Sunday, 29 June 2014

Last day at work tomorrow

I'm writing this now as I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow.  Upset probably, oh I don't know.......I might even surprise myself by joyously skipping out of the building (we all know that's not likely - I can't bloody well walk properly never mind skip).

I have little home made gifts for everyone because we couldn't possibly hold the traditional collection for a present, and all signing of the massive card.  You see, five of us are going - it would be impossible!  I've been saving my jars and cans for a while to decorate up into small flower vases, tea light holders, pen pots or make up brush pots.  I missed the opportunity to give them to the charity intended so I'm wrapping them as little parting gifts for the fabulous people that are my 'work family'.  Each and every one are special to me in different ways, for their humour, empathy, patience, kindness.  I will miss the camaraderie and banter, but as I mentioned in a post a few months ago, we group together with ex-staff and form The Happy Old Bags.  Can you imagine the lunches and the laughter????  There may be even more get-togethers than we have now.  I do hope so - I love a filthy innuendo and there's only The Happy Old Bags to appreciate that; we are as bad as each other.  Someone only has to mention Hugh Jackman or David Gandy's name and then it all begins!

There's a bit of resemblance between them.  Looks like we all enjoy the same type :-)

However, we've all agreed that it's going to be strange being at home all the time.  The others are a lot younger than me and will find other work, but our leaving tomorrow coincides with the end of the summer term and we'd all be off for 8 weeks anyhow.  Perhaps it will eventually feel like we're still on summer break, and just haven't gone back.  I think that's how it will be for me.  The others, I'm not so sure.  Some are angry at the circumstance that has brought about this redundancy situation, others are fairly philosophical, and I'm the one who doesn't give a shit.

Looks like I'm in a good place then!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Heineken 2012 The Switch / cinema version

This is Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes. The girls are from Australia, and everything they do is brilliant!

Not to mention this incredible advert - I could watch it over and over!

Monday, 23 June 2014

My last week at work

Since I made the decision just a few short weeks ago, the time has come round so quickly.  This is now my last week at work and it's really messing with my head.  You see, I think of retirees as, well - old.  That's not fair of course, as many retirees have done it early, and have gone on to forge new skills and interests, and made a life radically different from the one they had before, taking it easy and doing things their own way.

In a way, I'm taking early retirement - by just a year.  And I don't feel old in my head.  My body argues with me most of the time, insisting that I'm decrepit and doddery, then my head argues back and the two of them start a fight!!  How I love being caught up in the middle - it gives me licence to swear and curse like a fishwife.  It's all directed at my stiffening joints, my unco-operative foot and my argumentative hip.  I turn into Agnes Brown (you know Mrs Brown's Boys?) calling everything a "fecking bastard!"  Not that I'm anything like that Irish Mammy.  Well, not a lot.  Maybe a bit. Oh go on then....I admit it, I am.

So, my plans for the summer?  Well, first of all I have to get my foot injected with cortisone next week.   If they manage to hit the correct joint (please God they do!) then I will be pain free and my walking should even out.  This will also be the measure of  success that will guide them to doing the operation to fuse that affected joint (it's the tiniest little thing deep inside my foot).  Once I can walk better on that foot, then my hip will be less sore because of the stress its currently under.  Perhaps this could be the beginning of the end of my waddling days.  Hey, look well if I can wear normal shoes again......I'll be going shopping for some fantabulous, sexy and delicious shoegasm heels!

Fellow blogger Dorne Whale blogged yesterday asking Are You Young at Heart?  .  She read in The Observer (they have posh papers over at Whale Towers) about how scientists are of the opinion that our creativity and subsequent achievements are not hindered by the onset of old age.  Well, too bloody right! She went on to say that Clint Eastwood has just directed his first musical, The Jersey Boys at the age of 84. That's a great move on two counts as far as I'm concerned....

a) the guy's still got it - in every way (ahem!)
b) I grew up with The Four Seasons music and still enjoy it to this day

Do pop over and see Dorne and read her whole post.  For those of us who are of a 'certain age' everything will ring true.  She'll also make you laugh, make you think (she inspired the format for my post today) and bless her she's a fellow foul mouth so that's an endearing quality if ever there was one.

The prime comment for me in Dorne's post was the question about how many of us are becoming increasingly aware of the clock ticking away at the side of us.  It seems like one minute I was still at school, the next thing I remember was having two babies and an absent husband, a sick mum and an old wreck of a car.  At some point after that I had a flying career, now suddenly I'm plunging headlong into retirement. What's wrong with time?  Did it feck off down a black hole?  Has yours done that?  Bloody hell, I need to make haste if I'm to achieve all the stuff I promised myself.  I want an adventure or two, such as a holiday on a Turkish Gulet, or Greek island hopping for a start.  Finishing the office at home would be good too - I can see some of my redundancy getting spent on that.  It shouldn't be much, but factoring in a contingency would hike it up a bit.

Yes, time has a nasty habit of running away at an alarming rate of knots, and I'll lay bets you know that too, don't you?

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Dealing with difficult people

Sometimes when I come across a person who isn't easy to be around, my mind labels them as 'difficult'.  Well, its true, they are.  But are they difficult through choice?  They may not even realise.  For example, I have a friend who get on well with and who I love to bits, but I can't spend too much time with her because I end up exhausted with her negativity.  No matter how I try to filter some positivity into our conversations, her negativity wins over.  She has no idea she does this and as much as I'd like to tell her (well, screech at her if you MUST know) it wouldn't - a) have much affect, b) be fair to her.

Another example, in our local pub there's a guy who drinks in there who's nickname is Knobhead, purely because he talks what others perceive as total b*llocks.  Sure, he does talk daft and has an opinion on everything whether he knows about it or not.  He's not a bad person, therefore I think this is due to some form of insecurity.  Somehow in the past, someone will have got the better of him in an unpleasant way. It may even go as far back as childhood.  Maybe it's learned behaviour from his own father.  Who knows.  He probably has no idea himself.

I do by my own admission, suffer fools rather too gladly.  I don't let people put on me but I can tolerate the 'nutter on the bus' for the short journey.

However, I've had some difficult bosses and managers in the past who have made my life absolute hell, and I'm sorry to say I never felt any compassion for them.  The article below by J Elizabeth Young, makes interesting reading and made me think towards my regard for difficult people.  I looked back on my experience with those bosses and I can see their insecurities.  Despite that insight, I still don't feel much compassion. 

The staff at the UK Passport Offices might need the advice below right now.

What's YOUR take on this?
Dealing with Difficult People: 5 Effective, Compassionate Practices

“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” ~Eckhart Tolle
It’s morning; you’re in a great mood. You’re relaxed and have plenty of time to practice your morning routine. After a delicious breakfast you head out to start your day. Then it happens: you encounter a difficult person and your calm turns to calamity.
We all have encounters with people who prefer to stay miserable, making everything difficult. They exist, and perhaps there was a time in your past when you once where one of those negative people. Perhaps you still can be at times.
As a former miserable person I know it was my inability to handle my mental and emotional states that kept me oozing all over others. I felt so disconnected from life, living obsessively in my mind, that I truly felt helpless. 
Most often that helplessness manifested into continuous critiquing, judging, anger, and sometimes even pure rage. I was unwilling to take full responsibility for my relationship to life. I wanted peace, joy, and harmony, but I was unwilling to do the necessary work to experience them.
Difficult people are demanding. They demand something from the external world in hopes of filling the disconnection and restlessness they feel within. Whether they are demanding our attention, a certain action or reaction, or a particular outcome, the root of their behavior is a demand for something other than what is.
Difficult people haven’t yet learned to take responsibility for their whole selves—mind, body, and spirit. Feeling disconnected and restless gives rise to their need to argue, judge, critique, and tweak everyone around them.
Their inability to handle themselves adds fuel to the fire, which perpetuates their harshness.
Underneath their personality is a feeling of being separate and a desperate plea for help. We can’t change another and we can’t make someone want to change. The only way we can help is by being true to our self, finding our power within, and being an example of wholeness.
Here are a few practices I’ve found useful, loving, and extremely effective.
1. Be still and ground yourself. 
Naturally, when we are confronted with a rude, irritable, or irate person, we tend to avoid them. We think that if we avoid them they will go away, or at least we hope they will. The truth is that, although this may happen, it is much more likely that they won’t until we learn an alternate way of dealing with them.
Negative energy has a force and it can knock us on our butt, usually in the form of us engaging in toxic behavior. If we are not grounded, we may find ourselves arguing, judging, or stomping out of the room.
Making sure we are firmly planted in our body enables us to look the person in the eye and be completely present. It gives us the opportunity to remain calm and pause rather than engage in behavior we may later regret.
2. Look them directly in the eyes. 
Darkness—negativity—can’t stand light and more, so it can’t remain in the light. Looking someone directly in his or her eyes dispels darkness. Your light pierces through the superficial persona to their being.
When I practice this tool one of two things always happens:
·         The person walks away or stops talking.
·         The conversation takes a more positive direction.
We all want to be seen, from the cashier at Target to our spouse. Taking the time to look at someone offers them the greatest gift we have to offer: connection.
Try it as an experiment and see what happens.
3. Listen to understand. 
I find that whenever a difficult person confronts me, I automatically tense up and mentally consider my defense. When I am calm and open-minded, I know that I never have to defend myself, ever.
The most effective way to diffuse a difficult person is to truly listen to what they are trying to say, which means keeping my mouth closed and hearing them all the way through.
Whether or not I agree with them is irrelevant, and I certainly don’t need to let them know what I think. I can listen and get back to them if necessary such as with a spouse, co-worker or friend.
I find the following responses to be most effective:
“Let me get back to you on that.”
“You could be right.”
When a person is being difficult, it is because they are responding to their perceived reality rather than what is going on in the moment. Often times their frustration has very little to do with us.
I find when someone’s reaction seems over the top for the situation that repeating the same response diffuses the situation.
4. Learn when to be silent.
Some people are extremely closed-minded and impossible to talk to, but we need to speak to them. When I find myself in a situation with someone who just can’t hear me in the moment, I don’t force the issue. Trying to get my point across to someone that can’t hear me only escalates the situation. Sometimes the clearest form of communication is silence.
At a later time I can revisit the conversation with the person and communicate what needs to be said. Regardless of the person’s response, I can share my feelings and thoughts and let go of the outcome. Focusing on them responding a certain way only results in two difficult people unable to accept what is.
5. Be honest with yourself.
If we are repeatedly in a situation with someone who is abusive verbally, physically, and/or emotionally, we must stop trying to change him or her. If we find we are practicing a spiritual way of life and someone close to us isn’t changing, it may be time to get honest with our self and find out what is really going on.
The question of whether or not to end a relationship with a difficult person, whether a friendship, work or romantic relationship, can only come from within you.
If you can honestly say you have done what you know to do, have asked for help from a friend or professionally and nothing is changing, then its time to go within for the answer and trust what you find.
On the other side of a difficult person is an opportunity to grow.
No matter what we are presented with in life, we have an opportunity to choose more or less responsibility. Remembering that true responsibility is our ability to respond in the moment.
Of course, this takes practice and is not easy. However, as we take more and more responsibility for our life, circumstances and people lose their power over us. We learn to choose our responses moment by moment, no longer being dragged around by emotions, thoughts, or circumstances created by another or our self.
Photo here
Avatar of J. Elizabeth Young
J Elizabeth Young is most importantly a student of The Art of Living Inspired. Years of suffering ended when she discovered who she is. She writes about her journey that led to the recognition of One. She produces and co-hosts The Possible Podcast – To Achieve Things You Never Thought Possible found in iTunes, Stitcher, and Zune.

Saturday smiles for the menopausal

Here you go folks, I had such a laugh when I found these!  I hope they make you smile too :-)

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Where I go from here......the spare room?

Bloomin' heck!  Retirement.....that's for old folk, right?  Well it seems its for me too, this big life changing new phase.  Grumpy Trousers has a three year head start on me so he's well happy with his routine.  That I'm about to disrupt!

I think he sees my retirement as having a hand-grenade chucked into his world.  He wasn't happy for a few days until we had 'the talk' about what adjustments both of us were having to make.  I don't relish the thought of being with him 24/7 any more than he does - in fact the thought of it makes me cranky and I am fighting the urge to be rather unpleasant to him.  That's so WRONG isn't it?  But if he will insist on closing the bedroom window on a humid, sticky night the results are me heating up like a furnace with hot flushing and becoming itchy, witchy and bitchy.  All at once!

(image nicked from

Since his triple heart bypass operation three years ago Grumpy Trousers body temperature is much lower than mine.  I have occasional resurgence of menopause symptoms so am always hot.  Therefore, closing a bedroom window on such a night was bound to have a negative effect. He can always burrow under the duvet, but I can't get any cooler even if I'm bloody buck naked!  I huffily flounced off into the spare room, almost tore the window from hits hinges to get some air in, then realised all his crap paperwork was on the bed.  With one sweep of my arm, it scattered all over the floor in order for me to throw myself on the bed.  I shouldn't have been so worked up but (now, is this familiar to you yet?) being overheated brings on hormonal headaches that bang inside my skull.  In hindsight, I should have given myself a cool sponge down in the bathroom, but hormonal headaches prevent me from thinking clearly.  So in the spare room I remained, with a bottle of water and my Kindle, eventually soothed by a cool caressing breeze that gently wafted the curtains and sent me to sleep.

Grumpy Trousers misses me sleeping alongside him far more than I miss him.  He takes comfort from my warmth; but unfortunately I don't take comfort from his snoring, coughing, wheezing, belching and farting that keep me awake.

This is all pointing to separate rooms isn't it?  I don't want it to come to that.  Occasionally is fine, but even I would hate it to become permanent.  I'll compromise on the belching and farting, and the snoring at a push, but the coughing and wheezing needs to be addressed.

Guess who will be the one to ring the doctor?

Friday, 6 June 2014

A new phase of life

I've decided.  I'm retiring!

The decision to leave work a year early, while a bit difficult ended up being a no-brainer.  There are too many changes about to happen at work and my role is going.  A similar one with a new title will take its place but I’d have to apply and there’d be some retraining.  Definitely not worth it for just another year.  A small redundancy package is on offer, and my pension figures are on the way.

So a new phase begins.  For once I'll be at the top of my own agenda.  I've worked solidly for 47 years; 12 years full time before I had my elder daughter, sometimes doing volunteer work too, 16 years working for myself in direct selling, then a variety of jobs including temping, permanent, temping again.  I worked my way up in 'corporate world' to a really well paid PA role.  Not secretary you understand.  I did actually make it to Personal Assistant.  Sometimes I even worked at two, and even three jobs at once.  I even did happy stints at our local pub a couple of evenings a week.  I was always beavering away, never letting up with the money coming in.  Despite that, we were never that well off.  Better than some, not as good as others.  We fell somewhere in between.  Do you know, it's not until I've come to write about it that I realise just how hard I DID work!  I just got on with it.

47 years - good grief!  Where's the time gone?  I took stock of all the skills and experience I've built up over those years and they amount to rather a lot. I even cared for my mother-in-law for 5 years up to her death.  And STILL I worked as well.  So the skills and experience are in fact much more than I thought.  Even though I'm retiring from work, I'm not retiring those skills and still hope to put them to use with some form of voluntary work.  I live very near to Hardwick Hall which is a National Trust property.  They always need volunteers and I couldn't think of a nicer place to hang out in my spare time.

In the meantime, this is my favourite Jamiroquai song.  For me the words are deep and meaningful, and fit it well with my decision to leave work early because of the changes.  I hope you'll give it a listen - it may mean something to you too.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Groom did a selfie - with me!

This is the only photo I had taken of me at last week's wedding.  I was shattered and ready to leave so the groom grabbed the opportunity to snap us together before I scuttled off home.

I love the photo, as we're both laughing instead of pulling stupid faces.  Jo the lovely florist, who was also a guest and the most incredibly hilarious lass told me the secret of what the girls are saying when they pout on selfies.  It's POO!

Go try it - you know you want to!

I'm still here, honestly!

As it's been over a week since I last posted I thought I'd best check in and let you know I'm still around.

So much has happened since I last put fingers to keyboard and my time has been swallowed up.  I'm normally good at making opportunities to blog, but this time was different.

So, from the top starting May 23rd.....

  • The wedding.  Lovely but chaotic.  I was busy from 10am through to 9pm.  Photos in the hairdressers, getting the hair, make up and nails done.  The girls got back to the house just before me and were in their dresses before I'd got out of the car!  I missed the opportunity to photograph the dress hanging up, but did manage to extricate the bride from the chaos for all of 5 minutes to capture her alone for her best pictures.  On to the stables immediately after to collect her horse so she could ride it to the church.  Lots of traffic was held up as she made her way and she arrived like Lady Godiva.  It was a sight to behold I have to say and she looked wonderful.  I lost the plot for a few minutes and needed to lock myself in a lavatory (see, I knew that would happen!) but I regained my composure quickly and started again.  The relatives pissed me off as they wouldn't move back to give me room to take pictures properly outside the church.  Then someone decided to do their own personal photo shoot - right in front of me.  I have an image of a blurred Fascinator and a floral clad bum. There's so much more I could write on this, but I'll probably not post it, leaving it just a reflective note for my own eyes.
Here's one of my early edited photo's - 

  • Exhaustion the day after.  I hurt everywhere and had to get up around 3am to take painkillers.  I stayed in bed until mid morning then slowly melted into my day.  It was early evening before I felt sociable.
  • The editing began and is STILL on going!  I'm on intimate terms with with every crease and wrinkle of the bride, together with her sister, mum and mum in law.  I'm very conversant with blurring wrinkles in Photoshop now!
  • Half term, so I was off work, doing stuff at home and going places (including nearby Calke Abbey ).  This was not one of Grumpy Trousers best days as he argued with Joanna the Sat Nav.  So called because it has Joanna Lumley's voice.  Now, here's the thing; he absolutely ADORES Ms Lumley, but it was entirely my fault because Joanna chose to chuck us off the M1 at Junction 27 instead of 23a. (Might do another post about that).
  • Visiting elder daughter for the weekend in her beautiful town of Malvern, Worcestershire.  We had fabulous hugs and declarations of "oooh you smell nice!"  I took pictures of her doing yoga and some portraits for her new website.  I've not even looked at them yet, so I hope she's in focus.
  • Trying to make the best of any fine weather by tidying the garden at home.  Oh, the weeds...the bloody weeds!  Anyway, most are dug up and gone now to make way for some lovely geraniums and begonias.
  • Laundering everything in sight while the sun is out....curtains, duvets, cushions.  But I've STILL not washed my hard floors, so cat fur and dust lurks in all the corners.  
  • I'm still editing wedding pictures
  • I'm back at work

Coming back to work has been a revelation, let me tell you.  I'm now facing redundancy!  My official job title is Learning Centre Assistant, and this involves some library duties too but it's all going to change.  I absolutely love my job, I work with a really nice team of people and the majority of us are friends out of work too.  I enjoy the interaction with the teaching staff and get a lot of pleasure (and bit of grief!) in my dealings with the students.

Now we are facing a restructure and our jobs are changing radically.  Despite my age I really don't mind change, in fact I've often instigated it in the past but I don't see this working for the better.  I can't go into details, but think of future generations with even less social skills than now and you'll get the idea.  If I stay, I'll end up being a teacher on the cheap. I'll be taking on a role that I'm barely equipped for (yes, they'll train me but I have only one year before retirement, so realistically is it going to happen?) and they'll only pay me what I get now.  As a result not just a cheap teacher, but an EXTREMELY cheap teacher!  I don't want the hassle or the grief as I've had my fill of working.  I'd say taking redundancy is a no-brainer, wouldn't you?