…And Yet I Did!!!

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There are a long long list of things that I never thought I could do…and yet I did!!!

  • Work in cancer care
  • Be with somebody I loved when they died
  • Become a professional cook
  • Learn British Sign Language and become an interpreter
  • Be on stage in front of an audience of 15,000
  • Leave home!
  • Move to London
  • Sing in front of a live audience of strangers
  • Learn to ski
  • Go scuba-diving
  • Bake my own bread
  • Learn construction skills like plaster-boarding, roof tiling, and all aspects of decorating
  • Learn how to use a marble paint effect
  • Walk twenty-two miles in one day
  • Run for ten miles
  • Swim five metres across the swimming pool
  • Swim two miles along a river (outdoor swimming)
  • Teach other people how to swim
  • Help to cut the toe-nails of sheep
  • Drive a Mercedes Benz
  • Fall in love again after my teenage sweetheart and I broke up after nine years
  • Train a team who had never wall-papered before so we could complete the decorating of a venue in one day
  • Become a professional gardener
  • Learn to mix cement to make mortar for brick-laying
  • Travel to construction projects all over the country on my own
  • Dig an oil-tanker out of the snow
  • Leave my well-paid job in finance
  • Qualify to be an international volunteer
  • Write poems
  • Start a blog-site

When I was a child I was lively, yet painfully shy at times. I liked to read and write and play sports and climb trees. I was a great swimmer. However, outside of that I did not think I was very talented or capable. I did not think I had the potential for anything much. But life is full of surprises,

I learnt not to be afraid of change and new situations. I was very secure living in the family home I had grown up in around people who had watched me grow from birth. Leaving home was a frightening. I learnt so much about my potential and my ability to learn and be trained. I also realized my parents really had taught us every life lesson we would need to guide us with new decisions. I found myself in situations I never imagined myself in and experiencing things I would never have even allowed myself to dream about. There is a very long list of things:

“I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD”, …and yet I did!!!

I found it very hard to decide which of the subjects listed to write about, so I will just mention one situation. I worked at the head office of a major retail chain for eight years. From the age of eighteen to twenty-six. I worked there part-time, but I was paid a full-time wage (that was because I was doing the same amount of work that two full-timers used to do before). Because I worked part-time, I was able to spend a lot of time on voluntary projects for various charities.

Newbury2I was invited by a friend who co-orinated many projects in the south of England to move to a part of the country where the cost of living was high compared to up north, and therefore there were not as many volunteers. There were a lot of projects in that area waiting for more volunteers. When I handed my resignation letter in to my manager in the finance department I worked in, she asked if I had a source of income arranged in the south. My plan was to move and then apply for jobs. She made sure that the company I worked for very kindly helped me to relocate to the south of England and arranged for me to have a part time job in a neighbouring town to where I was living.

It became obvious very quickly that the journey to and from work was epic. I was travelling for longer than I was working. I gave in my notice and started to apply for other jobs in finance. But I only saw full-time roles advertised. That’s when I was offered a job as a private cook catering for a household. My reaction was: “BUT I CAN’T COOK!” They laughed and said I would be fine, they liked me and trusted me. They even gave me a cop of Delia Smith’s famous cookbook and told me to read it and refer back to it whenever I was in doubt.

I absolutely loved working as a cook. I cooked and baked everything from scratch. I learnt so much. It really boosted my confidence. I realized I did not ever want a desk job again. From then on I preferred physical work where I could learn new skills. I also found how much I loved being in people-orientated jobs and working out in the fresh air.

Again and again, I found myself earning my “bread and butter” through work I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD do…and yet I did!!!

LIFE CAN BE SUCH AN ADVENTURE!

This post was in response to the weekly writing prompt created by Sarah Elizabeth Moore.

Please feel free to create a post of your own and pingback to Sarah’s original prompt below:

Writing Prompt #2

There Is No “I” In Team

Doctor, Patient, Clinic, Consultation

I keep on thinking about work. I am in a good place mentally about work at the moment. It can be extremely stressful and demanding at times, but right now, I am coping just fine with that. That’s not always the way. Some weeks, I am so exhausted I come home and curl up wishing that I never ever had to go back there.

Some times, I feel as if I end up doing all the least popular tasks. I don’t mind. I really don’t mind what I do at work. We are all part of a team. I have felt as if some of my teammates were just so stressed and under so much pressure more and more was being left for me to do. I am happy to sort out all the time-consuming, faffy, frustrating tasks and get paperwork finished off so the decks are cleared.

But over time, it has felt as if some of the team began to view it as my job to sort out the rubbishy tasks. I still don’t mind doing those tasks. But what I don’t like the idea is any of the team feeling there is some pecking order and they take on the more “glamourous” tasks. I don’t think anyone is doing it. But I do sometimes notice a spirit of “this is your job and that is my job”, whereas the truth for the most part is that we all need to be able to multi-task and be willing to do whatever is asked of us. Not completing tasks sometimes makes it harder for someone else to come along and work out what we have done and not done and fill in the gaps without a clue.

It’s not really a big issue….it’s just….the way I see it is that we are a team. I don’t believe in individual glory at all. I believe that as a team we work together. All have strengths, all have weaknesses. All are working hard. Some are particularly effective in tasks that mean we meet targets. My boss has sometimes singled me out because of the “results” I obtain in some areas. I feel uncomfortable with that, partly because of having a dislike to personal praise. But partly because I don’t want others to feel discouraged. I don’t want competition amongst the team. I perceive the team as a group of humans, with hearts, that might be close to breaking.

Doctor, Nurse, Healthcare, Hospital

We all have good days and bad days. We all need to be aware that sometimes our colleagues need a little more kindness, or more understanding. When we are tired, we get whingy and start to feel as if the odds are stacked against us, or we are working harder than everyone else.

I don’t know….I just love the people I work with. We have been under so much pressure and so much stress. But for me….I don’t think wages or glory compensate for kindness and love. Some of my colleagues might not see things that way. Some want a lot more than 1% as a reward for all their hard work. Others want to be given praise and verbal appreciation or perhaps promotion. We all want to feel needed. Everyone is needed. We just are different. As a team we are especially amazing. For most of the past year there has been a tremendously supportive spirit amongst the team. I want that to stay. I don’t want anyone to feel undervalued and unappreciated.

That’s one of the reasons why I guess I am happy to take on the rubbishy tasks – because that’s my way of saying to my teammates – you do the work you find more rewarding, I’ll do those annoying tasks no one seems to want to do. I’ll do them because they are part of the work we do as a team. They may be rubbishy….but we have to make sure they are completed as a team. But I am not doing them to win praise for doing rubbishy tasks. I am doing them because we are a team – and I want the team to be happy and enjoy their work. I don’t want anyone to dread coming to work, I don’t want anyone to go home feeling bitter. I want all to know that as a collective – we are really really remarkable – we have been all year.

Be A Worker, Not A Shirker

window cleanerMy dad is a wonderful man. He has his faults, as do all men and women. He has even made one or two mistakes in the 36 years I have known him. But I have to take my hat off to him for his reliability, his faithfulness. Seven children to provide for. He just kept going up and down that ladder day after day. He never let himself get overwhelmed by his responsibilities, he may have had a grumble at times, but he kept doing what he needed to do and most of the time he did it with a friendly wink and a smile and a sweet little chuckle. I am sure I will share many wonderful stories about my incredible parents and how many lessons in life they have taught us.

Right now, I am going to tell you about one aspect of my childhood I am quite proud of as I look back. During our school holidays, we often had to go to work with Dad. Since I was born, Dad has been a window-cleaner. I have very fond memories. I remember having the job of carrying “the little ladder” and always had some “scrims” in my pockets (they were the cloths used for mopping up water from sills etc or for cleaning Georgian window panels). Dad gave us tasks so that we felt useful. During a day of window cleaning we might carry things, or wipe any sills we could reach, or hold back plants away from the window so Dad could clean them easily. Sometimes Dad would ask us to run ahead and ring the doorbell and when the house-holder opened the door we would politely tell them, “the window-cleaner has almost finished and he says it is £6.50 please”.

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Some of Dad’s customers have seen his little ones growing up. We were the most famous crew of window cleaners in the town – a father and three little girls invading neighbourhoods to leave windows sparkling. At the age of five or six, I used to wear red wellington boots and a green woolly bobble hat.  One day I lost my bobble hat and was very tearful about it. Dad allowed me to join him on the Friday evening when he visited any customers who had not been home that week to collect any payments they owed him. I asked every customer if they had seen my green bobble hat. Imagine my relief when one lady said she had found it in her garden and had recognized it immediately and had kept it safe until the window-cleaner came again.

ice-cream perfectionSome of Dad’s customers were very kind to us. They might invite us inside to play with their children, or sit us on their sofa and allow us to watch a cartoon film. We were well supplied by Dad’s customers with juice and biscuits.  They would even give us some money to buy sweets.  One lady gave me £1 and told me it was ice-cream money.  Dad crimsoned in embarrassment with my reply to his lovely customer.  I held out my hand and said to the lady “have you ever heard of a thing called inflation?”  Don’t worry…I now fully comprehend how cheeky I was!  At the time, I was just trying to communicate my frustration, because back then it cost £1.10 to buy a Mr Whippy ice-cream with a chocolate flake and raspberry sauce and sprinkles from the ice-cream van…which at the time was the highest form of ice-cream perfection!!!

I have known some friends and workmates who were from families who were clearly more comfortable financially than our own.  In some cases, a lot of emphasis had been placed by their parents on achieving educational results.  Some of my friends were never asked to lift a finger around the house, just to concentrate on their schoolwork.  Those are all fine things in a way.  It maybe that having more money, owning more possessions, accruing educational credits are gauges of “success” to many.  But my own definition of success has various other markers – learning to love, being a worker, not a shirker, qualities like kindness, respect, patience, loyalty, honesty being your qualifications, and very importantly…can you share?  Can you see that you are not the centre of the universe?  There is an amazing human family with an exciting array of things to teach you and who want to enjoy life and this planet with you.  The more you can share, I think the greater your potential for happiness.  It’s ok, it is never ever too late to learn.  Everyone can change their personality.

I am proud though that my Dad, and my Mum have taught all of us children to be workers, not shirkers. It is one of many valuable lessons in life I am deeply grateful for. We still gained excellent results at school, we were all in the top sets for all of our subjects and won the highest grades for our work.  I won several swimming trophies and medals.  I won a trophy for winning a maths competition for the school.  But school was just school.  Life was outside school.  We all had to help the house-hold run. Seven children! Lots of work.  I was an excellent dish-washer.  I also used to wash the family car each Saturday. As we grew older, more tasks were assigned according to our capability.

Almost everywhere I have worked, I have come across a diverse mix of workers and shirkers. It does often strike me that in some of the individuals I have met, there is such a sense of “entitlement” that has been fostered and sadly not a hard work ethic. An attitude of “the world owes me” and “I don’t need to get out of bed if I don’t feel like it”. And what on earth is going on with phones in the workplace? The workers are run off their feet trying to keep on top of the work that needs doing, the shirkers are unable to master their personal mobile phone addiction. I find it hard to understand. I wish everyone had the chance to go to work with my Dad during their school holidays and learn how to be useful. You see all sorts as a window-cleaner!!!

Life – some have had challenges and trials that have seriously marred their enjoyment of life.  But I do believe that for most people work should be enjoyable, working should bring some satisfaction. I love any kind of cleaning for that reason. Instant gratification, with very little stress. It also keeps you in great shape. I think I have become averse to certain types of work because I saw such rampant dishonesty practiced and such a mercenary spirit dictating culture. Sitting at a desk job is to be avoided because it will be bad for your physical health. I have done various types of work over the years. Each role gave me valuable experience and satisfaction.

SheepI have worked in finance, as a receptionist, administrator, legal secretary, gardener, cleaner, laundry, cook, driver, painter/decorator, I have cared for terminally ill patients and those with dementia. I have cared for ponies, chickens, pets, I have walked dogs – (£15 per hour for each dog in case you were wondering – and that was what the clients offered, I didn’t suggest that rate). My favourite job…we had to chase some sheep around a field and gather them into an enclosure. Then we had to turn them upside down on their backs so we could cut their toenails. Poor sheep! Although, it is important for their health apparently.

Then there is an even longer list of different skills I have acquired and tasks I have been assigned as a volunteer on various projects. The unpaid work I have done has brought me immense joy and has enriched my life.

I love variety. I love being outdoors. The thought of being chained to a desk all day frankly terrifies me. I love work. I am so glad my parents taught me to enjoy work, to be a worker, not a shirker.

I Had Piles!

kiddoThose first few years out in the world of adults were an education in themselves in toughening up generally, and learning about interacting with these grown men who seemed to regard me as a woman. Maybe that was the case legally, but I felt as if I had only just left school and wasn’t really ready for adulthood at all. I still don’t think I am ready yet. It also seemed the pace of life made it very difficult to try to figure out what was going on around me, especially when it came to interacting with men.

I had become easily embarrassed because of all this male attention that sometimes seemed to be due to my being tall-ish and having long-ish golden hair and an ample bosom, I was having so much success in other areas, but when it came to men – well in those days I realized I was easily flustered.

blondieFor a short time, I held an administration support post within the fashion industry. One day I was assigned a task that seemed simple enough: take this list of codes and go and find each of the garments (in the massive “development” store-room that housed them) that they belonged to. When I started though I realized this was going to be a laborious and very-time consuming effort. I was checking hundreds of tiny codes on labels and not finding the matching codes. It took me a couple of hours just to find about eight garments. I had several pages listing codes, roughly thirty codes on each page.

Now one of the men who worked within the company had become a popular topic of conversation amongst the women in the office. He had been given a big role within the company. He was extremely physically attractive, bronzed skin and many other eye-catching features, wealthy (due to success in business), drove a very flashy car (he was not much older than 30 so he had chosen a very sleek sporty number) and at that time lived in a nice pad in an exclusive area. It had also been mentioned in the media that he was now single again.

women gossipingCan you understand why the women who worked on the same premises began to bring up his name again and again? It all seems so ridiculous looking back and I am sure many of them would see that now. But I was a young woman who had been raised with respect for others, and now hearing this conversation confused me (and sometimes shocked me).  I have never liked gossip, it is one of the huge drawbacks of working in offices or any workplace with a large team.

Anyway, one of the ways in which I was effected was that whenever I passed this gorgeous specimen of a man, I was more nervous than before. I think it is fair to say that without any real substantial reason, knowing nothing of his true character and qualities, I was over-awed by him because of what others had said about him.

So, that afternoon I was still alone in the “development” store-room.  I was feeling rather dejected by my lack of progress and overwhelmed at the task ahead. There were rules about this store-room. Although there were a couple of secured doorways, those with a security swipe card were not to use the store-room as a short-cut (which it would have been). You were only to go into that store-room in connection with a work assignment – otherwise their was a lot of potential for employees to steal the latest designer clothes that were in stored there.  I heard one of the doors open and then slam shut, floowed by loud, quick foot-steps. A moment later I was surprised to find him right in front of me enquiring as to whether I was alright. Of course, that had not been his reason for entering the store-room (he was probably using it as a short-cut) but he had noticed me and came over. I remember nowgorgeous man that he really did have a beautiful smile and he was very friendly to me. At the time – I was just so glad to see someone. Although I felt nervous around him, this was overcome by my feelings of desperation at my predicament.

So, I told him the task I had been assigned and said that it was taking me “ages”. He took the paper-work from me. For the next few minutes he looked over the codes on the top sheet and pulled out another ten or so garments. He knew his work that well that he could see a code and recalled the garment it referred to. I was pretty hopeless staring at him and thanking him each time he handed me an item that he had matched. Anyway, he worked his way through all of the codes on that top page. I was so grateful I could have hugged him, but because it was him, of course I couldn’t. (By the way, I do prefer to think that he would have helped anyone in my place and it was a wholly unselfish act of kindness on his part to give a young woman his time and help.)

When he had finished, he asked me if there was anything else he could help me with. My words: “I’ve got piles”.  Now of course I meant the remaining pages of codes and of course he knew that too, but he could not resist it…He said “sorry I can’t help you with that – it’s going to have to be the doctor love.”

At the time, I was mortified. Later, I knew he was only teasing and I realized he had just given me fifteen minutes of his time to help me, all the while bestowing on me his beautiful smiles and his kindly chatter. (I have often thought that if some of the women in the offices had ever known I had been on my own with him for fifteen minutes, in a rather isolated and confined space – well that would have led to a lot more talk perhaps, and have given them easy opportunities to tease me frequently.)  He…had every right to give me a little tease after showing such kindness didn’t he?

nervousLessons learned: try not to be over-awed by fellow humans especially when you don’t really know anything substantial about them. When you are over-awed, try to keep your composure and think about the words that come out of your mouth because otherwise you may embarrass yourself yet again. When you do embarrass yourself and someone can’t resist teasing you – often they are truly kindly and don’t say what they say to be cruel, they just love a little laugh. 

Being able to laugh at your own mistakes is a fantastic asset. Never forget that what really makes a man or a woman is the qualities in their heart which will spill out all the time.

Icky Sticky

When you don’t foresee an icky sticky outcome, and look back and try to figure out what on earth happened.

chalk and cheeseA situation developed within a work setting: There was a male colleague. I don’t want to be unkind, but to say we were like “chalk and cheese” is a very kind way of expressing how little attraction there was on my part for him.  Not just NO, more NEVER EVER in my mind.

On a few occasions, we worked together. As with most work mates there was a degree of non-work related chatter. Some of it fell flat because we were bringing up subjects that were of little interest to each other. Of course, I don’t know what his perceptions of me were at different stages of our being workmates – I can only relate what my own perceptions were and the basics of what caused the icky sticky outcome.

You know I can’t bear to be unkind about people.  It would be unkind if I related details. But it was awful from start to finish. You can use you imagination if you like, but I don’t want him to be the target of any kind of ridicule. There is a part of me that would love to give you a description of him so that you can understand how very much polar opposite he was from me in so many ways…but I am afraid to be unkind. A lot of his animated conversation included his enthusiasm about how much alcohol he had managed to imbibe at the weekend, and then graphically detailed descriptions of the effect that had on him.

When I am conversing with anyone, I have a natural tendency to seek out common ground and points of agreement and build on it. I don’t go out looking for points to disagree on. He mentioned he had been a vegan for some-time. I asked lots of questions as this was a subject I was interested in. In general, though there were few areas of mutual interest.

swearingIn some areas, we had different habits of speech. At times, he had been using language in a manner that I perceived as vulgar (I know that for some people they have been surrounded by “swearing” in their family life and other aspects of life, but I haven’t, I have been raised like a princess) so there were occasions when I actually walked away from him to escape his presence, because the use of his language made me feel like someone was punching me. I know he would not have realized that. I hinted at times that his language was colourful. It didn’t seem to affect his speech. He was not the only member of the team that threw around words that some like me would find offensive even if we know it might be due to an ingrained habit and not a deliberate intention to cause a reaction.

I didn’t want to conflict with a workmate by expressing myself more firmly. But it did make me desire to avoid chatter with him at all. There were other more personal habits of his that I won’t relate, as I would feel unkind, but I know my overall impression of him at the time was that despite his being a human being like me with imperfections but the capacity for positive and negative thoughts, feelings, behaviour – I preferred that we remain strictly work colleagues who could do exactly that – just work within the same premises. Enough of a rapport to make working together possible.  I was never impolite, but I didn’t relish the occasions we were working together.

Imagine then my reaction to a few female colleagues who when chattering with me repeatedly asked me about my view of him. I chose to share a positive comment on an aspect of his work. In time though I became aware that other workmates were encouraging him to “set his cap” at me. Somehow, either from him having a more favourable impression of me that I had of him, or from other workmates encouraging him, or whatever else contributed to the situation – he went on to ask me out for a drink.

asking outI hoped that the reasons he had for choosing to do so were casual and my choice to decline (which I had the right to make) would not cause any significant disappointment. I didn’t want to add any reason to my saying no. Maybe I didn’t give the perfect reply but I wanted to be kind yet firm. So, I said something along the lines of “thank you for asking me but I would prefer not to.” Some people may have said “I am busy” but that could have led to “what about next week?” to which I would have still had to say what I had said. On the spot, I chose not to confuse matters with anything other than my choice which as I said was in essence “thank you but no”.

Was that the end of it? In male/female interaction (or often any interaction with people you have limited understanding of) it’s rarely so straightforward is it. From then on, I noticed a marked difference in his behaviour towards me. I don’t want to be unkind and relate details because I think he would regret some of what he said and did. I continued to be polite. I had the same objective I had all along which was just to be able to work together effectively. But to say it was a very icky sticky outcome is really an understatement.  I started to become quite fearful of being in his presence at all.

Later, when I reflected on the situation I could see that I hadn’t understood the effect I had on him, only the effect he was having on me. Other than asking enthusiastic questions about his being a vegan there had been very very little dialogue between us. I worried that at the stage he decided to ask me out for a drink maybe there were some feelings on his part that had raced away a little. That’s probably natural because I guess most people would have some kind of feelings to go and ask someone else out?

For some be with someonepeople, they find it easy to ask casually and accept the answer one way or the other. It is natural to have a desire to be close to someone of the opposite sex, to have someone special, or to just not like living alone – all natural and healthy feelings in themselves. If someone feels very strongly and maybe they feel frustrated that the fulfilment of those desires seems elusive, maybe they have experienced some pain. Maybe there was something about my physical appearance, personality or reputation that appealed to him. He never told me if that was the case and I am glad because if he had expressed any such opinions it still would not have changed my answer. All I know is that whatever had gone on in his mind (which I will never know) his behaviour changed significantly. I can’t bear to feel I have caused hurt to someone. I could see he may have had enough disappointment or embarrassment to affect his behaviour.

Anyway, if I told you more of the details you might laugh, but I don’t want to be unkind about him. He is a fellow human and I don’t want to diminish his dignity.  The temptation is there, believe me, to share how he behaved after I turned him down, but I don’t want to cause any damage.  I genuinely hope he has had better outcomes in asking women out since I turned him down.

Lessons learned: Always act like a princess.

You can’t always be sure of what is going on in your own mind. And of course, it’s often hard to know what is going on in someone else’s mind. If we did maybe we would all find it easier to make decisions about our speech and conduct. Maybe we would be alarmed and rush in too soon, rather than just allowing time so that feelings become manifest by words and actions and then respond appropriately…and hope others do so too.

Sometimes we receive a surprise we were not expecting and don’t deal with it perfectly.  You don’t owe anyone anything except love of neighbour which involves giving them respect, dignity and kindness.  Although some people have judged me as having a heart of gold and a desire to please, at times there are very good reasons why I can conclude and communicate the answer is “thank you but no”.

Job Interviews

Job interviews….!  Ay ay ay!!!

I don’t mind them really… I don’t really feel nerves, but afterwards I do sometimes cringe at the awkwardness.  It’s a bit like going for a blind date.  You don’t really know what the other person is looking for or comparing you to.  You sit there in the judgement seat while the other person seems to be analysing every word and gesture you make.

I have been for a few interviews recently which were 95% OK, however when I think back analytically, I realize I may have blundered by choosing the wrong words at the wrong time.

Job interviews

One interview I went to, I thought went well, except for the point I made of saying I had to be available every Friday to help my landlady.  The job is for two days a week on Tuesday and Thursday, however they want someone who is available to cover holiday time, and the most popular day for holidays is Friday.  When I first moved met my landlady, she wanted me to be available every Friday and Saturday, but she was flexible and thus all year I have helped her on Wednesdays and Fridays. So I expect she will be flexible if I change my job so long as I am available for at least one day mid-week and so long as I am able to accomplish all the tasks she needs help with.  So, there was no reason for me to make a fuss about Fridays.  But I said something else which was worse.  After the interview, the manager took me down to reception and we chatted a bit more.  She mentioned her back pain.  I asked her briefly whether she had had an injury and when she mentioned being in bed and reaching for something on the bed side table and feeling her back strain… I then alluded of the accumulative damage from lots of small incidents.  I came out with the phrase “the straw that breaks the camel’s back”.  As soon as I walked out of there I suddenly thought, did she think I was calling her a camel?

Another interview I attended, I know now that my period of notice to my current employers was too long for him to wait.  But I also remember at the interview asking him if he receives a lot of complaints.  When he asked what prompted my question I came out with an explanation in which I clearly insinuated that people who are wealthy from the south of England are more likely to complain about silly things.  That may not have gone down well either.

One interview I attended made me feel super uncomfortable.  The interviewer asked me what I would prefer to drink… wait for this… red or white?  His first question to me was, “are you married?”  As the interview continued I realised all of his questions had been personal, none of them were about the role he was hiring for, or my work experience.  I tried to steer the conversation around to the job itself, but he was not interested.  I asked him about uniform.  He said he likes women in skirts and dresses.  Which would not be a problem in itself, but I did not like that he cast his eyes up and down my legs. I had to travel to attend the interview of which he was aware.  He offered to put me up that night if I was tired, so I could travel back the next day.  I thanked him and made it clear that would not be necessary.  As I left, trying to repress my desire to run like the wind, he gave me a peck on the cheek and assured me he would be in touch soon.  Scaaaaaarey!  I blocked his e-mail address as soon as I was home.

Then I went for an interview when because of the relevant experience I had they asked me if I would be interested in the role of supervisor over a team of around fifteen to twenty.  To which I asked, “is the supervisor allowed to actually do any work?”  I then explained how much I love practical work, and I have been on construction projects were supervisors were discouraged from getting involved with practical work but were told it was there responsibility that every member of their team was trained, safe, with the right PPE and equipment, had to liaise with purchasing about needed resources and the site manager and other departments about all sorts of matters.  I said I love the kind of work I am applying for a role for, but the thought of having to motivate a team of tired, unenthusiastic youngsters who are addicted to looking at their phones repels me.  Then my interviewers spelt out the wages that supervisors receive compare to team members.  I replied that if they can’t find anyone else suitable I would consider the supervisor’s role.  Ha!  I am sure that impressed them – NOT!

I arrived at another interview and within a couple of minutes I realized that rather than the part-time role at a site twenty minutes walk away from my current abode, the manager was considering me for a full-time post almost an hour away via public transport.  I can’t even remember what his first question was, but I remember with shame my reply.  I told him that I have to think about myself and my own personal circumstances.  I said I want to simplify my life, not complicate it.  I told him that I had applied for the part-time role close to where I live because I want to squeeze more time out of life and get our and enjoy living rather than feeling trapped in an existence which is monotonous and unfulfilling.  Some how…he seemed to respect my honesty and by the end of the interview I thought I had almost charmed him into giving me the part-time role.  Apparently not!  I never heard back from him!

Then there was last Wednesday’s interview.  He interviewed me for over an hour and it seemed he was quite keen on me as a candidate.  There would be a lot to learn, but I mentioned how much studying I have done within my current role and that I have a much keener interest in construction trades over medical matters.  He seemed very positive.  But then right at the end…he said to me that he thinks I am very suitable for the role and he thinks I am looking for a career and he can offer me that chance.  Immediately I contradicted him!  I said I am not looking for a career.  I told him working for money is just a means to an end.  The end is a purposeful enjoyable life.  I said I enjoy work and give my best, but I am looking for a role that allows me to enjoy more of life, and that a key part of my life is unpaid voluntary work.

I seem to be calm and composed in interviews but also capable of throwing in something controversial or hard for my interviewers to swallow!  What is all that about?

I don’t really mind…if I am not what they are looking for, it is fine.  Just as going on a blind date, you can realize whether there is any potential or if it is more likely that there would be friction and frustration.  Sometimes when I hear I have not been successful after an interview, I almost feel relieved as if I have escaped a miserable existence.

 

What A Week!

I think….I think that this was probably one of the toughest weeks at work since the start when we were all baffled back in March 2020. It was real tough. I won’t tell you everything that happened – but I will say this – when your adrenaline levels are so high for so many hours for so many days – it is exhausting!!!

I have pretty much done nothing except sleep, work and tried to make time to eat. It has been intense and at times we felt like we had lost control. But even when things are a nightmare – we keep going. We keep going.

I was shocked to come home on Friday and to see a well-known billionaire being interviewed on the news by the staggering amount of money he has spent on launching a rocket into outer space. I found myself filled with annoyance. “GET REAL!!!” I thought to myself. There are so many people who need some help to cover their basic cost of living. Why is he wasting all that money on something so ridiculous?

Oh dear! I was so cross with him.

In other matters – it has become more apparent than ever this week because of what we have seen that the vaccine really is just one string of the bow. The vaccine, testing and social distancing will need to continue to work side by side for several months to come. You cannot have one without the other.

If you have had the vaccine or if you have already had the virus you will have some protection if you come into contact with the virus again. However, you can still breathe it in and carry it within your airways. You can still test positive for the virus. You can still carry it around in your nose and then breathe it on to another person who has not any protection because they have not had the virus and/or they have no antibodies because they have not had the virus before.

So for some months ahead – vaccines, testing and social distancing have to continue to work in tandem. We cannot abandon any of those yet. Never forgetting the basic foundation that we relied on throughout 2020 – good hygiene and quarantine for those who have symptoms – two basic foundation pillars of modern medicine which were recorded in the Mosaic Law over 3,500 years ago.

Please understand that we are in the eye of the storm. Do everything you know you need to do to keep yourselves and other safe.

If You Could See What I Can See When I’m Cleaning Windows

WINDOW CLEANING – arguably the best job in the world!  Today…it is my job to clean all of the inside windows of this beautiful five storey house.  I don’t normally stop to look at the view so much but already today I have gained a great deal of inspiration for future posts.

Right now…I want to tell you about one of the most loved window-cleaners in the whole of England…MY DAD!

Window Cleaning

(No…my Dad is not George Formby…if you are not sure who George Formby is, then either scroll down to the bottom of the page, or listen to this very famous track on YouTube.)

I mentioned in another post that during our school holidays, we often had to go to work with Dad.  Since I was born, Dad has been a window-cleaner. I have very fond memories. I remember having the job of carrying “the little ladder” and always had some “scrims” in my pockets (they were the cloths used for mopping up water from sills etc or for cleaning Georgian window panels). Dad gave us tasks so that we felt useful. During a day of window cleaning we might carry things, or wipe any sills we could reach, or hold back plants away from the window so Dad could clean them easily. Sometimes, Dad would ask us to run ahead and ring the doorbell and when the house-holder opened the door we would politely tell them, “the window-cleaner has almost finished and he says it is £4.50 please”.

window cleanerSome of Dad’s customers have seen his little ones growing up.  At the age of five or six, I used to wear red wellington boots and a green woolly bobble hat. One day I lost my bobble hat and was very tearful about it. Dad allowed me to join him on the Friday evening when he visited any customers who had not been home that week to collect any payments they owed him. I asked every customer if they had seen my green bobble hat. Imagine my relief when one lady said she had found it in her garden and had recognized it immediately and had kindly kept it safe until the window-cleaner came again.

Dad’s customers were very kind to us. They often invited us inside to play with their children, or sat us on their sofa and allowed us to watch a cartoon film. We were well supplied by Dad’s customers with juice and biscuits.  They would even give us some money to buy sweets.

Dad’s customers loved him and his little team of helpers.

Now…my daddy is 72 years old…officially he has retired. However, he still goes window-cleaning for one or two days a week so that he can afford a holiday in the sun with my lovely mum once a year. (Their last holiday abroad was in March 2020!)

72 years old!  Not only is he still window-cleaning, but he goes to the gym three times a week…he uses his free bus pass to get to the gym. I love what he does when he is on the tread-mill.  If a younger man starts on the tread-mill next to him, my Dad will start “racing” with him. I have even seen my Dad lean over and nudge the arm of a complete stranger on the neighbouring tread-mill and call out “I’ll have yer a race!”  Better still, he is usually the winner.

Which makes me smile for so many reasons.

Working for wealthy people has made me wonder many times:

There are people who who sit at a desk all day and then pay a monthly gym membership fee to try to keep in shape. My Dad has been going up ladders for all these years and he is incredibly fit. It is only since he has started to received his pension that he has decided to join a gym.

I have often observed that there are some people who “own” huge and beautiful houses…who don’t really spend much time in their homes because they are at work paying off the mortgage. Whereas their house-keeper spends many hours in their home and knows every nook and cranny of it. Some house-keepers cook for hours in a top-of -the range kitchen that their employer has paid for, but never even heated a tin of tomato soup in themselves.

Then there are the parents who have children who they hardly ever spend time with. The nanny is bringing up the children. Now, I am not talking about those who have little choice about this – due to circumstances. Some parents have to work so many hours just to provide a roof and food and clothing for the family that a baby-sitter or nanny is an essential part of the team. But I am talking about some of the super-wealthy I have worked for, mum is off to have her nails done and go to yoga and Pilates and a shopping trip and lunch with the girls…and the nanny is with the children. I saw this day after day and  I always found it a bit odd. I am not sure what the point of that is.  Is not the point of having a child to be able to teach them and shape their little minds and hearts them with all of the wonderful lessons in life that you have learnt? How can you do that if you see them so infrequently?  Who is there to take the child to school? To care for the child when they have chicken pox? To listen to the little one pour out their heart about their trials and tribulations at school? Why – the nanny! Respect to nannies everywhere!

walking dog.pngNow this is one of the oddest situations I have been in that still strikes me as kind of hilariously upside down. I lived for a few years in an idyllic location. Six months of the year the owners of a stunning estate would travel. My job was to live in their huge and frightfully luxurious house.  I was not paid a penny to do so, but neither did I pay any rent or bills. I was “security”. I was allowed to view their home as my home. I was allowed to swim in their swimming pool each day.  I was allowed to use their tennis courts whenever I wanted to. I was able to walk their dog throughout their woodlands and meadows. They wanted me to drive each of their five cars to make sure everything was alright with them. Even better, I was allowed to have my friends over. They wanted there to be people coming in and out of their property to deter potential burglars. Of course I did also have to make sure that if anything went wrong that I contacted a plumber or an electrician or the vet. Other than that, my only work was cleaning up after myself. I was heavily involved in voluntary projects so this living arrangement suited me perfectly. But it did seem incredibly ironic…there were young professionals in the area who had been through university and obtained top degrees and were now working hard in their chosen career…they could only afford a tiny bedsit.  I was working on an unpaid basis for charities and then earning my food money with a couple of cleaning and dog-walking jobs…I was living in luxury. The owners of that estate trusted me with almost everything they owned.

Window Cleaning with Dad has definitely taught me to think outside of the box. His example has taught me that if you are reliable and diligent and industrious and most of all a TRUSTWORTHY worker…then rather than worrying about climbing a career ladder…

…well…let’s just say: “If only you could see what I could see when I’m cleaning windows!”

PS…Did I almost forget to mention George Formby? The very inspiration to this post!!! I was listening to it today when I was working away cleaning the windows.

Another blogger – hold on moment…let me get her name right…Thechaoticmind…she has a post listing a great selection of five songs that will cheer you up on any day…below is a link straight to her site…I loved her choice of songs – perfect pick-me-ups for any down day…

….but I would be pleased to make George Formby number six on the list…are you rolling your eyes at me???

https://thechaoticmindandmore.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/five-songs-through-generations-to-get-you-through-your-worst-days/

Letting My Hair Down

I love wearing my hair down. I love it. I have only been to a hair salon once this year – August, so my hair is very long again. This year I have worn my hair up, clipped tightly for work. It feels so strange. But we have to have our hair tied neatly for work.

I love coming home from work on Saturday and literally “letting my hair down”. It is such a great feeling. Jack will spend Sunday with me and then he is going back to his on Monday to get ready for his journey up to the Lake District. He is going to make the most of the time with them.

We will be connecting via technology during the week to come, but I am working right up until Thursday evening – so he can only catch me in the evenings.

I just want to say to all the lovely bloggers who are so kind to read and comment on my posts – work has been intense during December, this past week has been nuts. We are doing alright – as a team – but the pace is fast and furious. So I come home from work and just collapse. I know it is effecting the time I have to read your posts and comment – I am sorry if I appear unappreciative. I love the bloggers on WordPress. I have lots of CARAMEL’S CORNER Book Reviews in my drafts folder to finish off. They will resume in January.

For the next week or so…I am going to be working like crazy and then at the end of the week, I finally get to let my hair down for three days in a row!!!!!!!!

Preparing For The Cold

Pretty, Girl, Smiling, Happy, Woman

Normally each spring I pull out my summer clothes from storage bags under by bed. My winter clothes are taken out of the wardrobe and folded neatly to be packed away for the summer months.

But this year…I didn’t fully do it. I was working six days a week. On my day off I was busy cleaning and doing coursework and talking to family. I didn’t have chance to wear my beautiful summer dresses and sandals.

So here I am…preparing for the cold with my woolies still in the wardrobe…as they have been all year. Sad really.

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Did you know that all three parts of THE LEARNERS AT LOVE SERIES are now available on Amazon in both Kindle Connect and Paperback formats. If you click the box below, it will take you to Amazon ❤

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