365 Day Blog challenge Day 97 – Spreading Joy #365daychallenge

I do love my self help books and in Be Happy by Rebecca Ray she mentions Joy; creating joy, spreading joy, sharing joy. So in honour of that today I am going to do a list of all the wonderful things that have happened this week:

  • It started off bad as I’m still going through that up and down mood swing from death anniversaries however it’s wonderful to know you have the support of your team leader when being a ‘mardy arse’
  • I’m still asking questions of strangers and it’s turning into some amazing conversations. I actually think having the intention to talk to people has possibly changed my body language because people I think are also approaching me more too
  • I practised ‘visibility’. I stood up in front of my full team meeting to offer feedback on a team building exercise. Normally I leave these things to others so I’m not noticed. AND I went and stood at the head of the table to do it rather than read off some notes. MY senior-est manager also singled me out for praise on handling a difficult piece of work and I was given a £25 voucher in reward of that.
  • I had good conversations with team mates; sharing stories and thoughts I normally keep to myself or my closest friends
  • I have really stepped up with my walking this week, beating my target every day
  • I had an impromptu trip to the park to enjoy some (cold but) wonderful sunshine.
  • I put out to the universe I’d like an abundance of money and have so far this week found 29p. I probably should be more specific next time….
  • My acts of kindness was to go with my friend to the hospital for an MRI scan and giving a small child my duck food at the local park to feed the birds with
  • Four of my too small work shirts now fit

I don’t think that’s bad for 6 days (I’m starting from Monday). The power of positive thinking brings wonderful results 🙂


365 Day Blog challenge Day 96 – Technology #365daychallenge

Yesterday our boss sent us a link to a video about how we now live in a digital world where everything is online. Just before he did that I was looking at a meme t about living on a desert island with no technology access. I was thinking yes I could live on the island and it would be wonderful and how I’d be on the side of the rebellion wanting less technology.
Then I took a pause. I was sat on the bus at the time and prior to seeing both of these I had my kindle open (Although I do prefer books I have about 1500 books downloaded on the kindle) before deciding I was going to listen to Spotify on my phone (digital music on there and ITunes replaced my CDs which replaced my vinyl). My bus ticket is a barcode on my phone and if it runs out I can use contactless payments with the wifi on my bank card. I was on my way home to eat a take away my son had ordered online and to watch a TV programme I’d taped months ago.
And all the while my watch was counting my footsteps and calories burned.
When you pick it apart like that I’m not so sure why I was outraged when I saw the video. I actually think now I’ve had a few hours that we don’t realise how much we actually rely on digital products. I remember as a young teenager how excited people were to get a 4th TV channel, now we have thousands of programmes at our fingertips. I also remember rushing home with my best friend to test a CD as my step-dad was the only person we knew who had a CD player and marvelling at the sound quality (before we learnt how easy they were to scratch)
The video was sent via Whatsapp. Again who ever thought that we could watch a video on our phones then send it to a group of people in one go. Then my colleague added in she’d met her husband online. Remember the days when you had to leave the house to meet someone?
And all that is just off the top of my head. There’s probably more technology we rely on if we really sit and think about it. So could I really give it all up and sit on a desert island for 6 months? I’m comfortable with my own company and quiet. It would be harder to pack up my paper books rather  than grab  my kindle (and how would I charge it?). The only music would be from the birds and other animals. And I hate cooking so how would I eat? Maybe I’d be eating a lot of fruit! I still think I’d like to give it a try. When trying to push yourself out of your comfort zone I don’t think we need a Bear Grylls mission in the jungle wilds but rather just hand over the technology for a week or try and live without any social media. That’s probably just as hard. I might try it – the social media anyway. It’s probably good to get away from something that’s so negative at the minute. I think I’m going to try something over the weekend.
What technology could you give up/not be able to give up?

365 Day Blog challenge Day 94 – Smile #365daychallenge

One of the challenges in the Flirtology book (by Jean Smith) is to smile at strangers. Smith believes everyone loves to receive smiles. She’s obviously never met a civil servant. There are about 2000 people working out of my building and I know maybe 20 of them so this morning I decided to smile at people on my way to my desk. The usual cheery security guard wasn’t on shift so no joy there. Then everyone else just either ignored me or gave me a filthy look. Good job I’m made of sterner stuff or I’d be quite offended.
It’s also been a morning of rudeness. The man sharing the lift got in first and just gruffly shouted ‘Floor!’ at me rather than ask politely which lift floor button he could press on my behalf. And the girl sat next to me on the bus reached out past me to press the bell, then stood up and waited calmly for me to realise and get out of her way. Apparently ‘Excuse me’ was too difficult. I know she could talk because she’d spent the entirety of the journey talking to someone on their phone. Neither of them are getting a smile then. Manners don’t really cost much and can make or break a persons day.
But I’m determined on this particular challenge to keep smiling (and as per other posts keep talking). I’m enjoying it and as I’ve posted over the last week it’s led to some interesting chats. And, I’ve found smiling more lifts my mood regardless of reaction. And as part of my self care that’s the most important thing

365 Day Blog challenge Day 93 – An Unexpected Mentor #365daychallenge

Today I went to say ‘hi’ to a colleague who I haven’t seen for a few weeks. Last month her mum died so I just wanted to see if she was ok. And we got talking, as you do. Funny how you can spend time with people and think you know them but then you reveal something of yourself and discover a whole new raft of personal information.

We started with what she was doing at the minute (EU regulations, very dull) moved onto historical dramas and then back to work where she mentioned thinking about trying for promotion. In the spirit of flirtology and having conversations with people I mentioned my development course. She gave me some interesting advice on my short term plans. As she is the grade above me it was good to get a different perspective.

But then I mentioned my degree. I kind of talk about this without talking about it much. By that I put a few bits on Facebook when it’s assignment time but otherwise don’t say too much. Apart from this blog and to maybe 2 people I’ve never mentioned the post graduation adult eduction plan. But she’s a nice woman to chat to and I found myself saying these things out loud.

Amazingly she has already followed this plan! We’re similar in age and while I started this journey at 39 she was probably about 30 however the principal was the same. An older adult looking at changing her career goals and then working towards the one I’ve chosen. For her, she did it part time alongside the civil service job and after a while she realised she couldn’t afford to leave the main job and after some curriculum changes she decided that was the one to let go.

But as we discussed, better to have the go, learn from it and decide if it is what you really want than get to retirement and have regrets. She had some good ideas for how to pursue my post-grad qualifications and the best routes for it. I even got some advice on the best uni’s to look at.

It’s funny how just a little question to pass the time can open up your whole world. I now have someone who understands my study woes as a working adult and the idea of having to work 2 part time jobs as study which is what I should expect in 2020.

So score another in the win box for flirtology and asking a question. Nope she wasn’t a stranger but engaging in a conversation rather than simply walking past has made all the difference to my day and left me feeling the motivation to keep going.



365 Day Blog challenge Day 92 – I Can’t #365daychallenge

According to my grandma there’s no such thing as can’t. Yet how many of us live our lives constantly saying and thinking I can’t, it’s too hard, I’m not good enough, I’m not clever enough and other variations on the theme?

 For context I’m writing this on a Monday morning. As has happened for many months now I get to Sunday evening and the return to work mood kicks in and on Monday mornings I’m just miserable. I’ve tried all my deflection techniques but at the end of the day I just don’t want to be here. The other week (blog Day ??) I sat in a development class and at least 80% of the women there (it was an all-women group) wanted to be senior civil servants, wanted to run their own commands and I just wanted to leave. I did come up with a long term goal which is in the earlier blog but that is about 3-4 years away and I need to look at where I am now.

I’ve spent the last few years bouncing around from one job within the civil service to another including getting a promotion and I’ve not really liked any of them. I’ve tried a few times to leave and even got a few interviews but then pulled out at the last minute because I think ultimately my subconscious knows that I’ll just be going into something else that I don’t enjoy.

So what do I do?

 Let’s unpack the I Can’t…

 I can’t change jobs as I have a debt repayment plan: Well actually this is flexible. If I lose my job and have to claim benefits the plan can be amended downwards, if I change jobs to a lower salary the plan can be amended downwards. If I change jobs to a higher salary the job can be amended upwards. The reality is I don’t want to take a big pay cut for a job that will make me miserable. I can stay with the job I don’t like and pay my debts earlier.

There are some options that I’d enjoy but they are minimum wage jobs that would not only drag out the debt plan but put me on the poverty line as well. While I’d like to eventually work in adult education jobs like teaching assistant simply don’t pay enough to survive. Not in my current financial condition.

So I really need to look at what  do want to do. In the long I want to teach/tutor adults with or without learning difficulties. Teaching assistant doesn’t work financially so I need to see what other jobs are available in the educational field.

I love books and do some unpaid work with reading. I’d love to find a paid job within the book world. I think again a book shop would be too much of a wage drop and I’d struggle no matter how much the flexibility of my debt plan. So I’d need to research that. What I do have through unpaid work with netgalley is access to a goof 100 publishers. There must be at least one job vacancy 🙂

 I get told I’m too quiet in this job and I need to make myself known. Looking at my visibility plan I think the issue here is I’m not in a job where I feel I can be myself and let my personality shine. I used to be very much a people person and loved chatting to people. Looking back over what I’ve written in the flirtology blogs about talking to people in terms of work I think I lost the ability (or smothered it) with the last few jobs. I need to get back into some kind of public facing role.

 So lots of work to do, lots of research. I have some ideas now need to follow up. Fingers crossed but most importantly I need to look at this as an I Can job search

365 Day Blog challenge Day 90 – #Flirtology and Books #365daychallenge

In Day 87’s blog I talked about the book Flirtology by Jean Smith and my attempt at asking a question of a stranger. Yesterday I was feeling down when I wrote my blog as I still had low energy from being ill and from the end of January to the end of March I’ve a bunch of death anniversaries which always make me sad. Tuesday was the 3rd anniversary of a good friend who died at the age of 51 of breast cancer. I’m only 5 years off that age and I always find it affects me.

So today was all about me. I decided to go to the local museum to see the Chippendale furniture exhibition and get some footsteps in. I also decided to use the books challenges and see what happened. The one’s I’ve written down to work on are:

  • Ask a stranger a question (the other day I used the ask for directions example)
  • Give a stranger a compliment
  • Smile
  • Look at deal breakers for a relationship
  • Build rapport with a stranger

I reckoned at the very least I should be able to smile at people. In typical fashion though I forgot it was half term and so everywhere was full of school children. Guaranteed grimacing rather than smiling…

In the museum shop I saw a couple of books but as I’m trying not to overspend I decided to pop into the library to see if the books were there and this unexpectedly ended up giving me the smiles, the question and rapport building.

After reserving my books I was looking at the posters on the wall regarding book clubs. There was a librarian hovering nearby so I simply asked what the books were for the groups this month. Yay for asking a stranger a question. This resulted in 3 conversations with 3 people about books and lots of rapport building and smiling. Plus me borrowing 3 books!

In the book it says a lot about how people will say that they never meet anyone and when you dig deeper they aren’t actually going anywhere to meet people. I’m definitely guilty of this thinking so when moving forward and ending the invisibility I need to go places. I’m not a partier anymore and art of that is I hardly drink now. It makes you not want to be stuck in a room full of drunk people. So it’s now looking at places I can go that suit my interests so I can start these meaningful conversations. Might as well start by going back to a book club.

But I’m pleased with today. I went out of my comfort zone but because it’s a subject close to my heart it didn’t feel so bad and I didn’t feel so nervous. It’s about conversing as much as flirting and there’s no romance in any of today but it made me feel good to be chatting, it made them feel good to help and talk about books and everybody got to smile.


Review of Flirtology can be found here kirk72.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/flirtology-by-jean-smith/

365 Day Blog challenge Day 89 – Plastic Free #plasticfree #365daychallenge

I’m not particularly a Christian but I do like following some of the traditions and one of my favourite ones is to try and give something up for Lent. I admit it’s usually just an excuse to try and avoid chocolate but seeing as I am now 48 days chocolate free this year I’ve been looking about for something different.
Flicking through twitter I found a post about going plastic free. I’m interested in the environment but as a beginner to making the right changes this list I saw is an excellent way to kick start some positive changes. Reading through the list (that I’ll post at the end of this) I’m quite shocked by the amount of positive changes I can make. I found some of the information a bit shocking. I think sometimes I’m a bit naive. I didn’t know that toothbrushes are never destroyed.
Seeing as Lent has already started I’ll probably not follow the 40 days but just implement the changes where I can. These are the points I found on twitter and are aimed at UK citizens but I’m sure there are alternatives to plastics if you live in the USA or elsewhere and read this.
Today on Twitter Friends of the Earth are launching #plasticfreefriday today which aims to introduce us newbies to less plastic as well as give the more experienced people a few new ideas. The ones below are credited to a post by @Amelia_Womack
  1. Bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic
  2. Toothpaste (you can get solid tabs from LUSH)
  3. Detergent – soap nuts instead. I need to look at this one because I buy my washing powder in the card boxes still rather than plastic tabs and due to my sons allergies we never use conditioners or other bottle based added extras in the washing so I may already be doing it. I need to know what the difference is environmentally between powder and these nuts. I also need to make sure they don’t trigger my sons allergies.
  4. Milk – you can still buy delivered bottled milk. I like the idea of this one
  5. Food – not buying plastic containered food, take your own containers. Buying local and try to pay attention to the packaging. I saw a picture of a local supermarket yesterday where they had individually wrapped bananas in a tray with cling film (saran wrap?)
  6. Sanitary products (look at environmentally friendly products).
  7. Water, tea, coffee – using your reusable travel mugs or making sure you have a cup at work.
  8. Toilet roll – you can still buy paper wrapped loo roll
  9. Tissues – use hankies (unless you’re ill).
  10. Deodorant – again to look at – I use bottled roll-ons. Can buy solid deodorant in some health shops and again LUSH
  11. Unpackaged supermarkets – these sound great and I remember a long time ago in Leeds market a stall that had giant bins of rice, cereal and so on where you paid by the pound. I used it a lot and was sad when they closed. I like the idea of these supermarkets doing similar. Lets hope there’s one in my area.
  12. Washing up liquid and household cleaners – Refill sachets. Never heard of these so one to research
  13. Soap – buying solid soap instead of liquid and therefor not having plastic containers
  14. Refusing the plastic straws and cutlery when eating in fast food joints, coffee shops etc. There was mention of using a wooden spork. Our work restaurant offers both plastic and regular metal cutlery. I always use the metal ones (and have my own set in my locker) so at least I’m getting one thing right out of all this
Is there anything you do to use less plastic? Any tips you want to share? What have you given up for Lent?
I’m going to start looking at my changes over the weekend and follow through until the end of March and hopefully beyond. Not quite the lent days but still gives me around 40+ days. Hopefully I’ll then have formed the good habits to continue (it worked with the chocolate so there’s hope)