Eternally Formal in a B.O Ridden Waiting Room

Thursday was the day I had to go to The Job Centre to confirm my claim for universal credit (oh the joy). I was dreading this little visit. Thursday was a hugely busy day and this was my least preferred part.

The location – Parking and walking through a down trodden part of Bradford was not my idea of a good time to start off with. The Job Centre is located on Manningham Lane; for those of you who don’t know this part of Bradford I strongly suggest you don’t take a trip there unless necessary. Everything looks scruffy, filthy and well past its best. It’s like the sun got sucked out of the sky and your soul is slowly being consumed by a black hole that waits and feeds on all glimmers of possibility. I’m so very glad that I had care for Delilah on Thursday, I will aim never to take my child to this soul destroying place.

I’ve only ever been to The Job Centre once before. I felt exactly the same the first time, this being four year ago when I found myself redundant for the first time round. I had dressed as I would for an interview, but most people in the vicinity looked as though they had rolled out of bed and not showered for at least three weeks. People wearing tracky bottoms, looking like they had taken a dump in their slacks and carried on regardless – the smell from some would confirm this to be true. The gentleman who decided to take the seat behind me (we were practically back to back) had an odour so strong I had to strategically place the back of my hand under my nose and over my mouth so as not to breathe in the stench. The rancid smell of body odour was the thing I remember the most from the last time I had to make the visit. The thing of nightmares.

“Stay positive” I kept telling myself “It will be over soon – you’ll have a job by next week” My pep talks got me through the wait as did the thought of the two interviews I would sit that very day. I was feeling decidedly overdressed at the start, but convinced myself that I would never turn up to any interview in anything less that formal business attire and this should not be any different, even though the rest of ‘the Job Centre Crew Massive’ looked like death warmed up. Even the email concerning the time of my ‘appointment’ called it an interview. First impressions are important after all!

I was utterly determined they would not treat like a twirp, and went in ready to fight back and burry the potential insultee with words. The last time I was there I was told I was over qualified so they couldn’t help me. Let me clarify that I was out of work for a grand total of two weeks, and the claim I put in (just in case) for job seekers allowance was rejected because ‘I hadn’t contributed enough national insurance’. This was an absolute joke of a comeback as I have been working and paying national insurance since I was 16. I know people walking straight out of school at 16 claiming everything and anything they could, but I couldn’t even claim JSA regardless of working my entire workable life. Anyway back to Thursday, I was finally called forward (ten minutes later than my stated interview time) and the woman who I sat with was lovely. She didn’t talk down to me which was my major concern and led me through what would happen after going over the obligatory security details.

As we were sat discussing the bits we need to, there was rather a large hoo-ha outside the neglected building we exist in. As in noise, plus police sirens. Well that was comforting – at least there was police sirens. The woman turned to her co-worker and said “wonder what drama we’ve got today?” I’m sat there thinking that that statement means it happens on the regular and I would rather be almost anywhere else but here. She swiftly bid me farewell after that exchange and I cautiously left the building feeling pretty relieved that this particular interview, in this particular place was over.

Walking back to the car, I had no desire every to step in that hole again. As I drove off of Manningham Lane, the darkness lifted and the sun peeped through the grey clouds. The sun was magnificent, all ready for my interviews that afternoon and evening.

Job interview #1. Yes, this was just outside central Leeds. I’d planned where I would park, drove there with plenty of time to spare. The car park I had planned to park in was rammed. There was no way in hell I was getting in there. So I Google mapped it to the nearest car park. I ended up in Leeds city centre. Which while driving, is my idea of hell. I am far too impatient and full of road rage to deal with a city centre I just don’t know – most especially on my way to an interview. I spotted an on street parking spot, abandoned the car and threw money in the machine.

I set of walking. This idiot had only parked a 25 minute walk away from where I was interviewing. Would have been okay, but my little detour into the city had cost me time. I had 17 minutes to walk a 25 minute walk. I called and let the appropriate parties know, but I hate being late and having to follow Google maps on foot is stressful. The clock in the top right hand corner of your phone screen getting ever closer to the time you are supposed to be there, the map counting down clearly outside the time scale you should be working to. The walk was allllll up hill, and I’m not even talking a little hill. I’m talking like a really steep hill. The kind you would cycle up if you were in training for The Tour De Yorkshire. Realistically I should have grabbed an Uber to my location to save me the stress, and by the time I got there I felt like I had lost 90% of my bodily fluids. I never sweat, I sparkle. I had a very sparkly face. I was completely blessed that I had thrown flip flops in my bag as well as wearing heels. Flip flops were my saving grace at this point.

Got to the entrance of the building I had been told to go in. There was only a bunch of construction stuff going on right outside it. I couldn’t use that door. I walked back on myself to the last door I saw, threw on my heels and started to wander the corridors of a huge, huge building. I was so in the wrong place. I talked to some guy behind a desk who looked at me as though I had just landed my spaceship on his cat, but he managed to get a hold of the lady who was interviewing me even though it seemed like I was in the entirely wrong place. Once in the company of the interviewer things looked a little brighter.

SO as you can tell, this particular part of Thursday was highly eventful, and it all happened before 1pm. I was so very pleased to get home to Delilah. I missed her the entire morning I was gone. It felt like forever being so away from her. The latter half of the day went swimmingly with no mishaps or parking errors getting to the second interview. Here’s to next week when I should know how it all went in their opinions.

XOXO, L

Advertisements

The Motherhood Penalty

It has come to my attention that The Motherhood Penalty is an actual thing.

There was me thinking I was the only one struggling with being made redundant on maternity leave and struggling to find a career to suit me now. The thing is, it isn’t just me. The Motherhood Penalty is REAL. We’re talking real pay gaps for mums in comparison to a non- parent counter parts, less promotion opportunities, held to higher punctuality standards than others. We are less likely to be suggested for hire than a less qualified woman without children. Just have a read at a few stats here (http://gap.hks.harvard.edu/getting-job-there-motherhood-penalty). Before you start, I know this article is full of American stats; but it is applicable for the UK and most likely a bunch of other countries too. There are plenty of other articles on the subject too. Read them, I implore you.

The last time I was made redundant I was in a new role within two weeks. This time, I’m 3 years more experienced. This time, I’m a mum. This time, it’s almost been a month already. As a society, it is our job to change this. As a mother who wants it all, it’s my job to hunt what I want down. Why should we settle for less than our counter parts? Those who choose to be dog owners are not penalised for their life choice, yet you have a child and that’s it. You certainly can’t have a career AND a family. You most certainly can’t do them both at the same time, let alone do them well. You must pick. You must pick one or the other. You can only be good at one thing – Family OR work.

That’s where I’m saying it needs to change. We are stuck in an archaic time. The stay at home mum suffers prejudice. It can be seen as old fashioned, lazy, and unattractive. “Gain a baby, lose a brain” this attitude spills out on to the mother who wants or needs to work, making it increasingly difficult to get back in to work. On the other hand, mothers who choose to have a career are classified as uncaring, lacking maternal instinct and cold. Working mothers have it hard. The guilt of having to pay someone else to help raise their child. Then there is the pay gap between them and their childfree counterparts, not to mention the problem of sourcing reliable and trustworthy childcare.

We have come so far with equality yet we are still stuck with The Motherhood Penalty. For some reason the work world thinks that us mum’s supposedly stray from competency after birthing a child. In actual fact we gain a whole lot more than we ‘lose’ (the only think I lost is my size 6-8 waist). We go through the most incredible process of carrying, giving birth, feeding and caring for a new born infant that relies on us for everything. There are sleepless nights and long busy days that follow including numerous visitors who want to put their grubby hands all over that precious new born, which you in turn have to politely but firmly warn off (which is a new skill gained for a start).

Mums are the most amazing creatures on this planet; and it’s about time that companies realise that if we choose a child adorned life, we probably have more to offer after having our child/children than we did before. We are peacekeepers, cooks, cleaners, mediators, matriarchs, admin assistants, PA’s, nurses (in the most relaxed sense of the word), transportation co-ordinators, activity planners, risk assessors, the photographer, the personal shopper and stylist, the confidante, the politician, the dietician, the CEO and the fucking skivvy. We are the whole god damn package, and some of us even stay up late to work on our passions too.

So keep up work world; we’re ready for equality amongst mothers in the work place. Let’s hope my new role (whatever it maybe) is up to speed.

Confident Kisses,

XOXO, L

The Reality of Redundancy – The 2nd Edition

I took a break for a while from blogging with the full intention to come back. Initially it was for other writing. I was concentrating on a new novel idea when I had the steam to do it. More recently things came to a head with my work situation. I was made redundant (as if you haven’t already guessed that from the post title). My professional contacts are aware now, as are my family and friends.

So I find myself two months away from my 30th birthday and I am redundant for the second time. I am a new mum finding it hard to come to terms with the fact I’m going to have to pay a lot of what I will potentially earn to childcare. I cannot get my head around it. I’m going to work (when I find my vocation) to pay someone else to look after my child. I find this a difficult concept. I love spending time with my little one. It’s been amazing getting to be with her, and watch as she has developed.

Let me get one thing straight, I want to work. I am ready to find my career, to rock it like the boss I actually am. I’ve never been one to shy away from hard work, I’m organised, and I thrive in an office situation where I can be in control, but have a little friendly banter. I work best when I’m left to it and I like feeling that I have contributed to something bigger. I love to see projects through and I can’t wait to get back into work.

Why Me? – This is the questions that runs on repeat in my head, and if you’ve ever been in the redundancy boat you’ll know exactly what I mean. I feel like in administration I’m on the most at risk list from the start. Working in a smaller family run business is where I found my place and each of the small family businesses I’ve worked for made me redundant. So what? Am I cursed? I am ready to have a little job security over here!

If you’ve been in the boat you’ll most likely agree – they say it’s not personal; but when it’s you losing your job, your income, the people that you considered a second family because you spent that much time with them and the fact you actually liked, no scratch that, LOVED the job you had; it is personal. Not for them, not for their business but for you. Redundancy is a highly emotional process and it hurts. Going into it the second time round is no easier than the first.

The Job Hunt – When you put out feelers on LinkedIn and on Facebook. LinkedIn was utterly helpful. I got a ton of hits on my profile, lovely messages of support and potential job leads. I even got a beautifully comprehensive email saying that I would be the perfect candidate for a position, the only thing in that director’s way of offering me the job was the fact I’m based at the other side of the country. Relocation is not an option, although the email was a perfect booster for the bashed ego and I appreciated the email, most especially on a down day.

Putting feelers out on Facebook was somewhat of a mistake. As soon as I did, I was tagged in cleaning jobs, shelf stacking work and weekend jobs – don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the sentiment behind the tags. AND I really don’t mean to sound ungrateful, or snobby but I have a degree and over 6 years of office experience under my belt. I am not starting at the beginning again. There are nothing wrong with these types of jobs, but I’ve been there before and I got stuck in retail straight out of uni and I’m trying my best to avoid it. It’s just not my thing. I really want something that can grow into a career for me.

Job sites, brilliant for searching. Employers sometimes don’t get back to you, or they take an eon and this can be really demoralising. It’s okay if you’re only applying for a couple of things. BUT when you are on full out on hunt a job down mode and you’ve done a bazillion applications for administration based rolls and one person calls “I’m calling about the admin role you applied for” … Take it from me, even if you’ve kept a spreadsheet of everything you’ve applied for (yes, guilty) it’s still difficult to keep track when someone calls with that opening.

Recruiters – I know them. I’ve worked with them. I’ve used them to get hired before. In the most part they are great at their jobs – it is slightly annoying when they call with a perfectly interesting role. They sell you it, it sounds perfect and then they add (after signing you up for an interview) that it’s full time hours even though it clearly states in your CV and your profile that you are looking for PART TIME to fit round the family. It’s the ‘Oh I’m sorry’ or the ‘Never mind’ that gets you in the gut and makes you second guess what you can get out of a new role if you only want part time. And all because they didn’t read your requirements. Come on you brilliant people, you’ve got the gift of the gab but the research side of things could use some work. I guess us (the applicants) are just numbers and a hefty commission cheque for the recruiters, but again this IS personal – I AM NOT JUST A NUMBER.

The Network Marketing Draw – We all know I’ve dabbled in network marketing. I played with Jamberry and did well with it for a while, and I’ve been signed up with FM world since March time but I haven’t really pushed it. I keep thinking I should give it more of a go. A lot of people fake it to seem like they are making it in network marketing and that’s really not my style. I don’t fake. I’ll have to give it a shot as a hobby and remind myself it’s certainly not a vocation for me. It can provide lucrative if you are that way inclined, but I don’t feel like it’s for me at this moment in time.

Thinking Positively – That’s what all the guides say. Stay positive. It’s just a newly opened door for a better path.

This is all good, but I’m having down days and up days. Yes, it is important to stay positive but the reality of this is it’s not so easy in practice. On paper it is, but battling the internal monologue is the difficult bit. Especially on redundancy number two. Again the thought process of “Why Me?” springs up.

I am using this opportunity to go for something to suit me and to grab a new beginning with both hands. I am ready for a fantastic career, I am ready for the financial abundance that is coming with my new vocation and I am thankful for the opportunities that are waiting for me. The skills that I have accumulated from my work means I can apply for a more senior position. I get to choose which direction I want to take my career in next. I am excited to see where this path takes me.

So that’s where we are, a totally mind dump of a post. I hope you are all well, and I cannot wait to catch up with your blogs. As always, thank you for reading you beautiful creatures – I am eternally grateful for my audience.

All the positive vibes.

XOXO, L

The Home In My Head

We’re so close to having the deposit for our first home it’s driving my creative side a bit scatty. My Pinterest feed is full of home decor and I have build myself a perfect picture in my head about how our home is going to look.

Ideally it’s going to have a gated garden, which undoubtedly will have a drive way and a garage (mans want, I really couldn’t careless about a garage). I’m having a porch too. Finally a place with some hooks for coats and some shoe storage to boot because coats slung on the sofa and shoes by the door is unavoidable in the place we are currently living.

Living room will be simple in colours. I’m thinking mostly white and grey with hints of pink and copper. Pictures from Pinterest (where else?!).

This will need to be an ultra functional room, so I’d be all for a wooden style floor which is easy clean. Great big rug in the centre with a mix of different textured textiles all over including some lush green plants. I adore the more glam copper against the the simple white/grey.

The heart of the home is definitely the kitchen. I cook, every day and every meal if I’m at home. It’s rare that I don’t. I really like the idea of dark coloured cabinets with light colours counter tops. I’d like to carry a theme through the house as well, and at the moment I’m going for the hint of copper.

Copper pipe shelves in this picture (again from Pinterest) are beautiful. I love the idea of having heavy copper bottom cookware lined up on the shelves. Favourite spices on show and living herb pots (herby teacups) on show. Double oven, yes. Gass hobs, yes.

I’m not overly fussed if we end up with a kitchen-dinner or a separate dinning room. Either would be perfectly good in my mind. I’d love a dramatic dinning space, darker colours but carry the copper again. This pallet is perfect (Pinterest pic).

There it is, an insight into the decor of the home in my head. Well at least the first floor. I’ll save the upstairs/bedrooms/bathroom and offices for another post.

What’s your ideal? What palette would you pick?

Xoxo, L.

Sandy Toes

After a leisurely morning we took a trip out to Formby just by Southport.

Man and I went once the year we met, but it’s the first time we’ve been back. It’s such a beautiful place, I’d be happy to live on the door step of Formby. The houses are beautiful, the type that are huge with double garages and a gated driveway. Probably well out of our price range (for the moment). Anyone wants to give us a house there, we wouldn’t say no!

The beach is hidden away by a woods and sand dunes, so it’s a fair walk. With pram and bubs it’s a killer walk, especially in flip flops on the soft sand. Dela wasn’t overly sure of sand when man put her straight in it, but a few moments of sand discovery late she loved it. Touching, patting it, crawling it and putting it in daddy’s shoes.

Our day in pictures

We had a down pour as we walked back to the car. Under the tiniest umbrella we didn’t get too wet, Dela of course was okay under her rainhood on the pram.

Happy, sunny, sandy Sunday.

Xoxo, L

A Flicker of A Sweet Memory

It’s funny what you remember when you miss someone.

My Nana passed away sometime ago, while I was still at university studying (fat lot of good that venture did, but that’s another story). My dad’s mum, my nana was a larger than life character. Mum of boys, larger drinker, lipstick wearer and experimental cook. I knew I got my attitiute for cooking from someone, and I’m so giving my nana some of the credit.

I can’t even tell you what made my mind wonder to her sausages and flying saucer eggs today, but I found myself laughing as I remember dinner times at her flat. It was a smokey affair, she chain smoked when she chatted but because she had the window open as she did it, of course it wasn’t that bad (we would cringe now). Anyway, I digress. She owned a George Forman Grilling Machine. Or, in her words “George Formby Grilling Machine” she loved the thing, and it got used a hell of a lot.

My brother and I were always fussy with what we ate at nanas house, mainly as the older she got the more interesting the combinations became and the more the food tasted like smoke. She was however, a fabulous cook in her hay day. We ended up having chip pan chips, homemade of course or pancakes, finished off with crisps, chocolate and yogurt. All healthy stuff! My dad was subjected to actual real dinner, and this particular night was rather spectacular. I remember her wafting through the living room with dad’s plate in hand before plonking it down on the table. On the blue and white crockery was a breakfast for dinner. A staple of her household and very much enjoyed.

On dad’s plate there was a fried egg (sunnyside up), tomato, beans, bacon and what looked like two burgers. My dad stabbed one the burgers and held it in the air asking what it was. My nana asked him what the hell he was playing at waving that sausage about. We were hysterical, well all apart from my nana who was completely confused about the laughing. Dad asked why it was so flat, so she demonstrated her Formby Grilling skills in the air at the table.

She’d only gone and put butchers style (the really chunky, fat kind) sausages in the grill and squashed it down until the machine cliped shut. She returned to the kitchen to put her own meal together.

In the meantime there was the fried egg. Same meal, same day. Dad struggled to cut the white of the fried egg so picked it up to see what was going on. Turns out this egg had been fried to with an inch of it’s edible life. It stayed perfectly flat as he picked it up. He starts making his idea of UFO noises as the yolk balances on it’s white plate like shelf with a slight yellow wobble. Again, both me and my brother fell about laughing while dad tried to put back on a straight face as nana came to the table with her own dinner.

I still remember the smell of her pressed powder, the shade of her lipstick, her choice in skirts and how she always wore a pinny over them. Her kindness and patience. Her spoiling us and caving to our every request for sweets as children. I remember having to watch the snooker when it was on because she loved it but then she’d let us watch the Simpsons over dinner time and let us sit of the sofa instead of at the table with our food. I miss her, her accidental funny anecdotes and the liverpudlian twang that still remained from her younger years in her voice. The raspy cough and the way she would order herself two halfs of larger instead of a pint just because it wasn’t lady like to order a pint (but it was okay to sit with two drinks).

I miss her – photo from my 18th birthday meal. A day of mixed emotions, I lost a dear friend that exact day.

What sweet memories do you hold of a missed love one? I’d love to hear a story or two.

Xoxo, L

In Hiding

I hid from the world today.

Anti-social side came out and I actually avoided going out doors. Uncharacteristic at the moment as I go out every day. I am, for sure, on a down day.

I’ve changed up my workouts which was an undoutable win. I was shuffling about on YouTube and found some amazing yoga and HITT workouts that made me sparkle (I don’t sweat, I sparkle). I’ll be picking this up again tomorrow as I really enjoyed it.

However, yoga sequences are kinda difficult when you’ve a child climbing on you. Having to watch a Yoga tutorial from downward facing dog with your media player up high so the baby can’t grab, then having to fend her off when your doing a warrior pose – believe me it’s a workout within a workout. I’m aching regardless, means it’s working though right!

Strange fact of the day, turmeric in porridge (almond Milk, not cow’s) mixed with a little cinnamon and soya yogurt actually tastes half decent. I’m not talking tons of the stuff, just a 1/4 teaspoon in 1/2 cup of oats. Pretty good, and yellow as aposed to any form of pink or purple porridge makes a refreshing change. Turmeric is a fab antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties too, so great to add in to your diet. Who doesn’t love an antioxidant.

I’m going to work on my mood, I really don’t relish the thought of being down.

Xoxo, L