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It’s all about the countdown 

Sliding towards 50

In 253 days I reach a HUGE milestone birthday……. 50. This doesn’t fill me with as much dread as those of you not in such close proximity will imagine.

This is me. Hello!


Over the weekend I had an epiphany. I woke up on Sunday morning, stupidly early as normal, no remnant of a prosecco hangover (miracles do happen), and read an inspirational blog. I can’t even tell you why it sent out a call to action to my 04.30am self but it did. 

I had already set myself the usual lose weight and get fit goals, but this blog was about ‘The Life List’. So I started mine. I thought, I’ll brain dump whatever comes to mind, sit with it for a few days and see if it remains relevant, I’ll then review and add. So it’s got nine entries so far, we are in the review stage. These nine don’t represent my top nine and aren’t even ones I will  complete prior to my birthday but they are keepers.

Another strand to this Sunday morning epiphany was the way I work and this formed one of the nine entries. I read  another post by a hugely talented writer Alice Judge-Talbot on ‘Portfolio Working‘, this time in her Telegraph column (I’m main lining Alice at the moment forgive me). It smacked me straight in the face as an obvious aspiration. So plans started forming in my pre-dawn brain, muddled but all the same …. plans. This blog is the start (and also another of the nine). I struggled for a good 24 (maybe even 36) hours on content. Out there in the blogosphere competition amongst the young, the beautiful, the fashionable, the most hygge, the motherhooders and the fashion bloggers is fierce let me tell you. I don’t fit into any of those categories (although at points in my life it could be argued that I have) and it would be exhausting to try and fake it till I make it, so I’m doing this for ME. For my 50th year. Because if I don’t? I’ll never know if I could. 

Dear diary…..

It’s a standing joke at work. A colleague was going to start writing a diary of her dating exploits this year. It hasn’t happened but frequently at the end of a day someone will pipe up with ‘Dear Diary… what a day….’. It’s all a bit Victorian, pure and innocent.

In my diary, if I wrote one, would be the irritations that occur during my day. It’s interesting to consider what really ignites fury in one person can barely register on another’s scale. Personalities, the full spectrum of difference between the types of personality has long been a fascination for me.

As a company we have personality profiled all of our employees. Sound odd? It’s actually not. We found that in our business we were asking very different personalities to perform duties which were so far out of their comfort zones that they ceased to be effective (or just fizzled out). Taking a look at who we had working in our business we discovered that it was like flogging the proverbial dead horse asking some personality types to do business development, and conversely a very high risk exercise asking someone who isn’t detail-driven or tolerant to spend a while finding out background information or getting to know the personalities of our clients. We use DISC profiling but of course there are many others and as with most things, consistency is key.

Thinking about the different personalities of people you work with isn’t a massive stretch but starting to think about the people you love more in terms of what type of personality they have is different. It’s so easy to think of them just in their direct role and how you know them. In the last couple of years I have started to think more about introverts. This is going to sound really bad but until 2015 I laboured under the misapprehension that an introvert was someone who was just really quiet and probably longed to be an extrovert. I know, ignorant. I was recommended a book by Susan Cain – Quiet, and it really opened my eyes (although I confess I still haven’t finished it). I learned about two introverts who are quite close to me and started to recognise ways that I was behaving that was very difficult for an introvert to deal with and I started to manage the way I communicated and what I expected depending on who I was interacting with.

However hard you try, some personality types are just never going to fit with your own, or maybe that’s just me? Some personality types I generally find just jar against me and I struggle when the emotion is absent that would be attached to someone say, that I was related to who was a hard-to-get-on-with personality! Sometimes, it’s hard to be objective about those close to you. I always want to get under the skin of people I meet. I instantly want to understand people and I probably waste a fair amount of time doing this where perhaps others would have a ‘zero f***s given’ attitude. Some people just do not want to be known though, they have a mask in place whether that be a work-mask or just one that generally says ‘back away lady’. Ok, I’ve come to accept the I can’t be everyone’s friend and that is part of MY personality that I need to curb, or at least care less about.

I’m fascinated to watch the personalities of my children develop, knowing that they will evolve in a continuum for a lifetime. I feel resolute that the grounding they have had and the influences so far will stand them in good stead for future externalities. I have been proud recently of the way my daughter has dealt with a difficult situation with her father. She is able to be far less passionate than me when trying to get her point across, way more rational, very succinct and supremely just. Never one to be arrogant enough to think I cannot learn from others, I think I will take a little lesson from her and her calm, measured approach in my next explosive situation!

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So back to today, …… Dear Diary.…. it really has been a fabulous day!

 

For the love of running

Running, once you’re out there you’re committed (keep telling yourself that)

Let’s start with a reality check. At this point in time I do not love running but it is singularly the most beneficial thing I do. 

I started running on 6th December 2014, I remember the exact date because it was the morning after my work Christmas party where I had been so hammered my husband had driven to pick me up to find me slumped (just about standing), against a Georgian pillar outside Anthropology in Bath and once in the car it had taken a good five minutes for me to locate the seat belt clunker thing into its socket. 

I’d wanted to be a runner for ages, to be able to slip the words ‘on my run this morning’ into conversations, to chip in  witty running anecdotes when amongst a wheeze of joggers (I found that collective noun here!), to explain away a nagging limp or tight hip as a ‘running injury’…. but….. every time I’d tried to run I just couldn’t keep the pace up in the past. So this one morning I said to myself that I would just go at such a slow pace that I could sustain it. And sustain it I did for 3.74km. I was ecstatic and I was now a runner (although ‘jogger’ is perhaps the more accurate term given my pace).


I’ve long lived by the (as it turns out wrong) adage that it takes three weeks to make or break a habit, and it worked for me. 

It should be noted that there was a massive influencer to my upturn in fitness which definitely drove my otherwise lacking motivation. Through the ensuing two and a bit years both running and influence have waxed and waned but most importantly remained. I was advised early on to register for a 5km race to set a hard goal to work towards, advice I duly ignored but which on reflection was excellent advice. I did however go as far as to register for Parkrun and still receive their lively emails to this day although have never got as far as turning up to a race fearing my pedestrian pace embarrassingly slow for such an event. 

After a winter break from November 2016 to 1st March 2017, I am back at it, building up for some better times again and full of hope that I could perhaps enter something. I should really set that goal, maybe a fun run not a race.

Exposure or expression? It’s all semantics.

I’m two blogs in so really I’ve only got my toes wet, and eager for feedback I’ve been asking those whose opinions matter to me to have a read of what I’ve put on here already and give me feedback. The results are in and it’s a unanimous vote of confidence for the LTTTE blog…… however…… yes HOWEVER, one question I been asked is why I would want to expose myself like this? When I have something on my mind it’s the thing that I spend my 4am time on. So here I am at 4.17am contemplating the exposing myself question.

Absolute top of my Life List always has been to own a horse (TICK).

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Second is to have a book (or story) published (NO TICK….. not even half a tick or a greyed out tick). I didn’t really find out until late 2014, early 2015 that writing was my ‘thing’ by which I mean it is both enjoyable to me and it seems to be well-received by the reader which in turn generated a feeling of worth and success inside me. I’d found it! My thing!

I was a broadly above average school student who has gone on to have a generally successful career but in retrospect there has been no particular direction or linear path to it. It has only been in the last 3 years that I’ve chosen to specialise in something professionally and found my focus personally. For some, a good example being my son, direction is so clear. A tiny maths genius even at primary school he is now in his fourth year of an MMath at Durham University and has just been given a place at Exeter to study his PhD in the field of algebraic number theory and arithmetic geometry (swear to god that second link could be in a different language), my point being he knows what his ‘thing’ is and it’s been blindingly obvious forever with him! Some people take the scenic route to get there – that’s me.

Sometimes motivation lacks, no matter how hard you try, you come up with a great idea but you just don’t have the energy to see it through. Or maybe you hit a bump in the road and lose momentum. Or maybe someone knocks you and you doubt yourself. These are all situations that can act as a success threat. Whether it’s luck, determination or just a following wind, my motivation and drive is ricocheting through me at the moment so undaunted by critique, time or doubt I am pressing on. I’m very aware of mortality, it’s a heightened state that makes me want to grab life by the neck or balls or whatever body part comes to hand first. Passivity is not an option or a route that I want to take.

I started two blogs before this one. One wasn’t suitable for the transparency of adding it to my social media platforms and the other was disjointed. I binned both. I don’t think being honest or revealing personal aspects of my life is exposing, if I ask myself would the person who I am writing about be pissed off if they read this? If I ask myself, is that how it really happened? If am true to events and to life then how can this be too much? I’m comfortable with what I want to say and how I want to say it.

Exposing or expressing? I choose the latter.

Daughters. Karma. Futures.

I’m a daughter (no shit Sherlock). But I’m a daughter who has living parents (ok I’m only 49, no biggie). I also have my own version (aged 15, may the god of hormones give me strength). I’m lucky because at the time of writing I have yet to experience the full horror of what being a mother to me at 15 was like.

Brief overview of my background: my parents split when I was 7 and my brother 5. My dad went off with another woman and my mum ended up marrying the other woman’s husband. Ok, I can almost hear the cogs….. yes it was the 70’s…… no I’m reliably informed there were no fruit bowls or coffee tables containing keys and no we didn’t have pampas grass in the front garden. So I grew up with only one of my natural parents. Not a massive deal. No. But the thing is I do fully appreciate that I was difficult. I struggled as a teen, and a lot of negative behaviours manifested that I shall gloss over here but it must have been tough for my mum, a woman who at the time I saw as a victim of my dad’s betrayal.


Fast forward 40+ years and it’s time to do something good. Of course I should point out that I’ve not been a bitch daughter for the ensuing four decades but following a mentoring session this week I came away with a mini action plan for 2017 involving my wonderful parents. So, I’m going to ask them to each pick three activities they would like to do with me (assuming here that they do actually want to spend quality time with their only daughter) over the remainder of this year.

I don’t just mean having coffee I mean ACTIVITIES. For example, my dad runs a walking club and very recently they did a Chew Valley Lake walk so I’m going to book a day off work over Easter and he and I will do this walk together. The first activity with my mum…… we are off to Durham! My exceptionally clever son graduates this year from Durham after a 4 year MMath so mother and I are having a mini break via our preferred mode of transport  – the train.


I’m asking them to come up with whatever they like and we will do it together. I’m building some more memories, making time for them, having things for us both to look forward to and plan together. I’m doing it because I’m way too busy to think about this usually and THE GUILT of that is GINORMOUS! At some time in the future time will run and my life mantra has always been ‘no regrets’.