365 Day Blog challenge Day 16 – Secret Santa 365daychallenge

It’s that time of year again where work teams and families plan for Secret Santa. Budgets (and themes) are decided on, names are drawn out of a hat and people start gifting.

Our work team have the usual one of £5 but the staff book club are doing something slightly different this year. We are doing a jólabókaflóð instead

This is based on an Icelandic tradition where people give books on Christmas Eve but we’ve added in some chocolate as who doesn’t like chocolate?

Well actually my pick 🙂

So books and biscuits (cookies) for the recipient of my gift.

It’s taken me out of my comfort zone a bit as the recipient doesn’t like any of the same books as me. What do you buy when you have no knowledge of the genre? I’m not at work Friday so will be trawling the shops looking for non-fiction books where you can learn about other people and places.

We also all agreed that we would accept second hand books. The beauty of this means you get more for the budgeted amount plus as in the UK that usually means buying from charity (good will) shops then some money goes towards a good cause too.

I really like this idea. I like to do something different and am thinking of putting forward a suggestion to my family to try this as well.




365 Day Blog challenge Day 15 – #Music Makes Me Lose Control 365daychallenge

For anyone who uses Spotify you will (hopefully) know about the Discover weekly recommendation feature. My son loves to pull this up every Monday and play me the songs trying to see if I can guess what they are. He’s autistic and loves music so this is for me, a brilliant way to connect with him.

Generally if you add a particular style of music to a playlist you find the new weekly set of recommendations to be further songs in that style. This week I’m almost positive I only added a random Nsync song yet my Discover list was full of late 70s/early 80s ska which brought back some lovely memories.

But then smack, bang in the middle of the playlist was Pomp & Circumstance by Elgar!

I love a bit of classical but I have no idea where the Spotify logarithms pulled that one from but it was great to hear it.

Music can open up so many thoughts and feelings. I love the recommendations, exploring genres and seeing how one tune makes me feel compared to that of my son. One recommendation sent me off on a 2 week binge listen of Latin American tunes.  Music can really transport you to another world and had the power to change moods and lift depression (mine anyway)

I wonder where the recommendations will take me next?

365 Day Blog challenge Day 13 – TV Part 1 #365daychallenge

I’m currently sat waiting for my favourite TV show Strictly Come Dancing to start (Dancing with the Stars in the US) and thinking about the 2 times I’ve attended a TV show taping.

The first one was waaaay back in the 80s when I was a teenager. My favourite band were doing a performance on a late night local TV chat show. We went down just to hang outside the studio and see if we could catch a glimpse of our heroes and maybe a photo or autograph. The shows presenter brought us all in to hang around the studio and we got to see the performance up close.

And then I never had another opportunity until last month. I saw a Facebook post advertising free tickets to a new singing contest so I put our names forward and off we went to Manchester. Very different from hanging around a laid back chat show to the glossy BBC competition. Fascinating to watch how it was put together.

You hear actors and actresses saying how much hanging around is done on set and there really is. In between each singer we had two lots of filming stock footage of the judges chatting amongst themselves.

The event itself was fun. It’s a new show were the singers are competing for £50,000. There are 100 ‘judges’ who all work in showbiz in some form. If they like the singer they press their buzzers, stand up and sing along. The audience are encouraged to sing along to everything regardless.

It was a lot of fun, getting up and singing along to pop songs and being an active part of the show. I couldn’t be a participant. Ignoring the fact that I’m no real singer they had to come on, wait a minute while the cameras positioned themselves (facing the judges all the time), be introduced then wait again a good minute while the music cued up. The audience have to be in total silence the whole time (until the singing starts). Those minutes last a long, long time!

Then after the singing there was more standing around whilst the compere ran around trying to get feedback from the judges. I don’t think my nerves would have coped.  And that’s all before someone says you moved them to join in or they felt no emotion in your performance. I admire anyone who can put themselves out there.

In the end we filmed for 2 and a half hours for only half the show; a total of 1/2 hour when it airs in January. It was a fun but tiring day for us never mind the people on the actual show. I loved it though and hope that one day we can do another TV taping – maybe without a gap of 25 years this time

365 Day Blog challenge Day 12 – Payday #365daychallenge

Yesterday was payday, today was all about buying the food for the month, food for Xmas, last minute shopping for Xmas presents so I don’t have to think about once the crazy shopping times kick in and that’s my day 🙂

Now I’m going to throw on some make up and hit the town for some team bonding drinks




Happy 1st of December

365 Day Blog challenge Day 11 – Putting Well-being First #365daychallenge

Last Thursday when I finished work for the weekend (I work 4 days) I left a section all packed up and ready to move to a different part of the office. Arriving back on Monday everything was set up however rather than having a desk we now had to ‘hot desk’ i.e sit at a free desk and everyday it’s a lottery where you end up.

This has triggered my anxieties up so much. I’ve not had office seating issues for about 5 years. At the  height of my mental health issues I’d have regular panic attacks if I didn’t sit either near a fire door, regular door, aisle or corridor.

This weeks return to stressing over desks has made me think about the ways I put my health and well being first at work. While I don’t want special treatment with desks and have good distraction techniques in place now that I didn’t before it’s still been a rough week.

So putting my health first I’ve made sure my manager is aware of my triggers and have voiced some of them at a meeting about how the week has gone and how we can improve the situation to make the new working conditions work for everyone.

As much as I don’t want to be known as ‘the one with the mental health problems’ I have to do what is right for my health and so hopefully next week will go a bit smoother.

So the weekend is now mine to de-stress and relax. It’s also my mums birthday so I’ll be spending time with her, doing lots of reading and catching up on TV plus if the current snow doesn’t get too bad a few drinks out tomorrow. Putting my health and well being first.

It took me many years to learn how to do this and it’s definitely one of my better decisions

365 Day Blog challenge Day 10 – The Impossible Dream #365daychallenge

I’ve run around so much today with work & some early Xmas shopping I’ve not planned a blog so I thought I’d share the lyrics of one of my favourite songs. There are many, many versions of this. I have two favourites; the first is Elvis at his Las Vegas best. The other is the first time I ever heard the song. It was my 19th birthday  and I’d gone to see an Indie band Carter: Unstoppable Sex Machine and they played it as an encore. For some reason there was an outbreak of hugging among the crowd. It just felt like one of those perfect moments and it’s a memory I treasure.

I hope you love the words as much as I do

“The Impossible Dream”

originally from MAN OF LA MANCHA (1972)

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not goTo right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

365 Day Blog challenge Day 9 – Team Building #365daychallenge

One of the roles of my job is all about well being and making sure the team are aware of support available to them and trying to create ways to bring them all together. Not as easy as it sounds as we are a team of 21 who are split across the breadth of England (and one in wales) so we can go months without all being together in the same room.

So how do we find virtual ways of team bonding (and ideas are always welcome!). Over the summer we had a walking challenge where everyone competed to walk the most steps. That was the first challenge and it appears we are a very competitive team and there was lots of friendly rivalry while people increased their health.

So over the winter I’ve created a scavenger hunt and the team will be split into groups against each other. I thought it would be a fun way for people to stay in touch especially if you work remotely with none of your team around you and it’s the bleakest time of the year.

Or at least I’m trying to. There are not as many scavenger hunt lists on the internet as I expected. I thought the internet had everything! Lots of lists on Pinterest which I need to check but our security systems at work block it so I haven’t had chance to look as yet.

I’ve almost got a workable list so hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be happy for us to go forward with the challenge.

It’s fun, I like it. I enjoy seeing what I can come up with to keep my teams well being positive. It;s something I’d like to do much more of in the future