16 months later, aged nearly 6, and even then I was only allowed to do practices and the Sunday morning service.
It wasn't until I was 7 that I was given the space to partake in the full life of the choir, join in with weddings, evensong and all the Christmas, Easter & the whole joy of music involved in the chorister's world. Shortly after this I began Guitar lessons and soon after this Violin lessons too. and by the age of 16 I had learned 7 different musical instruments.

Meantime the 80's music scene was filled with individuals & bands I can only describe now, as Icons. Names I now look back at with wonder & remember fondly & sing along with, remembering the words of the huge tracks that they released during my childhood. Bands such as Mr Mister & tracks like "Broken Wings" http://youtu.be/aWyeVfuolT4, or Bonnie Tyler "Hero" http://youtu.be/7f_HsjpSVaI and The Bangle "Walk Like an Egyptian" http://youtu.be/BWP-AsG5DRk, as just a very small selection. I bet you could add so many many more!!

As I reached my teenage years, I began to have the chance to buy my first singles & albums (on tape - Freiheit "Keeping the Dream alive http://youtu.be/w9aYrHzEW-w" Michael Jackson Black or White)
and eventually I even owned my own tape player & Walkman. This last piece of kit was a Christmas present and was a Sony Walkman & must have cost my mum a lot of money so I treasured it greatly. But it allowed me to listen to the music of those bands of the 80's & 90's I now feel influenced my early exposure to music as well as my continued love of it.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

It's hard not to become disheartened...

As most of you will know I have been looking for work for some weeks (and YES, I realise that compared to many many others this is nothing) and in that time have made several hundred applications for jobs as far away from home as Surrey, Milton Keynes, and Oxford as well as everything & anything I could find close to home.

My outbox is full of the emails I have sent in application for posts but (maybe not surprisingly to those of you who have been through this situation) my inbox is fairly sparsely populated with responses - either of acknowledgement or with a resulting interview appointment/rejection etc.

Now I also realise that in most cases there is one person responding to these job applications & that they will almost definitely be overwhelmed by the number of interested candidates, but with email systems nowadays it is no great deal to set up a responder to such applications, so that people sending in their CV's etc know that they HAVE actually arrived at their destination, and not disappeared into the www somewhere. It would also allow those needing to keep a record of their application history (whilst claiming unemployment benefits say) to prove to the relevant people that they were indeed making the effort & not just saying that they had sent off their details for a job and not had a reply.

I have now been for interview twice in the last month for completely different roles - neither of which have resulted in any positive outcome. Obviously I haven't been lucky enough (and yes I do believe that luck plays a big part in this process - how else could you explain some of the things I've seen?) to be given the role I was interviewed for, but neither was I able to gain any insight into why I was felt unsuitable for the role. In the first case the employer I went to see are now ignoring my emails & calls after initially stating that they would "put some thoughts together" The second interview for which I only got the rejection this morning, have said that "they found a candidate with a better profile" ... but would be no more specific than that.

I have spent a lot of time applying for, pretty much, anything I felt I was capable of, which realistically is quite a lot considering my skills are widely transferable (and no I'm not blowing my own horn, this is what other people have said about me!) but I am now really concerned that considering the amount of competition for jobs, if I narrow my search down to jobs which people genuinely felt fit my skillset then maybe I wouldn't be wasting my own time, that of the people to whom I'm applying & reducing the competition a little, helping someone else maybe?

On the other hand, if I was to restrict the number of jobs applications I sent out would I be cutting off my nose to spite my face?

I'm now more than just a little bit confused... and more than a little disheartened by the whole thing.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Look I know its hard to be a mum but when did you loose your brain?

A couple of days ago I was on a bus bringing my youngest home from school (the last of my 8 buses a day routine) when a couple of stops later I noticed two young women with prams waiting to get on.

Now, at the stop my daughter and I had boarded the bus, a woman with serious walking difficulties & her son had also got on, and taken a seat at the front of the vehicle, along with her walking frame - using one of the two spaces which can also be used by prams/pushchairs. This meant the room left for such users was now reduced to either a single pram (ie one which was lying back) or a couple of pushchairs (strollers) which take up a bit less space.

The two women got to the bus, the first took up the empty area, and used it up obviously, then the second got on and stood in the aisle, looking at the lady with her son, until they obviously felt so uncomfortable with this that they felt forced to move very slowly & painfully much further down the bus!!
I was livid!!!

What on earth gave that young lady the right to expect this less-able woman to give up the seat she needed close to the exit, just because they couldn't be bothered to wait just 15 minutes longer for the next one?

I'm not unfeeling.

I have personal experience of the difficulty of using public transport with young children, and all the paraphernalia which accompanies them. I have four children & at one point my three eldest children were all under 4 years old, but I also know (again through my own personal experience as well as through living with someone who has disabilities) that getting around on buses, trains etc. when you ARE less able bodied is a near impossibility unless other people show care, respect & thoughtfulness - something which seems to be lacking in some younger people, including parents, nowadays. I would very often collapse my pram/pushchair in order to allow a wheelchair user access to the dedicated space on the bus I was travelling on if required because of the infrequency of such buses on some of the routes in our town. If there was a mum with a younger child & I was already using the space, again I would take which ever one of my children was in the pushchair out, and fold it, allowing them the use of the space - it is far more practical to sit with a youngster of 12 or 18 months old on your lap, than a tiny baby of a few weeks or even 6 months old.

What I also can't understand is the complete disdain shown on the faces of people when they are asked if they would mind moving to allow someone to share the space they are in or give it up. Would they prefer the new arrival to just barge in? Or are they so arrogant that they feel they own the air they breathe, the seat they are sitting on, the space they occupy?

Any way to end this discussion on the brainlessness of mothers....

When we gave birth we introduced a new life into a world which is hard enough already without our bad examples. Surely it is our duty to show our children the the ways in which to live with everyone around us. How to show respect to all those who share our world is one of the simplest lessons we should impart to our offspring - is it so hard to include this in the daily actions we do ourselves along with teaching our children to read, write, put on their shoes, and feed themselves.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Where is life taking you?

When was the first time you stopped and thought about where your life was taking you?
I am only 35, but I have experienced much more in those 35 years then many people of my generation have, as not only have I been married for over 17 of those years, I have 4 children (ranging in age from 16 down to 7) but I have also travelled across the US, in Europe, the UK, sung competitively as a Soprano (here and overseas) and suffered from poor health which was potentially life threatening.

All this has put many things in perspective at several points, but most recently my family's existence has once more been affected and forced to change, by my other half's heart attack and seizures, which have obviously caused a great deal of concern and re-arranging of our daily routine to cope with the changes placed upon us.

Whilst for my children the most blatant signs of these changes have been the lack of their fathers presence at times (most especially whilst he was in hospital but generally when he attends appointments or needs to rest) and the need for a carer to assist with his personal help in the morning. In my case, it has been the regular to-ing and fro-ing to the hospital to visit him, along with co-ordinating his care with the huge team of medical and other care professionals in order to ensure that Andy has the organised care plan he needs (so far this has not happened due to the complexity of the situation)
As for Andy, I can only answer from an outside point of view, but I imagine that he feels somewhat that his life has been changed to the point where he no longer feels in control anymore, being totally at the mercy of medication, doctors & hospitals. Not something you hope for aged only 41.

What, you might ask, does this have to do with my opening question?

Well, I'm sure that Andy fairly frequently wonders where his life is leading him... and I know I do.
And I have talked about my concerns regarding this topic on a previous blog article before, but more in the context of work, and what I had hoped my career prospects were, so I needed to put things a little bit back in perspective considering everything which has now occurred.

I am desperate to return to work, for two reasons 1 – for my sanity & 2 – to bring some financial security back to my family, but life is about making sure you don't loose your family or your health and can look forward to a future which sees you moving forwards with your sanity intact.
Even if this means reconsidering and changing its direction regularly.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

British and proud of it.

This year as most you will remember, we completed the 2011 census. Alongside this the BBC have been running a series based on the concept of the Mixed Race heritage within British culture, which has developed over the past 100 years or so (Mixed Britannia -Here).
I have brought my children up (hopefully) to respect people no matter what race, colour or faith (or lack of) they are, so felt comfortable watching the programme in order to gain an understanding of just how mixed race relationships have changed society.
I was absolutely amazed to find out just how long ago our society had begun to merge and blend with the cultures coming in as a result of our Empire. Not just this, but with Britain being somewhere that was on the tourist trail, plenty of visitors arriving at our ports and exploring the country to meet the people who had probably never seen exotic, exciting appearing individuals such as those from overseas.

I have to admit having little experience of mixed cultural influences myself, being of white English background,   and growing up in the Home Counties during the 70's & 80's did very little to change this either.
But I would like to hope that my children will change this, that they will, through their own, more balanced, multi-cultural social networks be introduced to people who will become friends & maybe even more than this....
By exploring the huge world of experience available to them through the people now living in our local communities, let alone as my four children begin to start spreading their wings and travel around outside of their "home environment" I genuinely believe that they will learn to be more varied, flexible & understanding individuals, thus becoming generally less insular and this can only be beneficial I feel.

Surely, this it what it means to be British? -  Multicultural & Proud of it!



Friday, 21 October 2011

I know it's parent's evening but please don't sit on me!

Last night I had the task of facing 3 hours (yes I did say that) of parents evening at my youngest son's school.


I had promised his head of learning that I would attend after we both expressed concern about Mathew's failure to progress at the end of the previous academic year (Year 7 - otherwise known as Year 1 to those of us born before about 1990!!) and as I hadn't been to his previous one it was obviously something which needed addressing.

Arriving in the school atrium my son was forced to sign in (acknowledging that some children fail to turn up though I do, I'm sure that the teachers themselves ARE capable of noting who they see & who they don't) before we went into find the first on the list of appointments.

Now most parents who have attended a parents consultation evening at Secondary education level will know I speak the truth here - YOUR APPOINTMENTS WILL NEVER EVER RUN ON TIME - this is guaranteed. However at the commencement of the scheduled time slots you always carry a hope that this one consultation will be different, and that Miss so-and-so or Mr What's-his-face will be adhering to the allocated 5 minute slots for each set of parent/child combo.......

Like heck....

Generally, however, and I'll be fair here, this is NOT the teacher in question's fault, but the parent attending the meeting..... I have sat waiting in line behind many a full-bodied mother/father team with their poor son or daughter watching (and trying desperately not to listen in) whilst they express great concern/admiration/frustration about poor Tristan/Jemima, waving hands, tugging clothes, son/daughter burying head further & further into chest out of shear embarrassment......

I'm no angel, don't get me wrong, I have strayed over the 5 minutes set aside for me by a minute or two when meeting a specific teacher of one of my kids at some point I'm sure, but where I have been aware of the need to extend the conversation I will always arrange to meet/call & speak another time. It is so unfair on those of us sitting waiting for our turn, to just assume that you can carry on chatting away & not impact the rest of the evening .... especially as you too probably have other teachers waiting to see you too!!

Not only do you have parents taking far too long with teachers, there are those who seem to think that they can make up their own appointment times - excuse me but most of us arranged the times we have for a reason, not so that we can fit around you... please don't assume you can just "squeeze in ahead of us" .... For those working parents for whom fitting in Parent Consultation Evenings is hard enough already, shift workers, those who work long hours, those who use public transport or parents with issues of child care for younger siblings  seeing some "well meaning" parent try to push in before they are due, or because they are running late and have missed their scheduled time slot, they want to "slide in" quickly "hope thats ok?"... er, actually, no. It's not.
It's not my fault you were late. If I was late I wouldn't expect to try and be seen unless it was plainly clear the teacher had no-one sitting waiting for them, and even then, it would have to be with a margin of concern for the next arrival.... And there would be NO WAY I would attempt to get seen before my time unless requested to do so by the teacher as previous appointment had failed to arrive at the event (only possible benefit of the signing in process I mentioned at the beginning of this as that they could check if a particular child had arrived at all)

Finally, and maybe peculiar to myself and my poor children (Mathew & his little sister who had to come along for the ride) please please please.....
always make sure you are aware of your surroundings when sitting in a crowded parents evening hall....
we lost count of the number of times one of us was trodden on, elbowed, had our back hit by the chair behind us, but worst of all was the failed attempt I experienced of someone trying to sit on me because they hadn't noticed they were moving into an occupied chair........

I mean...
Really?
Invisible am I as well as a Mother of 4?

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Caring for the carer.

Have you ever offered "to care" for someone when they don't really don't actually want it? (even if they need it)

If every time you try to help them they say "i'm not a baby" or "give it a rest" even, how long before you are no longer going to offer?Even when you do it, it will be with increased reluctance, hesitation and maybe resentment.Surely this is no good to carer or recipient?...

When looking at things from the patients point of perspective, there can be no doubt that having health issues which require support from a carer (be they family, friend or paid worker) will be, at many times, at best, tiring, and worst, darned right depressing... Seeing this through the carers' eyes shows just how undervalued, ignored and imposed a carer can be. Neither situation is perfect!

Without support, space, time or even just a friend to cry on, carers risk losing their identity, a sense of balance and place, and the ability to care. The loss of any of these is not worth thinking about.

Carers need care too.... What can you do to help?

Friday, 23 September 2011

Keep on looking..

Some of you will be aware that I gave up singing in January of this year after what effectively was 30 years of my life being involved in sacred music somehow. Indeed, having sung both in Europe and America, I had achieved some international experience as well as performing in the UK. I had reached a point where attending the church choir I had been a member of for most of my life had ceased to provide me with comfort, enjoyment and that I actually felt hypocritical going, that I couldn't identify with the texts we were singing any more. On my arrival the "prefects" were friendly and went through things but as I sat and waited for the rehearsal to commence I couldn't help one or two things which began to trouble me, although I couldn't put my finger on why at first.

So at first things started well, with some of the members introducing themselves and asking "was I new?" and then warm up, moving into the full rehearsal. Then the first niggle became obvious..... Of the 80 or so participants here, there were only 4 or 5 men, with 1 of them being oo!
Now don't get me wrong, women can sing multi-part harmony (I have frequently done so myself) but if I'd wanted to join an essentially all female choir that is what I'd have chosen - there IS one where I live. But I don't... So I didn't...
Anyway.. To continue, the rehearsal was pleasant enough, classic 60's Motown, arranged for three part harmony (!) and as I said earlier, I was happy to try more modern, lively style than my previous decades of experience, but I couldn't feed of the vibe which was being generated in the school hall by the very large number of very enthusiastic, talented singers. It was a shame really.
There are a couple more things which lead me back to the title of this post.. And how I think I shall "keep on looking"
I mean absolutely no offence here, believe me please, but I am only 35, and one thing I noticed was that on balance, a large proportion of the members were older than me and whilst this means nothing when singing I am looking for something which offers me more. The possibility of companionship, friendship, and commonalities. Someone who may understand what I have been through, am going through and what the future may hold. I felt there was none of this here. At the break, the ladies immediately fell into their obviously formed groups and this is just one of my other pet dislikes about groups of women ... Even though I am one!
Finally came the realisation that I was not offering a valued contribution, being absorbed into such a huge number of singers.
I felt like just a number, indeed, so much focus was placed on the registration fees, the financial aspect, that you could almost feel like just a sum of money... Very disappointing, especially now I'm not working and money is so desperately tight. ... It just added to the unlikliness of my returning.
I'm sorry Rock Choir, but one size does not fit all...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Care for our community... No, just my family please.

I feel very strongly that I should discuss how inadequate the current support systems are for carers who are neither looking after someone elderly, nor who are only caring but are also still bringing up their family, or god forbid (!) working... alongside taking care of either their partner, a parent or someone else.

Through one brick wall after another I have discovered just how many services are set up with elderly care in mind, and find it really difficult to adapt to the needs of a much younger person - someone in their 30's or 40's has very different emotional and psychological requirements to those of a person in their 80's. This is a huge barrier when talking to some service providers who simply cannot seem to get it into their brains that even younger individuals might require personal support etc.
And it doesn't end there.
When asking for support needs to be looked at for the rest of the family, especially as we act as primary carers on a day to day basis, it is taking months to happen - there is nothing in place to help us, to support us, to stop us feeling isolated or stressed out. We know there are options, young carers support, regional carers organisations, but the length of time referrals take to these is painful, leaving my children without any outside support when they could probably really use it...
I understand things do take time, but I also know that I have already given up the one thing which gave our family most of its structure - my work- in order to care for my other half, but we are now reaching the time where if someone doesn't help us soon, somehow, we are going to start arguing more, finding it impossible to be in each others company and generally failing to function as a family in any way at all.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Turning in to a shell of myself




Recently someone asked me what I was doing with my time these days.... I stopped and thought for a second, about to give them a whole long list of of stuff, considering how much of my  time is being taken up with school runs, chasing hospital appointments for my other half & eldest daughter, organising time with my mum and dad, and contacting the various people now in charge of our finances. But then I realised that actually in between these things (which whilst annoying & frequent) don't necessarily take a long time (well sometimes they do - with hospital appointments at Stanmore & Harefield it can take a VERY long time!!) and I am actually left with gaps between them........

I had already started to realise that I was not fulfilling my true self any more, I've long since given up my long held hobbies of singing, playing the viola (anything to do with music except listening) and now that I've stopped working I no long have the companionship of my colleagues, clients or even just the routine of getting up & going to work to help with providing a sense of identity. Not only this but as I've already mentioned, being part of a couple, I am unable to claim anything in my own right - I've been added to my "Partner" .... what a great way of helping to stomp out any chance of improving my self-esteem as a woman. Yet again I feel like I belong to someone - in this case my "Partner" (through no fault of his), but even when it comes to other things, I am So & So's Mum..... once again never just Clare.

I have been very aware that at the beginning of 2010 I was on the verge of going to my GP to admit to feeling depressed, and that whilst I am nowhere near that level now, if I do not find an outlet, some way of being just me, very soon, I am going to become just a shell of myself - which is NOT what I want to do, is no use to either my OH, or my children - I just could not care for any of them in that state. My family need me to be fit and capable, they rely on my ability to help them and I be able to rise to the challenge!

However - and this is now my major problem....

Where once I could ask for help from others - friends to look after the children for a couple of hours so I could go out - I can not do so any more. Our family are either too widespread and unable to help (much as they would wish to) or for whatever reason just don't. There have always been excuses as to why they have been unavailable to babysit - I just don't ask any more.
Ultimately what this translates to is that I either rely on my eldest daughter to look after everyone while I go out (including her father) which considering she herself is out 4 nights a week with Army cadets & choir leaves few spare evenings for her to do so, or entrust the care of my OH in my sons hands, and he is only 15 (almost) and I'm not sure that is fair to do on any regular basis, just so I get an evening out!

So where does that leave things?

Nowhere... really...
Trying to fit something in during the day will not work while we have so many appointments to attend and school runs to do (especially as I have to do them by bus and we ALL know how reliable public transport is) Evenings are out - except in rare occasions - as my family are apparently not good enough to spend time with.

As usual, it's up to me to find some way of holding myself together.... It won't surprise me if I turn to books, my camera & oh yes, writing more..... sorry about that but you have been warned!!

Monday, 12 September 2011

It's been a while...

And I still don't really feel like doing this, but thought I'd better. As many of you now know, several weeks ago my OH suffered a real set-back health wise, and after a no-brainer (considering all the hospital appointments I'm still organising) the decision was taken for me to leave work in order to look after him, the children and out home.
After being back at work full-time for the past 18 months this has been a real wrench, I am going to be completely honest.
Whilst caring for people is now second nature to me - indeed before I returned to work last February that is exactly what I had been doing for the proceeding 10 years, and really even longer than that as my previous work experience was bitty, and only part-time. My oldest child is heading towards 17 now so I'll leave you to do the maths....
Anyway, as I said, the caring bit is not the problem really, what is getting to me is the complete lack of acknowledgement of me.... me as a person, in any way shape or form in my own right.....
I'm back to being someone's mother, wife, carer and nurse again. I'm not me, not just me .... and this has happened in the blink of an eye.... I was shocked - and disappointed.

I don't feature in respect of the government - because I am married to someone who has an existing claim for benefits (disability benefits as unable to work) I cannot claim in my own right - I have to be added on as a |"Dependent" of his....
I am the "Partner" of the claimant when it comes to sorting out our housing/council tax benefits - believe it or now because my name come after his in the alphabet!

All these things combine with the fact that people who once spoke to me (whilst I was working of course) now ignore me, and just build up to increase my sense of insecurity once more. I will not hide from the fact that I was unsure of exactly who I was (even whilst I was employed) at least people did not shun me, blank me, and generally treat me like a second class citizen, such as they do now. As a full-time carer I fill a huge blank in the employment market, saving hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, and yet, I have been ignored, given the cold shoulder by my peers and quite simply treated as if I am no longer worth wasting the time speaking to.

Thank you world.
When you need me at some point in the future, I might just not be there for you.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Somebody buy me some perfume please...

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That might sound silly, but having recently watching a couple of programmes about The perfume industry has led me to realise that I have been making a huge mistake!
I have been choosing & buying my own!
So,
What I need is a friendly person (preferably a tall dark handsome gentleman) willing to go out shopping with me, spend a couple of hours going round a department store trying out ALL the fragrances, and ultimately picking out two or three which, after being sprayed on & left whilst we have a languorous lunch, still smell great on me....

And obviously, buy them for me....

(Incidentally, I understand that it is suggested that you should ALWAYS have someone else with you when you go to buy perfume... as you should not be able to smell it on yourself - if you can you have used too much!)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

A far cry from what I thought.

If you'd asked me when I was 16 years old where did I see myself being when I was in my thirties I would have probably have answered you that I would be in a hospital lab somewhere cutting up dead people...I wanted to be a pathologist. I certainly had no plans for motherhood, had got a place at college to do my A-Levels & was heavily involved in various orchestras and choirs in my spare time.

Only life takes you on the path IT chooses, and within the space of 2 years I had left college (without passing my A-Levels) got a job, left home, fallen pregnant with my first child & gotten married!

And whilst I wouldn't change anything I have done in my life, I now appreciate that there have been certain decisions taken which have proven not to have been the best (or maybe should have been delayed until I was more mature/better informed) and have seriously impacted on my ability to move on now.

It's not that it is too late to something about this, but I am struggling to see the way forwards because there are too many of the clouds of my past overhead. It's going to take a real trick to clear them enough for me to see. I have to deal with the difficulties in what ever way needed in order to continue participating in what's going on around me, my family, friends, work, everything. I refuse to be defined by the choices I made as a young person, and now need the decisions I take from this point on to count.

Once more it comes back to the title of this post. As a teenager I made a lot of assumptions that my life would be on track, smoothly flowing along and that I would know exactly where I was going. Everything I know now just tells you that life can be a far cry from your expectations, dreams, hopes and is requires consant (or at least periodic) rediscovery to keep you being true to yourself.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Perfect parent...obviously not....

Where is it in the manual that parents have to like all their children?

I only ask this because I recently had to wake up to the fact that whilst I love all my children equally, and would never change them for the world (despite REALLY not looking forward to when I have three teenagers in the house at the same time as a small person) I actually find one of them more difficult to get on with then the others...

I was somewhat worried about this untill I rationalised it as the same issue you have with all relationships - YOU CANNOT LIKE EVERYONE YOU MEET - even though this particular person is genetically half me, and therefore I am effectively saying that there's something I have "created" which I don't get on with.

Still, even though I have been through this thought process there are pangs of guilt whenever I realise that my child is not necesarily getting the full emotional imput that they should be, from me, and that I sometimes find it really difficult to not get one sided about the challenges they present me with on a daily basis.
So,
I made a concious decision to separate the "dislike" into a place where it does not affect my behaviour towards my child, do everything I can to ensure even-handedness in ALL my responses to their behaviour, including issues between them and their siblings, and to work very hard to show them that I do love them, respect them & completely support them in everything they do.
I would still like someone to help me here though.... I know I'm not a perfect mum but surely I should be able to manage this?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

A valid question but no real answer...

Now that might just seem like a silly title for a blog post to you, but over the past few months something very obvious has dawned on me and I'd like to put this to you....

Why, if everyone I ever meet is telling me that I should be happy to just be me.....am I constantly seeking to grow & change?

I've been told for many years that I should not worry about what other people think of me. At one point in my life this was probably because I was seriously overweight (we love you any way you are!), at other times its been because I doubt my own abilities (but you're an excellent singer and your children are so well behaved) Still more are the times I've been advised that I should "count my blessings" and "be grateful for my life" as I have my four healthy children & have been married to the same man for over 16 years....

So,

I come back to my question.

Why am I intent on changing?

I might not be able (or willing) to change certain things about my life, but the way I look & what I do as a job have been the two biggest changes I have made in the past couple of years. Indeed, these have gone hand in hand almost. I think its fair to say that if you asked any of my colleagues they would agree..
But I can sense, with every strand of my being, that there is still so much more that wants to be altered, re-shaped and -remoulded. I can't stop what's begun even if I wanted to, and I have no idea where it will end.

Who will I be at the end?
Will anyone recognise me?
Will I recognise myself?
Will I like what I see & but does that make any difference?
Because I'm quite sure I don't like what I see at the moment..

I'm just sure that flies in the face of everything, (almost) everyone's ever said to me!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Parenthood – the biggest game of life - Guest Blog - Lisa Blackler.

Having a baby will be easy, right?  Every girl played dollies as a child.  What fun to dress it up, push the pram and sing it a lullaby.  Once it’s asleep you can go off and play with your other toys, right?
Well that fantasy is shattered within hours of the birth!

But is parenthood a game?
Perhaps it is the most serious game you will ever play.  It has things in common with many familiar games:

·         Looking after a tiny baby can be like playing 20 questions – why are you crying?  Does your nappy need changing?  Are you hungry?  Are you too cold?  Are you too hot?  Are you in pain?

·         With a toddler you move on to a game of charades as you have to guess what the heck they are trying to tell you without the use of fully functional human language.

·         Ages 4 -7 are one long game of Top Trumps – a repeating cycle of threatening punishment and having to follow through when the threat is not believed...and then needing a bigger threat to top it with next time...
·         Pre-puberty is Guess Who time.  “Mum, guess who has a new computer console/baby brother/pet iguana?”
·         The teen years are a combination of the strategic elements of chess,  the deductive skills of Cluedo and the delicate skills of Kerplunk.

The only problem with it all is that nobody ever explains the rules to you at the start.  Not that it would makes a difference anyway, because your child will change the rules all the time anyway.

Lisa Blackler, Mum of 2 girls, owner of www.honestymarketing.co.uk  Twitter.com/LisaBlacklerL

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Travelling down a road...but which road?


Life is full of dangerous roads....I'm amazed at just how easy it is to walk down one without glancing back. How often have you done this without realising until its too late and you can no longer see where you started?

Some time ago things were almost simpler for people, at every level!

Not only did you know where you stood socially, financially, but educationally, religiously and in fact within almost every part of life, there were clear frameworks within which you were placed. Even if you did your best to work your way "up and out" of which ever one you were currently standing in.

It doesn't take a genius to realise that this is no longer the case in the 21st century. What with a university education available for those who wish it, inter-racial marriages no loner illegal (in the UK any way), credit of all sorts often thrown at us from every side, and religion being sidelined more & more every year.

But my question to you is this...

Where does that leave someone looking for just a little guidance with their place in life? Which directions are the "signposts" facing?

What parameters can they now use to place themselves in their particular "human role"?  ... Or is there such a thing any more?

Have we begun to walk down the very dangerous road of losing the ability to identify ourselves from each other in an attempt to break free from stereotyping? Or have we set ourselves apart, truly started the levelling of the classes?
I'm not so sure.
To me it feels a little like running away from who we are. Maybe even hiding from reality...
Do we really want to talk this path, as once you start walking down it, it's very difficult to turn back.
The signposts are all pointing in the wrong direction...