2017 – Be Excellent to Each Other

I saw an article yesterday that said 130 celebrities had died this year. I may be riddled with flu but I was stuck naming more than a handful besides the few that died this week. I’ve seen arguments on both sides about how much grief one should have about a celeb death and how much with that grief has.

On the other side, sadly I can name more than a handful on my Facebook friends list who have lost family and close friends (and I’m including the pets in this) which is  a bit more close to home.  While it’s sad for anyone to die these mean more to me because I’m seeing my friends (no matter how long it’s been since I saw them last) suffer.

Facebook and Twitter seem to be awash with negativity and various polls, elections and votes have given results that have stirred up anger even more to the point that people are viewing this as one of the worst years ever. I’ve seen the twitter posts stating 1939-1945 were probably worse which is right but sometimes I think of social media as a hive mind of doom. Bad news and misery seems to be following us everywhere. There was a twitter moment regarding some good things that happened in 2016 (mostly animals coming off the endangered species) but in less than 48 hours it’s gone and we’re back to misery and political tit-tat.

We really need to kinder to each other. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t best friends with a celeb, if their lives touched you grieve away. Better than keeping the crap bottled up and struggling. If you don’t like it, unfollow that person on FB for a few weeks. Then let it all go back to normal. Let’s help each other out. If someone is upset (for any reason) give them a hug; offer them tea or just sit and chat. As someone who has suffered with depression for many years sometimes this is all a person needs.

And then maybe we can spread that to people outside our social circle. But in the secret altruistic spirit of George Michael let’s not tell anyone! Don’t tell us you gave Bob the homeless guy you’re filled free coffee coupon. Post some articles or write a blog on the plight of the homeless instead. Don’t tell us about your volunteering somewhere – raise the profile of that charity instead. Let’s share the different ways to volunteer and help people rather than making it all about us.

(However if you’re after the money for charity, promote away. I may be doing that again if I decide to do the St Gemma’s Midnight walk again.)

We need to make 2017 a year where we’re not counting down the hours wishing it to end but one filled with as much positivity as possible that we’d be quite happy to do all over again the following year.

Let’s just be excellent to each other x

Achievement Jar

About 18 months ago after a bit of sulking on how my life was going I decided to keep an achievements jar rather than a gratitude jar. I’ve emptied it today to free it up for my 2017 goals and thought I;d take a look at what I’ve done

Self Employment

I’ve given some thought (and written a few blogs) on setting up as self employed. I was pretty much ready to go then got a promotion in my day job so decided to put everything on hold to get to grips with the one that pays my wages. Hopefully at some point in 2017 I’ll revisit as everything is set up to do so and I enjoy it.

I found in the jar:

  • I qualified as a EFT therapist
  • I qualified as a crystal therapist
  • I qualified as a Angelic Reiki therapist
  • I’ve almost finished both my Business/Life Coach diploma and when I find some enjoyment again for it my hypnotherapist diploma.
  • I’ve started a course in CBT
  • My house was redecorated to enable me to work from home. I got the insurance and all the equipment.
  • I got a promotion.

There are also some Get Out of Debt achievements in the jar:

  • I gave my debts to Stepchange and set up a repayment plan
  • I read Marie Kondo’s de-cluttering book and too action by de-cluttering the house. I went through my precious bookcases and gave up any book that I did not love and would not read again, I traded them in and used the money to pay towards bills
  • I did the same with the shed and my wardrobes. I took part in a number of car boot sales and made myself a little money.

It’s not a huge list but it’s still god to be able to look back and see some of the good things I worked on in the last year. I’m looking forward to seeing what will go in the jar in 2017

Getting out more…

A few months ago I decided I needed to get out more. I’d just got a new job with a bit of extra cash and so it seemed like a good idea to re-start life in a few different ways. 

Well so far I’ve mostly pottered around the country; sometimes through wortk and sometimes through coach trips but that’s it. I’ve done nothing else. Looking back at various things I’d done over the last few years I realised I’ve only been to the cinema four times in two years. For someone who used to go twice a week that just shocking. Actually twice a week is shocking too but I had a monthly pass so got my monies worth (or not depending on the film) but I digress.

It’s all got me thinking – what is “getting out more”? Tweny years ago this woud mean more pubs and drinking and while I still could do with some of that I want to talk to people, meet new people and chat in a  civilised manner. So how do I do that in this age of technology and people being more interested in their phones (or so it seems). Therein lies my problem. 

I’ve made it my mission to see at least 6 films at the cinema next year. That won’t fix the problem but it’s better than waiting for DVDs and just talking to myself. I have a few female friends who will happily sit in pubs on their own with a drink and a book. I’m the type of person who won’t go in a pub unless  know someone else is there already. I was that fashionably late person for years for that very reason. So start small; baby steps – I will spend more time in coffee shops looking cool, mysterious but approachable 🙂 And probably not my local supermarket cafe or Mcdonalds. Not being snobbish but it’s not normally the place for lounging away an afternoon even if their teas are cheaper. 

I’ve also been looking through our sport and social catalogue. I’ve found a craft club which looks interesting but I carry enough junk around with me on a working day without adding knitting needles and wool. That’s a maybe. Then right at the bottom I saw we have a dance group! I do love me some Strictly Come Dancing so I’ve emailed them to see what kind f dancing and is there any lessons. Now though is it “getting out more” if it’s still on work premises?? Do I have to revise my wording? 

I was going to some book clubs but had to give them up as they clash with my new work hours. I might look for another one or maybe I’ll reset up an old one I used to do with a friend. I haven’t looked into that properly yet. But what else? What do people do these days??? Time to get my thinking cap on. Any ideas most welcome

How work and debt can ruin self esteem

I’ve recently been trying to work out why my self esteem is low and how to re-build it. I couldn’t think of one particular obvious trigger that set it off so I revisited some old blogs and diary pages to see where things went wrong.

I’ve decided now it’s a combination of several terrible (previous) bosses and my debt issues. I’ve written before about recently gaining a promotion and the traumas of the 2 years before that. I was angry at the world when I applied. I was in a lot of pain, I felt no one was listening to me and had finally been put in a position where I felt I was going backwards professionally. My goal had been to write my competencies, try them out on a few applications and then use the feedback to try again. My esteem was low enough that it never occurred to me that I was good enough to get the first one I applied for and that’s exactly what happened.

Life has done a complete 180 since. I’m in a team where development is key; people listen and encourage and let you have the training your request. Frankly it scares the shit out of me. Suddenly instead of fighting to prove myself someone believes me up front and I’ve been terrified of getting it wrong.

I am calming down. It’s been three months, I’m still here and working on projects that I enjoy, travelling and meeting lots of new people. Some of my favourite things. I’m slowly starting to accept I’m where I should be.

It’s also led to a few other self revelations. During a three week training course awy from home we ate out as you have to do, we had drinks in the pub and a good laugh and it made me realise I’ve stopped going out. Yes I have days out & a monthly meal out ( see my other blog travelpalooza.wordpress.com) but I couldn’t tell you the last time I went to see a gig, had a girls night out and I think I’ve only been to the cinema once this year.Or simply sat in the pub with a friend. I’m in serious danger of turning into a hermit.

A lot of that is down to debt. First I was in an absolute mess trying to balance everything (and failing) and now I have a debt plan. It leaves me with a limited amount of cash each month. Scared of making an even bigger mess I’ve simply stopped doing anything. I don’t have enough to go out on the town several nights a week but I can do more.

Having little money though does affect your esteem. Not being able to join in you start to feel your not worthy enough to be part of anything. Especially if you already had mental health problems. Turning events down because it might mean a new dress and you can’t do it and the ones you have don’t fit any more. Or because you’re sick of being the only one nursing a pint of diet coke all night as that’s all you can do.

Don’t get me wrong. I got into this mess, I’m working on getting out of it but it destroys so many things.

Having the promotion I still have a debt plan to pay but I have enough left now to do little things. I can sit in the pub for a few hours with a friend and have more than diet coke. I’ve started wanting to feel better about myself and my appearance rather than not caring. The other week I out my earrings in for the first time in a couple of years and wearing a bit of make up. Hopefully I can make some more changes. I’m not going to be shopping in Gucci but I can buy a few more clothes that make me feel good about myself.I feel like I’m finally going forwards in life and it feels good

New job, new positivity

I am now two and a half weeks into my new promotion. And what a difference those 12 (working) days have made! The funny thing is way back when I wasn’t even sure if I should put the application in my self esteem and motivation was that low. However I also knew that the only way to change the situation I was in was to push myself; put the application in and see what the feedback was and act on it. Luckily for me the feedback was a new job.

I’ve spent so many years being told that things cannot happen for ‘business reasons’ (such as sideways moves). It’s very hard to get out of my old job unless you are promoted. But here in my new place they actively encourage changing teams to prevent boredom and stagnation. In the first 3 hours of my new job my manager was discussing the best way to get competencies for the NEXT promotion.

And that’s where the biggest change has come from. I feel like I’ve gone from small to big thinking. Whereas this promotion seemed half impossible and if achieved possibly my ceiling. Now I’m at the bottom of the next ladder looking up at so many choices. Yet I’m actually still working for the same company.

I’ve also felt motivated to do some more things for myself. There’s a gym and swimming pool onsite that I will look into once I finish a training course that will take me away from home until the end of October. I’ve put my name down to join a walking group. I try and walk 8000 steps a day as a minimum and have always fancied ‘proper’ walking so figured why not?? There’s also a knit n natter group for my more crafty side.

And to capitalise on my new big thinking I’ve joined the works library (based in London – they post the books to you) and got my first coaching book on mistakes women make that sabotage their careers. Yes careers – I have one and want to push it further which seemed impossible six months ago.

It’s astonishing what change can bring when you let go and decide to see what happens.

The road to promotion

Next week I leave my job, take two weeks annual leave (vacation) and then on the 12th September start my new job, a promotion I didn’t think I’d ever apply for.

It’s been a rough 2.5 years preceding this. January 2014 I started a job working as a community work coach coaching people into work and supporting those who were in recovery from drugs and alcohol and homeless/housing issues. Three weeks into the job I found out, at a jobs fair no less, that my real dad was dead and had been for a couple of years. I was devastated far more than I expected as I’d been brought up by someone else. But the idea that you’ll never see someone again, never fix the rift between you, never forgive them (to their face) or talk to them again – that hit me hard. Two weeks after that news my step-uncle died and a year later one of my good friends lost her battle with cancer. That one broke my heart completely and I still miss her and talk to her most days.

In the middle of all that my son had a breakdown during university and spoke of suicidal feelings (he’s recovered now). I nearly lost my house, my debts were so unmanageable. February 2015 my boiler burst ruining my ceiling and carpets. The insurance I’d been paying for years turned out to be worthless. We had no heating or hot water for six weeks. It cost me more to fix the problems in the end than it would to have just bought a new boiler.

So depressed child, broken heart, broken boiler, mounting debts. It’s no wonder I had a breakdown of my own. I managed while off ill to get the boiler sorted, my debts sorted with Stepchange and put my child on the road to recovery. So it’s all good right???

Then I got ill!! I already suffer with sciatica, I had childhood arthritis which has been dormant for many years (only mild pain) but coming back and finally I started with sharp pains in my shoulder. Months of doctors visits and some physio and I was diagnosed with a trapped nerve, something like but not quite a frozen shoulder and RSI down my left arm! You know because why have one problem when you can have five!! Good job I have a sense of humour.

So at Easter when I moved teams to try and make life a bit easier physically I was in a very fragile state and feeling really sorry for myself. But I try and be positive and look at how I could start to turn my luck around and decided I was going to just go for it and apply for the promotion exercise when I saw it. What’s the worst that can happen? I stay with a team that were friendly and supportive and get on with the job in hand. Not really a hardship. But with some coaching and guidance I put my application in and several months later here I am – a week off a major change.

I really do feel like this is the beginning of some golden time. A new challenge, a few extra quid to pay of those debts and to be able to relax about various things. It’s been a long hard slog but finally everything seems to be on the up and while I’m still in a little shock for the first time in years I’m looking forward to what happens next xxx

Behind Closed Doors

When not blogging and trying to do a part time degree my day job is as a community outreach worker for unemployed focusing on those with housing and homelessness issues with other people with general vulnerabilities thrown in for good measure. It’s a varied role that sees me pottering around Leeds and connecting with all walks of life and as a general rule I love it.

I think though I’ve become a bit complacent in the role. Over the last couple of months I’ve had an influx of under 25’s on my caseload. These young people have for various reasons found that they can’t go home and are sleeping on various sofas across the city. Some have found they have issues managing money and have lost homes, some have fallen out with family members, and one sadly has parents that can’t understand having a gay son. But they are all coping fine, most have moved onto supported housing or shared housing and we’re moving forward.

Today though has been about meeting new customers and with them has come a whole range of horror stories that has left me wondering what is wrong with this world and humanity. I’ve seen kids fleeing violent parents, child sexual abuse, mental breakdowns, extortion and a guy worried about his 15 year old niece potentially having her child taken off her. Yes just 15 and a mother. And that was just before lunch!

This afternoon I met a Portuguese girl, just 20 and new to the country. She has come with legal custody of her 14 year old brother. They are currently sharing a sofa of a friend’s studio flat. Their violent father is in a Portuguese prison and mother is also back home unemployed with 5 other kids to feed! Whatever your feelings on immigration the fact remains that this poor girl wanted to better herself and has found herself lost in a sea of housing and schooling 9for her brother) bureaucracy and no idea of how to move forward. My phone call on her behalf to one council department suggested she walk into a local school and ask to register her brother. She barely managed to explain herself to me – asking for school applications papers and a copy of the Ofsted report is a bit beyond her. Luckily they are willing to offer support so we have one issue starting to resolve itself.

One thing I noticed though is my emotional resilience to these things is improving. A few years ago I started counselling training and would get upset even just listening to role play examples. I would take too much on board. My empathy levels are quite strong. I was probably too close to my won breakdown to be strong enough to handle other people’s traumas. Today I am still empathetic and while I was still thinking about how to resolve some of my customer problems (who to talk to, training options and so on) I found it easier to unwind than I have. A trip to Nando’s with my son and some cheesy movies brought my stress levels back down to normal (as normal as I’ll ever be!)

Tomorrow’s another day as they say and I wonder what it will bring