Thursday, 15 May 2014

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Is planning all it's cracked up to be?

Planning.  Love it or hate it?

People think I'm good at it.  They tell me I'm efficient and organised.  (Admittedly 'they' are mostly people I've worked with.  Family may be laughing into their sleeves at this while looking meaningfully at the knitting needles stuck down the side of the sofa and the ironing pile teetering alarmingly on the armchair.  And have you seen the state of my greenhouse recently?  No?  Just as well.)

Ahem.  But seriously, I do appear to be able to get things done in a seemingly ordered fashion, and on time, most of the time.

But I don't really plan.

OK, so the easy stuff is planned.  Rough menus for the week's main meals, shopping lists, that kind of thing.  Those things just give a nice easy framework to follow so I can stop thinking at the end of the day and just cook what the list tells me.  It frees up brain space.

But planning for big things: life goals, enormous work projects?  Nope.  I sketch out a rough idea of what might happen, and then mostly just wing it.  Flexibility is everything, because stuff always happens that you didn't foresee and you have to deal with it.  Too much navel-gazing beforehand and you've used up half your working time in thinking and planning.

I know the saying goes 'fail to plan: plan to fail', but analysis is boring and winging it is easier and much more fun.

I can hear people out there disagreeing with everything I've just said.  Love planning?  Go on, tell me why!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Things to do in May

Remember that feeling of whizzing down a hill on your bike?  Go on, try it again. It's magic.

Do you know what cow parsley smells like?  Walk down a country lane this week and you'll recognise it.

Hear the sound of the ice cream van?  Go on, you know you want to.  I won't tell.

Who says you have to wear gloves when you're gardening?  Feel the compost between your fingers and know something real.

Sunshine beckoning you through the window?  Follow its call.  Your brain and lungs will thank you.

May is a whole season in itself, but it's brief.  Don't miss it.

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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Life stops for migraine

I don't like talking or writing about migraine.  Just thinking the word makes me feel as though one is starting.

I hadn't had one for almost ten years, until last night.  Then, of course, it arrived when the husband was away overnight and I had to get the boy up, dressed and out to school while I was almost incapable of doing any of those things myself.  Fortunately he's of an age where you can say to him, "get dressed" and "get breakfast" and he will.  After a fashion, with much mess and distraction and stopping to cast spells or run naked up the stairs.  Or suddenly become a spaceman ninja (no, I don't know either!)  And fortunately, we live in a village community where I have only to ask and another mum willingly adds one more to the number of children she's escorting this morning.

There are positives and negatives when it comes to working at home and being ill.  There is no boss to convince that yes, you really are ill and, no, you really can't "just do this one thing..."  But the flip side of that is that there isn't anyone to take on the workload when you crawl back to bed in a darkened room.  The work will still be waiting when you crawl back out again.  So in many cases the boss (me) can be quite insistent!

Fortunately I learnt from another boss many years ago the rather mercenary-sounding phrase, "you're no use to me when you're ill.  Go home and get better."  (I think he said it more eloquently and definitely more politely - he is a very eloquent and polite man - but that's how I quote it to myself.)  So I didn't feel at all guilty about getting back under the covers this morning and, as a result, managed to do something vaguely useful, though not very taxing, this afternoon.  If I'd struggled on for the morning as well I doubt I'd have got any further.

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Saturday, 10 May 2014

Living and working at home - a friend's perspective

She was employed in the same job for four years.  When I asked her what she did, she said, "nothing, mostly."  She sat at a desk and waited for noon so she could eat her lunch.  She stared out of the window in silence.  She went to the toilet for something to do.  She may be exaggerating, but she claims she could have done the amount of actual work she did during those four years in a week.

Now she's a self-employed, home-based childminder.  She can never sit still; there is always someone needing attention, or food, or collecting from somewhere.  Silence is a foreign concept.  She has to fit in stacks of paperwork in the evenings or while the children nap (if they do).  Going to the toilet by herself is a luxury.

Life has improved immeasurably.

She is using her brain again, and even the degree she worked so hard to earn, planning educational activities, keeping records, arbitrating disputes, negotiating and all the million other things that make up her day.  She is there for her own children.  She can choose the days she works and can decree Thursdays as her day off without having to ask permission - or change that if circumstances change.

Working at home may not be an easy option, but then again, how attractive is the easy option anyway?  Especially if the easy option is boring you to tears.

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Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Work-life balance

A Bank Holiday weekend brings a houseful of small boys.  With them they bring...

... a need for endless meals, snacks and drinks
... superhero costumes
... random snatches of song
... enormous amounts of energy
... occasional tantrums and sudden tired, grumpy sulks
... sunny smiles and mischievous twinkles
... grubby knees
... scrapes and grazes
... cute mispronunciations (I hope I am always known as Aunty Wiz)

A day back at work after the Bank Holiday brings...

... measured, adult conversation about serious things
... the ability to focus on one thing at a time
... strange, but very welcome, silence
... the opportunity to sit for hours at a stretch, thinking hard and writing long complex sentences
... a social requirement to control the urge to sing, or dance, or announce to all and sundry, "I need a wee"

Work-life balance in action?

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Thursday, 1 May 2014

A fabulous day

Today did not hold (for me at least) any tropical island sunbathing, spa treatments, or even glasses of wine or new shoes.  But it was a good day, and it's good to notice the fabulous days even when - especially when - they're ordinary.

Today's fabulous ordinary (or should that be ordinary fabulous?) included:

Completing a tedious piece of work I'd been putting off.  Phew.

Writing an article I had the idea for weeks ago, and being pleased with the result.  I love writing.

Holding the boy's hand as we chatted on the way to and from school.  He doesn't do that very often - he's a big boy now.

Deciding against making the complicated dinner I'd planned and whipping up egg and chips instead, giving me more time to read my book.  Bonus.

Special doesn't have to be out of the ordinary.  Today was special because I truly enjoyed everything I did.  Even the tedious bit, because I knew it was going to be over soon!